Sunday, May 10, 2015

Swing Time . . .

It's Mother's Day today.  My mom has been gone for 11 years.  I'm not quite sure how time passes.  I'm definitely sure it's not linear, even though I, myself, am often linear - sometimes pedantically so, I'm afraid.  I think it's a control issue . . .  Anyway - I never celebrated Father's Day because my dad died when I was a toddler, and now that my mom has been gone so long, I find that this is just another Sunday . . . I don't reserve this day to think of her - I think of her all the time.

I thought of her a lot yesterday because I caught up with a childhood friend.  We'd had a falling out many years ago, but she stayed close to my mom.  We last saw each other at my mom's wake, 11 years ago.  Thanks to the modern marvel that is Facebook, we caught back up with each other and have been chatting there over the past six months or so.  So many things we have in common - not the least of which is a love of the fiber arts, in particular both knitting and spinning.  So yesterday we spent the day at one of my favorite places, The Fold, where we worked on C's spinning wheel (which she's decided to sell to get a newer, easier wheel), enjoyed time spent with The Fold's owner, Toni, and of course shopped a bit.  I came home with the third book in Hunter Hammersen's Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet series.  No yarn for me.  Yay!

We also went to lunch and talked - in fact, we talked so long that they locked us in the joint  :-D  We did manage to leave before they actually tossed us out.  We talked mostly about our families and our lives in the many years since we'd been in real touch.  And we talked about our moms.

This is my favorite photo of my mom. I wrote the following two years ago on FB:  "She was a true original - far ahead of her time. The true matriarch of the clan - and all my friends (and my cousins' friends) adored her. She lived every day of her life with joy and purpose, and I just cannot believe it's nine years that she is gone."

She was a second mom to my friend, C.   As mentioned, they stayed close throughout the years.  I'm really glad they did.  My mom was very fond of C, and I know my mom made a great difference in C's life.  Plus, it allowed us to reconnect all these years later.

There is something comforting about someone who has known you a very long time - even in this case where we were out of touch for decades.  We slipped easily back into the comfort of shared experience and friendship.  The threads were not difficult to pick up and knit back together.  It was a day well spent in the company of an old friend.  And it was exactly what I needed.

I have been caught up so tightly in the web of construction.  The good news is that it's done now. It's been done since May 1st.  Oh, there have been a few punch list things that were done in the last week, and there are a couple of remaining bits, but three months of construction is over.  I love everything.

Why am I showing you this?  Because in the past, that pond in the yard after a storm always equated to a soggy mess in the basement.  Not anymore.

And the bathroom is done (except that the shower head will be changed out this week and I still haven't decided on a picture for that frame).

This side of the kitchen is now done, too - and I really really love having that open space on the center bank of shelves.

And on Friday I managed to get everything out of the staging area that is rightfully my dining room.  I even dusted my mom's crystal chandelier.  The living room is close to being normal again.

A lot of this stuff is already put away and I'm getting all the remaining stuff on the kitchen bar put away today (hey, I had to move the lingering stuff out of the dining room and it had to go somewhere while I made some decisions about it :-D).

So yeah - I do love everything - but I had no earthly idea that the process of giving large parts of my space a facelift would completely deconstruct me.  Deconstruct me in ways that I would never have thought possible.

Oh. My. God.  I am not kidding.

I have been completely discombobulated by three months of complete and total chaos.  Old habits. Old coping mechanisms.  Old patterns.  They all came roaring back with a vengeance.  I don't really understand it - and pretty much all I could do was stand back and watch myself train wreck. And now, like the old song says, I'm picking myself up, dusting myself off, and starting all over again.  It's uphill at the moment.

I had a phenomenal contractor.  I adore him and his crew.  They were absolutely wonderful, but I apparently am a creature of true habit.  I need structure in my life and when I don't have it, all hell breaks loose.  My sleep was not good.  Food has not been good (Crap - construction is fattening  :-S  Did I already mention that?).  Most days I look like I've been rode hard and put away wet. It's not a good look for me.  Seriously, it's a good thing I have a job where people don't really see me much.  . . .  I'm really at the end of my rope - one of my friends called it Decision Fatigue.  All I've done for the past three months is make decisions and try to keep it together while my home was being torn apart.

Well, it hasn't been cupcakes, but food has been really really difficult. I mean, really, I used to say that I might as well have just slapped it all on my ass, except now I have completely different (and not particularly attractive) body shape - so I might just have well slapped it around my middle.  Blech  :-P

But the construction is done.  It's done.  All that remains is for me to take ahold of the pile of crap that's left in its wake, clean it up, and make some sense of it all.

