Friday Things: The Summer Travel Edition

Every time I return from a trip I think “I’ve got to find a way to do this more often.” Not because my everyday life is so tedious, but because traveling helps me make the most of my day-to-day world.  I always return more focused on what I want to do and less burdened by what I think I should be doing.

For example, I returned home from Germany at midnight and flew out to Boise first thing the next morning for M.J.’s high school reunion. When I’d booked these back-to-back trips I had great intentions of packing for both before I left town, but I got busy tying up loose ends and. . .no second bag was packed.  Fortunately, I had adopted a pretty good travel mindset after ten days on the road and didn’t worry too much about packing for the second trip even with the quick turn-around. On the plane home from Europe I plotted out two outfits I’d need for official reunion events and quickly threw them and a few other casual items in a second suitcase before crashing into bed that night.  All my little travel necessities–toiletries, travel ipod, etc.–were easily transferred from one suitcase to another on my way out the door the next morning.

Packing for the second trip–even with little sleep and no prep–was a breeze!  The difference?  I wasn’t trying to extricate myself from my ongoing life.  Even when I didn’t have everything I needed–we ended up going off-roading (!) with my sister and her new boyfriend and a pair of outdoor shoes might have come in handy–it was No Big Deal.

Lesson learned? Get into a travel mindset as much as you can and keep moving.  Here’s author Danielle Krysa talking about how to get into a travel mindset without having to venture too far afield:

And here are some other things that inspired me while I’ve been moving and adventuring:

A chicklit writer learns how to play to her strengths.

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert shares  how to keep creating.

Weird Al gives a grammar lesson.

Comedian Jim Carrey gets serious about life choices.

And finally, whether you’re on the road or taking it easy at home this August, I’d recommend participating in blogger Susannah Conway’s August Break project. It’s a (free) directed photography exercise that encourages you to take a photo a day throughout the month of August to illustrate a specific prompt like “lunch” or “blue” or “memory.”  Then, if you’d like, you can post your photo to Instagram or Flickr and see the other ways that people have found to interpret the prompt. I participated last year and found that it was a great way to tour my world–and others.

Happy Weekend All!



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European Travel Wardrobe Revisited

There’s nothing like two weeks on the road to turn doing the laundry into an absolute pleasure. Not that I didn’t have a wonderful time abroad, but it’s great to be home with a closet full of clean clothes. I have lots to share from my travels, but thought I’d start with a follow-up post on my travel wardrobe.

Overall, I’d give the Switzerland/Germany packing list high marks.  The clothes fit the demands of the climate (rainy cool to muggy hot) and activities (mostly casual with an occasional dressy dinner out and a Sunday morning church stop) just fine.  I felt comfortable and didn’t get too bored with what I’d brought, though there were some pieces that were little used and maybe didn’t justify the space they took up in my carry-on luggage. For example, the green linen shirt/jacket only came out once because I always had my grey trench as an outer layer  on the rainy half of the trip so a lighter sweater underneath was preferable.

The blue linen jacket, however, saw more use than I expected.  Most of my time in Switzerland was spent in a small suburb of Zurich where the opening scenes of my novel take place.  I wanted to go to Lenzburg this time of year because the Jugendfest (Children’s Festival) happens now and I figured I’d see some historic costumes and celebrations that might prove helpful as I work on the second draft of the book, which is set in the late 19th century.

I didn’t realize until I got there that the town’s symbol is a cornflower blue sphere and that most people attending the many activities wear some form of blue.  Check out these great azure hats:

Since I didn’t pack (or own) a blue chapeau, I was happy I had a blue jacket with me, even if the color was a little more subdued. I supplemented with blue and white accessories found on the main square–a boutonniere from a charming flower shop and a scarf I found in an antique store–and felt appropriately festive.  Here I am wearing the jacket while chatting with two women about their traditional costumes.

The jacket also came in handy for a nice dinner out in Heidelberg with my son and my niece and her husband who are working there.  It was just the right weight for a warmish evening on the Neckar River.

The other wild card was the pair of citrus green walking sandals.  I wore them quite a bit and they proved to be both comfortable and cheery.  Here they are basking in the sun as I take a ferry across the Rhine in Basel.

Speaking of footwear, my only wardrobe malfunction happened right out of the gate at SFO.  I’d decided to wear my trainers on the plane to free up room in my bag, but took them off to move through security. As directed, I placed the shoes in a bin to be scanned but they showed up on the other side of the scanner out of the bin with one shoelace severely frayed.

