Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let me Tell you about my dogs

Its been one of those days.  One of those days when worries have piled up in the back of my mind and been my companion for a few weeks now.  They never quite go away, but I have pushed them to the back somewhere so at least now I can function and do what needs doing.

Another blizzard for us here, the third in 6 weeks time, and I don't just qualify these as snow storms as we have had those.  These were bona fide Nor'easters, with bone chilling winds right out of the Northeast, rolling over the Saginaw Bay and right at us.  It started out as slushy snow yesterday and piled up quickly.  Somewhere over night it turned to freezing rain which landed on the trees, and by mid morning the branches hung low and threatened us with breaking and power outtages.  Snow showers all day and it was hard to concentrate.  A trip out to the satellite dish to dump hot water on ice covered receivers, so at least my televisions worked.  I painted in the bathroom because it kept me busy and I have a deadline.  As I painted I became disheartened that I would not finish all I undertook before the baby shower on Sunday.  Its a feeling I've had many times lately, as if I'm spinning my wheels and no one really cares.  But I painted on and breathed a sigh when that first coat was on.  I turned my eyes to my dog hair infested living room.  I vacuumed and the carpet again was without its black coating of fur.  Then I decided to do a long overdue load of towels.  Upstairs and I noticed a pair of shoes I had worn the other day looked like someone had dropped water on the toe.  Upon closer inspection I found my Gauge had urinated on the toe of my shoe and all around the chair they sat next to.  As I went to grab a towel to soak it up before I got the mini steam cleaner I now use regularly, I noticed more "spots" around the base of the gun cabinet.  A huge sigh of enormous self pity, as I went to grab the hand held cleaner and start cleaning the mess as best I could and wondering what in the world I was going to do about a dog who seemed to have a sudden penchant for marking all kinds of spots.  And feeling even worse as I was at a loss to figure out how to stop it.    After unloading the cleaners container of cleaning fluid and sunctioning it up I found more spots next to the bed.  They were dried so I had no idea when he had gone on his little pee spree.  I realized how little time I had spent in the bedroom, besides sleeping as it was all I could do not to eat and sleep in the bathroom remodel.  Right about then it was all I could do not to sit in the middle of the floor and bawl like an abandoned child. 

I had put the dogs outside in the back yard while I cleaned up the mess.  When I went to call them in, only Gauge was in the back yard.  Tell tale tracks showed a hole dug under the fence and no Tally.  Calling brought no dog and no dog in sight to my south.  I thanked the thankless weather that at least kept any vehicles from being on the road, but knew I had to get boots and outdoor gear on quickly and find her as she was likely to be anywhere.  I took Gauge with me on a lead hoping she would see him and come running.  I didn't have to go far....At the end of the driveway I looked down the road and she was about a quarter mile down in the middle of the road.  For once she came running when she saw me and Gauge standing there.  I got her and Gauge in the house and then set down on the bench and cried for the crummy day and life I was having.  I sobbed as I hadn't for awhile and just wanted someone to talk to and bawl on their shoulder.  But Annie would panic if I called her and sounded like that.  One friend is going through a cancer crisis of her own and another just buried her mother.  In the midst of a good wail, I suddenly realized how silly it seemed.  No, I wasn't going down the rabbit hole of depression and after the wail and through the tears I actually smiled.  There are far worse things in this world and all I was having was a bad day. 

I'm still not sure what to do about Gauge and his urinating habits all of a sudden or how to keep my escape artist, Tally in the yard but both are lying next to me on the sofa, sleeping so the good Lord willing I will survive another Michigan storm and live to cry again and hopefully, another good laugh.....

Lessons Learned

Another snowstorm howls outside my window.  My house is fairly shaking in the strong winds.  However, the predicted 7 inches plus of snow seems to have not quite materialized, and even though it is dark, and schools are closed, I can't see mounds of drifting snow that with this wind, I know are out there.  I have been up since 5, concerned about the weather is doing and listening to the local news, it is a mixed bag.  Rain, ice, snow and blowing, depending on where you are in this state, as my life seems to be right now a mixed bag.

