The post with no name

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John, Julia and I recently attended a fabulous upholstery workshop in the Applied Arts department at UALR, taught by the wonderful Annie Evelyn (whose assistant was my friend Morgan Hill – both had driven in from Penland, despite the snow). This is my class product, a “lab rat,” which makes a very nice mediation seat, should I ever decide to try that route. But I hope reupholstery and helping John with is fine furniture-making is in the future. I prefer doing to sitting.

People keep asking, though it’s only been a week, how life after regular employment is going – and since I’m so far behind on blogging (though I’ve been writing like mad on another front) that seems as good an excuse as any to do a feeble little post.

So far, so good, would be the answer, and perfect timing in more ways than one. Slipping into that mode has been easy. And, actually, I’m still doing a some work from home, just in casual shoes and clothes.

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In the late ’60s/early ’70s, we just called them “Converse” or “All-Stars,” but these berry Chuck Taylors, which were on sale, to boot, had my name on them. The only pair left was in my size. Perfect retirement shoes, no?

Things are gradually getting a little cleaner around this old house, though soon we’ll make a big mess when the tiling project upstairs gets in full swing, so right now it’s still a losing proposition.

Next week I think I’ll tackle closets and drawers. So many options.

One of the best aspects is having more time for the kiddos.

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What a familiar pose. Like father, like son.

Today was the SoMa Mardi Gras parade – and my duties were nil, which is a nice feeling for a change. John and I walked the girls down, enjoyed the parade as mere spectators, then met the grands for some post-parade fun.

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The parade was fabulous – huge crowd of mostly non-neighborhood folks, it seemed – and great floats.

 

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One of the many SoMa Mardi Gras parade floats. Attendance was spectacular!

Tonight is a belated birthday dinner with Cathy and Paul.

And that’s it for now. Next time will be better. Or not. Time will tell.

Take it easy

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Our hardy hibiscus has been blooming away in my office upstairs. Flowers for the departed or just random beauty? Either way works for me.

We’re only 18 days into the new year, and it’s already been a heartbreaker. Glenn Frey at 67? David Bowie AND Alan Rickman at 69? Jeez, let’s take it easy, already. Talk about a heartbreak trifecta.

This old gal recently turned 60, so those ages are indecently young. When my grandmother died at 69, I had no concept of how young she was – she’d had health issues and had been a little crazy for as long as we could remember, and I was only 21. About 20 years ago, I realized she was far too young when she departed.

My decision not to take it easy, exactly, but to make a significant change in lifestyle had been made before 2015 even rolled into 2016. These recent losses (as well as my old friend and classmate Dee Edwards, two days before his 61st birthday) reinforce the decision.

As of the end of this month, I’ll be spending a lot less time – as in, none – at the office. I’ll still be working some from home, but Annabelle just turned 5, Silas will be 3 in April and just yesterday, our first grandchild (who’ll be 10 in June) was born.

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The upstairs kitchen is seeing progress again.

This can’t stand.

Plus, John and I need to finish this old house, and four hands are quicker than two. We ordered mass quantities of tile this weekend. Can’t wait to get my hands dirty again.

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If you recognize this, you’ve laid your share or have at least been around some construction. Note the spelling difference, but I like that it’s Hardie Backer. And I really like that John’s doing all the screws. (I’ve done my share and he’s way better at it.)

Then there’s that piano begging to be played. Struggling with Italian to be resumed. Climate Reality presentations to be made.

Etc., etc.

Life goes on until it doesn’t but, man, we need to keep our priorities straight.

Peace and love, y’all.

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Quartzite – aka our soon to be kitchen floor.

And now it’s 2016 …

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Practicing on my late friend Franchelle Owen’s Wurlitzer piano, which is tucked into our foyer now, is one way I’ll be spending time in 2016. 

Four days into a new year, almost four months into my 60s and about four weeks since I last touched The Lolly Diaries. Time gets away.

But making better use of my time is one of my intentions for this new year. I don’t make resolutions – too stern a word for me and a recipe for failure for many. We need to be kind to ourselves and do the best we can.

Unless we need someone to (metaphorically) crack a whip to keep us going  – sometimes that’s called for, too. And I’ve been known to employ the “fake it until you make it” method repeatedly in my 60 years. Whatever works. We must progress.

Speaking of progress, or, really, lack thereof until now, I also intend to get my ass in gear with the Climate Reality talks. John gave me some no-excuses Christmas gifts – a projector, projector stand and really big portable screen. Seems like eons ago that I was in Miami for training, but only three highly eventful months have passed.

Many, many years have passed since I’ve parked my ass on a piano bench to practice, much less play, but it’s coming back, albeit slowly. I’m so grateful to have a piano to practice on – and I’m very pleased that it belonged to my friend Rhonda’s mother. That makes me smile.

