Archive | April 10, 2015

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: I is for Islands.

The Meme Master Post

I is for Islands.

The first thing that always comes to mind about islands is the Thousand Islands. According to Wikipedia, “the Thousand Islands constitute an archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario.” For me, they were a common vacation spot for our family (enough of a drive to be “away,” not so far to be onerous) – and the site of one of my strong memories of getting lost as a child.

We usually camped on Wellesley Island (State Park) for at least part of the trip, and, being a state park on an island in the early 80’s, I was allowed to pretty much wander as I would.

I don’t remember exactly what happened, except that I had been very certain that I knew my way around, and it turned out I wasn’t quite right. I remember that two Older Girls (My mind fills in teased hair – this was the 80’s – but I think that’s just my generic mental picture for Older Girls) – were helping me try to find my mom. But I wasn’t really bothered. Mom, on the other hand, was frantic.

I have only two or three memories of getting really lost in public places, but to this day, I get a little freaked out if I lose my mom – or whoever I’m with, husband, friend, group – in a store.

Which is nothing to the time on a Wellesley Island beach that some awful kid threw rocks at my head, but that, as they say, is a story for another time. For this time, as we are talking about Islands and not awful kids, I’ll say that if you’re ever in the area, you should check out Boldt Castle on Heart Island. It’s a lovely place, although the last time I was there was twenty years past. George Boldt started the castle for his wife, but construction stopped – in 1904 – when his wife died. In the years I was visiting the 1000 islands, the castle was being slowly restored. I don’t know what has happened since, though the wiki article says renovation has continued.

Many of my warmer background childhood & teen memories center on these two of the Thousand Islands. A googlemaps look up tells me they’re less than four hours from my home now – maybe I should visit again.

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A Door in the Wall, a beginning of a fanfic of Narnia and ???

warning: small cliffhanger.

Susan Pevensie had been tempted, when she found the secret doorway in her room, to keep it to herself.

The four of them were staying at a house in the country for summer and, while it wasn’t nearly as nice or as large as the place where once they had found a world in a wardrobe, it was solid, and old, and full of strange passageways where there shouldn’t have been any – including in the room Susan had been given, just behind the mirror.

It was quite tempting to sneak through on her own, to see what was behind the door and, for once, have an adventure she didn’t have to share. Lu and Edmund had gotten to go back to Narnia, a tiny part of her brain whispered. However, the more sensible part of her mind suggested that, while there was nothing at all like being a King or Queen in Narnia to be had in the whole world and, yes, Lu and Edmund had gotten one more chance at it, but they were all in the same boat now. And if they were all cut off from Narnia, it would be nothing but cruelty to explore without them.

(In the end, Susan was not only a sensible sort, but, while she had been named fairly Queen Susan the Gentle, she could just as well have been named the Fair.)

And so, despite the door just about staring at her from behind the mirror, despite the feeling of adventure just beckoning her, Susan waited until after dinner, until the adults who were minding them had gone off to play chess and left them, it was assume, to more childish pursuits. Only then did she beckon them all into her room.

“This had better not be about makeup.” Lucy had been nearly unbearable about certain things for the last couple years: Make-up, boys, school-work. It was as if she felt Susan was betraying her. Since Susan was intending nothing of the sort, she had settled for sighing and ignoring Lucy’s outbursts.

This time, however, she found her temper a little pricked. “Of course I wouldn’t want to torment you with anything so vile, Lu. No make-up, no clothing – wear something old and durable, all right?”

“That’s clothing, Susan.”

“But it’s not fashion.” Susan desperately hoped that Lucy outgrew this phase soon. Please? Hurry.”

Something about her voice must have caught their attention. The door could be nothing, of course. But it had been so carefully hidden, so very neatly crafted. If Susan had not dropped a hair-comb behind the mirror, she may have never found it at all.

It was Peter who gave her the strangest looks. “We’ll be right there, Susan,” he assured her. Always the big brother, always the King.

It seemed to take them forever to make their way from their own rooms to Susan’s room. They had to make certain the adults were really ignoring them, of course, and Lucy had actually changed into something old and durable. Susan had taken the time to do the same, putting on an older dress, the one she liked for picnics and other outdoor pursuits. If they were going to be crawling about – for the door only reached to her shoulder – she wanted to be prepared.

“Well?” Edmund looked at Susan impatiently. “What it is? Only there was a book I was going to read tonight…”

Susan felt a sensation like flying coming over her. She found her lips curling into a silly smile, which was quite unlike her. “Oh, Edmund,” she teased. “When did you become so boring?”

