Sea-Doos, Krazy Glue, and That There Fiddling Business

My Grandpa lived an extraordinary life. Known by many for his adventurous entrepreneurial spirit, there is no doubt that his success in business is very noteworthy and from that we can all learn myriad lessons. However, it is not from his public ventures that I've gleaned the most important lessons from Grandpa. Nope. Some of the most poignant life lessons I learned from him came from what might be considered regular everyday interactions, but Grandpa had a certain way about him that made those  regular everyday interactions uniquely his.

Of all the memories made and lessons learned, I've managed to boil it down to the four most important ones:

Lesson #1: Love the life you live, or "Put on your life jackets, we're going out on the Sea-Doo!"

If you knew Grandpa, you know that he lived his life to the absolute fullest. Did he ever have a bad day? I'm sure there might have been a few sprinkled here and there, yet if there were I certainly don't remember them. He filled his life with his passions which filled his days with things he loved to do. I'll always remember the time about 12 years ago when a number of us were at the cabin and we were going to take the Sea-Doos out on the reservoir and he wanted join us for a bit. We put on our life jackets and headed down to the water. my friend and I hopped on one of the Sea-Doos and Grandpa and two of my other cousins on the other. We were going to be daredevils out there, but Grandpa just wanted to go out for a few minutes to take in the views and the sunshine. I'll never forget the sight across the reservoir of him driving that Sea-Doo in his Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, and button-down collared shirt under his life jacket, with my cousins holding on to each other behind him in their swimsuits. They didn't have to hold on too tightly because Grandpa actually got "pulled over" by the boating police for going too slow. But what did he care, he was doing what he wanted and was loving every minute of it. Life's too short not to do that. Figure out what you want to be doing and then do that. Love the life your living every day of it.

Lesson #2: You are more resilient than you think you are, or "Glue that tooth back in and get back to the party."

I consider myself a pretty tough girl and I have to attribute my ability to bounce back from hard knocks, or never shying away from a worthy challenge to Grandpa. I've mentioned this before: Grandpa was very leery of people wanting to scam you for all you're worth, and in his mind the worst offenders? Dentists. Orthodontia, periodontics, all of that is just one big racket designed to take his money. A few Christmases back, Grandpa had been suffering from a toothache and ultimately his tooth fell out. What did he do? (you know the answer is NOT call a dentist) He Krazy glued that freaking tooth right back into place and got himself back out to that party. Now, Internets, I'm neither condoning nor recommending Krazy glue as a treatment plan (I happen to believe wholeheartedly in regular check-ups and cleanings, which I'm sure means I'm bank-rolling this whole dental practice racket), but I am saying that some times you just need to take a deep breath, glue your tooth back into place and get yourself back to that party. Whenever you were feeling like you couldn't catch a break, or life was just giving you more than you could handle, you could always count on Grandpa to be there in your corner encouraging you to dust yourself off, suck it up, and throw yourself back into things. There wasn't any room for self-pity, just glue yourself back together (sometimes literally) and go out and try your best. He was a living example of resiliency.

Lesson #3: Seek out opportunities to be great, or "There's money in that there fiddlin' business!"

One summer when I was in high school, I went up to Grandma and Grandpa's to see Garth Brooks play at Frontier Days. Grandpa and Grandma also went to the show and the next morning at breakfast Grandpa was raving about the band, in particular the fiddler.

"There's money in that there fiddling business!" he said to me in his serious, low, rumbly voice.

He may have been trying to plant a seed with me, perhaps that I should consider a future of professional fiddling. Alas, I did not become a great fiddler, I've actually never picked up a fiddle. However, the seed he did plant with me was that this world is full of opportunities to be great and that it was up to me to seek those out for myself. As it turns out, there's money in a lot of businesses as long as you can find out what you love to do and do it to the best of your ability. I will tell you this, every time I hear a fiddle I think about him and think about the life full of future opportunities for me to be great.

Lesson #4: Dream big, work hard, and make it happen, or "Now you go in there tomorrow and make us proud!"

I've carried this lesson with me every day of my life. I can't attribute it all to Grandpa, but I can say that it's definitely a legacy of his that lives on in me. I know I've written before about how I haven't always been crystal clear on a single dream for my whole life, but when I am inspired by a dream, a big challenging goal, I'll work my hardest, and then a little bit harder to make it happen.

Seven years ago, I left a career in higher education to pursue my dream job in the business world. It was an extremely difficult transition and there were a lot of naysayers out there who tried to tell me it couldn't be done. But I stayed persistent and always believed I'd be able to make it happen, even when every door seemed to be shutting in my face. When I finally did find that dream role, I called Grandma and Grandpa the night before the interview. What Grandpa said to me right before we hung up has lived in my heart every day since, "Now you go in there tomorrow and make us proud, Kath-a-leen."

And that's what I try to do. Every day. Because of you, Grandpa, I keep my dreams big, I work as hard as I can, and I'm making it happen--all the while so you and all of my loved ones can be proud.

Grandpa, I will always love you and will forever live these lessons and pass them on to my own children and grandchildren someday. My voice may be less rumbly, but you will certainly be speaking through me to the future generations of our family. And I'll try my hardest to someday get us a fiddler in the family.


A Valentine's Day Aspiration

I realized something this morning. My grandparents were married for 72 years, my other grandparents have been married for around that long as well, and my parents have been married for 36 years. That's A LOT of Valentine's Days together (and when you really think about it, that's just a lot of normal days together, too. But given it's that oh-so-special Hallmark holiday today, we'll just go for the v-day count).

So, here's the realization: I've never had the same Valentine twice. Ever. That is fascinating to me. And in honor of cupid on his special day I'll go ahead and say this: I really want to break that streak with Mr. W.

