Saturday, December 29, 2007
January: Here's what it looked like after I stripped the wallpaper but before I did anything else, in the master bathroom of my house...pretty grim.
February: So the deal was, I accepted this contract gig in Fort Worth, a little over an hour’s drive away, because the money was good and it was work I could do without taking it home with me at night, psychologically, I mean.
March: it's officially mine...(a reference to a painting I bought on ebay)
April: I'm sitting here thinking that the title of my previous post (money - that's what I want) does so not apply, right now.
May: Today, having volunteered to participate in a meme that's making the rounds, I’ve agreed to answer 5 questions asked by one of my favorite bloggers, Chris, of Inane Thoughts and Insane Ramblings.
June: I am SO not a morning person, and evidence of that is that it’s after midnight and I have to be up at 5:30 and rather than sleeping, I’m at my computer keyboard, typing away...
July: Today being the 4th of July, but a rainy, overcast, 4th of July, I simply slept in until about 9:30.
August: Soooooooooo...I’m busy at work, busy at home, including shopping for a new mortgage, which is hardly my idea of fun...
September: I'm painting my bedroom, a nice rich sort of ginger brown, a variation on the theme of the rest of the downstairs in my house.
October: So I have jury duty tomorrow morning (hmmmmm, make that THIS morning), and what with not having to drive to Fort Worth plus having already logged 23½ hours at work on Monday and Tuesday of this week, I feel as if I’m going on vacation.
November: I love Halloween.
December: I cleaned my kitchen and most of the downstairs as I waited for the Time-Warner rep to show up to repair the cable line.
Friday, December 28, 2007
2. I finished a fun read; a crime/thriller set in Chicago: The Blade Itself, by Marcus Sakey.
3. I drove Mike to Banana Republic at the Allen Outlet Mall where his shopping quest was successful (he'd be mortified if I was more specific than that).
4. Mike and I went to one of my favorite places in Dallas, Half Price Books, where I bought 4 Larry McMurtry's (All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers; The Desert Rose; Duane's Depressed; and The Light Goes) and a Doris Lessing (Martha Quest). I love Larry McMurtry, a Texas writer who wrote Terms of Endearment, Horseman Pass By (on which the movie, Hud, was based) and Lonesome Dove, among others, all of which I've read and loved, but I think my favorite Larry McMurtry to date is Moving On. I'm looking forward to reading these new ones (new to me). And Doris Lessing...this year, she won the Nobel Prize for literature, and it occurred to me, I've never read any Lessing, and that bothered me, sooooooooo...I'd like to compile a list of Nobel prize winners for literature, and start working my way through it. I first thought of doing that a couple of light years ago, when I was in my 20's and read Kristen Lavransdatter. The author, Sigrid Undset, won the Nobel prize in literature for that trilogy in 1928. So if you're looking for good books to read, these are some great ones...
5. I spent a couple of hours on the net, looking at real estate across the country, which I do from time to time, to see what my options might be if I were to leave Dallas...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
2. Did after-holiday shopping at Crate & Barrel (candles) and Pottery Barn (desk lamp).
3. Had a late lunch with Mike at Chili's.
4. Had the driver's side headlight replaced on my car.
5. Went to see Into the Wild (terrific book, disappointing film) at the Inwood with Mike and Chris.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
So they came and changed out the top of the gates from the thing that resembled a bordello entrance to the simple arch that I wanted. There is still work to be done to make the gates as secure as I want them, however, I'll hire a carpenter to make those changes.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Well, the crew has finished building my fence, and I must say, it's beautiful. If my neighbors are drinking champagne to celebrate the sudden increase in their property values, it wouldn't surprise me. The only thing that's saved me from everyone's wrath (aside from my innate charm, of course) is the fact that most of the fences around me are in similar shape to the "before" pics, this being an older neighborhood and fences being a big expense.
As beautiful as the fence is, the gates are ugly. You may recall that my neighbors, Charles & Melissa (of the armadillo races) have terrific custom gates on their fence, with clean, simple lines. I wanted gates as close to those as could be built, and to that end, the fence salesman and I spent about an hour over there with Charles a couple of weeks ago, with the salesman taking pics to use as a guide in building the gates for my fence.
Then I guess he must have gone out and experienced a major head injury or smoked crack or something, because what I ended up with bears no resemblance to the clean, simple design we agreed upon, and doesn't begin to go with my contemporary house. No, these are gates for a corral on Little House on the Prairie or worse...e.g., if I were a madame in a New Orleans bordello, packing a pearl handled pistol, the gates would be perfect, however...that not being the case...I've told the company they're going to have to change them. Don't get me started on contractors deviating from specific instructions to go rococo all on their own.
I hope to post before and after pics of the gates soon...wish me luck.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
These are shots of the master bath. I removed the wallpaper and painted the walls in January. The tub is a nice, deep tub, and it's in great shape, but I hated the yellow cultured marble...a picture is truly worth a thousand words here...so I had the tub recoated, for a fraction of what it would have cost to replace it...I think it looks great!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's a lovely piano, a 19th century Steinway baby grand, with real ivory keys (badly in need of repair, but not the only thing that needs repair on this piano), however, not having $23,000 for piano repairs (and having had an estimate from a very reputable company not that long ago for the same repairs for a fraction of that figure), I said thanks but no thanks...actually, I laughed and said, "Well, if I win the lottery..." Then the crazy piano man proceeded to tell me, completely out of context (why was I not surprised?) how his mother-in-law had tried to stab him, not once but 3 times, how he was able to disarm her each time because of his army training, yada yada yada...I swear, I LEFT psychiatry...and yet as he told me this long, dramatic tale I found myself wanting to run to a mirror to examine my forehead, to see if I have some huge tattoo there that I'm not aware of that says "TELL ALL!"...
