Random things I learned this week…

Alarming. Sheetz first thing in the morning.

I sometimes (Okay…often!) go there right before work to get some caffeine by way of Diet Coke. And it never fails that somebody is walking out with a 30 pack of canned beer. At 7:30 am? And NOT good beer. It’s “Genesee Cream Ale”  or something similar. ( i.e. pisswater)  Not that any of my group drank in high school—but if we would have, it would have been something like Genesee…Didn’t know adults drank that stuff. And 30 cans of it? You’d have to be drinking to get drunk. To my way of thinking, a person could get the job done quickly with something better. Shots of vodka? Who could enjoy Genesee?? 30 Cans is a long, slow, painful program….Yuk!

How to flood a kitchen…

Not to make one of my favorite people feel badly. I would NEVER want to do that. But WE learned that putting Dawn in dishwasher, when one cannot find the liquid dishwashing  detergent is a very, very bad idea. At first glance it might appear to be just  bubbles,  pouring out of the dishwasher. “Bubbly WATER” is what it really is. Not sure of the chemical ‘thing’ that makes this happen. The reason WE learned, is because I SHARED in learning the lesson. How? The cleanup of course!! Luckily all it takes is running vinegar through a couple of cycles to kill the bubbles. That fixed  things right up. Also, lucky…we were all standing there watching disaster strike, so no real damage was done. Used a heap of clean towels to mop it up. And the upside? My kitchen floor is cleaner than it has been in months!

I have natural ebullience…

Did I spell that right? Anyways, it went something like this:

Friend: You have this natural ebullience about you.

Me: Huh??

Friend: You know…positive energy. You are so happy that you radiate it and people are drawn to you because of it.

Me: Oh. Okay.

Ebullience (Mirriam Webster Definition): The quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings. Zestful enthusiasm.

I’ve been called worse. (But only by one or two people…) And it is nice to think people might enjoy my presence. Instead of tolerating me like a bitter pill.

When looking for a new vehicle, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find the ones I actually want!!!

Sadly, I have been looking to replace my Trusty Honda. Though it has been a wonderful car, it is time for me to move on. To something with a little more room. I cannot face another Road Trip to Virginia, or Hilton Head crammed into a rather small car. (with 217,000 miles on it)  I have been looking. And looking. And nothing. This will be a used vehicle…minivan, small SUV or something. Don’t much care WHAT it is, as long as it has a little more room, airbags, solid construction, good safety ratings and is in good repair. A pretty color wouldn’t hurt, but I’m not all that picky. This vehicle will carry dogs, smelly boys after football practice, groups of girls and their muddy soccer cleats, etc. It will also transport sand, dirt and snow. But ANYTHING I am looking for is NOWHERE to be found. But there are tons and tons of cars, vans and SUV’s that I DON’T want!

So those are a few small tidbits from this week…

Hope everybody has a wonderful weekend. And I hope I find something to wear, because I am writing this instead of getting ready. I am supposed to walk out my door in less than 30 minutes….

My New Job (I have one now!)

Just got a new job.  And it could be my dream job…

I grew up in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland Ohio. A modest city, but we were too busy playing outside to notice our lack of worldly goods.

We played Red Rover—and nobody cried, either.

And Kick the Can. (Which had several names and variations…) In the winter, we went outside just like when it was 80 degrees and sunny. No such thing as too cold or bad weather.

We didn’t have property, we had a yards.

Nor did we have landscaping. Just some greenery around the yard that we called bushes, or shrubs. Simple, generic terms. And the trees? Out there to be climbed.

As for mulch, my first experience shoveling it was as a first time homeowner (and adult) in a Mentor subdivision. After we put in some new beds

Not beds that you sleep in. Beds as in landscaping.

The only ‘beds’ we had in Euclid, were in our bedrooms. And about the only time we were inside was to sleep in them.

The lots (or yards…) on our street were about 50 feet wide, with just enough room to run a driveway between houses. And I’m not kidding. Our ‘yard’ was .19 acre.

Which is why we needed to play in ALL the yards. Thankfully, nobody minded…

So I grew up in the city. And now I live in Perry, Ohio. Which isn’t really country, as it is fairly close to several cities. But it is bordering on rural.

My new job?

McGroarty Enterprises.

What do they do there? For starters, there is a nursery.

As in plants, not babies. They also teach others throughout the United States–even as far as Australia–how to grow plants. There is an office in the small house that sits on the nursery property. That is where I’ll be working.

