Thursday, January 31, 2008

What a difference a day makes!

We had a blizzard yesterday. Endless, dark skies and snow blowing horizontally and cold, cold, cold. Some parts of Buffalo had flooding and flash freezing, but we were spared that. Tom and I had nowhere to go, no appointments, so we stayed home all day, Tom in his recliner and me either on the loveseat or at my tiny dining room office. I got out The Four Story Mistake and found it the perfect book for a stormy day, even for the tenth reread, or so.

Around 2:00 p.m. I looked at Tom still in his pajamas and asked aloud, "Why am I wearing my house clothes? Why don't I just get back into my nightgown and robe?" Tom said, "Why not?" so that's what I did.

Then I camped out on the loveseat while watching a terrific new show--Sue Thomas, FBI. Oh my. I call it my soap. I saw the first episode a couple weeks ago and have been so impressed with the actress who plays Sue. I mean, she makes lip-reading and signing look like the coolest things you can do upon this Earth. Eons ago, I took a sign language class for a few weeks but I didn't stick with it long enough to even begin appearing cool.

A bit later, someone knocked at the door and I made Tom answer it since his pajamas can pass for regular clothes if you don't stare at them closely. The neighbor boy asked to borrow a couple eggs because they were making chocolate cake and I loved that. We lived at our last house for nearly 15 years and no neighbor ever asked to borrow eggs, sugar, flour or anything! But I always hoped they would, for I wanted to feel as old-fashioned as possible in my neighborhood.

Anyway. Today is sunny and oh-so-clear and the 18 degrees feel like thirty. And since all of us were told to stay home yesterday if we had no place to go, everybody and his Uncle Mac is here today at the town library, including crying children. So, for the first time, I placed headphones upon my head hoping it would silence some of the noise, and well, it kinda does. But I'm thinking about Sue Thomas again and how in a library full of crying children, being deaf wouldn't be so very tragic--at all.

And I'm also thinking that today is the final day of my self-imposed January vacation. Though I didn't have as many restful days as I'd dreamed, I had enough. In fact, I did watch the scandalous amount of tv I told you I would and I believe my brain has turned to mush.

So here's to returning to Real Life! To un-mushing my brain and moving on to new things and even back to some old ones, also.


Monday, January 28, 2008

You know how God deals with you about certain things at certain times? You know, how you can recognize that you're taking tests (and failing them) when the same annoying things keep happening over and over and over?

Well. Lately my tests have been of the Realizing Things Don't Always Go As Planned variety. Tons of times these past few months I have planned that things will go a certain way (uh, like, my way) and yet they (surprise, surprise) go a whole other way.

Like yesterday. It was Naomi's birthday (I have a 28-year-old daughter now. I can't believe it, especially since I only feel 28, myself.). So since she and Carl were coming over in the afternoon, I shoveled all the sidewalks, but only salted the sidewalk leading out to the back of the house where I assumed they'd park again this time.

They parked out front, instead. sigh. At the door, Carl volunteered to salt the front sidewalk because it was very, very icy. Their faces had that "We just barely survived your icy sidewalk" look.

Ok, that sounds small, but when that sort of thing happens everyday for awhile--and I let it get me all frustrated ("Why can't I do things right the first time? Why do things always go the opposite of how I thought they'd go?"), well, I can be certain I am facing tests. And they will not go away until I begin passing them. Until I just realize people are gonna do what they're gonna do and it probably won't be what I would have done.

As in, Tom will bring home dessert from work on the day I spent an hour making a special dessert at home.

Or I'll be at the supermarket, I'll hold a bag of rice in my hand and think, "Oh, I'm sure we've got enough rice at home so I'll put this back." Then I'll get home and discover we are completely riceless.

Or the recyclers will come for weeks and weeks at 7:00 a.m. and the one day I don't put our recycling bin out by 6:00, they come at 6:00, instead.

Like I said, tiny stuff, but it can add up to lots of frustration if I let it.

So here's what I'm learning: Expect that things will probably not go the way I planned. Expect that I will make mistakes and will forget things--and other people will, too.

