All posts by Dona

Almost back to normal

We had low-key Christmas holiday these past couple of weeks. Our traditions were pretty much discarded but that was okay. Andrew drove down from Pittsburgh and stayed with us for a couple of days, then left for Atlanta to spend Christmas and New Year with Alex’s family. Clare arrived on Christmas Eve (but left a few days later to hang out with friends in New York through the New Year) and Andrew returned on January 3rd. We celebrated our family Christmas Eve that night and Christmas Day the next. Clare flew home to Olympia yesterday and Andrew drives back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The only constant was Mingus who spent three weeks with us, loving the huge windows to the deck where he could observe squirrels feasting on peanuts I set out for him.

It was great having the new kitchen and our “lodge”. Clare adopted the lodge and made it look cozy and very Clare-like. She even slept there (on the floor) two nights, but realized her bedroom had a comfortable bed. That didn’t stop her from spending her waking hours in the lodge though. The kitchen proved to be as useful as we’d hoped and we spent lots of time as a family cooking and eating in it.

That said, it is always a bit of a disruption when everyone is here and the house usually gets very messy.

Here are a few photos of our last few weeks.

2020's Theme: Letting Go

Just a few minutes ago, while I was waiting for the Instant Pot to do its magic on eight eggs and hard boil them, I noticed that the side of our new kitchen drawers have the manufacturer’s name on them (Medallion) and that made me remember our old kitchen cabinets. When we moved into this house, a friend who helped us move was impressed with the brand of the cabinets (Quaker Maid) and told us that we had some quality kitchen cabinets. Several years later I mentioned that to the uncle of Clare’s friend who we’d hired to paint some rooms in our house. He made some disparaging comment about the brand which implied that they were not all that great. That comment has stuck with me through the years and when I remember it my stomach tightens and I am pretty sure my blood pressure rises.

I thought about how that made me feel, this first day of a new year and new decade and realized that I needed to let it go. To somehow make that comment not bother me any more. It is really silly that it bothered me so much and even sillier that it still does. I mean, this guy was living with his brother and doing side jobs to make a living. His actual home was a double-wide trailer (in Lake Tahoe, but still). Maybe saying that made him feel better about himself. His brother was not much better with the side comments, so maybe it was a family thing. When I spent a week in their double-wide in Tahoe and was asked to share in a rather expensive restaurant bill (which I was happy to do) instead of just paying for the kids and me he remarked that, after all, I was staying in his home, rent free for a few days.

Anyway, I think that this year I will dedicate to letting things go. Memories like the above, things I don’t need/use/wear, and hopefully a few inches around my waist too.

I am not making resolutions, I am not making a list of things I want to learn, I am not going to try to read a book a week and I am not doing a no-buy challenge. I am just going to let some things go.

A gift

In 2000 when I graduated from George Washington University with a Master’s degree my mom, and her two sisters pooled their money and bought me a Lenox mug that featured an illustration of a cedar waxwing (by artist Catherine McClung), my favorite bird and my online persona on several forums. I knew that they’d spent a fair amount on it because Mom cautioned me that it should probably not be used.

I heeded her warning and didn’t use the mug for several years but in April 2013 I decided to start using it, a decision I documented on Facebook:


Fast forward to a little over a month ago during our kitchen renovation, when, while washing dishes in the basement, Dean accidentally knocked the mug to the cement floor where it broke in several pieces. I heard it, I knew what it was and my heart momentarily froze and when he showed me what happened, I replied, “Don’t worry about it. It was bound to happen sometime. I got lots of years out of it.” And strangely, that was how I really felt.

Of course I documented it on Facebook.

The responses were heartwarming and several friends tried to help me find a replacement, at least one even offering to buy me one.

I could not find the exact mug and felt that buying one would be cheating. Part of its appeal was because it was from three special people in my life who were no longer with us.

Two days after the mug was broken my brother commented with a photo of the mug and later said it was an early Christmas gift to me in memory of Mom. It turned out that he found a set of four Lenox bird mugs online and bought them for me.

Screenshot of FB conversation. Kevin: Mom is excited all over again, she made me do it. Love you. Me: Where did you find this? Kevin: I have my sources. It's actually a set of 4. An early Xmas present in memory of mom. Dad is represented too with the blue bird. Me: I am speechless!

I got them a week or so later and put them in my China cabinet. I’ll use them someday, but not right now.

Kevin buying them for me was such a surprise, but when I think of it, not that much of a surprise. He’s always been a kind and thoughtful person. I’m lucky he’s my brother.