Keeping Your Life On Track

June 8, 2019 at 9:14 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Like so many, I have felt like I am in a funk lately. Sometimes you feel like life is just passing you by or you are trying desperately to keep up with the daily demands in life. I am afraid I am there. Sometimes, I feel like I can not cope with the obligations I have and want to run away.

What it is relief for me is that everyone I talk to is going through something. A family issue, health issue, unemployment,  house hunting, being part of the sandwich generation. Summertime is a busy time of year for many. School is out, vacation planning to do, or some just like to stay home and enjoy the backyard pool. I notice some great gardens taking shape as I drive around the ritzy neighborhoods, I come away with some good ideas to incorporate into my backyard retreat.

I know for me, sometimes I do not know why I have a hard time in the summer but I would like to just move on to fall. Summer brings so many wonderful outdoor activities such as swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, riding your bike, or just enjoying catching up on a good book in the park. I have learned how to enjoy summer more. I plan one special activity to look forward to every week. This afternoon, my good friends are taking me to buy a camper trailer. I am getting out for the afternoon, plus spending my downtime with some good company. I would not call myself an introvert, but I can find myself in my backyard listening to the birds or watching the squirrels eating the birdseed in the feeders.

When I look in my closet for something to wear, I laugh because I have more warm weather clothes than cold. I do have to admit I like wearing a nice skirt and pretty top to run errands. I cannot handle the hot, muggy, sticky days, I cannot eat because I feel sick afterward, the house does not cool down until after ten at night, plus, I do not like to fight the crowds at the beach or finding a choice spot by the lake. My home town is rapidly growing and the traffic is getting busier. This is progress though. One has to eventually have to share the best-kept secrete. Many share my love of the mountains, the lakes, and fishing, the hiking, camping by the streams this area has to offer. Who does not love to look in a farmers field and see a herd of elk quietly grazing?

Luckily, my moods do not stay with me for too long. I have some good friends who keep me grounded and moving forward if I get too melancholy. They miss Julie who is always smiling and has a positive attitude towards life. I am truly loving my middle age lifestyle. I did not think I would have had some of the hardships I overcome, but God has helped me to stay focused on what is really important.

I want to thank you for stopping by and reading my post. I hope you will come by again I appreciate your support.

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Best Laid Plans

June 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Last weekend as I was getting ready to freshen up the columns on my front porch with a coat of paint, and have my backyard mowed, we get this incredible thunder and lightning show. I had to laugh because I always pray we can have more than five minutes of the rain and lightning. Well, it poured, lightning strikes and rolling thunder overhead for an hour. I love these late spring storms that clean the air and water your lawn.

I must admit, I am late on planting my flowers and cleaning out a very overgrown flower bed this year. My mom had some medical issues that started last year. I split my time between her, my work and last, my house. I have some dear friends who came over and helped me extend my patio and are getting ready to put on a new front porch railing. I cannot wait until all the work is done and I can have them over for a nice afternoon get together. It is amazing how a mowed yard can increase your happy mood. The lawn never bothered me before but a friend told me you are upgrading the yard so it makes a difference.

It is interesting to me the older I get, I notice things that did not bother me last year, does now. Letting my front yard be unmowed for two weeks was fine with me in the hot days it does not need it, but when it has been four weeks, I am wanting to keep it look nice as the rest of the neighbors. I live in a desirable area by an inlet bay. The water is a block away if you want to hike or bike or ever paddle board around. When my husband and I first saw the house thirty plus years ago, we fell in love. I loved the neighbors, our son had kids here, and the bay where you could launch your boat. I cannot imagine not stepping out my front door and seeing the forest and the storms blowing in.

I was talking with my friend one day about why I wanted to spruce up my back yard area this year. I noticed a couple years ago, the seaplane passes over my neighborhood because of the mansion around the corner from my house. If people can see my backyard from the air, I might as well have a yard I am proud of. I have been so busy the last few years that I had dinner with friends and not have them over. I enjoy entertaining and have a big yard to accommodate a crowd. The older I get, the more I look forward to this semi-retired lifestyle. My schedule allows me to go on day-trips and enjoy some of the lakes in the area. I think what I am really figuring out is life is what you make it. I have suffered some personal loss, but I live with the viewpoint of my glass is half-full. I had to learn to enjoy all four seasons where I live summer being my least favorite. It feels good when you realize your projects are almost complete and then you can enjoy your improved home.

