Easter Eggs from Home

            This week I found myself sitting in the room where I first learned about Jesus. Where dear old Mrs. Stevens would toddle over to an out of tune upright piano and plunk out Jesus Loves Me and Fishers of Men while we sat on little wooden chairs painted in pastel colors, singing our hearts out and doing the motions to the songs. Where we’d gather at tables and learn Bible stories, pasting cardboard cut-outs of Moses and Abraham onto felt-covered boards. Where at the end of Sunday School, the wooden double doors would open, and our parents would be standing there waiting to take us in to church. (If we were old enough for Sunday School, we were old enough for church and our parents saw to it that we sat there quietly, sang the hymns, and said the prayers. Our boredom or need for entertainment did not factor into the equation.)

            Today that old Sunday School room serves as the church’s office, cluttered with paper and boxes of ink cartridges and smelling of the kerosene burner that helps to keep it warm without running up a high heating bill. I was there to pick up homemade Easter eggs a dedicated crew of parishioners makes every year as a fund-raiser. I buy lots of them in a feeble gesture of support and gratitude to this parish for being my cradle of Episcopalian-ism and in appreciation for the ministry they provide to a community that desperately needs it.

            Sadly, this church, like the town surrounding it, is not so healthy these days. The spirit is there but the outside flesh continues to weaken. The bell tower needs work and the roof should be replaced. The rector is down to part-time and is already serving past retirement age because, well, it’s going to be hard to find someone to take on the job.

St. Paul's columbia

Fifty years ago, this downtown street where the church is located was bustling in the week before Easter. The hardware store sold baby ducks and those awful pastel-colored chicks skittering around under a heat lamp. The women’s clothing stores, of which there were at least four in a two-block area, displayed the latest spring dresses in their windows. Woolworth’s aisles were jammed with Easter candy, and we bought our Hinkle’s egg dye from the owner of the store where it was invented. On Good Friday afternoon, the stores all closed from noon to 3 pm because everyone was in church and of course, no one opened on Sundays except for a few corner grocery stores.

Hinkle's egg dye 2

This once vibrant middle-class community now suffers from the same blight affecting others just like it across the country. Industry moved out taking with it the tax base, so property values plummeted. Homes sell for rock-bottom prices, often to greedy landlords who turn beautiful properties into apartments for low-income rentals. Many of the churches my friends attended are empty shells, their scout meetings and choir practices replaced by food pantries and social service agencies. The poverty rate is staggering, and the school district is bankrupt.

It breaks my heart to drive these streets and see the elderly and infirm shuffling along on the sidewalks. The scared kids on the corner, putting up a menacing front. The worn-down young mothers pushing strollers, while trying to rein in another small child or two. To see so many homes in urgent need of repair, to see what were once thriving businesses shuttered and gone or replaced by thrift stores and other earnest and hopeful start-ups—a coffee shop here, a yoga center there, most of which will probably not survive.

I take those luscious eggs I buy from my childhood parish, place them in pastel cupcake wrappers and donate them to the dinner that the parish I belong to now serves every year on Easter Sunday. As soon as the last note of the postlude sounds, we literally take the Good News we just celebrated in majestic ceremony out into the world. We serve dinner right smack in the middle of Easter Sunday to the hungry, the lonely, to first-responders who can’t be with their families because they’re protecting us—to anyone who needs it.

Easter dinner guests

When I place food in front of our guests, I see the faces of the people in my hometown. I like to think that what helps support the church where I grew up, brightens the day, and lifts the spirits of those we serve in our own parish and that what I learned about Jesus all those years ago in Mrs. Stevens’ Sunday School classes still makes sense in the world I live in now.

Chef GrantEaster dinner 1

 

On Market

I love going to market. Around here, “market” means a weekly gathering of farmers and butchers, bakers and cooks, selling what they themselves grow, harvest, or prepare. In south-central Pennsylvania, we’ve been eating local and doing farm to table long before it was trendy.

