Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home Improvement

A while back, my horoscope advised me to take action to make a place that I call home more comfortable. I was a little confused by that--was it a mental or physical place? My actual abode or a certain state of mind? No matter. As usual I interpreted the message the way that suits me, and took that as a sign that our goal of sprucing up chez Axcock this summer was coming at an auspicious time.

M and I have been doing a lot of looking and talking over the past few weeks about the improvements, and yesterday we did some walking. We came home from Home Depot with a new door with a nice big window in it to let in more light and about five more paint swatches. We want to paint the door before Bob, our handyman neighbor who will be doing a lot of the work with us, hangs it next Sunday. Which means we needed to pick a paint color soon. The whole issue of what order to do things in has been very eye-opening--all of the countertop people recommended we put the floor in last, which makes sense. And we need to get the range and dishwasher in and before we can put the countertops in. But we have to paint the kitchen before the countertop go in so the back splashes will look neater…

So when we got home, we cleared some furniture from a wall and started spreading on the paint swatches. I'm so glad we took the time to do that. The living room is looking pretty funny now, patched with pinkish, tan-ish, and yellowish shades of white (the vast array of "whites" is mind boggling), but we settled on a color--"Magnolia Blossom" which is bright but still warm. We're only intending to paint the kitchen, living room, and hall, but this process makes me want to tackle the bedroom and TV room too. We'll see if that motivation survives, since that chore wouldn't come til the very end.

We also looked at area rugs at a department store that's going out of business, and it occurred to me that we'll need to shell out quite a bit to scatter carpets over the new flooring. Yikes. We were all set to pull the trigger on a new range at Sears, but when we got there, it just didn't feel right after all, so that hunt continues. While at Home Depot, we did see a dishwasher that we both liked, so we'll hopefully buy that today when we go back for the door paint.

While in the paint department at Home Depot, we were given a flyer by one of the roving salesmen outlining a county program that apparently was set up to disburse stimulus money, part of that campaign promise to create green jobs and encourage energy efficiency. We need to find out more, and it's certainly not something we could take on this year, but apparently it's a way to finance property improvements like double-paned windows, solar panels, tankless water heaters, and the like. Something to thing about.

The other big decision we took yesterday was the granite for the countertop. We're going a little bold, a light gray-white veined with waves of pale green and little sparkly flecks. Of course, that decision depends on the estimate, which we hope to get in the next day or two.

One heartening part of this process, aside from the growing realization that many downright ugly and worn parts of our home will soon be replaced by much lovelier parts, is that M and I have pretty much been able to agree easily on things. So far. A less heartening aspect--I think I've been able to dive into this large undertaking because I'm unwilling to ponder the full amount of just how much time and energy (not to mention cash) this project will actually consume. But now that realization is beginning to dawn…I'm looking at our walls with fresh eyes, for instance, and I see that we have a lot of cleaning and repairs to do before the painting part even begins. I think I'll adopt "It will be worth it" as my new mantra.

In other happy news, this Friday will be an interesting day: after a schmancy mixer at John Ash with other members of the Sonoma County Bar Association in the evening, M will spend the night at a doctors office doing a sleep study! Apnea begone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It was a lovely Memorial Day weekend on the coast. We arrived most of a day later than originally planned--I just couldn't do another touch-down-take-off after the Wilbur/San Jose runs in the days before.

But arrive we did on Saturday, and we pretty much holed up with Mom and Don for 48 hours. I did go into town with Mom and we toured her latest work and the other crafters at City Art, and shopped at the bakery and fancy furniture store that seemed like it had landed in Pt. Arena via style tornado from New York. Admired the shed and garden. We had Sean and Caitlin over for dinner that night, which was going fine until Don broke out the juice of the agave and M had to tell me the next day how the night ended. Sunday morning I had to remain horizontal for the first six hours until the migraine-hangover mashup blew over…but there was something oddly wonderful (if exceedingly painful) about being so incapacitated that it was all I could do to feel the recently felled pinecones burning in the stove at my feet, limply yet gratefully accept Mom bringing me bowls of fruit and mugs of coffee, and watch the "House" TV marathon from a prone perspective. I was sorry not to have walked on the beach or gone to the town pit barbeque as I'd hoped, however.

