Friday, February 1, 2013

Still waiting...

No action in the kitchen lately, barring the usual: suppers, packing lunches, making coffee.
About the funniest thing was the countertops.  Finally decided on quartz because they are heat-resistant for when I put a pot down.  They are anti-bacterial for when I'm a slob and my sister said Consumer Reports said they are the best.  We were raised to consider Catholic teachings first and Consumer Reports second.
I was going with a small, local business, as I like to do.  I like the service and face I get with a smaller company.  Problem is, Lowe's price for quartz counters was a full 30 percent less that the smaller shop's.  I could handle a bit, but 30%?
My plan was to put it to Small Kitchen Store lady to come close to Lowe's price.  Her answer?  "I'd go to Lowe's."  As she called it, granite is granite, quartz is quartz.  The product is the same and she herself would save the money.
She also said she used to work for them and they have people dedicated just to solving customer problems, which I should expect.
I ordered the counters.  Three days later, a man came all the way from Williamsburg with his laser to shoot the template, and I now wait.  They said about 2 weeks.  It's been over that and they haven't gotten the material yet.
It's ok.  I have plywood.  Mostly.  Except where I spilled a cup of coffee down into and between the cabinets.  Still, it's ok.
I get my hip replaced on Valentine's Day so I'll be walking funny for awhile, but I walk funny now.  So, it's ok.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Boxes on Walls

Look at the pretty wooden boxes, all hung out of reach of the mice.  I guess I'm allowed to put dishes and glasses in them now, but that might ruin them.  Do you think?  I mean, they're so silky and the company that made them stressed how perfect they would be so I don't want to marr that perfection by actually using them.  I could bump a glass into a corner or something.

My mis-matched thrift store plates can't go in these cabinets, they'll spit them out!
 The electric stove went back in because it will take the gas company till after Christmas to put in the gas line.  Ok, the flood victims in NY weren't getting my stove till spring anyway.  I hope they have an alternative, too. The fridge is still in the mudroom since the outlets aren't working yet.

Running water and windows! 
Tom made a temporary counter by laying a wood shelf down.  The cabinets just rolled their eyes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

as the Kitchen Turns...

One of the deals I struck with Tom when he wanted to drag me to Australia was that some of the money we saved would go to:
1.  Helping pay airfare for friends/family to visit.
2.   Re-do the kitchen when we got back.

It took three years to get back and re-doing the kitchen has now taken 2 months.  The old kitchen served for about 60 years - 10 of it for us.  Having a clean, bright, functional kitchen in Alice Springs really made me want one here.  The old kitchen had one long cabinet below the sink so any mousie who came up the pipes had a grand palace to live.  Only tools and cleaning supplies could be kept below the sink.  The upper cabs had layers of oil and smoke from previous tenants on the outside and I'm guessing lead paint on the inside.  I know, I'm spoiled, but let's re-do the kitchen!

A friend of a friend is a kitchen designer and did us up a lovely plan.  The not-quite-square room and the 7 foot ceiling for a 6'4" husband gave her some challenges. Sadly, I couldn't just use one of those 3-D printers and have an instant kitchen.

I ordered the cabinets.  Four weeks was the shortest lead time for them.
Wanted cork flooring to insulate and be soft and resilient.  Can't do it - floor too wavy as it is held up in places by piles of rocks.  Vinyl it is!

Tony Moore, the contractor who put in our upstairs bath, is on the job for this adventure, too.

He took away my sink and dishwasher and I will forever despise him for it.  Washing dishes in a tiny bathroom sink is, in a word, gross.  Making coffee on top of a toilet is gross and the first time I washed chicken and broccoli in the bathroom sink was also the last time.

We get take-out or microwave meals a lot right now.

A few surprises always come with this old house.  When Tom took down the paperboard walls, there was beadboard underneath.  NEAT!  but also gross - covered in lead paint and grime.  Under that was... nothing.  You could see through the clapboard to the great outdoors.  THAT'S why the kitchen got so cold and so hot.

