Coffee Chat: When February Is Here


Hello dears, 

Do come in and join me for a coffee chat.  I've promised myself that I shall do these far more often and spend a wee bit less time on all things frugal and homemaking, because, frankly, I bore me.  And I do not want to bore you, lovely readers.

We'll have coffee in these pretty little cups. Or tea if you like.  Let us have a good bit of chatter. For music today, listen to this...I am a sucker for Andy Williams.  I have been listening to him  (by choice!) since I was in junior high school.

Now of course I shouldn't be myself if I don't mention a thing or two about homemaking.  I've been following FlyLady once more and I will say that it was enlightening to read over her lists of routines and discover all the things I'd missed doing in the past few years of doing much of everything except homemaking.  It's been lovely this past week to work on my master bath and bedroom and to a lesser extent the guest room (oh so much work needed there! And we just shan't mention that guest bath at all...), but to see the rooms I did manage to work on come up looking a bit cleaner and brighter and more spring ready...That was just lovely.   I only wish I'd stuck with it as hard this week, but I've had grandchildren for part of each day since Sunday and will have Millie later today as well.  I do try to accomplish something while she's about but she's 4...and I know from Caleb that you might accomplish one or two things that are short and sweet tasks but you're going to miss the bulk of things because four-year-old children want your attention NOW.

 I began at one point to think, just think, last week of doing a proper spring cleaning and I just barely contained myself.  I know better than to jump hip-deep into deep cleaning.  It wears me out, takes far too much energy, and never leaves room in the day for the other necessities I need to be sure and attend to as well.  But I was so tempted.  So tempted!

However, I felt that what I did get done was a great start, and next month, when I am again in this zone area, I will touch on the things I didn't get to.  And that's the way it ought to be.  It's not meant to be a big Spring cleaning.  I love that the Flylady's emails often contain the reminder: "You are NOT behind."  I am not behind.  I'm getting started and I'm not behind.  The lists are meant to break it all up and save some energy and time by doing it in increments.  

But I will share that since I started last week I have ditched the emails.  There were only one or two that pertained to each day and all the rest, ALL of the rest were sales pitches for cleaning tools.  Back 20-ish years ago when I joined Fly Lady there were as many emails, but not one of them was a sales pitch.  They were all reminders to do what you were meant to be doing.  

Now Tammy shared last week that the app is a whole different kettle of fish and I might try those.  I do find that if someone is gently nagging me to do a task I generally will get it done.

I decided that what I really was experiencing, was a need to Spring clean but Spring Fever.  Why am I feeling Spring fever?  Because the trees are starting to put on first bloom in the River Swamp.  Now and then we'll suddenly come across a field of beautiful green field of winter rye.  After miles and miles of greys and browns to have that sudden pop of green is enough to elicit, as it did from Mama the other day, a gasp and an "Oh goodness!  Doesn't that look pretty?"

It's a month when Daffodils (or Daffafolls as Caleb told Katie they were called) dance in the breezes on the side of the roads and in yards where no one remembers planting them.  And Scotch Broom blossoms out and looks wildly sunny in a haphazard sort of way.   It's a month when, much as it's appreciated to have a sweater, one longs for those rare afternoons that allow you to slip off the sweater and appreciate the sun and warmth on your arms until a sudden cool breeze reminds you that it isn't spring at all.   But it all sort of makes you want to hurry this end of winter along.  

But I won't.  No, I won't.  I want things to progress in their natural order. Seasons, life lessons, decision-making times...To proceed in their natural flow and order seems the best.  I am not impatient any longer to get to that place ahead when I'm clearly not done with this place here just yet.  

It's taken me the longest while to reach this point.  I am tired of trying to push through and force things.  It's never netted me a single thing beyond being frustrated and irritated that things were out of my control.  And aren't they all, anyway?  Out of my control, I mean...Who am I to think I have charge over anything, beyond the bank balance and what's for dinner?  And sometimes, I don't even have control over those.

I turned on the computer today and suddenly everything is different.  Updates, it said.  I don't mind so much.  For the most part, as long as I'm allowed, I'll continue to use the same programs I've always used and the same features that I'm comfortable using.  But there's now a new app editing my posts, checking my spelling, suggesting punctuation, etc.  That's not a bad thing.  But this program is underlining things in red.  It makes me feel like I am a student all over again.  It reminds me of the red pencils the teachers used to underscore issues and corrections they knew I needed to make.  

