at the lakehouse

one of the most remarkable changes i saw this summer was during my visit to the lake. my best friend from childhood had a bunch of us out to her parents’ lakehouse near gun barrel city, texas.

it had been exactly 4 years since i’d been there. at that time it had been less than 6 months since her mother passed away from cancer. the house hadn’t been updated since her parents built it in 1971. the dock was in disrepair. the boat was not functioning. there were heavy drapes, vertical blinds, and banana yellow carpeting.

her father remarried. his new wife took charge of the updating. inside the house felt fresh and vibrant. hardwood flooring replaced the carpeting everywhere but the living room floor, still undecided and bare concrete. i recommended sealing the concrete. the heavy drapes and vertical blinds are gone. the dark wood painted white. a new dock was built. waverunners and a new boat were added. a fire pit. a huge storage shed that is completely organized. it was reminiscent of a brady bunch reunion. where everything is sort of the same but entirely different.

not sure why i didn’t take any pictures of any of these changes.


my friend’s dad built these awesome bench swings. this one used to be in the yard, now it’s on the upper level of the dock. it says waistin’ time.


it was so lovely spending time floating around off the dock. because of the drought, the lake was 6 feet lower than normal.


this is the hootin holler. a must stop when visiting gun barrel city.


fireworks from the fire pit.


this area was completely overgrown with ivy last time i visited.


remnants of fireworks the next morning.


lakes are so peaceful in the morning.


i had never seen the pool table before because it was always covered and always had things on top of it. apparently it’s in need of repair, but since it’s an antique the repairmen didn’t want to take the chance of  damaging it. my friend’s father said he’d be dead when it’s taken out of the house. i’m glad he put his foot down.

the worst part is the person next door who owned 3 lots died. the lots got split. 2 mcmansions were built and a tiny slice with trees is left between their house and the mcmansions. if someone builds on the lot it will ruin everything.


cutting chi

sharp edges are painful, especially when you bump into them; but they can also create discomfort subliminally. we have some cutting chi in our apartment and here are some solutions i used:

this desk is situated in a corner. it creates an elevated surface for plants, storage space for a window unit during non-summer months, and storage for extra potting materials.

notice the bare corner, which cuts directly through the center of the round table where we gather. (and directly through the back of the person sitting in seat closest to it.)

by hanging a piece of cork (left behind by my roommate who moved out, thankfully, because i love it) to cover some of the surface area and moving the plant forward so that its leaves cover the remaining edge, the cutting energy is diminished.

another spot with a similar issue :

the edge of the desk in the studio cuts directly across impacting the other two seats at the table where we gather. fortunately, curtains are already in place. they just need to be adjusted so the corner is covered from view.

the remaining issue: the edge on the small white bookcase. i want a plant to cover it, but it’s not quite there yet. it will grow.

mirror magic

when i moved into this apartment, a mirror hung in the hallway by the front door.  the front door is actually in the middle of the apartment.  stairs leading to it create a missing space in the career area of the apartment.  when one of my roommates moved out, i hoped she wouldn’t take the mirror with her because i didn’t want to have to buy a new one.  i knew we needed a mirror to “cure” the missing space.

while she left the mirror, she did take her beautiful paintings. one of them, a large one, which covered one of the walls in the living room nicely.  a month or so after her exit, we still hadn’t come up with something to fill the space.  i got to thinking about the missing space in the career area and the mirror.

hanging in the hallway, the mirror reflects a closet door.  the hallway is only 2 1/2 feet wide, so it’s sort of a waste of a large mirror.  moving it to the wall where the large painting once hung, the mirror reflects the sliding glass door (large windows) and a bunch of plants (life).  it also reflects the large open space of the living area, giving the illusion that not only is there no missing space in the career area of the apartment; it is filled with life, light, and open space. it reflects the whole world outside the apartment.  (really just the building across the street and some sky…but still…)

(it’s difficult to see the plants in the photo.  i’ll take a photo in the daytime with my SLR. )

the change took a little getting used to.  at first it was a little disorienting seeing the reflection in what used to be sort of dead/dull space.  it really activates the space.  i enjoy seeing what it reflects when sitting in the living area.  i also notice a difference in how i feel when i walk down the hallway.  it was like i was trying to avoid knocking into it before, now the hallway feels clear.  needless to say, i’m kind of proud of myself and happy with the transformation.

and here it is in daylight:

still difficult to see the plants, but the mirror sees them!

i suppose it could be a double edged sword:  reflecting the table where i sometimes work, doubling the work…but i think the benefits outweigh it.  the work i do here is enjoyable, so doubling it may not be a problem.


had some family visiting over the weekend.  they wanted to go to the WTC memorial.  hadn’t been down there since it opened up last year.  it’s really quite beautiful and mostly quiet.  obviously quite sad.  i think it will be a much nicer place to visit when it’s opened up  and the trees and grass have matured.  as it is now, you have to go through a maze before going through security. eventually i think you’ll be able to enter from the street, maybe once all the buildings on the site are complete.

i couldn’t help googling the names of the people listed in the photos.  bennett lawson fisher worked for fiduciary trust company international.  he was only 58.  he had two kids and a wife.  judith berquis diaz sierra and emy de la peña were best friends.  they were only 32.  emy had a 1-year old baby girl.  robert mattson worked at the WTC when it was bombed in 1993.

godwin forde’s daughter arrived from london to come live with him in brooklyn just 9 days before he died.  he worked as a private security guard for merrill lynch.  brett frieman was only 29.  he didn’t even work at the WTC, but had been staying at the marriot close by and maybe went to help.

it’s definitely a somber place.  so difficult to fathom the horror that took place here 11 years ago.

james rathkey was a handsome man who had a wife and three kids.  he was in the south tower when it collapsed.  there’s an article in ny magazine about his daughter emma.  2,752 children under 18 lost a parent that day.

i’m glad they didn’t build skyscrapers on this sacred ground where nearly 3,000 people met horrific deaths.  i think the design by michael arad, “reflecting absence” is fitting and appropriate.  the negative spaces clearly communicate absence, what so many people were left with afterwards.  the sound of the water is peaceful.  the way all the names are listed reminds me a little of the vietnam memorial.    from a distance, the walls of the waterfall remind me of  the old towers.

sacred space by the sea

recently while walking by an old famous cemetery, a presumptuous friend commented she couldn’t believe people actually go to a cemetery to connect to those who have passed.   while it is not necessary to go to a cemetery to connect, the spaces do provide solace.  and people who find solace in a cemetery are not any less because of it.  walking through this cemetery in brewster, massachusetts you can see why people find these places special,  how people find comfort in having a semi-permanent altar space for those who are no longer grounded on this earth.

i love that people leave sand dollars and starfish.

and clam shells.

this girl was only 10 when she died.  i couldn’t help but wonder if she drowned.  morbid, i know.

don’t let food rot in your fridge!

when multiple people share a refrigerator, it can get neglected and out of control.   this one had food rotting in it.  we emptied it, cleaned the shelves, and filled it with the remaining items.  about half of what was inside was discarded.  total transformation.  what was once clogged is now open and accessible.  time spent:  < one hour.