Thursday, January 31, 2008

Greetings from Box Central

Isn't it wonderful to have a friend help you with packing boxes and such when you're moving? Rudi is the perfect helper. He holes up in a corner (literally!) and nods his approval of all I'm doing.

What I'm doing is trying to figure out what goes and what stays. Part of the mathematical equation is (cost of moving) + (cost of long-term storage) vs. (replacement cost). Oh yeah, and whether I have touched that item in the past year-and-a-half.

The tireder I get, the greater the number of things that get tossed in the latest Goodwill box or posted in the "free" category on craigslist. Thank the Powers-That-Be for Craig, whoever he is.

I'm developing a real short-timer attitude at work. I was in a meeting this morning where the woman on my team who will be assuming that particular responsibility was also in attendance. I basically paid no attention and bluffed my way out whenever I was asked a question. Horrible! Not me! I don't care.

The problems our team has had with this particular manager of the past almost-two years has really colored my opinion of the IBM of today. It's sad, really. But I am tremendously better off with this new job and the new life I'm getting ready to craft.

Right now I am tired. I think I'll go to bed and pet my packer-helper.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It Never Ends!

When I arrived home from work today, expecting to see a new reverse osmosis filter, a repaired kitchen faucet, the absence of a not-attached-to-the-water-line-anymore hose bib on the patio, and the repositioning of the pool shower enclosure, I found all except the kitchen faucet. Turns out the gizmo on the faucet that switches it from stream to spray was broken. The plumber had not called me at the office to alert me to this problem. He had just written me a nice little note.

I don't have time for nice little notes. I need things done NOW! I am running on sheer stress, and if my hair isn't completely gray by the time I get this house ready, I'll be shocked. Really.

So I called the plumbing supervisor, my guy Danny, and then raced over to Lowe's to buy a new kitchen faucet.

And that now means I have one less hour to work on straightening the house.

Done. I want this process done.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pajamas - Flannel? Cashmere?

The Traveler told me (jokingly, I'm sure) that he ordered a pair of flannel pajamas for me from Land's End. I told him if I'd have dreamed he was going to do that, I would have specified cashmere instead of flannel!

Maybe There's Still Hope For Me!

In my daily call with my 94yo mother this morning, she told me that one of Daddy's medical school classmates, an 88yo retired doctor who lives near her in Hendersonville, has just gotten married.

Now there's a man who believes in the future.

Flannel Pajamas!

I got a note from our dear Youngstown friend Ron yesterday. He was encouraging me to get rid of as much "stuff" as possible before the move. He and Marcia moved eight years ago, from a big old Colonial overlooking Crandall Park into a modern ranch in the next zip code. He told me they still have boxes in the garage that they haven't unpacked.

I'm doing lots of thinking about what I haven't used, what to get rid of, what will cost less to replace than to move and store. I'll be offering most everything to the beleaguered TSO musicians, hoping maybe they can find things they need and simply don't have the money for during this horrible no-contract year. And I keep checking in with Tyler: "Do we need this? Can we use that?"

I'm going to give all my stained glass materials and tools to Tucson Unified School District's Opening Minds Through the Arts (OMA) program, after letting my boss pick out what she wants. She told me she and her sister are going to start stained glass classes, and she's been so wonderful to me that I want to give her something to remember me by.

I keep giving things to Frank. He loves antiques. I gave him an antique kerosene lantern, probably 150 years old, that will fit right into his eclectic decorating. And I gave him a propane outdoor heater that will allow him and whatever lady is currently in his life to sit in the garden when it's cool. And my bird feeder and the great big stand to hang it from. And some dichoric glass too good and expensive to give to the school district. He wouldn't let me pay him for hanging my lights, but I've given him far more in desireable household stuff than I would have paid any other electrician. Gonna miss him horribly.

I've made two trips to Goodwill already, and there are more trips to come. I'm feeling overwhelmed about getting the house ready to show, but have just realized that my perfectionism must take a back seat to my sanity.

But what will I need in the mother-in-law suite over the garage? Flannel pajamas! I freeze when I'm up there. I bought a heated mattress pad for my bed, but still need flannel pajamas. And the good heavyweight flannel PJs at Garnet Hill are all out-of-stock. Where can I find flannel pajamas when stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, are showing Spring clothing?

Flannel pajamas. Size Large. That's my new mission.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I just accepted the position of technical writer at Virtual Hold Technology in Akron, Ohio.

VHT has been voted as one of the best companies to work for in Ohio. They make virtual queueing software and, in the past three years, have tripled their revenues and doubled the number of employees.

The benefits are fabulous, the pay is good, and the people I've met really nice.

I've asked for my last day at IBM to be February 15th, then on the weekend of 2/16 I'll run out to San Diego to meet my step-grandchildren and step-daughter-in-law before heading east.

Here's a virtual clink of the virtual champagne glass with each of you. Thanks for all the encouragement over the past year as I papered the eastern United States with my résumés.

Water Works*

*Not the Monopoly property.

My imminent departure is really sinking in, and I'm realizing what wonderful friends I have here and how hard I've worked to make my place in Tucson. Every time I talk to someone and realize that I won't see them again for a very long time, if ever, I feel tears welling up in my eyes.

I moved out here in January of 2000 with a fiancé who emotionally abandoned me almost as soon as we got here. I used Pi Phi and, later, arts and crafts classes to meet people, make friends, and find myself.

Now I'm going to leave, eight years older and light years wiser (and sans fiancé), and start over yet again.

I'm scared. I'm happy. I'm excited. I'm sad.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Alignment of the Stars

After one year of casting baited hooks into the water, today I received a job offer from Virtual Hold Technology in Akron. To my shock and utter delight, they offered me the salary I told them I'd need. They would like me to begin on March 3rd.

On Monday I'll call Turning Technologies in Youngstown and see if they're prepared to make an offer. If not, I will accept the offer from VHT and keep packing!

My friend Jill says the stars are aligning. The Traveler says this is the "Year of Jan."

Last Gasp Exploring

As I wait for the job offer to arrive, I'm aware that the end of my time in Tucson is near. Last night at Rio Cafe, Kris was telling me about her photojournalism class. I started to say, "I can't wait to hear how the rest of the semester goes," when I realized I wouldn't be here for the rest of the semester. This is getting realer and realer! Tears come quickly to my eyes, and I'm trying to make sure I'm getting all desired activities included in the schedule before I leave.

Sometime between last summer when Frank hung my antique chandelier to last week when he took it down and attempted to reinstall the ceiling fan, I lost the bracket that secures it to the box in the ceiling. Alas, Casablanca fans only accept Casablanca parts. And the only place to purchase Casablanca parts in Tucson is several miles out Bopp Road. When I realized I'd have to drive out there today if I wanted that fan installed in the next couple of days, I decided to take the scenic route, out through Gates Pass and down past Old Tucson Studios. I had never been past Old Tucson, so this was a fun drive.

As my time is winding down, I find myself viewing Tucson through a visitor's eyes. And I've got to tell you, driving through all those saguaros (sah-WAHR-oh, for you non-Tucsonans) on top of the Tucson Mountains is a staggering sight. I could sit and stare at those acres and acres of saguaros for hours on end.

Today was uncharacteristically cloudy, as we prepare for a rare rainy day tomorrow. Even with the clouds, I've got to tell you that this is one gorgeous part of the world.

