Tuesday, December 30, 2003

My Front Porch

It's Official!  I have a front porch!  And I must say that it's the most beautiful porch I have ever seen anywhere!  Even my mailman thinks so.  He told me so when he stopped by on his route today.  It took my son two and a half weeks to build it, but it was worth all the aggravation we went through and every penny we spent.  Transforming this house into a home has been quite an adventure for me.  It's been very expensive, time consuming, frustrating and even painful at times.  But it has also been very exciting, satisfying, educational and down right fun and enjoyable, too.  It was a great opportunity to explore my artistic side, test my limits and impress my family and friends.  I amazed myself too, which was even bigger challenge.  But more than that, much more, was the fact that I got to work with my son the entire time.  It gave me the opportunity to really get to know him and to actually see for myself what kind of man my little boy grew up to be.  A wonderful man.  Honest, hard working, loving, smart, responsible and independent.  A fine craftsman.  Everything I had ever hoped that he would be.  I couldn't be any prouder of him.  I hope that he also got a better understanding of what kind of woman his mother really is, too.  I'm going to miss him now that he won't be here everyday, but I'll be enjoying his work  for as long as we live in this house.  There isn't one room that my son hasn't remodeled in some way.  I look forward to working with him again, and I hope we can start renovating again in the spring or early summer.

In the meantime, Ray and I will get the chance to really start living our lives together.  We have a lot of memories to make and I'm eager to get started.  I know it won't be easy. It never is and I wouldn't want it to be.  Like this house, great things take time and hard work.  Only then can you really enjoy them.  But we'll be together, Ray and I.  Through thick and thin... for better or worse.  Do I hear bells or is that just the sound of the new year coming in?  Don't touch that dial!  Happy New Year everyone!  

Monday, December 29, 2003

No peeking!

It's 7pm on Monday night.  The porch... my porch... the most magnificent porch ever created... is done!  We worked so hard today, but we still have to power wash everything.  I am covered with brown paint cause I painted the cement walls below the siding while Joe framed the lattice under the porch.  Then we had to drag about 50 plastic trash bags to the curb as tomorrow is trash day.  They were filled with all of the left over pieces of wood and building debris.  No one bag could weigh over 50 pounds so we couldn't put much in them.  Since I have to work midnight shift at the hospital tonight, I have to take a quick nap before I go in.  I'll take pictures tomorrow.  Without spoiling anything... let me just say that this porch was worth every minute we spent trying to get the permit, every hour Joe took to build it, and every penny it cost us!  Of all the exciting and happy days that I will ever have in my entire life, this will definitely be one I'll remember.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

The suspense is killing me!

Let's see... where was I?  I think it was the night before Christmas...  The new front porch wasn't ready by Christmas Day, in fact the steps weren't even finished.  But... everything will be done by Monday night.  Joe is going to install the lattice under the porch, paint the lower part of the cement wall below the siding, and power wash the porch, the stone walls and the driveway.  We will have to stop renovating for a few months and start paying off some of the loans.  In the meantime I've been learning a lot about leaking basements. We've had two estimates from water proofing companies so far.  At this point, I am only sure of one thing.  I never, ever want to have another basement.  For the rest of my life.  Even after that.  I'm am now going to be cremated.  I had agonized over that decision for many years but Ray helped me make up my mind in just one week.  Thanks, honey!

Christmas was wonderful.  Even though we didn't have a tree. Or Christmas lights.  Or stockings hanging by the chimney with care.  Oh... but we will next year!!  I went to a few really great After-Christmas Sales on Friday.  50-70% off all Christmas decorations.  Ray didn't like the ones that I had.  So I bought us dozens of new ones!  I didn't really save us a lot of money.  I was just able to buy a lot more stuff!  I can hardly wait until next Christmas!  I'm hoping that everything will be finished by then.  We want to add on a new dining room and completely redo the kitchen.  Ray wants to tear out the fireplace and put in a new one.  I want to have the hard wood floors re-sanded and polished.  Joe wants to put on 3 more decks.  Not porches... decks.  And we'd like to paint the driveway and get new carpeting.  I might even try to make my childhood dream of digging a tunnel to China come true.  Only kidding about the tunnel.  My only dilemma now is:  Should I keep up my Journal after we finish the porch next week or stop writing until we start renovating again?  I did want to keep my subject pure and focused...  Even though I have never been pure and focused about anything before...  Hmmm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I know who's getting coal...