I've been making efforts for the past couple of weeks to get myself back on track.  I've not been fully successful, but I'm making progress.  I took a day on Friday and worked in the house, which was a very smart plan.  I was able to get a LOT accomplished, particularly in the dining room (as you can see above).  I took another full carload to the Second Chance Shop.  I know, it's disturbing that I STILL have stuff to get rid of . . .

And yesterday was the first day I have felt like a human again.  I got out of the house for something other than work or errands and spent a wonderful afternoon.  Things are looking up, and I'm looking forward to feeling the results of my efforts . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Blast from the Past . . .

One of my cousins has gotten into in a big way.  My mom also was very interested in tracing her roots in Northern Ireland and she amassed a bit of information, and I had hired a genealogist in Northern Ireland before I went there a few years ago, and they unearthed some things. I never did anything with it.

During the mass cleanup of the basement back in January BC (that's Before Construction  ;-)), I found a couple of my mom's small, purse size notebooks where she had written some notes on the family research she had done when she visited Belfast. I brought them upstairs and put them with the rest of the info. It's all been sitting in an Anna Griffin file/fabric bag ever since.  I was supposed to mail it all to my cousin back in January BC . . . yeah. However, as has been my usual of late, I never managed to get that to happen, so her being in town was fortuitous.  I took everything over to her at her sister's on Friday night.

In one of the small notebooks, I found a coffee-stained page where my mom had written her Visa account number, her William A. Lewis ("Where the Models Buy Their Clothes") account number, and her Marshall Field's account number. Neither of the stores exists any longer. She had also written a little Imperial/Metric conversion for pounds/kilograms and miles/kilometers, and at the bottom of the page, she had listed the following four sewing patterns.

Butterick #3528 B.M.
Vogue 1519 (2)
McCall's 2398 (1)
Simplicity 7261 (1)

Sewing patterns. This intrigued me because my mom was never much of a seamstress - I was.  Although I don't sew much anymore, for many years I made all my own clothes. Since my cousin didn't need the info on that page for her research, I tore it out and brought it home.

I'm still banished to my office this morning while the painter is making the sunroom beautiful, so it seemed like a good time to see why it was so important for Mom to remember four patterns. As I found them online, all was revealed . . .

Butterick #3528 B.M.

October 4, 1986.  Yes, I made them wear those dresses in blue moire - massive sleeves and all (but no shoulder bows :-) ). It was the 80's, and you couldn't get much more 80s than this dress. They have both forgiven me, but hey, they looked gorgeous, as you can see.  So - first pattern decoded:  Bride's Maids dresses from my first wedding.

Vogue 1519 (2)

This was in the running for me on the big day - the B look - tea length without the train, hence Mom's (2) after the pattern number.

McCall's 2398 (1)

Clearly we have a theme going now.  Another dress in the running.  Mom noted (1), which was the first look with the jacket.

Simplicity 7261 (1)

This last pattern, though, was initially a bit of a mystery.  Nothing to do with a wedding. Was she thinking of it for her Mother of the Bride dress???? (OMG I hope not  :-D ) Did she want a new coat?  That seemed more reasonable, but if that was it, why this one?  Totally NOT her style at all.  A little more sleuthing, however, turned this up:

Ah - this makes more sense.  The third pattern that had been in the running for my wedding gown.  :-)

I was living in Denver back then, and she'd written them all down so she could go to the store in Illinois and see them.

Which did I choose?  The McCall's one was the winner. A friend from the theatre, Micheal Gold, (he also stood up in the wedding) made it for me.

I immediately recognized the pattern when I saw it - but interestingly enough, I had no recollection of the two that didn't make the cut.  Clearly the McCall's Laura Ashley look was far and away my first choice.

My marriage didn't last even five years, but last I checked, my maid of honor still has my Laura Ashley wedding dress hanging in her closet because she loved it so much.  :-)

Funny how the past finds us now and again, isn't it?

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I am going to paint my front door red and change my name to Elizabeth Arden (obscure theatre reference for those of you keeping score at home  ;-D )

Yet . . .

Well, we're stumbling to the finish line, I'm afraid.

Not all the trim came in for the sunroom cabinets, so they are not done.  Yet.  Plus, I realized that I forgot to buy pulls for the cabinet doors.  Great.  No putting stuff away in them. Yet.

But they're gorgeous  :-)  So is the granite.  :-)

The granite's in the bathroom, but not sealed.  The backsplash isn't done, and the sink is not hooked up.  That means that I cannot use that bathroom for anything.  Yet. 

