Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What a Strange Day

Today I was supposed to go to two meetings at work. I woke up with a, er, stomach bug of some kind and found I couldn't let myself be too far from a bathroom for too long. No hour-long commute for me! Plus, I was very dehydrated (it didn't help that I cried myself to sleep because I thought Little Hideaway was going to die) and felt awful.

So I commenced to do work-related work at home.

Then the piano movers showed up.

Oh, yeah. The piano movers.

In a flash (well, not quite), I was ready to go. I couldn't find my cell phone or my keys or my water bottle, then I found them, then I misplaced them again. Then I couldn't find the checkbook. Then I found it. Finally, I was in the car and the piano guys were ready to follow me from my house to the new house.

Only the city picked today to patch up the road that our little side street turns onto.

So we had to sit there for ten minutes, the piano movers and I, and wait for the road patchers to move.

They moved. Finally. And I led the piano movers, without further incident, to the new house.

(I say "without further incident ... but there were several very scary moments, gastrointestinally speaking, on the trip.)

We got to the new house, where we dropped off George. I headed home. No incidents. Went to the coffee shop so I could think. Worked on work-related stuff for about four hours. Got some good work done, even though it was peppered with rush-to-the-bathroom incidents, and even though I still felt exhausted from dehydration.

Then I came home and did some more work-related work. And played that stupid WordTwist game on Facebook.For a long time. What an addictive game.

So here I am. I'm still not 100% and I still feel bad (particularly since one can't run with the runs, so I didn't get to exercise at all).

I hope tomorrow will be better. Even though I doubt they'll give me credit for the work-related work I did at home. I guess it won't hurt to ask.

Actually, I guess today wasn't that strange of a day. I just felt really strange all day. All in all, it was really kind of a boring, ho-hum day. And to think it will be recorded forever and ever on this blog. Amazing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to A Sort of Notebook!

This is Post #1830, and I'm celebrating the birthday of this blog!

I started A Sort of Notebook four years ago today. I got sick of it about two years ago, but, like a bad habit, it's something I just can't give up. So I'll keep writing.

To celebrate, I'll share with you some of the blogs I've been reading since the days when I first started blogging.

Jeanette's Journey: Jeanette was one of my first blogging friends. I met her through Marla Swoffer's now-defunct Proverbial Wife blog. (Sorry, Jeanette's is a private blog. Even if I provided a link, you wouldn't be able to get in. I can read it only because I'm very, very special. :) )

Musical Perceptions: This is the blog of a music prof. Remember when I used to write about music all the time? Those days may return once I'm moved and have more time for George. But I used to have a lot more music blogs in my blogroll. This is one of the ones that has stayed there.

Outer Life: The Outer Life writer doesn't post much anymore, but the wait is always worth it. I love this guy.

PY: Another one of my first blogging friends, PY is a double bassist from Singapore.

Semicolon: This blog goes into the "Blog Titles I Wish I Had Thought of First" category. And it's everything you would expect of a blog that is named after my favorite punctuation mark.

Terminal Degree: I'm not sure, but I think I read this blog back in 2004. The site says it started in 2005 ... but I think her previous site reached back to '04. Either way ... I have followed Dr. Degree, whose real name I don't even know, over the years from grad student to frustrated adjunct prof to accomplished assistant prof. And she got married last weekend. Isn't that nice?

Enough of blogging. Time to punch in and get to work.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Life Today

I'm sitting at the Christian Coffee Shop (not the actual name of it) and a teenage boy just walked in wearing a Jesus t-shirt and pants hanging halfway down his hips. It's quite clear that his underwear is identical to my husband's. Maybe I should tell him that.

I decided to take today off, seeing as I managed to put in nearly 40 hours between Monday and Thursday and have been working much harder than I should during the company's "slow" season. I was looking forward to a morning at the book sale, then a few hours at my favorite coffee shop, where I would write in my journal and work on my novel.

Well, Hideaway ended up needing to go to the vet this morning. The hematoma in her poor ear came back and had gotten infected. Hubster was supposed to take her to the vet several days ago, but he couldn't find her when it was time. So her appointment got postponed ... and when they said they could take her Friday morning, I thought, "What the heck. I'll be home anyway, since I'm taking the day off."

So I took her to the vet and the vet looked very concerned and said she would need a new tube in her ear and would I mind leaving her there over the weekend so they can monitor her? Sure. He looked into her ear with a flashlight thingy and said, "Ew. It's pretty nasty in there."

It must be bad if it makes a doctor of veterinary medicine say "Ew."

Poor Hideaway looks so miserable. After I left her at the vet (she gave me that heartbreaking "you-traitor" look as they took her away), I sat in my car and cried.

