The Hours They Do Go By

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I’ve been trying to count only sunny hours lately. It’s challenging on many fronts. I know I’m not alone in this.  But spring is on the way again, the days are getting longer and despite snow (!) warnings for this weekend, it will come. Just as it does every year.

Since I last wrote to you, I’ve been playing hooky but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle.  I’ve just been working on things on the personal side. SO many things have been put on hold for far too long and it’s time to get moving.

Two years later and we still have a storage Pod in the driveway…I think this wave of construction is finally complete. Now comes the task of bringing everything back into the house and either getting it organized or letting it go.

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Looking at trim for new curtains

I’ve finally re-engaged with the remake of the living room, too. After 21 years, both the curtains and the furniture need rehabbing. For 2 years I have had a bolt of fabric standing in the corner, waiting for me to have the time to pick out trim and get it made into new curtains. As a closet interior decorator, this is a fun project. Except that I am having a dickens of a time finding fabrics that I actually love. I’ve been hitting all the fabric stores for 3 months now and have yet to find a combination that gets me really excited.

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Major pruning and garden clean-up is underway

I’ve also managed to get some much-needed time in the garden.  It had been so neglected for the past couple of years that I felt really sad every time I went outside.  There’s a ways to go but at least we’ve made a start. I’ve gotten all the roses pruned and we’ve cut out a lot of dead stuff from the shrubbery.  Garden beds are getting cut back and raked.  And with this crazy weather – 75 degrees one day and then 35 the next – Mother Nature is pretty confused. With this last stretch of warm weather, all the cherry trees are in full bloom, the daffodils are already on the wane, and even the hostas have broken ground.  We are about a month ahead of schedule! People love the warmer temps but, honestly, it is not a good thing. We’ve already had to cut the grass for goodness sakes!!!

The other thing I’ve done is to make 2 trips home to work on sorting my parents’ house out.  This last trip, at the end of February, was concentrated on getting their bedroom cleared out.

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This is the view from one window in my parents’ bedroom. Pretty special.

As you may imagine, it’s been a bittersweet project.  My dad has been gone since June 2011 and it is still really, really hard for me to part with his clothes.  But my sister and I managed to go through all their clothes, separating them into piles for the church rummage sale, those that were good enough to go to the hospital commission shop in town, and those which just weren’t good enough to go anywhere.

This process has taken me back to the 10 years I spent doing estate sales.  I know how to clean out a house.  But when it is a house that your parents built and lived in for more than 60 years, it’s an emotional minefield and not a task to be rushed.  I am incredibly fortunate that I have had the blessing of time.

I stumbled across some marvelous finds. In the back of a closet was a large portfolio; when I opened it, I found a cache of handmade Valentines that my grandfather LaMotte (my mother’s dad) made for my grandmother.  Every year of their married life, Grandfather made Grandmother a Valentine.  Isn’t that wonderful?  But these are not Valentines in the usual sense – they are HUGE.  Some of them measure 2 feet in diameter!

Like this one from 1957:

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Grandfather’s 1957 message of love to Grandmother

It’s in the form of a play that reads clockwise all the way around.  I love everything about it. The thought of him cutting out all this stuff and pasting it together charms me no end.  What a treasure.  And what a testament to love.

In this same closet, way in the back on a shelf was a small metal box.  When I opened it, I saw 2 rubber-banded stacks of correspondence.  They were letters, telegrams, and flower cards people sent when both my sister and I were born.  I had no idea that this stash even existed.  I opened the top letter in “my” pile; it was from my godfather, “Uncle” Chuck Lloyd, congratulating my parents on my birth. And the tears started to flow.  My heart felt so full and yet so sad at the same time.  I couldn’t read any more. I just couldn’t. I put the rubber band back on and brought them back here with me for the day when I could sit down and read them all. And maybe just have a good big cry.

In a bottom drawer of my mom’s, I discovered 2 tiny perfectly starched embroidered infant dresses.  Just these 2 little things – I’m guessing 1 for each of us – out of all the clothes my sister and I have had during our lifetime, my mother lovingly ironed and saved for herself to remember her babies.  I don’t think I can explain the feeling in my chest when I unearthed these.  It was overwhelming.

But there was more. I reached back in the drawer and found a large envelope.  Inside were more letters.  As I pulled out the top stack, I was looking at my dad’s familiar handwriting.  The postmarks were all from 1950 and the dates were in perfect order: June to November.  These were the letters my father wrote to my mother during their courtship. They met on a blind date of all things and I think it was love at first sight. He wrote her several times a week for the next 6 months until their wedding on November 25, 1950.