The crazy piano tuner was leaving just as the tub and shower reglazing guy was coming up the walk...and of course, the two of them hit it off like syrup and waffles. Can I pick repairmen or what? They got into such a long conversation about musical instruments that I simply walked away and worked on my laptop until they'd talked themselves out. Then the reglazing guy had me show him the guest bath shower and master bath tub he was going to work on, and he spent some time telling me that although the tub would have to be sanded, he'd have to use some strong chemicals to etch the tile in the shower to prepare the surface..."These chemicals will make you high," he warned me, "but not me! They have absolutely no effect on me, and no one knows why!"
Uh-huh. That's what hatters (people who made hats) used to say, too, about the mercury they used, but there's a saying, "mad as a hatter..." and the phrase came about long before Lewis Carroll made it popular in Alice In Wonderland...
Yesterday, when I was checking references for these maniacs, being something of a maniac myself, I agreed to go see a reglazed tub at the house of one of the reference numbers I'd been given. I was supposed to talk with the man's wife; she wasn't in, but he asked where I lived, and when I told him the neighborhood, he said, "Well, you must be 5 minutes away, why not just come by to see for yourself?" He was German, with a charming accent. "Are you sure?" I said. "Yes, of course, come over, there's something else I'd love to show you too..."
Hmmmmmm, I thought, I'll bet. Suffice it to say, if this guy had come to the door in a raincoat, I'd have been RUNNING back to my car...but that wasn't it at all. A tall, attractive man a little older than I am met me at the door. First he showed me the refinished tub, which looked great. Then he took me to his den and invited me to sit down at his desk.
"Now just look out the window there, what do you see?" he asked.
There was a mural painted on the wall of his garage; multicolored, narrow lines, carefully painted...symmetrical swirls, with, upon closer inspection, a couple of faint figure 8's...
"What do you see?" he repeated.
I looked at the wall..."Well, it appears to be a cylinder of some sort," I said, studying it...
"Yes, but what IS it?" he asked.
"I don't know," I said, but then he showed me a photo of himself standing in front of it, and I saw how his shadow fell..."Oh my gosh! It's a vertical SUNDIAL!" I said. I was immediately fascinated, because I've never seen a vertical sundial before.
He laughed. "Yes it is," he said, "actually, it's an analemma sundial," and he proceeded to tell me that, because our alleys are true east-west, it was the perfect location for this type of sundial. He spent some time explaining how he'd designed it, and showed me the lines for winter and summer equinox...he was very interesting, and a nice contrast to the craziness of most of the guys I've been dealing with this week.
Tomorrow morning: the reglazer returns to finish his work and the garage door guys come to replace the garage door. And maybe, just maybe, the fence crew will reappear...well, some of them have to reappear, as there are a zillion bags of cement stacked up against my garage door, and those have to be moved before the door replacement can happen...
Monday, December 10, 2007
The second pic is Leo, supervising the workers, and maybe spraying a little "eau de Leo" on the posts, just because he can...
The third pic, of the wooden post, looks like nothing, I know, but I have to admit I teared up a little, looking at that post...because it's the last of the posts that my Dad put in, over 20 years ago.
In April 1987, when Mike and Chris were just 20 months old, my Dad, recently widowed, took the train from Wisconsin to visit us. Dad was then 83, and considering the amount of alcohol he'd consumed in his lifetime, his liver should have been the size of Manhattan, and add to that the number of truly bad cigars he'd smoked, you would have thought he'd have emphysema...but in spite of those facts, he still enjoyed excellent, robust health (and looked considerably younger than his years...see pic). He could not abide being idle, and he must have been here for all of a day when he said that it hadn't escaped his notice that our fence needed some repairs, and if it was OK, he'd just as soon replace a few of the posts.
I bought a post hole digger, and he paced himself, and he ended up replacing 6 of them, I believe. 20 years later, a strong wind could have taken out most of my fence...and a summer storm did exactly that to about 12 feet of it last July...but those 6 posts remained firmly upright, and, thanks to the way he'd seated them in the concrete, none of them had rotted at the base...
so I found myself smiling, this afternoon, to see that the wrecking crew had to take sledgehammers and saws to those 6 posts, and then had to dig the concrete bases out of the ground.
I loved that, and Dad would have loved that too...
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I spent the next couple of hours being violently sick to my stomach; the kind of sick where you just curl up on the cool tile floor in the bathroom between bouts. Eventually, I felt somewhat better, and crawled into bed, where in spite of a load of blankets I couldn’t seem to get warm. Then I remembered I own a heating pad, and that solved that problem...and I promptly slept the entire afternoon away.
This evening, my stomach is still rocky, but I’m sipping coke, and feeling grateful for hot water, and indoor plumbing, and automatic washers and dryers, among other things...
Saturday, December 08, 2007
2. I went to Lowe's to look at range hoods - no luck there, either, however, I bought subway tile (3" x 6" white ceramic) for the guest bathroom.
3. I went to Home Depot to look at range hoods (no cigar). While there I FINALLY bought new furnace filters (although I still need to put them in) and Tung Oil (great oil for unfinished wood). Walking down the tile aisle in search of a new trowel, I discovered the same tile I bought at Lowe's for 66% less, so I picked up more subway tile at Home Depot. I'm pleased with the savings, but dread schlepping the other boxes back to Lowe's...those boxes are HEAVY!
4. I spent a couple of hours beginning the arduous task of cutting tile to size, polishing the edges on the belt sander, etc., in preparation for starting to tile the guest bath. I hate prep work.
Monday, December 03, 2007
2. I made a copy of my property survey and mailed it to the fence company.
3. I worked 13 hours straight to make up for some of the time that I missed last week when my internet connection was down. Then I went online to post my hours, and had a pleasant surprise when I saw that I’d worked almost 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday of last week. Yeah, I have these work-a-holic tendencies, I admit it...
