Monday, June 29, 2009

Making up is hard to do

Nah, I'm not talking about arguing with my husband because we (seriously) rarely have big disagreements. I'm in a quandary about make up.

I've worn make up, although not heaps of it, since I was in junior high. I don't wear foundation unless we're going to something really fancy or I know I'm going to have pictures taken. It always feels gooky and thick to me. I do wear SPF 30 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock on the recommendation of my dermatologist. He'd really prefer I wear something with even higher SPF but I just don't like the feel of them and I discovered that the SPF 45 stung my eyes when I perspired.

My real questions are about eye makeup. If I don't wear eye makeup my face looks completely naked. I have light/nonexistent facial hair so I (feel that I) have to wear eyebrow pencil, eye liner and mascara for my features to look normal. On a day when I'm going somewhere, I'll put a little eye shadow on too.

I've been trying to find a decent eye liner for the past few years and I'm getting really frustrated. If I use a powder one, it looks fine as I put it on and then ends up under my eyes almost right away so I look like a raccoon. If I use a creamy add-water one, putting it on is tricky and I can't get it on consistently. I tried the liquid ones but I don't like the line -- it's too definite and doesn't soften or smudge gently. I'm not trying to look like Elizabeth Taylor, just rim my eyes subtly with a fairly thin line but smudgier and softer rather than a razor-like black line.

I've been using Almay or L'Oreal mascara but lately it's depositing itself above my eyes like a bruise. Maybe the skin above my eyes is drooping but it's supposed to be waterproof mascara so I don't understand why it's rubbing off even when I'm not touching my eyes.

I don't want to look like a young girl, since I'm not, but I do want my makeup to look appropriate and tasteful. On our cruise last July, I had a makeup consultant with the girl in the perfume and makeup shop, mostly because we were getting our pictures taken that night and I knew she'd do more with my makeup than I would. I ended up buying some Smashbox powdered eyeshadow/liner that I like but it comes off very easily. I get discouraged after spending time getting my makeup to look nice and natural only to have it shift once I leave the bathroom.

I have a Sephora gift certificate that I want to use to go have another makeup consultation but I hesitate because I'll just buy stuff I think will work and then feel let down when it doesn't perform as I expect.

Any ideas? Recommendations? Hints and tips you can impart, please???

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday sightings

I have a bunch of things I want to blog about but none are earth shattering and of consequence by themselves. So here we go!

I really admire Erin and Mike for being open hearted and having 16 year old Manuel from Spain stay with them for the month of July. It's a big commitment to have an exchange student and, with all the other things that happen during the summer, what a wonderful experience and sacrifice they are making to welcome Manuel. I'm very impressed with our kids and can't wait to meet Manuel!

Both of the churches we attend, one Catholic and one Presbyterian, have done photo directories this past spring
. The Catholic church used Olan Mills; the sales person was quite friendly until we made it very clear we were only interested in getting the free picture. Then he turned curt and we were outta there in a flash.

The Olan Mills picture

The Presbyterian church used LifeTouch and the seller was personable even after he got the message that we weren't getting anything but the freebie. The Olan Mills picture is OK but not great. The LifeTouch picture is actually pretty good of both of us, surprisingly. Of course I don't like the extra arm flesh on my forearm mocking me but otherwise it's an accurate, reasonably attractive snapshot of how we're looking these days.

The LifeTouch picture

I go into picture taking sessions with very low expectations, especially since I have looked like everything from Raymond Burr to Quasimodo on serious drugs in some shots. Johnnie? He looks great in every shot - it's in his family's genetic makeup to flash the famous permagrin whenever a camera is within 50 feet of them.

Almost the same clothes (same colors at least although it's hard to tell that my sweater is blue in the upper picture) and such different results. The pictures were taken about two months apart.

I think I'll take the picture of the girls off the blog for a while and put ours up. We'll be getting new shots of the kids taken for their birthdays in the next couple months but until then, we'll stand in for them.

I received a wonderful prize from Carmen's blog this past week: a case of V8 V-Fusion juice and a really great LL Bean tote bag. And not just little bottles - eight 46 ounce bottles, mind you! The juice flavor is Goji Raspberry and it is really good. We had tried the juice once before and both granddaughters (suspicious of anything different) liked it.

