Memorial Day

(c) NorthstarMLS.com

(c) NorthstarMLS.com

Happy Memorial Day.  Enjoy the weather, the family, the picnic – whatever you have planned.  I’ll be gardening and taking a long leisurely bath.

Remember those who served with their lives.  Remember that many have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy.  Remember the families of those who have served.  And in remembering, think about all of those whose service was dismissed, or uncredited.  There have always been women serving alongside the men, but because they were not “official” were not counted.  There have been blacks and Native Americans in service for this country whose “special units” were often placed in the most dangerous situations.  Japanese American families lost loved ones in the internment camps in the US during WWII.  There are many kinds of service, many kinds of sacrifice.  Let’s honor that in gratitude for what we do have.  Let’s remember.

 

The First Decoration Day

Resolve

20160522_190956Resolve:  verb  with obj. ] settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter): the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days.

The solution to the problem in the kitchen is clearly to do a remodel.

no obj. ] decide firmly on a course of action: [ with infinitive ] :  she resolved to call Dana as soon as she got home.

That means calling contractors and getting bids to take to the bank to get a loan.

chiefly Chemistry separate or cause to be separated into components.

Components:  Contractor, Banker, Clear the deed, Subordinate city loan, housing for Orion and I while the work goes on.

So far, so good.

Got some tomatoes caged

Got some tomatoes caged

• no obj. ] (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns.

Contractors don’t want to waste their time writing up a bid on work that I 1. May not be able to afford or 2. May hire someone else for

The season is upon us and contractors already have work (with a GO) lined up.

There is probably more to do than I can afford and I have to prioritize.

This isn’t going to happen quickly.

The contractors who could do the work faster have larger teams/businesses and also larger prices.

The peony (and other perennials) need some attention!

The peony (and other perennials) need some attention!

Resolve: noun firm determination to do something: she received information that strengthened her resolve | she intended to stick to her initial resolve.

The only way this is going to happen is if I just keep plugging away at it.

Actually my whole life seems a little like this right now.  I put the gardening on hold, not knowing what will be torn up.  I can’t take it so I spent the weekend planting.  I’ve mostly got things in containers, so they could be moved.  But if this isn’t going to start until August I want tomatoes and basil!

The lawn has been mowed. That required having the tractor overhauled.  The blades needed sharpening and there was a nut that disappeared.

The hose has a huge hole in it.  It actually has for sometime.  I bought a new hose long enough ago I can’t remember.  I dug it out of the garage and hooked it up.  It actually reaches everything!  (Bonus, it doesn’t leak.)

Bills still need to be paid, and credit cards paid off – going back to the issues with the bank.  I need to find time to write, time to garden, time to tend to Orion, time out for myself.

It all comes down to resolve.

I still have a ways to go

I still have a ways to go

When the sun is shining and the breeze is keeping the bugs away I have to remember not to play hookey from my life.   I also have to remember to take a minute and appreciate the day.

I resolve to do both!

 

Definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary

Back-up

This isn’t the post I was going to write today.  I was going to write about being outside.  I was going to write about enjoying a campfire.  I was going to write about going sailing.

Then I spilled a full mug of hot tea into my lap.

Besides worrying about getting burned and changing clothes and what a mess I made I also worried about what was in my lap.  My laptop.

I threw rice at it (because that’s what you do) but I didn’t have much in the house.  I’m not really eating rice since the bariatric surgery.  I went on my way and enjoyed the day on the water without thinking too much about it.

Monday morning, the time of reckoning.

It turns on, which is a good sign.  It seems like there’s a key stuck.  There’s all sorts of things being entered even when I’m not touching the keyboard.  When I try to type in something there are all kinds of extra characters.  I can’t log in.

I have my fingers crossed that there’s a piece of rice stuck under a key rather than the keyboard shorting out.  I’m afraid I’m not very hopeful about that.  So I have to think about what’s next.

