What She Said

via The State of My Family’s Union: One Mother’s Take on the Trump Presidency | A Future Free

Good Intentions and Well Laid Plans

So today has not gone quite as I’d hoped. I planned to really tackle some of the finishing paintwork (doors, trim that could use another coat), but I’ve been busy attending to other matters. Balancing checkbooks, returning phone calls, scheduling appointments, and working up a blind quote for a repeat customer.

I did a little googly detective work, too. There is a lovely home in Alvin, over one hundred years old, that I have loved since I was a little girl. Before I was old enough to do so myself, I would ask my mom to drive by so I could gaze upon the fanciest house I’d seen in my young life. Older, running errands for my mom, trips to the grocery store somehow always required sidetracking down South Beauregard Street. Even now, when I return to Alvin for whatever reason, I manage to find an excuse to drive past that elegant Victorian. Thanks to the internet (and my hardheaded persistence), I located the name of the owner and carefully penned a letter of inquiry on nice stationery, asking if I might write an article on the home and its history for Image Magazine. I enclosed my Image business card and I’m hoping my handwritten letter will open the door (literally) to a visit.

The key to a successful interview will not be asking the right questions or taking nice photos.

The key will be not passing out from unbearable excitement.

A Tuesday Reunion

Yesterday I spent some time filling out my planner for the week. One of my goals is to be more diligent about scheduling my time. That encompasses responsibilities and fun! So when I sat down yesterday and entered appointments and to-do’s in my Agenda 52 Planner, tomorrow’s entry was especially exciting.

Years ago when I worked at the law firm, I had the pleasure of working for a legal assistant named Sallie. We were a good match and I enjoyed working for her until life took us in different directions. We lost touch for many years, and then one day I decided to see if I could reconnect with her through Facebook, and was happily successful!

Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) we are meeting for lunch and I think we both are as excited as little kids. It will be so nice to catch up with each other after such a long time. She is a wordsmith, in addition to many other things (a lawyer, a realtor, a homeless animal advocate), and I look forward to hearing all about life since we worked together back in the day.

I’m not sure lunch is going to be long enough.

Try, Try Again

A few years ago (longer than I care to admit), I began writing a novel. When I think about the earliest pages of that novel, I blush with embarrassment at how terrible it was. And yet I was so proud of it. At the time I thought it was really, really good. You know those novelists who think they have no need of an editor? That their work is ready for print the second they type the words? Yeah. Silly, silly novelists.

Anyway, while the initial beginning draft of my novel needed a lot of work, my characters must be pretty interesting, because I have had people who knew me back then (over six years ago) ask me about Kate and Sam. Not “Oh, how’s your novel coming?” but, “Have you written any more of Kate and Sam’s story?”

And then there’s Mr. Petrosian, the Armenian grocer that my husband adores. Somewhere along the way, he misunderstood something and thought I was going to get rid of Mr. Petrosian. Any time the subject of my novel comes up, my guy starts campaigning for Mr. Petrosian’s continued existence. I have to reassure him emphatically that Mr. Petrosian will not be going anywhere.

In October 2015, I tackled revising what I’d written, because I wanted to resolve some glaring issues with point of view before moving forward. I’d finished cleaning out my mom’s house after she died, and I needed a distraction before my sister and I began the renovation work needed to sell the house. I rented a friend’s beach house for four days and revised like crazy, wrapping up the weekend with 20,000 good words. And then I didn’t touch it again because life got in the way. I would tell myself that it took Margaret Mitchell ten years to write Gone With the Wind, so I still had a couple of years left to complete my masterpiece.

This past summer, my laptop died. Didn’t just crash. Completely died. I had them remove the hard drive because it was fine, and there was hope that I could have the data moved to my new computer. I got busy, we went on vacation, then there was Hurricane Harvey and the summer flooding.

I can’t find the hard drive.

I have no idea what happened to it. I thought for sure I would find it in the middle of our room shuffle/painting project. I don’t have a clue where it is.

I jus spent about ninety minutes seeing if I could find the 20,000 good words off the external hard drive I used as a backup.

A few odds and ends, but nothing of substance.

I have a binder full of marked up chapters from when I participated in the critique group. Unfortunately, the marked up chapters are the crap that I revised that four day weekend in October.

I was able to find a few of the revised segments I copied and pasted in a chat window to share with my friend. I located a snippet in an email.

