I wrote this and tried to post it on my first leg of a journey– alas it never posted, but I’ll post it now for good measure.
It has been awhile since I posted about the Great Project Spiral of 2017. Never fear, the project is still going and still spiraling. I’m trying to get back to actually making progress and sharing some of the details…
Let me just say that the old sliding glass door wasn’t in great shape. The exterior has numerous chunks out of it. The track had parts that were broken and allowed in some cold air. And the glass itself was old and not terribly energy efficient. Mmm hmmm.
I’ve wanted to replace this door since moving in, but this is a pretty pricey replacement and this project has already gone significantly over budget. Bah. So I was trolling Craigslist earlier this summer to see if they had something to offer as a more budget-friendly alternative. Voila! For $100 and the inconvenience of driving out to the sticks, I got an Anderson sliding door, just a few years old, recently removed from this guy’s house (and yes, I can tell you exactly what he’s doing on his project, that his brother in law is flying in from Georgia to help install the new cabinets, that if I’m interested in cabinets, he’d sell me those as well…)
The door is in great shape and weighs about twice what the old one did and looks 1000% better.
Earlier in the summer, I proposed a project swap to my friend Nick, because he recently put in a sliding door at his house, and this project was kind of daunting to a newbie like me. So I watched their dog for a weekend and Nick installed the door with me helping. I clearly got the better end of this deal.
Naturally, I put it off until the weather turned cold and it gets dark really early (smooth move, Reenie, smooth move). So I snuck out of work a little early, went home and started disassembling the existing door. By the time Nick got there, it only took a few minutes to get the old door completely removed and start installing the new one.
It took us a couple hours but really impressively smooth for a project in this house (and it isn’t because everything was perfect!). I couldn’t have done it without Nick! We had to shim and level a fair amount, but by the time it was truly dark, the door was in and operational! And heavy! And beautiful!! The inside of the door is stained wood, but I’ll probably paint it all white when I do the trim.
The only truly unexpected glitch is that the door opens from the opposite side. I never even thought about that as an option. It isn’t a bad change, just a change. I’m going to be trying to open the wrong side for years to come!!
The only problem, as I discovered when I went to lock up for the night, is that the new door was missing the lock grab. It had the lock on the door part, but just this opening and no hardware for the wall side. Sigh. Naturally the next day I stopped at Lowes to find they don’t carry such a thing, just whole handle/locksets, which I don’t need. So I pondered it on Saturday for awhile and then realized “HEY! The old door has one!” Sure enough, it isn’t a perfect fit, but it does fit and I can now lock my sliding door. Woooo!
There you have it: a new used sliding glass door. Maybe the best $100 I’ve spent on this project.
Well I want to be back anyway. I have dozens of started-but-not-finished posts that I should dust off, add some photos, and post. Buuuttttt instead I’m gonna go ahead and share one of my favorite holiday recipes because I feel you’ve earned it. And it is super easy and involves cranberries and rum.
Without further ado, I offer you my top secret recipe…
Cranberry Infused Rum
You need exactly two ingredients:
2. Rum (or any kind of booze you want)
Do you ever get that perfect photo that perfectly sums up your life right now?
I don’t think of myself as a naturally hard-hearted person, but I do believe in the importance of crate training a dog. So I brace my mushy heart and prepare for the agony of listening to a tiny, lonely pup losing her mind as I try to sleep.
Izzie came home on Saturday. Saturday night she cried for about half an hour when I put her in the crate – loud, heartbreaking cries. And she woke up and cried a couple times in the night but they were short in duration so I didn’t get up. At 6.30 on Sunday morning, she frantic so I got up, took her out, fed her, played with her. And then went back to bed for a bit (more wailing from the crate).
Sunday night wasn’t much better. She cried for only 20 minutes when I crated her, but there was an urgent 3.30 am plea so I took her out- and she had to go bad. In my tired haze, I just didn’t want more crying. I curled up on the couch with her hoping she’d snuggle and I could sleep. Nope. She wanted to play so she starts chewing my face, my hair… no rest for the weary. I got up and played with her (toys and all) to wear her out for 10 minutes before crating her, ignoring the wails, and stumbling back to bed.
Monday I came home at lunch to let her out and play and put her back in to blood-curdling wails. Oh Izzie. It isn’t that bad.
