Bathroom Project

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When I bought my house 11 years ago, I had to go with what I could afford.  Light fixtures, linoleum, basic counter tops, etc.  You get the idea.  I did upgrade the carpet with the help of my parents.  All I’ve really done to change the appearance of my house is to paint and add art on the walls.

Well… things are about to change…

With some clever math skills and lower interest rates, I have come to the point where I can do some house projects.  The first one is the master bath.  The shower is a standard fiberglass thing-y.  I don’t have a shower door, I’ve got a curtain.  I always intended to get a door  – when I could afford one.

I’ve been contemplating tile since last fall.  I think I’ve finally made a decision.  Quartzite shower and Travertine for the floor.  I decided to go with the tile that I really liked, because all tile you have to care for.  No matter the case, you have to make sure you use products that don’t strip the sealer.  So you might as well get what you like.

The look that I’m going for is something like this:

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It’s one of the displays at The Tile Shop.  I actually went there for their Basics of Tile class yesterday.  I think that I could try tiling, but not for this project.  The front entryway looks like a good starter project.  It’s a rectangle.  Because my home is one-level, I already have my concrete base.  The question is: Are the floors level?  I think so, but what do I know?  To me, it seems like you need all the right tools, some math skills and a little confidence.   I think I can handle that.  We’ll see just how soon I tackle it…

In the meantime, I’m getting bids from contractors.  Ugh.  I’m looking at accessories – counter top, shower hardware, towel racks, shower doors, etc.  There are lots of decisions to be made.  The fun part, is the tile patterns and sizes.  With my recent tile obsession you can imagine I might like this part.

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I’ll keep you posted as to my progress.  Right now it’s kind of slow going.  But once it starts, I think it will go pretty quickly.

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Accumulation

Tonight was my last wine class.  The topic: Sonoma County wines and travel tips.  This time, the class is located at a liquor store.  What is the advantage?  You can buy the wine after class.  What’ the disadvantage?  You can buy the wine after class.

The wines that we have had are not “break the bank” wines.  Some are more expensive than your average $10 bottle.  But since they’re kind of special, I’ll get a few.  Well…  a few has added up.

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Tonight’s picks were the 3 on the left of this photo.  Ridge Lytton Springs is a very smooth, mostly Red Zinfandel wine.  I’ve had this wine in these classes a few times and always have loved it.  We started class tonight with the Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc.  It was nice.  Refreshing.  I liked it.  It wasn’t super expensive, so I got it.  The 3rd wine in the picture is an Alexander Valley Cab that is the instructor’s go-to wine for a good Cab that isn’t super spendy.  When he did a blind comparison to an $80 bottle of Cab to this $20 bottle, everyone liked the $20 bottle.

Two weeks ago was the Napa class.  The weird-looking label on bottle #4 is called Palermo.  It’s a Cab and I loved it!  It was super smooth – low tannins.  The instructor also talked about Frog’s Leap vineyard during that class.  The guy that runs Frog’s Leap doesn’t irrigate.  I didn’t take super good notes because I’ve heard about this guy before.  But I think he does biodynamic farming.  Anyway… it would be a cool place to visit.  I haven’t tried Frog’s Leap wine, but I now have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Last week was the class about Mendocino wines.  We had the Chateau Montelena Riesling.  If you’ve watched the movie Bottle Shock, you need to just have a bottle from Chateau Montelena.  It was their Chardonnay that the movie is about, but the Riesling is quite good and will go with a lot of foods.

The other three in the pictures were wines that I bought because of having them in one of these classes.  The Cotes du Ventoux and Crozes Hermitage were ones that we had during the “Wine and War” class.  I got them over a year ago.  I don’t remember much about them.  I just know that they were good.

The Vina Carneiro is a wine we had in the last class – Hidden Gems of the Wine World.  The grape is Mencia, from the Ribeira Sacra area of Northern Spain.  There is so little of this made, that it’s amazing that we can get it here.  The wine laws are different in each state.  I’m fortunate to live in a state that has over 30 importers, so we get a wide variety here.  Some states, larger than mine, have less than 10.  The state of Pennsylvania has one – it’s the state that controls it.  Anyone in PA is not going to get a good variety of wine in comparison to other states.

Geeze, I’m just full of little tidbits about wine!  Too bad I don’t have it all organized in my head.  It sure would be fun to teach adults about wine!

