31 May 2008

Painting project complete

Some of you may recall that we've been working on a bit of re-decorating around here. After finishing the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and dining room, the biggest project was our two-story entryway. This involved taking down floral wallpaper (painstakingly hung by my aunt and spouse many years ago) and repainting. (View the "before" pictures here.) Since he had worked so hard on the wallpaper, Spouse didn't have the heart to remove it, so we hired it done.

It was a fairly involved project, as the wallpaper extended up two walls and into the upstairs hallway. In addition to repainting all of these walls, we had the two-story stairwell and upstairs hallway painted in the same color and took the opportunity to repaint Daughter's room.

The painting is now complete, and I am very happy that the floral wallpaper is gone. It's great to have people walk into our house and not stare at it! We replaced it with a tan paint which coordinates with the colors in the adjacent rooms. (You can see the tan paint on the far wall in the dining room picture below.)

Our next task will be to replace the entryway chandelier with a larger bronze one which will coordinate (color wise) with the "Olympic Torch" light in the dining room. In addition, we'll add a hall mirror and small table to the entryway to dress it up a bit and replace all of the gold switch plates with bronze. Eventually the front door will have to be replaced, as it has a variety of "issues".

After all the emotional upheaval of the last couple of weeks, it just feels good to finish up a few tasks around here.

30 May 2008

Feline Friday: Morning Routine

In a cat's eye, all things* belong to cats.

* including Cheerios

English proverb

26 May 2008

And somehow life goes on

Thank you again to everyone for the heartfelt notes and words of encouragement over the past few days. My mom was a vibrant, energetic person who enjoyed life to the fullest and, as excruciatingly hard as it is right now, she would want me to pick myself up and keep going. So that's what I'm trying to do, although nothing feels the same anymore.

One thing I'm working on is finishing up some of our redecorating projects. Mom was really excited about the changes we've been making and was anxious to see everything completed. When Mom and I had our garage sale a couple of weeks ago, she brought along this green ceramic lamp from the 60's that belonged to my great aunt. As soon as I saw it, I snagged it for our family room. The lampshade, however, was a big white cylinder and needed to be replaced.

On Saturday, Spouse and I went to the lamp place that Mom had suggested and "tried on" several lampshades. When the associate suggested this rectangular one, I was thrilled. Suddenly, the lamp looked fresh and new. We topped it with a green ceramic finial which ties it all together.

I love my new, old lamp and the special connection it has to my family. I think Mom would like it, too.

23 May 2008

Feline Friday: With thanks

Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow.

Samuel Paterson

Thank you to all who have stopped by with warm thoughts, prayers, and hugs during this enormously difficult week. While I have felt great sorrow, I have also gained strength from friends near and far. Thank you.

21 May 2008

Gardens in Mid-May

Special note: I prepared this post the night before my mom passed away unexpectedly. Earlier in the week, Mom and I had toured my little flower beds and looked at all of my plants. As it turns out, that was the last time we saw her before she passed away.

That evening, I divided an aster and gave part of it to her. Sadly, she never had the opportunity to plant it, so over the weekend, my dad, aunt, and I planted it in the spot she had planned for it.

I know in my heart that I'll be reminded of her when I see my gardens in mid-May.


After 24 bags of mulch and lots of garden maintenance -- moving, dividing, and adding perennials and annuals -- I have finally finished working on several of the flower beds around the house. Two major areas remain, but those call for professional consultation since trees and large bushes are involved!

Midway through last summer, I took stock of my perennial beds and tried to figure out what was wrong with them. Some plants were crowded, some weren't doing well, and there were large bare areas between plants that hadn't grown to their expected size. I went back through last year's photos and over the past week, I've tried to correct most of these problems. Only time will tell if this effort will pay off with better looking gardens. I will say that a fresh coat of mulch covers a multitude of sins. If only I could mulch over other things in my life...

