Posts Tagged ‘home’

I live in an apartment community. They call it a community, but we do not know our neighbors. I take responsibility for not introducing myself beyond saying hello in the parking lot. I am not a party giver, but if I were I would plan a block party.

The squirrels own this community. They hang out at the dumpsters. They are champion dumpster divers. Last fall a partially eaten apple dropped  nearly on my head as I walked underneath a tree, followed by the skritching of squirrels high-tailing it away from me.  A gang of rowdy teenage squirrels playing pranks on their neighbors — they need jobs.

I’ve been tempted to try dumpster diving myself. Actually, one day I did help a neighbor carry home a table we found in a dumpster. It’s shameful, even obscene, the things and the sheer quantity of stuff we throw away in our country. We keep buying more and throwing away more. I want to rescue some of that stuff and not support the engine that says increasing consumption is necessary for economic health.

The contents of dumpsters are a resource, or could be. Some people use this resource all the time. My friend, Luke, is an experienced diver. If he were here, I might ask him to teach me.

In a true community, resources would be shared instead of thrown away.

Relationships are the most fundamental resources. How can we share ourselves and treat relationships as valuable instead of disposable? Even in an apartment complex where at least part of the residents, maybe a majority, are transient? When the lease is up, they move. I probably will too.

The rising cost of housing militates against a stable community.

We have to work even harder to create and grow one.



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I need another bookcase.

Here are two, full.


Yes, they are in front of the fireplace. I never use the fireplace and consider it a waste of valuable space in this 699 sq. ft. apartment, so at least this way I regain a smidge of floor space in the living room.

I can hear some of you now, thinking, “If she would get rid of some of those books, she’d regain even more room.” Believe me, I got rid of lots of books as I downsized to move here. Maybe someday more can go, but not now. They are my friends. And actually I keep finding new friends. A hopeless case, I guess.

Back to bookshelves. These are not the only ones I have. But they’re all full.

The one tucked under the tiny bar in the kitchen holds cookbooks as well as glass jars with dry staples and some vintage mixing bowls.

The bedroom has three, one on each side of the bed plus another that is actually two old wooden crates, stacked. They hold kids’ books that belonged to all three of my children, my collection of French books, Bibles, my high school and college yearbooks, and other miscellaneous books.

The hallway — yes, the hallway — has one that holds books related to my  job and various work-related 3-ring binders, collateral, and office supplies. That way they’re all within easy reach of the table in the tiny dining area that serves as my home office, sewing room, and yes, dining space. Some day I can clean out the job-related stuff and gain back at least one shelf for books.

You will notice that I do not group my books by color. I tried that once. It lasted about two weeks. I couldn’t find anything. My books are not decorative accessories. I know them by name. I’ve read most of them and sometimes refer back to them. The rest are in the to-read queue. My friends belong near others with something in common: topic or genre or author.

Now if you look back up at that photo, you will also notice that besides the color thing, these are not staged-for-publication bookshelves. I didn’t pretty it up for you one bit. Because this is not a decorating blog. It’s a life process blog.

And my life is not primped and polished.

It’s still a rough draft.

And right there, I think I mixed my metaphors. But for now I’m okay with that. It’s my life that’s real.



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Potato salad for breakfast? Why not? We order eggs and hash browns all the time when we eat out.

I made potato salad last night, and it was my supper, along with a bowl of blueberries, au naturel. A good portion of both, lest you think I’m wasting away here.

Actually, I’m not eating potato salad again for breakfast, but I thought about it before I remembered the leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator that need to get used up. So I made some pumpkin oatmeal various-flours bread, which is in the oven as I write. I can anticipate the potato salad for lunch.

In a pinch, in a hurry, I might buy potato salad from the supermarket deli. But I don’t like it as well. It’s usually too goopy for my taste, more like mayonnaise with some lumps of things in it.

I make potato salad like my grandma and mom made potato salad. No written recipe, which bothered me as a newlywed but doesn’t any more. Eventually you get it.potatoes eggs

Here’s what went into yesterday’s batch:

4 good-sized potatoes that I had found in the produce clearance bin at the supermarket about a week ago. Peeled, chopped into the size pieces I wanted for the salad, boiled in water until tender. More than once I’ve cooked the potatoes too long and they’ve more or less disintegrated when I stirred together the salad. No worries. At a pot luck one time someone asked me for my recipe because they liked that I used “mashed” potatoes. It’s called not setting a timer. Oh, and don’t forget to salt them. I often forget. You can salt  afterward, but it’s a bit less even than salting the potatoes in the water.

