New York in my Rear-View Mirror

It’s happened. After decades of waiting and wishing and dreaming, I finally visited New York. Think I went there filled with excitement? Truth is, I was flat terrified.

Why was I so scared?

How can I explain this? First, that town has gravitas in my family. It’s where my mother and grandmother were born. My Grandmother spent more than 70 years walking this earth and she never lost that New-Yawk accent. Or the assurance that came with it. And my Mom, with her birth certificate signed by LaGuardia himself, carried her birthplace through life like an imprimatur and shield. But I am only the descendant of Knickerbockers, not one myself. And the closer I got to takeoff, the more I felt like 18 different kinds of a Rube with less edge than a serving of Jello.

But guess what: New York is just a place, a city filled with lots and lots (and lots) of people. And not all of them are edgy fashion models. There’s tall ones, old ones, fat ones, thin ones, you get the general idea. But other than the fact that that they all seem to be in a hurry to get where they’re going, New Yorkers don’t seem that much different from everyone else. It’s just that there are so all-fired many of them. And they’re busy doing everything all the time.

Manhattan in Pictures

Of course, I was at some pretty touristy venues, some quintessential NYC spots. We hit the main library

Bryant Park

The theatre district

The the Strand Bookstore

Grand Central

And some other totemic places.

All gorgeous, all exciting, all fascinating. And when I came home, happy, tired, limping on both feet (which is hard to do, by the way) I wondered why I’d felt so intimidated. And whether the trip to New York would change how I look at my life.

See, this trip has been high on my bucket list for almost all of my life. And I was beginning to think I’d either never get there, or, if I did, it would be the last good thing in my life. (That’s what I get for re-watching Terms of Endearment.) But now that this trip’s in my rear-view mirror (and I’m still cancer-free) I’ve got a different perspective.

My kind of Happy Ending

Yes, I’m glad I made that trip. I’d like to go back again, soon. But now I’ve been back long enough to realize real life goes on after facing the fear or reaching a goal, or even crossing something off the bucket list. And that’s good too.

So it turns out New York isn’t Perdition (no matter what some folks say); nor is it the last stop on the road to Happily Ever After. But it is a good place to get a fresh outlook on life; and it’s where I went before whatever comes next.

Keeping a Weather Eye on the Weather

It’s January, a good month in many ways, but one that makes me (and lots of folks around here) watchful. Maybe, even a bit paranoid. Not because we’re still feeling the effects from the excesses of December (though some of us are) and not due to the tax returns looming in our future. We’re worried because the weather is unpredictable in January and it can be extreme. And our history with schizoid temperatures around here makes amateur meteorologists (and curmudgeons) out of many of us.

Dressing for the weather

Let me give you an example. Monday, the temp outdoors went into the 60’s or higher. How much higher, I’m not really sure. Because I was inside, sweltering in a chin-to-knees sweater I’d worn because, hello, it’s January. Then the temp dropped like a rock, indoors and out, and I spent Thursday and Friday curled up in layers of clothing and huddled around reheated cups of coffee. No wonder everyone seems to have a case of the sniffles! January temps rise and drop like a roller coaster.

This ain’t supposed to happen in the South!

And that’s a problem when you live with Southern Architecture. Officially, this is a humid, subtropical region and our houses are built for that. I’m talking heat pumps, lots of windows, and outdoor living. This makes sense ten months of the year. But this place ain’t the tropics in January! And our buildings, so climate controlled in July, can feel downright chilly at this end of the year. Even cold, when we get some (gasp!) Snow.

…then there’s that old devil, Snow

Seriously, if you want to scare a group of Southern women, tell them there’s snow in the forecast, but do it at a distance of at least five feet, because those ladies are going to hit DEFCON 1. And then they will run you over getting out the door. See, S-N-O-W is code for Apocalypse down here, and those women are going to save their families. Because the white stuff hits this place like a bomb.

