Archive for May, 2018

Two out of Three

patient noirIt seems most of you are concerned about the same thing we are: the cats! Tuesday was a very low profile for all 3 cats. BC is the least stressed. She always tended to spend a lot of time upstairs, she has always slept with me and she likes to hang out with my husband when he plays his video game. I’ve even toyed with the idea of letting her loose when there are no workmen because she will come to me if I call. My husband is very opposed to that idea and I do agree with him. Just think of Charlie getting sealed into the wall. I often come up the stairs, look through the door, and see BC waiting patiently for me to arrive.

GC expressing an opinionGC is a bit neurotic but also mellow. We knew from day one that she would be the “couch potato” cat. She can be reasonable if you overlook the known quirks. I was also sure she would come around quickly. She has indeed settled into the routine quite nicely. Last night and this morning she had multiple helpings of her wet food (she’s allowed all she can eat). I’ve avoided serving the rejected flavor from Monday night. GC even walks about and lets us pet her, and doesn’t flinch away. I sat reading in a chair upstairs last night and she curled about my legs, allowing me to reach down to scratch and pet. GC will NEVER do anything as reasonable as pick a convenient spot for cuddling. Her favorite spot is on the stair landing, where we will sit at times to deal with footwear, and she will get behind us on the landing and bump us with her head. If we turn around to LOOK at her while we pet, she moves away. No, no, it MUST be uncomfortable for us for it to be good for her. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve included a picture of her expressing her opinion on the “upstairs situation”.

breakfastWC is not happy. I was reading last night and looked up to see WC sitting in the room, staring at me. I called her by name, said hello, asked how she was. She skewered me with a glare and turned and walked out and went back under the bed. She’d only emerged, apparently, to make sure I knew she was not happy and she blamed me for everything. I guess she’s been in touch with Honour’s cats. I managed to get her to eat a nibble of wet food yesterday by moving it into the bedroom near the bed (not really where I want their food).

The elusive WCThis morning I woke to the sound of mews and meows and peeps. All 3 of them were in the food room. WC was near the water fountain, so I know she knows where it is. She just is not going to give me the relief of seeing her drink. GC and BC are not so stubborn. Everyone ate breakfast today, GC and BC having multiple portions. WC still refused to stay in the food room for breakfast, but i did get her to come to the bedroom doorway at least to eat there. Getting closer….

I appreciate all the advice and suggestions I’ve been receiving about caring for the cats and symptoms of stress/illness. Even for a cat as nonchalant as BC, this is a stress to the system. Heck, it’s a real stress to ME and *I* know what is happening. My stomach is not so happy today. Again, I haven’t observed any activity in the litter room myself, but we have found signs of usage. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can see the daily collection in the photo.output I have seen BC and GC wandering out of there also. I said to my husband that I was waiting to discover that WC has been urinating in our bedroom, and he said calmly ‘so we’ll pull up the carpet’. See? For us it IS all about the cats.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that on Day 3 of The Great Incarceration, 2 of 3 cats seem to have adjusted and there have been sightings of the 3rd. I’m sure by the time the construction is over they will have forgotten there is a downstairs. Hah!

drinkingFootnote: Some of you may know how relaxed my husband and I have always been about fixing things up, or renovating. I’ve mentioned that in this blog, too. I feel I must point out that the carpeting that shows up in the upstairs is NOT carpeting that we selected. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was in the house 34 years ago when we bought the house and, well, we just never did anything about changing it. It was fairly new, in good condition, clean, and who cared anyway. But as I look at the photos I realized I don’t want credit for the rugs. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Best Flower

goose neck and rudbeckia (1)Many many years ago my friend Ulrike dug up a bunch of flowers from her wonderful wild garden and gave them to me. Two big garbage bags filled with enormous root balls. There were 2 different flowers in there – a yellow, sunflower-like thing and a white curvy thing that she called goose-neck. Both plants flourished in my front garden for many years. I discovered the white thing is indeed “gooseneck” or Lysimachia clethroides. It’s very hardy and is indeed aggressive and has spread along the driveway as well as taking over a good portion of the first bed. (Hey Debbie – I should give you some of these, too!)

rudbeckiaI LOVE the yellow things. A few years ago, however, they began to fade, perhaps because the gooseneck was choking them. I had them in 2 different beds so I still had plenty of them, but I was getting worried. My friend, who lived next door to my mother, had died and her house was on the market. She lived next door to my mother so one day I went over, found an inconspicuous spot, and dug up another 2 root balls. Yes, I know that was “wrong”. You know what was REALLY wrong? The realtor in charge of selling that house leveled that gorgeous garden, tore down the bushes, the flowers, the wild beauty of the back yard. Don’t lecture ME on ‘wrong’. The stolen goods emigrated successfully. I knew Rike would be thrilled that her garden lived on.

