Sunday, May 30, 2010

Table, Part 2

Finally I'm able to cross this project off my "to do" list. The table is finished. I'm happy to have it completed and think that this just might be the end of my refinishing phase, at least for now.

I'm very happy with the results and love the table in the living room next to my grandmother's chair. The top is lovely wood, the legs and shelf aren't quite as pretty, but still cleaned up alright. Not bad for $3.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Photo Shoot

I love the colors of the peony and false indigo beside each other.

A planter made from an old wine box Joe brought home from work.

Peony close-up.

Early day lily.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


My rear window was shot out with a pellet gun sometime overnight, something I discovered while filling the bird feeders and baths this morning around 6:30. The responding officer was very nice, took my information and left to check the rest of the neighborhood to see if the perpetrators went on a spree or I was the only lucky one. For his sake I hope it was a single incident, as he said if it was one of many he'd be stuck at work filling out forms until noon, tacked on to his already 12 hour shift.

Since my morning routine was so rudely interrupted I figured I'd mix things up and throw my usual order of things out the window. Usually, it's nebs/vest, breakfast and then exercise. Not today, I'm going rogue! Since I'm going to be outside sweeping up the glass anyway, I might as well do all my outdoor chores at the same time.

We're expecting temperatures in the high 80s, much warmer and more humid than we're used to at this time of year so I wanted to do the watering early, before it got too hot. I grabbed my camera to take a few photos of the garden at this early stage. Only the sugar snap peas and cucumbers have yet to sprout; carrots, onions, bush beans and beets are all poking their way out of the soil. I'm hoping the peppers and eggplant will enjoy the hot weather we're expecting this week, at least someone should benefit from it.

I was fortunate enough to be able to capture Ms. Wren as she prepared to enter the bird box. Here she's perched on the fence post above, which seems to be her routine before actually going inside. Wrens are apparently not timid at all and don't seem to mind our presence in the yard. If we get to close they chatter at us, but we've been trying to respect their space and keep a fair distance. Entering the house is usually preceded by a few minutes of singing.

Here she is just prior to popping into the box. For some reason I get a huge kick out of watching them enter and exit through the little doorway. I could have watched for hours when they were building the nest: making many trips in and out for several days on end.

Smashed windows are inconvenient, no doubt about it, but it's hard to stay upset when there are good things all around. It's all about perspective and one way to keep it in check is to stay connected with nature and all the beauty around us. Thanks, Ms. Wren.

Friday, May 21, 2010

If at First

... you don't succeed-- try, try again. I remember my grandmother teaching me that saying when I was a little girl, some of the best advice I've been given. Trying again is hard, especially when the first experience doesn't go so well. Giving up can seem mighty appealing and is often the easier way out, but if a second (or third or fourth....) attempt is made often times it is more than worth it.

After a conversation with the pulmonary rehab physical therapist, who encouraged me to try a different oxygen delivery system, I waited a couple weeks and then took the plunge. I hated to call the nurse practitioner to tell her I was creating more work for her by switching companies, but she was more than understanding and suggested a company that quite a few of her patients use. She called in the referral and called me back to let me know they have smaller portable oxygen tanks (3.5lbs as opposed to 7lbs) and a delivery system that will allow me to fill the tanks myself. Say what???

I was thrilled at the smaller tanks and would have been completely delighted at that alone. Three and a half pounds less may not seem like a lot, but when it is something you have to lug around with you, every ounce makes a difference. Size does matter, and in this case, smaller is a definite plus.

To be able to fill the tanks myself is an unexpected bonus - I can be completely independent! The only planning I'll have to do is to make sure that before an excursion or outing that one of the 2 portable tanks will be fully charged. No phone calls to make, no deliveries to wait for. I'll only have to deal with the home care company if there is a problem with the concentrator or compressor, and once a year they swap out the machines for newer models.

On top of these two large plusses, the delivery man couldn't have been any nicer. Not only did he not get lost, he cheerfully brought both machines upstairs, set them up, gave me a demo and was incredibly nice. Not one complaint about his day. Imagine!

