Friday, September 23, 2005

Sew Much Fun

Most of you know I sew—I sew a lot. In fact I am going to be starting my own sewing business soon because I love it so much and I am actually really good at it. Who knew? As with any hobby, there are pros and cons.

Things that bug me about being a sewing enthusiast

1. Patterns for lingerie—bras, underwear, skimpy stuff. Is there a shortage of good women’s underwear to be found in the stores?
2. Dealing with the employees at Joann’s. I think the criteria to work here is if you have been fired from the DMV.
3. People who use the word “sew” in puns. “Sew Perfect”, “Sew Exciting”, etc. It’s getting old.
4. Crazy ladies on
a. Should I reply to their pants reviews that pleats around the midsection are out? And that no one should ever wear tapered pants anymore?
b. The women who make bras and then review those patterns.
c. Ladies who sew anything for a pet and then review those patterns
5. Unable to pay retail because as soon as I look at the price tag the following phrase immediately comes out of my mouth: “I could make that for way less!”

Things that I love about being a sewing enthusiast
1. Buying fabric online. What is it about the UPS man delivering a package to me at 3pm that makes my day?
2. I get to use obscure words and phrases like placket, nap, flat-fell, entredeux, feed dog, pile, selvage, stitch-in-the-ditch, and my favorite: armscye.
3. Giving free advice to the lost customers in fabric stores.
--In Joanns: “Oh, you don’t want to buy knit here. You want to buy it from”
--In HomeFabrics: “You’ll want about 8 yards of fabric to slipcover a chair.” I’m such a know-it-all.
4. Unable to pay retail because as soon as I look at the price tag the following phrase immediately comes out of my mouth: “I could make that for way less!”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Working in a Coal Mine

As I read Kacy’s blog about her previous jobs, I realized I too have had many wacko job experiences. Many of you already know some of these stories but I bet most will be new to most of you. I’ll leave out the nightmare stories of babysitting between the ages of 11 and 16 and skip right to the good stuff of 1991 and 1992.

The summer before my Senior year of high school I went to Oregon for the summer to work. I stayed with the Hesters—a family I had previously babysat for for many, many years. No, there wasn’t a shortage of jobs in California but this was supposed to be a really good opportunity that didn’t require frying hamburgers. I was a speed demon at typing and the job was for data entry at a dentist’s office. They were changing software programs and needed someone to transfer all the data. Unfortunately, this job fell through once I got to Oregon. I decided to stay in Oregon anyway and find a job elsewhere. The Bishop in the Hesters’ ward owned a berry plant in the city of Boring, Oregon. I am not making that up—the city really was named Boring. Google it. Red Flag #1—the name of the city alone should’ve clued me in to how bad this job would be. My job was to pick all the gross and smooshed raspberries off of the conveyer belt as they headed to Berry Heaven. Brain cells at their best. Oh, and the occasional larvae was to be picked off too. I couldn’t bear to touch the larvae so I let those go by. Oops.

Red Flag #2—I was the only English speaker working in a sea of Latino workers. Yes, I am Mexican also, but I hardly speak Spanish. This made for a lot of silence on the conveyer line. Oh wait, there was a young man also from church who worked there. Gosh, what was his name? Well, anyway, since he was the only other English speaker there we were forced into a bizarre-o friendship. REM’s Out of Time album had just come out so we would have very intellectual conversations, like, what the song, “Losing My Religion” really meant. Deep. (I finally learned it is a southern phrase meaning to lose one’s temper. So don’t blog me about what it means.) This kid also confessed to me all sorts of weird sins he had committed. I’ll say no more.

While I had this job I apparently attracted the attention of a 27-year old man—let’s call him Jose. There's a stretch. I was 17. Isn’t that illegal? Jose didn’t speak English but he did ask me out in Spanish one time to go dancing. “Quieres bailar?” My reply, “Um no. No quiero bailar.” Later that day he got in a fist fight with some of the other guys. I found out it was because they thought he was a homesexual. Great—only gay guys ask me out. I worked there a whopping 4 weeks. Four weeks too long. I didn’t eat raspberries for at least five years though. Oh the trauma.