Photos, beginning at top left:

* Distance view of side perennial garden
* New coral bell - Peach Melba, I think.
* Jacob's Ladder - a shade plant I added last year which is doing well; added a second one this week.
* Mixed planter
* Pasque Flower - love this! I got it in a box of perennials a few years back as a thank you gift for my public television membership. It's the first plant to bloom in the spring. I dug out a chunk of it and added a second plant this year.
* This is a Geum, and it was in that same box of perennials. I moved it this year to a spot where I can see it from the window and it's doing great.
* Tiger lilies -- from my grandma's house.
* Wild columbine (honeysuckle) -- one of my favorite woodland flowers; lots of volunteer plants are coming up this year!
* Mixed planter
* Coral bells -- second of three kinds I have. Drawing a blank on the name of this one...
* Beardstongue -- this is a beautiful plant that will have tall white flowers later this spring. I divided and moved it last year and it's doing great.
* Angelonia in a hanging basket.
* Vinca groundcover -- we've had mixed results with this. It prefers shade and is very pretty when in bloom.
* Lupines! (remember the Monty Python episode?) -- Lupines don't like to be moved, but I had to move this one last year and it's doing well. I added a second lupine this year. This one has peach blooms and the new one is white.
* Zinnias -- I put in a few plants and lots of seeds, which should be sprouting soon.
* Corner view of one perennial garden

17 May 2008

A really, really bad day

Yesterday, we lost my mom to a sudden and massive heart attack.

She was my guide, my mentor, my friend. We didn't always agree, but she was always in my corner and loved us all unconditionally. I will never come close to being the kind of mom she was to me.

Mom and our daughter shared an unbelievable bond. They were cut from the same cloth, joined at the hip. Oh, the adventures they shared -- cooking, sewing, entering contests at the state fair.

Mom and her sister were just about as opposite as two sisters could be, yet their bond was unbreakable.

My mom and dad were the best of buddies. After 54 years of marriage, they still loved each other's company.

Yesterday morning, everything was great. Today, the whole world looks different. And I'm trying to find my way without my mom.

16 May 2008

Feline Friday: Spring grooming yields new cat!

Good grief! They say cats shed most in the spring, and I think this photo is proof positive of that.

From the looks of this kitten-shaped pile of fur, you'd think that we never brush our cats. That is far from the truth: We groom them regularly. Up until last week, though, they were wearing their heavy winter coats and were not shedding much. Now...look out! All of this fur came from Lily in one grooming session. It was
enough to make a new kitty!

This pile of fur can only mean one thing: Winter is over and summer is on the way!

15 May 2008

Dear flowered wallpaper:

Our time together has ended.

Yes, it's true that I once loved you. Amongst a host of other options, I picked you. In fact, the decorator suggested I give you a try, and I'm glad that I did. Your mauve and dusty blue flowers were the perfect match with our decor.

I remember the weekend when you came into our lives. You brightened up our ordinary white entryway. You were even visible from the street. Everyone noticed you, and I was happy.

Please understand...This is not about you. It's me. I'm the one who has changed. You are still as beautiful as ever. You see, a few years back, I became restless and ready for something new. I became tired of the mauve flowers and longed for an olive green and gold color scheme. You attracted attention, but not for the right reasons, and (I'm sorry to admit) I became embarrassed by you.

Last summer, when we took down our kitchen wallpaper and painted the walls olive green, you could probably see that this was the beginning of the end. When we repainted our mauve dining room green back in December, I'm sure you could tell that your days were numbered. I'm sorry you've had to live in limbo for so long.

Please know that I want only the best for you.
Over the course of the next couple of days, the painters will carefully score you and squirt you with Dif. You will be gently peeled from the walls. After 12 years, your service will finally be over.

Since you'll find out anyway, I should tell you that you will be replaced with tan paint. His name is Sherwin. As in Williams. Maybe you know him. We're a good match.

Please know that I will always remember our time together. You will live on in the photos of my scrapbooks. And in the basement storage closet, I will keep a sample of you. If I ever tire of Sherwin, I will pull it out and remember our colorful days together.

14 May 2008

Random Musings on a Wednesday

Bad blogger. Bad blog hopper. Yep, that's me. Thank you to everyone who has dropped by over the past several days. I finally have my various projects wrapped up sufficiently that I can get back into the proverbial saddle again.

Perhaps no one but me has noticed, but it's actually been a couple of weeks since I've mused randomly, at least in public. So, in no particular order, here are random thoughts I've collected since the last batch:

* Has anyone noticed the frequency with which professional figure skaters are falling on the ice? It's gotten to the point where you can't watch figure skating without just about everyone falling down. I'm sorry, but I just don't want to see this. It really bothers me, to the point that I can hardly even watch figure skating.

* Along the same lines, when people play the NPR
puzzle with Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, I get really nervous. In fact, if they struggle with the puzzle, I will actually turn off the radio. If they're really good, I'll listen. Does this make me a terrible person?

* Ah...There's nothing like waking up and stepping in something produced by either the front or back end of a cat.

* Is it really bad to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

* Total profit from my garage sale: $10.10. No, that's not a typo.