Yummy juice and awesome tote bag prize!

We opened a bottle of the juice when it arrived the other day and sampled it. Quite yummy and eight ounces contains a half cup serving of vegetables and fruit. Hard to beat. The only downside (if there is one) is that an eight ounce serving also has 24 grams of sugars, albeit natural sugars. Thanks, Carmen -- it's an awesome prize!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy week

I am not altogether certain where the last seven days have gone but the calendar convinces me that they are indeed history.
  • Our friend Bridget and I walked 4+ miles three days. We met up with Johnnie on one of his last days of enforced time at the bus garage (children were already out of school) and walked with him.
  • Took off .8 of a pound ~ not much but at least it's in the right direction.
  • Planted a bunch of new plants.
  • Chopped down a smallish tree and started hacking away at too-large lilac bushes in an effort to get more sunlight on the front gardens. Somehow escaped getting poison ivy, to which I am very allergic, that I was standing in for a while.
  • Watched it rain and rain and rain (repeat for 24+ hours) last weekend.
  • Celebrated Father's Day for Johnnie and Mike with a seafood dinner last Saturday night.
  • Had Erin, Mike and the girls over for dinner and Mike helped get the new double sink base and top upstairs.
  • Stayed with the little girls while Erin had an almost 24 hour stay in the hospital for as yet undiagnosed problems, probably due to her Celia attack last weekend. She says the bread was delicious but definitely not worth a week's illness.
  • Decided I didn't like the color we had chosen for the bathroom and found something lighter in the same color family.
  • Spilled red wine on the grrrrrrrrrrrr
  • Cancelled our transatlantic cruise because of the expense (sob) and scheduled a (much more inexpensive) trip to California to see daughter Holly and son-in-law Mike.
  • Set up a combined birthday celebration for John's brother Ferd and me for late August.
  • Reserved a romantic one-night get-away for Johnnie and me for our anniversary.
So those are the highlights in bullets. Not much of anything momentous but here we are at the imminent arrival of July. Where the heck have the first six months of this year gone?'s by you?

Friday, June 19, 2009

See? It really is all about me

Courtney tagged me for this post. I have to disclose seven personality traits about myself and then I must pass this award onto seven* other blogs that deserve such fine recognition for the personalities that they share with the blogging world.

*I don't know seven other bloggers well enough (without tagging Courtney and Erin again) to do this so I'll just put down a couple at the end and hope they'll play along.

1) I don't like waiting. When I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go and hate waiting what seems like an interminable time to actually get going (yes, Johnnie, I'm looking at you). I'm the girl and it usually takes me three times as long to get ready as it does you. So when I am ready, you should have planned accordingly and be ready too.

2) I'm fairly impatient, probably as a corollary to waiting. I'm accused (gently, by my husband) of tailgating and he's probably right. I've tried to improve at that. I don't like walking behind aimless or poky people at the grocery store or in the mall - y'know, those people who get inside the door and then stop dead in their tracks two feet inside to look around as though they've never been there before or take off their sunglasses at a snail's pace.

3) I'm less uptight and more carefree about things than I used to be. That's a great side benefit of getting older. I'd like to think I have more perspective about things and can pick and choose my battles (or what gets my undies in a wad) more judiciously. And sometimes I just don't care if I am making a fool of myself in public or being goofy. Much more satisfying way to live, according to me.

4) I have a great mind for numbers and dates. As long as I don't have to perform mathematical functions with them. Ed Green, from third grade at Pardee Elementary School a thousand years ago, his birthday is April 19th. I have a list of about 60 or so people to whom we send birthday and anniversary cards each year. They marvel that I can remember. Oddly, I do remember most of their dates but have them written down so I don't mess up.

5) I bend over backwards trying to be considerate of other people -- strangers as well as family and friends. I stopped a guy driving down the road a couple weeks ago because his lunch (in a Tupperware container and sandwich bag) were perched precariously on the tool box in the bed of his pickup. I stopped a pickup hauling a trailer to tell them their lights were out on the trailer (I didn't mention that I almost rear-ended the @#$% trailer as a result). I hold doors open for people -- men are usually uncomfortable with that, especially older men. Sometimes I find things I can do for Johnnie, Erin or Mike that are thoughtful and maybe a little surprising.

