Friday, April 24, 2009


It's Friday and the weekend is upon us. No doubt most of you will be outside enjoying the beautiful weather, relaxing, having fun. I'm planning a bit of fun myself, outside.
I'm ready to spruce up the 2nd floor deck out back and the patio down on the basement level of the house. I'm ready. But I'm not doing anything about it because who has time to sit outside these days? Certainly not me. But you know, I'm taking some "me time" and tickled pink to be doing so.
Last night I went to a friend's to do a load of laundry. We had a chance to check out her craft room, plunder through her art, flip the pages of magazines, and just enjoy one another's company. Then we went for dinner (Mexican) and sat there chatting til 10pm! Fun I tell you. Lots of fun.
Tonight I'm going with another friend to the Southern Women's Show, and really looking forward to that. With my allergies so active right now I've got to avoid those booths with the babes spritzing perfume on every passerby, but it'll be fun.
Tomorrow at oh-dark-thirty we're off to the Liberty Antique Festival for a full day of shopping and hunting. Foreign postage stamps, old rusty keys, postcards, ledger books, tokens, tickets, and of course old b&w photos for my collage classes. Can't begin to tell you how excited I am about that big adventure.
And then we're headed to Mom's to spend the night, eat a fabulous home-cooked meal, do a few loads of laundry that can be hung on the line to dry (nothing's better in this world than the smell of my mother's laundry), and of course to play dominoes for a few hours. It's addictive. I love it. I lose consistently and still I love it. She tells me you play til someone hits 400 and then you start a new game. One night I was losing so horribly that I wouldn't let them stop and declare me the all time loser. So we played to 500...600...750. I'm not joking, when we hit 1200 I was still losing my arse and we called it quits. Persevere, be steadfast, think positively, and then laugh hysterically when you admit defeat.
When we do come home on Sunday we'll be bringing Mini Cooper and Mercedes Benz home with us. Will they remember me? What will they think of the new floors? The empty rooms? The dry dog food? The boring milk bones? I can see their little faces, so expressive, looking for rawhides and Beggin Strips and then looking at one another thinking "how the hell do we get back to Grandma's?".

The cabinets are being hung even as we speak. It's pretty exciting. I'm actually breathless with anticipation. One of the many granite companies is coming at noon to measure. Keep your fingers crossed that the cabinets are actually finished when he shows up. So I've gotta tell you about shopping for granite.
At the cabinet store they had 2 drawers filled with 6" or maybe 8" squares of granite. One drawer was "level 1" priced at $40 per square foot. Second drawer was "level 2" priced at $45 per square foot. If we buy through them, the sink is included in that price, as is whatever edge style we choose and installation of course, complete with holes cut out for the faucet, soap dispenser, sinks, etc. Sounds pretty good to me except that none of her samples knocked my socks off.
So Wednesday I spent an hour or so looking at granite from a different showroom. Huge, great slabs standing up on their sides but so close together you couldn't tell anything about them. A huge array of 12" squares displayed in the showroom, but again, no bells, no whistles. So I left there and went to yet another place and honey, did you hear the sirens and screams? It was me! I was over the moon in love with so many of them it was ridiculous. I kept thinking I needed post it notes to mark them all, and yet at the end of an hour I'd narrowed it down to 3 pieces from one pattern and then one more. Clearly finding 3 I liked that were from the same quarry was very telling, don't you think?
Don't get too excited, these were "level 4" pieces I loved. $80 per square foot, but on sale for $60. Do the math, that's a lot of ca-ching for that bling. Hubby says no way. Bummer. Disappointed but not surprised. In the back of my tiny blonde head I knew it.

