Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Can't Remember What They're Called...but I May Have Just Created One

2010
You know, where something happens, and that causes something else to happen, which couldn't happen unless the first thing had/hadn't happened, but neither can happen without the other, and then you're back where you started?

One of those.  Worm hole? Time-space continuum? Time warp?  Chicken crossing the road?  No, wait--

Anyway.

It's time to decorate the house because CHRISTMAS.  Which is my favorite time of year, except summer.  My life pretty much revolves around "When's summer?" and "When's Christmas?"
2011

Guys.  To fully decorate our house, it means basically A TREE IN EVERYSINGLEROOM OF THE WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE.  Seriously.  I think there are like 9 now, even one in a bathroom.  Two 6-foot, three 4-foot, one 3-foot, two 18", and one 12" which doesn't really count, but 9 sounds better than 8 when I'm making up lists of why I have too much to do or  making holiday predictions, right?  Let's just call it an even dozen.

The time warp/worm hole/quantum thing comes into effect, though, because, to decorate I need to have a plate of Christmas cookies.  And I haven't made Christmas cookies yet.  And I can't even HAVE Christmas cookies because I'm on a whole-food/one-ingredient/raw food type diet (which is working, but it's not like it's FUN or anything), so why make them?  And if I can't have Christmas cookies, which I haven't baked, I can't decorate, and I can't decorate unless I make cookies first and have a little plate while decorating the tree, and I can't make cookies because--

You can see where this is going, right? 
2012
Also, decorating means pulling some of the decorations and trees out of the attic, which means moving stuff out of the garage to get TO the attic.  And of course, while we're up there, we should take some stuff UP there that's been sitting in the garage since, like, August.  Try not to look around and find anything that I forgot about.  HEY! WHY IS MY PUNCH BOWL UP HERE?  OH LOOK, THEIR BABY TOYS!!!

Focus! You came up here for trees.

Actually, the bulk of our holiday decor is in the backbackback of the coat closet, in a dark cavern under the stairs, and that means pulling out EVERY SINGLE COAT, HAT, AND BOOT to pull out all the boxes, which in itself never thrills me, because then I start thinking we should totally give away some of these coats because for the love of God, WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY COATS?  And then I start sorting gloves and wondering the same thing, except with the addition of why can't they stay matched UP, and why doesn't Shane have any boots?  I should have a cookie.

It also means trying to figure out where to put the big tree in the living room--there are only two choices--and either one means moving ALL THE FURNITURE around, which means OMG LOOK AT ALL THAT DUST, and then I have to sweep and vacuum and possibly look for a new house or at least fire the maid.

hahahAHAHAHAHAHAHA    ...yeah, no.  There's no maid here.

Anyway.  I HAVE to decorate, because we are also having The Christmas Party here this year.  Which means, like, 60 people and 10,000 varieties of finger food and lots of laughing our heads off, (and lots of cookies), and I can't start all THAT until the trees are up, and the trees can't go up because no COOKIES.  I don't even know if I can do this without baking first.

I could just bake some.  But then I'd have to do dishes first, and possibly go the store because I'm pretty sure I'm low on butter, which means I'd have to also get dressed (and find some cash), and that's just too much right now.  I've only been up for an hour, so this all seems like too much on my (cookie-less) plate.

*sighs*

Well, I guess I'll go stare into that closet now.  Thanks for listening.
Jack, enjoying the tree   2013

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Computer for a WEEK = *UNHAPPY FACE*

Guys.

What the actual heck? I feel like I just got back from the stone age.  Or time traveled back to a time where businesses were run with a pencil and note pad.  Maybe even carbon copies.  Because oh.my.gosh, our computer died.

died 

I can't--even-- just, whaaaat.

Well.  It was like 10,000 years old.  I'm pretty sure the Windows 7 screen was in hieroglyphs.

