Wednesday, August 31, 2011

thirty first

For years and years, even before the movie "The Bucket List" came out, Charlie and I have been pondering what we'd like to accomplish in our lifetimes.

We've jotted down lists and lost lists, only to rediscover lists [several years later] and quickly realize that "taking a tour of a pineapple plant" or "owning a pool cleaning company" are no longer high priority items to accomplish in whatever days we have remaining on this planet. And although it sure sounds nice, the probability of us "owning a second home in the Cook Islands" is both impractical and extremely unlikely.

When I think of the things I'd like to accomplish in life, some of the things aren't things I can cross off a list. For example, "Be a good friend" or "Positively inspire people" isn't a one-time accomplishment and thereby something that I can strike through and say, "THERE, that's done!"

And "Ignite a passion for learning, living and helping others in my children's hearts..." I suspect that one will be a life time process.

Summarized below are the (most current) 31 things that are suited for a list that I'd like to accomplish in my lifetime:

1) Get in to the best physical (emotional & financial) shape of my life and then ... STAY THERE.

2) Run a successful business that I thoroughly enjoy

3) Join a choir

4) Take a photography class and learn to use the settings on my camera

5) Put together photo albums

6) Turn blog in to a book (blook?) for my children's posterity

7) Take sailing lessons

8) Sail the intracoastal waterway from one end to the other [edited to add: the boat will obviously have a motor because the waterway isn't much more than a river in places, which might be difficult to sail. Although who knows. I've never sailed before...]

9) Drive an RV to every state in the nation [edited to add: except Hawaii because it might be hard to get across the Pacific. DETAILS. DETAILS.]

10) Visit all of the National Parks

11) Hike portions of the A.T. (Appalachian Trail) and stay in rustic cabins

12) Take a train across the Canadian Rockies, visit Bannf and Lake Louise

13) Raft the Colorado River with friends (Jessica, I'm looking at you....)

15) Visit foreign lands (and places) including but not limited to: Machu Picchu, Australia, Nepal & Scotland

16) Drink beer in an Irish pub. In Ireland.

17) Travel in a sleeper train all over Europe

18) Plant a vegetable garden [edited to add: and then EAT the vegetables from said garden. It's not enough that I plant them, they have to actually grow.]

19) Develop a passion for cooking

20) Take the family to Disney World

21) Learn to speak conversational Spanish

22) Drive to the very end of the Florida Keys

23) Pack in via horseback to some remote Sierra Mountain location and go fly-fishing

24) Downhill ski in the Swiss Alps

25) Make a significant impact to a charity close to my heart

26) Sail around the Mediterranean

27) Adopt a child

28) Design and build a house (near the water)

29) Dive in to history and tour all the eastern seaboard battlefields

30) Hold my grandchildren

31) Leave this world (much) better than I found it

I think it's good practice to jot down some goals you have for yourself in life. Without goals to strive towards, life can easily turn in to one giant blob of day after day.

So. Do you have a life-list?

If yes ... what's on it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Number 30 ...

If there was ever a time that I really wished that I had a good camera, it would be to capture the pictures in our stairwell.


The stairwell that is still not completely painted and is currently devoid of carpeting and in desperate need of having the hardwood floors refinished and banister replaced, that leads to the basement and has the most awesome HUGE wall that just calls for ART.


But not just any art.


The most spectacular art of all: children's art.


The really good stuff that they created in school and which I've placed in to simple black frames and hung all over the walls, gallery-style. There's still plenty of room to add new pictures as they are created. Henry also has some art work displayed, and he is SO PROUD.


He'll show anyone that comes to the house HIS ART.

Hanging up there on the wall with the big kids' art!!


Sure, it's just a bunch of colors painted together, but it's the most beautiful bunch of colors painted together that I've ever seen.

twenty ninth

Number 29 ...

Next to installing carpet in the basement and painting the interior walls of the house and installing closet organizers and plantation shutters, the best improvement that we've made since moving in last September is the replacement of all our interior doors.


The doors that had been here were hollow and warped and would frequently stick when closed. This would lead to much screaming on behalf of our children who would go crazy when they couldn't get out of a room.


