Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bath and Taxes

23 days, 36 emails concerning fixtures, 12 UPS deliveries, 4 brushes, 3 cans of paint, and we are very close to fixing the leaky sink faucet.

All this begs the question, why when they designed this house did they put the nice large bath with the two sink vanity in the hall and the small water closet off the master bedroom. Perhaps because the house was built in the days of twin beds in the master bedroom and princess phones. Seriously, one needs to step outside our bathroom to change one's mind. But I digress.

Now that we have a cherry wood cabinet going in with a brown speckled granite top that we have chosen "antique bronze" fixtures to go on, the only closely matching light fixture we could find was a metal one with a lighter bronze finish. "Eclectic" comes to mind. Hopefully it will all come together when (God pray) it ever gets finished. Then there is the issue of a mirror.

Naturally our first choice would be wood but chances of matching the wood on the cabinet are nil and "close but no cigar" would be disastrous. So the next choice would be metal. Then we jump back into that melee. Hell, why not add a third metal into the scheme and give "eclectic" a new realm. The search for the mirror goes on - I'll spare you the details.

I took on the small window that needs major work done on the finish before it could be painted. After several hours of chemically stripping it which left me nauseated for several days, I sanded and cleaned it until I was happy with the results. Then I carefully taped the glass with the miracle blue tape that prevents the need of a razor blade to clean the mess left after the final paint job. I was pretty proud of myself. Now it was ready for the primer coat.

Not so fast. This morning my DH brings his rotary tool in and explains how he "thinks" using it to "finish" the job on the window will take care of the small areas that need to be cleaned up. Given my arthritic hands ache from sanding the minute joints and I am still green around the gills from the poisonous vapors given off by the stripping gel, I am offended. My initial thought is to go buy a new window and have it installed. 

Last night my DH got the first coat of paint on the walls which made me think we could possibly be in the short rows of this project. Just call me optimistic. After all the plumber (ie the professional) comes tomorrow to finish this job. The final coat can go on the walls today and after a thorough cleaning of the floors and the plumber's work tomorrow the faucet will be fixed. 

Just as I see the end in sight my DH heads into his office. He looks back at me, "What? I told you I have to work on our taxes." And he closes the door. So much for the final coat of paint.

When I go back into the bath (the seventh circuit off Hell) to work on the window, I hear that familiar worrisome noise - the drip drip drip drip of the leaky faucet. You know, if you just turn the handle a little harder it stops, but then that would be much too easy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Not Just a Toilet Anymore

Some folks call it ESP, others refer to it as a Woman's Intuition, in my case it is the freight train coming down the track - you can see it coming long before anyone has even thought about it.

"This was not in the plan," [Remind me please, what was the original plan?] "but maybe we should replace the toilet while we are at it."

It has been a long time since I considered buying a toilet. OK, I have never considered buying a new toilet. Oh, I know that they come in different colors and I know that you can get an oval or a round bowl. However, I never knew that there were so many features to consider.

There are those with a filter in the seat that neutralizes odors. Some have nightlights built in the seats and others have a "quiet close" feature to prevent that offensive sound of the toilet lid slamming down. There the touch-less toilets and the water saving toilets. I get weary just thinking of the options.

Needless to say my DH  had done his research and had a particular toilet in mind (and no, it did not have any of these fancy features). He had ordered it and we now awaited its arrival. 

As I looked around the bathroom, I was thankful for one thing - at least there was not room for a bidet. Thank God for small favors.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fresh Scent Green is Too Blue

"While we are at it  . . ."

Why am I not surprised.

". . . we may as well paint the bathroom. The paint job [which I did 18 years ago] never was very good."

There was a discussion on colors and we both agreed on green. Perhaps there is a god after all. After looking at Benjamin Moore's color chart my faith in the Holy Father once again waned. "Apple lime cocktail" has too much yellow in it.  Well "Fresh scent green" is too blue. What about "Amazon moss"? That is awfully dark, don't you think. 

