Monday, October 16, 2017

New floors, walls painted in my Happy Room

Here is the new flooring in tones of grey with some tan. It was put in Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. This is the biggest home improvement project I did this year and the first without my husband.
Here are photos of the one wall my older son painted yellow for me on Saturday, and here are the new birds curtains. The other 3 walls he also freshly painted white, not a harsh white, more subtle. The yellow caused me to name this My Happy Room. I used Valspar "Summer Blonde" from Ace for the yellow paint.

Above is the sealant  which is white, plus the moisture barrier on top of the old floor and a bit of the new floating floor being added. Below is a large area of the sealant covering the old floor, as it dries it goes from grey to white.

Below is the old discolored floor, which looked gorgeous 30 years ago when we had our house addition built.

I am very happy with the change and hope this new floor lasts for a long time, decades in fact. I bought new curtains for this area, for 2 patio sliding glass doors and one long window, and my older son is painting the walls "slipper satin" in two rooms, with one wall in each room "summer blonde", which is a pale cheerful yellow for my "happy room."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Foxtails are dangerous to dogs as Bounce will affirm

These foxtail plants look harmless but beware; they can injure dogs. My dog Bounce sniffed one on the sidewalk while on a walk with me last week and he sneezed right away. He intermittently sneezed and shook his head for a couple days and finally had surgery to remove it on Oct. 4. The veterinarian explained that foxtails have tiny barbs so can not be easily removed and they keep going further in. Of course the surgery required anesthesia so she cleaned his teeth too, while he was "out". When I picked up Bounce at 5:30 that afternoon she showed me the foxtail she removed from his nasal passages.
He is all peppy and well today, hurray. That was 800 dollars well spent for my dear little Bounce.
A friend left a comment here telling me that her dog had a foxtail in its ear, and another that one entered through the skin on her dog's chest and it entered a lung! Surgery was successful in both those cases and for Bounce. As the saying goes about these benign looking seed heads, "for want of a nail the horse was lost", tiny problems can become huge!
On Oct. 3 I got a phone call that my step mother (age 84) had died, and I cried a lot. Oct. 4, 5, and 6 men were arriving at my house to put in new floors in 3 rooms. I couldn't cope so my older son stepped in and called the vet, and took off work Thursday morning to take Bounce in for surgery, which enabled me to go to Griefshare, where I cried a LOT and ladies gave me lots of support, kleenex and a hug or two. Meanwhile the new floors were installed.
So that is my week last week.
On the up side, the weather is lovely, my favorite temperature of mid seventies, and the new floors look very handsome indeed. And I have to say, Bounce is very Bouncy.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cheering Meself Up

Yes, me, myself and I, otherwise known as "meself" can use some lighthearted moments. As I take slow steps in my widowhood journey, one treat I enjoy is to read upbeat memoirs. Celebrity memoirs can be fun diversions. I just ordered Betty White's book and it hasn't arrived yet, but I am guessing it will be a fun book to read.

I did buy and read Carol Burnett's book.
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett
I laughed out loud at quite a few things she shared. Some favorites: the two times she did her Tarzan yell at full volume (once to stop a mugging and once in a store to prove who she was so she could make a purchase). Burnett shares stories about spending time as a friend of Cary Grant and how she embarrassed herself when they met. She was also overwhelmed when she met Jimmy Stewart on the set where he was filming the FBI Story, and she promptly stepped off the set into a bucket of whitewash. She walked away with the bucket stuck on her foot, and refused to look back. They later became friends too. Each chapter is short so you can read it in a few minutes, but if you are like me, you will read just one more and one more, etc. A little bit of genuine heart break is included, but most of the book is fun fun funny. Of course, humor is a very individual matter, so I can't tell what might appeal to you, LOL. 
I am reading Rue McClanahan's memoir and it is upbeat as she often laughs at herself and her choices, especially regarding men. Typically when a man in her life asked her to marry him, even when alarm bells were going off, she said yes. All the while trying and failing to say "let me think about it." Rue enjoys sex and writes about it here. This book will go nicely with Betty White's memoir, since all 4 Golden Girls became close while working together for many seasons. Rue never gave up her acting, even when living on a teeny income as a single mom and I cheered for her when the Golden Girls rescued her pocket book :)

Any tips on other upbeat memoirs?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunflowers in September

