Saturday, May 31, 2008

...what makes me sadder...

I don't know what makes me sadder - that I absolutely had to boot up my computer and check both email accounts and my boyfriend's blog or that there was no new email or blog to read when I finally got there.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hunting for...something better?

I'm not a very good hunter...maybe if I was hunting animals, I would be, because I latch onto the one that I want and can't stop thinking about it, pursuing it, planning how to get it. When it's houses I'm hunting, I'm not sure that my very high level of attachment is an asset. I saw 5 homes Wednesday night and I'm completely bereft at the thought that we're not going to buy the one that I fell in love with.

The first one we saw was really lovely and I thought it was perfect. The second one we saw needed a lot of work to update it, but was very large and could even have 1-2 more rooms added in an extra tall crawl space later. The third one is barely worth mentioning, although it's interesting that it's the same builder and layout as several we have liked - this one only had 3 bedrooms though and just seemed much smaller and cramped. The fourth was perfect for us. And the fifth was god-awful with the messiest paint job I've ever seen in day-glo green and orange. So, with 3 possibles, we spent a lot of time looking and comparing and #4 has all the great qualities we're looking for:
  • move-in ready (no major work needed)
  • space for a video/gaming room with a door
  • a good kitchen
  • nice master suite
  • plenty of room (2500 sf 5 bedrooms)
  • ample bathrooms (3 and a half!)
  • living room and family room (in addition to video room)
  • great entertaining space
  • enough room for children and parents
  • outdoor space that could accommodate a small garden for me and a run for Chibo
  • front porch and back deck
  • we'd be above our neighbors, so they wouldn't be looking in on us
  • two car garage
  • not too many stairs coming into the home (interestingly, it's right across the street from the home we loved best that had too many stairs!)

The negatives are:

  • over-priced
  • not so handsome outside (although I think we could paint trim to spruce it up)
  • electric range (although realtor said he'd get the gas line extended for the range)
  • master bath upstairs not as nice as some we've seen - just a regular shower/tub and a single sink instead of a double sink with a soaking tub and separate shower -- I could deal with this though for the rest of the house (and there is a soaking tub in the downstairs master which would be the video room)

I can't think of any other negatives, although I know A could probably come up with more. He's very thrown by the fact that this house has dual master bedrooms. One on the main and one upstairs. For me, I love this, because we can move his or my parents into the master on the main if they need to live with us at some point or we can move down there when our children are grown enough that we want space from them! To me, it's a win-win situation, but it's fairly weird for him. And if both his and my parents needed to live with us, in addition to the master on the main, there is another bedroom on the main. We'd probably use it as an office in the meantime, but even with a full house - both our parents, ourselves and 2 kids in their own rooms, we'd still have an extra bedroom that could be used as an office, a livingroom and separate family room - I think this is more than enough space for now and the long term.

I cried in the car because I'm pretty sure A is not that motivated to buy. It's very frustrating because I want so much to begin living together instead of all this back and forth that I find draining (when I'm not even the one going back and forth!), but he seems content with the status quo. And then I feel guilty when there is so much else going on that we need to focus on: our parents' health, my business, him finding a new position. I guess I just feel like having a home together gives us such a stronger foundation for facing the other challenges and crises in our lives. I just have to keep breathing and remembering my mantra: if not this, something better.

If not this, something better...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The One That Got Away

What a weekend. Reinforced one lesson for me: leave on a high note. Unfortunately, I may have overstayed this trip just a smidgen - I found myself complaining just a tad more than telling fun/funny stories. That's how I know when I've stayed too long. It was fun and there are many funny stories to tell, though. Here's my Top 5 for the weekend and one funny story that goes back a bit further:

1. Playing Cribbage - 2 player, 3 player and 4 player! At the cabin and home with Jefe.
2. Playing ImagineIff - what a fun game!
3. Getting to sing quite a bit of karaoke - and especially hearing A have such fun with his signature song: Karma Chameleon (which my gay friend later described, without knowing A's particular fondness for it, as the gayest song ever!)
4. 55 cent tacos from Bandito (not even on the mountain, but still a vital part of the weekend) followed by homemade blueberry frozen yogurt
5. Getting to know several new friends - which leads me to the story that goes back a bit further:

