Monday, February 25, 2013

Slog, but now with more progress

In a continuation of Saturday's activities, I headed back down to the basement yesterday and spent several hours going through boxes and putting things in piles. It snowed some (6") and it was blowing around, so I decided to stay put, cook (cookies and soup) and keep going on the basement boxes.

I'm pleased to say that it wasn't as hard emotionally to get through the rest of the boxes, and that I have indeed looked inside and sorted every box down there. Phew! I have a tally:

7 boxes of files from school and previous jobs that will get recycled
8 bags of trash
12 bags/boxes of stuff to be donated to Goodwill

I need to buy some more plastic boxes, amazingly. There were things that were in cardboard boxes or just in bags, like Mr W's stuffed animals and artwork from school, that I want to put in plastic for long-term storage.

An aside. A couple of years ago I went to one meeting of a book club here in town. While there, I was chatting with a guy whose apartment was in a building that had caught fire (big story, still unresolved). His stuff didn't burn, but a lot was damaged, A) by smoke, and B) by the SPRINKLERS. He said he had stored stuff in flip-top plastic boxes, and that if he had used the kind that have a solid, one piece lid, a lot of his stuff would have been OK. That thought has stuck with me and if I have to buy plastic storage boxes, I get the ones with the one piece lid.

The plan is to move as much as possible into what I call the furnace room, which is dry, but dark and cellar-like. I have a (more or less) finished room as well, that's about 12 x 20, and I want to turn that into usable space. The ceiling is kind of low, but it think it will be nice to finally have another room that Mr W can use if he's got friends over.

This is an idea I saw on Pinterest for making a rug on the cheap out of carpet samples:

She bought some good seaming tape and taped the wrong sides together. I imagine there are bolder colors out there that would make a fun rec room rug.

Feels good to be making progress, but it'll feel even better when it's done. And then I can move the contents of my kitchen down there when it's being remodeled! ;-)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A bit of a slog

In preparation for these alleged home renovations that may be coming, I've been going through the boxes in my basement. I took a lot of boxes when my dad moved out of the house where I grew up. I also have several boxes of pictures, letters and mementos, and have saved a bunch of Mr W's stuff.

It has added up to a lot of boxes.

Since I haven't gone through the stuff since my divorce, I have just now thrown away (or given away, or recycled, as appropriate) things I didn't want anymore that pertained to shared memories from when I was married. This has been weird. I saved pictures of me and Mr W's dad, and put them in the box of his mementos, but I don't want them. I mean, he should be able to see his parents' wedding picture, right? At the same time, it feels like throwing away a part of 15 years of my life. A bit of conundrum, but it felt like the right thing to do with all the things I jettisoned. I still had all the response cards and some invitations from my wedding. And all of the greeting card-type cards we received. I recycled all that stuff.

One thing I'm particularly grateful for is that when I was away at college, I exchanged letters with people. My sister, and my mom too. I'm so grateful to have these kind of mundane documentations of our lives. I have lots of letters from friends too, and kept just about all of them. It makes me want to try to get back to writing letters. It's such a deliberate thing, writing letters. I found a picture of my younger brother and our mom at his high school graduation, and will send it to him and write a little letter to accompany it.

I also found a copy of the last thing my mom wrote, when she was very sick and knew she wasn't going to make it. It was divided into practical things, saying to return things to stores that she had purchased (that's how fast it happened - six weeks. We were blindsided), the songs she wanted at her funeral, her request not to have any heroic measures to prolong her life, and then a couple of lines saying how sorry she was that things ended up like they did and that she loved us all very much.

I felt like someone punched me. I howled in my empty house. But it doesn't change anything. It's in the past and it is done. All I can do is honor her memory (my sister's, too) and live a well-lived life. I was still very sad for a while.

It was a lot of loss to feel in one afternoon. Although I've been working on the boxes for a while, there were a couple today that just got to me. But I keep telling myself there are a finite number of boxes, and once I've gone through them, I can put them away and be done with it. But the process of going through the boxes and organizing the basement, as well as proceeding with the remodeling, they mean something. There's a process underfoot and it's supposed to happen. I don't know if it's finally an acknowledgement that I am really truly on my own (but taking care of myself) or what, but suspect it will become clearer in hindsight.

Thanks for reading this ramble.

Lucky me!

Sniff-sniff (in the good way). I am the very pleased beneficiary of Susan's generosity. I entered her Valentine's Day poem contest and was picked as the winner (randomly). Here is my Valentine's haiku:

I've seen so many
pictures of hearts and flowers
Almost the 15th

I WAS weary of all the mushy stuff this year. Anyway, I received a fabulous-smelling bar of handcrafted soap, as well as a handknit towel! I know the stuff is supposed to be used (fer cryin' out loud) but it's hard to use stuff that is so nice. I'll try my best.

When I first opened the package, I had the soap close to the edge of the table. This was like a magnet for Sally the dog, who is tall enough to have her nose on the table. She paused for several seconds, "drinking in" the smell with interest. Funny. 

