Working on the Grapevine House

One of my favorite things about being a teacher (besides teaching) is having this time in the summer to refuel. When my friends give me a hard time about being "unemployed" for a couple months, I have to say in all seriousness that it’s not my fault I picked the right career 😉 Truly though, people in this country work too much. If you find yourself nodding yes to that last sentence, you might want to read, "In Praise of Slowness".

Anyway! I’ve been spending my days as a handyman at the Sonnet house. Yesterday, I was a plumber. I reinstalled the toilet in the master bath after removing it some weeks ago and that was something of an adventure. But, my skills as a plumber are improving because we’ve had to have a real plumber (Oscar, incredible worker…if any DFW people need a guy, call me and I’ll put you in touch) out to the house to change some of the valves so I’ve watched him work and I picked up on a thing or two. Number one: latex gloves make the job a lot more palatable. Number two: anything requiring the use of a blowtorch, call Oscar. Don’t worry, we didn’t learn that one the hard way! Number three: always have a bucket at the ready and you can never have too many sponges.

The other big projects have been the kitchen remodel and getting the baby’s room ready.

First: the kitchen

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This is how we bought it. Then, we decided to replace the cabinets. Before you look at the picture and ask yourself, "Why?" it has to be said that they look a billion times better in this photo than in real life. The stain job was horrible, there was a great deal of wear and tear…we decided to ditch them.

But what are you going to do with all that stuff? Well, I put an ad up on CraigsList.org and said, "If you’ll help me take them out, you can have ’em." And that’s how I met Sam the Peruvian. Very cool guy and we’re glad to have been able to help him out. He owns a house that he’s trying to improve and then either rent or sell so he can have the money to have his own Used Car Lot.

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So, empty kitchen…let’s take a trip to IKEA and get new cabinets. In this photo you can see about half the boxes and believe it or not, we were able to fit them all in the back of our Toyota Matrix in one trip. It was packed to the brim and we missed another opportunity to take a photo and end up in a Matrix ad. The other opportunity was the time I fit a full sized washer and dryer in there. Seriously.

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One box at a time, we assembled and installed the cabinets. They come from IKEA completely flat. You construct the whole thing…it’s time consuming but in the end, pretty cool and very rewarding.

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Laura’s huge contribution to the project was some exhaustive research in to appliances. Research has always been her thing and after a great deal of comparative analysis, she found the right fit.

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Not sure why this picture is displaying sideways. Sorry. That’s weird.

But, as you can see, there is much yet to be done. We’ve ordered countertops (which Laura also researched and found the best deal) and there is still some trim work to be done on the cabinets which I’ll finish up once the counters and appliances are permanently in place.

Next: The Nursery

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We were not enormous fans of this mural. It’s light and fun, but not what we were looking for. *note…the baby is kicking at this very moment and I just felt him or her…this is getting really exciting!*

So, we wanted to do white wainscoting with a calm green. Step one: prime the walls…and again with the sideways picture…what’s up?

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Next came the wainscoting.

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Then the chair rail.

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Painting the chair rail and baseboard…

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Now the good stuff. Painting the walls and watching it all come together!

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That’s it for now!

Destin-ation

We’re out here in Destin, Florida with the other couples in our home church group: the Barkers, Parks and Rhodes. We left yesterday morning and after a short flight, we arrived at the white sandy beaches of the Sunshine State. The vacation began with a quick trip to a local grocery store for some organic goodness and then it was off to the beach!

So, here’s a recipe for disaster: a freckled, fair-skinned, redhead who hates putting on sunscreen. I just don’t like the stuff. It’s oily, it’s messy, and it makes me feel like I’m dressing myself up to be baked. Ironically, baking is exactly what happens when I don’t put on sunscreen and I learned it (again) in a bad way. I applied sunscreen to my face, arms and chest…but that of course leaves the ol’ back.

"Let me get your back for you," Laura said as I put the sunscreen back in our bag.
"Nah, I got it. Thanks though."
"No, I mean the parts you can’t reach. Come here."
"Lay off me, girl; I don’t need no more sunscreen on my back! Why you always wastin’ my flava?!"

Or a conversation something like that.

Needless to say, Laura was vindicated that evening when I removed my shirt to reveal a big splotch of red between my shoulder blades where I couldn’t reach. There are literally finger marks that show where my hand was able to get. It’s quite humorous.

Last night we had a great meal at La Paz, a little Mexican place with wonderful veggie fajitas. They put artichokes in them (wouldn’t have thought of that) there’s no turning back now…from now on, fajitas must have artichokes.

We wrapped the night up with a viewing of "Swingers" and some Texas Hold ‘Em. This morning consisted of sleeping in, lounging and a couple rounds of spades. Because of my sunburn, I decided not to risk it today when we went back out for more ocean fun, and just left my shirt on. That meant that I was "guy in the ocean with a t-shirt." Good stuff.

Now the guys are getting ready to fix dinner for the ladies so I better get in there and help out.

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All Things Go…

Sufjan

Sufjan Stevens is an outstanding singer/songwriter and I never tire of listening to him. One of my personal favorites is "Chicago" from the album "Illinois".

Chicago.mp3 – for preview only, if you like it, consider buying "Illinois" or you may want to check out "Seven Swans".

For some reason, every time he gets here…

"I drove to New York
in a van, with my friend.
We slept in parking lots.
I don’t mind, I don’t mind.

I was in love with a place,
in my mind, in my mind.

I made a lot of mistakes,
in my mind, in my mind."

…it makes me smile and shake my head. There’s something subtle going on in my mind when he sings that that I can’t put my finger on. Then he ties it up with…

"If I was crying,
in the van, with my friend,
it was for freedom.
From myself and from the land."

Alright, that’s all. A great song from a great musician. Have a great Sunday!