Schools shut down before the first flakes can fall, so kids need to be taken back home. Few people here have winter driving skills so the highways get turned into parking lots of fender-benders. And nobody has enough supplies on hand, so a blizzard warning means a run on the stores. And all that happens before it snows. Once that starts, this place is as helpless as a turtle on its back. And everyone who lives here, knows it.

When the Snow hits the South in January

So that’s why we’re all obsessed with James Spann and watching cold fronts like they were first downs. Because it’s January in Alabama. And anything can happen.

The day my Money went to NY (without me)

I’ve never been to New York, though the rest of my family has. My mother and grandma were both born in the City; my kids went there last fall. My sister goes there so often she can direct the tourists to stops on the Circle Line. But, I’ve never gone to New York. And I’ve been pretty much okay with that. Well, I’m not completely okay, d love to see the place (you can’t be an English Major and not want to see New York; it’s a mecca for readers and writers.) But financially, it’s never been a good time for me to fly to New York.  So I  dreamed and figured someday I would go there.  I just never thought my money would get there first.

aerial architecture blue sky buildings
Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels.com

It all began…

In that uncertain time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent, before the juggernaut of December really takes off. A few friends and I decided to get together for a quiet drink after work. It was great, with everyone talking and laughing together and everything was going well until I decided to pay for a round. And realized my ATM card wasn’t in my wallet. Or my purse.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I occasionally misplace things, so I tried not to panic. I just paid for the drinks (using most of my cash) and excused myself to look for the card.  I still didn’t panic as I researched first my wallet, then my purse, and finally my Jeep for the card. Then, I went home and searched the house while I checked my bank balance.  And that’s when I hit “Red Alert”.

money pink coins pig

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

See, almost all the day-to-day funds in our joint checking account had disappeared.  The Grocery money.  The Light Bill cash.  The payment on my husband’s dental bill.  Entire paychecks worth of cash vanished from sight, like Brigadoon, or Judge Crater.  I killed my cash card with a phone call and cried.

When I showed up, still panicked, at my bank the next day (the minute they unlocked the doors) the bankers there were sympathetic.  Yes, they could make sure my missing ATM card was dead and yes, they’d help me with the identity theft claim.  A teller and I pulled up all the account transactions to figure out which we’d need to dispute and that’s when I saw how my money (literally) took flight.

Where did it go??

First, there was the airline ticket.  “Was that you?” the bank representative asked.  No, I haven’t flown since 2016 and I haven’t bought a ticket since then.  Then there was the charge for the Empire State Building Observation Deck ($102.00!) and something called Statue Cruises.  And then there was an admission to MMA, which turned out to be the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Met? My money went to New York?

I don’t know whether the Bank’s service representative or I was the more stunned.  “Well, on the one hand, these charges obviously weren’t made by you.” the banker lady said.  “You’re here in Alabama, not New York.  Still…”  “I know,” I said, looking at the computer screen.  “Someone’s taking a cool trip through the City.

In fact, if the thief had thrown in theatre tickets, that’s a trip I would have loved to take.  It’s the trip I’ve been dreaming of (and putting off) for decades because I couldn’t afford it. Along with the panic and anger, I felt, I began to get downright envious.  The Empire State Building? The Museum of Modern Art? These were places I’d wanted to see.   Someone out there has lousy morals, but their taste is not all that bad.  The only problem was they were getting their culture with money my husband and I had earned!

I found out some things because of that theft. I learned that banks have to deal with this a lot. And that some bankers are really nice.  I’ve learned that the police are careful about jurisdiction.  I had to drive to four separate stations before I found the one able and willing to take my report. It’s been a royal mess getting the checking account straightened out and protecting the rest of my financial identity.  But this crystallized a resolve in me.

