Archive for January, 2010

Good and bad

In my opinion, of course.  Today was Kate’s Birthday (Observed), which meant having lunch at the Chinese place at Hilldale and seeing two movies at Sundance.  Hooray!  Sort of.  First, the Chinese place was packed and I worried we wouldn’t get a table and then I ordered wrong: broccoli in garlic sauce.  Not bad, just a million pounds of broccoli (and only broccoli)  in a really light sauce.  Just a lot of something that was just ok. 

On we moved to the movies.  First movie of the afternoon was Crazy Heart.  If Jeff Bridges does not win the Oscar for Best Actor and that Crazy Heart song by T Bone Burnett does not win Best Original Song, I will be very, very, very upset.  But not surprised.  Because sometimes the Oscars just get it wrong.  Crash anyone?  Forrest Gump?  Need I go on?  I suspect not.  In a nutshell, I really liked this movie.  I dare say, I loved it.  I think it could have been edited down a bit more, but the story was grand, the acting superb (Colin Farrell was so impressive as a country crooner, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe that’s Colin Farrell,” which is maybe a bad thing, but not really; and Maggie Gyllenhaal was much less annoying than usual and at times quite believable), the music awesome and it just had that x factor, which often means the presence of Robert Duvall.  To be completely honest, I think I had higher hopes for this movie than it actually delivered, but it came close, which is saying a lot since I was really excited to see it.  One of the few things I didn’t like was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s turquoise earrings.  Yes, I get it: she lives in Santa Fe.  I’m sure someone thought it would be a nice, possibly authentic touch, but it distracted me and everytime she had them on I thought, “Yes, costume person, I understand that she lives in New Mexico” and then I would think about whether I was annoying for being annoyed.  A bit too obvious for me.

Now for the bad news.  And I know some of my readers are not going to like me very much for this and I have been sitting here trying to figure out the best way to put this.  A Single Man.  Hmm.  Well, where to begin?  How about here: I did not hate it.  But I didn’t like it.  At all.  I thought it was a cinematic piece of art that was almost completely hollow.  I had been told that it was “depressing,” which I suspected it would be from the entirely vague preview.  But I actually didn’t find it depressing, which is probably saying something bad about me, but it’s true.  I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care about Colin Firth.  I didn’t care about Julianne Moore.  I didn’t care about the college kid.  Or Carlos.  Or Susan (and why was Ginnifer Goodwin in this role?  It was all of about five lines).  The only thing I really cared about was the stunning mid-century furniture and architecture.  And that didn’t seem to be in any real danger or emotional strife, so I didn’t worry about it.  Sometimes I see a depressing movie and get really sad, not necessarily because I care about the people, but because the level of dysfunction is so high that it makes me uncomfortable, anxious and extremely sad.  But here, the subject was depressing — a guy really misses his true love — but I just didn’t care.  I mean, I was sympathetic.  Wow, that’s awful and sad to lose the person you love.  And moving on…I don’t want to watch him for 100 minutes do things like take the bread out of his freezer, clean out his safety deposit box and smoke cigarettes.  Call me callous, but it’s not interesting to me.  And beautiful cinematography can only take a movie so far.  You have to have a story, something to latch onto, something to care about.  And I just didn’t.  And actually, that cinematography?  It was a little much.  The clothes were great, the house stunning, but enough already.  This was a movie that was so clearly made by someone who is obsessed with aesthetics that he forgot how to edit (something a fashion designer actually should be aware of after watching even one episode of Project Runway) and certainly did not care about telling a good story.  I really just did not like it.  I found it to be a pretty big bore.  Pretty (at times), overdone, and dull.


Kate and Aaron v. The Kitchen

As you may remember, the last time we talked, Aaron and I were in the midst of a kitchen remodel.  Well, not much has changed.  Except it has.  I’ve been sorta dreading writing about this because there’s a lot to say and it’s all hopelessly boring.  But write I must, as the blog must go on!