Yesterday it was his turn to hunt again. And he thinks he's hit the jackpot because they have great granite and presumably great prices. (A referral from a friend who's used them numerous times with great satisfaction steered us in their direction.) And he brings home a few samples. So when I finally get home last night he brings them into the kitchen and places them down by the flooring with a cabinet panel standing against the wall so we can try to visualize the end result.
4 were absolute losers...much the same as we'd seen everywhere. Very common patterns. No thank you. Two looked almost identical to each other, with lots of small, delicate veins running through it with a color almost coral or deep peach amid a sea of golden yellows, with hints of cranberry and black. One piece had more yellow with accents of that coral color while the other had more coral. That got a thumbs up from both of us, though my heart didn't flutter. Will I love that color installed? After a week? A month? A year? A lifetime? I'm betting not, but we sure can't afford to change it when I change my mind. If we go with a creamy butter yellow on the walls will it whisper "girl, you got it right" or will it shout "what were you thinking?".
And then he pulls out this small odd-shaped piece that looked almost like marble. The guy didn't have a sample so he literally broke off a corner, hence the small, odd shape. It's a shade of white, though not true white but not cream, with grays and blacks and lots of quartz for sparkle. The most unusual thing I've ever seen and I just can't tell if I'm in love with it because it's so small. Think the size of my hand small. It's just unusual enough that we might like it, especially if we leave the wall color Silver Seed (pale, pale gray that's almost white it's so pale).
And I look over at the fireplace. Fabulous white woodwork all around it, with a lovely mantle, and the marble surround and hearth are white and gray. From a distance it looked like this might actually match. Until you walked it over there and laid it on the hearth and then you see it isn't white at all. And the veining is so totally different that I worry they'll be battling with one another the rest of my life.
I need to see the big slab...with one of my cabinet doors next to it and a piece or 2 of my flooring. But when can we find the time to get over there with my social calendar so full? When those fabulous mocha cabinets are hung with their black accents in all the grooves, I'm gonna need 2 things. Hardware and granite.
I know it's insane but I can't even choose my knobs and pulls. Too many choices. Too expensive. But this is no time to start skimping on costs! And we've simply got to decide on a paint color. Those custom built plantation shutters will be here for installation and the windows have to be painted!!!! (I can hear Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond telling the kid "Get it in gear turkey!"
I have no vision for this finished remodel. None. Me, the woman who can design bangles and beads, paper arts, journals, assemblages of every size and shape, backgrounds with every color and pattern ... I cannot see my new kitchen. Just like all these shopping trips we've made this week for new rugs, I'm not finding them. How can I choose a rug when I don't know what color I'm putting on the wall? So why can't I make up my mind about the paint? Not a clue.

You know you have a smart husband when he refuses to steer you in any direction. He's not gonna listen to me for the next 20 years saying I never should've picked that. Nope. He's smiling and happy and willing to wait me out. To a point. He wants real dishes and silverware. He wants a supper of pork tenderloin cooked on his George Foreman grill. He wants a London Broil off the gas grill. He wants seafood grilled on cedar planks.
And that means he wants a table in the kitchen to sit down and eat. Did I mention we can't find a table? My mother is so in love with my old, her new table & chairs that she's special ordered a carpet to put underneath it. I tell you this because getting it back ain't gonna happen. We've simply got to find a table & chairs.
Right after we pick out the granite.
And the hardware.
And the paint color.

Aren't all these porches and patios cheery and calming and welcoming? I love them all, which is why my deck and patio are in their state of limbo. Like my house on the inside. Like my brain. There are too many options in life. It's like a box of Crayola crayons. A box of 16 is good but a box of 32 is better. So why did they come out with a box of 64? It's too much. I go through and select my favorites, ignoring the ones that don't make the cut.
My studio is filled with hundreds of ink pads and paints, yet I'm drawn to the same color pallete for everything I do. Silver Seed has been just fine for 7 years. Is yellow in my future? It's absolutely my favorite color. Always has been, always will be. But will I find the right shade to paint every wall of every room and still love it 7 years from now? I'm thinking cream. Not white. Not yellow. A nice warm welcoming cream, better than that cool gray.
Oh good grief, we haven't even looked at the tile for my backsplashes!! Help me Rhonda. Sing it with me, Help, help me Rhonda!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where You Been Girl?

Remember those games at the fair where you shoot the water gun into a clown's mouth and the horses go racing along? I'm hanging onto one of those horses and it bucks and stops, then lurches ahead before stopping again. That, boys and girls, is exactly what life is like in my fast lane these days.
I used to love going to the fair or the carnival when I was little, riding all the rides. I can still remember when I was about 10 and a neighbor invited me to go camping with her family at the beach. We bought little sailor hats with our names spelled out in glitter and we rode this little roller coaster that was truly for babies...just my speed. My favorite ride was the Tilt O Whirl. Spinning in those seats as they spun around, up and down, in a larger circle, everyone squealing.

Then of course I grew up and we went to more fabulous amusement parks like Disney Orlando, where the rides were just spectacular to look at, whether you stood in the line and actually rode them or not. But with age came motion sickness. I can get sick riding to Myrtle Beach. No kidding. Flat, straight roads do me in unless I'm behind the wheel. But I tell you this because my "new kitchen" is supposed to be like those fabulous new amusement parks. Except it still isn't.
Come to my house...enter my world...and you'll feel like you're at a not-so-amusing carnival. The first floor is now free of carpet. I've got fabulous hardwoods that beckon you from room to room ... no more breaks where hardwoods met carpet. No sirree, it's simply divine.

