Friday, June 30, 2006

Floors and fixtures and counters - oh my!

Yesterday two guys came to the house to give us estimates on fixing the joint up.

For as long as we’ve lived here (nearly 6 years) we’ve talked about replacing the kitchen floor and countertops. We got a good deal on this house because the interior was very dated. But it appeared that most of the work required was cosmetic so we figured we would paint and change things out as we had time and money. But in the meantime we remodeled two condos, bought/furnished/sold a trailer, and then bought the beach house. Our efforts were everywhere except at home.

The current kitchen floor is white peel-n-stick tiles with a tan flower design. No, I’m not kidding. The current countertops are navy blue formica. Not kidding again. “How could two self-respecting gay men live with such hideously outdated surroundings for so long?” you may be asking. I’m wondering the same thing.

To our credit, we have done some updating. We’ve painted the living room, kitchen, two bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, and the TV room. We’ve changed out a few light fixtures, and got a stainless steel stove, microwave, and dishwasher. (Still need the fridge to match.) The more expensive stuff is what we left undone.

With the knowledge that we will be putting our house on the market in a few months we’ve decided to get busy and have some of these updates priced. We started with the kitchen floor and countertops. We want to cover the existing floor with a laminate that looks like slate, and replace the countertops with granite. Home buyers looking in our neighborhood will be expecting granite and an updated floor.

The first guy’s estimate was outrageous. When he told us, I was unable to keep my eyes from widening like saucers and saying “Wow – that’s considerably higher than we expected.” He then tried to sell us on the quality of the product and the fact that they had the materials in stock and would be able to install it the very next day. That’s all fine and good, but we don’t need the floor that soon and I certainly don’t intend to pay for that.

The second guy’s estimate was much more reasonable, and I think we are going to have him do it. He does all types of remodeling, and is able to do everything else on our list too. He was nice.

So now, instead of the question being “How could two self-respecting gay men live with such hideously outdated surroundings for so long?” the new question is “How are we going to pay for all of this?”

Questions, questions….

Drag Queen name of the day: Sharon Sharalike

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

5 things to be happy about today...

  1. It is the 1st day in a week (yes, 7 days) that it hasn't rained. I drove to and from work with my roof down.
  2. The new housekeeper came yesterday and the house is all clean at the same time. This alone is reason enough to make it through another day.
  3. I am actually ahead of schedule on a project at work that absolutely positively MUST be done by Fri.
  4. I went to Homo Depot on my lunch break to look for 2 ceiling fans. Expecting to find only ugly or expensive ones (which has been my past experience) I found 2 attractive fans for under $50. each.
  5. I'm looking ahead to this coming weekend, which will be spent with friends at the beach. I'm taking Mon off so combined with the weekend and the Tues 4th of July holiday I'll be off for 4 days in a row.

Drag Queen name of the day: Joy Ride

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Drag Queen name of the day

As noted in one of yesterday's posts, I'm adding a new feature to this blog called "Drag Queen name of the day". I'll end every post with a new, fabulous drag name. And on days when I don't have time to blog or don't have anything interesting to say, I may simply leave you with a new and exciting Drag Queen name of the day anyway.

To start from the beginning, go back to both of yesterday's posts to see the Drag Queen names of that day. Then be sure to check back every few days. The Drag Queen name of the day will be at the very end of each post.

Some names were thought of by me, some by friends, some from unsuspecting former co-workers, and some are from super-fab films like 'Torch Song Trilogy'. Hope you like 'em!

Drag Queen name of the day: Anita Haircut

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Bad things happen in threes"

When someone she knows dies, is diagnosed with a serious illness, or something else bad happens, Joe’s mother Evelyn says that "bad things always happen in threes". I’m beginning to think there might be something to that.

1. On Sun morning when we picked up Evelyn, she told us that around 4am the police knocked on her door to inform them that a teenager had fallen asleep at the wheel and plowed into Joe’s brother Frank’s car, which was parked in front of Evelyn’s house. By the time we’d learned of this, the car had been towed away. Frank thinks the car will be declared a total loss, despite it being a brand new 2006 Maxima.

2. This morning on her way to work, our friend Wendy suddenly saw a tire hurling toward her car! She swerved to avoid having the tire smash threw her windshield. The car fishtailed a few times and slammed into the jersey wall. Fortunately Wendy’s injuries were minor, but she’s not so sure about those sustained by her 2005 Prius. Joe picked her up from the hospital and drove her home.
3. While talking to my aunt Mary on the phone today, she related an incident that took place on Sat. Her nephew (my cousin) Lenny was sideswiped on a narrow residential street in Georgetown by a Dominos pizza delivery driver who did not stop. Lenny followed the driver around the corner where the driver stopped to make his pizza delivery. Lenny explained that the driver had sideswiped him but the driver denied it. Lenny showed him the paint scratches on his mirror and the driver began to blame Lenny for “parking in the street” and forcing him to squeeze by. The driver left the scene so Lenny called the police and gave them the driver’s tag number. They said they would not come to the scene. Lenny then called Dominos and registered a complaint against the driver.

