Some practical advice (for a change)
With Chris so busy and me off of school, I'm helping him out with his condo, acting as a little project manager. I've so far learned one very important lesson.
The last tenants didn't pay their rent or valet bills, so after some verbal and legal scuffling with them, they moved out while we were in the Galapagos. We already have new tenants, who are actually the old ones, that rented for a year before these non-payers.
These new tenants are nice, but whoa(!) the woman is high maintenance. We told them we'd have the place painted, which is pretty standard in between tenants. She wanted her own colors. We said that was fine. When she pulled swatches out of her purse and started in with what colors she wanted, for the ceilings and all. What we figured out we would do is Chris would pay for however much a NORMAL paint job would be, and they would be responsible for anything over that. I broke the news to the woman, thinking it was a really fair offer, and she went crazy. (She apologized later, blaming it on being Italian.) She was going on about a few little spots of blue on the ceiling, as evidence that the whole ceiling needed to be repainted. I'm just like, omg, that's what touching up is for. I had to sit there and think to myself, "How would Chris handle this?" because Chris is always so tactful and nice, whereas my instincts here were to tell the lady she needed a reality check. Then I said, chill, let's wait to see how much of a price difference we're talking about.
So the paint guy came and did an estimate. He told me that the place was in good shape and just needed some touching up. So what the condo needed
to be ready for new tenants would cost, oh, $2,000. What this woman wanted would cost between $5-6,000. When Chris called to see if he could get the price down, the guy said the price may actually run close to $7,000. We were so
not paying an extra $5,000 for a paint job.
Long story short(ish), these tenants know a painter down here who said he could easily do it for $4,500. Anything over that, the tenants will be responsible for the cost.
So we told the painter who came in to do the estimate that we found someone else to do it for $4,500. He matched the price. Yes, his estimate went from $5-7k down to $4,500 when it became a matter of not getting the job. Insane, right?
I knew it was ideal to get multiple bids for jobs like this, but I didn't realize how much
of a difference it would make. We have guys coming in to do the marble on Monday, but that will be the last job we have scheduled without getting 2-3 bids for the job.
I like this pic Chris shot
Aaaaand... pics are going up.
And oh my god, what a trip.
I think this scene will sum up much of my trip:
We were at Wolf (or was it Darwin?), a very remote island of the Galapagos. Unless you are on a dedicated dive boat, you typically do not visit Wolf or Darwin as they are located far, far away from the central islands. Wolf has been called the best dive site in the whole world, which is why it's worth the trip for divers. It's also where we would see them if we were going to see whale sharks at all on the trip.
Unfortunately, I was sick. I had been since basically the second day of the trip. I managed the first-day checkout dive and a dive on the second day after taking FOREVER to descend because my ears wouldn't clear. After that, my ears wouldn't clear at all. Although I wasn't congested, my ears apparently were.
I left the cabin at Wolf and Darwin only to eat, and sometimes not even that. I felt horrible physically and emotionally was incredibly depressed. But I had to leave long enough to let the guy clean our cabin at least, so as the other people suited up for a dive, I took some tea up to the sundeck.
There were dolphins everywhere in the water. Everywhere. It was honestly as if someone had yelled, "Cue the dolphins!" It seemed that there were hundreds, jumping out of the water, making their little half-circles.
Both Wolf and Darwin are just ALIVE with birds. The only way I can compare it to you is that there are so many birds overhead that it looks like you're at a landfill. Only they are boobies and frigatebirds and tropicbids and terns, not just turkey vultures.
So that day, with birds flying overhead and the water before me alive with dolphins, the day just starting, I stood and I cried. Sobbed. The prettier the scene got, the more it overwhelmed me, the harder I cried. I was there, at this magically beautiful place, and I was too sick to enjoy it. As the divers made their way out to the water in their dinghies, I hobbled back to my cabin and spent the day watching movies (four that day) while everyone else swam with dolphins and turtles and hammerheads. Day slater, I saw a video of one of the dives, of a pod of dolphins swimming, and asked Chris, "Did you see that?" "Umm, yeah," he answered. I started crying all over again.