I’m not putting off the chance to see New York anymore; I’m going there myself, and soon.  No longer am I content to imagine being there while by looking at TV or  Google Earth.  It’s time I saw those streets for myself.  There isn’t enough time or money enough to do everything. But I will see something of that fabled place, and listen to that cacophony of sound. See, I don’t mind my money going to New York.  But this time, I’m taking it there.

 

 

 

 

 

The Accessory Liberation Device

Everyone who becomes an Adult goes through some Rite of Passage. It may be a formalized religious ritual (like a Bar Mitzvah) or something secular, like a Driver’s Permit. But there are talismans we gather as we go through life and the world expects us to keep them handy. Well, I just threw one away.

I enjoy being a girl

Yeah, that’s what the song says. Only the lyric didn’t apply to me growing up, not once I saw the accessory list. Have you ever noticed how much extra stuff women are expected to carry? Guys go from grade school, through high school, to life, and the only new thing they get is a razor. Girls get those too but they’re also supposed to start wearing costume jewelry at some point. And make-up. And perfume. Girls are expected to do complicated things with their hair. And finally, girls are given purses so they can tote all of this extra girl-stuff around.

Some of the Bags that Ran my Life…

If you can’t tell, I’m not a purse fan. More accurately, I’ve been a purse-hostage. For the past 50 years, wherever I’ve gone, some satchel’s hitched a ride on my shoulder. And instead of helping me (by carrying my stuff) each bag has been a pain.. Going to the movies? Don’t forget the purse. Riding on the roller coaster? Where and how do I store the purse? If I’m out in public, how do I keep Pursey from being snatched? If I’m going on a plane, does it count as luggage? (Believe me, there are times when it could). And if that isn’t enough, I’m not allowed to be ruled by just one satchel. No, I’m expected to keep multiple bags I can match to any season, function and outfit, all while my husband gets by with one wallet. No wonder men have more disposable income! They don’t have to spend it on purses!

What to do?

I was bemoaning all this to my sister last month when she mentioned a smartphone/wallet case. This gadget is a brilliant idea! A simple case with the phone on one side and pockets for cash, ID and cards on the other. It carries everything I really need and (even better) slides into a pocket. Actually it’s more an a fashion choice; it’s an accessory liberation device.

…Replaced by a phone in a case. (Dog not included.)

So, after almost 50 years of suspending leather bags from my shoulder, I’m back to pre-puberty basics. And it’s amazing. No more matching my bag to my shoes or rooting through the closet for a coordinating purse. No more last minute grabs for the bag I forgot while the car door closes on my arm. When it’s time for lunch now, I stand up and leave without rooting in a drawer or the file cabinet. As long as I have pockets, I can run through the world, unencumbered and both hands free.

All hail the Accessory Liberation Device! Now all we need is a law requiring pockets on all clothing….

In search of my New Year’s Day Miracle

Everybody has New Year’s traditions. Some people make and break lots of good resolutions. Some people serve black-eyed peas and greens. But that’s not my thing. While others are nursing hangovers or glue themselves to televised bowl games and parades, I’m outdoors, weather permitting, doing yard work. And I’m looking for my New Year’s Day miracle.

Yard Work?

There’s something so satisfying about clearing the yard, once the last of the leaves have fallen. You can rake and rake without breaking a sweat, and when you’re finished, there’s visible improvement. Actually, this is the small part of the year when I can get ahead on my weeding. Once growing season starts, it’s all I can do to stay even. And I quit once the temp gets too hot. So January and February are the months when I reclaim parts of the yard from the plant invaders, like kudzu. But New Years is not for reclaiming. It’s when I look for a miracle.

In Search of Spring

Now I’ll be the first to admit I don’t get along with Winter. It’s (usually) too wet and cold for my taste and I miss long, sunlit days. And, while I love where I live, we look kind of, well, shabby this time of the year. A little dirty and drab and run down. So I tend to spend the first day of the year in my yard, desperately seeking Signs of Spring. And, today I found them.