Sunflowers in September are bold sentinels of the last of the summer days.
My neighbor plants these sunny plants every year.
I like the cheerful new school sign next to the sunflowers.
Does the above photo show the sense of wind moving them? It was tricky to take these photos as the sunflowers were moving this way and that. They were being whipped around by the breeze from the ocean and yet standing firm, just like we sometimes need to do in life's storms.
"The heart which has truly loved never forgets,
     But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets,
     The same look which she turned as he rose."    Thomas Moore

Friday, September 1, 2017

Earl Grey Tea, Favorite Tea Cup and Fun Tea Quotes

This tea cup, a gift from a friend, is lovely inside and out.
This is the same tea cup, plus my current favorite tea, Double Bergamot Earl Grey. I like Earl Grey and sought out the double bergamot, the flavoring made from a special type of orange. Most Citrus bergamia is grown in the province of Reggio in southern Italy, and also in Cote d'Ivoire for the essential oil. Earl Grey tea was first advertised in London in the 1880s, and first appeared in England in the 1820s.
Here are some quotes about tea.
"What would the world do without tea? - how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea." Sydney Smith
 "Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?" Rupert Brooke
And one I like that is quite famous or infamous " Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I would poison your tea!" "And if you were my wife I would drink it!" Winston Churchill
Tea, an important beverage!
And yes, I like coffee too, which I grind fresh from coffee beans.
Do you have a favorite tea or tea cup?
I am praying for safety for all the people in the Houston area where the flooding is, and for the homes and the animals, and for recovery. Think cooling prayers for much of California as a few days of high heat has reached even me on the coast and inland and to the south is terribly hot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Yellow tree has bouquets for flowers

My neighbor has two of these fantastic trees, one about 15 feet tall and you can tell they like it because there is a younger one about 10 feet tall, which I imagine they planted a few years later. I remembered to bring my camera with me on a walk so I can share with you. I wonder what kind of tree this is; the leaves look rather like feathery ferns. A friend on Facebook answered this question for me, it is a yellow flowered jacaranda.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bits and Bobs: Lipstick, Dog and Widow

Sometimes I have no unified blog post theme so here are three bits and bobs for a post.

These Chihuahua floor mats for my car make me smile, and as a widow I count each smile as a blessing. Aren't they cute? Yes, the painting looks like Bounce.

I have started to wear lipstick and lip gloss with SPF protection from the sun's rays. I bought an Avon lipstick with 15 SPF online in a pretty shade "Mad for Mauve". When I see Mauve as a color I often like the color on me. I understand that most people do not put on any SPF covering for their lips, which is a mistake. I also bought a pack of 3 Kiss My Face SPF 25 clear lip gloss and gave one to each of my sons.

Another attractive lip gloss (see above) is by Sheer Shine and each shade has a nice sheen to it. No. 5 is clear and No.22 is coral pink. These are SPF 25. No I have no connection with Avon or the other companies, I just like these products and hope to inspire y'all to care for your lips.

I am reading (obsessed with) lots of books on widowhood and people getting through tough times, and this one is hard to put down. Carol Joyce Oates wrote a memoir "A Widow's Story: A Memoir" about when her dear husband Ray died and the days and the six months after. She is so honest about her emotions and I am experiencing surprisingly many of the same thoughts.  I see amazing similarities between us: she met Ray at the UW student union where they were graduate students; some years later I was a grad student on that same campus and spent many an hour at the student union. Will and I met at the UCB student union. They were together 47 years like William and I. And lots more. She was so distraught she gathered a stash of pills, imagining taking them. I have not had that thought but went through many of the same things. I have not read her novels but wow, this book is one I could not put down. Three differences between us are that my children, faith community (church friends) and seeing a counselor are huge helps to me and Oates lacked these and yet survived in her own admirable way. No matter how you look at it, widowhood is bleak, but her book shows how she made it through. I thank her for writing it, it gives a ray of hope to me and to others who read it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

More of my favorite books plus the two I wrote

In July I posted on my blog a list of my Top 20 Favorite Books.
That was hard to winnow the number down to 20.
Here are a few more favorites that came close to being in that favored 20.

The Sisters (a biography of the Mitford sisters) by Mary S. Lovell.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. When reading books about Tudor times I remember "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived" to help me recall the lives and fates of Henry VIII's wives.

Yikes, Jan Karon's Mitford series about the kindly Father Tim did not reach my top twenty either.I love each book in this series, best to begin with the first one, "At Home in Mitford".

