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December 27, 2008

No Worse For the Wear

My new kitchen is certainly no worse for the wear it is getting this holiday. Fortunately, the number of cooks in the family seem to equal the number of people who are willing to tidy up the place. Jeni & Ron made eggs benedict for Christmas breakfast while the family was still in a mellow mood although Nico was sick and pretty logy with a fever. I made Christmas dinner after a harrowing and scary event with little Nico having a seizure after his fever spiked. We called the EMTS who thought that it was fever induced. D&C took him to the emergency just to be checked out and the doc thought the same and attacked his fever with higher doses of meds. They made it home in time for Christmas dinner for 15 although most of us probably were still a bit shaky.

Today's dinner chefs were Martin & Christine who treated us their special Thanksgiving tradition of turkey sandwiches and games. Little Nico was more normal today, although still a bit "off" -- but then, weren't we all after a big Christmas??? There are dozens of empty bottles and aluminum cans in the trash and I can't begin to measure the amounts of sugar that have been ingested. And, the overflow has to sit in my garage for a week due to the inability of Sanitary Service to make it up the hill for their normal pickup. My new little trash compactor has worked its little heart out!

I have been getting tile ideas from all the guests and it would help if they agreed, but they don't. All the new rooms (as well as the old) are filled with sleeping guests and the place is rocking. We had a rousing??????? game of the Ungame which someone gave someone else in the family because they remembered it from when they were little. Martin suggested that it was impossible for our family to play by the rules which say that you cannot comment on or contradict someone's answer. Ha!

All in all, it is a lovely holiday potpourri of fun and activities and the new kitchen has come through with flying colors. It will be nice to someday have a finished breakfast nook which is now being used as an overflow pantry. And, it will be nice to have some furniture in the pool room instead of one blow-up mattress. New Year's resolutions indeed!

Just another lovely McClellan Christmas!

Posted by Marilyn at 9:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2008

Velvet Shoes

Remembering the song I used to teach made me hungry for finding all the lyrics. I had forgotten that it was music set to an Eleanor Wylie poem. I've always loved it so much that I set out to find it on Google. Here is the entire text which in my mind is accompanied by a melody that is lovely and haunting.

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow's milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

Elinor Wylie

Posted by Marilyn at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

And, let it continue to snow!

I know that this is my remodeling blog, but I can't help but use it to comment on the weather. This is really something! Christmas is in just a few days, but I don't know if the Seattle contingent will even make it to Bellingham. It has snowed continuously this past week and it doesn't promise any letup for a few more days. The trains are down, Jeni & Ron are without heat with a broken furnace and horses to take care of with frozen pipes in their barn, Eulalah and Keith sat at SeaTac for three hours on the plane before they were told that their trip to Maryland for Christmas was off. I braved the hill last night to go to Fairhaven for dinner with Marilyn G. but my car is again completely covered with snow which fell after I got home.

I didn't make it to church yesterday, but Dani & Charles did because it is a straight and flat shot from their house. My neighbors, AmySue & Eric, went to their church and found it closed. So, they went to mine. Dani said that she heard a child and turned around to see if Nico had escaped the nursery care and there was baby Bo! Both families came back to my house for brunch and James enjoyed some sledding on our driveways and yards. They left around three and I did some wrapping.

When you live a busy life, it is really hard to force yourself to slow down. Somehow, one or two snow days are a joy and a gift -- but then it goes on and on and you tend to get stir crazy. I've gone through every program I ever saved on my TIVO and I'm really tired of HGTV. I'm going out today to shop for my dinner group who will brave the snowy hill tonight. I guess I'll finish wrapping, try to get to town for my haircut if the salon is still open.

On a positive note, the world outside is truly beautiful. Just like the white Christmas I yearned for as a California child. It is like a fairyland and nighttime is especially pretty with the white, white snow, twinkly Christmas lights and the sky with a hint of pink. One aspect of snow is that it is so very silent. Storms are so loud as a rule -- but you awaken in the morning having heard absolutely nothing to a winter wonderland. It sneaks up on you with an element of surprise. It recalls a song I used to teach my choirs to sing, "Let us walk in the white snow, in a soundless space...at a tranquil pace...on velvet shoes."

