Missing Island

My kitchen island has gone missing.

Not like actual missing. James and I aren’t frantically putting a picture of it on milk cartons.

However, on any given day, just finding the top of the island can be a bit challenging.

When we were designing our Kitchen, we were very conscious about not just wanting an island but really needing an island. After 10 years with a galley kitchen with minimal counter space, we were looking forward to being able to cook at the same time without stepping all over each other. And, of course, to having room to spread out when Christmas came around and we went into our annual cookie-making frenzy.

But for me, Christmas doesn’t really count when it comes to just locating the island countertop. Or when company is coming and the only thing sitting there is a bowl of fruit. (Who are we fooling?)

Most days you’re likely to find a small stack of magazines. Some mail. Maybe a vegetable or two still in the bag. And multiple candles for some reason. And I shouldn’t be too surprised that the island has become the catchall. Everything used to wind up on the dining room table.

We do have a couple of placemats at the end of the island where the barstools are. Because like all my clients, we’re going to sit there and eat. Except I can’t say we ever have. I’ve used the island for work. It’s a perfect place for rolling out drawings. Or to wrap presents. You know. All the things an island is intended for.

On second thought, maybe I do need a milk carton.

 

No One Said

I’ve been corresponding with an architecture student for the last few years following a chance meeting at the AIA conference in Orlando. He’s involved in a co-op program, so he’s been working off and on while pursuing his degree – well on his way to becoming an architect.

Except his most recent e-mail indicated his career trajectory was taking what most people would consider a turn for the worst.

At some point this past fall, during his study abroad semester in Germany, he reached the conclusion that he really didn’t want to be an architect. That despite his best efforts, architecture is not for him.

Did I mention he graduated in May?

I’m not sure how his parents are going to feel when he makes that announcement. However, I must give him props for not completely freaking out the moment he had the realization. Four plus years of school and work (or more) only to realize you should be doing something else? Most people would be devastated.

Except no one said he has to be an architect.

And that’s the hidden secret behind an architecture degree. So many opportunities are available that don’t follow a traditional architecture path. Off the top of my head I was able to mention three people I know that do anything but architecture with their degree.

Furniture design. Set design. Stained glass art. Videography. Business development. Computer animation. All are possible with an architecture degree.

And the list goes on and on.

If nothing else, he’s created a mindset that will see the world in different terms, no matter what he decides to do. He will appreciate the beauty of the environment he is in. And hopefully, his architecture background will have an influence in whatever he decides to do.

Besides, no one said he has to be an architect.

Although I’m sure his mom and dad would probably appreciate it.

Creatures of Habit

Larry takes a visit down memory lane and explores the reality of what happens when you grow up – and what happens when the things around you grow up also.

Friends know that if you want to find James and I in New Orleans, you look in Café Lafitte in Exile. Prior to taking up residency there, you could find us at Bourbon Pub. (But alas, that ship sailed.)

And the same holds true for when we’re in Key West. We are creatures of habit. So much, that even at different bars, you’ll find us in similar locations.

On a corner of the bar. Usually with the same bartender. And with a good view of a go-go boy or two.

Looking back, I hadn’t really thought about where we were going when we went out in Dallas. All we knew was that we didn’t want to spend the weekend in our apartment in Addison. Consequently, every Friday and Saturday, if you wanted to find us, you only had to go as far as the old Village Station (now S4 – don’t get me started).

We learned quickly that we didn’t need to stand in line waiting to get in for free. That $6 was well worth coming early and enjoying our drinks. And guess where? On the corner of the front bar, with Bruce the Bartender, and a good view of the dance floor.

But buying a home does something to you. You trade the bar corner for the living room couch. And not with a good view of a go-go boy, but with a great view of the TV. And the cover charge and cocktail money is suddenly going towards new furniture.

And like creatures of habit, that’s where we’ve pretty much stayed.

So I was a little hesitant – okay, a lot – when a friend suggested I go by and check out the “new” TMC (The Mining Company) located here in Dallas. TMC is one of four bars owned by Caven Enterprises and has recently become the established anchor of the gayborhood.

First, I had no idea that there was anything new about TMC – which has been around long before I started going out. Plus, I still have some fond memories of the old one-story TMC behind JR’s and some bitter ones of when they turned it into the two-story monstrosity that eventually became Sue Ellen’s.

However, when we walked in, TMC felt like a bar again. Pretty straightforward. And pretty crowded. More so than I had seen in a long time. Or perhaps it’s just been a while since we’ve been in. The redesign of the main bar embodied the aesthetic of the gay bars of the modern era – lots of lights, illusions and shiny objects to keep you happy dancing well into the night.

But like a creature of habit, I found the corner – the one with a view of the dance floor, a view of the go-go boys, and over time, a bartender to call my own.

