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January 5th, 2019

Unmoored [Seattle childhood memories]

At some point in high school, my parents gave me the gift of a skylight for my bedroom. The house I grew up in has two small attic rooms that were converted into "cozy" bedrooms with sloped ceilings at some point, and the room I came to occupy in high school had only one small window, facing west out towards the row of trees across from the driveway. In a word, dark.

At some point after I moved away for grad school, my mom started to assume more of the responsibilities for her mentally disabled sister, and so my old room got converted into L's bedroom for weekend visits. L has an incredible display of sports medals in there, now.

So when we were in Seattle to visit, we stayed in the other attic room instead, which variously housed myself, my sister, and my brother at different points as we all grew up. At some point when it was my room, my mother and I put up wallpaper with little pink roses on it. At some point later on, my mother paid me to tackle the project of taking down the wallpaper to then paint and sponge-paint the walls to match the other attic room.

Now that second attic room, the east room, has two twin beds in it, both covered with matching quilts made by my paternal grandmother. That style of room is reminiscent of my maternal great-grandmother's home in the years when she still lived independently: two twin beds done up with matching linens. My great aunt in Tucson also has a guest room elegantly done up in this style.

There's a desk at the window between the beds, a wooden desk that my mom taught me how to strip and re-finish. There's a large crack in the wooden top that runs horizontally across the whole desk surface, around an eighth of an inch wide. When we were working on refinishing it, my mom had me dig out an aged container of wood filler from among the paint cans and other supplies in the basement. The wood filler was too chunky to work with and never did a whole lot to smooth over or fill in the crack, so I have many memories of adjusting and readjusting papers for art projects and homework assignments so the crack didn't cause any formatting issues or tears in the paper.

Here is some of the view out of the east attic room's window, while sitting at the desk:
Attic peek view

Our last morning in town for this trip, we visited a Macrina Bakery located in the building that was the Surrogate Hostess when I attended grade school at St. Joe's, across the street from the school. After the Surrogate Hostess closed down, some time when I was in high school, a Tully's coffeeshop opened up in the space. I will never understand why anyone would ever patronize Tully's Coffee because their beverages all tasted like chalk and nothing to me. Eventually, perhaps to no one's surprise, the Tully's closed.

My father still doesn't like having to pose for photos, and my smart-o-phone's terrible camera is even worse in low light, so this visit is best represented by the following triptych:

Breakfast triptych

Breakfast triptych

Breakfast triptych

While it was not a coffeeshop bike ride, it still felt good to spring my dad out of the house for a coffeeshop expedition.


Returning to Albany yesterday felt strange. We haven't been here for long enough to have the full feeling of, "Ahhh, home again, where we can relax." But Seattle isn't home anymore, either. This state of being a transient is hard on the soul, visiting ghosts of former selves in former places.

My desk at home here in Albany, really just a wood sewing machine table that I also refinished, is even less functional than the wood desk in Seattle with the crack in the top.

The cat has been giving us a whole lot of what-for ever since our return.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1272507.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Repairs and replacements

As my father's health has declined, my mother has been taking on more and more of the household duties that my father used to attend to. One such responsibility is vacuuming: my father used to vacuum on Saturday mornings, after we all finished our Saturday pancake breakfast of whole-wheat pancakes made with Herman and topped with fruit and whipped cream. Saturdays don't work for my mother for vacuuming, so she has declared, "On Wednesdays, I vacuum."

This past Wednesday, as she vacuumed, she observed that the vacuum cleaner's power cord was starting to fray badly at the point where the cord exits the vacuum. She showed this to myself and my father, and we observed that it looked like it would probably be straightforward to take apart the vacuum and then shorten the cord slightly.

Overall, I'd say we were correct about this assessment. In the process of making this fix, I learned from my father that twist-on wire cap connectors have directionality and tighten in a clockwise direction. I also managed to find a small bolt and nut to replace a failed bracket rivet for the bracket holding the vacuum cleaner's wheels onto the vacuum. Wedging the plastic cord-holding bracket back into the metal hole in the vacuum cleaner was the trickiest part of the repair.

Apparently concluding that the vacuum cleaner was an insufficient challenge, my mother then made noises about another, more daunting-sounding project: replacing the fireplace screen.

I never knew it was possible to replace a fireplace screen, but she had ordered a replacement, so what did I know. Pulling off the old screen, which had been in place my entire life, wasn't too hard, seeing as it was starting to come off (and that was part of the justification for replacing it). Putting on the new one was much more finicky. Thankfully, [personal profile] scrottie was there to save the day:

Fireplace installation champion

In the end we rated our installation job as "Adequate, but could be ruined by an exuberant toddler pulling on the screen too hard." One-size-fits-all brackets rarely do, in case you wondered.

And that is how I spent my Christmas vacation - at least, the part of the vacation after the sailing bit and after my siblings had left.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1272585.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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