Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Concrete lessons

My new living space has lots of windows and light. Most of the windows are covered with paper until the blinds come in, but the French doors across from my desk and the window to the right are bare. As a result, I’m like a fish in a gold bowl—except there’s usually no one out there to see. Today there was a whole crew of concrete people—preparing to pour the patio, taking up the old sidewalk and getting ready to pour a new one. I was treated to a fascinating study in people’s behavior and a construction process.

These men work hard. They were here when I got up at 8:30—okay, I overslept—and some were still working at 5:30 tonight. They work with picks and sledgehammers, slamming them into the ground, picking up huge chunks of concrete and pitching them into some kind of motorized wagon that disposes of them. I saw them standing around frequently and figured they had to take breaks from that hard labor. They churn up the dirt, then rake it and pounds it flat, painstaking work. By the end of the day they had made an absolute mess of my back yard, which was already a mess. But the forms were in place, and I could see where the patio and curving walkway will be.

I had intended to ask neighbor Greg to mow the grass in back today, but he came back to the cottage before I could do that and said there was so little grass anyway he meant to go after it with the weed eater. The worker mens (a grandchild’s phrase) even tore up my large, flourishing turk’s cap but Greg says you can’t kill them, so I guess it will bloom again.

Today’s work was not as noisy as I’d dreaded but they apparently cut through concrete because occasionally the air was thick with a white powder—that can’t be healthy. It was that way when the physical therapist came, and I knew he intended for me to walk down the ramp. I balked, because I didn’t want to go out in that thick dust.

 We walked in the house. I asked if he was comfortable with me using the walker when home alone, and he said he was. “Are you?” he asked. I figured I have to be, because if I don’t start walking more, I’ll never walk again. And the surgeon recommended a lot more walking. So watch my dust! (Bad pun)

On a completely unrelated note, my Scottish heart beat faster tonight. I found on Facebook a lovely rendition of “Loch Lomand.” I can remember singing it with my dad on one of our piano nights. We had a book of folk songs-I have it still—and would sing the Scottish ones with special fervor. Dad loved “Loch Lomand.” His signature song on the piano was “Red Wing.” I can still sing the chorus to that one. What a fine memory to have.

This is my fourth night in the cottage, and I am still happy as a clam. Tonight my dining pal Betty brought spaghetti from Chadra—so delicious. I am one lucky lady.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pictures…and I promise the last cottage blog

     I'm sure regular readers are tired of my move to the cottage, so this is the last of my reports, and is mostly a visual one.
      When I walked into the newly furnished cottage Sat. night, it was pristine and spare. Clean surfaces, a desk without much on it. Today it looks a lot different—it looks lived in. My desk is messy, though I’ve worked all day to make sense out of the mess. The rest of the cottage looks lived in. As neighbor Jay said last night, “It looks like you’ve lived here forever.”

Bookcase in living area
my desk, messier than usual
This was to be my hideaway, my solitary retreat. I have yet to spend a night alone. I mentioned the three grandchildren the first night. Jacob spent the night last night and seems set to do so again tonight. It’s all good.
Living area

the bar
zoning forbids two kitchens on one property
so we're calling this the bar
I cannot have a stove but I can have
anything that plugs in--hot plate, electric skillet,
toaster oven, Keurig. It'll do.

bar storage area

Pretty high cotton, don't you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Living in the cottage

My work crew

I have the most cozy, comfortable new home you can imagine, small yet with the feeling of space. The movers came about 12:30 yesterday, and it took them less than two hours.  Then my family went to work, forbidding me to come out here. When they allowed me, about six, I walked into a fully decorated space—furniture right where I had envisioned it, bookcase full of books, pictures hung---that part was really neat because pictures in new spaces looked like new art. Some people said they’d never seen this or that piece before, and I had to tell them where they’d hung in the house. I'm disappointed because I looked forward to showing them off.
     I would show you pictures but my computer is not cooperating, and I'm frustrated. Maybe tomorrow, if the gods are aligned.
     Almost as soon as I was in the new space, people began to arrive. Actually, my brother and sister-in-law were already here, sitting in my new living area. We had a full house for a while, laughing, talking exclaiming about how wonderful everything looked.
My brother and sister-in-law, waiting for the party
in the living area

For my first night in the cottage I had a guard troop—an eleven-year-old, ten-year-old, and nine-year old. I went to sleep to the blessed sound of children’s chatter and woke to it this morning. In the middle of the night, I woke to silence.