Sometimes we just have to wait for things.  I never did like hearing that.  From my parents or anyone else.  I've had lots of practice waiting for things over the years but it never gets any easier.  My son Joe went to a friend's Christmas Party on Sunday night and had a bit too much to drink, leaving him with a memorable hangover.  So even though Monday was a beautiful, warm and sunny day he was too sick to come over and work on the porch.  It was supposed to be finished today.  I was going to rush home from work to sit on my new front porch, take some pics of it and then run into the house to post them here in my Journal, to share them with anyone who was interested in looking at them.  The porch will never be finished by Christmas Eve now.  Even if Joe works on the porch all day tomorrow, he still has to go back to Home Depot to buy the lattice for under the deck.  He hasn't even cut the frames for the steps yet.  I'm sure he isn't planning on working at all on Wednesday or Thursday, so I guess the most I can hope for is Friday.  I know he's young and he deserves to have all the fun he can have.  He works hard and he's a good kid.  A man really.  And he has to do all the hard parts.  Work out in the cold.  He has no one to help him most of the time and he never complains.  His carpentry skills are awesome.  But damn it!  I wanted this porch so much!  I know I'm still going to get it but I wanted it for Christmas!  Couldn't he just get drunk on New Year's Eve after the porch was finished?  Maybe there's a lesson here for me to learn.  I'm sure Christmas is really about giving to others... not about wanting things for yourself.  It's about seeing the beauty in spiritual things not just material ones.  It's about giving and sharing and realizing what's really important in life.

THERE!  I LEARNED IT!  NOW FINISH THAT PORCH!  AND I HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!  HO-HO-HO!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It's beginning to look a lot like... a porch!

It took 3 whole days for the stone cutters to finish the steps and make a landing below the front porch.  It's incredible to watch them work.  I have never seen anyone take so much time or pay so much attention to detail.  If they were building a staircase to heaven where the angels themselves would climb, they couldn't put anymore craftsmanship into it than they have for mine.  I am glad that these steps are so special because they will bring my most precious possessions to me many times.  My children, our families, and our friends.

Joe had an awful time spacing out the porch railing slats.  He too is a perfectionist, and each section had to be re-calculated as the measurements were slightly different.  He'll finish building the steps down from the deck tomorrow.  They will rest on the stone landing that the landscaper designed.  Joe is also going to install vinyl lattice under the porch to hide the dirt from the hill below.  We'll put down plastic and stones to keep weed growth to a minimum (which we should have done before we built the porch) but I still want it to be hidden from view.  The landscaper put in 4 electric lights beside the stone steps and many smaller lights that shine upwards to accent the tress and shrubs.  They are all on a timer and will automatically turn themselves on and off at dusk and dawn.  Joe is going to put deck lighting on all the porch posts, but we probably won't do that until the spring.  Everything looks so beautiful already, I can hardly wait until tomorrow!  I'm so excited I may even have trouble sleeping tonight!  I should be able to put up the pictures of my finished porch by Christmas Eve!  This is the best present I could ever, ever get!

As hard as it was to tear myself away the past few days, I managed to get out there and do some Christmas shopping.  As a matter of fact, I only have a few small items to get later this afternoon.  Now all I have to do is get them wrapped...

Friday, December 19, 2003

Good thing Santa wears boots!

