Monday, April 20, 2015

Angst, but happily excited yet exhausted in our Row-home...

Linens rumpled and wrinkled on our bed made in an orderly fashion beckons me to relax and cat nap the afternoon away. On this past Friday three weeks after renovations began I had my meltdown. Our precious cat Max who is 14 has taken a spiral downwards slide. Dealing with Hyperthyroidism, he has lost weight and has entered into his final stage. I'm guessing this is truly his 9th of 9 lives. So On Friday April 17th being angst, exhausted, worried and dealing with things out of my control I had my emotional meltdown. 

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."
~Maya Angelou~

At the end of Friday John decided he, Nic and Larry would waltz our Stainless Steel refrigerator out of our kitchen though the dining room and living room with it peeing (OK dripping) water on our lovely 90 year old hardwood floors. It was then walked around the front to the back and moved into the basement. Why on Friday?  With our new Sub-Zero not being delivered till Wednesday? Just seemed to me Monday morning would of been just fine. It meant hoofing downstairs to get a beverage or anything cold and wiping the construction dirt off our feet from Friday till this coming Wednesday. Afterwards I found out the reason why. John had rented a refrigerator hand truck from U-Haul and didn't want to keep it rented till Monday. Seriously... 

On Saturday I woke up made the bed and went downstairs. I fed Max and Simon and made John and I Cappuccino's and afterwards this avid reader and stressed out blogger wound up back in the comfort of our bed. I settled into my nest feeling protected surrounded by soft gently rumpled linens and a book. I needed a rest, lately I have been sleep deprived. Reading quickly lured me into a well needed long nap.

Even with having an update to our kitchen, a rebuilt laundry room and a rebuilt garage renovations aren't always easy nor fun. Dust, dirt and debris fill the air and it is endless. Purification systems on overload to clean the air buzz away. Even when the work being done is exciting and will be greatly appreciated. I share this simple fact because as much as John and I are organized people who carefully plan and calculate completely ... let's just say "Merde" happens. Pardon my French! Different visions between John and I planning the lighting in the laundry room needed revisiting. Mutually we agreed on a change (my choice) late Friday afternoon. John spent much of the weekend wiring for 7 recessed LED 4 inch lights. Lighting will be balanced and energy efficient.

Having Nic and Larry working in our home weekdays has been truly an uplifting experience. On a daily basis they share funny stories of our son and the job site antics he partook in with great pleasure. Chris was artistic, witty and a prankster. All in all I really have no complaints with our adventures in remodeling once again. I just have an overwhelming sad feeling of Max's health demise looming over me like a dark rain cloud blocking the sunshine.

The Waterfall side of our Black soapstone has been installed. We purchased our soapstone from Marble Works Inc. in Philadelphia. A family owned business we have worked with before on our bathroom's second renovation.

Our Wolf gas cooktop has been installed. The downdraft is in, all the custom exhaust ductwork been fabricated but not completely connected yet. The downdraft turned into an real project with many calculations.  I'm loving my Mr. Wolf.

I have always had a passion for lighting, it seems to be my favorite decorative accessory. I purchased the Piccola table lamp designed by Pablo Pardo. I think it adds an interesting fun lighting accent with attitude on the countertop. Italian glove ivory leather (comes in other colors choices) with a pliable base (beanbag) that can be adjusted to any angle without tilting the perforated brushed aluminum shade. 

Apparently I use the term legacy a lot and Nic has teased me about it. Legacy as in the meaning of history or past of an architectural piece. Personally I have always embraced the past stories of things. I explained to Nic and Larry that I in my designs like the look of blending the old with the new.  To just patch the old plaster carved stairway walls with the new Sheetrock walls nearly installed. Nic mentioned that the walls will appear patched and I said yes perfectly OK, that's what I want. When painted (White) the color will bring the legacy of our renovation together and blend.  I sure do like that word!

I understand why my son and Nic were best friends. Truly their personalities are very similar. Nic when he laughs his entire face and eyes light up and its a very endearing facial characteristic. I would imagine few can stay annoyed at him for long and is an excellent plus in owning your own business. 

Photo of our current Red Oak field seamed beams ... Do not like them, never have since they were installed in 1981 with our original kitchen gut.  We've decided to replace them with 100+ year old, hand hewn 5x7 inch by 10 feet long salvaged barn beams. They will be pressure washed, nails removed, bug sprayed and kiln dried.
They are coming from Ohio and when installed photos will be shared and source will be given. Finally they will be lime waxed by me to soften their appearance. 

So when I told Nic I located barn beams ... You know it, he said with a big grin "but what are their legacy?" From now on in I will be more mindful of my over usage of the word legacy.

My poetry today I wrote about John. When he read it he liked it and agreed with what I wrote. He suggested I share it with this post. Hope you enjoy it, it offers a honest description of the man I love.

A long time ago I fell in love with a man with a keen brilliant analytical mind.
Making observations like Sherlock Holmes, he is often driven and solution inclined.