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Weekend Getaways

May 28, 2019 at 8:47 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

As long as I can remember, I have always loved to go for a drive. maybe because my dad has always taken the family to visit relatives when I was a child. Often times, we split our weekends between my grandparent’s house in Kernville, or in Santa Barbara. I had fun seeing my cousins and enjoyed the different environments of both locations.

On Friday night after my parents came home from work, we had a quick dinner and off we would go in our camper. Kernville was a wild west looking town, small and quaint. The town has not changed one bit since I remember it as a child. My grandparents owned a duplex on the edge of town. I remember my twin brother, my cousin and I all were afraid to go into the converted garage guest room because of the wild boars head hanging in the front room. The family would go swimming in the local swimming hole.

Goleta is a suburb of Santa Barbara. I remember many Easters spent with my family in a quaint trailer park near the beach. I remember having to go down a wooded path downhill to get to our beach. I remember one family member joking about swimming with the sharks….. We probably did because we could hear the seals in the distance. Across the street from the trailer park was a beautiful black horse. The kids would sneak across the street and go pet him. I guess I never realized how fortunate my brother and I were to have two places to visit on the weekends. We often talk about how much we love Santa Barbara and Kernville. Living out of state, it is difficult for me to take a trip back in time.

I guess this is where I have my love of driving as well. I love to take day trips and even not going very far, I feel like I have had a mini- getaway. I live in a four-season climate. I can enjoy the beauty of winter, watching the flowers bloom in the spring, designing my backyard retreat, and then enjoying a nice fall drive watching the leaves change color. I feel fortunate to look out my front door and see the national forest, so many biking trails, and waterfalls to explore local wineries, a local farm that makes goat cheese, floating the river with friends, ice cream shops found in small gas stations in a less traveled road. I find when you get off the main highway, you see more wildlife in the farmer’s field. I was driving a back road a couple weeks ago with dear friends we stopped to let the elk cross the street to the open field. It is fun to watch them standing there watching you as you slowly drive past them.

I love small town living although, my home town is growing. New apartments going up, more traffic, more accidents, but the forest is still unspoiled, wildlife sightings, back roads to keep exploring, and just staying home sometimes and enjoying what the season has to bring.

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A Walk Down Memory Lane

May 16, 2019 at 10:56 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The other day, I decided to get under the house- the great unknown (spiders, spider webs) and such, and go through some of the many boxes I have compiled over the years. I found some of my late husband’s Karate trophies and his favorite pair of boots, his jacket, and his motorcycle helmet. There are many boxes that I just forgot about after he had passed away suddenly. It’s funny how over the years, friends had offered to help clean the space and you are not ready. I guess you have to be in the right mood to deal with all the treasured memories.

In the far end of the crawl space,  I saw something that looked like someone was trying to build something down there. On closer inspection, I realized the fort my son was building fifteen years ago, was in the final stage of deterioration. I was impressed, to say the least. He found boxes that he used for the walls of his “new bedroom”, he had installed an extension cord, for tv viewing purposes and let us not forget his lamp. I finally figured out where most of his clothes went. I sat on the floor and laughed out loud. I had forgotten he had built this or tried to. He was moved into the bedroom next door after he was discovered.

I think this will make a cold, rainy day project for me on a staycation. I can get help putting all the boxes in the garage and take one out and go through it, donate what is not needed anymore. It is funny when sometimes you look through a box and find what you need and do not have to go rebuy the item. I know I will find clothes that Levi has outgrown, old toys, video games still in boxes keep them in the box mom, they are worth more money he used to tell me. Some of my high school clothes that are a trip down memory lane in itself. I found one of my favorite blouses I wore back then (I could not get the blouse on over my wrist that is how tiny I used to be). that was a shocker for sure. My mom’s favorite story about me is when I threw a party the day I weighed one hundred pounds.

It is fun to rummage through the past and remember what you found important to keep. A good friend started my bell collection years ago when she went on a trip. I watched her kids for her. Two of my favorite Aunts have given me some of the most beautiful prints of their paintings for my home. My dad painted his last picture for my late husband and my six year anniversary, my dad had no more desire to paint afterward. I still have the artwork hanging in my dining room. Life is full of unexpected pleasures sometimes you look in a junk drawer and find a special note from your son giving you his new cell phone number, or a receipt you find reminding you of that special getaway. I enjoy each and every treasure I find.