Finally a decision was made for "Richmond green" and my DH  went to the paint store to get a can of it. When he can back we got a small board and painted an area with the new paint. It was green. It was very green - very light green.

"That doesn't look exactly like the color we selected."

"No, that is way too light," my DH said. "What about this color green?" He said looking at the walls in our den.

"That is a teal and no, I do not want teal."

So back to the color chart we went. And after some discussion my DH pulled out "Amazon moss" which was very dark. "I do not want it this dark, but closer to this color. So ask them if they can re-tint the paint a darker green."

"Me?"

"Yes," my DH said, "I'm going to be out of town most of the day.

So I went to the paint store, paint can, piece of wood, and a page with "Amazon moss" printed on it in hand. After some discussion and looking at even more green paint chips Frank, our Benjamin Moore expert, took the can and went into the back to work his magic.

Soon he came out with a piece of paper. On it he had painted a small patch of the original green I had brought in, then the new green after he had tinted it. It was darker but not by much. So he went back to darken it more.

When he came out, the patch was a little darker but did not seem that much different to me. Then he took the painted board I brought in and painted part of the end with the new color. Now it looked entirely different. It was several shades darker and very close to what I had in mind. I thanked him and went home. 

I walked in the house to find another box of light fixtures, which like all the others we had received so far, did not match the faucets. And so it goes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

This One or That One

Just as we make a decision on the faucet set for the new sink, I heard the words I feared I would hear, "You know I was thinking. If we install this sink with this new hardware, the faucet set in shower is chrome and will need to be replaced. We cannot have chrome in one place and antique bronze in another."

Knowing it was not worth arguing the point I asked, "I assume Moen makes a shower set that coordinates with the set you chose for the sink?"

"Oh they do and I have ordered it."

Because the new shower fixture will be a single circular fixture replacing a two handle type a large plate is required to go behind the new fixture. It only comes in a brushed nickel, bright brass, or oiled brass finish - no antique bronze. This being a major issue, my DH decided he would see if he could find someone at Moen who could offer some help here. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile my DH showed me two new shower curtain rods - I was not aware the current one we were using was a temporary one. One was a dark brown (similar to a dark oiled brass) and a lighter colored one (similar to a brushed nickel).

"I prefer the darker one," I said.

"You can't make a choice yet. We don't know what color that plate is going to be in shower and they need to coordinate."

Oh, how could I forget that?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vortex and Bleach

As we stood looking at the bathroom which is extremely small, my DH commented. "I think it would make sense for us to take out those shower doors. They must have been original to the house (circa late 1950s) and are in horrible shape. Once we install this new sink it will only make them look worse. I think a shower curtain will do nicely."

My comment was, "The new sink will definitely make those old shower doors look worse."

The following morning I looked from my office to see my DH walking down the hall carrying the God awful shower doors. Huh, I thought, guess my comment about the new sink making the old doors look worse was translated into "Yes they need to go."

In moving the doors out everything on the floor in bathroom, the shelves under the sink, the corner shelf, magazine basket, etc had to be moved out. And where did it go? Into our bedroom - naturally. So what little free floor space we had in our bedroom was now filled with what had been removed from the bathroom.

It wasn't long before there was a shower rod and shower curtain hanging in the shower stall. The curtain looked much better than the old shower doors that were almost impossible to keep clean. Of course the area around the shower opening was a mess with the old caulk, dirt, and left over sealant remaining after the doors were removed. Plans were made to scrape all that off and re-caulk and seal any places missing grout.

The first time I went to take a shower I found that the air flow around the shower curtain created a vortex that caused the curtain to blow into the shower stall and stick to me as I was trying to bath. This was not going to do. When I commented about this my DH suggested that I figure out a way to have weights sewed into the bottom seam of the shower curtain. I could tell by his response that I was not being a "team player".

