Quarterly update (part 3) — talking about the table and random other stuff

Okay, so what else has been going on?

  • Happy belated birthday to Amy, Mae, Tim, and Ethan! And happy birthday today to Isaac! We really had intended to send cards or something but my life is apparently insane and I can’t get anything done.
  • Congratulations to Dalton on those first steps! So exciting!
  • I’ve taken two classes now on how to use MS Access. I’m trying to learn a new way to keep track of all the information I manage at work and it’s being troublesome. It’s a whole new way of thinking about what I’m doing. I’m sure it’ll work out in the end, but it’s making me go around in circles while I try to figure it out.
  • I’ve donated platelets several times now. The last time went without a hitch and didn’t have any low-pressure problems. The time prior to that, however, was a failure because the pressure was so low I couldn’t even manage to get blood up to the machine to start.
  • On our way back from an appointment for Kay in Atlanta back in May, we stopped to help a woman and her daughter who were stuck on the side of the road with a shredded tire. We learned that we need to keep a better flashlight in the car, that we need a higher jack if we’re going to be able to help people who’ve lost their jack, and that we’d need a better tire iron to get those lug nuts off if they’ve lost that piece of equipment, too. Fortunately, a Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped and he had all those things and was able to get the women back on the road again. But we were able to help them stay calm and we learned some valuable lessons for ourselves in the process. One of these days, we’ll figure out which jack to pick up — hopefully before we actually need it again.
  • When Mom and Dad were here, the project that we decided to work on was a skinny little table/shelf that goes behind the sofa and has outlets on it, making it easy to access an outlet, even though the sofa is blocking that whole wall. I got the idea from a blog online that I’m too lazy right now to go find. And we kind of adjusted the idea as we went anyway. When they were here, Dad showed Justin how to run the electric by taking an extension cord and splicing in an outlet. And we cut the wood and stained it. After they left, I sanded the wood and Justin polyurethane it a couple times to give it a nice sheen. I don’t have any in-progress photos and the pictures I have of it in place aren’t super, either. But this is what I’ve got.
Behold! Our table shelf thing.
Behold! Our table shelf thing.

It’s just a little wider than the outlets, of which we’ve got two. One of them is a standard outlet. The other has USB charging slots. We had to order that one from Amazon because no where in town carried them in the nickle color we wanted.

USB charging at the outlet!
USB charging at the outlet!

But a gift card from work and an Amazon order later and we’ve got ourselves a really spiffy outlet.

The rope lights are only temporary.
The rope lights are only temporary.

We would like to have installed actual lights into the table, but they were really expensive, so we held off on that idea for now. In the mean time, we’ve got a rope light that we’d put up the stairs at the other house that didn’t have a home yet, and that’s filling in the gap for now. It’s a subtle light, but nice.

Back-lights behind the sofa
Back-lights behind the sofa

The outlet that’s down behind the sofa has one outlet that’s controlled from a switch at the door and one that’s on all the time. So the outlets are plugged into one and the lights are plugged into the other and it works perfectly!

The table isn’t actually put together all the way yet. The long piece was really torqued and we were having trouble figuring out how to actually install the support beams that we cut in order to give it some structural support. We’d really like to do it right with sunken screws and everything, but we don’t have the money right now to buy the kreg jig we’d like in order to do it right. So for now, it’s tucked back behind the sofa, hopefully getting a little more straight the longer it’s there, and when we’ve got the money for the tool, we’ll take it back down and do the supports. And then when we’ve got more money again, we’ll add a lamp or up-wash lights or something.

For now, though, we’re really happy with how it turned out. I’ve actually got my computer plugged into it right now. And it’s actually stained darker than we would normally go, but it almost perfectly matches the sofa, so I’m tickled at how that worked out.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for paying for all the lumber! And for all the help on figuring out how to put it together!

And that pretty much rounds out the news that I’ve got for the moment. More than what I’ve mentioned and I feel like I’m complaining about my life, which is actually pretty good, I’m just irritated at parts of it at the moment (55 days) and that’s putting a huge grumpy gray cloud over everything. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a while again. I’m not exactly trying to be reclusive or anything. I’m just trying not to be a whiner at everybody. My life is good. I’m just cranky. But things will get better.

Visiting Grandma Fritz and the MN Ren Fest and stuff

Okay, so I said I’d try to update more frequently again because there’s a lot going on right now and I’m sure you’d all like to know how it’s going.

