Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer Transition

There's always a bit of lag time between the end of school and the start of summer: time when we haven't quite figured out the new rhythms. Time when some of us feel more edgy/less comfortable/not relaxed. Yesterday, 10 days into summer, it started to feel like we were finally reaching the new summer equilibrium. I do think it takes that long.

I often heard people in Germany say that you should never go on vacation for less than two weeks, because it takes at least one week to stop thinking about work. We don't think that way AT ALL here in the US, but I do believe there's some truth to it. Three day vacations are pretty much the worst: you spend all the time anxious and prepping (prepping to leave, anxious to be in a new situation, and prepping to return) and no time relaxing. Ironically, we've actually codified this miserable experience with wisdom like: Fish and visitors stink after three days (credit Benjamin Franklin). No wonder we have an epidemic of ADHD here in the United States; we're culturally way too quick to change course when things feel slightly uncomfortable. We can't make it through the transition to the enjoyable part. We give up – while quoting our efficient founding father – even when it comes to vacation.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Resonation

Summer vacation for the kids has started and I've been making a list of things I'd like to do this summer:

1) Learn Revit, the omnipresent architecture software. I'm hoping to accomplish about 60 hours of training with tutorials. I think this is a drop in the bucket on learning the software, but everyone has to start somewhere, so here's to hoping the drops result in some waves...

2) Manage my smart phone better: as in, let it go! I think I'll a) NOT carry it with me and b) only check it 2-3 times a day. My Achilles heel is not social media, but the news app. I need to stop reading the news app. Also, the kids are better behaved when my phone is put away.

3) Have more fresh produce ready for snacking and eat it. Sometimes I've been really good at always having freshly prepped fruits and vegetables on hand. Sometimes I've been really good at ignoring all the produce I bought until it rots in the fridge. This summer, I'd like to make sure that I always have some fresh produce ready to eat. And I'd like us to eat it before it goes bad. Most importantly, the kids eat things better when they are ready to eat: peeled and chopped cucumbers, peeled and sliced apples, peeled carrot sticks, sliced peppers, chopped celery, etc.

4) Change the conversation. I need to have fewer negative conversations. When I lived in Germany 10 years ago, I felt like Germans had a lot of negative, depressing conversations. It was draining. I decided Germans were pessimistic. But these days, I find myself feeling the same way about most of my conversations with fellow Americans. The conversations are dark and ominous and hopeless. I have some theories on if-something/what-has changed. Whatever the culprit, whatever the theory, the important thing right now, is that I do what I can to change the conversations around me. Instead of being negative and reactive, I have to choose to be positive and proactive.

Now I better hit publish so that I can be held (a bit) accountable to my list.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Basement Bedroom

Trixie and I finished the basement bedroom last week. Mostly, it's pieced together from various hand-me-down/secondhand pieces of furniture and some Ikea. There is one detail, however, that I am rather proud of: the curtains.

I'm not a big fan of curtains as window coverings. But I had this idea that maybe I could use curtains to balance the asymmetry of the room and hanging the curtains themselves asymmetrically! In the photo below, you can barely see that the ceiling is lower above the dresser. There's a duct running in this soffit. The basic idea was to balance the ceiling soffit on the right of the bed with the grey curtain on the left of the bed. The bed stays centered on the window. And the room feels balanced, even though it's not symmetrical around the bed. A-ha! I think it works!

This is the pink wall: all finished. Okay, fine, it's not so bad, I guess. It works with my grandmother's refinished antique mirror and chair.

The chair was stored in my grandmother's basement when she passed away - a sign, I believe, that she didn't like it very much. On close inspection, I can tell the back of this chair was handmade. I'm guessing she designed it herself. Odds are my grandfather or great uncle jig-sawed it out of wood for her. I can imagine that she thought her self-designed chair back didn't live up to her other antiques. But I must say, I find it really wonderful and even more special because (I suspect) it was her own design.