Drag Queen name of the day: Virginia Hamm


This was our weekend to stay in town and socialize.

Fri evening we had dinner at the Taco House with my niece Lauren and her boyfriend Andrew. The weather looked threatening, so we opted not to eat outside on the patio. We had a nice dinner inside with lively conversation. I hadn’t seen Lauren since Easter so we had some catching up to do. After dinner we went for a walk, so we could make room to have a little ice cream for desert. Then they came here to the house for a little visit, and stayed until almost midnight.

Sat morning Bugsy came over to try and resuscitate our old computer so we could find a list of funny drag queen/king names. Good old Bugsy was able to get the old computer running and we found the file right away! He saved it to a floppy, and then we installed it on the current computer. Now I can begin adding new names to it. Maybe a new feature of this blog will be to share a drag queen/king name on each post. After we finished the computer stuff we had a cup of coffee and chatted for a little while with Joe.

Then Joe & I went to Silver Spring to visit our friends Bill & Tom. A few months ago they moved in with one another and into a townhouse. They gave us a ‘tour’ of their new home, we told them about our house hunt in DE, and we went to the downtown area to have lunch at Eggspecations. Contrary to what the name might imply, they have lots of menu items that do not contain eggs. We had a very nice time catching up with these friends and riding in Bill’s new Mustang!

After a brief stop at home, we drove to Springfield and picked up Joe’s mom, and then drove back to town for James’ 50th birthday party/magic show. That’s right; James performed a magic show at the party! As a teen James had performed magic shows as such noteworthy locations as the Grafton, WV home for delinquent boys! For his 50th birthday party, he resurrected his old act and added a few new slights-of-hand. It was great! Then we drove Evelyn back home, stayed for a grilled cheese sandwich at 11pm, then drove home.

Sun morning we drove back to Springfield to pick up Evelyn again (why didn’t we just stay overnight?) and headed out to Manassas for George’s birthday breakfast at Kerry & Hugh’s. As usual, we had a terrific time. Kelly, and Ana & Jose and Emely & Javier were there too. Then we drove Evelyn back home, and came back to our house and started tidying up in preparation for Lupe’s visit. Lupe is James & Ron’s housekeeper, whom they highly recommended to us. Lupe came to see our house and set a schedule to come and clean.

I hope it doesn’t sound snooty or elitist that we are going to have a housekeeper again. We had one for several years, but stopped her from coming when I was laid off from my job a few years ago. I think it well worth it to have a housekeeper because neither of us likes to clean our house, so we don’t do it on a regular basis. Without a housekeeper I get depressed and feel disgusted that our house is in such need of a thorough cleaning. With a housekeeper I know that every two weeks the entire house will get a good cleaning, and we just need to tidy up in between those cleanings. Since we are often gone on weekends, we would have to do house cleaning in the evenings. Most of the time I am too tired for that. It’s all I can do to wash/dry/put away laundry in the evenings. So Lupe will come tomorrow for her inaugural cleaning. I can’t wait!

Sun afternoon we did some more tidying and then Joe took a nap and I watched 3 back-to-back episodes of “Sell This House”. Then we had dinner and watched “Desperate Housewives”.

All through the weekend we have been having terrific lightening and thunderstorms and torrential downpours of rain, one after another. Sometimes the storm will stop for 30 minutes, and then repeat. Other times we’ll go several hours (during the day) without a storm, and then have 3-4 storms in the late afternoon and early evening. There have been flash flood watches and warnings (I can never remember which is which) for the last 3 days. The traffic has been very heavy because the rain is sometimes so heavy you can’t see to drive. There have been lots of car accidents and trees down on the roadways, making traffic even worse. Some of the downtown tunnels have been closed due to flooding. Some streets and government buildings have also been closed due to flooding. Joe’s sister’s basement is leaking badly – she said things were ‘floating’. We have wet spots in our basement too, and we’ve discovered we have a leak in our roof! Great timing. After 3 days of record rainfall and 2 more days of it predicted, we have a leak in our roof. As soon as it stops raining (on Thursday maybe?) we’ll call a roof company to see if the leak can be repaired. I have a sneaking suspicion they are going to tell us our roof is “too old” and that the entire thing needs to be replaced. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Please pray for us.

Drag Queen name of the day: Eva Destruction

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Last week the weather was gorgeous! We were able to keep our windows open at home for several days. I love sleeping with the windows open. Since we left for the beach on Fri evening, we left the a/c turned off. But then Sat the weather changed, and it’s been over 90 degrees every day since then. When we returned home Sun night, it was SO HOT, particularly upstairs, that the a/c just couldn’t seem to work fast enough. I had a really hard time getting to sleep because of the heat.

Last weekend we had a great time at the beach with Bugsy & Roger. In addition to time on the beach, we also did a little shopping, reading, eating, cocktail drinking, and laughing. One of the things that produced some laughter was Joe’s assertion that the lyrics to “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” were “Badder than Nat King Cole; meaner than a junkyard dog.” Thank god for the internet, which confirmed the correct lyrics to be “Badder than Old King Kong; meaner than a junkyard dog.”

