Sunday, June 28, 2009

Already a Scorcher

…and it's not quite 11:00 a.m. yet. Summer, she has arrived. I had to take the dog for a walk at 8:00 a.m. I don't think it will be cool enough to take him again til nightfall.

Last week was a good one, if busy. I got home from San Jose just as the last of the sunlight was oozing from the sky on Wednesday evening. Very glad to be back, and very grateful that it was just one night away from home. As I pulled into the driveway that night, I heard a strange sound--had I left a hose running? No, but fluid was pouring from my engine, a sign that I could no longer procrastinate on taking the monster mobile to the repair shop.

Thursday morning was a bit of a nail-biter at work--a very important webcast that my team and I had worked on for quite some time, and all the pieces came together literally in the last few minutes before it began. And I was very pleased to observe that I wasn't freaking out or feeling at a loss for judgment during that tense situation. Which is not to say that I handled it perfectly, I don't think that I did. Rather that I was confident that it was going to turn out fine, and sure enough it did. A nice side-effect was that the other accomplishments of the day felt like gravy.

Thursday was also our fourth anniversary, maybe another reason for me to be calm and positive that day. It felt like the first time we'd ever been able to celebrate, since M had been in school for the first few, and of course last year he was deep into the throes of Bar exam prep. I left work early to have a little lie-down before our evening in the City, and he came home a little early too. M was very chivalrous--since the Cadillac was in such bad shape, we had to take his truck, and he spent some time cleaning it up before we left.

We got down to the California Academy of Sciences around 7:00 o'clock, and it was just starting to hop. I admit to feeling a little out of place, somewhat overdressed (I had broken out the false eyelashes as well as the bejeweled gown and sequined sandals, what the hell) and over-aged, but that wore off as the night went on and the space crowded with the kinds of personalities you might expect at a gathering in San Francisco. I loved how the Academy had laid out the space, places to cross over water and look down at sealife, an albino alligator, and the crowds observing he aquariums in the lower floor while in other places, look up to the skeletons of a whale, T. Rex, and a three-story sphere of rainforest (closed, sadly, for maintenance that night). It was a little sparser on the exhibits than I expected. I was also surprised to see the traditional taxidermied dioramas in the Africa wing, equally surprised to see staff behind a wall of glass working on a flock of expired birds. It was a Nightlife event, so bars were scattered about, and a transvestite DJ was pumping out the house music while nice ladies in lab coats pushed around carts of mammal penis bones (who knew?) and discussed the ins and outs of boa reproduction. Our favorite spot was the living roof, undulating waves of purple flowers studded with porthole skylights, with views of the City and across the park to the de Young museum.

We left the Academy without restaurant destination or even type of cuisine firmly in mind. This is a dangerous situation for us, usually resulting in tempers flaring as the blood sugar drops, but it couldn't have worked out better. We did drive around for a bit, but admiring the neighborhoods kept us preoccupied, and just as I was started to get a little worried, it appeared on the corner as if in a vision: Dosa. I had been to the other location and loved it, and M was up for Indian. Then the other challenge became apparent: parking. But as if it were meant to be, we were only halfway down the block when someone pulled out, leaving us a great spot! The homeless guy had to help us fend off the sporty little car that tried to sneak in behind us--that seems to be the "occupation" these day, homeless men "directing" people to parking rather than cleaning windshields, which is a better trend.

Dosa was crowded, but another potential snag in our evening melted away as there were two seats waiting for us at the long table in the bar area. True, it wasn't a very intimate dining experience, but I like the communal style. Good service, nice people--the male half of drunken young couple next to us (I'm positing work colleagues getting up the courage to make his wife a cuckquean) was Indian and invited M to think of him as his brother, plying him with samples of their food. I think it was the freshest-tasting Indian food I've ever had--particularly the best sambar and chutneys. M had the four-course tasting meal, I had a dosa with paneer and peas, punctuated with bites of channa bhatura and the enormous poori courtesy of our neighbors--heaven on a plate! Looking over their cocktail menu just now, I wish I'd ordered one, but something to look forward to when we go back.

Friday I took the car into the shop for the radiator work. The whole think had to be replaced, as well as all four brakes done. I wasn't surprised, but it's still a pain in the pocketbook. Not to mention my patience. I like my mechanic very much--I think he's fair and does a good job--but man, that guy can talk the hind legs off a donkey. After the longwinded tale of the recalcitrant bolt in the Lincoln navigator while in the shop, we spent half an hour in my driveway as he recounted in excruciating detail, much emphasized by repetition, the life changing inspiration that was his new "network marketing" opportunity, aka pyramid scheme: Zija, some sort of miracle drink along the lines of Vitameatavegamin. I was genuinely interested at first, but as the story droned along, that waned to politeness then to downright distress. I had to get to work--and didn't he? People, I had the car door open and my foot on the concrete and *still* he droned on. When I picked up the car the next day, I declined samples of the amazing Zija that I had said I would try. I felt kind of bad about that, he seemed genuinely crestfallen, but there was no way I could face the follow-up conversations that would inevitably take place.