I grew up a half block away from our town’s farmer’s market. Every Friday, my mother and I would walk up the alley, each carrying our own basket, to a beautiful old building which in those days, was packed with vendors. We’d often come home with a “market house supper” — maybe a broasted chicken, with a side of homemade macaroni salad or in the summer, fresh corn on the cob and sweet sliced tomatoes grown in the sandy soil of the nearby Susquehanna River. (Yes, corn on the cob can be an entrée, as can strawberry shortcake in early June!) If you wanted fresh meats and cheeses for sandwiches, you got them “on market” since the grocery stores in those days only had plastic-packaged Oscar Mayer. My mother knew the names of all the stand-holders, and market was a hub of information, gossip, and community.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Not much has changed, although sadly, my hometown market is no longer in business. I still enjoy shopping where I can talk to the person who produced the food, where there are rarely cash registers or UPC code scanners. Fruits and vegetables come from nearby orchards and fields so there are no stickers to be scanned. Your purchases are totaled on a scrap of paper, and only in recent years have some vendors started accepting credit cards.

I like knowing that my food dollars are going back into the local economy instead of into the pockets of some giant conglomerate. Few items are encased in plastic or any kind of packaging. You can buy 1 tomato or a bushel if you want. The people behind the counter can tell you the best way to cook their spare ribs or which fish just arrived from Baltimore that morning.

Market is not as convenient as the grocery store. There are no carts. You must bring your own bags or basket. It tends to be crowded and you have to jostle yourself around strollers and people stopping to chat in the middle of the aisle. You come out of market smelling like it – sort of an odd combination of celery and smoked meat and whatever the little café happens to be frying that day. But even that makes you feel as though you’ve been around real food, rather than the sterile, artificially clean atmosphere of the grocery store.

I find myself going to the same vendors for the same things. There is no comparison between the lunchmeat and bacon I buy at my favorite deli stand on market with that found in the grocery store. Whole wheat potato rolls dusted with flour. Homemade sweet pickles. A small lemon sponge pie or an apple dumpling for my husband. (Ok, I’ll admit, I’ll have a slice of the pie, too.) Beautiful sweet lettuces and produce grown from an organic farm that supplies many of the area’s most upscale restaurants. Yesterday, I chose a cucumber there and the lady at the stand said, “Oh, that one’s a little soft at the end. Let me find you a better one.” When’s the last time you heard that in a grocery store?

In our digital world, it still feels good to see the food we plan to consume up close and personal and know that it hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse for a week. It feels good to dig for cash and interact with the person we hand it to. To order our holiday turkey or Easter ham from a human being instead of a computer. To know that juicy strawberry we’re biting into was picked the evening before.  To see the next generation take over the same stand from their parents and grandparents.

Market house supper

We’re having market house supper tonight. Grilled sirloin burgers, probably the last roasted butternut squash of the season, coleslaw better than I can make myself. Possibly a sliver of lemon sponge pie for dessert. No Blue Apron or Black Tie or whatever they call it box of pre-fab, pre-measured, miso-glazed salmon on a bed of quinoa delivered to my doorstep can touch that meal.

See you on market.

York central market 4 (2)

 

 

Old Stuff

I’ve recently been working on a piece for a themed issue about “keepsakes” for an online publication. (My goal is to be published there someday but it’s a stretch for a writer without an MFA degree or a lot of publishing credits. I keep trying…) Their focus was that because so much of what we do now is digital, we no longer keep things like ticket stubs and newspaper clippings as physical reminders of the events of our lives

I wrote about a beautiful nativity set that my grandmother painted years ago which is one of my most treasured possessions, and it made me think about articles you read now about how the generations coming after us baby-boomers don’t want our stuff. It’s all passé and dated so please schlep it all to the auction house or Goodwill before you pass away, so we don’t have to be bothered with it. Just not cool, mom and dad.

I can remember when my parents cleaned out my grandparents’ home. I was a senior in college, obsessed with an upcoming wedding and a new teaching job and happily removed from the whole process. I was in that “I’m a hip young adult now, buying my own things for my first apartment and who wants all that old crap?” phase. I’m sure this is common to every generation but now we post about it online so it’s an ISSUE.

I’m not talking about the piles of ancient magazines and moth-eaten old clothing. I am all for getting rid of useless debris. (My husband can attest to this.) I’m talking about objects that connect us to those who are no longer with us–whether it’s a beautiful picture or a handmade scarf or even some simple kitchen utensil that we remember using with a parent or grandparent. In those items, we hear our loved one’s voices, we smell pipe smoke on our father’s wool jacket, we remember family members eating and drinking from the plates and glasses that now grace our own holiday tables.