Dumbfounded, I took the shoe with the tattered shoelace to the young TSA guys who were equally perplexed. They had a little Keystone Cops moment before finding the footage that showed What Went Wrong.  They didn’t tell me exactly what they saw but took all my info and handed me a little card telling me where to file a claim with the TSA. We’ll see how far I get with that.

After we’d exchanged information, I was still left with a shoelace that couldn’t be tied.  I asked the TSA guys if they had a pair of scissors. They did. I cut off the frayed end, tied the shoe with a shortened lace (fortunately, the shoelaces were especially long) and headed off on my European adventure. It was a good reminder that no matter how much you plan ahead, you need to be able to roll with the travel punches when they come.


One other wardrobe note—a friend once told me that when she travels she always packs clothes she’s ready to toss, then she throws them away on the road to make room for new things she buys along the way.  I decided to do that with some underthings including an extra nightgown because I wasn’t staying long enough in any one place to do laundry.  Because I’d taken a small carry-on, I was really motivated to open up some space and so parted with items that were still serviceable but past their prime.  What do you think about this approach to a travel wardrobe?  Do you pack your best or your worst clothes when you leave home?


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Packing List: 12 Easy Pieces for Europe Travel

I’ve been busy setting up camp these past few months but now it’s time to set out on another expedition.  I’m headed to  Switzerland and Germany to do a little novel research and see our son Will who has been working in Stuttgart for the past six months. Inspired by the packing posts from Sue at Une femme d’un certain age  as she prepped for her spring trip to France, I decided to limit my wardrobe to 12 pieces (not counting under and outerwear).  Considering that the weather forecast shows cool and wet for the first part of the trip in Switzerland and hot and muggy for the second half in Germany,  here’s what I came up with:

For bottoms,  I’ve packed—

  • Boyfriend jeans (Macy’s Inc.)
  • Stone ankle crops (Eileen Fisher)
  • Black knit capris (Eileen Fisher)
  • Black stretch cotton pencil skirt (Calvin Klein)

This pretty much covers the range from long to short (or at least as short as I’m willing to wear) so I hope I can navigate the temperature changes smoothly.

For tops, I’m taking–

  • Black v-neck tee (Eileen Fisher)
  • Black and white striped v-neck tee (Eileen Fisher)
  • Pink v-neck tee (Michael Kors)
  • Black & white ikat print knit shirt (Ralph Lauren)
  • Mint green linen shirt/jacket (Eileen Fisher)
  • Denim-like linen jacket (Eileen Fisher)
  • Black three-quarter sleeve sweater (Bobeau)
  • White sweater (Michael Kors)

Lots to mix and match here and everything pretty much coordinates, though the blue linen jacket may demand more from its travel mates in terms of shape and color than they really have to offer.  Still.  I like it and want it to see the world.

On the plane I plan on wearing the jeans, black sweater, pink shirt (the better to hide spills and it’s the lightest and therefore easiest to handwash), a big scarf for warmth and my trainers.

For outerwear I’m torn between a rugged Eddy Bauer jacket in “lobster” red that was a mainstay on my rainy Peru trip and a more elegant but less waterproof slim grey trench from, again, Eileen Fisher.  Here’s the trench with my go-to walking sandals from Naot and two of my favorite travel bags–a Bagallini messenger bag that can accommodate a guidebook and a Le Sport Sac lightweight tote that can carry a host of souvenirs (exhibition guides! cheese! dirndls?).

I’m also bringing these bright trainers from New Balance and some kicky new walking sandals from Wolky in a citrusy green—one of those off colors that matches nothing exactly but complements the black/white/brights in the rest of the wardrobe which hopefully means it will match everything. This pair of sandals is the ONLY new thing I bought for this trip.  I think that’s helped keep the numbers down since often when I buy too many new things for a trip, I overpack in order to bring the new things as well as the tried and true favorites.

I’ve thrown in a couple of scarves and some silver jewelry but know I’ll likely add more on the road. These colorful glass drop earrings are from San Francisco jewelry designer Alexis Berger and can be purchased at Castle in the Air on 4th Street in Berkeley. They’re very comfortable and I love how they catch the light. The black onyx faceted discs are from Philippa Roberts on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland and I think the pendants might be from Kenneth Cole (Macy’s) a few years back.

Oh, and because Germany will be playing in the final rounds of the World Cup next week, I’ve thrown in my only red/gold scarf  to join a crowd somewhere and cheer along.  Go Deutschland!

