Sixty Years in the Making

Turning 60 last month made me feel so old. Inside I still feel like I’m 30 or 40, even if my body says otherwise. My parents seemed so OLD when they turned 60. Do I seem that way to my children and my students? What took the edge off my pain was that everyone came home to celebrate. (Except Josh. The sad part of being a firefighter is all the fun times you miss.) That was an amazing present. There’s nothing better than being with my wonderful family.

But wait! There’s more! I did nothing–they organized a party for 30 of my closest Ventura friends. My children are incredible. I did nothing. They did everything.

Brenna spent long hours baking three cakes: Boston Cream Pie, German Chocolate and Carrot. She is truly a talented cake baker. Yes, I can give you the recipe but it won’t taste like hers. IMG_2034.JPG We discovered Matt’s hidden talent: Charcuterie boards. His were truly a work of art. IMG_2029.jpg

Kelly, Brenna, Molly, and Matt, planned, shopped, arranged, and cleaned. There were dear friends, flowers, good food and grandchildren.

IMG_2032.JPG IMG_2025.jpgThe girls gave a wonderful champagne toast that included stories from their perspective growing up. It was really sweet. Earlier in the week I had been asking Lydia what different animals say. She turned it on me and asked “What does the Grandmarsh say?”

“I don’t know. What DOES the Grandmarsh say?”

“You’re so special.” They ended the toast with that phrase that I say so often.


I was surrounded by all my favorite people who live in town and my family. And the guests brought my favorite present: kind words. Next time can I have the party without the growing old part?

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This Old House Part 5

It rained today. My contractor couldn’t do anything because today was the day he was supposed to drywall, and he couldn’t cut it or transport it in the rain. Additionally, Jim picked up our tile and the tiles were matte finish instead of glossy. It looks like there is soap scum on them. (Perfect for people who don’t want their soap scum to show!)  It will take another two weeks to replace them. Another day. Another step backward.

I’m discouraged about the many problems in the construction, and also discouraged about America. Today was the inauguration. Our country is deeply divided. Trump’s cabinet choices are disturbing to me. In almost every department–education, environment, trade, homeland security, health, housing, banking–I believe differently than his picks for cabinet heads. I am reminded that my citizenship is really in heaven. My American citizenship is temporary, but my heavenly citizenship is eternal. So, while I work to “be the change I want to see in the world” (Ghandi) I also realize that this world is broken and only God can change that.

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This Old House Part 4

The plumber, the contractor and the tub were all at my house at 8 am this morning. It was great. For five minutes. Then it was determined that they couldn’t reach the pipe they needed to access to install the bathtub. That’s why there’s now a hole in our family room wall. Nothing more could possibly go wrong in that one teeny little room, so the damage had to expand to another room. But the tub is now in, so we’re back to where we thought we were two weeks ago. Only now we are more guarded against something going wrong, more realistic and less patient.

Meanwhile in the midst of hard times as a homeowner and as an American, my joy comes from these people, among other things. We have a family hangout online, and several times a day there will be cute pictures, some insightful or funny statement, a story or a video. I just love to hear the little notification sound that to me means family news and family love. MOLLYFAM - 049.jpg

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This Old House Part 3

In the past I’ve had students who are smart and kind, but just can’t seem to get their lives together. Every week it was a new excuse as to why they couldn’t do their work. I’ve often wondered what happened to people like that when they became adults, and I think now I know. The people in the home improvement industry bear a similar resemblance to these past students. During the current project I’ve actually heard excuses like “Our printer is broken.” “Our computer was down.” “It was raining.” “I didn’t have transportation.” “Many of our staff were out sick.” “I accidentally put in the wrong information.” “I forgot to call you back. I’m sorry I left you waiting.” See how they sound like students? At least I know my current students will have a job when they graduate.

Jim bought a new bathtub last night. (Bathtub #2 for those of you keeping score at home.) They delivered it this morning. It was chipped. The one he looked at last night was fine. The one they delivered this morning was unacceptable.  Jim spent most of the day today looking at bathtubs. We had only two requirements: 1) in stock and 2) not broken. He finally found one, but lost half a day of work. They delivered it at 4:00. Too late for the plumber to come. Another day with no forward progress. Grr.

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This Old House Part 2

The bathroom saga continues. When my contractor pulled the bathtub out, there was a weird french drain going underneath. The drain had broken and there was exposed dirt under it. The slab was wet in that area. This meant that a plumber would have to jackhammer out the slab to reach the drain, put in a new drain, fix the leak, and fill the area with new concrete. This happened on a Friday of a holiday weekend, so we couldn’t get a plumber until Tuesday. On Tuesday, the plumber was ready to go at 8 am, but when they unpacked the bathtub, it was cracked on the bottom. We have to take it back and get a new one. And, then reschedule the plumber. Another lost day. It’s been a week and a half with no forward progress.

