Saturday, May 30, 2015

He Wanted a Home

This photo is of last summer's views. Before we built the ramp this spring.

From time to time, I speak of my wonderful mother and daddy, and some of you do know them in person. But perhaps the tale I'm about to relate will explain to you the essence of my dad. In my opinion, he is the ultimate optimist, the eternal saver, and the original fix-it fox. My dad truly believed he could fix anything and everything, never throw it away. Fix it. When he married my mother, they lived in an apartment for a little under three years, but he wanted a home of his own in the worst possible way. One night, the story goes, he cast his eyes across a field owned by my mother's father, spied a shell of an old house that was being used to store bales of hay and straw. "There. For a little bit of nothing, I could fix that up for a house to live in."

The wintry view through blowing snow a couple of years ago when I was stuck coming down the drive. This old house looked so cozy and warm...

And so he did. Well, actually it was just a little bit more than a little bit of nothing. It was a whole lot of something, and that something, I believe, was pure determination blended with love. How could I not love this house, I wonder, when I feel stuck, homeless, lost in time. My dad pulled off a rehabilitation akin or better than those done by Rehab Addict, one of my favorite HGTV shows. He had to pull out all the hay and drive out the raccoon and skunks that had nested right here in this very house. He had to determine what was salvageable and what was truly not. By the looks of these photos, I can't imagine how he decided that. My mother says he brought home one or two boards each paycheck, and he determinedly proceeded to make this house his home. She said that it took about one year to finish the house to a liveable state with no rest rooms or finished floors, but they moved in. If people came to visit, they had to watch my dad work! She said his brother in law, my Uncle Paul, (the daddy of my sister cousin), helped a lot, and often my dad's father went into town to get the other brother in law, Uncle Keith, when the situation called for a lot of hands.

For a little bit of nothing, he said...  What a vision!

These summer rains make me think of the story he liked to tell, my grandmother loved to tell, and now I'll share it with you. During one especially torrential downpour, my dad didn't come home from working on the house. Mom, Dad, and Baby Me were staying about a mile away across the field in my grandparents' home. He usually ate a bite of supper and came here to work, slipping in to sleep a few hours and then going to work an 8-hour shift as a lineman for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. On this monsoon-like evening, he just didn't show. My grandmother finally got into their car and drove over here to check on him at five a.m. in the morning. It's legend by now. My father was down in the hand dug basement he had made after raising the home on stilts and cutting off the bottom few feet that had rotted away. The water was pouring into the basement, eroding the mud sides. The whole house was on the verge of slipping into that crater of a basement and simply giving up the ghost. But daddy was scooping water and bailing mud out of his basement with a ten or twenty gallon bucket. My grandmother said She didn't even go up to the edge of the basement to look. She just sat there and watched the mud and water slosh up and over the rim of the earth. I guess she came home and told my grandfather, "That man wants a house in the worst way." <3

My grandfather, Paw-Paw, peering into the hand dug basement. No doubt my father was deep in the recesses of his dream!

Fast forward to a year later. Daddy, Mom, and I moved into this wonderful house, minus its wood floors saved from an old schoolhouse that was being razed. The fireplace was moved, the linoleum laid in the kitchen, which is still in fairly good shape after 65 years, coats of Panama Green coated living room walls... much like it is today. Daddy decided to add on a garage and a dining room and extra bedroom or pantry lovingly called the knotty pine room due to its tongue and groove pine boarding. That sufficed from about 1959 to the year after my dad had quadruple bi-pass heart surgery. Around 1990,  he and his Amish friends proceeded to build a bedroom from the garage and a barn from the materials gleaned from my grandmother's home. We had been forced to tear that dear, old, two-story girl to the ground due to the Right of Way of Highway... Another tale, of course.

I come from that kind of person. At heart I am that kind of person, except I don't have the skills or strength or knowledge to do what my mother and dad did and could do all their lives. I ran a different direction with my life, teaching school and flitting about. But it's no wonder that I'm about as stubborn as you can find. Determination and stubbornness...  almost the same coin, but they do spend a little differently. These old photos had been misplaced, and my mother, understandably, was forlorn about it. She thought I had done it, but I finally found them in a drawer where I know she tucked them right before she fell last Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! We are happy to see them once again and marvel at the gaping holes, the terrible condition, the pond in the front yard, and the little baby on my grandmother's shoulder, which is, of course, me.

Yes, that is a sixty year ago, little me. And yes... That is my dear five foot nothin' gramma with white high heels on...  it was summer, obviously. She worked so hard every day in those heels until her little feets were unable to wear almost ANY shoe at all! She didn't take her apron off to drive over. I wonder what on earth she was thinking about her crazy son-in-law! What I sure don't have is a photo of my dad standing beside this house. No sir. He was too busy deep below, on top, or somewhere else earning the money to pay for it.

