Monday, March 27, 2017

Shopping - Not The Fun Kind

I was planning to have some finished napkin-project bags to show off here today, but that didn't happen. I spent all of Friday evening buying train tickets; I had to work at the yoga center Saturday morning, attend a fiber festival Saturday afternoon with knitting friends, and then Larry and I actually got our act together enough to GO OUT TO A MOVIE TOGETHER, just like all the other married couples do.

We walked to the movie, which was a nice idea, because it was so warm out that day and exercise and all that. Unfortunately, that meant we had to walk back, in the dark, after seeing a horror flick. Not very good planning, really.

So, yes, Larry and I managed to catch "Get Out" before it left the theaters. Now, I'm NOT a horror movie fan. But this was more old-style horror, psychological and suspense-driven, rather than people jumping out of closets wielding chainsaws or whatever it is they do in these scary films other folks watch. So I could handle it and even (gasp) ENJOY it.

What I couldn't handle, though, were all the R-rated previews that came before the movie. People, they were horrifying. All the characters were so nasty and mean and killings everywhere.

R-rated previews make me feel like this

Why, yes, I do watch "The Sound of Music" once a year. How could you tell?

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I didn't get my bags sewn up. Sunday was similarly stupidly busy, but really I don't have an excuse. And, hey, I had all morning to work on them today (I mean, after my amazingly athletic workout), but instead the handyman made me drive all over town looking for 1x5 boards. As noted here before, I do not belong in the lumber aisle of Home Depot. But, wanting this basement renovation to be done some day in the near future, I found myself once again pushing a weird-looking cart and trying to figure out how to bring home the correct items.  "NOT crooked," Andy had instructed me. "I can't make baseboards out of them if they are going every which way. And not too many knots."

Not crooked...not crooked...

I've mentioned I'm short, right? I had to climb up onto the shelf just to wrestle the 8-foot boards out from under the wires that held them in place. After that, I had to maneuver them over to the cart without bonking my own head (or that of an innocent passerby) in the process. Then, and only then, could I try to assess whether or not the boards met my handyman's criteria.

"Do you think these are straight enough for baseboards?" I asked a contractor-looking stranger in desperation.

"No, ma'am," he said. "Look how that one bows out. And that one, too."


Long story short (too late, I know), with the help of strangers, I managed to load 14 acceptable boards onto my (weird) cart, pay for them, and cram them into my Toyota Sienna. And if anyone managed to get a video of me attempting to slam the back gate down on my minivan before all those pieces of wood came sliding back out (NOT successful) ....well, let's just say odds are good you'll see me on YouTube soon.

Where, incidentally, I'll be wearing my new sneakers for my 15 minutes of fame, so there's that...

[Get Out image: Universal Pictures]

Friday, March 24, 2017

Undaunted Courage, Plus Yarn

I finally managed to buy our rail passes and make the reservations for every leg of the cross-country train trip Susie and I are planning to take. People, this was hard - I was trying to coordinate 7 train schedules with people I want to see and with available Airbnb places that looked clean and axe-murderer-less. I've had six thousand tabs open on my browser for a week, trying to figure it all out. Plus there was the hassle of not being able to make any of the train reservations online - when you buy one of the rail passes, you have to call the Amtrak reservation line, figure out the magic words to get past the automated reservation clerk, and then stay on hold for half an hour just to get to talk to someone who can make the reservations for you.

More complicated than it looks....
A daunting task for someone ultra-distractable like myself, but it is done! Well, except for the fact that all the Airbnb's in Seattle hiked their prices by hundreds of dollars over the Easter weekend, so we are still trying to figure that one out. It looks as though some of the hostels are family-friendly; maybe we'll try that.

Probably not Lewis and Clark's colors
I guess I should pack. But first, there's the dreaded Mulch Delivery Weekend, where I am still somehow obligated to help out with the food tent, despite my belief to the contrary. And there's our Metro Yarn Crawl, the same weekend as Mulch, which unfortunate confluence of events is engendering a very immature amount of resentment in me. AND I need to figure out what knitting to bring on the train trip. Socks, probably - socks all the way across the country and back. They're portable.

I bet Lewis and Clark brought socks to knit, also. AND complained about expensive Airbnbs. They probably left reviews like "That tepee was way overpriced, and no indoor plumbing...Will not portage my canoe here again."

Or, maybe not.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Bought Napkins, But Not Really

Remember my finger, the one I injured by reliving my youth? It's doing fine, hardly any bruising, no obvious swelling, so I'm pretty sure I didn't break it, just jammed the knuckle. Luckily, the injury hasn't affected my doing yoga, or typing, or knitting. But it does hurt when I am scrubbing sinks or bathtubs, putting a fitted sheet on the bed, washing dishes...

I mention this for the purpose of pointing out that I may have inadvertently discovered the PERFECT injury.

Also, because my life wasn't complicated and expensive enough with all these renovations, etc., going on, we had to purchase new toilet plungers recently. Apparently the high-efficiency toilets we've installed have a differently shaped hole than the 45-year-old American Standard ones that we are used to.

I'm not sure how much more change I can handle here, actually.

Larry picked out the new toilet plungers, because I'm not THAT much of a control freak and also he hadn't even been to Home Depot that day. He bought the ones with MaxPerformance Technology. I'm so proud.

You know, it seems to me that "high-efficiency" toilets shouldn't ever need a plunger, actually. I feel ripped off.

Let's talk about World Market for a minute, okay? There's one a few towns away from me, but I've never managed to actually visit it. At least every other month, one of my friends will share/show off some interesting or tasty or unusual thing, and I'll say, "Where did you get that?" And they'll say, "World Market." And I'll say, "Gee, I really need to go there some time." And then I never do.

