25 July 2021

Shades of Grey - What Did Surely Take Apart Now?

This is Version Number Whatever of this post as it's taken a while to complete.  Regardless, the first line remains accurate:

As I'm writing this, I'm looking at a mostly painted office.  I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to paint the office and then I....like....did.  There is still one more wall to finish and the joint between the wall and ceiling where I can't reach.  This is Kevin's favorite part...not really.  It's his fault really, he married a short person with impulse control issues.

There is giant furniture in this room, some of which are bolted to the wall because earthquakes are a thing. So this project was Difficulty Level Eleventy Million.  Also, there are tens of photos of racecar and racecar related things.  I had to do the same thing I did when I painted the photo wall: take a photo so I knew how to put everything back.  I'm taking today (now three days) off because by the time I finished yesterday I was ready to burn down the house.  Well, and I ran out of paint.  

This project disabused any thought in my alphabet brain that I want to refinish my desk.  It weighs well over 100 pounds and measures 6-foot, 4-inch by 38.73 inches.  It's an immovable single-size bed.   I haphazardly painted around it because I could only move it slightly away from the wall.  So it seems unlikely that I will refinish it.  Narrator: "She's absolutely going to refinish the desk."  Narrator #2: "She bought stain and supplies yesterday."

I chose a grey color because that was what the internet said was a good color for an office. I was hesitant and I thought I'd chosen a silvery white.  I did not.  It took painting most of the wall before the panic of having made a horrible mistake passed.  (the first stage of painting grief)  Fortunately, it's the shade of grey that changes color with the light.  It looks silvery white, grey, and sage as the day passes. So, I guess that's a win.

Most of the photo frames are black.  Except five of them.  Now they have to be switched out, because alphabet brain is constantly pointing out that they're different.  Kevin just mentioned that he would paint them black for me because apparently I'm not to be trusted with spray paint.  

What started this whole thing, you might be asking.  Well...

This house is a two-bedroom cottage so I'm puzzled why there are two closets for one bedroom. (aka: the office)  One is nearly big enough to be a walk-in closet and the other is slightly larger than standard size.  My guess is the main bathroom created a deadspace so they made it into a closet.  But that's just a guess.

Anyway.   There are two closets.  Tap dancing jesus, I can't stay on topic.

One is the "racecar closet" where we keep parts boxes, actual tires, and all the stuff we need for the racecar that can't be stored in the shop, car, or trailer during the off-season because we live in the beautiful PNW where it's always damp.  (firesuit, helmet, parachute)  

Luckily for me I like the smell of new tires, because it also has a shelf of extra bedding.  It's the extra blanket for our bed during the winter, a quilt to use outside, our wedding quilt that doesn't match anything, (hello 1993) and the comforter that we use when "camping".  And pillows.  It's like sleeping at Les Schwab or Discount Tire, depending where you are from.

The other piece of this puzzle is that Kevin sold the racecar engine, creating the need for culling nearly all of the boxes in the closet.  Right this second, there are not tires stored in there either.  So it's nearly empty. Yes, I am thinking about the nap closet idea.  But it will be full again in a few days/weeks.

Then there's Monica's Closet.  As always, it has been allowed to be a bit of a mess. An archaeological shit*tshow, if you will.  I will say that it's better than it's ever been in the past but it's time to delve back into it and get it better organized.

But here's the problem(s):  There are some things that made it into the racecar closet that aren't necessarily racecar. Kevin bought moving blankets for projects out in the shop.  They are a pain to fold and store. (so heavy!) Also, there is a smallish box of extra flooring, and a large suitcase.  By some mystery of Tetris, I've managed to fold the blankets as small as possible, put one suitcase into another, and slide the flooring box to the back of the closet.  

Meanwhile, back to Monica's Closet.  I've pulled out the unfinished photo album project and put it into the living room.  If I put it out there it will bother me and I'll finish it.  UPDATE: this did not work and they are all back in Monica's Closet. There is also a box leftover from the nostalgia box project with scrapbook stuff.  I believe that will languish in that box for another little decade while.  #SorryNotSorryHeirs  

I have a big tote of wrapping stuff. Gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, greeting cards. It's a little like the hallmark store clearance rack fell over into this tote.  Also, I hoard envelopes.  It's a habit from back in my school admin days.  I would bring them in for the kids to use. (handy tip: extra envelopes, old greeting cards, and junk mail are great to give kids.) 