Now, I'm not saying I go around expecting bad things to happen. No way! You all know I'm too Pollyanna-ish for that. I mean, there are different kinds of faith--faith that your life will be good and faith that it will turn out bad.

I choose to believe for the good.

But what I'm also believing in--for my own sanity and so that I'll stop complaining--is that I'll be patient in times when things get tweaked/switched around/screwed-up/shaken-up. And with that expectation, I can relax. I can keep my sense of humor and just roll my eyes and smile. And recall all the times before when my plans weren't nearly as good as the ones God planned for me, instead.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Technical Question

Okay. Now, I'm not asking for opinions here, but I'd like to hear from someone who actually knows the laws regarding this.

See, Tom's company is letting him use an oldish laptop computer at home for a work-related project just using Windows. So yesterday here at home, just for fun, Tom clicked on the Internet Explorer icon and aha! He was able to connect to the Internet. He was very surprised because we have no actual computer access. Later we talked and figured that perhaps the people upstairs are online and this wireless laptop is picking up their signal. Or perhaps could it be because we have (and are paying for) the most basic tv cable on Earth from Time Warner?

Well. Tom is thinking we're doing something highly illegal now. He's feeling guilty whenever he goes online and is expecting the Cable/Satellite Police to come crashing down our front door. heh.

But I've been like, "Hey. Did we tweek any cable wires? Did we even plug anything besides the power cord into the wall? I don't think so." I told him, "What do you think you should do? Call the cable company and confess, "Uh, I turned on my laptop and got online mysteriously and I'd like to turn myself in?"

So there's my question. Is Tom right and we're doing something very illegal? Or am I right that it's ok? Any legal gurus in this field out there?

It's temporary that we will have this laptop here at the house, but I've got to say it's kinda nice not having to make the journey to the city library in order to talk with all of you. Now I'll just need to keep the control I've gained these past couple weeks of not being online and being set free from having to check my email and blog every 15 minutes. heh.


P.S. I just noticed something which says we are connected to 'linksys'. Hmm... doesn't sound like something having to do with Time Warner (our cable company). ???

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finally our old house is no longer ours. No more treks over there by foot through 12 degree temperatures or snow storms to meet inspectors or the buyer or to clean rooms and box or trash paraphernalia lurking in deep, dark corners.

Finally the house where I lived longer than any other (nearly 15 years) is mine no more to step into and walk through its rooms.

Hallelujah! It is so time to move on. To remember the myriad special times, but to move on, nonetheless, and prepare for great times in our new tiny place and all the places to come.

Tom and I love our little cottage house. Life feels simpler there. Comforting. Easy, cozy and sweet.

But what concerns me? The way we're utterly content living with only one-third of our possessions. Hmm... definitely a lesson there. I hope I will remember it.

I watch the show, Clean House, everyday (I'm so addicted) and I see people cry when they release their possessions in order to make paths for newer, more organized rooms. I watch the pain-filled tugging inside them when part of them wants to let go but another part is afraid, especially when the items are gifts from family. And well, I would sit before the screen and giggle, "What a bunch of obsessive loonies," except that I experienced the same struggles last year. So I sit and understand and empathize, crying with them, instead.

Stuff... too much stuff. What a curse when we cannot let go. And how sad when the table dear ol' Great Aunt Mary gave us somehow has become Great Aunt Mary. Because really, that table is not her. An inanimate object is not a living, breathing person--and never will be.

A table is a table and even the torn, faded quilt Grandmother made is still, well, a quilt. It is we who attach all sorts of mystical feelings to stuff. And somewhere in the middle, we lose sight of what's alive and what's going to Heaven with us. And what is not.

And Grandmother becomes her torn and faded quilt. And to let go of the quilt is to let go of Grandma and see her die all over again. Hence, the pain.

Well, anyway, these are my thoughts lately while I recuperate from a year of purging our belongings and while I watch others purge their stuff on Clean House. Oh the angst and suffering--but the joy at the sight of clean, organized rooms! Rather like the joy which comes on sunny mornings after weeks of dark clouds and much rain.


