Saturday, June 30, 2007

Big Plans

It’s done. I’ve given the required 60 days notice on my apartment. It’s costing us a pretty penny to break our lease and make this move, but it’s a good opportunity.

In just about every way, the house fits the mental picture I’ve carried around for decades of the type of place I would jump on if I ever got the chance. I wish it were in the Heights, Village, or Montrose, where I've lived for twenty years and where all my favorite stores and restaurants are. But it’ll be a very short car trip, and I don’t do much shopping, anyway. Being able to walk to work will be wonderful. And I’ll have all the benefits of a large university just a block away—library, book store, museum, theater, concert halls, and state of the art rec center. The campus has recently gotten some pretty decent restaurants, too.

So now comes the stressful part—the weeks of hell as I get ready to move. A lot of it will cost money. Nearly all of it will be a pain in the ass. But I’m going to take it one day at a time and stay focused on the end result. The stressful time won’t last forever. The dust will eventually settle and I’ll be happily set up in my very own house.

Oh, did I say “my very own?” Yes, the owners have offered to sell it to us, owner-financed! So not only are we moving, but we’ve got to do all those house-buying things, like get an inspector, negotiate terms, talk to a lender, get insurance, etc. If the purchase deal falls through for any reason, we can still rent, though. And we have a deal with the owner that they won’t sell for at least two years, unless it’s to us. It was a deal I insisted on, since no way was I going to incur all the expense and hassle of lease-breaking, only to pack up and move again in a year.

But I’m pretty sure we’ll end up buying the house. I wish this deal had come our way when we were better positioned for it. But opportunities come when they do, and this is the house I’ve held out for. I was committed to renting for the rest of my life, rather than buy simply because people told me I should or I must. And just like I met my husband when I quit caring whether I met the right man or not, the right house dropped into my lap once I gave up wondering if I would ever find it.

There’s a lesson in there, somewhere.

This has been a stressful week for me in other ways. My boss was out of town all week at a conference, leaving me to spearhead the merit plan. We were given a very narrow time window to run all our numbers, so it’s just been me and the VP, meeting, calling and sending documents back and forth. I’ve been calling meetings and fielding anxious phone calls from lots of very important people, bringing work home and working late every night. But my boss is back now and the VP is making his final decisions this weekend. Data entry will be next week, and then we’re done.

As much as I’ve been frustrated by all the late hours (plays havoc with house-buying and exercise!), I’ve enjoyed the challenge. At lunch today, Dan commented that I seemed to be enjoying it, and I had to smile. Before my job duties changed last winter, I had gone six years without any major change in the nature of my work. I had learned everything I needed to know years ago. I could do things fast and sometimes slip away early with no one the wiser, but I was also bored. Since the business services centralization, I’ve been learning new things nearly every day, and I enjoy the challenge, even though at times like this I hate all the stress.

Well, that’s it for today, and it’s quite enough!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run
Thursday: 20 minute treadmill run/15 minute elliptical
Friday: rest day
Today: 15 mile run

Friday, June 29, 2007


(Note: This post is cross-posted to my Writing blog.)

Check this out-- online scrapbooking! I wish I hadn't found out about this. I'll be wasting a lot of time here!

And in other news, Thomma is at it again. This time she gave me a cool little award:

All this in spite of the fact I still owe her a meme! Now that's a real friend!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A run, a house, a sale and a parade

What a busy day!

I started with an early run. I did the Tanglewood route again, which I really like. I think I’m just not bored with it yet. I also like being able to stop at Rice Epicurean Market for some cold water, which helps a lot at mile nine. Overall, I had a good solid run. It looked like it might rain, but it never did.

Dan and I did our usual Indian buffet for lunch, and afterwards we went to look at the house. We got there a little early and the professor wasn’t around, so I walked around the neighborhood a bit, getting a feel for the place. It’s very tidy and quaint, and nearly every car has a university decal. I noticed the university police patrolling the neighborhood, which I considered a good sign. Our university has real cops, not rent-a-cops, and our university cop shop even has a real jail with two cells. Security is a big deal, so when the professor showed up to show us the house, I mentioned having seen a university cop car in the area, and he said the neighborhood is part of their regular patrol beat. Very cool.

