Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Autumn Leaves

Seasons have come and gone since I last posted, so I approach this post with some embarrassment and a little bit of fear. I hadn't mean to stay away for so long, but somewhere along the way, I lost momentum. I struggle to figure out what to write about, wondering if anything I say is meaningful or interesting to anyone else but me. I wonder if blogging is just a fad whose heyday has come and gone and ponder giving up. But there is an urge to write, so I soldier on.

Now, we're in another season. The leaves are either dropping from the trees, or are now glorious shades of orange and red. There's a crisp chill during the day. The nights and mornings are very cold, with a layer of frost glistening on the grass. It is a welcome respite from the intense heat that Central California experiences from April through September.

The drought left my garden an ugly brown. During the summer, the grass crinkled and crunched as I surveyed my North 40 (okay, it's my North 1/5 acre, but who's counting?) The landscape was so tired and drab and every day, I would sigh with commiseration. I spend most of the spring and all summer feeling weary and dull myself in that unrelenting heat.

But Autumn is here, and it has always meant a new beginning for me. Perhaps this is a holdover from my school days (I still love buying new school supplies), but I always approach the season with such a sense of hope and expectation. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming. The cold, cozy weather is here. It's time for making plans, for hot chocolate, small town Christmas parades, Christmas crafting, and, please God!, rain, rain, rain for our brown landscape.

I had a new beginning earlier this year, when I finally, FINALLY landed a full time, permanent job (well, as permanent as any job is these days). After two years of working as a temp, the company finally made me a permanent employee.

Is it my dream job? Nope. Do I love my job? Nope. Most of the time, it's okay. Some days, I just barely tolerate it. Do I love having paid sick time, paid vacation, medical, dental, vision, 401K, a stock purchase plan, a retirement plan, paid holidays and an hourly wage that's a lot more than the minimum wage I was making? You'd better believe it!!

I wish I could say that I've finally found a job that I love, but I can't. Part of living a happy life is accepting the fact that life is filled with compromise and sacrifice. To accept this, we need to recognize that everything good in our lives has a price, whether that's a good marriage or a happy family or a great job or a dream home, or whatever. You give up one thing for something better. For now, I'm giving up the idea of finding a job that I love. In exchange, I've found a job that is a means to an end. I now get to have a life.

So, I sit here at the dining room table, brand new notebooks and pens ready for plans. I have plans for Christmas decorating, plans for next year's garden (assuming that we do get more rain this year), plans for landscaping the front and back yards, plans for a few home decorating projects. In between, there's a new roof that I need to save for, maybe a new grandniece or nephew on the horizon, maybe a brother or sister for Tallulah come spring. Oh, and there's a children's book and a mystery novel that I've been working on forever. So life is full. In the Autumn, I am content.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas House Tour

I love, love, love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. As a practicing Catholic, I love the religious significance of it, and celebrate that joyfully. But I also love many things about it that aren't overtly religious: old fashioned Christmas lights, cookies, ornaments, Santa Claus, stockings over the fireplace, "A Charlie Brown Christmas", caroling, and on and on and on. I love buying gifts; I love receiving gifts (Yeah, I know, I'm not supposed to say that, but at least I'm honest about it).
I especially love decorating for Christmas, in large part, I suspect, because it allows me to go over the top with the decorations. Every year, I do something a little different from previous years. This year, money was tight as usual, so I pretty much had to just use what I already had. 
So, here's a little tour of my humble abode at Christmas
The front door welcomes you to a Snoopy Christmas. This was a very simple wreath to put together. The Snoopy ornaments are tied on using ornament hangers. This way, the ornaments aren't ruined by glue, and I can change it around when I get tired of it.
The view from my entryway:
Scenes from the Dining Room:

My nephew made this paper wreath when he was 7 years old. He is now 32.
I have over 400 Snoopy ornaments, so it was really hard to pick out just a few of them to trim the tree. One of these days, I'm going to clean out the 3rd bedroom and turn it into my Snoopy Room, with 3 Christmas trees up year round to display all the ornaments. I know, I'm obssessed.
The dog tree:
 Many of my dog ornaments belonged to my mom; I always think of her when I display them.
The living room:
One stocking for me, one for Tallulah.
These stockings are actually plain stockings from Dollar Tree, plus part of 2 1950's embroidered pillowcases that were so stained they couldn't be salvaged. I love how they turned out.
Of course I can't resist a picture of my favorite china.