So.  I just spent a WEEK without access to our bank account, except through my phone screen (thank God for Android!!).  A week with no access to our over 4,000 customer names and histories and info, except to sit and stare at the zip drive which I SO WISELY zipped off our dying old computer before it completely gave up the ghost.
Noooooo
I have been hand-writing schedule stuff on a printed-out schedule, with an actual pencil.  I have a notebook full of notes, schedule changes, reminders, order changes, payment info, and customer requests.  I think I actually have a pencil behind my ear right now.  I have a stack of receipts and a hand-written "check register" that I tried to reconstruct using only my phone/bank/account online and my razor-sharp memory.  (Which means, I have no idea how much money we have/don't have.)

Nothing worked beyond this screen
My biggest dilemma was that I use a program for customer scheduling and data that integrates with Quickbooks, and Intuit kindly stopped making it and didn't replace it with a newer, better program.  It just...doesn't exist any more.  And the old version we use...doesn't work with Windows 8.  It can be saved as a spreadsheet-type file and probably reloaded into some new database (read:  SUPER PAIN IN THE BUTT CHORE OF A LIFETIME), but the bad news is: there is no way to transfer all the history/notes off that program and into any other program, except to manually go into 4,000+ names and click on each history note and copy/paste it somewhere to transfer to a new program.  Thanks Intuit.  I owe you one.

And we have 12 years' worth of notes.  For over 4,000 customers...multiplied by the speed of light and the centrifugal force of x/pi + a divided by one really frustrated business owner, equals....

aaiiiieeeeeeeee   *faints*

So naturally I have been moderately to severely freaking out for the past 6 months, while our old laptop limped along and randomly sometimes just refused to start (at ALL).

Knowing this was coming, I (see above) WISELY zipped everysinglefile off the old computer during its last attempt to live, onto a new zipdrive, so we didn't lose anything.  So, other than completely (and I mean really) freaking out that we might be losing our notes as described above, we were safe.

Being relatively sure that 12 years of my carefully recorded notes were lost to us forever, but not our actual customer list, I dragged my bereft self into Best Buy last week to the sound of a mournful dirge, and asked the Best Buy Geek what to do.

He looked at me like, DUH, and said, "Just buy another Windows 7 computer."

* O__O *

Me:  What?

Him:  Yeah.  Just go online and order another computer with Windows 7.

Me:  You can DO that??

Him:  Uh...yeah...

Me:  *nothing*

Actually, I may have hugged him, or at least high-fived him.  And added him to my Christmas card list for the rest of his life.  

Long story short(er), I ordered a Windows 7 computer, all my programs loaded, all our backup files restored, and I am not ashamed to say I actually cried a little with joy when I saw all of them again last night.  Kind of like stepping out of a time machine and realizing you're actually home.  Land!!

Huge cleansing sigh.

So, the good news is:  I bought us a couple more years before we have to revert back to the above paragraph where I get to freak out about losing our customer info AGAIN.  Only then it will be like 15 years' worth of data...*starts to hyperventilate*

Focus, please.

In the meantime, I missed reading blogs and commenting on them, because typing comments or blog posts on an Android screen is like a special kind of punishment, so, YAY I'M BACK.

I can't even TELL you how glad I am to see my familiar old work screens again.  I'm thinking I should buy about 4 more of these computers to cover me until I retire...



P.S. Anyone looking for a really boring job building a whole new database and then transferring about 5 billion history notes into it, one by one, in about 3 years, please raise your hand.
My new favorite picture IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD EVER


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time Traveler--1974ish: Year of the Angry Angel

Oh my gosh, I nearly missed my costumes-of-Halloweens-past post.  I don't celebrate Halloween, and I haven't in forever.  Because I just don't like it.  And the whole thing about it getting gorier and scarier every consecutive year since like 1978 is just a whole other post, so, yeah.  