So, once upon a time, there was a time before A when I was Internet dating, as we call it. It started when I first moved to P____. I was moving here with a couple and wanted to meet some people right away so I started talking to people over the Internet before I got here. Well, I met an amazing guy and had a ready-made boyfriend by the time I arrived in town. My first night here, he took us out for delicious pizza, showed us the city lights by night and took us dancing at a fun blues club (oxymoron?). Though my ready-made boyfriend and I didn't last even long enough for me to get moved into my new apartment, the experience was generally a good one, so I kept Internet dating sporadically for the next several years.

One person that I met online seemed really nice, but also was clearly not ready to be dating yet, having only recently gotten out of a long term and serious relationship. I don't actually remember why we never met in person, but I recall that we both seemed to think the other person was pretty groovy, but something wasn't right, be it timing, chemistry or miscellaneous. Later, I was pretty sure that I saw this person come into the store I was working in as a cashier. I said nothing, wondering what the point would be.

Meanwhile, I had made a new girl friend that I really liked. As we got to know one another better, she told me about her most recent long term and serious relationship. It was like dejavu - I felt like I'd heard a similar tale before. It didn't take us long to make the connection that she was the ex-girlfriend of the man I described above! Boy, was I ever relieved that I hadn't gone out with him. And my relief was ten-fold when she told me I would meet him in person this weekend as he was coming along on our vacation, too. They are dating again and I couldn't be happier for them as they seem to compliment one another.

So, in addition to being glad that that one that got away, I'm so glad to have met and made another new friend, as I hope that he will turn out to be.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

So we're heading off to the mountain today to spend the weekend in a cabin with 10 of our closest friends. Many couples, only three discreet bedrooms - wanna race?

It's surprising how much I stress about vacations. I think it's partly because I haven't really travelled all that often and don't feel like I'm really that good at it. It's one of those things where I never know that I have everything I'm going to want/need. And even if there are stores where I can purchase the things I forgot, it feels strangely like a failure if I didn't bring it in the first place. One of the things I love best about A is that he doesn't mind if I take a really big bag even for short trips - well, he may not love it, but he doesn't give me a hard time, make fun of me, or make me carry/tow/stow my own luggage just to prove a point. This whole airline charging for baggage thing is going to really impact my comfort level with traveling, but I've always wanted to travel lighter, in general, so I guess it will be that much more motivation to get good at it.

So, I'm heading to the woods for a weekend of games, good food, camaraderie and hopefully safe thunder and lighting. Thunderstorms predicted. My packing list includes:
  • Really comfortable full coverage pj's (one of the great things about cold weather per previous post)
  • Socks and underwear
  • Daytime pj's (that is, yoga pants and T-shirts)
  • Something to wear outside, in case A convinces me, despite my better judgement, that this is a good idea
  • Toiletries
  • Swim suit (for hot tub) and towel
  • Zip hoodies and fleece jacket with rain shell
  • Sneakers and sandals
  • Camera
  • Games (Boggle, Apples to Apples, Yahtzee)
  • Snacks (peanut butter filled pretzels, cheese popcorn, yogurt covered pretzels, energy nuggets, crackers, hummus, tabouli, cream cheese torte)
  • Lunch foods (mac and cheese, fake-meat BBQ riblets, fake corn dogs, fake-meat sausage, green beans, oranges)
  • First aid kit - because you never know

And since the dog is also going on vacation over to Aunt-Ree's, he needs:

  • Raw meat food, dry food
  • Water and food bowls
  • Bed with blanket
  • Playpen gate
  • Bone
  • Toys (ball, rabbit)
  • Sweatshirt
  • Collar, retractable leash and regular leash

Yeah, that's probably too much, but it's all in a small pack, so it's going with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Best Things About Cold Weather

Warm, comfy pjs
Hot cup of coffee
Good book

Too Much Tuesday

There was a period when I was growing up when my mom used to bring a little gift every week. I'm not sure how or why or when this started, but it was definitely during puberty because I remember ear rings and makeup were sometimes gifts, although there was a stuffed animal or two in there. She used to give them to me on Tuesdays, so we called them my Tuesday gifts. I don't remember and I hope I never got to where I expected them. I remember just appreciating them so much because it was just for me from my mom. I had three large loud brothers and our father was definitely the heart of that pack, so it was nice having something just between mom and I. I could have used a Tuesday gift yesterday - it was a rough day, although also rather inspiring.

