Busy times…

Over the past month, we have committed to hosting a wedding in August, a Bar Mitzvah in September, a wedding in October, and a ten year anniversary wedding reception in our barn.

I babysat a friend’s three kids for a few days, during which I got very little done besides cooking and keeping the house somewhat clean. I dealt with a sprinkler station that had a major leak due to voles (underground field mice) eating holes in the plastic piping, leaking backflow assemblies, a rabbit in the garden, a squirrel on our patio, bored tween/teen grandkids, the family dynamics between my son and his ex-wife.

I have had to start files for all the events we are hosting, and figure out how to shore up a weak pergola for the wedding. Tomorrow I have to get the wood for that project and get it stained for the workers who arrive on the 18th. Hopefully it is ready to use by the 24th, when we are hosting an outdoor bridal shower.

I have flowers to plant. A garden fence to finish putting up, raised beds to move into the garden space, and an irrigation system to design and install.

My freeze dryer gave me a vacuum pump error message, so I spent part of today going through their troubleshooting process. After I think I got it working again, I installed a software update. We’ll see how it works tomorrow when I put a batch in.

My honey needs a ride to his specialty chiropractor and hour away, and somewhere along the way, I would like to spend a few minutes making some 3 dimensional flowers for the wall in my office. We have 10’ ceilings, which make rooms look bigger, but can also lead to a lot of bare spaces.

The list is never ending. What doesn’t get done today, will be forwarded to tomorrow’s to do list. Someday, maybe I’ll finish. Probably not, but, hey, hope is good for the soul! I have to Lear. To carve out time for fun things, for building relationships with other women, with my grands, with my Creator. May today be one step closer in your life to finding Balance.


Missing sanity…

The past two years has been a flurry of building a house and stick built shop. Managing subs, scheduling deliveries, meeting with inspectors, and many long, hard days of physical labor.

Now that all that is done, it is time for the finishing touches. There is a punch list with about 40 small items that need to be completed. Things like shim the shop toilet so it doesn’t jiggle and we don’t damage the floor flange, put up the range hood extension piece on the chimney to cover the pipe, and put the decorative hardware on the garage doors. It’s also time for landscaping.

Landscaping for us will be scheduling our excavator to come out and fine tune what he did last year for lawn prep. He did it last year, but we ended up with vole/mole problems in the lawn area, so we put off hydro seeding until this spring. Good thing we did. Over the winter, there was quite a bit of ground settling with the new soil that had been spread, and we were able to see that we had a drainage problem with our gutter downspouts. The excavator will be addressing all of this with five truckloads more of topsoil, and fixing our downspout issue. As soon as that is done, we can call for hydroseed if. Then the sprinklers will be running almost nonstop for a few weeks until the seed sprouts.

In the midst of all this, I have been scrambling to find cedar 2x6s, 2x8s, and 8x8s to build a pergola, and get all the materials for building a greenhouse/shed combo for all my gardening stuff. Containers, tools, soil, fertilizer, etc. I have been able to source the posts from a local, custom miller. The frame and top materials from a local specialty wood supplier, and the decorative 1×2” pieces from someone in a neighboring town. Because the posts are custom and will take about three weeks to manufacture, I had to work with my builder to rearrange the schedule a bit, since he will be here in one week. Apparently there are now shortages of many materials that we once took for granted.

Speaking of shortages; I also had material delivered today for building a greenhouse/garden shed. I have all the materials to frame it and cover all the sides, but my supplier for twin walled polycarbonate has absolutely no panels available for the roof, and isn’t sure when their order will arrive. They are hoping before the end of June. It’s a good thing it will be good weather for the next four months. The roof won’t be critical until autumn. Until then, my few greenhouse plants will enjoy lots of fresh air!

I am currently sitting in a uhaul, waiting for some of the pergola lumber to be loaded. Which explains why I have time to blog. Once they are done, I head to a hardware store for a twelve foot long sonatube. That’s a tube of compressed paper, or sometimes metal that is used to hold cement around posts in the ground. Once that is added to my load, it is home to unload the wood, then gas up the beastly truck on the way to return it.