4. I talked with Mike, who’s making arrangements to come home for Christmas break. I can’t wait to see him!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
1. I slept in. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
2. I went into the attic and checked the size of the furnace filters because I know I need to replace them.
3. I went to Expo and ordered a new countertop for the master bath. I ordered the dark brown marble that I’ve been lusting after for the past five years, ever since the fire, and to add to the sweetness of the moment, I got 10% off (woo hoo!) because I had a coupon that applied...
4. When I came home, I discovered that Katharine had bought a wine cooler for the kitchen! I’ve wanted one ever since I got rid of the compactor 5 years ago, right after the fire. Since then, I’ve simply been hanging a kitchen towel over that space, and storing various items behind it. This is a Vinotemp cooler that holds 32 bottles, and Kath got a great deal on Craigslist, purchasing the unit from a guy who was remodeling his kitchen and no longer into wine. Brenden came over and helped Kath install it, and it looks soooooooo cool (no pun intended - see pic). Plus, considering the amount of wine I have in my house at all times, it's practical!
5. Tonight I’m going to hear the Dallas Bach Society perform the original version of Handel’s Messiah. This is something I look forward to all year. I can’t wait.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
2. I had lunch with Anthony at BJ’s, where we had a Supreme pizza - delicious!
3. As soon as I had internet service again, I went online and did some work.
4. I bought tickets (online) for a performance tomorrow night at the Meyerson of Handel’s Messiah, which will be performed by the Dallas Bach Society as it was done at the very first performance, in Dublin in 1743. I love baroque music, and I especially love the Bach Society concerts which are performed on antique instruments, and usually in small settings, as the music was originally written to be performed.
At about 11 AM, I lost internet access. I did the usual things: powered down, disconnected the modem and router, etc., etc.
Nada. So I called my cable supplier and had a tech walk me through the same process. Still nothing. The tech said, “Hold on, I’ll check your connection...” There was a pause, then he said, “This is weird...it looks like your line might have been cut...”
“It’s not so weird as you might think,” I said, and explained that there was a backhoe in my backyard. I didn’t tell the tech, but at least one electrical circuit was also taken out this morning. The cable company is sending out a guy tomorrow afternoon to restore the line. Ha! I wish him luck in finding it.
Here's why those lines disappeared...as you can see, the 12' deep hole is filled to the top with concrete and rebar...
I can, of course, write to my heart’s desire...I just can’t post until the cable is restored. This also keeps me from being able to work from home, which is what I had arranged to be doing while this is done. This means I will have to either use vacation days (of which I have precious few) and then have a small backlog to face on Monday, or I’ll have to work all day Saturday and Sunday to make up for Thursday and Friday (the more likely scenario at this point).
Pool Demolition, Day 3 - Friday - Fun Toys at My House
It’s a little after 7:00. The crew is here, and of course I’m up, typing away. I am so ready for this project to be over. In spite of the fact that they inadvertently cut an electrical circuit and my cable line, this company appears to be doing an excellent job. The remainder of the shell of the pool was broken up and removed yesterday morning; then a great deal of time was spent breaking up the big debris into smaller pieces. When that was done, the huge hole was full almost to the top with debris, including tile, chunks of concrete and cut up rebar (see pic). Many pool demolition companies leave that debris in the hole and cover it with dirt, but that can eventually lead to the formation of a sinkhole, among other things. So, after they filled the hole with the broken debris from the pool, this company first smashed the debris into small pieces (see pic) before removing it.
By late afternoon, the hole was empty, and they began hauling in truckloads of fill dirt. They’re still hauling in fill dirt this morning, and that will be compacted and graded and then...voila...pool removal will be complete.
A dumptruck of fill dirt... Xander approves....
11 AM - When it rains...
No, it’s not actually raining, but...they’ve cut the phone lines too.
6:00 PM - Baseball, Anyone?
Next up: a new fence.
Katharine looked over the fence bids, and suggested I needed to get the guy whose bid I’ve decided to accept to lower his price by about 15%. I admit I was completely dumbfounded by the suggestion.
“But how would I do that?” I asked incredulously.
“Mom, it’s EASY!” she said. “First, you tell him you have a comparable bid for...” she named a figure one-third under this guy’s bid.
“He’ll tell me to accept it!” I said.
Kath laughed. “No he won’t,” she said, “he’ll counter”.
In response to my skeptical look, she laughed and said, “Mom, this is what I do all day for a living, trust me, he’ll counter! Good grief, Mom, it’s the last day of the month and he has to make his nut...”
“And if he doesn’t counter?” I said.
She grinned and said, “Well, Mom, then you call him back and tell him you found a couple of complaints against the other guy on the BBB site, and so you’ve decided to go with him after all....” Then she said, “Seriously, Mom, if he doesn’t drop his price, you absolutely must not sign with him tomorrow...”
She was born at home, so I know she’s mine, but I have no idea where she got these negotiating skills.
So I signed with the fence guy, and I did shave some numbers off the bid, but by choosing things that cost less.
I hate being without the internet. I’d never really paid much attention to how much surfing the net has become a part of my day, but I’ve lost track of how many times, in the past two days, I’ve wanted to go on the net to look something up and felt incredibly irritated when I realized that I couldn't...to say nothing of blog-withdrawal...
Re that lost connection...the cable company (Time-Warner) totally no-showed. On Thursday, when I reported the problem, a Time Warner rep asked if I could be home Friday between 2 and 5:00 so Sergio could come to repair the cut line. I assured her I’d be here, and of course I was. At a little after 5:00 Friday, I called Time Warner to inquire as to Sergio’s whereabouts only to be told that he had called me twice, at 3:00 and 3:11 (ya gotta love the little touches when lying...not 3:00 and 3:15, but three eleven) and got no answer so he didn’t show.
