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Our first post-move guests

11 Jul

Every other year I host a group of girlfriends for a night or few during the summer. Of course, this year, the year we moved, was that year.

In our former house, we could sleep ten guests. In this house, we will have two guest bedrooms…eventually. Currently one is set up as a bedroom, the other is filled with yet to be unpacked boxes. We left some of our furniture in the other house for staging purposes.

As it turned out we had no more than three overnight guests on any one night…not necessarily the same three, but three max, so we were good to go with the current bedroom, a comfy sofa, and a new deluxe air mattress.

Some of us have known each other twenty plus years so sharing a bed isn’t a problem. We’ve shared worse. A couple of the ladies stayed in a hotel. I think they had visions of sleeping on the floor which, fyi, would not have happened. We always could have used the two bedrooms we have staged at the other house, though it would have been difficult to have a house party when the locations are thirty minutes apart.

There was a time in my life when I would have been stressed because all the boxes weren’t unpacked, pictures hung, drapes up, etc. (We’ve hung NO pictures or drapes, by the way. Thankfully blinds came with the house.) At least all of the boxes were in one room so my friends didn’t have to dodge or sit on them.

This year, throughout the week, there were seven of us. Some years we’ve had more; few years have we had less. It’s not always the same group though there are four or five who are always here.

The seven of us this year spanned four decades in age and went to six different universities. We live in Tennessee, Mississippi (2), North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, and Canada. One might wonder how we even know each other, much less became such good friends. What’s special about this particular group of friends?

We’re sorority sisters. We know each other because we’ve all been volunteers for our college sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, since our graduation. A couple of us were actually on staff for a few years but that’s a different post. Our paths crossed because we worked together somewhere in the volunteer structure.

One example started with a collegiate chapter president, her chapter adviser (who had graduated from a different university) and their regional director (who graduated from a third school.) I was the regional director. The chapter had some challenges so the three of us talked…a lot. After the chapter president graduated, she maintained her relationship with her former adviser and with me. That was over twenty years ago.

None of us can remember when we actually started this every other summer gathering, but we have pictures going back at least ten years for the group, and I found a water bottle for a 2001 event.

The sorority holds a leadership conference in Nashville every other year, so we do it in conjunction with it. “The girls” are going to be here anyway, might as well  tack a day or two on before or after for some intense sisterhood time.

Some of the things we’ve done in the past include spa days (at least twice), a salt cave, touristy things like the Nash Trash Tour, a tea party…and we’ve shopped, antiqued, and rescued stranded Canadians from the airport when their flights were grounded. We did have people sleeping on the floor that year!

Our tradition always includes a “happy” of some sort. One year it was a bejeweled crown and sunglasses. This year it was a framed photo from last year and a memory book from the last ten years. These are friends of a lifetime and for a lifetime. I’m happy they are some of mine.

This year:

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Prior Years:

 

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I love my friends. Keep smiling…

~ Kay

 
 

CELEBRATE

04 Jul

OUR FREEDOM

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

 

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MIDDLE SON AND GRANDSON

“Daddy returns from deployment”

~ KAY

 
 

Movers — Not my new best friends

23 Jun

We were fortunate we didn’t have to sell our old house before we purchased our new house. We could move first, then stage the old house before we put it on the market…at least that was the plan.

That meant we were leaving some of our furniture in the old house for staging. We planned to stage the basement as a mother-in-law or nanny’s suite and the main floor. The upper floor, with two bedrooms and bonus room would be left empty.

We’d planned to move in one day. Well, that didn’t work out. One mover was hurt. We’d packed and labeled boxes and told them which furniture was to come. When they first arrived we went through the house with them so they could plan their load accordingly, but they couldn’t fit everything on the truck. They said had they arranged things differently, they probably could have…huh?

So, we had a second day of moving. On the second day, I stayed at the new house unpacking while Hubby supervised at the old house. They arrived at the new house with a half empty truck. I’d told them they could bring my art work if they’d be very careful. (I’d planned to move it myself). They didn’t even wrap it.

The next day I went back to the old house and I could have strangled the movers and Hubby too. (He’d actually been working while they loaded.)

Remember the top floor which was to be totally empty. It had boxes and pillows and lamps and other things…about four or five van trips worth.

Plus, they’d asked us to provide power aid for them. There were half drunk bottles of power aid all over the house, not in garbage cans, but in the floor. Boy, did that set me off!