6) I'm stubborn on some things. I won't go across the street to apologize to our neighbors for the issue we had with them two years ago (a story for another post, maybe), even though according to the firemen, we were wrong. I won't knowingly drive anywhere without my license even though Johnnie insists I'd have 24 hours to present my license and avoid a ticket. Even when my sister and I weren't talking for several years, I continued to send her birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards so I didn't come down to her level.

7) I'm fairly independent. I like being by myself and can entertain myself easily with books, television, sleeping or projects for days.

** Here's a bonus. I get bored easily. If I spend too much time at the computer without something actually compelling or work-oriented to do, I become lethargic and very bored.

So, that's a pretty good synopsis by personality traits of who I am. I hope there aren't a lot of surprises but if so, let me know!

As to tags, I'm going to tag Liz, Ree and Linda. Please?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ask and (sometimes) receive in a big hurry

Earlier this week on our morning walk, I was bemoaning the lack of growth in some of our sunshine-oriented plants in the front yard to our friend Bridget who loves to garden and has great gardens to show for it. And it struck me that the trees in our front yard have grown to the point where the sun doesn't actually get to the plants until late in the afternoon.

When I got home from the walk, I went out front for a long, critical look at the trees. Most of them are huge locust trees ranging from 50 to 75 feet (maybe higher) in height. But there were two smaller trees that could be taken down and let in quite a lot of light. (I really loathe removing trees because of their positive impact on the environment but these weren't contributing all that much anyway, or so I rationalized.) There are also some lilacs that can be trimmed back so the shade from them doesn't impact the garden. I can do that kind of thing myself and I love to get all sweaty and dirty doing yard work.

I mentioned my idea to Johnnie on Tuesday evening. We bantered back and forth about him getting the trees down and left it at that. While I was at BJ's with Erin and the girls Wednesday morning, Johnnie called me to say that he couldn't take the trees down himself because there were power lines and phones lines among the branches. BUT, there were two tree guys there who would take the trees down for $30 cash. What a deal.

When I came home after lunchtime, the trees were down, the branches neatly stacked on the curb for pickup today by the town (we love our town services that we pay through the nose for) and the trunk was cut and ready for loading into the truck to take to Erin and Mike's to dry and heat their house next year. Holy cow! It looks much brighter without the scraggly trees in there and, even without a great deal of sunshine today (it's raining), I can see it's going to make a big difference for the landscaping plants.

I never ever expected such quick action on my request. I'm just thrilled! I know serendipity played a part (the tree guys were at our neighbor's house trimming trees and Johnnie just happened by) but I'm thrilled and now, once it stops raining, I can get out there and do the remainder of the trimming.

Whoo hoooo!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

45 lessons on life

A Facebook friend had this listed on her Facebook page a bit ago and I thought it was worth borrowing (thanks, Kate!). Always good to get some perspective on life.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life.. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38.. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I spy...

I was reading Carmen's post showing where she blogs from and I thought I'd post my creative spot too. Unlike Carmen, mine stays in place permanently. I took the picture here on a particularly un-messy day. Usually there are piles on each wing of the desk so I feel as though I'm in a paper cave. I became inspired with the migration of the bedroom nightstands back into our bedroom and took the opportunity to clean up my desk. I also have just finished up several real-live work projects so all that stuff is now not strewn from one end of my desk to the other.

Johnnie has a mirror-image area and our backs are to each other. I'm the luckiest (according to me) because I have the windows I can look out. The only problem with the one to the left of my screen is the sunshine and glare in the afternoon. Usually the shade on this window is pulled down at least partially all afternoons so I can see the screen and not make the wrinkles in my forehead and around my eyes any more prominent than they are already by squinting all the time.

Wow. It really still looks pretty messy, doesn't it? But I know where everything is at most any time. I almost always have a mug of coffee and a glass of iced tea with me. There are chicken treats for the dogs and the pictures taped to the bottom of the screen are my inspiration (?) for getting svelte. Above the screen and to the left is an Ott light that is my source of sunshine and light, especially in the winter, my MBA diploma (gallons of blood, sweat and tears later), my bulletin board that mostly sports pictures and cards, a calendar and a white board for tracking whatever projects I should be doing from day to day.

