Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dirt, Sweat and Sunburns on a Lanai

Yesterday morning I looked out at our lanai and was completely repulsed.

We had let it go for much of a year.

The dogs had tracked in dirt and sand from the backyard.

The profuse inundation of pollen in late winter left a film of yellow dust on every surface.

I was tired of actively apologizing to visitors who had the misfortune of happening upon this sad excuse of an outdoor space.

It was that bad. 

And it was daunting; it was easier not to look.

So, as Kelly and Michael began their playful banter, I started sweeping.

I swept.  And swept.  And swept.  

And the sand/pollen that I couldn't sweep into the dustpan, I sucked up with  my little stick vac (which  could very well be the best spent $14.99 at Walmart).

When I realized that I couldn't really get into the corners unless I moved the furniture, I started moving everything to the lawn.

And I continued to sweep.  I was covered in dirt and smelled like something the cat dragged in.

Then I brought out the power washer.   I power washed the sh*& out of that space.  I power washed the furniture outside.  I power washed until I had earned a blister.  

Five hours later I had a lanai with a floor you could eat off of.  Well...not really.  But close.

And a sunburn.  I  have no idea how this happened.

As I brought the furniture back in, I rearranged to make more room.  

The lanai faces the east which is perfect because it gets the morning sun.  Even on the hottest of summer days you can feel a sea breeze.  

It is a nice place to be...when it isn't totally disgusting.

My husband also got a bee in his bonnet this week about painting our front columns.  Again, this is the sort of thing that you don't realize is is bad until you have guests over...or you take a moment to look objectively.

I took over the painting and finished  this after noon.

Just thought I would add some pics today of my past two days:

The hoya loves its south location

Another hoya and a cactus orchid plant.

Christmas cactus

Another hoya flower

I just think the hoya flowers are so cool.  

A night cereus

Before painting.  Some cracks were patched last year...

After...big difference.

The view from the ladder.  

More Sally Holmes flowers today.

Sally Holmes

This little skink came and hung out with me as I painted.  I wished he was the brilliant blue and purple color...they can be so pretty (for a lizard).

Mimosa tree has flowers!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"The First Time," Eyes of Wonder, and Middle-Life Perspective

Yesterday, I spent the entire morning at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for my yearly mammogram.

I am a proud owner of a new toilet seat.
Ugh, I can't believe I am at that point in my life, either.

The radiologist took forever to read the images; I overheard they were having technical problems.  I sat in the waiting room for hours, acutely aware of my boredom.

My stomach was growling and I had exhausted all of the interesting magazines the office had provided.

I had a lot of time to think.

Lately, I have become aware that we are no longer a "young family."

I am (cue the *gasp*) middle aged.

Several recent and upcoming life events support this:

  • Our youngest turns six on Sunday.  My oldest turned 20 earlier this month.
  • I got really excited about the purchase of a new toilet seat at Lowe's.
  • I am getting mammograms (see above). 
  • I started taking a low-dose aspirin every day.  
  • We are proud inheritors of a timeshare (to my utter delight!).
  • Our conversations are often about our yard:  how good it is, how bad it is, and what we can do to improve it.  

Has the newness of life (new baby!  New house!  New car! New job!) worn off?  Is this what causes mid-life crises?

Now, I love to listen to podcasts.   

How is that for a non sequitur? Haha!

I listen to them daily as I am driving or doing housework.  

I enjoy the story telling and the interesting facts I learn from them.   

I love Ira Glass and the old standby of  "This American Life."   But I have branched out with Radiolab, Ted Radio Hour, Love + Radio, The Cracked Podcast, and Invisibilia...just to name a few.  

I was listening to  Andre Gregory on The Moth Podcast this morning as I took my daughter to school.    His talk called "The First Time" really struck me today.   He says, 

 "I think that there is a lesson to 'the first time.' 
We've...all of us... experienced an extraordinary first time in some 'thing' or in many things:  our first creative success, the first time that we've fallen in love...
The first time is an amazing thing and it never happens again.  When it has happened ~ that first time ~ it's never quite the same thing again. 
But the lesson ~which I think is a deep spiritual lesson~ is that in our lives, try to make every single thing we do 'the first time.
Every encounter we have~ the first time.  Every meeting we have~ the first time.   
Every time we see a stop light turn green or turn red, to look at that light with the eyes of a child.   
With the eyes of wonder...and in that way ~ from moment to moment, and from day to day ~ we can all be in a state of ecstasy, fear, wonder and amazement. 
And THAT is what it is to be truly alive."  

I was moved. 

Because as someone who has been married for almost fifteen years, who has lived in the same house for over five years, who executes the daily tasks of life ~ it can become mundane.   It can become boring.  

