Sunday, March 23, 2014

Paws Awhile – Moody Blue Sea

This was going to be my weekend off from the remodel project.  I was all excited about going with friends to see the Moody Blues concert at the Fox Theater Friday night, but early in the week I got a call from the cabinet guy who said that the rest of the cabinets had arrived and he wanted to have them installed on Friday. Hmmm… Dilemma…  I briefly contemplated trying to fly to Jacksonville on Friday morning and then fly home in time for the concert but there were precious few available seats on the return flights Friday afternoon. I called my friend who had invited me to the concert and begged her to forgive me for bailing on the concert.

Free from my social obligation, I could fly to Jacksonville on Thursday but the handles we had ordered for our cabinets had not arrived so I decided to wait until Friday hoping the shipment would arrive. We REALLY REALLY wanted the cabinet installer to install the handles because I’ve seen OUR work and I wouldn’t hire us to do much of anything that requires precision.

I kept checking the knobs4less website to see if we had a tracking number but there was no information. I had little hope of getting the handles.  We did get a delivery of the power cords for the dishwasher and range, so that was good. Late Thursday afternoon the handles arrived!  Whooo Hoooo!!!!

I wanted to go to my 6AM exercise class Friday morning but that would be cutting it too close to make the 8:30AM flight so I skipped it. I miss my exercise compadres when I don’t get to go.  Misery loves company, you know!

The flight to Jacksonville went off without a hitch – I got a nice aisle seat in the economy comfort section close to the front of the plane. This is nice, not because I care about the extra room between the seats but because I would be able to get off of the plane quickly. I was anxious to get to Paws Awhile to oversee the cabinet install.

The drive from the airport takes slightly more than 30 minutes so I was at the condo by 10AM. Mike, the installer, was already there & busy setting up for the installation.

It was a good thing I got there because his plans showed the dishwasher to the right of the sink and I had decided that I wanted it to the left of the sink. He wasn’t sure there would be room behind the dishwasher for the plumbing but we did some measuring and decided it could be done.

I really like Mike, the installer. He is fun to banter with while he works and he is incredibly precise with his work. He had done the cabinet installations for two of my friends on the island.

I took a picnic lunch to the beach and watched dolphins frolic in the waves and then took a walk down the beach.  On my way back, I got a call from Mike wanting to know where the handles were for the refrigerator. He needed to measure the depth of the refrigerator with the handles so he could make sure the cabinet doors would open. I told him I thought they were inside the fridge but he said they weren’t. Then I started to panic, thinking maybe the delivery guys hadn’t left me the handles.  I hoofed it back to the condo, opened the fridge and there they were, just where I had told Mike. He looked sheepish and said, “Right next to the snake.”

Mike worked on the cabinets until around 4:30PM. He said he would not be able to finish so he would be back the next day. While he was packing up, my friends showed up to deliver a TV I had stashed in their car when I learned they were driving down. Mike enlisted the help of my friend Brian to move the refrigerator from the bedroom into its position in the kitchen. The whole process was rather comedic. Mike and Brian got the refrigerator as far as the bedroom door but couldn’t get it over the lip of the tile. They were blocked into the bedroom. My friend Nancy and I were outside the bedroom but unable to do much to help due to our wimpy girliness. I was worried that Mike & Brian would be trapped until we could find help, but Mike decided he could climb out the bedroom window and come back in the front door. With lots of wiggling and grunting, they got the refrigerator into place.  It looks GREAT!  I was doing the happy dance.

Mike left and we went to the Surf to meet some other friends for Happy Hour & dinner.

I woke up early the next morning & decided to install the new TV.  It is a SMART TV, meaning it is probably ESU (Equipment Superior to User).  I moved the current TV to the master bedroom and put the new 39” TV in the living area. 39” might be overkill for the small space.

Mike arrived around 9:30AM and started working. He was very curious about the capabilities of the new TV so he inspired me to explore its capabilities.  I was able to watch YouTube videos on the TV and project the desktop from my PC onto the TV.  Pretty cool!

Mike was concerned about the plumbing so I sent a text to Herb, the handyman, and asked if he could stop by to take a look. Herb felt confident he would be able to connect the plumbing…. Something about a shark-bite connection…  Of course one would use something like that at the beach.

