Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Big Surprise

So why the look of surprise and shock on my lovely wife's face? About March, Sue and I decided to book a cruise to New England to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. A few weeks later my daughter Katy approached me with a desire and idea of surprising Sue with a special gift. While we were on our cruise we would have our kitchen completely remodeled. Being the tighwad I am and having a job that is uncertain, I thought for quite a while about this. Then as I looked at the 25 year old cabinets, the floor peeling up, and the walls a mess I decided to do it. I figure I am either the bravest husband in the world of the stupidest to remodel a kitchen in secrecy from my wife, especially a dear wife that is practically a professional chef. With a lot of faith and a tremondous amount of help from Katy, Brenda, Steven, and Mike we set out on the project.

I had one week to get eveything done but with some planning and thinking I scheduled my annual visit to the New York office to add 3 days. We found a cabinet place that for a reasonable price would sell, install, an demolish the old cabinets. We picked out the style (from a limited choice) but felt confident Sue would like them. Then under pretence took Sue to a granite yard to get her thoughts on what she liked. We spent a lot of time at Home Depot deciding on the floor tile, sink, drink cooler, and other things. All this without Sue knowing about it. We even made a trip to Living Spaces to find the table unit. Sue wanted a high table and chairs so we could have a bar area at the counter. We visited a lamp store and surprisingly decided within 5 minutes of what we wanted, and they were even on sale.

As we got closer we needed to decide on the granite. Katy was able to borrow a cabinet door and we revisted the granite yard. We held the door up to our first choice and it did not match well. The granite we picked out was on Sue's list, maybe #2 or #3. When we held up the cabinet Katy and I knew almost immediately that was the one. We bought a big slab and some left over pieces from another job. It was stored at the yard and Brenda arranged for the installer.

After much deliberation, we decided on the floor tile. We knew how much we needed and the store in Simi Valley (where Brenda lives) did not have enough. We bought what they had and stored it at Brenda's house. When we bought the table there was another Home Depot next door and of course they did not have enough either so we bought all they did have. Then we went to the Home Depot by my house and again they were short. We bought all they had and visited the next Home Depot close to my house. They had the balance of what we needed. We felt the tile went very well with the granite and cabinets. We wanted a darker color since the cabinets and granite was lighter.

I left the paint color up to Brenda, Katy , and Steven. While we were off cruising the kids and BJ, our contractor, worked night and day getting it done. The demolishion happened the day we left. I cannot express the love and thanks to Katy, Brenda Steven, Mike and Danior, for all they did and the time they put forth. I am informed how much work Steven and Mike did working hard until the early morning hours. While we were cruising they were working so hard while we were relaxing and having fun. About five times Sue said on the cruise I looked like I was not having fun. Sue was totally unaware of my worry about what was taking place at home.
When we got home, before we entered the house I told Sue I had bought a special anniversary gift but it did not arrive in time for our anniversary or for our cruise. I walked her in with her eyes closed, told her how much we all love her, and let her open her eyes. She gasped for air and was totally speechless. Compared to what we had before, the project ended up just beautiful. I am still looking for the before pictures I took.
We love you Sue. Happy anniversary.
During the planning, there we many instances of little fibs in order to keep the surprise. I hereby make a total confession including:
1) answers to why Brenda and Katy called
2) fibbing about seeing a big lizard near our backyard storage space. We had items stored in the shed and knowing Sue's fear of lizards if she beleived there was one there she would not go near it.
3) explantions on why I was late coming home from work.
4) explanations on why I needed her car and used her gas
5) explanations on why I visited Brenda's home
6) explanations on why I had to borrow the company delivery van
7) explanation on why I cashed in credit card points for a check
8) statements about "someday" we might be able to remodel the kitchen.
just to name a few

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our Cruise

To celebrate our 30th anniversary we took a New England cruise with our normal cruise line, Princess. We left August 22 out of the Brooklyn port. Boy is Brooklyn a scummy city. We actually flew into New York a few days earlier so 1) I could visit the office in Holbrook (Long Island) and 2) to allow more time for our secret project (post to follow). We were a little worried as hurricane Bill was approaching the New England area.

Because of the hurricane, instead of setting sail at 5:00 pm, we stayed in New york for the night and set sail in the morning for Boston. We were scheduled to first visit Newport, Rhode Island but we had to skip that port to let the hurricane get in front of us. When we did set sale it was a pretty rough ride. All over the ship were roped off "Sanitation Areas", a.k.a. barf zones.

In Boston we took a tour of the historic sites including the Old North Church (1 if by land, 2 if by sea), the old Trinity Church where the Boston Tea Party was started, and various other sites of the city. We really enjoyed our excursion.

We set sail that evening for Bar Harbor, Maine, or as they call it Baa-Habaa. Here we took an excursion into Acadia National Park, and saw the location where one day earlier some people died being washed out by high hurricane waves. We went to the top of the mountain with a nice view of the harbor.

I find as I get older I am becoming more aggrevated with stupid people and stupid questions. At the top of the mountain one elderly lady asked if that was our cruise ship down there. Duh.....I am ashamed but the only thing that came to my mind was to say "did you see any other Princess cruise ships in the harbor when we left."

We set sail that evening for the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Here is where the hurricane ended up and we were blessed with the remnant storm. Not too bad, just a little rain. The Bay of Fundy has the largest tide swings in the world, about 30 feet. When we were there, we passed through a nice village called St. Martins and when we hit the beach the tide was out. We were basically on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Then we set sail for Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were on a photographers tour which was a dud. No professional photographer and we just went to the standard tourist sites with 5,000 other people. We still had a nice time.

We were at sea all the next day one way back to Brooklyn. We had to wait about 5 hours in the airport for our long flight home. During the cruise, Sue kept saying I did not look like I was having fun. Little did she know why (I was all stressed out about what was happening back at home). The best thing about cruising is just being together 24/7. The food is great (and lots of it) and the entertainment, well its a cruise ship. Our waiter really like Sue and I think he was hitting on her. He is lucky I did not deck him.

This was our 6th cruise and we came home to an incredible surprise for Sue.