I find I want to recap all the details of the day, but it's pretty boring stuff - basically, I primed and painted for most of the 12 hours I was at the clinic yesterday. I took 1 break to walk the dog and use the toilet a the nearby park (we have a toilet, but my partner has yet to put the bathroom door back on), another break to get Taco Bell which I also ate the nearby park, several short breaks to let the dog stretch his legs, and one break from painting when my other partners arrived in the evening and we talked colors and drove to the paint store which was already closed. So, I basically painted for I would say a minimum of 8 hours yesterday. I primed three rooms and painted a double coat of color in one and the clinic is starting to take shape.

The common spaces (reception, hall and group area) and all yellow, which may in fact be the same color as my living room. Our medicinary and bathroom are a bright pale green. We had gotten this sample of a yellow that turned out to be way too bright to use, so we painted the ceiling of the shower that color and it's great - very bright, a funny memory and visible only to us doctors (the shower is a separate room off the bathroom). The other colors are not finalized yet, but I'm picking up samples today and if they're a go, they'll probably be painted by the time I get back Sunday. We've picked two shades of orange for the treatment rooms - the two main rooms will be solid of each of those colors and the surgery will be two tone of those colors. We also needed color(s) for our office and couldn't quite decide on one, so we picked three to sample and may use two - a lovely gray, soft green and deep red. The names of these colors are, respectively, immunity, refuge and brainchild. I think the gray is in either way - it's just a matter of which color accompanies it - I'm hoping for the green, but the red is also nice.

The dog got me up early, but I'm trying not to go in too early before our 1 o'clock meeting. I'd rather go to the bank looking like a human being and not a paint monster. My knees are all bruised up (red, black and blue), my back hurts (picture: hunched over) and I had spots and splotches of paint all over myself yesterday, so I'm going to wear clean clothes for my meeting and change into painting clothes afterwards. I can't wait for my mountain retreat this weekend - hot tub, here I come!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sometimes I Should Just Stay Off the Phone

Last night I was totally bossy and bitchy to two of my closest friends. Why does this happen? I'm a pretty nice person, but sometimes things just drive me crazy. It's like I have to be right. And I really believe that I am, but beyond that, I seem to want them to agree that I'm right and they are wrong. I don't know that I want that, but it's the only way to explain this behavior. I get all upset, rant and stop my feet, tantrum and maybe even vent (to a about b and b about a) for what?! Nothing.

A. I don't want to be a person who gets upset easily. Serenity is one of my core values and comes, for me, from peace, tranquility and equanimity. I consciously cultivate equanimity, but it's challenging in the face of ... well, challenge.
Solution: Take 10 deep breaths whenever something disturbs my equanimity and think before reacting.

B. The first thing that got me upset was the most dripping gossip I've ever heard. Really ravishing stuff, really shocking, but something I think was probably to the good. My friend who relayed this information to me took a position on it that I found unexpected and disagreed with. I couldn't just disagree and let it go, though - I had to pontificate until she came around to my point of view. Two things that I have been telling this person she does: 1. plays devil's advocate to a degree that is annoying and 2. let's me (and others) bully her and affect her opinion too much. But her doing the former does not justify me doing the latter and I'm annoyed with myself that I took that opportunity. (As well as the continuous opportunities that I take to tell her that she does and is doing either of the two above things - it's not my job to tell people what I think their problems are.)

Solution: Take 10 deep breaths whenever something disturbs my equanimity and think before reacting.
Solution: Let other people talk and just listen.

