Not the perfume, mind you. I’ve worn the same perfume since I was 10 – White Shoulders. I love it. I have always loved it and, recently, I learned it was the first perfume my dad ever gave his mom. He was about the age I was when he saved his money to buy it for her. It was given to me by my great aunt and except for a brief flirtation with some heavily advertised brands in the early 70s, it’s the only perfume I’ve ever worn.
It’s a delicate scent that mixes well with my body chemistry. While it’s an affordable perfume, it’s not cheap. Someone generally gets me a bottle every other Christmas which works out well because that’s about how long it takes me to go through a bottle.
The last bottle was not a spray bottle. I just opened a new one and it’s been aggravating me – trying to pour out just enough and then splashing it around like after shave. It’s a barbaric way to handle a delicate scent.
I’m on the “one for them, one for me” Christmas gift shopping plan. On a recent online foray, I ran across perfume bottles with those old-fashioned rubber squeeze bulbs. Oh my.
Now we know how I feel about my dressing table. And we know how I feel about the elegance of times past.
So how could I not buy it? Honestly.
It arrived today and it’s just wonderful. I feel like Myrna Loy primping for William Powell.
July 7th (or maybe July 8th, it could be after midnight)
I’m sitting outside in the heat and neglect ravished garden writing this with pen and paper. It’s a night to make 72F past midnight feel like watermelon on ice.
The last time I blogged, I was trying to make my mailman happy. I may have succeeded. But here we are again, trying to make the mailman happy. HMOKeefe and the mailbox had a lover’s quarrel. He wielded a U-Haul and the mailbox stood silent, but not firm. After sprawling on the ground for several days in the debris of unwanted catalogs and carpet cleaning advertisements, the monster mailbox was tossed into the rental dumpster.
Boston Boy spent most of the day installing a new mailbox using some New England method that bears no resemblance to how anybody I know has ever installed a mailbox. It’s not going well. I say, “Um, you’re trying to pound that thing into bedrock,” and he says, “I did this in Massachusetts” and then I don’t say, “What part of any of this reminds you of Massachusetts?” But it’s been 3 weeks without a mailbox and another day or 300 doesn’t matter. I’m not the mail junkie. The new post is sprawled in the driveway, exhausted but victorious against insertion into bedrock.
Oh, yes, rental dumpster. It’s been exciting times around the old barn and, really, if you’ve never rented a dumpster, do so. Before things got worse, I had a lot of fun running around like June Cleaver on crack de-junking the house.
I am too damn old for all the excitement of the past several months.
In no particular order, I offer up the following as a sort of “What I did on my summer vacation” essay.
1. The Derecho.
2. Three downed trees.
3. 6 nights and 5 days (and counting) of no power
4. Heat index between 105 and 115
5. The pied-à-terre abandoned (hence the Uhaul).
6. Mushrooms growing on my carpet.
7. New subfloor
8. Termites, carpenter ants, squirrels and a possum, all in the house, and all evicted.
9. Rotten bookcases.
10. 105 linear feet of homeless books PLUS HMO’Keefe’s.
11. Moldy drywall.
12. Packed the entire first floor of the barn.
13. New HVAC.
14. Chose new flooring, paint, and more paint.
15. Sanded drywall.
16. Acquired my first extension ladder.
17. New solid bottom (doesn’t that sound sort of risqué?) dishwasher to protect the as-of-yet-uninstalled new flooring.
18. Burl the Handyman Extraordinaire retired. Found Shorty, the Whirling Dervish Handyman.
19. Sheer, unceasing, unspeakable chaos at work.
20. Flunked the mammogram. Passed on the 3rd try.
21. More indignities of old age.
22. Even more.
23. Still yet more.
24. Filled the dumpster (and then some).
25. This is only a partial list. I’m leaving out 26 through 147, but each and every one of them hold promise of a good story when I get to the point where I can laugh.I got a wee bit drunk last night. It was my only hope for sleep. I’ll never sleep tonight. It is, literally, 94F in the bedroom and the entire first floor is a construction zone. The only furniture available for human bodies are the wooden kitchen chairs. The idea of wine as a sleep aid is revolting and I’ve been mainlining water so I’ll pee every 30 seconds all night. Might as well just sit here.
AH DAMN. I JUST SWALLOWED A BEETLE.
