Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Home and Garden

I have been having so much fun watching the garden grow… picture taking has been sporadic, but I think I have documented most of the perennials as they bloom (for my own future reference and enjoyment).

The dramatic poppies bloomed and faded over a week ago, about when the strawberries started to be pickable and some yellow flowers were starting (still going), but I have no idea what they are (do you? leave me a comment!). I have picked and frozen over 2 pounds of strawberries from our garden (probably for jam), but they are really winding down and I don’t expect much more.


The back rose bush is going strong, though the heavy rains have been knocking off petals right and left. There is another rose of unknown color by the front porch, but I think our brutal winter has depressed it mightily, since it has no buds at all and just looks stunted and sad.


The lilies have started blooming in places, and one swath of them is completely covered in garden snails. I had to look closer… I have never seen anything like that before.


The daylilies are just starting, both the invasive orange type and the more controlled yellow ones. Forgive the black and white… the orange lily just wasn’t popping with a reddish brick wall behind it.

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And there are other little happy things everywhere:

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And a few not-so-happy things that are showing the real damage from such an unrelenting winter… with trees now in full foliage, it is clear that the grafted rose of sharon tree that was blooming so beautifully when we first saw the house last August is 75% dead. And there are is a large leaf-bare side to a front maple as well. Not pictured is some badly wind blighted holly and a few other unidentified bushes and trees that just had a little too much winter for their own good.


While wandering with my camera after the rain, I even found one little (big) bat sleeping in the tree.


As to the “home” part of this… Here is one of the doors I was thinking about painting (possibly red)… I am supposed to be resting and not over exerting my back, but when I have time and feel up to it, I have been slowly slowly scraping off the peeling paint in preparation for repainting. Sometimes I just can’t help myself… so… I mean to say… it’s almost ready to be painted. Which means it is looking terrible and of course I want to paint it. Right now. And then considering the house as a whole… the shutters are currently an orangey peach. I am gunning for eye-pleasing contrast, and thinking classic colonial black might just be the ticket. But then the (ample) trim might need to be painted white from the current gray… it’s getting complicated…


There’s no place like home!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Listing to the Left (or, My Month in Bullet Points)

I had written a whole whiny blog post about this over a week ago, but it turns out that just writing it and ruminating for a while was enough to get the angst and frustration out of my system. The bullet points?

  • I hurt my back a couple weeks ago (almost right after my last blog post).
  • I was in heaps of pain.
  • I am now doing physical therapy for a bulging disc in my lower back as well as sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

I wasn’t feeling very happy or articulate the week it happened which has led to more blog silence than I had hoped when I so optimistically laid out our summer plans. I was, however, able to sketch out a picture which, I feel, accurately captured my mood as well as that of the people who have the good fortune to call me mom.


I’ve sold my art before, people. True story.  This was a masterful self portrait. #unappreciatedinmyowntime

A few weeks into rehabbing my back, I am feeling much better but I am certainly not pain-free. But then, I wasn’t pain-free before this most recent excruciating occurrence. I had been having more and more frequent events (caused by participating in such activities as lifting things, bending, and sleeping) that caused postural crookedness, stiffness, and back pain. I still wake up every day with back pain. I am happy that, at least now, I am doing something about it. At the tender age of 33, I have a lot of life left to live, and only one back to see me through. So… fixing ‘er up is a good investment.

The sticky part is that, while I am convalescing, I can’t lift things (or people). I have decided that I will limit my lifting of anything heavier than… oh, let’s just say… my sewing machine :) And, since I have been told to spend several hours of every day (and every night) lying on my back with my legs elevated, I have also solicited a lengthy list of summer reading material from people I respect. I am several books into that list at present, and am enjoying it:

  • The Client, by John Grisham (a re-read for me, but it was on hand before the requested library books were available)
  • The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (excellent, and interestingly written from the point of view of a man who was also injured and recovering while flat on his back)
  • The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander (simply fascinating; still in progress, but the gritty reality of crushing icepack and survival-against-all-odds is inspiring)

Lots of resting is not to say that I can’t still do most everyday tasks at this point in life, since I have no tiny baby to care for (just a tantrum-prone 3 year old and 3 big kids who can do almost everything for themselves). I still go grocery shopping and cook and take the kids places, but I need to be reasonable with my activity. Which means I have had to shelve basically all of my home improvement plans for now. I had wanted to do a few projects after school was out but before a baby shower that will be at my house next weekend, but that was clearly just not going to happen. I am supposing that mid to late July might be a good time to think about picking up where I left off, and in the meantime I am dreaming of what else I want to do:

