Friday, November 12, 2010

The Bathroom Post

Remember when, oh, a year ago, I said I was going to reno the bathroom?

Remember how I kept promising pictures of the finished product?

Remember The Saga of the Arch? You don't? OH. That's because I never blogged about it.

The Saga of the Arch
I hate medicine cabinets. I think they are incredibly ugly and just barely functional. I heard a rumor once about a functional and attractive medicine cabinet, but I don't believe it. So I ripped ours out, and decided to build a niche in its place. An ARCHED niche.

Hole left by medicine cabinet
using enormous knitting needles
to hold the arch shape

Framing out the shelves

It's so much harder than you think, unless you've done it, and also have more than the rudimentary carpentry skills that I have taught myself by trial and error (mostly error).

Also, and I don't know if you knew this, but - almost nothing in a house is ever really square.
using drywall tape
LOTS of drywall tape
to fill in the gaps

And if you're me, and are using a handsaw and a mitre box to cut your pieces, they're never, ever, ever going to fit into the not-square hole left by the medicine cabinet. So you just keep adding drywall tape and joint compound and drywall and little scraps of paint stirrers to fill in all the gaps and holes. and you just keep covering it with more drywall tape and joint compound.

And it's not square,
and it's not level,
and it's not flush with the plane of the wall. But at some point, you are tired of sanding, and plastering, and cursing, and you decide that you are DONE. DONE, I tell you!

And after you've decided that you are done, you STILL have to texture it, prime it, and paint it.

And after three or four months, you decide that it's kind of okay that the curve of the arch isn't exactly what you wish it was, and that the texture really does kind of match the texture on the rest of the walls, and that you might not notice so much that the shelves aren't perfect, and you might put some sweet little painted terra cotta birds in the tiny shelf that you realized afterwards wasn't really the right size for ANYTHING, and then really, really love the niche.

And then you realize that you have no storage in the bathroom.

So you buy two slightly damaged narrow kitchen cabinets in the clearance aisle at Lowe's, paint them black, connect them with some scraps of MDF and lots of screws and glue, and then realize that they are not going to screw into the studs on the wall. Ever.

So you go back to Lowe's, buy some 1x4, cut three pieces to span the studs, mitre the ends to make it look somewhat intentional or architecturally interesting or ANYTHING other than what it is, paint it back, screw it into the studs, and then screw the cabinets into the 1x4.

Don't look too closely, you will see EVERYTHING I did wrong, and also, everything else I did wrong.


With doors! 

Here's a wider shot with the light I hung. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of installing that vanity light!!! I only almost electrocuted myself once.

(OH. You want to know about the "almost electrocuting"? Okay. FINE.)

You know how you're supposed to turn off the electricity before you do anything with lights? Well, so do I, but Jules was working from home that day and was right in the middle of something, so I had to wait. No problem. I'd ripped out the old, ugly light bar weeks earlier, and pulled off the mounting bracket. I wanted to see where I needed to hang the new mounting bracket and light and make sure it was centered and level. I figured I didn't need to disconnect the power for this step.

Unfortunately, I forgot that the outlet box STILL HAS ELECTRICITY RUNNING THROUGH IT and that there was a thick copper grounding wire hanging from the new light fixture. When I lifted the fixture to the wall, the copper wire scraped against the outlet box, shooting sparks everywhere and killing the circuit.

The smell was awful and, once I realized that I hadn't electrocuted myself, I shakily climbed down -- yeah, I forgot to mention that I was balancing precariously on the granite countertop -- and flipped the circuit back before Jules noticed that the power was out. Good thing she's wireless.

(Oh. Crap. But she also reads this blog. Sorry, babe. But look! No electrocution here, no sirree!)

So, that's the bathroom. It's not finished. I had planned to put up crown moulding and install a nice brushed nickel curtain rod with a nice shower curtain, and I was going to put a glass shelf under the arch, and I was going to paint the sink cabinet black and change the faucet, and do some kind of fancy thing to the switchplates with silver leaf and texture paint .

But I probably won't do any of that, because we're talking seriously about moving. So I figured I needed to post and brag (???!!!) while it was still slightly relevant.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do you see what I see?