Tues after work I went on a vacuuming spree! We’ve been busy and out of town so many weekends that we really hadn’t cleaned our house recently. Having both a dog and a cat, the pet hair accumulates quickly. It can make me feel depressed when the house is dirty, so I spent over an hour vacuuming and it made me feel great when I was done!

I got very upset this week when I heard that the Senate had voted NOT to increase the minimum wage. While the poor have not seen an increase in the minimum wage in over 10 years, the Congress voted last week to give themselves yet another pay raise! Remember that the Congress also has the very best medical insurance which is paid for by tax-payers, including those making minimum wage. There’s something very wrong with this picture…

Yesterday Joe bought pork barbeque and buns at the store for dinner. Rather than putting the buns in the pantry, he simply tossed the package onto the kitchen table. He went to his private practice appointments, and when I got home I spent some time on the computer, not paying attention to the dog. (Note that clever use of foreshadowing.) Later I came downstairs and fed the dog. Normally when I ask her if she wants to eat, she excitedly gives me a bark (yes) and wags her tail. I took note that she seemed much less eager to eat than usual, but quickly dismissed it as a possible side affect of her advancing age. When Joe got home and we prepared to eat he asked me what I had done with the buns. I responded that I hadn’t done anything with them. A moment later he said “Come look at this!” When I got in the kitchen, Joe pointed to the empty plastic bag, under the kitchen table. Jordan had pulled the bag off the table and eaten all 8 buns!! I was afraid she’d get sick from all that bread but she didn’t. We wound up eating the barbequed pork over crushed potato chips (I know, that sounds so ‘white trash’) since we had no buns or bread.

There was another Mullet Man sighting yesterday, only this time he was alone. I fear my earlier predictions may have come true regarding his friends' and co-workers' embarassment over being seen with him in public.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Marathon of Homes

Sun we drove up to the beach to meet with our realtor.

We've been using to located homes in the beach community we plan to move to and Lee Ann has been emailing us the fact sheets and taking us to see the homes. One day a few weekends ago we went into 9 homes with her, plus about 5 or 6 more open houses without her. It was fun, but we found we needed to start making notes on the fact sheets for later reference, as some of the houses were similar and we would begin to forget which was which.

One of the homes we saw on our first outing with Lee Ann was a waterfront contemporary, located on a large natural pond. (I say 'natural pond' because many communities have man-made ponds no deeper than your knees, with a fountain in the middle.) This home had a bulkhead where you could keep a small boat. The view from the deck was stunning. However, the house was too small; probably only about 1/2 the size of our current home. Since the price was quite reasonable compared to everything else, I designed an addition for the house, to expand it to meet our needs and wants. Knowing there were many details that would have to be figured out and others who might also be looking at it, I tried to keep my expectations low, and we kept looking for something that might already be the right size for us and not need expansion.

With so many properties on the market, we decided to narrow our search to only homes that are waterfront or have a waterview. Lee Ann sent us 18 listings and we decided we wanted to see 15 of them... plus 2 other homes that were in the same neighborhood as one of the homes with a waterview... and we wanted to go inside the contemporary on the pond again to measure for the proposed addition. In case you're counting, that's 18 houses... in 1 afternoon. Lee Ann confessed that she'd never show 18 homes in 1 day to anyone else, but that from our previous tours she thought we could handle it. Armed with fact sheets and pen, we set forth.

In reality we didn't go inside all 18 homes. One was having the floors refinished so we were only able to drive by and look from the outside. The "view" was quite overstated so we scratched it off our list. Another house we were unable to get inside because the listing realtor did not leave the key as promised, but we looked at it from the outside and made plans to return the next day. Then one other house was under contract, so we disregarded it.

The majority of the homes with a "water view" were disappointing. Some had views of a small man-made pond with a fountain in it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just wasn't what we were looking for. Then other houses with direct water access via docks or bulkheads were of such poor construction, so overpriced, or in such a state of disrepair that we could easily take them out of contention. These weren't inexpensive houses either. That reasonably priced contemporary with the bulkhead and stunning view of the pond for which I designed the addition seemed like our best bet - until we found out it had a contract on it.

Then I started thinking about another reasonably priced modular ranch on a waterfront lot in the same neighborhood as the contemporary. It was also small, and was horribly dated. I'm talking harvest gold appliances and busy linoleum in the kitchen, avocado bathrooms, small bedrooms, horrible carpet over plywood, and the clearest sign of a modular home: sheet paneling instead of drywall. It had a lovely view of the natural pond and was even less expensive than the contemporary. My mind drifted to what is done here in the DC area when the land is more valuable than the structure: they bulldoze the house and build a new one.

To me this was the ideal situation. The lot was worth the asking price in my opinion, and I felt confident we could negotiate it down even further. Designing a house to replace it would allow us the freedom to have rooms sizes that makes sense for us, where they made sense for us, and where they could take maximum advantage of the view. Although not certain, Lee Ann thought we could likely build a medium size house for about the same price as we'd pay for the lot, which was still in the price range we'd established. This seemed almost too good to be true! And you know what they say about things that are too good to be true...