But all was not lost. I made it to the used book sale by 10:30. I only bought about nine books this year (that's about 1/3 of what I usually buy). Then I went to my coffee shop for a much-anticipated three or four hours of writing.

I had just settled in, just started writing, when I got a call from the Keller-Williams Centralized Showing Service. Someone wanted to come look at our house between 12:15 and 1:30. Was the house ready to show?

"Um ... no. What time is it now?"

"It's 12:11, ma'am."

"Can you change the time to between 1 and 2? I need to run home and straighten up."

"OK, ma'am."

So I dumped my half-full cup of coffee, packed up my writing materials, and flew out the door to my car. Ten minutes, later, when I was almost home, I got another call from Keller-Williams Centralized Showing Service.

"The buyers drove by the house and it didn't have enough privacy, so the realtor has cancelled the showing."

I was very frustrated. I'm starting to feel a sense of desperation these days: I need quiet time. I need to have a few days where I don't go to work, where I don't worry about buying or selling a house, where I don't have to spend half the day in my car, driving. I'm not likely to get much quiet time this weekend. Or next weekend--the big packing weekend. Then we move the following weekend. Before I know it, we'll be knocking on the door of development season at work, when things really get busy.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I'm thankful for now. I'm sitting in the coffee shop, blogging, and getting ready to work on the novel. I don't know how productive I'll be (afternoon isn't my best time of day for thinking), but at least I'll be more productive than if I were at work.

Two more weeks. I am ready to have my old life back--the one that allowed a few minutes here and there for writing and piano. I love my job, but I don't love how so much of my life has been put on hold for the past year because of it.

OK, enough of my doldrums. Time for me to get to work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Weekend-Time

I didn't mean to work a 4-day week of 10 hours each day, but it turned out that way. If I was to go to work tomorrow, I would definitely stay busy for another 10 hours ... but the Friends of the Library Used Book Sale is going on tomorrow and Saturday. Why on earth would I want to go to work when I could go to the book sale and spend my hard-earned dollars on obscure grammar and composition textbooks from the 1950s?

(Yes, Sherry, you really did birth a nerd.)

I don't have much to write about at the moment. Right now the most exciting thing in my life is that we developed a new template in FrameMaker that is going to make the primary user manual much easier to read and navigate than previous manuals.

Can you feel the excitement? This is serious jumping-up-and-down excitement for me. Oh, baby.

Yup. If I'm this wound up today, I'll probably find tomorrow's grammar-book excursion unmanageable.

Oh, it's gonna be fun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For Font Lovers

Here's a video of what a Font Conference might be like ... if fonts were people.

It was posted onto a tech writing listserv that I belong to. Someone commented that Comic Sans wasn't their hero. I commented that, if Comic Sans were a true hero, he would rescue poor Helvetica, whom the Arial family has probably beaten to a pulp and hidden in some dank basement somewhere.



Arial has been posing as Helvetica for years. (Think Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.) It's almost impossible to tell the difference ... though I'm proud to say I scored a 9 out of 10 on this quiz.

Then I played a mindless game where you can make Helvetica stomp Arial. Clearly it's a fantasy game.

Oh, this is fun. You can read this article by Mark Simonson to learn more about how these two fonts differ.

I'm a CG Omega fan myself, at least when it comes to workhorse sans-serif fonts.



Do you remember the early days of word-processing, when Courier was the "it" font? I thought Courier was the coolest thing in the world. Did you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Resemble These Remarks

From "Long Distance Commuters' Road to Nowhere" on msnbc.com:

(My comments in italics.)

"For Dollie Kinkead, the economic turmoil gripping the country translates into an 80-mile drive each work day from a house she can't sell to a job she thinks she's lucky to have."

...

" ... each work day, Kinkead, 53, leaves the house at 5:50 a.m. and doesn’t return until 7 p.m. Luckily, she drives a diesel-powered Volkswagen Beetle that gets 48 miles per gallon, meaning her gas bill is about $100 per week. She also works nine-hour shifts, giving her one day off every two weeks."

Yup. I do the nine-hour shift thing, too. And carpool.

"When she gets home, Kinkead says there’s usually time to eat dinner with her husband and little else. But she doesn’t see any other option."

Dinner? With the husband? Oh, that would be so nice!

"[Another family] had bought the[ir] house in 2001, for $129,900, with the intention of fixing it up and selling it for a profit. But in 2005, when they put the house on the market, interest was tepid at best.

"The couple decided to put more money into improving the house, in the hopes that it would stand out among comparable homes in the area. In the end, they plowed some $15,000 and countless hours of sweat equity into the improvements, using credit cards and a loan against a 401(k) account to fund some upgrades.

