Purple Flowers and Orange Tea, and Goosedown Spinning Quilts and Turquoise Chairs

I’m feeling pretty blessed at the moment. Normally, I hate using that word, but it’s shorter than saying, “Gee, the Universe seems to really be on my side lately.” That does seem to be the general flow, though.

It started out with helping my friend to sell a house. He was kind and generous enough to share his commission by purchasing a new computer for me, since my old one was about to die. Yes, I am typing right now on an HP Pavilion that can kick a gaming desktop’s ass. It’s glorious. Not one single crash, no matter how many GIMP images I have open at one time. My old one crapped out at 30 files; I have yet to reach this one’s limit. There’s also the advantage that the wrist area doesn’t reach 200 degrees Celcius while my wrists are resting on it. Also, I have yet to burn my fingertips. Yes, a few more months of using that old one, and I’m pretty sure I could become a professional thief, as I would have no fingerprints. Best of all, it is dead silent. I can’t hear it make even so much as a hum.

Then at the beginning of the month, I opened my bank account to find a large sum of unexpected money. The source? My ex-husband’s tax return. Until he’s fully caught up from the $28,000 he owed us in back support (he’s down to about $23,000 now), every year at tax time, we get a lovely surprise. It’s actually kinda nice to have all that back support, as it is currently paying for his children’s college educations. This particular windfall went directly onto our highest interest credit card. That left us with a still pretty hefty balance, but it was a good chunk.

While I was in Connecticut, I opened my bank account to find ANOTHER large sum of unexpected money. A VERY large sum. I immediately called the source to verify that it was really mine, before I spent it. Sure enough, it really did belong to me!! That went right onto that same high interest credit card. That left us with a very small balance that I was able to pay off on the next regular payday. YES! I have a credit card with a $0 balance!! I did the happy dance for days. Paying that off gave me a high that shopping never has. I discovered that getting out of debt is way more pleasurable than getting into it.

After that discovery, I worked out our 19 month plan. We are going to be out of debt by December, 2013. Period. I don’t care if that means I have to sell plasma, I am paying off every one of the cards that are left, and then they are going to collect dust in the corner. I want to move to New England, and Ron refuses to move from this house until we are out of debt. DEAL!

A few mornings ago, a tree fell on our house. Seriously. The giant tree in our front yard split in half, literally pulled out of the ground, and fell on our house. Fortunately, that tree was right near our curb. Fortunately, our roof is three years old and in very good shape. Fortunately, only the soft flowy branchy stuff hit the house. The actual trunk only reached our porch. We called our insurance company, and they explained about how much our deductible is, then said they would send someone out to look at the roof, and would have a couple of arborists that they use give us a call. Fortunately, I waited but didn’t get any calls (they did call, but I generally don’t answer phone numbers I don’t recognize). Fortunately, I belong to Angie’s List. So I looked up tree trimmers and found “A Best Tree Service.” They were here within an hour, and gave me an estimate that was less than half what everyone who saw the tree said it would cost to remove it. Plus, their estimate including removing the entire tree, not just the part that fell. It had to be done…having a tree fall on your house is bad. Having a tree fall on your neighbor’s car…well, that’s just a whole can of worms that we really wanted to avoid. Since they were the only ones who returned my call and promptly showed up with the super low estimate, we shook hands, they did a fabulous job of removing my tree, I wrote them a check, and they were on their merry little way. The entire process was about three hours. I was a very happy homeowner.

Yesterday, the roofer from the insurance company came out and gave our roof his professional blessing, and said nothing was so damaged that it needed to be repaired. Woo hoo! That meant the tree service, which was drastically less than our deductible, was our only cost. Yay!! Even better, I paid cash for the tree service. No additional credit card debt required!

Two days ago, I noticed that Aubrey had posted, “Happy Days!!” on her facebook wall. When I asked her what that was for, she said she’d heard back from Mount Holyoke, and they extended her leave so that she can return in fall of 2013. YES!!!!! So she gets another year of incubation before we toss her out of the nest again. This time, though, her heart is not broken, she understands that she HAS to take her meds, she will live off campus so she doesn’t have to worry about cross contamination of gluten in her food, and she will have a car. Plus, the plan is for us to live relatively nearby so she has a support system, and we will notice if she starts to crash again.

On top of all of this, I finally got my bathroom shelves into place, so my bathroom looks a million times better, cleaner, and bigger. I’ve managed to work 15 minutes a day on clearing my office/craft room/bedroom space, and it is finally starting to look like a room in a normal house, not like an episode of Hoarders. Papers are getting filed, craft supplies are getting organized, and this room slowly continues to become my happy place. The cleaner it gets, the happier a place it is.