I spent an hour or two scraping the old grout and caulk off the tile and cleaning that area. My DH then recaulked and sealed any holes. The following day the shower was scrubbed with comet, rinsed and then washed with a clorox beach cleanser. After that dried my DH inspected it. "It needs to be bleached."

"It was just bleached."

"No, I mean with real bleach."

"That was real bleach. Just throwing liquid bleach in there is not going to do anything else. There are stains in the grout that may not come out. Remember this is over 60 years old."

"It still needs bleach."

We finally got past the bleach issue when he said, "Now here are some examples of light fixtures. This one is a brushed nickel but I think . . . "

I know they say it takes a village to raise a child but should it really take a new sink, cabinet, counter, faucet, shower head, and light fixture to fix a leak. Just saying.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It Was Just a Leaky Faucet

Who knew what a leaky faucet would beget. In my little my mind I thought you just called the plumber and had him come and fix the damn thing. But, no, as usual in our house it is not that simple. We called the plumber and he came. After looking at it, he said the faucet was so old he could not fix it and we would need to replace it. Mind you I found that by simply tightening the handle a bit more than usual after each use the dripping stopped - but who am I to comment.

So we knew we needed a new faucet set for the bathroom sink. This should not be very difficult given it is a simple small white sink. I figured a trip to Lowes or Home Depot (or something my DH found on Amazon) would fit the bill, another trip by the plumber and our troubles would be over.

While out of town I got a text message from my DH with a photo attached and a comment, "Found this in Costco, thought it would look good in the bathroom." I knew the thought process here - if we need to replace the faucet then certainly we need to revisit the sink and we have always needed counter space. So I found myself looking at a solid wood cabinet with a granite top containing a sink. 

By the time I got home I found pictures of faucet sets waiting for my review. Did I think dark oiled brass, brushed nickel, or antique bronze would best match the granite in the new counter? I soon found the UPS man delivering box after box of faucet sets for our preview. Soon it was obvious the "antique bronze" was the best finish for our needs. Then it became a matter of style - curved, square, traditional, modern, plain, detailed. This is where my "wedding dress" theory comes into play - making such selection is like picking out a wedding dress - they are all white. When you find one you like - stop and buy it. Anything after that will only add to the confusion.

My DH on the other hand says this is the wrong way to look at things. When you find something you like instead of "settling"" for that it only gives you a direction in which to focus your search which must continue. I beg to differ. But, then I would be wrong.

So now we have a new counter and sink that need to be installed, the color of the hardware we need, but the search is still on for the exact design. I left my DH to his research. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Out of the Nest

Low and behold the boy can fly. Much to my delight I came home to find my baby finch out of the nest and sitting on a perch. Now I will say he looked a little unsure and more than a wee bit traumatized but who could blame him. I watched as he sat there, not moving a feather.

I went into the kitchen and when I returned to the den I found him at the other end of the cage with the other birds. Well, he either flew there himself or climbed down the side of the cage walked across the bottom and climbed up the other side (that would have been a comical sight!). I assumed the former. For the next hour or two I watched as he moved from close branch to close branch, just hopping from one to another.

Then I found him sitting on the top of a feeder - not a good place to sit given it  has a slick and sloped top. There was a noise that startled him and he took off. He managed to make it to the bar mid-cage and landed hap-haphazardly on one leg as if his landing gear had failed to engage. From there he flew to another branch in the cage. That landing was no more graceful given that was a swinging branch that he was not prepared for. But he hung on and never fell. His parents stayed close by most of the time. 

So now I need to decide what to do with this little fellow. I cannot keep him for fear of cross breading. Since I personally know no other folks who raise and enjoy finches I guess I will find a store to sell him to, although I do not want to give him up. This is why I did not want my finches to procreate. I never wanted to have to make these decisions.


The baby is the one on the far right.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Single Fledgling and a Fear of Heights

As you may know some of my finches decided to start laying eggs months ago much to my dismay. As it turned out they proved to be very prolific layers and fairly poor parents. Now, in their defense everything I read said young finches take a clutch or two to get it right. OK, mine were a little slower on the uptake.

