Busy weekend

Tootsies

Have you ever spent any time trying to write with your non-dominant hand? Your brain knows how to form the letters, but somehow it has trouble directing your hand to move in the direction you know it needs to go. That’s how I’m feeling right now because we got a new computer this weekend, and it’s a MacBook. It has a keyboard and a mouse and a screen, but everything else is different enough that I have that weird sensation of writing with my left hand. I’ll leave the particulars about the computer to J.P., as it’s really his story to tell. And he has accompanying photos!

Friday I got a haircut! Woohoo—aren’t you excited? It’s sad, but I was. You see, my hair had been driving me crazy! And I thought my appointment was this coming Friday, so I was prepared to deal with it for one more week. Good thing they left a reminder message on the machine, or I would’ve missed it.

In the afternoon, my freshly-cut hair and I went to the home of our neighbor’s daughter. Said daughter had a daughter two months ago, and I was to take pictures. It was my first session with someone I didn’t really know, so I was a little nervous. But despite spit-up and a little crankiness (on the baby’s part, not mine!), I think it went okay. The piggy pic above is my favorite one. (I know, Suzie, you’re really surprised about that.)

Yesterday was a flurry of rehearsing and cleaning and gift-shopping and painting and entertaining. We really should entertain more often, because it means the house gets cleaned. And boy did this house need it! It’s so nice to feel the clean kitchen floor underfoot. Not nice enough to do it more often, mind you, but nice nonetheless.

For dinner with our friends, J.P. grilled salmon and orange roughy, and we dined al fresco so we could enjoy the beautiful weather. Then it was inside for brownies and a rousing game of Uno with a six year-old.

Today I played at both the 8:00 and 9:30 services at church, and then we went to a baptism luncheon. I should’ve finished painting shutters this afternoon, but I decided to read for a while first. I got through a few chapters and realized a nap was in order. That was pretty much the rest of my afternoon, and it also explains why I’m still wide awake at 12:30.

Will I never learn?

Your wish is my command

Spooky old tree

I’ve driven by this tree for years, and every time I think, “I’ve gotta take a picture of that.” I just think it’s so cool looking. I’d love to get closer to it, but there’s a fence that prevents it. I think I might have to go back with the telephoto lens sometime. It reminds me of when Character Builder‘s son Alex was little guy, and he was afraid of the Berenstain Bears story The Spooky Old Tree.

And now to your requests from my last post . . . . Cherie thought I should take a shot looking down at something. Normally you don’t see our shutters lying on the ground, but J.P. risked life and limb to remove them from the house on Sunday. I’m in the midst of painting them, and here you see some that have been primed (lighter) and others that have been painted (darker). It’s not the most exciting photo, but I liked the way the lines were distorted. (I suppose that’s the purpose of the fisheye, huh?)

For Cherie

William suggested that I take pictures at the airport. What, William, you want me to get arrested? But I aim to please, so I took a shot of one of J.P.‘s transformers. Partial credit?

For William

Suzie, I tried to get to SF today to see you and the Golden Gate, but with all the airport delays my plan didn’t work out. But I’m sure you’ll forget all about me when you get to the beach this weekend.

A couple people suggested pictures of animals. Maggie decided she would cooperate tonight, and I was able to get this shot:

Big nose

And finally, OddMix asked for a picture of J.P. How’s this one, John? Does it qualify for “frazzle” on the WWC list this week?

Cookies & the Old House

J.P. and I flew to Minnesota this afternoon. My cousin is getting married this weekend, and we decided it was a good opportunity to come home and visit family that we haven’t seen since Christmas.

We flew Midwest Airlines, which we’d never done before. It meant connecting in Milwaukee, but it also meant bigger, leather, first-class-like seats, and these . . .

Mmmmm . .  .

They were baked on board the plane, and you should’ve smelled them as the flight attendant brought them down the aisle. When he saw them, J.P. pulled out the airline’s magazine. You know, the one with all their route maps in the back? Yeah, that one. He wanted to see where else we could go on this wonderful airline that serves warm cookies. There were lots of choices. I see more Midwest Airlines in our future.

