Keeping Up With The {Energy Conscious} Joneses

We’re getting a new front door– or more accurately: a new Entry System.

[One must use the jargon that one encounters when one is working with individuals in a new and different industry, mustn’t one?]

Three times during the last few week we met here at the house with the sales rep from the door and window store.  While our windows are fine, our front door is older, wooden, and because of sun exposure, impossible to keep properly refinished.  Many of our neighbors have replaced their Entry Systems with more energy-efficient/visually pleasing doors and sidelights.  So after talking with the sales rep, we decided to do the same thing.

Our new Entry System will be a six-panel American cherry-stained fiberglass door with no glass in it.  Half sidelights and an arched transom with beveled glass and gluechip glass complete the Entry System.  Pretty and private.

Of course, it’ll be weeks until this door is made;  having a special order arched transom slows production down a bit.  And then who knows how long after that until the door can be installed.

Nothing is fast in the world of home improvement.  But that’s probably a good thing.  It gives me more time to practice saying Entry System out loud– without rolling my eyes as I say it.  Lord knows, I wouldn’t want to use the wrong term for our new front door.  😉

A Suburban Moral Dilemma

As I sit here typing this post I’m watching our neighbor’s sprinkler system water their lawn.  Putting aside the fact that it is midday and the sun is at its hottest while the sprinkler system waters their lawn, I’ve found myself in a bit of a moral dilemma.  The sort of dilemma that an observant, kind-hearted person, such as myself, could only find herself in.

Here’s the deal.  We don’t have an automated lawn watering system.  I am our watering system– complete with hoses, oscillating sprinklers, and a decidedly lethargic approach to lawn care.  I water when the spirit moves me and in a random pattern when I get around to it.

Our neighbors, on the other hand, have a perfectly positioned, professionally maintained sprinkler system that evenly and consistently waters their grass.  Or at least that’s what the neighbors, who are never here at midday, think is happening.

The reality is that the men who positioned the sprinkler heads have sent the water shooting into a tree and a wall, which is causing the water to bounce back into small portions of our lawn instead of evenly watering the neighbor’s lawn.

Now the angelic [do good] part of my being is saying that I really should go over to the neighbor’s house and tell them that their sprinkler system is amiss… that their professionals have made a mistake or two when positioning the sprinkler heads.

But the devilish [lazy butt] part of my being is shouting “yes! less lawn for me to water” and resists making the effort to tell the neighbors what’s really going on with their lawn… figuring that it is up to them to monitor their own property.

So there you have it, my gentle readers.  A moral dilemma.  In a non-friendly suburb.  Noted by me because I pay attention.

What say ‘ye?  Do I tell them, or not?

Rambling Thoughts From A Sleepless Night

~ I rarely have insomnia, but last night I did not sleep.  Too hot and humid outside.  Too noisy and AC-y inside.  I just couldn’t get comfy, so… 

•  I got up and surfed the internet until the battery in my notebook died– which was 2.25 hours.  I decided to go back to many of the new-to-me blogs where I’ve left comments over the past few months.  It takes quite a bit of focus and prayer for me to reach out to strangers and leave them a comment.  I know that comments are a good way of making friends in the blogosphere and I want to have more bloggy friends.  So I take a deep breath, write something sincere, and push “publish.”

It’s not easy for me, but I do it.

Checking back to see how well-received my comments were, I discovered that 40% of the new-to-me bloggers responded back to me – yeah!  40% of the new-to-me bloggers said nothing – hmm?  And 20% of the new-to-me bloggers didn’t even allow my comment to show up on their blogs – ouch!

•  After the battery went dead in my notebook I just wandered around the inside of the house in the dark, looking out the windows at nature and moonlight and total stillness.  I like doing this because it centers me in the moment, encourages me to look within.  I used to always get up early to do this, but fell out of the habit at some point.

While I was moseying around I got thinking about my health.  I’ve just finished a battery of annual tests and am quite healthy, thank you very much.  The only issue is that my cholesterol is a bit high.

Just something more to be aware of, I guess.

As I don’t know of anyone who eats meat who doesn’t have slightly elevated cholesterol, I’m rather “whatever” about this fact.  I figure that some small changes in my diet and a bit more exercise will fix this issue.  I avoid pharmaceuticals at all costs, so I will take on the challenge of making myself better all by myself.  No pills for me, says the doctor’s daughter.

