If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Den Before and After

The den has always been a sanctuary sort of place for me - in every home where I've ever lived.  It is a place to gather and relax.  It is a place for chilling out and regrouping and refueling.  It is a place for leisure and sharing.  It is a place to plop down and prop your feet up.

One of the good things about the den in this house is that it was pretty much a blank slate.  There was no furniture in here and it simply needed a fresh coat of paint.  The only thing that was somewhat permanent was the television connection which determined what wall was set aside for that.

 The corner cabinet in the right hand side of the shot below is the first piece of furniture Mike's mom bought after she married.  The china cabinet on the left belonged to some relative of his.  The piece that the television sits upon was a gift from my great aunt.  The beautiful cross-stitched piece above the television was a gift from my Mom at Christmas.  I had fallen in love with the merlot silk drapes and got them for my dining room in my former house at Rover.  They have such a rich sheen and are decorated with soutache braid which forms an all-over diamond pattern.  They are the dominant color in the room because all of the furniture is some shade of beige.  So, I have a couple of pillows the same color and a chenille throw picks up the wine color as well.  Of course, I have the blue and white transferware and blue and white painted pieces in there, too.  So, this room has the deep relaxing rich shades of color.
The two wingback chairs were rescued from the dumpster about ten years ago by my friend Phyllis.  She was sorry that she hadn't been just a few minutes earlier taking her trash away because she could have asked the fellow for the sofa that went with them as well.  I bought the fabric for a song and my mother had them reupholstered for me as my Christmas and birthday gifts when I moved into the house at Rover.  So, none of the furnishings in this room have been big investments and almost every bit of the accessories have also been gifts.  That is decorating on a budget!  I love it.

 Sometimes I fear that this room is too dark because of the dark drapes and the porch sheltering the light from the windows.  Since the house faces east, the porch and the drapes protect us from hot morning sun in the mornings and fading.  But, it does prevent the light airy feeling that the kitchen provides.  I guess the trade-off of the relaxing feeling is a good one, though.  The dog painting hanging over Mike's recliner was rescued from the trash years ago.  One of the students in a class I was assigned as shared-teacher into was going to throw it away because it was just painted on cardboard and "wasn't all that good."  I asked him if I could take it because it made me smile.  It still does!  I wound up getting a pre-made frame and paid dearly for the mat and glass to preserve the free/trashed painting. 
Some folks - including my dear husband have mentioned how big the sofa is.  Well, I agree that it is a big old thing.  However, I am a couch lounger.  I shopped and shopped just to find the right one.  I wanted it to be wide enough to flop on and watch television or read if I so desired.  I also wanted it to be long enough to stretch out and nap on if the need arises.  It is a big old barge but it is a neutral color and has a nice curved back and interesting legs.  It allows me to wallow around when I want and has cuddled lots of cozy naps, too.

I didn't take the next picture from the same angle as the above photo.  I'll have to go back and photograph at some point from the above angle so that I can show off the beautiful bureau that sits beside the hearth.  This room really is as big as these photos show.  It is quite full of furniture but doesn't seem in the least bit crowded.  When all four children, their families, and our parents joined us to celebrate Christmas this past winter, we had plenty of space. 
Photos of the children anchor the wall on the end of the room.  Yes, that is a tiger-striped ottoman there.  It is my unexpected element in the room.  I knew I wanted an ottoman as a coffee table when I moved into the house at Rover so that it could double as seating when I had a large group of people.  It has served me well here, too.  The granddaughters love to climb on it or play round it or stand upon it as a stage.  I guess I just had to let my wild side roar a little bit.  I hate that the beautiful crown molding doesn't show up as much as the wooden floors do in these shots.  They combine to really make the room seem special - formal enough to elevate the scrappiness of the hodge-podge meshing of furnishings which were combined to make our home.  

Almost every room is a delicious amalgamation of our two homes - things don't match but, amazingly, they do seem to belong together.  Maybe our furnishings and home are simply a reflection of the union of the two of us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Storm

How can the temperature change so rapidly?  At the beginning of the week we were wearing shorts and sweating in near eighty-degree weather.  Yesterday and today we were shivering while wearing sweatshirts and warm jeans. 