It took about thirty minutes to sort through and consolidate/discard.  Someone at the second-hand store is going to get a treasure bag of greeting card and envelopes randomness.  Then I gathered all the giftbags together to go with them. The Cindy Spelling Starter Kit, if you will. The odds of me using any of this are so slim now; we are just not in that life stage.  I will keep the tissue paper because it feels like I never have it when I need it. (those feelings are lying, mind you. I have plenty)  Yet, that tote remains full. #goodeffort  

Today Kevin promised to help me finish in here.  It's 1:00 in the afternoon and I've reminded him once.  My guess is he will wait until the end of the day when I can't care anymore.  But I really want this project finished so I can focus when it's time to actually work tomorrow.  I think I will do the trick that motivates him every.single.time:  I Will Do It Myself.

Summing up: Office that I said I'd never paint is 75% finished.  Desk that I said I wouldn't refinish is still in the Maybe category.  One closet has been emptied and nearly refilled and Monica's Closet remains the adorable sh*t show it will always be. Actually, it's better, it just never Feels that way.

Oh, and related side story: the other day I went to get more paint.  Usually I have a photo of the paint label in my phone. (#nerd) Did I?  Nope.  Okay, no worries, because I have an account there.  Did that paint code get entered onto my account? that would also be nope.  Instead of doing the mature and reasonable thing of waiting to get the correct paint code, I just chose the color I thought it was.  Now wait, there is logic. Sorta.  See also: short person with impulse control issues.

The remaining wall is the biggest/tallest wall.  However, it is covered by a giant bookcase and has a door and is partially blocked by another door.  So it was a big Whatevs if the paint doesn't match perfectly.  What did matter is that I didn't know if I had enough remaining paint to do the edges on the walls with the original color.  It was a fun lottery to play.

Update: it's totally fine.  I think you might notice because I told you but anyone who doesn't follow this silliness would notice.  The difference in shades is the new one has a hint of blue so it's slightly lighter.

Also, my plan did work: Kevin spent an hour - on the phone for most of it - painting where I couldn't reach.  After decades together, one figures out how to get cooperation.  Now I've asked him to just leave me be for a few minutes so I can finish this and one other thing.  "I don't need you" he says jokingly.  SIX MINUTES LATER he sheepishly comes into the office needing help.    

Now that everything is put back together, I've organized my workstation after haphazardly throwing it together 1.5 years ago, and it looks SO NICE in here, I'm betting that the Universe will intervene and I will have to return to my work office in the fall.  

But that would make it easier to refinish my desk....

17 July 2021

This Is Not The Fun Part

 Sometimes it's like herding cats.  That is what life feels like right now.

We are doing a new build on the racecar. (I promise this isn't all racecar)

In order to do this big project, everything engine related went for sale.  This creates an endless series of phone calls, texts, paypal transactions, two separate trips to the bank, and paperwork.  Oh, and shipping. I hate shipping.

Then once that is completed, or sometimes during the process, ordering new stuff begins.  This brings another round of phone calls, texts, email bids, paypal transactions, bank transfers and omg paperwork. Tracking numbers.  More tracking numbers.  Updates to tracking numbers. More emails. Receipts.

Somewhere in there: a new laptop was purchased because the old one wasn't up for the task.  I admit, that part was fun.

AND THEN, the stuff begins to arrive.

If you think Surely is OCD, let me introduce you to Kevin.  In this case, he's using his powers for good but again: OMG.  

There are the originals - receipts, manuals, instructions, warranties.  Then there are copies.  Some things we laminate because of high-usage.  This project has made me scan everything into the cloud as well.

There is a specific binder for all the master documents that is kept in the house and another binder in the shop.  (if he asks for one for the car trailer, it was nice knowing you all)

This is the point we are right now.  I've copied, scanned, laminated all.the.things.  And there are FOUR MORE SHIPMENTS to arrive where I get to do it all again. #goodthingIworkfromhome

(this is #firstworldproblems and Yes, I am whining)

Finally, because we are working with a new engine builder, there is the marketing part.  I'm teaching Kevin to use email and making sure his email is set-up with signatures, etc.  He's done well but try teaching that stuff over the phone while he's running heavy equipment.  I need a Certificate of Proficiency.

The builder sent us a truckload of swag, which is super fun but what do we do with a six foot by three foot banner?  Well, this what you do: you hang it behind the racecar, take photos then go onto social media to thank/promote them.  You email them directly to thank them.  

And Kevin hates that part. He thinks posting on social media is bragging and hates the attention.  Well, buddy, this is how we do things now.  Also, your FRIENDS enjoy seeing this stuff.  One of which has already phoned him in response.

My point, beyond whining, is that it's not just all fun with this level of racecar.  It's sometimes an actual job.  Earlier today Kevin mentioned that this was the fun part and I hesitated for a millisecond with an "ummmm" This is the fun part for HIM, I clarified.  

