Some Like It Pink

I had pulled up to Anthony’s house around this time last year, notebook in hand.  The task of the day was to talk to Anthony about paint colors for his home.  Drywall was almost finished and the volunteers would be moving onto painting within the next few weeks so choosing paint colors would be of paramount importance.

Anthony is 87, although you would never guess it; he’s as sharp as a tack.  He has opinions and is well read about everything from the Fair Tax to Obama.  So I was certain he would have opinions about what color he would want to paint his house.  As usual, Anthony was inside chatting with the week’s volunteers.  Anthony spends most of his days inside with the volunteers.  While he isn’t able to actually participate in any of the ensuing tasks, he has plenty of energy to chat and tell story upon story.  And the volunteers love it.  This particular day was no different.

After cornering Anthony, I begin by asking him if he’s had any thoughts about painting.  “Well, actually I have been thinking…”  Anthony has owned his house since 1955.  He proceeds to tell me that in the 50+ of his living there, he has never painted over the original color, which was described as “funeral gray”.  “I’d like to do something a little more cheerful.”  When asked what colors he found cheerful: “Well, now don’t think I’m crazy, but I just keep coming back to pink.”  Pink.  Huh.  Not what I was expecting from an 87 year old man.

My color theory from college came rushing back.  Pink can be a pretty overwhelming color.  It actually can be an agitator.  And to top it off, we had already chosen the cabinet and floor color which was going to be oak.  Oak and pink don’t really mesh.  Does anything mesh with pink?  Luckily, Anthony had also mentioned that perhaps orange could be a good second choice.  So off to Home Depot I go to find some paint samples.

A few days later finds me back at Anthony’s house.  I’ve gotten several samples for him to choose from.  I have successfully talked him out of painting the entire house pink.  We choose an orange for the main space, green and blue for the bedrooms, all in very bold, yet cheerful, hues.  The bathroom has yet to be chosen.  Anthony doesn’t seem too excited about any suggestions.  Finally I ask him, “Anthony, if you could paint it any color, what would it be?”  “How about pink?!”

Back to Home Depot.  I return with every sample of pink they have.  It takes Anthony all of 25 seconds to choose the most bold, intense pink in the lot.  Some may call it Pepto Bismal.  Heck, the man’s 87.  If he wants a pink bathroom, he’s going to get a pink bathroom.

A couple weeks later, painting ensues.  Day 4 the team has moved onto the bathroom.  Pepto Bismal Pink is going up.  Anthony is making his daily check-in on the process.  He walks into the bathroom, looks around and exclaims “Now that’s the cat’s meow!”  The color is a success.

Anthony now has, by far, the most colorful house we have completed.  If it is anything, it’s cheerful and bright.  And almost everyone who visits finds the pink bathroom the highlight.


Toilets for Wally

“Wally needs toilets” Jeff tells me.  “The plumber is at the job right now and needs toilets to install.”  By the way he phrases it, I know it’s going to be my job to procure them.  Oh dear.  “And they need to be elongated.”  Elongated?  What the heck does that mean?  This, I realize, will not be a simple trip to Home Depot.

Wally is one of our very last rebuild homeowners.  He is probably one of the most resourceful people I’ve ever met.  Half of his house has been rebuilt with what I call “Wally Bartering”.  He has literally bartered he way through this rebuild process getting deals on everything from his windows to his cabinets.  Apparently, though, toilets are now in my department.

I have talked Jeff into calling Home Depot ahead of time and having the Pro Desk pull my needed toilets, as I’m still unsure what ‘elongated’ is referring to.  He has assured me that the said elongated toilets will be ready and waiting for me to pick up.  They will probably already be charged to our account.  Simple.  I’m not convinced.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about New Orleans culture, it’s that customer service is not a goal many establishments strive to achieve.  I once stood in the mini blinds isle at Home Depot for 40 minutes, pushing the customer service call button every 5 minutes before I was assisted only to be told they didn’t have what I needed.  No matter, off to Home Depot I go for my toilets… Wally and Wally’s plumber cannot be kept waiting.

I pull up to our local Home Depot and park under the customer pickup awning fully expecting someone to yell “hey, you can’t park there!”  I’m in luck, either nobody cares or nobody sees my parking location and I make my way to the Pro Desk.

Jeff has spoken to a Mr. Charlie on the phone who has taken our toilet order.  Charlie however has just left for lunch.  Drat.  I’m now left dealing with Charlie’s coworker who has not a clue about my toilet order.  “Eh?  Toilets?  What’s the name?  I don’t have an order for any toilets.”  I knew it.  I give him Jeff’s name, the churches name and finally a phone number.  Nothing.  Coworker makes a call.  The person at the other end of the line doesn’t know anything about my toilets either.

