Monday, August 31, 2009

The Thing That Keeps Me Awake At Night

I love color. I love paint. I just don’t like picking paint colors. It terrifies me to spend a lot of money on paint and then put it on the wall only to find that it’s not the right color. Then I have to live with butt ugly walls until I can afford to paint again. I will labor over a paint choice longer than Palestine and Israel will argue over peace. Ask me to pick a rug. No problem. Done. A new sink? Easy. How about tile? Easy cheesy. Paint? I’d rather you poke toothpicks under my fingernails.

The problem is there are too many choices. For days, I’ve agonized and fantasized about different colors. I know I want light. I know I want warm. I just don’t know how warm or how bright. I’ve narrowed it down to various shades of yellow, green, red and blue. In other words, half the spectrum. Hubby would be happy if we painted everything white. That would satisfy his sense of order and symmetry. I hate white walls. For the first fifteen years of our marriage we had white walls. I finally successfully integrated some beige and yellow into our home four years ago, and I refuse to go back.

See these cans?

These are all of the quart samples I’ve tried so far. The helpful Sherwin-Williams clerk, Jason, and I are on a first name basis. And when another clerk pulled my account up the other day for yet ANOTHER sample purchase, he said, “You sure are doin’ a LOT of samplin’ mam”. Well, yes I am hot young man in white pants. Thank you for noticing and please carry this box of cans to the car.

I’ve rolled samples on every wall, and every night I stand in front of them and hold the same deliberations in my head.

Jersey Cream or Cottage Cream? Jersey Cream or Cottage Cream?

In the master bathroom, I THINK it’s Aqua-Sphere and not Tranquil Aqua. But I'm not sure.It definitely needs to match the tile and this print.
Because…well, because that tile is staying and I want to hang that print over the tub.

I want the guest bathroom to be red…really red. I just don’t know if it should be Salute or Show Stopper. Both of them made me look as if I had cut off my fingers and was bleeding to death while painting the other night.

The dining room will be the green I picture in my head but just haven’t found in a can yet.
And the spare bedroom will be leftover blue or green from the bathroom or dining room. But I don’t know which one!
The most torturous decision of all involves the kitchen and living room. I want gold in there. I’ve tried Humble Gold and White Raisin, but neither one seems quite right. Help is on the way, though. Hubby called me this morning while sitting in the waiting room of the audiologist with Papa T. to tell me, “Hey, Doctor Tony’s walls are the color of gold you’re looking for. I got the paint mix from the lady who works here. You might want to stop by and look at it. Oh, and check out the glossy white on his baseboards. I think you’re gonna like it.”

So tomorrow my friends, I’m going to Dr. Tony’s to ogle his baseboards. And hopefully, the color will be something I can ask for at Sherwin-Williams and get that nice young man with the big biceps to load up in my car. Wouldn’t that be dreamy?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun Monday-Television

This week's Fun Monday hostess with the mostess is Jan over at Jan and Jer's. She wants to know what we're watching on television. Specifically:

Since September is just around the corner, all the TV shows will be having their premiers throughout the month. What kind of TV viewer are you? Do you like sitcoms or do you prefer drama. Are soap operas your cup of tea or murder mysteries. Game, variety and reality shows are big this year too. These are just a few examples. Share with us your favorite shows and why you like it or them so much.

Well, Jan, the honest truth is I haven't watched television since sometime in April. Oh, I've turned it on and surfed the channels, but I really haven't sat down and watched much TV in months. It's not that I don't enjoy it. I've just been consumed with the chaos we like to call "life". Things have been crazy for us in recent months, so I'm hoping that by the fall season premieres things will calm down, and we can cuddle up in the Big A** Chair with a bowl of popcorn and the remote control. In the meantime, I'll tell you about all the things I'd watch if I had time.

First of all, 90% of my viewing time is spent with either an old movie on TMC or AMC (love, love, love Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn) or HGTV, FoodTV and the History Channel. I can thank the history channel for filling in some of the gaps in my high school history, and I can thank HGTV for making me believe I can pour my own concrete sidewalk with a bowl and a butter knife. FoodTV fuels my wannabe pastry chef fantasies and drives my husband absolutely crazy. "Do we HAVE to watch THIS again?" Most of the time I flip on one of those channels and half way pay attention to the tube while I read a book.

I do pay attention sometimes. While I'm selective about what I watch, I do really enjoy certain shows. I like Brothers & Sisters, and Hubby and I have a crazy craving to be on The Amazing Race. I have a feeling we'd be quite entertaining and would likely be bleeped a lot as we cursed our way across Croatia and Zimbabwe.