That pretty much sums up most of my trip.
I felt well enough to snorkel one of the days, so I saw some turtles and paired-up bigeye jacks and hammerheads from far above, and a funny pair of flounders. By Friday my ears were better, so actually got to dive, coughing furiously underwater while watching the fish and turtles. I did a night dive and saw lots of big jawfish and tiny scorpionfish. Saturday I dove Gordon's Rocks, where the current is so strong that it carries you away the second you let go of the rocks. There I saw some hammerheads.
Friday and Saturday we actually left the boat a little, which was good. The land stuff was awesome.
To get me to stop crying, Chris told me that we could come back again next year. It didn't get me to stop crying, but it did make me feel better; at least although this trip was a disaster, I have something to look forward to. So next year we'll go back and stay on an island and do some land tours. Being on land there made me so happy.
Now I'm sick again. Chris started to get sick on Sunday, and I started feeling bad yesterday. What a joke!
Hey, at least Maggie was happy to see us when we got home - video here
while driving to the airport, we received word that our flight was cancelled. not delayed, cancelled.
we could try tomorrow night again, but that's pushing it... if something happened with that
flight, we'd be screwed trying to get from guayaquil to galapagos.
so instead we're flying to lima, peru tonight. staying in the airport for 6 hours, then flying out to guayaquil to arrive at noon.
what a wonderful, wonderful development. (please note sarcasm.)
Look what came in the mail yesterday.
chris is sick. quite sick. when he talks, you can't really hear him.
and we're leaving for galapagos tomorrow! :( poor guy.
also, this probably means that i'll be getting sick too. my throat felt a bit funny today. eeeh. i'm sucking on cold-eez. let's hope it does SOMETHING.
Fotos del black tie
I didn't get many, but here are a few.
First, here are the contents of Chris's wallet out to dry. On the recount of the disastrous dinghy ride, I forgot to mention that Chris forgot his wallet in his back pocket when we got in the dinghy. With the amount of water we took on, it's no surprise the wallet got soaked. Chris's wallet that evening was a ziploc bag. Classy! :)
Ellie sniffing the purse I take to these formal events. He's inside all the time now! Sadly, if he's not under the bed, he's typically on this spot... ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER! Ah well...
At the black tie, I tried like five times to get a nice picture of us, but every time it came out blurry. They would've been nice pictures, too...
This is the only one that wasn't blurry. Good thing it's a keeper! Seriously, how cute is Chris?
A lady at our table (who was bidding $25,000 for a dinner!) saw me struggling so took our picture for us. :)
The one pic I have left to take is of the program/auction paddle. It says "STACIE C***" (Chris's last name) on it. They got both my names wrong!
Oh! We won something! In the silent auction... A group of three toys. One I'm keeping here for whoever (and Idalia's kid; the lady who cleans brings her 3-year-old) to play with; one I'm giving to Kyle, and one I'm giving to Macy for her birthday. Macy's toy was the big draw - a huge lego-type playset with DORA AND DIEGO!
Unrelated: The dogs ripped apart the cats' toy, so I stitched it up (this happens all the time). But before I did that, I stuffed it full of catnip. LOTS of catnip. The cats very much approve. You can tell by the way they try to disembowel it, as demonstrated here by Kitten.
well, i'll be...
i got the good news that my friend bethy and her husband are coming to south florida in july - and they'll be staying here! i haven't seen bethy since they were here in 2005, and that was just briefly, so this will be awesome.we'll have to try to repeat this scene at some point :)
hopefully the water will be calm at least one of the weekends that they are here and we can take the boat over to the bahamas. failing that, we can tow the boat down to key west and visit some of the islands off of there. should be cool. :)
i'm really glad to be living somewhere that i can comfortably have guests.
and then on top of this news
, today i get an email from my sister saying my niece does
want to come visit. it won't be during my have-nothing-to-do time since she would like to come after her birthday, but my one-class schedule for the summer won't be so bad. i am trying to find prices for her now, and if i can am going to arrange it so amanda can fly back with chris & i when we go to visit. yaaaaay! :)
look! a real smile! i think her mom took this picture last year on her birthday.
so anyway, good news all-around.