Once all that is done, I will pick up my dad ant home and get him out of the house to run errands. I could really use some home time to prepare for the upcoming feast of Shavuot/Pentecost that we are hosting on Sunday, but since my father injured his hand/wrist in a fall a couple weeks ago, he hasn’t been able to drive. So it falls to me to make sure he can get out of the house daily.

As time consuming as it is to be the caregiver for my aging father (83), I don’t think I would do it differently. I cannot even imagine home trying to make it on his own with his limited budget. And he would be lonely. The days I spend with him I cherish, as I know that each day brings us closer to the end.

I pray that you find a way to cherish whomever it is that takes up your time today. Tedious as it may be, inconvenient as it may be. whether it be a toddler, a teen, a widowed sibling, a sick spouse or an aging parent. Time is short, let’s make it count by making life more beautiful for the people in our lives.

Spring is here!

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit early. Let me live in my fantasy.

The days have turned warm, in the 50s and sunny, while the nights hover near the brisk freezing mark. I’ve been seeing numerous honey bees already, although there is nothing blooming for them yet. The telltale Robins have been in the yard, and you can hear the songs of the birds in the early morning when I go out to pickup the newspaper from the driveway.

The other day I spent an hour or so planting seeds in starter pots. Each pot was labeled with a popsicle stick bearing the seed’s name. They will sit in the sunny south windows of our shop until they are large enough to go into my little makeshift greenhouse outside. It’s not heated, but by then, what I have should be enough protection from the cooler nights. It was a relaxing time, reviewing our garden plan, what to plant and where. I never realized how scientific gardening was. You can’t plant broccoli next to tomatoes. Corn, beans and squash are beneficial to each other, so plant them together. I figure once I have a plan all charted out for this year, I will use the same chart each year and just rotate the whole thing through the different planter boxes I have. That way the tomatoes won’t go into the box the potatoes were in for a couple years. Now I just need to remember to water them, but not too much.

With our shop being MOSTLY done (said in the same voice as Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max from the movie Princess Bride), my thoughts and energy have turned to the landscape of our property. The lawn areas were prepped last year, but the rain saturated ground really settled in a few places. We will have to bring in some more dirt to fill in some craters, and then loosen up the top of the dirt just before we hydroseed in mid May. The calendar had to be consulted to find the perfect spray date. We have Passover, the day of Firstfruits, and the feast of Unleavened Bread coming up the last weekend of the month for a week. Then seven weeks later is Pentecost/Shavuot. All of these include large group gatherings in our shop with lots of kids that love to run around in the dirt. We wouldn’t want to try to control that, so we will spray after the early May gathering. There aren’t any other gatherings until Fall. That should give us some cool time to get the seed started before the summer heat hits. Hopefully we will have a decent lawn by the first of July for our family reunion we will be hosting.

I have checked my garlic bed for signs of life, but haven’t seen any yet. I admit, I have been accused, or rather described, as being impatient with my gardening. I know we aren’t supposed to plant outside until there is no snow on our bellweather mountain, but we have a short growing season in this part of the country. I have been known to plant outside and cover my plants with large five gallon water bottles (with the bottoms cut off, and the open top, they make perfect mini greenhouses), and hope for the best.

Our little kittens, who are now grown Tom cats, seem to sense it is spring too. They spend a lot more time staring out the windows in the mornings, in between wrestling and and playing floor hockey with a small, sisal rope ring. The black one is itching to explore the outdoors. I can tell, because he wants to scratch the screens and tried to crawl between the screen and the open window the other morning. The grey tiger is content to sit in the window and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds from the comfort of the indoors.

