A to Z in April


I’m committing to this blogging challenge because I have finally found a purpose for it. A purpose that will make it easier to survive April. It will be my angst release valve. Let me explain.

The husband and I have been talking about selling our house and moving for, well… ages, but we are now to the point of having a realtor as our new best friend. It’s my new job (in addition to paring down) to make the house go on the market in the next month. I’ve started a new level of preparation in the last few weeks and it’s made me so busy and preoccupied that writing about anything has gone to the bottom of my to-do list. I didn’t see how I could possibly write for the challenge with all that’s going on.

Then I started thinking of all that I’ve learned, all the interesting new people who’ve come along, all the snags and complications. It would be easy to write about this experience, emotionally beneficial and more socially acceptable than sitting in the driveway screaming/crying/pulling out my hair. It took my family all of 15 minutes to think of a topic for every letter of the alphabet. Yes!

The things making up my days are now going to make it into writing in the month of April. If you’ve ever thought of buying or selling a house, you might learn something useful. If you’ve done it before and know all about it, you might like to compare your experience with mine. Either way, follow along. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things J

Jigsaw Puzzles

I would be so wrong of me if I didn’t choose Jigsaw puzzles as my favorite J things. My family would never let it pass.  The obsession is obvious every time we gather in a group, like for Thanksgiving. But even when there are just two or three of us, it seems we have to have a puzzle to draw us together at the table. We work at it while we talk. It’s really quite addictive. Plus, I really think there’s a genetic component to this proclivity toward jigsaw puzzles since it spans three generations of our family. That’s proof, right?

I’m not naming names here, but:

Some of us bring a puzzle even if we have to fly thousands of miles with it in our suitcase.

Some of us shop all year round for the perfect puzzle for the “next one”.

Some of us panic when we run out of puzzles before we run out of holiday time.

Some of us check puzzles out of the library like other people check out books.

Some of us hide the last piece for fear we won’t get to put it in.

Some of us are afraid to go to bed for fear someone else will finish the puzzle before morning.

Some of us stay up all night to finish the puzzle before morning.

Some of us never want to take the puzzles apart and hide them under the bed for years.

We ran out of puzzles at Thanksgiving so I had to buy this antique one at a Thrift Shop in Michigan.

Puzzles are good for the brain.  They teach your brain to think of any way it can to find the next piece, to be flexible. Sometimes the clue is the color, sometimes it’s the shape – the differences can be so subtle. We can actually feel ourselves getting smarter doing a puzzle. And doing puzzles teaches cooperation. You can only bend over another person’s space for so long before they cooperate and move to another side, as they should.

This winter we did “Puzzle Marathon” which I pictured on Facebook and am all too happy to post again here in tribute to the puzzle gene…





And this one we had to do on the trip home through Pennsylvania
This one was one of my favorite ones – pretty!

Seriously, this is only about half of the puzzles that we did, but you get the idea. Doing puzzles is truly one of my favorite things.

Do you do puzzles? Yes or no?



#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things G

Grandma Gwen’s Rugs

This exercise of  claiming favorite things has been interesting. I’m suddenly aware of how many of my favorites have to do with farm/country style life and the accompanying values. Today’s topic continues along that line as it shows creativity, thriftiness, simplicity and usefulness.

This newest round rug is a favorite… but then so are all the others.

Grandma Gwen is my mom but I got used to calling her that when my kids came along. She has always been good at sewing and making things because that was what country lifestyle required. Over the years she has become famous in the family for knitting, crocheting and now making crochet rugs – rugging! This craft was one of the ways that large pieces of cloth, like sheets and curtains, were turned into a needed floor covering when they were showing signs of age.

Grandma Gwen finds her cloth in various thrift shops and garage sales, sometimes for free and occasionally at a price, if it’s a desired color. She groups the fabrics in color families that are pleasing to her, or ones that she knows will go with a particular décor. She tears the cloth into strips about 2 inches wide and stores them in plastic grocery bags.

She starts by folding the raw edges of a strip into the center and folding again so they don’t show. As the strip is prepared like this, she winds it around her finger like a spool. Then she starts crocheting a chain the length of the center of her rug. She turns the work and does single crochet back along the strip. At the ends she adds stitches as the rug grows in size.

Almost always, there is a rug in progress and they become gifts for children, grandchildren and friends. I love them, and lucky me, I have lots of them. They not only add color and character to the rooms they are in but they also feel like a gentle massage underfoot. Many family members have taken classes from her on how to make their own rugs because they are so beautiful, fun and useful.

How to Get Dog Tired

I could lie down on the floor just like this, right now.
I could lie down on the floor just like this, right now.

A couple of weeks without writing goes by so fast – I don’t even notice.  Sometimes I just want to go live life for a while so I have something to write about.  I think so much better when my hands are busy, especially when I’m outside and busy.

This morning it was English Ivy.

“That’s a really pretty plant covering your fence now.  Couldn’t you plant some of that after the new fence goes in? It looks like it grows pretty fast.”

Um, where is the fence?
Um, where is the fence?

My daughter and I were discussing plans for replacing the existing fence which is nearly ready to dissolve in the next rain.  It has been there since the house was built in the 50’s.  The dogs keep finding/making holes and escaping. The new fence has been in the plans for a while but fencing here in Washington costs so much it takes my breath away.

“There’s a problem with that plant – it’s an invasive species so I don’t think we should keep it”.   So that was settled. It had to go, and I had a new project.  I love having a clear, understandable goal with a probable outcome (because it  helps make up for all the unclear, non-understandable elements in my life that have no known outcome…)

Armed with gloves and two sizes of nippers I took off the outermost layer of vine, hoping to see fence.  But as with many plants with dense foliage, there was another layer of dead, dry leaves, mold and dirt beneath the living.  Clipping and hacking my way down to the fence, I began to notice the dust in the air, especially when a new section was pulled clear.  The thought occurred that it might not be good to be breathing all that.  This thought was soon followed by coughing that I couldn’t control and a nasal sinus condition that made me wish I had an inhaler.  I’ve never had allergies, but this stuff wanted me to develop one.

Eh, no plant easily deters me from a well made plan.  I coughed my way through and stuffed all that section of ivy into trash bags.  Some of the main branches were two inches thick and many of the vines had grown right into the fence and become part of it  – and I only mention that to impress you and to explain why I’m now tired as a dog. And I don’t  know if dogs are really tired or just bored so I’m just sayin’ that they look tired and that’s how I feel.

There was a fence under there and I found it.