I guess all there is to do is to try, try again. Kate, Sam, and Mr. Petrosian are still there, still wanting their story told. Who am I to tell them “no”?


I had some flash drives lying in a dish and thought “I just wonder….”

AND THE MISSING 26,066 WORDS WERE FOUND. And the angels sang…

Hallelujah!!!

And so it continues…

Yesterday I made great strides in the continuing move towards decluttering. I managed to fill three boxes with only two kinds of things: empty picture frames (half a box) and books (two and a half boxes). You can ascertain from the name of my blog that both of these items really got me in the “feels,” as the kids like to say.

My inner shutterbug had a hard time pulling the photos from the frames. I kept reminding myself, however, that the photos can be put in albums and that I really don’t need a photo of my infant daughter on display when she is now twenty-two years old. I kept framed engagement and wedding photos of my husband and me. We were still young (late 20s’) and we looked so happy — because we were. And still are. And that makes me smile. (Okay — so my husband’s mullet makes me laugh, too.) I don’t need dozens of framed photos cluttering up surfaces and making dusting even more difficult than necessary. So I’m being very thoughtful about what I keep and what I display.

I’m a scribbler, so books are precious to me. Even the so-so ones. I feel sorry for them (and their authors), so I want to give them all homes. Our home is a pier and beam home, though, with a crawlspace beneath the flooring. If I kept all the books I am tempted to keep, we would be in danger of caving in on ourselves. I went through my shelves in my new study and pulled quite a few volumes — mostly crafty works on scrapbooking, cross stitching, sewing, etc. I made myself evaluate what the odds were that I would use them in creating anything. I got rid of about half of those types of books, which left empty space on my shelves. It actually felt nice. Encouraging. And those books are no longer glaring at me from the shelves, inciting guilt for projects left undone or never started.

I wish my mom had been able to experience the kind of freedom I’m experiencing from “cleaning house.” It’s interesting how I can almost feel peace blooming from this process, and it motivates me to keep going.

My House and “The Buoy House”

I’ve been working pretty hard the last couple of weeks. Because I have a difficult time keeping my workspace tidy, I asked my husband right before New Years if we could switch spaces. He has had his very orderly study in our spare bedroom, while I’ve had my disaster site in an open area just off our entryway. I asked if he would mind switching so I could close the door on my space when it gets out of control. He was agreeable, but before I could do anything our daughter got wind of the plan and asked if she could switch her bedroom into the room my husband had been using. It is slightly larger than her room. I said, “Sure. Why not?”

So I moved my stuff to her old bedroom and she moved her old bedroom to my husband’s old study and my husband is now where I used to be.

Shuffling tons of stuff around is so easy, I decided to make it a little more complicated by painting EVERYTHING beforehand. Ha!

So my husband’s new study (and the adjacent hallway) is painted “Cottage Hill,” a lovely shade of green by Behr. Our daughter’s new bedroom is painted “Amber Moon,” a warm yellow, also by Behr. And my new study is painted “Watery,” a really pleasing blue from Behr’s Cottage collection of colors. Actually, all three colors are from the collection. I like them because they are colorful without being aggressively so. All the trim work throughout the three rooms has been painted with Behr’s Ultra Pure White in Hi Gloss enamel. That was a task all its own, because a number of years ago, I got the clever idea to paint our trim BLACK. I’d seen it done on a number of Pinterest boards and it looked very sharp.

Not everything on Pinterest is advisable.

Three to four coats later, I have beautiful white trim. The paint has a primer built in, but that black is a bear to cover completely.

This evening I took a break to go to the Surfside Beach Chili Cook Off with my husband. By the time we got there, it was starting to slow down, but there were still some artists and craftsmen offering their creations. We wandered into a little booth run by an artist and I fell in love with one of her paintings: The Buoy House. I love the theme, the colors, the stories to be found in all the interesting details. There was a less expensive print of the original painting, but it was smaller and just didn’t have the same effect on me.

Guess what my sweet husband got me for an early birthday gift?

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The artist, Kathryne Brayton Lieser, and me with my new acquisition!
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Had it hanging over my desk within 30 minutes of arriving home! 