Right now, it's work for me.  When it's done and we're doing racecar stuff with our friends, then I will have forgotten all about this.  It will be fun then.  Not as much now.

Oh, and I forgot: taking all the packaging and boxes to recycling.  But not yet, because reasons.

13 July 2021

All That Glitters...is Expensive

 I wear a gold cross on a fine, gold chain.  It was the second gift Kevin ever gave me and that was clearly before I lost my faith.  Now I wear it more out of sentimentality than any intention.  

Funny Story, to me:  When I was an administrator at the school, I would often spend time in classrooms.  One day one of my favorite three-year-olds noticed my cross.  She was slow to learn to talk but she got this out clearly: "Why do you have  a airplane?"  

Wooboy, it took me a minute to respond.  It made me laugh so hard and now almost twenty years later, it still makes me laugh.  I much prefer her take on it.

Now skip ahead to when I had to take Lucy to the new vet.  He's an older gentleman, probably in his seventies.  It took us a few minutes to get each other but by the end of the appointment, we were good.  One of the last things he mentioned was "That's a beautiful necklace."  I said thanks and indicated it was an old gift.  He subtly mentioned something about the importance of it and I squelched saying "I lost my faith a long time ago" just in time.  Instead I said something non-committal.  He wasn't being precious about it at all, just acknowledged it's existence.  Then he returned to talking about Lucy.

Then a few days later, the chain came apart in my hands while I was working at my desk.  I'm thankful that it happened here at home and that I noticed.  While the assumed symbolism isn't a thing for me, the nostalgia of it would have devastated me.

So, I had a backup chain because this isn't the first time the chain has broken.  Usually it's me trying to disentangle my hair from the clasp.  And...it's broken too.  Because of course. #2021

To sound pretentious, my jeweler had been closed due to Covid.  Actually, they retired and the new owner was closed due to Covid.  They were also located in my old work city and I hadn't found a "local" jeweler yet.  How old am I, anyway?

Funny story #2, to me:  One of the most popular jewelers in my home town is owned by four girls that I went to high school with.  Four of the Popular Girls.   While two of the four have always been nice to me, the other two Not So Much.  Not bullies but just mean girls who felt they didn't belong in a small town and made themselves bigger than they were. (jokes on them)  Yeah.  They're not getting my business. It's not a grudge, it's a consequence. 

I went to the jeweler that fixed my long-lost watch two years ago. I went more based on I knew where it was and it was convenient than based on any planning.  It's run by an elderly couple and the actual jeweler is my age so this is not going to be a long-term relationship, I'm afraid.

And with that thought, while talking to the jeweler, I discovered that being a jewel-smith (is that a thing?) is becoming a lost art.  Most jewelry stores are franchises now; there are few privately owned shops anymore.  Later I did a online search and he was right: ignoring franchises, there are only ten jewelers in a three-county radius.  

Funny Story #3:  One of the other jewelers in my hometown was the "family" jeweler when I married satan.  We bought not only my wedding ring there, but our china AND crystal there also.  (yes, very old fashioned, Christian family traditions. See: lost faith)

Whew, this is the scenic route to the point of this bloggity.

I didn't research the replacement cost of the necklace because I assumed it could be repaired.  Yeah, it was so old and worn that repair wasn't an option.  One of the ways we learned this is that the chain was nineteen inches long. Necklace sizes only come in even numbers.  Let's hear it for me being diligent about care and repair of this chain.

Okay, so disappointing and but let's look at a replacement.


The first one I chose was $649.  It was nothing special, not particularly heavy or flashy.  Just a gold chain, similar to the original.  It would be $700 by the time I walked out of the door.

Now I have to graciously tell them that I'm not paying that much for a chain.  They were great about it, actually.  I expressed visible and audible surprise and told them that I had zero idea how expensive it was to replace. They absolutely understood.  I suspect they've heard that before.

Then they wondered if I had any old jewelry at home.  I could trade it in to put it toward the cost.  You see those advertisements all the time but I didn't ever give it any thought.  I knew that I did so I told them I would return.  You could almost see the skepticism so that made me say that I would return on a particular day.  (I'm a child, don't doubt that I'll do something because then I have to)

In my jewelry box is mostly childhood costume jewelry and some jewelry from my grandmas.  I knew I had at least one gold chain, a cheap gold bracelet that the links kept breaking, a pair of earrings that I never wore, a pendant that I never wore, and a ring that was a gift.  Oh and another ring that I had forgotten about from when I was married to satan.  It has zero sentiment to it so I threw it in the box too.

