Sunday, February 26, 2023

Look Around, Leaves Are Brown, There's a Patch of Snow on the Ground


Well, kids. It's been a rough Winter for me. Not that everything has been bad. I got to take my baby girl to Chicago for a long weekend to celebrate her getting a job after she graduated from her surgical technician program, and that was amazing and fun.

It's mostly everything associated with my Hyperthyroidism/Grave's Disease that's been doing me in. Of course the thyroid is a hormone so when it's messed up, it f*cks with all kinds of weird things in my body...Most importantly emotions and energy levels. And no older person needs help messing with those things.

I am taking Methimazole to calm down my thyroid. Like I've said before, that medicine has a lot of side effects. The ones that are bothering me the most are the headaches, which on me are migraines, muscle and joint pain, digestive issues, and weight gain. Sounds like a blast, right? Luckily, some of those side effects lessen as your body gets used to being on the drugs. And since my hyperthyroidism was so bad, they gave me a large dose of these drugs every month. At my last appointment a week or so ago, they checked my levels, and my meds have worked so well that I am now HypOthyroid, which means I am super lethargic, I have mild depression instead of anxiety, Oh, and even more of the weight gain that seemingly never ends. 

I also forgot to tell you that my meds lower my immune system. I do try to be careful and wear a mask when I'm in large groups of people, but sometimes I forget, or get tired of it, and go someplace and don't wear one, but I finally got sick this past week, and it was a doozy. I had this weird cold thing that turned into a stomach flu and I was tired and dizzy and watched a lot of bad TV. I started feeling a little better today, so I'm hoping I'm on the upswing.

I know I am whining a LOT right now, but the good news is that my doctor decreased my dose by half, so in the next month or two, I should hopefully start seeing a decrease in the lethargy, depression, and even my weight gain is supposed to calm down. I can't even  imagine how lovely that will all be.

Don't worry, I'm still trying to get some exercise in, which is normally how I deal with any physical/mental/emotional issue I have, but the weird joint and muscle pain thing that my meds do is no joke...Okay, it can seem kind of funny in that old-people-falling-apart way, that those of us of a certain age can either laugh or cry at...Or laugh until we cry, which is what I like to do.

Anyway, here is an example of what I'm talking about:

When we were in Chicago we went to the immersive Van Gogh exhibit (which was amazing and I highly recommend it). We checked out the gift shop ahead of time, and they still had some merch left from the Frida Kahlo immersive experience and it was on sale, so I thought, "What the hell, I should get the 1,000 piece Frida Kahlo jigsaw puzzle". I totally forgot why it's a bad idea for me to buy jigsaw puzzles, and that is because my stupid ADHD can make me hyper-focused (read: obsessed) about completing puzzles, and it can take away from literally anything else I should be doing. Who needs to eat? Sleep? What's that? I can put in my own catheter, don't you think? No? Maybe a chamber pot?

So, I start working on this stupid puzzle, and I have kind of a shallow table I use to put puzzles together, and spend almost an entire day one day working on it, and because of the weird position I was in for most of that day, I wake up the next morning and my hip is all different kinds of messed-up. Seriously. Shit. That was about a month ago, and it's still not back to be 100%. It's a hell of a lot better, and almost where it should be, but man is it embarrassing telling people how I hurt my hip - vigorous jigsaw puzzling? Egad! I guess it's an answer to one of those, "tell people you're old without actually saying you're old" things. I could barely walk for a few weeks because I hurt my hip putting together a jigsaw puzzle. No matter how many ways I say it, it's still embarrassing.

 Okay, so the deal is, it's been a rough Winter physically, mentally, emotionally, and as far as my pride is concerned, BUT it is almost March, which means warmer weather (at least by May in Iowa, but SOOO close), my body is slowly but surely getting used to the side effects of my meds, and anyway My doctor decreased my dose by half, so hopefully all of this stupid disease shit should eventually get better and better. HOPEFULLY.

Now, I just have to figure out a way to get the cats to give me my reading chair back that I recently bought to escape into books on all of these bad days I've been having. I can't blame them for hogging that chair, it's soft, and velvety, and best of all, it swivels!


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Time Grabs You by the Wrist, Directs You Where to Go

Okay, for the love of gawd! I am finally finishing my shit jobs post. Before I started this, I really forgot how many jobs I worked, and how many times I worked at a couple of these places. I guess I should just get on with it now, huh?:

 24.) During my last semester in college I only took 12 hours of college courses, which meant that I could work 60 hours a week instead of the measly 40 I was working when I was taking 16 or 17 hours of classes. A friend of mine knew a guy who was leaving his job at an ice cream/coffee/soup and sandwich place, and they were going to need to replace him. I marched right down, got an interview, and started working at the Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company within the week. I would work at Great Midwestern twice, for nine years and I wore many hats. The first time I worked there, I took classes in the morning, worked there in the afternoon, and worked at the Mexican restaurant at night. When did I sleep and do homework? Who the hell knows.

 25.) My 19th job was detasseling corn the Summer I turned 26, but I already kind of talked about that. Basically, I was trying to save up money to move to Albuquerque to see if job prospects might be any better after I graduated from college with a "very practical" English degree. The guy I was dating at the time had a cousin who just moved to New Mexico who had a little apartment that used to be a garage where we could stay for free until we got set-up.

26.) Surprise, surprise, my 20th job was working at one of those crappy mall pizza places in Albuquerque. It was so bland and boring that I don't even remember the name of the mall OR the pizza place. What I remember most about that job in 1991, was that New Mexicans put Ranch dressing on EVERYTHING. Ironically, Iowa would later be known for doing just that, but back then,  I hadn't really seen that before.


27.) While I was in Albuquerque I discovered I was pregnant with The Oldest. Not having been around babies much, I thought I should move back to Iowa and family. I was lucky enough to get my old job back at Great Midwestern. I worked there through both of my pregnancies. I worked on the line, was a janitor there and a shift manager. It was the last restaurant job I ever worked. As usual, the most important part of that job were the amazing friends I made and still have today.

28.) When my oldest daughter was old enough to go to kindergarten, I was finally able to afford to leave my abusive ex-husband. I would only have to pay full-time day care for my youngest daughter and the before and after school program for my youngest. I got a full-time job at the hospital working as a nursing assistant in the Ob/Gyn clinic. I took  home $1200/ week there. $600 went to pay for daycare and $600 went to my rent. Everything else had to come from my part-time job at Great Midwestern. I did love my job at the clinic. I did phlebotomy, I assisted in all kinds of different procedures, I taught med students how to use a sterile field and catheterize women, I was pulled to translate for Spanish speaking patients, and my favorite part of the job, was advocating for patients. I had to make sure they weren't getting pap smears less than a year than their last one, so their insurance company would cover it, and I had to help them through some painful/scary procedures. It was the most heart breaking/rewarding job I've ever had.

