2012 In Review

In the drift  of one delicate snowflake, 2012 will be relegated to the past. Over at my house we are entering the year end blizzard  of activities when every remaining day of the year is filled with social engagements, travelers arriving, and travelers departing. But before rushing into the season’s revelry, I want to reflect on some accomplishments of the year.

I'm just using these snow references because I want some snow this year.

I’m just using these snow references because I want some snow this year.

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. I tend not to write a lot of personal lists unless you count writing down errands or chores. I operate in a more abstract style, trying to move forward in an organic way. But when I started looking back over the year, I was pleasantly surprised at how many things I was glad I  had done. Before I knew it I was counting the happy events, and they arranged themselves and lined  right up into a list. Here goes!

1) The first few items are related to physical well being. For the past several years  I have  met twice a week with a personal trainer. The sessions are short, 30 minutes long, but intense. I can honestly say after at least four years of working out with him that there is NO comparison between working out by yourself and working with a knowledgeable professional.

2) I continued  my second year with Iyengar yoga. Between the combination of  personal training and yoga, I am more fit and more aware of my body and breathing. Plus the yoga people are so generous! Look at some of the goodies I have brought home from there!

Home made honey and ghee.

Home made honey and ghee.

3) I finally “got it” about how to eat properly for insulin resistance. Of four siblings I am the only one who is neither a diabetic (yet) or on medicine for  high blood sugar. My family has some unfortunate genetic data in this arena. I am 100 percent certain that without the exercise and proper eating I would be a diabetic by now. Along with the benefits from  items #2 and 3, I have  energy I haven’t had for years.

No Geritol for me. Also no ironing.

No Geritol for me. Also no ironing.

4) I finally convinced my husband to  add yoga to his  existing fitness routine. After a year and a half of  my “gentle persuasion” he succumbed and has never looked back.

5) I allowed myself to get help cleaning the house. The main hurdle here was to let go of the idea that I could hire someone who would  be pleased to clean my kitchen floor on their hands and knees with vinegar water. Who knew that was an unrealistic goal?

6) I started this blog!!!!! Thanks to having energy AND having help in the house I had no more excuses about why I kept talking about wanting to try writing a blog yet  never getting  started. Writing the blog has delighted me in so many ways I can’t enumerate them. Just trust me.

7) Having started the blog, I needed to become if not a better, at least a more reliable photographer. I stumbled across the Improve Photography course and chose to take it  because I could go back and see the lessons as much as I needed to. I am still a novice at learning to use the camera, but my progress has been considerable in light of where I was before I took the course.

8) I’ve already written about this, but I finally took an acrylic painting class. I am interested in so many things that I will never master any one thing, but a little basic instruction can take me a long way.

9) I chanced upon the little condo we have acquired as a pied a terre. As we  remodel the little space  we think of more and more adventures we can have there in the future. It won’t be long!

10) When both of my parents passed away I brought home old pictures and scrapbooks from both sides of my family. It took me several years to be able to go through them  all, but I still didn’t do anything with them; it was just too overwhelming. Finally this year I was able to hire my son to scan each and every item. I will probably blog more about this in the future, but for now I am  pleased to know that  all my extended family can have either originals or prints of people or events they cherish.

And there is the list. Other than continuing with personal  training and yoga, I  did not know I was going to do any of the other list items; they just happened and made my life better. How about you? Dd you surprise yourself this year by attempting or accomplishing some things you had always wanted to try? Did you take care of something, like my photos, you were afraid you would never do? Pat yourself on the back then,  and go enjoy your holidays. Soon we’ll have a whole new year in which to challenge ourselves!

Squatters’ Limbo

It is again Friday afternoon, and I’m preparing to meet my husband at our new condo. Thus far having the condo has been an adventure, in a good way. We’ve spent two nights there, on successive Fridays, and this weekend we will be there Friday night AND Saturday night.

Feeling comfortable there has been a process. We are in a kind of squatter’s limbo.  We don’t want to take much down there  because everything will have to be moved for renovation. Normally I  would scrub every surface of a dwelling I had purchased, but  we’re not going doing it here, because it will all be torn out. Yet it has to have a decent enough atmosphere  for me to stay there without  cringing and holding  my muscles in uncomfortable positions, the way one automatically does in a place where one does not want to put one’s purse on the floor. I was already a little disappointed when we went to the condo for the first time because my husband had not  yet changed the air conditioner filter, and I thought the place smelled like  like a dead foot.

With the afore mentioned dilemma in mind, we started out the first weekend with an air mattress, linens, and basic toiletries. The footies I remembered to bring so I could walk inside without shoes were an added plus. We weren’t there very long, because we had theater tickets. In the morning my companion went out and bought us coffee to drink on the balcony.

Our bed for the time being.

A sweet card from our daughter and son in law.

That morning, sipping our not so good coffee, we outlined what we thought were the next vital needs for the condo. Me: Lamp beside the air mattress. One cannot be expected to sleep in a room where one cannot read. Him: Balcony height chairs and a coffee maker. Me: Change the air conditioner filter! These improvements were unanimously approved.

The second weekend we arrived  armed with the coffee maker and coffee, and had the balcony furniture on order. I had scrounged up a lamp and a little table for the bedroom. My husband had stopped by earlier in the week to change the nasty air conditioner filter. And when we entered the condo, SURPRISE!!! the  balcony furniture had arrived! And the place smelled much better!

Our first new condo furniture!