As I age, I experience an increasing need to wrap my arms around the tangible evidence that people I loved once existed, as memories of their physical presence gradually recede. The boxes of family slides buried on a closet shelf. An odd-looking plant from my grandparents’ den that is still alive in our sunroom forty-plus years later. The ceramic pitchers my grandmother painted that hold my kitchen utensils. Two Books of Common Prayer, covered in nubby leather, one inscribed on my dad’s 1937 confirmation day and one carried by mother in her wedding in 1955, resting in my nightstand drawer.

 prayer books

I pull out those slides occasionally when I’m working on a piece of writing to help me illuminate my story, to get the details right about small-town life in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. I use the tools in my grandmother’s ceramic pitchers every day and I think of her in her own kitchen. She was a great talker and often got so busy talking (and sipping her scotch and soda) that she invariably burned something. But no one made better fried tomatoes in a cast-iron skillet or the most decadent almond cake with bitter chocolate drizzle. Those old prayer books with their tissue thin pages embossed in gold, filled with the language of 1928 when they were published, represent my heritage as a dyed-in-the-wool cradle Episcopalian.

I remember my grandmother used to say, “You’re not going to have us forever, you know.” When we’re young, we don’t appreciate the impact of that statement. I know I didn’t. So my message to the next generation or two is this–don’t be in such a hurry to disparage the worldly goods of your parents. Granted, most of the possessions we so fiercely cling to in our lives are just plain stuff, easily replaceable. But choose carefully, when you start the overwhelming job of cleaning out the homes of parents and grandparents. If you come across something in which you hear your mother’s voice or that takes you back to a wonderful time in your childhood, hold it fast, don’t stuff it into that trash bag headed for rummage sale. There will come a time when you will cherish it, perhaps far more than you do right now.  If you can taste the almond cake or hear your dad reading those Edward Lear limericks to you as a bedtime story, find a place for that recipe or that worn old book in your life. Those are the sparks which light our memories, tell us where we’ve been and who we are now, and like the people who once owned them, their very presence brings us joy.

Edward Lear 3

 

Flowers at the Salon

It’s just a small salon located at the rear of a non-descript building along a busy commercial highway. Inside there are only two chairs, and it’s warm and inviting, painted in soothing muted colors, and decorated with interesting artwork. Comfortable and cozy, rather than big city slick. I’ve been coming here for so long that I think of the two women who own the shop as friends, rather than professionals who style my hair.

When I walked in this week and saw several fresh floral arrangements resting on a counter, I thought perhaps there had been a death in one of their families. But that wasn’t the case. Steph received an arrangement from a client simply because it had been a difficult week and her daughter’s school had been closed for several days due to threats of violence. The other bouquet was for an older client who had recently returned to the area after a brief move out of town. A customer who often had appointments at the same time wanted to welcome her home with a surprise bouquet of flowers.

Those flowers reflect the intimate sense of community that exists in a hair salon. The people who color and snip and make us shine a little brighter are also our therapists and ministers. We sit in front of the mirror, vulnerable with dripping hair, and share our lives—our joys and frustrations and heartbreak. Our children grow up and our parents grow old and the mirror reflects a few more lines on our face and a lot more gray in our hair, but our stylists keep us going and send us out into the world looking and feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever is coming at us next. Kind of like church.  

The salon is a great source of information and gossip, (also like church.) Scandal and drama in the schools? A new restaurant or store has opened that’s exceptionally good or bad? The salon is way ahead of social media when it comes to finding out the latest scoop. As we wait for our hair to dry or the color to soak in, we eavesdrop on each other’s conversations. We spread rumors and share ideas and recommend plumbers and house painters and help each other figure out ways to cope—whether it’s with a bad back or a bad landscaping job. No online presence can replace the human connection of someone looking at us and saying, “I had the same problem and let me tell you what I did about it.”

Our stylists, like our pastors, are there for us in the good times and the bad. They are there for homecoming and prom and wedding hair. Lisa met me at the shop before hours on the morning of my father’s funeral so that my hair looked good. It was one less thing I had to deal with on one of the most difficult days of my life. When I had major back surgery and worried about how long it would be until I could get a haircut, she reassured me that she would come to my house and do my hair and that she occasionally does that for clients with health issues. A version of home communion.

