Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now!!!

Today I went with my sister to a hearing center so she could have her hearing tested. She recently returned from a visit with her 93 year old mother-in-law, and I think all the shouting on her end made her realize how annoying it is for those of us on the receiving end of her own frequent "What did you say?" The testing center requested that she bring along someone she knows to read words to her. Apparently the results are more accurate when the patient hears the words from someone with a familiar voice. Though as much as my sister talks, I do most of the listening...but whatever. I was game, especially as it meant lunch at a local pizza parlor by her.

The first test was "Hear Kim read". I had only gotten to the third word on the list, which was "fifth". I read it out loud and my sister said "What?" To which I replied, "I have a fifth of booze." The teacher, errrrr.....I mean the tester said that was cheating! I was only aloud to say the word once. If she didn't get it, I was to go on to the next word. Properly chastised, I continued through the list. Next stop was in the room next door. Kathy had to enter a box similar to a phone booth but smaller, and sit facing out. A door with a glass window was then shut. I told her she looked like she was getting into the Easy Bake Oven. We made faces at each other until sent a scathing look by the technician. I then occupied myself studying the graphic of the ear posted on the wall. Let's see - outer ear, middle ear, inner ear. At least someone finally took an organ and labeled it so it made sense. Well, except for the cochlea, which totally sounds like it belongs on another organ. I had enough time to contemplate that as the technician read words to Kathy, raising and lowering the volume through Kathy's headset.

The final step was fitting Kathy with a hearing device to see how she liked the fit. Kathy's ears are very sensitive, and even the small headphones of her mp3 player hurts her ears. So of course that means going to the most expensive hearing aid, which wraps around the outside of your ear, depositing a small mini-microphone looking device into the ear canal. Skeptic that I am, especially when someone works on commission, I wondered if that is the same hearing aid they have everyone try at first? Let the person drive a Lexus and then show them a Chevy? After all, that's what sales are all about. Can you hear ME now?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two Girls and a Dog

Okay, so it was actually two women and a dog, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? My friend Carol's parents have a house at Table Rock Lake, so she and I drove down there for the weekend. Kirby the dog went along for the ride. He just didn't realize how long a ride it would be. He's actually fairly good in the car, but he has to sit on someone's lap. Since I was driving, Carol got doggie duty. I tried to warn her ahead of time, suggesting that she drive so I could hold the dog, but she wanted me to drive. Passenger beware, I always say. It's not like the dog is going to lay down on your lap and sleep for five hours straight. I suspect Carol is now even more thankful that she has a cat and not a dog.

We arrived at the lake around 4:00 Friday afternoon, and it was a beautiful day. We threw everything in the house and walked down to the boat dock. We were able to take a nice, relaxing trip down part of the lake before heading back in to make some homemade pizza for supper.

Saturday we ate a leisurely breakfast and enjoyed our coffee and tea on the deck watching the day come to life. In the afternoon a long boat ride exposed me to another section of Table Rock Lake. We never did see the whole length of it. This morning the warmth of the water met the cold air, resulting in an eerie mist upon the water. My photos don't do it justice. It was very cool, pardon the pun.

The most interesting part of where we were staying was the nearby airport. It consists of a grass runway, with the planes taking off directly over the water. One plane landed while we were there, though there were two planes at the airport this morning. There is also a series of 4 or 5 hangers, so perhaps other planes were on the premises as well. I think I'd be wanting pontoons instead of wheels on my plane!

The house where we stayed has no television and only local phone service. It was such a welcome relief to leave behind all the trappings of our hectic St. Louis lives. And you know what? I didn't even miss them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catching Up is Hard to Do

It was fun spending nearly five days in Chicago with Jim and the other people we know from the ASLA. Our hotel was very nice and less than two blocks from Katie's dorm. We had a lot of great food, and I enjoyed the walking, biking and boat riding that we did. Coming back to reality sucks, though. There is so much to catch up on with work. Darn - I hate when work interferes with play! Because I'll be playing again this weekend (a friend and I are driving down to Table Rock Lake Friday to stay at her parent's lake house for the weekend) I have to kick butt and take no prisoners before then. Jim will be off on a motorcycle adventure, so we have someone coming to stay at the house with the dog again. That means I have to clean the house, particularly the guest bedroom and bath, before she gets here.

Around all that, I am finishing up my book. There are a couple of last tweaks that my designer is working on, and then I'll be ready to get quotes for the printing. I really can't determine my pricing until I know what the printing is going to cost. It's the old chicken or the egg syndrome. You need to have the price on the book before you go to print, but you can't price the book until you know what the printing charge will be. There is quite a learning curve in producing your first book. I just hope all the curves result in a nice, straight bottom line.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Take Me Back to Chicago

Jim and I are back in Chicago again, this time for the annual meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Jim will be doing the meeting thing while I'll be doing the town. His partner and wife came along, so I'll have Jill to goof off with. We flew in today and took the train from Midway Airport to the city. We are staying at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue, a first for us. Ted and Jill did the Priceline thing and ended up with a corner room on an upper floor with views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. While we are on the top floor of the Hilton, we our room is on the back side with a view of 8th Street. It is quieter than our Michigan Avenue views have been at the Best Western, and we do have two bathrooms in our room, which is unusual to say the least.