AND, these folks who are going to rent the condo don't want the furniture in it... so i'm getting a new bedroom set! chris bought a new one when he moved out of there, for whoever was renting it, and it's nice. i've been wanting a new one - the one in there now is very uhh.. well, his friend got rid of it because his
girlfriend didn't like it, if that tells you anything. we started looking at new ones online, but this solves that problem. AND, we get a whole big-empty-room full of furniture (couch, loveseat, chair, rug, TV, etc.) so now we'll have TWO living rooms, which is kinda funny. i'll have to take before & afters, because the place is going to look a lot different. we're switching out the dining room furniture, since chris likes the condo stuff better, etc.
Getting a little excited now...
Here is the boat we are going off of -- link
And this is an account of a trip aboard, by photographer Stephen Frink -- link
. Seems to be the same stops, although not in the same order; I don't think we're waiting until the end to do Wolf & Darwin. I could look at the intinerary, but then I'd have to reach over and turn on the light, and that's just too much trouble.
Wheeeeee! :) :) :)
i've had to stop by chris's condo a number of times in the past week. i have the security swipe and i have the PIN code to give to the security guard so they'll let me through the gate and all, but i am so shell-shocked from my old condo building -- they are such militants, i tell you -- that i am nervous they're going to question and hassle me. so, before i go driving through the gate, i switch a little band i wear around my right-hand ring finger over to my left. chris suggested it before -- "just tell 'em you're my wife." so if they give me a hard time and question why i am going in, i would just say, "i'm dr. XXXX's wife" and they would let me through.
after i left today, i was thinking how weird the ring felt on my left-hand finger. i don't even notice it on my right, but it was uncomfortable over on the other hand. and i realized why -- my whole life, i have never worn a ring on that finger. i hadn't yet switched it back over, and i was thinking, "well, what's the big deal? it's just a ring," and thought i'd switch it back over at my leisure. mind you, one of my unmarried teachers would wear different rings, on different fingers, all the time -- including her "wedding" finger.
that mindset lasted about 10 seconds, at which point it felt really wrong to be wearing a ring on that finger, considering i'm not married, and while driving i switched it back over.
i guess it's not all that surprising that the idea of a wedding ring is a powerful one. i guess i'm just a little surprised at how powerful.
We tried to go diving off the dinghy on Saturday
Whee, the fun of the black tie
I think there's something wrong with this picture.
Tomorrow night we got a black tie to go to. Wheeee. I should think that I would enjoy
going out and buying a pretty new dress, but dress shopping has become, like, my absolute least favorite thing to do. So I crossed my fingers and hoped that the dress I wore last year to a different one would still fit and look fit for public consumption. It zipped, I didn't look too horrible, so I am excusing myself from the dress shopping. Now I just gotta go buy some shoes since I left one-half of my most fabulous dressy shoes in our San Francisco hotel room. Grr.
Most chicks like to shop, don't they? :) I will still enjoy finding a sparkly pair of earrings, I hope.
