Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Club House And The Slug

I finally got around to speaking to John, aka, "the slug".
He finished the job, just 6 months after beginning what should have been 2-3 weeks of full time work. S-L-U-G.
He was finally motivated to come and finish 2 days before Xmas so that he could get paid and have some money to spend. But I was in no hurry, and actually quite busy with work and holiday preparations to deal with him. So I put him off a few days, despite his daily phone messages. He caught me by surprise one morning and I answered my phone before looking to see who it was. I promised I'd do the walk-through and get back to him. I'd asked him how much I owed him, having a sort of ball park idea with the notes I'd kept for myself. He said $1400. Oh.
Well, I knew that I had given him a total of $750 so far, subtract that from $1400 and we have $650. I left a message that he could pick up the check and be done with it. I don't want that man coming to my home anymore.
But I was wrong.
Apparently, he had the understanding (nothing was ever written down) that I was to pay him $3000 LABOR and materials would be extra. When he and my brother-in-law quoted that I thought it was labor AND materials. Most of the materials were free (left overs from construction jobs my brother-in-law did), so as that was received I figured "Yay, less money I have to pay of the $3000 I thought this project was going to cost."
Now John says I owe $1400. Well, I'm not prepared to write that check. I don't have it. And, besides, I don't think he deserves full pay for a job that took TOO long to do. I had ideas of my son being able to play there during the summer that he was six years old (and longer). We won't ever get back the summer he was six. And really, how long will he want to play in a clubhouse anyway? I wanted to take advantage of the short time he would revel in such a cool thing. How much does a missed summer cost? There's no price. It's price-less. But the Slug doesn't care too much about that.
I spoke with my brother-in-law today and he says he remembers the conversation on the quote at being $3000 for labor only. That day I gave my B-I-L $400 for materials and agreed to get the job started. I'm not sure where that $400 went, but John says he saw half of it. I suppose, even though the materials were free, I'm expected to pay for the privilege of getting freebies through my connection to him, so I won't argue that. But the $200 to John--I can argue that. He did supply some paint, but I'm pretty sure that didn't come to $200. Or maybe it did. Shit. I hate this. It's giving me a belly ache.
Now I have to argue with John and come to an agreement that neither of us will like.
I think, I'll concede to $1000-1200 and pay him in 2 installments. But I'd rather send it in the mail. Like I said, I don't want him coming 'round any more. He did decent work, but it took TOO long. And there's something about him that feels slimey. Overall, not a good feeling. But he was a friend of my B-I-L's so I went with it.
Lesson learned.
Let's move on.

Xmas Eve Celebration

Our Santa time is always December 24 eve. I think it was that way in my mom's home when she was a child, or she perhaps made the tradition herself, being a night owl and NOT a morning person. I always felt lucky that Santa, being SO busy that one night made concessions with just our family to stop by our house early so that we could get our presents sooner and not have to wait fitfully through the night, excited as all get-out, and then try to coax our parents out of their bed at the crack of dawn to open the presents. Plus, I look much better in the evening, having cleared up any puffiness and smeared mascara by then. For kids: Any child excited and happy--no such thing as a bad picture.