Once I went back to California I applied for a job at a new eating establishment (I can't bear to call it a restaurant) in the Chino Towne Square called Cajun Joe’s Chicken. I got the job because I had a 4.0 and the owner was all kinds of impressed. Apparently you need a 4.0 to fry chicken. Or was it rotisserie? Anyway, before I even had time to start that job I got a better job (hard to believe) as a receptionist. So I called the manager, Mr. Cajun, and told him I changed my mind. He was ticked. The next day I started getting perverted crank calls. These calls lasted a few weeks—and I know it was Mr. Cajun calling me! I can’t prove it, but this is how I know: One night I got one of the dirty phone calls and I screamed into the phone—“I know this is the chicken man!!” and hung up. The calls stopped. This franchise of Cajun Joe’s went out of business within a couple of years. I’m sure it was God punishing Mr. Cajun for being a pervert and freaking the heck out of a naïve 17-year old girl. But I can’t prove that either.

Now the job I got in place of Cajun Joe’s chicken was to be a receptionist at the El Dorado Plaza—a business plaza in Ontario. The owners were a young chain-smoking Chinese couple from Montebello. They paid me under the table to avoid paying Uncle Sam. They would come in once every few weeks to pay me, get the mail, shut themselves in their office and smoke like a chimney. I never saw anyone smoke that much in my whole life. The cloud of smoke would literally creep out of their office and crawl around the corners in the office--just like the angel of death in The Ten Commandments. Because I was still in school I only worked the afternoon shift. Mr. and Mrs. Marlboro asked me if I knew another girl who would want the job in the morning. The only teenager I knew who didn’t go to school in the morning that wouldn’t mind being paid an extraordinarily low wage illegally was Colleen Kinnick. She had recently dropped out of high school and took her GED. So Colleen became the morning gal and I became the afternoon one. Colleen was a Groovey Gooley, as we called them. She dressed all in black and died her hair fluorescent colors. She loved Oingo Boingo more than should be allowed. (A few years later Colleen got married and on top of her wedding cake was Jack Skellington (the pumpkin head) and the main girl (?) from The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Romantic.)

Apparently neon-haired receptionists were not what the El Dorado Plaza was looking for. Tenants started complaining to Mr. and Mrs. Marlboro. So Mrs. Marlboro called me up one day and asked me to talk to Colleen about her hair. I did. Colleen started wearing a beret to work to cover up her highlighter yellow hair. I don't think that's what Mrs. Marlboro had in mind. That job ended half way through the school year for Colleen—due to her hair—and at the end of my senior year due to my inability (once again) to speak Spanish very well on the phone. My oft used phrase on the phone was, “Mas despacio, por favor.” Translation: “Please speak slower”. Mom—why didn’t you teach us Spanish you crazy Mexican lady? Dad was fluent too!! I’ll never forgive you for that! Thus ended the horrific jobs of my high school era. Thank goodness I left for college and began a whole new era of creepy college jobs. Stay tuned for that installment........

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Embarrassing Grocery Store Moments

My life is filled with embarrassing moments while grocery shopping. What’s embarrassing about grocery shopping you ask? If I were to title this blog, “Embarrassing Moments while at the Doctor’s Office”, you’d all agree those times are definitely filled with embarrassment. But the grocery store? Oh yes, my internet friends, read on.

The embarrassing moments started during childhood grocery trips. At the local Safeway they had a corner in the store where they put all the dented cans and smooshed boxes on clearance in a shopping cart. My siblings and I affectionately called this the “cheap corner.” We loved the cheap corner! Whenever we would go to the store with Mom we’d run to the cheap corner and find a coveted can of Spaghetti-Os for a nickel or Chunky soup for a dime. Mom always let us get stuff from the cheap corner, because after all, it was cheap! The embarrassing part came when the cart was filled with more dented stuff than not. We looked more like vagabonds dumpster-diving than a reputable family out for a good bargain.

The embarrassment continued into the teenage years. My sister Patty has a screwy sense of humor so she always thought it was funny to load up the cart with liquor when my mom wasn’t looking—hard liquor too like Vodka and Bourbon—not just beer and cheap wine. Usually my mom would notice by the time we got to the check-out line and everyone would have a good chuckle. Hee, hee--what’s a nice Mormon family doing with 12 jugs of Vodka in their cart? Patty sure is funny! The embarrassing part would happen when we ran into someone from church. I am sure that’s how rumors get started. “Oh my, there is Sister Harrington with her girls. And what’s that in their cart? Smirnoff Vodka? Shame on her! And in front of her children too.” Oh the scandal! Patty would get bonus points on these days.