This afternoon we also had a lightning and thunderstorm.  It seemed to come in waves - one bout after another.  First was simply thunder and a downpouring of rain.  Then, came a bit of calm followed by loud pounding on our tin roof.  I looked out the window onto the deck and this is what I saw:

 There were just pellets of ice pouring down - no rain - just the ice. 
 In only a matter of seconds there were just little piles of ice all over the place.  I told Mike that I had never seen the like of it - this must be what happens when you see hail damage to vehicles and roofs. 
 Shortly afterward, rain also began to fall and then the precipitation all turned to rain.  Yet, below the patio tables the ice still lay for a bit looking like shattered glass.
I would never have believed it if I hadn't experienced it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One of my RANTS!

Today I got another one of those email forwards which talks about how the illegal immigrants are corrupting America.  Those things and the ones which talk about how prayer is not allowed in school really irritate me because I know that they are not truthful. 

The complaint/plea was from an English teacher in California letting folks know about how awful the illegal immigrants behaved in her school and how they are sucking our tax dollars away from us and so on.  As a language arts/reading (English) teacher here in Tennessee, there are so many of this teacher's opinions and concepts which I agree with.  However, I also think we need to realize that less than 14% of the U.S. population was not born here (or are immigrants).  So, for about every 20 people here in the U.S. 3 of them are immigrants.  Less than 33% of the immigrant population here in the U.S. is here illegally.  So, only 33% of that 14% is here illegally.  Again, for every 20 people here in the U.S. one might be an illegal immigrant.  I think that instead of feeling animosity toward these folks who are simply striving for a better life for themselves and their families, we should be issuing a stronger penalty to those U.S. citizens who hire and protect those illegal immigrants.  (These statistics come from the Grant Marshall Survey which is an international one.)
Plus, our legislation also requires that after any immigrant has been here and enrolled in our school systems for at least a year, the student is required to take the same test printed in standard English as a student who was born and raised in our country.  The same test that is geared toward white American children of college educated parents who earn six figures and live in a metropolitan area.  Their test scores will also be used as an indicator of how well a teacher does his/her job, by the way.  It doesn't matter if the child reads and understands the standard English language, whether he/she had a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test, whether the child went to bed early enough to get 8 hours of recommended sleep, whether the child was witnessing fighting parents/siblings/neighbors, whether the child was feeling sickly, etc. or any other factor which is beyond the teacher's control but which might have an effect on that child's performance on that test.

In the schools where I have worked, the bigger problem with disrespect - students calling names and being rude to substitutes, student teachers, and even toward me - that bigger problem is not coming from immigrant children because we had very few in those schools but the unacceptable behaviors are coming from folks who are ill-informed or uninformed.  Yes, many of these rude students are enrolled in the free lunch program, fee waiver program, etc. and in all probability, about half of them are more economically sound than I am - having cell phones, parents driving nicer cars, having dirt bikes, video gaming systems, eating out more frequently, etc.  However, their attitude of entitlement is usually a result of their upbringing - an attitude fostered by their parents and indoctrinated by our culture setting what we think is normal and necessary. 

I could share time after time where a student is not performing up to expectations or is behaving in a rude manner and the parent comes in for a conference and defends the behavior or action for any number or reasons.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago we had such a conference with a parent who was tearful and at a loss for what to do next.  Yet, the child was carrying a cell phone in his pocket, was sleepy because he had been awake until after midnight playing video games on the computer, and it was the third time we had provided the web addresses for online textbooks and information which was available to the parent and child at home - because the parent claimed that the child did not bring home his books but could have accessed all the info needed from the home computer.  Again, a situation of believing in entitlement.  Plus, it was far easier for the parent to ignore the unacceptable behavior or not follow through with consequences because it would inconvenience the parent, too.

What has happened to our culture that so many folks believe they deserve something just because?  What happened to earning everything you have and fostering things with care?  What happened to the parent setting rules and following through with consequences when the child doesn't follow them - even if it was a headache and pain to follow through?  What happened to us simply being stewards and caring for what we are blessed to get - and feeling and expressing gratitude for getting it? 