My favorite show is Damages.
It's fast paced, well written, always surprising and riveting. Glen Close is superb in this show and is sometimes downright spooky. It's one of those shows you have to DVR and watch more than once to pick up on all of the clues to keep up with this thriller.

Same goes for Lost.

It makes you think. And rethink. And rewind again and again to pick up on all of the clues. I like TV that makes me think. And scratch my head.

I try not to miss Saving Grace.I lurv Holly Hunter's flawed character and her interaction with that quirky angel Earl. It's a very adult show but very thought provoking and again, well written. I hope my guardian angel is as fun as Earl.

Grey's Anatomy is one of my guilty pleasures.
Really, who couldn't use a little McSteamy and a little McDreamy? Raise your hand. I didn't think so. I chalk this one up to smutty fun.

My other guilty pleasure is....well, well I hate to admit it but....but....oh, here goes: Iron Chef America.
Yup. I'm hooked. I love the big reveal of the secret ingredient and the surprising ways they can cook something as simple as an ear of corn. Or how the judges will ooh and ah over something nasty made out of chicken livers and cow brains. If I had a nickel for every time I've DVRed this show, I could have paid for my new appliances at Lowes last week with...well, nickels. It's a tad embarrassing to admit it, but it really is one of my favorite shows. I guess it could be worse. I could have said Repo Man. Not that I know what that is. Really, I've never watched it. I swear. Well, maybe once. But only when Hubby had it on.

Now slide off that couch you potatoes, and slip over to Jan's and see what everyone else is watching.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This is What Teen Angel's College Fund Looks Like

1600 square feet of hardwood, waiting to be laid. That explosion you just heard was the sound of my wallet blowing up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why It's Dangerous to Run After Dark in a Poorly Lit Neighborhood

Whilst dashing past a street light last night I took a deep breath and accidentally sucked a bug into my nose and down my throat. I didn’t taste it. Much.

A mile and a half later I took another deep breath and sucked another bug into my mouth and down my throat. It tasted like chicken.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As if I Didn't Have Enough to Do

Do you can or freeze fruits and vegetables? I do, sometimes. It’s something Mama taught me. When I was a kid, she used to can and freeze stuff every summer. I have very vivid memories of picking peaches at Hubotter’s orchard and strawberries at the U-Pick fields. We always had a garden too, that yielded beans, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables. Mama would disrupt our summer laziness with announcements that peach season or tomato season was in and off we’d go, groaning and moaning, to gather and pick. I hated picking because it was usually hot and sticky, and I knew it was just the beginning of two or three days of cleaning, pealing and processing when there were bicycles to ride and little brothers to boss around. Mama would can vegetables in waves of hot steamy water and freeze fruits in plastic boxes destined for the deep freezer that sat in the garage. She had a tendency to get hung up on one particular item each year. There was the year we had strawberry freezer jam running out of our ears. That was great. The year she decided to make gallons of sour kraut was not so great. She made a lot of pickles, too. A LOT of pickles. More pickles than we could eat.

Along the way, I absorbed an education in food processing and storage. I guess it’s kind of in my genes since my grandpa farmed produce and sold it to folks. (Remind me sometime to tell you some of the stories about daddy stealing grandpa’s watermelons.) Even though I hated canning while growing up, I'm glad I can do it because it's becoming a lost art. Sometimes I can vegetables, and sometimes I make homemade jelly. It’s a time consuming process, and anyone who’s ever done it knows you can’t really do it on your own schedule. You have to do it when the produce is ripe and available. Which is what happened last weekend when I discovered that the grapevine in the backyard had produced the sweetest, best tasting Concord grapes we’ve had in a long time. For the last fifteen years, we’ve enjoyed those grapes. Some years they have been better than others, and the last two they’ve been pitiful. This year they’re wonderful, and since we are moving and this was likely the last chance I’ll have to enjoy these grapes, I decided to make jelly. In the middle of a lot of laundry and house cleaning and remodeling.

It took sterilized jars.

And hot boiling lids.

Turning the grapes into juice.

With cooking and straining.

And adding the sugar and pectin.

But in the end I ended up with the best tasting jelly I’ve ever made.

And not that I’m bragging, but doggone it, it was the prettiest jelly I’ve ever made too.

