Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two more days till Tuesday!

Tuesday is going to be a banner day. The Kansas City Royals play in their first World Series game since 1985. (I had just had my second child and was living in a KC suburb, at the time.) That's exciting enough because, if you're a loyal baseball fan (and I was, back in the day,) 29 years is a long time to wait for post-season payoffs. This time around, however, I've been a loyal fan for three weeks, which is exactly how long I've been waiting for this....
my new, silver iPhone 6, which is finally scheduled to arrive by FedEx - you guessed it - on Tuesday! Finally, I'll be able to return my tortoise-slow iPhone 4 for a $200 credit and experience real legibility and speed again. The hubs said, "You'll be spending so much time fooling around on your new toy, you won't even know the Series is on." Which may be true, but that's the beauty of the World Series. There is so much more baseball to play after Game 1. Gooooo, FedEx!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola: A little perspective

Thank you, Frank Bruni, for the much-needed injection of common sense today.  Does Ebola scare me? Sure, a little...at least, for now.  Does my heart break for the victims in Africa, Dallas and elsewhere. Of course. But, at 58 (going too swiftly on 59,) I'd rather worry about the health enemies I can see and understand, including worry.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Living in "Gilmore Girls" town

A painting of Downtown Lawrence, artist unknown.
It's so refreshing to experience your hometown through a visitor's eyes. The guest admires and appreciates things you have come to take for granted over the years. Such was the case the last four days when my friend, Carol (aka Short Jewish Gal), visited for the auspicious first reading of our play. (It went really well, I'm thrilled to report.)  Her emailed description of my little burg to a friend in Los Angeles prompted the response: "Oh, it's like Gilmore Girls!"  I thought, well, I guess if you injected a bunch of college kids and hipsters into Stars Hollow, sure, you might have Lawrence, Kansas. The SJG loved the Ladybird Diner we went to for breakfast, the subterranean sushi place downtown, our brand spanking new library (which isn't provincial at all) and, especially, the crisp, cool autumn weather, complete with turning leaves. Thanks, friend, for reminding me what a wonderful place I call home. Come back soon!
Working on rewrites in our shiny new library.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My first bathroom-warming gift and SJG #beRoyal

The Short Jewish Gal arrived from hot and dry L.A. yesterday, on time and bearing gifts:  A beautiful necklace with an azul stone that matches my eyes for me, and this most appropriate tome for the new reading room.  In return, I gave her lodging in my son's old room and crisp, cool fall weather. She is here for the first official reading of the play we co-wrote, "It's All About the Hair." Tonight, actual actors will ascend on BoomerGirl's house for a table read, followed by dinner which the SJG and I will prepare this afternoon. We are excited! Meanwhile, we are basking in the afterglow of the Kansas City Royals' play-off victories. That's the Boomer Girl's hometown team and SJG's adapted team since the Dodgers are out of it. I may not convince her to purchase a souvenir Royals t-shirt, but she will no doubt take the name Billy Butler aka "Country Breakfast" home with her on Wednesday. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bathroom Remodel: The End (almost)

New bronze fixtures. Shelves will have a new leaded glass cabinet door, eventually. I need better towels.
With less than 24 hours to spare before the arrival of our house guest, the Short Jewish Gal, the reading room - formerly known as the music room - is finished! Well, not completely finished. I need to hang more pictures and, obviously, purchase new guest towels. But, it's functional again and a heckuva lot better than this, this and this.  (Well, maybe not better, but more calming, somehow, and up-to-date.)
The new paint color is fab (I didn't get to the hall yet) and the old mirror looks great with a fresh coat of white paint. But, my favorite feature is the custom-made walnut cabinet with the soapstone top, crafted by my talented hubby, that holds extra TP, magazines and towels.
Obligatory box of Kleenex to go on back of toilet.
We hung one old picture as a nod to the old sheet music theme. (More art to come later.)
Game of Thrones... New Moon... P is for Peril
And, I'm having a blast stocking the library with books whose titles have a water closet theme, no matter how obvious or esoteric.
I've always been a sucker for bathroom humor.
I pilfered some books from my dad's old collection, others from my own, and still others from used book outlets. And, I'll be accepting any and all contributions from friends.
Some titles may be replaced as the bookcase fills up.
The plan is to wait and see if our guests catch on. But, I'm guessing I'll have to point it out sooner than later because I'll be bursting! Pardon the pun.
Go, Dog, Go... Oh, Baby! Go, Baby!... Flush!
My two favorites, at the moment, are "Sprinkles and Secrets" and "The Tao of Pooh." "Gone with the Wind" arrives in the mail soon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Transfer of Stuff: Part 2

