Sunday, July 23, 2017
Glutton for punishment, me: I've been back on the screen porch with :::::gasp!::::: the electric drill. Yeah, stand back everyone and keep your hands inside the windows. Okay, it wasn't that bad. Really. I was kinda playing, to be perfectly honest. You can blame it on the teapot.
Teapot? Well, have you ever found something that Spoke To You and that said Inspiration with a capital i? I've got one of those: it's a ratty old much-used and slightly abused teapot that I found at the Bay St. Louis Goodwill about 30 years ago. I saw it and just fell in love because it made stories in my head. Or I could be more adult about it and say that "excited my imagination." Whatever.
It's nothing fancy really: Porcelier Vitreous Hand Dec. China Made in USA. It was made in the late 1930's or thereabouts. You can easily find a perfectly good whole one on eBay for under $60 (closer to $25 if you shop carefully). But I paid only about 50 cents for mine, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's a squatty round thing decorated in blue and brown with geese flying over cattails. Mine has got a fairly decent crack at the base and someone has replaced the lid with one that doesn't match at all (although the color is similar enough) but that almost fits. The lid was broken in two at some point but someone cared to repair it; just like someone cared enough to find a lid for the teapot so that it could still serve its purpose.
These days, people too easily toss what isn't perfect or even what they just don't like. We waste casually and carelessly. But whoever previously owned this teapot was willing to use what they had and they did their best to make things whole. This odd teapot was obviously a thing of real value to someone. That's what I admire. That's what makes stories in my head. And now it's something of great value to me.
Back in the day, lots of people came from the big cities--New Orleans or Memphis or Jackson--to vacation on the Gulf Coast, believing it was cooler near the water. Bay St. Louis was a great place for that and some folks set up "camps"--summer homes, cabins, or cottages. They'd bring extra stuff, slightly worn, from home--things that were still functional but might not be fancy anymore, things that you wouldn't necessarily want to show to guests but that were fine in a more relaxed atmosphere. This teapot kinda feels like that, and I like to believe that it was from someone's camp. I love the idea of an old camp house from the earlier parts of the 1900's And that makes stories in my head, too.
When I finally let go of the porch furniture that I didn't like (although my mother loved it) at my yard sale last week, it freed up a lot of space. I realized that I had to let it go because I have a peculiar habit that is much more usually common to cats than humans: when something seems like poo, I cover it up. It's unconscious really. I just do it without realizing. For a number of years, I kept covering that table and chairs over, over and over again. If you look at the second picture in this post, you'll see what I mean--you can just barely discern the corner of a green-painted chair somewhere under the blue bubblewrap bundle. Yeah, poo. It had to go.....so I sold a cast iron table, two chairs (one damaged badly), and bench for a grand total of $10. And I'm not even sorry.
When I hung up that drying pole and shelf yesterday, I went back in memory to a Bay St. Louis camp house where I went to a yard sale once. It felt like a comfortable and comforting place. Things there were well-used and re-used and repaired. I remember how someone had turned an old chifforobe into a cedar closet by literally building it into a wall in the garage. And I thought that was incredibly cool. I just love stuff like that. In my heart, my very fondest wish is to do things that way. In reality, I simply can't because I lack strength, skills, and assistance.
But there are still some things I can do. That's why I meditated on my teapot. Ohhhhhmmmm! (Well, not really, but I was thinking about it.) And I began to envision a sort of camp cottage atmosphere for my porch. There's still yard sale stuff out there that didn't sell and that I haven't put away yet, so I started to play. There was a little dressing table that has seen better days that I put in one corner--I can kinda see using that as a place to keep seedlings, and that's something I've been wanting. I found a little shelf to put on the table, and some pretty plant pots, too, and a nifty candle stand for light. I am so pleased that this stuff didn't sell because that means I've got "toys" to play with!
