Thursday, April 20, 2017

Get out there.

You may remember that a while ago my niece and nephew gave us a bench they no longer needed at their home, and it went great on the porch of my little shed.  I have spent a fair amount of time on that little bench.  It gives a great view of the yard and lakeshore and a nice rest when I am working on the plantings around the shed.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about the shed, or the bench, honestly.  They are both about as perfect as they come…with the exception of electricity, which is on the plan, just not done yet.  The bench has become my resting place after strolling the yard with little dog each morning.  Not going to lie, a habit that was broken over the winter and it has taken me a little while to get back to it, but, walking the yard with the little dog is a great joy.

However, getting up and getting dressed is HARD.  Putting on shoes, or boots, and deciding on a jacket or not, finding my favorite Tervis, finding my phone in case there happens to be a good picture along the way, heating the coffee that hubs left or making a new pot so I can have it with me…I know. I sound like a big ol’ slob, but, guys, I’m getting old and way too sedentary for a healthy retirement. I am working on it, really.  
There is always a reward when I get it together, however, and get out there.  I am always so pleased over some small thing.  A bird I heard, the swans on the lake always thrill me, a flower or plant that I didn’t think would make it, in bloom.  My favorite is days like today after a rain in overnight or very early.  Things are slightly wet, green and refreshed. Just the sky, the sounds, the water, the smells…all of it, a reward.
Today, bright pink blooms on an azalea did it.  Bright pink, forever pink…and a hosta I was nervous about is poked up through the ground.  Now, some of you may say a hosta is about the easiest thing to grow there is, and it’s true, but the soil in the moon garden is some serious junk.  This white leafed hosta was slow to start but it is up, it is unfurling and I think will be okay.

The opportunity to sit on the bench, or to walk along my trail to nowhere, or stop a moment to listen.  Life’s rewards. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When I count my blessings...

Trust me, I understand I am not the only one who has ever been almost all consumed by a renovation project.  In fact, this is our second “big” renovation of this house, but this one seems so much different, and longer than the other.

With the end in sight, and it really is, I am amazed at how my reaction has changed over the last few months.  At first, when the inside of the house was upside down and I couldn’t do much but come in to the office and work or read, I thought I might go “stir crazy”.  Of course, a lot of that was over the cold and dreary months of winter, too, so that didn’t help in trying to deal with the mass amount of clutter that was at my every step.
The only parts of this house that have not been touched in some way are the laundry room and the two bathrooms…every other room has either been either “remodeled” in some way or has been converted, temporarily it says here, into some other type of room…my respite, the guest bedroom/office, has become storage for all things to be kept “safe”.  My wedding china in a plastic tote, knick-knacks, new d├ęcor in bags, 3 glass lamp shades on the bed...  It has always been the storage for Christmas, housed in a nice closet, which came and went during this project and I can't get to the closet. It is also where I sort and fold laundry, since that area is just outside the door.  And, it’s my office…my escape space, which has become smaller and smaller as more and more has come in here to be kept out of harm’s and hammer’s way.  It is no longer the office/bedroom with maybe a bit of laundry to fold.  It's a battleground. 

Four months ago, I thought I would snap.  Stepping over this, trying not to knock over that …where did it go? Where did I put it? Where did he put it? Did I throw it out? I am sure I saw it. I stopped cooking, I stopped cleaning, I stopped organizing anything, I stopped shopping ~ which, you know, since I wasn’t cooking was not a huge deal ~ I wore the same clothes over and over as it was easier than finding something else to wear.  I just washed it and put it back on.  Didn't matter anyway as I rarely left this construction site I call home.
I lost touch with people, I know.  This became bigger than friendships, bigger than fun, bigger than…GASP…extended family.   Big.  I dreaded hearing someone say “I want to stop by and see what you are doing”.  Oh no, please don’t.  My house was a literal wreck, still is.  I knew coming in it would be months and months…but it’s really hard to realize what that means until you are in the middle and you see no end, and you don’t remember the start.  You don’t remember what the house looked like, or where things were.  People see the changes and say “Hey, wasn’t your such and such right there?” “Um, yeah, I think that’s where it was…sure, yeah, that’s right”

This all came to a blinding flash the other night as an old friend stopped in…hadn’t seen him in years, and he had not seen the house in a long time, has traveled many roads since the last time he was here and well, he didn’t remember a lot about it.  But, what really struck me, as hubs and I sat talking with him as he squeezed into a corner to a temporarily placed chair, removing the pillows and throws that had been placed there, noticing, but not quite registering he had his hands full of my comfort items, wondering where he should put them...and we sat opposite on the couch, plates in hand, shoveling our quickly prepared, late evening spaghetti into our faces (the first meal I have cooked in a very, very long time),  was how very few casual conversations we have had over the last few months.  So much of it revolves around this project for us, only with him, it was different…we wanted to know what HE had been doing, who he had seen, where he has been.  No  “Well, yes, the kitchen did have this or that and now it will have such and such.”  We were hungry for what he had to share.  Did we just turn a corner? 