And even though I am a good Mormon girl I buy a tiny 4oz. jar of instant coffee every few years. Why you ask? Because just a ½ teaspoon of coffee crystals adds loads of flavor to homemade chocolate cake. Yum-o! However, maybe it’s a sign that I shouldn’t buy coffee because when I do someone from church always sees me. Not sometimes, always. Okay, so I’ve only bought the coffee twice in the last 4 years but both of those times I ran into someone. (FYI--The coffee also makes an excellent dye for muslin fabrics that you want to antique.)

Once again, another embarrassing moment occurred when I went to Wal-Mart to buy one can of beer to marinate our now famous Tio Pepe’s skirt steak. It is seriously killer food. Two years ago though I found out that you can’t buy beer by the can—only the six pack. So the checker asks me if I want to go grab the other five cans. “Heck no! I don’t even drink beer! What am I going to do with 5 whole cans!” Oh the sinfulness of it all. To make matters worse she then asked for my I.D. “Are you kidding me?”, I say? “I am (then) 29 years old.” She must be carding me because I look so young from all those years of clean living--abstaining from evil things like beer, coffee, and cigarettes. In the end I put the stupid can of beer back. So now I go to the Mercado Latino across town when I need to buy that solitary can of beer for Tio Pepe’s Mexican BBQ. I feel as if I am being sneaky. Like I need to knock twice because it’s a Speak Easy. Any moment the Word of Wisdom cops could break in and bust me. Oh the danger!

But truly the most embarrassing grocery store trip occurred two weeks ago when we were remodeling our kitchen and we were eating all week sans oven. So I broke down and bought some frozen foods. I went down the frozen food isle and noticed the plethora of brands available—Healthy Choice, Marie Calendar’s, Stouffer’s—etc. I have no idea which is the “good” brand. Maybe “good” is the wrong word. How about, I have no idea which brand is the least objectionable. This is new to me. I’ve heard of Stouffers and there is a Stouffers factory just a few minutes away in Springeville. So maybe they don’t use as many disgusting preservatives since it is only traveling 10 minutes from Springville to Orem. I’ll try this one. I bought a lasagna, fettucine chicken alfredo, and some frozen Ego waffles for my kids. As I headed to the check-out lane I began to wonder, “What will my story be if I run into anyone I know?” I am a food snob and my reputation would be ruined for buying such items. This is worse than buying beer or coffee. Luckily, no one sees me. But the cashier begins asking me, “Oh is this fettucine alfredo good?” I can’t let this one go. “I don’t know. I’ve never bought it before. My kitchen is being remodeled and my kids are sick of sandwiches.” Why do I feel the need to explain this to her? Judging by the three entire isles of frozen food at Wal-Mart this is a huge industry and people buy this crap every day. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yet I am truly embarrassed. I have gone to the dark side. And the scary thing is? The frozen foods were not that bad. Not that good, but not that bad. Gasp. The dark side of the force is not stronger, but as Yoda said in “The Empire Strikes Back”, “it is quicker, easier, more seductive”. Oh yea. Yoda’s wisdom is applicable throughout life.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Insomnia Really Bites

Hi, my name is Cynthia and I am an insomniac. Last night during my bout of insomnia I realized I am going to blog about this. I hate being awake in the middle of the night for no reason at all. It feels kind of like everyone gets to have dessert but you are the only one not privileged enough to partake of something yummy. I toss and turn and look over at my husband happily sleeping and I want to hit him. How can you sleep all peaceful-like while I am over here miserable! The house is silent—once in a while I hear my daughter Ilene (4 yrs. old) talk in her sleep—its usually pretty angry yelling—“No way!”, “I don’t want to!”, etc. Sometimes I hear Hallie (19 months) cry for no reason except that maybe she too is dreaming the same thing as Ilene but since she hardly talks she can’t scream out “No Way!”. Instead she belts out with her axe-murder scream for a few seconds then goes back to Sleepyville.

My insomnia usually hits around 3am and lasts until 6am or so. Sometimes I go back to sleep and sometimes I just get up and get my day going. I have tried to pass the time by watching TV or sewing but that just makes it worse sometimes. If I watch TV then I realize that only losers watch TV at such an hour because all that is on are infomercials with Mr. Popeil and his famous vegetable/fruit dehydrater or rotisserie oven. Or Oprah reruns. Did you know that the Oprah shows plays old reruns around 3am? It’s not pretty. Or worse—the ultimate in trash TV--Jerry Springer. Watching TV at this awful hour is not an option. I also don’t like watching TV in the middle of the night because it reminds me of the awful days of forced insomnia due to a newborn baby. Oh gosh, I don’t think any parent ever forgets just how sleep deprived they are when there’s a new baby in the house.

