Saturday, January 29, 2022

Tiptoe Through the Daffodils With Me

Inside and outside, we have a lot going on. William put himself in charge of clearing out our "pool" shed. We are taking out the dilapidated, old pool, and the shed that has housed chemicals, cleaners, sports equipment, beach and camping stuff, is going to be dismantled and moved (somehow) around to the area where the goats and hens live. Then the pool shed will be reassembled and renamed "feed shed" or "barn." This is all in preparation for the ADU... accessory dwelling unit, aka granny flat, aka detatched home addition. There. I've said it. We are building an ADU, where the pool was (is, but not for much longer.) It will be a two room house. It will be Max's chance to have a bedroom, at last. And then we have about a half dozen other ideas about renting space, or maker space, or gallery space, or guest space. Guest space. That has such lovely conotations. I will be so relieved and thankful to be out of pandemic days, and hosting family and friends, all of us bumping into each other in the kitchen, hugging, laughing into the wee hours, and lingering over cups of tea. Alex and Bambi have taken the initiative to remove our poor mimosa tree which is dormant, now, but also plagued with a fatal beetle infestation. They've been dismantling pool equipment, and sprucing up the side yard around their end of the Bird House. Maria's job is to carry on being a student, an artist, and robotics team member. Max is nearing completion of his consulting contract, and they've invited him to go ahead and "work overtime." Geoff is already there, working overtime, and all the time, and still making time to figure out the many steps and layers of preparing for an ADU to be built over a filled in pool. We passed soils testing, and Septic Bob probably has all the tests, documents, seals, and approvals, so maybe we will be getting septic pits dug, soon. The order of operations on all of this is epic... we should have one of those detective boards, full of pins and notes, and red string linking one event to the next, but all crisscrossed and web-like!
Did I leave anything out? Well. Yes. I've only touched the tip of this iceberg. The upstairs bathrooms are getting repaired. We are replacing a front window, and that requires equipment rental. And... well, I would say this was complicated, but then you see the look of sheer glee on Geoff, and Mike's faces, and you know this was probably a bonus, more than a complication. Even our neighbor's plans are involved. The house next door sold this week, and because we have an easement road between us, with access to our backyard that we don't have a legal right to... well, we are eager to meet the neighbors, and have them like us enough to share the access while they construct their new home (They've already begun demolition on the old place. And I say "old place" with tender regard, because we love that old, sentimental, dear place.) The ladder to the attic is installed. And yesterday, Mike added a row of lights. Geoff gets that same look of sheer glee whenever he goes up there. I think he has a better imagination about this space (and its potential) than I do, though I agree, the lights help a lot! It used to be dark, dangerous, and scary. Now it's only scary.

The Old Place is all sweet memories of good friends, and a lot of wishful thinking.

I wasn't going to blog today. And I was especially not going to blog about anything sad, or heavy, or whiney sounding. God, I hope I don't sound whiney. It makes me feel self-conscious, embarrassed, to be seen as negative thinking, or complaining. If I have complained, or detailed too many woes, I... I won't apologize. Shame isn't going to help me, or anyone. I have come to the realization that a lot of us are struggling, or burdened, worried, sad, lonely, anxious, angry, frustrated... name it! There has been a considerable uptick in sickness, trauma, sharp turns, upheaval, grief, and distress. Sometimes even good news has come as a shock! This week, I have been a patient, concerned ear for many people, and my heart is heavy for them, for friends, for family, for people I hardly know, but that have opened their hearts to me. Maybe we can't cure each other, or solve everyone's problems, but I won't shame anyone, and I hope to include myself in this, for being human in extraordinary times. Don't you wish we could have some long spells of ordinary, normal times? So, like I said, I didn't want to blog, but I needed to distract myself from things, and I would dearly love to give anyone else in need of something "different," a diversion, maybe an amusement. I can go over more details and faux drama about our home improvement adventure, or I can share more flowers, cats, and talks about tea, birds, flannel sheets, floor tiles, paint chips. Anyway, if you need to talk, to release some pressure, I hope you know someone that will listen, then say something gentle, that you find support, empathy, a moment of relief, clarity, light.
I was out, helping Geoff with an errand, and came upon this garden. The fragrance! Do you know daffodils? Or are these narcissus? I wonder, if I Google these, will I learn that they are related, Narcissus and Daffodils? I don't know. What I do know is that they made me pause, and wonder, and feel awe for the beauty in the world, for the fragrance of a cheery little blossom, and it's power to bring me back to gardens of my childhood. Even in late January, I felt the promise of Spring, of hope, and resillience. Virtually, but with as much love and caring as if we were in the same garden, I offer you a handful of these flowers, with gentleness, and caring for you.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Count to Ten, Breath, Repeat

We are back at it... home improvement projects are in full swing, again. We are so lucky! Mike is here, and using all of his skills to stop leaks, and fix problems, to upgrade things, and make our Bird House a cozier, prettier, safer, better home. You may recall my indecision, my hemming and hawing about how to finish our bathroom? It was down to choosing shower and flooring tile, considering colors, patterns etc? I really managed to drag that out, agonizing over the choices, and then being derailed by supply chain issues. Well, last week I settled all of the issues, and placed the order! What a relief!