We walked through the various parks along Michigan Avenue this afternoon, ending up in front of the Hilton to catch up with another co-worker. As I was calling Katie to let her know we were in town, here she came walking right in front of the hotel on her way back from class. She ended up going to Gino's East with us for pizza. Afterwards we walked her back to her dorm as I had brought her a basket of special cookies along with a bag of other goodies.

Tomorrow the Jill and I are going to try to take a river cruise as neither of us has ever done that.Katie doesn't have class on Fridays so I think she will join us.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Flu Over the Cuckoos Nest

I got the flu yesterday. Was it the swine flu? I don't know, I was too sick to try and put a label on it. Suffice it to say it was the type of flu where you don't know which end of you should approach the porcelain throne first. It certainly felt like the big, bad wolf was huffing and puffing and blowing my body down to get to the succulent pig inside. Maybe THAT'S why they call it swine flu. Oh, excuse me, H1N1, because that sounds soooo much better than swine flu. "H" for heaving, "1" because that's how much time you have to get to the bathroom, and "N1" because it's not going to be a number one once you get there. Sorry, TMI...

The television in our bedroom wasn't working, and I knew what would happen if I bent over to try to find out what was wrong with it. So I laid in bed all day thinking of all the things that I would rather be doing than laying in bed all day. Isn't it ironic? Any other time I would welcome the chance to take a nap during the day. When your stomach feels like the mosh pit of a teenybopper concert and your head just wants to implode, napping doesn't come easy. My nice little nest felt like a torture chamber instead. Cuckoo, cuckoo...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Went to a Garden Party, Everyone Was There!

Jim's landscape architecture company, SWT Design, recently completed renovations on new office space. The original building is a pre-1900's Queen Anne home, to which they added additional design studio space five years ago. When the one story stucco 1920's commercial building went on the market a few years ago, they snatched it up. The design team came up with a way to join the buildings together with an enclosed walkway. Everything about the renovation was as green as possible, with energy efficient windows, use of renewable products, pervious pavers in the parking lot to prevent water runoff, use of rain barrels to collect water, and the crowning glory - a green roof on the stucco building. Not only does the green roof deflect the hot sun, it also has a wonderful garden with various types of plants ranging from drought lovers to tomatoes and herbs. The stairway to heaven is wrought iron and spiral, leading guests and employees up to an urban oasis complete with a sunshade and patio furniture.

All of the other plant materials on site are either natives to Missouri or used due to their ability to provide additional protection from water runoff. The amount of plants used, as well as the small pond they installed, help to provide a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies in an area of the town where concrete is king.

SWT decided to have a zero waste garden party on 09/09/09 to celebrate the addition of studio space as well as their successful year, despite the economy. The invitations were all sent via email so there was no paper waste. A local combo provided easy listening music. The food and beverages were all locally grown or produced, and were served on compostable plates. All the glass, paper and cans used at the party were recycled. About 300 people filtered in and out during the 4 hours of the open house, drawn no doubt by the phenomenal weather and an opportunity to hear good news instead of bad. The party was quite a success, and I think we need to send a message to Kermit, via email of course, that it IS easy being green.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Those Schoolgirl Days...

Every year on the first day of school we took a photo of each of our children in the backyard. That continued even as they headed off to college.

It's been a week since we moved Katie into her dorm in Chicago. Though I use the word "dorm" lightly, as she is in a two bedroom, two bath apartment which just happens to be operated by the college. She and Kasey from Connecticut lucked out, with their unit being at the end of the hallway, away from the noise of the elevators but more importantly scoring windows in both of the bedrooms. The main living area of the apartment and the one bedroom boast floor to ceiling windows with, get this, stunning views of Lake Michigan and a small marina. Seriously? Where is the dorm room overlooking the dumpster that most freshmen get? Katie told me that two boys on the floor have offered them $200 a month to change rooms with them. As if! Katie's room is intended to house four students, but so far it is just the two Ks, while the boys are in a one bedroom, one bath unit.

Move-in day went quite smoothly, and in less than an hour and a half we had all of her belongs stored in the room, despite waiting for the elevators to take us to the 19th floor. The worst part was waiting for the elevators in the afternoon, with our arms loaded from the trip to Target. We got her room and the kitchen area set up in that afternoon, and had supper with Katie and Lauren, a fellow WGHS graduate. Then they went off for their evening activities and we walked around the city. After a late breakfast with Katie on Sunday, we made our way back to St. Louis.

For me, the weirdest part of this past week was not hearing "What's for supper?" like clockwork each afternoon. Normally Katie was in the other room every day as I cooked, and it was awfully quiet even with the news to keep me company. However, it has been really liberating to only have to consider mine and Jim's schedules, likes and dislikes. Whole grain bread, fish, cooking on the grill, eating or not eating...

Katie is probably feeling the same sense of freedom, and it has been fun to hear about her new experiences. Life's lessons are being learned every day, from dealing with overflowing toilets to budgeting and planning meals. How quickly our children go "from crayons to perfume..."