I’m No Quitter

I’ll just start typing and maybe something of interest will appear. (Cross your fingers and maybe say a prayer.) A lot has happened since my last post LAST YEAR. Ridiculous, I know. I’m a crappy scribbler, and an even crappier shutterbug. But at least I’m also a really crappy quitter, which means I might disappear for a while, but I’ll always come back.

So to catch up whomever might be reading this:
We celebrated our first Christmas as empty nesters, which wasn’t all that bad since the Married Ones came over to spend Christmas Day afternoon with us. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember what we did New Year’s Eve; I turned 56 in January (which might explain the iffy memory issues); and we celebrated our 28th anniversary in February. I attended a wonderful women’s retreat through our church the last weekend that same month, and as I think back on it and what a delight it was, it’s so weird to realize that two weeks later everything would change drastically around the entire world for everyone.

I vaguely remember hearing about some flu in China, and a few days later the news started using the word “epidemic,” but we didn’t have anything to worry about, and suddenly it was a PANDEMIC and it was HERE. Even then, it was on the west coast and it seemed very far away. My guy (a teacher for the correctional system) was off for spring break the second week in March and we spent most of it working on our house. He went back to work for two days, and then the state decided to send everyone home because the PANDEMIC wasn’t just on the West Coast. It was on the East Coast, and it was in New Orleans, and Dallas, and Houston, and everywhere and anywhere you might even THINK about being…but one thing that wasn’t here, there, or anywhere was toilet paper…and hand soap…and sanitizer…and Lysol wipes. It seemed like we went to sleep one night and the next morning the world had lost its collective mind.

It’s kind of strange because in the early days of the PANDEMIC, I watched ALL THE THINGS. If President Trump, Vice President Pence, and/or the coronavirus task force were speaking, I was listening. And listened to all the other things on the radio. And all the other things on Facebook. And all the OTHER THINGS being said around town…until we were told not to go to town, unless absolutely necessary. So I stayed home. Except to pick up groceries curbside. And that was weird, because where I used to order groceries and schedule a pickup the next day…now pickup slots were a week out. So my usual habit of deciding what to have very shortly before actually having it…well, that was shot to hell in a hand basket. And then restaurants started offering curbside because they were trying to stay ALIVE in an economy that was slowly, slowly, slowly dying. Ordering food online or by phone was the equivalent of hooking the local diner up to a ventilator, the owners praying to survive long enough to make a come back when their patients could be unplugged from this very strange way of doing business. We indulged in curbside restaurant fare more than we probably should have, but HEY! We were doing our part to help keep the independent businesses alive and kicking—even if the social distancing required to get our order made it feel like our dinners were drop kicked from their doorways to the trunk of our car. Our daughter and son-in-law came over for family dinner once a week—I lasted all of 20 minutes without hugging her and then said, “Screw it.”

This went on for a week…two weeks…a month? Maybe six weeks? I forget. It all became such a blur and more often than not, I wasn’t even sure what day of the week it was. I did manage to brush my teeth every day. Dental hygiene is important, you know. And then the powers that be…the president, Congress, the governors, the scientists…someone decided it was kind of safe to move about the cabin. So we began venturing from our homes very cautiously. I remember the night my husband and I decided to actually go to a restaurant for dinner and we were confused by the concept of walking through the door, sitting at a table and waiting for someone to bring us our meals. It was such a treat.

But numbers started going up and BAM! YOU MUST WEAR A MASK. YOU MUST STAY SIX FEET APART. And every time we turned around, someone official was saying something completely contradictory to whatever they’d said the day before or contradictory to their political opponent…we began to think maybe they were just being contradictory for the sake of being contradictory—because good news is no news—and bad news keeps the cameras rolling.

And then we were made to feel uncaring because we questioned and suspected that maybe some of what was being said was more for the sake of ratings than because it was true. Because of all the numbers of people testing positive and being counted as sick, we were almost five months into this thing before I actually KNEW someone who came down with COVID-19. My 46 year old sister, who works as a labor and delivery nurse in Corpus Christi, started feeling really bad the last weekend in July. Some sadist named Grunhilda shoved a long Q-tip up her nose, touching the back of her brain and announced “You’re positive.” She went home to the RV fifth wheel she lives in with her boyfriend and said, “I’m sorry.”

