Saturday, November 28, 2009

A New Living Room Because of Paint

So yesterday while I recuperated from Thanksgiving dinner (and my post-Thanksgiving breakfast) I gazed around at our cold, cold white living room walls and thought, "No! I just cannot, simply cannot stand to leave these walls white even one more day." So I hopped up, ran upstairs, changed my shirt, then mixed a couple cans of paint. Then I ran back down here, moved some furniture around and began painting.

Now, I hadn't planned to give that wall a sort of Tuscan finish, but that's how it appeared (serendipity in a can, I suppose)--and I love it. Always, the rooms of Italian villas in movies nearly stop my heart with their beauty and well, now my heart stops while looking at my very own wall. I painted only 5/6 of the wall you see, but already the room looks a bazillion times warmer, and oh, how this old farmhouse needed warming!

So it's back to painting I go... Just wanted to show you what I have so far. How satisfying to finally behold some pro-activity happening around here.


P.S. It's a cloudy morning here, so the pictures are a bit dark. I can't wait until the sun returns--the walls will pulsate with color, I'm sure!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My First (& Perhaps Only Ever) Giveaway!

Sometimes I get excited about the simplest things...

Last week I rearranged our living room, the biggest change being that I placed our couch perpendicular to the wall, making this rectangular room look much more square ( a good thing).

And so this morning Tom drove to work and I created a breakfast of Thanksgiving leftovers, then I sat down to watch an episode of the tv series, Fame, and well, while watching the dancers on the screen, that's when this lightning bolt idea hit me while sitting there in our recliner:

"Why not use the back of our couch as a ballet barre?"

Oh! I sat my plate aside and jumped up off the recliner and skittered to the back of the couch to try it out. Wow. Who knew that a couch's back could make a terrific ballet barre? (And why didn't I think of this sooner during the past, well, forever, that I've longed for a ballet barre of my own?)

So look out World.... Debra is going to get back into shape again. She's got her ballet barre to prove it.


P.S. Speaking of Fame, I'd bought the first season practically the second it came out, but then, alas, a couple years later a new dvd set came out with seasons 1 and 2 combined, making some of us a bit perturbed since that means we had to buy the first season all over again in order to see season 2. But alas, the price of the 2-season set was fair.

So anyway..........................drum roll................ would anyone like to have my first season set of Fame for free? If so, please leave your name and either your email address or blog address and I'll hold a drawing this Sunday, November 29th.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving (And Other Things)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers and those beyond. Every day should be one in which we give thanks, after all.

And I appreciate your anniversary wishes, the ones here and on Facebook. Our day was made more special by them.

It was an odd day, sort-of. Tom had earlier made a doctor appointment for a second opinion regarding his shoulder, so of course, he was a bit in the dog house for not even remembering that Wednesday would be our anniversary. I waited and waited then finally reminded him on Monday.

Oh well, I would have driven with him to this new doctor, but the office was in a city-like place and I just wasn't up for that so soon after the last time. So I, instead, waited around for the gutter cleaner guys. (What is it with gutter cleaners? We had to call four or five, all of which did not show up. Same thing happened last year.) And now finally our gutters are cleaned (a real blessing) and our chimney is sealed where it leaked once last year after the first thaw.

Then Tom brought home lunch and we watched the old Australian Snowy River tv series which we'd never before seen. And the day became better.

That is, until Tom broke the bad news. Remember how I said his company changed their policy about holidays and now no one has to work them? Well, they tweaked that this past week. Winter holidays must still be worked and now guess who must work 12 hours on Christmas Day?

Gah! Thought I was going to blow a gasket inside my head. I confess, I threw a fit when Tom told me that bit of news, even announced I'm back to hating Christmas (forgive me, please, all you goofy Christmas lovers).

Disappointment! I've never experienced so much disappointment as I have while living in this farmhouse. One thing after another, it seems, week after week, blow after blow.

But you know? One must learn to accept disappointment, deal with it, and discover good things with which to replace it. Otherwise, one will get angry and you know where anger will get you, don't you? Anger will suck all the serotonin out of your head and zoom you right into depression. I've blogged about that before and since then, I've noticed just how true it appears to be. And I so do not want to ever slip back into depression--that is one scary state in which to live. Trust me, I remember my Nevada Years quite well where depression was my constant enemy.

