Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mother Nature is a B****

Rascel (front) and Bertha (back) enjoying the sun today!

The storms ripped through north Georgia yesterday and a small town suffered more damage than the mind can take in. My dogs and I were huddled close waiting to see what weather would come across Decatur. We were lucky here, only some heavy rain. My downstairs basement room had some water trickle in from the baseboard, as it always does when it rains. One day I'll fix the problem. For now, my idea of home repair is to drop a few quilts to soak up the puddles, and file the problem away for tomorrow.

It is a scary thought to loose everything to mother nature. She is really mean spirited lately. You can't turn on the TV without hearing another weather related horror story. I pray for my home when she gets riled up and I weep for those who have suffered under her rule. As a nester, I know how much my home means to me. It is my safe harbor. What if it were gone?

Last night I started to think, what makes a home? I love all my possessions, as most everyone does of their things, but they just fill a house, with beauty, with clutter, with memories. Home is different when it holds a family, a husband and wife, life seems to be in constant motion. Sometimes by myself, since I've lived on my own now as a widow almost five years – single woman, my new title - how different the space feels. The energy level is different when it is just one. Good, but different.

Even with six dogs by my side, there is a quiet that you don't have when you share your home with someone. My house is very still this week, since my teen foreign exchange student moved on to another host family. I was her welcome home for five months. There are no text messages, no dogs howling and carrying on to greet her, no waiting up late to be sure she got home in time, and no late night conversations and laughter before she headed downstairs for sleep. It is a quiet that stands out from the last months. It is a quiet I needed. My head was about to explode from all the teen activity! (A note: I have never been around kids, so this was a new and wonderful experience).The timing for her to move on was perfect. She is with kids her age and I am with my dogs, writing again at my computer.

Have I gotten so used to living by myself that I am happy with just my dogs? I needed my life back to be able to connect with friends, a hard, almost impossible thing to do, when you are on call for a teen. Now I am home alone, but not lonely.

I am back in my social groove, a new groove actually, for I've met some new friends. After months and months of looking at real estate ads, it dawned on me, maybe I need friends in my neighborhood, rather than to change my neighborhood to make new friends. I got online and started a meet-up group for boomers who want to get out more in Decatur. The response was amazing. Over sixty members in a few weeks. Many from outside the area who want to come to Decatur to be social. As great as that was, the best news is a small group of ladies who live close by joined and we get together on a regular basis. I love my friends outside the perimeter (that beltway that circles Atlanta) but it is a joy to drive only a few miles to have fun.  I plan to keep up with all my friends, but it is good to be grounded close to home.

So, to answer my question on what makes a home? Family, friendships, love and, for me, a pack of dogs. Those are treasures you can't replace. I like living with my dogs, our house is a happy place. I am more content here now since my list of friends close by is growing. And because I know my mother will read this, I love that we talk every night, even though we are miles apart.

I'll still worry myself sick when mother nature comes to visit. I'll pray for my safety, the safety of those I know, and those in the direct path of such a wicked turn of weather. My dogs and I will snuggle together and I will remember that home means love, and I will treasure that above all else.

Rascal. Oh to be a dog on a sunny afternoon!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dreaming In Pink

Chloe, Pretty In Pink

My morning ritual is to feed six dogs, run them into the yard, and put on a pot of coffee. Lately I've been drawn to Hawaiian Hazelnut. I like my coffee dark and strong. By the time I am ready to move into the sunroom and get to work at the computer, the dogs are ready to come in. My routine is the same every morning. I can't sleep in, because the dogs are restless and nudge me on the bed to feed them. No rest for the wicked. But that is what you get when you sleep with dogs.

Today was no different from yesterday. You can find me in my sunroom, perched in a vintage, barrel shaped white wicker chair, rose fabric tattered from too many dog paws wanting to play. I'd pitch the chair, but it is perfect for my seven pound Chihuahua, Chloe, to jump on and curl up behind my back. She keeps my posture straight and I love the warmth of her body snuggled next to mine.

