621: House, interrupted

Hubs and I are fixing up a foreclosure house we bought. I SAY “we,” but most of it is me. He helps when asked for the heavy stuff, or the stuff I cannot do by myself, but mostly, it’s me. He says that’s because I am in charge of the house – which, technically, is mostly true. Still – he lives here, too, and abdicating all responsibility for the stuff that needs doing is pretty annoying sometimes. Still, when I am working, I do admit to getting in my solo groove – I suppose because there isn’t any other alternative? And, getting it done myself does mean it is done to my standards, which might be the whole crux of the matter.

Over the months since we bought this house, we have had the roof replaced, the kitchen gutted and redone (new cabinets, kitchen appliances, flooring and ceiling), more flooring, a hot water heater, washer/dryer, more flooring, painted walls and ceilings and trim, bathroom caulking, painting, new doors, new locksets and deadbolts, more flooring. More trim. More painting.


Lighting fixtures, more walls, ceilings and trim painting. Curtains, drapes, sheers, rods, brackets. More painting. Salvaged kitchen cabinets that now are storage for a craft room that someone else might use as a bedroom or a nursery. Caulking, running trim, painting trim. Sweeping, hauling debris. Calling for repair, and more estimates. Running to the store for more materials. Again.

There’s always something else to be done: paint, hemming the window treatment curtains, straightening up, cleaning up, unpacking, sorting, putting away, not to mention the usual stuff, like a load of laundry, or repairing garments that have popped a seam, lost a button, or pulled loose a strap or snap.

If I sit down, I pretty rapidly become a cat’s bed, since one of the two resident felines claims my lap. Nothing gets done unless I do it.

If I sit down, nothing else gets done. It waits on me.

It is a darn good thing that this isn’t a contest with any sort of deadline.


603: Work, and more work

I go to work every day, even when I am ill, because it is harder to do all the preparation work beforehand than it’s worth it to be out sick, especially when I am actually sick. I have stopped going to the doctor and dentist on school holidays, though. Usually, if school is out, the doctors and dentists are also closed, anyway, and occasionally I NEED a day off when I actually am not sick – that is worth doing the prep work for.

Lately, I have been finishing my straight eight, and donning working clothes to put in another shift remodeling our newest purchase: a new-to-us, but not new house. We have gutted the kitchen in preparation for the installation of new cabinets, counter tops, trim, and appliances, and have installed the new flooring and painted. The new ceiling and lighting fixtures, and the floor molding, go in after the cabinets are installed.


Lately, we have been on our knees…not praying exactly, unless you count praying that this piece of flooring will install properly in line with the others already laid. It is a good time for reflection on the vicissitudes of life, when you are on your knees, praying or not. I heard once that being on your knees is the most powerful position you can assume – and I assume they were thinking of prayer. I do tend towards a less than pristine mindset, and being on your knees is good for lots of various things, including prayer. Nonetheless.

I think the next few days I will work on painting. I can do that standing up. I’ve been on my knees dealing with those stubborn flooring planks a little too much lately.

556: Hope


Every day, I hope.

I hope it will get better, that it won’t hurt so much.

I hope that I will be able to slow down and not be at everyone else’s beck and call.

I hope that I can say no. And mean it.

I hope that I can sleep until I want to get out of bed, instead of rolling out every morning before dawn because I have obligations to meet.

I hope that I make it through the next six weeks of no-money until I get paid again (a yearly problem, and January has thirty-one long, cold, and dark days).

I hope that Christmas will again just pass, without requiring from me efforts to be social that I just do not have the resources for.

I hope and I am chagrined that I still hope.

I hope that the house I currently am spending all my free time remodeling (paint smears in my hair and decorating both my forearms, random punctures, scratches, and broken nails) soon will become a respite and sanctuary – a place of peace and repose.

I hope that it will get better – that it won’t hurt quite so much.

I hope, even when it appears fruitless to hope.Hope-2-570x379

I hope.



552: Home, sweet……aaawwwwww, HECK, no.


I bought a property upon which to live with my new husband. It is two half acre plots of land on one adjoining tract, so I have .01 more than one full acre, and it came with a trashed double-wide modular (trailer) home on it, complete with well and installed septic/drainfield. We can do the absolutely necessary repairs and upgrades, and live in it for hopefully less than three years while we pay off the tiny little mortgage, and build the new house we would like to have on the acre – and then we can sell the newly upgraded modular home to someone else to move it off the property – give it to my dad for an escape cabin, OR let the local fire department practice on it, and burn it to the ground…whatever it takes.

I totally understand that a modular home is all that many people will be able to afford in their lifetimes. I am not a housing snob. OK, maybe I am. What I have learned in the process of getting my hands dirty in the gutting of this place (putting a new roof on it and redoing the rotten flooring, ripping out grossly nasty cabinets and redoing bathrooms, painting and caulking, and building new cabinets and ……well, you get the idea……) is that modular housing construction in the United States of America is pretty darn shoddy.