Today Jordan and Christian spent the day coping—or trying to—with the mess inside the house, much of it stuff I’d left behind. People kept bringing me boxes from the kitchen—cookware, glasses, canned goods, etc. I sent a few items back, and my sons put the others in place. Decisions: like, I don’t need a full set of china—so most of it went to a high shelf I can’t reach and four plates, etc. down where I can reach them. Jamiie organized the kitchen while Colin shimmed the bookcase which tilted forward alarmingly, put up hooks in my closet, and such.

I have fancy stuff too—efficiency HVAC unit that I can’t remember how it works but I know it takes as much energy as a light bulb and keeps the cottage at a really comfortable temperature. And then there’s the bidet, which everyone, particularly the kids, have discovered with delight. Thanks to my brother, who said some time ago, “I am determined you will have a bidet, and I am determined you will like it.” He was right.

It will take time to settle in and fit everything in, but it will shake down. The basic work is done. Neighbor Jay came in for happy hour tonight and said it looked like I’d been here forever. Great compliment.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Before pictures

Tomorrow is moving day, and there’s not much else on my mind, so I thought I’d share some empty-room pictures before we clutter them with furniture.

My closet with Elfa arrangement system

hall, looking from bedroom to living room
bathroom is on the left

Living area, will combine office and sitting area

This will be view from my desk
Patio will be outside French doors
Someday I'll have landscaping

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moving is getting exciting

A friend once took me through the house she was thinking of buying. It was a wreck, with fast food containers thrown in a corner, an awkward arrangement of rooms, you name it. The next time she took me through it, after she’d bought it and remodeled it, it was an absolutely charming cottage with Saltillo tiles, built-in bookcases, French doors, and a functional kitchen. Of course, it was spotless-trash long since gone.

I don’t have that vision, that ability to look at a space and see what it could be. I’ve been arranging the cottage in my mind for weeks but I won’t know what works and what doesn’t until I actually see furniture in it. Jordan, bless her, measured all the furniture and then took me out there to measure the space. I took in everything she said—mostly that my bed is really too big for the space—but I couldn’t envision it. I’ll have to wait till Saturday, which is moving day.

Black Tie Movers are coming at one o’clock. Google them, and you’ll see two rows of young men in white shirts and black ties. Great marketing ploy. I had envisioned sitting in the cottage and regally directing them to put this here and that there. No such luck. I am to nap, while Jordan directs them, and I am not allowed out there until happy hour. I guess in a way it’s a relief—I’ll be surprised by the (semi-) finished product, and we’ll move on from there to see what fits and what doesn’t. I will have one thing that is a great luxury for me—a California-style closet. The closet is spacious, and the built-ins went in today-a marvel of convenience.  I can’t wait to get things in there.

Meantime there’s a lot of work to be done. Profound thanks to Sue Lyon Boggs and Teddy Springfield, who have fed us several meals and helped pack. The other day Teddy packed boxes and boxes of books—and brought the boxes—and today they both arrived with boxes, wrapping paper for pictures, and tape. When they got through, my dressers were empty and my office and bedroom walls bare. Great friends.

And to others who have brought meals. Last night three of my close friends brought supper—a super spinach dip, chicken tetrazzini, and brownies with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. We had a jolly dinner party in the midst of chaos.

I am, as I’m always aware, so blessed by family and friends. And looking forward to having my family, or most of them, here this weekend. Moving is traumatic, now way around that, but we’re making this as smooth as possible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Downsizing: to keep or discard?

At Sunday night supper, a friend and I had a friendly but heated discussion. I was explaining to Sue, my good friend, that I had two marble-topped pieces of furniture that matched my bed but probably wouldn’t fit in the cottage. Her instant reply was, “Get rid of them.” I said no, they were family pieces, very old, with both sentiment and value attached to them.

“So are you going to pay storage fees on them for forty years?”

“Probably,” Jordan said. They have rented two storage units for the leftovers from their house already.

Sue was completely exasperated.

