Let The Remodeling Wild Ride Begin, Part 2 Of 2

[Continuing from Part 1 yesterday.]

AS FRIENDS AND FAMILY already know, Zen-Den and I have been dithering around for years about:

What to do about our master bathroom?

It’s never been a good use of space, and I’ve never felt safe in it because the builder grade floor tiles get slippery when the room is humid, which is often because the builder grade exhaust system is pathetic.

Considering we like where we live in this large subdivision, one that caters to people of all ages– some neighbors retiring here to build their dream houses, other neighbors buying their starter house here, and everyone else in-between.

Like us.

And considering we like living in this small town that’s known for outdoor activities and casual dining, we’ve decided to stay where we are, remodeling what displeases us about this house, making it retirement-ready.

For later.

So, we talked with three remodeling companies about doing work around here, and decided to go with the company that remodeled our kitchen years ago.  Their workmanship and our style seem to be in sync.

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Thus here’s what’s going on around Chez Bean this summer:

  • we’re having our master bathroom partially gutted, reconfigured, and modernized so that it’s safe [& pretty] for us as we age;  and
  • we’re having our laundry room reconfigured so that we’ll have a newer-style [larger] washer and dryer + usable storage space;  and
  • we’re redoing our family room fireplace tile and mantel + having the walls painted a neutral, timeless color;  plus while they’re here
  • we’re having our kitchen tweaked just a little bit to tidy up a few things.

And now, for a few “before” photos…

Small cabinet with sink over in corner where only Zen-Den could manage to use it.

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Jetted garden tub that I hate, used as linen closet because there is no linen closet in this bathroom.

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Larger cabinet with sink, and almost no storage, in another corner of bathroom. Technically not the builder’s fault that I’m messy by nature, but I think I’ll blame him anyhow for not giving me enough drawers.

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Boring shower with absolutely no character that lacks an exhaust fan above it.

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Small laundry room that doesn’t accommodate the larger side-by-side appliances that are now available.  Also dryer does not work, because it’s a poopy head.

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Family room in which we pulled down the mantel last summer, then painted test colors on the wall intending to redo this mess ourselves. Obviously, we never did.

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Let The Remodeling Wild Ride Begin, Part 1 Of 2

WHEN I STARTED THIS blog years ago my intention was to write 80% about how we were updating our house + garden, then 20% about topics I was researching.  I thought this would be more of a design + information blog, rather than a lifestyle journal-ish blog.

Well, that idea fell apart, didn’t it?

Early on I discovered that:

  1. Even though I’m passionate about design, I don’t like writing about the involved decision-making process that goes on within all decorating +  remodeling projects.  I feel clunky and stressed when I try to write about design.
  2. Even though I enjoy photographing nature and signs and building exteriors, I end up swearing at my camera when I attempt to take pics of inside rooms.  I don’t have an eye for design photography, and my poor camera takes the brunt of my frustration.
  3. Even though I had some fun blog followers who were interested in our ongoing home improvement stories, they, to a one, stopped keeping blogs and drifted away from  the blogosphere.  I now have more wordy followers who groove on topics other than design.

So I had a little sit down chit-chat with myself to reassess what I was doing here, realizing that my most popular fun-to-write blog posts were personal, often about my observations regarding the wack-o-ness of people OR about small glimpses into the ordinariness of my daily life.

And then, I pretty much stopped writing about or photographing what we’re doing around the house.  No one cared, and I didn’t mind not writing about the angsty-ness and minutiae of design projects.

However…

[Part 2 will be tomorrow.]

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Talking Daylilies Here: No More Happy Returns

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Good-bye cervine freeloaders.  Hasta la vista deer buffet.

Yep, after 17 years of growing and tending a patch of Happy Returns Daylilies out front of our house under the lamppost, I had the landscaper remove them all and re-design the area.

The irony is, and there seems to be irony with anything I do, that when we built this house I was adamant about wanting Happy Returns Daylilies, which are a lovely shade of lemon-y yellow.  I paid extra to not have Stella D’Oro Daylilies, which are more golden-yellow, and common around here.

They’re in all the gardens in this subdivision.

Nope, planning ahead, as is my way, I wanted lemon-y yellow colored daylilies because they would look better with our particular brick–and because doing things, just a little differently than everyone else, comes naturally to me.

However, turns out that Happy Returns Daylilies are a favorite nosh of ye olde deer.  Also turns out that these pretty plants need lots of almost daily maintenance during the summer to keep them looking fresh and lovely.

So, with just a tinge of regret, but not much, I decided to embrace Admiral Grace Hopper’s famous quote and let go of my favorite Happy Returns Daylilies [and a patch of Russian Sage + Bergamot– and a few lost Daisies] to make space for a simpler, more modern, design out front of our house under the lamppost.

One that looks infinitely better than that which I thought that I knew that I wanted… years ago… before I became a wiser, and lazier, gardener.

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Here’s the new look: Boxwood [hedge], Fineline Buckthorn [small ornamental tree], Barberry [small bushes] + Liriope [used as ornamental grass].

Be The Light: Of Ladybugs, Love & A Clever Little Girl

I’ve joined in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of April, I have a story to share with you, my gentle readers. 

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THE NEWS STORY:  

Did you know that in the Jewish religion when visiting a loved one’s grave it’s customary to leave a stone on the grave?  These stones are called visitation stones.

I wasn’t aware of this tradition until I read about a girl who took it upon herself, in response to cemetery vandalism, to create some pretty hand-painted lady bug and heart visitation stones.

