Waiting for ice

I’m supposed to be at church right now, but we have an impending ice storm so all but one service has been canceled. Ok, the ice isn’t here yet and being in North Carolina means it’s almost as likely to turn out to be 75 degrees again as it is for us to be covered in ice. The thought of being iced in and taking the time to make a pot of soup, write, draw, and wrap some Christmas presents won out this morning.

The Christmas decorating is done and some of the goodies have been made. I have two boxes of decorations that I just can’t quite figure out what to do with. I don’t need them right now, but might in the future, but I don’t want to keep storing them. Eventually I HAVE to get rid of the storage unit. There is no room for them here. I will have to post a photo of my “mantle” soon. You get down to just those things you REALLY like in a small space.

Now that I don’t have a yard to look after, a large house to clean, swim meets, concerts, sporting events to attend with my kids, I have time for things that I haven’t in, oh, twenty-five years!! I get regular exercise now, have made Christmas goodies for my customers, am finishing artwork that has been stuck at half finished and can read and write more. This empty nest thing is not so bad. Add in the occasional faux ice storm and I’m getting much more accomplished at a much more sane pace.

Looking back 5 years ago, I was an insane woman. Up at 5 am and collapsing at 10:30 with no break in between. Working two high stress jobs, keeping up with two teenagers, a house, yard, bills and a dog, I’m pretty sure I burned thru a few years of my life prematurely. My daughter is getting married in a few months. We are going wedding dress shopping in a week. I have a long list of things I want to tell her NOT to do and an equally long list of things TO do. Hopefully somewhere in those insane years she picked up a few of those things without me having to tell her, but I might just make the lists and post them here. There are things I have no regrets for at all but there are a few “if I had to do it over again” moments.

Hummm, I think I will get some more coffee, make a pot of soup, sort through those boxes of decorations, work on those lists in my head and enjoy the rest of my ice storm. If you are in the part of the country that really is covered in ice and snow (W.F. that means you especially) be careful out there.

Moved!

Finally the move is over.  Most of the boxes have been unpacked and I’m beginning to be able to find things again.  So far, so good.  I’m getting used to living in close quarters to other people again.  Only in college and a brief 3 month stay in an apartment have I lived in a multi-family community.  Kato has almost stopped barking at everyone who walks by.  I have to admit that not having to rake leaves this year is a definite positive to my move.  Hopefully, this coming week I will have two dear friends in to visit and I will find out how well this place functions with extra people. Gotta go for now.  I have a few things to accomplish this morning, but wanted to check in.  Below is a photo of my last trip to my storage unit.  Yes, I still have a way to go with my downsizing!  Looks like I might be part of the Clampit family.

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I discovered the fun part of moving

This is a quick check in so you don’t think I’ve disappeared. It’s been a busy few weeks so I’ve been having a hard time finding a few minutes to write.  Work has been booming and any spare time has been spent packing and organizing.

Having downsized this time last year I didn’t think I would have much more to clean out, but I was wrong.  One week from today is move #2 and I’m losing a bedroom this time.  There is very little storage in my new townhome so more stuff has to go.

It seems that my gypsy spirit has been released now that the emotions of leaving my long time home have subsided over the past year.  This time, it’s with a sense of relief that I send my unneeded stuff out into the world.  I am finding that it is kind of fun to find just the right home for things that have to go.  I have spread furniture among friends and family, donated items to the thrift store run my one of my favorite non-profits, given items as part of gifts and even donated my tomato cages to a friend who oversees the community gardens in our area.  This week I also discovered the local pet thrift store.  It just so happens that I found a bag full of cat collars, leashes (no, they didn’t like them) and brushes left by my late feline family members.

Instead of just taking car loads to Goodwill (trust me, they are still getting plenty), I have enjoyed finding people and places who can use what I no longer need. This move doesn’t even have me stressed.  I have pared down and organized so much in the past year that each room probably won’t take more than 15 minutes to pack up.  Well, the kitchen and shed may take a little more.

I may not get back here until after the move, but I will fill in the details after.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

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My books are leaving home.

For at least a year I have had Jen Hatmaker’s 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess on my book wish list. I knew that sooner or later I was going to need a good kick in the pants to continue on with this downsizing project that is becoming known as My Gypsy Phase.

Finally in July I downloaded it (after it went on sale). I give Jen credit for being a real person and making me laugh all the way through the book. She didn’t sugar coat the pain involved in trying to eat only seven foods or wear only seven items of clothing.

