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

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?!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Remodeler's Remorse: Episode 1

It seemed like such a good idea in the early 90s.
With the first day of fall comes a burst of Boomer Girl energy. Enough energy to tackle that guest bath remodeling project I was talking about back in February. (Don't ask me why I postponed back then. I must have had a good reason.) So, I dragged out the clothes steamer and began to strip the old sheet music from the walls. Sheet music I applied myself over 20 years ago in not one, but two or three layers. You know, because I wanted the "layered look" of sheet music. So popular then. I can't tell you how many hours it took to get those walls papered because I've blocked it from memory thanks, in large part, to electroshock therapy.
Picture rich, creamy paint on the walls and antique books on the shelves instead of magazines.
My (new) goal is to create an elegant and witty "reading room." One with provocative books on the shelves instead of Fine Homebuilding magazines and fine art on the walls, instead of sheet music in the so-five-minutes-ago layered look.  I'm looking for paint the color of antique paper. Or, maybe buttermilk or linen. Subtle but with enough contrast to set off the white trim. I have a very specific dream, people. In the meantime, there's a little matter of manual labor.
Omigod, what have I started? And will I have the attention span and the upper arm strength to finish?!? One wall down and three more to go. But these aren't just any walls. These are the uneven, funky plaster walls one finds in a converted closet under the stairs of a 1952 home.
   At least, I have a place to sit while I work. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Enjoying the great American pasttime...sparingly

I am an admitted fair weather fan who believes baseball may be the most boring spectator sport in existence. Especially in the heat and humidity of Kansas summers. Except for golf. But, at least, golf has pretty scenery. So, it was no small deal for me to agree to attend the last KC Royals home game of the regular season with the hubs. (I normally encourage him to take guy friends when he gets the company seats.) Luckily, the Kansas City Royals are in contention for the play-offs this year and we were able to invite two of my favorite former co-workers, a couple who are expecting their first child, to join us. (The father-to-be is a huge Royals fan with an encyclopedic baseball mind. It's freaky the minutia he remembers. And he can boo - about bunts, specifically - with the best of them.)
Pretty good vantage point
Add to that a picture-perfect day of 75 degrees, moderate breeze, sunshine and shaded seating for most of the game, lots of hits and a home team victory, and I was one happy camper.  I even did a few cheers, except for the wave. I hate the wave. Okay, I did the wave but I didn't stand up. Did I mention we had a barbecue lunch beforehand?
Their first trip to Arthur Bryant's BBQ in KC. So adorbs.
Sometimes, you just have to say yes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

And so it begins: The transfer of stuff

My mother and step dad have decided to move to a two-bedroom apartment in a lovely senior living facility. That means, they'll be packing up the necessities and can't-live-without luxuries from the sprawling 5-bedroom home where I grew up. And leaving the rest to us, the five kids. I knew this day was coming, of course, and I applaud my mother for making the move while she's still fit in body and mind. I have no doubt she is making the right decision at the right time. But, there's still the matter of the stuff.
In with the new (top shelf).
Out with the old (glasses from old candles)
Mom has 90 days before the move (omigod, does that mean it's happening at Christmas!?!) so she has started to clear closets and cupboards, expunging stuff she won't take to the new digs. Every time I go to visit, I leave with stuff. Yesterday, it was a set of Mexican glasses and a pitcher made by my good friend, the amazing Marie Deborah Wald. Which was great. I wanted that stuff.  But, the time before, I agreed to take something I thought I wanted at the time, then changed my mind when I got home. What was I going to do, take it back?
Stuff I wanted.
And, not so much
After all, I told the hubs. I'm trying to EDIT the house, not add to it.  I recently decided that my home has too much "decor." Little vignettes of stuff that I used to love, but now look dated to me. And so, the replacement theory must kick in: One thing in; one thing out. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it. But, who will I give MY stuff to? The kids? They're WAY too smart for that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hitting 'em where they live

Hats off to the Budweiser folks who put the NFL on notice today that violence against women and children is not acceptable in civilized society. I guess we'll have to see what happens, but you can bet millions of dollars worth of advertising will get somebody's attention.

Anheuser-Busch statement:
We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Word of the Day: Oderiferous

Argh!! My house smells like Brussels sprouts...and onions...and cauliflower...and all the healthy fall vegetables I've been trying to consume lately. The odors have traveled to the bedrooms and I am desperate to find a way to get rid of them beyond opening the windows (ragweed allergies).  Today, I will try this remedy as found on a DIY site I've never heard of. Seriously, I'm that desperate.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Meryl said it, so I don't have to.

I read this on Facebook yesterday and, while I can't definitively attribute the quote to Meryl Streep, I'm posting it, anyway. It so completely describes how I feel these days at 58, defining an attitude I struggle not think of as, well, bitchy, for lack of a better word. (And there HAS to be a better word, right?)
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” 
- Meryl Streep
Thank you, Meryl... if it was, in fact, you who said it. (You never know on the interwebs.) The quote has a certain negative bent to it with so many 'no's and 'nots,' but the message is positive:  Life's short. Live it your way.

Boomer Girl Review: Ultimate Oriole Feeder

I've still got a way to go before I'm feeding pigeons on the steps of St. Paul's (which I never thought was a bad thing to do ...