* I dropped off a bunch of stuff from my failed garage sale at Goodwill last week -- kitchen items, clothing, and whatnot. As he was writing out my receipt, the guy who helped me asked if I was going to have two margaritas that evening. Huh? First of all, I don't like margaritas, and secondly, I only made $10.10 at my sale. Now, had I been dropping off the coconut bikini, then perhaps the question would have been more logical.

* Speaking of garage sales, my friend Connie recently confessed that she owns 32 turtlenecks. Yes, you read that right: 32 turtlenecks. I'm one who would happily wear the same thing every day, so I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of 32 of anything. And there's more: Connie's Turtleneck Inventory includes something like eight red ones and 11 white ones. I've thought about this a lot, and I'm still having a hard time grasping why anyone might need that many red turtlenecks. Connie (bless her heart) now lives in the South and is finding that she just doesn't need them so much these days, so she recently tried to sell just a few (11, I think) of her turtlenecks at a garage sale. Sadly, there just didn't seem to be much of a market. :-)

* Arnold, of Grow a Boyfriend fame (view recent posts, if you missed reading about Arnold), is now in the dry-down stage and is shrinking back to his original size of 2 inches. Assuming Lily doesn't eat him first, he will soon go home with a friend of Daughter so she, too, can experience the fun of slimy Arnold.

* Oh, the prospect of Lily eating Arnold is rather alarming. Remember, he grows when wet. Inside Lily's tummy, he could really expand. Probably best to not let that happen.

* Still need to restore my blog widgets. I figured out how to get into the HTML code and remove the nasty orange Pyzam banner. Some nice Blogger geek gave me the color codes so that I can go deeper into the HTML and tweak a few of my blog colors. I know just enough to be very dangerous here. Long story short: Look for changes (hopefully improvements) in the coming days.

* I like beginnings but not endings. Especially the last one of anything. Except for the "reveal" on various HGTV shows. I'll make an exception for that.

* On that same subject, do you ever wonder if anyone on those shows absolutely HATES the room or house makeover? You know that it HAS to happen. What happens to those episodes? I want to see them!

* Still up to my knees in dirt and mulch. I have spread 18 bags and still have many more to go. Lots of digging, dividing, and moving stuff around. It's all a great experiment.

* I have a tendency to state the obvious, or to ask questions with obvious answers. (My family's favorite from my vast collection over the years is this: How much does a 20-cent stamp cost? There was a good and valid reason I asked that question! Back in those days, stamp machines were relatively new and I wondered if there was a surcharge when purchasing a stamp from a machine. See???)

ANYWAY...over the weekend we went to Pizza Ranch for the buffet. I had never been there, and I wondered what was on the buffet, so I asked if it included pizza. (Picture family members falling down laughing.) Now, of course I had a good and valid reason for asking this question: I've been to buffets at pizza places that included ONLY pizza, and I'd heard that this one had lots of other things, so I just wanted some clarification. See??? Just so ya know, Pizza Ranch has not only pizza, but also ranch-flavored bread sticks. Hence the name, Pizza Ranch, I guess.

* I am still going to the fitness club and I must confess that I feel more energetic and limber since I started this form of torture. I've learned that I cannot operate the Elliptical thing, but I'm pretty good on the recumbent bike now, especially if I can watch reruns of Rock of Love or Boy Meets Grill.

* Recently at the fitness club I was pedaling away to The Food Network when a young man hopped up onto the treadmill next to me. He was wearing loose-fitting shorts and proceeded to reach in them and somehow pull off another pair of shorts. (It was not unlike the episode of Mr. Bean in which he attempts to put on swimming trunks over dress pants.) After that, this young man continued to reach into his shorts for unknown reasons, presumably for some type of adjustment. Of course, I was pedaling away and not supposed to be noticing this, but with the large mirrors on the wall, it was a bit hard to ignore. Needless to say, I was relieved when he finally started to run.

* I have some version of one particular recurring dream every few months. I've had it a couple of times recently. It's always the same problem: I'm a college student and I suddenly realize that I have somehow forgotten to attend several of my classes. I haven't even purchased the textbooks. I show up in class and sure enough, a test is scheduled for that day and I'm completely unprepared. I always wake up in a complete panic. In this latest version, the instructor was Carter Oosterhouse of the HGTV show, Carter Can. Methinks this is a sign of too much HGTV.