Anyway, this is where I camp out when I'm working and quite a bunch when I'm just goofing off. If you see something in the picture above and wonder about it, just ask me and I'll explain. I'm big on having inspirational messages and pictures around, even though they become part of the wallpaper and I'm not sure if I really **see** them much any more.

How about your blogging and computer spot? Let's see it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yes and No

Courtney took a post of Lisha's and modified the answers for herself. I've done the same thing.

1. You can ONLY answer Yes or No.

2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages or comments you and asks. -- and believe me, the temptation to explain some of these will be overwhelming. Nothing is exactly as it seems.

Kissed any one of your Facebook friends? Yes.
Been arrested? No.
Kissed someone you didn't like? Yes.
Slept in until 5 PM? Yes.
Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes.
Held a snake? No.
Ran a red light? Yes.
Been suspended from school? No.
Experienced love at first sight? No.
Totaled your car in an accident? No.
Been in a vehicle at more than 100 mph? No.
Driven a vehicle at more than 100 mph? No.
Been fired from a job? No.
Fired somebody? No.
Sang karaoke? No.
Pointed a gun at someone? No.
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Yes.
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes.
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes.
Kissed in the rain? Yes.
Had a close brush with death? No.
Played spin-the-bottle? Yes.
Sang in the shower? Yes.
Smoked a cigar? No.
Sat on a rooftop? Yes.
Taken pictures of yourself naked? No.
Smuggled something into another country? No.
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? No.
Broken a bone? Yes.
Skipped school? No.
Eaten a bug? No.
Sleepwalked? No.
Walked a moonlit beach? Yes.
Rode a motorcycle? Yes.
Dumped someone? Yes.
Forgotten your anniversary? No.
Lied to avoid a ticket? No.
Ridden on a helicopter? Yes.
Shaved your head? No.
Played a prank on someone? Yes.
Hit a home run? No.
Felt like killing someone? No.
Cross-dressed? No.
Been falling-down drunk? Yes.
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? Yes.
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? Yes.
Puked on amusement ride? No.
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? Yes.
Been in a band? No.
Knitted? No.
Been on TV? Yes.
Shot a gun? Yes.
Skinny-dipped? No.
Gave someone stitches? No.
Eaten a whole habenero pepper? No.
Ridden a surfboard? No.
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? No.
Had surgery? Yes.
Streaked? No.
Taken by ambulance to hospital? Yes.
Tripped on mushrooms? No.
Passed out when not drinking? No.
Peed on a bush? Yes.
Donated Blood? Yes.
Grabbed electric fence? No.
Eaten alligator meat? Yes.
Eaten cheesecake? Yes.
Eaten your kids' Halloween candy? Yes.
Killed an animal when not hunting? Yes.
Peed your pants in public? Yes.
Pooped your pants in public? Yes.
Slipped into a movie without paying? No.
Written graffiti? No.
Think about the future? Yes.
Been in handcuffs? No.
Believe in love? Yes.
Sleep on a certain side of the bed? Yes.

Let's keep it going - copy it and substitute your own answers. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today's the day

As you might or might not remember, we've been sleeping in our guest bedroom since about mid-February. Today we put the bed back up and we'll get to sleep in our own bed tonight! Yippee! Our guest bed is very comfortable but the room is small and with two 50-60 pound dogs sprawled on the floor and the king sized bed, it's been way cozy. At least we have a very good idea of how comfortable our guest room is when we have guests staying with us!

I must say that I have really enjoyed having a window directly over our heads since we've been able to open the windows and catch a lovely nighttime breeze through the room. It was awesome last night listening to an approaching thunderstorm and being bathed by the breeze preceding the storm. The lightning strike somewhere close to our house wasn't quite as enjoyable but we didn't lose power so that's good. We'll have two windows again in our own bedroom but they're more offset so all breezes are nice but not directly overhead.

The new carpeting in the bedroom is awesome and the padding underneath has a spill guard protective layer so if one of the dogs barf or has an accident or I spill a glass of iced tea, it won't damage the hardwood floors underneath.

I was putting new outlet covers on the outlets this morning and thinking back to when we dismantled the bedroom and how completely different it will look once we get it all put back together. We've done so much to it and it looks fantastic. Pictures of the entire process will be forthcoming when it's all done. Make sure you have NoDoz in the house for that post.

