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January 30, 2009

Disaster Preparedness

Last night the neighbors gathered at my house to hear the fire department go over a disaster plan for neighborhood blocks. We talked about what to do in an emergency (like an earthquake) and filled in an aerial map with all the neighbor's names, phone numbers, number of children, pets, etc. Then we filled in what different people could do in an emergency. We decided that my porch would be a gathering place and my neighbor, AmySue, would provide beds and a quiet place for people who needed to get out of the chaos. We shared information about who were carpenters, electrical people, caretakers, food preparers. We have a huge number of doctors and nurses on our block -- four of them are radiologists -- what are the odds? Anyway, it was a very interesting meeting. At the end, the fireman opened a big box and gave us all a really cool gift -- a bag filled with a hard hat, heavy gloves, a flashlight and several other small items that we should keep under our beds. The fire department received a grant to put together the bags and hand them out to the neighborhoods that came together to prepare. Every person who attended got a bag.

This morning I was chewing on AmySue's chocolate chip cookies and thinking about the experience. Only about half the neighbors were here, but the group was so congenial. We laughed, gossiped a bit, and shared who had ladders and camp stoves and other such items that might be of use. Mostly, we were all so comfortable with each other. I realized that we were able to write down the names and phone numbers of all the neighbors on our street. We've had enough ice cream socials and wine gatherings as well as our annual Christmas party that we are a pretty congenial community. It is a group of people that I would trust in an emergency. I know they care for me as I care for them.

I have thought before of where I will go when I move out of this big house. At some point, I will probably not want to live in a house with so many stories and so much space. Many of my friends have gone to retirement communities, and I'm sure they have the same kind of community spirit that I find on Forest Street. But, I would miss the children and the intergenerational nature of my street.

A few weeks ago, AmySue gave herself a birthday party. She is Jeni's age. She left her kids with her mother and went out to a family place on the water at Sandy Point (just a few miles north of here). She invited several friends to just come out for the day, bring snacks & food (no gifts), sit around and visit. You were invited to also bring knitting or writing or whatever would make you happy. Dani and I met lots of her friends from all walks of life who came and went for the day. It was such a lovely respite sitting and talking to such fascinating women with no other agenda than to relax, eat, and visit. What a great birthday day! I may try it myself sometime.

Life offers so many opportunities for gratitude!

Posted by Marilyn at 6:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2009

For Pat

Have I mentioned that I have two terrific sisters-in-law? Well, I do! And one is actually more than a sister-in-law. She was more like a sister/mother-in-law/friend all put together although she is really too young for the mother bit. However, her baby brother, Donel, was born when she was 12 and they always had a close relationship. Her name is Pat and she faithfully reads this blog. Moreover, she consistently requests that I continue writing and not drop the blog when I cease remodeling. Since writing a blog is a very personal and solitary experience, the fact that it reaches into cyberspace never ceases to amaze me.

I just had an email from Debbie who commented on my last posting and our tea party. I really do forget that people actually read this. And, then someone mentions it at dinner or church or in an email and I am caught short. Ohmygosh! What did I say? Was it obnoxious? Was it filled with grammatical errors? Should I edit more? And, all of a sudden, I get self conscious. I may live in a post modern world, but I'm definitely a pre-computer creature. It still is a wonder to me - a wonder, wondrous and wonderful!

My sister-in-law just turned 84 (I think) and the last time I asked, she still works. She is definitely my mentor. She keeps the books for a couple of clients. Actually, she pays their bills. They don't want her to quit because they would have to find someone else who has that McClellan HONESTY trait. I want to work until I'm 84 because a) it would make me feel useful and b) I need to pay off the remodel.

This morning it snowed lightly and Dani & Nico came over to get some mail. Dani and I are sitting in my living room writing on our computers while Nico went to the library with his sitter, Monica. I'm having my writing group on Thursday so this blog is just warming me up for a morning of writing. I have to have something to show and tell and I have been struggling to even care about writing of late. I keep thinking instead of making macaroni and cheese or finishing reading my latest mystery or taking a bath or working on my puzzle. I am eminently distractible.

Well, that's it for now. Wish me luck!