Then again, are we willing to do away with these government programs if there is a need for even one-fourth of the children enrolled to get a meal so that they won't go hungry?  I think that until we are ready to look after those few who actually are hungry and need assistance by feeding them from our own pantry or sacrificing our own comfort level, we are going to have to accept that it is a system with flaws.  In some ways folks like the Amish or Mennonites who don't believe there is a need for insurance, government assistance, etc. have a really good system.  Yet, am I willing to embrace all those other demands of such a culture?  Do I want to do without electricity?  my nice truck?  my store-bought clothes?  my comfortable income?  my nice house?  much of my free time?  Do I want to give up many of the other luxuries I enjoy? 

Yes, I think we need to set high expectations but I also think I've got to sacrifice at times if I want to achieve some of my goals.  All of these issues mentioned burn me up and I have written and called and even gone to Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Washington D.C. to meet with my legislators.  The thing is, I am also grateful to live in a country where I have the opportunity to do just that and am willing to try to do what I can to make the legislation which is passed work even if I don't always agree with what has been passed - for example, I try to teach children how to take and score well on that test and how to apply the knowledge needed when they get out into the real world.  I have 7th and 8th graders who will be required to identify the sentence which uses a gerund phrase/infinitive phrase/appositive correctly on the required test.  I don't think they need to know those terms in order to be successful in the 'real world' but they have to know it for a high score on the test.  So, in order to follow the required curriculum as legislated, I teach test skills and communication skills - how to actually write a coherent, well devised sentence when they need it in a memo, letter, or other form of text in their workplace.  My curriculum has 20-50 standards each for reading comprehension skills, grammar, writing, listening, public speaking, working in a group, research, logic/problem solving, media (video, computer technology, graphic arts), knowledge of classic literature, communication.  The almighty test will have about 150 multiple guess questions similar to what I mentioned that my students need to score well on so that we will know what classes to enroll them in when they get to high school and so that the government will know what to pay me for the quality of job that I am doing to teach them all that.  Then, employers will be expecting these children to know how to utilize that knowledge - not caring if they know what a gerund/infinitive/appositive is but wanting them to write coherently and understand and follow directions and stay on task to get their job done. 

I recognize that more money will not solve all the problems.  I make a good living and unlike lots of folks think - I don't just work a few months out of the year and then sit around and eat bonbons.  I don't just work from 8 till 3 either.  I rarely leave the school building before 4:30 or 5 and I always bring home work to grade or prepare for impactful lessons to try to meaningfully teach all those standards my children must learn and know.  I do finish the school year at the end of May but I also spend at least one entire week in June or July in meetings and workshops getting further professional development so that I can do a better job teaching these children and usually another couple of weeks during those two months are spent planning for the upcoming school year and learning about my textbooks, computer technology, and other resources.  Then, I'm back on the job during the first week in August.  During spring break this week I have spent at least an hour or two each day doing school work, too.

I know our system isn't perfect.  I know that we have loads of problems and as a government employee I know I am part of the system which needs reform or attention.  I know that those tax dollars are part of what I work hard to earn and I want a say-so about how they are spent and regulated.  I don't accept popular ideas and listen to folks complain without finding out about things for myself - like the immigrant statistics I mentioned at the beginning of this message.  Yet, I know that the greatest power I have as a U.S. citizen is to listen, analyze, evaluate, and be informed about the candidates running for office and to try to vote accordingly - not necessarily along a party line.  I also continue to communicate with my legislators - the ones I voted for and the ones I voted against by letting them know I am informed and have studied the issues and have an opinion about what way they should vote on upcoming legislation - my parents cared enough to teach me this and I continue to do that.  I hope you are doing the same.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Newlywed Knowledge

I have seen all sorts of movies and television shows about newlyweds and how it takes some time to get to know one another and what things one's partner likes.  Probably the most oft contested jumping off places are the old jokes about the new bride learning to cook the foods her husband likes.  Well, let me tell you that it doesn't matter how old the bride is - that learning curve is still the same. 