However, while all those material things are lovely (not that Aubrey’s deferral is materialistic), the best thing about my life lately is I have discovered that I really don’t have to take anyone’s crap. When a relative kept making nasty, thinly veiled insults about me and my children, instead of escalating, I put them in my facebook restricted list. Now they can’t complain that I deleted them, they likely won’t notice that they aren’t seeing any posts from me, and I don’t have to read their shit. When a “friend” accused me of sexually abusing my daughter for taking boudoir photos of her, and said that I shouldn’t encourage Aubrey’s interest in Burlesque dancing as I was leading her down the path to a career in pornography, she also went into the restricted list.

Aubrey is almsot 19, not 9. All of the photos were artistically tasteful (I took them, not some creepy internet guy). Aubrey is extremely conservative in her daily dress, and beyond conservative in her personal life, although she is equally liberal in her political choices. More than anything, Aubrey is a dancer like I am a writer. It’s not just that she loves to dance; it is who she IS. It is her identity. So if she wanted to study pole dancing, I would still freakin’ support her in that choice. Personally, I don’t consider Burlesque to be any worse than ballet or jazz, or any other dance form. Yes, it is sexy, but so is belly dancing, and this friend let her daughter take belly dancing lessons when she was only 15. I didn’t accuse HER of leading her daughter down the path to a career in porn. Aubrey voiced her desire to take Burlesque dance lessons after watching Chicago. Last time I checked, Chicago did not qualify as a porn flick, and neither Catherine Zeta-Jones nor Rene Zellweger are porn stars.

The facebook restricted list is like cyber-Siberia, and it is freakin’ awesome. It’s the best way to distance people who you can’t really delete, but with whom you don’t really want to share your personal life, nor see theirs. However, if they want to delete me, they are completely free to do so.

So I have not just been cleaning up my craft room. I’m cleaning up my life, clearing the dust, decluttering all the negativity and bitchiness, and getting happier every day. Life is good…I just had to choose to make it that way.

“Well, my friends give me purple flowers and orange tea,
 and goosedown spinning quilts and torquoise chairs.
We greet one another in a wild profusion of words
and wave farewell amidst the wonderment of air.
In the laughing times we know we are lucky.
In the quiet times we know that we are blessed and we will not be alone.” – Arrival by Dar Williams

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I Have Tapped My Feet, Impatient

I came back from Connecticut in a fantastic, relaxed, happy mood…until I walked in the door of my house. It is so hideous, so cluttered, so full of crap, with ugly mismatched furniture, no art on the walls…To make me even more miserable, my office/den/craftroom/bedroom was equally horrific. I immediately went from happy and excited to miserable and depressed.

Spending a week with my artist/goddess/friend was ultimately inspiring. Three days ago, I stopped whining and thought, I can do this. I woke up on Thursday morning and scoured Craigslist. Although I am still dedicated to spending as little money as possible, I can pull off a lot on a tiny budget. It doesn’t hurt that I live in Garage Sale central.

On Thursday, I found a little four shelf cabinet, much like a lawyer style bookcase, but the top shelf has two tiny doors. It’s cute as a button, and perfect for all my “specialty” yarn; glitter, fluffy, furry stuff that I generally use for accenting projects because they are too much of a pain in the ass to crochet an entire project with them. However, they are beautiful skeins and deserve to be shown off. I love yarn, I love touching yarn, I love looking at yarn. To me, yarn is, in and of itself, art. Seeing my yarn on display makes me happy. So yes, $30 can buy happiness.

It fit perfectly in front of my fireplace (hello, south Texas…I can use that fireplace twice a year, and I refuse to lose the wall space!). Next to it, I put a Closetmaid cabinet from Target, and the matching two drawer unit that stacks on top. Now my fireplace is covered so only the brick wall shows, and I have more storage space. Cost? $0. They were just taking up space in the living room and the back porch.

A had an IKEA coat rack that was in the shed, so that came out and fit perfectly, down to the millimeter, on the wall next to my fireplace. I had five pretty, daisy embossed metal pails, so I put all of my jewelry tools in two of them, long bead tubes in another, with pens and pencils in the last two, then hung them on the coat rack hooks. As soon as I can find a small phillips head screwdriver amongst the mess, I will hang my rolls of wire from the hang rod. On top, I put a few IKEA magazine holders that I covered in scrapbook paper, and a purple wicker box that I’ve had forever. Cost? $0. I already had it all.

Under the coat rack, I placed the sewing machine cabinet that a friend had scavenged from the side of the road for me, months ago. It has four little drawers down one side, so in the top drawer, I put my dremel that I use for cutting my chain maille rings, and the guide that I bought to hold the wire so it can be cut. A very cute, vintage “desk” that I can use when I make jewelry. Cost? $0

While hitting the garage sales on Friday, I found a cool wood cabinet that matches the sewing desk perfectly.  It will eventually be attached to the wall, but for the moment, it is resting on top of the desk. It looks a little like a dartboard cabinet, but inside it has lots of tiny shelves, much like a spice rack. I put my spooled wire in it, and will eventually have all my jewelry findings and charms in there, too. Cost? $5.

