May 17, 2018

An interesting series of thoughts

by Janie Jones

So yesterday, I suddenly felt like running.  And not just a little trot to look like you are hurrying, but a full out urge to pump those stumpy little legs of mine as hard as I could.

It got me thinking.  Although it might sound scary, I actually do a lot of thinking.  Too much thinking, I’m sure, because it’s always rather fruitless thoughts that leave me worried, vexed or dissatisfied.  Mostly I’m always thinking how to manage on a limited budget, how to get everything done before I’m exhausted, or how to make it through the tedium of a job that makes me very miserable.  These are seldom lines of thought that lead to anything uplifting.

But in the past few days I’ve started applying for new jobs and ways to make it work to go back to school for my graduate degree.  I think, perhaps, all those annoying applications are making me feel a little better about myself and all the things I have done, have learned and can do.  Perhaps it’s good therapy.  Because for the last year and a half I’ve been trying to convince myself to be grateful for a job that is respectable but yet is contrary to every fiber of my being.

I like to make people happy, I like to nurture things and make everything feel good.  But my professional life revolves around seeing how much pain innocent little mice can withstand and then eventually putting them down and harvesting their organs for molecular assays.  It’s ghoulish, soul crushing work for me.  And, the longer I am here the less respect I have for myself and the work our lab does because, I think, it goes against my basic instincts.

Don’t get me wrong, I logically know that the sacrifice is going to help better understand how to treat people with chronic pain and diabetes.  But, as valuable as it is, it is really, really hard for me to do and not think about how it must feel to be a lab mouse.

Anyway, I also have begun to have some other thoughts about my boss, which I am getting more concerned about.  Normally I read people really well within a short period of time, but there are a few personality types that trick me.  I think hers is a passive aggressive type that has been messing with my brain, and causing me to lose confidence in myself and my perceptions.  Today was the light bulb day, when I finally accepted the suspicions which have been nagging at me.  A little thing happened which caused the doubt to dissipate.

I could still be losing my mind, but at least I once again am trusting myself.  I haven’t trusted myself in about 4 months.  I don’t know why I lost it initially, but, I do suddenly feel a sense of clarity I haven’t known in all that time.

So, while I still don’t know exactly how I’m going to effect a change in my circumstances, I now feel totally at peace with myself and confident that forging ahead in a new direction is the right thing and the necessary thing to do.

 

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May 16, 2018

What alien snatched my brain?

by Janie Jones

So, a very weird thing happened a little while ago.

I was walking down a long empty hall with a slight ramp.  Suddenly, I had this giddy urge to run as hard as I could.

I NEVER have the urge to run.

An alien body snatcher must have stolen the real me.

May 14, 2018

Maybe I missed my calling

by Janie Jones

Perhaps I should have been an interior designer.  I really do love shopping for paint and wallpaper and furniture.

I don’t particularly like painting, hanging wallpaper and paying for furniture, but hell, if you’re an interior designer that’s what lackeys and clients are for, right?

Unfortunately, I’m my own interior designer, lackey and client.

I have spent the last several weeks chipping away at the living room reno.  I am getting close to being done.  The wallpaper went up this weekend.  It took waaaaaay longer than I anticipated and there was a lot more waste trying to match the pattern than I expected, so that was a little bit frustrating.  But, man.  I am getting really excited.  It is looking soooo awesome.

My house was built in 1919 and keeps whispering “Art Nouveau” to me.  Any design purists out there will probably roll over in their graves as I say this, but I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between art nouveau and art deco (which I guess came a little later than art nouveau and is more in keeping with the era my house was built), and both styles are really appealing to me lately.  So, I’m sort of mish-mashing them together and picking some things to give a nod to both design eras.

Case in point.  My wallpaper is an anaglypta style with a relief pattern very reminiscent of the swirls and lines of art nouveau/art deco.  I have picked out a semi-gloss, smokey grey-green to paint over it, which I see in a lot of period appropriate designs and I think will tie together nicely with my funny aquamarine/silver velvet drapes, grey patterned rugs and green-grey upholstered furniture.  I wanted to buy these really cool light switch and outlet covers that screamed art deco, but to outfit the house, which doesn’t really have all that many, would have cost several hundred dollars.  Eeek!  So, plain white it is.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances I think I will be finished by next Sunday.  The Spud returns for the summer on May 26, and I set myself the challenge to have the living room done before she comes.  So, nothing like finishing in the 11th hour.

 

April 18, 2018

I am not kidding

by Janie Jones

This was the view from my living room window just last Sunday, April 15th:

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Between Sunday and Monday we got about a foot of snow, give or take.  It was nearly knee deep where it had drifted.

Thankfully, I had bought a nifty new electric snowblower a month ago.  It worked like a champ.  Now if only I could get out of my alley….

As much havoc as the snow creates for driving, I do so love the Great White North and it’s quirky weather.  All that snow is almost gone.  Today it hit 39 degrees F, tomorrow it’s supposed to be 50.  It’s a heat wave!!!  All my fellow Great White Northerners will be breaking out the short pants and flip-flops, I guarantee.

