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NO BACKGROUND NOISE

NO BACKGROUND NOISE

I am having so much fun, I thought to myself as I discovered yesterday that I have lived my fifty three years of life not ever using a can of spray paint. It is not that I have never bought a can of spray paint. I could open up a store and sell all of the cans of gold and burnished copper, and high gloss white having purchased them on many of my trips to Lowes with the notion that I would miraculously become a Do It Yourselfer. DIY as the acronym is known now in the circles of over achieving mothers who can take a blade of grass and turn it into a tiki bar with just a drill and a glue gun.

I know this because I am the involuntary subscriber to endless publishing houses of magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens who for some reason think that because I own a beauty business are the types of magazines my clients would be interested in. Popular Science or Forbes Magazine never make it into my mailbox confirming that the media is still promoting gross stereotypes in their choices of free magazines they think women are interested in. Why get us to think about science and investing, this may give us too much power, let’s just keep our attention span which apparently they think is a short one with articles on making our own facials masks from the fresh herbs and vegetables we are growing in our organic hand made raised beds. The magazines I receive though never make it past my threshold because as soon as they arrive, they promptly get put into my beach bag for my mindless reading pleasure at my beloved beach.

I realize that I am getting old as I open the magazines these days and I am finding that the women featured in them are way younger than me, like mommy younger. I wonder where the time went as I see the endless parade of super moms trying to out do the next mommy blogger with cupcake decorating tips using stencils that were handmade on some computer program and refurbishing your child’s bedroom for less than a hundred dollars. I am so happy I am not raising a child and trying to be a wife these days. So much pressure to be even more creative than the old days of whipping up a batch of rice crispy treats thinking you were the mother of the year. Pinterest changed everything as did having a camera in your iphone so that every waking moment of everything we do is recorded and placed in neat little folders for the world of moms and women to see and feel inadequate about.

Anyway, I decided to not go to the beach yesterday. I was there all day on Saturday and really, how tan can I be, especially now that I am noticing what is slowly happening to my neck from all of my prior years baking and sunning. So I started the fun process of preparing my house for the infamous Bristol July 4th parade. Nothing like an outdoor gathering to motivate some creativity and I had some metal vintage chairs I had been wanting to clean up that had been on my “list.” You ladies out there know what I mean when I say the word List with a capital L, surely. The endless list in our heads that always has a beginning but never has an ending as I make my way around my house and my yard and my barn adding and subtracting all of the items that will take me a lifetime to complete if ever.

I went into my very organized barn that has about five shelves filled with all of my previous hair brained DIY ideas. I can’t believe how easily the phrase is spewing from my fingertips as I type today. DIY is just another three letters mushed together to make women feel bad about their abilities as a wife and mother if you ask me, but I’ll put that feminist theory aside for the purpose of this essay today. So I march into my barn or as Pinterest would call it, a she shed, (insert nausea here), and pull out my cans of yesteryear spray paint. I am not a prep girl, I just want to spray and go, a reason I am only too happy to purchase a quart of chalk paint from my neighbor, Nancy at Sea Rose Cottage for thirty five dollars. The prepping takes all of the fun out of it, so I crank out my hose, change the dial to direct hit and hose down my vintage metal, quite rusty, chairs. My idea of prep is to put a sheet under the chairs so the driveway doesn’t get spray painted, I was also conscious of my nails so I put on some gardening gloves and went to town. This was my idea of prep. Haha. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to take the wire brush recommended to smooth out the rust spots. I barely wiped the cobwebs off as I started formulating my own version of DIY blogging called FUCK THE PREP. It took me a few sprays to get the knack, but holy immediate gratification.

As Michael C stayed put with the Times on the back deck, I began my new career in all things high gloss white, satin white and in a New York minute, I had three brand new pieces of back deck furniture. I couldn’t believe how satisfying it was. And more importantly, they are not PERFECT and I am ok. The confidence boost their completion gave me moved me to the front porch where I had gathered the eye hooks and plastic coated wire I had also purchased to be able to hang some birdhouses I bought recently. Just knowing that I thought of using an eye hook when I purchased the cute birdhouses at East Bay Food Pantry for three dollars made me smile. Recently meaning last week and here I was already screwing in eye hooks and threading the wire through them. I took it even a step further and got out the ladder and hung them too! No DIY procrastinator lives in this house anymore! And though my awesome partner would have gladly helped me at the drop of a hat, it was more satisfying knowing I didn’t need his help, didn’t want it even. I loved that (and he probably did too).

