Monday, December 31, 2007

Christine's Laws of the Universe

I was thinking the other day about what I would present if, say, I was creating a presidential platform or, say, I was controlling the universe. Here is a start to that list:


1.) I don't know why this comes to mind right now, but I would outlaw work for all non-essential personnel (which, let's face it, most people aren't and even those who are considered essential aren't really) between December 23 and January 2. As another rider to this law, I would make it illegal for any work to be due between December 15 and January 30.


I wish I could remember all the good ones I was thinking, probably as I was driving, but if you are at work today and reading this, I'm sure this first one hits home.

Christine's Laws of the Universe

I was thinking the other day about what I would present if, say, I was creating a presidential platform or, say, I was controlling the universe. Here is a start to that list:


1.) I don't know why this comes to mind right now, but I would outlaw work for all non-essential personnel (which, let's face it, most people aren't and even those who are considered essential aren't really) between December 23 and January 2. As another rider to this law, I would make it illegal for any work to be due between December 15 and January 30.


I wish I could remember all the good ones I was thinking, probably as I was driving, but if you are at work today and reading this, I'm sure this first one hits home.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas 2007: Cousins' Dinner

Jennifer started an excellent new tradition last year: getting all of our cousins together for a dinner. It's great to get together separate from our parents, because, well, let's just say, the Jencos are "vocally gifted," and it can often be difficult to get a word in edgewise.


We gathered last night at Woody's, a fine Italian establishment in Versailles, PA (that's pronounced Ver-SAILs, by the way, not to be confused with the French country retreat). I had some gnocchi, which though not in competition with that of my grandpap, was still very good. A few of us induldged in some fine Elmo Pio Chianti and chatted about what's been going on. Here are some  photo highlights!


Pc230058small


Cousins (and Alex) tucking into their meal


Pc230059small


Lauren giving a glamor pose with Kelly in the background. And, some curious fellow diners behind her.


Pc230060small


Leigh, with a fantastic plate of homemade spaghetti & a meatball.


Pc230062small


Leigh and Stephanie


Pc230061small


Lauren, me, and Jennifer


Pc230063small


My bro and Justin


Pc230064small


Kevin & Kathryn


Pc230066small


Part of the decor. It's been around for years. (Lauren said when she was little, she thought he was "Woody." :) )


All yunz have a Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2007: Cousins' Dinner

Jennifer started an excellent new tradition last year: getting all of our cousins together for a dinner. It's great to get together separate from our parents, because, well, let's just say, the Jencos are "vocally gifted," and it can often be difficult to get a word in edgewise.


We gathered last night at Woody's, a fine Italian establishment in Versailles, PA (that's pronounced Ver-SAILs, by the way, not to be confused with the French country retreat). I had some gnocchi, which though not in competition with that of my grandpap, was still very good. A few of us induldged in some fine Elmo Pio Chianti and chatted about what's been going on. Here are some  photo highlights!


Pc230058small


Cousins (and Alex) tucking into their meal


Pc230059small


Lauren giving a glamor pose with Kelly in the background. And, some curious fellow diners behind her.


Pc230060small


Leigh, with a fantastic plate of homemade spaghetti & a meatball.


Pc230062small


Leigh and Stephanie


Pc230061small


Lauren, me, and Jennifer


Pc230063small


My bro and Justin


Pc230064small


Kevin & Kathryn


Pc230066small


Part of the decor. It's been around for years. (Lauren said when she was little, she thought he was "Woody." :) )


All yunz have a Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2007: My Tree

Since I didn't share much of my apartment decor for the season, here's my "some might call it pathetic" faux tree. It was made in Thailand and looks very little like a real tree. I bought it about 9 or 10 years ago at Pool City, Pittsburgh's finest faux tree resource. You can't really see it, but I have many meaningful decorations on it, including crocheted lace snowflakes that belonged to "Grandma Tillie," my grandpap's third wife. I remember these from their little tree they would put up in their apartment. Now, I'm putting it on mine! I also have several crocheted and plastic needlepoint decorations that Catherine made. She was like a grandma to me and my brother and always kept us supplied with crafty things. We would go to her apartment every Christmas Eve day to exchange gifts, and we think of her every Christmas Eve.


Other special decorations of note are a blown glass bulb I bought in Prague when I was traveling in college, a glass pickle I got at Macy's in NYC when I was interviewing there in college, a handmade wooden decoration with a quote from St. Francis that I bought in Assisi, and a cheap plastic Empire State building that I got last year when Erin and I took the Greyhound for a daytrip to "Christmas shop" in New York. (We didn't really shop...we shuffled around from place to place in the crowds and laughed at how expensive stuff was in Saks). It was easily the coldest day in December and we went to the top of a skyscraper. 'Nuf said. Anyway, I have other ones that are also meaningful. That's why I love decorating my tree--I can resurrect memories every year!   