These lady head vases were a birthday present in September.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Doggie Dog

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile will wonder about the name change. A couple of months ago, I wrote this post  about why I felt a change was needed. It took me awhile to think up something I liked, but I finally did.
I'm not sure if it's a stupid name or not, but I feel it's more indicative of where my life is right now. The past three years have been really hard. If I wrote my life story, I'd have to entitle this chapter, "The Broke and Lonely Years." I miss my sister, my family and my friends. I miss familiar things. I miss knowing my place in the world, even if I didn't particularly like that place. It was the devil I knew, versus the unknown, the temporary, the insecure.
I really don't like living here in Central California, and I know this isn't where I want to live until I'm carted off, kicking and screaming, to the assisted living facility. However, for a variety of reasons, most of them financial, I really can't move back down south anytime soon. So, I'm stuck here.
Now, I can choose to wallow in that, to refuse to be happy until this or that is perfect, but that's ultimately a waste of my time. Quite frankly, I'm getting to the age where I am acutely aware that my time on this earth is limited.
When trying to decide on a new name, I was thinking of how it's a dog eat dog world out there. If the Recession didn't teach us that, then a glance at a newspaper should convince us. But when I go home at night after a long day of work, the first thing I hear when I walk in my front door is the sound of a tail thumping against the sofa cushions. Sometimes a head pops up over the back of the sofa. On lazy days, I just hear the tail thumping.
I progress further into the house to find my Big Doofus, Tallulah, hips swaying from side to side as she wags furiously, dancing around me with joy. My day of coping with angry customers, demanding managers, traffic, creditors, and all the everyday struggles, melts away. I know I'm home.
I've come to realize that at home, I live in a doggie dog world, not a dog eat dog world. I live with a dog who exudes joy. She doesn't demand much from life, she's happy to greet the day, she forgives easily and loves well.
You may not have a dog, you may not even like dogs, but if you are making the best of your life, whatever your circumstances may be; if you take pleasure in the simple things, in home and family;  if you're happy in spite of any wolves who may be at your door, then, in my estimation, you living in a doggie dog world, too. It's a nice place to live.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rico & Tallulah, Sittin' in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Well, actually, not really in a tree, as that would be a sight to behold, but Tallulah and Rico are indeed in love.
Tallulah used to have another boyfriend, an older gentleman named Beau, but she was too much woman for him. Actually, she just had too much energy for his old bones. He would play with her for about five minutes, then hide under his dad's truck to get away from her. Beau is content to live out his senior years in the comfort of his home, quietly gnawing on bones between naps.
Lonely, Tallulah turned to Rico for solace and companionship.

Did I happen to mention that Rico is a rabbit?
Rico belongs to a neighbor who apparently does not want a bunny in the house. He runs loose in their backyard, escaping every day through a hole in the gate. When Rico sees Tallulah and I walking, he comes running up to us, zigging and zagging wildly, jumping like he has a spring in his butt. His gymnastic feats earn a solid "10" from Tallulah and I. I've been told that this bunny behavior is called a "binky" and is a sign that the rabbit is happy.
For her part, so is Tallulah, although she expresses her happiness in a different form. Every time we near Rico's house, Tallulah excitedly looks for him. It's an intense search that sometimes involves crouching to peer under cars, sticking her entire head into bushes or even attempting entry into Rico's home. If she doesn't find him, she pouts all day until her next walk. If she does catch sight of him, her walk slows considerably. A slave to her instincts, Tallulah goes into stalk mode, as she ever so slowly makes her way to her love. Once she reaches him, however, Tallulah does not pounce. She kisses him all over, tail wagging a mile a minute. She would stay there for hours if I let her.



Eventually, I drag her home, and when I say drag, I mean that literally. Anyone who has ever tried to force an unwilling dog into the vet's office, or even a bathtub for that matter, knows exactly what I mean. Tallulah is determined not to go home, even if it means lying down right in the middle of the street. I'm sure I have become the early morning and late afternoon entertainment for my neighbors, as I struggle and strain to force her to move. Eventually, we get home, dirty looks from my dog all the way.
Nice to know that I now play second fiddle to a rabbit.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New Beginning

I feel kind of embarrassed as I write this post, since I've been gone so long. In my defense, I was without internet service for six months. However, I can't really use that as an absolute excuse, since I started service again back in March. So, I guess my absence has been part laziness, part I Don't Know What to Write About, and part Life Gets in the Way. I've visited some of your blogs on occasion, but found myself feeling very inadequate when it came to mine, and to my life in general, so I stopped.

