Monday, May 14, 2012

End of the road

It's a good thing life comes at you one day at a time, because I'd probably be in shock if you'd plucked me from the reality I was living in when I started this blog in 2007 and dropped me into Days of My Life 2012. Today I swept, mopped, dusted, scrubbed toilets and ran four loads of laundry. I ate a popsicle on the porch and read multiple children's books that I already know by heart. I cut my run short so I could squeeze in a stop at the farmers market all by myself. I blowdried my hair while under attack from two tiny dinosaurs, one of whom dropped the act for a second to wrap her arms around my neck and say, "I love you, Mama. I really love you."

Life is different now. And I am different, in all kinds of ways that are real but could only sound cliche if I tried to spell them out in a paragraph or two. And thus, this is the end of Green Grass' run.

I can't explain why I feel this need to have closure here and start a new blog with a blank slate, but I do and I am. From now on I'll be blogging at I hope you'll join me!

These are the days

Monday, April 23, 2012

As good as I remembered

I just finished rereading one of my all-time favorite books, "Fair and Tender Ladies" by Lee Smith. It's our book club's April selection -- Sonya and I both recommended it -- and I was glad to have an excuse to read it again. It had been about 10 years. But I was also a little apprehensive and wondered whether it would live up to the hype I've built up about it in my own mind. It's so disappointing to read a book, love it, tell everyone you know they should read it, then reread it yourself a few years later and wonder why you thought it was so great. I am prone to this.

However, "Fair and Tender Ladies" was every bit as good as I remembered, although I still think the cover needs a redesign. I fell in love with Ivy Rowe, and Smith's beautiful writing, all over again. There was some talk of inviting Smith to our book club -- the manager of our wonderful local bookstore is in our book club and can swing such things -- but that talk died down, which is just as well, because if I were hanging out in someone's living room, maybe even my own, with Lee Smith I'd probably either forget how to talk or forget how to shut up.

These quotations won't be as good out of context, but I'm recording them here, because I love lines that really resonate and give you something to think about.

"But I feel that things are happening two times allways, there is the thing that is happening, which you can say, and see, and there is another thing happening too inside it, and this is the most important thing but its so hard to say."

"You know I used to have so much spunk. Well, I have lost my spunk some way. It is like I was a girl for such a long time, years and years, and then all of a sudden I have got to be an old woman, with no inbetween. Maybe that has always been the problem with me, a lack of inbetween. For all of a sudden when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy that they forget this is it. This is my life."

"Sometimes I despair of ever understanding anything right when it happens to me, it seems like I have to tell it in a letter to see what it was, even though I was right there all along!"

"There has got to be one person who is the lover, and this time it was me, and one who is the beloved which was Honey. And I will tell you the truth -- may be it's best to be the lover, some ways. Because even if it don't work out, you are glad. You are glad you done it. You are glad you got to be there, anyway, however long it lasted, whatever it cost you -- which is always plenty, I reckon."

"The statue of Oakley is always working. Its back is always bent, its face is always turned away. For it aint no way to make a living from a farm. And you know, I must of knowed that somehow, it must of been down in my mind the same as those stories are, in the still place where you just know things. I must of knowed it from childhood, from watching it kill Daddy first, then Momma. But that is the thing about being young -- you never think that what happened to anybody else might happen to you, too. Your life is your own life, that's how you think, and you are always so different. You never listen to anybody else, nor learn from what befalls them. And the years go so fast."

"Life seems contrary to me, as contrary as I am. I feel like you never say what you ought to, nor do as you should, and then it is too late. It is all over. I have spent half of my life wanting and the other half grieving, and most often I have been wanting and grieving the same thing. There has been precious little inbetween."

"Even if it is just me sitting on this porch, I will not be lonely. Although I know that not one hour for the rest of my life will go by without me missing Oakley and that's a fact. But I will tell you another fact which is just as true, it hit me yesterday. I can read every book that John O'Hara ever wrote. I can make up my own life now whichever way I want to, it is like I am a girl again, for I am not beholden to a soul. I can act like a crazy old woman if I want to which I do. I can get up in the morning and eat a hot dog, which I did yesterday. I don't know what I might do tomorrow!"

"So says Molly, who has gotten right set in her ways with old age. I think a person will go one way or the other, don't you? Either they will get more set in their ways, or they will get all shook up. I am shook up, myself."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easy target

I just spent an inordinate amount of time listing stuff on eBay and Craigslist. Every time after we move or even just have a yard sale I wind up with some things that I don't want to bring back into the house but I can't just send on to Goodwill like the rest of my rejects.

Sometimes I'm irrationally defensive of it, usually for nostalgic reasons, e.g., I can't believe none of the yard sale crowd couldn't see past the chips in this coffee mug my mom gave me in college! Sometimes I'm trying to make up for spending too much on it myself, e.g., I paid $25 for these extra wet bags because I didn't know I'd only have two kids in cloth diapers for one month, and I am not just going to give them away!

Typically I load everything into a laundry basket in the trunk of my car and, over the next few weeks, make the rounds -- the children's consignment store, the consignment store where I take my clothes, the consignment store where I take my housewares, the used bookstore where I take my books, various stores for returns of unopened merchandise, Amanda's garage for Fed By Faith, friends' houses for their own yard sales and possibly better luck. Anything left after all this is finally given up and away.

