One reason for my long absence is, for the second half of last year we were living in a condition of total chaos as our kitchen was being totally renovated.
It all started about a year ago when we decided to renovate our upstairs bathroom, which had deteriorated to the point that we truly expected the tub to land downstairs on top of the kitchen stove at some point. Tiles had fallen off the tub wall to reveal that there was no actual wall behind them. Things were not good.
The configuration of the bathroom was horrendous as well - it was claustrophobic and dated to the 1940s or 50s, we believe.
So we contracted with a local kitchen and bath contractor and started on the bathroom. It was to be a full rip-out, and they would be turning the tub crossways under the window to make the room more spacious.
Once they ripped everything out, they found, no surprise to us, that all the joists needed to be replaced and/or reinforced since they were rotting from water leakage over many years. This meant ripping out the kitchen ceiling to be able to get underneath the joists.
Now, the kitchen ceiling was a problem to begin with. It was a dropped ceiling, and we had long known that above that was a long-ago disaster of some sort, as there were two layers of plaster ceiling above it that had obviously collapsed at some point. All of the later plumbing had been piped in below the plaster ceiling and above the dropped ceiling.
To make a long story short, the bathroom turned out great. The change was amazing.
But before the contractor did anything about closing up the kitchen ceiling, he said, "Um, since your ceiling is already all torn apart, if you were ever thinking of redoing your kitchen, now might be the time to do it."
DH and I looked at each other, thinking about the fact that some day we may want to sell the house, and the current kitchen just didn't cut it. It should be noted I'd also been watching a lot of HGTV recently. We decided to go for it.
We had to take everything out of the kitchen and the pantry. I had no idea how much STUFF we had stuffed into the cabinets. It all went in boxes. I tried to separate out stuff we didn't need anymore or was too old and gross to keep, from stuff we wanted to keep. The boxes went in the living room, the dining room, and the sun porch where we hang out and watch TV.
The boxes stayed there from the end of August to the end of December. No cooking could take place so we spent a lot of time up at the cabin or eating out.
When we were at home, DH would go out and buy McDonalds Egg McMuffins for breakfast on weekends and I was hitting Dunkin' Donuts for a bagel and coffee during the week. Every day around 8 a.m. the Men would come to work on the kitchen. We got to know a lot of the Men. The dogs loved all of them, and they loved the dogs too, luckily. The cat mostly hid under the bed.
Finally just before the holidays, it was all complete, even the painting. And then we had to put everything away. We managed to give away all the stuff that we wanted to give away (thank goodness the veterans and the Lupus Foundation keep calling me to see if I have anything to donate - I kept saying yes and making sure I had boxes to put out for them).
In the end we had gotten rid of our pantry and replaced it with a powder room. We finally have a first floor bathroom, and now that we have it, I can't imagine how we lived here for 27 years without one.
The rest of the pantry was converted into a deep closet, which we are using as a smaller version of the pantry - we put a set of shelves from Ikea that we'd had in our pantry into the back of the closet, so all the extra cans and boxes, pet food, paper plates and whatnot can go there. The rest of the closet has room for the vacuum cleaner and other cleaning items. We put hooks on the back of the door for coats, since we usually come in the back door.
We like our new kitchen so much we put a small table in the middle so we could eat dinner there and sit and stare at it in wonder. I've even been cooking more as a result of having a brand new stove, and refrigerator that actually is in the same room as the stove and sink! The old configuration required that our fridge be in the pantry, which was quite inconvenient!
So. That is what kept us occupied last fall and early winter.
Then the snow came.
Of course, there were snowstorms in more recent years, including 2011 when our dog Angel showed up in our driveway at 8:30 at night on February 10. I wrote about her briefly at the time, but I don't believe I shared the full story of how she was found.
When we first saw her, she came from behind a huge snowbank at the end of our driveway, just as we got out of our car. We had been to an "elegant dining" event at my mother-in-law's nursing home and were just getting home. As I stepped out of the car, I heard DH say, "Well, hello little pit, where did you come from?" And then this very thin white and gray pit bull with cruelly cropped ears and hanging teats, who had obviously recently had puppies, timidly approached him.
