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  • Agatha Christie: Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories

    Agatha Christie: Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
    My latest heroin...the little busybody old lady from St. Mary Mead who hides devastating powers of observaton behind her white hair and erstwhile knitting and an unshakeable commitment to logic. Where I all too often stumble about mired in sentimentality, Miss Marple's investigations remind me of the power and need to remain clear eyed. (*****)

  • Edited By Garth Battista: Bicycle Love: Stories of Passion, Joy, and Sweat

    Edited By Garth Battista: Bicycle Love: Stories of Passion, Joy, and Sweat
    Ok, a bike-geek book for sure. But if you get into pedaling around, if you daydream about your bike and scout the internet looking for upcoming bike events you can do....well, you will probably find at least part of this book speaking to you. (****)

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  • Josh Kelley: For the Ride Home

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Christmas 2005

  • Happybrennan
    A number of folks have complained that even though I have a digital camera, I haven't been using it enough. Thus I tried to take some pictures of the Godkids from Christmas Morning, 2005.

March 05, 2005

Kitchen is Finished

Kitchen_remodel_1Today the kitchen is officially finished - except I guess for the cleanup.  The pictures on the left of this collection are the way it was about a month ago. The pictures on the right are how it was after the last of the kitchen contractors left this morning.

Dan and I are really pleased at how it turned out - and I can't wait to actually start using it!  Sadly, we have decided to get it, and the whole house, cleaned pretty well first since dust coats just about everything and all the cabinets are filled with fragments of various sorts.

Still, anyone interested can see pretty much how it turned out.  All tribute really goes to Dan for his perserverance and vision really - from our late night conversation over a bottle of wine when he got up from the table, tapped on the then dining room wall and said, "you know, we probably don't have to have this wall here."  The rest is pretty much history.

I made my first real meal in the new kitchen yesterday, a salad with baby spinach, little tomatoes, some chopped green onions and a can of tuna. It was so nice to be able to prepare my own food again instead of going out all the time (expensive). Plus the new refrigerator is so niceā€¦... It keeps all my salad stuff just as crisp and fresh as if I had bought it today. Really, the old refrigerator would just let stuff get sad pretty fast but the new one is just a gem.

Anyway, it's done and the floors are in.  The only things left are the bathroom and the painter and it really will be done at that point...

February 20, 2005

Proceeding apace

100_0140Buenos Dias a los diez lectores de Sed Contra.  Estoy bien mas o menos. Si, escribe en Espanole porque en este semana todos mis trabajadores fueron del Salvador y no pueden hablar Ingles...y su jefe no estaba......

Anyway, things are moving.  The kitchen, frankly, didn't have much change this week as this was the week of the floor guys.  Yes, we now have Armstrong laminate flooring, something called Hartford Maple, throughout. I asked Dan if that meant it came already insured and he was not amused.

Anyway, I have included a picture of the hallway in the condo mostly becasue the other rooms are just too cluttered and entirely too dusty to make a good picture.  It's like living in a construction site, and while Dan's nose and lungs take it in stride mine react by sneezing mightily roughly every twenty minutes and leaving me feeling like I have the flu.

But I am offering it up for the sake of whomever out there might need an extra measure of Grace these days so someone else can benefit from my sounding like Jimmy Durante half the time.

Will try to post more later today.  Mass approaches now.

February 11, 2005

Moving Forward

Latest_kitchen Dear Sed Contra readers,

Well, assuming that there are still a few of you left, I wanted to bring you up to date on the renovation which has eaten up so much of my time, detracting from adding to the weblog and doing other things as well.

Here is the kitchen as of this evening (to the left, the picture on the right is my kitchen as formerly arranged - only a week ago).  The cabinetry is mostly in, the lighting remains to be done, as well as making a template for the counter top and the tile.  The counter top fabricator will be in to make the template on Monday.  The floor guys start their work on Monday as well.  We aren't at the end quite yet, but we can see it from here.

There have been some horror stories, but I will spare you the gruesome details because I am too content just now to want to dwell on negativity.  Let it just be understood that, based o100_0121n our experience, it is something of a phenomenon of warped economics that Home Depot remains in business at all and if I held stock in the retailer, I would sell it post haste. Also, praise God for competition in the telecommunications industry, even if Verizon has yet to discover that the statue of Ma Bell has been toppled from the public marketplace some time ago.

Anyway, I plan to return to blogging as I can....there is plenty to say these days.....

Thanks for your patience,


January 13, 2005

I Guess We Are Chopped Liver

KasmirgoldWell, the renovation still limps along.  This week's calamities included a scare from the design firm which called us to suggest that the company from whom we had purchased the granite that will one day (soon, we hope) be our new kitchen counter had lost or sold the slab to someone else.

(That's it, more or less, in the picture.)

