Our gorgeous deck!

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I must say that Coastal Lumber did a marvelous job!

Here is what the space looked like before…

ugly, isn't it...

ugly, isn’t it…

and after…

...and the guys who did the work...

…and the guys who did the work…

Here are some ‘during’ shots…

Its scary when a big 'ol truck has to maneuver around our little parking lot!

Its scary when a big ‘ol truck has to maneuver around our little parking lot!

Support posts for the deck.

Support posts for the deck.

Placing the boards on the deck frame.

Placing the boards on the deck frame.

Once it was done, I rolled on a water-resistant stain.  Painting is not my forte.  Not sure what is, exactly, but it definitely is NOT painting.  However, it needed to be done, so I did it.  It doesn’t look half bad.

Now we have added an inexpensive table and chairs and a gazebo for shade.  We spend many lunchtimes out there, sometimes have client meetings and even our clients will use it after meetings to continue their conversations.

Before photo

Before photo

Come and set a spell...

Come and set a spell…

That’s the definition of a well-designed space!  😉

Sherman-Williams’ new Chip-It! tool

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Choosing colors for your home can be exhausting.  And trying to match the colors of your favorite painting or quilt or flower (or the other way ‘around, matching a pillow to the color of your walls) usually means a run to all the different paint stores trying to find a match. Or, worse, carrying that pillow around with you – been there, done that.

Sherman-Williams just made that job easier!  They have a little bookmarklet you add to your toolbar and when you see a color you like online, you can click on the Chip It! tool, drag it to the picture and it will provide you with chips for the colors in that window!

Very cool – plus you can go to the Chip It! website and upload photos and the tool with provide color chips.

Its not perfect.  I uploaded some random photos I already had to see what it would do.

The tool chose the colors it wanted but not all the colors represented.  Chip It! gives you 5 chips regardless of the number of colors in the picture.  So your new-favorite color might not be one of those it chooses.

Image

 

In the above photo, the tool completely missed the turquoise.

In the photo below, the tool decided no one in their right mind would paint a room all those different colors of brown, so it gave me a couple, plus a gray and then added the blue from the top left corner of the picture.

IImage

By the way, the above photo is a floor in the new Exploratorium in San Francisco.  The wood is from all over the world, very striking.  So many beautiful woodgrains and colors!

This photo below was the most disappointing.  It ignored the predominate green on the box!

Image

Oh, well, I still think this tool is worth checking out.  It did a pretty good job on this photo.

Image

But it didn’t give me the darker pink, only the lighter one.  And it added black, of which there was very little in this photo.  I thought that was a little strange.

I even uploaded this photo twice to see if some algorithm in the program might change and give me a different pallet of colors…no.

One you have an account on the Chip It! site, you’ll have access to all your colors from your tablet or smartphone.  You won’t have to carry all those chips around with you anymore.

Of course the color-matching is only as good as the color monitor you’re using, but you knew that, right?  😉

My Mother-in-Law

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 Ha!  I knew that would get your attention!  This post isn’t about my Mom-in-Law, what kind of a blog do you think this is?

Its about shopping…but keep reading anyway, k?

I hate shopping  >sigh<

My mom-in-law, Jan, is a whiz at sewing.  She has a mag (and expensive) big-time Serger machine and loves to do quilts and special embroidery.  The machine is pretty amazing and she’s pretty amazing with it.

Jan wants to put Rick’s company logo on a shirt for his birthday, which is right around the corner.  It’s a lovely idea and, although she gave me plenty of warning, I haven’t found the time to go buy the shirts.  Maybe I haven’t ‘found’ the time because I hate shopping, didn’t I mention that?

There’s a VanHeusen outlet store right down the freeway at The Great Mall.  And that’s one reason why I haven’t gone shopping – that place is huge!  It takes planning with a travel agent to make your way around it.

Anytime I shop I have done 1 of 2 things:  I’ve decided to go on the spur-of-the-moment OR I’ve given myself a pep talk for days ahead of time.  I’ll wake up in the morning “ok, tonight would be a good time to go get those shirts” and all day long I’ll dread the evening chore and put it off.

