Exciting Changes

Know that feeling when you're right on the brink of pulling the trigger on something new?  You may or may not have it all planned out but you probably have an idea of how you want things to look whenever "it" is done?

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm on my way.  And (but) the train is rolling, so no turning back.

What's going on here?  Well, Dearest Followers and Readers, I've purchased a tiny piece of the Internet.  Fivenineteen.org.  Nope, no hyphens (yay!).

What this means is that this is likely one of the last new posts I will do here on Blogspot.  I'll continue weekly postings over on the new site. 

Whew!  I've ported over all of my posts here from Day One over to the new site as well - thankfully much easier than I thought.  Please, please, come check out fivenineteen.org And please pardon the dust as well, as I am learning the ropes on how to lay out the new site, choose graphics and get everything looking the way I want it.  I may have lost some pictures in the moving process, but I'll get it straightened out eventually. 

Want to know a little secret?  One of my favorite parts of the Blogspot site here is the side bar showing where hits come from.  It's absolutely fascinating to me!  From countless places around the States to the UK, China, Australia, Maldives, Malta, Romania and Brazil - and so many other countries too.  I just love it.  And I hope I can replicate something similar on the new site too - stay tuned. 

Right now I have my Twitter feed at the top of the new site but I'm not sure I want it there.  And don't laugh, because in adding Twitter I realized just how seldom I tweet.  So that might change too.  Follow me @five19 and see what happens.  Huge thanks to my dear friend P, who shared a bunch of great tips on site layout, adding pictures and replicating what I have here over on fivenineteen.org.  I've got a great to-do list for sure thanks to her.

And in other Change News, I've got yet another list - thanks to my guy BFF L - of a whole bunch of home improvement projects he is going to help me with.  First things first, a run (or two?) to the Dump.  This all starts tomorrow, which is why I'm blogging today on a Saturday instead of my usual Sunday.  I have no idea how crazy tomorrow is going to be but I know once we get started I'm going to be really excited and on a roll.  It's always that first step that's the hardest, don't you think?  Having great friends willing to help and provide ideas is the grease in my gears.  Sometimes my lists get so long I lose the prioritizing skill and PLOP.  Nothing gets done.  I get wiggy and overwhelmed.  And I've forewarned L I likely will along the way.  He has great ideas, and (but) he and I have very different tastes in decorating.  So this is going to be amusing and interesting.  But he knows whose name is on the title to the townhouse here, so we're all good there.  (Meaning, mine).

So the Man Help is on the way tomorrow, and meanwhile I've got a ton to do to prepare today, plus get stuff for the tacos we're going to make.  And I have a super late hockey game tomorrow night too.  Can I get a second or third wind to skate hard?

Lots more to come - and probably pictures too - as the home projects get underway.  Remember, come check out fivenineteen.org for my future posts.  And if you follow me here at Blogspot, why not follow me on my new site too?  I'd be most grateful.  Yeah, I don't care for self-promotion but there ya go - I said it outloud and most humbly.   


Cabin Fever Week

How quickly things changed in 24 hours.  I came home from work last Friday (the 13th, which was a good day save for saying good bye to a co-worker who is relocating overseas), relaxed at home and slept in gloriously late into Saturday.  Know that feeling when you wake up and it just 'feels' different?  In my bleary just-out-of-bed attempt to wake up I couldn't quite figure out what it was...other than it was super quiet outside.  No dull drone of street noise.

Aha!  It SNOWED!  Where did I miss this on the TV weather forecasts?  I suppose I should not have been too shocked - it is January, after all. I don't even know where to start with this one.  Other than Snow + Seattle area is a very bad combination.  For getting around, that is.  Otherwise, it's gorgeous.  Exhibit A - the view off my back deck. 

We got around 6 inches or so in my area - by the time it was done the faint line markings from the deck in that picture were completely covered over.  After hearing news reports and reading countless local-area Facebook posts we had anywhere from around 3 inches to over a foot depending on where you were.

The power stayed on here and my furnace is working.  Everything else after that truly is all gravy.  Check out my Cold Where It's Supposed to be Cold post from (*gulp* wow time flies) November 2010.  Two furnace repairs and a crapped out fridge just a couple months prior to that made it an expensive end of that year...after just starting to get some decent income again following a long unemployed streak.  So anyway, here we are in 2012 and I relished my warm townhouse, hot showers and the beautiful snow falling outside.

