Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And the Four-Car Garage?

I started looking at houses today. 
I’m so excited!  Not.  This is an investment property, and I’m not sure I want to sink my money into a rental house.  I’m giving this a chance, though, because everyone says that Utah real estate is the best way to invest my money.
We looked at two properties.  The second one was a little hard to find – MapQuest was even a bit inconclusive; but I go running in that neighborhood sometimes, so it isn’t totally unfamiliar.  After much turning, and turning some more, I led us in procession(Chuck, Susan the real estate agent and I) to number 7722.  It is rented, and the tenants preferred to be out of the house when we arrived. 
We knocked.  No one greeted us except the pit bull, calling from the back yard.  They had not locked up and we walked right in.  The place was a dump.  The flashing sucked.  An attempt to update the drywall in the kitchen had not been finished.  The circuit box was not up to code and had little capacity.  The plumbing was pretty bad and the tile was coming unstuck from the grimy bathroom wall.  I could not believe that they wanted $230,000.00 for a mess like that, but it had only been on the market for a couple weeks.  The price will have to come down.  However, it does have a four car garage with extra height.  I want that so Chuck can have some workshop space that will hold his sailboat. 
“Well, not impressive, but let’s go look at the garage.”
Chuck said, “There’s no garage.” 
“Yeah, there’s a huge, tall four-car garage.” 
“But it clearly states that there is a …” Susan and I huddled over the ad once more. 
“Yes!  Right here, in black and white, there is a…”  I backed up and looked at the house again. 
Oh, shit!  Wrong house!  We needed 7722, but the next block WEST.  We had been peering under the sink of, checking out the closets of, breaking the circuits of, criticizing the bathroom tiles of a complete stranger’s house, which was not for sale. 
Beeline to the cars!  We were just about to succumb to a fit of the giggles, when Susan said, “Oh, my God.”  Good real estate agent that she is, she made sure the house was all locked up tight, and left her business card on the kitchen counter. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wild-Eyed Woman Emerges from Forest with Empty Wine-Glass. Video at Eleven.

I stated in Six-Word Saturday that I had blocked out the entire day all for myself.  I had actually booked my selfishness in advance. You’d think that, given that level of foresight, things would have gone at least somewhat as planned.

What was I even thinking?

I know what I was thinking. The kids are with their dad this weekend.  A day of housework. Gardening.  A nice long workout.  A meal for two. 

No.  Simon had a conflict getting Nate to his soccer match, and I agreed to help out.  A long drive followed by a long wait for his coach and teammates.  It took about 40 minutes of waiting, texting, and waiting some more to find out that the match had been taken off the schedule.  Long drive home.

No sooner was I in the door, thinking, well, that was a waste, but only an hour and a half has disappeared from my idyll, the phone rang.  An old, old friend of Chuck’s was coming through town with his wife and kids. 
Have you ever done this? 

Said: “How wonderful to finally have the chance to meet you!  Yes, we’d love it!” 

Thought: “What will I feed them? We don’t have any beer.  Is the bathroom clean?  Will Chuck get home from coaching rugby before they arrive?  Would it be gauche to scrub out the fridge while we visit?”

And of course, we had fun!  They are friendly, gregarious people; the wife is an English as a Second Language teacher, like me; she and I lived in Central Europe at the same time; their kids are cute.  As far as surreptitiously sneaking in a lightweight chore while chatting?  Forget it: the two-year old found me to be an ally and then wanted me to himself for the rest of the visit.  If I got up from the floor, where we were playing Lego and trains, for even a moment, he would follow me.  “P’ay wif me!”  So I did.

When they left, it was four.  I put away the Lego and restored the trains to their shelves.  I had just put my hands on my hips, blew my bangs off my forehead and looked around when Chuck said that our friend Cliff and his kids might come for supper and to spend the night.  Would that be OK?


As it turned out, Cliff had other things to do and didn’t come.   I did cook a meal for two, which we ate out on the deck for the first time this spring.  We filled our glasses from our last bottle of wine and strolled through the forest, watching the dying light on the canyon walls.
No, I did not have a meltdown about the violent death of my plans.  I don't melt down much.  However, I found myself wanting to apologize to Chuck over and over.  For being selfish.  He was confused about how doing household chores could be construed as selfish.  My response is that the self-directedness of the day is the selfish part.  

Do you ever just crave a day with no demands but your own to meet?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Six Word Saturday

[Pathetic that there has been nothing written since the PREVIOUS Six-Word Saturday...But!]
Today's all mine!
Let puttering commence!

Monday, April 15, 2013

APB for "Flying Pink Elephants"

Hey, there, Elephants!  I have to contact you in this kind of ridiculous way:  my Internet is crap; and I can't figure out for the life of me how to leave a comment on your blog!  I've looked at it in confusion several times. 