Spring used to mean a few days for me to get away and join a bunch of twice a year lady friends for scrapbooking at a beautiful local church camp on the lake. This year, with all the virus restrictions, staff cuts and more, the large group is not allowed, and the camp doesn’t have the staff to plan retreats. You can plan your own retreat, but are limited in numbers and have to follow strict virus protocols. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. So, I opted to join a mid sized group in a hotel nearby. The organizer and I became acquainted last year, and I was graciously invited to join their group. It will be twice the cost of the other retreat due to the hotel room costs, but no restrictions to comply with. It should be a fun time. And, since I am not able to travel to see my daughter yet, I have some extra money set aside. It is usually a relaxing time when I can sit at my computer and really focus on getting pictures made into books. If I am inspired quickly, I can get one book done each day of the retreat. Now I have to decide which books to work on. My own yearly albums (I am finally up to 2012)? An album of photos our daughter sends of their family? A start to finish photo journal of the home building process?

Spring is a happy time for me. A time of excitement and expectation. I hope that spring is filled with joyous expectation and hope for you also.


A staple in the finger due to numb fingers.

A wallop to the top of the head when I didn’t see the board above my head in the rafters.

A bruised shin when I missed the last step off the ladder.

A perfectly round bruise on the top of a finger. Still not sure how that got there.

Stiff hands from hours of pulling, holding and hammering.

Chronic shoulder pain from hours of having my arms over my head and moving ladders.

Bi-monthly massages help. The periodic epsom salt and essential oil bath do too, when I can find the time. And the hugs from my honey do too.

That said… I woke up today. I can walk, see, hear, and function. It is a great day and I am grateful to be alive. I won’t be working this hard forever.

New occupation…

It seems that during our building project, I have learned some new trades. I can now say I am a stripper. A wire stripper that is. Since we pulled a homeowner electrical permit for our electrical, I am learning tons about wiring a home, with wise counsel and guidance from a friend who is a licensed electrician. I have learned how to create electrical circuits, design my power panel, run wire, strip the sheathing off the ends of the wire, staple the wire to support it, and so much more.

In the process of working on these projects, I have also earned the title “rafter rat” by my co-workers, because of having to work in the rafters to run the wire and staple. This was a task that challenged me. When one of the guys on the job asked me to help sheet the gables by getting into the rafters to hold a side of plywood, my ego had me respond quickly with “sure!” After taking a deep breath, I climbed the ladder, and stepped onto the rafters. I did fine, and after some time, became fairly adept at maneuvering through them without hitting my head or palming a board with a nail sticking out of it.

The whole being in charge of building a house has been a real growing process for me. I have had to learn to stand up and speak my mind to the foreman about what is important to me, the homeowner, his boss. I have had to initiate hard conversations, request things be redone, and more. It has been hard and sometimes stressful. But it has also been extremely rewarding. To realize what I am truly capable of. To see a drawing become a house is an amazing thing.

We are turning a corner soon. We hope to have the plumbing and electrical done by and inspected by mid January. After that, the subs start coming in to do their thing. Siding, insulation, drywall, paint, flooring, cabinet installation, doors installed, the house trimmed, closet racks installed, etc. it sounds like a lot, which it is, but it will go quickly. In no time, we will be moving in. Moving is still a few months off, but is beginning to look imminent.

It has been a fun process, but I will be glad when it is done. I will keep you posted.

8am and all is well…

Have you ever noticed, that when you are super busy, if you stop to really think about it, you are even busier than you think?

It’s been a long week for me and I have to put it down tangibly to get it out of my head. I need to clear some “desktop” space so there is room for all the new stuff that needs to go there for a while.

There I was, laying in bed, at 6:30, praying and telling God how grateful I was for his multitudes of mercy towards me daily, when my grogginess was jolted by the sound of a wretching cat. I didn’t have to mentally mark the spot, as the grass she left behind would be enough. But, there is always a follow up puke. I stumbled to the bathroom to grab a washcloth to mark that one. Since I was near the bathroom, I took my homeopathic remedies for the day, and added one for the nasty looking spider bite I earned on my forearm while harvesting our strawberry bushes. I remember feeling a poke, but didn’t notice the results until last night.