Things may or may not stay where I've got them but that's okay because on the other side of the porch, I've got big plastic storage boxes for packing materials--not very camp-like but necessary. Life is full of checks and balances, and it's always in flux. I just want to see if I can find that camp house atmosphere, and I think that maybe I can.
Here's the big deal idea: I've been thinking about putting a daybed sort of thing on the porch. It's really humid all year here in South Mississippi, so a mattress won't exactly work (think nasty mold) but if I found a metal daybed, I could use an old door (I have several) for making a seat.....yeah, the imagination is working overtime now. I'm seriously gonna advertise on FreeCycle. Possibly nothing will happen because the local FreeCycle is really dead but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Might as well try.
And, oh yeah, I mentioned the electric drill: I used it to hang up an old handmade corner shelf. Looks like maybe it was a school project--you know the kind of thing they used to make as a Gift for Mom or whatever. That didn't sell either. I thought I could maybe put some plants there, too. And maybe one of the broken teapots that also didn't sell.....at the end of the day, there is a good reason for the way things work out. I believe that because I pray for things to happen the way they should, and I know God answers.
I like the way things are shaping up. This is probably gonna take awhile. But that's okay, too. In the meantime, I'm gonna just keep saying my prayers for the right stuff to show up when I need it.
Life is good.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Done. Pole for drying clothes and shelf for Whatever. Installed. Did it. But I have a confession to make.....well, more than one; maybe at least two.
First of all, I made a poor job of it, although I tried my best. I'm pretty sure that I used the wrong sort of screws but I used what I had at hand. And I know for a fact that I had trouble with the drill. That's the second thing (and this is kinda big): I'm scared of my electric drill. Seriously.
I was the only kid in a family with three domineering adults, so I was always in somebody's way. I learned to keep my nose to myself, particularly when my stepdad was using tools because I was Absolutely Never allowed anywhere near. It was either dangerous or dirty, and it certainly wasn't for girls. He wasn't very fond of my presence generally in any case.
My stepfather made only one single exception to the No Tools rule and that was teaching me to change a tire on the car. I wasn't allowed to get my driver's license until I could pass Dad's Tire Changing Test. He made me practice over and over until he was satisfied that I could do the thing properly because he said my safety could someday depend upon it.
Oddly enough, several years later, my mother and I were driving through the middle of the NASA Buffer Zone when a tire went flat. No one lives in the Buffer Zone. It's a lonely place. Isolated. Dense forest. Kinda very worrisome. We were literally ten miles from anywhere in any direction you might care to name. But I was happy that I knew what to do with the tire. And my mother said that I Must NOT. We should wait for someone to come by. After 45 minutes, I grew tired of being obedient and I defied my mother--a rare thing indeed. I said nothing. I simply exited the car, opened the trunk, got out the jack, and made a very proper job of changing the tire myself, just the way Dad taught me.
My mother was utterly livid. She stood over me the entire time I was working, telling me that nice girls didn't change tires and that any decent female would wait for a man to change the tire correctly. It couldn't be safe if a woman did the work. She called me a few unfair and untrue names, too, that made it clear that she called my femininity into question. I never said a word. It was hard to keep quiet. I got very dirty indeed, and the tire was too heavy for me but I moved it. I broke my fingernails and scraped my hands but I changed that tire. After I had finished changing the tire and putting the tools back where they belonged, I got back into the car while my mother continued raving. And I waited for her to drive on which, after waiting fruitlessly for another 15 minutes to see if a man might stop to check on our safety (no one did), eventually she started the car. She was furious with me for months afterward and told anyone who would listen how I had humiliated her.
The Flat Tire Incident still hurts to think of now, and I guess I do inevitably think of it whenever I use tools. The funny thing is that I still feel kinda bad that I let my mother down even though I was trying to do the right thing to keep us safe on that lonely stretch of road where wild boars and sometimes strange people with guns roamed.
My family was very old-fashioned, even for the days I grew up in. Good Girls simply didn't touch tools.