It was f-f-freezing here in Jersey today.  How people work out in the cold all winter long is beyond me.  I could never do it.  I hate just walking to the car.  The porch is really coming along.  The landscaper sent out two stone cutters today and they broke through the EP Henry stone wall that they had previously constructed to begin work on the steps that will lead up to the porch.  Those guys are artists in every sense of the word.  They measure, design, choose stones, dig, lay, cut, glue, and level every single brick.  What they create is not only breath taking, but I'm sure it will last for eternity.  Unfortunately, they weren't the ones who originally constructed this house.  The basement is still leaking and I think it will continue right into the spring.  Every two hours we have to trudge down there to suck up more water with the wet vac and lay down dry towels to keep it from getting out of control.  I put down some old newspapers I got from the 7-11 store on my way home from work tonight, but I'm sure they'll only last a few hours. I'll have to call a basement water proofing company to give me an estimate, although I hate having to spend money on something so... boring and unexciting.  But... we really have no other choice.  I don't even know where to start but I guess I'll learn...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Can you finance a bedspread?

Today was rainy and cold.  My son wasn't able to do any work on the front porch.  Since Ray and I were both off as well, I had planned to get up early and be at the mall by 7am where I thought JC Penny's was having a 50% Off Sale... on everything.  I have never in my life been confused, even remotely, with a morning person, so it was no suprise when I couldn't get out of bed.  I was shopping by 11:45 though.  I was disappointed to find that the sale was only on all the items advertised in the booklet, not everything in the store.  I know I was supposed to be Christmas shopping but they had a bedspread that I just knew Ray would like, and that's not an easy thing to find.  It was so expensive though.  The king-size quilt alone was $420!  Even if it was 50% off, the price would have been devastating.  For that kind of money I would expect the threads to be hand woven by celestial virgins on the highest mountain of Tibet, under a clear, midnight sky with only the light of burning candles made from the purest bees wax collected by Ponce DeLeon himself on one of his adventures to sew by, while neighboring villagers sang ancient hymns and danced wildly along the banks of a raging river as a 120 year old wise man drew the patterns on each and every individual quilt. By hand.  If not... I don't think I want to pay any more than $100.  Ray didn't think so either so we continued shopping.  He took me to Strawbridges next, even though I really didn't expect to find any bargains there.  The sweaters were wonderful.  We got 2 for his mother and at least 4 for me.  Plus a pair of Jones Of New York pants... the only designer label that has ever excited me.  There were no lines in that store and you could get as many boxes as you wanted right at the register!  It may have been a bit more expensive but I think it was worth it.  I would say that even if I wasn't using Ray's credit cards.  After a quick lunch (a gourmet turkey sandwich fit for the Gods) we went back home to take turns sucking up the water in the basement with the wet vac and throwing down towels.  Now that's romantic!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I think we may be... waterfront!

The weather was so warm here in Jersey today that it melted all of the snow. Which then flooded my basement.  There is also a rather large brook across the street from us in the park. It's not close enough for us to hear it babbling, but it's apparently close enough for us to wade in it from time to time.  Without even leaving the house.  Ray was already at work when I discovered the flood.  Oh lucky him.  My son was busy building the porch and I wanted him to take advantage of the nice weather.  I guess it could have been worse.  Luckily, the many cardboard boxes that I had recently placed down there soaked up a lot of it.  All I had to do was empty them all out, dry off my stuff, transfer that stuff to new, dry boxes and then move the boxes to a higher and drier location.  Not everything was water damaged or ruined.  I can't tell you the relief I felt when I found that most of Ray's stuff was still dry.  His old bowling ball (he hasn't bowled in 10 years), his brand new, unused Marlboro sleeping bag (he has NEVER been camping), a plastic container with 3 old, stiff paint brushes stuck to the sides, one old boot from his last motorcycle accident, assorted automobile parts, and the poster sized wedding portrait of him and his ex-wife.  Oh how would I have told him if these items had been destroyed forever?  There was too much water to just mop it up so I had to run to Home Depot to but a wet/dry vac to suck it up.  I wasn't planning on this little expense.  Oh well.  To think I was wondering what I could get Ray for Christmas as a suprise.  It's a little early, but I'm sure he's gonna love it.  I bet he won't even mind that I had to open and use it before him either.  I had to hurry because I also had to get ready to go to work.  The walls keep leaking.  They are just oozing water.  It was pretty dark down there, but I could tell that it had leaked before.  There was an unmistakable smell of mildew.  I think there was black mold growing on the walls in some areas.  Probably toxic mold.  Fatal no doubt.  If I die before that porch is finished... Ray better bury me on the lawn NEXT to the porch.  And he better NOT ask Todd for a permit from the Zoning Department before he does it...