blah blah blah blah
- i'm frustrated. i have a whole bunch of classes left to take, but for summer i can only get 1 class in. for fall, i would like to take 5, but only 3 work out with a schedule. i tried to get into a 4th and it restricted me from signing up. an advisor lifted the restriction for me, but by that time that class had filled up. VERY FRUSTRATING. going to meet with an advisor next week to see if they can get me into 1-2 closed classes.grades
- they came in! A, A, A-, B+, B. not bad, eh? it ain't the straight A's that i became accustomed to at bcc, but i'll take it. :)drugs
- i ran out of topamax. long story, involving insurance company f-ups and the fact that will cost me over $300 to fill it. i shouldn't have stopped taking it, but now that i did... i haven't had any headaches anyhow. i even took the dogs for a run today, a long one, and it was HOT, and i'm fine. even on topamax, that used to give me a headache sometimes. so now... do i get a refill? or just hope this continues? after i forgot my topamax last year when we went to the bahamas, i was able to figure out that it stays in your system for about a week, so by now it should be out... i like the idea of staying off it, but i also don't want headaches in the galapagos, so it's a gamble. what to do?elliot cat
- this is the cat i adopted when he was 6 months old. he was a feral until they caught him at 2 months old. he's a real love, but has a tendency to regress into his semi-feral state when i move him. for months here, i would have to CATCH ellie to get him to come in. he was fine after i started petting him, but getting that first pet in was always a challenge. now, for the past month or so, he's been coming in A LOT. in the past couple of weeks, he's hardly gone out at all. once in a while, when he did, i just have to wait a little whole then open the garage door and there he is, waiting to come back in. he hasn't left the house today or yesterday at all. he's just happy to sleep under the bed all day and then come sit out on the kitchen countertop at night. he's sitting on the bed right now with me and gretchen. it's a relief, but it's funny that he has become such an inside cat, just like kitten. and he's better with the dogs already! :)poop
- my niece macy got the bucket o' goodies. i know this because i got a message the other evening on my voicemail that said: "I POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPED!" then a pause, then a, "I GOING TO TAKE OUT OF THE BOX!" alrighty then! enjoy, girly. :)movies
- i've actually watched 2 this week! i usually go months in between movies... i saw baby mama
and thought it was adorable. i LOVE tina fey. she's smart, funny, cute, and inspirational - i saw her acting an extra on an old episode of SNL
, before she lost something like 40 lbs. big difference, and now she's hot! and last night, on PPV, that dan in real life
movie with steve carell. it was sweet! the weirdest thing was that most of the cast members had been on law & order
episodes. i kept recognizing them. "hey, that was that dude who played the bad actor with the bad english accent on criminal intent! ... hey, that was the rich lady who killed her mom!" i think i watch too much law & order
. and dian weist was actually a regular cast member! it's really weird.
o-kay, enough babbling for now. :)
We let Patty take Gretchen or Sebastian home with her for a week, every other week. That means, we have both dogs for 2 weeks of the month, and the other 2 we just have one or the other.
But the times when there is no Gretchey and no Sebastian at Patty's house, Buddy is the only dog in the house. And since Patty doesn't yet have the place doggy-friendly, like our place is, and Buddy is totally not trustworthy in the house alone, he has to be crated all day.
I stop by when I can to bust Buddy out of his little jail, and when I do, Buddy goes APESHIT. Seriously. He barks and howls and always gets a little doggy hard-on. Every time. Even after I let him out of the crate, he keeps howling and barking at me. I have to bring the PowerShot sometime so I can get a little video of it.
At around 3 today, I picked Buddy up to bring him home for the night. He went CRAZY. Even after I PICKED HIM UP, he kept howling and barking. He was flailing around in my arms, arching his back, howling... I reported the scene to Chris as, "He looked like he was having a seizure." Seriously.
Now tonight, for whatever reason, Gretchey keeps barking at him when he comes in the crate from outside, so he turns right around and goes back outside and stares at me. When I realized what happened, I ran over and opened the door and discovered he had been crying. Big ol' wet tears all over his face. So now he's sleeping on my lap.
I hope Patty gets him a friend soon.
I guess it could be worse...
Recently I posted something about my mom. See my last entry (I think).
Anyway, today I was talking to my sister Kamille. She told me that our sister Kelli was at her house this weekend, and Kelli relayed the fact that her husband Chris had to wake her out of a nightmare a few nights before. Kelli tends to talk in her sleep, so I'm guessing she was talking and thrashing about.