Mike really, really, really likes spaghetti.  Seems great, huh?  A simple dish of pasta, sauce with a little meat sauce should be easy - how can one go wrong?  Well, let me tell you - there are lots of ways.  First, the sauce cannot have chunks of tomatoes - even if those tomatoes came from the garden tilled and tended by yourself - even if those tomatoes were carefully canned by yourself.  (Why would he grow something that he doesn't really like to eat?)  Secondly, there shouldn't be much more in the sauce besides ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and a wee bit of spices.  Then, there are the noodles.  Oh my goodness!  The noodles are the hardest part. 

I've never really paid that much attention to spaghetti in my life!  I'd simply look for a package that said spaghetti and see which was the cheapest, grab it off the grocery shelf and all was good.  Then, I read where I should look for whole-grain and pasta which was not enriched with a bunch of stuff.  So, I settled on eating the whole grain and didn't pay much attention to spaghetti - just bought the cheapest.  No longer will that work.  Today, while standing in the pasta aisle at my local grocery store, I have never felt more intimidated.  I knew that Mike likes 'white' noodles - not whole grain.  I also knew that he wanted them to be "the big round kind."  Eventually I settled on simple inexpensive plain old spaghetti noodles. 

When I started getting dinner together, in he walks to inspect the ingredients.  Since the box didn't say "red cross" on it, immediately he decided that I had the wrong product.  So, I listened to him mouth off about it for a bit.  Then, I walked out onto the deck and got into the truck and drove up to his mother's house and sweetly asked her if she had a box of noodles.  Boy was I surprised when she handed me a box of THIN spaghetti noodles!  You should have seen the confused look on her face when I asked her if this was the kind she had always bought.  Hesitantly she responded that it was - at times she had simply bought the cheap store-brand, but this type is what she had always bought - even when Mike was a kid growing up.  So, I took the box of noodles and zipped back to my own home.  After I showed and compared what I had bought to what his mother had bought, he started chuckling.  Then, several times he apologized - several times.

The entire time we were eating, he was bragging about just how perfect this spaghetti was and how he loved me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sleeping Late

I never knew what sleeping late was when I was growing up.  We lived on a dairy farm and everybody in the family got up before the chickens to go out and do chores so we could continue on through the day.  It was something I accepted - probably because I didn't know any different. 

Then, I remember when my own children were young and the traditions continued.  Bridgette had a friend who was a couple of years older and when this friend started school she talked about having to get up so early.  Why, it was still dark, even!  Bridgette just looked at her with this "so what?" look on her face.  Perhaps it was because she had done this most of her life and didn't know things could be different.

That was one promise I made to myself when I was in graduate school.  If I ever got a job teaching school, on weekends and holidays I intended to sleep late.  At first I sometimes had to force myself to stay in bed till eight o'clock.  It wasn't a big chore.  I just kept a book on the bedside table and would lay there and read.  At the time I was still a night owl and I had no problem sliding back into sleep and awakening later when the sun was already up.  Since I've gotten married, I have found that I have no problem sleeping later or going back to sleep and getting up after the sun has already warmed the horizon.  Why, I can even do this when I go to bed at an ungodly early hour like ten o'clock or even nine-thirty.  Plus, I sleep far more deeply and continuously - none of this awakening at two o'clock and not being able to roll over and fall back into sleep.  As soon as my head hits the pillow, I begin to nod most nights even if I think I'm going to read a few pages while Mike snores beside me.  For some reason, I just need more sleep. 

Yesterday, when Forest was visiting, he informed me that his parents are just as cruel and thoughtless as mine used to be.  He doesn't even get a full night's sleep.  He told me that he only "gets to sleep half the night."  They have to "get up in the night-time and go to the barn to help milk."  He likes it better when he gets "to sleep till daytime."  Boy, so do I.  I shared with him that Mike sometimes has to get up in the middle of the night like that and go to work and it is really hard for me when he does. 