No Day is Wasted

I took yesterday off to work on the house. The initial goal was to find the missing bracket for the living room ceiling fan so Frank could finish hanging it. I found many miscellaneous things, but not that bracket.

The plumber came and installed a new toilet in the hall bath. While the old toilet was out, I touched up the paint on the wall behind the toilet. While I had the paintbrush out, I touched up a spot on the music room wall. I set aside containers of glass and tools for stained glass projects to give to the Tucson Unified School District's OMA (Opening Minds Through the Arts) program. Started a Goodwill box. Pulled aside various bits of dichroic and fuseable glass, a hummingbird feeder, and other things that Frank will enjoy having. Went to pick up my ring that I finally decided to have set and wear and enjoy rather than leaving it in a drawer and fuming about it. [Note to Ridley (who can't read yet, but this note makes you all witnesses): This is your ring, Darlin'. When I die, your mother can wear it until she deems you're ready to own a 3ct diamond.] Went to the lighting store to get the part that Frank needed and a replacement "schoolhouse" shade for the Arizona room fan. Got a call from Akron that I will receive a job offer today. Got a call from the painter telling me to go to Dunn-Edwards and pick out the paint I want for the kitchen and he'll repaint it. Spoke to the plumber to find out why they hadn't finished the work and learned Danny's wife had a baby on Thursday night. Spoke with the realtor and made appointment for Sunday to sign the listing agreement. Spoke with Millie and made date for lunch on Sunday with her and Beth. Went to Rio and had fish tacos and schmoozed with my boys. Got a movie from Blockbuster and sat in bed, beading and watching. Spoke with Bindy about how to finish all these bead crochet ropes.


So I may not have gotten a lot done on organizing the sewing room, but I got a lot done! And I have two more days to get a lot done, with time out to jump up and down when I receive the job offer in about three hours.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cheering Children

Confrontation. I hate confrontation. Probably more than anything else in the world, except combovers, I hate confrontation.

Today, after getting sick to my stomach in anticipation, I called the painter and told him I wanted him to redo the kitchen from almost-white-blue to almost-white-gray. Okay, so I told his answering machine. (Whew!) But I did it.

And the other day with the plumber, I told him I wasn't going to be sticking my hand in the ground past imaginary rattlesnakes every time I needed to fill the pool.

My sons and DIL, when they read this, will be cheering. Mom's finally getting a backbone.

(But that doesn't lessen my hatred for confrontation.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My New Favorite Phrase

"There was a fallacy in his reasoning."

This came up in a meeting today. Instead of saying "He's full of shit," the speaker said, "There was a fallacy in his reasoning."

And while we're talking about people with fallacious reasoning, an IBMer who is responsible for managing all the storage announcements called my IBM manager to plea for me to be able to telecommute. Losing me from her team is going to be an enormous hardship to this woman.

My IBM manager, Ken, told this woman that my agency had never asked for me to be able to telecommute. That is an out-and-out lie. My agency manager asked him several times with several different perspectives, until she was told that Ken never wanted to discuss the matter again. Afraid of losing the IBM contract, my agency manager just dropped the subject.

As Ken seems to have not only faulty reasoning but a faulty memory, I made one more request today, very carefully worded after several meetings with my team lead and another woman on the team. My agency manager told me she would make the request, in writing to maintain a trail, and would let me know the result.

My perfect world has always been being able to keep this job and telecommute from Youngstown.

We'll see . . . .

You Wanna Be My Friend?

Last night Peter IM'd me and asked about the trip to Ohio. We also chatted about the upcoming Brahms concert, for which I'm getting him two tickets. He mentioned he was bringing a woman from Austria, and I said she'd be critiqueing our German pronunciation.

As we signed off, he typed, "G'night Friend."

Well, just stab me in the heart. I know he's not interested in me. He reportedly wants a relationship, and that would mean the person lived in Tucson. I've got one foot out the door. But "Friend?" C'mon!

"G'night Sweetheart" is a nice thing to say. If you don't feel the "sweetheart" in what you've got going on, a simple "G'night" will do. "G'night Jan" is good, also. Lets me know you remember my name or remember who you're talking to of all the women you're interested in.

"G'night Friend?"


What Next?

Really! What freaking next?!

Tonight I was pulling the chain to turn off the light on the ceiling fan in the Arizona room and the globe fell off and hit the floor, shattering and flying everywhere.

I think this stinking house is haunted. Ever since the 31st of December, things have been falling apart. Just hit me again. I love this Abuse By Real Estate!

The plumber didn't reattach the pool shower to the water line. C'mon, why wouldn't you return the system to the status quo? And why would you think I want to stick my hand down in the ground each time I have to top off the water level in the pool?

The painter has a good eye for color. This is his livelihood, for God's sake. I told him I wanted a very pale-almost white-gray in the kitchen. I got a very pale-almost white-blue. I hate it. Hate. But this is not about me. This is about potential buyers. I will leave it up to the realtor when we meet on Sunday or Monday. If he says the kitchen color is bad, I'll call the painter and bring him back. But if he says it's okay, it stays. And I will hate it until the moment I walk out and lock the door behind me for the final time.

And now, in the midst of Mozart hell week-plus-three-days, I have to find time to go to Ace Hardware or Lowe's or wherever and find another globe for the stinking ceiling fan.

This all comes back to needing a personal assistant. When one has to manage home maintenance by telephone with keys left under mats, one gets whatever the workman thinks is best. Really, I could just cry from exhaustion over the housing events of the past three weeks. And my checkbook could cry from overuse.

Would somebody just give me a break? Please? Why do I have to keep proving to these ghosts and gremlins and goblins how strong I am? Efuckingnough!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Background Checks

Virtual Hold Technology (Friday's interview) called yesterday afternoon and said the next step was for me to take an online personality test (yes, I have one!) and to agree to submit to a background check.

I'm sure the woman in HR choked on her coffee this morning when she received the faxed form. (Name: Janet Gail Crews [previous married names: Clark, Goetsch, Hendershot, Ross].

I keep telling myself everything's going to work out the way it should. I'm concerned that the Virtual Hold people will look at my background report and see my enormous credit card balances for just trying to survive the past 18 months and say, "No way. She's a prime candidate to become an embezzler."

Oh well. It is what it is.

I Need a Wife*

*Otherwise known as a Personal Assistant

Had to wait this morning for the plumber to come yet again. We were discussing the faucet that fills the pool, which he had buried in the ground with a pipe around it. Once his guys move the pool shower structure back over the pipes and the opening, I would have to reach into the ground (past potential rattlers lurking underneath the structure) each time I have to fill the pool, which is weekly during the summer.

The plumber was half an hour late, which meant—after voicing all my concerns, paying the bill, and listing other jobs for him to do—I was fifteen minutes late to work.

And he's coming again on Friday to install a reverse osmosis filter. So that means I must take Friday off from work, as I'm not allowed to telecommute.

Has anyone in history every used all their annual vacation days during the first month of the year? I'm about to set that record.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Frequent Flyer Miles

If my car seats got frequent flyer miles for all the traveling they do, they could fly by themselves between Tucson and Pittsburgh.

It's Only Money

Once again, in my haste to finish my chores before leaving for the airport, I forgot to take the child seats out of the back seat of the rental car before leaving for the airport. I discovered them as I was turning into the rental car return entrance at Pittsburgh International Airport.

