Friday, January 30, 2009

Photo by John Handwerk.
For David:

I'm not the kind of man
Who tends to socialize
I tend to lean on
Old familiar ways
And I ain't no fool for love songs
That whisper in my ears
Still crazy after all these years
- Paul Simon

Happy Anniversary, Honey.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Like A Bunny Post

Two things: 1) Check out my friend's blog- You Must Hear This Album. Its a great read for music lovers; and 2) I just noticed that I posted at least once per week last year. Woo hoo! Pat me on the back and gimme a cookie. Okay, not one of those Evil Incarnate Cookies, but maybe just one Walker's Shortbread biscuit.

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Renovation Update

I know this post is titled "Renovation Update," but first I need to show you the beautiful bouquet gracing my dining room table. Such saturated colors made me smile while I drank my delicious coffee and leisurely read my magazines on this frigid Sunday morning. 2 degrees is not good running weather, I decided, and so I lounged for an extra long time, trying to get motivated to run for an hour on the treadmill at the YMCA. They came from a great shop in Marquette: Garden Bouquet & Design . Stop in and support a local small business if you're ever in the area.

Okay, now on to news re: The Never-Ending Renovation. Right around Christmas, Mr. Fix was able to build and install the upper portion of what I'm calling The Right Bank of Cabinets (they are to the right of the range). The lower portion has been installed for a few months- I think since Thanksgiving- but now there are drawers. So, if you look at the picture below, the top portion of the uppers (the six cubbies) will remain as open shelving. This requires me to use a ladder, and I'm petitioning for one of those library-style ladders on a track. The portion right above the countertop will look like this: The single section on the right will have a single door, while the left side will have two pocket doors, opening like an armoire, and housing my morning business equipment: coffee maker, toaster, bread box. The cabinet doors of the lower half will (from left to right) be fashioned for baking trays stored on their sides, more baking/cookware (including small appliances) on a sliding shelf, and pantry items/canned goods.

The photo below shows the set of drawers to the left of the range. See how the wood grain is wavy and kinda shimmery? Mr. Fix tells me this is "rift-sawn" wood, and yes, he cut it and installed it that way on purpose. Me likey.

This last photo shows the entire bank of cabinets as they are now. You'll notice, too, that there is color on the walls: its called "Glamour," and is in many other rooms of our home. Its a nice custardy-creamy neutral that really makes the white trim pop. By the way, the dishwasher will be replaced with a stainless steel model later this Spring.

So, the next step is to install the cabinet doors, now that we have the hinges (bought on our "date" to Lowe's in Marquette yesterday). After that comes the concrete countertops (dyed a deep charcoal grey color), and then the island and finishing touches, like the light fixtures I bought back in August or September and white glass subway tiles for the backsplash. We are hoping to break this completed (!!!) project in with a sushi party Memorial Day weekend. Okay, I'm hoping to break it in by then.

Hope everyone had a great weekend & stayed warm- we had single digit and below-zero temps here again. I'm thinking I should've taken Fast Jessica up on that Facebook offer to get outta town and go to Sarasota...

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Not Much of a Jesus Freak, But... can't deny the truth behind the words of Bishop V. Gene Robinson. For those of you who don't know, Bishop Robinson is an openly gay Episcopalian chosen to speak at one of the pre-inaugural events. This concert was being broadcast live by HBO, and quelle surprise!- the opening prayer given by Bishop Robinson was not part of the broadcast. It is a shame, too, because his words are eloquent and timely and not too preachy for even me.

Read it through, and enjoy your Inauguration Day 2009.

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

(By Bishop V. Gene Robinson, courtesy of the New Hampshire Episcopal Church Web site.)

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If You Have Young Children, or are Planning on Having Children at Some Point, Read This Please

I've posted before about the lack of manners, or "social skills" if you prefer, in people today. But this article from this morning's New York Times is focusing on an altogether different aspect: a child's health care and how doctors can help parents whose children are less than well-behaved. Go here.

And yes, I love me some Calvin & Hobbes. Have a great day!

