Summer Arrives

Summer Arrives

A Day Early and Sunshine Short

The last two to three weeks have felt more like Summer than today does. Yesterday, we had the first cloudy slightly rainy day since May and right now, outside my window, the clouds have come down to Earth. I’m not complaining, really! I needed a break from sunshine, humidity and mid-90s temperatures. But enough about the weather.

The flowers and plants I planted earlier in the Spring continue to bloom. I’m a terrible tender though and frequently forget to water early in the morning. When your commute is a matter of seconds from ‘home’ to ‘office,’ you (meaning I) tend to dive right into work. Despite evidence to the contrary, I remain extremely busy with projects and support for my employer, who is thankfully returning furloughed employees now. I even have plans to return to the office for a half day late next week; mostly because my laptop has decided to take an involuntary vacation so it needs a more permanent and reliable replacement. That and I have a major upgrade to perform so being on site means no risk of power or internet outages in the home office.

Continue reading “Summer Arrives”

Main Bathroom Remodel Marathon Finish Line in Sight

This is a shout-out to my hubby, Terry, who has worked tirelessly for months (nearly a year) to remodel our main bathroom.  We saw the light at the end of the tunnel last week with the arrival of the final piece in the puzzle:

20140521_061703This new vanity, the second one ordered after the first one was returned because of defects, weighs close to or over two hundred pounds, without the granite top. Continue reading “Main Bathroom Remodel Marathon Finish Line in Sight”

Renovations Continue: The Kitchen Sink

I couldn’t sleep in on Tuesday, though I really could have used some extra downtime after two long days of driving following an exhilarating weekend at the Circuit of the Americas for the return of Formula One racing to the United States.   I had more excitement awaiting me in my own home.

A week ago, we had a contractor come in and refinish our kitchen counter tops and backsplash.  This process requires the kitchen remain undisturbed for at least a week.  We actually planned this refinishing to coincide with our vacation and roadtrip to Austin, Texas to attend the USGP.

Sink Hole
Sink Hole (click image for rest of album)

So, with less than two days to Thanksgiving, and an expected house full of family on their own two-day roadtrips to join us, I nervously watched Terry tackle multiple installations, starting with the sink.  Most of the afternoon was spent prepping the sink hole and the sink basin to seal it into place and get it squared up with the rest of the counter.  Then Terry installed the drains and we watched silicone set for a few minutes.  But not too long.  We needed to move on to the second project that had to be finished before the stove could be returned to its normal resting place:  Installing a new range hood.

Installing First Range HoodWe reviewed the installation instructions but could not locate the parts bag referenced therein.  We made one of many trips to Home Depot to inquire about the missing mounting hardware.  After looking in several other range hood boxes (also suspiciously already open), the Home Depot employee went to the hardware aisle and gave us the wood screws we needed.  Terry found a short 1″x2″ he needed to use as a shim.  We returned home and began mounting the shims, only to discover the wood screws were too long (by a quarter of an inch) and had punched through the shelf into the cabinet.

By this time, Terry and I were exhausted and frustrated.  Since it was nearly ten o’clock at night, we called it a night.

∞∞∞

I woke up Wednesday early and reviewed the Thanksgiving edition of the Food Network Magazine.  I wanted to try at least three or four of the recipes featured and needed to make a grocery list to cover all the ingredients I might need.  Since Rachelle awoke before I left, she accompanied me to Dillons.  I wanted to hit the grocery store early to avoid all the people who would rush in after midday.  Most people would probably get off from work at noon, so my best shot at the best selection of produce and other products would occur in the early morning hours.  I remembered almost everything I needed.

Installing New FaucetOnce Terry woke up, he immediately got down (literally) to installing the drain plumbing.  This necessitated at least two more trips to Home Depot for replacement and new PVC piping.  He successfully (and almost two easily) got the garbage disposal side of the drain installed.  To give his back a break, he switched to the top side and began installing the new Moen faucet we purchased from Lowes on Tuesday afternoon.  I chose this particular model because the reviews stated it had an exceptionally easy installation.  The only drawback mentioned involved installing the weight to the pull-down faucet head hose.  This weight keeps the faucet head (not shown yet at right) snug against the tall faucet pipe.

