Grace and Home Improvement

I learned something new today.

They say you should make that your goal each day, you know?  So today I did it, and that makes me glad.   Doesn’t happen every day, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Today Leroy and my Fella were hanging some shades for me.  It was no small task, and I am thankful they were willing to take it on together.

While they worked and Mess Cat and I visited, the thought occurred to me–the thing that Mama often quoted:

“Many hands make for light work.”

Truth.

But that’s nothing new; I already knew that one.

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And I thought about another thing I know from home repairs and home projects–“Measure twice, cut once.”

That one came in handy big time with this project.  We almost made a really big mistake.

It’s a good thing to remember–like “righty tighty, lefty Lucy.”  I use that phrase a lot–especially when I’m outside turning on the water spigot.  I love little memory tricks like that.

But it was when the project hit a snag today that I learned a new and important part of home improvement projects.

Leroy and the Fella were putting their heads together over what would be the best next step to take.  The Fella mentioned our local hardware store not far from here, and Leroy’s face lit up.  “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to go in there.”  They were both smiling at this point.  It was pretty close to precious.

“You know, it’s not a real home project until you have to make at least one trip to the hardware store,” Leroy told me.

Really?  No, I didn’t know.

But I do now.

After they returned and were working on putting holes where holes needed to be and not putting holes where holes didn’t need to be, Leroy put a hole in one of his fingers.  (Well, not a hole exactly, but there was plenty of blood.)  He asked for a paper towel and a band-aid.  As I went to gather them, I thought of another quote of Mama’s: “The right tools make any job easier.”

Leroy quickly cleaned himself up, put on the band-aid, and went back to work, announcing, “A trip to the hardware store and an injury.  That’s how you know we’re almost done.”

Again, good to know.  Duly noted.

Tonight I’m thankful for windows with shades and for the two guys who made that happen.  Isn’t it awesome that we all have different gifts and talents and that we can share those to help others around us?  I give thanks for a job well done and for lessons learned in the midst of it.  All other lessons aside, Leroy taught me once again about the gift of grace.  He set out to do the job, but his game plan allowed for grace.  Grace when all the necessary tools weren’t in place, and grace for when there was a mistake.  He didn’t beat himself or anyone else up and make the whole experience even more difficult than it already was.  He had built-in grace.  We need something we don’t have?  No worries, we can go see what they have at the hardware store that can work.   A slip of the hand and there’s a cut and blood?  No problem, clean it up, slap on a band-aid, and let’s finish this job.  I love it.  Today my brother-in-law and my Fella taught me that even in home projects, in the words of my Bubba, “It’s never that serious.”  It’s all about getting it done.   Doing the best we can with what we have and keeping our wits about us.  Working with others and helping folks out.  With smiles on our faces and grace in our hearts.

Kind of sounds like a good way to go about life too, doesn’t it?

Love to all.

Parading It on the Front Porch

On my way home from my OutandAbouts today, I took the backroads.

It’s how I roll.

I’d rather take a backroad anywhere than ride on the main roads.  Especially with all this construction of the main highway near our house–I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

So I drove through the old part of our little community, stopped at the four-way, crossed, and drove past the log cabin that we all love.  They have the best decorating sense–exactly my taste: old farmhouse style.

I was on autopilot, so I almost missed what was sitting on the other side of the road.  Up next to the little road, since they were throwing it out.  As I glanced back, I could see that it was an old broken chair of sorts.

My treasure I rescued from the side of the road.  Every single piece of it.

My treasure I rescued from the side of the road. Every single piece of it.

It is not far to go from there to the stop sign near the old church and its cemetery; but I promise you that, in my imagination, I had used that chair in about five different ways and places around my abode before I could STOP at the sign.  I was about to shrug it off and keep on trucking home, when I thought about it once more before my foot pressed the gas to move forward.

Forward.  That’s exactly what I need to do.  Move.  Forward.

A lot of times I let life happen to me and a lot of those times I have no choice.  But many times I do.  And way too often I just shrug an idea or plan off, and go on with whatever is in front of me.

Sometimes that’s okay.  But sometimes I wind up regretting–that which I did not try.