I was faced with a dilemma: read them or not?  After all, my mom had burned her parents’ love letters, feeling that they were just too personal for anyone else to read.  I feel a little differently. I think letters are a gift, a tangible reminder of your parents’ love for one another.  But still…actually reading them is another matter altogether.  In the end, I did read a couple of them and then slipped them back into place to save for the next generation.

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A letter to Santa from my sister

In this same envelope were cards, all in my father’s hand – some from him (all with “to my darling” on the envelope) and some from us before we were old enough to write our own. There were some of those, too, once we started writing for ourselves.  Valentines and letters to Santa and Mothers Day cards.  What a trip down memory lane.  And all of it gathered meticulously together in this single envelope.

There were plenty of less emotionally charged moments, too.  I found my dad’s top hat from the 1940s for one thing.  They sure knew how to dress back in their day. Times have changed.

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Trying on my dad’s top hat

And there was this stuffed in the furthest recesses of a cupboard, all by itself:

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I’m back home now, continuing to count my blessings.

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I’ve been concentrating on Ginter Park Garden’s Club’s 4th Annual Spring Market.  Once again, I am co-chair and I’ve spent countless hours getting vendors lined up as well as trying to get the word out. We have an amazing group of local artisans and vendors this year. If you are in the Richmond area on March 25th, please join us.  We’d love to have you!   You can find out about it here.

I’m off to the Philadelphia Flower Show next Wednesday! I’ve never been and am soooo excited! The theme is Holland this year. Windmills! Tulips! Oh, my!

Oh, and I almost forgot! The Beekman Boys, Josh (l) and Brent, were here in Richmond last weekend at the Garden and Home Show. I caught up with them on Friday. What a treat to get in a little visit with them.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Stay warm and don’t forget to set your clocks ahead Saturday night before you go to bed! Next week will be so much lighter! Yippee.

Soon, I’ll be back in the workshop making new treasures, too!

I’ll leave you with some flowers, the lovely Lenten Rose (hellebore) to cheer you. Til next time, xoxo

How Did It Get to be February Already?

Time is speeding by at an alarming pace. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m still stuck in some other space-time continuum…like maybe around the first week of January.  Good grief.  I need for things to slow down.

I actually like winter just fine – granted I don’t live in Minnesota – but I like the turning inwards that the cold allows us to have if we so wish. I wonder if that is just a part of aging?

I’ve been able to do some buying so that when I am able to have some blocks of time to get out to my workshop, I can get busy making new things.  It won’t be soon enough!  Here are a few things that have come my way.

A passel of pretty things - just part of a large lot I was able to purchase from a friend who was down-sizing his collection.

A passel of pretty things – just part of a large lot I was able to purchase from a friend who was down-sizing his collection.

Three Wise Men from Germany. Made of papier mache and a little worn but I like them that way.

Three Wise Men from Germany. Made of papier-mache and a little worn but I like them that way.

And a lovely collection of little old corsages. I love using them in my wreaths.

And a lovely collection of little old corsages. I love using them in my wreaths.

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DId you all survive “Snowmageddon” in late January?  I ended up being home by myself – just me and the animals.  Some of Patrick’s blood tests were not going the way the doctors wanted (a combination of that pesky kidney still not totally settled into its new home plus some nasty side effects from the powerful anti-rejection meds).  So, on the Wednesday before the storm, they told us he would have to come back to the hospital at UVA for a couple of days.  They had hoped to get things straightened out before the storm hit  but that was not to happen.

I drove him up there late Wednesday afternoon and got back home about 9 that night. The storm rolled in Friday morning – and, boy, was it a doozy.  Here in Richmond, we got about 12 inches or so and when it drifted, it was even more.  I actually was not able to get my car out of our alley driveway until the following Tuesday.  Poor Patrick was stuck – they actually would have released him Saturday but there was no way on earth that anyone could get there to get him. Finally on Monday, when I once again could not get my car out, a friend was able to drive up to retrieve him.  It was a tough stay for him – he got awfully lonely and sad all by himself.  Because he tested positive for a CMV virus earlier, he was not allowed out of his room and anyone who entered had to mask and gown up.

