bunchofgrapes: (Emma - tongue)
[personal profile] bunchofgrapes
Since I wasn’t around LJ much in the second half of 2012, I will give you all a year in review.

Went to Seattle in February. I had hoped to see Paul Guilfoyle play hockey but since they moved the game from Seattle to Kent, no celebrities showed up to play. I get why too. Kent is way out in the sticks. The previous arena was near the Space Needle – and hotels. My cousins drove up from Portland and we had an awesome time. Seattle is a great place and I’d love to go back mostly so I can meet [livejournal.com profile] lasairfhiona

In the Spring I changed out the vanity in the downstairs bathroom and updated the baseboards. I also put down Travertine in both bathrooms and new carpet in my living room, master bedroom, and up the stairs. It looks amazing! My townhouse was built in ’74 – not exactly a notable architectural or decorative period in time (kind of hideous actually). Last year I updated the trim around the doors and windows so having the baseboards done makes a huge difference.
In late June we got hit by the very nasty Derecho (fancy word for straight winds) and that caused pretty significant damage to my Willow tree. It also knocked out the power for a couple of days while it was nasty hot and humid. I know that we were lucky compared to others, who were without power for a good week, but I am a wimp and need my AC. Now if it happened during the winter, whole different story. Luckily for me, I had this bad feeling when the power initially went out and called my dad, who lives about a mile from me and still had power. He also has a spare refrigerator in the garage and let me store my stuff over there. Still had to toss some stuff but it was mostly stuff I needed to toss anyway. Power outages are good for cleaning out the fridge and freezer.

Over the summer I started having some pretty bad pain in my right elbow. It got so bad that I couldn’t bend my elbow and the pain would wake me up in the middle of the night. I tried all kinds of bands and braces but nothing helped – except the pain meds my doctor gave me. Once those stopped though, the pain came back. I eventually went to an orthopedic doctor who told me I basically have lateral epicondylitis (aka tennis elbow) and a pretty decent sized calcification on the bone. He gave me a cortisone shot in my elbow and orders to go to physical therapy for 6 weeks. The cortisone shot worked wonders, making all the pain go away. Unfortunately, I’m noticing the return of the pain, stiffness, and weakness so it looks like the shot is wearing off. The doctor told me if it didn’t get better the next step is surgery (PT told me that’s generally the outcome) so that may be what I’m looking at. To make it worse, I don’t know what I’m doing to irritate it in the first place. The first time I had tennis elbow, it was after I’d done a lot of painting, which is why I now hire people to do it. I think it’s probably work related however my mouse set up is actually ergonomically correct.

In September still on a high from new carpet fumes I decided it was time to tackle the kitchen. Like I said, my house was built in ’74. Apparently, people in the 70’s ate out a lot or, since it was the height of TV dinners (at least at my house), just needed enough room to open the packaging and stick something in the oven. Either that or the kitchen was designed by a bunch of drunken idiots (this is a fact for my place) because there was zero counter space, a total of 6 cabinets and 4 drawers and a big empty open area because, although the dining room was oh, three steps away, it was important to be able to eat in the kitchen. Also, the stove was right next to one of the doorways into the kitchen. Seriously, wtf? When I first moved in the lovely colors were orange and yellow. They highlighted the harvest gold stove and refrigerator. Oh, and the colors were orange and yellow circles on contact paper. Yeah, that was fun. Incredibly, I still bought the place. What can I say? I loved the layout. Still do. When I moved in the cabinets were nasty brown with Spanishy looking handles. I immediately painted them white, which was still bad but kind of an improvement. Later I went back and properly refinished some of them but true to me, I never finished the project because it was massively labor intensive and I’m an “ooh, shiny” kind of girl. I’ve learned that it’s much more effective to just hire someone to do it. Around the time I painted the cabinets, I also got new countertops and a new sink. They were a cheap laminate from Home Depot but it really was a pretty decent improvement over the previous hideousness. A few years after that, I got a basic white porcelain tile backsplash and new floors. Again, it was shiny and looked so much better but it was still dated and awful and had zero counter and storage space. I later realized that the floors were nearly impossible to keep clean because they had a rough surface so they always looked dirty. Oh, and did I mention the microwave? Back in the 70’s microwaves were these huge things that were about the size of a console TV (look it up, kiddies) so they were not built in. That means they sat on the counter and took up valuable space, especially in this quality designed 70’s kitchen. I bought a sleek, new smaller countertop version however, whenever I plugged it in, it would flash 8’s across the screen and start signaling the Mothership with a series of random beeps. This would happen either as soon as I plugged it in or at 3am. It would work okay but I had to plug it in before each use and then press 8 and heat for 8 seconds then program it for whatever I wanted to nuke. I did this for many, many years. I have a lot of patience. I did this because when I first got the floors done (that nasty rough stuff), I was traumatized by the mess. Then I had to get a lot of rotted wood around the windows replaced in 2009 and was traumatized again by the mess. It took me a while to get over that but the carpet replacement went so well, that I decided to suck it up and finally get the kitchen done.