Well, I don’t have a lot about the current stuff that I can talk about on here just yet because I’m not sure who reads this and since things are still in flux, I’m not willing to write about stuff that might still yet change. So. Yeah. It’s still in works and we will definitely have something to talk about in a day or two.

That said, I can write about the couple of days we had after the family reunion. We had such a great time hanging out with everybody at the family reunion, by the way! Always one of the highlights of the year. And I really need to go see what’s available for cabins in the driving-distance for everybody area, but let’s be honest. It’s not going to happen ANY TIME SOON.

OK. Monday, after seeing Luke & Krista and Mom & Dad off on their ways home, Justin and I went to the MN Renaissance Festival. Julie met us there (because she didn’t really feel comfortable standing around during our heartfelt goodbyes when she doesn’t really know anyone) and we wandered around for a while. It was a muddy mess from the rain the night previous, but the weather was still really nice and cool and it was lovely. I put on sunscreen three times during the day and I still got a sunburn. Go figure.

I’d forgotten how much bigger the MN faire is compared to the GA faire. It’s ENORMOUS. There are so many shops to look at and so many different stages with musicians and entertainment groups. They also have a petting zoo with either sheep or very fuzzy goats, I’m honestly not sure which. To my GREAT ENJOYMENT, the petting zoo is right next to the elephant rides where there were two beautiful creatures, one giving rides at that time while the other ate some breakfast. And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more happy, two baby highland cows walked over and into the pen just next to where I was staring enraptured at the elephants.

And that was when I started crying at the Renaissance festival. True fact. I stood there looking at those beautiful soft pink noses on those cows and those wonderful floppy ears on the elephants, knowing that as soon as I had the chance, I was going to go over and pet those goats (or sheep, whatever they were), and I was so happy in that space and time that I started to cry. Which Justin and Julie both thought was amusingly appropriate for me.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of letting me spend time in the petting zoo (I swear it was only 5 minutes, maybe 10, but they both insist it was at least 20), they dragged me away to look at the rest of the faire.

We saw a lot of beautiful handcrafted items, like musical instruments and jewelry. We saw a lot of shows and musical groups.We saw a terribly inappropriate gentleman doing bawdry poetry who would stop anytime anyone younger than 18 years old walked into hearing range and just stare at them uncomfortably. Or he’d switch over to “And the LORD saith to Moses!” in the hopes that they’d keep on walking. If they stopped, he walk over to the parents and ask “Do you know what kind of show this is? Do you REALLY want your children here?” It’s quite possible that watching him deal with the fact that kids kept stopping was more funny than his inappropriate poetry.

We saw the Tortuga Twins show, during which they completely lost the script at least 3 different times, made up jokes about mailing packages through the USPS and the Affordable Care Act, and one of them essentially mooned the entire audience. And then they were flashed by a member of the audience. This is a very different show than the one they do in Georgia! Turns out, that’s what happens when more than half of the people are drunk by that time of the day.

It was still a whole lot of fun, though! And I found this really gorgeous clay cup that has mountains and trees and flowers on it and as soon as I saw it (Justin showed it to me), it made my heart beat faster because it’s just THAT perfect! It’s sitting on the desk here next to me but I can’t get any pictures right now, so I’ll have to show you another time.

Anyway, it was a wonderful day at the faire and then we went back to Erica’s house to see the kids before they went to bed. After that, Justin, Julie and I went out to get some dinner, before coming back home, sending photos to Walgreens for processing, and then heading to bed.

The next morning, Justin and I got to walk with Chloe down to her bus stop for her first day of kindergarten and that was a terrifically fun time. I think I was the most sad of everybody there. What’s up with that?! She got onto that bus like a pro! Except for the part where her backpack was so big she almost didn’t fit in between the rows of seats. After seeing her off, we got all packed up and then sat and chatted with Erica for a while after that before heading off to drive down to Madison, WI.

That part of the trip was mostly uneventful. We were running later than expected, so I called and chatted with Mom about whether or not we should actually go and see Grandma Mick and we decided that it would probably be better to just head to Grandma Fritz’s and not worry about it. There are a lot of reasons behind that, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

We made it to Madison, picked up the photos from the Walgreens and then picked up the rental car and said our goodbye’s to Julie. She’s staying with her parents there until she flies out to Nevada to spend time traveling with Becky — her flight is actually Monday morning!