Strangely enough, the world’s most dangerous virus made her feel like crap for five days and then she woke up on day six and felt great. Almost two months later, she still feels fine, and her boyfriend? He never got it, even though they were both confined to that small RV for the entirety of her quarantine.

Having said this, I don’t doubt for a minute that there are people who get very, very sick from this wretched thing, and there are people who die from this wretched thing. That is a tragedy that can’t be measured. But I keep wondering about the quality of the life we’re living and if maybe the “cure” is worse than the disease. What if by staying away from each other, we are possibly living longer because we’re avoiding each other…but WE’RE AVOIDING EACH OTHER, and what kind of living is that? We’re a social people, who need interaction, who need conversation, who need HUGS.

I keep thinking that if all this is only to delay the inevitable, then dammit, what the hell are we doing wasting this, our last? I remember a country song from years ago, sung by Tim McGraw, about a man who got some very bad news from his doctor and then made some changes in his life:

He said
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

There’s got to be some kind of compromise—a way to protect ourselves and others.

I just don’t know what it is.

Swing: Vintage Book Review

I was super thrilled to read the following excellent review of Swing, which was written by my friend, Lindsey Backen. To learn more about Lindsey, her books, and her passion for story crafting, visit her here. Might I mention she has a new book coming out soon?

Source: Swing: Vintage Book Review

A Little Sneak Peek

Our wedding photographer is still working on Jami and Dustin’s wedding photos, but she shared a little “sneak peek” with us via Facebook. (When I get the USB with all the files, I’ll share some better quality images – FB does a little compression thing that reduces quality on downloads. I couldn’t wait to share these, though.)

This one of my guy with our girl gets me in all the feels. There are no other people on this planet I love more than these two. He is the light of my life, and she is the sparkle.

And I guess I’ll admit that this new guy that joined the family last Sunday has a pretty special place in my heart, too. Even though he’s a bear at 6′ 5″, I’ll call him the “twinkle” that goes with my “sparkle.” Our family isn’t huge, but it’s a mighty fine blessing, and I’m so very grateful.

Photo credit: Starling Hope Photography

The Mister and Missus

We made it! This past Sunday, the Engaged Girl tied the knot with the Tall One, and they became the Married Ones. I’m still in a bit of a daze—the five and one half months leading up to the Big Event just about did me in. Honestly, I’m just tired and a little emotionally drained. Overall, there were few hitches and everyone said it was a lovely wedding and reception. As soon as the photographers finish editing the photos, I’ll share some here.

Probably the biggest hiccup happened the Wednesday before the ceremony. The Tall One went to pick up his suit from DXL in Webster, Texas only to learn the pants were nine inches too short. We still haven’t figured out why someone would order pants that short for a man who stands 6′ 5″ in his socks. They promised to have the problem corrected by Friday. When he went back to pick them up Friday evening, they were still 3 1/2 inches too short.

Maybe they knew the flooding was coming later in the week?

I thought I was going to have a coronary when I learned they offered to sew some extra fabric around the bottom to make them longer. Um…I don’t think so.

Eventually they discovered his pants had been sent to Seguin, Texas, about three hours from us. They said the store opened at 10:00 am on Saturday and closed at noon, but the manager would be willing to wait until 1:00 pm if we wanted to drive to Seguin to pick them up. Can you believe that???

Fortunately, the Tall One had invested in a beautiful Ralph Lauren suit back in April, but he had not yet had the pants hemmed. OM (Jami’s “Other Mom”) is a brilliant seamstress, so she was able to hem the pants for him the night before the wedding on Sunday.

All’s well that ends well — presenting the Married Ones — the Doddroes!

It’s a shame DXL isn’t a little more cognizant of the power of a happy customer. If they’d come through for us, we would have been happy to recommend them to everyone we know. They did not come through for us, and thus far I’ve posted three one star reviews (Google, Yelp, and YP) along with a photo documenting the kind of service they provide. We are still waiting for them to offer some sort of compensation for our inconvenience. But we’re not holding our breath.

