Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking it for Granite

OK I now know how to get hits on my blog. Post a picture of a puppy. 

But seriously, lets' get back to talkin' design. What's THE hot surface for countertops and what are the BIG FEARS about natural stone? Let's get the whole picture here. Granite out sells any solid surface hands down. There are other surfaces - Silestone, Cambria, Zodiaq, Caesarstone & more. These surfaces are generally 93% quartz while the percentage remainders are resins that hold the quartz particles together to create a slab. And quartz has its place. The color and pattern are consistent albeit subtle and subdued. Or they can provide a pop of saturated color. They work well in a contemporary space or for someone who is afraid of granite.

WHAT? Afraid of something that Mother Nature made? It happens. Any solid surface is a big investment, making a decision stressful. As soon as you fall in love with granite another one comes along. It's a tough call sometimes. Granite is not perfect. Although sealed prior to fabrication, there are inherent fissures, imperfections, pits, ranges of color, mica deposits and veining.  All the things that came from the earth created over millions of years. Each imperfection is earned, beautiful and unto it's own. It is unique.

As all of us are. Any natural imperfection should be viewed as a rare jewel and celebrated. Freckles, shades of color, personal choices and nuances should be appreciated as an outward expression of the years of inner growth. Not maligned or discredited because it is different from what we know. Choices in design are as difficult as choices in life and should be taken into careful consideration before we chose to bring them into our home. 

We are, after all, not made of stone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Patter of Little Feet

What was I thinking? I had been craving the patter of little feet. Four paws that is. And then an opportunity to go puppy peeping in New Hampshire appeared.  A gorgeous ride through six states emblazoned with the glorious arrival of Fall had me in sensory overload. An October harvest moon hung in the night sky dotted with stars above. And the prospect of a pup? Too much. 

Well you can't go see little spotted dogs without taking one home. So here he is, keeping me and my existing dog hopping. Not quite the patter of feet that I was anticipating. There are snarls and snaps and growls and barks. Occasionally they get along. Integration into the pack is not the Norman Rockwell image I was hoping for. 

It occurred to me that this indoctrination is much like starting a new job. There are personalities, snarls and big dogs circling each other for position. And there are some that wag their tail and accept you for who you are. But you still have to prove that you can run with the pack. You hope it settles down - we are the ones that walk on two legs.  

It is important to view these personalities so that they all mesh well, produce as a team (or pack) and simply get the job done. The interview process reveals alot but finding the right "fit" for both parties takes effort. If you ignore the red flags, the growls or rumbles, you may as well chase your tail to get a functional and efficient team. Either that or try howling at the moon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remember when

Driving in the chilly rain in the funeral procession with Chris Bottis' haunting trumpet rendition of "Time to Say Goodbye" hanging in the air, family and friends gathered to pay final respects to Aunt Ann. Someone whose presence graced our gatherings and whose love for family was boundless. Someone whose impression is etched on many hearts tonight.

You hear it said sometimes - the love of his or her life. It's hard to believe it really happens - but I'll tell you that it's true. Marriage is never what you expect. Yet looking at the wedding photos that are now 63 years old, Ann and Tom got it right. Till death do us part doesn't happen much anymore. It's easy to walk away. Love, honor and obey are hard words to say (OK I admit, as a native Baltimorean I said "Old Bay". It seemed to work at the time). Part of what we have lost is keeping common courtesy and simple kindness to one another alive in a relationship. Aunt Ann & Uncle Tom epitomized those traits. There was no MEMEMEME about it, they were in it together. And it showed, even today.
Smiling photos were everywhere at the funeral home, "remember when" was repeated throughout the room. Hugs and smiles and tears were the order of the day. As we left the church the sun began to peak through the clouds. Chris Botti turned his attention to "Someone to Watch Over Me".  Indeed, a lifetime of love and the love of Tom's life shone though the grey skies. Her gentle kindness had rained down on all who were lucky enough to have been a part of her life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010
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Closet musings

Friday night was spent in a closet. Literally, in a closet. Too much on my mind to even sit and watch tv, the focus on reading a book was lost. It began by restlessly putting away the laundry. Shortly then after I was standing in a puddle of cotton and wool - all the clothes pulled off the closet shelves and onto the floor to begin the sorting process.

Sometimes the only way to clear out the clutter is to jump into the middle of it. Sort what is worth holding onto, what is worth letting go. This is a good time of year to wool gather - not only in your closet but in your mind. Fall brings a sense of change, of showing us there is beauty in the leaves that will soon be gone. That changing color doesn't always mean changing form - but shedding our external "leaves" to begin a process of renewal.

In current design trends closet and closet organization have become a field unto its' own. There are all types of accessories to be utilzed in every room of the house. Storage equipment that gives us the ability to organize the clutter that creeps into our lives. I find that when living space is organized it allows us to think unfettered. We can see past the clutter and move forward more freely. 

The weather is turning colder, the flip flops will be stored in the hopes that they'll soon reappear. Those carefree days of summer put away until their return. The sturdy boots come out, the cozy sweaters wrap us in warmth. The seasons change with each passing day and with each season a new reflection begins.  It's time to put away what is no longer necessary and embrace what is already waiting for us.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rituals of the day

Sometimes while driving early in the morning before the sun rises I watch the lights turn on in houses as I pass by - one by one. In small towns and cities all across the country our morning rituals are performed day after day, probably in the same order. The alarm goes off, we stretch like lazy dogs in the morning light, rubbing our eyes and stumbling into the kitchen to brew that first cup of nirvana.

And so it goes day in day out. That first inhalation of that addictive aroma, hands cradling our favorite cup for warmth, the aaaaahhhhh after that long starter sip. The day begins.

Coffee has become a billion dollar industry. From single cup to built in units that grind beans for each cup that is brewed - perking that coffee is a common ritual in many households.  There are bean grinders, espresso makers, fair trade coffee and the ongoing debate of Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts. We choose sides. We talk about the crema, the boldness, the blend.  We stop and savor the moment just for that split second - we allow ouselves to just BE. 
Why shouldn't we take the time to inhale - just inhale - and just BE? Why don't we stop to smell the autumn change in the air? Listen to the crunch of leaves under our feet, watch the V shaped pattern of geese glide across the sky? See the color in the sky as the light fades to dark, feel the cool clean air fill our lungs and just BE. The world moves so fast that living in the moment has become elusive. When was the last time you stopped to hear childrens' voices as they play in the school yard, heard the beat of the city beneath your feet, felt music melt into your pores, into your very being?

Stop and smell the coffee - taste the sweet bitterness of complexities that brew inside of you everyday. BE in the moment - just BE. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The BEST Price

What is THE BEST PRICE? We are all asking for it, we are all negotiating everything everyday. Myself included. But how do we know what THE BEST PRICE really is, when it is in an industry we are NOT in? Take construction for example. You are trusting someone to open your walls, take electrical wires in their hands, repair them, and then TRUST that they are correct. If not done correctly, they could start a fire. You are trusting someone to build a floor that you won't fall though. You are trusting someone to make sure all the plumbing connections are secure so that you don't spring a leak. What is the cost of trust?

I have seen some instances on some jobs where the contractor went from being low bid to outrageous crazy when unforseen circumstances arose. Were they unforseen or overlooked in order to get the low bid?  Do your homeowork. Get references, call vendors that supply the person that will be in your home.  Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Make sure they are licensed & insured. Trust your gut instinct. Are they so low because they can't get work?

When it all comes down to it, the BEST PRICE is a fair price given by fair people. People that are working in your best interest with their best price to the best of their ability. So what is the real cost of the best price? What are you willing to pay?