Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sometimes coffee isn't just coffee, it's an HELL

Over the past 2 years, I have had the chore of finding, evaluating and hiring contractors to fix up the seemingly endless lits of things going wrong with the house. First of all, I have had very little experience doing this. Peter was a Mr. Fix it sort of guy and did most projects himself. The only project we ever hired out was when we changed the location of the water meter cemented into the foundation floor. Some things you just don't mess with. Secondly, I always worry that the contractor is going to try to take advantage and overcharge me, or tell me I need things I don't really need. So the process involves getting a few estimates from the contractors who even bother to show up, ( you would think in this economy that they would be glad for the work?) decide to trust the ones that are all in the same ball park and then just going for it and praying they show up to do the job promised.

When I got the bathroom redone last year, I decided to use a friend of a friend whom I had heard terrific things about. I got his verbal estimate, told him that it sounded great and waited, and waited, and waited for the written contract. I called and left a dozen messages over a weeks time. He called me back once to tell me it would be mailed out shortly. I never got the contract nor heard from him ever again. Unbelievable! After that fiasco I try to use friends and friends' family members when possible. At least that way, they won't be able to fall off the face of the earth and presumably have a vested interest in completing the job in an appropriate fashion.

So the roof has been the latest project completed. The mason is showing up today...(it never ends...sigh) The roofer was the brother of one of my neighbors. He called me up at 7:30 pm to see if he could come over and go through the estimate. It seemed harmless enough. He wanted to bring me a coffee which I declined. He insisted and showed up with coffee in hand. We went over the estimate in about 15 min. 2 1/2 hours later, he has inappropriately shared WAY too much personal information, not least was, that he planned on leaving his very sick and emotionally damaged girlfriend of 6 years. The message clearly was that he wanted me to know that he was available, for more than the roof job. I realize this was NOT going in a good direction. But he just wouldn't stop talking, his run ins with the law, evictions by his landlords, a stabbing, it just wouldn't stop and frankly, I was stunned into inaction by all that he was disclosing. I hired him to do my roof...! Finally at the end, even he admitted the inappropriateness of the situation with his comment that "you needed a roof and I guess I needed someone to talk to." As I close and lock the door behind him, breathing a sigh of relief, I think OK, surely everything will be back to business as usual. He must have just had a bad day. But the next day he showed up with more coffee and a big smile, and said he was looking forward to spending more time with me, as he touched my arm.

Now I am NOT interested in this man, especially after what happened the evening before. But apparently he has interpreted my tolerance of last nights interaction as interest? And then he does the worst thing a man can do when trying to date a woman with kids. He tried to get on my good side by trying to get the kids to like him. He brought them doughnuts. Who does this guy think he is, showing up to my house buying my kids junk food without my OK? You just don't do that. You don't get to a woman through her children, you get the honer of meeting a woman's children after you have already won her over. I don't even know this is the third time I have ever met him. So I found myself in the strange situation of needing to break up with my roofer. I kept on wondering if I was reading the signs wrong, but really that was just wishful thinking. It just goes to serve as a reminder that even indifference can be construed as interest. Like the song says you do have to be cruel to be the right measure though in this case it does not mean that I love you.

All this drama when all I wanted was freaking roof! (which in his defense, was done beautifully.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The early bird catches the worm....or so I am told.

I've always been a night person. The evening is my me time and it has always been the most productive and precious part of my day. The problem is that I never get enough sleep. I used to be able to easily get by on 6 hours a night. But as the years go by I am noticing that 5 and 6 hours just doesn't cut it anymore. I find it so hard to stop what I am doing and put myself to bed before midnight. So I am trying a new approach. I am going to try to make myself a morning person. I'll make myself get up at 5:30 in the morning every day until I start going to bed earlier in the evening out of shear exhaustion. Hopefully, this plan will throw me completely off my game so that my body will not realize it is 10:30 at night and I'll at last be able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour for a change.

I am totally intrigued with the concept of greeting the glorious sun as it pulls itself up over the horizon. I am certain that I will be much less smitten with the idea tomorrow morning, so wish me luck with day one of the experiment. Or maybe wish my children luck with me....they might need it more. The entry is short and sweet's almost midnight. I'll have only 5 1/2 hours if I fall asleep RIGHT NOW. sigh.......

Stay tuned for more on the contractor front.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A girl, a dress and her Guitar Hero

I had a fabulous day today. After dropping off my youngest at our friends for fun in the sun, Sienna and I went shopping for a dress for me to wear to my cousin's wedding. I needed to find a dress for a summer, evening, outdoor wedding, fitting into the category of a cocktail dress. I knew I had nothing in my closet that could work, so off to the mall we went.

