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.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Single Hollyhock

Hollyhocks - Frederick Carl Frieseke

"As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and valorous sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them, both for their own sake, and for the sake of old-fashioned folks, who used to love them."
                                                                                                                                                                    Henry Ward Beecher 

I love this painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke and have a knock-off of it on canvas rolled away to be framed if I ever have enough wall space.  Oh to have a garden like the one he painted!

Hollyhocks are a favorite of mine.  At one time, a life-time ago, Hollyhocks bloomed over six feet tall in the back bed. Sadly they disappeared over time. Happily my huge rose bush with its tiny pink flowers took over the space years later.

Last summer when my  picket fence went up, I had help picking out flowers to plant from a charming gentlemen who worked part-time as a garden consultant at my local hardware store. He planted a single Hollyhock on the outside of the fence, where it bordered the sidewalk. I thought that was a most unusual place to plant a Hollyhock, remembering the years past and the size of the plants in my back yard. I didn't question it. He was the master, I was dolling out a bit of change for his help.

It didn't grow much last year. I couldn't image how this runt of a plant would grow six feet tall. This year it was still short. I waited and wondered how I would ever see it bloom.

Then to my amazement, there were buds, and a week later, a blossom. It finally dawned on me this was some sort of a dwarf hollyhock! No wonder he planted it by the fence!

At this point I need to remind myself to ask more questions of others and to reiterate I am lucky my flowers grow at all in my yard with my lack of gardening knowledge.

But still . . . I have a Hollyhock by my picket fence. One stunning black blossom nods at me as I walk down to admire the flowers that continue to surprise me with their beauty and willpower to thrive!

Isn't that what life is all about . .  the willpower to survive, to grow, and to bloom.  Every day there is something that has left my garden and something new that is lovely to replace it.

I am learning what seasoned gardeners have known. There are lessons to be found digging in the dirt . .  . I am coming at it late in life, but what a beautiful time to discover this.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Coming Soon - My Little Etsy Shop

Well, I am having withdrawal. No antique booth to tend to. I decided two months ago I needed to close my antique booths to concentrate on my writing. It was the right move. My shop days are behind me. But I still have so much to sell - and I am working on some jewelry. So, I am updating my old Etsy shop in hopes of listing some treasures for sale. So far I do what I do best - designed my logo. I am so good at setting things up - but slow in getting them in motion. So very me. I adore the process of finding graphics and pulling a look together. The actual act of listing, selling (or waiting to see if anything sells) makes me crazy. And if I love something - do I really want to sell it? A problem my entire life! A collector turned antique dealer is a questionable reality.

I've always loved gardens and flowers so that is where I will follow my heart. Making jewelry can be so relaxing between bouts of writing! My little shop will also sell vintage garden items.

Four years ago my jewelry line, Time In A Garden, was featured in The Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gift Shop. Vintage bug pins, chains, beads, and old watch parts made up necklaces and pins.  I found a few remaining pieces and plan to put them up later this week on Etsy. A sneak peek below. I hope to make some new designs with more bling - garden bling! Stay tuned.

Note: When you see the photos below remember I love whimsy in everything!



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My David Austin Rose Is Blooming!

Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Nothing says cottage garden more than roses to me. I want old fashion English roses that look like the roses in magazines, climbing over arbors, twining through picket fences.
My wish came true today. In a small way. But big enough to fill my heart with the beauty I covet. And it is growing in my back yard.
My very own David Austin rose is in full regalia with blossoms and buds ready to burst open at any moment.
Now, if I were a true gardener, I could tell you the name of this rose. But I don't have a clue. It was purchased twenty years ago from a catalog. The photo was one of many that I had trouble deciding on. I knew pink was a must.
It took years to bloom. The rose is planted next to the back of the house. My late husband built a huge trellis for me. The vines took hold of the wood railings and started to climb high. But the rose never had a single flower.
Did you fertilize it? you might ask. My answer is no. I did nothing to help this English lady blossom.
I just waited.
And wondered.
Back when my husband was alive he was not happy with the bush. It reached out far into the yard with huge thick thorns that stuck him as he rode by on the lawnmower. There may not have been flowers, but the branches had a life of their own. He pruned it back a few times and tucked the  branches back on the trellis, hoping to contain it. Sometimes cutting it back further than he should at times when pruning was not recommended.
Still the rose bush held its own coming back each year. But no blooms.
The year after my husband died, I had to put a French drain in next to the foundation of the house. There was water in my basement. The trellis was moved. The rose stayed in place.
"Cut that rose bush when you dig the ditch and it is off with your heads!" I told my handyman and his crew as I wagged a finger in their faces.
The rose survived the French drain.
It bloomed the following year. And has had a rose or two on it each year since.
This year it is taking me by surprise.
Huge blooms. Many buds.
My rose bush. Neglected. Managed to grow despite adversity and is now a thing of beauty.
I know there is a life lesson there.
For now I'm just going to watch with awe.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow?

