Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Homes

# 9 is where I live. I'm told the richness of the soil in my yard is second only to a spot in Egypt. I have lived here for 8 years in a one story ranch house that is cozy. There will come a time when JB and I will move, probably to Provincetown and possibly close to my beloved Jessica and her family. But I will miss # 9. I will miss all the shrubs and trees and perennials I have planted; each season I plant like a turtle. I only do yard work that makes me happy. Because there are farms everywhere surrounding the college town where I live, I can buy hostas for $ 2-3 each and perennials for even less. Plant sales are abundant. Nothing could make me happier.

I am making progress. The yard is filling out.

In February JB and I came across a 1300 square feet house in Provincetown. We have had a condo in this town by the sea for many years, but this was a house! A rare house we could afford! We could make our own decisions, have more privacy.

We closed in April and put our dear condo on the market. Not a nibble so far. This is official high finance anxiety. We are so nervous we are ordering a Saint Joseph statue that comes with instructions to bury poor Saint Joseph upside down and then your house will sell. JB and I tip the odds when we can, so we're contracting with Saint Joe.

Meanwhile, we are obligated to rent out this house in Provincetown and in the past few months we are doing our best to get it cleaned up and ready for weekly renters. This has been a formidable task due to the fact that the house is old and I've been preoccupied with my Mother's move to a nursing home, my daughter's pregnancy, and my every loving ##@@&** knee problem that selfishly is demanding surgery.

But we've HAD to do what we can make the place attractive. We are on the home stretch. We've needed paintings and wall hangings. This is what we did today and it has been fun. These first shots are three ocean scenes painted on wood blocks. We've had them for a few years and finally they now have a home on our stairs Kind of an odd place but they look pretty nice.

 I am not doing this mixed media piece justice. The light was not right when I took these pictures. My  friend Joss painted and collaged this example of her fantastic South African art. She has earned success--how awesome! The true colors are so much more vibrant that I am showing you. But here it is above the sectional couch in this new house by the sea. How great.

And in the hallway to the kitchen now hangs Marianne's mandala, gifted to me because I just totally loved it and Marianne is a wonderful generous friend.

The little hall also leads to a back yard private deck. The house has very little yard but it has this deck. But first look here: how wrong that during a beautiful hopeful summer there is a crutch in this picture?!! Oh well. A time for patience, weight loss, and rehab. Oh well. Okay...I say. 

JB and I hung pictures, organized the kitchen, AND strung lights on that deck off the hall. I took this photo from the kitchen window through the screen. How awesome is this?! No doubt we and our family and friends will sit on this deck with the sparkly lights, look up to the ocean scented sky, and shout "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You." 

I'm not exactly saying life is easy: it most certainly is not. But there are moments when you get to hang the artwork of special people and string patio lights on a tall wood fence and that's quite lovely.

Here's wishing you some of the same. xo


Friday, June 28, 2013

Let it come
I'm not done
Problem one 
is not much fun

But problem two
could make me rue
From where it blew
I wish I knew.

Problem three
is my good knee
decided to be

My yard is has beckoned
Every second
But for now I reckon
I'm inside trekking 

Too much at once
I have a hunch
After lunch
I'll decide to crunch

Problems one two and three
Make room for tea
Welcome a tree
And of course still be me. 

Hello friends, ten days to my surgery, hopefully eleven days to my recovery. I don't like the thought of anesthesia and I can't say I'm confident I'll be skipping down the road this summer. But I'm exercising the muscles in my knee in preparation and I'm mediating so I'll be a calm cookie in that operating room.  It would be easy for me to be discouraged and fearful (which I am) but I'm not taking that lying down. Well, I may be lying down (sometimes) but I'm going to prove to myself that I'm up for a challenge.

Things could be a lot worse. I am not going to write about problems four five and six because surely that would be too much! Right?!

Here in the U.S. summer has begun and what could be better? My yard is doing fine without me. I will have fresh tomatoes and fresh corn in August. I will float in a pool and maybe the ocean in August. 

Meanwhile, in July, I will thank my family and friends for putting up with me.  :^)

I am ever an optimist; even if I know better, which is not the case here so far.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Dogs and cats and animals in general are in. From the look of my grocery store, I'd guess pictures of animals sell more greeting cards than any other subject. We humans are both warmed and fascinated by their cuddly innocence.

The industry of animal photos has bothered me for a long time. Do these puppies look content to you? Remember that famous picture of a cat holding on by its claws for dear life? You can be sure that photo shoot was no fun for the cat. The truth is that most of the dogs and cats on cards and posters and advertisements do not live with families and are often not well cared for. They are commodity. The TV ads where an elephant or a tiger is walking in an office or an eagle is perched on a fancy car: those animals and birds are part of an inventory where they are rented out for photo shoots. Their lives are not easy. 