After a couple of days it got old.  Driving in the snow in the Seattle area is a hot topic for sure.  In general, it's not a good idea.  Seriously...a few inches of snow will literally bring us to our knees.  We're hilly.  We don't have a ton of snow removal equipment.  We're not like other parts of the country who deal with this routinely and life goes on.  Around here, it just doesn't.  Hell, when a UPS truck gets stuck in your driveway, you know it's bad.

What is it about snow?  It brings a huge Hush Hug over everything in its embrace.  I stay in my jammies all day and take naps.  At noon. 

But soon it was time to get back to work.  Thankfully this team is all about playing it safe and not trying to be heroes getting into the office.  We can all work remotely, although in the type of work we do it's not ideal for long periods of time as I learned.

There was one small problem.  The power cord for my work laptop was still in my office!  I never bring it home because I never work from home.  It still reminds me too much of when I was unemployed, and frankly I'd rather get out of the house and be around people during the day.  In my last work assignment my work laptop was the same brand as my home one, so it was easy to just swap out the power cords between the two if I ever did work from home on rare occasion.  Not this time, however.

On Monday I was able to squeak by with doing email either from my phone or through my home laptop.  But I didn't have full access to the internal resources I depend on to get work done.  And I attempted a few times to get the work laptop connected with my home cable modem, but the modem is new and I was unfamiliar with the steps to switch connectivity (I don't use a router).  And I watched the battery power indicator slowly sink southward as I chatted with our corporate Helpdesk and all to troubleshoot.  No luck. 

So I knew Tuesday I needed to get into work somehow to get that power cord.  They were predicting heavy snow Tuesday into Wednesday.  Turns out the main roads were pretty clear.  It's the side streets, sidewalks and driveways that are the problem. 

I got into work just fine and was pleasantly surprised to see my officemate there already.  Ahhh, human interaction!  We had both planned to stay for a few hours, but then got a phone call from her husband around lunch time that it was really starting to snow hard and we better get home. I'm so glad he called, because our office does not have a window and it was snowing much harder up near where my officemate and I live compared to work.

When you're stuck at home snowbound, the cabin fever grips tight.  The novelty wears off quickly.  So to fight it off, I vowed to get out of the house at least once a day for a walk.  And it really helps - and is pretty good exercise too stomping through heavy, wet snow.

Thankfully by Friday the snow turned to rain and everything turned into a big slushfest.  Relief was coming!  Freedom! 

And what a great way to blast back into the routine of life with a wonderful Saturday.  My friend L ventured out this way to the suburbs (I joke that he's mentally allergic to them but that's another story).  With iPad in hand, he and I walked through the townhouse here and talked about tons of ideas to update my place.  I know my place needs work, and I know I need to keep an open mind.  We jumped around all over the place with ideas and chitchat.  And we agreed on a general plan to start work upstairs here where the bedrooms are and then slowly work our way downstairs.  

Oh boy.  That means my 3rd bedroom - the Room of Crap - is in the hotseat first.  And that's actually a great idea as it is very underutilized space save for a large bookcase and random stuff on the floor that needs to get boxed up into storage or thrown out.  And I get to think about paint colors too, for it's still Insane Asylum White like the rest of this place was when I first bought it.  Oh, the possibilities!  L wants to convert it to my home office and have the home office where I am now become a guest bedroom, as this room is larger and can hold a queen-sized bed. Interesting idea!

Later I headed out (Out! After not driving for 5 days!) to meet friends for our annual Chinese New Year dinner at China Clipper in Woodinville.  They have wonderful, pretty close to authentic Northern Chinese cuisine.  We had a blast at dinner and then headed over to J's house for board games and laughter.  Know when you laugh so hard that tears stream down your face? 



The Half-Assed Purple Wall

Alrighty.  This week's picture makes me cringe, but we're gonna go there anyway.  Good incentive to fix this, right?  This and so much more.

This is an actual wall in one of my bathrooms here in the townhouse.  It's a small wall where the door is.  And yeah, awhile back I thought it would be fun to paint it purple. Shitty paint job (I think my plan was to go back and do another coat with a roller like you're supposed to) but obviously I haven't. 

Oh dear.  I have done all of the painting here in the house myself and trust me it's nicely done (and finished)...everywhere except here.  And this same purple, believe it or not, is on the inside of my front door.  It's a beautiful, semi-glossy blue violet.  Ralph Lauren Canyon Iris to be exact.  This shot does NOT do it justice.  

