1. I took the week off last week. It was a good time to do so, as my vacation hours start over at the end of the month, and I had to use or lose a few days worth. I had no real plans for the week, but ended up having a great time with some of my favorite people.
I went up to West Virginia, where I met with a client (a fun client, so it wasn’t too much like work). Then my folks had a final family get together at the old house. About thirty of us chowed down on spaghetti made with my grandmother’s famous recipe. As we all got together for one final party at the house we’ve called home for the past 22 years, I remembered our very FIRST family event there. It was Thanksgiving, 1988. We had just moved in, after a few months delay in the renovations, and had probably 40+ in attendance for Thanksgiving dinner. It runs in my mind that either the knobs on the range had been put on incorrectly or maybe the oven just didn’t work (this was the same oven, afterall, that would take two hours to heat up a pan of pizza rolls), but whatever the case, the turkey was still cold when everyone arrived. It was the first of many parties and get togethers at that house, and I hope the new owners will enjoy it just as much.
My cousin, Trailer Park Midge and her husband opened up their doublewide for a Fourth of Joo-lye cookout. It had been entirely too long since I’d seen Trailerpark Barbie and Little Frugalista so we had a good time catching up.
I spent one day with my crazy mama (slightly less crazy these days, having given up some of her daily cocktail of pharmaceuticals), taking my 1 1/2 year old godson along for a visit to my grandmother (he loved running down her hills and jumping off her front porch), and ending the day visiting with the family of one of my friends (where mom and the other ladies discussed all sorts of medical procedures and problems ad nauseum, prompting me to promise to submit to a testicular exam before my next visit so I could have something to add to the conversation.)
On the way home, I toured a hardwoods factory where a client will be getting some gorgeous walnut flooring and had dinner with one of my best friends near his home in Charlotte. (The restaurant, incidentally, had the best balsamic vinaigrette either of us had tasted.)
All in all, not a bad way to spend a week off.
2. Darling and I spent two days at the beach at the end of the week. It was fun and relaxing until we got in the car to come home. Most condo and house rentals, of course, run Saturday to Saturday, so we were stuck smack dab in the middle of the Saturday morning exodus. What is normally a four hour drive took seven. We passed the time counting how many golf carts were being towed to the beach. (54, in case you wondered, just on the first stretch of highway.) This golf cart craze has me puzzled. There were a few families in my old neighborhood who had them, and there wasn’t a golf course anywhere near us. Near as I can tell and surmise, these are the must-have accessory for subdivision dwellers everywhere. It’s nonsense, apparently, to fire up the Suburban to drive to the neighborhood pool, or to try parking an Expedition at playgroup up the street. Much better is to spend five to ten grand on a golf cart to tool about the community in. (God forbid anyone actually walk the streets of their own neighborhood.)
3. And speaking of things I can’t see spending money on, a client recently asked for a space in his rec room to put a pinball machine. Who knew that a pinball machine costs around five grand?? It takes an awful lot of quarters for the arcade owners to break even on one of those. Although I can think of about three million things I’d rather spend five grand on, it’s those sort of little touches that make my job fun sometimes. Over the years, I’ve seen clients request fire poles (to slide from one level’s porch to the next), a full-story slide to get the kids from their bedrooms to their playroom below, a grandmother requested that the entrance to her grandchildren’s suite be made to look like an old armoire a’la “Chronicles of Narnia“, a golfer added a virtual reality room for golf simulation, and a car officianado installed a lift system in his garage so that his prized toys could be stacked vertically. Gets me thinking, if money were no object and I were building my dream house…what little quirks would I add? I once designed myself a house with a basement that was fully outfitted with a racquetball court, two lanes of bowling, an indoor pool, and a theatre. No need to ever leave home! I could also see including a few things to appeal to my inner child–secret passages, hidden doors, ladders that accessed nooks and crannies in the attic. What would YOUR dream house have?