I was so stressed over the exterior paint color decision.

Not just the color selections, but the time it took. Back and forth to the paint store, driving by houses for ideas, scouring the Internet, paint samples on the house (cleaning the brush in between each color). I am so glad it’s done. And what a relief; I love it!

 

These pictures could be better, but it gives you an idea. I wish I could have been more accepting and appreciative of the faded burgundy, the wooden porch with a wheel chair ramp, and the security door and window coverings on this house. I am truly grateful to God for all He provides to me. But I found myself asking Him for forgiveness, because I really disliked some aspects of the house. I am an ongoing work in progress. I love this crisp shade of white, with grey and black. It’s like Cinderella’s gown change, except it didn’t happen in the blink of an eye. The accessories on the gown still need some work, but if I wait to post until that’s done, by then the house could be ready for a new paint job.

 

The actual colors are Sherwin Williams:

Duck White

Mindful Grey

Tricorn Black

Speaking of new accessories, in looking at these pictures I’m reminded that I need to get new house numbers and a new doorbell.

The guys who did this were so conscientious in everything they did. I might have mentioned that I have a crush on the main guy. It’s his care and precision that caused my heart to flutter. After talking with him I would walk away and say, “I love you.” Of course I don’t love him, but I kind of love him. I’ve had a lot of people do work for me, and never has anyone been so kind and good to do work that exceeded my expectations (this excludes my friends’ husbands). I’ve had adequate workmanship, mediocre workmanship, and bad workmanship. I also had a project end before it was finished and my calls went unanswered. Only one other worker has been stellar in his work for me. It was actually a husband and wife couple. That task was difficult, but much smaller than this.

It’s a yukky place to sit when you have to ask a professional to improve on their work. That’s like asking a mom to do better at scheduling or making school lunches, or housecleaning. We do that every day, so someone pointing out that we didn’t put a piece of fruit in the lunch or we need to clean the toilet would be like, duh! But truly, I could write an entire blog on things I’ve had to address with workers. The handholding, the clean up, the things that anyone would think is part of a job, but because it wasn’t “part of the quote,” I was challenged. My guy (for lack of a better term) never put me in a position of having to point out a deficiency. He anticipated needs and proceeded to address them. When I questioned something, he wasn’t offended. He might as well have handed me his heart on a platter. He might have wrapped me in his arms and told me he loved me. I could have kissed him.

But, now he and the temptation to kiss him are gone. He was going to stain the fence when we had some dry weather forecasted and a break in his schedule. But I’ve decided that instead of paying him to stain the fence, I’m going to do it. I’d scheduled him to do this big project right after Christmas when the fence had fallen over and dry rot had been discovered on part of the house. Now it’s May and he’s slammed like all contractors. As much as I’d like him around, I’ll free him up from staining the fence. Plus, I’d decided that I can’t make a move on him because he’s probably at least 10 years younger than I am. And besides, I’d have to do research on “making a move” and I’m not up for another project; I have a fence to stain!

I’d love to share the number of the couple who did the small project. Email me if you want their name. Same for “my guy.” I just think you might have to wait awhile to get on his schedule.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I love to listen to audio books. It’s the best thing since sliced bread, but really better. No need for me to eat bread sliced for me to enjoy it. Productivity makes me happy and multitasking is a skill I’ve honed. Especially this time of year when I’m trying to keep up on my yard, which is looking a little amazing (I’m not saying perfect). Don’t you love the orange!!? The spring rains, lots of sun, and two years of establishment for many of the plants have blossoms exploding. I can hear them saying, “Notice me! Notice me!” I know the goodness of this season has a limited life, so I’m giving these sweet braggarts as much attention as I can.

So within the last couple of months on my walks and yard work I’ve listened to a few books that I want you to love like I do. First I want to tell you that I use two platforms. One is Audible, and the other is Overdrive which is through our public library system. Audible is great because it carries most books and when I want a book I can access it on demand. But it’s a subscription of about $14.95/month, which I think is reasonable, but it’s not an extra I can budget right now. I’ve gone back and forth in being a member when they’ve offered a promotion. I just changed my membership again to their option of $9.95/year which has very limited benefits, but it’s better than nothing. Overdrive is great because it’s free, but often books aren’t available and usually you have to put requests on hold. Once you get a book, you only have two weeks to finish it before it’s returned to the library.