I have never been one to follow the current fashion trends, or have the latest it fashion item of the season. Honestly, I was a little unsure of what combination of fabric, length, or style, even defines a cocktail dress.
Sienna and I wandered in and out of stores lost as to the appropriateness of each and every item I came across. My cousin's comment of "Get something short, tight and strapless." though flattering, wasn't exactly the help I was looking for. After calling friends and family, the general consensus was that Anne Taylor wouldn't steer me wrong. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You were right. The sales lady brought me a beautiful dress that was perfect, and even better was 50% off. Yeah me! Now all I have left to do in the next 2 weeks is accessorize.

I felt great about the dress acquisition and headed back to my friend's house.
After getting her thumbs up on the dress (Oh thank you for your fashion sense Eva), the girls and I hung out, mooched dinner and played Guitar Hero the rest of the evening. I LOVE that game. I have a feeling Santa is going to bring a Wi for Christmas and Guitar Hero will be in someone's stocking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Take another little piece of my heart now baby....

Some of you may be aware that I had to put one of my cats to sleep last week. She was 16 years old and other than the extremely debilitating arthritis that had grown worse from year to year, extraordinarily healthy. She got very bad at exactly the same time Peter was diagnosed. And in fact, had their revealing scans on the same day. I remember quite clearly speeding like a mad women down 93 from a Concord Hospital with my almost deaf husband (they forgot to give him ear plugs for the MRI) so I could get there before the vets closed. Peter unable to stand or sit comfortably at the time stayed in the car while I got the news about Katie.

It was horrible news for the cat and even worse news the next day regarding my husband. Concerns for dearest Katie understandably were set aside for the next 8 months. And after Peter's death, I was determined to not lose anymore beloved members of our family. I am a firm believer that loss when possible should be rationed out. A little water added to a boat over time is manageable, too many waves at once sweeping over your boat, filling it up, will sink it to the bottom. I was not going to let my family sink.

Now here is an excellent example of seeing only what you want to see. As a Vet Tech I saw animals with terrible injuries feigning wellness. Dogs with broken legs wagging their tails, grinning from ear to ear. Cats purring away with terminal crush injuries. Katie obviously hurt over these two years but hid her suffering, purring constantly. Despite the fact that I knew better, I refused to accept her pain choosing to see her purring "happy" self. But when it got so bad she hardly ever stood and it hurt me to watch her walk, I knew it was time. The kids were told and the deed done.

I had known it would come to this. I had hoped I would be able to give her more quality time. I had hoped to spare my kids further pain for a little longer. But hoping is living in the future, and the present reality of her suffering slapped me upside the head telling me I needed to do this. My little Hope party didn't like the present it was given. And I was pissed as hell that Peter wasn't here to help me deal with it.

Peter and I picked out Katie and one other of our cats together at the Buffalo SPCA over 16 years ago and it still seems so wrong that they had both out lived him. And not to get too teary, but it is hard to accept another piece of my past with Peter is gone.

And now for my public service announcement

Never give cats aspirin! It will kill them. They lack a special enzyme many animals have to break it down. It is extremely toxic to cats. There are a few acceptable options only available through your vet to help a cat in pain.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Project Runway and rainy days that never end

I LOVE the show Project Runway. I think it is one of the best reality shows around. This years cast of designers are proving to be just as talented and interesting as previous seasons. I think Suede's constant reference to himself in 3rd person will ultimately be just as annoying as Christian's fierceness last season. But for right now I love it.

I can't believe that next season's shows will be on Lifetime instead of Bravo. Lifetime has nothing (that I know of) like this show in its line up and I can't help think that it might get lost in between all those B and C movies depicting women as perpetual victims. Bravo upset over losing the show refuses to advertise the defection which though understandable, may frustrate less die hard fans of the show.

On a completely different topic, the kids and I saw the movie Space Chimps today to escape from rainy day home bound madness. It was a terrible movie! It entertained the kids so it served it's purpose...but oh how I wish I could have sneaked out and seen the new Batman movie instead. I think tomorrow we are finally going to have a one day reprieve from all this rain. After the tornado that caused all the ruckus today up North I will be sincerely glad for the break.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A healing or a curse?

Some days are just easier to bear than others. Surprisingly to me, there isn't even a correlation between good or bad things happening in a given day. Sometimes you just roll out of bed and you know it's going to be a difficult day. It's at those times I find it impossible to listen to music on the radio. I have always loved and listened to music. Perhaps it is part of the CAPD that I have struggled with through out my life, but up until recently, there were very few songs that I could make out the words enough to follow the lyrics and the storyline. For the most part I liked a song based on it's sound. I could make out some words and the sound of the music would clue me into whether it was a love song or an angry song etc.