In contrast, Monday dawned pain-free and relatively filled with energy. M and I lazily gathered our things and cruised down the coast home. Continuing on my hermit way, I wriggled out of the party M was invited to with work colleagues after we returned home on Monday to try to fulfill a request from a college friend for memorabilia. I dug through a box of photos, some journals, another box of correspondence…and I got a little wistful. Missing a bit my long hair and when it was redder. I was reminded that I once thought of myself as a photographer. I spent time reading a journal entry from my trip to Turkey 25-um-ish years ago and felt a little hangdog at the snide comment I wrote about the vegetarians in my tour group complicating our dinners with their meat-free demands.

Combing through that box of missives I also got a little sad about the shift in communication this new millennium marked. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for all of the advances that allow for sharing of photos, movies, information and the like that blogs and Facebook, etc. all facilitate. But when I beheld that congregation of stationery, stamps, postmarks, envelopes, ink and their colors, handwriting…penmanship that's just as much a part of the person as a laugh or expression…I mourned the loss of that tradition-ritual-process in my life. 99% of the envelopes arriving in the mailbox these days are spewed from machines that don't have the slightest clue who I am. Like my journals that were written with minimal self-editing, unlike this blog (yes, I know, the journals aren't public, a big difference…), I wonder a bit at the letters I wrote and also received that probably had equally little editing. I recall when M and I were courting and how part of the delicious anticipation was sending a letter, estimating when he would find it in his mailbox, when he would respond, how long it would take for his letter to arrive. I remember very well that first letter I opened from him, and before reading it closely, assumed he was unschooled, his handwriting and spelling were so atrocious. And the happy surprise as I read what he had to say and realized that I was mistaken. I don't often see those unique characteristics of people in my life anymore. I miss them. Ah well.

Off to gym bag packing, Musketeer adventures, and dreamland…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

San Jose, Here and Going

I arrived yesterday, departing this evening. It was a long day and I was very tired last night, but feeling a little better today. This conference is a very interesting one--how people use "location aware" technology--GPS and the like. Lots of amazing virtual reality, data visualization, photography, mapping. For you photography buffs, here's some great 360 views:

Lhasa god of medicine mountain looks at the scenery Taiwan in Asia

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back and Away Again

with Grandma
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
It was a lovely visit with Grandma. Though as usual time flew and we didn't have as much time as I would have liked to catch up, we made the most of it.

Extra travel bonus: As I drove into Wilbur late Saturday night, I detected an alien skyline. What could be happening? As it turned out, the dregs of Wild Goose Bill Days (a celebration sprung from an early Wilbur citizen plugging another over a woman), petering out in a spin of carousel lights and cotton candy. Though I missed the small town activities, the next day I did lay eyes on a sight that Grandma had also been impressed by: the Old World oxen team. They were absolutely enormous, complacently masticating away on their hay while hardly seeming to register the existence of their keepers: a tiny wiry woman, two silent border collies that couldn't nip higher than their bovine hocks, and barky little sorrel mutt remarkably like Rex but for the fur. Their beefy bulk made it abundantly clear how the West was won.

The trip home was without incident, restoring my faith in our small town airport system. Oh, and I did consume my quota of plain cake doughnuts while in Wilbur.