 

April 10, 2018

Bit on the ass by the cold, dark side of practicality

by Janie Jones

First the apology.  This is where I bitch about my life.  I figure I haven’t’ done that much lately, so you might have forgotten who the real Janie Jones is.

I really don’t want to go to work today.  I’d much rather stay home and make cheesecake or paint my living room.

Instead I have to go give diabetic drugs to mice and take photos of their nests.  Which, I admit, is better than the days when I have to overdose them on morphine and poke them in their feet, or harvest their organs.  But, in any event, it’s not at all the kind of thing one gets a spring in their step over.

I knew there was a reason I spent 5 years of my life and an obscene amount of money on going to college to get a science degree: to still not like to get up and go to work while only barely make enough to live on.

The other day I was watching Flea Market Flip on Hulu.  I watched someone spend $825 on an old wrought iron sewing machine stand painted orange and turned into a table with 4 rickety-ass looking orange chairs.  Who makes this kind of money where they can buy over-priced shit like this and not bat an eye?  What do they do for a living?  Seriously, I need to know what kind of soul crushing job I need to get so I can have that kind of disposable cash.  I mean, I already have a soul crushing job, I at least could get paid stupid amounts of money if I’m going to feel miserable every day anyway.

Let’s just say this.  I do understand that animal models are the most significant and accurate way to test some stuff that will truly better our medical knowledge and I do like having drugs and medical procedures that are vastly improved this past few decades.  However, as hypocritical as it may sound, I personally did not want to be the person in the trenches.  So while logically I accept the dark necessity, I am not handling it well emotionally.

Add to that the frustration of poor health and getting up every day to go to work is a challenge.

Add to that the challenge of knowing that I can’t just quit because decent paying jobs are very hard to come by, and as morally and emotionally wearing as my job is, I have no where else to go that will be enough to pay my bills.  One wants to be grateful for what one has, but damn, sometimes it’s tough.

I have been thinking a lot about getting my master’s degree so hopefully I can get out of the mouse lab.  But, my original plan hit a financial snag.  If I don’t come up with a new way to fund my degree I don’t know if I will be able to make a go of it.  What ever I do, I have to be very careful not to sink more money I don’t have into another degree that might end me up no better than I am now.

I kinda hate to be that person that says I told you so, but this is exactly the reason why I didn’t do traditional college when I was a traditional college age person.  High risk and low reward.  At least for people like me, college doesn’t pay.  I’m smart enough to aspire but not cleverly genius or curiously driven enough to really excel.

And you know what really sucks?  I finally am in a home I like and living in a town I like and have good friends.  But 5/7ths of my week is becoming so miserable I can’t enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Dammit.  I better get my ass moving or I’ll be late.

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2018

Before and After

by Janie Jones

Hello blog friends!  I have been meaning to write this post for a few days now, but various things kept getting in the way.  Anyway, this is now the part where I bombard you all with dodgy photos of my dining room re-do.

This is what it looked like the day I bought my house:

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Can you spot the Rupert?

That, my friends is emerald green carpet.  A lot of emerald green carpet.  All over the main floor of the house and stairs.  In its heyday it was probably a fairly nice medium to long pile.  It has seen, I’m pretty sure, at least 30 years of wear and was now matted down to the point of being nearly a Berber.  You could also tell where previous owners had furniture placed by the different fade marks.

You can’t much tell in the photo, but the baseboards and crown molding (original by the way) were smudged in more than one spot by previous ineptly executed paint jobs.  Furthermore, along the crown molding different color stains were used for different parts of the molding.

So very stylish indeed.  I am not even going to comment on the ugly drapes on the window which don’t match the ugly drapes on the patio door in the adjacent wall.

I borrowed some young burly-man might (two 20 something college guys of my acquaintance), filled a cooler with bottles of craft beer and had a carpet-tearing-up party.

Then my dining room looked like this:

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Yes my friends.  That is original 1 inch maple floor boards some yahoo had splattered white paint all over when the ceiling was glitter popcorned probably circa 1970, give or take decade.  Now, I’m no home reno expert.  Probably when I leave this house the next people will curse my decorating and remodeling choices.  But, I never understand why someone would do this to a beautiful hardwood floor.  Stain it, paint it or cover it, but don’t totally deface it.

Anyway.  Better this than nasty carpet.  This can be fixed.  And finally, last fall, it was transformed in to the beautiful butterfly it was waiting to be:

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As you can see, I actually had all the first floor floors done at the same time (except for the kitchen, which will be a much later project).  Aren’t they beautiful?

Except the massively annoying contractor who did the floors did not stain it the color I told him I wanted.  I gave him a half empty stain can of the same stain used upstairs that I wanted him to match so he had no excuse.  And he put up toe kicks in a totally different color stain from what he used on the floor (also not the color I wanted).

