Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Troubling Tale of Tooth #2

I first went to a dentist about my aching wisdom teeth around 1995/96. “They haven’t yet broken the surface,” he said. “Give them more time to come in, and it will be easier to pull them out.” And so I waited.

Now, if you’ve read my previous post about dental work you know: they weren’t going to come in. They were impacted. And all the extra time I gave them was time they spent putting more pressure on the teeth in front of them.

Also: I clench my teeth at night. Enough so that most of my dentists have outright asked me if I do, as they view the damage that I’ve done to my teeth over the years. Not one of them told me about night guards.

The combination of internal and external pressure has not been good to my teeth.

While I did finally have all four wisdom teeth removed (#1, 16, 17, and 32), some damage had already been done to the remaining molars. It probably would have been fine, if not aggravated by years of clenching. But #2 cracked, and it’s been filled over and over. The fillings fall out after a couple of years as the cracking gets worse. One dentist said, “This is crazy. Pull it.” The other dentist in his office said, “That’s crazy. We’d never pull a tooth we could save.” A third dentist said, “We could pull it, but the roots on this tooth are long, and it looks like it goes into your sinus canal. If we create a hole there, …” The words “graft” and “plate” were involved at this point and the terror blocked the rest of the sentence from my mind.

That conversation was three years ago. No more attempts were made to refill the tooth, and I’ve been “treating” it by brushing extra carefully and flossing a lot, knowing that I was only taking the weakest of stop-gap measures. I heard about and bought myself a drugstore-quality night guard, which helped with the pressure. Finally, I went to a new dentist on Monday. He said, “It can’t be saved. Get it taken out. There’s an oral surgeon on the sixth floor.” And so I went up to the sixth floor to make an appointment. Today, I am to have it removed, with the benefit of heavy sedation. I’m nervous, because the surgeon hasn’t actually seen the X-ray yet. I hope the long roots turn out to be a non-issue. I also hope that the new dentist is right about the pain in #30 (my only tooth with a root canal) being caused by pressure from #2, because it HURTS. The new dentist explained that, while the pain I describe is accurate to an incomplete root canal, and that he can see from the X-ray that the previous dentist didn’t get all the way down to the apex of the root, that type of pain should have manifested earlier. He and I both would like to avoid re-opening the tooth if possible.

I asked if I could have the X-ray back after the tooth is gone. This tooth and I, we go way back. I want to keep something to remember it by. And I will glare at it with great disdain. Grrrrr. (Clench, clench)

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taking donations

You’ll be a dentist
You have a talent for causing things pain
Son, be a dentist
People will pay you to be inhumane
– Little Shop of Horrors

I have an appointment with a new dentist on Monday. I am scared. Yes, I am a rational adult, and not a child… but I have had either terrible luck with dentists, or the dental profession is horribly under-regulated. I have written about my previous experiences in the dentist’s chair, and the odds are stacked against me. On the other hand, my medical insurance runs out at the end of October, and I know that I need to get done the work that I’ve been putting off. Even my teeth are telling me, now.

So, if any of all y’all have any old, unused Valium that you can get to me before 2pm, I’d really appreciate it.

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Week In Review

I finally went to my first 2008 Rockies game, which happened to be the last home game of the season. Shout out to Megan and Joe for giving me a ticket. I had a great time, even though the Dbacks spanked us. Opening Day for 2009 is April 10, and I plan to be there after missing the last two years because of Stupid Work Stuff.

After mentioning on Twitter that I’d sold a couple more bracelets before even getting around to posting them in my shop, an acquaintance/follower commissioned me to make a manly-looking mala bracelet for him. Cool beans! Not that malas are generally very girlie-looking, but I chose paint-brush jasper for it’s grey/black tones. The hard part was/is finding an affordable “guru” bead. This is the 3-hole-drilled bead that is used as the counting point on a mala, to mark the beginning and end of the circle. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I’m going to attempt to drill my own. As for the other bracelets: Still not photographed and posted.