And somehow I had a feeling that if I didn’t go back for the chair, I would regret it.  A small thing, I know, but I knew it was symbolic of bigger, more important things.  If there’s something there for the taking, and I want it, why do I just walk (or drive) away?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that today I didn’t.

I turned the go-mobile around and headed back down the street where the speed limit is about 15 I think.  I pulled over, turned on my hazards just in case, and opened the door to load it.  There were broken pieces laying on the ground.  I picked them all up and threw them in the vehicle.  I didn’t want to be that kind of scavenger–one who just takes the goody and leaves the other.  If I was in, I was ALL in.

This evening after the sun drifted behind the trees back of us, giving us a little bit of a reprieve from the heat, I unloaded the pieces.  It was a beautiful rocker in its heyday.  Nice wood, solid.  I can’t imagine how it came to be all broken like this.  Maybe fell off the back of the truck as they were moving?  Someone got scared late one night playing in the yard, and knocked it off the porch in their haste to get inside?  Too much wear and tear and not enough know how for fixing it?  I don’t know.  But I’m tickled to say I found a spot for all the pieces.  It was fun and only a little challenging to find a use for all of it.  I think my porch is the better for it.  Not sure the Fella feels the same, but since he didn’t express a preference, it’s staying put for a while.

A stake for my "Phoenix" tomato plant.

A stake for my “Phoenix” tomato plant.

This is my “Phoenix” tomato plant.  I don’t know what variety it is really, but it rose from an empty pot–there was nothing alive there in April and now look at her.  Better than she ever did last summer.  Amazing.  Rising from the ashes, just like a phoenix.  I was proud to give her a spindle as the high-falutin’ stake she deserves.

One arm made a lovely backdrop for our fairy garden.

One arm made a lovely backdrop for our fairy garden.

This was my belated Mother’s Day project.  A fairy garden.  The birdbaths are especially dear to me–the frog is for Mama and the cardinal for Daddy.  The arm off the old rocker makes an interesting backdrop I think.  We could even hang a fairy swing from it later on if we find one around here–which I’m sure we will.  😉

Beside our front door.

Beside our front door.

This plant has never looked so happy.  Neither has Madam Frog, as long as the cats don’t knock her off.  There’s a little fairy wishing well in the pot if you look closely.  I love this old broken rocker turned plantstand.  I don’t know if it’s too tacky to be quaint by normal standards, but around here we embrace the brokenness.  And the crazy.  And we parade them all on our front porch.  Literally.

This was a good day.  It felt good to have a vision, and instead of thinking of a million reasons why I shouldn’t do it–go and pick up a broken rocking chair that once belonged to the folks who live right there and are probably watching thinking “whoo hoo it’s gone” or “can you believe that crazy chick is actually loading that into her go-mobile?”–I just took a deep breath, leapt, and did it.  I know it’s a small, small thing.  It’s not like starting a non-profit or writing a book that can change the world.  It’s not like putting grief aside and moving along towards a new and different future.  It’s not even like doing something handy such as making a clever supper out of minimal ingredients or having all of the laundry done and folded AND put away all at once.

But it is a step.  A baby step.  And one that fed my soul on this sultry summer evening.  And for a Thursday in June, that’ll do.

May you have a vision and go for it without thinking too hard.  Just go forward.

Love to all.

 

A Colorful Old Gal, I Hope They’ll Say

So just for fun, let’s revisit all of the colors I’ve brought into my house so far.

The "garage bathroom," freshly painted and beautiful.

The “garage bathroom,” freshly painted and beautiful.

First there was the lovely blue green in the “garage bathroom.”

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Now you can’t see that wall. Books stacked all against it, waiting for their big move.

 

Next we moved on to “Autumn Moon” in the living and eating and kitchen areas.  It took a few days, but it is done and I still know it’s the right color.  Seven years of marks and dirty hands and baby prints gone.

You’d think, as sentimental as I am, that I might be a little sad over that.

Ah, but no.

I am celebrating the absence of the green marks on the beige wall where Cooter beat it with his little green wooden hammer.  I am ecstatic that the tape marks from the pictures and signs that my girls have taped up are gone.  And those pencil marks, which someone tried to erase, outta here!  Even Miss Sophie’s baby prints (gnawing marks) are gone.

Heartless Mama maybe, but things are being put in order, looking fresh and crisp, made anew.