29.) Because being a nursing assistant only paid $7.80 back in the late 1990's, I took a typing test, and got a job as a patient account representative in the business office of the same hospital where I worked at the ob/gyn clinic. Even after cleaning toilets for a living, this was probably my least favorite job. It was a lot of dealing with insurance companies that screwed over our patients, seeing people lose their farms and their homes because they had astronomical hospital bills they couldn't pay, and every phone call I answered produced ridiculous amounts of work I didn't have time to do, before the next call came in bringing its own ridiculous amount of work. At least some of the calls were amusing. Aside from half of them starting out with, "You fucking people...". I had a guy tell me that the Pope said he would pay his bill, and he gave me the address of the Vatican to send it to. I wondered if the Pope would pay my day care costs too. I also had a woman tell me that I was in cahoots with Janet Reno in causing the Oklahoma City bombing. I had no idea Janet Reno caused the bombing, or that I was so powerful (you'd think I'd be making more money). 

 30.) Since I was not super happy at the business office, I was applying for all kinds of other jobs. I did it like playing the lottery, I didn't think I'd get them, but it didn't hurt to try. You never knew...I finally got lucky and started working at the Admissions Office at a big 10 university. In April, I will have worked here for 22 years. When I started there in 2001, nothing was online. All the applications were paper and they, and any supporting documents were sent through the mail. We had a toll-free line to answer any questions and a huge space in our office was taken up by all of our paper files. I have seen everything change and our work force decrease by probably 70 %. Besides me, there is now only one other person who was there when I started still working in the office. My job has changed a bunch of different times, and I was just told that I will be learning something completely new to me in the next few months. I get good insurance, and get paid well for what I do. I have no idea how much longer I will be at this job. I hope I will be able to stay until I can afford to retire, and in my best fantasies, I get to that place sooner rather than later.

31.) I am counting donating plasma and mowing an older woman's lawn as one job. They were what I had to do to be able to afford to pay my mortgage after I first bought my house in addition to my full time job. Lucky for me, I only had to do them for a little over a year.

So, 31 jobs. No wonder I'm tired. I really hope I don't have to add to this list. I would love to somehow get enough money to retire and my only job will be to take care of my house, my gardens, and my fun hobbies. I can't even imagine how luxurious that would feel.

May you all be able to afford to retire the minute you are ready.

Sunday, January 08, 2023

I Was Working as a Waitress in CockTAY-al Bar, That Much is True

Photo found on the internet.

 Okay. So, it's time for round two of me listing every shit job I've ever worked. Let's see, where were we?

10.) The tenth job I had was being a line cook at Snow Summit Ski Resort in Big Bear Lake, California in 1985/1986. I found this job because a couple who worked with for the US Forest Service and helped with our job in the California Conservation Corps during the Summer, also worked at this ski resort during the Winter. They helped get my boyfriend at the time and I jobs and even let us stay at the their parent's A-Frame cabin for a couple of weeks when we first got there. 

I wanted to learn how to snow ski, and by working there I got free lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. It's really the only way I would ever have been able to afford to learn how to ski.

In the 1980's this ski resort attracted a lot of B-movie actors, and bands that were on their way up or down. One year every one of my co-workers got sick with every kind of flu/pneumonia/pleurisy/cold you can imagine. So, on Christmas morning that year it was me and one other guy who didn't have insurance and couldn't afford to go to a doctor, making breakfast on one of the busiest days of the year there. We were both just as sick, we just couldn't get a doctor's note getting us off of work. So, sorry people like Jan Michael Vincent and the band Berlin if we gave you a horrible flu that year.

 11.) After the ski resort, my boyfriend and I moved to San Francisco. When I first moved there I got a job being an assistant manager at a shoe store on Shattuck Avenue on the Oakland/Berkeley border. I was 20 years old, and that company took me for a ride. They paid me minimum wage as if I were only working 40 hrs/week, but expected me to work at least 60 hours a week for that.

Worst of all, like most companies back then (and today too), it was a HUGE good-old-boys network. The regional manager was an old dude with a gambling problem, and the manager was a younger dude who just covered for him.

When I finally got sick of everything enough to quit, the manager told me that I was only quitting because I was worried about spending enough time with my boyfriend. (It couldn't POSSIBLY be because I was smart enough to know I was being taken advantage of, and in a toxic work situation or anything...). Later on I found out that the old white dude was stealing from the cash register to gamble and after I left, it wasn't possible for the young white dude to hide that fact from the company. They fired both managers and laid off everyone else under them. I felt bad about the other co-workers, but those two manager dudes had it coming.

Me when I was 21 in the apartment I found from my co-worker at the Courtyard Cafe.

 12.) My twelfth job was working as a waitress and barista at the Courtyard Cafe on 24th Street in San Francisco in 1986. It was kind of a fancier place. I waited on Burt Parks, Robin Williams, and Alice Walker's daughter there. I have a million stories about the cafe, but that will have to be their own 20 different blog posts.

I will say, I met a woman working there who let me rent a flat with her and her friend, and that friend and another roommate who came along later were some of the best people for me to be around at that time.

13.) My next job was as a bar back at a fancy restaurant in the basement of  Macy's Department Store. I loved this job. I was actually more of a bartender, because the person I was supposed to be backing wasn't really into it, and so I learned a lot just doing her job for her. Don't worry, I still made tons of money. Either this woman knew every famous person who ever lived, or she had a wonderful imagination, because she would tell me all these stories like, "So, we were at this party in Paris and I went to the bathroom, and I see Salvador Dali just watching me. You know, he was a terrible voyeur..." She was endlessly entertaining.

The hardest thing about that job was how many of my friends and co-workers were contracting and dying of AIDS at that time. It was such a sad and scary time.

15.) My 15th job was back in Iowa City where I decided to go to school again and see how I did. In the Summer I was working back at the Mill at night, but I also worked at The Farmers Market and Bakery on Linn Street as a cook. This was kind of a hippie/artsy place where the livin' was groovy. I learned how to make soups here, and other valuable lessons like, don't use more barley than is called for, and just because a little dill is good, it doesn't necessarily mean that a LOT of dill will be better.