We returned to the range hood to finish the install.  I went down to the electrical box and threw the breaker for the north side of the kitchen to the off position. While Rachelle and I held the hood into position, Terry secured it to the re-installed shims with the shorter length wood screws.  He hooked up the electrical and installed the halogen bulbs.  I returned to the basement and flipped the breaker back to the on position.  We tested the lights and they worked.  We tested the fan, and nothing happened.  We could still see into the fan compartment so Terry stuck his head and hands back up in there to determine what the problem was.  He discovered the spot welds that were meant to hold the fan housing in place had broken.  Needless to say, none of us were happy at this point.

Second Range Hood InstalledTerry began uninstalling the range hood while I went to find another, better range hood on the internet.  We had bought the best model that would fit in our space above the range and below the cabinets from Home Depot, so we were going to return the defective range hood and buy one from someone else.  We stopped at Kmart/Sears (right next door to Home Depot), but that particular Sears outlet does not maintain any stock.  All items had to be ordered.  This  necessitated that we drive south to the Legends shopping area and specifically Nebraska Furniture Mart, where we found a much nicer model, with more features and a better interior fan design, for only about $50-70 more.  We returned home and had the second range installed in less than fifteen minutes.  This time both the lights and the fan worked as expected.

Hooking Up Electrical for RangeTerry re-installed the range next.  The breaker for the 240 circuit had been left in the off position since we uninstalled the range over ten days before.  I double-checked it, though, when I flipped breakers on/off for the range hood installation.  I made sure Terry used his work gloves to avoid any threat of cuts from the sharp metal brackets and fixtures on the back of the stove.

With the range and range hood installed and functional, all that remained was the right-hand drain for the kitchen sink and the weight for the faucet pull-down.  Terry twisted and prodded the right-hand side pipes to curl almost back on themselves to reach the new sink’s drain hole.  However, despite various large plumbing pliers, Terry eventually resorted to a hose clamp and electrical tape to get the weight secured to the faucet hose.  As I mentioned above, many of the reviews for this particular model of Moen noted the weight install to be flawed (or nigh on impossible).

By four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, my kitchen was returned to me, ready to begin nearly non-stop cooking duties for the next twenty-four hours. I had to make one final trip to Dillons, though, to pick up the roasted turkey and other fixings I’d ordered earlier in November.  I decided weeks ago that I wouldn’t have time to thaw a turkey because of our trip to the Formula One race in Austin.  While on the way to the grocery store, I received a call from my uncle, telling me they had safely arrived in Leavenworth and were in the Price Chopper.  I directed them to Dillons, where I was headed (they preferred to shop there as well to accumulate fuel reward points).  I met Ron in the parking lot and we discussed the itinerary for Thanksgiving day.  I picked up my turkey and fixings and escaped the mad dash of people making their last minute shopping spree.  So many people in that store, you could hardly breathe.

MY First Pineapple Upside Down CakeI returned home and shoe-horned the turkey into the refrigerator.  I then proceed to bake my father’s requested birthday cake.  The very first thing I baked also happened to be a first attempt for me as a cook.  I baked a pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron skillet.  I also attempted to make one loaf of bread, my Honey Wheat Toasting Oat Bread, but when I pulled the baked loaf out of my bread machine after midnight, it almost resembled a brick.  Not an auspicious beginning to Thanksgiving day baking.

First Item Cooked in Updated Kitchen
Down to the Wire, but What a Beautiful Finish (click image for rest of album)

New Appliance ArrangementI decided not to return the microwave to the corner between the range and the sink.  Having the microwave in that space negates all the counter space available for baking or cooking.  I plan to purchase a microwave cart or some other piece of kitchen furniture to keep that appliance off my new counters.