I love him. And he loves me. And life is good. Here's to the first of hopefully many Hallmark holidays we spend together.


Six-word Sunday: February 12, 2012

It was a really tough week.

I'm wiping away the tears, gathering my thoughts, dealing with the shock of reality, missing my family so far away, and hoping for peace.

On Friday evening, February 10, my Grandpa passed away. He was a great man who lived a great life, and still I'm struggling with the hole his passing leaves in my heart. I know it's not common to be 34 and still have all four of your grandparents, but I was that uncommon 34-year-old, and losing Grandpa is taking it's toll and teaching me lessons I hadn't had to learn up to this point in my life.

All weekend, memories have unearthed themselves from the space in my soul where they've been buried for safe-keeping. I'm working on a little tribute for Grandpa as reflecting on his life has made me realize he's been extremely influential in me being who I am. And because writing them is the best way I can memorialize all that he meant, and continues to mean, to me, I'll post that here.

Note to self: Share your love and gratitude while you can!

And as I've made it through this weekend (with the love and support from my family at a distance and from Mr. W closer to home), I'm celebrating the life Grandpa led and how that life allows me to live the life I'm living. The tears are drying, the thoughts crystallizing; reality's sinking in--I'm still missing my family but will be with them soon--and the peace is coming and will wrap itself around me as I continue to move through my life and strive to make it as great as Grandpa's, which is what he wanted most of all for his family.


Hexes and Subways

Internets, I forgot how much I love and loathe home improvement projects. Love them because there is nothing more rewarding than playing a part in making your home into a space you love. Loathe them because holy hell, that's a lot of work!

I've hired out most of the work for this remodel and I couldn't be happier with that decision. However, I've saved some of the "fun" projects for myself. And thankfully, Mr. W is an avid renovator so together we tackled the tiling of my new bathroom (truth be told, we're still tackling it... but we should be finished this weekend).

Here's a sneak peek:

This is part of the shower. The easy part. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us on the angled part of the wall/roof. Yeah. Fun times ahead. The final shower walls and floor will be the last bit we do this weekend.

How do you like them apples? Subway tile detail wall (left) and back splash for the vanity (right). And my cool floor. Just wait until everything is grouted. It's going to be fabulous.

Here you get a better view of the detail on the floor. Just a pattern I made up. The plan is to do the reverse pattern in the shower with the primary tiles black with white border and florets.

And here's where I recognize I'm perfectly imperfect. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is fully valued in F-Bombs. This is where I realized that  I forgot about a row of white tiles and couldn't figure out why my pattern was misaligned. The fortunate thing is that nobody but you and I (and Mr. W) know about this, and also this part should be mostly covered or obscured from view by the toilet.


Six-word Sunday: February 5, 2012

Accelerated my relationship tiling all weekend.

One of the best things about Mr. W is that he's into renovating homes. He and I took things to the next level (actually we probably skipped three levels and took it past the fourth one) by tackling a renovation project for the weekend.

In true LMNT fashion, I was unrealistically ambitious about what we could accomplish. That and after we cranked out priming, painting, and tiling a complete wall in what surely had to be a DIY world record and I commented on how we were the valedictorians of bathroom renovations, I most certainly jinxed us and we hit a few snags. The great news is we survived completely intact--I think we might even like each other more now. And even though we didn't barrel through everything on the list, we did do some mighty fine work.

I'm going to have a new bathroom soon (more details and pictures to be posted on domestikat... someday soon... you'll be the first to know when they are)!

(Note: I can't get my pictures to upload to Blogger... I'll post them when I can, but I'm an exhausted LMNT and need to get my beauty rest, in my living room turned studio apartment, more on that to come...).

Goodnight, Internets!


Six-Word Sunday: January 29, 2012

Dust, debris, and a master suite.

I know it's Monday, going on Tuesday, but I didn't want to miss my six-word Sunday. I'm almost three weeks into a new home renovation (only this time, I'm paying to have someone do most of the work). It's time to blow the dust off of the other blog. I'll post pictures and comments there later this week.

Now I'm off to obsess over subway tile, and it's not the first time I've done that...



Ah, the early stages of a relationship. Whether you're 34 or 14 some things never change.

To say I've been giddy about Mr. W is a huge understatement. I've reverted back to giggly little schoolgirl and it's fantastic. It's been a month (what a month it's been). A few weeks ago, my co-workers were teasing me about how smitten I am and how I've likely been distracted by practicing my signature with his last name all over my notebooks, just like many of us started doing with crushes back in our school days.

And until last week, I hadn't done that.

But then I was snowed in at a work event with plenty of time for daydreaming and plenty of paper for doodling. Before I knew it, I found myself scribbling his last name a few times on a random sheet of paper. "Ha ha," I thought. "My little secret. Nobody will know about this." Famous last words; if Michael Bolton taught me anything, it's that none of my little secrets ever stay secret.

Over the weekend, Mr. W was getting into my car and I noticed that my notebook from last week's event was strewn about the passenger seat. I told him to just throw it in the back and he just paused and looked at something on the page. I sat there thinking, "what the heck? Just throw it into the back seat already and let's go get hamburgers!" And he just looked at me and pointed to something written on the random sheet of paper that had fallen out of the notebook.

There it was--in beautiful cursive penmanship, I might add--his last name. I gasped, squirmed, and blushed crimson red. No denying it. I've got a crush and it's making me act like a 14-year-old. I fumbled for words to explain why his good family name was written on that sheet. He was gracious and I was adorably mortified, what would he think and would it freak him out?

And because he's great and is not too unlike the 14-year-old me who has a massive crush, he didn't freak out. In fact I think it might have even made him like me more. Which of course made me like him more. And that's where we jumped into the infinite loop of the virtuous giggly-little-schoolgirl cycle.