Mike finished the installation and was ready for the handles. He asked where I wanted them and I showed him that I wanted them at the bottom edge of the cabinet. He said, “No, you can’t put them there.” He had no real reason, but he just said it wasn’t done. We argued for a bit and I finally gave in and put them where he said they should go. I was glad afterward. They look great!

I went to lunch at Sliders with my friends and had a really garlicy Caesar salad. I chewed gum on the way back to the condo, but when I got there, Mike sniffed the air and said, “What did you have for lunch?”

By the time he finished and cleaned up, it was after 2 and I hadn’t gotten to spend any time at the beach so I decided not to return to Atlanta until the next day to give me a chance to enjoy the beach.

Before I went out to the beach though, I decided to see if I could move the stove out of the bedroom. I pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled and eventually got it into the kitchen. With my super-human strength I was able to lift the microwave and put it on top of the stove leaving the guest bedroom available to be turned back into a guest bedroom! I reassembled the bed frame and unstacked the mattresses and box springs.  

The bedroom is now sleep-able, although there is still a lot of stuff laying around.

I was on a roll so I decided to install the new kitchen light. I built a tower using the laundry basket on top of the stove and microwave where I could balance the light fixture while I did the wiring. I thought it looked pretty good for amateur work. I wanted to install the new dining room fixture too but didn’t think I had enough materials to build a tower and I certainly didn't want to move the stove again!

I took a walk on the beach. It was beautiful. The weather was perfect. The sun was setting and there was a nice warm breeze. I walked down to the pier where some folks had hung hammocks under the pier. One was hanging pretty high up. I was going to stop and ask them how they got up that high, but it looked like more than one person in the hammock and I didn’t want to disturb whatever they seemed to be doing.

I had a nice dinner at my friends’ house. She had just gotten her kitchen remodeled too. Her faucet was still being installed (by Herb, the handyman) when I got there. That gave me a chance to plead with Herb to get my appliances installed as soon as possible. Herb said I might be in luck because he had some sheetrock work lined up for the week and he might have some down-time while he waited for the mud to dry.  Oh, I hope so!  It would be so nice to at least have the ice-maker hooked up!

Sunday morning I got up early & made good time getting to the airport. I got to the Sky Club about 7:15AM. I considered seeing if I could get on the 7:30AM flight but decided to stick with my original plan for the 8:40AM. Big mistake. I should have looked at the schedules board to see that the 8:40AM had a mechanical delay. As I write this, departure time for the 8:40AM flight has been delayed to 10AM and now showing 1PM. There are two flights that leave before 1, but they are rebooking everyone so I’m sure I won’t get on any of them.

I am sitting in the Sky Club with a family of 6 (revenue) that is trying to get to Salt Lake City. The surly teenagers are not taking the delay very well.

I wouldn’t care except that little Lucy has a play date with her little Chihuahua friends today and I will miss it. No matter though, Tony says it is supposed to rain in Atlanta so Lucy probably won't want to go anyway.

The Fly versus Drive decision is always a tough one. If everything works in my favor flying, I can make it door-to-door from my house in Smyrna to Paws Awhile in 3 1/2 hours. Driving would take about 6 hours. Today, flying; with things not working in my favor; will take at least 8 hours from door-to-door. I think I would still rather fly though, most of the time.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Paws Awhile - Cabinets, Cabinets, Cabinets!!!

The kitchen is really starting to take shape!  We got a call from the cabinet guy a week ago Thursday to say that the upper cabinets had arrived. He wanted to deliver them on Friday and install them on Saturday. We wanted to be there for the big event so I decided to fly down Friday morning after my gym class.  Lucy wanted to go too (or that’s how I interpreted her wagging tail).  Lola decided that she would stay at home. She was embarrassed by her yowling on the airplane the previous weekend.

Lucy and I got to the airport in plenty of time for coffee and breakfast in the Sky Club on T concourse. Lucy loves to poke her head out of the bag and greet everyone as we walk through the airport. She is beginning to think her name is “Awwww”.

At the gate, Lucy studied the Standby List anxiously. I tried to reassure her that we would get on the flight, but in the end, she was right and the plane pushed back without us. 

We headed for the Sky Club in B concourse for another quick cup of coffee before heading to the gate.  This time we got the LAST SEAT on the flight, literally!  We were the only stand-bys to board and we were in the center seat on the last row.

