Monday, January 15, 2018

Goodbye, Harvest Gold (With Before Pictures!)

Toilet room, looking west to east.
I've been meaning to write this post for a few weeks, but non-blogging inertia is a strong force to overcome. When I reached a head count of five persons asking me how the bathroom remodel is going, though, I knew the day had come for some Before pictures.

Husband and I are of an age when we have begun to think "Hmmm, I believe we have no more children living in this house."

Yes, you are correct that this entire blog is founded on the notion that no more children are living in this house, but it takes a few years before that sentiment sinks in. The actual moment it began to sink in for me was when Husband said "Do you think we should be looking at downsizing and getting a smaller place?"

That was the signal for me to completely lose my composure. I loooooove the House on the Corner (with a few exceptions for extremely annoying quirks) and every board and nail is freighted with memories and sentiment. I love the1927-era ironing board that's built into the corner of the kitchen. I love the stairway that has a grand-ish entrance from the living room and merges with the humbler entrance from the kitchen halfway up. I even love the stains on its hardwood floors that could not be removed when, on my hands and knees, I stripped those floors 15 years ago.

So as I blubbered to Husband about how I wanted to move straight from this house into the retirement home, it prompted a conversation: Then how do we want to change this house toward that goal? Easiest answer ever: Do something about the bathroom.

The bathroom in the House on the Corner is built like a series of railroad cars. Enter off the upstairs hallway and you'll see a narrow room with a vanity and toilet. Through a door on the other end of that room is another narrow room, this one holding a bathtub. Continue through the door on the end of the tub room and you'll find yourself in a laundry room.

And actually, for a large family, this set-up is not so bad. One Boy could shower while another Boy was brushing teeth or I was doing my hair. Husband could start a load of laundry (entering from a second door through a bedroom) while the toilet room was occupied.

So we were okay with the unusual physical layout. What I was not okay with was the decor.

We moved into this house in 1987, and at that point it was easy to carbon-date the most recent bathroom update. Know how?

Tub room, looking west to east from the laundry room.
Yup. Harvest gold tub, harvest gold sink, harvest gold toilet. Also harvest gold-flecks in the vanity Formica.

And in spite of the nice white tile I put up, and the wallpaper I quite liked when I hung it 20 years ago in a lipstick-on-a-pig effort, harvest gold appliances don't lie.

Did we want to live with this vintage look for the next couple of decades? We did not. So we called in a very nice decorator, and Bathroom Remodel 2017 began.

Except that it didn't begin. Very Nice Decorator pointed out that that the door between the toilet and tub rooms needed to be wide enough to accommodate a walker. (Ouch.) Do you know how hard it is to find a carpenter who wants to take on the piddly little job of widening the door between the toilet and tub rooms? When we started this project last summer we hoped to be done by October. Instead, the carpenter we wanted was able to do the first demolition on Jan. 3, and we're hoping to be into our new digs by...Easter? Maybe?

That's okay with us. We're not inconvenienced all that much, with only two of us sharing the downstairs bathroom. I do have to point out that if a footprint of our house were superimposed on a map of the United States our upstairs bedroom would be located in Seattle and that downstairs bathroom would be in Miami, so I have become much more adept at deciding whether I REALLY need that cup of tea after supper or whether I will follow my new no-liquids-after-after-super rule.

Today the tile guy braved icy roads and is upstairs as I write this, mixing up grout and working his artistry on the new walk-in shower.

For all who have asked, progress is being made.

I'm putting these here as reference for future progress pictures

Here's the toilet room looking east to west:

I walk across the room to stand in the door that's visible in the vanity mirror, and here's the tub room looking east to west:

Beyond that narrow door is the laundry room. You may not see that.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Merry Chaos to All!

Ho, ho, ho! And I know, know, know. Christmas is so last year, but as indicated by today's representative photo, my mind is still in a place of joyful chaos.

People, Christmas was just about as wonderful as life gets. As we gathered around the tree on Christmas morning (well, practically Christmas all day) Husband and I were surrounded by one of his favorite brothers, all four Boys, and TWO Lovely Girls, and it was as if this we'd been waiting all our lives for this exact configuration of loved ones to be together. So much fun, so much laughter, so much happiness.

So much chaos.

Notice the clock on the wall as the final presents were being distributed. Yes, it tells us it's quarter of three in the afternoon, which is exactly 45 minutes past the time I'd invited guests to be at our house for Christmas dinner. I had texted them at 1:30 to let them know they should have another glass of eggnog at home, and I texted them again at 2:30 to tell them to make that two glasses of eggnog.

Somehow, in a process that involved a LOT of improvisation (the potato recipe originally called for 90 minutes in the oven) everyone pitched in and the chaos was tamed and a meal on the table by 4:14 p.m. I only was unglued for about 30 minutes of the prep time, which included rolls that WOULD NOT RISE. (Thank you, Boy#1, for pitching in with the kitchen duties calmly and letting me fret un-calmly.)