Another thing that makes me smile is that John and I have resumed work on the upstairs. (Hooray!!) Right now it’s him – I don’t build cabinets or do wiring – but we have tile to lay (once we can agree on which tile) and will have cabinets to paint. I’ll share photos, of course.

One last thing for the hopping-back-in-the-saddle post: We kept the youngest grandchild this weekend while the big kids went to the Liberty Bowl (Woo, Pig!). He was a delight and was delighted when we pulled out his big brother’s little Thomas the Tank Engine inflatable bed that I found somewhere about seven years ago.

Probably not as excited as Tess, though. She remembered the tiny bed well and couldn’t wait to join Silas. When I gave him the giant fluffy bear Pop bought for Jude all those years ago, Tess ran and got her giant fluffy stuffed dog and plopped down on the bottom half of the bed.

The wee one was asleep within minutes, all warm and cozy with his bedmate. He even slept through both dogs howling (Tess had moved to her own bed just past the foot of Thomas by then, but Zuzu stood right beside him) when sirens and flashing lights went off at 2:20 a.m.

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Tess is still cuddling her stuffed toy a couple of hours after Silas crashed. I did tuck him back in before we left the room, and at the 2:20 howling, he was still nestled tight.

Such is life downtown.

Here’s to 2016. Let’s make it count.

Sometimes it’s the little things

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Sunday, Nov. 29 was a dreary rainy day for the virtual Climate March, so we did it upstairs inside. Thanks to friends and family who joined in! Sharing/posting/tweeting about the need for meaningful action to reduce global warming doesn’t cost you a dime.

Officially, I owe a post about everyday things you can to to help the environment while saving money. I haven’t forgotten by any means, but shootings take a psychic and physical toll on me and I just can’t quite get it together.

So, instead, I’ll just share one thing and save the rest for another day. This red beauty is not our new couch – it’s our formerly nappy, 11-year-old sleeper sofa. The poor old gal’s been through five grandkids urping, lots of drinks a-spilling, three puppies hopping, many people sleeping,  aa-anndd one old dog rubbing. (Tess has used it as her personal Fulminator for years.)

Old Red was too shabby to be chic, but we love her and didn’t want her in a landfill, so the old gal got some new threads.

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This soft red burlap should hold up better than the original red chenille, and we love the paisley so much, we got an extra pillow made. 

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Nice, huh? Carol Roddy with Second Chance Upholstery did it for, well, more an album than a song, but it was a bargain. Changed the lines of the couch from straight contemporary to more of a Restoration Hardware/slipcover look, but whatever. It’s fine.

So there’s one tip: Salvage your old furniture rather than buying new. Anything you can keep out a landfill is a plus. If you must have new furniture, find a new home for your old – please don’t leave it sitting sadly on the curb.

And remember, though things are grim and hearts are broken, beauty is all around us. Let little things help where they can.

For example, when we went to get a perky little Noble fir tree (after researching at some length the pros and cons of artificial vs. dead-live), these ($3.50 each) lovelies asked to come home with me. They needed little TLC in regards to some broken leaves but they seem to like their new pots (which we already had). Aren’t they sweet?

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Violet and Sybil are named for my grandmother’s sisters. Verna Jewel (my grandmother’s namesake) has lived in the kitchen for years. These girls are upstairs in my office. 

I’ll end with one more photo from our virtual Climate March efforts. I’m very proud of my 80-year-old mother for her interest and concern.

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Love these folks to pieces. 

Deep breaths. Until next time …

Help put the brakes on the climate change train

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Don’t know what happened to my “Bridge Out” poster from the ’70s.

A couple of times lately, Mother has brought up a poster I had in my room as an older teen. Though she was slightly mortified when guests in our home saw it, she didn’t make me take it down – and now she wishes we still had it.

Just last Sunday she said it seemed to perfectly sum up the state of the world. She’s getting pretty hip at 80.

I’ve actually been trying to find a copy of that poster to buy for years now. My Beatles 10th anniversary poster turned up in the attic about 25 years ago, but my understated “Oh, shit” and my “Overpopulation” poster by surrealist artist John Pitre have vanished.

I did re-buy an old copy of “Overpopulation” on eBay, at 10 times what I paid at Peaches Records for my original – it and “Bridge Out” each cost $3.50, back then, if I remember correctly. “Overpopulation” is a scary, dystopian image, as you can see below, but you can also see where my mind was at 18 or so. I’ve been concerned about the state of the world for a long time.

We’re past the tipping point with climate change – and getting there with population, the great elephant in the room no one wants to address anymore. (Remember zero population growth, baby boomers? We used to talk openly about such things.)

We still need to reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, etc., etc., but the problem is so much bigger than we regular folks can solve.