Anyway, the house needs some work, which is why it won’t be ready until August, but it’s structurally sound and has some really lovely retro features like glass bricks, a phone cubbyhole in the hallway, black and white checkerboard linoleum in the kitchen, and of course, hardwood floors. There’s a fireplace, too. What the place mainly needs is some paint and a re-do of the bathroom tile. The owner said he was going to do all that, and more.

The garage has lots of storage, outdoor parking for two cars, and an efficiency apartment that we can either sublet or use for our own needs. I want to make it into a workout room, but Dan thinks it would make a better music studio. I can see we’re already going to have to make some compromises!

The lot is on a small hill and it didn’t flood in either Hurricane Alicia or Tropical Storm Allison, so it’s safe from that bugaboo of Houston properties. And it’s got decks out back, a nice front porch, and lots of big shade trees, which accounts for the ridiculously low electric bills the place has, even in the hottest months. The lower bills would completely make up for the marginally higher rent, and keep us from needing to rent out the garage apartment.

The only two issues are that there’s a woman who hasn’t seen the place yet who has first dibs if she wants it, and of course we have a pesky lease-thingy where we’re at now. But I’m going to give a copy of my lease to one of my lawyer friends and see what he thinks. Then I’ll talk to my last boss at the university, who is quite possibly one of the best contract negotiators in the state. If there’s a way out of my lease, I’ve got the Dream Team to make it happen! And if I can’t get out of the lease, maybe we could sublet the house to a quiet law or MBA student until the end of next spring. But there’s a way to make this house happen—I’m sure of it.

After we saw the house, we came home and dropped by a moving sale at an apartment in our building. We bought a nice table that we can put in our kitchen if we get the house and that we have no clue what we’ll do with, otherwise. Put it in storage, I guess. And we also got a floor lamp, a small wicker chest, wooden hangers, and some other cool stuff.

I took a nap in the late afternoon and went to a parade tonight. I had a great time, since there’s nothing like a night parade. Everyone was feeling pretty festive, and even the police horses were wearing beads and glow necklaces! Spectators kept trying to join the parade. The group with the banjo-player were somewhat convincing, but no one was fooled by the others. One spectator thought she was in New Orleans and kept flashing her breasts. Honestly, if you’re going to expose yourself in public, you should at least have something worth showing. Maybe that’s why no one really seemed to mind what she was doing. I was glad when a cop showed up, though. Her little group was pretty drunk and kept wandering into the street, which was sort of already in use by this parade thing, you know.

But that was the only sign of rowdiness I saw. It was a friendly street festival atmosphere, with people of every age, ethnic group and social class, dogs and children in tow, taking pictures of the parade and each other, while the parade marchers took their own pictures of us and each other as they went by. As the parade was drawing to a close, a man in the crowd behind me got my attention and draped a lei around my neck. Then he kissed me and walked away. I must be doing something right to get still get that kind of attention from a stranger!

In all, it’s been a fun day. And even Tidbit got to join in the fun once I came home.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 3.5 mile run
Wednesday: 5 mile run
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 13.5 mile run

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home, Potential Home!

We may be getting a house!

Okay, we wouldn’t actually be buying the house. We can’t afford to buy in any of the areas we want, and we don’t want a mortgage so badly that we’re willing to endure a long commute to get it. But one of Dan’s professor friends owns a house just a couple blocks from campus in a neighborhood that’s very popular with other professors. It’s for rent at a price not much higher than what we pay now, and it has a garage apartment we could sub-let to a grad student if we wanted to, bringing our monthly rent significantly lower than what we pay now. We’d probably use the garage apartment as an office or studio, though.

We’re going to try to see it this weekend, if something can be arranged with the current tenant.

The only problem is that we have a lease where we’re at now, and the lease isn’t up until next spring. But this is a fantastic opportunity, and it won’t hurt to explore what our options are.

I’m already having pleasant fantasies of being able to walk to work every day and having my professor friends for neighbors. The university has a fantabulous rec center, which would make up for no longer living in a place with an on-site gym. Campus events like plays, lectures and concerts would be no big deal to go to-- just put some shoes on and stroll on over. I could go home from work for lunch, or a mid-day nap. And I could run around campus on short-run days, and use the nearby bayou trails for long runs.