Terry during F1 USGP at COTA in Austin, Texas, Sunday, 11/18/2012
Terry during F1 USGP at COTA in Austin, Texas, Sunday, 11/18/2012

I want to thank Terry for the incredible effort and skill he exerted during this kitchen remodel project.  Without his knowledge, dedication and attention to detail, none of these results would have been possible.

Thank you, dear husband.  You are amazing.

From Drab Beige and Brown to Eye-Pleasing Black and White

Just a quick post to bring you up-to-speed on the latest Moss Family home improvement projects.  Last week, we refreshed our bottom kitchen cabinets:

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing
Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing (click photo for rest of album/slideshow)

This week we tackled refinishing the countertops and backsplash, which involved quite a bit more destruction of the kitchen (including the sink and stove) than refinishing cabinets:

Kitchen Countertop Refinishing
Kitchen Countertop Refinishing (click photo for before, during and after photo album/slideshow)

Now, the countertops need to cure for a week, which means we’ll be without a kitchen until next Tuesday. But in the meantime, I can enjoy the view.  The results are simply mind-blowing:

After Photos of Countertop

Besides curing for a week, the countertops also need about thirty days before they are completely impervious to damage. This was a bit of a drawback considering Thanksgiving is just eight days away. I’ll have to use placemats or a tablecloth to protect my beautiful new countertop next week.

Apple Harvest Preservation: Strawberry Jam and Slightly Spicy Sauce

Photo1714.jpgIn addition to all the applesauce I created last weekend, I tried my hand at some strawberry jam.  I selected a recipe that used apples as well as strawberries, and a bit of lemon (and lemon seeds).  Here’s a link to the blog post where I found the strawberry jam recipe:  “Through My Kitchen Window: Strawberry and Apple Jam.”  I doubled the recipe, but should have refrained from doubling the water.  It took hours to reduce the strawberries, apples and water down to the proper jam consistency.  I also added a bit of low-sugar/no-sugar pectin, when I began to wander if the jam would ever, well, jam.  An entire afternoon spent babysitting the stockpot resulted in four half-pints of strawberry jam.  I guess I’ll find out later if all the effort was worth it.

Unlike the previous two Saturdays, I didn’t immediately jump out of bed yesterday and begin peeling, coring and slicing apples.  Instead, I threw myself into de-junking our garage.  My husband snagged some new(er) garage doors this week, rescuing them from death row and a permanent burial at the local dump.  Compared to our existing garage doors, they look nearly brand new.  With the time-table on the garage door project drastically moved up (we had planned to buy new garage doors next year, probably during the summer), we needed the front half of the garage cleared out.  Terry scheduled the installation for next weekend, and before then he needs to paint the doors to match our trim color.

I gingerly opened the southern side garage door, hoping it would hold together well enough to roll up and not fall on my head.  I needed that door open so I could get to twelve years worth of accumulated junk, some of which had not been seen or touched since we moved into this house in February 1999.  I set my camera up under my large oak tree in the front yard so I could take some time lapse photos of this endeavor (click photo below for slideshow):

Dejunk South Garage Bay

After spending all day on my feet, to the tune of over 15,000 steps (according to my pocket pedometer, which I accidentally reset by bending over and lifting too much), I decided I needed to stand around some more, this time in a dark field gazing up at the stars and planets.  I even invited my dad to come along for the ride to Powell Observatory (more on that outing in an upcoming post).

I laid my head on my pillow some time during the one o’clock in the morning hour.  I did first warm myself up in the hot tub with Terry.  I wanted to be able to feel my fingers and toes again before I fell asleep.  My back and knees thanked me, at least while I stayed in the hot water.

Sunrise brought stiffness and soreness.  I took it easy, brewing some Irish Blend tea to help wake up my brain.  Terry had been up all night, visiting the hot tub two more times thanks to his back.  Since he was up, I whipped up some sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast.  He attempted to watch the Singapore Grand Prix race, but soon succumbed to a food coma and retired upstairs to sleep it off.