  • Paint the entry and stairs and hallway. And all the interior trim I have not yet painted (there’s a lot).
  • Caulk the exterior and the sunroom (winter will be back before we know it!).
  • Re-color the grout in the kitchen/hall/sunroom/bathrooms. Painstaking and tedius hands-and-knees work, but it will be worth it at some point.
  • Paint the exterior doors and shutters. I was initially thinking of doing a faux wood finish, but (after thoroughly considering the wear-and-tear of 4 kids with varying degrees of proficiency on bicycles) I am currently pondering red doors and black shutters. Classic colonial. Still not sure what I will do about the garage door. And I might replace the current falling-apart-injection-molded-ill-fitting shutters with DIY correctly-sized board-and-batten ones with authentic-looking hardware. So, the jury is still out and maybe some more thinking is a good thing.
  • Renovate the sunroom bathroom. Remove a couple defunct cabinets and counter and put in a full closet with doors for towels, sunscreen and other pool items. Replace the sink/counter/cabinet with something nicer. Paint the bathroom.
  • Repair the fallen and loose tiles in the pool, and fix the damaged pool coping. Learning that pools can be spelled W-O-R-K if you don’t have piles of M-O-N-E-Y.

Of the things I can do without guilt or fear of hurting myself, there is also quite a lot to keep my upright daylit hours busy:

  • I just helped my parents stage their rental house (the one I grew up in) to hopefully sell it.
  • I made strawberry jam.
  • I am planning to continue to work on making custom window treatments for the whole house - I just finished up and installed 4 curtain panels for the boys’ room.
  • I made some baby gifts for my new niece or nephew due October-ish.
  • I have a small cushion reupholstery project to finish for a friend before school starts.
  • The list goes on.

So… there you have it. A moment in the life of a recovering person who stinks at doing nothing. I will report back, hopefully soon, of the things that are occupying my mind and hours. It is still summer, after all, and I intend to enjoy it…

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wheeeee!!! It’s the Last Day of School!!!

Today is the last day of school. It’s not even a half day. It’s like… *mental math fail*… a quarter day. We will say goodbye to the school at 10:30 AM and go straight to Dairy Queen (lunch be darned!) to celebrate the start of our collective easy breezy summer freedom.


Yesterday there were raisins stuck to the floor, a broken attic fan to deal with, home improvement clutter all over the kitchen and school papers strewn through out the house from classroom cleanup. I was sweaty, sore, and crabby. But today… today is the start of something new. SOMETHING WONDERFUL!!!

My 4 children and I will do so many fun things every day, they will ALL be asleep each night before their precious heads hit the pillow. I believe.


We will search out every free local activity, museum, and park and enjoy each and every one of them without getting hurt at all.


I will take the kids to the public library every week where they will select educational grade-appropriate reading material and the occasion rainy-day documentary while being complement-worthy quiet and keeping their hands and feet and teeth to themselves.


We will hit up the produce market like a well oiled machine with no need to discipline anybody mid-citrus aisle. We will go strawberry picking and no one will fall in the mud or declare that they “just… can’t… hold it…” the moment we park. Also the trip will be faster than going alone because they will all be so helpful!


We will take daily walks for fresh air and exercise while gathering wild black raspberries and singing songs in rounds and we won’t even encounter any poison ivy (or dinosaurs).


My 3 year old will potty train himself in 2 days and be able to handle a four hour roadtrip with only one pee break, and that singular stop will happen at an impeccably clean gas station, but he will still decide not to crawl on the floor or lick the partition wall… on principal.


We will have quiet rest times every day from 1-3 PM. Swimming will happen only after mom has had a sufficient nap.


I will teach the kids to sew and cook and make their own lunches. They will all listen intently to my instructions and I will not have to treat any burns or clean up any hidden messes from anyone sneaking the cooling baked goods.


We might even decide that we don’t actually need to avoid biohazard indoor play areas and we will absolutely not get some sort of nasty stomach bug that will ravage the extended family vacation. No way.


It will always be sunny but no one will ever get sunburned, and the mosquitos will turn into rainbows and unicorns.


Verily, friends, I will be banging on the locked school doors come early-July begging them to take my children back early. However, right now, I am still under the beautiful warm-weather-induced delusion that is, actually, SUMMER. You know? Where the living is easy?

Don’t you dare  tell me anything to the contrary today OR SO HELP ME I WILL TURN THIS BLOG AROUND SO FAST YOUR HEAD WILL SPIN!!!


Happy Summer “Vacation” to all you fellow moms of school-agers out there! Get earplugs. And rum. Godspeed!