Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Keep 'em coming, please, bring me all the joys.

Most of you already know family means everything to me.  I realize as I write it that it sounds a bit smug.  I mean, after all, family means everything to you, too, right? I don’t have a corner on the market when it comes to loving family, and family time.  Just want to get that out of the way – I feel you.
We share this.  I know.  I don’t write about my love of family to place my experiences above your own, but, rather to strike common ground.  Above all else, our love of family unites us, at least I think so, and that’s why I write, and that’s why you read.  Love you, I do!

Of course, every family’s experiences are unique, as unique as each one of us.  I have much in common with many family members and friends.  But, I also appreciate the unique characteristic of each of those groups and individuals.  I have friends raising their kids and celebrating on the beach, or in the desert, mountains and hills, frozen tundra, forests and woods, and deep, tropical oasis.  Okay, that last one is a stretch.  I don’t think I know anyone in a deep tropical oasis, or under the sea for that matter, but it could happen.  You get my point…we are all doing it different, and all doing it the same.

Probably like most of you this is the same reasoning behind liking and using Facebook.  I mean, it is an easy way to keep in touch, to experience life that is just a bit different than your own.  Maybe even imagine yourself in a new setting or town, what you would do.  A friend of mine who was visiting the east coast last week posted a picture of a buttered lobster roll.  Now this has made me want a buttered lobster roll ever since.  Hubs and I started talking about an east coast getaway in the spring or fall of 2018, I will salivate for a lobster roll until then, I suppose, but I wouldn’t have had that motivation or start making a plan without that picture.  No matter what you think of Facebook it does have its way, doesn’t it, of bringing you something new to think about, and bringing your friends and family just a bit closer.
So, I have been one of those who has blocked people, hid advertisements, failed to reply to a message from someone, even declined a friend request or two and, I’ll admit it, I’ll continue to do so.  It’s how you refine what Facebook delivers. On the other hand, I love seeing pictures, families together, I do get some news from Facebook and it is how I find out about sales or places to visit and what the specials are at my favorite little bar and grill.  I post my blog updates on Facebook and I know I have gained some readers this way.
I get lost in Facebook, too, and that’s a habit I try to keep at bay.  I also get mad and irritated at the things I see posted there.  I move on.  I don’t take bait, usually, but oh, boy, there are times I want to throw myself in the middle of something.  Try not to, people of mine, try not to.  It won’t get you where you think you want to be…at least, I haven’t seen it work that way yet. But, oh the good, the great, of Facebook. 

Last week, my sister-in-law traveled to the Pacific Northwest with the surviving 8 of her 10 siblings.  I didn’t know them as kids but, wow, what a house that must have been.   I have seen them all together only once or twice over the last 40 (OMG! Seriously? 40?) years.  There are a few pictures posted on Facebook of their “reunion”.  To see them together brought me such a joyful moment, one of those times when my heart truly felt a warmth, a glow.  Without this digital social media thing I don’t know when I would have the opportunity to see them all together again, even in pictures. Thanks for sharing that, guys. Another post this week of a friend celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, the joy on her face in her family picture…when she, finally, had them all in one spot, all ready to smile and to gather around her table and to stop for a moment to get that great shot.  These are the joys in life, the joy of family and yes, the joy of Facebook.   

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A small and quick review.

Early this morning, when I couldn’t get to sleep and REALLY REALLY did not want to fall prey to the calling of Amazon and it’s thousands of products, I began sorting through pictures.  I recently backed up all my photos on this computer to Google images, because someone mentioned it was a good place to do that, so I did.  I have no opinion on this one way or the other, but, that’s what I did.
So I started organizing pictures, particularly the home remodeling pictures.  Now, you have all been so patient with me and my remodeling stories, and kept reading when others may have said “Enough with the remodeling stories already”.  I may have come close to burning you out, but, you stuck with me.  Thank you!

This is not to say we are done.  Oh, heck no.  There are so many more projects, on all four sides of the house, that have yet to be done, but, happily, they are more along the “final touch” projects as well as some pretty serious landscaping here and there.  It’s good, though, and I am glad.

Last night as I went through pictures I realized we have done a tremendous amount of work, and a lot of it was not in the original plan which was something along the lines of "Hey, lets add a screen porch".  It’s hard to think about when you are in the middle of it, but, we took on some major projects.  Luckily for us the bedrooms and the bathrooms didn’t need to be touched so that side of the house was largely uninterrupted except that it became storage central for everything that was coming out of cabinets and rooms.  Of course, now I want to paint those bedrooms…

Anyway, here are just a couple of pictures of the house before and the house as it is today.  We still have to decide on stairs and a railing system for the deck, and skirting under the deck and finishing off the overhangs on both the roadside and the driveway side, but, the structure is there.  It’s been a year.  A satisfying and scary year, with more ahead.  