Joe was not on board with this idea. He said he'd feel overwhelmed trying to design a house. "No problem!" I said. "I'll design it!" Then he said he thought it would be very expensive to have the house demolished and hauled away, although we have absolutely no information on what that might really cost. For some reason, he is just not into the idea of bulldozing the modular house (where absolutely NOTHING is worth saving) and designing/building a house of our choosing to replace it.

So, at this point we've now seen every home that is listed as waterfront or having a waterview within our price range, and we've got nothing to be excited about.

Since we have a place to stay up there, we do not have to buy anything soon. So we're going to just enjoy the summer at our beach house, and when Lee Ann sees something new come on the market she thinks we'll like, she'll let us know. Perhaps by the end of the summer the prices will start coming down and more waterfront/waterview properties will come into our price range. For now we are not going to worry or feel pressured to do anything until we both feel its right. Or until I can think of a way to convince Joe that I'm right.

Kickball et al

Kerry & Hugh had their 3rd annual kickball tournament/pool party/riverfest/cookout extravaganza in their community in the Northern Neck of VA on Sat.

We went to the first one, 2 years ago, but it was so stinkin' hot and humid that no one wanted to play kickball or even be outside. We spent most of the time inside their log house, which they built from a kit, with the help of many family and friends. The 2nd year we attempted to go, but got caught in a horrible traffic jam on 95, and since I was sick anyway, we finally turned around after 2 hours and drove home.

This year, things couldn't have been more perfect! We left earlier and didn't run into any traffic jams to speak of. The weather was incredibly delightful. It was sunny, about 75 degrees, with a light breeze. Not too hot, not too cool - it was just beautiful.

When we arrived we had sandwiches, chips and drinks. There was a bounty of food, and this was just the lunch. We met some new people and visited with many friends from before. There was plenty of room to mix and mingle at the pavilion area where the food and tables and pool were located.

Then it was time for kickball. We mixed the children and the adults and formed 2 teams. Since it had been fully 150 years since I'd played kickball, I asked for a quick refresher on the rules, and then we got to kickin'. The competition was light, but the fun was abundant. One of the funnier moments was when a female player lost her shoe - 3 times - trying to kick the ball. The final time a player caught her shoe then tagged her with it! Another funny but less obvious highlight was when it was my turn to kick. As I ran toward the ball on my approach I heard from the sidelines "Jazz hands!" (Uh huh... I heard you.)

After the kickball game ended, many of us walked a short distance to the river. A friend of Kerry & Hugh's house backs to the river so we used his dock. There was a large water trampoline bobbing against the end of the dock, and many of the children enjoyed jumping on it and into the water. Unfortunately that was short-lived when some others began to spot jellyfish in the water.

Not long afterward we smelled the beguiling scent of grilled food! There were 3 charcoal grills with hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, chicken breasts, and corn-on-the-cob halves sizzling to perfection. I was amazed how quickly they cooked all that food, and it was delicious. We had a feast fit for a king, and enjoyed more conversation and fun.

Knowing we had a 3-hour drive to get home and a full day the next day, we left shortly before 7pm. Once again we had no bad traffic, despite the many warnings about the road closures related to the Woodrow Wilson bridge project. It was a fantastic day!

Date Night

I'm sure you've heard of couples who occasionally have a "date night". Although married or living together for years, they set aside a night to enjoy "date" activities such as dinner and a movie. I've always thought this was a great way for couples to reconnect on a slightly different, almost romantic level. But please don't call it "date night" in front of Joe, as he would surely scoff at the monaker. (We occasionally have slightly different ideas of what is romantic.)

This past Fri, without any planning or forethought, we had a "date night". We had a free Fri night and rather than stay home and watch TV or surf the internet, we decided to go to the movies. Without anyone else. Just the two of us. Sort of like a date. Very unusual.

We decided to see the 8pm showing of "X-Men III". Normally I do not buy popcorn, soda or snacks at the theatre in protest to the exorbitant price of the food - to say nothing of the $9.50 to see the movie. But we hadn't eaten dinner, and with the 8pm movie likely letting out near 10pm, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. So we got a large popcorn and soda for $9.25 and just enjoyed the 'splurge'. We liked the movie, although there were parts that seemed just too far 'out there' even for X-Men. All-in-all we thought of it as a fun summertime film. The popcorn and soda did the trick and tied me over until the movie ended around 10pm.

Then we had a late dinner at Coastal Flats, a southern/nouveau restaurant with a Charleston/Savannah kind of feel and decor. We'd eaten there before and really enjoyed our meals. Fri night we decided to do something a little different. Since it was after 10pm and neither of us wanted a full-on meal, we ordered the crab imperial appetizer to start, wonderful salads of wild field greens, cranberries, goat cheese, and champagne vinaigrette, followed by dessert. I had the key lime pie and Joe had the homemade banana pudding. Of course we traded bites of our desserts so we'd both be able to enjoy them both. I love to order food that is shared with a loved one. That is romantic to me.