With Terry upstairs, I could move freely about the kitchen without worrying about making too much noise (and waking him up).  I began peeling, coring and slicing all the apples I had in the kitchen.  I filled my stockpot up about halfway when I ran out of already picked apples.  I grabbed my large basket and went out to forage for fresh apples.  I came back in with a full basket and selected eight or ten large good ones.  I set those aside to be used in the second apple pie of the harvest.

I prepared another dozen or two apples and filled the stockpot up nearly to the top.  I moved it from the front right burner to the back left burner, so I could put the water bath canner on the large front burner.  I selected nine pint jars and placed them in the canner.  I  began filling the pints with distilled water and then continued filling the canner with distilled water until all the jars were immersed and covered with at least an inch of water.  I turned the burner up to medium high heat to begin the long process of heating the water and jars to nearly boiling temperature.

I let the stockpot simmer for a half hour or more, taking the chance to relax, read part of a book and write a blog post.   I transferred hot mushy apples to the glass blender jar and pureed them four cups at a time.  When I reached the bottom of the stockpot I had nearly twenty cups of applesauce.  Success!  I had enough to fill all nine pint jars in the canner!  I returned the applesauce to the stockpot.  I squeezed a fresh lemon and added the juice to the stockpot.

I planned to spice up this batch of applesauce for my kids.  Derek and Rachelle both love cinnamon apple sauce.  I began with two tablespoons of cinnamon.  After I stirred in the spice, I tasted it, but couldn’t really taste anything different.  I took a spoonful to Terry and he agreed I should add more cinnamon.  I added another tablespoon and tasted again.  I got a hint of cinnamon.  I took Terry another taste.  He thought there was enough spice.  I added a half cup of sugar and tasted again.  There, I could taste the cinnamon with the aid of the sugar.

I processed all the pints in the canner, filling them as recommended, leaving a half-inch of head space.  I cranked up the heat to high and put a timer on for ten minutes.  When the alert sounded, I checked the canner’s interior to confirm a roiling boil, then added another ten minutes to the timer.  At the next beep, I turned off the burner and removed the canner from the heat source, leaving the lid off to help cool down the contents gently.  I came back an hour or so later and placed the jars on the rack to cool overnight.

Nine Pints

This week I plan to make at least one apple pie (the second one of the harvest season) and more apple butter.  I only have four pint jars left, but several half-pints are waiting to be filled with either butter or chutney.   My daughter called to let me know she tried the chutney with some pork and loved it.

The apple tree still has plenty of apples ripening on it’s limbs.  I’ll keep picking them until the tree is bare.  Unless I buy another dozen pint jars, though, I’m probably done making applesauce this harvest.

The Gray and the White

Purple Haze Next Phase
Prep complete, time to paint (Sun Aug 5, ’12)

We protected the purple walls with blue tape, brown paper and clear plastic drop clothes last weekend.  We wrapped up the room by Sunday evening, ready for Terry to paint the ceiling during the night, when that front southeast corner room would remain cool.  He did get the edging done before we took time out for dinner and an episode of Falling Skies.

Purple Haze Next Phase
Terry moving the ladder while cutting in the ceiling.

I woke up Monday to the same dingy gray ceiling, but I wasn’t complaining.  Terry could take as much time as he needed.  I headed off to work.  Terry painted as much as he could Monday afternoon, but ran out of paint at about the halfway point on the ceiling.  I saw a trip to Home Depot in our future for more bright white ceiling paint.  Terry thought about buying a five gallon bucket of ceiling paint, because we also have to paint the vaulted ceiling in our bedroom before we proceed with flooring in that room.  The $103 price was a bit of a shock, but we compromised and bought a two gallon variety instead for a bit over $40.  We reviewed the hard wood flooring options available, still not happy about having to order what we wanted and have it ‘quick shipped’ to us a week to ten days later.  Nothing ‘quick’ about that, if you ask me.