Last Sunday evening, the children (and a couple grandchildren) gathered around my mother's dining room table to view the cast-offs up for grabs in the latest installment of "The Great Giveaway." This time, it was china, silver and odds and ends Mom found in the closets. While my sisters were poring over the silver serving pieces and fine china, I found myself uninterested in anything but these cool informal plates....
They had me at "no two are alike."
 I knew nothing about them - just that I loved them - but have since discovered they are the "Laurita" pattern by Della-Ware, hand painted and hand glazed, probably from the 40s. They belonged, originally, to my maternal grandmother.
I wish I knew what the 14 meant. Or, is it 1K?
There are 12 of them, so I decided to put eight in the glass cabinets in the kitchen.
So bright, cheery and cottage-y!
This meant I had to displace the Polish pottery formerly in those spaces and the only place to put them was here...
This right here is the illustrated definition of "insane."
in what is starting to look like the crazy hoarder lady's dining room.  There are two corner cabinets, each equally full. I live in fear that the shelves will collapse.  (The good news is, my daughter loves Polish pottery, too, and I've decided not to make her wait until I die to get some.) My other major acquisitions were these huge brass candlesticks. At some point, I had put away all my brass. I don't know why. It reminded me too much of the super-shiny 80s, I guess.  But, after a good polish, these gorgeous creatures have inspired me to dig out those old wedding presents. Sometimes, you just need a little shine in your life.
I'm thinking lovely red bows at Christmas time.
 Thanks, Mom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Remodeler's remorse: Episode 4

How's that bathroom coming along, you say? Oh, pretty good. The walls were a challenge to patch, but I sanded the last of the mud yesterday. (Note to DIYers: Always wear your best black DKNY pajamas to sand drywall mud. The white dust gives them added pizzazz.) The hubs insisted on doing the painting. "Twist my arm and I'll cry 'Uncle'," I told him.
Sink getting new faucet. Little shelf getting a cabinet door, custom-made from leaded glass, eventually.
The new sink fixtures and accessories I ordered from Overstock.com are supposed to come tomorrow. Hopefully, the light fixture and toilet will be installed tonight. It's been a little scary having to sprint to the master bath every time nature calls. My 58-year-old bladder doesn't always give me a lot of notice.
This is where the toilet goes, you should excuse the expression, and not a moment too soon.  Next step: Decorating the Reading Room.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I am - and will always be - the family photographer

It never fails. I get home from vacation, download my photos and there are none of me. At least, none that I can tell are of me. Since my phone has a camera and my husband's does not, I am the shutterbug by default. "Pose by that church," I'll instruct him. "Smile!"
"Turn around! I want to get a picture of you and the statue," I'll say. "Smile!" He usually obliges (at least, more readily than he used to) and I'll usually snap a well-composed shot with my subject in focus, usually.
Sometimes, I'll even snap a candid when he's not looking.  Then, after he's posed for three or four shots, he'll say, "Here. Let me get one of you." So, I'll fix my hair, arrange my clothing and body at the most flattering angle, suck in my stomach and flash him my best smile. I'll say to myself, "Maybe, just maybe, this will be the picture that redeems him." Then, something like this happens....
At least, my stomach isn't sticking out.
Wait!  Is that... yes, I think that is me! I recognize the hat. "What were you thinking?" I laughed hysterically when I saw the shot. "I wanted to get all those rocks in the background." "Well, that you did, Ansel Adams," I said. "That, you did."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back to Big Cedar Lodge