It was almost 11:30 when we left the restaurant, but I didn't feel sleepy so we watched a little TV before going to bed. Although I'd never call it "date night" in front of Joe, we had a lovely... night doing things that are typically done by two people who are on a date.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Losing my cool paid off

After sleeping in on Sun, I asked Joe to help me with that huge pile of mulch in the driveway. He was reluctant, and then started talking about 'not feeling well'. I began to get frustrated, remembering how I nearly wrecked myself the Fri of the previous week trying to tackle the mulch pile alone.

Then I went into the bathroom and saw all of his "stuff" all over the sink and the toilet tank lid. As I turned to throw away the empty cardboard toilet paper roller, I saw various pieces of trash on the bathroom floor. It was then that I lost my cool.

What follows is the gist of what I said, although I can't be sure of the exact wording. You'll get the picture.

"I can't believe you are so damn lazy that you just drop trash on the floor! You just can't be bothered to make sure that the trash winds up in the trashcan, can you? I am sick and tired of cleaning up after you like you were a child." I wasn't finished.

"And then there's all this CRAP all over the sink. You've got a medicine cabinet, that other white cabinet over the toilet, and the vanity - all of which are inside the bathroom - in which to put your crap. Then, just 5 steps outside the bathroom is an entire linen closet full of storage space! I'm sick of knocking stuff into the sink because you're too damn lazy to put it away. You've got until noon to put this crap away or I'm throwing it all in the trash. I'm not kidding. I'm going outside now, but I'm coming back in at noon and I swear I will throw every piece of crap into the trash if you don't put it away." Nope, I still wasn't done.

"I can't believe you won't help me with this mulch. I go to work every day while you're here at home. And on the weekends, my time off, you can't help me get this mulch from the driveway to the flower beds? I've never seen such a lazy person in my life! And it wouldn't kill you to push the vacuum around once in a while, either! This place is filthy, and there's no reason you can't do a little cleaning once in a while, since you're home ALL DAY LONG!" I was finally done.

It is very unlike me to blow up like that. I think part of it was that I'd been feeling the pressure of knowing there is so much to be done before we are able to put our house on the market, and with Joe leaving to start his new job in a few weeks, I felt like everything would then rest on me. Keeping bothersome feelings inside too long isn't a good idea. The rest of it was just my needing to vent to Joe about his lack of participation around the house in general, and would be the same regardless of us preparing to move. So I said my peace, although that hardly seems an appropriate term for it.

I carried a load of laundry to the basement and tossed it into the washing machine, then went to the kitchen and unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher. (Yes, I'd loaded and run the dishwasher the night before.) Then I took all the dirty dishes from the sink and loaded them into the dishwasher, cleaned off the counters, put away the jar of peanut butter and other non-perishable food items that had been left out, and went outside.

Losing my cool apparently paid off. A few minutes after starting to work on the mulch pile, Joe came outside in his yard work clothes and said he'd help me with the mulch. I thanked him and we started working together, as a team again. He filled the wheel barrel and I placed the newspaper down and spread the many loads of mulch he dumped. Although it wasn't spoken, I could tell he'd forgiven me for blowing up at him, and I'd forgiven him for his laziness. We talked as we worked and the time flew by.

About 2 1/2 hours later, as we'd finished the mulch, Joe suggested that we clean the screened porch. I said "Great! You go ahead and get started and I'll be there in a few minutes." I swept up the driveway, put away the tools and newspaper, and joined him in the back yard. He'd already moved all the furniture out of the screened porch, swept, and hosed/mopped the floor! It was going on 3:00 so we decided to stop, shower, and have a late lunch.

Over lunch we talked about our plans for the summer, which weekends we had friends coming to the beach with us, and then mentally reviewed the houses we'd seen so far. When we returned home I cleaned the porch furniture and moved it back onto the porch. What a wonderfully productive day!

Then we went for a drive in the convertible on the parkway. It was a gorgeous evening and the drive was as pleasant as it could be. This will be something I'll miss when we've moved away from DC.

Sailing on Sat

On Sat we went sailing. Yard sailing, that is.

Every year this neighborhood near us has a gigantic neighborhood yard sale. They close off a street and all the neighbors bring their unwanted or no longer needed items to the street to sell. They've been having this big yard sale for about 18 years, I think. For the last few years it has been our tradition to go with my aunt Mary. The Newlyweds have also gone the last 2 years, as they are avid bargain hunters as well.

In the past I've gotten lots of great bargains. One year I got a complete place setting for 8 of dishes for $10. I didn't need the dishes, but they were such a good bargain (and quite attractive) that I bought them anyway with the idea I would donate them to a needy family. I kept those dishes for almost 6 months until the call came for 'Secret Santa'. I was thrilled to have them to give.

Another year I bought a ceramic bowl with an iris on it for $5. There was a chip broken off one the petals of the iris but I liked it anyway.

This year I got a cute metal side table for $8. The top was painted to look like its wood, with a small flower and leaf motif on the top. It folds up for easy storage, and since it is metal it can be used indoors or outdoors. Delightful!

