Housegirlfriend 9 July 2001

Al started his new job today, which meant driving to San Francisco for meetings with his boss and to set up his office. I got out of bed around 10am, about the time he was leaving. I decided to do some errands by bike, so instead of showering I just threw on my bike clothes. For some reason I decided that it was imperitive that I update my hockey site—which I've neglected for almost two months—before I left the house, so I worked on that til about 12:30, then donned the rest of my biking paraphernalia.

My goals for the day: get a new cell phone (I dropped my old one too many times, and it now shuts off randomly and without intervention) and return the videos we'd watched this weekend. I did both errands without having to travel more than 6 miles. I considered riding to Palo Alto to buy photo frames at University Art, but I decided that the prices probably weren't worth the time it would take to get there (though the ride would be beautiful...). I figured I'd just stop at Cheap Pete's in the city on the way to Truckee tomorrow.

Instead I rode home to drop off the phone box and trade my bike for the car so I could do the Home Depot and Wal-Mart errands today instead of tomorrow. I stood in the kitchen playing with the phone for a while (I programmed it to ring with the start of the Law & Order theme song) and freaking out Elmo with all the beeping and ringing; I probably would have stood there a lot longer if the house cleaners hadn't arrived. I used that as my excuse to leave.

I spent like an hour in Home Depot gathering supplies for re-staining my deck a different color than it is now (a yucky redwood color), buying sandpaper and polyurethane for the cabinets, and picking up a couple floor samples for the upstairs bathroom (no one design jumped out at me, so I got two to test). $219 later... <sigh> I swear my parents & I have spent over $1200 in the past week on home repair & improvement supplies.

Next was Wal-Mart, where I bought a bunch of paint. Al called while I was standing at the paint counter to see what I was up to; I told him about all my errands, the L&O ring, and Elmo trying to bite the phone. When he got home from work, I regaled him with further tales of cat antics and overheard comments made by the cleaners. I felt like such a housewife, telling Al about the daily domestic details. Who knew sabbatical could be so scary? ;)

Back to Work... At the House 10 July 2001

No, I haven't returned to the office yet, though I'm one step closer: yesterday was the first day of the second half of my sabbatical. I can't believe three weeks have gone by already!

I set my watch alarm for 8:45, but I turned it off when it rang and ended up sleeping until 10:15. Not a bad idea, as it sucks to be tired on the drive to Truckee. Too easy to fall asleep at the wheel. I probably could have slept longer, but I needed to get to the allergist before 11:30.

I made it in time, got my shot, and then stopped at Sigona's Market to buy some fruit before getting on the highway. Traffic was pretty manageable for a change, so I decided to make a couple other stops along the way. I got I-80 in Emeryville to visit Trader Joe's and Starbucks, and again in Vacaville to go to Sally Beauty Supply and Safeway. It was then I remembered that I had meant to go to Cheap Pete's. Doh! I'll have to do that on the way down or up next time, or find one around here. Bummer, 'cause I wanted to hang some pictures this week.

I arrived at the house around 4:30pm, after stopping at the Post Office to pick up my mail. I unloaded the car, went back to the hardware store for a faucet adapter, hose, and safety goggles, and then got right to work stripping the deck. I realized after scrubbing the first very small section that this job was going to take forever. I also managed to nearly flood the kitchen sink area by using a sprayer attachment on the hose; the seal at the faucet couldn't stand the pressure. I figured I'd use my fingers to adjust the pressure of the spray, and I'd do a section of the deck each evening until I finished. No hurry.

While waiting for the deck finish remover to work, I came inside and started prepping the main level bathroom for painting. I took off the outlet covers and removed the chinup bar left by the previous tenants, then went back to rinse the deck. After doing two small deck sections, I unhooked the hose and shut the sliding glass door for the night.

I then stopped to write in my journal (hi!) and make chocolate-covered pretzels (another of my weird cravings). Now I'm about to tape off the bathroom; if I have enough energy when I'm done with that, I'll start painting. If not, I'll wait until tomorrow morning.

