The changes on the other side of the galley kitchen have been somewhat simpler.  Most of Phase 2 happened between Thanksgiving and Christmas, because E was adamant that I was not allowed to replace the stove right before we had to cook Thanksgiving dinner on it.

  1. Removed the non-functional and revolting stove hood
  2. Added new lighting
  3. Repainted the accent wall to a much calmer but still cheerful color
  4. Redid the cabinetry as part of Phase 1
  5. Replaced the stove with a new one that believes in accurate temperatures, efficient heating, beeping when it’s preheated, and has a clock that doesn’t constantly buzz
  6. Recessed the stove outlet into the wall so the stove doesn’t stick as far into the room

Phase 2, before (this is actually a very old picture, taken before we replaced the fridge years ago, but otherwise reflects the recent starting point)

Phase 2, after

The new lighting is under the metal channel, and nicely lights the counter when turned on, but is impossible to photograph when lit without looking weird.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering what the weird stick-like things are near the power strip — they’re four popsicle sticks screwed to the front of the molding.  We can prop our cell phones up behind them while they’re plugged into the charging strip, and it keeps the whole mess off the counter.  They can also prop up recipes for easy reference while cooking.


For the last several months, E and I have been working on a long-overdue kitchen renovation.  Somewhere on a kitchen design site I read that, “You should have a mission statement for your renovation.”  At first I thought that sounded ridiculously pretentious, and then I realized that we actually had a mission statement for our renovation.

“We want a window over the sink, instead of half a cabinet.” 

That’s probably not the kind of mission statement the site envisioned.  But after 19 years of banging pots and elbows and heads into that cabinet while washing dishes, it’s appropriate.

We planned our renovation phases so the chaotic portions would happen while M was away at college, since it’s easier to renovate a kitchen when someone isn’t eating in it every 2 hours.  For Phase 1, which happened in September through Thanksgiving, here’s what we did:

  1. Removed shelves above sink
  2. Moved upper cabinet
  3. Extended other upper cabinet to ceiling
  4. Added lower cabinet
  5. Painted cabinet boxes
  6. Replaced all exposed hinges with concealed hinges (this was a huge mathematical and measurement and carpentry hassle, but totally worth it)
  7. Replaced all cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones from CabinetNow (this was also the source of the new lower cabinet box)
  8. Installed a casement window above the sink (this was a day-long extravaganza involving help from my Dad, who did most of the cutting the actual hole in the house.  The window fit in between two of the studs, and it’s a decent width because the house has metal studs 22″ on center.  I was very lucky that the studs were only slightly off-center from the sink, and that all the utilities on the outside of the house weren’t in the way.)

Phase 1, before, inside

Phase 1, after, inside (ignore the temporary countertop on the lower cabinet)

Phase 1, before, outside (I didn’t think to take an explicit before picture so the angle doesn’t quite match the after)

Phase 1, after outside (and yes, I’m darn proud of getting the window installed so neatly into the existing vinyl siding)


The kitchen feels amazingly different. Instead of a cramped dark galley space, it now feels open and light.  We can stand at the sink and wash dishes and look at birds or squirrels or trees or the moon outside, rather than bang our heads on a cabinet.  It’s awesome.

More to come…

Making a mom happy

Two IT managers from my company’s site in the UK came to visit our site, and a few of us gave them a lab tour.  We gave them safety glasses then said, “You don’t really need lab coats, since you won’t be working with chemicals, unless you want to wear them for a photo op.”   At which point, the woman (age about 30) said that her mum had actually asked for a picture of her in a lab!

So we got them kitted out in lab coats and purple gloves, and gave the woman a separatory funnel full of water to hold as she stood next to some reaction apparatus.  And we took a nice photo of her so she could make mom happy. The woman said, “My mum will probably get it framed!”

It’s not totally uncommon for lab visitors to want to dress-up to look like scientists.  But this time we were especially pleased to make it happen, given the mental image of some older British woman proudly showing off the photo – “My daughter went on a trip to the US for work and here she is in a laboratory!”


A general rant

Speaking as the mother of a young man, can I just ask – WTF is going on with the young guys acting out hate in recent days?


A 17-year-old who wants to push boundaries should be coming home half an hour late for curfew (nearly every weekend of his senior year).  Not smashing a glass panel at a Holocaust Memorial.


A 20-year-old who wants dramatic action on the weekend should be getting together with his buddies to watch Game of Thrones.  Not plowing a car into people standing up for equality.


