Friday, March 10, 2017

Remodeling a Bathroom and a Lesson Therein



I’ve waited almost six years to remodel our main bathroom, and by “remodel” I mean gutting it as well as widening its freakishly narrow doorway. If my husband and I were ever required to use walkers in our old age, we’d be stuck in the hall. That’s how narrow that doorway is. An outhouse doorway would be wider.


But also, although we made some tweaks to it when we bought our condo, for the most part this bathroom has held on to the ’80s as if its existence depended on it. Hardly. The ’80s were a long time ago. I barely remember them.



Our contractor is scheduled to start a mere six weeks from now, so, on the mend from a long stretch with bronchitis, I finally ventured out the other day to shop. My husband is the “This is our budget” half of our team, and I am the “Let’s not settle because we have to live with this bathroom for a long time and I am willing to spend a little more” half. Fortunately, we’ve learned over our decades of marriage to stay friendly through these events, even if it takes some negotiating.

We happily chose a vanity and another cabinet, arranged for our mirror to be reframed to match them both, and decided on fixture finishes. We also ordered what we wanted for the walk-in shower and a commode, the latter tall enough for people over five feet tall, which we are. (Maybe in the ’80s, everyone was really short and we didn’t notice. I can’t think of any other explanation for this tiny apparatus we’ve been living with.) A wall paint color, a backsplash, and a few other materials are still on a list, but we had to choose some flooring sooner than later.

Not tile floor people, not wood or laminate for a bathroom floor people, we looked at vinyl samples. You might or might not know hundreds of designs exist, in different thicknesses. At the third store, we found the perfect choice—only to discover today that it’s been discontinued. A perfectly lovely design with colors that went well with the vanity wood sample I carried from place to place and a satisfying thickness, yet unavailable.

What a disappointment. A first-world disappointment, a minor disappointment, but still, I put on a frowny face. I don’t like “starting over,” and I don’t have that much time to shop.

Too often we make decisions as though we are in complete control of what’s available. Then we hit a bump in the road and we’re disappointed instead of being grateful we have a road. We get all frowny and the sky looks all cloudy.

But didn’t Jesus say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”? Okay, he didn’t say that. But can you imagine him wasting time being disappointed if one of his disciples said, “Sorry, Lord. Those sandals you picked out for our next long walk? The guy doesn’t make that design anymore. You’re going to have to make another choice.” Uh, no. He would have just made another choice and stayed on mission. No frowning, no cloudy thoughts.

My husband went back to one of the stores and brought home more vinyl samples, all still available. We decided one of them works. Sold! Problem quickly solved. But even if that had not been the case, my disappointment about our first choice had to be put in its place.

That’s the little lesson I reminded myself of today from our bathroom remodel. And when you're replacing the tiny commode in one bathroom, it makes sense to replace the tiny commode in the other bathroom too. After all, this is not 1980.



photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=49339&picture=old-toilet

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Frame for the Weary


I haven’t posted here for months, not since around the presidential election in November. The truth is between surgery last fall, the holidays, our exhausting political climate, an unusually full workload in January, and a few realities in my world that invite at least minimal worry, I’ve become a bit weary.

Weary is not fatal. It’s not even depression. But it’s tiring and can suffocate a life of gratitude. If you let it, it can make you feel like an empty frame. You're holding together, yet something is missing right in the middle.

Thankfully, my surgery seems to have eradicated cancer from my body. But I've felt weary with the ongoing testing, with waiting for results…again. With thinking about my cancer at all.

I’ve been wearied by cold weather. Wearied by a common sinus/cough thing that, in the words of a healthcare professional about all of us so sickened, “just doesn’t seem to want to go completely away.” Wearied by a DVR that had to be replaced, a contractor who didn’t return calls, important mail miss-delivered, receiving a document about jury duty although I’ve served on three juries already. (Okay, that was in a different state, but three still seems like enough.)

Weary. Just plain weary. By the big and the small. Pick-me-ups—seeing a movie, visiting with family and friends, planning a spring vacation—help. But they don't provide the bigger lift I tend to look for when weariness hits. And then I become weary of me, feeling like a complainer with nothing much to complain about.

