Thursday, May 29, 2008

Friendship Stages

Think back to the 1980s and the Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal hey-day of "When Harry Met Sally". Hear the Harry Connick Jr. soundtrack playing great Sinatra standards. Remember the scene where Harry sees Sally in the airport and gives her his view on how she was seen off by her boyfriend because it was obviously early in the relationship when love was still blooming. Feel his cynicism as he describes the stages of every relationship.

Friendships are just the same.

In the early years its all about Falling In Like with someone new. You are discovering their story, interested in every detail of their life, mapping similarities and excited by the differences.

Eventually the friendships start to evolve to a stage of Confessions & Indiscretions. You learn about the darker side of your friend, their history, their relationships, their little secrets, and you find this deepens the relationship.

Comfort & Stability comes next. The friend is a part of your daily routine, your regular schedule, your normal life ebbs and flows in rhythm with theirs.

But then comes the real test. You are comfortable in your relationship. You know history, you're involved in the day-to-day strife, you may even be in one another's wills and be named as guardians for dependents. And this is where the Favors & Moves stage kicks in. It starts gradually, in such small increments it actually sneaks up on you. Can you help me with an errand? Can you drop off my books at the library? When you go to the store, would you pick me up a gallon of milk? And they repay you in kind. Sometimes even going above and beyond, with a quick call to you, "Hey, I'm at the store and saw X,Y, Z and I know you need it/want it - I'll buy it for you and you can pay me later." High gear happens when the casual mention of, "Hey, we're moving next month." comes up in conversation.

This? is your opportunity to turn and run. If you don't, you're in it for life and you've now decided the friendship is worthy of the highest level of commitment.

Yesterday, I helped some friends move. This is actually the third move I've helped them with (actually two previous with friend and hubby #1, this was my first with hubby #2). I missed one move with her because my father-in-law was in the hospital and I've never lived it down. THIS is the level of commitment required for the Favors & Move stage. Family hospitalization is NOT a get out of jail free card.

Because this is a later-in-life stage move, it involved professional movers. Ain't it grand to have a healthy checkbook at our age? Oh Joy, I thought. The hard labor will be handled by the pro's and we'll be sipping lemonade and pointing them in the right direction. And when I first arrived, this actually seemed to be what was in store for us. Then, as the day wore on, we realized there were so many things to do and we needed to kick into gear.

Suffice it to say, by 10:30PM - nearly 12 hours after I had arrived at the move site - the movers were JUST arriving at the new house with their 2nd (and final) FULL truck. My love for my friends had kept me going all day, but I have to admit, at that point, I was done. After putting in 4 hours at my office, I had helped with errands, kids, lunches, beverages, cleaning, packing, fridge/perishables, small boxes, odd-shaped unboxable items, setting up bed frames, unwrapping furniture blankets, garbage detail, area rug/room layouts, and the biggest job was calming, soothing, cajoling, advising, and entertaining to keep my friend on an even keel for the much longer haul she had in front of her. I had muscle pains, blisters, bruises and a headache by the time I left, but I still felt guilty as I knew they had another 4-6 hours ahead of them, not to mention the unpacking for the next three months.

Today, as my work day blew up all around me and I'm realizing I need to work well into the night to complete my deadlines for tomorrow I know I could have used that time yesterday to the advantage of my career. But the truth is, any friend who can look at me through those stages of friendship and hang in there through it all, is worth all the time, effort, and, yes, even the bruises.

I'm in it for life. And that's o.k. Because they are too. And that's the beauty of a true friendship.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cockroaches in the Kitchen

I arrived at the office this morning, and no sooner had I said my good mornings when someone barrelled down the aisle with the news, "There are cockroaches in the kitchen!"

Now our office has had our share of critters and varmints including mice, ants, and even a baby mole...but I had not encountered the dreaded cockroach before.

And apparently, they were not discovered in the dark recesses of a cabinet under the sink either, but rather openly skittering across the counters and even on top of the coffee machine.

{pause for me to shiver uncontrollably at the disgusting horror of these bugs}

As I spent most of the day nervously twitching my feet, brushing at imaginary tickles on my arms, and frequently brushing my hair, I recalled my first run-in with the cockroach.

Hubby had taken an apartment in an historic district of Rochester NY - East Avenue, a few blocks away from several landmarks such as the George Eastman House and the Asbury Methodist Church. The building, we were told, used to house railroad workers and had been a boarding room house. At some point in its history someone had taken the initiative to reconfigure all the single rooms into various apartments - some odder in shape than others - and turn it into a rental apartment building.

