Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy 2013

Time to catch up on everything that's been happening here, it's been a very crazy couple of years.

The Job:  I finally found work in November of 2010 as a biomedical technician at the University of Washington, the only problem is I wasn't technically a biomedical technician.  Back to school, this time at night while working full-time.  I just finished and am waiting on the diploma to make it official.  That's right, two degrees in just a couple of years. 

I love my job though.  And the group of guys I work with feels a lot like family.  Mostly brothers, cousins and the odd uncle.  Between them they can manufacture or repair just about anything.  I'm learning so much.  The commute sucks though, I spend over 3 hours a day getting between hither and yon.

The Man:  Ah life, sometimes you make things so hard.  Back in 2011 Rod was given the choice of a layoff or transferring to Andover, Massachusetts.  He's in his lat 50's and fairly close to retirement.  Software is a field that is notoriously age-centric so we made the decission to go for the transfer. We are making the best of it, and talking just about daily and seeing each other every couple of months.  The last trip was to Boston for seveal days of sight-seeing.  Very romantic.  

The House:  The house was a little neglected this summer, I was in a fairly serious car-wreck back in May and am finally getting my life back.  Jim, the handyman across the street, just did some repair work on the living room and will do some more next month before painting commences.  I did not, however, get the yard in any kind of shape for the winter.  Thankfully I have some neighbors that helped keep it mowed over the summer, so it's not a total disaster, but it's pretty close. 

The Roommate:  Annika moved in when Rod got transferred, the house is a little small for two-creative types, but we are making it work.  I'm trying to find a creative space for her, the basement/man-cave is just too chilly and dark.  The cat population is a little higher since she brought Jinx back and a neighborhood tom cat has decided to move in too. 

Art, etc: So in my less-than-copious spare time I'm learning French and teaching myself water colors.  I've decided my next degree with be a Bachelor's of Fine Arts.  Watercolor is a medium that is more impressionistic than realistic, it seems like a logical next step.  It has given me a new way of looking at things with light and shadow.  And much of the technique is the exact opposite of what I intuitively do with color.  It's fun though.  I'm learning to take my time, letting the work dry inbetween steps.  Most of my stuff is just a tiny bit better than what a proud parent would hang on the fridge.  I'm hoping to find a class in spring quarter, once I no longer spend most evenings at the chiropractor.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Score: Bathroom 2 Linda 2

Yesterday was the first day I feel like there's light at the end of the bathroom tunnel. Together, Rod and I managed to get the backer board laid, taped and mudded. Not as simple as it sounded when I read up on the process.

Step 1 included ripping out the old floor. There were two layers of linoleum on top of wood planks over the sub floor. A dusty mess. The original builder (Sargent April) did an amazing job cutting in the wood floor to the tub (the tub has a curved side), I didn't even see the joint at first -- it was that precise. And I live in what is probably the only bungalow with exactly square corners in the rooms. Amazing. It made cutting the backer board much easier, since we could work with square corners. Backer board is a cement board that, once in place, creates a bond with the sub floor and the tile, effectively creating a single unit of many different materials.

As we were cutting the board we laid it out in a jigsaw-like pattern, around the plumbing and the old radiators to make sure it would fit before we added the mud. Then I troweled the mud down in sections and placed the backer board and then Rod added fasteners to hold the board down. Finally I mudded and taped the joints. This process is remarkably similar to joining theater flats, here instead of ripped muslin or canvas dipped in paint I used nylon mesh tape and lots of mud. Messy. Very messy. But it's done now and with a little cleanup I'll be ready to spread the waterproofing this afternoon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Welcome to the Neighborhood

It's been a very busy year. Quite possibly that last sentence was an understatement.

After dating for a year, Rod and I moved in together last summer and then bought a cute little bungalow in Snohomish last fall. True love sounds a little cliche, but that is what we seem to have. School was taking most of my time, and when I wasn't swamped with homework I spent my spare moments curled up on the sofa with my sweetie. Letting my brain uncramp.

