To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Unexpected Return

I've been purging, slowly, deliberately and steadily. I've noticed the past couple of years that I'm getting irritated with the stuff in my house, stuff I've paid good money for, stuff that's stored in boxes or totes, stuff that's taking up precious space in my house and in my psyche. No one is using this stuff and no one wants it. Why am I storing it? Oh, because I might want this for the cabin, or the grandbabes might wear that, or one of the kids might want these--ya know? I know you know.

It's been hard--I won't kid you. At first, when I thought I was getting rid of stuff, I soon realized that I was really just moving everything around and repacking it better so it looked like I had more room. Later, as I was digging in an upstairs closet, I found a tote of stuff that I was sure I had gotten rid of and you know what? I was mad, like, grrrrr mad. I couldn't believe that I still had this tote of stuff, this stuff, this stuff I was positive I had gotten rid of. I needed a better plan. A plan that didn't include shuffling.

Here was my plan--start with three boxes. 1. Goodwill 2. Garage Sale 3. Ebay/Craig's List

Many days I would walk through each room and take at least one item and place it in one of those boxes. Some days I would tackle an area like my bedroom closet, or the linen closet, or the desk in the livingroom, perhaps a kitchen drawer or cupboard. If an item went in Goodwill, then I wrote the item on a list so I could deduct the donation. If it went in the garage sale, I priced it right then and there so everything was ready to sell. If it went on Ebay or Craig's List, well, I'm slowly listing those. Fortunately, that box is really bugging me at the moment so I'm researching the items to list at a fair price and in all fairness, there's not a lot in that box.

I've already made several runs to Goodwill and we just had a garage sale over the weekend. Whatever didn't sell, I logged and placed in boxes and then delivered the whole lot to Goodwill with a fond adieu as I drove away, relieved that none of that stuff was coming back home with me. Do I have lots more space? Not yet, but the space I have isn't crammed full of stuff anymore. I know I've gotten rid of boxes and boxes of stuff, but I can hardly remember any of it. Imagine that. I've found that the more I got rid of, and didn't miss, the more comfortable I was with letting more go. I stopped thinking about all the money I spent on this stuff because really, was it worth any more to me to have it boxed up and shoved in a closet? Okay, the money I would still have in my pocket had I not purchased all that stuff I just gave away would make me happy, but hey, lesson learned.

But here's the thing. I called this post the Unexpected Return because when I got up this morning I realized I didn't have anything pressing that I had to do. No clutter to take care of, no piles to sort through, no boxes accusing me of being a hoarder and slacker. Hmmm, I had time on my hands. My unexpected return is that I had time for doing what I wanted to do with no guilt, time for playing in the kitchen--which I did. It was a baking sort of morning and you know what? That's okay because I assure you, neither of these will be left in a week and they will certainly not be packed away in a box. No, they will most certainly be consumed.
Am I finished purging? Heaven's no, I still have a lot of purging to do, but I've eliminated so many of the glaring items that were in my home just because. I still have lots of boxes in the attic and cellar that need to be gone through, but for now I think I'll reward myself and spend some more quiet time in the kitchen.

Have you purged? Have you had an unexpected return? Would you care to share?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Snap. BOOM!!

Wow, what a storm we had last night. I knew there was something wierd about it when I was driving home from work and the lightening seemed especially snappy, not like normally where I see the flash work it's way across the sky. No, these were like, snap!, sudden flashes that blazed and burned out. I sat on my enclosed front porch for over an hour watching the lightening and listening to the booms of thunder. Even the thunder was different in that I normally hearing rumbling, but these were just booms, like a gunshot. Oh, and something else that was unusual is that every time the lightening flashed, my front door crackled. Wierd, but I didn't give it too much thought. I went inside to check the weather on TV and B called. We talked for a bit about how wierd the storm was acting and then I opened the front door to go back out on the porch. Still holding the doorknob, and just as I stepped out onto the porch, snap, BOOM, lightening struck in the park right in front of my house. I screamed (I'm pretty sure B is deaf in that ear now) and then I laughed as I told B about the lightening. Then I saw all the steam coming up from where the lightening hit and wouldn't you know, I didn't have my camera handy. It was then that I realized that my hand and feet stung. Hmmm, I think I got a little flash from the lightening. Later, after the storm passed, I went outside and took this picture. You can see where it hit on the bottom of the picture and then the crazy squiggles from moving through the grass.
Guess I should pay attention when my door starts crackling...or just wear shoes during a storm. Perhaps I should just stay inside?