Instead, October 31st is my "pre-Christmas day".  This year, I spent the day making dipped taper candles for Christmas gifts, planning a holiday party, and drinking hot chocolate, with the porch light OFF.  Not that we have much risk of trick-or-treaters here.  We have no neighbors for like 20 acres in any direction, the house next door is vacant, and we've had a total of ONE knock on our door in 14 years.  And THAT time, it was after 10 p.m., and they were taller than me and dressed as chickens.  Uh…?

When I was a kid in California in the 70s, we did the usual stuff, I guess.  I remember carving pumpkins and dressing up for Halloween, usually in a homemade/recycled costume.  It was before Pinterest and Walmart, so, yes--I remember the sheet with the holes in it.  I vaguely remember a witch idea one year--either actually being one, or wishing I could be one.  And the hobo idea.  Or maybe that was the time I planned to run away on my horse...

I don't remember actually going trick-or-treating, since we lived behind an abandoned quicksilver mine and only had two neighbors…but maybe we went with friends?  I remember the candy, so we must have gone somewhere, and I remember, even back in 1976, hearing that scary story about apples with razor blades in them.  Who the HECK puts razors in apples?  I was just freaked out by that.  

I don't really remember any Halloween costumes after we moved to Idaho in 1977, but then I'd have been also wearing boots, a coat, a hat, mittens, and/or possibly a snow suit over the costume, depending on the year, so WHY AM I EVEN DRESSED UP RIGHT NOW?  I also spent a lot of my childhood forgetting to wear pants wearing the wrong clothes, anyway, so a costume *may* have been an improvement.

We also didn't trick-or-treat in Idaho, mostly since the nearest sidewalk was about 25 miles away.  Instead I remember parties with people from our 'neck of the woods' (if you live in the country, you know what that term means).  We'd get together at our local community hall, and there would be apple dunking and pinatas, and games like that one where you try and eat a donut dangling from a string without using your hands.  Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of those parties, but I remember them being just really good, simple fun.

Last year I stumbled across photographic proof of actual costumes, and I have been telling myself FOR LIKE A YEAR to use them in a post, and I almost missed it.

For some reason, the only costume photos we have, are two years when I hated my costumes, and I still remember BOTH with a frown.

*jots down note to self for future therapist questions*

So.  Here are two pictures of me, back in the day:

Pure, unadulterated, 4-year-old, clenched-fist, flared-nostril, pouting…fury     
 I remember my mom made this whole angel costume (possibly using a recycled ghost/sheet from a prior year), including the tin-foil/coat-hanger halo and cardboard/tinfoil WINGS YOU GUYS.  Wings.  In this day and age, this would totally belong on Pinterest, but at the time I LOATHED it, as you can see.  Maybe that was the year I wanted to be a witch, which would totally explain my expression, because, hello, this is not.even.close, when you're four and hoping for a black hat and a broom.  I absolutely remember how mad I was about being forced to put this outfit on.  Like the "burning with the heat of a thousand suns" kind of mad.

More hidden angst.  That kimono was mine.     MINE!
THIS is another one I totally remember.  Oh sure, we look like friends.  But what you don't know is that my friend Leah's costume (at left) was mine.  It was an ACTUAL satin kimono thing that I recall having been sent to me AS A GIFT by my aunt, who used to travel a lot.  I remember thinking it was possibly the most beautiful thing I'd ever owned.  I hadn't been allowed to wear it yet, because it was too long for me or something, so of course it should have been fine with me that my best friend got to wear my new beautiful special gift, before me, ON HALLOWEEN.  Again, fury.  And probably also why we're not standing even remotely close to each other.  Or smiling.

I posed with my head at a jaunty angle, defiantly refusing to acknowledge her...but on the inside, I was having a total hissy-fit MELTDOWN.

I don't even know what I'm dressed as, on the right, but it looks like someone handed me a clear umbrella parasol, my mom's floppy hat, gloves, and some button-up boots and said, "Voila!  You're…a woman from 1905."  And Leah's brother Jubel, in the background is wearing what looks like tights and a cape, a crown, and--are those...cotton balls on blue slippers??  Is he an elf king? So many questions.