Well, that didn’t last long…

The Engaged Girl is getting married on September 15, and I’ll be standing in front of a photography class again on September 24. How did this happen, you might ask?

My friend who took the class when I “retired” last fall had a health scare with breast cancer this summer. Fortunately, treatment is going well and it looks like she is going to triumph in her battle with the Big C. As is often the case with people who go head to head with life threatening illnesses, she has reevaluated her priorities and decided that there are some things she wants to do now, rather than later. She and her husband have a big camper they took on a road trip to the Northwest over a year ago, and it sounds like they want to put some more miles on that baby. A LOT MORE MILES. I say “GO FOR IT!”

When she mentioned she would not be teaching this fall, I found myself offering to come back if she didn’t have anyone else lined up. I honestly don’t know where that came from, except I kind of miss it. I know I said a lot of stuff in a previous post about “passing the torch,” and it being time to move on. I guess a woman always reserves the right to change her mind. Ha!

The class will be starting nine days after my husband and I become “empty nesters,” so it might be a grand opportunity to refocus on some past loves. Watching photography tutorials to refresh my knowledge and find new ways to explain concepts will help lessen the silence in our home during the day while my husband is at work, and getting back out there to capture more photos should help add steps to my FitBit. And I’ll get to meet some more lovely people—which is always a delight.

The Shutterbug is back!

Choosing a Positive Perspective

It’s 10:27 pm and I’m choosing to write a quick post before taking care of business. It’s no secret that I have time management issues and am somewhat of a procrastinator. Oh, let’s call a spade a spade and correct that:

I am a procrastinator.

There. That’s much more honest. Ha!

A while ago I was internally bemoaning that there’s so much yet to do with the Engaged Girl’s wedding and my business has suddenly gotten very busy. Clients are wanting quotes on custom window treatments. I need to find shoes for the wedding. I need to trim and frame the table numbers for the reception. I still have to design, print, and assemble wedding program fans (because an outdoor wedding in Texas in September could go either way when it comes to (a) what we hope for—that first tiny breath of a cool front, or (b) August, The Sequel.)

The positive perspective on this is thank goodness, there are clients wanting window treatments! And thank goodness, my dress for the wedding is long, so a simple pair of flats (either navy or nude) will do fine. And thank goodness, the fans will not be that hard to put together while we watch a movie (Father of the Bride, anyone?) and will serve double-duty in an adorable way.

So here’s to looking at all life throws our way from a positive perspective!

So This Happened

It’s crazy busy (what’s new?) with work and the Engaged Girl getting married. I can’t call her the College Girl anymore, because this happened:

It’s really strange, because it doesn’t seem that long ago I was calling her the Teen Girl. Regardless, she’ll always be Our Girl, even though she’s DD’s Girl. He’s such a nice guy, we don’t mind sharing.

When one project ends, another begins…

So I’ve been meaning to post about the wrap up of our home renovation, but I wanted to wait until I got things put back in place to take some pictures. Well, I haven’t gotten things put back in place yet. Some of it, but not all of it. I still have a few cabinet doors to finish painting before I unpack the last few boxes. And I need to get my sister to help me fix the chandelier that I broke…

It will get done, and all will be well.

In the meantime, I have very exciting news! Our daughter, Jami, is getting married!

We are so excited for her and her young man. Jami and DD have known each other almost four years, and they’ve been dating almost three. He proposed on March 21, and they will be getting married in September.

I couldn’t ask for a nicer man for a son-in-law. He is a hard worker, kind and generous, and he loves our girl. Most importantly, he knows and loves Jesus.

So we’ve hit the ground running planning a wedding that is less than six months away! A venue has been secured and we hope to meet with a caterer that comes highly recommended sometime next week. The first few days were a bit stressful, but after talking with our potential caterer, we are feeling a lot more at peace with everything. Thank goodness!

I have to admit, I was a bit sad last night when I realized that this past Christmas was our last Christmas with our girl at home. I guess there’s no way to know when anything is the “last” of anything until after it’s already come and gone. We just have to focus on the happy firsts in our future. From what I can tell so far, there will be a lot of them and that makes everything all right.