These women work their magic on all of us, but they reserve a special grace for their oldest customers. They tenderly wash and style the hair of ladies for whom a trip to the salon is an event, a big trip out. Fridays are often “blue haze” days when elderly clients come in to be permed and colored and sprayed, many times in the same style they’ve worn all their lives. Having their hair done makes them feel connected to the young women they once were, even though their aging bodies may betray them.

I was still there when the customer came in who received the anonymous flowers. She spoke with sad resignation about moving into a small apartment in a local retirement facility. I got a sense that she felt defeated and that she knew this move would probably be her last. When her appointment was over, Lisa presented her with the flowers and said they were a gift from another client who wanted to welcome her back and hoped they would see each other again soon at the salon. At first, the woman’s face lit up with a delighted smile, but then she worried about how she would carry them home in her car without spilling them. Lisa and another customer walked with her down the ramp from the shop, helped her into her car and securely tucked the flowers on the floor of the backseat.

I hope those blooms brighten her days at least until next week, when she comes back to the salon.

flowers at the Lisa's (2)

 

System Malfunction

It’s a balmy spring-like day, and I just came back from a walk. I needed to process the scenes from Florida. Once again, we’re shown footage of students filing out of a school with their hands up or on each other’s shoulders. An army of emergency vehicles and school buses parked helter-skelter around the campus. Frantic parents behind crime scene tape. Swat teams in riot gear. And then I keep imagining what the media mercifully doesn’t show you. A mother rocking in a fetal position in her teenaged son’s room, clutching his soccer jersey. Or the spouse of a murdered teacher, catatonic with grief, sitting at the kitchen table where she ate breakfast with her husband that morning.

This hits so close to home for those of us who spent our professional lives inside a public school. We know what a February afternoon feels like, right before the dismissal bell rings. Late winter is the armpit of the school year; the shine has long worn off, winter sports are over, spring sports haven’t started yet, standardized tests and final projects loom and June is barely visible on the horizon. The natives tend to be a little restless. I remember instances of fire alarms going off at the end of the day, occasionally pulled by a bored student, but more often accompanied by an announcement “Please disregard. There is a system malfunction.” Indeed.

We have a long history of violence in this country. The wars, including the one we fought with each other, the bloodshed in the western frontier, the gangsters and organized crime of the 1920’s, the bitter strife of race riots and now drug wars–it’s all horrible, but it’s the sad nature of the human beast.  I don’t condone any of it but at least there is some sort of ugly agenda. I will shoot you because you own slaves, or you didn’t pay your drug bill, or I want the land that belongs to you. What I cannot get my head around is the slaughter of innocent people for no apparent reason other than the shooter is hurt and angry or carries some stain that can only be washed clean by the blood of strangers.

I was bullied in school as I suspect most of us were, to some degree.  Whether we were too fat or too skinny, didn’t make the football team or cheerleading squad, were too bright or too slow, or maybe our family was poor and our clothes smelled bad—it didn’t matter. We’ve all sustained injury from grenades of pain hurled by our peers and most of us have probably thrown a few of our own.

I can remember a fourth-grade classmate who was vilified by the teacher every single day. Whatever went wrong, it was his fault, and he would just lower his eyes and take it when she lit into him. Looking back, that teacher should have been yanked from the classroom, but she was one of the revered grand dames of our elementary school and no one dared criticize her. The young man eventually graduated, shows up at class reunions happily married and successful, and to my knowledge, has never shot anyone with a high-powered rifle because he was treated like a pariah in fourth grade.

What’s different now? Is it because social media allows us no escape? Back in the day, we could at least go home and close our door and cry or scream or play loud music or do whatever we needed to soothe ourselves without seeing continued taunts and ridicule on the electronic device we’re connected to 24 hours a day. Or is it that we no longer have the resilience to accept that life can be bitterly cruel and terrible things happen to us that are not our fault and are therefore entitled to take out our frustration on others we perceive as more fortunate? Or is it simply because it’s harder for some of us to find a support system? Whether it’s within our own family or a church or an organization—we all need a place to go where someone will wrap their arms around us and say it’s going to be ok. If we’re out there flailing for too long, we’ll grab onto any lifeline we can find, even if it’s extended by the hand of evil.

