Monthly Archives: October 2002

Cleaning, cooking, and links

Been a busy day – being all domestic ‘n’ stuff. I have a phone interview with a company in Louisville, KY tomorrow afternoon. I’m not sure how I feel about it, either the position or the location, but I’d be a fool to turn anything down right now. If nothing else I have to show the recruiter that I’m making a good-faith effort or I’ll have to go find another recruiter, and this one isn’t too bad. Mind you, I AM talking to other recruiters, but this is the first one that’s actually got me something tangible.

A couple of links for amusement:

Hmm, just about time to start in on dinner. Sautéed chicken breasts with orzo and a nice gravy.

Finally!

OK, it took a while but I finally had some free time on my hands (imagine that 🙂 and got these all uploaded. Therefore, may I present to you pictures from the LAFF Pizza Party on 9/7/02 (12 pictures) and from our party during NC Pride (over 250 pictures), located at our picture gallery site. Remember, you can comment on any picture, too. We’ll get around to adding captions Real Soon Now. Enjoy!

All is quiet

Finally a chance to relax.

These last few days have been hectic – Mom was in town helping me get the house into shape, since we’ve put it on the market to sell. Lots of moving stuff around, errands to be run, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. The house looks absolutely fabulous right now, but at a cost – the garage looks like a disaster area. All the boxes and stuff that were cluttering up the closets have been moved to there, and now we have to pack it all up, seal the boxes, throw out what’s not needed and carry the rest over to a friend’s house for storage. That’s today’s job. Yesterday we took a break and went to the wedding of our dear friends Thomas and Sherry. It was a nice, low-key affair, and Dan and I were even able to sit in the Baptist church without being struck by lightning 🙂

The only drawback to the house being in showable condition is that we have to be ready for a phone cal from the realtor at any time (during the day, anyway) saying that someone is going to come by to look at the house within an hour. We need to keep things clean so that we can just take care of a few things (make beds, put dishes in the dishwasher, etc.) then leave and everything will look perfect. Or close to perfect, anyway. I call it “living lightly” and it really kinda sucks after a while. Anyway, we had two potential buyers come through on Friday, though none yesterday, which is disappointing. We have an open house scheduled for next weekend, and another for the weekend after that. I’m hoping those will move things along.

Of course, I’m of two minds – we need to sell the house so we can get the burden of the mortgage off our backs, but if we sell the house before I find another job, then what? We’re working on that part. We have a friend who is willing to put us up, although he’s unemployed as well and reaching the end of his unemployment benefits. And there’s the matter of all of our stuff – I can think of very few things I’d rather do less than pack and haul out all of our stuff, although we can do it if need be. Certainly not something I’m looking forward to.

It’s a great motivator to get me on the phone with recruiters and employers on Monday morning, though…

Well, since Jen asked

Absolutely Amazing French Toast
(Recipe from The Best Recipe, by Cooks Illustrated)
In the book, they recommend using challah for this, but I really liked Pepperidge Farm French Toast Swirl, either Buttermilk Cinnamon or Cinnamon and Brown Sugar – both are good. It’s thickly sliced, and perfect for this recipe. Use tongs to handle dipping the bread in the batter and a spatula to flip them in the pan. Also, if you have a cast-iron skillet it’s perfect for this recipe since it retains heat so well. It’s not required, though.

Makes 4-5 slices of French Toast (this recipe scales wonderfully, though)

1 Large Egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use half this amount of Penzey’s Double Strength Vanilla Extract)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 slices of bread, 3/4″ thick

1. Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat for five minutes. In a bowl, beat egg lightly; whisk in butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth (I cheat and use my KitchenAid mixer). Pour the mixture into a pie plate or shallow pan. Soak the bread without oversaturating, about 30 seconds per side. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off. Repeat with remaining slices. (I find it easiest to only dip as much as I need for one skillet’s worth – don’t dip all your bread at once)
2. Swirl 1 tablespoon of butter in hot skillet. Transfer the prepared bread to the skillet; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding one tablespoon of butter to the skillet for each new batch.

This is incredibly tasty – if done right, you get a nice, crisp crust on the outside and the inside is almost custard-like.

Coming up for air

First off, thanks to all of my friends, near and far, for your words and calls of support. You’ve kept me grounded and remembering that jobs are transient things – it’s friends and relationships that are important.