The Scripture we all think of when we’re weary is Matthew 11:28–30 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

An NIV Study Bible note says Jesus’s statement was “probably a reference to the ‘heavy…loads’ the Pharisees placed ‘on other people’s shoulders by insisting on a legalistic interpretation of the law.'” And we can spend a lot of time unpacking what Jesus meant by referring to his "yoke." But today, if he’s also talking to me, my reaction is, what burden? Right now, I can’t say I am “burdened.” I know of too many people suffering in this world to think of myself as burdened. The average stay-at-home parent is more burdened amid the joy of raising children than I am burdened by, well, anything. Not now.

Yet I believe the Lord offers all of us—the weary of all kinds, the weariness that can come from even the small—his rest. In these weary days, I have heard again, “Come to me, all you who are weary.”

And so I go. I don't need to be an empty frame, holding myself together without joy. Without rest. The rest he offers to fill me is so much more than anything else I could find.

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=193820&picture=frame-background

Thursday, January 26, 2017

An Actual Fact: 4 Ways You Can Find One (and a Fact about Mary Tyler Moore)

Mary Tyler Moore passed away yesterday, and so I thought I'd dig up this old post where I feature her talent. But it's also interesting that, in our current political and social media climate, we are all considering what is a fact and what is not. Perhaps a nugget or two here speaks to all of us facing that challenge as well as to my original audience, writers. I have changed only the years I reference and, sadly, acknowledge with past tense that Mary is no longer with us.

In the chick flick Runaway Bride, a reporter played by Richard Geer is asking someone who knows the oft-engaged character played by Julia Roberts for some information. As the woman explains a few realities to him, she says something like, “It’s a fact. An actual fact.”

Mary Tyler Moore
Maybe this scene is memorable for me because the actress makes those lines funny. Or maybe because a fact would have to be actual to be, well, actually factual, and as an editor I would question using that phrase. But it does make me think about how much writing and editing require fact checking.

Most often, when I am editing I'm checking for proper name spellings—for a person, organization, movement, brand, and so on. Or a poison in a murder mystery, which would raise some eyebrows for anyone looking at my Internet search history. Sometimes I need to check a word I never heard of, which might mean looking at an online dictionary that has words and sayings not yet (or will never be?) in mainline dictionaries. Quotes, including Scripture quotations, need to be checked as well. Authors at times quote Scripture from "memory" and don't quite get there.

And sometimes I wonder if an author’s fact is, in fact, an actual fact (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and so I look it up to make sure they're right. Usually the author is correct and I learn something new, but sometimes it is a good thing I did my job and checked.

I don't know if these are the same tips you would get in Fact Checking 101, but here are some of the tricks I suggest when using an Internet search engine like Google for your writing or editing:

  • Look for what is most likely the top reliable source. If someone or an entity has an official website, that is probably the best source for what is unique to them. For example, if you want to know the exact spelling and style for a nonprofit agency, look on their website. 
  • Use cover images when it comes to books. Authors (and their characters in novels) often quote from books. If you need to know the exact title of a book, or the exact order of the coauthors, find the cover's image on a seller's or the publisher's site and go with what you see. Even sellers and publishers sometimes get their data wrong, but cover images are rarely incorrect.
    • Take a propensity of identical answers into account. If you can find no definitive source but dozens of sources have the same information, then at least for consistency's sake consider if it’s safe to go with what appears to have become acceptable.
    •  Use the latest sources you can find. If you suspect you are dealing with an old wives' tale, look it up. Reputable sources have figured out the truth. When using news sources, compare dates for the same topic to help ensure your news is not old news. What are believed to be facts in 2016 can have been revealed as false by 2017.
    I was hoping to find a clip of that "actual fact" scene in Runaway Bride, but alas, I could find only this YouTube post with Mary Tyler Moore singing “Actual Fact.” Without looking up a thing, I can tell you for a fact that she was one talented lady!
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