I had Millie for a time Monday morning, just for a couple of hours while Sam went to an appointment.  When Sam returned, he and Millie jumped on my freshly made bed and Sam talked and talked.  I don't mind.  What amused me was my own reaction to having them on that freshly made bed.  Just moments before he came in, Millie had peeked at me around the door while I was making the bed and I thought immediately of Granny.

Never did she make the bed with me in the house that I didn't immediately beg to get up in bed with her and the old church hymnal and the two of us have a sing-along, even well into my teens.  I was musing over those old hymns we sang, and how I'd sung those same songs to Amie, Sam, and Katie when they were infants. 

So there was that glimpse back into the past and when Millie and Sam came and got on my newly made bed and Sam talked while Millie played about, it felt like I'd sort of grasped something of the past freshly, in a way that was unexpected but just as sweet.

Later I went off to my chiropractor appointment and while I was waiting for the Doctor to call me back, a song came on the radio that sent me hurtling again into the past, some 33 years to be exact.  I was pregnant with Katie, sick as a dog with a kidney infection, bronchitis, sinus infection, and flu.  I was barely conscious for nearly two weeks and did nothing but lie in bed and sleep and sleep.  Bless Amie, who was just 12 at the time.  She'd come in from school, heat up soup, and spoonfeed it to me and then I'd drift off again.

When I was awake and fairly conscious, I would play the same song over and over again.  I'd rewind the cassette tape and play the song on repeat.  It was Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" which suited my life on more levels than I want to own at this time.  When I heard it today, I was suddenly in that strange region of semi-consciousness and complete weakness I was experiencing at that time.  But it was the utter contrast between the past and the present that struck me.  

John and I have been together now for  32 years.  Only once in those years have I experienced such a state of complete and utter surrender to illness, but I have never again felt such a lack of caring whether or not I lived or died as I did during that brief season.  It was worse than depression.  During my depression, I at least debated between living and dying, but during that illness thirty-two years ago, I didn't have enough energy to care either way.  I was truly in a state of limbo that I'd never experienced before. 

And for the record, once I was well, I don't think I've ever played that particular song again.  I simply don't want to be in that particular place of utter lack of caring either mentally or emotionally.

And again, while at the chiropractor's as I was checking out the date of my appointment was given and I stood in complete confusion thinking I had an appointment or something on that date, but then I realized it was the date of my first marriage.  In all of these years between that first marriage and now, I've never really considered that date as my wedding day ever again, but today, I suddenly was that young girl standing in the living room of my home with a man by my side that I knew with every fiber of my being was going to be a mistake in my life and yet I stubbornly refused to step back and say, "No", though my dad had just moments before walking me into the next room said to me, "Terri...You don't have to do this.  You can stay here and I'll send them all away and no one will say a word."   

Gracious that speech from Daddy alone was remarkable...It was the wrath of Mama I feared more than the mistake I was making or any shame that might result for me.  In my utter youth alone, I was stupidly courageous, sure I could handle whatever was to come.  And yet, there I was, afraid of my mother's tongue more than I feared what unknown lay ahead.  I suppose in that instance, it was truly the devil I did know that frightened me the most.

And then again, the contrast in this life and marriage and the past was stark and startling. 

That evening, John and I went out on the back porch together.  I had gotten some burgers from the freezer to thaw and suggested we cook them on the gas grill (that is one thing we have learned to do quite nicely and are enjoying).  I was talking to him about the things that had occurred all through the day and then I said to him, "You know, I used to be very disappointed in my life.  Not with this marriage or you, nor with our children.  But just my life in general. I was unhappy with what I'd made of it and with what I'd acquired along the way and unhappy with who I was, but that's no longer true.  I'm comfortable with life and with myself."  

It's not that life is perfect.  It's not.  We still have heartaches and upsets and feel the lack of financial benefits at times.  But I'm comfortable with this stage of life.  The pressure to be more, do more, that I placed upon myself because I saw others achieving much more, is off me.  I am not comparing myself to anyone any longer.  At this point, at least for this season, I am content, truly content to just live my life as it is.  That is probably the nicest gift I've received over the past few months.