Well sometime in the last 6 months I had a healing of sorts when something shifted inside my brain, I remember quite clearly sitting in my car, driving around doing my errands, when I realized for the first time in my life I was hearing the lyrics, and actually understanding the story line of the song. It was awesome....till I realized that some of my favorite songs that I had always loved just depressed the hell out of me. It was almost enough to make me switch to a Christian music station. Almost, but not quite :)

Anyway, on those difficult days, I can't bear to listen to least 80% of the songs coming on the radio are about love and loss in every imaginable way. Parents that didn't love there children enough, unrequited love, lost love, love betrayed...the list is endless. And those upbeat moody rap songs I loved so...whoa Nellie! Glad I took peoples' words for it and never played those in the car with the kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

(Wall E) Yes kids the end is near!

Boy! Saw the movie Wall E with the kids today. What a film. Definitely entertaining, though somewhat alarmist in tone. Interesting that the author of the script claims that he had not intended to comment on the environment or scare kids into ecological responsibility. I'm not sure I buy it. Decide for yourself after viewing the clip. entended.

The end of the movie was the funniest and MOST disturbing part of the film. After 700 years in space, hundreds of clinically obese people floating around in their lounge chairs (they are too fat to walk) on board the space craft Axiom, are jarred out of their special seats and slide/roll across the lido deck into a heap. It was the most pathetic/disturbing albeit funny thing I'd seen in a while.

In my opinion the message of the movie was clear. The world is going to Hell in a hand basket! Both girls left the theater saying "That's going to happen eventually isn't it?" I was looking for a movie to entertain, not scare my kids. Having said that, both kids and I did enjoy the movie. And you have to appreciate PIXAR's computer animation. It was a fantastic piece of work.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What's for dinner?

I remember a time when eating was enjoyable and having friends
over for lunch or dinner was a simple pleasure. While having
friends and family over is no less a pleasure, it sure can get
complicated. When I was young, seemingly no one had food allergies.
There might have been the 1 or maybe 2 kids that were allergic
to peanuts but that was it. And everyone could breath…I don’t
remember kids running around with inhalers or going to the nurses
for asthma medication. (But that’s for another post)

So many people now have so many different food restrictions due to
disease, allergies or weight loss regiments, that it becomes
virtually impossible to have more than a couple people over for
a meal and meet all dietary needs. Lets say you have a couple over
with lactose intolerance and another with Crohnes disease allergic
to shade plants, and another whose following the eat for your blood
type diet and wants everything organic…..what do you serve? That
doesn’t even address the pickiness factor of any children involved.
My child for example as far as cheese goes, only eats Kraft
individually sliced American cheese. I tried getting the same
cheese sliced fresh at the counter and she could taste the difference.
I even tried the individually sliced organic version and she tasted
the difference. What difference you might ask? She could actually
taste the absence of certain preservatives present in that horrible
pre wrapped cheese.
Honestly, I don’t entertain often. But have any of you ever felt
the added pressure when entertaining to meet everyone’s dietary
needs or do you just take it in stride? Are the days of dinner
parties over and potluck gatherings becoming the norm where
everyone knows there will be at least one dish they will be able
to eat?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thoughts on the Cayuga wine trail...

This past weekend, as part of my cousin's bachelorette party, I took part in a wine tasting tour visiting some wineries that were part of the Cayuga wine trail in up state New York. During one of many surreal moments this past weekend, while tasting the wine, I flashed back to when Peter and I used to subscribe to Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Besides the interesting articles, we both always loved reading the reviews of the various wines in this magazine and always sought out the ones with the least points awarded to see in just what creative way the critic would describe his richly offended palette.

I dug up one of these magazines and found a few reviews I liked.

As I was reading them I had the image of what these various critics might be like at a party….summing up everyone around them in a 3 sentence quip.

“He is light, arrogant, with a touch of effervescent zeal. The top notes of intelligence and sophistication only lead to disappointment, as he is completely devoid in body and spirit. All right for a quick lay.”

“This well structured specimen of the female variety feels smooth and polished. Light in spirit with a smooth finish. An easy companion for small and large gatherings alike.”

Does anyone out there know any wine or food critics? Does their critiqing come out in other less appropriate ways? Probably no more or less then the rest of us I suppose....just a passing thought.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Lies We Tell

(Not inspirational but definitely introspective….boy it gets dark in here sometimes!)