Know what these are? They are daffodil leaves and they’re growing in front of my house. On New Year’s Day. When winter’s just settling for 3 months of cold weather, these tough little flowers are sticking their heads above ground. The prospect of ice and snow doesn’t scare them (the way it scares me!). They’re growing, they’re daring to believe in Spring on the very first day of the year. That takes great Instinct…. or Nerve.

So daffodil leaves are my annual New Year’s Miracle and I hunt for them like a kid after Easter Eggs. I’m not ashamed. They’re a promise. A herald. An omen of change. And a great way to start the New Year.

Look like baby leeks, don’t they?

A Story of Auld Lang Syne

Ever since Thanksgiving, I’ve looked for a story that’s based on the end of a year. I couldn’t find one. There are stories about beginnings and seasons and other holidays but nothing for the end of a year. Instead of reading or writing about New Years, I believe we sing.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot-

And never brought to mind?”

Like the character in “When Harry Met Sally” I used to wonder, what does that lyric mean? Are we supposed to forget those we knew long ago? Are we benefited somehow by releasing what become just the memory of memories? And, if someone has slipped beyond recall, what use is it to try and remember them now? It was all very confusing.

But confusing or not, Auld Lang Syne is as much a part of New Year’s Eve as the line at the bottom of a math problem.  We sing it to say farewell to a year that is ending and the people we’ve left behind in our pasts. This year, that song’s personal to me.

Why It’s Personal

This year I lost one of the best friends I’ve ever made, someone who taught me how to be a friend. We met when we were two weirdos made of nothing but potential and hope. Luckily, we both liked the same “weirdo” things, like folk music, liberal politics, and theatre. (Three subjects guaranteed to get you killed in small-town high school) We laughed at the same silly jokes. I think we were both still a bit scared about boys; both of us had impossible crushes. She yearned for a fellow in the town she’d left while I crushed on a transient teacher. So, we kept each other talking and laughing and company through two trying years of adolescence. Then, at graduation, we let go of the friendship with a wave. But neither let go of the memories.

My Auld Lang Syne
(photo credit: KHS yearbook)

The internet reconnected us decades later but, from the way we behaved, you’d think no time had passed. We still talked for hours at a time and laughed at the same silly things. But, instead of adolescent crushes, we got each other through harder experiences: illness, death, and real heartbreak. We had each others’ backs, at least we did until January 8th of this year. Ever since that day I’ve been learning to live with just the memory of her in my head.

I’ve shed many a tear since the day Lisa died and I doubt if my weeping is done. Our friendship helped me build a life that I love and it feels like part of my foundation is gone. But at least this year since her death has resolved my confusion about That Song.

For Auld Lang Syne

Should Old acquaintances be forgot? Can we forget them, really?  We drink to their memories at New Years, not because we memorized every detail of their existence,  but because they helped make us the people we became. And, although facts or faces can get hazy with time, their influence remains. They are in the jokes we enjoy and the songs we sing. They visit, at times, in our dreams. In our deepest memory of memories, we carry our Auld Acquaintances with us, defining us now by their absence as they did when they stood beside us. We never really leave them behind.

So this is for you, Lisa, on this last day of the year. I wish you hadn’t left the party so quickly. If I catch up with you somewhere down the line, you can be sure I’ll fill you in on what you missed. Because I won’t forget you. I didn’t after high school and I won’t after death. I can’t. You are my Auld Lang Syne.