“What is it, Susan?” Even Peter sounded a bit impatient now. Susan’s smile grew wider.

With a flourish, she pushed the large mirror aside.

“It’s… a wall, Susan.” Edmund sounded particularly snotty.

“No, not just a wall.” The trigger was on the floor, right where nobody would ever put their foot, but where they might put a hand if they were picking up a hair-comb. Susan leaned on it until the door clicked open. “It’s a doorway.”


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April A-Z Blogging Challenge: H is for Houses

The Meme Master Post

H is for Houses – repairs and whatnot.


Okay, for those of you who don’t know, a few years ago Mr. Thorne & I bought a fix-em-upper house. It’s a farmhouse, 100 years older than either of us, with nary a right angle to be found. I love it. It’s ours, and there’s a lot of our mark to be made.

But that means a lot of work!

This summer’s indoor projects are probably going to include:

* The f**ing foyer, which I started working on two years ago and… didn’t finish. It’s a very small room, maybe 6’x4′, but in that space are three doorways, an open closet, and something weird to be done on just about every wall. I got the walls mudded and painted, which took far more time than you’d imagine.

Left to do is framing in an overhead bin for the “closet,” installing a seat, putting up hooks on the overhead bin, putting molding around the doorways, MAYBE installing a door in one of the doorways (the cats will mind, but right now you can see from the front door into the utility room), and putting in baseboard molding. I also want to maybe put in a corner shelf in one of the corners, and then I need to replace the overhead light with something nicer.

* The bathroom of doom.
Our bathroom is so ugly… (how ugly is it) It’s so ugly, we entered an Ugly bathroom contest and were too ugly to win. The walls are covered in this terrifying 50’s laminate masonite. So’s the ceiling. The shower surround is a contrasting ugly 50’s pattern. he sink’s another bad pattern. And someone tried to clean our toilet (Before we moved in) with an industrial cleaner that left the toilet bowl black. It’s terrifying.
Also, the light fixture is such that a bulb would hit my husband in the head, so we mostly don’t use it.

To do is fixing all of that, including installing a new tub, vanity, toilet, cupboards, and tub surround, light fixture, door, walls, and, eventually, tile. So… everything. Except the shower fixtures, those are fine.

* I also want to replace the overhead kitchen lights this summer.

* And I want to start work on insulating the attic, although that requires deciding exactly what we’re going to do with it in the long run, first.

And those are the house repairs for Summer 2015! I’ll try to blog stuff as we do it; maybe that’ll keep me on track.

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April A-Z Blogging Challenge: G is for Gifts

The Meme Master Post

G is for Gifts, both given and got

When I was a kid, my maternal grandmother gave my mother striped pastel towels for Christmas. My mom responded politely, and I don’t think I noticed until we got home (Because *I* thought they were awesome) and my dad was ribbing Mom. But Mom didn’t like the towels. “Oh. Thank you. Striped towels.”

In our house, it became code for gifts you didn’t really want.

I remember an earlier situation – two, actually. One year, my maternal family gave me a Raggedy Ann doll for Christmas, and then my father’s family gave me a similar Raggedy Ann doll later in the day. I don’t remember /doing/ it, but I clearly remember being teased about throwing the second doll aside, being completely non-interested.

That’s when I learned you weren’t supposed to be less than enthusiastic about any gift.

A later time – Cabbage Patch Doll time, for those who remember the time and theme – my maternal family gave me a knock off Cabbage Patch. I remember being sort of disappointed by it, because the way the face was molded looked like it had a runny nose. But I remember naming it and trying gamely to love it. And then my paternal family gave me a real Cabbage Patch doll, one my father’s step-father had stood in line for – and the woman in that family gave him shit because it was a boy doll. I didn’t care. I loved it.

Quite some time later: we were helping a friend move, a friend who we’d given quite a few years of New Years’ gifts. Among the “discard” piles were at least two of these gifts. Now… some of his gifts had gotten quietly regifted, too. But it still stuck with me as a bit of a slap, even though I know it hadn’t been intended that way.

When I pick out gifts for people, I am always thinking about striped towels and trying, hard, not to be the person giving tone-deaf gifts. When I get gifts, it’s – well, you know, sometimes people do give you striped towels. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know you, sometimes it just doesn’t hit as well as they expected. But you still smile, and you’re still pleased. They tried, after all.

I wonder how much of this Amazon Wish Lists help mitigate, for everyone involved. It always feels a bit like cheating to me – like you couldn’t Know the Right Gift. On the other hand, it means you’re unlikely to be giving striped towels. Unless, you know, you’ve got pastel striped towels on your wish list.

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