There is a piece of good news, though. I thought my contractor was saying the PEE trap was broken…meaning toilet matter was leaking. What he meant was the “P trap.” Like this. (Just water.):



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This Old House

When we bought our home it was only a few years old. Now that we’ve lived in it 34 years, it’s an old house, with old house problems. The tract-house construction was awful to start with, even though it was a Gold Medallion All Electric House (Oooh! Ahhh! Fancy!) Over the years we added the upstairs, added a dining room, remodeled the kitchen, torn out two bathrooms, replaced every door (interior doors, front and back doors, garage door), and every window, scraped every ceiling, changed every floor, and fixed plumbing, electrical and cosmetics. This doesn’t even include the yard: building two decks, a retaining wall, a fence, and putting in hardscape with grass and garden areas. Owning a house is a lot of hassle and money. Still, I’m thankful we are able to own our own home.

One of the last frontiers is a small bathroom. My friend who loves decorating (Hi, Kathy!) suggested I buy a new shower curtain. Which led to a sink purchase. (Our other dear friends bought it in Mexico for us! Hi Mike and Kim!)  The project spiraled out of control when the sink didn’t fit in the existing vanity, and it was January and our contractor needed work. So we shopped for a vanity, bathroom tile, flooring, countertop (quartz, maybe?), bathroom fixtures, and a medicine chest. We were so proud of ourselves. We had been able to buy many of the items at great prices at end of year sales, and we were giving someone work. You know what they say about pride…that it goes before a fall.

Every day there’s some bad news. What could possibly go wrong in a room 5 feet by 9 feet? The wiring was a rat’s nest that ran behind the shower faucet and it’s amazing it didn’t electrocute someone. It looked like the ducting had been put in by a seven-year-old. There subterranean termite damage made the wood look like a Jackson Pollock painting. And some of the wood had rotted so badly, only the wood dust was holding up the wall. The plumbing going into the bathroom was rusted out like a can left in the rain. Yesterday my contractor told us we couldn’t keep the bathtub. It had rusted on one side, leaked, and now the wood behind the bathtub is all moldy. Sigh. Of course it is.

Besides the money, hassles, and bad news, there’s the game of “Try to get your contractor to show up.” I love our contractor. I love his detailed perfectionist work. I love his beautiful South African accent. He cleans up after himself well, that most days I come home and am mad he didn’t come, even if he did come. But lots of days he doesn’t show. One day I had left him cookies to take home to his wife and granddaughter. They were still there. Today he didn’t show up. It was raining. “But you work indoors.”

“Right. I’ll be there tomorrow.”

“But what happened today?”

“I didn’t want to track mud in your house.”

“So, every day it rains you aren’t going to come? You put drop cloths from the front door to the bathroom anyway.”

“Well, um, actually, the guy who works for me was on his bike, and couldn’t come in the rain.”

Bingo. The real reason. So frustrating.

The rust hole in the bathtub.

The termite damage on the wood.

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San Diego: Day Five

Today we went to the zoo. We overheard someone say “I was here on the Fourth of July and it wasn’t NEARLY this crowded.” Christmas break. Sunny day after rainy days. It was packed. Lydia had a super great time, so that’s what matters. Awhile back, at the park, she had an aggressive squirrel take her pretzels (and the container) out of her hand. Since then, and perhaps even before that, she’s been fairly frightened of animals. When we arrived here, the house had an aquarium and she was terrified of the fish. Jim has an orangutan puppet stuffed animal (whom she calls “Monkey”) that she’s seen on FaceTime plenty of times, but was terrified of him here in real life. She screams when you try to get her to touch statues of animals. The zoo was great therapy because by the end she asked if she could touch the hippopotamus. She loved seeing the orangutans. They really did look like our Monkey puppet. We wanted to see the pandas, but the line was too long. Later, at home, we asked her what her favorite animals were that she saw. Instantly she replied “The PANDAS!” (The one animal you DIDN’T see. Too sad.)


Breakfast at Mystic Mocha. By the time we arrived they had only gluten free vegan options. Too sad. It’s hard to get nine people moving in the same direction.

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Jim, Kelly, Miriam, Marsh, Brenna, Lydia, Matt, Molly, Josh


Miriam and Kelly


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