Johnnie has a couple more courses of tile to put up in the shower, then install the sink base, toilet and vanity. Probably a week or so more work but we're getting close. Very close.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unhappy with me

No one else (that I know of) is unhappy with me. I am. I started going to Weight Watchers on April 29th. I've been there every week since then.

My progress:
-2.2 pounds week 1
+.8 pounds week 2
-2.6 pounds week 3
+.8 pounds week 4
+1.8 pounds week 5

Total net loss in five weeks 1.4 pounds -- and that's because I wore jeans the first time and have been in lighter clothes every week since. So effectively no loss at all.

Ridiculous. I'm paying $40 a month for this. To continue to bobble around, weight-wise, and not really get my act together for a solid seven days in a row. I'm so angry with myself I could just spit. I look at my weekly tracker and I have been consistently at or over my points allowance most days. I'm playing a game with myself and I'm always the loser but in the wrong way.

In the past I've spent months going to a nutritionist for about double the cost of Weight Watchers but you get one-on-one sessions and someone looking objectively but critically at what you're eating and doing for exercise. I played that one too.

I know exactly what I need to do. Why is it that my penchant leans so heavily to self sabotage rather than self improvement and weight loss? I carry one of the grandkids up the stairs and think that their weight is the same as what I want to lose. How much easier climbing the stairs would be on my knees if I can focus long enough to lose the 30 or 40 pounds.

I'm determined to buckle down and focus on getting this done. I will do it. We are going on a cruise in two and a half months. I don't want to look chubby and I want to feel good about myself. It's time I stopped screwing around and get serious.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fundraising and human nature

I love marketing and writing but I strongly dislike doing sales and making sales-y phone calls. Since I'm a co-chair of a 5K in October, I'm on the fundraising end of the profit we need to make to hold the race and keep the agency going for another year. We're trying to raise $20,000 this year - a huge stretch goal from the $10K we made last year. I sincerely believe we can do it with attracting more runners and walkers as well as finding more sponsors with deepish pockets.

We're a small agency helping women and children who have experienced domestic violence (not a popular, trendy charity like Ronald McDonald or breast cancer) and $20K is a lot of money for us. It spells the difference between keeping the doors open so we can help our clients or closing down.

I spent the afternoon yesterday making about 40 calls to various companies in the area to follow up on letters we sent to them a couple weeks ago about sponsorship for the race. I will be calling the rest of the list this afternoon. I don't like making these calls and I've found just about every excuse I can legitimately summon to avoid doing them. "It's Monday, no one ever likes these calls on Monday." "It's too soon after the holiday, they probably took more days off." "It's lunchtime, never a good time to call someone." You get the idea. After a while, even I was calling myself on my excuses. When even I don't believe myself, it's time for action.

I decided yesterday that I had to keep my butt in the chair and make at least 10 calls before I could (a) read another blog or (b) play another game of Solitaire. It worked because I finally got into it and just kept plugging away making calls through about half the list that needed to be called.
No one likes getting these calls any more than I enjoy making them. I try to stay upbeat and speak clearly and relatively slowly so they can absorb what I'm calling about.

Now it's occurring to me that this is another interesting lesson in human nature: how people react when you call them, if you get them at all; whether they actually return your call as you have politely begged; whether you ever get anyone at that company to talk with you and when you decide that follow up calls have left the reminder stage and now border on harassment.

I talked with a real estate company owner (standing in for Chicken Little) who said, effectively, "good luck in this economy sucka." I'll be fascinated to see how HIS business thrives in the next 12 months.

The president of another company called me back late yesterday and explained that they usually sponsor Little League teams and other child-oriented charities. Nice conversation, nice man. I talked to another business owner who explained that he's on the board of another non-profit that's working with children in Africa and his money will be funding that this year. Another great call and an obviously legitimate reason for no contribution.

Today I received a call back from the head of a large, prestigious advertising agency who wasn't too big to call to say they couldn't participate this year. Another small business owner's wife called today apologizing that she hadn't sent in her sponsorship yet and would do so immediately.