But I was growing worried. What WERE these flowers? My dog-walking neighbor loved them as well and always teased/threatened to come over and dig them up for his garden. I began searching online to find a match. It’s hard to search when all you have is “tall, yellow flowers”. I tried sunflowers. I tried tall yellow flowers. I tried 5 ft yellow flowers. Finally I found something that I thought was it in one of the seed catalogs and I ordered the seeds. The seeds DID thrive and they came up alongside my yellow things. BUT…. the leaves were the same, but the flowers were not. This is because I WAS close, but I’d found the single blossom version of Rudbeckia Laciniata instead of the double-blossom. Nice, but really not good enough.

weed and rudbeckiaI continued searching and searching. One day I stumbled across a blog or a post or something somewhere talking about very tall yellow outhouse flowers (that wasn’t the exact wording that they used, however). When I looked at the photo, there were MY flowers!!! There’s probably a joke in there somewhere about my taste is in the outhouse or something. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are called Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia. Next I had to find the plants online. For some reason I kept ending up with seeds when I wanted plants.

weedI called our local radio station garden show and explained my problem – I needed outhouse flowers and did not know where to get them. Peggy immediately found a website selling the plants: Heritage Flower Farm. I went online that very day and ordered plants. I’d never ordered plants through the mail before and had no idea how it worked, how the plants traveled, etc. I ended up emailing with the owner, Betty Adelman, who was wonderfully supportive, informative and encouraging. The flowers arrived healthy and as described and all of them grew up last spring.

bare groundThis spring I ordered 6 more Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia (along with many other plants). I planted them in the front with their brethren. I watched them take hold, begin to grow. I cheered them on. The the rains came. And came. And came. People drove arks to and fro. The flora LOVED it and everything grew green and tall and thick. I was thrilled. Until just a few days ago when my sister said to me “I’m confused. You’re always talking about your yellow flowers, but I have the same thing and when I showed it to my neighbor she said it was a weed.” I guess some might call RLH a weed but I took a closer look at what was growing. Imagine my horror when I realized that with all that rain, weeds that looked remarkably LIKE RLH but were, in fact, flowerless weeds had taken over the bed. Although the leaves are similar, the stalk is very different. I yanked them all out, tossing them into the street to be run over by cars and trucks. Take THAT! I carefully uncovered what remained of my RLH but several of the new plants had been choked out.

heritage farms home pageThis is where dealing with someone as wonderful as Betty at Heritage Flower Farm pays off and brightens an otherwise cloudy day. I wrote to Betty asking if I could still get some RLH even though it’s now late in the season, and sent her pictures of the weed. She wrote back that she would send me some plants. I wrote again to ask if she needed me to send my credit card information. And she wrote back saying: “Weโ€™ll send you another one this week. We will cut back the leaves because it will help it recover from being dug after the record breaking heat weโ€™ve had. Once they get going they are vigorous and weeds may grow near them but will not choke them out. … youโ€™re not paying for this one.” That is kindness and generosity. I can’t WAIT for them to arrive and – trust me – I will guard them against the evil weed. This proves yet again that some of the best people I have ever met are people that I meet virtually. I’m not the only person who thinks Heritage Flower Farm is great – the National Wildlife Federation has honored them for their Certified Wildlife Habitat. So if you need flowers, or you want gardening tips and information, or you want some Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia for yourself, do yourself a huge favor and contact Betty Adelman and Heritage Flower Farm – Yesterday’s Flowers for Today’s Gardens.

It Has Begun

IMG_8417Although the workmen are MUCH quieter than I had expected, I see no sign of any catabitation upstairs. I have refrained from looking under the bed because I suspect that will be just one more upset for WC, if not for all of them.

Everything has been removed that needed to be removed. The refrigerator and the oak cabinet are both in the dining room AND fully functional. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even better, right? A few more boxes needed to migrate into the living room in order to open the refrigerator door but I’ll sort them out later.

IMG_8478There are 3 doorways with trim in the kitchen. Two of those doorways have the original chestnut trim. You can’t get chestnut anymore because of the chestnut tree blight originally diagnosed in the early 1900s. We requested that the workmen preserve and reuse that trim. I was quite happy to see how carefully they were removing it.

