Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not Buying Mom's House

Well, after some fairly careful calculations, Jeff and I have decided we're not going to be able to buy my Mom's house. If we were to buy it, we'd likely use up most of our savings buying the house and then remodeling it. And we'd be obligated to support my mother as long as she's living with us (which might be a VERY long time) and that will likely add up to several hundred dollars a month. While covering these expenses is probably a reasonable expectation for my mother to have, Jeff working at Apple long-term isn't part of our plan. And once I finish school I'm hoping to get a job as a paralegal and they don't make enough to support our household expenses as well as my mother's. Oh well. It's a really good opportunity, but we're just going to have to pass.

We finally went to Costco this morning and tried to buy that TV. We wrote a check and they said they had to call the bank to verify the funds. And then they came back just a couple minutes later and said they wouldn't take it. I was shocked! We're running very high balances in that checking account so I suspect they were just too lazy to work through the stupid telephone messaging system at the Credit Union and decided it was better to be safe than sorry. I've called the bank and there isn't a problem on their end. It's Costco's loss, because the total for the transaction was more than $1,800 plus they've probably lost me as a customer.

Update at 4:30PM:

So, it turns out you can buy TVs and Blu-Ray players at the website and the price includes shipping and they accept Mastercard and Visa as payment. (But they don't take the credit cards in the stores--how stupid is that?) Since we're sort of in a bind because we need a TV smaller than 38" wide and they happen to have a 40" TV that comes 37.25" wide (the smallest we've found), I just went ahead and ordered from their website. I'm still very annoyed with them... =)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ran Out of Steam

School has started and I seem to have run out of steam on my recreational reading binge. It was a good run. I think I read a total of 11 full books in about two weeks and also about 50% of two additional books I decided not to finish simply because I wasn't enjoying them. I was reading Birdsong this week, but I just couldn't get into it, despite trying. The beginning of the book starts out much like those cheap romances and then abruptly drops you six years later into trench warfare in World War I. I just wasn't up to finishing, especially with the pile of textbooks staring at me. =) I do plan to continue to work through my reading list, just more slowly. I hope to read an average of one book a week through the end of the year.

My PE class has been going well. I'm feeling sore all over, which means it's working! And I'm also making an effort to eat healthier food, which is difficult for me. I'm starting with salads and fruit and trying to lay off the soda and junk food. This morning Shasta and I went for a two-mile walk through the neighborhood and we'll take another walk tonight. As a minimum, I'm trying to get at least 6,000 steps every single day.

This is the first time I've attended a college on the semester system, so the 18 weeks is probably going to feel like it's taking forever! Quarters finish up in 12 weeks, so I'm used to a rather speedier pace. We're now starting week 2 and none of my classes have really even gotten past the intro. Many of the books aren't even in the bookstore yet (I have mine because I ordered them from Amazon a week before classes). It's tempting to skip class tonight since I know the teacher is just going to talk about interesting stuff that has nothing to do with the class...but I will no doubt go. I just can't bring myself to miss class, except for emergencies.

Now that my leg is feeling better, I think it's time to cut out quilt pieces for my next project. I need to decide which one to work on first, probably the quilt for the living room which coordinates with the rug in there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back in School

Well, I am back in school. I have classes three nights a week: Wednesday is Legal Research and Writing, Thursday is Civil Litigation and Trial Preparation and Monday is Torts. I have the same teacher for both Civil Lit & Torts and he's quite a character.

I've also got an adaptive PE class three mornings a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I went the first time yesterday and it went pretty well. The teacher spends about half-an-hour going through a warm-up routine and then we spend the remaining hour or so working out on the exercise equipment. I'm a bit sore today.

This past weekend our high school, Cupertino High School, held its 25th Reunion for our Class of 1984. Jeff went to the actual reunion, but I did not; none of my non-local high school friends planned to go, so I couldn't see spending $115 to attend. We did both go to the informal class picnic on Sunday.

