Friday, August 28, 2020

A bazillion little things

It's been over 100 degrees every day for the last month here in Tucson. Once I ride eight miles on my e-bike in the early morning, I'm mostly indoors with gratitude for A/C.

It may look like I'm just sitting in my recliner with my laptop. But I'm really doing a bazillion little things.

We are remodeling the daylight basement of our family home in Brier, a Seattle suburb. Last summer I found it was difficult and sometimes painful to carry the laundry basket down the stairs with dirty clothes, and carry it back up with clean, folded ones. Aging hip and knee, you know. It was time for single-story living. Since we split our year between Tucson and Brier, it wasn't practical to lease a condo or to buy anything. So we decided to create a one-bedroom space downstairs, with a wet bar (municipal code doesn't permit a stove, because that would define an "accessory dwelling unit," not allowable in our small city unless the lot size is 20,000 square feet. Which ours is not).

The project is nearly complete, and we'll return to Washington next week to settle in and do another massive downsizing. We'll be living in 780 square feet - larger than our 620-square-foot place in Tucson. And one of our kids will live upstairs with his family.

There have been a bazillion little things. My husband Art came up with the design with my input. My contractor son James agreed to do the work, except for the electrical which Art would be responsible for.

How do we create a light and bright space? By moving windows and adding a sliding glass door to replace a regular one. By installing ceiling lights on a dimmer.

How do we add a food space? By dividing a regular bedroom into a very small bedroom and a small kitchenette.

How do we want the kitchen to look? Several hours spent at Home Depot, choosing cabinets. Art is the kitchen person, and he wanted a lot of cabinet space and adequate counter space. He wanted an under-cabinet microwave, a dishwasher and a garbage disposal (both of which I do without in Tucson).

Should we keep the 40-year-old vanity in the bathroom or change it out for something contemporary? Art wanted to keep it since it was still functional, but James told him it would cost more money to restore it than to replace it, so that's what we did.

And so on. Paint colors, flooring (we chose vinyl planking), where to put the cable for TV and internet, what to buy from Amazon, Overstock, Wayfair, Home Depot and Lowes, and what to scrounge from stuff stored in the garage.

I thought I was doing well with the bazillion little details - several hours a day online to buy what we would need: microwave, Keurig coffeemaker, countertop convection oven/toaster, countertop double-burner to replace the not-allowed stovetop, rolling laundry hamper, ceiling lights. I had to create a new address for our Brier place: Jason Myers (our oldest son, living upstairs with his family) for Art. Otherwise, the smaller items might have been forwarded to us here in Tucson, or sent back to the source.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for managing this project 1200 miles to the north, making sure everything was taken care of and ready when it was needed.

Then, yesterday, I talked to my auto insurance carrier. I'd called to take the Ranger, currently in Brier, out of storage, and to put the Accord and the Prius, currently here in Tucson, in storage. I do that when we move back and forth, to save money on insurance. Art had flown to Seattle on May 22 to launch the remodel, returning to Tucson on June 23. The insurance person said to me yesterday, "I show the Prius has been in storage since May 22." Oh, my gosh. I had forgotten to take the Prius out of storage when Art returned to Tucson in June. So he has been driving around without insurance for THREE MONTHS! 

My friend Ellen told me this morning that it's because I'm getting older. I don't like that explanation. I think it's because, if I'm responsible for a billion little details, I will probably make one mistake.

I hope my opinion is the correct one!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The hula hoop saga and the wedding shirt

One July morning in 1997, Art and I decided to get a marriage license. We had been together for five years. We'd already combined most of our individual resources anyway, and were parenting - full time or part time - most of the children each of us had from our first marriages.

Our minister friend Chuck Davis agreed to marry us. He suggested we create some kind of ritual for the informal service. We came up with the idea of decorating a hula hoop and standing within it as we said our vows. I'm not the least creative, but Art's daughters Laura and Melissa wound inch-wide satin ribbon around the hoop and added silk ivy. I went to Michael's and bought a yard each of ribbon in the colors of each of our children's birthstones. 

Two weeks later, we were married on the sailboat of our friends Bob and Sheila Airis. The only others joining us were Chuck and his wife Barbara, and our eight children. 

At the end of the ceremony, each of the kids - Melissa, Jason, Karl, Russell, Laura, James, Peter and Greg - tied their respective ribbons onto the hula hoop. Then they all jumped into Lake Washington for a swim. 

The decorated hula hoop lived in a closet in our basement for 22 years. I'm not a saver by nature, but it seemed callous and irreverent to get rid of it. 

Until one day in May of this year. Art and I had traveled from our winter place in Tucson to Brier, the northern Seattle suburb where we live the rest of the year. We'd decided to remodel our daylight basement to create an apartment for ourselves. It will be light and bright, with no-stairs access to the garage, side garden, and laundry room. Jason and his wife Kalei and our grandson Kaleb have been living in our furnished house this year. Once we decided to remodel, they moved upstairs and put everything of ours that they weren't using on one side of the garage. 

The garage was pretty full when we arrived. Within a couple of days I had sold the office desk and chair, the treadmill, the Bowflex and one of the twin beds. I offered some things for free on the Buy Nothing Brier Facebook page. I took the eight ribbons off the hula hoop and found the shirt Art had worn at our wedding (!). I have an artistic friend in Tucson I thought might create something for our remodeled place.

I set the hula hoop outside the garage. I said, "This may be of interest for a crafter." 

A woman named Zoe responded, "I could use it for a fairy-themed one-year-old birthday backdrop." How delightful!

Zoe picked it up the next day and sent me this picture of how she'd transformed the wedding hoop:

When I flew back to Tucson on June 1, I brought the ribbons and Art's wedding shirt. 

I took them to my friend Connie Remetch. I had no idea what I wanted except for size - about a square foot. I said I'd like to somewhat match the framed wedding announcement that hung on our bedroom wall for those 22 years. Art was still in Washington; he took a picture of the announcement and sent it to me.

Three days later Connie called me. "Come see."


I'll hang the wedding announcement and Connie's beautiful creation on a wall in our new remodeled space. 

I am a fortunate and grateful woman.