Speaking of long-winded, this is the final paragraph, I promise: In preparation for the next round of our home improvements, I cleaned out the hall closet yesterday (we're planning to rent one of those portable storage units and move most of the furniture into it to make the painting and floor replacement faster, so figured I'd get a jump on the sorting of the crap). There were a few "I forgot we had *that*!" moments, and another moment, as I gazed at all of the wool-lined boxes I'd been hoarding for years that represented gifts of jewelry, of realizing how lucky I am to have so many generous people in my life. Oh, and I found my favorite NYU "Torch" fountain pen! There was also the requisite wistful moment--I seem to be having a lot of those lately. The great pile of camera stuff in the giveaway pile did make me kind of sad. I can't bear to part with my Canon T-60, though I haven't touched it since I got the digital. But my very first Pentax that I've had since high school, through whose workhorse's viewfinder I focused much of my youthful creativity, is off to the glue factory of the Goodwill. I hope someone will be inspired by it and love it as much as I did. Well, upon reflection, I have a friend at work who may be interested in adopting it…

Well, off to do the TV room closet…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And Back in San Jose

...but just for the night. Thank goodness. M and I went up to Redding for a quick overnight on Saturday, so it's been a traveling week.

Continuing on Thursday, when we'll be heading down to the City for an anniversary celebration at the California Academy of Science (which is the perfect venue for the new green goddess gown).

An anniversary celebration which sort of began Sunday on the way back from Redding, when we stopped in Chico for a quick but lovely lunch with the clan there. We drove by the Stansbury home where we married just about four years ago. Ah, happy memories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shades of Green

Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Our countertop guy called us to come in to look at the granite he picked out for us, which we did after work tonight. We love it! He chose the one with the palest greens, which is exactly what we wanted. Well, I can always do with more sparkles, but what can you do.

Speaking of sparkles, I finally found a long comfortable summer dress! (Sara, I think I was inspired by your orange number at the DOJ reunion last summer.) It's actually long enough for me, and has a hint of silver in the fabric. It makes me giggle a little--I can't help but think of Spock's mom in the original TV version of Star Trek. And I haven't actually been able to envision an occasion when I would wear it, though it would have worked nicely at the Wednesday Night Market (our local summer farmers market/street fair in our downtown area--great people watching) that we strolled through tonight.
I think much of my hesitation at being seen in public wearing this dress is the enormous green jewels, so I've been thinking of snipping them off. But…the manufacturer's tag suggests that the proper retail price should be $270 (I paid less than a tenth of that, oh Ross how I love thee) so obviously the designers are swanky. Therefore who am I to alter their creation?

Final item on the green agenda: I've been eating well, thanks to Mom dropping off goodies from her garden. I haven't been sharing any with M so far.
Lots on the agenda this weekend: I'm taking Friday off. Don't know what I'll do except for wait with bated breath for the delivery of the new sink and faucet. I should start cleaning out closets in anticipation of the new floors. Saturday night is a trip to the skate park to see our local roller derby team, the Wine Country Homewreckers, throw elbows at the ladies from Sacramento. Sunday is a road trip with the niece. It's also the first day of summer! How I love these long days…

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Little More Lipstick on the Pig

The new range was delivered (twice actually--I sent the first one back for a few minor scratches--am I too picky? The delivery guy was very sweet about it all, though) and installed yesterday, a marvel of German engineering.

I admit it looks a little out of place in the sad state of affairs that currently passes for our kitchen, but we have to have it and the new dishwasher in place before we can go forward with the countertops, followed by the floor. And there needs to be a painting step in between. Ah, the dance of home improvement.

And the devilish little details--for instance, our old range was electric and therefore plugged into the 220v outlet in the wall behind. The new range has only 110v needs, and the nearest outlet is behind the fridge, separated by a cabinet, so we're temporarily draping the extension cord over the countertop. We also of course had to install a gas outlet, and so the new range sticks out a bit more. We love the continuous grates on top, but it also means there's now no place for the spoonrest. The sacrifices I make!

M defrosted several types of meat to try cooking on the range. I need to come up with a proper baking project, too. Cookies, perhaps. Or cupcakes to give the convection feature a trial run.

We'll pick up the dishwasher early next week from Sears. The bastards at Home Depot raised the price of the LG we had our hearts set on, though I think it may have been for the best after all--the LG didn't have good customer reviews. I ordered two other must-have-before-the-countertops items yesterday, a new kitchen sink and faucet from a plumbing warehouse in Kentucky (we are making an effort to spread the spending around). No tax and free shipping to boot, woo!

A lovely weekend so far. My favorite strawberry lady was at the farmers market, so I've been enjoying that treat. M and I went to see a late afternoon showing of "Up" in 3D yesterday and really liked it. We both cried. On the way home, we stopped in the down town area, which had been blocked off for the classic car cruise. That was great. Hundreds of examples of cars and trucks, from Model Ts to '70s muscle cars. The parade route was colorful (spectators included) and smelly and loud as the drivers revved their motors, but that was something you never really get at a show-and-shine. They had cleared out all the regular parking so that the vintage autos could park or join the parade at will. Some of the parked cars had their hoods up and windows down, which was nice for interior ideas. Some drivers and passengers came in costume. I was glad to be there with M, he knows so much about the muscle cars. It made us both want to start the Chevelle project again…though the house is the priority these days, so it will be a while.