Hubby, being a poor 21 year old, had taken a "studio" that included a main living space, a tiny galley kitchen, an antique bathroom, an odd little closet next to the bathroom that was completely filled by the ancient fridge, and another un-named room (I think it was supposed to be like a changing area?) that was the pathway into another closet. The "changing room" actually fit a double mattress from wall to wall and therefore become the "sleeping closet" so that the living area didn't have to include a mattress.

Hubby used much of my hand-me-down furniture from college as I had graduated and moved back in with the folks. So he had the typical odd assortment of milk crates, half-broken chairs, platform with a mattress topper and bolster pillows that passed for a couch, and cheap and stained area rugs. The apartment used to get so hot in the summer that Hubby would walk a block down to the grocery store and just wander the frozen food aisle trying to cool down. The kitchen was so tiny that if you stood in the wrong way and opened the oven you could burn your ass on the radiator behind you. But it was his first place and we loved it.

One weekend, we had a friend in town with her boyfriend and we all stayed at the apartment. Since most of us were still living with our parents, it was a real treat to have a place of our own to feel like we were (almost) grown-up. While Hubby and I (then engaged) took our spot in the sleeping closet, our friends took a spare mattress in the living room.

We were awakened in the night by a primal scream from my friend who found cockroaches crawling through her beautiful blonde hair. Of course, we were mortified and had never seen a cockroach in the apartment prior to that day. We found out later that the neighbor was renovating her kitchen and in tearing out all the cabinetry and plumbing had dislodged a colony who scattered to the four corners of the building seeking asylum.

Since that time I've come across them in the south (although they quaintly refer to these large cousins of the cockroach as water bugs) and had to do my share of screaming and then squashing the critters. But I've never gotten over my horror.

I find it vastly ironic that should the worst nuclear disaster occur, they may be the only survivors on the planet. But, I guess as long as I don't have to live here with large, unexterminatable, mutant, radioactive cockroaches, I'm o.k. with that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Hard Part

Yesterday some friends came by for a holiday weekend BBQ. The first of the season. It was a beautiful warm spring/early summer day and just perfect for relaxing outdoors and enjoying friends' company.

During the course of the day, we talked a little about recent films we had seen. Hubby and I had just finished watching The Kite Runner, and I talked about how although I knew the story from the book - and as always, the book is much better - it was well made and it had touched me deeply, and the last line had caused me to cry.

Our friends told me they had recently seen "No Country for Old Men" and "There Must Be Blood". Shaking my head emphatically I said, "those look too hard for me...a lot of violence and depression." Given that I had just watched a film about war-torn afghanistan, the rape of children, and the depravity of religious fanatics, this statement was a little off kilter. And as only good friends can, they called me on it.

How can I claim to be a film fan and avoid some of the best and most recognized films in recent history? Will I allow myself to be relegated to an audience of "chick flicks"? Even Kite Runner, if it had not been such a popular book among my girlfriends, would I have picked it up and read it? Would I have learned about the history, the sadness, and the horrors of living in Afghanistan over the last several decades?

As this was on my mind today, I ran across a column in the news entitled, Why Didn't We Listen To Their Stories? The columnist talks about the forgotten heroes of World War I and how, upon their return, they were discouraged from discussing their experiences and telling their stories. Americans, the columnist supposes, are only interested in tales of horror that have entertainment value. I'm not sure I agree with this as a total truth, but after yesterdays' discussion I fully admit to often selectively avoiding unpleasantness and the difficult subject of war, poverty, politics, except in their most elevated and clean hypothetical nature.

I have a nephew by marriage who continues to serve our country and has served in two actions that I know of. One recently in Iraq and prior to that in a tour of duty in Bosnia. I've never asked him about these tours, telling myself that he doesn't wish to talk about them. But do I really know he doesn't want to speak of them? I want to respect his sense of privacy, duty, honor, and I want to recognize them as well. How is it best to face the horrors that exist in this world? Through movies, books, and sanitized or dramatized entertainment? Or through the personal experiences of those we know and love?

According to the columnist, "Do we honor our veterans for all their sacrifices, or do we care only if they can tell us a good story? And who, then, is guilty of ingratitude?"

On this Memorial Day 2008 I will try to take a moment from the BBQs, picnics, sunbathing, and general enjoyment of a day off, and think about the hard part that makes the country - with all its many faults - still great. The people. And in particular the men and women of the armed forces who stand on a wall, or make ready on their ship, or guard us from the air, and make the tough choices every day. They will live and die by their honor and by their code. And regardless of whether you agree with any or every action in which they partake, they do it on our behalf.