I have a bathroom still torn up, but on the finish line to being finished, at least I hope so.  Two steps forward, as little things erupt just when you think you can make a major swing at getting the steps done to finish this.  Then a step or two back as was the case last night when I peeled some painter's tape only to have it take off the primer coat I had put down and the drywall spackle I had filled in with underneath.  So, re-spackle and let dry, sand and hope its done before I want to paint the walls this afternoon.  Two steps forward and a step back. 

I have a dentist appointment today for an abscessed tooth, I found 10 days ago.  No pain with it when I found it, but the telltale bump was there on a tooth that has had a root canal for over 10 years now.  I called the dentist immediately knowing full well he isn't in on Fridays and finding out from the hygenist that he would be out for the following week also, on vacation.  She prescribed an antibiotic to get me through to today, and I dutifully filled the prescription and took the penicillin until it ran out, yesterday.  While the abscess never did give me pain the lump was still there and after doing some reading, I am not very optimistic that more medication will rid me of it.  The timing of this latest storm has not improved my mood.  Right now I think I can make it out to the dentist's office, but daylight will have to let me know more.

Two steps forward and one back.  Of late it has seemed three or four steps back and only one forward.  Winter has seemed longer than most years.  Is it my age, or the fact that we have had winter this year basically from December through now, officially spring, but hardly springlike here.  Its not unusual Michigan weather as late March storms often bring snow and more of the stuff we have just seemed to get rid of.  We have a day of utter joy with sunshine, moderate temps and we rejoice, hoping that spring has finally had its way with winter, but we know better.  We see a robin and know hope and find the Canada geese have returned to the pond in the back.  We have tulips sprouting gently in the softened ground, just peeking their purple-green leaves above the ground, but we still know better.

We are faced to look at things we didn't think we would face, and while we knew better, we chose not to stare back, as that was not our perception of what our lives would be.  We let depression take us over as ice and snow envelope us just like our moods.  We know spring is coming, the calendar shows it and with it hope and a renewal, but right now its just not here and we endure longer. 

I have been embracing Lent this year, as too often we pass over this season because it is uncomfortable for us in waiting for the joyous time of Easter.  This year I have looked more deeply at the unfathomable suffering of Jesus that Lent is to prepare us for, and I cannot begin to understand the agony of what he suffered for us.  But at times when my personal problems seem to overwhelm me, it is a door to open that many suffer much, much more and in times of eternal winter we become insulated in our misery. 

It is hard to crawl out of those holes.  To think what your life had always been and was inevitably headed for, won't be quite that, and may be something unrecognizable.  Its hard to see the joy of those perfect moments, because they are so fleeting and depression is so omnipresent, but it is what must be done.  We are asked to live no different.

Two steps forward and maybe more back.  I believed I had a certain place in the world, and in that place I could control what happened.  I knew better, but until something snowballs and threatens to overwhelm us do we realize we ultimately have no control but do have the capacity to view our situations in ways that can add depth and meaning to our lives or succumb to the paralyzing fear that our lives will never be what we once thought they would be.

Two steps forward and maybe none back today.  Maybe I can drive carefully and make it to the dentist and maybe there will be something that gives me back optimism after this latest snowstorm has knocked me down.  I now know I can never judge even in my heart, others, and feel even unconsciously superior.  I have learned some kind of empathy and that right now I just must endure until winter's true end here.  That's what I have learned for today, and that is the "lesson learned"....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wallpapering and other tricks I have mastered