Monday, December 15, 2003

We passed!

The township inspector came out today and he approved our front porch frame!  My son started working on it right away.  Hopefully he'll be able to finish it within a week, if he doesn't run into any problems or bad weather.  I took a deep breath and a swig of Christmas Cheer and dove into the moving mess I made when I helped my daughters move out of their apartment a few weeks ago.  It was cluttered even before I moved my stuff in.  Now... it's a disaster area.  If the Governor dropped by for a visit I'm sure he'd declare it a state emergency.  But now I can see the couch.  We could answer the door if someone knocked, and have them come in and actually sit down.  They could even hang their coat up in the closet.  Oh!  I am making headway.  The upstairs living room is now even worse, but I'll eventually get there.  Sometimes it feels like I'm just moving the junk from room to room.  But each time the piles get smaller, and there are fewer and fewer boxes.  I doubt that I'll totally reach my goal of having the house to the point where I can invite the kids over for Christmas, but anything is possible.  I barely even started shopping yet and I keep getting interrupted to go to my job at the hospital.  But... the more money I make the more things we can do to the house.  Or at least start paying for the things that we've already done!  Ray says he'll drink to that!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

A porch by any other name...

The frame of our new front porch is finished.  It looks magnificent!  Although I have absolutely no sense of balance I climbed up onto the wooden beams last night, so I could remember what it feels like to have a front porch.  I haven't had one since I was a little girl.  My son Joe says that my porch doesn't really qualify as a porch because it won't have a roof over top of it.  He says it's actually more of a... deck.  Did I ever tell that kid that the Santa whose lap he eagerly climbed onto every year at the local mall when he was a little boy was really an unemployed transvestite looking to earn a little beer money?  I think not.  Well... whatever it is... it's mine and I'm calling it a porch.  I don't need a roof.  I guess it would be nice to sit out there during a rainstorm and not get wet.  Or sit in the shade sipping ice tea on a hot summer day.  And I suppose that I won't like shoveling the porch off after a snow storm or sweeping up the accumulation of leaves every week in the fall.  But if we decided that we wanted a roof on the porch we would definitely need to apply for a variance from the township.  Besides... the new shingles wouldn't match the old ones and it would cost a lot more money to build it.  Since we're being so honest here, I have to admit that I can't even find the time to bring in the newspaper let alone sit out on the porch sipping ice tea or watching it rain.  Oh, I'd love to be able to say that I would be doing things like that... but I  wouldn't.  If it snows all I need is a trail wide enough to make it out to the car and back to the house.  And now that I can handle a leaf blower like a cattle rustler, a few piles of leaves every week don't scare ME.  Like I said... I don't need a roof.  I am going to be thrilled to death with my new front porch just the way we designed it.  Once the township sends someone out on Monday to inspect the frame, Joe says that the porch will be finished by the end of the week.  This will be my best Christmas present ever!  I might even leave old Santa a beer and a pair of pantyhose out on the porch!  Ho-ho-ho!

 

Friday, December 12, 2003

Too busy for Christmas?