To top it off, it I asked them to carry something upstairs, they’d sigh. Or, if during the initial move I told them something was moving, they acted like it was an imposition to move it.

I saw one of them toss my door wreath out of his way…toss it! They dropped shelves on my hardwood floors; they dropped lots of things. Two of my favorite casserole dishes were broken.

When the house sells I’ll have to do another move. You better believe I won’t be using these guys, and I hope my realtor takes them off his website as one of his recommended movers.

I know moving is seldom pleasant, but this was ridiculous. Do you have a moving story to share? Misery loves company!

~ Kay

 
 

Why move?

20 Jun

About a year ago, Hubby bought a little red sports car about the size of a lawn mower. It was to replace the sedan he’d been driving, or so he said. He told me to sell the sedan, but I dragged my feet. I could see him going on a business trip where he needed to drive, taking my SUV and leaving me with the lawn mower. No thank you.

After a few weeks, even he admitted, little red car (LRC) was best on back roads because it was pretty intimidating on interstates when you could see underneath big trucks. He learned new routes to work and enjoyed it until it got really, really hot. Then he went back to the sedan. Fall was perfect for LRC, but we had a rough winter and come spring he admitted he was glad I hadn’t sold the sedan.

However, we only had a two-car garage and he didn’t like keeping a car outside a garage so maybe, just maybe, we should look for a house with a three car garage. Huh?

Well, I love to look at houses. When we first got married it was one of our favorite past-times, so I was game. But, to keep us in check, we made a list of priorities of what we wanted in a new home, should we buy one. Number one: three car garage. Number two: garden spot, Number three: a great back yard, etc.

We went to some new developments and met a realtor who swamped us with listings. I went out of town to visit my sister and Hubby met me at the airport with the news we had an appointment to view a house that afternoon (after I’d taken the redeye from Seattle). We got to the house which had just come on the market that day and it already had two offers. It was a great house…a little far out, but a great house. It had a three car garage, a wonderful back yard with a salt water pool. We made an offer, but didn’t get the house.

I went to bed (redeye, remember?) but Hubby stayed up to make a plan. The next morning he announced we could sell LRC and the sedan and buy a “big” convertible–would I be ok with that? I didn’t know; I’d never driven a big convertible, but as it turns out with a hard top, it’s just like a real car so that worked for me. We proceeded with the car reduction plan which meant we no longer needed a three car garage, but…

We kept getting those listings. Then our youngest son and his wife said they might try to start a family soon so all of a sudden the house search moved from east of the city to south of the city where they live. We want to be near our yet to be conceived grandchild. Houses here are more expensive and we bought a house with about 800 less sq ft that cost about 100k more.

The garage is smaller than at our other house. We could probably put a small garden in our fabulous back yard. It’s an open floor plan, and we’ve been sleeping here a little over a week. Although there are still boxes to unpack and no art is hung (on the limited wall space), it does feel like home. It seems like it is going to be easier to keep neat–of course I have to get it neat in the first place.

We got great patio furniture and I’ve taken lots of work breaks out there. The neighbors are wonderful. (Our old neighbors were great too.) Next on the agenda is to get the other house on the market…that saga will be the next blog.

~Kay

 

 
 

Dancing Fools

18 Jun

Here are The Tappin’ Dolls at our recent recital. We have one 40 year old (bless her heart). The rest of us are in our 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s. There are 16 of us, though I don’t think all of us are in any of these casual shots.

We were in the same program as the little kids so the audience got to see dancers from 3 to 73.

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Hope you enjoyed!

~ Kay

*In memory of Dorothy Rainer Sellars, my dance teacher in the 1960′s, who passed away in June 2013.

 
 

I’m back…again

16 Jun

Wow! Lot’s has happened since I last blogged.

About a year ago, I stopped my routine of blogging three times a week so I could finish my second novel, which I did.

Unfortunately, while the book was “aging” (before I started the editing and rewriting phase) I didn’t get into the habit of consistently posting. Oh, I wrote MANY posts–in my head…they just didn’t make it to my website.

I had great plans to post fabulous pictures from our three week trip to Italy in October and share some of the adventures we had there. Unfortunately, a couple of days before we were scheduled to come home, we learned my dad was much sicker than we’d thought. By the time we returned, he was in Hospice.

Hubby had to go to Germany on a business trip the next week, and I waited for him to return to travel to my Dad’s. He was much further along than we’d thought. We walked in and knew we were there “until the end.” I called my sister in Seattle who’d planned a trip about three weeks later and told her if she wanted to see him while he still was alert she needed to come immediately. She arrived the next day. A week later he was in a coma and two weeks later he died.