I am overwhelmed with joy and elation on this Fourth of July. This is the first time since I have been in this second part of my life with no divorce, check, did that, no flood in my business, check, did that, no buying a building and moving my business and trying to get used to owning a Magic Palace not feeling overwhelmed as a single female who is not handy, check, did that. And the best part of it all is, I don’t mean to keep bringing it up, but no breast cancer, no decisions about breast cancer, no surgeries, no recoveries, no weekly trips to Warwick for check ups and liquid fills for the breast expanders, Check did that. There is no background noise except for the sound of the humming of my new central AC that was well earned and well deserved and I don’t care what my electric bill is. National Grid, I do know where my power comes from so you can stop asking me. Check that.



if i was true DIY chick, there would be before pictures, but who wants to live in the past when the world ahead is so much more fun to look forward to.
recipes

BURN THE BUTTER

BURN THE BUTTER

Burn the butter along with the many other little lessons my grandmother taught me without trying to teach me is some of the best cooking and life advice from a woman who was born and raised in the Midwest and found her way to Boston in her post college years. For those cooks out there scratching their heads at the notion that burning the butter is actually a good piece of cooking advice, march forth. When it comes to scrambled eggs, burn the butter is the secret ingredient to the tastiest scrambled eggs bringing me back to my childhood, a childhood layered with butter and cream and coats upon coats of rich dairy staples. Burn the butter should be more like brown the butter, not really burning it, but getting it to the point when the butter is melting and it gets that rich caramel like smell. If you added a teaspoon of sugar, it could almost be dessert itself. But you don’t, you add two scrambled eggs and mix well until they are ladened with the butter, just soft enough to feel creamy, but not wet enough to be slimy. The perfect scrambled egg was one of the many morning routines from my grandmother, put on sliced thin Pepperidge Farm white toast (do they still even make this?) also with just a hint of butter as her morning staple. And a small carafe of black coffee.

My grandmother, Kitsie, my mother’s mother had lots of one liners and sometimes my Aunt and I try to remember them. “There’s enough blue in the sky to make a dutchman’s pants.” would mean that the sky would be clearing and it wouldn’t rain if the sky had the clouds in it that otherwise would make you think it was about to. “She was a colorless girl,” to describe someone who was bland and nondescript. “He who hath no expectations, shan’t be disappointed,” was another frequent phrase, spoken from a woman who had to work on this for a good part of her life. Like recipes, the pearls of wisdom from long gone family members instilled in our hearts and souls is often the words they left us with that we find ourselves reflecting upon in our daily lives especially now that I am getting older.

My neighbor Dottie, has lots of these one liners, too that are already embedded in my heart. One of my favorites is, “You can’t see it from Fall River,” meaning don’t worry about it. Just forge ahead. Like a recipe from our childhood, the words that are said often innocently are the ones that stick around in our daily mantras without really thinking about them that much; they just appear out of nowhere almost letting us know that these important people in our lives are very much still with us. I like the comfort of that.

Like this morning when I decided to make my eggs in my grandmother’s style almost burning the butter, having toast for a change also with butter and a little strawberry jam. I went out on my front porch to eat my breakfast. Rather than try to balance the plate, the tea and my laptop, its own recipe for a spill, I did it the civilized way, placed it on my favorite tray and made my way to the fresh air in the early morning light. My grandmother did this almost every time I slept at her house except she ate breakfast in bed reading one of her library books. For her morning ritual she would wake up, get breakfast ready and place it on a tray and bring it into her bedroom. I always remember her eating breakfast in bed. I can’t remember the last time I did that and actually it doesn’t really speak to me like breakfast outside on the front porch the morning after a rain and thunderstorm in one of my many sitting areas I have created.

Rituals of sitting and resting, like rituals of language are an important part of my life. I love to exercise and write, but creating spaces in my space is something that really speaks to me. When I freed myself from the boundaries of social norms like having a dining room, a living room, a tv area, my house opened up like Pandora’s box. I created multiple sitting areas in my house, in my business and outside so that at any given point in time, I could have a place to read or write or contemplate. When I say multiple, I’m not kidding, I counted and came up with eleven! Just by giving myself permission to not have a traditional dining room and living room, the world of my home became my oyster and my dining room became the perfect nook for writing on a cold winter day or a bird singing spring morning. The kitchen became a great place for a rocker to look at my garden and write in my garden journal all the plans that if I get to even a quarter of them will be success. Maybe it was my grandmother’s influence all these years later of watching her draw her evening bath before bed or make her breakfast and have her own party in her bed that stuck with me in the importance of self love, self care and .

Every time I smell butter or put a plate on a tray, she is with me. These simple root filled memories are the ones that stick. As I make my way today to the second funeral I am attending of another much too young woman who died this past week, it is those little nuggets in our lives that are the literal bread and butter of our daily grind. These are the joys and memories I keep close to my heart as I once again realize how precious and fragile life is. Short for sure. This is why the butter tasted so good today.

