Monday, July 18, 2011

A Tribute

Many of you have expressed condolences on the loss of my grandmother; for your kind words, I am grateful.  Honestly, she was probably the most domesticated woman I've ever known. She taught me SO much, and I know she would get a kick out of this blog. If I could ever get her on the internet and show her how to get to it and read it!

The following is what I shared at her memorial service this past weekend. Thought some of you would enjoy reading it!

When I think of Grandma, I immediately think of her smile. Especially as I've been going through all of her old photos, I realize even more that her smile was really a constant. She had a lot to smile about! Likewise, there was a lot no one would blame her for not smiling over. But still, she smiled.

I remember her smile as she taught me how to swim. I was a chubby, awkward kid, and somehow she coaxed a great swimmer out of me, there in the community pool at Country Villa Estates, always with a crowd of exuberant retirees to cheer me on...or point out the "No Running, No Diving, No Splashing" or the other.

Bike riding, acorn hunting, fruit picking, plant watering, dinner cooking, video renting, ice cream dipping, My-Little-Pony playing, cartoon watching...Grandma smiled.

I remember that the first and only time I ever stole anything was actually from Grandma: a pack of Post-It notes and a blue ink pen. I had been using them while I was spending the night there with her and Grandpa, so when mom came to take me home, I added them to my bag of 6-year-old mind not really thinking much of it. But mom was mortified. She called Grandma and told her we were coming back, and I was forced to apologize for stealing. Then it was ME who was mortified! But I did it. And Grandma smiled.

The ONE time I remember Grandma NOT smiling was on a particular weekend that Brittany and I stayed the night with her...right after they had brand new carpet installed. Grandma had "overfed" us dinner, and then proceeded on to insist on vanilla ice cream covered in fresh strawberries. I did as well as a 9-year-old could to explain that if Brittany ate too much, she WOULD throw up, and if Grandma kept making her eat, it wouldn't be pretty at all. Grandma smiled, and handed over heaping bowls of the dessert. Brittany threw up. On the brand new carpet. Grandma DIDN'T smile.

There was a lot no one would blame her for not smiling over. All through Grandpa's illness, and when he died, and the hard time of adjustment afterwards, she simply pulled her family close and smiled.

When we moved her to Savannah Court...well...she didn't like losing her independence. And she made that very clear. Multiple times! But still...she smiled.

Early on, when I would come to see her here, she would pepper me with questions about college, work, what the future held. And she smiled.

As time passed, there were not nearly as many questions. But there were long, comfy cuddles on the couch, while we looked through album after album. And she smiled. Especially when she saw Grandpa's photo. Oh, how she smiled!

Even later on, as life began to take its toll on her body, and she needed help to do almost anything, still, as you walked into the room and she turned her attention on you, well, she might not know exactly who you were...but that smile. That smile lit up the room.

The first and only time Grandma ever met Jerrod was when we took her a Christmas present. It was one of our engagement pictures, framed and ready for her "picture shelf". She held it in her hands, studying it, and she looked at me with a question in her eyes. She never spoke, but all I had to do was show her my ring...and the smile that came over her face...I'll NEVER forget that smile.

I didn't see her at the very end. Mom asked me not to go, and her words were, "She can't even smile anymore. You don't want to remember her like this."

Mom was right. I didn't go. And I have no regrets about that. Because it was only for a little while that she didn't smile.

In that moment where Grandma was reunited with Grandpa, and they took the first stroll hand-in-hand that they had taken in 14 years, and she didn't have to simply gaze, lovingly touch and kiss a photo of him anymore...can you imagine the smile?

I can. She'll be the first person in heaven I look for. Maybe her body will be different, maybe she won't look quite the same to me. But I'll know her. I'll know her by her smile.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ahhh, the Finer Thing in Life - The Automatic Soap Dispenser

Someone purchased an automatic soap dispenser for us as a wedding gift.  Now, I had indeed seen the automatic soap dispensers while we were registering at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but it seemed to me one of those items that, if it was placed on a registry, would cause a great deal of amusement among gift-givers.  (Especially those who know what a germ-o-phob I am.)  So I left that off...but thought it was an intriguing idea, nonetheless.

When we opened said automatic soap dispenser, I was quite enthusiastic!  Someone had read my mind!  Designed for touch-free operation, which helps prevent the spread of germs, this dispenser autotmatically senses your hand and releases soap!  (Or lotion...but who needs an automatic lotion dispenser?  Ours is used for soap.)

You may say, "Who needs an automatic soap dispenser?"  I sumbit that EVERYONE does!

Ours is in the kitchen, which happens to be the room in my house that I probably spend the most time in.  I previously had a lovely pump bottle of Bath & Body Works soap in the kitchen for quick and easy hand-cleaning, next to the bottle of Sun used for quick dish scrubbing.  However, away went the Bath & Body Works soap to make room for this lovely new dispenser.

When the thing really comes in handy is when I've been patting out hamburgers (which at our house is normally raw meat infused with strawberry jalepeno sauce), or rolling and flattening balls of peanut butter cookie dough, or even slicing onions or raw chicken.  The last thing I want to do when my bare hands are covered in mess is try to pump some soap out with my elbow.  In fact, I have previously shot the pump soap across the sink and into a pot of boiling water when trying to pump with my elbow.  But that's another story for another day, my friends.

Now, all I do is wave my hand over the sensor, and the perfect amount of soap is smoothly dispensed into my filthy palm.  I can easily flick on the water via elbow, and presto zamo!  Clean hands in seconds, with no harsh side effects...or pots of boiled soap.

