Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Full of Grace

Nutella French Toast

First fruit from my newly planted cherry tree. Actually it was the ONLY cherry this year which made it all the more sweet
I tried to make this, but mine looked more like the trees barely survived a hurricane. Still everyone enjoyed. 
That my days at the lake start like this

And end like this.
Life's simple pleasures brought to me by nature (and Nutella)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Deck

I call the deck “done” but of course, it is never really done. There is still a checklist of small nuisance items that need to be addressed - tighten bolts on new furniture, we have not decided on the skirting, cabinet doors need a latch, the steps up to the deck need to be replaced, one additional light needs to be installed, etc. etc. etc.  But it is done enough to use it and for now it is enough.

This is the pergola that Martha wanted because she had seen this idea of hanging windows on it. At first I couldn’t visualize it and it was a real pain to build, but now that’s it done I really like it. It definitely defines the space.  And the bars chairs and cafe table make a beautiful place for me to sit and sip my morning coffee.

The railings look fancy but they were pre-builts from Home Depot. I just had to cut them to size and screw them in. Then I added a top rail to hold my flower boxes. I collect the seeds and start new plants every year in the basement.

 I also cut down a small section of railing behind the grill because I was afraid of heat build up behind there. Definitely don’t want any fire hazards.

This is the sitting area of the deck. At first we made the deck bigger to accommodate more seating area around a dining table but then decided to move the table off the deck and make it just for sitting/conversation. On nights when it’s just me and Martha for dinner we sit at the cafe table for dinner or sit side by side on the glider with plates on our laps.

And I got my chaise lounge chair because all I wanted was a comfortable place to read. And indeed it is.

The kitchen area held us up for a long time, for which I was grateful because, wow, I was so physically tired from building this monster, I needed the break. First I built cabinets to accommodate a dorm frig one of the girls brought home. But it wound up being way too high. So we dug through the shed that has become a storage unit of college crap and found a second, smaller frig. Then I had to rebuild the cabinets to hold it. We will have to store it in the off season.

But the countertop is what really stymied us. First we wanted granite but the cost was going to be between $1500 and $2000. Uhhhh, no. Then every other idea we came up with - tile, cement, marble, stone, etc. - got nixed because all reports were that with our temperatures ranging from minus 20 to high 90s, almost everything would crack. Then a friend, who was also building a deck, had some leftover Trex boards, so we used that. We don’t particularly like it but it will serve as a temporary counter until we can come up with something better. Plus we have a little left over so I can make a matching bench and end tables.

Martha took care of the lighting which at first I didn’t want - ambient light interfering with my view of the stars - but I have to admit, I do like it.

And finally, my marshmallow station.

We started this project in April. It took significantly longer than I planned but, except for the furniture, it came in under budget. The best, and hardest of the work is all underneath and will never be seen, but I know. And now Martha sits out there making lists of more projects. But first I am resting my body.

And toasting marshmallows.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Real Home

Sunday night I watched the Broadway Tony award show because I love the diversity that is New York theater. The first time I saw Camelot, Guinevere was played by a black woman. And this was in the 70s. Nobody cared.  Five minutes into the play no one even noticed. I was thinking about that when I was reading about an outrage that a black woman who was cast to play Nina Simone in a movie was not black enough. Not black enough? I don’t even know what that means. And that is the difference between Hollywood and Broadway. Broadway just doesn’t seem to notice the labels. Good acting transcends the color, the sexuality, or the ethnicity of the actor. Just look at the cast of Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton is played by a man of Puerto Rican descent, George Washington by a black man, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson by black men. In fact the only lead role played by a white person is King George III.  The show won 11 Tonys and is sold out into 2017.

We live in an amazing world of diversity but for some reason people want to live in a world of  “they” rather than “we” and so they label others. And once those labels are in place, judgements are made.  “Elite athlete” conjures one set of values, while “Muslim” triggers something else. “Gay” certainly gives rise to many different feelings depending on where you stand while fundamentalist Christian does something else. Or perhaps the same.  Oh yes, there are opinions about everyone. As someone I knew used to say “opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”

But today it's not enough just to have a personal  opinion. People feel compelled to share their opinions with anyone and everyone on the internet.  Oy.  Some people enjoy going on social media and calling the labels names. “Those Republicans are a bunch of assholes”. Some people just outright discriminate against some labels. “I will not bake a cake for a gay person”.  Some labels give the person immunity from equal punishment of crimes. And some people massacre other people of a certain label, be they Christians or gays or westerners or whatever label they hate today.  I knew someone who argued that we need labels for survival.  I would argue that labels are threatening our very survival.

What bothers me most is that these reactions are rarely against an individual, they are mostly against only the label.  Not a person, but an adjective.  And not really the label itself but their OPINION about the label. So much violence because of an opinion about a label.  I can only shake my head.

“Maybe there’s a lesson from all this, a lesson in tolerance. We need to support each other’s differences and worry less about our own opinions.”  Jimmy Fallon

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t want to live in a world of labels. I want to live in a world of individuals. Just like in my own home. In my own family. In my own community. All of us. Together.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Full of Grace

1. The deck is done, furniture assembled and I finally got to relax and enjoy it.  A full post, with pictures, will be coming.

2. I snagged tickets to this. Yeah, I'm not too excited.

3. I threw a few handfuls of wildflower seeds along a side of the house which is unused and this magically appeared!

4. The Tony awards which was proof, again, of just how wonderful diversity can be.

5. Lastly, it's been a difficult week hasn’t it? The Stanford rape case and the Orlando massacre, with countless other tragedies in between? While I have followed these cases, I do not allow myself wallow in the constant news feeds that hit my inbox. It is all too much for me and I'm, not going to reiterate thoughts and feelings already posted by many, many others. I’m sure you can all imagine how I feel.
What I am thankful for though is that people can heal from these traumatic events. While I am not exactly the poster child for how to go about healing (hint: don’t wait years to get some professional help) I do think I can stand as an example that healing can occur. Not only for me but for the woman in the Stanford case who is already light years ahead of where I was (or perhaps will ever be) and for all women who have ever experienced the trauma of rape. There is hope and there is healing. And for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Full of Grace

Last week I read a blurb that said “what if you woke up today and only had those things you were grateful for yesterday?”  Which really got me thinking. What would I miss most if they weren't in my life? What are those things for which I am most grateful, and am I making enough of an effort to appreciate them?
  • Family and friends.

  • A relatively healthy body and mind that still mostly function well.

  • The basic needs of a comfortable home and food to eat.

  • The natural beauty of the outdoors to enjoy.

  • Worthwhile and satisfying work.

“What if you woke up today and only had those things you were grateful for yesterday?”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Full of Grace

Better late than never . . .

  • Finally deciding on deck furniture so I no longer have to be dragged around shopping. Ironically we bought stuff from the very first store we went to but never saw this particular set.  We have to wait 3 weeks for delivery but then I will post some pictures.
  • The kitchen part of the deck is still not finished because we can’t decide on a counter top. This has given me a nice long break from construction which frankly has worn me out.
  • We got this propane fire pit (at a ridiculously low price at a scratch and dent) so I can roast marshmallows without the bother of building a fire. Lazy? Absolutely.

  • Survived moving Beaner into her attic apartment in sweltering heat. But it was worth it when I overheard her roommate say “your parents are awesome” and Beaner responded, “I know.”  I guess we’re not as embarrassing to her as we were when she was a teenager.
  • The May Healthier Eating Challenge was a success for me in that I have stopped eating junk food at work.  I find now since I don’t start eating sugar early, it's much easier to stay away from it throughout the day. A successful change of habit and I feel better too. How'd everyone else do?