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Home Sweet Home

Or is it? I mean, is it sweet when the door rots? The pool leaks? The ac unit screams because your vaulted ceilings are killing it? How about when the ants band together on rainy days and head indoors for a spell? The roof shingles split because there’s no shade and the Florida sun is brutal?

you can almost here them...

I think I’m ready for a condo. Some place on the water would be nice, second floor, so I don’t have to worry about floods. Keep it roomy but not too roomy–less space means less cleaning. Pest control, lawn maintenance, building repairs are all taken care of by someone with patience and a smile. (Love them.) The dues can be hazardous but shoot, by the time you consider your maintenance and repair expenses, the headaches and stress, I think condo living might come out ahead!

I could write and relax. I’d pull into my driveway without my husband noticing all the things that need to be done. It would be like living on constant vacation! The family could relax on the weekends with no grass to cut, chlorine to adjust, weeds to pull…

Oh, right. The weeds. I wouldn’t have my garden. There’d be no space. I could join a community garden but then I’d have to drive. (Ugh, the traffic.) With no compost pile to support, my sense of “green living” would dull. I’d feel guilty wasting all those kitchen scraps. Think of the naturally-fertilized dirt I’d lose!

lettuce for lunch

Hmph. (Can you tell I’ve had a rough weekend?)

Glancing around, I fight the urge to run. Perhaps I should reconsider. Responsibility isn’t all bad. Annoying, but at least I have room to roam when I feel like running. Space to spread out, plant some veggies, a welcome mat for the dog…

Maybe obligations aren’t so bad. I’m whining, I know. I mean, I do so enjoy strolling to the garden for a pluck of fresh leaves for lunch. Sitting on the back patio, taking in the kids and their friends swimming and laughing. My husband does look good on a tractor. 😉

Take a deep breath, Dianne. Everything’s okay. How about you? What do you do when your weekend is lost to chores?

DIY, oh why, oh why?

Last week, I had to drag myself away from the final edits on Always Remember, set aside the final revisions on Terms of Surrender, and perform my wifely duties.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks. 🙂

You see, I married a DIY guy. He’s good with his hands, looks great in his tool belt, and is willing to tackle any project, large or small. Together we’ve built two houses, doing most of the work ourselves, and tackled numerous home renovations…all without killing each other.

DIY 2013-1

However, I’m always a little bit reluctant, while he’s always gung-ho for the next project and the next challenge.

I once worked with a woman who did all of her own home repairs and maintenance. She had a knack for hammers and skill saws and pipe wrenches and tape measures.  If there was a kitchen tap in need of repair or a new shelving unit to be mounted to the wall, she knew how to do the job. Man, was I envious.

I have no building or mechanicals skills at all. Give me a computer and a program or app, and I can do anything. Give me a hammer and a toolbelt and a pipe wrench and…well, let’s just say if I had to hang a bookshelf on my own, it would be crooked. And the moment someone placed an object on it, it would fall off the wall.

So how do my DIY guy and I work together?

DIY-2013-2He’s the general contractor and I generally follow his orders.

I’m the go-fer gal – go for the hammer, get more nails, go pick up paint – while he’s the one that measures and cuts and makes sure our home projects are sturdy and straight.

I’m also the manual laborer – lift this stone, hold that piece of gyproc against the ceiling, bring another wheelbarrow of sand or dirt – and after the last few days, I’ve got the muscles and the bruises to prove I can do it.

DIY-2013-3

Yet despite nearly 40 years of hanging out with my DIY guy, I’m still unable to hang a picture by myself.

How about you? Are you a Do-It-Yourself person, tackling your own home projects and maintenance projects, or do you call a guy or maybe call a girl? This exhausted girl wants to know. 🙂

Dog vs. House

Life with dogs can be very challenging and very rewarding. As many of you know, we have two rescue mutts, Hershey and Snickers. They have been with us for five years and our lives are much better because we found each other.Hershey

We recently went on vacation without them for ten days. It was a very quiet and lonely ten days, even though our whole family was together. Every night, my husband and I would get into bed and wish our dogs were with us. What can I say…we love our dogs!Snickers

I was walking the dogs the other day and ran into a neighbor who has a new black lab puppy. He was telling me about the chewing their dog had done and I started to think about the way our dogs have made our home theirs in the last five years. The more I thought, the longer the list got.

The most obvious marking is from Hershey where she lays on our dining room chairs tucked beneath our table. It’s her cave dining room tableand she can be found there during most daylight hours. See how she’s marked up the table with her claws? Thankfully, I discovered a fix (3/4 cup canola oil and ¼ cup vinegar) and I can hide the scratch marks as soon I can get her out.

The pom-pom pillow fringe lasted longer than I expected. They only recently started chewing on those—I think mostly when we are out of town.Pillow

They’ve chewed on the dining room hutch.Hutch

The world’s most comfortable couch (see the paw…I believe Snickers is to blame for this one).Couch

The most recent and maddening is the back door screen. We recently (as in within the last week) had the screen replaced where they’d torn it to bits during another one of our out of town trips. During the ripped screenperiod, Snickers figured out to open the door by poking her paws inside the screen and pulling on the wood. When the new screen went up, she decided to take matters into her own paws and clawed another hole.

This, my friends, is the price we pay for having dogs. Dog lovers will understand. Non-dog lovers won’t believe we let our furry friends destroy our homes. To us, a house is not a home without a few dog marks. Let me know about your worst offenders when you get a chance.

Location Location Location …

This past weekend, my siblings and I took our mom shopping. No, we didn’t head down to the mall. Nothing that conventional. And we didn’t hit the grocery store, either. Far too boring.  Instead, we headed to the local cemetery to buy a plot of land.

For those of you who haven’t been following this blog, on November 28th, 2009, my dad passed away. My mom, unable to part with him, purchased a beautiful urn-for-two which she keeps on her bedside table so she can talk to him at night. But now my mom has decided it’s time to pick out their final resting spot.

And it’s all about location.

Of course, there’s criteria to be met. Dad had mentioned – repeatedly – that in the afterlife, he didn’t want his feet wet. Because he was an early riser, Mom thought the plot should face east. And finally, it was important to live in a neighbourhood with a few of Dad’s friends and co-workers close by so he would have someone to visit.

For an hour, we wandered through the cemetery, reading names and dates on headstones, with Mom pointing out the headstones belonging to people Dad knew. When we’d seen who lived in each neighbourhood, we got down to the nitty gritty of the landscape. Slope of the land, view from the plot, and the general appearance of the surrounding area.

In the older neighbourhoods, the ground had settled and several of the headstones were crooked. Now, to give you an idea of how exacting my mother is, my BIL once claimed that my mom said to my dad: “Don, move the house. It’s a quarter of an inch off center.” Which meant we kept on browsing until we found a lovely section with a sidewalk-like foundation for the headstone to stand on.

Bingo. We’d found the right neighbourhood. Now all we had to do was pick the site.

At this point, we decided it was time to check on availability and price. While we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of the plots, the lack of availability indicated this was a tight market.

In the end, we narrowed the choice down to a beautiful area with a park bench for visitors, flowerbeds filled with trees and bushes, good drainage for heavy rain or melting snow, and even some wildlife nearby … a stone statue of a deer at rest on the ground.

It promises to be a quiet neighbourhood filled with old friends – and I imagine – quite a few new ones, too. It will be handy to the children, an important consideration if you want frequent visitors. And above all, when both of my parents move into the great unknown, it will be the last piece of land they will ever have purchased.

If you had to pick out your final resting spot today, what kind of location do you imagine you would choose?

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