I remember the plan now.  The plan was to paint this wall purple, to motivate me into getting rid of the God-awful (original 1980) countertop that clashes horribly with it (you can see a tiny bit of it in the lower right corner of the picture).  That countertop actually clashes with life, period.  And I was going to get rid of the scary dark brown door (and the others on the top floor here) and replace them with white ones like I did downstairs.  I shudder thinking I made those "plans" probably two years ago or more when I was unemployed.  Didn't have much disposable income, but I sure had time.  But not enough time to finish as you can see.  What's hilarious about this is that I have 4 sets of door hardware picked out for the upstairs - nice brushed nickel - all ready to rock, but sitting dormant in their boxes. In the hallway.  And no new doors yet.  Typical me...I zoom right in on accessories and mentally space out on the "big" stuff. 

2012 marks the 10-year anniversary of the townhome purchase. Not beating myself up here...I HAVE done a lot to update this place.  New back deck, custom wood window treatments, major appliances like the fridge, washer/dryer, stove and microwave (I'm on my second fridge; see my Refrigerator Drama post for the lovely story on that), some light fixtures and painting projects I actually finished.  But it needs so much more.  I am the queen of Lists, and I have always had a wishlist of things I want to do here on the fridge - decorating, new cabinets, ripping out carpet, countertops, flooring...

...but, knowing myself well, sometimes I just get overwhelmed.  I forget how to prioritize, I see tons of stuff I want to do on my list (and think how much it's all going to cost) and then nothing gets done.  What's the tipping point for a list to turn from inspiring to intimidating?  Hmmm.

Well, it's time.  Time to get moving and get this place in decent shape and out of the lingering early 1980s funk.  A friend has offered to help me out with some of these projects and he's going to take a look and see what he can fix and give me some advice about things in here in general too. 

Now, where did I put that IKEA catalogue...?


Snail Mail

It's been a pretty relaxing weekend...dang, that first week back after the holidays can be a little intense.  But nothing a virtual helmet and heat shield can't fix.  I laugh to myself as I write this, for two years ago the New Year started off for me unemployed.  And went that way for several, sometimes-very-painful months.  So I suppose I should keep my trap (er, keyboard?) shut and not complain.  On the other hand, maybe this is a sign that times are getting better workwise and we're back to the routine again.

I got quite a few tasks done at home including getting tons of mail sorted through, read, bills paid and everything shredded up for recycling.  Dang that feels good!  I am so happy that lots of magazines now have an option to renew subscriptions online instead of mailing in a check.  I have a bad habit of going sure, renew me, and then I mail in one of those "bill me later" forms.  Well, when you do that in October and you haven't yet paid by January...oops.  Anyway, thanks to the internet I'm good to go.  And I just have a couple of quick thank you notes to write for Christmas gifts and I'll be in good shape.

My mailbox goes a tad crazy over the holidays with Christmas cards, great pictures and those often-polarizing Christmas card letters.  Oh how I - mostly - enjoy reading them and hearing what everyone's up to.  I read and wonder wow, it's been years and years since I've seen some of these families.  Where does the time go?  And I giggle that I even still receive Christmas cards from people at all...the last time I ever sent out any myself was probably 1996.

Those letters!  Mostly super enjoying to savor and read, but others seem rather self-indulgent and even arrogant.  Blech.  No thanks.  

Then there's my college BFF, P.  Her family Christmas letters are so full of love - love for family and for everyone - and the love just comes bouncing off the page as I read.  And she always includes a hand-written very nice blurb at the end of the letter.  This year's words just went straight to my heart:  "I hope you know how I think of you and talk about you often.  We made some great memories and though we don't talk much I still see you as a best friend."  I about burst into tears of happiness....yes...THIS is EXACTLY how I feel too!

P and I were sorority sisters in college.  We were not really in the same circles within the house and did not really become close friends until probably our junior year.  I'd pledged as a sophomore and the group I ran with was a little different than hers.  Kinda funny how even a small, liberal-arts university (with just 1600 undergrads) can still have its pockets and all, even though everyone pretty much knew everyone.  But our sorority was pretty big for a small university - around 80-90 members, as were the other two houses.  P and I had an apartment off campus our senior year...what an incredible experience that was for us after living in the dorms our freshmen year and in the sorority for two (spoiled with a very nice house and amazing food service compared to the dorm food).  The apartment was just a short two blocks away but it might as well have been the moon.  The campus is a square mile bubble of goodness in a town that, well, frankly is a little rough in patches.  I've driven by where she and I used to live those two decades ago and shudder...she and I lived THERE? In that crappy apartment? 

