Category Archives: home

My Haven Is Home

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My haven is home.  So blessed during this stay-at-home order Dean and I have been given opportunity to care for our home and yard.  Our home gives back so much more.  And spring has been so pleasant this year, very much like spring should be.  Sunshine, rains, a random storm brews up, cool mornings, and warmer afternoons.  We had a couple of days it felt more like summer, but it cooled down after the rains.  And then a few frost warning mornings, but it never came.  Better safe than sorry, we covered our annuals and perennials.  Kind of like the corona virus for us.  We take the precautions: masks, social distancing, and extra sanitation in our home and when we are out.

These mild temperatures and regular watering from the rains has provided such a green haven of leaves, grasses, mosses, and foliage.  Mid-spring the dogwood, azalea, clematis, irises and the flowering trees, bushes, and stemmed blooms are clothed in white or more showy colors of fuchsia, paler pinks, purples, blues, oranges, yellows, and reds.  The peonies are exceptional this year.  The song birds are plentiful.  Their songs divine.  The morning doves, robins, finches of purple and yellow, grosbeaks, cardinals, indigo buntings, nuthatches, and sparrows of many species come to our feeders and reside in the birdhouses or bushes.  Hawks and owls call out throughout the day and night as their homes are nearby.  Of course, families of squirrels and rabbits in the neighborhood are for the taking by these birds of prey.  Occasionally, it is a morning dove for a meal.

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
       To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
       To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
       To stay at home is best.

Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Cottage Projects And Purposes

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Dean and I have been living in this WWII era small home in historic St. Charles, Missouri for just under 2 years.  It is Dean’s dream home, and becoming mine. Deanna’s Cottage is the name we give this home.  In 2019 the cottage had been rented out via Airbnb for 7 festival weekends.  It has such an ideal location, just 6 blocks from Historic Main Street. Each of our cottage guests have rated our little place 5-stars.  Thus far this year, the pandemic has kept us from renting Deanna’s Cottage.  It will be the second half of 2020 before we will accept reservations again on Airbnb, provided the threat of COVID-19 has subsided significantly.  Those weekends when the guests come stay at Deanna’s Cottage, we stay at our previous residence.  Our old house is rented to my daughter and son-in-law, a family of four.  There is our old bedroom we invade for 2 nights at a time with our feline friend, Celine who has taken permanent residence there.

With the social distancing for 6 weeks now in the state of Missouri, we have more time on our hands. We would rather be visiting with our kids, grandkids, parents, siblings, and friends on the weekends.  Sure understand why, and respect the rules set in order for this invasive virus to die down, but it is hard not to be with everyone.  Our two youngest grandkids have April birthdays.  We left the fixings for a birthday party on the porch and did a drive-by birthday greeting for the 10-year grandson earlier this month.  But our 4-year granddaughter will not understand why Grandpa and Grandma cannot stop to visit.  So birthday presents were sent in the mail to the other side of Missouri for our granddaughter to open on her birthday this Sunday.  May be able a Facetime event.

So what else to do with all this time, especially on the weekends?  We gained 2 hours every weekday with telecommuting, and little prep for work.  So one project after another runs in Dean and I’s heads separately and collectively with conversations and plans to follow.  We have plans to take out the carpeting in the living room, hallway, and master bedroom to get to the bare wooden floors.  We are not sure what we will find, so we have put that off for awhile.  We think it will take old-fashion time and elbow-grease with refinishing the floors.  And what to do with the furniture while we work on it?  With the lovely spring weather, outdoor projects have taken priority.  Off and on since last autumn Dean has worked on the windows, scrapping, glazing, priming, and painting.  That project is weather dependent. The awning over the front porch needs repainting.  The back awnings just need to be removed.  The back porch/deck needs to be replaced.  Fencing replaced, too.  And then there is the landscaping.  This includes a huge tree removal, resetting a small retention wall on one side of the house, and putting in a pebble patio in the front with a small fountain.  I love this project as it means a lawn chair to sit in at the end of a long day to relax under the dogwood tree sipping on iced tea or a cup of hot tea.  The weather temperature tells me which.