We haven't decided whether we're going to buy my mother's house in Cupertino. We're still negotiating with her about the details. We need to have a clear understanding about what she expects from us before we'll consider agreeing to the deal. We are going to do dinner with her on Friday night and talk about it further.

We have mused a bit about IF we buy the house, how we would remodel it. The house was built in 1959 and doesn't seem to have any particularly striking style; both the bathrooms and kitchen have been remodeled (in around 1980) and don't retain any mid-century look (if it ever had any). Currently, it's just a bland, fixer rancher house with an attached garage and a big lot.

Since I've been researching the 1920s Bungalows for a couple years now, and it would be easy to slip into this style with its hardwoods and tile. But we may choose something a bit more modern for the interior, because the 2 car attached garage just won't look right on a craftsman. IF we buy this house, we'll have so many decisions ahead of us.

I've been continuing to read, though my pace has slowed down considerably. Since my last list, I have read:
  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. An enjoyable book. I wasn't aware that geishas were, basically, slaves. They were typically the girl children that were sold by their parents for this type of work. Most of them didn't voluntarily choose this type of career. Though, it sounded like even when they are older and have the chance to get out, many choose to stay.
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. While I mostly enjoyed this book, it was just too slow. And the author kept jumping around to different times, places and people and it could be hard to follow. And I was really disapproving when the 70-year-old guy had an affair with his teenage ward; yuck. The novel would have been improved by this entire storyline being dropped from the book.
I am still working on the Jane Austen Shorter Works; I read it on and off. I have also today started Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks which seems to be a romance set in the time of World War 1.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interesting Week

It's been an interesting week for us. Jeff and I had dental appointments down in Cupertino on Wednesday so I asked my Mom to watch Shasta for us while we were there for our appointments.

Anyway, when I went back to pick up the dog, she made us a *very good* offer to buy her house and we're definitely thinking about it. The deal includes finishing the detached garage into a granny cottage and letting her stay there until she has to move out (because she can no longer take care of herself).

So, now we have to decide a number of things:
  1. Do we want to stay in California, probably permanently? (We love Oregon, and have been planning for a while now to move back up there as soon as the economy improved and we thought we could successfully find jobs.)
  2. Do we have the resources to buy her out, remodel the house, and responsibly protect our financial future?
  3. Can we live with my mother? =)
Anyway, today we had a contractor out to get a ballpark for the remodel and granny cottage and it was quite a bit lower than I expected it to be. It is actually doable with our savings, as long as we sacrifice a number of our earlier plans. For many people, this might be a no brainer, but it's a pretty hard decision. We're still struggling with what we want the plan for our future to be.

I have continued to read from my booklist, though my pace has certainly slowed down. Since I last wrote, I have read:
  1. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. It was a perhaps well written, but IMHO a shockingly bad story. I have a hard time understanding why this book is #15, unless the survey was heavily weighted toward rebellious teenagers!
  2. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. I enjoyed this book fairly well, though I don't think Gatsby was very great... It was a tragedy, and it's nice to read those once in a while.
  3. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I really enjoyed this story about a widowed father who returns, with his aunt, to the family's old homestead in his native land.
I'm currently working on a book of Jane Austen's Shorter Works. It's pretty good so far.

I started school last night. I now have classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Reading Goal

I was inspired by the survey on Facebook to try and find the original BBC list. I don't know if I found the correct list, but I was able to find the BBC Big Read Top 200 they published a number of years ago.

I've decided I would like to be better acquainted with the "classics" of literature. I used to be an avid reader (by avid reader, I mean I used to read several hours nearly everyday) but reading has kind of fallen by the wayside as I grew into an adult and we got involved in other hobbies. I do still do a fair amount of reading, but usually I'm reading news articles and blogs on the internet, not books.