The ceiling yielded a bevy of surprises:  The old drop ceiling was very wavy and much higher at one end that the other with a distinct bow in the middle.

 I thought Tom would have a rain of 60 years of mouse poo fall on him when he tackled it.  He was prepared, but it didn't happen.  He found a tongue and groove wood ceiling.  Was our kitchen an old porch?  Maybe.

I hemmed and hawed over what to do.  I could sand it, but the lead paint dust requires a special respirator to keep me from getting even dumber than motherhood has made me.  Painting it would still require a lot of prep from the grease and grime. A nail-up tin ceiling was the answer except it would make it even lower.   Hmmm... what is under the wood?  Wow!  Cool beams and 6 more inches of headroom for Tom!

A Habitat for Humanity ReStore just opened in Warrenton.  It is a place where builders, re-modelers, etc. donate leftover building supplies and household goods.  What Habitat can't use, they sell to thrifty folks like me.  Scored a Maytag gas oven for 200.00, some light fixtures and floor vents.  With about 80% of landfill space being building waste, this makes me feel good.   I'll feel even better if the oven works when it's finally hooked up.

Two silly casement windows will also be 4 weeks.  Guess they need to mine the sand and blow the glass and mill the lumber.

The flooring is going down as I type.
These guys know what they're doing -  Early's Carpet.  they got here at 9 a.m. and left at 9 p.m.

 It's so clean and clear and open and empty.  So refreshingly simple, which I really need...


I'll update this post as we go.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Great Barrier Reef

As I sit in my living room in Virginia, let me hark you back to August.  Picture the cast...  me: recovering from pancreatitis (it takes a loong time); Tom, stressing about the move home; Thomas: la-de-dah;  our German friend Nici and her almost 3-year-old Flynn.

Cairns is the city in the top right point of Australia where people fly to visit Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.
It is a rainforest and quite refreshing to see green for people tired of living in the desert of Alice springs. I found it kinda like Virginia, with crocodiles.
An acquaintance of ours owns a gorgeous rental home near Cairns.  Really nice.
We could walk a block to the beach, but not so much go IN the water.  Still, having a sandbox for miles and miles made the boys really happy.
We had Breakfast with the Birds which surprised me.  I expected the Aussie "no worries" and birds stepping in our food, but they stayed at the perimeter on their perches. The rest of the wildlife preserve was great, too.  We finally saw koalas, lots of them.  Cassowaries were a freaky hit.  These huge meat-eating birds live in the rainforest there.  With their horn on the top of their head and their ripping claws, they make for a formidable nightmare.
I was impress that in a day we recognized the silhouette of the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos on their road crossing signs.
The giant (I mean GIANT) strangler figs were impressive.  I wish we'd left time for the venom museum.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was simply amazing, not for the colors which were not like on TV - the corals were mostly a drab olive green.  But, just doing it.  I was terrified at the first stop.  Thomas wasn't much better.  But we worked through it slowly, very slowly, and by the third stop hopped off the back of the boat into the sea.  There are some experiences you just can't lose to fear.

We were there about a week.  Let's watch one of those slide shows.

<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" bgcolor="#ffffff"><tr><td><a href="" target="_blank"><img width="420" height="330" alt="Click to play this Smilebox slideshow" src="" style="border: medium none ;"/></a></td></tr><tr><td><a href="" target="_blank"><img width="420" height="46" alt="Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox" src="" style="border: medium none ;"/></a></td></tr><tr><td align="center"><a href="" target="_blank">Free slideshow design</a> made with Smilebox</td></tr></table>

Well rats, it didn't work this time!  Ok, just go to this link:

until I figure it out.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Tummy Hurt and I had to Lie Down