Purple Haze Next Phase
The Grey and White Ceiling

The ceiling remained half-gray, half-white for a couple more days.  I came home Wednesday evening to a bright white ceiling and the smell of drying paint.  We turned on the ceiling fan and retired downstairs for dinner and an episode of Chopped.  A thunderstorm rolled through Lansing while we ate, dumping some much needed rain on us and gracing us with a beautiful double rainbow.

Double Rainbow
Double Rainbow (Wed Aug 8, ’12) – click image for rest of album

The rain demonstrated yet another home maintenance issue to resolve before the drought ends in earnest.

Rain with Thunderstorm

Terry finished painting the ceiling Wednesday, applying two coats of the bright white ceiling paint.

White Ceiling

With the ceiling dry, we could unwrap the room, leaving a huge pile in the middle of the floor to confuse the dogs.

White Ceiling

This concludes the renovation of the top of the purple room. Next, we’ll tackle the floor, once we decide on whether we’re just doing this one bedroom, or all the bedrooms on the top floor.

Purple Haze Phase

Purple Haze
Spare Bedroom #2 – Purple Haze (click image for rest of album)

I can thank my daughter for the choice of wall colors in my library and the other spare bedroom on the top floor of our home.  As you can see above, my daughter transformed an otherwise boring eggshell colored wall to eye-popping purple.  Her other spare bedroom, which I took over as my library, she foreshadowed in green, perhaps predicting her eventual defection to the University of North Texas? (Go Mean Green!).

In the green library, with the brown lounger, on hardwood floors (Aug 2011)

I received news last week that my son and his wife will be visiting us the second weekend of August. This finally spurred me out of my summertime torpidity and got me to cleaning out the aforementioned purple bedroom. I asked Terry if we could get the hardwood floors installed before Derek and Royna arrive. He countered with “I need to paint the ceiling before I put the new floor in.” Why, you might ask? Well, because my daughter, with the impetuousness (and impatience) of youth, did not protect the white ceiling from her purple paintbrush.

Purple Haze

I spent a couple of evenings last week sorting through empty boxes; old wrapping paper; even older clothes (a leftover tuxedo my son wore in high school ten years ago for a choir uniform); baseball and football trading cars; parts of a RC car; a skateboard; some stuffed animals; a laundry basket full of books; etc., etc.  Some of it even made it all the way down three sets of stairs to the basement storage room.  A few items just made it across the hallway into the master bedroom or the library.

I found the floor by late afternoon on Saturday, enough to sweep.  Terry brought up the five-in-one ladder so he could start taping off the walls from the ceiling.  This morning, I picked up where he left off and began putting rolled brown paper over the top of the first layer of painters tape to which we will eventually tape some plastic drop clothes.  Terry should have the ceiling painted today.

Then it’s down to the floors.

Back in Hot Water Again

One of my all-time favorite episodes of Mythbusters involves proving (or disproving depending on your optimism meter that day) the myth of explosive, even dare I say, orbit-seeking rocket-like hot water heaters.  Mostly I love this episode (click here to see an excerpt) because of the fantastic slow motion footage (aka high speed photography) in stunning HD (at least when I saw it ‘live’ the first time back in November 2007 on my plasma … the excerpt obviously isn’t available in HD via the web).

Having experienced the detrimental effects of water heaters gone bad, albeit vicariously through Adam and Jamie, I did not wish to be confronted with a similar circumstance erupting from our basement.  Never fear, as proven by the Mythbusters, it takes quite a bit of reverse engineering and removal of multiple safety features to convert your average water heater into a Titan want-to be.  Still, our old (twelve or thirteen years old as far as we can recall) water heater sprung a leak under the burner a few weeks ago, and this week began pooling water on top of the tank.  Terry and I decided it had to go and called in an order for a bigger and better unit.