So, out of 40 calls, so far I've had five responses, just over 10 percent, and I've left messages for 30-some more. Considering it another lesson in the amazing variety of human nature and reactions helps me pick up the phone to make the calls. No matter that I'll have to call 30+ people back a couple more times before I figure they're avoiding me or just plain darn rude.

Projects like this help me understand people a little more and ultimately refine my own reaction when I get calls like this so I don't sound like "good luck sucka" Chicken Little guy. Sure, it doesn't really matter because they're faceless when I call (so am I to them for that matter) and I'm just another phone number and equally faceless when I get these calls. But I do have to live with my own reaction and going through this exercise helps me figure out what I must do so I can tolerate myself when I'm the faceless target as well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gray? Gray? We don't see no stinkin' gray!

Last Saturday, Erin and I went to Cleveland in their van to pick up the top part of our new entertainment center. Johnnie and I had attempted to get it three weeks ago but the trailer we rented was too small (by inches) and the top was dropped and damaged in the process of trying to wedge it into the trailer.

So Erin and I went this past weekend. By.Ourselves. No kids, no husbands. Just the two of us. Four hours there and four hours back. In between, a quick lunch with Ferd and Mare and a visit to the hallowed halls of Marc's, conveniently located in the same strip mall as the furniture store from which we needed to retrieve the top. Mike stayed home with their daughters. Johnnie stayed home to grout the floor tile in the bathroom we've been working on since February.

Got a call from Johnnie at about 10:30am. He's at Lowe's trying to decide on grout colors. (Sidebar: we had already bought a bag of too-dark grout, returned it and bought a second bag of grout in a lighter shade of gray earlier this week.) Huh??? The debate ensued with me not having any grout color chips to use as reference. (Sidebar #2:This is all complicated by the fact that Johnnie is red-green color blind. So anything red looks kinda brown and greens look kinda grayish. He's taught himself to almost unerringly know what the real color is he's looking at but sometimes he second guesses himself and needs help. That's my job.) We had already picked out a grout color and me -- the one who sees colors just fine, thanks -- said it was the right color. Whatever.

Seven minutes one second later I'm off the phone after assuring him that whatever color grout he got would be just fine with me. I trusted him, yadda yadda yadda. And I truly do trust him. Even if he doesn't always trust himself.

Erin: "Y'know, whatever he picks, you've gotta tell him you hate it, right?"
Me: "Yeah, I probably should. That would freak him out."
Erin: mischevious giggle and we resume talking nonstop all the way to Cleveland.

11:37 the phone rings again and it's Johnnie. He's ***still*** debating the grout color and he's still at Lowe's. OMG. He's settled on Smoke Gray, it looks like the right shade, and on and on. Six minutes 41 seconds later, I've assured him again.and.again. that the grout color sounds fine and don't worry.

Erin, smirking: "You totally have to tell him you don't like it."
Me: "Yeah, I'll do it."

We get to Cleveland, pick up the top, have lunch with Ferd and Mare, visit Marc's (it was kind of a let down for both of us, anticlimactic actually), gas up and we're back on the road. Erin sleeps from Cleveland to the Pennsylvania-New York border, then she awakens and we commence talking again, almost nonstop back to Rochester. We've spoken to Johnnie a couple more times and the grout is in and looks good, according to him.

Me: "Let's both go up and look at the grout and tell Dad that it looks kinda green."
Erin: "Oh yeah - if we both do it, without looking at each other, he'll really buy it."
Me: "Especially if we tell him it looks green since he doesn't see green well anyway. Yeah, let's do it!"

We get to our house and eventually go upstairs to look at the grout. Erin leading the parade, followed by me and then Johnnie.

Erin,turning on lights then looking at the floor: "Dad, it looks good but ... it looks kinda green ..."
Me, coming into the room: "Hmmmmm. Wow - it looks great, honey, but ... there is a sort of green tinge to it ..."
Johnnie, peering over our shoulders, seeming calm but a bit anxious around the eyes: "Really? No, I got Smoke Gray so it can't be green!"
Johnnie retrieves a plastic pail of grout to show us: "See? It's Smoke Gray. That's what I got. It was lighter when I put it down and it's gotten a bit darker as it's dried."
Me: "Don't know what to tell you sweetie but it looks green to me. What can we do?"
Erin: "Can you scrape it out?"
Johnnie, now looking tense and a bit frantic: "No! I can't scrape it out - it's in there. There's nothing I can do about it. It's Smoke Gray, honest."
Me: "Do they have colors we can put over the top of it?"
Johnnie, seeming more concerned now: "I don't think so."
Me: "Well, I guess we'll have to change the wall color so the blue doesn't clash with the greenish color of the grout. It's kinda lime-y or something like that. (pause) You really can't see it?"
Johnnie: "No - I only see gray. Well it looked a little more aqua when I was putting it in but all I see now is gray."