DD and Jami

Little by Little

Work continued today. Jami and I ran some errands, and the crew was probably grateful that for once I wasn’t walking outside every thirty minutes or so to stare at the work being done. It didn’t stop me from taking a few more photos to share on the old blog.

This is what started the whole ball rolling – a soft spot in our kitchen floor (tile has been removed) – we were worried that our subfloors were rotten.
After our crew removed some of the old flooring, it was determined that the damage was actually minor, and probably the result of someone spilling a glass of water at some point in history and it seeped under the vinyl tile.
There are a few of these spots, though, so the plan (part of which has been executed) is to remove the plywood subfloor, leave the shiplap (or whatever that stuff up there ^^^ is called), lay hardiboard over that with a vapor barrier, and then install our new flooring.
While some of the guys were working outside on Monday, other guys were inside marking the studs behind this wretched accoustical ceiling tile. Chalk lines were popped in preparation for our new ceiling.
These are 3 1/2″ wide tongue in groove planks that will be installed on our ceiling. After an understated “crown” molding is installed around the perimeter, we are going to paint it Ultra Pure White (Behr).
The pups are a little confused by all the chaos. We’re having to keep them in the back of the house during the day and when they are set free after the crew goes home at 5:30, they are so excited!
Jane chases Kona around the empty living room!
They run a few laps around the room in the evenings after running a few around the backyard. Poor pups.
Jane honestly has had a hard time with the upheaval. She doesn’t like storms and always leans against us when the weather’s bad. The last few days the weather has been fine, but she will come and lean against my leg while I am working at my desk. She wants to know when life will return to normal. Me, too, Jane! (But won’t it be nice???)
In the living room looking toward the dining area. I am trying to imagine after the ceiling and floors have been finished, the walls have been painted and we put everything back in place. It’s almost more than I can imagine.
Standing in the dining area, looking back toward the living room. Someday those three windows (and the two in the photo above) will have plantation shutters on them.

I have to go into Houston for just a bit this morning. Whenever I have to leave the house, it’s so hard because I can’t watch the progress. Coming home is a bit of a kick, though, because there is definitely progress being made! More photos either later tonight or tomorrow!

Sally Needs a New Dress

We bought our little home almost nineteen years ago, from the widow of the man who built it in two stages. The first – a two bedroom, one bath house with a small living room and eat-in kitchen was built in 1950. The second, done in the mid 60s’, made the living room into a third bedroom and bath, the kitchen into a little sitting room and added on a new living room, dining area and kitchen. The little 900 square foot house increased to almost 1,700 square feet.

We have been dreaming of this day forEVER. We paid our last mortgage payment in October, enjoyed not having a mortgage for a couple of months, and then took out a small home equity loan to get Sally a new dress. Her crumbling blue siding was well past its prime, and she also needs some subfloor repair and new flooring. While we’re at it, we’re going to put up a beadboard ceiling!

I am really looking forward to the finished project in two or three weeks (hopefully sooner). In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the progress, beginning with the brick repair we had done:

Sad little house — we originally planned to have the brick stained to match the trim color we planned, but after they pressure washed it, we reconsidered. I’m glad I was there to see how good it looked before they stained it!
It’s looking so much better.
He is sealing the brick so it holds its color better over time.
New Hardiplank over foam insulation. This side of the house gets COLD in the winter, so we are hoping this will help.
This used to be the front of the house before the original owner turned it sideways and added on. That little window over the a/c compressor is a bathroom now, but it was the front door!
I noticed this out the brand new backdoor a few days ago. Beautiful.
Repairing rotten wood and putting in new porch posts.
They used to be skinny posts – we really like the simple way our builder dressed them up for us.
Of course, there’s always a surprise. The flat roof over the garage had a hidden leak. This has been repaired and Monday we are having a new roof put on the garage.
New backdoor and painting coming along!
First coats of paint are almost done. I am so happy with how everything is looking. Look at our red door!!!

This is all for now. I’ll be taking more photos and sharing them as the work progresses. Right now I need to go take a chandelier apart…