We rearranged the seating chart at work last week. Some of us got new team leads. Some of us got new desks. Some, including me, got both!

See that patch of blue, on the left side of the picture, behind that group of palm trees?

That would be the ocean.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

UFO Update

(I have to apologize in advance for the formatting. Blogger makes me crazy. Editing is a pain in the ass and "Preview" is a total joke. So the layout here is kind of clunky, and I don't really understand why it's so freaking narrow. I'm sure it's fixable but quite frankly, I don't have the patience.)

I went to KnitNight at Clever Knits on Tuesday. (linked to their website, which has been having some problems lately, so don't blame me if the link doesn't work!)

I'm trying to be slightly more social and get out around other knitters. Otherwise I tend to get a little bit into my own head too much. The place was PACKED and it was kind of nice to sit quietly and listen to everyone talk.

I tried to resist, but I couldn't help but buy some of the gorgeous O-Wool in a scrumptious turqoise shade.

Then I signed up for their crochet class - I've been trying to teach myself to crochet but for some reason it is just not happening for me! I've never taken a knitting or crochet class, so this will be interesting! Of course I had to buy materials for the class - I wouldn't dream of using something I already have, that would make too much sense. I bought Cascade 220 in that delicious green you see on the left - (you can never have too much Cascade 220) - and a beautiful Brittany Crochet Hook. (note - Brittany needles and hooks are exquisitely beautiful. I can't get enough of them! They trade places with Lantern Moon as my favorite knitting needles. Well, and the Addi Turbos for lace. But that goes without saying.)

I only spent $40, which, considering my track record at yarn stores, is NOT BAD AT ALL.

The problem is, I have umpteen-dozen UnFinishedObjects (UFO's) on the needles that are dragging me down! So the goal here is to finish them in some kind of timely manner so that I can justify starting something new. Here's what I have.

SchoolTeacher Tie:

This is for my brother Robbie, who is starts (TEACHING!) school this fall. This is the skinny tie that will never end. I think I've been knitting on this for months! I only have about 3" to go, but those three inches of teeny-tiny stockinette stitches in the round seem like 3 miles. I tend to work on this in the car on the way to work. (and no, I'm not driving! That's just one of the many benefits of carpooling.)

Next on the list is a scarf for an unnamed SIL who loves anthropologie. Don't ask me how I know this, it could be because she mentions it on her blog on a regular basis. So I was looking and looking for a scarf pattern that would be anthropologistic. I think I downloaded about a dozen scarf patterns before deciding on this one. I chose it because the pattern was supposed to be fast, fun, and it used bulky yarn, which means done faster!!! Unless you run out of yarn. Which I did.

And here's another mystery project for another family member. This was going to be a Christmas present LAST year, but you can see how well that's going:

I have another half-dozen or so almost-finished, finished but I want to rip them out, finished except for the blocking, and finished but I hate it and don't know what to do with it project. (okay, now that I think about it, it's closer to two dozen.)

Before I go, (likely to start a new project entirely, let's be realistic here) I leave you with a gratuitous cat pic of Bugatti, caught in a rare moment when she's NOT trying to kill someone (she just looks like she wants to.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The following is a list, written down in the order in which it occurred to me, of things that I think I need to accomplish today:

clean bathroom
empty car at storage
take car to shop
clean and organize closet
take extranneous shelves to storage
take footboard to storage
wrap/cover bulletin board with pretty fabric
install file drawers in bookcase
empty silver odds-and-ends bin
design/install jewelry storage solution
hang lights in closet
paint masks
make cute hair things for nieces
finish various UFO's for various belated birthdays
hem Jules' jeans
melt & pour beeswax thread conditioner for etsy shop
melt & pour recycled candle wax for etsy shop
stuff hams for etsy shop
re-photograph everything in etsy shop
photograph everything else for etsy shop
cover and install switchplates
plan meals and make grocery list for work week
get eyebrows waxed
finish frame for a/c units & weatherstrip
organize tool closet & clean pantry
go to Upholstery Fabric Outlook to look at upholstery fabric
buy crochet hooks
learn to crochet
crochet cute washcloths
reupholster office chair
hang shelves in various places
buy a new bra
plan my new career
teach myself how to spin
paint the sink cabinet in the bathroom
install tip-out shelves in kitchen and bathroom
go to Lowe's to buy tip-out shelves for kitchen and bathroom

Considering that at least 30% of these could be all-day projects (hell, considering that just going to a fabric store could be an all-day project!) I'd surmise that I probably can't accomplish all of the things on this list today.