Pc220053small

Christmas 2007: My Tree

Since I didn't share much of my apartment decor for the season, here's my "some might call it pathetic" faux tree. It was made in Thailand and looks very little like a real tree. I bought it about 9 or 10 years ago at Pool City, Pittsburgh's finest faux tree resource. You can't really see it, but I have many meaningful decorations on it, including crocheted lace snowflakes that belonged to "Grandma Tillie," my grandpap's third wife. I remember these from their little tree they would put up in their apartment. Now, I'm putting it on mine! I also have several crocheted and plastic needlepoint decorations that Catherine made. She was like a grandma to me and my brother and always kept us supplied with crafty things. We would go to her apartment every Christmas Eve day to exchange gifts, and we think of her every Christmas Eve.


Other special decorations of note are a blown glass bulb I bought in Prague when I was traveling in college, a glass pickle I got at Macy's in NYC when I was interviewing there in college, a handmade wooden decoration with a quote from St. Francis that I bought in Assisi, and a cheap plastic Empire State building that I got last year when Erin and I took the Greyhound for a daytrip to "Christmas shop" in New York. (We didn't really shop...we shuffled around from place to place in the crowds and laughed at how expensive stuff was in Saks). It was easily the coldest day in December and we went to the top of a skyscraper. 'Nuf said. Anyway, I have other ones that are also meaningful. That's why I love decorating my tree--I can resurrect memories every year!   


Pc220053small

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm Sure This Will Be Gratifying At Some Point

I am not an extremely patient person. This is NOT an asset with DIY projects. Especially, you know, when you have that thing called "a job" that keeps getting in the way. I did another halfhearted attempt today at removing the rest of the stripper. It's not supposed to be on this long. Needless to say, my impatience to get started is costing me. I'm going to have to reapply some of the stripper...and will probably have to buy the special remover. Sigh. But, like any good but lazy DIYer, I bought more materials at Home Depot this weekend.


Paint


On the right, there's the stain that will eventually get put on said piece of furniture. On the left are materials for ANOTHER project...painting my Ikea dressers. I did not select a shade; I let it select me. I got the quart of paint from the "oops" shelf. It's a grey satin called Creek Bend. Hopefully it will look good. I did have to pony up for the primer. If you can't do it right, don't do it! Yeah, right...as if. More like hurry up and slap it on in an attempt to do it quickly and then be gravely disappointed!

Commuter Sentences: Walk Away The Pounds

As I stood shivering waiting for the bus after work (note to self: remember hat and scarf), I struck up a conversation with another waiting passenger. Or, rather, he struck it up with me. I have no reason NOT to believe him, though it seems rather incredible. Apparently, last year, he was a size 9x, had a 60 inch waist, and weighed 550 lbs. Now, he weighs 190 and walks, get this, 22 miles a day! Starting at 5:30, he walks up the Potomac to Great Falls every day, except for Wednesdays when he climbs the Monument steps. The trip takes him 3 hours. The first time he did it, it took him 18 hours. He has several seniors ranging up to 91 years old who he makes walk 1 mile each day (I didn't get into where these seniors are or how he makes them walk). He said he hasn't changed his diet at all. "It's not what you put in your mouth, it's what you do with it once it's there. Look at the bus drivers. They eat and it all just sits and they're all wide down the bottom." Once a month, in fact, he eats a dozen doughnuts, and he has an enormous breakfast each day. This whole story pointed to the fact that the only person who can change one's life is oneself. He said as much. He also said he has walked to 17th Street NE before the bus arrived there. I DEFINITELY believe that!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Commuter Sentences: Love Thy Neighbor

On the way to work this morning (okay, I'm blogging at work, but give me a break, it's lunchtime), I decided to walk to the metro, given that I skipped the gym. So, I walked past my homeless friend near Union Station who said "2 more days to the weekend--think positive!" I love him. I have the feeling many people do, because yesterday he had a pot of hot coffee there with him.


Well, on the metro, I went to sit down and had this guy rushing from the other end of the train to sit where I was sitting (2 seats available). I mean, he REALLY wanted that seat. As I watched him write a list on his daily planner pad, I was formulating ideas about what he was about. I was confidant that if he were a character in a made-for-TV feature-length film, he'd be either a.) a serial killer b.) the bumbling office eccentric who everyone makes fun of for being uptight and anal or c.) spy in the manner of Robert Hanssen (i.e. guy from Breach...the fedora helped in this regard).