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SHAKING IT UP

SHAKING IT UP

Wind and rain and cold, the perfect combination on a June 4th early almost summer day for my new installation of a second floor air conditioner. Like washing your car and the next day it rains, I said to the kind man doing the installation, “Now watch, it will be a cold and wet summer and this AC will not even be necessary.” Frankly, I am in disbelief that I have come to this place of central AC. In my former life of marriage and home owning, the thought of AC would occasionally be brought up by my husband at the time (I just can’t stand the word X, it feels like I am supposed to erase those twenty years of my life and I wouldn’t change them for anything). “ We don’t need ac,” I would say, “we live so near the water, the breeze is our AC.” I am a windows open 24/7 kind of chick. I like to hear the birds, the sounds of the day and the breeze of the water I am blessed to see from most of my southern and west windows. I almost feel like AC is a cop out for this hardy New England born and raised. It’s not like I live in Florida. I mean in the south, AC is a given. Like a built in pool, the intensity of the summer is so short lived here in New England, why bother?

Until menopause. Menopause changed all of this. Hot Flashes with a capital H and F changed my purist mind. My partner has it in his bedroom and sleeping on those hot humid nights with the hum of the AC has made camping out at his house my go to resting place since surgical menopause became a part of my world almost three and half years ago. So AC is now officially in the entire Whitehouse. And if the weather continues like yesterday for the summer, I will never even have to use it. But this is doubtful, this is New England and it is not even mid June yet.

As the guys were here most of the day yesterday doing the installation, I decided to move a few things around on my first floor. This led to moving a few things around on my second floor and up and down and back and forth I went for the good part of the day. Changing. Moving. Shaking. Tossing. Reinventing. When the mood strikes, the adrenaline rush could move mountains. The day before, I managed to get my dear son to help me with a few pieces of furniture. Back in the old days, I probably could have done it myself. I have always said, Hell hath no fury like a woman who wants to move furniture. Adrenaline is a powerful force to be reckoned with and it is a propellant that comes from the deepest part of my core when it comes to moving furniture. Rugs, pictures, chairs, tables, everything is up for grabs and in all of my years, I have learned to release the emotion tied to some of the stuff I have in my house. Of course the advantage is that I have a business on the first floor and it is easy to move up, down and all around. I am always thinking about change. Adding bathtubs, building additions, porches, decks, my brain moves constantly with ideas, but since I have a son in college for two more years, these major changes have to take a backseat. Hence the working with what I have. Where does the need to move and shake come from? I have friends who seldom move their houses around, they seem normal and happily adjusted.

I just have an inordinate amount of creative energy and this is how it reveals itself in my life. I often think this is why I enjoy wine so much, it helps to slow down and mellow out this creative force that takes hold of my spirit on occasion. Regardless of the whys, I have learned to go with the flow and allow the moving and shaking to do what it does, move and shake. There is a beginning and an end to changing things around in my house and an intense feeling of exhausted completion when the final picture has been hung and the last bag of trash has been brought out to the container.

I have learned a few significant points in all of this changing. One is definitely that just because it is a dining room doesn’t mean you have to put a dining room table in there. Just because the living room is considered the formal living room, doesn’t mean you can’t make it what you want, after all it’s my house. I can do whatever I want so instead I have lots of sitting spaces. As a matter of fact, I have over four in my house alone, and in my business I have three plus four outside.

Sitting. I have been trying to consciously sit a lot more. This likely sounds like a challenge to the reader here after what I have just written about my in my intense energy abounding daily. There is something about sitting though. Just sitting. No phone, not even a book, just sitting. And staring. And listening. And thinking. Just being quiet. All this working, working out, and moving requires the opposite in order to keep me in check. As I sit here in one of my new sitting spaces looking out over the garden, I feel energized and peaceful not doing anything except sitting and writing with my morning cup of tea as I decide on the rest of my day. Moving things around in our spaces helps to keep us awake and conscious about our lives. What we have accumulated, what we no longer need, and what we hang on to and why is a great outcome in the moving of stuff. Ultimately it is an energy shift in my space and then ultimately in my being. This is the joy of the change. Never a dull moment and for this I am and continue to be a lover of life.

Grateful, humbled, happy and sitting.






a few of the many places to sit and stare and wonder.
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ORGANIZED CHAOS

ORGANIZED CHAOS

“I am coming tomorrow to paint,” my friend, Joe said to me when he called me last Sunday to let me know. I had called him about a month ago and told him that whenever he was available to just let me know and he could paint the living room dining room area. Frankly, I didn’t think he would be calling me until September so when I got the call, I was unprepared (meaning I didn’t even have the paint colors picked out).

