Nurture and Nature

With all the busy-ness, drama, peril, stress and discombobulation of the past weeks, months, years, I’ve been out of sync with my universe. This statement is probably one of the biggest understatements of my life.

Places to live usually just fall on me.

Three things ground and root me: friends and family, nesting and gardening, writing and creating. This great triumvirate of my life has been stripped of power for far too long and it is with great joy that HMO’Keefe’s arrival in West Virginia has put them back into office.

He and I have had separate lives that intersected too infrequently. We anticipated that blending our lives would create some flash points in terms of turf wars. My beloved barn is so much mine, we both feared the time it would take for it to feel like his while I adjusted to what might feel like his encroachment into my space would be uncomfortable for us both. This is one of the perils of independent, old folks moving in together. For this reason and several others which are actually more important, HMOKeefe and I have taken a pied-a-terre in town where we will live during the work week retiring to the country estate on the weekends.  🙂

[I find it completely ridiculous that I have a home in the “city” and a “country house” – I have yet to refer to either without feeling pretentious.]


I had great fun and great stress finding an apartment. I have never looked for a place to live before. Like the Wicked Witch of the East, houses just seemed to fall on me. I started this project eager and anticipating the process to be a big bunch of fun.

I approached the task of finding the pied-a-terre in a logical fashion. I created a wish list which included the neighborhood I wanted. Then I stalked that neighborhood, classified ads, real estate magazines, and Craigslist.

What people pay for rental property in Hooterville was a great shock to me. My optimism plummeted with every phone call not returned by a landlord, with every walk-through a roach motel and every apartment with no laundry facilities. [We are too old to be schlepping to the laundromat.] Finding a place for grownups to live in a college town is pretty damn difficult.

And, yet, my timing was perfect. I opened Craigslist at the very right second. I called the landlord at the very right second. I raced over to see the apartment at the very right second. And within 10 minutes of walking in the door, I was shouting “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s perfect, I’ll take it!”

The apartment hit every bullet point on the wish list except one (ground floor). It is just beeee-youuuuuuuuuuuuu-tiiiiiiiii-fullllllllllllllllllllll. I’ve been consumed with ideas for decorating, furniture arrangements, and color schemes while simultaneously restoring order to the Barn. I have been up to my neck in domestic nesting.

I love BOGO!

The garden, alas, was neglected. The harsh winter, endless spring rains and real estate flitting translated into an eyesore of a garden.

Yesterday and today I ran around home improvement centers and nurseries buying bedraggled, late-season annuals to effect a quick aesthetic fix. I ran into a buy-one-get-one sale that went a long way to improving the garden. I ran out of time to get all the little (some of them sad) plants into the ground, but my equanimity has the warm fuzzies with the little bit I have done. I neeeeeeeeddddddddd to have my hands in dirt.

Instant Garden

Now that HMOKeefe is here and is a tiny bit settled in (we have yet to begin the task of moving into the apartment), I’ve had some time to reconnect with friends. Last night, I sat in a dear friend’s garden with more dear friends. We played with twinkle lights, ate good food, drank cheap wine and had a fine time. These gatherings are dubbed “sisterings” and more than a decade ago, I helped to establish sisterings as a Friday night tradition. The craziness of my life has been such that I haven’t been able to attend with any regularity for years now. That sad state of affairs is coming to an end.

Twinkle Lights and Wine

So, I’ve had time with my True Love, time with my friends, and tomorrow I trundle off to Charlotte to take my Baby Boy to dinner to celebrate his birthday. Throughout this week and weekend I have taken photos to bear witness. I’ve come to really enjoy the creative aspect of photo editing. I’ve written blog posts this week. I’ve nested, gardened, nurtured and created. I’ve hit all of my pulse points and life is good.

I had intended on posting way back in January that the slogan for this year was Almost Heaven in 2011. We’re about half-way through the year and things are on track.

I’ve also been remiss in acknowledging an award. Back in April (more than a month after my last blog post), I received email telling me my blog had been named one of the best West Virginia sites. In bestowing the award, The Very Best Sites wrote,

W.Va. Fur and Root is a self-proclaimed “hillbilly diva’s” blog (or, as she says, “blatherings”). Connie writes about whatever she wants, thank-you-very-much, and the title of her website comes from a sign that came with her old home, which she says is pretty much an old barn. She talks about nesting in that great old structure, but also talks about current events, TV, music, and pretty much whatever comes to mind. With terms like “Agog-O-Meter” I find her particularly fun to read, and so will you. She hasn’t posted in about a month, which I guess is because she is busy gardening, but read her older posts for a taste of something special.

As I think I’ve explained, I haven’t been busy gardening, but I have been busy. I’m very honored to have been listed as one of the best particularly in light of the other sites listed – many of them are favorites of mine and have characteristics that are goals for my blog.

It’s going to be a good summer. I’m sure of it.

A Man Deserves a Place for His Togs

Note the look of horror on my
Guardian Angel's Face.

I’ve known since mid-January that HMOKeefe might be moving in with me. I’ve known since early April he was definitely moving in with me. Starting quietly, Closet Panic grew to a crescendo.