River of Life

I love rivers.
With all respect to ponds, pools, lakes, and oceans, I love being by a river the most.  Landlocked on two sides, it’s still a continuum of water that chuckles as it moves and brings down the heat in summer.  My rivers are peaceful most of the time but the last thing they are is boring, not only because they hold so much life but they seem to be living creatures themselves.  I guess I see life as a river.
More than anything, all rivers are made up of water, great googolplexes of H2O molecules, all moving in the same direction. Some of the droplets came up from underground springs, some fell into place with a rainfall, but the source isn’t what’s important here.  What’s important is that once those droplets meet up it’s hard to tell one from another and they impact each other.  It may be on a scale too small for us to see but the molecules of water bump against each other on the way to their common destination.  And each encounter changes the path of each droplet, however minutely.
I think all life is like that.  Our lives are continually changed every day by the other life we encounter.  It could be the homeless person we cross the street to avoid or the new friend we make at the market.  It could even be the virus that keeps us out of work or school but our lives and fates are changed on a daily basis by who and what we encounter.  And our actions bounce off someone else, altering their path in unexpected ways.  This perpetual ricochet is as much a part of every molecule’s journey as the forward momentum of the current, pulling it onward to its destination.
I felt that reaction that as I watched our new kitten, Steve this week.  We got Steve to be our Charlie-cat’s companion, shortly before Charlie died. The sad morning after Charlie’s burial, Stevie jumped in the bathtub to chase the water as it ran down the drain. When the tub was empty he turned to me and meowed, clearly curious about where the bath water went.  Up until that time, I had almost resented this new kitten’s dynamic presence, because he wasn’t Charlie and couldn’t make Charlie well.  It was then I realized, as much as I’d always miss Charlie-Belle, Stevie had something of his own to offer.  Steve looks at the world with inexperienced eyes, marveling over things Charlie and I had long since taken for granted. And, seeing the world through Stevie’s eyes makes it new again for me.
And now we have a second pet, Mollie-dog in the house.  As Charlie needed a four-legged friend, Stevie needs one too and Mollie-dog looks like a good match.  Bigger but gentler than Stevie-Cat, Mollie loves squeeky toys, my Jeep and jumping onto our bed.  For however long we have these two, I think they’ll be fine companions.
That’s what we all are: companions on our journeys through life, like waterdrops caught in the current. We go at different rates, encounter different things but we’re still parts of the River of Life. And someday, we’ll all reach the Sea.

The World Famous Author I didn’t Quite Meet

This day should be remembered each and every year.
For the birth of an author, many of us still hold dear.
Though he’s no longer with us, his books hold renown
When it comes to kid’s lit, Old Doc Seuss holds the crown
But I must add, in a tone of defeat
He’s the most famous author I didn’t quite meet

When I was small, Dr. Seuss was the Man
and I read each of his stories, like a number 1 fan

Like the Sneeches, my belly once had a small star
I recited his rhymes while we rode in the car.
I grew up and learned to love reading aloud
I’d choose Seuss to read to the younger kids crowd

That’s what my job was one year, long ago
At the main library branch in old San Diego
That place hosted a party each Winter to cheer
Any locals who’d published books in the last year.
For the party, my off-day, I agreed to forsake
And serve the literati their coffee and cake

I don’t want to brag, but I must confess,
I looked good that day! I wore my best dress.
I buffed up my nails and styled my hair.
My toes perched in the highest heels they could wear.
I practiced my small talk so it would be blameless
I’d be ready, I thought if I met someone famous.

Tell the truth? That party was a little bit bleak
Most writers, up close, don’t look that unique
A few leaned like beanpoles, several looked squashed.
I can’t say for certain each one of them washed!
But my boss, Lois, welcomed them all like guests in her home
and asked each to speak about his or her tome.

Now none of their books were on best-seller shelves
Most writers had published their books by themselves
Tales like “Granddad Lived his Life As a Bear”
and “Making a Million with Stray Body Hair”
Still, each author stood before us, head held high and proud,
and spoke on his or her story – too long and too loud.

The writers droned on, till I was ready to weep
For my wasted day off and my poor pinched up feet
When between the book stacks I happened to spy
A thick-browed old gent, in a suit and bow tie
Who he was, I wasn’t sure that I knew.
He reminded me of someone…I just didn’t know who.