4 eggs. These were farmers market eggs, laid by happy hens that get to toddle around a pasture instead of stay squeezed into a cage or pen. The cost of the eggs probably ate up the savings on the potatoes, but well-treated hens matter to me, and the eggs taste better and are better for you, I believe. My grandmother had chickens, and I grew up with farm eggs.

Some sweet onion, chopped up.


Some sweet pickle relish, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup, with juice. Grandma would have chopped up sweet pickles she had put up herself from cucumbers she grew in her garden. In my gardening days I would have done the same, but now I just try to find sweet relish that is not made with high fructose corn syrup.

Enough mayonnaise to moisten it all, but not so much that it drowns it. I use olive oil mayo these days.

A healthy squirt of mustard. Yellow, brown, whatever you have. This time I had brown.

Stir this all together in a big bowl. Add more mayo if it’s too dry. Taste it. Add more mustard or salt if you think it needs it. Or more pickle relish juice. It’s your salad.

I like real food. No purist, but I try to eat as close to real food as I can, given the rest of my lifestyle. I like my potato salad. It’s one of those common sense things that got passed down to me, just hanging out with women whom I loved who knew how to do stuff.

I think Mom and Grandma would be okay with eating potato salad for breakfast, too.




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Never one to jump right on a book trend, I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

I have not yet taken each item I own in my hand and asked myself whether it sparks joy for me. I may or may not do that, but I did take a bag of clothes out to the car today to drop off at a donation bin next time I go that way.

A couple of observations.

One, Kondo is a tad bit obsessed. Has been since she was a wee child, apparently.

Two, her obsession indicates her super power, to quote a life coach I know. She is gifted at not only tidying but its sister, organization, and at seeing that our relationship to our stuff indicates the orderliness or lack thereof of our psyches. I totally respect her for finding a way to turn loose her super power to help others, to spark joy in herself, and to make what I assume is a rather decent living.

Three, her personification of belongings and dwellings at first struck me as over the top. But then something about it started to feel right, as an expression of gratitude and respect.Maybe the child in me relates, the same child who felt that if I didn’t play with one toy for awhile, it would feel left out, like I loved the others better.

So I’m asking: Where does my apartment want my sewing supplies and fabric to be stored? Big mystery right now.

And I’m also asking: What are my super powers? How can I turn them loose for good in my life and in this world? Can I trust them to take care of me?

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The subject for this post came to me at about 3:30 a.m., and I’m going with it. I don’t know if it’s just about habit, or if there’s more there. But here goes.

When I get up in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, by instinct I reach left first for the toilet paper probably 6 times out of 10. That’s where it was in the house where I lived for the 11 years before moving here. In this bathroom, it’s on the right.

My kitchen wastebasket is under the sink. This is where it should be. It’s where it was in the house I grew up in and in some other houses I’ve had. In others, it’s been in the pantry, beside the cabinets,  or underneath a kitchen island. But wherever, at least once a week I’ve reflexively opened the door under the sink before realizing, oh yeah, it’s not there.

My parents had a starburst clock on the living room wall for many years while I was growing up. And still — still — occasionally I look on my living room wall when I want to know what time it is. Never mind that I haven’t had a wall clock in my house for years, probably decades.

This is the sentence that came to me at 3:30 this morning: Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me.

I have lived in lots of places. Let’s see —

  1. The house I grew up in. Lived there for 19 years. The clock on the wall. The white house with trees in frontwastebasket under the sink. Good, solid life. That place is truly in my core.
  2. The tiny house we lived in briefly right after we got married. Today it would be considered part of the tiny house movement.
  3. The 12×50 mobile home my dad helped us get. Bigger than the tiny house. Smaller than the apartment where I live now, a fact that gives me perspective.
  4. My parents’ retirement home in Florida. Temporary until we could buy our own.
  5. The house we bought in Florida.
  6. My mother’s home. Also my childhood home. Dad had died and we lived with her for 9 months, again till we could buy our own home, having moved back from Florida.
  7. The house we bought there.
  8. The first parsonage. My husband was the associate pastor at that church.
  9. The second parsonage. My husband was the only pastor at that church.
  10. The third parsonage. My husband was the senior pastor at that church.
  11. The home of a friend’s parents. Things had gone sour at the church and the congregation voted to ask my husband to leave.We did, with nowhere to go and no income. This place was shelter and storage space as we tried to heal and figure out next moves.
  12. The first house in Colorado. We bought it without seeing it, after friends on site checked it out and arranged for a volunteer crew to remodel it. It was traumatic for multiple reasons.
  13. The second house in Colorado, which we rented when we lost that first house.
  14. The third house in Colorado, which we started out renting and eventually bought. Lived there for 13 years.
  15. The house in Indiana. Lived there for 11 years. It’s the one my husband died in.
  16. This apartment, where I still reach for the toilet paper where it was in the last house. And where the trash again fits under the kitchen sink.