After the Derecho slammer jammed West Virginia, 85% of the state lost power last Friday, including me. I woke Saturday morning to air conditioned comfort much to my astonishment. That astonishment grew as I learned about the Derecho, the state of emergency, the suffering that hurricane force winds during temps in excess of 100 can provoke. For those of you as ignorant of this weather phenomenon as I was, a Derecho is either Spanish or Sioux for Straight Arrow (different sources different origins). It’s a hurricane force wind that arrives with no warning and travels a great distance in a very short period of time wreaking havoc. This one started in the upper Midwest and didn’t stop until it knocked D.C off the grid. In 10 hours.
I routinely lose power. If a cloud somewhere sneezes, my power goes out. How did I get lucky? I don’t know. But I lost power in the second storm on Tuesday and here I sit, swallowing water and beetles.
Boston Boy is resolved to sleep out here tonight. If he succeeds, we’ll be at the E.R. tomorrow tending to potential Lyme Disease and 3rd degree mosquito bites.
The IPhone is keeping me sane. I switch between Facebook, the APCO website and email. One thing led to another and I found Charlene on Facebook today. By the time she accepted my friend request, the battery was dead. So the phone is on the car charger and I’m losing the battle against the bugs. The nifty new lantern which was the last non-electric source of light available for purchase in the state of West Virginia is attracting June bugs who subsequently explode like tiny, wet fireworks when they get too close to the flame. (Yes, it’s gruesome, but there are that many fewer for me to swallow.
It’s a dandy lantern – 1500 lumens with an electronic ignition. If it just had wi-fi, I’d be all set.
Besides every hotel being full to bursting with tree trimmers, power workers and the heat-tortured citizenry, we’re not in a hotel tonight for fiscally prudent reasons. Nor were we last night, but we were Thursday night because otherwise I was going to end up in either prison or the psych ward. But the, “Gee! Let’s put in new flooring” torture and massacre of every penny and more in the budget has the checkbook keening loudly, although not loud enough to drown out the neighbors’ three, yes three, generators. I hate the sound. Hate it. It sounds like a stampeding herd of semi-trucks. I just know the neighbors are over there wearing sweaters and surfing the Internet while sipping something frothy with lots of ice.
[Connie looks forlornly at the 2” of dirty water in the bottom of the cooler.]
So, it seems I’ve blogged again.
It’s now Sunday evening, about 10 p.m. I’ve had power since shortly before 2 p.m. Of course, another storm arrived shortly thereafter which is wreaking havoc. Thus far, the power is on having only flickered once or twice. I have the AC cranked. I’m going to get this house freezing so if we lose power, and I expect to, we’ll have some spare cool air. However, the heat has broken. It’s a good 30 degrees cooler outside than it was this time last night. I expect to sleep well tonight. Last night I prowled Walmart after writing the above. Heat-induced insomnia is a terrible thing. I did manage a few hours of restless half-awake-half-asleep-all-miserable time in the bed. I did persuade HMO’Keefe to sleep indoors last night so no hospital adventures for us today.
Sleep well, y’all. And try to find contentment in chaos.
It’s Christmas afternoon and there’s a lull in the action. We had a Christmas breakfast here in the fancy eating-room. My child toddled off to a nap and HMO’Keefe did the dishes and I think he’s now snoozing. I’m reminiscing and finishing off the mimosas. Besides the fact that it does involve champagne, the lovely libation is in a hollow flute and I love watching the column of bubbles. There’s no way I could just abandon it.
The weeks leading up to this holiday have been busy, yea, verily, frantic! And there’s been some drama. And I’ve been so very worn out and emotionally at the end of my tether. After leaving the office on Wednesday afternoon for a badly needed vacation, I’ve been a whirlwind. Nothing had even begun to be readied for the holiday and overwhelmed was the word of the week. The month. The year.
This is a stay at home vacation. I love having time off this time of year to hang around the house. I clean a little. I organize a little. I sleep. I write. I re-charge and gird my loins for the mayhem of January and February and March.
But before I could wallow in time off, Christmas had to readied. Against all odds, and with a fare amount of shouting, it came together. The house is not at its festive best by a long shot, but it’s so much better than it has been.
There was a whirlwind of shopping – most of it online. I generally refuse to order from any online establishment that will not provide free shipping, but when one waits until Christmas week to even begin, well, one, must make peace with shipping charges. Everything arrived.
A friend of mine has a long-standing tradition with her sister. For the holidays, they go on a shopping expedition together each spending on herself what she had intended to spend on the other. At the end of the outing, there’s a ritual exchange of “Here! Look what you got me!” When I was younger I would have hated this. But I’m an old woman, now. I have what I want, seldom really want anything, and for Christmas I’d really just like to spend a little more time with my mother.
