Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our Kitchen Demolition Derby-from beginning to end

We've lived in our Arizona home for over six years and we've done a few home improvements during that time.  We took out all the carpeting (nice in cold weather climes, awful here) and put in bamboo flooring everywhere.  We took out that cursed Bermuda grass in the back yard (hated fiercely by the dogs because it's so hard) and replaced it all with beautiful pavers.  We did put in a strip of nice soft turf grass which the doggies appreciate.

Ah, but the kitchen.....  a builder's special.  You know that kind.... the least expensive counters, cupboards, etc.  Well, the countertops started to chip, here and there.  So, there comes a time when talking about it becomes DO SOMETHING!

It just so happens that Abbott has a really good friend who has been in the remodeling business for a long time (and is a wonderful musician on the side.)  Lou proved to be an enormously gifted craftsman, a perfectionist, very resourceful and an incredibly hard worker.  Following his guidance, we went to IKEA and purchased our new kitchen and all that that entails.

Then the plumber came and pulled out the kitchen sink and the demolition was on!  Removing everything from the kitchen proved to be hellish.  There was *stuff* everywhere, in the living room, on the dining room table (totally covered) on the kitchen table (totally covered) piled in the guest bedroom, piled on the washer and dryer (that was fun) and spilling out into the garage and the patio. To say it was difficult to walk around is an understatement.  We had to eat out a lot because we had nothing to cook on or in.  The one thing we managed to keep plugged in was the coffee machine!

So here are some photos of what we lived through.  The end result was.............WORTH IT!

Here's what the kitchen looked like before the demolition.

The demolition begins.....

Lou, putting the cabinets together in the garage.

Not much room to navigate........

The first cabinets go up!

A continuing mess.............

Several of the cabinets are in place.  We're waiting for the countertops. 

A bit of a story here... Lou got a call from a friend he hadn't seen for quite a while, another musician. Guess what he does for his day job now?  He works for a local counter fabricating company!  The upshot of this particular good fortune was that we went with his company and you can see the granite installers below.

Here comes the really big piece!

In the meantime, Snuggles and Sterling were banished to the patio while the counters came in! They were not happy.

Lou came to make sure the counters were installed to his specifications.

The big slab is in as is the new sink!

The backsplash is going up by Mr. Perfectionist!

Lou says this was the worst part of the job since the backsplash was made out of aluminum and the ends had to be cut to fit like a puzzle.  OY!  He says he'll never put in another backsplash like this one!  I don't blame him..  He had to buy a special blade to cut the pieces. 

And here's the finished kitchen.

I took 197 photos from start to finish.  But these few will give you an idea of what has been going on here from November 18th until yesterday evening.  I can't thank Lou enough for the fantastic job he did.  If it wasn't for his expertise, his dedication, his wonderful sense of humor, and his easygoing persona, this project wouldn't have gone as well as it did.  I offered to adopt him but he just snickered.  I'm really glad he and Abbott are such good friends.  And this:  Thanks, G, for loaning out your husband for so many weeks.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Continuing the Charter School Discussion

Continuing the charter-school discussion on the Robert Reich thread on Facebook, the following conversation took place.

William M wrote to me that charter schools are the major problem, that they are a result of a concerted effort the conservative/Xtian types use to end run the standard public school curriculum (which reflects and actual separation of church and state) and turn a bunch of impressionable kids into little narrow-minded "for profit Jesus" acolytes. And that many folks don't realize that every time a charter school is created you suck some blood out of the public school system since they are, in effect, competing for the same funds.  He says that it's a clever fifth column initiative by religious extremists masquerading as "educational reformers."

This was my response.

William: I am aware of what charter schools do.  But check out the schools in New London, CT where every school is a public charter school.  I believe it's the only city in the nation to do this.  My comment was made out of incredible frustration with the Right's was against education.  As long as there are idiots like Diane Douglas here in AZ who was just voted in as State Education Superintendent and has NO education background, we have a problem. I was a public school teacher  years ago and always believed in the system.  With Republicans decimating funding for public schools, the system no longer works.  When you get Republicans who don't believe children have a right to a good education, we D/P/Ls have to find a way to make sure we raise intelligent youngsters to counter what the idiot religious fanatics are raising.  If Republican-controlled states are killing public education, we have to wrest control back and funnel tons of money into education or fight them another way-through our own charter schools. Have you another suggestion?

Now, what do you, who may be reading this, think about a public, Progressive/Liberal national chain of charter schools?  Can it be done?  Should it be done to combat the Right-wing onslaught of stupidity?