This after we spent a good deal of time making cabinet and tile decisions based, in part, on having a counter top cut from that granite.  Dan, as he sometimes does, went into hurricane mode and a few minutes later found us driving out to the marble company.  He to "demand satisfaction" (he always sounds like someone delivering a dueling challenge when he says thing like that) and me to more or less back him up and try to keep him from being arrested for assault should it come to that.

Well, it didn't come to that.  Standing in someones lobby versus talking to them on the phone adds a good deal of immediacy to one's complaint  and, with us in the building, wonder or wonders they found the previously missing slab. Arrangements were made to transport it the fabricator poste haste.

The other renovation development from this week is the phone call on Tuesday that informed us that the cabinetry has been delayed a week, thus pushing back everything else as well. So I dutifully trooped down to the front desk this morning to refile the small blizzard of forms we have to use to get the freight elevators reserved for the days we need them etc.  Ah, the joys of renovating a condo on the 9th floor of  a high rise.
One thing that has continued to bedevil us has been the search for a contractor who wants to do the work we need done in our admittedly small bathroom. Essentially, we need space above the sink built out so it can hold a recessed cabinet, a movement of a light switch, installing a new sink and toilet and some small plumbing and drywall repair.

Simple, right?  Well apparently not really. We have had four contractors in to see the job.  All four have made approving noises and expressed confidence about being able to do the work.  All of them have left promising estimates but none, so far, have provided any estimates.  None.  The first, in fact, never bothered to call us back even after we left him lots of messages, and the others have merely failed to submit estimates at all. 

So we don't really understand why it is so hard to find someone willing to do this work.  Is it just too small a job? If so, why not just tell us up front and not go through the whole song and dance of promising us an estimate that will never come?  I mean if that were the case we wouldn't be offended if they told us and we would probably ask them for a recommendation of someone who would be willing to do the work.

Also, we are starting to compile lessons we have learned.  For example, lesson number one, unless you have retained a design firm to really work for you, they don't work for you.  Many design firms get paid by the cabinetry manufacturers as a commission for having sold their cabinets.

This means a couple of things.  First, there can be something of a tendency to steer customers to higher end cabinets with more expensive glazes and finishes because they increase the design firm's bottom line.  Now, I am not saying that every firm does this, but some do and just as you would have your eyes wide open whenever you were planning on spending significant amounts of money, so you should have them open here.

Second, the design firm does not work for you so if anybody is going to have to go the extra mile to protect your interests, it will be you.  The design firms are interested in making you happy customers because they want you to love your new kitchen and tell all your friends and family and maybe refer some business.  But remember, the folks who pay them are the cabinet manufacturers and watching the details will likely remain with you. For example,  by all rights, the design firm should not have concluded that the marble company had really lost or sold our slab from merely phone conservations. They, not us, should have been the ones to first put themselves in the company to track the stone down before concluding that the stone was gone.  After all, we used that marble supplier on their recommendation.....

December 16, 2004

Renovating The Crib


First of all,  my apologies to the loyal 100 Sed Contra readers.  Time to write on the weblog has  been severely curtailed of late because Dan and I, in a fit of madness I am sure, succumbed to temptation to significantly renovate our condominium, which is on the 9th floor of a high rise.

I could have written about this before but, frankly, I think my life is too boring for inclusion in Sed Contra and there really hasn't been too much about which to write.  Yes, there have been hours working with a kitchen design firm about how we can  make the kitchen bigger but still need to work within the constraints of small space.  But how much discussion of cabinetry can any one person (who isn't Dan) stand?

But now things are really happening. We have ordered material for the counter top. Saturday we will finalize the cabinetry order.  We are beginning to have schedules for appliances arriving, new cabinets arriving, contractors arriving. Stuff has to be thrown out, packed away, moved. We have rented a storage room in a nearby storage facility into which to put stuff we want out of here but don't want to throw away.  It is 10x15 and we hope we have enough space. Do you know how much junk two men can accumulate in a two bedroom condo over 17 years?  Picture an aircraft carrier's worth of stuff and you will be close.

So, every once in a while, in addition to other blogging, I will be updating this renovation; not because I expect you all will be dying of curiosity but because I suspect I will have to write about it or risk my health through a heart attack or spontaneous human combustion.  I hope to have someone give me a digital camera for Christmas so I will be able to save thousands of words by throwing in a few pictures as well.

Continue reading "Renovating The Crib" »

November 2006

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David Meets JPII

  • David_and_jpii_three
    In November 1996, through a series of truly unexpected events, I met John Paul II, at a audience in Vatican City. I have not generally told many people about this meeting; in part becuse I have been embarassed by how much I have been blessed and because I have regretted not having matured even more from the experience of grace the meeting represented. But now John Paul's days with us in the flesh may be numbered and I can feel more patience with and compassion for the man I was then. I have also come to recognize that letting more people know about this meeting is part of of accepting its importance in my life.

My Family In Christ

  • Admiretree
    Mike and Dian are among the key people in my life. They are among my best friends and their first born, Brinnaria, is my first Godchild. These are photos we took while on vacation together on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May, 2003.