Friday, June 9, 2017

The Grass is Green

The following photos are stolen directly from the house listing we saw and decided, "what the hell? Let's go check out this house, despite the fact that it looks like the little house on the goddamn prairie, without the rustic charm." 

This is the dining room. We tore that wall down. We don't believe in walls.

Still, we bought the house. We especially liked the curtains. Apparently.

I'm a whiny baby when it comes to electric stoves. 

When we told the kids we were buying it, Fiona threw herself on the floor and wept. Granted, she has a tendency to be melodramatic. Still, I felt a little bit like weeping myself.

But it was a solid house and it did have potential. And six acres, partly wooded, with a creek. And it didn't cost a million dollars.

"You have to have the vision," we kept telling ourselves. Laura has all the vision. She is more evolved than any of the rest of us. All we saw was an old lady's house with frilly curtains and the washer and dryer in the goddamn dining room.

The dryer, by the way, had an intricate ventilation system constructed out of pantyhose. True story.

And here we are. Two years later. And it's all coming together in the most perfect, meant to be way. Why? Because we dreamt the impossible dream, that's why.

We also had good  intentions, sprinkled with some crazy dust.

 LOTS of dust.

Hallelujah.





Positive thinking, paired with gratitude, equals our/your reality. I realize that I sound like a damn self-help book, but it really does work. Also, you can't always get what you want. At least not all of it, all at once. But having gratitude for "almost", for what is right in front of you, is the key to contentment.

The grass is green on whichever side of the fence you water.

Everyone who was involved with the reconstruction of our little house holds a special place in my heart (except for the first round of flooring installers - long story.)

Our contractor had been working with us for nearly a year, as we designed plans and then changed our minds and then changed our minds again. He stayed with us, shared some wine with us, and helped to finalize the vision that was, in the beginning, somewhat blurry. He truly was the BEST.

He listened to NPR as he tore down our walls. He patiently conversed with the children when they came home from school. He was nice. And it was a genuine nice. The kind you can trust. I wanted to hug him on his last day at our house. But I didn't. That would have been weird.

And then, we lucked out with our cabinet builder. Perfection, party of one. You should see these cabinets. They're works of art. AND, he and his wife raise bees. They gave us a jar of their honey and it was LIQUID, DELICIOUS GOLD. I'm only screaming because that honey is what all similes mean when they say it tastes like honey.

Our painter was also brilliant. He reminded us that ceilings do not always have to be white, even in small spaces. In fact, a ceiling, painted darker than the walls, creates an illusion of height. He was right and I'm so pleased with the way we broke all the rules and made it our own. Now, I scoff whenever I see a white ceiling. I've turned into an insufferable ceiling paint snob.

Dixie likes the grass on the other side of the fence. It is, in this case, greener.


Peace out.

p.s. The remodel is not completely done but, if I've learned one thing during this process it's patience. See, I've evolved a little. Or maybe all the dust and paint fumes have altered my propensity for crankiness. Either/or.


















































Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chestnuts: a Metaphor



Needless to say, I've had some emotions since the election. I wrote all about it but it was ugly crying formed into words, which is bad, BAD writing. So, I deleted the hell out of that and have been silent, simmering in a blend of sadness and dwindling hope, and frankly, more anger than I care to claim.

That being said, I'm not spending any more words on the presidential election.

I'm not here to trivialize what's happening in our world, but it's too big for this medium. There's nothing I can write that has not already been written that will shed light on what the fuck happened with our current reality. Enough.

Instead, let's chat about chestnuts.

They're hard to find in Fort Wayne. In years past, Meijer and The Fresh Market have had them in stock. The Meijer chestnuts are like avocados. They're stale and hard when they stock them before Thanksgiving. I buy them anyways, because CHESTNUTS. I roast them. I burn my goddamn hands peeling them and they're hard as a rock. I wait a couple of weeks and try again. Usually, by December, they're ripe and delicious. They remind me of my childhood.

In Paris, you can walk down any street during the holiday season and find a stand selling freshly roasted chestnuts, brimming out of newspaper cones. Chestnuts are part of the happy quadrant in my brain.

This year, I couldn't find them anywhere. Thankfully, I had a jar of them from Williams Sonoma from last year. Not the same as freshly roasted, but still, they made it into my Thanksgiving stuffing and I was content.

The other day, I had to run into The Fresh Market to spend a million and half dollars on triple cream cheese and a nice baguette. Lo and behold, there were a couple tiny bundles of chestnuts in the produce section.

I squeezed them and I knew just then that they weren't going to be good. They were solid. Still, I bought them because I'd been looking for them and there they were.

For eleven dollars. Eleven. I could buy really good socks with that eleven bucks. Or a pretty good bottle of wine. But no. I bought the chestnuts with hope in my heart. Because, as Michelle Obama said, "what else do you have if you don't have hope?"

I roasted them in our fireplace.

Most were rocks. The others were green with rot.

God. Damn. It.

Sometimes, you want something so much, you ignore the obvious faults. You choose what you think is best for your country. I mean, you choose a tiny bundle of fresh chestnuts that you know is not right, but you're desperate for something you love so you buy it anyway. And here were are.