As we were coming in for a landing, I managed to get a glimpse of this:

My MN House - From the Air

It’s my old house, which is obviously in the flight path. Once when I was on my way home from a business trip, I spotted it from the air and noticed that my then-boyfriend’s truck was parked in the driveway. I freaked him about a bit when I called him from the airport . . . “What were you doing at my house 30 minutes ago?”

And of course, since I wrote about it yesterday and then saw it from the air today, we had to drive by and see how it’s holding up.

My MN House - Six Years Later

The trees and shrubs are a bit bigger (do you think they look better now, Karen?), and the big trees in the back have been cut down. They should’ve come down while I lived there, but I couldn’t afford it. It looks pretty much the same, but I was disappointed to see weeds growing up in the landscaping and behind the picket fence. I wonder what the inside looks like now.

But once we got to my sister’s, all thoughts of the old house were gone. Because this is who was here to greet us. My three-year-old namesake, Lauren Sharkey. What a goof! The next few days should be very entertaining.

Princess Lauren

You can’t go home again

My MN House - Moving In Day

This is the suburban Minneapolis house that I bought (all by myself) in 1997. I signed the purchase agreement, and a few days later my parents came up to see it. I took them on a tour, and they tried to convince me to get out of the deal before the closing date. Looking at the exterior, you can probably see why.

What you can’t see here is the interior, which had been completely redone. New carpet, custom cabinets in the kitchen, hardwood floors in the bedrooms, and a glass block window in the tub/shower. It looked nice, and I liked it even though it was only 640 square feet. Yep, it was TINY!

I dreamt about this house last night. In my dream, J.P. and I had bought the house back . . . apparently without looking at it. When we moved in, we found that the kitchen counters were too low. They were about table-height, and the sink was only about 18 inches off the floor. How am I supposed to do dishes in that sink?!? (The house didn’t have a dishwasher when I lived there.)

Then I noticed that someone had installed a dishwasher. They’d cut a hole in the wall about three feet off the ground and stuck the dishwasher in it. No trim around it, no water source, nothing. Just shoved it right in there until the door was flush with the wall. I’m not sure how the whole dream came about, but it was weird.

When I actually lived there, I did make some improvements to the outside. My parents and their neighbors helped me paint the exterior, I had new windows installed, and I got rid of those horrible shrubs and did some other things around the yard. Here’s what the house looked like on the day I moved out (click either picture to view the Flickr notes and see exactly what was done):

My MN House - Moving Out Day

Because my parents thought the place was a dump (they weren’t completely wrong), I worried the entire time that I lived there. What if I can’t sell it? What if no one wants to buy it? What if I take a loss on the sale? What if, what if, what if?

Here’s a question I didn’t consider: What if it sells the first day it’s on the market? I shouldn’t have worried all that time, because that’s exactly what happened. It went for $5,000 more than the asking price, and $33,600 more than I’d bought it for three years earlier. I was so relieved! And the profit enabled J.P. and me to buy the house we have now.

The Easter bunny, he was here

After the hunt

Okay, so the rabbit wasn’t actually here—I hid 72 eggs around the yard. A dozen for each of the kids who was here today. Here are two of J.P.’s nephews counting their loot. To ensure that even the little kids would have a shot at finding some eggs, we color-coded them—that’s why things are lookin’ a little monochromatic.

J.P. and I had to be at church by 6:30, so the morning got off to an early start. We sang and I played at both the 7:00 and 9:00 services. Then we headed home to prepare Easter dinner for 15. Yes, 15! Thank God for sunny weather. And neighbors’ ovens. We had to bake the rolls next door because we ran out of room in our oven.

We spent yesterday spiffing up the yard—mowing, trimming, power-washing the deck, and potting flowers for the deck. We put the patio furniture out, and we’re ready for summer! And naps, apparently. As I write this, J.P. sleeps at one end of the couch, his mom sleeps at the other (they’re both sitting up and look terribly uncomfortable), and Mags is crashed next to me on the loveseat.