When I was in college, I made a second small act of defiance: I went to the dollar store and bought a little tool box, a hammer, screwdriver set, and a tiny assortment of screws and nails because I wanted to hang pictures and curtains in my dorm room. I didn't tell my folks for awhile about that. Fortunately, when they did find out, they were reasonable this time, and they decided that it might be sensible after all since I wasn't making a big deal about it myself.
It was only many years later that my stepfather relented and also regretted deeply that I had not learned how to handle tools. I had at that time, due to complicated circumstances, moved into a partially gutted mobile home--no floors laid, no doors hung, cabinets sitting on the floor instead of hanging on the walls, and more--and my parents' health prevented them helping me. I had no choice but to learn a whole bunch of stuff the hard way on my own--in other words, by screwing up. Dad apologized sincerely because he finally wanted to teach me but his dementia was advancing so fast that he could no longer tell one screwdriver from another.
I also had to try to learn to use yard tools shortly thereafter when Dad passed on. And that I could not do. After a summer of trying desperately to keep more than two acres of grass cut using a riding lawn mower, I essentially had a nervous breakdown. The mower was just too frightening. A neighbor told me that every time he saw me sitting on the mower, I looked like I was perched atop a 10 ton bomb that was about to go off any second. Well, that's fair enough, because that's precisely how it seemed. I still feel sick every time I hear a mower, and it's hours before I recover my calm. There are some things in life that we have to accept; I'm never gonna be able to mow a lawn, that's for sure. Shogenai.
Anyway, I've gone rabbiting off topic again. But let me say this: I loved my parents. And they meant well. But they were harsh sometimes and their expectations weren't always the best. I have forgiven them but I do still remember. And one of the things that brings on memories is when I have to use that scary drill. The batteries are dying on the cordless drills so I didn't have much choice today. It was the electric drill or an old-fashioned screwdriver, and I didn't have the strength for the latter.
The good news is that I now have a Whatever shelf and a drying pole. The pole is actually a nice curtain pole that someone gave me instead of throwing it out--I just love stuff like that. It had wooden rings with it, too, and I've saved those in my Goodie Box for a rainy day; never know when I'll need them for some other little project. The shelf is a cut-off bit of plywood that has been used and re-used in half a dozen different projects. It's too long really for use on the porch but I don't see any point in cutting it shorter.....after all, I'd have to use the jigsaw (and that's scary, too).
The point is that I did it. I put up the brackets; I attached the pole and the wood; I've got what I need. God is good. Yes, I prayed about it. We're supposed to pray about everything. And I'm sure God understands that humans tend to be more frail and frightened than they'd care to be.
Ah well, we live and we learn. And sometimes we have to stare the past in the face so we can move forward. Tools are a good thing. Maybe I just need some more confidence. And I also need to figure out how to work those turnbuckles for the clothesline. Eeeeeek!
Tomorrow is another day.
Life is good.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Shogenai. Japanese word. Typically Japanese concept. It essentially means "nothing can be done." It's a useful word to know and, sometimes, an even more useful attitude to adopt.
People tend to misunderstand, though. In fact, when I was checking my spelling for the term (sometimes it is spelled with a U as Shougenai but either way appears to be correct) today, I ran across a blog with a scathing indictment of Shogenai which defined it as a response of round-shouldered defeatism when the least degree of difficulty presents itself. And that would be Wrong. Not just wrong but Wrong.
Shogenai is actually a position of strength in adversity. You look things in the eye; you see clearly that there's nothing you can usefully do; you say okay this is what it is; and you move on doing the best you can with what you are able to do. That's not defeat. It's common sense. It's Wabi Sabi (basically means using whatever imperfect stuff you've got in the very best way you can), too. Stuff is what it is. And you deal with it.