It’s at this point that Mr. Coworker decides to take a scan of the items awaiting pick-up.  There, standing proudly to the left, are my toilets.  However there seems to be a small problem.  Instead of pulling just two toilets, someone has pulled two pallets of toilets.  That’s a lot of toilets… like 16.  “This is what I ordered,” I tell Coworker, “but I only needed two, not two pallets.”  Heaven forbid he just pull two off for me, that would be too simple; it’s back behind the desk to make a phone call to Charlie.  Charlie doesn’t answer.

Beep…beep…beep.  A fork lift is coming down the side isle with a flag man walking in front of it waving his little orange flags, a process I’ve always found comical.  Do you really need a flag man to notify you that a beeping forklift is coming your way and you need to move?  I recognize the driver as Santos, a higher up at the Pro Desk that knows Jeff.  “Hey Santos, know anything about toilets for the Vineyard?” Coworker yells above the din.  Santos toodles by on the fork lift yelling out to just take two off the pallets.  Brilliant.  Apparently, Santos is in the loop on the toilets.  “Jeff sending you to do his dirty work now?  Heheh.”  Yeah.  Funny.

After twenty minutes, I have paid for my toilets.  Coworker is looking at me with a look of ‘what are you waiting for’ on his face.  “Could someone help me load those up?” I have to ask.  Like I look like the type of girl that can sling a toilet around.  Geez.  Coworker #2, who looks less than thrilled to be toting my toilets, is recruited to assist me.  Off we go.  Customer service at it’s finest.

Toilets are now loaded into the truck and I’m off to Wally’s.  Hopefully the plumber is thankful for the elongated toilets he is about to have the pleasure of installing on this fine day.

Washeteria Saturday

Personally, I hate doing laundry.  In Colorado, I was able to go 6 weeks without doing laundry.  When I married Jeff, laundry day got pared down to once a month as he didn’t understand my mounds and piles.  To keep the peace, I sacrificed two weeks and did my laundry once a month.  In a camper you have to do laundry every week.  There’s no getting around it.  For one, you don’t have enough space for the dirty clothes; for two, I couldn’t bring my 6 week supply of underwear with me so once a week laundry is now the standard.

For the past 18 months, we’ve been able to use a washer/dryer provided on-site.  That is now gone.  So Saturday found Jeff and I at the local Washeteria, AKA laundromat.

I had successfully remembered to get a roll of quarters from the bank the previous Thursday, an accomplishment I was quite proud of.  After scoping out several washeterias that looked a bit too geto to attempt patronage at, we find “The Laundry Center”.  While still a little geto, it appears to be the least threatening option available; they have a nice sign at least.  Quarters in hand, we bravely ensue on our task.

Upon entering, my first realization is Saturday may not be the best day to attempt laundry at a washeteria.  Everyone and their brother appears to be there.  Jeff has successfully scoped out three washers and I’m instructed to stand guard while he retrieves our baskets from the truck.  While on guard duty I begin to observe our surroundings.  Washing machines: while front loading, they appear quite small.  I’m not sure our loads will fit in them.  Across the way are larger washers, perhaps those will work; I’ll need to claim one for myself soon.  Next, signage: all are in Spanish, unfortunately without English interpretation.  One of particular interest seems to be saying that you only need to use 1/4 of the amount of detergent in the machines.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell if they mean for powder detergent or liquid. The graphic looks like the powder scoop so I decide to ignore the warning.  Finally, I notice prices.  Holy smokes!  Prices have inflated a bit since 1999, which was the last year I actually had to use a laundromat.  A small washer is $2.25; Large washers $3.00.  Dryers are $1.00 for 20 minutes.  My $10 in quarters are not going to cut it.

I then realize quarters are not going to cut anything at this place anyway.  Everything is card operated.  The card costs you an initial $2.00.  From there you can load money (dollar bills only).  Great.

Jeff is sent to retrieve the said card with the remaining $8.00 of our money loaded onto it.  I begin loading the first basket into our staked out washers.  Whites fit.  Whoowhoo.  However, I quickly realize our other two loads will not.  I spot an available $3.00 washer.  I pounce.  Light colors taken care of.  Unfortunately, darks are our largest load.  Another $3.00 washer is located on the other side of the washeteria.  I try with everything in me to stuff everything in.  No success.  Another $3.00 machine must be procured.

