Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The new Patio

I have this pretty small yard. It is about 13 x 16 feet. A sidewalk runs along the right side of it and the yard is elevated from that.

Concrete up against the house, then some dirt, then more concrete. It's an odd patchwork. I think the concrete further away from the house was put there by Jim's dad when they had hunting dogs. Now it is just a concrete flat area.

The dirt/grass area used to have huge bushes that took up the whole area. When we moved in, Jim tore them all out and laid down fresh dirt and turf. For a couple months we had a really swell plot of grass.

I remember one night after he just did that we were out back and we lay down in the grass to feel the fresh sprouts and we looked up in the sky and saw the stars. I can still remember the feeling of the grass thru my fingertips.

That all died out and it has been a fight with weeds and grass and other stuff until finally I decided enough was enough. I was going to put in pavers and make it into a patio area.

I started digging the dirt up and didn't know quite what to do with it. My neighbors helped. They took buckets and buckets for their gardens. Then came the stone, sand and setting the pavers in. Two friends came over to help me out with this project and it was a project. A shout out to them for helping...I couldn't have done it without them. We started at 7am and ended at 8pm. There was a short break in the hot afternoon, but it was pretty solid work.

It is done, but I am still doing some cleaning and decluttering of things that are in the yard, so it is not "finished". I was able to cook some hot dogs out there yesterday though. I want to clean it up and add a couple movable garden pots to spice it up with some color. It will be nice with some lights and such. I am enjoying the spot.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 29 2011

I had the whole weekend planned out and it seemed to work.

Sunday May 29th. Four years since we lost Jim. Four years.

I spent saturday with some friends at our local cinema club annual cookout. I hadn't gone in awhile but decided to go and be around friends. No one really remembered which made me sad, but instead, I remembered how much Jim always enjoyed going to the meetings and hanging out with our friends.

Most of sunday the 29th was spent in bed reading, napping, playing with the new kitty and watching tv on the couch with the dog. I can't believe I slept as much as I did, but my body must have needed it. I was a bit sad and very lonely and feeling lost in my own house.

Today was hot. I don't do well with heat and I get exhausted very quickly. When I say hot, I am talking 96 degrees. Nope. I didn't go out until about 7pm and then got so sweaty it wasn't even funny. Today was more a clean up around the house and relax some more. I was relaxing in a different way.

Widows have been calling the anniversary of a death, a demarc day. I think I was stressed this week before Jim's demarc day and now that it is past, I am feeling a bit better. At least not so stressed.

I received a nice note from a friend telling me that he was remembering Jim but couldn't remember the exact date and he was sorry for that. He talked about how he had a keen way of making folks laugh. I like that. He did have a way of making people laugh and a sense of humor that was quite unique.

Jim I am not looking forward to starting year four without you. I have tried these long years and longer nights to keep going, to make new dreams and to see life in a way that would allow me to know you are with me, even though you are gone. Strength is really tough sometimes and this roller coaster ride that is called life throws loops and turns and makes me scream and laugh and it was a lot more fun when you were in the seat beside me. You know how I hate those rides.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Digging, digging and finding

Last week I started a project I had been planning for several months. Digging up my yard and putting in a patio.

For months I have been measuring, reviewing, reading how to articles and researching prices at retail stores, concrete/stone sellers and online.

I have a space that is about 8' x 9'. It is bordered on three sides by concrete. I decided that I didn't want to fight weeds and grass cutting anymore. I would put some pavers down and make it into a backyard patio.

I talked to several relatives that thought it was a great idea and several contractors, all of them asked "why not just concrete it also". Well, because that is not the look I am looking for. I may even stain the back area of concrete to match the pavers. I laughed when my neighbor Rebecca came to help me a couple days ago. I was explaining it to her and she said "oh, they are just saying that because they are men(and they were!) she said that women want something pretty - not something like a parking lot.

That's it exactly.

Mother Nature is not helping much. I thought I could get it done this week but it looks like the thunderstorms will keep me from it.

Pictures to follow!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


10 years ago I lost my Mom. It was on May 8th. It wasn't Mother's Day, but today, May 8th the 10 years after she died it is.

I miss my Mom. I talk to her sometimes and hope that she is still guiding me as she did so well. She was a good Mom and I didn't appreciate her half as much as I should have.

She was a stay at home mom (as they are called today). She had four children and all were four years apart. There is a fifth that was still born. A brother that was never named and I am not even sure when he was born. I need to ask my sister about that.

My mom was great with us as kids and should have been a teacher. Instead she just taught us. Arts and crafts, cooking, sewing, gardening, the joy of reading and how to be strong. That was most important. She was a stay at home mom but she was not a woman that let my dad make all the calls. That is another thing she taught me. To stand equal with my husband, to communicate and to live and love together.

She didn't work at a job - but she was involved in many groups and events in our community. The Garden Club, the after school program, the swim club, the women's club at church, Sunday school and others. I remember her as a strong leader in all of those groups and she was a role model for us children when we went out into the world. I didn't join the garden club, but when I worked I worked well and my employers saw that. I quickly became a manager and the person in charge. I attribute that to my mom as role model.

Mom was very creative. She helped us kids with school projects but then she got into it herself. For Halloween she loved to dress up. I remember one year she had our front porch done up and she was dressed like a witch. She opened the door to this very small girl (maybe 4?)in angel wings and didn't even say anything. The girl took one look at mom and screamed (that high pitch that only little girls can reach) and ran back down the stairs to her parents.

One Halloween when my brother was in kindergarten my mom built the Great pumpkin. She used chicken wire and paper mache' and had it on our front porch. My brother's kindergarten class walked down the street to see it. The teacher loved it and brought other classes down. We lived in a small town and school was just two blocks up the hill. Oh, and yes, we walked there up the hill in the snow.

As mothers do, mom used to tell us "listen to me, I know what I am talking about and I don't want you to make the mistakes I did". When I went thru my twenties, I laughed at that and went on doing what I thought was right and making mistakes. When I was 28, I had an ephiany and called her. I said "Mom, you were right. I should have listened to you." She loved that and told it was okay, I could start listening now.

Mom was a good cook but for some reason it is not her good cooking it is remembered but my dad's cooking and my mom's bad cooking. I don't like that. At family gatherings now people talk about how mom burned this and burned that while my dad cooked a leg of lamb to perfection. Well, I speak up and tell them I remember the awesome turkey my mom would cook on Thanksgiving and her meatball recipe that is perfect and I use today. She had German and Pennsylvanian Dutch cooking from her grandmother. Good food. I remember my mom using the crockpot a lot. When she passed, it was one thing of hers that I got and it makes me comforted to use it now.

Mom wrote something once, in her later years, that was for us four kids. It was a few lines about each of us. About me she wrote -
Betts -
Third child.
Born natural childbirth
When she was born I thought no one else had ever had a child.
Was creative, artistic and a writer, drawing and won prize in NY State for a sculpture for school.
When she was six she wrote and illustrated a book about horses.
Became First Class in Girl Scouts
Loved dogs and taught our dog Prince lots of tricks when she was just 13. She had patience with him.
Hotwalked polo ponies at the polo games. Did it for weeks out of love of horses before she realized others were and she could get paid for it.
Attended college and wrote for newspaper. Became Editor.
In her career she is managing people.

She wrote in a similar fashion about my siblings also, tracing her thoughts about us from their birth (my sister - born while father was in college, a great joy to us and my brother - He came early, only weighed 4lbs 10oz)

The top of the page said "The Joys of my Life" It still makes me cry when I read it and I have read it many times.

I miss you Mom. And I thank you for all that you taught me in so many things and in so many ways.