16.) Once I was in school in the Fall, I got a work study job to go along with my job at the Mill. I worked in book stacks at the main library. Imagine me handling books all day. The sad thing was that I wasn't able to read them, and I couldn't even take the time to peruse the jackets for book descriptions. Frankly, it got a little frustrating.

17.) I moved back to San Francisco at the end of 1987. My old boyfriend and I were having many issues, and we were going to give it one last chance to see if we could make it work (spoiler alert: we couldn't). I got a job in the mornings at a place called "Bakers of Paris". It was owned by a Vietnamese company. 

Originally, they had hired all these gorgeous French women because they thought it would bring in a lot of business, but many of the French women were very rude to the customers, so they were forced to hire Americans who maybe weren't quite as beautiful. It was an easy job, because the manager liked to smoke a lot of weed. So, because he was smart, he organized everything so well that he could do his job when he was really high without having to think very hard. That worked for my ADHD too. The best part about the job is that we got free baguettes and pastries

18.) While I worked at Bakers of Paris in the morning, I also took the J Church straight to Macy's, where I went after I moved back. There wasn't a bar back job open anymore, but they hired me to work on the deli side of the restaurant. I still made pretty good money, and we would cater parties to things like Vanna White's new clothing line, where because it was about fashion, no one there would eat, and we would get to have all of the leftovers.

19.) Here's where things get a little muddled, because I thought I only worked at the Mill twice, but now that I'm writing this, I must have worked at the Mill THREE DIFFERENT TIMES! So, I worked there when I came back from San Francisco a SECOND Time. Just thinking about this is making my head hurt. I'm so glad I'm not young and moving every six months anymore. JAYSUS!

21.) My 17th job was working in the juniors department at The Glendale Galeria in Glendale, California. I had lost my Iowa residency while I was in California the last time, and I had to pay out of state tuition, which was ridiculous for me. I thought I would go back to California and pay in-state tuition there, and my newer boyfriend was an actor who thought he had a line on a gig there. We were both wrong, but before we figured that out, I sold clothes to people like Punky Brewster, and to whomever it was who was in charge of costumes for Bernadette Peters in the movie "Pink Cadillac". 

I made a fun friend there, named Barbie who was a self-proclaimed Cuban American princess and we would ride around in the candy apple red BMW her parents gave her for graduation. This was in 1988, and there was all kinds of talk about gang violence. I was 23 years old.

22.) After I moved back AGAIN to go to school in Iowa City. My brother had a talk with the residency office for me, and after over a year, I finally got to pay in-state tuition. I worked two jobs. The first was as a line cook at a Mexican restaurant. It was a shit show in a lot of ways, there were some issues with cocaine and some of the servers (again, this was the 80's/early 90's), BUT I met one of my favorite people and future roommates here, so no matter what kind of bullshit I had to put up with, it was worth it.

She was the brilliant one who suggested we play "The Love Boat" at work. The bartender would of course be Isaac, the old dude who waited there would be Captain Stubing, the doofy guy we worked with was Gopher, the most prolific cocaine user waitress got to be Julie the activities director, and she decided all of us women cooking on the line would be the special guest appearance of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (duh). 

23.) During this same time, I worked my 23rd job. I used to be a nude model for art classes at the university. It paid almost twice what minimum wage was, and the hours were flexible. I was already working almost full time and taking 17 hours/credits at the university, so I didn't have a lot of time for anything else. Also, modeling nude wasn't all that weird for me. My parents were artists, we were raised to see the human form as beautiful and not shameful.

One of my "greatest" memories was once when I was modeling for a painting class. There was a guy painting almost right in front of me. Different students would take a break from their paintings, walk by his, and laugh. Since the painting was facing him, I couldn't see it from where I was sitting. Finally, after I got to rest in between posing, (it actually hurts to sit still for long periods of time) I went over and checked out what he was working on. It turns out it was a painting of a rooster's head with my body riding a giant phallus. In my head I laughed to myself, "It doesn't look a THING like me".

It looks like I'll be doing a part three to this. It's amazing just how many crappy jobs I've worked when I lay it all out like this. I do apologize for the bad typos, and misspellings. I could really benefit from a good editor right now...Or even a bad one would probably help.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

In the Same Boat With a Lot of Your Friends, Waitin' for the Day Your Ship'll Come In

Oh, kids. I've been fantasizing about being able to afford to retire for the last couple of years now. I get that I am lucky to have a job, and that since I've worked at this same institution for 26 years, that I get paid well for what I do, and what with my latest health problems, I am EXTREMELY lucky to have the health insurance I do, but I'm worked out. Of course, I probably have at least ten years before I can even entertain the idea of retiring, but a girl can dream, can't she?

People tell me that I'll be bored when I retire, or that I will lose my social outlet, but I beg to differ. First of all, the only time I'm ever really bored is when I'm at work. My job basically consists of me inputting classes and grades from other colleges into a computer and answering the same questions via phone and email for the last 21 years. Also, it is true that I have made many great friends in my past jobs. My friend Ed G. used to say, "It's a good thing that Churly is poor and had to work so much, or she wouldn't have any friends." But I don't have tons in common with most of my current co-workers. They are all perfectly nice and all that, it's just that they aren't like people in my past jobs, that weren't in offices, who I still see and hang out with over 30 years later. If I didn't have to work the majority of my waking hours, I would have time to go hang out with people I DO have things in common with.

Most importantly, I have so many things I could be doing with my days that I just don't have time for now. So, right now I fantasize about it.One of these decades, I hope I can afford to retire for real. While I'm thinking (obsessing) about all of this, I thought I'd look back on all of the many, many jobs I've had in the past. I think after reading about them, you'll see that I have earned the right to be tired of the grind.

1.) My first "job". I think I should have stopped after my very first job, because it probably wasn't going to get any better than that. When I was 9 or 10, our next door neighbors in Mesa, Arizona asked me if I could take care of their dachshund, and her six newborn puppies while they were on vacation for two weeks. It was by far the best job I've ever had.

2.) The second job I had was when I was eleven. I took over my brother's old paper route, delivering the Chicago Sun Times and the Tribune in Alsip, Illinois. This was in the late 1970's. After they caught John Wayne Gacy, I was never so glad to be a paper GIRL.

3.) My third job was as a neighborhood babysitter when I was in junior high. The few things I remember about this job was trying to spread the cookies out in their packages to make it look like I didn't eat as many as I really had, watching Saturday Night Live after the kids had gone to bed, and reading the naughtiest parts of  the parent's copies of "Forever" by Judy Blume. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single family I babysat for had a copy of "Forever" on their book shelf in the late 70's.

