Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget Where You Were

I hope this question, on this day, is one that never ceases to be asked: Where were you on 9/11?

For me this question brings on a feeling of deep sadness for all the despair people are feeling today, followed by a pang of regret and shame.

On 9/10/01 I took a flight home from a short weekend in Las Vegas. Deciding I needed the sleep, I called into work on 9/11 and slept in. Waking up around 9:10 I turned on the Today Show to see a picture of a burning building. Thinking to myself this was yet another school shooting, I turned the channel and watched a movie instead; oblivious to all the hurt, pain and devastation that was going on in the world right at that moment. Enter my shame. It's not as if by sitting on my couch watching the events unfold I would have been able to change anything that happened that day. No, my shame comes from the fact that people were coming together, suffering and I tuned out, lost in my own world.

It wasn't until two hours later when I called my neighbor to borrow a stamp that I found out what was happening. "We're being invaded, we're at war" she shouted to me. I don't remember everything I did after that phone call, but I do have one distinct memory that sits so clearly with me to this day; driving to the local convenience store and getting out of my car. From somewhere in the distance I heard the radio conversations from people reporting on the scene. Nobody was in sight and all was eerily quiet around me. Except for that broadcast. I couldn't tear myself away from the papers and TV reports for days after that. I soaked up every story I could, trying to somehow make it right by hearing their experiences, living through them and showing the compassion I lacked when I turned that channel.

A few days later while at work I overheard a conversation between a coworker and one of our vendors. She said she was so tired of hearing about this "9/11 thing". I was incredulous. The world that we knew changed on that day and she was tired of hearing about it. I hope she looks back on that day and feels a bit of shame herself.

No amount of remorse over our actions can change what happened that day. What we can do is look forward and honor the memories of those who risked and lost their lives so we can continue with our "American Dream". Don't let future generations lose the sense of what it felt like that day. Keep this conversation alive so they never forget to ask "Where were you on 9/11?".


Monday, August 19, 2013

More Progress (and boy am I getting some muscles!)

We're still elbows-deep into our shed building project but I had to stop and show a progress pic or two. I just love a good before/after - or in this case... a little bit later/still in progress.

Two months after we moved in...

Two years and two weeks later...

Five full 12-hour days after that...

We are setting small goals to keep up the progress of the greater one, which is to finally see this as a working brew shed/shed. It is so easy to forget how much work we have done when we don't quite get to our Sunday night goals. Looking at this picture reminds we of just how much we did accomplish. I can't wait to show you the progress pics from last weekend. Think siding, doors, a window and.... a roof!

Until next time...
Hammerin Ginger

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Concrete: Lift, Pour and Repeat

Not ones to rest on our project completion laurels, Forman and I barely took time to enjoy the new gazebo before we were off on our next DIYing adventure... And this was a BIG one!

Prep Day: Move two pallets of 60 lb concrete bags from trailer to garage. Forman did this on his own before I got home from work on Friday. I was pretty impressed he did that all so fast, and gave him a little ribbing for not letting me get any exercise in.

I didn't understand his smirk at that comment until the next day when I had to carry that stack from the garage to the back yard.

Four bags in and I was getting my workout!

Day One:  Pour first section of the 10'x24' concrete pad. Future home to the new shed/brew house.

Back concrete mixer into spot and get ready to work!

Eighty four bags later we had our first section poured, tampered, and smoothed out.

Let it dry and keep moving along. One completed pad is good but we still had two more to go!

Time to unload the third pallet to get ready for the next day. This time we opted to only move it once. It was much easier having the pile right next to the mixer.

Day Two:  Flip the wood form and get ready for pour number two. Time to pump up those arm muscles and haul some concrete again!


We were able to get this one poured in half the time as the first. I'm not sure if that is due to the added strength we gained from our lifting the day before, the pile being closer to the mixer, or if we just had a better flow going. Maybe a combination of all three, but it felt good to get it done! So good, in fact, I didn't even take any pictures.

Day Two (still):  Carry, Lift, and Repeat. Unload and stack concrete, move form into place, load into know the drill.

Halfway through moving the third pile of concrete Forman looked and me and said "We are really doing this, aren't we"? We were exhausted, covered in dirt and dust, and just wanted to stamp this project done, but we had to get that last section poured. It was late afternoon Sunday and the mixer had to go back first thing Monday morning. "We can do this" was my mantra.

And did it, we did! With the last ounce of energy left in our overworked muscles, we were able to get that third section poured and tamped down. And after we finally finished, I did the unthinkable... Trying to take the shortcut from the grass to the gravel, I stepped over the corner of the very wet concrete. Knowing my nickname is Crash (which I very much live up to) I should have known better. Exhaustion got the best of me and I lost my balance as I had one foot on the gravel and the other in the air. And wouldn't you know it, my foot landed smack on the corner of the pristine wet concrete. Luckily for us me, Forman was able to smooth that boot print out as if it never happened. Luckier for me, we had a good laugh at that!

