Tag Archives: home

Painterly thoughts

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Standard home project outfit, n’est pas?

It’s been just about exactly twenty-one years since I last painted the upstairs bathroom. I’m not always so clear with years and dates, but this one is easy to remember because I was pregnant with my second son. My water broke as I raced to get the newly renovated third floor of our house prepared for our expanding family. I was on the bathroom floor scrubbing grout when my labor began – and my interest in hands on household projects ended.

Other than swapping out the vanity about a dozen years ago, I’ve basically done nothing to that bathroom in this century. It’s been the boys’ bathroom for a long time and, by the way, boys can be gross. There wasn’t a lot of incentive for me to invest in prettying it up when the guys (and the Enzo cat) weren’t the most tidy of shower mates. But, when the shower leaked, again, I finally committed to investing some money and improving this room.

The faulty shower was the natural starting point, because that was where the major problem was. The shitty shower we had initially installed, because it was cheap, needed to go.

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I found a great contractor who showed up when he said he would and was incredibly easy to work with, and got started with a firm budget in mind. Along the way the job has evolved to include a few more things, like extended tiling, more expensive tile than originally budgeted, a new toilet…, but we’ve mostly maintained the budget and I’m happy with the value of my investment.

As you know, if you’ve taken on a project like this before, once you do one thing, everything else looks crappy. I think I want to pick out new light fixtures to freshen things up even more. Seems like new towels might be a nice touch, too. Maybe even a plant.

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I took on the task of painting the bathroom myself and finally was motivated Saturday. I gathered together everything I needed, and picked up a few necessary items at my local hardware store, Bridgeford on Delaware Avenue.  Turning on a 60s Apple Music playlist, I began prepping.

First, the walls needed to be wiped. Next, the floor was vacuumed with a shop vac. Then the taping began. Using newspapers and blue painter’s* tape, I started taping off the tile and trim work. Then I mopped. There was a time when (like prior to my experience yesterday) I despised this prep work involved with painting. It just always felt so damn tedious and took too much time.

Something was different, though, yesterday. Instead of dashing through the prep process, I decided to slow down. I’m older. I now know that cleaning up one’s mess is a far more tiresome task than honoring the process of getting ready for creating change.

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Not helpful

After sending out a social media post asking for help in opening my can of paint,** I got busy rolling and brushing the walls. As I covered the soft lilac on the walls with bright white, my thoughts were free to roam. I considered the countless ways my life is different than the one I was living last time I painted those walls.

The baby filling my belly then is turning 21 at the end of this month. Time certainly does move on.

I coated the walls and let my thoughts travel from the past to the future and, finally, to today. There have been so many experiences and adventures and moments in my life and many of them have occurred within the “confines” of my years spent in this house. Painting it shouldn’t be isn’t a chore, it’s really more of a gift to this place which has sheltered me and those I love.

This morning, before breakfast and coffee, I put on my painting clothes and did a second coat. I think I may even need to do a third, a realization which no longer discourages me because I’m kind of enjoying the combination of physical work, but mental indulgence, that painting involves. Covering a no longer favored color, while recalling special memories, makes for a solid win-win.

This bathroom redo has been a very good investment.

I can’t wait to get to the bedrooms.

 

*I’m really unsure about this usage…painters’?

**A flathead screwdriver was the most recommended tool.

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, family, house, love, musings, Observations, Spring

Rise up

073AB6A4-FF90-4924-9E8F-44486E903D1BI took this photo on Good Friday, 2019. It was early morning, a short time after I had landed in Dublin, and I recall feeling so fortunate to be exactly where I was at that very moment. It had been quite a few years since I been to Ireland and this long awaited trip nearly got waylaid by the whole Boeing Jet thing when my original flight was cancelled. A few more $$, and a drive to Hartford rather than Newburgh, got me out of the country and precisely where I wanted to be. It was a really special trip.

Heading into this fifth week of social distancing has got me feeling more than a little lost. My motivation to take on household projects is waning and I’m hungry for the buzz I get from traveling. I love my home and I enjoy being in it, but being in a city or taking in a new view feeds my soul.  I miss it.

The plan for Summer 2020 was is for a four week trip, 2 weeks with my youngest son in Spain followed by 2 weeks in Greece with friends. Our flights and accommodations are booked, with a significant amount of money invested in this greatly anticipated adventure. We’re scheduled to visit Seville, Madrid and Valencia, all new places for both of us. I had hoped to meet up with a childhood friend who had also planned to be with his family in Madrid, as well as an online friend who resides in Seville with his significant other. We have reservations to take a kayaking tour and were imagining early morning walks and late night tapas. I so want to go.

After our two weeks in Spain, Q will fly home and I’m to continue to Athens. I found the cutest Airbandb and managed to book it for three non consecutive nights as I come and go between the city, Paros Island and Nafplio, an ancient coastal city on the mainland. My accommodations in Parikia on Paros are rented from the same woman I rented from last year, giving me a sense of familiar despite the tremendous distance between Greece and New York. I’m excited to complete the entire Byzantine Road walk and explore AntiParos and even more beaches than we enjoyed in July 2019. I can almost taste the crisp white wine, delicate pastry and feta that combined to be my Greek diet just last summer. 

