Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Snowpocalypse Continues, and What I've Been Up to for 8 Months

Well, here is my first post of what I hope will be a month of daily postings. I decided that is the only way to get back into the habit of blogging and catching up with all my blogger friends and their posts as well.

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.

If you are living anywhere in the Northeast, or even many parts of the South, you know this has been the Winter from Hell. I haven't seen this much snow since maybe the mid-90s.

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, 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.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful renovations! -Ginny

Sherry Peyton said...

Oh Mimi, you have been busy...we are planning a kitchen make-over and oh my it sounds like we are in for it. We're going to the home and garden show next friday and hopefully talk to some kitchen experts to see what is possible with our budget. I wish this damn snow would depart so you can resume a normal life. I totally envy you the delivered groceries...what a blessing that is...Glad all are well and happy even though you are locked down..I've become quite a crafter recently...really gotten into it..hoping to open an eclectic Etsy store in a few months when I have more to offer. I'm still making things for myself, glad you are back with us...I've been waiting!

Mauigirl said...

Thanks Ginny! It was worth it!
Sherry - Looking forward to seeing your craft creations and to hear what you end up doing with your kitchen!

Amanda said...

The kitchen and bathroom look amazing! Now I understand the picture of the table in the middle of the kitchen that you'd posted on Facebook :)

Our kitchen is the original "contractor's kitchen" from when the house was built in the mid 1980's. The cabinets are particle board covered with this papery stuff... ick. Oh well, it's functional and someday we'll get it to look a bit less dated.

Kulkuri said...

Your bath and kitchen remodels turned out nice.

Pitbulls are friendly with people but tend to see other animals as lunch. My neighbor has a Pitt and two Pitt-Boxer crosses. They are overly friendly towards people, but I wouldn't drop a cat into the mix.

Mauigirl said...

Amanda, thanks. Mid-80s would have been awesome if our previous kitchen had been that recent. It was done by the owners (without professional help) probably back in the 60s or so. The cabinets were solid wood but the Formica countertop did not fit well and the whole setup seemed too low slung because of the dropped ceiling. It's so nice now to have the ceiling back up where it belongs! Kulkuri, our other dog, who is also a pit bull, is great with cats and gets along with most other dogs (with a few exceptions, just like anyone!). They are all individuals. :-) We think Angel's problem is she wasn't socialized with other animals when she was young because she was probably kept in a basement and just used for breeding. She has made great progress since we have had her in terms of her overreactivity to other animals, but still isn't there yet when it comes to our cat!

jadedj said...

Looking good. Having survived a major kitchen/bathroom renovation myself, I can empathize with you.

My next door neighbor has a pit...not so nice, however. It is very aggressive when kids just walk by on the sidewalk. I'm not so sure the neighbor is in full control of the dog. Fortunately, except for a crack in the gate, her yard is wood fenced in. From what I understand, it is a rescue dog, that is to say it was taken from it's original owners because they abused the dog. It definitely still has some issues.

KGMom said...

Wow, MG. You have been busy busy busy. Very cool to see the end result. Sounds like the structural issues would have been very intimidating.
The snow will melt--repeat several times.

Liz Hinds said...

All your renovations look great! And what a transformation in Angel. I love that she and Baxter manage to co-exist in spite of their differences.

Good luck with all that snow. We've had the wetter version but not so badly.

Mauigirl said...

Jadedj, I hope the neighbor is trying to train the dog out of those behaviors, which may be left from its unfortunate experiences before they got the dog. We had a trainer work with Angel for a long time to get her more calm in the presence of other dogs. It may just be the dog barks and sounds aggressive because he or she can't see who is going by and it is frustrating to the dog. KGMom, thank you for the encouragement, I do believe the snow will melt, and will repeat that periodically! Liz, thanks, and yes, the two are at least coexisting, if not in the same room. I have heard you all have had some nasty weather this past several months with lots of wind. Hope you have all survived it well!

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