Excused Absence?

Hello, friends.  It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted after my recent “big comeback tour,” and I apologize.  I’m sure we’ve each been dealing with Covid-19 issues, whatever they may be, in our own little corners of the world, and I was no exception.  Thankfully, I have not been infected.  I was, however, afraid my daughter was.  She had been sick for more than two weeks, and the Health Department and hospital refused to test her because she hadn’t been out of the country in the past month.  Nearly three weeks in, she was finally able to get tested, and turns out she had the flu but was thankfully negative for Coronavirus.

You’ve also probably heard a lot about Hydroxychloroquine in the news lately.  I happen to take that to manage my Lupus, and even though some rumors were out there that people with Lupus could not get Coronavirus for this reason, several in a couple of Lupus groups I’m in who also take this medicine have turned up positive, and one case was pretty serious.  And then the “fatal side effects” news came along.  So, between worrying about my kiddo as well as dealing with the stress of my medication being on shortage when I needed a refill, and then stressing over the idea that it causes heart issues, my Lupus went into a full-blown flare, and I was pretty much incapacitated these last weeks.

Anyhoozle, I’ve been waiting to get all the other stuff out of the way that I’ve been saving up to blog about so that I could start sharing the “artsy” stuff I’ve been doing around the house.  That time has come.  It’s such an extreme difference in how it feels to finally own a house versus having always rented.  It really inspires me to create.  It also inspires Sister Michelle to utilize all her talents to their finest, such as painting the walls and trim, replacing the plumbing, etc. (among her other many talents), and it brings out Son Jeremy’s magnificent ability to watch YouTube and learn a new skill then conquer the heck out of it on the first try (such as replacing all the baseboards and crown molding).   As for me, my skill is in seeing a space and envisioning it to be something else, then making that happen.

When we moved in, there was a 90s “wall cubby” in the kitchen that was being used by the previous owner as a computer station.  But that wasn’t for us.  I wanted a large pantry that looked a lot more modern than the 1997 build-date of my house.  We hired a contractor to frame it out, and unfortunately, that was our first realization that contractors: 1) are difficult to find; 2) will likely drive up the price after they make a quote; and 3) may not hesitate to take advantage of women because they think we don’t know what they’re talking about.

The contractor who framed out our pantry: 1) didn’t make sure the door was level (not 45 degree angles around the door); 2) knew I intended to add shelves on both sides, yet didn’t add any additional bracing studs to hold shelves (which were obviously intended to hold heavy items such as cans); and 3) did not even tape and mud where the new walls met the existing wall, leaving large gaps.  As it turned out, his knockdown texture also didn’t match the existing pattern size, so I bought a hopper and skim-coated everything and re-textured it (and later, just about the entire house).

After Sister Michelle and I figured out the best way to get the shelves up and be sturdy, she painted and I got busy on the computer designing a transom window.  I bought a thick piece of glass and took it to a vinyl cutting shop where they printed and affixed my design, then I bought a sheet of frosted glass stick-on and applied it to the back of the glass, then had Michelle assist while I built the window frame.  She painted it, then with Jeremy’s help, she installed it, and I found the fancy corner brackets on Etsy (pictured in the bottom photo).

As for the inside, I got some different sized plastic bins and added chalkboard decals and wrote whatever categories of food would go in them with a white paint marker.  For the bins behind the first row, I made additional labels that I affixed to wooden clothespins so that the contents could be seen at a glance.

If you can see the wine shelf above, you don’t need to tell me that the bottles should be stored on their side… I know I need to build or buy something to lay them flat in, but I haven’t gotten to that yet.  Eventually, we hope to remodel the island area of the kitchen and add a wine refrigerator to the cabinet area underneath.

Let’s talk: How are you and your family holding up under the Pandemic?  Have you ever used a drywall hopper to texture a wall?  When was the last time you made a significant change to your house?

The Recurring Chair

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I will share with you the true story of The Recurring Chair.  As you know, besides being a writer, I’m also a professional photographer (which means I am always on the lookout for interesting props).  About two years ago, my sister Michelle and I were driving along an out-of-the-way road, when we saw what appeared to be the most perfect red chair in someone’s garbage.

One of our favorite spots to take a posh chair is out to the woods near our house for some “elegant grunge” style portraits such as this:

Now, please keep in mind that we were both extremely embarrassed to garbage pick in broad daylight, but a find like the red chair was too good to wait for dark.  We just knew that if we came back later, that chair would be gone.

Anyway, the red chair seemed perfect… until we got it home.  Once we got it home, we noticed it had a certain funk to it, and one of the legs was wobbly.  We considered repairing it, but in the end, we decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

In our neighborhood, if you garbage doesn’t fit in your can, you have to call the sanitation department and make arrangements for them to do a non-scheduled pick-up.  Furthermore, these are only free twice a year.  So it’s not uncommon for us to save our big garbage until we’ve amassed enough big stuff to make the call worthwhile.  When you schedule a pick-up, they have three days to actually come get the garbage from in front of your house.

About a month later, we had a few other pieces of furniture and some large boxes to toss, so we scheduled a pick-up, and the red chair made its way to the curb.  After we took everything down to the road, we left to run an errand.  When we returned, we noticed that the red chair was gone!

We chuckled that someone else had garbage picked it as we had, and by the next morning when the rest of the garbage was picked up, we forgot all about it.

Fast forward a year.  Last year, we had a friend who had stored a bunch of his stuff in our garage for nearly eleven months, and we had another friend who had kept a few of her things in our garage for almost two months.  Additionally, my son Jeremy did a month-long (quite messy!) project in the garage where he made soundproof panels for his recording studio.  Furthermore, we had amassed some more large, bulky furniture that we wanted to throw away.

The point is, our garage had reached capacity, and it was so gross, we hated even setting foot in it!  It was time to reclaim our garage.

So over the three-day weekend for Memorial Day 2014, Michelle and I literally spent morning, noon, and night clearing crap out of our garage.  We pre-arranged a pick-up for after the weekend, and Friday evening, we started hauling stuff down to the curb.  Besides things that were just plain garbage such as a ton of cardboard boxes, we tossed several items of furniture, games, electronics, gardening tools, photography props, over-sized picture frames, and other stuff we no-longer needed.  Among the items we discarded was a large, heavy, outdated entertainment center.

We were amused at the inordinate number of people who were just ballsy enough to stop their cars and actually garbage pick our stuff right in front of us as we worked.  One man who took our terra cotta flower pots actually walked into the garage where we were working and asked if we had any more!  It seemed as soon as we took something to the curb, someone stopped to pick it up.

That Saturday night, while we had only just made a large dent in the work to be done, our rabbit died and we had to leave to go bury him.  When we got home, the only two items left by our curb were the entertainment center… and the red chair we had thrown away the year before!  We both laughed hysterically, and were happy for the levity to our sad situation with our pet.

By Sunday morning, the red chair was gone again, but by Monday afternoon, it was returned!

Monday afternoon was also when we were finally done cleaning the garage, and it is still just as clean today without any items that belong to anyone else who doesn’t live here.

The garbage truck came Tuesday morning, and by then, the only things left for them to take other than broken down cardboard boxes were the entertainment center… and the recurring red chair!

Time to talk:  How clean is your garage?  Have you ever garbage picked anything?  If so, what?  Would you ever have the nerve to garbage pick something, then several months later put it back?