I didn't tell you but my granddaughter left the abusive relationship.  She had her third child and then packed up her life and moved.  She's starting over again and it must be terribly difficult with children as small as hers.  I pray that if she finds a new partner she will be cautious of getting involved with someone abusive.  I'd appreciate your prayers for her.  

And Katie and Sam are facing life changes of differing sorts.  Stress comes from good things and as well hard ones.  

In our home, we continue to talk about changing the house.  Right now, John is focused on lighting nearly as hard as I've focused on just good old-fashioned cleaning.  So far, we've chosen fixtures for the bathroom and one for over the kitchen sink.  We are going to replace the fluorescent fixture on the ceiling apparently.  I want to add a sconce to the wall that is shared with the dining room because it is a dark spot.  I find myself avoiding that whole section of workspace because I can't see well enough to do anything much.  John plans to also replace the light in the hallway and the guest bathroom as well.  He wants me to replace lamps and lampshades in the house.  I've already received my pair for the bedroom but told him I need only a shade for one of the lamps in the living and to paint it a fresh color.  The lamps are good and sentiment won out after I reminded him that the lamp in question was the first item we ever purchased together.

We went last Saturday to look at lighting and I made a snap decision on fixtures for our bathroom.  I opened the trunk of the car to show them to Katie on Sunday and my reaction was of such disappointment that I felt the need to confess to John how very disappointed I was.  I have had the most indecent longing for crystals and sparkly lights and these were so builder-grade that I groaned looking at them.

I confessed this longing for chandeliers and crystals and sparkles to John who immediately began looking at them.  In the end, we agreed that what we both liked was too far from out of our budget.  Oddly the few things that I liked that were in my budget were tiny. They don't look little in the pictures but reading the measurements, I find they are 4 inches by 4 inches.  What?!

 After looking last night for an hour, I found something for the bathroom that I think will do but must take measurements before we even think of ordering.  The space for both lights is pretty limited and I do not want to deal with returns.  Or make any more mistakes.  We've made far too many of those this month and when I say 'we' most of the mistakes were 'me' though one was just a big cluster of mistakes that had nothing to do with me or anyone else.  It was just a mess from start to finish.  But yes, the others were mostly my mistakes.  And I am not keen to make anymore.  I've had a long run of making mistakes now for the past three months.  Enough I say.  Let's slow down and take our time because nine out of ten mistakes are due to my being in a rush, and not stopping to check the facts and figures and destinations.  

John is also interested in upgrading the railings for the front steps which I will be glad to see.  The children are all prone to swing on the current makeshift railing we have and that makes us nervous.  The stairs are sort of steep and we definitely want something to hold on to when we're going up and down those steps.  What we have there was truly meant to be temporary and here we are five years later...The back steps are beginning to give way after the weather beating on them for years now.  I think those went in 12 years ago.  The little railing there on that side is also a bit wonky these days.  John hopes to get those steps replaced with concrete and have a new railing made.  

We also have some corner pieces that need to be replaced indoors.  Over the years they've continually been chipped, gouged, and broken.  We keep nailing and gluing them back together but after 28 years, we know it's time to just replace them.

And of course, I am looking for paint for the kitchen.  I thought I had it all narrowed down to a lovely green called Quietude.  Doesn't the name alone just sound lovely.  I ordered a Samplize (a sticky backed 15 in x 8 in sample sheet that is like a large paint chip).  In sunlight it was lovely.  On cloudy days, which we had plenty of this month, I loathed the color.  I have again narrowed it down to a color I like, but I'm now cautious.  I will order a Samplize patch to see how I like that one as well before I go and purchase paint.  It's a lot cheaper to spend $15 (that's shipping as well as the cost of the sample) than to spend $120 and hate the color. 

The greatest trouble I've run into is that the color I want apparently only exists inside my own brain.  I know exactly what I want.  A greenish-blue color with an undertone of gray.  I don't know that I've ever seen this color in real life.  It might exist only in my mind. Right now I have six paint chips hung on the wall.  I think I want the one called Waterscape I?  I'm linking it below in my  Amazon Associate link.

Quick to make decisions and slow to make them, lol.  