I know someone who loves animal cards and with every good intention sends me the cutest cards with darling messages of good will and inspiration. I haven't had the heart to tell her that I cringe every time I see one of those cards because too often I can see the anguish or the vacancy in the animal's eyes.

It would do my heart and my sensibility good if we would all be (more) aware that those cards and ads are not cuddly or innocent. Please do not support the practice of using animals in this way.

Don't overlook the eyes. That will tell you.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mom & the Nursing Home: Part 2

worth clicking to enlarge...

She is doing fine. I think she is glad she can relax, not have to try so hard, knowing she will be taken care of.

She is staying up for more of the day, sitting at a table with several other women who sometimes don't make a whole lot of sense and my Mother seems relaxed about that too. She is playing games and listening to songs she has known most of her life.

I took this picture yesterday at the nursing home cook out. The sun was bright and there was no shade so they gave all the residents hats. I think my Mother liked that too.

I have a lot on my plate: surgery, a condo that has to sell and hasn't, an expected grandbaby any day, filing for medicaid, figuring out why our dog Chase is howling (and waking us up) every night. 

My worse fear may become a grateful relief. My Mother seems happy. She is in a nice place with nice people. I won't get any more calls in the middle of the night to come and stay with her so she'll stay safe. I won't have to be her only universe. 

My Mother at 97 is pushing herself to fit in and enjoy herself. "Why not?" she tells me. "A person would be crazy not to try."

I think this will be one of my favorite pictures of my Mother for all time.


Monday, June 17, 2013

This and That and This and That

What a week. I am in the twilight zone, really. I spent five hours at New England Deaconess Hospital last Friday for a pre-operation run through and I left both very relieved and a little concerned. The relief is that I am going to have about three or four weeks of a no-fun post surgical rehab but if I push myself I will be on the other side hopefully by mid August. The concern is that it turns out there is a history of blood clots in my family and knee replacements don't like blood clots one bit. So I need a hematology evaluation and just-in-case plan--back to Boston again. And then, July 9th, I calm my nerves and rev up my faith.

So much is happening. My daughter's baby is due any day now. We pray only for a healthy baby but with three boys already, a little girl would be pretty surprisingly awesome. My Mother is actually doing well in the new nursing home (so thankful). And my knee does not allow me normal motion and sometimes I am in pain. 

And too...JB and I just spent four days in Provincetown starting to put our own 'mark' on this little house we now own. We will rent it out this summer for a few weeks ( have to---$) so the readiness has to be now. We went shopping, looking for discounts and bargains. We bought bathroom cabinets, couch pillows, chair covers, silverware (set of 8 for $ 15 at an antique store). We hung pictures. We decorated.

It's not done but the space is feeling more familiar now, more like it's ours.

More to do, too much to do. But I do know whining is not going to help me. In fact, I have to decide to be brave. I have to push myself. This is what I plan to do.

Thank you for visiting and indulging me.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Best, The Worse, & Life

I am a grandmother and  I like that role more than I would have imagined. :^)

When my own daughter was not yet five, my friend Nancy told me not to worry. "If anything ever happened to you," she said, "I will make sure that if Jess wants acting lessons in New York City, I will find a way for her to follow that or any other dream."

Jess grew up and Nancy died and I am still and always wanting to be sure dreams can be followed. Jess  is not an actress and she does not live in New York City: she is a talented wonderful woman and daughter and Mother. 

I have this hope that her children--my grandchildren--will grow up and remember especially that I believed in them, supported them, loved them in every possible way. In many ways I view myself as a teacher when they are with me: they try new foods because they like the idea of a "no thank you" bite. They sing and dance because we turn up the music, clap our hands, raise our voices, and tap our feet. They rhyme words and I remind them they are poets. Six year old Ryan knows that The Little Prince lives alone on his own planet the size of a house,  with only a special rose to care for. And four year old Drew, shown here at his pre-school graduation today (Mr. Ham) puts out the plates and silverware and cleans the dinner table with great pride.

I attended Drew's graduation on one crutch. Yesterday I learned I will need a no fooling-around total knee replacement, and soon. (July 9th). JB had a knee replacement a few years ago and I remember how extensive and painful it was for her, for many weeks. I remember thinking if I ever had to go through something like that, I wasn't sure I would have the determination and courage she did to get to the other side. 

I had to tell Jess last night that I will not be physically able to help her with the new baby. That I will not be able to take Ryan for a week in August in Cape Cod, him and me. I held back tears knowing I cannot be there for my daughter because I will have my own surgery and issues to attend to.  I don't just view being her Mother as a responsibility: it is a privilege to support her and her family. I don't know if she really knows how much and how hard I try to provide that support, but that's okay. I love her unconditionally and that's what counts. 

I'm not a grandmother whose whole life is her grandkids. Not even. I live two hours away and I admit to exhaustion when JB and I have the kids for the weekend. 

But I care and I try. And boy oh boy are they fun.