He threw me for a loop when he pulled out Washington Hispanic. I didn't peg him as Hispanic. But then I thought maybe he just picked it up near the station for something to read, lest he have a moment with nothing to do.


Well, just shy of our stop, Farragut North, the train stops because--and I quote--"a wheelchair person is laid out on the edge of the track so trains are traveling at a reduced rate of speed." So, he says to me "What do you suppose that means?" Each announcement over the next 10 minutes clarified the situation a bit. It seems someone fell out of their wheelchair. No one really explained to us, however, why no one just helped them up and away from the edge. So, we had a bit of interaction over the whole ordeal--he felt it could be an attempted suicide. I felt it was Metro trying to get more creative with their excuses.


But, in the end, I don't think he's a serial killer or spy, though he may be a bit anal, who isn't. It just goes to show how jumping to conclusions about other people can cause irrational thoughts and behaviors--from road rage to simple snapping of a checkout person at a customer...in the end, we just need to be more sympathetic and have more interaction.


Okay, this kumbaya moment is officially OVER.

Commuter Sentences: Love Thy Neighbor

On the way to work this morning (okay, I'm blogging at work, but give me a break, it's lunchtime), I decided to walk to the metro, given that I skipped the gym. So, I walked past my homeless friend near Union Station who said "2 more days to the weekend--think positive!" I love him. I have the feeling many people do, because yesterday he had a pot of hot coffee there with him.


Well, on the metro, I went to sit down and had this guy rushing from the other end of the train to sit where I was sitting (2 seats available). I mean, he REALLY wanted that seat. As I watched him write a list on his daily planner pad, I was formulating ideas about what he was about. I was confidant that if he were a character in a made-for-TV feature-length film, he'd be either a.) a serial killer b.) the bumbling office eccentric who everyone makes fun of for being uptight and anal or c.) spy in the manner of Robert Hanssen (i.e. guy from Breach...the fedora helped in this regard).


He threw me for a loop when he pulled out Washington Hispanic. I didn't peg him as Hispanic. But then I thought maybe he just picked it up near the station for something to read, lest he have a moment with nothing to do.


Well, just shy of our stop, Farragut North, the train stops because--and I quote--"a wheelchair person is laid out on the edge of the track so trains are traveling at a reduced rate of speed." So, he says to me "What do you suppose that means?" Each announcement over the next 10 minutes clarified the situation a bit. It seems someone fell out of their wheelchair. No one really explained to us, however, why no one just helped them up and away from the edge. So, we had a bit of interaction over the whole ordeal--he felt it could be an attempted suicide. I felt it was Metro trying to get more creative with their excuses.


But, in the end, I don't think he's a serial killer or spy, though he may be a bit anal, who isn't. It just goes to show how jumping to conclusions about other people can cause irrational thoughts and behaviors--from road rage to simple snapping of a checkout person at a customer...in the end, we just need to be more sympathetic and have more interaction.


Okay, this kumbaya moment is officially OVER.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Multifamily Living Out Loud

Tv_explode_cup_2 The neighbor thing hasn't really improved. I typed up a letter last night and intended to slip it on his door today. It was friendly, but I was still afraid of making things worse. My brother is of the opinion I should learn to put up with noise, but that if it bothers me, leave a post it signed "concerned neighbor." My friend Leslie thinks I should just knock. I did this evening discover an activty other than sleeping that keeps his TV quiet. I'm not quite sure how to put this in a family-friendly way. Getting some. Alone. Yes, I have to hear "that," but "that" is in some ways better--easier to avoid and drown out. So, I'm thinking a gift subscription to Hustler is in order... :) I'll sign the card "a concerned neighbor."


Image from http://www.motherfools.com

Monday, December 3, 2007

Refinishing Continued--but not Finished!

Okay, so here are some tips, probably if you want to use any stripper, but particularly if you use the one I did.


1.) Buy enough so you don't scrimp. I used nearly the whole container on my little night stand. And, I'm going to have to redo certain areas.


2.) Don't start Sunday afternoon. Unless you don't have a job. As it turns out (the package says it--I just didn't believe it) it takes between 4-24 hours for this stuff to work. You know this by the color. I started scraping before I was sure. Some of it came off, but I decided to let it sit overnight. I might even recommend making this a longer-term thing doing one surface at a time. This way, you can lay that surface parallel to the floor so that no product runs. They say it doesn't, but there were areas where the stripper moved away from the edge.


3.) Have a work area that is not your bedroom. The fumes went away and were not strong, so by the time I went to bed, I didn't smell much. However, I don't have much space. So, essentially, I was leaning over my nightstand with my butt against the bed. The result of this was that strips of the goop flew into places I didn't want it. I also see the advantage of having a workbench. Leaning over for extended periods is heck for your back.


