Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's the little things...

We moved into our brand new home over 14 years ago. K was 3 and she picked the bedroom with 2 windows - I think she envisioned watching for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive for visits. The next biggest bedroom became the office with the computer desk, etc. It had the biggest closet which was great for our extra storage. Since we naturally had the master bedroom, that left the "fourth" bedroom as a nursery for D. We moved in just five days before D was born which meant a scramble to get moved in and ready for our new arrival. We discovered the door to the fourth bedroom didn't work. You could pull it closed but it wouldn't latch, which meant it wouldn't lock either. Since we were rushing to get the nursery set up, a non-latching door was not a concern. A baby doesn't need to have a tightly-closed door anyway. And as she got older, the fact that it wouldn't lock would be a bonus, she couldn't lock herself in or lock us out (we'd later find this was a very good thing with this strong-willed child).

A few years later we moved the office to the first floor dining room space, freeing up the bedroom with the big closet. K decided she wanted a change and a bigger closet that would hold all her clothes and toys so she switched rooms. D was ready for a big-girl bed so we moved her to the room with 2 windows, leaving the fourth bedroom free. What to do with it? I had an art table tucked away in the basement and a sewing machine that I'd have to haul out to the kitchen table when I wanted to be creative. So we decided the fourth bedroom would become mine - my sewing room, craft room, art studio - my office. It worked out great. The door didn't latch, but no big deal. There was no reason to lock it or keep anyone out. The only time it was a problem was at Christmas when I'd want to wrap presents in there and I'd worry that the girls would walk in and see their gifts. I would just threaten them that they were not to come in under any circumstances until I told them I was done.

So here we are 14 years later. The non-latching door is just one of the quirks of our house that we've grown to live with. The fourth bedroom is still my office. We've put a single bed in there - it can be used by a houseguest now, as long as we warn them that the door doesn't latch. Or I can (and do) sleep in there when snoring (his and mine) interferes with sleep (his and mine). The only problem is our dog. He likes to push the door open during the day when we're not home. He goes in, jumps up on the bed and digs around, tearing the blankets and sheets off the bed so that it has to be remade each day. I started barricading the bed with the ironing board (see? there is a use for that thing!) when we left each morning. It was a pain in the butt - one extra thing I had to do in the morning rush, sometimes I'd forget to put it in place, or sometimes I'd do it and he'd still find ways around it. More often than not I'd be making the bed when we got home.

Yesterday, my wonderful husband got out his screwdriver, hammer, chisel, powerdrill, toothpicks, woodglue and extra long screws and he re-set the strikeplate 1/2". I think it took him all of about half an hour. At long last, the saga of the non-latching door has come to an end.

It's amazing how something so small and seemingly simple can make such a difference. As I pull the door shut and hear it latch, I can't help but smile.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As you sow, so shall you reap

Summer is ending and that means it's the end of my garden for the year. It is giving me cause to reflect on why I go to the trouble in this day and age, when I could easily drive to the store to get what I need.

I think gardening is something I inherited. My grandparents were farmers. When they moved from the farm into town, essentially their entire backyard was devoted to growing food. I fondly remember helping Grandma pick green beans then sit on the back porch, colander in her lap, and snap them with her to prepare them for dinner. Or being with Grandpa in the middle of the blackberry patch on a hot summer day (I swear most of the berries made it to the kitchen for the pie).

My favorite though was when we'd go visit and I'd get up really early before the rest of my family and head down to the kitchen. Grandma would already be up fixing breakfast and we'd go out and pick strawberries fresh with morning dew.

My Dad, following their example, has always had a garden. He has about 1/3 of his yard as vegetable gardens. He spends hours cultivating the soil and picking his "crops." I grew up helping dig and plant, weed and harvest. Whenever I'm there I always ask to see his garden. He takes great pride in the fruits of his labor and always sends me home with tomatoes. There's nothing like the beefsteak tomatoes he grows.

When we moved into this house I knew I wanted to have a garden and grow some vegetables. My husband built a raised bed with a trellis area for plants with climbing vines.

