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Archive for May, 2010

It’s amazing how much happiness a new kitchen can bring.  Pots fill up faster, pans heat up faster, baked dishes bake faster…you get the idea.  But most of all, I love the giant, white farm sink, and I love the sight of the butcher block countertops.  In fact, I have learned that everything looks a little better — a little more delicious — when it sits on butcher block. 

Now, the puppies and I are off to the back deck to stave off G’s attempts at wasting this perfectly beautiful, lay-out-worthy holiday by staining the deck.  Who stains a deck on Memorial Day?  Memorial Day is for relaxing and cooking on the deck!  But first, the pics I promised!

Here are a couple of before shots:

And here are some afters:

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A year ago, I convinced G that a fence within a fence wasn’t really such a silly idea if it meant flowers could grow without the trampling of paws and the lifting of legs (Linus…).  G built me a fence, and I filled it with a myriad of things: roses, hostas, hydrangeas, lilies, evergreen groundcovers, and — on a whim — a drooping cherry blossom tree.  Honestly, I really had no idea what would grow.  The dirt is the color of potter’s clay, and the space is subjected to harsh afternoon sun and long, shady mornings.

As it turned out, everything grew.  So much so that it all ran together in one jumbled green mess.  I’ve been avoiding the garden this season.  Between the kitchen, writing, and the dogs, it’s all been a little much.  I knew if I went out there, that urge to garden would take over again.  It’s hard to fight.  This morning, we tossed various ideas around for the day.  Already in the upper seventies this morning, outdoor activities seemed ideal, but it was almost already too hot for the dog park.  In the midst of our indecision, G decided to mow the backyard and I mentioned my desire to cut some of the hydrangeas and roses for the house.

I hadn’t done so yet, despite the heaving branches full of blossoms and blooms.  Because I knew if I went out there with scissors, I would end up out there with shovels, rakes, new plants, mulch, and a day-long project.

It’s 4pm now, and we’ve just come in from the garden.  We removed the everygreens — they didn’t really fit in, moved the hostas to corner spots because they take over everything, moved the lily that was getting eaten by a hydrangea, and added three more rose bushes (pink, hot pink, and lavendar) and two bright pink hydrangeas.  Ten bags of mulch later, the garden is nearly unrecognizable from this morning’s leaf-covered mess.  It’s time to shower now and head to Solomon’s for the concert, but I had to show off the beautifully remodeled outdoor sanctuary.  Who knew this little garden could turn out so nicely?

P.S. that blue hydrangea in the first picture was the same size as the tiny pink hydrangea next to it just one year ago!

Some of my beautiful cut flowers!

G even had a few moments to spare to wax up mini monster for her journey south tonight.

I haven’t forgotten about the kitchen pics.  The shots we snapped yesterday weren’t great, and I need to get a few when the lighting is better.  But not tonight — tonight is Josh Turner night!

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What a difference three years makes!  I only wish I had snapped these pics a couple of weeks ago when the roses had exploded and the front yard was a blur of pinks and yellows.  Unfortunately, the last two weeks of pummeling rain have ripped most of the buds off and have caused the branches to droop under the heavy weight of water.  Nevertheless, I think you still get a pretty good idea of change.

Here are the three year later pics.

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G is home today, finally enjoying some time off.  I am shamelessly close to a three-day weekend, nipping at the heels of my prior four-day weekend.  The decadence of these two weeks will be hard to match.  This weekend marks the three-year anniversary of our time in Chesapeake Beach.  It would be a wasted effort to try to put into poetry my thoughts about the house (and I’m sure it’s been done much more eloquently before by someone other than me).  Suffice it to say that, regardless of my mind’s wandering toward farmhouses and open houses, I really can’t imagine living anywhere else.  Nowhere else could be home for us.  I’m due to post some pics of the house this weekend, including the finished kitchen, front-of-the-house updates, and my beautiful hydrangeas in the backyard.  But before I posted those, I thought it was fitting, on this anniversary post, to remember what it looked like three years ago:

The front of the house:

The backyard (AFTER clearing out the jungle of weeds, concrete, and beer cans, and after installing the fence — we thought THIS was progress!):

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I thought to write this several hours ago, when my fingers had spent some time away from a keyboard and were itching to jump back on.  But just when the time seemed right, the sun popped out in front of the house, rewarding me for my patience over the past two cloudy days.  So the three dogs and I gathered our things — books, magazines, water, and phones (okay, most of those were mine) — and plopped down on the deck for some relaxing afternoon shady warmth.  Mom reminded me that I never mentioned the new chair I purchased: the glorious, comfortable Martha Stewart reclining lounge chair.  Whether or not it looks suitable on the deck next to the dining table is really not the issue at hand; in reality, all that matters is how delightfully cozy it is.

