Sunday, May 27, 2012

the bitter end of the renovation

We were cleaning out a bookcase because they are getting ready to paint when I found this book.

I want to read that again, I thought and tucked it into my handbag. Do you see the 2800 written in the corner? That's the second hand price I paid for the book in Costa Rica. Mora Books. There are many things I miss from Costa Rica, dear friends, good vibes (what they call pura vida) and a love and respect for nature that is distinctly absent here in Panama. I also miss Mora Books. I don't even know if Mora Books still exists, but I remember it with tremendous fondess (and honestly even a little bit of longing). It was (and probably is) a great bookstore. I found so many unexpected treasures, there are actually quite a few books on my bookshelf with a four-digit number scrawled on the cover. Books I read and couldn't put back into the Mora Books rotation. I used to take a bag every couple of months and trade them for new ones. Now we have a Kindle and I love it, but I bet I'd be able to find the Fionavar Tapestry books that I've had a hankering to read at Mora Books (they're not on Kindle).

So as I mentioned above they are getting ready to paint. Sort of. The renovation is at that maddening, details stage where everything seems to happen so slowly. The stage of the renovation where my husband and I wake in the darkest hours of the morning and fret. They delivered the new windows on Saturday, but could not install them. I'm not sure when they will be installed... We are supposed to be moving back in next weekend. I hope there are windows and counters. I hope...
 Looks like it will be another fretful week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

running with the girls

My husband took the above picture at the race on Sunday. I like this picture. Me and my girls... we look strong and ready to take on the world, just the three of us. In fact, we've just deemed the porta-johns to dirty to use, and are talking about going home to use the toilet (can you hold it that long etc...) The picture is also strangely empty and is in no way an accurate representation of how the race was. Which was more like this:

But I like that first picture. I think I like it because it is true without being an accurate record of events.

So the race was great. It is fun to run with just women. My daughter did really well. We didn't run together, so I got to watch her cross the finish line and that was a very proud moment. I am not super fast but I really enjoy running in races, and it was nice to share that with her. I don't think she'll take up running, she already has enough going on with swimming, but I think I'll be able to talk her into the occasional 5K. And next year I'm hoping my younger daughter will join us at this race too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

5 observations and little else

beauty all around

  1. I've fallen down the paint colour rabbit hole. I can spend hours messing around with the colour tools on paint and design sites (which is probably a complete waste of time because everything looks different in the paint store, not to mention on the walls). It looks like they will be ready to paint next week so I better settle on my choices, and prepare to live with them.
  2. I'm running a women's 5k next weekend with my older daughter. It's been really fun running with her the last couple of weeks, and I'm really looking forward to the race. She's so strong, and I'm so proud.
  3. My ninth graders are doing a found poetry project, and I explained found art and Dadaism and kinda blew their minds. I love teaching teenagers. They are hungry for ideas and anxious to say their opinions. Opinions that are so new, they are forming as they speak. I get to watch opinions being born and I love it. (Even if their opinions are surprisingly conservative sometimes.)
  4. We have a new route to school from the apartment. We have a short-cut through a creepy passage (well that's what we call it). Anyway, we saw some rats there the other day and my younger daughter, with complete sincerity and absolutely no fear, said awww how cute. They were particularly hefty, healthy looking fellows, but cute? I admired her ability to see beauty and told her about garbage and disease. She still thinks rats are cute. I love that she's not a squealing sissy, but I have to admit, I find it a little weird.
  5. Santigold has a new album with songs like this, that are perfect for running and busting your butt at the gym:

I think I'm going to get a slow cooker. So look for a working-mama type recipe in this spot next week.

the creepy passage

Monday, May 7, 2012

the kitchen in progress

Mowgli hanging out on the accent mosaic
So our kitchen is well under way. The tiling should be done by Wednesday. It's pretty exciting to see it come together.

Our house, which was built in 1977, had the traditional Panamanian Kitchen lay-out. That is, an enclosed kitchen with maid's room and bathroom. This kind of kitchen was designed with a maid in mind; a maid who cooks and lives in the kitchen. In it's favour, this design also keeps the heat of the kitchen separate from the rest of the house. For me, as someone who loves cooking and hanging out in the kitchen (and as someone without a full-time live in maid) this design is not ideal. Also the bathroom in the kitchen was the maid's bathroom and I'm sure, had the original 1977 fixtures. It was not a nice bathroom, and was the only bathroom downstairs. I wanted a nicer more practical downstairs bathroom and an open kitchen.
So we've opened the kitchen and changed the maid's room bathroom configuration. We kept the maid's room because it is a standard feature in Panamanian houses and our maid does sleep over once or twice a week when I teach at night. But our kids are getting older and soon this won't be necessary, and the little room can easily be converted to storage or pantry in the future. The bathroom opens to the entrance hall of the house, and it has a connecting door to the maid's room. So now the bathroom can serve as a powder room.

The tiling is almost finished in the kitchen. We are tiling with large whites tiles and mosaic on accent walls.
This reno is something I've been dreaming of since we moved into the house. I've had some misgivings about changing the very traditional, kitchen-maid's-room configuration (will any Panamanian buy a house with an open kitchen?). But in the end, we decided that we should renovate to our own needs.

Next week I should have some pictures of the bathroom.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

5 observations and no recipe

  1. We are pretty used to apartment life. Which is a good thing because we will be here two more weeks than planned. We are used to it, but I can't wait to get back home. The apartment's default smell is feet and I'll be honest, it bothers me. No one else seems to notice it, and I'm not into artificial air fresheners so I'm not really doing anything about it. But every time I open a closet, or even the kid's rooms after a day of being closed up, I am hit by a wall of yucky feet smell. I want to go home.
  2. On Monday, my quads killed! I have never been so sore from a race. Heels were pretty much out of the question for me all week. I taught all my classes standing up because just the thought of going from sitting to standing made me wince.
  3. We picked out all the tile for our reno las weekend. It was nerve-wracking and exciting and it took way longer than we expected. This weekend is all all about sinks and toilets. Wish me luck! I'll try to remember to take some pictures of how everything is going and post them on Monday.
  4. We are on another long weekend because Monday is a day of mourning for a dead ex-president. The kids are thrilled and I'm hoping we can get lots done.
  5. As a long time fan af the Beastie Boys, I was very sad to learn of Adam Yauch's passing. He seemed like a particularly decent human. Rest in peace MCA.

I have no recipe this week. I have been trying to make a decent chocolate cake in the rental kitchen with little success, well really with no success. The other night my daughter said, "this would make the perfect prank cake; it looks really good but tastes really bad." Too much baking soda (I don't have any measuring cups or spoons) and too hot an oven resulted in the grossest chocolate cake possible. I'll let you know if I get it right.