But that's where the real roller coaster of life truly begins. The only appliance in the kitchen is the fridge. Shiny, gorgeous, spectacular. Top of the line. Best of the best. French doors open to the fridge. Not one but 2 drawers contain frozen foods at the bottom. The control panel on the door has so many buttons that I couldn't operate it. Turns out one of them said LOCK, and until it was pressed to unlock the buttons, blondes like me were foiled. Go ahead. Laugh. I admit it's funny. Now.

I feel like I've approached one of my favorite rides, the swings. I've chosen my seat, attached the chain, and I'm smiling as I hold on, swinging my feet, waiting for it to start circling slowly at first, then as it picks up speed, I'm lifting up higher and higher, spinning out further and further. Oh yeah, that's me. Circling and spinning.

Except that I'm not. I'm still down there on the ground, swinging my feet, waiting for it to crank up. And waiting. And waiting. Hello! I've been without a kitchen for 3 weeks! It's time to crank this baby up, don't you think?

Those incredibly beautiful new cabinets went from the garage to the living room and now they wait where my table & chairs used to be, in front of the bay window. Covered in dusty plastic. Sitting on flattened boxes to protect my great new flooring. They're being installed on Friday morning at 9am. Yeah, that's the plan. We'll see.
Have I even picked out the granite for my fabulous new countertops? Nope. Do I want to make a decision? Well, duh, of course I do! But life keeps getting in the way. I know I don't want anything with green in it. Or brown. Blue? Did we know you could get blue? Holy Hannah, there's Nile blue and Azure blue and Aquamarine blue. Surely that's not what I want, is it? Won't it be like those shiny blue cars sitting on the lots that catch your eye, but you tell yourself there's no way you're gonna love that color 5 years from now when it's finally paid for, so you go for the black. I can honestly say when I'm at the carnival selecting my cup or horse or swing, I'm never gonna pick a blue anything. Why do they have to give me so many choices? But tomorrow's the day. I'm determined to select my favorite 3 and then put on a blindfold and pin the tail on whatever donkey winds up in front of me. I'm not kidding. That's the plan.

That way they can install the cabinets on Friday morning and on Friday afternoon they'll make the template and get the show on the road. I should have a sink and countertop installed in one week. Can you hear the gears on the swings? Sounds like the humming's gettin' a little louder.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I still have no washer & dryer hooked up. I took delivery of them. They're just in boxes. Along with that snazzy new convection oven and built-in microwave that's waiting to be built-in once those cabinets are hung. And yes, the rumors are true. They delivered not one, but TWO top of the line dishwashers with pot scrubbers and food grinders. And yes, there are only two of us living in the house. And yes, we eat out, often.
My new pantry has hardwoods and a door, but the walls aren't even finished enough for primer. Which is just as well because we can't decide on paint colors anyway. I like that Organza, which is just a whisper of blue, so tranquil that I'm sure I'll be calmer for choosing it. But I also liked that pale green. Oh, and the yellow is pretty impressive as well. These colors are so pale that I tell you now they really do have color in the cans. I'm ever hopeful that once we decide about a color palette we'll actually be able to see it on the walls. We've looked at Silver Seed for 7 years and it's so pale that it's almost white.
Me, the queen of color. The woman with the bright yellow and intense purple walls in my studio. Me, with that bold black & white checkerboard floor. Me, with the intense Tuscan Sunset gold in every other room on the second floor. Yep, the same me wanting just a whisper of color on the first floor.
And did I mention that we've been shopping for a bar height table and chairs for the kitchen...with no luck whatsoever. And we've been shopping for new Oriental rugs, again with no luck. Kinda hard to buy rugs when you haven't picked a wall color for a single room. Sorta like trying to pick out that granite. I've been swallowed up. My clothes are in the front bedroom. Mind you, the drawers are no longer in the chest. They're stacked on the floor. On a thick blanket of course.
And hanging clothes were moved from the lower racks of the master closet to the closet of the middle guest room. Except that the shoe storage units and ends tables and lamps and clothes hampers and framed art and beds and nightstands are stacked to the ceiling blocking those closet doors. And did I mention that I haven't had a laundry room in 3 weeks? Don't ask.
The puppies are still camping out at Grandma's house, being spoiled to within an inch of their lives. She gets up at all hours to check on them. (I can just see her trying to get close with a mirror to confirm that they're breathing.) And of course though she tip-toes, she wakes them. And then they're up and shaking off the sleep and ready to go outside for a walk. Because Granny gives them a treat of some kind every single time they go out!! And then she tells me how they sleep til 9am. Well I reckon they do Mother! You wake them up in the middle of the night and then give them food so they can't go back to sleep!
She loves walking them on the double lead. If Mercedes goes right, Mini automatically goes with the flow. And if one stops to look left, she swears they're like conjoined twins, both moving in one fluid motion. And she loves watching their little rearends twitch as they walk. Though she's not happy when they stop still and then one barks. Because the other one barks. And then one by one, every dog in the neighborhood barks. Which makes them bark even more. I'd bet her neighbors will be glad to see those little Scotties packed up and sent back to Apex. Sooner rather than later.
I can't imagine what they'll think of my shiny new floors. I also can't imagine what it's going to cost to keep their little nails trimmed so they don't scratch my shiny new floors. Think I could get them to wear socks? Now how funny would that be, watching them slip and slide. Pretty funny I bet. Nah. If Grandma finds out she'll accuse me of abuse and she'll come take them away from me. Trust me, she's looking for any excuse.
So when you don't see a new post on here on a regular basis, picture me chained into that swing, waiting for lift-off. Or get real and picture me with paint swatches and granite samples, plundering around trying to find something clean to wear. Now that's reality folks.
Mother, can I come visit the puppies and bring a few more loads of laundry? And can we have strawberry cake? Or maybe some of your homemade apple turnovers? Something that doesn't require reheating in a microwave since it's still in a sealed box.
There's something about having the coffee pot and toaster oven in the studio that doesn't please me. But that's only fair. Someone who shall remain nameless doesn't care for eating his meals in my studio. Particularly since I keep giving him his take-out dinners on paper plates with plastic utensils. That noise you hear is him grinding his teeth with displeasure. Picture me smiling. (Why I'm laughing out loud as I type this.)
So I'm here. I'm happy. Even when I'm climbing stairs that no longer have carpet, but also don't have new wood either. I'm smiling at bedtime when I slather my feet with body butter and then can't climb out of bed without finding my monkey bedroom shoes. (Found out the hard way that I left footprints all over my new bedroom floor. Lots of cleaning. Not smiling. But lovin' the look of those floors nonetheless.)