I remember being just furiously, hysterically angry about that whole situation.  I was pretty sure I would hate Leah forever afterwards, and possibly everyone else, for letting her wear that kimono.

Why is it we always remember the costumes we hated?  I'm sure I must have had some princess outfit somewhere that I refused to take off for days on end, at least one year.  Right?  Why don't we have pictures of that?

Ahh…childhood. 

Wait!  I found some Bonus Photos:  

This is me, wearing a football uniform for possibly no apparent reason other than I was a super-tough tomboy and I felt like it?  I can't even understand this picture at all.  I have no recollection of this moment whatsoever, why I'm the only one dressed up, or what my friend Mary is doing.  Probably writing to Santa, asking for a new best friend.
No idea what, or why.  I did NOT play football.
 And lastly, finally,...a smile!
 Me, about age 5-6.  See? No costume = Happy.



Monday, November 3, 2014

Procrastinating 101

Always.

I have to leave in...29 minutes...and I just realized I'm GREAT at procrastinating.  It goes like this:

Night Before:  *set alarm for 7:20* Tomorrow I will: Get up, get dressed in Clothes for Public Consumption, possibly even with make-up, and get my banking and errands done after dropping our daughter at school.  Then I will go work out at the gym, come home, make apple pies and clean the whole house, get the outside chores done, store the outdoor furniture in Martha-worthy style, and possibly repaint the interior of our house, while maintaining a perfect manicure and having a photo-shoot style dinner on the table later.

7:21 a.m.:   WHA--  Oh, my ever loving... No.  I can't.  Just, please.  Oh, sweet mercy--Shane's driving.  I'll get up and run errands later.  Maybe I'll go to the gym, too.  The bank deposit can wait.  And I'm *sure* the chickens aren't compLETely out of food.  Yet.

10:00 a.m.:  I can still get to the gym this AFTERNOON before pickup at the school.  And then the bank, because they're open til 5:30, right?

1:00 p.m.:  I should shower soon.  Or I could go upstairs and work out, instead of going to the gym.  Yeah.  Besides, the gym's probably full of those other moms who go before school gets out.

2:00 p.m.:  Forgot, there's volleyball practice til 6 p.m.  Reset schedule to allow for 3 hours' later departure.  Yay!  I don't have to shower yet.  Wait.  I still have to get to the bank and the feed store before 5:30.   Or do I?

3:30 p.m.  I should shower NOW.  Forget the work out--I'll just have cauliflower for dinner.  OK, If I leave at 4:30 I still can totally run errands and do the bank deposit, and THEN pick up at the school at 6.

4:00 p.m.  Ok, I showered.  I wonder if Shane can get her at the school, and then I could do the bank deposit early tomorrow?  No.  I have all that other stuff, and I really should do it toDAY.  Because, otherwise, it's like an epic fail of a day with nothing to show for it but a couple of new candles I made.

4:10 p.m.: It's not like it's a crisis if that stuff doesn't get done today.  I could still leave in 19 minutes... but wait--I FEEL LIKE WRITING A BLOG POST ABOUT THIS.

muauahahaha...  *sits at computer*

4:22 p.m.:  If I get dressed RIGHT NOW AND LEAVE IN 8 MINUTES, I can still get all that stuff done.  Well, no, not all of it--but I will get to the bank. 

Or, I could just leave at 5:50 p.m. to pick up our daughter after practice, and START THIS WHOLE CONVERSATION AGAIN TOMORROW MORNING.



Sound familiar?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More Stuff Overheard Around Here Lately

We laugh a lot at our house, and sometimes I will jot down what made me laugh.  Plus, it gives me something to share when I have no news, (other than I finished knitting one sweater and started another one.  Yay, me).  Because I'm a giver, you guys.  YOU'RE WELCOME.