For many of my female friends, this last minute call to paint an entire living space would just not do. My girlfriend, Karen (you know BROCOLLI CASSEROLE Karen) spent months thinking about paint colors really taking her time to consider all options, where things will be going, what needs to be replaced for furniture. I admire this trait in her. I am the total opposite; throw me into chaotic situations and I am at my best. I love a good shake up easily welcoming disorder so that I can rearrange, purge and rethink everything with the pressure of no time. This may explain why when I had a flood at my business five years ago that took out 50% of it, I didn’t even shed a tear. Bring it on, that’s my motto. You know that phrase, “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle?” The only time I actually enjoy hearing that phrase is from my neighbor Dottie, because she is my calm pragmatic eighty four year young neighbor. When anyone else says this, I usually find it irritating; I mean how does anyone (besides Dottie) know this. When she says her one liners, they help me feel peaceful and safe, like a mom is supposed to make you feel during times of distress. Like my grandparents helped me feel and my aunt Kiley always makes me feel. Disorder forces order. It is like the light after the darkness and I know the end result is going to be a big satisfactory sigh. Getting there is the climb and sometimes the timing is off. If there is in fact a God, God must really have high standards when thinking about the people to pile ‘life coming at you’ on. I mean in the scope of Life coming at me, most, with the exception of cancer, is not life threatening stuff. Inconvenient, sure, but it’s not like I am having to escape pogroms like my great grandparents. This of course is part of the problem I have in minimizing my life coming at me, the comparisons to ‘shit could be worse’ problems. There is always something for sure, but for the most part, nothing I can’t handle and half the time I am creating my own chaos party.

For example, I have been changing my company’s direction this past year releasing some tired services and bringing in new ones that have required me to step back into a full time front end role. “Where do you spend most of your time?” I get asked so often. My answer in the past is that I spend most of my time working outside and on the business (oh yeah and that pesky double breast cancer three surgeries in two years that has taken me away) rather than directly in the business. I haven’t spent four straight days behind the desk, answering phones, taking care of clients one on one for many years. Today makes it the start of the third full week. This has taken me some scope readjustment especially with the organization of time so the last thing I was planning was a simultaneous home makeover. Be careful what you wish for; this all started when I decided to move forward with phase one of J’s Junk. By the way I am embarrassed to say that J’s Junk phase one didn’t even make a dent in my living space. As time has progressed since phase one, I realized that I needed to move ahead with phase two which was to continue the process and really sift through my living space. J’s junk just got rid of the junk. My living space has the things that I love and the things that I used to love and this, like making hard business decisions, is where the tough decisions come in. So when Joe called me in the midst of my new schedule, I knew it was the best timing. Bring it on is when my entire living space is forced into mayhem. Not only does the change of paint color have to be decided in a nanosecond, but every single piece of art and furniture must be moved so Joe can actually find a wall to paint.

Thank you Pinterest. Sunday night was spent combing through colors and photos that in the past would have required me to buy about fifty magazines. I narrowed it down to some key colors and woke up on Monday with a clear plan for Joe. Moved all of my pictures and my furniture on my adrenaline rush and within twenty four hours my house was turned upside down. Because I live upstairs from my business, I couldn’t really put it back together while we are open because of the noise factor so there the chaos sat until each five am wake up where I could get in a few hours of organization. This type of living arrangement makes most of my chick friends likely have heart palpitations at the notion, but I actually enjoy the freedom of just leaving crap everywhere knowing there is nothing I can do about it. Releasing control, not easy for us Superchicks. When it is forced upon us, though, this is usually when the answers come.

What to do with sentimental items I no longer desired, but didn’t want to discard or sell at a consignment store? Also how the hell do I still have so much stuff ? Why do I have shelves filled with books I already read? The Jewish Encyclopedia of Religion? Jewish Home Beautiful given to me by my Great Grandmother Mimi as a wedding gift? Considering I was marrying a chourico eating, beer drinking Portuguese Catholic it was highly doubtful I would be following the guidelines for a “young Jewish bride” as the book assumed. I have dishes from my great grandparents on all sides, furniture, art. The list goes on. If I died tomorrow, most of this stuff would likely end up in the trash as my son would have no idea what to do with it and why leave him with this absurd energy draining burden anyway. So the lightbulb moment for me came on. I would take all of my empty Rubbermaid buckets I have from the J’s Junk takedown and create a bucket for each person I want to have some of these things. I will lovingly wrap and write a story for each about their contents and secure and label the buckets to give to them when I see them. I can’t think of a better way to make sure the items I feel are important to pass down while I am alive and well get there. What am I saving these items for? I have used them for my family gatherings and have shared their energy in a continuity that my old relatives would have been proud of. When my grandmother Isabelle was alive she used to love visiting me and walking around my house noticing all of the things she passed to me. She would always comment on how happy she was that they were being used and cared for. I love that she didn’t wait until she died to do this because knowing why she was giving it to me and what the story was behind it made it so much more special. Watching her joy also added to their special place in my home.

The strange twisted blessing of cancer is the awesome sense of urgency you take from the experience of having the privilege in facing your own mortality without the actual mortality. I mean we are all going to die. No one gets out alive, sometimes we have a closer taste of what this means by these unique experiences and this is what has propelled me into this organized chaos. My body has been turned upside down, my mind and my thoughts have been too. It is no accident that all of this need to reduce and shake things up is due to this life experience I continue to go through.