Uh-huh. When asked what number he’d called (my land line being out), the T-W rep verified that it was my cellphone number (which is the number I’d provided, just to be safe). My cellphone was with me, turned on, batteries charged, all afternoon. I received several calls, including calls from the fence guy and the landscape architect, both of whom came over, but nada from Sergio. My call record showed no missed calls, and there were no voicemails from Sergio/Time-Warner. T-W rescheduled Sergio for Saturday morning, totally screwing my plans to drive to Fort Worth to log some hours. Just to make sure that Sergio doesn't no-show again, I intend to be an absolute pain about this, calling every hour to verify my appointment until he shows. Grrrrrrr.
Follow up note: Sergio no-showed again this morning, despite my calling in every hour to check that I was still on the schedule. At each of my check in calls during the 8-11 slot, I was assured that the records did not indicate that Sergio had tried to contact me, and the service call was still open, i.e., still scheduled. I was lucky enough to get the same T-W customer service rep a number of times, so he knew the situation (“Hey Art, this is Judi, I spoke with you earlier and the tech is still not here...”)
However, at 11:15 when I called to report that Sergio had again no-showed during the scheduled time slot and to ask for a status check on my service call, everything had changed. The records suddenly showed that Sergio had tried to contact me twice, at 8:12 and 9:10, and received no answer either time. Because he indicated he’d called me twice and received no answer (in effect, I was a no-show for the appointment according to the tech), he’d canceled the morning appointment and rescheduled it as an open, all-day call. To add insult to injury, I had not been notified of the change in plans.
Informed of this, I was furious and incredulous.
“But I’ve been at home, calling in every hour since 8:00 to make sure I’m on record as being home, waiting for the technician, and your records should indicate that!” I exclaimed. I again had the customer service rep verify my contact number. “I’ve received two brief calls on my cell phone this morning,” I said, “but to make sure there’s no problem with T-W reaching me at this number, why don’t I hang up right now and have you call me back to confirm that it works?”
The rep agreed, and called me back; my phone rang; I answered.
“See, it’s definitely working!” I said.
“Well, the tech will be there sometime before 8:00 this evening,” the rep said. “I don’t know what else to tell you..." Then she chirped cheerfully: "Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Uh, yeah, I’d like a good supply of Xanax for having to deal with T-W...
p.p.s. - AT&T called late this afternoon to confirm their appointment and came out and fixed my land line. At which time I called Time-Warner again. "I just thought you might want to know," I said, "that AT&T, who provides my land line, just called me on my cellphone to say that a tech was on his way over to fix the phone line. Their reps got through to me with no problem, and even as I speak, their tech is HERE, in the alley, doing the line repair. Maybe you need to talk with them about how they handle their service calls..."
Maybe it was a coincidence, but within 10 minutes of that call, Sergio was here, and FINALLY, I have internet access again. Hallejujah!
A couple more random observations...
I used to think that I wanted to work from home, but after the past couple of days I’m not so sure about that. Admittedly, I’ve been on call to the deconstruction crew, so this is hardly what “working from home” would usually be like. That said, I’ve found it incredibly frustrating but totally necessary to be here. For example, if I hadn’t been here, I don’t know when I’d have discovered the extent of the problem regarding the damage to the electrical circuit. As it was, as soon as I discovered it, I told the guys it would have to be fixed. After the workers spent a fair amount of time trying, unsuccessfully, to make the repair, this morning, the owner of the construction company came out himself to do it. He showed up, introduced himself, and announced that he intended to solve the problem by simply disconnecting that circuit from the breaker box. Whoa. As I explained to him, among other things, there’s a yard light on that circuit, so simply disconnecting the entire circuit wasn’t an acceptable solution. He agreed, and fixed it (at least, I think he did...at any rate, the yard light works). I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened had I not been here to discover the problem and get the ball rolling on the repair. The same is true for the cut cable and phone lines, but...because those lines were down, I got absolutely no work done, and because I needed to be here, I couldn’t even go out and run errands, thus my frustration...
I’ll have to do this again in a little over a week when the fence is put in. The salesman told me I’ll need to be here the first day, when they demolish the old fence and dig/drill the post holes to make certain everything is located where I want it. The next day I’ll be able to work because the posts will be setting up in the concrete; then I’ll need to be home for the rest of the week to make sure the fence is built according to plan; e.g., I want this gate to open out, this gate to open in, etc. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do this, because, for starters, I don’t have that much leave left. Also, December is not a great time to be out, because we shut down between Christmas and New Year’s. Still, this has to be done, and I’ll have to work it out. I didn’t take the time to supervise the work after the fire, and I’ll always regret it. A number of things for which I paid good money ended up badly done because there was no one here to say, “Wait a minute, what are you doing?”
Which is not to say that I don't realize that in the big scheme of things, this is small stuff...and I know, I know, it's best, always, to not sweat the small stuff...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I wrote this, and posted it on my old AOL blog, two years ago. Bear with me, there's a reason I'm posting it again...
A Night at The Symphony - October 2005
I didn't make it to the nail salon today. I was on my way there when I got a phone call from Katharine (coincidentally my symphony date this evening). Originally, I'd planned to pick her up at her house in Richardson so we could drive to the concert together, in one car, but she called just before 6:00 to tell me she was still at work, ergo still downtown, and wondered if we could we just meet at the symphony. She sounded tired and said she'd been so busy she hadn't eaten all day, so I suggested we both drive immediately to the Meyerson for an early dinner before the symphony. I didn't have to twist her arm.
By 7:00 we were seated at one of the many small tables covered with crisp white tablecloths in the vast lobby of the Meyerson. Kath ordered a glass of chardonnay and I ordered one of merlot, and then we walked through the buffet line, where we helped ourselves to a couple of kinds of pasta, salad, and bread, with dessert and coffee to follow. I couldn't help but think that this was a very civilized way to begin an evening at the symphony.