 Woods side 2016 
Lake side July 2016
Lake side 2017
Woods side 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't beat it!

That was a week that was, I tell you.  Glorious weather, smiling faces, family visits, celebrations, reminiscing and restoring.  I cannot put into words how wonderful the last few days have been.  Even though I have tried to turn it all around in my head, it still doesn’t seem real.  It certainly doesn't feel like it should be over.  I have really focused on every part of every moment of the last ten days or so, to fully appreciate ALL of it and my heart can only hold so much, and then so much more.  To recap it all would take more than I have in me, really, but some highlights follow…

Our holiday here at the lake started with our granddaughter’s solo visit.  We had each other to ourselves for a few days before the actual July 4th holiday and she was a dream visitor ~ helpful, agreeable, laughing, somewhat tidy, sleepy, relaxed.  She enjoyed boat rides and “fancy drinks”, ate whenever she wanted and slept around on the couch or the wicker bench on the screened porch, sometimes reading, sometimes just daydreaming.  It was everything.
Her mom and dad, aunt and uncle and the rest of the grands started arriving over the weekend and began filling up the house with noise, activity and laughter.  My sons-in-law let me boss them around like a jailhouse guard ~ I snapped orders out like it was my job.  They cleaned, they painted, they walked around with a screw gun or a hammer, hanging stuff wherever I pointed and grunted.  I love those two men, I really do.  When they weren’t busy helping hubs with the chore of the day, they were helping me.

My girls.  They always come ready to work.  Babies to chase, dishes to wash, lunches to prepare…trips to the grocery store (maybe to escape?) and anything else I scowl at them.  I know when I am getting ready for a party or gathering I am not the most patient; those two get me and just jump in. Could not do it without them.
The house and yard is about 85% ready for a party like we had over the fourth, and the party the next day, and the next day and the day after that. We hosted and boated, filled the yard with family and friends and had the best times.  The parade, the party, the bonfire and watching fireworks…it was all golden, and like a dream.  Wonderful food, the big bowl of popcorn, incredible family and friends. It was hot, the bugs were largely at bay, the bonfire, the firecrackers…all of it…nothing but joy.

Things got quiet the next day or so and the kids started heading back to their homes.  Following the fourth we kept the two five-year-old grandsons for a couple days.  You never know what you are going to get with a five-year-old away from home, and we were gifted with two of the best ~ loving, well-behaved, obedient to a degree, confident, comfortable…they were such fun.  We boated at a sunset that should be listed in the dictionary as what a sunset is; a sunset boat cruise of all time.  I took them swimming, they laid in the grass and talked big dreams with each other, spent hours on the swings or in the dirt.  They giggled and hugged and fist-bumped their way further into my heart than one would have thought possible.  First cousins and best-friends.  My life is replaying.

Speaking of first-cousin-best-friends, on the night before the 4th, our nephew proposed to his girlfriend, during another glorious sunset cruise on his festooned pontoon boat, decorated by his sisters and launched from our shore, while we sat on the deck acting like we had no idea it was coming.  Then spied through a zoom lens, as he got down on one knee in front of the stunned love of his life. His friends shot off fireworks from the shore as they passed by.  It was magical for them, and for us, too, as we cheered this young man whom we love so very much.  The middle of our lake became party central as his friends and family, and hers, sped out to their boat on boats of their own and popped champagne corks for the rest of the evening.  It was grand and glorious to see this boy, this man, who has been there for his friends and family time and time again, celebrated and to be the center, the star.  They came through for him and it made me happy to see him toasted, and cheered.
We celebrated, oh, how we celebrated, all week.  A beautiful niece, expecting her first child and showing off her baby bump, a dear cousin from out of town and his new bride…little girls discovering what they have in common and pledging to become pen pals.  This week had everything good; missing our son and daughter-in-law our setback.  We remembered those we have lost, and the memories were sometimes hard, but most often wonderful.

Things can start to get rather quiet after the 4th each year, but I know we have more joy coming.  The house will come together a bit more, and there are smaller parties, boat rides, visits and bonfires yet this summer.  We are so very looking forward to it all but, oh boy, these last two weeks will come back to me often as some of the best days…EVER.  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Life at the lake.