On Monday, when Mike had to get up and leave for work at six o'clock in the morning, it truly felt like the middle of the night just as Forest described for himself.  I was almost unconscious when Mike got up to shower and ready himself for the day.  I apologized for not being a better wife who got up and cooked breakfast and packed a gourmet lunch but I just had to be selfish that morning.  We had spent most of the weekend outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather and puttering in the yard and my body and my mind were simply too pooped.  So, I just mumbled and groggily kissed him goodbye when he bent over the bed on Monday morning.  I guess I'm a lot like Forest.  I don't like getting up in the middle of the night.  I like to sleep "till daytime."  Now-a-days I don't just like sleeping "till daytime."  I NEED it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Compost Consult

My nephew's son - that still seems strange for me to say after all these years of being surrounded by girls in my family except, of course for Bryan.  Since my marriage, though, I've got all sorts of bonus family members - including nephews.  So, my nephew's son, Forest, came for a visit yesterday morning.  He had come to find out where I wanted the load of compost dumped.  (That is one big perk of having a brother-in-law and nephew right next door who operate a dairy farm - cheap fertilizer for my garden!)  Forest knocked on the back door and told me he was here to see where I wanted the compost dumped and to figure out how much to deliver.

He stayed on to visit for about an hour.  We had a good time catching up.  His school's spring break is this week - the same as mine.  We agreed that spring break is a delightful thing to be granted and enjoy.  Forest informed me that he was off from school - well, this is a Monday and he didn't have to go back to school until the next Monday.  When I commented that this was a fabulous thing - having a whole week off, he informed me that he just wished he had four Mondays... 

Somebody is pecking on the back door.  Maybe it is my spring break buddy.  More pearls of wisdom later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Break!

There is only one sound that is better for a teacher than the final bell on Friday before spring break begins - the final bell sounding at the end of the day on the last day of the school year!  I think we teachers are sometimes far worse than the students about our time out of the classroom.  We tend to look toward it with an anticipation that is unmatched by any other excitement. 

I love my job.  I look forward to going in to work every single morning - well, after I get over having to actually get out of bed.  Yet, I do L-O-V-E having time off - freedom! 

Of course, now that I am not expected in the classroom, I am expected to be on the mower, in the garden, cleaning closets, digging in flower beds...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grass Cutting Time

We are entering one of my favorite times of the year - spring in the south has no comparison.  I love seeing the plants peeking up out of the ground and the greening of the grass, the trees, everything!  It is also this time of year that I am enjoying cutting the grass.  It is still a new thing to do and I'm not worn out with other things.  This gives me a good reason to be outside and enjoying the sunny days.  It gives me a chance to sit and think...or not.  Grass cutting is instant gratification - something shaggy is immediately tamed and shaped and looks more manicured.  I know that at some later date I will be complaining of the dustiness, the continual need to mow, the speed at which the grass is growing and I'm struggling to keep up.  However, right now, it is a welcome respite from the cold, grey, miserable times.  There is renewed hope for beauty and the perpetual reassurance that all moves forward and the cycle continues.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Didn't sleep so well last night.  I started to blame it all on the springing forward with the clocks for Daylight Saving's Time or whatever it is we have changed into now.  I am one who doesn't really like change - not even when nothing but the clock changes.  I figure we need to just pick a time and stick with it.  If somebody wants to get up an hour earlier to enjoy more sunlight, then, more power to them.  Just leave me alone and let me make that choice as well. 

I guess I cannot blame it so much on the clocks and mandated changes, though.  My head felt sort of sloshy all night.  So, I decided that I must have a sinus or ear infection at about three o'clock this morning.  I was a bit dizzy and staggery when I got up to go to the bathroom.  So, this morning I put in for a substitute and flopped on the couch till it was time for the local walk-in clinic to be open.  Feeling badly, I just washed my face and pulled on a t-shirt and jeans and trekked down there.  I'm sure I looked frightful but I just didn't really care.  Sure enough, I have ear infections in both ears.  So, I took my prescription to the drug store across the street and waited an hour - an HOUR - for my meds.  (Why did that take so long?  It was early in the morning before they could get backed up or bombarded and my meds were in a sealed container that they just had to print the sticker out of the computer and afix to the bottle.  What was going on there?)  Now I'm back home and flopped on the couch.  My next move is to scrooch down and drift off into snoring...

Friday, March 11, 2011


My house is sold!  Yippee!!!  Now we only have one house payment.  Maybe we can sort of be like a normal couple now.  Wow, wonder what that is like?