Sometimes I get so involved in things that I become almost oblivious to everything else that is going on around me.  I just realized that in less than 2 weeks it will be Christmas.  I haven't even started shopping.  As a matter of fact I haven't even withdrawn the money from my Christmas Club account yet.  If it wasn't for my 3 foot plastic Santa, there would be no inkling around here that the holidays were upon us.  This has never happened to me before.  How could anyone be too busy for Christmas?  I actually designed my last house around my Christmas decorations.  I chose the new custom made windows for Ray's house with the holidays in mind.  Our very first major disagreement involved my plastic, light up Santa.  When I first saw Ray's fireplace all I could think about were stockings hanging there on Christmas Eve.  Yet here I sit without so much as an idea of where to start.  I better get out there.  Hope I never have to plan a wedding or anything with a time constraint.  They'd be sweeping up the rice before I even picked out the invitations.  Ho-ho-ho.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

On My Front Porch

Before I start... I'd like to wish my son Joe, a very happy 25th birthday today!  He's the best son a Mom could have and he deserves the best!

While Joe was digging the footers this morning, Ray and I went over to the Township to pick up the Permit to build our new front porch.  To me, the front porch is where everything important in life really starts.  Everyone should have one.  It's where friends and family knock when they come for a visit.  Where neighbors walk by and wave hello.  It's where you both smile and blush when someone sends you flowers and where cats take long naps in the sun.  The front porch is the place to enjoy both Trick-or-Treaters and Christmas Carolers alike.  There will be flower baskets and Eastwe Egg Hunts on my porch in the spring,  flags waving proudly on the 4th of July, lightening bug and butterfly catching in the summer, Halloween pumpkins glowing in the fall, Christmas decorations twinkling in December and snowman building in the winter.  It's where Ray and I will hold hands by candlelight late into summer evenings.  Where my kids and I will sit, laugh and talk till the wee hours of many mornings to come.  It's where I'll hold my grandbabies tight and rock them to sleep.  And the first place that Ray will pick me up and carry me over when we come home from our Honeymoon someday.  Yes... there's a lot of love and many memories waiting to happen out there on that porch.  And I just can't wait to start!

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

There's No Place Like Home

Sometimes things just fall into place.  I'm sure it's accidental, and hardly ever happens, but when it does... it feels SO good.  The Township called to let me know that the permit for my front porch has been approved.  Most of the snow melted today, and the rest of the week will be warm, so my son will have perfect weather to begin building.  While we were waiting Joe and I painted the master bedroom walls and trim and took down the old, mangled metal venetian blinds on the windows.  We replaced them with soft white honeycomb shades.  I even rearranged the furniture and hung my 'Gone With the Wind' framed movie poster above the bed.  Everything is warm, clean and fresh.  It's starting to look like a woman lives here again.  ME.  I think I may actually be falling in love with this house now.  Ray's house.  OUR house.  And I'm starting to feel like I'm finally... home.

Monday, December 8, 2003

The Last Frontier

It took me all weekend, but I finally cleaned out Ray's bedroom.  I am no doubt permanently traumatized, but I survived.  I had to do most of it while he was at work on Saturday and watching the football game with friends on Sunday.  I foolishly attempted to coerce him into helping me go through his drawers on Saturday night, but he had a story behind and a reason to keep every piece of junk in that room.  I soon realized that with him assisting me, we'd never finish.  Even after he returned home from watching the game, he started poking around the trash bags I had filled.  "You didn't throw away anything important, did you, honey?", he asked me numerous times.  "Nope", I answered truthfully.  Unless of course he thinks he'll need more than 20 pairs of shoe laces, 500 packets of eyeglass cleaner, 16 rolls of dental floss, about $2 in Mexican money, hundreds of batteries in assorted sizes, and thousands of rolls of film...  But I guess he DOES think that or he wouldn't have saved them all in the first place.  The scary part is that he knows exactly what he has and where it is.  At least he DID know.  Now... we'll be like every other normal couple who is in an extremely happy, fully satisfying, and totally committed relationship.  HE won't be able to find a damn thing... without asking ME first. 

Sunday, December 7, 2003

All I want for Christmas....

