Thursday, November 20, 2014


Most folks take one look at my blonde hair and instantly write me off as a blithering idiot. Like yesterday, when the Home Depot guy launched into a 10 minute tutorial on slab vs. pre-hung doors.

"I know the difference," I said, impatiently. Hoping to shut him up.

"You do?" He replied, more than a wee bit shocked.

It's always a surprise to people that I can handle most fixer upper projects all by my lonesome. I can wire my own light fixtures, install a door if I have to. And... I'm a ceramic tile expert. I am! Thanks to Hurricane Katrina.

My best bud, BK, and I, bee-lined it to the Gulf Coast, after the Katrina disaster, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I even bought a brand new tool belt.
Habitat gave us a choice of projects. I chose roofing because I'm afraid of heights and I thought.. Hey! I can be a do-gooder AND fix an irrational fear ~ all in the same week! I was broomed from roofing duties in seconds flat. (Something about screaming bloody murder while I was up there. I guess it puts the other workers on edge.)
9th ward houses, after Katrina
Our next choice was ceramic tile ~ only because we had high hopes the interior of those homes would be air-conditioned. They weren't. In spite of the heat and humidity, we tiled a whole lotta houses in very little time.
Plotting a cowgirl theme for the new digs.
Sunday eve, I'm soaking in the tub, nearly in the dark, one candle burning. Not 'cause I wanted it to be all woo-woo and ultra spa-like. Because mine is the ugliest bathroom on the planet and it looks a little better in the pitch dark. But, it wasn't working. Even with that dim lighting treatment, all I could think about is new ceramic tile...

Me, being a ceramic tile expert.
And, then! The ultimate coinkydink. BK called and announced she was coming for a visit, arriving tomorrow afternoon. This is way better than a normal coincidence, because, you see, the gal lives in Italy. So it's a rare moment when she lands on my doorstep.

Oh, happy day! I thought to myself. Now how can I get her to put off the vacation agenda and devote every waking hour to fixing up my house?

Well, I didn't. We'z even-steven on ceramic tile talent ~ but she's way better at reading between the lines and figuring out my manipulation. However! I got a great dinner out of the deal. And, a manicure. And, a pedicure.

Plus! A renewed interest in making my bathroom pretty enough that I'll turn on the lights.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wreck of the Hesperus

When's the last time you moved? 5... 10... 20 years ago?

As we get older, we tend to stay put and I wonder... is it because we were finally able to afford a house? A place to call home?  

Or... is it because moving is such a pain in the arse? :)

I've searched, in vain, through the many boxes demanding my attention, and have yet to find any of the kitchen items I so desperately need. Have been limping along with one iced tea glass for 12 days.  And, I broke it yesterday so now I am highly motivated...

My Mother lived in the same house her entire adult life.

Mom & Dad purchased their house when she was 21 years old and never once considered moving.

When you live in a place for so very long it is filled, to the brim, with really important junk you have absolutely no use for. Things you haven't looked at in decades but simply cannot throw away. [To her credit, chaos be damned, she always knew exactly where to find things.]

So, Mom has one up on me. I was thinking about that, this morning, during my desperate search for a bread pan. It's snowing outside. I want to bake bread. And, I could! If I'd get in gear and unpack all these boxes life wouldn't be such a mystery.

But, this house is in such a state of disrepair, it's hard to get motivated.

Where to begin? With the broken light fixtures? Replacing closet doors that, for some odd reason, the tenants decided to throw away?

12 years, as a rental property and, boy, did this house take a beating. I'd interview, check references, do the do-diligence but I never did find a decent renter in all that time. Either I'm a bad judge of character or tenants just don't care.

In spite of the mess, I'm still very happy to be here.

I outta the rut, into the red. (Long live Home Depot's 0% financing scheme) and I'm hopeful this pig sty feels halfway liveable by Christmas.

* You had to be a very special plant to accompany me on the big move. I kept the ancient Christmas cactus {20+ years for Aunt Edna.} The apricot 'kid' cactus who is aspiring to live as long as Edna. Uncle Henry ~ the 8 foot tall eyesore African Milk Tree ~ only because I couldn't sucker anyone into adopting him. :) Orchids, of course. And, the Azalea. We can't grow Azaleas in our high alkaline soil but I can happily enjoy their cheerful blooms, indoors.

** Wreck of the Hesperus is a cool, old poem, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The title phrase is often used colloquially to indicate a disheveled appearance. A fitting name for my new fixer upper.
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Summer of Discontent

They say you can never go home again. But, there's always a loophole in pretty much everything people swear to be true.

You most certainly can go home again. March right up there and pound on the front door! Sure! The new home owners will probably call the cops. But, what do you care? With any luck, you'll be handcuffed in the living room - so you'll get a glimpse of the new decor and decide if you approve.

The easier loophole is if you happen to own two homes.

Back in the dark ages of 2002.. I made the smartest dumb move one could ever imagine. I purchased a second home 3 miles outside the Park City city limits. It was zoned for horses. (Hey!) It was on this lovely street called Old Ranch Road. It was the answer to my dreams ~ and later on, my nightmares. 

You see... this is a freakin' boom town. Within a year of moving out to the country (?), I had 47 new neighbors (measures 100+ now.) And, as of last summer it was those 'neighbors' who started giving me the heebie jeebies.

Back when I was a corporate drone, lunchtime was networking time. Thankfully, I didn't kill myself during that chapter of my life.

Instead, I got outta that mess, redefined my life, and my chosen lunch partner. Ridding myself of odd co-workers in favor of my horse.

We'd saddle up every day 'round noon and do a quick little ride across the meadow and up the high hill. It got to the point where she'd stop the second she'd hear my cellphone ring. Drop her head, munch on some grass and let me do the freelance work that pays the bills.


That fateful day last summer. When we saddled up, rode out the back gate and encountered a Private Trail No Trespassing sign - posted by my beloved neighbors who live in Mountain Ranch Estates.

Isn't that rude? Blocking off access to the only trail where my horsie and I can play. Geez! What type of people would take issue with two women riding their horses through a wildflower meadow? 

So, I'm mad. Mad as a hatter. Mad ALL summer long. Mad enough that I was in no mood to blog. Because, you see, I'm MAD!!!!

I guess you'd call it that proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. The traffic. The noise. The lack of privacy. Feeling as if I'm on public display whenever I'm in the front yard, weeding the gardens.

And, now turf wars over who gets to enjoy the wide open spaces.

It was all adding up to an unhappy affair. Wrecked the whole summer. But, what's a gal to do?

Here's the thing about life:
Answers always come. They are rarely the answers we want and sometimes we'd prefer not to hear them. But, they do come. And, if you are sad, then, at some point, you must listen.

Mine came in the form of a surprise phone call. The tenants in my house in town were planning to leave. I did what I always do.. make a list of fixer upper projects, post a sign that the joint is available for rent. But, then! I had a marvelous revelation.

Bye bye wildflowers.
The one I planted 12 years ago.

So, I moved. Back to town. Where you'd expect it to be noisy and hectic but it's quiet and private and ever so civilized! I'm loving it. Been here a week and already planted 100 spring flower bulbs. It's also higher elevation. So let's just see what happens. Come Summer.

* The Summer of Discontent is a nod to my favorite author: John Steinbeck. Our Winter of Discontent should be on everyone's reading list. {Just sayin...}

Follow Me on Pinterest