4.) In high school I wasn't really allowed to work outside of my legal guardian's house. I did PLENTY of work inside it, though. I was allowed to sort boxes at the company that one of my legal guardians managed from time to time, and I was allowed to detassel corn every Summer. For those of you NOT from Iowa, detasseling is where a bunch of people who are desperate for money go out in corn fields and pull the tassel of certain rows of plants to make hybrid seed corn. It usually takes place for a few weeks in July, so it is hot as hell, you get really bad corn rash walking through the aisles of corn, there are bugs everywhere, and if you're really lucky, you'll grab a tassel that has this goopy disgusting mold on it. I did this particular job all four years of high school, and one Summer right after I graduated college.

5.) When I first moved to Iowa City it was really hard to even find shit jobs. You know, Reaganomics and all that. I did have a stint trying to sell magazines over the phone, but that lasted about a week. I hate to bother people in general, and I hate to try and sell people things they don't want or need specifically. So, it was about the worst situation for me.

6.) My sixth job was at a pizza delivery place called Pizza Wheels. It was one of those shit jobs where most of the people you worked with were great, so it was fine in general, except when the big boss came to town, crapped all over everything, and left again. I quit this job without giving notice because the band Husker Du was playing in this guy named Robot's art studio on a Sunday night in December of 1984 (Bob Mould still had long hair back then), and my boss wouldn't give me the night off. The show was worth it.

8.) My eighth job was working at Amelia Earhart's Deli, mostly as a dishwasher, but I would cocktail waitress on occasion when there were bands. Like most restaurants in the 1980's the owner appeared to have a little cocaine problem, so she would have me try the soups, since she didn't have much of a sense of smell or taste. If I could actually make money tasting soup for people right now, I would never want to retire.

9.) My ninth job was working in the Salmon Restoration Project in the California Conservation Corps in 1985. This was the most physically demanding job I've ever had. There were about 20 of us, all 18 to 22 years old, living in trailers right on the banks of the Eel River in Leggett, California, a town of about 150 marijuana growers (back in the 1980's weed was illegal. The growers booby trapped all of the areas where they had crops, so you couldn't hike around there unless  you really wanted to tempt fate.).

We were all trained to fight wild land fires, and floods, and could be pulled to help with those situations whenever we were needed. We were called fish heads because our job was to enhance the salmon population in that area. Back in the day, logging companies would just clear-cut whole forests, take the trees they wanted, and bulldoze the rest into rivers so they could then drive their trucks over the log jams they created. Because they didn't care about anything but money, they didn't realize they were killing off the salmon and steel head trout populations by doing that. Derrrrrr. Salmon will only spawn where they were spawned, and if they can't get there because there are fifty foot high log jams in their way, they don't reproduce. Our job was to use chainsaws to cut up these log jams and then recreate the creek habitat after the jams were busted up. As hard as it was in so many ways, I loved this job. 

I met my first real boyfriend there, I saw a bobcat and a mountain lion out in the wild for the first time at this job, I made tons of mistakes, and learned so much, and woke up every day, walked out into my backyard of  Redwood trees and thought, "Damn! I can't believe I live here."

My 7th and 14th jobs respectively were both working at the Mill Restaurant. Remember when I said I still have friends from jobs that I worked thirty years ago? A lot of those friends I met at the Mill. I met a friend and roommate who helped me get to California the first time. I met my first husband working there. He turned out not to be the nicest person in the world, but I have two amazing daughters from that marriage, so I have to look at that as a good thing. 

I think for me, the reason that the Mill was so important, was that I had just turned 19 the week before I started working there the first time, and I was 23 when I finally quit the second time I worked there, and I grew up there in a lot of ways. I met the kinds of people who I wanted to emulate (and plenty of people I wanted to make sure and NOT emulate). Musicians, artists, writers, and just good, complicated, interesting, hilariously funny friends who helped me figure out how to be an adult...Not a mature adult, mind you. More like they showed me I could be an adult without having to be mature. 

I worked as a line cook there and there were some insanely busy nights, and really bad folk music, but also some nights there was really GOOD folk music, and a lot of people drank too much, and I was experimenting and trying out all different kinds of ways to be, and for me, the Mill was the best place to do that. I honestly don't think I would be the same person I am today (for good or bad) if my brother hadn't helped me get a job at the Mill when I was 19.

Okay, this is way too long already, and I have tons more jobs to talk about, so I'm calling this Part One, and I'll start Part Two in the next day or two

Monday, January 02, 2023

And This Old World, is a New World, and a Bold World for Me, Yeah Yeah

Well kids, it's a new year. Intellectually I know that December 31st 2022 isn't really any different than January 1st 2023, but I really don't see anything wrong with portioning out a year, and then going back and reviewing things, and seeing what worked, what didn't, and what I learned from all of  the shit. Like most years, 2022 was a mixed bag. It ended pretty well but I had to deal with some crap for a while there.

I always try to start a year out by playing outside when I can. So, for 2023, I did a two mile run, and was able to obtain my beloved runner's high. It was how I'd like the rest of my year to go - playing outside and getting endorphin rushes as much as possible.

We ended 2022 in  mellow tone. On New Year's Eve I did my first indoor bike trainer work-out, and picked a show that I can only watch while I'm on the bike trainer, so if I love the show, I will do many more work-outs. In 2018, when I picked "Game of Thrones", I got into incredible shape. John told me that I should start sprinting on the bike any time they showed boobs, but I told him I would be dead at the end of almost any episode. 

Anyway, this year I chose "Yellowstone". My brother told me it was a soap opera, but I don't care. If it's fun and the scenery is beautiful, even if I don't love Kevin Costner, I'll hopefully be engaged and want to do tons of bike trainer work-outs just to watch it. As you can already guess, I'm not the biggest fan of working out indoors, but I live in Iowa, so what's a girl to do?

We thought about going to the Dublin Underground for Irish New Year, which takes place at 6 o'clock Iowa time and is PERFECT for old people like me and John, but John was worried that it might be a super spreader event on account of how crowded it gets, and my meds supposedly lower my immune system, so we stayed home. 

I bought a bottle of non-alcoholic cosmo mocktail stuff and we played Scrabble and watched the latest Knives Out/Glass Onion movie. It was actually perfect, AND I didn't have a hang-over and hopefully not Covid either the next day.

So, as you probably already guessed, this is my year in review post for 2022. I turned 57 years old in July. My birthday was super mellow, but also really nice. John and I did a gravel ride to The Amanas and met the girls and one of their boyfriends and had food truck food and sat in a beer garden. Friends, family, bike rides, beer, and food truck pizza. What's not to like?