'Todd' kept me waiting in the zoning office for 20 minutes when I went to see him.   He was busy denying someone else's permit, no doubt. Suddenly... there he was.  The man who had occupied most of my thoughts for the past 2 months.  He didn't look evil.  In fact, he was hardly more than a boy.  Probably half my age.  But he held the future of my front porch in his hands.  I didn't know whether to kiss his ring or smack his little face.  He told me that if I was planning on "just replacing the rotted wood from the old porch, and using the pre-existing footers", then he would approve the plans.  I was stunned.  Why couldn't he have done this for me 2 months ago?  I didn't feel guilty lying to him, because if his office had given the previous owners of Ray's house HALF the trouble they gave ME, then their old porch never would have been approved in the first place.  Actually, there are no pre-existing footers.  That's one of the reasons the porch was collapsing.  So I looked right into his baby blues and without ANY trace of hesitation I told him the lie he forced me to tell.  'Todd' approved my plans, and I almost danced down the hall to the next office where I now had to get approval from THEM.  The lady behind the counter assured me that HER office would approve the plans by Wednesday.  Then my son could start to build it.  Of course I'm not waiting until Wednesdy.  We have to get those cement footers into the ground before it freezes, and it's supposed to be warm all next week, despite this weather that we're having right now.  Ray's flight to Utah was canceled and he decided not to go skiing after all.  So we are going to tackle that bedroom.  It's completely filled with stuff... his, mine and ours.  Not to mention his ex's, my ex's, his ex's father's, my kids, the previous owner's...  But I now have a plan.  If we aren't going to use it REGULARLY, if it would cost us money to replace it if we didn't have it, if it doesn't make our lives easier or happier in some way, THEN OUT IT GOES.  I was going to do this while Ray was away... but I'll just have to do it with him here now.  Ray is no match for me.  Afterall... I had three kids!

Friday, December 5, 2003

Let It Snow! For about an hour!

It snowed last night and we woke up to find our house surrounded by a winter wonderland.  I have to admit it looks beautiful, even though I am not a big fan of snow.  But Ray is.  He is a skier... the 'extreme' kind.  Which means he will ski off the top of most any mountain regardless of the danger.  He's very good though, so I don't worry too much.  He once thought about trying out for the US Olympics.  Me?  I'm lucky if I can walk out to the car through the snow without slipping and breaking an arm or a leg.  Maybe even my own!  Taking a bath is enough danger for me.  Ray is going skiing with a friend tomorrow and he won't be back until late Tuesday night.  I am going to take this opportunity to finish the bedroom.  When you live with a pack rat your only hope of throwing anything out is when they are away.  And one of the days that he'll be gone is trash day!  How lucky can I get?  The exterior front lights were finally delivered and my son put them up yesterday.  They look great but I think 100 watts is a bit too bright.  The wood for the front porch is just sitting in the driveway all wet and covered with snow.  For a few minutes I fantasized that I had 'Todd' chained to that pile, freezing slowly in his underwear, trying to fend off stray cats and gophers.  I'm smiling at Christmas Carollers as I slowly roast 'Todd's' chestnuts on an open fire while he screams, "OK!  I'll give you the permit!  Build anything you want!  PLEASE!"  It was so... gratifying!  I guess we shouldn't have had that wood delivered before we were sure the township would approve the plans.  But I think I'm starting to wear 'Todd' down...  In fact I'm heading over there right now to see him.  Wish me luck! 

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Be afraid. Be... very afraid.

