Sunday, August 21, 2016

Home thoughts.

I tend to underestimate the time and muscle a job will require. I also tend to procrastinate doing the projects I really want to do because I never feel like I have a large enough chunk of free time to make the effort worthwhile. It is a conundrum.

Hubby, Firstborn, and Intensity are not here. They went to Baton Rouge yesterday to try to help my in-laws, who are just a few of the thousands who were flooded this past week. Grandma lost everything, but my in-laws got lucky...their house had four feet of water in it and they lost almost everything inside, but they have power, water, gas, and air conditioning already. With my husband and kids' help, they found some things to save. Their house is fixable, their car replaceable, and they still have one working vehicle and all three cats. It's still terribly terribly hard on them, though...they've lived in that house for almost 40 years and it has never taken on water. They had so many nice things gathered and saved over the years. Just gone. For my family here, a total flood would lose us a lot of irreplaceable photos, a precious quilt, and.....well, mostly, a whole lot of nothing important. We don't have heirlooms, antiques, expensive important stuff...our home is mostly furnished in beat-up hand-me-downs and curb finds. Which is awesome, for a family of 11 with 9 boys and two big dogs and a wanna-be farm. It's hard for me to imagine what it is like losing a lifetime of carefully gathered and cared-for items. Having to see them destroyed and physically toss them in the trash pile with your own two hands. It must be heart-wrenching. Not just the memories or place they held in your life, but also your plans and hopes for them in the future. My mil lost things she'd imagined her great-great grandchildren would cherish someday. FEMA can't help with that. No one can. Lord have mercy, and thank You that they are safe.

Anyhow, Hubby is on his way home now. He has to be at work on Monday. Firstborn and Intensity are staying. There is still a lot of work to do and those two are great workers. So is Right-hand Girl. I need to work on the younger boys. They got off easy with the olders doing most of the work for the past few years, and I didn't train them as well. It's harder when they are older. But they'll get there. Or else.

So, school has started, again. We are playing a bit of catch up with the olders, but they are handling it. I have 3 high schoolers now! How strange. We are part of a new homeschooling group this year, it was going to be two but life suddenly crunched down on us (it tends to do that) and shows no signs of letting up so just one homeschooling group it is right now. It has a co-op, which my 6 youngest are doing. The boys are very excited. They've missed having homeschool classes to and field trips and social events to attend. My olders are joining Key Club. It looks like it will be great. I'm excited. Our homeschool has been too fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants-all-by-our-lonesomes the past couple years.

And I'm taking on a diy home improvement project, finally! I'm very excited. I've been planning and thinking about what to do in this place since we moved in here 3 years ago. I did a half-baked job on the kitchen (which is SUCH NEED of a complete redo) but now I'm getting serious about my oldest son's bedroom. I only have him for another couple of years or so, and he's always lived in a barely put together room with with little brothers that destroyed everything. So he gets the first fix-up, as well as the guinea pig room. Ha!

Today we washed 3 of the 4 walls and oh boy they were gross. The carpet and its padding was torn up and tossed. Hundreds of staples have been pulled out of the floor with pliers. Nails and screws have removed from walls. This week my plan is to replace the broken window (its been blocked with plywood for months now), wash the 4th wall and inside of the closet, cut a larger hole around the closet door, and pull up the wall strips.  Also, paint the bed frames.

The final plan includes industrial-type lighting, a corrugated metal ceiling, planked walls, a faux brick wall, a pegboard, a polyurethaned osb floor, and a home built desk. I've got it all written out and planned. I'm excited. I'm also glad the kids took the camera to BR so I can't take before pics. It looks awful in there. I will try to get progress pic after they get back though.

After this room is done, the living room is next. Whee!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Up and at 'em

It never really grew straight anywhere, but it did get it's job done.
Angel Oak

My kids are still alive and my house is still standing, but other than that, I've pretty  much been a failure these past several months. Like Paul in Romans 7, I have been spending my time doing what I don't care about and neglecting what I do love and desire. The internet and food has been my "soma."

There is a reason my tattoo is of a phoenix. No matter how burnt out, ashy, cold and dark I become, I always need to get up and try again. Even if I know I will just burn up and fail again. Over and over and over. It's discouraging. REALLY discouraging, lately. I struggling with thinking "what's the point?" Motivation usually gets me as far as writing a new schedule or plan and sometimes I even follow it a day or two. I have very little endurance or perseverance.