I have one pair of Gouldians and a pair of Cut Throats that are good egg layers. They are just not quite sure what to do after that. Finches lay one egg a day until they have their full clutch which can be anywhere from 3 to 6 eggs (on average) depending on the type of finch. My dear fowl tended to lay their eggs and then after several days toss the eggs from the nest. I would find the broken eggs on the bottom of the cage.

Not to be disheartened, in a week the hen would be laying again. Then eureka - after a total of 5 clutches and 18 eggs, we finally had one that hatched and survived. Not having much faith in the parenting skills of the parents (my pair of Cut Throats) we have been watching with bated breath daily the little guy's progress.

Twice my DH has pronounced the chick dead. Both times I was able to prove otherwise. (Actually baby birds instinctively are still and quiet when they hear an unfamiliar sound.) Once my DH asked that I empty the nest because he had no doubt the chick was dead and had been for a day or two. Oh, yea of little faith.

Finally the chick was big enough for us to see that he had the scarlet colored slash under his chin (ie Cut Throat) that indicated he was a male. And he continued to grow. One thing we did not have to fear was that he was not getting fed. 


(Adicus Finch in his nest)


Three days ago he started sticking his head out of the nest. This morning it looked as if he may be ready to try his wings. But, that thought was just a passing fancy as he quickly retreated back inside the nest. Since the nest is located high on the side of the cage, maybe a good 30 inches or so off the bottom of the cage, I now fear the little one will fall from the nest and break his neck. 

Stay tuned, no telling how this is going to end.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Penn Center Art

For months I had had Saturday March 14 on my calender marked to travel to Beaufort. Actually to go to Frogmore, the crossroads on St. Helena. The Penn Center was sponsoring an Arts Show of African American Artists. For those you who are not familiar with the Penn Center, a short history lesson.

In 1862 two missionaries from Pennsylvania came to St. Helena and established an academy to educate the recently freed slaves. In the early 1900's the school started teaching agricultural and industrial skills. In the 1960's the center became a central player in the civil rights movement. In 1974 it became one of the eight sights in the St. Helena National Historic Landmark District. If you haven't visited it, take a right at the stop light in Frogmore on your way to Hunting Island or Fripp, just to ride by it if you don't have time to go through the small museum. But, I digress.

I headed down there, camera in hand, hoping to photograph the artists and their work. I had read that the artists would be on hand and doing their art during the show. When I arrived I found that even though the weather was sunny and warm, the show was inside the museum. When I entered the docent welcomed me and told me most of the pieces in the show were for sale and the artists were there to discuss their pieces. She also apologized and said  that no photographs were allowed inside. (This was no surprise. I assumed that once I saw the show was inside.)

The art was remarkable. The colors were bright and told stories of their history. Their were sweetgrass basket weavers among the painters. As I stood looking at one artist's work, I asked the lady standing there if it was her work. She said yes and explained what some of the different pieces represented. I asked her several questions and picked up  lovely small painting of an African American choir. When I saw the price, which was most reasonable, I decided I would buy it.

I turned to tell her I wanted to purchase it. She smiled and as I got ready to pay her, she turned to another lady (obviously a friend) and answered a question the friend had asked. The artist picked up her purse and turned to walk away. Bewildered, I asked if she had a card. She handed me a post card and walked off. I made the assumption that she had not given me the piece of art I was holding.

As I walked out of the show, I told the docent how much I enjoyed the show. She smiled asked, "But you did not find anything to buy?"  I thought quickly and started to say something like, "Yes, I did find something I wanted to buy, unfortunately, the artist apparently was not interested enough in selling it." But then as if my dear Aunt Kat was sitting on my shoulder shaking her head at me, I smiled and said, "Well I spoke with an artist and plan to buy something later. It was all very impressive."