The guys standing around the train are the ones who have to get with the program. We can do our part by voting climate change deniers out of office. We can put pressure on governments via marches and protests. We can educate ourselves, support and demand clean energy, write letters to the editor, boycott Koch Brothers products. But our leaders are going to have to get us on the right track.Letter to Ed 1

If you don’t know who the Koch Brothers are or why you should care, please read this article. http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/01/27/381954047/koch-brothers-put-price-tag-on-2016-889-million

It tells you much more, but in a nutshell, the Koch Brothers fund bogus climate “science,” corrupt politicians with money, and work to change the face of American politics – and America – in a  most horrific way.

I can tell you, also in a nutshell, to vote against them with your shopping habits – avoiding any Georgia-Pacific products, Chevron, Union and Conoco gasoline is a start, but a comprehensive list of their holdings is mind-boggling.

Let me refer you to this well-written post from “The Fifth Column” blog – you’ll find more info on the Kochs and a long list of their products.

http://kstreet607.com/2011/02/23/boycott-koch-industry-products/

Climate reality is grim, but I choose to remain optimistic. We can and must still do our part with our daily habits and actions, the topic for next time.

6thBut in the meantime, you might want to start reading The Sixth Extinction, if you haven’t. I highly recommend it, whether you’re just jumping on the climate-reality train or you’ve been blowing its whistle for years

 

 

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Can I hang this without scaring the grandkids?

Breathe deeply and carry on

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The begonia on the top left is the offspring of the one in the kitchen. The little fern next to her has one baby in the kitchen. The beauties on the seat are fairly new family members – both have purple on the back of their leaves,which made them must-haves, of course. (They also called my name ever-so politely and said they needed homes.) The little antique school desk is one Mother may or may not have used at her elementary school in Russellville, but that’s definitely from whence it came.

Last Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, obviously did not turn out the way we expected.

climate realityAs a new graduate of The Climate Reality Project’s leadership training, one of my early actions (I haven’t done a presentation yet) was holding a “24 Hours of Reality” live-streaming watch party. I’d been streaming since 11 a.m. and hadn’t heard any news all day.

Susan, who arrived early, had just left for home, and Cai, Julia, John and I were watching and waiting on others to arrive when a visibly shaken Al Gore interrupted the broadcast to cancel the event in light of what had happened and in solidarity with Paris (where the “24 Hours of Reality” event was based).

We quickly switched to regular television to find out what had happened – sickening news – and I got busy telling people on their way or who were planning to come the next morning not to come after all.

We had to cancel our party and Climate Reality had to cancel the event, but as disgusting, evil  and vile as the actions of the misguided murderous gang was, and as much as the rest of their gang hopes to frighten the rest of us, we can’t live in fear. We can’t let them win.

The same is true for climate change – the reality is frightening, but we must do what we can to change things, adapt as best we can to our new reality, and keep going. Doing nothing to make a difference is the scariest possibility.

But we’ll save that for another time. Today I want to focus on something soothing, at least for me: functional beauty in the form of houseplants. The function is cleaning the air indoors, and the beauty is obvious. Yes, they take a little love and grooming, and some of the ferns can be as messy as house pets, but love them and they’ll reward you. And love you back.

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The ficus just came back in from the back deck. Her sister, an elderly schefflera arbicola Trinnette,  has an allergy to aphids which requires her to live indoors all year. I think they’re happy to be reunited.

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The poor scraggly fern and the philodendrons live in the bathroom all year, but the feisty younger fern, who was split off from her bedraggled mother last year, just came in from the deck.

Houseplants have been a big part of my life since I turned 18, and that was a long, long time ago. They’re good for my soul and good for our lungs. They’re also a commitment – I always leave detailed instructions for their care when we travel – and I can’t help but grieve a bit when one goes belly up, as happens at times. But I can’t imagine living without them.

Speaking of travel, if you do, please don’t stop. Please don’t live in fear. That’s not living at all.

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Old fashioned love

One of my favorite pictures of all time. Ben must've been all of 7 months, if that.

One of my favorite pictures of all time. Ben must’ve been 7 months, if that. Following my kids around with my Minolta was one of my hobbies in the old days.

My baby boy is 37 today. So many things have changed, but that old fashioned love I learned about the morning he was born will never waiver. Ben was my little buddy, my reason to live, my greatest love.

His baby sister came along 15 months later, but parental love grows exponentially, so nothing changed, except he had to share my lap.

I’m proud of you son. I’ll love you forever.

Another of my favorite Ben pics is this one from 15 or so years ago. Email was still all cool and exciting when he sent me this one, from a ship at sea, no less.

Another of my favorite Ben pics is this one from 15 or so years ago. Email was still all cool and exciting when he sent me this one, from a ship at sea, no less.