To see the wardrobe in action, you can follow my Instagram feed by clicking on the link to the right. I’ll let you know how it all worked out when I return.

Auf Wiedersehen!


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Remodelista and Gardenista Design Contests

As I’ve been putting this new house together, the home renovation site Remodelista has been my go-to source for design inspiration and resources and I’m certain that Gardenista will be just as instrumental when it comes time to renovate my garden.  (Can’t wait to “dig in” come fall once the days are cooler and there’s rain on the horizon!)  Though both sites’ editors and contributors (me included) look for design inspiration in our neighborhoods and backyards, we can’t be everywhere and that’s where you come in.  Send along images of your home or garden projects and they might win a Design Award and be featured on these popular sites.  Both professional and amateur projects are welcome but here’s the catch–they need to be submitted by midnight on Monday, July 7th!  As of today, the categories with the least entries and therefore lightest competition include Best Office Space, Best Garden Shed or Outbuilding (professional) and Best Edible Landscaping (open to all.) Here are the contest specifics for Remodelista and  for Gardenista.  Do consider submitting your projects for consideration–it’s a generous thing to share your creativity!


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Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day!  How are you celebrating the 4th? We’re searching the unpacked storeroom for our flag, assembling a new grill to replace the old Weber that got crunched in the move and catching up on The Americans (so good but intense!). Tonight, barring too much fog, we’ll see if our new hilltop location affords us a view of any fireworks.  Hope you see a little sparkle in the night sky as well.

Happy Weekend All!

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Home Making

This past month I’ve been playing a complicated game of hide & seek hoping to find just the thing I needed without unearthing too many other objects that would make the hunt harder. With each passing week more things have found like things and I can now go to the closet where I stashed pillows and blankets or the cupboard that houses red wine vinegar and soy sauce and find guest bedding or marinade makings. Some of the open shelves–like these at the entrance to the laundry area–are filled with artfully arranged objects.

Others, like these utility shelves off the laundry room, still need a little work. This weekend we unloaded boxes of kitchen and craft supplies onto these sturdy Uline shelves. Here’s what they looked like before we unloaded the boxes.

Here’s what they look like now.

It will take a few days to gather the fine china into a corner, cake pans into another, spools of wrapping ribbons onto one end of a shelf and jamming jars onto another, but at least I know these second-tier essentials all have an accessible home.  I’m almost the master of my little domestic universe and that feels So Good.

One thing that’s become clear in all the sorting is how vertical and varied this house is.  It tumbles down the hillside so gracefully that at first you don’t realize how much elevation you’re covering as you move from one level to another. Then, at the end of a long day of unpacking, you understand why you feel like you’ve hiked a mountain or two when you collapse into bed.  In describing the house we say there are three levels—the master bedroom on top, the public rooms in the middle and the guest bedrooms below—but there are actually six levels that we use every day.  Along with the main three there are the street entry level, the laundry/storage level and the large storage room/crawl space on the way to the guest bedrooms.

Then there are the many decks—one at the front entrance, two off the kitchen/dining room, one off the guest room/office, and three others before you make your way down to the back garden.  Entering from the back and taking in all the decks surrounding the central redwood tree you might think you’d stumbled onto the Swiss Family Treehouse North. (Really, we need a rope bridge or two and we’d be set to charge admission.)

For a relatively small house (2200 sf), it’s a lot to decipher. Given all these different, modest spaces, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what things should stay and what should go.  For the interiors, that’s meant some serious editing–furniture and rugs that don’t work with the style or scale of the house have been relegated to the garage and I’ve been judicious about what new pieces are allowed in.  The style differences aren’t so pronounced outside so for the decks I’ve been able to use a mix of refurbished and new furniture supplemented with old and new pots and plantings. (In case you haven’t noticed, July is a great month to pick up deals on outdoor furniture and accessories as stores make way for fall merchandise.) For example, here’s how the two decks off the kitchen are shaping up. The southwest deck showcases all new furniture and pots from West Elm–a good resource for this modern house.

The east-facing deck is anchored by two old Adirondacks from the now defunct Smith & Hawken outlet in Berkeley. We painted the chairs the same grey that we used for the living room bookshelf and added two more West Elm clearance pots to hold shade tolerant plants. These two decks were recently rebuilt to put the house on the market and we’re expecting the wood to darken up within the year.

I love how these little seating areas visually extend the interior spaces. Even if we don’t spend much time resting from our unpacking adventures—it’s mentally refreshing to see that we could.  This is all by way of saying Home Making can be challenging—at least when you’re getting to know a place–so it’s good to pace yourself and provide some rest stops along the way.