ANYWAY...  I wanted to say, "Congratulations on finding a new home!"  Also, I know you have traveled to the Iberian Peninsula, and I would love some travel advice!  If you get a minute, would you be willing to e-mail me? 


If there are any other readers who have visited northern Spain and have advice, I'm all ears! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Coffee Shop

I'm hanging out at Beans and Brews:  my little Friday ritual while I wait for Nate to finish soccer practice and bemoan the lack of reliable Internet at my house.

Today, I am joined by Sara, who would be at her own soccer practice; but moments before leaving the house, she kicked a chair leg with her baby toe.   Do we all know that feeling?  After much deliberation and walking around the car in both regular shoes and cleats, she has tearfully decided that practice today won't be happening.  She has a game tomorrow, so she's stressed about it.  We'll ice the toe and pamper it a little when we get home.  In the meantime, she is slumped across from me, consoling herself with "Pets in the City Magazine" and a raspberry Italian soda.  Aw... it's all gone already!?  Don't worry Sara:  now that the soda is finished, you can stick your foot into the ice. 

Kelly Clarkson is playing, and the place is empty except for a guy who is clearly addicted to over-developing his lats.  Oh, and his girlfriend, who is sporting a perfect ass in a pair of yoga pants.  I can totally imagine that ass on me.   I'm sure it would make me a better person.

Sara is reading Tobi the rabbit's horoscope.  Apparently, he is losing hope and needs to try to be more optimistic.  Since Marianne has moved out of the house next store (albeit temporarily, according to her), we miss having visitation rights with all of Chuck's former pets.  Now more nighttime scratches at the door by Sally the West Highland White terrier.  We did get a phone message today from the vet.  "This is Animal House Pet Center, calling for Marianne W.  We are just confirming Sally's appointment tomorrow, for rehab."  The kids were appalled at first.  Probably just a pulled muscle, kids.  Or a cut paw.  Most likely not a drug problem. 
I am in a much better frame of mind than I was when I wrote my previous entry.  The sun is shining. The bright side of an early-arriving period?  It is now finished.  I held my plank position for 2 minutes and 50 seconds today.  Chuck turned the furnace back on, so I did not need to dig the wood out of the ravine.  We still have no Internet; Nate's computer is still on the fritz; my budget is still under sequestration.  But... I dunno...   Here I am.  Kate restored.  Kate loved.  Looking forward.

 I booked my ticket to Barcelona! 

This trip is going to be fantastic!  I didn't think we could afford it, but Chuck's family is offering us the air fares as a wedding gift.  The honeymoon is going to happen before the wedding, but I've decided that a certain level of disorder is healthy, right?

This much I know:  first two weeks of July;  northern Spain;  avoiding cities, except for a couple days in Barcelona.  We are taking the tandem and doing this as a bike trip.  Maybe not a move-from-town-to-town-each-day bike tour, though.  That's for the serious cyclist rather than the dilettante - I'm kinda thinking it would be nice to stay several days in some places and do little side trips.  I'm imagining a mix of intense physical activity, romance, lounging, eating and sightseeing.  Any of you out there who have ever hung out in northern Spain, please weigh in with advice about places to stay, fun things to do, and ways to stay off the beaten track.  Those you who I know are seasoned travelers, I will perhaps pursue and ask for advice.

Whoops.  Soccer practice is over.  Later! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