I am lucky I get to have this choice because this cancer was caught so early. There is the added weight of a BRCA2 layer that rears its ugly head just when I think I can give myself permission to forget that this part of my life is on its way out now. Knowing my son is going to be tested this week adds to the urgency of reordering my stuff too. Maybe this is the distraction that painting my upstairs space provided for me this week in the anticipation of this upcoming appointment. I don’t think I give myself enough credence for the stressful situations weaving in and out of my life. Having too much on my plate is likely just what, if there is a God, God would have probably prescribed for me knowing full well that this is exactly what I could handle. Once again, Dottie is right.


a work in progress, just like life I suppose.
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PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION

PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION

Put the ac in the window. Read the directions. Who writes these fucking things, seriously is the diagram really intended for the laywoman? The single female homeowner who only until recently bought a drill for the first time in her life? What is that noise in the kitchen? Ruh Roh, the coffee pot is gurgling bad. Forgot to put the coffee pot under the filter after pouring water into the said coffee pot. Clean filter light blinking. Coffee liquid everywhere. Clean pot, start again. Go to the basement and find the wood pieces from the ac installation last year that this laywoman paid someone to put in the windows.

So happy to have saved it in one organized place. Good thinking. It’s awfully quiet down here. Ac in business turned way down for weekend. Check. Third floor Ac turned off until Michael’s return tomorrow. Check. Why is it so quiet? Ahh. The dehumidifier is not on. But the dehumidifier is connected to the pipe for 24/7 drainage. Arg. Empty dehumidifier bucket in sink. Clean filter as blinking light instructs, (learning last time that there is no filter replacement, but instead just a filter that comes out and gets washed under faucet. Progress). Water does not go down the pipe. Oy Vey. Perhaps staring at it for a few extra moments will make it move. How about tapping the pipe a bit shaking some likely sediment out of the pipe? Try to disconnect the tube that is connected from said dehumidifier to pipe for said 24/7 drainage. Nope. Super tight, no can do. Mmmm. Is a plumber call really necessary here? Wait, what’s this? Some little contraption lying right next to the faucets of the sink some kind soul left the last time this happened. Probably the fifty dollar an hour handyman formerly hired on a regular basis BDC (before drill purchase) left it either accidentally or intentionally. Take contraption and stick it down the drain hole and wiggle it a bit. Oh my, water is draining. Just saved about $150. Back to the AC. Not going to lie here, awesome boyfriend is helping with this one. Thank you awesome boyfriend. What? No yelling? Calm teamwork? Is this even possible? No annoyance, no eye rolling, no under the breath commentary? Who knew that a man and a woman who spend lots of time together, pretty much most of their time, could actually work as a team to get a project done with no yelling or fighting? Foreign concept for sure. But this man is the love of my life and the example of what a healthy normal relationship is supposed to be. No offense to previous twenty year marriage, but you just learn more the second time around and the learn more part is you tolerate less of the raised voice and more of the calm ones. Measure the inserts he says calmly, words filled with the understanding of capablility in their sounds. Must be the credibility gained from figuring out the problem with the television last night.

For about three months Channel 12, the go to station of weekend golf, had only limited sound. The odd thing was that the tv in the kitchen worked fine and the thought of having to call someone to fix this bizarre issue was cause for blood curdling. Does the tv need to be replaced, repaired? It is a four year young Sony, highly doubtful. Unplug everything and replug as former husband suggested. Nope. Does the TV need one of those lengthy updates that comes up right when you are getting ready to sit down and watch a movie. You know the one that you hit “skip” and it goes into the do it later list? Looking for the button on the TV that allows for a manual update is clearly something that requires a degree from MIT. Let’s try asking the Google bar the specific question. Voila. Though the answer didn’t come up for this exact situation, it did give enough information for some other possibilities, one being that maybe it was the actual COX box that was malfunctioning. Only one way to find out. Go to the tv in the kitchen and trade out boxes. Disconnect three wires from each box, trade the box and reconnect. Turn to Channel 12. Will it work? Did this laywoman who when married couldn’t even figure out the fucking remote control figure this out with zero male help, zero call the maintenance guy, call the tv guy? Yes. PURE EMPOWERMENT. How ridiculous. But today when all of the shit happened, there was unique calmness that allowed peace instead of overwhelming frustration, (well there was that feeling first). This is just an example of one less than twenty four hour day in the life of owning my own 3900 square foot 150 year old magic palace. This is a huge exercise in self satisfaction. Traipsing around this beautiful place, looking at everything that always needs to be done trying to replace the overwhelming anxiety of never finishing the checklist is an exercise in perpetual gratitude. PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION is one of the many helpful ALANON slogans that have become a part of my daily mantra. Just like ONE DAY AT A TIME, PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION is that lovely pause that allows the breath and the calm attitude. It allows the insert of gratitude when the main component of the thoughts are despair and frustration and fear.

