Monday, December 21, 2009

The weeks are flying by here at Chez Casa de Brewgal.

My birthday came and went, and I was visited by the cake fairy.

I LOVE the cake fairy!

The knee walls were cut in the living room. Greg the carpenter made beautiful caps and is supposedly making me my tapered columns in his shop.

The drywall is up.

And we had a bit of snow.

I've given up on Christmas knitting this year. With the packing and the renovating, there was not enough time. The teachers will be getting dark chocolate truffles.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The renovation contines apace.

Here is the view from our foyer, looking toward the living room. Knee walls will be cut here, opening up the space.

Almost there...

Knee walls! Eventually there will be Arts and Crafts style tapered columns on the knee walls. You can see all the way from the living room down into the family room.
You can also see paint test #1. We had the most amazing foyer in our Gettysburg house. It was a square room right off the entryway with two tall windows on one side. The light during the day was just incredible. We painted it a similar color to the test shown above. The room just glowed. Did I save notes on the paint color from Gettysburg? No, of course not. I've been trying to recreate that color ever since.

Because the flooring has been delayed (apparently due to the installation of new milling equipment at the manufacturer), we won't have time to put up a tree. I couldn't stand the thought of no decorations whatsoever, so I made a Christmas corner over the fireplace mantle. I think it fits the bill and it makes me happy to look at it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I intended this to be a long, detailed post describing the reasons I haven't updated my blog in weeks. I have boiled this down to one word:


Facebook is a time-sucker. My updates? Facebook. Knitting photos? Facebook.

Did I mention we refinanced the house and now have enough money to renovate the kitchen? Of course not! I put that on FACEBOOK.

So I am here to apologize to my loyal readers (Hi Mom!) and post some recent photos of the kitchen in progress.

Behold: the disintegrating cabinetry.

This is the primary reason I wanted to fix the kitchen. I fully expected to come home one day and find the cabinets on the floor in pieces.

Funky corner.

It lights up! Bask in its 1970's amber glory!

It didn't take long to rip it out. Not that I personally had anything to do with that.

Now we are in the family room, which serves as dining room, kitchen and living area.

Poptarts and coffee, breakfast of champions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thus unfolds the comedy of errors plaguing my recent trip to New York.

Brewgal realizes she has spent too long drinking coffee and checking her email and now only has 30 minutes to pack before leaving to catch the train.

Brewgal makes the train only to remember she forgot 1) hairbrush, 2) camera and 3) cash. Brewgal vows to prepare earlier for future trips.

Brewgal arrives at Penn Station. She takes nearest stairway and discovers that it goes not to the main level of Penn Station but to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) level. Brewgal cannot figure out how to get to main level but spots an ATM. While attempting to withdraw cash, Brewgal discovers that she has forgotten her PIN number. Cash is not withdrawn at this location.

Brewgal does eventually find her way to 7th Ave. Line for cabs is horrendously long, so she decides to walk. How far can it be?

Brewgal realizes she has forgotten how far it is to the W New York (49th and Lexington) from Penn Station (32nd and 7th). She makes the mistake of cutting across on 45th street, which is filled with patrons awaiting entrance to theatre matinees. Brewgal is forced to drag her suitcase along in the street and prays that she is not struck by a car/truck/bus/taxi.

Brewgal survives 45th street, only to be stopped at 5th Avenue by a parade of unknown origin. Apparently it is Pulaski Day. The only Pulaski Brewgal knows is the chief medical officer on the Enterprise.

Brewgal finally makes it to her hotel. Lexington Ave is closed for a street fair, at which she obtains chicken satay and a Pashima. Life is good.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I've decided I just can't have too many of these on hand. Yet another woman in my office is expecting a baby in the spring.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Thursday was Octoberfest day in the cafeteria. The offerings included bratwurst with sauerkraut, brisket with horseradish sauce, brussels sprouts with bacon, and curried potatoes with jalapenos. Correct me if I’m wrong, but jalapenos are not native to Germany. Perhaps this was the Nouvelle Cuisine version of Octoberfest. They should have named the dish Nuevo Potato. And where was the spicy mustard? Brats without mustard just don’t cut it for me.

