Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Serenity's Return

(Written last Sunday, but my website host has been acting funky the last two days, and I haven't been able to publish.)

Ahh.... calm is settling. As I sit back this lovely Sunday evening, all the laundry is done, a fantastic dinner is sitting happily in my belly, the kitchen is clean, and the house is regaining a sense of order. Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book plays spunkily in the background. You haven't lived till you've heard her sing "It's Too Darned Hot." What a great tune.

If anyone is following this blog with any regularity, I extend an apology for being so silent. I always find it disconcerting when a blog suddenly goes quiet. "Are they okay?" I wonder. "Have they stopped posting for good? Did something bad happen?"

Nope. All is well. I've been productive and, as much as I missed writing posts here, there was an angry and disgruntled line of  "you-can't-put-us-off" tasks awaiting. Many are now done (or partway done) and I'm feeling sheepishly proud of myself.

For two months, I have been decluttering like a woman possessed, and last weekend we had a monster yard sale.

A while back, Tammy Strobel's You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap) arrived at my library. I was immediately smitten by her story and inspired to simplify a life that had become very spread out.

I'm also a huge fan of Peter Walsh, of Oprah fame. Several years ago, I got his book It's All Too Much and subsequently shed layers of stuff that no longer held importance in my life. Recently I came across his newest book in the library entitled Lighten Up! which focuses more on finances, clutter, and life choices. Very eye opening and just what I needed to hear. It was good kick in the pants.

As a result, our house has been a bit frightening looking for the past few weeks as I've gone room from room, deciding what I wanted to keep and what I was ready to kiss goodbye. Boxes upon boxes of things that once were important stood in precarious Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa arches about our home. (On the upside, the cats had a blast. It was like Disneyland for them.) Among the cast-offs were tons of baby things for the baby that never arrived. Knitting paraphanelia when I thought I'd become a knitter. My enormous children's literature collection that wasn't being read. And big people books. (I'd say adult books, but that could be misconstrued.) So many books. What had I been thinking when I bought them all?

Naturally, a lot of feelings resurfaced like vague echoes. Decluttering can be a skewed and often unwelcome trip down memory lane. The baby stuff, in particular, was something I'd avoided for years, after packing it away in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind. Except it wasn't really out of mind. It was a weight I didn't realize I carried, like a sad ghost haunting me from above. Now it's gone and I feel like a new person.

There's still more to do. Even though I got rid of a lot of attic things, for example, I want to go back and do another sweep to organize what's left. We continue to sell things on eBay. But having so much meaningless stuff gone is an incredibly liberating feeling.

We finally finished the shed! It was my Dad's design and project and it's gorgeous! He did most of it, with Ryan and I just filling in here or there doing odd jobs on it. And now our lawnmower and other unsightly objects are finally out of our living room! Once we organize and clear our tools out, we can actually have people over again! And they can bring their kids without worry of the children getting into our saws! Luxury.

We're getting our life back.

I redesigned a large portion of our yard last fall and had a lot more work awaiting me in the past month as the soil awoke. There is literally a lot more ground to cover, but I've made great strides and am really thrilled with the progress! (Pictures will be posted soon...) Ryan disassembled the large fence -- we gave it away on craigslist -- and it's opened up the yard. We're at the point where neighbors are beginning to come by and comment on the amazing difference. I squirm like a child being praised for drawing a pretty picture.

I've also begun our garden. All the cold crops are coming up nicely and I'm putting in all our summer things tomorrow after visiting our favorite local garden center. Picking up my vegetable seedlings is one of my favorite tasks of the year. I can't think of a happier chore! [added Monday note: I just planted everything!]

I just began taking an 8-week, 3-credit online graduate course at Wheelock College about teaching science at the elementary level. I actually adore online classes, and I suspect I may be one of the only people who does. Taking classes in Boston, though, can take a huge bite out of your wallet, what with the exorbitant parking fees. So I'm content sitting home at my computer and doing the work from there. :) I have two one-credit courses after this one and then I am done with my post-graduate classes! Huge sigh of relief.

We had a big scare a week and a half ago when Sergio, one of our two indoor kitties, escaped the house unnoticed. He's gotten very good at slipping by me when I get home but I usually catch him right away. This time, though, he was gone. Just gone. He didn't hang around and howl after he'd gotten outside. There was no sign of him for about 8 hours. We'd searched the neighborhood from about 5:00 - 10:30, plastering posters of him everywhere and calling to him constantly. We finally came home dejected and heartbroken and settled into the living room, where we unenthusiastically ate our dinner whilst keeping our eyes peeled outside.

And then suddenly he walked up to the back door and meowed. I ran over, let him in, and sobbed. Sobbed like a baby. I thought my boy of 15 years was gone for good and my heart had been broken into tiny shards of glass. And then by some miracle he was back.

Every day that I see him now, I thank my lucky stars. He's such a sweet cuddlebug.

Meanwhile, our other kitty Kaci, has been rapidly losing weight. All the tests came back saying everything was as it should be, so we were mystified.  But she's been endlessly ravenous, so it struck us that she just wasn't properly absorbing the nutrients in her food. The vet gave us some different medication, though, and she's perking up quite a bit in just two days. She even seems to be putting on weight again. We'll bring her back on Wednesday to have them recheck her weight.

I never want to be the person that makes their animal companion survive miserably just for the sake of surviving a few more months. But if she can thrive again, I'm all for that! So we've got our fingers and paws crossed!

I've started to do more regular writing for both Vegbooks and Our Hen House, two terrific websites that I've long admired. Every two weeks, it seems, a new book arrives on my doorstep from a random book company, ready to be reviewed. (In the spirit of keeping the house clutterfree, though, I give the books away as soon as the review is finished.) It's work I love to do, though, as writing is just plain old fun and the subject matter always interesting.


So that's the scoop. I have many new ideas I want to write about and am glad to be back!