Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Day of Frustrations, a Weekend of Fun

Frustration #1
I failed the Minnesota Written Driving Test

I can retake it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day - and I'll sleep with the exam booklet.

When I told Gerry I failed we had this little exchange:

G - I've
never failed a test.
A - Shut up.

G - Not a written driving test, at least.

A - Shut UP!

G - No, now that I think of it, I haven't even failed the
driving portion of any test.
A -
Oh - just shut up.

Always useful, the yelling. Actually, we were both amused, it was a funny exchange. A nice release.

Frustration #2

Chasing down money for teaching is so annoying.

Fighting with a venue over expenses they owe me
(in addition to teaching fees reaching back over 3 months) is aggravating.

Almost more frustrating is trying to convince a venue that if they want to hire me to teach from 9-5 one day, AND from 2-5 the next day, they MUST pay for 2 nights accommodation (they only want to pay for one - am I supposed to sleep in my car the night before my first night of teaching?)

THIS is when I feel the stress. So much of the stuff I do around the house - the painting, the putting up shelves, laundry, dishes, driving folks around, shopping - all of that stuff is a kind of stress release.

Work is hard, but it's work. There's a certain relief in knowing what I have to do, and doing it.
Dealing with folks who turn themselves inside out to find arguments not to pay me, I'm on shaky ground there, and it upsets me more than it should.

This is by far the EXCEPTION to the rule - 99% of the time venues are SO great, they treat me wonderfully, I do well for them and teach great classes and we're all happy.

It's so frustrating when I knock my brains out for a venue, teach a lot of classes, have a lot of happy students, but the venue refuses to pay legitimate expenses and is 3 months late with teaching fees (I was told today, "Our accountant is out, the check has just been printed." Not even in the mail yet.)

I can't go into the details, but I won't be working with this organization again - this kind of grief I can live without.

Standing up for ourselves as knit teachers and designers is not easy - caving would be MUCH simpler. But I don't want to sow those seeds. I'm in this for the long haul, and this is how I earn my mortgage.

Frustration #3
Wire that I've ordered for a class this weekend is late in arriving - this frustration is MY fault - so I looked up where to find Artistic Wire in the area. However, when I drove to the art shop it was closed. That was also something I also could have remedied by calling ahead. Clear thinking isn't my strong suit today.

However, around the corner was a Michaels so I did get some wire (not the kind I'd like, but
it will do) and was able to run a few errands while spending some time with Hannah, who had a half day today. A frustration turned into a good thing.

Making all of this up was a nice, long chat with Laurie this morning - I love her. She's an amazing writer and soon she'll be so famous she won't even admit that she knows me. (Ha - who will be the stalker then, Ms. Laurie??)

I'm dying to read her book - I'm told I'm mentioned in it (heavens I hope it's not the drunken stupor incident - oops, now it's public record!) I really wish I would be in NY when she's going to be there in June - instead I'll be at...

All of my classes sold out quickly, which makes me feel so good. I love to teach - I hate the messy money part - and I'm SO excited about TNNA. I'm also really looking forward to Midwest Masters this weekend, teaching in Wisconsin has been such a blast, and this proves to be just as much fun.

The Twin Cities are nothing if not bike friendly! I used to ride a Motobecane all over New Brunswick when I was in grad school, and I was never in better shape. I even briefly wore a size 10 (for about 30 minutes) and I LOVED flying around on my white bike. But, alas, it was stolen and I was bereft.

Yesterday I looked up bikes on Craigs' List and found 2 - a Peugeot for Hannah,and a Motobecane for me. It's very similar to my last one, a little nicer (and a cool blue color!) and Gerry's amused himself for a good part of the afternoon checking out both bikes and discovering what has to be fixed on both of them. It's good brain and hand work, it takes some muscle, but it's not lifting anything heavy - perfect!

A dear, dear friend who lives nearby offered us the loan of a walker, which we'll take up. It's the groovy kind with a seat, so ostensibly Gerry could sit in the walker for nice long trips to the park or museum while the kids help him along. If he wants to walk, then one of the kids could ride along if he feels self-conscious just pushing himself. It's easy to pooh-pooh the pride angle, how awful it feels to be mistaken for someone older and feeble, but keeping a good mental picture of ourselves is vital to recover, I think. This walker straddles the line between really necessary, and sort of groovy (it's metallic green) Vroom!

I've mentioned that we need to add an addition to our kitchen. Our plan is to get the wall demolished, get the space roughed in (with toilet and shower and laundry hookups) and then do the finishing on our own time.