Yes.  I think my soul was craving this.

We have moved on to the next room.  The room that never really earned a name beyond the “big room” because of its multi-purpose or lack thereof.  It’s soon to be called that lovely and glorious name of “library” or “reading room.”  Books and more books.  All in there together.

Yes.

As I was contemplating what color to put in this room, I came across a picture on Pinterest that took my breath away.  The walls were…..

pink.

Or as I’ve been calling it–PANK y’all.

And the color immediately brought back memories of my Great Great Aunt’s home in the historic district in Macon.  I was fairly certain she’d had a pink room, but it’s possible that I was only recalling the dainty chair with the pink pouf as the seat.  How I LOVED that chair.   I emailed my siblings as to whether they remembered a pink room there.  Sister wrote back.  “Yes, there was.  And there was a picture of a lovely woman in that room.  And green carpet.  If there wasn’t, don’t tell me.”

Aren’t our memories precious and dear, all that they contain? And what gets fuzzy around the edges?

So I began to look at more pictures of pink rooms.  I felt compelled to create a room to remember Aunt Maye in.  She was a petite, quiet spoken love who never had children of her own.  She fell in love with the old house near Coleman Hill shortly after saying “I do” to her husband.  He knew it, and he bought it for her.  They were very sweet together and happy.  Until age caught up with him and Alzheimer’s took the joy away from her eyes.

But the pink is about celebrating her and the treasured memories.  Having Co-Colas in the kitchen with her and then her saying, “Let’s go into the house.” (She was raised in the time when the kitchens WERE separate from the rest of the house.) Oh how I used to wonder why she said that!  The Fruit Stripe gum she kept for us, and the alphabet blocks stored behind the glass of the bookcase.  The Church’s chicken picked up special for us for our lunches with them, and the sitting quietly while she and Mama visited in the hopes that they wouldn’t change the channel, and that we might catch a bit of Aunt Maye’s “stories” on the TV.  The huge furnace grate and the basement below that seemed a bit scary at times.  The way she made us feel so special by letting us play with her lipstick.  She never complained that we mussed up a stick or used one down to the nub.  She was a lovely person, and pink is a lovely color to remember her by.

Three quarters of the way there--with this lovely color called "Sweet Baby's Breath."

Three quarters of the way there–with this lovely color called “Sweet Baby’s Breath.”

So crazy or not, the room is 3/4 of the way there.  By this time tomorrow night the pink will be all done.  And the books will be in place by a week from then, barring anything unforeseen.  The dark wood is lovely with the light, airy color.  I am surprised by my choice, (and by the family’s acquiescing) but not disappointed at all.  It suits.

It's a little softer by lamplight.  And the lamp, though you can't see it here, has sweet pink blossoms painted on it.  Pulls everything together.

It’s a little softer by lamplight. And the lamp, though you can’t see it here, has sweet pink blossoms painted on it. Pulls everything together.

The pink's a little softer by lamplight.  And after moving furniture I decided to bring out my sweet kokeshi dolls from Japan.  They make me smile.  Now that the littles are older and won't try to lick them or eat them *ahem* it's time to enjoy them once again.  I am getting into this fresh and anew thing.

The pink’s a little softer by lamplight. And after moving furniture I decided to bring out my sweet kokeshi dolls from Japan. They make me smile. Now that the littles are older and won’t try to lick them or eat them *ahem* it’s time to enjoy them once again. I am getting into this fresh and anew thing.

As can happen when these projects get started, now the foyer, the last of the common areas is looking a little, well, boring, if I may say so.  It’s beige.  And I finally bit the bullet and made the decision to change the color in there as well.

So here’s the question…..

All of these areas are separated only by archways–there’s the beige foyer next to the pink room on one side and the chocolate brown man cave/office on the other.  All are joined together so to speak. We are not touching the man/cave color.  It’s rich and lovely and does NOT need painting.  So it’s staying.

So what color, do you think?  I’ve just about decided on one, so I suppose it’s a bit risky asking.  Let me just say Pinterest is a wonderful tool–you can look up just about anything–and when I looked up historical colors for the home, this lovely shade came up and I thought, that’s it.