I was planning to toss the stove but it pains me too much to throw away something that is working fine when I know that someone out there could use a good working stove for free. My sister has kindly volunteered to help me out with posting the stove to the local swap meet board. I’m also second-guessing myself about the dishwasher, which I love and planned to put back in the kitchen. It’s 4-5 years old, a Bosch, and it’s great. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m being penny-wise but pound-foolish. I’m wondering how well it will function after being disconnected, moved, spending several weeks in the garage, and then moved again. *grin* I guess if I’m NOT spending $3400 on the faucet (I did NOT miss a decimal on that price) I could get a new dishwasher.

IMG_8419There is plastic sheeting up on the doorways to the front hall and dining room (think chestnut trim) so I can’t get a good look at what’s not there. I’m fairly certain I no longer have a finished ceiling. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did get a few shots as the walls came down. Somewhere I have a photo that shows the wallpaper that was up when we moved into the house. It was truly awful. It might have been that wallpaper alone that caused us to do the addition on the house a mere 8 years or so after we moved in. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was even older wallpaper buried behind the walls (I wonder why there was wall in front of the wall paper). I can’t say that I like this ‘new’ wallpaper very much but as unbelievable as you may find this – it’s better than what we lived with for years. ๐Ÿ™‚

I really like this crew. They are friendly, they are polite, they are cheerful and they answer questions. IMG_8477Normally I like to watch and ask questions and learn, but I decided this time I’d stay as far away as possible and let them do their thing. I’m hanging out in the sunroom. I’d normally have taken today as a vacation day from work because I knew I’d be as distracted and as stressed as I am, but I have a major project underway and I need to be accessible, even if I can’t focus on my own, without a specific question/request.

The next step was supposed to be the framing (okay, I confess – I have NO idea what that really means) but Don came over to tell me that he thinks he needs to bring in the electrician and plumber first, because “there are pipes and wires all over the place”. *laughing* Well, I DID warn Don and Manny that once they opened the walls and floor and ceiling not to expect anything standard. I think everything in this house was built Rube Goldberg-style.

IMG_8480For the moment quiet has settled on the house as it’s lunch hour. That meant I could go through the basement door to see what’s been happening behind the plastic. Wow. Amazing how quickly it all comes down. By the time they left all the walls and ceilings were down. They vacuumed up the dust, put down carpeting for us to make it from the front hall to the deck safely, and promised to come back tomorrow to rip up the floor.

Dinnertime brought out BC and GC, but I have not seen WC since this morning, before the noise and vibrations. I asked my husband to look under the bed to see if she was still breathing. Poor WC. Life is so stressful for her. GC did eat her dinner but stopped after one helping, instead of her more customary three. Maybe things will be more ‘normal’ (feed me feed me feed me!!!!!!) for breakfast tomorrow.IMG_8486 (1)

A Last Look

IMG_8403We are as ready as possible. The Great Incarceration has begun. 2 of the prisoners walked in of their own volition; one was betrayed in her belief that she was getting petted but seized and brought up the stairs and deposited behind the door.

We have moved everything moveable out of the kitchen and breakfast room. Items are tagged indicating if they are to be saved and stored in the garage or saved and stored in the dining room. The dining room is packed with items yet we expect to have both the refrigerator and my kitchen cabinet/table moved in there as well. I must have done a decent job packing items in clear boxes and organizing groups because my husband went looking for something on his own and found it. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_8404My basement is impassable with items that have been bagged and boxed for our congregation’s huge rummage sale in the summer.

The garage is reorganized to allow space for a dishwasher and table and 2 ceiling fans/lights and the microwave (rummage sale for most of that). The stove is being trashed. The doors are being trashed. I do feel a bit guilty about that but there is only so much I can deal with getting to the rummage sale.

IMG_8406Of the 3 prisoners, BC is upset only when I leave her on her side of the door and go downstairs. BC has had her dinner, also munched on the dry food and I believe may have availed herself of the litter facilities. WC has been under the bed for hours. She emerges to meow loudly but if I talk to her or look at her she goes back under the bed. I don’t think she’s pleased. GC has emerged and joined BC and I in the food room (I incarcerated myself for awhile to read there, hoping it might prove that it was safe territory). She allowed herself to be petted, ate some dry food, but scorned her wet food twice. I’m not sure if that’s because she’s decided this flavor is not suitable for this location, or if it’s simply too stressful to eat under these circumstances. I’m willing to bet that come breakfast time tomorrow, GC will be able to eat.