Monday, June 20, 2011

He's like that.

He loves strawberries, almost as much as he loves watermelon and that's saying a lot. A few weeks ago when he went with me to pick up vegetable plants for the garden, he practically begged me to buy strawberry plants. I told him my garden isn't set up for a berry patch because they need lots of space. He thought he could take them home instead, but his yard isn't set up for a berry patch either. We compromised. I said I would take him berry picking with me this year instead. Can we say, excited?? Well, strawberry season is upon us and since we had to be to the berry patch early in the morning, he might as well spend the night with me. You like how I worked it so I could have a Little with me?

Friday night we went for a bike ride. We meant to go for a long ride, but I noticed he wasn't coasting and upon further inspection, I realized his brake was always rubbing on the tire so the poor little guy was pedaling twice as hard as he should have. We stopped to rest, he needed a breather, but we were devoured by mosquitos. Sorry darlin', I know you're tired, but you have to keep moving. We made it just over 5 miles by the time we finished and he didn't quit. He's like that.
We'll wait til the bike is fixed and try this again, but next time we'll bring bug spray too.

Both of us were hot after the ride and since it's summer, and since the night was still young -- we stopped for ice cream, unintentionally big ice cream.
Hmmm, must burn off the sugar. I know, let's go for a couple mile walk to get a movie!

 I have to laugh because he was crazy excited about the walk. He's like that.

And he talked all the way there and all the way back. He's like that too.

We were up late watching the movie and I reminded him that we had an early morning if we were going to pick berries. "That's okay," said he, "you just call me and I'll get right up." And he did. He's like that.

I picked most of the berries we brought home. He ate most of the berries he picked -- and he talked, to me, to the people running the berry patch and to the other patrons who were picking near us. I did say he loved strawberries. Did I mention how much he loves conversation?
I could hear him in the livingroom playing Legos while I cleaned and prepped berries for the freezer. It's so entertaining to eavesdrop on his imaginative play. 26 pounds of prepped berries later, the two of us wandered out to the back yard to sit in the shade and while I worked on an embroidery piece, he lay on a sheet in the grass playing with toy farm animals. It wasn't long before he lost interest in having his sheep attack the cows and his chickens beat up the pigs (he's like that) so he rolled himself up in the sheet, which set off a fit of giggling. He's like that.

After untangling himself from the sheet, he flipped it into the air to try to lay it flat again, but instead it blew over the top of him. Then, well, I don't know, but it seems his boyishness just overcame him because he was soon running, and jumping, and twisting and tumbling in the sheet and you would have thought it was the best toy in the world with all his grins and giggles and laughter.
He had a fabulous time in that silly old white sheet. It captured him, he captured it, it was a rug, he was a ghost, it was a flying carpet, he was a mummy. He thinks I should keep this silly old white sheet handy for the next time he's over. He really does think it's the "best thing ever!" He's like that.

And I love that about him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Clearing my head.

I arrived home in the early evening yesterday after a long and trying day. I wandered about the house looking for something to do to help my mind relax. Finding no crafts I wished to begin nor tasks that could be accomplished in the time I had left before dark, I fell back on an activity that has never failed me. I climbed on my bike for a ride...a 20 mile ride, as it turns out. I used to walk when I needed to clear my head, but after getting my bike in ship-shape condition I found that nothing clears the head better than a good hard ride. I'm compelled to focus as I frequently ride on city streets and so must be on the lookout for cars, pedestrians and potholes, all of which leave little freedom for dwelling on irksome thoughts. Just what I needed.

I rode through town until I picked up a trail following South along the river. I rode hard, feeling the burn in my knees and thighs - a good burn. I forgot to hang a left over the bridge to cross the river and ended up at Millennium Park. Hmmm, that's not where I meant to be, but since I'm here...

It's a beautiful park to ride in, the paths are clear and well maintained, and they wrap around a series of ponds and lakes. I often meet runners, roller bladers, bikers, fisherman and picnickers enjoying the park as well.

It looks like I used the wrong soap in the dishwasher again. (kidding) I'm pretty sure this is the fluff from the Cottonwoods. It looks cool on the ground, but it gets in my eyes and goes up my nose when I'm riding. achoo

When the park was developed from an old gravel pit, the planning committee had the foresight to be sure the meadows would be filled with wildflowers. I think the idea is that if a plant can't survive on it's own without maintenance and watering, well, it wouldn't survive then. They really do quite well here. Are they all native? I don't know.

I don't even know the names of some. I'm sure I could look them up, but hey, I'm just here for the ride.