Jen took seven months to reduce seven areas of her life to seven choices. I will let you read the book to know why she did this challenge, but she took on food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress. Now that I am once again moving to a smaller living space (from 1300 sq ft to 1039 sq ft this time, if all works out) and I am adjusting to an empty nest, it seems to be a good time to take on my own version of 7.

Immediately I thought that I could never only eat seven foods for a month, but when I got to looking in my cabinets and refrigerator, I might not be eating many more than that. This could require some research. I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years now and may have reduced my diet down to just those things that are easy to acquire and fix. Certain people think it’s funny that I won’t make a recipe that has more than 5 ingredients. Five is all that I have patience for!

So, I will let you know how this all goes. I don’t think I will limit myself to a number, but try to analyze exactly what I do in these areas and see where I need to make some changes. I already have a good idea, but I will fill in the gory details as I go.

Oh, and by the way, Jen Hatmaker has no idea who I am and I don’t make any money by mentioning her book. Actually, since I got it at such a low price I would probably feel guilty if I did.

Here we go again…

As of today I have 30 days until my lease is up. This must be the beginning of my gypsy years. Partially because I don’t know what the owner of my house is planning to do and partially because I have realized I don’t even need this much house, I have decided to move again. Have I mentioned that I hate moving? Anyway, I’m sure I will give more detail on that soon. In the midst of cleaning out old files (preparing to move less this time) I found some of my old writings. One seemed appropriate for today as I get ready for another move.

Effie's Quilt Photo by C. Williams

Effie’s Quilt
Photo by C. Williams

Written November 2, 2010

Grandma’s Quilt

I wonder if I’m the only forty-something who, when she has a really bad day needs a blankie. I never carried one when I was little but somewhere in my twenties the world got a little harsher place to be. Simultaneously, I became the owner of one of my Grandma’s handmade quilts. That quilt just seemed to be meant for bad day recovery.

Now, before you get visions of Nine Patch, Log Cabin or Fan quilt patterns, this quilt probably wouldn’t even qualify as a crazy quilt or folk art. I never knew my Grandma Effie to be a crafty or artsy woman. She had an extraordinary green thumb but not necessarily what we would consider artistic creativity. She was practical in every sense of the word except that in her later years she amassed as small doll collection. That was her version of luxury having never had much in the way of toys growing up.

Grandma lived through the Depression and raised seven children. One daughter died at the age of 14 of Leukemia and Grandma outlived her husband and several of her grown children. She lived the majority of her life on a small farm in rural North Carolina. Grandma never learned to drive and dropped out of school in the sixth grade to work on the farm. Nothing got wasted on her farm or any other farms when survival was the norm. Recycling is not a new idea. Maybe that was where the creativity came in. She had to find a new use for virtually everything when it could no longer perform its original purpose.

I remember one of her quilts was made of a fabric on one side that was a mixture of oranges, greens and brown that pained my sense of color. I always kind of hoped there was a really good deal on that particular fabric when it was bought, not that it was purchased because someone loved the colors. Still, for years, that was the quilt I preferred to curl up with every time I got sick. The other side of the quilt was made from pieces of my Mom’s and her sisters’ dresses. Mom used to tell me which piece came from whose dress. There wasn’t a single piece of fabric that was the same size or coordinated with the pieces of fabric next to it. It was a purely practical use of material that no longer could serve as a dress, but was too good to throw away. Grandma did not have the means to go buy coordinating fabric to make a pretty quilt.

The quilt I have now is made up of long strips of two different color versions of the same fabric. One is a pink rose print with green leaves and the other is a turquoisey blue rose print with green leaves. The whole quilt is made of these strips. Never in a million years would I have picked out either color of these fabrics. Yet, when I am sick, really tired or really, really worried about what’s happening in life I pull Grandma’s quilt out of the closet, wrap up in it and try very hard to sleep off life’s challenges. I don’t know what she used for batting in her quilts, but it isn’t the fluffy synthetic stuff we have now. There is a weight to it, but it’s not so heavy you get hot under it. I can wrap up in it during the summer just as well as the winter.

I don’t know if I find comfort under this quilt because it’s Grandma’s or if it is just the right combination of worn softness and warmth. Probably it’s both reasons. There is the element of imagining her piecing the fabric together at night after a long day of work in the kitchen, fields and barns and trying to deal with too many people in a very small house. It must have given her some time to rest and think. Maybe her time spent quilting was a mental escape from a life of non-stop work. The stitches are even and after years of wear and washings not a single stitch has come loose. What she put in that quilt was meant to last.