My mother and I thought this sounded like a fine, fine tradition. We decided such an outing required the exotic locale of Columbus, Ohio. So, off we went. My mother “gave to me” some wonderful sweaters. And I gave to her some equally wonderful duds. It was a wonderful time and the First Mother-Daughter Christmas Shopping Expedition is now an annual event.
I spent the next day wrapping and finishing the trees. And cleaning. In the course of such, I found an old Christmas card from my son. This card had accompanied my gift of bath salts lovingly nestled in a baby-food jar and adorned with a fabric topper. The card is a dandy.
Mom I Love you
The soap Please Don’t
wash you self with
it put it on top of the
Well. You can’t argue with that. For years, it was on the toilet, but now it is on the beloved dressing table.
He was such a cute kid. He still is. He got into town about 9 p.m. Christmas Eve. We unwrapped gifts with the folks and came back here where he, I and HMO’Keefe killed two bottles of wine and talked food until 2 a.m.
Considering we were up until the wee hours, we woke fairly early and the three of us opened gifts. It was nice. HMO’Keefe prefers Christmas morning to Christmas Eve and joining lives is all about meshing traditions. After the spectacle of rampant materialism, I prepared French toast with didn’t turn out well, but if you serve anything with champagne, it becomes memorable.
We’re all pretty tired. I should be napping, but the sun is pouring through the atrium doors and there’s still champagne. I don’t spend much time in this room and I don’t know why. The light, particularly at this time of year and this time of day, is a balm to the spirit.
I’ve caught up with myself.
I was gifted with some very special presents which will merit another post another day, but I also received, because I asked for it, an all-in-one art box. For years, I’ve said I didn’t get the artistic gene that runs rampant through the rest of the family. I’ve also never been particularly interested in painting. I’ve quipped that if I had grandchildren (inserting an evil glare at Chef Boy ‘R Mine at the time), I could be the next Grandma Moses. I have no illusions that I’ll be any good. I don’t even care that it will be dreck. I’m looking forward to tossing paint around.
As for my son, the gift I gave to him that makes me smile the most is the pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sleep pants. In size Men’s Extra-Large. He’s wearing them. They’re, um, colorful. The little boy that gave me bath salts was a Ninja Turtle groupie. It was all Turtles, all-the-time, for a number of years. I chortled at the Wal-Mart when I saw them. He grinned when he opened them. Sometimes the best presents are the least expected ones which brings me to the gift from my father – a year’s worth of journal entries about his life. I haven’t looked close at it. Not yet. I want uninterrupted time to sink into it, but I’m tearing up at the thought of him giving me that window to his heart.
Christmas dinner, which my Dad is preparing, is in a few hours. I should be straightening the house and dressing, but the sun is still streaming into this room and there’s still champagne. Dad’s not going to throw me out if I show up in dirty jeans and a sweatshirt. Such is the acceptance of a loving family.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, it’s no Gardenpalooza – more like Gardenpifflefizzle, but it feels good. I finally got Quality Time in the garden this weekend. Quality Time being less than an accurate description. More later.
After having disappeared for so long, it’s a bit difficult to try and figure out where to begin.
In January, HMOKeefe decided to finally consolidate zip codes and he began the process of early retirement. He has some health issues related to a bone marrow transplant for leukemia (CML, to be exact) and the preparation for the move was, um, involved.
Besides trying to find a closet for him to put his togs in, I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger on a unicycle in a tornado at my job. Frequently during the past few months, I have muttered, declared and yelled, “Hell’s bells, we don’t have to schedule everything for the same time. There are 12 months in the year.
He still doesn’t have a closet.
[Speaking of tornados, boy, do I have a story.]
HMOKeefe has been ensconced in Chez Barn for a little more than a week. Well, sort of. Following the VERY EVENTFUL move from Massachusetts to West Virginia, I contracted a nasty something that turned into viral pneumonia. At present, I am quarantined and he is staying with my folks. Is it a big ol’ goofy world or what?
My doctor tut-tutted and reminded me that if I don’t slow myself down, my body will do it for me. And then she prescribed prednisone which winds me up like caffeine-laced cocaine. I’m supposed to be resting, sucking on one of my two inhalers (yes, two!) and drinking lots of fluids.
I still feel like the nasty crud at the bottom of the garbage can, but I’m strangely energized. I’ve restored some order to the house, processed a few loads of laundry, unpacked suitcases from the Massachusetts sojourn as well as those used for attendance at a conference last week.