Where to begin…Well, Reader, when last we spoke, I was raving about my new top light.  It continues to astound me how non-annoying I find it.  The light went into the empty kitchen on Thursday the 21st.  All hell broke lose on Friday the 22nd. 

Friday morning, the installation folks came.  One of whom looks just like Bruno Kirby.  Bruno Kirby is clearly the head honcho and really the only one who speaks to me.  They have at it.  Cardboard is flying, saws are spinning and hammers are hammering.  Aaron and I hide out with a confused and sometimes frightened Grace in the bedroom.  From time to time I check on the goings on in the kitchen, but mostly I stay put.  The cute eletrician calls and asks to speak to Bruno because he needs to know if he can come later in the day to do the final electrical work (not really clear on what this is).  Bruno gives the ok, and goes back to work.  Time marches on.  The electricians enter the house and I discover that the kitchen is almost done.   I mean, the cabinets are pretty much all up and the crew is just hanging doors and putting in shelves.  What?  When did this happen?  Pretty soon they’re just asking me how I want the hardware put on.  And I answer, “Um, what do you think?”  And then the hardware goes on and pretty much…Poof!  There’s a new kitchen in my kitchen.   And I love it.  The electricians are going up and down the stairs and then, before I know it, the microwave is in place.  Wow.  Things happen fast if you hide out with your dog and have five strangers in your house and a lot of cabinets and appliances. 

But there is an issue.  Of course there is.  Well, a couple.  One is that I had noticed that one of the doors wasn’t looking so good — the thermofoil treatment on the doors, which makes them look all sleek and chic, was peeling off.  Bruno had said to me, “No problem.  We can get you a new door.”  So, everything appears to be in place except this one door (and a couple of shelves).  Ok.  I can live with that.  But in looking at the glorious new kitchen, I notice that the cabinets are not flush against the side wall.  To prevent them from looking weird, I guess, they put a piece of white wood in between the wall and the cabinet.   I can’t express how dumb this looks.  I should have taken a picture.  So, I said, “What’s the deal here?”  And Bruno explained it to me.  I said, “But they don’t have pieces that match the maple color of the cabinets?”  Bruno said, “Well, they do, but they didn’t send any.”  Um, hmm.  I just keep staring at it and saying, “But that looks really bad.  It looks so distracting and cheap.”  It is at this point that The Bearded Guy Who Looks Like He May Have Escaped From the Big House says, not to me but to Bruno, “We could just use the damaged door, cut it up and put it on there.”  Genius!  And so it happens.  And now it looks great.  Thanks Bearded Guy!

Ok, so we’re feeling pretty good at this point.  Except that we realize that we have a beautiful new refrigerator in our garage and need to find a way to get it into the house.  Hmm.  Now remember, please, that the Maytag folks would not deliver it to the house because that was an additional fee that we did not pay for.  Silly us.  When we were told that it was $30 for delivery, but an extra $39 for installation, we passed on the installation since we didn’t need it.  The plumber installs the dishwasher and the electricians install the microwave and the refrigerator and the stove just plug in, so why would we pay an extra $39?  Seemed silly.  Well, again, silly us.  That $39 gets you those appliances in your house.  And the $30 gets them in the garage, which is probably 30 yards and seven steps away.  In hindsight, the $39 was a bargain for what turned out to be a long, painful and expensive process.

  • Alternate side parking ticket that Aaron got because we had to park on the street because the appliances were housed in the garage? $20.
  • Dolly rental from U-Haul?  $10.55 [Weirdly, if you are renting a dolly, they do not insist on a credit card deposit, but instead call your friend — in this case, me — to make sure that the person renting has a friend that U-Haul can call in case the person does not return the dolly.]
  • Appliance sticker cost to put old refrigerator on the street for the city to pick up?  $35

