Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sink Sandwich Season

I'm seeing back to school pictures at every turn. The stores are already filling up with sweaters and coats--never mind the fact that the forecast is calling for 90-plus degree temperatures for the foreseeable future. Walmart has a few sparse shelves of sunscreen deeply discounted, shoved into a tiny corner to make way for the backpacks, notebooks, and lunchboxes. Some might say that summer is over. And to them, I would say: not just yet.

School starts back here in Charlotte in a week and a half, which means it is still officially summertime. And life is too short and too chock full of schedules and rules to let a week and a half of sweet summer just slip away, uncelebrated. It would be ungrateful, and that's simply not Southern. Don't get me wrong: fall is fantastic. We are all looking forward to a break in this unmerciful heat, and those of us with the impeccable taste to be Clemson Tigers are counting the days until college football season kicks off (only three Saturdays to go). But summer has its own fabulousness that shouldn't be forgotten as the calendar marches on; there are some very quintessential seasonal wonders that I have enjoyed to the fullest these last few months.

Particularly in the South, June, July and August mean sink sandwich season. Practically every Friday since Memorial Day weekend, Clint has stopped off at the farmer's market (we are city mice, after all) to buy farm fresh tomatoes for the weekend. Important note: do not, under an circumstance, attempt to make a sandwich with a grocery store tomato. No matter what the signs in the produce department promise (vine ripe, locally grown, local farm fresh), it is not a tomato fit for sink sandwich construction. I now return to my regularly scheduled program. Every Saturday thereafter, we have enjoyed delicious, juicy, run-down-your-chin-and-elbows tomato sandwiches. Slathered in Duke's mayonnaise and glistening with salt, there is nothing more tasty on a hot day than a sink sandwich--unless it's two sink sandwiches. It's happiness on a plate.

Another fantastic by-product of summer is watermelon. I don't even like fruit, y'all, but who can resist a ripe, delectable treat that is also low-calorie? That Diet Coke all chilled and ready beside the watermelon isn't a bad bonus, either. We have eaten at least a watermelon a week for the last few months, and I'm going to miss that treat terribly as the weather cools off. The only real decision to be made is to salt or not to salt...and naturally, since we are salt-shaker-aholics around here, we sprinkle ours just enough to give them a little extra oomph. I'm craving one now, just thinking about it.

I haven't gotten to dig my toes into the sand--yet--this season, but one of the few perks our apartment situation did afford us was access to a pool, which we frequently and thoroughly enjoyed. The most blissful moments were before the cast of characters who also live in this apartment complex joined us and assaulted the senses with all the people watching and conversation eavesdropping sharing that inevitably came with them. A cold beverage, a stack of gossip magazines, and my unparalleled Spotify poolside playlist made for many a relaxing Saturday afternoon. Seals and Croft weren't kidding: summer breeze, makes me feel fine.

Remember, it's not over yet. Spend these last few days barefoot, or tromping around in flip flops when shoes are absolutely required. Eat ice cream (last weekend, we visited my parents' house and my mom had a freezer stocked with Nutty Buddys--how summery can you get?). Savor the smell of chlorine and suntan lotion. Do a cannonball with abandon. Sleep late. I wish you afternoon naps out in the sunshine, days where a t-shirt is formal attire, dinner cooked on the grill, and sink sandwiches made with loaf bread so fresh it sticks to the roof of your mouth. That's what summer is all about, so soak it up just a precious bit longer. And in a couple of weeks, we can start reveling in all that is fall!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Renovation Situation

This week marks the tenth week we've been out of our house while renovating. Ten glorious weeks in this apartment we "love" so much, and so I thought I might update you all on the progress we've made. And the state of our current renovation situation.

First, let's talk about where we are living. I realize I have regaled you with lots of fun details, but I would be remiss if I didn't get you up to speed on how opulent this little apartment continues to be. A new family of neighbors has moved in upstairs, and although I haven't had the pleasure of meeting them, I assume they must be a group of 400-pound giants who stomp around in lead boots. Over the weekend, Clint and I repeatedly asked each other whether the booming noises we heard were thunder, or the giants upstairs. In every instance, the answer was: giants. Our little summer home is serene.