Each year I make my selections of what to plant. Some years are more plentiful than others (the year of the cherry tomatoes) and some choices don't work out (watermelons have been a big failure). It is such a pleasure to walk out back and pick a zucchini for dinner, grab a couple tomatoes to add to a salad, or harvest cucumbers to make a great cucumber pasta salad. My girls would help me when they were younger. This year the only help I got was in selecting what to plant (what they wanted to eat). I very well might be the end of our family vegetable gardening. But I hope that maybe one day when they have their own plot of land they'll get the urge to get dirt under their nails and continue the heritage.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's On My List

Each day I try to cross at least one thing off of my to-do list. But I don't use an actual to-do list. I don't like to have a list with messy lines crossing things out. I'd have to re-do my list each time or it would bug me (yeah, I'm just a little OCD).

Here is my system - it works for me. I write an individual post-it note for each pending task. Sometimes it is a single word on a small note, other times I use a bigger one and add any extra reminders. Then I place the notes flat on my desk, within reach and directly in my line of sight. Every morning I take stock of what needs done, sometimes placing them in a different order as to deadlines or what I feel like doing that day. If I get sidetracked after a meeting or after lunch or I just need a break and want to work on something else, it's easy to get back on task. If I'm not due in the next morning, like over the weekend or for a vacation day, I put all my posties in a binder so none will get lost while I'm out and I can re-organize my priorities when I return. And when I finish something, I get a little satisfaction from pulling up the sticky note, crumpling it and tossing it in the trashcan.

Click here for some cool ideas for things you can do with post-it notes, they don't have to simply be utilitarian.

How do you manage your to-do list?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Scrambled, Please!

I did something this weekend that I haven't done in a couple years - golfed, and something I've never done before - played in a scramble.

I wasn't too worried about how I'd play after taking over a year off because, 1. I've never had LPGA aspirations, and 2. it was a scramble. Golf is fun for me because I can be outside, get some exercise, and the event was with lots of my friends. And it was a charity event to benefit children with challenges. What could be better?

The weather was good (thought it was a tad hot) but I am a fair weather golfer, I hate playing in bad weather. I remember playing some Spring rounds that were cold, blustery and rainy - never again. If I'm going to spend the day out on the course, I'm not going to waste it on a crappy day. I want to be out in the sunshine enjoying nature and all the flora and fauna around me, not trying to contend with wearing extra, bulky layers of clothes, dealing with club covers and umbrellas on rainy, windy days.

Speaking of the sights around us, despite the firecrackers being set off by a couple of groups of rowdy hockey players golfing in the event also, there was lots to see. There was a groundhog off to side of the 10th fairway (which sparked the question of whether it was the same as a woodchuck and/or is it the same as a whistlepig? Yes, we did try to whistle at it.), mulberries (we decided not to experiment to see if they are edible), spotted some fish in the streams and ponds (not saying my ball went in the water, mind you), a horse ran to the fence and whinnied at us when we were on the 16th green, and we had an impromptu lesson on what poison ivy looks like (there was lots of it, hopefully my cartmate avoided it successfully! No comment on why we were traipsing around in the woods.).

Back to the actual golf - I had fun. We used some of my drives and approach shots and I hit a couple good putts for us to make par or bogey. I hit some bad shots, and some really bad chips (the short game is the first to go, right?). But I'm ready to hit the links again, especially if it's a scramble.

The big bonus of the day is the time I spent with my friends. It wasn't about the golf, we didn't care if we won. (Ok, I admit we were trying to have the lowest score for the chicks' teams and we came in 2nd. Maybe next year!) But it was really about the time we spent together and the memories we made. There are pictures of our day but I don't think we took any pics of us actually hitting any shots. Our photos included taking turns swinging from a Tarzan vine (maybe that's why my arms are so sore?) and other candid moments from our fun outing.

Anyone want to make a tee time?