Afterward we went to the large Civitan yard sale that is actually not held in anyone's yard, but rather in a County parking garage. Dozens of people have paid a small fee to set up tables to sell their stuff. You find more 'collectibles' at this sale, as opposed to the unwanted/no longer needed items at the neighborhood sale.

I didn't buy anything this time, but the last time we went to the Civitan sale I bought a very cute set of 3 vintage aluminum canisters, embossed with 'sugar', 'flour', and 'tea' in art deco style lettering. They look fab in our kitchen, with our stainless steel appliances.

We used to go yard sailing all the time, in our earlier years when we were still nesting and 'setting up housekeeping' as the old folks would say. These days we shudder at the thought of what we'll do with all our "stuff" when we move. If our next house doesn't have exactly the same number and size of rooms, something won't fit. But then I tell myself to relax and not feel too attached to this "stuff". After all, its not the "stuff" - but rather the people - that makes the life.

And speaking of "the people", after the yard sailing we 'sailed' out to Kerry & Hugh's. Kerry's cousin Mary and her husband Art were visiting from New Hampshire, so we spent the afternoon with them and Kerry's sister and dad. The weather was just beautiful so we drove out with the top down, and then all sat on their front porch talking, laughing, and eating. We had a lovely time, and I couldn't believe how quickly the day had passed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Employment Update

If you recall in my May 1 post I talked about Joe’s upcoming interview for the job with the state of DE. I purposely haven’t posted about it because things were still a bit uncertain for a while, but now its time to provide an update.

He felt his interview went very well. It was a typical panel interview, where the 3 panelists took turns asking questions while another of the panelist took notes. They were impressed with Joe’s qualifications and were a bit surprised that he would even be interested in the job. In fact, they asked him why he applied for a job where he’d manage 4 people when he’s previously held positions where he ran an entire department or site. He explained that it was our interest in relocating to DE that first caused him to look into the state jobs, and that it was his interest in this particular position that resulted in his application.

The man leading the interview brought up the salary issue, indicating that the position would not be able to match his last salary as the Director of a clinic. He responded that he understood, and was prepared for a lesser salary since he knew the cost of living was less expensive in DE. Joe also told him that he’d seen the mid-range salary on the job posting and was comfortable with that. The interview leader explained that most new employees start at the bottom of the salary range for the job grade rather than the mid-point range. Joe said that he felt his many years of experience in the field should be taken into consideration. All in all, Joe felt the interview went well.

About 2 weeks later Joe received a call from one of the other male interviewers (not the interview leader), indicating they had selected him as the candidate with which they wanted to move forward. Joe responded positively. Then the panelist brought up the salary question again, asking if Joe would be willing to take the position at the starting salary. Joe said no, but indicated he would be willing to take the position at the mid-range salary. The panelist explained that it wasn’t done often, and would require ‘more than just a phone call’. Apparently they would have to fill out some paperwork and write up a justification for starting a new employee at a rate higher than the entry salary. But the panelist said that he would be the supervisor for this position and he wanted Joe, so they would proceed with the necessary paperwork.

Joe told the panelist that he would like to visit the site where he’d be working and meet the team he’d be managing before making a final commitment. The panelist thought it was a great idea and agreed to set it up. So a few days later, Joe drove to the panelist’s office and they rode together to the site. Its located in an old, red brick fire station that’s been converted into office space. He met the team he’d be managing and asked them questions to get to know them, their work, and their strengths/weaknesses. He felt a good connection with them and they seemed to like him too. He found their collective ‘style’ to be similar to his own, which pleased him. So on the drive back to the panelist’s office Joe told him he was willing to commit to taking the position, pending the approval of the mid-range starting salary. He and the panelist were happy when they parted ways.

Up to this point, I had not yet discussed with my boss the possibility of us moving to DE and me establishing a home office. I was pretty sure my boss would be comfortable with this, since I know of others in the company and even within my job classification who have home offices, but I’d not broached the subject with my boss yet.

I asked my two colleagues if they thought I should tell my boss before I knew about Joe and his job possibility, or if they thought I should wait and tell my boss when I knew for sure that Joe had gotten the job. They agreed that I should wait until I knew for sure that Joe had the job so that I could tell our boss we were moving, and that I would like to take my job with me. They thought this would give me more leverage. I also began to think this was wise, just in case Joe didn’t get the job or didn’t want the job I wouldn’t have to go back to my boss and say ‘never mind’ about moving.

Just by coincidence, on the very day when Joe was having his site visit and meeting the team, my boss stopped in at my office on his way to a meeting in the area. He asked me how things were going, etc, and then asked how Joe’s private practice was going. I explained that it was increasing slowly, but that Joe was considering applying for a job he’d seen online in DE. I told my boss that he’d asked me how this might affect my job and I told him I was comfortable inquiring with my boss about the possibility of taking my job to DE and having a home office, since others in the company had done so. Before I could even finish the so-called conversation, my boss said, “Sure – I’d have no problem with that at all.”