But wait! I digress. Back to the cat. After taking my remedies, I slipped my Birks on (yes, I wear them indoors. I have horribly flat feet, and my ankles and knee start to hurt after just a couple hours without something orthopedic to help) and went downstairs to collect the necessary cleaning supplies for the cat vomit. A paper towel for the grass, smell remover/cleaner and a towel. Carpet cleaned? Check. Down the stairs I went, again, to put away all the supplies. Bring the newspapers in from the front porch? Check. Fill everyone’s water jugs for the day? Check. Get breakfast ready for my honey and I? Check.

And so much more! It’s the little, daily chores that really add up in a day. I won’t bore you with the rest of them. I did actually, force myself to sit down at the table to eat breakfast and read the comics, and organized my day. I am a written on paper checklist person. I don’t trust my phone reminders or calendar, I need it on paper.

Our house building project has been good for me, on a personal development level. I think I said this before, I feel like I am riding a wave, wanting to be in control, but only having a thread of true control. That has been a challenge for me, to learn to go with the flow. But I feel good about everything. Amazingly.

This week has been a whirlwind, with not much on each days list getting accomplished, because issues of urgency take precedence. The phone calls from our foreman to bring this, call them, pay for that, dealing with a list of conditions to clear for our mechanical permit, each one adding a phone call or more research, etc. Yesterday I wash Today, I am doing something for me. Writing in my blog, followed by weeding in my own yard. During the hot, summer months, I like to get out in the yard early, before the temperature soars. Once I head indoors, I will buckle down for some more paperwork and phone calls.

And, the call of the urgent has just come through. I have to meet my foreman to go over the blueprints for the house. Off to a coffee shop I go. The weeding will have to wait.

Coffee break!

Only I can’t have coffee!!! Apparently it nullifies the homeopathic remedies I have been trying to control my hot flashes, or power surges as some prefer to say. The real bummer about that is that I have avoided becoming a coffee drinker for 53 years. It wasn’t until last summer that I started, and only because I had found the perfect recipe for joy in a cup.

You see, there was this recipe in a magazine for cold brewed coffee, and I decided to try it for my honey, who is a two large cups a day man. Anyway, I made it with the organic Brazilian coffee that we order from Sleepy Monk Coffee in Cannon Beach, OR. On the periodic occasions that I did drink coffee, Brazilian seemed to be the only type I could stomach, that is with the right amount of sugary creamer. I know it is beginning to sound like I am a non coffee drinking coffee snob, but I can explain. I had coffee when we visited some friends for a weekend. Normally I would just sip whatever was served, and pour half out. It was more about the act then the taste. That morning’s coffee changed everything! Smooth, buttery, not acidic. If I was ever going to drink coffee, it would be Brazilian. So, I started buying it for my honey, so that I could periodically imbibe with him on a lazy Sabbath morning.

So… here I am. Taking a break from the hustle of my day, and I can’t sip on my liquid joy. Insert sad faces emoji here.

What hustle am I taking a break from? I am so glad you asked! After preparing breakfast for my honey and starting my before the weekend chores, I ran over to the rental we have sold. There were some items on the inspection that need to get fixed. Today was mostly cleaning up and clearing out. The doors and trim will be installed Sunday, and the handyman will be there Monday or Tuesday to do the things I physically cannot. Replace vent boots on the roof, create a new hole in the door jam so the door latch will go into it and keep the door closed, and other such stuff. After leaving there, I picked up my dry cleaning (yes, that is a real thing when you wear wool sweaters and dresses. It’s not just in movies), stopped by the store to see what new plants had arrived for the garden, popped by the local home improvement store to get some “black goop to coat the nail heads with” when we fix the vent boots, and return some unused pipe insulation. I polished off the last of the potato chips I keep in the car on the way home to get some lunch, which had to wait until I unloaded my car and put things away. That is the perfectionist in me.