I have always loved trees, so it's been a pleasure living directly across the street from a park. But today was my first actual experience with raking leaves.  Before today I thought of this as a 'fall tradition enjoyed by those lucky enough to live among trees.'  I now realize that it's... a curse.  It's not colorful fall foliage dancing merrily to the ground, signifying the end of one life cycle and a prelude to the next.  Oh no.  It's Mother Nature having a temper tantrum throwing millions of tree droppings to the ground, reminding us that our work is never done, and the better your harvest the higher the price will be at the end of the season.  The Township where we live sends a truck out twice a year to vacuum up leaves that residents have raked into neat piles at their curbs, making it unnecessary to scoop them into plastic bags. No matter what else is going on in your life you have to take out time to go and rake up the leaves.  It's not a task for anyone with an anger management problem.  The leaves continue to fall as you rake them.  Just as you clear one area a gust of wind blows your neighbors leaves over onto your property.  Nor anyone with a Type A personality either.  You could easily become so immersed in such a raking frenzy, that before you knew it you'd find yourself on the other side of the State, still raking.  But... I found something in Ray's shed.  A very powerful, electric... leaf blower.  Once I got the hang of it, I was almost as powerful as Mother Nature herself.  Able to whisk piles of leaves away in a split second, corralling them like a cowboy rounding up his cattle.  I could even blow away dust and debris from the driveway!   Maybe this magical and mystical tool has other uses?!  I could open the hatch in my car and simply blow all the dust out the back instead of using the vacuum!  The house!  I could dust an entire room in seconds!  Direct it all to the front door, into the driveway and back into the park where it probably came from in the first place!  Yes!  I will finally be... the master of my domain!  I am like a Super Hero just coming out of a telephone booth.  Be afraid dirt.  Be... very afraid.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Cheap and Gaudy?

Ray and I have had our first serious difference of opinion.  He does not like my 3 foot, light-up plastic Santa that has been adorning every one of my entryways since all of my children have been toddlers.  He even went so far as to say that he thought my Santa was "cheap looking and gaudy."  Now this is the same man who has a pair of bright white plastic hands, palms open, on a base that sit on top of his TV to hold the remote control device.  Nothing cheap or gaudy THERE!  But I love Ray.  I'm trying to remember that he never had any children and he doesn't get all warm and fuzzy when it comes to any activities that involve Santa or any kind of stuffed animal.  Except for that teddy bear of his that I accidentally threw out!  We'll NEVER be able to forget THAT now, will we?  I have kept myself busy though.  The outside lights finally arrived and my son put them up for me today.  The wiring was screwed up (what a suprise) and it took us about 2 hours to get all three up and working but they look great!  It's actually so bright out there now that I don't even need to plug in my plastic Santa.  Ray said that he found him lying on the side of the house last night when he came home from work.  Sure.  Sure he did. "The wind must have blown him over", he told me.  So he picked him up and carried him into the house "for safekeeping."  I put him back out there tonight where he stands under those bright lights, ready to greet yet another Christmas with me.  This year he'll delight my baby grandson like he delighted my kids when they were small.

Only this time... I started a new tradition that I'm sure I'll continue each and every year from now on... I filled him with some bricks and tied him to the hose bib!  And when we finally build that porch he's gonna have at least 2 light up reindeer standing beside him! 

Ho-ho-ho! 

Monday, December 1, 2003

Deck The Halls!

My daughters moved completely out of their apartment over the weekend.  They are now living with a friend who already had furniture of her own so they really didn't need what I had.  Since Ray had his own furniture too, my bedroom, kitchen and living room stuff is now being stored in my ex-husband's garage.  It's odd really.  He got all of our marital furniture in the divorce, and now everything that I had to buy once I was living on my own is now with him, too.  If it wasn't for the fact that I was planning on giving that new furniture to the kids anyway, I think I would be having a major anxiety attack over this.  Not having to pay for a storage facility helps a little too, I suppose.  I did take all of the Christmas and holiday decorations, wall hangings, silk plants and flower arrangements back to Ray's house though.  I didn't want my ex's girlfriend to confiscate any important stuff like that.  Although I won't have to help the kids pay the bills anymore (which is a relief), now there is so much stuff piled up around here I have to make pathways for us to walk through.  I don't even know where to start.  I'd love to be able to hang my Christmas decorations around the fireplace, but I guess putting away all of this stuff so that we can get out of bed without tripping and go to the bathroom without climbing over boxes to get there would be more important...  Wouldn't it?  Yes.  It would.  I should just wait until next year to decorate.  But...  Christmas only comes once a year you know.  This mess will be here forever.  What's one more month?  What if I'm not even living next year?  Life is short they say.  Of course, my life might be even shorter if Ray comes home and sees that I just decided to decorate instead of putting my stuff away.  Then I'd never get to put my Christmas stuff up.  Hmmm....