The plumbing contractor for Home Depot must have been strapped for work, because they wanted to install the new water heater the very next day (Tuesday the 14th, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day).  Terry asked them to hold off a day, because we needed to tidy up the basement and deal with some minor electrical wiring projects we’d been putting off for months.  I asked my father, my favorite electrician, if he could spare a couple of hours on Tuesday afternoon to help Terry complete those projects.  He agreed readily.  By the time I got home Tuesday evening, they were finished in the basement.  Dad stayed for a steak dinner (with a side of freshly sauteed asparagus).

Terry called me the next day before noon to let me know the new water heater, expansion tank (required by city ordinance) and a pressure regulator had been installed and everything looked and worked great.  When I got home that night, I had less water pressure (previously, I had over 100 psi, but with the new pressure regulator, it throttled back the pressure inside the house to less than 80 psi) but more hot water.  I grabbed my camera (something I forgot to do when Dad was on site on Tuesday) and took the requisite ‘after’ photos of the newly installed equipment.  I had to dig way back in my photo albums to find a ‘before’ photo of the old water heater, taken in December 2010, when we installed the new furnace and air conditioning units.

Before Photo of Water Heater and Furnace (Way Before - circa Dec 2010)

New Bigger Better Water Heater
After Photo of New Water Heater (2/15/2012)

Terry and I hope this is the last (and really there’s nothing left to replace) large appliance or utility expense we make in this house.  Especially since we opted to buy a water heater with a twelve year warranty.  We are both looking forward to years of worry-free non-explosive hot water.

Weird Wednesday

Sunrise Thurs 16 June 2011
Sunrise Thurs 16 June 2011

Yesterday started off normal enough.  Snoozed through a couple of alarms.  Woke up feeling a bit woozy, so I took it slow.  I fed the dogs and let them rummage around in the back yard.  I descended three flights of stairs (well, half flights anyway in my strangely split four-level house) and found something to wear to work.   I made sure Terry was awake and ready by six so we could take the Bonneville to the repair shop for an alignment and rotate and balance of its tires.  Then I sat on the front porch waiting to be picked up by my vanpool, having asked the backup driver to pick me up at home so Terry would have a vehicle.

The commute to work was uneventful and I began my workday with a green tea, toasted wheat bagel and banana from the Baristas in the library’s lobby.  Ninety minutes later, the wierdness began with a text from the backup vanpool driver (our regular driver took the rest of the week off to close on her new house and start moving in).  Receiving a text from him is not unusual, but one that asks me to call him at my first opportunity is.  So I called him.

He needed to return to Leavenworth to deal with a family emergency and was trying to find a way to 1) get the van to me so the other two people in the vanpool had a ride home from work (I’m the second backup vanpool driver) and 2) get back to Leavenworth.  I told him I’d call him back after I found my boss to ask if I could help him return to Leavenworth.  My boss, being the awesome guy he is, had no problem with me helping out so I called Jim back and gave him the go ahead.

Another ninety minutes wound by, as Jim wrapped up a project at his work, and we were off on the return trip to Leavenworth.  You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.  A light north wind, crystal clear skies of a vivid blue, no haze or humidity (I could clearly see the horizons, meaning visibility exceeded ten miles or more).  Jim elaborated on the situation at home (which I won’t go into here but rest assured it was not life threatening, just a logistics nightmare for him), when my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize.  I answered it tentatively and was relieved to hear my uncle’s voice.  The weirdness wrench ratcheted up another spoke.

Ron and his wife Treva were traveling from Iowa to Kansas, about to pass through Kansas City.  Ron was calling for some traffic avoidance tips and a flood update (because he knew I-29 was closed north of the metro area and didn’t know if any of the other area interstates were also affected).   He thought about taking I-635 to avoid downtown, but for some reason I thought I-435 would be better.  Not being a cyborg with a built-in GPS nor owning a smart enough phone to check while riding in a van, I soon remembered that I-35 doesn’t really connect with I-435 on the northeast side of Kansas City (i.e. the Liberty area) so I-635 was his best bet (with a short dogleg on I-29 to get from I-35 to I-635).  Soon after we agreed on this route, my uncle’s cell phone lost service and we were disconnected.  I didn’t attempt to call back, since there didn’t seem to be any point and I didn’t want to bore Jim with more inane family logistics.