I used to get up and go to my sewing room and plow through projects lying around. I still do this once in a while, but I prefer not to. It makes me feel like a sweatshop seamstress working at such an ungodly hour. Not to mention—once again I feel like everyone gets to go to the Sleepyville ball and I am stuck being Cinderella and doing the chores.

So now I just lay in bed. All kinds of wonderful thoughts come to me. I become clairvoyant. Things occur to me at this hour of the night that never seem to enter my thought at any other time. Take last night for example. Here were some of my thoughts: Paul’s car registration expires at the end of the month—better get that emissioned and safety inspected too. Trust me, during the day I never think about that car. It must be divine. I also remembered that I needed to make dentist appointments for all of us. Blech. No wonder I forget about that during the day. I also get weirdly disciplined at these hours. Last night I decided I would make an exercise chart and hang it on my bathroom mirror so that I am forced to see it everyday. Surely this will force me to exercise more than my usual 2-3 times week. I also decided that canceling satellite TV may be a good idea and instead I’ll read more—good books, scriptures, etc. Will either of these things happen? Dunno. I’ll think about them more next time I have insomnia. Probably tonight.

I have tried taking Unisom at night. But that is truly the Devil’s drug. I took one and felt like I had been hit by a train. It lasted at least 10 hours. During the last couple of hours I swear I had the flu. That’s how awful I felt. So I started cutting the pills in half but never remember to take them. Even when I did remember I still felt gross the next morning. I’ve seen the commercials lately for some prescription sleep drug where there is a little glow in the dark butterfly zooming around the dark night while a woman quietly slumbers in her bed. That’s creepy. Not to mention I am too cheap to pay my $30 co-pay to see the doctor and then pay another $30-50 a month for the drug that has all kinds of horrible side effects like gangrene and kidney failure. What is funny about this commercial is it lists drowsiness as a side effect. Excuse me? I wouldn’t call that a side effect but rather the INTENDED effect. Do you think Oprah gets insomnia?

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Can't Stand Cartoons (and most other children's programming)

Because I have three children I regularly hang out with other mothers of children. As such, my friends often quote lines from this movie or that movie. Only they are not quoting movies—not real movies anyway—they are quoting silly Disney animated movies and TV shows from Nickelodeon or PBS. I don’t know why, but I can hardly stand to watch any of that garbage. I thought most adults couldn’t stomach kiddie entertainment that was on the TV and really only used the TV as a babysitter—like I do. But apparently there are adults out there who watch children’s programming because they like it.

The worst of the bunch on PBS, in order of obnoxiousness, is: “Caillou”—the Canadian 4-year old brat that whines for everything. And couldn’t they pick a child to do the voice of Caillou instead of a grown woman? Who are they fooling! I forbid my children to watch this show. I tell them that Caillou is a brat and he whines way too much for a 4-year old. The other obnoxious show is “Dragon Tales”, although I do permit my children to watch this show. Ord, the giant dragon on this show, has the dumbest sounding voice. He is an oversized dragon and always reminds me of Shaquille O’neal. Not that I think Shaq has a dumb sounding voice—so it must be the size of the dragon that makes me think of Shaq. The third worst show on PBS, actually, this should be ranked higher--is “Between the Lions”. A bunch of weird puppets singing famous songs while teaching the short A sound is criminal. Oh man, I can’t grab the remote fast enough when that one comes on.

In August my mother-in-law was in town and took my kids to see “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”. Thank goodness she came to my rescue! I had been stalling on that one. The movie had been out for a couple of months by then. I knew that going to see that movie would be sheer torture for two hours. I promised my kids earlier that year when we read the novel together (see, I am a good mom) that when the movie came out this summer we would go see it. Ugh. Thank goodness I was relieved of that parental duty. Wait a minute?! Since when is taking your kids to see movies a parental duty? I mean, come on, my parents only took me to see Popeye, Empire Strikes Back, Annie, and Return of the Jedi (in that order I think) when I was a kid. That’s it. We were so deprived. We waited until the movies came out on Laser Disc and then my dad bought them. Oh yea, my Tia (aunt) Olivia did take me to see E.T. (Curious—why did she take me? Was that because my mother too couldn’t stand the thought of going to see a movie with a shrively alien as the main character?) And while I’m on the E.T. note—my brother Mike and I didn’t want our other siblings to be jealous that we got to go see E.T. so we lied and told them that Tia Olivia was taking us to get our shots. They believed it for a while.