The program was Shostakovich's 9th Symphony and Copeland's Clarinet Concerto, followed by Schuman's 2nd Symphony. Kath attended high school just down the street from the Meyerson , at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas. Booker T is as close to the old tv show, Fame, as any high school is ever going to get. A lot of very talented kids have gone there; Nora Jones was one of Katharine's classmates. Admission to Booker T is by audition, but many who try don't make it; Katharine was successful, and her instrument was clarinet, so she had a special interest in this concert.
I don't subscribe to the DSO. I bought these tickets on a whim, at the last minute, and I wasn't sure where our seats were located, but I really lucked out: our seats were front center orchestra. Wellllllllll...not RIGHT in front, but who wants to be right in front? I'm not going to be specific about where we sat, because if I did, names might have to be changed to protect the innocent, or we might be killed, etc. Suffice it to say we were close enough to see the stage well...REALLY well.
And so the concert began. The Shostakovich was wonderful,and the Copeland was incredible, a terrific performance by a virtuoso clarinetist. At intermission we went to the lobby; we discussed the music and watched people and talked home repairs, a favorite topic for both of us.
After intermission, as we got settled in our seats to enjoy the Schuman, I realized that in these seats, my eyes appeared to be at the crotch height of all of the musicians. I don't know why I didn't notice this rather interesting phenomenon during the first half of the concert, but I didn't (maybe that glass of merlot was a little more effective than I thought it was...whatever)...but suddenly, after intermission...it was as if my old eyes had just figured out how to focus, and, without thinking about it, I scanned what I could see on the stage...nothing very interesting, (nothing I hadn't seen before) until...***WHOA!!!***
The musicians were still tuning their instruments. I nudged Kath. "Check it out...the lap of the guy to the (I'm not even going to say Right or Left here) of Andrew Litton..." (for all you non-Texans, Andrew Litton is the conductor of the DSO). Kath gave me a rather wilting look, that said, without her actually saying it, "MUH-THUR!", but she looked...I watched her eyes scanning...and then, just as the lights went low and the music started, she saw what I'd seen...and I saw her eyes go wide...and then we both began to try to not laugh (especially because we both have a tendency to snort when we really get laughing)...
WHAT WE SAW: How shall I put this delicately? Ummmmmmmmm...there was a veritable...tent...in the lap of one of the musicians. I mean, it was...HUGE. And this guy just looked like...well...just an ordinary guy. Not even ordinary...a little on the dweeby side. And he was of an age...well, let's just say, if he and I were having a conversation, he'd get my context. By which I mean, if I said, "So where were you when Kennedy was shot?" he wouldn't blurt out, "Good God! Ted Kennedy's been SHOT?" Nevertheless, in spite of his dweebiness, in spite of his age, there it was...this...tent...with apparently an active three-ring circus beneath it...in marked contrast to all the other male musicians around him.
I tried not to stare, but I couldn't help myself...
At one point I thought it must be a fanny pack, and that he must have something in it; like a big kerchief in case he perspired or something.
But then it appeared to move.
On it's own.
I've never seen a kerchief in a fanny pack do that.
I didn't stare throughout all 4 movements of the Schuman; I SWEAR I didn't (and if Kath says otherwise, she's lying). But I admit I stared intermittently during all 4 movements, expecting to see the tent...deflate. But it didn't happen. Anxiously, I awaited the end of the concert. I applauded impatiently, waiting for that magic moment, when all the musicians stand...and it happened, as it must; eventually they all stood, and when they did, I admit my eyes were glued to the tent which just...disappeared.
Standing, he looked like every other male musician on the stage. Welllllll...perhaps his trousers were a little more...pleated?...in front...but maybe not. Kath thinks it was just cheap fabric, tenting in his lap as cheap fabric will sometimes do.
Maybe she's right.
I don't know.
I just wish I knew the size of his feet.
That was 2 years ago. Tonight, I attended an open rehearsal at the Meyerson to hear the DSO play one of one of my alltime favorite pieces of music: Beethoven's 9th symphony. It will be formally performed this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but all performances have been sold out for some time, so I was happy and excited to be invited to attend the open rehearsal. There was open seating at tonight's rehearsal, and so of course I sat in my favorite section: main floor, center. An open rehearsal is exactly what the name implies: a rehearsal, but with an audience in attendance. Because it's a rehearsal rather than a performance, no one is dressed up; the musicians and even the conductor tend to wear blue jeans, running shoes, etc.
Which all of them did tonight, including the, uh...previously mentioned violinist. And I'm posting this update as a public service, because I couldn't help but notice, that even in blue jeans, the dweeby violinist is...ahem...A Man Among Men.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
There's a wrecking ball attached to this, and they swing it around, breaking up the concrete. The sound is deafening, plus the earth literally shakes...several neighbors have dropped by to check it out, but...fearless Mia (see pic below) went right out there to check it out for herself.
That cat is afraid of NOTHING....
Check out how one side of the caterpillar hangs out over the edge of the pool...I was worried it would go right on in, however, I seem to be the only person who was worried about that...
Mike's first paper was interesting; he'd gone to hear Ann Fessler, author of a book I want to read, “The Girls who went Away – The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.” and he had to review the lecture and accompanying exhibit.
Meanwhile, the last of the water in the pool is being pumped into the alley. The pool (like my house) is almost 30 years old. It was a nice, big (30,000 gallons), deep gunite pool, however, a couple of light years ago my then neighbor, Floyd (who was a GREAT neighbor, and it didn't hurt that he was handsome too) planted two live oak seedlings near my fence, and those trees are now...hmmm, I dunno, maybe 60' high? And their roots have done a number to the deck (and probably the plumbing), to say nothing of the bags and bags and bags of leaves and acorns that I've had to clean out each year...and yet, in spite of the mess, I love those trees...
