Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What To Do? What To Do?

In an amazing show of generosity, Oldsmobile decided to grant everyone mid-year bonuses. In other words, this Friday, I get two paychecks.


Part of that bonus will, of course, go towards the purchase of a new pair of comfortable work boots, cost be - um - dratted, I need more comfortable footwear for the job site. Yes, dratted.

The rest of that bonus will go towards... I don't know. I'll find out tomorrow.

Tomorrow, a.k.a. Thursday - which might be "today" for some readers, if anyone is reading this blog these days - I go find out if I'll need yet another exciting surgical procedure in yet another effort to stop pain.

Yay, pain! I'm not going to tell you what kind of pain, or where it is, or any of that exciting business, because I don't like to go into specifics, but we'll just say that the pain is painful, okay? And it might be expensive.

Sure, my employer pays all of our deductible for us (did I mention Oldsmobile is incredibly generous?), but it could still end up costing me a pretty penny out of pocket.

Until I find out if I'm going to have to have surgery, I'm not going to spend any of the bonus, aside from on a new pair of more comfortable boots.

But I will, however, be dreaming of the end tables and possibly the lamps that part of that bonus could purchase. Most of it will go into savings. Ms. StrainedConsciousness is trying to be pragmatic. And is speaking in the third person, which she hears helps with pragmatism.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Midget Feet Strike Again!

I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to find decently attractive and affordable work boots.

Work boots are my newest obsession, just in case you were wondering. They have been ever since I spent 5 hours on a construction site in boots with a 3" stacked heel and a relatively uncushioned insole. My body ached for days, afterward, and I vowed to get new boots immediately. Granted, that was a few weeks ago, but "immediately" became "when I get around to it" once I went through my closet and discovered that my spring/summer wardrobe was woefully inadequate.

Priorities, people.

I for work boots looked at Academy Sports and Outdoors, but they had one style of women's work boots that weren't hideous, and I couldn't jam my tiny feet with their impossibly high insteps into them. I perused the interwebs for a few minutes today, looking at the usual suspects - Cavender's, Shepler's, and the like - and I've reached the conclusion that if you want work boots and you're female, you're S.O.L.

My options are either lace-up boots (which are a pain to put on and take off, and are black), or pink leather cowboy-style boots. PINK for crying out loud! What self-respecting woman in a male-dominated field wants to wear pink work boots? Really? And no, I will also not wear work boots with red patent leather flames on the toes, which are apparently my other option, in the decently affordable category.

So I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy a pair of Red Wings, it looks like. There isn't a store in Dallas that sells Ariats in my size (that aren't pink). Next weekend, I'll journey over to the Red Wing dealer nearest my house to see if they can hunt me down a pair of men's size 5.5B 11" boots, preferably not in the glossy leather, but in matte-finish.

And I'll pay dearly for them.

Because ladies with delicate little midget feet aren't supposed to be on construction sites in anything other than pink boots.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drumroll, Please!


I now have a sofa in my apartment! And it's orange! And it's GORGEOUS!

The upholsterer was 45 minutes late bringing the sofa, so he knocked $80 off the delivery charge. Hooray! Of course, he also didn't bring me the left-over fabric, so I have to call him tomorrow about that, because it's explicitly written on the work order, and I should have at least 2 yards left over. At least.

So I got my sofa, and I haven't even really had the time to sit on it. It was delivered, I scarfed down a couple of slices of pizza, and jetted back to the office. I'm about to take my laptop into the living room to sit down and revel in the joy and beauty that is my sofa.

Images for your viewing pleasure:

You know what this means, right? It means that now, I require an end table for the sofa. And new end tables for either side of the love seat (or just one, or maybe pull that round glass-topped one back out of the closet, since I retired it from the bedroom), and a couple of new lamps, because the turquoise one just isn't cutting it, anymore.

I have created my own monster. And oh, this monster is gonna be fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:

Ms. StrainedConscious: The Movie!

