Sunday, October 18, 2009

One other weekend project

I should know by now, when I expand a space, the space will accumulate more things. A few years ago I expanded my kitchen (it was the smallest room in the house) to three times the size. Since then, I believed my only design flaw was that all the towel racks were on the south end of the kitchen and the sink on the north. Not that the journey was that far, nor a real big deal--justified in my mind--sans a few water drops on the floor. However, recently, I’ve struggled with the ever increase accumulation of lids in the lid drawer. Note to self: “This is not suppose to be happening”!

The lid drawer houses container lids and pot lids, positioned above the container drawer (wasn’t that elementary?). Yet, the bulky pot lids--those convex glass lids with the knobby handles on top--cause chaos. Decided...second design flaw.

I began thinking about it and queried friends on Facebook. Their situational fixes...small lids in larger pots, lids propped behind stove, lids in a hanging rack, etc., couldn’t work for me as my pots are on a rack, the stove on an island and the walls replete with artwork and other sundry items.

Looking around the kitchen I decided the least infringed upon space was below the oven--a space designed for vertical storage of low relief baking wares. [Around here, we do much more cooking than baking.] I shifted the baking wares, tightening the storage, freed one of the vertical spaces and found something of promise.

My brainchild was to create a two-sided vertical unit on full extension glides to accommodate five bulky lids. The available space is 5” wide x ~13” high x just over 26” deep. Perfect! Just enough space to squeeze in my menagerie of glass pot lids.

I’ve learned the value of the old adage “measure twice, cut once”. Furthermore, have personally learned when fitting into an existing space and/or for a specific purpose, one should measure as many times as needed--more often than twice--before cutting or proceeding. When the business day ended on Friday, I made a beeline for the kitchen. After measuring more times than I care to admit, I headed back down the stairs, gleefully visualizing the perfect storage unit. I rummaged through the available wood supply, kicked on the table saw and clamped together a mock up. Done for day one!

Day Two:
After removing the clamps from my mock-up, I decided the first task to tackle was positioning the glides. I’ve dealt with glides in the past (which, I installed) that were not accurately aligned. #*^&$*#!!! If I could not properly align the glides my project was hitting the trash can! After many measurements and much contemplation--not without consternation--the center-finding ruler became my best friend. Those glides slid like butter on hot corn!

From this point on it was a piece of cake. I cut down the oversized front and back members to proper height, positioned the lid supports, broke out the clamps, glue bottle and brad gun and proceeded to assemble. All dry, clamps removed, space-tested, filled and painted. Done for day two!

Day Three:
I woke and sprang from the bed to hurry downstairs and finish the project. A light rubbing out of the finish, some household oil applied to the glides and up the stairs for the install. Done! Time to make a pot of chili.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Graduation Tribute

I have three amazing sons! The youngest son will graduate law school tomorrow. I am overwhelmed with pride and admiration. This child came from a broken home VERY early in his life. As he grew over the ensuring eight years in a single family home he began to test life, daring most things that came his way. The older brothers could issue a dare--they and he knowing full well it would result in negative consequences--and Craig would take it on. He explored and challenged all that was put before him good, bad and indifferent--in earnest! Yet, he was always forthright and paid the consequences for his actions with a shrug of the shoulders. He learned just a bit more each time--as HE turned the tides. He was testing the waters and soaking up the experience like a sponge.

During his high school years he began plowing a path--his path. He pursued diverse routes, excelling in all yet, focused on those that he found most interesting. He was honing his life’s vision and has pursued.

Craig is a man of few words yet, every word has weight--a quiet man--yet, wisely so.

To my son, Craig--kudos!!! You have done well!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Technological Memory Trips

I took a stroll down memory lane this morning--in more ways than one. In that waking moment, that moment just before full awareness, where the conscious mind seems to waltz with the subconscious was the song “500 Miles”. Even as my feet found the floor, the song lingered. I put the coffee on and ventured out onto the deck to water the herb seedlings with 500 Miles running through my head. The humming followed and then--with the rhythm of the water--I burst into song for all of Savannah (well, at least my neighbors) to hear. After the watering task I went straight for the CD player and punched the appropriate keys to find The Kingston Trio and 500 Miles. While the song played it occurred to me ‘I am about 500 miles from my childhood home’.