As another writer described his obsession with warts
My boss leaned over and whispered, “At least that one didn’t wear shorts.”
“Having fun?” she asked. I lied and said “Yes.”
“Well, you’ve worked really hard, in that lovely dress
And because you helped make this day such a treat,
“Come on,” Lois said. “There’s Someone I want you to meet.”

Lois walked and I followed, away from the crowds
And into the stacks, toward the Gent with the Brows.
Lois and he acknowledged each other with smiles
Then she gave me a grin you could see for a mile!
And said with a chuckle that was soft, low and loose
“Ted, Leslie helps here.  Les, meet Dr. Seuss.”

My mouth fell open. My toe-blisters al broke.
The small talk left my head without even a note.
I stared till the man nodded and then looked away
I was facing my hero and I had nothing to say?!
My stomach became lead; my brain turned to glue
I blurted, “IREALLYLOVEDSOLLASALLEW:

And that, dear friends, I am sorry to say
Is all I recall about that fateful day
The memory though can still make me wince
Still, I’ve kept what I learned from that day ever since:
That for my self-respect, and the good of my heart
I avoid the artist when I worship the art.

Yes, the last thing I learned from that wondrous Seuss-man
Is when it comes to writers, I’m just a big fan.

#ObeseNoMore

The one question I kept asking myself:
How in hell did I get this big?
We all live our lives by labels.  Those governed by birth are immovable.  Whether you’re a baby-boom, Gen-X or millennial, you’ll be one for the rest of your life, even if you lie about it.  Some birth labels, like nationality, look permanent but can be changed, and some we have even more say on, at least in theory.  I’ve lived with one label too long.

Obese.

If there is a word in the language I hate, that’s the one.  Clinically, it means someone whose Body Mass Index is higher than 30; when the extra weight can really starts to compromise someone’s health. But to the many non-medical people, obesity is a character flaw, not evidence of a health problem, a weakness in someone else that can be exploited.
60 lbs. down and
I’m still OMG obese
And that kind of thinking can be hell to live with when you’re obese.
See, part of the pain of being really big is how that kind of treatment undercuts your confidence.  Graduate with honors? Yeah, but you’re still obese.  Complete a 5K? Doesn’t matter if you’re big as a house. Lose more than a hundred of those extra pounds? Well, that’s a really good effort darlin’, keep up the good work, but don’t think that you’ve earned my respect.  Only thin people qualify for that.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve listened to that old song while I rode the roller coaster of weight gain.  And, as the scale numbers went up, my sense of self-worth plummeted. Like lots of other overweight people, I tried to compensate for my size by being smarter, funnier and nicer. Inside, I just got more tired, sadder, and fatter. So, instead of learning about getting healthy, I learned about the degrees of obesity.  I watched myself morph from an obese woman into severely obese one, then morbidly obese, and finally super obese.

Overweight, yes, but,
#ObeseNoMore

I also learned all my compensation efforts didn’t work. Those who liked me liked me at any weight; everyone else turned away. Eventually, my fat almost became an invisibility cloak. See, many people don’t like to look at fat ladies huffing and puffing along, so they turn a blind eye to us.  Even when we get into trouble. Part of me hated becoming invisible but, to tell the truth, by that point, I was working hard not to notice myself. Between that and turning a deaf ear to anything that sounded like negative criticism, I didn’t realize how my health was deteriorating until I was in very bad shape.  When I couldn’t look away any longer.

Funny thing was, my visibility as a person started returning (along with my physical strength) as I slowly descended the obesity ladder.  All of the sudden I could walk long distances again, run and cross my knees. But, for all of the improvement, I still was measured by that old label: obese. It felt like a death sentence.
Then, a few weeks ago, the scale numbers dropped again, and my Body Mass Index fell below the dreaded 30. If you looked at me, I doubt if you could tell the difference but a burden’s been lifted.  I’m still too heavy but that label with dread connotations no longer applies to me.  After 30 years, it’s the sun just rose and it feels like a whole new day.
#ObeseNoMore.
Being overweight never felt so good.

The Evolution of a Door: The Misadventures of a Would-be DIY’er

Madison Avenue thinks it knows what presents women wish for. They tell us through commercials all the time. What love token should you give a lady? Give her diamonds. Give her shoes. Give her a new car.  Well, Madison Avenue never heard of me.
I wanted a new front door.
Door, the First
In all fairness, I’ve wanted one for the past 27 years. Our little house came with a rather standard, wooden door; one that let in the weather, but kept out the light. Can’t say I liked it much. Matter of fact, I hated the thing. But, with one thing and another, the door never got replaced when we were a double-income family.  Now that we’re living on one, what were the chances my front door could change?
You’d be surprised.

Not that it was easy.  First off entry doors aren’t cheap, at least entry doors that have lots of glass.  Go ahead, google “3/4 lite entry door”. and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  I’ll wait.

Scary, isn’t it?

Well, I started scouring.  Craig’s List, LetGo, Facebook selling, you name it.  And I finally found this beauty at a price we could afford.  Only one small issue.  Can you guess what it was?
Yup.  We had to install it ourselves.
Now, you wouldn’t call us natural DIY-ers.  Actually, we’re probably closer to DDIY-ers (Don’t Do It Yourself).  But if I wanted a new door, this was the only option.  So, after Googling, You-Tubeing and streaming all the home improvement video I could find, I figured we were ready.
See what happens when you leave a
wife alone with a hammer?

The first part, (obviously) was removing the old door’s trim, molding, and frame, then the door, itself. That’s when I discovered my husband’s favorite DIY hack.  See, he doesn’t like doing this stuff so, whenever we ran into a problem, he went to the store. Always. And while he was gone, I’d get so impatient waiting for him, I work out the solution myself.  By noon, he’d been to the hardware store 3 times, and I had the door out of the frame.

The next part was the doozy because, it turns out, doors are like Goldilocks. For them to open and close in their frames, their plumb, level, and balance must be j-u-u-u-ust right. Close is not good enough, as we learned. We got the framed door into the spot, shoved in skinny wedges of wood called shims to keep it straight, and nailed everything into place. It looked great from the outside, but the damn thing wouldn’t open or close without a fight. And, once shut, it wouldn’t sit flat in the frame. My sis called about that time, asking how the project was going.  I said, “It’s not really functioning as a door right now, but the light is beautiful.”  My husband swore and said he had to go back to the store. And I sat down to study the problem. 
Is it the house or 
the door that’s tilted?

Turns out that doors function on reverse psychology.  If you need them to come up in the top left corner, you have to adjust the bottom, right part.  And vice versa.  I also learned there are two kinds of skims: some go between the door frame and walls and others go between the hinge and frame.  It’s a tricky business.  So, by tightening and nudging, making tiny adjustments, adding and pulling out shims, the door eventually straightened itself into the frame.  Finally, I was ready for hardware, just as my husband pulled back into the driveway.
In order to save money, I planned to remove the old handle and lock and transfer them to the new door, but the hardware had other ideas.  A tiny screw went flying while I unloosened the old handle and I haven’t seen it since.  One of those teensy, one-of-a-kind screws, of course.  Now I had to go to the hardware store, to buy a new handle and lock. These cost half as much as the new door but I must admit they look nice.

All told, it took almost a whole week to finish up (and the spray-on foam insulation made a mess) but the new door is magnificent.  It looks like it was made for the house.  And Sis, continuing in her role as Best Sibling Ever sent two flanking planters as an early Christmas gift, either for me or the Door, I’m not really sure which.  The sawdust is cleaned up, our pulled muscles have healed, and almost all the tools are back in place.  And the light shining through is magnificent.

So be careful what you wish for if you want a new door. Diamonds might be an easier, cheaper gift. But, then again, nothing in Zales’s catalog has this way of saying, “Welcome Home.”

%d bloggers like this: