So, this past summer I did quite a bit of home improving, choosing to challenge myself with various projects rather than paying a professional to fix what needed fixing. Of all the projects – painting, landscaping, creating a minimalistic vibe (except for my new office space which is packed with my life, packed with everything important to me– it was the interior door(s) that gave me the most trouble.
Interior doors, I thought would be the easiest project to tackle. In my mind, after researching ways to replace the doors I discovered the “Pre-hung Door”, which arrives in its frame, the hinges and the door handle (hole) already in place. All I had to do was set it into the opening, the spot in which I planned to replace the door. Easy, peasy. Right?
I ordered one door. For my ensuite bathroom. A test I had given myself. Could I do it? Actually replace an interior door? Why not? I asked myself. You’re self-sufficient. Hanging a door, regardless of the fact you’ve never done it, should be a no-brainer. Right?
The door arrived wrapped in plastic. And, yes, without knowledge about what I was going to suffer through, I was excited.
… here’s the kicker, though… I thought the frame around the door was simply protecting it while traveling to my destination, to my home. So. What did I do? I unhinged the frame and tossed it.
Literally. Threw. It. Away.
Then I “tried” to put the new door into the door opening, only to discover it didn’t fit.
I. Was. Confused. Frustrated. Didn’t understand.
Light cussing. Bad words. Sprang into the air.
Believe me when I say I went through quite a bit of turmoil trying to figure out where I went wrong. Even after watching video after video and reading information, nothing quite explained my problem. Until it dawned on me, several weeks later, that I had thrown out, not a protector piece, but an essential part of the door.
So, I leaned that door up against the wall in my room and I ordered another door (seriously, I didn’t want to build a new frame around the door. No way!).
I bought two doors, actually. I figured, I got it. I CAN do it, now. All I had to do was measure the original doors, side to side, top to bottom, choose solid or hollow ( I went with hollow – cheaper and lighter weight ) order them online, and wait for them to arrive.
Arrive they did. A month later. Two doors. One for the bathroom. One for a bedroom.
Yet, my confusion simply deepened. I now understood I had to keep the frame, but Why the heck wasn’t it fitting into the opening where the new door was projected to thrive? And then, again, it dawned on me. I had to take out the original framework before installing the new pre-hung frame.
During this second round, I decided to first replace the bedroom door – a more urgent necessity – so I began ripping out the heavy-wooded frame, making a mess in the hallway. I then proceeded to “test” the pre-hung door, placing it into the now (wide-open) opening, happy that it fit.
Yes! Now I’m onto something, I told myself, patting my back.
Until I realize that the frame (around) the new door didn’t extend to the width of the original frame (built with the house). Meaning, There is (not was, is) plaster board exposure inside the bedroom due to an inch difference in frame sizes. Plus, I had to chop off part of the bottom of the door to avoid it from scrapping (which is par for the course). What I didn’t think about, though, was that by cutting off an inch I cut the entire solid portion (sort of a sealant within the otherwise hollow door), exposing its inside, which means if a spider happens to wander underneath, it would find a prime spot to lay its eggs.
Aside from all my mistakes, the door is in. Not perfectly. And surrounded by crude, unfinished work. But for now I am done. And I will admit that the unfinished work does not bother me. I, for some odd reason, like the reminder of how hard working I can be.
But, at the moment, I am over replacing doors.
Over it, until next summer, that is.
In the end, the bathroom door will remain leaning against the living room wall, outside of its frame. And it will remain there. As will the one in my bedroom. Both are now part of my interior design, which are actually my new, pleasing-to-the-eye conversational pieces. Ironically, they look like planned art.
Sometimes the planned takes a turn and the unplanned becomes the focal point.
long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.
he wondered if he could have it.
i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.
for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.
which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.
until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.
ok, i said.
say what? what did i say? i asked myself.
really?! they both screamed.
really, i mumbled.
as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)
two? you sure?
yeah, you know, to play together.
within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.
i was smitten.
roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)
cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.
ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me. she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.
spoiled. i know.
Nine years ago Rudy took a job offer in Honduras, Central America. He had been working there for several months when the Winter holidays arrived. It was December. The kids and I were beginning our school break so, rather than having Rudy come home to us in California, we decided to venture into his native land and explore the country where he spent his youth.
One place Rudy really wanted us to see was Roatan, one of the Islas de la Bahia, so we jumped aboard a charter boat off the mainland, anticipating an exciting trip that’d take us across the sea.
All I could think was,
Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Honduras.
The. Boat. Trip. Was. Awful.
For me, anyway!