I wanted to work on my new book this morning. Three years worth of writing has to be organized into tidy chapters and I am not tidy this morning. I am restless. The sky is grey again, dreary, cool. Work can wait. I need a distraction. It is better for me to look at houses online, than to hit We know where that got me.

My favorite color is pink. Girly, fun, sassy, sweet. The cover of my book, The Unfaithful Widow, is pink and white. A happy color for a widow memoir. That was important for me, since my book talks about hope not grief. It is hard to be sad surrounded by pink.

Pink is perfect for a dreary day. This morning I am dreaming of pink.

I love old pink cupboards, pink mirrors and large pink roses. I wish I were brave enough to paint my house a soft pink, but it is an older brick ranch with a split rail fence across the front yard, down by the street. Pink would be horrifying on this house. Yet, in my dreams I do see it painted a soft yellow that would be like the morning sun in the spring when the pink azaleas bloom. Painting my red brick house is something that I think about often. This may be the summer.

Should I paint my brick yellow since I am chicken to paint it pink?

“Why paint brick?” A horrified male friend almost shouted at me over lunch. “It will chip and peel.”

If only I'd be that lucky. I want a chippy, peely, old, soft yellow brick house, with a hint of brick peeking through. Now that is romantic to me! Sometimes guys just don't get it. My late husband would be mortified to know I'm thinking paint over brick. I'll wink at the heavens if I decide to do it and he'll know he's in my thoughts!

So, instead of working on my book this morning, I grabbed a second hot steaming cup of coffee and went up to Google pink houses. I didn't want just any pink house. I wanted to see what pink houses were for rent. I found beach houses, cottages, Victorian homes, all painted in shades of pink, from soft to bright, and most could be attained, for a rental fee, for a lovely vacation.

Vacation. Now that is a word I haven't used in a few years. Not since I adopted six dogs from my local animal shelter. It's next to impossible to travel and worry about that many dogs. The last trip I took, my pet sitter cost more than my plane ticket. I was so happy to get back to the pups, I vowed I would not leave them again.

But they don't stop me from wondering where I could go if I decided to pony up my petsitter's fee again.

This morning I am a dreamer, dreaming in pink.

Pink Rental Homes With Links To Their Webs.

 Pink Mango Cottage, Florida

Cape Charles


Martha's Vineyard

Top and Bottom Photo
House For Rent, Alvin, Tx
(not vacation, year round)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Haunted By My Cottage Dream

Why this blog when I have so many I write on already? Other than I am blog crazy, there is a real reason. A new place for a different rant.

I have to clear my head of some decorating demons and come to terms with the fact I may never move and, in reality, probably don't want to. Yet I am haunted daily by cottage homes, farm photos, kitchens with cupboards not cabinets, small gardens with picket fences, and roses growing on arbors. I dream of goats and vegetable gardens. The words gentleman farmer sound like a symphony to my ears. I want to sit on my wicker chair, surrounded by my dogs, on a large screen porch, and gaze at the moon. On rainy days, I want to smell the air, fresh and damp, and on sunny mornings, I want to listen for the sounds of nature. I have a fantasy life in another home other than my own. It is making me schizophrenic.

Stacks of decorating magazines and books spill off tables and chairs. I buy farm memoirs to see how others live. My boards on Pinterest grow in leaps and bounds, as I find photos I have to save for future reference. Visually I am overstimulated! I get in trouble regularly buying treasures I don't need for space I don't have. That is how I became an antique dealer years ago.

I spend too much time on, looking at houses, miles from where I live, in tiny towns with small populations, where I feel everyone bakes pies, and visits their neighbors. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to want to join a small community and live in an old farmhouse. The simple life, I tell myself.

Yet, I am more a city gal who wants to head out her front door and find great things to do within minutes of my driveway. I love quiet times in my house, but not in my surroundings. A confusing contradiction at best.

I look at houses more than I care to admit. Friends think I am crazy. They like where I live. It is a fun way to spend a day, a drive to the country to look at property. Old homes fill my head with dreams. Sometimes looking at another house makes me appreciate mine more. Sometimes I want desperately to move.