What I have discovered is that it will cost far more than I wanted to spend to put this trashy, temporary, poorly built house to rights to be able to live in it for two-three years, even if I can eventually use the things I am purchasing in the new house, which, thankfully, I can do.

In the meantime, I am reading the books I asked for on interlibrary loan on straw bale construction, which is the house I’d like to build: super insulated, virtually totally fire-retardant, pest-proof, sound insulated, sized and priced for us and exactly what we would like to have for the rest of our lives. Finally.

I am drooling over house plans: www.balewatch.com

and reading up on construction details in a free e-course: http://strawbale.com/store/free-16-day-e-course/

and I really like what I am learning about building with straw bales in order to create my forever home. More resources:



545: Too busy to write is too freaking busy


I process my life by writing. When things happen, I process my thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions through the reflective and revealing lens of the written word. This is the method that works well for me. Except lately.

Lately, having moved country (Atyrau, Kazakhstan to Fitzgerald, Georgia, USA), started a new job in a sort-of new school (I taught there before I decided to leave the USA), moving into a new place, BUYING a new residence, becoming a new grandmother and obtaining a delightful new husband……I do not have time lately to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

This is a serious problem. I get the sneaking suspicion that without the catharsis of processing everything via my usual written lens that I am missing the deeper significance of things – leaving important details out, losing the flavor, the spice, the nuance – the meaning of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

I just don’t have the time to fret about it before some new demand raises its head, insisting on being dealt with RIGHT NOW.

The urgent is overwhelming the important, ding dong dag nab it.


370: Drying the HERB

13671543-green-chinese-tea-textureHere at my new house in Panama, I am on the ground floor and have access to dirt. That means that I can GARDEN. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and other goodies, including herbs. The lavender and dill did not sprout. The cilantro is doing well, finally, and the thyme is coming along. But the basil…………….!!!

When you plant, you always sow the seed a little thickly, because not every seed chooses to sprout and grow. So, if you over-plant the seeds of what you want, you generally get enough for yourself, and maybe some to share. But the basil….!! EVERY basil seed sprouted and vigorously grew. I have basil coming out of my ears. I need to find an Italian restaurant to give it to. Every two weeks, when I cut the shoots, I have cases of basil to process. Case of paper size BOXES of herb.

I am too thrifty to throw it out, so I give it away by the armfuls, and I cut and dry whatever is left. I had the last cutting’s worth processed and drying in pans on the back sidewalk in the full sun. To do this, you must strip the leaves, and slice them. Cut leaves dry more uniformly so they keep in bags without molding or spoiling.  Plus, you must place a piece of hardware cloth (big spaced wire) on top so that the wind does not blow away your nicely drying herb in the process. So, there sat my shallow pans, full of minced, chopped basil leaves, happily drying in the sun….and my landlord sees them and asks me, what is this??

I explained that it was three pans of basil and one pan of mint, conveniently growing nearby. I gave him a bag of the dry basil for cooking to take home. It was not until he left that it occurred to me that he had probably thought I was drying HERB: marijuana. They do look a little alike, I guess…..not that I would know from experience, mind you……….!!!

344: Just Desserts

In the little fenced compound where my little house, my casita, is located in Panama, we have three dogs that are inside (for security? I guess?) and several of the people who live here have dogs of their own, most of whom are kept inside, or leashed, or fenced. However, there is one the owners let run loose with the three who belong to the property owner, who roam the property at will.

This is an issue because I have cats. One other neighbor also has cats, and their cat has learned not to run, but to confront the bully dogs – who have learned to leave her alone. My cats have not yet learned this essential skill. They still run.

I let them outside, which they adore, only when I am there to help watch over them.

Last night, Caruso was lying on the sidewalk in front of my house, enjoying the warmth of the concrete, while basking in the cool breeze. The neighbor’s dog was sitting alertly on his house’s front porch, intently staring at my cat who was minding his own business at my house. I was watching this scenario unfold from my hammock on the front porch.

This dog KNEW he was not supposed to chase that cat. He stood it for as long as he was able, and then, being a dog, he charged. Caruso fled for the house, but turned as he neared the porch to confront the dog, who was in full pursuit. I myself was climbing out of the hammock to intervene, when danger turned to slapstick comedy.

As Caruso turned to meet the dog, the dog swerved away from him, and in the dark, he ran into a scrawny little lime tree planted in the yard. As he ran into the branches of this mostly denuded-of-foliage, little stick tree, he was apparently CONVINCED that the cat had gotten hold of him. He yelped like a baby and ran off……

I laughed and laughed…………………