Grandma was an intelligent, no nonsense woman who spoke exactly what she thought. She also had a quick wit right up to her final days. Her son-in-law, my Dad, used to say that if Grandma had finished school and learned to drive she would have owned most of the county. Grandma was often the only one who seemed to accept me for who I was. I was the creative, odd child that didn’t fit the mold most people wanted me to. When I wrap up in her quilt I gain a certain strength knowing that if she could do all that she did and survive all that she survived then surely her granddaughter can regroup, get up off her duff and deal with whatever is going on in her easy, convenience filled life.

What I don’t worry about (anymore)

It’s an hour past my bedtime, but I can’t get to sleep. My daughter picked up Kato the Wonder Dog this afternoon to dog sit while I’m out of town tomorrow. Seems that without a medium sized brown dog taking up half the bed, sleep eludes me, so I thought I would at least be productive during my insomnia.

The other day I heard an advertisement on the radio for an electrolysis service. The female DJ was evidently the paid spokesperson. One statement in the ad caught my attention. It was something along the line of “never spend another day being self-conscious that you forgot to shave under one arm.”

Seriously?!

I can in full certainty tell you that I have never once worried about that particular problem even if I forgot to shave under one arm for a week.

So, that made me think about other things I don’t worry about now or possibly ever. Don’t get me wrong. I come from a long talented line of worriers so I have my share, but I wanted to see what I don’t worry about.

I don’t worry about…
1) if I have one armpit hairier than the other.
2) if my legs are still blinding people with their whiteness even in late July. (I confess this was a worry for many years)
3) my kids being abducted anymore while waiting for the bus . ( I worry about other things involving them but that is another whole list.)
4) if the world is going to come to a sudden fiery end. (It might, but having survived several “end of the world” days now I don’t believe the hype and can’t do a darn thing about it if it does.)
5) if my house is immaculately clean. (I have never wasted good worry time on this one because it never has been and never will be)
6) if I’m “normal”. (Of course I’m as normal as every warped, dysfunctional and crazy person on the planet.)
7) germs. ( I grew up on a farm. That explains it all.)

There are sure to be more that will come to mind, but I’m going to attempt sleep again. With all the things we have to worry about in this world, it’s kinda nice to realize there are things we don’t have to waste energy on.

Now if I can just stop worrying about someone breaking in tonight while my faithful canine alarm system is enjoying a sleepover.

Alone again

It’s been one week since the little birds left the nest. It was fun helping my daughter get set up in her first apartment and it was very hard driving off and leaving my son in his dorm room. She checks in every few days. I have to text him to see if he is still alive. This is probably the way it will be from now on.

The adjustment hasn’t been as bad as I thought. I cleaned their rooms and bathroom and all have stayed clean. I went to the grocery store and for the first time in 25 years I could buy exactly what I wanted. There has been more rest and reading time. I don’t have to plan dinner around their schedules or plan my schedule around their schedules either.

It is MUCH quieter and I’m not completely sure I like that all the time. The dog doesn’t have all his people to play with and is driving me a little crazy bringing me his toys constantly. Cooking for just myself is going to be a problem. Of course, S.O. is around and his daughter is turning 13 this week so I am not completely without teenagers. I seem to have plenty of time to work, but I also have time to get back to my artwork and various assorted other projects.

There is still the never ending chore of downsizing all the stuff in my storage unit. I have managed to get some of that done this week, but still have a LONG way to go. Overall, I will not be bored! I may have to go out and hunt down human interaction occasionally, but I think I will eventually enjoy this. My next door neighbor made the statement “just think, it’s all about you now”. That is a pretty weird concept to try on after all these years!

Running? Me?

Ready to run

Ready to run

I have to tell you a secret. I. started. running. Ok, that might not be a big deal to you, but it is to me. Why? First, I hate to sweat. Second, I haven’t actually done any running since high school. Third, I just turned 51. Fourth, my kids didn’t think I could.

For some crazy reason I put “Run A 5K” on my bucket list a long time ago. Since I’m one of those list makers who enjoy marking things off the list, this little beauty has been nagging at me all these years.

I starting seeing S.O. about a year ago, shortly before he was deployed. I made the HUGE mistake of telling him about my bucket list. This is a guy who at 51 still regularly beats the twenty somethings during the PT tests. So, as soon as he got home his mission became to get me running. Just a couple of problems here. First, I don’t do well with people telling me what to do even when they do it very nicely (he did). Then there was that little issue with him having me just run the hills in my neighborhood. I seriously thought I was going to die. Sooooo, I started weaseling out of our runs and just walking instead. This went on from April until July. We were down to barely getting in walks.