The bedroom here hasn't failed even one night to make us feel like Hansel and Gretel in the witch's oven. Forget being a cover hog while we live at this address--we can't be generous enough in throwing the covers on the other poor, wilting, miserable person all night long. It's like a sleeping version of "Hot Potato." Our little summer home is cozy.

Last week, I killed a roach that was the size of my cell phone. I won't even be coy and call it a palmetto bug, as we Southerners are apt to do. This was an enormous, ugly, cockroach who probably came down from New York City in search of warmer winters and never returned. I could practically hear him say "fuggetaboutit" while I pummeled him with my shoe. I spray for bugs every other week around here; I'm afraid I'm going to exterminate the three of us in an effort to kill all the creepy, crawly, ever present bugs that are also rooming with us this summer. No matter what we do, everywhere I turn, something comes crawling out. The insects around here really want us to be a close-knit community. Our little summer home is infested.

The best part about our little summer home is that it is temporary. And its time is almost up. In the meantime, a nutritionist acquaintance of mine recommended a supplement to help ease these tense times and allegedly promote calmness. I'm taking the recommended dosage, but I'll be honest and tell you that some days it works better than others.

"Supports Calm and Relaxation." Frankly, I'm not sure there's enough of this stuff in the world.
But desperate times call for supplement measures.

As our time here draws to (please, God, please) a close, I still have questions about this charming pied-a-terre of ours that remain unanswered:

Why is the toilet paper holder on the wall across from the toilet--so far away that I have zero chance of reaching it? What do small children do?

How is the dog next door still barking? He has yapped nonstop for ten weeks now and I would think his throat would be scratchy. He is an ever-diligent nuisance/watchdog.

Is the girl at the pool who is approximately 11 months pregnant and wearing a string bikini every Saturday planning to actually give birth in the pool? Is that swimsuit going to burst at the seams? Both of those things seem highly likely. All I ask is that neither happen on my watch. The sheer force of my eye rolls is probably enough to induce labor, after all.

How is it possible that I need an overcoat and scarf to sit on the couch in the den, but spontaneously combust into a ball of flames in the bedroom? This place is 732-square feet--and there are temperature zones?

But enough bragging about our accommodations. Let me at least show you some of the work that's been done at our house.

Sooner or later, friends, this will be our kitchen. And that silver box will be a window. And I can leave these Formica counter tops behind. That will be a good day.

This is our built-in banquette.  One day it will even have upholstery.

See how happy the banquette makes Clint? It will make me happy too, once we can eat there instead of off of the ottoman in our teeny tiny apartment den.

This is the current state of my bedroom. At first, I didn't think it looked very restful or welcoming, until I thought about the sleepless nights I have spent in the oven room here in the summer home. Now, I think that looks like an amazing spa-like dream chamber. Bonus points once there is an actual bed in the room. I may never leave (or at the very least, I'm going to sleep in one morning...I can guarantee you that).

Here is the master bathroom, all retiled and just waiting on a toilet installation (minor detail). Before long, the vanity will be painted, there will be a faucet and shower door and mirror and...wait for it...a toilet paper holder you can actually reach in critical moments. Oh yes, it's going to happen.

Last, but certainly not least, is our new deck. The contractor still has to install the bench seating, but you can just picture us sitting out here around our fire pit, can't you? Now, it cannot compare to the amazing six-foot by six-foot concrete slab patio space we have enjoyed at our summer home, but I think that's the moral of this story. When it comes to 732-square feet of bug infested splendor versus your own home-sweet-home, there really is no comparison. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm pretty sure it's time for another heaping dose of the calm and relaxation supplement. Or two.

After all, who would want to leave all this? In a short, very enthusiastic answer: we do!