Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Which I Get a Life

Today I promise I won't talk to you about town homes or estate sales or paint (ugh!). I do promise, however, that I will follow up my Great Townhouse Project of 2013 series with some before and after photos in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime . . .

. . . it's time to get outta Dodge!

I have been telling you that my reward for all my hard work this summer would come eventually, and now the time is here.

You all know how much I love to travel. And you all know how much I love my family. This week, the two will converge as my mom, my sisters, and I all head out together for a very special girlfriend trip.

To celebrate my mom's 75th birth year (she'll turn 75 next year--sorry to spill the beans, Mom!), she is taking us on a trip of a lifetime.

We'll start here:

Cruise down here:

End up somewhere around here:

Then take a bus or train (I don't even know which) to here for a couple of days:

And finally end up here:

Excited doesn't even begin to cover it!

I've made the bold decision to NOT schlep my computer overseas, so you won't be hearing from me here for a while. You can follow me on Instagram (where I might post a picture or two) or on Facebook (where I might post an update or two), but the blog will be silent, just as it has for most of the summer.


Auf Wiedersehen!

Au revoir!

P.S. I've been to one of these cities before, and if you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know which one. See if you can guess, and tell me in the comments. Oh, and if you don't follow me, why not sign up for email updates today? I'd be ever grateful!

Photo credits 1|2|3|4|5

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Great Townhouse Project of 2013 - Weeks 6, 7, & 8

So many of you have asked about the project lately that I thought an update might be in order.

I haven't posted about the townhouse lately for several reasons:

1. So much has happened lately that I don't want to spoil the Before and After post I'm going to do at the end.

2. I thought you might be getting sick of it by now.

3. I'm getting sick of it.

**Whine alert**

Seriously. This was a much bigger project that I anticipated. Every day of my summer so far has been consumed with this townhouse. 

A friend emailed this morning and said, "You seemed totally stressed when I saw you the other day. Time to stop the renovations."

Amen, friend. Amen.

I SO want this to be done--and it almost is--but I can't just quit now. 

In all honesty, though, I have to tell you that many mornings this summer I've woken up and grieved the fact that I've only been able to sit on my porch exactly five times all summer. I've longed to spend an hour in the sun. I've missed my friends. I've wondered if I even HAVE friends. I've thought, "I can't take this anymore!" And I've wanted to be able to snap my fingers and have it all done, like, NOW. 

**End of whine**

Like I said, I'm nearing the end. I'm washing floors and hanging pictures this week, so it's almost there. (I do still need beds, but I'll find them.) Things are coming along.

The best part? I've finally been able to put the paint away! (Oh my word. If I never see another paint brush it won't be too soon.)

Here's a sneak peek at one of my favorite things we've done so far. 

Isn't it pretty?!

The past few weeks haven't been without some setbacks, though--the biggest being the water heater. 

Yes, a couple of weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I walked in and the house felt strange. I can't describe it other than it just felt different.

I walked upstairs and did a couple of things, then I went down to the basement. Once I got down there I thought, "Hmmm. That's strange. It's warm down here." Not only that, it was humid. The basement is usually cool and dry, so it felt weird that it was damp that day.

Then I heard water and knew something was up.

I stepped into the utility room and saw that water was pouring out of the bottom of the water heater. No telling how long that had been going on--thankfully the floor was wet but not damaged. I called a plumber immediately and now I can say I am the proud, albeit a bit surprised, owner of a brand, spanking new 40 gallon water heater.

It's the little things, right?

Actually, this was a big thing. A there-goes-the-new-kitchen-floor-because-your-budget-is-busted kind of thing. 

Yes, some decisions had to be made because, frankly, after the Great Water Heater Incident, I was out of money, out of time, and out of energy.

The kitchen floor will not be replaced. 

Nor will the kitchen cupboards be painted.

Sad to say, I'm human. I can only handle so much, and painting kitchen cupboards in Week 8 just is outside of the limits of my humanity. And my sanity.

