Friday, October 10, 2014

Random Sightings

     It's been a crazy week! I drive back and forth to work every day and usually it is pretty uneventful. But this week has been different. I don't know if it was the full moon this week, or that I changed up my routes to do some errands...but there were just some odd things going on.
     The first random thing I saw was on Monday. I had gone to get my nails done right after work and then my car was so disgustingly dirty that I decided I needed to get it washed. I didn't want to spend too much time so I thought I would drive through the car wash at the Chevron station. On the main street of our town, between the nail salon and the Chevron, I notice a woman, probably about 40-45 years old. She was walking in the opposite direction I was going. Not strange. A lot of people walk up and down Grand Avenue. What was strange was that I noticed she was not wearing any shoes. And then I noticed she was wearing a nightgown. Yep. A nightgown. It was pink with flowers on it and it looked like a long t-shirt. She was very determinedly walking away from, or to, some place. If traffic had allowed I would have stopped and asked her if she needed help. Put it didn't seem like she wanted help. I went around the block to see her again and she was gone. There are no houses in that area of Grand Ave. and no real businesses...Hmmm...strange.
     The second random thing I saw while driving I saw yesterday, Thursday. I took a different route home from school because I had to mail some letters. The street took me past the Santa Maria Cemetery. As I stopped for a red light I looked to my right and there were two older gentlemen in lawn chairs sitting by a grave in the middle of the cemetery. They were just sitting out there talking and drinking (looked like beer but it could have been soda.) They both had hats on and their feet stretched out; pretty comfy looking. I just thought that was random. Maybe they were visiting with an old friend? Maybe this was a ritual they promised each other they would do?
     Last night, after I got home, my husband and I drove to San Luis to check out some night stands I had seen on Craig's list. (We bought them...they were a good price and in nice shape.) We were looking for the address of the seller, going slowly through a neighborhood. At one corner there was a young man ( maybe mid to late 20's) walking along with a wheelbarrow full of bricks. I looked up the street in the direction he had come from. No truck. No construction. No big pile of bricks. I looked in the direction he was walking. No truck. No construction. No landscaping going on. No big pile of bricks. Where was he coming from and where was he going to? He had gotten to his destination, I guess, by the time we found our address, bought the night stands and returned down the street, because he wasn't anywhere to be seen. I wonder what he was building?
     And, on the same street, we drove by a parade float with a big whale on it. It was probably 10 ' long and the tail rose up about 7' at the back. No people. No real decorations. No lights. The tail was pointed up and across the top of the flukes was a black and white sign. But I couldn't read what it said. So I'm wondering: does this float live here all the time? Was it on its way to somewhere? Who built the whale and why a whale? Did the neighbors think it was o.k. that there was a whale in front of their house? It didn't look friendly.
     Life is random and quite fascinating if you take the time to look around. The more I find, the more I like to look. It makes me wonder what's going on that I don't see.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Kitchen Remodel

     In June of this year we decided, after living with our kitchen for 37 years in this old house, that we would take the plunge and remodel the kitchen. I, maybe not so much my husband, had been planning on a new kitchen for 36 of the 37 years we have lived in this house. I think the beginnings of a plan started the day I prepared the first Thanksgiving dinner on 3' of counter space. Yep, that's all I had. And every year since then I have envisioned counter space to spread out on; to be able to do more than one thing at a time on. Once you put a mixer on that space you barely had room for all the ingredients needed to make cookies or whatever else you want to make that day. And where do you lay out the cookies to cool? Where is the place for another person to help cutting and chopping and, well, anything else one would like help with in the kitchen. I'll tell you: they were non-existent. Being the creative person I am, I made room for cooling cookies by putting up a portable table in the walkway. I planned so that I could do a holiday dinner over several days. Since my kids got married I have delegated holiday dinners to my daughter, Jennifer, and my daughter-in-law Joscelyn. They both were happy to take on the chore even though the kitchens in their apartments were not even as big as mine! And mostly we reduced our fancy multi-course dinners to more simple occasions: meat, vegetable, salad, dessert, instead of the huge dinners of multiple choices.
     Now, I must digress here and tell you a little about my old kitchen. This house was built either in the late teens of the 20th Century or the 20's. (One of these days, I'm going to look it's on my list of things to do!) Life was simpler then. The kitchen had room for a wood burning stove, (that took up probably 4' to be safe) a sink with storage underneath, (probably one of those lovely old porcelain sinks with drain-boards incorporated on both sides) that probably ran 5' and maybe some kind of Hoosier cabinet that took up the last 3 feet of space. That's it folks! There was a dining room attached with an archway between and in the dining room were two doors. A small 2 1/2 ' door to a walk in pantry and a small 2'x4' high door that opened to an ice box that drained into the sand under the raised foundation. Above the sink there were three windows (people didn't use upper cabinets in those days.) At some point in the 60's (pretty sure about the date because of the colors) the kitchen was remodeled. The windows were reduced to one, above the sink, and a stove/oven was installed with cabinets running all along the wall where the sink was. A gold Formica counter top was put in and a really poor tile job was attempted. A refrigerator was put around the corner in a utility room. The dining room, pantry and ice box were left intact.
     I thought it was charming! What did I know? I was 21 years old buying my first house that had an old ice box and  coved (rounded cornered) ceilings, not to mention a beautiful hand made, natural rock fireplace in the living room. It was love at first sight!
     But it was with great glee that we finally had the funds to remodel. Counter space was to be the main focus. Trying to stay true to the age of the house but still being more modern was high on the list also.
     The first thing I did was flip the dining room and kitchen. Goodbye arch, pantry and old ice box. Their time had come. We gutted both rooms, a feat that took the contractors three days as our walls were lath and plaster. I chose white appliances, antiques light fixtures, bead-board cabinets, (very few upper cabinets and they have textured glass in them) a farmhouse sink with faucets coming out of the wall. A white-washed wood floor. I think it turned out bright, vintage modern and charming.
     You would think that after planning for that many years, I would have thought of EVERYTHING! You'd be wrong. The kitchen is not finished yet but there are some glaring issues I did not consider. #1 is that I did not plan for a garbage can. Hmm. I can put a small one under the sink but I don't have room for a bigger one. #2 is that I didn't plan for the cat's food bowl. We planned for his new cat door because his old one used to be in the dining room window, (the last 15 years that room has been used as an office) but now I need to find a place to feed him. #3 I did not plan for a junk drawer. One might ask, "Do you really need a junk drawer?" Probably not. But faced with the stuff that was in the junk drawer I am left with the inevitable question of where to put these items and, more importantly, will I remember where they are living when I need them?
     Luckily, those are my only issues (so far). Everything else has tuned out exactly how I dreamed it would be. I have enough counter space now to take a nap on. I am ecstatic! All my appliances are actually IN THE KITCHEN! All the surfaces are easy to clean and maintain and my antiques fixtures look amazing. I think with a little creative thinking I can solve the problems that have come up. Come on! If I can cook 36 years of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners in 3' of space, I CAN DO ANYTHING!