And in some places the path winds it's way right next to the water.

I dawdled in the park, taking a few photos; stopping to enjoy the many views; gazing about at the scenery; enjoying a fabulous Spring evening.

And all too soon it was time to head for home. I had a long way to go to get back to the city and I don't like to ride the streets after dark. So, I pedaled North, enjoying the solitude and feeling the cool breeze on my face as I wended my way through the woods.

Just as I exited the path onto the street, I was greeted with this fine sight.

"Why, hello Mr. Moon. Are you here to keep me company the rest of the way home? Thank you, I would love your company."

 I made it all the way, but for the last couple of blocks before the street lights came on. Home again, safe and sound, and my mind full of peace. Just what I needed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fire Engine Red

Favorite youngest son was over this weekend and together we worked on one of the many projects in queue around my house that require orbital sanders, paint stripper and new paint. He has his own place and was in need of a coffee table. Hmmm, I just happened to have a coffee table that I had pulled from the dumpster where I work, and it was in need of a new home. How fortuitous!

I love my orbital sander. It makes short work of projects, but I wish it could bend around curves and reach into crevices. Would that be too much to ask? We tried hand sanding the legs and sides, but only until my arm gave out. Alas, time for the wicked paint stripper. Sometimes, it must be done.

The color he chose doesn't surprise me in the least as he's always been fond of bright color. It's not orange, even though the picture looks like it. It really leans more toward red, but it certainly has an orange tone to it. What a difference! This was our first time using the Behr Paint and Primer in One and I will swear by it. It took two coats to get the perfect coverage, which is much better than the normal two coats of primer and then two coats of paint.

This beauty is currently seasoning in my garage for a couple days and then it leaves for it's new home. Did I mention that I pulled this from a dumpster where I work so the only cost was a quart of paint?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Painted Fingernails and Fish Heads

There is a campground close to where I live; it's right next to the highway and I, being the somewhat snobby outdoors person that I am, have ridiculed said campground my entire life. I am not alone in my ridicule as everyone I know ridicules this camp. It's too close to town, too close to the highway, too crowded and the lake is too small. But then in 2010 my daughter-in-law's father parked his 5th wheel there with the idea that it was close enough to town for everyone to visit without too much trouble. I reluctantly agreed to go for a visit, which inevitably changed my mind about this 'too everything' campground. If you have kids, it is the perfect campground as the whole park is geared towards family entertainment. When it's BINGO night everyone shows up to play and appropriate campground gifts are awarded to the winners. How about a bundle of firewood? Or a flashlight? Or a snack cooler? There are numerous potluck dinners, hay rides and barrel train rides, kid games and family activities. There are row boats and canoes and kayaks, as well as the swimming, fishing, and playgrounds. I joined my son and d-i-l this past Saturday over Memorial Weekend for another visit. Please join me for a brief summation of our adventures.

The Delightful Miss M was dressed appropriately for the morning bike parade and won 1st place. It might have helped that she was wearing camouflage and had an appropriate sign on the front of her bike. Hmmm...

Daddy took the training wheels off her bike and she learned just today how to ride on the trail that goes around the back side of the lake. Here she comes all grins and smiles...

And there she goes...

Sir S relaxing with one of his favorite pastimes. The lake is kept well stocked with all sorts of fish and while most of the fishing for this family is catch and release, sometimes a fish swallows the hook and must be eaten since it won't live anyway. Everyone baits their own hook (except for Grandma Mostly) while Mommy and Daddy help with removing the fish from the hook.

This would be Miss M making the fish head talk. She seemed fascinated with the innards of this fish after making daddy name all the parts he was removing. I think it's gross, but hey, I'm not 5. ~grins~

There was an after dinner dance in the club house complete with mirror ball and fog machine, and everyone, from the young to the old, joined in the dancing. You know how much joy and fun everyone has at wedding receptions with the dancing and when it's over you always wish there were more receptions to go to because it was so much fun? Well, these dances are the very same. You get all the fun of the dancing and you don't have to wait for someone to get married.

There was booty shakin'...
Move makin'...
And gettin' your groove on... Good times were had by all.

And when it was all over and the last song was about to play, the DJ said it had been fun, but he wanted people to remember what the weekend was really about. He dedicated the last song to those soldiers who came before and those who will come after...and he played "Proud to be an American."
And many of those in the room formed a spontaneous circle around this soldier who was dancing the last dance with his wife and daughter. Yes, we danced...and we remembered...and we were grateful.