We need a toilet, and we need it sooner rather than later. Eventually the kitchen will happen. Here is a rough draft of my dream of the layout of the new area. Tiny bathroom, and laundry off the kitchen - hooah!

Now we have to coordinate with our contractor and get going. He's getting busy - I hope we don't have to find another. I really like him.


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Anonymous Robin said...

I hope you get ALL your money soon!! That being said I'm sure glad it's not enough to make you even think about not teaching, I hope someday soon to be able to scoot across the Big Lake and take one of your classes. The kitchen/bathroom/laundry room plans look fantastic. My dad used a walker with the seat. He was very worried about what other people thought about him and what he looked like all his life. He used it without any hint of it hurting his pride, it saved his energy for when he needed it most. A lot of the time he would walk a bit, sit down for little rest, and so on and so forth. It was a very good thing. I hope Gerry uses it, even if just about the house and yard, it will help, if he needs it. Wait, I forgot one thing, You and Hannah enjoy those new bikes!!

April 26, 2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

When I was a young bride relocated from Minnesota to Iowa in 1961, the examiners gave me the Iowa license without taking the written or the driving test. They said anyone who can pass the Minnesota test doesn't need to take another one. I don't imagine they do that these days, but I think the MN written test is still a doozy. Study the book--you'll pass next time.

April 26, 2007 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my husband needed to trade in his NY license for a VA one, they gave it to him with no test. When we moved to yet another state, I assumed it would be the same way. No, I had to take a written. I failed by one question and was so embarrassed. I studied the book and got 100% the next time, but I am still upset that I failed the first time. So ashamed that I am posting this anonymously...

April 26, 2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an architect who struggles to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act clearances on projects at work, as required by federal law, you should consider revising the bathroom layout, before starting work, to make sure Gerry can get in and out comfortably. There is a lot of information out there, though most jurisdictions don't require it for residential construction, you might be smart to consider it. Extra clearances at the door, in the toilet area, a pull-up sink, and perhaps a roll-in shower, flush/sloping down from the main bathroom floor, would be super nice, if there's any way to plan for it now - perhaps the laundry could be closed off behind louvered doors, within the bathroom? A walker isn't as big as a wheelchair, but it would probably be nice to plan for more elbow room, if you're going to spend any money at all.

April 27, 2007 6:10 AM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...

Blog stalker here, but had to chime in re: teaching fees and expenses. I do some of the featured presenter "booking" here at our center and we wouldn't think of only giving someone one day's lodging if we asked her to spend two days. An exception would be if the travel fees were included in the honorarium. If they are so concerned about another $100 they shouldn't be booking you. Otherwise we would renegotiate the start end times, but seriously I can't imagine not putting up for another night. Sheesh. Good luck.

April 27, 2007 8:38 AM  
Blogger Shea said...

Definitely don't feel bad about your driving test. I failed the first one I ever took because I couldn't parallel park. Also because the lady testing me was pregnant, nervous as hell and I was driving a stick. Not a good combination all told. What I want to know is, since when is a 76 failing? Keep your chin up!

April 27, 2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous indigirl said...

When I moved to California from Illinois, I failed the written portion of my driving test not once but twice! I felt much the same way... had never even gotten a C on a test before in my life.

April 27, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger Seanna Lea said...

Your posts aren't showing up on Bloglines, but I decided to check in. I hope you and your family are all keeping a stiff upper lip and that Gerry feels a bit better.

April 27, 2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I took the CA driver's test 3 times when I moved to CA. I really thought that getting the school zone speed limit too low (it's 25mph, not 15....or was...) should be an acceptable answer. Then I almost failed the eye test.

April 27, 2007 12:34 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Kim - I got that one wrong, too!

I said that average neighborhood speed was 25, it's 30 here in MN.

Almost all of the ones I got wrong were number ones (how far away from a bike should you drive - it's 3', not 6' - stuff like that.)

I'm studying!

And those of you with the bathroom comments, you've pretty much got me convinced to switch the size of the laundry room with the bathroom to give more room. Thanks so much for the input!

April 27, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mary the Digital Knitter said...

Annie, I hate to say this, but you really need to consider the possibility that Gerry might need to use a wheelchair. Tucking the toilet back in the corner like that isn't going to work if he does. The room needs to be at least five feet square, too.

Why not put the laundry equipment into the actual kitchen and make a big bathroom with a good-sized roll-in shower? Or put the laundry in the corner, making it longer and narrower, taking a corner out of the kitchen? You'd probably have enough space to make a pantry, too.

Even if he never desperately needs such a bathroom, it would be a lot more luxurious at a very low cost if you do it now. Tiny bathrooms are an endless annoyance. They're hard to clean, too.