Thank you to all active and inactive, living and deceased, who havedone, not just their part, but the hard part.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm a Little Bored, Are You Bored?

So I really want to jumpstart my blogging again, but the ideas keep sliding out of my head. I really have to keep a notebook handy cuz it seems when I'm driving, or waking in the middle of the night, showering, or other necessary daily things is when I have a BRILLIANT idea, and then, in typical Wenderina fashion, when I hit the keyboard, I'm blank.

So I'm taking a tip from some of my favorite bloggers and asking you to de-lurk and ask me some questions - no question is too stupid to answer...however I do not vouch for the level of intelligence in my response.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back to Normal - Sort Of

Well after hosting Mom's annual visit here (thanks again Mom - I always appreciate that you make many more trips here than I do there) and a quick business trip to Birmingham AL for work and play (thanks Paddy, Edel, Conor and Lauren for a lovely stay at Chez F), things should begin to settle back to normal...or as normal as it gets around here.

Last week when we visited with Little Man A and family, we had the added honor of serving as courier service for the always wonderful and entertaining Zeze's 5-year scrapbook. You see, Little Man A's talented Mom has taken her amateur status pro and she's doing scrapbooking for others. I was stunned by the beautiful job she did with Zeze's scrapbook. Because Kiki is a strict no photo blogger, I did not scan to share any of the pages, but I was so tempted...the layouts were so creative and the scrapbook is not just an album, but an heirloom.

So A's Mom is open for business and I arrived in time to deliver her next wedding album. Yes folks, in october we will be celebrating our 19th anniversary and we have no wedding album. So, I decided to give her a real challenge. Take 19 year old photos of a 1989 (god the fashion and hairdo horrors) and turn it into a classy scrapbook/keepsake that I will be able to look at without cringing and maybe figure out a way to insert a little style that I obviously did not have at that time (excuse: age 22). Quite a task...but I know A's Mom is up to it. You just have to see her creative work to know it.... like this, and this, and this. Her website is being built and I'll be happy to announce it with fanfare when up and running for business. In the meantime, if you have any interest, visit her blog and leave her a comment here.

As I dug through old cards, love notes, letters, and keepsakes to add to the wedding photos, I was amazed at how time has flown by. I even stumbled onto my senior banquet (high school) program, in which predictions were made for each of the class members. I laughed when I read mine, which said, "Wenderina will still be saying, 'Oh My God! I totally forgot!!" I laughed because I actually believed my memory issues were a recent development (due to the diet pepsi poisoning) AND that I had "totally forgotten" that this was even my class prophecy.

So, I'm back to trying to blog more often, getting crap out of my brain to provide fodder for all of you...and I'm trying to REMEMBER stuff and not live up to my prophecy...and I'm really looking forward to that wedding album...but no pressure for A's Mom...since it has been 19 years already.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Word or Two from Abe and Little Man A

This week my Mom and I took a quick trip to visit with Little Man A and his mom and dad. And they took us to see some sites in nearby D.C.

I've wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial for many years and finally made it happen.

And if you haven't read the Gettysburg Address lately, let me just say, it's worth returning to it. Reading it now it makes a much greater impression than the required reading in middle school.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

After our passage through the Lincoln, Korean, World Wars I and II Memorials, and a quick trip to the Smithsonian, we headed back to Little Man A's place and spent quality time with our dear great-nephew/great-grandson.
Little Man A decided mud-pies would be the best dessert for such a wonderful day.

As always, he was right.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dads and Moms

This weekend I was thinking of my Dad because I was wearing jeans.

Is that a sentence you ever thought you would read?

Well, it's true. I hardly ever wear jeans. I'm usually in dress clothes for work, or in pajamas. There really is very little in between for me. Sometimes I dress up from the P.J.s into sweats. But for the most part, I'm at one end of the spectrum or the other.

But when I have school, I get the jeans out.

Funny though, when I was in school for my undergrad, I sometimes went to class in PJs.

Anyway, the jeans...well...after my Dad passed away, my mom, my sister, my brother and I went through some of his clothes. I selected a handful of sweatshirts or flannels that would be nice to have to cuddle up in once in a while. But what I really love is an old belt of his. This belt is really worn down, and it doesn't have it's loop any longer, but it is wide and black, with a big worn out and scratched silver buckle and it's perfect with my jeans.

It used to hang down in his workshop in the basement. I have no idea why it was there, but that's where I found it. Now it hangs on a hook in my closet, and it's just a little momento that takes me home again.


