Thankfullness

December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving was spent with friends, an unusually small but very delightful celebration of thankfulness for the bounties that we have.  This blog is to poke fun at ourselves and each other about the conflicts that arise as two people attempt to navigate decision making with different agendas and “vent” in the process but we are aware that we have it pretty damn good.  And we really do love each other although mostly when we’re not maneuvering through remodel resolutions.

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200 Year Anniversary Party

September 14, 2013

From Janelle:

We’d been scrambling to finish up in time to host the 200 Year Anniversary Party.  Friends invited us to their “cabin” in Idaho on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene for five days over Labor Day weekend and although I have a strict rule that no one works in the house while we’re gone (see More Than Just Broken Glass) we were running out of time. Contractor Don installed the new sliders and windows upstairs while we vacationed.

Cabinet installation stalled for months and everyone blamed the painter so it must be true.  The kitchen doors were manufactured, installed and sent to the painter for his high gloss finish and they look like lacquer for a fraction of the cost but the bathroom doors remained in place, lost, forgotten and naked.  No matter how much I begged, the artist remained unresponsive to Contactor Don and Cabinetmaker Steve’s messages.  When you’re the best in town, everyone waits.

I had pretty much resolved myself to the fact that my beautiful new bathroom would be marred by unshuttered cupboards as they had finally been whisked to the paint shop but no promise of completion had been made.

Friday arrived as well as seventeen people frantically scurrying like busy church mice.   Contractor Don put up his hands in mock fright when he saw me.  “I don’t know if I should kiss you or strangle you!” I told him as we hugged hello.  Two carpenters, two electricians, one heater technician, two hardware installers, two painters, one contractor, one A/V guy, two gardeners, two metal workers, Lewis and one housekeeper madly attempting to clean up after each of them.  The freshly coated cabinetry was astonishingly installed and Alec the A/V guy finally left around 8:00.

Saturday arrived, the oppressive heat we’d been experiencing subsided, an amazing cotton candy sky put on a show as if on special order and The Party to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary as well as three other couples 50th was a success.  Oh, and everyone loved the house.

My dad went to college with a group of friends that has remained close over this last fifty-five plus years.  These people are my family.  We have celebrated more events that I could possibly count and grieved together on a few rare but devastating occasions.  We have camped, house boated, water and snow skied, resorted and cruised together for decades and each trip is anticipated as the Great Adventure that it is.  The stories, it is all about the stories.  The craziness was factual, the lore perpetual.  I never, ever grow tired of hearing the stories.

Fifty years together is an amazing accomplishment.  We have not yet hit the twenty year mark and for many years I wondered what the fuss was all about as to how hard marriage was as ours had always been easy.  The last few years have been hard; my jobs has become insane and the remodel stress has been real and tangible.  The constant differing of opinions and communication styles and varying alignments has changed the “us against the world” to sometimes “me or him siding with a construction vendor and against the other” and it is wearing and destructive.  We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and when we look around our beautiful new home we are proud and grateful but anxious to get back to the way things were; they were pretty damn good.  They’re still wonderful but there are a few sharp barbs here and there that need time to soften.   We had the opportunity to celebrate with four couples that have made it to that fifty year mark and I look forward to our twilight years as well, together.

From Lewis:

You always hear that if you can make it through a remodel you can make it through anything and in a lot of ways it is true. Hopefully it will return to some normalcy soon and we can enjoy the house that has taken a lot of work.

The party was a success and of course everyone liked the house.  Sometimes things never get done until the last minute.  It was a busy push the last few days and Janelle was a basketcase worrying about every detail but in the end it all turned out fine.  Now that it’s getting cleaner as less and less dust is left behind, Janelle will stay busy following me around with a towel, broom and closing doors behind me so good luck.

Do you have an extended family?

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Mom Dad Party 2013Jerry and RoseanneBill and Terri


Good Friends, Good Food, Good Times

August 18, 2013

From Janelle:

Life is nothing without great friends and loved ones. Our “River Family” came together due to our passion for hot weather, fast boats, water skiing and unusual for the “river crowd”, an appreciation for the finer things in life. Jeff and Lisa accompanied us to The Hollywood Bowl on Friday and crashed on the Functional But Not Yet Completed HUDDLE Bed. The remaining River Family came to brunch on Saturday minus Mark and Val who were on lockdown due to babysitting commitments. Mark does not like to miss a party so we are anticipating a “one up” event soon!