Get it? Mustard? Cut? I crack myself up.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Harris Park, near Milton-Freewater Oregon.

Never have I visited a park with SO MANY WARNING SIGNS. It's as if the park was visited by a team of FTC Disclaimer Ninjas.

Ok, this one is probably useful.

Even the water is dangerous.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Freak Out

We had out driveway resurfaced on saturday. It smells really bad, but looks great. As a result, we've had to park the cars on the street while it "cured." This makes me a little nervous, because I really like my car and I don't want it to get smashed or broken into.

The caution tape came off the driveway today, so I had planned to move the car into the driveway later in the day.

Fast forward to later.

I look outside, and no car.

No friggin' car.

I wrack my brain- what happened to my car? Did it get towed? Did I inadvertently park too close to the fire hydrant across the street? I didn't think there was a rule about that, but you never know. Horror of horrors, did someone *steal* it?

I call Brewguy in a panic. I get that stupid, "your call cannot be completed as dialed," message.

I dig out my cellphone and try again. No answer at Brewguy's office. I call his cell.

"Hi. The car's gone."
"The car's gone. It's not there."
"What do you mean, it's not there?"
"It is not on the street. It's not there!" Now my voice is getting high and squeaky and I am totally panicking.
"It's not on the street? Did you look in the carport?"

This is akin to asking, "is it plugged in?"

My car is in the carport. Brewguy had helpfully moved it this morning because he was afraid it would get damaged on the street. He had apparently told me this as he was leaving at a time when I was on a teleconference for work. I guess I didn't hear him.

Whew. That was fun.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Say what?

Why I am going deaf.

Next year I will bring earplugs.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We now rejoin Lincoln Street Knitting already in progress.

I've been busy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Three is a magic number

As regular readers know (or have figured out), I grew up during the '70's. I spent my Saturday mornings in front of the TV watching Super Friends, Isis, Scooby Doo and all sorts of other cartoons.

Isis was my favorite. She dressed like an Egyptian version of Wonder Woman. I loved Wonder Woman too. I desperately wanted a tiara and bracelets that could repel bullets.

I was also taking piano lessons at the time. They were scheduled right in the middle of Isis. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being called out of the most exciting part of the TV show to have to take a piano lesson because if you missed it, you'd have to wait and entire season for them to repeat it and having your little brother tell you what happened was never the same because he always left out the really important stuff like those thoughtful, meaningful looks Isis would get when she found out something really deep about her past, or the amulet, etc.

Thank goodness for the invention of the DVR.

In between all this was Schoolhouse Rock. What a brilliant move, hiding education amongst the Saturday morning cartoons. Schoolhouse Rock taught me the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, how a bill becomes a law, and that three is a magic number.

Where was I? Oh yes. Let's review.

  1. Dishwasher fails (replaced with new one. Pretty!).

  2. Brewguy's car is smushed (construction foreman backed his truck into Brewguy's car. $2,200).

  3. I contracted an urinary tract infection (pain in the girly parts. Ow!).

They say that bad things come in sets of three. Why only bad stuff? Why don't GOOD things come in sets of three? Is it because we attach more weight to bad, distinctive events and as a result they are more memorable than good events?

There's a psychology theory for this but I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

Let's give it a try. Three good things... Long term good things like having a job, a healthy family, and a nice house don't count. Well, they COUNT, just not for the purposes of this exercise.

  1. I found some great vintage jewelry at the thrift store on Friday.
  2. Ciprofloxacin is still effective against UTI.
  3. IKEA has free breakfast today!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Mr. Brewguy is a handy fellow. Our front storm door needed to be replaced. The handle mechanism had become so contrary that it was impossible to open the door without two hands and a strong kick. Bad for fire safety. So off it came.

Brewguy painting the door jamb, inter alia.

And the shiny new door, installed!

Brewguy was then briefly possessed by the spirit of the Beverly Hillbillies.

It appears the new front door has made the dishwasher mad. It is no longer performing its primary function; that is, it is not washing the dishes. I can hear it now. It sounds like a wheezy merry-go-round. Brewguy has been doing some tests (running the diswasher, opening mid-cycle to look for water) and has determined that there is little to no water getting through. So the dishes are not being "cleaned" so much as babysat.

So here is the status of our kitchen:

Dishwasher: dead

Stove: one burner not working. Brewguy had to rewire the burners so that the front burner works using the control for the back burner, so to turn on the front burner you have to use the knob for the back burner. What fun.

Cabinets: sagging.

The dilemma is I really, really would like to redo the whole kitchen at once rather than replacing appliances piecemeal. New cabinets. Recycled wood flooring. Patch and paint the wall where the china cabinet of death used to hang.

But the cost of doing this is out of our range. The money just isn't there. I'm doing my best to get a promotion to the next GS level, but that is a long, hard process that involves rewriting the position description for my job. There are no raises coming the way of Mr. Brewguy, either. We hope he has a job in 6 months, much less more money. So I am stuck with a kitchen in which the appliances are dying, one by one, and cabinets that are losing the battle with entropy.

I will instead count my blessings.

And knit like I know how to make a gauge swatch.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Change is good?

The climate is changing and I have nothing to wear!

I’m so confused.



Winter again.

I suppose that is the definition of climate change. It changes. A lot.

I’ve just returned from a quick trip to New York City, where I gave a presentation and participated in a panel discussion. This particular conference is always held at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square. It is a very nice hotel. I have found that I take photos of the same features every single time.

The elevators.

The view from my room.

The Peruvian flute players on Times Square.

This time I tried to branch out a bit.

I had a few free hours the afternoon I arrived so I got out of the hotel with the plan of walking around the city. I made it two blocks before I started to lose the feeling in my hands. Damn, it was cold! With cold wind! Ow!

I found the New York Times.

I discovered 8th Avenue is much easier to walk than 7th Avenue.

I learned that Dean & DeLuca has uneven service and should invest more in training its employees. They were good around lunchtime but laughably poor after 4pm. To wit:

The scene: one server helping create a salad for a patron. Someone who appears to be the manager, supervising two other servers, who are guarding the cash registers. A cleaner is sweeping the rug runner Brewgal is standing on. Brewgal moves off the rug at his urging. He sweeps very, very slowly. Finally the manager type shoos him off, where he takes up residence behind the counter.

Brewgal [after waiting for 5 minutes to get someone to notice her]: Can YOU take my order? [Brewgal has to catch a train in 30 minutes and is somewhat short on time.]

Sweeper: No. You’ll have to wait for her (motioning to the salad server, who is now ringing up the other patron).

Other server wanders over: Can I take your order?

Brewgal: I’d like a pastrami panini.

Server: A what?

Brewgal: A pastrami panini (pointing to large menu behind the server on which the sandwhich is clearly written).

Server: Ok. What kind of bread do you want.

Brewgal: Rye. It says it comes on rye.

The server locates and puts on a pair of latex gloves. Then he starts fondling the few remaining pieces of bread in the bread basket on the counter. After determining that these pieces are too stale to use, he retrieves a new loaf of rye from under the counter.

Server: Do you want regular mustard or brown mustard?

Brewgal: Which is spicier?

Server: The regular mustard.

Brewgal: I’ll have the regular mustard.

Server: We’re out of regular.

Brewgal (mouth slightly agape): Why did you ask me to choose if you were out of one of the choices?

Server: That’s why I asked you if you wanted brown mustard. Is brown ok?

Brewgal: Sure.

The server gets a bottle of brown mustard from under the counter and begins coating the bread with brown mustard. Brewgal starts to have doubts about the ability of this particular server to correctly make a pastrami panini, given that he is treating it as a regular pastrami sandwich, rather than a hot squished sandwich. This doubt is confirmed when, after searching under the counter (the apparent source of all things sandwich, sort of like a sandwich Tardis), he announces,

Server: We’re out of pastrami.