I was telling my gentleman caller about my day on the construction site - or perhaps he read about it on the blog? - and he mooted the idea of action figures that I could market on my blog. Which got me to thinking about what, exactly, each action figure would be.

Construction-Site Ms. StrainedConsciousness: Accessories include work boots and a roll of construction drawings. Fill a reservoir in her head with salty water, and watch as she grows increasingly damp and starts to smell like stale sweat. Pull a string in her back, and she says things like "They're dropping that concrete from too high," "Who left that piece of metal there? I could have killed myself!" and "God, I need a beer."

Migraine Ms. StrainedConsciousness: Comes with a bed. Accessories include bottles of pills and a book, along with an extra pillow to put over her head. Pulla string in her back, and she says things like "Ungh," "Blargh," and "Damn, my head hurts. When will the agony end? Doctors are useless."

Couch-Hunter Ms StrainedConsciousness: Comes with a Minivan and Sidekick SuperMom. Accessories include a purse, good walking shoes, and a 32 oz. styrofoam cup of iced tea from Chik-Fil-A (oh! Marketing tie-ins!). Pull a string in her back and she says things like "$160 per yard for velvet? Seriously?" and "Have you ever seen a more hideous couch?" and "Why do all stores sell sofas in muddy fabrics? I guess that's middle America for you!"

Opera Ms. StrainedConsciousness: Comes with Date Night Gentleman Caller (he'll get a nickname eventually). Accessories include stiletto heels and a clutch. Pull a string in her back and she says things like "Oh my God it's f-f-f-f-freezing outside! Why did I wear such a short skirt?" and "Now I remember why I don't wear stilettos anymore. My feet are killing me!"

Now, with the marketing tie-ins out of the way, we can get started on a script, right? Right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm About to Crash

Why, pray tell, are you about to crash, Ms. Strainedconsciousness?

Dear Reader, I am about to crash because I spent 5 hours on a job site today.

Five freaking hours.

It was fun for the first 15 minutes or so, sure, but after that, concrete gets kind of boring.

Yes, concrete was the reason for my prolonged site visit(s): a 10 a.m. concrete pour this morning, at which I stayed for two hours, with a one hour break for lunch at Freebird's. After a little over an hour in the office, I was back on the site for a meeting with the general contractor and the foreman and the landscape architect and the interior designer, and the owner's representative/son.

The owner's representative/son is a couple of years younger than myself and is fascinated by construction.

He is also incapable of asking me a question.

He will ask anyone a question but me, in fact.

Today, he had a question about the concrete form work, so who did he ask? Naturally, he asked the interior designer, who is old enough to be his mother and who he's known for years. God forbid he should ask me a question. God forbid he should talk to a girl his age.

It's like middle school all over again, complete with the everyone's embarrassed because we're sweaty outdoorsy phys. ed. type atmosphere, but with khakis and work boots instead of Keds and hideous green nylon shorts.

After the site meetings were all over, I returned to the office to sit in the air conditioning for a while in a stupor while I rehydrated my brain. When 6'o'clock rolled around I fled and started driving towards home, at which point I realized I would have to cook, and that I didn't want to cook. I also realized that I didn't want what I thought I wanted (a cherry Slurpee).

No, I wanted a beer.

I briefly considered calling a friend of a friend who had offered to buy me dinner Saturday in a booze-fueled haze to force him into buying me food, but then opted to call my mom, instead (you got off easy this time, friend-of-a-friend). She met me at The Flying Fish, and I indulged in a catfish basket - two fillets, instead of my usual single - and a Pabst Blue Ribbon, for which they charge an ungodly $2.95.

Seriously, who charges $2.95 for PBR? Highway robbery!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

My plans for the evening involved leaving the office an hour early, picking up my dry-cleaning, changing the sheets on my bed, making dinner, and then working at home for an hour or two (to atone for that hour out of the office).