Finally, with all of our loads washing, we have used up our $8.00 and then some.  Drying still needs to be done.  It’s at this point I begin to get stressed out.  There’s no place to sit, annoying cartoons are playing on the TV and a bunch of languages are being spoken that I can’t understand, English included.  AND washing three loads of laundry is going to cost us close to $20.00.  At this point, Jeff decides it’s a good time to head to PetCo with the pooch.  I’m left to fend for myself.

Washers end their spin cycles and I begin the transfer process to dryers.  After 3 trips to the money card loading station, two dryer transfers to conserve my 20 minute cycles and a fight for a wheeled cart, our laundry is finished.  We have survived the wilds of the washeteria with only minor scrapes and bruises… mostly to our pocketbook.

On the way home, I’ve calculated that two months of laundry at the washeteria would buy us our very own washing machine.  Sheesh.

One of Those Days… Part 3

The saga of Monday still continues…

With Puppy somewhat cleaner and sleeping in a box retrieved from the dumpster, Jeff and I sit down to discuss our find. Of course we need to try to see if he belongs to someone. But he’s so stinking cute. “I’ve always wanted a dog” is a comment coming from Jeff. Maybe if he really is a stray, we can keep him. Oh, but Puppy is going to get big… really big. You can tell. Puppy will probably turn into a small pony by the time he’s done growing; with pony sized hairs falling off him all the time. But you don’t think about that when you look at a puppy. That’s how they suck you in.

It’s at this point the lights start to flicker. First they surge, then they dim. Jeff peers through the blinds and I see a bluish green glow and then there is a small explosion. My first thought: The camper is going to explode and we’re going to die. My second thought: The FEMA trailer 7 feet away is going to explode and we’re going to die. My third thought: New Orleans is being air-raided and we’re going to die. Why all these morbid, completely fanatical thoughts I don’t know, but after the small explosion the lights go out and everything is dark.

I realize we are not going to die, explode or be taken over. This is some relief to me as we light a couple candles. Jeff reports that he saw a transformer several hundred yards away explode in a magnificent array of sparks and flashes. Hmmm, interesting. There isn’t much more we can do now, since there’s no electricity and candles don’t give much in the way of task lighting. So to bed we go.

Snuggled under the eight layers of blankets I find myself thinking “What is this; a sitcom? Who has these types of days?” It’s kind of exciting. A baby, a puppy and now an explosion and blackout… does it get much better than this??

I start to drift off to sleep only to be started awake by the heart wrenching whimper of Puppy. Jeff gets up to check on him. Oh boy. This will go on for the rest of the night. It really has been one of those days.

One of Those Days… Part 2

Monday continues…

I have spent the day getting used to the idea that my growing belly is actually going to be a little girl with her own personality, likes and dislikes. I wonder who she is. This I thought would be the rest of my day, getting used to the idea of a little person being formed and wondering about her. Jeff and I would excitedly discuss our new discovery into the night. This, I thought, would be my day. Until dinner.

Jeff has been so kind as to volunteer to empty the sewer tank on the camper. This is usually my job and I have already taken care of the nasty part, draining the actual sewer, but you then have to refill it a bit with water. I, unfortunately, left the water running for about 30 minutes too long and it needs to be drained back down to a suitable level. Jeff heads outside to pull the plug. My handy-dandy walkie-talkie phone buzzes: “Look outside and see what I’ve found!” I look out the window and see Jeff on his hands and knees playing with, of all things, a puppy. Not just any puppy, but the kind of puppy that still has no coordination, is little and fuzzy. Maybe 4-6 weeks old. The kind that steals your heart. Of course I rush outside to take part as well, all baby thoughts forgotten.

It’s cold outside and what else can you do with a wiggly little puppy but bring it inside. This is mistake #1… the invitation. Puppy comes inside. Now what? Maybe he’s hungry. I decide the only suitable item in the camper for Puppy is 2% milk. He drinks two bowl fulls. Now with full belly and a warm body he gets sleepy and falls asleep. Where did Puppy come from? He has no collar or tags. There are wild dogs that live in the marshland on two sides of us… perhaps he’s from a litter of wild puppies. That’s the most exciting explanation and the one we choose to go with. It’s at this point we notice the bugs. Fleas to be specific.

If you are not an expert on fleas, as I was not, here’s some insight: fleas like warm, humid climates… like Louisiana. Thus our problem. I realized the reason I am not an expert on fleas, nor have I had any previous contact with them, is because I have lived only in dry, arid climates where it gets cold.  Apparently, not ideal flea conditions. We decide we can’t keep Puppy inside with fleas running all over him, so Jeff heads to PetCo. $22.69 later, we have flea shampoo and puppy kibble as I have researched via Google that 2% milk is not suitable for Puppy. This is mistake #2… investment.