Book 1: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

The audible version that I listened to on Overdrive is narrated by Rita Moreno, who I think might be more famous than Sonia Sotomayor about whom I now know more than I do the famous Rita Moreno.

Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and is the first hispanic to hold this position. Growing up in the Bronx, Sonia’s family struggled to make ends meet. Her mother placed a high value on education and like a sponge, Sonia soaked up education, always thirsting for more. As a young girl she was thoughtful about her family and community, and discovered she innately wanted to contribute to what’s right and fair. The TV show Perry Mason opened her eyes to the possibiity of pursuing a career in law. Coming from a poor Puerto Rican family she took nothing for granted and seized every opportunity, while remaining loyal to her family and her culture. I loved the detail about her day to day life sharing a small apartment with extended family, the foods they would buy, the meals they would cook and the rituals they shared. From that life Justice Sotomayor found her way to Princeton and then Yale, representing the Fendi family out of law school, and then became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I loved the book, and Rita Moreno was good, too.

Book 2: It Was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell

I found this book when I was desperate one night to listen to another book. I was preparing to start a big casserole and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to listen to another great book while I mindlessly diced and chopped. I wasn’t back on the Audible subscription so I was using Overdrive. I must have searched for 20 books from Oprah’s book list before I finally found one that was available. I had no idea what the book was about, but I grabbed it, figuring that if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me. Now I think if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for you!

Ironically, the book I started while engaged in my sous chef activities was about food. Andie Mitchell’s memoir dates back to her young self through to her young adult life. Among Andie’s challenges is a father who is devoted when he isn’t drinking and her mother whose love language is cooking great food in mass quantities. Andie’s love language is eating the food. Through thick and thin, Andie walks us through every bite she chews and every flavor she craves with such detail that I was almost drooling. Except that her internal struggle is heartbreaking and the mood of chowing down on a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven waned. The intensity with which she tells her story took me back to many relatables memories with my own family. Andie is sincere in exposing both her love and hate of food and herself, and we see the impact of both on her life. She narrates her story and I had to remind myself a couple of times that I was listening to a book, not a friend reliving her life with me. Although Andie thought she was defined by her eating habits, she brings much more to our world than having lived life with an eating disorder. She brings a different perspective to the subject and finds her way out as well. While I think this book has value for people who struggle with eating habits, for those who are in early stages of recovery from eating addictions, the book could be triggerig and you should consider carefully before reading it.

Book 3: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I had no idea what “Born a Crime” could mean. I chose the book because the review told me it was a must read. I soon discovered the meaning of the title. I’m just halfway through and I love it. What’s funny to me is that I had no idea who Trevor Noah was before I began the book. In an effort to convince my son to at least listen to a book, if he’s not going to read one, I played a small sample of the book to him, sure that he would be seduced by the delivery of the sample I’d chosen. Immediately Bradley said, “Oh, Trevor Noah? That’s cool. I know him.” Bradley went on to tell me that he’s famous, everyone knows him, he’s on this show and that show, yadda yadda. Oh well, I know Trevor Noah now.

Trevor’s book is filled with color, no pun intended. I feel his energy for the life he lived as well as the misfortune, although he never complains, but paints a picture of things most of us can’t imagine. He also paints a picture of which many kids might dream, and maybe some adults, in the boldness with which he lives his life. What a treat to learn apartheid history, the social structures, the South Africa government, and more from this talented native who is faithful to his heritage but clearly adapted to American culture. It’s fun to hear his perspective on a life devoted to Jesus as required by his fiercely independent mom. I’ve known people who have gone to South Africa for missions work and I can piece their stories into this narrative and I feel like I kind of understand their experience. I agree: it’s a must listen.