Posted by Marilyn at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

January 24, 2009

The Punch List

Tom has finished off the last of the punch list (at least those things that were obvious) and so he is mostly done. He trimmed out the fireplace in the pool room, put up the rest of the railing, and did some finishing touches on the base moldings where the new rooms meet the old. Mike still has one or two electrical things to finish and he and Dave are getting the rest of the wires out for Comcast to attach to a box. So, this project is finally coming to an end. I finally decided on the tile for my kitchen, but now have to decide upon the trim before I can order it. The cushions for the breakfast room will follow.

Debbie came by to see the finished kitchen on Thursday and Tom was by also. Debbie and her husband, Harvey, have a condo in Vancouver which they rent out to friends. She furnished it with some cabinets from IKEA so I was interested in finding out about that -- I'm thinking about the cabinets in the pool room (third on my list). I will rent her condo sometime so that I can enjoy one of my favorite cities. It is right on English Bay which is one of my favorite places in one of my favorite cities. Debbie brought me some tea from Canada that I had introduced her to and Tom, Debbie, and I had tea and scones and just chatted. What fun to chat with them without an agenda -- no decisions, just good conversation about the economy, the inauguration, and stuff. They are both talented people who were a gift in my life at just the right time. They must feel proud as they sit gazing at the fruits of their labors and talents.

As the chaos fades into the ether, it is hard to imagine my kitchen like it was. How fast you become accustomed to drawers that work, unstained ceilings, and the absence of a convenient bathroom. How impatient you get that money is scarce when you want to refurnish new rooms and keep the improvement momentum going. How hard it is to relax and enjoy. How hard it is to get back to some kind of organized existence that includes exercise and diet. It is like your life gets all scrambled when you begin remodeling and then it reaches a fervent pitch which it sustains over a long time. Then, things wind down and it takes awhile to unscramble again.

Speaking of unscrambling, I think I'll get up and make breakfast. It is a really lazy Saturday. I worked yesterday -- went to Oak Harbor High School once again to see a counseling intern and this morning is foggy and cold so I stayed in bed with my book, then my Sudoku, and now my computer just fiddling away. I guess I should make some breakfast and get dressed. But, being lazy is sometimes really nice once in awhile. I have a lovely relaxing weekend ahead. What a treat!

Posted by Marilyn at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2009

Lazy Me!

I've really let this blog go over the past few weeks. I'm not really lazy, but somehow life has become very, very busy and I've had so little relaxed time to write or read or do any of those things that keep me sane. Tom has been taking care of his "punch list." I've not been around enough to see him, but he has definitely been here. He finished off the railing in the pool room and also the trim. He got ready to install a glass shelf in my basement bathroom, but he put it in the wrong place. I don't think it is hard to fix. He finished off some trim between the lower living room and the dining room. Mike has also fixed stuff here and there and Dave, the sound man, has been working on the fittings for the sound stuff. All these are small items than were left over.

The bigger items need decision making and have been harder. I just cannot decide upon tile for the kitchen. I've had such a difficulty -- and I really need to get in gear. I also have to tackle the rest of the breakfast room. Jerry Troutman is going to make a table, but I have to make the decisions. He is working on ideas. Decision making takes so much time. I don't know how my friend, Marilyn, works full time, travels all over the world with her job, and makes a myriad of decisions with her remodel. Whew! It is impressive. Maybe I'm just tired of making remodeling decisions and am ready to say, "That's enough!" Perhaps my indecision is a result of decision overload -- and I'm getting onery. Who knows? Who cares?

On another note, I'm thinking of using this blog for my writing prompts. If anyone is crazy enough to read it, they are welcome to my musings. First, I have to find time to write. I'm off to Oak Harbor today to observe a counseling intern. Taking care of Nico tonight while Dani transports James to Jazz band. Transporting a friend to chemo tomorrow and providing her food, going to dinner group tomorrow night, going to a friend's birthday celebration all day Saturday, etc. etc. etc. How did a retired person's life get so busy?