She let us both pat her and the next thing you know she was following us up the front steps. The forecast was for the temperature to plummet to 17 degrees overnight. What could we do but bring her in?
Diva started barking when she heard and smelled a strange dog, but we were able to hustle the new arrival into the kitchen and keep her there with gates overnight. We started off the next day by giving her a much-needed bath and clipping her over-long nails. Here is what she looked like right after we found her.
We then took her to the vet and learned she had mange and had to have shots of ivermectin and special medicated baths. After a few days it became clear that she was now our dog. She wasn't going anywhere and we had fallen in love with her by then. We think she was used for breeding and then dumped when the last puppies were gone.
We learned later on that she had approached another house in our neighborhood just before we came home, and they had not let her in. At that point she must have seen our car drive up and ran up the street to greet us.
We named her Angel because she came out of the dark like a white apparition. Her personality matches the description as well, since she is as sweet as can be and all she ever wants to do is sit as close to her people as possible. In the beginning she would run out in the yard to do her business and run right back in again as if she was afraid she might get locked out.
Now, after three years, she is much more confident. She and Diva have become great friends and make a wonderful team; especially when they're begging for food! And, she's not skinny anymore!
Of course, things aren't completely perfect. Angel has a very strong prey drive and apparently wants to eat our cat Baxter. He has to stay upstairs now, separated from Angel, as we still have not managed to train her out of trying to chase him.
However, Baxter and Diva sleep on the bed with us at night, so he does get his share of attention. Plus we have been bringing him up to our cabin in the Adirondacks when we were still going up there - he actually seems to enjoy it. He gets the whole loft to himself and can look down on whatever we are doing and lord it over the dogs.
So, anyway, back to the snow.
Sunday night we are supposed to get yet another snowstorm, and I really don't know if I can face it. Here it is, March 1, with possibly 8-12 inches of snow bearing down on us. Many other years we've been able to go up to the cabin by this time of year, but not this time. It has been so cold that we haven't been able to go there since early December. We truly have cabin fever this year, in more ways than one!
|Picture courtesy of BitStrips(R)|
So basically I've been a hermit for the past several months. I sit around most of the day on Facebook; it's amazing how fast the day goes. While Facebook is indeed a big time-sucker, on the other hand most of my Facebook friends post links to interesting articles and news items, which I find very educational. Plus I have some really good discussions with many of them. (Of course, that's because a lot of my Facebook friends I first met through the blogging world!)
I haven't even gone out to go grocery shopping if I can help it. I have discovered the joys of Peapod, the grocery delivery service used by Stop-n-Shop. It is remarkably reasonable - only $6.96 for delivery of all orders over $100, which is easy to reach with very little effort! Plus you give the driver a tip. But it's worth it to have it all delivered to my door, especially when there are heavy things like cat litter or bird seed! Too bad there isn't a wine delivery service as well!
I also keep busy with local goings-on. I write articles about my town's council meetings and occasionally planning, zoning or other board meetings, for a local blog called Baristanet.com, which includes news, restaurant reviews, and other information about several towns in our area. My mother would be happy I'm finally doing something with my communications degree, for what it's worth.
There has certainly been no shortage of news in our town. We've become a national spectacle because of an incident where our local police were caught on video pulling a car over on the highway and then proceeding to beat up the driver. All the facts have not come out yet, but the video is pretty clear that the man was being hit even after he was in handcuffs, and that his hands were up when the police first approached the car. This came on the heels of another scandal where the acting police chief accused one of the councilmen of trying to coerce favors from him. Both incidents are now under investigation by the county prosecutor's office. So, never a dull moment in our little town.
I think I have caught you up on the main events in my life for now. Next time I may have Baxter post! I know he is very popular with all his fans, and he has lots to talk about, I am sure, after all this time.