It appears there is nothing we can do about slaughtering the innocent except voice platitudes, wring our hands, and wait for it to happen again. When we dare raise our voices in question or protest, we are like gnats smashed against the windshield of this giant stinking leviathan of corruption that purports to be our federal government. Someone told me recently that when he sent an email to his congressman, he got an automated response informing him that the site was no longer being monitored. Not even a “Duly noted. Thank you for sharing your concern.” No, this was “Sorry, but we can’t be bothered with your petty email because we are too busy pandering to political action committees and special interest groups and whoever else will guarantee us lots of money for re-election.”

I have been blessed to live a life of comfort and ease and although I faithfully vote in every election, I have never been terribly political. This sixty-year old moderately liberal retired school teacher is angry and frustrated about what is happening, but I feel helpless. The message is loud and clear that I can send all the emails and make all the phone calls I want, and it will do no good whatsoever. Dying children don’t stand a chance against big money and big power.

I was still teaching when we started code red drills after Columbine. We’d hear the announcement over the intercom, and I would close the blinds, lock the doors, and turn off the lights. My students would put down their instruments and we’d all crowd behind my desk, in awkwardly close proximity, away from view of the windows. The kids would snicker and whisper, and I would admonish them to be quiet, that this was serious, and we’d wait patiently for the all clear announcement. At the time it seemed silly and contrived, and we’d roll our eyes at the idea of a boogie-man coming down the hall to get us. And then at a neighboring rural school district in April 2003, a middle school student walked into the cafeteria and shot his principal dead in front of hundreds of his classmates.

Fifteen years later, we are still slaughtering the innocent. The system continues to malfunction.

 

Please Remain Seated

When we were cleaning out closets last week, we opened a box and found an old yellowed program from an “Alumni Revue” presented at what was then West Chester State Teachers’ College, dated May 22, 1943. My mother-in-law was one of the student soloists performing piano selections by Liszt and Chopin. A typical Saturday afternoon recital where I suspect the attendees were dressed in suits and ties and proper dresses and hats. Across the bottom is written, “NOTICE: If the Air Raid signal is sounded during the program, please REMAIN SEATED.”

I simply cannot imagine what it must have been like living at a time when you didn’t know if or when an air raid siren was going to sound. To have black-out curtains hanging in your windows. To have civilians manning towers along the nearby mid-Atlantic coast, searching for submarines. No cell phone warnings, no break-ins of network programming or that ominous fanfare NBC plays which makes you immediately drop what you’re doing and race over to the TV to find out where the latest catastrophe has occurred. No, just a simple “Please remain seated” and we’ll tell you what to do if we’re about to be bombed. Otherwise, enjoy the concert. Matter of fact. Fiercely calm. In today’s vernacular, “We’ve got this.”

lookout tower

We also discovered an album of pictures of my father-in-law’s war days. Blurry black and white shots of him squinting into the sun wearing a safari hat with his uniform, taken while he was stationed in Egypt, the pyramids visible in the background. He was trained as a meteorologist, so he never saw combat, but like so many of his peers, was a long way from his family’s farm.

Brian's dad safari hat (2)

Most of us have not lived with the threat of enemy aggression on our own soil. The wars of recent generations have been fought on the other side of the world. Korea and Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan—bloody horrors in far-away jungles and deserts but not on our doorstep. No Pearl Harbors. No war bonds and rationing and air raid warnings on concert programs.

But that program and collection of faded pictures unexpectedly discovered on a mid-winter afternoon gave us a glimpse into what was the everyday reality for our parents and grandparents. A father in uniform standing in front of the pyramids.  A mother blissfully playing her Chopin etude while someone scans the skies over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania looking for German Luftwaffe to appear on the horizon. Powerful reminders of just how spoiled we are, how comfortable and secure a life we are privileged to live, thanks to the sacrifices of those who came before us.

In “Darkest Hour,” the current movie about Winston Churchill, there is a scene where Churchill rides the Underground in London and asks the commoners on the train to help him decide whether to fight or negotiate with Hitler at the onset of World War II. The passengers, astonished at seeing their prime minister riding public transportation, jump up from their seats, and respond with a vehement yes, that they are willing to fight and sacrifice and do whatever it takes. The movie makes me wonder, even these almost 80 years later, where we would be today if men like Churchill hadn’t taken a stand and the rest of us hadn’t set aside our differences and joined forces to support those leaders, who despite their imperfections, were men of integrity and vision. Who agonized over doing what was best for their country.