It’s green.  Slightly in the direction of chartreuse.  I went and got samples tonight.  Y’all know me, I had to get three different shades to try.  (We are going to have a humdinger of a homeschool project at some point with my myriad of paint samples.)  We were moving furniture around tonight, so we haven’t tried them yet, but we will.

I am embracing my new colorful home.  Did I fail to mention that Aub’s bathroom is a lovely deep shade of purple now?  And it will be adjacent to the new green too.  So exciting.

It’s the little things in life, you know.  I hope that Mama is smiling at me, turning over a new leaf, being a lot less conservative in my choices and going for it.  “Dream big, baby girl,” she used to say.

In the words of the young folks, “YOLO–You Only Live Once.”

But instead of using it for an excuse to wreak havoc and not care, I’m using it as an excuse to let my wings stretch out and my spirit soar.  The color is coming back into my cheeks and my heart.  And my home.

Besides, as I told my painterfriend, I want folks to walk through here after I’m long gone and say, “Well, she certainly was a colorful old gal, wasn’t she?”

Yep, that would be just about perfect.

Love and vibrant colors to all!

From Tranquil Bay to Autumn Moon–and ALL the Colors in Between

So today, this brought me to tears.

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And so did this.

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No you are not looking at the handiwork of one of my littles.

I did that.  All by myself.

After seven years, it is time to paint these walls.  These walls that are that special shade of perfectly neutral beige have been this way for the almost seven years we have lived here.  Stick with me here as I do the math–seven years.  Same number of years that Cooter has been alive.  And only two less than our Princess.

Yep, these walls have seen their share of handprints and pencil marks and knicks from the wooden hammer in the little tool set.  They have spots where tape was stuck and peeled the paint off (lesson learned) and places where I scrubbed too hard to get something off.

Suffice to say, it is time.  Plus this paint is flat, which makes me feel flat.  It’s time to jazz up the color and the finish–time to go with some satin.

I come from a line of women who like their color.  My Granny had some color of peach walls at one point in her house on the farm.  I don’t think I’m misremembering.  Her stool was painted a coordinating color before Daddy stripped the paint and refinished it.  (He left some flecks of that paint, which makes it all the more precious to me.)  My Great Aunt went with seafoam and mauve in her home when that came in style, and that black and white tiled bathroom?  She did all kinds of things with color coordinating in there.  My Mama loved her some avocado and then a light green and a pretty blue.  I’m following a path of bold color choices, and the pressure is on.

I have been picking up samples and trying them out for two weeks at least.  I dreamt of a lovely coral with our white trim and wood ceiling.  I just knew it would pop.  The problem is when I put it on the wall, my Fella said, “Wow, that’s really orange.”  And I realized how dark it would make my kitchen and den.  We don’t get a lot of natural light and I feared that instead of lighting up the room it would make it dim and dark.  So no.

In the meantime I was also choosing colors for the “garage bathroom.”  It’s not actually IN the garage–just near the door to the garage.  It’s where we send folks we like to go.  And it too was suffering from flat paint syndrome.  You just cannot erase water marks from that kind of paint.  I found some blue and green samples, and this is what we went with.  It has turned out beautifully, I’m really so pleased.  This is how I know I haven’t totally lost my mind or my sense of color, but just barely.

The "garage bathroom," freshly painted and beautiful.

The “garage bathroom,” freshly painted and beautiful.

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It’s hard to tell the exact color, I know, but trust me–it is lovely.  Soothing.  I want to put a chair in the corner and work from there.  Really.

Now that the bathroom’s done, I have to choose the color for the kitchen and den.  I want this room to be as perfect as that bathroom.  I want it to be inviting and soothing and for the color to reflect what little light comes in and make it seem brighter.

Is all that too much to ask of a paint color?

Apparently it is.

Tonight was the last straw.  The littles, my Fella, and I went to the getting place and looked at paint colors again.  I went, intent on getting two samples.  The plan was run home, try them on the wall, pick one, and he would run back and get a gallon while I fixed supper.

Problem number one–I have a headache.  I can never think straight when I have one of these.  So there was that.

Problem number two–I’ve lost my mind.  The two colors I brought home to try?  See those two blobs in the second picture that look peachy?  Yeah.  They are the same color as the crayon that had all its papers peeled off  in the book “The Day the Crayons Quit.”  Ahem.  Yeah, growing up I used that crayon for one thing and one thing only.  Coloring skin color sometimes.  How could I possibly have thought it would be a good wall color?  Why didn’t a siren go off when I asked for those samples?