"Still, the house didn’t sell, even when they dropped the price from $126,000 to $122,000. In the meantime, gas prices skyrocketed, which added to their own expenses and made their rural home even less attractive.

...

"The couple is looking at renting out their house, even though they likely won’t get enough to cover their monthly payments."

Yup.

All that sounds so familiar ... and painfully so. These poor folks had to resort to foreclosure. I hope that doesn't happen to us.

I am so ready to move ... and sell our house ... someday!

Wrong Side of the Bed?

I'm pretty sure I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Everyone is getting on my nerves today.

Life will get better. We close on the house in less than two weeks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Break Time, and Pioneer George

Well, it's not really break time. It's not like I'm going to go practice piano or anything. The very idea.

***

Hm. I started this blog post about 20 minutes ago. Since then, I've called the piano movers and scheduled a tentative piano moving date. Of course, they have to charge an arm and a leg extra (OK, about $250) because of the long distance. Also of course, they're planning to move another piano in this same area on July 30, and if they can also move MY piano (Yes, I'm talking about dear George) on July 30, they can cut me a good break on the extra charge.

Of course, we don't close on the house until the following week.

So told the piano mover I'd call him back. I immediately called the Patootie Bamboozler (a.k.a. our awesome realtor) and said, "Awesome Realtor, please call the Home Sellers and ask if they wouldn't mind having a piano moved into their lovely home before they've actually moved out of it." So the Patootie Bamboozler is calling the Home Sellers and is going to call me back.

***

OK, it's been a few minutes since I wrote that last paragraph. I had to send some work-related e-mails.

The Patootie Bamboozler hasn't called me back yet. I shall continue to multi-task until he does.

Yep. This has been yet another typical "break time" here in my Cubicle Paradise.

***

Ten minutes and several work-related tasks later ...

The House Seller has called me. I can just imagine the conversation the preceded this:

Patootie Bamboozler: Lovely Buyer wants to know if she can dump her piano on your living room floor while y'all are in the midst of packing up your life's belongings to move halfway across the country.

House Seller: She wants to do WHAT?

P.B.: I know, I know. Why don't *you* talk to her?

H.S.: You better believe I will! The nerve of Lovely Buyer! As if we have room for her stinkin' piano!

So, when I talked to House Seller, I assured her that George is not a big piano, and that he won't take up any room and will be as quiet as a mouse.

She was concerned that poor George might get scratched in moving and that I would blame her.

I assured her that (1) George is already so scratched up that another scratch or two during the move won't kill him, and (2) I will be happy to sign a "House-Seller-did-not-abuse-George" waiver when he's delivered.

***

20 minutes and several work-related tasks later ...

It looks like George is going to move into the house before Hubster, Hideaway, Beau, and I do. George will be a pioneer! Pioneer George!

Well. That was a productive "break time." And I got quite a bit of workplace work done as well.

Back to work for me!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some Pictures from the Weekend

I spent this weekend in Lexington with Sherry. On Friday night, much to my delight, Simon(e) the cat snuggled up to me and purred and let me pet him. This was a first. Here is Simon(e), posing for Sherry's new camera:



On Saturday, Sherry and I picked up Rebecca from her group home and went to the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro.

Here's Wilhelm the Polar Bear, sleeping in the hot sun:



Here's a comfortable-looking meerkat:



Here's an elephant (or, as my sister Mu would say, an elewie):



Here's a gator that Sherry swore was fake ... until it moved.



Here are a couple of uncaged humans sitting on a rock:


One of the humans is a subspecies of Homo sapiens, known as caffeinus addictus.


All in all, a very fun weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday Morning

It's a quiet morning here at the Hubster-Waterfall household. Hubster isn't even snoring. I've been up for a while, writing. I'm tired. Work has been stressful this week--lots of little hydra-like tasks: you think you've slain them, then you get an e-mail to learn that they've grown two more hissing heads.

I'm not certain, but I think my Busy Season has already begun at work--and "Development Season" doesn't officially start until the fall. I worked till 7:00 last night.

We move in three weeks. Hub and I have barely begun packing. We have a few boxes here and there, and I've come up with a workable method of marking them so they'll end up in the right rooms in the new house.

I haven't touched a piano in two weeks. I am really missing piano. There is just too much other stuff going on right now. It's hard to get away from work when there are so many little things to do (and a couple of huge projects waiting impatiently for your attention). I hate to walk away from my desk because it will break my concentration, then it will take a good 10-15 minutes or longer to get my concentration and focus back once I sit down again.

