Sunday, August 29, 2010

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

Photo from: GOOD, New Orleans Issue Submissions:

Six-Word Motto for New Orleans

You know how some places call to you, even if you’ve never been there (at least not in this lifetime)? New Orleans is one of those places for me. To be specific, pre-Katrina New Orleans.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not romanticizing the place, nor do I think that New Orleans is only about Mardi Gras, loud raucous streets, good times, and tourists. I know that there were, and are, plenty of problems that are glossed over, and there’s a side of the place that not many get to see.

Even so, there’s just something about the place that whispered to my soul, and sometimes I wish I would have listened and heeded the call.

In the spring of 2005, as I was graduating with my Associates degree, I was contemplating where to transfer for my Baccalaureate degree, and ultimately my Masters degree. I was being recruited by a few Minnesota colleges and universities, and being offered some pretty sweet deals. There were a couple of out-of-state universities who were sending me information too, which was a surprise, considering I'd never contacted them. One out-of-state place was Tulane University, which offered me what amounted to almost a complete full ride. The catch, of course, was that we’d have to relocate to New Orleans.

At the time, Steve was working from home, so he could have gone anywhere, just so long as there was an internet connection and phone lines. We seriously discussed moving later in the summer so that I could go to Tulane, but in the end decided against it because it would be too far from his family, with whom he is very close.

It turned out to be a very good choice.

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana, Mississippi, and all along the Gulf Coast. If we had moved, we would have been there for about 2 weeks prior to that. Judging by how not-smoothly our previous moves have been, everything would still have been in chaos, and mostly in boxes. We would have lost most everything. I look at the news footage from then and my heart just aches. I can’t even begin to get my head around what those who rode out the storm went through. I was very alarmed at the ferocity of the storm when my family was caught in the edge of a tornado this summer, and all I had to worry about was whether or not the car was going to flip over. Compared to those who were there when the full force of Katrina hit, we got off easy.

So much was lost: lives, houses, belongings, faith, and some of that intangible essence which made New Orleans just one of those special places. Although some rebuilding has taken place with more to come, I know that it won’t ever be the same.

Yet, sometimes when I stop and listen, I can still hear her siren song calling me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Storage Closet of Doom

Of course I didn't take a before picture. I was too focused on getting everything OUT so I could do what I do best--paint.

But aside from the bed & the chair, here's what all was in it. It was a whole lot, although it doesn't look like it in the picture:

Then it was time to pick paint colors. I thought a cheery blue was in order. Um, NO.

This was too OMG!!!! BLUE!!!!!! and needed toned down. So I mixed a quart of white with the blue and got omg blue!!!! instead:

At this point, I decided a nice off-white would be good. It's actually a light tan (according to the Kid) and blends well with the existing hallway color, which Steve was a little perplexed about.

Then it was time for the bracing. I learned how to use a chop saw and a stud finder. I like the chop saw. I'm not so fond of the stud finder, but that may have more to do with how the drywall was installed. We started off with 2 shelves and then thought, "What the hell. Let's add a 3rd because we can." We had to add the weird smaller pieces so the shelf brackets would be level, because apparently that's important.

Installing the shelf brackets were a pain in my ass. But, they got done using 5/16" x 1 1/2" lag bolts. Those shelves aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Steve cut the shelves for me while I was out and about earlier this week, and I piled stuff back in last night, and marked #16. Paint hall storage closet & set up shelves as DONE.

The next closet is already emptied and ready to be painted. I have a feeling it won't take nearly as long. One hopes...

A Thing a Day, or 365 Less Things

I just read about this today over at the Unclutterer blog that I read a couple times a week. There's also a forum for people to post what they've gotten rid of. I also found a really cool blog written by someone who's doing the challenge, over at the 365 Less Things blog. Every day a picture is taken of the item being tossed/donated/sold/given away.

This challenge is something I can get behind. Most people who really know me, know that I have a low (VERY low) tolerance for stuff (stuff being defined as "clutter, visual or otherwise") and periodically go on tossing binges. One of the good things about doing the hallway storage closet is that I went through Every. Single. Box. that was already in there, and did a super quick sort.

I also took boxes out of the master bedroom closet, and went through them before putting things in the storage closet. Now, this first pass was mainly to see what was there, since some of (alright, MOST of) said boxes hadn't been opened since either I brought them home from my mom's house, or since we moved twice the year we built the new house. I can tell which boxes that I personally packed because there's not much wasted space (a skill learned by necessity because I moved so much between the ages of 18-23). Some of them, however, were most defintely NOT packed by me because there's like 3 items in the box. In some ways it was kind of like Christmas, "Oh! That's what happened to _____." In others it was a "And I kept this why again? And moved it twice (or more)?"

I'm going to give it more thought, but I'm seriously considering combining my 101 in 1001 item #101 "Do a 365 day photo challenge" with this and taking pictures of things I'm getting rid of. It'd defintely be a win-win.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Old Storage Closet

At this point I'm tempted to just toss everything back in said closet, shut the door, call it good and move on to the next project.

I got the wall bracings up just fine. Mostly. Except where I just missed the wall studs, which apparently aren't as straight as they could be. That whole measuring thing? Didn't work out so well. I mean, if the stud is X inches from the corner in one place, one would think it'd be the same all the way down the wall, right? Not so much. Meaning we ended up moving a couple of the leveling braces over a few inches. So we had to drill new holes, whereupon I promptly broke a drill bit because I hit something (no I don't know what). At which point I seriously considered throwing the drill at the wall because that would definitely have helped.

But wait! There's more!

And did I mention that the closet walls aren't perfectly square? Uh, yeah.