My website designer is reading this shaking her head.  She pretty much tells me to back up every time we talk.  It didn’t come up yesterday, so this is the first time she’s hearing this story.

I recognize the importance of backing up.  I’ve done it now and again.  I don’t have an automatic set-up.  I don’t have a “system” where I back up every Friday (or whatever).  In fact, despite the regular reminders from my tech support I’m not really sure when I did my last back-up.

Not only am I unsure of when, I’m also not entirely sure of where.  There’s got to be a thumb drive somewhere in the house with my files and photos (at least from maybe 6 months ago?)  I’ve got a few thoughts about where it might be, but they’re tenuous at best.

Even if I find them I know I’m missing most of my latest book, photos that I’ve deleted from the phone and not shared on the web, and several recipes. I couldn’t say for sure what else, because my computer is the brains of this operation.

The stuff on the internet is redeemable, but it’s not in one place.  There’s no guarantee I can find it all or get it all back.  There’s a photo I’m particularly grateful I put on my phone under my parents’ number.  There’s another of Karina and my recent haircuts that if I didn’t share it on a blog may be lost forever.

So if I go to the genius bar today (you know they require you make appointments on line.  That’s a challenge when your computer is broken!) wish me luck.  And BACK-UP YOUR COMPUTER!

Hello/Goodbye

20160507_204506It’s always bittersweet coming to recognize that it is time to let something go.  Drawing the line in the sand and saying, “enough” takes courage and strength.  Being able to walk away when something you care about is no longer willing or able to receive help from your presence is heartbreaking.  Moving on, knowing you’re doing what you need to do, and being free from those obligations that have become burdensome is freeing.  Being grateful for what you have, what you’ve left and learned, what opportunities that freedom opens up, is healing.

Neither my Mom nor Karina was available on Sunday

Neither my Mom nor Karina was available on Sunday

For whatever reason I seem to be participating in various stages of this process this month in multiple arenas.  I have friends both walking away, and unable to walk away from toxic relationships.  I have friends in desperate need of medical support some choosing to get it, others in vehement denial.  I put  lot of volunteer hours with an organization shutting it’s doors, and more hours with another involved in a large fundraising drive.  It was Mother’s Day weekend, and my Mother was out-of-town.  It was the weekend the family chose to celebrate my ex-father-in-law’s 90th birthday.

Volunteering at Gilda's Club

Volunteering at Gilda’s Club

This appears to be a year of transitions for me.  The slow process of getting my house in order is the physical manifestation of what seems to be going on in my spirit.  I have opportunities.  I’m writing another book, I’m looking for speaking engagements, I’m trying to figure out what a career will look like at this stage in my life.  I’m also struggling with letting go, setting boundaries and managing my time and resources.

It’s all up in the air!

I’m grateful that it’s spring.  Although my gardening is going on “hold” again this year, the season still carries all that potential.  The lilacs and apple trees are blooming.  The birds wake me up in the mornings.

Saying goodbye to our Local Council supporters

Saying goodbye to our Local Council supporters

I’m setting seeds into my life.  Some will sprout, others won’t.  Some will come up, and then need pulling. Others will thrive.  That is what I’m hanging on to.

Culling

Radishes can only be sprouts this close together

Radishes can only be sprouts this close together

One of the aspects of spring, easy for urbanites to ignore, is the culling.  The birthing season for many farm animals means deciding which of the newborns will live, which will be sold, which will be food for the family.   With gardening, the sprouts need to be thinned, the weeds need to be pulled, bushes are pruned and flowers are picked or left to bloom and eventually seed.

Part of the process of dealing with my kitchen cupboards falling off the walls is preparing to have my house torn apart for months.  This isn’t just a kitchen project.  It also involves the bathroom, the basement, the driveway, and some of the yard.  I have water issues, mold issues and years of neglect.