I'm off tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. for San Jose, back Thursday night. It's after 10:00 p.m. and I haven't packed yet, unheard of for me. And then off again Friday for Memorial Day weekend on the Coast. That's about the to closest edge I get. Woo!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On My Way to Grandma's…Eventually

Due to mechanical delays, my flight to Seattle for the connection to Spokane has been delayed for 281 minutes. Horizon Air was very good about sending me the email confirming that it was on time this morning, so I didn't find out about the delay until M had dropped me off at the airport and was on his way to do only God knows what men do when their wives are out of town. Luckily, there are lots of flights between Seattle and Spokane, so as long as I get to Seattle today I'll also get to Spokane. Eventually. It doesn't look like I'll get to see Grandma tonight as I'd hoped, and I'm sad about that. On the bright side, I'm not cooling my heels in the airport--M picked me up again, and we went for a round of appliance comparison shopping at Sears on the way home, so at least I'm making good use of my unexpected time in town. And I had wanted to blog before going but didn't leave myself enough time--and here I've got time all of the sudden. I do have to check in with the airline in a few minutes to see if the plane won't be as delayed as they thought, but a phone number is yet to be found. Sneaky, that.

On the home improvement front, we had two countertop estimates yesterday. Sears came in at twice the price of the local countertop firm, so they're out, though we'll likely purchase appliances from them. We'll probably get at least one more estimate for countertops. I'm liking the idea of spreading the money around--we'll get paint and hardware from a local home improvement store most likely, and flooring from the neighborhood remnants shop. It was also instructive in that both countertop guys recommended that we do the floors last, so we've changed our timeline a bit. Which will work out fine. We've also started painting swatches on the walls. I'm getting really excited, though I'm sure that will be tempered when my kitchen is torn up. But it's been a long time coming and I'm looking forward to inhabiting more aesthetically pleasing surroundings. I wonder if it will make me feel more comfortable entertaining…

Happy birthday, Mark!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bauer Family, 1896

Bauer Family, 1896
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Uncle Lloyd just sent this. Isn't it a wonderful photo? Great grandpa John is at the far right. In case you've ever wondered why I don't show my teeth when I smile, it's a genetic disposition.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Status Quo

So it's yet another gorgeous day dawning in Northern California. I have neither much news nor thoughts to post. I've been admiring a huge bouquet of crimson Mr. Lincoln's in Grandma Julia's pink and white hobnail glass vase all weekend. I'm getting ready to make muffins with the blackberries I picked while camping in Iron Canyon a couple of years ago. I hope this assuages my recent overwhelming desire to bake a cake. I've leafed through the schedule of our local cultural center's offerings for fall and spring shows and have marked a comedy competition and appearances by Elvis Costello, Anthony Bourdain, Billy Collins, and Kay Ryan as events I should make an effort to attend. It's pleasant having so many things to look forward to.

M and I are starting the kitchen upgrade project in earnest. Our handyman neighbor came over yesterday and took one of our cabinet doors--he'll be make a few inserts around the new built-in dishwasher and range and needs to match our cabinet stain. I went appliance shopping and M went up to the flooring remnants store yesterday. While petting stoves in Sears, I made an appointment for an estimate for new countertops for this Friday. We'll probably indulge in a little more appliance porn today and get some paint samples to try swatches on the walls. M has convinced me that this is the best time to paint the living room and kitchen, and I know he's right, but it's more home upheaval than I had been preparing myself for. Today will be the day that I try to add up all of the numbers. That, I'm dreading.

We might also see Star Trek today.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Stuff Post

Mobius wrap
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Forgot to mention that, in between rows of Myla's blanket, I finished this shawly-poncho thing. It was supposed to be a "stash buster" (meaning, not a law enforcement official raiding your marijuana holdings, as some might read it, but rather, using up some yarn bought on whim because you can't help yourself because it's so lovely even though you don't have an actual project in mind) but of course I wanted to define the mobius idea so "had" to buy a little accent yarn. I think I still used up more yarn than I purchased, which was the goal. And, the project was a good excuse to pop into and give a little support to the newest yarn shop in town, always a good thing.

M and I had lunch in Railroad Square yesterday and afterwards stopped to admire, for the second time in as many weeks, some milk glass pieces in the window of a thrift shop. You may know that I have a weakness for milk glass. He does, and so bought this pitcher for my collection, despite the extraordinary sticker shock.

Doesn't it set off the roses nicely?