I graduated just two weeks ago and have jumped into job-hunting with a vengence. The problem is manufacturing hasn't really recovered yet, so the jobs are far and few between. Combine that with a specialized skill-set and I'm having a harder time than I'd like finding work in my field. So I've widened the net a bit and am managing to send out a half-dozen or so resumes a week. I've never been unemployed for more than a couple of weeks before and though I've been out of work for a year and a half, most of that time was in school so it felt like I was working. I'm trying not to stress too much. Really I am. But I am not the type to sit around eating bon-bons and watching the soaps.

I managed to connect up with the fine folks over at the Thumbnail Theater here in Snohomish. Tim Noah and Cyndi Elliot are two very talented performers, and there's a cabinet of Emmy awards sitting in the corner to prove it. They put together the sweetest children's shows and the kids just eat them up. I'm also working on a vaudville show called Tap Happy that is running monthly at the theater. Tap Happy brings together a group of actors and dancers for a light-hearted musical review. So back to theater in a very low-key sort of way.

Currently I'm getting ready for an invasion of the Currey Clan. Rod's family is coming to visit in just 10 days. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the guest bathroom wasn't quite functional. And since we were tidying it up a bit, we decided to re-tile the floor and paint the walls. I'm learning that home improvement projects are never quite as simple as they appear on the surface. The major setback was removing a cheap wall mirror and discovering that the former owners, when they pulled out the old medicine chest, left a gaping hole and two electrical boxes hidden behind the mirror. They had used a saw to cut off the face of the old chest and left the frame in place. While that explains the large, ugly wall mirror, it left me with the chore of repairing the hole. Thank goodness Tim Hickey stepped in and patched the hole. But waiting for plaster to dry has put me a couple of days behind schedule. If we are in there working on the wall, we can't be in there working on the floor, since the various layers of thinset, grout and waterproofing do much better setting up if nobody is walking on them.

Tim's knocking on the to work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

School Daze

I'm finally getting the hang of this school thing, at least it's not so difficult to get motivated and keep up. I do a little each day before class and a little in the evening. I'm procrastinating now, just a bit.
It's a drippy, dreary day outside and my soul wants nothing more than to crawl back in bed and sleep for another couple of hours. Hope the coffee kicks in soon.
So I'm taking three classes this quarter, a diverse little grouping of engineering classes, Fluid Power, Digital Electronics and Advanced A+ Certification.
Fluid power has possibly the worst-written text book I've ever had to wrestle with, could they not afford an editor? It reads like a rough draft. A very rough draft. Another challenge is keeping a straight face when the instructor starts talking about extending and retracting rods and pistons. The nomenclature is very phallic. Pressure, pumping, relief valves, etc., maybe it's my own bent mind, but the giggle factor gets really high during some of the lectures. At least I amuse myself. As is the norm I'm the only woman in the class and giggling must be kept to a minimum so I spend a lot of time with my eyes wide open grinning, I hope the professor thinks I'm just very attentive and not a little nuts.
Digital electronics is a lot of review, I had self-taught a much of the material at work. I'm now learning boolean algebra which is fascinating stuff. Did you know that your computer can't subtract? Not really. It uses a complex method of adding ones and zeros that makes it think it's adding but comes up with subtracted totals. Behind the slick interface that you are looking at are thousands and millions of tiny signals that have only two values - 0 & 1.
The last class I'm taking is A+ certification. Yes, I will be fully qualified to trouble-shoot computers and networks. It's already coming in handy, I've set up the wireless access for our computers at home and have helped my sweetie chase down some problems with his system at home. I'm thinking of buying a computer to tinker on, but don't want to spend the money just now.
Ah, the coffee is kicking in -- back to work.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

School Daze.....

