Monday, January 11, 2010


If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have quit my job when Justin left and devoted myself completely to a blog about domestic duties while a husband is away at war.

I suppose this could be my theme for entries over the next 7 weeks. I can write about the trials and tribulations of a love-scorned housewife whose husband has gone to war and left her with the never-ending responsibilities of a house in need of maintenance.... Not really. We live in a house that was brand new when we bought it and we live in a neighborhood with a fantastic HOA, so we're not in dire need of really anything (and by the way, Justin would never do that to me). But a girl has to have her projects.

I love Lowe's. I LOVE Lowe's. I mean I really do. I could walk around there for hours thinking of things I could do to improve the function, and even aesthetics, of my house. So last Friday (New Year's Day) that's what I did.

I did go there on a mission. To purchase the touch-up paint colors with which my house is already adorned: All from the Eddie Bauer Craftsman Bungalow collection, because that's the style of the house in which we live. Well, actually, the secret is out that it was built in 2006, so it's not TECHNICALLY from that era, but it's made to look that way. I guess you could call it a "Fungalow" since according to my friend Jessica and me, putting an "F" on the front of anything thereby desribes it as it faux. But I digress.

I also digressed at Lowe's. Finding a perfectly good use for things that I otherwise never knew I needed... And then there was the tile aisle. And there was Michael, the tile guy. I never meant for the conversation, complete with tile-laying instructions, to last that long. I simply asked him, "Hey, about how quickly and easily could you describe the tile installation process for a backsplash? About a foot tall and seven feet wide. Kitchen. Behind a sink. Natural material." And thus, see picture below.

One 15-minute conversation, one buggy-full (in the south we call it a buggy- up here they call it a shopping cart) of supplies, and one mid-afternoon later I had a fully-tiled backsplash (sans grout, of course as it needs to set overnight). My aforementioned friend Jessica, who is a new resident of our fantastic little neighborhood, came by and said, "I go to New Year's lunch at my aunt's house and in that amount of time you tile your backsplash!?!" While this would be a compliment either which way (provided the job was done well), I have to mention this comes from the same friend who actually asked, "Why can't we just spray paint the iron bed in the bedroom?" (instead of garage)

Friday night, I was home alone and actually excited about it. I picked up the house which was a disaster and was going to remain a disaster until I was able to finish grouting the week-old backsplash and flip the breaker back on. Up to that point, dirty dishes had sat unwashed and stacked on my kitchen table. UGH! If you are thinking to yourself that I could have hand washed them, no such luck. My disposal was also turned off so the sink was a little clogged. Anyway, I grouted the tile and felt victorious. Only problem? I had gone back later in the week to replace "Marble Beige Unsanded Grout" with a lighter creamier color of "Sanded Grout." My kitchen was a complete mess and every time I moved the carton of powder grout, it burped a big cloud of dust all over the countertops and sink. Finally, hours later, I had cleaned up the mess and sat down to have a beer. I purchased it at Whole Foods for a friend who came to town and it ended up... She's pregnant! Surprise! So I was left with a really fancy version of a "tall boy" with 7 % alcohol content, in such a pretty bottle I might add.

An hour later, Justin was calling and I was waxing on.. and on... about my night, even throwing in a few dates in the conversation which we, under no circumstances, ever mention over the phone lines. Finally, he asked, "Are you drunk?" I wasn't really, but I had gotten a little tipsy. The next day I wrote an apologetic email for any American security that might have been compromised. He told me later, "I will only worry if you are drinking alone and crying. If you are drinking alone and acting that funny again, I don't care." Apparently he and the guys had a good laugh over my poor judgment.

Saturday I spent the day with Brigitte She's headed to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February to compete in Bobsledding. Just kidding. She'll be cooking for the athletes. She's a chef who has been on FoodTV and will be competing again in the Food Network Recipe Showdown, airing in March. I love her. Top five favorite people- she's one of them. Anyway, we went to An Antique Affair, the show that opens once a month on Manchester Avenue. I found nothing of any value to me, but stumbled upon a 48-ft. square oak table from 1910, in pristine condition, and boasting SIX leaves! I sent Jessica (yet again, part of this blog) a photo of this kitchen table she so desperately needed and she wrote back "SOLD!" It's riding around in my SUV currently. She gets back tomorrow from Seattle and I'll get her to help me unload it into her kitchen.