At times I have pondered moving away to a brand new home with no crumbing linoleum, no creosote peeping through the walls from the old telephone poles he used for joists, from the square peg nails you can still see, from the little sections of termite-eaten shelving in a storage closet...  but nah... Not yet. As with most things, houses, cars, passions, this house needs a bit of time, effort, and money thrown at it to resource some new surfaces, paint over a bit of fading, revisit the re-birthing of a new vision for an old space. That kind of remodeling is fine with me here because, after all, I now sleep in a room located just a little to the left of the house you see in the old pictures, just a bit outside of the space that looks remarkable like an old fireplace had been jerked from the side of the house (because it had, its bricks carefully saved to use on the new fireplace built in a crooked little fashion by an old Swedish stonemason for my mother. I sleep right there in that window overlooking Mom's new ramp.

In honor of June and the month of Father's Day, this post says officially that I adored my Daddy, love to pieces my mother, and delight in every way to see their amazing attributes demonstrated in my wonderful son. My dad wanted a home, and he built one. I want a home, and I have one readily available for my attention and love. It may be time to "scoop some mud."

Have a wonderful June. Whimsy and Hugs!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

Have a fun weekend with those you love.  We plan to see family and friends, make some visits to our family cemeteries, and put away some frozen berries to cheer our winter menus. 

Six quarts in today! Here they are in my car. Now they are shivering in the freezer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Of Smoothies and Mischief. . .

Hello there, World! It's just me. Yes, I am certain that I'm going to regret getting up this early...  I actually realized the house was hot, I was thirsty, and I just wasn't as sleepy as I thought about 3:30 this morning. So a few videos on YouTube later, I'm here to report a few major stepping stones of progress in my ever-advancing war on clutter. I know most of you have never seen as much sheer volume of stuff, ah treasures, as my mother, father, and I have collected. I have struggled for years with the aching desire to have order vs. the hoarding love of all that was ever "oooh shiny" to any one of the three of us.

This house is a split level only in the sense that the room I used to sleep in was down four steps. I loved the idea of a little flat of my own down there, but with my joints and creaks I was not loving all the trips up and down the four steps to EVERYTHING else.  The restroom was even upstairs. So after Christmas when my mother seemed to need me more than before I bought myself a little daybed and fixed it up in the western window up here in the dining room. Yeah, the window to the world where I take ALL those pictures. I love the starlight and moonlight streaming in the window, and I have spent literally hours just gazing out at the natural world through the nights when there was lightning, snow, full moons, wind, squirrels, ... you get the picture.

Well, the inspiration hit me to move my clothes up to a JUNK closet in the laundry room/pantry which is a great little catch-all room adjacent to the dining room and my bed. I thought it would be perfect since I do a great deal of my work from a rolling chair due to bad knees, back spasms, and all the joys rheumatoid arthritis has brought to my life. I could do my laundry, fold and put away all on one level! No more toting big laundry baskets up to the washer and drier, down to the closet, up to the bathroom to take showers... down---  you got it.

In a home full of clutter, there is NEVER an easy solution. It's kind of like buying and selling property. Something has to be cleaned out. That stuff has to go somewhere. The place it's going has to be cleaned out. That stuff has to go somewhere. It's a maddening, crazy-making game of shuffling and just frustration beyond all hopes.

It takes a plan. Yes, something I used to have plenty of but had forgotten how to do! I bought the best little book, downloaded it on my Kindle, and read far into the nights about the life-changing magic of tidying up. I've read tons of organizing books. It's what I do: read, not actually accomplish...  This book is worth the money. It's radical. It's a little off the comfort level. I cannot in all honesty do exactly as she suggests with the limits of my abilities and ummm "Not even being in my own home." But I definitely gleaned some beyond awesome nuggets. She cleans for a living. Organizes as a passion and career. And, joy of joys, she recommends doing it the way I always have had good luck--- basically dumping your whole house and starting over. Many times my dear mother would send me as a child to my room to clean, and later she would tiptoe in to check my progress. The screams and moans would then explode from her mouth...  I'd taken the liberty of dumping everything from every drawer, every shelf, every hanger of clothing from my closet. Then I was cleaning, reorganizing, shuffling, grouping...  basically taking four days to do what to her was a thirty minute job.