When I was in the fifth grade our school class had a movie day and we all got to go to the multi-purpose room and eat popcorn while watching “The Never-Ending Story.” I remember half way through the movie quietly tip-toeing to my teacher and asking, “When will this movie be over?” That movie is what nightmares are made of—oversized dogs flying through clouds. Puh-lease. Torture, torture, torture.

Earlier this year my friend Liz lent me “The Incredibles” so my kids could watch this on a Friday night and have popcorn. She told me that it was really good. I was skeptical. She knows how much I hate that kind of stuff. I told her I would give it a shot. I sat down with my kids and Paul to watch it and fifteen minutes into it was hooked. This was a cute story, I thought. I no longer had to make up the excuse that I had to go make the popcorn and sugary drink-ade to escape watching the show. I paused the movie and went to make the treats. This is a huge step for me. So I guess there is hope.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Do I Listen to Weird Music or Something?

As a teenager I used to think that everyone listened to the same music I did—Depeche Mode, Erasure, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, etc. For a brief period I even got into Nine Inch Nails until I realized they were pretty dark and evil so I traded that CD to the Bishop’s son for my Depeche Mode “Violater” CD. But I digress. If everyone didn’t listen to that kind of music than at least others had at least heard of these bands, right? I was all wrong. I am still reminded how obscure my music taste must be.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was 15 I was at a stake dance in Hacienda Heights, CA and there was a cowboy kid there who asked my friend Laurie if she knew how to fox trot? Fox trot, what? We also noticed he was wearing cowboy boots. What kid in southern California wears cowboy boots unless he seriously wants to get beat up? So naturally we made fun of “Cowboy Roy” as we affectionately called him. And no, Laurie wouldn’t dance with him—get real.

And when I was 16 and went on a trip to Oregon (see previous blog of me in Oregon with HUGE hair.) I met these other teenage boys in Grants Pass, Oregon and I immediately began talking about Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo? “Oingo what?”,they said. Excuse me? You’ve never heard of Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo? Savages!

Fast forward to now—2005. I am picking up my friends Allison and Jenn in the car the other day and in the CD player is one of my compilation CDs made by my sweet sister Carolyn called “Hit’s of the 80s and 90s, volume 6”, and what’s playing is Suzanne Vega—Blood Makes Noise. A classic--“Blood Makes Noise…..It’s a ringing in your ears.” Both Allison and Jenn had never heard this song and thought I was weird and maybe somewhat evil for listening to a song that said the word “blood” in it. Maybe they would approve of her song “99.9 F°”. After all, that song is about science, right? Temperature, heat, etc.

Yesterday I was driving in my oh so cool mini van to Nathan’s soccer game and the current CD in the car was the best of Siouxsie and the Banshees. I quickly fast forwarded to “Peek A Boo”. That’s educational for my kids right? Hallie, my 18 month old, loves to play peek-a-boo at home so why not play it in the car right? I kept looking in my rear view mirror at her, covering and uncovering my eyes at just the moments when Siouxsie would shout out “Peek-A-Boo!!!”. Then I realize that doing that while driving could cause problems. That’s a great song, though. The whole backwards-accordion thing really makes that song too, don’t you think? I am happy to indoctrinate my kids with my music—someday my kids will tell their friends that they know “classic alternative”. Ugh. Just the way I told my friends that I knew “classic rock” because my dad listened to Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimmy Hendrix, etc. When I talked to my dad about his love of drug-addicted rockers he defends himself and says, “I didn’t know any of that then!!” Too funny. I guess him being in Vietnam and all kept him away from all the gossip. Anyway…..

Then I met my husband Paul and realized that if I listened to weird music, then he definitely listened to weird music. He liked the majorly (yes that’s a word) unknown stuff from the 80s—Ultravox, Trash Can Sinatras, Joy Division. He said he never liked Duran Duran because they were too popular. Well, excuse me for not being enough avant garde for him! (I am sure I spelled that wrong.) My mainstream taste was such a turn off to him. Whatever. When we were dating and in that I-Can’t-Bear-To-Be-Away-From-You phase we were away from each other for a whole 6 weeks while I completed a Spring term at BYU and he went home to work in an ice cream factory in East L.A. (Paul should write a blog about that experience—seeing the projects get raided by SWAT teams, etc.)