Hummingbird 11 July 2001

Ended up watching the Castaway DVD on my laptop as I taped off the main level bathroom last night. Pretty fun. I painted the walls Maine Harbor blue today, and will probably watch the second season of Sex and the City on DVD as I paint the trim white tonight.

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The big event today, though, was the hummingbird. I was working in the kitchen when I heard a small peeping noise, followed by frantic fluttering. Oh no, I thought, there's a bird in the house. Sure enough, a hummingbird was in one of the upper living room windows (one of the two that still has blinds hanging in it), trying to figure out how to get through the glass.

I grabbed my cell phone and a shower rod, and I called my parents' house while I tried to poke the bird down without hurting it. Dad suggested using a broom, and then he put mom on—she seemed to know more about hummingbirds than he did. "Do you have anything red?" she asked. "They're very attracted to red. The fucsia flowers I planted out back must have attracted it." It was then that I realized that it wasn't the flowers that had attracted it: I'd seen it earlier in the morning, fluttering around my (bright red) bicycle, which was parked out on the deck... and which I'd moved indoors so I could continue stripping the stain on the decking. When I moved the bike inside, I'd left the door open.

I hung up with mom and searched for something red, but aside from the bicycle, there's not much red among my belongings. Instead I tried to use the broom to encourage the bird to come out of the window, and I declared a (very) small victory when I managed to get it from the window with the blinds to one without. I noticed that when I tried to encourage it to come down with the broom it instead went up, so I tried to use this to my advantage. I stood on a chair and held the broom high, waiting for the bird to get tired of fluttering against the window. Sure enough, it did, and it landed on the broom to rest. I then tried to lower the broom and the bird to the doorway.

The first time I got it almost all the way down, but it freaked out when it lost sight of the outdoors (there's a few inches of wall between the bottom of the window and the top of the door). Sometimes I'd move only a few inches before she'd freak out and flutter up again; other times I'd get all the way to the sill. I found a purple and red plaid pillowcase and wrapped it around the broom, but this didn't seem to have any affect on the bird. I moved the bicycle back outside where she could see it, but that didn't help her figure out that there was a pane of glass between her and it.

I persisted with the raising and lowering of the broom until my arms ached. I'd noticed that she would get more nervous if I moved the broom quickly, so when she landed on it for about the twentieth time, I lowered it about an inch at a time, trying to be patient. I noticed she'd started grooming herself, extracting long cobweb fibers from her wings. (The spiders are always trying to take over up here.) I figured if there were enough cobwebs on her, I might have enough time to lower her. When I made it to the sill, I lowered the broom with one quick swoop towards the door so she wouldn't have time to panic. She took off again, but she followed the trajectory of the broom and flew out the door. I flopped in a chair and called my parents to let them know she was safely out. And of course, I shut the door.

Jackpot 12 July 2001

Went to bed at 3am last night, so I slept in this morning. I wasn't feeling very motivated today, and strangely enough, I felt a bit guilty about it. It took me a while to realize that this is my SABBATICAL, and I am under no obligation to do anything if I don't want to. The trouble, of course, is that I'm on a roll now with the house renovations, and I don't want to stop.

I decided to compromise by taking a rest and getting some work done at the same time by driving to Reno to buy paint, a new light fixture for the main level bathroom, and some picture frames. There was road construction on I-80, so it took a while to get there, and by the time I finished up at the paint counter at Wal-Mart I had to pee. Unfortunately the bathroom at Wal-Mart was out of order, and the framing store didn't have one, so I decided to stop at the Safeway next door. They usually have restrooms.

As it turned out, this one, being in Nevada, also had video poker machines. I'm not a gambler by nature, but I decided to play the $.25 machines. It turned out that it really took five quarters to play, not one, and I screwed up my first (good) hand by not knowing what buttons to push. After that, I was out of quarters, and all I had left were $20s. I figured I'd just put in a twenty and play for a while, then cash out.

I won a few credits every couple hands, but I was down to a little over half of the credits I'd started with. I figured I'd play three or four more, then quit. On my next hand, I got four of a kind on the deal. Jackpot! I'm no fool: I don't win often, so I know when to take the money and run. I hit the Cash Out button, and the attendant counted out $57.50 for me. I thanked him and left, giddy.