On Thursday my Mom will be here. After Dad died, we started a tradition - although we didn't know it would become tradition - for her to come for an extended stay in the Spring. We tend to center it around Mother's Day, and I usually put her to work in my garden. Because I HATE gardening, but I love gardens, and she is one MEAN gardener.

This year, I've contracted a landscaper to do all the mulching, edging, and weeding to get us started. Usually this is the backbreaking work my mom does while I'm at the office. But this year we're going to see A's Mom (my niece, Mom's grandaughter) and Little Man A (Mom's great grandson, my great-nephew) for a few days and won't it be nice that all we need to concentrate on is buying and planting some flowers.

I have to admit, I'm usually stressed until she gets here - making sure house is clean, office work is done (so I can take the week off), guest room is prepared, groceries for more than 1 day in advance (frozen pizzas and expired salad dressings do NOT count by the way) etc. etc. You know, all those things we do to make our moms proud of our home-making abilities. But, truth is, I really look forward to this tradition - and the one on one time Mom and I get to have for the week, the way she helps me slow down my pace in one way (office/work) and pick it up in others (getting out of house, yardwork, etc). And the time flies by when she is here. And when we are not being Alpha females and fighting over applesauce (long story), we are really pretty good friends.


I'm sure at least once while she's visiting, I'll break out the jeans, and put on the belt, and the three of us will be together again.


And at the end of her stay, we'll be joined by my favorite brother-in-law and Unc, probably my in-laws, and a maybe even a few friends, and we'll finish off the week with a nice couple of days of food, family, and friends.


Dad would love it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mastery, Maturity, and Mondays

What can someone expect from a graduate program these days? A friend of mine who completed the masters program I'm currently enrolled in told me, "You get from it, what you bring to it." A good philosophy.

This weekend I completed semester #3 in my quest for a Master's degree at Manhattanville College in Purchase NY. This program is staffed by instructors who are extremely knowledgable about their subject matter, but are not teachers by trade. Therefore, the classes are more like an anecdotal history of their job experience than they are a structured educational program.

That being said, by doing the readings (and being aware through the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, NPR, CBS, and other media of ongoing current events) there is a way to develop a new knowledge of a subject matter and use these experts for 30 hours of targeted research assistance.

Through these teachers I've learned about professional association sources, on-line free tools, regulatory databases, career data, public information sources, and other related information I've never been exposed to before.

I've also learned that I'm a better student now than I was when I was 19. I take the assignments seriously, I participate in class, I wouldn't even consider skipping class (or even arriving late!), and I bring more curiosity and interest into the learning process and environment. The one thing I have in common with the 19-year old is the dread of getting up on a Saturday morning and getting to class...but I do it...and I'm there on time.

I had a long conversation with my most recent instructor on Saturday after some of the class had delivered their final project. The assignment was a brief press release for an earnings statement for a public company. We were to select the company and research recent earnings releases, make assumptions for the next reporting quarter, and draft a fictitious press release. Some of the people came to class with a 20-slide powerpoint presentation with history of the company, comparative graphs with other companies in the same industry, inflection point articles, etc.

Impressive, but not what she asked for. And on top of it the press release WAS ALL WRONG. It was painfully obviously that some of these students have little to no business experience because (a) you never deliver more to your boss than they ask you for - they simply don't have time to review a 20 slide presentation if they didn't want it and (b) when you deliver what they asked for, you do it right! They don't need to see that you put in 40 hours of work to get there. The presentation demonstrated that they had done their background work - and is good to show comprehensive use of the tools she taught - but at the end of the day, its the deliverable that counts.

This to me should be the difference between an undergraduate and a graduate experience. Bringing a mature mindset to the class and thinking (especially in a graduate of business program) like a business person.

This morning my teacher sent me an email with my grade - an A. I was feeling pretty good (for a Monday) about how quickly those three semesters have gone by and my 4.0 average, and then I realized that at my current pace (1 class/semester and giving myself summers off) I won't be done until February of 2011 and I'll be 44 years old. Ugh.

Oh well. The way time is flying by it will go fast enough. And my 40+ year old brain can't learn much faster than that pace anyway.

Happy Monday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Me & Amybow & Instant Messenger

Wenderina[10:10 AM]:
Wanna laugh?

Amybow [10:11 AM]:
i love to laugh

Wenderina[10:11 AM]:
Gina got a comment on a slide that said FBSTCHAC.

Amybow [10:11 AM]:

Wenderina [10:11 AM]:
She assumed it was some kind of technical acronym and put it where they had written it.
On the next draft they commented again (in a rather condescending way)
FBSTCHAC does NOT belong on the slide.
It means Fix Background So That Column Headers Are Clear.