I haven’t yet given up on this trip happening. I understand that travel may not be an option, even a few months from now, but I’m not cancelling this vacation until I’m absolutely convinced that it won’t be possible. My wish to travel is a luxurious dream and I get that. I know there are far too many people who currently have much more basic needs which they hope to meet during these challenging months and I feel incredibly fortunate to be healthy and continuing to work and earn my salary. I am very, very lucky.

On this day which celebrates resurrection and miracles, I’m just going to believe that anything is possible. I hope you do too.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Europe, favorites, Greece, holidays, musings, Spain, Summer, travel, vacation

Checked at check in

A3CC19D7-EE79-49DC-B932-2AECF165E25AYesterday I had my (hopefully) last appointment with Dr. Aronowitz, the orthopedic surgeon who operated on my knee last month. It was the third time I visited his office in Schenectady and the experience was quite a bit different from my previous appointments.

The first thing that was unlike prior appointments was flexibility in my appointment time. Originally I scheduled this final visit for a time beyond my school day. Thinking that perhaps the office might not be as tightly booked as usual, I called and was able to move things up a bit. I’m not really comfortable not being home these days and hoped that I would be able to get in and out quickly.

I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes prior to when I was expected. Trying to minimize my time in a large waiting room, I remained in my car until just before the appointed time. Using my sleeve over my hand, I opened the door and entered the building where I was greeted by a masked medical worker. She placed gloves from a nearby box on her hands as she explained it was necessary to take my temperature before I could check in. Ok.

I was asked if I was feeling well, had I traveled recently, if I had been in NYC. She noted my responses and inserted a thermometer device in my right ear and immediately looked disturbed by the reading – 102. Looking at me and recognizing that I didn’t present as someone with a temperature that high, she double checked the findings by repeating the process in my left ear this time – 100. Hmmm. She asked if she could try an oral thermometer.

During the few seconds it took to once again attempt to correctly ascertain my temperature, my first thought was “Oh my God, how many people might I have exposed to any virus I might have?”  I tried to figure out where I might have caught the virus – the grocery store? Perhaps during one of my long walks with Jeter? How come I didn’t feel sick?

This time, though, the result was normal at 99 degrees. It seems I was, in fact, fine.

I couldn’t wait to get back home.

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Filed under Local, medical, musings, sick, stress, upstate New York

C-ing past Corona

0DB47822-785B-4765-87CE-FB02C5144FA6I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more than a little overwhelmed by the constant barrage of CoronaVirus related news. I’m feeling anxious and isolated and sort of cast adrift as I struggle to figure out how to do my job from home.

While I’ve been escaping with live streamed yoga classes, professional Zoom meetings and binge watching Sex and the City, it isn’t enough. For the rest of my waking hours, irregular as they may be, there are two C words beyond Corona that are occupying my time – cooking and cleaning.

Since grocery shopping is such an ordeal these days and we’re encouraged to remain at home, I’ve been trying to cook out of my pantry and my crisper drawer. Last night’s meal nicely capitalized on what I happened to have on hand – broccoli rabe, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and an open container of veggie stock.

Now, if you look at this NYT recipe you might notice that it doesn’t actually call for broccoli rabe, listing kale instead, but this is very much a recipe that one can modify according to whim or ingredients available. My take on it, after reading some of the comments on the NYT website, doubled the chickpeas and used the liquid from the canned tomatoes and veggie stock instead of water. I also tossed in a Parm rind for some added flavor and increased the crushed red pepper by a generous extra pinch.

DB984C4F-F9E3-4D70-BEEA-684206D4BAEDServed with grated cheese, it was a cheap and healthy dinner with the bonus of being delicious.

Cooking the Pasta e Ceci  was easy and satisfying – just like some of the recent home projects I’ve taken on. Since I frequently find myself wandering from room to room in my house, I’ve done a fair amount of organizing and weeding of items that I’m prepared to eliminate from my home. There’s been quite a bit of dusting also and I actually removed the three milk glass sconces from my bathroom light fixture and gave them a good washing. I learned that they are in fact not milk glass. They were just really dusty.

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On the menu for the upcoming week – Asparagus Pork Stir fry, cleaning the ceiling fans, and moderating my news consumption. How about you?

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Filed under Albany, Cooking, DelSo, Dinner, Food, ideas, News, Observations, Recipes, Recommendations, Spring, stress, upstate New York

Memories of the 2020 Pandemic

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Even when the skies are grey and intermittently spitting some combination of rain and snow, one must believe that the sun will come out again and shine. It just has to.

One day we’ll reflect back on these times and what we learned from the
unimagined challenges of today. I wonder how we’ll be different.

I look forward to one day remembering when…

…Andrew Cuomo became my generation’s Kennedy and the country’s hottest bachelor.

…We learned that our country was home to people who binge purchase paper products without a care about denying others the opportunity to purchase the same traditional essentials?

…Grocery store excursions became explorations as you were forced to substitute random items for those on your shopping list due to lack of availability.

