Saturday, July 9, 2016

What If?

This has been a most peculiar year for me full of good times and some creepy ones. My house dreams have shifted due to health concerns. This August I will be 68 years old and I still wonder about changes and ask myself "what if"?

Stairs. Stairs are no longer part of my home plan! I watch HGTV with all the young couples wanting that two story foyer with stairs leading up to a landing and the rest of the home. At my age I wouldn't, couldn't, do those stairs. I ask myself, too, why any young couple would want them. I can't image lugging a baby on your hip, wrapped in your arms, up that many stairs. I'd worry that there would be so many instances for accidents as the child aged. Of course, I don't have children, but I do have dogs. My dogs couldn't go up those stairs even if I could. 

And those huge Victorian homes I tagged endlessly on Zillow. They are off my list. Three levels? I'd live on the first floor. My dream was a small town outside of Atlanta where I could feel more a part of a community. It didn't dawn on me that I had my own large community of friends close by my home. I was ripe for a change - any change.

What altered my dreams this year was a hip replacement surgery gone badly. Last year I had my left hip replaced and all went very smoothly. Except for the fact my right hip kept me in so much discomfort I still hobbled around. This April I decided to go for it and have the right hip replaced. It needed to be done and now the experience is somewhat behind me. I am on a walker doing physical therapy. Next week I hope to start driving again. My Chihuahua sleeps with me, but the other four dogs have to wait a few more weeks before joining us in the bedroom.

If you have read any of my posts over the years you know my dream has been to move. Don't ask me why - except I thought the final step in my widow healing was to have a clean slate. A new house - make that a new old house. With a bit of land for my dogs and maybe some chickens.  Where I live now was named number 79 in the nation of great places to live. Development is everywhere. All the young folks are paying big bucks for houses that have been built with the old cottages have been torn down. Developers keep calling me asking if I want to sell. In fact, I had my house on the market twice in the last few years, only up for 30 days each time when I realized my hips would make a move impossible. I had offers but declined and took the listings down.

My surgery perhaps was the universe slowing me down. Making me think more about what I have. And a discovery on how many friends I have that stayed close to me during my bad days.

The hip replacement went well, or so the surgeon thought. That afternoon when the physical therapist tried to get me up I was in too much pain. An x-ray showed somehow the femur fractured after surgery. Two days later, I had another hip surgery and the femur was stabilized. I then went to a nursing home for rehab (lets not do those details) for almost thirty days. Friends came to see me daily which kept me from sinking into oblivion . . . the nursing care was so horrid. The physical therapists were excellent and got me on my feet, but the rest of the experience there . . . well, I thought about writing a cozy mystery where I got to kill off a nurse or two, all in good fun, but a way to deal with my lack of care.

Next, the surgery site became infected and I went back into the hospital for another surgery, two weeks on IV antibiotics, and physical therapy. Those folks were wonderful.

What was to be a two week process, including rehab, took almost seven weeks and three surgeries for me to get home. I've never been happier to see my house, my dogs, and my life back before my eyes.

I still think "what if" . . . but on a different level. My birthday in August will be a celebration of life, of gratitude, and of friendships. There will be a party on my patio. My pet sitter, who is my friend, and has her suite in my basement, although she is gone most nights with other pets, has a Pinterest board for my party. A farm table, lights in the trees, a bit of music. Perhaps this will be the house I love forever. Time will tell. My dreams now are of fixing this place up again. Painting the walls, getting the gardens in shape, and flipping some furniture to create a space that feels different, but is still the house that I shared with my husband, learned how to be independent when I was left alone, and a safe haven for my dogs.

"What if".... I concentrated on writing my new book. "What if" .... I started doing lectures and book signings.  "What if" .... I could work in my garden again. And "What if" ... I just learned how to relax and enjoy my life without having to push so hard for changes. I always worry I should be doing more, be more, find my path on my own.  I am rethinking everything now. Seven weeks away from home, worried my infection would never go away, my surgery site never heal, I had lots of time to wonder about the next phase of my life.