The world, I’ve discovered during this move and downsizing, is made up of sentimentalists and hard-hearted realists. I am obviously a sentimentalist. I have many antiques--not Louis 14th spindly things but good solid pieces from late 19th and early 20th century America. My mother’s secretary—when my brother and I look at it, we see Mom sitting there paying bills.
My bed—mahogany, with a six-foot headboard and four-foot footboard. I remember crawling into it as a toddler when I had a nightmare. The two marble-topped pieces mentioned above match the bed.

Jordan and Christian are keeping the sideboard that I remember from my Canadian grandmother’s house—built in 1846—and my dining table, which is not a family piece but beautiful nonetheless.

My point is that so many of these pieces hold memories that I could not just get rid of them. This weekend I will offer a couple of things again to my children, and I’ve discussed the marble-topped with my brother. If some of those pieces go to storage, maybe on down the line some grandchildren will want them. My niece was delighted to get a set of her grandmother’s china and said, ‘I’m just grateful to have anything of hers.” So maybe we’re a family of sentimentalists. I like to think that.
And here is a corner of my bedroom during the move--not much sentimental about this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oh, my! Life is getting complicated


After--kind of sad but it will hold books again
last night I made the bold and rash statement that I now could wrap my mind around this move. Tonight I’m wondering whatever I was thinking. I spent part of the morning watching a friend work—those are the kinds of friends to have, and I am blessed. Teddy Springfield, who is nicely tall, wrapped up emptying my office bookshelves and getting rid of the junk on the credenza (fancy word for what it actually is). Then he went for more boxes and boxed the books in another bookcase in the back room—mostly either those I’ve written or by good friends. I was delighted that Teddy found a Bob Flynn book he wanted to take home and read. And, bless him, he said he’ll come back another day.

My desk is a mess, and I must organize the things on it. Some receipts, but I dealt today with the alarm company and arranged for security in the cottage. Have to talk to Lewis tomorrow about smoke alarms—it’s those little things you don’t think about.

My neighbors came for happy hour and a self-guided tour of the cottage? What’s to need a guide for in three rooms, two of them quite small. They were enthusiastic, as everyone is. I sometimes wonder if they like the space that much or if they’re trying to reassure me that I’ll like it. I’m in a dither about window treatments—and there are seven windows and the French doors. I don’t want to block the light, so traditional blinds are not my first choice. But anything is expensive, complicated by the fact that on this old property no windows are standard size and no two are the same. So whatever I choose will have to be special ordered, and I should have done it a couple of months ago.

Tonight I spent a frustrating hour trying to wade through the Humana Pharmacy website—my prescription list shows medications I never heard of. That’s frustration enough, but half the time the website booted me and then wouldn’t accept my password.

I am going to spend the remaining sliver of the evening reading cooking magazines! That’s my own private rebellion.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to school blues

Something about the first day of school makes me nostalgic, as I suppose it does a lot of parents and grandparents. Because I live across from Lily B. Clayton Elementary Schoo, when Jacob was still a toddler, we used to sit and watch the kids go to school or leave in the afternoon. When he was about three, he took good friend Linda by the hand, led her across the street, and said, “This is where I’m going to go to school.” He didn’t live in the district but he got to go there because I was the day care person of record. This year his parents live in my house, and he’s fully legit.

He’s also sad—seems impossible, but this is his last year at Lily B. Next year he goes to middle school. This morning he hunkered by the front door and watched people arriving. Then he was off to school, where his parents took the traditional picture of him standing by the steps. They have taken that picture every year, in the same spot, and charting his growth is really interesting.

Today he went off looking spic and span. Here is what he and his buddies looked like after school when it rained. As his father keeps telling me, “Boys will be boys.”

Ford, an Austin grandson, went off wearing a TCU T-shirt. His mom says he wears something TCU almost every day. They will be up here this weekend so Ford and Jacob can go to “Meet the Frogs.”

Facebook this morning was full of proud parents’ back-to-school pictures—such fun to see, especially the kids who are starting kindergarten. They have such a long haul ahead of them, but I don’t think they see it that way. They see it as a new adventure, and I hope for each and every one it is that.