Ambient lighting always helps.

That night had a more relaxed pace, because we did not have the theater deadline. After unloading our new supplies we headed down to Mud Island, where our youngest son works as a server in a casual grill. He ushered us to our reserved table where we were able to have a leisurely dinner, knowing we would be receiving stellar service!

It’s good to have friends in high places.

While we were waiting for our dinner I slipped out to get a few shots of the  Mississippi River and the bridge in the dusk. Standing there, with my camera poised to snap, I had the  lovely revelation that  we were making this condo a home. By staying there even when we didn’t walk to walk there barefoot, by enjoying a glass of wine on our too small chairs on the balcony, by coming down to Mud Island and recording the evening, we were making memories. And each small memory would now be attached in our minds to the condo. A new chapter had really begun.

After dinner my sweet husband and I  unpacked the furniture box. I was determined to do my share putting the furniture together. Naturally the directions had few words if any, and screws and things kept spilling out of those little plastic bags and rolling into oblivion.  My  husband was very patient with my “help,” stopping what he was doing to show me how to use those little wrenches and providing helpful information such as, “Screws generally go in clockwise.”  When we got the first chair put  together he kindly suggested I try out the chair and let him finish the job. Since it was so late I accepted his offer.

The new furniture.

Now we are the veterans of two nights at the condo. Events have lined up so that this weekend we plan to spend two nights there. Tonight we will go to the theater, tomorrow meet the plumber to discuss the renovation, go to a festival and to a party. My husband doesn’t know it but I am bring a second air mattress to slide in under the first one. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Funny Thing

A funny thing happened on the way to building a pergola this summer. We bought a condo. Yes. A condo, as in condominium. Here’s how it happened.

The building is just a little bit younger than I am.

I live in a state of constant searching for new exhilarating  challenges  while at the same time having to manage the boring but important  parts of life, such as arranging for food, shelter and clothing. In earlier years, having library books helped balance out the folding of the cloth diapers. Making a spaceship out of an appliance box negated the emotional effects of having no disposable income. Painting the workbench in the storage room purple took my mind off the fact that teenagers were driving my car so often that I had no chance to go anywhere. Learning to knit brought solace as I started the eventual highly successful transition to becoming part of an empty nester couple.

Today, having fewer hands- on responsibilities gives me more time to practice my Magpie lifestyle which includes  indulging myself in  little dreams which may or may not  come to fruition. The idea of buying a condo as a getaway spot  has been one of those “Wouldn’t it be nice” kinds of things. Fun to think about, but impossible financially. Fun to think about, but too much responsibility. Fun to think about, but impractical.

Though I  don’t care to my have fantasies deflated, for a time all of  the above mentioned objections were true. A luxury condo would be out of our range unless we rented it out, which would require that we furnish it nicely and deal with management people. And where would the condo be? We love the mountains, but the closest mountains would require a bone rattling drive over Arkansas roads. In the other direction if we were to drive to East Tennessee, we might as well drive to North Carolina. Since two of our three children live at opposite ends of the United States, how often would we want to make a twelve hour drive to a mountain cabin? And a long weekend? Fuhgeddaboudit!

One morning while we were still building the pergola, I glanced  at a real estate site while drinking my morning coffee. Condos. Memphis. Wha? What? Wait a minute! Here was a one bedroom  condo, perfect for a weekend getaway.  In walking distance to the theater and restaurants. Balcony. Swimming pool.  I KNEW this was for me!!!!  AND THE PRICE WAS MORE THAN RIGHT !!!

Adrenaline flooded me! My knees were weak. My fingers longed to press the “Contact me” button, but I made myself wait until my husband got home from the gym. Then I  nonchalantly asked the big question. “Honey, Would you buy me a condo if it only cost XYZ%$?” “Oh, certainly,” he replied. YES!!!!

And so a new adventure was born!  I had to make an appointment, the first one without my husband because he was, um, building me a pergola. I was sold. We went back together. We both were sold. Of course, as I so quickly remembered, buying real estate can never be totally smooth. The first unit, which had been upgraded cosmetically, was taken off the market. Ouch. We regrouped, and looked at another unit, which we bought.

Everything in this unit needs changing. EVERYTHING!!! But what fun it will be! The first unit was move in ready, but I  wouldn’t have chosen those particular upgrades. I would rather make my own choices. For me it is like having a brand new house, choice wise.

The floors are buckled. They have to go.

The balcony just needs cosmetic work.

The whole place needs painting.

We plan to use the condo as a weekend getaway. Not every weekend, but lots of weekends. Before, we often didn’t go into mid or downtown as much as we wanted to because we didn’t always feel like schlepping back to the suburbs at midnight. Or to be perfectly honest, 10:00 P.M. Now we can have an evening out and when we are tired, the condo is only a few minutes away. The more we think about it the more fun things we think of to do.

Could you make coffee each morning while looking at this?

Heeere’s the bathroom!

Yes, it will be gutted. All of it.

Here are two of a set of vintage Memphis glasses I bought for the condo. I just can’t leave you with that bathroom picture.

 We have owned the condo now for about two weeks. Tonight after walking somewhere nearby for  dinner and  over to see  Legally Blonde we are going to spend our first night there. We’re packing light: Air mattress, sheets, pillows, toiletries. I suspect we’ll have glass of wine on the balcony where we already have two lawn chairs, and welcome ourselves to  the neighborhood. Sometimes dreams do come true.