This is not just an important issue.  It may be so urgent and critical to the life of this nation, that it will become imperative that these kinds of schools take the lead to produce critically-thinking, intelligent individuals who believe this country should work for everyone and words like altruism, generosity, humanity, kindness, equality and goodness become the norm.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

It's Time To Start a Chain of Progressive/Liberal Charter Schools

I was responding to a long comment on FaceBook by Robert Reich on the change in The New Republic which was a liberal voice and now will become a stripped down shadow of its former self, and this is what transpired.       

My comment:

Good grief my head is exploding from all the insane right wing propaganda.   I want liberal/progressive ideas shouted, screamed from the rooftops, drowning out the Right's march to stupidity, hatred and greed.  Perhaps it's time to start a chain of Progressive/Liberal charter schools across the country to make sure the upcoming generations are really well-educated so they WILL be able to drown out the nuts, the uneducated, the religious fanatics, the 18th century thinkers of the Right.  Okay, I'm off my soap box now.  But, that felt good! 

David responded by saying there is already a chain.... college.

I wrote back:

David, by college, it's too late.  We need junior high and high school kids to become passionately involved in making this country work for everyone.  We need those kids to become activists for their own future.

Paul told me to get back on my soapbox and make it so.  So I added: Paul, my soapbox is my blog where I write in order to vent.

Judy wrote:  Great idea, starting liberal and progressive charter schools.  So many entities are establishing "charter schools", many religious, so this is the time for progressives to get in on the act.

There were a few more comments on my thread and dozens more on this subject.  The upshot of this whole thing is that we, as liberals and progressives, must get much more vocal, vociferous, forceful, and active to make sure people understand the tremendous harm, immorality, iniquity and evil the Republican Party has and will continue to inflict on the majority of citizens of this country.

I like the idea of Progressive/Liberal charter schools.   The crazies have their schools.  The intelligent, forward-thinking, educated people should have theirs.    This is really a war for the future of this country.   What do you think?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kitchen demolition derby

We've been in our Arizona home for over six and a half years.  In that time we haven't done much in the way of upgrading or changing anything in it except for improving all the closets with some built-ins when we first moved in and making one of the bedrooms into an office with built-in cabinets, shelves and desks.

So during this past summer, we tore out the Bermuda grass in the back yard.  That stuff was awful and hard and prickly.   The dogs hated to walk on it so they would walk on the bricks surrounding the grass.  We opted for replacing that grass with lovely pavers and stones which really made a pretty addition to our patio.  We then planted a strip of soft turf grass for the dogs over on the side of the pavers.  It looks pretty and the dogs really like that area.  A pergola will be added next year.

However, the inside of the house looked like it needed........... something.  Our kitchen counters were made of that wonderful "builders' special" stuff that looked like it would crack if you looked at it funny.  Well, it did crack......off.  A large piece came off where it could be readily seen.  So, it was time to actually do something.  Where to start!

So, along comes Lou, a good friend of Abbott's, whose first career was as a contractor.  He's done some huge projects both in Massachusetts and here.  He's the drummer in Abbott's band and he's quite a musician now.  He doesn't do "contracting" now.... but for me....well, sure.

We agreed to choose Ikea cabinets and Lou comes with us to the store, we choose what we like and Lou orders what we need.  Some of it isn't in the store.  It's in their California warehouse and some pieces still have to come in to the country.  So, we get our order ...piecemeal.  It's still not all here yet. Lou begins the demolition derby in the kitchen and pretty soon we have "kitchen stuff" piled everywhere in the house.   This is just what's on and under the dining room table. The spare bedroom is piled with stuff, too.

Our plumber unhooks the dishwasher and the sink and brings me a beautiful new stainless steel one that will go in when the new countertops go on.  Lou works alone and is a perfectionist.  At this point we are coping with no kitchen sink or dishwasher, no microwave, no counters, and stuff everywhere.  Trying to make some meals has become a game.

We have now chosen our granite countertops.  It looks like it will be at least a few more weeks before they come in.  But, at least the microwave will be in today, I can just about use the stove but I can't use anything too big to cook in because there won't be a sink until nearly the end of this project and I'll be damned if we're going to wash stuff in the tub!

It's an interesting project, seeing how each piece, as it's put into its rightful place, allows me to envision how lovely this kitchen will look when it's done.  A pain in the tuchus?  Yes, but worth it? Definitely.