EVERYONE was at the house on Friday. Every trade was represented; delivery, plumbing, carpentry, stone mason, cabinetry, metal working and stucco totaling 18 guys overall in the house and about 5 outside stuccoing. Electricians and painters were the only ones missing and painters were summoned but did not return Alberto’s call. It is funny how the trades operate, little bands of merry men traveling the highways from job to job like gypsies. I don’t know why but it cracks me up. Sometimes they’re scheduled and sometimes they just show up, two to three strong if they’re in the neighborhood to see if they can be of any use.

Lewis was cleared to go back to work next week so his supervising reign is coming to an end. It has been very helpful to have him home every day to answer any questions or deal with any situations that arise. There was so much going on at the house I decided to take some rare time off from the office and the pounding and drilling and hammering and sawing and yelling drove me nuts. Lewis is home with that every day and has never complained about the noise but then again, he is usually participating in all of those activities when he is at work. I often wonder why men yell at each other rather than speak but that is another topic for another day.

Friday accomplishments:
• Bar appliances were delivered and installed, minus the refrigerator as it wouldn’t fit past the entry way scaffolding; ugh!
• Interior doors were installed (finally!) so that our overnight guests had some privacy.
• Custom designed by Janelle stair railings were installed
• Base boards were installed.
• Drywaller patched various holes.
• Stone mason drilled hole in bar Sileston counter for Lewis’ kegerator spout. I was supposed to discuss some additional tile work with him but when I turned around he and his two assistants were gone.
• Cabinet was trimmed to squeeze in wine refrigerator. Curls of wood were everywhere.
• Cabinet installer Wayne was back to install more drawer pulls.
• Stucco guys smooth coated several walls. The entry way is to be completed and scaffolding removed on Wednesday but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Saturday’s activities:
• 11:00 Friends arrived for brunch
• 5:30 Friends left after brunch
• 5:30 Other friends in the neighborhood stopped by
• 6:00 My parents and niece Maddie came for dinner
• 12:00 Sleep

From Lewis:

Yes having friends is great. There were so many different activities going on Friday that it was hard to think that the house would be somewhat ready to entertain. Thanks to Alberto (Contractor Don’s right hand man) the house was presentable with the pink protective paper on the floor and card board and all the tools and trash gone. We were very pleasantly surprised to see how clean it was when we got home around 11:o8 after we were able to get the last pizza of the night on the way home from the Bowl. I am heading back to work this week and I’ve heard my return has been anticipated because it’s my turn in the cooking rotation at the station.

Good Friends

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Here Comes the Sun

July 7, 2013

From Janelle:

Southern California is known for endless sunshine, moderate temperatures, surfers and Hollywood. While it is home to all those things, the sun doesn’t always take center stage. “June Gloom” is a little known fact outside of these parts but is a harsh reality. Oh, how you in Minnesota scoff at us but there’s a reason we live in our little slice of paradise and it isn’t because of the cheap housing or light traffic. Some of us wilt without sunshine, our hearts dry up and shrivel just a bit with each passing dismal day, longing for rays of glory to break through the clouds.

cloud,clip
Beach dwellers are a seasonal species. While outdoor activity is accessible any time of the year, we, for the most part, seek shelter in our toasty homes like the rest of the country; it’s just too cold and dim to go out but when the sun bursts through, the inhabitants immerge as sand crabs from the ocean, greedily inhaling the salty air. I just can’t get myself motivated for a walk or bike ride I until I see sunbeams. Lewis doesn’t need illumination motivation and it drives him nuts.


It has been balmy for the past week but the day before July 4th was overcast and I was worried that the main attraction would not make an appearance. As an annual tradition we host a small bunch to celebrate our nation’s independence and The Sun is a requirement. A couple years ago fog was so heavy that the thunderous firework explosions were heard but not seen, a very sad day indeed. The sun gods were happy this July 4th, The Sun gave a spectacular performance and all was good.  


People assumed that we wouldn’t entertain during the remodel but our holiday and summer Booze Cruises stop for nothing. Friends invite their friends and one evening we had twenty people partying in our temporary living room at the foot of the master bed. The jokes were dirty, the decimal level high and some people thought it was odd but we didn’t care, we had a good time. We hosted gatherings in our bombed out bottom floor, a portable garage lamp rigged in the corner of the room the only light. No one cared. Laughter, cocktails, good food and great friends, that is what a home is for.