I’ll wake up the next morning and say “ok, tomorrow would be a good time to go get those shirts” and all day I’ll think to myself “ok, tomorrow WOULD be a good time to go get those shirts”.  Then I’ll wake up the following day and say “oh, pooh, I have to go get those shirts”…so I won’t go get the shirts.

Now, if I happened to be driving by the Great Mall with nothing on my mind and notice that I’m actually driving by the Great Mall, I might say to myself “hey, I can go get those shirts right now!”  But, I don’t often drive by the Great Mall so the odds of that happening are slim.  And, truth be told, I have never-want-to-leave-my-house syndrome, so I’m perfectly happy never leaving my house.  Especially now that the weather is nice and I have lovely patio furniture under a tarp – I know its a parking lot but the garden is gorgeous – and I’ve learned to ‘turn off’ the airplanes and LiteRail and police sirens that are the serenade of downtown living.

But, I digress…

Finally, after a few reminder emails and a call from Jan, I got the BRILLIANT idea of buying it online and having it shipped to her!  I am so smart!  I have been to that store enough times to know exactly what Rick wants – so I bought 2 of them!

Such a relief not to have to go shopping…at least for the shirts.  We’re out of coffee and running low on TP 😉

The ‘good’ stuff

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Take a look around your house.  Now, take a real look…at the pictures on the walls, at the paint, at the rug, at your knick-knacks.  What did you see?  Does your house look tired?  Ignore messy, ignore dust (for the moment) and try to look beneath all of that to the actual items, themselves.

When we moved a couple years ago, we took down all the pictures on the walls and I took a close look at them for the first time in awhile.  I really looked at them.   I realized that my favorite Yosemite vintage poster replicas had faded substantially.  The colors that drew me in the first time I saw them weren’t there anymore.  

...not the same poster but you get the idea...

I have a quilt that I love and when I got out the pillow shams that I’ve rarely used and put them on the quilt, I discovered that the quilt was a shadow of its former self!  Terribly faded, I’m very sad to say.

Do you have things like this in your house?  Things that have seen better days but you haven’t gotten rid of them.  Perhaps that coffee mug was given to you by a friend, but its all chipped and scratched.  Possibly you have a sweater you wore on your first date with your wife and the moths have enjoyed it just as much as you have.

Is there a dead plant on your porch?  Is that ‘chandelier’ over your dining room table fake brass and frosted glass from 1975?  Do you have holey socks in your dresser?   Did you staple the straps together on your favorite pair of sandals (I did…).

On sale for $22 on Craigslist. Just let it go...

We need to free ourselves from these things.  Toss the holey socks – unless you plan on darning them!  I actually own one of those wooden dowel things that are used to darn socks…I don’t know quite what I thought I’d be doing with it.  Never used it.  But I still have it.

If you have a fake brass and frosted glass light fixture anywhere in your house, then here’s a website for you!  http://www.lampsplus.com  We’ve purchased many lamps from LampsPlus.  They have great sales and lamps in all styles.  You can visit a store near you but if they don’t have what you want you can order it online.  You can even order it online while you’re standing in the store if you’d like help from a salesrep in choosing the right lamp.

If you have pictures that look the worse for wear but you can’t bear to get rid of them, try putting them inside the door to the basement or behind a closet door or in the garage (my dad put some very fun posters up in the garage – he liked them but they didn’t go with the decor in the house – and, no, they weren’t calendar-girls from ABC Tool Supply!)

What about bathtowels?  I went to a relative’s house once and their towels were old, thin and very frayed along the edges.  So I bought them new towels for Christmas!  Next time I went to their house, there were the OLD towels…  Don’t save towels for special occasions.  Don’t save candles, either!

