Coca-Cola

Anyone who has been to my house knows I’m going with a Coca-Cola themed kitchen. Yes, I’m a guy and I have a theme. Let’s move past that now.

A while back I went antiquing and got some old replica trays, bottle openers, accessories, and a vintage wooden bottle case. Those products are now proudly displayed on my walls. Well, I decided it is time to add some more so I went to E-bay. Found some pretty cool stuff. First are some nifty potholders:

I held on to that bid for 3 days. Then there were 3 minutes left and I got outbid, so I waited until there was 15 seconds left and upped my bid and won them still at a pretty reasonable price.

What I was really excited about was finding a miniature replica set of Coca-Cola bottles and this cool belt buckle. Well, the sad part is I didn’t win either. Both of them got crazy expensive…over $40 I think it was. A little good news is I found the exact same bottle set on the official Coca-Cola store for $25. The belt buckle was a loss though. Maybe one will come up again.


A couple other interesting pieces were some old coaster with the advertising scheme they used in throughout the 30’s-50’s and a sign to advertise Coke for sale. I won both and they’ll nicely supplement the other displays on my wall.


Coca-Cola

Thank You and Update

I wanted to take a second this morning and thank my friends and family. These past couple of weeks have been some of the hardest–if not THE hardest–I’ve ever faced. I have felt everyone’s love and encouragement and prayer in an unexplainable way. God has truly surrounded me with the best relationships and He is truly with me, despite my miserable failings every day.

I know there is not much one can say to help the situation, but I want you to know your presence is enough. I wanted to share a few wonderful examples. Sunday (Easter) I went to church then immediately left for Searcy. The pain was still very fresh. When it was time to come back to Little Rock, I pulled up to my house but could not go in. The silence was deafening in my house. So I walked down to my neighbor (and more importantly…friends) Daniel and Gabe’s house. As I finally came to terms with having to go home I walked back and my friend Zak was in the driveway, waiting for me. He was an answered prayer…to walk into my house with me and just hang out. I told Zak later that he is very much my little brother in all but blood and I mean it. What a tremendous, selfless act!

I pretty much took the week off from work, except going in to teach my labs and be there for a few hours when summer registration opened. Each night, my friends from community group were there for me. Monday was community group and as it concluded I found myself in the same state of fear and sadness about going home. Michael and Rebekah were dropping off a car at the airport for a friend and I rode along. Tuesday, they invited me over for dinner and to watch “24” (a mutually favorite show). Wednesday is always “Lost” night. Thursday my friends Jonathan and Lauren took me out. Throughout the week, I get regular phone calls from friends, family, and pastors (pastors are friends too :D).

By this point, I am working through moments of grief that just kind of hit me. Small acts like getting milk out of the fridge or opening the back door…both of which would cause a great deal of meowing from Scamper as milk was his favorite treat and going out back his favorite play time. But what has been the most difficult is the oppressive silence. I’ve had to have music on constantly and keep my mind occupied with reading or playing video games. Anything…lest my mind immediately wander back to my grief.

Friday I picked up Scamper’s ashes from the vet. He sits in a cherry wood urn now on my bookshelf in my bedroom, with a framed picture in front. Needless to say that was a difficult afternoon. Saturday, I spent half the day creating a picture-framed collage of Scamper and Callie. I went through my album and phone pictures. Some of the best shots were on my old and current phone because that’s the device I had on me when they were doing something fun or cute. Unfortunately, camera phones aren’t the highest quality, but they turned out well enough to frame. It was a very difficult project, especially when I found his baby pictures. It probably took twice as long because I had to stop and cry every time I chose one to include and framed it.

Saturday night I spent with my best friends, but having done that photo project, I was wrecked emotionally. I got to Michael’s a little early and like a true best friend, he could tell I was really missing Scamper. I was able to express to him some of my grief…about the silence. And also about the loss of security I’m feeling. Not that Scamper would have warded off an attacker, but his presence was comforting. And also about my struggle with the fact that I have nothing and no one to go home to anymore. Perhaps my contentment was–at least in part–wrapped up in having Scamper with me, but I have lost that now. It’s a feeling of “what or who do I have anymore?” Yes, I have an amazingly loving mother and family and the best friends anyone could ask for…but I guess the realization of how each of them have someone to go home to and I do not weighs heavy on my heart. I hope to find the contentment I once had; the security of knowing it didn’t bother me. But right now, I just wonder if I will spend the rest of my life alone.