I believe the Scottish poet Robert burns put it best when he said

The best laid schemes o' mice an' Ms. Strainedconsciousness
Gang aft agley

Whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. I had no idea you could get a face full of Scottish phlegm just from reading poetry on a computer screen.

You see, my best laid scheme involved putting my current work onto my USB drive and bringing it home with me, but for some reason, the files didn't transfer, and I have an old version of the project with which to work. So, no work will be accomplished this evening.

Instead, I am working away at my portfolio, whittling it down to the bare essentials, cutting out extraneous details and verbiage, and shrinking down the sketches that originally seemed so vibrant but now seem a little bit too... sketchy. They'll still be included, just smaller. To the side. Maybe down in that corner over there. Yeah, there.

And don't come out of the corner until the timer goes off, or you're in trouble, Mr. Sketch.

Sketches, these days. Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bangarang! Peter Pan Would Love This Place!

My current project involves designing what we refer to as "The Treehouse" for a gentleman in his 60s who is tired of sharing a home office and a gym with his wife.

Their current home office alone is larger than my apartment, and contains its own secret "home office within an office" for him behind a secret door in a bookcase.

I'm not making this up.

The fact that his wife's numerous charitable activities require her to spread her papers out across their home office, however, along with the fact that she also uses the room for gift-wrapping lends it a less than calming air for his considerable investment needs, and so he wants his own little piece of space in which to play with his money.

I'm designing it.

It's not a true treehouse per se because it doesn't rely on (living) trees for its structural support, but it is situated so that the bulk of the structure will be in the canopy of the trees that grow along the creek that runs through the couples' backyard. They have what is arguably one of the most beautifully situated lots in Dallas. I got to wander around it for 30 minutes taking pictures a few weeks ago, and I really didn't want to leave, what with the water rushing over the rocks in the babbling brook, and the birds cooing in the trees overhead, as I strolled in the dappled sunlight. Then a sneezing fit overcame me, and hey-o, time to go!

It's a really fun project to work on, and it isn't completely overwhelming, either. I've picked out the plumbing fixtures (that I want, anyway. The client hasn't seen them, yet), and lighting fixtures, and the structural guys are getting drawings together for a pricing set. I have a meeting with an HVAC consultant Tuesday, although I'll be the one doing the drawings for the HVAC system, because we don't have it in the budget for an outside consultant to do all the drawings. I'll also be doing all the electrical plans and lighting plans. I'm glad I got in some practice with my last project! Start off small and work your way up, right?

Now we just need to Shang-hai the clients into, you know, actually coming into the office for a meeting and we'll be good to go.

I really hope they like the faucet I've picked out. It's a stunner. I guess I should choose a couple of back-ups just in case, though.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Promise!

Just bear with me a little while longer and the obsessive sofa posts will cease. Honest. I swear.

My sofa is currently at the upholsterer's shop. Upholsterer #2 initially quoted me a price $30 lower than Upholsterer #1's bid, but then began asking me questions about why, exactly, I insisted on a down/feather blend wrap for the cushions, since even the best seat cushions will require weekly fluffing/turning if they're used daily? He talked me into using a different material that I was able to experience at his shop, and yes, it feels exactly like down-wrapped cushions (but costs half as much and requires no fluffing). Let's just hope I made the right decision.

I initially assumed it would be anywhere from 4-8 weeks before I would see my sofa in final finished form, because that's typical turn-around time for custom upholstery work. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

It will only be 2-3 weeks. Yes, the world's most solicitous upholsterer (who does work for one of Dallas' most well-known interior designers) will have my sofa returned to me in 2-3 weeks TOPS, because it's a small job, and they're in between a couple of big jobs right now. Brilliant!

Of course, that means I'll have to get my apartment rearranged pronto in preparation for the sofa's imminent arrival. I thought I'd have considerably longer to prepare for it, but it seems that I was wrong. It's not that I'm never wrong, it just happens so rarely that it catches me off guard.

No, really.