Oh—and yes, the refrigerator was finally installed.  It’s so beautiful it makes me almost forget the hassle it took to get it up and running. Even without any rope bridges to navigate.

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Hello! I’m finally reporting in from the other side of the move.  We only uprooted 2.4 miles—a longish stroll, really, but a move is a move and even a short one can make you feel like you’ve traveled a very great distance.

The move itself went smoothly but was exhausting.  Six professionals did the bulk of the heavy lifting—including a hair-raising transfer of our tall upright Yamaha piano.  A number of men from our church joined them at the new house and helped unload all the boxes once we arrived. Bless them!

Two friends brought dinner and another stopped by that evening with freshly laundered sheets and helped make the bed. (What a treat—something to offer when other friends move.)

As luck would have it, the next week was full of can’t-say-no commitments—mostly for M.J. who was asked to speak at a memorial service for an old friend at the beginning of the week and officiate at the wedding of some of his students at the end. Work and other night time commitments kept him away from home and I was left alone to unpack while doing battle with the cable and phone companies—a challenge worthy of an entire unpleasant blog post but I’ll spare you.

Meanwhile construction continued.  Gustavo was able to get the stove, cooktop and dishwasher in the morning (!) of the move. But the refrigerator—where this whole kitchen appliance switcheroo began–was still on backorder. About that time, Steve attempted to repair a few busted boards in the front walkway before painting and discovered this–

We knew all the decks of the house needed some work, but we didn’t realize how significant the dry rot was at the front.  Thank goodness the walkway held through the move and no one was injured, but we couldn’t just slap a coat of paint on it and ignore it.  So everyone shifted focus to the front deck.

The refrigerator arrived just after the walkway was finished but the interior entry stairs to the main level were steep enough that the deliverymen decided it was best to take the long way around.  Here they are lifting all 500 lbs. up the back deck stairs on a misty morning (such weather we get up here).

I’d like to say that was the end of the refrigerator saga, but alas, it continues.  Though Gustavo had carefully measured and allotted for the specified refrigerator dimensions, when he came to install it, the refrigerator fit in the space but didn’t have enough room for the doors to clear.  Furthermore, one of the handles the appliance company delivered was too short and couldn’t be attached.

We decided to take a break from all things kitchen related until Monday. And I spent some time outside trying to take the long view.

But today, Monday, I’m writing this to the familiar sound of a drill running as Gustavo and his coworker Geo modify the refrigerator opening again.

It’s easy to focus on how far we have to go, but I should also note how far we’ve come. We can find clothes in the closet and food in the cupboards.  The laundry is up and running and the garage door opener finally works. Last night for Father’s Day we straightened up the living room (isn’t that what most Dads like to do on their day?) I’ve added a new jute rug from West Elm and had the painters paint our old bookshelf a dark grey (BM “Iron Mountain”).  We haven’t filled it with books yet and the new slipcover still needs to be hemmed but at this stage of the game I’m less concerned with perfection and more grateful for the many things that are perfectly fine.


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Moving On: Odds & Ends

So here we are at the end of this crazy month of remodeling.  I just left the new house after taking a peak at the glossy grey floors, the final coat still shiny wet as it begins to cure.  The new coat of exterior paint (White Heron by Benjamin Moore—more white!) glowed against the clear blue sky, recalling those breezy white homes you see on Greek hillsides.

I’m whupped from simultaneously managing the construction project and packing up to move, but so pleased with the results.  Yes, there are things missing—the refrigerator is on back order for a month!—and we didn’t make all the deadlines we were working towards, but we did accomplish so much.

Today I made my final run to Home Depot for some odds and ends—a temporary shower curtain rod for the guest bath, more red rosin paper to protect the floors during the move, and  parts to repair the garage door opener including some doorbell wire.  A friendly employee named Cassandra led me to the wire then pointed to the doorbell display above and said, “This is my favorite thing in the whole store.”

Then she showed me how the doorbell can be programmed to play different ring tones like “Silent Night” or “The Star Spangled Banner.”  She giggled as she turned the switch to Beethoven’s “5th Symphony” for a little drama.  I laughed and asked to take a photo of her demonstrating the different rings.  Another customer jumped in at the last minute.  It was a silly shared moment that highlighted how much fun so much of this has been.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.  Catch you on the other side of the move.