So, thanks, Ms. Susan! You made my day. Now I shall think of a way to pay this forward.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It begins

I'm having two contractors come to the house today to give me estimates on my home improvement projects. Hopefully there is common ground between the three things I want done and the resources I have to do them. They both do work on old houses in my neighborhood, and come on good recommendation.

The first project is to update the kitchen with new cabinets, probably a new stove (but I could keep my fridge), a dishwasher (which I don't currently have), new tile, new floor, new window.

Second project is the deck on the side of the house I've been going on about for years.

Third is to fashion another bedroom out of the existing unheated (but enclosed) front porch, and a bit of the living room.

If there's anything left, I want to cute-ify the front of the house by adding some wood trim. Probably need to paint the house, too.

We'll see how far the money goes. I'm meeting with a money person tomorrow to file the paperwork to refinance and pull some money out to pay for the renovations. If I do these projects, it's going to add an amount equal to the cost of the projects to the value of the house. Maybe more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I like the last part best

I agree with the sentiment of this xkcd comic. But I really identify with the nerdy group who are talking about giant squid. Am seeking more such groups to chat with. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Small thing garbage can update

Picture perfect placement yesterday. This is the end of the day and the cans were put back exactly where I set them out that morning. I'm standing in the alley, my little driveway is on the right, as is my back door.

Maybe because it was Valentine's Day.

Geesh, my alley and gardens are not pretty things this time of year. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Small things like my garbage can

This is a small funny thing. It's Thursday, which means it's garbage day. I live on an alley, and haul my garbage can the short distance from over by the garage, to a spot NEXT to my driveway and on the alley. You know, so I can get out of my driveway and go to work.

About 80% of the time, the garbage-takers will put my empty garbage can not in the spot it was in, but right in my driveway. This means I have to stop in the alley, get out of my car, and move the garbage can so I can pull into my driveway.

It happens with such frequency that there's a little paranoid part of me that thinks they do it on purpose. Then I think, "No one is that petty, are they?" It's these little things that present us with a choice about the degree to which we will get tweaked out about the stuff that happens to us, methinks.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm trying

I am trying, with this Valentine's Day thing, not be one of those people. You know, one of those people who (as I joke that I will do) wear a black arm band on February 14th. Or host/attend anti-Valentine's Day activities. Or generally badmouth love in general, and romantic love in particular.

This year it is HARD. My goal is to let the day pass unacknowledged, and for some reason all the declarations of love bug me a bit this year. I don't think people are being particularly obnoxious about it, but that I'm sensitive to it.

Instead, I'll try to broaden the kinds of love that can/should be acknowledged on Valentine's Day, so my kid and my dog get a few more smooches on the tops of their heads.

But I'll be glad when it's February 15th.

Here's a bit of heart art I found. It's embroidered. Link is here.

Edited to add:
This is my weekly horoscope from Freewill Astrology:

This Valentine season, I suggest you consider trying an experiment like this: Go to the soulful ally you want to be closer to and take off at least some of your masks. Drop your pretenses, too. Shed your emotional armor and do without your psychological crutches. Take a chance on getting as psychologically and spiritually naked as you have ever dared. Are you brave enough to reveal the core truths about yourself that lie beneath the convenient truths and the expired truths and the pretend truths? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

What the weekend is for

Poof! There goes another weekend. It was my kid-free weekend, but Mr W had his birthday party over at his dad's, so I helped shlep kids around and watched the opening of the presents. It was fun.

I went to lunch both days with friends I haven't seen for a while. Everyone is busy. It is cool to see several of my friends moving up through the ranks of their professions. Friend J's dad recently passed after five months of hospice care for neurological decline that I don't know was ever defined to everyone's satisfaction. She (the youngest of four kids, two of which are local, as were/are the parents) was the highest-functioning one in the scenario. Discussed things with love, but not sugar-coated with her dad. Supported her mom who in her stress and grief didn't take as good of care of herself as she should. Informed her located-elsewhere sister (who tends to be a bit eccentric anyway) that plans after her dad's death would not include any of the things the sister wanted, but all of the things the parents wanted. Eesh. She is strong, my friend J.

My other friend D is an assistant principal at a high school. Keeps her busy for sure. She had wanted to sell her house and move this year, but after looking around in her price range, it seems people are staying put and there is a dearth of options for what she wants. It's a problem that will likely fix itself in the next year or so, but the situation was such that she's going to stay put and have some renovations done so when she sells it, it's worth a little more than it is presently.

It was good to catch up with friends.

I've been trying to make some jewelry, but have sort of stalled. There's plenty of stuff in my Etsy shop, and I haven't had a sale in a month. I tried some new styles of necklaces, but I'm not sure if I like them. After the holiday push, I feel a little ambivalent about pouring as much time into the process (much of which is promotion). Whereas before the holidays, I spent a lot of time getting ready for craft fairs, I feel freed from that and haven't had trouble finding things to do.