Puppy bath time ensues. Bath time is held in our itty-bitty bathroom that consists of a tiny tub/ shower and a tiny toilet. Only one person can fit at a time and since we decide the flea chemicals wouldn’t be good for me to touch, Jeff begins the bathing process. I, in turn, become the videographer. The directions say to wet Puppy thoroughly and then get a good lather going. Puppy does not like being wet or lathered. You would think we were performing Chinese torture on the little guy with all the yelping going. He tries to escape twice and then decides to just stand there and take it, shaking violently and making the most horrendous sound. Puppy is sure dirty. By the time rinsing comes, the water is black. Hopefully fleas are dead.

Puppy is looking pretty pathetic at this point…wet, shivering and whimpering. He falls asleep in Jeff’s arms. It’s probably been a rough day.

The thought on both our minds… maybe we can keep him? Mistake #3… deliberation.

One of Those Days…Part 1

Monday started out with anticipation right from the get-go.  You know the kind… you wake up with little butterflies in your stomach itching for the day to progress.  To set the scene, I have just gotten back to New Orleans from my three week Christmas vacation to the “North”; it’s my first day in my new role of being semi-unemployed… and still living in a camper.  (Spending the whole day in a 200 sq ft space is not my idea of an exciting life).

It was also the day of our big ultrasound… the one where you find out the sex of the baby and if it’s developing as it should.   As this pregnancy was not something I was expecting, it’s taken a while for me to become intrigued with the idea of being a parent, so finding out if I will be the mother of a boy or girl was a big deal.  Perhaps it will help me bond with the baby is my thought.

If you have never had the opportunity to visit an OBGYN office while pregnant, here’s the biggest thing to remember… you have to pee in a cup EVERY TIME.  I hate peeing in a cup.  The pressure to preform like that on demand just gets to me; I freeze up and I can’t go.  And what if you miss?   It’s not like you can really see what’s going on down there.  Sample gone, literally down the toilet, not be be recovered for some unknown period of time.  And then the humiliation of having to come out empty handed.  It’s enough to cause someone a stress ulcer.  Anyway, all this I learned after the first visit, during which I wasn’t aware of the peeing-in-the-cup requirement.  I had dutifully used the restroom prior to the appointment and as such, had nothing left to give.  Sitting in the restroom trying to convince yourself to go when you can’t is no fun… especially when you know they are waiting for you on the other side.  That, I decided, would never happen again.  At each proceeding appointment, I’ve made it a point to drink 1 whole bottle of water immediately before the appointment so I’ll be good and ready when the time comes.  This process has worked well thus far.  Until Monday.

I have dutifully finished my bottle of water and am waiting for my name to be called.  “Hirschoff!”… Uhh, usually they call “Janell” so I’m thrown off for a minute but then realize, Hey, that’s me!  I head through the door anticipating the request for the said sample.  But no… alas they have changed things up on me.  Instead of heading to the standard exam room, they are going to do the ultrasound first.  Oh no is my thought.  I have a bladder full of sample that I’m not about to give up without request.  So off to the ultrasound we go, full bladder and all.

Again, if you’ve never been through this experience, here’s the deal.  They like to get good pictures of all the parts of the baby.  Which means that if the baby isn’t positioned well, they poke and prod at it to get it to move.  Unfortunately, my little tike apparently doesn’t like to have it’s picture taken because there was lots of poking and proding going on.  Geez people!  My bladder has already been squished down to the size of a walnut because of a growing baby and now there’s poking going on.  Walnut sized bladders, 1 whole bottle of water, a wiggly baby and poking do not mix well together.  I’m trying to focus on what the lady is saying but most of my concentration is taken up with focusing on keeping my bladder contents in place.  Besides, nothing on the screen resembles anything recognizable to me.  “Here’s the liver”  “Here’s the kidney”  “Here’s it’s legs”.  I see nothing but gray and black blobs that look nothing like legs, arms or kidneys.  Had she scanned a bit more to the left, I’m fairly certain she would have seen my bladder bursting at the seams, about to explode.  Alarms would have gone off and she would have had some mercy on me.   Not the case, but apparently though everything is fine with the baby.  It’s perfect they tell us.

The ultra sound ends and it’s off the the routine exam room.  Finally, relief is in sight.  At this point I could probably give five samples if I’d been asked.  Only one is required, but I use the restroom 3 times before leaving the office.  How embarrassing.

Thus the start of my day.

And in case you’re wondering… they say it’s a girl 🙂