Story of My Life (Well, 10 Minutes Worth)

Went into studio. 

Remembered I was going to go to the basement for a certain tool. 

Got to basement, realized the dehumidifier needed emptying. 

Brought the bucket outside to water some plants instead of putting the water down the drain.

Stopped to consider the sweet stupidity of grey squirrels. 

Went inside and replaced bucket, had vague notion I was originally going to do something else in the basement but had no idea what, so went upstairs. 

Realized I still haven’t written the thank you cards from staying with family last weekend. Wondered where my coffee mug was, found it in the studio. 

Remembered I was going to get a tool from the basement.

Oh yeah…right.

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My New Sink

Last spring I decided it was time to get a new kitchen sink.

I had been spending a lot of time on Houzz, a social network centered around home design, interior design, and landscape design. It’s complex, but somewhat comparable to Pinterest (if Pinterest allowed people to organize their selected pics into blog posts).

Mostly I was on there because it was more fun than reading textbooks and because I crave visual inspiration, and it was definitely time to get some stuff around my house figured out.

I’ve always hated a lot about my kitchen. But I won’t bore you with my gripes about it…  With the discovery that there were leaks around my sink, I figured it was clear that the place to start was with a new sink.  Lucky for me, one of my best friends is a plumber and is on a “Will work for a homemade dinner” status with me.

Due to my excessive amount of visual consumption on Houzz, I had discovered I wanted an apron-front (AKA farm-house style) sink.

Exhibit A:

The farmhouse sink AKA apron front sink of my dreams.

A place to relax, wash veggies from the garden, and be all things domestic goddess.
Image from this blog.

Clearly, this was the sink for me. Perfect for washing all those veggies I was going to grow in my garden. (Hope springs eternal. I suck at gardening.)

But then… I discovered apron front sinks come in copper! Holy shlamoley, coolest thing ever!

Exhibit B:

Hammered copper apron front sink / farmhouse style sink

Can I get an “Oh yes please!”
Image from here.

So after I did a bunch of research about how to care for a copper sink and this and that and I had one all picked out, I started to think about the movement to keep copper mining out of northern MN. As you can probably guess, I’m opposed to hazardous mining in the Boundary Waters, anywhere near them, or anywhere near me and my loved ones in general.

I’m also opposed to them anywhere, which means I really can’t buy copper from…well, anywhere? (Curses in head loudly.)

Plus, if I were OK with allowing the pollution to happen elsewhere (again, I’m totally not, but just for conversation’s sake), then I’d likely be purchasing a sink ‘made’ in China.  There is a concern about copper from China having lead mixed in to reduce cost/price. I’m definitely not cool with washing my food and dishes in lead-water.

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

“But hey, that’s OK!” Voice-in-head told me. “There’s so many awesome sinks out there! I’ll get one that’s, you know, eco-friendly. That’s cool.”

In keeping with the themes of ‘used adds character,’ ‘distressed is beautiful,’ and ‘farmhouse-chic,’ I managed to find a perfect sink, for free.

  • My new sink was second-hand, so there were no problems from toxic mining methods.  Does it get more eco-friendly than that?
  • My new sink was aged and distressed, with character that only comes with age.
  • My new sink was a perfect fit for the hole in my countertop, which meant I didn’t have to go buy a new counter, either.
  • You may have already guessed it, but I kept the sink I already had.

The leak was actually from the faucet (which plumber-friend explained was indeed beyond repair and I needed a new one). The other area causing a leak was a small gap between the counter and the wall which just needed repairing.

So I got a new faucet (so I guess it wasn’t totally free, but I would have needed a new faucet even if I bought a brand-new sink).  No more leaking, plus it totally changed the mood in my kitchen.

I now look at my kind of ugly sink and counter with pride instead of loathing because I chose to have them there. They are also now a symbol to me of a truly conscious style of consumerism – going beyond green-washed products that are really the same old form of “Buy buy buy” and getting back to the mentality of the people who originally owned those old, beautiful farmhouse-style sinks:

Make-do and mend.

Make-Do and mend war-time propaganda

Part of Britain’s WWII rationing efforts – Make-Do and Mend. Pic boosted from Ecouterre but widely available.

Note: I want to clearly state that this the choice that was right for me and my family. I know that other people will come to decisions in ways that are right for their family. I changed my choice of hammered copper sink to one that goes to a store instead of to someone else’s blog because I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am judging the other person’s decision to buy one.

Hey, they are gorgeous sinks! I totally get it! 🙂

An Abrupt Shift to Spring

I got some bad news last week.

I had driven up the North Shore of Lake Superior on Sunday, and back down on Monday. I got some pics, including this one at a rest stop:

Split Rock River rest area / pull off on Lake Superior.

Split Rock River rest area / pull off on Lake Superior.

I drove down to the Twin Cities metro area for class, and I was incredibly excited. I had secured a brief gig line editing for someone and writing/designing a web site for a small business – two separate, paying, jobs!

After class I got the news: my grandfather had succumbed to cancer after a five-year fight.

I was no longer excited.

————————————————-

I don’t want to focus on my grandpa’s story, though. It’s too new for me to write about here. I know that five years is a long time to prepare oneself, but it was still a shock to receive the actual news.

Last week was a whole lot of phone calls, texts, and trying to coordinate people, schedules, etc. Wednesday night was the wake and visitation, and the funeral was Thursday. My grandfather was Catholic and active in his parish, so in a way it’s pretty cool that his funeral mass was during Holy Week. Personally, I didn’t receive much comfort or closure from the religious proceedings, but I did really appreciate the church basement luncheon after the interment.

I made sure to spend a bit of time thanking the church ladies for their work making so much food for us.  Nothing was store-bought. Everything was made by those ladies, including a rainbow-colored panoply of Jell-O salads and two different kinds of potato salad (total aside: my understanding is that this type of food is distinctly Midwestern, as is the church basement luncheon. It may not be haute cuisine, but it was comforting at a time when we sought comfort, and was a labor of love).

As important as the rituals of burial and the comforts of community and family, I was glad to go home and approach grief in my own way.

Turns out it’s spring cleaning.

I spent Friday cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning. It was one of the first days up here I could open all of the windows for the first time in months, and I got outside and chipped away at the ice build-up, I wiped things down, I gave away a set of china I don’t use anymore which freed space for my fabric stash, and so on.

Outside, I found a powerful reminder of spring and renewal: grass shoots in the cold mud.

The first grass shoots of spring - at least in my yard.

The first grass shoots of spring – at least in my yard.

I also found the iris has decided to come up, as well as a lovely little Box Elder Bug sunning itself.

Early Iris Shoots

Green!

Box Elder Bug & Iris

Grandpa was a tidy person, and I know he would have appreciated my effort to make my home a better place for me, my children, and my guests. Cleaning felt very appropriate, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on any real homework. My focus was pretty shallow.  I stayed home from a party that night and stayed home from school the next morning. Boyfriend treated me to breakfast out at an Ecuadoran restaurant in town and then it was home for more cleaning, then off to an early Easter celebration. By the end of all of that, I was too exhausted to be sad anymore. I know it was also due to the cathartic nature of a good house-cleaning spree.

With some more time, my creative spirit will return. I hope it’s soon.

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