[Oh, yes, I bring HMOKeefe to West Virginia and then abandon him. And then I arrive home with news that I’m contagious with a nasty and he’s got to go stay elsewhere due to the immune suppressants he takes. He had viral pneumonia years and years and years ago. It took little to persuade him to go stay with people he doesn’t know that well.]
And as if restoring order to the abode wasn’t enough, I summoned the wherewithal to finally mow the backyard.
I’ve been so flipping busy and it’s rained every weekend for months, I couldn’t get the lawn mowed. Folks tell me it’s been kind of dry the past couple of weeks, but my yard still squelches when I walk on it. Nonetheless, enough is enough. I tackled the (small) yard with a temperamental lawn mower yesterday. While hacking through the jungle that arose with the wild, wet spring, I hacked, coughed, sneezed and gagged – sometimes all at once. Viral pneumonia, even tempered with prednisone, is no fun.
Today, I weeded, cleaned up debris and finished chopping up last fall’s leaves with mower. [I was busy last fall, too.]
The garden is in a sad state. We had a late freeze that seriously damaged some of the newer perennials. Then we had nonstop rain. And then we had sudden deluges punctuated with high heat that effectively boiled a bunch of stuff. The stuff that did well – some of the roses, the wisteria, the peonies, the mock orange and the vinca all decided to bloom and blow while I was conducting a move worthy of a David Lynch film.
I feel cheated. But I also feel as if my equanimity is returning. Mucking about in dirt is a very effective antidepressant for me. And gardens do provide immediate gratification at times. After a harsh winter and soggy spring, the before and after of a couple days of prednisone driven frenzy is a sight to behold.
If you don’t look too close.
The garden is in a state and I’ll be the rest of the season nurturing and repairing damage. There’s nothing left to bloom, except maybe the peony. It’s a new one and I can’t tell if it’s bloomed or not. The buds don’t quite look like buds and might be what’s left after a bloom. I can’t quite figure it out.
Anyway, I need annuals. Lots of annuals. Petunias. Impatiens. Shasta Daisies. Morning Glory. Moonflowers. And some creeping juniper to replace that which died. And Boston ferns to hang by the door. Chocolate mint to grace the table. So much to do. But, damn, it’s good to be back in the garden..
Blogging, too, is an emotional balm for me. Damn, it’s good to be back.
[Did I mention the laptop hard drive crashed spectacularly and I’ve been without the little darling for nearly 4 weeks? HMOKeefe put in a new hard drive. I finished loading software and copying backup files and things are almost normal. Since I don’t have a picture of this spring’s roses, I’m using an older one for my desktop. Rain on roses seemed a fitting metaphor for the past few months.]
Ahem. My ambition is admirable.
Today, I finished denuding the closet, trashed the kitchen, living-dining room, two halls, the staircase and the bay window in the process. I hauled out 4 contractor-sized garbage bags of Stuff-I’m-Never-In-A-Thousand-Years-Gonna-Use.In doing all that, I ran across treasures I’d forgotten about – chiefly, the nativity set I “painted” for my son to put under his tree as well as the stuffed animals that lived in his tree’s branches.
[The story of “his” tree will have to be another post.]
The house was trashed and rather than attend to matters at hand, I ended up hanging forgotten dangly lights from the kitchen windows which means tomorrow I have to go in search of ribbon or fabric or something to give it a “finished” look as well as something for extension cord management. While looking for the extension cords, I ended up sort-of cleaning the laundry room and cleaning out the gift-wrap storage box. [You’ll note in the photo that I haven’t, actually, managed to put the decorations on the kitchen counter tree.]While all that was going on, the “big tree” was horizontal in the living room and I continued to flitter and flutter my ADD self about the house doing everything but attending to the mess in that room – a mess my dad would have commented on by saying, “Where’s the stick?” If I hadn’t heard that question several times a year since the year I was born, I might have responded with “What stick, Daddy?”
The stick you used to stir this mess up with.
I have gotten the tree vertical and the lights are all working without hours of futzing – a Christmas miracle. So, I’m cooking with gas now. I won’t finish it tonight, but I hadn’t expected to. Even so, the Barn is beginning to look very festive and I’m feeling virtuous with the dejunking I’ve done.
More importantly, I’m feeling very grateful for the life I’ve lived in which I’ve loved and been loved. Much of this stuff is imbued with memories that have kept me teary-eyed either from laughter or the bittersweet contemplation of people and times past. Decorating the “big tree” has always been a good-cry event. I’ve not even begun and the tears are flowing. If I get into the wine while unpacking the boxes littering the big room, I’m really going to be a spectacle.