But it's gorgeous  :-)

The painter is here today and he's working in the sunroom.  That means I'm banished to my office, which is a disasterland on par with the living and dining rooms . . .

 Most of that corner is stuff from the sunroom - but I've determined that I don't want baskets all over in there any longer, so it's time to get rid of them.  But probably not this week.  Crossing my fingers for next week  :-)

The ORKIN man was just here, and I'm about to hop in the car to make a quick run to the Second Chance Shop so that I'm there right at 10 when they open.  Then I'm racing over to the dealership for my car's first service.  It's free  :-)  Then I have to pick up a can of red paint for the front door, and then I'm back here.

And when I'm back here, I'm going to be in my office, so I'm thinking it's time for me to get stuff filed, stuff dusted (again), and stuff put away.  That will go a long way toward getting this space back to being functional.  There is still a lot in here that will eventually be in the new bathroom.  I think I'm going to move it all into the guest room where the rest of the stuff is so that I can get this room in some kind of order again.

That's my exciting Saturday  :-D

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Neverending Story . . .

Oh. My. God.

No, it's still not done . . .

 I washed the kitchen curtains (OxyClean for the win!)  They were still drying here, but they look like new again  :-)

The kitchen is pretty much done and the shelves have undergone a serious transformation . . .  You can't see the completely full third shelf, but you can get a pretty good idea (and you can tell how . . . um . . . grey . . . the kitchen curtains were.  Eeeuuw!).  So - from this . . .

 To this:

 The sunroom has gone from this:

To this.  The space will be primed and the new cabinets in tomorrow.  Cross your fingers.  (You can see some of the "before" kitchen shelves in this photo, too.)  The painter will paint this room completely over the weekend.

 Last time you saw the bathroom, it was gutted to the studs.  At the moment, it looks like this:

And this:

There is water in the tub to keep any other workmen from using the faucet or standing in it.  The tile and grout are not sealed yet, and the shower glass is not in yet.  Tomorrow the vanity should be done and the rest of the backsplash should also be done.

I'm not even going to show you the living room and dining room because although I managed to get the sofa cleared off (which means that I got the front hall closet put back together - well, mostly put back together), the dining room is now full of plants and stuff from the sunroom because the painter is coming this weekend to paint in there.

The hall's done, though  :-)

There is light at the end of the tunnel.  My amazing and wonderful cleaning lady will be coming early tomorrow morning, and she should be able to get the sunroom pretty clean, and also the guest room, my room, and the guest bath, as well as the kitchen.  The rest (my office and the living and dining rooms) she's going to have to come back for next time - and I'm getting a quote on having the windows washed.

That's the update from The Third Coast.  I realized today that this work started on February 2nd, so it's been chaos and dust here for two and a half months.  My hair is standing on end more than usual.  I love everything that's happening - I just wish it would have happened a little faster  :-D

Friday, April 3, 2015

Whoomp, There it Is . . .

The painter is going to start painting tomorrow.  He's going to start in the kitchen, and then that room will be done except for the one missing puck light in the corner.  The other half of my kitchen has a built-in where I have a LOT of books.  But the painter is starting in the kitchen.  Tomorrow.  At 8:30 a.m.  So I cleared everything out . . .

But you know, it hadda go somewhere . . .

And JesisMaryandJoseph it didn't all fit, so the overflow is in the living room, along with the contents of the front hall closet, and five rather large (Rather large, China (obscure theatre reference for those of you keeping score at home)) boxes containing the medicine cabinet, the new bathroom mirror, and the new black table and chairs for the kitchen (yeah that old white cafe chair in the first photo above is headed for the basement).

I mean it - my hair is standing on END (more than usual).  I've reached the end of my rope, tied the knot, and am hanging on (thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt).

Truth be told, I'm actually pretty excited about having all the books out - they all need to be dusted off, and it's time for me to go through them all - I'm sure there's got to be a shelf or two's worth that I can divest. 

Yeah, I'm still divesting.  I really don't know how it's possible that I STILL have stuff I can divest, and yet, whoomp, there it is . . .

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Disasterland . . .

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

Construction is a beyotch.  I started this post at least a month ago. . .

Construction continues.

Construction is fattening . . .   :-S

Construction is dusty.  Oh yes, it was this bad . . .

Stuff is everywhere.

I'm crazed.

Using the guest bathroom is way different than using my own bathroom.

Not having a functional kitchen for about three weeks was very difficult.

Haven't been to WW in two weeks.  It won't be pretty when I go on Saturday.  It's quite possible that I have undone all my progress, but it is what it is.  