It was so pretty I saved a couple to enter in the county fair next June.
We have sixteen half pint souvenirs of our old home to take to the new home, so I’m glad I took the time to do it.

But now? I have to deal with these.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Would Scarlett Do?

I’ve had this disease before. You know, the one where you feel like you’ll throw up if you have to step foot in Lowes one more freakin’ time in the same week. The disease that leaves you begging God to please let this remodeling hell end soon. I’ve suffered through it before. Swore I’d never do it again. And yet, here I am again. Knee deep in more home improvements. However, this time is THE last time we remodel. I mean it. As God is my witness I will never remodel again.

As frustrating as the last three weeks have been, we’ve actually made some progress. The ceilings are finished. Hallelujah, amen. Seeing a good excuse to buy a big piece of equipment, Hubby bought the Bad Bad Leroy Brown shop vac at Lowes and sucked up three-quarters of the dust. There is more to go, but we can walk through the house without risking mesothelioma now. The new garage door has been installed. The roof is fixed, new toilets are in place and all of the old carpeting is gone. We also ripped up the old hardwood in the foyer to make for the new wood, and when I say “we” I mean the band of angels known as the roofers who wanted to earn some extra money and a seat next to St Peter. Yesterday Hubby picked up the hardwood and stacked all 1600 square feet of it in the house so it can settle into the house’s temperature and humidity and not buckle when it’s laid. I can thank the price of hardwood for that sporadic twinge I feel in my colon.

The big news is that we finally hired a contractor for the kitchen and bathroom work after spending three weeks getting various estimates. We were getting frustrated because the estimates were all coming in very high. As Hubby’s granny used to say, they wanted three prices for everything. The last guy we talked to was someone I liked immediately. He wasn’t a bragger. He just told us what he could do and how he would do it. He took all kinds of measurements at the house Thursday, and Saturday we went to his granite yard and picked out granite for the countertops so he could put together the estimate. As we sat across his lovely granite top desk watching him scratch numbers I held my breath that his wouldn’t want three prices, too. He didn’t. In fact, he was 30-percent cheaper than the other folks and I wanted to kiss him on the spot. Instead, Hubby and I exchanged glances and almost bumped heads running to the car to get the checkbook for the deposit. When we wrapped up with him I did the GREAT GERTIE I’M GETTING GRANITE COUNTERTOPS dance all the way to the van. It was soon dampened by the realization that we had to go back to Lowes to order faucets so the contractor would not get held up by late arriving spigots. It was the second time we studied faucets. I’m tired of looking at faucets. As beautiful as they are, I’m over the faucets. So much so that when Hubby called from Lowes this morning with the news that the plumbing guy said the two Brand A faucets I picked Saturday wouldn’t hold up because they have too much plastic inside them and that I needed to pick Brand B, I put my head between my feet and started saying the serenity prayer. And if you think I’m kidding, you’re mistaken. After fifteen minutes of him describing faucets and me trying to guess what they looked like, I finally hopped on the internet, had him shout out item numbers and I viewed them on the web until I found something I liked. And then I took a Motrin. I swear if I have to look at one more faucet my eyes will cross. Anyway, we’re done with faucets. I think. And we have everything in place for the contractor to being. Did I mention I’M GETTING GRANITE COUNTERTOPS?!! So I did.

Did mention I’M GETTING STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES?!! That was the other big decision of the weekend, and it’s hard to put into words how much I love the appliances I picked out, specifically the stove. I have eyeballed that stove in Lowes for months, ever since I stumbled upon it by accident one night while searching for a rug. No matter what I’m in there for, I habitually fondle the appliances and on this particular night, there before me in all its glory sat the GE CafĂ© stainless steel five burner gas stove that costs as much as my first car. I talked to it. I touched it. I whispered sweet nothings into its ear and wished upon a star that one day I would take it home. That dream lay dormant until we decided to buy this house but reared its lovely head when it became obvious I’d need a new stove. I looked at other stoves, but after surfing appliance porn on the internet and checking out other models in other stores I kept coming back to that same stove. So we bought it. And my life is complete.