I have many longer-term plans in my mind for Deanna’s Cottage.  Did you ever hear of the book A Place Of My Own: The Architecture Of Daydreams by healthy food activist and author, Michael Pollan?  He dreams of a small structure, then he builds it himself, and uses as his writing studio.  A quiet space, purposeful place.  I found this cute place online used as a small venue for parties, showers, rehearsal dinner, and luncheons.  I could see Deanna’s Cottage used as a small gathering place such as this.  I can also see a quainter dwelling, maybe about 500 square-foot to be built in the big back yard within the next 5 years used as an atelier for reading, writing and art projects, but also for periodic guests and gatherings.  My flower, herb, and vegetable gardens surrounding the dwelling. But what does God purpose for Dean and I at Deanna’s Cottage, and this smaller structure I dream about?

 

White Fluff In This Green Season

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Over the course of the winter and this early spring the busy red and gray squirrels in our neighborhood have managed to empty the two patio cushions on our next door neighbors’ patio furniture.  I suppose the amount of leaves and branches in the neighborhood is not enough for these rascals.  Hoarders and self-absorbed.  Sound familiar?  The synthetic stuffing that I call “white fluff” has been scattered about in the immediate neighborhood found in the green grass, bushes, trees, leaves, and the huge squirrels’ nest in our cherry tree.  This has been going on over the past 5 months, with maybe the final unloading last night.  We don’t see another cushion laying in the yard or patio furniture, thank God. The neighbor who owns the patio cushions appears clueless or could give a darn.  Dean and I spent a few Saturday afternoons cleaning up the “white fluff” from our yard, and the next door church’s yard. A couple of months ago Dean fully emptied the one cushion the squirrels chewed a hole in and threw the remaining contents in the trash bin.  The squirrels found the other cushion, and chewed a hole in that one.  So a repeat with the second cushion, we have spent a good hour here and there cleaning up.  Rather comical at times, but mostly aggravating.

On a more serious note, this “white fluff” illustrates to me the novel corona virus and the community’s responses.  The squirrels are those people who carry the virus, and share their germs while out and about with their busy, careless activities like hoarding the toilet paper and taking their  children to the grocery store for a “social hour”.  The clueless neighbor is the person who refuses to self-educate with reputable, accurate, up-to-date COVID-19 information and seems to hide from life.  Dean and I are the millions of people trying to keep our world cleaned-up and safe for ourselves and others around us.  How about you?  Are you watching after yourself and those people placed immediately around you?  Surely you are not one of the squirrels making more of mess for the rest of us!  Let’s get this “white fluff “cleaned up, obey the social distancing rules, and pray we have a vaccine before the next season arrives.

A February Welcome

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We got through January with bouts of snow, ice, and cold rains.  But the first two days in February softened up to temps in the 70’s by Super Bowl Sunday.   What a gorgeous and glorious weekend.  On Saturday I opened my eyes in the wee hours like a work day while the first February sunrise greeted me in its pink hues, flirting the Valentine’s Day’s colors.  I had plans to get the house thoroughly cleaned after being away for the 2 weekends previous.  I accomplished that but made the time to pull out the Valentine decorations.  The big Valentine red heart wreath went on the turquoise door.  An adorable welcome!

The neighborhood outdoor grills fired up on Sunday in celebration of the grand weather and football game.  After church, Dean and I went outside for some outdoor chores.  Dean washed layers of salt and junk off the car.  It is spiffy and shiny now!  I sanded a couple of outdoor furniture pieces.  The old metal-framed glider that came with the house and carport finally had a sander workout.  Down to some pretty smooth cedar planks.  A coat of stain and varnish will go on the cedar planks after I finish sanding the metal frame and a coat of enamel on the frame.  Most likely an early spring project after the frame color choice is decided on and more warm weekends.