I went on a home improvement binge this last month.  Things I had put off needed to be done.  One was the dining room wallpaper.  While still in good shape, it didn't really match the newly painted kitchen.  Pulling it off would be easy, it was scraping off what was underneath, scrubbing, re scrubbing and then sanding was what would be hard, and not a job I looked forward to in any way, shape or form.  For some reason, known only to me anymore, and that danged if I can remember why, when we did the almost complete remodel of the house over 20 years ago now, I wallpapered nearly every new room.  I have since then slowly been removing that wallpaper every time a room is in serious need of a redo, or at least a refreshing.  And every time I have pulled down wallpaper, I have cursed and then sworn, NEVER AGAIN....
Just like painting, wallpapering is all in the prep work, and if you don't get the wallpaper gook or residue off, your paint job will have spots of what I like to call cottage cheese, so do it right, and that's what takes days on end of washing, sanding, spackling, and re sanding and having drywall spackle dust up your nose, in your hair and a fine coat of it on whatever is within a hundred miles, I swear, even if you have tried to close off the room. 
Therefore when I pulled this most reacent wallpaper down, I decided to re wallpaper this particular room.  There were a couple of reasons and the main one is that this room is open on two ends to two other rooms both of which were painted different colors and a third room could be seen from it and it was a different color.  I am physically incapable of painting rooms the same color.  Once I have done them, they are done.  I thought a wallpaper while more expensive than a can of paint, would tie the rooms together using similar colors. 
In the old days when I was a wallpaper expert, you would go to a home decorating store and bring home four or five wallpaper books.   You spent a few days going through them and deciding on the one you wanted.  You measured your walls and measured generously, adding in windows and doors even though those would not be wallpapered.  Most papers had a repeat pattern of some kind so you had to allow for that to match each long piece you hung at the top of the wall.  There was a code on the back of each paper you picked and I copied it down.  The wallpaper books were returned to the decorating store and then I would call my favorite wholesale wallpaper distributor, which were advertized in every home magazine I subscribed to.  They offered 35 to 40% off what the stores were selling it for which was never peanuts.  I always ordered my wallpaper that way and always had at least a single roll of paper left.
Well welcome, to the 21 century and the knowledge that I had not wallpapered in 20 years, so of course I went to the home decorating store brought home several books and spent the night looking at papers.  Found one I liked but the paper companies and the home decorating stores have gotten trickier by leaving the paper codes off many of the papers.  I had gone online and of course, there were several discount wallpaper sites. I had to do some "going through the back door" to find the code for the paper I wanted, mainly going to the site of the main distributor of the my paper and getting the code from that.  I chose an online site that gave the best discount for the paper I wanted and free shipping.  It was listed as a secure site and had a consumer ratings check. 
Now for those of you who have never ordered wallpaper, let alone put it up, the price quoted is for a single roll of wallpaper, measured in how many square feet are on that roll.  But it is sold only in double rolls.  You might as well double the price right off the bat when figuring.  My measurements showed I needed just over 4 double rolls.  Another single roll would have been plenty, but another double roll is what I would have to buy.  I had chosen a stripe paper, which meant no waste in matching, and in the past I had always been over generous in my measurements so I decided to go with just the four double rolls.  While shipping was free, its the "handling" charges with so many online sites that gets you.  A $15 handling fee but I saved over 40% on the paper prices so I was pleased that the room wallpapering job would be under $150.
The printout for the order said that my paper would be delivered in 7 to 10 business days.  That was fine as I was prepping the walls, though that just meant I was sanding down some of the very high spots and spackling over nail holes and such.  Halfway through the second week and still no wallpaper put up a red flag.  Added to that my VISA account had been compromised.  I ordered the paper on a second bank card I seldom use, and I was alerted that an online purchase had been tried with my account number from another state.  The bank alerted me that they had denied the purchase until verification from me.  I had made no such purchse and the only place that I had used that card was in ordering the wallpaper.  My credit card was issued a new number and card and the bank was very oblinging about handling it quickly.  Note to myself, use my paypal account when ordering from sites like that again if ever. 