Now if we can just get out of the house, you’ll know where to find us.

Anyone want a cookie?

I would like to say we wanted more space just because we like to cook. However, based on how the island looks when we get ready to box up everything, I really think we both had Christmas in mind.

December for most people means time for the holidays. Parties. Shopping. Decorating. Seeing family if you’re into that sort of thing.

But if you’re a member of our family, or a close friend, December means something different.

Cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

I’m not sure when or how the tradition was started, but this time every year James and I are diving off into cookie-making. Last year we started mid-November (thank you Mr. Freezer!) but usually right after Thanksgiving we’re pulling together the list for the year.

And by list, I mean LIST. Most years we have around 30-odd recipes, most being made in double batches. Old favorites. New recipes. Repeats from the previous year and requests from individuals. There’s always sugar cookies for my sister. Fudge for my step-mom. And cake balls for my niece.

This year of course is no different. And like every year, I’m amazed when James comes home from the grocery store toting in supplies. I’m secretly terrified about the amount of butter and sugar we go through.

What’s more amazing, though, is that we used to do this in an 8-foot-long galley kitchen. I’m not sure how we fit everything into the space. Or how we did the measuring, pouring, mixing, and baking without killing one another. But somehow, we managed to turn out a ton of cookies.

Which made a larger kitchen and a large island all that more important when we did the renovation. I would like to say we wanted more space just because we like to cook. However, based on how the island looks when we get ready to box up everything, I really think we both had Christmas in mind.

And what better way to use an island?

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Picture Perfect

I’ve decided I want to be half of an Instagram couple.

As I’ve been working to increase my social media output (hello blog!), I’ve become hyperaware of gay couples with magnificent Instagram accounts. And not just anything ordinary, but photos showcasing their fabulous lives.

And houses.

And vacations.

And abs.

My favorite photos are the ones where they’ve just woken up in the morning. Someone’s only in his pajama bottoms. Hair lightly tousled. At the stove making quinoa pancakes. Because don’t we all look like that in the morning?

IG: @saul_james_composer

I imagine instead someone getting a snapshot of me in the morning with my hair not so much tousled as looking like I was caught in an F-5 tornado. One eye open. Sneaking a leftover nacho out of the fridge for “breakfast.”

And who’s taking these pictures anyway? Because that’s the life I really want.

Imagine waking up in the morning with someone to do your hair, style your pajamas, and lightly touch-up your face. Then the photography crew downstairs with their equipment to capture every “spontaneous” moment of the day.

Someone dressing you for work. Following you around to get more shots. Not letting you get a moment’s peace because you have an audience to maintain and advertisers to please.

And that next shot just might be the one.

On second thought. Maybe I’ll skip the Instagram couple idea.

Does anyone have an old Polaroid?

In the meantime, check out Spotted Dog’s Instagram and let us know what you think. 

The Road to Renovation Redux – Part 9

Still Married

As we’ve been getting closer to the end of our project, James and I have been reviewing everything that’s transpired since last November. We congratulate ourselves for making our way through without ending up in a psych ward or at the Betty Ford Clinic, forced to participate in primal scream therapy with Lindsay Lohan!

I have shared some of those events in previous blogs (James’ temporary assignment to London.  Our hectic travel schedules during construction.)  However, one item has been omitted until now.

In mid-October 2013, we decided after nearly 18 years, to fly off to New York and get married at our friend Will’s on our anniversary date – November 3rdWedding RingsWe certainly didn’t know at the time that we’d be kicking off a year of stress.  A year of moving residences three times, moving offices once, saying farewell to not one but both of our basset hounds, and traveling what felt like the globe.

However, we’ve managed to accomplish one feat above everything else (and no, it’s not staying out of Betty Ford!).  We’ve managed to stay married.

Multiple articles in the LA Times, Huffington Post, and the New York Observer have been written about home remodeling ending in divorce.  And most of us have probably seen The Money Pit (or for the older readers, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House).  However, James and I went into our renovation with what felt like two advantages: 1) 18 years of being together; and 2) Having experienced this before where we actually did some of the work.

Not that the first time was all hugs and kisses.  Anyone who has been through a renovation can tell you how personal the experience and outcome are.  But when you’re swinging the hammer that’s hanging up drywall, you get really invested in the process.  Yet, as much as we both at times wanted to accidentally have a hammer slip, we made our way through and ended up with a Kitchen and Living Room we enjoyed for nearly 10 years.

And we expect to enjoy this renovation just as long if not longer.  We’ll move in the 10th and start settling into the more normal marital stresses – like having James’ parents in from Colorado for Thanksgiving.

Luckily this year we’ll have a proper guest bedroom and bath, and a kitchen big enough for more than two!

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