Friday, August 22, 2014

Nearly wordless weekend.

Last weekend was so odd (and NOT because of taking my son to school) that I'm still just quietly processing. And retreating to beach photos while I sort it through. I'll try to get back to normal next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I may be moping for a while.

Saturday my younger son and his father arrived to pick me up to head over to the University so my son could move into the dorm.  It's located in a pretty part of the campus but on this day it was all about traffic.  As we watched the hordes of new students go by my son said, "Where are all the kids with skinny jeans and tactical side buckles?  They don't look like college kids."  I asked where he'd gotten his idea of what college kids look like and he said uncertainly, "Movies?"
We were instructed to unload at the dorm and then park somewhere else, so I waited with the pile.  I watched as families carried load after load in, but my son had packed everything he needed in a box, duffle bag, and a backpack.  Add to that his violin and guitar and a bag of goodies I'd brought for him, and we were able to make it in one trip.  At least, we made it in one trip after my son and his dad trekked over to the student health center to straighten out a glitch with his vaccination records that was keeping him from being allowed to check in to his room.
After we got the bed made up and some of his stuff stowed away, I sat down and started crying.  I just can't help it.  I did the same thing with my older son.  And he was a little anxious himself about this new life. But it didn't stop him from horsing around when I was trying to get pictures.  He said he was going to make sure he was bent sideways in all his photos and then gradually straighten up over the years he was there.  Then, when anyone looked at his pictures from college, they'd say, "Wow, his scoliosis really improved!"
His roommate was absent but had already moved in.  All we were able to discern is that he's from Colombia and loved the Kennedys.  In addition to this poster, he had small busts of JFK and, oddly, Woodrow Wilson.
I started crying again when we headed out.  I know, I know, I'll see him again.  I tell you, I can't help it. I left him with the reminder that he was free to come home whenever he wanted to, for any reason - to do laundry, for a meal, or if he just needed a little break from his roommate.  But the house suddenly seems bigger and quieter.  As happy for him as I am, I'm not altogether thrilled about that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another before and after.

Before: I really needed my room to be a retreat from the chaos that is moving in to a new house and it was actually the first room I tackled.  The room I chose wasn't actually the master bedroom.  It was the middle-sized bedroom being used by the former owners as a study.  The master bedroom faced both the street and the neighbor's house on the side.  This is the only one that faced only the back yard, and it had the most closet space.
The view was the main reason I picked it - I like looking out on the back yard. The former owner slapped a coat of latex paint over oil-based paint on the woodwork, so it's peeling like crazy. I am planning to sand it down and re-prime and paint.
I tore out the built in bookshelves, which was a surprisingly difficult task.  They'd been securely nailed in and then caulked, so I had a lot of patching to do.  I couldn't really see the point of them and they just made the room look boxed in.  Looks like the room was a bright pink before they painted it to sell it.
The walls in almost the entire house had been painted a light yellow prior to the sale.  An inoffensive color, to be sure, but not me.  My method for choosing a paint color is to tape up several paint sample cards and then, as the light changes, take down one at a time until I'm left with one I like in all lights.  It's really hard to tell in the rest of the photos, but I went with peach shades.
I tried for sort of an ombré effect, with graduated shades.  I bought a gallon each of the darker and lighter shades on one card, and then mixed a couple of batches in varying proportions as I painted upward. It may not be to everyone's liking, but I find it soothing.
I replaced the old vinyl mini blinds with room darkening shades (for nighttime) and floral sheers. All three doors in the room have the original cut glass door knobs, so I got a curtain rod with cut glass finials to go with them.
Although I'm going for deeper colors in the rest of the house, I like my room to be lighter and more serene.  Not frilly, but still feminine.  Those little carved gourd lights reflect in the dresser mirror, which makes the room glow.
After: The view that matches the before photo at the top.  It hardly looks like the same room.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The other reason I've been too busy to blog.