Friday, January 9, 2009

For My Favorite Redhead, and Fellow Cupcake Lovers Everywhere

If there is one thing I can be sure of, its that my fellow Sagittarius and Favorite Redhead loves cupcakes. In her honor, may I direct your attention to the following blog:

Cupcakes Take the Cake


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Friday Night/Saturday Afternoon

That's how I spent my Friday night: finishing off this bottle of yummy (albeit sweet) wine. I used a portion of it in the sauce for the pork chops I made (along with mustard, apricots, and thyme), then someone had to drink the rest. Me, me, me! I'll do it!

Today is Saturday and my Clean Living Routine is still going strong (3 days and counting). Breakfast every day, exercise every day, and keeping a journal of my food and exercise. I'm trying to train optimally for this next race I have yet to register for...we'll see...Katie and Kimmy have already registered, and so has Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force. Usually I'm the first to register. Loss of focus? No, I think I'm just focusing on the difficult part first (the training) and leaving the easy stuff (giving away my money) for a bit later.

Tomorrow I will update on the kitchen renovation (yes, with pictures) and let you all know how my first long run of the New Year went. Right now I'm going to get some coffee ready for The Devil, as she is coming over to knit! Have a great Saturday.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bring It On

Oh, that's right: its already been broughten! Happy 2009. For this post, I'm digging out and re-vamping a "From the Editor" piece from my running club's newsletter, the January-February 2008 edition. Maybe you're not a runner- and that's okay (you can still be my friend)- you'll just have to suffer the running references. Enjoy!

I’m writing this after taking a break from the computer, after finally shoveling snow (not a nice surprise this morning), after grabbing a room-temperature soda (no joking- I prefer my soda this way), and after thinking about showering. A hot shower in the middle of the afternoon: quite a celebratory event!

What I had hoped for this afternoon was a no-interruption day of cleaning closets and a trip to Goodwill. What I got was laundry, recycled items organization, and that staple of UP living- shoveling snow.

While shoveling, I played that mind trick where you think about what you enjoy while doing something you don’t enjoy, in hopes that you’ll hate the task at hand less. It didn’t work (I still hate snow), but I did get to think without interruptions. Isn’t that a rarity this time of year, no interruptions? What I enjoy about this time of year is the chance we get to re-connect with what’s important to us on an individual level. If that re-connection happens shoveling snow, well then...

What I enjoy this time of year, what I re-connect with, is the concept of the “chosen family.” It’s often said “You can’t pick your family.” I don’t believe this for a second. You absolutely CAN pick your family, just not who you’re related to. How often have you described a close friend as “like family?" I do it all the time, and am so happy to embrace my chosen family at this time of year. They make the rest of the holiday season bearable.

And on the flip side, how many of us have “family” we haven’t spoken to this holiday season, or even in the past twelve months? I’m guilty of this, but looking ahead to the rest of 2009, I’ll have the opportunity to correct that, or to be reminded why I avoided those people in the first place.

The tail-end of this holiday season is coming around, and the cocktail hours, shared meals, air kisses, and gifts both treasured and tacky will become memories as in years past. What will you re-connect with these last few days of 2008? Holiday traditions from your childhood? A recipe you’ve avoided because of your cholesterol count or the number on the scale? A favorite song of the season, no matter if you’re tone deaf?

I’ve checked some things off my list, but first I need to get past December 31st and welcome January 1st with a smile. Maybe I’ll be able to ring in the new year with my chosen family. Maybe I’ll make some resolutions I’ll be able to keep. Maybe I’ll make it through the remainder of the holiday season without anymore surprises (and a special “thanks” to that semi on I-90 for the rock to my windshield last year for setting the tone).

Maybe by the time you read this, the last of the confetti will have been swept up and the champagne bottles gathered and tossed in the recycling bin. Another celebratory event, another mouthful of slurred resolutions just past midnight, another January 1st spent with aspirin, strong coffee, and a constant look of confusion on my face, wondering just what exactly I did the night before. (Who am I kidding? Two vodka gimlets and I’m a goner!)

Or maybe you’ll read this and smile at the great start you’ve got going on those resolutions (you remembered!), sipping some strong coffee after a weekend long run.

However you begin your 2009- hung over or runner’s high- I hope it is everything you hope for, with your own chosen family by your side, and with only pleasant surprises along the way.