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This is the original kitchen, viewed through a “window” from the TV room.

Prior to the remodel, I was lucky to have friends remind me to take before and after pictures. I knew the change would be drastic, so I needed a point of reference. I chose to stand in the TV room and look through the open walkway into the kitchen.

I’ll do another post with more kitchen details, but here’s one that shows one perspective of the changes that took place from September 2018 through February 2019. Remember in a former post where, to be safe, I judged the kitchen wouldn’t be ready till Valentine’s Day? It was a good thing I did because it’s still not done. Really close though, just a few cosmetic fixes left.

Take a look at how the view changed over the months.

I scraped the popcorn off the ceiling so I could have a nice smooth finish. Then I began emptying the cupboards and the pantry.

Then tore out all the old cupboards, removed the appliances, and began tearing up the tile floor. The refrigerator was moved into the TV room and plugged in with an extension cord running into my bedroom, behind me as I take the photo.

At that point the contract work came in, dismantling the walls. Look how much that opens up the room already!

After everything was torn out, I cleaned up the floor. It’s still such a mess.

Sheetrock went up, the water heater was replaced with a tankless water heater for more space, and I was able to begin to visualize the future finished walls.

Tara came home from college for a couple days and we painted the walls.

Where did I wash dishes for all that time? You guessed it: in my bathroom sink. No, it was not ideal.

When the painting was done, the electrician hooked up some of the lights so we had something to work by. Then the cabinets were installed.

At long, long last the floor was installed. It was finally taking shape. Since the wood in the kitchen is white oak, and the wood in the TV room is red oak, it’s not a seamless transition. As the wood ages it will blend better. Even with the different wood, I like this much better than the trim pieces in between each room. Now it’s a flat surface that doesn’t trap dirt.

Finally put the dining table and the refrigerator back into the kitchen (and I scratched my beautiful floor in doing so – arrrgh!). Also installed microwave and wall oven.

And viola! My kitchen today. I’m all moved in and cooking again. And washing dishes in a proper sink.

Wanna take one more look at what it used to be? The old kitchen was small and dark. The new kitchen is bright and open.

Big changes.

This is Mt. St. Helens when I arrived at the Observatory.

This is Mt. St. Helens when I arrived at the Observatory.

The ranger at Mt. St. Helens National Monument said, “Well, in answer to your question I’ll tell you about our 6:15 rule.” And he explained that the doors of the Johnston Observatory are closed and locked at 6:00 p.m. In a Murphy’s Law type fashion, the clouds typically clear up around 6:15 p.m. “From what I hear, you have a good chance of seeing the mountain sometime between 6 and 6:30,” he said.

So I waited. I waved goodbye to all the rangers as they left. From the top of an observation hill I watched the parking lot clear out. I found a nice comfortable railing to sit on, beside a trail, with nothing but volcano gorgeousness in front of me… and I waited.

And it paid off.

6:25 p.m. I knew it wouldn't clear by 6:30, but I could tell the clouds were clearing. So I stayed.

6:25 p.m. I knew it wouldn’t clear by 6:30, but I could tell the clouds were clearing. So I stayed.

6:48 p.m.

6:48 p.m.

7:05 p.m.

7:05 p.m.

7:16 p.m. Look at that! What an incredible view. Perfect light, perfect weather. I was rewarded well beyond expectation.

7:16 p.m. Look at that! What an incredible view. Perfect light, perfect weather. I was rewarded well beyond expectation.

{This is in Response to Gaia’s Questions and Reflections for December 24, 2009}


but then, I’m not even sure it was a gift. I’m actually afraid it’s been a cop-out.

I am so tired of obstacles. Man, over and over in 2009 I feel like I’m just bopping along all innocent-like, and wham! Right in the kisser. You know? jeez.

So my tendency to react with fury, indignation, superiority, fear, defensiveness, etc. is weakening. I’m starting to think that I’ll get blindsided periodically for the rest of my life, and that it’s normal and natural and I need to learn how to relax and accept it with grace.

For what it’s worth, in answer to the question, I’ve given my patience. Rather than add some mean & nasty energy to the planet, I’ve merely sighed and trudged on. I guess that’s good. I mean, I guess it’s better than being angry. Or fearful.

Or is it?

That most of the time, if you’re patient, I’ll eventually get it. Thanks for waiting for me and for having faith. ❤

I wrote in a blog entry in June that I perceived a test had been placed before me, and that I had negotiated it in a way that I feel good about. It happened again.

This one was a test of my ability to mediate. I was challenged to remain calm and helpful (and especially loving) despite my boiling frustration.