Obviously Mistress Mary had someone helping her in the garden, looking that lovely and clean, her linen clothes impeccable  . . . or all she did was water her plants. I have had two Monday mornings out in my yard, weeding, planting, hauling debris in the proper paper sacks to the curb for the trash to pick up, all the while . . . looking like something that had rolled in the mud.

I garden like I paint.

Half of what I do lands on me.

Perhaps that is part of the fun. Maybe Mistress Mary would not look so solemn if she allowed Mother Nature to make her a little dirty.

Then she would be grinning like I do when I finish my rounds in the yard.

This year my resolve is to get my gardens in shape. It started last spring with a picket fence out front. A stately, yet cottage style, picket fence in natural wood and a  lovely garden cement maiden that would make any yard proud. I had help planting a few Knock Out roses, a few large Hydrangea plants that cost more than a meal at a fine restaurant, but a feast for the eyes and soul, more than any entrĂ©e I've devoured. (Although I do enjoy the instant gratification of a wonderful meal in a lovely setting with a glass of wine shared with friends.) The garden bed by my picket fence started to take shape.

Imagine how excited I was to see my roses start to bloom a week ago, their pretty faces peeking through the pickets of my fence. I clapped my hands with joy and did a happy dance. I decided I needed more roses, more flowers, more sweet charm.

I found roses one rainy afternoon that spoke to me as I went through the garden section of Home Depot, looking for plants as table decorations for an writer's event I had volunteered to do the floral table arrangements for the following week. I decided not to buy cut flowers at their expense, but to pay for the flowers myself, buy something I could take home after the event, and plant in my yard.

The flowers would be a lovely reminder of the friendships from that evening, but it would also get me off my lazy butt to plant in my yard. You just can't leave plants in the trunk of your car for any length of time! So the following Monday found me digging in the dirt.

I had the time of my life. The soil was easy to work, it had not gotten parched from the heat, but was delightfully damp from all the rain we had. Did someone say use gloves? I never do. I love to feel the dirt between my fingers, makes me more one with nature. Also makes for a heck of a lot of scrubbing to get nails clean again. I dig deep and claw at the ground to pull old roots, ivy, and anything in my way.

Life is changing for me again this year. I am growing, reaching in new directions, just like my roses. I've weeded out what needed to go in my life so I can branch out to do more of the things I want. I am a hanger-on, it is time to let go. Antiques have always been a love of mine, and they still are. But I want to buy for myself when I get a whim, not buy for resale. So I've closed my antique booths and the words antique dealer are off my resume, replaced with  . . sometimes antique dealer. (I let go slowly!)  My selling will be private when the mood strikes. Not having a booth to tend to will give me time to work in my garden, write my books, relax with the dogs.

Letting go of things can be difficult, but if you choose wisely, what goes, what stays, the feeling is euphoric. Or maybe it is just the feel of the soil, the sweat from working hard, breathing in fresh air, exercise, all the things that make you feel physically great, and one with the universe.

My universe sends me signs. I swear the roses spoke to me as I packed the soil around them.  Plant more is what I heard. You'll find me next at a favorite shop that sells fragrant herbs. What is a garden without Rosemary and Lavender?  

A few photos of my roses. Small, lovely, but my little garden that I will tend to with joy! It is a start . . . and with everything in life, the first step is starting. Stay tuned to see how we grow.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Skip & A Hop From Madness

Dreaming In Brown
(photo Pinterest)


I woke up today to a dark sky and rain. We've had beautiful spring-like weather the last week, a huge contrast to the horrible winter snow that kept visiting my neck of the woods. Soft pink blossoms are on my fruit trees, a few daffodils have poked through the weeds in my overgrown flower beds, my dogs ran joyfully through the yard. This morning, six dogs stood in my kitchen doorway with me as we looked out at the wet patio. Only one dog would venture out, the rest turned and trotted back to the sunroom. I can only image how this day will go!