Fall Lodge. One of the many on the Big Cedar property.
I'm a little late posting this because our destination was in the Ozark mountains meaning a) internet was iffy, anyway, and b) I made it worse by upgrading my iDevices to iOS8 before we left which wreaked havoc on them. Except for a few Instagrams, emails and texts to the kids, I was off the grid all weekend. Anywho, here's the report from Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.
That big window is the bathroom. There were two more big windows on the corners.
Since it was a last-minute trip (set up around a visit with a sick relative in the area,) we booked what appeared to be one of the last available "value" rooms in the Valley View Lodge, a more than adequate corner room with a waterfall in the green space next to us. 
Our next door neighbor, the waterfall.
We were just up the hill from the picturesque wedding chapel which was busy all weekend long.
Summer season was winding down, but we managed to find an outdoor heated pool that was open, complete with built-into-the-rocks hot tubs. We had the place to ourselves. I love it when that happens. 
That's a little more leg than I normally would show. Guess the warm water (and the wine) loosened me up.
 The new big thing at Big Cedar since my official press visit in 2008 is Top of the Rock...
Osage Restaurant and Buffalo Bar patio
the incredible Ozark Heritage Preserve with restaurants, wilderness trails, a museum and cave, and other features surrounding a Par 3 golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. (The Big Cedar complex is the vision of owner Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shop fame.) On Saturday night after dinner, the hubs decided to try out the practice range with complimentary rental clubs.  $15/bag of balls.
Even barefoot, he put on a clinic.
We decided the course - or the air - is magical, because he hasn't golfed in two years but was hitting them over the entire range and down into the mountains. We're talking out of the park! People were even applauding from the restaurant patio.
Another wedding chapel at Top of the Rock.
The place reminded us a lot of our trip to Scotland, except for the sunshine. In fact, every night at sundown, bagpipers serenade the guests before the firing of a canon.  I can't recommended Big Cedar more highly. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The domino effect of remodeling

I decided to go for the burn yesterday and remove the old sheet music from Walls 3 and 4. Done!! (But, oh, my aching 58-year-old shoulders! And, my back! Good God, my back!) Then, while looking at paint samples, dreaming of getting this thing DONE, my daughter suggested that as long as "we" were painting the bathroom, to be known in the future as "the library"....
Paint colors too dark. Cabinet doors to go on that built-in shelf.
why not paint the "gallery" (aka little hallway outside of the bathroom), too? It is, she pointed out, too dark and gloomy, and the picture arrangement is "kind of random."
I admitted she had a point. The gallery could use some work and walls in a color with the same value as the rest of the interiors, which is a much lighter soft gold. But, I don't want more soft gold. I want a color that complements the soft gold and wood floors. Something light that sets off the picture frames but dark enough to contrast with the white trim. So, we consulted the color wheel and Ralph Lauren and came up with this...
It's called Desert Broom and although it looks gray here, it's actually got a little blue in it. "We" will be painting next week. But, first, I was moaning and groaning so much last night, the hubs decided to take me away for the weekend to a spa. Or, at least, a place with a hot tub. Find out where tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Remodeler's remorse: Episode 3

It's Day 3 of my sheet music stripping project. I'm feeling sore but, oddly, less remorseful.  I'm tackling Wall 3 today and, instead of 'what have I done?' woe, I'm filling my head with positives:
A)  The bathroom is going to look GREAT at the end of it all.
B)  My clothes steamer is a godsend.
C)  My upper arms and shoulders needed a good workout, anyway.
D)  I've earned tons of extra 'wife points' with the old man.
E)  Working in a tiny closet, alone, has given me focused time to solve some problems and think of new ideas, including other do-it-yourself projects (for better or worse.)
F)  I was a genius to ditch my pants yesterday and work in my underwear. So less messy.
G)  I can't wait to go to the paint store tomorrow and pick out my color!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Remodeler's remorse: Episode 2

Progress.
Someone once asked me, "What made you think of wallpapering your bathroom with sheet music in the first place?' Good question, Someone. I remember having inherited a bunch of old sheet music from one of the older adults I used to work with. Then, I started adding to the collection via garage and estate sales, with no particular purpose in mind. When we moved to our current house and decided to add a half bath under the stairs, we were cutting corners wherever we could. I'm guessing I figured it was a creative way to save on wallpaper costs. Two days into stripping, I figured it out.
A pox on my walls!
The walls of the closet were in such bad shape - with holes, lumpy and out-of-square - we literally needed to patch them with little pieces of paper going every which way. Had we used standard wallpaper, it would have been impossible to do a good job. There's going to be major work involved simply prepping to paint. I repeat: Oh, God. What have I done?!