Saturday night I spent the evening with two friends who just so happen to be two more of my top five favorite people, a couple named LaVoyed and Cheryl Hudgins (featured in this article of the Wall Street Journal: In case you haven't noticed, I only put my famous friends in my top five. Just kidding. But their "fame" just goes to show you how dynamic they all really are. Anyway, I counted my blessings that day because I got invitations from two people I love and admire. I spent the evening drinking LaVoyed's mudslides with them and eating homemade chili.

Sunday, it was project time again. I had been late to Cheryl and LaVoyed's the night before because I got too caught up in staining my "shoe shelves" a dark ebony, only to realize I was out of mineral spirits to clean the stain off the brush and had no choice but to do all the staining at once. Since the shelves had dried overnight, it was time to hang them. I had naturally, already purchased the necessities for this project earlier that day at Lowe's.

Now what I'm about to tell you might be offensive to some. But I have the right to talk about women, since I am one and I think I know a thing or two about being one. While I was at Lowe's buying the "shoe shelf" equipment (only a woman would go to Lowe's to build something to hold her shoes), I stumbled upon both a man and a woman standing side by side, who worked there. Now, I'm no sexist but I do have a few theories. First of all, I'm not a big fan of women sportscasters. I think it is possible that they know about as much as a man when it comes to the current state of a team's statistics, its batting average, or its past 10 seasons. But what I also know is that she didn't grow up playing tackle football in the front yard with her dad. And second of all, if she did.. that's weird.

Anyway, I have this same theory about home improvement. I mean, when given the choice of asking for help from a man or a woman, I'm sorry ladies, but I'm going to choose the man. So I did. But this certain lady really, really wanted to help me. So I followed her to the screw aisle (please, no comments- there's no other way to say it). I needed two kinds of screws for my L-brackets. One pack held the 1/2-inch long ones to go into the shelf itself. The others would go into the wall. I repeatedly told her that I was screwing them into drywall. So she handed me a pack of TWO-INCH long screws (no anchors) made for wood, stating that my dry wall was probably two inches thick. I don't know any dry wall that is two inches thick, so that should have been clue number one to stick to my theory, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

The next day, after polishing off a morning coffee I was positioned with my newly-stained shelving on the floor of my closet. I was ecstatic about the idea of displaying my new Frye boots and leopard-print platforms where I could actually see what I was choosing to wear (I'm a big believer in seeing what you own, or you will forget to wear it... is this a problem?).

First, I went to drill the unrealistically long screw into the drywall only to find that it was so far in that it wiggled and threatened to come out the other side and land in my bathroom. So I moved on to the shorter nails that I had used to screw into the wood, all the while cussing the lady at the home improvement store for her lack of knowledge. Thirty minutes in, I had all of the shelving on the wall and was just drilling the last shelving into the very bottom of the wall. Beaming with pride from my success, I must have knocked the wall with my drill and out of nowhere the six other shelves came crashing down and landed on my head. I don't really know why, but this too must have been the Lowe's lady's fault as well and so I cussed her into the first of next week.

One Starbucks-bold-with-two-raw-sugars-and-cream and yet another Lowe's run later, I was back in the closet (ah hem), hammering DRY WALL ANCHORS in, followed by a 3/4 inch screw.

Alas, the project was complete and very industrially fashion-forward, I might add. So, the moral of the story is... Think twice about a woman telling you how to stain wood, build and hang shelving and curtain rods, rework an old lamp, or tile a backsplash. As a matter of fact, disregard this entire blog entry and exit this computer screen.

I am quite the hypocrite, aren't I?

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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Dreamer and the Realist

I'm not really as aloof as I sometimes might sound. I do have this uncanny ability to put up my best defense mechanism- getting over it. But while that might be the end, there is usually a long journey of a means to getting there.

I got there quickly last Friday night when Justin told me his news. I feel selfish about the way I wrote the last entry because I didn't really address the most important people in the equation- my husband, and namely his comrades. It wasn't until I got a comment on my blog from one of the guys in the unit who Justin has come to like and admire that I realized my mistake (he calls him "good people"). John wrote that they were disappointed too. And then I thought for a good long while about how two more weeks makes them feel. I realized there are a lot more things that they have to look forward to in a homecoming, than the waiting families and friends can ever really imagine. I mean, after all, we have stood here on American soil, in our day-to-day lives (albeit a bit empty without their presence), but we got to get on with it. Their hopes, dreams and realities were essentially put on hold. And now, two more weeks will go by with them experiencing "Groundhog Day." I bet two weeks is a lot longer to them than it is to you or me. That's why I feel selfish today.

