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The View from My Office – Part 2

Our Dream House is All "Decked" Out!! by Lauralyn Bellamy
Two months ago I naively believed the only thing the deck spanning the back of our home might need before our son’s wedding (June 13th!) would be some pressure washing, maybe re-staining. You can read the horror story of what an inspection revealed.
We hired Larry Doege, the carpenter who has been maintaining, repairing and expanding just about every home on our cul-de-sac street for the last ten years, to replace our rotted decks. He brought his 27-year old son, "EJ," a Coast Guard officer on family leave, and in about 7 days they gave us a truly expansive, new deck.
To save a couple of thousand words, here are some of the pics!
As always, to read captions, pass your cursor over the images.

Good News – Bad News, or – just…News?

Don’t Step Out My Patio Door! (C) Lauralyn Bellamy
We’re lucky to have Larry. In a way, he came with the house. Our DREAM house!
Of course we had an engineer do a long inspection of the then-28 year old home (with multiple decks looking W-NW down our backyard to a 55-acre lake) before moving in. We knew then (Oct., 2005) that the roof would have to be replaced sometime in the next 3-5 years. So we weren’t too alarmed 10 months later, when a hard rain produced a bit of a leak in the living room.
There are only 8 other houses on our cul-de-sac street so we asked our neighbors. Most were original or 2nd owners and most swore by a carpenter named Larry. Larry just about lives on our street going from one house to another – patching, replacing, adding on…
Larry climbed up on our roof as I stood on the living room deck and watched him bend down and poke around. "Lauralyn, we’ve got a problem here that goes way beyond the leak."
"Oh?" I tried to stay open, calm and positive.
"Oh yeah." He stood up and in his hands was a pile of dark, mushy – stuff. "These are your shingles. They’re rotten. I can peel off your entire roof. The whole thing needs to be replaced! There’s mold underneath the shingles, too. I can’t believe your inspector didn’t catch this!" He made these pronouncements walking up and down our gabled roof, picking up and tossing away the gunky old shingles.
"Bad" news? I chose to regard the incident as a blessing – we "caught" the problem before water damage could ruin our piano, furniture and artwork. We chose top-of-the-line architectural shingles in a deep Spruce green that really embraces the tall, expansive trees surrounding our personal sanctuary. "Good" news!
A few days into the project, Larry was at my front door. "Got a minute? I want you to see something." He lead me out and around the east side of our house and pointed to the chimney that now had a gaping 10-inch hole on the side revealing black mold, space and the metal flue. "I don’t know what’s keeping this chimney on your house, Lauralyn. All the wood’s rotten. We’re going to have to take it off and rebuild it."
"What about the other one?" I asked in as neutral a tone as I could muster. There is a chimney on the west side of the house, too.
"Haven’t gotten there yet. We’ll have to see."
An hour later Larry was back at my door. "You’ve got to see this!" was all he needed to say, and I obediently followed him down around the other side of our house. "This one’s even worse! I swear to God, Lauralyn, I don’t know why they both haven’t just slid down to the ground!" Because of the terrain, Larry simply reached up and pried off rotten siding with his bare hands to show me more mold lurking in the empty cave of what I thought was a chimney.
"Bad" news? As if we could cover the $15,000+ cost to give our home a new roof and 2 new chimneys! "Good thing we caught this situation before winter. Imagine lighting a fire in the fireplaces at Christmas and breathing in that mold – shortly before the chimney caught fire…or simply fell down," I told myself and my "spice" (= spouse that’s a blessing), Jim.
By Halloween, 2005 our home was as good as new.
It’s April, 2008: our son, Luke, will be marrying his beloved Heather in June at a special events facility nearby on the banks of the scenic Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia. Might be good to have Larry take a look at our decks to see what needs cleaning, staining, that sort of housecleaning. Larry’s working up the street so I flag him down while walking our greyhound, Rhonda, and he agrees to take a look before heading home that afternoon. It’s a pretty day, the temperature is suggesting Spring may have actually sprung, and the shadows dapple the wall and decks as the Sun begins to favor the far shore of the lake when I slide open one of the 3 patio doors that lead out onto the decks and Larry walks out. We’re both silent as he slowly walks around inspecting the siding, the deck boards, squatting down here, patting the house there, squinting and sniffing and sorting things out.