All during this process I’ve been saying to Joe ‘Go ahead and apply for the job, but with no expectations. Let’s just put it out there and see how the Universe responds’. I truly was prepared for whatever feeling or indication we might receive. If Joe didn’t get selected for an interview, or didn’t like the job or location, or if my boss was not open to the idea of me working from a home office – any of these things likely would have been received by us as the Universe telling us to stay put. But to the contrary, everything seemed to be indicating the opposite.

Gently, and little by little, we’ve been leaking a little of this information to our family and the friends we’ve seen recently. Neither of us really wants to come out and say “We’re moving!” because Joe hasn’t gotten his formal offer letter with the agreed upon salary yet, and because we don’t want to shock those who are close to us and who probably had no idea what we’ve been considering. First Joe told his sister, who was not very enthusiastic. She and Joe are very close and see each other frequently. Us living 120 miles away would reduce the frequency with which they’d be able to get together. She likely also feels as Joe’s mother feels: After a few months we won’t come back to visit very much. We have dinner with Joe’s mother every Thursday, so that would not be possible after we move. I also told my aunt Mary, who initially had a similar reaction. She believes us when we say we’ll come back often to visit, but is afraid that after awhile we’ll get tired of all that travel and will not come back as often. Fortunately the few friends we’ve told have been more supportive.

There are many details to be discussed and figured out as this begins to change from a possibility to a reality, but I’ll report on those in later posts. For now, I’m just smiling about the idea of living near the beach.

Memorable Memorial Day weekend

Michael & Jamie (aka: the Newlyweds) went to the beach with us for the 3-day Memorial Day weekend. After dinner on Fri, we 4 humans and our 2 dogs set out for the beach at 9pm. The traffic was beautiful and we sailed into Lewes in our usual 2 ½ hours, just like clockwork.

Sat we lingered over breakfast (Joe made pancakes, sausage, fruit, juice and coffee) until after 11, and then decided to go for an exploratory ride to Milford. After admiring the architecture of the beautiful turn-of-the-century homes we stopped in the large Salvation Army store and then had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We walked along the river walk and saw a group of young people playing basketball. It was a beautiful day. We returned to let the dogs out and change our clothes, and then went to the beach. It was quite breezy but very warm and sunny. We all went for a walk, and sat and enjoyed the sites.

I fired up the little charcoal grill and while we waited for the coals to get hot, we had cocktails. Then we had hamburgers and bratwursts, baked beans, and potato salad for dinner! It was delicious, and just what I’d been hoping for. Then we watched a DVD we’d rented: “The Family Stone”. It was okay, but we were all a bit thrown by it. I remember it seemed like a comedy when I’d seen the commercials for it last fall. But all 3 of the funny scenes must have been in that commercial because the rest of the movie was much more sober. Its about a family getting together for Christmas, finding out that the mother has terminal cancer, and realizing it will be the last Christmas they all spend together. Sarah Jessica Parker (of ‘Sex and the City’ fame) plays an uptight NYC business woman who is about to become engaged to one of the sons, although none of the others in the family seem to like her.

While watching the DVD we suddenly heard the sound of water dripping onto the kitchen floor. It was coming from the a/c vent in the ceiling. Not a good sign. We quickly deduced that the a/c unit’s condensation drain must be clogged so we turned the unit off and opened the windows and doors. Fortunately it was cooler by then and a bit breezy so we weren’t uncomfortable. Sun morning I called an a/c repairmen listed in the local phone book as being available for emergencies, 24/7. I wondered if he could hear the amazement in my voice when he said he’d be there in 40 minutes – on a Sun morning! Sure enough, he arrived while we were eating breakfast (eggs with green chilies, bacon and banana nut muffins), quickly diagnosed and repaired the issue (our suggestion was correct) and he was out the door. It only cost $128. Now, in the Northern VA area, it would likely have cost at least $128. just for the guy to show up on a regular workday, with an advance appointment. So you can imagine how delighted we were that this guy who came so quickly on a Sun morning had not ripped us off.

Later we walked to the community pool to get our passes for the season. They were having the community pool party, with free food and drinks and door prizes. We got our passes and stayed for pretzel dogs (hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough – a delicacy!), soda, chips, and TCBY sundaes. We didn’t win any of the door prizes, which was just fine. Then we drove into Rehoboth and went for a nice walk on the boardwalk. Again it was a lovely warm and sunny day. We got soft-serve ice cream cones from Kohrs Brothers and walked around downtown. For dinner we had the left-overs from the previous night’s cookout, then headed to the movie theater to see “X-Men III”. The 9pm show was sold out, so Jamie & Michael got tickets to the 9:40 show. I was right behind them in line but when I asked for 2 tickets to the same show, the woman replied that it was now sold out. Michael & Jamie had literally gotten the last 2 tickets. I explained that the 4 of us were together so the woman said she’d refund their tickets. We returned to the house and played Scrabble (I won), read, and watched TV.