Joy to the World! And, Merry Christmas!

Posted by Marilyn at 8:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2008

A Winter Storm

I'm listening to NPR that is reporting another winter storm on its way with more snow through Christmas day. Since I still have a few presents to buy, it looks like I'd better get out and do it before tonight. It is icy out with leftover snow sometimes a foot deep. However, the driving conditions aren't bad if you stick to well traveled roads. I don't remember a time when it has been so cold for so long. But my house is cozy warm and (so far) my pipes haven't frozen.

Sometimes I go sit in my breakfast room even without the cushions and the table. It is so bright and cheery. I had Mike put in a little wall heater, but the room stays very warm. With the snowy landscape outside of every window, the world is brought right into the room. I take the phone in when I have a call. I can hardly wait until I can get some cushions and until Jerry is free to make a table. It's just a little space and so the table will have to be fashioned especially for the room. Jerry is a marvelous woodworker who is a retired airline pilot. I'm standing in a queue for his services. He is also my friend, Barbara's, brother.

Two items that I've recently been looking for in my new kitchen are my candy thermometer and my coffee measurer. Both are either placed in a hidden nook or cranny or they have completely disappeared. These funny little things keep happening to me. I thought I remembered them in the opening of boxes, but I haven't a clue where they have gone. I still can't get the food and spice box out of my mind -- I hate not solving mysteries. Other than these little annoyances, my kitchen is running smoothly and my new oven made a killer batch of cookies the other day.

Guess what the subject of my Christmas letter was this year? You got it! The remodel. Now I'm getting this subject totally out of my system to make way for the new year. Mike and Tom will be back with some punch list things to accomplish next year, but only a few little things. My neighbors came for an open house and gave their stamp of approval. I like spending these snowy days in my new kitchen.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2008

A Snowy Day

Even if I'm retired and have the ability to stay home whenever I want, I still love snow days! I'm about to leave my comfortable bed (yes, I'm writing on my computer in bed) and go down to make myself a cup of hot tea and a piece of toast. It is white outside and beautiful although I know that under that fresh snow is a mess of icy leftover snow from the past few days. I have all but three small Christmas presents purchased and I am still thinking about writing a Christmas note to people but haven't yet done so. The house is decorated and toasty warm and I'm wondering if we will have a white Christmas.

I'm in the middle of choosing tile for the kitchen. I've been bringing home a variety of samples and have settled on my original favorite -- a ceramic "subway" tile that is rectangular. It will fit the age of the house. The trouble is finding just the right color. I think it will be green, but I've had a dickens of a time finding just the right green. And then I have to decide if there will be any ornamentation. And then I have to decide if I should do the whole wall on the sink side of the kitchen or just a small backsplash. And then I have to decide if I will use just one color or add a second or even a third color. I am getting bogged down.

When I get bogged down, I shut down. I was working on choosing a fabric for my breakfast room seating and had difficulty finding just the right one. After finding how much it was going to cost, I simply gave up and put it aside. Since I don't yet have a table, the room is in limbo. I'm continuing to look for a table and have talked to a friend about making it but he is busy until January. So, I haven't worried too much about fabric yet. However, I tend to put things aside until I finally get up one day and say to myself, "Get yourself going and finish this off!"

I wonder if these things are hard for other people as well? Maybe it is because I'm tired of making decisions. Maybe I'm trying to avoid spending even one more dollar on the remodel. Maybe there are too many possibilities to choose from. Maybe I'm afraid of making a mistake. Maybe I have difficulty making a decision before I can see what it will really look like. Maybe I'm reluctant to finally end the remodel. Who knows? Some of my friends seem to get these kind of things done in record time. It is impressive, but doesn't help me to move forward.

I know I've talked about this phenomena before. Do you suppose it is showing my age? Considering the amount of decisions I've made this year, I really doubt it. I do think it is just the fallout of the long, long year of remodeling and the resistance I've always had for the "decorative touch." Anyone who lives in the world knows that millions of dollars are spent on marketing decorating techniques. I read the magazines and know that I want people to think my remodel is "tasteful." God forbid that I don't have a working triangle in my kitchen or that I have mismatched or obnoxious colors on my walls. I'm fretting because my new rooms don't have new furniture. What pressure we mortals put on ourselves. What burdens we carry on our shoulders! What can be fun becomes a chore.

