Iced Tea Chat: The Season Awaits
Come in! The weather is so pleasant I thought we'd sit outdoors today and have peach iced tea and gingersnaps. What shall it be? The not quite finished front porch? It's a little shadier there just now. The back porch is nice and shady, too, and freshly swept, if not painted. Or shall we put up the wonky umbrella over the patio table and settle in the shade there? Hmmm?
We'll watch Maddie chase the bees. I swear these busy carpenter bees spend half their time playing with Maddie. I'll watch her minding her own business and suddenly there is a bee hovering over her as if to say, "Let's play" and off she runs to chase him down. Woe to any bee (or wasp, etc) she does catch because she kills them right away. The other day I was on the porch watching her as she went off to follow the cat to the front porch when a butterfly, a bee and a wasp all flew past at once, each going in different directions. She literally was stopped dead in her tracks by indecision. Poor silly dog. I laughed at her but oh it's too like us as well to know our path and then suddenly find ourselves with distractions that halt us, isn't it?
It is almost spring and outdoors looks like spring. Each morning when I get up, I am amazed how a few hours of warm air has transformed the world even more than it had the day before. If the yard looked beautiful on Saturday it was amazing Sunday morning. Here's Saturday's photo of the trees across the field:
So daylight savings time happened. The old icky thing. To 'get ahead' I set clocks ahead Saturday morning by one hour. We went off to bed at our usual 10:30 which read 11:30 on the clocks. I realized that meant in 5 hours I was gonna have to be up. Three poor nights of sleep preceded Saturday night. So wearily into bed and my eyes came wide open and there I was. I'd already been feeling anxious before bed and yes, it is a sleep anxiety. If you've ever been an insomniac or had troubles sleeping you'll understand bu for those you don't, you begin to worry that you won't sleep, or won't get enough sleep, which in turn builds into anxiety and robs you of sleep. It's a maddening. Eventually I cycle out of it and sleep normally but any change in routine or season is always upsetting. Late this past week, both the temperaures rose and we had the time change. I'd already upset the cycle by overdoing it on Wednesday and experiencing a lot of ankle pain that robbed me of sleep and as the week went on, it got worse.
And so here I was all over again, already having anxiety about sleeping, wide awake, John snoring in my 'good' ear with his arms wrapped tightly about me which meant I was feeling much too warm, the room fan running, the ceiling fan on, and the white noise machine turned up full blast. John never has trouble sleeping. Nope, he goes to bed, closes his eyes and he's asleep and that's that. Now just to be fair all the noise is his way of coping with an old trouble that plagues him every now and then... the noisier the room/house is the better that man sleeps.
I am the opposite. I have such a hard time sleeping that I prefer almost complete quiet when I'm trying to go to sleep. We compromised on a radio with a sleep button so that it timed off in an hour. However of late, just about the time I go to sleep is when the news comes on or they do station identification, etc. Jolted awake by the man or woman speaking in my bedroom, I would lie awake for hours. I've found the white noise machine quite soothing, provided it's not turned full volume.
There I was with entirely too much noise going on to drift to sleep. I sighed deeply and loudly and didn't disturb John in the least. After an hour, I rolled away from John, got up and turned down the white noise machine to a more soothing level, sprinkled my pillows with lavendar oil, and turned my good ear down into the pillow so I heard even less noise, kicked off all the covers and slept for two and a half hours. That was it. The alarm went off at 5 am and I was awake well before that. I thought I'd slip back off to bed but that wasn't happening either. I was a little psyched to begin the Spring cleaning.
I don't do seasonal cleaning anymore, not as I once did. I tend to try to tackle deeper cleaning tasks all throughout the year on a twice a year rotation. But there are things missed here and there. I had decided to focus this week upon my living room. I've already cleaned the walls, and gone about the edges of the carpet in the room with the vacuum. I hung new curtains last month and have just washed slipcovers, so it's not an odious task to say I'm spring cleaning the living room.
It's really just a matter of going a little deeper, pulling out hidden clutter, examining what's in the room and why. I'm shooting for a little more minimalism and a lot less clutterism. It does build up quickly and unexpectedly and it seems that one day I walk into a room and I have new eyes for it and I say, "Ugh! Time to tackle this one!" That's what's happened with the living room. The books really do overflow the bookcases and so I shall go back over them and perhaps cull a few more, if I possibly can. The little table where Ive meant to sit my computer when not in use is too full to put the computer upon. John has accumulated a number of things on the chair between our table and between the books used as risers under the lamp and the must haves, the table overflows and we've no place to put a cup of coffee or a glass. I've been trying to refresh the living room for the warmer seasons and things are out of place due to that. I thought perhaps by Spring cleaning I might well finish it up this week and take care of cleaning tasks, too.