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Moving On: Bits & Pieces

“You’re moving in next week ?” said Jill, my trusted move-in/move-out house cleaner as we toured the new place.  Looking at the paint splattered floors, unmoored broken appliances and piles of wood shavings,  I understood why she thought that seemed iffy. Would the house be ready in a little over a week for us to move in? I felt a little better the next day when William Anderson showed up to help pick the final floor color a month after he’d first seen the house. “Everything looks great—you’ve done so much!” he exclaimed.

Yes, yes we have. The new house is still very much a construction zone, but through the haze of drywall dust I can see what a lovely home we’re making. Here’s some of what transpired over the last week and a half.

In the kitchen we analyzed the cabinetry to figure out what could and couldn’t be modified so we could order our new appliances.  For example, the existing cooktop is ventilated with a downdraft.  It would be a major undertaking to add a ventilation hood to the kitchen, but also some work to incorporate a beefier downdraft.  We’d need to modify the pullout drawers beneath the cooktop, which would mean that my 12″ skillet couldn’t live there comfortably.  So for now, we’re sticking with what we’ve got ventilation-wise and hope it’s enough.

However, we opened up the refrigerator box to make way for a cabinet depth refrigerator as well as the original pantry cabinet. Yes, I know it looked this way in my last post.  You can see why Jill’s a little skeptical about our timing.

Gustavo worked on the defective copper tubing that feeds the refrigerator icemaker but called in William the plumber to install the new faucet and InstaHot–something I didn’t think I needed until I had one in my last house and missed it so much in our rental that I decided to forgo the sink soap dispenser and put one in its place.

While he was there, William the plumber (not to be confused with William the decorator or Bill the electrician or Willie the floor refinisher) also moved the powder room sink pipes over a few inches to the center of the room.  Then he worked with Gustavo to cut out an opening behind the existing washer and dryer so the appliances could be inset into the laundry room wall and not jut out two inches into the opening of the adjacent storeroom.  Another example of little things making a big difference.

We’d been warned that the washer also leaked, but hopefully with new hoses attached that problem is solved.  And look at the nice new floor covering–a remnant of white hospital grade vinyl that M.J. found at Anderson Carpet and Linoleum. “We could do surgery in here,” says M.J.  Top of my list, honey.

Gustavo spent many hours reconfiguring door openings and hanging doors.  Here’s the new entry closet door–remember the utilitarian bi-fold doors that were there before?  We closed up the closet opening just a bit so the closet door was the same distance from the front door as the garage door to create a pleasing symmetry on the entry wall. Then we replaced the garage, closet and powder room paneled fir doors with solid doors that will be painted Swiss Coffee like the walls so that they mostly disappear.

All the doors on this level now have more modern hardware–Helios by Emtek.

The Miracle Method guys spent a couple of days spiffing up the master bath shower and guest bath tub. In my dream house I have a beautiful deep freestanding tub, but for now I’m just grateful to have one that isn’t significantly gouged and scratched on the edge.

In hopes of finding a replacement handle for the shower, I visited several plumbing vendors.  Turns out this handle and likely the others in the house are from Moen.

I didn’t have any luck yet finding an attractive replacement kit, so I’m still on the hunt.

Along the way I saw these cool pipes at Emperor Supply and this jaunty shark sign at Moran Plumbing. I like to think about sharks in my plumbing pipes–don’t you?

The same day the refinishers were finishing up in the bathrooms and Gustavo was hanging doors, Bill from Early Light Electric showed up to tackle a laundry list of small items–in the laundry room and elsewhere! He modified an old track lighting box so we could hang our West Elm capiz shell chandelier in the dining room, got the other bathroom and laundry room fans running, installed lights in some of the storage areas and put junction boxes for two yet-to-be-purchased sconces in the powder room.  Here’s his truck along with the rest of the workmen’s fleet in the driveway. Holy Moly, we were cooking with gas that day!

The reason everyone showed up All At Once was because we decided to do the floors after all.  I initially thought we could live with them as they were since they’d just been refinished to sell the house, but the color kept bugging me.  The red oak planks had been covered with an amber stain that made them turn orange–not a good match for the white-washed ceilings and kitchen cabinets.  And frankly, the job wasn’t all that good.  Nail heads peppered the floors and looked streaky in spots. We knew we had to have several areas repaired but was it economical or ethical to also redo newly refinished floors?