The flight attendants doted on Lucy and reinforced her new nickname of “Awwww”.  Our seatmate did not seem to share everyone’s infatuation with Lucy. I heard her put her hand over her mouth and say into the phone “I’m in the last row and I’m having to sit next to a dog.”  I wanted to say, “We can HEAR you!” but I let it go.

The guy on the aisle was a dog person so we had a nice conversation. He runs marathons and organizes those mud-obstacle races.

But I digress…

We got to Fernandina and went straight to Paws Awhile.  The cabinets had been delivered and were sitting in boxes.

The first thing I noticed was a chipped tile next to one of the boxes. I guess it happened when they were delivering the cabinets. Of course, I will obsess over that. 

It was a gorgeous day so Lucy and I went for a walk on the beach. I had a little lunch in the condo and caught up on some email. I met a couple of friends at the Surf for Happy Hour and dinner. Just as we were getting ready to order dinner, another couple of friends showed up. We had a great time but I had to duck out early because I knew little Lucy was sitting by the door with her legs crossed needing to go “Hurry Hurry” as we call it.

Saturday morning after a walk on the beach, we drove to the Jacksonville airport to pick up Tony. We stopped by Starbuck’s on the way back to Paws Awhile and by the time we got back to the condo, the cabinet installer was there!

He made quick work out of installing the cabinets. Putting the pantry in was the trickiest because the ceiling was lower in places.

He had this neat contraption that he had invented to be his second set of hands to hold the cabinets while he put in the screws.

After he left, we met friends for lunch at the Happy Tomato. Surprisingly, this is a BBQ place and not a vegetarian restaurant.  The BBQ was good but not competition quality (you may remember that we are certified BBQ judges).

I took a bicycle ride in the afternoon and got back just in time to go to the Oyster Roast fund raiser being held by the Optimist’s Club. It was a bargain for Oyster & Shrimp eaters - $25 for all you can eat – the drawback for Tony is that he doesn’t eat either and they didn’t have anything else – no corn, no potatoes, nothing except Shrimp & Oysters. Oh, but they did serve unlimited beer and wine so at least he had something. We met some fun new friends and were excited to expand our circle on the island!

Sunday, we had planned to head back to Atlanta and go to the St. Paddy’s Day celebration in downtown Smyrna but a quick check of the flights told us that was a no-go. It was just as well since the prediction was for rain all day Sunday. We decided to try for a 3:45PM flight which would give us time to walk down the beach to Sliders with Lucy for lunch.  We love that Sliders is now Pet-Friendly.

After lunch, I spend some time organizing our new pantry!

We didn’t have any luck getting on the 3:45PM flight or the 5PM. It was starting to look like we would have to split up & only send one on the 6:30PM flight. We decided we would send Lucy home with Tony since he has that job to get home to. But, at the last minute there was a no-show and I got on as well.

We rode the bus back to the parking lot with several other non-revs and shared horror stories about flying stand-by. They weren’t really horror stories to us because we LOVE the adventure, but sometimes you’re just tired and ready to get home so I can understand the horror.

Anyway, as I write this, I am on the plane headed back to Paws Awhile so stay tuned for the next installment!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Paws Awhile - Kickin' Up Dust

Finally, the tiling is finished!  We decided to do a quick turn around to Paws Awhile to check it out. The trip was actually dual purpose.  Lola (who is a Florida resident if anyone from Georgia DNR asks) was due for her rabies shot so we made her an appointment at a vet in Fernandina Beach. Lucy would also go with us since she doesn't like to stay home alone.  Tony took Friday off so we could get on an early flight.

Both animals act very excited when we put their harnesses on and get in the car, but that's where their excitement ends.  Lola sometimes gets traveler's diarrhea so we keep a litter box in the car just in case.  She didn't have a problem this time but screamed loudly and hid under the back seat on the ride to the airport. Lucy whimpered quietly and pawed for the window to be rolled down.

At The Parking Spot we stuffed them both into their carriers and got on the bus. Lola continued her yowling until we got to the Sky Club.  Lucy sat quietly, snacking on her biscoff cookies.

The flight was pretty full but we got two seats together.  Both animals were tucked securely under the seat in front of us.  Lucy is an old hand at flying so she just curled up in her carrier and went to sleep.  Lola, not so much.  She screamed LOUDLY on takeoff roll and tried to push her head through the zipper in her carrier.  It was all Tony could do to keep her in the container. Once we got in the air, she was better but she still yowled a few times to let us know she wasn't happy.

