I have so many stories I want to share here. I jot notes, quotes, thoughts in my phone and on paper – things I may or may not end up expanding upon. This is my list from the last two days.
* smoke detector smackdown
* nice lady in costco parking lot
* youtube videos toilet installation, laying wood floor (and picking locks)
* last of the harvest, first frost – crop covering at 10pm
* energetic, curious kids – home reno
* dress up, constant questions, “cleaning”, “camping”
* heart attack
* evening walks with Alice – beehive and pinecones
* toilet flange: one shot
* tomato sauce, kale pesto, frozen corn, plant garlic
I love a good before and after. But there is so much in between. Appetizers set a tone; dessert is sweet and rummy. But the dinner? Well, that’s the conversation, the protein, the storytelling. The dinner is my favorite.
We are remodeling our bathroom with very little cash to throw at it. This isn’t unusual for our home renovation pursuits but this one came unexpectedly where we had to deal with one thing which led to why not just do this too and then another and so on.
On saturday morning our smoke detector sounded. We have a hard wired system that is sometimes triggered but unsuspecting spiders (I always feel so bad for them! Can you imagine that sound in your little arachnid earlobes?). This time, no spider. I sat in the kitchen, on the phone with my brother as I watched Andy remove it from the ceiling, swear, swing it about wildly and blow into all the compartments while the kids ran about with their hands over ears. Five minutes passed, the tiny LOUD plastic object beneath blankets in a closet while Andy fetched his air compressor. It didn’t help. I hung up the phone when I heard loud whacks that sounded exactly like a hammer shattering a smoke detector. I am pretty certain Andy enjoyed that a whole lot.
The night before we readied for bed and I took one last look at the weather forecast. Low: 34. It had been 36. I stepped outside in my nightgown. It felt like frost. Clear, still and cold. I summoned my husband out of bed. We slipped into puffy coats and gathered tarps, sheets and blankets in the oily black night, puffs of breath floating into the light of our head lamps as we laughed at us. Every year, we said. Every year we are out here at 10pm doing this. And it was a good thing. Jack rolled in that night.
I spent the next few days grabbing the last reds, yellows and greens. By my side, the chickens went wild in the forbidden plot, eyeing me sideways, cautious of my suddenly lawless ways.
Margot and Ruby made up some sort of kale survivalist game that involved a ship and bubble gum.
Last week our daughters found a little stash of keys in a drawer. Sure! I said. You can play with those. They crafted a tale of hidden treasures with locks and went searching, keys in hand. Lo, they discovered the recently installed vintage file drawers in our kitchen. Sure! I said. See if you can lock and unlock those drawers.
Giggles and squeals. It worked! They cried. I was making dinner, they were right blow my feet; sometimes on my feet. I smiled at their imaginations. Later, we discovered they had indeed locked all the cabinets. After 30 minutes, we determined they were unable to be unlocked with the same keys, bobby pins or tiny sharp knives.
Andy watched youtube videos of a teenager picking a high school locker while whispering and another of a dark, raspy talker wearing leather gloves using a flashlight held in his teeth. Nothing worked. And so, my man sawed his way in there.
Our friend and employee had a heart attack last week. She is doing great, thankfully. Stopping hearts really sharpen perspective.
In the costco parking lot with my kids, I heaved groceries into the trunk. Next to us, a woman did the same. She came over with a smile and said, Your skirt is great. And I just wanted to let you know that YOU look fabulous in that skirt. It was a such a lovely compliment. A noticable twist on the common I like your ____. Next time I see a purse or earrings or a sweater I dig I will tell the person they wear it well, they make it shine.
House projects tend to dominate time and energy (input and output). The kids are great until they’re not. Until they are over it, having helped in every way, played every game, pieced every puzzle, dressed in every gown, read every book. On Sunday, they reached this place and they stood 1/4 inch from our bodies and asked every question they could think of while tugging on our limbs.
Andy finally said to me, We need to stop. We are failing. This isn’t fun. I agreed and so he kept working and I took off with the kids because I knew leaving the scene was out best chance at unobstructed play. We played for hours. I feel so lucky for that reset button that is always available to us. Play. It really is so simple.
Andy laid the new floor in the bathroom in one long, hard day. I was on ‘everything else’ duty. After dinner, after the sun was down, we watched more youtube videos, this time about reinstalling toilets. Andy trekked out to Lowes for the parts. He returned and disappeared into the bathroom. A few minutes later I heard hard whispered frustration. You only get one shot, he said. I think I missed the seal. If I pull it off we need another.
I asked how we will know. I think it will leak like crazy, he said. And so, I grabbed the mop and bucket and stood at attention, by his side, as he turned on the water. And flushed and flushed. Sealed! We made our one shot.
^ our guest room bed currently holds all of our bathroom contents ^
^ our side yard currently holds our old bathroom and Ruby’s bike that our friend backed over ^
One shot. That just seems so unfair, unforgiving. I was afraid to even touch the toilet until many successful flushes. Eventually, it earned back my trust.
The weekend ended with a working toilet, a nonhazardous bathroom floor, a kitchen piled with garden produce, four tired and happy humans and a set of old lockers that about sent my thrift-loving soul into another galaxy.
^ a little peak at before and ‘in between’ ^
For better or worse, those lockers blazed a whole new bathroom journey. It’s a good thing Andy finds me irresistible.
In the kitchen, tomatoes reduce. In the living room, the first fire is lit. In the bedrooms, we shuffle through piles to find bedtime stories and sleep. In the garden, plant cell walls give in to savasana. In the garage, sparks fly as crusty old metal bends into new shape. And in our hearts, life.
^ photos by Margot and Ruby ^