On Friday, despite my ankle pain, I was determined to go to the Peaches to Beaches yard sale, at least a small portion of it. I've grown, honestly, quite tired of giving up on what I'd like to do because I am already hurting and know I will hurt more. John and I had a long talk about this on Friday at various points. Yes, it was hard to walk about, as many vendors were set up on uneven ground which really aggravates my ankle problems.
Over the years, I've avoided a lot of things I'd very much like to do because I knew the price at the end. It wasn't just my life that was curtailed when I was injured in that auto accident. My family often felt they had to pace themselves to what I could do so that I wouldn't feel left out, which I loathed nearly as much as the constant pain. We didn't visit places with stairs and we didn't stroll endlessly about or walk on the beach or hike or do any of the things my family might have done otherwise.
So two years ago when we were in the mountains, I stood gazing down that steep rugged hillside to the creek at the bottom and got mad and took myself off to go downhill. It was a major protest of having 'given in' as I put it, for far too long, to something that has robbed me of many nights sleep and plagued my days and after 20 odd years I'd had it with missing out. Did my ankles hurt after? Yes, and a few other things as well, but oh the great satisfaction I felt! Which grew even greater when I made it back UP hill! And for those wonderful sages who assured me that if I lost weight the pain would 'go away', bah humbug. 100 pounds lighter than I've been and the truth is the darned ankles hurt just as much as they ever did if I stand too long or walk about too much.
Anyway, all that to say, Friday, despite staying on my feet far too long on Wednesday and then doing too much again on Thursday, I was determined to go to Peaches to Beaches. I told John that Friday morning. "I'm hurting but I'm tired of this controlling my life." As he pointed out, "If we go visit just one booth and you say you've had enough, we can come home but at least you can say you beat it long enough to GO." Very true.
I visited perhaps 10 or 15 booths total and went up and down stairs and walked over uneven ground and I did feel the strain but then John was with me and he knew by my walk that I was starting to hurt enough to warrant a rest. So we went back to the car and just sat there for a bit before visiting another small area of vendors. He even suggested we eat our lunch in town rather than take it home as I'd thought he'd want to do. Oh he's clever that man. He knew I needed to stay off my feet a bit longer and eating a picnic lunch in the car was the way to go. I'm so glad he came along with me, because I really doubt I would have gone if he'd said he didn't feel up to it. He's good company, even when he's just hovering about people watching.
I found treasures for myself. Oh lovely things, not meant for the booth, but for me. First, books: one called The Country Wife which I've mislaid at the moment, but made me laugh out loud when I sampled a passage. She was writing about the Christmas List and budget not fitting together. 'While I wouldn't like anyone to die, I could not deny that our budget would appreciate it," or something close along those lines. It is written as a sort of journal of the months spent at the couple's country home, starting in June and working it's way through the months. I'm enjoying it a great deal. Ha! Found it! It is written by Dorothy Van Doren. I also purchased a 1970s book from Modern Bride, Happy Living for New Homemakers, A Bess Streeter Aldrich Treasury which includes two novels and several short stories and then a book with an intriguing title, Sally Wins Her Wings by Margaret Irwin Simmons. I do love my books and yes, I do believe I just spoke earlier of putting some of the other books aside, but oh my goodness, there were just boxes full of vintage hardback books and I restrained myself wildly to come home with just four! And though the lovely Bess gave me three fantasically difficult Sudoku books for Christmas which I'm enjoying immensely, I could not pass up the four brand new Dell publications for $.50 each. John said I'd be doing Sudoku for years to come. Perhaps so, but I won't bother with easy or medium puzzles in those Dell books. I'll only work on the Hard and Super Challenger ones.
I also found these pretties:
As always, it's what I didn't get that plagues me now there's no chance I can get at it again. A lovely simple, straightforward table just the right height for a side table for our tall bed that was a mere $35. I had enough money and could have picked it up but I hesitated and decided to wait and then we missed the booth on the way back to the car.
The other item was a tall metal teapot which looked like a coffee pot. It had a lovely style and when you put your hand on the little knob atop, up came the knob with chain attached. Lifting the lid I found the chain attached to a tea ball. It was large enough to make tea for a dozen I think. It was the price put me off that piece, but I likely could have gotten it for less. Every one I approached happily knocked down their marked price. Somehow, I just couldn't see that teapot in my home. After all I don't even drink hot tea! I thought it best to leave it for someone who will USE it and appreciate it.