This past week, I was trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do for a throw pillow for the sofa. It just needs one stunner in the middle, and herein lay the problem: it has to be a stunner. A quick trip to my usual throw-pillow go-tos proved fruitless: Pier 1's pillows looked too chintzy, and the pillows at Z Galerie didn't have any blue in them, although they did have the lovely shrimpy color of my sofa.

Then, I remembered it: a needlepoint I completed about 5-6 years ago. I dug it out of its basket at my apartment, and sure enough, it's the perfect size and shape, and has the same exact color in it with which my sofa will be upholstered. Karma, baby. Karma. Or something.

So the needlepoint will be turned into a throw pillow, and for less money than I thought it would cost (sweet!) and my little living room will be happy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

OCDesign + Migraine = Working in Bed

Monday night, around 10:30 or 11:00 pm, give or take a few minutes and seconds, I realized I had a migraine coming on. I took my medicine, shut down my computer (I was working - yes, on stuff for the office), and went to sleep, aided by the anti-nausea medicine, which essentially is like smashing yourself in the head with a rubber mallet, insofar as unconscious-making goes.

I hoped that my preemptive strike would render me migraine-free Tuesday morning, ready to face the day and go to work, albeit a bit groggy-headed and sluggish for the day.

I was wrong in my hopes. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

My alarm went off, and it was literally all I could do to open my eyes. I guess the anti-nausea medicine hadn't worn off, because I was practically sleep-walking as I stumbled to the bathroom to take a shower. I had to lean against the wall, but wasn't really aware of the fact, because I was still so darned sleepy. Asleep, really.

After the water hit, however, I realized that I was leaning against the wall, and realized, more importantly, why I was leaning against the wall: I was dizzy. The room was positively swimming around me, and so I shut off the water - after rinsing the shampoo from my hair, natch - and called Mrs. Robinson to tell her I'd be late to work, that I'd had a migraine the night before and was off to a sluggish start this morning.

An hour later, I was no better. I called back and asked to speak to Radio. He answered the phone, and I told him I had a terrible case of migraine induced vertigo - not uncommon, I'd had it before - and that I was incapable of driving to work. "But I have my files and everything at home with me, so I'll work here," I said, trying to sound chipper and upbeat, although I'm sure I sounded rather more like the losing contender in a heavyweight boxing match.

I fell back asleep, since I still wasn't firing on all cylinders, and came to around noon and battled my way into a sitting position. My head vetoed that idea, so I slid my computer over onto the bed, rolled onto my side, and spent the next two hours researching possible bathroom flooring materials for the project I'm working on, right now. I've actually found one I like, and it's (relatively) affordable. I've emailed a link to the material to my work email and everything. By the time I'd found it, I was starting to feel better, so I put on some non-pajama clothes and sat up, and began working on CAD drawings, which is what I did from around 2:00 until 6:30, when I talked to my mom on the phone. By that point, the vertigo was almost entirely gone, to be replaced by a vague queasiness that I've had lately post-migraine, or pre-migraine, and sometimes en-migraine, so essentially constantly.

After the brief chat with my mom, I decided to venture out of the house, so I made a run to my happy place, aka Container Store, to buy a couple of things and now I'm back home, ready to return to my work.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Couch Debacle Concluded! Almost...

I purchased a (used) sofa from Craigslist. After a month of trolling websites and checking out posts that promised me beautiful sofas but failed to deliver, I finally hit the jackpot when I read "Great reupholstery project: beautiful bones." This poster was speaking my language.

And oh, what a lovely language it was! I had finally found a sofa with the shape I've been craving but can't afford! And it came with a cash-strapped young couple who needed the space the sofa took up, which combined to form the perfect nexus of sofa bliss! A $99 sofa spectacular!

In desperate need of reupholstering.

Which led me to the Great Fabric Hunt of 2010. I promised my mom I'd have the sofa out of her garage ASAP (she can still park in the garage, it's just a little bit tight), so I had to find the fabric ASAP. I was thinking peacock blue velvet.

