Monday, January 29

They Don't Know Me Very Well, Do They?

That title sounds a bit like I'm going to divulge deep dark secrets, doesn't it? Ha. Fooled you. No, I was just feeling introspective. It has occured to me that I have many terrific people in my life. I really do. Smart people. Funny people. Incredibly good and caring people. And I have no idea why they put up with me.

Here's the thing, I'm not a nice person. I'm cranky a good bit of the time. I'm often impatient. I'm a know-it-all. I can be very sarcastic and cynical. I'm also a bit of a hermit and have been known to shun the company of others in favor of a good book.

But these people insist on staying in my life anyway. They talk to me without being cornered. They spend, sometimes, multiple hours in my company by choice. And when I start in ranting about something, they smile patiently as if they understand all about my dark side and love me anyway. Is it that they really don't know these things about me? Or do they find me absurdly fascinating and can't look away, like watching a train wreck about to happen. But no, these are good people. They wouldn't do anything so gauche.

Maybe they aren't as intelligent and insightful as I give them credit for, since they can't seem to see what's right under their noses. Or maybe, as Julie Andrews sang in "The Sound of Music," somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good.

I don't have an explanation. But I am absurdly, ridiculously thankful for every one of you.

Saturday, January 27

Keeping My Hands Busy

Over at the Grill there was a recent post asking what kinds of crafts the CBs are interested in. I've done lots of needlework over the years, trying my hand at embroidery, candlewicking, crewel, cross stitch (and I might go back to it one of these days) and knitting. But the one that I always come back to is crochet. Mostly afghans and baby stuff when someone I know is getting married or having a baby. But I've done a few for the house as well. Here's a sampling:

This is the first one I ever did. It was easy enough but all those zig zagging stripes made me dizzy. Plus each stripe was only one row and I couldn't carry the yarn over so I had a zillion ends to weave in when I was done. Never again, I have vowed.

This one I really like. This picture is close up so that you can really see the pattern. Its called Garden Trellis and I think its very aptly named. It does look a bit like ivy on a trellis, don't you think? And I was surprised at how easily it worked up. I liked this one so much that I did it again in red and gray. Didn't look at all like a trellis with the different colors but it turned out great. I don't have a picture of it though.

Here are two pictures of the last afghan I did, with one being close up to show the colors and pattern better. I don't think the colors show true in the picture though. The three used are a deep wine, forest green, and a wine, green and blue variegated. It was done in strips, alternating colors.

Then the strips were sewn together to give a plaid effect. I really like the finished product but I hated sewing them together. Probably why it took me forever to finish.

This is the one I'm working on now. In the pattern they used shades of brown and cream, but I wanted something more colorful, while still being subtle. I'm making it for a friend's wedding and I know the furniture they've decided on (chosen from their respective living rooms) is blue and tan. So I went with a denim blue for the main color, thinking it will work with anything, alternating with royal purple and winter white. I've got a long way to go on this one yet.

Tuesday, January 16

We Control Our Own Destinies

Okay, relax. I'm not going all new-age on you, no chanting or mantras will be required, okay?

I was thinking about all the crap that happens which is really beyond our control (like the disposal breaking down during the big Christmas Eve dinner party, requiring you to wash your dishes in the bath tub - and this happened to my sister) and how some people will laugh, or curse, and then move on while others wail against cruel, cruel fates. I suppose some people are wired to experience things more dramatically, but that excuse only works up to a point. Because eventually you have to move past it. I mean crap happens to everyone regardless of race, creed or religion. Human nature might have you venting or whining a bit, but sooner or later you have to realize that you aren't accomplishing anything and people have stopped listening. Move on.

But that's for crap beyond our control. What I really want to write about today is destiny. Because I believe that destiny doesn't "just happen." Was it Shakespeare who said that our fates lie in ourselves? He had a point.

I figure that life is like a long road trip. There's childhood when you are mostly a passenger, but then you move up front and get behind the wheel. And once you are behind that wheel, you can go anywhere. The road is yours and no destination is too far. You are in control. The thing is, you have to know how to deal with the sharp curves, what the road signs mean, how to handle a flat tire, and how to read a map. Being stupid behind the wheel is just, well, stupid. And if you take a left turn when you should have taken a right turn, or take a curve to fast, well its not the cruel fates that got you lost or had you skidding off the road. You're the one in control. You're the one making the decisions. Yeah, even the bad ones. Like when you took that shortcut and got so lost.