Today at the lake, a storm seems to brew and a granddaughter sleeps away the morning.  I am up early and just taking it all in.
A couple times a year I like to bring the oldest granddaughter home to the lake for her own special “Camp GiGi”…a few days that it is just her.  She is so wonderfully patient with the younger siblings and cousins during our regular family days, this is a treat for her to be the only one who gets to decide, who doesn’t have to wait on the smaller ones, who isn’t mediating disagreements between little boys…this is her “me” time.

She’s also a huge help as we get ready for the 4th of July celebration.  Yesterday I was thinking about last year and the big flag we hung up over the plywood that covered our recently removed window, as we prepared for renovation.  Thinking about our old deck, which was torn off on July 6.  Thinking about moving Harry, the walking stick plant, that suffers silently in the wooded area behind the shed now, wondering if he will still recover from the shock of being moved in July.  A year has brought a lot of changes to our house, and we aren’t 100%, yet.

A temporary railing, a bunch of dirt, a change in the deck plan…we may never get done! It gives us something to talk about, however.  This week, we talked all around the “rest of the deck” as we decided to add a lower level, to accommodate the fire pit perhaps, or maybe the grill.   If we were younger, we would indeed be discussing a hot tub, but, it’s just not “us” at this stage of life.  We would rather take a slow cruise on the pontoon, listen to the hum of the motor…enjoy a peaceful evening on the water.  The amazing thing about life on the water is you go out in the boat and look at the same thing over and over, and it never gets old.

I mean, maybe it does get old at some point but it’s got to be only after years and years and years.  I think even small ponds could draw you in every day, in the same way that a view of the ocean can.  A little bench by a small pond, maybe a little pier to sit on, fish or not…have you ever sat in one spot on a big beach, watched waves roll in? It never gets tired.  You might get tired, as it lulls you in to peace – a nap is always a good thing.  The same is true with cruising the lake, watching the water lap up on the sides of the pontoon, looking at the wake behind you, watching over the front as you pass over rocks and plants and sand...mesmerizing. And you can take that cruise every night and it is always the same and never the same.

Welcome to lake living. Glad you are here. 

Oh, and hey, here's a link to my Lake Living facebook page if you haven't already, think about it! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Playing in the dirt.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with my many areas to weed, cultivate and plant this spring, now summer...took that little 10-day Mickey trip and am a bit behind.

I do love to sit in a patch of dirt, though, and contemplate life. I have had many serious conversations with myself while digging out a weed. Have compared a bump in life's road, a hiccup in a plan, to said weed many, many times. Some very intense speeches have been prepared, but never delivered, to my husband, while I am elbow deep in black dirt.  Oh, if he knew the things I have shared with the hosta and ferns. He isn't always the subject of these talks - sometimes it might be over an unpleasant customer service exchange, or something that has stuck in my craw, as the saying goes, that will cause a plant to suffer through a few choice words.  Gardening is to be therapeutic, right? And, it is therapeutic to release your frustrations, right? Not to harbor anger or grudges?

Funny side story here…I found myself in a therapist’s office a few years ago, talking about some kind of crappy stuff and I mentioned I just wanted to feel well enough to garden.  He said to me “I am convinced you shouldn’t be driving a car, much less garden!”

Today, I feel a little behind the 8-ball in trying to get the yard a bit more ready for the next few weeks of fabulous that make up our summers.  I may have gotten a bit “pie in the sky” thinking a lot of the landscaping would be taken care of by this time, post renovation.  But, it’s a lot to have all four sides of the house disrupted and a bit more tweaking to do and expect the flower beds to all be fixed up. I mean, I got gutters last week, so only now can start thinking foundation planting.  Landscaping is way down on the list…and the budget.
This afternoon, however, I did play in the dirt on one side of the shed.  I did some talking to some people, some imaginary friends and some “ghosts”, perhaps, of friends past.  I did a quick review of the budget for landscaping in my head and what I still hoped to accomplish this year.  Aside from the piles of dirt around the house, which I have accepted for 2017, the moon garden needs help, the shed perimeter.  The small bed across from our bedroom and the area just behind it. 

This year, I cemented my fondness for my favorite yard tool, which is that claw like thing that takes out weeds like a champ and lets me get pretty agressive.  I discovered some favorite mulch.  Well, it’s not mulch so much as shreds of bark and clippings, and it's from last year ~ probably not to be found ever more and why do I do this to myself?   And, my favorite plastic trowel, which is awesome in a bag of my favorite mulch, and it cost me 25 cents during an off season sale at K-mart…which is now closed and I really bought it for the grandkids.   

I have a lot on my mind and the flower bed is a great place to release those thoughts.  Protect society and garden, people. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wishing upon stars.

