Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kitchen rehab

For as long as I’ve known her, Martha has been pining for a new kitchen.  Our current kitchen doesn’t even have real cabinets - they are shelves, mounted a frame, with doors.  Barnwood doors which are very country looking, but the rough wood holds every bit of grease and dust.  And since it is all raw wood inside, all the dishes continue to have sawdust on them.   The linoleum floor is yellowed and in the winter we get a blast of cold air when opening a corner cabinet.  

And so, with only one last tuition payment to make (yay!)  we decided to finally remodel the kitchen.  I spent a good deal of the summer being dragged to kitchen and home improvement stores to pick out the color and style of cabinets.   Then a couple of months in the design stage.  Do we want shelves or a pull out drawer?  Here or there?   Arches or straight lines?  Mounted or counter top microwave? Knobs or handles?  What kind of backsplash?  Grade of granite?  What kind of moulding ? Honestly, the choices are endless.  The design process took months but we finally ordered everything.

And now we have started the demolition.  We are taking out the entire kitchen, down to the studs, so we can update the electrical and insulation.   Of course Martha, who is doing very little of the demo because of her respiratory problems, starts every day with “well, this part will be easy.”  

Not so easy.

Most people can just unscrew their cabinets and take them whole off the wall.  Ours, built on a frame work, required a piece by piece removal.  And every piece was secured with L-brackets which required the removal of 4 rusty old screws each.  Something that should of taken a couple of hours took me almost a week.

On one wall I went through a layer of sheetrock, only to find another layer of a brick facade, and behind that, yet more sheetrock.  It tooks days to get through it all and disposal was a bitch  Then on all corners there is a metal mesh which I can’t get out without destroying the ceiling so I will have to do some very creative sheetrocking around that.  

I did find the source of the cold air coming through the cabinets - once the old and decrepit insulation was out I found holes in the exterior walls where the wood knots had fallen out.  That will be an easy, and much needed repair.

Once we got the sink out we discovered that a lifetime of sink leaks had rotted out the floor below, right down to the sub-base.  Martha’s answer is to just go over it with a sheet of luan.  Her solution to most problems - cover it.   (This explains why there is four layers of linoleum to remove.)  I, being much more of a perfectionist when it comes to building, spent last night cutting out all the damaged wood and will replace it.  

Presently we are living without any counter space, no sink and no dishwasher and food and dishes stacked in the dining room on shelving I knocked together from the framework.

It is not so difficult, especially for me who is comfortable out in the woods for days without any amenities. But we are a one bathroom household so not only are we falling over each other in the mornings showering and teeth brushing, we now also have to get water and wash dishes in the bathroom sink. We are starting to eat way more take-out than is healthy.

The worst of it is all the plaster dust.   It is everywhere, in every nook and cranny.  Martha is constantly dusting and vacuuming and mopping trying to stay ahead of it, but it is insidious.   I can taste it when I lick my lips and even my bed feels gritty.  

Hopefully one more day will take care of the demolition and then we can start with putting it all back together.  The cabinets are being delivered on Monday, although we will not be ready for installation for at least a week after that.   But this project cannot be over too soon for me.   

Nerves  (and muscles) are getting a little frayed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Full of Grace

1. Zicam.  It kept my miserable cold to almost manageable level.   I know, the zinc is probably toxic as hell, but I hate blowing my nose.

2. Reading gardening blogs from the Southern Hemisphere.  How lovely to read about folks just planting their gardens while I am trying to get mine closed up for the winter.

3. I went to one of Peachie’s away games at the university where Daphne and I were attacked.  And I was okay.   I am hoping to write a more detailed account of this, but for now, I am just grateful for another positive sign that I am healing/healed.

4. Peachie and I enjoyed a lovely hike in this landscape which is just a few minutes from my house.   Lucky me.

5. The total kitchen renovation we are doing ourselves (yet another post I haven’t written) is moving along slowly with no major injuries or threats of divorce.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Full of Grace

That Beaner did the impossible and got herself out of a miserable required internship that had us all worried about her, and into a great one, close to home, that is very hard work but that she is really enjoying.

