Friday, January 31, 2014

The Ambulance

"Going for a walk, Harold?" I said trimming my garden hedge.
"Trying to," my 86 year-old neighbor said tying his shoelaces.
"It's a good day for a walk."
"If you say so."
"I'll hold down the fort!"
"Nothing's going to happen. Nothing ever happens."

Ah, Harold. He is a sun beam of light and positivity: hardly ever. Unbeknownst to us, back when Mr. Wonderful and I bought The House, into the deal was tossed a lifetime of fixing it up, unending taxes and taxing neighbors. What's that old expression? "You can't pick your neighbors but you can tolerate them to the best of your ability until they push you too far and you say 'No way, Jose. There and no farther!'" Yes, that's how it goes.   

Buying The House we got lucky by getting neighbors who cared about their properties, who cared about the other neighbors and who cared about seeing the glass of the world as half full. 

Then there was Harold. 

He had all the ingredients for a happy life: 1) A loving wife; 2) Kids and grandkids; and 3) A house that was already fixed up. Compared to me he was batting a 1000. When I'm overworked I often wish I had a wife. And not just any wife but a keeper like Norma. But Harold didn't see it that way. He focused on the negative complaining that his grass was dead, his crop of weeds was hearty and nothing ever happened. Personally, I found it hard to believe that nothing ever happened to a man who'd been alive throughout the 20th century. What about the Korean War? WWII? The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show?!

So on this warm evening while I was pruning the dead branches from my front garden, Harold went out for a walk around the neighborhood. Maybe, I thought snipping a dead stalk off the Bird of Paradise, getting some fresh air would change his perspective.

The bad thing about pruning the front garden is that it takes time. The good thing is that it gives me the opportunity to see the world pass by. First Cyrus, a Persian man who lived around the corner, strolled by and we chatted. Next came a couple pushing their infant in a stroller. Then came the ambulance.


It rolled up silently but with lights flashing and stopped right before Harold and Norma's house. I dropped my pruning clippers. Two fit EMS guys jumped out and rolled a stretcher up the front walk and entered... Jerry's house. The ambulance lights were still flashing. The tension was thick. Just then Harold came hoofing down the street.

"Is it Norma?!" he hollered huffing and puffing as he passed my house going toward his own. Thinking that his wife of 58 years was in an ambulance, I'm surprised Harold didn't keel over with a heart attack then and there.
"No, they're in Jerry's house."
"He's too young to go." 
"Technically Jerry's middle aged."
"He's 30 years younger than me."
Harold did have a point. But in truth, there wasn't any rhyme or reason to it. Some "young" people went before their time and some "old" people refused to go to the exit despite the fact that nothing ever happened.

Harold bee-lined into his house to check on Norma. Meanwhile I watched the EMS guys roll the stretcher out of Jerry's house. Luckily, Jerry wasn't on it. He had an uncle visiting who'd had chest pains and it was that older man who was loaded into the ambulance and whisked off to the hospital. I sighed with relief: Jerry was okay. I sighed again: Norma was okay. I sighed a third time: Harold was okay.

The next day I saw Harold and Norma outside wearing sweatshirts. 
"Going for a walk, you two?" I said trimming the garden hedge.
"Trying to," Harold said kneeling in front of Norma to tie her shoelaces.
"I'll hold down the fort," I said. "Because you never know what might happen."
Harold nodded, his perspective had changed. Then clasping Norma's hand, something happened to my two 80-something neighbors: they took a walk together.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Salad Days

It's sunny.
It's warm.
And the lettuce is coming out of my ears!

My flukey experiment of planting lettuce in the fall to keep the soil from blowing away has led to lots of lettuce. Loads of it. Legions and legionnaires of it! Mais oui!

Every day I have to harvest another head of lettuce because the stuff is growing like hotcakes. If I sold the lettuce, they'd sell like weeds! And I'd become a millionaire--what piece of cupcake!

For dinner last night I made a French onion soup from scratch but because of the invasion of lettuce, I scrapped the hot soup for a green lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes. And it was delicious.

It's only January and already I'm enjoying these salad days! Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let Us Discuss the Fluke

"I did it on a whim", I said waving my serrated knife in the air.
"What?" Mr. Wonderful said standing in the kitchen.
"And it worked."
"What worked?"
"It's a fluke!"
"What's a fluke?!"

I called it a "fluke" but that didn't help Mr. Wonderful understand what I was talking about because most things in my life have fallen into the "fluke" category. Major flukes alone have included: 1) My pet; 2) My career; and 3) The car I drive because no one can believe the thing still runs.