One of those gorgeous bed trays, the sort with slots either end for newspapers and magazines and a lovely rose patterned paper under the glass. It was far out of my budget though at $250 which is sincerely beyond ridiculous. I am pretty sure that one was marked according to the "I'll never get rid of it, I like it so much' price.
I took Dee's advice and lowered the pictures on the bedroom wall and brought them in closer to one another. I still don't have the frame for the one and I really must write down the measurements so I'll have it with me when I next shop. After I took this photo I lowered the two on the right by another three inches and I think it really looks quite well now. I will not be adding or subtracting from it.
It's warmed so that I removed the white quilt from the bed and we're now using just the teal one which is much lighter and plenty warm enough. I'm not quite finished with that room despite saying I was. I'm now working on the little narrow strip of wall between the window on the left and the wall the head of the bed rests against. I stare at that little blank section of wall when I'm thinking things out and I find pictures on it are very soothing to the mind. I guess no room shall ever be completely finished, sigh. But it's such fun, as long as it's not chaotic, I don't seem to mind really.
I thought I might get a lot more done on Sunday but honestly I was too tired. I pushed hard enough to get a few things done, which included moving pictures and mopping floors and shifting things about and shoving them back again. Truly I did some heavy spring cleaning in the kitchen which wasn't even on my list of things to be done this week. Not too much work. I stopped a few times and texted with Bess and Kate and talked with Amie.
Anne of Green Gables with Megan Fellowes was showing on our local PBS station and I had to watch that. Oh how Anne Shirley can both make me sob and laugh! I thoroughly enjoyed the three one hour segments they showed. A nice day overall, followed up by a sunset that made me want to weep. The peach tree blooming between me and the sunset sky was a perfect hue. The winter was lacking in those sorts of breath taking sunsets we see here now and then, but the sunset Sunday night made up for it. And then they re-ran the final episode of Downton Abby which I watched again and enjoyed most thoroughly and mourned over 'losing' it even if I do have all the DVDs...
I speak often of Granny and only occasionally of Grandmama, but for all that I've some of Grandmama's qualities, I think. I never had the opportunity to get to know her as well I did Granny. No denying the two of them were different one from the other but they had in common having grown up in the depression years and starting out married life in the difficult years that followed that time frame. It was a bond of sorts, that and having their children married to one another and sharing grandchildren.
Grandmama grew strawberries, and it was strawberries this past weekend which triggered the memory of her. I was slicing strawberries for a cobbler and thought of the way the sun smelled on the strawberry vines. For just one moment I was four years old standing with Grandmama near the raised bed that was taller than I, the hot sun beating down upon us, while she gathered strawberries. It's not often my mind will return to a scene and immediately capture the fullness of it all over again. I could even hear Grandmama talking to me. She called me "Terri Ann" something no one in my life ever calls me anymore. It rather startled me for a moment. Later she grew black eyed Susans in the same spot and to this day I do love those flowers as well though they will not grow for me no matter how I try. That and Queen Annes lace eludes my green thumb...but that is another story.
Grandmama enjoyed homemaking and housekeeping. That's one of the things I get from her. She kept her home beautifully and she was always a good steward of her things. Carefully putting away items that weren't needed right away and bringing them out as replacements. Sadly, she went a little too far with the desire to use something right up before using the nicer things. When I packed up her household, I found shirts and towels worn so thin that I could read my own palm lines through the fabric. And tucked in the cedar trunk were brand new towels, never used and never to be used.
She used her freezer more than canning for food storage and was always "putting something up" as she called it. She told me once that she always thought my Grandaddy the best sort of man. "He never comes home without bringing me a little something for the table." Having grown up in a household with a wandering father and a mother who worked in the mill to provide for her always growing family (Grandpa visited just often enough...), Grandmama, as the oldest, was responsible for putting food on the table. I imagine there were days and times foods were scarce. She learned to forage and to gather and to garden and to accept whatever was given with a happy heart and a mind to prevent even the tiniest bit of waste. Food was one thing that never got thrown out in her house. When she served a dish if there was a tablespoon of it leftover, it went onto the table the next meal and the next and the next after that until someone ate it just to keep it from appearing all over again. I can just imagine what a great loving gesture that was on Grandaddy's part to know it was the most reassuring thing he could do for her, to feed her sense of security, to insure she never went hungry.
We didn't spend much time with Grandmama and Grandaddy because my dad's younger brother still lived at home and was an unpredictable and sometimes violent alcoholic. Sad to say, we were allowed to go for long visits only when my uncle was in jail, which was every few years. It was always a pleasant time. Grandmama and Grandaddy didn't have air conditioning but their homes were always lovely and cool at night. Grandmama could 'build' a pallet bed that made you feel you'd slept on a feather mattress all night long it was so soft and thick and lovely. But no, we didn't spend a great deal of time with them nor visit often though they were only about an hour away from us.