Some people have asked if I will get another pet sooner or later. The only answer I have right now is “I don’t know.” Greg Kelley left a kind voicemail yesterday with the best way I can explain it. He had a dog that he had to put to sleep and has not gotten a pet since because of the single fact that one day we have to say good-bye to them and suffer that pain. That’s exactly my state of mind right now. The saying “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is not a true statement to me right now.

I continue to covet your prayers, your presence, and your love.

Thank You and Update

Scamper

It was the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years, as best I can recall, when my mom took me to get Scamper. It was shortly after my regular visitations to my dad stopped. We went to the pound that day. I remember a wall of kennels full of kittens. I reached in to one and pulled out a black one. Then, a small, cowering, orange fuzzball caught my eye. I set the black one down and picked up the orange one. He had white paws, chest, and mouth, expect for a little “tobacco stain” on his mouth. He scooted up in my arms and put his head against mine and that was all it took. He was mine. He could fit in the palms of my hands that day.

I remember how he got his name. It was my mom’s idea actually. He was playing or searching out things or doing whatever cats do, darting around the place. Mom said, “Look at him scampering about! Scamper!” I loved it. And I have loved him.

The memories flood back in of those early years. Even of silly ones like my 2 year old nephew (who is now in college) throwing Scamper up in the air like a big ball of confetti. He has always been so affectionate. He’d crawl up on me or Mom’s stomach and start kneading it. Then the water works started as he drowned us in drool…an apparent sign of deep affection. A couple years after getting Scamper, Mom brought home a calico cat from a woman who’s child developed allergies. Her name was Beth, which I promptly changed to a more fitting and unique name of Callie. There’s no doubt about it, Scamper was king of the house and they would fight a lot. It didn’t help that Callie was so skittish. She never liked to be held all the years I had her. There were many a night when a cat would appear in the backyard and Scamper would get angry and howl and fluff up. Then for some reason he’d fight Callie. After a few spankings, he knew he would get in trouble for fighting with his sister. When I’d come stalking into the room, he’d shoot off. He loved going out back, which I let them do supervised. Scamper never hissed but a handful of times in his life, usually because he was upset by another cat.

Next to leaving Mom when it was time to go to college, leaving Scamper was one of the hardest things I’ve done. When my mom moved to Searcy my sophomore year, the cats were in an outdoor cage with a dog house while their house was being built. Mom didn’t tell me about it until later, but one night a big storm came through and knocked over their cage. She ran out to them deathly afraid they were gone, but they were in the little house snuggled up together. After Mom had a shop built, they were kept in there. The minute I had my own place after OBU, I had them back with me. It’s been 3-4 years now since I lost Callie to kidney failure. We buried her on Mom’s land.

For more than half my life, I’ve had this friend who has always been there. My source of comfort; my companion; my baby, really. Going on 18 years. A couple of years ago, Scamper developed a pretty serious problem within his colon. Dozens of special foods and one medication after another, we were only able to ever control it enough to give him a good quality of life and enough time to reach the litter box. And that didn’t always happen. His most recent health issues were his kidneys. His eating habits changed and when I took him in, the beginning signs of failure were there. Over the past few months he lost over half his weight. In the past couple weeks, he barely ate, was tired all the time, and just didn’t have the quality I wanted for him.

Last night, I cried myself to sleep as he tossed and turned, never able to get comfortable. At some point in the night, I heard him fall off the bed. He stared at it for a while but didn’t–or couldn’t–jump back up. This morning, I looked at his food bowl…it was the same level it had been for two days. I tried to give him some of his favorite treats and he wouldn’t even consider them. He looked so tired and that is when I knew. I couldn’t keep him like this just because I wanted to hang on to him. It was the single hardest thing I have ever done. My hand shook so that I could barely sign the authorization forms. My mother shielded my eyes from that which I could not bear to watch as I cried so hard I could barely breathe.

I don’t know how it could have been possible to love him more than I did for all these years. But now he is gone and I am at a total loss. It is so surreal to me. I’ve rarely had to deal with the pain of death in my life especially not as an adult, and I don’t know how to do so, other than to try and put it out of my mind. But every place I look, I remember his fun, quirky, loving nature. I just want to hold him again. But I can’t. I want him to rub his cheek against mine. But he won’t. I want to hear that unique hello-meow when I come through the door. But it won’t be there. To have him at the foot of my bed to sleep. But it will just be me tonight. Meowing at the door to go out, walking across my book as I tried to read, not letting me sleep late because he wanted to be fed… With relief, I know he is no longer hurting, that his sicknesses are over…but oh, the pain of losing my best friend is too much.

