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March 18, 2011


I'm an organization fool. I really like to organize, sift through stuff, refile, label files, take trips to the dump, and generally do a spring cleaning (a bit early). Unfortunately, I'm also a bit of a hoarder -- but that is really "a bit of a hoarder" since I lived with a true hoarder. Martin just shook his head when clearing out Don's study of all the computer stuff he had gotten free at different computer shows. I mean, who needs 17 screen cleaners? I'm still trying to rid myself of many of Don's possessions. It's hard because I might throw away something I would need in the future. And, that is the crux of the matter for hoarders. People who don't hoard live in the now. Do I use it? If not, it gets tossed.

I've always appreciated people who can go through their wardrobes and toss what they do not use right now. I waver on tossing when it is a size that I wear now or I wore 6 months ago or I might need in 6 months if I gained weight. I waver because I loved that suit when I was in my 20s. I waver because it might come in style again. I waver because I'm just in that kind of mood. At least I have boxed up a few things and relegated them to the basement storage. Shoes are the hardest! I have shoes that I never wear because they are not as comfortable as my favorites. They are always the least expensive shoes I have and probably bought on a whim. I'm attacking those next.

You should see my new files. They are simply beautiful. After AmySue complained about her mother-in-law having nothing organized for her children before she became disabled and unable to pass on information about her business affairs, I decided to get those kinds of things in order. I bought myself a new label maker and shredded about three feet of old, unnecessary papers. I wrote down all of my business matters and put it in a file for my children. I'll have to update it from time to time, but at least I feel that it is done. Don and I made an updated will before he died, so that is in the file. That is my March accomplishment.

The basement and the rest of Don's books is next. I like having projects. They bring such satisfaction when they are finished. Yesterday Dani put my new printer together. It prints, faxes, copies, and scans. It was on sale with $100 off and then $50 more if you traded in an old printer. So, I hauled Don's old laser printer over and traded it in. The printer was just over $100 although I admit to buying an extended warranty. I figured if it did all those things, it probably had more chance of dying on me. But, I now have one item by my computer rather than two printers and a scanner. I'm definitely making progress.

So, today I have my friend's truck to haul some stuff to the dump and to help Dani move a large table into my basement. She is trying to clean out Nico's room which has been used for storage since they closed down their storage unit. She is motivated since her friend, Uli, is coming to visit this week. Sort of hard to have company with only two bedrooms and two kids and Uli and her son.

Maybe it really is spring in the air!

Posted by Marilyn at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2011

It's A Balancing Act

I've been working on my pool room as I've mentioned. Tom built me some nice cabinets and I finally broke down and chose a countertop material. He suggested vinyl and after much deliberation over wanting something a bit nicer, I capitulated. Try as I may, I could not spend the funds on anything more expensive at this time. I think it will look nice. I have to keep in mind that this is but a rumpus room and not my primary living space. I think children will play and watch television, I will have my desk downstairs, and I will not entertain guests in that room. But, after a winter like we have had, I decided to put my fireplace on a wall thermostat instead of the remote thermostat which keeps doing wonky things. So, I have managed to squeak out funds for those two projects at this time. However, I do not have funds for the boiler that I need so I'm talking to the Electric Company's suggested provider of funds for energy efficient loans. Fortunately it coincides with Don's pension funds rising just about the same amount of money.

I have small projects for my house and large projects. The roof, repointing the chimney, and finishing the first floor bathroom are big projects. Oh, and updating my lousy garage which I wanted to remove over the screaming objections of my engineer, my designer, and Tom, my contractor. All of them said absolutely not - you will never be able to replace it and it is a definite selling point of the house. I guess it doesn't matter that the house would actually look better without it. Oh well! Small projects include the upstairs bathroom remodel (not a lot to do, just some tile and painting and resurfacing tub). Painting the living room has to be next, and Tom will do a bit more trimming out the space to make it look like the age of the house. Another really big project is to finish off the electricity change from the old to the new system. When the remodel was done, the electrician put in capacity to do that in the future. But, I think it will have to be done little by little.

I probably will never finish this house. It is too demanding. But, I do feel good about what I have done. Now, I'm eke-ing out funds from my job from City University and trying to be frugal each month to save a bit here and there. I actually am rather proud of myself. But, I can see ahead that being rid of such a monstrosity will be a definite advantage. At this time, I'm having more fun than anxiety - when the scale gets tipped, I'll sell the place. And, I shall never ever buy an old house again!

Posted by Marilyn at 3:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2011

Good Food

Martin, who at age 41 is an excellent cook, was definitely my pickiest eater. He still has strong eating preferences. For him, it was all about texture. He loved smooth tastes. Which made me think of him this morning as I drank a glass of orange juice with some pulp left in. I usually, like Martin as a child, prefer pulp-less orange juice. But, I decided that the pulp was better health wise, so I began this week with the light pulp version hoping to graduate to the full pulp version in the near future. I really, however, prefer no pulp because of the texture. It has nothing to do with taste.

