Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the student population

The students are back! They've been coming back for a week or so now, with today being the biggest day for move-ins. We've heard about what this does to the area, but we're just beginning to experience it. For instance, we've heard to be careful and watch out for oblivious pedestrians and confused drivers that don't yet understand the roads and the one-ways and just generally drive like 18 year-olds do.

I've seen a car accident every day since Friday, and before Friday I may have seen one or two in the whole time we've lived here. Yesterday, I think we saw three in the span of 2 miles on the way home from Sam's Club. This is only on the outskirts of town, too- west of 37!! We're not venturing downtown proper for a while (we meaning the family, Eric has to go to campus) as we've heard it becomes fairly gridlocked. It'll be fun to see how this all changes the area as we moved in during Bloomington's sleepy summer. Eric is actually taping the big move-in today; I'm excited to hear all about it when he gets home.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

google calendar

So a new perk of Eric's job is he gets to be the second person to be trained to run the jumbo tron that displays cheers and jeers at football and basketball games! He's going to get to go to all the home games and get fed and paid to do it!! woo-hoo!! I think he may even become a college sports fan with all this game attendance.

The weird schedule this will result in- he'll take time off during the day on other M-F days- is really not an issue for us since I'm home with the boys. The problem is that this new job this is really exploding into the most erratic schedule ever. I can't figure out what day of the week it is! I rely heavily on my wall calendars as a visual reference of what day it is and what our plans are as is; this is becoming too much to keep straight in my head. So we came up with a fun new technological solution! Google calendar, for the family that needs to coordinate their schedules but doesn't use Microsoft Outlook. He can see the days he needs to be sure to off and available, and I can check it to see what the week has in store for us and plan accordingly. It's all in one place and I can even have little weather bugs showing what to expect for the next three days. Hooray!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

sausage pizza

We've been slowly making our way through all the local pizza joints to see which we like best. We've tried four so far (slow going, yes, but we're also trying to find our favorite fried chicken and burger places, too). So, here's my real beef (pun intended): so far, three of the four pizza places (Monroe County Pizza Department, Pizza Express, Pizza Pantry) have minced sausage. Mother Bear's (my current #1) has "normal" whole sausage (plus a super thick pan, spicy sauce, and great specials).

The point is that sausage is typically my favorite topping - along with tomato and bacon. But this crumbled up sausage stuff isn't the sausage I know and love! It's just not the same at all. There's something like five or six more local places to check out, so I hope this is just bad luck and we're not actually uncovering a mid-west culinery standard.

the shopping adjustment

The biggest adjustment for me in moving here I think has been the shopping. Not the available shopping, we really have all the same stores for the most part. We have one Target instead of five, but we have all the stores nonetheless.

No, the big adjustment has been in the hours during which shopping is available. The big box stores are mostly open "regular" hours, but the other places are not. A lot of places close about 5 or 6 during the week, are open for half of Saturday- if at all- and are most certainly closed on Sunday. Many restaurants close at eight or nine, especially in Ellettsville.

This hasn't been a problem, so much as an irritation. We're very used to getting stuff done at home in the morning and afternoon, and then going out to price things out or shop after the boys get up from their naps. We tried this when we were shopping for a bed and were only able to go to one store! This past weekend, we tried to go to the counter top store- which just added Saturday hours of 9-1 and extended their weekly hours from 4:30 PM to 5 PM- but we got hung up and there was an accident on the two lane road to get out there and we missed it. We'll be trying again to get out there this Saturday, or maybe we'll make it Friday if Eric is able to accumulate enough hours to get out early.

I'm not sure how long it will take for me to get used to this- I don't know if I ever seems to me my whole life I could shop basically whenever it was convenient for me. I fully understand and support these folks in wanting to limit their hours, especially on the weekends, but it's definitely taking some getting used to!!

radio regionality

Is regionality even a word? Anyway, I've been meaning to post on this for a while: radio is fairly different out here. I suppose it's because I've followed along the same stations my entire life back in Virginia, and therefore knew basically everything I liked / didn't like, where stations were, where they moved to, where to get my "traffic on the 8s" and where to get my rock. Of course, here everything is different (duh).

But even more importantly, and more interesting, is that the content is different. Not just the fact that we have Radio Disney here or that there's more country stations - the actual songs played within the genre stations are different. For example, I was listening to the "all 80s weekend" on 107.9 The Track and I expected to know just about 90% of the songs - back in VA when I would catch an all 80s block I knew all the songs, right? It was the 80s there the same as here, right? Wrong! About half the songs were unfamiliar.