I've not lost my sense of humor, though there are moments, frequent moments, that I'm convinced I'm losing my mind. The master bedroom contains that monstrous king-sized bed, 2 nightstands, 2 lamps, a table holding the TV and a fabulous credenza that used to reside in the living room. That's all. The living room contains one leather sofa, one leather wing-back chair (don't know where we've put the ottoman, but I suspect it's blocking that darn closet door where all our clothes are hidden), one console table and one flat screen TV. That room has quadrupled in size. I swear it's true. Our voices echo. Gotta find at least one rug. I'm putting that at the top of the list. Well, close to the top. Right under paint color!!
And Michele, you were right about the noise of the ice maker in my new fridge. I'm sitting bolt upright at all hours of the night when ice cubes hit in the bin. Of course that's probably because they told me to toss the ones made in the first 24 hours, so at bedtime last night I chucked them into the backyard, and then when it began to refill, the noise was INTENSELY loud. I'm tellin' you, a rug really needs to be moved to the very top of the list. Yeah, right, like one rug is gonna help muffle that noise.
Come back and visit my blog...not my house. Not yet. I hope to do better with my posting. Really, I do. But I make no promises. I take no prisoners. And clearly, I don't rush in my decision making. Who knew?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Chaos, That Place I Call Home

Imagine this. The contractor arrives tomorrow at 7am. I've washed my last load of clothes for a while. I've run the dishwasher for the last time. I reached for a glass last night but the cabinet was empty. The middle guest room is now filled with box after box of fabulous hardwood flooring. All the furniture from that room is jumbled into the front guest room, along with boxes of dishes, glasses, Tupperware & utensils, ...I even spotted the slow cooker and toaster in there last night.
My mother & step-father came up last weekend to spend the night and play a few rounds of dominoes. They left the next day looking for the world like a pack of gypsies. In the back of their truck was a dishwasher, a push mower, a trailer that attaches to a riding mower, coolers, and then hooked to their trailer hitch was a trailer (ours; no, now it's theirs) loaded with our riding lawnmower. All those things found a new home. Can't say I was sad to see any of it go. Cleared out more space in the basement, which is always a good thing.

Today they're coming back for the washer & dryer, my kitchen table & chairs, and the matching baker's rack which has been in the basement since we moved into this house 7 years ago. We agreed at that time we wanted a bar-height table and chairs/stools, but we didn't buy them. Still haven't bought them. Don't even know if we can find them again. But be that as it may, our current set is outta here. I guess if you have no dishes you hardly need a table and chairs, right?
I'm betting big bucks they'll be back tomorrow for my stove & built-in microwave, along with some of my cabinets. Mind you they've got LOTS of cabinets to take and can't possibly get them all in 2 or 3 loads. But I'm standing firm: the side by side refrigerator/freezer cannot go until my new one is delivered in a couple of weeks! Where am I gonna keep my grape juice & orange juice, my ketchup and dill pickles, have mercy, my Mountain Dew!!!???