Years ago, Rick and I went to a unique house near where we live.  It looked like a castle – quirky- and overlooked a big creek.  It had been there since 1927.  They were having an open house, led by a tourguide.  The tourguide opened up the closets to show that the woman who used to live there had saved gift boxes (all nicely stacked) and tons of candles – she never burned them, put them all in the closet for a special occasion!  She died before that special occasion ever came around.  Two closets full of boxes and candles.  I’ll never forget that.  Candles are to be used!  Now, the house has been really fixed up and is available for vacation rentals.   http://www.howdencastle.com/

Howden Castle

And use the good china!  Use your wine glasses.  Don’t worry about breakage unless its your great-great-great-great-grandmothers china, then…maybe worry.  I think I have 7 of everything now.  I broke 2 things just this last week!  At least 1 thing breaks out of every set I have.  But, at least I use it.  I bought Corel dishes when my kids were little because, by golly, kids are greasy-fingered mess-makers!  Didn’t break a dish for 20 years, then I broke one.  What a nightmare that was!  Corel doesn’t break often but when it does break, it breaks into hundreds, no, MILLIONS of tiny little pieces sharp as needles!  Everywhere!  For days I was finding another piece or two.

If you are worried about replacing your dishes, then check out http://www.replacements.com/  They have a huge warehouse full of dishes of every style imaginable.  You can register the pattern(s) you have and they’ll send you an email about the inventory they have and special sales for your pattern(s) periodically.   If you don’t know the pattern, they’ll help you identify it.  If you are in their area, you can even visit their warehouse.  They are located in McLeansville, North Carolina.

I love Federal Glass.    I had one that was my grandmother’s and then, over the years, picked up a couple more items that I saw and liked – small dishes or bowls with starburst edging – and voila!  I had a collection without ever intending to…and I’m not asking for more of these, I just like having a few. 

pretty...

The other two patterns are these:  Palm Tree everyday dishes and some fabulous Starbust 1950’s dishes that were my parents’.  I only had a veggie serving bowl and a pitcher, then I discovered eBay and also found some dinner plates at a couple antique stores…they are darn expensive!  When I found out just how expensive, I put them away until we move to a place where I can display them safely.  Its not like me to collect something pricey!    These are very rare and I won’t be able to find replacements easily, nor cheaply.

I wish I could find a cheap replacement style of these...

Sorry, bit if a digression there…point is this:  Don’t wait for a rainy day.  Use the good stuff.  Enjoy it while you can.  AND when its usefulness is over, don’t mourn, don’t grieve, just be thankful to have good memories of it.   I know, its not easy.  Its hard for me, too.  But hoarding the good stuff is a little bit selfish, don’t you think?  And do you really want strangers looking at your pile of  good stuff and marveling at how you never used it?  Or, conversely, marveling at all the junk you accumulated because you couldn’t bear to get rid of it?

What’s in your house that you should get rid of?  Replace?  Fix?  Think of one thing and attack it with fervor!  Then…think of another thing….and another…and another…

We were at the house of someone who had a house in Carmel.  With all the dust, odd additions and cobwebs, it was a strange house.  In the bathroom was a collection of Avon perfume bottles – the kind people used to collect ages ago (does anyone still do that?  Is it a worthwhile hobby?) on  small knick-knack shelves.  Covered in dust…ugh…  Have you ever been to a restaurant with lots of stuff on the walls and on the ceiling?  Canoes, anchors, pedal cars, fake grapes, steering wheels, whatever.  I hate eating where there’s stuff hanging from the ceiling (other than lamps) because they are always so dusty, I just picture it falling into my food, blech.

If you have a collection of stuff you can’t be bothered to dust, then get rid of it.  Or, at the very least, put it in a cabinet that helps keep dust from accumulating!  A curio cabinet, maybe… 

only $500 on eBay! But you could find something cheaper, I'm sure!

This is garage sale weather!  Or have a trading party with your friends, a white elephant sale at church, donate the items to a worthy cause – maybe your local hospital has a neighborhood thrift shop.  We’re having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a local family that could use the financial help. 

Sell stuff on eBay, Craigslist or even get rid of it in Freecycle   http://www.freecycle.org/  We donated some desks and cabinets to InnVision – an organization that provides support to people who are trying to get their lives back together after battling drugs and alcohol – that way.  

Take a look around your house 😉

Get out of that rut!

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Sometimes you just gotta shake yourself off and get out of your rut.