I mean seriously, there I was, hardly ever sick, can handle pretty much anything… vomiting. It was so embarrassing! And I was so obvious, sitting in the front of the boat stumbling to the rear every 10 minutes, to the same bathroom, over and over, during the entire excursion.
Rudy and the kids? Oh, they were fine! …Okay, well, maybe Roberto had an issue as well. But he did a better job of holding himself together than I did.
Two and a half, three hours later, we stepped onto a wooden dock. I was feeling a bit shaken, but the solid ground helped ease my vertigo.
Our rental car was waiting for us curbside. We were off to our destination (for the next four days). The resort was an almost untouched paradise. Almost, because it was under construction. Once we got past stacks of plant-less planters, still needed painting stucco, and an empty not finished by any means manmade pool this is what we saw:
After we tossed our packed things onto the huge beds, checked out the supersized bathtub, opened and closed every single kitchen cupboard (stocked full of useful items), and turned on, then off, the big screen TV, we ran Outside. Our toes clinched the warm, finely-grained sand as we ran to the water’s edge, where we then frolicked in three versions of blue water. The Caribbean Sea was splashing into a private alcove, a place of complete serenity. Pure bliss!
We spent those several days enjoying the uninhabited land, on the far side of the island. Seriously, it felt as if we were the only ones there. It was so quiet, like it belonged to us.
Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Roatan.
As days always do, ours came to an end.
On the winding road back towards the wooden dock, to our departing boat, we made a quick stop for some Dramamine. You know, the anti-motion sickness pill. No way, no how was I going to let the extreme rocking of the boat ruin my trip back to the mainland. So, I popped a few pills, as did the kids. Rudy had no need for them.
The drug did the trick. We all felt energetic and content, happy even. The boat was bouncing up and down, sailing along. I took it in stride, observing what I missed on the ride out. I watched Brad as he stood outside the door, stood with some tall guys and just seemed to enjoy the water’s spray as it licked his face. His exhilarated expression told a story of its own. Liz and Roberto were playfully being sarcastic with each other, laughing.
At the same time, people were screaming every time the boat lifted its nose into the air. The kids and I laughed. We thought it was actually pretty fun. It seemed, to us non-Spanish-speaking foreigners, everyone was having fun on the amusement park kind of ride.
Suddenly, it started raining outside, lightly at first, then progressively harder. I began to notice the faces of the people, at least those nearby enough to observe. Their pained looks said they weren’t screaming for the fun-of-it, they were scared. I looked out the door, towards Brad. The ocean was getting out of control. Rudy grabbed him by the shirt sleeve, quickly yanking him inside.
We were no longer laughing, or joking. We were quiet. Rudy began listening to the people, to their panicked concerns. “It’s bad.” he said. They only thing we could do was watch the people’s expressions and wait for Rudy to explain what was happening. I stayed calm, hoping it would help calm Liz, Roberto, and Brad.
All of a sudden someone piped, “Land!” We breathed a sigh of relief but quickly realized… it was definitely land but not the mainland. The boat, for safety reasons, had returned to the island, to Roatan.
We, again, stepped onto the wooden dock.
The weather worsened. It was windy. It was rainy. It was stormy. It was loud. We had to stay in a bug-filled room for the night. Needless to say, none of us slept. Rudy found a local guy to drive us to the airport way before the sun rose, where we had to sit and wait out the storm before boarding a 12-15 seater plane. A plane that was old, small and loud. Water dripped from the ceiling. I found myself smirking at the entire situation. Part of me thought the whole adventure had been kind of cool, in a extreme way, while the reasonable part of me wondered if that was the day of our demise. It sure felt like it could have been. But, that was a thought I kept to myself.
Late into the afternoon, our wobbly old plane safely landed. We had made it back to La Cieba, the small town where our boat should have docked. And where the kids and I hugged and kissed Rudy goodbye before returning home to sunny California.
kind of zoned out
and somewhat stressed.
Which brings on fatigue
to help me push through
I find joy
in every day,
in various ways.
in order for me
to feel content,
to feel calm,
to feel healthy
I need to embrace
In other words,
I need to
roll with the punches.
Chris had always been a person in my life, a sister who, no matter what, came through, was always there for me. Sitting here, thinking about her, how she was a part of my life, my relationship with Rudy and eventually the perfect aunt for my kids, I’m remembering when Elizabeth, was born, and how Chris needed to take charge because Rudy and I, both thirteen years younger than her, were very anxious about me giving birth, an unknown territory for the two of us.
Chris, the oldest of 11 children, knew exactly what was going on (not only because she was like a second mother growing up, but because I don’t even know how many times, she helped feline after feline, dogs too, give birth to their new offspring). You wouldn’t know it, but I’m telling you, those lessons she learned were a definite asset for anyone feeling the pains of labor. She could read the situation and help the process move along smoothly. Chris knew the signs of “It’s time!”