I need to stop now.  Millie is coming again this afternoon while Samuel goes to a job interview.  He doesn't know if he wants this job or not.  He is truly torn about it and I have nothing to offer him except that if he doesn't like it, he knows he can always find something else.  He's not under any pressure at the moment to get a job but in six months he'll need to look in earnest.  In six months, his mindset will be slightly different than the one he's in at present but I know that he can't see that at this point in time.  

Anyway, I need to end.  I've so enjoyed our chat!  Talk to you later.

Amazon Associate Affiliate link:  If you go through my link to place an order at Amazon, I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases.  Thank you!


Rhonda said...

Nina ordered all the light fixtures and faucets for their new home from Amazon and she’s very happy with them.

Our oldest has lost his very good job. His wife works and he’s catching up with their farm chores but he’s not liking the hiring on process. But he’s going to have to get more serious and he and family spend money like crazy.
I feel for Sam, he’s certainly got a lot to deal with.

Anne said...

I love making improvements on my home, small or large. This month we are having it painted. This will be a very big step but I'm looking forward to it. And then there is lots of gardening in the spring, although my tiny yard is pretty full, still there are a few favorites that I must plant from seed each year. Gotta have my summer zinnias and sunflowers every year. I'll squeeze them in somewhere.

Karla said...

Oh thanks for the chat, Terri. A lovely needed break on a Wednesday morning. I had a similar song event happen the other day and, like you said, it hurtled me back 32 years (we got married in 1992). I was driving and had my apple music playing through my car speakers but it wasnt' working right so the system just chose a random song and it just happened to be the song our mothers and grandmothers walked into at our wedding way back when. I hadn't listened to that song in over 10 years but there it was. And it was a bittersweet reminder that he's still "the one" no matter what struggles we go through.

One of the things I've loved most about my 50s is just what you and John described - just being fine with where I am - not feeling the need to be unhappy or full of angst with my life - just accepting and doing the best I can and that being enough. What freedom it is.

terricheney said...

Rhonda, I think I blanked at Lowe's and forgot that there are thousands of affordable options I can find online. I slipped back into that old mindset of that being the only store and I had to settle for the options available. Not true! I've found some lights on Amazon that I really like a lot but do need to measure our space to be sure they will work.

Sam got turned down for one job without any sort of interview process at all. He went to this interview today and was shocked at the salary offered and the fact that there are NO medical benefits. I don't think he'll take it in the end. He's not applied to many places because, with his severance package, he was able to pay off debts and has enough to live off of until later in the year. He's being cautious with spending. And yes he is dealing with a lot. Not to mention depression and grief which is natural given his circumstances.

Karla, I am fairly new to feeling this way. We'll see if it's lasting, lol.

Mable said...

Please fix the hand railing to the entrance you use when carrying in groceries and such. We had a wonky one and one day I was climbing down them and it collapsed. I fell over the side and broke a bone in my spine that took two months to heal; the first month was agonizing pain whenever I moved. My poor husband had to help me in and out of bed, with me yelping and crying the whole time (for the first two weeks, until it started to mend...) We just kept meaning to do it and never did. The week after I fell, my husband put in a new railing that is so anchored and strong that you could land a helicopter on it.

Tammy said...

I wish Sam well in his job search. My Nick started a new job almost a year ago. The application and interview process was lots different than what I knew, most of it online, and his interviews were via Zoom. He didn't physically see the place until his first day at work.

My nephew came a couple of weekends ago and installed a new light over the breakfast bar. The fixture came from Wayfair, and I got it on clearance, so it was a very affordable project, even with making him take payment for his work. My sister got some very nice fixtures last summer from Wayfair as well. That might be an option to look there if you have trouble finding something that works for you. I am so glad you spoke up about not liking the lights you had picked from Lowes. You deserve to have something you like!

terricheney said...

Mable that handrail is only just a bit loose, and I mean a very little bit. That's one reason why we want to go ahead and get it fixed as soon as we can get the contractor out to get it done.

Tammy, Katie's job search this past summer has made me more cautious than Sam about his job hunt. The interview he went to the other day pays low wages and has no health insurance. It would be ideal where location and hours are concerned. I suspect there will be many more job interviews before he finds one that is a good fit for his new life.