A little child’s chair used as a perch on the front porch was a less than $10 purchase at a  French Town antique shop last spring.  It apparently had a layer of paint quickly brushed on it before I bought it.  The paint peeled terribly when the cold weather arrived this past autumn.  So I set the poor thing in the basement and waited for a break in the weather to sand and repaint it.  Sunday was the day to get it started.  A coat of white primer after the sanding.  And then for artistic impression, “nifty turquoise” to match the front door.  My mid-week artist’s project, painting will be a great diversion from this crazy world.

February is obviously a red month.  Why look at the KC Chiefs, the Super Bowl champions!  A sea of red confetti at the game and parades. Oh, we cannot forget Red Dress Day this Friday.  Always the first Friday in February.  Wear that red and be good to your heart.  So the gray winter gets a splash or two of color, and I love it.  The red and turquoise palette suits you well, February!

 

 

 

 

Dormancy

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No winter-like simulation now, it is the real deal.  The winter weather seems to be sticking around for more than a few days.  Icy, sleety, and snowy last week, and again this week dipping into the teens overnight and staying below or close to freezing during the day.  Due to budget constraints our winter vacation week was decidedly best to stay in our home state of Missouri this year.  No expensive sandy beaches to sunbathe on.  Making the most of our budget and what our state has to offer during this winter season, Dean and I chose to visit our state’s Ozark Mountains.  Most of our vacation budget is for a lovely lodge in the woods, the journey there only a 5-hour drive from home.  Home-cooked meals prepared in a well-stocked kitchenette, and an occasional meal out satisfy us both.  Every night a vignette of soft lights dot the mountain sides from the valley we are nestled in.

Dean and I venture out on half-day trips for a couple of days, visiting small towns and cousins.  We went target shooting at an outdoor range one afternoon.  We meander into northern Arkansas part of the week.  Naked hardwood trees, pines, and cedars clothe the mountains along with icicled cliffs and crags much like glittered ornaments.  Flowing valley streams, swooping birds of prey, and cattle feeding in the fields are the only movement around.  Dormancy is what we experience, and what we need. Oxford’s online dictionary defines dormancy … “the state in which a plant is alive but not actively growing” and with this sentence example “dormancy allows woody plants to survive these unfavorable conditions”.  

The quiet, unassuming beauty of the woods in dormancy stills my busy body, mind, and soul.  Very present moment several times each day, a retreat without structure.  Just being, breathing in and out, and audibly awake.  It is not necessary to block out the static and noise of my job, the house, and almost no obligations as I am far enough away from these occupations.  Words come in and out on occasion, Dean and I relating this quiet vacation week to our retirement years.  Some words make a page in my journal, and others are just thoughts in dormancy for a later writing in favorable conditions and more life lived.

This year I am ending the summer season of my wellness career.  The autumn season of my career follows, short and sweet like Missouri’s autumns with the winter season close behind.  The dormant season always emerges into a glorious spring song.  A book of collected letters, Letters To A Young Poet, poet Rainer Maria Rilke urges the young budding poet, Franz Xavier Kappus to look inward and know what motivates his own writing.  Rilke encourages the development of a rich inner life which is the process of creative art. “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.  In today’s words, live today, be present moment.  Some answers come eventually.

 

Blooming Encouragement

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The winter chill came a month early in Missouri, and I believe most of the Midwest.  The perennials came indoors to their wintertime home.  The last of the ketchup and mustard rose buds were snipped and put in a shot glass, my make-shift bud vase.  A welcome greeting in the kitchen.  We have space for only one of perennials, our arrowhead in our little cottage living room.  And how it has grown during the summer months and brief autumn weeks outdoors as we place it under the front window.  The other plants are housed in the temperate climate of the basement under a plant light set on a timer.  Much like the wintertime shedding that a pine tree goes through in this region, our perennials shed during the winter indoors.  My pot of colorful lantana and geraniums dropped many leaves, but are still blooming.