Does anyone else watch Clean House? Niecy Nash is my new favorite person! I'd love to have her come to my tiny cottage and talk, simply just talk while I would sit, listening to her. Niecy is so very different from me and she makes me laugh aloud. I welcome anyone into my life who can do that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We needed to get rid of our large roll-top desk and our black antique bookcase with glass doors. There comes a time to let go of everything in our lives, and well, that time had come for those rather large pieces of furniture still sitting there all lonely inside our nearly-empty old house.

Well, we gave selling them a half-hearted attempt in the midst of all those myriad other details one must attend to when one is moving.

No go. Still they sat there in that cold house five blocks away, waiting for a new home. Our buyer didn't want them--though she is buying our Craftsman table and chairs and sideboard from us, so those pieces are still there, too.

Finally (finally) I had an Aha! Moment.........Give them away through our local Freecycle!

So I used my Buffalo Freecycle Yahoo group for the first time and oh my. What an amazing thing. Within five minutes my email box was full of people with raised hands, saying, "I'll take the desk!," "I'll take the bookcase! Choose me! Choose Me!"

And now the roll-top desk we'd had twenty years and the bookcase we had for 14 have gone to new homes. I told both families, "I hope you'll enjoy the furniture," and while closing the door, I wished both pieces well inside their new homes with their new people.

And this is the way I want to live... able to hold everything with an open hand and never, never stopping the flow of giving which is such a vital part of Life. Of sharing. And of moving-on.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

For various and sundry reasons we can receive mail at our new tiny place, but are unable to have the mailman take ours away with him. 

So I walk a lot now, as in, down to the nearest blue public mailbox on a street which was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most bars. Hmm. All these years later there are still some bars, most with people living above them.

And there are apartments. Many, many apartments in huge, old houses from the early 1900's. Some well-kept, others leaning, tearful-looking, as though they miss the days when just one family lived inside.

And on my way to that mailbox, I pass lots of other tall houses with multiple mailboxes lining porch walls and multiple families tucked inside the walls (I like to picture them happy, cozy, and filled with potential friends, but I'm aware they're not all that way). 

These streets are only 5 1/2 blocks from my old house and old life, but there's a feeling of being a whole planet away.

I now live in the Land of Apartments. And well, I love it. I love walking past these old places and seeing cute, tiny houses tucked away in the backyard. Or gardens back there with benches and old light posts and brick walkways. All those attempts at making shangri-la's charms me. I love catching up on all I missed only sometimes driving past these places for fourteen years.

And I do walk a lot more now because, for some weeks, Tom will work a different schedule and I'll not have the car as often. So I walk the blocks down to the convenience store and yesterday I walked farther, down to the old train dining car which has been sitting there since 1910 and is now a coffee shop. We've driven by many times, but no one is ever inside (it seems) so I went to give them business. To sow some goodwill and encouragement by buying coffee and a chocolate chip cookie.

I love sowing goodwill that way.

There are other places to walk to, there on that street with bars, apartments and convenience stores. There are more adventures awaiting me.


Monday, January 14, 2008

So here I am at the library where I walked to for the first time from our apartment. Probably a one mile walk, or so, and it's amazing how much you miss while driving through the same ol' neighborhoods.

Rather like Life, I think. Race through Life staring only straight ahead, (expecting to see only what you saw before) and well, you'll miss the serendipitous surprises everywhere along the side of the road.

I now recommend tiny one-bedroom houses to all you empty-nesters. It's like playing house everyday and being ten-years-old again, using your once-neglected imagination so you can make four rooms feel like six, so you can, like a puzzle, fit all your pieces into closets and make all furniture pull double-duty.

And for me, it's like being a 1940's newlywed while I play my Benny Goodman Big Band music and do bouncy little dances down the hall with an apron tied around my waist. Oh how young I feel at those times--so of course--I avoid any mirrors in those moments lest they jerk me back to my nearly-fifty present and all this grey hair at my temples.