When I was in labor with Liz (yet didn’t realize it) and Rudy, assuming I was just a little uncomfortable (because that’s what I told him “Oh I’m just a little uncomfortable”) was grabbing his jacket and heading towards the front door just as Chris walked into our tiny apartment.
“What?! She looked at Rudy, stared him down. “You are leaving? Going to work? Why? She is going to pop this baby out any moment! You can not leave! I won’t allow it.”
My sister. My older sister. My only sister was the boss. At that moment, regardless of any reason, viable or not, she was not going to let him leave.
“I don’t think so! She’s in labor. Daphne is going to have this baby today,” my sister said, giving Rudy no other reason to dispute her. “You need to call work! Tell them you will not be in.”
“Alright,” Rudy mumbled, which is not an easy task, trying to sway Rudy to an opinion other than his own. But, I think like me, he sensed arguing was pointless. Chris seriously knew her stuff.
I suddenly felt a jab, a painful ache, something more defined than I’d experienced as the days of Lizzy’s birth grew closer.
Chris was right. Rudy needed to get me to the hospital.
Driving there, a 20 minute trek, seemed to take forever. And the fact that the pains grew stronger didn’t help.
We were both anxious.
“It will be okay. You will do fine,” I heard Chris’ voice tell me. She was in my head.
“We are going to be fine. This is it!” I told Rudy, cringing as another contraction surged through me.
Within the next several hours, three to be exact, our dark-hard baby girl was born, using every inch of her lungs to cry out, as if telling us, you did good.
And there was Chris, waiting in the lobby, waiting for the news. Is the baby a boy? A girl? Is Daphne OK? Rudy walked up to her and hugged her. Tight.
“Thanks for making me stay home, for making me call into work to say I couldn’t go in.”
She hugged him just as tight.
He walked with Chris to the baby window, arm around her shoulders. They both smiled. Gazing at Elizabeth, a wee child that Chris would spend a lifetime adoring.
The summer sunshine reminds me of a time, long ago when the shade of our skin was one of a few times color defined Rudy and I.
We made plans to spend the day at Huntington Beach in southern CA. We gathered a few what we thought of as necessary items to enjoy the day: a radio, towels, an ice chest full of snacks and drinks, magazines, and baby oil.
Baby oil?! Seriously, baby oil?!
Well, I’m telling you, at the time it made perfect sense. A quick way to color the skin.
A BIG MISTAKE, to say the least.
For me, anyway.
You see, Rudy has lovely brown skin. I am glow-stick white.
There we were, slathering that oil on, all over our exposed skin. Both of us looking nice and shiny. Feeling satisfied, we horizontally positioned ourselves, side-by-side, each on our own colorful towel, relaxing, to the point of snoozing under that hot sun.
Rudy noticed I was turning pink, said as much, but let the issue go when I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m fine. I’m getting a tan!”
As mid-afternoon approached, in the heat of the blazing sun shining brightly in my eyes, it was hard to tell if I managed more than a slight coloring. I felt I should continue to sunbath, just a bit more sun, a bit more color but, it was time to leave. So we did. Plus, we were hot, and tired.
We stopped at a mini-mart on our way home. A cold ICEE, Cocoa-Cola flavor, please! was in order. As I stepped out of the car, my skin – especially behind my knees – hurt. Not too bad. Just a slight irritation.
My reflection spoke to me from the glass of the store window. “Oh, wow, you did get some color. Definitely!”
I looked towards Rudy and noted that he had tanned nicely. He looked all chocolatey-brown, not milk-chocolate but rather dark-chocolate, like Hershey’s Special Dark. He was looking good, real good!
Cold drink in hand, I eased myself back into the car. I could feel the sun soaking in, doing its job of coloring me.
Ah, what a soon-to-be joke!
When we returned home I asked Rudy if he wanted to go to the pool, to cool off before we headed to our little abode, our own personal space. “Sounds good to me!” he said with interest.
The pool was somewhat crowded with other residents living in the apartment complex. The water felt good, soothing. It seemed people didn’t want to look our way, but they did. “Hum, am I looking good with some sun on my lilly-whites, or what?” I modestly questioned under my breath.
Or what? was the answer to my ridiculous thought!
30, maybe forty, minutes later, when we entered our place I immediately walked to the bathroom to shower off the day’s debris. “Oh. My. Gosh!” I sort-of yelled as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. “I am so red! My face looks like a cherry tomato!”
“You are red. Really red.” Mr. Good-Looking-Dark-Chocolate-Brown casually stated. “Seriously red.”
I’m Red. He’s Not.