I've been thinking a lot about this blog in the past several months, thinking that was prompted by some soul searching about my life and about some of the choices that I've made. Ten years ago, if you had told me that I would be living in Visalia, California, in a 1963 tract house, working as a temp in a Credit & Collection office of a international company, I wouldn't have believed it. I had lived in Orange County, CA all of my life, had worked for the same company most of my adult life and had lived in the same upstairs apartment for many years. I was in debt (something for which I am deeply ashamed), did not even own a car, was overweight, lonely, and struggling to face the fact that I would most likely never marry or have children. Life had not turned out the way I expected it to, and to be blunt, I was pissed! I had this fear of waking up at age 65, still living in the same apartment, still working the same job, still doing the same thing over and over and over again. I had grand dreams of something better, but I had no freaking clue how to go about making them happen. So I just sort of stumbled along.

Three years ago, a modest inheritence allowed me to buy a house outright. No mortgage. Anyone who has lived in the same small apartment for 19 years, struggling to make the rent, would understand how important that was to me. It was a BIG deal, and I am infinitely grateful for it. Since there was no way I could afford to do this in OC, I decided that I would need to move. I was looking forward to new horizons, my "dream" home, to a new career, to doing something that I loved.

To be honest, Visalia was a compromise, a settling, if you will, for what I COULD have and COULD afford, versus what I really wanted. If life had no limits, I would have moved to a small town in the Midwest, "forced" my family & friends to move with me, bought a 1920's cottage, and would have worked in an antique store. Oh, and in my spare time, I would have written the Great American Novel.

But, life does have limits, so I loaded up two 16-foot U-Hauls, a couple of pickup trucks, and two cars, (I've got a lotta' stuff!) and moved to a 1963 tract house in Visalia, CA, which is in the Central Valley. It's sort of the Dust Bowl of California (A LOT of agriculture, but how we keep it alive is beyond me, because it's essentially desert here.) I came with my high hopes and my big dreams, believing that the Best was yet to come.

However, I've come to understand that there is a huge problem with that belief. I'm the girl who loves the anticipation of Christmas, but Christmas Day is always a disappointing letdown. Whenever life is difficult, I've tended to console myself with the idea that things will be better, that the best in life is just waiting for me. But when you try to live for this mythical future, you tend to become complacent and helpless about your life in the here and now. Why do the hard work to change things when, at some time in the future, a magic wand will be waved and all your dreams will come true. That type of thinking means that you never really get to enjoy the present moment. It is ALWAYS happiness and contentment delayed. And when the future finally comes, when Christmas comes, it is always a disappointment. Ultimately, there is a certain unconscious ingratitude in that thinking, and, believe me, I know I have A LOT to be grateful for.

So, I need an attitude adjustment. I need to believe that life is good and valuable right now and that I'm a person of goodness and value, right now. I need to start believing that what I have and what I am TODAY is enough, and that if I want something to change, I need to be the one to make that change. So what if the house isn't what I'd like it to be; so what if I can't get a permanent full time job anywhere, let alone doing something I love; so what if struggle financially; so what if it's hard to make friends here; so what if I am not yet who I want to be. Maybe I already am and I just don't realize it yet.

So what does all this have to do with your blog, you may ask? Well, when I started this blog, I had grand dreams for it (are you starting to sense a pattern here?). I was going to post almost every day, would instantly have tons of followers and make lots of new friends. Maybe pictures of my house would be published in a decorating magazine! Maybe someone would see my writing and hire me to write! Maybe I would be voted Blog Empress! The possibilities were endless! The best was yet to come!

The reality was I didn't have the time to post daily, and the world didn't seem to care that I Had A Blog. Imagine that!!

So, I've been kind of disappointed and dissatisfied with my blog. I thought about just taking it down, but I'm going to give it another chance. I'm going to be making some changes, though. Because I need to stop thinking that life will always be better in the future, that the best is yet to come, I need to change the name of this blog. It has to go. Yeah, I know, it's just a baby step, but it's a step all the same.

I'm also going to stop worrying that no one is reading this, or if someone is reading, how they're reacting to it. I realize that I tend to get very wordy, and some people just want to look at pretty pictures of pretty homes. I get it. I do the same thing. But, sometimes, I just want to talk. I really want to be authentic when I write, to say what's on my mind without fear of offending. In the past, I have spent hours on just one post, trying to make it perfect, worrying that I'm boring, trying to make sure that I don't offend anyone's sensibilities, either by what I've said, or by what they think I've said. I don't have the time for that nonsense anymore, and quite frankly, worrying about what people will think means that I'm not really being myself. So, if thousands of people read and enjoy, great. If my follower count stays at 26, that's great too. I'm grateful to those who read and stick with me. If I'm talking to myself here because everyone wishes that I would just shut up, that's okay too. If I offend, well, that's unfortunate, but sometimes that's going to happen.