No matter the primary orientation of our moral compass, varying levels of deception exist. Deception takes its form in the lies we tell ourselves, and the lies we tell others. The conscious ones, that help us get through each day, can be as insignificant as the face saving white lie “No dear, I don’t mind when you leave food in the sink.” and as destructive as “It’s only cheating if I get caught.”

How about the unconscious more insidious lies we tell ourselves. The ones that hit just below the surface. That unsettling feeling you have after you make a decision that you are SURE is right….How many of these decisions are merely a series of intellectual justifications slowly yet surely leading us towards an emotional death.

How can something be right, yet feel so wrong?

May we all be centered and somewhat introspective enough to get to the truth of the matter, what ever THAT may be.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Playing by the rules

Scrabble and variations of it like Upwards are games that I have grown very fond of in recent years. I love words and though I have a descent vocabulary, I am a horrific speller resulting in a built in handicap. I love to play serious competitive games with those that are equally competitive. And I like to play by the rules.

I am a rule follower by nature. I know how hard it is to make rules and set boundaries in the first place and feel that when possible, rules/policies/ boundaries should be respected. I like the predictability and order they afford.

Now here is the question. What if, what you thought were the rules weren’t? And you had been playing this way for years. Having discovered the “right” way, do you try to relearn the game the way it was designed? Or do you just keep playing it the way you know and love, with others who play by your rules?

As far as the board game is concerned, when ever there is a rule question, I think the rules established by Hasbro are the ones that should be followed. But that question got me thinking on a whole other level.

In life, how often do we get caught playing by one set of rules, only to find that they have been rewritten? Sometimes I have felt like the whole game itself has been swapped out and here I am with my tiles, while everyone else is playing cards.

Is this a feeling anyone else can appreciate?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Just a a day....

Just a day.....nothing exciting. I wanted to stay home and have a lazy day today but the children had other plans. "What are we going to do today?" they asked. Always the pressing question in the summer months.

I forgot to have any coffee today and had a wicked headache by the afternoon. Arghhhhh. After receiving a last minute invite to my neighbors birthday celebration I popped an ibuprofen and went next door to the birthday party shin dig.

The kids got to swim and play on the trampoline(...a home owners insurance agency nightmare as far as I'm concerned) and had loads of fun. I mingled with the family and some free advice about my window leak....(mold situation) and had a descent time.

I Need to get my house in order before I leave for my cousins bachelorette party this weekend. Thanks to a friend of mine they will have a friends and a pool to occupy their time tomorrow, leaving me free to get work done!

It feels wonderful to have a long weekend....

Friday, July 4, 2008

Not so subliminal advertising and fireworks (Why I want a Big Gulp NOW!)

What a wonderful 4th of July! We spent a relaxing day catching up with old friends as well as new ones. Having missed the local fireworks display the past 2 years, we decided to head on into town for the celebratory lighting of the night sky.

A certain amount of investigative work was done before a meeting place was chosen. However, our sources were mistaken, and the fireworks were set off in a completely different location than previous years. Fortunately, we were still able to turn our chairs and see the fireworks fairly well, with the exception of the 7 eleven sign smack in front of them.

It was a great show, though they took the unusual approach of what appeared to be 3 separate finales. It was genius really. Every year, at the end of the show people pack everything up as quick as they can, run to their cars and try to get out as quickly as possible to avoid the traffic. So after what appeared to be the finale the first time, a few cars started to leave. After a minute a second huge display of finale like fireworks was set off and again people left thinking that was it. But a minute later they set off a bunch more. The end effect was slightly frustrating, a lot of fun, and certainly helped ease the congestion of traffic.

And after staring at that fireworks display for 15 minutes or so....I'm just so craving a Big Gulp...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Who didn't have a livingroom like this in the 70s....minus the cartoon characters that is.

I was looking at some other blogs and found this guy's stuff. Loved the picture....Liked the idea of the cereal cartoon characters reuniting after years gone by...realizing a little to late that the old magic was indeed gone.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

One step closer.

For those of you following the ongoing mold saga, a wonderful new development has occurred. The source of water has been discovered. After removing the electric baseboard heater and more of the drywall (Thank you Paul for all your help.) we were able to visualize dripping water coming in through what appears to be a separation of the caulk surrounding the outside of the window. A simple fix. :)

The picture to the right is of the dead carpenter ants...also molding ...sigh.

However, in my search for the water source, I discovered that independent of the mold fiasco, I really do need a new roof. :( So I am pricing out different roofs. After the roof ... the leach field. It's all a work in progress.