Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 2009 Live Oaks Awards, Part 2

Yesterday I discussed some of the highlights of my year. I continue that discussion today.

Home Remodeling
In keeping with my long held belief that if I am not engaged in some form of home improvement project then the world--or at least Home Depot and Lowes--will face imminent financial collapse, I remodeled three rooms in my house this year. These projects included re-texturing and painting the walls, putting new tile in our laundry room, replacing nine doors, replacing light fixtures, and building a new dining room table. The highlight is our living room, which features faux bricks and a new laminate floor.

My wife was initially unexcited about my idea to create an "old world" look with faux bricks and broken plaster, but she warmed to the idea after I did a number of samples. She pointed to one "brick" and said, "I like that one. Can you make them all look like that?" I realized that I was heading for weeks of agony attempting to create the look she wanted and suggested that she be responsible for painting the "bricks". She eventually spent dozens of hours on that project, and the results are spectacular. And our new sofa turned our formerly drab living room into a very enjoyable area of our home.

Real Estate
When the year began our goal was to own four rental properties by the end of 2009. Despite our constant and diligent efforts, we entered November with zero properties and we were wondering if we would own any. Our perseverance paid off, as we closed on two properties during November and will own a third in early January.

Mother's Day
In May I visited my mother for Mother's Day weekend. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew also made the trek to Ohio, which made for a wonderful weekend for all. Shortly after arriving we took a walk in the woods behind my mother's house in search of morel mushrooms (pictured to the right are two that we found). After some time my mother announced that she needed to return to prepare dinner. Being the experienced city-slickers that we are, we assured my mother that we could find our way back. It wasn't like we had wandered for hours into some dark, forbidding forest.

It soon began to rain, a development for which I was not properly dressed. We started back to my mother's but soon found ourselves in unfamiliar territory as the rain increased in intensity. Wandering rather aimlessly we managed to lose my nephew for a short period of time. We came upon an old farm house that we knew was not anywhere near my mother's house. It was at that point that we officially declared ourselves lost. None of us had our cell phone--we thought we were just taking a casual stroll through the woods--so we had to rely on our wits to return to civilization.

We eventually stumbled back to my mother's neighborhood, cold and wet. A kind neighbor gave us a ride back to the welcoming arms of our worried mother, which was fortunate because we were more than a mile away. My mother had been concerned, and was curious why she hadn't seen us emerge from the woods. "I was afraid that you got lost," she said. After feigning indignation at such a suggestion, we confessed and everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

On Saturday the Phillips brothers prepared a barbecue feast for my favorite aunt and uncle. My uncle is always a delight to be around. He has always been a "tinkerer". He flies radio controlled airplanes, rebuilds old farm equipment, and has built a few cars from scratch. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about him is the enjoyment he gets from these activities. It is an enjoyment that he can't contain and it is very infectious.

The weekend concluded with us cooking Mother's Day dinner . The meal featured steak, sweet potato fries, roasted vegetables, and morel mushrooms. It was one of the best meals I had all year, and to prepare it for my mother made it even more special.

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