Monday, June 30, 2008

1000 Words

MY caption? "Billy Ray really needed a new pair of socks." (Though I also thought "Billy Ray and Cleetus longed for the day when Grandma's only addiction was liquor.")

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I don't know, but I think Myfanwy (Myfanwy the reader, not Myfanwe My Woman) seems, by pulling out "I lift mine eyes unto the Mountains" (sorry for the King James speak) to have challenged me to a Psalm-Off.

So next I am going to pull out one of my oldies, but goodies. (The emphasis and comments are mine.)

THIS is the day that the Lord has made. [Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Today. Got that? Now LIVE it.]
Let us rejoice and be glad. [You think you've got it bad? You oughtta shut up and put on your party face. There are people dying in Zimbabwe just 'cuz they voted.)
Give thanks to the Lord, for G-d is good, [Damn good, actually.]
And His mercies endure forever. [We could be looking at a third Bush term. THAT's merciful.]

Yes, my friends. This is the day.

My Myfanwe and I saw the Sex in the City movie today. One of the characters asks "How often are you happy?" And Charlotte, never my favorite, says "Every day....Maybe not all day, every day, but I'm happy every day." And I thought, "Good for you, Lottie. Not many women in your shoes would have the guts to say it."

I think it is easier to be miserable. It doesn't take nearly the emotional discipline to be miserable that it does to be happy. And it certainly requires less introspection and less honesty.

I'm not saying that everyone should be happy all the time. And I'm not saying that things don't happen to bring profound sadness for long periods of time. I'm saying that, with a little more work and a little more thought and a little less self-involvement, happiness isn't out of reach. And, while requiring a little more effort to achieve and sustain, happiness really kicks misery's ass.

Have a good day, friends. This is, after all, the day.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Cheri, in a comment to an earlier post, spoke of her sadness at leaving leaving the home she loves, along with its coyotes and wildebeests.

I've thought of this several times, each time feeling a profound sadness, the intensity of which seems somewhat stronger than one might normally expect when ruminating on the domestic arrangements of a person one hasn't met in person.

It isn't an abnormal response. I, too, love my home. We have no beasties here -- at least not the wild kind -- but my neighborhood has it's own interesting creatures. (Have I mentioned that the next President of the United States lives on the corner?)

I can't imagine having to leave my home. I can't imagine having to leave my friends. I can't imagine having to leave my history here. It would be heartbreaking.

On further reflection, though, I CAN imagine. I can.

Our synagogue -- which, along with President Obama, is also on the corner -- has been a central place in our lives. We bought our home because it was 200 ft. from the synagogue. Back in the day, we were there three and four days a week. It was the hub of our religious and social lives. We made many, many friends there, ad we learned and laughed and cried and grew there. I can still remember when Norbert would call out "My Temple!" ever time we drove past it. (Which, given its proximity, was often.) We were blessed with Rabbis who became like family to us.

Both Rabbis were treated badly by a small but powerful clique within the synagogue. These spiteful, rigid, soulless people did everything they could to destroy our Rabbis, one after another. After six years, the second of our Rabbi's has left the synagogue. And so have we. I am profoundly sad.

So Cheri, please accept my condolences at having to leave a place you love. I understand. I wish there was something I could say or do to make the sadness go away.

The only thing I CAN say it that, in times of sadness, I always find myself looking to the psalms for solace. "Tears may tarry for the night, but joy commeth in the morning."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Knock 'Em Dead in England

Perusing my blog stats on StatCounter is one of my favorite activities. I don't really peruse the stats as much as I look at the map of recent visitors to see where people are from. I have had readers from every state in the Union save for West Virginia -- and I've been waiting for WV for so long, I'm beginning to take it personally -- and 44 countries on every continent save for Antarctica. (If you know someone at McMurdo, nothing would give me greater happiness than ticking off that last, sticky continent!)

Anyway, I had a reader from Harrow, England. Using the map function in StatCounter, I zoomed in on Harrow, which seems like a lovely little town, only to find that the "pin" in the map indicated that my reader resided in a graveyard.

I hope reading my blog wasn't the cause.

It does look to be a graveyard above average in beauty, if that makes any difference.

If you live somewhere cool, unusual, exciting, beautiful, peaceful, or otherwise noteworthy, please drop a line in the comments and tell me about it. I love hearing about other places, and I especially like to know more about my blog friends.

P.S. I stand corrected. My brother's heart valve was bovine in origin, not swine. We have combined his bovine valve with the titanium plate in his ankle to inspire his new moniker: The Iron Cow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Even Quicker Update

  • Dennis is OUT OF THE HOSPITAL! Prayers are answered, Thank you. He feels great (wierdo) and says that the only pain from the surgery is where they cut his sternum to spread open his chest. And he says THAT only hurts when he laughs! Are you ready for this? The dumbass went in to the office for an hour "or so" TODAY! I swear, that boy is a special kind of stupid. (But I love my big brother and wish the moron only the very best!)
  • Norbert and Myfanwe took me out for lunch on Fathers' Day. Here is a pic the lovely Myfanwe snapped as we were on our way out the door.

  • Speaking of the lovely Myfanwe, she and Norbert posed for a lovely picture at brunch.

Speaking of pictures, Norbert had his picture taken with The Mayor.

Today we took Norbert and his friend, No Pie, to camp. Norbert will be gone for four weeks. I miss him all ready. Here is his annual "Posin' with The Pie" picture.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Dennis is doing as well as can be expected after someone had cut you open from pubes to pearly-whites, spread your chest like Parkay, and cut open your heart so they can sew in a pig valve. He'll get out of ICU tomorrow.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


You name it, I can't find it. But the known list includes:

  • all my spatulas. I own a dozen or more.
  • all my whisks. I have to have 6 or 7.
  • the bag of stuff from under the sink which includes a bigass bottle of JetDry.
  • all the tall drinking glasses. I can drink out of the shorter glasses, but why should I?

Last night we unpacked about 20 boxes. We didn't unpack totally into the pantry because the paint was scratched in several places while they were installing the shelves, so they had to touch that up today. Tonight we will be able to move even more into the pantry. I can't wait.

We ran through the numbers. We will finish up about $6,000 over bid, but $300 under what we budgeted. And the $6k includes the new refrigerator, all new wiring and a new electrical box, all which were not included int he original budget. (Please advise anyone you know who might be planning a major rehab project to make certain the budget includes 10% to 15% "padding" for emergencies. I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't. Shudder. I don't even want to think about it.) We are planning to buy Norbert a Wii with the $300, if we can ever find one. (He's been displaced the most by the construction -- he's still sleeping under the dining room table in the living room!

I promise some "After" pictures soon, but I want to get unpacked first! Oh, did I tell you? I found the batteries!

We are going to work our assets off to have the house presentable by 6:00 p.m. Friday night. I'm making our first shabbat dinner in the new kitchen. Our Rabbi, who leaves our congregation in two weeks, is coming to dinner with his family, and my dear friends Nancy, Ben & their son, David, will join us. I'm making challah (of course! I've dreamed about baking bread these last 5 weeks!), baked halibut in an anchovy/balsamic marinade with red onions and peppers (Thank you, Martha Stewart), mashed potatoes with sour cream and roasted garlic, Sephardic green beans with tomato, onion and allspice, and Ravani -- a moist, sweet, syrup-soaked Greek cake -- with coffee for dessert. I wanted to make gefilte fish from scratch, but I've still got a lot of work to do to get the house in shape.

You know, it would be much easier to bake a cake if I knew where the ding-dang spatulas and whisks were!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nearly Done.

In case you forgot, this is what my kitchen looked like 4 weeks ago tonight.

This is what it looks like NOW:

I've started unpacking. I haven't gotten too far on the pegboard, but I will. I love my new, deep counter, and I love having so much light, and I love my stove and my fridge.

The Screaming Naked Rabbi planter is ensconced in his new spot.

Mitzi loves the new kitchen. She also likes that there aren't people around all day making loud, scary noises.

There are a few, small things yet to be done. The hood still needs to be installed over the stove. A wire box in the ceiling needs a cap. The shelves for the pantry (which I stained myself!) need to be secured in place. My pot rack for extra-large pans I don't use often needs to be rehung over the window in the pantry. And the floor in the new hallway to Norbert's room needs to be sanded and refinished. (Since the contractor has to sand/refinish floors at another job next week in the neighborhood, I told him to save himself a little trouble and just do ours when he had the machinery in the neighborhood.)

