Thursday, September 10, 2020

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow

 For days this quote has been going through my head, and I'm not sure why. I am not taking dance lessons or planning war strategies, or even watching old movies. Maybe it's telling me that I should be doing something of the sort. The most likely would probably be watching old movies. I found 32 places using the quote. And there were many versions on You Tube. Now it's probably going through your head too. 

I always thought this was all about the foxtrot, but it turns out that "slow, slow, quick, quick, is actually well known as an ancient Mongol war plan, courtesy of Ghengis Khan. It stands for Prepare (slow), Deceive (slow), Distract (quick), and Surprise (quick). If that doesn't tell us something about 2020, then nothing I can think of does! I don't know if I am ready for any more surprises!

I guess this is how life seems to be going for many of us lately. Long, lazy days when I feel that I haven't accomplished anything, mixed with super busy times when everything seems to be going by too quickly. I don't remember a year when so many people were confused enough to have to ask what day it is. Now I seem to hear it from someone every time I go out. So many of us are working at home or not working at all anymore. Calendars that don't get used and appointments that are forgotten are normal. I am glad to not have children at home. I could never remember all the different forms of in-school, home-school, online school, no school options that everyone has now. 

So many of us have changed our plans and have put a lot of things on hold. The biggest difference for us was that there wasn't an Iowa State Fair in August. John's family have owned Lemonade and Foot Long hot dog stands at the fair since his grandmother started them in 1948, over 70 years ago. This was the year I would have been an official part of this family tradition. Hopefully, I'll get my Lemonade t-shirt next year.

Months ago I thought I would probably be going to England in September. Of course, that will not be happening this year. I can't go anywhere until I get my name changed on my passport. Just one more thing I keep forgetting to add to my mostly empty calendar.
My favorite happening this year was getting my cozy little cottage. I truly love "Second Story Cottage" and our own second story.
On a dare, I'll take this dance
Slow, slow, quick, quick, 
Magic and Wit
Now we glide across the floor
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
I wanted more.
Slow, slow, quick, quick
We were lucky to meet.
Now I feel complete
(words from one of the You Tube variations)


Friday, August 07, 2020

Second Story Cottage

 It's official! I have a name and a sign. Special thanks to my lifelong friend, Donna, for painting my sign. You may have noticed that this building is a one story structure. But for us, this is our second story, so it seems very appropriate. Last October, while on our honeymoon, we stumbled upon one of my favorite bookstores. It is in Laramie, Wyoming, and is called "The Second Story", because it is located upstairs in an historic building.  I wrote about it before, when I first fell in love with it. What could be more fascinating than an old bordello converted to a book shop. Shenanigans and Stories, how perfect is that? We went back in December and visited again. This was when we had to retrieve the car which had been in Wyoming since the transmission failed. Really, it was a total bit of serendipity that made this name happen. Sort of like our whole relationship.

The Cottage has been evolving, and I am sure it will change a lot after I use it more. I still have several more pictures to hang on the walls. I have already changed out some of the furniture. I am trying not to have it be too crowded, but I'm not sure if that is possible.

At first I had a nice old 1940's style desk in this spot. I liked it so much that I wanted to put it in the front room of the house as my computer desk. It looks great in the house, and I use it every day. On our trip to Clear Lake for my birthday, we found this perfect drop leaf table. It's very narrow, but when a leaf is up, there is lots of space for crafting and writing.

I have a very fitting pillow for the chair. I also have a cute little dragonfly door knocker, and a pineapple Welcome flag outside. All gifts with special meanings. 

I have done a little sewing. I can keep an amazing amount of supplies hidden behind the curtains in the storage area. I am trying to use the cottage for writing, machine sewing and paper journaling projects. I want to keep hand sewing in the house. I do like to stitch while I binge watch tv.

And here's a little reminder from Jane Austen.  "Completely and Perfectly and Incandescently Happy" A few years ago I was sure that I would never be happy again. And look at me now. I am living my second story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Yesterday and Tomorrow

