Beware of In-Laws


Beware of in-laws… especially in-laws arriving with a car full of tools.

Erica, our daughter-in-law, bought a new house in Portland and invited us to come and help her move in. We offered to fix up a few things before she moved in while the house is empty. She had envisioned painting some rooms and putting a new shine on the hardwood floors. Little did she know when she asked us what we thought about the kitchen, that she’d end up seeing that kitchen in her front yard.


The kitchen cabinets and countertop dated from the original construction of the house, designed in 1952 & probably constructed in 1954. (We know the date because we found the original blueprints, actual blue prints, high in a closet.) These are the kind of cabinets in which the carpenter, with his sawhorses placed right there in the kitchen, constructed each cabinet one piece & one board at a time. This is back in the days when they had clear one-by Pine and covered all the shelves with colorful shelf paper. And we want you to know that those cabinets and shelves came out the same way they went in, one board at a time with single-jack sledgehammer and wonder-bar in hand.

I thought the cabinets were difficult and I didn’t even have to haul the demolition out the front door, Stanna did all that. But when I got to looking at the floor I learned a new kind of hard. Under the recently installed linoleum on top of vinyl tiles, there was the original linoleum with the in-laid trim around the edges, all cemented and glued down to a one-by-four plank floor. After several efforts of trying to pull up linoleum and the tiles with spatulas, chisels, hammers, heat gun and mineral spirits, I realized that the only way that floor was coming out was one plank at a time, or more like a half-plank at a time. Fortunately there was diagonal 1×8″ rough-sawn planking below that and I only needed to fit in 3/4″ ply and Durham’s Rock Hard at the joints to have a smooth base for the new cork floor.
Cork Floor
Erica’s last two homes have had IKEA cabinets so we spent several hours one day designing and spec’ing her new kitchen on the IKEA web-based software, and with the help of a design tech at the store we ordered and got same-day delivery (for $59) of the cabinets. IKEA’s 75 years of experience in this business certainly shows, we weren’t missing a thing and only took back three items we didn’t use but the tech thought we might need to have on hand. Assembling the cabinet boxes is only a small portion of the install process, but each step is simple and straight-forward even if you don’t read the instructions.
IMG_0319 You’ve got to hang the uppers on a rail, bottoms need leveling and fastening to the walls, and doors and drawers take still more time with some assembly and fitting of slides and hinges. All in all it is a very rewarding process, with little room for error until you get to the door and drawer handles. Those take concentration and no distractions, not to mention a jig for each size and style. Midway thru the project I realized we needed a table saw and fortunately Craigslist provided one for sale nearby within hours for only $75. Only tool we had to conjure up was a Pythagorean triangle to square the counter island.
Along with the new kitchen we refinished hardwood floors and painted 14 gallons of Home Depot’s finest on rooms, closets and halls. Erica’s mom Lauren also contributed to the painting spree. There was plenty to work on, and sleeping on the jobsite floors facilitated 14+ hour days. Stanna and Erica made supply runs and I only had to leave the job site for flooring and cabinet decisions. Oh, and Christmas morning and dinner.
Final We managed to get everything we started done on schedule, only the countertops are lacking and they can’t be delivered until after the New Year.

Xmas in Portlandia

It was wonderful to see so much of Molly Sharp’s handiwork festooned across the hearth in Portland. She will and should be remembered forever and especially for her handknit stockings personalized for each one of us, as well as for her family and countless others. If there is a heaven I’m sure Molly is one of the few people I know that’s looking down from there.


It’s been a while since we’ve had Christmas with the grandgirls. Last time we had Christmas together was in Roatan Honduras. We still have very fond memories of the girls, actually one girl, swimming off the back of the boat and Sophie the younger just having the time of her life on one of the sandy beaches. I don’t remember having a tree on Paradox, but I’m sure we had happy times and plenty of presents.

Good times were had by all and each in turn spent time appreciating their presents. And there were plenty of socks to go around, besides the stockings that were filled with small items and traditional treats. The girls got their wishes, one of which was a remote control helicopter and the other was a computer. Everyone got clothes and there was even an ultra-light item for tg.

One present that neither of the girls anticipated or could even figure out once they were opened is pictured below.

Did you guess that those are cloaks from the Harry Potter theme? Stanna stitched those up shortly before we left for Portland and surprised both the girls, one of whom has been to Harry Potter World and actually owns a Magic wand.

The girls like to cook and baking Christmas cookies was a treat they had with Stanna. Check out the aprons the girls are wearing, thanks to our earlier Switzerland trip.

Farolitos at Mesa Verde

IMG_4682 Once again we visited the Luminaria lighting of Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde. The National Park and volunteers put out thousands of traditional luminarias, called farolitos in Sante Fe, New Mexico, once a year at Mesa Verde. This year’s festival of lights was hampered by temperatures in the teens and icy roads up into the park itself.

All the better for us, as there was easy parking and not much crowding around the ruins. You could actually get up to the chain barrier and take photos without other “bodies” in the viewfinder.

It’s always a surreal experience visiting the Spruce Tree House ruin at night, because you readily get the feeling you’re visiting in an historic time period. Hearing an Indian flute playing in the background adds to the atmosphere of this ancient puebloan time. IMG_4662

We visited with friends Mike and Judy and had a “tail-gate” dinner snack after visiting the ruins. Bundled up, it was unusually comfortable eating snacks out of the back of the 4Runner.

T-Day at the St Paul Lodge

Family traditions are wonderful, especially if you can spend them at such a great place as the St Paul Ski Lodge on Red Mountain. We have been going up there for Thanksgiving since 1977 and wouldn’t miss it except when we’ve been out of the country, which was too often when we were cruising on Paracas and Paradox.
When we only visit the Lodge on Thanksgiving, it becomes a trip down memory lane, or more aptly “up” memory lane, as the ski up generally takes about an hour. Plenty of time to re-visit all the prior trips and occasions like the first time we accompanied Daniel up the track at 4 ½ years old. Seeing friends that you only manage to visit with once a year, catching up on news and events, and re-living ol- times makes the holiday special for sure. IMG_4641

The George Family is an extended family at it’s best. And they extend an invitation to all close friends and family each year at the St Paul Ski Lodge for a Thanksgiving Turkey Ski. Donna and Chris provide the birds and guests bring their most special trimmings for a feast only surpassed by the following year’s event. There were six pies and two cheesecakes just to give a sample of the list of treats available. Teams rotate thru the galley kitchen making and preparing their dishes and washing up like a well oiled troupe.
It’s hard not gain a few pounds no matter how conscientious you are about “holding back”, “pushing away” or denying yourself. The food is outstanding with several kinds of dressing, “real” mashed potatoes, salads, breads, veggies all transported up to the Lodge for the feast. Of course the meal follows an afternoon of snacking on hors d’oeuvres, wine and cheeses. Fortunately the “family” has a number of musicians and singers so the evening conviviality continues on into the night with music and song.

What a treat to be thankful for.