So instead, I'll just be thankful that Tom, at least, gets Christmas Eve off and we can have Naomi--and hopefully Carl, too--over on that day, instead. Then on Christmas Day while I'm sitting out here alone in the countryside, I'll have my memories of the previous day.... and some new books and dvd's to watch.... and most of all, I'll still have Jesus who never, ever leaves me alone.

And oh, how empty this old farmhouse would feel without Him, especially on Christmas!


This is neither here nor there, really, but while the gutter guys were up on the roof, we had them install screens over the gutters (also over the barn gutters, too). That way we won't have to rely upon flakey gutter guys next year. Glory Hallelujah. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thirty-One Years And Counting...

As of today, Tom and I have been married 31 years. Wow. I can remember our wedding more clearly than what I did last Friday. How can that be?

These later years sail past faster with each one so it behooves me to live them well.

Happy anniversary to the best guy on Planet Earth!


As you may recall, the above photo is, of all things, our engagement photo. Tom proposed to me at my favorite place in Auburn, CA---the cemetery--right beside Rattlesnake Dick's tombstone. Loved that then, love it now and still love that photo after all these decades. (But then, any photo which does not clearly show my face is a winner.)

Go here for a bit of history about Rattlesnake Dick and a closer view of his tombstone.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Probably since I was a teenager, people who complain month after month about what they do not have (or do have, but don't want), well, they've bothered me. Made me crazy.

Lately, I've been making myself crazy with all my own complaining.

But alas! I'm snapping out of it. I stopped whining about my living room and I rearranged it, instead. It still needs to be painted, but in the meantime, I'm thrilled with this new arrangement.

And instead of lolling around on the couch feeling convicted to death of watching too much tv, I got off the couch. And I'm not watching nearly as much tv now.

Instead of dragging around the house, all despondent because I wasn't getting enough sunlight, I began sitting out on our front porch or our patio every time the sun peaked through the clouds. I also began spending more time in front of windows when it was too cold to sit outside.

Instead of staying off my sore foot and not getting any exercise, I began walking a different way so that it wouldn't hurt as much. And doing exercises which don't require me to stand.

Always there is something we can do to improve our current annoyances--

Big jobs can be broken up into small ones. 
Phone calls for help can be made. 
Services can be bartered. 
Money can be saved-up over time for something we really want. 
Recipes and bargains and inspiration can be found online as well as encouragement and friendship and fun. 
Prayers can be prayed and closets can be decluttered and rooms can be painted one wall at a time. 
We can join a different group or start a new group if our current group doesn't feel right. 
Old friends can be found if we search hard enough and music can be listened to and funny movies can help us laugh again. 
Research can be done into our health so we can take better care of ourselves rather than reaching for pills, pills, pills. 
New hobbies can be started, new habits can be formed and new adventures can be taken.

But often one thing must happen first -- we must push past the laziness

And the excuses and self-pity. We must do something, instead of complain about something. Push past all those barriers and usually we'll be amazed at what we discover over on the other side.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Because of all the years Tom had to work on holidays, I've not been a huge fan of them. But now his company changed their policy and no one works holidays. Finally! A terrific policy change which only took a couple decades to make. Alas.

So here I was sitting around the house a couple weeks ago, feeling a little sad about Thanksgiving because, since Naomi and Carl broke up this year, he wouldn't be attending our family dinner. And what will Thanksgiving be without good ol' Carl?

But then, it's almost as if a tiny voice whispered, "Why not pray that he'll still come over?". I thought, "Hey! That's a great idea." And so that's what I did-- I prayed that Naomi would want to bring Carl along. I also vowed not to give her hints, either, since I didn't feel it was right to ask my daughter to bring her ex-boyfriend. Some things just aren't my business, after all.

Well, guess what? Days later while Tom and I sat in the living room watching tv, he received a text message from Naomi. She asked if it would be all right to bring Carl along for Thanksgiving.

Wow. Don't you just love it when you back-off of something and then God comes through and does perfectly what you probably would have messed up? I certainly do.

I'm already secretly praying Carl will be here for Christmas. :)


"You have not because you ask not..."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ever since moving to this old farmhouse I've noticed a disturbing trend, namely, I'll experience 3 or 4 smooth, happy days and then 3 or 4 weeks of rough, overwhelming days. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. heh.

And after 17 months, that pattern is bugging me. Royally.

What is it this time? Well, remember that MRI Tom had last week at that cushy spa-like place? The results came in the mail and gah... He has another torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder like the one he had in his left shoulder for which he had to have surgery. There were mentions of other things wrong with his right shoulder, but I was still reeling from the torn rotator cuff news and blocked-out the rest.

