Tag Archives: life

2014

It’s 2014!

We rang in the new year at home, with snacks and kitties. I put together a bright and cheery New Year’s mantel with some leftover Christmas decorations and some handmade numbers.

I’m keeping these lights on the mantel a little while longer. Along with the red berry garland, they look wintry enough to me to stay perhaps through February. I made the 2014 myself, just freehanded some numbers on cardboard, cut them out and then glued patterned paper to them. I used two 12×12 sheets per number, and each number stands about 18 inches tall. I had the white pinwheel left over from another project. Brian got me the small globe for Christmas, and I was so excited to add it to my ever-growing collection (I have four now!).

Happy New Year!

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That’s A Wrap

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! So much awesomeness packed into such little time! I’ll just let the pictures tell the story. The many, many pictures. ;D

A new globe! We saw this one in an antique store and Ginger was so sweet and got it for me as an early Christmas present!

And as we neared the end of the month, just before Christmas, our family received the biggest blessing: Larry came home! My sweet sister, Ginger, met her prince charming more than 25 years ago, but due to difficult circumstances, they were unable to be together until now. Finally, he is home and they are able to truly start their happily ever after!

And we had the best family Christmas in *years*.

So much happiness, much-needed by all of us. 2013 was a very hard year in many ways. Looking to 2014 now. Onward we go!

2013 Christmas Decorations

It’s been looking like Christmas around our house for a few weeks now. I normally wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate, but this year, with Thanksgiving coming so late, I decorated an entire week *before* Thanksgiving. And I’ll tell you why.

We all tend to accumulate lots of Christmas decorations over the years. And Christmas only comes once a year. Why only enjoy that beautiful stuff for 3 or so weeks? It takes so much effort to haul all that stuff out of storage and decorate, and we usually all have lots of money tied up in things we’ve collected, so why not enjoy it a little longer? Get as much use and joy out of it as you can.
For Thanksgiving, we travel out of town to my parents’ house, and then we always bring home leftovers that last at least the whole weekend. Having the house already decorated gave us a much more peaceful and lazy long holiday weekend. It was awesome. And I will do it again next year. The turkey won’t mind. πŸ™‚

Aside from that, since Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, we’re all really decorating and celebrating Christ’s birth **late** by the time we get to November and December, anyway. Jesus was born in the late summer, likely in September. And even that’s messed up, since many of our Christmas decor icons are originated in Pagan rituals and symbols, shouldn’t really be tied to Christ at all, and are even possibly condemned in the Bible. So, all that said, do what you want with your Christmas decorations. Do what makes it special and meaningful to *you*. And do it WHEN you want.

Now, for the decorations! This year, I was determined not to buy anything new. We’ve really been needing a new tree for a few years now, but haven’t bought one. Every year, I want to buy one, but then I come up with so many reasons not to. I love the challenge of making do and using what I have, and trying to use it in different ways each year. This year, I thought about our old tree, the one we bought for $20 at K-Mart when we first got married 16 years ago, and decided to dig it out of storage and see how it was doing after all these years. It is the old-school style, the kind where you put each individual branch into its little holder in the trunk and then you cuss and possibly punch the tree as those branches pop out a million times as you try to light the tree. Yes, I had to light this tree myself, by hand, painstakingly, with EIGHT strands of lights. But, once that was done, it looked awesome.

I even made the tree a cute little trunk using some woodgrain patterned scrapbook paper.

Here’s a wreath I thrifted for $1.99! It’s huge (and came with the berry garland already attached to it!). I hand-wrote the “merry” and then painted it and cut it out. I glued it to white posterboard for stability, and cut it out, leaving a small white border around the letters.

Here, I printed the “25” and cut it out and glued it to a doily. Then I framed it in a thrifted frame.

Got this cute Santa plate at the thrift store for $1. He goes great with my vintage Santa mugs that Mama passed down to me last year.

