Monday, January 27, 2014

Now we know who to blame: Armstrong Floors.


Dear Reader, you know that I love antiquing and junking.  Every now and then you find a lovely piece of antique furniture that someone ruined at some time in the past by painting it.  "Who would do that?" one often asks themselves.  Or my favorite - like an 1840s dresser that someone in the 1960s decided to "antique" with paint.  Isn't 120 years old in 1968 terms already an antique?

I found this on the inside cover of an old issue of American Home Magazine, and Reader, Cookie was speechless.  And given I was in loo was just coincidence.


Well, lets start right here in the narrative:


So here we have the narrative.  A housewife with a gaggle of furniture styles asks an old man who sells LINOLEUM for design advice.   So what does he do?

He sells he LINOLEUM for her LIVING ROOM FLOOR.  Oh, bitch please!

Today, his alone would spark a comment like "Tom, you aren't going to be happy honey, but the floor people just ripped up the 1960s carpet and instead of hardwood, they found linoleum with an asbestos backing glued to the hardwood.  We're going to have to call in a environmental clean up company.  What?  How would I know who the hell would lay down linoleum floor on hardwood?"

Well we know know, it was Mr. Hart who ruined the floor.

Back in the narrative Mr. Hart then picks the wall color and the accent wallpaper, and tells her to PAINT THE VICTORIAN CHAIRS WHITE.  Seriously, what the hey?

On Antiques Roadshow, they would draw a collective gasp and clutching of pearls.  "The paint has ruined the value."

Then, and this is my favorite part, he has her hand a floor to ceiling curtain in mid room so she can back up a dilapidated spinnet piano from 1910, which get a coat of paint.  So the piano is on one side of the drape, and the sofa on the other side. Isn't that clever?

Then he sells her some flea market tables and lamps.  And he mounts coach lights way up top of the fireplace. Evidently no one has that coach lights belong on coaches, not walls.  But he's not done, oh no he's not!

His cherry on top for the room is, drum roll, please: a huge ass black ceramic eagle to perch right over the fireplace.  Quelle horreur!

What is it with people and Eagles?  In nature, they are majestic.  But perched above a fireplace, it becomes a conversation piece.  In an flea market today it would bring "What do you do with it?  Put it on the mantle? Oh. Bitch. Please.  You are too funny. Now seriously, what does one do with it? Make it into a bird bath with a metal garbage can lid?"

And the Eagle thing is all over freaking Baltimore.  If Baltimore was the setting for an ironic show like Portlandia where you "put a bird on it", the catch phrase would be "slap a spread eagle on it."  They are every where.

So if you have ever wondered why someone would do something stupid to a perfectly knick knack, or buy a huge black eagle, you got your answer.  Armstrong - the tile people put them up to it.

So what's your favorite part of the room above?



Monday, January 20, 2014

What happens when you cancel in fewer than seven days



So you all know my health issue, and we know it can be cured.  No one ever died of a hemorrhoid, or three.

Well actually, I have a great, great aunt who did.  Really.  Her son in law, a surgeon in Columbus in 1906 did the surgery.  He found necrotic tissue.  It was grisly.  I have the death certificate.

But I digress.

Well I was supposed to have a colonoscopy tomorrow, but something came up when my beloved Mother in law fell down and broke her hip.

Mom is 90+ and very frail, so this was really, really serious.

Well, the minute we found out it was Mom who moved to the top of our lists and despite the husband protesting that I would miss my appointment, I put my foot down.  A colonoscopy can be rescheduled. Your mother, or your husband's mother, in a time of need, cannot be postponed.

So one of the things I needed to do was cancel the "procedure".  Immediately after the tickets were purchased, I called the doctor, asked for the scheduler, and told her why I was calling.

Scheduler then tells me that they will bill me for $300.  Say what?

"If you cancel without seven days notice, then you agree to be billed $300," says she.

I look through the paperwork and and see that, but I also see "emergency cancellations will be handled on a case by case action."

So I inquire as to this emergency dispensation, and we go around and around.  I mean, my mother in law had no idea she was going to fall, so how could she plan it for this office's convenience?  Silly me for thinking that a broken hip on a 90 year old woman with breast cancer wasn't important.  Right?

"Can't your wife visit her mother on her own?"

"No."

"Well why not?"

"Well for one thing, my husband is a man, not a woman and..."

I thought about this, and it could have been a teaching moment.  Or I could have gone all Julia Sugarbaker on this dim witted twit.

But I swallowed my disbelief and simply said "...my place is at my husband's side. And if the doctor can't understand that, then maybe its time to find another practice."

"Well, if it can't be worked out, fine, I will find something to tell the doctor."

Tell him the truth you stupid bitch, I thought.  But it didn't leave my mouth.  You can't open the mind of someone who doesn't have a mind to open.  And, After her boss is explore the resources my rectum like Lewis and Clark explored the great Northwest.  So if she's stupid and vindictive, I could get a 5PM colonoscopy scheduled, and who wants that, right?