I blogged some during that time–more processing my feelings than anything, because the posts certainly weren’t planned.

I had a hard winter. I worked with a grief counselor and even went to a week-long intensive grief group which really helped me push through my sadness. It’s been a long seven months, but I’m much better and have made a lot of progress.

I continued to attend tap dance class as an outlet. We had a competition in March and our recital last weekend. We did four numbers. Don’t let anybody tell you “old women” can’t dance! The Tap N Dolls (mostly in our 50′s, 60′s and 70′s) won a Platinum Award for “Dancin’ Fool” and a High Gold Award for “I Move On” at competition. Each judge got to give two special awards and one of the three judges selected us for an award she named the “Heart of Dance” Award showing dance has no age limit. Here are links if you want to see us in action.

Dancin’ Fool

I Move On

I have some fun recital pictures I’ll post soon.

Our sixty-five year old former Rockette teacher couldn’t dance with us during competition because she had double knee replacement surgery, but five weeks after her surgery she was doing the steps behind us in her tennis shoes and a week later she was back in her tap shoes. We performed five dances at the rehab center where she went after her surgery, and she was the star of the show. Of course she was in the recital.

I’m happy to say my writing muse has returned. I’ve found a writing partner who inspires me. I’ve finished the rewrite of my second novel and have done yet another rewrite of the first. Unfortunately, my agent left the business, and I’m waiting to see if someone else at the agency wants to represent me. If not, I’ve got two solid manuscripts ready to query.

I also sold a short story to an anthology which should come out in hard cover and e-format this summer.

And in the middle of this, we decided to MOVE. No good reason, we just did. We are downsizing which is stressing me out since I don’t know what to keep and what to let go. We were in our old house eleven years and accumulated a lot of stuff. We’ve waited to put it on the market until after the move so we could paint and clean and stage it with extra furniture. It really looks good and we are about ready to list it. Meanwhile, at the new, much smaller house, I’m drowning in well-labeled boxes, trying to figure where I’m going to put everything. It’s about thirty minutes between the houses and my cleaning lady and painter have been priceless during the process. But, even so, I’m dealing with major stress, so what am I doing?

BLOGGING! I’m back! Yep! It took the stress of all that to get me back to the keyboard. The good news is I have enough “moving” stories I could blog for weeks just about the move.

Today, a nice rainy day when I could have accomplished much I took three naps. We’ll get it done…somehow. And I bet you’ll see more of me during the next few weeks. Procrastination trumps unpacking.

~ Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Happy Birthday Ma Sue

08 Feb

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s seventy-eighth birthday.

She died fourteen months ago and we’d planned a celebration this afternoon to scatter her ashes.

The folks who bought her farm loved her dearly and graciously agreed to allow her clan to return her remains to the land she cherished.

She enjoyed many things, but watching birds was one of her favorites. Even after she was sick it was something she could do through the many windows of the farmhouse. Therefore, after much discussion, we decided an appropriate memorial “marker” would be a birdbath. My sister-in-law found one on line that could be personalized, it was ordered and delivered. (Man, is that thing heavy!)

Hubby and his two siblings wrote a beautiful ceremony. He ordered an engraved memorial candle for the center of the birdbath to be lit during the celebration. We considered releasing balloons, but after some research learned that would be irresponsible to animals and the environment. We talked about releasing Japanese lanterns…I’m not sure what became of that.

There were more details, I’m sure, but I sat on the sideline on this one while Hubby and his brother and sister made the plans.

Their mother’s sisters were driving up from Mississippi and Mobile. His brother would be flying in from Arizona. Pretty much everyone else was within an easy commute.

But then yesterday morning we got the weather forecast: Winter advisories with the prediction of snow.

The farm is about an hour north of here and it is rural, very rural. It’s hilly and curvy with narrow roads along the way. When a storm blew in MIL pretty much stayed home or, before her husband died, they might venture out in a large, heavy truck.

A decision had to be made about what to do about the ceremony. Fast. Brother had a plane to catch. Aunts would be driving up soon.

The aunts, living south of here, weren’t excited about the prospect of traversing snow and possibly ice on the trip. Brother said his ticket could be changed.