I'm feeling a little displaced in my own home these days. Last night I emptied 3 tall drawer-unit cabinets in the studio because tomorrow they also go to a new home...that of a friend and student. And that meant unloading 21 drawers and trying to fit everything coming out of those into my new IKEA cabinets. Didn't work. I've got about 100 bottles of paint that are too tall for the new drawers.
What do to...what to do.
I feel like I've dropped a ball of string (or yarn or ribbon) and it's rolling down the stairs, out the door...
Add to this my preparations for tomorrow's class. Give me strength. The farm tables are now covered with stuff from all those drawers. I know my biggest rotary paper cutter is under there somewhere. Not sure what else I'll find tonight as I scramble to tidy up, rerrange tables & chairs, and set out kits at each place setting. But if I can lose something that measures 15x24, you know that's a big pile!!!
I'm the little engine that could. I can do it, I can do think?

I'm suddenly feeling an attachment to my kitchen table and chairs. I love that iron scrollwork with grape clusters and leaves, the wicker weave on the back of the chairs, that glass top I've cursed a zillion times for showing every fingerprint and smudge. And wouldn't you just know, we bought the light fixtures in the same bronze finish as my table & chairs. Now with those gone and new stainless steel appliances coming in, dare I suggest new lighting fixtures to match? Lightening will strike me. I dare not say it. Shouldn't even think it. Certainly shouldn't have typed it here!

Okay people, laugh with me. Mother just called and she's lost. As we live and breathe... You can count on one hand how many times she's been to my house in 7 years. (You could actually count it on 3 fingers). My mother lives off of Hwy 64 East; I live off Hwy 64 West. Now it seems to me (all I'm saying) she oughta be able to drive from point A to point B. This is a woman who can drive 5 hours to Cherokee and find a casino in darkness, rain, fog so thick you can't see 3 feet in front of the car. But no, she can't find me. In her frantic voice, one I'm ever so familiar with (yes, it sounds very much like my own), she tells me she's in front of a big school with a green roof. What's the name of the school Mother? I don't know. She drives further and tells me it's Adams Elementary. Laugh again, because as soon as I asked the question I realized I still wouldn't know where it is. My son is 33 years old and went to schools in Garner. What do I know about schools in Cary?
So I asked if she was on a 4-lane road when she turned into the school parking lot. (Oh, there's that nasty, sarcastic tone I recognize, telling me she doesn't know.) How can you not know? You were on a road; you turned into a school parking lot. Was it a 2-lane city street or a 4-lane road like Cary Towne Center Blvd? I hear a bell dinging in the background. She's either opened her door to run or she's unhooked her seatbelt, also to run. She does not handle stress well.
I'm smiling as I type that. I tell you now, I'm exactly like my mother. I can see where this is going. If I think I've dropped a ball of string that's racing away, you can't imagine what this is like.
When I say she's been to my home 3 times in 7 years, that doesn't mean she hasn't set out for my house more times than that. Oh heavens, she's gotten with 6 miles of my house, sorted herself out, found the way back home, and put foot to pedal and done exactly that...driven right back home. And the best part: she doesn't call to tell me where she is. Nope. She goes back home and calls to tell me what's happened. The trauma. The stress.
So today, I'm trying to keep her on the phone. I feel like I'm working one of those suicide hotlines. Keep her calm. Keep her on the line. Keep her talking...distracted...til we can reach her.
She circles and heads back down the driveway, and sure enough, it's Cary Towne Center Blvd. She spots the mall across the street and asks if she should drive over there. She's just toying with me now, right? Like we can find her in that vast sea of cars at a shopping center! I tell her to turn right and she'll spot a McDonald's directly in front of her at the next light/intersection. Pull into that parking lot and don't move. Well, she could go in a for a kid's happy meal if I thought it would make her happy. But I am my mother's daughter, and trust me, it will not alter her mood in any way.
Clearly I'm needed elsewhere so I've got to go now. The sun is shining. It's supposed to be in the mid 70's today. No rain. Only blue skies, birds chirping, flowers blooming, swaying softly in the breeze.
Through clenched teeth I tell you to keep smiling. Everything's gonna be fine. Maybe during all this packing, cleaning, clearing of clutter I'll find my old bite guard. Teeth gnashing is not a good thing. A necessary thing, yes. Just not good.
Stay tuned. You know you're gonna hear more about this!