From Madison, we drove to Grandma’s house, where she and Dee had dinner just about finished. We chatted and I showed her the photos we’d brought for her. She didn’t think we were leaving them for her at first and was delighted to hear that they were hers to keep! We ate a delicious dinner and then honestly just sat around chatting and looking at photos and chatting some more. Paul came over to pick up Dee before it got too terribly late, but Grandma and Justin and I sat up talking until almost 11:00 at night! I learned more about Great-grandma Egan than I’d ever expected to know! Apparently she really did not like Grandma and made it very clear. It was actually quite sad to hear, but it emphasized to me so much more about what a gentle and kind woman Grandma Fritz is and how she’s possibly the most loving woman I’ve ever met.

And I want to guilt all of my siblings into going to go visit her because she is truly a DELIGHT and I don’t know why none of you go visit her if you’re in the area. Our cousins don’t visit her much, either, but she keeps track of all of us and keeps photos on her walls and on tables (because she ran out of wall space) and loves to hear about what we’re doing. You should at least be sending her letters and photos now and then. Justin and I are the least interesting, I think, because we don’t have adorable kids to ooh and aaah over and you should be allowing her that opportunity. And she’s great to chat with and has a great sense of humor and the 6 hours that we sat there chatting went by so quickly because we were having such a wonderful time.

Seriously. She’s a lovely woman and I wish you’d all spend more time thinking about her. I know that she is hard to talk with on the phone because she doesn’t hear well, but she pours over every letter and photo she gets and shows them off to anyone she possibly can. (Did you know Molly and Aimee both have several kids?) She’s so very proud of all of us and loves to hear about what we’re doing!

Write to your Grandma.

Okay, I’ll stop guilting you all now.

Justin and I spent a very short night (5 hours or so and I woke up just about every hour thinking I’d missed my alarm) before dragging ourselves downstairs where Grandma had juice and cereal set up and made me a cup of coffee (she told Justin it’s the first cup of coffee she’d made for anyone in 7 years). We spent as long as we could lingering over breakfast, but eventually we had to tear ourselves away and head to the Milwaukee airport and hop onto a plane.

Sadly, we didn’t get to sit in business class like we did on the way up. This was very disappointing, as you can imagine. But the flight was uneventful and we landed and collected our slightly more damaged luggage and got on the shuttle back to where we’d parked the car and then drove back home again. We got into town in the late afternoon, hauled everything into the house, showered FINALLY, and then went to get chiropractic adjustments because I NEEDED ONE.

And then I climbed into bed around 9:30 completely exhausted so I could get up at 5:00 to get ready for a long day at work. Which it was. And so was Friday. Saturday, we made it through all the washing and did some research on that other thing that’s going on. And we continued more of that research this afternoon. I promise I’ll write about that as soon as I can. I think we should have decisions made by Wednesday.

Anyway! That’s what I can write about for the last week or so. And it’s now 30 minute past my bed time and I have a meeting at 7:00 tomorrow morning that’s going to be NO FUN, so I’ve got to get some sleep.

I hope you’re all doing great! I’ll try to write again soon.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful time, filled with laughter and love! We’re spending the day at our house with Justin’s sister, mom, and grandmom all here for dinner. For breakfast, I made great-grandma’s rolls and as you can see, they were a hit.

Great-grandma’s rolls

That little bit that’s sitting on the top of the others was the one that has pecans in it. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one eating the plain one. More for me!! 🙂

I’m waiting for my rolls to rise and the turkey to cook. Justin’s making ambrosia salad and there’s gravy thickening on the stove. The potatoes are waiting to get heated in the oven. We’ve still got to put together the green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. The cranberries are in the fridge, ready for dinner already. It’s going to be delicious! Even though it’s a lot of work, it should all be worth it in the end.

For now, I’m going to go drink some hot apple cider, check on the rolls, and figure out what I’m doing with the stuffing (new recipe today). I hope you’re all having a wonderful time and a very happy Christmas! Lots of love to all of you from all of us!!

Merry Christmas!

Beach day

I’ve been trying to think of a simile to explain what my weekend was like. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that it was like a beautiful orchestral piece, but with one obvious piece of the melody completely missing sometimes. Beautiful, gorgeous harmonies! And then a strange silence where a violin should have been playing.

One of my coworkers, Christina, didn’t come to work on Thursday. Her husband found her Wednesday night; she was completely unresponsive so he took her to the hospital, where they put her in the ICU. Friday morning at work, we hadn’t heard anything new. I went home around noon. I got a call around 8:00 Saturday morning from Angela, the woman who’s taken over the admin duties, letting me know that Christina had passed away Friday afternoon. She never regained consciousness and the doctors still aren’t sure what happened or why.

