Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Buyer Beware

Now that we're almost done renovating our beach cottage, I have a confession to make.

I got a little full of myself when I found the place and talked Doug into buying it.  I was convinced that all it needed was a truckload of cleaning materials and a vat of paint to become a fun, livable little vacation spot.

Although the ad for the place used words like "furnished" and "well maintained," even our Realtor thought we were buying it as a tear-down.  When I told him my plans for it, he said I had vision.

Yes, I had vision to see that it could go from this:

to this:

and from this:

to this:

But it really wasn't quite as simple as taking a piece of furniture from this:

to this:

With the house, I didn't have the vision to see the live wires hanging loose inside the kitchen cabinets.

I didn't have the vision to see that the gas line to the stove was crimped, which could have eventually led to a dangerous leak.

I didn't have the vision to see that the range had been configured for natural gas, not propane, which we learned when the gas guy came out to fix the crimp.  Using the oven could have resulted in a serious fire.

I didn't have the vision to see that the gas heater was blocked up with pine needles, bird feathers, and other debris.  We discovered that problem when our carbon monoxide detector went off. Without it, Doug and I and our cat could all have died the first night we slept there.

I didn't have the vision to see that underneath the floor of our porch, the deck boards were just hanging with no support.  The weight of 8 or 10 people could have caused the whole structure to collapse.

All of these problems have now been fixed, and we feel safe in our little getaway.  But NONE of these issues were disclosed to us at the time of purchase, so I feel very fortunate to have had a savvy husband who not only found the problems but also knew how to fix them.

I think Doug appreciates my vision now--although he admits that he thought I was crazy for wanting to buy the cottage--but I appreciate his type of vision even more.

Thanks, honey.  You're the best!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Get a Move On

When Christine was a teenager, and it was just the two of us in our townhouse, one of our favorite forms of entertainment was rearranging the furniture.  We both loved how it gave us something to do, and we could give a room a whole new look without buying anything new.

Doug, however, does not view furniture rearranging as a hobby.  Like a lot of men, he is chilled by the idea of coming home and finding his chair in a new place--or, even worse, his bed pointed in a new direction.

But as it turns out, the two houses that he and I share--our little Sears kit house in Newark and our even tinier beach shack--don't lend themselves to large-scale rearranging. We're lucky to fit in the furniture we have, and in most cases it can fit only one way.

So I've had to turn to nano-scale rearranging to keep my habit going and keep Doug calm.

Rearranging stuff goes hand in hand with serious cleaning.  You know, you take everything off the mantel to give it its semi-annual dusting, and then you decide you might as well change things up.  And of course, since our house is so small and we have such a serious junk habit, we have a basement full of things just waiting to be cycled back into the display circuit.

So yesterday, while Doug was helping his stepson install a ceiling fan, I battled dust and moved stuff.

Here is the refreshed mantel:

We have built-in shelving in our kitchen, so I moved some things around here:

And I unearthed this cute collection of syrup dispensers hiding behind a cabinet door (the large one is actually a Tang pitcher from the 1970s).  Now they actually look like...a collection.

I played around with the top of this cabinet and filled the Lance jar with dog biscuits for Jodie:

I even switched some photos around from one wall to another.  I moved Doug's grandparents' marriage certificate, which was hanging on the wall in our extra bedroom, into our room, replacing a collage of his family photos.

He just shook his head last night when I told him that switching things around is good because after awhile you stop "seeing" your things if they're always arranged the same way in the same place.

Then when we went to bed, I pointed out that I had moved the marriage certificate into our room.

"Oh, what was there before?" he asked.


Monday, August 12, 2013

You Can't Fix Stupid

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post.  I didn't know it was going to be a post until it was too late.

Anyway, if this entry had pictures, all they would show is two stupid people and a bunch of keys.

Oh, no, I guess that wouldn't work either--you can't take pictures of keys that you can't find....

So here, without pictures, is how the story unfolded.

When we bought our beach cottage, there was a padlock on the shed and one key to open it.  Doug had a really bad habit of putting the key in his pocket after opening the shed instead of bringing it right back in the house and hanging it on its little nail over the dining room doorway.  (I think that's because he was so excited about whatever chore he was going to do after he had the shed open.)

Anyway, the key would then turn up in the laundry after we got home to Newark, and we would have to remember to take it back the next time we went to Kitts Hummock.

I guess we finally decided to replace the padlock so that we would have TWO keys, which would obviously solve our problem.

Except it obviously didn't solve our problem because WE FORGOT THAT WE REPLACED THE LOCK.

Last weekend, we went down and couldn't find the shed key anywhere (still thinking there was only one key).  

We went back home to Newark and couldn't find it anywhere there either.  

This past weekend, Doug had a photo shoot, so I went down to the cottage armed with a bolt cutter and, in case that didn't work, a grinder to remove the lock.

The bolt cutter didn't even put a dent in the lock.  As for the grinder, it's tough to plug in a tool when all of your extension cords are in the locked shed.

So Doug joined me on Sunday, sent sparks flying with his grinder, got the old lock off, and put on a new one.  I took the two keys and hung one on the nail and then retrieved the little box where we have extra house keys hidden.

I opened it up...and saw a padlock key that looked almost like the one I was about to put in the box.  

I wandered back into the house and held up the key ring for Doug to see.

"Oh, I guess at some point, we replaced the lock," he said.  "I forgot all about it."

So the hunting for keys and the attempt to cut the lock off and the grinding had all been for nothing--there was a key that would have let us in the shed just a few feet away.

This time, I don't think we'll forget.

And, here, just so that this post is a little more visually interesting than my rambling words, is a picture of Saturday night's sunset at Kitts Hummock:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Every Day is a Blessing

I met Pat more than 25 years ago, when I first started working at UD's Center for Composite Materials. She's one of those people that, no matter what happens to her, manages to keep smiling and find the good in everything and everyone.

Pat and I haven't worked together for more than a decade now, but we've kept in touch with each other and one or two other friends--catching up for an outdoor dinner in the summer or a get-together around Christmas.

Pat's health hasn't been good for the past few years, so I friended her daughter (who is actually closer to my age than Pat is) on Facebook to make sure I'd hear if anything happened to her.

A few weeks ago, her daughter messaged me and said that Pat had been in the hospital to be treated for complications of a chronic lung problem. She was released to her daughter's care after a week and is now on oxygen 24/7.

Our other friend Penny and I recently went to visit her and spent a delightful evening catching up, reminiscing, looking at pictures, and eating cupcakes to celebrate Pat's 78th birthday.  Pat was stylishly dressed for our visit, and she regaled us with stories of what a great time she had in the hospital.

Yeah, Pat even had fun and made new friends in the hospital....

She emailed me about a week ago to thank us for coming and to invite us back any time.  She ended her message saying, "Every day is a blessing."

Every day IS a blessing, whether you're 61 and healthy or 78 and fighting a debilitating lung disease.

I think about Pat every day now.  Next time, Penny and I won't wait so long to visit her--we never know when a visit might be the last one.

But I also think about what Pat said and try to appreciate the little things that make every day a blessing for me:

watching Pax sleep away a breezy Sunday on the screen porch at our beach cottage:

walking on the beach with Jodie:

and doing all of the other apparently ordinary but really extraordinary things I do with my wonderful family and friends.

Life is good--and yes, every day is a blessing.