IMG_8410The only troubling note in all of this is the lack of a phone call from my contractor. When I spoke with them on Wednesday we talked about Tuesday being demo-day, but Don would call me at the end of the week to confirm. Don has NOT called. It really makes no huge difference if demo-day happens Wednesday instead of tomorrow, but I am very ready for this to begin already. The sooner we start, the sooner it’s done.

I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight…..

A Last Hurrah

kitchen stove dining room doorLast night we threw our last party with our old kitchen. It was Memorial Day weekend, always a great time to throw a BBQ. We had several reasons, however, to throw a party. Our wonderful next-door neighbors are moving down (back) to Florida. They will be gone by mid-June. All of us in the neighborhood are heart-broken that they are leaving. We love them, we’ve had such good times together, it was a wonderful, wonderful relationship. I decided that we needed to do a good, fun send-off to remind them how much they like us all and that they would need to come back and visit. (I already have a promise of a return for our Passover seder. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) When I first proposed the Bye-bye BBQ I thought that we’d have already lost our kitchen – that we’d be doing this kitchen-free. I’m very happy that we still had a kitchen to do food preparation.

Kitchen sink door to basementThat was the second “last hurrah” – bye-bye to the kitchen. For 34 years we’ve been entertaining, throwing parties, feeding people all from this kitchen and breakfast room. Okay – I’m exaggerating. The breakfast room and deck are only 28 years old. Putting that addition on the house was a true life changer. When we do BBQs, drinks and appetizers are out on the deck and the dinner selections are in the breakfast room. I probably should have taken some pictures of that last night – we had a MOUNTAIN of ribs. ๐Ÿ™‚ And LOTS of non-meat sides because we have a fair number of vegetarians in our gathering.

view from breakfast room to front hallYet another reason for the BBQ was my brother-in-law’s birthday. He, like our guests of honor neighbors, is carnivorous so we decided on beef ribs. My sister has a membership in a fantastic warehouse called “Restaurant Depot”. It has every and anything a restaurant/food vendor would want/need. My brother-in-law and I went there on Friday to get the ribs. It’s probably not a good idea to let the 2 of us do this sort of adventure without a chaperone because we both believe that more food is better. No – more than more. We came home with about 30 pounds of beef ribs. But that’s fine, because in 3 days, we’re not going to have a kitchen, no stove, and we’re going to still need to eat. Leftovers!!!! I know some people HATE leftovers but I love them. Leftovers mean I don’t have to cook or prepare something. My husband is the real chef in the family (I bake) and he did a great dry rub on the ribs. For good measure we tossed in some chicken dogs and veggie burgers. view from breakfast room doorwayWe had sugar free cheesecake and sugar free pound cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream for those needing SF, and we had sugar full cheesecake and sugar full ice cream cake for those wanting that good old sugar hit. The appetizers were delicious also. I’ll also give a little mention to the fact that I nearly lost my husband last night. As in permanently. One of my guests brought a home-made keto dessert (she’s very big on all sorts of healthy diets) and I’m not really sure what these things were, but they were sugar free. So she gave 2 to my husband who, of course, ate them. I only found out after the fact when I heard her describing the ingredients which included macadamia nuts. I said – don’t give any to him because he is highly allergic to macadamia nuts. Which is when I heard he’d already eaten them. Everyone joked about it and teased him and her, but the truth is – he was somewhat sick from them last night. 2 little tiny doses but enough for him to have a reaction. :/

I originally planned to do this party today, but as I write this post, rain is thundering down outside, and our phones periodically beep with emergency alert notices about flash flooding. The weather forecasters got all of that right because that was the forecast they were giving a week ago, which is when I said better move the party to Saturday night.

breakfast room table pots and pans closetEighteen of us on the deck – chairs and space enough for everyone, although I will admit there was a tight squeeze in one corner. I had the chance to show everyone the plans for the renovation, and got to show off the now-famous upstairs hall door (you remember – an essential piece for The Great Incarceration). We’ve decided on the faucet for the kitchen sink (somewhat steampunky) and I got to show pictures of that as well. Plus the really amazing steampunk faucet we are NOT getting. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s going to be a huge change.