C. The other thing that really upset me (which was probably related to being on my cell phone for far longer than I should) is hard to describe in euphemisms, but it basically comes down to feeling a little left out. A friend did something with another group of people that he'd talked about doing with me. It's something kinda lasting and means that we can't do it for several years. And I've been invited to join the other group. No, it's not sexual or team-sports oriented and this is not a riddle for you to try to figure out. When I spell out the terms of this upset, it seems like I'm just being a jerk, because I was invited in. I just want to stick to my guns and have my friend do it with just me even though it may not result in the same benefits.

Having come of the B conversation and moved right into C, I first ranted about B then the C started. I tried to end the C conversation, but it kept coming up because it was really affecting the conversation (that's hard to explain in euphemism) in general, so I ended the phone call with some (unexpressed) regret. Now I feel guilty for hanging up on my friend and being so annoyed. I've been alone at home for several days with not too many social plans and maybe I've liked that a little too well, because at this rate, I'm not sure I'll have any friends left.

Solution: Take 10 deep breaths whenever something disturbs my equanimity and think before reacting.
Solution: Let other people talk and just listen.
Solution: Recognize opportunities for learning, growth and change - be open to change.

A few deep breaths while writing this have really helped. Now, moving on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We All Scream for ... Frozen Yogurt?

I have an ice cream maker and a swimming pool. Life is good.

I'm not sure how I became obsessed with getting an ice cream maker, but it was all I could talk about for several weeks. I told everybody. Then I went out and bought myself one. Many thanks to Ed and Jo for their generous graduation gift (from last year) that helped defray the cost of this lovely machine. It's a big brushed nickle box that takes up more counter space than any of my other appliances and despite learning that it just freezes the ice cream faster (yes, you could make home-made ice cream without it), I still love it. It has a big bowl that you freeze for 12-24 hours in advance then it turns so the ice cream is stirred and has the consistency of soft serve. So it's not exactly the same as if you just froze it in a container in the freezer.

So far, I've made 4 batches of ice cream, including one that was so unmemorable as to be not worth description, a coconut milk ice cream that was too sweet and rich (but delicious), a banana and peanut butter concoction that was pretty good and finally, the best so far, blackberry frozen yogurt. WOW! I never knew frozen yogurt could be so good. My batch was tangy, but sweet, delicious, delicate, and oh so cool and smooth. I'm interested in vegan ice cream, but I'm not sure that I can give up frozen yogurt now that I've discovered it. It's simply that good.

Here's the recipe I used, though I claim no credit for it - it's a melange of recipes I found online:
  • 2 cups fat free yogurt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 ounces fresh blackberries - frozen slightly then blended and strained to remove seeds - had to add some water to blend, so ended up with a lot of puree

Processed the blackberries then added all ingredients together, refrigerated until ready, then put in machine, turned the switch and 30 minutes later: voila! Fresh blackberry fro-yo. With my first taste, I was simultaneously thrilled at the tangy deliciousness and hopeful that my friends would also like it, but they assured me that they have learned that fro-yo is supposed to taste like that. They also recommended a fro-yo restaurant, but I can't find it online, so I'll have to go low-tech and get the address from them. More on my adventures in ice cream to follow.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Note to Self: Paddle Upstream First

Went kayaking today in the Tualatin River. There's a put-in really close to my work. Unfortunately, you can't travel very far upstream from that put-in, so we paddled downstream first then turned around and came back. Needless to say, despite the very slow current, we had a harder time coming upstream. It was fun though and I look forward to spending some more time in that river.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Hardest Day I've Ever Worked

I would like to say that today is the hardest day I've ever worked. I got up this morning about 6:30, did a few emails and phone calls then headed out about 8. Drove to A's house to pick up a few things (UPC for rebate and paint rollers), stopped at Subway for a breakfast sub (if you haven't had one, they're pretty great - egg and cheese with all the veggies!) and drove downtown for a chiropractic appt. My chiropractor, ironically enough, injured his back and wasn't there - since I hadn't updated my phone number I couldn't be too mad. Then I drove to my clinic where I began the never-ending paint project.