Trips we took:

At the end of January, John and I drove down to Bentonville, Arkansas to watch Cyclocross Worlds in person and try to do some mountain biking. It was great to be in 60 degree temps in January, but I had a bad cold and couldn't really ride as much on the mountain bike trails as I wanted.

In May The Oldest turned thirty. For her birthday, she wanted the whole family to road trip down to New Orleans together. It was such a wonderful trip. We all split the costs and took turns paying for meals, and it wasn't horribly expensive for any of us. I visited three new states for the first time: Tennesse, Mississippi, and Louisiana. I went to two museums for the first time: The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and the World War II Museum in New Orleans. They are both amazing, and I hope you all get a chance to check them out. I sipped on a hurricane and wandered around the French Quarter, I accidentally bought a sculpture of an orgy at the French Market, and we got to dance to a free show of Tuba Skinny. Most importantly, I was lucky enough to share all of these experiences with my family.

For John's birthday in September, he wanted to go back to Moab and ride bikes and hike. My brother came with us. It was an interesting trip in some ways, because it was only a month after my hyperthyroid/Grave's Disease diagnosis, and I wasn't supposed to get my heart rate up. The weather was perfect on this trip. I think we saw at LEAST 10 or twelve new Arches, we rode our bikes into Arches National Park, and went to Dead Horse Point State Park.

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know that as I age, I like to try new things. I know a lot of people who get so depressed and bored, and can't seem to get excited about anything as they get older, and I prefer to remain a spaz, and find new things to get excited about as I age. So, here are some of the things I did for the first time in 2022:

1.) I went on a ghost, vampire and voodoo tour in New Orleans on Friday the 13th. I passed out right in front of LaLaurie Mansion at the end of the tour. The Oldest's boyfriend was sure I was somehow possessed with some kind of evil spirits from the house. I think it might have just been a migraine. It was so very dramatic, and I was pretty embarrassed, but it sure makes for a good story. Maybe the evil spirits that supposedly inhabited me left behind the Grave's Disease while they were in there as some kind of parting gift?

2.) I got to ride my bike to dinosaur tracks in Moab for the first time. It was all very Jurassic Park, without all the blood and gore.

3.) I did a low level white water rafting trip. Because I had no idea what anything meant when I booked it, the trip was way more mellow than I imagined it would be. It was supposed to rain that day, so everyone else canceled, and it was just John and myself and the guide, and we had a great talk, and got to float past Kevin Costner's latest movie set. Again with the Kevin Costner...

4.) As I mentioned before, I got a lifelong disease for the first time. I'm hoping my breast cancer doesn't come back, so I'm not counting that as a lifelong disease. This was not a fun thing to get me excited about aging, but it is a thing that will affect my aging, so I'm listing it anyway. At the end of July I noticed that any bike ride I did, I was twice as hot, and would get super tired and dizzy when I went up a hill or exerted myself even the tiniest bit, I also lost ten pounds in about 2 weeks, and I had really bad dry eye (which I've had on and off for years, but hadn't had in a while). My doctor is amazing and astute and decided to do a TSH and Free T4 test. My TSH was .001 which is almost non-existent. I then had to do an antibody test, and ate irradiated iodine and did a scan to see if I had any hot nodes (it sounds way sexier than it is). I tested positive for Graves disease, and negative for any kind of cancer. I started taking meds in September, and it takes about 4 to 6 weeks to really make a difference. There are also some really stupid side effects, like weight gain, which is annoying, and for me, they gave me a dull migraine almost every day for a couple of months, and if I even had ONE beer, that migraine would turn blinding, and I couldn't function. So, I started getting into checking out non-alcoholic beers, and making fun mocktails. The headaches seem to be calming down now, thank jeebus, but I'm still just limiting my drinking. I'll still have a beer or a margarita here and there, but it's been more like once a week or two, instead a few times a week. Who said there was anything wrong with moderation?

I didn't get to run or ride as much as I usually do in 2022, but we did manage to go on some fun rides with friends, and eat and drink somewhere during those rides. I feel very lucky to have the friends we do, and I never take that for granted.

Another thing I try never to take for granted, is the fact that my husband is so damn supportive of all my hair brained schemes. I'm sure half the time he feels like he's married to Lucille Ball. When I told him I wanted to turn our entire front yard into a garden a few years ago, he said, "How can I help?'. When I told him I wanted to paint our front door a ridiculously bright blue, he said, "That sounds great." This year, even before we stayed in the Bywater in New Orleans and saw all the amazing art work on every house, I asked John if he was okay with me painting anabstract pollinator mural on the alley side of our garage. Had I painted a mural before? Of course not. Did I have any idea what I was doing? Hell no! But John said, "I trust you, and I can't wait to see it." 

I didn't get it finished before it got too cold to paint outside. I still have to shade the brown-eyed Susans, and put some more grass and stuff on the bottom and draw and paint the bees and the butterflies, but I got a good start to it. I hope to finish it next year. Wish me luck!

As I've mentioned before, we live in a cottage that was built in 1950. We don't have tons of money or time, so we fix it up in fits and starts. Last year with tons of help from my brother, we renovated our one, small, bathroom. In 2022, we worked on the living room. We always say that best thing you can do to make your house look better, is to get rid of half the shit in it and clean the hell out of it. Which is what we did in our living room. We also saved up for 12 years to buy a new period to the house appropriate couch, love seat, swivel chair, ottoman, coffee table, and side table. The cats got a new condo too, and we found that entertainment center at the Habitat for Humanity store for $38 dollars that I will finish restoring when it gets warm enough to take outside, sand it down and refinish it. We still need to refinish the hardwood floors, but that is a project for another time.

 So, yeah. 2022 was another challenging year. The climate is still changing for the worse, the Pandemic hasn't gone away yet, and there are still way too many people willing to hurt other people for money. I'm always curious to see what a new year brings, and if it's bad, I just plan on gardening while the world burns. I just hope it's better...For everyone, and every species.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Take a Look, It's in a Book, A Reading Rainbow!

Well, Happy New Year to you all! I'm going to try and slip in a couple of end of 2022 posts here in the next day or two. The first one being the books I read in 2022. It's not the best books written in 2022, but the best books I read during the year. Soooo, here we go!

I read 39 books in 2022. Some I absolutely loved, and some were just okay. 

I read plenty of non-fiction this year. The best five non-fiction books look like this:

5.) "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty", by Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper takes a look at his family history, and how they came to gain and lose their fortune. It was well written, very interesting, and he didn't sugar coat anything as far as how money corrupts, and generally, you don't make that much money unless you are corrupt.