Returns: I consider myself to be pretty shameless about them. Matt thinks I'm crazy, and now you all will too, but I have no problem returning something as small as a four-pack of packing tape I ended up not needing. I wouldn't go out of my way to do this, but I always keep my receipts and these items in the trunk of my car so I can hit up customer service next time I'm at the store.

However, I don't return perishable items and personally I don't think stores should even accept returns for them. If someone buys a pack of bacon and then changes her mind, does the store put it back on the shelf? I hope not -- there's no way to know whether it was refrigerated, etc., while the original buyer had it. And if the store just throws it away, that bothers me too, and it makes all of our prices go up.

A couple of months ago our whole family was at Walmart and Matt was taking care of a return while the kids and I got started shopping. The woman in front of Matt at customer service was trying to return meat that had EXPIRED the day before -- and they let her! Matt said they did have to call in a supervisor to approve it, and they only gave her store credit, not cash, but come on. I hate to use "Walmart" and "generous" in the same sentence, but they do have a generous return policy, and it annoys me when people so blatantly take advantage of things like that.

Talking about Walmart reminds me of another good story. I didn't know this post was going to turn into a Walmart-crazies rant; this is fun.

A few weeks ago I went to Walmart (by myself) and when I came out, loaded up the groceries and got ready to leave, I found I couldn't back out because a truck was behind me, waiting for someone else to pull out so they could have their spot. This is another pet peeve of mine, but I waited patiently for a couple of minutes. By that time the cars were starting to line up behind this truck and I was starting to get annoyed. I wasn't in a particular rush (for once), but they were being so inconsiderate.

I was the closest car to them so I got out to talk to them. When I got to their truck I saw they were an elderly couple so, trust me, I was VERY GRACIOUS and totally giving them the benefit of the doubt when I told them there were quite a few cars waiting on them and asked if maybe they could circle around.

They started talking (NOT graciously) at the same time. Husband: "If you're in a hurry, you should have started sooner." Wife: "We're in a hurry too, but we have to park somewhere." I didn't argue, just got back in my car. The whole crowd of us sat there probably at least five more minutes -- the cars on both sides of mine were waiting by this time too -- and I finally escaped when the car parked in front of me left and I pulled through. I don't know how much longer everyone else was there. Ah, the 'mart: bringing out the worst in all of us. I love to hate it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Play away

If you know my dad, you probably know he's an amazing piano player and it's probably no surprise that his music was a constant backdrop of my childhood. Although he taught me the basics, he never forced lessons or practice on me or Amanda, which unfortunately means I never got very far (Amanda did). Amanda's always been the musical one -- she also plays violin and clarinet and sings -- but at various times in my life I've regretted not taking advantage of such an obvious opportunity to learn enough to enjoy playing.

Lately the urge to learn hit me again and this time it was coupled with the thought that I'd really like Claire and Evan to eventually learn to play if they'd like to too. I don't know how musical they'll turn out to be, but if you play only one instrument, the piano seems like a practical one -- no huge upfront investment is required, there's minimal maintenance, and you can play alone or with people. In other words, the piano is to instruments as running is to sports. Maybe. Kind of.

So I've been casually on the lookout for a piano for a while now. I wasn't willing to spend much money on one and I also was hoping to find one locally, which eliminated most of what was available on Craigslist. I could have bought a keyboard but didn't think that would feel nearly as cool or be nearly as motivating.

Thursday morning I had a few free minutes so I decided to run into Sandhills Coalition. Lo and behold, a piano was there -- with a $50 price tag. I was already sold, but in the interest of prudence I called Dad (who graciously came immediately to give his opinion). Matt arrived a few minutes later with final approval and cash, yesterday afternoon we got it home, and voila!

I've already gotten my money's worth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Clairisms, part 3

Things are gradually slowing down and one day soon I might again gather thoughts of my own to occupy this space, but today, Claire gets the floor again.

"Dear God, please help Evan sleep till he wakes up."

"I'm going to obey right away soon."

"Dear God, thank you for curtain rods and the bright moon."

"Is the sky moving, Mom?" (while cloud-watching)

"I flushed very quietly."

"You look like a child, Evan!"

Conversation at the gym:
Claire -- What is that?
Me -- Trash. Somebody threw it on the ground.
Claire -- Why?
Me -- I guess they didn't see a trash can. That was lazy.
Claire -- It was lazy?
Me -- Yes.
Claire -- Oh. I know that girl.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At long last ... house photos

(Sorry about the random order.)
Breakfast nook

Half-bath -- with stained-glass window No. 1

More half-bath

And more

Dining room

Living room, dining room and built-ins above cabinets that hide all the TV components (!)

Living room -- with hard-won antique mantle

Landing -- with stained-glass window No. 2

Upstairs loft/office space

Claire's room

Evan's room

Upstairs playroom

Upstairs bonus room/workout room/room where TVs come to die/guest bedroom in a pinch

Downstairs playroom/office

Built-in bookshelves -- how better to use a wall?

Master bathroom

Master bedroom

The other side of it


And again

Screened-in porch

Back yard

Rear view

Last but not least ... kitchen