Here’s a 48-year-old ornament from Mama and Daddy’s first married Christmas.

A little Christmas house I made a few years ago.

Another very special, 48-year-old ornament that Mama and Daddy passed on to me. It had to have its own stand.

The dining room. Those gold tinsel trees were a new buy this year–$1 each at the dollar store.

And I made a coffee filter snowflake garland for over the dining room entryway.

Here’s a little vignette by the front door.

Some fun, shaped bokeh with the outside lights.

Merry Christmas!

Let Go, But Hang On.

One year. The passage of time. Today is one year since our sweet baby kitty, Augie, died suddenly and unexpectedly from a horrible disease. His death began an ordeal for us that we are honestly still trying to recover from, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially. The backstory can be found here.

It seemed that his death set off a year, a chain of events that sent us into darkness. A year of tragedy, of trials, hardships and challenges. Pain, grief, and struggle. I could go back even farther, though, to three years ago tomorrow, when Brian’s Aunt Kris (to whom we were very close) died unexpectedly and tragically. October. What is it about October?

I feel like I’m standing still in October. Everyday for the past year has been tinged with, overshadowed by, October. But the world moves on around me. And this year milestone has loomed over me.

Let go, but hang on.

How do you do that? How do you make your flawed heart, your broken and grieving heart, begin to try to cling to the light along the edges of the darkness? Light and dark have become a rhythm of our daily life, a presence we are constantly learning from. This ever-circling presence forces us to be patient, to be present, and to surrender and accept. You can still grow in the darkest of corners, and eventually, you may be able to see the beauty in your wounds. One day, I may realize that I’ve moved past something without realizing I’ve turned. Maybe one day, even October’s clouds will show me their golden lining.

It is a hard road getting there. And I’m still traveling it.

I will always love and miss our sweet Augie. You see, losing him was the equivalent to losing a child, for Brian and me. We don’t (and won’t) have human children, so from our perspective, and from our experience, this is it. Loving, nurturing and bonding with him, only to have him taken away. I will cry and grieve him and miss him for the rest of my life. That’s what love does to you. He was important, and he mattered. I grieve because he mattered. He always will. And in his sweet memory, we continue on for the rest of our cats, our babies. We let go, but hang on.

“If I never see you again
I will always carry you
inside
outside

on my fingertips
and at brain edges

and in centers
centers
of what I am of
what remains.”

–Charles Bukowski

Progress

Progress. It was the theme for this week, everywhere I looked.

A Dollar Tree store is coming! (See what I did there?) πŸ™‚

Huge progress has been made on the house.
The view out the living room window, Wednesday morning. Shingles being torn off and thrown into the back of a dump truck. Bye, shingles, thank you for sheltering us for so many years!

And by Wednesday, we had this.

Funny story about this new roof. Apparently, the construction supply store that our builder uses sent the wrong shingles. Instead of sending and delivering regular, 10-year house shingles, they sent architectural, TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR shingles instead!! The roofer went ahead and used them, and since it was their mistake, we got a pretty sweet, free upgrade on our roof. This roof can last until the house is paid off! Well, unless we have any more trees move in with us.

Yesterday, a couple guys came by to patch the hole in the hallway.

They’ll be in and out over the next few days, mudding, sanding and then, eventually, painting the whole hallway. Almost good as new! At least the holes are whole again.

In other progress news, I have been hard at work on decorations for my niece’s upcoming wedding, which is now two weeks away! Eek!! I have made pinwheels and poufs, and yesterday, I bought all the silk flowers I’ll need for her bouquet, corsages, boutonnieres, and other decorations and projects. I have a long to-do list for the next two weeks!

Progress is a good thing.