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell. My favorite of hers thus far and I adore these covers of the new Virago editions.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. I suggest reading "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" first, Jenny's first book. The author explores her lifelong battle with mental illness with humorous writing.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Uplifting true story of Corrie being in a concentration camp because her family sheltered Jews in WWII, and how she survived and became a beloved writer and speaker about her Christian faith.
The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Estes also wrote "Women Who Run With Wolves."
I realize my two precious "babies", books I co-authored, must be on my list of favorite books. I don't want them to think I am neglecting them. I have new blog readers who don't know about these pretty books. The first book I co-authored is "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday."
Here is the Amazon link: Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts 
The second book I co-authored is "A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts: Stories to Celebrate and Wisdom to Bless Moms." It was a delight to dream up and then write these books with the other gals.
Today on Amazon the Christmas book is $10 (hardcover, full color) and the Motherhood book is $8 (also hardcover and full color).
Here is the Amazon link: Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts
I looked over my list and see the books in this second installment are all written by women. Just an observation. My three favorite all time authors are men though, see the earlier list for their names.
Thank you to all the authors whose books give me such pleasure.Imagine the hours and years they spent perfecting their craft and bringing stories to life. As I know, writing is by its nature a lonesome profession.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Patio pix of watchdog on duty, flowers

Above are two scenes showing my watchdog at work on the patio while he sits / naps on the chaise longue. He is a cutie. Do you think he is extremely fierce? LOL, well no. He is a love dog.
The first Star Gazer Lily blooms from my new bulbs in July 2017. In the first photo you see to the left of Bounce the leaves of the lily before blooms.
Another photo of my Star Gazer Oriental Lily blooms. You can see they grow well in pots; you can grow them on a small balcony or in a small yard. My yard is large but the lilies enjoy the well drained soil in their pots which also keep them safe from nibbles by gophers.
Above is a closeup of my Cantua flowers which grow on a shrub and are two inches long. My friend from Chile told me about these beauties and we ordered some together. They are the national flower of Chile and can grow up to a second story, where she told me they grew outside her bedroom window there. I later bought a more rare yellow Cantua which never did bloom for me.
My patio is a place that gives me moments of peace in this time of grief for the loss of my husband. I enjoy sitting out there facing the garden, reading a book and drinking ice tea with ice cubes and no sugar in it. My dog and cat nap nearby and birds flit around, bathing in the bird bath and eating seeds I put out for them, up high where they are safe from cats. I think everyone benefits from a personal place of sanctuary and I hope you have one too.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My top 20 favorite books

I've been thinking of doing a "My Top 20 Books" list and then was inspired when I saw Carole of Carole's Chatter and her sidebar. She has a nice Top 20 photo / illustration she said I can use. I believe that what we read (our books) and our gardens are forms of autobiography and reveal things about us.
These books are not in order.

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

The Belton Estate by Anthony Trollope. Actually any of the 17 novels I have read by Trollope.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse. Any of his novels.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. All 20 books in this series, this is the first.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
Ireland by Frank DeLaney.
Emma by Jane Austen.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat.
Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.
The Hacienda, My Venezuelan Years by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (all the Chronicles of Narnia).
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel.
In Search of Lost Time. Swann's Way Vol 1 by Marcel Proust. Translated from the French by C.K. Scott Moncrieff whose translation has been rightly called a masterpiece in itself.
I was not surprised to see that many of my favorite authors are from the U.K. Wodehouse, Trollope, Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Lewis are giants of literary talent for me.
Do you ever experience Bloggers Remorse or Bloggers Ooopsy? Five minutes after posting this list I realized one of the best and most exciting books I have ever read was not on my top 20 list. Shame!
Instead of dropping one of the above 20 I am adding it: "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew.

This book is full of adventure, danger, Andrew's commitment to his faith and hope to marry, as he smuggles Bibles to countries where that act carries a death sentence.  It is a real page turner.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The World Is Still a Beautiful Place

"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.​​​​​​​" Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
My dog Bounce wearing his new Hawaiian shirt at our family July 4 celebration which was at my house on July 2. The shirt is a gift from Julie and her two dogs. Four people and three dogs and one cat gathered together. You see, the world IS still a beautiful place. 
Ha ha, a couple days after I posted the photo, I cropped it and added it above.