It was a lovely evening! Whew! I had a few palpitations before the event, given all the fights that happened last year and Dad's thoughts on trying "to get to the bottom of what really happened" last year. But no. No dredging up old crap.
Just my siblings, their families, with my parents hosting our traditional gathering on the eve of the 24th of December. I was the last to arrive, since I worked that day, but I didn't miss too much. A wonderful meal of Bami Goreng (an Indonesian noodle dish--our tradition) with croek poek (shrimp chips) was enjoyed by all and then we settled in to wait for that magic booming knock on the door when Santa would bring presents to the entry.
It was all carefully planned and then almost blown.
Mom asked my sister to make sure all the kids stayed in the family room while she heaved all the wrapped gifts to the front porch. But D went to the bathroom and left "her post" which allowed my much-too-excited-to-sit-still son to peek through the glass of the front door. He said, "Hey, there are presents outside!! Look!!"
Ai, yai, yai. Mom quickly corralled them back into the family room to pay more attention to Frosty the Snowman movie and "be good." Then she stealthily chased outside, banged on the front door and ran back towards the back door to be part of the surprised crowd in awe of what Santa had delivered (not bad for a woman with painful arthritis, I say. And why didn't dad or my brother do it?? Or any other adult with good joints? Sheesh.) But whatever. The kids were super excited and we all brought in the gifts, placed them around the tree and found a chair around the perimeter of the room to partake in the fun of opening presents. I'm usually the one that hands them out, one or two at a time so we all have the chance to ooooh and aaaaah over each one and check out the special smiles when it's something that person was so hoping to receive. T was out of his skin with glee. He wanted to help me, by reading the names and then giving the gifts. Easy enough, but he wasn't so good at balancing it out so that all family members got a chance from time to time, instead of 3 or 4 in a row for one person. But in the end it worked out just great. I always try to have the 2 youngest kids open the last gifts--and that's what worked out. Everyone was happy. Actually some were a little TOO happy. This year, Grammy came (my sister's mother-in-law who lives with them). It was lovely to have her, but boy does she like her wine! And this night, she managed to finish off a whole bottle on her own. Yikes. I think she's used to drinking a glass or two of boxed wine, but maybe she thought the bottle would go to waste if she didn't finish it. All the other drinkers (and yes, even the alcoholics in the family--there are two that I'm aware of, were drinking) were mixing vodka and cranberry juice, so they didn't help with wine drinking. See why I was so nervous? A powder keg potential, I tell ya.
Oh. I guess I answered my own question on why someone with healthy joints didn't play Santa this year. Alcohol in tiny amounts is good, but beyond that it makes for drunks. And some were clearly beyond.
The photo books for my nieces were a big hit. Yay! I was so proud that they loved them. Someone said that with that gift I'd solidified my place as "Aunt-extraordinaire". I'm cool with that.
T's big present was a Wii. He didn't really know what it was in the white box, so for the moment he was SUPER jazzed with the baseball gloves that he got, which he calls "tether ball gloves". And they really work great to hitting the ball harder so that his fists don't feel the impact. Now he'll win against the 3rd graders for sure! Those gloves look pretty fancy, so I'm wondering how long he'll have them if he takes them to school. There are sticky fingers at school, in more ways than one. (Once the Wii was set up the next day, he was hooked, and the tether ball gloves will have to wait their turn).
My big gift was a starter kit for mineral based make-up. I'd been suckered in with an in-store demo and so I thought I'd give it a try. My skin needs more help these days. Darn those sun spots and broken capillaries. Hopefully I'll be able to work the same magic with those brushes that the salesgirl did in the store.
After all the presents were unwrapped, Granny was no longer able to put a coherent sentence together and then slipped down a few steps as she tried to maneuver walking down the stairs. Shortly, she was guided into the back seat of the truck to go home, without her shoes. But I found them just before they left and handed them through the car window to an oblivious Granny.
Everyone left happy. Some too happy. No fights. Just family. Together.
And I took in a big breath and let it out slow, with a big hug for my overjoyed boy.
Mom pulled off yet another wonderful day of memories. Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Coming Soon...