So I’m feeling cautiously excited about this opportunity.

In other news, Thomma tagged me for a meme a few days ago. I haven’t forgotten, I’m just saving it for a day when I want to post but haven’t got much to say!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 2 hour spin, abs, upper body
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Today: 3.5 mile run

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Obligatory Saturday Post

I had been a little worried that it would rain this morning, but when I woke up, there were only patchy clouds. Although the Doppler showed a big green blob, it was well to the northwest for the time being. So I taped myself up and hit the road!

I did my Tanglewood run, which is starting to become a favorite. I stopped at Turtle Pond along the way (my name for it-- it’s part of an office park) and while I took a calorie/water/electrolyte break, the turtles bobbed to the surface and paddled over to look at me. No, I do not share my Amino Vital with reptiles. Sorry, kids. I caught one turtle trying to escape the pond and chased it back in, so it wouldn’t wander into the street and get run over. My good deed for the day.

After my break, I crossed the street and noticed the roadside garden at Memorial Drive and Chimney Rock is doing well. I saw a cucumber and lots of green tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen and should be ready soon. It looks like it’ll be a good year for the figs and oranges, too. I saw the gardener himself, trimming one of the kumquat trees, but I had dawdled too long at Turtle Pond, so I didn’t stop to chat. I would like to know the story behind the garden, though. It’s just so bizarre to see all that stuff growing inches from the curb of a busy street, when the house and yard are more than sufficiently large for growing just about anything short of a redwood.

I ran up Chimney Rock to Tanglewood, to San Felipe. After I stopped at Rice Epicurean Market for some water, I did a little window shopping at the fancy drug store next door. I say it’s “fancy” because it’s one of those drug stores one often finds in these high-end neighborhoods, where you’ll never find a designer knock-off perfume or a pair of $5 flip-flops for sale. Since I had already run about 11 miles in the humidity, I was drippy and stinky at this point, so I didn’t go inside. But I saw through the window that they sell one of my must-have items that I have a dickens of a time finding at stores and usually end up ordering online: Frownies patches. Yay! Next time I’m running low, I’ll make sure to bring my credit card along on my morning run and buy a new box, which will fit into the pack I wear on my waist for long runs.

(Aside: For you ladies not in the know, these patches pre-date botox, and are cheaper and safer than having poison injected into your face. And what’s more, they really work!)

I got home from my run feeling pretty good. I wrung out my running clothes and hung them to dry, wiped myself off with baby wipes, and iced my legs. Dan was watching one of his video lectures for his summer class, and I flipped through a book about New Mexico ghost towns while listening to a wholly unrelated lecture about nineteenth-century American imperialism in Central America. How I didn’t end up concluding that William Walker conquered Colfax County is beyond me.

The big green blob I saw on Doppler early this morning had arrived by lunchtime, so my plan to buy a new desk chair got nixed. But a little water wasn’t going to keep me and Dan from our weekly Indian buffet, and the daal was particularly tasty today. And spicy potatoes—yum! Indian spices plus the quintessentially American food makes for damn fine eating!

This afternoon I read Motherland, the latest edition of Y: The Last Man. I was a little disappointed, since I had thought it would conclude the story. Instead, it looks like there is still more to come, and now I’m annoyed. Not only was Motherland not as good as the previous books (in my opinion), but now I’ll have to wait for the next book to find out if all the loose ends finally get wrapped up. I only hope the next book is out soon, so I won’t forget the story line.

And that concludes my long, rambling, Saturday post.

Todays Workout
15 mile run

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Office Parties R Us!

I have such cool people working for me!

As the HR team for our division, one of our duties is to arrange events. In that vein, we had to put together a farewell party on short notice. The departing employee had been with us for eighteen years, so it could be no small deal.

Well, we did all the usual stuff—arranged the room, catering, gifts, guest list, etc, but something was missing. Yesterday morning on the way to work, I had an idea—we would get a scrapbook and photo printer and make a commemorative book right there on the spot, with all the party guests collaborating!

Everyone liked the idea, so I sent two people from my staff to get supplies. And since there wasn’t enough time to arrange for the use of a university photo printer, I bought a new cartridge and extra photo paper so we could use my own.