I haven't shared any progress photos since mid-February . . .  I'm going to try to do some before/after stuff for you.  Hold on to your hats this is a photo-heavy post :-)

You've seen the before on the basement - here are the after shots.  It still looks very much like this because I haven't had the time to get down there and move things around.

The work down here consisted of an interior drain tile complete with new pit and sump pump, new glass block windows, a new door,  floor cracks filled, floor stained and sealed, the walls painted and sealed and the blobby mortar removed from the fireplace (and it painted and sealed).  The majority of this work is what my cousn, ME, called "physical plant" work.  The stuff you have to do so the house doesn't fall down around you.  Most of it was stuff that the previous owners should have done.  But they didn't.  What it all means, is that my basement will never be wet again, and the foundation of my house is now stable again, which means I should not have "settling" cracks upstairs ever again.

Once this stuff was done, construction moved upstairs to my kitchen . . .This was my mid-80s white Euro kitchen. 

This is my kitchen now.

Granite countertop, new cooktop, new cabinet pulls new sink, a faucet that I'm in love with, and backsplash that's so hot that I can't even tell you . . .  Yes, I lost my pot rack - apparently I was the only person who ever liked it.  And all the ceiling lighting is now mini spots.  And I lost my ceiling fan, but since I think I turned it on maybe once in 11 years, it was no great loss and the ReStore was happy to have it.  The big fluorescent upper tubes are gone, replaced with puck lights above and below.  There is one missing in the corner where the corner cabinet used to be.  Here is a closeup of the sink:

I have a rack now for the bottom of the sink.  I originally wanted a farmhouse style sink, but the only way for me to have done that would have been to get all new cabinets . . . um . . . no.  This is pretty much the same thing, just an undermount that doesn't come all the way forward.

And this is the granite.  It's absolutely gorgeous but difficult to photograph well. The blue eyes look like labradorite  :-)

So the kitchen is nearly done - just bits and pieces left, like the puck light and some work on the pocket door.

Here's my former yellow bathroom - original to the house, if I'm not mistaken, circa 1961 . . .

Kinda hard to photograph well.  The vanity was quite low - made for a really short person, I guess.  When I bought the house 11 years ago, one of my cousins dubbed this the Star Trek bathroom because it was completely wallpapered - walls and ceiling (yes, really) - in silver metallic.  Ugh.

Here's how it looked after the demolition . . .

Here was the second linen closet in the hall:

Yeah, that's gone . . .

And so is my former bathroom door . . . that's a new pocket door.

The bathroom is still in progress.  A couple of days ago, it looked like this:

And today, the ceiling and picture frame tile went in:

It's kinda so gorgeous I can hardly stand it  :-D

One other wonderful thing that happened during these crazy weeks, was that my long-time suspicion about my hall floor was proven to be correct:  Some moron had tiled over the existing hardwood . . .It was still under there, stained dark walnut (who DOES that to Red Oak?!) not much the worse for having had subfloor stapled and some concrete actually poured on it . . .

Discovered some old entryway tile under there, too . . .

Yeah, that's gone.

Here's the floor after sanding and one coat - they will finish it next week when the bathroom is finished.  It's very close to the floors I had done 11 years ago. 

They couldn't get all the concrete off without ruining the wood. I think it just gives it more character, myself.  It's really, really gorgeous.

So - my guest room has been looking like this with all the stuff from the hall linen closet and some of the stuff from the bathroom.

And my living room is looking like this with all the stuff from the front hall closet:

Are you still with me???  Told ya, lotta photos . . .

The only oasis of calm in all this crazy has been my sunroom, and I'm having work done in there, as well.  This is the room where I spend most of my time, and for those of you who have actually physically been in the sunroom, you know that it's usually full of creative crap.  Projects everywhere, baskets of fiber and magazines and what have you.  Well, I had to get everything out of it, so now it looks kinda like this.  I say kinda, because I've moved the tables around. 

The sofa is shoved over to make room for what the guys are working on in there, but OMG I cannot tell you how calm and serene and peaceful it is without crap everywhere.  I'm going to do my best to keep it like this from now on.

Here is my built-in, built, again, in the mid-80s when everyone had a square telly . . .


Yes, I got all the CDs and DVDs and LPs out.  And I cleared the wet bar, and the cabinet and the two drawers.  Today, it looks like this:

Just waiting on its next coat of mud (probably two or three more coats, actually), and the new cabinets  :-)

So that's the update from The Third Coast this evening.  

I'm hanging in . . .