Evaluating almost everything he constructs a Hypothesis from which to draw a carefully thought out conclusion.
While using logical deductive reasoning forming an understanding in theory he then makes his necessary exclusion.

Sometimes spending additional time in investigation is needed to communicate beliefs and often becomes his reality.
To study and explain the opposite concepts of any given situation and even the results of a persons good versus bad duality.

My life long partner with his brilliant analytical mind pursues his passions with boundless dedication,
Thankfully life with him isn't all work because my feminine charm is still his biggest temptation.

To learn to balance one's time carefully while still enjoying a loving relationship and lifelong career...
Is something my love knew was a critical conclusion to our happiness and to me it's been very clear and always does appear.

© Vera

Linen Euro Shams with ties - Mooshop on
Mongolian Lamb Fur Bolster pillow - AvaFluffandStuff on

Piccola lamp -

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Decisions, decisions ... so many decisions!

Lately it seems my days are filled with one decision followed by another, some easy and fun, others requiring deep thought and reflection. This is a share of those decisions... 

John and I have great reverence living in the historic city of Philadelphia. Admiration and appreciation with the surrounding presence of our nations past history. Preservation is an important part of our home remodeling projects. Over the Summer we started discussing an update to our kitchen, which is something we seem to do on a continual basis throughout our home. Back in the 80's we gutted our house saving all architectural details that resonated Philadelphia charm in our home. When we updated our upstairs bathroom 3 years ago we kept much of the 80's initial remodel which is in an Art Deco style. 3 years ago we gutted and remade the shower with Carrara marble cut into subway marble tiles with a surrounding border, replaced the shower floor with Carrara mosaic and replaced all faucets to brushed Nickel and installed a new pedestal sink. The update to the bathroom was very successful and it in our mind became our focus and direction for our current Kitchen update. I find beauty in the blend of old with new, always striving for a beautiful blend from the two.
As I always describe my style as living with the past in the present with a wink and nod to the future.

Back in August during a weekend stay with friends in Connecticut I announced over breakfast I had decided it was time to change out our current peninsula in Luna Pearl Granite. Big surprise to John! I wanted a stone contrast between the window wall countertop in Luna Pearl and the Dining room table that John and I designed and had an oval slab of Luna Pearl placed on top. Deciding to go larger with a Waterfall side on the peninsula for a complete dramatic appeal. I always enjoy the moody and dramatic. Both of us love Black soapstone with lots of veins so we both were in perfect harmony on our stone choice.

Our soapstone is from Brazil, the slab we purchased is 116 inches long by 72 wide.
Soapstones real name is Steatite but is called soapstone because of its tactile feel, often described as feeling like a hard bar of soap. Soapstone was formed in the ground 300-400 million years ago. Soapstone is non-porous, completely stain resistant and will tolerate high heat. Needs no stone sealer but many choose to rub mineral oil onto it to enhance its veins and coloring. We chose to not use beeswax nor mineral oil. We elect to go natural with it and allow it to gracefully develop its patina while it ages. Perhaps not for everyone, it can nick and scratch, but a green scrubby pad will remove blemishes. Soapstone was a given since we have loved it for its amazing matte appearance that looks both rustic and sophisticated, dramatic yet humble.

Another decision was to replace our 3 year old GE 36 inch gas cooktop a GE monogram with a 36 inch Wolf professional gas cooktop with a 14 inch telescoping downdraft exhaust system. I love to cook and the GE just never fit my needs. The downdraft was a wimpy strength and only extended 9 inches, plus each burner didn't have independent ignition switches, although when purchased were told they did.
Using more than one burner while cooking was a major annoyance while listening to constant clicking. I would yell at the cooktop saying you can be replaced! We donated our GE to Restor the Habitat for Humanity store.

Now with the new downdraft system it meant installation of all new custom fabricated ductwork. Exhausting onto our small roof over the basement steps and running it through the garage ceiling and venting out of the small roof. A gut to the basement ceiling where the ductwork will go and the garage ceiling. Oh yeah, while at it John decided to take down the  garage ceiling and walls to allow him more space stealing from the basement for not only our vintage 1972 French Citroën DS car but allow additional space to hang our bikes and house our two vintage French Velosolex's (French mopeds). Lots of dirt, dust and debris. All in all I am getting soapstone and a Wolf professional cooktop, plus a glass front stainless Sub-Zero refrigerator with bottom freezer. Those are the visible enhancements to our kitchen update but require much work. We are losing a cabinet over our current stainless refrigerator (I will deal with its loss). Our current refrigerator will be moved to our basement (I'll explain) and deciding to run a spring water reserve connection to feed the built in ice maker in the Sub-Zero. As much as we adore Philadelphia we only drink delivered Spring water.

(Soapstone beginning to be installed)
My intention originally wasn't to include the glass front refrigerator but truth be told I have wanted one ever since the 1981 kitchen gut. During a late night phone conversation discussing our kitchen plans with a blogger friend who informed me Sub-Zero had introduced a small sized (30 inch wide) that would fit our needs. Well the following day we went to the Wolf and Sub Zero showroom, fell in love and custom ordered it even with the 6 week wait. Freezing rain and snow in a wintry mix we drove through, even horrible weather didn't stop me, Motivated, yes for sure!