Mold everywhere and bookcases falling apart

Mold everywhere and bookcases falling apart

My basement has been the land of denial for more years than I can count.  I spend as little time as possible down there (because I have massive allergic reactions if I stay).   There’s a lot of plain trash.  Paper and fabric and wood that has been ruined by water and eaten by mold.  I haven’t been able to deal with it because I can’t:

  1. touch it (without breaking out and/or having an asthma attack)
  2. haul it up the stairs
  3. stand to be there long enough to see what is salvageable

So, in fits and starts, I have someone (equipped with gloves and a respirator) doing steps 1 and 2 for me.  Step 3 is a little more difficult.  There is a lot that I never have to see.  It’s undeniably trash.  It walks out my door in a bag.  I may sigh at a loss, but mostly it’s good riddance.

But there is plenty down there where the distinction is not so clear.  Mostly that would be books.  The books in bookcases are probably a little (or a lot) moldy.  The bookcases themselves are falling apart.  But the books look okay.  The books are my references, my treasures, my comfort.  They’re books!

"To sort" (and more to come!)

“To sort” (and more to come!)

If I’m a hoarder, it’s about books.  There is always money for food, and books.  There is always room for food, and books.  There can not be enough bookcases.  As soon as I get a new one, it’s full.  I’m a writer, which means I’m a reader.  My basement is full of books.

They come up the stairs box by box.  They are no longer in any order, packed more for viability than placement.   I have to sort, and cull.   Do I really need 3 large boxes of children’s picture books?  My children are 23 and 27 and I have no grandchildren on the way.  How many herbology books do I need?  When do the mythology references just become an indulgence?

There are memories in those books.  Some of them survived the house fire when I was a teenager.  I open them and smell the smoke, but they also hold the memories of childhood escapes.  I spent late nights under the covers with a flashlight, long afternoons in hammocks, curled up on the limbs of a tree with these books.

“Declutter” is the catch word of the day.  But this is not clutter.  The books without places went out in black trash bags, damp and falling apart.  These are the ones that had places on shelves that will no longer support them.  These are the curated books that survived multiple moves and life stages.  This is culling, and it’s necessary, and it’s hard.

Friday Club

Up to Paul Bunyon territory with my GOM Girls.

Up to Paul Bunyon territory with my GOM Girls.

When I was in Junior High my Mother went back to working full-time.  She arranged her schedule (and also the schedule of the doctor she worked for) to allow her to commute with my Dad and his odd hours.  She also recognized she needed some time in the week for herself, and so she had Fridays off.

One of the things my Mom chose to do with those Fridays was get together with other Moms interested in the school district.  Mom was very involved, not just with PTA but with the school board, policy making, busing.  Politics in my house included campaigning for school board candidates.  This was how Friday Club was born.

Not much blooming this time of year, but these were sweet.

Not much blooming this time of year, but these were sweet.

This group of women would get together for lunch (while the kids were in school) and theoretically hang out until we right before we got home.  They were going to solve the problems of the day over coffee.  “Ban the Can”, “Computers in the Schools”, “Arts Funding vs Sports Funding” and eventually even school closings were all on the table at one point or another.

The longer Friday Club lasted the more likely it was that they were still sitting around the table sipping coffee when I walked in the door a little after 3pm.   I loved these women (we all did).  They were all Moms.  Some of them worked at least part-time.  They all had kids in the school district.  They were a range of ages and backgrounds.

I didn't set this up, honest!

I didn’t set this up, honest!

They were solid friends.  They talked about the problems they were having with their kids, their husbands, aging, working.  They had high tea for Princess Di’s wedding and mourned Pope John Paul (the first one).  They were there for each other when they turned 40, when they faced cancer, when they got divorced.

Because I was both quiet and well spoken I could be “unobtrusive” enough to listen in on the ends of those conversations.  I’d putter in the kitchen, or grab a book and sit in the corner.  Every once in a while the topic was something where my opinion was solicited.  What an honor to have these women listening to what I thought!

For me the North Woods also includes water

For me the North Woods also includes water

Over time the group disappeared.  People moved, got jobs, their kids grew up.  Many of those friendships persisted.  One of those women has been my Mom’s best long distance friend forever.  She died this year.  She was in the state last summer, but got sick enough that they couldn’t manage to connect.  Mom knew she’d never see her friend again.