On the self-announced day, I returned with my little box of goodies.  I had no expectation for any of it, I was just happy to be recycling this stuff.  After about ten minutes, the jeweler returned and it was worth $170.  To be honest, I wasn't sure if I should have been disappointed or happy.  In the end, it really didn't matter to me.

But that was still not half of what I would need for a replacement.  This is where the jeweler - not the owners - took interest/pity and offered to research reasonable replacements.  I felt obligated now so he went to look at what was possible.

And....it was still $400.  Sheesh.  That's just a lot for jewelry.  Especially when I had just spent $cough on Lucy's vet bills.  Luckily, the $170 "trade-in" took it to nearly half the cost.  Then because Covid, they didn't have one in stock.  It was the display and another had to be made.  Of course.  

Then there was a deposit required and it wouldn't be ready for almost three weeks so then the overall cost didn't hurt that badly.  So...it feels like a win?

Now enter Kevin.  He's not a sentimental guy at all.  At All.  So he was a little Meh about this whole adventure.  When I told him what the final cost was, he actually sputtered a little.  Coughed.  "I can guarantee that I didn't spend that much on the original!"   I had to laugh because, dude seriously.  Like I didn't already know that.  And, settle down with the love talk, you're overwhelming me.

So, what I learned was that gold is Capital E Expensive. That's why all the rings are platinum now.  I learned that I need to go back and have my rings appraised.  Not that I'm dripping in rings but I have my wedding ring with the diamond, a small, plain band and Kevin's band on my left hand.  (it's a marquis cut so Kevin's ring stays on my finger) Plus three gold and sapphire rings on my right hand that I have had FOREVER, one of which is pre-Kevin.  And a Black Hills Gold ring from my mother-in-law.

Wait, there's story about that. Funny Story #4:  Firstly, I don't know why she gave me a ring. She just did. It's an odd thing to give to a daughter-in-law and a little extra odd that it had no sentimental value. It was a Christmas gift.  Nonetheless, it was too big but I wore it anyway and you can see where this is going.  I lost it.   I didn't say anything and just hoped that she didn't notice and/or it would reappear.  

Fast forward about nine months and it's the day before our old house is going to be torn down.  I was packing the kitchen, turned around, and in the middle of the floor was the ring.  I have zero idea where it came from.  It just reappeared. I had it resized and now I wear it.

Kevin thought it was a good idea to tell his mom the story because it is kind of wild that it just appeared the day before a house was being torn down.  I expressed displeasure because I didn't want her to know I lost it.  Jokes on me, she noticed a while ago.

And...I swear I'll be finished talking about this eventually. Back to the original thought:

I definitely could have gone to a franchise and bought something less expensive but I am a Shop Local human whenever I can.  Also, I could have shopped online or ordered something bespoke online for definitely less.  The issue with that is I can't SEE or FEEL it.   I can only guess. It's also on faith (unintentional pun) that what I receive is actually gold and not plated gold; which I would only know if I had it appraised.

Jewelry seems to be a case of you get what you pay for.  It's just not worth the risk of losing the pendant, or having to return the chain until I get what I want, or have it repaired and have to explain "I bought it online." I'd rather spend a little lot more and not have to worry about it.

It was difficult to take this photo without being all bewbies
Rare photo without glasses, because impatient.
And, I don't have purple hair.  I love snapchat filters.

08 July 2021

Happy Independence Day

Oh hai, made this post...didn't schedule it.  Super.

Early 1970's
Photo from Skagit Valley Herald
Fireworks by my dad and his friends


Late 1990's
Photo by Skagit Valley Herald
Fireworks by my family and me

Photo by me

02 July 2021

Books, Toys, and Naps

 Unless the powers-that-be say no for some unlikely reason, it looks like I will continue to work from home in the fall.  Or worse case: a hybrid schedule.  I'm relieved and a little nervous. Because that's much more responsibility than during the pandemic, as I would have a full caseload plus more. 

Meanwhile,  Kevin was really relieved; his anxiety likes having me safe at home AND available to the parents. Also, I've tried to People this last month and I believe I've gone feral.  I off-handedly dropped an  eff-bomb to my job partner in her office, which is located in an old church.  Well done, me.

Now I'm looking at my office through a workspace eye.  It's going to be my next big project.  Sshhh, don't tell Kevin.

I bought grey paint when I bought the orange paint.  It's more of a silvery-white, I think.  Of course, it's too hot to paint right now but I have it for when the mood strikes. I keep telling myself that I can just do one wall at a time but my brain is all "DO IT ALL OR NOTHING."  And yes, I said that I would never paint the office.  Don't listen to me, I don't know what I'm talking about most times.