We were fortunate to be joined last weekend by some dear friends from my SCA days, Jen and Tracie, and their friends Bob and Laura. They were upbeat and cheerful, and provided exactly the right amount of distraction I needed for the weekend. I was teetering on the precipice of some nasty depression, and they pulled me out right when I needed it.

Saturday night was also the bachelor party for Thomas. On Friday we’d called and said due to our suddenly tight finds we’d have to pass, but Donald called Saturday morning and informed us that we were attending, and not to worry about funds. We had a fabulous dinner at Enoteca Vin (roast duck for me, a really fabulous beef tenderloin au poivre for Takaza). After that, it was over to Havana Deluxe for fine Scotch and cigars. After a stop for dessert, we took our leave from the group and came back home to hang out with Jen and company.

Sunday was a nice morning of making French toast for our guests, then going to work on the house. The realtor came by and put the sign up in front – the house is now officially on the market. Dan and I spent a good part of Sunday, Monday, and today cleaning and de-cluttering the place. We still need to move a lot of the boxes that we stuffed into the bedroom closets to give the appearance of wide, spacious closets (which they are, actually, but when they’re filled with crap it doesn’t look that way). I had a mad scramble to put the finishing touches on the house this morning before the realtor’s weekly agency tour of new listings came through – I almost made it too. The first agents came through right as I was finishing up, so I pulled the car out of the garage and threw all the boxes that were stacked in the dining room into the garage. Everyone was happy. I got a few nice comments about the house, which made me feel better. In comics terms, I consider it to be in Very Good, but not Near Mint condition (I haven’t taken a toothbrush to the baseboards, for instance) (Yes, that’s the kind of stuff you do when you sell a house – that’s not just me being a bizarre neat freak again :-).

Somewhere in all of this I’ve applied online for a few jobs and talked to recruiters, but there’s still a whole lot left to do. I’ve got some good websites to explore and need to keep a daily watch on Monster, Hotjobs, and Flipdog. Oh, and I applied for unemployment today. Nice that you can do that online now.

So, tomorrow. My mom is coming up from South Carolina. She’ll help me put the finishing touches on the house cleaning, and she’s bringing their pressure washer – the exterior of the house really needs it! Mom will be around until Friday, and her help will be much, much appreciated. In the meantime: more calls to recruiters, more jobs to apply for. Busybusybusy…

And somewhere, in the midst of all that, I need to find the time to snuggle with Takaza. He’s so amazing – he’s been my rock through all this, keeping my mood from bottoming out, quietly doing the Stuff That Needed To Be Done, and prodding me along when I needed it. I am more lucky than I know to have him, and I love him so much.

Well, that just sucks

And amongst other good news of the day, I was laid off today.

No, I’m not kidding.

Bless his heart, Dan came home immediately and was there when I needed him – those first few hours were rough. Dan made some of the important phone calls (canceling some memberships, getting in a handyman to see what would need to be done to make the house presentable, lining up a realtor to visit tomorrow). He’s asleep on the sofa now, worn out. My poor wolf has walking pneumonia again (when it rains it pours) and so his energy levels are pretty crappy right now.

I’ve been on the phone with a recruiter off and on all afternoon, and mentally mapping out where we’re going. I get four weeks of severance, so that’s good, and Dan still has his job. I’ll be applying for unemployment on Monday, and I need to talk to the mortgage company and see what kind of terms we can work out. Our primary goals:
1. Get me a new job…somewhere. Preferably in the Great Lakes region, but I’m not in a position to be choosy.
2. Sell the house. This is not a short process in the best of times, and when you combine a crappy market with a bad time of the year to sell a house, well, the sooner we start the process the better.
3. Talk to creditors. That starts next week – I’m not really in any shape to deal with that right now.

On the bright side, I’ve already gotten a call from a recruiter with some prospects: one in Louisville, KY, and one in Chestertown, MD (!). If nothing else, it’s comforting to know there’s possibilities out there. We’ll do all we can to get back to the Chicago area, but right now geographical location has to take second place to economic realities, and the market in Chicago for chemical engineers is in the toilet right now. We’ll see what happens.

There are a lot of questions right now, including what about MFF? All I can say is, we’ll be there and we’ll cover our responsibilities. How we’ll do that remains to be seen, but give us some time to work on it.