On top of the cabinet is a long, narrow wire basket. It is perfect for holding all my small tubes of beads. The top of the basket has circular loops all around the edge, and looks perfect with the looped tube stoppers that the tubes hang from in the store. I feel the same way about beads as I do about yarn, so seeing them on display, like a piece of art…it also makes me happy. Cost? .50¢

The huge splurge of the weekend was a comfy chair and ottoman that I found at the last garage sale. I hadn’t planned to buy a chair, but once I sat in it and put up my feet, I didn’t want to move. It is the perfect chair for crocheting, reading, or having a glass of wine while flipping through craft magazines. My neighbor happened to be outside when we pulled into our drive after the morning garage sale run. We drive a Camry. Our plan was to unpack the car, then go back and somehow get that chair strapped to the car. However, my neighbor owns a truck. We’ve lived here for almost a year now, and he and his wife are always waving and saying hello when we get home. Even though I don’t know him very well, I asked if he would mind taking me to pick up the chair, since it was just a couple of streets over. He was more than happy to oblige. So not only did I get a chair, I had the chance to get to know my neighbor a little better. Chair cost? $30…and worth every penny.

Along the garage sale way, I picked up some framed art that has a cottage feel, a tiny black laptop desk that’s super adjustable, and a few small knick knacks. I even found some Ball jars that I intend to fill with more beads, once the pickled smell is gone. My total budget for the day? $50, including the chair. Now one side of my room is clear and adorable, minus paint. However, my artist/goddess/friend is coming down for two weeks to help me decorate. She is a whiz with paint, so I’m leaving that to her. In spite of the missing paint, that wall is the beginning of my happy place.

  

      

“I have been asleep so long now, all locked up without a key. I have tapped my feet, impatient for a change to come to me.
I’ve been hanging my hair outside of this tower, waiting for a savior when all along I had the power to save myself.
And I can tell it’s gonna be a better day. I think I’m gonna be okay.
Got a little air to breathe. It’s allright with me. I got a little light to shine. You can’t take what’s mine.
I’ve been down so low, nowhere but up to go, so go ahead, bring on the rain…It’s gonna be a better day.”

I Believe I Can Fly

Five months ago when Aubrey came home from school, distressed, defeated, and depressed, she spent the first couple of weeks literally curled in a ball on my bed. After much prodding and stringent medication control, she slowly began to engage in activities of daily living, but she still wasn’t much more than a lump on my bed; she was just a clean lump with clean pajamas.

The difference five months can make is astounding. With five months of intense weekly therapy, she is a totally different person. Her job has truly helped her overcome some of her confidence issues as well. Now that she’s wearing makeup almost every day, she looks her age, instead of looking twelve. She’s also realized what a huge advantage it is to be beautiful, because she keeps getting free stuff everywhere she goes. That’s been a great positive reinforcement, so her confidence has grown even more.

Five months ago, Aubrey would only wear little kids’ undergarments. She’s so tiny, she fits into a girls’ 14. Everything was plain and cotton. Now, she has the most gorgeous collection of lingerie that she wears for HER, because she’s not dating anyone, nor is she interested at the moment. For now, she is focused on saving up for a new car and planning to return to Mount Holyoke in Fall of 2013.

She loves her job. She has a rock hard body, with muscles that, in spite of all the sports she’s participated in before, she still didn’t know she had. Swinging from a trapeze for two hours a day is a full body workout. Her first time up, she was there for about 45 minutes, then got down and immediately puked her guts out. She was thrilled with being able to spin and flip and twist and turn, and she hadn’t yet learned how to moderate it in order to keep from getting sick. Now she’ has the hang of it, and knows to spread out hanging like a bat with sitting up and slowing spinning.

So for anyone who has ever wondered what a wine angel is or what they do, I made a video from clips that I recorded when Ron took me for my birthday. The tiny, graceful little creature in the harness is mine. I still can’t get over it.

A few days later, she let me record her singing, “Consider This,” by Anna Nalick. Our plan is to find a song and make a music video, but we haven’t gotten there yet. She’s amazing, and worth a listen:

Not to be outdone, Matt has stepped up to the plate and started recording more music. He FINALLY, after 22 years of playing the piano, drums, and guitar, has learned how to read music. His very first musical endeavor with sheet music is “La Dispute” from the Amelie soundtrack. You definitely have to hear this one! The two songs after it are his original compositions, and “Nevermind” blows me away every time I hear it.

www.matthewwrightmusic.com

If you enjoy any of the songs or videos, please give them a thumbs up and a share. I’m so tickled with both of my children, and I hope that you are, too. Enjoy!