4.) "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI", by David Grann. This book will break your heart in a million ways. It's also about how money will corrupt, and this time it was a whole community of white people preying on Native Americans (again). It also is one of the few things I've read or watched about J. Edgar Hoover that didn't make him seem entirely terrible. So, there's that...

3.) "Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance", by Barack Obama. As I've said before, he most certainly didn't write this book thinking he was going to run for president. It was a very open look at his life growing up in two different worlds, and trying to make a difference in a world full of challenges and contradictions.

2.) "Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner. It's a memoir about a woman who is mourning the loss of her mother. It's so beautiful and sad, and self-reflective of her confusing and tumultuous relationship with her Korean mother. It is also about growing up in two different worlds with a white father, and a Korean mother, and trying to figure out how to live in both cultures, with food as the language of her mother's love for her.

1.) In my opinion, the best non-fiction book I read this year was "Just Kids", by Patti Smith. Many people have recommended this book to me, and I bought it a few years ago, but my reading list is long, and I am moody when it comes to books...and really everything in my life. Anyway, this book is a poem, it's a feeling, it's a love song to Patti Smith's youth and her relationship to Robert Mapplethorpe. The writing is brilliant, and their story, and Patti Smith's story of that time is pretty incredible. It took me a while to start another book after this, because of the lingering hang over from "Just Kids".

I read two children's novels in 2022. They were both amazing. One was a reread, and one was a book I have been meaning to read for a very long time:

2.) The second best children's book I read in 2022 was "Bridge to Terabithia", by Katherine Paterson. I cried and cried at the end of this book. It's about two children who don't really conform to their gender norms, and who build a beautiful friendship where they are both comfortable being themselves. I wish it had been written when I was a kid.

1.) The best children's book that I read in 2022 WAS around when I was a kid and I loved, loved it. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler, by E.L. Konigsburg is a wonderfully bizarre story about a brother and sister who run away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the mystery that they try to solve. It is a sweet, and quirky, and fun adventure.

I only read one Young Adult book this year, and if you have to only read one Young Adult book in a year, this was the one to read.

My top one through five Young adult books that I read in 2022 was "The Hate U Give", by Angie Thomas. I actually read it in less than 24 hours, THAT'S how engrossed I was. It takes place in Mississippi, and it looks at racial injustice from every angle. It is funny, and heartbreaking, and loving, and I wish I could read it again for the first time.

I read a few detective/mystery books this year, all by women authors. What can I say? I love a plucky female detective story.

5.) The fifth best detective novel I read was "More Than You'll Ever Know", by Katie Gutierrez. It's not going to win the Pulitzer Prize anytime soon, but it was a fun read, and I'm never too fancy for Summer fun books.

4.) The fourth best detective/mystery book was part of the Maisie Dobbs series of books I've been reading lately. "Birds of a Feather", by Jacqueline Winspear takes place after WWI. A group of women friends are being killed, and thank GAWD Maisie Dobbs is there to figure it all out. I like about 20 cups of escapism fed to me with my detective novels, and the Maisie Dobbs series delivers on that so far.

3.) My third favorite detective novel that I read in 2022 is "The Likeness", by Tana French. Yes, you have to spend some time suspending your disbelief while reading this one, but if you can do that, the story is kind of fun...Or my idea of fun, which involves murder and mayhem in a novel.

2.) The second best detective novel I read this year was "Maisie Dobbs", by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the origin story of Maisie Dobbs and it takes place before, during, and just after WWI. 

1.) The best mystery/detective novel I read in 2022 was another Tana French novel, called "The Faithful Place." It takes place in Dublin. A detective has to go back to where he grew up and face his demons when a suitcase shows up. It is full of dysfunctional families and alcoholism, and working through (or not) your issues. What's not to love?

I reread two books that weren't children's novels this year. I can't say which one was better than the other, because I loved them both, and that's why I reread them both thirty some years after I read them the first time.

1.) The best reread that I reread was "Song of Solomon", by Toni Morrison. Jaysus! What to say about this novel. It is tragic, and difficult, and lush, and so, so well written. It is the story of Milkman Dead trying and failing to fly.

2.) The OTHER best reread of 2022 is Octavia Butler's "Kindred". I originally read this book in the late 80's, and loved it so much that it accompanied me through however many moves into my current house. It takes place in 1976. A young Black woman starts getting transported back in time during slavery to save her White ancestor, while also trying to teach him to be a better person, and trying not to get killed in the process. If you haven't read it yet...Or even if you have, I HIGHLY recommend it.

The Only horror novel I read this year would probably still be my favorite, even if I had read hundreds of scary books. "The Only Good Indians", by Stephen Graham Jones is about a group of Native American friends who are being hunted down by something bad they did in the past. It is suspenseful, and gory, and there is a lesson to be learned. It had everything.

 Okay, now we are down to the best five current novels (that aren't detective/Scifi/horror/or rereads) I read in 2022.

It's a little tough ranking them, because most of them are even stevens as far as what I liked, but I'm going to try and rank them anyway.

5.) "Detransition, Baby", by Torry Peters tells the story of a trans woman dealing with relationships, and her issues, and society's issues with her. It's sad, but also self-aware and saucy and fun. It's also written by someone from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, so that's an extra added bonus.I haven't read a novel written by a trans person before, so I was glad to read that perspective in literature. I hope to read many more.

4.) My fourth favorite current novel I read in 2022 was "Hell of  a Book", by Jason Mott. It was about an African American author running from his past, and his experiences, and the experiences of so many others. It is funny, and weird, and engaging. It was a very different read than most novels, and I like that about it. I wasn't sure where we were going until close to the end.

3.) My third favorite current novel of 2022 was "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse", by Louis Erdrich. This was written in 2001, so it was strange that I hadn't read it before, but when I thought about it, that was a weird and busy time in my life when I had two young kids and no time to read novels. ANYWAY, this book is amazing. About a woman who transitions into a priest named Father Damien, on a reservation for over 50 years.

2.) My second favorite novel of 2022 is "Great Circle", by Maggie Shipstead. I had read great reviews of this book, but I was hesitant because I tried to read another novel she wrote called, "Seating Arrangements". I got through about 50 pages of that, and had to put it down. It was all about horrible rich people at a wedding on the East Coast, and I was bored by the other thousands of books about the exact same thing, and that book didn't seem to add anything new to that topic. So, if that was the case or you too, don't worry. This book was a MILLION times better than that one. It was long, but the story was interesting enough and full of adventures, and a few twists that I wasn't bored at all. AND I have horrible ADHD. So,  if I could read a book that long, most people won't bat an eye.