Much later, although we tried to bombard him with spaghetti when he first walked in, we realized we failed to offer him even a sip of water during his visit.  Have we forgotten how to be welcoming? Hospitable?  I was aware of  him glancing over to our dining room table, shoved in to the living room space and piled high with items off the walls and tools, screws, nails, paint brushes, did he just wince?  I have become almost oblivious to the mess by this point.  I don't see it.  I step over it, I walk around it.  I shrug.  I see the white blob on the new wood floor that is either drywall mud or ceiling paint and think "We'll get that later".  Will we? 
But, there is that light at the end of the tunnel.  It is happening…not quite to the “punch list” phase, but, it is finishing up; the butcher block counter for the island is here and waits to be attached to the cabinets, my new stools await it, so they can be slid underneath the overhang and we will enjoy a meal there.  The fridge is a thing of beauty, the dishwasher is glorious.  The other counter tops and the sink will be installed in about a week and the walls are almost all freshly painted their new Proper Grey.  I've emptied and sold the antique china cabinet we have had since we moved in to our home in 1978.  The new,  smaller cabinet will be here in about a week, along with the new media cabinet to go under the new television. We even had a moment of “ahhhh” as we sat among tools and sawdust on the new, but not quite finished, screen porch a week or so ago and enjoyed a quiet moment with a neighbor.  There is less of a feeling of panic and fear and more of excitement, blessing and gratitude. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Changes, changes

We have been in the throes of renovation for about 8 months now.  I am sure you are tired of hearing about it, as am I.  I am not talking about renovation this week, as I wait for the water softener guy to come, or the crew that will be measuring for the countertops.  I am going to move outside for a while.

The moon garden space was cleared over the weekend and it is not looking great at this point.  It looks as though the soil needs a bit of beefing up and I worry that some of the perennials that were planted last year did not winter over very well in their new home.  That being said, it’s early and I could be wrong and everything will be just fine once the sunshine starts.

Now, when is that going to happen? The skies have dumped rain on us almost every minute of every day for a couple of weeks.  To say it’s soggy around here would be an understatement.  When it’s not raining, it’s pretty darn cold.  I almost felt it was too early to expose the ground in the moon garden area because of the temperature, but, there were just so many leaves, wet, wet, heavy leaves, on top to leave it alone.  I unearthed a wind chime in the woods, too, that I had forgotten about and laid in a tangled heap in the leaves, so that was fun.
One of the projects during Camp GiGi Spring 2017 was rock caterpillars.  I was a little disappointed in their outcome as, although cute, they aren’t holding together super well. I will be fixing them before taking them to their homes this weekend (I think because they painted their rocks, the silicon isn't grabbing).  Mine is holding like a champ and is the cutest.  It is going in the moon garden area later this week, if it ever stops raining!

I am again preparing a list of plants for purchase this season, and have already checked the opening days for some of my favorite local nurseries, as well as have a “wish list” on a garden website or two.  I have a pair, okay maybe two, of great new sturdy gloves and a new garden scissors.  There is some sad news.  After celebrating last year that Harry was going to survive being transplanted, he is not looking too well.  I did take some dramatic steps over the weekend and cut his twisted and curly branches all the way back, to see if I could revive him.  I will keep you posted of his progress, but, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t pull through.  The Mildreds are looking great however, and a new transplanted azalea, the Jean Marie, is in a new home.  I will take pictures of these lovely gals as they bloom out this spring.

Life in our yard is becoming a bit hectic as the season begins to open up to all its possibilities.  It will be active around here for the next several months, first with our own projects, a new home beginning next door, some possible renovations just within view of us, and a bit of an outbuilding across the street.  Our neighborhood has changed, is changing and will be changing some more over the next few months, and years.  In some ways I feel like my little moon garden, my walking path and my shed are the constants for now.  All will be turmoil, for a while, except these places of rest…

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Back after a break!

So by now you all know, the giraffe is still not a new mom.  I feel for her having once gone 2 weeks past my due date ~ yes, they use to let you do that ~ and then spent 10 days in the hospital for it.  (so you know, I actually started this post LAST week…a whole ‘nother week has passed without that dang giraffe baby)

The good news here is that it is Spring, really.  It says so on the calendar and everything.  My kitchen is about two thirds done with only the counter tops and a few screws that remain loose.  In the cabinets people…not in my head.