So Blue

I am struggling today.  My jaw feels like lead. It would hang slack if I would let it.   I just want to sleep.
For the last three nights, I have fallen into bed and into a sleep without dreams.  I wake up seven hours later, feeling exhausted.  Chuck falls asleep just as quickly.  I know this sounds silly, but I really need the few minutes that we lie in bed at night and talk before we fall asleep.  We usually laugh about something and poke each other and act like idiots.  Trivial, I know.  But without that, and without a kiss good-night, I wake up in the morning feeling like I’ve been in bed with a stranger. 
The rain is bucketing down.  The streetlights are on.  We are out of firewood.  Chuck has turned off the furnace for the year.  The house was 61 degrees when the kids and I left this morning and there is no prospect of any sun to warm it for days.  There is some wood in the ravine, cut but not gathered in last year because it was green and needed to season anyway.  If I want fire tonight, I will have to don rain gear and get that fucking wood out of the ravine and get it split.
I got my period five days early. 
I weighed myself this morning.  I gained another pound.  That’s three pounds in three weeks, despite loads of exercise and the careful eating.  I am now the heaviest I have been in my life.
I could not hold my plank position this weekend. I pulled a groin muscle doing an exercise that I have done uneventfully many times. 
I ache all over from the intensity of my workouts.  I tried to run today, but I just couldn’t stand it:  the sore muscles;  the rain, forcing me to run inside when I would have preferred to be outside;  the stupid music on my stupid iPod, which I haven’t changed since 2010 and won’t have the money to change until God KNOWS when?  I left the track in disgust after about ten minutes.
Scarlett got out of her cage on Friday and spent most of the day chewing on stuff while Chuck and I were out.  She climbed onto my buffet and chewed it as well.  I have a lot of cheap pine furniture, but the buffet was different:  the one nice piece I got to take from my old life.  Both Scarlett and Tobi have chewed on my cheap pine furniture and I have been mildly annoyed, but I must admit that I cried over the buffet.
There is no Internet, and I don’t think there will BE any Internet.  We are into the sixth week without access.  At the end of February, Digis had a person climb one of their towers and slightly adjust one antenna to get a superior signal for 2300 East.  When that antenna was adjusted, Wasatch Resorts lost everything.  We have begged and pleaded and yelled and shouted and they will not move the antenna back.  There is no other Internet provider that serves our little neighborhood. 
The real estate agent sent me some more listings.  I need to look at them with Chuck, except getting him, me and an Internet signal all in the same place at the same time seems to be an insurmountable task.  And we are back to my terror of buying a house and losing my shirt in the process. 
Last month, Sara’s computer was on the fritz.  This month it’s Nathan’s.  His is kaput and he blithely assumes that his dad and I will replace it without batting an eye.
Thanks to sequestration, I have to Cut, my budget, which has been cut every year since 2009.
Here at my work-station, my keyboard tray is held onto its under-the-desk brackets with a bullfrog clamp and a bent paper clip.  Or it WAS, until someone who doesn’t realize how fragile it is didn’t handle it properly. Now, I jam it into its brackets and hold it in position with my knee. I get my knee to the right height by propping it on the ankle of my other foot. 
I wonder if there is another job for me out there somewhere?  One where the answer isn’t forever “No” and the keyboard tray doesn’t drop into my lap? 
On NPR the other day, they mentioned the national median income.  I earn significantly less than that.  Here I am with a master’s degree and a job that requires multiple skills and a hell of a lot of responsibility; and I am pinching pennies every month.  Car registration.  Propane.  Computer virus.  Taxes.  Savings goals.  I realize that I’m lucky to be able to save toward a goal at all.  And I also realize that I am where I am because of the choices I made.  I am still enough of a wienie that I want to buy myself a new toenail color.  Or some new tunes for my iPod.  Except I can’t access iTunes, anyway. 
Hey!  The streetlights have gone off.  Things are looking up. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Navel Gazing on a friday

Whew!  Nate is at soccer practice, so I am seeking refuge in a Beans & Brews.  I buy a small Chai and use the Internet.   At home, we have had slow access or NO access for over a month.  It's so frustrating, especially now when we are trying to make travel plans and all the rest.  There is only one provider that can serve households in the Canyon, and we were really happy with our service.  But they decommissioned a tower, and unfortunately, it is the only tower with a sight-line to our house.  They keep promising that they are going to commission a new tower that will work for us. Uh, in a few weeks.  But, like, they aren't sure?  We would drop them and get a different provider, if there were another option.

Well, here I am, so I should stop whining and start writing.  I bought air tickets to Wisconsin today.  In August, my kids and Chuck's son will fly to Madison, and we will meet them there.  We will drive out a couple of days ahead.  This will accommodate their busy teenage schedules, spare them the long car  trip and allow Chuck and me to take the itty-bitty sailboat.  You know what this means...  the wedding is going to happen!  I have just spent a THOUSAND DOLLARS!  For a cheap-skate like me, THAT'S commitment. 

We watched the movie "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" the other night.  Now Chuck will occasionally hold me as we drift off to sleep and say, "The asteroid is coming.  What are you going to tell me?"  Sometimes I have things I want to tell him.  Mostly, though, I know the truth:  I have told him everything in my heart already.  If the asteroid comes, I just want to hold him and stroke his hair.  That will be good enough.

Last Friday, I started writing about my past a little.  Here is my topic for today.

What toys and games do you remember from your childhood?

I had an imagination and loved role playing.  When I was in early grade school, we played "Emergency" in the school yard.  If you are American and in your 40s, you may remember this TV show.  There were these two cute paramedics... remember?  At any rate, the locust tree was the hospital.  Kids would pretend to be in horrific accidents and others of us would be ambulances, running out from under the tree to bring them in for treatment.