But this current fluke I was referring to was one of the flukiest. Back in the fall after I'd ripped out my barren tomatoes, I read that in order to keep the soil from blowing away in the coming Santa Ana winds, that I should plant "winter crops". Winter crops include things like broccoli, kale and silver Christmas trees, pre-decorated.

So off to the the nursery I went with Mr. Wonderful in tow. I bought broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes and Popeye spinach. It's strange planting baby vegetables in October. But hey, it was just on a fluke. Who knew if they would take.

Well, they took! Here it is January and the artichokes are growing. The broccoli looks like broccoli! The curly kale is ready to be ground into a healthy smoothie! The lettuce is just amazing! It went from small:

To BIG: 

To my kitchen counter! And into a salad.

These flukes were fabulous!

The only disappointment was the spinach which hasn't grown at all. If spinach doesn't grow how can it help Popeye be so strong? Maybe I should talk to Popeye about it. Or maybe I should just plant more flukey romaine lettuce!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cat or Dog?

“You look like a dog person,” the barista said taking my order.
“I love dogs,” I said handing her cash.
“I can always tell a dog person.”
“Dog people are good people.”
“What’s your dog’s name?”
“Uh, I have a cat.”

Before buying The House, whenever I longed for a pet, I pictured a dog because as everyone knows—including the barista at the local coffee shop—I’m a dog person. But that didn’t happen. Instead I agreed to adopt a large adult cat—I’d never met—who suffered from Narcolepsy, a Decadent Life Disorder and Shedding Hair Everywhere Syndrome. Needless to say, adopting him sight unseen was a recipe for disaster or at least the textbook definition of how not to get a pet. But felines aren’t stupid. There’s a reason they were considered gods in ancient Egypt and it wasn’t just because they liked pyramids. 

Sooner or later cats understand what type of person you are. After living with us for 466 days, Jackson had discovered what the barsita knew in 1.6 seconds: I was a dog person. So a funny thing has happened to our feline. He’s become more… canine. 

When Jackson first came to us he slept on a chair, a sofa, the trés soft chaise longue. If the surface weren’t fluffy and stuffed with down feathers fit for the Princess and the Pea, it wasn’t soft enough for him. In short: he was a decadent softie with an oversleeping problem. Now I love furniture but even I like to eschew the softer surfaces and sit on the floor. There’s something about sitting on the floor and watching a movie that makes take-out Indian food taste better. Jackson must have felt the same way because soon he started sitting on the floor, too, which is just what a dog would do.

As soon as he arrived in The House, Jackson claimed a chair in the spare bedroom as his nighttime sleeping perch. This differed from his sleeping spots in the morning (living room chair), afternoon (sofa) and evening (chaise longue). But that too has changed. Now he sleeps on the floor beside the bed, just like a loving dog who's a girl's best friend. Lying there he’s ready to awaken when I do and ready to sleep whenever he wants to, which is still 76 hours a day. 

Finally the other night after dinner, Mr. Wonderful and I settled in to do important things like read comics and watch dancing cat videos when I noticed Jackson staring out the sliding glass door, transfixed. Suddenly a raccoon appeared just on the other side of the glass. And not just any old raccoon but the meanest, toughest-looking creature the size of a border collie, a bear, Bigfoot! As the raccoon peered in at us rubbing its little hands together in anticipation, Jackson leapt to his feet and just inches away charged the varmint. Jackson’s head slammed into the closed sliding glass door but that didn’t stop him. Our cat charged the raccoon again and again smashed his head against the glass.

“Jackson’s protecting us.” I said to my spouse. “Just like a dog!” 
“If he wants get at the raccoon we should let him,” Mr. Wonderful said unlocking the sliding glass door. 
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Mr. Wonderful opened the slider anyway, which made Jackson turn on his heels and scamper under the sofa. Meanwhile the raccoon, bored with two talkative humans, waddled off to wherever raccoons go. 
I closed the sliding glass door.
“I guess our cat isn’t much of a dog after all,” my spouse said.
“Or maybe he’s smart enough to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em?” 

Back in the coffee shop when “Green Tea Latte!” was called, I retrieved it from the bar and noticed the barista had given my drink an extra flourish—a picture of a dog in warm milk foam! The man next to me noticed it, too, and said,
“Cool. What’s the name of your dog?”
“Jackson,” I said with a smile. “And I love it when he purrs.” The man gave me an odd look. But I didn’t have time to explain—I had to go see this girl’s best friend.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lemon Suggestions

“What about here?” Mr. Wonderful said tapping his foot on the soil.
“Too close to the road,” I said scanning the front yard.
“Too close to the house.” 
“Too close to everything else.”

