Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life Routine

A friend of mine just laughs when we get together after only a couple of weeks apart at all the busyness and changes from just one week to the next. I don't know if most people's lives are stable, routine and predictable, but mine sure isn't.

Just in the past couple of weeks:

1. Painting. Bye-bye red. The entire entry, living room and hallway went from Opera House Red to a color called "Bagel". It is a beautiful warm yellow. To go from the red to the light color required a day of primer (thank you Sandra for helping!), then two days of painting (Thank you to Evelyn and Mary!).

2. Pre-menopause. Well as I have suspected for a long time, I am there, no matter what any doctor says. Older women take one look at me sweating, flushed and fanning myself and laugh, "oh girl, you're flashing!" My husband who is clueless about such things mentioned that I constantly run the air conditioning, or turn on the fan, turn it off, put the sweatshirt on, take it back off...our new landlord laughed and told him that I'm going through "the change".

3. Kristen. Our daughter came to visit for a few days. We haven't seen her for more than a year. It was a really good visit. Kristen is getting married in a few weeks, so we could have waited, I suppose, but you don't really get a chance to talk and enjoy each other during a wedding! Alex came home for the weekend, so we had a great time together.

4. The Business. We have a new office. I am having to plan the build out of the office space, as well as planning what we need to buy to furnish and equip the new space.

5. Parents. They've decided to move back to Co Spgs! This is pretty exciting, but it has its own challenges. When you live on social security and have no other resources, you have to keep the rent pretty low. I have checked out a bunch of unsuitable places, made a number of calls, and eliminated a number of places. Today, however, I was prepared to be dismayed by a place in a part of town that used to be known for run-down places. The area seems to have undergone a renovation and even some nice new building, while the rents stayed affordable. It was very nice and I think it will work.

6. Golf. I'm not supposed to golf. Drs. orders. (Well it was more of a suggestion than an order...) I was kicking myself for having signed up for our office scramble tourney, and spent entirely too much money buying suitable clothes for golfing (fortunately they will work for many other things as well). I was convinced I would humiliate myself, and it started out convincing every one that I was correct in my assumption and couldn't even get the ball off the tee. Lack of depth perception aside, I decided to keep at it and managed a few decent swings, even a 70 yd. straight down the fairway. I was thrilled to actually connect with the ball, a real challenge with no depth perception.

7. Lights, Camera, Action. I've been installing a new light fixture lighting up the entryway. I'm not strong enough to trim the screws down to size, so I had to go back out tonight to find the right size and length among the thousands hanging on the aisle.

8. Office Mate. I now share an office with Michelle, an energetic, funny, outgoing former special ed teacher. I never saw any evidence of my former office mate, and I guess now I know the reason why. She apparently quit without telling anyone.

9. Organization. I bought, put together and put two shelving units in the laundry room, even cleaning and organizing the laundry room between hot flashes.

10. Landscapers. Two different landscapers have come out to give us a bid on our yard. Each time I have to walk them through the yard and explain what I want done and my "vision" for the completed project.

11. Flooring. The guys came the day after putting on the first coat of paint to replace the dining room floor so that it would match the rest of the flooring. The two days it took to finish it were days when painting could not be continued (to keep the sawdust out of the fresh paint).

12. Billing and other office stuff. Ohmigosh. Where do I start? Contractors ask you to do a job, you do it, then they refuse to pay the bill because "we didn't think it would cost this much." When was the last time I made an appointment with the doctor, a lawyer, or even the hairdresser, got the bill and said, "You charge too much, so I'm not going to pay." Un-freaking-belieavable.

13. Wallpaper. Hunting out replacement wallpaper for the dining room. I've been through dozens of wallpaper books. The problem is that I love the paper I already have, but the paperhangers did a horrible job installing it, ruining it. I can't find the same paper. :-(

14. Music. Practice and singing on Sunday morning. Really great, but it is Thursday evening, and nearly 6 hours on Sunday. For extra special fun, this week as an illustrative part of the sermon, prior to the service an entire can of vanilla deodorizer was sprayed in the auditorium, sending me into the worst asthma attack I've had in ages. I can't find a single inhaler. It's been so long since I used one I may have thrown them away as expired. Anyway, a bad asthma attack makes it very difficult to sing as it irritates the lungs and bronchial tubes, and the coughing messes with your voice. But God is still in his heaven and with his help I was able to sing.

15. Firewood. See previous blog "Cousin Roy".

16. The Trim Guy. The reason for all the frantic activity (painting, floors) is that our trim guy is installing the crown molding, baseboard, door and window trim, handrails, and the new front door and storm door. It doesn't make sense to paint after the trim goes in, so it needed to be done before he got here. We've waited months for this guy to fit us in, because his portfolio is amazing. It seems to me that you're better off waiting for the busy guy, than taking the guy who has lots of time on his hand. The craftsman is probably busy, busy, busy.