I know that my partners are going to be painting alongside me soon enough, but having done most of the taping (A helped) and all of the painting that has occurred so far is disheartening. I look forward to bribing friends with pizza and beer to come help paint. Today's project was the bathroom. It involved not only painting, but more taping, sanding (using an electric sander), multiple ladders, something I've never seen before called 'orange peel' and pulling down the covers over two bathroom fans (read: dust in eyes). About 6 hours of painting all told. Standing, kneeling, on my tippy toes, on the step ladder, on the painting ladder, twisted around to get behind me while on the ladder, with my arms over my head to get the ceiling.

I have sore spots on my right wrist, my hamstrings, the middle of my back between my shoulder blades (rhomboids, for those of you interested in anatomy) and the backs of both arms. I'm looking forward to just ordering a pizza and watching Beauty and the Geek.

I would like to say that today was the hardest day I've ever worked, but hard as today was, especially for someone with a sedentary lifestyle like mine, this wasn't the hardest day I've ever worked. It's made harder by the prospect of repeating several more just like it and over time, that might push one day into a slightly harder place than the actual hardest day I've ever worked, but so far the hardest day I ever worked remains, by a long shot, The Day I Detasseled Corn.

In the Midwest, despite the abundance of immigrant farm labor (no slur intended, just fact), detasseling corn remains a job for high school students. Year after year, they recruit students from neighboring communities to spend their days working their asses off in the fields - it's a great racket. We weren't used to better wages, so we thought a couple hundred bucks a week for working 12 hour days in the sweltering sun getting burns and hives was pretty good money. Teenagers have tons of energy so this helped them use it up in a productive manner, probably resulting in lower rates of vandalism, drugs and sex among that age group for that time - would've just been too tired. I'm sure parents loved that - it's like paid day-care for teens. I signed up one year - thought I'd make a few bucks, give me something to do. My brother B was doing it too and I always wanted to do whatever he was doing.

Since we only had one small cooler between us, we decided that one of would carry the cooler and the other would carry the water jug. Only thing we didn't count on was that we would get separated and have lunch separately. So I didn't eat. The whole day. 12 hours. Detasseling corn. And he didn't drink. The whole day. 12 hours. Detasseling corn. I also didn't have gloves. I never detasseled corn again. And I was more sore at the end of that day, even with my young, vibrant, teenaged body than I am today. I guess that's looking at the bright side.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just to Send it on Down the Line

Working a 40 hour week this week.

Yesterday worked my normal day/hours/section, today thru Friday covering for my boss that quit. New boss may come on next Monday. Schedule comes out confirmed on Wednesday, so I'll know for sure by tomorrow. This is what I hate about my retail job: the scheduling. Even though my company has a lot of protections in place, the schedule comes out on Wednesday for the following Sunday thru Saturday, so unless your schedule is set, you really can't plan that far ahead. Now, I can't complain that much because my schedule has been set for the past 8 months and was pretty well set before that, BUT... still bothers me this month not to know for sure what's happening.

And when my boss started asking me, "oh yeah, and do you know how to do this?" I (not-so?)smartly replied, in front of the store manager, "you don't pay me enough to remember all these things." Her pay range is much higher than mine, but I'm expected to be able to do her job when she's on vacation or quits. I understand that's kinda how things work and that there are things she knows/tracks/does that I don't, even when I'm working for her, but it does seem like a double standard sometimes. Usually, I just take my lumps on this one and it's fine, but I'm dreading going in this morning, because there is EXTRA work for me because 1. I'm covering for her, 2. we had a really busy week last week and didn't finish everything, and 3. the person who covered for me this weekend did not do the normal work that I would have done nor the work that my x-boss had left for him to do.


In addition, I'm cat-baby-sitting and this cat is super needy and meows all night long. Since I also have a dog and a tiny apartment, it's not working out very well. I can see the wear on the carpet from the gate I'm using to separate them and I can see the strain on myself and my dog due to my spending time "with the cat" (which is really just "in my bedroom," but since the cat is confined there, I'm inevitably with the cat). This morning, while I took the dog outside, the cat jumped the gate and was in the livingroom when we came back in, resulting in another big bark-fest from the dog (at 6am) and now I'm worried about noise complaints!


Okay, I'm going to breath, eat a good healthy breakfast, do what I can at work, come home and enjoy walking the dog then go sign a lease for my new clinic.