1.) The best current fiction book I read in 2022 was "The Vanishing Half", by Brit Bennett. It's about two sisters who grew up in Louisiana. One leaves home and passes for white. The other marries a very dark skinned African American man. Their daughters meet as adults, not knowing they are related. It's a very well written, compelling story.

Looking back at the books I did read, I'm always aware of the types of books I didn't read. Except for "Kindred", I didn't read any science fiction/fantasy books, I didn't read any classic novels either, or comic books/graphic novels. All things to rectify next year. As always, happy reading everyone out there for 2023?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, Let's Hope It's a Good One, Without Any Fear

Oh, kids. We're so close to the end of 2023. It's been a hard year in many ways and a great year in others. I definitely learned one hell of a lot, though. As always, I'm going to try and write more in the future. It's been tough lately adjusting to my hyperthyroid meds. They make me crazy tired and stooopid a lot. All I want to do is watch the dumbest TV, and I've had a low grade migraine pretty much every day until a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping it means that my body is starting to adjust to them better. Everything I've read says it takes a few months to adjust and then some of the worst side effects should ease up. Sadly, I think the weight gain part of it might be here to stay, but it's not like I'll be losing all of my super model contracts because of it, it just makes running more of a challenge. There are worse things...

Oh yeah, I was going to write about my holiday. First I want to say that I do love a lot of parts of Christmas traditions. As a single mom, it used to be a lot harder when my kids were young, but now I just do the parts I like, and say screw it to anything that doesn't interest me ,or takes too much work. Mostly, I love to hang all of the photos and Christmas cards on our refrigerator, I love having Christmas lights all over, and a real tree. I LOVE the smell. John does tend to roll his eyes a little about my holiday preparations, but I just like to think that eye rolling and scowling are John's love languages, and I keep on doing what I want to do.

This year the holiday started with a bang. The weather went and got all blustery and snowy and ridiculously cold. We weren't going anywhere, so it wasn't the biggest deal to us, but our car battery died on Christmas Eve, which was kind of annoying. Luckily, we have a good friend and teammate who was nice enough to come over and help out. We have a Honda Fit, which they don't make anymore, and their batteries are pretty small. We found a few auto parts stores that were open on Christmas Eve. One didn't have a battery, one said he was the only person there and it might take all day for him to get to our car, and one said they had the battery, but that it was too cold for them to install it. John and his friend drove out there, got the battery, and after watching a Youtube video, John was able to install the battery himself in the below zero temperatures. My hero!

One of my new favorite Christmas day traditions is taking a bath and drinking some hot tea. I make the water as hot as I can stand and I add too much stinky bubble bath, and I soak. It is my own special gift to myself, and I guarantee you I will never get tired of it.

The kids and their partners came over at about 11 and we opened gifts. A few years ago, we thought we might do away with the gift giving, and just give the kids what my brother likes to call, "the gift that keeps on giving", cash. But both the girls said they like to actually exchange gifts, and I'm fine with that. So, we each buy a few simple gifts. I always say if it ever devolves into us just exchanging gift cards we'll end the practice, but for now it is kind of nice. I always think I'm easy to buy for because I will take fun tea accoutrements, and books, and I like an actual, physical calendar that I can write on, preferably filled with pictures of adorable baby animals. I just can't shake my 1970's junior high girls sensibilities. Nor do I want to.

Besides my morning tub soak, my favorite Christmas tradition is going out for sushi for lunch. The history behind this comes from when the girls were younger. Their dad's birthday is on Christmas day, and so it used to be that I would have the girls on Christmas Eve, and their dad would pick them up on Christmas morning after they opened  their gifts. One year their dad decided that he wanted to go to a party instead, and didn't want to take the girls on Christmas day after all. Of course, I didn't have much food in my house because I didn't think I had to worry about feeding the girls, and so I drove around trying to find a place that was open where we could eat dinner that wasn't Walgreens, when we came across a Chinese restaurant. For years after that, we always got Chinese take-out for Christmas dinner...Until we realized our favorite sushi place was also open on Christmas, and we quickly switched. Now we are pretty much the first people in the restaurant when they open on Christmas. Which I'm sure is annoying to them, until they realize how much we tip. I have worked on Christmas day before, and it sucks, so I am all about compensating people for it.

After lunch, the kids went to spend time with their dad. I started getting a bit of a migraine, so I did some hard resting before I started making dinner. The last few years, the kids have asked that I make pasta for Christmas dinner. In particular, cheese tortellini covered in a creamy pesto sauce, and then I saute' veggies in oil and tamari and ground pepper, and I saute' chicken in garlic butter and white wine sauce, I cook linguine and finally, I make their favorite, Alfredo sauce from scratch. It's all pretty easy to make, and John works as my prep cook and cleans up after me. 

A lot of years we'll play Cards Against Humanity after dinner, but this year it was snowing, and the kids wanted to get home before the drive became too treacherous, so they finished watching the first Harry Potter movie and headed home.

Archie wasn't too upset about it. After all of the dogs and people, and since he didn't get to have any of the chicken I made, he just wanted a little alone time in his safe space. Poor guy.

Because Christmas was on a Sunday, John got Monday off at his job, and I get Monday and today off at mine. 

I have really been slacking off of working out. After my doctor told me I could run again in November, I tried hard to start back up slowly. I just did a slow two miles every other day. I thought that would be good. I even graduated up to a 3.5 mile route...And then the shin splints hit. I used to get them every year at the beginning of track season. Back then my coaches just told me to keep running, and they'd go away eventually. I guess, now doctors know that they could develop into a stress fracture, so I stopped running the last couple of weeks. Of course, I didn't do anything else either, except eat too much. So, when I saw it was going to get all the way up to 14 degrees outside. I asked John if he'd go to Hickory Hill and do a snow hike with me.

Lucky for me, he was all for it. So, we walked a little over 3 miles in the woods and talked, and I made a snow angel, because I'm always 10 years old.

 It was just what I needed, and a perfect end to our long holiday weekend.

I hope you all had a lovely long weekend, and were able to spend it exactly how you wanted, and I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Home is Whenever I'm With You

The photos of our house on the realty site.

Well, kids. It's the lucky number 13th anniversary of me closing on our house. I honestly never thought I would be able to afford a house, but because of President Obama's $8,000 for a first time home buyer deal, an FHA loan, and my brother fronting me the $8,000 that I paid back once the government sent me the check, it actually happened, Soooo, thanks Obama!...No, really. Thank you so much.