I remind myself that I am on vacation this month, keep telling myself it's ok to rest and do nothing or to watch my new favorite Style Network shows, Clean House and Dress My Nest. Tom and I now have broadcast cable--only $8.95 per month and around ten more stations than we picked up with our antenna at the old house. We chose broadcast to save money, which is rather ludicrous when you consider that last week Tom bought an LCD tv (at around half-off, he'd be quick to add). For me, our old tv was fine and I still lug our portable between the bedroom and the kitchen, but Tom had wanted an LCD for ages so it came from money out of the sale of our house.

I'm not sure why our house hasn't closed yet, but I'm thankful, for I'm still cleaning it out and sorting through the stuff and junk and nonsense left upon the shelves. And it's all taking more time than I thought, but then, we were more entrenched than I thought, too. Entrenched

It's lovely to savor this time and say good-bye slowly. I remember, feel and appreciate all things more which I watch while slowing down.

And in this case, a slow good-bye feels just right.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The other day I had this thought-- People who hate change are usually stuck. And darn unhappy.

I stood in the sunny kitchen of our apartment--did I tell you that the window over the sink gets afternoon sunshine and the setting sun as well? And do you know how long I've dreamed of a kitchen window like that? Only for the last 15 years, that's all. Oh my!

And the window finally came to me when I opened myself up to renting a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the lower front of an ancient gold house near the railroad tracks. The same tracks outside that kitchen window where I watch trains speed by and, with hands in soapy water, dream about the places they are traveling.

I love living in this apartment. Can you believe it? I mean for the first years of our marriage I thought only a gigantic Victorian house would make me happy, but I never did get one of those. And now? Well, a Victorian house would tire me. Daily.

Grace led me to this change-- this apartment--and I'm happy there. 

The kitchen is arranged more efficiently than my old one.  There's a laundry closet off the dining room so no longer must I wander down to the dark depths of a basement, lugging heavy baskets up the stairs later. Wow. The bedroom is even larger than our previous one. The closet is longer, larger and the bathroom vanity is tons more convenient than our old pedestal sink and there's the clothesline outside I've craved for 14 years, as well.

But you know? The old Debra who used to hate change would have hated this apartment. She'd have whined, "It's too small. Too modern-ish. Too much in the wrong part of town and what will people say/think/do when they hear about this?"

But the new Debra is breaking free from what 'they' say (whoever 'they' are) She realizes there is no new adventure unless there are a few changes at least somewhere in the journey. And well, she's loving change right about now. Long ago she tired of same ol' days strung together like pages which will never change except to yellow and turn brittle with age.

Oh, sometimes that's exactly what makes a book (or tv show) comforting, especially in times where there's too much change happening. But other times? Change is a doorway to new lessons and roads rife with adventures. 

I'm learning to view change as good--to trust God that the changes will be terrific after some time. And viewing change as open doors to adventure, well, what a surprise these middle years of my life.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Okay. So I'm glad I posted those photos when I did, for we no longer have Internet access at our old house. Long story. I will spare you. Thanks so much for your kind comments below!

Tom and I were far, far, far too entrenched in that old house of ours. The way I'm feeling today, this moment? I never want a largish house again. A tiny cottage will be fine. Just a place for our best treasures and no room for the so-so, just-throw-it-under-there, stuff.

I asked Tom yesterday, "Wouldn't it be terrific if the only stuff we owned in this whole world was what we've packed into this tiny apartment?" He said, "Yeah, that would be great."

Personally, though, I don't think he meant it. Not really. He's not as sick of junk and the stuff you feel you must keep, even though you ache to let it go. To let it all go. But I am sick of stuff. Sick of how I keep making all these trips over to the old house and still--still--there's junk in the cupboards and drawers and the basement and shed. Will it never be emptied? Lately I wonder.

May we never become so entrenched again. May all our future houses be compact, sweet and givers of time and new freedoms. May we find new hobbies, ones which don't require buying things and lugging them home.

And may we never for one moment forget our lives upon this planet are oh so temporary... and when we leave, someone will have to clean-up after us.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

For Those Who Asked...

... here are some photos from our new place, or Grace Place as Judy called it (loved that title, Judy... thanks!). Please note: all arrangements are subject to change at any moment a decorative mood washes over me.

