Monday, January 22, 2007

in the kitchen

We've been home from our spectacular vacation for just over a week now. Since we got back, I don't think Matt has taken a break. In fact, he's re-routing some plumbing to the kitchen sink as I type.

Neither of us really understood how much work this house would be. The excitement of little triumphs, however, is keeping us going. Here, I am going to inflict some of the adventure on you.

With our base cabinets ready to install, it was finally time to tear out all the last bits of the kitchen: the walls and the sink. So, last Sunday, Matt and his friend, Andrew, got out their pry bars and went at it. (I took my obligatory Sunday nap. Believe me--it's better for us all.)

We figured that now's a good time to switch out the nasty old window (not old enough to be really cool--just cheap and old) for a new one. When the crappy old window was installed, some creative and not very effective plumbing was done--making the vent pipe an imaginary vent pipe through the window. Someone just severed it, installed a new window, and called it good.

We also discovered, in removing the wallboard, that the wall was mostly gone, thanks to old termite damage and what appears to have been several floods under the kitchen sink. So, a bit of re-framing was in order. Here's Matt with the wall really gone, and a new view of the street.

Building the new wall took us well past dark. By dark, we called in for reinforcements. But doesn't the new wall look, well...stable?

That was on Monday. On Tuesday, wallboard went up. Then Matt's dad came over to install the beautiful cabinets he built (out of reclaimed lumber!). Electricity and some paint and a new dishwasher and temporary countertops...and, finally, a sink!

Here's the kitchen as it's currently assembled. We're looking forward to being able to enjoy. And Matt's started building the forms for the new concrete countertop.

Someday, before too long, we hope we'll be able to be better dinner hosts. And have more time to spend with our friends (doing something other than construction work).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

letting the aloha live

We're just back from a splendid, luxurious TWO WEEK vacation in Hawaii. The length, the ocean, the pineapples and the company were all splendid.

Growing up in Nebraska, my sense of Hawaii lacked nuance. It just enchanted me with dreamy pictures of swaying palm trees and tropical ocean scenery.

Now, I can distinguish the difference between Waikiki's urbanized and developed strip of hotels and the rural coffee fields of the big island.

In disbelief at the number of ABC convenience stores in Waikiki, Matt and I decided to count them on our walk back from dinner one night. It was a pleasant stroll--less than a mile. And, we passed 11 ABC stores (plus, one that was about to open in a new shopping mall). More incredible to us, though, was that we passed 3 Coach stores. (And knew that if we walked further, we'd find another one a block later.) We picked Coach to count, but there were other choices for fine handbag purchasing... It occurred to me, in one unfolding walk, that many people must vacation with purposes other than seeing swaying palm trees. But I'm still incredulous that THAT many people buy expensive handbags on vacation.

As for me, I'm especially grateful for some sea turtles, 2 whales off the big island coast, spectacular waves on the North Shore, and one exquisite sunset (which we enjoyed from an indulgent Waikiki hotel beach cafe). And for my dear husband, and his family, who we got to hang with during our time away from Oahu.

the exquisite sunset

the turtles

our family portrait at volcanoes national park

I bought no Coach handbags.

I did, however, feel a growing sense of connection between my Nebraska roots and the Hawaiian soil. My favorite local big island station played songs that, while also borrowing from reggae and using more ukelele, felt distinctively like country music. Turns out, there've been cowboys on Hawaii for years. And folks who go "big pig hunting," and sing songs about it.

Who knew?