 

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An Unexpected Gift

May 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I am sitting at my computer wondering what to blog about when I remembered I was given an unexpected gift. When my son Levi was a teen, he worked laying carpet and installing granite countertops. Levi would start working early in the morning and I can remember seeing him heading to his grandma’s house after work. I would laugh because I was running a few errands and Levi was done for the day.

One afternoon, Levi told me his boss had some extra carpet he wanted to get out of his garage. My neighbor also wanted to buy the carpet, Levi told me if I had the money available, he could lay the carpet for me. A few weeks later, my good friend and I were out for a nice drive, (like an hour from home) her husband called her and told her his crew was having a slow day. I could hear some rough words being spoken over the phone when Levi was hammering the nails into the floor. No wonder I had so many squeaks(smirk). My friend and I arrived home in time to see all the carpet installed and the baseboards being put back.

 This is one of my favorite stories because it was a treat to have new carpet and my son install it for me. I remember Levi wanted to continue improving my home for me by adding new door molding. He was working on million dollar homes in the area and wanted me to have a nice place to live. I never got the new countertops he wanted to install or the new flooring he passed away in a tragic car accident before he had the chance to keep updating. The last couple of years, I have had new flooring and carpet installed in my kitchen and dining by Levi’s old boss. I think if Levi could see what I have already done, he would be happy. 

I turned Levi’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I had to do some repainting and taking down of the military-themed bedroom before it became my oasis. Yes, the fifteen-year-old and his friend painted his bedroom the most god awful green you have ever seen. (funny how now the color is in). A good friend of mine gave me some beige paint to repaint the room after my son had passed away. I added a few finishing touches with Victorian shadow boxes and updated his bookshelf. I have many author friends so the bookshelf went back into its corner filled with inspiring reading material. 

Life is full of unexpected surprises, a helping hand, good advice from a loved one or best friend. I hope this Mother’s day finds you surrounded by family and friends and those you love most. Some mothers are expecting or celebrating the first Mother’s day, others are having the kids over, while some moms are hoping their kids are safe abroad and some, like me, lost their son and have wonderful memories of when I was given an unexpected gift one day. 

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Girls Night Out

April 24, 2019 at 8:21 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I cannot tell you the last time I was able to get together with the girls for a fun night out. Two weeks ago, I was invited to see a play called”Mousetrap.” It was humorous because I did not know the play was hosted by my church, I told the driver I could have met you here. I laughed so hard all evening trying to figure out who the murderer was like the rest of the audience. By the end of the first act, I knew who it was and I did not tell.

I have always been one who likes to go listen to a good Jazz Band in concert or find a Murder Mystery play. My favorite play Is “A Chorus Line”. In high school, I was able to see it on Broadway. Talk about an extravagant performance. I was in a dance class in school so my class, of course, would have loved to jump on stage and help them rehearse. We laughed about how much fun it would have been. I am blessed to live by a Community theatre that John Travolta’s sister starred in many productions. It was fun when John and his lovely wife came for the opening night performance. They are gracious people.

I am realizing in order to keep a happy mental attitude, you need to have something to look forward to. The weather is getting warmer so now I can concentrate on getting my backyard completed, planting new flowers in my beds, finding two new shade trees to replace the tree that died this last fall. I am planning on having people over this summer so I need to expand my patio and finally add a patio cover. My budget allows for one home improvement project to be done every year. I could not accomplish the updates with the support from friends. The house is really starting to look nice. I live by the river and many families come down the street to enjoy paddle boarding, fishing and swimming in the summer.

The older I get, I am finding with an invitation out to dinner, a movie night in or just meeting up at a local coffee-house, I am getting out, enjoying what my home town has to offer and starting to enjoy the new season. winter is over, and spring is finally here. Flowers are starting to bloom, trees are getting green leaves again, the warmer sunny days ahead, mowing the grass, cutting down dead trees, planting new ones, having friends and family over to show off the renovated backyards. I am glad families are staying in the old homes and creating a backyard dream vacation. Most cannot afford to go to the nice resorts every year so families are looking ahead when the kids go to college or start families of their own. It is smart to create where you do not want to leave but spend several hours by the new fire pit or outside grilling station after dinner, sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine.

 I am really looking forward to the next few years as an empty nester, blogger, and enjoying being middle-aged. Like many, I have suffered a few personal loses but I know my husband and my son would be proud that I keep moving forward and never give up. I keep myself busy with working and caring for my aging mom, writing and just being a tourist in my town. I never thought I would be a tourist in my town but it is really fun. There is always a new coffee-house to try, meet friends for dinner at the new eatery, outdoor concerts, Parade of Homes, Annual Garden tours, and who does n’t love hearing the birds singing in the morning?