Anyway, once I returned home for the summer he had made a cute compilation-poem of his favorite songs that expressed his undying love for me. Songs like, “Blue Jean” by David Bowie. “One day I'm gonna write a poem in a letter; One day I'm gonna get that faculty together; Remember that everybody has to wait in line; Blue Jean-look out world you know I've got mine; She got Latin roots; She got everything.” Oh yea, he was whooped for this “Latin” girl.

So now that I am in my 30s I realize that I am holding on to the music of my youth and not really loving the new alternative music that comes out anymore. (Although Depeche Mode’s new hit is pretty good. Good grief, how old are they now? They’re taking a cue from the Stones I guess.) I take pride in the fact that Ilene’s favorite song is “Magic Moments” by Erasure and Nathan learned to count, or at least had fun counting, while dancing to XTC “Senses Working Overtime”. Everything can be a teaching moment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reminiscing through the 70s, 80s, and 90s

(Or, how bad hair shapes us through the ages)

As I was archiving old photos today on my computer I realize I have a few things to say about some photos. I didn't start out with any particular theme when starting this blog, but it kind of turned into a big hair theme. You'll see what I mean....

Topolobampo, Mexico, circa 1977 What makes me laugh about this picture is that my sister Patty is filthy with sand and I am all clean (that's me out of focus in the front). Nothing has changed. I still hate to get dirty. Even now, if my kitchen floor is dirty I will wear socks or slippers in the kitchen to avoid having my feet feel all gritty. Blech! I must have some sensory issues because I still can't touch a fuzzy peach without getting the heebee-jeebees.

Heart Bar Campground, San Bernardino, California
When I see this photo I can't help laughing at how HORRIBLE all my siblings look, me included of course. Our hair is uncombed and look at that pink tassled jumpsuit Carolyn is wearing! (I am second from the left.) What my siblings and I all remember from this picture is that Patty is the only one wearing flip-flops. (We used to call them thongs but that word now means something else in clothing attire.) She had forgotten her sneakers on this camping trip and our parents were furious--"How could you forget to pack SHOES!" Poor Patty, she had to wear thongs the whole trip.

Me, circa 1984. Oh the embarrasment of this picture. Look at my stick-like legs! I remember during junior high I wore some white ribbed leggings to school and the most popular boy in school looked at me and said, "Bock Bock", as in a chicken! I was horrified. Having chicken legs as a young woman is worse than having a second head. This picture is proof.

This picture of my mom with her sisters (she's on the left) proves that my big hair is not my fault. It is in my genes. Somehow, though, my mother looks beautfiul with her big hair.

Me, 1990, in the middle of nowhere in Oregon. No wonder I had no boyfriends in high school? Look how big my hair is? You could surf on my bangs! And the over sized shirt in neon colors? And oh yes, I am wearing high-top sneakers with scrunched socks. There are those chicken legs again. Oh the inhumanity of it all!

July 22, 1980, Mark's first birthday, Chino, California This is how 90% of our birthdays were spent as kids. The birthday kid with the cake and the other 4 looking on with drool. And we are all toasty brown because it's summer. Notice that Mike is wearing a Pepsi shirt tank top, Mark is wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, and Patty has on her adorable glasses!

My senior picture, October 1991. Again with the big hair, giant silver hoop earings, etc. I made that oversized purple blouse. Once again, I wonder why I had no boys EVER interested in me.

Paul, as a missionary, 1991 Belgium. While I was having a miserable time as a senior in high school, Paul was a missionary in Belgium. So eventually I did get the cute boy after all. I must admit--I had grown out the claw bangs by the time we met. See? It was the bangs holding me back all those years. In my dry spell of the dating years I used to say, "If good things come to those who wait, then great things come to those who wait longer." I guess I am calling you great Paul. :)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Confessions of an HGTV Addict

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace.
-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

How true this is! Almost eight years ago we moved into our brand-new home. It had plain vanilla walls, cream-colored carpet and for many years it stayed that way. I didn’t really care much to decorate. I remember thinking then, “Why waste all the time and effort?” I guess you could say, as does Mr. Pope, I “hated” decorating. My mother-in-law would come into town and do little things around my home to make it pretty and cozy. I didn’t really think it mattered, but she liked it, so I let her. Decorating was “endured” at this point.