And "what if" my dream home is really a rambling ranch with a farmhouse feel and I am already living there? The Cottage In My Mind has been in front of me all along.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Merry Little Christmas

Bray is in the holiday spirit. And so am I and the other hounds. Did a little decorating to have a merry little Christmas. Not so easy putting up the jolly holly with my other hip still needing surgery, but I got my favorite angels up, a few English mice, and new purchases from my two favorite antique shops - Antiques in Old Town and Vintage Village.  I'd say we are pretty festive here at home!

Vintage handmade Santas purchased on EBay years ago.
My lovely tree in a divine bucket, a purchase from my friend My Vintage Heart a dealer at Vintage Village. This was a must have. Too lazy to haul my huge tree out of the closet and this one fit on my wonderful painted chest in front of the window, a purchase from another friend, Cheryl Alexander at Antiques in Old Town.
Mantel full of old and new treasures. The Peace sign from Vintage Village but all the other treasures are full of memories from years past.
I tucked this little book in the wreath. It is from a trip with my mother to London in 1989. Every year I have a small vignette that includes this book and three mice that came home with me from that trip, too. 
Santa Mouse from England
And Mr. & Mrs. Mouse, also from that wonderful trip!
I love my old garden statues. They dress up nicely for the holidays!
My front door always displays this vintage trellis, but the addition of a French wreath and jingle bells add holiday cheer! Again, all from my two favorite shops!
This looks like cement but is lightweight. Love the old chippy paint!
Close-up of the wise man and his lamb.
From years past a prim angel handing over an old hand painted sign for Saint Augustine! The sign is up all year long, reminding me of my mother who still lives there!
This year round prim angel keeps a watch on my house!
My garden theme continues in the dining room. A small white tree with blue Poinsettias  and a prim holiday angel in an antique flower box.
A close-up photo.
Another angel sits with gardening books and other garden treasures.
And is there anything prettier than a tree lit at night, no matter the size or type!
Under the tree an old mother and child statue from the days I had my shop in Old Town Lilburn. I priced her so high she would not sell. She reminds me that at Christmas, and all year long, how lucky we are to be loved and to share our love with friends and family. The true meaning of Christmas.
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with love!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Coming Home

 My booth at Antiques In Old Town - complete with a show case for my jewelry.
The scene is set for me to fill with treasures!

Today time turned back for me and I am returning to my love of selling antiques. Only this go round I will sell small items and jewelry, some vintage pieces and many repurposed and made into new treasures that hold a story of their own. My days of lugging large cupboards are over - at least for now until my hip surgery is a thing of the past!

While I've been looking for a change in where I live, I overlooked that I lived happily with my shop when I was in Old Town, Lilburn. There was a magic being in that space and with the people I met. I was happy there. The shop across the street, where once I had rented space and many of the dealers I considered my friends over the years also rented space, was the cornerstone of the two block area. The owners were my friends, too. I had my shop for all of nine months, nine months that I bloomed as a widow, finding myself in a small community of people who felt like family to me. I wrote about my experience being a shop owner, that never sold anything, but tried to pull together a small artist/writer community. Then my finances reared up hinting I was going broke, and I moved out. My blog posts were on my own blog, on The Patch, an online newspaper, and on The Balancing Act's blog, which was part of Lifetime TV. I had a home away from home in a tiny hub twenty minutes from my house in Decatur.

Perhaps I've come full circle. This is where I need to be now. You can't recreate the past, but you can enjoy the now. And my 'now' will be moving back into a shop that I love in a town that feels like home. Wednesday I will begin filling my showcase and I am anxious to see what I come up with. Having been in the antique business for most of my adult life, I still have things tucked here and there, so when I dig around tomorrow, there is no telling what I'll find. I am excited, finally. The depression I've felt over the last months since my hip replacement surgery lifting, being replaced by a touch of euphoria.

I woke up early, the window open to let in a hint of fall air, the air conditioning unit turned off, so I could breathe deeply and hear myself think. The only sound around me, the snoring of the dogs, who did not share my excitement of rising at 5 am. Every memory I had of those nine months, and every post I wrote, came back to me, filling me with a sense of peace and wonderment, reminding me of all the good things in my life.

