Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And where was I before?

Happy Three Years, J!

Title: The Luckiest, by Ben Folds

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We're $%#@! the @#$% toilet...again...

Pro: Being jobless gives me time to really clean my house, like I'm supposed to--scrubbing toilets, washing towels, etc.

Pro: Giving the newly cleaned toilet one last flush before taking the towels downstairs to the laundry room was, in retrospect, a good thing.

Pro: The bathroom, and offending toilet, are directly over the unfinished portion of the basement (and right next to the washer and dryer) where a leak cannot go unnoticed if one happens to be standing at the washer loading towels.

Con: There is such a leak.

Con: This being the first time (ever) that I've scrubbed the toilet, flushed the toilet, and immediately run downstairs to wash a load of towels, I've no idea how old the leak is.

Pro: Ben Franklin Plumbers are prompt, courteous, and only charge you for sending one person, even when they send two.

Con: Previous Owner (PO, from here on out, for the way he makes me feel on a regular basis--like here), when faced with a less than steller subfloor and the need to set a toilet, chose to take the easy road, not the right road, and set me up for a leak and major reno job. (Hardly the first time he's done this to me, but still...)

Pro: Another benefit of being jobless is that I have all the time in the world (sort of) to rip up the tile and backerboard and worthless subfloor, thus saving us from paying someone else to do that part of the job.

Con: It's not looking good for replacing part of the tile, so the whole floor may need to come out.

Pro: I've been wanting to replace the vanity and sink, which gives me a noseful of sewer gas every morning (Thanks to the PO, again), anyway.

Con: Even so, it's money we'd rather spend on something fun, or at least on a home upgrade we were looking forward to, not a bathroom we thought was in decent shape for a while.

Seeing as the pros still outnumber the cons, I'm off to deal with my bathroom, rather than light a match and toss it over my shoulder as I walk away.

Title: Same toilet song as before, since it's the same toilet. Taking more liberties with the wording now....I think the writers would understand.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I see trees of green

Anyone who has seen our house or a picture of it has seen the six builder's special shrubs stretching across the front of the house. Depending on how long it has been since you've seen it, or even which season you saw the house, you might have through the shrubs were a bit out of control. You would be right. The four innermost shrubs were imposing and difficult to keep under control. The two on the ends were far beyond control, and I could only trim them as high as I could reach, so at about eight feet up they exploded into chaos much like an old man's eyebrows above the roofline of our house.

A little over a month ago, I decided I'd had enough and that the shrubs had to go. Seriously; one day it was "yeah, we really need to work on the front yard some day" and the next it was "They have to go. Now." J, as I'm sure you can imagine, quickly saw what his role would be and was not so thrilled. Lucky for me, he understood that my growing unhappiness at work had left me a little emotionally fragile, and that this request (demand?) really wasn't the kind of thing to argue.
We made plans to start the destruction on a Friday after the sun went down and hoped we could gather the mess the following morning in the cool of the day (this was the last weekend in a very hot July, mind you). Instead, we went to a birthday party Friday evening, and J went to work on a Habitat House all day Saturday. He came home exhausted and in search of a cool bed. See the last paragraph for a hint of how well I took the news that my shrubs might not come down. It wasn't particularly pretty, nor was the attempt to get the chain saw working in the dwindling light. Running out of options to please his unstable wife, J grabbed a pair of loppers and went to work, which resulted in half the shrubs coming down before bed time.

Sunday morning dawned early with a quick trip to Lowes, an attempt to get the chain saw going again, another failure, more loppers, more trips to Lowes, more failures, and more loppers. That J could move a muscle in his upper body by the end of the day truly is quite shocking. In the end, we were left with a huge pile of branches piled in the front yard, lots of stumps and sticks protruding across the front of the house, and a happy JE.

On Monday, I started researching how to get rid of mass amounts of yard waste so that we could clear the yard. I also managed to get sick enough that J was willing to pay an arm and a leg to just be done with the darn project. I agreed and called our lawn service to see if they could help. Tuesday morning, they arrived to haul off the shrubs, leaving us with the stumps and a promise to come back and remove them, too.

We spent most of the month of August being "that house" on the block--our stumps, the dead grass (have I mentioned the hot, dry summer?), no storm door (result of a strong wind storm back in July, and quite frankly, another long story), and huge tomato plant (with only one tomato) hanging out on the front porch. It was starting to be a bit embarassing.

Finally, the stumps have been removed, a new front door has been ordered, and I've spent some time at a couple of local nurseries checking out native, low-maintenance species to plant out front. I'm looking forward to sharing the final results in another month or so, but decided that the story is too long not break into two posts, anyhow. Oh, and we're thinking about adding this little guy to welcome the world during the World Equestrian Games at the end of the month. Thoughts?

Title: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

Friday, September 3, 2010

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

I hate change. It makes me uncomfortable, nervous, scared. When I was nine, my family prepared to move from the town where we had lived for five years to a small community nearly a thousand miles away. While it was hardly my first move, it was the first one that I was old enough to feel, to have my own life and friendships impacted by. In the weeks before the move, I expressed my discomfort with the whole thing to my father, who shared with me his thoughts on moving. The problem with moving, he said, is not necessarily that we don't want to leave; it's that we can't take the pieces of our old home that we like so much with us to the new home. He was right--my friends parents were unlikely to pick up their own lives and move with us to accomodate me. Our house couldn't be put on a truck and hauled across the mountains. I wasn't at all opposed to growing--to meeting new people and experiencing new things; I just wanted to keep the comfortable pieces of my old life with me, too.

Throughout my life, I've thought about his comment several times--not just when moving, but when faced with all sorts of changes. As the song suggests, a fresh start--be it a new city or a new job--follows an ending, and as much as we'd like to keep the best parts of one experience as we move onto another, most times we just can't.

Today, I'm hanging out in the in-between, thanks to a well-placed holiday weekend. Unfortunately, the in-between gives me time to think more about the experience that ended yesterday. After three and a half years, I no longer work for the Girl Scouts. This was my first experience with a permanent full-time position, and I learned so much about bureaucracy in practice, about workplace dynamics, and about myself. Am I disappointed that what I learned about myself didn't mesh with the bureaucracy and what my job became? Absolutely. Am I still completely impressed by the young women who are products of the program and its mission? Yep. Do I still want to keep those young women, the colleagues who promote that mission, and the program opportunities we created a part of my life? Of course. I didn't leave because I could not stand every part of it--but how much of the old can I (or should I) try to take with me into the new?

As with all changes, I will try to keep those best parts of the Girl Scouts in my new life. Odds are, most of them will fall by the wayside as I explore new opportunities. The very best of them will not. Here's to growth.

Title: "Closing Time" by Semisonic