When the realtor called to warn me that a woman was going to call me to get information about the payoff of my mortgage yesterday, my heart began beating out a stomping tap dance.  I could just feel myself screwing up into a tight wad.  I gathered the information after a couple of phone calls to Mike and returned the woman's call.  I passed along the information that she needed and made notes for what else I needed to do.  I continued to gather the things and information I needed together.  For the rest of the day I felt like I was some sort of tension spring.  I tried to go to bed and sleep but just couldn't.  So, I got up and read awile and finally crawled back between the sheets at about 1:20 this morning.  Yet, I was more awake at five o'clock than I have been on previous days.  Nervous energy, I guess. 

I know that when you buy or sell a house the final paper signing is called a closing because you are closing the deal.  However, to me, it is also the closing of a chapter of my life.  After wallowing in my misery for a while following my divorce, I became a defensive, angry woman.  During this stage of emotions, I set out to show the world that I could make it on my own and could even be larger than life.  How exhausting that was!  I'd hate for anybody to think I'm not proud of all I accomplished during the last ten or so years.  However, when I really analyze the situation, that period in my life was mostly just a transition period and the journey itself was the important part.  That house in Rover will always hold a special place in my heart.  I hope I'm never on my own like that again.  But, if ever I am, I hope I can make the same amount of progress on a journey to wherever I need to be next.  I sat up and questioned my decisions and reflected on my journey and tried to map out goals and a plan for the future last night.  Tonight, I count my blessings and am thankful for where that journey has carried me.  I look across the room at the man I get the opportunity to share my life with now and my heart beats a little bit like a tap dance - but it isn't one of anxiety.  It is truly one of thanksgiving and anticipation for what is around the next bend in the road.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kitchen Before and After

When I walked into this house, the first thing I realized I liked was the kitchen.  I love to cook and this is a kitchen for cooking.  There is plenty of cabinet space, counter space, and room to move around.  Yet, everything seems right at hand.  I love the distressed-over-time finish of the cabinets.  I love all the windows letting in light.  I love the fireplace.  I just love it!

I must admit that at first I was a little bit overwhelmed with all that Waverly fruit on the walls, though!

Whew!  That was a lot of fruit! 

As you can see in the photo below, it is a cheerful, butter-yellow color now.  (except for a small area behind the fridge - maybe some day I'll get some help moving it out and get that painted, too) I tried to match a color that is in some of the rocks of the fireplace.  I've never been a yellow person before but it just seemed to fit in here.

I guess if I ever change something it will be the greenish tint of the counter tops and update the ceiling fans to ones which have several light bulbs.  I'm thinking something like a dark granite might look nice but there are so many other things I'd like to do elsewhere first.  Over the stove is a Land-O-Lakes butter tin tray.  It has hung in every kitchen I've ever had as an adult.  I think I got it with a couple of box tops and a couple of dollars about thirty years ago.  The other things hanging between the cabinets and counter top are cross-stitched pieces and a print given to me as gifts by family members.  The chopping block in the foreground on the left was crafted by former students in a cabinet making class.  The red chairs were a purchase at a second hand store and came with a simple table that is in the basement in my sewing room.  All that is missing from the photo which always paints a sleepy smile on my Sunday morning face is my sweet breakfast cook stirring up something tasty and fattening like bacon, eggs, and biscuits with a side of gravy.  Yum... the smell of coffee tickling my nose...what a luxurious life I get to lead sometimes.  I love Sunday mornings!

Here is the dining end.  Again, all that fruit!  There was also a still life fruit print on the wall when I first walked into that room.  Wow, that sure is lots of fruit!

This shot does show up the wall of windows and the French doors which let in loads of light and help me to feel like the outside is inside sometimes.  In warm weather we sometimes leave the doors flung open and the kitchen and deck just seamlessly become one room.  That makes for a large dance floor for my partner and me to dance around on.  It also makes lots of room for folks to stand around and talk and munch and sip.  Below is the after shot. 