This has definitely been a couple of “wow” weeks.  So much living here at the lake!

But first, a moment.  The beautiful white columbine, which I was worried about, has succumbed  making it about 0 to 10 at bats for columbine.  I’m leaving it in the ground, and watering it just like it’s still got a chance, but, I am not hopeful.
So the big report, however, is our vacation to Disney World with all five grandchildren and their parents.  Our son and his wife weren’t able to make this one;  we missed them.  We did have the best grandparent time of our lives to date, however.  Outside of each of their births, I guess.
I haven’t posted many pictures as there are just too many to choose from, and could never decide.  Even the “bad” pictures have worth so, even though I have tried to delete some, I just can’t yet.  Maybe in a few weeks. Besides, I haven’t seen them all yet! Each picture I look at, believe me, is special in such a profound way.  You understand if you are my age, and can look in those sweet, trusting, believing, honest faces.  My goodness.
I know people who have never visited Disney, don’t like Disney, don’t ever intend on visiting Disney.  I get it.  It’s expensive, it is over the top in Disney-dom, it is not for them.  Their hearts and minds don’t “go” there.  But, for us, our hearts and minds do indeed go full on Disney albeit mild mannered.  I may never be able to totally express how I felt all of last week, even with some cranky times, some difference in parenting styles, some desires for one type of food or another left unanswered, the heat, the rain…whatever those small shortcomings it was still the best time.  Thank you to my middle child, the wonderful mother of 3, who tackled our trip planning with determination and provided us a delightful experience.  You could not have done a better job.  Except for the suitcase incident, of course.  To the youngest daughter, who saw Disney through the eyes of her kids for the first time…I know it was great for you,and a big stretch to your budget, but, yay! We did it!

Returning after the ten days of being gone, with much yard work, the deck to finish, the plants that haven’t even made it in to the ground yet, the interior painting, and when will the kitchen cabinets get hardware? ~ it seems like a dream.  Magic, just like ol’ Walt wanted it.  Thanks Disney, for the memories.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mornings such as this.

Checking the weather channel it seems that we’ve turned a corner and while certainly not warm, it will do, I hope, to get a few of these early growers into the ground.   The entire area around the house is (still) in construction mode as the deck gets started, the screen porch finished up and the foundation is screaming for some landscaping.  I have to be careful not to overflow into these areas to avoid plants trampled by well-meaning work boots in a couple of weeks.  I am excited for the deck to be sure but struggle to stay away from moving that dirt around by the house ~ I’ve got a four foot wide walkway coming soon to these very spots, and gutters and downspouts yet to be installed.

I did go on a bit of a greenhouse visit with my little shopping buddy, our niece, soon-to-be-neighbor, and tried to hold back on flowers to purchase, but did pick up a few.   We were disappointed at one spot and hit the jackpot in another.   We have another favorite place to visit if we can get there, and of course, there’s the grocery stores and discount centers to pick up a filler or a new pot.  I never have done much yellow, except daffodils, always sticking closer to reds and pinks against my tan house, but to make this area a bit different I purchased two big yellow pots for the new porch steps, my house now a deep greenish grey.  I am excited about filling these two with the red, purple and pink impatiens, with spikes and ivy…just wait, I tell myself, be patient with your impatiens.  I also picked up a beautiful all white columbine and a peachy white foxglove for the moon garden area.  I am excited about these two although I admit I have not been very successful with columbine in other areas.  This morning I am concentrating on the path to the moon garden, moving some stepping stones and digging out small maples, keeping on with the raking and wood chips from a couple days ago.  Esmerelda still looks good, even though she wintered out there on her stump instead of the shed like I planned.
Those maple trees.  They are something else.  In a conversation with an acquaintance over the weekend he mentioned getting some trees for his yard and was on his way to pick up a maple and a dogwood.  I literally shuddered, may have gasped,  even though I knew he was talking about a beautiful red maple shade tree…not these parasitic maples I have sprouting throughout the woods. I cleared most of the maples out of the area of the moon garden last year so this spring is an easier go, but, two feet outside of the clearing is probably 200 of those little devils.  While that does sound like a lot, having held 50 in my hands at one time I know it is a fair guess. 

This is a beautiful time in the wooded areas of our place.  The flowers that come out in the spring aren’t here long, but while they are, they are sure enjoyed.  This was a fast season for the many daffodils that dot our property, with all the rain and I mostly missed them ~ however, the redbuds and dogwoods have been pretty spectacular.  I was out early this morning, just around sunrise, thinking about what project I might tackle there today.  I need to turn some attention to inside the house as well but oh, how it calls me.