What next? This is a typical auto pilot response when just one more thing seems to break or cease to work, one more thing to add to the list. Carpenter ants, bats in the attic, dishwasher not draining, weed the driveway, cutting back the wisteria that has an energy of growth that any bald man would appreciate on the top of his head, dividing iris that have taken over huge amounts of real estate in the garden, replacing the front porch railing, reorganizing the barn and the basement after the Jay’s Junk removal, paperwork, filing, staying organized after a full week of working, add to this the emotional drain when you find out a former employee wasn’t completely upfront about their leave, but then realizing that in the end it is always for the best. At the end of the business owning day, I have learned that anytime someone leaves, it is always for the best. Sometimes though it snakes its way into my heart as personal and this is usually not helpful. After all I am human, but I love owning my own business, the ups and the downs and usually if I find a feeling of disappointment, it is more often work I have to do in my own heart that allows me the freedom and growth of yet one more business and life lesson. One more Ann button push that I get to release from the work I continue to do.

Holy Shit. How can life get easier? So the question I ask myself as I have asked many people I have led in vision board workshops, If I could do anything I wanted without any barriers, money, time, anything, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

The first answer that comes to me is often sell everything and live way more simply. Then my pragmatic and grandfather voice kicks in as I love my home and my business and know that these thoughts are normal when you own a business and have a big house like this so then thought # 2 is to is to get rid of all technology. Is this even possible when one owns a business? I look at my glorious neighbor Dottie, who is approaching or already 84. Her only technology is Direct TV. No cell phone, no SONOS, no internet. Her telephone is still a wall phone hardwired old school. She doesn’t even have a car anymore. She is my go to superchick for any house question. Ants all over my back barndoor and don’t have any ant insecticide and it is 5:30 in the morning on July 4th in Bristol? Boil hot water and pour it directly on them. Check. Don’t want to use Roundup for the never ending weeds in the pretty gravel driveway? Vinegar, salt and water and spray, that will kill them. Check. Her never ending helpful list could have written a helpful hint from Dottie book for all single female homeowners who formally allowed their husbands to do all of “that stuff.”

As I contemplate my life, I get to do this with a view of a garden that my two hands have cared for this summer after another bout with cancer. I get to do this on my apple laptop while I sit in the shade of my back deck with my outdoor speakers playing Deva Premal, causing one bad ass deep appreciative sigh. Life coming at me is how I am a strong and kind woman, and a really good businesswoman. I learn from my mistakes. I forgive myself. I am appreciative of the days on the earth that I get to continue to learn. I am happiest with my inner circle of friends and the service I have been honored to provide for the successful business I have created. These are all good problems and the more I live in PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION, the more patience I have with the times that don’t always feel bright and sunny. It is in those darker times where the light is so much better because of its contrast to the dark when I come out of it.

God I love to write. It always brings me back to the light. So grateful for PROGRESS. It will never be perfect, but my life is pretty glorious and I wouldn’t change a thing (until I can get my Airstream that is.)


writing in my garden as i sort through the bullshit of my brain.
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A GOOD LEGACY

A GOOD LEGACY

Yesterday, I woke up with the glorious anticipation of today. Jay’s Junk is arriving at 11:00am and I had to get ready. As I contemplated the immense quantity of items I have accumulated in my life, I tried to look at the task from a different perspective.

One day a few years back I found myself sitting in an emergency hospital waiting room and came across an article in a health magazine targeted for hospital waiting rooms. It was written by a man who has the unfortunate task of going through his mother’s household after she had died and there were a lot of things. Apparently, her death was not a sudden loss. She had been ill and had many months if not years to consider the contents of her home, but chose not to, leaving it for her family. Maybe she thought that these things she was leaving were important legacies for them. Photos, old cards from family on birthdays and anniversaries, furniture from her grandmother’s house she had taken into her own. AND MUCH MUCH MORE.

Her son was writing an article on legacy and bereavement and his point was that so many parents are concerned about leaving their children gifts of money, real estate etc, but that he felt one of the better gifts is to leave the children without the stuff to have to sift through. This article really stuck with me because I have things that my son would have no idea of their importance. I could see the frustration in having to determine what should stay, what should go, who should have what and so on. Do I keep the turquoise dial phone she never used, but had on display in her pantry? (yes) What about all of this art? (yes) Her Wonder Woman collection? (yes) see the problem? I am already having heart palpitations thinking about what would become of these things. My grandparents decided early on that whatever we wanted we should tell them while they were alive and they would tag each item so after they passed away, it would be easier. This is a great thing to do and my personal plan is to start putting stories and histories on some of the more valuable things so it doesn’t end up in Jay’s truck after I am gone, but in my son’s bank account or in a friend’s home.

The article was insightful, filled with the pain he and his family had in going through her salt and pepper shaker collection and thinking what on earth am I going to do with this? The feelings of guilt at throwing it out because as much personal value it had for his mother, it had zero for him and it surely had no significant monetary value. What to do?

