Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 4

Tip # 4: Accept invitations for dinner whenever possible

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Progress Report: The structural beam has been repaired. They have rewired the electric and plumbing and are working on the vent for the stove. Sheetrock is starting to go up and it is beginning to look like a kitchen.

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Nevertheless, there are still no appliances and we are probably many days away from being able to cook in the kitchen. Which brings me to Tip # 4: Accept Invitations for dinner whenever possible.

Even though, technically speaking, I can cook my dinner on the grill, I have not stocked up on all the perishable items that are nice to enhance the flavors and most of my non-perishable ones are packed away. My garden produce keeps on growing, though and it is a shame to let it go to waste. I have given away many pounds of kale, collard greens, cucumbers and herbs. Now the zucchini and green beans are starting to become abundant.

My friends and family all appreciate what I am going through and kindly offer to have us over for dinner. It is a much better option than going to a restaurant or ordering takeout.  I have been showing up with freshly picked vegetables as my contribution to their efforts and we have all enjoyed each others company for a few hours. It is a nice way to step away from the chaos going on at home and an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of maintaining these friendships. It really reminds you that we can’t always do it alone and it is nice to know you have people to lean on when you need it.

I look forward to hosting a kitchen party when it is all done as a way of thanking all my friends and family for their support.

p.s. as I am typing this, appliances are being delivered and cabinets are starting to be installed! More updates tomorrow!



The Importance of Staying Connected

Friendship 7

Friendship 7 (Photo credit: NASA on The Commons)

In this age of Twitter and Facebook, we tend to have a false sense of how connected we are to other people. I don’t care how many “friends” or followers you have. Do you have a friend who will help you when you have a problem? Is there someone readily accessible to you, who will jump in and come to your aid? An unfortunate incident happened to my neighbor and friend yesterday which brought this discrepancy to my attention. It served as a wake up call that we should all take an inventory of our real friends, not just our online connections.

Yesterday evening, she was driving to pick her child up from school. En route, a deer crossed her path and collided with her windshield. Twenty minutes later, my husband discovered her voicemail on our phone. Not knowing what had happened or why she said she needed help, he immediately called back. By then the police had arrived and she had been able to reach another friend for assistance. Her child’s teacher had kindly offered to stay after school until she arrived and my husband went next door to check on her older children. Everything turned out as well as could be expected. Her car was drivable so she was able to retrieve her kid and return home safely. Today her insurance company is coming to replace her windshield and I have offered to run errands for her and pick up dinner.

She is fortunate to have the support of people she can count on- those who could be there to help her if needed. Are we all so lucky? As the Latin proverb tells us: “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. In these times, we all think we can handle it ourselves. We don’t want to burden others with our problem, or we have too much pride to admit we need help. I tried thinking back to the times I have needed help and to whom I have turned.  (I am not including family members, who often live far away, but can offer emotional support on the phone.)

There was the time when my husband was out of town and we received over a foot of snow. I called a friend to assist me in clearing the driveway. He graciously offered to come as soon as he got plowed out and spent over an hour helping we shovel.  Another time, my car battery died in the school parking lot. My child’s teacher spotted us and asked the gym teacher if he had jumper cables. When that didn’t work, she drove us home in her car.  One evening we had to take our son to the ER. I called the mom of my daughter’s best friend. Even though it was a school night, she was more than willing to help by having my daughter sleepover.

On the other side of the coin, neighbors and friends have called us for help. My husband has a knack with repairing things, so he regularly gets asked for advice. He has fixed cabinets or light fixtures and assisted with flooding or car troubles. I have checked on people’s pets when they have been delayed getting home. When my neighbors or I are away, we take turns bringing in trash cans or newspapers for each other.

Over time, relationships change. People move away. Bonds strengthen or weaken, depending on how much they mean to you. It is important to not take friends for granted. Don’t assume that they think about you if you think about them. You have to reach out and connect, at least a few times a year. And you can’t expect to count on someone, if you would not do the same for them. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

So let’s all do a self-assessment of our friendships. Are we being good friends? Have we given clear messages about our willingness to help someone else? Among all the levels of relationships- co-workers, club members, neighbors- do we have an elite group of true friends? If not, it is time to find someone whom you can count on when your need arises. You can’t rely on a tweet from someone in another state or country. You need someone who can pat you on your back and hold your hand. It is not a sign of weakness; it means you are human. You don’t have to handle things alone. Take your cell phones out and make sure you have at least two numbers programmed in, just in case…

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”  – John Lennon

Day 7- Athens: Crowds and Old Friends

This morning we docked in Piraeus, the port city of Athens. The Cruise family, Susan and Kate were in a rush to disembark. We had to catch a train in order to meet up with our tour guide. Mike had arranged a private tour with some local archaeologists to take us around the Agora and the Acropolis. We got slightly lost when our train was detoured to a different stop than planned, but we arrived at our meeting place only a few minutes late. Unfortunately, no one else was there.

Mike spoke with a local shop keeper who was happy to let him use the phone to call our guide. It took over a half-hour to determine that no one had been sent for us and we would have to take the tour on our own. Mike was extremely disappointed, but we all let him know we appreciated his efforts and would make do.  Kate and David had fun running amongst the statues, comparing their heights to the headless figures. Susan and Megan were deep in contemplation over what it took to build these sites; while Mike and I marvelled at how amazing it was that they were still around.


It was getting hot, so we decided to go to the top of the Acropolis before it got any later. Much to our dismay, we realized the crowds were growing large and there was no way to avoid them. The children were very patient and calm, even though we were wedged into a mass of strangers speaking many languages. The adults, however, were secretly panicked. We mentally divided up into partners, each with a child, whom we would protect in the event of a stampede (I know, we all have dark thoughts and worse case scenarios running through our heads). By the time we gained access to the historical site, we were stressed, dehydrated and needed a break. Poor  Kate had been such a trooper standing in line, but at soon as we broke free, she needed to sit down and take some Tylenol for her headache- which had started during the hour-long wait.

Almost at the same time, Amy called us on Mike’s phone. She and Hillary had met up with some old family friends who were visiting relatives near Athens. They had come to the city for the day to take them out to some museums and lunch. When we relayed our misfortunes to Amy, our friend insisted on coming to “rescue” us and bring us to lunch as well. By this point, we had had enough heat and crowds so we did a quick walk through of the Acropolis, took our mandatory photos and actually felt thankful that we didn’t have to stop at each ruin to hear a detailed explanation.


We met up with Amy and Demetrius, a now 60-something gentleman, but just as charming as I remembered. He greeted each of us with a big hug and his signature Greek kiss, one on each cheek. He gave us a local tour on our walk to the museum. He had grown up in Athens and his descriptionof how it had changed was almost more meaningful than seeing the ancient ruins. Demetrius and his wife were the picture of Greek hospitality. They were both so delighted to have us on their turf- although we felt ashamed we had come all the way to Athens to catch up, when we could have seen them in New York.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch- Greek salad, soup, lamb or pasta and a refreshing beer or lemonade to revive us after our stressful morning. We spent an hour talking and exchanging family updates. The children heard stories about their parents and came to realize that these kind people actually knew a lot about them. When it was time to head back to our cruise ship, Demetrius made sure to get us on the proper train with directions to our stop. We all vowed we would do a better job keeping in touch.

It is so wonderful to reconnect with old friends and realize why you were friends in the first place. Now it is up to us to cement that bond, and not just on Facebook. I don’t think eFriends give out Greek kisses, at least not last time I checked.