I want to put more time into practicing the banjo. I'm reorganizing the stuff I have stored in my basement. That project is only about 30% done. I have lots of paper stuff from past school and work that seemed important at the time and should now be gone through and recycled. I have to be in the right mood for doing it (not just papers, but all this stuff) because I can tend to throw it all out, or save too much. I want to be somewhere in the middle.

So my kid-free weekends have lately been spent on this stuff: socializing, banjo practice, cooking for the week ahead, exercising the dog, doing house stuff. I guess that's all good. The proportions need to be tweaked so I can get done with the basement because I'm going to be putting things down there if/when the kitchen renovation starts. That should be some motivation.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bargains that are not

This is a post about underwear. Nothing untoward will be said, but I'm going to talk about bra purchasing, so you've been warned.

I shop for bras rather infrequently. I find a style that works and wear it. And wear it. There comes a time, though, when things must be replaced, so I went down to the fancy "lifestyle center" (i.e. mall) to shop at Macy's. They, surprisingly, didn't have much of what I needed, although if I was willing to spend $50 on a bra, they had me covered.

I ended up at good old JC Penney. They recently redid their pricing model so that they don't really have sales anymore, but purport to have "low everyday prices". Thus I have stayed away, thinking that the prices probably aren't that low. I was pleasantly surprised, although I thought it was quite possible that after seeing $50 bras, seeing ones for $21 seemed like a bargain.

Even better (so I thought) was that they had a big rack of clearance bras for $5. Five bucks!! Long story short, I tried on about 150 bras (that may be a slight exaggeration) and ended up with four sale bras at $5 apiece and one regularly-priced one for $20. I was smug.

Fast forward to actually wearing them over the last couple of weeks and it turns out that the style of each and every one of the sale bras is such that the strap on one side slips over my goofy shoulder and down my arm. I hurt my shoulder a few years ago, and since then my left shoulder has a bump on it, that once the strap goes past that, it sliiiiiides. *sigh*

The one regularly priced bra is fantastic, though, and this weekend, I'll go back and get a couple more of those and then I won't have to think about buying bras for another couple of years!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Me and the boys

I've been playing boardgames with a group of people (many but not all from the church I go to) for the last few months. This has been a lot of fun, and I love the table talk and social aspect of it. I also like the brain exercise to learn the strategy and have confirmed over and over to myself and others that I am more of an altruistic player than a cutthroat ruthless competitor. Maybe over time I can work on this, but winning doesn't seem to be the point for me as much as others, so why not just enjoy the game?

I've wanted to have some games around the house since I started playing with the group, and yesterday took Mr W to the local game store to get a few. He had one in mind called Munchkin, which seems to be aimed squarely at teenage boys (and pre-teen, too) so I bought that. We played it yesterday, and it was fun. 

I also bought one of the Timeline games. Actually not the one pictured above. There are several and I think I got the original one. I love the idea of it, it's educational without being pushy, as you learn the dates of important discoveries and also where they fit into the scheme of things because the point of the game is to guess where your card fits into the timeline (without seeing the date). 

And I also bought a game called Carcassone, which is described as a "tile-based, German style board game". Funny. I saw it being played once by others in the gaming group, and it wasn't too pricey (some games were $70.00!) so I got it. 

But what struck me was that Mr W and I walked into this shop, and there were perhaps 8 tables set up for people to play games, and they were everyone of them, occupied. By males. Teens and adults, but all boys. I was the only girl in the shop. I know this likely isn't news to people who love board games and have done them for awhile, that board games are largely the bastion of geeky guys, but it seems to me there would be much to gain from getting girls/women involved. Social skills and interaction, and for the girls (I'm thinking teen girls) strategy stuff. Something for me to think about. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


It's almost the weekend! This week has flown by at work. Things are pretty busy, but good. I go at my own pace most of the time, so I don't feel like someone is breathing down my neck waiting for me to finish so they can do something.

I did have sort of the opposite happen though. Something that can happen when four people are working on the same project. We are processing mosquitoes that had blood-fed, so one part of the project is for someone (not me) to dissect off the abdomen and analyze the blood to see what kind of animal it came from, and another part is for me to get the rest of the body, shake it in a tube with a copper BB and this liquid, and extract DNA to do my population genetics thing.

I've got a process that I've made little improvements on over the years. It's something that I can turn on a podcast or audiobook and chug through for a couple of hours and do what I need to do. Yesterday, I'm about 20 tubes into the process (out of about 100) and the numbered tubes in one box end with 393. The numbers in the next box start with 401. Hmmm.

I look in all the boxes again. I go downstairs and look in the freezer where the boxes of tubes are stored. I cannot find the tubes. I email my coworker and she says she'll try to find them. She's busy with other things, so I didn't hear from her for the rest of the day. I'll try to track down what happened and we'll figure out whether to just skip those, or wait and see if they can be located. It doesn't really matter. As long as the parts of an individual are in tubes with the same number, things will match.

Having just read this post, it's pretty boring, work related stuff. Ha! Oh well, more exciting things will be posted about the weekend. I'm thinking of dragging Mr W to a squaredance...