If you're going to sell chestnuts, and the name of your store is The "FRESH" Market, please, merchandise them with the  refrigerated produce so they don't fucking mold before they're purchased.

I've made my peace with the chestnut scenario but not the other stuff. It's a damn good start.

Peace out.

P.S. Sorry about all the f-bombs in this post. You should have seen the post I deleted, though. Good grief.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Party was a Success and Nobody Got Voted Off the Island


I love celebrating the birth and life of the people I love. Part of me wants to celebrate in the grandest, craziest, lots of people kind of way. And another part of me wants to have a quiet dinner in a fancy restaurant and talk about books, cats and quantum physics. But this isn't about me. So, even though I generally dislike parties, I invited people and planned the surprise party Laura would want. Outdoors, with family, favorite friends, the woods, sangria, and, of course, gin.

While I'm glad I pulled off this surprise, I will never, ever do this again. Ever.

I'm a goddamn liar. I'll probably do it again when she turns 60. Because in the end, it was all worth it. And not once did I feel the need to cower in a dark corner, paralyzed by social anxiety. I'd call that a success.



She really was surprised.






It wasn't fancy but it was perfect.



I didn't take pictures of everyone at the party. When I'm in a social situation, my photography impulse shuts down. All my energy is spent on surviving the over stimulation and small talk. I'm more of a basket case than I appear.

I'm glad Laura's sisters and Fiona stepped in and took great photos of some of the guests, as well as the food.





We ended the evening at our house, with a few guests, a tour of the teepee and a very competitive game of Scrabble on our living room floor. And by competitive, I mean we had to use letters.

****

Every year, Laura and her sisters go on a "sisters' weekend" together. This year, it happened to be scheduled around Laura's birthday.

It's supposed to be for the sisters, without their spouses, but since I'm female, I get to go. This is one of the many perks of being in a same sex marriage. I recommend it to everyone. You can wear each other's clothes, use the same public bathroom, go on sisters' weekends together. IT'S GREAT. 

We had a wonderful time on Round Island, Sylvan Lake.


 It was a bird paradise.






Stine sisterhood.




On our final night, we toasted to the birthday girl, to the sunset, the island. Lake life is the best. It's even better with champagne.

I miss the island already. But I missed home when I was there. I missed the children and the routine of life. I missed brushing Cyd's hair into a ponytail every morning, and picking up Fiona after her cross country practice after school. I almost missed our crappy kitchen. 

I'm lying again. I didn't miss our stupid kitchen.

The moral of the story: even when you're missing a person, place or thing, you still have the present, which is everything that is worth celebrating.

Peace out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More Than Enough


It's been a weekend chock full of fun.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. It wasn't chock full. Maybe just three quarters full. There were some disappointments mixed in.

What did not disappoint were the people at the Ravinia music festival.

Laura had gotten me tickets to see the Indigo Girls AND Mary Chapin Carpenter for my birthday. We got there with our picnic of pizza and salad and our Bota box of wine like a bunch of hillbillies. When we got there, we found people enjoying fancy picnics on tiny tables, with real bottles of wine and wine glasses made out of glass. They were enjoying appetizers of brie, olives, and crusty bread. They were so civilized, with their tablecloths on their tiny, adorable tables. And here we were, schmucks on our picnic blanket, using plastic sporks to eat our salad.

I'd forgotten how much I love Mary Chapin Carpenter. She rocked it.

If you know me, you know how much I adore the Indigo Girls. They were the last act of the evening. Sadly, we had to leave early while they were playing, in order to catch our shuttle back to the hotel. What kind of goddamn shuttle picks up concert goers before the concert is over? Disappointment, party of four. Still, it was nice to share the space with them.
Just look at that dimple. 


We visited Lurie Gardens. Amazing.


Cyd the Brave made it to the top of the rock climbing wall. It took her a few tries, but she persevered. 



We usually visit Chicago in the dead of winter, so it was nice to be able to linger at Millennium Park
and get a close look at The Bean, without freezing to death.

We were going to have dinner at a cozy fondue place in the heart of Chicago, but when I called to make reservations, they said kids 10-years-old and under weren't allowed, for safety reasons. 

Whatevs. It's probably all for the best. Cyd probably would have set the damn place on fire. No one got hurt. No one got delicious fondue. 

So we went to Navy Pier. 

 ***

Back home, weeding the pumpkin patch.

Mabel is keeping her babies close. All three seek refuge under their mother, but they really want to explore.
This one is Cyd's. She named her/him Rosie.
We ended the weekend with a little barbecue, because it's the FOURTH OF JULY. 

The disappointments of the weekend are small compared to what we did, what we have, what we look forward to. There will be other concerts and a lot more fondue.

We crammed a giant fistful of life in a few precious days.

The kitchen is a wreck, there are wet swimsuits covering the bathroom floor, and I need to muster up the energy to make the kids' lunches for tomorrow. It's all enough.

Sometimes, it's more.


Peace out.