Mon morning’s breakfast consisted of coffee, juice, and the left-over cake from the previous 2 nights. After lots and lots of interesting conversations we went to the miniature golf place with the most waterfalls and animals. We played a round (I won), and all remarked how much more fun it was than we thought it would be. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I’d played miniature golf; at least 15 years. Joe, Jamie & Michael all wanted to take a nap that afternoon, so I went to the community pool. There was only 1 woman there, apparently asleep on a lounge chair. I positioned myself for maximum tanning potential and began reading the latest issue of “Letters from Camp Rehoboth”. After what seemed like 15-20 minutes, the woman got into the pool and I decided to get in too. I was pretty hot.

The woman introduced herself as Linda, and pointed out where in the community she lived. She asked where I lived, and I explained where our house was, but that it was a weekend and summer place for us. She told me about her son who just graduated from college on Sat, her other son who is a classical guitarist looking for a job, her job, her divorce, her gay friend the decorator, and her monthly cocktail parties. (She wasn’t nearly as scary as she sounds from this post.) I shared with her some info about me and Joe. Then an older woman entered the pool area and said hello to Linda. It was Linda’s next door neighbor, Sandy, who joined us in the water. Sandy used to teach school but now works in the public library. She’s lived in the area for 35 years, but just moved to this community 6 weeks ago. Then 2 more women entered the pool area with 2 boys. Sandy recognized the older woman as Maureen who frequently comes into the library. Maureen was there with her daughter, Christine and her 2 boys. Turns out, Christine lives 2 doors down from our place. We’d seen them move in, back in Nov but hadn’t seen Christine outside since then, although we often see her boys outside playing. It was odd, but I really felt like I’d made some new friends at the pool. I repeated their names at least 3 times to help me remember them. I think Linda could be a fun lady to occasionally hand out with since she has cocktail parties and her house was partially decorated by her gay male friend.

Sadly it was time for the long weekend to end, so we packed up our things and left the beach a little after 7pm. We ran into some traffic so it took us 3 hours to get home, but we didn’t mind. We just talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company in the truck, just as we had done all weekend long.

Friday fiasco

I left work at 3:00 on Fri (the company released us early for the holiday) and I came home to find the load of mulch I’d ordered weeks ago had been delivered on my driveway. I’d remembered it was coming – just in time for us to be away for the holiday weekend!

Knowing I had a few hours until we’d be meeting the Newlyweds for dinner, I decided to don my yard work clothes and get started. I borrowed my neighbor’s wheel barrel and got my shovel, thatch rake and gloves. (No splinters in these hands!) I laid out the newspapers (to deter weeds) and used the wheel barrel to move a load from the pile onto the newspapers, and then spread it with the thatch rake. It was working well.

Then I began to hear the rumbling of thunder. It had been overcast all day, so I really wasn’t expecting rain, but now it appeared we were in for a storm. Sure enough, just after carefully placing my next section of newspapers, a gust of wind blew them around as the rain began to fall. I stepped up onto the front porch, hoping this would be a quick shower, but soon the thunder, lightning, and torrential rain dispelled my optimism.

So I went inside, had a glass of water and went online to read some blogs. About 30 minutes later the storm ended, the sun shined brightly, the way it does after a freakish summer storm, and I headed back outside.

I repeated my process of laying the newspaper, filling the wheel barrel with mulch, dumping it on the papers, and spreading it with the thatch rake. After about 20 minutes of this my back was really feeling it. Since I don’t exercise regularly (read: at all) any kind of physical activity like this usually results in sore muscles for me, so I wasn’t surprised. I took a break for a few minutes, and then returned to the task at hand. After another 20 minutes or so, my back was really hurting and I started to feel light-headed. I decided I’d done enough, and went inside for a cool shower.

As I climbed the steps I felt so light-headed and nauseous I thought I might pass out or throw up. I told myself I’d just gotten overheated and that the cool shower would fix that. I stripped off my sweaty yard work clothes and stepped into the water. At this point I was so short of breathe I thought I was going to black out, and didn’t want to bash my head on the tub, so I lay down in the tub and let the cool water wash over me.

After a few minutes I didn’t feel hot or overheated anymore, but I still felt light-headed and nauseous. I got up to wash myself, but could barely rinse the soap off before needing to lie down in the tub again. After a few more minutes, I turned off the water and just lied in the tub for several more minutes.

Although in the next room packing, Joe was completely unaware of anything I was going through. I called out to him and asked for help getting out of the tub. He placed towels on the floor and I lied there for a few minutes, during which time he asked me a bunch of questions. We decided this was likely because I didn’t eat lunch (and I never eat breakfast) so my blood sugar level must have plummeted as a result of the unusual physical exertion combined with the lack of nutrition. Not very smart of me. I’ll remember this. Joe brought me a ‘power bar’ to eat, and then I moved myself from the bathroom floor to the bedroom.

After lying on the bed for a few more minutes, I was able to get up and move around (slowly) without feeling like I was going to pass out or throw up. I had more water to drink, and then put some clothes in the suitcase and watched TV until the Newlyweds arrived. We went to dinner and I felt a lot better, then the four of us headed to the beach. I felt good enough to drive.