“You’ll never do them again if you don’t do it before you move in,” said my sisters and friends.  ”If you can stretch at all, this would make such a difference visually,” said the pros–William the decorator and Steve the painter. Finally convinced, I searched for a recommended floor refinisher that could work with our rapidly approaching move-in date and ended up hiring Amber Flooring in Emeryville.

It was tricky to choose a color from the many lovely samples in the showroom. I knew I was looking for something on the coolish side, but was tempted by that hot red.

Regaining focus, I settled on something in the medium gray range after William showed me some planks from another project he’s working on.  Here are some samples painted on the floors after they’d been stripped.  We ended up choosing the sample on the upper right–3 parts white wash to 1 part Ebony–because it looked best with the kitchen cabinets close up and therefore we assumed would work well with the similarly whitewashed ceilings above.

I was surprised at how battleship gray the stain is when it’s first applied, but then it quickly turns a more ashen/bronzed gray as it soaks into the wood.

Today, all work ceased in the house as we waited for the stain to cure. This is what I saw standing outside on the deck as I–yes–watched the paint dry. It was a lovely, calming sight. NOTHING else can be done here for the next few days. Which means I can stop running around and go pack. Because, yes, we are moving in next week.


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Moving On: Nuts & Bolts

This week we’ve been working on the guts of the house—and by we, I mean our handyman Gustavo Portillo with M.J. assisting at times and me peeking over their shoulders trying not to panic when things get ripped out to Make Things Work in our kitchen and bathrooms.  Take a look.

We knew the refrigerator wasn’t viable when we bought the house.  The cooktop was down to one working burner and we suspected something was up with the tired old dishwasher since the newly refinished floorboards were buckling in front of it.

Gustavo pulled out the dishwasher and it was clear that there had been a leak there for a long time.  Figuring that if three of the four appliances were going to be replaced, we might as well take advantage of some incentive pricing and upgrade them all.

But the cabinets needed to be modified to accommodate the newer appliances which required someone with carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills.  Gustavo has them all plus a calm, steady presence that keeps me from freaking out getting agitated when I hear the latest installment of What’s Wrong Now.

For example, none of the bathrooms have working ventilation fans.  The guest bath and powder room fans were disconnected (too noisy, perhaps?) and there was no fan at all in the master bathroom–just a heat vent and a central heat lamp/light.  Curiously, there was a mysterious vent outlet on the wall outside the master bath that looked like it should probably lead to a fan.  Gustavo did some precision surgery on the ceiling and discovered a vent all prepped and ready to go but we needed a fan.  He sent me off to Emperor Electrical Supply in Oakland’s Chinatown to pick up a Panasonic fan.  I wanted to snap a few portraits while I was there, but that seemed rude. Let’s just say the place was full of characters as well as electrical supplies.

I brought two fans home—one with and one without a light—and decided to go with the lighted fan at the toilet end of the long narrow space and move the central light a few feet over to the shower. Maybe it’s because as a kid I’d occasionally step into the basement shower in our farmhouse and find crickets, grasshoppers or sometimes even frogs, but I do prefer a lit shower.

Finally, we played musical doors throughout the top two floors.  The front entry houses three doors—a central front door flanked by the garage door on the right and bi-fold closet doors on the left.  The front door is made of redwood and maple with medieval-style hardware including an elaborate speakeasy; we call it The Hobbit Door.  The other two doors are made from unpainted fir with traditional panels.  Everyone agrees that all three doors are good quality and likely upgrades from the original (plain?) doors, but since the style and color of the fir doors don’t match The Hobbit Door or compliment the modern architecture, the floor stain, or the white washed ceiling—the whole entry feels jumbled.

Interior designer William Anderson recommended we just trade out the side doors for simple painted white doors to clear the clutter. Painter Steve Vaughn has also been working on cleaning up the front door to give it a more contemporary look—more on that later.

Gustavo is reframing the closet opening to accommodate a smaller flat door which should approximate the dimensions of the garage door.  We’re also replacing the powder room door with a plain door so that all the doors on the main level, with the exception of the front door, match.  That frees up the powder room’s existing paneled fir door to replace the broken pocket door by the shower/toilet area of the master bath—which will also match two small paneled closet doors nearby.  Still with me?

These are all projects we would have dealt with slowly over time had we just moved into the house. (Maybe–I was raised in a large family where you learned to make do and move on.) But having this month to work on small but significant construction projects means Team Pritchett is knocking them out before we move in.  Then we’ll be back to putting things off as usual.

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Kathryn Pritchett

writes about Things Elemental — where we find shelter, why we connect, what sustains us and how we strut our stuff.