I struggled to get my two suitcases, carry-on, overstuffed handbag, and two booster seats to the terminal. The one local transportation office that might have been able to help me was closed. None of the local limousine companies had a desk at the airport, and the drivers I asked had no ideas. One driver gave me his company card, and the owner said he couldn't help me. Really, people. I'm offering you money to throw these car seats in your trunk and take the one hour drive to Youngstown and I'll pay you! How hard can this be? No rush. The next time you've got a fare to Y'town would be fine!

So I went to the ticket counter. The last time I pulled this stunt (yes, this is the second time I've forgotten these seats!), I was only carrying one bag to check, so these seats just became my second bag. This trip, because of taking the new pillows for the couch from Tucson to Y'town, I had two bags. Yep, that means the two car seats, thrown into a big plastic bag, became my third bag. D'ya know how much a third bag costs these days? $80! When I was going through security and chatting with the cute age-appropriate, though married, male TSA agents, one of them said, "I think I would have just abandoned the seats and bought new ones." Ummm, why didn't I think of that?!

Fortunately Lee drove the truck to pick me up and we had plenty of room for alllll my baggage. (Physical, not emotional. I don't think at this point anybody has room for all my emotional baggage!)

By the way, if you're ever departing from Pittsburgh, there's a fabulous little-known (at least at the times of day I travel) alternate security screening checkpoint on the same floor as the ticket counters. Walk outside, across the road, into a hallway, and arrive at the screening area with, at most, one person in front of you.

And Pittsburgh has a new explosives screening device. You leave your shoes on, step into this booth-like affair, and puffs of air are blown at you, from your head to your toes. I told the TSA cutie that it was the most fun I'd had in a very long time.

He laughed.

And another By-the-Way, as I noticed all the handsome men wearing wedding rings on this trip, I realized I'm jealous of all the women in my age bracket who have their men already. Really, the good ones aren't being released into the dating atmosphere. They're all being held onto for dear life, as their women know it's a freaking jungle out there. I think the only way a good guy is released is for him to become a widower. Maybe I need to focus on the widowers!

What a Grandma Does

This is a photo of a typical day in my life when I'm with the kids. I am not complaining. I'm just giving you a little peek into my life. I think I stated this before, probably more than once, but I'll say it again, just for effect.

Whatever I can do to take a bit of work off my kids allows them more time to spend with the babies or to pursue their own interests, whether it's becoming a better parent or a better writer or a better photographer. What does it cost me to help out? Nothing! So I wash, dry, fold, straighten, put away. And when I leave they have a peaceful house around them. I'm the Angel of Grandmothering. Or something like that. And I feel good about how I'm able to help out.

We grandmothers are told, when our children have their children, that we are to go help our daughters or daughters-in-law. When we go to help, we are to cook and clean. We are not to spend countless hours holding the new baby. We are to free up the parents to adjust to life as parents. I've just continued that advice into adolescence.

But now I'm home and faced with a house in chaos that I must quickly put back in order. I think I'll be taking some afternoons off this week!

Oh, and what was Boston doing while I was folding laundry? Playing with my new phone.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Here are the details of Akron trip yesterday:

I left the house around 8:45 and found the area easily, about five traffic lights between here and there. Ran into Burger King to get a cup of tea, then arrived at the Virtual Hold Technology office at 9:55.

The HR person with whom I had spoken previosly came out to greet me, then the marketing and PR manager came to escort me to the conference room. On the conference table was an open laptop. He said he had a task for me before we began talking.

I sat at the laptop and the manager walked in with a "thumb drive". Fortunately, I have a highly technical son who keeps me up-to-date on the latest technology. I got my first thumb/flash/USB drive about a year ago, so knew exactly what to do. I suggested to the manager that that was the first part of the test, whether a person knew what a thumb drive was and where to plug it in.

On the drive were a photo and a Word doc. The Word doc instructed the reader to write a marketing document for external and internal use describing a red Swingline stapler. (Did you see "Office Space?") The manager then brought in a red Swingline stapler that matched the photo on the drive and told me I had 30 minutes to complete this task.

This task was akin to many tasks I've had before, even back to my very first programming class, where one has to describe in detail how to do something and doesn't know the education level or knowledge base of the reader.

My very first similar programming exercise—in 1981, I think—was to tell someone how to get in a car parked at the curb. How does the person get out of the house? Is there a sidewalk out to the curb? Does he know what a door is? Does he know what a key is? Is the car locked? The questions are innumerable. In some of these exercises, you just have to say, "for the purposes of this exercise, we will assume . . . ."

I discussed the number of papers one might reasonably staple with the model 747, and said there were other stapler sizes for other tasks.

I struggled for about three minutes, then started in with an introduction, then how to check and make sure the stapler was loaded with staples, then how to pick up and straighten the papers to be stapled, then how to position the papers under the top, then push down and staple. Then I covered two possible errors, one were the staple didn't bend correctly and needed to be removed, and one where the stapler had run out of staples.

Finished with a short paragraph promoting Swingline staplers and inviting the reader to visit to view the entire product line.

Proofread a couple of times, changed the margins so it would fit on the required one page, and saved to the drive. Then the manager walked in. Whew.

He took the drive and the laptop and the red stapler out to his cubicle and said he'd be right back. A couple of minutes later he walked in with the marketing administrator. I handed him my latest copy of my resume, telling him it was newly-stapled with the red stapler. He looked at the staple and said, "That doesn't look like a Swingline staple. That looks like the Xerox machine stapled it. Are you sure?" I laughed and said I had used my resume to test my description of how to staple.

He looked at my sample and said he couldn't have produced that many words in 30 minutes. He also asked me if it was market-ready. I replied, "As much as it can be in 30 minutes." He asked why I hadn't put a photo on it, that people like to see photos in marketing materials. I slapped my forehead and said, "Oh, that's why that photo was on the drive!"

The three of us talked for about half an hour. How would I go about gathering information from the programmers? What jobs in my background had been strictly technical writing? How had I gathered the information in those jobs? Programmers can be eccentric; how would I gather information from someone who didn't want to or didn't know how to share his thoughts? And on and on.

When they had exhausted their questions, they went out and a few minutes later the director of marketing came in. More similar questions. After 20 minutes with him, he departed and the development director (boss of all the programmers) came in. He wanted to know if I understood why he would have an interest in determining who would be hired for the tech writer position. More questions about how to gather information from programmers. Then we were finished and he departed to get the HR person to come in and sell me on the company. Fabulous benefits. Ten days vacation plus the week between Christmas and New Year's. Personal time. Sick time. No limit on sick time, just stay home and don't make the people in the cubicles around you sick. Five bucks a pay period gets you a full membership to the gym around the corner. Good bonuses at the end of each year. And on and on.

When she was finished, the manager walked me out and said they expected to make a decision by the middle of next week.

I'm very impressed with this company. I have always loved the prestige of saying I worked for IBM. I believe this is a company that I could brag about similarly. It has been voted one of the best companies to work for in Ohio.

I would prefer not to have that drive, but I want to be up here and if they offer me a decent salary (in my mind, at least 10% above what I'm making now), I'll grab the job. However, if Turning Technologies offers me a position in Youngstown, probably at the same salary I'm at now, but hopefully higher, I would give that position preference.

Now I'm in the wait-and-see phase, hoping the two companies reach their decision simultaneously so I don't have to make Virtual Hold hold (little play on words - get it?) while I wait for Turning to make their decision.

