Sunday, May 18, 2008

more remodeling - kitchen range hood

OK, here's how I spent my Sunday afternoon: Anthony came over and we removed the old, circa 1978 kitchen range hood and replaced it with a sleek, new, quiet GE Profile stainless range hood that moves 390 CFM quietly...I think the old one might have moved 90 CFM, and a wise person would have worn headphones to run it. I'd researched them before buying the new one, and found the recommendation is to use a fan that moves 10 CFM for each linear inch of cooktop...since I have a 36" cooktop, this hood is more than adequate.

After removing the old hood (which involved mapping a couple more circuits), we took a break and drove to Adair's for their incomparable cheeseburgers, fries, and a pitcher of Shiner, all of which really hit the spot, and to top it off, there was a jam session of guys in cowboy boots playing country songs on acoustic guitars...all in all, a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm having a terrific day. I slept in, and then made my favorite breakfast: freshly squeezed orange juice and a toasted bagel with cream cheese, chives, lox, red onion sliced paper thin, and capers, topped off with a cappuccino.

The flowers in the pic...this bouquet of 24 absolutely gorgeous multi-colored roses...was delivered for me with a card that said, "Thank you for giving us birth!"...a family, inside joke...with the names of all four of my children. Beautiful, huh? However, this was delivered Thursday, at work...when I wasn't at work, but was telecommuting from the comfort of my kitchen while the tile guy worked on the shower in the master bath.

I'd opened up a browser to check my personal email, as I always do, but I thought it odd and totally random when Kath instant messaged me on my g-mail account Thursday morning that her cellphone wasn't working. Kath never i-m's me! I said that I was sorry to hear that, and idly asked what had happened. Kath messaged back and included her work number, "In case you want to get in touch with me."


We exchanged a few more messages, and then Kath wrote, "Wait a minute! Shoot! You're at HOME?!?!?!?"

I replied, "Yes, you know I'm telecommuting this week, what's the big deal?"

My land line rang. I picked up, and heard Kath's voice: "Are you at least going in tomorrow (Friday)? Tell me you're going in tomorrow..."

"Nope, I'm not going in tomorrow; the tile guy isn't half done."

"Mom, you've gotta go in tomorrow!"
Kath exclaimed.

I was incredulous, and more than a little indignant. "What difference could it possibly make to you whether I work from home or Fort Worth!" I asked, bristling.

"Well, because I had FLOWERS sent to you, at work, for Mother's Day," Kath said, "and I just got a message saying they'd delivered them..."

If you're reading this, you have no idea what a big deal this is. I work in Research & Development for a big corporation, and it would probably be easier to get on an airplane with an incendiary device than it is to get into the place where I work. To have anything delivered is MAJOR.

"Well, SHOOT!" I said, "Flowers at work...oh honey, I am SO sorry I'm not there..."

"At least your co-workers will get to enjoy them,"
Kath said hesitantly, trying to make the best of it...

"But they WON'T!" I wailed miserably. "Those flowers will not get anywhere near my co-workers. They'll be languishing at the reception desk..." which is as close as any delivery person ever gets to actual work stations.

Kath said, "Just my luck! The one year I get it together and manage to make arrangements ahead of time for Mother's Day, my efforts are going to result in your receiving a bouquet of dead flowers delivered to you at work, from me..."

"If the card says, 'Here's what I think of your mothering skills!' you're really in trouble,"
I said, chuckling. Kath and I are very much alike, and have regularly butted heads over the years. We both began to laugh.

The end result: I drove out Thursday night and picked up my gorgeous bouquet of flowers. On Friday, I received a package from Alex & Chris, which I opened this morning. It contained the entire Thin Man collection on DVD:

I LOVE those movies! The boys will check in with me later today, and I realize that I am one lucky woman to be having such a terrific Mother's Day. This got me to thinking of one of my favorite essays by one of my favorite writers, who also happened to be a mom, Erma Bombeck, and a mom to whom I could relate ("Never trust anyone with clean cookie sheets", she once said).

Here is her essay, entitled, "The Perfect Mom".

Everyone said Sharon was a terrific mother. Her neighbors said it. Sharon painted the inside of her garbage cans with enamel, grew her own vegetables, cut her own grass every week, made winter coats for the entire family from remnants, donated blood and baked Barbara Mandrell a doll cake for her birthday.