We did not pick mushrooms for dinner.

We did not pick mushrooms for dinner.

I’ve mentioned my women’s group once or twice in this blog (Here’s one).  This weekend I had the opportunity to take some of them up to the “North Woods” and then stop in for dinner with my parents.  Did I have sense enough to take a photo of my Mom with my GOM Girls?  No.  But it was a brilliant day.

We all had fun.  It was a good road trip, perfect weather.  We went to Deep Portage Nature Center and had the place pretty much to ourselves.  Mom and Dad went all out for dinner.  We had a fancy pasta with brie and cherry tomatoes.  Salad with two kinds of homemade dressing.  Dad made his bread and also made popovers.  There was a clamor for leftovers to take home and sent bars as a treat in the car.

My Mom was exhausted (not a surprise) but also really thrilled.  She said, “It’s Friday Club!  They’re all so different, but it’s clear they all are supportive.”  She got to sit in on the edges of the conversation, and was honored when her opinion was asked for.  She got to host the ladies, and she got a little help with clean up as well.

It’s a memory I’ll cherish.  It was a fun day for me.  For her it was priceless.  For me to be able to bring this gift full circle was truly an honor and a privilege.

 

Colors

Hyacinth

Hyacinth

We’re getting the spring greening early, but now I’m starting to see the colors coming as well.   It’s been so lovely Orion and I took a walk to get his haircut.  (We usually drive.)  Quite the adventure.

magnolia

magnolia

I had the opportunity to notice the flowers are starting to bloom.  My hyacinths popped as promised.  (So has the little bleeding heart.)  The magnolia at the end of the neighborhood is blooming.  (I know that seems late for those of you who live in places where magnolias are native.  But they are a light-sensitive bloomer and we finally have enough!)

The utility companies are planting in living color!

The utility companies are planting in living color!

Unfortunately those aren’t the only colors that have started popping up!   It looks like there will be a lot of sewer repair.  I’ve run into cones on the highways as well.  The second season (road construction) is also getting an early start this year.

I took Orion and his new haircut to the hardware store to look at paint.  Another way to procrastinate is to get ahead of yourself.  I don’t have a contractor yet.  I don’t have the loan I need from the bank.  But I’m looking at colors and cabinets.  It’s just more fun!

Orion with his summer haircut and "possibilities".

Orion with his summer haircut and “possibilities”.

Procrastination

12969427_1087938171226430_1176227532_nThere’s a blog that’s been spinning around in my head for the past week.  It just won’t seem to come out.  I’ve had time to work at it, and have found plenty of other things to do instead.   I have tried to make it coalesce in my head, and have found myself dozing in my chair.

Now it’s Monday and I’ve got, nothing.  The problem with procrastination is that it adds stress to what’s usually already a stressful situation.  It anticipates things will get easier, but there is no basis in empiric evidence.

I’ve been putting off getting Orion a haircut.  I keep thinking it will be nice enough to walk.  Then it snows.  This week there are temps predicted in the 70’s.  (There are also temps predicted in the 30’s).  If I wait, will that happen on the day when I have time?  Will I feel up to it physically?  Will I have overbooked myself?

I’m trying to get through my list of things “to do” without putting things off so long.  Inevitably something slips through.  I don’t get enough sleep and something falls off the list.  I get stuck in traffic and time runs short.  I am faced with something that HAS to be done RIGHT NOW and so the thing that’s been put off gets put off again.

What happens the most often is that I just plain forget.  I get so used to putting something off that it not only drops off the list, it drops off my radar.  This week that was Orion’s weekend program.  Orion at Samba

He loves going on Weekend Ventures.  They’ve changed their notification system for registering.  I no longer have a piece of paper lying around that I have to keep moving (and therefore am continually reminded).  I get an email and in less than a day it’s no longer on my screen.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I didn’t do it IMMEDIATELY and now I hope I’m not too late!