I’m going to miss my kitchen. I know that many people look at my kitchen and go “ugh”. It’s small, old, kitschy, loud. But I do love it. I love the pink and yellow and bright and the art work and the decorations. I no longer love the floor (28 years ago) or the stove (15 years ago) and I hate that the cabinets and drawers don’t work properly. I’m not loving the current ant invasion, either. Despite all its flaws, when it’s clean and bright, it makes me smile. It makes me happy. I’ve been worried about getting a new, modern, soulless kitchen. I think we’ve made some good choices so that although we will have a new modern kitchen, it shouldn’t be soulless. Time will tell.

breakfast room cat treeToday, however, is designated as “pack up the kitchen and breakfast room day”. Tomorrow is probably the same thing. We are working out a plan for how/when to move cat paraphernalia upstairs in preparation for The Great Incarceration. We are trying to determine in advance where we will put all the boxed up kitchen ‘stuff’. We have a lot of stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? Do we NEED all this stuff????

Tick tock, tick tock….. Less than 48 hours til the wrecking crew arrives…..

The Great Incarceration

end of hallAs my friend Honour has pointed out, I haven’t mentioned the major change coming into the lives of my 3 cats. They aren’t going to like it.

As I mentioned recently, I am going to gut the entire kitchen and part of the breakfast room. It’s a major undertaking. It will be a mess. Lots of noise. Workmen. Dust. Noise. Open doors. Noise. Stress. We are expecting this to take 3 months at a minimum. And that doesn’t include painting the new walls and staining the new molding.

Most people ask us what we are planning to do about eating since we won’t have a stove, sink, dishwasher, floor and counters. I *think* we will have the refrigerator in the dining room, and maybe a microwave. I’m not too worried about the whole food thing. It’s spring, almost summer. We have a grill on the deck. We have lots of restaurants we like. We have restaurants that deliver. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and have friends who invite us to eat at THEIR homes. ๐Ÿ™‚ No, what worries ME are the cats.

hallway to stairsTwo of my cats are, no nice way to put it, old. They will both be 16 in August. Not only are they set in their ways, but the white one is totally neurotic. Extremely. The gray one is not as crazy, but not 100% well-balanced either (of course, can you say ANY cat is 100% well-balanced?). The black one, the child of my old age, *grin*, is wonderful, but very active and needs to be wherever I am. Henceforth they will be known as WC, GC, and BC. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is NO WAY I can leave the 3 of them loose in the house while the workmen are here. The cats don’t want to be near strangers and noise and the workmen don’t want them around either. 3 months is too long to board. I can’t lock them in the basement because (1) the workmen will need access to the basement and (2) the door they will use opens on the basement landing. So the cats need to be locked up. Now probably most of you who own cats say what’s the big deal, you lock them up during the day while the work is going on and you let them out at night while you are home. That does sound reasonable, if you overlook the time when our friends took that approach and their cat got shut behind the dry wall. They had to rip out the new wall to get the cat out. But still, many people would take that approach.

bathroom and little room doorsMy cats are NOT reasonable, not by any stretch of the imagination. If it were ONLY BC, not a problem – she even comes when we call. WC – she is nuts. We are going to have one chance to grab WC and GC and that’s it. They don’t like to be held or picked up. If we ever let them out of being locked up, they will hide and we will never find them again. Or not in time. Or not safely. So we will grab them once (my husband has been told he has to grab WC, I’m grabbing GC) and we will shove them into their restricted quarters and there they will stay until such time as we deem it safe to release them.

Obviously we cannot lock up 3 cats for 3 months in 1 room. First, the 2 big cats have issues at times with BC (you know, pesky kid sister and all that). Second – the food, water and litter boxes need to be considered as well. Add that to the 3 cats and you have one crowded room. Had the basement been a viable option it would have been fine – there is a DOOR to the basement. We can’t confine them on the first floor – that’s where the work is happening. The second floor is the solution EXCEPT ….. there’s no door to the 2nd floor.

top of stairsWe are building a door in the upstairs hall. There is no good place to put a door – the hallway is filled with doorways that do not align. We have steep steps. We need the light and air from the window at the end of the hallway. We are building a door, at an angle, with consideration for light and air, and seeing what’s on the other side before we open it. That way the girls will have access to every room on the 2nd floor – plenty of places to hide, water & food in one room, litter boxes in another room, bed to hide under in a third room, and so on. Room to avoid each other. And BC can sleep with me, as she always does. Once the construction is over, and the house is deemed safe for cathabitation, the prisoners will be released. But since they will miss us, we will be living upstairs also. Watching TV on the computer instead of the TV. Working from home from a bedroom instead of spread out on my dining room table. All 5 of us on the 2nd floor.