Honestly, I don’t know what happened to me after my birthday, but one day I ran across the app “0 to 5k”, downloaded it and the very next day started running. The app has made it very easy and is supposed to have me running a 5K in eight weeks. I’m in week three right now. It starts out with a 5 minute walking warm up, then one minute running and 1.5 minutes walking. The app tells you when to walk and when to run so I don’t have to fuss with timing myself. You build up from there. And I’m doing it three days a week as instructed!!

AND, the weirdest thing just happened a few minutes ago which is what prompted me to write this post. I was just working away on my computer when the thought “I should go out for a run” just wandered through my brain. It’s not even my run day. And my body sort of answered my brain with “yeah, that would be good”. At this moment there is quite the thunderstorm going on outside so I didn’t listen to myself, but who would have ever believed it! Certainly not my kids. Me either! I will keep you informed on how this running thing turns out.

Downsizing: Round Three?

First apartment, here she comes!

First apartment, here she comes!

I survived Downsizing: Round One – One year of the house on the market, constant cleaning while working two jobs and keeping up with two teenagers and one dog, then the furious packing when it went under contract.

Downsizing:Round Two consisted of trying to cram the remaining 2400 square feet of stuff into a 1300 square foot house that resulted in the renting of a storage unit.

Round Three sort of started a couple of weeks ago when I made a trip to the storage unit to retrieve just a couple of pieces of furniture. That is when I discovered that our strangely wet North Carolina summer had resulted in the beginning of a mildew problem on my stuff. NOT GOOD. That little trip turned into a five hour ordeal and the dispersing of furniture far and wide. I may need a spreadsheet to know where it all is.

My mission is to clean out and do away with the storage unit. Oh, heavens. I will have to post a photo of what I am up against. Deadline: End of October, before it gets cold and I go into my winter hibernation. Ok, that and before all my manly help disappears into the woods for hunting season.

My kids move out this week so that gives me a little more room to cram stuff, then I’m down to the hard part. You know, all the debris from the backs of the closet and junk drawers that you have a) no idea what it really is and/or b) if it is a crucial part to something you desperately need. Also, I’m faced with all the sentimental things that I couldn’t part with in Round One and just put in a box until I was more emotionally stable. Still not sure I’m there yet.

I have employed a couple of tools to keep me motivated. I will share those soon. Right now, I’m faced with the piles above. This is only one of many that has taken over my home until my offspring leave the nest.

Word Bombs

I’ve been focusing on my business and strayed away from here for awhile. My goal on this blog is to point out that as tough as life can be sometimes there is good in every situation and things can change in an instant.

That said, I have a life long problem that I can never quite get a handle on. I’m getting better at handling it, but every time it leaves me shell shocked for awhile.

Do you have someone in your life that can take a perfectly good day and throw it into the depths of Hades in one short conversation? You head out the door, your hair is in place, your clothes fit and match, the kids didn’t fight that morning, the sun is shining and THEN…you answer the phone. Five minutes later your hair is a mess from trying to pull it out and all you really want to do is go home, crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head. Oh, and take a gallon of chocolate ice cream with you.

Most of the self-help gurus say to remove this person from your life. The reality is, you can’t. Oh, don’t go pulling Jerry Springer drama on me. Even Dr. Phil would agree that in some instances you have no choice but to ENDURE. There are some people who are in your life to stay until one you expires.

Here’s the kicker. These atomic word bomb moments are ALWAYS delivered under the disguise of “I’m just trying to help” or some similar variation. You also never know when they are going to drop.

I’m still trying to recover from one that hit yesterday. Luckily, I have four people in my life who are willing to be my EMT’s in these moments. They come through with reassurances that I am sane, not a blubbering idiot, I can function as a productive member of society and that I do have talents and abilities. They remind me that my kids are healthy and well-adjusted because I am a good mother and my dog is ok too!

The worst part of these bombs is it really does take some recovery time. I have yet to figure out how to just let it all roll off my back. What is the cumulative effect? Oh, I know there are side effects. I have suffered from those for years, but does each emotional blast take off a few months of my physical life or will I hear myself (oh, please, God, no) oozing similar word bombs onto my kids or grandkids one day?

If you have someone in your life like this how do you cope? Trust me, the rest of us want to know! I’m going to go finish my chocolate ice cream now while you write back.