First meals? Last night we had pan-roasted salmon filets, roasted potatoes -- crispy, because of the convection oven --and stir-fried Mexican zucchini sauteed with lots of garlic and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Yum.

OK -- I've got to get some sleep. And I still have a million stained rags to pick up before going to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Day Eleventy-Three

...Or So It Seems.

The counters were delivered and installed. Installation was complicated, interesting, and took a long time.

This is what my kitchen looks like:

Look at this counter. 4 inches deeper than normal counters -- for rolling out pastry and kneading breads.

I've had about an hour to do a little clean up and to move the important things in ... the coffee maker, the coffee grinder, and the tea kettle.

You remember Bella, don't you?

The plumber will be here tomorrow to 1) connect the washer and dryer, 2) connect the sink, 3) install the garbage disposal, 4) install the faucet, 5) install the ice maker in the new fridge (pictured below), 6) connect Dear Bella.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts and prayers for Dennis. He's doing great. Of course, that may be because they didn't do the surgery. Long story short, he's been rescheduled for next Wednesday.

It's been a long, tiring day. I'm going to bed. But here's another picture to help you though the night.


The counters are being installed as I write. It smells like airplane's like being in high school ... Anyway, I've had a little glimpse, and the counters are prettier than I imagined.

AND Ron, the Greatest Carpenter In All the World, is currently making the pantry shelving. Shelving which will incorporate THIS:

More pictures will come as soon as people clear out. Ron, aforementioned Greatest Carpenter in All the World, gave me 2 AA batteries so that I could resume my photo documentation of this project. Dog bless him.

Dennis is in surgery as I write. I'm worried, but every time I start to worry, I try to take a moment and just say a prayer. It is scary.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Quick Update

I'm sorry I haven't posted an update. Please pick one of the following (true) excuses:

  • The camera batteries went dead and I can't find the huge box of batteries in this hellhole I call my home.
  • I have developed a fairly debilitating case of bronchitis which is caused by an apparent allergic reaction I have to plaster dust. I cannot breath. I am not exaggerating.
  • My brother Dennis very selfishly decided to add to our angst by discovering a heretofore unknown but life-threatening congenital heart defect which can only be corrected by surgery...currently scheduled for Wednesday morning.
  • I can't go see him before (or possibly after) the surgery because I have a low-grade fever from the bronchitis and I don't want to make him sick. Dr. Maxine said I could go see him if I wore a mask, but that seemed like something my mother or Michael Jackson would do.
But, by way of update, let me tell you what's been happening.

We are painfully close to completing the project. The tile is laid, the drywall up, the cabinets installed, the room plastered and primed. The measurements have been taken for the countertops, which will be installed on Wednesday. The stove is in -- and beautiful -- as is the new fridge.

Still to be done: some minor trim work. The shelving in pantry needs to be put in. I decided to stain it myself, rather than have the shelving painted. (I'm going to stain it the same dark peppercorn color as the cabinets.) The pegboard needs to be hung. And the trim kits for the recessed lighting installed. And the air conditioner needs to be run through the wall. Norbert's room needs some more drywall and trim before they can paint. And we need to have a new lock installed on the back door after the door gets painted.

Oh, and we need about a million dollars worth of house cleaning. Janina, the cleaning lady, comes on Friday...for twice the normal amount of time. And I figure I'll do the same the next Friday. And maybe by then the house will look decent. I'm having our first Shabbat dinner post-construction on the 13th -- the last before Norbert goes to camp for a month. Our friends Nancy, Ben and David are coming. I doubt the house will be totally straightened out by then, but it will be well on the way. Please, Dear Dog, let it be so!

BTW -- my nephew, Sean, called me up as I was on my way home tonight and offered me a free ticket to see Avenue Q with him. I laughed until I cried. It is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen -- and I've seen a lot. I can't sleep, it has me so wired.

But sleep I must. I have to work tomorrow.

I promise to post pictures as soon as the plastic dropcloths are removed from the cabinets and the cardboard protecting the floor are disposed of.

Love, Peace, and Pudding.