Do you have any idea how much the perfect peacock blue velvet costs? It costs $160 per yard. My sofa requires 20 yards of fabric to recover. I could recover the seat cushion, and that would be it.

With time running out, I asked my sister if she minded running to a couple of upholstery fabric stores in Houston on my mom's and my visit over Easter weekend (decorating in the StrainedConsciousness family is a collaborative effort), and she was more than happy to oblige.

Good-bye, Peacock blue. Hello, Shrimp.

Yes, Shrimp. That is, apparently, the color of the velvet I bought with which to upholster my sofa. Shrimp.

The sofa will eventually look kind of similar to the one pictured above in color and in shape, except mine will have a skirt. Why will mine have a skirt? Because that's one less place I have to dust.

Now, I just have to line up an upholsterer. I received a quote this morning from one upholsterer which was about $200 more than I was hoping to pay. I should receive another quote from a less expensive - but generally just as good - upholsterer tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be considerably cheaper than the competition.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

I went to Houston, this weekend, to visit my sister and her husband. My dad was out of town, and my mom and I decided we'd like to spend the Easter holidays en famille so we road-tripped on down I-45 Friday.

My mom reunited (and it felt so goooood) with one of her gal pals from college Friday evening, and my sister and the hubster took me to Grimaldi's out in Sugarland, whose motto should be Sugarland: Our stores' signage is creepy! Seriously, all the stores and restaurants have signage the height and font and color of which is dictated by city ordinance so it all matches and gives the thing a Stepford feel.

On to the food! Grimaldi's cooks their pizzas - it's a pizza place, natch - in a coal-fired oven, so the crust is crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside, and delicious all over. Their mozzarella is the real deal, folks, not that Kraft grated stuff. It's made from the milk of free-range cows, and tastes like the mozzarella di bufala that comes in tubs of water (whey?) in the dairy section of Whole Paycheck - er - Foods. We ordered our pizza with artichoke hearts, Italian sausage, and sundried tomatoes. Delicioso!

Saturday, we had a breakfast of almond croissants from the farmer's market (not sure which one, though, because I slept through the market excursion and awoke in time for the eating bit), scrambled eggs, and strawberries. Lunch was eaten at Stone Mill Bakers in between bouts of frantic interior design shopping. All the ladies had their to die for curried chicken salad sandwich box lunch, which includes a bag of chips, a drink, and a cookie! I had an iced egg-shaped sugar cookie. Yum! Their curried chicken salad is served on raisin bread. Heaven! Heaven!

Saturday night was grass-fed beef roast cooked on the brother-in-law's grill with green and red bell peppers and onions in beer (mmmmmm, beer) with a green salad (arugugugugugula, green beans, other green yummy things) and then shortbread with blackberries and Hank's vanilla ice cream. Hank's ice cream is the best ice cream known to mankind. It bests Bluebell by a country mile. It has so much butterfat in it that you can feel your arteries clog as you digest it. It is wonderful.

You may think my gustatory tale is over, but you are incorrect. Oh no. The coup de grace is just around the corner.

Easter morning, we all went to services at the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association, and then proceeded to brunch at the Backstreet Cafe on South Shepherd. They had a fixe prix menu for the holiday, and it was an exercise in mental gymnastics to decide what I wanted to order. I could have ordered the vichyssoise followed by roasted leg of lamb with spinach and then strawberry shortcake, or crawfish risotto followed by lobster benedict with a filet and stuffed mushroom and then banana custard, or chicken liver pate followed by the sea trout and then blackberry cobbler with burnt butter ice cream.

I opted, however, to show some restraint, and ordered the mixed greens, followed by the pepper sauteed shrimp with crawfish grits and tempura green onions, with a simple palate cleanser of orange chocolate bread pudding and a dollop of creme fraiche.

Very restrained, indeed.