For weeks, I was in denial with a severe form of that brain itch that occurs during times of intense procrastination. One gray, rainy, cold weekend in late March, I began the task of emptying the little closet in the master bedroom for the Good Doctor to put his togs in.

the Little Closet Complete with Feather Boa and Gold Lame` Cowboy Boots

I planned on giving him the little closet as he is now retired and, presumably as such, would need a less extensive wardrobe than I. Hah! The man is addicted to shirts the way I’m addicted to shoes. He has dozens and dozens, possible hundreds.

Nonetheless, it was a plan. Not much of a plan, but it was mine. I’m not good at planning and tend to avoid it, but when I do hatch one I hang on for dear life. The little closet it was.

The little closet was intended to house the boots, belts, purses, evening wear and other clothes I’m not likely to wear on a normal day. However, the big closet was so jam-packed with stuff that the overflow to the little closet was, um, tsunami-like. To clean out one required cleaning the other.

I was an anthropology major.
What can I say?

I donned my pith helmet and went in on an exploratory mission prior to the planned excavation. Oh, the horror!

Within minutes, I was in the kitchen scavenging in the chocolate cabinet for stress relief.

Throughout that weekend, I weeded and winnowed the closets. I tried to invoke the “if you haven’t worn it in a year rule” and was, at times, successful. I got rid of everything I didn’t absolutely love. I couldn’t bear to part with the stuff I absolutely love, but am too big (at present) to fit into. That “someday I’m going to drop 20 pounds and wear this again” vow renewed itself.

Lord, I tried. [Tried to organize the closet, not lose weight – it’s not a good idea to start a diet under stress.  The chocolate cabinet got a good workout.]

The socks are probably a no-go.

I was easily distracted – particularly by the shoes.

In 2007, I was involved in a car accident that messed up my right foot in a sort-of minor way, but which, nonetheless, required three surgeries. My foot was sore, inflexible and downright contrary for nearly 4 years. At the time of the closet excavation, I had just started wearing cute shoes again. I had reveled in the boots – pink suede, black silk, embroidered, tartan plaid, brown leather, red leather, black leather, beige fuzzy, rabbit fur, pom poms, granny, hooker, gold lame` and wine.

But spring was a whisper away and the sandals beckoned. Trippy grass green, tranquil aqua, cobalt blue, coral, orange, blue, turquoise, beaded, jeweled, thonged, strapped, ankle-wrapped. I was distracted.

Ooooooooooo. Teal!

Still and all, I managed to drag out bags and bags of clothing and shoes. Some I trashed, some went to Goodwill and some went to Dress for Success.

And, yet, it wasn’t enough.

I really tried.

I probably neglected to mention that the big closet housed only the winter clothes. The summer clothes were crammed into the only part of The Closet I Am Afraid Of  that I can get to. While I planned for HMOKeefe to use the small closet, I intended both of us to use The Closet I Am Afraid Of  (and that he will be afraid of when he opens that door) for off-season stuff. (We both have far too many clothes.)

Since spring was just a whisper away (or so I thought – it was the winter that wouldn’t end), I felt it prudent to deal with ALL the clothes. Weed and winnow the heavy wool of weeks past as well as the linen and silk of weeks future.

Lord, I tried.

Even now, there’s a bag at the top of the stairs waiting to go to Goodwill.

I did. I did. I really tried.

The winter clothes are in TCIAAO, but so is all the stuff I’m still afraid of. The boots won’t fit in either that closet or the big closet less I part with more shoes.  In fact, I’ve procured a few more pair of shoes since this frenzy started. (I’m particularly enamored of the strappy black patent leather sandals with faux pearls I bought in Massachusetts executing the move to get HMOKeefe down here.)  I could, I suppose, buy shoe racks, but then there would be less money for shoes.  This is a conundrum.


So the good doctor has been here nearly two weeks and is still living out of a suitcase.

I’m a terrible person.

Yes, it is an addiction.
But it's cheaper than cocaine.

This weekend, I swear, I’m going to empty the boot/evening wear/accessory closet and organize a closet for him. That’ll bring the total of organized closets in this house to (ta da!) one.

Hopefully, it will be really hot so I won’t play with the boots. Except maybe the hooker ones – HMOKeefe is rather fond of those.

Mars and Venus Assemble a Garden Cart

It's a wonderful contraption with really great wheels!

HMOKeefe gave me a garden cart for Mother’s Day. What with one thing and another, I wasn’t able to assemble it until these evening. And a good thing too! It was definitely a two-person job. He thinks in pictures, I think in words. The pictures weren’t helpful and neither were the words.

By the time we finished, I was convinced that the cart was conceptualized by a woman and engineered by a man. I’m quite sure a man also wrote the directions. After a plethora of WTFs and “this thing was not manufactured properly”, I announced I was doing it my way.

The cart was assembled.

I’m really going to enjoy this thing. It beats the hell out of my old wheelbarrow. And when my time comes, I can just be rolled and dumped into the compost pit. Woo Hoo! It was a good day to be me.