At the party today, we removed the pages from the scrapbook and set them out on a table with different color pens so people could sign them. Then we took pictures of the party, trimmed them with fancy pinking shears, and pasted them in the book, decorating any white space with scrapbooking stickers and the like.

Or rather, my staff did most of it. I helped when I could, but as a manager, I had to do some politicking, and as the owner of the photo printer, I had to print pics, switch out chips and cameras, and all that. The bulk of the creative work was done by my staff and they did a really amazing job. The uber-boss and even the CIO were impressed.

We’ve started something, I think, and the bar can only get raised higher. No good deed goes unpunished.

But for today, I was just so happy to be able to have a neat idea, hand it off to the fantastic people on my team and see them do something wonderful with it. Our departing employee loves her book, and we took compliments all afternoon on what a great party it was.

I know I occasionally use this blog to grump about my job, but there are some days when I just need to say that I work with some of the bestest people EVAH!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 2 hour spin
Monday: 30 hour elliptical (ladder drill)
Tuesday: 15 minute elliptical, 15 minute treadmill (intervals on both)
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run
Thursday: 30 minute spin + upper body and abs

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bandwidth Blues

Nothing like having your connection hang and ultimately fail, only to find it's because someone else in the household has decided to download a whole slew of bandwidth-hogging patches.

Last I checked, DSL was a shared resource in this household.

Hello? Anyone listening?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekend Montage: Bookcases, Workouts, and WTF

Not much to say about this past weekend, except that it went by way too fast and I got a very nice, very big bookcase out of the deal.

One of Dan’s co-workers was having a yard sale Saturday morning, so I arranged my run so that I could be there when the sale started at 8:00. I did a five mile loop through River Oaks and was only a few minutes late arriving at the cute Montrose duplex where the sale was being held. Dan was already there, and so was Dan’s boss Charlie and his wife. I spent about thirty minutes hanging out, chatting about nothing and everything before we finally agreed to buy the big bookcase, with pickup arranged for after lunch.

Then Charlie and his wife went on their way, Dan went for more coffee, and I took off for Rice University where I made the loop around the campus and came back home. It was very humid and getting quite warm when I finished my run, and I can say with authority that we’re into summer for sure.

After lunch, we went to get the bookcase, but once we got it back to the apartment, we realized that it was too heavy for me to help carry upstairs. It was embarrassing to wimp out, but we live on the third floor, at the top of a winding staircase. I got to the third step and realized that I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t drop my end, injuring myself or Dan. And since I have injury-related arthritis in my right foot from a case of furniture-related bravado twenty years ago, I said no way, we needed someone stronger. So Dan got a neighbor to help, and even he, a fit young man of thirty, said it was no picnic.

Okay, so I’m not a total wimp. Maybe just 75% wimp.

In the meantime, I played Betty Homemaker and cleared a path for the bookcase, swept up the bunny hay and fetched cold drinks for the guys. Anything was better than feeling useless. And after the neighbor left, I helped Dan bring the bookcase in and move it where we wanted it to go. I could do that much. It was just all those damn stairs I couldn't manage!

New furniture makes for curious critters, of course, and they’ve had a fine weekend investigating the altered landscape of their little world. Very cute.

And that was the big excitement of the weekend. I did a good two-hour spin workout today, picked up my asthma meds, and finally found a store that had my favorite granola bars in stock. I got the last box.

Anyone else noticing shortages of stuff in the stores? You know, things that used to always be in stock and are now regularly in short supply or out of stock altogether? It’s very frustrating to have to shop four different places for a box of dumb granola bars. And no place within a five mile radius seems to be stocking Puffin cereal bars this week. I’d find these kinds of situations much less annoying if I had an explanation for them. It’s the WTF factor that gets me every time.

And speaking of WTF factor, anyone watch the series finale of the Sopranos? I quit watching regularly a few seasons ago because I was getting too hooked, and I refuse to be a slave to my TV. But I really did want to see how it all ended, and quite frankly, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Nothing happened that I couldn’t have read about on the message boards. An hour of my life, wasted.