My last contract day with my prior employer was Tuesday. I slipped out with a complete lack of fanfare, because I’m not very good with good-byes. Also, I was RACING to a FedEx drop box, and didn’t have time for chit-chat. I realize that the reorg put into place by upper management, under pressure from the Board and stockholders, was short-sighted. Heck, it was BLIND. But I don’t work (much) with upper management, the Board, or the stockholders. The folks with whom I worked are my friends, and in some cases feel like family. I will be happy to return to the office for more work whenever I’m needed. At twice my old pay, of course. :)

I took my mom in for a preventative maintenance ’scope, and she gets a clean bill of health. The family genes are pretty good at shielding themselves from everything we throw at them. Yes, yes, mom’s side of the family battles diabetes, and her sweet tooth (which I thankfully did not inherit) keeps me worried, but she has managed to escape that particular complication for YEARS longer than her mom or brother did. Still, I’m keeping my eye on her.

Two former colleagues and I met up for lunch, to discuss the possibility of joining forces into one design company. After speaking to our individual strengths and weaknesses, I’m not sure that we’d be any better off than we are as independent contractors, but I still want to see what the initial business plan looks like before I bow out (or shake hands on the deal).

With my new, limited income, I’m trying to stay close to home and keep as much money in the bank as possible. I went to the thrift store ONLY to do a quick check for a dress that could affordably be used for Costume Two. I didn’t find one, but I did find a vintage, self-belt dress for the ridiculous price of $2.95, so I bought it. It looks to be home-made, but by someone who really knew what she was doing. I considered buying the new-but-retro-styled wedding dress that needed a dry cleaning but was priced somehow at $4.95, but it was a size 4 and there was NO WAY that I was ever going to be able to use that for anything. The sad, sad part of that trek was finding a mid-century-looking buffet-style chest of drawers for $60, and not knowing anyone with a pickup truck to help me get it home. Regardless of provenance, I liked the shape. It doesn’t go with ANYTHING in my house, outside of the kidney coffee table in the basement, so I should just put it out of my head.

I came up with the brilliant plan of using Very Long Tweezers to remove the offending thread from my comatose sewing machine. Except that I didn’t know where to buy Very Long Tweezers. Mandelion came to my rescue, and suggested the local fabric store. Of course! One trip to JoAnn later, and I was holding in my hands tweezers that are specifically advertised for reaching tight spots in sewing machines. Perfect! Alas, they don’t fit into this particular tight spot. Oh, for fuck’s sake. In frustration, with the aid of the tweezers, a metal barbecue skewer, and scissors, I wrestled most of the thread out. I am skipping the last camping trip of the season this weekend, but hope to make good use of my time at home by getting some of these sewing/beading/photographing projects out of the way.

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Filed under camping, collections, doctors and dentists, family, friends, Halloween, jewelry, sewing, shopping, vintage

Hand Slap

I have an issue with vendors, whether they’re on eBay or etsy or their very own storefront, who use the word “vintage” when what they really mean is “retro.” I understand that keyword optimization is a likely culprit, because who wouldn’t want more eyes looking at listings? But sometimes it’s apparent that the vendor really just doesn’t know his/her shit. Here’s a quick little lesson for the confused (who I realize are least likely to be among the fine folks reading this post):

vintage |ˈvintij|
adjective
denoting something of high quality, esp. something from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work : a vintage Sherlock Holmes adventure.
SYNONYMS: classic, ageless, timeless; old, antique, heritage, historic.

retro 1 |ˈretrō|
adjective
imitative of a style, fashion, or design from the recent past : retro 60s fashions.
ORIGIN 1960s: from French rétro, abbreviation of rétrograde ‘retrograde.’

Do you see the difference? Do you get it? Vintage infers actual age, while Retro is a modern imitation. If you didn’t know the difference, that’s okay. Now you do. Isn’t language cool? If you did know the difference and were simply keywording, please make sure that your body copy reflects the true nature of the item for sale. If you knew the difference, but didn’t think it mattered to buyers, now you know that it does. If you knew the difference, knew that buyers care, and were simply trying to get a better price by selling to an inexperienced collector, cut it out. Don’t be a pill.

(Grumbles to self over in the corner: I hate wasting my time by clicking for more info on a vintage listing, only to see that it’s obviously a modern reproduction.)

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Filed under collections, fashion, shopping, vintage

The Big Read

Ren: Hey, Jasper. Where’s Phil?
Jasper the Pup: I told you, they put him to sleep.
Ren: So wake him up.
Jasper the Pup: You don’t wake up from the *big* sleep.
Ren: The big sleep… THE BIG SLEEP? THE BIG SLEEP! THE BIG SLEEP!
Stimpy: What’s the big sleep, Ren?
Ren: He’s DEAD! DEAD you idiot! You know what DEAD is? Just like we’ll be if we don’t get out of here!