Mostly Empty Shelves Wherever I Shop

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I thought that if we all just stayed home for two or three weeks, then the world would go back to normal. Well, that didn't happen, did it? The world nearly stopped for several weeks, and many did stay home. Those were the rules, but not everyone is a rule follower. Our lives didn't change that much at first, because we don't go out a lot. I never dreamed that I would have to wait so long to see our children and grands. Since I didn't feel comfortable working at the funeral home, I decided to take time off, by choice. Because of that, I'm not eligible for unemployment. Luckily, that is part time, and not a necessary income.  And I practically stopped shopping. We ordered groceries online a few times, but decided that shopping for ourselves was better than having others shopping for us. I will probably never use all of the gallon of Crisco oil that was sent as a substitution. If I order online again, I will be sure to check the "Do Not Substitute" box! I ended up with some things I never ordered. We have been to Menard's a few times. I am pretty comfortable there because masks are required. Yesterday I finally went to the fabric store and Barnes and Noble. It was very disappointing. I should have waited a little longer. Everything has been rearranged and many shelves are half empty. I think a lot of magazines have suspended publication for a while. I used to like to wander around and browse and look at things and ponder life when I shopped. Now it has become a lesson in efficiency to finish quickly.
I see more anger all around. I am just about to give up on Facebook groups, since most of the ones I'm in are erupting daily in squabbles and nastiness. Administrators keep reminding members of the rules, and eliminating posts. Some have even closed down. Coincidence? I don't think so.
And now,  nearly all summer activities have been suspended, or postponed, or cancelled completely.  Since the Iowa State Fair has recently been cancelled, we will not have the three Brafford lemonade and hot dog stands in August this year. That will make a big difference to us and to the employees! It is both a relief and a disappointment. 
Some of our children have been able to work at home, so that has been fortunate. We have several in various aspects of the restaurant business, so that has not.  Two of my children have been exposed to Covid 19 at work and had to be tested. My daughter-in-law works in a hospital in contact with infected patients, and looks like she is dressed for battle everyday at her job.
And in the midst of all this, I don't mean to ignore the tension and riots that are happening every day in our city, and country, and world. I remember the marches and the powerful speeches from the 1960's. I thought the world would have changed for the better by now. 
Every morning for months I have listened to the news and waited for the numbers. I deeply believe this virus is a serious happening and that it is everyone's responsibility to treat it as such. As time goes on, I think that many have decided they are done with it and no longer believe in taking it seriously. We are moving on, and reopening places that will need to be closed again. This isn't over just because we want it to be.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

No Name Cottage

My little workshop/getaway/sewing room/writer's studio/ creative place to dream and play/magical cottage is almost all put together now. There are only a few things left to do. Pictures still need to be hung. And there are a couple of shelves that I want to fill.
Here is the outside now. Geraniums are growing in the window boxes and herbs are in the wagon. We will paint the front door black to match the rest of the buildings. More landscaping will happen eventually. And as soon as I can commit to a name I will have a cottage sign above the door. John wants to name it "No More Cloudy Days" Cottage, but I think the name should be shorter. But that name means a lot to both of us, and was our wedding song. (Sung by the Eagles) When we first started seeing each other, we had both lived through a lot of storms and were happy to have sunshine in our lives. I am thinking Sunshine Cottage, or Sunrise, Sunlit or Sunlight. I'm just worried it sounds too much like a motel or nursing home! Unofficially, I think it will just be the cottage. But I want a sign!
       Step inside and you will see everything at once because I have an open concept just like the decorating shows. Actually, it's because it measures 8 feet by 14 feet. Just inside the door is a small wooden chest with several drawers. One of the first things you will notice is all the fabric! I love this print, and don't think I could ever have too much of it. I hadn't planned to have the curtained alcoves, but they are perfect for storage. They hide and disguise several totes of fabric and craft supplies. (I have written before about my fascination with tension curtain rods. So many uses!)  The cupboard is an old computer desk and holds my sewing machine. Don't look too closely at the curtains. At this point they are only basted. I am still decorating with the stacked to the ceiling look.

Next is a comfy little chair located by the bookcases. Right now I spend a lot of time sitting here and admiring the room. There are a couple of antique suitcases next to the chair.

Here are some close up pictures of some of the treasures I am putting back on the shelves. I'm not done yet as I am still unpacking boxes that have spent a long time in storage. I can see an empty shelf, and I know that never happens. I will be moving things around for a while, but at least now I finally know what I want to keep and what isn't necessary anymore.