So it's been even longer this time, I have a great excuse. Really, I do.
I am now a full-time engineering student. Surprised? Me too. I wish I could take the credit for this being a part of a grand scheme that came together just the way I had planned, but alas, I'm not that slick. In fact this is a serious case of lemons transforming into lemonade.
Raspberry lemonade.
Sparkling raspberry lemonade.
hmmmmm, now I'm thirsty.
Anyway I've been a tad busy with the whole homework thing. Actually I thought that if I could take 10 credits while working full-time I could carry 20 when unemployed. I did it for one quarter and will cheerfully never try that again. I'm not sure how, but I managed to pull a 3.58 for the quarter. With electrical engineering courses, and crazy lab partners, and more books than any book bag could hold. Oi.
I'll try to update whenever I can, in the mean time feel free to send me good study karma.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ok - so I've been neglecting this little corner of my world, I admit it's been a little too much to maintain this summer.

Summer definitely started out in low gear, I had mono. Yes, mono. Who knew old farts like me could get mono? That was a rhetorical question - I just thought I was run down. Just not enough energy to go around. I worked full-time, started dating again and managed to get through the season without too much stress. My energy is finally coming back. Just in time to start school.

So the goal is to actually finish my degree, but the method has changed a bit. There is a general lack of engineering programs available to those of us who have to work full-time. In a perfect world I would take the next three years off from work and finish school. In the real world I'm planning on about five years. The next two-two and 1/2 years will finish a pair of associates degrees/certificates. The first will be the Engineering Technology Certificate and the second will be a general transfer degree. The next two-three years will finish an English degree with a focus on Technical Communications. There are two options, one is an evening program through UW, the other is an online program through WSU. I like the UW program better - so that's plan A. Wish me luck.

I also started seeing a counselor - one of the symptoms of mono is depression. Between that and the high-stress year I'd had some outside help was definitely needed. It took some detective work to find someone that I can work with, and Joanne fits the bill nicely. Kind, compassionate, she understands that it's hard for me to trust and has the patience to help me connect and open up. She's given me some great tools for my coping toolbox. Which is exactly what I needed. It feels good to finally clear out some of the crap from my past. To recognize where my issues come from and to set them aside. One of the things that has come up in my counseling sessions is that I tend to live with a certain amount of the 'fight or flight' reflex up and running in the background of my consciousness. I'm not nervous or anything like that, just a tad detached. I tend to react on a intellectual level long before I react emotionally. I do have emotions, lots of them, they come into play a day or so later. Good in a crisis, I usually have a Plan B in place, though I rarely need it. It's at the root of a couple of my health issues. So, as I address the emotional my physical body is healing. Pretty cool.

It's been a good summer all-in-all. I'm seeing a very kind and gentle man, he's got a great sense of humor. And I truly relax around him. It's been a long time since I've been with someone that I could connect with like that. I actually miss him if I don't see him for a couple of days. We both work at Philips though not in the same department, so no conflicts there.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Flights of Fancy

The circus is in town - Cirque de Soleil that is. I was given a ticket as an early birthday present and with Annika and her pals from Germany (Tini and Heiko) spent a truly amazing evening. I had seen the videos before and was enchanted - but live is a totally different experience. For one thing the venue was surprisingly intimate - there isn't a bad seat in the house and everyone is close enough to feel a part of the show. Breathtaking doesn't even come close to describing the beauty of the performance. Everything was simply perfect. It left me with a sense of wonder and inspiration that I haven't had in a very long time.
A second healthy dose of inspiration came during my weekly massage. As Jeff worked his magic on my neck and upper back I dozed off - partially. Images began to form, of artwork and how to do it, complete with step-by-step instructions. I sketch -nothing too elaborate - mostly faces and figures. I'm not great at it, but every once in a while something comes out that isn't too bad. These images were different from my normal fare. With a faded, desaturated look they showed texture and depth far beyond what I'm currently capable of. It was a complete art class with everything from what types of exercises to do in order to learn the techniques to what materials I need to pick up and how to use them. Wow.
So I spent the evening sketching with a combination of colored pencils and graphite. Blending the two and practicing the shading.
I just hope that I can hang onto the knowledge from those visions long enough to learn the techniques.