It’s going to be a very long summer. And none of us are going to like it.
The Great Barrier

Nature Is Inconvenient

little blue eggsI have been accused of being heartless, and perhaps that is so. In years past, birds have built nests under the air conditioners in our upstairs windows. (We have an old house, we do NOT have central air, and we rely on window a/c units.) On first thought this sounds charming and wonderful – little birdlets being born and learning to face the world! Little birdlets get very hungry. Hungry birdlets are very very noisy. You have no idea how loud a baby bird is until it’s 5:30 am on a weekend and the cacophony of FEED ME comes non-stop from your window. It is, to say the very least, annoying.

Momma bird in front hedgeThis year I out-smarted the birds. I had mesh mounted underneath and around the a/c units so that no nests could be built there. The birds struck back. A few weeks ago, AFTER I’d been in the bushes trimming them, I looked out the sunroom window and saw a nest, with 4 little blue eggs, right outside my window. That nest was there while I was working in the bush, and yet I never saw it from that angle. But there it was. And then shortly thereafter, I saw Momma sitting on that nest. I never managed a very good picture because of the screens in the window, but we’d watch her come and go and sit. It was, quite honestly, very appealing.

But one Friday morning Momma went out and did not return. There are cats, possums, racoons and skunks in the neighborhood, not to mention the roving gang of deer. bird in rhododendronWe suspect that Momma met the gray and white cat that frequents our yard. Whatever happened, the sad fact is that no one sits on those eggs anymore, which does make me very sad.

And yet….. I hear birds all around me in the early morning, in the daytime, at dusk. In the past I have found nests in my rhododendron, above my sensor light, even in the clematis twining my front porch. I wouldn’t have minded baby birds outside my sunroom, even if they were very very noisy.

We have large 11 foot market umbrellas on our deck. The canvas ripped on one of them so we ordered a new one and went to replace it this past weekend. Momma2 standingMy husband went to lift the umbrella out of the stand and emerged from underneath the canopy with a bird’s nest. 4 little blue eggs. We placed it in a safe place while we replaced the canvas, and then stuck the nest back up in the umbrella supports. We weren’t sure if Momma2 would return or not. A few hours later – there she was. She’s very skittish. She seems to know when I’m trying to get close to take a picture (I really need a good camera, instead of always relying on my phone.) She’s a robin, and she’s nesting.

And having baby birdlets on my deck, under my umbrella, is extremely inconvenient.

Momma2 on deck

Artistic Confidence

potteryAre you creative? Are you artistic? Do you have an eye for balancing an image? My friend, the Fundy Migrant, ๐Ÿ™‚ is taking a course on photography. I’ve always thought she took great pictures but I do see her skill growing rapidly. I think that supports the credo “Practice Makes Perfect”. Or at least leads to improvement. Those of you who only know her as the Fundy Migrant or “that woman” don’t know of her long history of creativity, but you will learn. My personal favorite, of course, were the Drama Dolls. And my very own special Drama Doll. But I digress (as usual). Because this post isn’t about her but about me (as usual). *grin*

I am very conflicted when I think about my artistic abilities. On the one hand, I think I’m creative. I’ve made and sold my own pottery (for real money to people who didn’t know me).dining room palette I think I have a good eye for my gardens. I learned to make virtual trees (thank you Fundy Migrant) and I learned to script so items I created would move. I made virtual hair which people wanted. I bake well also – ask my brother-in-law about my sugar free rugelach. On the other hand, I was NOT considered the artistic member of my family. Museums exhaust me mentally long before physical fatigue sets in. I passed up visiting Florence to go back to spend more time in Rome. You might remember a posting about a picture in our family home – the picture that my mother declared separated those with an artistic eye from those without. I loathed that picture. So you know where I was slotted on the spectrum. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been very slow to renovate my house. The house is nearly 100 years old. We’ve been there 34 years. We still have the original kitchen cabinets, kitchen counter, upstairs carpeting, and upstairs bathroom. For most people of my acquaintance, this is little short of heresy. Almost taboo. We did an addition to the house. We repainted the kitchen and changed the lights, and we’ve done other repairs and such over the years. tropical ceiling fanBut other than the addition, which we did nearly 30 years ago, I’ve not done anything BIG. Several years ago it was time to repaint the living room and dining room and my big-breakout designer action was to paint the walls something other than WHITE. I used TWO strong colors in the dining room, and the ceiling in the dining room was the same faint pink-overtones of white that were the walls in the living room. I loved it. I remember my mother making “a face” at the end result. I, however, felt vindicated and still love my palette to this day.

