Sunday, May 31, 2015

What I've Learned in May

Honeysuckles blooming in May
On this last day of May, I've been thinking about all the things I've learned this month.

Early in the month, I learned that I am not a hang-tough-and-fight girl, at least when it comes to illness.  The husband and I both came down with some kind of virus. The only symptoms were a cough and extreme fatigue. It was the fatigue that got me.  I hadn't been sick in several years, not even a cold, and I was NOT a trouper.  I just wanted to lie down and die.  I realized that if I had a serious terminal illness, after I died no one would say I had fought a courageous battle.  They would have to say, "She just lay down on her couch and gave up."

Second try?  Taken from our upstairs porch.

I learned anew that nature is red in tooth and claw.  You may remember last year when I rhapsodized about our little robin fledglings.  The robins returned this year and built a nest in the same spot on top of the bat house.  I kept anxious watch and soon spied three tiny heads.  Then one day, I was standing in the yard and I heard a tremendous squawking.  I looked up and saw two adult robins chasing a hawk away from the nest.  The hawk had come in like a silent assassin.  I never heard a thing until it was too late.  Sadly, all three baby robins were gone.

There is a robin sitting on a new nest nearby, however, so maybe the same robins rebuilt and are trying again.  This nest is on the house; I hope it is more protected from hungry hawks.

I also learned that time, like birds, really can fly.  Our youngest starts his first grown-up job tomorrow.  He has essentially forbidden me to mention him in my blog, so I can't reveal much, but we are pleased and excited for him. Our other child, our daughter, closed on a house this month on her 26th birthday.

It's a little cottage not far from the library where she heads up youth services.  It's a darling house and, with a little work, will be quite charming.  But here's the thing: I'm pretty sure this new homeowner was in kindergarten only a couple of years ago.  When I think about my kids, it's like a movie with flashbacks and flashforwards.  They are toddlers, then -- whoosh -- they are adults with paychecks and mortgages.

Related to the passage of time and the daughter's house, I learned that I am not as young as I once was.  Of course, everyone knows that's true, but a little physical home rehab work makes it all the more obvious.  The husband and I have done a lot of rehab work over the years -- tearing out plaster and carpet, building walls, stripping woodwork and wallpaper, endless painting, etc., etc.  Much of that, however, was done when we were in our salad days.  I spent about ten days at our daughter's house this month, painting, ripping out a bathroom, and let's just say: my salad days have wilted.
We made good progress.  We got the bathroom down to the studs and subfloor. The bathroom looks like tile in the pictures, but it was fake tile hardboard.  Around the tub, the hardboard was covered with another surface!  We repaired and filled woodwork and repainted the larger bedroom (pink with white trim!).  In the bedroom, I re-learned another lesson.  Knotty pine must be primed with shellac-based primer.  Kilz does NOT cover knots.  I knew that, but was stupid and didn't think it through.  So now her sloping pine ceiling has four coats of paint -- Kilz, paint, Zinsser BIN, paint.  Whew!

Finally in May, I learned that a climbing hydrangea is worth waiting years for.  I planted a hydrangea vine quite some years ago, more than five for sure.  Last year I had one bloom and was very pleased.  This year, it exploded. Absolutely worth the wait!


  1. Congrats to your son and daughter! That cottage is adorable and I bet it's going to be so cute with flowers and fresh paint! Love the climbing hydrangea too. Enjoy your summer! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. So exciting to be a new homeowner! Congrats to both of your children!

  3. I understand what you mean about the passage of time. What exciting times for your son and daughter. Congratulations to both of them. I love the cottage. My husband and I have also done a lot of rehab work on our house and are now laboring in the basement, an ongoing project of nearly a year now. We had some major interruptions. This weekend he sanded sheetrock seams and I scraped paint and cement from clay block foundation walls. I also am no longer in my salad days. Much tougher to rehab at nearly age sixty than in our thirties.

    1. My back is aching just reading about your basement project.

  4. Hello Lynette, I'm so glad you're both over that nasty illness. I'm just the same, I hate being ill and when I am I think it's going to last forever. What a shame about the robin chicks. Nature can be so cruel. let's hope they have chosen a safer spot this time. Congratulations to your son on his new job and also to your daughter on her first house! Exciting times! But time does fly so quickly. I can't believe my boys are in their mid twenties. Wow you've been working hard at your daughter's house. I find I have much more energy in the morning but afternoons I'm not a lot of good to anyone! The climbing hydrangea is beautiful. I had one but it died before it reached flowering, probably because I planted it in a pot! Take care, Maggie xx

  5. New job, new .. BIG Congratulations to both of your children!

  6. You are too funny! I know, my "salad days" are done done! But unfortunately the mind still thinks I'm invincible and can "whip the world"! LOL! Congrats to you and your husband for raising such great contributing members of society! Congrats to them for listening to you! LOL! I love the house. It's just what I'm looking for...a little cottage. I need to scale down as I can't keep up with a big house and I'd rather spend more time outdoors. I've added you to my list now so you will show up and I won't miss your posts! Whew!

  7. Glad that you are finally feeling better! Looks like, just in time for all the wonderful things happening. Congrats to both of your children for reaching these milestones. I love your daughter's house. And yes, I do know about the oddities of knotty pine. I painted my kitchen and I really had to prime well. I would really like to paint the rest of it (which is in the dining room and down the hall), but it's a huge undertaking that I don't have time for right now. If your daughter doesn't mind, I'd love to see some of her updates.

  8. I'm so sorry to hear you and your husband haven't been well. And that is an awful story about the poor baby robins! Congrats to your daughter on her purchase and how timely to buy it on her birthday! Your climbing hydrangeas are gorgeous. Best of luck to your daughter with all the renovations xx

  9. So sorry to hear you and your husband were sick. I'm guessing you're completely well now since you've been working on your daughter's house? It is SO darling - but wow, that's a lot of work! Such a sad story about the baby robins...ohh, that poor mama and papa robin to have their babies taken away by a hawk. Breaks my heart.

  10. Sounds like you have had a lot on your plate. I was sick (and I NEVER get sick) from Thanksgiving until now. I am on my 5th(?)-at least-round of antibiotics. It has been horrible and I am NOT a good sick person because I refuse to lay around and REST like I am supposed to do...not good at that at all.

    Love that your daughter has her own sweet home and your son has a new job. How wonderful. Good luck with the bathroom!

    I put you back on my sidebar. I lost my whole sidebar and as people commented I put them back on my sidebar so I wouldn't miss their posts. Glad you left me a comment today. Have a great weekend- I am taking a break starting tomorrow. Too much going on.....xo Diana

  11. How wonderfully pleased you must be for both your children. How lucky for your daughter that you and your husband are both so handy - you did a great job in the bathroom.
    I hope you're feeling better. Have a lovely weekend.

  12. I hope you are totally recovered so you can have a nice summer. Your daughter’s house looks very nice and when she is finished with it I am sure it will be very comfortable.
    Even though the mind is willing, the body does not follow when it starts aging – we went to Florida and my knees refused to walk very far, even though I wanted to keep walking …

  13. I do hope you've shaken the virus off completely now. Congratulations to your daughter and your son. And hurrah for patient gardening, that hydrangea is beautiful!

  14. I LOVE that little house! She is going to be so happy there! The round door top and the little rounded windows in the attic are adorable! Good choice!

  15. Ah! A post I hadn't read! Your hydrangeas were beautiful, and a belated congratulations to your daughter on her new home. I hope she loves it!


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