His suggestion was to make sure that the content of your home was deliberate. I really appreciated the honesty as I considered my own piles. I have also recently heard of a story about a woman who passed away, I think she may have been an art teacher or an artist or something. Her family decided to do a pine coffin at her wake and everyone who came to the wake was able to write or draw something on the actual coffin. It may sound sacrilegious to some, but I really loved the idea of this. The other really great part of this funeral was she had a collection of something, I can’t remember what, let’s just say salt boxes for the point of this. They took the entire collection and put it on a table and asked everyone to take one on their way out. I LOVE THIS IDEA. Not that I am planning my funeral or anything, but what a really creative way to have parts of yourself and your collection spread out to friends and family. I can actually see my entire turquoise collection of kitchen ware at my service for all to take.

Anyway as I began the ridiculous project of going through my things I tried to remove the emotion out of it. This is difficult because as I began going through photos especially, trashing photos is hard. Seriously what the hell am I going to do with five thousand photos of my son that are duplicates and already in photo albums that he probably won’t ever look at anyway. It’s funny, the older I get, the less sentimental. I was super sentimental when I was younger probably because I had such a fractured home life. Every single thing my grandparents would offer me I would hungrily take thinking it would fill the big hole in my heart I had from the loss of my teenage years. The reality though is that I took that loss and with my husband at the time, transformed it into a really stable home life for our son, both married and divorced, we never lost sight of Michael, except for maybe a few blips. Michael doesn’t have the hole I had. He is good. So the photos and the stuff don’t have that type of sentimental significance that it had for me. As I approached the project, I decided to look at it as if I were Michael going through his mother’s things. What would I know to be important and what could I easily remove?

This is how I came to my day today, waiting patiently for Jay’s Junk to arrive and begin the process of getting my house in order so that the only things that are left here are the things that have a story I could tell to him by what is left.

I know this is only the beginning of the process, because once I start to see the clearing of space, once I feel the lightness it offers up, it will likely become an addiction. When we surround ourselves with things that suffocate and weigh us down, it blocks universal flow; at least this is my experience. So moving it, removing it, changing its place of importance at the foundation of my home, my basement is a freedom I personally am looking forward to. Stay tuned for the after photos, I am sure we will all breathe a sign of relief.


This is just my basement, pretty much almost everything here is getting recycled or tossed, i can’t wait to feel the liberation. Can’t wait for the after photos.
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NINE VOLT BATTERIES

NINE VOLT BATTERIES

What is funny about my breast cancer experience is that I completely forget that I have had cancer twice in three years. It was caught so early that it almost seems insignificant compared to the cancers that aren’t. I find myself almost minimizing its place in my life. “We caught it early,” is a mixed bag for someone like me. Someone like me who is a planner, an idea maker, a pull up your bootstraps and move the fuck on kind of gal who likes to check things off her list.

Go to the the grocery store –check

Make deposits at the bank-check

Pick up wine for the July 4th celebration- check

Weed garden- check

Drive to Warwick to get a breast fill –check

Breast cancer maintenance has become part of my routine just like going for a bikini wax or a morning workout and it has become such a part of my life that I almost have forgotten its significance. So when July 1st rolled around today and I did all of the Bristol, RI, July 4th kind of stuff to get ready for the big day, I didn’t think about my upper body at all.

I decorated the front porch, I helped my partner, Michael put together my new hammock, I went to my favorite meat market, Persimmon Provision to pick up the beef for burgers among other preparatory things. Life actually seemed pretty normal so much so that Michael and I decided to sit on the front porch and enjoy a bottle of white wine I had bought yesterday at Gasbarros on Federal Hill. We got comfortable in the rockers amongst the thick foggy air on a beautiful but cool summer eve, even danced to a nice song on the front porch. All of a sudden, the fire alarms in my house started to beep so I ran upstairs to see what was going on. Now this seems pretty idiotic since if there was in fact a fire, I would be running into danger, but I just couldn’t imagine there would be a fire. It was super windy, all of my windows were open and the neighbors next door were smoking cigarettes blowing the smoke from the intense wind right into my house.

As I tried to turn them off and the fire alarms were screaming “Fire Fire Fire,” I realized it was Saturday, THE SATURDAY before Bristol, RI’s July 4th, I had just finished off a nice bottle of white wine, it was after five in the evening and my dilemma was, “What the fuck am I going to do?” I began trying to reset the alarms, taking the NINE VOLT BATTERIES out, disconnecting them to make their sound stop. I obviously knew this was not a responsible decision, but I did not know what to do. Once I took about four of them down, I called my trusted neighbor who is somehow affiliated with the fire department and he told me I should call the fire department, aka the entire swat team of the illustrious volunteer fire department of our blessed town.