We rescheduled my procedure, which will happen in two weeks if all things remain constant.

Do I want to be sitting in a 90 degree nursing home watching a woman who I love nearing the end of her life?  Or do I want to see the pain in my father in laws eyes as the woman who has been with him every day for 66 years slips a bit further away with each tick of the clock.  No.

But I want to be there because it makes their hearts feel stronger knowing that they are our priority, and they are.  As it should be.  Because I love them.  And I am annoyed by the nurse.

Maybe the scheduler doesn't have anyone to love, or has never been able to let someone love them.  Maybe this was her way of putting up with one more person canceling at the last moment.  Maybe.

So here we are.  Sitting.  Holding a hand.  Smiling.  Hoping.  And praying.





Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our decision not to have an open kitchen

This just makes Cookie queasy.


When we bought Ville d"Cookie in Baltimore, it wasn't perfect.  In fact, it has proven difficult - damn difficult - to live in.

A house designed in the 1920's is designed for how they lived in the 1920s - a room for everything and everything in its room.  As quaint as they charmers are, most people who own houses don't "live" in the room, seldom eat in the dining room, and almost never have breakfast in the breakfast room - if in any room at all.  

However it is the kitchen that houses came with that are the most difficult to live with, because they are so damn small - but there was a reason why they were made small.  

After WWI, the idea that a middle income or high income household needed a large kitchen flew out the door when the household staffs began to shrink.  As wood stoves were replaced with electric and natural gas ranges, electric refrigeration, electric toasters and irons, and - GASP! - electric sinks (what we now call dishwashers) became available and common place, a housewife or limited staff, like a housekeeper, could run the house on their own.

And small kitchens were believed to save steps, and thus be easier on housewives, and thus efficient.  And this worked until the late 1940s.

In the 1950s, following WWII, open concept living was pushed for a variety of reasons, but chief among them was if you eliminate walls, you eliminate building costs.  So you had ranch houses with slightly larger kitchens with things like "snack bars", because serving the family like a diner was sold as being more efficient.

Kitchens got big again in the late 1960s and continued to grow until they were larger than living rooms - which we all know that people wouldn't live in because anyone coming to the house would see the mess.  So while kitchens go bigger, Living rooms reverted back to their role as the front parlor.  Eventually, the family was moved from the living room to the "family room" - a place where the family could gather around the TV.

All the while, kitchens kept getting bigger, fancier and expensive.

And frankly, I think BIG kitchens are making us BIGGER at the same time.  When you are living in a room with a TV and a kitchen, you have no excuse not to eat.  The food is too easy to get your big grubby paws on.

Now lets circle this back to the Cookie's and our kitchen, which is small, poorly laid out and has no work space.  At 144 square feet it has three indoor doors, one outdoor door, a stove, a sink and a side by side fridge.  And no garbage disposal or dishwasher because of the "big black bastard" of a radiator (5 foot long, and eighteen inches high and deep) that lives in the cupboard under the sink.

We had been considering knocking down walls and opening it up, but because the wall separating the kitchen from the rest of the house is a load bearing masonry wall, that would have added $20,000 to what would have been an affordable redo.

And then I saw online that small efficient kitchens that can be closed off from the rest of the house are the next hot thing.

Sweet smoking Jesus!  It's now chic to be small!

Also going by the wayside in these chic, small kitchens, are granite counters, which leach radon into air.  So that is saving us ten grand, right there.

BUT we have decided to take that useless breakfast room that connects the kitchen to the dining and install a serving counter with a bar sink, and bar fridge. You'll be able to see that from the kitchen, but not the mess. And our guests don't need to be in the kitchen.

So the husband and I have decided that our goal is to go back to that 1920s ideal of modern appliances, labor saving steps and simplification.  And reader, I am ready.

Now all we need is money!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A little surgery



Not one to feel sorry for myself, I did get a bit of bad news today during a follow up for my blood pressure monitoring.  I need to be on drugs to lower said pressure.

But thats not the bad news.

While I was there I asked the Dr. GP to look at a hemorrhoid, and he did, and the next thing I know I was sent directly to the Dr. Butt and Gutt.  I learned that Dr. Butt and Gutt was a native of Rome, Italy and came to the states for his training, and decided to stay because he loves rollercoasters.

Well, Butt and Gutt was very nice, had me drop my pants.  If you have never been to see a Butt and Gutt, they have these fabulous tables that are like kneelers, but they elevate your arse into the air so they can have a look see.

So like Norma, I had my ass in the air for a strange man.

And before this goes any further, Cookie's whole is exclusively an outtie, period.  Cookie hasn't bottomed since 1983.  Why, because it just isn't my thing.

Anyway, in goes his finger (YIPE!), and then goes the proctoscope, and then the table comes down and he says get dressed and come into my office in his thick Italian high pitched voice.

He sits me down and says "you don't have a hemorrhoid.  No.  You got three hemorrhoid.  And they are some big hemorrhoid.  You must be in a lot of pain."

I explain that I have a high tolerance for pain.