So, expect some changes here soon. I'm working on coming up with a different name, and some different headers. I apologize for rambling on and on, just to say that I'm back, but sometimes you just have to say what you've got to say.

I will leave you with a pretty picture. Here's my Tallulah, my Sweet T, my Big T, my Lulu, in all her glory. I got the BEST with this sweet dog!

Since Tallulah is bugging me for a walk now, I'll end this endless post :)  Leave a comment - I love reading them.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hi to all.

I'm sorry I've been gone for so long from this poor, neglected blog, but I've been without internet since September. It became too difficult to pay the huge electric bills plus cable & internet, so I chose to have electricity :)
I'm hoping I can afford to get internet in January, so I can go back to blogging.
In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year of happiness and peace.


Monday, October 14, 2013


Fall has finally arrived to California's Central Valley, thank God, because the heat and humidity were making me crazy. I HATE hot weather, so I'm praying for a long, cold winter. But for now, I'm loving the cool mornings and evenings, a few brisk days here and there, and watching the leaves start to turn orange and red. Although the season's change isn't as noticeable here as it is in the Midwest or Northeast, it is certainly more so than I was used to Southern CA, so I will enjoy it while I can. On weekends in the autumn, I take Tallulah to the park for her walk, and while she sniffs and romps with wild abandon through the piles of leaves, I enjoy all the fall colors. I think I may have posted these photos last year, but I'll share them again. LOVE this time of year. I can't wait until the park looks like this again. 

The past couple of months have been crazy money-wise. Summer bills are VERY high here: electric bill over $300/mo, water bills about $120/mo (and my grass still looks half dead). I even had to discontinue internet and cable because of the cost, which explains my long absence from the world of blogging. And, of course, there are all the other bills, plus food (why is it that produce is so expensive in California’s Central Valley, when we grow something like 80% of the fruits & vegetables grown in the US?! It’s insane!)
So, summer is a really tough time of year for me. I spent May through September cranky, hot, broke, bored and lonely. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this will never change as long as I live here. So I have decided to move back down south, closer to my sister and other family. Still can’t afford to buy in OC, and will likely have to downsize to a condo in the desert (with a small yard for Tallulah – goodbye big ol’ garden), but I’ll be much closer to family and friends. So even if I’m broke, at least I won’t be bored and lonely.
Thus, I’m getting rid of stuff left and right, and keeping only my favorite books and collectibles, which is really hard when you have a dozen collections, and you love everything, and you see your books as beloved friends. Tough, tough, tough. But it must be done, because this stuff is, after all, just STUFF.
So, I had a garage sale last month. I got rid of some furniture, a bunch of china and some craft items. I’m doing another garage sale next month, concentrating on selling Christmas decorations, more craft supplies, maybe a few books and anything that might make a good Christmas gift.

My job here is contracted through the end of next April and I don’t anticipate them renewing the contract. I’m not sure I’d want them to anyway. It is the most boring job on the planet, the pay is low (more than minimum wage, but not much), most of my co-workers aren’t very friendly, and management is a bit cold and indifferent. When I interviewed for the job, I was told that everyone there was like family; I wish they had told me it was a dysfunctional family!

So, come early spring, my job hunt down south will begin. Ack! I hate job hunting; it seems like that’s all I’ve done for the past two years.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying what I love about Central CA (because it’s not all bad, for crying out loud). I’m enjoying my house (because I really do love my cute house) with the big beautiful kitchen, and the brick fireplace, and my big yard, and the cool autumn weather, and the upcoming cold winter, and my nephew and his sweet wife, whom I shall miss, and farmland all around, and no traffic.

And while I’m enjoying what’s here, I’m also looking forward to what might yet be: to finding a job where I can actually support myself, to being able to hang out with my sister again, to finding old friends and crazy family members (yup, we’ve all got crazies in our families), and having a Barnes & Noble and a Trader Joe’s less than 50 miles away, and milder summer weather, and lower bills, and a new start.

But no matter where I am, this one is always a constant.

When I adopted her, I thought I was rescuing a big giant dog who would never get adopted because of her size. Well, the joke was on me, because I didn’t rescue her, she rescued me.  She loves me no matter how much I weigh and no matter how crappy I look. When I am at my worst, she still loves me. She comforts me every time I cry (and it has been quite often in the past few months), and she looks excited when I laugh, like she's just dying to share the joke (and maybe she does). So, I can't say that the past two years here have been a waste: I found the sweetest companion I could ever find. Lucky me!!
Thanks so much for visiting. Hope you leave a comment; I love reading them.