The complete story [found here with video] tells of 6-year-old Ayel’s response upon learning that vandals had damaged her great-great-great-grandmother’s tombstone in a St. Louis cemetery.  Ayel decided to paint some stones for herself, and for all the other families who had experienced this vandalism, as a way of showing kindness to the living– and respect to the deceased.

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MY COMMENTARY:

If you took the time to watch the video, then you’ve already realized that Ayel is cuter than the bee’s knees.  I mean, how could you not love her?

That smile!

But beyond that fact I like this kid’s spirit.  She understands what happened in the cemetery and that it was a lousy thing for anyone to do.  However, instead of ignoring what happened or giving in to helplessness, she’s opted for kindness.

Ayel intuitively gets what many adults have forgotten.  She understands that creating something healing and meaningful doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to come from the heart.

Which, as anyone with even just an ounce of kindness in their soul knows, is a great place to start.

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Share Your World | On The Deck With The Usual Suspects

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Re: what I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to doing. On our deck we now have a small herb + vegetable garden with the usual suspects: [l to r] Italian Oregano, Rosemary, Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes, Cute Stuff Gold Peppers, and Sweet Mint.

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• Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

Water… or maybe Iced Tea.  Of course what is Iced Tea but Water fancied up, so my final answer, Alex, is: what is water?

• Complete this sentence:  Never In My Life Have I…. 

Wanted to go to the moon.

• If you could be given any gift what would it be?

Are we talking gift, like a present? Or are we talking gift, like a skill? Or a superpower?  I need a bit of clarification here before I can gift the world with my answer.  😉

• What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep, toss and turn, or get up and try to do something productive?

I’m a good sleeper, so I rarely deal with sleeplessness.  But when I do, I lie in bed and compose blog posts in my head.  This tends to put me back to sleep almost instantly.  🙂

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to the needy selfish people who caused me angst and trouble– which then lead me to remember one of my favorite hymns, It Is Well with My Soul.  I share a beautiful rendition of this hymn, sung a cappella by Sisters, below. In the rotunda!

This week’s looking forward to something goes to having lunch with an articulate out-of-town friend who I’ve known for year and agrees with me that most of the people who we know are whacked.  We’ll have much to talk about.  Imagine that!

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Be The Light: Of Coffee, Kindness, And Connection

I read about the idea first when bikerchick57 posted about it on her blog, Mary J Melange.  Then I read about it again when Susan Scott wrote about it on her blog, Garden of Eden Blog.

I liked what they were talking about so I thought to meself, I’ll do this project, too.  Thus I share with you my first post in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest, the point of which is to highlight positive news stories and present them on the last Friday of the month.

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INTRODUCTION: I initially thought it would easy to find a positive news story online, but I was naive.

Stupidity. Anger. Hostility. Resentment.  Those news stories were everywhere, easy to find even when I didn’t want to find them.

I was ready to give up on this project but decided that I wouldn’t let vitriol win, and eventually I found the following positive news story, therein proving that good news is out there if you intentionally look for it.

* * *

THE NEWS STORY: When I finally found something positive in the news, it was a story about a small personal gesture made by a woman who behaved rudely toward a guy who was just doing his job.  The story, Starbucks barista gets apology note and $50 bill from ‘sassy’ customer, hit home with me for many reasons.

For one thing, I’ve worked as a waitress, which is like a barista in that you have to deal with tired people who just want their food and drink. Now.

Also I’ve been a sassy customer, not in food establishments as much as in retail stores, when I can’t find what I want– and all that I want is, in my mind, so simple and should be there.

And three, I’ve sent apology notes to friends and family when I’ve goofed up. ‘Cuz good manners count.

* * *

COMMENTARY: This was an act of kindness that highlights a common problem that I see in our increasing complicated, impersonal, and fast-paced world.  That is, a lack of patience for not getting what you want, then taking it out on whomever happens to be the messenger.

But what I do not see or read about often enough are apologies expressing a sincere regret for impatient behavior, backed up with something tangible. Hello, President Grant!

So in conclusion, with all due respect to Gibbs Rule #6, I think that in many cases, such as this one between strangers, apologies are a sign of strength that can only make our world a better, less hostile, more connected place in which to live.

And we all want that, don’t we?

The Beginning Of My Life As A Purposeful Procrastinator

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-8-15-02-amTwenty years ago this month Zen-Den and I bought a dial-up modem that we used to connect our home computer to the World Wide Web– and our lives changed forever.

For a few years before this, we’d been using a home computer to keep track of finances and to make a recipe book– well, one of us was making a recipe book.  These uses of a home computer seemed modern enough to us, but with a snazzy new modem we had the luxury of the WWW in our home.  Imagine!

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I knew about email because in college I had an email address.  That was only because I was part of an early academic study on how strangers interact with each other on the World Wide Web.

[Back then, the answer would be formally, as if writing a letter and responding back to each other on a weekly basis.]

I also knew a little bit about getting information from the web, although my experience had been with college librarians who were the only people with direct access to computers that connected to the WWW.

[Back then I’d give my query of keywords, perfectly parsed a la Boolean logic, to a librarian who then input my query into a computer.  Hours later I’d get a printout of where to go in the bricks-and-mortar library to read whatever it was I was researching.]

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But what I didn’t know about the WWW was how much I’d fall in love with it, and its ability to provide information and conversation instantly.

Now, of course, it seems completely normal. Pedestrian.

But I tell ‘ya when we first went online at home in 1997, I never dreamed that the World Wide Web would be the making of me.  And that the screechy sound of our dial-up internet connection was heralding my quirky future as a purposeful procrastinator with a blog.

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Questions of the Day

When did you first get connected to the WWW in your home?

How has your life changed because of it?

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