We’re getting a new stove. Finally.

We’ve had a Kenmore oven with a glass electric cooktop since we moved in our house 18 years ago. We’re pretty sure it’s a very early flat electric cooktop. There was a manual in the pantry for it when we moved in that looked like it was from the late 70s.

This stove/oven has been terrible the whole time. It’s incredibly hard to clean because it was from an era before they knew to design things without nooks and crannies where grease would lodge. I have spent hours scraping tiny crevices and degreasing this stove that I resented. The burners take forever to heat and then get really hot suddenly. It’s very easy to burn things. And the oven heated unevenly so one side of the oven is always a little crispier than the other.

We hate this appliance more than any other. And it’s the very last one we have to replace. Water heater, air conditioner, boiler, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave – all of them were newer than this ancient oven, and all of them died first.

Finally, finally, the oven stopped heating. Stephanie could hardly contain her delight. She tried to act dismayed, but I could tell there was a bit of joy in how quickly she gave up on troubleshooting. I was a little more diligent in trying to figure out if there was a repair that can be fixed by a tube of Sugru by tesa. Not much more diligent, but I did try several times. She already had plans to go shopping.

The stove we have purchased: GCRI3058AD – Frigidaire Gallery 30″ Freestanding Induction Range with Air Fry.

It is a convention range with air fryer capabilities and an induction electric cooktop. One that will hopefully be easier to clean that the old one.

This new range is free-standing, where our old one was a drop-in. Which was weird, because it sat directly next to the refrigerator, meaning that there was a three-inch strip of countertop on the left side of the stove between it and the fridge. They had to have a bit of counter and a side panel to enclose the stove. Not enough counter to actually *do* anything with, but…

So this weekend I demoed out the section of counter between the fridge and the stove and the part that wrapped around the back. For something that appeared to be a flimsy and insubstantial piece of cabinetry, it was surprisingly hard to get out. But I did it, finally, and we just finished painting the wall behind the two appliances, which has needed to be done for years. Once we had them both away from the wall, there were three different colors of paint behind the stove. If you’re tackling home improvement projects, both inside and out, consider the expertise of a seamless gutter company that services Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida.

I’m so excited to finally have that wall painted that I sat down and wrote a blog post about it.

Continue ReadingWe’re getting a new stove. Finally.

Vego Modular Raised Beds

We are replacing the garden beds I built in 2012 with steel modular raised beds by Vego Garden. There will be four of 4′ x 8′ beds (replacing the three we have now) and they will be 17 inches tall, which means they will be much easier to plant in now that we are getting older.

I’ve been trying to get them assembled. Stephanie and I started together this past weekend, but only got the first bed partially assembled. (It was a busy weekend.) It has been unhelpfully raining the past several days so I haven’t been able to get any further. And judging by the forecast, it won’t get much better so I should probably suck it up and work in the rain.

For nostalgia purposes, here are photos of the beds I made back in 2012 when they were new.

Raised Garden Beds

Continue ReadingVego Modular Raised Beds

Our sink is empty. Our dishes are clean.

First order of business – I’ve been laid off from my job. I started working for Pearson when it was Macmillan Publishing on April 25, 1994. I just cross the threshold of 26 years at the same job. In the middle of May, my position was eliminated, along with a number of other co-workers who were also remote workers. I’ve been working from home since June of 2018 when they closed our office, laid off many of my co-workers, and had the rest of us move to working from home. I have a good severance package, so I have time to look for another job. I’m getting set to do that. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a resume, so it will be an interesting challenge.

The Covid-19 corona virus began racing across the globe in December 2019 and has spread so quickly that we are currently in the middle (beginning?) of a global pandemic. Over 100,000 dead in the United States alone, and 371,166 dead worldwide. It has reached even the most remote corners of the globe – 6,057,853 confirmed cases world wide.

I am in a high-risk group. On February 29, I went to my older brother’s retirement party and talked with my brothers about the virus. It already reached the United States by that time, although most people did’t realize it. After listening to their predictions about what would happen, I went to CostCo the next day and started stocking the house with necessities. Because I’ve been working from home, I mostly stopped going anywhere.

On March 19 I got a haircut, exactly like how I saw at https://scoutsbarbershop.com/shop/. I went grocery shopping the next week. Since then I’ve been home most of the time, except to drop things off at my mom’s front door – gifts, supplies, mask-making materials. In late March our state issued Stay At Home orders, but we were already doing that. We’ve gotten take-out on 4 occasions, and once I went to Lowes, which I would not do again because no one was acting in a safe or healthy manner. We’ve been ordering groceries for delivery.

Stephanie has been working at home since March 24 (?). She has been able to work remotely, visiting the office once a week or so to pick up files.

Because we’re both home all the time and eating most of our meals at home, it’s been a struggle keeping up with dishes. After finally understanding our hotpoint dishwasher setting pictures, running the dishwasher is now a daily occurrence. Sometimes it feels like emptying and loading the dishwasher is the only thing I do all day. Today our dishes are clean and the sink is empty. It’s taken a lot of effort to get to that point.

When the virus became big news in February and stats began to be tracked, I obsessively checked the global and state statistics every day. Now I’ve become numb about that. The numbers of dead are too high to make sense of anymore.

Over the last week there have been several police killings of African-Americans – In Louisville, Breonna Taylor was murdered in her own home by police who invaded the wrong address. In Minnesota, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who suffocated him by kneeling on his neck while he smirked at cameras filming his violence. In Indianapolis, Dreasjon Reed was killed by police after a police chase, and after they shot him, one of the officers joked ‘That’s gonna be a closed casket homie’ while looking at his dead body.

