Letters to Holly

Friday, October 16

Cold Adjustments

As I drove home I watched the car's external thermometer display a lower and lower temperature. It was reading 53 degrees as I pulled into the driveway, making me question my notion to run again. It's only supposed to get colder this weekend, I realized, and I donned my wetsuit-tight cold shirt and headed out. Oddly, running at a more relaxed pace gave me a shorter overall time. The math of running is ever beyond me. Maybe the tight shirt gave me better posture. Maybe it restrained my breathing and prevented the aches from developing. I dunno. It was my best time since July, and I'm hoping to crack the 28-minute mark before the race.

It was cold enough that we turned on the heat for the first time. When it came on early this morning -- 5:30 -- the bedroom was filled with a low whine-moan akin to a distant fire alarm. I heard and dismissed it, but the drone kept me awake. It was just the right frequency to keep my shoulders tight. I got up to check it. I thought initially that the furnace was damaged, but I remembered that the bedroom vent can be noisy if it's not open all the way. I checked and fiddled, and it wasn't that. The sound was louder at the window, and I wondered if the sound was coming from a house behind ours. But no. The window wasn't closed fully, and the air pressure was causing the noise. Window closed, sound gone. Back to bed I went. Your Sister stayed up because she's daffy.

She leaves for a daylong teacher conference tomorrow, and the local are aflutter because there might be snow. I have my doubts. I hope to do more library sketches this weekend, but I don't want to lock in to particular imagery. I still don't know the sign dimensions, and the librarian and I need to confab about school concerns. Like, can a Western genre picture have a gun in it? If not, what do I draw that plainly says "Western?"

Picture of the Day
This was the contraption that helped me start drawing on my own. The girls' version was called Fashion Plates. Oh, I adored this thing for years and years. The plastic pieces smelled great too.

Thursday, October 15

Blueprints and Results.

The cabinet guy came over this morning, and it was the older of the two guys who installed the drawers Monday. The same guy to whom I had first said the drawers were going in the wrong columns. He measured the exterior columns and didn't want to look at our schematic, saying they had it at the store. He offered to install exterior drawers (implying they would be free) and leave the incorrect drawers where they are. I hadn't considered that possibility; I was worried they'd have to tear down the whole thing and start from scratch. Your Sister didn't like that idea. I agree, but I saw that as one of two extremes: either raze and redo or give us a small refund. He offered a new option. We're content with that.

He didn't offer much in the way of an explanation or apology. I did not want the man to grovel, you understand, but something to explain why this happened would have been nice. As he left, he chuckled and said "but you know ... it's just cabinets." It took much strength to not reply "and thousands and thousands of dollars." Which it was. We splurged more than we should have.

We think we handled this well. We think we've been patient. We have not been shrill. When they install the new drawers early next week (we hope), that visit will be their third repair visit since they first assembled the shelves. Hopefully it will be the last. But we are not using this company again for any of the planned house projects we have in mind.

I called Your Sis and told here how it went down, and we agreed this particular guy is, in her words, "an odd duck." She never talks that way about people, so I feel more than justified in my own discomfort in how this all shook out. They're doing the right thing but not in the right way.

I made a salmon casserole last night, and I don't know what I was thinking. I kinda like salmon, but I don't like peas, and I'm not hot on milk. These are the major elements of the dish. What was I thinking? It never smelled good to me, yet Your Sis went crazy for it as she walked in from work. The cats I had to lock up to keep them out from under my feet, and I almost did the same to her. I cooked it and served it and realized I was in trouble. We sat down to eat -- finally, after a long day for us both -- and just as I was putting the spoonful of salmon, macaroni, and peas into my wary mouth, the phone rang. My mom's neighbor had committed suicide.

I had known this man all my life and, for all my life, he was a right bastard. He was proud to be dumb, slovenly, and chippy. He didn't like me either. I was a smartypants from birth, and all our conversations ended with tension. How he made it to be a state trooper says a lot about South Carolina's men in gray. Since he retired, he physically broke down with obesity and bad diets. He allegedly had legs black from poor circulation, and he was weary of dialysis. He went into his backyard, on the opposite side of the fence from my parents' bedroom wall, and shot himself in the chest. Mom was bubbly from having something new to talk about. I don't think she took a breath for the half-hour in which she recited all the conversations she's had about the matter since it happened Tuesday night.

When I got off the phone I was so angered from my memories of this man and the way he treated his family and Mom's giddy gossiping that what little appetite I had for the casserole had evaporated. I slid my bowl over to Your Sis and microwaved some tomato soup.

It's the middle of Ocotober, and I still have not laid eyes on the kid I'm supposed to mentor for his senior project. He's way behind on this effort to make a comic book by the end of the semester. I've talked to his teacher (a good acquaintance), and she's now officially worried about his chances. I don't know if he can even draw a triangle.

I'm having weird water dreams where my backyard is flooded and stocked with sea creatures. Last night I dreamed I was fishing for decaying trout, and I threw at least one of them into the eager mouth of a walrus sitting next to me. I blame the casserole combined with the constant rain.

Picture of the Day
This is the schematic of the next project I want to build. And use. Upon an unsuspecting populace of no-good-niks.