Rick and I have taken up bicycle riding.  We both have a couple pounds to lose (no snide remarks, please) and we live near a lovely bike path or two or three, so we bought bikes at Walmart (again, no snide remarks).  First we went to an actual bike store, but since we are still in recovery mode from the depressed economy, we didn’t feel we could justify the $600 (or MORE!) they wanted for those cool bikes.  Maybe later…

 We have bicycles that we got free about 15 years ago with a paper supply company rewards program, but those bikes are very, very worn.  Our son, Andrew, rides one of them regularly to school, it’s perfect for that, not much else.

 Before this, when someone mentioned ‘bikes’ it was because we were riding motorcycles.   Now, it’s the motorfree kind.

Riding the Natchez Trace with Rick and 2 cousins

 OK, so we’ve each got a nice, comfortable bike and I even got a fat-butt seat and we’ve both got gloves with gel-padding on the palms and cute bells to warn people we’re ‘on your left’ and now we’re tweaking them to raise the handlebars a bit more and getting baskets and racks to carry stuff.

Rick’s been biking more than I have since I had a bunch of rehearsals for a party band gig and hold at least one Open House every weekend for a property that’s for sale  http://www.15720LomaVista.com .  He goes to Alviso and rides around the Slough Loop Trail   http://baytrail.abag.ca.gov/vtour/map3/access/BTAlviso/Btalviso1.htm or along the Guadalupe River Trail  http://www.sjparks.org/Trails/GRiver/index.asp  

A couple weekends ago we rode around Santa Cruz for about 5m before Rick got a flat tire and had to ride my bike back to the truck and drive back  to get me.  Bummer, it was a gorgeous day at the beach.  His bike is still in the shop, getting fixed.

 ANYway…so I’m now incorporating bike rides into our trips.  Rick’s going to training in Idaho for his Chief Architect 3D design program that he uses, so I am renting us a couple bikes and booked us for a biking adventure along a train track in the mountains that’s been converted to a bike trail – it’s slightly downhill all the way!  Love that!  http://www.skilookout.com/hiawatha   AND Monterey has some long and lovely bike trails that we’ll be doing in the next couple month.  17 Mile Drive in Carmel is bike-friendly, I’m told, so we’ll be doing (part of) that, too! 

Part of 17 Mile Drive http://www.pebblebeach.com

 This is completely out of my comfort zone.  I’ve always been klutzy on a bike, I’ve fallen and skinned elbows and knees all my life.  Side note: It might be because I never had good eyesight, I’ve worn glasses since 4th grade!  My 3D vision was always subpar.  My vision in each eye was so disparate, my eye doctor asked me if I got headaches.  I was pathetic at softball!  I could never gauge how far away the ball was!  However, I’ve had laser surgery and now my vision is much clearer, what a huge difference!  If this doesn’t make sense, email me and I’ll explain more…

 Surprise!  I’ve discovered I enjoy bicycling a lot.  I’ve rented bikes before in Tahoe with a bunch of girlfriends and we had a great time with that, but I never thought I’d actually look forward to getting on a bike regularly.  I like to walk, but Rick doesn’t and so…we are climbing out of our sedentary rut by taking up bicycling. 

This concept can be used in your house, too.   Do you spend too much time at the office?  Maybe that little used formal dining room could be modified to be a home office without too much trouble.  Martha Stewart has great organizing ideas for people trying to make the best use of their time and space.    http://www.MarthaStewart.com  And with all the possibilites of networking between office and home, videoconferencing  and the whole ‘cloud’ thing, its getting easier all the time to work from home, or shall I say ‘telecommute’…  Not only are you at home but you get points for not polluting the air by driving to the office!  Its a win-win!

Voila! Office hidden in a buffet cabinet. Thanks, Martha!

 
Maybe you need to spice up your marriage.  Try taking Hula lessons from a local Adult Education program…or learn to Tango or Salsa!
 
Always wanted to learn to swim?  Its never too late, check out your local YMCA for lessons! 
 
What about fishing?  Photography?  You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take great pictures.  And there are numerous sites where you can upload your pictures for people to use – some sites are free and some will pay you royalties. 
 
How about volunteering to help serve dinner at the Rescue Mission?  Or training your dog to be a companion dog at a nursing home. 
 