Been kinda out of touch - with reality; brought on by morphine.
About 2 weeks ago, I felt kinda nauseus all day then finally gave in to the feeling about 9 p.m. Couldn't stop. It was bad. Then, this pain above my belly button came and nothing would make it go away. Not Tums nor Quick-eze (Aussie chewable Pepto), not even Panadeine which is over-the-counter Tylenol with codeine.
So about 4 a.m. I asked Tom for a ride to the hospital. He came back home to Thomas.
At the hospital, it was a lot of the same questions over and over as the shifts were changing. It still hurt. A lot. Finally, a blood test showed pancreatitis. Not sure if the morphine was before or after the diagnosis, but I finally slept.
Several times, I was told 40% of pancreatitis is caused by alcoholism (not guilty), 40% is from a gall stone and 20% is just weird. I fell into the gallstone group. Seems a stone I never knew I had went into my pancreas and clogged it up. Now, a pancreas doesn't just make insulin, it makes some whopper digestive enzymes. When they can't get out, it starts to digest itself. Gross, but true.
When we get back to the US, I'll have my gall bladder removed. I can't let an organ start throwing rocks at other organs. I didn't raise her that way.
I had IV fluids, some antibiotics and lots of pain meds and sleep.
The nurses were generally nice and competent. The hospital could use a bit of paint and I only saw one roach the whole time.
I was fasted for about 3 days. Water only, then clear fluids. NO hospital food tasted better than some broth at the end of a 3-day fast. Even the green jello was good although I couldn't finish it all.
Next came "vitaminized soup." A blend of potato and green things and other lumps. Stunningly savory after broth and green jello.
I was let home after 5 days and 9 hours. Slept like a log, woke for a snack, then slept like a different log. Repeat.
Tom and Thomas are being fantastic as men can be helping and bringing me things. I admit, there is a reason 8-year-old boys are not nurses. Friends have brought food and taken Thomas to school and back. I love and appreciate my friends.
Still resting a lot but each day is better.

Our pack-out is Tuesday the 7th. That is when they come and take everything going by boat which is most everything. Haven't gotten to every task I thought I would, but I'm alive and kicking and ok.

Oh, the photo is a candle made from just an orange and some oil. Nothing to do with the post, but neat, huh?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mt. Gillen from the Top

Every morning, Mt. Gillen looks at our house and turns orange. It stays there all day, turning brown, taupe, maroon. Then, the sun sets behind it and it's black until the next day. While our niece Tara is here, it was a good chance for Tom, Thomas and Tara to climb it.
I got the car inspected. Our also-visiting friend Mimi rearranged my rock collection.
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Monday, July 2, 2012

A (female) Yank's View of "The Finke"

It's pronounced, "Fink." It is a race. For guys. First the dirt bikes and quads, then the buggies leave Alice Springs along the Finke Track which is dirt and sand and dust. It follows the Finke River - the oldest or one of the oldest rivers on earth. They race to the end of the track, c. 230 km, in about 3 1/2 hours. They camp and, I assume, drink like crazy and enjoy all the things that come with drinking like crazy.

The next morning, they race back.
The town goes nuts over this.

There were about 600 competitors started the race this year. About 80% usually finish. The rest get hurt, their vehicles break (no worries, the bike who came in second caught fire) or they just forget to come back.
Practically every local camps along the track somewhere so they can watch the racers and drink like crazy - an estimated 12,000 people. They bring "camping" equipment like I've never seen like couches and swing sets for the kids. Many of them camp for 3 freezing cold mid-June nights so they can be awoken and hear "NNyrroom!" hundreds of times.

The Finke is always held on the Queen's Birthday long weekend. Her Majesty's real birthday is in April but that's too close to ANZAC Day and Easter, so they move it to where there is a need.
At the start/finish line outside Alice there is a live video feed from a helicopter or two, lots of food, souvenirs, beer and the "Grid Girls" in really, um, friendly costumes.

The bikes and quads get back first, then the buggies/cars and all the boys need to see them.
Obviously, I don't get any of it, but I'm not the target audience, either.