I called Terry, who was asleep (nothing unusual about that) and asked if he wanted to pick me up this afternoon from the parking lot.  He said no, groggily.  I asked Terry to unlock the front door so I could retrieve the Firebird keys without digging through the bottom of my purse for my seldom used house key.  Jim dropped me off and I soon followed in the Firebird.  I jumped back in the van, after wishing Jim safe travels for all of his family, and headed back to Kansas City.  My phone rang again on the way back but this time I did recognize the number … it was my mother.  Weirdness strikes again.

I had just seen her the evening before.  She went to Cushing after work on Tuesday to have blood drawn prior to her surgery scheduled for Thursday morning.  She started feeling light-headed to the point of passing out and couldn’t drive herself home.  I was still at work Tuesday afternoon when she called me to take her home.  It takes me an hour to get home and when I did arrive, another roofing contractor was on-site measuring the house for a roofing estimate.  I needed Terry to follow me out to Easton, so I had to wait until the roofer finished his measurements and queried us on our requirements.

So when I received the call from my mother late Wednesday morning while driving away from Leavenworth, I worried that I would now have a huge dilemma if I needed to help her again, since there is no other backup driver for the vanpool.  Imagine my relief when my mom called me from her work to tell me the surgery was canceled because her doctor fell and hurt his back (no, I wasn’t happy the doctor hurt himself, just that my mom was all right).  Surgery would be rescheduled in two to three weeks.  This was a relief to me, since I had several projects I was juggling at work.

I got back to work and parked the van in my building’s parking garage, clear down on the third level (because it was the middle of the day by now and all the best parking spots were taken).  I missed the health enhancement lunch seminar I had registered for because I didn’t get back until 12:30 p.m.  Back at my desk, I continued working on my projects.

My cubemate of nearly fifteen years has a major project percolating this week, with a major software upgrade and rollout scheduled to start after work on Friday.  Adding to her already high stress level, her sister called her Tuesday to tell her their 90+ year old mother’s kidneys were failing and that this ‘was the end.’  So Marge is hoping her mother lasts at least until next week so she can get this upgrade behind her.  Marge’s backup plan for the upgrade?  She asked me if I had an hour or so on Friday to go over her upgrade checklist in case she had to hop a plane to New York for a funeral.  Sure, I said (wincing internally).  Firm-wide software upgrades are my specialty.

The rest of the afternoon proceeded without further weirdness.  I sent an e-mail to the other vanpool riders, telling them I would leave the Plaza at 4:00 pm and arrive at Hallmark headquarters by 4:15 pm.  Just as I was cruising down Grand through Crown Center, my phone rings again.  I saw it was my hubby calling me so I answered it.  He’s calling to ask me when I will be home as the Bonneville is ready to be picked up.  I explained that I still had to drop off one rider in Kansas City, Kansas, but hoped to be back in Lansing by 5:00 pm (when the repair shop closes).  I told him I’d call him after dropping her off with an update on my time.

Dodging traffic on I-70 as best I could in the top-heavy sluggish van, I managed to make it to the Legends (via Parallel) by 4:45 pm.  I called Terry and told him while I might make it to our house by 5:00 pm, he might want to call them and see if he could pay the balance over the phone and then we could just pickup the car after I finish driving the van back to Hallmark in Leavenworth.  Terry said he’d call the repair shop.  I called him again as I was passing Wallula church, the highest point on K-7 that overlooks Lansing and Leavenworth from the south.  He was waiting out by the mailbox and the repair shop said they usually hang around until 5:15 pm or so.