It makes all of this remodeling mess a little more bearable, but I can’t wait for it to be over. And if Hubby ever mentions remodeling again, I will tell him that frankly, I don’t give a d*@m.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Something Beautiful

"It's a voice that whispers my name
It's a kiss without any shame
Something beautiful
Like a song that stirs in my head
Singing love will take us where
Something's beautiful"---Something Beautiful-The Newsboys

The most incredible thing happened to me Friday. It had been a crazy, hectic day, and by the time it started to wind down toward evening I was pooped. But as I looked outside the kitchen window I noticed the sky and realized a beautiful sunset was about to happen. I stopped loading the dishwasher, grabbed my camera and headed down the road to stake out a field with a good view. About a mile from the house, I pulled into a rocky drive just off the county road, slammed the truck into park and bailed out, running to get into position. Then suddenly I stopped. And realized I was in the middle of thousands of bright, shiny sunflowers. They were everywhere. Row upon row of yellow blooms tilting in all directions. It was the most incredible thing I’d seen in a very long time. I laughed out loud at their beauty and how I literally stumbled into them.

I didn’t have much time, so as the sun quickly slid below the trees I lay on my back on the ground and started snapping away so as to catch the sky in the pictures.

Since they were in neat rows and growing in the wildlife refuge, I’m assuming they were planted on purpose. Whatever the reason, I’m glad they’re there, and I’m glad I found them. I couldn’t get enough. The daylight dwindled so fast I got only a few shots.

So I went back for more. Yesterday. When the sun was bright and shiny.
And it was just as much fun as it was the first time.
And just as moving.
I love the way the front row lines the road, waiting for passersby.
Bobbing their heads at cars and trucks and tractors.
From a distance they seem to go for acres.
And acres.
For as far as the eyes can see.
Up close, they seem to surround you.
And tickle your waist and chest. The bees and butterflies are everywhere.
The flowers are simply spectacular, and it’s difficult to describe how moving the whole experience was.
And for reasons I can’t explain I felt compelled to capture my joy.And hang onto it for future reference…when I need a reminder that the world is truly a beautiful place.

Fun Monday-Learning

Oh, my gosh!! In the last three days I’ve hired a contractor to rip out part of my bathroom, partially remodel my kitchen and fix a bunch of stuff I can’t begin to list. I’ve looked at faucets, tile, granite and appliances until my eyes have glazed over. I’ve splashed paint samples on the wall, eaten meals, gone to church, tried to book plane tickets and suffered through a computer virus that shut down the Hula-gen desktop. All of this means I’m way behind on my Fun Monday post and left with very little time to do it. I hope our lovely hostess, Faye, will forgive me for being so slow and so brief.

Her topic this week is life long learning. Specifically:

Do you still think of yourself as a student? A lifelong learner? If so, what would you like to learn? Something job related to improve your work performance? Technology skills to keep up with the modern times? Personal financial management skills? Stress management strategies? Playing bridge? Belly dancing? Writing? Better blogging? Speaking another language? Car maintenance? DIY home improvements? You get the idea--the list of learning options for adults is endless. Are you currently taking a class or online study? What is this experience like? What are you learning? If not actually in a class, how do you learn something new? Tutorials on computer or TV? How to books? One on one with an instructor or coach? Practice on your own?

Hang on to your hats, boys and girls. This one will be fast. (Sorry, I have to see a man about some grout.) I do consider myself a lifelong learner, but only recently did I come to that realization. I think it’s important to continue learning something new, and if you look closely enough you’ll usually learn something new every day. I’m not taking any official classes right now, but one of these days I hope to return to the classroom at the art school that just opened in my community. It’s something I dabbled in at college and would like to pick up again during that magical phase of my life known as “someday when I have time”. I’d like to take digital photography classes first and then pick back up on some pottery classes I had in college, specifically throwing porcelain. I’d like to go back to doing community theater. I haven’t done that in years, and it’s something I miss. I’d like to be a better actor and learn more theatrical history in the process.

I’d also like to learn more about the world, and I think the best way to learn that is to see it with my own eyes; so hopefully, I’ll get to travel more in future years and in the process, learn a new language and a lot of geography. And don’t laugh, but I have this urge to learn how to lay brick. I don’t know why, but it appeals to me for some reason, and I want to know how to do it. I don’t know when I’ll squeeze that in or how I’ll go about it, but it’s on the list.