And my left foot hurts. But only when I bend it, which means I walk funny now. And slow. It began when I stood on my tip toes on a ladder hanging all that wallpaper last month, right before I finally gave in to the conviction to start walking daily. So I had to stop taking walks just after I began.

And then Lennon The Cat found a mouse in my bedroom last night, chased it around, caught it, then let it go so he could play with it some more. But it got away (and I kept waking-up, expecting the mouse to run across my bed. And of course, now Tom is, like, all, "Must . Kill. Mouse.").

Of course, you know what the temptation is, don't you? The temptation is to concentrate on what is going wrong, become a melancholy old lady and tell oneself, "Well, we had a lot of good, fun years--now it's time for the bad ones."

But I don't want to do that.

Instead, I want to give thanks in all things and I found a way to do that last night after I gingerly stepped back downstairs with my quilt, leaving Lennon to hopefully catch that darn mouse. Tom was channel surfing and came upon a documentary on PBS which showed a couple, probably in their 60's, who don't have running water, but must tote it from somewhere (didn't catch where). The husband was shown with various bottles of medications, the wife was worried about him and her face, you could tell, displayed all that worry, having aged her. Their children were grown and gone, having traveled to other states to find jobs.

And you know? While I watched just those five minutes of that program, something surprised me. I could so understand how that woman felt! In an odd way, I even felt I was her. She and I have been to some of the same places in our emotions and we have worried about the same things and both our faces show all that.

Wow. Of course, I've empathized with other wives and mothers before, but I think I saw those five minutes last night just so I'd be reminded that the trials we face come along so we'll know how to help others through those very same trials. So we'll know the right, comforting words and not just, like a parrot, quip a few 'overcoming' Bible verses, then walk on by, believing we've helped.

And if that lesson can stay with me, then it was worth it having that annoying little mouse move me downstairs at the moment that woman appeared on my tv screen.


And then there was this highly annoying article this morning which made my blood boil.... ack. But I know, I know... Just be grateful I still have the freedom to hang my laundry outside........ Trust me, I am.


"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things..." Philippians 4:8

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm at an in-between time. Again.

You know, one of those times when you think God wants you to do something different, yet you have no clue what that something different is. All you know is that you feel restless and rather Grace-less, as though what you've always done just isn't as fulfilling as it once was, thus nudging you to consider stepping out and doing something new, even if it feels like walking on water.

Every few years I go through this and always it eventually works out, but in the middle of it, well, yick. Talk about uncomfortable!

But things will straighten themselves out, or rather, God will get out his big iron and smooth them out and then lead me to that new thing He wants for me. Perhaps it will be a new task, a new project, a new friend, a new way of seeing Life or just a new attitude toward my ordinary days.

He is so great at making all things new.

But in the meantime I'll just keep doing what He gave me to do the last time and I'll try to remain patient, not worry or doubt His good thoughts about me, but instead, just trust. Simply trust that He knows what He's doing even when I've absolutely no idea.


Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope for your future."

Friday, November 13, 2009

So I was dreading Thursday even though I've told you lots of times not to dread things, because basically, dread is a form of fear and fear brings torment and--, well, you know.

Tom was scheduled for an MRI for his shoulder and needed to have it done somewhere we'd never been before. We'd have to take the thruway to get there and you all know I hate the NYS thruway--and I'd have to sit and wait (and wait) and I might have to drive us both back home because of the meds he would take before the MRI, etc.

But anyway, we made it. 

And the new place? Wow, it was like a spa. Well, parts of it. The main waiting room was painted an elegant blue and even had a crystal chandelier and comfy chairs (Tom smirked, "I wonder who pays for all this?"). But the wild thing was that they told us we could both wait in their special waiting rooms, so we followed the woman along a beautifully-painted hall to our own private room(!)

Though closet-sized, it was a pretty blue and was lit with a tiny crystal chandelier and held two stuffed, so-comfortable-you-absolutely-melt peach floral chairs with a matching ottoman in between and lovely, soft music playing. We were free to close the doors so we did and we sank back in our chairs and talked and then read and part of the time I just closed my eyes and practically slid onto the floor because I became relaxed to my very bones.

Then after Tom was whisked away to his MRI, I walked back to the main waiting room (locking our special room with the key provided and guided by a sweet nurse who didn't want me to get lost) and poured some free hot chocolate. I carried it back to that bit of shangri-la with the amazing music and chairs and melted some more, dreaming, reading, sipping. The lighting must've been perfect because I didn't feel claustrophobic in this window-less room. Instead, I asked myself, "How can I make our guest room feel more like this incredible closet thing so I can melt at home, too?"