Here are a few photos of the painting projects I’ve been working on since December 30:

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This is my study (my desk is behind me in this shot).
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I got the clever idea to paint the recessed panels of the doors Garden Rose White (also a Behr color). I really like the little bit of contrast to dress things up and provide some interest.
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My husband’s new study — since taking this photo he has replaced that chair in the corner with his Morris chair and ottoman.
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The other side of his study. He is a neat and organized person, so whenever visitors walk by, it will look just like this. It NEVER looked like this when I was in this space.
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This is my daughter’s new bedroom “in process” – the walls have already been painted, but you can see the black trim I had to cover.
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Almost done. The trim is painted glossy Ultra Pure White now and so much prettier than the black! In a few days we will be getting an IKEA daybed that has three drawers for storage. We are going halves on it for her birthday.

Last, but not least, and certainly not final — the backseat of my car is FULL of boxes of things I will be donating to the Salvation Army. In the midst of the shuffling and painting, I thought it couldn’t possibly hurt to do a little purging. It’s difficult to make the decision to let go, but even moving the stuff to my car was freeing. I can’t even imagine what it will feel like when I drive away with an empty backseat.

Grace’s Beauty Shop

When the blue-haired ladies of Liberty went to Grace’s for a shampoo and set, they entered the East Texas beauty parlor through the door located on Hawthorne Street. When I went to my MaMaw’s beauty shop, it was always after hours and I let myself in through a swinging door hinged along the top, which separated the shop from MaMaw’s home. We were never allowed to go between the house and the shop during business hours. We would have to go out the back door, through the carport, down the sidewalk and back up to the door on Hawthorne Street. Health department rules or some such nonsense.

When we’d go for a visit, MaMaw and my mama would sit at the kitchen table drinking coffee and sharing recipes MaMaw had collected from her Eastern Star sisters. The shop was much more interesting than their recipe-trading, and MaMaw never minded my playing in there as long as I put things back where they belonged. I remember pushing that strange swinging door with all my six year old might, making just enough space to slip in, letting go quick enough so I didn’t pinch my small fingers when the door swung shut with a loud smack.

Once I’d navigated the dangerous door with all my extremities intact, I found myself in a shop that was a treasure trove of grown-up beauty for a little girl just recently allowed to use Tinkerbell “cosmetics.” The mingling fragrances of shampoo, setting lotions and hairspray were intoxicating, and to this day when I smell the laquer-y scent of Lamaur Vita/E hairspray — still sold in the same brownish-gold can — I’m immediately transported back to MaMaw’s.

Two black vinyl chairs beneath two slick black porcelain shampoo bowls were situated to the left of the swinging door, opposite MaMaw’s chair where she took care of her clients. A tiered stand stood nearby; its bins held pink, blue, purple, yellow and gray Toni perm rods of varying sizes. The nubby plastic rods were thinner in the middle than on the ends. Little stretchy bands attached to one end and connected to a stopper that plugged into the other end once hair and perm papers were wrapped around the rods. I enjoyed putting all the plugs in the ends of the rods. Now I realize it might have made MaMaw’s work a little harder the next day. At least I made sure to keep the colors separated!

My beautiful pictureMy short legs didn’t need the foot rest on any of the chairs, but a telephone book worked fine the time MaMaw gave me a shampoo and a pixie haircut. (My daddy didn’t speak to her or Mama for three days.) I sat in MaMaw’s chair when she took care of me, trimming my hair with the precise snip snip snip of her shiny hair shears. Sometimes she’d use a little Dippity Do and curl my hair with brush rollers and long white plastic picks that held the rollers in place. Those picks were a little uncomfortable, but I felt so grown up, I didn’t mind. MaMaw would perch me on the trusty phonebook and I’d stretch as tall as I could when she lowered the hard plastic helmet of the hair dryer and the warm air flowed over my head.

There were two additional chairs near the dryers — I can only assume other beauticians worked there at times, although I don’t remember them clearly since I was usually there after hours. A small rolling table used for manicures stood in the corner. I’d get the nail buffer out of the table’s little drawer and rub the soft chamois across my bitten nails. MaMaw would sometimes give me a quarter for the slider Coca Cola machine across the room. Standing on my tip toes, I could just barely slide the Coke along the rail to the opening on the left which allowed removal of the bottle after depositing my coin. MaMaw would help me clamber back through the swinging door opening where I’d sit at the kitchen table and drink my Coke, feeling every bit as special as those blue-haired ladies of Liberty.