Here are a few (more) things overheard at my house recently:

1.  My brother-in-law describing a gold dredge, after an unsuccessful weekend spent turning over rocks in an icy creek in the mountains: "It's not a dredge.  It's called The Trough of Disappointment."

2.  My college daughter's roommate, describing the in-house food at the university: "This soup...it tastes like my nightmares."

3.  Our youngest, when describing some really loud coyotes one night that woke us both up because they sounded odd.  "I heard them, but I was dreaming and thought they were special-needs coyotes."

4.  Youngest to oldest, while watching a close-up shot of Russell Crowe in a movie:  "AYY YO GONNA RECYCLE THOSE BAGS UNDER YA EYES?"  (no offense, Russell).

5.  Annnnddd...a text from my youngest to my oldest when they were upstairs one night:

Awww.  Now give each other a hug.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The NiƱa, The Pinta, and The WHY ARE THERE NO BANKS OPEN?!?

Aside from all the total epic FAIL-ness of Christopher Columbus' reputation from the vantage point of like 522 years of hindsight...I really hated him a little bit more again today.
Maybe they were just looking for a BANK that was open.

This morning my alarm went off the usual 25 minutes before I need to drive our youngest to school.  Then I remembered that I also needed to get to the bank this morning. Not the drive-through...like, the kind of banking where you actually NEED TO WALK INSIDE THE BUILDING, preferably not in your jams, but the sign on the door only says you can't wear hoodies or possibly masks, so I'm probably OK.

anyhoo--

I hit the snooze only once, because I'm responsible like that, and got dressed in Actual Clothes That Match.  I even brushed my hair and put on makeup, even though I totally did not have time to shower, so my hair was barely passable.  I never do any of this at 7:50 a.m. when I'm driving, because it's a quick drive to the school and back, and I figure I'm good if I have shoes on, right?  I do pass people on my way home from the school sometimes, and I think...maybe I'm slipping a little. These people got dressed for the day like 2 HOURS ago.  I used to actually care about this stuff.

Today I knew I'd be a little early for the bank, so I went through the car wash, and got gas, then texted a friend I haven't seen in way too long, who I may see for lunch later (for which I will shower and possibly even shave my legs--I promise), to kill time.  I barely registered that the bank parking lot was...empty.   I KNOW.

At 9:04 a.m., I grabbed my banking stuff and walked to the bank door.  Yanked on it.  Nothing.

What the-- ??

I did the thing where you cup your hands on the glass and peer inside.  The place was dark.  My first thought was, Oh, great.  They've been robbed.  Followed by...seriously? No one showed UP on time?? 

There wasn't a sign on the door, so I drove through the drive-up window.  Like there's going to be some lady waiting there to help me, in the dark.  And THAT'S when I saw the sign that said:

"We will be closed Monday, Oct. 13th for COLUMBUS DAY"

Nice.

I have a smart phone that can tell me when I've eaten too much, but it can't remember to tell me not to get dressed on the ONE DAY OF THE WEEK when there's no one at the bank.

I'm celebrating by staying in my jams, for the rest of the day.


Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Ruin a Charming B&B

I have admitted to having had what amounts to a "bad experience" with a bed and breakfast inn, but there used to be a super funky, cozy, whimsical B&B that we loved on the pacific coast.  (Notice I say "used to").  It had theme rooms, and nothing was too quirky or offbeat for this place.  We loved it. We used to go when we were first married, then about twice a year with our kids when they were little, and it was magic.
This. 

Or this.    See? Magic.
If I had to give it a decor style, it would have been Whimsical Shabby Beach Bohemian.

We had a chance to visit it again after a 10-year gap of not going because.. LIFE. Unfortunately, I booked it over the phone, without going online or seeing any photos (after 10 years).  I missed my cue when I asked for our favorite room (and described its old theme), and the gentleman on the phone said cheerfully, "Oh, it's all been redone!  You probably won't even recognize it."