It's been such a busy month!
I've been keeping up with most of my obligations, but juuuust keeping my nose above the waterline, so to speak.
T is in childcare for 2 days this week (the school is out for winter break for 2 weeks), and 2 days next week. He complained about going, but at the end of the day yesterday he was a happy boy. Apparently the 5 year old that bugs him wasn't there. And he gleefully gave me some ornaments made of paper and glitter and popsicle sticks that he'd made just for me. I love being the receiver of these priceless works of art.
For the holiday: I've bought the gifts I needed to do, helped out my mom with her Santa shopping (while trying to remind her most of us are adults and really don't NEED gifts). She just can't be reigned in. It's a time of year she revels in and even though she had done ZERO shopping until last week (due to her car being out for nearly a month) she still managed to get too many things for each of us. Some of my siblings, although fully grown, are still quite immature in their expectations on what "Santa" should bring. Always will be, I expect. Especially when Mom keeps doing it up the way she does, every year.
I work all week this week, except for Christmas. Today, after work, I have to jam to get T from daycare, zip home, bake brownies, divide 'em up and make pretty plates for a few of my neighbors (excluding the jerk across the street--although I thought about overcoming my anger and include them. But... No. Not doing it.) Then bringing all the gifts I wrapped to my parents and hiding them until Santa will be arriving, while keeping some behind around our tree to be found when we arrive back home. We'll be staying the night at my parents, like we usually do. The tradition that has evolved is that we find a few more gifts that Santa has left at our home under the tree and open it up on the morning of the 25th.
Then, the 26th is Mom's birthday and we have plans to take her out with a train trip to SF and see the holiday lights and bustle there. We've done that the last 5 or so years and she loves it. Dad has never come. We kind of don't invite him, although we actually have made it possible a few times for him to come too, but he declines (and Mom is quite tickled about that--it ends up being a stressful day if Dad comes. He's just a stress-tab, more and more as he ages.) Mom needs some peace (and that usually includes time away from Dad) and we try to give her that on her birthday. And a cream puff. GOT to have a cream puff from Beard Papa's. Man! If you have the chance to try one--get the eclair with vanilla custard. Yum-my!
The Playhouse in the backyard is finally finished! The slug came by a few days ago (unannounced, out the blue after a long hiatus) and finished up. He called me as I was waiting for another call, so I cut him short. He called again yesterday and left a message about how I was supposed to do a "walk through and then pay him, hopefully before the holiday." Well, I just don't feel like being in any kind of hurry--given he took SIX MONTHS to do a 2-3 week job. I have NO idea how much money he'll want, but I don't' think it should be much. I've already paid him quite a sum. We shall see...once I get around to speaking to him.
The rest of the backyard is a muddy mess. I won't be able to get the tether ball pole up by the end of the year. It's just too wet and yucky. But Dad did make a nice 9 x 12 foot planter box, so I can start shoveling dirt into it and get some things going. But the rain and mud make it impossible right now. It will happen by Spring or before, I hope.
My computer is on its last legs. I got a message from it recently that said there was very little space on the virtual memory or something like that. That makes me nervous. So I don't want to upload anything to upset the whole thing. I need to make CDs of all the information I have stored and all the pictures (I've just put all my pictures on Shutterfly, in case some virus attacked my files or something horrible like that) but I really should make my own CDs for safe storage and access. Speaking of Shutterfly...those photo books I created for my nieces turned out SO nice. I'm quite proud of them. I hope my nieces like them too. While I was at it, I made a nice calender featuring my favorite subject: T. I called it: T Being Five and Six Years Old. I made a copy for us, my parents and my cousin in Holland (who has always had a special bond with me). I feel quite confident now with my new skills (and the countless hours I spent on those books!) and may offer up my time and energy to create a yearbook for T's first grade class. One of the parents made one for the kinder year and it's one of T's favorite books to look through. If someone doesn't come up with the idea before I offer, I'm definitely going to do it. The class has a yahoo group and so far parents have been posting their pictures up of the field trips and various events at school. It should be easy with all that material compiled in one place.
I'll be shopping for a new computer in the new year. Probably another PC, since that's all I know. I hear Macs are user friendly, but I'm chicken to step out of my PC comfort zone.
I hope you all have had/will have a lovely Christmukkah!
God Bless you all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Visit With Santa

When visiting Santa recently we accidentally went on "Santa Paws" night and no kids were allowed--only pets.
Thanks to some generous pet owners we didn't leave disappointed and even had a much cuter pose with Santa and some one's canine "child". Fortunately, T has suddenly stopped panicking around dogs and anything with a potential to nip or bite him. Whew! If this change of heart is really cured, maybe we can get a doggie of our own. T is already asking....

This year, T is asking Santa for Apples to Apples game and also "tether ball gloves". They can't be found in any sporting goods store, as my mom found out. They are just regular knitted gloves so that T can hit the ball harder without hurting his knuckles. He's what's called a "hard ball" on the school tether ball court, he said proudly--and with gloves he can hit the ball even better!
The backyard is still a mud pit, but I did get the tether ball set and it's hidden in the garage until I get it cemented in place in the yard. Hopefully by Xmas...

Knock, knock....

Who's there?
Olive who?
Olive that you came for a visit at my humble blog!

OK, I made that one up, but for really cute jokes, visit this site I found.

Here is a great site for knock-knock jokes. It's easy to memorize a few and spring them on your friends, or your kids and their friends! Instant smiles for everyone.