Churchill

God forbid, we should ever be threatened again because I worry about how we would respond. We are so busy clamoring for attention for our own agendas, so focused on “me, too” in the general sense that we’ve lost touch with “us”. The cacophony of our voices is so loud we can’t hear each other. I doubt that it would be prudent for any of our current world leaders to escape their security team and hop on public transportation to chat with the masses, but if one of them did, I am afraid we would remain seated, headphones in our ears, eyes glued to our phones, oblivious to what is happening around us.

 

Remodeling

A toilet has taken up residence in our guest room for the last three weeks. The steps and second floor carpet are covered with plastic which the cat loves to prowl around on at night–crinkle, crinkle at 4 AM. Cardboard boxes filled with bottles of shower gel and shampoo, along with pictures and stacks of towels are piled on various beds. Our windows have been stripped of their curtains and wall switches stand naked without face plates awaiting the application of a new coat of paint.

We are remodeling our master bathroom, repainting rooms, and installing new carpet on most of our second floor. I know just the word “remodel” is enough to strike fear in the hearts of many. We’ve all heard the horror stories. Weeks of cooking in a microwave perched on a coffee table. Faucets that don’t fit the new sinks. Needed items delayed because of a dock-workers strike somewhere in the world. A new countertop just a centimeter too short. Supporting walls that don’t support. But this hasn’t been horrible. A little inconvenient, yes, but surprisingly painless. We’re not quite finished yet, so I hope I’m not tempting fate.

bathroom workspace

We built our home twenty years ago, and for the most part, it has served us well. Unlike some of our friends who are starting to use the “D” word, down-sizing, we’re not there yet. Good Lord willing, we plan to stay here for a while and have discovered that things which were all the rage when we built the house are maybe not so practical in the long run. Like the giant corner spa tub that we’ve used once in the last five years. (Not to mention having to stand on top of said tub to open the bathroom windows.)

So, we decided to lose the tub and splurge on a bigger tiled shower. Of course, once you start a project, Pandora’s box opens and beguiles you with “Well, maybe you should replace the carpet while you’re doing this and since the painter’s here, let him do the guest bathroom, too.” I will own these words, reinforcing the notion that I taught my husband how to spend money.

Every morning, at 7 AM, the foreman and his crew arrive at our door, work steadily without so much as a lunch break, and leave at 5 PM. They are efficient, professional, and utterly amazing. I have no mechanical skills whatsoever. None. I can tell the difference between a Phillips-head and a regular screwdriver and I know righty-tighty, lefty-loosey and that’s about as far as it goes. What these gentlemen can do, almost effortlessly, boggles my mind.

shower

No one scratches their head and says, “Uh, I don’t know. Let me call someone and see if they can figure out what to do about this.” I doubt there are any remodeling problems that the foreman has not seen or does not know how to address. The man who laid the shower tile was truly an artist. The electrician said the original lights we picked wouldn’t work but he had some we liked just as much that would. The carpenter had to do some tricky finagling of the cabinetry, because the walls weren’t quite plumb, and it took some shims here and sanding there.

It is a privilege to be around people who model excellence and take pride in what they do. While it seems like we’re always complaining about being ripped off or being on the receiving end of shoddy workmanship and granted, much of that complaining is legitimate, it gives me hope to see that not everyone is on that page. That there are still folks who believe in an honest day’s work and in treating clients with respect and consideration. That impeccable craftsmanship is still alive and well. That it’s not always about money and greed and how much I can make with as little effort as possible.  

I am humbled and grateful to have had these workmen in my home to create a new space for us to enjoy. I have nothing but the highest respect for those who plaster walls and painstakingly arrange tiles and figure out a way for the towel racks to fit beside the mirrors. We’re thrilled with what these talented individuals have accomplished in a relatively short time. They, like the millions who bring their skills to the construction trade or the hospital or the restaurant kitchen, don’t get nearly the credit they deserve.

But I will be glad when this is all finished, so I don’t have to rummage through boxes to find shampoo and aspirin. I will be glad to say good riddance to that trampled down 20-year-old builders’ grade carpet that has sustained the abuse of four dogs and two cats. I can’t wait to use my fancy new bathroom and not be stepping on cat litter scattered on the floor in the middle of the night. It will be great to see the lovely Sherwin Williams’ “Oyster Bay” covering the denim blue and taupe walls I’ve woken up to for the last 15 years. And it will be wonderful to have the toilet back where it belongs.

bathroom vanity (2)