And last, but certainly not least, I'll leave you with this:

* In searching for something related to Lolcats, I recently came across the Lolcat Bible Translation Project. I realize that some may find this sacrilegious, but if you enjoy Lolcat speak, take a look at Genesis according to Ceiling Cat. Aside from the obvious question of who the heck has time for this kind of project, it does make for a humorous read.

12 May 2008

Missing In Action on Monday

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day! I'm still under the gun in finishing up a few projects, so I'm just doing a quick post today. I haven't had time to blog hop lately so will make up for that later this week!

I spent some time on Saturday redoing some of our perennial beds. I picked up 12 bags of cedar mulch (wow, my SUV smelled like a cedar closet!) and I've used almost all of it. I'm going to need another 12 to finish the rest. UGH! I added a few new perennials, moved/divided some others, put in a few bedding plants, planted some zinnia seeds, and put plants in pots for our patio. What I've done so far looks OK, but I saved the worst areas for last. :-)

Hope to be more actively back among my blogging friends very soon. Have a great day!

08 May 2008


Or maybe it's blind optimism.

Whatever it is, I always look forward to spring planting.

06 May 2008

Grow a Boyfriend: Is it Day 10?

It's a busy time of year and I have several deadlines converging at once, so I don't have much time to blog right now. If I can get on top of my very long list, I will be back on a regular blogging schedule soon.

Meanwhile, I believe it is now Day 10 in the Grow-a-Boyfriend experiment. Time flies when you've got a slimy boyfriend in a bowl of water on your counter.
This picture was actually taken a couple of days ago, but Arnold hasn't changed much since then. He's hovering around the 4" mark. Note that his head is straightening out a bit. Looking pretty good, Arnold.

One of Daughter's friends saw Arnold in water over the weekend and had one comment: "WHY?"

To which I responded: "Why not?"

03 May 2008

Eukanuba, widgets, Arnold, garage sale, and who the heck is that cat?

First of all, I hope I haven't alarmed anyone with the new blog template. No, I do not know who that cat is, but I love the expression on his/her face. :-) Wish I could replace that cat picture with one of my own, but such are the limits of a canned template.

Obviously my widgets are lost again (or still). I have no time today to restore the widgets, so we'll have to function without them for the time being. I think everyone will be OK. :-)

For all who expressed concern about the hole in the Eukanuba bag (LOL), we do have a plastic container in which those tasty morsels are stored. I just left the paper bag in the cupboard to see exactly how long it would take Lily to gnaw through it. The old bags were made of plastic, which required more work on her part. The paper bag is way too easy!

In all the garage sale excitement yesterday, I forgot to take a picture of Arnold. He is still submerged in water and I'll get to him later. Rest assured that Arnold looks about the same as yesterday, still growing incrementally.

The garage sale was a complete BUST (no reference to the coconut bikini). A cold rain fell most of the day, and by mid-morning we had gale-force winds (yes, I'm exaggerating a tad...). I'll have a full report with photos at some later point.

02 May 2008

Feline Friday: Good News / Bad News

The good news is that Eukanuba Indoor Cat Formula now comes in a 20-pound bag.

The bad news is that it's made of paper.

01 May 2008

Day 4: Arnold Redeems Himself; Free Shipping

It's Day 4 of Grow a Boyfriend, and Arnold has finally started to show some progress. He measures a tad bit over 3 inches in length now, and he is suddenly much larger overall. I'm starting to feel like there is hope for Arnold.

I was delayed today in posting about Arnold because my mom and I have been setting up for our annual (completely unprofitable but always enjoyable) garage sale. Last year, I tried unsuccessfully to sell my 20-year old wool suits. This year, however, I'm sure our sale will be great because Mom brought along a few very appealing items, notably this "one size fits most" coconut bikini (sorry, we only have the top):

You may be wondering why my mom has a coconut bikini. I have to say that the question crossed my mind, too. The answer no less disturbing: The neighbor man gave it to her. We're asking 75 cents for this choice item, and if anyone reading this post is interested, I'll even throw in free shipping. I won't even ask what you plan to do with it.

Mom also brought along this baked potato-shaped dish to sell. She apparently acquired it with a box of stuff at an estate sale, and she doesn't seem to have a need for it. We think it would look lovely on the dinner table filled with mashed potatoes. I won't even charge you for the potato. Free shipping on this one, too.

And if you like sour cream on your potatoes, you won't want to miss this small potato-shaped dish with matching spoon. Admit it: This is completely adorable, isn't it? And completely free, folks.

Look for another garage sale report tomorrow. Remember, free shipping.
Except for Arnold, of course.