Probably a good place for me.  Really, what do I know about plants?

Not much.

When we moved to Perry, we built a new center hall colonial. I had no idea at the time, but they leveled the old nursery to make way for our subdivision to roll through.

What I did learn while living on that property?

How to STEAL old nursery stock.

Just beyond our property, there were a few pockets of mangled up plants all mixed in with briar and weeds. Nothing had been pruned in years. Finding these plants and trees in the brush wasn’t easy. The couple of times I went back there, I was a bloody, muddy, scraped up mess afterwards.

Me: C’mon Daughter, we’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: Huh?

Me: Like grab that shovel over there and I’ll get the wheelbarrow…

Darling Daughter: Why?

Me:  I told you. We’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: For what?

Me: I need a tree. You can help me find one.

And so we did. We dragged home a large stick, the size of a broomstick. Maybe 5 feet long, the top was thinner than a pencil. And we quickly planted it.

Took my then husband several days to notice my ‘stick tree’ in the new bed, bordering our deck. He was probably too focused on the 20’ x 40’ deck we just finished building, or the pool.

When he found out what we had done, he had a fit! Then kept telling me it was going to die. Of course, this is the man who gifted me several flats of ‘full sun’ flowers—then instructed me to plant them in the shade. They were dead within the month. All of them.

Anyways, I think I am safe to relay this story now. It has been about 7 years and I only ever dug up that one tree. What would I be charged with?

Grand Theft ‘stick tree.’

I stopped today to take a photo of that tree—the leaves aren’t on it yet. But the trunk is at least 10” in diameter and the tree must be 30 feet tall. It is enormous. It was pretty when we moved, but it is quite a gorgeous tree now.

My daughter and I chose that particular tree because the stick/trunk was white(ish) in color. Instead of yucky dark brown.  We thought the white was much prettier.

We had no idea what the tree was. Turns out, it was actually a really nice tree.

And like I told my then husband, we needn’t feel bad. (or criminal) I SAVED a tree that was destined to  become a basement…

There were already plans to extend the subdivision; the new roads were even in by then.

So, how am I qualified to work in a nursery?

Given the above example, I obviously have a green thumb.

I love the outdoors. Love plants.  Have always kept my landscaping weeded, mulched, trimmed, pruned and looking pretty in all the houses I have lived in as an adult. In fact, I find weeding relaxing.

So, I’m interested in plants. Which is a start.

And my job is primarily in the office. Answering customer emails, editing photos for the websites, researching and writing articles on plants and keeping an eye on the message boards and such.

Likely, it won’t be long before I’m out there crawling around in the dirt taking photos of the new Japanese maples that are getting planted soon.

Back in Euclid, we often made Mud Pies in the summer.  Meaning we SAT and played in the mud.  When we got in the bathtub at night, the water was brown. When my own children were little, I always thought it was a good day when my kids’ bathwater was brown. Dirty kids = great fun, right?

Maybe the same can be said for adults?

Given the chance, I’ll be in the dirt learning to plant and tag the new stock…

The more I learn, the better off I’ll be with the office side of the operation anyway.

This job might be many people’s personal hell. But I’m thinking it might be quite the opposite for me. Right up my alley…

I get to write AND I get to go outside.

Does it get any better?

Walking on Broken Glass (And Into Walls…)

It has been almost two weeks since I walked into a metal shelf. The facial swelling is gone…

I walked into the garage to turn a light off, so that I wouldn’t accidentally leave it on. Just one more thing, before I sat down. Never mind that I had been ‘just one more thing-ing’ hours, I marched into the garage.

And banged my forehead into a shelf with such momentum, that I sort of bounced backwards.

Couldn’t help it, I cursed. Then laughed. Then mopped up the blood, grabbed an ice pack from the fridge and tossed myself on the couch. There was no choice.

I got a little nervous when my laceration still pained me a few days later and the swelling worsened, instead of getting better. (I ended up having my doctor take a look at it.)

For nearly a week, the bridge of my nose, eyelids, eyebrow area and forehead were so swollen when I woke, that my eyes appeared smaller—the swelling actually obscured my vision. Kids couldn’t keep a straight face when they looked at me.

At least it was easy to keep my head ‘elevated’ since it sits on my shoulders.

And now I am down to a small bump on my forehead that I can cover with my bangs.