So here we are at last. 210 bags of concrete later, the footing is poured and ready for the next step. Building the long-awaited brew house/shed. We have a three-day weekend coming up and have big plans to get the walls and roof up. Wish me luck on not living up to my nickname anymore on this project!

And as for the rest of that graveled area?

Next time we are having someone come out and do it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Things I did in 12 hours on Sunday - Plus a major check off the ole' To-Do list!

Sunday 7:00am - 7:00pm
Baked two loaves of Zucchini Bread
Blanched and froze three batches of peas and beans
Made Lemon-Garlic-Basil Butter for freezer
Potted 13 basil seedlings in greenhouse
Brewed beer
Made double batch of Plum Jam and canned
Made crab cakes

Thing I did for 5 minutes on Sunday...

Sat on the finished deck under the newly built pergola and enjoyed that well-earned glass of wine!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Deck

Good. This is a good deck. Big enough for a four-seater table and a two-seater hot tub. Not big enough for the 10X13 pergola that has been sitting in a box in the garage since last summer. Also not so good about this deck? It doubles as a slip-n-slide when it rains. And you might have heard that it rains quite a bit out here in the Pacific NW! Forman and I have each had our fair share of "whoa" moments, but neither of us actually fell. Well, unless you count that time I fell backwards off the deck but that had nothing to do with the slickness of the boards. Another story for another time...

Better. This is a better deck. Two extra feet don't sound like much, but when you attach them to the above deck, you get an expanse that could easily double as a dance floor. I'm picturing a gathering at sunset, cocktails in hand, laughter, and people milling about. Not quite yet though...don't let that mix of clean and new wood fool you. With seven years of dirt power-washed off, it is slick and slippery as ever!

Best. This is a great deck! The hardest part of this entire project was the chore I expected to be the easiest; painting. Putting down Restore Deck Resurfacer is much like painting over stucco with a roller. The thick, sandy, frosting-like paint does not spread like regular paint will, and it splatters everywhere! Two coats took us the entire day and wiped us out. The end result is exactly what we were looking for, so it was well worth the effort.

A different angle before the paint.

After. The surface is now rough, like concrete, but soft enough to walk on with bare feet.

We can't mark this project complete quite yet... There is still a pergola to put up, a fountain to take down, and a long-awaited pizza oven to build. For now picture us sitting back, feet up, admiring our sleek new slip-resistant deck!

Cheers to summer sunshine and good hard work!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Friday!

Ahhh, the weekend. Perfect for relaxing...with a hammer in your hand.

We will be finishing up the deck extension this weekend, if the weather decides to cooperate. Stay tuned for before, during and after photos when it is complete.

Til then I leave you with this lunchtime poem announcing a pita buffet. Forman, after reading it, responds lovingly, "You send this to your CEO?!" It made me laugh. What do you think?

Tommy Tutone topped his takeout with twenty tons of Tzatziki.
Turning to talk to his tot, the tower toppled on his tummy.

Famous Frankie fixed his focus on a fresh and fast falafel.
Fearing Frank forgot his breakfast, the fixer flung it on a waffle.

Pita party packed with protein; bread served warm and toasty.
Pitter patter to the 10th floor parlor for a plate at Lunch on Varolii!

Enjoy you weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Unplanned Hiatus

A funny thing happens when you write about life. It's called life. More specifically for me, it's called work all day, drop bags on counter, say hi to dog, check chickens, feed greenhouse seedlings, go to garden and water, come back home and get ready for tomorrow, collapse. Throw in a couple lawn mows, garden plantings and dog walks, and there you have it; my life for the past two months. And if that sounds like a complaint, well then I said it wrong. My to-do list is an ever-growing compilation of one satisfying chore after another, and I love it!

Backyard Entertaining Deck - Before

Thankfully my partner in crime returned after an extended trip to Japan. He is back, the summer is upon us, and we are looking at lots of projects to tackle over the next few months. First up for this long weekend? Add on to the deck. This is kind of a "The House that Jack Built" project. It goes something like this:

Add on to the deck,
so we can build the pergola,
to move and cover the grill,
to make room for the outdoor pizza oven that Forman has wanted to build for as long as I have known him.

I'm sure I could put that more poetically, but I can't stop eating this coconut macaroon a coworker just brought me. I hope my concentration returns by this weekend. I've got some tools to play with!

Stay tuned for updates on the summer project series dubbed "The Backyard Entertaining Deck".