"Lauralyn come over here and let me show you something." Our decks look like a dumbell stuck on the 2nd story of the back of our house: two spacious squares are connected by a 30-inch wide walkway. Larry is squatting down at the far end of the narrow walk way. His voice sounds sufficiently ominous that it doesn’t feel safe to me to walk over to him. I stay on my end of the walkway. He looks at me to signal I should pay close attention; then he reaches down and his fingernails claw a hole in the floor board.
"This wood is rotten. We’ll have to see how many of these boards need to be replaced. And you see this?" He slightly pivots to his right and pats the base of the siding; except that I can see it isn’t really siding. It’s some kind of thin metal strip that’s been painted over to match the siding and the nail heads have lost their paint. "Rain collects behind this metal strip and God-only-knows what’s behind it!" How did we not see that metal strip before we made an offer? How could the engineer not have seen it during his 5-hour inspection?
"Bad" news? I mean, it’s only money, right? We’ll just put it on the tab we’re running with our home equity loan. Wait a minute; while he’s at it, how much would it cost to widen that part so that we have one, long rectangular deck? That will make the wedding festivities much more gracious.
"Good" news! For about 35% more cash, Larry can widen the deck! He can begin work the first week in May. It’ll take a week. Plenty of time before out of town guests start arriving.
Larry dutifully excavated and poured the concrete foundations for the support beams in early May. He, and his 27-year old Coast Guard officer son, "EJ," began working on the deck yesterday morning (May 21). They worked hard. They worked intensely. By late afternoon all four support beams were up and braced. I thought Larry was at my door to tell me they’d be back in the morning. Instead, it was, "Can I come in? I’ve got to show you something on the deck. Come with me." We walked through the living room and out onto the deck.
"Wow! look at all you’ve got done!" I said, hoping to prevent anything negative from coming at me.
"Thanks. But, Lauralyn, this is what I want you to see. Look at this!" He squatted down where he’d clawed the plank weeks earlier. Now he reached over and peeled away the flimsy metal strip, beckoned me to come in for a closer look, reached into the space and cleared out the rotted sawdust where the side of our house should’ve been. He looked up at me to see if I grasped the significance of what he was doing.
"Lauralyn, it’s like this all along this wall. The wood of the floor boards is rotted, the wood screwed into the side of the house is rotted away and where there should be wood siding for the screw to be resting in, that’s rotted away, too! I swear to God, Lauralyn, I don’t know what has kept this deck from pulling away from the house and just collapsing!"
"Probably the fact that our boys are grown and not running back and forth the way they would have, had they grown up here. I mean, Jim and I come out here, sit down and enjoy dinner by summer sunsets and that’s about it. Thank God you discovered this before wedding guests were celebrating out here!"
He rose slowly and turned toward me, gesturing to the deck I was standing on, then turning to the deck at the far end, reachable through our den.
"The deck off the Master bedroom must have protected that part of the deck, because it isn’t in bad shape. But your whole deck is made of pine. Not weather-treated hardwood, Lauralyn. Pine! The softest wood I know!" As if they were an improv group, EJ grabbed a piece of the deck and proceeded to demonstrate, shearing off the length of it to reveal its powdery, rotten core. Larry swung back toward me dramatically, "But this deck! This deck! It’s a miracle it’s still standing. I don’t know what’s holding it up or onto the house! You’re gonna have to replace this deck entirely. That deck can wait; but, alllllll this (gesturing expansively) will have to be replaced! And we use only weather-treated hard wood, I assure you!"
I remember feeling frozen with fear and ignorance: was it better to stand still or get my self off that deck and into the house? I took a deep breath and met his gaze, "Just give us a number tomorrow morning, OK, Larry?"
Which brings us to today. And the number. And putting it on our tab. And being truly grateful that Larry did discover the precarious condition of our decks so we wouldn’t end up leading the six o’clock local newscast with a story of another party gone tragically awry when the deck folks were socializing on suddenly collapsed.
I can stop our ongoing saga here on a note of "good" news: turns out a portion of roof shielded a section of the metal strip so not quite as much of the infrastructure was rotted away as Larry initially thought.
Thank God.
It’s going to be a beautiful sunset, tonight. Jim and I will enjoy it from the sofa facing the lake inside our den. Just to be on the safe side.
Lovingly sent,
PS Got a minute? Take a look at these pics. It’s a miracle, I tell ya. To read captions, pass cursor over pics.