I would have made him re-do it all, but when I hired him at the end of September, I told him I wanted the job done by Thanksgiving so I could bring in furniture and decorate for the holidays.  He finished at 6pm on the day before Thanksgiving.  So, if I wanted it redone I would have had to either skip having a functional living room and dining room for the holidays or pack everything back up after the first of the year and deal with another round of dust and fumes and not being able to get to my kitchen or bathroom.  I could fill a month’s worth of blog posts complaining about contractors, let me tell you.

BUT.  I am trying to put that behind me.  Despite them not doing what I really wanted, the floors still look about a million times better than they did when they had that hideous old green carpet on them.  So, I am satisfied, if not tickled pink.

The dining room then sat basically empty except for a new rug and a card table with a mismatch of chairs.  I wanted to repaint the walls.  And after a long back and forth with myself, I also decided to just paint the baseboards and crown molding instead of trying to sand it down (to get rid of the old paint sploches) and re-stain it all to a matching color.  There are probably a lot of fixer-uppers out their rolling over in their graves when I say I painted 100 year old wood white.  I really felt bad doing it myself.  I normally think that is a sacrilege.  But it makes the room look so much lighter, brighter, cleaner and bigger.  So, as much as I felt naughty doing it, I really like the result.

The walls got a creamy not-quite-white-with-the-barest-hint-of-yellow paint.  Which again, I think is bright, light, clean and welcoming.  I really wanted a rich mossy color velvet drape, but I simply couldn’t find anything in my price range, so I settled on a pale grey.  Turns out, the pale grey looks more like aquamarine when it is dark.  So I almost sent them back.  But, in the end, they were such a good price, and I probably wouldn’t even be able to make drapes from raw fabric for less money, so they stayed.

Once the all the painting was done, I went to work on building china cabinets (which despite being very low budget I think they look pretty good) and refinishing my new budget bargain dining room table and chairs.

The table originally looked like this:

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Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.  It’s not very well made, but as anything I liked was at least $300 more and out of my budget, I decided to try a little cosmetic upgrade.  I didn’t want a white table base, and the country-esque look isn’t my style.  So off to the hardware store I went and for about $35 I did a faux mercury glass finish on the base and re-stained the table surface.

I used a new stain/poly product I’ve never worked with before, and I am not totally thrilled with the end result on the table surface.  It went on really gloopy and was thicker and stickier than other separate stains and polyurethanes I’ve used on projects in the past.  So, when it dried there was a lot of inconsistencies in the color finish and in the texture.  I don’t know if that is a product flaw or operator error due to inexperience.  But perhaps when the weather is nice I can take it outside and hit it with a super fine grit sandpaper and try again.  However, the faux mercury glass finish on the base really pleased me.  It’s delicate, so it may not hold up over time, but hopefully I won’t need to use this cheap-ass table for too may years anyway.

This is the end result:

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The final phase of the project was putting together the new chairs.  I have always wanted upholstered dining room chairs, but they were either out of my budget or totally impractical (as in when my daughter was young).  I found a really good deal I could get coupled with coupons on some grey velvet upholstered chairs.  The legs were wood and painted a really strange metallic color, but hey, I had extra stain, so I just lickity-split sanded and re-stained them to match the surface of the table.

Now, I have put together a lot of bargain basement furniture over the years of stretching every nickel to make a dime.  But I tell you, these chairs were a real bitch to put together.  The problem being you had to screw in the back piece to the base at a strange angle and you couldn’t see if the holes were lining up and the stupid Allen wrench was hard to turn in the tiny corner you were working in.  Gah.  Leif came upon me struggling to get them put together.  I was supposed to have him over for dinner and I really wanted to eat in my new dining room at my new table with the new chairs.  So he lent his hand.  It even took him an hour to screw in 24 bolts to put three chairs together.

But lo and behold.  It was finally all done:

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And, look at that!  The chair fabric is almost the same color as the drapes I thought about sending back!

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Hello Rupert.

 

I do still plan to do a few more things.  But I am out of money.  I absolutely hate the ceiling fan.  So eventually I want to get a new one.  Also, I want to put faux tin tiles on the ceiling to hide the glittery popcorn treatment.  And, I have extra drapes to transform into valances, which I will do at some point, but I still don’t have my sewing table put together so that last finishing touch can sit on the back burner.

Still, the room looks done and now I feel so very elegant.  Even with my cheap, low quality furniture.  I can sit in my living room and look across the way and think, “Gosh, when did I get so posh!”

Now I just have to keep up with vacuuming all the dog hair off the upholstery.

Thanks for visiting!

March 21, 2018

Pancakes for dessert, and for dinner, and for breakfast…

by Janie Jones

Recently, in one of my magazines, there was a recipe for buttermilk pancakes.  For some reason, it sounded particularly good.  So a few weeks ago when Leif was visiting I made some for breakfast.  We gobbled them up, they were really good.  So good I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Last Sunday I made another batch for my dinner, with strawberries, bananas and whip cream, even though it was just me.  The other day I had some of the leftovers with strawberries and chocolate ganache as a dessert when my sweet tooth was running rampant.  And this morning I had some as “pancake tacos” stuffed with sugar and blackberries on the way out the door.

Normally I’m not really that big a pancake fan.  But something about these, they are just, wow.