So, as you can see, even the most rudimentary math skills tell you that the $39 would have been a steal.  And that’s not getting into the labor that was used or the years that were taken off of our life in getting the enormous refridgerator into the house.  Getting the thing on the dolly in the first place was a chore, but it was nothing compared to the stairs.  Oy, the stairs.  It took both Aaron and me using all of our weight and strength and courage and prayers to get that thing up those stairs.  On every stair, I felt like it was us versus the refrigerator and gravity and that the latter had just as much a chance as winning the battle as we did.  I think we prevailed only because, ultimately, we wanted the fridge in the house more than it wanted to be left outside.  Though, at one point, Aaron suggested we just become one of those hourseholds that have an outdoor fridge.  Anyway, when we got it to the top of the stairs, the real fun began.  Would it fit through the doorway?  Aaron measured.  Doorway 33 inches, fridge 31 inches.  Hmm.  So, why wasn’t it fitting?  Doh!  Because he didn’t measure the handles — it was going in sideways.  Electrician #1 to the rescue!  He says, brilliantly, “Usually those handles just come off with an Allen wrench.”  Well, Aaron has Allen wrenches!  This is no problem.  Off go the handles!  Hmm.  It still won’t go in.  The fridge is on a wooden pallet that is sticking out on both sides and is causing even more problems than the handles.  Electrician #2 to the rescue!  He says, in a stroke of geniosity (yes, geniosity), “Why don’t I get my saw and we’ll just saw them off?”  Hooray!  Yes, why don’t we.   Off goes the troublesome part of the pallet!  Electrician #1 returns (he had been in the garage unpacking our stove so he could put a cord on it) and, along with Aaron and Electrician #2, gets the fridge into the house.  Super hooray!  I am not doing anything at this point except singing the electrians’ praises to myself.  And smiling.  $65+ and a bundle of bruises, the refrigerator is home.  And then the electricians discover that the pallet is screwed into the fridge.  Weird, I thought, but true.  So off they go to get some super duper socket wrench or something and they take over and take the damn thing off.   Hooray for electricians!  We would not have that thing in the house were it not for them.  Aaron takes the old fridge out, moves the new one into place, and moves the stove into the house as well.  All on his own because at this point I am trying to win the battle against the cardboard.  There is a pile of cardboard in our living room that is so big, I wonder if we should just move.  After approximately 15 trips back and forth from the house to the garage, I declare myself the (exhausted) winner!  I should have taken a picture of the garage, though.  The car fit in nicely, but it was nearly impossible to get into the thing and if you managed that, you dreaded coming back home because you weren’t sure you’d be able to get out.  Yesterday was recycling day so some of our problems in that regard have been solved.  It’ll probably take one or two more such days before our garage is back to its normal, uncrowded, cardboard-free self. 

So, pictures.  They’re coming. 


Light bright

My prayers have been answered!  The old, nasty, long, fluorescent light fixture that I barely tolerated (but never used) for almost five years has been replaced by a lovely, unobstrusive, plump and round, soft-white bulb-taking fixture.  I am elated.  I’m not completely in love with the new light, but I think I’m in love with it as much as can be, considering  top lights and I are generally enemies.

Let there be (soft and nice) light!

As you can see, this means that the ceiling is going to have to be painted.  But not today.  Today we are painting the walls.  And tomorrow the cabinets (well, most of them) will be installed!

Oh!  And I was right to worry about the appliances.  Or, rather, I was right that it wouldn’t work out.  Appliances can be delivered to the garage for $30 (what we paid), but it costs an additional $39 to put them in the house.  Who knew?  Especially since it was way more difficult for them to put the goods in the garage — the dude slipped on the ice while toting the fridge on the dolly and he went down — than it would have been to drop them in the condo.  We didn’t really understand this (yes, we both have a couple degrees in higher education) at the time we purchased the stuff.  We thought the extra money was for installation (and it actually is) that we didn’t need because we’re already paying for it with our other contracted stuff.  But, last night we thought we’d ditch the fridge (having been told the $30 delivery fee included a one-for-one swap) — instead of moving it downstairs — but no dice.  Because we had not moved it to the garage, they would not take it.  So, the old stove is gone because we managed (barely) to move it to the garage last night.  I will spare you the gross details of that adventure.  I will say, though, that the nasty patch of ice on our sidewalk I normally worry that I’ll take a dive on came in quite handy for scooting the stove for a bit.  New stove and new refridgerator are in the garage and we’re unsure how, when or if they’ll make it into the house.  We carried the dishwasher in together, which wasn’t pretty.  Aaron carried the microwave in all by himself, which was super pretty, of course.