From Lewis:
It is true. I have met many people whose mood is dependent on the weather. I’m just an all weather person and enjoy any day for what it is…. another day to party!!! It has been harder entertaining during this ordeal but we enjoy sharing times with friends. Can’t wait to have all the food and drinks in the same room. We still have a mini fridge and the coffee pot in the bathroom (we’re waiting until the floors are installed), a mini fridge in the kitchen and our old fridge in the garage. Mixing a cocktail is sometimes a challenge!

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Chef Gordon Ramsey for Dinner Please!

July 22, 2012

From Janelle

A fantastic by-product of not having a kitchen is that we have been guests of friends for dinner.  We haven’t had to order much pizza or take out as it seems every night that we have a dinner engagement.  John and Cindy made homemade pesto pasta and tri tip, Todd and Joan prepared a wonderful summer BBQ, Linda and Rainer hosted a creative pizza party where I reconnected with old friends and met new ones and the invitations keep coming.

I saw a post that Gordon Ramsey, the foul mouthed and bad tempered British chef’s latest target for his “Kitchen Nightmares” program would be making over a local restaurant.  I managed to get on the guest list and since Lewis was working, headed out with a couple girlfriends, Kathy and Val (My Gal Pal Val as Lewis calls her).

The food was horrendous.  I’d been there a couple times and while it was never anything special, this time it was inedible.  Ramsey has his work cut out for him.

 You hear reality stars say “After a while you just don’t see the camera any more” and you think, “Right”.  We had a camera focused on us for two minutes and after one, forgot about it.  Maybe there is reality in TV after all! Or, maybe it was the wine….

There is a slim chance that we will be on the show but it doesn’t matter, we had a super fun evening.  New friends, old friends, girlfriends.

From Lewis:

Janelle’s “Will work for food” email she sent out is working. Many people thought it was a joke or spam, but we have been getting invites from friends, both new and old. The email went like this:

Subject: Will Work for Food (This is not a joke)

We have no kitchen. We will work in yours for our dinner. Dine in or dine out, your choice. We’re available!

Janelle & Lewis

Gordon Ramsay, Kitchen Nightmares

Our Kitchen


Tagging Party August 2011

June 26, 2012

From Janelle

Remodel commencement dates are ambiguous.  Contractor schedules, vacations, and LIFE all come into play when determining when to begin such an endeavor.  Summer, however, is for parties.  Warm evening, outdoor barbecue centered, summer parties.  While the remodel trigger date hadn’t yet been determined, we were certain that it would begin soon and planned an August Tagging Party.

“Taggers” were invited to bring a felt tip marker and graffiti away on our pristine white walls.  Who knew our friends were so talented?  Mary Ann free handed murals in mere minutes, Debbie drafted 60’s era art and Tracy Metro, TV host and designer, went wild with a fluorescent orange spray can.  An unnamed party got a little crazy and spray painted a body outline in the carpet, complete with a wine stain for blood.  Seriously!?!

Mortgage interest rates dropped and refinancing the house was a no brainer until our loan broker informed us that the house must be “made presentable” for the appraiser.  Our beautifully defaced walls needed covering.  After a couple of trips to Home Depot to cover the markers that had soaked through several coats of paint the scribbling was a distant memory.  Most of it anyway.

The appraiser made his rounds, unaware that the Christmas wrapping paper strewn on the floor covered the life-sized body line, re-hung paintings covered holes in walls the contractor had cut for structural discovery and the strip of doodles remaining on an aqua wall went unnoticed.  Whew!  Our refinance concluded without a hitch.

From Lewis:

There really is not a good time to start a project. Just do it and get it done. You can try to plan but just let it run its course and start when you’re ready.

The party was a blast and everyone had fun. Too bad we had to cover all the artwork but we have plenty of photo documentation.  I wasn’t worried that we would be able to disguise our artwork although concealing the body on the floor with Xmas boxes and wrapping paper was pure genius. Of course, it was my idea.

Debbie’s artwork

Tracy Metro (famous designer!) graffiti

Lewis 3:00 AM

Lewis 3:00 AM

Someone didn’t make it home.  Can I keep the wall?


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