I need routines, good habits, or as it helps me (a little) to think of them: rituals. I know all about what they should be, how to create them. I dream of them, write them out, tell the kids how well our lives will go if we could just do it "this" way, and set them up like a beautiful castle of cards. A castle of cards on a rickety tv tray in a living room with 10 other people running around, pets, angry bankers, and demanding dentists breezing through the room every hour or so. Not to mention my hands shake badly.

I keep hoping there is a magic pill, book, website, fancy timer or other doodad, prayer, or plan that this time! will make me stick to it!! I haven't found one yet. I keep looking.

At this moment, though, not a great moment, not a motivated moment, not a prepared moment, but just this one right now, 7:45 am on a Monday, I'm writing in my sadly neglected blog, taking my morning supplements, and next moment I will be dressing and making my bed. That's already more than I do some days. I'm not going to sweep through the house today, making everything bright and beautiful and organized, I'm not going to do a fun craft/activity with my kids, I'm not going to finally restart my budget or write my novel. I'm going to eat breakfast, make sure my olders start school and teach my youngers some reading and math. I'm going to do my short and easy workout that barely counts as anything other than being off the couch. I'm going to go at least one full hour without being online. I'm going to light my altar candle, and pray one Jesus prayer.

I'm good at flaming up, or I used to be. Maybe that's part of getting older, having less enthusiasm for trying again. Maybe that's what I've needed all along, a slower burning spark. Maybe being charcoal is better than dryer lint. Maybe I'm not going to worry about that right now, I have no expectations of suddenly doing well regularly. I'm just going to do okay for a few moments this morning. We'll see what happens next.

(Edited to add: My life isn't bad. It isn't even particularly hard. This is just my own mental/emotional struggle. To paraphrase Jack Sparrow: My problem are not my problems. My problem is my attitude about my problems.)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Janessa Lawyer Moore

We were so very much alike and yet so different. She was a talented writer and artist and fellow geek and browncoat. She introduced me to Stargate SG-1 and Pandora Radio.

She had a wonderful laugh and truly the best version of a Southern accent in the sweetest voice. She was over the top proud of her kids. I know, all moms are supposedly, but she really was.

Her joy was in caring for people. She was always interested in medicine and helping people and she fought hard to finally become a nurse. She had just started a job as a nurse in a nursing home and she was so excited about it.

She was in the middle of making me a quilt. I'm insecure enough that I spend a lot of time second-guessing whether people really like me or not, but I never ever doubted she loved me. Every conversation with her, silly ones or hard ones, short or hours-long, she made it clear. I hope she was as sure of me.

 She is one of the few people as crazy about cheese as I am. I don't know what the weather was like where she was when she died, but here we were having the kind of storms we both loved.  We sat on her bed and folded piles of her laundry while visiting, or just watching tv...we could spend whole days together because we could just be ourselves with each other. She showed me around Miami.  She wrote me HAPPY BIRFDAY once a year. She encouraged my writing. She refused to let me invalidate my own feelings, and I still think of that whenever I am tempted to rationalize away the way I or others feel. I totally failed at helping potty train her oldest son. My oldest son and her third boy are just months apart, and I remember them lying next to each other on the floor as babies. Hers was older, but mine was huge, so I joked that mine looked like the "dumb jock" next to her boy. Two of our daughters are close to the same age. We wanted them to be friends, but with 600 miles between us, that never happened. She was without reserve ecstatically happy for every single pregnancy I had, and completely over the moon about her unborn grandson.  I named my oldest daughter for her. I remember her reaction when we told her over the phone. She was speechless. That didn't happen often. She cried. That did.

She loved the whole idea of my mini-micro farm and was so encouraging about it.

She fought so many battles in her life against horrible demons, and she didn't always win, but she never ever stayed down.

She was looking forward to getting old and being "covered in grandbabies" and she planned on carrying butterscotch candies to pass out to all the kids.

I missed her terribly, but didn't talk to her nearly as often I would have liked.

We made so many plans to visit each other and they always fell through. I've imagined her meeting my friends here so many times; they would have loved each other. She really wanted to attend the Pascha service at my church, and she was excited about being my "bridesmaid" when we celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary. We were going to get tattoos together. I have hundreds of pages of conversations with her saved on my computer. Our hundreds of hours of phone conversations are fading but precious in my memory. We always talked about hopefully seeing each other again SOON and how great the hug would be when we finally did.  Now I've finally made it to her home and she's not here.

Her life changed my life and made it brighter, fuller, warmer, more thoughtful, and more exciting. 600 miles away, my life isn't going to change much with her gone, except for the new emptiness that's just everywhere.

"In the days after she died, the world seemed filled with a harsh, caustic, almost shadowless light that it hurt to see."--from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry