You Aren’t What You Think!

I’m wondering when your mind and thinking processes catch up to your body. In my head, I think I can still work as I did when I was 18 years old. My brain wants to rationalize as if I was still in my early twenties. “Bungee jump…sure! Why not? Work in the yard for 8-10 hours, take a shower, then go out and have fun until midnight…I can handle that!”

Even up until about 3-5 years ago, I could still handle the working in the yard for 8-10 hours, and even longer. I was a bit sore, but after lying down in a cold room for the night, I was ready to hit it again the next day. Now, 3-4 hours in the same yard, and I’m done-in. And our yard is looking like it!

When we moved here 10 years ago, I wanted a sanctuary. Someplace for me to go and sit among the shrubbery and flowers. A quiet spot to do nothing in, just relax. Well, I definitely have the shrubbery now. It’s still not very quiet. The neighbor’s grandchildren have progressed from the riding bikes through my flowers and screaming, to the teenage years of blaring radios and loud mufflers. Walking into the yard right now sends shivers down my spine as my eyes find every corner of the yard that needs attention.

Yesterday, our youngest and I tackled the ‘monster hedge’. This is what it looked like last March after a good trimming with the chainsaw.

20160317_185606
Spring Daffodils

Now it’s a jungle out there! This is the hedge in the front yard. I have two in the backyard surrounding the garden. I love it for the windbreak and the privacy it gives. But each year, our son-in-law comes over and chops it down with a chainsaw to a more manageable height. And then it grows again! If we lived in the middle of nowhere, it would be wonderful. It grows quickly and it’s hardy. But in a neighborhood with power lines, it’s just too much. Our daughter and I only tackled the sides of the monster hedge, cutting off the branches that attacked our vehicles each time we drove into the driveway. The tops will need the chainsaw once again. The hedge in the front now looks like this picture from last summer, only the hedge is about 6 feet taller:

14002332_10155192807973009_1134810174_o

Yes, I think my yard is out of control. I think it’s time for an apartment with a couple tomato plants in containers on my tiny deck. And that is not the thinking of 18-year-old me! My younger self was not constrained with health problems or thoughts of restrictions on what I could do. I could do it all! And our poor children were my little helpers as I did. They could all tell you stories of their tortuous lives as they helped me with my projects.

Our son was the privileged crew member on this little stone terrace. It looks so neat and tidy here!

I hope at some point that our children don’t recall just the bad moments of hard work. The sweating hours in the heat and sun. Caring for the younger children in the house, and making meals while I painted outside or worked in the garden. My prayer is that they learned the value of a hard day’s work. The sense of accomplishment from completing a project and having it look fantastic. The knowledge that you can do much with a little elbow grease and the willingness to try something new. Those will last you a lifetime.

Yes, my mind is getting there. After only a couple hours yesterday, I’m done-in today. But you can get down the driveway, and hopefully our youngest is learning something along the way. I’m not as motivated as I once was, something our oldest four children remind me of every now and then. So I guess my 18 year-old brain is beginning to catch up as well! Have a beautiful summer day!

Projects…Labors of Love

I love watching shows about decorating, landscaping, home renovating, and DIY projects. When the HGTV channel first came on, I was as happy as a pig in cool mud on a broiling summer day. I was amazed that other people enjoyed watching stuff like that too. I just thought I was weird, and my husband still thinks I am. I think it’s fascinating to observe something go from being a wreck, to beautiful. It just satisfies my soul.

Our house has been a project. I would have loved to have had the money and time to gut the place, and then put it back together again as I’ve seen them do on TV shows. After all, it only takes an hour or so, and you have a crew of people at your beck and call…right? And then, voila, your house is perfect and staged. If any of you have lived in a project home, you know that’s not the case. These are the facts:

  • If something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and then some.
  • The estimated cost of a project is about an 1/8th of what it will actually cost.
  • The time calculated to complete the project will be less than an 1/8th of the calculated time frame.
  • My husband loves this one…the projects will never, ever be done. Something else will fall apart.
  • You will grow to despise the big box stores and the mention of a tool.

We have lived in our house since October of 2005. We have painted the outside, which needs to be done again. We had a new roof put on, new bathroom, wiring, plumbing, etc. I’ve landscaped, and made it a real challenge to mow the grass. It would be incredibly boring to just mow straight, walking back and forth for hours. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds break up that monotony. The yard is lovely with shade, peonies and roses fragrant in the air. And it would be wonderful to sit in the yard and enjoy it, for the two weeks or so that it’s not broiling hot outside or freezing. Yes, that is a bit sarcastic, but it rather feels like that much of the time!

Whenever a little bit more progress has been made on our house, I’m thrilled. It’s something I can check off. Our kitchen base cabinets and sink was finally moved to their plumbed location about a month ago. New counters were installed. I love that little corner of the kitchen now!

IMG_20170514_144959

Once the wall cupboards are moved and the back splash is up, you won’t see that jagged corner line. But progress has been made.

This picture makes me feel thankful.

IMG_20170514_145048

The flowers were a Mother’s Day gift from our third daughter and fourth child. She made my favorite almond flour brownies and cold brew concentrate to go along with it. The little plaque was a gift from the church we are attending. The pastor and his wife had an assortment of signs from Hobby Lobby that the mothers were able to choose from. I thought that was very special. When the kitchen is finished, this will be a reminder for me, that God has already taken care of tomorrow…and all my expectations for anything in this life are really not that important in the light of eternity.