I was thinking about that notion earlier today because I don't like the way the central AC unit is running. It's leaking water into the vent void. Although there's a sump pump to carry the wet off, it sometimes sounds like Niagara Falls is busy in there, and it can get ahead of what the pump is able to handle. That worries me. Nobody wants a waterfall in the middle of the house. My good neighbor had a go at dealing with this problem late last summer when the leak was so bad that the hallway flooded but he couldn't solve the mystery. And I can't afford to pay anyone else to attempt to do so. So, for the time being, it's a matter of Shogenai. I can't deal with it, so I'm just gonna have to work around it.
And that brought me to another instance of Shogenai: my clothesline. I don't like it. It's installed wrong. It's in the wrong place. It annoys me. (Read this post.) I haven't got the strength or the skills to fix it, and I'm for sure not gonna ask anyone else to do it. Shogenai.
But running the dryer doesn't make sense right now. I don't wanna run the AC more than I have to and it's 95+ every day. If the dryer is going, it's gonna make the AC work harder and I don't want that. But I'm behind on the laundry and now that I've got detergent, I need to get busy. Right? So this morning I determined to use my faulty clothesline for its intended purpose. It may not be what I want and it may not be where I want but it can still be used. I can live with it. Shogenai.
So I got to work. It was kinda refreshing to see things drying in the sun.....until I realized that the "Old Number 7" had kicked in. I'm not sure where that silly name comes from but it's what a lot of folks around here call the typical South Mississippi summer weather forecast--in other words, you've gotta expect thunderstorms Every Afternoon (no kidding!) between around 1 and 5. Yeah. Laundry on the line. Rain. I can bring the laundry in off the line. Shogenai.
Now there are piles of wet wash reposing on the screen porch. But I'm refusing to just accept this one. There is stuff I can do, and that's still Shogenai. First off, once the rain quits, the laundry is going back on the line. Then I'm gonna do something more because there is stuff I can do. I've been digging around in my Goodie Box (it's an old file cabinet where I keep parts and other worthwhile stuff). I found a big manila envelope that has been sitting in the Box for a few years now. I was keeping it until I could move the clothesline so I could renovate the thing properly. But it's time to Shogenai: I accept that I am not gonna move it, so I'd better fix it right where it is. That envelope has a set of turnbuckles that I bought online. Now I've just gotta figure out how to use them. See? Shogenai isn't defeat. It's common sense.
Do I know how to use turnbuckles? Not a clue! So it may take me a few days to figure out the turnbuckle stuff and maybe I'll need some new clothesline. I don't know. I'll get to that soon as I can, and that's okay because there's something else I Can do in the meanwhile. I know how to install shelf brackets. And it just so happens that I bought some on clearance last autumn. I didn't know at the time what I'd do with them but the bargain was too good to resist (75% off!) since I had enough cash to pay for it. I believe in buying in advance of need when possible; and certainly any sensible person knows they're gonna need shelf brackets sometime somewhere somehow. Two of the brackets that I bought are the type that will hold a pole. Guess what I need today? Some kind of clothes pole on the porch to hold that damp laundry temporarily. It's sensible. And I can put a shelf over the top of the brackets to hold Whatever. Believe me, there's always Whatever on my porch. Surely you have a similar problem on yours.
Do I have a pole? I dunno. But I'm not worried. Probably there's something in the workshop that will do. Certainly there should be since that's the sort of thing I wouldn't throw out. I know that there was one but I used that pole and the end of a cut-off shelf to make a demilune table. Really. Do I know how to make furniture? Of course not. Why should that stop me? (There's a picture of the table by my basket chair in this post from last year when I was planning to move furniture.) I don't always know what I'm gonna do with stuff but, Shogenai, I keep it. Eventually I need it or else someone else does. My theory: It's cheaper to keep it. Works for me.
Brackets, turnbuckles, various screws. This is gonna be fun!
The thing is, you've gotta know your own mind and your own skills. There will always be stuff you don't like, stuff you can't do, stuff you can't afford. That's Shogenai. It's where you take that Wabi Sabi situation from there that's important. Now I'm gonna go find my power drill and we'll see what one disabled little old lady can accomplish.