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…You realized that hanging out around a bonfire while in your 50s (or even 60s!) was even more fun than when you were in your teens

…The term Katie Girl was added to my vocabulary.

…Questioning “need over want” became a good way to fill the hours.

…Trying to find the balance between being industrious and curling into a ball was more mentally exhausting than any actual job.

…Honesty again became the ultimate commodity.

 

 

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Filed under DelSo, friends, musings, Observations, politics, relationships, upstate New York

Sleepless in Albany

I don’t know what to blame it on – the full moon, the clock change manipulation of time, politics, Coronavirus, upcoming travel plans, parenting angst, the uncertainty of the future, not being able to run…but getting quality sleep has become an issue for me and I’m not happy about it.

It isn’t as if I haven’t gone through spells like this before, but right now I’m really feeling distressed. After a long day of being bombarded by the idiocy of our President, the relentless media coverage of what may turn out to be a pandemic and my own internal struggle to remain in the moment without projection of any kind, all I want is six solid hours of shut eye. Is that too much to ask, universe?

Last night’s “rest” was exceptional, as in exceptionally bad. I thought I did everything right, an afternoon pedicure for relaxation, a light dinner followed by an evening walk with Jeter, and a hot (but, not too hot) bath before climbing into bed by 9:30. All systems go, right?

At 10:41, I woke up for the first time. I resisted unlocking my phone and instead started mentally packing for an upcoming trip, planning outfits and shoe selections. When that failed to lull me back to sleep, I started thinking instead about the weather here and what items I might want to order in my next Rent the Runway shipment. I dozed off.

I next awoke at about 1:30. This time, though, I was unsuccessful in coaxing myself back to sleep without reaching for my iPad and completing today’s NYT crossword puzzle. Seventeen short minutes later, my eyes were still wide open. I rolled over and grabbed one of Jeter’s paws to hold as a sort of adult stuffed animal comfort object. Yes, I really do that sometimes. My eyes shut and I returned to sleep for about 40 minutes.

At 3:02 my eyes sprang open again and I attempted to soothe myself with a yoga inspired alternate nostril breathing exercise. Unfortunately, there was no zen to be had. Instead, there was an odd and distant noise that prevented me from resuming sleep. I turned the light on and read my book for about 20 minutes, which is always a last resort for me.

This last time, I went down hard and the remaining hours prior to my alarm waking me up, were filled with crazy dreams. I don’t recall all the details, but I remember living somewhere new in an apartment that initially seemed very small. As the dream continued, the space revealed more rooms than I had initially seen. There were doorways which I walked through only to find additional bedrooms with beds larger than the one I had originally believed to be mine. The family who owned the property invited me to explore and make myself at home wherever I felt comfortable. 

When the alarm woke me at 6:00, I was groggy and disoriented. I hit snooze and ended the Beatles’ wake up song, Good Day, Sunshine, I rely upon to start my day off right, closed my eyes and hoped the dream would restart.

It didn’t.

It’s going to be a long day.

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Filed under aging, musings, politics, stress

Life is messy

From the minute we’re born, we seem to be placing ourselves in, and extracting and ourselves from, one mess after another. It just seems unavoidable. Despite best intentions to keep things tidy and unsullied, maintaining an existence which is uncomplicated and neat feels impossible. At least to me.

Sometimes, especially when my three sons were younger, the mess is a physical one. Toys strewn from room to room, crumbs and mysterious sticky remnants of unauthorized bedroom snack consumption, and Lego blocks turning up unexpectedly underfoot like Christmas pine tree needles in July. Those days have mostly passed for me. My home is definitely neater, aside from multiple pairs of sneakers in alarmingly large sizes randomly abandoned in the precise spot where they were casually kicked off.

Literal messes happen to all of us – that box of blueberries that popped open and released uncountable orbs of blue all over the kitchen floor, tumbleweeds of dog hair, the leaky trash bag drizzling garbage juice all the way down the stairs as a final gross goodbye. For these situations we arm ourselves with sponges and brooms and cleaners. Getting things back in order is a chore to be managed, an accomplishment to forget about once it’s completed. No big deal.

Returning a physical mess to its previous state (or even one that’s improved) can be annoying, but generally it’s pretty easy. You wipe, sweep, mop and you’re done.

Life’s less tangible messes are a whole different story, though. Relationships and emotions are not nearly as easy to manage and they’re nowhere as simple to contain as even the most rogue of escaped blueberries. There’s nothing neat or tidy about our feelings and, since typically our emotional state is not independent of those we care about, limiting their impact on others is a much more difficult task.

Working through an emotional mess is a challenge, even if we attempt to deal with it in the same direct and efficient manner we use to address a spill. Unfortunately, there’s no product available to scrub our hearts or heads clean, no Shamwow to absorb all the emotions and thoughts swirling inside ourselves. Like the days of small boys behaving like mini cyclones in my previously neat home, it will pass. Until then, all one can do is their best to avoid stepping on anything that hurts.

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Filed under aging, family, house, love, musings, Observations, relationships