They decided to postpone the event until the weather is warmer and maybe a little more predictable. Besides, it would have been miserable standing outside with the wind whipping off the lake. I haven’t been warm for weeks and I’m not sure I have enough clothes to have avoided frostbite…even though the farm’s new owners had graciously offered to provide hot beverages in their home after the ceremony.

Calls, texts, and emails spread the word. It wasn’t to have been a big affair, but she was so loved, we didn’t really know who would show up. We hope everyone got notice.

As I write this a dusting of snow coats my deck. I haven’t checked the weather channel, but suspect it’s heavier north of here. I think it was a good decision.

The plan now is to spread her ashes when the Irises are blooming. She loved irises!

Happy Birthday, Ma Sue. We love and miss you.

~Kay

 

 

 
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Empty Next

24 Jan

Six weeks ago Youngest Son and his Lovely Wife of two years moved into our basement. They’d been living about three hours away while LW finished her degree (Summa Cum Laude, by the way). They returned to Nashville and decided to stay with us until they found jobs and a place of their own.

When I told friends our kids were moving in with us for “a while” I was advised to set boundaries, make house rules, etc.–none of which we did. They’re adults, we’re adults; we knew it’d be okay. My primary concern was they have two small dogs and I’m allergic to dogs (and cats). But I took a lot of Benadryl and all was well.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get to know my precious daughter-in-law. I’ve adored her from the day I met her. She’s smart, focused, and loves spreadsheets. It’s great having another Excel geek in the family.

We shared some meals but much of the time they were going out or our schedules didn’t mesh. I loved it when they cooked for themselves before or after we’d already eaten. They brought their food up from the basement (sometimes including their pots and pans) and created their masterpieces. Eavesdropping on them interacting in the kitchen kept me in stiches.

They are the cutest couple and compliment each other’s strengths. It’s so much fun to be around them. I’ve enjoyed having them here. Getting to hear first about their job searches and then about their first days on their new jobs has been a real treat. Yep! Both are now gainfully employed in positions they think they’ll love…which means they’re moving out…tomorrow.

It wasn’t planned, but their cohabitation couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a distraction as I mourned my dad and helped me as I struggled through my grief. Needless to say, I’ll miss them. But, as Hubby reminds me, their new apartment is less than half an hour away, much closer than where they were before.

~ Kay

 
 

Things that have made grieving easier during the holidays

08 Jan

I knew the holidays would be difficult. My dad died right before Thanksgiving. My godson is seriously ill. December was the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death. I was right. It’s been tough.

But my brilliant husband remembered that the hospice we used for his mother offered grief counseling services. (My dad’s hospice was out of  state.) Hubby set up an appointment with a grief counselor and went with me for my first session.

John, my counselor, is helping me understand there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I don’t need to “get over it” quickly. My feelings are my feelings and whatever they are, it’s okay to feel them whenever they come up for me. Seeing him has helped. Watching sappy Christmas movies probably hasn’t (but that didn’t stop me from recording every single one).

One of the things I’ve done during this holiday season has paid attention to things that have made me happy…truly happy. These things have made my grieving easier. Following are some of them…in no particular order.

My step-son returning home from active duty

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My Fabulous Hubby

 

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Our Christmas Tree (oh yes, it’s still up!)

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Little girl hugs

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DANCING

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Holding a new baby

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Writing a story for someone special

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Friends

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Family

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Godchildren

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Friends who took the time to acknowledge my loss

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~ Kay

 

 
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Baby, it’s cold outside

06 Jan

My toes are cold; my nose is cold and so is everything in between. The heat is on and I’m wrapped up in a blanket, but I’m still chilled to the bones. I’m not sure I’ll ever thaw out.

We flew to Florida on New Year’s Day to visit our seven-year-old godchild who has spina bifida and has had some major complications recently. I was cold the entire time we were there. Florida. I wore fleece the whole trip.

When we got home yesterday, the temperature was 58. Now it is 8. No, I didn’t drop a digit. We got hit with an arctic blast last night that lowered our temps 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. That has to be a record! (I haven’t checked; I’m just saying…) It’s supposed to get down to 2 degrees tonight with wind chills in the minus teens. We southerners aren’t built to sustain this kind of weather.

I have on three layers. I’m about to add a couple more then don my UGGs and go to tap. I’m sure we’ll all work extra hard today just to stay warm.

At least we have heat, electricity, and the pipes haven’t frozen—yet.  Tonight Hubby and I can snuggle in front of the fireplace under three or four blankets. I can’t wait. He can always warm me up.

~Kay

 
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