Posted by Marilyn at 6:52 AM | Comments (0)

January 5, 2009

Getting Rid of the Mess

Have I mentioned how easy my new kitchen is to clean? I have noticed that it takes less time to get things in order than it used to in my old kitchen. At first, I thought it was inconvenient for my little island to sit in front of the dishwasher because I had to push it out of the way to walk around. Now, I just stand and put away the glasses above my head. All the dishes for the cabinet go on the counter and everything for cupboards by the stove go on the island. I just stand in one place. Then, when the dishwasher is empty, I grab the stuff and walk around to put it away. It is an easy two-step process.

I'm undecided about stacking dirty dishes. I used to stack them on the left of the sink, but the right now works as well. Left to right seems so normal to me that it seems odd to stack them dirty above the dishwasher which is more logical. I haven't got that as organized as the clean stuff. We've had so much trash lately over the holidays that I'm trying to decide on using the trash compactor vs taking big stuff outdoors. Also, the jury is still out on the food disposal provided by Sanitary Service. I got one of those food/yard waste cans, but the thought of food just sitting and rotting in my garage is gruesome and very attractive to rats and mice. Dani got me some biodegradable bags for the food, but they don't deter the rats, only the smell. Perhaps I'll go back to composting and using my garbage disposal. I don't like the rats!

Marilyn and I went to Bellevue yesterday after church to pick up some closet stuff for her new remodel. We just blithely got into the car with our sandwiches and drink and sailed down I-5 with our church clothes on. Imagine our shock when we drove over the U District to drop off something for her son, Peter, and it began to snow. We decided to forget dinner and get on the road. It snowed intermittently all the way home until Bellingham making a slick road and low visibility. We passed two accidents due to the black ice somewhere around Lake Samish. I don't know what we were thinking -- but we were totally unprepared for snow. We had no warm coats or gloves or decent shoes. It was a tense drive and we were both very glad to be home. And, glad to have rain instead of snow so that we could get up our hills.

Everyone I know is just sick of snow. The last time I talked to anyone in my family, Charles was stuck in Seattle waiting to see if his plane was going to take off and my Craswell granddaughters were hoping for yet one more snow day! I'll find out the end of those stories this morning.

Remember to PREPARE and keep warm - that's my motto for today.

Posted by Marilyn at 7:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2009

Make Way for the New

Last night I automatically opened the door and reached my left hand under my sink to turn on my garbage disposal only to find that it was not there. I've mentioned this before -- the body remembers something that the brain has not registered. No, my switch is now to the left of the sink on the wall like a normal kitchen. How many times a day do I do that in my new kitchen and what does it say for breaking old habits. This came to mind as I was thinking of New Year's resolutions. How hard it is to stop doing what is engrained and to begin something new.

When I began being overwhelmed by the remodeling of my house, I overate. Oh, I don't sit and gobble down things that are horrible for me -- although I must admit to some vices like decaf mochas and an occasional ice cream. But, just not paying attention to my weight watchers' rules (especially portion control) and, of course, I gained 20 pounds this past year. I stopped going to the gym and was about to cancel the other day when I realized that I missed the gym. It is an expense, but it gives me pleasure when I go and it gives me pleasure that I go. And, someone my age can use a bit of physical help to keep the old body smoothly sailing along with fewer aches and pains.

When I get involved with something, I throw my whole self into it. The remodel took a great deal of energy and time. I feel like I had a pretty good routine going before the extra chaos threw it to the wind. So, my New Year's resolution is to climb back into that routine and keep my health in mind. Back to Weight Watchers and back to the gym. I just have to turn my car in the right direction and build the time into my calendar. I have to locate the right switch and not just automatically reach for what is comfortable. I have to put some thought into my days before I just fritter them away.

That said, Dani and Charles' friends, Tamara and Jeff came for New Year's Eve with Tamara's mom and dad -- and they even brought the dinner! We ate, played games, and celebrated. They had their son and his friend and I had Nicole. Nico was here, but James was in Kirkland with his Wheeler cousins. It was a low keyed evening with word games and Apples to Apples. I showed Tamara's parents my remodel since it was her dad who originally told me to get an engineer. They have not been here since that momentous event. He was right and seemed pleased with what I had done.

What a year! What a New Year to come! What a life so full of possibilities and new resolutions. And, I hear we're getting more snow tonight -- just after it finally melted. Life is a bit like a carnival ride - you'd better hold on and try to steer the best you can. Happy New Year!

Posted by Marilyn at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)