After my non coffee drinking coffee break there will be a few more chores to finish up my Sabbath preparations. Hopefully I will have time to make a sweet potato pie to serve cold for breakfast! My favorite way to start Sabbath.


I make mine with puréed sweet potato, substitute three eggs for the arrowroot powder, and I add a drop of each spice in essential oils for an extra kick. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

My table is a mess

My kitchen table is a mess, which extrapolated out, means my brain is scrambled. Sometimes I just have two many plates balancing on sticks that I am trying to keep spinning. I really enjoy the periodic days that I can leave my car at the shop and be trapped in my own home, with no place to go except for a walk around the park. Yea, literally. We have a 5 acre park in the middle of our slice of suburbia. Strolling I can make it from my door, around the park and back in 15 minutes. But wait, I digress.

The kitchen table should be a place to gather with family, a beautiful meal on the table, kids chattering and poking at one another while the adults calmly discuss life. Ha! That picture came from my growing up years (am I dating myself here?). We are empty nesters. Sorta. My 81 year old father now lives with us. He can still take care of himself , but after my mom died, he got lonely. And, being on a fixed income, we all thought it would be silly to have two families paying for internet, cable, electricity, etc. Thus, he lives with us, as my grandmother lived with my family when I was a preteen. Again, my mind has slipped in its focus of the table. Back to the table.

Today my table has a spiral bound notebook that I am keeping track of the timing of my hot flashes and the different homeopathic remedies and what doses I am trying for them. There is a package of study material for me to go through, as I am diving into the study of homeopathy. I am tired of using herbs, and medicines to deal with symptoms, many of which have side effects. I have had a couple small successes with the homeopathy, which have encouraged me to pursue more to possibly deal with some chronic issues of health. You don’t get to be mid 50’s without some health issues, especially since I grew up in the era that was in the midst of the switch from Whole Foods to convenience/processed foods. Back to the table…

There is also a white sticky note stuck to the table conspicuously that says “bring new plants in from backyard.” Later, when I get home from work, I will have to move that note to my bedstand, or onto my toothbrush so that I actually do remember to do that. Our evenings here are still hovering near the freezing mark, and we are still frosting over. As beautiful as frost is on the grass, it will kill my the new seedlings I have purchased for the raised planter beds my honey so lovingly has made for me the past 6 years. Hopefully the broccoli, cauliflower and curly kale can survive my forgetfulness. Back to the table…

The local town paper and the neighboring city paper are sitting there, waiting for me to read them over breakfast, which I am still not sure what will be. I really don’t “read” them per se, it is more of a skim over headlines until I find something that interests me. What new business is going in where, community events that might be a fun thing to dream about going to, but deciding not to because I would rather stay home and garden or have coffee on the patio with my honey and cat. Of course, the funnies page is always a must read, and it gets read last to make sure I end it with a good taste in my brain. The news can be a scary read these days. Back to the table….

Lastly, there is a list of things that I need to repair on the rental we are selling. We have had this little place, with a great renter, for the last five years. But there is a five acre piece of land we have owned almost as long, that has sat vacant, just waiting for us to build our dream. This year we decided it was our “pearl of great price” (bible verse Matthew, chapter 13, verse 46), we sold our two rentals so we could build this year. It doesn’t matter how great a renter you have, any house has repairs to be done when the furniture disappears. Paint touch up (or repainting altogether, which is what I will be doing), sparkle holes, re-caulk the kitchen counter backsplash, replace light bulbs, etc. Add to that the list of things the buyer’s inspector flagged that have to be done, and I have about a weeks worth of work to do, and a handyman who is not so busy he can’t fit me in during this building boom our area is in. I don’t want to break in a new one. I like the three I have used all my adult life. But, alas, they too are aging out of their professions. The rental is today’s job. As soon as I decide what to put on the table for breakfast.

Hope you have an awesome day doing whatever it is that you do!