I nabbed this meme from Inherent Passion. My mom is a librarian, and instilled in me from an early age a deep love for books. Still, I only came in at 40 (in part because I got tired of checking IMDb to see which Austen or Brontë film was which).

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The program was created in response to the National Endowment for the Arts report Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, which identified a critical decline in literary reading among American adults. In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, this study, with a sample size of 17,000, revealed the following about literary reading in the U.S.:

  • Less than half of the adult American population now reads literature. (In this survey, literature is defined as any novels, short stories, poetry, or drama, with no distinctions made for quality or length.)
  • The percentage of the U.S. adult population reading any book has declined by seven percent over the past decade.
  • Literary reading is declining among all age groups, but the steepest decline is in the youngest age groups.

As Mrs. Passion (heh heh) points out, there are some discrepancies on the list. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe are listed separately. Same with The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Hamlet. For me, this causes a quandary. I’ve read a bit of Shakespeare, but not everything he’s ever written. I read Chronicles as a kid, or rather, my sister read it to me, but I don’t think we finished the series. I’m not fully convinced that this particular list came directly from the NEA, as it isn’t the sort of organization that would miss such an error. Also, as I browse through official site, there are a number of books mentioned that I personally feel are, if not “better” than some on this list, then perhaps more classic. Fahrenheit 451, anyone? Still, it’s fun.

Look at the list and:
1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you own.
3) Underline the books you have seen a movie or TV production of.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (I started to read this is a kid, but never got into it. I suppose I should try again.)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Not complete, no.)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (Is there an EXTRA bold I could use?)
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (Does everyone start singing Lazy Sunday to themselves when they see this title, or is it just me?)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen (Okay, seriously, enough with the Jane Austen. Another reason I don’t believe this list comes from the NEA.)
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson (That is, I think I own it. I have a bunch of Bryson’s books scattered around the house.)
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (My dad is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I’ve read/seen some, but not all.)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (I’ve seen Apocalypse Now, which I think should count.)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Bank
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Now go to your local library. If you don’t already have a library card, get one. They’re free. Take some books home. Also free. Borrow a few DVDs while you’re at it. Those are free as well. Or stay at the library, find a nice quiet space, and stare out the window. (My favorite window seat at my local library looks out over a grassy field filled with romping prairie dogs.) A lot of libraries even have their own coffee shops now. Go get a latté and a brownie. They’re not free, but they’re probably tasty.

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The Ol’ College Try

I refuse to give up.

I sat the Singer down on the dining room table, with the Interrogation Room-bright overhead light on. I got out the manual. I flipped toward the back, where troubleshooting and maintenance can usually be found. The manual did not disappoint in that regard. I troubleshot. I maintained. I officially cannot reach the dealio that controls the thread arm. Is it really time to raise the white flag and call a shop? I hate to do that, to spend good money on such a goofy little issue. But Halloween is rapidly approaching, and my costume* isn’t sewing itself.

Grumble, grumble.

*Yes, my children. Singular. I am disappointed, but the current economic situation has my hands tied. I am going ahead with the one that was further along when my job was “eliminated.” Unfortunately, it is not the one that best fit this year’s theme. Still, in my head, it looks great, and if I can ever get this machine fixed (and remember to get my dressform back from the friend who borrowed it), it is so close to being finished. It still needs shoes, however, and I am torn between $37-but-will-likely-never-wear-again and $13-and-will-definitely-never-wear-again-if-they-even-last-the-night. I am leaning toward the disposable option. Heck, I can probably make my own! I do love a project. :)

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Windows On The World

I have new windows!

I realize that this seems like an outrageous expense for someone with no real income to speak of, and that’s a good observation. But let me explain: I started this get-new-windows process back in June, after 4+ years of knowing that my windows were the insulating equivalent of having GAPING HOLES in my walls. And, oh yeah, I had a good job with a stable company that I’d been with for years. Oops!