Stay tuned. Now I gotta go make breakfast for a sweet little four-year-old girl.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Quick Check-in

Just to let you know I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth:

  • Easy flight up, connecting in O'Hare

  • Gorgeous views from the plane from O'Hare to Pittsburgh, snow-dusted landscapes, glinting in the sun. I always love seeing the trees after living so long in the desert.

  • I rang the doorbell and Boston and Ridley came to the door. Ridley was totally surprised to see me, and ran upstairs to tell her mother, "Grandma's home." What a big smile on my face!

  • Excellent interview on Thursday afternoon with Randy Horton of Turning Technology. My understanding is I'm in the top two of eleven contenders for the internal development manager opening.

  • Easy one-hour drive to Akron this morning. This trip was no longer, timewise, than my drive from Continental Ranch to Rita Road when I started at IBM in 2006. And when you think about it, I drive about 35 minutes now and then walk 10 minutes, so this would not be a much longer commute than I currently have.

  • Two hours of interviews at Virtual Hold. More later.

  • Visited a few homes with my realtor this afternoon. More later.

  • Took the babies to McDonald's tonight for long playtime on the indoor playground. We appreciate those indoor playgrounds in the summer in Tucson, but now I understand the beauty of the playgrounds in the winter in the north!

  • Just sitting down to a game with Tyler and Jaci, and will continue this report tomorrow, when the high in Youngstown will be 15 degrees.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guest Room (formerly known as the Babies' Room)

Remember the brilliant yellow room with the mural of butterflies, ladybugs and bees? Well, here's the newer, cleaner, more buyer-friendly room.

I made the five Bali batik throw pillows today to bring a little color and interest into the room. My fave is the envelope-shaped one on the left bed. The button is incredible and best appreciated in person, hands-on. It's from a collection of antique buttons I bought on eBay several years ago.

I had an image in my mind of how I wanted the pillow to work, but when I finished cutting the fabric, I realized I had miscalculated, and the finished pillow wouldn't fit the pillow form I intended to insert into the finished pillow case.

I looked around my sewing room and found some white flannel left over from a previous project, and some down left over from Tyler and Jaci's sofa cushion remake, so I just made a little down pillow, 5"x9", to put into the case. And when I was done, there was goose down flying all over my kitchen.

This kind of sewing project is great fun for me. I've collected all these pieces of Bali batiks and hand-dyed fabrics over the past eight years, loving them and saving them for some special project. Voila! A special project. The fun is in discovering the fabrics in my stash and knowing I had all the materials needed to make these cute pillows.

Oh Bindy! Your room is ready. C'mon over.

(If that's Greek to you, Bindy the Mad Beader is my dear friend who will stay with me for the bead show this year.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Counting Down the Rooms

Jim the Painter has been working very hard to help me get the house ready. Lee the Traveler kindly and generously took the enormous Thomasville entertainment center off my hands and into his son's hands, and then stopped by to help me assemble the new, much smaller, entertainment unit from Crate and Barrel.
As soon as Frank the Electrician comes to take down my "Indiana State House" antique chandelier and reinstall the ceiling fan, this room will be ready to go. And please ignore the random boxes in the photos. I'm dancing as fast as I can.

Hey, if everybody else gets titles with their names, I guess I would be Jan the Deep Pocket!

Types of Relationships

The Traveler has now had his second date with a lovely woman in Chandler, AZ (outside Phoenix, about an hour-and-a-half away, for you non-Arizonans). He likes her, she likes him. I'm so hopeful that that situation will continue. Lee is such a good guy who has had some bumps in his life and deserves a really wonderful woman to care deeply for him. I want only the best for him.

As I was reflecting on this feeling yesterday, I thought about Frank. I adore Frank and am jealous of his relationships. I am not jealous of Lee's relationships. I think that's because Lee and I determined after one or two dates that there really wasn't chemistry between us but that we liked each other a lot. We've become very dear friends and I cherish that. We talk about his visiting me in Ohio on his way back from the Run for the Wall and Rolling Thunder in D.C. next Memorial Day.

But with Frank, he and I had a relationship. We had been dating for three months when some other skirt caught his eye and he chased off after her and began ignoring me. Then when she decided he wasn't enough of a high-roller for her, she began ignoring him and he came back to me. We would go out to dinner no less than once a week, until he met Mariah. Then his longtime love Wendy committed suicide and he felt his life turned upside down. Now I'm lucky to hear from him once a month. But I miss him. When I'm totally and completely alone and want to touch the delicious sweater-clad back of a man, it's Frank I miss.

So what's the difference? Is the difference that Lee and I started out as friends and have developed from there, whereas Frank and I started out with instant chemistry and then fell off from there? That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

I wish Lee happiness and love and stability and peace. I wish Frank would settle down and, if he's in a relationship with a woman as he apprears to be with Mariah, take his profile down off the dating sites and quit looking around!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not Dumb, Ugly and Incompetent

I've mentioned numerous times that I grew up feeling (i.e. being treated by my mother as . . .) dumb, ugly and incompetent. I frequently wonder what my adoptive mother's childhood was like; what was it that formed her into the harsh and critical mother that she became. I truly believe people who don't have the knowledge, understanding or instincts to parent in a nurturing fashion should not become parents. Of course, if that were so, the world would be much less populous. Hell, I probably wouldn't have my own children. And I wouldn't trade them for anything, so let's just toss that concept out the window.

Last night I had a second date with a very lovely man—Peter. We met for coffee on New Year's Eve day. I was entranced by him at that time, and could easily envision having a long and close relationship with him. Of course, twelve hours after that coffee date, my "chaos of house" began, and then the interviews in Ohio started falling into place. In our first hour-plus conversation, we talked about many things, including our musical experiences. He mentioned that he wanted to see the "Hanson Conducts Hanson" concert taking place this weekend, and I mentioned that I had tickets. When I got home, I e-mailed him and asked if he would like to attend with me. He said he was expecting a houseguest that weekend, but if that didn't materialize, would love to and would like to take me to dinner beforehand.

I did not hear from him the rest of last week. Earlier this week he saw me on AIM and IM'd me, asking how things were. I told him about my house fiasco and he commiserated. He said his houseguest was not coming and asked if we were still on for Friday night. We agreed to go to Rio Café — he had not been to that restaurant in its present incarnation, only earlier when it was Nonie's.

Clearly, this man is not pursuing me. A man who is pursuing me calls and e-mails every day. That ain't happenin' here. And because of that, the entrancement that I felt upon first meeting him had diminished. Completely.

<Sidebar On>
Did I mention before that he is 74 to my 57? And has significant health issues? Has survived some cancer threats and has some very rare slow-progressing terminal lung disease. So to get romantically involved with this man would be to potentially step into another caregiver position. For me that is both negative and positive. Negative in that it would be yet another loss in my life. Positive in that I wore that mantle very well with John. But let me insert that this is a very vital man. Takes excellent care of himself, doesn't drink or smoke, golfs frequently. Slim, trim, and very handsome.
<Sidebar Off>

So by the time we met at Rio last night, I was totally neutral on him. When you add to that neutrality the fact that since we last spoke I have scheduled two interviews in Ohio and am feeling that my move is imminent, I was feeling like this wasn't really a date. Not a date date but more like two acquaintances spending an evening together. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dinner was great. The owners and the wait staff were very cordial and welcoming to him. As I was waiting for Peter's arrival, Eduardo brought me a sample of the stuffing he had created for the evening's quail special. And of course they all hugged me and wished me well in the interviews. It seemed that Peter was rather taken aback by all the attention I received. He said something about my being the official taste tester there. I didn't interpret his comments as being critical at all, more "I see how they like you." (Oh, and by the way, he paid for dinner. Did not ask me to pay my share. Now that's how a gentleman behaves when he invites a lady to dinner!)

