So, it’s been quiet here lately, and I hope to post a bit more than I have over the last few months.
Things are going OK at work, though the project I’m on is the kind of thing that seems easy at first but then grows in complexity and volume. I swear, someone at $employer must have a military background, because in order to get anything done you must first fill out form DR-CQ-271, followed by DR-CQ-272, but in order to that you need to fill our form DR-CQ-877, 878, 879, and 890 (all of which require the signatures of at least three separate people). I find it truly astonishing that anything gets done here – it’s like work gets done in spite of the paperwork. That having been said, though, it’s not a bad gig overall. Still no idea when (or if) I’ll be hired on full time, but in the meantime, the pay is good.
When I get paid, that is. There was a bit of a screwaround a few weeks back when we found out that my contracting service sent my paycheck to the wrong address. That was followed by them having to FedEx my next two paychecks to me, plus my direct deposit was delayed by someone in their office mis-transcribing my checking account number. Theoretically, my next paycheck will be deposited tomorrow, if it isn’t delayed by the fact that I had to bug my manager this morning to approve my timesheet from two weeks ago. And this will be only half a paycheck, since I didn’t work last week due to the annual winter shutdown. Even with all that, though, our cash flow is good and bills will be paid on time.
Before I go any further I wanted to mention Christmas. Normally we would have been with my parents and my sister’s family down in South Carolina for the holiday. Unfortunately, since I was uncertain of my time off until right before Christmas (they may have called me in over shutdown) and Dan didn’t have any vacation to spare, we had to pass on the trip south this year. Instead, we spent Christmas Eve with
‘s mom, and Christmas Day with
The Christmas Eve dinner is especially worthy of note. We took Dan’s mom to Le Vichyssoise, a noted French restaurant just outside of McHenry. She had worked at Le Vichysoisse for twenty years as a bartender before quitting six years ago to focus on nursing full-time. Fortunately, the parting was amicable, which afforded us the opportunity for an outstanding meal. Dan’s mom and I each had a couple of glasses of wine, an appetizer (my roasted-tomato-and-onion tart was excellent), and soup (my vichyssoise was also quite tasty). Following a tasty Poire William sorbet, compliments of the chef, they brought our entrees: steak au poivre for Dan, beef tourenados for me, and a scallops dish for Dan’s mom. We capped the meal with a collection of sumptuous desserts, including the “Floating Island”, a meringue floating in a vanilla crème Anglais drizzled with caramel, and I had a cappuccino.
I knew going in that this was not going to be a cheap meal; this is a highly-rated restaurant, the prices reflect that. Then they brought the bill: $365.00. I probably blanched a bit, but to my credit Dan said he didn’t notice anything was wrong. I just calmly put my debit card back into my wallet and pulled out the credit card. When the receipt was brought, I swallowed hard and added a 15% tip (alas, the service waned a bit towards the end of the meal), bringing the total to $415. I was somewhat shell-shocked as we drove to Dan’s brother’s house to visit, and I’m sure the quiet hand signals between Dan and I as Dan found out how much the meal cost were probably quite amusing to see.
As we chatted with Dan’s brother’s family, Dan got a phone call (he was the one who had made the reservation). Apparently, they had double-charged us for the meal, and the final bill was only $183. Whew. That was more like I was expecting. I was chided by Dan’s mom for not speaking up, but hey – that’s not how I am. (“Oh my GOD! Look how expensive this meal is! This can’t be right!” Yeah, that’s real smooth). And yeah, pride probably played into it a bit too. Either way, though, I’m just glad that that things worked out. We left Dan’s brother’s late and headed up to Antioch, where we found Roho and Genet, remarkably, still awake. We chatted a bit then all headed off to bed.
Christmas Day was wonderfully lazy. We had a tasty breakfast, then watched some TV, chatted, and poked at our computers a bit. Genet and Roho had started a turkey brining the night before (yay for Alton Brown!) and I was able to help provide a few tips on cooking it. Genet did most of the cooking, but all of us helped out a little bit. The finished dinner was absolutely delicious, and it was really nice to spend the time with friends.
The following week was spent putting together the New Year’s Eve party, which I already mentioned. That pretty much brings me up to date, except to mention what’s going on right now. Dan and I are hot on the trail of a new place to live, with the goal of moving by the end of the month. We have a couple of places lined up to look at on Saturday, in Wauconda, Hainesville (Grayslake), and Antioch, and will probably be looking at more places on Sunday. The idea is that Dan could take the train in to work from Hainesville or Antioch, or have about a 40-minute drive from Wauconda. I feel kind of bad, because all of these put me at most 20 minutes from my work (and about 5 minutes in the case of Hainesville). That’s the reality of what we can afford, though – things in our price range further south are either apartments (not what we want) or…unacceptable. Our hope is that we can find a place to live for a year and then, once we have a little more savings and better financial security, buy a place next year.
Oh, and a note to locals: yeah, expect that call for help moving something in the next few weeks 🙂 We’ll give as much notice as we possibly can. And now, back to work!