Then the tide really turned. We got satellite TV 3 years ago because we didn’t want to miss any of the winter Olympic sports that were to be broadcast. (Ironically enough the winter Olympics were right HERE so we really didn’t have to miss anything if we would’ve forked out thousands of dollars to go to the events.) With satellite TV I discovered HGTV (Home and Garden Television). Ah, 24 hours a day of non-stop decorating advice. What started out as something hated, became something endured, and then embraced. I am now a decorating addict. What started out as simply a form of entertainment has led to a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a purchase of many decorating books and power tools. (For Mother’s Day I asked Paul for a pneumatic nailer. Dang it! I didn’t get it.) I am on fire. I find that a beautiful room makes me feel better. It’s somewhat of a high to be in a room I have “made over”. (That’s lingo for—this room once was disgusting and is now sort of livable.) Ah, the fruits of my labor!

Now I wish I could say that I simply paint a room and buy cute furnishings but this obsession has cost me much more. It has cost me sleep, frustration, money, etc. I think I am Superwoman. After all, if they can do it on TV then surely I can do it too! I have a brain so I can figure things out, right? Let me explain, and then you decide how wacko I really am—

1. I have been obsessed with getting new countertops in my kitchen for at least a year now. I must have been crazy when I chose blue laminate for my counters back in 1997. They were in style then, I think. I have had bids to resurface them (a cheap look) and bids to install Corian (a budget breaker). Financial reality has set in so I decided that we would tile the new countertops ourselves! I have never tiled before but I have a brain right? I can do it! I have been running around town all week buying this and buying that. I lay awake at night and wonder how I am going to polish the edges of the granite tile if I can’t get a hold of a 4” grinder saw. (So I bought one last night.) Who knows how this will turn out? The worst is I drag Paul along on the crazy schemes. I overhead him say to his dad on the phone the other day something about “dragged into.” I can’t imagine what he’s talking about?

2. I resurface furniture too often. The fumes must be affecting me because I find it enjoyable. In the last year I have re-surfaced my dining table, a dresser for my room, and last weekend a little dresser for my 7-year old Nathan to use as a nightstand. Oh and I can’t forget all my kitchen cabinets in their entirety. I sanded, primed and painted for two days straight (14 hour days) last Labor Day.

3. I paint my walls like crazy. In fact, I have painted my kitchen walls 3 times in the last year. I know, that’s embarrassing. My motto is, “Some women paint their nails, I paint my walls.” I tell Paul that he could have a froo-froo wife instead—one who loves to shop weekly at Nordstrom and gets manicures or one who spends that money instead on our house. He says, “Is there a choice?” Ha, ha. Funny guy.

4. I’ve planted 7 trees in the last month. Okay, five are evergreen trees and will someday hedge a view of my neighbor’s yard, but still, who plants trees in August? I am certifiable! I swear I almost got heat stroke the day I did all that. Digging holes in this yard is tantamount to digging through concrete. Smart.

5. I slipcover anything and everything. Oh yes, I have slipcovered 8 major pieces of furniture (two of the couches were my friend’s) in the last 2 years. I buy used furniture at the thrift store and then buy yards and yards of fabric at cheap fabric stores—or else make special pilgrimages to the garment district in downtown Los Angeles to find what I want—“Yes, I would like 25 yards of this brushed twill in beige.” What am I thinking? At the time I did that I had an infant! Who slipcovers giant couches when they have a 6-month old baby? Lots of naptime and nighttime work for this sweat-shop seamstress. Ugh. I think I need medication.

6. Does it get worse? Oh yes. A year and a half ago I decided I wanted to take up carpentry. My dad can do it, so it must be in my genes, right? So I signed up for a night class and attempted to make a blanket chest out of Alder with drawers, decorative panels, etc. The class was a 6-week course. I was so in over my head. It took me 6 months.

7. My kitchen is finished and gorgeous with the granite tiles and “subway” tile backsplash. This is one happy woman. And yes, I drag Paul into these projects but he is so proud of himself for accomplishing such a task. So see? New skills are learned and confidence is built during all these crazy projects. I am naïve when it comes to the time commitment required for these projects. I thought this was a Labor Day weekend project. It turned into a week of frozen meals and sandwiches on paper plates. Never again!

I know I am an addict because I think I could stop at any moment, and yet I realize that I don’t want to. I love this kind of stuff. Gotta go, Divine Design is on.


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