Dad made up a lot of role-play games:  cowgirl-rides-the-bucking-bronco (I broke my arm playing that game, though; so that was the end of that); lion tamer; child-eating shark.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly boys; so we did a lot of fort-building, baseball, touch football, bike riding... My brother and I had a tree house.

We had a kite.  Jolly Green Giant.  I grew up in a pea-packing town.  I don't know where my dad got the Jolly Green Giant kite, but it flew ridiculously high.  It also came with a Little Green Sprout.  Remember the Little Green Sprout?  Jolly Green Giant's little sidekick!  He was a plastic dude with a parachute.  Once the kite was in the air, we hooked Little Green Sprout to the kite string.  He would slide up, up, up the string.  When he reached the kite, he would release and parachute to the ground.  "HO, HO, HO!  Green Giant!"

I had a doll named Emily Elizabeth.  My mom thought that was an interesting coincidence, as she had almost named ME Emily Elizabeth but opted for Katherine at the last minute.  Emily Elizabeth had a molded plastic head rather than hair.  And after a while, her eyeballs got corroded.  Looking back, I wonder:  what were they made of?

I LOVED books!  I was a very early reader who showed my love in the early years with crayons.  Most of my favorite books still bear the scribble marks.

Almost time for me to go and pick up Nate and head back to the web-less Canyon.  Bo-hoo.

How about you?  What were your favorite toys and games?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Hey, click the "Chats on the Farmhouse Porch" link on my sidebar and hang out with Patrice for a little while.  Here  are her questions for today.

What did you do for Easter?
No much, as far as Easter traditions are concerned.  My kids have outgrown egg-coloring.  You know what that means:  maybe next year, I will get a whole dozen and do them all myself, to make up for the years I had to help the kids color theirs grey-ish-brown.  I did bake my annual Easter Babka, in recollection of the years I spent in Poland.  My son still mispronounces this so that it sounds like "vodka".  As in, "My mom always gives us vodka for Easter."

How bad were you with candy or treats? (On a scale of 1-10. 1 being good, 10 being sugared up)
Didn't touch anything.  Well, OK:  a coworker gave me four malted milk eggs today, and I ate them with gusto.

What's one of the first things you'd like to do when you have consistent spring temperatures?
Plant my cilantro!  Lettuce!  Spinach!  Peas!  I bought the seeds yesterday, but the weather has turned a bit cold again.

How are you at gift buying? 
I am an underachiever.  There are certiain people who are great gift-givers:  the risk-takers; the observant people; folks with great memories.  And they like spending money.  I am broke and cheap.  Want a second-hand bike helmet?  Maybe a re-gifted pen?  Soap on a rope?

Do you have any projects in mind for the month of April?
Let's see.... Sara and I are going to run her first 5k in a few weeks.  Should be fun.  I signed us up for the Salt Lake City 5k because it is big and crowded with lots of loud music and freebies.  What else... I have a training that I have to conduct for people who administer a particular type of English as a Second Language test.  And my English program is being audited, so I have to make sure everything is neat as a pin in anticipation of that.  And there are so many cans I need to keep kicking down the road:  trip to Spain, wedding, Grand Canyon trip...  So much work and planning coming up!  Stay tuned!

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Ends in Pictures

First thing I see when I open my eyes:  a hot cup of tea, placed on my nightstand by Chuck.
Chuck and I took the tandem out for a morning ride.  This picture is bad because the brightness of the city below contrasts with the shadow of the mountains.

Einstein's, for breakfast.  He's eating like a slob on purpose.  I promise.

Time to make Easter Babka

These are not out of sequence.  I'm multi-tasking!

The weather was so warm that the Babka could rise out on the back porch. 

Time to do a little woodpile husbandry.  I raked up all of the bark and chips and sawdust and pushed them down in the ravine behind the stacking area.

I don't exactly know the provenance of this huge metal basket.  Chuck has two of them - he thinks that years ago, they may have formed a protective cage around a machine of some sort.  We used one of them for cook-stove wood last winter.  Really, we need to fill both of them if we want to cook on wood all winter.  I cleaned this one out except for the beefiest pieces of bark, then dragged it under the side porch, where it will join its partner and get filled with cooking wood.

Time to get the Babka in the oven.  Preheating...

Chuck brought me these!

I had to go here...
...To get these!  A bunch of regular grocery stores have stopped selling bean sprouts!  WHAT!?!  I guess they are unsanitary?  How the hell is a girl supposed to make Pad Thai?

Nathan dropped the "F-bomb", so he can't play with any gadgets for three hours.  This is the moment when he was released from his exile.  He actually waited up on our bed, because that's where I set his laptop down.

The budget for next month is not looking very good.  Bottom line:  my discretionary spending is $74.83 for the month.  More on that in my next entry:  Budget Babe.