Let me do a little more stage-setting. Last night I was wearing Eileen Fisher: calf-length brown knit gored skirt, soft ivory t-shirt, ivory bouclé jacket, the long strand of pearls that John gave me a thousand years ago, plus the matching pearl earrings and bracelet, and brown pointy-toed boots with 2.5" heels. My hair was lightened this week and, if I say so myself, I looked fine. Very understatedly elegant. I am 5'8" in flats, Peter is around 5'9". He was wearing a navy blazer, gorgeous glen plaid slacks, a pink shirt with a cerise tie with yellow woven into it. Very preppy, very East Coast, entirely delightful. A much-needed drink for my parched eyes.

We rode in his Lexus SUV to the concert hall and I showed him my favorite easy-in, easy-out parking lot. As soon as we walked through the door of the hall, we started running into my friends. First Terry, in yet another cashmere sport coat. Then I introduced him to the executive director of the Symphony, who remarked about the man she had known in St. Louis with the same name as Peter. Peter knew of him and said they shared a great-grandfather. Then we took our seats and noted we were behind Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the mayor and his wife. As we opened our programs, I pointed to the copyright at the end of the program notes and said, "That's my son." The concert began, after a way-too-lengthy raffle pitch (when will these people learn that less is more and the human brain can only retain so much information?). And then it was intermission. The mayor and Ms. Giffords went up on stage to surprise George with a congressional citation and the key to the city in honor of all he's done for Tucson and recognizing his 50th birthday later this month. As we left our seats for intermission, I spoke to Mrs. Mayor, reintroducing myself and reminding her I had played the piano at their house a year ago. We walked outside and I introduced him to the executive director's husband, who also mentioned the second-cousin in St. Louis. Then the chorus director came out and we hugged and chatted for ten minutes.

From start to finish of the time in the concert hall, it was clear that this was my turf and I was known and loved by many people in that venue. Peter has lived a highly successful life in business, is quite well-to-do, has served on the boards of many companies and organizations, has a college building named for him, and must be used to having people clamor for his attention. But suddenly I could see myself through his eyes, and what a power player I must appear to be in that environment.

I consider myself to be plain and simple. But dear friends frequently attempt to disabuse me of that opinion. My friend to the north tells me how excellent I am. The man on the Potomac tells me I'm the standard by which all the women in his life are measured. My son tells me men should consider themselves lucky to go out with me. And I pooh-pooh it all.

But suddenly last night I was on the same page as these men. I felt like I had the world in my hands. And I didn't need to chase after any man. One of these days some man (some Ohioan?) will meet me and have his socks knocked off. I don't need to be anxious or in a hurry for that. It will happen in due course. And he'll be one lucky guy.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Here's a quick Friday morning funny for you while I wait for the plumber. I need to sign the contract committing me to spend another $3000-$3500 on this house.

On Wednesday afternoon I ran over to Gadabout to get some highlights inserted into my ever-darkening hair in an attempt to look a little less than my age for the interviews next week. A delightful young Italian man, Giancarlo, took care of my head for me.

His plan was to use a light blonde and then a more golden (read: red) blonde, alternating, to give me the light and body I desired. We didn't talk much - he mainly just stood there, foil papers in hand, and did his thing. But I noticed he'd count the foil packages he had already wrapped to make sure he was applying the right color.

He'd tap each one and say "chiaro, scuro, chiaro, scuro." I smiled inside. If I hadn't taken that art history class so many years ago, I wouldn't have known what he was saying.

It was a nice light moment in a string of stressful days.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Forget About Tomorrow! The Sun Came Out Today!!

My painter got off his high horse and started patching and painting without cash in hand. When I got home last night from my CYT gig, I almost passed out from fumes when I walked into the house. I lugged the air filter out of my studio and brought it into my bedroom and was able to make it through the night. Today I found $350 for the painter and he went to buy paint.

This morning the wonderful movers from Nicolosi Moving came and took about 5 pieces of furniture and a bunch of boxes to my storage unit. Then they took my entertainment center out to Brett, the Traveler's son, who is simply thrilled to have this high quality piece of furniture in his home.

When I came back from the storage unit (via Wendy's for a single-with-only-lettuce-and-tomato), my phone rang with a 330 area code. It was Turning Technologies, with whom I had a preliminary phone interview in late October or early November. The young woman said they'd like to set up another phone interview. When I told her I'd be in Youngstown next week, she decided that was an acceptable alternative.

Wednesday the 16th I fly to Pittsburgh, rent a car, and drive to 5th Avenue, where I will ring the doorbell and surprise Boston and Ridley (at their request). Thursday at 1:00 p.m. I will have an interview at Turning Technologies. Friday at 10:00 a.m. I will have an interview at Virtual Hold Technology in Akron. I'll fly back Monday evening, the 21st (MLK).

And today my IBM colleague told the IBM launch manager, Mary Lou, about my interview. Most of my work is in support of product launches (announcements), and Mary Lou relies heavily on me. According to my colleague, Mary Lou was very upset to hear I might leave and suggested she take up my cause with the IBM manager. I don't think it will do a whit of good, but it sure is nice to feel valued.

That's enough goodness for one day. I've got to now tackle the pile of papers in the computer room so the painter can transform this room tomorrow.

Karma. Wishes. Positive vibes. Good thoughts. Prayers. All will be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

If Wishes Were Horses . . .

This is my final comment for today:

Why can't all the money I make playing solitaire on my iPod Nano be real, green money? I could pay the painter in cash and have some left over for the plumber!

Continuing House Saga

Would somebody please just shoot me and put me out of my misery?

The plumber came by this morning on the issue of replacing the gas line, as Frank had suggested. The plumber feels it's not necessary (yea!) but says I should put in a new and larger water heater and replace the copper pipe above the water heater to bring it up to code. He'll cut me a little break if I have them do the water heater at the same time as the other work (i.e. no second trip), so it will cost me a little less than $1,000, probably, rather than the $2,500 extra I was going to have to pay.

So this water work will cost $4,000 instead of $5,500.

The painter was supposed to start this morning and I moved all the furniture out of the babies' room (as you saw in the earlier post) to help him get started more quickly. He came last night to sign the contract and I gave him a credit card advance check for $1,200 and change. He called me this morning and said his bank said it would take two weeks for this check to clear. Fucking A. (What does that mean anyway? I hear it all the time. I use it all the time. I don't know what it means.) I called him back and asked if he couldn't just go to Dunn-Edwards and let me give them my credit card number over the phone so he could get the paint and get started. His policy is that he won't start the work until he has 50% of the contract price in hand. I appreciate that. I understand that. But look at me. I'm an ethical person. I'm good for the money. I gave him a key to my house, for Pete's sake. Look what I'm going through with this water fiasco. Every day he delays starting is one more day before the house can go into MLS. Give me a FRIGGING break! (she shouted)

So I went online to my ScotTrade account to sell my investments there and at least get $1,000 in hand. Of course every button I pushed gave me an error message. "You don't know what you're doing," it screamed at me. So I called the local branch office and got a Very Nice Person who practices Excellent Customer Service who put in the order to sell my holdings and will send me a check as soon as the sale clears today. Yea. One nice serviceperson in my life.