 Humans don't seem to do "boring" very well.  We lash out or seek thrills elsewhere.

Humans  do stupid things.  Hence the mid-life crisis.

Or if you're like me, you may get excited about goofy things like toilet seats, time shares and St. Augustine grass. 

Yet as Andre Gregory mentioned in his talk, looking at life "with eyes of wonder,"  can make such a big difference in one's every day perspective.  

My mammogram, which was so boring, could be viewed with amazement that such technology exists.  

I am blessed that I was given a clean bill of breast health for another year.

The smell of jasmine that overwhelmed me as I walked outside this morning is a gift from God...and I am so blessed to have these beautiful flowers surrounding me.  

My yard with St. Augustine grass that has too many weeds growing in it...that's MY yard.  I am blessed to have a home, have a yard, have a family to share it with. 

The coffee pot that I was able to switch on this morning and that made me a fresh pot of coffee is a MIRACLE...

My German Shepherd, who in many ways is my very best friend, is cuddled up by my foot sleeping.   She is amazing and beautiful.

I could go on and on.  

I need to walk through my days with eyes of wonder... amazed by miracles all around me.   

The little ones are so easy to miss and/or take for granted.  

And life  is FULL of miracles.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Unwelcome Water Event, Fairy Gardens and Flowers!

This morning I was awakened  (awoke?  wakened?) by the sound of water.  

I thought it was a heavy rain shower outside.

Oh... but no.

It was the sound of water dripping (pouring) and pooling onto carpet.  If you have had a leak in your house, you are familiar with that sound ~ it jolts you out of a peaceful slumber immediately.

I flew out of bed.

It was happening in my master closet.  Water was pouring onto my husband's clothes from an air-conditioning vent in the ceiling.

I ran out into the kitchen and found my husband sitting at the table, calmly eating  breakfast after a five mile run.  

"What's going on upstairs," I shrieked, hysterically.  

"There's water pouring into our closet!"

He bolted upstairs as I grabbed towels and buckets.  

Our daughter has terrible habit of clogging toilets.    Terrible.  I am not sure how it happens, but it happens ALL THE TIME.  We have had the toilet paper talk with her, to no avail.  

Our family is not allowed the soft, plush toilet paper.   We are forced to use the harsh, thin budget stuff.  

Before he got to the toilet to shut off the water, it had overflowed.   Water was standing in the bathroom and rushing out into the hallway carpet.

We used every towel for damage control.   He grabbed the toilet snake (one of the best purchases we have made for our house, ever, by the way).

After all had settled down, I looked at the time:  6:30.

I am not a morning person to begin with, and this sort of ruined my morning.

So, to make myself feel better, I went to Chick-Fil-A (for the first time, ever, for breakfast) and took pictures of my flowers/garden.

Yesterday and overnight, we had storms and rain in our area.  The flowers and leaves were heavy from the water and everything smelled so lovely and fresh.

My Asian (Sambac) jasmine, Confederate jasmine and Hoya plants are all blooming.

The Sago palm is dropping pups everywhere.

For a while, I was obsessed with fairy gardens.  I don't think I have ever take pictures of my fairy garden and posted them here.

Mostly, I am stalling because I don't want to clean up the toilet mess upstairs and in my downstairs closet.   Haha.

My broken pot/succulent fairy garden

Loved this little sign on Etsy.

I realized that not everything was to scale.  Oh well.  

Loved this little bird feeder.  And my daughter painted this rock in Girl Scouts.

I just love hen and chicks.  

My hoya is blooming. Look at the texture of these petals...they look fuzzy.  And they ooze water droplets.  <3 td="">

Sally Holmes

Sally Holmes is heavy from the rain last night.  

Sally Holmes

Sambac, or Asian, Jasmine.  My favorite!

Sambac (Asian) Jasmine

Confederate Jasmine is going nuts!  

Over 7' tall and filled with heavy perfumed flowers.  My favorite time of year.  

I planted two colors of lantana together.  I am already seeing butterflies!

My sad little Louis Phillipe rose is coming back a little from being over-run by jungle. 

Morning sun in the trees...

New arrangement I put together in an old pot by using a clearance plant (the purple one) and plant that I had on the back lanai that wasn't thriving at all.  It's already looking better.  

Mimosa tree leaves close-up...we're going to have flowers soon.

The mimosa tree is huge.  

Golden Goddess bamboo.  Think it needs to be's also heavy and droopy  from the rain. 

Sago Palm pups.  

Sago Palm pups

Ligustrum is flowering.

Hydrangea has buds!

Bouganvillia is looking pretty healthy. 


Where the mulch ends.  At the hydrangeas.  :/

The north side of my house (mess).  The next project!!! 

Thank you for stopping by today.