Hanging on the wall are some beautiful Spode plates that I picked up here and there.  I don't think I've paid over five dollars for any piece of my blue and white except maybe a couple of them.  I got the china cabinet at the same second hand antique mall in Franklin where I got the red chairs.  It has a couple of scratches on it that the former owners put in it but I love the warm wood color of it and it holds lots of china and sparkly crystal and serving pieces.  I fell in love with the curtain print when I visited the house of a friend's mother-in-law.  She had this print of flower bulbs blooming in blue and white pots in her sun room.  I fell in love with it because of the pots but I also like the blooms and the colors.  I lined them with some fabric that Mom and I had made balloon shades for a sliding glass door in the first house I ever owned.  Yes, I'm a saver and recycler and fabric is one of those things I stick back and reuse if I really like the print or the colors.  One never knows when it will perk up something else someday.  The table and strait backed chairs belonged to some distant relative of Mike's.  His mother bought them for him and his family years ago.  They used them a while and sold them or gave them away.  Then, his mother saw them at somebody else's sale and bought them again when Mike and his crew needed them.  So, they have a good story.  I love the table but the chairs are ultra uncomfortable to sit in because they are so straight.  They are unique and sturdy and interesting but just not comfortable for long sits or lingering and chatting.  So, someday maybe I'll make new seat covers and use them in bedrooms as extra chairs for folks to drape their clothes on or to sit in and put on shoes.  We have three different kinds of chairs in this kitchen and I don't really like any of them.  So, one of my goals is to find ten to twelve chairs that are inexpensive, comfortable, and similar.  I'm dreaming of a wide rush seat and curved back - something that looks French-Country-ish.

I just realized that I don't have a photo of the fireplace and my Granny Cabinet.  So, more kitchen 'after' pictures will have to come later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grey and Rainy

Water and mud.  That is all we seem to have right now.  It may be from the days gone by that I don't like rain because all it seems to do is cause trouble at times - especially this season when I don't have flowers or vegetables which need a drink.  I know that the earth needs that reserve but right now all it seems to be doing is leaving water and mud.

When the sky is grey and rainy, my mood seems to be the same.  I'm not even getting to enjoy it by snuggling up with a good book and cup of coffee.  What else would you do when the weather is like this? 

Frustrating Hindrance

My blogging this weekend has been hindered by my own lack of gracefulness.  I was hanging something on Friday afternoon and made a miss-step when climbing off the ladder and fell.  It may not look so high - but for an old, overweight, clumsy, tired woman that third rung is a long drop to the hard, solid floor! 

The second I told Mike what I had done he began fussing at me - climbing on a ladder when I'm alone, had no business doing that, it could have waited...  All those things I knew already and was mentally kicking my own shocked hind side about between grumbles and moans.  Then, I frustrated him because I refused to go to the emergency room to have my hand/wrist/shoulder checked and treated.  Mainly, I think he was frustrated because I was in pain and there was nothing he could do to make it go away. 

I did agree to go to the walk-in clinic yesterday for X-rays.  The radiologist report says everything looks OK but I have a beautiful brace and still have some pain in my wrist - only when I move it - and lots of frustration all the time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Clean Sweep

How can two adults create such a mess?  I'll swear that there must be somebody slipping in here while Mike and I are at work or maybe while we are sleeping  and tracking in and messing up the floors.  Is there really any way to keep the floors clean without having it be a regular chore? 

I wonder how well those little automatic vacuum cleaners work.  As much as I like having clean floors, actually having to clean the floor is one job I just HATE!  I know that there are really no little fairies who clean during the night while I sleep like that childhood story.  However, wouldn't that be close to the same thing?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Operator's Manuals and Magic Wands

Wouldn't it be nice if there was an operator's manual for parenting?  Or maybe being issued a magic wand when we are handed the child...  Isn't that a magnificent idea? 

Several of my co-workers are young women with young families.  I listen to them talking about the hurdles they are facing and count my lucky stars that I'm not in that stage of life now.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm empathetic because I haven't forgotten how it feels to just wish the children would sleep through the night a couple of nights in a row so that I could.  Then, we went through the phase where I just wished everybody could get their own drink and use the potty - and I could use the potty without somebody following me in there or even standing outside the door asking me a question. 