Her mother said it. Sharon drove her to the doctor’s when she had an appointment, color-coordinated the children’s clothes and put them in labeled drawers, laundered aluminum foil and used it again, planned family reunions, wrote her Congressman, cut everyone’s hair and knew her health insurance policy number by heart.

Her children’s teacher said it. She helped her children every night with their homework, delivered her son’s paper route when it rained, packed nutritious lunches with little raised faces on the sandwiches, was homeroom mother, belonged to five car pools and once blew up 234 balloons by herself for the seventh grade cotillion.

Her husband said it. Sharon washed the car when it rained, saved antifreeze from year to year, paid all the bills, arranged their social schedule, sprayed the garden for bugs, moved the hose during the summer, put the children on their backs at night to make sure they didn’t sleep on their faces, and once found a twelve-dollar error on a tax return filed by H & R Block.

Her best friend said it. Sharon build a bed out of scraps left over from the patio, crocheted a Santa Claus to cover the extra roll of toilet paper at Christmastime, washed fruit before her children ate it, learned to play the harpsichord, kept a Boston fern alive for a whole year, and when the group ate lunch out, Sharon always figured out who owed what.

Her minister said it. Sharon found time to read all the dirty books and campaign against them. She played guitar at evening services. She corresponded with a poor family in Guatemala…in SPANISH. She put together a cookbook to raise funds for a new coffee maker for the church. She collected door to door for all the health organizations.

Sharon was one of those women blessed with a knack for being organized. She planned a “theme party” for the dog’s birthday, made her children elaborate Halloween costumes out of old grocery bags and her knots came out just right on the shoelaces when they broke. She put a basketball hoop over the clothes hanger as an incentive for good habits, started seedlings in a toilet paper spindle, and insulated their house with empty egg cartons, which everyone else threw away. Sharon kept a schedule that would have brought any other women to her knees. Need twenty-five women to chaperone a party? Give the list to Sharon. Need a mother to convert the school library to the Dewey Decimal System? Call Sharon. Need someone to organize a block party, garage sale or a school festival? Get Sharon. Sharon was a SUPER MOM! Her gynecologist said it. Her butcher said it. Her tennis partner said it.

Her children…
Her children never said it. They spent a lot of time with Rick’s mother, who was always home with them and who ate cookies out of a box and played poker with them.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

more remodeling pics

Things are progressing, albeit slowly. From left to right: cement board is being installed to provide a good backing for the tile; my requested shampoo shelf has been roughed-in; reinforcements for the grab bars have been installed between the studs; new insulation has been placed in the walls and cement board installed on the ceiling, which wasn't tiled before, but will be in the new shower.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

a full day...

1. I was up, functioning, and online at 7:10, because I'm telecommuting while my shower gets rebuilt.
2. I transferred money from savings into Mike's bank account to subsidize his trip to Hungary this month.
3. I transferred money from savings into my checking account so I'll be able to pay for the shower remodel.
4. I bit the bullet and scheduled a guy to come repair the icemaker on my refrigerator, which has been out so long that I can't remember when it last worked. A couple of years ago I figured out a solenoid needs replacing, and there was a time that I'd have tackled that myself, but no more. The interesting thing about scheduling this repair, to me, is that I did it online, without ever speaking a word to anyone.
5. At 9AM, I participated in an hour long conference call with my counterparts on the west coast and in Europe. I was particularly glad I did this, as no one else from Texas was on that call, an irony not lost on me (the lone telecommuter).
6. I called and scheduled Terminix to come back, having discovered a mud tube on an outside corner of the fireplace that they missed when they did the annual inspection a few weeks ago.
7. I called and scheduled a meeting with the landscape architect, who's going to show me his ideas for my back yard (which will remain theoretical until I can afford to implement them).
8. I spotted a ruby-throated chameleon cleverly disguised as part of the chain on one of the pots of petunias on my patio...meaning instead of his usual gorgeous chartreuse he was brown. I documented this.