The next day cars began pulling away from the curb, and the House on the Corner settled back on its foundation for a few days.

But only for a few days because the start of the new year meant the start of a long-awaited bathroom remodel and the chaos has ramped up to DefCon red levels: As I write this a craftsman with a sledgehammer is demolishing a cast-iron tub in the room above my head. If, as sounds entirely probable, the room above my head suddenly drops a floor and becomes the room on top of my head, tell my family I love them.

And apparently, I love chaos.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

For the past few weeks I've been texting the Boys photos of the goings-on in the House on the Corner: Gallons of peppernuts baked and stored in ZipLocs. A gigantic stack of Amazon boxes that had me asking Husband if we can make the UPS guy a dependent on our next tax return. The Dueling Santas.

I have noted before that my slavish devotion to Christmas traditions winds down a little with every year. Years ago I decorated multiple rooms; now if there is an ornament or piece of tinsel outside the confines of the living room it is there by accident. Years ago I made six varieties of candy to distribute to friends and neighbors; now I think of these friends and neighbors fondly and wish them a warm Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or I Love Your Ugly Sweater, or whatever I think they would like to hear.

Years ago I hung all of our stockings from the mantle, just under the formal nativity set. I did that for 15 years, until we remodeled the living room and covered the (non-functioning) gas fireplace behind a new wall.

I know! Joanna and Chip are looking at me sadly--not that we covered up the fireplace, but that we didn't just take ALL the walls in the house out so that we could open-concept our entire house and never have one moment of privacy or reprieve from the stacks of dirty pans at Thanksgiving. But I digress.

When we lost the convenient stocking-hanging ledge, I had a moment of panic--would Santa skip our house? The next year the stockings were around a window sill, and the following year draped over the back of the sofa, before I stumbled across a rustic ladder in an antique shop, and voila! We were set.

You may notice, though, the ladder is a bit crowded and this was just our nuclear family. Since then we've added a second green stocking (Lovely Girl#1) and a placeholder stocking (Lovely Girl#2, whose engagement came after my self-imposed I Cannot Finish ANY MORE PROJECTS deadline and will have a green stocking next year), and this year we'll have a temporary stocking for a favorite uncle who will spend Christmas with us.

So the Christmas Stocking Ladder tradition became the Christmas Stocking Door tradition. The remodel had meant we replaced a French door to a balcony with a more energy-efficient window and for years Husband had threatened to throw this door in the trash, but I'm pleased with its festivity and have discovered I don't really miss the ladder at all. The door, frankly, has a lot more room for expansion, and family expansion is (moral-of-the-story alert) is what the original Christmas was all about.

We grow, we change, we move into new phases of life and find they're just as joyful and full of meaning as the previous phases.

No matter what they look like, they all look a lot like Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Together, Better

Two minutes later. This is love, and perhaps a tribute to modern orthodonture.
I was on my way home from grocery shopping Saturday when the phone in my car rang, and was so glad Earl has a fancy Bluetooth system so that I could answer without taking my hands off the wheel. Safety first, but I had seen who the call was from, and any time there's a Boy calling in the middle of the day it's best to make sure there hasn't been some kind of catastrophe.

"Hey, Mom!" Boy#2's voice came out of the speaker. "Just a second...I'm patching Dad in to this call."

The line went dead, though, and a couple of seconds later Two was back.

"Okay, I'm in Iceland, and apparently we can't make it a three-way international call. Call when you get home."


Husband was waiting at the door with the second phone when I walked in, and I picked up the receiver to hear our second-born tell us that he and the lovely young woman he's been dating for three years are now engaged. They had flown to Iceland for the weekend, and he knelt next to a frozen pond to ask her to marry him. (A side note: Proposals are a lot fancier than they were 35 years ago.)

We weren't surprised--several weeks ago we had been told to block off an autumn 2018 date on our calendars--but I was taken off guard when I found myself in tears. Look at the faces in today's picture. As happy as they are? That's how happy I am.

As parents, we hope our children will find mates who see the good, the strong, the special in our loved ones. Those of us who pray begin praying when our child is tiny that at the right time the right person will come into his life, and that they'll both be better because they're together.

That is what this tall, dark-haired beauty has been for my son. She helped him keep his head up during the slog of his doctoral studies. She laughs at his jokes. She encourages him to wear funny hats. She is a cutthroat game player. She holds her own in the chaos that is the House on the Corner. And she is so, so smart, a doctor who is training to help tiny babies see better.

Most importantly, she loves our son, demonstrating this in ways I can only admire.

A year ago, when Boy#3 needed a tuba player in his high school marching band, she gave up part of her Thanksgiving vacation to cheer on the Fighting Greenbacks (not even kidding) at the state championship.