So…  I’ve accumulated all of this wine that I deem “special.”  My problem is that I feel like I need a special reason to open it.  I think that just means that I need to have people over who would appreciate it!

The Other Ms B

If you are a teacher, you probably have another teacher in your building whose name or look is similar to yours and the kids inevitably call you by his or her name.  There have been a few people in my building that fit either the name or the look category.

For some reason, when Margaret was teaching down the hall from me, the kids would often ask if we were sisters.  I think we both thought that this was a nice complement.  We would sometimes play it up, but we’d mostly just chuckle and have a good laugh.  We’d even joke with our kids and ask them why they thought we were sisters.  “Is it ’cause we’re white?”

The one that I get called the most is the other Ms B in the building.  We’re pretty close to the same age, height, hair coloring, etc.  Plus, “Ms B” works for both of us.  This morning I ran into the other Ms B in the hallway.  We took a look at each other and just started laughing.

Ms B:  Now they’re really not going to be able to tell us apart.

We were both wearing khaki type capri pants, shirts of a similar shade of orange and a light weight white jacket.

Later in the day I ran into her and she said, “Do you want to come into my class and see if they notice?”

The Well-Placed Question

I was at one of my wine classes tonight.  Tonight’s topic was wines of Mendocino county and travel tips.  This class has two instructors.  The usual guy had some scheduling conflicts and he also is trying to get another person to help with these classes.  The other guy also knows more about Mendocino.  So they’re capitalizing on what each of them knows.  It makes sense to me.

Tonight was my first class with the new guy.  He did a good job.  Great wines, good information, entertaining.  At the end of the class he ran out of his structured talk.  So what happens in a room with thirty-plus adults?  A bunch of side conversations start.  How do you rein them back in?

The teacher in me had to jump in and help.  So I raised my hand and asked what were his “places not to miss” in Mendocino.  At the end of a class, doing some sort of summarizing activity is pretty much standard operating procedure.  As the new guy gave us his run down on top sites of Mendo, the class quieted down and listened up.

I’m sure the new instructor had no idea that my question helped him to re-focus the class and gave him a good wrap up for the evening.

I don’t know how long it will take for people to realize that teaching is an art.  Being able to manage a group of people, whether little ones or big ones, is a skill.  For some people, it comes naturally, but for many it does not.  And some of us can even do it from the sidelines.  😉

Dating Sites

Yes, I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine.  That’s what it usually takes for me to venture onto a dating site.  I think I’d like to date.  But I haven’t had one in several years.  Ok…  just filled up on glass #3 – Graffigna Malbec is the wine of choice tonight.

How do people meet up these days?  If you don’t do a dating site, how do you meet people?  I certainly don’t meet anyone at work.  My profession is primarily female and my “clients” are teenagers.

My logical self tells me that I’m quite a catch.  I’m financially independent, attractive, self-assured, intelligent, and have little to no baggage.  At the age of 41, what should I expect?

What are the prospects of finding a guy that doesn’t have kids by now?  In the past few years I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not having them.  I’m ok with that.  I get to be the totally cool, awesome aunt.  If the guy has kids, where exactly would I fit in?  They should be his top priority.  But where does that leave me?

I really have to wonder about the guys that are separated.  C’mon!  Get your shit together.  Get your divorce done with before you bring someone else into the equation.  If a dating site offers “separated” as a status they should come with some device that boots you out the minute you check it.  If you can’t handle being alone for the time it takes for your divorce to happen, you need to be a little more introspective.  Take the time.  Get over your past relationship before you jump into your next one.  I don’t want to be the girl that helps you get over the last one.  Been there, done that.

There’s usually a spot for your political beliefs.  What the hell do they believe if they check “non-partisan?”  How can you not have an opinion on what is happening in today’s political climate?  I know I’m breaking it down to very simplistic terms, but you are either for the rich getting richer or you’re for the underdog.  And I have very strong opinions on that one.  You cannot be living in this world and not have an opinion on politics.  Don’t be a chicken-shit and say “non-partisan.”

And what is the deal with age?  Overwhelmingly, when you look at the age preferences of men, they want to date a woman who is either their age or younger.  Very rarely do you see a man with an age range that includes women more than 5 years older than himself.  Since I look and feel younger than 41, I am again, screwed.