To say that I was being picky was an understatement. But then it isn’t every day you have to decide where to plant a lemon tree that will live for oh, 90 years—give or take. Plus this wasn’t just any old lemon tree: it was a gift that Mr. Wonderful and I gave each other for Christmas. Forget the wool socks, silk ties and spa gift cards, this past Christmas my spouse and I gifted each other wine, a lemon tree and uh, more wine. So this tree had to be planted in a special place, a place where it would thrive, a place that Mr. Wonderful and I could agree upon. Ay, there’s the rub: we had to agree since it belonged to both of us. 

Looking for a compromise I made a suggestion.
“Let’s look at the neighbors’ lemon trees.” Charles and Stephen had several lemon trees in their garden. In fact, their property was a regular orchard that rivaled anything you’d see near Fresno, along the 5 and in all those movies about orchards, uh, like Lemon Tree.

Mr. Wonderful liked my suggestion so we hoofed it to the neighbors’ orchards to see the lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. Posing our placement question to the neighbors, they gave us sage advice.
“Don’t plant it near a fence,” Charles said.
“Or everyone walking by will grab your fruit,” Stephen added. As if on cue, two teenagers stopped to grab a branch resting on the fence, but still on our neighbors’ property, and plucked six lemons from the tree.
“Hello!” Charles called out to them with a friendly wave at which point the kids dropped the fruit and ran away. A passing truck flattened all six fruits lying in the street.
“No one wins when you plant a fruit tree near a fence,” Stephen sighed. Good suggestion.

Walking back to The House, we saw Mary. Being a good Christian woman when she heard our dilemma she also gave us advice.
“Don’t plant it in the front yard. No one can steal fruit from your tree if they can’t see it.”

I never would have thought a good Christian woman needed to thwart thieves but maybe she was just trying to help those fruit-stealing kids to keep the eighth commandment. Any way we looked at it, she was right. Another good suggestion.

“What’s all the hubbub about?” our 86 year-old neighbor said checking his mailbox.
“Harold, if you had to plant a tree—” 
“A lemon tree,” I said. 
“Where would you plant it?” Mr. Wonderful and I said in unison.
“In the ground,” Harold said looking at us as if were crazy. 

When planting it, we heeded all their suggestions and now agree—the tree is in the perfect spot, for the next, oh, 90 years—give or take.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Speaking with the Neighbor

“I like your new truck,” my 86 year-old neighbor said pointing at the dilapidated pick-up parked in the street.
“It's not mine, Harold,” I said collecting the mail.
“It's parked in front of your house.”
“It's still not mine.”
“Norma," he hollered toward his front door. “It's their truck alright!”

I already knew Harold was old, grumpy and opinionated but now I had to add “hallucinatory” to that list of descriptors. I explained that just because a vehicle was parked in front of my house didn't make it mine. Also I explained that even when a truck was parked for six days in front of my house, that that didn't make it mine. But Harold wasn't hearing any of it. In his mind the truck was ours and we should move it. 

“It's been there for six days already,” he said returning to his house.

For two weeks he referred to the truck as belonging to us. Little did I know that this truck business was the tip of the iceberg when it came to Harold's unique language. Not long afterwards I saw our neighbor watering his weeds.

“I saw your pet last night,” Harold said as I parked our real car in our real driveway. 
“Jackson didn't go out yesterday.”
“He was sitting on your pétanque court.”
“Jackson's afraid of it.” No truer sentence did I ever utter than to say that our feline was deathly afraid of... dirt. It wasn't because Jackson was particularly fastidious in his personal hygiene but because he was a real chicken about animate and inanimate things, the latter of which really scared the fur balls right out of him.

After some serious questioning that saw Harold sitting in a hard backed wooden chair and me standing over him with crossed arms demanding answers the likes of which have been seen in every episode of Law & Order, CSI and Judge Judy, he finally confessed.

“It was a raccoon,” he said with a shrug.
“Very funny, Harold,” I said which made him chuckle. He was laughing at his own joke! 

Okay, maybe Harold was not hallucinatory about the truck, he was just a bad joke teller.