I feel like my perennials and the outdoor plants during the winter.  A major adjustment to the climate change.  Many people with auto-immune disorders have worsen arthritic symptoms during the cold season.  For some, the pain is much worse.  Depression can set in.  If you are not into gardening, I suggest to have just one potted geranium, Christmas cactus or another succulent to share life with this winter.  With winter there is loss of luster, but an indoor plant may produce a bloom or two despite the season.  Kind of like some of us people folk.

A Labor of Love

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Bit by bit we are making headway on the entryways to our 1940’s home.  Last month it was our front door.  It is a nifty turquoise color, a welcome to anyone in our St. Charles, Missouri neighborhood.  This afternoon my hubby, Dean was scrapping, glazing, and priming one of the windows in the living room of Deanna’s Cottage.  He will paint the frame white next week.  And we have 8 more windows to go.  It is a labor of love!

Along with cherry tomatoes I picked my Genovese and Tai basils on Friday evening at the screenhouse/greenhouse located on Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance.  On Sunday the Genovese variety made some delicious pesto.  I learned if you blanch the basil in boiling water for 5 seconds and immediately put into an ice bath it seals the bright green color.  Drain and squeeze the water from the basil and add to the food processor with olive oil, walnuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese. For two half- pint jars of pesto, I used 8 cups of basil leaves.  The Tai basil will be used for seasoning a chicken-veggie stir fry and riced cauliflower bowl this week. Again, a labor of love!

Updates At Deanna’s Cottage

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Summer allows for household projects to continue.  Last weekend I found an antique corner dresser that goes perfectly in the guest bedroom.  Dean surprised me and brought it home this week.  And what a perfect day on Saturday this late August weekend, sunny with a slight breeze and temps around 80.  Fresh paint to the front door and frame has been applied at Deanna’s Cottage.  The door color is Sherwin William’s “nifty turquoise”.  It stopped the postman for a chat while delivering the mail on Saturday, and one of the church goers at the little church next door “loves it”.  According to Kristin Schell in her book A Turquoise Table, this color attracts.  We hope the color to be a positive way to connect with the people of our St. Charles neighborhood.  Eventually the front porch and window metal awnings will be stripped and repainted the color “natural choice” to match the door frame.  We will go with a powered application as latex peels on metal.  The final touch to the front entry will be a new screen door, an old-fashioned wooden one would be awesome.  And more to come with a couple of Adirondack wooden chairs on a pebble patio to relax in and welcome the neighbors.

 

Summer Projects Heat Up

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Missouri’s summer heats up in August.  It started on the cooler side, but it is full-blown dripping hot now.  The humidity does it, zaps the energy out of me.  I am taking a couple of hours this afternoon in the air-conditioned cottage to reenergize myself.  This summer I have managed to get a walk in every day while at work.  I found a quiet, shady alley that provides some refuge from the madness in the middle of my day.  Then flowers and gardening are my evening and weekend therapy.  The blooms are flourishing.

This year Dean and I’s spare summer weekends are focused on repainting the window and door frames of our St. Charles cottage.  Of course with a house that is 80 years old, projects are many.  There is multiple layers of paint to sand down, so we get a smooth, clean coat of paint. We have found 3 layers with the front door frame and headboard.  A coat of primer will go on the frame and headboard this evening, with the final white paint another “free” weekend.  Then the front door is next.  “Nifty turquoise” is the color of choice.  Read The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell to know why I picked this color.  Stay tuned for another post to follow with a picture of our finished project.

Green Gardens Galore

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Vacation travels took Dean and I to the east coast in historic Charleston, South Carolina this past week.  We relished the art, culture, history, and summer foliage that the city offers.  We captured some unforgettable vignettes with alcoves, alleys, doors, windows, churches, homes, blooms, and green gardens galore.  Its great to admire the gardens of other people, but always good to bring that admiration back to the home base despite the imperfections.