Via the wonderful world of Facebook, I’ve recently reconnected with several people from my hometown, some that I’ve had no contact with since early childhood and many from my school--Clements High School. I’m certain this activity had much to do with my subconscious waltz. After brushing the teeth, washing the bod’, donning the duds, petting the pup and pouring the coffee, I headed downstairs to Google-Map the distance from here to my childhood home. It was only 498 miles. Ah! I had to make it work. Remembering that mother had always said we lived two miles from the school, I added Clements as my final destination. It is so! It was exactly 500 miles.

When my sons were young, we would pick an extraordinary place to visit (ie. London, England). I would go to the library to get a copy of the city map; to a travel agency to nab brochures; and to encyclopedias for further information. We learned about and talked of the place for a week and then we would sit together on the floor with all of our materials spread out in front of us and take a trip. Using the maps we walked the city streets calling out landmarks as we encounter them, discussing them, what we had learned and the history of the place. Wonderful trips and now great memories.

Today I was able to walk the streets around my childhood home and the Clements community via the Google Maps street view application. Technology is amazing.

I started from my childhood home walking east from our driveway. That was the house my father build while working for Jim Walter Homes. The seafoam green was applied in later years. One of the neighbors that lived across the road supplied the current photos (Thanks, Johnny). The old Smith place, where Tommy and Johnny lived is a bit like most of us-- the same yet, older and looking a little ragged around the edges. The Smith Place (current).  Click for larger image.<br />I paused for a moment at the top of the hill, spanning/looking left across what used to be a cotton field--now a cow pasture--I could see the back of my grandparents place over on Hwy 72. I did that as a child, too. There’s a new house built atop that hill just above the Smith place. My grandfather used to own that land. There was a little brown rental house there that came complete with outhouse. I don’t know that my recall of tenants is chronologically correct yet, I recall the Culkins [sp?], an elderly couple that drove an old green truck, which I loved--them and the truck; the Barnes family, Hazel was in my class; a Nash family, I think Ann was in Felita’s class; and my Uncle John and his bushel basket. Continuing down the hill I passed the house where Nancy Nash lived and just beyond there on the left, passed Debbie Watson’s house. A few houses down (a later addition) is the house Mark & Frankie built (two of my Clements classmates). At the top of that hill, on the right was Mrs. Easter’s house.

As a child I would always stop to admire Mrs. Easter’s beautiful flower garden and before I left she would bring out this wonderful tin containing King Leo soft peppermint sticks and offer one to me. I always took one yet, secretly wanted the tin more than the candy. Just beyond Mrs. Easter’s house, I spied a house I remember but, for the life of me cannot recall the name of the family that lived there. [Anyone?]

Turning left onto Log Cabin Road I saw a multitude of new houses. Reaching the end of that road and Hwy 72, I was happy to see the old Log Cabin grocery still standing, as well as the house across the road--though now looking like forlorn roadside shacks. If my memory serves me correctly that house had a breezeway which I thought was one of the coolest things in the community. [If anyone reading this can confirm that memory, I would greatly appreciate it.] I turned west onto Hwy 72 and checked out the grandparents place. All the hills, embankments and even houses seem much smaller than I remember. I continued west on 72 to Clements and was amazed at all the kiosk-type buildings, structures and growth. I strolled back home via Ezell road, stopping by the cemetery at the end of that road long enough to linger in a few memories.

I went back to the map view and traced the bus route I rode for years. I was really amazed at my recall of the route, who we picked up, where, and the flood of memories about those folks from those years.

If you haven’t experienced the Goggle Map street view application, let me encourage you to do so. You can travel to and see places you’ve never been--without having to make treks to the library or travel agencies--and in a sense, travel back in time. Enjoy your journey.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rock throwing Lawnmowers

When Felita was old enough (I’m not sure how old that was), Mother would make her treks to town or to do community/family errands leaving us at home with chores (always with chores)--under Felita’s supervision. As soon as that old blue station wagon disappeared over the eastern hill, the chores were abandoned for some sort of play, if not mischief. Felita was all about having time to herself, listening and dancing to the tunes on the radio with her friends and our closest neighbors, Nancy or Debbie, allowing us to do what we wanted...until something went wrong or the time was drawing near for mother’s return.