What are you doing to get out of your rut?  Let me know 😉
 
 

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…

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“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”*, then you will survive a construction project on your house.

Why is that, you ask?  Well, here are some examples of what kinds of things can happen during a typical project…things that have happened to us and things that’ve happened to our clients:

 We purchased all of our own finishes – lights, sinks, tubs, tile, flooring, doors, windows, you name it.  When the master bathroom sink faucets were being installed (2 sinks), it turned out that one of them leaked and couldn’t be repaired.  Guess what?  They didn’t make that model of faucet anymore (all of 5 months between purchase and installation) and we had to buy new ones – 2 faucets.  We had a perfectly good faucet and one broken one and nowhere to use the good faucet, aargh.

The perfect sink cabinet. Twice as expensive as we planned...

After looking forEVER for a unique bathroom cabinet, something antique-y looking – the design of the house was ‘cottage-style’ with emphasis on everything looking vintage yet fresh – I spent hours online, hours at antique stores, hours at design stores.  I found the perfect one and we stored it in the garage.  Can you guess what happened?  Somehow 2 corners were broken when they went to install it!  Our fault for not checking to see that it was perfect before shlepping it home.  I was very lucky to be able to  find another one. 

Bathroom sink – different bathroom – was 2 inches too wide for the space.  It would have fit, technically, but Code requires a specific distance between the potty and the sink and this wouldn’t have met code.  What happened to make the room 2 inches smaller than on the plans?  Well, we are talking about a ¼ scale plan and 2 inches is a tiny margin of error.  Anyone wanna buy a pedestal sink?

Think anyone will notice?

We bought butler pantry cabinets and they arrived with a broken drawer front – no big deal, we are able to have it replaced, but its just one more thing, isn’t it…

 One bathroom drawer was in the way for the plumbing so it had to be shortened.

 We found this great mosaic tile on sale, during installation we ran short by 1 sheet.  1 LOUSY SHEET!  I ran to 5 stores before I found any in stock.

 We forgot to include a switch for the garbage disposal sink above the kitchen counter, so we had to have one added under the sink.

They said I didn't order enough, but I ended up with left overs, hmmm?

Once the beautiful bamboo floor was installed, the guys put down a heavy layer of paper to protect it.  In spite of that, someone tracked some sort of adhesive ALL OVER THE HOUSE.  I spent hours and hours scrubbing it off – using goo-gone to start with and advancing to ever-stronger solutions with scrubby sponges, paint scrapers and prayer.  Hours and HOURS!  A couple spots absolutely refused to come off completely and I marred the floor in 1 spot – I was sick to my stomach for days about it.

 We didn’t think about how the lower cabinet in the laundry room should open and it is backwards, which is inconvenient.

 The beautiful vinyl, double-paned windows are installed and all of them are sliders with the exception of 1, it has a hand-crank.  By the time we go to sell the house, the crank is misplaced and we have to order a new one, it comes in, it’s the wrong style, we have to reorder.  I can’t complain much since Anderson sent the replacement out for free. 

 I definitely learned to keep items like this in a safe place and labeled properly!  Otherwise you’ll pull out some weird doohickey and wonder what the heck it’s for?  Shall I toss it, should I keep it?  3 years later you still don’t know what it’s for so you finally throw it away.  Then, and only then, do you need it.

Ryan is such a good worker!

 Garage door installation occurs prior to electricity being hooked up at the garage (a trench we forgot to have dug, so we recruit our kids and their friend to dig it).  Of course, we can’t have it tested – no electricity.   And, naturally, it doesn’t work when we do test it and we have to call the installers to come fix it.

 I called AT&T to come out and hook up a phone.  I wait all day for the technician who never shows.  I again called AT&T to give them a piece of my mind (which I can ill afford to lose) and they say no appointment was ever made!  Aargh!

...such a destructive and hungry little cuss!

We have gophers…in our pristine, gorgeous new sod…gophers are digging between the emerald carpet of sod and the dirt >sigh<  I consider using TNT.