So, now I've put together a list of books I'd like to read, pulling primarily from the BBC list. I went through the complete 200 books and I added a few and checked off all the books that I remembered reading. Then I went to Wikipedia and looked up books I didn't recognize to see what kind of book they were. I mostly deleted children's books from the list; I'm not going to read another lame Harry Potter-type series (what a waste of time that was). As of today my list includes 111 books, but I'm steadily chipping away at it. (I'm very thankful for the Redwood City Library in this venture.) My long term goal is to read a book a week, but at the moment I'm getting through the list at a much faster pace.

Since last Friday I have read:
  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen. A lot like the movie I've watched over and over. There were some additional characters and some extra scenes not in the movie.
  2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. This one was a bit of a weird story, obviously not her best. And the ending was very rushed. But I did enjoy the book.
  3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This book seemed like a dud about half-way through, but it pulled out a good finish.
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen. I really liked this book.
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. OK, I have to admit I didn't actually finish this book; I tried. Yuck. I got about halfway through and the main characters were just mean and unpleasant. I am at a loss for why this book is in the Top 20. Obviously lots of people have a liking for tragic love stories resulting in bitter, unkind people.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Another excellent book. I realized while reading it that I had read it before, but hadn't remembered when filling out the original survey.
I'm trying to select my next book to read. My choices are Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I was hoping to read a more upbeat story next, but it doesn't look like either of these will fill the bill. (In fact, having now looked up the plot synopsis for Catcher in the Rye in Wikipedia, I'm not actually sure I'll read it; it sounds like a lame story. Some college drop-out has wayward adventures with alcohol and a prostitute as well as others. But since I've already checked it out, I will give it a start and see how it goes.) I might have to go to the library again and trade my finished books with some new ones from my list.

My leg is still really messed up. This is proving to be an excellent time to do some reading... =)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lots of Reading

I've gotten into a bit of a reading binge. After I checked out the book for my paralegal class, I picked it up yesterday and didn't put it down until I had finished. It was actually a good book and very readable, I would recommend it. It's titled Not a Genuine Black Man Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs by Brian Copeland. There are parts where you want to cry for what he went through.

Anyway, someone was passing around a survey of 100 Well Known mostly-Classical books you've read on Facebook and I was only able to mark about 30 of the listed books and none of the Jane Austen and I decided it was time to change that. So, I've gotten it into my head that I want to read more classical books, especially Jane Austen. I have never read any Jane Austen but I've watched the movies over and over.

I've just finished Sense & Sensibility and I enjoyed it. It was nice to get all the scenes and characters omitted from the movie. And I found it a lot more readable than I expected; there weren't many words that I didn't recognize.

I also checked out Northanger Abbey and I'm about to start that one this afternoon. I also checked out Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, because I happened to see it on the shelf and recognized it from the list. If I enjoy it, I'll read that one too.

My leg is messed up this week so this reading binge is well timed. I've got a big sore, maybe an insect bite, on my leg and it makes it painful to walk, so I won't be making my 6,000 steps a day this week. Oh well. I can always hope for better next week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Peach Jam!

Tonight, after the temperature cooled off, we decided to do some canning. The peach tree in the backyard is pretty full and the peaches are starting to fall on the ground. We managed to do two batches before we got tired of processing fruit and stirring the pot. We still have to do another couple of batches, but not tonight, we're too tired.

Apple has finally discontinued dinners at work, so Jeff should be home for dinner much more often. That will definitely improve the nutritional content of my dinners! Tonight we had a barley dish experiment; it was pretty good.

On another topic, we're pretty disappointed with our friend who was going to buy our Ford Ranger pickup. We had promised to sell our pickup to her when we were planning to travel for a year and when that plan changed we wanted to back out of the deal, but I couldn't make myself do it. We even called her last month to double-check that, yes, she still wanted the truck and was planning to come pick it up in August. So, we went ahead and bought the Toyota. Well, we finally call her yesterday because we haven't heard from her and she says she doesn't want it anymore! Grrr. So, now I guess we need to figure out what to do.