•  Around 5:30 a.m. I decided it was time to make a pot of coffee and get on with the day.  After the elixir of life brewed, I poured myself a large mug of it and went outside to sit on the deck.  Morning was just starting to grace the sky with streaky, pink clouds and yellowish bursts of weak sunlight.  There were bats flying around everywhere– and birds chirping about something of [presumably] birdy importance.

I like our deck because it looks into the forest prime evil primeval
that leads to the ravine behind our house.  But this morning I was a bit wistful as I looked at the natural mess that is back there.  In a couple of weeks, we will have a new backyard.

Change is good.  And inevitable when you live on a hillside.

The backyard project will put in place a poured concrete landscaping wall.  Then about 28 tons of dirt will be hauled in to level off some of the land.  After that, the landscapers will plant lots of bushes in a visually pleasing, manicured way– which will transform our backyard into a more useable, but decidedly less rustic, place to be.

~ I’ve got nothing more to add to this post.  Morning is here and I’m ready to get on with my day.  I kind of wonder how productive I’ll be today, but figure that I’ll give it my best shot.  Some days “good enough” is the new “perfect.”

Red, Wet & Blue

Our Fourth of July weekend was rainy, damp, humid.  No picnic in the park.  No day at the zoo.  No baseball game with fireworks afterward.  Instead, we had a weekend that only a mold spore could love.

Not. Too. Exciting.

So having nothing festive and fun to do, Zen-Den and I decided to be very grown-up and act like serious homeowners.  First, we super scrubbed the kitchen— oven, cabinet doors, pantry, freezer, granite counter tops.  Granted the kitchen wasn’t particularly dirty to begin with, but I have to admit that it’s amazing how shiny it looks now.  Clean and inviting.  Quite the happy space.

Then Z-D painted the sitting room— aka the un-bedroom.  After much debate about what color to put on the walls, we chose a very pale shade of gray that reads slightly blue.  Combined with the room’s white trim, this shade of gray creates a relaxing and easy space.  Rather like being inside a cloud.  Airy.  Filled with possibility.

And that, kids, was our weekend.  Not the traditional sort of Fourth of July celebration that we all know and love– but a practical use of our time.  Which, God willing the creek don’t rise, means that next weekend we can have some fun.

Let’s hope, shall we?

Random Act Of Kindness Or Minor Misdemeanor?

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.  Psalm 37:8

If a bumper sticker makes fun of, puts down, accuses, antagonizes, rejects, hates, pees upon, or whines about <any topic you can think of>, I’ve seen it on a vehicle in the last few weeks.

To say that I’m tired of these hostile, rude bumper stickers on vehicles would be an understatement.  Really people, get a clue.  Your bumper stickers are not contributing to the national discourse.  They add nothing of value to society.  They are a distraction while driving.  And they’re just plain tacky.

Nope.  I don’t like ’em one bit.  Which got me thinking…

How do I make this situation better?

And here is my solution: a mischievous plan that is delightful in its subtlety and entertaining in its message.  *bwha-ha-ha*   A plan so ingenious that I’m surprised that no one has thought of it before.  A plan so clever that it made the Lawyer Bean laugh and promise to provide legal counsel for me should there be a need.

First, I’d buy a couple dozen of this positive, upbeat bumper sticker and keep them in my car.  Only a cretin could not be charmed by the message: “wag more bark less.”

Then when I see one of these previously mentioned annoying bumper stickers on a vehicle in a parking lot, I’d wander over to the vehicle with one of my more encouraging bumper stickers in hand.  Making certain that I was unnoticed, I’d slap my sweet little oval sticker over the offensive, negative bumper sticker.

And *bam* just like that I’d have quietly neutralized the negativity and made the world a better place– while simultaneously ensuring that I receive one more brownie point in heaven.  Talk about your win-win situation!

So what do you think, gentle readers?  Good idea?  Couldn’t possibly be an act of vandalism with a court date and a fine, could it?  And if so, how much do you suppose I’d have to pay for refusing to let stupid get the last word in– or on, as the case may be?

Strange Days Indeed

The other day when I was out for my daily walk and standing at a stop sign waiting to cross the street, a van that I didn’t recognize came to a halt beside me.  I looked inside to see who was driving and saw a former neighbor, K, waving at me.  I always liked K when she lived here, but lost touch with her after she moved away five years ago.  So when I saw her, it pleased me.