My own father was an alcoholic, what some would call a 'functioning' alcoholic. He didn't miss work due to drink nor did he beat his wife and children though the more he drank the more acid his tongue became when he spoke to us. His greatest desire, per his own words, was that we'd be seen but never heard, never force him to hear or think about us. He had no want to know what went on in our lives. He was not affectionate by nature but I don't blame him entirely for that knowing there were other reasons for his being distant.
He drank beer constantly. He started out the day with it, right behind his morning cup of coffee and he went out to his vehicle at lunch and drank one or two and he drank on his way home. At home he often polished off a dozen or two cans of beer, depending whether it was a weekday or the weekend. The aroma of beer was always upon his breath and I recall how embarassed we kids were on the very rare occasions when our parents actually attended some school function or other. Mostly they did not go to such functions, nor did they encourage us to be social in any manner and as we lived out in the country without near neighbors it was a rare day indeed when we had a visitor at the house.
Daddy's alcoholism and the poor state of his and Mama's marriage hung over us constantly, part of the stress and strain of the life that was ours. Two professionals, earning decent money in a big home on five acres with new cars in the yard and always well dressed. The house was nicely furnished, too. But it was all a sham from the inside out. The house often up for sale for back taxes, or unpaid mortgage, the cars uninsured and three months behind on payments, the clothes bought on credit cards that were maxed out, the lies of alcoholism and obsessive shopping and compulsive eating. The surface looked neat and tidy and prosperous but the underbelly was dirty and neglected and jam packed with clutter and disorder. You had only to open any drawer or closet in the house to get an idea of what went on under the surface of things.
And so Granny's was our sanctuary. There was none of the nervous tensions of home, nor even the anxieties we had of the visits at Grandmama and Grandaddy's where we worried lest our Uncle would suddenly appear drunk and abusive. But yes, there were pleasant memories of Grandmama and despite never having an opportunity to really know her, I liked her and I do see where some of her qualities are my own. I see her in my niece as well.
If ever you wonder at some of the dynamics of why my relationship with my family is poor, I was the peacekeeper, the one who tried the very hardest to insure nothing triggered arguments or caused a ruffle...Until the day I suddenly grew brave and announced that Daddy was an alcoholic...It was part of the lie we lived with that Daddy's drinking was okay because 'it's only beer'. Let me assure you all that living a lie is hard enough, but being the one to expose the lie will be both freeing and damning at the same time. Once exposed, a lie can't really be covered up any longer. There is resentment and anger among all the other emotions that must be dealt with. It's opening a Pandora's box of sorts and there is not a lot of pleasantness in it. Admitting it was all a lie and being open about it freed me...but it also destroyed a bond that held us all together and forced us to change and for that my family has continued to resent me.
I went off on Monday to have a day out with Mama. I had to take an allergy tablet before leaving home and it's no wonder at all. As I went up the highway, the view ahead looked dusty, as though a field were being plowed. No. It was pollen pouring off the pine grove at that point in the roadway. My own front porch feels gritty under foot and the cars are yellow as well. Everything is in bloom it seems, at least here in our area and I suppose for the rest of the month this pollen will continue to coat things. I bought a new bottle of allergy tablets while we were out today.. The pecan tree hasn't even begun to bloom yet, nor the persimmons and privet. We've a ways to go in the pollen department I guess.
It was a lovely drive though despite the hazy look of things about us. I found I had to wash off the car windshield twice while we were out so much pollen built up on the windscreen. But it was lovely to see all the wild pear and the lovely peaches and all the trees gaining some color, even occasional glimpses of very new green on a few. I looked in the yard and found the golden iris I pulled up from Grandmama's yard and planted under the sweet gum tree had bloomed. I shall make sure to watch those plants as I'd like to give some to Katie to plant in her yard. If any of the purple iris I salvaged from Granny's yard blooms I'll give her some of those as well. Then she can have flowers from her two great grandmothers. I personally love passalong plants the best, with their history of being shared amongst family or friends.
Katie has been prettying up her yard. She's planted a load of flowers and has texted me to report the daily bloomings. I love that she's so enjoying the gardening part of having her own home. She certainly didn't fall far from the family tree on that score.
Speaking of prettying the yard...John is out mowing now. It's the first mowing of the year and he will mow at least once a week from now until mid October if autumn is timely in coming.
Well dears I think we should pack up this tea party and let me get busy about my home once more. It was a lovely afternoon wasn't it? Hurry back once again!