We borrowed our friend's car again which was a good thing because this was the weekend of the big car show and there were huge lines at all of the rental car counters.

When we got to the condo, we were very pleased with the tile but everything was coated in sheetrock dust. We set to work getting some of the furniture moved back into the living area from the master bedroom and then I started dusting.

We got a message on facebook from friends who were at the Ritz for the car show so we arranged to meet for a late lunch at Sliders.  We like to go to Sliders because they have a tiki bar that allows dogs.  They had a great tuna taco special and we really enjoyed catching up with our friends.  They stopped back by the condo on their way back to the Ritz. I'm sure our place made the Ritz seem...  well... shabby.

As we were saying goodbye to our friends, we got a text message from some other friends who wanted to meet for cocktails at The Surf.  My my, aren't we popular!  While we were at the Surf, Herb the Handyman called so I ran back to the condo to give him a check for the tile work. When I got back, our friends had left but more friends were joining us and wanted to take us to dinner!

Dinner was at La Mancha.  It is one of the top rated restaurants in Fernandina Beach, but I think the people who reviewed it must be independently wealthy or traveling on an expense account.  They serve Spanish food. It was good, but I have to say that I thought it wasn't worth the price and I wasn't even paying! A bowl of paella (rice, chicken & lamb) for two was $58!  We really enjoyed being with our friends though.  How blessed are we, to have 3 social outings in one day?

With the bedroom cleared out, the 4 of us had plenty of room for sleeping.

We got up early so Lola could get ready for her vet appointment.  We really liked the new vet. She seemed very thorough and Lola got a clean bill of health.

When we got back to the condo, we took the girls for a walk on the beach. Lola did great!  She seemed to really enjoy strolling down the beach and she got lots of attention, much to Lucy's chagrin.  It was a beautiful day.

I did a little more dusting and mopping and then we met our friends at Blue Moon Pizza for lunch.  Thumbs up for Blue Moon! I got a slice and Tony got a calzone.

We stopped into Ace Hardware to get a new filter for our A/C unit.  We were afraid all of the sheetrock dust might damage the unit.

Lucy and I had time for one more quick walk on the beach before we loaded up and headed back for the airport. Lola did great getting through security and sitting in the Sky Club, but on the airplane she repeated the performance from the previous morning. We're going to have to figure out a way to calm her down when she flies.  I don't want to drug her but maybe some homeopathic solution would work.

We're planning to go down again this weekend for an Oyster Roast but I don't think Lola will be invited.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Paws Awhile - Pile of Tile

I took a little break from condo remodel to spend a few weeks at home, but I found myself missing the beach and itching to see for myself the progress that had been made on the remodel.

Since being home, I'd gotten back into my exercise routine at the gym. I didn't want to disrupt that so I didn't leave for the airport until after the 6AM exercise class. It was a particularly hard class so I was already tired when I got to the airport.  I barely had time for a cup of coffee in the Sky Club before heading to the gate.  I sneaked a container of fat-free yoghurt into my backpack to eat with my biscoff cookies on the plane.

I got a nice window seat & the crew did a great job of getting everyone a drink during the short 45 minute flight. I borrowed a friend's car that was parked at the airport in Jacksonville and headed for Paws Awhile.  When I got there, I discovered that the tile work was still only about half done.

The painting was finished and the place was really looking spiffy.  I especially liked the way the walls were tapered in the space for the refrigerator.  Hopefully this will mean that we can open the refrigerator doors a little wider. The way the place was designed with this little cubby-hole for the refrigerator is not optimal, but I have to admit, they crammed a lot of functionality into a <800 square foot condo.

I feel compelled to tell you that we ARE going to have a kitchen in our condo.  I had jokingly posted in an earlier facebook post that we were not going to have a kitchen in the condo because Tony likes to eat out so much.  I have gotten a lot of responses from incredulous people who couldn't believe we weren't going to have a kitchen.  Everyone can stop worrying, we are going to have a kitchen.  The new appliances are purchased and waiting in the guest bedroom for the new cabinets to arrive so they can be installed.

There was really nowhere for me to go with the tile work going on, so I decided to go for a walk on the beach.  It was a little chilly but sunny and clear.  It was great to be outside after some of the cold weather we've had in Atlanta.  