Not long after that, Mr. Wonderful and I saw Charles and Stephen taking a walk right by our house. They stopped and we got to swap vacation stories and get caught up over the next 60 minutes. After waves, hugs and goodbyes, they turned toward home while Mr. Wonderful and I noticed Harold sweeping his garage.

“How are the boys?” he asked pushing the broom.
“Whose boys?” I said with furrowed brows.
The boys,” Harold said jutting his chin toward Charles and Stephen's house. Wait. What?! How could he call two adult men in a committed relationship who owned their own house the boys? Clearly Harold was out of touch. Charles and Stephen demanded the respect of being called the "neighbors", the "men" or that "cute couple who loves musical theater". 

Before I could protest or say anything, Norma opened the house door into the garage. 
“Dinner's ready, Harold. What's taking you so long?”
“I'm talking to the kids,” he said putting his broom away. The kids? The kids?! Excuse me, my brain squawked! Mr. Wonderful and I were in a committed relationship, owned our own house and we weren't born yesterday! 

I paused. Harold could have called us the “crazy ones”, “them” or the “super annoying people with all the questions who lived next door”. Hmmm. I guess if we had to be called something, “the kids” wasn’t too bad.
“He called us the kids,” my spouse said turning to me with big eyes.
“That's exactly what our 86 year-old neighbor should call us. And that's fine by me." 

Since then I don't protest to Harold's unique vocabulary. And when he calls us “the kids”, I come running.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Super News


Yesterday the New England Book Festival took place in Boston, Massachusetts. The grand prize-winning book of the festival was Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Moss and published by Random House.

Also, at the New England Book Festival, my book Evolution of a Wine Drinker, received an Honorable Mention in the Wildcard Category. (They didn't have a Wine Category, Comedy Category or Funny Vino Book Category.)

Wow! My book was honored at the same festival as Moss' Salt, Sugar, Fat book! It feels so good to be in such distinguished company!

Wow, wow, WOW!

Thank you New England Book Festival!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kitchen Cabinets BEFORE and AFTER

"The kitchen cabinets' interiors?" Mr. Wonderful had said looking up from his Lucky Luke comic book.
"Yes," I'd said holding a brochure of paint samples.
"Who cares what they look like?" 
"I do."

That's right. I cared then and I still cared now but that's because I did it! Here are some BEFORE and AFTER pictures of sanding and painting the interiors of the kitchen cabinets.

The interiors of the kitchen cabinets had been covered in shelf paper, which once removed left a residue of hardened glue on the shelves and showed how ugly the shelves were, thus explaining why the previous owners had used shelf paper in the first place. Shelf paper covers a multitude of cabinet sins.

I also wanted a shelf just for my cutting boards, so during my grueling sanding toil, Mr. Wonderful built a new shelf that hangs down from the upper shelf. This simple concept rivals the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Now it's one of the seven wonders of my kitchen!

I applied three coast of paint to the interior shelves, ceiling and walls. Since the cutting board shelf was virgin wood, I gave it extra coats, like 76.

Plates, bowls and cutting boards now have a bright place in the cabinet. And they look great! In fact the cabinet interiors look so good I keep opening the cabinet doors just to gaze at the ordered cleanliness. 

Once the paint was dry and I'd put everything back in its place, Mr. Wonderful opened the cabinet doors himself. 

"Not bad," he said with a nod.
"Now do you see why I cared?" He nodded. "You care now, too, right?" He shrugged. I just know deep, deep, deep down he cared about those interiors.
"Hey, I've got another job for you," he said. "It's sanding down--"
"No!" I plugged my ears. "I never want to sand again!" Even with my ear's plugged I could hear him laughing. 

He's so funny. [Said with an ironic tone.] So very funny.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Riding Alone

In the Wild West, the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
Butch Cassidy had the Sundance Kid.
And Woody had Buzz Lightyear.
But I… I ride solo.

Being the ultimate traveling cowboy, I saw a need for a ranch improvement, planned the job and carried it out on my own. Yep, partner. That's how I ride: solo, solitaire, solitary.

The job on hand was one of the typical things you find out in the far west--AKA sanding and painting kitchen cabinet interiors. Actually, I hear they do that type of back-breaking, soul-killing work in the north, south and back east, too. So maybe folks in those parts will know how my arms, fingers and back felt: like they'd been trampled by a herd of buffalo. Twice.

I said I did the work on my own, just like the Marlborough Man did. I know they have those electronic de-vices--those sanders--that will mechanically sand surfaces so you don't have to, which you can rent at Lowe's, the Home Depot or the General Store. But I didn't use any of those new fangled gadgets the traveling salesmen who arrive on the noon stagecoach are pushing these days. I used sandpaper. A lot of it.