At this point I threw up my hands and said, “I have to go.”

I was forced to get a supreme burrito at Taco Bell for dinner.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Haiku for changing weather

Winter, you're still here.
Daffodils are poking through,
I thought you had gone.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I had an upper GI endoscopy this week. I’ve been having problems with heartburn that was waking me up at night. I started with the OTC stuff (Maalox, Tums, Prilosec), and sleeping upright in bed. I cut way back on coffee and wine (sob). After about a week of that I decided that sleeping in a sitting position because of heartburn was probably a sign that something was wrong. Body to Brewgal: HINT! I’M HINTING HERE! So I went to my doctor, who gave me a sample of Prevacid. Night and day. After about three days I was no longer having pain or waking up. However, when the sample ran out, the heartburn came back. In a big way. Pain in the stomach and across my chest. Ow ow ow. The kind of pain that makes you think, should I be going to the hospital right now? Back to the doctor, who referred me to a GI specialist.

The endoscopy was to check for malignancies and other problems such as Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s is a condition that occurs when the cells of the esophagus change as a result of long term exposure to acid from the stomach. When the doctor described the procedure to me in the office, he showed me vivid pictures of the path the camera would take, down my throat and into the lower part of my intestines. I expressed some (ok, a lot) of trepidation. No problem, he said, you’ll be asleep for the procedure.

I want to believe doctors when they say things like that. I also want to believe dentists when they say things such as, “I’ll be comfortable,” and “let me know if this hurts.”

Imagine my surprise when I got home and started reading the pre-op material. “You’ll be given a sedative to relax you,” the document said, “and the doctor will spray a numbing agent in your throat to suppress your gag reflex.”

Where was the sleeping part? I want the sleeping part! I don’t want to be awake while a lighted scope is shoved down into my stomach!

When I arrived for my appointment I pointed this out to the receptionist who said, “Hey, I’ve never seen that part before.” Not good. Not good at all. She assured me that whatever the pre-op materials said, the anesthesiologist used Propofol and I would be asleep.

Then there is the waiting. First, the waiting room. Reading year-old magazines in the waiting room does nothing to take one’s mind off the fact that you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for 12 hours. Then, the pre-op area waiting. You’re hooked up to an IV, a blood-pressure cuff and a temperature/O2 finger sensor. The best part? The rest of the pre-op room was filled with patients awaiting colonoscopies farting their heads off. I felt like I was surrounded with whoopee cushions.

I got a brief visit from the nurse, the anesthesiologist and my physician. Then they wheeled me into the operating room. I was asked to turn on my left side, a big pillow was shoved under my back, and a plastic insert was placed in my mouth to prevent me from biting the camera. Because we all know if I was awake, I would have chewed right through that camera. So here I am, laying on one side, a plastic insert in my mouth, staring straight at the TV screen that is hooked up to the camera, and I’m thinking, “um, I’m still awake here.” I can hear the anesthesiologist behind me saying, “I’m introducing the anesthesia now,” and I start staring at the TV screen thinking to myself, “maybe if I keep looking at the screen they’ll see I’m still awake, because if I’m…”


I’m dreaming I’m on the couch watching TV and I wake up in recovery where I get two very cute little cans of apple juice and some animal crackers. Aside from 10 minutes of coughing, I have no ill effects. My physician stops by to tell me I have mild gastritis and a small hiatal hernia, which is probably the cause of the acid reflux. The big bummer is being told I can’t have any alcohol for 24 hours, because I think having a nice glass of wine is good post-op therapy. Brewguy drives me home where I go back to work because I am a crazy person.

I have to say everyone at the endoscopy center was very kind and reassuring. As outpatient procedures go, this was remarkably easy.
Just think, in seven years I get to go back for my very own colonoscopy!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

102.6, 102.8, 101.7, 103.