Tonight I revisited the past. I felt the warmth of it wrap me in its memories, the magic I felt writing late at night resurfaced, too. I've been a widow over seven years now, but only in the last two years have I felt more alone, and that I blame on health issues. I still have a way to go. My right hip needs surgery, which I hope to postpone until after the first of the new year. My left hip mending nicely. Perhaps in 2016 I will be the bionic woman, with two new hips. For now, I am thrilled to have a change of heart, finding my heart beating with excitement as I call myself an antique dealer once again!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Plan B

Plan B  I am back to dreaming big! Just a pretty picture as a reminder that the cottage in my mind lives on!

Sometimes I get so carried away thinking the universe is pointing me in a different direction, to change my life, I confuse myself.  It's not really a senior moment on my part, but a big blip in how I see things in my excitement to do something new.

My messages, signs, desires, all seem to revolve around houses. No matter how I try - I can't exorcise the thought I want to move. No matter what I do, I stay put.

I even spoke to a therapist the first of the year to talk about change.

She was kind. She told me my house fantasy, the big old house with a huge farm table in the kitchen, or the sweet 1800's cottage with lots of rooms and gingerbread trim, had nothing to do with houses, but something more I wanted.

I challenged her with the fact it is an old fantasy, since I was young.

After three sessions, I realized I was having too much fun paying money to have someone listen to my fantasy with undivided attention. I was tossing money away because there is no cure for my house dreams. I love old houses, I love antiques, and yes, she was right. It has so much more to do with how I see life in a new place.

Would I be different?  Probably not. I would be me supercharged. And maybe that is the answer to my never ending question. Why do I want to move? I would be me on steroids in a new house rather than the me that has slowed down. The truth is, if I don't get my other hip fixed, I will be sitting in a new house just like I am here. The answer for the moment is to take care of my health and then figure out what is next. A year of being slowed down in what I do has made me think a quick fix is a move.  Don't ask me how I planned to move 3000 square feet of treasures I love, the packing alone staggering. But in my mind, to get to my dream home . . . easy peasey!

As it turns out, the universe has sent me a sign to stay put, or at least not to move to the little yellow house in Athens.  A house that would make me downsize, which was not my plan, but I got caught up with how charming it was! And I am a sucker for charm!

The house in Athens turned out to have a bit of bad Karma surrounding it. I don't know how things got so strange, but the folks did not want to honor my offer after we all signed it. They put it back on the market while I thought I was selling my house to buy theirs. All has ended well, we've mutually dropped the entire thing and I am here, as always, wondering where I should move!

There is a hint of fall in the air this morning, clearing my head. Plan B goes into action. I love fall. I love to nest in with my dogs, snuggle and watch TV. This fall I may have surgery on my right hip. Then I will be bionic woman with two new hips and a good stride to my walk.

I plan to up my writing and reach out close in to see if I can supercharge myself here in Decatur. Be more than I am in the house I keep trying to leave. Time will tell.

My dreams are still big and perhaps soon I will find my answer to the eternal question of where do I want to live. In the mean time, I will share photos of the houses that haunt me at night on Zillow but elude me during the daylight when I go about hiding from the world just how crazy I am.

Crazy for houses, crazy for dogs, and crazy about life, where ever I root!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Almost Been A Year Since My Last Visit Here!

Miss Bertha worries that she can't climb stairs to get to the bedroom!

Wow! Where has the year gone? So much has happened and my idea of the perfect home has changed drastically for me. Reality bites. Ouch! I am looking at buying a small yellow ranch house in Athens, Georgia, after drooling over turn of the century Victorian homes in Florida and Georgia. Why the change and what the heck has been going on?

First, last fall I had my house on the market for less than thirty days. I realized I could not move - not my home - but my body. My left hip caused me so much pain I literally stopped in place trying to walk from the jolt that went through my hip and down my leg. At that time I so wanted to move to Florida, to be closer to my mother, and to a little town forty miles from her that offered a wonderful pink Victorian home, three levels, mostly renovated, for a price that was hard to believe. Being in metro Atlanta, it is hard to find anything I can afford now. I could not afford to buy the house I am living in now if I weren't already here for so many years!