Even with the mess on my face, the Little Black Dog and I took our usual walks on the beach. Didn’t matter that my head throbbed, especially on the cold, windy days. Being outside clears my brain and restores my energy. I cannot cope without daily ‘outside time.’

While I walk the beach, I gather beach glass, rocks and driftwood. And I use these things to decorate my home and landscape.

Something significant happened just recently.

I found a yellow rock, which was ironic because I stopped looking for yellow rocks last summer.

For months last spring, the kids and I collected yellow rocks at the beach. And we NEVER found a truly yellow rock. And we searched daily. But we did find quite a few that were nearly yellow.

Why the yellow rocks?

Because yellow is the Clever College Girl’s favorite color. Clothing. Shoes. Magic Markers. Notebooks. Prom dress. Socks. The last time she was home, she brought a package of yellow Peeps over when she visited. (This might be the ONLY form of sugar that I can’t tolerate…)

Anyways, we partially filled a glass jar with yellow(ish) rocks and gifted them to the Clever College Girl. That way she had a bit of ‘home’ in her dorm room. (She loves the beach, too) And she can add to her jar while at college, if she chooses to. Kind of a sentimental thing, I suppose. But her jar of treasures looks pretty in her dorm room.

I will admit that this particular yellow rock is more like a chunk of beach-tossed ceramic or tile. But it STILL counts as a rock. Because it is the color of Big Bird.

As I held it in my hand, I was struck by something that I KNOW. But that I sometimes forget.

The best things in life are often just THERE.

We look and look—only to come up empty. And then out of the blue, that which we were looking for just shows up. Usually when we STOP looking! And it is such a thrill and a gift.

I was reminded that no amount of stressing, controlling, manipulating, fighting, negotiating, talking, or pushing changes some things in life.

All we can do is work hard. Try our best. Then at some point, let go. And see what happens…

I wouldn’t say I am controlling. But I think we all have a tendency to think we have more control than we actually have over many things in life. There are times when I just suck at the letting go thing.

And I have an awful tendency to push myself too hard. In my younger years, I didn’t realize I was doing this. So to some extent, I have gained a little (just a tiny bit) of wisdom. And I try to take a break BEFORE I hit the wall.

Just before I literally walked into a shelf attached to the garage ‘wall,’ I knew I was nearing my physical/emotional limits.

Did I rest? Of course not.

I went into the garage to turn off a light. Then smashed my head so badly that I HAD to sit myself down.

Was it vital that the light was on? Probably not. Was anything I had spent the previous few hours doing vital? I doubt it.

Used to be that I didn’t see it coming. That I didn’t know HOW to give myself a break. Or to stop pushing. That I didn’t make it a priority to give myself time for the little things that bring me happiness.

These days, I usually stop before I injure myself.

And I make time for walks on the beach and other activities that I enjoy. There is something about being out in nature that I find calming. And I’ve learned that when my mind and body are completely relaxed and at peace, I am at my most creative. I always end up with a new idea, or solve a problem that has weighed on me. Or I get a lesson or two…

The yellow rock will soon be mailed to my favorite Clever College Girl, because it will look pretty in her glass jar. And it will make her smile.

The lessons? I don’t always need to push myself so hard. Many times, pushing hard doesn’t do any good, or makes matters worse. Things usually fall into place when the time is right—often, when we are least expecting it.

I won’t need the actual yellow rock as a reminder of these lessons.  I’m fairly certain that the small welt on my cranium is there for good.

Thankfully, I am a ‘bangs’ girl…

What’s Been Keeping Me Busy Lately?

I have been working on my list of projects…

It never makes sense to throw paint around or buy new furniture in the months before Christmas, or over the New Year’s holiday. Too much going on with the festivities.

But I always get my house in order at this time of year, before the warm weather arrives. We only have a few months of it and I try to enjoy them.

So I painted my son’s room. Not because it needed painted. Just to do a little something different. My kids are used to me changing things up. We keep the basics…the pictures, books, family photos and such. But often freshen up the paint color and accessories. For no good reason, really. It’s just fun for the kids…

Here’s the before (Right) Old furniture painted white and dark, barn red walls…A perfectly good room. But it has looked the same for nearly 3 years. An eternity for my children.

And so I found a new bed frame at an auction for $8. And was given a mid-century, solid wood, Johnson Carper dresser by a friend. Then I hung a retro mirror that I bought at an auction for $2. Same room. Same accessories. $10, plus a can of paint. (I have a paint store at my house–mostly all given to me by others…)

The result:

Then there’s our dining room that is (again) getting a facelift.