Tomorrow morning the movers will come to move a bunch of boxes and a few pieces of furniture to the storage unit. Yesterday I was feeling peaceful and very Zen-like. Today I'm overwhelmed and ready to cry or scream or some combination.

Where is my winning lottery ticket? Where is the good job offer with the decent salary?

This morning I got an e-mail from a sorority sister about the death of another friend's husband. I needed to send out an e-mail to the entire alum club about this gentleman's death. I couldn't remember the last name of the woman who sent me the e-mail. I've known her for eight years and couldn't remember her name.

I'm losing my mind.

Thanks for listening to my rant, says she who will be sleeping on the couch tonight because she can't get into her bed until the painter finishes the guest room.

Moment of Melancholy

The painter starts today. This morning I hurriedly emptied out the babies' room so I could memorialize the mural on the wall. We had so many happy hours together in this room and in this house: lots of sleepovers and pool parties before they moved to Ohio.

Many happy memories are yet to be made once I get moved, but for a moment I looked at this wall and reminisced.

And I include a quick pic of Rudi, who owns every room and every piece of furniture in the house!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mother-in-Law's Code of Ethics

I've alluded here to the code of ethics to which I adhere when dealing with my son and daughter-in-law. As I approach the period of time when I might be living with them for an extended period of time, I'm even more acutely aware of this code of ethics and how it might need to be elaborated or refined to even better avoid any hurt feelings or annoyances.

Here's my code:
  1. Always call and recieve permission before going to visit.

  2. Always knock before entering.

  3. Never criticize. You're far from perfect.

  4. Never offer an opinion. If asked, you can say what you think, but always refer back to #3.

  5. Recognize at all times that you are their guest. Behave accordingly.

It's worked well enough so far for them to feel comfortable enough to ask me to move in with them for an indeterminate (but hopefully short) period of time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Yesterday afternoon when Lee and his son, Brett, were here, I quickly emptied the freestanding kitchen cabinet that I was giving to Brett. I put things anywhere I could find to put them and went on about my business.

This morning I thought I'd bake some biscuits for breakfast, forgetting that every square inch of counterspace was covered with pots, pans, and serving dishes.

I think I'll go out for breakfast!

The goodness that came out of this? I found some of John's Blue Danube mugs I thought had been lost. I had stored them in a padded zippered container and tucked them into this cabinet, totally forgetting they were there. Yea — I'm happy.

L*E*S*S*F*U*R*N*I*T*U*R*E spells RELIEF

I shower blessings on Lee, who knows a good deal when he sees one, and has the same heart as I for helping out his kids. Yesterday he bought my entertainment center for his son and DIL and I have three fewer pieces of furniture to worry about and move.

Thanks Lee. As my buddy Eric says, "You're the bomb."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Oh, How I Love Wi-Fi

For the past hour-and-a-half, I've been sitting in Beyond Bread, earphones plugged in so I could listen to Prairie Home Companion, responding to e-mails, posting on my fave listserve, playing Scrabulous on Facebook, glancing out the window at the gorgeous coral desert sunset, thinking - but for the loneliness - I've got a pretty decent life here.

I had a very fun day today, exploring Southern Arizona. Lee (the Traveler) and I drove first to Sierra Vista where he gave copies of his service records on the S2000 to the Honda dealer. Then we drove on to Bisbee and had breakfast at the Copper Queen, followed by a stroll up Main Street and visits to several galleries. Then the Queen of the Back Roads had to explore all the twisty windy back roads in Bisbee. Next we drove west on Route 92 and stopped to visit my cyberfriend Barbara, who has an absolutely incredible house on acreage six or so miles west of Bisbee. Really, in the middle of nowhere about four miles north of Mexico.

Lacking a winning lottery ticket, I will never have a house and studio as wonderful as what Barbara and her husband have crafted for themselves in Arizona, following lives in D.C. and Santa Barbara. Ever since my four long years with Steve, I've said money isn't all it's cracked up to be. But, in the case of this house, having creativity and taste and money together is a wonderful thing.

Creativity is, absolutely, all it's cracked up to be, and more!

View to the south from the deck outside Bob's office over the garage. The mountains in the distance are in Mexico.

View to the southwest. I believe Lee said those mountains are the Chiricahuas.

Friday, January 04, 2008

One of the Good Guys

My melancholy of last night after the call from Mr. Match continues with me today. I'm sitting at work, listening to the soundtrack of "Closer than Ever" over and over again, laughing at "You Want to Be My Friend?" and marveling at "The Bear, The Tiger, The Hamster and The Mole".

But the song that resonates with me today is "One of the Good Guys." I think single men don't get it, don't get that all we single women want is a man with ethics, a man upon whom we can depend. We want a good guy.

Closer Than Ever
Music: David Shire
Lyrics: Richard Maltby, Jr.

One of the good guys
right here you see
one of the good guys
one of the nice ones
with sensible drives
what else could I be?
I'm one of the good guys
who play with their children
and dote on a pamper their wives.

But there was a night, in hawaii,
on a business trip
that my mind has suffused with a mystic glow
she was someone's friend
and she had this smile
we were on a beach
and we walked a while
and I watched the wind
billow in her hair
and I knew - we knew -
there was more to share
I could feel the ground start to go
like volcanoes starting to blow
and the waves were loud
we were all alone
we had left the crowd
not a soul would ever have known...

But I stopped and said "no".

'Cause that isn't me
I'm one of the good guys
one of the smart ones
whose virtue survives
firm as a tree
one of the good guys
who trades a flash of heat
to build a warmer fire
denies himself a treat
to shoot for something higher
and that's the part that's sweet
that only the good guys know.
That's not the end
as you suspected
time flipped some pages
I'm now forty-four
there's money to spend
the kids are in college
my wife's back in art school
we just bought a house at the shore

but sometimes at night in the stillness
lying wide away
as the wife I still desire sleeps by my side
I can feel the wash
of the perfumed air
as my mind is drowning
in billowing hair
and although I know
that my life is blessed
I am teased by thoughts
that it's second best
and the visions seethe in my head
of the lives that I could have led
they are all still there
I can change my fate
there's no time to spare
I must find them before it's too late

but I wake and say "no".

Oh hell, why defend
all of us good guys
strangling in plenty
yet whining for more
truth is, my friend
just between good guys
it's not which road you take
which life you pick to live in
whichever choice you make
the longing is a given
and that's what brings the ache
that only the good guys know.

It wasn't broke. Why did you have to go and fix it?

I haven't had a chance to go grocery shopping this week, so I stopped at the El Con Starbux to get breakfast, lunch and mocha. I walked up to the counter and uttered my mantra, "Tall skinny half-caf mocha, no whip." The gracious good-looking gentleman (oooh, there's your morning alliteration) behind the counter asked, "Do you want skinny or non-fat?" When I asked him the difference, he said that, beginning two days ago, they offer sugar-free mochas. But sugar-free isn't chemical-free. Sugar-free simply means made with Splenda, to which I'm allergic. (Really, I'm so tired of being allergic to so many things.)