Of course, I could barely afford to pay my mortgage, my insurance, my taxes, and my mortgage insurance (basically a poor tax) when I was single and both my girls were in high school. On top of my full-time job, I mowed lawns, and donated plasma, and squeaked by every month.

Our house now.

About a year and a half later, John bought into the mortgage, and helped put down more money, so we could refinance and stop having to pay the stupid mortgage insurance.

We also spent about $10,000 to get our crawl space encapsulated, so we don't have any moisture down there, and we haven't seen any termites since then either.  Whew! That was basically the reason our house was on the market for two years before I bought it.

The photo of our kitchen on the realty site.

Our house was built in 1950, and in addition to the crawl space work, everything else needed love too. Even with both mine and John's contributions, we haven't been able to take care of everything at once. We've already done two different remodels on the kitchen. The first was new countertops, painting the walls and the cupboards, and removing the upper cupboard doors.

Our remodeled kitchen.

The second remodel was a couple of years ago. We (meaning John and our friend, Seaghan) had to rip up part of our kitchen floor to replace some joists that were damaged when we had all of that moisture in our crawlspace, or when something leaked, or both.

We also repainted the walls, scraped off the popcorn ceiling and painted it, replaced the ceiling fans, replaced the floor tile, replaced all of the appliances, and my brother put in a hood vent for us. It's almost a whole new kitchen, and we'll probably have to do a few other things to it eventually.

Like I always say, I'm glad everyone is different and has their own tastes, or the world would be a very boring place.I love our older house, and I like to have decor according to that period, but also a little more updated. I like chrome, and checkered floors, and our gigantic porcelain sink in the kitchen. At some point, we'll do a backsplash, but that will take some more money savings and time. For now, I love our kitchen. It's huge and funky, and colorful...And you KNOW how much I love color...

Last year in December, my brother gave us the wonderful gift of staying with us for 10 days and fixing up our bathroom. It had been really disgusting before that. He changed out the sink, retiled the floor, and took out the surround and replaced it with white subway tile in the shower, put in a new faucet in the tub and sink, and painted our wainscoting. John installed new lights, and sealed everything, and I scraped, sanded and painted our window and the ceiling and the walls. It's still very small, but it looks like a dream to me. Thanks, Uncle Bill! We stuck with the black and white tile for the floor and used a green and rust color scheme for the paint and towels and bathmats.

Our living room when we first moved in. I painted it a camel color because it's such a dark room and I wanted it to feel warmer

Back when I bought our house, we had very little money for furniture. Our old apartment just had a futon couch and a Papasan chair. What some people would call dorm furniture, but I would call poor people furniture. I wanted something better than that, and there used to be a Kalona Furniture Store place on the Coralville strip. I was able to buy a couch, a loveseat, and a big chair for a little over $300. One of my co-worker's gave me her old 1970's style coffee and side table, and I bought a rug from Target.

For $300, those couches and chair sure held up well, but they were definitely not my style, they were too big for the space, and after 13 years, they were really starting to show their age (something I totally understand). So, last year I looked at a sectional from Ashley furniture. They were having a big sale, and I almost pulled the trigger, but I'm glad I didn't. I went home and read reviews and they all said that after a few months the fabric pilled and looked gross and it was cheaply made. 

We kept saving, and about a month ago, I started looking online and pricing furniture, and reading reviews, and I settled on Albany Park for our couches, and Burrow for our coffee and side table. I would have bought the couches from Burrow too, but they were a lot more expensive, and the reviews said they were more narrow and not very comfortable. They also didn't have an olive green color, which I think looks great in our mid-century house. We still have an ottoman, and a swivel chair coming from Albany Park, but it's taking WAAAYYYY longer for them to deliver those.

Our new TV console, and yes, we do still have DVD's and CD's. We're old like that.

 The last thing we wanted for our living room was a TV console. We wanted a walnut color to match our living room tables, we didn't want it to be too bulky, and ideally, we would love for it to have covered storage. Looking for a TV console under $1000 sucks! We wanted real wood. I bought our last TV stand at Best Buy when I first bought the house and it was made of particle board, and looked like crap, but it was all I could afford. John and I both looked online and read reviews, but anything we could afford was not going to be made of real wood, or if it was, it was going to be all cheap and janky looking.

Last weekend, John and I decided to go shopping in real stores, so we could see what things looked like up close and personal. We both HATE to shop, and when I told The Youngest our plan for last Saturday, she asked, "Who ARE you?'

We drove all the way to a furniture store in Williamsburg. It wasn't really our style, and it was all so BIG. So, we went to Ashley in the mall (lord help me) and that was the same. The sh*t there was all pretty heinous, and too expensive for "manufactured" wood. So, we went to the rich people store called Dwell. They had a few things we liked, but I wasn't trying to spend my life's savings to buy it.

Then we headed to Amish country, where there are about a bazillion antique stores. That was all way more our style. There was a lot of really cool stuff, and it was all pretty affordable. I did find a cute little cupboard that would have worked had it been twice as big, or there had been two of them and I could have smooshed them together.

We tried one last stop on our way home, and went to Restore. It's the Habitat for Humanity store and they have all kinds of furniture and old doors and windows. Most of it is donated.We got our super swank front door there for $25 a few years ago.

There are two parts to the Restore venue. One is mostly doors and sinks and old bathtubs, and we thought we'd check it out in case there were some old cupboards we could use. There was not. Then we went to the furniture store part, and the minute we walked in, we saw a guy moving a TV console in on a dolly. We rushed right over and checked it out. It was all wood, and not too bulky or wide, and it was a dark color, just not walnut. It didn't have much covered storage, and it needs to be sanded and refinished on the top, but we bought a runner for it for now, and I'll sand and refinish it when it warms up outside. The best part of all, was that it was $38. FOR. REAL.

I like that we didn't have to buy something new, and I love the price. Now, all we have to do is get our ottoman and swivel chair, and our living room will be set for now.

I'm hoping to paint our tiny hallway and work on our laundry room this Winter. I know people like to buy new houses, because they're less work and all, but they don't stay new forever, and our 1950's house really is built like a tank. 


So, happy 13th anniversary to our homeownership! We've had so many memories, both good and bad here. Of course, my favorite memory is when we got married in our upstairs dormer room with our daughters and their partners as witnesses. I hope to be able to live here until I die...Or until they carry me away to the old folks home, whichever comes first. I'm pretty sure we'll still be working on this place until that time as well, and I'm good with that.