So far, Izzie has not had accidents in the crate – which is miraculous. She’s very responsive when I take her outside, put her in the grass and say “Go potty” — she squats to pee immediately every time. Hooray!! (I mean she can also piddle on the floor seconds after doing that outside- so it isn’t a perfect system).
Monday evening I had some pears to can and after letting the dogs play and running them around the yard a lot, I decided to crate Izzie. I just cannot trust her yet. Bracing for the wailing, I crated her. She looked up at me with those darling puppy eyes and then curled up on her blanket and went to sleep. WHAT??? I canned my pears in peace, marveling at the silence.
I wore her out really well again before bed- and after one yip, she went to sleep and slept ALL NIGHT without a peep. The last few evenings, we’re developing a pattern. From about 10 – 11 pm, Daisy and Izzie go wildly crazy in the living room. Running, pouncing, biting, tug of war, all out puppy insanity. And then at the end of it, we go outside and eveyrone goes potty and then sleeps peacefully all night. This is living!!
She’s my favorite puppy in the whole world!!
Operation Chicken Round 3 is going well so far. Not dissimilar from Round 2 at this point. The chickens are getting bigger — making me think they need a larger covered pen and a better coop. I want to build this coop. But in the interest of having some kind of standards, the chickens can’t get a nicer coop until my house is more livable.
These chickens, more than the last batch, seem interested in upward mobility. Maybe it is because they have a full view of the pigeons next door who are always flying overhead and doing upwardly mobile things. Mmm hmm. That must be it. Anyway, these chickens cannot be trusted without a cover on their pen if they want to survive.
It seems that pet chickens must have names. I don’t necessarily consider them my pets but all my young friends do, so naming them was necessary. One came with a name: Streamers. My friend Kitty, who is looking forward to chickens of her own next year, informed me that she is saving “Queenie” for her favorite chicken when she gets them, but would help name mine in the meantime. She came up with Mrs. Eggs, Goldie, Syrup, and Alpha. My niece Jane named the remaining white hen Pearl. There you have it. I’m putting these into a blog post because I am unlikely to remember them otherwise. Don’t tell my young farming friends.
It’s that time of year again… the black raspberries are ripe. This spring I was busy tearing apart the house so I didn’t get out there to cut down the invasive species surrounding the raspberry jungle. It is bad out there right now. Nettles. Poison ivy. Buckthorn. Russian olive. Lots of other weeds. (Does anyone else hear how necessary goats are out here??) But… those little black juicy morsels make it worth braving the jungle for. They started ripening last week. I’ve only done a bit of peripheral picking and introduced a couple cute nephews to the magic of black raspberries. The Hobbit couldn’t cram them into his mouth fast enough.
Fresh Berry Cobbler
- 2 1/2 cups berries (I used mostly black raspberries with a few mulberries– but whatever you have will work)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I cut the sugar from the original recipe a lot! If you are using more tart berries, add more in)
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 375. Mix berries and sugar together and let them sit while you put the rest of it together. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and stir. Add melted butter and mix together.
Put the batter into an ungreased 8×8 pan (ish). Glop the berry/sugar mixture over the top (or just mix it together- I’ve done it both ways). Bake the big pan for 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Top with ice cream if you like. Eat it for breakfast (it is practically a health food, right?? Something about antioxidants and organic, locally sourced berries). There’s no wrong way to eat it. Ready go.
Update: I bought more rum. Who wants to come over for black raspberry cocktails?
Sometimes I am particularly struck by how bittersweet this life is. The same day a friend delivered her baby several weeks prematurely, I heard my friend’s mother is at the end of her battle with cancer. She hasn’t left us yet, but the news isn’t good and her time here is short. Little P is beginning his fragile journey here with us as Mrs. M is wrapping hers up. Joy and sorrow bundled together.
On the one year anniversary of a young mother’s death from our community, I was struck again by how intertwined joy and sorrow are. I wasn’t close but her family is constantly in my prayers as they move forward without their mother and wife. That same day I found out my cousin and his wife are expecting their first baby. What a gift!! A new baby cousin to love on for years to come! Joy and sorrow bundled together.