And this year, the pool badly needed replastering, so I started looking into the cost of renovating it, only to discover how prohibitively expensive a proposition that was, at which time, it occurred to me...I'd like a firepit back there! And so I decided to have the pool removed. The usual thing down here is to jackhammer the pool into oblivion and then cover up the mess, but that's not my style (plus you can end up with a sinkhole, or so I've read), so I'm having the pool completely removed.
I did check out was whether I could convert it into an underground cistern (the answer is no). Sooooooooo...eventually, there'll be a firepit back there...first, though, I badly need a new fence. I think the neighbors are going to have a party when I do that...and the fence guy is showing up tomorrow, too, to measure so he can give me an estimate...
Monday, November 26, 2007
2. I looked online to see if there are any tickets available for Beethoven's Ninth this week...so far, no luck.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
2. I washed, dried, folded and put away the dining room tablecloth, napkins, etc., from Thanksgiving.
3. I changed out the Thanksgiving decorations in my house (candles, wreath, dried flowers, table runner, etc.) with the winter/Christmas things.
4. I went to Drawnames.com and signed up our family to draw names for Christmas.
5. I had breakfast at LaMadeleine, in front of the fire.
6. I removed the rest of the landscaping bricks from the backyard in preparation for having the pool removed.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
2. I spent a luxurious afternoon talking with Mike, home for Thanksgiving from his junior year at UA. It’s a dreary, wet, cold grey day, but we were quite cozy in the living room, each of us curled up on one of the two brown velour slipcovered couches, facing each other, all comfortable with pillows and throws and a fire in the fireplace.
3. I moved more of my landscaping bricks from the backyard to the patio in preparation for having the pool removed next week.
4. I spent a frustrating 45 minutes, with Mike, unsuccessfully trying to access two programs on my work-issued laptop that I must be able to access to work from home.
5. I paid various bills and filed the paperwork in the appropriate binders.
6. I read more of Russell Martin’s fascinating book, Beethoven’s Hair.
7. I spent some time playing the vocabulary game at Free Rice. If you haven't visited this site, check it out. It's a neat way to increase your vocabulary and do some good at the same time. You'll see a word with four possible definitions; for every word you get right, an international aid agency donates 10 grains of rice to the hungry. Sound too good to be true? Snopes says it's legitimate. The highest vocabulary level is 50; so far, the highest level I've reached is 46.
1. I slept in until a little after 10:00. This is highly unusual for me, but as it was a little after 4:00 when I went to bed last night, I don’t feel too guilty about it.
2. I took Mike to meet A for breakfast at Bagelstein’s.
3. I spent some time looking at art on eBay.
4. I called The Nasher to accept an invitation that I received for a reception on November 30th.
5. I took Mike to The Nasher, where we had a late lunch before perusing the Gaston Lachaise exhibit (which was terrific).
6. I took Mike for a quick walk through the DMA, where we looked at a Rothko and a Pollock before heading home.
7. In anticipation of having my pool removed, I looked at the portfolios of half a dozen local landscape architects on the net (and despaired a little; none of them appears to have done work for families with yards like mine, which happens to be significantly smaller than a football stadium...).
8. I joined Mike, Chris and Anthony for our traditional post-holiday family flick. We went to see the Coen brothers latest film, No Country for Old Men (based on Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same title, said title taken from the first line of Yeats’ poem, Sailing to Byzantium). An excellent, if incredibly grim, film.
9. I prepared a quick late night supper of Thanksgiving leftovers for Anthony, Mike and me which we ate sitting around my kitchen table.
10. I accepted my brother Dave’s invitation to be his friend on Facebook.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Mike’s flight was due in at 9:55 AM; A and I were driving to the airport to pick him up. Mike reached me on my cellphone at 9:45, on my way to the airport. He told me he was on the ground in Lubbock, where his plane had made an emergency medical landing because of a sick child. Unfortunately, in making the landing, something that regulates the plane’s cabin pressure had stopped working, and so the flight was grounded until that could be fixed.
Hours passed, but thanks to cellphones, we had pretty much ongoing communication with Mike. Normally, if there’s a mechanical problem that can’t readily be fixed, the airlines would simply deboard the plane and put all the passengers on another flight. However, there aren’t a lot of flights out of Lubbock, so for several hours all of the passengers on that flight were stranded.
In Dallas, we considered our options. Katharine and Chris were willing to get into Katharine’s car and drive to Lubbock to pick up Mike, but Lubbock is 350 miles from Dallas, so that would have been a looooooonnnnggg drive. We looked on the net to see whether Mike could rent a car, but he’s under 25 and it was snowing in Lubbock, so that didn’t seem like the best option. We also looked to see if we could find any additional flights out of Lubbock. Hours passed, and eventually, the airlines decided they would try to fly the plane back without cabin pressure, at a much lower altitude than usual. Apparently, all of the luggage had to be removed from the cargo hold to do this, but when that was done...voila...the cabin pressure returned. The cargo hold was then repacked, and Mike (and all of the other passengers) finally arrived, safely, in Dallas at a little after 4:00 PM, where Katharine, Xander and Chris picked up Mike at the airport. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together, a little later than originally planned, but that hardly matters.
Re the child for whom the emergency landing was made...Mike didn’t know what the emergency was, but he said the child was a young boy whom Mike estimated to be perhaps 12 years old. Like Mike and Chris, the boy was a twin, whose brother and parents were also on the flight. Before the decision was made to land in Lubbock, two doctors on the plane had examined the boy, and both agreed that the plane needed to put down immediately so he could be hospitalized to receive emergency medical care. Mike said the boy was conscious and able to walk from the plane, but that he looked dizzy and disoriented, and that his parents were both crying as they walked with him from the plane.