Well that's a brief overview of the past couple of weeks. I left some stuff out, of course. When you consider the speed I work at, and the fact that it's ragweed season and I'm hot flashing right and left, even I'm impressed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Cousin Roy"

I have a friend I'll call Roy. We treat him like family, so let's just call him "Cousin Roy". Cousin Roy has always been a character. There are few people more generous than he is. Yet, though he's more than 20 years my senior, he always acted like a demented teenager, but is one of the most well-read people I know. Not of novels, but if there is a non-fiction book or article on health, engineering, Christianity, cars, airplanes, etc., especially a terribly technical manual, he's read it, understands it and remembers it. If there is a potato cannon needing to be built, or some other article of teenage boy havoc-wreaking machinery needing to be built, he has done so, can tell you exactly how, has the materials, and probably has a working model, if you promise never to reveal where you saw it.

He is also an incredible packrat.

If you don't know a true packrat, let me tell you it is no joke. A true packrat fills most every corner of their home with...well...stuff. Piles, mounds, stacks of papers, merchandise and junk of all descriptions. Boxes and boxes of electronic components, tools, automotive parts, yacht batteries (we live in Colorado), lumber, odd bits of everything people didn't want at the neighborhood garage sale, stacks of corrugated roofing material, rebar, fixtures of all descriptions removed from houses of friends, neighbors and people he doesn't even know. There will always be a use for the hoarded item one day. These things are so useful that life become impeded by their presence. A couch becomes not a place to sit a weary body and chat with a friend, but storage for boxes o'crap and piles o'junk papers. One need not sit at the dining table when it will hold an extra generator, a compressor, broken picture frames, rc airplane motors, submersible pumps and a case of WD-40. The stove becomes yet another storage place, making it unusable for the preparation of food. The kitchen sink may be unreachable for months on end when a new pump for the well is sitting in front of it.

A true packrat has stacks of items they bought and never used, whether at a garage sale or at the clearance rack at the hardware store. Women packrats may have dozens of unused, still wrapped aprons, bags of linens, blouses spanning many colors, styles and eras, all with the tags still on them. Men may do the same thing, but often they are obsessed with things like radios, power tools, TVs, bags of tube socks, pens, rulers, oil filters, and cameras.

Well, if you need a whazit for a schedingyding, the '43 model, not the '44 or '42, Roy probably has one, and if you give him a few minutes he can probably locate that whazit and the doohickey that goes with it, as well as the schlemlerdinckel that makes it work better, and will be able to tell you just how to remove the ringydingy nozzel to replace the whazit, the doohickey and to add the schlemlerdinckel as well.

Some time back, Cousin Roy told me he had made me executor of his estate. Given the sheer volume of stuff filling his house, garage, screen porch, storage sheds, trailers on his property as well as the stuff stacked against the house, I can remember being both flattered and horrified. Over the last 6 months, Roy has made considerable progress reducing the piles o'crap. I have been quite hopeful that he had finally conquered this compusion.

Alas. Today I was called to come pick up free firewood. It wasn't a good time, but I was told that it was now or never, that the stuff would be gone tomorrow, so I went. I picked up a truck load of firewood, and while I was doing that, I watched as Roy filled his truck with used and excess building materials, including a one-piece shower unit. He has no possible use for a shower unit. None. He told me he had been working loading and unloading for days and had a stack as high as his privacy fence. He has a six foot privacy fence. I am officially horrified. Horrified and depressed.

In the space of a couple of days he managed to undo 6 months of progress. It depresses and overwhelms me with the magnitude of the task should he die tomorrow. There is no flattery in being the executor of this estate.

Also depressing is that the place where we were gathering the free materials had bags of discarded possessions, presumably from a series of tenants of a rather rundown old house. Bags of children's toys were amongst the piles of firewood. We uncovered either two dead birds, or the decomposing spread out remains of one. I also uncovered a broken glass pipe. I don't know what drug turns a pipe black, but I imagine most any would as the substance is burned. Sad to think that there were drugs and children, poverty and misuse of funds involving children. The human despair and the depravity...oh, it just makes me so incredibly sad.

I want to run and clean out something, throw something away, but I realize that just this past week I tacked the laundry/utility room and brought it to some semblance of order, even throwing away some things in the process. Good. The panic attack is held at bay, and is even receeding. Breathe slowly. In. Out. In. Out. Ahhhhh. Must remember to breathe.