And it's the same with the classic rock, soft rock, modern rock, and oldies stations (remember when you used to have more then one of those, DC?). So I guess just like kids here listen to slightly different music now, they did back in the 70s and 80s, too. And therefore as classic rock and oldies stations evolved, they kept that regional nature... Which means I get less "Sledgehammer" and more Mellencamp.

So while we do have a pretty good college radio station with WIUX, I do miss my familiar DC radio...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

dude, you're like, thirty years old

The college kids are rolling into town. First it's the off-campus kids, then the freshmen, then everyone else (fun fact: the incoming freshman class was born in 1990). This influx is already changing the landscape of things, and in two weeks time the population will increase by nearly 30,000. But for now it's mostly just a little more people on campus and a boost in younger folks (and their parents) at the grocery store.

I guess I'm young at heart or something - I feel young and happy and turning thirty was not and is not a big deal to me at all (and Tris agrees with me on all of this, BTW), but I feel like I relate to these young folks (sheesh, did I just say folks?). Somehow, my mind thinks I'm still 20 or something, and I somehow actually think these are my peers. Like I'm saying Hi to them and all that. And at work, I'm trying to be pals with the student hourlies that hang around. I'm like, "Hey, guys, what's up?"

And now I'm starting to think that maybe when they say hey back, they are really thinking "Why is this old dude talking to us again?"

I realized this because I know that's what I used to do when I was 20 and I was an hourly employee at a public television station. "Why is this old dude trying to hang out with us??"

This is a rambling post, I know, but I thought it would be interesting to point out that the uniqueness of this town (and my job) is really changing my perspective on age. I don't know if that perspective is more or less realistic, though... heh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

wal-mart really is evil!

Like everyone, I know the stories about Wal-Mart killing the small town and running local businesses out of, well, business. Back in NoVA, I don't think it really had too much of an effect though, simply because there's been big-box stores all over the metro region for forty years. So it was never a "real" thing to me - not anymore.

After talking to an old man in one of the towns I visited with work, I made the connection between my observation that every town has a Wal-Mart and the fact that some of these neglected little town squares in Indiana are full of vacant storefronts and are virtually abandoned. The relationship is obvious now: these century-old downtowns, complete with clothing stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, shoe stores, and appliance shops simply couldn't compete when the Wal-Marts moved into Southern Indiana.

So, while I've always heard the stories about evil Wal-Mart, I've never known what they really meant. It's truly heartbreaking to see first hand that one store has turned these communities into ghosttowns. And even worse to listen to an old man, eyes filling with tears, as he relates the story of his own town's ruin.

But boy, don't they just have good prices? I mean, I just bought a rake for $3! Really!

the kitchen: part 5

We're insulated!! We had to buy new insulation to replace the old paper insulation that came tumbling out of the walls, and I think it looks very pretty :) Cleaning up the old insulation was a task- I made a shovel out of an old 12 pack box and shoveled it all into big black trash bags. We have about 7 bags full of the stuff.
Eric relocated the electric to the places I wanted it- a perk of taking down the walls, hooray!! I'll actually have an outlet on either side of the stove now, much easier for cooking. We have 9 sheets of drywall awaiting installation out on the deck, now it's just a question of whether we can get it up during the week in the evenings or if we have to wait until the weekend. We have to be out of the apartment before Friday, so that might have to take precedence. It's all moving right along, though!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

the kitchen: part 4

Total de(con)struction! What a mess! The cabinets are out, the walls are coming down! Paper-y insulation is falling out all over the floor! I'm covered in little pop-corny things (painted the textured ceiling)! How exciting!

Friday, August 15, 2008

moving in

Well, the POD is empty and gone. I am completely astounded that we emptied it ourselves. Given the assistance it took to fill it and the u-haul (thank you Sebastian and Alan!!!!), I was sure we'd need a few men to help us out here. It turns out that the stairs, inside and leading up to the front door, were the big thing with the townhouse. Moving in to a house with no stairs at all was actually fairly simple. We used the hand truck a lot, for heavy things we could move a few feet and stop, and there was also Eric's genius "roll it over method". This did strain some feet, but mostly it worked out great. We only have a few things left at the apartment to get, then we have to clean it up for the lessor's return on Friday.

So mostly everything is here in our house and I'm trying to figure out what can be unpacked, which is tough because things were packed mostly by room, and the room breakdowns aren't the same here of course. Not having the kitchen, dining room, living room, or guest room to unpack into yet means we'll be in boxes for some time still. Our bedroom is looking pretty good though! We have a new king bed that matches quite well with the planked ceiling and we have plans to paint the walls blue. I can't get used to the size of the bed and keep walking into the foot board (day and night!), so I have a ring of bruises about two inches above my knees. I'm such a klutz!!