After the bank card snafu I contacted the customer helpline and found that my wallpaper had not been shipped.  It went out that day and I received it, tracking it via UPS, 3 days later.  Lesson learned...
Now began the fun stuff of wallpapering.  I figured to knock it off in one day.  I thought, surely, its like riding a bike and I will remember it immediately.  Kurt and I did a plumb line the night before and with that I was ready to start.  Well, the next morning kind of got away from me, as most mornings do, and it was afternoon before I embarked on filling the dip tray, getting towels and rags for wiping up, and assembling my needed supplies, scissors, an exacto knife, smoothing bush, seam sealer, and rulers. 
The idea is to find the length of one long wall, add an inch extra for walls that aren't straight, and none of them are, and cut several sheets all at once.  I had a cutting board set up in the living room and found that my quilt cutting matt and an old blade in my rotary cutter was very slick for measuring each piece quickly and cutting it with a sharp edge.
That done it was dip the first piece, rolled paper side in, to the dipping tray and pulling it out again using the rod as a guide.  Easy enough.  My first hung piece took me probably 10 minutes of sliding , pulling off in parts, smoothing, sliding again, which required more pulling back and then having to smooth out several large bubbles.  You want to get all of the bubbles out and good wallpaper won't retain bubbles if they are smoothed out.  That means that wallpaper paste oozes out the sides, but them's the breaks.  Once it is smoothed out to your satisfaction, the rotary seam sealer seals the seams edges and that is a must.  High five myself I had the first piece on.  The second piece took even longer because now I had to align it next to the piece already up.  You don't want overlap, but it must butt up right next to the first piece or when it dries you will have a noticeable gap, as wet paper stretches a bit and when it dries it shrinks. I became aware early on that my walls really weren't very "plumb" as the second pieces' cut off top and bottom went at an angle.  It also took longer as you have to make sure the seams get all the oozing paste off.  After 3 long sheets and a good hour, I congratulated myself that I was getting the hang of this once again. 
By the time Kurt got home that evening, I had one solid wall hung and was heading over to a portion of the only other long wall I had.  By the time 9:00 p.m. rolled around that evening , I was a pooped wallpaper hanger and had about a third of the room done, maybe a bit more.  The room looked awful that night as bubbles showed up and many of the seams didn't looked sealed.  I went to bed hoping it would look better in the morning and it did.
The next day I determined to get after it earlier.  And I did.  It was mid morning when I went back at it.  Now came cutting pieces to fit around and under windows and under the shelf that ran near the ceiling on two walls.  I worked at my pace which was nice, and managed to get much of it done before dinner that evening.
After dinner I finished up the rest of the walls under the shelving, but towards the end of the night a realization swept over me that I would not have enough paper to finish the area above the shelves even using every partial piece I had left and fitting it together.  I knew that the .2 in the 4.2 double rolls I had figured would come back and bite me.  There was no sense crying over it, I knew I had to order more paper.  So on a Friday morning I got back on online and ordered it.  Of course, I had to repay a handling charge and the papers price wasn't quite as reduced as it had been, but "them's" the decorating breaks.  This time I checked right away to be sure the paper was shipped, and it wasn't until the following Monday, but I had it in my possession on Wednesday.  In one respect it was nice, as I could cut from the new roll and not have to worry about "piecing" leftover hunks that weren't the width of the actual paper and it not matching exactly. It was above a shelf where collectibles normally set so if I was going to piece anywhere that would be it, but this made it go much faster and look much better finished.  I ended up with about a single roll left of paper, just what I had originally figured. 
I let the paper all dry overnight and the next day I washed off the seams and applied seam glue to wherever the paper had not sealed on the edges, which is a common thing with wallpaper so you might as well have seam glue on hand.  The day after that I started putting things back in the room.  I liked the wallpaper and liked the effect, and I also think I hope I don't have to pull this down for another 20 years...
And the next room to be de-wallpapered won't be receiving new.  The old bathroom is receiving a re vamp of sorts and I think I'll try "painting" stripes on it.   Who knows maybe I'll find a new vocation..