Photo Friday: Holiday Decorating

I have been in my current home nine years now and still don’t have a set Christmas decorating plan down. Maybe I am destined to change things up every year. Overall I am pretty happy with the way things turned out this year. Except for the dining room light. I have already decided to go look at the clearance stuff after Christmas and see if I get any ideas. Here are a few of my new favorite spots this year.

I almost left these garlands in the garage because I didn’t like them on the upstairs railing last year. But I hauled them in “just in case”. Turns out I love them on the picture frames!
My Agatha Christies all gussied up for Christmas.
I had no idea what to do with this garland (and couldn’t even remember where I had it last year) until I thought to put it above the stairwell. And I like it.
My village scene keeps growing and now has been divvied up into three different locations. These are the hodge-podge pieces and work nicely in this narrow (height wise) space.
The nativity portion in now on the bookcase in the upstairs hallway. (Nice and peaceful there for the Holy Family)
And finally our Lego village in the dining room. We added the gingerbread house at the far end this year and I wish I could live there!

One last photo. I found this sweater in the grocery store of all places!

I couldn’t pass this up, it is too perfect to wear to “The Nutcracker” ballet later this month!

Here’s to a wonderful holiday season!

Modern Love

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?”

I have been watching and enjoying the Amazon Prime series called “Modern Love” though I am a bit disappointed that some of it is fictionalized. I feel bad for the people whose stories were changed. I always wonder what exact part of their story wasn’t good enough or interesting enough or didn’t translate to thirty minutes of television.

I suppose I am living my own version of “Modern Love”. I may have mentioned a time or two how much I dislike where I am living. Have you ever wondered why I don’t move? Well, let me tell you…

The father (K) of my son (E) and I are married and we live in the same house, but we are not a couple anymore. We function as a family but we have separate bedrooms and do not do any couple activities. If not for our son there is no doubt we would have divorced long ago. But I want to do what is in my son’s best interest and I won’t lie, it is really hard to know what that is.

I feel like I should write a little bit of background but I don’t want to turn this into a rant about all the things wrong with K. First, K is not abusive or an alcoholic or hiding a gambling problem. He has a good job. He doesn’t like drama, to the extent that he acts like nothing is ever wrong. He simply ignores anything he doesn’t want to deal with. Nothing is his fault or his responsibility. He has never apologized for anything in the 14 years I have known him.

On the parenting side he has two grown children he hasn’t seen in more than ten years. One avoids him and the other is an alcoholic with mental health issues that he avoids. He also has three grandchildren he has never met. (Neither of his kids have ever married.) Enough said.

And yet I still feel like my son deserves to have both his parents in his life full time. In theory we could do that several different ways but I think this is the best situation, at least for now. (I won’t go into specifics but lets just say K is a very lazy, or maybe indifferent is more accurate, parent and I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving E with him for more than a day or two.) I know the situation isn’t ideal and worry about the messages E is getting about marriage. But we don’t fight and seldom even argue. At worst sometimes days go by without much interaction between us.

So yes, I worry all the time that I am making the right decision. If we split up would there be a big custody battle? Maybe. Maybe not, as my husband avoids confrontation at all costs. Arizona is big on paternal rights though and would I be able to take E out of state? How would my son feel if his father couldn’t be bothered to fight for him? It is a lose-lose situation for sure.

So I have decided the best option is for me to come out the loser, at least until E graduates from high school. We have had a few conversations about our somewhat unconventional family situation and as E gets older we will talk more. I don’t want him thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like and while I wish I could be living a good example for him that just can’t happen right now.

I love my son more than anything and at the end of the day his father being around on a full-time basis seems to be the most important thing. So that is what I am going with. Modern Love.

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?” *

This is the thought I live with.

* I heard this line on the Australian television show “Heart Guy” and thought, yup, this is what I keep thinking.

October

I realized with a start that I haven’t written a post in awhile. I have been too busy living my life! Does this mean my blogging days are done? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to find my blog changing again.

No flash fiction because Carrot Ranch is running contests this month. I have entered two of them so far and they don’t want us to publish our entries until late November after the winners are announced. My goal is to finish in the top ten so I can get a critique from Charli who will be practicing on the top ten for her writing class.

This month I have made it a goal to clean or de-clutter one area in my home six days a week. I am picking areas that don’t get cleaned on a regular basis so I am doing odd drawers and nooks and crannies. I have done both refrigerators and I have to say every time I look in the kitchen fridge now I feel nothing but joy. I can’t believe how many expired and almost empty condiments I had!

I am also practicing some self-care and doing a 21 day on-line retreat called “Magical Mindfulness” created by Jools Sinclair. There have been some interesting bits and I am curating a few practices that will hopefully turn long term.