This morning we dropped the Ranger off at the auto shop. It needed its air conditioning recharged and a few other minor items worked on. If we do end up selling it to a stranger, it will likely fetch more dollars if the A/C is in working order. Though, we're actually considering selling our Honda Civic Hybrid instead. Jeff mostly commutes on CalTrain and I'm not commuting either, so the car just sits there. Though, I am concerned about if I get a job that's a bit of a drive... But we really don't need three cars. I guess we'll figure out what to do in a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Master Bedroom Closet

My brother Jeffrey came today to help us redo our master bedroom closet. I'm so excited! When I moved to Redwood City, I went from having 16 feet of closet in the master bedroom to having four, and now I have 6. This isn't a lot more, but it makes a difference. =)

I didn't actually take a "before" picture; oh well. Here is Jeffrey taking out the original closet.

Since the closet is more than three feet deep, we actually built the shelving 22" deep and brought the rods forward. This gives us some good storage space behind the clothes, instead of wasted in front of them.

I still have to paint it, which is sort of a shame because we used good quality maple plywood, but everything else in the room is painted. Painting is a project for another day, however, because we need time to patch it, prime it and then paint it. I don't have enough hours before bedtime today to get in that many coats and I needed to get the clothing off the bed.

There is actually one more really fun thing that my brother Jeffrey is going to do for us. He pulled out this shelving from the original closet, which actually appeared to be good quality wood from the 1950's, when they built this room onto the house.

Jeffrey is going to recycle it into a wood coat rack for my living room, that looks sort of like this:

I had already purchased the coat hooks and figured we would have to buy wood. If we can recycle this used wood, that will make the rack that much more special.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog Class and Kitchen Curtains Done

I finished the kitchen curtains today, finally. I'm not entirely happy with them (I should have made them a few inches longer), but they're much better than what was up there when we moved in. And then tonight Jeff hung them up for us.

I think it looks real nice with the sunlight shining through.

Tonight was the last night of Shasta's advanced beginning dog obedience class. Luckily, she did really well tonight and the instructors said she can pass onto the next level! I certainly had my doubts a few weeks ago. She still needs to work on "heel" but she did well on most of the other commands.

I still have a couple more house sewing projects, but I'm not in a rush to get them finished before I start school. I'm planning to make a new shower curtain and window valence for the guest bath. I've got enough curtain material left to make 6 placemats for the kitchen table. And I've got fabric to make triple pleat curtains for the living room, but we have to get the room cleaned up before I can deal with that project. I suspect it will happen once I'm in school, but it might not happen until winter break (mid-December), depending on how much homework I get.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kitchen Curtains in Progress

After a long visit to the dog park this morning, I worked on making the kitchen curtains. I got both sets of valences done and Jeff hung them tonight. I'm still working on the large portion for the main window and will certainly finish it tomorrow.

I've been making good progress on my To Do List; that school deadline is clearly a motivator for me. =) I'm running out of summer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fractal Quilt Done!

This time for sure! It's never a good sign when you have spare pieces leftover at the end. =)
Jeff made some changes in the original design and not all the edits were made correctly to the spreadsheet, so I had to rip out a couple pieces and replace them with the right bit. Now it's all fixed up and ready for machine quilting!

Fractal Quilt Almost Done

Yesterday, Jeff and I went to a friend's Birthday BBQ and luckily Shasta got to go too! She was a really good dog and clearly likes children. She played all day with the four kids who showed up at the party. And then we had a very sleepy puppy last night, which is always good.

Then last night when we got home, sometime after 8PM, I decided to start Jeff's fractal quilt. I reasoned that if I had any problems with his cutting directions, he would be around to ask. Well, this is where I am now. This went together quite easily and the batiks are a dream to work with. It's been a really fun project. I was so excited about my progress that I had to come make this post. I still need to add the green border and make a backing, but this one is just about done. Only another hour or so to finish, until after it's quilted.
In his directions, Jeff broke the quilt down into quite a few smaller units, which made it much easier to assemble.