Last year about this time we needed a new chandelier for the dining room. While we were at the lighting store, I saw a ceiling fan that captured my heart. It had 5 blades, shaped like fat rubber tree leaves. We bought it and replaced the ceiling fan in the sunroom. I thought no more about it until my niece suggested that I make the sunroom my “beach getaway” room, my own little tropics in NJ. I’d never considered redoing an entire room with a theme. I know OTHER people do these things, but I never considered it. But the suggestion took root, especially when my niece gave me the color palette she thought I’d like. I redid the entire room, piece by piece, idea by idea, slowly but surely. Everything was done except…. except…. I wanted a big seascape above the windows across from my reading chair. ocean viewI didn’t find what I wanted at craft shows or online. I found wallpaper, however, that triggered some ideas. The wall is mostly windows. I wanted something more “ocean, beach” for the little bit of wall that remained. I bought wallpaper that looked like a weathered ocean fence, and a border that was ocean waves, sand dunes with beach grass and blue sky. I told folks that I was going to put the fencing down the wall and across the top of the wall above the windows, then put the border on top of that so it would look like I was looking out over the fence to the ocean. The reactions I received ranged from a slightly skeptical look to “that’s ridiculous, the ocean isn’t ABOVE the windows”. It looks great. I love it. It’s everything I wanted. People who see it love it too (okay, they might be humoring me but I don’t care. *I* LOVE it.)

Ahuva's cornerI’m feeling much more confident about my ability to design a room and pull the various pieces together. I have much more faith in my taste in furnishings and color and concept. That is a very good thing, too. Because in 2 weeks we will gut our entire kitchen, widen a doorway, and redo the kitchen we have had for 34 years. Big changes are coming….

Headlines I’d Have Preferred NOT to See

11+ Brutally Honest Tweets About Using A Menstrual Cup
Seriously – there is nothing I can add to that headline other than the fact I’d never heard of that particular approach. I was living a very full, productive life having never heard of that particular item.

Tourists In Utah Throw Dinosaur Tracks Into Lake Thinking That They’re Regular Rocks
It was a kid. Maybe we need to start vetting folks before we let them into our national parks. I’m not sure who is more culpable with these stories – the parents or the children. Disgusting.

Bounce house flies onto California highway with child inside
Yes – the child was safe.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.
Sigh. I can’t even…….

Ukraine says military dolphins captured by Russia went on hunger strike
Again – I can’t add to this. You needed to read the article, which was even more unbelievable than the headline.

Bear breaks into SUV, eats 24 cupcakes
Okay, the bear one made me smile. And then I read the article where it says this particular family has had the bear visit before and eat food, THAT THEY HAVE LEFT ACCESSIBLE. They want the bear killed. As one commentator said – why not STOP leaving food OUT???

A small personal history

May 13 is Mothers’ Day this year. May 13 also happens to be my mother’s yahrzeit. *rueful smile* My mother, may her memory be blessed, always understood the importance of timing. As an actress she knew that timing, delivery and performance were key to making a lasting impact. She always wanted everything to be “all about her”. With remarkable timing, she has ‘captured’ Mothers’ Day. I will never reach this date without thinking of her and reflecting on our lives together. (To be fair, my father also made sure I’d never forget his yahrzeit either – I turned 50 sitting shiva, instead of throwing the big birthday blow-out I’d started planning.)

I used to have such fun with my mother. When I was a toddler I wanted to grow up and be just like her. I wiggled my way into her newspaper interview (what an adorable photo we made). I cried at a play when she, in character, cried. My father had to carry me out. ๐Ÿ™‚ I cued her for her plays, I went to every show she was in, I envied the times she and my big sister would go out shopping without me.

Even through grade school and high school we were best buddies. I could tell her any and every thing. My friends all thought she was incredibly cool and would confide in her. When I went off to college she wrote me letters every week, and sent me zillions of clippings from the newspaper. *laughing* My beloved advisor once said that my mother was the only mother he knew who could be replaced by a subscription to the NY Times. ๐Ÿ™‚ She came out to visit me at college and I was so proud to introduce her to everyone.

I graduated, moved back home for grad school, got married, stayed home until my husband also graduated. All that time my mother and I played together, had fun, had key jokes (Mickey’s Donut Land was one), traditional shopping trips (Black Friday after Thanksgiving – a day we loved to go out because we didn’t NEED anything so we could be relaxed while everyone around us went crazy).

My husband and I bought a house in the same town where I was born, grew up, where my parents lived, where my sister and her husband lived. We were a very close family. We did a lot with my parents – my husband and father were close, both engineers, liking sports, politics, conversation. My son was born and Grandma and PopPop took care of him regularly.