Not sure what I'll do today, which is kind of a pleasant feeling. It's a beautiful quiet morning--the yelling neighbors have been on vacation for almost two weeks (!) and the hippie-wannabes camping at the nearby Fairgrounds for the Harmony Festival haven't woken up yet. I'll try to make some good progress in "The Three Musketeers"--I've only been doing a couple of pages a night and have been enjoying it but am ready to move on to new reading adventures. Knitting, writing, crafting. Chores? Maybe a little of all of the above? Ah, life (and the lipstick) is sweet.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Catching Up (Again)

So, lessee:

A week ago tonight, niece Felicia and I rendezvous'd for a movie ("Angels & Demons" inspiring us both to want to spend time in Rome) then crossed the square for dessert at a fairly new-ish French-ish restaurant, the Rendez Vous, haha, that was actually open at 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, a rarity in my town. It was lovely to see her and I'm trying to come up with other activities that may appeal to a young person. It was so fun to be out so late on a "school night"! I never do that.

Last Thursday I went to a gym acquaintance's art show opening, proud that I went to a social event by myself, fully aware that I probably wouldn't know anyone but the artist. Which turned out to be the case. I actually did stay long enough to chat with her and a couple of other people I didn't know. And really liked her art, which I believe is termed "assemblage"--sculptures of found objects, mostly of the household variety rummaging around at thrift stores.

Friday I scooted out of work a little early to get ready for what I was considering M's coming out party: the local Bar Association's "summer soiree" at a tony local restaurant. It was déjà vu all over again, very much like the alumni association shindigs I used to staff when I worked at NYU years ago--lots of schmoozing amongst professionals who had known each other for years, sprinkled with the newbies. There was one young lady who seemed to resolutely stand out alone in the crowd, and I pointed her out to M--I felt like I was seeing myself in a different incarnation. He tried to engage her in conversation, but was rebuffed, ah well. We were both disappointed in the food, but the wine was good (Chateau Saint Jean, pouring their pinot blanc and merlot). I managed to impress M with my mad professional chatting up skillz. The best part of the night? As I asked for a last "scoche" of wine, the pourer informed me that it was a word of Japanese origin, meaning small of course, and pronounced in two syllables, sko-she. And here I had been thinking it was a word of some sort of Northern European provenance.

M dropped me at home and went in for his sleep study that same night. He returned home early the next morning, haggard and hearkening of Frankenstein what with the metal nubs glued strategically onto his form and hair. Not only had he tried to sleep all hooked up to various machines, but the bed apparently had a bar that crossed his back, so he was only able to get a couple of hours of sleep, poor guy. But it looks like one of those breathing machines is in our future.

Saturday was a mile"stone" in our home improvement tasks--after M was recovered enough from his "sleeping" experience, we put a deposit down on the granite countertops! It felt great. Extra bonus--it was substantially less than we thought it would be! Of course, nothing has happened yet, meaning nothing has had the chance to go horribly awry, and we haven't been washing our dishes in the shower for months, so it was easy to be excited. We also decided to do due appliance diligence on Saturday and visited a couple of local appliance dealers before pulling the final purchase trigger at the Home Depot sale this week…and of course fell in love with a Bosch gas convection range that was a "skoshe" out of our price range. We've been talking ourselves into spending the extra money for it ever since, and today M went back and dickered a bit and…well, we'll hopefully be finalizing the deal tomorrow after work.

Sunday was a wonderful day, marking the beginning of our nesting activities in earnest. Our handyman neighbor was over bright and early and he and M replaced our front door! It is beautiful! It's white and has a big window, so now that corner of the living room is so much brighter. And he charged us a very reasonable price. And it was basically done in a day, so minimal impact on our existence. Particularly mine--I helped with a little trim painting and clean up, and that was it. Mostly out of guilt, I did perform a few household chores while the door was being installed.

This evening was all despair on the home front, however. M and I have been trying to refinance our home loan to take advantage of the recent low rates and thought we had locked in at a smokin' 4.625% deal. Which we hoped would set us up for all kinds of possibilities in the future, including being able to eventually get another loan and therefore another home where we could actually have a dinner party that comfortably seats more that one other person. We learned tonight that something went awry between our agent and lender, and in fact we did not lock in as we had thought. While I know I'm going to be happier here when we've finished our various improvements, it remains that I'm not living in the house I want to yet, and this setback in trying to find a new home has made me really sad. I cursed loudly and almost burst into tears at work when M broke the news to me this afternoon. OK, OK--I also know that overall I'm extremely lucky to even have a home to call my own. I know that. But it's hard to realize that one of the most forward thinking plans we had made for the long term has just fallen through, for no apparent good reason.

Well, I'm sure the buying the new range tomorrow will make me feel much better.