House ads don't always tell the truth.  I rarely have an agent take me to a property. I hate to waste their time. Most of the houses I like are empty, or I just drive by to see the outside, the neighborhood. Mostly I just look at photos online and think, what if?

But sometimes a beauty does appear that needs close attention.

Over the holidays I found the perfect little farm house on an acre of land. I called the listing agent and drove myself to look at the house. It was vacant. She told me to pull in the drive and to call her when I got home if I wanted to view the inside. I had not pressed to meet her, because the truth is, I am not in a position to buy.

The house made me want to buy it.

It was the farmhouse of my dreams on an acre of land. Built in the late 1800s, it was somewhat renovated and in charming live-in condition. I gathered this from peeking in the windows and looking at the photos online. Reality check. I knew the roof was twenty years old, the heating and air would need replacement, the windows needed glazing. There was a long list of things that would need to be addressed by any purchaser.  I have some of those same issues in my late 1940's ranch house and they worry me. I did not care this farmhouse needed work, as I looked across the street at other older homes that sat on acre lots, and visualized living there with my six dogs. The yard had a farm fence. My first thought was a better fence for the hounds.  I circled the house on foot and imagined entertaining friends on the huge patio with its brick fireplace. This could be for me.

The town, with its population of 700, was off  a main highway. You crossed railroad tracks to enter the area. Five small brick buildings made up the downtown. One building was for rent. Immediately I saw myself living there and renting the empty building for a shop. Never mind, I just closed my own small shop, in another small town, closer to my home, because it didn't work, and I ran out of money. The dream is always present.

Though the town is tiny, a university is a twenty minute drive away on the expressway. That seemed reasonable to one who was without reason on this afternoon.  Rural, yet close to culture. Perfect. I felt all my needs converge on that house.

I called the agent from my cell as I smiled back at the house.
"I want to see the inside. But I need to tell you, I have to wait to make an offer. And I'd need a short lease purchase." I had to buy time to to figure out how to buy this house.

"I'll run that by the seller and get back with you." The agent's words filled me with trepidation. Had I gone to far? My heart fluttered, with excitement or fear, I couldn't decide.

I was not in any position to buy a house. I had no money. I had my house that needed to sell, or rent, and I was in the middle of re-financing my house in Florida and could not legally enter into another contract until that loan closed. Make note: my kind of crazy runs deep.

The next day it rained so hard I could barely drive to meet my friend for lunch, five minutes from my house, in downtown Decatur, which is full of culture, restaurants, little shops, and a small town feel close to the big city.

What would I do in that tiny town of 700, off the highway, where I'd drive for miles to find a place to eat on a rainy day in Georgia?

Panic set in. Would the agent tell me the owner wanted to talk about a lease-purchase? OMG! What did I get myself into?

I called her after lunch to see what he said.

"I'm so sorry. He'd been out of town for a few weeks and had an offer  waiting in his e-mail. I didn't know that when we spoke the other day. He wants to try and work with it."

As soon as I hung up I was sad. I was also thrilled it was no longer something to toy with. However, I called the agent back a few weeks later to see what was happening with the offer. The house had not left my thoughts.

"It's under contract and will close in a few weeks."

I was sad again, against all reason.

I want to move, I don't want to move. I am addicted to houses like I am to my dogs. I've lived in my house for thirty years (give or take a year), first with my boyfriend, who became my husband twenty years into our live-in relationship. We had five years of married life here before he died in May 2008, a total of twenty-five years together in his house, that was our house, and is now my house.

My house is perfect for me, yet I dream of change. I have 3000 square feet of rambling ranch, full of art, painted cottage furniture, and dogs. My yard is private. My location is ideal. I've filled my house with things I love, yet I still long for something different. Or do I?

This blog will help me find my answers as I share the beauty of all I find, the work I do to make my ranch more cottage style on the outside, and a place to hoard all the photos I find online that are my downfall!

Demons need to be put to rest. This blog is my exorcism.

My farmhouse loved and lost. A blessing in disguise. Darn it.