You have a lot to answer for, David Chase!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 elliptical—steady state
Tuesday: 5 mile run
Wednesday: worked late—no workout
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical—ladder drill
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 13 mile run
Sunday: 2 hour spin

Friday, June 08, 2007

Why My DSL Quit Working. . .

For the edification of my rabbit. . .




Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Personal Jesus

There I was, having an ordinary morning at work, everything going smoothly, when for no reason I could see, my computer hung. I rebooted, and it hung again. And again. I couldn’t open any of my programs before it would hang and it wouldn't even respond to the on/off switch, requiring I unplug it from the wall.


I was just about to call tech support, when who should peek in my doorway, but my husband? And right behind him was his boss, Charlie. Yay! They aren’t officially “my” techies, but they’re in tech support and they’re on the university’s payroll. As far as I was concerned, they were mine, Mine, MINE.

Dan started tinkering with my computer while Charlie smelled a trap and scooted off down the hall so fast that if we hadn’t had carpet he would’ve left skid marks. But after awhile he came back and together the three of us got my computer working again. I gave Dan a kiss as he left, and Charlie muttered that he didn’t get a kiss, to which I called after him that he should come back, if that was how he felt about it.

Nope. They left. Fast. I have a feeling they won’t be back anytime soon to wish me a good morning. I might make them rescue me again.

Nothing like having your very own technical saviors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New Preparedness Product!

With hurricane season upon us, some of you may be interested in the WaterB.O.B.. It's a water bladder, similar to the kind one would find in a Camelback. You put it in your tub and fill it in advance of a hurricane or other impending situation where you could find yourself without clean water for a time. It will hold up to 100 gallons of water! It comes with its own convenient pump for getting the water out once it's in. And when you no longer need it, just poke some holes in it, let the water go down the drain and throw the WaterB.O.B. away.

I'm not very familiar with the types of disasters people have in other parts of the country, but here on the Gulf Coast, where we know when we're about to get hit and we know we must store water, this looks like a must-have!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sounds of Summer

Today I’m hearing (or perhaps only noticing) the cicadas for the first time this year. The buzzing outside my window and on every shaded street corner is as sure a sign of summer as the temps and humidity. In fact, I hardly think it’s summer at all until I hear the wretched creatures. We get them every year, and until they die out in the fall, their rasping song is as inescapable as a guilty conscience.

They sound like a heat wave and sweat-damp skin.

They sound like summer.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Home-- One Week Later

Well, I’ve been home exactly one week, and it’s nice to know exactly where everything is and not be constantly rummaging through suitcases. It’s also nice to be back in a daily rhythm. I don't mean to be a little obsessive about that, but I think I am.

Also, I've noticed my body is almost used to being home and back on a schedule. I spent a lot of time being sleepy this week, but other than that, things are starting to get back to normal. Things got a little crazy at my office and at Dan’s while we were away, though. After our first day back at work, we both came home, related the day’s gossip to each other, then looked each other in the eye and asked, “When do we go on vacation again?”

Fifteen more years until early retirement.

My long run today went well—much better than last weekend, when I was tired and having asthma troubles. It’s starting to be warm and humid in the mornings, though, so I’m going to have to start getting up earlier for these runs. Winter and early spring spoil me, allowing me to sleep until nearly 7:00, but I really need to be getting up an hour earlier now. In spite of taking water and electrolytes with me and stopping for more at every opportunity, my calves got crampy once I was home, before I iced and fully re-hydrated. It’s time to learn how to run in the heat again!

This would be a good time to give a plug for unscented baby wipes. Uh, yeah. Really. Maybe it’s different in dry climates, but here in HumidLand, if you’re not leaving a drippy trail at the end of a long run, you’ve cheated and have been sipping lattes at an air-conditioned Starbucks instead of running. Unless you live alone, your spouse, roommate or significant other is not going to be pleased when you come in the door, dripping and stinky, needing to ice down for 10-20 minutes before even thinking of getting in the shower. Hence the baby wipes. They’re great for a quick cleanup! Then you can ice down your legs in peace, without offending anyone.

Not much is happening around here this weekend, and I’m trying to keep it that way. I’m just striving for what constitutes “normal” in my life. And I’m dreaming of vacations to come!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 80 minute spin
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical—ladder drill
Wednesday: 30 minute spin
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical—steady state
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 15 mile run