I got the design done at Home Depot and I have to admit, the designer I worked with was excellent. She suggested we move the stove to the empty area, something I’d already considered. We had the design but I still had no contractor. In October I went to Oktoberfest with some friends and while we were at one friend’s house, I noticed she had new granite countertops. She mentioned that she had this really great contractor and gave me his card. I gave him a call a few days later and he responded. He came out the next day to look at my kitchen. I knew when I met him that I wanted him to do the remodel. He’s a young guy (ok, I’m getting to the age where anyone younger than me is a young person) who used to work for Ryan Homes but as I later found out, he knows how to manage me, and keep me from freaking out, and that’s priceless. That was my thought before the remodel started and that’s still my thought. The guy is great!

As I’m sure some of you already know, doing a kitchen remodel is a hurry up and wait process. It’s hurry up and get the cabinets ordered, then wait forever for them to be ready, for your contractor to be ready, for you to be ready. Then toss in a holiday. For me the only real hold up was Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to have a house full of cabinets (17 total plus accessories) over the holiday weekend so we decided to postpone the delivery until Tuesday, December 4th. In addition to the kitchen, I decided to replace the old, rough floors in the entryway, hallway, kitchen and dining room. It was like ripping duct tape off a very hairy arm but once it was done, it was done. Good plan.

They tore out the old kitchen on Monday. New cabinets arrived at zero dark thirty on Tuesday and were mostly installed on Tuesday. Shopped for floors and granite on Tuesday. Electrician came out Tuesday evening and wired new microwave so it would no longer signal the Mothership. Painting and remaining cabinets were done on Wednesday. Granite measurement and more painting done on Thursday. Cleanup on Friday. Floors on Saturday. Granite was installed on Tuesday. If I had been able to make up my mind about the backsplash, we would be done by now but I couldn’t decide so we stalled. I finally made my decision and then found out it had to be ordered. Plus, it was twice as expensive as the estimate. After a day of trying to decide, I wanted what I wanted and the order went forward. The holiday delayed the order but the tile was delivered on Monday and will be installed tomorrow. Once it’s all done, I’ll post pictures. It’s weird to have this new kitchen. Everything is so different that’s it’s like I moved to a new place. Oh, and new cabinet smell > new car smell.

In between the kitchen drama a couple of significant things happened. The first was hurricane Sandy. We didn’t have anything near the devastation that the NE had but my Willow tree took another major hit from 60mph wind gusts and this time I thought it was done. Luckily, I have a wonderful tree service who suggesting cutting down the last remaining tall branch so the tree is about half the height it once was but should withstand most everything Mother Nature tosses at it now. It looks sad. Very sad. But in the Spring it will burst out with new growth so I know it will get better. Willow trees, this one especially, have such a special meaning to me that I was pretty crushed at the thought of losing it so this solution makes me very happy. Plus, I don't have the stress of worrying that every storm will bring down a big branch. At least for a while.