Note: I don’t use Audible links because I’m not a big Amazon fan. This is my small way, even if it’s only one reader, to support Barnes and Noble. I cried when Borders went out of business!

It’s crazy the colors here this Spring in Portland, Oregon. The blooms are bursting from their buds like they’ve been holding their breath and can’t hold it another minute.

I took all of these shots (minus one) tonight on an early evening walk. There’s no getting my heart rate up with these show stoppers grabbing my attention. Are the colors really more vibrant and demanding of my attention, or is this behavior of a 58 year old???

I was so endeared to them, I named them. Maybe another sign of 58?

Arch Cape Weekend

I’ve been a little out of commission in the writing world, violating the advice I’ve been reading on the disciplines of writing. I went on a weekend Women’s retreat with a group from my church called THRIVE. I’ve mentioned this group before, commenting that at one point that was my mission: to thrive, not just survive. But then Kaiser stole it, so I backed off from proclaiming it to avoid any eye rolling when my back is turned. Thriving is still preferred over just surviving, and we definitely thrived at our retreat on the Oregon coast in Arch Cape. I haven’t been a women’s weekend gal and I’d never been to Arch Cape, but both were things I’d do again. Our group has incredibly gifted leaders who can calm a storm with a tempering word of God and send Satan’s spirits running like a bolt of lightening. We spent hours worshiping and digesting God’s word as much as we did listening and sharing with each other, without interruptions and distractions of the demands at home. The ocean spanned broad and deep, threatening, like our lives, while demonstrating God’s hand. Leaving this sanctuary for home was an adjustment for a few, and I hoped the weekend gave them respite that allowed for a new perspective and energy.

I Had a Birthday…that lasted a few days.

I had an unexpected wonderful birthday. The forecast was for rain (lots of it), it was a Monday, and I was working. At least I didn’t have a dental appointment. And it was the day after the Thrive weekend. God’s Spirit was plentiful but I was low on steam. And while I don’t detest my birthday, as I age I’m not a fan of it either. It’s not so much that I mind adding rings to my tree, but I fret about running out of time. Time to do so many things that I haven’t done. Things to do with ministry, writing, vacations with my kids, or finishing my daughter’s high school graduation gift: a photo journal of her life.

So, I wasn’t giving my birthday a lot of thought, yet there was a bit of a skip in my step when I left for work. I figured that the day would be mostly uneventful. Both of my kids were away at school, so I knew they wouldn’t be celebrating with me. I’d made plans with a friend to have dinner that night, and I’d hoped my heart would be content with that. But almost immediately surprises of birthday wishes, cards, and small gifts greeted me when I arrived to work. First of all, Bradley called and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then I was met with one of our family home made boxed chocolate cakes with canned frosting that we’ve been eating for our birthdays since the kids’ first birthdays. Bridgette had made it and brought it in the Friday before.

Tradition: Boxed chocolate cake with canned frosting.

A friend surprised me with another birthday cake, and throughout the day I received enough food to meet our staff calorie requirements for a couple of days. When I got home that night there was more love left for me at the door step and another friend came over briefly. It was wonderful and exhausting, and not once did I consider my age, what was missing in my life, or the possibility that I’m running out of time to accomplish some goals.

So in the end, thank you to my friends; fifty eight is great.

 

Such a Good Man

Last week-end I attended the memorial service of a good man. He was the dad of a dear friend, who is also a good woman. But this post isn’t about her. Yet her good dad produced many good things, and she (and her sister) are two of those good things.

Being good sounds like it might be easy because being great seems like a higher achievement. Like being good is where you are while you inch your way up (or catapult for some) to being great. But it’s not easy to be good, because the person who is good usually doesn’t set out to be good, and that’s what’s great. They make sacrifices, they take the higher road, and they humble themselves even when they’re right. Those basic acts prove to be the most difficult for most of us; they distinguish one person from the next. A person who sets out to be great emphasizes his own needs over others, which often gets in the way of being good, and that’s not so great.