But somewhere along the line things began to change. The seeds were always there. I have an ugly story about my graduation present from college. There were some other harsh memories of things said, selfish behavior, controlling emotions. Beginning after college I went into therapy. Years and years of therapy. What I learned there was to be NOT my mother. What I learned and began to see was how unhappy she was, how emotionally damaged she was from her childhood experiences. I had absorbed ALL of that myself, modeled myself that way, being just like her. But I wasn’t happy. She wasn’t happy. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to be happy more than I didn’t want to have to change myself. I spent years and years and years learning how to undo the self-destructive patterns.

As I changed, I saw my mother differently. I saw her unhappiness, and she always admitted that she was not happy. But she refused to look at herself for the source. She always felt that happiness is derived externally. I think too that she became more and more her negative qualities – selfish, emotionally controlling, putting down others to feel as if she were better, hurtful comments trying to be funny. The more time I spent with her, the worse I would feel. A lot of negativity and anger radiated from her. It was draining and dispiriting.

But it was tolerable. My father was there, my sister, her husband, her daughter, my husband, my son – we were family and we saw each other regularly and happily. Okay, sometimes annoyingly too. ๐Ÿ™‚ After all, we were family.

You need to understand. My father adored my mother. He thought she was wonderful. One time my sister and I were talking and laughing with him and we both mentioned how we heard our mother “talking out of our mouths” and he didn’t understand why we thought that was NOT a good thing. I love you so much, Daddy. He would do anything for her. He was her security. He was her rock. She was the glamorous butterfly, flitting and flirting and exciting but she would always come home to him – her safe haven.

And then my father became ill, unable to travel a lot. My mother was cruel. Comments like “well we can’t do this now because of you”. It got worse. He was in the hospital, ill. She didn’t visit him because she didn’t feel up to it. My sister and I were sitting shifts at his bed, dropping in exhaustion so that he would not be alone but she couldn’t be troubled. Had the roles been reversed, he’d have been there every day, dragging a lung machine and any other apparatus just to be with her. When he finally came home, she wouldn’t let him back into their room. He lived downstairs on a hospital bed. She did cruel things like move his toaster to a storage area because it was “in her way”. Every morning he’d have to struggle with his walker to get the toaster, bring it out to the counter, and then struggle to bring it back. She raged when we added safety bars to the bathroom for him. It was ugly. Very very ugly.

She was so angry. So afraid. She couldn’t forgive him for being human and not being her rock. She was terrified. He was her safe haven. He was her security. Her life, as she saw it, was evaporating rapidly.

Then he died.

I’d like to say that things improved but that is not what happened. She turned her fear-fueled anger on my sister and me. There were more cruel words and selfish selfish behavior. It was very hard for several years, but she was our mother, and we loved her, and you do what you have to do. She was still active, going into the city for theater and art and friends.

Suddenly she was ill, in the hospital, emergency surgery – a perforated ulcer. Who even knew she had an ulcer? Recovery was slow, her spirits were poor. We tried to keep her home, but we had to keep upping her in-home care. Finally we moved her to a nursing home. The odd thing is, in hindsight, we think maybe she’d have wanted that immediately. We moved her to a second, better nursing home when it was available. And it was there, finally, that for me, things began to heal.

I could visit her, chat with her, talk to her as we had in the past. There were flashes of my mother there, her sense of humor, her intelligence. We’d have cheese and crackers, drink coffee, eat chocolate. I could even classify some visits as enjoyable. My own anger at her for her treatment of my father began to ease. My anger at her for her lack of commitment to trying to recover from her surgery began to ease. My compassion became dominant, as I saw her living the very life I knew she had dreaded forever.

She died last year, suddenly, the day before Mothers’ Day. On Sunday she’d been okay. On Saturday she was dead.

I miss her. When I think of her now, I don’t think of those last 12 years or so. I think of the fun things we did. Our little jokes. That she’d like this weather. She’d like knowing this event. When the rabbi came to talk to us about her in preparation for the funeral, he asked me if I had forgiven her. I thought about it for a moment and told him no, I had not. I will probably NEVER forgive her for how she treated my father. But that was not the whole of my relationship with her, even if it did poison so much of our time together. I am grateful for that last year in the nursing home. We had time to sit together. Smile. It was quiet then and peaceful and there was room for love and warmth. Time and space for the positive interactions to flourish and bloom. When they say time is the great healer, I think this might be what they mean.

I miss you, Mom. Happy mothers’ day.


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