My Florida dream house currently pending sale to another at $149,000.  Seriously . . .
The holidays were a bit of a blur since I also popped something behind my right knee that kept me off my feet for a week, all my party plans on hold as I sat with six dogs, ordered food to be delivered, and sobbed with every romantic Christmas movie Hallmark had to offer.
I still got on the computer, Zillow my constant companion, next to the dogs, of course.
In January, my right hip started bothering me. Walking on a cane I felt like I was a hundred years old with both hips hurting. Still I postponed surgery. I hate the idea of surgery and I needed to figure out who could come take care of my six-pack of hounds while I was gone.
Finally I gave in. Surgery was scheduled for May, but I had almost two months to think about it. To distract myself, I pulled a book together, a picture book about one of my dogs, Miss April in Paris, who dreamed of visiting the city of lights. With the help of my talented sister/designer ( PD King Design) the picture book became a reality and posted on Amazon a few days before I had my surgery.
Available on Amazon. A portion of all sales goes to animal rescue.
While my dog dreamed of Paris, I still dreamed of a cottage style house, a farm house, a Victorian beauty. I wanted an acre or two, with maybe some chickens, or a goat. I still dream of that house, but have found a house that suits me well. And once again, I am off my rocker while still on my walker recovering from hip replacement surgery.
I found my perfect little ranch house in Athens, Georgia.
A far cry from the pink Victorian from last fall, but I do love this house. It is perfect for me and the dogs. Maybe I've watched too much HGTV while stuck at home recovering. OMG what they find behind walls when renovating older homes. The last thing I want - more house problems. Perhaps that Zillow ad on HGTV got to me . . . You are not just buying a house, you are buying a lifestyle. (The wording on TV may have been slightly different, but you get the idea.)
What do I want for my lifestyle? I don't want to be secluded on a farm away from civilization. How do I run get dog food at midnight? And I don't want stairs. Yes, I am still having trouble with stairs, but I will mend. I have dogs that could not go up stairs and I want them sleeping with me. Right now I yell "bed!!!!" and six dogs race down the hallway to the bedroom. They are waiting with wagging tails when I appear. How would some of them get up a flight of stairs . . . they wouldn't. So, nix the stairs, I'm down to all one level.
I have so many other dreams aside from my house fantasy, the cottage in my mind has changed in shape and appearance. I want to write, paint, make jewelry, do shows again, have fun with friends, perhaps attend classes at the University (when you get to be my age you can audit for free!) and find a way to be out of the house more, instead of constantly dreaming in my head!
I spend so much time figuring out where to put my stuff (and lots of that stuff is left over from my antique shop, still trying to thin it out) how to get rid of the last of my late husband's stuff (my three outbuildings are full of office desks from thirty years ago, paint cans, insect sprays, and rotting garden chairs from as many years back). I am weighted down by stuff, stuff that doesn't matter to me. I still love the stuff I love and will haul as much as possible to a new home. But I want to feel lighter in my house so I can enjoy everything on one floor. The cottage above still gives me as much square footage as I have here, minus the basement I can't even get into at the moment. It is perfect for me and the dogs. With four bedrooms and three baths, it will be perfect for friends and family to come visit, too.
Now it is up to the universe. I am ready to go. My house just went up for sale. It is a crazy thing to be doing this now. I am over one surgery, but still healing, and I may have to have surgery on my other hip. I am on a walker and can't bend down yet. But I believe that things happen when they should. I've done my part, now let's see if the time is right.
A fortune cookie at the beginning of the year had a fortune I liked. By the end of this year your dreams will come true. It took me a few months to figure out just exactly what my dream was. My dream versus my fantasy. There is a difference.
I want to be in my new home and walking with my new hips. It can happen. Anything can happen. Perhaps the universe has something entirely different for me. Time will tell. But for the moment the cottage in my mind is a little yellow ranch house that makes me smile thinking of a new start.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Voices Are Speaking Again, Whispering To Me

There Is A Voice Inside Of You
That Whispers All Day Long,
"I Feel That This Is Right For Me,
I Know That This Is Wrong."
No Teacher, Preacher, Parent, Friend
Or Wise Man Can Decide
What's Right For You- Just Listen To
The Voice That Speaks Inside.