Keeping it real, John wasn't excited to replace our current stainless, expense, time and work factored in. Unbeknown to me John had snapped an iPhone photo of the current door shelves and while standing with the showroom assistant he showed her the photo. No I didn't get embarrassed, not even with the 20+ Essie nail polishes in the door shelf and all those silly saved up Chinese restaurant duck sauce and hot mustard packets. (I have no explanation for hoarding take out packs)! I was a woman on a mission and wasn't going to be embarrassed or talked out of my refrigerator glass door desire.

In reality a 30 inch refrigerator is small and John suggested since we entertain often and I constantly cook to put our current refrigerator down stairs (basement) for additional storage. Simply brilliant idea as I was smiling ear to ear knowing finally I would have my glass front.

(Work going on as of this posting)
Aww but the work doesn't end here. A decision was made to also replace the small slate roof over the front door that over the past couple winters severely weathered and being 90 years old needed replacement. We are rebuilding it with real slate to preserve the original look and material.

We have an incredible amount of projects to complete in a short amount of time and we needed help. My son Chris's best friend Dominic (Nic) a best friend and thought of as a brother Chris was employed by Nic and my son did carpentry work. My son was very fortunate to have Nic in his life and to have worked with laughter and glee along side his friends. When Chris suddenly passed it was Nic who actually got me through the memorial service and over dinner only funny stories of Chris were told. John and I hadn't seen Nic since the service. A few email exchanges but no face time. Needing help this was a very easy decision to employee Nic and his crew. Chris's energy remains and I know he is here in spirit adding his two cents and off colored jokes.

( Raw edge will be used as backsplash, perhaps not to everyone's liking! To us it is artistic beauty in its organic state.)
Last year we realized our Grandson Dane needed a male role model in his daily life. When Chris passed we gladly took on responsibility and guidance of Gabrielle and Dane and there needed to be a decision of living arrangements. Blake their step brother entered into John's and my life at age 2. A Dennis the Menace adorable energetic boy. Blake later fell in love with all things Harry Potter and we would run out and buy him first editions and he would place Dane on his lap and read page by page to him. Just shows the sweet essence of Blake.

(Pretty Grand Gabby on Easter)
A decision was made last June to relocate the Grands to Florida to live with Blake and Brittany and their little boy, their family just grew last week with the birth of their precious baby girl, Brooke Lynne. Dane is thriving, straight honor roll student but Gabby never really settled in. Much like me she's very independent and more city girl than country. Gabby is very convincing and wanted to move back to the shore in NJ and live with a few girlfriends. We are supportive of her and will help pay for schooling and help her out financially. We flew her back a couple of weeks ago. Gabby was who we spent Easter with at the Washington Inn in Cape May. It was a long day of round trip totaling 4 hours drive time. I told Gabby I wouldn't post the above photos as I snapped away since she reads my blog. But hey guess what I wrote and told her I would post them - C'est la vie! I couldn't resist.

(Talk about being floored with another decision!!! I felt our new West Elm rug fit the below writing of the R word ... Like how I almost hit the floor.)
Lately John's been bringing up the R word, yes it's being bantered about ... Retirement decision time. I have never been a procrastinator, matter of fact I consider it a thief of precious time. But this R word question has been posed for consideration and met with me being evasive and unprepared.

When John and I became a couple I asked him what personality trait attracted him most to me. Without a moments pause his answer was my fierce independence and to be honest that attribute has always given me pride. A few years into marriage I asked John what drives him crazy about me? Again no pause, it's that you are fiercely independent!  So there you have a real personal share and why I am overwhelmed with the possibility of John's retirement, even with throughout our 36 years of marriage he is my best friend and we are always together.

I am indeed fiercely independent and as an Artist I fear the thought of losing even a morsel of my independence. I draw, paint and write poetry at whim. I'm the type of person who will very reluctantly leave a creation when the muse bestows my inspiration. Would retirement change my artful expressions? I don't know, it's under consideration and when I know the answer I will share it.  Until then I will delay, OK procrastinate my decision.

As you can see there will be a continuation to this post. Photos of our kitchen update will be shared and a decision answer on the R word. Next post I will share all sources. So I sign off for now and leave you with my poetry titled "Life Decisions".

Life is like a puzzle filled with decisions that boggle our waking thoughts and steal our inner peace.
Oftentimes a conundrum with resolutions that seem unkind and really do not offer any release.

Decisions made in a lifelong mystery that leads to twists and turns we really don't want to leave unanswered behind,
Amazing how thoughts to a balanced conclusion often make things appear dimmer and dwell in one's mind.

From daybreak to nightfall we spend hours evaluating life's issues embedded with deep concern,
You experience exhaustion and confusion from solving situations you hope and pray will not return.

Recently it occurred to me life spins in endless circles until it comes to an end ...
Seems much of our choices are often hard to understand and difficult to defend.

© Vera