Finally there was the big autumn camping trip. I did a photo Friday of it but sadly it wasn’t that great of a trip because I was sick. 😞 I had been looking forward to this trip for months and the weather was beautiful but all I wanted to do was nap! I had been sick for two weeks and thought for sure I was going to get better.

After we got back I went to the doctor and found out that I have a virus, most likely two different one’s back-to-back considering how long I have been sick. For seven days I have to eat a bland, light diet to give my gut a chance to heal and drink emergence-C everyday to help the virus go on it’s way. Hopefully all will be well by Halloween.

Time for some cleaning…or maybe a nap 🙂 .

Creating Autumn

It’s finally, officially, autumn. My season. Ahhh. In September I typically feel a sense of relief of having survived another desert summer. But let me start this by saying we are still having days in the high 90’s here. So I am not sure I can say with certainty that I have survived it yet!

I changed up the kitchen sink window this year, bought new “curtains” (two napkins and towel), used a different garland and added a little bird. Makes me very happy.

I am doing my best to be excited about creating my own version of fall. I hung nine, yes nine, leaf garlands around the house. It looked like autumn outside (even if it was 92° during the day) as beautiful blue-gray clouds built to the south and moved north to the mountains. We had a marvelous storm while I decided where to put a few strings of orange lights. Thunder, heavy rain, wind and small hail. A dark and stormy afternoon, perfect for autumn decorating!

I have switched over to my “autumn” wardrobe: summer weight but in fall colors. As I write I am wearing oatmeal colored linen capris with a heather pine green (or is it forest green?) 3/4 sleeve shirt. I wear lots of orange and burgundy and browns. I bought two new “Life is Good” t-shirts with autumn themes. They are both short sleeve and oddly, dark blue. I also bought two long-sleeve shirts (one beige and one purple), of which I wore the beige “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice) to the movies on Friday. (I figured correctly it would be cold enough inside the mall for long sleeves.)

Something else I have been doing is searching for books set in autumn. I found this website and requested a few books from the library. Mentally I will be amidst colorful leaves, brisk breezes and sweaters.

On the eating front we are not ready for soups, stews and chili but I am making pumpkin-cheesecake muffins for bowling tomorrow. And we are starting to eat more pork and turkey (cutlets and tenderloins, not roasting whole turkeys, that would be crazy in this heat!) and the first batch of homemade applesauce from the freezer. I have found adding a few dried cranberries to salad, granola, a baked yam or pretty much anything “autumns it up”. 🙂

We have our trip to the corn maze/pumpkin patch and more apple picking scheduled. My son has the last Monday in September off from school so my husband took it off from work too. We like to go when it is less crowded and in the past we have found weekends in October to be rather nuts.

We also have our camping trip planned for mid-October, I can’t wait. We will definitely be taking chili and soup on the trip. Even if the days are warm the nights should still be cool up at 7000′.

I am still walking on the treadmill most days (like right now while I type) but more often I watch Youtube videos of autumn walks. I turn my high velocity fan on creating an autumnal breeze and keep myself cool at the same time.

I have been enjoying making this banner for fall:

Sorry it didn’t photograph so great.

And taking my list from this post and making it into a pretty bucket list:

One last project. I decided to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library Pen Pal Painting Exchange. I love it because really no talent is required 🙂 . Here is my 4 x 4 painting:

I wish now I had only done one leaf outline. Live and learn.

So there you have it, how to create autumn in the desert 101. I think I’ll go have some cranberry juice in my new mug.

HAPPY FALL Y’ALL!

May Madness: Minimalism

Recently I did some deep cleaning around the house. You know, actually taking all the books off the shelves and getting all the dust, cleaning the carpets, purging and rearranging just a little in my office.

I have read a lot of articles and books about minimalism, I have Kon-Mari’d some and there are aspects of minimalism that I like. I believe every object should have a home to reside in when not in use. I put things away when I am done with them. I try to get rid of things I don’t love or find to be useful. But I do like having stuff. I have no interest in owning only x number of clothes or getting rid of certain books because I have already read them. I still love them and want to keep them.

My shelves and closets are full but organized. Not crammed with clutter. (Okay maybe a little clutter but I am making an effort.)

In the midst of this bout of cleaning I have realized I wish spouse and small child were minimalists though. To put it bluntly they are both slobs. If they see a flat surface they think it should be filled with stuff. They are both allergic to throwing things away.

I try and compromise. I leave their own rooms alone and in the shared spaces I try to be fair and open minded. There are a few spots where I have allowed stuff to pile up. (Mostly because I have been too busy battling my hormones to engage in another battle.) But here I am trying to clean. I have discovered I don’t mind dusting and doing the floors, the actual cleaning part. But I feel ill used looking at the piles of stuff on the desks. I am tempted to simply throw it all in a garbage bag and be done with it.