Ouch. I don’t know what condition that child has, but my heart goes out to him and his family. Most of the time, whether we realize it or not, most of us are so incredibly lucky...to be alive, to be healthy, to be loved and able to love...and today I was reminded of that.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
29 years ago yesterday, Katharina was born, at home, in Chicago. We're doing the family celebration of her birthday tonight. I called her yesterday and asked where she'd like to go for dinner. "I dunno," she said, and then she added, wistfully, "I'd really just like someplace small and intimate, where we could have a nice dinner and sit around and talk afterward..." "Let me think about that and get back to you," I said.
In five minutes I called her back. "I know just the place, but of course you can opt for something else if you'd rather..." I described it. She agreed.
So it's all set: tonight, Katharine, Chris, Stephanie and I are having dinner at home. The weather has finally turned cool, so we'll start with cheese and crackers and glasses of champagne in front of the fireplace. Then Chris and I are grilling the flank steak (which is marinading in the refrigerator as I write), with which I'll serve asparagus with hollandaise, orange basted carrots, new potatoes and a tossed salad, followed by birthday cake...
And the only voices we'll be talking over will be each other's, and we can sit at the table, or move to the couches in the living room, when we feel like it...Happy Birthday, Katharina!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
With whom did you last get angry? With The Liar, of course...don’t ask...
What is your weapon of choice? My tongue...I’m capable of scathing criticism...
Would you hit a member of the opposite sex? Hit ON for sure, but no, I can’t imagine hitting anyone....
How about the same sex? See above, except that I wouldn’t hit ON anyone of the same sex
Who was the last person who got really angry with you? I dunno...I’m sure there’s someone, but usually, I try to use humor when things start to get heavy, to defuse the situation...
What is your pet peeve? I hate it when guys blow their nose in a napkin at dinner...I’ve never seen a woman do it. It’s totally gross, guys!
Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily? Ha! I have Attention Deficit Disorder, and one of the big advantages is that I can’t usually remember who I’m supposed to be mad at, or why. If someone behaves badly, I tend to keep my distance, but I’m pretty good natured, and don't hold grudges...
What is one thing you're supposed to do daily that you haven't? Exercise...
What is the latest you've ever woken up? Dunno...although I’m not a morning person, I’ve never required much sleep...
Name a person you've been meaning to contact, but haven't. David Clark...my best friend from the U of C...
What’s the last lame excuse you made? I voted against doing monthly potlucks at work, saying, "I don’t want to transport food all that distance..."
Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through? No, I fall asleep watching infomercials, every time!
How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock this morning? Once...
What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice? Starbuck’s cappuccinos...they aren’t even that good!
Are you a meat eater? Oh yeah, I’m a total carnivore...although I had scallops for dinner tonight, and can easily go for weeks without eating red meat...still, a few times a year, there aren’t many things I enjoy more than a bloody filet mignon...
What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting? Hmmmmmm, I dunno...my younger brother could probably answer this for me better than I can, as he witnessed it (I was maybe 21 at the time)...
Are you comfortable with your drinking and eating habits? I’m totally comfortable with my drinking habits these days, but re eating...no, I know that I need to give up most carbs, because it's clear that I’m not exactly metabolizing them efficiently...
Do you enjoy candy and sweets? Not particularly...a little goes a long way with me, although I confess to a love of dark chocolate with chipotle or curry...
Which do you prefer: sweet, salty, or spicy? Salty, every time...
Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought, "lunch"? Ewwwwwww...no, I haven’t...
How many credit cards do you own? Probably 20 or 25...but usually, I just use my American Express
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? Pay off the mortgage, book a 10-day river rafting trip for me, my kids and their significant others, and my ex, and probably save the rest for retirement...
Would you rather be rich or famous? Rich. I love my privacy.
Would you accept a boring job if it meant that you would make megabucks? Sheesh, I’ve done exactly that, minus the megabucks. I settled for a decent salary with good health benefits, but until you yourself have worked places for very little money, where employee abuse is rampant, don’t knock it...
What's one thing that you have done that you're most proud of? Against all odds, I completed college and grad school...
What's one thing you have done that your parents are proud of? I think my mom was proud that I went to college...I don’t remember her ever saying so, though.
What would you like to accomplish late in your life? There are LOTS of things...but if I have to pick one...I dunno, I ‘ve always wanted to learn to play the piano...
Do you get annoyed by coming in second place? That depends...if it’s something where I expected to come in first, then yes, for sure...
Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than the other competitors? No...to me, that would be incredibly lame, and I like to be able to look myself in the eye when I’m brushing my teeth each morning...
Have you ever cheated to get a better score? No, but I’ve lied to my therapist...
What did you do today that you're proud of? I ate a healthy breakfast: I had unsweetened yogurt (it’s very sour, and I love that stuff) with fresh raspberries and a handful of cranberry granola, all washed down with a small glass of freshly squeezed OJ...
How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies, family, strippers, locker rooms)?
Shoot, I’ve lost count...(just KIDDING...I haven’t a clue!)
How many people have seen you naked (not counting physicians, family, locker rooms, or when you were a young child)? What kind of questions are these? Who keeps track of this stuff?
Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a person of your chosen sex during a normal conversation? I’m stealing Terroni’s answer here, because it’s absolutely accurate and I can’t improve on it: No, I was looking at...uh...you had a piece of lint there.
Have you ever had sexual encounters (including kissing/making out) with multiple persons? Sheesh, no!
Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute? Not to my knowledge...
What item of your friends would you most want to have for your own? If we’re talking stuff, I can’t think of a thing...
Who would you want to go on "Trading Spaces" with? I absolutely LOVE my house, and all of my stuff, and there’s no one I’d trust to make changes in it, so I’d never go on Trading Spaces...
If you could be anyone who existed in the world, who would you be? I can’t imagine being anyone else...now, if I could meet anyone who existed in the world, I have a long list, starting with Mark Twain...
Have you ever been cheated on? Yeah, and take my word for it, it was not a good experience...
Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own? From the time we were kids, I always wished I had my brother Dave’s beautiful coloring...ash blonde hair and sky blue eyes...
What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself? Self-confidence...I always doubt myself.
What deadly sin...
Do you do the most often? Sloth.
Do you do the least often? Envy.
Is your favorite to act on? :) Lust...
Monday, November 12, 2007
Ah-HA! Check this out: Nigeria's 'land of twins' baffles fertility experts
My fraternal twin sons, Mike and Chris, are now 22 years old. When I found out I was carrying twins, I felt as if I’d won the lottery. Actually, by the time they were ready to be born, I felt as if I were carrying the lottery...all in coins...they weighed 8 pounds EACH...carrying twins is HARD work...
But back to when I got the news...I remember, I was lying on the examining table in my doctor’s office, and his nurse had just confirmed the diagnosis with a sonogram. “Woo hoo!” I exclaimed. “That is GREAT news and I am SO excited!” My doctor looked at me, grinned, and said, “Jude, in all the years I’ve been practicing, I have to say, that’s the very first time I’ve heard THAT reaction to news that a woman is carrying twins...”
I don’t have a family history of twins, so I was curious as to how this had come about. I mean, I know how it came about, but with the result that I was carrying two...how had that happened? I had my own theory, which was basically that I had willed it to happen (I very much wanted two more children), but ...I wondered if there were a more logical explanation. I read and read and read...this was 1985, pre-internet...and eventually, I came across an article that said that there was a tribe in Nigeria with the highest fraternal (two egg) twinning rate in the world, and the diet there was heavy in yams...so one theory was that the heavy dose of phytoestrogens in yams causes women to release multiple eggs when ovulating. I was fascinated by this theory, because I love yams, and ate a lot of them in November 1984, coincidentally the month that the boys were conceived...
Over the years, when people have asked me if twins run in the family ("Well, they do NOW!" I quip), I’ve talked about the yams linkage...only to observe their eyes glazing over as I wax eloquent about it, as if I were making it up...which I’m quite capable of doing, by the way, but in this case NOT...and now, today, here, on Yahoo’s Most Popular News stories...confirmation! So check it out...and if you’re thinking you’d like to have twins...go eat some yams!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
:) He is so right. This is my favorite time of year, and my house looks and (thanks to Pottery Barn's Autumn Spice candles) smells a lot like fall. Except for a leather chair in my gameroom, all of my furniture has slipcovers. I'm a big believer in slipcovers. The fire was an excellent reminder (whether I needed one or not) that stuff is just stuff, and as much as I enjoy my stuff (and I do), it must always come second to people. A well-lived life is messy, in many, many ways...thus, slipcovers...because when a glass of wine is spilled, a slipcover can just be peeled off and tossed into the washing machine, no big deal.
Xander and Katharine changed out the off-white denim slipcovers of summer for the brown velour of fall and winter for me this past week, with this result:
I love this time of year. The front yard is filled with leaves, and yesterday afternoon we tossed a frisbee around out there for a while. Xander will have the pleasure, as all of my kids did, of building leaf houses before those leaves are cleared away. It's 80 degrees today, but if the weather cooperates and turns cool (as I think it eventually must), soon it will be time for chili, served with crisp crackers, grated onion, shaved sharp cheddar, and dollops of sour cream; for steaming bowls of homemade onion soup with cheese and croutons; for James Beard's fragrant and delicious chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, served with slices of a crusty french baguette to soak up the the liquid...and this is the time of year for oysters on the half shell (I had some last week, and they were soooooooooooooooo good!) to say nothing of Thanksgiving...in just a couple of weeks, we'll have the pleasure of Mike's company again...life is good...
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Up in an airplane
Nearer my God to thee
I start making a deal
Inspired by gravity
If I did wrong I won't do it again
'cause I can be sweet and good and nice
And if I have enemies they're friends
I hold on to my life
With the grip of a vice...
Yeah, I realized that at 58, my roof walking days should probably be a thing of the past. No mishaps, but I admit I was happy to climb back down the ladder and feel the ground beneath my feet...
A couple of weeks ago, at work, I attended a full day of mandatory corporate training on how to better organize Outlook, with the idea that having done that, everything else in our lives that requires organization would fall into place. The workshop was run by a guy who was a total dweeb, and it was about as exciting as watching paint dry, to listen to him. I realized that most of what he was saying didn't apply to several of us when, early in the morning, he urged all of us to turn off our e-mail notifications, "and just check your e-mail once a day..." Uh-huh. In an ideal world, that might work, but I spend a great deal of time at work in a computer program that has some...problems...with the result that some days, several times a day, all of us who are working in that program suddenly receive e-mails from one of the programmers saying, "WARNING! The system has to be rebooted! Log out NOW!!!" Dunno what would happen if I ignored those, and don't wanna find out. While the dweeb waxed eloquent about the wonders of Outlook, my mind wandered, and I realized there are some areas in which I could stand to be more organized, although none of them were at work, where I'm nothing if not compulsively organized.
So I made a list of things I need to work on in the rest of my life, with the result that, yesterday afternoon, I left work early and went and signed papers to refinance my house. I switched to a fixed 15-year mortgage a full 2 points lower than the loan I had, and I borrowed some additional money to finish up repairs needed to sell the place (e.g., remove the pool and replace the fence), plus I’m paying off the credit card debt that I incurred after the fire.
All of which feels...strange...I admit it feels good to be exchanging the outrageous interest rates on the credit cards for one low fixed rate, but...I always feel so out of my element when dealing with money, and I know I’m not the only woman who feels that way. Put me in a small room with an adult or child having a full blown discussion with voices no one else can hear, coming from people no one else can see, and I'm fascinated, and in my element, but to have to deal with bankers or time management experts or car repair guys...those are the rooms, and people, I always want to go running from...