She rolled down her window and we started to talk.  Or rather, she started to talk.

She told me she was in town on business, and had borrowed this van to drive out to see her old stomping ground.

She brought me up-to-date on her kids.

She explained why her husband’s job had taken them first to the east coast, and then to the middle of the midwest.  She talked about the houses she’d lived in since she moved;  and how she missed this neighborhood and her old house here.

She knew the whereabouts of a few of the families who used to live on the street back when she was here, and told me about them.  I updated her about the families who were still here– and about the neighborhood curmudgeon’s latest issues.

Eventually the conversation turned to a more personal tone, and I took the opportunity to tell her that I thought her new hair style and color really flattered her.  She’d gone from a long dark brown layered style to a short golden blonde bob.  She looked great.

And then the conversation got strange.

She laughed and said, “Thanks.  I decided that I wanted to die a blonde.”

At first, I thought she said: “I decided to dye it blonde.”  But slowly it registered in my brain what she had said;  and that she was waiting for me to respond.

Hoping that I had misheard her, but fearing that I had not, I said: “Oh, that won’t be for a while.”

But I was wrong.

Come to find out, she has terminal breast cancer with a couple of years left to live.  The change in hairstyle happened after many rounds of chemo during which time her hair fell out and then grew back gray.  So she decided to take advantage of the situation, and become a blonde.

Being totally stunned and at a loss for words, I said a few trite, encouraging things to her;  but I imagine that she’d heard these sorts of platitudes many times over.  So I just let her continue to talk.  There was nothing much that I could add to the conversation.

She talked a bit more about the details of her disease, and how her faith in Jesus was helping her cope.  She talked about how she wasn’t really upset anymore about the unfairness of this situation, and that she was just doing what she wanted to do all the time now.

Then she looked at her watch, realized what time it was, and started to say good-bye to me.  I asked her for her email address, but she said she couldn’t remember it.  I told her mine, but I doubt that she really cared.  This was to be our last conversation, I realized.

With that, she thanked me for talking with her and drove away.  Drifting off in that casual way of suburban acquaintances.  Just gone one day, never to be heard from again.

Leaving me standing by a stop sign– sad, confused, numb.  No longer interested in going for a walk.  No longer sure about much of anything.

Hello Summer

::  We had a fun holiday weekend with three days of sunshine in a row.  This is something that hasn’t happened around here in six months.  ‘Twas wonderful.

::  We went to a high school graduation party that was held at a cabin on a family farm.  To get to the party we drove out-of-town into the countryside to a small road lined on both sides with cow pastures.  From there our directions told us to look for the balloons and turn right.  We did as instructed, driving on a rough path down the middle of a cow pasture, over a small hill, and arriving at a lovely party totally hidden from view when on the road.  It was nice to be outside in a relaxed atmosphere– watching kids play games, talking to other guests, drinking beer, having fun.

::  We decided to go to the cemetery to see the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall.  It was interesting and well-planned.  The scale of the wall is smaller than the original, but it still manages to re-create some of the original’s ambiance. If nothing else, this exhibit gives an inkling of how amazing the real wall is– and perhaps encourages those who have never visited Washington, D. C., to do so.

::  While at the cemetery we walked around for a while.  Wandering through the grassy areas we saw all sorts of unique tombstones and family markers.  One said, “integer vitae.”  Neither one of us knew what that meant so when we got home, I researched it.  This is a phrase from a stanza from an ode written by Horace.  “Integer vitae” is telling you to live a life of integrity so that you’ll be safe no matter where you go.  Good idea, huh?

::  To decorate for Memorial Day I put red-white-blue stars-&-stripey pinwheels in the flower pots by our front door.  And then I put two smallish flags in a flower-pot along the front walk.  EZPZ, but stylish and inviting.  However, except for one other family on our street who put out one big flag, no one else decorated for the holiday.  Don’t know what to make of that.  This neighborhood usually goes overboard for any and all holidays.

::  We finally had a cookout– our first of the season.  Burgers and veggies cooked on the grill.  Fresh berries on ice cream for dessert.  Served with delightfully cold white wine spritzers.  Simple and delicious.  Just the way summer is meant to be.