Because I sold our dining room set. Then bought a new set. Painted it spicy red on a whim, during that awful snowstorm several weeks back. Then sold it two weeks ago.

I change the rooms in my houses  like other people change their socks and underwear.

Me: Where are you taking that blanket?

Darling Daughter: It’s mine

Me: I’m finishing up dinner. Why are you washing grapes?

Darling Daughter: I want grapes at my picnic.

Me: I HATE grapes.

Darling Daughter: I love grapes.

Me: Wait…WHAT picnic?

I guess that’s what happens when there is NO dining room table. We picnic.

Guess who else likes grapes?

The Red Dog, of course. He ate the grapes Darling Daughter tossed at him. AND the ones The Little Black Dog spit out on the ground…

Then the garage and basement storage rooms got cleaned out. Several small tables changed color. As did a few chairs. I painted a dresser, or two. Refinished another. The usual.

I also made a really pretty chalkboard that was donated to a nearby community’s PTA auction. I had a large mid-century frame. Gave it a fresh coat of paint, roughed it up a little to let the yellow show through. Then sealed it with a spray acrylic. I attached birch plywood that I painted with chalkboard paint. Loved it so much I didn’t want to give it away. It looked lovely after I wrapped a big ribbon around it and put a cute little Green Door tag on it.

But I had to give it away because I committed to the donation…

I did use some of my leftover materials to make a couple of smaller chalkboards for our house. They are okay, but I’m sill looking for a large vintage frame like the one pictured above, so that I can create something like the one that is now hanging in somebody elses house.

Luckily, it won’t take me long to move on.

There is a dining room table somewhere out there looking for me. My budget for the dining room? There isn’t one. Lately I’ve thought of the ways I could make a table out of a century home door that has been in my garage since last summer…

I have a white picket fence to finish. Children to raise. A blog to write. Bills to pay. Dogs that need walked. An eBay store in the middle of an overhaul. A house to clean. I’m searching for a bedroom set for one friend, a dining room set and other odds and ends for another friend–and trying to figure out how to market and sell some items for several others.

AND…I’m still looking for a job.

On the bright side?

When I find this elusive job, my house will be so fantastically Perfect and organized that I may not need to do much besides mop floors and vacuum for years.

Which is good, because I will probably have little time for more than that.

And I certainly won’t mind that at all!!

Parents Reaching Hand ~ There’s a new Group in Town…

Last week, I went outside of my normal, lighthearted blogging topics and wrote about the recent events at Chardon High School. And many people read it, called me, emailed me, etc.

At the end I alluded to something being in the works. And I wanted to update readers who might be interested in participating.

After this post, I will head back to my more typical blogging.

But today, I’m letting you know that there is a new ‘Group’ in town.

Just some local ladies who love our children, our friends and our community. Who are brokenhearted for Chardon…

In an effort to do something, Parents Reaching Hand has been formed.

The initials PRH were used because they stand for Parmertor, Russell and Hewling.

The idea is that we–as parents, school and a community–find ways to help the school keep our children safe. We plan to gain a better understanding of school procedure/guidelines.

Because if we know what our schools are doing/can do, then we can fill in to help and support them. Possibly by hosting community events, finding guest speakers to address our students, having former graduates talk with students and more. Many ideas have been tossed around.

As a community, the best way to protect our children is NOT to insulate them in a “Perry Bubble.” We need to work together on this. And with other communities. To communicate with each other. We all inhabit this ‘place’ together, no matter what city we live in.

It isn’t just about MY kid—it’s about ALL of the kids.

Even when our children graduate, there is another crop of children going through school. And even if we move OUT of Perry, we will be moving INTO another community. There is no running away…Most communities are built around school systems.

To keep everything organized and to establish open communication in what we are trying to accomplish, there is now a Perry Reaching Hands Facebook Page. The idea is to reach out and help students collectively with our school system. Please take a look. And bear with us as we get things going…This is just the start.

Most important? This is a FRIENDLY mission to help our children, teachers, schools and community. We will be working with our school system. We will NOT be bashing or criticizing anybody. This is a positive forum, for those who wish to be part of finding solutions.

I am proud to be a part of this effort. To see what can be done if we put our heads (and hearts) together.

Later this week, I return to my regular posts…I promise!!

In the meantime, please take a look at Parent Reaching Hands on Facebook…