I looked through P's family pictures in the envelope - wow her kids are so incredibly cute!  P does not use email a lot and only periodically surfaces in Facebook land.  I thought today, you know what, I'm going to sit down and write her a letter.  A LETTER!

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Or maybe a freight train.  When in the hell was the last time I wrote an actual snail mail letter to a friend?  To anyone??   And I challenge any of you who stumble around in here...when was the last time for you?  Not a quick postcard, not an email, not a text, not any messaging in Facebook or LinkedIn or other social media.  Hmmm??  For me it's probably over a year.  And probably much longer than that for a hand-written snail mail letter.  Oh Lordy my handwriting has declined over the years.  I even remember way back it used to be common practice to send thank you letters - in snail mail - after job interviews.  Nowadays things move too fast.  Haven't done that any time in this century I'm afraid.  Nope, email it is.

So I sit here, smiling, ready to shift gears and start writing to P.  I'll think she'll love what she finds in her mailbox.     


Reflecting and Looking Forward

Wow...how fun that my typical blogging day - Sunday - is New Years Day!  What sprang from unemployment, boredom, frustration and a lifelong passion for writing is now over two years strong - this September ol' fivenineteen here will be 3.  THREE!   This will likely be the most productive thing I do all day.  Oh, and taking the Christmas tree down too.  Thankfully it's a 4 foot artificial tree.  Easy to pull apart and pack up until next time.

I remember as a kid I didn't really "believe" it was the New Year until I saw it in writing.  Which meant seeing the new year in print on the newspaper the next morning.  There still is a part of me that feels that way...although now it's the date readout on my cell phone, my home landline phone or even the little clock on the corner of the laptop screen here.  Yep, it's Sunday January 1, 2012.  Wow.

It's only natural to reflect back on the year that Was...2011 started off with a bang.  Literally.  My family said goodbye way too soon to a family member - my cousin's ex wife - at age 41.  And a new relationship...intense, yes, which flamed out quickly.  And, admittedly, took me awhile to process.  Thanks to time and some newly-discovered wisdom shared with me by my dear friend T, it's all so clear to me now.  And so great to just Let It All Go.

My health took a nosedive in late winter/early spring last year.  Enough to where any plans to hit the gym and train for the year's 5Ks went out the window.  We had Typhoid Mary run rampant in that team's cubicle farm.  I coughed for two months straight.  Here's a tall glass of water in a plastic tumbler toast to a MUCH healthier 2012...with 5Ks to boot!  Hmmm, I might steer clear of the gym for a few weeks and try getting outside to exercise.  Such a cliche...it's jam packed in January - too hard to get a free treadmill!

I'm optimistic and hopeful about the economy and my job.  Save for a two-week break last year between engagements, I was employed all of 2011!!  WHAT a relief after the mess of late 2009 and first half of 2010.  We HAVE to pull out of this drudgery that is a recession/depression/whatever it is.  It sucks and I have good friends still feeling the burn. 

My confidence in my Silpada jewelry business only continues to grow and grow...every conversation, every party, every question about my jewelry and what I'm doing only fuels me that I can really DO this, have fun, and make a surprisingly great commission on the side!  Just by "selling" a product I've loved for years!  (I use "selling" in quotes because it does not really feel like selling at all in the traditional sense.)  Just sharing info with people!  I meet up regularly with other local reps and the friendships that have grown from them are simply fabulous.  Incredible women. 

And what a great crescendo on the last part of 2011 when the consulting work I did for free back in 2010 popped into some extra paying work for a couple of months in late 2011!  That project is on hold right now, but there is a very strong chance we'll resume work again with the client later this year. Fascinating...and who knows where it could lead?  I will be at my current full-time job through late June this year and I know it will go fast.  And believe me, I know how to network.  If I could stay on longer with this team through June I would leap at the opportunity.  But since I do consulting engagements, that's not part of the deal usually.  Budget cycles and all mean consultants come and go.  Nothing personal.

I feel truly happy and blessed...big smiles as I welcome 2012 and look outside into the sunshine.  Time to get outside for a walk!