Oh well, I think I'll go make that cup of tea! Have a nice day,

Posted by Marilyn at 7:26 AM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2008

Brrr, It's cold!

Mike the electrician was here today to finish up the outside spots and get ready for the final inspection on Thursday. That will complete all the inspections which will be very nice. I have a big eye-ball light in my lower living room and Mike was complaining about the cool air that was coming through the fixture into the room because of the cold winds outside. I was feeling sorry for him up on a ladder and trying to screw in the outside lights with the temperatures in the 20s today. Mike is hard to pin down because he is so busy - especially for someone who does not advertise or have his name in the Yellow pages. He promises to be here on Thursday to meet with the inspector and finish up the cable and telephone lines.

I've been busy decorating the house for Christmas. It was particularly annoying to put things away that recently got put back after the remodel. I found that many past decorating areas do not exist anymore such as my lower living room bookcase. I decided not to worry about much decorating in the new rooms which are not furnished anyway and totally ignored my study which is still piled with stored items. That said, the tree got decorated and some cresches and candles arranged, so I feel very festive.

The past few weeks have shown me what a creature of habit I am. Some of my Christmas stuff has been in exactly the same boxes for up to a half century. I locate items by their box shape and color. This habit follows through in other areas of my life and I realize how lost I sometimes feel with the remodel. I keep physically going to a particular area to get something or other only to find either the area has disappeared or that it is completely changed and the object is not in its familiar place. On Thanksgiving, I went into the kitchen to get a match before I realized that I hadn't a clue where a match could be. The old location was gone, gone, gone. I was momentarily disoriented. Where on earth was my matchbook holder?

I go to the right of my sink where my utensils used to be or try to put something on top of my refrigerator or at the top of the basement stairs only to find those storage areas gone. Somehow my body remembers before my mind registers the change. When I couldn't find a match, I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten completely about matches in my new kitchen. I wonder how many other things I'm going to need that I've forgotten to plan for or how many times I'll go in the wrong direction for something before a new memory forms.

I didn't mean this to be such a ramble. I haven't written in some time, because I have been busy trying to get organized for Christmas decorating. It is icy cold in Bellingham with some snow on the ground and more to come tomorrow. It's nice to have a cozy house, a decorated tree, and a new flat screen, high definition TV to watch this evening.

Posted by Marilyn at 6:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2008

Little Things Mean Alot

Well, we survived Thanksgiving very well in my new kitchen. Many cooks in and out and it handled them all. The only drawback is that my oven wants to cook on convection even if you turn on regular bake -- so our turkey got done too fast. I'm trying to deal with that problem now. I've mentioned before that I asked all my friends and relatives with new kitchens what they really liked and made a list before I remodeled. Some of those things made their way to my new kitchen, some I could not incorporate for a variety of reasons, and others just did not suit my lifestyle. But, I thought today that I show you some of the little kitchen items that make me happy. So here they are:

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It is messy right now, but this is my breakfast cupboard -- my tea and toast -- teapots and little cute items for teabags and dipping sauces, etc. I never knew where to put those things before.

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I just love my pantry -- it is so quirky and such a creative use of space. It is my original brainchild made much more interesting by Tom's incorporating the laundry chute and putting the door at the top of the stairs.

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Just a little space left over in the pantry for a sweet shelf -- I keep changing what I have on the shelf -- looking for the perfect display.

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My wine rack is clever (I think) and no one else has one like it (although two people have asked me how to get one -- so I guess I won't be unique for long).

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I love my door that Dominic Garguile gave me -- that and the idea of the blackboard from lots of kitchen books. Silly -- but for an old teacher, it just suits me fine!

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For twenty-five years I had NO OUTLETS on this side of the kitchen. Now I have SIX!!! Overkill? No, just code.

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Bookshelves, all my cookbooks, and my huge baskets -- what more could make me happy?

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Remember when I told the previous designer that I wanted art? Well, I now have my first piece of art up in the breakfast room -- I still haven't decided on the rest.

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But, I also have a little plate which says it all!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)