She just joined my department a couple months ago. She moved here from Hawai’i. She leaves behind her husband and two little girls (4 and 11 years old).

I didn’t know her very well, but she was always kind and friendly, searching out answers for the way that we did things and how we could do things better. She had hair almost exactly like mine, except dark brown, and she played with it the same way that I play with my hair sometimes. And she’d always step just a little bit closer into a person’s personal bubble than expected. She was joyful. And she was patient. And she’s left an aching hole in the world where she’s supposed to be standing.

And that ache has hovered at the edges of my emotions since then.

Saturday morning, Jessi and Julie came over for French toast brunch. Then Justin and I called Chloe to wish her a happy birthday. And then we packed up our car and Jessi’s car and set off to Hunting Island for the afternoon. We played in the water, sat on the beach and read, and walked up and down the beach. We grilled dinner along the shoreline – which was a little complicated because we forgot a lighter to start the coals and tongs to flip the food and the pitas to hold the turkey burgers, but it all worked out in the end. And as the sun set, we packed it all up and went to the drive-in. Jessi drove home instead of staying for the movie and we mostly missed the first movie, but it was a terrible movie and we were happy to have missed most of it. The second movie was Pacific Rim, meaning AWESOME.

But it was a beautiful day to be at the beach. The sky was clear. The water was warm and free of jellyfish. Wind from the water kept the bugs away. We played bocce while waiting for the food to cook, once we finally got the coals going. We threatened each other with water guns filled with ice water from the cooler. At the drive-in, when the batteries died in the radio, we set up in the car, watching the movie with my feet hanging out the open window. And then we dropped Julie off at her house because she was entirely too tired to safely drive herself home.

Time spent with friends and family, having fun and enjoying each other’s company, just cannot be beat.

Sunday, we hobbled around, doing laundry and tidying the house and dealing with bug bites and aching muscles, but it was still *so* worth it.

Today at work, we dealt with Christina’s passing. A grief counselor came in for a staff meeting and was available for anyone to talk with. I embarrassed myself by crying in front of the whole team. Her mother and husband came in to clear her belongings from her desk. And at the end of the day, a notification went up on the company intranet regarding her passing, so now other people in the company are also aware of what’s going on in our department. That makes it easier and harder, because people ask what happened and it’s hard to talk about, but they also understand why we’re having a rough day.

So I’m glad that I had a shiny, happy Saturday afternoon to fall into instead of having nothing but the grief to dwell on.

How about some pictures to distract from the sad?

Jessi, the sun worshiper.
The rest of us pale-skinned geeks stayed in the shade from the palm tree. And umbrellas. And sunscreen.
See those little heads out in the water? That’s Justin and Julie playing on boogie boards. You will need to click on the photo in order to have a chance at seeing them.
The point of this picture is to look at how far away the water is from my toes, okay? Remember that for later.
I think the child in the center of this photo was trying to get the gulls to take him home.
Those pale beauties!
Justin needs a haircut.
We set up our picnic at the table directly behind our beach site. You can see it in a previous photo.
Our fantastic, tiny little charcoal grill. First, we had to borrow a lighter from someone on the beach because we forgot to bring one. And then the wind kept trying to blow out the coals. It took a ridiculous amount of effort to get this going. But it was worth the effort. Delicious food!
This right here? BEST PART OF THE PICNIC. And even better the day after.
Unfortunately, this container was not as water-tight as we’d hoped and the turkey burgers got completely waterlogged. We still grilled them, obviously. They were really tough, not tender at all, and we’re not sure if that’s because of the water or what it was. Also, they were supposed to be eaten in pita with Tzatziki sauce. We remembered the sauce (delicious!) but forgot the pitas.
Playing bocce while waiting for everything to cook. Playing on the beach is tricky because everything slopes toward the water!
Meanwhile, sunset through the trees is beautiful!
OK, so remember how far away the water was from my toes in the afternoon? Those lines in the sand at the left-hand edge of this photo are from the feet of our chairs. The water would have been UNDER my feet at this point! I wish I’d remembered to take the photo when the chairs were still up.


Menu for the picnic:

Menu set and prepared by Justin, with help from Julie, the night before, and then grilled by me.

Grilled corn
soaked in ice water all afternoon and then grilled in the husks over hot coals for 25 minutes, turned 3 times, with a covering of feta cheese mixed with sour cream.

Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Yogurt Sauce
(Tzatziki Sauce)

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Potato chips with spinach dip

 Unfortunately, we forgot the s’mores, but we were REALLY full by the end, anyway!