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Went to the Library

When I was a little girl, I remember going to the library with my mom. She'd take my sisters and me and we'd browse in the picture books and make our selections. My favorites were about Edith and Mr. Bear, or anything by Dr. Seuss. As I got a little older, I'd check out the Ed Emberley drawing books or some of the Little House on the Prairie titles of course, or even the Guinness Book of World Records. I'd pick out a stack in about 10 minutes and sit down to peruse my finds while Mom and my two sisters made their choices. After we checked our books out, I remember racing to the little foyer with the drinking fountain. That fountain had the coldest best-tasting water ever. With Mom looking on, us three girls would jostle each other trying to get the first drink, and then the last drink heading out the door. Then riding home in the car while Mom drove, we'd inevitably get car-sick from reading our books, too excited to wait the short drive home.

As a teen, I volunteered during the summers helping with their reading club. Little did I know that it would lead to my first job. Or that I would continue working at various branches of the library for the next 20 years. Never would I have guessed that I would meet the love of my life working together at the library.

I went to our local library tonight. It only took about 5 minutes to gather a stack of books that looked promising. After sitting down to read the dust jackets, not all of them made the cut, but I was happy with my selections. Some from favorite authors, a couple new authors to try. As I made my way out through the lobby, I spotted the drinking fountain...and I kept walking, right past it out the door. I knew there was no way it could ever taste as cold and sweet as the one in my memories.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feeling Out of Sorts

I have been a little out of it the past couple days.

Sunday night I went to bed a little later than usual. I had just drifted off to sleep when suddenly I sensed someone run into the room and stand next to me beside the bed. I opened my eyes and saw a figure standing there looking at me - I started screaming. AH! AHH! AHHHH! My third scream woke me up - yes, I woke myself up, screaming.

I sat there, instantly wide awake, shaking in fear. My eyes wide open, unblinking, as I searched the darkness for the person I saw a moment ago. It took me half an hour before I finally got up the nerve to move to reach over and turn on the light on the nightstand.

I ventured downstairs where my husband was watching tv and winding down for the night. I crawled into his lap and burst into tears, from the fright and relief. I was surprised he hadn't heard my yells. My wonderful husband checked throughout the entire house to reassure me that there wasn't a prowler hiding somewhere. Neither of us really slept the rest of the night, keeping our senses alert.

I know it was all just a dream, but it was so, so real. I don't dream very often, and never anything like this. I don't think I talk in my sleep and as far as I know, this is the first time I've screamed in my sleep. It was truly horrifying.

When I got home after work yesterday, the girls were still at school at their activities. For the first time ever, I was nervous being alone in our house. I kept the dog close by. I haven't been watching scary movies, reading horror novels, or eating spicy foods before bed. I don't know what caused me to dream this, and frankly I was more than a little afraid to go to sleep last night for fear it would happen again. I try not to think about it, but it keeps coming into my head.

I'm not sure if I believe in premonitions, or ghosts, or visitations. But the urgency of the figure running to me and how real they seemed standing next to me, definitely makes me wonder what the message is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Do I Love Thee?

It's that time of year - Valentine's Day is approaching. We are starting to see the ads for flowers, chocolates, jewelry and restaurants. Sappy commercials to tug at your heartstrings, or sexy commercials to tug at something else. ;)

Those with significant others use it as an occasion to show each other how much they mean to each other. As for those who are single, it only serves to drive home the fact that they are indeed single.

I am happily married (20 years this coming summer) and we don't celebrate Valentine's Day, never have - by my own choice. Flowers just die, spend the money on something more lasting. Candy is dandy, but I don't need the extra calories. The restaurants will be crowded, we can go out another day. Jewelry is always nice of course, but will be overpriced for the holiday - save that for another day (or a 20th anniversary, hint hint!). (My practical side even comes through in romance!)

Why do I need a date on the calendar to remind me to show my husband I love him? I tell him everyday. Everything I do shows him how much I love him.

And in exchange? He does the same for me. No grand gestures or extravagant gifts - it's all the little things he does. Even paying the bills or picking up the girls shows his love for me.

As for "grand gestures," just last week I came home from work to find that he made spaghetti with his homemade sauce and garlic bread, the table was set and he did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen afterward. No occasion or special date on the calendar - just because. Completely took me by surprise. I know he loves me. We celebrate our Valentine's Day every day.