Please, time, pass quickly and take away the hurt.

Scamper

Kitchen Project Accomplished

When I bought my house in November 2007 (holy crap, has it been that long?), I knew one of my first priorities would be to update the kitchen. The sellers had begun restaining the cabinets and I liked the way they were looking. I asked if they could leave the products they were using so I could continue; they were kind enough to do so.

The counters were probably original to the house. They looked 80’s-style and they had multiple places of knife and water damage. I remember taking a brief visit to Home Depot to price new counters and it was a bit out of my range for just having all the moving expenses.

So fast forward to now. I got a nice tax return getting to itemize for the first time and decided now was the time! Or if you’d like a more noble purpose, I felt like doing my part to stimulate the economy.

So my experience shopping for counters was pretty interesting. I’ll pause here if you want to go back and read that. … Okay, back. In the subsequent weeks, I tweeted a lot about my indecisiveness and experiences. Since I have Twitter update my Facebook status, many supportive friends weighed in. Here are a few of my comments:

  • alright twitterati and facebook friends, tile or Formica kitchen counters? weigh in on pros and cons. (Feb 20th)
  • not only was the plumber not scheduled yesterday after my counter install, now he has a flat tire and *maybe* can get to me today. /sigh (Mar 25th)
  • ok so staining isn’t so bad. a little messy and long periods of waiting…but pretty easy. (Mar 26th)
  • part 1 of staining project completed. this. is gonna take about 4 more days to finish. (Mar 27th)
  • well, poop. no staining today. too cold to have the windows and doors open. 39…brrrr. (Mar 28th)
  • back on cabinet duty…stripper isn’t removing old finish as well today. looks bumpy from the right angle. oh well, not going back now. (Mar 29th)
  • cleaning up from a major project sucks but it’s also good b/c it means I’M DONE! pics to follow. (Apr 3rd)
  • why can i only see the imperfections in the work i did on my cabinets? (Apr 4th)

I did end up going with Formica. And when they called to tell me the counters had arrived, I took up an offer from a friend to help me tear the old cabinets out. As I was working daily, I literally went to Home Depot for supplies every day. Just some little something I didn’t think of.

My friend and neighbor Daniel had a good suggestion of spray painting the hinges when I was telling him I forgot that those would have to be changed out too after purchasing new handles. Great idea and turned out nice!

Let me tell you using chemical stripper is nasty stuff. A drop of that gunk would get on my arm past my gloves and it would BURN! It was sticky, nasty goop. Almost every day for two weeks that is what I did. Strip, sand, stain. Each of those was about a 20 minute chore followed by 3-4 hours of waiting.

Needless to say, this is pretty much the biggest project I’ve ever done. Much thanks to everyone who helped me. Leslie for helping me tear out the old cabinets, Michael and Daniel for helping me re-hang my doors, and Larry for letting me borrow his tiling supplies. Oh forgot to mention that part.

Behind the stove was a sheet of the old laminate. So I tiled over it. Pretty simple job, having been taught to do it by Larry when he helped me with my guest bathroom. Well, like an idiot, I accidentally skipped a line on the directions for the grout. After spreading it, I read “let it dry for 3-4 hours before cleaning.” I took that to mean, leave the grout alone, then wipe it off later. So I had grout spread all over the place and went to a movie. Came back and it was hard as a rock all over the tile. DUH! I missed the line that said “after spreading, wipe off excess with a damp sponge.” So I had to scrape dried grout off and scrub the grout to make it smooth between tiles. /sigh Live and learn.

So here’s what it used to look like:

The "Old" Kitchen

And here’s the new:

My New Kitchen

Cabinets

Tiling

I have this perfectionist problem of only seeing the imperfections and mistakes in what I did. Like the rough spots where I didn’t notice the old finish hadn’t come off. Or the variations in the darkness of the stain across all the cabinets. I know that’s just something I’ll have to get over and hopefully stop focusing on as time goes on. But if I’m really honest with myself, for my first time to do this…it’s not too shabby. 🙂

Kitchen Project Accomplished