But if life has dumped some crap on you, and we ALL get shat upon sooner or later, its not the end of the ride. Its just a detour. Sure its a little scary, but you have your trusty map, a full tank of gas, and air in the tires. See being in control isn't just about getting someplace. Its about getting there in one piece. And sometimes you make amazing discoveries when you get off the expressway. You might even end up someplace better than you had planned. That's okay, you aren't lost. You're just in a different place.

We're behind the steering wheel, in control of our own destinies. But maybe we should keep an open mind about where we're going. Stop and smell the flowers, sing along with car radio, check out that quaint little shop along side the road. What's the hurry anyway. Life is about the journey. Destiny is really just the end.

Wednesday, January 3

Happy Harriett Homeowner

Ten years ago last spring I became a homeowner. I'll never forget the mixed feeling of pride and nausea. Hey, a house, even a tiny little townhouse, is a BIG debt and I don't handle debt well. But it's actually gone very well. As I was preparing to make the decision, my parents were going through some stuff and we decided to pool our resources by having them move in with me. They help out with utilities and groceries and other odds and ends, and in return this has allowed me more flexible income than I would otherwise have. So its all good.

For the first few years I was too paranoid about spending more money to do much, but little by little it became necessary. First the heat pump went. As it was over 20 years old at the time, well past what how long I was told it would last, there was no shame in this. And being paranoid I had the money in the bank to cover it. And you know, it turned out to be a very good thing, because the new one is so much more efficient.

Shortly thereafter we had this freak spring hailstorm that left hail several inches deep on the front lawn - that's no exaggeration. We had to shovel it from the sidewalks and even though it was spring weather, there was enough that it lingered in the shadier corners of the yard for more than 24 hours. Weird. And as it happens, destructive as well. We started noticing this 'stuff' all over the back deck after a rain. Turns out it was grit from the roof shingles. So we called the insurance who sent an adjuster to look at it. The guy said it looked like someone had taken a hammer to the roof! The insurance paid up and we got nice new shingling on the roof at no cost to me ... yippee!!

The way the house is designed you can see some of the shingling from one angle and the shiney new roof made the paint on the house look pretty shabby. Well I had never like the colors the original owners had used anyway. A sort of mustard brown trim on yellow. So I made calls and got estimates (one of which was completely outrageous and I was shocked that they bothered to call and ask why they didn't get the job) and settled on a contractor to do the job with nice new colors. The palest possible gray with a dark burgundy almost but not quite brown, trim. It looks good while still contrasting with the neighbors.

Then the fridge went and had to be replaced (and you wouldn't believe how long it took us to figure out why the milk kept going sour - duh), followed by the hot water heater. At least I think that was the next thing. And then the oven failed. And then the dryer started smoking. Well this was all over a couple of years, not all at once. But the point is by the time 2006 rolled around I had replaced nearly every appliance. That was also the year I paid off my car. So I figured this was the time to take the plunge and do some elective maintentance stuff, i.e. getting new floors. But so far just the first floor. Baby steps.

I think the original owners had put in el cheapo carpeting to get the house sold. In truth it didn't look bad when we moved in. But over time the carpet stretched and wrinkled and, well, it just didn't wear well. Even steam cleaning it only did so much. Plus there was this really yucky linoleum running from the foyer back to the kitchen. I had always hated it. So the prospect of getting this all replaced was very exciting!

I knew I wanted the new laminate stuff because several people I knew had it and they all raved about. Plus I thought getting rid of carpeting would make the rooms seem bigger and cut down on the amount of dust. I hemmed and hawed for awhile trying to decide, but below is what I ended up with. They just finished the weekend before Christmas. Well they didn't have enough quarter molding to finish the job so they will be coming back. But it still looks great, don't you think?

This first photo is of the kitchen. Looks like stone, doesn't it? I'm really pleased with it. Getting the cupboards and counter replaced is another project for the future. Right now I'm just enjoying the floor.
This one is from the kitchen going into the hall and foyer. I love the tones in this floor. It wasn't my first choice, actually. I'd changed my mind almost at the last minute and I'm sooo glad I did.
The hall and kitchen are on the left side of the house as you enter the front door. This photo is of the living and dining rooms, to the right side of the front door. They are not as big as this picture makes them look, though. Its partly the absence of carpeting (I was right about that) and partly the angle of the camera. Oh, I had also replaced the curtain over the slide doors at the far end of this photo. That was about 2 years ago. What you see is a combination of sheers and verticle blinds. Its hard to explain, but was exactly what we needed there. That end of the house gets full sun in the morning. I like natural light and hated having to keep the curtain closed, but the morning sun was blinding otherwise. What I ended up with allows us to direct the light coming in rather than closing it out; at the same time it has the look of drapes rather than blinds.