Apparently she was having a dream that she was strangling our mother.
I wonder what kind of card Kelli's
going to buy for her.
It's that time of year again...
The time to pick out a Mother's Day card.
I went over to the grocery store earlier to buy my first copy of the Sunday New York Times
in months (I think today I officially entered the realm of "too much free time"), and I figured I should probably get a card since Mother's Day is coming up in a mere week.
Here's the dilemma: None of the cards really apply. There are the "Thank you for being my best friend" variety of cards.. umm, no. There are the "Thank you for being such a great mom" types... uhh, that's a "no" too. "You were always there for me." No. There are the "You were the best when I was growing up" types of cards... uhhhhh, yeah, no. So my task is to find a card that isn't dishonest
, but isn't so devoid of feeling that it makes her feel bad. After all, I'm 30. It's been a long time since childhood, so I try to not be angry at what a disinterested mother she was, or how much she yelled. These days, we don't talk much, but when we do, she's nice to me. She hopes good things for me.
I eventually found a card that had Piglet from Pooh on it, and it said to enjoy her day, hoping it was full of little pleasures or something. That works.
The whole time I was browsing through and rejecting cards, I was thinking how I hope my kids don't find it this hard to pick out a Mother's Day card. I hope I'm the kind of mom that inspires the mush.
Woo! Grades are coming in...
I got two back so far, and both are A's! (Lit Theory and Educational Theory)
Lit Theory kicked my ass. I did really well on the tests and stuff, but some of the material was hard.
Look up writing by Lacan and Derrida to see what I mean.
This leaves Shakespeare, Advanced Exposition, and Introduction to TESOL. I'm guessing only one of those will be an A... but hopefully I at least pull B's in the other two.
Anyway, good news! I'd be happy with mostly A's with a couple of other letters mixed in. Let's just wait and see... I was always late to my Shakespeare class (9 a.m.), so hopefully she doesn't kill me for that. And my Exposition teacher was really hard. A lot of people did stuff for that class that he considered so bad he wouldn't even give it a grade. He was tough. I'll see soon enough, I guess...
Today we went to Oleta State Recreational Area (or whatever) to kayak. I took the little point & shoot with and was able to snap just a few pictures.
We paddled over to an island, which was crazy. All these people were anchored there, drinking, playing with their dogs, listening to music. There was a dude playing the guitar and singing who had a mic and speakers and everything. Seems strange, on this island.
Chris was pointing out a dog for me that was floating around with its owner. Lots of dogs there, running around, all wet, just happy as hell. Very cute. :)
We were out for a few hours. On our way back in, we took a detour through the mangroves. Chris saw a manatee - twice! - but I was too busy taking pictures to stay caught up with him, so I missed them. He saw one yesterday off the boat, too, but I didn't go along, so I missed that one too.
The mangroves were gorgeous. I love it. It was just this pretty and peaceful in person, too.
I asked my silly boy to smile for me when I caught the reflection of the kayaks in his glasses. This is the smile I got. :p
Goofball. So anyway, today was nice. Then we came home to get cleaned up and headed off to Benihana for dinner. It was goooood, and I was kickin' myself for not bringing my camera. I could've gotten some non-puggle pictures!
Okay, now it's late so I'm going to go to sleeeeep.
We went kayaking today...
Going to kill the cat.
Okay, now she has apparently taken to peeing on the living room rug. Twice in two days.
What the hell am I supposed to do about this one? I think the cat is banned from the house, except for when I am in a room where she can lay and snuggle with me and is under my watchful eye so she won't pee on anything. I got home today and SMELLED THE PEE while on the phone with Chris, and it pissed me off (no pun intended) so bad that I could barely talk anymore I was so grumpy. There's just no resolution for this one.
The worst part is that we were teaching the cats to use the doggy doors to get in and out. If she's stuck outside except for when we want her in, we have to put the doors on lockdown. Which means Ellie will probably continue to shred our screens. :~(
I think I'm going to cry.