Perhaps that explains why I was always willing to strain Martin's orange juice because I had some sympathy with his need for less stuff floating in the glass. Silly! But there it is. His friend's parents refused to cater to him and thought he was terribly spoiled. But, hey, I was his mother and he asked for so little. Of course, I did buy him endless cartons of yogurt and even lots and lots of Kefir. He absolutely loved the smoothness of those items. He hated fish and most vegetables. But, I could give him a big bowl of frozen peas and sit him in front of the TV while I was preparing hot peas for everyone else. By the time he came to dinner, all the frozen peas were eaten. I'm sure that was his only vegetable for many years. I don't remember the eating habits of his sisters except for Jeni who could go through a whole package of Pippin apples in one sitting. She was an apple fiend. I remember having to wean her for a short while when she had a rash which we decided stemmed from over-apple-eating.

Food is so funny. It can definitely be a power thing. I'm sure Martin got attention for being picky. I didn't cook differently for him, but I did pay attention to what he would eat and make sure we had items he would like. When Dani was small, we lived in a big mansion next door to the church where Don was minister to youth. We lived on the second floor with our kitchen on the first floor. We ate there for meals, but didn't hang out in the kitchen. We never snacked and rarely ate dessert. So, neither did Dani. When we moved to Santa Barbara, the kitchen was suddenly convenient and so was the rest of the food. Now, cookies and other snacks came into our world. Dani could care less but the other children learned that food was readily available.

I'm thinking about food these days because I am spending so much at the grocery store. Food prices are definitely up and I have two grandsons who come over and head to my kitchen. The first thing Nico says when he hits my house is "I'm hungry." James just heads to the refrigerator. He loves leftovers. Nico loves popsicles. Dani heads for the Diet Cola. I guess my house must be an invitation to eat. It's a mother/grandmother thing. Of course there is an endless pot of tea available. Sometimes Dani stocks my frig with frozen pizzas or other things her children might want to devour out of concern for my food budget.

The other day, my neighbor's child (two-year-old Bo) came over to play with Nico. He marched right up to my table and said (or rather, yelled), "I"M HUNGRY!!!!!" I said that he could have some apple or an orange. He said, "I want an apple AND an orange!" When I was seaching for them, I ran across some grapes. He said, "I want an apple and an orange AND some grapes." I told him that he could have a few grapes and some orange. He said, "OK!" and happily ate for the next several minutes until he jumped down and joined the play.

There must be a sign in front of my house that says, "EAT HERE!"

Posted by Marilyn at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Day

How lovely to have a birthday! I don't really feel very old. In fact, I don't feel old at all. So much so, that when I actually think about how old I am, it rather surprises me. My dear scamp of a grandson, James, reminds me often that I am old. It usually goes like, "Grandma, will you leave me (name anything of any value) in your will?" Last night he suggested that he might become a doctor some day and that he would treat me for free. I decided that I might choose someone who was not so interested in what he might inherit to treat me at all. In any case, it is a little game that we play, and it brings me up short. I don't know how I aged so quickly over the years. But, one glance at Allie in her beautiful prom dress reminds me how fast time flies. I have a Skype date with my little Lionel tonight at 6:00 to remind me that new life is precious! My granddaughter, Nicole, reminds me that I once had bright red hair just like her. And, my dynamo called Nico brings me precious kisses and hugs which makes every day a birthday!

Don and I spent a great deal of time counting our blessings. We discussed our life together and what we might have done differently. And, we were so grateful for our families and our children that we couldn't find a thing that we would have changed. We were not perfect persons, but we felt forgiven for all of that nonsense. We wouldn't have had better parents or better lives. We were enamored with our own children and their partners and always thought we had such darling and smart grandchildren. We were blessed. Truly blessed.

That's how I feel today. I am sooooooo lucky to have such a wonderful family and friends. I am so lucky to have enough resources, to be able to live comfortably and to live in such a beautiful part of the world. My wonderful birthday group has met for over 25 years and we went to lunch today for my birthday. I never get tired of celebrating with them. On Thursday I will have dinner with Keith and Eulalah and Marilyn and they will not even let me win at Rummy Tiles even if we are celebrating my birthday. They are ruthless competitors.

There is so much in life that I enjoy. Reading, puzzles, and organizing stuff keep me busy at home. Writing and thinking about writing stimulates my brain. Maybe some traveling and working on my house will whet this year's creative appetite. Juggling time with friends and having tea keeps my heart warm. Thinking about what I believe and what is important to me keeps me grounded. What more could a person ask for.

I'm hoping this next year I'll lose a bit of weight, become a better parent and grandparent, a better steward of my resources. I hope to sing more and to gripe less, to be more forgiving and to be forgiven for any thoughtless acts or words. I hope growing older means growing nicer, more open, and more trusting. I hope to deepen my faith and to be more faithful to those in need. I hope to give away at least 10% of my resources and my time so that I can live in a better world. I'll get started on all of this tomorrow!

Today I'm just celebrating my birthday!

Posted by Marilyn at 3:59 PM | Comments (0)