Too much information on kitchen remodel?  Let me know.

On the eve of the demo

I’ve been avoiding posting about what is actually going on in my home for about two weeks now.  I can avoid it no longer, though, as the demolition gang is set to appear tomorrow at daybreak.  Well, between 9 am and 11 am, but morning in any event.  As you know, we are in the midst of a dramatic kitchen remodel.  ‘Dramatic’ may be too strong of a word, but to someone who has never called a plumber (knock on wood) or an electician (double knock), it feels dramatic.  And everything’s going, except the walls.  So, two weeks ago the cabinets were delivered.  Since that time, the place has looked like this:

Home sweet home

And this:

View from the kitchen to the space formally known as the dining area

View of the space that was formally known as the dining area

And this:

View from the bedroom door. Good morning!

It’s hard to capture a picture of the sheer horror that is felt when stepping into the condo, or out of the bedroom, but I’m certain you can use your imagination to graft a sense of it on to these pictures.  It’s a disaster!  Why, you may be asking, would we sit with these boxes in our already small space for two weeks?  Good question.  The cabinets arrived on January 5th from KraftMaid.  On January 6th, the construction folks (Crew2 from the Home Depot) arrived to “inspect” the cabinets.  They opened all the boxes (in theory anyway, I’m not totally convinced they did) to make sure all the right parts were there and that nothing’s damaged.  They don’t want to start “the install” — everything in construction parlance has nicknames; it’s not “an inspection” it’s “the inspect” — until everything’s right.  Well, of course, everything was not right.  One cabinet was damaged and some molding or something was missing.  So, they left the house promising to order the right replacements and they’d be back when that was done.  And here we sit.  We heard an estimate of 7-10 days, and the Crew2 project manager, Brian, scheduled the demo for tomorrow, January 20th.  But…we just heard yesterday that KraftMaid will be making their delivery on the 26th.  I almost started to cry.  Another week living with these houseguests whom I want to stay permanently, but not in my dining room! Or in my hallway.  Or in my living room.  I coudn’t face it; instead of panicking, though, I pretty much went into a stoic-denial mode.  I sent off an extremely brief email to Brian that said something like, “Cabinet will not arrive until Jan. 26.  Ugh.”  I anticipated him rescheduling everything again.  To my surprise, though, he said we could go ahead on our current schedule and nothing too awful will happen.  He said the cabinet we’re waiting for is a wall cabinet (aren’t they all in a galley kitchen?) and they can wait to do those until next week — I think he means upper wall.  So, we’re on.  Old cabinets out tomorrow.  Yay!

Ok, hold on there, buster.  The problem with taking the old cabinets out tomorrow is that Habitat for Humanity, to whom we are donating the old cabinets, does pick-ups on Wednesdays only.  And tomorrow’s a Wednesday.  And while the nice woman at the resale shop wanted to work with me and call in the afternoon to see if their truck could come get them then, when I talked to her today she said she was really frazzled and would prefer to do it next week.  So, where will the old cabinets go for a week?  The garage, I suppose.  Which means parking the Buttermobile on the street, which you wouldn’t think would be a big deal but it could mean a ticket due to my neighborhood having crazy parking rules because it’s so close to campus and my old high school.   In any event, I’m going to try not to think about that.  Or about how four large appliances are entering the place on Thursday and I have no idea where they’re going to go.  Tonight it is all about taking down the kitchen, which I am only semi-embarrassed to report has fallen mainly to Aaron.  I cleaned out several cabinets, but it’s a small space and, let’s face it, I was getting in the way. 