Amybow [10:12 AM]:

Wenderina [10:12 AM]:
How could we NOT know that?

Amybow [10:12 AM]:
was this some young, text messaging wippersnapper?

Wenderina [10:12 AM]:
No. Just new to us.

I even Googled it to see if it was some editor's note that we just weren't familiar with. No result.

Amybow [10:12 AM]:
Should we add it to acronym finder?

Wenderina [10:12 AM]:
I should do that.
Too funny.

Amybow[10:12 AM]:
that is really funny.
people are nuts

Amybow [10:14 AM]:

Wenderina [10:14 AM]:

Amybow [10:14 AM]:
enjoy the rest of your day
i figure i can make up acronyms like anyone else

Wenderina[10:14 AM]:
You are the COOLEST

Amybow [10:15 AM]:
you know it

Editor's Note: Another productive work day.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Room with a View

No words necessary.

The New & Improved Wenderina Bathing Suite

OK. As mentioned in my previous post, this wasn't my ideal solution, but I have to is pretty awesome to have a new and improved bathing area. Joy is going to weep She has been scrubbing the old tub and shower so hard to try and make it look clean, even though I kept telling her you can't clean wear and tear.

Here are the AFTER shots I promised. I can barely wait the required 24 hours to get in and try it out!

If you look really closely you can see my reflection! Now that's a novelty in this bathroom!


WFH (Working From Home) is on the board at work for me today. Today I finally get rid of my old decrepit tub and shower. It wasn't exactly perfectly planned. I had hoped to cut all the pretty pictures from magazines over the next year or so, I had planned to pour over all the various ceramic, stone, glass tile possibilities. I had planned to find SOME WAY to get glass block incorporated - just because I love glass block. But all of that planning had to be negated because it started floor below my tub/shower. Not good.

We valiantly attempted to fix it ourselves. Hubby was a trooper. Reading up on tiling on the internet, asking my sister (the epitomy of DIY) for tips, and finally diving in with a putty knife and some new grout. He peeled off the old 1930's subway tiles (or actually he touched them and they fell off) and I helped him trim the old grout off the back and the edges. He carefully stacked them and let the wall dry in preparation. We sponge bathed for a day or two to ensure it was totally dry and then he dove in with the mastik/grout. He smoothed it on like peanut butter like the books said, and stuck the first tile to the wall, gently wiping the excess off. All good. The next tile in the row went up the same, then the next, and the next. Finally it was time to put the last tile for that row in place.

It didn't fit.

W went through the entire stack and none of them seemed to fit. They had come off this wall...wouldn't they go back on? It seemed not. Hubby decided it was a question of pressure and leverage. He carefully pressed the tile into place, pushing and squeezing, patiently trying to get the last edge against the wall. And then, just as the tile flattened against the wall and we experienced a mili-second of triumph, two other tiles in that row fell off. Um. Yeah. I quickly covered the giggle that threatened to explode watching Hubby's face for exploding fury. He didn't explode. He calmly picked up the fallen tiles, scraped them off, and tried again. Slowly and patiently he pressed the last tile in place...and two different tiles fell off. This time it was Hubby who chuckled, allowing me to release my pent up laughter. This is NOT how Norm and the Guys do this stuff on This Old House.

After several attempts and every row of tile completed except for one tile in each row (this problem repeated over 5 rows of tile), we gave up. Hubby went to the store and bought some new tiles - a little shorter - and a little different color (since they aren't like 80 years old) and placed them. Extra grout around the edges helped make up the difference.

It wasn't pretty, but all we wanted was to gain the time we needed to do that planning thing I referred to. We let everything dry and ran the water again.

Within a day, it was raining in the kitchen again.


We attempted to eliminate all other possibilities. Was it coming from a pipe? The drain? The coping around the tub edge? So for the past several weeks, we've been showering amidst plastic wrap, duct tape, and grungy grout droppings. We eliminated plumbing as a part of the problem and returned to recognizing something in the tiling or tub was leaking. It was time to give up and call in the experts.

We knew we didn't have the big bucks for a total bath re-do, so we called Bathfitters and today one lonely guy with a lot of equipment is here to repair? replace? well, re-cover our tub and shower.

Here are some before shots:

None of that cruddy stuff in the tub is dirt by the way. Joy wouldn't allow it. It is simply 80 years of wear and tear. The peeling and shredding wall board above the tub has been repaired by us at least twice since we've lived here...hence our decision to take the bathfitter solution to the ceiling!

After shots will be posted when he's done.

Fingers crossed.