So yeah, anyway. Way back in June, I made a few phone calls and had a couple of guys come out to give me estimates. The local, non-national-chain guy, Rick (whom I also happen to personally know), came in with the lowest bid. By a lot. A LOT. So low, in fact, that Rick asked me to not tell anyone what price he was giving me. He didn’t tell me what his markup was, but I figured, based on the National Chain’s price, that it wasn’t much. (Of Note: I was truly impressed with National Chain’s sales rep, presentation, and their lifetime warranty. If you are not local and able to use my guy, I would happily recommend the Other Folks. Ask me if you are looking.) I officially gave Rick the go-ahead to order my custom-built windows in mid-July. He estimated that their construction would take around 3 to 4 weeks. Woo!

Five weeks later, Rick checked in with me to say that it would probably be another week.

Three weeks later, they were finally ready! And shit. I was out of an income. Silver lining: I didn’t have to arrange to take any time off from work so I could be home for the install!

Delivery of the windows was perfectly on time. The truck drove up on the stroke of 10am, and Rick and his team (the delivery guy and Jenny, Rick’s assistant) unloaded everything in a matter of minutes. The delivery guy left, and Rick and Jenny got to work. By the end of Day One all of my old single-pane, aluminum-frame windows were gone*, and new, vinyl-clad, double-pane, low-E windows were in place. The immediate impression is that they LOOK FANTASTIC. Oh yeah, and I can actually open and close them without having to lift the window out of the track! And the distant rumble of traffic is stifled! Happy Cat noticed right away that the sun didn’t feel as strong, and he promptly relocated his afternoon sunbathing to the front door sidelight (not replaced).

Day Two was reserved for installing the two sets of patio sliders. I poked my head in now and again to check the progress, and actually watched part of the demo of my old dining room sliders. What a chore! There were winches and cables and a Sawzall (woo!), some quiet grumbling, and a surprised observation that the header wasn’t actually attached to anything… or bearing any weight. That, and a few other complications, slowed the process down. By the end of Day Two, only the lower level slider was in place, and it wasn’t sealed or trimmed out. But that would happen on Day Three, right after they finished the upper level sliders!

Wow. Okay. Um… The removal of the upper level sliders revealed that all of the same construction shortcuts had been taken during the original build. So, by the end of Day Three, I had two sets of installed-but-not-yet-sealed-or-trimmed doors. Yet, even with the openings around both sets, I already noticed that the dull roar of traffic was muffled. This is a completely added bonus.

Day Four finished up everything that was left. Rick and Jenny did a BEAUTIFUL job replacing the floor trim and creating new-from-scratch door trim. In fact, they did nicer work than the professional carpenter who had originally done the floor a couple of years ago. And my goodness, can Rick draw a beautiful bead of caulk. (Yes, I notice these things).

Now, with two people for two extra days on site, and the added materials that Rick had to cough up for some of the unexpected trim work, and the reconstruction of the effin’ door frames, it was only fair that he charge me a bit more than the original quote. And he did: $200. For all of that extra work. Two-hundred-stinkin’ dollars.

And then, I found something else out: He wasn’t actually making a dime on this job. THAT’S why he didn’t want me to tell anyone what he quoted me. You read that right, Rick’s markup was 0%. ZERO. Ze-ro. He and Jenny had just spent four whole working days at my house, laboring for free, installing windows (and doors!) that he wasn’t even profiting on. And I know Rick; he was probably paying Jenny for her time. Out of his own pocket.

Dude. I work for free on my OWN stuff. And I barter services, for one client. But to work for free for someone else? I know Rick, but we’re not best friends or anything. We don’t get together for dinner or go on bike rides. Years ago, he was the landlord of my then-boyfriend. This is not the kind of relationship that begs for free work. On the one hand, I wanted to pay him a whole lot more than he was asking for. On the other hand, I’m unemployed. I have no income. I’m not even getting unemployment checks yet. All I could do was round up. So I did. And I will publicly thank Rick for doing such a beautiful job. Thanks, Rick.

If you’re in the Boulder/Denver metro area:
Rick Nistico
Insulated Glass | Screens | Replacement Windows | Service Work
303-995-1209 (cell)

Photos of the install here.

*Rick took the scrap aluminum to recycle, and I have kept all of the “salvageable” glass panes and panels for anyone who might be interested in using the glass for pictureframing or the tempered panels for building a cold frame garden. I also have the screens for the old windows, if you live in my complex and want them for your own unit. Or rinse them off, and use them as the largest earring organizers EVER. Hit me up if you’re interested. Free, but you have to haul. :)

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