My favorite radio stations? Why no! That is a record of my temperature last week. I got up on Sunday, had half a cup of coffee and went straight back to bed. For three days. My doctor diagnosed a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics (thank you, Alexander Fleming!). It tastes vile but it really works.

I am dreading the amount of email I will face on Monday, including all those helpful "Your email account is almost full" messages.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Week in Review

Sunday: Brewgal has a bad chest cold accompanied by some sort of eye infection. One eye is extremely bloodshot and emitting all sorts of icky goo. Brewgal considers wearing an eye patch and watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” for inspiration.

Brewgal attempts to watch the AFC playoff game but is greeted by this:

DirectTV shall pay. Oh yes, it shall.

Monday: Little Brewer #2 wakes up, announces it is Martin Luther King’s birthday and asks if he can have candy. Ha ha, isn’t that sweet, no. We receive the first measurable snow of the winter. The Little Brewers shovel our driveway, the driveway next door, and the driveway two doors down. In true neighborly fashion, they refuse to be paid. Brewgal dispenses extra hugs, hot chocolate and fresh banana bread.

Tuesday: At 8 a.m. the local news channels are giddily reporting on the inauguration. Everything on the mall is full! No one can get in! Look at all these people! The red line of the Metro has shut down because someone was hit by a train! (later proved false) It’s freezing down here! Brewguy goes off to shoot photos of inauguration travelers on a MARC platform. Brewgal and the Little Brewers watch our new president being sworn in from the comfort of the living room. She surprises herself by breaking into spontaneous applause at the conclusion of the oath of office. The Little Brewers are bored and ask if they can go watch cartoons. Brewgal stands firm and makes them listen to the speech, too.

Brewgal is glad that her father decided against dressing up as Lincoln and going downtown. In his fantasy, he is whisked by the Secret Service to the White House where he greets the new president, dispenses Lincoln-like advice, and is asked to stay for tea. In reality, he would have been whisked to DC jail where tea is not served.

Afterwards we drive to the store in search of a celebratory champagne split. Finding only Kordel, Brewgal settles on a couple of bottles of good red wine. While in the store, Brewgal notices that her boots feel weird, as if the store floor is very bouncy. Upon arriving home, she discovers that her boots are feeling poorly.

Brewgal concludes it may be time for new winter boots.

Wednesday evening, 6:30 p.m. Brewgal arrives home to find her street full of water. A cute little spring has erupted in the center of the road, no doubt from a burst water main underneath. WSSC is called by Brewguy, who puts him on hold for half an hour. During the wait, he receives a news page alert that there is a water main break in Gaithersburg. Brewgal surmises that WSSC is rather busy at the moment and contemplates going to work without a shower.

9:30 p.m. Three WSSC trucks arrive to inspect the damage.

10:10 p.m. The jackhammering of the street begins.

Thursday, 5:38 a.m. Water is restored to the house. The noise is loud enough to wake Brewgal through earplugs. Two of the three WSSC trucks leave.

6:46 a.m. The street is still blocked while asphalt is being laid.

At work, Brewgal discovers the reason her government credit card bill has not been paid is because the government reimbursed the old credit card company, rather than the new credit card company. This despite the fact that Brewgal received no less than SEVEN emails (with exclamation points and flags) warning her not to use the old credit card because the agency was switching to the new card. Yet another example of how going on official travel is punishment.

Friday: Fatigue sets in. Brewgal does not remember Friday.

Saturday: The Little Brewers discover Club Penguin. Brewgal realizes she will now have to share the laptop with three people and despairs of ever using the laptop again.

Brewgal is nearly finished with her latest Baby Surprise Jacket. She tried something different this time, knitting in stockinette rather than garter stitch.

Brewgal forgot that stockinette rolls really bad. Brewgal promises never to mess with EZ again

Monday, January 12, 2009

Home, Home on the Range

Where the deer and the antelope play...

Where seldom is heard,

A discouraging word,

And the azeleas don't bloom in the spring because the damn deer eat the buds during the winter.
Happy New Year everyone!