Basement Renovation: The Floor

I’m taking another week of vacation to do construction.  The kitchen isn’t finished but I wrapped up all the major construction and am enjoying a fully-functioning kitchen. This week I’m attempting to knock out the basement project. Just one third of the basement, but all I need is a respectable and lawless studio.   I need a place to work,  and I want a sanctuary that has no rules or expectations associated with it.  Just my space, for whatever I want to use it for.

Cutting to the chase: walking up and down steps, hauling construction materials down a hill, and doing more squats than I’ve done in my life  – cumulatively – made me feel every minute of my 51-3/4 years. And I wielded a heavy circular saw like a champ till I lost most of the feeling in my lower arm.

I have to add that a young, extremely fit guy stopped to ask what I was doing. “Are you a wood worker?  I’ve never seen a woman use a circular saw before!  Watch out for those digits!” Sage advice.

Until I regain my verve, I’ll just post the pics and explain later. Because everything associated with this house requires an explanation


Hitting the Pavement

If you’ve ever read my blog, you know I’ve tortured myself for years with a seeming inability to live the life that I envision for myself. And here I am at 51 still trying to get myself moving in the right direction.  But today, instead of lamenting all my failures and whining about my not being able to follow through with my life plans, it’s all changing.

I fell in love with this town because of its gorgeous architecture and proximity to the mountains.  I’ve stayed in this town because I’ve grown to like the people and the quality of life.  And I can say with great certainty that I never plan on moving again.

What I didn’t appreciate at the beginning is just how walkable this town is.  I’d commuted to work and/or school for so long, I never considered walking anywhere.  It just isn’t how I lived my life before, and I really didn’t plan to change.

Once I found a job downtown that I really love, I saw my “commute” differently.  The absurdity of driving 0.8 miles to and from work started to kick in.  Every once in a while I’d walk to work, then quit citing one excuse or another.  Then I’d just go back to my old ways.

It happened just a few weeks ago when my car was in the shop for a week.  I happily walked to work for a couple of days, then started to get nervous about being without transportation and asked for a loaner.  I gave in then, but I’m not doing it now.  I just can’t wait to start doing the right thing.

I started walking again on Monday.  In the rain. I absolutely loved it.  I saw people I knew, met some great dogs, and saw some beautiful gardens.  Of course, it was all downhill.  Going home was another matter.  It was still overcast, and I could not face the walk uphill.  I opted instead for a trolley ride home (we even have a public transportation system here!!)  All told it should have taken me about a half hour to get home.  But for some reason, I chose to get off one stop before the one nearest my house.  I got home a full hour after leaving work only to find I’d just walked nearly the same distance I would have from the office (0.7 miles). Umph.

I walked to and from work yesterday without a hitch.  Come to find out the uphill walk home was only 20 minutes and barely took my breath.  That’s substantially less time and effort than I was putting in to driving to the YMCA, walking on the treadmill for 45 minutes, then driving home.

After all that chatter, this isn’t really about walking to work.  It’s about beating automobile dependency.  It’s about being present in my life, supporting small businesses, talking to folks on the streets, and petting a few dogs along the way.

It will take a while for me to figure out how to completely ditch my car.  There will be emergencies, of course, and some random shopping.  But what I’m finding is that by combining small business shopping with large delivery services, I can get 99% of what I need without ever getting into a car.  The idea of actually getting rid of my car for good? Priceless.

Let the social experiment begin!!

Glaze Finale

My final pottery class was last week. Not the last forever –  I hope.  I’ve been too uninspired to get the most out of it and felt it best to take a break now before I became too frustrated.

While I made little progress with my throwing, I have honed in on a few glaze combinations that really work for me.  Hopefully the same glazes will be available when I return to class.  Otherwise, this exercise was for naught.

I went through the pictures I posted on Flickr, looking for the best of the best. Surprisingly, they all come from this past year.  So while I’ve failed to progress my throwing skills, I seemed to have enhanced my glazing eye.  It’s a difficult thing to discern when you’re in the trenches, so I’ll take that as a victory.

Last week I was sick and tired of clay.  Looking back at this pics, I wish I was going back today.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so I’m told.

The Art of Happiness

It’s been two months since my last post lamenting that it had been a month since the previous post.  I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m pretty sure this is a metaphor for life. Slow steps forward on a slippery slope, nails dug in hoping to prevent a massive backslide, wishing I’d listened to my mother and stopped biting my nails.

The strangest thing to me about personal sadness or general malaise is that it seems so unfounded.  I’ve had bad/sad things happen in my life that caused sadness and depression.  Normal enough.  But to be tripping along in life without a care in the world only to have the Earth open up and swallow me whole?  That’s a whole nother kettle of fish.

In case you’re put off by now, I will assure you that this is not a “poor pitiful me” post. Quite the opposite.  This is the beginning of a personal quest to figure out how to be happy without a major life change, or drugs, or intervention from any outside source.

This is me learning to be happy as a single, solitary and utterly complete person.

This is about studying my surroundings and being aware of life’s triggers.

This is a lesson on the art of being happy

Just a little personal ambience:

It’s winter. I am not a fan of winter. I HATE BEING COLD.  Not to mention the holidays, which make me an emotional wreck.  And work is crazy from December through February, further taxing my wrecked emotional state. Being the first week of March, you’d think I’d rejoice at the imminent arrival of spring. But spring really won’t come and stay here until May because that flippin’ groundhog flippin’ hates me!!!