I realize that not everyone grows up in the type of comfortable liberal environment that leads to a summer spent interning at the statehouse, helping to draft transgender rights legislation, among many other things.  (Go, M!)  But it’s still appalling to see how early some lives can be so firmly skewed toward hate.


E and I went into Boston last Saturday for the GLBT Pride Parade, and while sitting on the subway I suddenly realized that it marked 30 years since the first time I went to Pride.

I remember being a nervous and uncertain teenager in 1987, who had somehow found out the Gay Pride March started at City Hall Plaza.  I remember walking up the broad flight of steps to the plaza, and at the top of the steps the whole plaza suddenly came into view, and there was an entire plaza full of gay and lesbian people, right there in front of me!  It was several thousand times as many gay and lesbian people as the 2 or 3 I’d known until that point.  It was the first time I ever had a sense of being part of a community. Or even realizing that a community could even exist.  It was amazing.

It was not all, of course, sweetness and light.  The march route wasn’t lined with cheering spectators back then, but with annoyed or vaguely hostile pedestrians, and very stern police. At least that wasn’t the year I got hassled on the subway heading home from Pride.

Fast-forward 3 decades.  E and I had a blast watching the parade.  We high-fived and shook hands with assorted politicians.  Although we didn’t mange to see our hometown favorite, Senator Elizabeth Warren, we did wear T-shirts that E had gotten by donating to Warren, which said “Nevertheless, she persisted.”  This drew assorted cheers and fist pumps from passing marchers, so there was a lot of Senator Warren love floating around that particular street corner.  And the weather was gorgeous and people were happy and it was just a fabulous day to be out and proud.

Many of the marching groups were tossing the usual assortment of beads, wristbands, etc to spectators.  Back at work the following week, I gave a couple of rainbow wristbands to a coworker whose young-teen daughter had kind of wanted to go to Pride, but felt too nervous about being in a crowd.  And I gave a couple more rainbow wristbands, plus 2 tiny rainbow flags, to a different coworker whose son has spent a while unsure of his gender identity, and for now is going with “cis-gender boy who really loves rainbows and butterflies.”

I absolutely couldn’t have imagined, back in 1987, that someday a Gay Pride March would ever be accepted enough that I’d be passing on beads and rainbow swag to my coworkers’ children.  Or that uncertain children would someday grow up with parents so accepting that they’d bring rainbow swag home.

I feel so very fortunate to be living in this time and in this place.


First, the simple one:






Then, the slightly more complex one:




(Note: professors were eventually admitted to US after intervention by ACLU and a federal judge.)



Just… wow!

Like pretty much any city anywhere on the planet that had a Women’s March today, Boston blew way past the expected number of attendees. Forget the 20,000 that organizers were talking about originally; forget the 70,000 they were expecting as of last night; there were 175,000 of us!

It’s impossible to explain how jubilant and empowering it felt, to be surrounded by so many other people standing up in support of women’s rights, gay rights, black lives matter, immigrants, justice, etc etc etc, and overall standing as witnesses to the importance of equality, dignity, and human decency.

And it’s hard to capture the size of a crowd that large in photos (without using a helicopter), but that didn’t stop me from trying. The corner of Boston Common where the speakers were is a natural amphitheater about the size of a baseball field. We couldn’t even get near it, there were so many people already jammed in. But it’s somewhere beyond the farther line of porta-potties.


We ended up on one corner of the far side of the hill, along with tens of thousands of other people.



Want to feel the vibe a bit more? Here’s an action video, as I swiveled around on the snowbank we were standing on.

From our location, we could hear about 3/4 of Mayor Walsh’s speech; that dude knows how to yell into a microphone. We could only hear about 1/4 of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s, even though the crowd was especially quiet for her. And we couldn’t really hear anyone else. But that was OK. It was enough to cheer enthusiastically with the rest of the crowd.

Eventually the rally portion ended and the actual march began. The crowd ultimately filled the entire mile-long march route, with the first people arriving back at the Common before the later people even started walking.

Foreground shows people marching, background is hill full of people still waiting.

Foreground shows people marching, background is hill full of people still waiting.

There were loads of signs representing the enormously wide range of issues that people feel are important. But I saw one little sign that, to me, captured in a nutshell the collaborative, we’re-all-in-this-together, we’re-all-standing-up-for-each-other spirit that characterized the day.

Queers Against Islamophobia

Queers Against Islamophobia

Because of the huge crowds, we hadn’t even attempted to use the overburdened subway system today; we parked near E’s work, and walked from there. Ultimately we walked 7 miles today.

And every inch was worth it, to have been part of this.