We went to see Adventureland last night. Yes, we actually left the house for an activity *after* 8:30 p.m.! Despite our chilly, nasty surroundings (there's a reason why movie theaters keep the lights low), I recommend it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

More Music, Mostly

M declared this morning that this better be a pretty good post since it's been so long. Sigh, I don't think I'm going to live up to that, but here goes.

Last week, my horoscope recommended that I mix things up a bit with my routine. Which I know is good for me, but is sometimes hard--I love me my ruts. So instead of starting last Saturday morning with chores as is my wont, I popped "Veer Zaara" into the DVD player and settled into the TV room for what I thought would be a somewhat depressing tale of love set amid the political hostilities of India and Pakistan. Turned out to be very high quality Bollywood, so I was treated to just over three hours of bright Kodachrome vistas of fields, flowers, and festivals, sparkling candy-colored saris flitting through what must be the North Fork of Lahore, and the stylized duets that fill this film genre. It had more plot and higher production values than most of the other Bollywood movies I've seen, which I appreciated.

One of my favorite things was, during one of the festival numbers, the hero's Hindu uncle asking his wife (in song, of course) to marry him again for the next seven "births" (of course she sings back that he has to give up drinking, cards, and cricket in this life!). Similarly, the heroine's Muslim mother, as she is tearfully bidding farewell to the hero for gracefully giving up her daughter to the arranged fiancé, says that though it is against her religion, she will pray to Allah to give Zaara to him in the next "birth." I've always heard it translated as "life" rather than "birth" and I really like that new perspective, as though it's just the beginning that you receive again--what you do with the rest of it is up to you. It also reminded me about reincarnation, wondering how having the belief that you'd be back on earth for a few more generations would affect your actions in your current existence.

Last Sunday, M and I had free tickets to see a charming Italian pianist, Antonio Pompa-Baldi play at our local "cultural center" as the freeway sign designates the hall, and it was a wonderful event. We had seats in the balcony and slightly to the side, so we had a great view of the keyboard, the polished wood of the instrument was a mirror for his left hand. M giggled through many of the numbers that reminded him of episodes of Bugs Bunny cartoons, but I enjoyed that too.

On Thursday, we took in our first production at our local junior college (what's taken me so long?)--"Guys and Dolls." They did a wonderful job, particularly the singing and dancing by the Guys. There were two songs that weren't in the movie version, so it was nice to hear some new pieces, in addition to my favorites--there are so many wonderful songs in that show! It was pleasant just being in the theater, too--it's a fairly old one, so comfortable seats with enough legroom for M. There were a few students in the audience, but a lot of folks who looked like they may have attended school when the auditorium was new. I do love the energy of live performances. As we left the theater, at nearly 11:00 p.m. on a Thursday (gasp!) night, two enormous owls swept by overhead, their pale wings illuminated by the enormous new campus clock tower.

In other news: We spent several evenings after work this week cleaning the house in anticipation of the appraiser's arrival yesterday morning. She didn't give M any inkling about the results, so we're just going to have to wait until next week for the news about whether or not we can refinance. However, it's a wonderful thing starting the weekend with a clean house. Since it's been a year since my melanoma excision, I went for a visit to my dermatologist on Wednesday. Never a fun appointment, but I am still cancer free, which is always welcome news. As a bonus, he removed a large skin tag, which M had often referred to as my parasitic twin, so I'm feeling a little sleeker, at least externally. These past few weeks have brought out the first round of roses, and Mr. Lincoln in particular is having a very good season. The welcome rain that arrived yesterday has been dashing some of the blossoms into the grass, which is sort of pretty in its own way. We're short on chores and plans for the weekend, so maybe the precipitation is a hint that we should hunker down in front of the boob tube for a couple of days, maybe throw in a culinary project or two.

By the way, did you read that Britain's poet laureate receives, as part of the post's remuneration for the decade-long appointment, a butt of sack (meaning, approximately 600 bottles of sherry)? That's a great phrase to know--can't wait to drop a "butt of sack" into a conversation--in addition to the fact that payment in booze is something that just doesn't happen often enough.

M has proposed a Costco run, so off we go…