4.) Wear gloves. Wear shoes. Don't step on the stuff. It's sticky. After work today I decided to tackle the rest of the scraping. I was in a t-shirt (only after my mom said "Christine, are you doing that in your work clothes?!" Answer: yes. "Take them off!") and bare feet. I ended up with caked-on paint/thinner goop on my feet. I still have residue on my hands and feet.


I couldn't handle doing it all. It was loud and the last thing I felt like doing before dinner. I managed to get most of the gunk off--the scrubbing with water to get the rest off will have to wait. And, like I said, I'm probably going to have to redo some areas if I can't get it off with a brush, scrubber or sand paper. So, I have a feeling the staining will happen later.


Here it is now. Don't know if you can actually see the mahogany peeking through on the second photo--in an already scrubbed clean area.


Stripper2


Almostmahogany


Needless to say, I'm reconsidering the "Hey, maybe I can redo my living room cabinet, and a dresser and my chair!" idea. I think this is kind of like childbirth--you need to wait a few years until you forget how painful it is. I know that, also like childbirth, it will all be worth it in the end, but right now, it's pretty painful.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Take it off, take it ALL off!

I have finally taken the plunge with my $12 Salvation Army nightstand. I was debating whether I wanted to paint or refinish with stain. I settled on staining, so I bought some stripper--the "eco-friendly" and supposedly fume-free kind.


Stripper


Well, when they say "odor-free," they don't really mean it. I think they mean in comparison with turpentine or more aggressive strippers. It's in my bedroom, so I'm thinking I might end up sleeping on the sofa tonight.  Here's the progress so far--I brushed it on, and it's doing its magic, which takes 4+ hours at which point you scrape. Bu-bye blonde!


Refinishingtable_2

Christmas Cosy

I got my second cosy--the Christmas pudding one--before leaving for Thanksgiving. I LOVE it, and it keeps my tea toasty warm! This one is from Manda Holden. I'm just upset that neither of my cosies were for the smaller teapot I have--this is my fault b/c I was too lazy to check out the ounceage before buying. I guess it just means I'll have to buy MORE! :)


Cosy

New Neighbor, New Annoyances

Shhhhh244x171 I guess I got a new neighbor downstairs sometime in the last week or so. The nice couple who lived there moved back to Austin. I have not seen him but I've heard him. But, more than hearing him, I've heard his TV. All day. I am far from critiquing ample TV viewing, being one to watch the TV myself. But, it is LOUD. Right now, it's tolerable, but barely. Yesterday, it was several notches louder and really out of control. I wanted to have quiet in the apartment, but even in my bedroom, I could hear the TV. I could hear actual conversations from the TV show...that loud. So, I had to turn on my stereo. This just ends up turning into a loudness competition. Oh, and did I mention he also has a TV in the bedroom? So, there have been some nights I have been awoken by a laugh track. Even with ear plugs. I have had to drag out my sound relaxer again.


I'm reasonable with noise, I think. I chalk some of the noise up to apartment living. I heard my other neighbors' televisions--just not this loudly. I tolerate occasional heavy bass stereo playing. I think part of the problem here is not just its volume but its consistency--there's rarely a break unless he's sleeping--and maybe not even then because I feel like it's 24 hours.


I don't exactly know how to handle these situations. Do I knock, introduce myself and mention the TV? Do you even approach neighbors in the city when they move in? I WANT to do this, but then I think "what if they're crazy?" Or, "maybe they want to be anonymous and will think that it's ME who's crazy."  I've always seen people in the hall and introduced myself...to this day I have not met my neighbor across the hall who moved in when the first guy moved out. It's been almost 2 years. Do I ask the first floor neighbor if she's similarly bothered?  I don't want it to turn into a situation like it was with the smoky neighbor...that turned ugly.


Advice?

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent!

I have always liked Advent, that "season" in the Church that occurs before Christmas. As a kid, of course, the Advent wreath counted down the weeks before Christmas, which were interminable. Now, I find that it helps me to slow down during an otherwise hectic time and mark each day/week and appreciate the positive aspects of the time before Christmas. My parents never had an Advent wreath, but I have one. It's kind of lame--I think I picked it up at Michaels or somehing--but it does the trick. This morning in church, I felt slightly like a kid feeling excited at the sight of the Advent wreath. And, I was super psyched that the opening hymn was "O Come O Come Emmanuel." It is my number one favorite because of its medievalness. It was from the 9th Century, so it reflects the tradition part of the Church that I like.


Here's my wreath...ignore the JD. :)


Adventwreath