Hello.  UNDERstatement.

Long (long) story short:  They ruined it.

It bothered me so much that I actually wrote about a 2,000-word essay, recreating every corner of the place from memory, so we'd have a written record of what it once was.  Then I figured, that's too much information for a blog post.  Instead I composed a short list of How to Ruin a B&B.  I hope it's short.  It might be short.  OK, it's probably not going to be short.  But it won't might not be 2,000 words, you guys.     You're welcome.

Here goes:

1.  Empty every single room of every single thing but the carpet.  Have a yard sale and/or bonfire to get rid of every bit of furniture, artwork, whimsical linens, pillows, and potted plants.  Used stuffed animals for firestarters.  Scatter the ashes over the beach.

2.  Paint every surface of the building a comforting, boring, hotel-approved taupe-y beige color.  Add ivory trim for interest.  We wouldn't want any of the rooms to seem...different from each other.  Theme rooms are so 80's.

3.  Replace various daybeds and/or brass/iron/carved beam beds with all exactly matching dark hardwood sleigh beds. Any tables should be no-nonsense squares in the same wood finish.

4.  Replace all comfy overstuffed printed-fabric chairs, couches, and wicker seats with floral cushions with Pottery Barn dark leather club chairs.  Not too many, though.  Hotels are for sleeping, not reading books by a window surrounded with plants and happy assorted pillows.

5.  Replace all whimsical mismatched bathrobes with -- nothing.  You want a robe? Bring your own.

6.  Replace armoirs full of extra blankets, pillows, games and books with -- nothing.  Hallways are for elevators.  If you didn't bring a book, then go sit in the corner.  Of your room.  In that leather chair without a foot rest.

7.  Replace all whimsical printed curtains with white miniblinds.  Prints are out.


8.  Replace beachy watercolors and random sun/moon/stars plaques and quirky yard-sale art with exactly matching black contemporary frames, two per room.  Each should hold a white-matted monochrome photo of a single shell or starfish.  Nothing else.  You're here to sleep, not daydream.

9.  Replace magical shelf of random cups (especially that cup shaped like a panda) with solid white mugs.  Turn self-serve coffee bar full of assorted teas and cocoas into a drink station for staff only.  We will bring you your hot cocoa, but don't think we're going to be all, "Did you want a refill?"

10.  Replace old B&B breakfast menu with a full-service restaurant, with friendly but very slow service.  Serve one-egg omelettes and forget to refill waters.  All mix-and-match whimsical table linens and plates should now be solid white only. Take old beach-themed napkin rings to Goodwill.

11.  Play strictly Sinatra-era cocktail lounge music for background.  No one at the beach wants to hear music from any decade since then.

12.  Replace all previous mismatched colorful towels and bedding with strictly tan.  White sheets, tan...everything else.  All that random-color stuff went out with Cyndi Lauper.  Beaches are colorless; hotels should be, too.  Add one navy blue throw pillow, just for fun.  It is the OCEAN.

13.  Remove any old statuary, hammocks or mosaic-covered tiny seaside fireplaces from patio area and replace with matching teak breakfast tables, as many as possible.  We're a restaurant, not an ocean-front patio for sipping coffee at bistro tables with mismatched chairs.

14.  Chuck various potted plants and replace with -- nothing.  If you want plants, go for a walk.

15.  After making sure all traces of charm have been wiped completely away, leave old 'theme' name plates on the rooms' doors, because we wouldn't want people to think things have changed.

*face palm*     *shakes head*

P.S.  The beach was, in fact, lovely, and the stay was nice.  I was just a bit put off by the "progress" from a 70s/80s whimsy-themed B&B to...just another hotel.

The view is the only thing that hasn't changed.


Do you have a place you remember that is so magical and familiar that it's like part of the fabric of your past?  Have you ever revisited a place like that, only to find it completely destroyed by an "update"?


photos courtesy of Google, as usual