Hi’s and Low’s

Hyacinth ripe and waiting for another sunny day

Hyacinth ripe and waiting for another sunny day

It’s spring in Minnesota.  We’ve had unseasonable warmth and a very early spring this year.  But the weather is still unstable.  Yesterday there were highs approaching 70.  Today we can expect it to stay in the 30’s.   The weatherman is talking about snow.

Snow isn’t unusual in April.  It just seems unexpected after a warm week like last week.  I’ve started taking some planting risks with cold friendly seeds.  I’ve put in some peas.  I’ve set in some radish.  I’ve even sprinkled a little spinach about.

Onion's wintered over are coming up like gangbusters!

Onion’s wintered over are coming up like gangbusters!

I found some onion sets that wintered in my garage.  I’m tucking them in as I dig up preparing beds.   It would ordinarily be too early.  But when I look at my volunteers I have to think I’m being reasonable.

It’s cold today, and promises to be all week.  I’m hoping to get out in the yard again but my priorities are still in the house preparing for contractors.  I’m not sure how much I can or should plant, not just because of the weather.  I don’t know how much damage this construction project will do to my yard.

I swear the bleeding heart wasn't showing yesterday.

I swear the bleeding heart wasn’t showing yesterday.

Things are popping up all over.   As I sit bundled up waiting for the snow to fall I’ll take that as a hopeful sign.  It may be slow going, but the seasons do turn.  Likewise with this remodeling project, right now I’m waiting for contractors to write up proposals with actual numbers.  I can’t hurry it along, but I trust it’s still moving forward.

The strawberry bed still needs some serious work

The strawberry bed still needs some serious work

Miss Minnie

20160325_121041I spent much of last week babysitting my “grand puppy”.  Karina had a little vacation and I got the dog.

Like most things in life there are good and bad parts to having Minnie around.  The hardest thing to deal with is that Minnie doesn’t like Orion.  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say she doesn’t like it when Orion has my attention.  She’s also a little scared of him moving about in his wheelchair.

bunny

One night Minnie was barking, pulling tightly on the run. I went out to see what she was barking at. The bunny (not this one) that was tormenting her ran off when I triggered the motion detector. We grow them big and bold in this neighborhood!

Of course there’s another side.  When Orion is planted in place eating Minnie is right underfoot.  She is very much aware that the person most likely to drop food on the floor is Orion.  She’s pretty sure once it hits the floor, it’s hers.  (Minnie is a very food aggressive dog.)

I’ve got a dog run set up out the back door, so the whole in and out thing isn’t difficult.  Timing seems to be challenging.  Minnie has her moments when she’s in 15 min, out 15 min, in 15 min, out 15 min.  She also sometimes waits a little too long to ask to go out (and I’m not always quick to get to the door).   I mopped up a puddle or two over the course of the week.

On the positive side she and I took a walk every day she was here.   I like being out.  I like walking.  I just don’t, unless I have a good reason.  I’m not fond of walking aimlessly through the neighborhood, and I’m not motivated enough to go to a park or the lake just to walk.  It didn’t hurt that the weather cooperated.  I bundled up a couple of times, but we never had to walk in the rain (or snow).

walking the dog

walking the dog

When I look at the exercise I get when Minnie is around I think about how beneficial it would be to have a dog.  Then I remind myself that I’m trying to reduce my ties to external responsibilities, not add to them.  I could walk to the coffee shop (and write).   I could walk to the grocery store (as long as it was just a few items I needed).  I could walk to my volunteer shift at Gilda’s Club (even in dress shoes).

The thing I miss most when Minnie leaves is the company.  She goes and I find myself looking for her every few hours.  I miss the cuddles.  I miss her sleeping on the couch while I read a book.  I even miss the evening, going to bed, routine.  But not enough to need a dog of my own.  I am reminded that the best part of being a grandparent is that you get to send them home.20160325_071029

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