Shel Silverstein
The voices are speaking to me again. Whispering. The cottage in my mind, that siren that won't let go, has beckoned me, teased me, just as I thought I'd settled down. I am up on looking at houses late at night, wondering if it is time for a change.
If it were only so simple to decide "I feel that this is right for me, I know that this is wrong".
Late at night it feels so right, yet in the morning sun, as my day begins, and the dogs and I walk into my back yard, the voice is hushed as I breathe in the sweet morning air and quietly think to myself, stay, perhaps anything else would be wrong.
I know what triggered this latest round of voices. The loudest voice was my own crying out, Nooooo! The French drain that went in last year, and has kept water from seeping into my basement, failed a week ago. All the Georgia rain, pounding hard on my roof, on the ground, relentless in the mid afternoons, brought two things, one oh so right, the other, oh so wrong.
My roses burst forth in a beautiful display of pink. A magical moment when the new buds opened up and my world was rosy.

My basement started to leak again. I watched as the work was done a year ago and my handyman did a splendid job. I chose him over a large company that would have done the same repair, the only difference, jackhammering up my cement floor to put in a drain and a fan, for ten thousand dollars. My handyman's work mirrored the work in their brochure. I did not want a drain. I wanted the water to stop. 

I may be cursed with this problem forever, water trickling into my basement. I went to Home Depot and purchased a small shop vac. It will do the job a drain would, and for much less. It was thirty dollars. My buck stops here.

That small puddle on my grey cement floor started a conversation in my mind again. Perhaps it is time to go. 

The voices took me to Florida this time. To be close to my family, to be in a small town close to the water, to redefine who I am before more time passes.

My birthday is just around the corner. This year for all its promise, gave me moments of self-doubt. Surgery in February kept me too quiet for too long.  I will be sixty-six in a blink of an eye. I worry I am not where I am supposed to be. I wonder if I'm too old to make a huge move. I question if I really want to.

The never-ending question that haunts me the most, do I need to leave this house I lived for thirty plus years, twenty-five of them with my husband, to take the final step to find myself. I am happy here, safe, in a lovely town with great friends, but I can't leave those questions alone.

Houses. My sirens, my ghosts, my passion. I started this blog to come to terms with my dream of an old house. I thought I'd settled in to a life here. Now I wonder . . .

My first night up on again had me downsizing to a smaller house with all the square footage on one floor, with less age problems. As true to my nature and the house demons that haunt me, the cottage in my mind grew to enormous proportions, to a huge gingerbread Victorian house with a second story.

A new business, a small art gallery, a place for writers to meet, rooms for family and friends to come visit, the houses below could accommodate all.  The repairs could be worse than what I dread  here now! But a dream is a lovely place to start to figure things out.  Maybe for me it is the questions, not the answers, that are important. I believe that in questioning our lives we find what is important to live life to the fullest, to answer what is right  for me and what is wrong.


The one constant in any cottage dream - a yard large enough for six dogs to play and be safe. I do have my priorities straight there! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Garden In July

Some photos of my garden in July. The first of the month the blooms were bright with roses and daisies. Some flowers are fading now and others filling in. It always amazes me to watch how nature changes. The Crepe Myrtle and Tiger Lilies are adding hot pink and orange in huge spurts of color!
Jasmine blossoms round the arbour,
Elder spreads along the air,
Hollyhocks stand proudly tallest
In the fragrant thoroughfare.
Pansies, like a 'broidered carpet,
Through the garden ways are set,
And the sweet-peas catch the sunlight
In a tangled flowery net.
Sunflowers, with a kingly bearing,
Hold their golden heads on high,
Pinks breathe out a friendly welcome
Every time you pass them by.
Gather seeds while seeds do ripen
In the bounteous July sun,
Garner well the treasure-packets
In your store-house one by one.
And before the month is over,
Pluck sweet lavender and dry
All its tiny flowers for sweetness,
In the winter by and by.

Caroline Maitland (1858 – 1920) was an English poet and writer. She married in 1883 Ernest Radford, and wrote as Dollie Radford.