This is my favorite part of the house. It's our dining room, but mostly it's my office, the first place I go in the morning with my coffee. The seashells upon the shelves give me a feeling of breadth and distance, two things this tiny place doesn't have, except in my imagination. Paintings upon the walls help with that, also. (Click to enlarge and to see the shells. The lighting on this one actually came out pretty to close to accurate. Kinda cozy in real-life, as well.)

And here's the kitchen in the same room. I'm still quite unfinished decorating it.

The movers weren't supposed to bring along our chest freezer, but it's turned into a happy mistake! I'm thankful for the extra counter and storage space.

Here's just one corner of the living room. Olive-green curtains will go up this week to frame the sheers.

And that's about all for now... Gotta run and clean this poor old house which we are leaving soon!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hi Everyone!

Well, Big Ol' Moving Day was yesterday and we survived (of course, it was the coldest day of the year, but alas, the sun shone and made all the difference). Although by evening, my lower back was so sore and I was sooo tired and I tried not to think about the disastrous shape our old house is still in and how we still have far, far too much junk over there to sort through. And all the work I'll have to do.

But I digress.

Spending the night in our new tiny place was great fun, well, except when the cats kept jumping on my bed, perhaps just to make certain I'd not left them alone in this strange place.

Speaking of cats, poor ol' Lennon refused to leave his carrier at first. The only trips he's taken in that thing were to the vet's office and you could tell he was thinking, "I just know there's a big, mean doctor around the corner simply waiting to poke me!" An hour later I literally dumped him out of the carrier, then he crouched into the laundry room where he hid for another hour.

What an embarrassment to the cat world.

McCartney, his sister, was a real trooper and searched every room three or four times before Lennon entered them even once.

Anyway, we'll have computer access over here at the old house for a few more days so I'll try to get some photos to you next time. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments! They make me smile and gladder than ever for each of you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Everyone.... a tad late!

But I have my excuses, honest. Guess who's packed up her car a dozen times since Monday and unloaded boxes and boxes and boxes into her new tiny apartment? Yes, we finally have the keys--woo hoo! Big Moving Day will be tomorrow, but in the meantime Tom and I have been attempting to get as unpacked as we can ahead of time.

And I love it. Well, when I'm not all stiff and bent-over and when yesterday's nervous twitch on my face isn't beating and making me appear odd. :) But as I unpacked my kitchen stuff Tom asked, "You're really enjoying this, aren't you?" and I said, "Oh! Fourteen years is waaay too long to stay in one place. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to unpack inside a new home. Kinda like Christmas and playing house in your childhood both together.

And did I tell you there's a window over the kitchen sink and a big ol' clothesline outside that window, too? Both things I've longed for for years.

But truly, I must be running on Grace. I mean, our new place is tiny. Tiny. And it's not even what anyone would call cute. Well, it's tininess creates a sense of cuteness, but mostly it's all, oh, kinda ordinary. White walls, even, except in the bedroom and living room which have light-grey paneling (and Debra has hated paneling for eons).

But I love it now. The whole minuscule place which we'll sleep in for the first time tomorrow night. And the challenge of creating an imaginative, cozy, un-cramped home inside those four rooms is inspiring beyond words. Even if it is all temporary. Even if it isn't even really ours. Still, I'm inspired out of my skin.

But enough about me and my excuses why I missed an official New Year's Day post. Again, I am wishing each of you a very happy 2008! I hope you will keep popping in here to read throughout my year of new adventures. And if it seems a long time between my posts, promise me you will not worry about me, nor think me mad at you or neglectful or lazy or mean. I'll just be taking a break. And as I've said here before, boy, do I ever need one about now!


Forgot to mention we've been unloading our cargo in falling snow and blowing snow, just exactly what, for years, we've told each other we must be certain not to do. "We must never move in winter!", we've exclaimed. So while backing out of the driveway yesterday I told Tom, "It's exactly like that verse in Job, you know, about having the thing we feared most come upon us. So let's never, never, never fear anything ever again!" :)