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Siblings Day

April 10, 2019 at 10:56 pm (blogging, grief, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Survivor, Twins, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Let’s see if I can get myself into trouble on National Siblings Day. My twin who shall remain nameless does not like his name, picture or anything of the sort told about him. I think I have one of the best twin brothers one could have. We got along pretty well growing up, living on a ranch five miles from town. We had each other to play with until one of us wore out his/ her welcome then we found another activity to do alone.

twins will tell you how many minutes apart they are-some twins will go so far as to say for seven minutes, they had it made. I always hated when people talked about ‘the twin thing.’ If something went wrong with my brothers truck, I better watch out because the same fate awaited me as well. When we entered school, we were put in separate classes so we could both learn at our own pace and not be compared as it was, we never had one class together.  We both held different interests, mine was nursing and His was art.

I would not have traded being a twin for the world. Even though we are not as close today as we once were, we still both talk about growing up on the ranch and our 4-H days and teaching our lambs to walk around our circular driveway on a leash. I got a big kick out my friends and a cousin of mine. they envied my brother and I getting to care for all the animals until they found out lambs, chickens, horses,cows do not care if it is Saturday, they still want to eat a six a.m. whether you are awake or not. My friends decided to stay in the town and play with friends instead.

So much has changed since we were young. We both were married, had one child each and tried to live the ‘happily ever after life so many dream of’. After six short years of wedded bliss, my husband died from complications of diabetes, a few years later, we lost our son Levi to a tragic car accident. He was only 20. My brother has a wife and a beautiful and successful 25-year-old daughter. Both my son and my brothers daughter were in a music video. Both my brother and I are proud parents.

Sometimes life throws a curve ball, it is easy to become a lemon taster and be bitter and angry with your circumstance, instead of becoming bitter and angry, I chose to trust God. He has gotten me through some of the darkest days of my life, everyday I heal more and have wonderful memories of my life I can share with you to maybe somehow help someone who is hurting.

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Is Spring On its Way????

March 14, 2019 at 9:29 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Our weatherman said Tuesday was our last day of snow this year. We will see. We all know about the ground-hog land his lie. Social Media has had a field day with the ground-hog this year. Anything from a guest appearance of The Maury Show to a wolf eating him for his lies.

I am one who usually would rather winter take its time ending and spring begin. I love the cold crisp days, watching the snow fall,while sipping my morning cup of coffee, dressing in layers, the chili cook offs, watching families pull the kids on sleds down the street to race down the hill or ice skate. Cold snowy days are a nice way to cuddle up with a good book with a fire burning. It is a great day to have the grand kids over for sleep overs and making cookies and choosing a good movie to be enjoyed by all, Families take the dog and kids for walks in the evening, not to mention the many tireless hours spent shoveling snow. Communities are starting to help out the elderly and disabled by shoveling the driveways for them.

I remember my first winter here in my home town. All the neighbors gathered at my parents house and the teens were pulled around the neighborhood by my dads 1946 Willies Jeep. Dad had fun trying to turn fast around corners so we would whip around missing a parked car by mere inches. We we could not feel our fingers or toes, mom had hot cocoa and home-made chocolate chip cookies waiting for us. My parents knew how to throw a good party or a casual get together. Our old house was isolated and my brother and I had only a few friends who came over to our ranch. it was nice to live with live neighbors around again.

When you talk to folks living here, you get a variety of answers on which season they prefer. Not many dream of a white five months. they would rather we skip the white fluffy stuff and let them get back to planting their flower gardens. I have seen some pretty beautiful gardens and I know how much time it takes to keep them looking show perfect. I have a friend who spends countless hours a week just cutting, pruning, replanting flowers, to have the moose enjoy the fruits of her labor. I admit, I wish I had to green thumb she has, but she is also committed to maintain the beds and keep her yard beautiful. I love to visit the Annual Garden Show in our area. I know many have to be retired to put this much time and planning into the landscape.