“PROJECT RUNWAY” ATL-Style; or Fashion Under The GUNN! (c) Lauralyn Bellamy

 [To read captions, click on photo; to view as a SLIDESHOW, go to ALBUMS.]
If you’re a fan of TIM GUNN, meaning you faithfully watch BRAVO-TV’s "PROJECT RUNWAY" and "Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style" –
you already know that he was hired away from the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where he was Chair of the Fashion Design Dept., by Liz Claiborne Inc. LCI created the position of Chief Creative Officer* for Gunn to discover & develop new talent there.
You also know that MACY’S famous 34th Street HQ (the heart of the classic movie, "Miracle on 34th Street", as well as its more recent re-make, plus the Broadway musical, "Here’s Love!") is the place where he brings his TV makeover clients to build a personally stylish wardrobe.
So Liz Claiborne Inc. didn’t have to look far to choose the venues in which to show off their treasured new CCO*. Macy’s Atlanta operation, however, underestimated  his fan base, setting up 200 chairs when over 300 people showed up -and that’s with newspaper advertising that emphasized calling to reserve the (free!) admission tickets. Braving Atlanta’s notorious rush hour traffic to arrive well before the 6PM start time, what lured people in was a promise made in print: EVERY ONE purchasing $100 or more Liz Claiborne merchandise would personally meet "Mister Gunn," have him personally autograph your free copy of his (HC) book, Tim Gunn; A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, aaaaand, be professionally photographed alone with Tim and presented with the 5×7 color glossy print to take home a minute later!!
The line to the escalator leading to the Liz Claiborne boutique formed immediately. Upstairs, Macy’s runway models – a glorious assortment of ages, body types and racial/ethnic groups – not only mingled with fans gunning to rack up their quota of merch, they scurried around helping locate items and get answers to questions!
By the time I made my selections (2 dresses, to be modeled for you next week) 15 minutes later, the line stretched out of the boutique onto the main aisle. I did a quick headcount, timed a few of the meet & greets and did the math. I knew we were looking at a 2-hour journey to The Gunn-man. Not to worry, Macy’s had this affair catered with polished waiters gliding among us offering canapes, mini-chocolate mousse in white chocolate cups, and water-with-lemon in elegant stemware.
In front of me were two friends who were proud to announce to those around them their age – 80!! They became my motivation to stay on line. I mean, c’mon!
I got to watch Tim-in-action and I am here to tell you the man NEVER showed a moment of fatigue, distraction, boredom or judgement. He walked toward each new person, solid eye contact, a smile that telegraphed "Thank you SO MUCH for coming out tonight; delighted to meet you!" and a firm handshake. They would make conversation, he’d write something personal in his book which was held in trust by a Macy’s employee while he escorted each fan to the orange LIZ CLAIBORNE backdrop, put them at ease as they both faced the camera and he delivered another mega-watt smile, before a final handshake or hug. The Macy’s employee then escorted the fan to the photographer’s station where personal items, the gift book and the photo were delivered. There were bottles of water that may have gotten consumed, but I never saw the man pause for a moment!
When it was my turn, I gave Tim one of my "BEFORE & AFTER" color photo postcards. As is usual, it took Tim and LCI PR VP, Gail Garramone, a moment to realize the side-by-side images were both me! They wanted to know more about EMBODY SUCCESS! COACHING SERVICES’ unique method of teaching clients how to stop self-sabotage every time it gets triggered and kept the postcard. They enthusiastically agreed that coaching people on how to diet was fairly simple and notoriously unsuccessful!
Tim studied the postcard and then inscribed my copy of his book. We stepped over to the orange screen, without thinking twice Tim placed a proprietary arm around my shoulders and I slipped my arm around his waist. We happily faced the camera, "got the shot" and mutually thanked one another for the all-too-brief visit.
I followed my escort beyond the roped off area, retrieved my coat, bag, book and photo. It was 9:40PM, the only way out was through a side door leading directly to the parking deck. As a security official held the door open for me, I suddenly felt my aching feet! I hobbled to my car, got in and, only then, permitted myself to open the cover and see what Tim Gunn had written to me. There on the title page, in a bold and exuberant black marker were his words:
    "Lauralyn, Thank you for making it work!! Congrats!! Tim XOX"
I had spent the past 41/2 hours at this event. Was it worth it? You betcha! Baby, it was FIERCE!
Lovingly sent,
Lauralyn!! XOX