Wow. What a reminder to stop dreading things! 

The time came to leave, but I longed to stay, for inside that room I felt a million miles away from traffic, crowds and cranky people online (see my last post. Thankfully I do not consider Western New Yorkers to be cranky). What a blessing and what patience God has with me as He continues to teach me to expect only the best--and to notice all the amazing details when I get there.


And we even had fun afterward. 

We stopped at Cheeburger, Cheeburger, a place I'd never even heard of, but Tom already had visited twice (hmm... where else does he go without me?). ツ 

A totally 1950's place--wow! Fifties music and also, chairs and tables with chrome and formica and posters of 50's cars and Route 66 signs, as well. One of those places which restores your hope in humanity. 

Check it out if you live near one and appreciate the old days.



Monday, November 09, 2009

Does anyone remember that song, In My Own Little Corner, In My Own Little Chair from the old Rodgers and Hammerstein's, Cinderella? Well, yesterday when I placed a little wrought-iron chair and wicker table on the sidewalk behind our garage (click photo to enlarge) that's the song I was singing--happily--for finally I've found a secret place on our four acres. Mostly, it's secret, anyway. Unless our neighbor is mowing the very back of his yard, no one can see me back there on that tiny bit of sidewalk. I have so craved a place like that.

Everyone needs their own secret place, I think. The only thing? I have to turn my chair to the left because to the right, there's this awful sight:

Sigh. That's Tom's area there behind the barn, all those tractors, tarps and rusty things belong to him (it's a whole other post the way God has used that sort of thing to make me a more patient person). But as I said, I can turn my chair to the left and behold our back meadow and woods, instead... rather like how we can all choose to view the good side of other people and leave their broken down, rusty parts alone.

Anyway, after two days of amazing temperatures and sunshine, I can't even explain how much better I feel. How good to feel good and hopeful and strong again! And what a relief to no longer ask myself (and God), "Where the heck did good ol' happy Debra go?" Thankfully, she just needed extra doses of sunlight to bring her back.

And all day I've been celebrating her return. In fact, after Bob the Milkman came with way more orange juice than I needed (what I was thinking to have ordered so much?) I took two quarts to our neighbor, the young mom of a sweet baby girl and we talked for at least a half hour outside in this amazing autumnal day. I gave her my price list from the dairy and raved about Bob the Milkman and all the stuff his old-fashioned truck carries throughout our neighborhood each Monday. I kept gazing at her year-old daughter, recalling my own faraway days as a young mother--funny how it all returns through the face of other women's babies, isn't it? All those happy memories, with the harder ones pushed so far back.

I hope you've had an amazing Monday, too.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Oh Yeah, Sunlight!

Man, I forgot that I so need extra sunlight. 

Way back in 1986 we lived in the mountains with endless winters inside a dark house, one facing north and with not enough windows. And by the middle of one winter? I became a sorry, weepy mess. But then I read about the seasonal disorder thing and began taking walks again, even on cloudy days, and sat in front of windows and underneath lights (and all that good stuff) and got better.

Well, this past week I reread my diary from 2007 and was amazed at all the entries describing walks around the block and to stores, the library and Burger King down the way. A whole different life than my current one! Seems I was always going somewhere, nearly always happy, seems I was never as overwhelmed, moody and snippy as I've been here on this farm lately.

Now, at first I surmised that I missed our old town where we lived nearly 15 years. They had lots of stores there and activities and they even had sidewalks. (The only sidewalks here in this country place are nearer downtown.)

So this weekend Tom and I drove back to that town because I thought perhaps that would cheer me. Yet at first, only the same ol' gratitude that we'd moved away returned: all those too-close houses and traffic and hurry-hurry! 

But then we bought lunch and drove to my favorite spot at the park where we sat in the sun, eating lunch, while Tom read from Mama Makes Up Her Mind. I sat there, staring at a young man practicing hoop shots while the sunlight poured down upon me through the window.

And that's when I remembered: I so need sunlight! Duh. 

It wasn't that I missed our old town, but rather, my body is missing the sunlight from all those walks and our 4-season, many-windowed sunroom. And it misses all the sun I got this past spring and early summer while playing in my garden and digging in my flower beds.

Good grief.