I love living in a four season climate unlike living where it is hot, hotter and stay inside today hot. I never was one who liked dry, hot climates where tumble weeds are part of the landscape. I enjoy a few hot summer days, but then like it when the evenings cool off so you can water. I have lived in my home town for over thirty years now and I think it is the ideal place to look forward to retiring to in a few short years. I live in a small three bedroom rancher that I hear are a hot commodity now. Everyone is looking to down size as they grow older and do not want all the yard work to contend with anymore. When you live where there are plenty of lakes to fish in, hiking trails, huckleberry picking, out-door concerts, farmers markets to enjoy where else would you want to go?

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On A Snowy Day….

February 20, 2019 at 10:20 pm (Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It is a snowy afternoon and all through the house needs a good cleaning. I looked down onto my office floor and wondered how what looks like wood chips happened into the room. Christmas bags still needs put away, a stack of papers needs gone through, a good vacuuming and dusting is in order, so why have I sat down at my computer desk and post a story you ask? Well  I am not really ready to clean yet. 

Last night was supposed to be a stormy night. I woke up to barely an inch of the fluffy white stuff. After spending the morning with my mom, I came home ready to do some house work and the sun came out. Yep right on cue, it came out and the sun looked so nice and inviting that I decided my house could go another day dirty.( My friends reading this is laughing because they would tell you my house looks like something straight out of a magazine). I have always like the Victorian Style of decorating. Since I am an empty nester, I worked hard to make my house a home. Over the years, I have friends come over and help me paint and I have turned my sons old bedroom into my dressing room after he moved out a few years ago. 

 My husband and I bought our home over thirty years ago. It was a running joke that Jerry did not let me decorate very much because he did not want company. A true story. Guests could visit for the afternoon, but they had to go home later. My house was decorated warmly(love that word) but not how I would have liked to have it. I think if Jerry could take a tour now, he would be pleasantly surprised. Every room in the house is freshly painted and decorated. He even has a nice home office. The only thing Jerry had in his office was a Blow Flex machine. I always teased him “keep it simple dear”. 

A few years ago, my good friend came over and refreshed my master bedroom into a B&B inspired room. It had been 17 years since I made changes. She created a simple, yet elegant room on a nice budget. When I go on vacation, I opt for a stay-cation instead. Visitors come from all over the world to visit north Idaho. Sometimes you feel like a tourist in your own town. My home town is ever-growing and changing. New businesses are coming in and with it more people who do not know how to drive in the white stuff. Ice is hard to drive on and it does not matter how slow you go, you are still going to slip and slide. I get a kick out of the 4-wheel drive vehicles they gun the motor and do donuts in the street.

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Silver Lining

February 7, 2019 at 9:58 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Uncategorized) (, , , )

For the past few Months, my life has been topsy-turvy. I have been working my full-time job with another full-time job of caring for my mother. She suffered a fall last year and has been having trouble with the day-to-day living skills. Today, I bought her a new wheel chair to help her get around her house better and to be more independent living.

I can really look back and laugh when I was a child growing up on the ranch and mom reminding me in a not so gentle tone this time) to get my chores done, do my homework so I can get to bed on time. Some kids would be envious that I owned a horse and sheep, pigs, cows, chickens and would have loved to live on the ranch. Some weekends I would have traded them places. Up at 6 to feed the animals, running the lambs around our circular  driveway for a mile getting ready for the fair. Life is always greener on the other side of the Astroturf I have heard it said.

I can look back on raising my young son as a single parent after the sudden death of my husband. I was now mom, dad and sole provider of this now family of two. I learned to be creative with my limited finances to make ends meet. I raised Levi from childhood through his tweens, no easy feat. I think the best compliment any parent could hear from a child is”if I ever become a daddy, I hope I am half the dad my mom was to me”. All the hard work paid off. I can look back of instances that make me laugh now wondering how I have gotten through them. All the door slamming, late night pizza deliveries when he though you were fast asleep, sneaking in through the bedroom window (you were in the bed) oh the screams I heard.

Being part of the sandwich generation is sometimes difficult. You can now relate to what your parents went though raising us and now they need our extra help in day-to-day living. The one thing I will never tire of is hearing all the stories of when mom lived next to the Iverson Ranch Movie Studio in California and watching her hero Hop Along Cassidy film while her horse Honey grazed. She used to play in the Stage Coach Inn; The inn was left with all the furnishings still inside after making the last movie there. Talk about an honest person she never was tempted to take even a brush that was left. This was in the late 1940’s and I can just imagine the beautiful brass beds, linens, and furniture that was just left there. These stories to me are priceless and I am glad mom can tell them to me even if it is over and over. 

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