To reiterate, I did all the sanding work on my own, like Alan Ladd's Shane did. I distinctly remember a scene in the movie where he's in Miss Marian's kitchen sanding down the cabinet interiors while her son Little Joey says, "That's mighty fine sanding, Shane, Shane, oh Shaaaaane!"

Shane didn't need any help nor did I. Oh sure, some punk kid in a fur jacket approached me because he was as a curious as a cat. Actually this punk kid was a cat. I told the punk kid two words.
"Jackson, skedaddle." Sure enough, he ran away like he had white paint on his paws. Upon recollection, he did have paint on his paws because he left tracks behind and all throughout my homestead. A lot of them.

Finally, I did all the painting, just like Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name". There's a crazy scene in in The Good The Bad and The Ugly when No Name Man/The Good is trying to paint the cabinet interiors but The Bad is throwing wrenches into this plan. AKA The Bad is literally throwing wrenches at The Good guy while wearing his black leather gloves, all the while Ennio Morricone's soundtrack is playing Wah, Wah… Doodle oodle oo. Wah, wah, wah, wah.

The work was hard enough without the extra wrenches but Mr. Wonderful was tired of seeing cowboy me and my hang-dog look working on this shelf-painting project. So he thought he'd be all friendly like and help out… by building another shelf! To be fair, this brand new shelf was something I'd been hollering for for months. What I'd said to him was, "every cowboy needs a special shelf just for the cutting boards". He tipped his hat and after I'd sanded and painted ad nauseam, he added another shelf, which I had to paint 56 times to have it match the other shelves. 

Did I mention the wrenches? Mr. Wonderful was channelling The Bad's badness in the field of wrenches. 

Just as the sun was setting, I realized: this project is done. The ranch is improved and just like the Marlborough Man, Shane and The Good guy With No Name, I could now leave this homestead behind and ride off into the sunset--

What?! After all the detailed, itty-gritty, insane work I'd done on the kitchen cabinet interiors, there was no way I was leaving this ranch! No sir-ee! Instead I leaned against the fence admiring my handiwork and watched the sunset fall where I stood. This cowboy was settling down. Ahhh, the Wild West is a little less wild now and the kitchen cabinet interiors are... gorgeous.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Cat, His Cat

"You want to do it?" I said shaking it up. 
"No, thanks," Mr. Wonderful said grabbing his jacket.
"It'll be good times." 
"I don't think so," he said walking out the door.
"You're going to miss the all fun!"

Actually, what I was "shaking up" was a can of paint, and the "fun" was painting the interior of my kitchen cabinets. Oh yeah! Mr. Wonderful didn't think this endeavor sounded like a good--or even mediocre--way to spend a Saturday night but that's only because he hadn't spent two days sanding down all the surfaces in said cabinets. For me, everything I'd done all weekend was building toward this moment of painting. Bring it!

Instead, the man who promised to love, honor and dip my brushes arranged a game night with his buddies and left me to the paint and rollers. Thank goodness I have my cat! 

While my spouse was cracking open beers with his pals, Jackson kept me company as I coated the interior cabinet shelves, walls and ceilings with Behr paint--color Elegant White, if you please.

While my spouse was losing his shirt in a "friendly" game of poker, my cat and I took a drink break: milk for me and a glass of Pinot Noir for him. Or was it the other way around? Paint fumes do funny things to your brain when the only one you can talk to is a feline who responds with intelligent looks, frequent naps and lots of licking.

While my spouse was buying drinks for the winning poker player, my cat and I cleaned up--he did the kitchen, I licked his fur. Or was it the other way around? Then we both fell asleep in our respective beds. Who needed a spouse? I had all the Saturday night companionship I needed from my cat: 1) My dear Jackson made my life more fun; 2) He gave me more good times; 3) He ate all the leftovers. I loved my cat!

The next morning, I examined the painting work. Peering inside the kitchen cabinets I saw… cat paw prints; a line of dirty cat paw prints that ambled about the space like Billy from the "Family Circus" cartoon. Ugh. While my husband and I had slept, Jackson had gone exploring inside the cabinets. With the paint still wet.  

Unfortunately now my cabinets were neither elegant nor white. Ugh-ugh-uuugh. I'd have to paint the cabinets again in another coat to cover the paw prints. Whose pet does that? Not mine.