I love saying "tall skinny mocha no whip". I feel young and cool, chic and vibrant. In my mind, my gray hair disappears for a few minutes. I'm a character in "You've Got Mail."

I love the Starbucks scenes in "You've got Mail": "Short decaf cap," "Tall mocha latte." "Grande lowfat regular." "We'll sell them legal, addictive stimulants."

As the barrista (wait, is "barrista" feminine and "barristo" masculine, or is it neuter?) handed me my mocha, he said, "Jan, I heard your conversation. In the future just say "non-fat". It's a pain, but that's what they're doing now."

Ah, my barrista is looking out for me.

And, by the way, how come everybody at work insists on calling me "Janet", no matter how many times I tell them I'm "Jan", and yet my barrista gets it right the first time, every time?

I get it. I matter to my barrista.

. . . Worth a thousand words

The new, temporary water line across my backyard. Cool, huh?

That's $1,075.86 worth of materials and labor you're looking at. I know, I told you 63 cents the other day, but it was really 86 cents.

Frank told me last night that I should have them replace the gas line while they're replacing the water line, as the pipes carrying the gas to the house are the same age as the pipes carrying water. So I called the plumber this morning and said, "Please. Charge me more. Whatever you want to charge me is surely not enough."

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Frank came over last night to take me to dinner and then spent half an hour helping me with various little things around the house.

I hugged him, as always, when he came in. Then I pulled back and asked, "Have you been smoking?" He looked at me and laughed and said, "Oh, your nose!" Then I asked again, "Have you started smoking again?" He said, "Just cigars." I told him those were the worst. I'm so allergic to cigar smoke I don't even like to think about them.

Then he said, "Well, all the girls are doing it." These single women who live up in his development in the foothills are all now smoking the little cigars. They go for walks around the development and smoke cigars, evidently. Jill is a high school principal, a beautiful woman in her late 40s. Susan is in media sales and in her early 50s. Really, what are they thinking?!

As we ate dinner, we were talking about Frank's lady friend, Mariah. They've been seeing each other for six months or so now. She is a massage therapist. He said she was getting him to be more healthy, taking vitamins, thinking about what he's eating. I asked what she thought about his cigar habit. His reply? "Oh, she smokes."

To me that is simply incongruous. A massage therapist who is concerned about the health practices of herself and others but smokes cigarettes?

Please, introduce me to some people with brains.

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry Myself a River

Okay, so that's a little collage of song titles, but it serves to say I feel like crying tonight.

Mr. Match called. Mr. Match had called several times during December, after I told him very clearly that I was busy almost every night until the 23rd. He routinely doesn't leave messages, so I just pretended I never saw the "missed call" notification. Once when he called and we connected, he said, "Don't call tomorrow night because Loraine will be in town." I decided I'm not the kind of girl that men call when their girlfriend is out of town. Actually, I didn't know that he and his ex-fiancée were attempting a reconciliation. That was new news that was revealed to me tonight as he was telling me he finally and for good broke up with her.

Once he revealed that, I revealed that I had been mad at him after he called me at 2:00 a.m. when I was in Scottsdale for NATS. He immediately replied, "I lost track of time." I told him that it wasn't the 2:00 a.m. that I was mad about, but the fact that he told me he'd take me to the airport on Friday morning and then never called again and didn't show up to take me to the airport. News flash: he didn't remember a) having called me at 2:00 a.m., or b) having promised to take me to the airport. These two little facts further support my supposition that the phone call took place after at least three martinis had been imbibed.

So after we'd been talking for about 45 minutes and I had told him my meeting-with-the-realtor news and my interview-on-the-18th news and he had told me his new-CEO-job-should-be-getting-better news and his breaking-up-with-Loraine news, he paused and said, "I'm in love." He went on to tell me he had met a woman named something-or-other Ferguson when he was in Brisbane in November and that they've been talking on the phone every day and they're in love.

My heart sank.

As he had been winding down telling me about Loraine, I had felt my hopes start to rise. Is this why he called me? Does he want to start actually seeing me again? He's a scoundrel, absolutely. He's a player, to the Nth degree. But when he's good, he's very very good. The magic we had in the first couple of months we were dating was beyond wonderful. Oh yeah. He "fell in love" with me with the same speed he fell in love with something-or-other Ferguson.

I told him I was thrilled for him. And then I told myself I was thrilled for me. Thrilled that I have enough self-respect to say, "Hey, Boy, you ain't gonna just call me when all your other women are unavailable." Thrilled that I have enough life experience to say, "That boy has a problem with alcohol and I'm simply not interested in being part of that lifestyle." Thrilled that I know what I want enough to say to self, "Self, we have plans that involve selling houses and moving furniture and starting life over again and no stinky player collector scoundrel man is going to make us change those plans."

But it would be nice to feel like I was in love again. Sometimes I think I don't even remember what that feels like. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever feel that way again.

Will I have less of a life if I never feel giddily in love again? No, because I'll find other things with which to fill it.

But for right now, I feel like crying.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Woo Hoo

I have an interview with Virtual Hold Technology in Akron on Friday, January 18th. Please be crossing your fingers or sending good vibes or whatever it is that you do.


I keep thinking of resolutions I want to post here, but always while I'm away from the computer.

One that came out of Tuesday's fiasco is to start buying bottled water again. Being without water for six hours makes one appreciate those little water bottles.

The estimator came this morning and when I get home tonight I'll learn how much the plumbing repair is going to hurt. He looked at the temporary fix and said, "We can use this pipe but not if it's exposed to sunlight more than 30 days." Thirty days?! They better get this repair done before 30 days pass!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Year-Beginning Thoughts

Here's today's Real Simple quote for the day, which feels very fitting for how my life has been going the past few days.

January 02, 2008
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

I look forward to discovering what's waiting. And it can't come a moment too soon!

Post Pipetem

So here's the deal. My house is a year younger than I am. And considering the past two days, I'm thinking I'm in pretty good shape.

The pipes connecting the water meter to the house, which were laid into the ground in 1951, have completely disintegrated. And they chose New Year's Eve 2007 to do so. One day earlier or two days later would have been fine. But no, they had to fall apart on New Year's Eve (not unlike people I've known in the past) so that the plumber would come knocking on my door on the most expensive day of the year. A nice young man named Shane had to charge me $220/hour for his time. Really. I'm in the wrong business.

Do you think if I start trade school next week I can get up to that $220/hour quickly? Oooh, I suddenly had a flashback to our house on Lake Sybelia Drive in Maitland when the boys were 2 and 1. I pulled up the cover over the water meter and about 273 roaches scurried out. I think I'll keep my desk job.

Anyway, $1,075.63 later (really - 63 cents!) I have a temporary pipe snaking from the water meter in the alley to the pipe outside my bathroom wall. An estimator will come in the next few days to tell me how much more it's going to cost for their people to dig a trench and bury the pipe. And dig up my patio (but not lay it back down - must call someone else to do that). And dig up the rock in the backyard, which I must call someone to fix, as I'm not doing any further damage to my back schlepping rocks. Oh, and part of the trench must be dug by hand as it runs parallel to and just a few inches away from the gas line into the house. If you've never lived in this desert and tried to stick a shovel into this hard earth, you can't appreciate what "digging by hand" really means. Any time I have to dig a hole, I run the water on the location for about an hour, dig down about a foot, run the water for another hour, and so on.