In the meantime, over the 4th of July weekend, I got some wonderful help from my family. Caroline painted the utility room--hooray! (She's been on paint crew at the college all summer, so the girl knows what she's doing with a brush and roller.) 

B spent lots of time helping me with all sorts of things. Especially windows and screens. Ahhh. It feels so good to have clean windows!

Speaking of windows . . . see those blinds? They are some of the very few things we salvaged from this place, and now they are very clean. AFTER TWO HOURS OF SCRUBBING!!!


Here's another project that took hours.

The patio doors in the kitchen were covered with this contact paper. Who thought that was a good idea? 

Julia and I spent the better part of a day getting that stuff off the window because, as you can see, it came off in small pieces (at first--until we figured out a system) and left all the gummy, sticky backing on the window.

Thank goodness I found this spray-on product at the hardware store that took the backing off in just 10 minutes. Whew!

Here's my cheerful helper--isn't she great? (Wah! I miss her! She's in Memphis on a missions trip this week.)

I'm grateful for all of my helpers this summer--I really could never have finished this project without them. I'm pretty sure I'd be institutionalized by now if I hadn't had the encouragement and support of my family. 

And Glenda!

So, up next will be a Before and After post, hopefully next week. And maybe a few thoughts about this project after that. 

But I also want to tell you about my reward that's coming up quickly . . .  *squee!!!!*

Alright, check in. Just tell me something in the comments to let me know I'm not alone! What's your summer been like? What are you looking forward to?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mercy Found Me

She stood by the door as I entered the grocery store: tanned, blue-eyed, hair pulled into a tangled ponytail. She wore a gray t-shirt with an American flag in the shape of a heart on it. She could have been a mom, and maybe she was, but her expression revealed something else.

It was blank.

Staring at me through those blue eyes, she looked like a ghost. A very tan ghost.

I smiled and tried to look her in the eye, but her blank expression haunted me and I looked away quickly.

Later, as I unlocked my car and started piling bags of groceries inside, she slid up to me, out of nowhere. Maybe she really was a ghost.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I’ve fallen on hard times and I was wondering if you might have a few dollars to spare.”

Immediately I thought back to the previous Saturday night. My husband and I, our daughter, and her friend had all gone into the city for an evening at the theater. We arrived early so we sat in a nearby plaza to people-watch for a while. Most of the benches and tables were taken by the homeless, some sleeping, some chatting together, all on alert for something or someone.

As the four of us sat on a bench together soaking in a perfectly beautiful evening in the city, my husband took out his wallet and removed all of the single dollar bills he had.

I’ve seen him do this before; he wants to be ready if asked.

With Saturday night in mind and a ghost standing before me, I looked through my wallet for some money. I handed her the bills and said, “God bless you.”

“God bless you,” she said.

It didn’t seem like enough: a couple bucks and a “God bless you,” so I asked her, “Do you have a place to stay tonight?”

“Well, last night I slept at the table outside the Dominicks.”

My heart crumbled.

I chatted with her for a minute, asking if she knew about PADS (our local homeless shelter). She did. I asked if she knew where the shelter was going to be tonight. She did.

Then she took my empty cart and disappeared.

I thought about her as I drove home. I prayed for her. I wondered if I should have offered her a ride (pretty sure the answer to that one was yes).

And I thought about my husband, always ready with some bills when others would simply shrug off the everyday assaults of the city.

Some would even scorn those who would dare beg for money.

I’ve scorned. In my heart I know I have looked with disdain on those who don’t get a “real job.”

But for some reason, as I prayed for the woman who loves America but has fallen on hard times, I thought something else: she has as much right to receive mercy as I do.

It’s a hard choice, some days, to be a mercy-giver. We think people should earn it. We think that mercy belongs to people who look like us or who work as hard as we do or who believe the same things we believe.

We think we have a right to dispense mercy to those we judge deserving.

We think we have a right to judge. Period.

But mercy knows no color, no social standing, no economic importance.

Mercy just gives.

And gives.

And gives.