My coffee was ready so I filled a cup and sat down at the computer. Yes, I failed to mention, the dogs did get fed. They do not allow me to do my thing until their thing is done. Their thing is dog kibble before my coffee. The rain is making me feel restless. Is it time for change again?

I took a sip of my lovely warm coffee, looked at the dogs sleeping on the couch behind me, the chair next to me, and Chloe, the little Chi, tucked behind me in my wicker chair. Then I went to Google and typed in Pinterest. I needed eye candy to brighten my morning. What I got was a heap of trouble brewing as the Cottage In My Mind started to change its style. A thought came to me as I looked at photos - not of my beloved old painted furniture - but of  brown furniture as my antique dealer friends and I call it. Not lovely soft pastel cupboards, the paint with a patina only age could bring - but wood, stained lightly, darkly, with only a patina that age could bring.  Ah, is there anything better than a patina from age. . .

A thought crossed my mind briefly. Why not have an estate sale - sell everything - and start over? A second thought followed that. . . . I have finally lost my mind. This is the second time within less than a month I have seriously thought about a different theme throughout my house. I wrote about a more colorful bohemian European style change on my Sparkle Blog titled Post-Op Delirium. Maybe that title spells out what is wrong with me. I had surgery mid February and am still in a holding pattern while I mend. (I am fine thank you if you asked - just can't move furniture, work in the yard, and do the heavy things that tire me out so I stop thinking of how to change my house!)

There is a truth in all of this that I need to recognize. Perhaps you have the same problem with things that excite you. Mine is decorating and houses (oh yes, and six dogs, how did I forget?) with others it could be clothes and shoes, or men, or travel, whatever your passion is. If you love something is there ever enough?

I remember my first house, a charming forties bungalow, I loved loved loved it, until I filled it up. I needed more rooms. I still had 'stuff' - but I had no space. For some stupid reason, I never worry I don't have money. . . but I do panic when I run out of room to put things. There is always a piece of furniture, a photo, that triggers, not just the yearning to own it, but a series of other items that flash through my brain, to design an entire room around it.

My psychic shopping experience, I used to label it. Back when I did antique shows, and still had space to add things to my ranch house, I could see an antique and within the week, I found and purchased everything I needed to set up my booth or redecorate my house. I would be out on an errand and suddenly a shop would catch my eye and I'd think, I need to stop there. I'd pull in and find just what I needed to complete the room in my head (which has now grown to the cottage in my mind). I was convinced it was a psychic experience, because I'd find things when I hadn't planned to shop. Yet on days  I set out to look for a treasure, I'd find nothing. That lasted for a few years.

I thought my talent for psychic shopping had left me. Until. . .

It happened this spring when I did my ranch re-do. Yes, my handyman did the physical changes, but I knew I needed to swap out a few old pieces for a few new old pieces. I had a dresser in mind I'd seen in a book, a sweet Eastlake piece with a tall gingerbread trimmed mirror. I dreamed of that dresser. I never thought I'd find it.

Then one afternoon I went to a different town to shop with friends. We'd been to three shops and nothing appealed to me, nothing exciting, nothing to buy. Our last stop sparked something in my brain (deranged as it is) that made me know this was the place I'd find what I needed. The first piece of furniture as I walked into the shop, was a version of that Eastlake dresser. I bought it. (FYI, so you know my crazy runs deep, it is in my back shed. I have no place for it. . . just yet).  Two booths later, I found the perfect pieces for my kitchen. Bought them too. I acted like a rich gal rather than a nut case with no money, but big ideas.  The lady at the desk treated me with respect. I dropped a bundle that day. Pleased I'd found exactly what I needed, I had to return to pick up my purchases a few days later. I looked and looked, wanting to find something more that I loved (those of you addicted to the chase will recognize that feeling). Nothing. Nothing excited me. Nothing made me think . . . maybe. My psychic shopping gene found exactly what I needed for my kitchen (Okay, and a piece I didn't need, but dreamed of!) and then it was over.