Sigh.

At that point, I was in tears.  Maybe I should just go with the beige.  Maybe it wasn’t so bad.  Maybe I’d feel better about it when it wasn’t a flat paint and it was all clean-looking.  Maybe that blue wouldn’t be bad.  Let’s smear a little more and see if we could stand it.  Because that’s how you want to feel about your wall color–“Oh well, it’s okay, I can stand it.”  I didn’t want beige because when we lived in Japan on the base EVERYTHING was that color–inside and out it seemed, and that blue kept reminding me of my brother’s room growing up.  Tears, people, I was beyond frustrated with myself.

And then there was the whole thing that this is such a first world problem.  And I use the word “problem” very loosely. I’m whining about not being able to find a perfect color, and it made me not even like myself very much in that moment.

My Fella took over supper plans and sent me back to the getting place.  He liked the greens, and the blue–but nothing made him say, “That’s the one!”  At least he didn’t say it out loud.

I looked at him before I left and said, “If I come home with a bright yellow gold, we gonna be okay here?”

He nodded.  “Just find what you like.”

Poor man. I know he loves that blue.

And I’m telling y’all when the time comes to paint our bathroom, by golly, he will have his blue.  Just please, not in my kitchen and den.  Okay?

I called Mess Cat and asked her to talk me off the ledge.  She knew just what to say.  As usual.  And I give thanks for that.

I walked through, fingers crossed that the numerous paint people who have prepared a whole rainbow of samples for me would not be there on my second trip today.

I walked through, willing my headache to go away, and breathed slowly.  I tried looking at totally different paint chips and choosing colors that weren’t so bold.  All the ones I’d chosen before seemed to be too bold for the space.

And then there it was.

Autumn Moon.

Yes, the romantic in me fell in love with the name first.  (And as a sidenote–I would love to be hired as one of the people who names these colors, if anyone hears of an opening–I mean how fun could that be?  Wonder if I’d get free samples–that could be quite helpful. So please, if you hear of anything…..)  Awesome name.  My favorite season.  Yes.

And the color.  It is a lovely golden-yellow that is subtle not bold.  It is my hope that it is the perfect color for the sun to reflect upon and magnify as we enjoy another seven years here in these rooms making memories and hopefully not as many marks on the walls.

So I got a gallon.  It will go down the hall to the bathroom.  If we hate it, we can change the color in the den and kitchen, but I’ve got to tell you.

I sure hope we love it.

Because I found out a few things in this experience.

*What looks great on Pinterest does not always look great in one’s own home.

*Grief has greatly affected my decision-making skills.  Now I understand why Mama had such a hard time deciding on some things after Daddy got sick, and especially after he passed.  Somehow I just felt that if I could ask Mama, it would have all worked out.  Which is funny because we had different tastes in color for the most part, and I probably would have chosen what I wanted anyway, but the point is that grief has taken away much of my ability to figure out what I want.

*Finally I realize that I have very, very varying and eclectic tastes.  Do you see that rainbow on my wall?  I would take any one of those colors in some room or another–well with the exception of the naked crayon color and the funky yellow-green that is not pictured.  Again, why don’t they have an alarm that goes off when you choose something like that?  “THIS IS NOT THE PAINT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR!”

Tonight I give thanks for a skilled painter in my midst who has the patience and the ability to take color and make it look beautiful on my wall.  I appreciate my family who has put up with my dreaming about bold and beautiful colors, and when I was about to have a meltdown *over paint color* (shaking my head ashamedly), they hugged me and took care of things so I could do what I needed to do.  And for the kind paint mixing man who wished me luck and was probably worried I was going to burst into tears at the getting place this evening, bless him.  I appreciate the many good people who have mixed my samples and talked colors with me.  Especially Mess Cat.  And my Fella who has been very patient and my Aub who has dreamed big with me.  I love all of y’all.  And if Autumn Moon doesn’t cut it, y’all will know where to find me.  In my “Tranquil Bay” bathroom, working at my new job of naming colors.  (Seriously y’all, I could be good at that.)

Love and soothing colors to all.