So, rambling aside, I've been digging my way through a panty, a deep hole of a pantry on the back porch. In it I'm going to store all kinds of magical kitchen tools--- whirring blenders, deep fryers, panini maker, Bread machine.  Ugh...  Too many. So some will bite the dust and be donated or trashed, depending on their condition. If I normally cook a different way, I will not be latching onto something sinister and space consuming. However, that being said, I know the fun of having the right tools. Now they will be in the right place, a cabinet just off the kitchen. Side note: I'm in love with the trash man. I don't know his name, but if he takes this pile of garbage bags today, I'm officially smitten.

So... I will put my clothes in the closet the files and gadgets came from. Mom and I did a marathon cleaning/tossing of four huge, packed beyond belief file cabinet drawers. I kept all kinds of marvelous things, which I'll be sharing in a few future posts. I tossed SEVEN kitchen trash bags of old insurance policies, Medicare updates, manuals to repair long departed toasters, Income Tax files back to Ben Franklin (or whoever created that crazy practice.) Voila!  I now have four drawers of a very old file cabinet in my new clothes closet. I decided to commandeer said cabinet for my t-shirts and sweaters. Marie Kondo, the author of that amazing book, advised to fold clothing as each piece asked to be folded????... in neat little packages.  I have done so. Then she suggested storing them on end front to back in a drawer. And I did. Wow. I had to line the bottom of the cabinet with something, so I chose lovely shiny gift bags so the sweaters would slide and still be protected. I'm loving it. I resisted the urge to color code, etc. I'm kind of obsessive about things, and there's a limit to the amount of time one project can take! Here the drawers are...  Yes, that's a wool dryer ball on the floor. The room's a wreck!

Next on my list will be to clean that closet downstairs and stash candles, decorator items and seasonal things that don't really belong in Rubbermaid totes. Mom is an ordered person, and she has no idea the extent of the balancing/cramming act I've been doing to keep the ships afloat. Here is a shameful picture of a little spot of "heaven" I'm cleaning out and taking downstairs/ to the pantry in back porch/ to the dump... whatever it calls me to do.

Eventually, I hope to chat Mom up into a total redo of this end of the house with the dining room becoming my total bedroom and the living room becoming a Great Room with dining in one end. However, Baby Steps are required on that sort of thing. I'm all about rearranging and changing it up. She's a dyed in the wool "Keep Everything as it Always Has Been" person. How and why is that funny?

I've also embarked on a health journey to lose some of this weight. I hesitate to reveal that because I've failed before. But it's something that needs to be done. I've started a protein enhancement, vitamin addition to my daily round. I can truly tell the difference already in the amount of pain and inflammation reduction I feel from no sugar and no Diet Coke, weep and wail. It's a long journey, but the Xyngular vanilla protein smoothies and delicious antioxidant juices I'm drinking are liquid Tylenol and Advil to my spirit and body. It's been YEARS since I gave a damn about myself and my health, to be honest. This is a big wonderful step.

I hear the birds chirping outside my window, and I realize it is four minutes until I give my son a little wake-up call. Soon Mama will be up for a little breakfast, a little laundry, and the day will begin. If you popped in here, you'd see quite a huge mess, but one happy little messy camper. But I'd offer you a lovely cup of tea... and a vanilla protein smoothie?

Have a lovely week.

Whimsy and Hugs!

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Well, someone once told me to spoil myself a little once a month. . Today I ordered three signs from eBay... I might be giving one of the Halloween ones away.  Might not.

Going to hang my sign over the stove and celebrate the season I'm in. ... and smile all day long. Love the blue Halloween one. ..

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Beginnings

I've been to a baby shower. So many cute little dresses and outfits... cupcakes and punch. 

Thought you might enjoy seeing the beautiful boxes and sacks.  Had a downpour with, of course, a rainbow.

Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Isn't it funny......

I noticed a post on Facebook that said, "Think less. Live more." So many teachers liked that today, and so did I, but didn't we spend our one crazy life trying to promote thinking?

The bluest skies happen before daylight but are visible only through a camera's lens. See my blue hour shots today at end of post

We often hear a parent or a teacher screaming at a child or student to be quiet but we didn't even hear the child's original outburst.

Sometimes I rant about someone saying or doing something unkind... and oh, sadly, my words are so critical and unkind.

One of the things I'm most negative about is negativity I spy in others.  

A day like this (57°) is considered cold in the summer and warm in the winter.

We say, "Just sayin'," but we know we aren't JUST saying but we are really angry...

Just sayin'

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Old Girls Wear Their Finery...

Once a year the old girls surprise us... Not with their beauty, perhaps. It takes the eyes of love to say they have that. Most remarks I've heard are pretty straightforward, if not bluntly cruel. They are so ugly! Why don't you remove them from sight?