The other significant thing is that Pudgy, the stray kitty who lived outside, disappeared. The last time I saw her was when I fed her the morning of November 30th. Once it got colder out, she had been staying in her box in the back yard all the time so I had been feeding her on the back patio. She was an older kitty and the hot summers took a toll on her. She was drinking a lot of water and probably weighed ounces rather than pounds but she still had an appetite (though not like it used to be) and could still manage to get over the fence and into the back yard. When it wasn’t too cold outside, she would meet me in the front when I got home in the evening and then walk with me to the front door. She used to race to the front door but that spring and definitely left her step. I had started to see a couple of changes that made me think the end was getting near – so much so that I almost told my neighbor not to bring around the next food delivery because I was considering taking her to the vet. But Pudgy was an outside kitty and while I might decide the fate of my guys, she was her own cat and deserved to die on her own terms with nature. I had gotten home late that night and as I unloaded some bags from the back of the car, I swear I heard her meow three times. I even spoke to her, telling her to come on so I could feed her. But when I got to the front door, she wasn’t there. I then thought maybe I didn’t really hear her and maybe she was in the back so I checked there. No Pudgy. I am still to this day absolutely positive I heard her but she never showed up. I left her food outside just in case. I even checked her little hut (held my breath for what I might find) but no Pudgy. I’m convinced now that I did hear her. She was saying goodbye. As much as that little cat could be a pain in the butt, I miss her. Still expect to see her every morning when I open the blinds and every night when I come home. She was such a sweet cat and I’m glad I could at least give her a warm place to curl up. She did love her box.

Probably my greatest accomplishment of 2012 was finally getting the Wii hooked up to the internet. It was easy enough. Just took me long enough to get it done.
Another accomplishment, especially for an introvert like me, was finally getting out to a few concerts. In August [livejournal.com profile] vr_trakowski, [livejournal.com profile] biblioworm and I saw Sarah McLachlan. I forgot how much I love her music and how much it inspired me to write in the early 2000's. In November [livejournal.com profile] phdelicious and I saw The Who, which was excellent and amazing, especially when you realize that Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend are pushing 70. In December [livejournal.com profile] biblioworm and I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra, another great concert even though we laughed pretty good at the head-banging female singers. Maybe these concerts are a result of the hockey lockout. I tell people that the money I’ve saved on tickets, parking, gas, and food has helped pay for the kitchen and it’s not a lie. That’s at least been the cost of the new dishwasher and microwave.

Over the summer I put the lack of anything on TV into catching up on cable shows. Got all caught up with Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead so I could watch the new seasons of BB and TWD and am ready for DA next weekend. I watched all of Rome and the first season of Game of Thrones. Season 2 of Game of Thrones is out in February. I plan to get caught up on that and then may have to get HBO for season 3. It’s really excellent. The first half of the final season of Breaking Bad has been outstanding. The last eight episodes air in April, I think, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. That show has been one crazy ride!
Still have my love of Paul Guilfoyle and Brass and while CSI isn’t what it was, Ted Danson has brought some of it back. With the exception of the Finn-centric episodes, this season has been pretty good. They’ve given Brass a little more to do, brought some of his snark back, and there’s actually been an Ellie mention that seems to be setting up something down the road. As for Honey Boo Boo, my cousin and I discovered it at the same time. It's such a train wreck and as bad as it is, we can't look away. I also discovered www.dogshaming.com and that counts for the good, right?

I wrote in 2012 but accomplished nothing. It's very frustrating because I used to have all kinds of time to write and the words would flow. Now when I do have time, I can't seem to move the story forward. However, I would really like to get this Brass/Annie CSI fic and a VTTBOTS fic completed in 2013. I don't feel like I can move on until I get them done.

On the work front we had yet another re-org. This one has been relatively painless but a lot of positions were cut and people who've been with the company for years and years lost their jobs. It really sucks because while "they" like to say it's due to the economy or the fiscal cliff or whatever, these positions get cut so two director positions can be added to sector (one level below corporate) or so the guys at corporate can get their 7-figure bonuses. It's disgusting but that's the reality.

For my "I survived yet another re-org gift" this year I was going to buy a Nespresso Citz with the automatic milk frother. However, I happened to mention it to my parents and guess what I got for Christmas? This thing is awesome! Had to order it online and it came yesterday. I've already made a cappuccino and a latte macchiato. The milk frother on this is excellent - so much better than the old cappuccino machine I used to have. And the clean up is so, so easy. Definitely worth the investment if you've been looking at all the different types of machines. I looked at the Verismo from Starbucks but the reviews for it weren't so good. This one got great reviews.

Whew, I think that's it. I'm sure I left out something important that will cause me from going to sleep tonight. I'll worry about it when it happens.

Happy New Year!
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May 2015

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