We finally couldn't stand it any longer and started cracking up.

Me: "Nah, we're just kidding. It looks great and it's just fine. There's no greenishness to it. We're just sh**tting you!"
Erin: "Yeah, pretty funny, huh?"
Johnnie: "NO! It's not funny! You really had me scared. My heart is racing and the adrenaline is pumping. Oh my Lord! How could you do that to me?!?"

Erin and I were falling all over each other, cracking up. Johnnie was trying to calm himself down with little success. We three went to one of our favorite places for dinner and kept chortling (well, two of us chortled) from time to time about pulling the wool so firmly over Johnnie's eyes.

He still doesn't think it's funny, even two days later. He called his brother Ferd yesterday (Monday) and related the prank to him. Ferd found it completely amusing and laughed quite hard at Johnnie's retelling of it.

Normally I am not on the giving end of any type of pranks - I just don't think that quickly and usually don't have the opportunity to really cook one up. However, with our eight hours in the car together and a willing accomplice, we did a great job. This one will live in infamy within the family for a long time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Irony is everything

I was first married at the tender age of 20 to a man who is seven years my senior, named Greg. He and his parents were the epitome of a solid family in my perception at that time. (My father was an alcoholic and my mom a classic enabler, if not an alcoholic herself, I could never decide. So my teen years were pretty well messed up.)

Anyway, it took me two years (from 18 to 20) to convince him but we finally got married. Greg's parents lived about 50 feet from us and he and his dad operated a family excavating business. Greg was the brawn of the outfit and worked tirelessly for his dad, usually six and sometimes seven days a week all year round in broiling heat and frigid temperatures. It is a brutal business.

Within a year of our getting married, the real family dynamics became clear and the honeymoon for me with their "perfect" family ended: Greg worked for his dad but his dad and mom completely controlled the business and he was merely the brawn. We had many discussions about what would happen when his dad retired and ultimately Greg decided to go to the local community college. After two years of working those tireless hours and then going to school at night, he graduated as an electronic technician. Erin was born about a year or so into this process.

Greg's parents were never on board with his going to college but he and I felt he had to have some career in place when they decided to stop the business. It was very clear that he would never inherit the family business and have the opportunity to keep it going. Plus, electronic technicians don't have to work outside in sewers and such 12 months a year. So it looked pretty attractive.

After graduation, Greg had one interview at General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan and got the job. You have **never** seen a more proud and ecstatic man. He was 33 when he graduated. Greg's parents were never good at building his esteem so getting this job was an incredible feat in a number of ways for him.

He has worked at the GM proving grounds ever since. He worked for years in current year engineering and now he calibrates the crash test dummies for barrier and other tests.

Aside: We're fortunate in that we overcame our marriage breakup issues years ago (at his new wife's urging) so we could co-parent Erin and help her grow up as unaffected as possible given the situation. They visit and stay with us, we go visit them. We've even gone on weekend vacations with them. We're friends and that's been much easier on everyone for the past 30 years.

The irony comes in that General Motors is expected to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy today. Today is also Greg's birthday. I'm sure that will weigh heavily on Greg's mind today.

While GM has gone from having 615,000 employees to 88,000, they will never have a more loyal and dedicated employee than they do in Greg. He has declared numerous times that he will never retire -- he turns 66 today. They will seriously have to carry him out boots first to get him to leave. He rails about them and has never lost his feistyness about some of their bureaucratic convolutions but he loves what he does. He is extremely lucky that he has been able to work for a great company but not at an office job (he would never have made it in one of those) for all these years - since 1976.

Of all the days for GM to officially go into bankruptcy, it is just a crowning blow to have it happen on Greg's birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Goodwrench!