Well, THIS is why... And even the photos don't contain the magic, the mystique, the glory of being here in their presence. One by one, the grand old dames from the past, my past, blossom forth in beauty and with that once annually fragrance of new beginnings, graduations, weddings, and spring. I'm speaking not of old maiden aunts, sweet-faced neighbors, or dear friends from the past. I'm madly in love with the gaunt old locust trees that bravely cling in their semi-skeletal tenacity.. They defy the winds because, in truth, most of their limbs have been ripped away. Halloween trees all outlined in a stark silhouette against the setting sun or silvery moon.

But I find myself wishing to be outside, day or night, in the locust blossoms. I love to inhale their intoxicating benediction, a prayer of gentle grace. One tree is absolutely dead in all but its core, but from that central holy place, locust blooms still pour forth. As I breathe in the scents of my childhood, my heart takes the outstretched hand of my mother. Going back fifty-five years ago, I loved springtime beneath these same old trees so much. We had a picnic basket, a blanket, two collie dogs, Laddie and Tinkerbell, and a few cats, all named Sally. At one time there was a hill underneath the trees, a picket fence bordering the yard, and huge, well-tended rock gardens carefully tended... and we often sat there in the grass at noon, enjoying an impromptu picnic in the midst of the gifts of living in the country.

The trees. The trees. How many hours have I spent reading, imagination smoldering, propped against the trunks of these trees. And, of course, I've had many confidences here just between me and these trees. They have kept my secrets, and I've kept theirs.


Whether I see the blooming locusts from the windows or walk in awe beneath them, I'm sure the magnificent souls of these trees recognize and appreciate my heart of love for them. Oh, yes, trees have a heart and a soul. They can sing, groan, sway, break, and breathe. These locusts can cast forth fragrance beyond earthly knowledge. They can love me as much or more than I love them.


Woodman, Spare That Tree!

By George Pope Morris

WOODMAN, spare that tree!

Touch not a single bough!

In youth it sheltered me,

And I ’ll protect it now.

’Twas my forefather’s hand

That placed it near his cot;

There, woodman, let it stand,

Thy axe shall harm it not.


That old familiar tree,

Whose glory and renown

Are spread o’er land and sea—

And wouldst thou hew it down?

Woodman, forbear thy stroke!

Cut not its earth-bound ties;

Oh, spare that aged oak (locust)

Now towering to the skies!


When but an idle boy,

I sought its grateful shade;

In all their gushing joy

Here, too, my sisters played.

My mother kissed me here;

My father pressed my hand—

Forgive this foolish tear,

But let that old oak (locust) stand.


My heart-strings round thee cling,

Close as thy bark, old friend!

Here shall the wild-bird sing,

And still thy branches bend.

Old tree! the storm still brave!

And, woodman, leave the spot;

While I've a hand to save,

Thy axe shall harm it not.









Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Eyes have it. ..

So. Do you know what is fun? 

Looking across the table at my father's first cousin I don't get to see very often.... and when he laughs and is happy, he has my dad's eyes. .. dark brown, sparkling, long lashed,...  dark eye sockets... 

My son noticed it, too. It just made my heart happy.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo

I'm thinking taco salad for this fun holiday! Tonight a few cousins got together at Pizza Hut. It was my mom's maiden voyage down the ramp. Worked great except for the gravel at the end. Looks like we may have to do something different there. Thank goodness my son was here. He's so strong, he can pick up Mom, wheel chair and all. It wasn't easy for even him, and I heard Mom whisper, "I'm not sure your mother could do this." Nope. Couldn't , shouldn't, won't.

I have been wracking my brain for a passion... Some hobby that I can do that makes my spirit sing. So far, I got nothin', as they say.

Well, since it's 3:12 in the morning, I'd better get some snoozing in before its time to wake up...

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Throughout the night hundreds of volunteers searched our small community for a dear friend, Janice. She has advanced Alzheimers and had wandered off from a car she was waiting in while her dear husband had gone in to get a Rx filled. 

He had been such a rock for many years of this disease, caring for her so sweetly..But this unthinkable event happened.  From 3:30 yesterday afternoon until 11:30 today the community searched all night, using all means known. Helicopters flew all night. Facebook was filed with reports, tears, and prayers. 

I literally cried almost all night. I felt so bad for her family.  I was hopeful, though.  In my psyche vision, I "had" her placed  in a building near the car. I thought she was in a target busy building ffiled with flowers because she loved to garden.

Praise God, they found her in an abandoned building three doors down from the pharmacy. They are guessing the door must have been unlocked and she locked it after herself. Janice was alive, alert, talking,  .... and she had been cleaning that building all night.

So glad for good news.  That sounds so much like her. What a beautiful community we have!