But. Nope. Yesterday, I got an email from the supplier, to tell me that the flooring order had to be cancelled. Ok. I took a deep breath, went back to my inspiration boards and pages of saved ideas, and spent several hours scrambling to find something new. And I did! I found something lovely, and in stock, and affordable, and not slippery, not porous... etc.
Like it? Okay, well, don't get too attached, because a second, then third email came in, and you guessed it: The rest of order was cancelled due to supply chain issues. Not only was I missing my tile, but I am running out of time, because Mike is here, and working at his quick rate, so I need to keep the supplies ready to go! I spent two days running to the hardware store for things for the second bathroom upstairs that is getting repaired, and trying to find tile for our primary bathroom... tile that we like, that is available, non-porous, pretty, available. I admit, it doesn't sound as daunting and Herculean when I write it down, as it was in practice. It did, literally, take many many many hours, and lots of double checking, second guessing, and straining my brain. It's not all bad. Right? Once, I walked away from the line in the store, and went out through the nursery, just to look at the flowers. Looking at the flowers made a lot of the stress feel less consequential.

If you are stressed, too, I hope these images help relieve some of the heaviness.

William came with me to the hardware store, and shared some wisdom, his opinions, and his calm. Between him, the hours invested in looking at every tile ever made, and triple checking inventory and stocks in the store, and online... I made another order, and some of it is already being shipped, and ready to be picked up at the store! What a relief... I hope it's gonna stick, this time!

Meanwhile, we are still in a global pandemic (insert that sad trombone.) Some people won't vaccinate. Some people wear their masks beneath their noses. We have had twenty new reported cases from Maria's school, just since Monday, and another notice that she was exposed last week. Thankfully, she has tested negative. Thankfully, we have a few test kits at home, because the school asked her to test before coming back in, and gave us only 12 hours notice, and they don't reply to messages on their "hotline," and their test center didn't have appointments until the 31st. It's frustrating, and I count to ten, and remember that the schools were never designed to be pandemic control stations. Hey. It's not that any one thing is too much to handle, untenable, but the pressure drip, drip, drip that'll never stop, whoa, it's a lot. Thank you for the link, Anna Banana. Thank you for the earworms, Miranda.

Speaking of drips, this upstairs bathroom, had one of the three skylights that we covered over when we put on the new roof, and it leaked, badly. So, now, thankfully, Mike can repair the leak damages, drop the ceiling, add lighting, and get rid of the old fan. The fan sounded like it was grinding thumbtacks! The grout around the tub needs to be refilled, this time with something that flexes. Also, we need a new tub faucet, a shower valve, and to lose the glass doors, which with our hard water look like they are in a dingy fog, and no one wants to spend their lives scrubbing mineral deposits. Honestly, the new lights, even hanging from the unfinished drywall, and taking out those doors, already makes the room feel better, brighter, less gloomy. Maria is leaning toward shades of terra-cotta for paint around the shower room. She wants to gets William's view on this. The vanity and sink area is separate, and she's thinking of painting it Blackberry Jam. Oooh... I wonder what she would think of Tumeric, with Blackberry Jam. Hmmm... no. Too yellow, maybe?
Well, before we have to decide on paint color, there is one more skylight recess to repair. This one goes way way up, and Geoff and Mike agreed it would would be a prime spot to get attic access! Right now, to reach our furnace, and the connections for the solar, we have to go through a space in our closet ceiling. It's not convenient. Not. At. All. It means shoving a ladder in the small closet Geoff and I share, and then pulling yourself up into the attic. My clothes always come out dusty and littered from this effort, and it's a basic all around hassle. Now, we will have pull down stairs, and a wide entry. Plus, Mike is going to put down rudimentary flooring (cedar fence boards) and add a convenient light switch and a row of l.e.d. lights along the ridgeline. Geoff wants to put in a window, a desk and chair, a mini-fridge, hammock, bookcase, digital control boards, and other, untold features that will make this secret clubhouse the envy of all!
These are the flowers that I did not leave at the nursery, and in a moment, I am going outside to admire them, again, up close, then check on the daffodil bulbs I planted, and then I will look for eggs, feed the goats, chat with the hens, and remind myself to breath. Breath. A brand new notification just arrived, asking us to get Maria tested for COVID, again... We have been alerted that your child may have shared indoor airspace for 15 minutes or more with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 (ie they were in the same class, club, sport etc). We are following public health recommendations to ensure that the person with COVID-19 follows instructions for isolation and remains away from others until they can safely return to school. The individual with COVID-19 was in school while infectious on [1/24/22-1/25/22]; this is called the exposure period. Oh, and we have learned that some families are choosing to not report when their children have COVID, and they send their kids to school sick. Flowers. I am going to go stare at those flowers. And Breath.