Years ago in my quest to find out who I am, I discovered that I am more open about sexuality than my family trained me to be. My mother, especially, raised me with strict conservative Christian fundamentalist beliefs, with a healthy dose of her own yearning for the loss of the Victorian era, a time when “things were done right, and women knew their place.”

When I finally became comfortable with the fact that I am bisexual, and actually love my gay and lesbian friends as much as my other friends… I became irritated with my mother. Her belief system makes no sense to me, and I am driven to somehow broaden her thoughts since I am so close to her. It’s an excercise in futility. I can no more convert my mother to loving acceptance of people who are different than she can convert me to hardcore Christianity.

It makes me SO ANGRY! I want my mother, of all the people on the planet, to be above this. I want her to be my hero in all ways, not just some ways. I want our visions to mesh.

I called her because it was her birthday. During the phone call she said she had spent an awful Labor Day Weekend agonizing over a personal struggle in her life. She needed to talk about it. She needed peace.

Her current church is Lutheran. I say current, because my mother is always seeking. Since I’ve known her (wink), she has been Christian Scientist, LDS (Mormon), Southern Baptist, First Christian, Mennonite, Methodist, Catholic… mmmm.. I think I hit them all. Anyway, she’s now Lutheran and she LOVES this church. She loves the pastor. She loves the congregation. She loves the rituals and the chanting and the order and rules and tradition. I have never seen her get so involved in a community before. She does all the landscaping, she cleans the church every week, and she has just recently joined the board. This is really unusual for her. She is not the kind of person who gets involved. Never never has. But she loves this church so much.

Her church, and apparently Lutherans in general, are being pressed to vote on whether to allow “practicing” gays to become pastors. She says, “Well, they can admit who they are and what they like…but we don’t want them to… DO anything… you know…”

The conversation started out poorly, as our conversation on this topic always does.

“But Mom, what’s the difference? You say it’s ok if you know what their preference is.”

“It is ok if they admit they think like that.”

“So if that’s who they are to you, what’s the difference if they are ‘practicing’ or not?”

“I just don’t want anyone to think it’s ok.”

“But you think it’s ok if that’s who they are, just not if they follow their heart.”

“I don’t want any children to grow up thinking it’s ok to be like that. It makes me sick to my stomach. I literally get sick. It can’t be right.”

“I see you feel strongly about it.”

“And the Bible specifically states-”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen it in the Bible. But hey, everyone finds things in the Bible that simply don’t  work for them.” I was thinking dinosaurs. You know, sheep weren’t here before dinosaurs. There’s just no way.

She surprised me by agreeing immediately. “Yes, that’s true. I know.”

Maybe it was her agreement that threw me. I suddenly realized that I needed to stop and think. My mother called me to talk about how much she is intolerant of homosexuality, when she knows that I have battled her about this before and that I won’t agree with her. Not to mention that I am currently living with my gay uncles, and I’m an atheist. For heaven’s sakes, what is she thinking? What does she need from me?

I had to separate interests from positions.

And it was so simple once I thought about it: Mom is desperately afraid of losing her community. She is struggling with the possibility that her Lutheran community might vote in a way that she disagrees with, and if that happens she doesn’t know if they can be her community anymore.

I talked with her about how Lutherans stand for many things, and how she supports nearly all of it. I reminded her that when describing the local group she loves so much, she could describe many things that say who they are, and their position on homosexuality is merely a part of it, so this vote doesn’t say who Lutherans are, it only says how they vote on this issue.

I said that she needs to stay with her community no matter how the vote goes, and to be proud of them and love them as much as always. Perhaps there may come a time when her views don’t agree 100% with theirs, but she can hold that in her heart and know it about herself, and stay true to herself. But that is no reason to abandon the whole group.

I reminded her of her need for order, and for things to be in their place in a way that is logical to her. This quality causes her to question homosexuality more than other things because she is trying to make sense of it according to her own way of thinking, and it’s not working. Because of this, it’s a topic that particularly stressful and will always be unsettling to her, and she can recognize her own tendencies and expect to be frustrated on this topic.

She came up with a few of her own ideas then, which put her at ease, and she was able to finish the phone call.

Yesterday she called me to thank me for the birthday card (It was a painting of Victorian women in the setting sun with super mooshy words inside – heh heh). It had arrived late – oops! Then…after a pause, she added, “And thank you for the phone call. You really are a mediator. You said just the right things and you made me feel so much better and I know you don’t agree with me on any of that. I don’t know how you did it. It is such a sign of maturity. I’m so proud of you.” She was gushing. I got embarrassed. Aw, shucks, Mom, I’m 37. It’s about time I start acting maturely.