Wednesday, October 14

Slow Moving Forward

I just got off the phone with the cabinet business and explained they installed the sliding drawers on the wrong columns. The owner wasn't thrilled and asked simply "is their placement important?" Yep, I said. The gas stove can melt the carpenter's glue holding them together, and it's not what we asked for. He said they can come by tomorrow to remeasure the shelves (the columns are different widths), and they can install them properly when those shelves arrive at their store. I think he handled it right, so far, and I hope we can get this fixed with a minimum of sawdust.

Your Sister worked from about 4 to just before midnight. She has a teacher presentation on Saturday, and she's working with a PowerPoint knockoff. It doesn't work the same, and she had to adjust to it for virtually every step. The school switched from Microsoft Office to Open Office, and the programs are fully compatible. I kept her fed at her desk and stayed out of her way. She was pooped but content with what she created.

I ran, and I seem to have plateaued on my time. I need new shoes, true, but I think I'm also doing too much pre-run exercise, leaving me with a low tank before I even get out the door. I'm shifting my stride based on the grade of the hills. When my lungs are OK, my legs are sluggish When my legs are OK, my ribs ache. This didn't happen when I ran in the mornings.

Picture of the Day
Whenever I post a Star Wars image I found online, I think "well, surely that's the last one I'll ever find." But no. There's always more.

Tuesday, October 13

Here Is My Money. Do As I Ask.

When the cabinet people were installing the sliding drawers, I commented that they were measuring the wrong set of shelves. No, no, they explained. The sliders have to go on the interior shelves because the exterior shelves have a bigger upper sill. Oh, I said, but I could have sworn we wanted the drawers on the exteriors. I didn't have the design drawing on hand, and I let them finish their work. I told Your Sis about it when she got home, and she too could have sworn we asked for exterior shelf drawers. She found the drawing, and there it is: exteriors sliding drawers.

Looks like I have to be Mad Customer this weekend. As they will not be allowed to work while no one is home, we'll have to set up yet another time when they can fix it while one of us is home. Or they can give us back a chunk of money. I prefer the former. What I truly prefer is that they come out on Saturday and fix it. They don't prefer Saturday work, but maybe they prefer getting a job done right.

The sports shoe store was closed for the holiday, so no new running shoes for me. When I went price comparing in Sears for lawnmowers, I noticed how small the store was. It's about half the size of our house, and it only sells appliances and lawn equipment. There were three employees, and they were all working with one costumer buying a washing machine. They said nothing to me. I was there for ten minutes, checking mower parts, reading instructions, and jotting down prices and specs. They didn't check on me once. Didn't even say hello. Out I went. I'll buy the mower from Lowe's instead.

That's three-for-three in inconvenient consumer experiences. Socialism is looking pretty good right now.

Picture of the Day
Man, I miss Lost.

Monday, October 12

Waiting and Hurting

The office closed early Friday, and I waited to hear from Your Sister. She declined my offer to accompany her to the doctor, and I sat at home. Her appointment was at 3:45. I was anxious and killed time with a video game because it's mindless stuff. When 5 rolled around, I was bouncing off the walls. Here it was more than an hour later, and I had heard nothing. Madness. I called her, expecting to hear a bad diagnosis and a touch of anger that I hadn't gone with her after all. Sure, she said no, but I imagined her sitting there, stunned by a bad diagnosis and alone. I was mad at myself and her and the doctors, and it was all imagined.

She was still in the waiting room when I finally called her. I offered to wait with her, and she again said no. We said goodbye, and I went back to the game to kill time and faceless bad guys, who now were everyone between Your Sis and the manila folder with the words "OK" stamped on it. She got in to see him about ten minutes later. It took two minutes to say she's fine. She called me and drove home, and we surprised each other by how worried we were. This, on top of a big week, wore her out, and she went to bed early.

On Saturday, she drove her motorcycle to Asheville for the scheduled tune-up. I drove behind her, and we shopped in town while they fixed her bike. To properly work on it, the garage had to cool the bike down, and that gave us extra time at the mall. We got some new clothes and considered Christmas gifts. She looked at games and puzzles for the library and got Halloween cards for the nieces. I almost bought a musical card with the Wicked Witch of the West. She drove the bike back home in the rain, and she's becoming a pro at all-weather riding. She's also getting me closer to getting my own bike license. She said I can borrow her helmet.

We watched Zodiac that night while we ate the fiery Thai food. The film is great, maybe my favorite David Fincher film, and I love madly Fight Club and Seven. It's long -- a chunky three hours -- but it's about smart people thinking out loud, and I'm a sucker for that.

We were suffering Sunday after the Thai food. My throat was shot, my stomach was burning. No es bueno all around. We ate soup and porous food all day.

I'm at home today babysitting the cabinet people as they finish (hopefully) the shelves. It already looks like they put the sliding drawers on the wrong shelves, and they're currently driving back to their shop because the air compressor doesn't work. These people haven't won me over, and they've stepped on the wrong foot since Day One. I'll be relieved when this is over.

Picture of the Day
It was the fourth annual Wonder Woman Day in New Jersey and New Jersey this weekend. The events raise money for domestic violence charities and many comic artists attend to sale sketches to raise funds. I still hold that WW is the most recognizable pop female icon. I bet more people can name her than the Mona Lisa.