I'd been relying on my nightly dose of Vitamin D3 from a pill, but sunlight (even faint sunlight through clouds) will always trump pills and I'd not been spending hours in front of windows and surrounding myself with light, not lately, and my resulting moodiness had parked me on the couch in our darkish living room, only worsening things.

Well, it's a safe bet I'll not be forgetting this lesson again anytime soon.

And now? If you visit me you'll see my face pressed up against windows or if you drive around my town you'll more often glimpse me out walking beside the road. Wave when you drive by, ok?


P.S. Yes, I know about the special lamps out there for folks like me. I've just always been too cheap to buy one and probably too paranoid about the safety of them. But we'll see how things go the next few weeks.


Friday, November 06, 2009

So there I was healing after the Oreo thing and then an even larger tragedy happened, one which involved the death of a co-worker of Naomi's and three other teens. 

Our whole community is still reeling from that, and so was I, hurting for the families of all involved, especially for the parents of Naomi's co-worker--they lost their only child and may be sued by the other families for wrongful death, etc.. It's all an awful, terrible, tragic mess.

And then the Fort Hood tragedy happened yesterday so I'm reeling again, especially since two of my nephews are in the military.

One asks, among other questions, will it never end? And well, no, not according to the Bible. Ok, technically yes, after the whole Armageddon thing, but no, not before that. So it behooves me to stay closer to God than ever and heal after each catastrophe, because always there will come more, and too, so that I can help others to heal as well in these days of well, insanity.

There are no set timetables for such healing--we are, each of us, made of different temperaments and personalities and experiences, creating vastly unique combinations of each so that no one can say, "It should only take you (fill in the blank) days to get over that." No, we're way too different in that regard.

But here's the important thing--we need to heal. We need to allow God to comfort, restore and sew up our heart each time it's damaged otherwise we become people walking around with tender, gaping wounds always close to bursting open again, and preferring detachment over love, always seeing the dark side (and complaining bitterly about it) and never experiencing any real freedom or joy. And unable to help others complete their healing and find freedom for themselves.

Just as we are all unique, healing comes in different ways. For me, I've spent much of this cloudy week upstairs in our white, quiet guest room alone, (well, with Lennon and McCartney The Cats), reading, thinking, praying and watching favorite old comfort shows. 

It's felt like down time, even wasted time and has not been exciting or fun-- waiting room times seldom are--but the hours have been necessary. Healing hours always are.


"You have turned my mourning into dancing for me... you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness." ... Psalm 30:11


I so appreciated your condolences regarding Oreo. Thanks so much.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Where She Realizes Farm Animals Are Not Her Thing

Well, I'll tell ya... I'm having a hard time dealing with the death of Oreo The Cat. And he wasn't even my cat! He belonged to my daughter and her boyfriend, though he did live in my home five years ago. I've met many cats in my day, but none like Oreo. He was a cat who knew what he wanted and he was quick to figure out how to make you get it for him. Just like a child.

And well, ever since moving to this small farm last year I've had a feeling that, emotionally, I will never be able to handle raising farm animals. They, like all other animals, eventually die which means down the road I can count on being devastated for days and weeks again. And again. And again. (I know, I know... But the Circle of Life thing and I have always fought, never accepting each other, not in all these 50 years of mine.)

I mean, four years after the fact, I am still recovering from the death of the 8 pet mice I raised in our basement for a couple years. Yes, we're talking mice. Mice! So see? I'm hopeless.

This is frustrating, trust me. I hate admitting that I now, officially, never plan to raise even chickens on this farm because I'd just get too attached to them and hurt like the dickens if they died or were dragged away by a fox. And just knowing the inevitable would overshadow the whole fowl adventure. (Don't even speak to me about lambs or goats!)

No, what I'm saying is that this Oreo thing has helped me face what I've not wanted to see, to admit, since June of '08. Namely, I'm not cut-out for raising farm animals. God left out that necessary grace from my personality when He created me and it doesn't look like He's going to install that option, either. Basically, I am what I am--and although I've changed in about 200 ways these last 15 years, still, some things just are what they are. I am who I am and who I am is an overly-sensitized-to-animals-dying woman. Period.

And like I said, that's frustrating. I feel like such a farm wimp.

And yet? It's a good thing to realize, too. It's always good to know oneself--that way, oneself doesn't find herself smack dab in the middle of that which she hates or that which rips her apart because she was given no grace to be there in the first place. When God sends us somewhere, He always packs the grace we'll need to see the job through. And I only wish to go to those places He's mapped-out for me to be.


We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses--and a unique combination of both.