I realize that I probably am pretty particular in what I want.  But then again, you have to be when it comes to something like this.  I’m sure I sound completely cynical about this process.  But look at the reality.  I’m not a damsel in distress that needs to be rescued.  I’m a completely competent woman who is just looking for someone to share her life with.  It shouldn’t be this difficult.

I love my T.A.!

After you have a sub for a few days, there is usually a fair amount of clean-up when you get back.  Papers to correct, questions to answer, lots to do.

My Algebra 2 classes are well-trained and can practically run themselves.  We have a routine.  They know how it works.  They are mature enough to get their work done and not freak out if the sub doesn’t know any math.  They can go with the flow.

My Geometry is mostly sophomores.  They’re not as mature and I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing discipline, so it’s not as quite as well-oiled a machine as the other two.  My one saving grace in Geometry is that I have my TA during that hour.  I’ll call him Joe.  He is great at recording homework scores and when they’re working, he goes around and answers questions, just like I do.  I had him in Algebra 2 last year, and he was a fantastic math student.  So I trust him to help.  Plus, the kids like getting help from Joe.  Even though I don’t think I’m a scary teacher, some find it easier to ask a peer for help.  Plus, I’m usually dealing with the turkeys, so he can help the quieter kids.

My students all knew that I was going to Steve’s funeral.  They even asked about it when I came back on Wednesday.  So I told them about his struggle with cancer and that he has a son their age and a daughter almost 5.  They could relate and showed that they had empathy.  To me that’s encouraging.

My biggest surprise when I came back was in the morning before school.  Joe stopped by before classes started.  The sub had left a note that he was a lot of help.  Now I was about to find out just how much.

I never have a sub collect homework.  I just don’t want it to get lost.  So I was expecting to deal with 3 days worth of it.  Guess what?  I didn’t have to.  Joe knows me well enough to guess how I’ll do the points on any given assignment.  I usually give a point for the work and a point for the answer.  It’s pretty simple.  So Joe took it upon himself to collect the Friday book work, correct it, assign points and record it.  On Tuesday, he collected both worksheets and took them home to correct them and assign points!  He didn’t want to have too much work to do on Wednesday and he wanted to surprise me.  To top it off he says, “There’s one girl that doesn’t seem to get it.”  I said, “Gina, right?”  Joe says, “Yeah.  Which one is she?  I’ll go help her when it’s work time.”  I’ve been meaning to give Gina some individual attention, but I’m always too busy with the discipline aspect of my job and trying to get others to sit down shut up and do their work.  Joe figured out that Gina’s main issue was not operating the calculator correctly.  Guess what?  She did great on her test Thursday!

On Friday I asked Joe if he ever thought about being a teacher.  After a long pause, he says to me, “Hmm… I’m not sure.  I’d probably want to smack one of them.  Maybe at the college level, or a private school…”

Family Time

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It’s really too bad that what brings people together are weddings and funerals. Yesterday was Steve’s memorial service.

Sunday was the travel day. We all made our way to Kansas City from north, south, east and west. It was a very sad reason to get together, but it was also a joyous celebration. We were all staying at the same hotel. As we arrived, we sort of took over the common area in the lobby. Each traveler, or group of travelers, were greeted with a round of hugs as they came in. This is just how we do it on this side of the family. Lots of hugs. Especially this weekend.

I know I have an awesome family. But it’s always nice to see them and re-connect. All of my aunts and uncles made it and eight out of the ten cousins. I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I saw some of my cousins. I’m sure it has been a few years in some cases and many in at least one other. I don’t know if it’s this way in many families, but even if I weren’t related to these people, I’d want to be!

It was really wonderful to have everyone there. This was probably the toughest funeral I’ve been to. At any second I could have fallen apart into a pool of tears. And if you know anything about me, I’m one of those stoic Norwegians that doesn’t cry in front of anyone.

It will take a long time to “get over” Steve’s death. The thing that is so reassuring is that he’s not in pain any more. He is at peace. And he was ready. He wrote letters to his aunts, uncles, siblings, parents and close friends. Knowing that he had a limited time, he made sure that we all knew how much he cared about us.

One thing Steve taught us from all of this, is that we all need to live life to the fullest. No matter how bad you think your hand is, it could always be worse. Make the most of what you’ve got and try to look on the bright side and create your own happiness.