 There is a tremendous amount of waste in a big project.  For instance, if you buy moulding, it comes in certain lengths, let’s say 14’ lengths.  You have a room that is 13×12, then you are tossing 1 foot and 2 feet with every cut.  And there is not one thing you can do about it.  You’ll have a pretty big pile of moulding by the end.  Maybe you can find a use for it, I couldn’t.

http://www.logcabinrustics.com (not the guy I contacted)

When we had a tree taken down I tried to find someone who would like the lumber.  A guy in Santa Cruz does carvings with a chain saw on big tree trunks.  He said he was interested and I followed up with him a few times, he never showed, so the tree eventually got chopped into fire wood.  I still have another big redwood tree trunk on a different property that someone is welcome to.

 Here’s a pretty frustrating scenario:  We’d gotten our project estimates based on product pricing.  I was very specific and got prices on everything I could spec ahead of time – knew where our doors where coming from, windows, potties, and on like that.  Well, when we went to buy the flooring, the supplier wouldn’t give us the same discount we’d talked about, making the product too expensive.  I have to find another supplier fast, which was very irritating…same product, same supplier, why wouldn’t they give us the discount?  Economy was still down, it wasn’t like buyers were climbing over the ramparts to order their products!  Anyway, we discovered Lumber Liquidators!  Great products and great prices.  Yay!

 We ordered a ton of cabinets – and when the order arrived there wasn’t room in the garage with all the other stuff (oven, stove, dishwasher, doors, screens…you get my drift) so we had to (scary thought, here) store it outside in the weather!!!  We bought a gi-normous blue tarp and stacked all the cabinets in the backyard and covered it with the tarp, holding it down with cement blocks.  Lucky for us, nothing was damaged.

 Other fun things that happen to the best of us:

Buried treasure? Well, not so much...

The contractor is digging a trench in the yard for a sewer pipe…Lo! And behold!  He unearths an old, abandoned septic tank in your back yard!  Surprise!  Or it could be an old diesel gas tank or oil tank or propane tank, whatever.  You can’t leave it alone.  You might be able to fill it in with gravel or you might have to dig it up and fill the hole in, either way, it’s $$ out of your purse.

 You order carpet, based on the room sizes, the installer and carpet store say you need to order ‘x’ amount of carpet.  Fine, you do so, 10 days later it comes in, the installer begins laying it out and you get a call.  There wasn’t enough carpet ordered to account for the pattern.  You’ve got to order more…and wait for it to arrive…delaying when you get to move in by 2 weeks.

Just tear it off and start over, old plaster stinks anyway.

You buy an old house and want to remove all the old paint and wallpaper from the walls.  There are about 8 layers of it and by the time you get to the last layer, the wall falls apart – its made of lathe, plaster and horsehair.  Now you have to put up drywall and have it taped and textured (which is actually OK because old plaster smells).  If you had just taken down the wall in the first place you would have saved yourself 3 long weekends of effort.

 The fence on your property is 3 feet closer to your neighbor than it should be. You are going to lose 3’ of your sideyard.

 Many of these happenings are no one’s fault.  You can’t sue anyone, you can’t pass the bill along to someone else, you are stuck and that’s the bottom line.

Count on having delays and surprises, you’ll live longer and without the tummy upset that worry can cause.  😉

 *IF, by Rudyard Kipling

headless photo credit = 

Image URL: http://mrg.bz/7AZ4Ef

 www.morguefile.com  unless otherwise noted.

Is it wrong to laugh?

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It was interesting to see on MSN’s Health page today an article about processing grief, in response to the tragedy that happened in Arizona this week.  www.msn.com 

“Arizona Shooting Aftermath  Don’t feel guilty about laughing.  … studies show that grief and sadness don’t just hit you like a wall, then disappear. It’s not just a uniform state, …. There are waves of emotion.  Fill those moments when sadness eases with lighthearted activities, such as a funny movie or coffee with a girlfriend who cracks you up.”

Hee-haw

The night after my father died some years ago, after fighting cancer for 2 years,  I remember being distressed to realize, viscerally, that someone dies every second of every minute of every hour of every day…all year long, every year.  Someone dies and others grieve.  Its not the kind of thing a person normally empathizes with unless one has experienced the death of a loved one.  Its a sobering thought; all that death, all that grieving.   