I stopped in to catch up with Gerry, the condo association manager.  She told me the latest scoop. The house next door to the condo complex had experienced a robbery. Someone stole the pitchfork from the Poseidon statue in front of their house.  She also gave me a copy of the local paper - the Amelia Island News Leader. The nature column had a mention of our cat, Lola!

"On Saturday morning the group set off on the beach for a walk while I stayed home finishing some work. And it was better, in a way, that they explored the beach through their own eyes, not mine. I’ve seen the sights and maybe by now I take some of them for granted. But not these visitors. Even though it was foggy, they happily photographed a group of horseback riders, some jellyfish and a rustic driftwood chair. They also encountered a woman walking her cat on a leash along the dunes. The owner told them this was a savannah cat, a breed established by mixing domestic cats with African servals. Apparently these cats are known to be happy walking on leashes and love water. I’ve got to meet this cat and owner! (If you are reading this, please contact me.)"

When I left the condo, I went to Barbaritos to grab a salad and then went over to my friend Nancy's house for the afternoon.  Again, she wasn't there, but it was nice to have a place to go where I wasn't in the way.

I booted up the computer & answered a few emails.  I even did a little travel-agency work. I headed back to Paws Awhile around 4:30PM so I could pay the contractor before meeting my friends at the Surf to celebrate the last day of the month of all-day happy hours!

Handyman Herb handed me a pile of receipts so I could reimburse him for the supplies he had purchased. I did some quick math (that I had very little confidence was correct) and gave him a check. He informed me that he would not be working over the weekend but he promised that the tile and grouting would all be finished next Wednesday.

It was nice visiting with the Withers over dinner at the surf. Mmmm - delicious fish tacos!

I decided to stop back by the Paws Awhile on the way back to Nancy's. I knew I couldn't stay at the condo because I couldn't walk on the freshly laid tile, but I wanted to stop back by and count the remaining tiles to make sure we had enough.

I decided we were going to run short so I made plans to go to Floor and Decor in Jacksonville on Saturday.

I spent the night at Nancy's on the sofa and got up early the next morning to go over to Paws Awhile.  I grabbed a small coffee at Starbucks. (This time I got a small & asked for lots of space for milk.  I wanted to avoid the shakes I usually get from the strong Starbucks coffee.  I took my coffee out to the beach hoping to run into Dan from the house next door so I could ask him about Poseidon's pitchfork but he wasn't out.

I stopped into Paws Awhile to make one more count of how many tiles we needed. I picked up a box with the dye lot number on it so I could make sure I got the same one. It takes about an hour to get to F&D in Jacksonville.  The clerk rang up the tile and then said it would take them about 2 hours to pull the order because that dye-lot was buried beneath several palates of tile.

I went to Best Buy to look at laptops.  Mine is starting to die fairly regularly so I'd really like to replace it before it dies completely.  I don't know what to get, so I had a clerk show me some possibilities.  I really like the hybrid laptop/tablet idea but I have to get used to keeping my data in "the cloud".

When I got back to F&D, they had not started pulling my order yet, but I sweet-talked them into getting it right away.  I wanted to get back to Fernandina Beach in time to go to a variety show that my friends' daughter was starring in.  I grabbed a sandwich at Chick-Fil-A on my way back to the island.  It was a good thing I did, because I would need the strength to lift the EXTREMELY heavy tiles out of the car. Each case of 7 tiles weighs about 60lbs!  I had bought 4 cases.  Fortunately the condo complex has both an elevator and shopping carts so I didn't actually have to carry the tiles very far to get them to the shopping cart.

I finished unloading in time to make it to the variety show.  It was great fun - lots of cute skits performed by the girls.  My favorite was a skit called "The Fudge Shop".

I had time for one more walk on the beach before heading back to the airport to fly home. Again it was sunny and breezy and felt wonderful.

I had time for a snack in the Sky Club before the flight.  I no problems getting a seat on the flight back and watched a beautiful sunset from the plane window on the way home.

Back home, I found I had more construction worries to deal with - our tenants had moved out of the rental house that my sister and I own together. We did an assessment and put together a punch list for all of the work that needs to be done before we can rent again.  It won't be nearly as much fun as remodeling Paws Awhile.  :(