Monthly Archives: September 2008


You would think that at age 56 I would have had enough experience that confrontations would not bother me. But sometimes they do. Two of my cabinets are the wrong size, and it’s going to cost about $120 extra to fix them (basically, the contractor needs to make a bigger opening so that the doors will fit). Since I didn’t measure them, order them, or manufacture them, I figure that there is no way this is my fault and I don’t want to pay said extra money.
I told the contractor this, and he said I would have to work it out with the store where I bought all the stuff. Dawn did the measuring, did the ordering, and she is the one I have been interacting with. I figure there are only two possibilities. 1. She measured wrong or 2. The cabinet place manufactured them wrong. This whole project has been expensive, and the reason I had someone help me design the kitchen was so that I don’t have to worry about stuff like this.
When I called her to tell her the problem she told me she’d have to talk with her manager–and that’s when I got unhappy. It all has a happy ending in that I got what I wanted, but I had to fight for it, and it made me tired.
When on when will this project be over? I’m whining quite a bit lately.


Autumnal equinox

There’s something beautifully sad about fall. I love it, but I feel like each day might be the last nice one for months. I cling to the warm weather and blue sky. Today is particularly beautiful, and it was all I could do to stay in my office (I DID find a couple of excuses to walk to the library!) Most of my flowers are going to seed, but my trusty mums are just starting to bloom. The days will get shorter and shorter and then I will be almost as cold as I am now in the over-air conditioned halls of academia. But December 22 will come before I know it and once again, miraculously, we’ll have spring.

My Messed Up House

Some time weeks ago I got the ridiculous idea that I needed new cabinets and counter top. Ever since we had bought our house, I had wanted to change the position of the sink so that when I’m washing dishes or chopping things I could see outside–a noble cause, don’t you think? So off I went to get some ideas from a local hardware store where I met Dawn. Dawn is a wonderful person, but has much grander ideas than I have. I should have been nervous when she said things like, “Do you have to keep this wall?” and “Does your Hoosier Cabinet have to stay?” or “Do you like where your refrigerator is?”
I had modest hopes and dreams. How hard could it be? New cabinets morphed into moving the plumbing, making a place where I can have a built-in dishwasher, rewiring a few things here and there–still fairly simple, right? Here is a picture of what my dining room looks like at this moment:

Even the library is in on the disaster act:

Here is the “kitchen”–and I use the term loosely, since nothing can be cooked there:

What can I say? I don’t know where anything is, and I haven’t cooked for 3 weeks. It will be 3 more before the counter top arrives. And the worst of it is, I’m worrying that I won’t even like it when it’s done. I spent about 15 hours making “Roman Shades” and now I’m afraid they’re the wrong color. I think the bottom line is that no matter what it looks like I MUST LOVE IT, because I’m never going to change it again!

What are people for? (with apologies to Wendell Barry)

Wendell Barry wrote a great book of essays with the same name as this little blog musing. “What are people for?” That particular essay talks about the movement of people from the farms to the cities, and the unemployment that exists in the cities. Certainly every person needs some kind of occupation to be able to live in a society in an honest way. It doesn’t really matter if it is mother, lawyer, butcher, or Indian Chief—we all need to do SOMETHING to justify our existence.

A friend of mine (Carol) told me about the unhappiness her mother experienced as she increasingly lost the ability to be productive. Carol thought of all kinds of things her mother could do—tie the ends of fleece quilts, knit, cover hangers—but in the end there was very little she could do, and it was excruciating for her.

So what should I be doing? Sometimes I wonder why I ever started working, because if I were home I could be choosing the type of work I do all day long. My closets could be orderly. My photos could all be arranged in books. I could make gourmet meals. I could go to Scrabble tournaments (and have time to study, so I could win more!) Why did I trade all that for a 12-month 8 to 5 job when I don’t really even need the money any more? What am I for?

On being sick

This week I had to leave work early (which is almost unheard of) and go home sick. I won’t go into any of the grisly details, but let’s just say that for 12 hours or so I was miserable. I think there’s something to be said for the theory that you can’t enjoy the good without experiencing the bad. Whenever I get sick I am mad at myself for not appreciating being well more. Why didn’t I realize how nice it is to feel unsick?

I’m not sure this is a universal experience, but for me, when I have had digestive problems, it takes a while for me to want to eat again. It’s scary. I look at things others are eating and wonder how they can do it? Who would dare eat salad? Why would anyone put pesto into perfectly good mashed potatoes? He must be absolutely suicidal to think he can eat beans! I like to tread carefully—a banana here, some white bread there, and maybe a chaser of applesauce. I think I’ve given up my beloved Diet Coke forever.

I’m still not quite back to normal. I went out to lunch with a friend today and ordered dry white toast, canned peaches, and cottage cheese. I could see the waiter roll his eyes, but I didn’t care. Tonight I’m going to a wedding reception—I hope they’re serving rice and mashed bananas!