And one time, when Two was trying to find where a gasket on his aging Taurus was failing, she (forgive in advance the caps gone wild) VOLUNTEERED to CLIMB INTO THE TRUNK and let him POUR WATER OVER IT. There are not enough dollars in the world or love in the universe to make me do something like this, but she was game.

What I'm trying to say is that this smart, game, lively woman is the one who makes my son a better man, and we have fallen in love with her just as he has.

We are so glad she will be our Lovely Girl#2.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Aaaaah, November.

Oh, my.

I have written so many blog posts in my head during the past few weeks. November is, after all, my favorite month. It contains my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving), my favorite gift (a birthday Skype from all four Boys wherein they talk and tease and tumble over each other like puppies, even though they are fully grown and live in four different states), and of course, my favorite Husband.

But I didn't take the time to sit and write out those blog posts. Instead, like all of us old folks who can't figure out Snapchat, I posted poorly framed pictures on Facebook.

The 13 pies that were my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast, for example, since for the first time in 25 years or so we spent the day away from the House on the Corner. Much Older Sister offered to host the extended family and the day was wonderful.

(A footnote on the pies: So much fun to make. I rarely make pies, so this was my excuse to experiment with crusts and fillings, and we ended up with seven different varieties. Except for the two pecan types which had to be chiseled out of the pans after the filling seeped under the crust, most were edible.)

But I haven't posted any pictures of the end of the month, which was spent with that favorite Husband. We had just ticked over 34 on the years-married counter so he knows me fairly well and invited me on the very best kind of anniversary trip--a CPA continuing education seminar.

You laugh, but I prefer this kind of get-away to a spa. For two full days Husband scoots off to hear about the newest tax wrinkles and I have the run of the hotel room, where I read good books (The Magpie Murders, which is delightful), binge-watch British procedurals (oh, Broadchurch, how I love thee) and justify these indulgences by pretending to be productive.

Then when his seminars are done for the day, Husband and I hit the town. We measure old pump organs in antique shops, and decide that even dismantled they will not fit in Earl's hatch.

We search out local food and find such delicacies as "Italian Nachos"which are built on a foundation of (I'm not kidding) fried pasta.

I do not have pictures of the visits to Lowe's and Menard's, but it would not be vacation without at least a few hours spent wandering around the clamps aisles.

So now I'm back, and I have a couple of posts to write. But I'm sighing happily at my remembrance of November.

It's my favorite.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I'm Thankful for Much, Not the Least This

We are thiiiiis close to Thanksgiving, and all around me are things for which I am thankful.

The gorgeous colors on the trees, which made us wait this year until we thought it was going to be a drab autumn then surprised us with splendor.

My morning gig as a middle school accompanist which has turned out to be so. much. fun.

That my dental work is in the past rather than in the future.

And Acorn television, which is a cheap way to feed my addiction to British procedurals.

Thanksgiving also means I'm in frantic hurry-up mode on all the cozy projects I hoped to finish by Christmas so I often have Acorn playing in the background while I'm knit-one-purl-two-ing, and because I am not always exactly sure what the Brits and Scots and Irish are saying, I keep the closed captioning on.

That's fortunate, because as binged on The Clinic I mistakenly thought this mother was taking her son to the cinema to reward him for good behavior when he got a shot and it wasn't until I glanced up at the screen that I realized the Irish apparently reward good behavior differently than we Kansans do.

Whshew. I'm really thankful I'm a Kansan.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Do Not Google This

I'm doing very well after my oral surgery, thank you. The self-pampering continues, and I intend to make that last for a very, very long time.

Part of the reason the pampering can continue is because I'm looking a little fairly horrifyingly ragged around the edges. You see that ankle in today's illustration? Transpose the bruise to my right jaw, add six square inches of yellow shading around the edges, throw in a heaping helping of swelling and you have an idea of what I look like six days post-operation.

I am pretty, pretty, pretty.

I am so pretty that I could not bring myself to use any of the eight selfies I took in an attempt to show just how marked I am. Did you know that when make-up artists try to make someone look older, they shade in natural smile lines and wrinkles? And that when subcutaneous bleeding settles from the upper jaw to the lower jaw, it settles into the smile lines and wrinkles? Yes. I am vain enough that I don't want that shared on cyberspace.

So I turned to the internet for an image I could use to show just how bad I look, and that brings me to the point of today's post:

Do not ever, under any circumstances, Google "image face bruise following oral surgery."

Oh. My. Gosh.

People, those images are truly terrible. You not only get the run-of-the-mill discoloration I'm sporting these days, you also get images of THE SURGERY ITSELF, complete with broken teeth, gaping wounds, and Sharp Instruments Inside Mouths.


That's why, instead of a picture of what my face really looks like, you see a bruised ankle and a yellow flower. And because I value the sensibilities of anyone who might see me in person, I'll make a concerted effort to turn the other cheek to the public.

You're welcome.