It is with deep regret that I report that I’m not special anymore.  Although I’m technically still on vacation until I go to bed tonight, the work day — my vacation day #2 — is essentially over.  My off-day carriage is morphing into a pumpkin again, which is extremely disappointing.  Having four days off at home has been somewhat unprecedented (‘somewhat’ because I am sure it is happened before; I simply can’t remember when).  Even though it passed quickly and was full of some serious labor and hard work, it afforded a full suite of luxuries I will miss tomorrow.

Like falling asleep one night on the double papasan chair in the screened porch when the night air was the perfect temperature for dozing.  Or staying awake until 11:30 on Sunday to watch the Lost series finale, without dreading the next day’s exhausted consequences.

Like spending six mid-day hours at Starbucks yesterday and today, relishing the quiet daytime crowd and the freedom to write, for once, without a set end-time.  My normal weekday capacity for editing is about 5 pages.  So far, I’ve rocked through 30+ pages in two days.

Like being home this morning with attention-needing Lucy, the snake victim, watching as she regained her exuberance for a front-yard walk and as she momentarily forgot to limp when the tennis ball launched across the kitchen floor.

Like having the time to read a magazine cover-to-cover in one sitting, pulling recipes, fragrant rose varietals, and paint samples from the pages of BHG.  Grilled corn and blueberry salad?  Yes, please!

Like being able to do all 3 coats of sealant, 6 loads of laundry, and a never-ending round of dishes (as they prepare to move back into their kitchen homes), all during the daylight and all without the pressures of looming bedtimes.  And enjoying the absolutely cathartic process of moving back into the kitchen, one cabinet at a time, watching the mound of ‘throw-away’ items grow, and knowing life is going to be a little bit cleaner, a little bit more organized, and a lot more efficient.

Like sitting here now at 6:30, hours from Greg’s arrival home from work, with seemingly nothing on the urgent to-do list, realizing I’m not so good at doing nothing.  So while my mind whirs with things I could be doing (redo the guest bedroom! begin the backyard project task plan! write the editors of BHG and suggest a new column — written by moi, of course!), I will force myself away from all of that and savor my last few hours of vacation.  With a glass of wine, three puppies, and a book.  And if the need to ‘do’ overcomes the opportunity to ‘not do’, I’ll make that book mine and keep the edit train going.

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Sunday’s Shortcomings: A Short Story

We tried to play tennis today.  After all the rain had cleared away, the sun had poked through with trepidation, and eventually the streets and sidewalks had dried enough for a game of tennis.  So we put on our tennis best, laced up our court shoes, re-gripped two rackets, and bounded into the car (sans tennis balls — nothing a quick stop-off couldn’t fix).  As we drove toward the courts, a smattering of rain fell on the windshield.  We scoffed.  It wasn’t enough to tear down our tennis game.  When we saw a group of roller blading hockey players sitting on the nets shooting pucks against the fences, we smirked.  We would kick them off the court before they even realized what was happening.  But when we stopped at the gas station and the pharmacy and the grocery store, and not one store had tennis balls, we were close to giving up. 

“Do you have any tennis balls?” Greg asked the checker at Rolands.

She eyed him carefully with a skeptical expression, evaluating whether he was worthy of the tennis ball secret.  Then, initiating us into her special club, she nodded sideways toward a shelf hanging off the edge of the liquor aisle.  “You mean those right there?”

Our heads swiveled rapidly toward the shelf, excitement about to boil over.  And there on the shelf on the end of the liquor aisle was a package of red plastic cups wrapped for convenience with three ping pong balls.

“Um, those are ping pong balls,” Greg said, his head hanging in disappointment.

The checker’s eyes followed his until she saw the cozy, white, plastic balls nestled among the beer pong cups.  For an instant, a spark lit in her face, and our expectations rose along with it.  But it quickly faded, and her grim scowl returned.  She turned back to us and said, “Oh.  You mean you wanted to play a game.”

It wasn’t a question, and we realized we weren’t going to find tennis balls today.  Not with a checker as helpful as her.

So we admitted defeat and bought two bottles of white wine.

Epilogue:

When we returned home, we played Wii tennis.  It was practically the same.  Less sweaty.  No tennis balls necessary.  We made fajitas on the grill, admired the sheen of our countertops — now with two coats of sealant, and gazed with pride at our beautifully-lined shelves. 

So it was kinda the same as going out to play tennis for a couple of hours.  But next time, we will buy tennis balls in advance.

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Almost. Luckily, I can spare just enough words to mention that we wore the same outfit today.  Isn’t it just adorable when couples match.

This is my stand-in for a blog post tonight.  Because I am halfway through one margarita.  And I fully intend to have another.

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