Jerry wasn’t on a mission or inching himself up to achieve greatness. He went to work every day where his customers could count on his shoot it straight fashion advice. Like clockwork, his girls looked out their bay window as their eyes searched the road, anticipating his car driving toward home. On Halloweens he made costumes that surpassed his young girls’ expectations and trick or treaters returned each October to Cherryhill Drive for the man who made them giggle. He made biscuits and took them to the neighbors, and he created patterns in his lawn when he mowed, not to be great, but because he gave everything his best effort.

What else rounds off a good man? A sense of humor. He passed that on to his daughters, but my dear friend in particular can make anyone laugh, including at her daddy’s memorial service. Contrary to what most people know, Hollywood didn’t invent the red nose day, my friend did. However, no “day” is needed for her to don her red nose anywhere and anytime she’s inspired. I half expected it at the service.

Jerry was such a good man. There’s nothing greater than that.

Painting my House

Not quite there.

Have you done this? Have you searched the paint stores, the Internet, Pinterest, the home décor magazines for the right paint colors and combinations for your exterior house color? Have you driven slowly past homes taking pictures, probably mistaken for a private eye, or worse, a potential burglar? Have you painted samples on your house, thinking you’ve got the right color, then painted it on another portion of your house to discover you like it in one light, but not another? Then to decide you really do like it after all, or maybe, you still don’t? Then, which colors will best camouflage the dents in the gutters: light or dark?

This project has kept me up and kept me from doing things like, well, writing. It’s expensive and I’ll have to live with it for a very long time. Choosing a wedding dress is easier than this! Last week my painter informed me that there was a window of dry weather forecasted so we’d need to pick the colors so he could get the paint. After I aborted my weekend plans (kind of), and multiple trips to the paint store, I set to trying samples on the house that might have passed for a patchwork SOS from high up into sky. I was finally able to find peace with a decision. I was so grateful for the input of a friend who I trust with these kinds of things.

On Thursday the base color got painted and some of the trim. I like the color, but I still have some decisions to make. I’ve decided the trim is like the accessories of an outfit; it can make or break the curb appeal of my house with one wrong stroke. I came home from work and started working on the garage paint decisions, trying every combination. I don’t want an obnoxiously loud contrast, but I’d like a bold contrast. Oh my goodness, how can this be so difficult?!

I was hoping to post a solid before and after picture, but this thing is still in the works so you just get a before and middle picture. An “after” is a little ways out because our record breaking sun has turned to April showers.

The good news about this? My contractor isn’t leaving me quite yet, which makes me happy. My crush (have I mentioned this?) hasn’t waned .

I’ll keep you posted (on the painting).

CRAP! I do wish this synonym had been a sufficient expression of my reaction. I don’t even say “friggin!” But CRAP is not the word I hollered. In a flash, I realized I was holding the leash and collar of the dog I was walking for pay, but there was no dog attached. My mind clamored and I spun around to see the other side of the street, then back, and then down the sidewalk, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Crap! Cupid! Crap! Cupid!” “Stop Dog, Stop,! referencing the Pitbull that was in hot pursuit of what suddenly feels like my own dog. Running, I hear someone from behind, “Muzzy! No! Muzzy! I look back and cry, “I’m sorry! I don’t even swear!” And then, “I have to get her. She’s not mine. I’m a dog walker!”

How my brain can cram 1,000 images at once in mere seconds is beyond me. But is that dog’s name really Muzzy? Like, a muzzle? Like, he’s going to kill Cupid with his muzzle? Is the owner of Cupid going to kill me? But no, I recall meeting the owner and it occurs to me that she may thank me, and I cringe.  I knew that collar was too big! Then, will I get paid? We haven’t completed our 60 minute walk! “Cupid! Come here Cupid!” Didn’t swear. Whew, it’s out of my system. A bystander, and then another: “I saw her go right.” Out of breath I sputter, “Did she cross the street?” It’s rush hour, and I’m petrified. The bystanders assure me Cupid’s still on this side of the street. Whew, it makes sense. She’d sniffed her way down to Muzzy’s territory, and at lightning speed, Cupid’s sniffing her way back to her neighborhood. Good job, Cupid.