It is as if my DH often says, Damn if I am going to beg them and pay them too!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Good Selection Always - When Avalable

Anyone who knows us knows we do not go anywhere without a visit to some pet emporium being on the agenda. This most recent trip to Atlanta being no exception. My DH wanted me to see a fairly large pet store that carried an array of animals from creepy crawly critters to fish to screeching Macaws. Sweet little finches were somewhere in the mix. And this store had touted a good selection of exotic and different types of finches.

So when we had time we made our way to north Atlanta. As we drove up the store looked promising. It was a stand alone establishment in a nice stuccoed building with a gravel parking lot. I been dragged into big box stores, mom and pop places, dirty stores, clean shops, and small hole in the walls. Some of these I feared before we entered someone would peak through a hole in the door and my DH would need to state "Joe sent me" before the door would open. The security measure being their insane fear of the Federal Fish and Game Department and a "small"  issue these folks ran into several years back concerning some rare and exotic purple livered Amazonian pond slider that one of them accidentally on purpose put in his suitcase on the way home from Brazil. Of course explaining how 27 of them got into his luggage was another story. But I digress.

When we entered the store yesterday I found that, alas, this fell into the middle category of pet stores - those operating above the law but not concerned about clean floors and dusted shelves. One thing going for them - they had inventory. They had inventory everywhere - stacked on every shelf, lined up against all the walls, even in some cases in racks hanging from the ceiling. And there were cages, tanks, enclosures, stands, and animals everywhere. A large tortoise roamed the store as if he were foraging for food. Several birds sat on perches and squawked each time you passed just to make sure they were not ignored.

After going from room to room (there were several) we found the bird room. I looked at the wall of finch cages.  A fair number of finches were flitting around in the cages.  There were price lists on each cage. Having read the store's web site, I was hoping to find some more exotic birds to look at other than Zebras, Society, and Spice finches which are the standard fare for any pet store that carries finches.

I was enthused when one list noted, "Lavender Finches, Spice Finches, Owl Finches, Star Finches". Another one read, "Lady Gouldians". One against the far wall had a note that read, "Zebra Finches, Society Finches." A fourth cage was labeled "Green Singers".  When I peered into the cages I wasn't sure what I was looking at due to the dim lighting in the room.

I found the owner and asked him if he could show me the Owl Finches because I could not see them in the cage. He promptly started looking. After closely examining the cage marked "Owl Finches", he turned and said, "Oh they are not in there, they are in the cage up front." With that he took us up front and showed us the birds.

We returned to the Finch room and I asked him about the Lavender Finches. "Oh we don't have any of them."

"And, Star Finches?"

"No, don't have of those either."

I recognized the Green Singers and asked him a question about them. I have one who sings his little heart out but if I get him a mate he will no longer sing. We discussed the Lady Gouldians which I have 4 of and do not need any more.

Looking at the 7 or 8 cages of warbling birds and the answers to my inquires, I finally asked, "Well what do you have?" 

"Besides the Gouldians and 2 Singers? Oh, Spice, Society, and Zebra finches."

I guess this means "We have a good selection of exotic and different types of finches" can be interpreted at best as, "When the season is right, our inventory is flush, and the birds are available, we may possibly have a good selection."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Real Authentic Full Service Arts Center

Last year I was asked to serve as a member of the Board for our local fine arts center. I was flattered and have enjoyed my tenure. The Orangeburg Center for Fine Arts is in a historic building leased from the city located in the city's lovely gardens on the banks of the Edisto River. It is truly a lovely setting. Most folks in town know there is an "Arts Center" and know where it is. Unfortunately, most folks are not aware of all the center offers - but I'll address that later.

One of my first surprises when I got involved with the Arts Center was to learn that the local League of Arts was independent of the center. Ok, I thought, they were a separate entity supporting the arts. But I assumed they worked with the Arts Center. I soon learned I was wrong.