Monday, January 24, 2022

A Happy Birthday

The original plan for celebrating Geoff's birthday was a picnic, which, unfortunately, we were compelled to postpone. Now I think on it, I am not sure how we were going to pull off a picnic, even without COVID meddling, because it's the busy busy busy season at Geoff's work, and he is at the computer 7 days a week, usually for 12-15 hours a day, including his birthday. Late Saturday night, Maria sent me a text... the invitation.
I wouldn't miss this for the world.

The first year of lockdowns, and staying home was hard, but it was novel, and we often said things like, "Well, we will make up for this, later." We will celebrate, or do-over, or try again, later. Now, staring at the prospect of going into a third year, and no one is feeling like we can ever make up for any of this, like one big party or trip, or celebration will compensate for what we've missed. I'm not whining, or feeling sorry for us. We have had our fun, and made the best of strange times, had great resources and opportunities to gather, play, engage, and thank goodness for the friends and family we have been able to connect with.

Maria's invitation was special. Extra so, because she took the initiative. She made a plan, and gave it a noteworthy boost. I probably take too much responsibility for making a success of events, and occasions, and I feel (way too much) responsible when the plans fall apart. And! Isn't it lovely to be invited? Ah, I love how this made me feel!

Maria was up early, to bake. I asked Geoff for any special requests for dinner, he had none, except "No beans." Fair enough. When the cake was out of the oven, and we had our tea, Maria and I hit the market, and the nursery. On the way home, we saw there were more birders on the street. This is the second group, this time from Iowa, and I helped them find the Grace's Warbler, too! While I was out birding, Maria finished the cake, with a lemon glaze, berries, and from the garden, calendula blossoms. Maria and Bambi discussed more teas and settled on four different ones to serve with the cake.

Bambi brought out her smallest tea cups, so we could sample each tea. After we finished the Advent calendar of teas from Adagio, we switched back to loose teas combined to make Dungeons and Dragons inspired mixes. The little rose tea cup? It's the first set Bambi received, from her Mom, when Bambi was five years old. I love that she was having tea parties as a child, and at the same time, Alex and the rest of us were enjoying tea parties, too.
Sunny and clear! Oh, it would have made a really lovely picnic day. With everyone. We had to wait for Geoff to finish up a work meeting, and when he joined us we tried all the teas, and ranked them. We relished Maria's lemon poppy seed cake... made with Jennifer's poppy seeds from Penzey's, which I am convinced made the cake taste even better. For lunch, I made fish tacos, with mango salsa, and no beans! Then Geoff asked if we'd like to take a walk, and after he worked a few more hours, we all went on good stroll. And, I apologize if blue skies and birdsong, gardens in bloom, etc, is torture to our friends in snowy climes! We really are fortunate, I know. Later, we had a fireside dinner. Paul and Janece brought their dinner, and we laughed. We talked, and laughed. Laughter can feel like a complete meal, like a present, like a long therapy session that leaves you recharged, healed. We counted stars, and named them, too. We sang Happy Birthday, and made some wishes.

Happy Birthday, Geoff. Thank you for making everyday a celebration, small moments big, and life better, with you in it.

From BirdHouse Notes: I am thinking about Maria... about how much her hair has grown since it was cut in Lockdown 1.0, about her Paradox T-shirt design being chosen for the team's shirt this year, about winter formal, and having to take another COVID test before school, since she was exposed last week. I am thinking about her mismatched socks, and how she carries three bags to school, and always a book. She just finished reading Piranesi, (Susanna Clark) the book William gave her for Christmas. I am thinking about the colors she would like to paint her bathroom, her bedroom, and whether she will go away for college, or be able to live at home. I am thinking I was sure I wanted her to go to one school, but now I feel very anxious and eager and want her to get into another, and we won't know what her options will be until March. I am thinking how things can take a seemingly long time, but then are actually moving much too quickly. I am thinking about how much I love her. January 25, 2022