We settled on a solid core door with lever handles. We had thought about getting egg knob handles because I really like the way that those look, but we were talked out of it because levers are easier for people to open. Especially older people with arthritis and I'm all about thinking ahead. The photo below shows what one of the 17 new doors looks like ... this is the door for our tiny hallway closet.


Considering we had essentially ZERO storage space beneath the sinks and the medicine cabinets in the bathrooms are quite small, we were at a loss for what to do with all of our medicines and first aid supplies. We opted to turn this small closet space in to a medicine closet (and overflow storage space for bathroom items) and have been storing all of our linens in specially marked baskets within the bedroom closets while towels are stored in specially marked baskets in each of the bathrooms. I'm really glad we thought to do that, because we were in a bit of a dilemma thinking that we'd have to put our extra towels and sheets in the attic.

This has worked out very well and I love having a medicine CLOSET.


We also replaced the hollow doors to our closets. The master bedroom and girls' bedroom have sliding glass doors, while the boys' smaller closet is all wood bi-fold.


Still up, we need to replace the over-sized sliding glass door in our basement. Not only is this difficult to open, but in the winter, whenever you walk past, you can actually feel the cold wind blowing in to the house. But I've got to admit, my mind boggles more at the cost of replacing this single oversized door than it has boggled at the cost for any other item in the house. In other words, we could either take the entire family to Europe for a week, or we could get a new oversized sliding glass door.


Eventually, we will replace the front door and possibly side window panels. But until such time that we recover from the financial hemorrhage we've endured this year, we're painting them white. Or, at least ten months ago, I started to paint them white.


I should probably think about wrapping that project up.

twenty eighth

Number 28 ...

The dining room.


This room was originally red. Then we painted it mocha brown. Then we contemplated painting it olive green. Then we completely ran out of steam and didn't finish painting unpainted surfaces, forget about surfaces that had already been painted twice.

So we installed a new chandelier.


We've only used this room a few times. It's not as much of a dining room as it is our puzzle room.


I'm still in a bit of amazement that we ever got all that paper down.

Just looking at the "before" photo makes my fingers hurt.

twenty seventh

Number 27...

Following close behind the bathrooms on the list of "needs updating" is our kitchen.


Why, when we'd first moved in, we had planned to do the kitchen FIRST. But then we had to remove a few trees and do some reconstructive work to our chimney and fireplaces and replace carpet in the basement and replace interior doors that would tend to get stuck when they were closed and small children would scream that they were trapped and .... well, whatever resources we thought we'd apply to the kitchen were gone.


Just like that!

So instead of upgrading the entire kitchen, we upgraded our sink.

Or rather, our faucet.


And this has made such a huge difference. While our bright kitchen in California with the granite counter tops, high-end stainless steel appliances and oversized sink were certainly pretty to look at, I feel like I can totally live with an outdated kitchen, so long as I have a retractable, spray nozzle faucet and a little built-in dishwasher soap pump dispenser.


One other thing that we really missed from California was our refrigerator with the built in water and ice maker. When we moved here and realized that we had to make ice cubes the old fashion way, using trays, it came as a bit of a shock. Kind of like buying a television without a remote control. Since we're so accustomed to just grabbing a glass of cold water any old time, we opted to order a water cooler.


The name of the water supplier company around these parts is "Crystal." So that's what we've named our cooler.

But we've added a blond wig to give "her" some flair.

twenty sixth

Number 26 ...

The smallest ceiling fan I've ever seen in my life.


I really love ceiling fans.

They circulate air and help keep things cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.

This is the fan that Elizabeth wanted for the girls' room. I had a little something else in mind, but she went shopping with her father and guess what they got?


Yes sweetheart ... OF COURSE I'LL BUY YOU A PONY!

We, and by "we" I mean Charlie, have replaced all the bedroom light fixtures with fans. All the bedrooms, except the boys. Because the boys' bedroom is the smallest bedroom in the house and seeing as they have a ladder leading to a bunk bed - and I rather like my boys - I'd prefer that they not be nailed in the head with a fan blade when climbing up or down.


After sweltering through much of the summer, we finally found a fan that worked in this small space.


The blades are less than eight-inches long but wow does it move. I'd say that it actually works better to cool the air than any other fan in the house. It must have a Napoleon complex or something, because every time I walk past the room, I feel the need to wear a sweater, scarf and hat.

twenty fifth

Number 25 ...

Perhaps I should unleash our children - and their crayons - on the master bathroom. When it comes time to upgrade the bathrooms, of the three bathrooms in the house, the blue one is currently occupying the first place spot.


I didn't think it was that critical to upgrade, but when Charlie inadvertently pulled the towel rack off the wall one day ... and the toilet paper holder fell off the very next day ... the blue bathroom was catapulted to the top of the list. Oddly enough, as the lone adult in this family who has been known to have seizures when the house gets overly messy, I'm perfectly fine with the way that this bathroom looks. For now.


I'd rather get the hardwood floors refinished (or replace the sliding glass door in our basement that is damn near impossible to open) than spend the money on a bathroom that does it's job.

But my husband has a REAL problem with seeing cinder block through his bathroom wall and is anxious to get this repaired as soon as possible. He further argues that the children have been dropping things in to the hole and who really knows what's down there?

I've suggested he just hang a picture over it.

twenty fourth

Number 24:

A few months ago, we had a bathroom graffiti artist that marked up our walls and then, tried to frame her brother. She struck again, a few days later.


And then ... a few days after that, all bets were off and the bathroom walls turned in to a whole new medium for our budding artists.


"Puff", courtesy of Charlie. Sometimes I think that he should write and illustrate a children's book. The man has talent.



Now we just leave a box of crayons in the bathroom and everyone that comes to visit puts their mark on the walls...


And this bathroom which I had once been desperate to upgrade, has since become one of my favorite rooms in the house. Even in spite of the toilet that wobbles whenever you sit down.

twenty third

Number 23 ...

Our living room.


Our pretty, pretty living room.

I love this space.

I love the warm color and the overall feel.

I especially love the fireplace and mantle.

Remember when it was pink?


We took down the triple track curtains and put up plantation shutters which I think are perfect for this window. They let in lots of light during the day, offer excellent privacy at night and are incredibly easy to clean.


Our plant, unfortunately, hasn't done very well. It was once lush and beautiful, but Henry - the child who would be consumed in the wild if he was a lion cub? He, along with his siblings, have a tendency to break off entire branches and bottom line...

My children are plant killers.

This picture of our plant killers children, is actually a painting that was done, from a photograph, by a good friend of Papa Alex and Kathleen when the children were younger.

Every time I look at this painting I smile. This year for Halloween the boys want to go as Harry Potter and the girls want to go as Hermione Granger. I suspect their minds will change no less than 100 times between now and then and we'll discuss it ~ at great length ~ several times a day. With that in mind, I think a suitable costume for me would be a zombie.


Here is our wall of candle sconces ... I love candles. Especially when there is a power outage and you know exactly where they are. We're all about practicality.


And here is a picture of Charlie and I kayaking a portion of the Colorado River in 1998. Don't we look hardcore outdoorsy with our helmets taking on the rapids?


This little light is actually a star from the top of a Christmas tree.


Problem is, this star doesn't stay on the tree very well, so it often happens that the star will topple off the top of o' tannebaum and impale whomever is standing below.


So, I took it off the tree and put it on this bookshelf. And TRUE STORY, the orange bulb that I put in last December and which has been plugged in for the past (almost) nine months straight ... never once turned off, ever 24 hours a day ... is still glowing brightly.

I think that this little star looks so festive and could be the kind of fixture that you could keep out year round, to cast a nice glow in a room. If not for Santa's reindeer perched next to it, one would probably never know that I neglected to put away some of my Christmas decorations. Let's just assume for a moment this has nothing to do with laziness and everything to do with my desire to keep the Spirit alive.

All year!

twenty second

Number 22:

Another item from my father's house ... a huge bookshelf that had, apparently, been in the Maynard house that my parents had bought in 1963. I don't actually remember this piece in our old house, but I've heard rumors that it was in the dining room and then, later, moved upstairs to my brothers' room. Although I'm not sure how this ONE PIECE monstrosity would have ever been moved up the stairs.


When my parents sold the house and moved to Concord, this piece followed. And when my father was selling the house last year, this piece was going to convey to the new owners. Until I saw it and said, "WE NEED THAT IN OUR HOUSE!!!" Because our house in California had custom-built ins that we couldn't take with us and at the time, we had virtually zero storage space for our children's toys and ack! there was stuff everywhere.


In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have turned down the couch...

We eventually need to get one of those, too. Although right now, we use this wide open space for dancing and Girl Scout meetings and quite frankly, people on the floor don't bother me nearly as much as toys on the floor.

What do you mean you need to be more comfortable when you watch Monday night football?!

Put on slippers!

twenty first

Number 21 ...

Hanging all around our basement area are puzzles.


Various puzzles that Charlie and I have put together over the past 20 years and have had professionally framed. We especially like puzzles from White Mountain Puzzles and have accumulated a good collection of puzzles that are from places that we've either lived or are special to us in some way. When our babies were born, we took a reprieve from our "puzzling" because in our old house, we didn't really have a space to put the puzzles together and also, small children don't do well with puzzles. Take for example the newest puzzle addition to our wall; a Virginia puzzle that we've put together TWICE.


Twice because after we'd almost finished completing it the first time and had less than 100 pieces remaining, our little tot, Henry swiped it off the table, all over the floor.



It surprised me that after all the hard work the triplets had put in to the puzzle, they weren't more frustrated. I think that their exact words were, "Don't worry Mom. It'll go a lot faster the second time..."

And all I could say was, "HENRY, it's a good thing you're a human boy and not say, a lion cub. Because if you were a lion cub AND IF lions were capable of completing puzzles, you pull a move like that in the wild and you'd be eaten. In two bites!"


Number 20 ...

Uncle Roger's china cabinet.


This was also transported to me, from my father's house, last year and it fits with and in our dining room perfectly.

This china cabinet, who belonged to my father's uncle that lived in Maine, was actually willed to my mother when my great-uncle died in the 60's. My mother had always been so kind to my father's uncle, that he wanted for her to have something that meant a lot to him. But when my mother and father divorced in 1979, my mother didn't take anything from the house.

(Except me, because I gave her no other choice.)

Originally, within the cabinet, there was a collection of various tea cups that are currently in my sister Beth's garage. The teacups were too fragile to be transported and since one of my sisters has expressed an interest in taking a few of the cups, hopefully, one day soon - we can sit down together and divvy them out.

We have no idea how old this china cabinet is, but since Uncle Roger died in the 60's and he was well in to his 80's (or maybe even 90's) when he passed away, and he'd had this cabinet since he was a young man, we estimate that it is the oldest piece of furniture in our house.

The cabinet needs some work. One of the door handles fell off and it's missing a large chunk of wood veneer from the bottom. I remember this cabinet in my father's house and I remember that my stepmother had it stocked with phone books. While that's a fine use of space, on behalf of my mother, I'm so happy to have this and am excited to see it restored to it's original glory.

I like to think that Uncle Roger would be happy about it, too.


Number 19...

Items from the nineteenth century.

(Antique medicine spoon from John C. Friend pharmacy circa 1892).


My father bought a drugstore in downtown Concord, Massachusetts in the 60's. Over the years, my family worked their fingers to the bone cleaning out that store, including the basement.


Since the location had been occupied by a pharmacy for almost 100 years prior to my father taking it over, there were all kinds of pharmaceutical antiques discovered.



When my father sold his house last year, my sister Beth packaged up and mailed to us several apothecary items that she thought we'd like for posterity.


After carefully inspecting all of the bottles, I made the executive decision to dispose of the contents and simply store the bottles along with a few mortar and pestles.


While I know that my father appreciated that these bottles contained the original chemicals ...


... I wouldn't put it past the four small children in our house, to get in to the arsenous acid and thinking that it's confectionery sugar, sprinkle it across their french toast.