But last Friday, at a knitting get-together, I noticed a drawstring project bag one of my knitting friends was carrying. Constructed out of an attractive cotton fabric, with just a ribbon threaded through a top casing for a closure, it was the perfect size to carry an incipient pair of socks, say, or the beginnings of a crescent shawl. "Oh, where did you get that?" I asked. "It's pretty!"

"This thing? I just made it out of a napkin that was on sale at World Market," she said, way too modestly.

(Let's note here that I have really creative friends, okay?)

So that's how I finally found myself inside a World Market today, asking some helpful sales clerk where the napkins were. He helped me find them.

I restrained myself and only bought six. Project bags for everyone, coming right up! Or that's the plan, anyway...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Gimme Three Steps...

I was jogging this morning (well, walking with a few short intervals of jogging thrown in, if you need precision there) and thanking the powers that be that I spotted my neighbor's new sneakers the other day. You see, a few months ago, I bought a pair of sneakers at Costco, because I thought MAYBE I would try using them to, oh I don't know, EXERCISE in. Then I put them in my closet and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Because, hey - I do yoga. In bare feet. I do my core exercises. In bare feet. I've hiked mountains at Acadia in my Teva sandals (drives Larry crazy, but hey, it worked). I don't need sneakers to exercise.

And then I went into the city with my son the other day. We saw the Metro train pulling in to the station and decided to run for it. So there I was, feeling every one of my 53 years as I panted toward the escalator at a run (read, slow jog), while my 16-year-old son loped easily along beside me, not breaking a sweat.

It was demoralizing, to say the least.

So I decided that I would work up to running a mile. That's all. No desire here to do marathons (so much wasted knitting time!). I just wanted the ability to run for a train without causing passersby to wonder if they should call 911. Is that too much to ask?

Most mornings this month, after I get up IN THE DARK (I hate you, Daylight Saving Time) to let in the handyman (whose cat gets him up at 4 AM), I've smooshed myself into my power pants and my Wacoal sport bra, laced up my Costco sneakers, and headed out to jog (a little), walk (a lot), and generally just get my heart rate up for a couple of minutes at a time.

It's been hard, I won't lie. I hate it. But I do feel better afterwards, and I am already able to jog a teeny bit further. And no one has called the EMTs on me yet, so that's a plus.

OMG, I'm long-winded today. All this to explain why, when I saw my friend's running sneakers, I realized that I needed their obviously superior support. I mean, I LOVE Costco, but the sneakers I had were not doing it. So I splurged and spent $80 (and that was on SALE) for these special Brooks running sneakers at Amazon. I hated to do it. I had to keep reminding myself that $80 was less than the (at least) 3 doctor appointment co-pays that would be in my future, should I ruin my knees and feet in cheap shoes.

Do you see the mental machinations I have to go through every time I spend money? We HAVE the money now, but years of needed frugality and penny-pinching die hard.

I can't stop talking today. Oh, well...

So, yeah, these sneakers were worth every penny. I can run further. My knees don't hurt. The support is great. Which got me to thinking that it would be a useful PSA to tell women under 45 or 50 that they need to save extra money for when they are older. I mean, maybe you think, "Yeah, I know - retirement, medical bills, trips to see the grandkids..."

Note drywall dust caked onto the floor, upper right 
But that's not what the money is for. The money is for shoes, so you can walk. Seriously. We're talking support. We're talking wide toe boxes. We're talking expensive. I have spent more money on shoes since I turned 47 or so than I had spent in my entire life up to that point. I have to assume I'll be spending $80 to $100 a pair (unless I chance on some FitFlops in my size at Nordstrom Rack, priced at $45 - helloooo, bargain!)

This is a lifestyle change that has been hard for my frugal soul to accept. But without my FitFlops and my Dansko/Sanita clogs and (now) my spiffy Brooks sneakers, I can't get around. My legs get tired, my knees hurt, my right foot goes numb.

Good Lord, I am not even 60 yet. Listen to me, I sound 85. Or, at least, without my price-y shoes, I sound 85. So don't think of them as shoes - think of them as a budget version of the Fountain of Youth. Looking at it that way, the expensive footwear is a downright bargain.

Or that's what I tell myself, anyway...

And today's title is courtesy of this earworm emanating from our handyman's radio at 7:30 this morning:

Friday, March 17, 2017

When East Meets West

My finger still hurts. It's not broken if I can bend it normally, right? Because, really, why go to the doctor when I can just ask a bunch of perfect strangers for medical advice?

I hate going to the doctor. I am convinced I'll pick up some deadly disease (or at least a highly inconvenient one) while I am there.

Also, that picture in the previous post was of an ice pack covering my afflicted appendage. I only mention this because a friend messaged me and asked what it was. She said, and I quote, that it looked like it "...was encased in some sort of metal bullet-type case and you were ready to stab people with it."

This sort of comment makes me wonder what my friends really think of me.

Rarely seen snowman skeleton
In other news, our two days of winter are over. The snow is melting, which is a good thing, because then I can't foolishly injure myself by reliving my youth. So now I have to start thinking about that train trip and planning exact dates and all. There will be a couple of AirBnB stays involved, because Amtrak is not obliging me by having the trains arrive in major cities early in the morning and then leaving again at night. That was the original plan, see - arrive in a city, look around, hop back onto the train and ride overnight, thus saving money on lodgings.

That's not going to happen. East Coaster that I am, I had no idea that there could be major cities where the train stops only once or twice a day. This blows my mind. I mean, have you seen the Amtrak schedule for trains running between DC and New York? There are at least a dozen each day.

I don't understand how the West Coast works, actually. Do you all drive everywhere? Fly? Or maybe you're all so healthy, you just bike? I feel as though I am an anthropologist, heading off to do field work. How do the natives live?


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