Monday, April 10, 2017

A Year In Review

 
My new home in Social Circle, Georgia
 
 
     One year ago today I had hip replacement surgery on my right hip and a year's journey began that ended with me living in the cottage in my mind for real. It was a year full of unsettling things, heartbreak, and finally joy in finding my new house and beginning a new chapter of my life. Between April 11, 2016 and April 11, 2017, everything they tell you triggers stress landed on my head! Three surgeries in thirty days ( hip replacement that went badly with a fractured femur and infection) and seven weeks away from the nest where my dogs were waiting for me to return. Thanks to my friend and pet sitter and a few good doctors, we were all reunited the end of May. My mother had a terrible health year and at the end of August we lost her. A blessing that ended the pain that engulfed her but a loss I still can't comprehend. I sold my house in Florida that had been her home for years, where she had been happy and started writing again, a house I loved but could not afford to keep. For so many years I have wanted to move from my own home in Decatur. Mother encouraged me to follow my dreams but the timing was off. In 2015, I had left hip replacement surgery and then the fiasco surgery in April 2016. In January of this year I knew it was time for me to find a new path. My lovely home in Decatur, the one my husband bought when we were first together, before we married, was overwhelming to me on my own the last few years. I'd found a little 1906 cottage in the charming town of Social Circle, an hour outside of Atlanta, and made an offer. My house in Decatur sold to a wonderful couple, the first to look at it, in less than a day on the market. So, February 28th we closed on the sale of the Decatur house at 9AM and at noon I purchased my cottage. I had thirty days to move, which was a blessing with all my things that had to be sorted through and hard to pack since I am still on my cane, but a necessity since I had to have a privacy fence put up for my dogs to go out in the yard. The house is in a historic district so all had to be approved before the fence could go in. My fence was completed five days before I had to leave the Decatur house. I also had the interior of the house painted white, a farmhouse white, since once I moved in I would never paint it myself. The dogs and I spent our first night in Social Circle March 26th. The adventure has just begun. I am happy. I want to call my mother and tell her the news, just like I always called her to tell her everything. Somehow I know she is smiling. When I started the process in January I knew exactly what she would say. Go my darling. Spread your wings. I am tossing my cane aside and beginning to fly again.
 
Exterior
 
 
A dream come true!
 
 
The little shed in the back yard.
 
 
First roses in bloom.
 
Fresh Paint
 
 
After painting, looking down center hall to front door.
 
 
 
Keeping room off kitchen.
 
 
Shelves in kitchen
 
 
Vanity in bathroom. The previous owner had renovated the house beautifully.
I just added my paint colors.
 
 
 
Dining room.
 
The Dogs Arrive
(transported by a friend in animal rescue
who brought me April and Rascal originally.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And feeling right at home in the midst of all that needs to be done.
 
 
 
 
 
Sleeping every place they can.
 
 
And walking carefully between boxes, art, and books.
 
 
 
 
A Happy Camper
 
 
(more to come as progress is made)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Little Christmas House Tour 2016


I made it to 2017. January lst. The year looms ahead. New beginnings, and for me, many changes in my life again. I greeted the New Year in my comfy thrift store, faux leather chair, my dogs happy in the house, Chloe my little Chihuahua tucked under a quilt on my lap, and felt a feeling of peace and joy fill my heart. I had been out earlier in the evening to see a movie with a friend and dinner at The Waffle House. Very low key on a cold, somewhat rainy, night. Most years I would have liked to have a friend share the dropping of the ball in Times Square with me, but last night I wanted to myself. To reflect on what the year had been and to think of those I've loved and lost. My mother closer in my thoughts than my husband. He has been gone since 2008 and up until this year, he was certainly in my thoughts at the holidays. Mother left me in August, so the pain is raw still, the memories of her more vivid. A calm came over me as I thought about how lucky I've been in my life. Even the passing of my loved ones was guided by a higher being. They stayed around long enough while ill for me to get used to the idea things would change, but not so long they suffered with pain.  I hope I've learned something this past year to guide me into 2017. Surrounded by dear friends and a pack of hoodlum dogs, I will figure it out. And my wonderful sister and her husband, miles away, but still a source of comfort and fun to visit with on the phone. My little twig star with its tin angel full of joy is a reminder of all the good things.

So, that said, before I take down my Christmas, I wanted to save my photos here. I did a bit of decorating, partly out of determination that I would not be sad, and partly because I promised myself there would always be trees! Now I have five little trees and lots of treasures to pack up until next year. My house is lovely, but I wonder if I will be in this house or a new (older) cottage next season. It's fun to dream and I am a dreamer. It is also a plus to know when you are lucky with what you have. I believe the universe will bring me what I need this year and I am anxious to see what's next.

My 2016 holiday tour is mostly so I can look back and remember this Christmas and say I love you, mother. I love you Brad. And I love all my friends who make life so sweet.