I’ve probably had more drama in the last week than my college aged kids. Who would have known that dog walking could be so, well, entertaining? The firm I’m working with, which I’ll call Tail, because I really do want them to succeed, I’ve discovered, is a start up. I realize that you can look back on my blog to see who this company is, but I’m hoping you’ve got a dinner to make or meeting to attend. And if you happen to remember, don’t be too hard on them. I’ve covered that.

I think the dog owners who go through Tail are probably pleased as punch. But for me, it’s been ruff. For example, a job that was supposed to be 10 minutes away was really no less than 45. Another job I scrambled to get to at 7am cancelled on me as I was ready to depart, a previous owner requested me, and after I took the job, it had been taken by someone else. They’ve got some fleas to work out.

After another maddening experience last week, I’d decided there was too much at stake. I was about to lose big time at the Kindness Challenge, and it wasn’t worth the risk, not for me, or for the poor customer service reps who’d been working so hard to defend the deficiencies of Tail. So on Thursday I submitted my formal resignation which is really just a polite way of telling them that until things get worked out within their app, I’d like to be pulled from their list.

In spite of my resignation, it seemed Tail didn’t want me to go, because I continued to get constant notifications for walks. I did my best to ignore them until tonight after work. The appeal of making $20 while taking an hour long walk within one mile of my home tempted me beyond reason.

I should have known there could be problems. There’s a place on the app where the owner can leave notes, and there’s a place where previous walkers should leave notes. In this case, there were no notes from the owner. Not, “Cupid is shy, but if you do X she’ll be fine, or be sure to walk her on your left to be consistent.” No, not a word of advice about poor Cupid. Fortunately I’d read the previous walkers’ notes so I was prepared for a sweet, but skittish dog. And to be fair, the owner cared enough to pay someone to walk her doggy.

The owner was home and it was clear that Pam had other things on her mind besides to whom she was handing off her dog. She put the leash and collar on Cupid and scooched her out the door. “Bye, Pam! We’ll be back in an hour. I’ll take good care of her!” But she didn’t hear me; the door was closed.

Cupid was indeed skittish. But with coaxing and patience we made our way down the road. Cherry blossom trees disguised as parasols scattered throughout the yards and along the sidewalks. Cars inched their way towards home; there was no rushing at 5:30 on this road. The walk wasn’t what I’d had in mind, but the clouds made way for the cool blue sky. Cupid sniffed every blade of grass and I settled into gratitude at making $20 while I helped a dog get some fresh air.

We turned a corner and headed onto a side street. Some were single unit homes and others were duplexes. Bikes, toys, and automobiles that look like they might be someone’s hobby filled the yards and driveways. Kids played at the end where I could see a cul-de-sac. There was a lot to sniff and Cupid was comfortable. We made our way down about a good city block when I noticed a woman standing next to a brown truck in a driveway ahead on our right. A fine looking short haired dog hopped down from the seat of the truck. As is my routine when I anticipate another dog, I crossed the street. It’s just easier that way.

Just as we set foot on the sidewalk, with my back to the other side of the street and the truck, the fine looking dog, who I instantly assessed was a Pitbull, was aggressively sniffing Cupid, at which point, she whipped her head out of her collar that was too big, and like an arrow shot from a bow, was headed for home. I finally caught up with her, filled with relief. She was standing outside her glass door, looking in. After I explained the situation to Pam, she handed me the leash and said, “Oh, OK, you can take her back out.” I didn’t take her back out however. Cupid wasn’t safe with that collar that was too big.

I’ve met some sweet natured Pitbulls. When my kids were very young we almost got a Pitbull puppy named Patty. We’d fallen in love instantly. We decided to leave the humane society do some research. Would she and our beloved Golden Retriever Lucky be a good match? Patty, at 10 weeks old, seemed harmless enough. What I read has stuck with me after almost 20 years: A Pittbull will hardly ever start a fight, but they will always finish it. I’m so glad Cupid was a lover, not a fighter.

Note: the names have been changed (except Patty and Lucky) to protect the innocent and guilty.