Friday, July 31, 2009

Good Enough For Me!

While I've been waiting for the plumber and the electrician to complete their portion of the job so that city inspection can take place, I've been painting the woodwork on my windows. No easy task to accomplish as I've found that three coats are required, therefore I've had plenty of thinking time. So, here's where my mind's been drifting....

"The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." ~ William Wordsworth ~

I think alot about friends and relatives who have taught me lessons or been examples of virtues or personality traits I admire. One of which is my Aunt Marge. The following is a rough sketch I drew as a preliminary for her portrait (which, of course, I gave to her).

I'll tell you what I learned from Aunt Marge ... She had so much love, emotion, and sentimentality contained within her for people that you felt her hug long before she actually accomplished the feat. I still can smile remembering an Auntie Marge hug. So, no limp handshakes from me, no blase' hugs or insincere words .... Aunt Marge taught me to put out that warmth of emotion to enrich the lives of those she loved.

"You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a fine spirit of hope of achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." ~ Woodrow Wilson ~

And what would Aunt Marge be without her Otto? Uncle Otto was the strong, silent type of man with a twinkle in his eye and an adoration for the woman he loved that could never be questioned and only admired (of course, it was returned full measure to him). He taught us ~ Not to open our mouths more than we had to ~ To adore your spouse is the best gift you can give your children ( friends, relatives and yourself) ~ To know that people sometimes make mistakes and to seek to understand without passing judgment.

"Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don't look back at it too long. Mistakes are life's way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come." ~ Og Mandino ~

Every other year we would go visit them as they lived in New York State and we in Minnesota, so it was a few days drive. They would visit us the alternate years. But, I can remember the family get-togethers we would have playing horseshoes or tag or having water balloon wars with my cousins in their yard. We'd just run wild and holler and laugh and let off steam. We'd love it if we could get an adult to join in and most of the time if we threw a water balloon near enough (almost, but not quite....) one of the adults would up and chase us and then the squealing would really begin. Uncle Pete was a good one for that. It was great fun, those family barbecues at their house. Uncle Otto's been gone probably eighteen years now and Aunt Marge passed more than ten years ago of Alzheimers, the same disease that afflicts my mother.

My brother, his wife and I care for our mother. I am quite aware that we are lucky she's not angry and combative. As Alzheimers progresses, it peels away memories and layers of personality. She is losing her ability to speak as her vocabulary is slowly disintegrating. We are left with her core spirit which is peaceful and happy and can literally be one of the few who are genuinely living in the "now". She knows not our names or who we are to her, but she does know that this face she loves. And, that's good enough for me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hired Help

Here we are nearing mid-July and I am still doing demolition and working on the "guts" (the unseen mechanicals) of the house! I've finally hired a carpenter, electrician and plumber and all are on board to get their portion complete and inspected within the next week. I've chosen a good crew and am happy with the pointers and recommendations they are willing to offer a "novice".

"In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy." ~ Karl Reiland ~

For example, all winter the basement never had a smell. This June, an odd smell started emanating from somewhere down there and for the life of me, I could not pinpoint the source. The plumber advised me to pour water down the P-traps of the drains as it had evaporated allowing sewer gas to seep back up the line. It took one minute to do, and by the next day the smell was eliminated completely

Above you are looking at the wall from the three season porch that I had to remove so that the carpenter could bump out a master bedroom closet and master bath shower. I had already removed the drywall on the inside of the wall.
I unexpectedly ran into plywood underneath the drywall which made the demo three times as hard. That gave me alot more thinking time and I've been toying with the idea of addressing some of those thoughts here. For example, my admiration for the plethora of tools man has devised for whatever problem he encounters... crowbars, prybars, grippers, sawsalls, multimasters .... I used to tease my brother that his candy aisle at the store was the power tool aisle. Mine, of course, is the art supply aisle. I mean, you can actually catch a glint in the eye of a person truly fascinated in scoping out what genuinely interests him/her.

The third photo shows the demolition task complete and the fourth photo shows the new framing for the closet the carpenter built from the inside of the master bedroom (he makes it look so easy...). You've got to admire a person who does a job well. It's such a thing of beauty!

"There is a kind of victory in good work, no matter how humble." ~ Jack Kemp ~

Monday, July 6, 2009

Go Beyond the Norm

"If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the beginning." ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

I told a friend of mine that I was going to teach myself how to build a closet by reading a book and figuring it out on my own. Well, I did it! And, the carpenter I hired to build a closet through a structural wall in the master bedroom approved of my efforts. If you look at the floor plan in the June 19th entry, the photos above show the changes on either side of the front door. The first photo shows the framing for the 1st floor half bath (formerly the coat closet) and the 2nd photo shows the closet I built (myself) to the left of the front door. I'll be installing a new front door changing the swing of the door to open to the right so the electrical switches also must be changed to the left side of the door (always there's a domino effect)!

Every cause produces more than one effect. ~ Herbert Spencer ~

It would be nice to be able to show you everything all pretty and nice and completely finished, however, that's not how the city inspectors will let me work. First all the framing has to be inspected along with the electrical and plumbing. Then I have to insulate and have the insulation inspected. I can then move on to drywall, taping and mud, sanding, priming, painting, trim and then finally I can install the flooring. Wow! And I haven't even talked about cabinets. So, it will be a while before I'm entirely finished. I didn't take this on without my eyes open. I knew it would be a lengthy process and challenging at that!

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch - what make you go beyond the norm." ~ Cicely Tyson ~