The desk was the only thing I didn't have previously. I found it a few days ago at an antique mall. It was just the right size, though not my usual style. I am drawn to the battered and chippy. This is much more elegant, but it works in my little cottage. I think it will be the perfect place for writing. I feel organized again. Well, maybe not organized, but on the way. In a few weeks, I am going to set up a booth at that mall, and finally work on letting go of extra things that I have been holding onto and keeping in storage for too long.  I am finally feeling more settled and it is a good feeling.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Walls and A Roof
Several months before John and I even thought about getting married, we were watching tv one night, and a well-known commercial came on. It was for insurance, and depicted the burning of Sheryl's She Shed. John had never heard of such a concept, but thought it was a good idea. I am referring to the building, not the burning.   And that was the beginning of my She Shed. We've talked about it a lot since then, always as something that would happen someday. And that day has arrived.
This has been a busy week. They started on my building on Monday morning, and today (Friday) the workmen finished. Of course, it's not a house, but I was surprised how quickly it has been coming together. There is a lot left to do. The wiring and drywall is installed, but all the finish work is ours to do.
 It is close to the house, nestled in by the patio and deck, and near the garage, and tool shed. It will be white, trimmed in black. That is the same color scheme that is on the rest of the buildings here. I had planned on shutters, but forgot to tell them that. However, I will have window boxes. And a sign. And a wreath on the door. I am looking forward to a place to decorate. I love our old farmhouse, but it has been lived in for a long time by many other people. It will take awhile before it truly reflects my taste.
Starting to Paint.
There is another window on the side wall, which is larger. I wanted a lot of wall space, because I have a lot to hang on the walls. I know I will probably fill most of the area! I am hoping for a look that is not overly crowded, but that may not happen!  I still have so many treasures that have survived several moves and lifestyle changes in the past years.  I am in the process of doing a final clearout of a storage unit that I have held onto for too many years. I am going through boxes and a house that is also filled with too many things, and trying to keep only what I really want.
Many years ago, in my old life as a young wife, I owned a small home business called HerbPatch, making and selling "herbal gifts and pleasantries". For quite a while, my work area was in our busy (family of seven) laundry room. We had an old milk house on our property, and my late husband renovated it for me. I always suspected that he was tired of picking bits of lavender out of his clothes! I spent many of my favorite hours there. It was much more rustic than this new building, but, it too, was a special place, Two of the walls had floor to ceiling shelves, filled with gallon sized glass jars of dried flowers and herbs. A large wooden table filled most of the room.  At the time, with five young children, I called it My Place of Serenity. I have thought of Serenity Cottage as a name for my new building, but now my life is serene almost all of the time. I'm not sure if I need to be reminded to be serene. I want to call it a cottage instead of a she shed because I have loved seeing so many beautifully named cottages during my visits to England. Nearly all the houses in my favorite little villages have names and signs on or beside their doors.  I am thinking of something quaint but not overly cutesy. I would enjoy hearing any suggestions.
I no longer make flower arrangements and potpourri to sell, but I will be doing lots more  papercrafting, sewing, and reading, and writing. I am starting to feel more creative, just knowing I have a room of my own.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

And More of the Same

A Short Walk Around the Neighborhood
We are still staying home, as is just about everyone these days. In a few days we will celebrate our first half year of marriage. (April 12). During this time I think we have spent more time together than most couples! Our first two months involved a lot of time in cars, and car dealerships, since ours decided not to behave on our honeymoon. We managed to have adventures anyway, although it was a bit of a stressful time. I spent a lot of moments determined to be cheerful, and I think I managed very well under the circumstances. John is very easy to get along with, but he is a man who loves routine. Sometimes I think my main routine is a lack of routine!
He Drives. I Stitch and Talk.
We are "a bit older" than most newlyweds, so we have more than seventy years of memories, recollections, and reminiscing to catch up on. We talk a lot. And as long as I stay away from the tv remote and politics, we get along very well. Just tonight we discovered that both of our fathers liked to eat fried corn meal mush. I don't think most people even remember that. I'm not sure if grocery stores even carry it anymore. Of course, it has been weeks since I have been in a grocery store. Or any store. We have been taking this stay at home thing very seriously.  We do take walks. John works outside when the weather is nice enough.  I have been putting things away, as so many of my possessions have been in storage for several years. Sometimes it feels like Christmas when I open boxes and rediscover items I had almost forgotten. And then I need to decide what to do with them in my new home. And to make things blend when so many different tastes are involved.
I also watch a lot English cozy murder mysteries. We just subscribed to one of the British channels, and I will happily confess to binge watching. I feel a little guilty not multi tasking, so I have been keeping busy with hand sewing. In January I purchased a block of the month kit, and for the first time ever I am caught up. I have been waiting for over a week for April's wool and it finally arrived today. They do look a little wonky here, so don't examine them closely. I think it will all go together well when it's done. I've never stitched a big project like this one before. And now I can watch charming  English mayhem without guilt.

 That is what we've been doing here. There is lots I didn't mention, such as the worry and the prayers. Our lives haven't changed much, but I know this is making major differences for many others. We miss seeing our children and grandchildren. It is difficult knowing that we can't be there to make this
staying at home easier for others. Stay safe everyone. And may this soon be over, and may we all remember and enjoy the things that make life precious.