My sister, Mother and I were sitting in the office of the funeral director and reminiscing about Daddy.  The director commented that he was impressed at our ability to remember him with laughter.   One of the decisions to be made was about the casket.  Daddy wanted to be cremated (sorry, Mother, for mentioning it) and we were going to be taking his ashes back to the family cemetary in West Virginia.    There is a huge range of caskets from fancy, schmancy, all the way down to a cardboard box.

We were torn because we didn’t want to disrespect him but on the other hand, wow!  caskets can be expensive.  You can ‘rent’ a casket for a funeral service and have a person actually buried in something else, but we weren’t having the casket at the service and since Daddy was being cremated, the casket would be also.

Themed caskets, what will they think of next?

My mom couldn’t bear the thought of a cardboard box.  That seemed a little cheap, although we knew that our pragmatic father would prefer it.  But saying that you buried your father in a cardboard box just seemed too tacky, so we settled on a pine box.  I think there is something stalwart, noble even, about a pine box.  I should be cremated in a casket made of palm trees, btw, if anyone is making a note of it.

My dad was a funny person, a journalist with a great sense of humor.  At the service, his family and friends shared humorous stories as well as poignant ones. 

It took my mom 2 years before she really laughed again.

One of my best friends lost her son in a horrible accident just over a year ago.  A car hit him when he was in a pedestrian cross-walk.  How can you possibly cope with the loss of a child?  My friend told her ‘circle of 7’ that she needed to laugh, irreverent though it seems to others.  We get together to do just that – play goofy boardgames, tell dumb jokes, laugh at ourselves – to help her put aside, for a short, short time, the pain of Rory’s loss.

Another friend’s son was killed in a car accident.  DJ was the life of any gathering.  Immediately upon learning of his death, his schoolmates began coming over to his parents’ house to mourn him.  The conversations always turned to his over-the-top antics.  Spur-of-the-moment jumping on a table at school and belting out songs.  Trick-or-treating naked! with only his boy-parts covered.  Pretty soon everyone in the room was laughing and crying at the same time. 

At the website  http://myhyena.com/humorandtragedy.html  I found this insight on the value of humor, much abbreviated:

– Humor helps us regain the joy of living

– Humor helps us in recovery

– Humor helps us assist others

 Many believe in the health benefits of humor and laughter (http://myhyena.com/hh.html ) in its ability to reduce pain, stress, depression and enhance your immunity.  It also provides somewhat of a cardiovascular workout – breathing, heartrate, bloodpressure are all effected positively by laughter.

Paramedics, Firefighters, Police and ER staff use humor to deal with what they face everyday in their lives.  While lying in the ER, I overheard the staff talking about what they were doing for lunch, all the while numerous people were in the ER in pain.  Part of me wondered how they could be so oblivious to our agony, yet the other part realized they could not do their jobs without separating themselves from us.  Their joking wasn’t at our expense, it was to help them do their difficult and often thankless jobs day after day.

And what did the CHP officer tell me when he was crouching by my car window?  He said he appreciated my humor because it made it easier for him. 

The website for Ray Hananian, a comedian whose message is peace between Palestinians, Israelis and Jews, says “The best way to deal with pain is to reach right into the hurt and pull out a smile, a laugh and a feeling of hope!”  http://www.themediaoasis.com/appearances.htm  

Here is another website on the value of humor:  www.HumorHeals.com  a site specifically devoted to Confronting Cancer with Humor.

I think an important factor, though, is that the humor is not directed AT anyone else.  We laugh at ourselves, our foibles and frailties and shortcomings.  Coming to terms with our personal brushes with death, disaster, pain, our attempts to stand in the face of adversity , of the unknown, the scary stuff. 

I whistle in the dark, too…

 Rick and I did not walk away from the accident, we were carried away in an ambulance, bruised, bloody and broken.  We are still recovering mentally, physically and emotionally, but we’re not complaining – although we do whine now and again 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits:

Casket  www.freakingnews.com

Horse laughing:    http://www.guzer.com/pictures/laughing_horse_teeth.php

Woman sticking out her tongue:  <p><a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=149″>Image: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

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