My problem was that I wouldn’t drive because I had been drinking wine, there didn’t seem to be any places I could buy batteries at this time that were in walking distance and this situation needed to be corrected pronto. (totally forgot about Pic n Pay, the handy but exorbitantly expensive convenience store directly around the corner. In hindsight I would have paid twenty five dollars a battery to avoid what happened next; stay tuned).

I considered the possibilities of not putting the fire alarms back up and my son having to sleep on the third floor with no alarms. This didn’t seem like an intelligent option and I seriously could see the newsflash on Channel 10 unfold before my eyes and the bad judgment of a drunken mother, (well not drunk, but definitely highly buzzed-sounds like an alcoholic rationalization, I know) on July 4th weekend. Bad. So I mustered up my courage and let my ego leave me and I called 911. I knew I needed the batteries, but with no apparent solution to solve this problem (why the fuck did I not think of Pic n PAY?) it seemed that the fire department visit was the best solution.

After all why would I not want confirmation that these alarms going off were in fact just the batteries and not some other electrical problem in the old walls of an 1865 historic home. It felt silly to call the fire department. It felt like I was overreacting. Kind of like the “we caught it early,” feelings, I felt like I needed to minimize the reality because it just felt dramatic. This seems so absurd, but I was raised by people like my grandmother (you know HOT FUDGE SAUCE, grandmother,) who at a restaurant started to choke on some piece of food and didn’t want us to call the rescue because it felt over reactive- the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I suppose.

The firemen came in all of their gear. In walked a very grown up friend of my son’s who used to play baseball with him. (You know you are getting old when your son’s peers start becoming firemen.) He was a kind soul and gingerly told me that the fire alarms could not be tested if they were not attached. The fire chief assistant arrived (much to the young man’s relief, I’d imagine not quite sure what to do with “Mrs. White” who was clearly stressed). The fire chief assistant let me know how foolish it was to disconnect the fire alarms. He let me know that it was impossible to assess the situation without the fire alarms in place. No shit, if you had 8 fire alarms beeping in your home with no sign of fire on the start of July 4th weekend after drinking a bottle of wine with your man would you be leaving them beeping while you tried to figure out the problem? It wasn’t like I was going to go out on the town leaving the unattended fire alarms to their own free will, leaving my house and more importantly my son in harms way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware they were doing the job they were supposed to do. I am super thankful for a really terrific volunteer fire department. They probably see these calls more than any other calls, but I felt like a little girl playing house after the fire chief assistant told me five times that I should never have disconnected them. They had no batteries to offer, no solution other than to tell me there was no fire. I told them that I wanted to buy batteries but had no solution, because I readily admitted I had been drinking wine and certainly wasn’t going to drive. Personally I thought I was being pretty responsible by my admission and yet the very kind and very low keyed fire chief assistant decided to, I am sure unintentionally, scold me for taking down the alarms. Was there some rule book that came with first time home ownership letting me know that I should never do this? No. For Christ sake, I just learned how to use a drill today! I didn’t know I needed to change batteries in a fire alarm every time change cycle, I thought the alarms beeped to tell you when the battery needed changing! Yes, Fire Chief assistant, I feel completely irresponsible and thank you for reinforcing it.

Instead of trying to teach me this obvious basic home owning 101 in a helpful way, I felt more like a “hysterical” ( I can’t stand this word so I use it only to demonstrate why it is a terrible word) female and then on top of it was left with a pile of fire alarms needing batteries that I couldn’t drive to buy. I know they were doing their job, but if these are common situations, maybe the town could send out a information flier to homeowners reminding them of common fire safety prevention tips or hand one to me as they leave. There are certain things about single woman home owning that are just not intuitive to me. I was married for twenty years to a very handy and home- responsible man who took care of all of these things and I happily let him. (That’s why they call me Wonder Woman, I guess) There are certain things that I don’t even know to think about. How foolish. I take full responsibility for not reading the first time living alone homeowners manual. I won’t let this happen again. The only fun part of the evening besides the obvious glory of no fire was that my neighbor’s great grandson who is about two got a full one on one fire truck experience. I insisted on taking a photo, after all there had to be some memory of this first day of July.

Thank goodness for my neighbor who offered to drive to CVS to buy them for me, (twenty-five dollars for six instead of one). It was a total shit show; I felt silly calling just like it feels silly when someone tells me how great I look after THREE MONTHS because “it” was caught early but because I never had chemo, I never really looked not good. I learned a lot in this crazy evening. Only call the fire department if there is an actual fire. And just like getting regular mammograms before finding a lump, change your batteries every 6 months in your fire alarms whether they beep at you or not. For me it will be July 4th and Christmas because who could forget this date after this crazy first day of July.

My neighbor, Dottie’s great grandson with his mom with my son’s friend, kindly letting us take a photo. Thank you Jared!

thank goodness for my neighbor offering to drive to CVS to get me batteries, I have the best neighbors!