I have five thousand projects going on yet I’m so bored I could cry.  I do cry, actually.  Out of boredom. Out of frustration of being bored when I have said five thousand projects I could be doing to circumvent boredom. Out of being knee-deep in unfinished projects which may – or may not – improve my quality of life. And sometimes I cry because I’m afraid that when I’m done with my projects, I will no longer have any purpose in life. Because that’s what I do and what I am: a projecteer.  And if that’s not a real word, it should be and I want credit for it.

Oh, and let’s not forget menopause.  It may account for a few of the aforementioned tears.

These may all contribute to my duldrums, but knowing this doesn’t make me feel any better.  That said, there is always one thing that makes me happy.  A New Project. Research, notecards, indices, references. And charts!  Charts make me so very happy. I am determined to learn more about the art of being happy.  What to do, what not to do, what it means, what you can control, and why all of this is so important.  I don’t plan to go all Stepford on you, but I think this is a topic worthy of study.


So let’s kick off my first day of self-evaluation with this chart, which I love for three reasons in particular. (p.s.  I saw this data cited through multiple sources, so I’m not exactly cherry-picking)

  1. We are genetically predisposed to being happy or not.  With 1/2 of my genes coming from my mother and 1/2 from my father, I am assured that my full-spectrum personality is 100% their fault and has nothing to do with me.
  2. I can actually control 40% of my happiness quotient through action. Hello, projects!
  3. And finally, this chart comes from a herpes support group and I don’t have herpes. So there’s something to be happy about right there!

As silly as this seems, I really do best working through life’s little setbacks as if writing a term paper.  I need documented research materials, test cases, evidence, and irrefutable evidence that everything will be OK. And it will be.

Again, this really is for me out of sheer curiosity.  I know all about the ebb and flow of emotions.  Good days, bad days. Happy days, sad days.  But if there’s something I can learn about happiness and apply these lessons to my own life, then I’d say it’s a worthy endeavor.






Looks like I’m posting about once a month these days.  Not exactly the stellar writing performance I was going for. At least I’m still going.

In a previous post, I committed myself to trying something new every week.  I’m not sure I’ve stuck with that either, but I’ve made huge strides.  As a incurable introvert and relative recluse, my goal is to force myself out of my comfort zone  – both physically and emotionally.  To an extrovert, these successes are laughable.  To me they are pure gold.  I’m proud to say that during the last couple of months I:

  1. attended a party without knowing anyone.
  2. accepted an invitation to spend Christmas with an acquaintance and her friends/family (again, without knowing anyone).
  3. tried a new restaurant
  4. started a journal/art journal
  5. went to church – three times, including Christmas Eve.
  6. joined the YMCA. (OK, not the first time. But first time in a LONG time.)
  7. attempted to attend a yoga class (which ended up being canceled that night, but I went!)
  8. signed up for new yoga class – again canceled (trying again tomorrow).
  9. went to an art gathering in Charlottesville
  10. committed to a second art gathering in Charlottesville, but backed out because it was in the single-digits (I’m committed, not stupid).
  11. risked losing friends by being open and honest so I can move on with my life. Results still pending.
  12. committed to going out tonight to an event occurring past 8pm!!!!
  13. committed myself to go to a movie this weekend.  In an actual theater, not Netflix.

I may have forgotten an thing or two, but I think this was a pretty good start.  I’m paying close attention to happenings around town and will continue to attempt one new thing a week. It’s a small town, but surely there’s enough going on to help get me through the winter.

Thistle & Ivy

2016 started off strongly for me, but it’s ending with a massive thud.  I can’t just hope that 2017 will be better; I need to make it happen. I’m told that one of the best ways to initiate change is to state your intentions openly and freely.

So here it is.  My formal declaration to shake up my life and let the detritus fall where it may.  I’ve been talking the talk for years.  Now it’s time to make things happen.

Thanks to the fabulous Susan of Webbones, LLC for donating a smidge of web presence and nudging me forward in my new business venture….whatever that may be. I have a few ideas swirling around my mind but still have much research to do.  Here’s hoping I have the resolve to see this through!

Thistle & Ivy

My Brave New World

With my daily writing commitment behind me, I now have discretionary time again. I’ll use much of it for pottery and, when inspired, for finishing kitchen renovations. But I need something new in my life to help expand my interests, skills, and social circle.

Starting today, I’m challenging myself to do something new every week. Just one thing, big or small. While that hardly sounds life-changing, it’s a big step for me.  I’m not shy, but I’m a creature of habit and inserting myself in new environments is pretty stressful. Still, I think I need to do this for myself, for my future, but mostly for my sanity.

Here’s my first adventure. I was all ready to back out (insert excuse here) but I’m sticking it out. I’m sure I will have fun, and if I meet just one cool person it will be worth the trip.  It ain’t easy being an introvert. Already stressed. Breathe in, breathe out.

No idea what I’ll do next, but I’ve got a week to figure out. And with three college towns within 45 minutes of me, I’m sure I can find something new and different to try. Crazy kids.

Wish me luck!