As much as I do enjoy this automatic soap dispenser, I also must admit that I have to keep an eye on the thing.  I had shut it off the other day in order to wipe it down with a Clorox wipe in the midst of my cleaning, and suddenly, it shot a thick stream of soap out.  My eyes followed it to the floor...the floor that I had JUST cleaned, and I said to myself, "I thought I turned this off?"  I glanced at it, just in time to see that it was indeed off...and to watch another stream of soap coat the front of my microwave.

By the time I had actually opened the cover and yanked out one of the batteries to make the dang thing quit, I was covered in soap, there was soap on the floor, the microwave, the stove, the cabinet, and, oh yes, all in the pan I was about to place a yummy applewood smoked roast in.

Right now I'm back on good terms with the automatic soap dispenser.  I think the benefits outweigh the negatives at this point.  We'll see how long that lasts.  Either way, it's still better than boiled soap for dinner.

Click Here to View/Purchase the Automatic Soap Dispenser!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Shelves

Well, it seems I have already gone awry in keeping this blog updated; my apologies!  I had no idea it was something people were actually seriously reading until I received multiple messages from followers, wondering why I hadn't been posting!

Since my previous post, my grandmother has passed away, and I have also moved on to a new full-time job, so things have not been...well...normal...whatever that is!  Here's to getting back to my own kind of normal.  Hmmm..."My Own Kind of Normal."  That sounds like a good post for another day!

However, in this particular post, I'd like to blog about shelves.  You know...shelves.  You can build them or buy them ready-made.  You hang them on the wall or set them in the corner to show off your displayables.  Maybe you even install them in your closet for more organization.  Good ol' shelves.

Ever since we moved to our new place, my husband and I have been agonizing over what to do with the large, blank wall above the TV in our living room.  Well...maybe not agonzing.  But it has been the topic of quite a few conversations.

Here's the deal:  we have a lovely espresso-finish TV stand with burnished silver hardware, and a TV that sits atop said stand.  (Notice the detail on the TV is a bit more lacking than the detail on the stand.  I don't know what brand the TV's black.  I don't know what size the TV's big...and it's flat.  I certainly don't know if it's high def, LCD, 3D or whatever else is out there now.  It's a TV.  And this is a blog called "The Road to Domestication."  No one reading this really cares about the TV.)

What we care about is the wall above the TV.  The enormous white space that looms above the appliance, so that at every commercial of whatever show I'm viewing, my mind repeatedly asks, "What it in the world am I gonna do on that wall?"

Perhaps a mirror.  No, that would be far too reflective.  I don't want to catch a glimpse of myself getting up from the couch every single day.

A very nice painting.  No, it would be far too difficult to find a painting that wasn't too busy and looked appropriate for the space.  I've searched for the perfect painting before, and I don't care to repeat the experience.

A collage of metal hardware.  (You know, you've seen them, you may even have some.  The black swirly metal ring with the tealight candle holders...)  Visions of setting something on fire enter my mind at this, that won't do, either.

As we explored through Bed, Bath & Beyond last weekend (a fabulous store, by the way) my husband discovered a shelf that seemed to be several shadow boxes connected together - a symmetrical art piece of sorts.  Same espresso finish as the TV stand.

"Here!" he exclaimed.  "This is for above the TV!"

I studied it.

"I think it's too small for that wall, baby..." I eased, trying not to deny the idea...but it really WAS too small for the wall.

"Then let's get two!" he enthused.

Well, that right there just might work.  I eyed, and studied, and stacked the shelves in various formats so I could get a general idea.

"Okay, I like it!  Let's do it!"

The RedBox rental that was planned for the evening was quickly discarded, as my husband's main thought became, "Let's get these shelves put up!"

Back at home, he puts the shelves together in no time, grabs a measuring tape, a pencil, the hardware that came with the shelves, and prepares to hang the long-awaited wall decor.

Only...well...neither my husband nor myself are the handiest folks in the world.  We love the idea of home projects, we really enjoy the television shows about said projects, and we pray for the day when our ideas and plans will actually make sense.

Well, it hasn't happened yet!

The shelves were not hung that evening.  Several pencil marks were left on the wall.  A very long discussion over how a plastic wall anchor should be installed languished well into the evening.  A very frustrated hubby stormed out the door to "take a walk" and "cool off" and "get away from these stupid shelves!!!"  Project = on hold.

The next afternoon, since my admonishing and instructing had gotten me absolutely NOWHERE the night before, I ended up with my Kindle in the bedroom, while listening to various drilling, hammering and muttering/huffing noises coming from the living room.  Again, the shelves were not hung.  Again, an angry storm out the door to "get away from these stupid shelves!!!"  Project = pending.

To be fair, this was not at all an easy project.  If not hung exactly right, the shelves would clearly appear crooked, not to mention having to line them up symmetrically with each other, and the fact that the brackets on the back of the shelves weren't even visible from the front side.  Quite difficult it was indeed.

Before I knew it, my in-laws were on their way to save the day!  I myself went to WalMart for some desperately-needed Garden Center therapy.  By the time I arrived home, the shelves were up!  Fantastic!!!

Today, the shelves look quite nice.  They give quite the flair to the wall, and to the room as a whole.  I'm quite glad we purchased them and someone else to come hang them.

And do you know what my husband is now asking?  "Hey, what are we going to do with the far corner of the living room?  It needs something..."

Oh dear Lord...