One morning I was dismayed, well shocked, OK, I was P#$$@! when I opened the town's paper to see an article on the front page interviewing the president of the League of Arts touting that they had been given a building in town that they were redoing to become their home - the new "Arts Center". What the heck? The article went on to talk about what they intended to do to the building (which is in horrendous shape), what they intended to offer to the public after they redid the building, and how important they were to the city for their support and development of artists. Naturally, they failed to mention one very "small" fact - that the city already had a well established Arts Center. How did the reporter fail to ask that question, "Don't we already have an Arts Center?" 

Naturally, those supporting the "real" existing Arts Center were atwitter with comments. What were they thinking? Now the citizens had to be confused. And to make it worse, we had been quietly working for months preparing to launch a major fundraising campaign to update the (real) Arts Center, fix some major structural issues, and make it more user friendly so we could better serve our public. In order to make sure the campaign was successful, the  board had taken the time to gather the data, information, and bids necessary for the work we wanted done. We had identified the local, state, and federal entities we needed to approach for funds and were preparing the appropriate documents they would need. 

What we had now was total confusion. Local citizens assumed that the "League of Arts" was part of or was the "Arts Center".  And we feared that the assumption would be that the article was referring to a new "Arts Center" replacing the current one. We were stunned. The timing was horrible, just as we were getting ready to launch our campaign and reveal our plans (which were long range, professionally prepared, and well thought out versus harem scarum last minute "we plan to paint the building and make it an Arts Center" as the others proposed). 

We soon learned the building (a lovely old home) they had been given had been vacant since 2000 and had been on the market for years. The owner had been unable to sell it due to severe fire damage and structural issues. It was going to take a lot of money to get the building up to code, much less designed and decorated for their needs. And the league has a rather small membership.

On the other hand, the OCFAC has a healthy membership we have had for years (that continues to grow), an active large board, and an ongoing budget. We have a gallery that showcases a different artists' work each month. The large gallery is used for civic meetings, social gatherings, and public events. Art and music lessons are constantly being given to students. We are a vibrant organization that serves the community. We have a history, a track record, and a plan to be able to offer even more to area citizens. In short we are the Arts Center.

Like a well bred lady we will carry on. We will stay above the fray. The truth will carry day. In a year or two the Arts Center will be facility the city and its people will be proud of and there will be no confusion any longer. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Great Purge and Restoration

Yesterday was the great purge; the migration of the fall clothes to the attic. No longer is my closet filled with the drab colors of browns, dull greens, and oranges. Funny how those colors were so welcome last September when I hoped bringing them forth from the attic would somehow hasten the coming of cooler weather. Be careful what you ask for! But I digress.

The fall clothes have been blessed for their long summers hibernation, folded neatly, and placed in their tubs. The tubs have been returned to their resting place. And like cocoons, when I open those tubs next September I find those drab colors have changed into the crisp fall colors I will need  to cheer me from my dog day misery. 

Whatever. Today my closet is full of bright colors. Lily Pulitzer would be happy. Although she is not represented (other than in spirit) her bright colors mingle among the navies that hope to someday be part of my working wardrobe. My pastel sweaters are neatly placed in the closet, organized by color. Yes, for several weeks I will be anal enough to keep that system going. After that I will question the wisdom of that folly.

This year I noticed a change in my clothes. I took them from their storage containers, laid them on my bed, and examined them for any holes (those pesky moths) or stains. Then I tried a few of the skirts on just to lighten my spirits. Alas, instead of the thrill of new clothes (well new to me - I have a short memory) it was the agony of tight zippers. The heat of the summer had caused my skirts to shrink. They seemed to be a size smaller. Horrors! The same thing had happened with my pants. It was the case for all of them. 

I thought back, over the many years this had never happened. How could the elements effect my clothes this year but years in the past. Then it dawned on me, the obvious, the elements had not effected my clothes, the elements had effected me. Mid life had taken its toll. Those three pounds had settled in an unfortunate place. And it was not pretty. 

My motto has always been when my clothes got too tight it was time to lose weight not buy new clothes. This was my sign. Well, this was my sign to either lose weight or adjust my motto.