I pulled into our court at 5:01 pm and got Terry in the van and introduced him to the other rider.  I proceed to the repair shop (less than a mile north on Main Street aka K-7/US-73) and dropped Terry off.  Then, finally, I could head to Hallmark and park the van.  I said goodbye to Chuck and hopped in the Firebird to return home.  Terry left the garage door open so I wouldn’t have to mess with the front door.

Since Wednesdays are band practice nights for WolfGuard, I volunteered to cook supper.  We had a couple of minute steaks already breaded, so I quickly fried them and made some instant mashed potatoes.  We had left-over gravy from two nights ago, so I heated that up as well.  We ate a salad and then started in on the regular meal.  Then Terry’s phone rang.  The drummer was calling. Weirdness ratcheting higher yet again.

The drummer informed Terry he was probably moving to New Mexico in July to pursue a job.  Not great news for the band, but not much you can do about it in this economy.  Practice proceeded as best it could, since the lead guitarist was out-of-town for work this week and next.  Songs sounded good, tight and relaxed.  I always enjoy being serenaded with classic rock and metal.

Another roofer showed up just before band practice (second one today and probably the fifth this week) and the Rotts went nuts.  Over their obnoxious barking, I gave the roofers permission to climb all over my house and measure.  Terry spoke to them a couple of times, but wasn’t impressed with their professionalism (or lack there of).  They later called back with their estimate, which was low but didn’t meet our requirements, and will probably not be considered in our final decision.

The band began arriving and I changed into work clothes to mow the back yard.  For the last couple of weeks, a teenage girl has been mowing my front and side yards, leaving only the back yard for me to mess with.  Since rain was forecast for the rest of the week, I needed to get the back mowed.  Besides, I didn’t want to waste time this weekend mowing, when I could be enjoying Father’s Day with my hubby and my dad.

Band practice wound down during the nine o’clock hour.  I read chapters from a couple of books and retired upstairs to sleep.  Terry came up to cuddle for a few minutes and we discussed the roof, other remodel projects, including a call he had with a local interior designer (between roofers) and the band.  Eventually, he went back downstairs and I drifted off to sleep, praying that Thursday dawned quietly.   Less weirdness would be welcome.

Addendum (after lunch Thursday):  I forgot another call I received last night.  Receiving calls is a bit unusual for my cell phone (outside of the ones from Terry of course).  I can go days without my dumbphone ringing.  Oh, actually I forgot another call from the morning.  My dad called me shortly after eight o’clock in response to a Facebook status update I posted Tuesday night.  My status updates can be a bit obscure, but meaningful if you have a couple of key pieces of information.

After I finished mowing the back yard, I attempted to call my daughter, Rachelle, who has been in Boston all week.  The UNT Collegium singers (and the Baroque Orchestra) performed at a music festival there on Tuesday and Wednesday was the sightseeing day.  I wanted to get her impressions of Boston.  She returned my call after I’d gone to bed, just after ten o’clock Central (or eleven o’clock in Boston).  I could barely hear her over what sounded like a riot.  Not being much of a sports fan, I had no idea the pandemonium that had descended upon Boston after the Bruins beat Vancouver 4-0 and won the Stanley cup.  Hockey hooligans aside, Rachelle related the highlights of her walk along the Freedom Trail (all six miles of it), including the old North Church, Paul Revere’s house and the USS Constitution.   She hoped to catch some of the old homes on Beacon Hill before flying home to Texas Thursday morning.

Mezzo Soprano Grouto

Not only is my daughter, Rachelle, an aspiring and talented mezzo soprano studying at UNT, she can:

  • Train Rottweilers (in German)
  • Draw your blood (certified phlebotomist)
  • Count to ten in Japanese thanks to years of judo and jujitsu
  • Crochet left-handed (something I couldn’t have taught her)
  • Tune a piano (but not a fish)
  • Grout tile

Grouted Tile Entryway Courtesy Rachelle
Grouted Tile Entryway Courtesy Rachelle

It only took two years and my daughter’s elbow grease to get the grout between these tiles.  Thank you Rachelle!