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Design at Nine 13 July 2001

Al came up last night, and he worked at the kitchen table today while I painted. I started with the railing on the loft stairs before he even got out of bed, and then I moved on to the main level bath. I put a second coat of white on the trim and the baseboards, and then I painted the cabinet below the sink white. I've been working on this bathroom for three days now, and I really wanted to finish it today, so I was driven.

I finally finished painting and got to the part where I needed to put up the new light fixture. Al offered to help, and I took him up on it as soon as I saw the instructions. I was a little intimidated by the wiring involved. While he hung the light, I cleaned the shower, and then I went out to get us dinner. When I returned, the light was finished, and it looked great.

I was determined to be able to take the "after" photo of the bathroom tonight, so I cleaned up the tools, scrubbed the sink and floor, and hung the new curtain. I then put the rug and wastebasket and the toiletpaper holder back in, and violá! A brand new bathroom.

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Relaxing Saturday/Jackpot Part Two 14 July 2001

Didn't do much work on the house today. Got up around 9:30 and went to play 9 holes of golf with Al at the Ponderosa Golf Course off Route 267. I was terrible off the tee, but I putted and chipped well. The course was beautiful, and I would definitely play there again.

After golf we went back to the house, and I spent some time cleaning up a bit and putting away clothes. I think next week I'm not going to start any new home projects, but rather clean up all the paint and repair supplies that are lying around, and unpack some boxes. And work on my scrapbook. I was thinking that I was about a year behind on gluing things in, but it turns out I'm a little more than two years behind. Oops.

At 7pm we left for Nevada, where I planned to take Al out for a birthday dinner at The Soule Domain. The service was slower than usual, but the food was great. After dinner we went over to the CalNeva to do a little gambling. I played five cent video poker for a while and came out $19 ahead. I then went and lost $15 on a game I didn't understand. (I kept playing in hopes that it would eventually make sense, but it never did.) I tried an old-style video poker machine and came away with the same six quarters I put in; it was right next to an air conditioning vent, so I didn't stay long. I decided to take my six quarters somewhere else.

I bypassed the $1 video poker and found a line of $.25 machines. I thought they were the same kind as the $.05, where you put in a bunch of money up front and then decide how much you want to bet on each hand, so I slid my six quarters into the slot. It kicked out my last quarter and started to deal. It turned out that the maximum bet was five quarters, and that's what I'd just bet. Oh well, I thought. I'll just play two games. I got three twos on the deal, so I held those and pressed Draw. I got a fourth two, resulting in 400 credits. I pressed the Cash Out button and waited for about 5 minutes as the machine spewed out quarters. So much for the second game!

I didn't stop to think about how much money it was; I'd filled a cup and a half at the nickel machine, and it'd only added up to $29. I stopped back by the blackjack table with my cup and said to Al, "well, this makes up for the lost $15. I played five quarters, and I won 400." Al goes, "wow, that's $100, right?" Me: "Oh yeah, I guess it is!" Sure enough, when I brought the cup to the cashier's window, I was asked, "would you like a $100 bill, or five twenties?" Woo hoo! After all the $100 and $200 trips to Home Depot and Mountain Hardware, I could use a little extra cash. Especially since I want to get Al a grill for his birthday...

Back to the Cats 15 July 2001

Drove back to Al's house today, after making a stop at Home Depot to look at grills along the way. The cats seemed glad to see us; in fact, Annie just jumped up on the couch to sit with me for a few minutes. That's a rare treat.

There's not much to tell about today; the drive down was at turns delightful and maddening, but for the most part uneventful. We went to the Fish Market for dinner (we tried the 2 for $.25 fish mints for the first time, and they were EXCELLENT) and grocery shopping at Whole Foods, and now we're just sitting around watching TV and reading Consumer Reports reviews of grills.

Tomorrow I get to play housegirlfriend again while I wait for hockey time; maybe I'll drive or take the train up to the city and go to Cheap Pete's.

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