That Peachie, who has to do a clinical internship next semester, was offered one at Johns Hopkins.  I don’t know if she will take it but to see this kid who had a speech impediment and a learning disability and struggled so much academically when she was young, challenge herself and succeed,  in the sciences no less, is just amazing to me.

That Martha has been asked to coach our school’s girl’s JV basketball team.  I am grateful because it means she will have to give up her role as director, coach, concession stand overseer, and everything else doer for the youth basketball program she currently runs.  It’s a great program and she has made such a difference for a lot of girls who have very little positive in their lives.  But she took on too much - mostly because no one helps anymore.   I think this new job will be much less time and pressure.  (I could be wrong.)  And she is very happy about it.

So this week’s gratitude is centered around my family.  Not so much just pride in them but in the knowing that they have the skills to find their way.   I have to admit that knowing I have a high probability of cancer recurrence has given me a pointed sense of my own mortality.  Not in a morbid way, but in the sense that one worries about the future well being of their loved ones.   And I am extremely grateful to have lived long enough to see my daughters into adulthood and to know that they are capable of making their own opportunities and happiness.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Body Pump

“Come to Body Pump with me”,  my oldest daughter said.  “You will enjoy it”, she said.  

A couple of months ago my family joined a new gym.  It is a pretty high performance gym geared to athletes and some serious fitness folks.  There are also a few people like me, just trying to maintain without pushing too hard, but we are the minority.   

“Are there any older people in the class?”, I asked.  “Yes” she said, “quite a few.”

“And it is a great program for your bone density issues”, my youngest daughter added.

So I showed up for Body Pump.  My daughter got me all set up with a bench and pad, and numerous barbells with various weights.    I looked around the class of about 25 people and I was BY FAR the oldest person there.  I said to my daughter “ I thought you said lots of older people take this class.”  She responded, “well, they were here last week.”   Great, I thought, they apparently all died after taking this.  

Class began with doing squats while holding a barbell across your shoulders. Down, up, down, up. Then down and pulse, down and pulse.  I thought I was doing pretty good until after about 600 squats the instructor yelled, “okay, second set”    What?  We have to do more?  Yes, like four sets of those.

Finally the million squats were over and we moved to shoulders.  Now we were holding plates that we raised to shoulder level, hold, then over head, back to shoulders, now rotate.  I was using light weights and was thinking “wow, this is easy, I could do this all day.”   Until after a minute or so of non-stop movement when those light plates began to feel like they were 100 pounds each.  I was sweating profusely.   Finally the instructor yelled, “okay, lunges!”

I looked at my daughter and said “I hate you.”   She just laughed

This went on for an excruciating hour, exercising each major muscle group - squats, presses, lunges, deadlifts. curls, triceps (OMG I thought those muscles were ripping off my bones)  crunches and push-ups.   I think blood was starting to come out of my pores and I was seeing cross-eyed.  After a few cool down stretches we were released from this hell and I went home and sat in a sauna, whimpering and  feeling sorry for myself.

Today I could barely get out of bed.  There is no part of my body that does not ache and for some reason I cannot go down stairs.  I think my quads have withered in fear and my legs are threatening to leave me all together.   I had trouble eating breakfast as I could barely lift the spoon to my mouth. I imagine it will be even worse tomorrow.

My youngest daughter is home on her fall break and asked me to go to a class with her on Saturday called Body Attack.

I don’t think so.    My body has already been attacked.

But I am hoping to return to the Body Pump class (after my body recovers in a year or two)  as I think it is really good for rebuilding my cancer drug bone loss.  

And then I will look like this.

Well, after I have my foobs pumped up more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Full of Grace

Last week a brutally horrific murder happened in my town involving two parents and their young sons,  aged 7 and 10.  The entire community is mourning.   And their are many members of the community that are working so hard to solve the crime, and comfort and community, especially the young children who were friends and classmates of the deceased.  

I knew the police officer who was the first to respond.  I know from experience that when you witness violence, you can never un-see it.  My heart goes out to him, and all the other officers who had to go into that house to document the crime.  They will forever have to live with those images. Our police chief simply broke down at one press conference, holding back tears saying “the children, the children”.  

