Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Home Improvements

Our lives have been busier--and dustier- the past few weeks due to a home repair project that turned out to be much more involved than we expected. We've known for awhile that we had some water damaged concrete in our kitchen ceiling. Some months ago, our upstairs neighbors had their bathroom pipes repaired and we gave it the summer months and then some to make sure the concrete had sufficiently dried before beginning our repair.

I neglected to take a complete "before" picture, but the only sign of trouble lurking underneath our ceiling paint was a foot long crack in the paint. We had a mason come to look at it and it seemed the fix would be fairly straightforward and easy: remove a think layer of the concrete behind the damaged paint, do a little masonry work, and then repaint.

Knowing the mess even simple construction can leave behind, Dear Husband thoughtfully purchased plastic sheets to cover the kitchen walls. I was in the other room when the mason began working, knocking off the damaged concrete. Lots of banging and exclamations from both him and Dear Husband about how the damage was so much worse than they had expected. Not very encouraging.

When the banging ceased, this is the hole, or should I say holes, which were left. 

My kitchen floor:

So, how to patch the hole? The mason said that there wasn't enough surface to hold all the new concrete and that this was the best he could do. As for the method of applying the wet concrete that he was able to: toss it up with his masonry tool, which has the unfortunate effect of splattering wet concrete on the walls, the floor, pretty much everything which wasn't covered. Thankfully it cleans off fairly easily. Still, how to cover the hole--which is now actually looking worse than before. The original fix called for some touch up paint after the mason left, but that would obviously not do the job now.

There appeared to be three options, as the ceiling was still structurally sound. We could properly repair the ceiling, which would involve tearing out the entire ceiling. This would also mean ripping out our kitchen cabinets and counters for the repair, along with evacuating our apartment for about a month. The next option would involve the mason coming everyday for about a month to throw more concrete on the ceiling, attempting to build up layers of concrete which would eventually fill the holes. Dear Husband could tell that that the mason didn't really want that job and it could get very costly, not to mention the mess and inconvenience. Our last options was to settle for a cosmetic fix. Dear Husband pondered this for a few days and creatively decided to try to create a wood facade. 

With no Home Depot, thinly planed wood, or wood working tools available, this was a challenge. Dear Husband found some knotty pine boards and had them planed to under half their thickness. The carpenter who planed them warned that they might split, but thankfully, they held up. Next, a carpenter who works on the hospital grounds where Dear Husband works, helped Dear Husband to further prepare and varnish the wood. He also found two boards of good wood which could be used as supports.

Securing the supports was the hard part, and included a trip to Amman for special hardware.

Once the beams were secure, Dear Husband could begin putting up the pine planks

Dear Husband, using his head to get the job done.

On Sunday after church, we went to a local light store to purchase a new light fixture. We considered this one VERY briefly...

...before deciding on this one.

The rest of the job was pretty straightforward. I helped hold the boards in place with a broomstick  handle held over my head (my small contribution to the project)  while Dear Husband screwed in the screws. Here he is putting in the last screw!

And here's our new, improved ceiling and light fixture. I think we must have the only wood  kitchen ceiling decor in Mafraq!

And here is my cleaned-up kitchen with its eclectic mixture of woods and colors. I love it! And I love the wonderfully creative fix that Dear Husband came up with and worked so hard to accomplish. Many thanks Dear Husband! I so appreciate all you do to make our home comfortable and lovely. Everything is back in order just in time for holiday cooking and baking, not to mention the adult children, who will begin arriving in just over two weeks...

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Pardon Me While I Find My Groove

After a spring and summer filled with family, special events, travel, and relationships, I returned to Jordan in the midst of transition, and not just the usual transition which takes place after being away from home for a couple of months. This was The Big One: Dear Husband and I returned to Jordan without children, without plans for another year of homeschooling.

The last two months months have been good but different. I expected different, but I just didn't know in what ways they would be different.

I expected to be sadder. I have been surprisingly (to me) un-sad. Though I miss Tayta's daily presence in our house, I have been blessed by her daily presence and joyful spirit via Skype, Facebook, and Instagram. (I refer to my first and new smartphone as my baby-monitor. I was kind of proud that I raised four children without the traditional kind, but now I am very dependent on and loving the smart-phone kind). And, Tayta is thriving in her college experience so far. I give thanks to God for her joyful transition to a new location, new relationships, new studies, new challenges, and new experiences.

I expected that Dear Husband and I would need to take some time to become re-oriented to our marriage relationship and to spending more time together, just the two of us, all.the.time. Happily, that took all of about one day. I was encouraged to find that we merged together as a just-the-two-of-us family quite easily and that we both enjoyed spending more time together with no awkward, who's-that-stranger moments. Our 30th Anniversary, celebrated in June, was the most meaningful one so far, and I'm still thinking about all the meaning in it. Better than a second honeymoon. God is good.

I expected to get caught up on a lot of creative projects that I've had on my mind, and some in progress, for years. I expected to read and write more. These things aren't really happening yet and I'm still trying to figure out why. A new friend recently shared about being transition and she mentioned that her her life rhythms have changed and that she is still getting used to that. Yes! That resonated with my. My rhythms have changed and are changing and I'm still in the process of finding my groove. I wonder if it will take a while.

What am I doing?? People ask me this question all the time now, and I pose this question to myself as well. Lots of different things, which I realize may make it more difficult to settle into new rhythms. The one regular endeavor that I've begun is Arabic study. This is is a very humbling undertaking at 50+ years of age, not to mention having lived in the Middle East for 27 years, but I am enjoying it. I'm enjoying more time for relationships outside the home, some with other women, and some with couples as I join with Dear Husband in spending time with others. And, I'm going to bed before midnight. That is a good thing.

And as for my blog: I plan to keep blogging, but perhaps I just need to adjust to my quotidian life a little more before I know how to do that. In the past years I have blogged a lot about my family and home life, and that is what has changed the most--at least as far as everyday life goes. I enjoy keeping in touch with friends and family through my blog, sharing recipes, pictures, etc. and just last week Dear Husband, as he scrolled through past posts, commented that he was really thankful that I had blogged over the years; a lot of memories, a lot to give thanks for.