9. I inadvertently managed to get my lawn cut. There was a crew from one of the big companies cutting the grass next door, and I went out and asked how much they'd charge to do my yard. The guy quoted exactly what my regular guy charges, so I said, "OK, never mind," thinking if the price were the same, I'd rather pay an individual than a big company. I went back to my computer only to hear a lawnmower that sounded much closer than my neighbor's yard...and that's because it was right outside my dining room windows; they'd gone ahead and started doing my lawn anyway. So I paid the company instead of the individual...and the yard does look good.
10. I met with the plumber, who installed the ceramic valve and extended the height of the pipe on which the shower head is mounted, from it's previous 66" to 75".
11. I discussed the tile layout with the tile guy, and also reviewed where I want crosspieces placed between the studs, for grab bars and for mounting one of the medicine cabinets on the other side of the shower.
12. I spent about half an hour this evening working on the narrow border filled with monkey grass outside the front door. I'm changing out the landscape timbers with bricks.
13. I spent a few minutes admiring the 5 month old granddaughter of one of my neighbors.
14. I had dinner with another neighbor, who took me away from working on my flowerbeds to share fajitas with him at Chili's.

And more remodeling pics...1st, the new valve; 2nd - water damage; 3rd - countertop clutter...boy, am I glad I didn't already have the marble countertop installed in there.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the tile guy...

OK, here's the Before of the shower stall in the master bath. I am so tired of that cafe au lait tile, and the porcelain soap dish and the towel bar...why is there a towel bar in the shower? And a crummy, plastic, square towel bar at that? And while I'm at it...have I mentioned how really, really, really tired I am of those old Price-Pfister faucets that were hard to grip and always all but impossible to turn off? Well I am (completely tired of them).

Still, it might have stayed like this until the next owner, except that the shower stall had begun to leak, preparation for the remodel, this 1970's wonder was partially demo'd today, by the ever-so-tidy tile guy who is a dead ringer for...Edward Norton. fact, he sort of smiled like this when I asked if he could lay the new tile diagonally...smiling about the upcharge on the change order, no doubt...

I worked like a demon on my laptop in the kitchen while he began taking apart the shower stall, and by this afternoon, this is what the shower stall looked like:

and no, he didn't wander into the kitchen mumbling anything about losing time, thank goodness...

After pics to follow when the work is done...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

mailbox, before & after

Bit by bit, I'm redoing things around my house. A couple of weekends ago I redid the flower bed around the mailbox, using bricks that I'd saved from when the pool was taken out to build the new flowerbed border. I also lightly sanded and then stained the post and box, and as we've had a fair amount of rain in the past weeks, complete with thunderstorms, the grass is starting to green up nicely. I've read that lightning releases nitrogen into the soil. I need a new lawn mower, though.

More remodeling to follow...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

...piney green rolling hills, covered in the springtime with golden daffodils...

Memories of East Texas...
And piney green rolling hills
Covered in the springtime

With golden daffodils

Rowing on Sandy Lake come April
Harvesting hay in June

Sitting by the road watching well-fires burn
By an old October moon...
from Memories of East Texas by Michelle Shocked
Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Louisiana to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary with them. It was a gorgeous spring day, and thanks to Ladybird Johnson (who was instrumental in promoting the Highway Beautification Act, passed in 1965) the hillsides in East Texas were covered with Texas wildflowers. The state flower, the bluebonnet, is no longer blooming, but I saw endless, undulating seas of coreopsis lanceolota (lanceleaf tickseed); Erigeron annus (Daisy fleabane); and Oenothera speciosa (pink evening primrose), to name a few.

Driving back today, I decided to drive to Caddo Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the south and the only naturally formed lake in Texas.
I read somewhere that once you come to Caddo Lake and look around at the water, lined with bald cypresses draped with Spanish moss, you'll either get back into your car and go tearing out of there, or you'll feel haunted by the eerie, weird beauty of the place, and be drawn back to it, time and time again.

I fall into the second category. The first time I saw Caddo Lake was late fall or maybe winter, years ago. I'd driven to east Texas for some reason long forgotten, and somehow found myself driving to Caddo Lake (which can't really be done by accident). It was cold and foggy, and I found it more than a little creepy to get the occasional glimpse of those huge trees hung with Spanish moss...but I couldn't get the images out of my head, and so today, with the temperature 72 degrees, beneath a cloudless blue sky, I drove back.

I wasn't disappointed. Here are some of the things that I saw - note - Caddo Lake is located near Uncertain, Texas. You've gotta love that name!