Am I the only one like this? What do tidy people do when forced to co-exist with untidy people? Do they spend all their time cleaning? The thing is, while I like a clean house I don’t actually like to clean all that much. It is enough work to put my own stuff away. And don’t tell me to ignore their stuff. Not possible, though I wish it was.

Til tomorrow…

The Good, the Bad and the Not Too Ugly

The Good

I decided my son really needed to start helping more around the house. We have tried out different chores, all met with complaining and avoidance. Because I am struggling to get through the evenings these days I decided he needed to do the dinner dishes. Period. No arguing allowed. And guess what? He actually likes doing the dinner dishes! And he does a really good job. Go figure.

The Bad

Because the moving gracefully into menopause thing isn’t happening I have decided I want to try hormone replacement. Since before Christmas it has been very hard to get a lot done. Even things I want to do I find it hard to find the energy and interest for. I went and saw my primary doctor but she wants me to see a GYN and I couldn’t get an appointment until the first week of March. I tell myself it’s just four weeks, but it sort of feels like forever.

Before

The Not Too Ugly

My wonderful dog Sherlock is 14 1/2 years old and pretty spry and rather deaf. I decided last year that spending all those hours at the groomer’s was getting to be a bit much for him. So I tried a mobile pet groomer and it seemed to go okay. But when she came back before Christmas he wouldn’t go with her. He actually growled at her, something I have never seen him do before. So he didn’t get bathed or clipped.

And now it is February and he is crazy stinky and shaggy. It didn’t help that he fell in the pool two weeks ago.

I am pretty sure the problem is with that one groomer and I thought about trying a different mobile groomer but felt uneasy. So I decided to try and do the job myself. Now we have given him numerous baths but I had never clipped him myself. So I did what every person does who wants to learn something these days: I watched a few YouTube videos.

And then I took him to Dirty Dawgz, a great self-service dog washing place. The owner was crazy helpful. She helped me figure out what blade to use, made sure I knew how to do it and when she wasn’t busy came over and helped me do the more difficult areas.

My dog behaved wonderfully but it was still a very long process. After two hours we both had had enough. I forgot to do his tail and he wouldn’t let me do his feet but he is a lot less furry and he can see again. (I am going to try and trim him up a bit more with scissors this weekend).

I would totally do this again but I would take my spouse next time. It was too hard trying to keep Sherlock standing with one hand under his belly and only having one hand to do the clipping. And hopefully he would be less furry next time, he has a very thick coat that took multiple passes with the clippers. Because he has to be completely dry to clip I would also think about bathing him one day and clipping him the next. It took forever to dry him because of all that thick fur and I had to get him dry all the way through.

Both Sherlock and I are pretty happy, he was all frisky when I brought him home, obviously happy to be able to see again. (Though he completely crashed out the next day!) And I was thrilled that I wanted to pet and cuddle him again. That was some good bonding time with the grooming too, lots of chatting and nose kisses.

After

So there you have it, the good, the bad and the cutie pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is what I am thankful for this week:

  • Cleaning the house as a family Sunday afternoon.

  • A big ol’ turkey.

  • My simple outdoor decorations for this holiday.

IMG_8319

  • Cooler weather (especially for Thursday, roasting a turkey in 85° weather is not fun).

  • My son and I doing food prep together Wednesday. 

  • Watching the Macy’s parade in my Thanksgiving jammies. (I really don’t know why everybody doesn’t have a pair of Thanksgiving pj’s!) 

  • Looking forward to so many things this weekend: a hike, a bowling turkey shoot, the last U of A football game and visiting an arts and crafts festival.

IMG_8320

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

 

Photo Friday: How Many….

…leaf garlands does it take to make a house look autumnal in the desert southwest?

Let’s start with the kitchen, one above each window and two under the cabinets.

Two in the family room.

IMG_8114One in the dining room.

IMG_8125One at the top of my bedroom closet.

IMG_8119And two in the upstairs hallway overlooking the living/dining room.

And one in front of my south facing office window that would be really hard to take a picture of.  That makes a grand total of eleven.  So the answer is it takes eleven leaf garlands to bring autumn to the southwest.

 

Keep Your Focus!

 

Photo Friday

This week’s theme is Around the Yard:

IMG_8063Yes, that is 104° F at 4:30p in the afternoon (the clock is off, the hour hand is stuck).

IMG_8065Spiderweb.  It seems our spiders are getting ready for Halloween a tad early as the yard is festooned. This is one on my lemon tree.

IMG_8068Can you see all the oranges?  Of course not, they are still green.

IMG_8070Five lemons in one shot, not bad.

IMG_8064And one from the pool.  This is the 5th mouse we’ve pulled out this month.  Seems we have the world’s largest mouse trap, ew.

Keep Your Focus!