Not a lot going on, other than busy-ness at work and the upcoming move. I just wanted to check in, since I haven't blogged in forever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things I'm Looking Forward To

Here are a few things I'm looking forward to about moving to Work Village:

1. Cooking. I've barely cooked a single meal since I started working in Work Village. I haven't had time. I eat lots of "no-cook" foods--salads, fruit, yogurt, nuts, etc. I'm looking forward to making grilled salmon with steamed asparagus and brown rice.

2. Baking. I've baked here and there on weekends, but not as much as I'd like to. I love to bake. When I live in Work Village, I'll be able to whip up a batch of cookies on a Wednesday night after work and running and dinner, if I feel so inclined.

3. Getting home before 9:00. During the busy season, I was rarely home before 10 p.m. Even during the summer--the non-busy season--I usually don't get home until after 8:00. Between commuting and fitting in that all-important workout (and grocery-shopping and errand-running), I get home late nearly every night. I am so excited at the prospect of leaving work at 5:30, doing everything I need to do, and still being home by 7:00.

4. Reading. Since I don't get home until late, the usual chores--fixing something to eat, vacuuming, washing clothes, weeding the garden, cleaning the kitchen, etc.--end up taking me past 10:00. I used to read for at least an hour before going to sleep. Now I can make it for about 5 minutes. As a result, I've been reading the same three books since January.

Of course I'm looking forward to becoming a writer and a pianist again. That goes without saying.

Three weeks, five days. Then we move.

Update: I just re-read this post. I can't believe how wifey-ly domestic I've become. Kind of scary. And what's scarier is how happy I am all the time.

Geez. Maybe I really am becoming a Stepford wife. What do you think, eArThworm??

Friday, July 11, 2008

This Will Be Where Hub and I Eat

The dining room isn't very roomy (it looks a lot roomier in this picture ... and the table in there is smaller than ours), but ... hey! It's a dining room! I've never had my own dining room before! And it's an absolutely beautiful room, to boot!



Our current house has a "great room," which I don't think is so great. Basically the upstairs is a great big room that holds a kitchen, an eating spot, and a living room. No walls. No nooks. No crannies.

I think I can probably get used to having a dining room.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Random" Acts of Kindness

Hubster did a very kind deed for someone who was in need yesterday.

It came back around to him today, in the form of a totally unrelated person, in a totally unrelated situation, doing a very kind deed for us.

Cool how that works, isn't it?

(P.S. Our offer was accepted.)

This Will Be Our Bathroom

Yes. We did it. We made an offer and signed a bunch of papers full of legal gobbledy-gook. If they accept our offer (and there's no reason they wouldn't ... unless someone else is making an offer right now as I type, which is, I guess, a possibility) and if the loan goes through (and there's no reason it shouldn't), we'll close on August 20.

This will be our luxurious new bathroom.



Note that the tub is a veritable swimming pool. I think it might even be big enough for two people a cat and a human to be in there at once.

Beau the Cat will be so excited! He's already fascinated with the concept of bathtubs. Just wait until I turn on the jets in this baby for him ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grim Realty, Part II

So. I just talked to the Patootie Bamboozler. (He's really a good guy and a good realtor. I just like saying "Patootie Bamboozler.) We're 98.6% sure we'll be making an offer and signing papers on Low-Maintenance New House tomorrow.

I'm not getting my hopes up. I've been through this before. I don't think I'm going to let myself get excited about this just yet.

Do I sound like too much of a pessimist if I say that I'll just sit here for a while and wait for the other shoe to drop?

Now where did I put that other shoe ... ?

Grim Realty

It is so hard to focus on work when there are so many realty-related things to think about! Here are just a few of the random thoughts that are running through my newly blonde head:

Should we sell? Or should we “wait out” the housing slump? I kind of want to wait it out.
Hubster wants to sell.
Should “wait out” have been in quotes?
Are we really getting a bargain on the house in Work Village? Or are we just being bamboozled?
The Work Village realtor doesn’t seem like a bamboozler. He doesn’t even seem like a typical realtor. But maybe that’s what makes him so good. Maybe his niceness is all a sham and he is bamboozling our patooties off. Reverse psychology and all.
Is our realtor a patootie bamboozler? Ha!
Assonance!
We can’t afford a house. We can, but I’d rather spend my money on other things. We should stay where we are.
Do I want to live in the house we’re thinking of buying?
I want an old farmhouse. I want to paint the walls crazy colors and have a vegetable garden and write stories and play music all day and have hiker friends stay with us and help fix the place up. We could have a fire ring. It would be cool. And I would be just minutes away from the Workplace. If it were the farmhouse, I would not have these reservations.
Hubster doesn’t want maintenance. I pick my battles. I’m letting him win this one, since it really is a battle Low Maintenance New House vs Cool Rickety Farmhouse with Magical Nooks and Crannies.
So I’ve (not) picked the battle. I’m letting him win. So why can’t I just be done with it?
Oh no. We’re going to buy the “nice” house and I’m going to hate it and we’ll have wasted a ton of money.
Oh no. We’re going to buy the “nice” house and I’m going to love it and be a Stepford Wife with my bleachy blonde yuppie hair and my clean-shaven Boy Scout husband.
Is our realtor in Maggie Valley trying to sell our house? Right now? At all? Does he really exist, or did I just dream we got a realtor? Why won’t anyone come look at our house?
That farmhouse sure would look cute painted purple. Lavender, to be more specific. With Barney-purple shutters. Just like at Seven Silver Seas, the most beautifully painted store in Maggie Valley.
No! Stop thinking about the farmhouse!
OK. I’ve stopped thinking about it. See?
Do I really want to by a luxurious Low-Maintenance New House house that has calming neutral walls, wood floors, stainless-steel appliances, and a huge basement that includes a bar and will hold a ping-pong table? Oh, it would be such fun to have friends over for ping-pong. We could be the ping-pong hub of Work Village. And we could have the bar fridge stocked full of beer for all Hubster’s rowdy friends (who have, by the way, settled down … but they still love their beer).
Do I really want a house this big? I mean, it’s just Hubster and me. And the two cats. And our friend Dodger, when he’s in town.
We’ll have room for a million guests. And how quickly will we manage to fill every last nook and cranny with New Stuff? Neither of us are particularly big Stuff-buyers, unless you consider books and hiking gear “Stuff.”
It would be so nice to be able to walk to work.
It would be so nice to have air conditioning. And a driveway that doesn’t look like a safety hazard.
I can actually be home in time to make dinner for Hubster. For friends. And with a big old kitchen, I won’t have to keep my spices in two shoeboxes under the bed anymore.

We’ll have an awesome kitchen. This would be our awesome kitchen:



Do we stay where we are? I have a carpool partner now. The commute isn’t nearly as stressful as it was before.

Of course, “before” was the busy season. Right now, very little is stressful in comparison.
Should we wait and get something cheaper and nicer? Even though I’ve scoured the Work Village market for 7 months and am quite certain that this house is the best deal out there?
I don’t want to wait too long. I don’t want to have yet another house get taken away from me, from right under my nose, because I wasn’t able to get my eggs together fast enough.
It would be nice to live in a comfortable house with a ping-pong table.
It has gas logs. I hate gas logs. Gas logs are fake logs. They don’t smell like real fireplaces. They are as fake as my new blonde hair.
Will I like fake logs as much as I like my new blonde hair? (I really like my new blonde hair.)
And I did get so tired of hauling wood back and forth …
But I still hate gas logs.
The view is not so great from the “nice” house. But the driveway is flat. Hub and I have never had a flat driveway.
We’ve never had a garage either. This house has a garage. A two-car garage. What a luxury to be able to get into my car and not get wet, or to not have to scrape off the snow and ice in the mornings before I leave for work.
There’s an office in this new house where I can write. And it won’t be in the same room as the TV, the washer, and the dryer (as it is now).
I think we should get the house. Yes. The “nice” one. I just hope someone isn’t making an offer right now, as I deliberate to myself and finally make up my mind.
Back to work.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not Quite the Hippies from My Profile Pic

Sheltowee and Waterfall, doin' the tourist thing on the Dillsboro Dinner Train.

Hubster is Crunching Numbers

Hubster is crunching numbers as I type this. Can you hear it? (Crunch ... crunch ... crunch ...)

I had given up on selling our house. Hub, fresh from the trail and not burned out on staging and house-hunting (as I was), was all gung-ho to look at houses. So I relented ... and recited. Yes, I have the housing market in Work Village memorized. I can see a listing and tell you what the original price was and how long ago it was reduced. I think I've become a house staging expert as well.

Anyway, we looked at houses. I fell in love with (yet) another old farmhouse. We called the realtor. We went to see it. Realtor can't find the key ... calls the listing agent ... and ... closing is in 10 days. That's three houses I've lost now. Four if you include the Old Farmhouse #1 that Hubster didn't want.

Today we went down to Work Village and looked at more houses, including the first house we lost--it's still on the market. The price has increased significantly due to some upgrades, but the sellers have said they will honor the price we were going to pay when we signed the contract before. So we would get to have a "luxury-living" house for some $20K less than any other buyers. I guess that is a bargain, in a way.

So we're thinking about it. And crunching the numbers. We'll see what happens.