Hold up. I finally figured out what this reminds me of. That book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Except this would be the "If You Give Lisa Some Power Tools and Enough Time" version.

I think I need a new hobby.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

101 in 1001 July Roundup

I'm having more fun with this list than I did with the last one. Pretty sure it's because I'm not also attempting to do homework at the same time. So.

1. Get Emergency Fund up to $1000
2. Pay off and close Chase Visa
3. Pay off and close Target Visa
4. Get Emergency Fund up to 3 months (~12,000)
5. Get a used truck
6. Put a $50 bill in the second collection basket
7. Put a $100 bill in the second collection basket
8. Donate to the Food Shelf 10 times ($25 or equivalent) (0/10)
9. Leave a 100% tip 5 times (0/5)
10. Choose 2 kids from the Jesse Tree during Christmas & get them presents
11. Give to a family in need during the holidays
12. Buy a scratch-off lottery ticket & donate 25% of the winnings to charity

House Inside
13. Hang up 5 pictures
14. Frame Tree picture
15. Paint back room and closet
16. Paint hall storage closet & set up shelves
17. Spruce up front door area ( outside: welcome mat, flower pots/ inside: bench, mirror, lamp)
18. Finish basement
19. Back door/entryway re-do
20. Repaint & redo my office
21. Hang curtains or blinds in master bedroom & the Kid’s room
22. Get dining room chairs
23. Repaint Laundry Room
24. Repaint/redo master bathroom/closet

House Outside
25. Plant 5 trees in yard (0/5)
26. Put in back flower bed
27. Paint Storage Shed same color as house
28. Back entryway outside re-do (transition between steps and red rock)
29. Build garage
30. Put in front flower bed
31. Put in front tower flower bed
32. Put in side flower bed
33. Level out north side of house & put down the decorative rock
34. Get covers for grill & fireplace
35. Get rid of stumps in back yard
36. Get a flag for front porch (and install said flag)

To Do/Watch/Read

37. Watch 101 movies (3/101)
• The A-Team
• I Love You, Beth Cooper
• Despicable Me

38. Read 101 books (9/101)
• The Star Rover by Jack London
• Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
• Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
• The Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
• American Gods by Neil Gaiman
• Magic By the Lake by Edward Eager
• Map of Moments by Christopher Golden
• Shoot to Thrill by PJ Tracy
• The Language of Bees by Laurie R King

39. Go to a Cowboys-Vikings game
40. See 5 Minnesota Tourist Attractions (0/5)
41. Visit 5 art galleries in Minnesota (0/5)
42. Watch all seasons of “24” (0/8)
43. Watch all seasons of “MI-5” (0/9)
44. Complete a crossword puzzle book
45. Watch 5 documentaries (0/5)
46. Read 5 Non-fiction books (0/5)
47. Donate 100, 000 grains of rice on (0/100,000)
48. Do 5 things from the “365 Things to do in the Twin Cities” (1/5)
• Went to Cup Cake on 1 August 2010

49. Walk to work 30 times (0/30)
50. Bike around the lake
51. 175
52. 165
53. 155
54. 145
55. 135
56. Get eyes checked
57. Get new glasses or contacts
58. Get annual physical
59. Do the 200 sit-ups challenge
60. Track my progress with Wii Fit for 28 consecutive days.

Grown-up/Family stuff
61. Change life insurance beneficiaries
62. Write wills
63. Write living wills
64. Get family picture taken
65. Send out Christmas cards with aforementioned family picture on it
66. Host Brother/Sister Christmas party
67. Have a family board/card game night 5 times (1/5)
• 4 July 2010: Played Bullshit & other card games
68. Buy a new “grown-up” outfit (shirt/pants)
69. Take a family vacation
70. Make a picture family tree
71. Get first aid certified
72. Get the Kid a car safety kit for her car

73. Learn the Rosary Prayers
74. Go to a Latin Mass
75. Go to daily Mass for a week
76. Donate time, talent, or treasure for the CCW Bazaar
77. Read the Tao te Ching
78. Get a new St Christopher Medal
79. Do the Advent readings and wreath one year
80. Do the Lenten readings one year
81. Do the Rice Bowl project one year
82. Light an intention candle 10 times (1/10)
83. Attend Mass in the Basilica
84. Attend 2 Lenten dinners

85. Make a cake & icing (or cupcakes) from scratch (Done 24 July 2010)
• Banana Cream Cake (from the St Stanislaus Centennial cookbook) with Buttercream frosting
86. Try 3 new restaurants (0/3)
87. Do one week of meal planning
88. Do one month of meal planning
89. Eat 1 serving of fruit a day for a week (7/7)
90. Try a new recipe
91. Make cookies from scratch
92. Try a different flavor ice cream (no vanilla/chocolate)
93. Limit Diet Coke to 2 servings per day for 1 consecutive week (0/7 days)
94. No fast food for a month
95. Try 5 different kinds of apples (5/5)
• Fuji (sweet, then BAM! tangy)
• Royal Gala (reminded me of a cross between Golden & Red Delicious)
• Jazz (like a Red Delicious, but tart-er)
• Braeburn (That 1st bite was hooo-boy tart, but I think they're pretty good otherwise.)
• Pink Lady (Tangy, but sweet. The aroma reminded me of something, but I can’t think of what. Some kind of flower, I think)

Just Because
96. Donate hair to Locks of Love one more time
97. Take part in a pub quiz
98. Complete a 500+ piece puzzle
99. Fly first class
100. Start a Tumblr (Done 8 July 2010):
101. Do a 365 day photo challenge

This next month I'm going to be focusing on getting those shelves installed in the closet, mainly because I can't stand all the stuff that's all over the guest room that should be in the closet. I'm also thinking about picking 1 thing from each category and going from there.