I love the cabinets.  And I love the new appliances.  I LOVE the crushed ice that comes out with a press of the button.  It really takes very little to make me happy, I tell that to everyone.  I am about shopped out, although I am considering a new crockpot.  I have donated two boxes of kitchen and miscellaneous stuff to charity and have a third box collecting items that I know someone will need, just not me. I am somewhat appalled by my excess…I have a lot of stuff I don’t need.

That brings me to knowing what it is that I DO need.  I am discovering what I don’t need, and getting rid of it as I go.  But, the big question, at my age, is "what do I need?".  I sometimes wish I was 45 or 50 years old and I would quickly answer “hot tub”.  I wish I was 40 and I would answer “tummy tuck”.   Now, at 62, I just want my home finished and to be able to go out into the yard to do some landscaping.

I find I don’t really care about stuff like I use to.  Part of aging I guess.  Part of spending way too much money over the years on “stuff”.  Part of going through other people’s stuff and realizing they kept way too much.  I think we all get to this place, if we have someone that is going to be taking care of what we leave behind, that we are leaving way too much behind.  Cause you know, you can’t take it with you.

I have written before of my childhood and the lack of memorabilia from then…no ornaments, no school papers to speak of, no age-old dishes or furniture.  We just didn’t have the room in the little mobile home we were raised in.  I have an attic full of items, a basement with even more and all the knickknack things that must be out where I can see them, every day.  Since so many of my things have been packed up for lots and lots of days and weeks, I am finding I need a whole lot less of those things than I thought.  Look for me on “Offered Up” or “Let Go” … you might need my stuff. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This year's blue dress white dress?

Okay, you giraffe you, you had me going.  I thought you were going to give birth three weeks ago because the experts told me that “while they couldn’t predict” the time, you would be going in to labor.  No doubt.

I feel a little duped.  I talked this over with a few people over the last few days and some also feel duped, and some not so much.  I mean, she is a pregnant giraffe, and she will give birth, but why the rush to view? It’s right here that the question hangs heavy. 

To raise awareness? To raise money? I’m a cynic in so many ways and to raise money hit me like a ton of bricks after the first night, when the camera feed mysteriously went down based on claims of inappropriate content for a matter of hours and reappeared “at the request of so many” of the viewers with a “donate now” button added.  Maybe like some of you, I became immediately suspect.  “That giraffe ain’t close to birthing no baby” was my initial thought, and told my husband there was something up and it wasn’t daisies.
Followed by sanctioned and licensed t-shirts, emoji apps, disclaimers and email flooding.  I became a bit angry, a little disappointed and a lot embarrassed that I watched that dang video for a couple hours the first night, and came THIS close to getting wrapped up in the hype.  I stopped watching and did a check-in every other day or so for the next week, did not watch at all week two and now, into week three, heading in to week four, I really don’t care so much.  I mean, I love giraffes, but, I don’t need to see it, you know?  No baby, but gee, here’s the cute zoo keeper with his daily check-in.  I was near outraged at his “Hey, people, there’s no predicting when this might happen but in the meantime, here is another way you can contribute”.  Now, to his credit, and he did claim to be totally transparent, it’s a for profit facility.  While he was hawking goods for the giraffe for the zoo he was also correcting information and educating us on n’ere-do-wells making a profit from unlicensed products.  He didn’t want us to be duped, after all, but make no mistake, the zoo operates to make money.
So, as we head in to week four, we now know that there were no signs on that first night (or the next twenty nights) that the giraffe was about to give birth – in fact, no signs at all, except what was shared with us about how big she is.  Well, yeah, she’s a giraffe, she’s HUGE generally.  The fact there are now features added to the live feed, such as the donate button or the opportunity to link to their store to purchase a licensed t-shirt, a REAL t-shirt mind you, or a coffee mug is certainly not a crime. 