It’s a new start for me, too, as I prepare to move into my cottage this weekend. It’s a new start on a new year and a new adventure, and it always makes me optimistic

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Getting my game face on

Last night the happy hour folks at my house decided to go to the Mediterranean restaurant down the street. Did I want to go? I’m usually up for any company, any outing, but I heard myself say no. I wanted to stay home, make creamed chicken (that earned a few “Yuck” comments) and work at my desk. In retrospect it was a good/bad decision—they were gone almost three hours and I would have gotten antsy. My creamed chicken had too much wine and not enough milk—didn’t know I knew such a thing as too much wine, did you?

The larger issue, and one that concerns me, is that I’d been home, alone, at my desk, all day. I should have jumped at a chance to go somewhere with friends.

This morning, I woke at seven, perfectly rested—went to the restroom and crawled in bed to doze for an hour and a half. I didn’t need to do that. When I finally got up, my household—Jordan and two ten-year-olds—was in full swing. It dawned on me that the reason I’m lingering in bed these days is that nothing urgent, no projects on my desk, call to me.

As I’ve said before recently, I keep busy. When people ask what I’m writing, I tell them I’m managing my career—and that’s pretty much true. But I used to manage it and write, cook, etc. Cooking is hard, laundry is hard, and so I pretty much let a lot of things slide.

Late August, being the start of the school year, has always seemed like the start of a new year to me, much more than January 1. So my new-year resolution is to get my game face on, get more involved in the house, the move, new projects. I may not get it all done in one day, but I’ll do it. The path I’m on now leads to aging, and I don’t want that.

This week, I’ll start with packing personal belongings for Saturday’s big move. Company tonight brought an innovative supper—cheese, salami, smoked salmon and bread—and then they volunteered to help pack this week. I’ve got good friends.

Watch my dust! (Oops, I think I just mixed my metaphors).


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blogging and other matters

I haven’t blogged much this week because as I warned earlier I didn’t have that much to say and because brush fires connected to remodeling kept demanding my attention. For instance, we played musical refrigerators—everything inside went either to the apt. refrigerator that Jordan moved into the kitchen or to the new one in the cottage. Jordan and Christian had picked out a huge, fancy fridge, and it was delivered. My granddaughter transferred all the stuff from the small unit to the new one, but I didn’t get things from outside until last night—mayonnaise for example, which is to me a staple of existence.

Another morning, before ten, I greeted the dog groomer, the cleaning lady, an AT&T tech who was keeping an appointment that was cancelled, and the contractors who wanted to talk about window treatments—I am still out to lunch on that but have done some investigating. Pleated shades are expensive, especially since no two windows outside are standard size or even the same size—I need custom made.

I did write a lengthy blog last night, hit a button, and it disappeared. Too tired to reconstruct it. You really didn’t miss much--it was trivia. Part of it though was about the second night Jamie and Edie were here--we picked up Betty, my Wed. night dinner companion, and went to Bravo—a contemporary Italian food chain. Had a jolly time, including my recounting sitting in the car while Jamie and Eden loaded the wheelchair into the trunk. Jamie said, far too loudly, “I know. But she’s your grandmother and you’ll just have to put up with it.” Eden blushed furiously and I told her I knew she hadn’t said anything—her father’s idea of a joke. He kept us laughing through dinner. Jamie is forever my prankster.

Today I’m home working, while Jordan and Christian have enlisted friends, a Pod, and a U-Haul to empty their house. For Fort Worth in August, it’s a lovely day—in the 80s and off-and-on gentle showers. However, if you’re moving furniture, the rain is not so lovely.

We expect next weekend to be when we do the bulk of moving my stuff to the cottage. All my kids will be here—great reason for a family get-together. And they all sound anxious to help. The cottage is painted, although it may need a second coat, and according to all reports, looks lovely.

On a non-moving note, I’ve had the Olympics on but muted most of the time. Interesting to see how many of the athletes, men and women, sport large tattoo. Good for them. I am far less enthusiastic about the language on Facebook from Clinton and Obama haters—makes me realize that the level of civility in this country has dropped into a great abyss. I’ve taken to scolding. And when someone directly challenges me, I respond.

Busy this morning explaining to knuckleheads why Trump is in Baton Rouge and President Obama is not. The president went along with the governor’s request to stay away until next week, when more security personnel could be pulled from helping citizens to protect visiting dignitaries. Trump ignored it and went for a 49-second photo op; Obama agreed to abide by the request and will go next week. Probably won’t bring any Play-doh with him either.