No wonder I don't know where to begin.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

36 and a half years

On December 27, 2009 My Gram passed away. She was 94 years old. I had known her all my life - 36 and a half years.

When I was a little girl, I don't think anything in my life was as exciting as packing my suitcase to go spend the weekend with her and my Grandpa. I called her "Nana" then. She would have been about 63, and was still working as the Curator of Special Collections at Weber State University.

There is so much about who I am today that I owe to her.

From her I learned magic. I learned stillness. I learned an appreciation of the natural world. She taught me to be at ease in a variety of situations, and always expected me to act my best. She introduced me to writers and painters and architects. I awoke to the smell of coffee and peanut butter and oil paints. She brought me breakfast in a king-size bed with a satin comforter, and I sat there like a princess, with my cloth napkin and heavy wood bed tray, watching the ballet of Romeo and Juliet on PBS. I sat breathless on her porch, overlooking a canyon, waiting as patiently as a 4 year-old can for hummingbirds to visit one of the feeders she had dangling around her back patio, and we picked tiny, juicy, fresh strawberries from the front yard that I would drop into my breakfast cereal.

It was she who first introduced me to theatre, and I remember sitting transfixed at the edge of my seat in a little touristy theatre in Jackson Hole. She taught me to order at restaurants, and the appropriate way to introduce people.

I learned to dance. Not dancing in any kind of recognizable way, but twirling gloriously to music. And books -- always books.

It's not all sunshine and roses, of course. My grandmother could be a very difficult woman. The need for others to see her and her family a certain way colored her interaction with so many people, and made for some very difficult conversations at times. So from her, in a strange way, I also learned authenticity. Her lack of boldness made me bolder. Her need to rewrite history made me confront the realities of my own life.

She wasn't the grandmother who bakes cookies or knits afghans. I think she tried, on occasion, to fit into that role, but it never came naturally to her. I wonder sometimes who she might have been if she allowed herself to live without fear of what others thought of her. In her obituary, it said that she was "Always ready with a plate of warm cookies." I’ve been wondering who wrote that – probably she did! I never knew her to bake cookies. Oatmeal came from little paper packets, biscuits came from a can that popped frighteningly when you hit it on the edge of the counter, and most of her meals came about as a result of many little packages that were torn apart and put together. Still, her twice-baked potatoes were to die for, and oh! the wonderful little dishes she had to put everything in!

When I was 16, and living with her and my grandfather, I once mentioned how much I love the smell and taste of fresh-baked bread, and she went right out (well, my grandfather probably “went right out”, as I never did see her conquer her fear of driving) and bought frozen bread dough. Once a week, at least, I would come home from school to see her taking bread out of the oven.

When I look at pictures of her and my grandfather on one of their trips, I see this woman, this cultured, quirky woman. She's wearing amazing clothes, sipping champagne, and laughing with her friends. I look at those pictures and realize she's in her 50's doing these things, and wonder why, at 36, I constantly berate myself for not doing more with my life.

Looking back, I think that everything in her life was a part of her own personal "Special Collections". I don't think my grandfather would ever have had the career he had if it weren't for her pushing him, organizing his life and his work. It was this pushiness that made her so frustrating to deal with as I (and she!) got older.

I wish so much that her need to rewrite her own history hadn’t been so strong, that she could have told me stories about what her life was REALLY like, and not felt the need to embellish so much that her stories were barely discernable from those in the books she was always giving me. I wish I’d been able to get to know her better, that her pushiness hadn’t pushed me away.

I didn’t speak at her funeral. I wanted to, I didn’t want to, in the end I just felt I couldn’t. I’m still not satisfied with her life. I still don’t have my questions answered, and at the time (recovering from a horrible cold) couldn’t make enough sense of her contradictions to feel comfortable speaking to others about who and what she was.

I guess this is my eulogy for her. It remains unfinished.