This litany of homes brings back all kinds of memories and emotions. But it’s what happened, and I do not think where I live now will be my last home, so the list will continue to grow.

It’s true. Every place I’ve lived has left its mark on me. It’s not the place, ultimately, but what happened there. The seasons of my  life, some quite short, in which I was changed in some way. I grew. Joy and sorrow mixed. Sometimes joy won, sometimes sorrow won.

My children lived in 13 of these homes, too. They also bear marks from those places and the life we shared, for good or ill.

I don’t want any of us to live in those places any more. I want us to move forward. But sometimes sorting through the past is necessary to move on, to heal. Just like you sort through things before a move. Some things you can leave behind. Some things you decide are either meaningful and beneficial, can be repurposed or rearranged to make them useful, or are just plain beautiful. So you take those things with you as you move . . . onward.

Let’s do that.

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Onward, but still. . .

Onward, but still . . .

I wish I still had the 1950ish-vintage stove that came with the house we bought in 1976 and we left behind in 1979. You know the kind, four burners and a sunken soup pot, an oven on one side and a drawer for pots and pans on the other, the whole thing looking distinctly automotive, rounded edges and all. Practicality says I have no place for it, but still.

I wish I could go back to Crescent View Cottages on Siesta Key.  Little duplexes each with a little front porch where we hung our beach towels, on a crushed-shell drive that deadended on the beach. They aren’t even there any more.

I wish I still had the yellow ceramic lamp we got with S&H green stamps in 1971. Tall and just short of gaudy, with gold braid around the top and bottom of the white drum shade.

I wish I had the aquamarine ring my parents gave me in high school, that I lost a couple of years later. Careless youth.

I wish my kitchen had the old built-in cabinet that was part of the kitchen where I grew up. Floor to ceiling on the wall next to the kitchen table, painted white. Plates, glassware, serving dishes, and vitamins in the top part, canned goods in the bottom part, with a middle shelf where paper clutter landed.

Good stories are always told in sensory specifics. These are details of memory, parts of my story. Every day has been, is, and always will be filled with details. How many slip by unnoticed? How many of them will I long for later? How close to true are the details of my life? Does memory change them?

Good stories need great characters, too.

I had two tough grandmothers. They withstood a lot. I miss them.

I miss talking easily and often with my brothers.

I miss sharing life with my children.

How many people whom I know today know me, a multi-layered me, a 3-dimensioal me?

Missing won’t bring anything back. What colors my life today? Who do I treasure today? Will I pay attention, or will I let the days slip by?

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My house feels like a weight around my ankles that I don’t want any more. If I had thought I’d live here as a single woman, I would not have picked this house. Come to think of it, I didn’t pick it anyway. Art did. I never saw it, other than a few photos, before we agreed to buy it. It met both my criteria, that it be big enough that if our children came to visit they could stay with us and that the neighborhood be walkable.

Then Art died, in this house, in the living room. After one failed attempt to sell it, I’ve stayed on, made it more my home than ever, and found I like living alone. Yet the yard work and home maintenance are stressing me out, and so is the length of the mortgage. Freedom from these would feel so good.

I went to visit a friend recently who lives in an apartment downtown above a restaurant. Not sure if it would be called a loft or not, but I could like living in a space like that. The building is probably 100 years old. It has windows that are almost floor to ceiling, wide worn wood plank floors, ceilings a good 12-ft. high, and lots of open space.

Maybe a place like that will be available for me. Maybe it won’t. But in the next few days I’ll decide whether or not to list my house for sale again. I probably will.  Maybe it will sell, maybe it won’t.  If the time is right, God will open the way and this house will be a good fit for someone else.

My family doesn’t come to visit very often, but I still want an extra room for when they do, because they are always welcome. I still want a walkable neighborhood — in fact, if there are actual shops and parks to walk to, instead of the boring figure eight in this little subdivision where I live now, I’ll be more likely to walk. It will feel good to choose a place all by myself and arrange and decorate it to suit just myself. I’ve never done that before. It’s about time.


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