Kitchen
Farm table and mantel and a few other
little spots that called for a festive touch.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunroom and Office
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Living Room, Dining Room, and Foyer
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wishing us all a Happy New Year full of love and friendship!
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Mother's Garden




I said goodbye to my mother in August, when I visited her in Inverness, Florida, far from the house she loved in St. Augustine. My sister had moved mother to be closer to her, since mother's health was tumbling downhill quickly. First to a lovely old hotel that had been made into an assisted living home full of antiques and caring folks. That lasted for less than two weeks when mother was moved to the hospital and shortly thereafter to a rehab facility. I made it down the last week of August thanks to a friend who stopped everything and drove me the six hours. Recovering from hip replacement surgery I could not drive that distance by myself. The day after I arrived we moved mother to hospice. I spent the day with her, grateful that I'd made it in time and could talk to her, while she understood my words. My own health issues trumped hers this year and the visit I so wanted, where we could laugh and hug, did not happen. But the visit to remind her how much I loved her came in the nick of time. It was a turn around trip, and mother passed on quietly the day after I came back to Georgia. It was a blessing for her.

A month later, another friend drove me to St. Augustine, Florida, six hours down the other side of the state. It was a drive I knew by heart. Many years ago I purchased the small cottage in the downtown area for mother.  I had just sold my place in Atlanta to live with the man I would marry. Terrible with saving money, the house was a grand idea. An investment and a haven for my mother.  She loved that house dearly and had many wonderful years living in it. Mother got back to her roots as a writer in the upstairs porch, a tiny narrow area that held her computer and her imagination. She started writing again at eighty-four. I set up a blog for her and a web page that you can visit.  She wrote many romantic novellas and a memoir in the four years before she left us. All can be found on Amazon.

My sister and brother-in-law were already at the house when we arrived, cleaning out things that needed to go, to the trash, to one of us, to Goodwill. The house was to remain furnished since I needed to sell it and wanted it to show well. It needed work that was not in my budget. I could no longer keep up two house payments and without mother, I would not visit the city I loved so because of her. I shared the pictures below on my Facebook page and the fates were kind. A writer I knew showed interest and took a trip to see the house. He pulled in a friend of his who owned a construction company, and within a few weeks the house had sold. They are bringing the cottage back to how it would have been in the 1920's.

Saying goodbye to the house was hard, as if I was saying goodbye to mother yet again. She was the happiest I could remember there. We had many wonderful visits, when my husband was alive, and later just the two of us, wandering through the historic plaza, eating out, watching TV, me stretched out on the sofa, mother in her favorite wing chair.

The month the house sold was one full of worry.  Hurricane Matthew came straight to St. Augustine and hit it hard. The historic downtown flooded but was saved, as was my house, a block outside the historic boundaries. A neighbor told me water came up to the front step but not into the house. Houses on the beaches were not so lucky. My purchasers were in St. Simons, in harm's way, too.  We made it through the month and the house closed on October 31st. The remaining furniture was donated to a group helping people who had lost everything in the storm. I knew mother would want that.

I am on my own now. The first time I don't have anyone to worry about. It is a very strange feeling. At sixty-eight it is me and my five dogs. I think about the house in St. Augustine and all the joy it brought and the memories I will always have of mother smiling, greeting me with love and hugs when I walked in the front door. Just like I have so many memories in my house here, memories of my husband, and of the life I've created since he left over eight years ago.

Friends asked if I might move there. The house in St. Augustine was too tiny, with its postage size yard, for a widow with a pack of hounds to inhabit, although I toyed with hauling us down there and selling this place. I knew it would never work. It was time to let it go. Time to figure out what would be next for me. Without mother's nightly chats on the phone there is a huge void, a change that leaves life too quiet once again.

Rummaging through Goodwill I found a little stone trivet with a quote that spoke to me. It now sits on a shelf in my kitchen.

       "In search of my mother's garden I found my own."  Alice Walker

Mother's memory will be the brightest flower in my heart as I move forward tending to my own garden, finding a new path for my life. There may just be a cozy cottage in the coming year, a new home for me and the pups. A dream my mother would want me to follow. One she knew stayed in my thoughts and encouraged me to pursue. When I started this blog about the cottage in my mind, she loved to read my stories and understood my restlessness to move from the house I shared with my husband, to something that was mine alone. A house lover my entire life it came as no surprise I wanted something different to play with, too. That combination kept me on Zillow looking at property for hours some nights.  The when and where larger than life questions for me.  My rambling ranch is lovely, but it is a ranch, I wanted older. Now I am older, too. With two hip replacement surgeries behind me. I am more limber some days, others not so much. My latest question is can I physically do it now?

Nothing held my mother back as she entered her eighties. She was my inspiration that you could do anything at any age. I will figure it out and write about it here. If I listen closely to the universe perhaps I will hear my mother cheer me on,

                                           My Mother's Charming House

Sharing photos of the house in St. Augustine, for you to see, and for me to have to hold close and remember all the joy we had there.

 
                                       
                                
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mother sitting on the back porch a year or so ago. She grew the plant from an avocado seed and was always amazed it thrived. The women in our family are not known for our green thumbs.