“And it is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the World. We should seek a final end to this menace, even if we do not hope to make one.”  ~J.R.R. Tolkien

one ring

It strikes me that wisdom and humility go together. That a stroke of wisdom isn’t so without careful consideration of posterity. How wise can any decision be that doesn’t take into account the repercussions that may come – no matter how far down the line?

Tolkien was insistent that his writings didn’t contain a hidden message, or a political commentary. We’ll grant him that. Great writing, however, will take on a life of its own, as readers see themselves and their own circumstances among the pages.

Some days I feel like a hapless bystander watching my earth crumble as its foundations are pulled apart in order to build the structure on top. I don’t think we are quite frightened enough. I don’t think we are wise enough in our plans. How many generations ahead are we planning for; is it our grandchildren? Their grandchildren?

The quote above is taken from The Lord of the Rings, which I am reading again because it’s been too long. This quote would not leave me alone yesterday. It is spoken by Gandalf at the Council of Elrond, when a somewhat easier suggestion is brought forth by Glorfindel that to deal with a great evil thing, the council might hide it, rather than destroy it. And Gandalf says, no, that would only protect themselves, and maybe a few future generations, but it would not get rid of the evil for good.

This makes me think of conflict in general. There are different ways to address differences: Firepower, Totalitarianism, Exploitation, Oppression, Abuse, Imprisonment, Ignoring, and Lying. These things can be effectively used to squash something that exists in opposition to what we think our goals are.

But!!! These methods will never hold indefinitely. These almost always breed retaliation. Maybe not in this generation, maybe not in the next, but eventually Mother Nature (including all her living beings) will fight for survival.

OK, so I’m preaching to the choir here at Zaadz, but let’s try honest engagement. As a species, I’m going to guess that love and patience must be for humans the most difficult path of all, because it is so seldom taken and so seldom suggested on a grand scale. Like with the One Ring in Middle Earth, the only right path is likely the most difficult one of all. And if we’re serious about it, we realize that as nice as “love” and “patience” sound, they really are the most difficult path.

We all know that facing our personal demons requires being totally honest about what’s going on; taking on these truths about ourselves as frightening as they are, and being strong and firm enough to move forward in faith that our work will come to a greater good –  that perhaps we don’t even understand yet. Even more challenging is that in order to grow we must love ourselves, and believe ourselves worthy of love, and we must be patient with ourselves in order to have the time to grow and heal.

It is encouraging to have stumbled upon a reminder that my slow and painful method of healing myself is actually the right path to be on. That I am not the only soul who struggles with the future – way into the future. And that even mighty, beautiful, and intelligent elves like Glorfindel would see reason in an incomplete solution, and so I can’t be too hard on myself when I make a mistake.

In several ways!

Patience and perspective are always the order of the day. Right now I worry about money and that just seeps into everything else. I am not sleeping well, I feel pressure and I’m afraid of the future. My growth is in resisting panic, maintaining my happy spirit, letting go of things I have no control of, believing in myself though I am not getting validation in the form I wish for.

I am still unemployed, and it’s hard to keep my demons quiet. In the midst of persistent mortgage payments, mounds of educational loans, and the need to get my daughter equipped with all her school gear, I ask myself, “What was the point of going back to school? I should have just stayed in that job where I was miserable, and worked rotating shifts and had no chance of advancement… At least I had a paycheck to take care of my family.”

Icky dark thoughts. They do nothing but promote more dark thoughts. Perspective helps me remember what a beautiful life I have, which is full of so many gifts: my daughter, my partner, my family and friends who love me. Though I whine about the cost, I have a home. Though I whine about dipping into my retirement fund, at least I have one to dip into. The things that bring me the most joy don’t cost anything at all, so what, really, have I lost by being poor? I’m not keeping up with the Joneses.

Well! If that’s all it is… I guess I’m just fine after all. Thank goodness!

Comment from the old blog:

Hello my beautiful friend, First, thank you bunches for my birthday gift! It’s so lovely and perfect for my altar. Second, I know how tough this has got to be for you so I’m happy that you’re focusing on the lesson of patience, staying in the beauty of the present moment (perspective), and faith/trust in being supported by the Universe. The whole job hunting process is so hard (even when employed like I am). The job I’m being considered for right now is $10,000 more a year than I’m making and since we’re barely scraping by, with a car that’s about to fall apart, that could make a huge difference for us. I keep telling myself as I go to interview after interview that it’s like dating–it’s about the chemistry, not my worth as a person/employee.  Love you and thinking of you…Ophelia

One of my many guises

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