The playoffs

I told myself I wasn’t going to post about this, but I’m desperate to do something to cleanse my system of the anxiety and depression and, well, just emotion that I still feel in my heart (despite coating it in Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc and lots of episodes of Law & Order).  Maybe writing about it will make me feel better, or at least make me feel less. 

It’s tough being a sports fan.  I have a working theory that it’s actually tougher being a female sports fan, but I’ll get to that later.  The thing is, that with any sport there’s really only one desired outcome: to win.  And only one team can do that at a time.  And in a league like the NFL’s, only one team can do that each season; that is, win the Superbowl.  Anything less than that is, by definition, disappointing, even when we all know that only one of thirty-two teams can achieve this goal.  It’s crazy to let your emotions become so involved in something you (a) have no control over and (b) are extremely unlikely to get the results you want.  Right?  Right?  I think so.  But year after year I invest considerable amounts of emotional (and sometimes finanical) currency in these teams that can’t help but, at least sometimes, let me down.  I mean, I refer to them as “we” for crying out loud.  And I never even think that’s weird until some non-sports fan lets me know it is.

I love the Green Bay Packers.  I’m so proud of this season and so impressed with how they played.  I think today’s game had some major errors — many of which are to be blamed on Green Bay and, specifically, their defense.  Of course.  The defense, actually, seemed to have forgotten to play the game.  And I’d like to blame the officiating, officiating and the blown calls on Fitzgerald for offensive interference (more officiating, I know, but I can’t find a decent link to an article about it yet). And I will to some degree, but the truth is that it doesn’t really matter because the game is over, the season is over and the Green Bay Packers are heading home.  More importantly, though, is something that I know now, even in my disappointed and sad state:  While they may not be Superbowl-bound this year, they still are , as they always will be, my favorite team of any team that ever was and ever will be.

A long overdue word, though, to Aikman, and everyone else on national tv, they’re the green bay packers, or the GREEN BAY PACKERS.  But they are not, and never have been, as far as I know, the GREEN bay packers.  Or the green BAY packers.  Analysts’ emphasis is always off, which seems particularly weird for a fairly well-known team and an easy-to-prounounce town.

As for women.  Here’s my thinking.  Women, in general, are less likely to be sports fans than men, particularly fans of such sports as football and basketball.  I have no statistics to back me up, just 34 years of experiencing life as a female with very few female friends that share my interest.  And I have female friends, so don’t try to get me on that.  So, there are fewer women to talk to about sports, which can be sad because talking to men about sports often gets competitive and aggressive and sometimes you really just want to talk it out.  See, that’s what I want.  As a woman.  To talk it out.  About how I’m thinking and feeling about it.  And not to one-up someone else with different statistics or some writer’s theory.  Well, sometimes anyway.  And without being able to do this as much as I’d like, it’s rather isolating.  In any event, as long as I’m stereotyping myself and my friends (read: accurately describining the way things are), I’ll hit you with my second point.  Women are generally more emotional and more “in touch” with their emotions.  I really don’t dig that expression, “in touch,” but I’ll use it here because it seems kinda appropriate.  Given this (no stats, let’s just let it ride as true), sports losses — and wins — affect women more.  Women take it more personally — should I not have moved on the couch during that last drive? was it my fault?  — and they take it harder.  I don’t just bounce back from a loss like today’s.  I want to talk to Aaron Rodgers and tell him how proud I am of him.  I want to smack the defense on their collective head and say, “Why didn’t you get on the plane to Phoenix?”  I want to say, “McCarthy, don’t give up on us. And excellent work on that onside kick call!” 

But I can’t do any of that.  So I sit here and steam and stir and twitch, and wonder what I could have done differently. And I count the days until August.  Which, frankly, is a weird thing to do in Wisconsin in January.  Except it’s not.  If you’re a sports fan.  And you’re a woman.

January 2010

Join 77 other subscribers