Hopefully we'll have up some new pics of the kitchen progress after this weekend.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

kitchen: part 3

This weekend is our first "big push" weekend. All the upper cabinets are out, the oven, cooktop, and range hood are out. The scrapyard buys metal for 95 cents a pound, so we could get maybe 7 dollars for the oven, but that's only if no one takes it for free on Craigslist.

Now it's time to get some cabinets assembled - we want to have as many put together and ready to be installed as possible so we can minimize the "no cabinets" phase of things.

On Thursday we're getting an estimate on a "garden" window (a stick-out box window) for over the sink, and I'm finishing up the seal-painting in the basement so we have a place to move all of the old cabinets.

poison ivy!

I think we've mentioned before that we have quite a bit of poison ivy around the wooded areas, but we also have some in the flower beds. Apparently, when the in-laws moved in, they just didn't tend to the gardens- at all really.

So a couple of weeks ago, the mama in me just couldn't take the poison ivy creeping up the edges of the deck anymore. Dean was getting awfully close to it. it was a hot day and I was wearing a t-shirt and some pretty short shorts. I got gloves and clippers and started yanking it all out. I was only going to get the parts that were creeping up over the deck, but when I could trace them back to the ground behind the lattice, I had to pull all that out too. I thought I kept the pulling under 20 minutes and then I immediately went and showered, washing three times with a special poison ivy soap.

On Monday I had a funny spot on my leg that I though might be a spider bite because it was black in the middle and irregularly shaped. Then I started to break out on my neck. An hour later I had a couple of spots on my arm. It was weird like this, it was like every half-hour to an hour I would notice a new spot that had started itching. The breaking out continued into Tuesday, and by Tuesday night I was blistered and begging Eric to bring something home. The next few days I experienced a feeling that probably best be described as my skin being on fire as it started to blister up really bad. We discussed the merits of popping blisters, which became moot because I ended up in so much pain that i just put band-aids over them and popped them by pushing on them, just to relieve some of the pressure from the blisters. I knew it was supposed to take 10-14 days to clear up, so I was going to give it until this Tuesday-Friday to see some improvement. I was trying everything for relief, special poison ivy scrubs, homeopathic gels and sprays, baking soda paste, cold packs, vinegar, Benadryl spray, vitamin C, vitamin C gel directly on the name it, I was using it. I think the vitamin C gel worked best.

So then last Saturday we went out to Cincinnati to pick up our kitchen cabinets. Mark fell while he was goofing, gave us a scare and we took him to the hospital to get checked out. Long story short, that kid has a noggin made of steel. My leg blisters popped while I was taking care of Mark at the hospital.

Monday morning I woke up with a new part of my leg itching, by the afternoon it was completely broken out in spots. This prompted concern from Eric, because we really couldn't identify any possible source of new exposure. He wanted me to go to the doctor, but I thought I saw some improvement. By Tuesday my arm was definitely better, looked less like a chemical burn and move like I was a stabbing victim- or had gotten into a very serious altercation with a feral cat, my neck wasn't bothering me at all.

My legs were a different story. I had now begun cleaning them with rubbing alcohol and putting neosporin and band-aids on them because they had new blisters. They were really really red. The big spot (see pic below) kept blistering wherever it wasn't covered. I started worrying about staph a little bit now. I still thought it *might* be improving though. On Wednesday or Thursday I realized the new outbreak on the one leg was impetigo- but I was doing to right thing with cleaning and treating it with neosporin. I was holding out hope to see some improvement on that giant spot, which by now was bright red, not getting small, and felt like an orange peel. With the impetigo not improving, and my big scary red spot, I realized I had to go to the doctor. Fortunately our doctor runs a walk-in 7 days a week, so we headed out first thing Friday. The diagnosis - I was doing everything right and it was good to wait and see, but yes, I had a secondary infection for sure. I had cellulitis on the one leg and impetigo on the other. She cultured the blisters and after researching to see what was safe for a nursing mom, I received a two phase steroid shot and four prescriptions. A steroid, an antibiotic, an antibiotic ointment, and Diflucan for the antibiotic. Within hours, I could see some improvement, and today my skin is starting to feel like skin again.

So here are a couple of pics, the spots are much smaller and no longer red. The splotch of cellulitis is about the same size, but no longer bright red and leathery. The posion ivy up and down my legs is basically gone, I have a stubborn spot of something on my foot, but it's improving. My arms and neck are not bothering me at all, just a bit scarred and red still.

So I think I'll be much much more wary of poison ivy in the future! I also really really want to eradicate it. That probably leaves me glaring at it from a distance :)