My grandpa is 94 and living with my parents. His dementia continues to progress and it takes it’s toll on everybody sometimes. A few weeks ago my mom was out of town and my dad was helping at my house, so I took Grandpa out for a spin. As we drove through town, stopping for errands, he reaches over to squeeze my hand. He tells me what a good driver I am and I tell him that I enjoy driving with him. He can’t comprehend a lot of what I tell him, but I repeat it in short cheery snippets I think he can grasp and answer the same question 12 gazillion times. His days here are numbered. The days where he can communicate how much he appreciates my driving are numbered. It gives me pause to realize that I am driving around with Jesus– sometimes in his most distressing disguise (as Mother Teresa put it) as the endless question loop. If Jesus asked me that same question over and over again, what would I do? Squeeze his hand and explain again that we’re heading to the dump where I’ll empty the trailer. Smile and tell him what good company he is, put on that 1968 baseball game for the 500th time, and cover him with a blanket. Joy and sorrow bundled together.
Living in community, I see examples of this over and over again. As much as I wish it was all joy, there’s something incredibly raw and beautiful and important about sharing our sorrow with one another. It strikes me that we are all part of this continuum, in and out of each other’s lives and stories and joys and sorrows. It’s a beautiful and intricate and confusing braid of lives intertwined. It isn’t MY story, it is OUR story. I’m just a small but important thread in the tapestry being woven into something beautiful with the people around me. And ultimately, we are made for heaven. It isn’t just about our story here, but our story for eternity. Home.
I can’t help but think this is the good stuff and also the hardest stuff there is. Loving other people means we hurt with them, mourn with them, and rejoice with them. We can’t and shouldn’t try to separate it. If I didn’t invest in people and relationships, my life would have a lot less suffering in it — and it would be missing the joy that comes with loving people. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Recognizing that we need each other so very much.
So today, my heart is heavy for the loss and the suffering around me and at the same moment filled with joy for the gift of new life and the gift of so many dear people to share this road with. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Intricate. Complicated. Raw. Breathtakingly beautiful.
Last week the progress finally felt like it was moving forward at more than a snail’s pace. I had scheduled a lot of time to be home (woooooo) which helps in the progress department.
Monday night I picked up tools and made sure I had all the supplies– and then spent the evening with my second family (one of the many) playing games and catching up. And then I set some tiles on the subfloor to pretend I accomplished something (#honestproject).
Wednesday night I started on the tile. This is my first time tiling (which kind of surprises me) but I suppose you have to start somewhere. They make it look so simple on HGTV. And it isn’t rocket science, but as I spend the entire long evening getting so few tiles in place, mostly learning to use the tile saw, and figuring out some complicated cuts. It makes me appreciate the pros and that I am far from being a pro!
And still, I’m so grateful for the loan of the saw so I didn’t have to rent or buy one (and believe me, I would have bought this same saw because of the price).
At 9.30 pm, I realized my mortar was setting up fast and I might need more — and of course, the Blue Store closes at 10. Sigh. So I drop everything, run to the store for more mortar, meant to pee there and forgot, and was home by 10 to continue. I think it was around 11 pm as I stood on my deck, a torchiere lamp lighting the tile operation, being sprayed in the face with tile water and dust, moths fluttering around my head, mortar goop all over my whole body, cringing as I used that loud saw, hoping the neighbors had fans in their windows to muffle the racket. I just had to laugh at myself and the whole situation. Yup, this is the definition of insanity or tenacity. You decide. I finished up around midnight– and by finished, I mean I put things away because I was half done with the bathroom and it was past time to go to bed. Of course, I couldn’t shower because there was freshly installed tile that I couldn’t walk on… so I slept filthy and showered in the morning when the mortar was dry.
I was planning to go with a lighter gray grout that would contrast with the darker charcoal tile but in the end (with some coaching from a friend) I went with the matching charcoal grout which was merciful with my newbie tiling job.
- If you use a cheap saw that sprays tile water at your face, go ahead and start the project wearing a hat. It makes the clean up afterward about 100 times easier. Obviously, as with any power tools, you should already be wearing safety glasses.
- Clip your nails before you start. Maybe you’re like me and can’t find your nail clippers because your whole bathroom is scattered around your kitchen, but if you have shorter nails, there’s less room to get them jammed full of mortar and you’ll spend less time trying to pick them clean and cringing at how bad they look at work the next day.
- Be prepared to be very messy. If you are tiling your only bathroom, you basically tile yourself out the door and then have to wait for the mortar to set — meaning you should either dash over to a friend’s house for a shower or sleep gross (I chose the latter because it was the middle of the night).
- Rags. Get out lots of rags. I found it super helpful to have a couple wet wash clothes for wiping mortar and rinsed them regularly throughout the evening. It goes without saying your clothes will get messy.