"You and your partner, you have the anal intercourse?"

I explain its an outtie.

"Because I know many men who come to see me have the anal intercourse, and the rectum is not always thrilled with the anal intercourse."

I explain its an outtie.  Again.

"Hmmm," say he.  "Ahh!  How long you have the diverticulitis?"

I explain by saying years.  We talk.

"That explain the the three BIG hemorrhoid."

He continues on to explain that he can't remove the hemorrhoids via ligation (the shoot a rubber band it the site and it cuts off the circulation, and the object dies and falls from the rectum wall) and that "we have to do little surgery."

I feel better, a little surgery, thats not bad.

"But these are just too engorged for the ligation."

And then my stomach dropped.

"Don't worry, its out patient."

He explained that since it has been ten years since my last colonoscopy, after which my doctor in Columbus, who I adored said "If the the rules were different I'd slap you on the ass and tell you that your were pig whistle clean.  But I can't, so I will just say that you have a healthy colon without any abnormalities."

That doctor was cute.  He could have slapped on on the ass.  Instead I am giving my ass over to a 50 year old Italian who is a great surgeon, but gets zero points on the hunk-o-meter.

So this is where we are.  First procedure is schedule for the 20th.  Then we decide how to proceed on the other matter.

I mean nothing is so terrible that it can't be fixed.  Still, I hate clear liquid diets.  And it looks like I will be getting a number of them in the days ahead.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Follow the dotted lines

Can you imagine being able to cut this whole coupon out, including
the woman, who looks like my friend Jody Homan and handing it to a cashier?
Maybe they would DOUBLE IT to a whole .14 cents!


So Cookie has been thinking a lot.

About the coming year.

Do you remember when we were younger and we thought the coming year was going to be a big thing?

Cookie was like that.  I would think that "this new year is going to be so much better than that tired, tired old year we were leaving behind.

And it only took me 51 years to follow the dotted lines to realize that if we really believe that the coming year was going to be one of promise, then it couldn't be that tired ratty old year we left behind, because then every year would be a set up to fail with our hopes up so far that they could meet expectations.

If every old year is bad and every new year has to be better than the old one, then you have wasted a year of your life.  And with fewer years in front of me, I want each year to count as a good one.

And come to think about, 2013 was pretty darn Tits, with a capital "T", because we each got something that we had longed for.

For example, we didn't get Mitt Romney for President.  And I think we all can agree that was a win for the U.S.  It was not a win for my best friend from high school, a gay man who isn't a happy gay man, because he's a Republican with a man crush on Mitt Romney.

Go ahead and reread that statement.  It's true.

That's right, my best friend from high school had a man crush on Mitt Romney.  Poor dear.  Had Mitt Romney offered my friend the chance to campaign with him, but only if my friend rode in the dog kennel strapped to the roof of the campaign bus, my friend would have been up that bus and in that kennel faster than you could say "Mitsy".

And we did get President Obama reelected.  But it's been a bruising year for the President, and I feel for him.  But if the President were here with me, I would say Mr. President, you need to let go of the micromanaging and you have to trust people, the right people, to get it done.  And I would also say, Mr. President, appoint Mitch McConnell Ambassador to the South Pole, because it will be a cold day in hell before that lipless chick mouthed bastard gets with the game plan.

But the biggest, bestest day of the year can in June with decision on United States v. Windsor.  For the first time in history, in the eyes of the Federal Government, we are equal on marriage rights.

But lets also thank God above that Edie Windsor had such a beautiful last name.  And who doesn't love a euphonious sounding last name that makes us think of hang gliding: Wind Soar!  Because, you know, she could just as easily been Edie Lipschitz.  And you know what kind of sound bite that would have made on FOXNews.

But my personal win with 2013 is that for the first time since I was a very young child, I did not dissolve into a total mess from October 15th through December 15th with an attack of Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder.

Cookie is a long way from cured, but a change up in my meds combined with an amazing new Dr. Shrink, had me feeling as close to the normal that other people around me were feeling for the first time in a very long time. I mean I actually leave the Dr. Shrink's office with a smile on my face.  Of course it isn't all smiles while I am in the office, afterall I am undergoing an exorcism of sorts from that Demon father of mine.  But its good to leave and feel lighter because I have faced a facet of how he loved me, the wrong way, and getting that emotional puke out of you is freeing.

Well, I don't want you to think that everything in 2013 was a cakewalk.  We still have Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin to deal with, as well as their adoring fans.  Like a bad case of the clap before Penicillin, they are going to be around for a while.

And not everything in 2013 went my way, but you know, that really is OK.  We can't win at everything, and we can't always get our way.  And letting go of that expectation can take you much further in happiness than holding onto unrealistic goals.

So I am looking forward to 2014 in quite a different way.  I hope it lives up to the triumphs, and consistencies found in 2013.  New beginnings are a wonderful thing, but continuing the good mojo year to year is even better.  And who knows, if I keep following this dotted line of contentment, maybe I can lose a few pounds along the way.