As a rule, I prefer to use a "mom and pop" type establishment rather than a large company, but in this case my plan clearly backfired. From the small, family owned business I got outdated equipment, rude delivery and poor service. From the large company I had a totally opposite experience. I guess this once I can go against my principles- I'd have to be an oxy-moron to have stayed with the other company!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nesting Behavior

The first time I heard that term was while I was expecting W and thought I perfectly summed up the urge I had to get the house in order. The anticipation, restlessness, need to have everything ready. What a cool phenomenon! A behavior that humans and animals all share at some point; something that connects us all as sentient beings living together on this planet.

For the past week or so I've been watching true nesting behavior in action - a pair of house wrens (thanks, Audubon guide to North American birds) is setting up their house in our bird box. Prior to their moving in I saw a few birds checking it out, chickadees popped in and out a few times and decided it was an unsuitable space. No matter, the wrens thought it was perfect and proceeded to make many trips with twigs, bits of grass and other plant matter.

I had no idea how long it took to build a nest, always assuming it took a day or so. Judging by the number of visits with nesting materials in their beaks I'm now thinking it must take closer to a week to complete. I'd love to be privy to the process going on in the box but wouldn't dare disturb them. Watching from the porch or picnic table will have to do. The wrens chatter at us when we're out there but don't seem to be too disturbed by our presence, thankfully.

Across the yard from the birds, the gardens are marked and ready for planting. The potatoes are already in and growing nicely; over the past weekend I planted onion, carrot, beet and bush bean seeds directly in their places. The strings mark out square feet to designate where each crop will be planted. Eventually I'm hoping to have Joe make me some wooden grids, but for now the strings work perfectly. Last weekend we were able to put up the trellises on the northern ends of the beds, which the vining crops will on.

If all goes according to plan, we'll have a crop of baby birds as well as some nice veggies later on in the season.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quite a Sendoff

A week ago today we said goodbye to Paul in grand style and it's taken me this long to be able to put anything in writing. There were so many emotions associated with the day: joy, nostalgia, respect, appreciation and of course, sadness that it has been difficult to process.

Our dear friend was definitely in charge of the weather because it dawned sunny, clear and much warmer than the usual first-weekend-in- May average. Paul was always cold so it was perfectly fitting. Interment at the beautiful Mount Holyhood cemetery in Brookline was simple and brief. The urn sat atop the gravesite along with the lovely glass rose that symbolized his online friendships with other cystic fibrosis patients. It was difficult walking away.

The memorial mass was given by a Jesuit priest, Father Jim, who couldn't have been a more perfect match. Paul would have loved him and I can just imagine the lengthy and in-depth philosophical conversations what would have occurred between the two of them. Although the two of them never met in life, Father Jim perfectly summed up Paul, no doubt due to the loving descriptions given by Paul's parents and aunt. His mom picked the readings for the mass and although I am probably the furthest thing to a religious scholar, they made perfect sense to me and tied the ceremony together perfectly. It was a beautiful service and a wonderful, loving tribute to a great son, brother, nephew, friend, scholar and teacher.

His family had planned a delicious luncheon reception following the service where everyone could mingle, share stories and process the mass. The food was delicious and a perfect way to cap off the morning's ceremonies.

It was amazing to have a group of 15 cystic patients together in one place celebrating the life of a cherished friend. The photo was taken on the steps of a former dormitory that was adjacent to the reception and chapel. Friends came from far and wide to pay tribute to Paul: several from the west coast, the south, and the northeast. I can't think of another occasion which has gathered such a number of cystics in one place.

The culmination of the day was the Because of a Woman CD release party that night. Held at an Irish bar in Brighton, the setting couldn't have been any more perfect. Dorian Taj made the trip from Chicago to perform and Paul's brothers David and Kevin did an amazing job of bringing to life the songs from the CD. My favorite, of course, was Terminal.

I think Paul would have been quite pleased at his sendoff, though I can hear him blustering about all the cystics spending time together. Somehow, though, I think he would have understood that we needed to do this for us and if anything, that would have made it almost ok in his mind. 'Bye, friend, I'll always miss you but will see you on the other side.