That’s the future. What am I learning now? This past year has been a real learning year for me. It’s been packed with life lessons. Between the alcoholism of a friend, Sissy’s mental illness and suicide and Papa T.’s dementia, I’ve had a lot of life choices thrown at me. It’s been stressful but oh so enlightening. I’ve learned a lot about me, especially during my Al-Anon sessions. Basically, what I’ve learned is that I don’t’ know me as well as I thought, and I’m not nearly as perfected as I thought. I’ve come to realize I am a very flawed being who has a long way to go before I can claim to be “good” or “smart” or “right”…whatever those words mean. Things I now know:
-I’m not always right.
-I don’t know everything.
-I have no right to judge others because my flaws are no better than the next guy’s.
-A lot of stuff isn’t any of my business.
-Sorry is a very big word.
-I shouldn’t be so stingy with grace if I expect to get a little myself.
-Life isn’t fair. It never will be, and I should get over it.
-A lot of sh*t just doesn’t matter.
-I shouldn’t sweat the small sh*t. It doesn’t matter.
-Time is an incredible gift. It should not be squandered.
-And neither should love.

Most of all I’ve learned that I have a lot more to learn. About me. And family. And the rest of the world. And that I should get off my arse and get to studyin’.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pot of Gold

Holy Cow! Slap me silly and color me tickled. Look what I won over at The Pioneer Woman!
Out of thousands of entries, the random generator picked me. Me, me, me! Have I mentioned how I lust for beautiful cookware and sharp knives? And I love this color. I have just the place to put it in the pantry in the new house. I'll be cookin' soup all winter (but not calf nuts, PW).

And ya' know, after a year of ice storms, funerals and generally crappy luck, it's nice for something good to happen for a change. Sigh. Thanks Pioneer Woman. You have no idea how much I needed this pot.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why I Love Where I Live

Wide open Spaces.

And crisp blue skies.

Never, ever underestimate the power of a beautiful blue sky.

Oh, Canada!

As I plan for our upcoming vacation I can't help but think about my childhood vacations, and that always makes me smile.

What’s more uncomfortable than riding 700 miles in a Chevette with four other people? Riding in the bed of a pickup truck to Niagra Falls and back. 1400 plus miles including a pit stop in Dearborn, Michigan to see the Henry Ford Museum and an overnight visit with Aunt Mabel and Uncle Wesley in Indiana. It was possibly the longest family vacation we took and the most frustrating. In Zeek’s never ending quest to see the world and expose his children to other cultures, we journeyed to Canada in a contraption that would land Zeek in jail for child abuse today. Remember, though, this was the 70’s, before seat belt laws and child restraint seats. I’m talking about the good old days when you put your kid on a bike without a helmet, told him to be home before dark and checked him for broken bones and ticks at the end of the day. Any open wounds got a dose of that stinging purple stuff and a warning to be more careful next time. This was back when it was okay to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

Everybody, including us, had a truck with a topper and a bumper sticker that said “Eat Beans, America Needs the Gas”. Zeek built a bed for the back of our Dodge pickup, complete with a Styrofoam mattress. Baby Ruth stitched up a red floral mattress cover and Voila! We had a makeshift RV that would hold three kids, luggage, games and snacks for two weeks. We were on our way! It seemed exciting at first. We were in the back, without constant parental scrutiny, free to punch, kick and argue our way across several states. The cheese puffs were handy, too. After a while, though, it became about as much fun as a case of the chiggers. We got bored with our games, Slug Bug got old, and it was hard to nap when every hard stop rolled you off the mattress. Worst of all, we couldn’t see the landscape because we were under that darn topper! Even with the back window open you saw only the backside of everything we passed. And it was a little dark back there. Every pee break had us climbing (and I do mean climbing) out of the back and squinting like rescued POW’s. My parents loved it. They got to ride in peace, with no whining about “I’m hungry” or “how long 'til we get there”. Life must have been pretty rich up there in the cab. No wonder we stayed on the road so long. We saw a sliver of Canada. We saw Niagra Falls. We saw Henry Ford’s house. We slept in the dirtiest motel in Buffalo, New York and we saw lots and lots of corn fields (from the back). We even saw cousins we didn’t know we had. We returned home feeling like we’d spent a year in the Peace Corps.

I think dad’s love of travel did rub off on me. I love to go to new places and hope to visit many more countries before I get old. I’d even like to go back to Canada and see it through an adult’s eyes. Next time, though, I’m going first class. Yep. I’m sitting in the front seat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I give up. I surrender. It’s useless to keep fighting. I’m a sucker for a pretty flower. Whether I’m stomping across a city parking lot or wading through a field on a project for work, I cannot pass up a flower with my camera.
Be it wild.
Or cultivated.
In the spring.
Or summer.
I simply can’t resist.
So I shall stop trying and embrace the urge.
Because regardless of what the fancy schmancy artsy fartsy photographers think, there are worse things to be addicted to. Posy anyone?