As soon as Mr. Wonderful wakes up I'll make him a cup of delicious espresso, tell him how fun painting was last night and let him know what his cat did! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

An Unexpected Surprise

"Craigslist," I said putting a sticky note on the brand new box of never-worn men's roller blades.
"What's going on," Mr. Wonderful said finding me in the laundry room knee deep in stuff.
"Goodwill," I pointed to three bags of clothing.
"You're cleaning out the house?"  
"Garbage," I slapped a sticky on an old painting.
"Thank you!"

Yes, Mr. Wonderful was thanking me now but I'm not sure if he'd be thanking me in the evening. But then, why not? Mr. Wonderful was full of surprises. And thus far, January, too, had been full of surprises: 1) The weather had been 75-80 degrees F every day; 2) The sun had been shining every day; and 3) I'd gotten a suntan on New Year's day. I loved January surprises! One of the best things about January is getting rid of all the rubbish and detritus that accumulated during the previous year… just in time to make room for the junk I got for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa! 

On this glorious day in which Mr. Wonderful had to work at the studio, I decided that I'd work, too. I dropped off a car full of bags at Goodwill, snapped some photos of "For Sale" stuff for Craigslist and emptied everything from my kitchen cabinets. In other words, I cleaned out the laundry room then made a mess of the kitchen. 

Oh, yes! Mr. Wonderful was going to be surprised alright!

But this was done with the goal of painting the kitchen cabinets' interior. Therefore every pot, pan, plate, bowl, spoon, mixer and cookie cutter was removed from its place in a kitchen cabinet and put atop the kitchen table, the butcher's block and the cat's water bowl. I had stashed more kitchen detritus  in those cabinets that now any available counter space in my kitchen was at a premium. Besides Jackson never drank from his water bowl preferring the pool's water. I like my water with lemon, he likes his with chlorine.

I seized 16,000 sheets of newspaper and laid them all over the floor, then grabbed the paint and brushes. The cat looked at me with interest.
"It's time to paint the interior of the kitchen cabinets!" I sang to the feline. He blinked, yawned then exited the kitchen for his 10th nap of the day. They're called "cat naps" for a reason. Cat's take them. A lot. 

As for my painting, my plan was to have the cabinet interiors painted and every pot, pan, plate, bowl, spoon, mixer and cookie cutter returned to its rightful place by the time Mr. Wonderful came home from the studio. Unfortunately it was only at this time that I closely examined the interior of the kitchen cabinets to find them, in short: a lousy mess. Their surfaces were as rough as Jackson's tongue, without the sanitary element. Evidently, previous owners had glued shelf paper to the cabinet interiors, which had left them covered in layers of residual glue making the cabinets as smooth as a pot-holed, rocky road in Cleveland. 

My, my, what a surprise. I couldn't just paint. Oh no, first I had to wash every shelf, door and wall; sand all the surfaces down; wash everything again; then paint. I hated January surprises. 

I went to the spotless laundry room to retrieve the sandpaper then returned to the disaster zone of my kitchen to sand down everything--scrape, scrape.

When you're sanding wood for, oh I don't know, 65 hours, the best thing to pass the time is to listen to NPR's Fresh Air radio show--every single episode of its 25 plus years. And when Terry Gross has stopped asking insightful questions of the newsmakers and culture shapers of the day, well keep sanding, Sugar, because it's ain't over. Scrape, scrape.

I sanded in the morning, I sanded in the afternoon, I sanded into the evening and I still it wasn't done. What a surprise. Speaking of, my spouse was going to be surprised when he saw the "Area 51" I had created in the space formerly known as "our kitchen". But hey, if he wanted to eat in a clean place, he could chow down in the laundry room.

"What's going on," Mr. Wonderful said finding me standing on the counter, balancing on one foot to reach a far corner in the uppermost cabinet. 
"I'm sanding," I said my clothes, hair and face covered in the super fine dust of wood and glue circa 1960. 
"What a surprise."
"I was supposed to be done by the time you got home."
"You're full of surprises."
"So if you want to eat in a clean place, go to the laundry room."
"Only if you join me," he revealed a carryout bag of Indian curry. I smiled tasting the wood dust on my lips.
"I like your surprise better than mine."
"Only because mine's finished.

Good surprises and gifts shouldn't be reserved just for the holidays. January needs them, too. Scrape, scrape.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I'm welcoming 2014 in with Jazz Hands. Whoop!

Hoping you get everything you work for this year! Time to get started… After lunch and a hike!