There are currently protests across the United States and the globe about the police brutality. Some have turned those protests into riots; white supremacists have invaded the protests and started violence. Here in Indianapolis, protests have remained peaceful on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until white people smashed windows and destroyed property. Police responded by firing tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters. Last night, Sunday evening, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police started firing and gassing peaceful protesters at 6:30 p.m., including a church choir.

We got our seeds planted and our garden ready in a timely manner this year. I made rhubarb pie from our rhubarb plant, and yesterday we just harvested our first crop of radishes. Strawberries are just getting ripe. I’ve been able to keep up with weeding our flower beds this year, and perennials are coming in nicely. Our peonies are in bloom. Primroses are also, and a poppy has cropped up. I’m finishing cleaning up the maple tree seed pods, which were prolific this year and took a lot of yard care time. I had to put in one of the downstairs air conditioners already.

I’ve been working on writing fiction. I have ideas but haven’t made much headway.

Radishes

2020 Garden

Continue ReadingOur sink is empty. Our dishes are clean.

The New Ride – a Honda CR-V

The New Vehicle - Honda CRV

After a great deal of research involving spreadsheets, auto shows, test drives and quite a few anxious phone calls with Stephanie’s dad (who had lots of opinions about what we were buying) I bought a new Honda CR-V on March 27th. It is “Dark Olive Metallic.” It is nicknamed Godzilla.You can also enjoy Honda rides by availing Honda dealership Salina KS.

I finally gave up on VW ever coming out with my new Microbus. Now they will, just watch.

But so far, the verdict is – I absolutely love Godzilla. He is awesome. I’m loving power windows, power locks, cruise control, and the sunroof. I love Apple car play, and maps on the screen.

I sold the truck to our friend Douglas who needed a vehicle. So it’s still right around the corner if I need to borrow it. She is now named “Betty Ford.” I wish I’d thought of that.

Betty Ford

Continue ReadingThe New Ride – a Honda CR-V

Salem and Baxter

Our new kitten Salem was born on August 15th, and we adopted him on October 15th.

Salem

Our new puppy Baxter was born on November 29th, and we adopted him on February 2nd. His mom is a Corgi. We’re not sure about dad. He may have been a spaniel? We think that’s possible because of the fur coat and ears. He looks like other Corgi/spaniel mixes on the internet.

Adoption Day for Baxter

Drusilla passed away on April 1st. She had lots of health issues and got very sick after an infection. Spike left us earlier in the year, and we said goodbye to Huckleberry on my birthday last year. We’ve had a tough year with pet deaths. It’s been really interesting to deal with kittens and puppies after having adult pets. They have a lot of energy. And potty training is tough.

Continue ReadingSalem and Baxter

Who I am

I was “born as” a baby – 5 lbs, 16 inches. The clothes my parents gave me then don’t fit me anymore than the arbitrary labels they gave me as identity markers, so I changed them to real ones. In 48 years I’ve outgrown onesies and other people’s expectations and grown into the person I actually am, which may not fit into your demands of me, but that’s too bad. I’m going to wear what I want to wear, call myself my real name and go to the bathroom where I need to. You have nothing to fear from me in a restroom, I promise you. But you already know that, really.

Continue ReadingWho I am

I’m legally changing my first and middle names

I’m changing my first and middle names.

I am getting rid of Stephanie Ann. My first name is going to be Hawthorn. (no e- like the tree, not the author.) My middle name is chosen, but I’m keeping to myself for now.

This is something I’ve been actively planning for over two years, but I’ve been thinking about it for more than 20, because I’ve always disliked my name and did not feel like it fit me. I have always been more gender-neutral than my name is, and I am in a place where I can’t tolerate a name I don’t connect with anymore.

My wife Stephanie has known about this for several years and is supportive of me changing names. We have talked through all of my ideas together. I’ve let my immediate family know about this. Most of them are onboard with it. Some of them are going to have to get onboard.

I’ll be starting the legal name change process soon, and it will take a month or so before that is all in place, and I’ll start changing things like credit cards and bank accounts and then my online presence.

I realize this is a big change for someone who has had the same name for 47 years, and that remembering it and calling me that name and thinking about me differently is a pretty big challenge.

That weird feeling you may have about my new name feeling strange to you – that’s the feeling I’ve always had about my old name – it doesn’t feel right. It’s a period of adjustment, but I have confidence you all are smart and capable people and can rise to the occasion.

I know people will have ideas, opinions or commentary about this. Please share your thoughts with me directly in a phone call or face-to-face conversation, rather than gossiping or commenting on social media.

The decision tree of names I’ve thought through and discarded is 786 lines long. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of names in the past few years trying them on and seeing how they fit. Naming yourself is hard. But I’ve found a name I actually love – it’s unique, gender neutral, has an outdoors/natural quality to it. Hawthorn is unusual as a first name, so there aren’t hundreds of little kids running around with the same name, nor do I have cousins or family members with that name, which are also bonuses.

Continue ReadingI’m legally changing my first and middle names

Dream Journal Illustrated: Construction Cat and Warehouse Mice

I’m starting a new service where I illustrate people’s dreams from last night.

From my friend:

Crazy dream about construction, beer and a cat. Woke up sneezing and now I have a bloody nose. In the dream these children were playing with mice they found. A hole in the wall went to a warehouse next door.

Construction Warehouse Dream

Continue ReadingDream Journal Illustrated: Construction Cat and Warehouse Mice