Now I'm also considering refinishing my desk.  It is a capital "B" big project and I would have to take apart my entire work station. So that's daunting and will require some scheduling.  Yet, still want to do it. I will eventually run out of furniture to refinish.  Or so I keep saying.

So, because I can't do either of those things until this ungodly heat goes away, I'm looking at my bookshelves.  They're stuffed and unbalanced.  My to-be-read pile is ridiculous and my plan is to diminish it this summer. Plans, however, do not help in the moment.

I have a separate bookcase that holds paperbacks, oversized books, and some hardbacks.  I considered emptying both bookshelves and restocking them into some sort of order.  Right now, they're sorted by author, unread, and one random shelf of books from my childhood.  (liberated from nostalgia totes in Monica's Closet.) Plus one shelf that had racecar junk stored on it because I've been too lazy to deal with it.  It's a top shelf so under-utilized and out of my reach/eyeline; that's how that has been allowed to occur.  

In progress.  I don't know where my photography documentation skills have gone

Finished, mostly. For now. Probably.

What had happened was, I re-organized the big bookcase.  I stuck with the previous organization of grouped by author, non-fiction, and unread.  I might still sort by color within the author groups but we'll see. The alphabet brain is fickle.  I also decluttered tchotchkes that had gathered on the shelves.  Why, why, do I have so many bookmarks?

The smaller bookshelf needs refinishing. I know, I have issues. It was built by my dad when I was married the first time, I think.  He was a lot like my father-in-law where good enough is good enough.  Until then though, I removed books that I'll never read again and consolidated older paperbacks onto one shelf.  If I'm being honest, I would rather be rid of the small paperbacks but that would require replacing them with hardbacks and yep, that's where my brain spun out.  So, they're stacked on the bottom shelf for now.

The weirdly shaped cabinet was made by my father-in-law
I can't remember why it's weirdly shaped
It's full of Kevin's trucks and heavy equipment toys (some antique and some new)
It's existence is currently being debated

As a result of this shuffling, I looked at the bookshelf in the living room and the books on top of the weird cupboard in the hallway.  I relocated some books to "appropriate" shelves and culled even more books.  Those were books that I was "meh" about but kept anyway, books that I have and will probably never read.  (Why do I keep getting Jodi Picoult and Anne Tyler books. I'll never understand)  Inspirational stories that were popular years ago and a teen bible.  (long story about that one, it wasn't mine)

Surely I'll remember to look up there before ordering more books

Now there's a box of books in the laundry room, creating everyone's favorite thing: clutter.  This is the plan:

There is a little neighborhood library on the way to the park near-ish my house.  I have many books for it, too many to drop off all at once.  I just have to remember to take a stack each time we go and deliver them.   It's by the road, at the end of a long-ish driveway and it feels weird to pull into someone's driveway.   As I've mentioned before, I live rurally so pulling into someone's driveway feels sketchy but the existence of the library indicates the unlikelihood of being chased away.  At least in the city I used to work in, these little libraries were next to street parking. 

But I did it, and yes it felt weird but you can't see the house from the road so it felt less conspicuous.  And it's an adorable little library:

Now the fun part was peeking at the books to see if the readers have similar tastes as me.  I was fearing seeing cookbooks or religious or political books or something random.  Nope, there was Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Patricia Cornwall, sci-fi, and cute little self-help books.  Whew!  So I dropped off my little contribution and even snagged a book, based solely from the title:

That's progress but there's more to be made.  Kevin wondered about breaking down Lucy's crate because she refuses to sleep in it at night.  But while I'm working, she's all:

Yes, it's made like a people bed. Don't judge.
I'm trying to get her to sleep in it at night again.

In the Fall, I will need some flat, uncluttered workspace and her crate will provide it.  Thus the top shelf of the little bookcase with it's stuff  that used to be on her crate, instead of books.  Also, all my processes are supposed to be paperless so the little oak file cabinet that doesn't fit anywhere should be useless.  Especially if I ever finish the photo project.  (shush, I will. Eventually)


I'm going to pull everything out of Monica's Closet and the racecar closet when it's not Hades outside. (the office gets HOT, because it's never in the shade)  My goal is to consolidate as much as I can.  We are doing something different with the racecar since the border will be closed until at least Fall.  This results in most of what's stored in it gone.  

To accomplish this also means I have to finish both the photo albums and the nostalgia projects.  Sigh.  My goal is before school starts again.  So....next month.  Double sigh.

AND THEN, I read this on the social media and my brain started to whir.