I have moved into a neighborhood where landscaping matters.  All around me people pour time and energy and not a little money into their yards.  The former owner of the house, however, was not one of those people and the yard is mostly plain.  I'm changing that.  I started by ordering a pallet - nearly two tons - of flat field stone.  And I set about building a little wall to outline a bed.  It curves from the driveway all the way down to the edge of the other side of the front yard.  My neighbors stop by now and again to survey my work and comment that I'm already way ahead of the previous owner.  Did I mention that in this neighborhood, it matters?
Next up, I had a truckload of compost (6 scoops) dumped in my yard and started covering the grass with cardboard.  You'd be surprised how much interest this project has elicited.  Neighbors I've not met yet pause in their walks to ask about what I'm doing.  This is my earth-friendly approach, which I learned at a permaculture workshop. I cover the grass with cardboard and newspaper and then compost and then more cardboard/paper and then mulch.  Over time the paper all decomposes and the grass is starved of sunlight and dies.  I hope.
 I had a second truckload of compost brought in when it was clear the first one wasn't going to be enough and accidentally buried the water meter cover.  Oops.  After a lot of digging, I found it again and put rocks around it to form a a little barrier.
And then the mulch step.  This is all hard work and my across-the-street neighbor commented that I still had a lot to do and suggested I use his landscaping guys.  But no, that's money I just don't have. What I do have is my own driven self.  So a wagon-full at a time, I'm distributing the mulch.
I've done this lower part of the bed so far.  By the time fall rolls around it should be ready to plant.  I still have the better part of two truckloads of mulch to distribute and another bed I want to build.  I have a little time and I'm confidant I'll get it all done.
Because I happen to have a little weakness. Before I moved out of my old house, I carefully dug up 48 daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs and packed them away for this fall. I also uprooted a big peony, a silver lamium, two tubs of hostas, a tub of lily of the valley, another of irises and some blue star creeper. They are all waiting to go into the garden here. And in the meantime, off and on I’ve ordered plants on-line which will be shipped in the fall. And then forgotten them, and ordered others. These include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lilies, gladioli, crocuses, rosy bells, and snow glories. Also a fig tree, a hibiscus, a second blueberry bush, a weigela, a couple of buddleia, some hyssop, sweetbox, sage, bee balm, speedwell, Joe Pye weed, dwarf mondo grass and another peony. On the deck I have some swamp milkweed temporarily housed in a pot and there’s a mystery unmarked bag of bulbs in the shed. Some quick math… and in September and October I will have to plant about 300 bulbs/rhizomes and twenty shrubs/plants. And there are some larger trees and bushes I will almost certainly buy at that time, too, to go in the ground.  I know.  You don't need to tell me, because I already know.  I'm a plant addict. And I don't think it's an addiction I want to break.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Beach trip overview.

It's taken some time to get back to blogging after our trip to the Georgia coast, the land of live oak trees draped in Spanish moss.
The kids and I stayed at a different place on St. Simon's Island this time, in the upper apartment on the right.
From the living room, and also from my room, we could see the ocean. Occasionally, we'd look up to see a big Russian cargo ship passing.
As soon as we got there, we changed and walked across the street to have a look at the water.  But it was high tide, so we headed down to East Beach instead.
No matter where it is on the tide schedule, there is always plenty of sandy beach there to walk on.
My sons made their usual sand castles, and also took long walks together so they could talk.  I know they miss each other, and I was happy to see them deep in conversation.
And I enjoyed the time with my own thoughts as I walked. Sometimes, there would be no one else anywhere in sight.  We were on the beach every morning and evening, when the sun wasn't as intense.
Mostly, we had our mid-day meals out.  Always seafood of one sort or another.  Even at the Mexican restaurant, I had a salmon and goat cheese quesadilla.
To escape the heat we also looked around in the various shops on the islands.  I got some books to read while I was there and in one store we took this very serious selfie.
My older son has little tolerance for the heat.  Even with the AC on, he wilted.  At one point, he collapsed under the fan and said dramatically, "It's too got-dang hot in this state."
No trip to the coastal South is complete for me without a stop at the farmer's market to pick up some hot boiled peanuts.  There is something blissful about having them with an icy beer out on a balcony overlooking the warm waters of the low country.
We were only there for 5 days, but it was a welcome respite.  My sons are as tight as brothers can be, and both were reluctant to have the vacation end.
And me?  I'm thinking maybe a second career as a life guard.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

At the beach with my kiddos...

Unless we get a rainy spell, I'll be back around after I get home in a few days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


This was the garage right after I moved in.  And it stayed like that for a while, a staging ground for unpacking boxes.  It's a single car garage with old wood plank walls and virtually no organizational system other than one cabinet and a few random nails in the wall. And for the record, I absolutely love the wooden walls.  Several people have suggested that it would be easy to insulate and put up sheet rock. But the idea of covering those walls just makes me very, very sad.
After I got the last box unpacked, I started drilling and arranging and now have a system of hooks for things to be stored along the walls.  I made some plain sheer curtains to let in light but allow for privacy.
I put up the long board from the book shelf I tore out of my room and under it a small cabinet with a door that I brought from my old house.  And yes, I am the kind of person who thinks a garage can stand a little art.
The cabinet sustained water damage when the washing machine faucet sprung a leak, so after I'd cleaned it with bleach and let it dry thoroughly, I painted the side and the doors with a can of paint the former owners left behind.  The doors are made of oriented strand board and I discovered in my last house that a couple of coats of paint make OSB less rough.  Those three enormous pipe wrenches I found at my old house.
The door into the house had been scratched by a dog (I'm assuming).  I filled that in with wood putty, removed the door handle and dead bolt and painted it with the paint I'd originally bought for the dining room and then hated in there.
But it works on this door - it seems very cheery to me. (I have some crazy backlighting going on in this photo because I had to open the garage door to get the shot.) I like knowing where everything is and not having to step over things.  But you know what I like most of all?
That my car now fits easily inside.