Who Could Get Me to Stand in Line for 2 hours?

You’ll get all the juicy details and more photos tomorrow…
But for now, here’s one picture that’s worth at least
250 words!
Lovingly sent,

But Do You Love the REAL Me? (C) Lauralyn Bellamy

As Valentine’s Day approaches, do you find yourself wishing someone special would love the REAL you?
If so, take a moment to read my newest magazine piece by clicking on the title:
The let me know what you think!

But, Are You Happy?

Perhaps the idea of happiness induces insulin shock in your psyche.
Or yearning in your heart.
Or a leap of recognition in your soul.
Or a blank wall…
You gotta read this:  
Then, let me know your thoughts about it! 
PS To read photo captions, pass your cursor over the images.

Movie, “TRANSFORMATION: The Life & Legacy of Werner Ehrhard” is In Your Face!

 As movie premiers go, this one was the un-premiere of the decade. Absolutely no one representing the film was there to greet ticket holders to the tiny theater on West 13th St. off Fifth Ave. The theater was about 70% capacity for the 2pm 1st show of the day. There was no opportunity for us to discuss the movie afterward as we were, literally, hustled out the door to make the room available for the next group. Opportunities were missed.
   I struck up a conversation with the woman behind me and her daughter, in from New Jersey. Turns out Mariella went through the est training in 1970 – when it was still in its formative stages. Her daughter, Julliana, had graduated from the Kids’ Forum and Teens’ Forum programs intends to become a Forum Trainer. Both were enthusiastic about their training experiences and the quality of their lives ever since.
   The movie begins with the trailer you can watch on this blog, and transitioned into the film itself. It hits the ground running and gallops exuberantly through the next 2 hours with ease, power and compassion.
   The documentary delivers value on so many levels:
  • The Whatever-Happened-To curiosity is sated, we not only see Werner, we get a very personal visit with him and his family;
  • What-Is-He-Doing-Now questions are answered as the film follows him all over the globe as he works with (primarily) non-profit groups using elements of the est training to break down the barriers of fear and misunderstanding creating violence in Northern Ireland and Palestine, for example;
  • We watch Werner work with a translater as he delivers an est-like training in Tokyo.
  • Correcting the Reporting Errors – journalists such as Don Lattin, SF Chronicle, Dan Wakefield, Jane Self and others cite the news media’s shameful record of publishing Scientology-engineered smears and IRS slanders and failure to print the later retractions and court-ordered reversals of fact.
  • We meet the key players in the est organization to get not only their firsthand view of the movement, but their reflections on what its legacy  is almost 40 years later!
  • We get to "see" what all the hype and controversy was about for ourselves;
  • We are permitted to learn from people no different from ourselves learn how to live their lives fearlessly with the intention and devotion to celebrate the beauty, nobility and courage of being authentically human – without masks or armor.

What happens to Robyn Symon’s clear-eyed, intimate and totally absorbing film depends on what kind of distribution deals it gets. Ultimately, it will be available on DVD with extra scenes cut from the movie.

If you’d like the movie to play at a theater near you, I challenge you to go to the official website and email Robyn! http://www.transformationfilm.org

This film is always "in your face" giving you the opportunity to let go of your judgements, props and self-sabotage and get a contact high off a program that truly embodied the idealism of the "human POTENTIAL movement."

Thanks for listenning!

Lauralyn, est grad, March "A" training, NYC, 1976

PS Shout out to Randy McNamara! Lookin’ good! You were the trainer for our 2nd weekend. You were awesome then. You’re awesome now!