Give in but don't give up.
Life is good.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Ever since I posted the pictures of my room yesterday, I've been thinking how I missed just one thing, and it was a very important thing: Granny's dresser. The room, being small and rather stuffed with furniture (which is the way I like it, thank you very much), wasn't easy to take pictures of and I.....well, I just plain didn't think of it.
Lots of people seem to have access to heirloom furniture--things passed down from one generation to the next. That's something I've always admired. It's something that I didn't have and wished I did. It was only because my sister was able to share them with me that I have my grandfather's highboy bureau (which lives usefully, if unceremoniously, in the bathroom) and my grandmother's dresser.
Granny and Andrew (that's what I always called them) adopted my infant father when they were nearly 40 years old and thought that they could have no children of their own. A surprise daughter was born a year later. They were immigrants--farm people from the Oulde Sod, Ireland, who continued to farm in the US--and they worked hard all their long lives.
Granny was, my mother always reminded me, a raw-boned, gangly, awkward, graceless woman. Mother could not understand why Granny had chosen such a dainty dresser for herself. If Granny stood up straight, she wouldn't be able to see her face in the mirror because she was too tall. And not being pretty, why should she need pretty furniture?
You know what? I believe that my mother's not-too-kind description is precisely why Granny would have chosen such a thing. We all have to keep a dream tucked in our hearts, and we have to be able to imagine ourselves as something whimsical and charming, especially when our lives are not. It refreshes the spirit and gives us strength for moving forward. That's why I say: Good going, Granny! You were really brave and wise!
And you know what else? No matter how I bad I might seem looking back at myself in any other mirror, I always look nice in the mirror on Granny's dresser.
Life is good.
Monday, July 17, 2017
This past week has been a roller coaster, and I'm glad that I took the ride. But, getting real: I'm exhausted. My disability does not allow for over-tiredness and I'm very tired. I took yesterday for rest, and it wasn't nearly enough. But I have much, much, much to do; and it has to be done Now.
The whole house is in an uproar but cleaning is out of the question. And the mess leaves me feeling like a bird in flight with no place to land. But I know something.....something my mother taught me.
When I was a kid we moved a lot. I mean A Lot. I went to about a dozen schools by the time I graduated high school and, in fact, I attended high school in three different US states. When I started college, I was no different from my family--I moved house again and again and again. I can't give you exact numbers on some things but I know I've lived in 9 states and I quit counting moves after the 25th.
What my mother taught me is that when life is in an uproar, you tidy the bedroom before you do anything else. Don't worry about clean. Think of peace. If you have a peaceful place to lay your head to rest, then everything else will work out. That's the secret.
So this morning when I was about to despair of which thing to tackle first, I remembered my mother's wisdom. I got clean sheets and changed the bed. I put the laundry in a basket and took it to the washer. I made sure small things were where they belonged. The dresser drawers and the closet were already tidy--it's my own odd quirk: I will leave Huge messes in the middle of a room but stuff behind doors and in drawers is nearly always perfectly neat. I did Not vacuum or dust; that's cleaning, and it can be done whenever. This was about peace.
It only took a few minutes but now when I pass by the bedroom door, I see calm. I see inspiration that, yes, there's order in the universe. I see encouragement. And I see the possibility of rest.
Here's my girly pink room. Pink was my mother's color, not mine, but that's okay.
The room is small but the house is small, and that's okay, too.
Yes, it is old-fashioned and a bit busy but that cheers my heart, and that's a very good thing indeed.
This is my idea of a guest room in a grandma's house. I had to imagine it for myself because, despite an excess of grandparents (I had various extras--long story, never mind), I never had a grandma's house to visit and it's something that I longed for as a kid. When you're an adult you can still satisfy childish longings sometimes so that's precisely what I did. It's restful; it's fun; it's a good place. And, yes, most of the stuff came from years of searching yard sales and flea markets.
But here's what I wanted to say before I went chasing wild rabbits across fields of thought: If you have one settled peaceful location for rest, you can settle yourself and get ready to work at the things that are unsettled.
Life is good.
I can go get busy now that I have a place of peace.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
I cannot begin to merit the kindness that I have been shown in this past day.
Yesterday evening, my good neighbor decided to take me shopping, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. He bought me the things I really need and which, in many cases, I have been out of altogether: shampoo and toothpaste and laundry soap and dish soap and hand soap (as you can see, soap has been a major problem) and vitamins and tea and.....when I picked up a 4 roll pack of toilet paper, he put it back and replaced it with a 24 roll pack. I was over-whelmed and still am. When a person is so far behind in need, it's impossible to see how to catch up. My good neighbor made that possible for me. This has taken a worry off my mind.
And today, while I was worn out from the yard sale and trying to plan my next move, the phone rang. It was another of my very good neighbors. Her sister had come from out of state and had a huge food donation. She wanted to share half with me. I've mentioned here before that I've been doing without but I haven't always said quite how hard it's been (I was gonna say just now but it's beside the point), This kindness is beyond measure. Two kinds of potatoes, two of grapes, two of apples, peppers, onions, several kinds of tomatoes, a pineapple, a large cake, a big box of mini muffins, a veggie platter, a bag of broccoli. In these past couple of months, it's probably broccoli that I've missed the most.
I am deeply and richly blessed. God really does know what we need and he provides--sometimes it's just enough and then other times it is showers and floods of blessings. The last 24 hours have been the latter.
I'm gonna have to come up with some great plans about how I can cook and freeze all this goodness. That's part of showing gratitude for blessings; we have to use them.
Maybe the yard sale didn't go so very well. But that doesn't matter. I got just as much as I needed. And God has moved the hearts of these dear people to goodness and sharing; that makes it possible for me to go forward. When one door closes, another truly does open.
Life is good.
Well, it has been a long road.
Back in 2016, I showed ya'll the Big Hairy Mess (this post) that was my screen porch. And earlier this year (and this one), I showed ya'll my little progress. Things seemed to be looking up, but then the cat decided that the porch would be a great place to die; so, when there was absolutely nothing more I could do for Daisy, I gave her to God and he promptly gave her right back again (this post, too) so she has decided to move back into the house and is not interested in the porch anymore, not even one little bit. A lot has happened with that porch. If you scroll back just a bit you'll see my journey from this past week as I prepared a very hurried and harried yard sale. It was Hard. Very Hard.
Met some very nice folks. One couple felt moved to lay hands on me and pray for healing--I never told them I had a problem but they kindly cared to listen to the Holy Spirit. I was grateful. Had a bunch of people drive up the driveway and leave without ever stopping. Sold a few things. Not a bad day, although it was very hot and humid.
And, I've gotta tell you, the payoff was just enough. But no more. I figured that I took in about $75. That will pay the balance of the electric bill and I should still have enough to pay the interest on my pawn. Money is still gonna be tight.
But.....here's the deal: I'm Not Done. I'm gonna do it again, Heaven help me. Really: Heaven, help me!
Only this time.....wait for it.....the sale is gonna have to happen in the workshop. And the workshop is (gasp!) infinitely messier than the porch ever thought of being! And it is very, very much larger. It is bigger than the house. Oh my goodness. I am probably gonna be prone to just about as many "vapor fits" as I was with the porch.
I still believe that this is all Good Stuff happening. And the porch is well on the way to becoming something New and Better. After all, I sold that furniture that I didn't want (for a scandalously low price) so there's no going backward. I have plans! Don't know how I can make them work but plans are good.
And the stuff I've already price-marked can simply be added to the next sale. Whew. More hard work on the way.
I'm still saying my prayers.
Life is good.