Friday, April 22, 2016

Unite? I'd Love To!

I'm very excited to again this week (after quite an absence on my part) to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at is "unite". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

I have really missed participating in the 5 Minute Friday weekly writes so I was really looking forward to participating today. Until I saw the word. Unite.

Do I write honestly? From the heart? Or do I fake it and compose a post that doesn't at all represent what this word brings to mind?

I'm going with the honest, from-the-heart post. Warning: You may want to stop reading right now. This post may contain some (well, maybe more than that) whining, griping, and complaining.

To be united to something, I believe, a person has to have some sort of meaningful connection. Oh how I long to be united -- connected in a significant way -- to other people who share my interests and with whom I could spend time, go out to eat, talk about writing or books or life.

In fact, my greatest sorrow -- what causes me the most pain -- is that, other than my connection with my son and daughter, I'm not united with anyone or any group in any real, tangible way.

At work, my colleagues and I are either in the classroom or in our offices (meeting with students, grading papers, or preparing for class) or attending this or that meeting. I occasionally go out for a quick lunch or tea/coffee with one of two ladies I teach with, but other than that -- nada. They live in various parts of the city, spread out and busy with their own families and friends, and even when I lived just across the river, my female colleagues and I gathered outside work only one evening every month or two.

I attend church, but because of my current work schedule, I can't attend a small group. I walk into our large sanctuary every weekend, alone, past families and groups of people I don't know, groups busy chatting and laughing. I sit alone, I worship alone, I leave alone.

Don't get me wrong. I have acquaintances. But they're busy with their jobs, husbands, children, grandchildren. All of the connections I had -- the friendships I had -- faded away with my own personal "perfect storm" -- a move 50 minutes away from "home" just as my youngest began her Junior year in high school (hard to make new friends in a rural area when I was commuting elsewhere to work), 2 job changes in 10 years, connections to parents through our son's sports activities evaporated when he left for college, my husband's passing, my move to the city -- 2 hours away from home.

I've sought connections with other writers. No luck. I've attended conferences and met some fantastic ladies ------ from North Carolina and South Caroline and . . . well, 1/2-way across the country.

Oh, I've made new acquaintances. But every person I've met or who I've reconnected with is busy . . busy with their already-friends, their husbands and children and grandchildren, their lives.

United? Connected? I'd love to be. I'm not.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Home Sweet to-be Remodeled Home

I’m feeling very decadent. Through a set of fairly complicated circumstances, I currently have two homes.

It’s not a case of purchasing a new home before selling the old one.

For the past 14 months, I have been living in the adorable home my son bought last January in preparation for moving back home this June to practice medicine.

Knowing I needed to be out of this house by mid-June and not wanting to rent, I began looking for a house of my own almost a year ago because I knew that finding what I wanted was going to prove difficult. And I was right.

You see, I was looking for a small — as in only 1 or, at the most, 2-bedroom — home in a “good” neighborhood. My dear realtor-friend Connie agreed with me that my search might be a long and fruitless one, but I was hopeful.

Last March, I approached a woman who I knew owned a vacant and very small, very cute house that I’ve always admired. She explained that the house is part of her company’s property and that it is highly unlikely that she and her sons would ever take that house out of the corporation and sell it. She took my name and number, though, and said she’d keep me in mind if the situation ever changed.

In February, she contacted me. When she identified herself, my heart began to race. I just knew she was calling me about the little house I wanted so badly. She quickly took care of that notion by informing me that she had recently inherited a 2-bedroom house and that she was giving me first dibs on purchasing it.

Located just where I want to live — within walking distance of the city library, both city parks, the University, and the downtown area with its eclectic shops and restaurants, the house sounded intriguing, so we arranged for her to show it to me the next day.

I liked the house very much and saw potential in it, and the current owner and I quickly came to an agreement.

Fortunately, nothing needs to be done to the house; the roof is 18 months old, and the siding was put on just 2 years ago. A new high-efficiency furnace was installed 3 years ago, and the A/C unit is also fairly new. The previous owner, a 94-year old widow with an active lifestyle to the day she passed away, took excellent care of her home.

That said, I created a list of things I want to do: tear out the wall between the living room and one bedroom to create an open living & dining room; convert the tub to a tub with shower and put in a new bathroom vanity; move the washer and dryer upstairs to the kitchen and “hide” them behind cabinet doors; tear out the cabinets and use open shelving above the new cabinets; put in a new electric box and convert from a gas stove to electric; and paint the walls, remove the carpet, and have the hardwood floor “repaired” to fix the spot where the to-be-removed wall now stands.

I’ve had so much fun! Super-planner that I am, I measured the rooms and all my furniture a month go. I drew out the house plan on graph paper (1 sq = 1’), cut appropriately-sized graph paper rectangles and squares to represent my furniture, and color-coded them by room with hi-liters.

I happily “removed the wall” between the living room and bedroom and “rearranged furniture” time and again.

I created a “New Home Wants” board on Pinterest and have been pinning paint colors and kitchen cabinet ideas and other small-home ideas.

The more I’ve played around with the layout and collected specific ideas, the more confident I've become that this house will fit my needs and can almost-perfectly satisfy my wants.

Now it’s time to schedule the electrician and handyman for walk-throughs and estimates of schedules and costs. An exciting time ahead, to be sure, as I create my perfect little home.

What about you? What would be your dream home? Tiny, small, huge? Old or new? How would the rooms be arranged? How would you decorate? I hope you’ll share details via a comment.