By the way, "home warranty" means "home", not "home and land and everything that's registered in your name with the county." There were no pipes broken in the house, just very old pipes in the yard. So there's no financial relief for me. The financial relief will come from the City of Tucson, when I call them later on this morning and get them to tell me where, between $1,000 and $2,000, my water bill lies on the spectrum of outrageous expenses.

Where's the goodness? (asks she who always wants to see the silver lining, or in this case - platinum) Number 1 on the scale of goodness is that I never heard back from the painter on the estimate, so hadn't forked over any money to him yet—and will now tell him thanks but no thanks. Number 2 on the scale is that I can tell potential buyers that they don't have to worry about the water line for another 56 years. Oh, and Number 3? Technology! This new pipe is similar to PVC but is flexible, so that it doesn't freeze. If the water inside the pipe freezes, the pipe expands. Woo hoo! Somebody used his brain to design this new pipe.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go search for a second job. ;-)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Miracle of Technology

With the help of PalTalk, I was able to see and talk to my babies today via our webcams and web microphones. That made my day!!! What a way to start the new year.

What was she thinking?

After all my angst of last night, I'll start 2008 with a story you'll shake your head at—and probably giggle a little. I think this is another example of "only in Tucson."

U of A Law Student Indicted in 5 Felonies

And you thought I had a hard time getting through law school?!

Don't Bore Me.

Above all, don't bore me.

So a couple of weeks ago Howard e-mailed me and asked if I'd like to go with him to Kingfisher for dinner tonight, as his bass teacher was going to be playing there for New Year's Eve.

(Who's Howard, you ask. Howard is a 59yo man who works at the UofA as the business manager of the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope) Observatory. He's a photographer and ham radio operator and jazz aficionado and, really, a nice guy. But he's very reserved and I feel like a bull in a china shop when I'm around him. And he's rigid and anal retentive to the Nth degree. Oh, and he's never been married and never had children, so tell me exactly how he could understand or identify with me, who lives for and is astoundingly devoted to her children and grandchildren.)

My house is in utter chaos right now as I'm trying to get furniture moved around and clutter consolidated and things moved offsite to a storage unit and just generally prepare for a painter to come in. I straightened up as much as I could today, but there is nothing peaceful about my house.

To set the stage, I'll tell you that Howard came over to see the new house in June of 2006, shortly after I moved in. It was June and he was wearing beige shorts. When we got back from dinner, I suggested we sit outside. He wouldn't sit in the lawn chair until I brushed the twigs and leaves out of it.

Tonight he came over half an hour before our dinner reservations. I offered him a glass of wine. We sat on the couch and chatted. As soon as Howard sat down, Rudi jumped up on the couch, as he automatically does for everyone, assuming that anyone who walks in this house loves him and wants to pet him. Howard immediately made a shooing-away motion with his hand, making it clear that Rudi was not to come anywhere near him. I picked Rudi up and moved him to my bedroom. I had been working on a bead crochet rope before Howard arrived (Bindy and I have a plan for selling my ropes and her beads at the bead show in February), so I picked it up and continued to work on it. After about five minutes he looked at what I was doing and kind of smirked. Then he said, "Am I bothering you?" I said, "Do you mind if I work on this? Am I being rude?" And instantly it was very clear that he thought I was being outrageously rude. So I put my beads away and sat and chatted with him for twenty minutes until time to leave for the restaurant.

Once in the restaurant, we looked at the menu and decided what we would order. The waiter came up as soon as we got there, then disappeared for 20 minutes. Finally the waitress assigned to the table next to us came over to help us. I ordered the salmon with polenta and asparagus. Howard ordered the Ahi tuna with mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus and shrimp salsa. The waitress asked him if he wanted it rare or medium rare and he looked astonished. They had a little discussion while she explained how people eat tuna, after which she told him she'd have it done medium. He did not order wine or ask if I'd like anything, and did not order an appetizer or salad, nor ask if I'd like one. Ten minutes later our entrees come out and his was medium rare—still considerably pink. And it was topped with shrimp salsa, as the menu stated. He picked at it and was very upset that it was pink. And said he thinks shrimp are disgusting. When the waitress came over again, she very graciously said she'd take it back and have them cook it more. He said, no, he didn't want it. Would she just bring him the sweet potatoes and asparagus with the salmon and no sauce or salsa.

I have to hand it to the wait staff at this restaurant. They were incredibly gracious. Unlike my date.

We ate our dinners and listened to the music and found things to talk about, but as the evening wore on I was getting more and more short of patience. We finished our meals and the waiter brought the dessert menu. We passed. I excused myself to go to the ladies' room. When I came back, I said to him, "Would you like to split the check?", knowing he (who makes six figures to my two houses and four mortgages) would say no. Oh you silly girl. He said, "Would you mind?" Now let's be clear. I was trying to be gracious. HE invited ME out this evening. I didn't invite him, nor suggest the restaurant, nor make the reservations. But in being a gracious Southern Belle in this they-changed-all-the-rules world of dating over 50, I got to pay for my own dinner on New Year's Eve.

I gave the waiter my credit card, Howard gave me cash, I overtipped out of spite because I knew he would have undertipped, I pulled out a $5 to put in the musicians' tip jar because I knew it wouldn't occur to him, and I started yawning.

We got in the car and he dropped me at the curb in front of my house and waited while I opened the door.

And here I sit, water supply to the house turned off until morning when I can call the plumber, alone and disgusted with the state of my life. Oh yeah, and I neglected to tell you that I lifted a bunch of rocks to spread in the backyard on Saturday afternoon and hurt my back. I'm in pain and can't move from standing to sitting to standing to lying down.

Just shoot me. Please. But don't bore me!

I'm Gonna Marry Me a Handyman

Damn damn damn damn damn

This afternoon I thought I heard water running, but then I walked down the hall and thought it must have been the computer in the other bedroom. I'm so stupid. I got home from dinner now and again I hear water running in my bathroom. My toilet is not running. The toilet in the hall bath is not running. The faucet in the tub is not running. And it's not the computer.

If I'd been thinking this afternoon, I would have called the plumber then. I could have waited for him all evening and missed the horrible dinner date I had this evening. Just horrible. Now it's ten o'clock (the ball just dropped in the east, so it's really January 1st now) on New Year's Eve and there ain't a plumber in this town that I'm going to be able to find.

And I'm mad. I'm sick and tired of being pressured by this house and all my mortgages and trying to figure out what to do about everything in my life.

I'm tired of being single and not having a partner or companion to bounce things off of. I'm sick of stupid men who say they want a relationship, but don't, really. (Nobody recently, just all the stupid men over the past ten years. Ten years.)

I'm so angry that I'm going to have to call a plumber tomorrow, on New Year's Day, to come figure out if my pipes burst last night. And pay enough to put all his children through college.

I've let my DirecTV go to conserve funds, so now I don't hear the 10 o'clock news and don't have Chuck George or whomever to tell me, "it's going to freeze tonight, so protect your pipes." Why did Mr. Whoever Built This House leave the pipes out where they could freeze.

Angry. Angry. Angry.

Would somebody please just burn this house down so I can pay off the mortgages with the insurance money and walk away.

Really. Just save me from myself.

I hate*Hate*HATE being single. Just hate it.

And Happy New Year to you, too.