I am also selfishly devoted to finding a way to cope. I say it's selfish because in the last three years (really four, if you count his second stint at flight school) I have had to do a lot of that and I've become a master at this whole self-soothing thing, you know, at making myself feel better. Infertility woes- ups downs and in betweens, the loss of two grandfathers within eight months of one another, time for training spent away from the love of my life, a (now eleven-month) deployment to Iraq. I would say the list goes on and on, but really it stops there. At least at this moment. You see, I am not a pessimist. And while I like to call my husband one on occasion, he always replies, "I'm not a pessimist. I'm a REALIST." But I am neither. I am the eternal optimist. The somewhat UN-realistic optimist. A dreamer. In a favorite song from my childhood, Nanci Griffith sang:

Where are all the dreamers that I used to know
We used to linger beneath street lamps in the halos and the smoke
The wing and the wheel, came to carry them away
Now they all live out in the suburbs
Where their dreams are in their children at play

At seven years old, listening to the Texas folk artist from the backseat of my parents' minivan, I knew not what she sang. I simply didn't have control over the cassette player that was frequently filled with the music choices of my godparents and their heritage- rubbing off on my mother and creating in her a deep, deep love affair with the Lonestar State.

Nowadays, I understand. I get a little caught up in the future, and am not so concerned with the past. In the middle of doing so I often forget about the others who are on this journey with me. Too busy dreaming, I guess. I am selfish in my dreams. But less so in my actions I hope. I would follow Justin wherever he wants to take me. And I will do it without complaining (for the most part). I am caught up in my own love affair. And it makes me do things I otherwise probably didn't dream about.

There is one thing I know from listening to that song: I want tokeep my dreams. As a matter of fact, I want them to come true. And as a sidenote: I don't want to move out to the suburbs and live vicariously through my children's imaginations. I want our future family to be a product of mine and Justin's love affair with one another, first and foremost (those of you who have children will say, "Right. Let's see how that works out for you."). But it's good to have dreams.

So right now I am dreaming. I can't tell you everything I am dreaming about, but I will tell you one of them: I am dreaming of a Monday in March, where Justin flies back into my life (remember, it's the "WING and the wheel" that carry things away). After he gets home, maybe I'll fill you in on some of the dreams we dream together, and those that we dreamt apart. One thing is for sure- I did a lot of it while he was gone. We'll sit around and I'll fill his ear with many of them, and inevitably, he will bring me back down to earth once more.

In the words of Nanci, and as a shout-out to my mother (because she's busy dreaming with me), "Here's to all the dreamers... may our open hearts find rest."

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Friday, January 1, 2010

God and Uncle Sam Have Senses of Humor

Why do I even bother? Number one, I am a child of God- how can you really ever predict, plan or prepare for His intentions? But even if I thought I had some means of control over this crazy life of mine, why don't I consider for a moment that I am also owned by the Army?

I have to smile about it. I can't be too sad or upset, disappointed or let down. After all, it's just two weeks. TWO WEEKS! But I was foaming at the mouth to tear off week 7 on my paper chain this Sunday and round the corner to a mere 6 weeks left in this long-awaited journey of ours. But alas, there is red tape. Forget a Valentine's Day arrival- it was just too good to be true, and far too romantic I guess. End of February, Lord willing. Sam willing too.

I know it's only two weeks and Justin says to be thankful for his tour not having been extended for six months or something crazy, and all-too realistic these days. I am thankful. It's all relative. I was just so wrapped up in what little time was left. I mean, you can read- you saw how I had already planned out the day of the ceremony, the menu for dinner, the week following. But God probably laughed as I wrote it- he IS all-knowing, after all. And I went on and pretended that I knew what He had in store. That's okay. A sense of humor has always been important to me.

I bet He almost busted a gut today watching me at Lowe's, buying paint, rollers, brushes, and spur-of-the-moment supplies to lay tile along my kitchen backsplash (which I DID today, and did WELL, I might add!). All that and 8 weeks left.

Oh well. More time to feather my nest.

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