Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Your Kicks Here

Elrond signing books
My friend Elrond Lawrence can certainly relate to the birthing process I've experienced this year. He wrote and photographed a book entitled Route 66 Railway which is the story of Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway in the American Southwest. Just as our house project was wrapping up, he was seeing the first copies of his book. Having worked on a book myself in a previous life, I can completely relate to the elation and relief which he is feeling.

Sunday, El's in-laws hosted an autograph party at their beautiful hillside home in Redlands. His wife Laura and daughter Kathryn were on hand, having contributed to the book themselves. It was a lovely event and I couldn't be happier for them and their superb achievement.

Kathryn, Laura and Elrond

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grace and Insanity


We moved into our house last Saturday, October 18. Most people my age (at least the saner ones) hire professionals to do the packing, lifting, and hauling. Since I have been declared insane by any number of people, I've chosen (or been forced into) a different path. So armed with a rental truck and an army of friends and family (including both sons-in-law) we cleared out the apartment and most of the storage unit and filled the house with boxes and furniture that looks much too shabby for the walls that now surround it. Reinforcements arrived around noon and the early birds headed off to salvage what was left of their weekend.
By sundown, I was whupped! I really am too old for this…

A friend from church brought dinner over to the house that evening. So there we were, gathered around the dinner table that we'd retrieved from storage, holding hands, ready to say grace and it hit me--we were home. An entirely overwhelming sense of gratitude swept over me with the effect that my prayer of thanksgiving sounded like the voice of an alien from my thick throat. But if I were asked to select the 10 best moments in my life, this would be near the top of the list.

I think my next move will be posthumous (just strap me to the appliance dolly and try not to scratch that corner in the hallway).

But wait, there's more. Sunday, October 19 was Amy's birthday. Her 50th. Wouldn't you think that by spending a quarter mil on her present that I'd done enough? Perhaps, but you forget…I'm insane. So two weeks ago when we were able to pin down the moving date, I started planning a surprise birthday party for her…at the house! A few hastily composed invitations passed out at church and a few emails to her co-workers did the trick. I made people fully aware of the situation, summed up with the statement, "It'll be chaos, but it'll be fun."

It was chaos. It was fun.

How often does something come off almost exactly the way it was envisioned? This sure did, thanks to a lot of help from Amy's sister Luanne, my Mom and lot of friends and family who brought refreshments and gifts. In all, about 70 people came! To be honest, I didn't expect half that many, but I was too busy to count the RSVPs. My top ten list of moments was now as crowded as the house.

We found out several things at that point.

1. The house can handle a party.

2. As good it looked up to that point, the house looked even better full of people.

3. I sometimes forget to take pictures at important events.

I suspect that many women would have been appalled at the prospect of having so many people over to the house with packing boxes all over the place and nothing but dirt in the yard.

But that's one of the things I love about Amy.

She is as insane as I am!

Amy's sister Leslie, Amy, my Mom, Amy's sister Luanne.

Amy and her Mom

Blowing out the candles


Insanity squared

John, Emily (are those my glasses?), Amy and I catch a breath after the party.

Thanks to Jacqueline Shirley who once worked at Hughes Aircraft with Amy and now works with me at Santa Ana College for the photographs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Kitchen

Despite all appearances, Amy and I are both frugal folks. Yet given the opportunity to have, or create something nice for a reasonable price, we'll go for it. 

While designing the kitchen for the remodeling project, we decided to make sure that the kitchen was a nice place to work and hang out, and so were a bit more extravagant here than normal. No, we didn't get carried away buying appliances, in fact the 7 year old oven was reused from our old kitchen, and thus dictated that all of our other kitchen appliances would be white. Our 10 year old refrigerator still doing its job in our temporary apartment will also lend its touch of familiarity to our new cooking space.

We went top drawer with the cabinets and countertops (Kraftmaid and Silestone respectively) and made a last minute change by replacing the vent hood over the cooktop with a microwave/vent hood for only an additional $100. We saved some valuable countertop real estate in the process.

Today, the appliances and plumbing fixtures should be installed and we'll cook our first meal there tonight or tomorrow, before we've moved in. 

After that, I'm sure Amy and I will be arguing over who gets to do the cooking!

The Old Kitchen

The New Kitchen

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Details, Details, Details

We will be moving back into our house this coming Saturday! Seems like there are a million details left to handle, but some of them can wait until a lazy Saturday morning when we wake up in our new bedrooms, make coffee and breakfast, read the paper and pull out the to-do list. I actually look forward to working on the place at such a pace.

Meanwhile, the things that I was responsible to do are largely finished. That I survived the process of laying 1,000 sq. ft. of narrow plank laminate flooring is a testament to good knee pads, ibuprofen, … and family and friends who have been praying for us and our project! Most professional floor installers my age are retired, and in terms of my career as a floor layer, I am too, but I wouldn't trade the experience and satisfaction of having done it myself (with help of course) for anything.

I'm looking forward to hanging artwork on the walls, beginning the landscaping work, hosting back yard barbecues and living room Bible studies, and having the grandkids over to spend the night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Finishing the Job

Living Room, looking into the den/office

Our long ordeal/adventure is nearly done. There is still plenty of finishing work to complete. I seriously underestimated the amount of time necessary to lay down 1200 square feet of laminate flooring. I had planned to do the entire job in 3 days last weekend, but instead got a small hallway and the master bedroom (about 20% of the total) done. I've arranged for a 4 day weekend coming up and using our experience and hard-earned skills, hope to finish that job by the end of next Monday.

Bedroom with floor installed

We're still awaiting the installation of the kitchen countertops. Meanwhile the bathroom vanities will be installed tomorrow (Friday, 10/3) along with door hardware, etc. Exterior concrete work, installation of heating/air conditioning, stair handrails are also on the contractor's list.

Dawn, October 2, 2008

The hoped-for move in date is the weekend beginning Friday, 10/17…Amy's birthday is Sunday 10/19 and she says we'll wake up in the house that morning, if we have to use sleeping bags!