Finally, put a linen closet in there somewhere, like over the toilet. No one wants to dash through the kitchen, dripping wet and stark naked, when there's no towel to be found in the bathroom.

Just something to think about. My dear husband has been in a wheelchair since he was about ten, so this is a subject I have some first-hand experience with.

April 27, 2007 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Ann (yet another) said...

Annie, I forgot. Some place around here I have a design guide from the PVA. Shoot.

AHA! They have a new edition

look under Accessible Home Design at the top of the page.

Now, I also forgot. Any accessibility points that do NOT add to the value of your home are tax deductions. Therefore, grabbars - a gimme - keep your receipts and you are golden. Bathrooms, aka capital improvements, you need a valuation and has to not add to the value of the home - which bathrooms tend to do. I refer you to my friend and yours, publication 502 of the IRS - medical tax deductions.

(I failed parallel parking.....bowing head in shame.....I plead circumstances since I was driving a honking big Dodge station wagon)

April 27, 2007 5:31 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I know how Gary feels. I'm a relatively young woman, but I rely on an electric cart for shopping or walking for any great distance. I have a rolling chair in my kitchen so I can cook. The first time I used a cart I felt...a little embarrassed. After that though, when I realized that I still had enough energy after shopping to actually put away the felt better. He's going to have to learn to budget...not just time and money....but energy too. And that is the one I do resent sometimes, because I want to do so MUCH more than my body will let me.

Gary, use what you need so that you can go places without hurting, or pooping out so soon that you feel bad about cutting short someones trip. Oddly, you will feel so free. Free of pain, free to go places, do things, see people, make friends. Look at the mobility assistant devices as you would glasses.

Good luck collecting from the deadbeats. Not paying someone who's traveled to give a class is not nice.

April 28, 2007 12:15 AM  
Anonymous Robin/Indy said...

Annie - I recently moved to a house with the laundry room next to the bedrooms. Consider lots of extra sound-proofing insulation (or whatever). The room has a louvered door for air-flow when using a gas appliance...but it really allows lots of noise out into the hall, family room etc. Don't need the noise of washer/dryer to interact with talking when cooking and everyday activities. But it is so nice to have it in a convenient place.
I also have had to use a wheel chair or walker at certain times during back problems - things to get used to, but it's so wonderful (as previously stated) to be able to get out and still have some energy left. It really opens your eyes to many things when you have to ration your steps and the amount of things you can do in a day. People can never truly know until they've walked in those shoes.
Lots of happy thoughts to your family... Robin/Indy

April 28, 2007 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

De-lurking to say I concur with comments about maximizing the bathroom space. There are so many clever ways to tuck a laundry into existing space (consider stacking the W/D?) -- perhaps making a single large room serve multiple functions would give you more usable space for both. Great book for reference -- "The Not So Big House." Good luck!

April 28, 2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

I can certainly empathize about the hassle of collecting money owed.

I went to TNNA for the first time this year and I'm still trying to collect from 3 accounts for merchandise shipped in January. I'd had such good luck shipping first and *then* billing with my other accounts that I didn't think twice about it at TNNA. If I go again all TNNA accounts will be pre-paid or I won't ship. Evidently there are shops out there that think nothing of taking delivery for merchandise and then not paying for it. I guess these are the painful lessons one learns with a new business.

Fortunately (?) I also work full-time outside my business so even though the non-payment hurts it won't be fatal.

I hope you can get the money that's owed to you!

April 28, 2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Annie, I'm fearing the organization messing with you and your hard-earned money is the one where I had the good fortune of meeting you in March. No way to treat nationally-respected teachers. Guess I'll look for you when the GA yarn shops bring you back!

April 28, 2007 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Gae Fenske said...

Hey, here in our part of Australia, those walking frames with the seat are known as 'Harleys'!

April 29, 2007 8:25 AM  
Blogger Knitted Gems said...

Can I admit that the first time I took my drivers test I failed the driving portion? (No, I wasn't 16 ... I was a bit older). I suppose that is why I prefer to use my bicycle as my main form of transportation. Good luck on the retake! Love your blog!

May 01, 2007 7:38 AM  
Blogger The natural knitter said...

Minnesota has one of the hardest driving tests. I'm not sure what is different but everyone fails it once. My daugher failed it three times. (the driving part) She also totalled her first car before it was insured (3 days after she got her license) so maybe THERE was a reason she failed the test. Good Luck with the test and I'll keep you all in my prayers as you go through this new journey. Take care of yourself. Come visit the shop one day

May 08, 2007 4:47 PM  

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