Those pictures make me thankful. Thankful for the time my husband, our son and son-in-laws put into the kitchen project. Our son’s Mother Day gift to me was installing a light in my office and lights in the master bedroom closets. Three more things checked off my list. Our second oldest took me to lunch for Mother’s Day. It was a really good day, the day after Mother’s Day, going to doctor’s appointments, oil change and shopping with a wonderfully behaved one-year old. Our oldest has been a tremendous help with my book editing, and going to events with me, a privilege I never thought I would have. Our youngest made me cake pops with the help of our second oldest daughter and her husband. All of this seems like bragging, but I’m not. I stand amazed at what God has allowed in my life, the gifts He has given me over the years. Special words spoken and written down by our children are sources of encouragement and leave me brimming with love.

This house has been a project. Many days I’ve wanted to just move, and eventually we probably will. But I walk through my humble home and think of all that has gone on here over the years. Each time I flip a light switch, turn on a faucet, or wipe down my new kitchen counter top, the love is there…the projects that have been accomplished for me by those I love. Gutting the house and having a crew put it back together again would have been wonderful. But I wouldn’t have the memories that I have.

March 8, 2008 before the Ball

This is the original corner of the kitchen, picture taken around seven years ago. The new base cabinets, counters and sink is now in that corner. Our family was heading out to our first ball that night. Isn’t my husband handsome? And this is our two youngest, ready for the ball. Fun memories!

The Yard in Bloom

Periwinkle…what a pretty name for a delicate flower. I love the way it rolls over your tongue and giggles at the end. At least it does that on my tongue. But I’m a writer and I experience things differently than others, I’ve been told.

Yes, I finally made it out to the yard this afternoon. I was greeted by this cheery purplish blue flower that I planted in many areas of our yard. Each year it expands, trailing its vine over the yard, and that’s fine with me. Usually it blocks weeds pretty well, and then we don’t have to mow that area. A great plan! And a much better one than us making our yard into a vast expanse of cement, which I think was my husband’s suggestion. I have strategically planted many items over our ten years at this house. It is very pretty now, with little areas of flowers for each season. But it’s like mowing around land mines. And after a hard day of work, it doesn’t thrill my husband to stroll through my landscaping pushing the mower.

Right now, the daffodils, the grape hyacinths, periwinkle and tulips are displaying their colors. The hosta is uncurling it’s large leaves, and the peonies are poking long stalks through the moist earth. The rose of sharon received a good trimming, much over due. I pulled up the small elm trees that greet me every spring. At one time, I saved them all. Now I am heartless. I know what they become in just a couple of years. Tall lengths of greenery that need a chainsaw to keep them under control. I don’t have the energy anymore and our son-in-law is probably pretty  sick of them as well! Well, I must say I took mercy on three of them and planted them strategically. My husband was thrilled.

I scooped out water from my little pond. No frogs greeted me. A bit sad, but after our cold night last night, he probably thought it was winter again. He’ll be back to sing in a few nights. He loved all the rain. Maybe he’ll bring friends as he did one year. They sunbathed on the limestone surrounding the pond, jumping in when they saw me coming. The goldfish and the frogs seem to enjoy one another’s company.

grape-hyacinth-1347970_1920

I had several of these, displayed just as this picture represents. I love the purple with the white. So did our granddaughters! For now I have none gracing my yard. I tried to show them the beauty of the tiny bells as you see above, but they were more fun to pluck from the green stem. Next year, they will return! (And I hope my grandchildren will as well!)

Yes, I made it out to the yard today. And I remembered why I once spent so many hours out there. I sat at my bistro table and breathed deeply of the cool air, and was very thankful for all the hard work I’ve put in over the years.  For now we have a yard that is welcoming to people, birds, frogs, and grandchildren. It’s tranquil, and in a couple of weeks, the sound of water falling in my pond will add to the delight.

Periwinkle…what a lovely name for a delicate flower. flowers-1265770_1920

Cooler Days are Coming!

Summer! Hot and humid days, sun so bright that everything is a blur. Nights that barely dip below 75 degrees, the air dripping with moisture. That’s what it’s been like here in Kansas. And I’m ready for fall!

I’ve been trying to get back on track with my walking. It really takes a nose dive during June, July and August. This morning, I finally made it out to the lake at around seven this morning. It was still ‘cool’, in a manner of speaking. Only 72 degrees out. But the steam hung heavy over the lake and after twenty minutes, I was soaked through. Ugh! Our daughter’s dog, Buddy went with us. He gave up before us and just about needed a lift back to the van.

But before summer ends we still have tomatoes to redden on the vine. Lots of peppers to pick and cucumbers that are as big as zucchini squash. I have made refrigerator pickles in the past. They are my favorite because I can put them in a jar, add vinegar and spices, and let them sit. And I don’t have to add sugar. After one bite that puckered our lips and rolled our eyeballs, I added a little bit!

I love sour pickles, but these were over-the-top. The ‘weeds’ in the jar, as our son called them, are dill. I’ve grown my own in the past, but these are store bought.

To be fair, this summer has been a little different than others in the past. We’ve had lots of rain, sometimes torrential downpours. My little fountain has been filled to over-flowing many times this year. The flowers, grass and trees have loved it. My hedge has adored all the rain and this Monster Hedge deserves a post all it’s own. I planned to keep it trimmed up tight and neat. I wanted to keep it trimmed that way! But this hedge has a mind of it’s own and now, our son-in-law will have to return with the chain saw. Sorry David! I really did try to keep it under control.

The above picture on the left was taken in March, shortly after the hedge was trimmed back. It looked so forlorn! You can see the shepherd’s hook and the hedge is the same height. The next picture was taken a few minutes ago. You can’t see the shepherd’s hook enveloped by the branches, just the white bird feeder. The hedge is probably five feet higher than the top of the hook. The little fountain is covered as well. And I notice just now, my sun tea sitting on the table. It’s heated to around 100 degrees by now!

Summer…very special in it’s own way, but cooler days are coming and I can’t wait!