On one summer day we were left with the chore of mowing the two-acre lawn--not foreign to us, ‘twas something we had done since we were big enough to push the mower. One day, my two younger sisters and I were romping in the summer sunshine and decided to play hide-and-go-seek. Beverly and I had our turns at seeking and eventually Pauline was ‘it’. Beverly and I ran off as Paula was counting out the time for us to hide. Contemplating the best of hiding places, Beverly and I decided that we would really throw her for a loop and hide inside the house. We ran around the house and into the back patio door, locking it behind us, laughing all the while. [Our doors were never locked!] Just after we entered the house, Paula was on the prowl. Ducking below the windows we gleefully watched as she searched all around--for quite some time. Eventually, exasperated with the hunt, she tried to enter via the patio door, found it locked and knew we were inside the house. She started around the house and Bev and I immediately headed for the front door, arriving a moment before her, locking it as she shrieked. Whew! Ah! Then we remembered that Felita’s bedroom window was open and ran down the hall into the bedroom and slammed it shut--laughing--just as Paula appeared outside. The unjustified scorn delivered by Beverly and me was just a bit too much and that little feisty squirt of a sister began pounding on that window, demanding that we let her in. All of a sudden there was a clash, glass flew our way and it looked as if something had been thrown right into the middle of that window. Felita is suddenly jolted from developing the proper choreography to Cher’s “Half-Breed” playing on WKAC.

When mother arrived there was a wee bit of grass cut--a path in front of the house. In that path, right in front of that broken window, was one-half of a hard clay rock and the other half was inside on Felita’s desk with all that broken glass.

I truly don’t remember how the idea developed yet, it was collective-sister minds and a memory that stays. We did eventually tell Mom and Dad what had happened--later in life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strolling through the garden

While watering the plants and enjoying my coffee on the upstairs deck this morning, across the neighboring rooftops, on the next street over I noticed huge clusters of bold yellow flowers extremely high in the treetops. In my many years of living here, I had never noticed them before. Curious, I went for the field glasses, not satisfied with that magnified view, I then went for the digital camera. Combining the optical and digital zoom lengths still failed to satisfy my curiosity. After a delicious sushi spread for lunch, shared with Stephen and our friend, Gert, Gert and I took a trek over to the base of that unidentified vine. With some debate, we finally decided which of the various leaves on this vine-laden tree belonged to those bright yellow blooms that towered above us some 30+feet. We yanked on the vines, took a few cuttings, shot a few pictures and retrieved a lone blossom that had fallen to the ground. With loot in tow we headed back to the abode to apply a few different rooting methods to our clingy vine.

After our rooting efforts, we took a stroll through the garden admiring the colourful blooms, looking for signs of new growth on plants damaged by the winter freeze (which is not common here), checking the oleander for aphids (which I had super-sprayed from the plant yesterday), looking for signs of seedlings in newly sown beds and discussing possibilities in life.

We found the recently sown lavender, cilantro, chives and chamomile perching above the soil and a few sprigs of self-sown dill from last season. The garlic chives, some of the cuban oregano and the lemon grass made it through the unusual winter. I redesigned my herb beds this year and am just a wee bit anxious to see it all come together.

We spied a few more aphids on the oleander then discovered they were also on the mandevilla. Yikes!

The flowering maple made it through the winter and is blooming as well as the lady bank roses, the shamrocks and the jasmine. The Meyer lemon and satsuma have healthy blooms as well. The wisteria and Japanese lantern blooms have already come and gone. It seems I may have lost two hibiscus plants yet, others that are putting out new growth. I haven’t decided if the red ornamental banana tree will come through but, the green ones have new leaves opening up already. I moved a few of the baby succulents from pots into the ‘cactus bed’ while we were out roaming around. There’s new growth all over the garden, it sings of spring.

I was thinking the bright yellow flowers on our mystery vine would look fabulous in the tall pine cornered in the garden so, I did some research. Turns out the vine is cat's claw aka, yellow trumpet vine, extremely invasive and not well liked among gardeners. Though the bright yellow display is quite dramatic, it’s short lived and not worth the efforts it would take to control. I might try a bit in a pot just to study it’s growth for a season but, don’t think I’ll be planting it in the garden.

The sun’s down now and time for me to apply a soap treatment to the aphid infested plants.

Maybe I’ll get back to another post before too long. Until then...