Speaking of crashing . . . I have seven more minutes of Desperate Housewives to watch, and then it’s off to bed. I have to rest up for our vacation later this week. Happy Easter!

Macy*s Mania

The chair that caused it all

You may remember that about a year ago, J.P. and I were working on finishing our living room. We installed crown moulding, painted, and got new furniture. Well, we completed all but one element of the living room before the baby shower that we held at the end of April. The chair pictured above didn’t arrive in time, and it turned into quite the little saga. Here’s a brief summary.

January 2, 2005
We order a couch and two chairs from the Macy’s furniture store in Cherry Hill, NJ. The sales person informs us that the furniture will arrive in 10-12 weeks.

Late March, 2005
I call Macy’s to see when our furniture will arrive. I’m told that one of the chairs and the couch are in, and they’ll deliver everything once the second chair arrives.

Early April, 2005
Still no furniture. After having several of my calls go unreturned, I happen to reach the store’s sales manager. I explain the problem, and while chair #2 still hasn’t arrived, she agrees to deliver the other two pieces so our baby shower guests have a place to sit.

April 20, 2005
The couch and chair #1 arrive. Chair #2 still MIA.

Mid-May, 2005
Macy’s still has not located chair #2. The manager thinks it may be lost in the warehouse. I think it may have been sold to someone else. She agrees to re-order the chair, and offers me a $60 Macy’s gift card for my trouble. Of course it will take another 10-12 weeks for the chair to arrive, and I’ll get my gift card after delivery. I’m not too happy with peace offering or the additional waiting, but the baby shower has already occurred, so it’s not that big a deal.

Mid-August, 2005
Macy’s calls to schedule delivery of our chair. Yeah! We’re almost there!

Early September, 2005
J.P. works from home so he can accept delivery of the chair. He calls me at the office to tell me of its arrival:

J.P.: Hey, honey, our chair is here! Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Me: Uh, oh. What’s the good news?
J.P.: Our chair is here!
Me: Um, okay . . . what’s the bad news?
J.P.: It’s the wrong one.
Me: &(*#^$@)!#!! Are you kidding me?!?

Yes, that’s right. They ordered the wrong chair. The delivery guys couldn’t believe it—it looked just like chair #1! Yep, it looked just like chair #1, but it wasn’t SUPPOSED to!

Macy’s reorders the chair (again!), and this time puts a rush on the order.

Mid-October, 2005
The chair arrives! The correct chair! Woohoo!

You might think the story ends here. Oh, how I wish it ended here. But remember that $60 gift card the manager offered me? Yeah, it was going to take more than that to make me happy.

I called Macy’s customer service number and explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone. Guess what she offered me? Yep, a $60 gift card. First of all, sixty bucks was NOWHERE NEAR enough compensation, and second of all, the LAST thing I wanted was to spend more money at Macy’s. I wanted cash on the barrelhead! There’s more to this part of the story, but in the end I got a 25% discount on the price of the chair.

Think that’s the end of it? Nope, not yet. When we placed the initial order, we put down a 25% deposit. When the couch and chair #1 were delivered, they prorated the deposit and applied a portion of it to our account. Cool. But guess what? When chair #2 was delivered, we didn’t get credit for the rest of the deposit. AND! When we paid what we owed on the chair, they applied it to the wrong portion of our account. So we had a credit balance on the regular revolving part of the account, and still owed them money on the major purchases part of the account.

While the late fees piled up, I struggled to explain (to no fewer than six different people) that the portion of the 25% deposit that they owed us was NOT the same as the 25% discount they gave me as compensation for screwing up so royally. I finally convinced them; the remaining deposit was applied, the late fees and interest were removed, and they got all of the numbers into the right columns.

In the end, they owed us about sixty bucks. And today, March 25, 2006—447 days after we placed the initial order—our refund check arrived in the mail.

The saga finally ends

Hallelujah!

Have I ever told you how good I have it?

J.P. hard at work

My husband steam-cleans carpets. Can my life get any better?