For me, as long as we did not lose power or heat, I was doing ok.  I actually love the snow and I loved being able to sit inside and watch the winter wonderland unfolding out my windows.

This was the scene Friday afternoon as things were beginning to crank up.  How could anyone not think this is beautiful?

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And exactly 24 hours later, this is how the same scene looked.IMG_5164 - Version 2

Saturday turned into a whiteout.  It was quite something to behold.IMG_5236 - Version 2This is looking out to the front yard and across the street.IMG_5244And just a little bit later, you could barely make out the trees in the front.  It made for an interesting impressionistic view.IMG_5250Looking out an upstairs window towards the playhouse and neighbors’ yards.IMG_5247 - Version 2

Emma P doesn’t mind going out in it and gamboling. Thank goodness,  But the snowballs she attracts all over her paws and legs the second she goes out are a real pain.  It takes forever to get them off.IMG_5234 - Version 2

As night fell, the view continued to be beautiful.  Even Gabby liked it just fine.IMG_5155

The Christmas lights were still up and our solitary reindeer proudly stood guard over the front door.IMG_5135 - Version 2

Unfortunately, once the sun came out on Sunday he was mortally wounded by an avalanche off the roof. 😟

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This was the scene on the patio looking towards the door the Mister generally goes in and out of.  That’s a lot of snow!  Maybe it was a good thing he wasn’t home after all.IMG_5264 - Version 2 (1)

Sunday morning, Emma P And I went out to see what was going on in the ‘hood.  It was tough walking but, oh, so beautiful.IMG_5274

We are so blessed with our neighbors.  Our next door neighbor took it upon himself to shovel the front walk and sidewalk AND to make a path for me from the kitchen door to the alley where my car was.

IMG_5266 - Version 2 I tried to dig out the car but even my Swedish all-wheel drive was no match for the drifts in the alley.  I got stuck.  Until the garbage trucks or some other large vehicle came by, I was going nowhere.  But my back-door neighbors, who were away from home for the storm, got back Monday afternoon and their strong bunch of teenagers dug so much snow from around the car that it looked like an airport runway.  Dad drove their big SUV up and down the alley a few times and, voila!  I could get out.

What would we ever do without our neighbors?

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But enough about snow.  It’s all gone now – even the mountains of dirty snow in all the parking lots.

The following Saturday, a friend and I made our way down to Petersburg to go antiquing.  I was hoping to find some Christmas treasures.  And though we had a fun time, we came home empty-handed.

If you are ever in Petersburg, VA be sure to have lunch in the Blue Willow Tea Room.  We had a lovely, leisurely time which fortified us to get back out on the hunt for treasure.

This chalkboard paint mural is on the side of a building on one of Petersburg’s main streets downtown.  It gave us pause for thought.  As I read what people had written, I was in turns heartened, saddened, taken aback, or delighted.  What do you want before you die?IMG_5291 - Version 2

Sadly, we got to this place too late.  It is a rambling rabbit’s warren of stuff and I’ve found some terrific things there in the past.  Still, the window display was interesting.  I especially liked the “folks” in the upstairs windows.IMG_5293 - Version 2

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February 4th marked exactly 3 months since the transplant surgery.  I’m a superstitious soul and had not taken off the orange “Care Partners” bracelet they gave me at the hospital that day.  The bracelet is kind of like a pass to get into and out of the hospital and parking deck.  I finally reached the point where I felt comfortable taking it off so I asked Patrick to do the honors.IMG_5322 - Version 2

Perhaps we should have celebrated but I’m not anxious for the universe to think I am getting too cocky so I kept it on the down low.  Still, I feel like things are moving slowly but surely in a positive direction.  I think the pace is way too slow for him, though. That’s understandable – he has been through hell and back.

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Last Sunday, I spent some time catching up on magazines and finally got to the Winter edition of one of my favorites, an obscure little gardening publication called Green Prints.  It’s a delight, a soul soother, and one of those small things that helps me to retain some faith in the goodness of the world around me.

As usual, there was something that was just right.  It is the italicized quote in the below photo.  It’s good to have a reminder of just what you need every now and then when you’re feeling down or worried about things.  It was really gray and gloomy outside but I felt so much better after reading this.
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I think I am going to use this quote to make a new Glittermoon card.  What do you think?

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m going to leave you with a photo of an early Valentine I received from Paddy.  He had someone take him to a local French bakery on Thursday.  It was really yummy!IMG_5336

Happy Valentine’s everyone!