I remember how exhausting it was to take this child to practice and the other child to some sort of lesson and get dinner in them and be sure they had homework and somehow fit laundry, vacuuming, and dish washing in, too.  Plus, there was also the grocery shopping and getting the oil changed and having a gift for the birthday party on Saturday.  There was also that phase where I just wished we could get through six months without somebody having a cast and needing physical therapy.  Then, there was the worry about their driving skills and the traffic they would be dodging or was the young person they were going to the movie with a safe driver? 

Then came the questions about who this was they were spending so much time with and what kind of background did they come from?  What were their people like?  Why couldn't we ask for a resume' from those folks the children were choosing as dates? 

Next, I was asking, "Don't you think you all are a bit young for that?  Why don't you wait six months and see if you feel the same way about him/her?"  (Truthfully, there were really more times when I thought, 'Gosh I hope they don't mess this up because I really like this one!)

Somehow they survived and grew up in spite of me and my lack of an operator's manual to guide my parenting skills.  They are out on their own and making their way in the world now.  I stand in the hallway or sit at the community lunch table and listen to my co-workers hoping that tonight will be the second consecutive night that their little one sleeps for a six-hour stretch or sharing their schedule of practice on Monday, lessons on Tuesday, church on Wednesday, school play on Thursday, sleep-over birthday party on Friday, and Saturday ballgames.  So often I want to tell them that someday that will all look easy.  I want to encourage them to cherish this phase because a more challenging one is on the horizon.  I want to let them know that I understand that what they are weathering through seems like it is taking a toll on their lives and wearing them down.  Yet, these hurdles they are clearing are managable still.  I pause and wonder how I survived all that and give thanks that I'm not living it right now. 

Then, I have a conversation with one of my children and they tell me of their grown up hurdles.  Jobs being phased out within a few months, graduate classes, job interviews and the prospects of relocating, dealing with their own parenting hurdles, all of these things they are dealing with now that require so much more than just a nap or a bandaid. 

It makes me appreciate my own parents so much more.  Knowing how my folks have faced and overcome their hurdles and stood by me while I overcame my own gives me inspiration.  It would be so nice to have an operator's manual or a magic wand, though, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beans, Beans. They're good for your heart.

I have the most wonderful husband in the world.  Today, as a treat for him, I decided that I would cook something for dinner that he really loves.  So, I dumped the bag of white beans onto the counter and sorted through them and swept them into the pot.  I covered them with water, added the secret recipe flavoring, and set them on to boil.  Carefully watching them, I waited till the water had come to a rolling boil and immediately turned the heat down so that it would just barely bubble.  Popped the lid on and tromped out the door.  I had a couple of chores to do and then I came back into the house.  Oh, the delectible fragrance wafting across the room to greet me!  Yum!  So, I tip-toed over and checked the beans and gave them a swirl.  Then, wonder of wonders, I remembered and set the timer and left them alone for an entire hour. 

When Mike came in, he was all smiles at the fragrance which greeted him.  I thought I was finally getting this straight-to-the-heart-sort-of-loving down.  Yippee!  Go me!  Then, I went in and mixed up the cornbread - trying to remember all the tips my mother had given me to try to make it the thin, crusty way Mike has said he likes it.  Into the oven went the cornbread and I plopped down on the couch to chat with my sweet husband and catch up with the day. 

Sniff.  Sniff.  Oh no!  I could smell the scorchiness.  Yep, I burnt the beans!  ARGH!!!  That wasn't tragic enough though.  While I was using every curse word I know and making up a few new ones and trying to salvage the topmost sector of the beans, the next thing I know there is a trickle of smoke escaping from the oven - Oh no!  Yep, I burnt the cornbread, too!  Heaping more cursing onto this new disaster, I just couldn't help it.  The tears began to flow.  My treat for Mike was a devastating disaster.  Plus, we now had nothing to eat for dinner because we had taken the leftovers from last night as lunch today. 

Just like the song says, Mike eased over to me and wrapped his arms around me and let me cry.  He was probably murmuring some sort of reassurance the entire time but finally I stopped sobbing and heard him say, "Baby, it was only a ninety-nine cent bag of beans."  You know, at the end of the day, that is really the truth and what matters most is that he realized that the gift was the fact that I had tried to have something special just for him.  With a kiss, he brushed a tear away and assured me that he loves me. 

I have the most wonderful husband in the world.