Still Alive

You find a way, somehow, to get through the most horrible things, things you think would kill you. You find a way and you move through the days, one by one, in shock, in despair, but you move. The days pass, one after the other, and you go along with them β€” occasionally stunned, and not entirely relieved, to find that you are still alive.
β€” β€œThe Year of Fog” by Michelle Richmond

Todd

Last fall, when we were in the thick of dealing with Augie’s recent death and Simon’s near-fatal illness, we were exhausted, grieving, and really couldn’t handle one.more.thing. to deal with. Enter Todd.

Todd came up to our house one day, hungry and wounded. He looked like he had been shot with a bb gun. With our hands more than full with caring for Simon, and making sure our other kitties stayed healthy, we still had to help this sweet boy. We took him to the vet and had his wound treated and brought him home to start an antibiotic. We set him up on our front porch, with a little house and heated pad to sleep on. He repaid us with love and this sweet face.

It really struck us how much he looked like Augie, our five-month-old kitten that we had just lost. If Augie had had a chance to grow up, he would have looked identical to Todd. We didn’t think this was a random coincidence. God sent Todd to us. Even though we have many other cats to care for, God knew we could and would take care of sweet Todd. We still played around with the idea of adopting him out, but we were so overwhelmed with the other stuff that was happening at the time, we put out a few feelers with some local animal rescue people, but no one came forward to adopt him.

More time passed, and we grew more attached to Todd. In mid-January, Todd disappeared. This was abnormal for him, as he was so happy with us and stayed on the porch or in our little strip of woods next to the house, at all times. He was definitely someone’s cat, very sweet and tame, and had been neutered. So he wanted people. He wanted us. So when he disappeared, we got really worried. He was gone for about two days and we decided to put up fliers around the neighborhood, in the hopes that someone had seen him or had him. We thought that maybe he had just gone back home, although when he had first arrived, we had been unable to locate an owner for him.

Days passed. Then, five days after Todd left, Brian got a phone call. It was a Saturday morning. A teenage boy told Brian that he had seen the flier and thought that the cat on it might be trapped under his parents’ house, in the crawlspace. We went immediately to their house, which was only on the next street over from us. We went under the house and sure enough, there was Todd. Cold, hungry, scared. I picked him up and he clung to me. It was then, at that moment, that I whispered to him, “You are mine.” There was no way, after that, that I could give him up. Brian and I already loved him so much by this point. And we couldn’t bear to put him through breaking his attachment to us and having to bond with new people. He had already been through so much, and we wanted him to feel safe and loved. But we were about to be dealt another blow.

We wanted to transition Todd to come inside, but after dealing with a deadly virus for a few months, one that could live up to a year in the house, we needed to get Todd vaccinated. We took him to the vet for his shots, and had him tested for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus, or AIDS), and the result was positive. We were devastated. FIV is not an immediate death sentence, and cats that have it can still live long, healthy lives. But it is transmittable to other cats through fights or biting, and our Todd was a bit of a biter. So we knew we could not integrate him into our multi-cat household. Again, the idea of adopting him out to someone who only had FIV+ cats became our only option.

After researching, we discovered that the snap test that was done on Todd at the vet’s office had a pretty substantial failure rate, and that the vet may have not left Todd’s blood sample out long enough to get to the proper temperature before testing. Another possibility was that Todd may had already been vaccinated for FIV and the snap test isn’t sensitive enough to tell whether it’s picking up actual virus, or just vaccination antibodies. Those things prompted us to take Todd to a vet who could perform an actual send-out lab test to double-check. This test would tell us for sure.

We took him for the test, LOVED the vet, and waited. And waited. For a week. Finally, I called to check on the results, and they had just gotten them in. FIV NEGATIVE. NEGATIVE!!! So he had gotten a false positive result on the snap test at the other vet. We were overjoyed. Since we were in the middle of getting Todd his vaccination series, we didn’t want him running off again, and he couldn’t come into the house until he was fully protected, he lived in our outside semi-feral cat pen for about six weeks. Finally, a couple weeks ago, we brought him inside. That same night, the first night he was in, was the night of the storm and the tree. But we won’t hold that against him. πŸ™‚