The purpose of this post, rambling on like it is, I've managed to get my desire for change under control for the moment. The estate sale sign is back where it belongs - hidden far from my view. The rain is still pouring down, the sky a little lighter, the tension of being slightly bored, recovering from surgery, wanting to do everything, and not able to do much at all to move things around in my house, has been replaced by something I can handle. Food.

I wonder what I can eat now. Is there something fun in the fridge?

Sometimes a bit of craziness is a great way to pass time. Dreaming is a good thing. But I do know, eating is my answer today. Excuse me while I head to the kitchen. Oh look, there are two lovely painted cupboards against the wall, that I found against all odds, but thanks to my psychic abilities. I love love love them.

Silly me. I love things just the way the are in my house. What was I thinking?

My Happy Dance
I haven't given up on the farmhouse either.
If you are going to dream, take it all in!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Cottage Winter Wonderland And A Book Launch

The lady stands guard in my back yard, watching over all, and smiling as the seasons change. She is a constant with her grace and beauty in any weather. A reminder to me to stay calm.

I have not posted here since spring. At that time I was planting roses and delighting in work being done on my ranch house. Then I do what I do best, I took a spin in another direction. I had an idea for a book, and the last months had me working at the computer, the work on my house at a standstill. This week, in the middle of an ice storm that has kept me locked in my house for several days, my book "Danger In Her Words" was published and available on Amazon on February 12. The Kindle version will be up for sale next week.

My character Susan moved from the city of Atlanta to a fictional town to live in her dream farmhouse, a late 1800s Victorian cottage on two acres of land in a tiny town with a population of 323. The cottage in my mind became a reality in my book. The farmhouse was a mixture of all the cottages I've looked at over the past two years. It was fun to have a romantic, sexy, bit of a thriller, take place in an environment I dream about.

Did I finally come to peace with my ranch house, or do I still dream of cottages at night? I think my house fantasy still lives on, although I am more in love with my old surroundings since I've made some changes.

My house is a mess. In the middle of the changes, when I changed course, things were left undone. I still need to hang paintings, move cupboards, and do the final decorating I love to do. Today I finally took down my Christmas trees. I am back on track...a little...somewhat...for me, a few steps forward.

A friend made a suggestion that started new plans for me, a garden fantasy. She visited my house for the first time, a few days before the snow drifted in. I am slow to invite people into my house, six dogs are a bit overwhelming for others. For me it is a lifestyle I love. My friend met the dogs and, after the initial bit of bedlam, they settled down, and we walked out to my deck and patio. She looked around at all the dried branches, plants that were dormant, bushes that might be dead. I am not a gardener, but hope for the best, expect the miracle of life to continue in nature on its own.  Her words, like music to my ears, "What a perfect spot to have a spring book launch! With a bit of work this place will be lovely."  I refrained from saying that with no work, the yard is lovely with established beds in the spring and summer. But she planted an idea. I may just have my book launch, or at least a garden book signing for my friends, when the winter weather has vanished and spring peeks in to say hello.

I will also post photos of my decorating as I start to pull it and myself together.

And what about my book? Here is a bit of a blurb.

A TV sitcom pitch gone wrong turns dog-column writer Susan Meyers in a tailspin. Sex Sells was the topic of the day at the writers’ convention. Susan decided to try something new and a steamy romantic novel seemed just the answer. A widow who hadn’t dated in three years, Susan was out of practice with men and sex. She turned to an online dating site to find inspiration for her book and unleashed a predator with the words she wrote. Tucked an hour away from her friends in a small town where she kept to herself, with only her tiny dog for company, Susan felt safe from the world. Little did she know her life was about to change. 

A romp of a story about writing and finding yourself in this book within a book. If you love girl-talk, farmhouses, antiques, country towns, a touch of murder, a sprinkle of suspense, and a bit of naughty fun, come join Susan as she learns about life from her character Jamie.  Two widows looking for love in all the wrong places might still get it right if they live long enough.
The yard in winter. We'll see how it looks this spring! I see planters of fragrant herbs on my deck and the old garden furniture placed a bit more artistically. One can never have too many garden statues, and I am working on a plan to make my yard the perfect cottage garden, if not with flowers, than with garden art. A little wine, some cucumber sandwiches, and cheese straws, would be lovely for an old fashion book signing. Ha! Who am I kidding. I'll want my Margaritas and chips. . .It is fun to dream and sometimes dreams do come true