For days afterward, teachers were gathering at our house - first because Martha was getting more information from her police sources than were available to the press, and also because she is on the crisis management team for the elementary school these boys attended.  She herself had both boys in her special learning classes.   I was amazed that these teachers, who were so personally affected by this loss and trying to hold back a torrent of tears, continued to make the comfort and support of their classes their first priority.  Although the strategy was different depending on the the grade level, these people held it together to make the days as routine as possible for the kids while still giving room for the inevitable questions and fears.

The surrounding school communities are also responding, sending social workers and grief counselors for as long as needed.  Off duty plain clothes police are volunteering to patrol the school and keep out the frenzy of media.  And parents and local businesses are bringing in mountains of food to show support for the teachers and police.

Having lived with a cop for almost 15 years, I know the tremendous stress they are always under. They see the worst of what humans do to other humans.  Daily.  And they never know what the next traffic stop, or house alarm, or domestic dispute will bring.   I also know that there are bad cops and bad teachers and unfortunately, with today’s media focus, they seem to be the majority. But they are not.   

So this week’s gratitude is for all those people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. Who have to witness the worst of the worst and get up and do it again the next day.  For those who have to deliver unbearable news to the next of kin.  Those who have to do autopsies on young children.  Those who work extra unpaid hours to insure safe and calm environments. Those who drive the school busses in circuitous routes to avoid the unavoidable crime scene, still plastered in crime scene tape.  Those who come to listen and help with the fears of little ones. And those who have to hold the hands and dry the tears of 5 year olds scared to death and answer very hard questions of 10 year olds, and still teach and maintain a sense of normalcy.   

It can be a beautiful world.  It can also be a brutally violent world.  And I am very grateful for the people who are able to step up and deal with the ugly side of humanity.  I’m sure I never could.   

They are heroes.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

25 years

Yesterday Martha and I were to celebrate our 25th year together.  We have been together longer but we mark our anniversary as the day we went to the beach, exchanged rings and made a commitment to help each other on our journeys.  

Someone had asked me how we have been so successful and I had started to write this post about how we have managed to navigate this relationship for 25 years through crazy family issues, PTSD, having babies, counseling through the ‘I hate you’ times, sports, boyfriends, financial stresses, getting the girls to and through college, an empty nest and still managed to not only like each other but to keep the love alive and thriving.

We had gone away last weekend for some ‘us’ time and had planned a special dinner for last night.  Instead, yesterday our town experienced a horrific quadruple homicide.  Two of the victims were children aged 7 and 10, both were Martha’s students.  She is, of course, devastated, as is our entire community.   She, being a retired cop, was able to get more information than was being released to the media and we knew more of the gruesome details than most.

So instead of the romantic dinner, we spent the evening crying and hugging and praying and being grateful for still being able to hug our own children, and basically clinging to each other like life rafts through the night.

Today, I realized that this is what love is and what love does.  This is how we have navigated our 25 years together.  Our relationship has been far from perfect.  We have had ugly fights and pushed each other to extreme frustration and I have taken more cooling off walks around the block than I care to think about.  But we have been able to love and grow with each other for 25 years because we show up daily to help each other on our journeys - not just the fun and sexy times but when the journey gets hard.   Painfully hard.  

Love shows up.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Full of Grace

Kristin Noelle - Trust tending

1. The luxury of being able to retreat from daily routines to go explore some deep inner places.

2. Friends and family who kept their hands extended to make sure I didn't get too lost while exploring.

3. The privilege of spending time in the woods with an American Indian friend who taught me much about the spirituality of mind and body and nature  - often without even saying a word.   What an amazing experience.

4. Perfect days that look like Autumn but feel like Summer.

5. The anticipation of catching up on everyone’s blogs and emails.  

I didn't realize I had been away so long so but it was time well spent.  It may take me awhile, but I will catch up with you, and hopefully write about some of my recent experiences too.  Thank you to everyone who stayed with me.