I was miffed, I really was, for a hot second.  I didn’t like, as I never like, feeling manipulated.  When I tune in, and I admit, I do…there’s part of me that wants to see that baby giraffe poke it’s feet out…I watch without comments or goofy emoji faces floating by me which usually means going right to the zoo’s camera feed.  But, the other night I landed on the Facebook page instead, on one of the TV channels camera feed and got a bit caught up reading a couple of the comments.  A story from a nurse, working midnights, with a patient having trouble getting to sleep and how the giraffe story eased her anxiety.  The story of the man taking care of his dying mother, and how the giraffe gave them something to talk about, to distract his breaking heart.  The young mom, home from work with a sick baby…

I forgive you, zoo, for manipulating the facts a little bit, and for not being as transparent in the beginning as you should have been.  You knew that giraffe wasn’t ready to give birth…the whole ‘waxy nipple” alone tells us she wasn’t ready yet. However, people want to purchase t-shirts or pay for an emoji app or to donate directly because the story has brought us joy, distraction, commonality, but, most of all hope, for a brighter day.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017


The mirror of my dreams has been in the Pottery Barn catalog for years.  I’m sure in their stores, too, but I don’t have one all that close so have not seen it in person.   I have wanted that mirror for so long.  However, the mirror is huge, as is much of their inventory. Big, gigantic…huge and way, way too big for my little home. 

I was thrilled a couple years ago when they released a smaller, half-size version of this mirror – only I had nowhere to put it.  But, I still dreamed of that mirror.  As soon as we started talking renovating the house, and adding a fireplace, I had a place for the mirror. Immediately, almost, the mirror went on sale, they had free shipping and I ordered the mirror of my dreams…dark frame surrounding beveled glass panes.  Sold, I said to myself.  It's still expensive but I want that mirror.  

The mirror arrived weeks ago.  Weeks.  We have moved the box from one side of the space to the other.  It’s a big box.  I was nervous as it was leaned first against one wall, then another.  Hubs declared he didn’t want to hang it so nothing would happen to it during the finishing of the fireplace or the ripping out of cabinets.  I was convinced it should be hung, rather than leaned here and there, among tools and buckets of drywall mud.  But, I wasn't going to be able to hang it myself so I just watched it as it made it's rounds through the construction mess.  

This week, we started to do a little bit of the final touches, like hang a picture, hang the clock.  Oh, we are not close to being done, but, the appliances and the cabinets are coming next week.  I am agonizing over counter stools currently and browsing a gazillion websites and stores looking for just the right ones.  But, still, hubs was not sure the mirror should go up because we still need to put the stone on the fireplace, and it has some sort of remote control issue that needs to be resolved, and we still aren't sure about a mantel.  

HOWEVER...da ta da daaaahhhhh.   

We reached compromise this week and I give you, the mirror.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Get on with it.

Today is the day.  Today is the day I have almost dreaded, most certainly did not look forward to…today is the day that things get real.  Get real tough. 

Today is the day I start cleaning out the guest bedroom, the room that has become storage closet number one for all the “stuff” of our 40 years, transplanted into this room as we undertook the remodeling project.  Today is the day that I start sending things in to the “box for donation”, and today is the day I actually take that box to the charity.  Today is also garbage day.
It’s not something I look forward to. Like many of you, I have duplicates of pictures, magazines, mail, cards, even kids school work to just throw out.  Throw out.  I’ve saved it for all these years and now I am just going to throw it out? I have thirty years of 401K quarterly reports…I’m just going to throw that out? Well, now, you know ever quarter the news is replaced with an update so what difference could the balance in March 1999 possibly make? Just for personal reference? 

Remember when Walgreens used to duplicate all your pictures?  Half of what was printed was not good to begin with and now I have another whole set, AND the negative? What? I have camping pictures that, to quote an old friend, look just like the camping pictures from the year before, just the people around the fire are sometimes different …two sets. And, who are those little faces around the fire anyway?  The picture so yellowed and grainy I couldn’t even begin to say, so into the garbage those many, many pictures will go today.

As we got in to the remodeling last summer and fall,  items were cleared out from the old shed so it could be torn down. Old life vests and floaties for the lake, some things that were moved to the new shed and a ton of stuff that just needed to be tossed ~ broken rakes, a string of lights, an old plastic sled.  There was a resin statue of what appeared to be an Italian guy, for the garden, like maybe Davinci or someone. He fell over at some point a few years ago and his head broke off.  I had every intention, ever since the Italian guy was taken out of the shed six months ago, to glue his head back on and use him in a flower bed.  I saved him out of the trash heap a few times as hubs tried to get rid of stuff.  "Wait, not my Italian guy".  So this morning, on my walk with little dog, I noticed the side yard has been cleaned up and a few garden items moved from one area to another…and no Italian guy.  I am pretty sure, although he has not responded to my ALL CAPS text, that hubs discarded the Italian guy and his head.  Hubs knows that I am not one to dumpster dive, even for Italian guy.  
And still, I find myself wondering if he is in the garbage tote at the top of the driveway and if there is any way I can reach him before the truck comes….