Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lost Without Normal — Again

Whenever I take an online survey (and I do this fairly frequently to earn points = rewards) there are all these categories I no longer fit in.  When faced with the choices below, now I hesitate:

           ·      single   
              ·      married
              ·      separated
              ·      divorced
              ·     widowed                  
And next on those surveys, I stumble when asked my zip code.  From habit, I put my "home" address but that's not where I'm living.  I'm a vagabond these days.  About to be moving here, there, and everywhere over the next few months.  

On some level, it's fine to be "footloose and fancy-free" and on another level  it's pretty disconcerting.  
The past ten weeks I've been in South Carolina I've had two different chunks of work.  Both projects kept me busy, but now that those projects are complete and I'm leaving this home, I feel as if I'm floating without an anchor, adrift at sea.                           

In March 2013 I wrote a post, Lost Without Normal, and for some reason it's by far the most widely read post I've written.  Now, two and a half years later, I find that some of what I wrote is oddly reminiscent of how I'm feeling today.

The world as I knew it has changed.

Some things are stable.  My wonderful, supportive, loving, patient, thoughtful, caring  husband is still here with me day in and day out  thank God.  I'm still living in the same home in the same town, with the same terrific friends  thank goodness.  But the rest? The rest is in flux.  No routine, no schedule, no normal.  Now that I have the time to do just about anything I like, need, or want, it's a struggle to get things done.  I'm facing a time when I soon won't be bringing in any regular income.  I need to build my business.  I need to be networking, networking, networking.  And I will.  But it's gonna be a struggle.  

Well my world has certainly changed  again.  

My husband is still "wonderful, supportive, loving, patient, thoughtful, caring" but no longer with me.  

I'm not in the same home  not in the same town.

Still no routine  no schedule.

When I'm not aware of it, I find my left thumb scraping the back of my ring finger.  I guess I'm searching for the familiar metal of the rings which are no longer there.  Now the slight indentation that resulted from the decades-long presence of those rings is disappearing.  Soon there will be no crease, no pale lines to mark where those rings once were.

                                 I'm not a couple, but I'm not single.  

                                 I'm separated, but I'm still married.

                                 I have a home, but I don't live there.

I'm feeling utterly unstable and uncertain.  And it's not the only uncertain thing in my life these days.
I need to find my new normal.    Again.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'm Bettin' on HGTV

homeless:  having no place to live; having no home or permanent place of residence

Lately I keep thinking:  How am I going to find a new home?

Let's clarify that I am not actually homeless.  It is insensitive to even say that I am because there are so many people who are homeless, who lack a roof over their heads.  That is not my situation.  Currently I'm staying in the lovely home of my friend Elena with a floor all my own, a room that is incredibly comfortable and now decorated with artwork of my own choosing.  But as welcome as she's made me  it's her home.  

I could go back to the house my husband and I own, but that would be a temporary and perhaps awkward fix.  

I am feeling homeless.

I need to find a new place to call home. (And it can't cost a lot.)

I watch Tiny House Nation and Tiny House, Big Living.   I thought perhaps I should find a small plot of land near where I'd like to be and pay for someone really skilled and really clever to build me a tiny, tiny house that I could call home.  But at less than 400 square feet (in order to qualify as "tiny" vs. "small"), well, that's probably not a realistic idea for a collector-type like me.  

Then I thought maybe I could win a home of my own by entering HGTV's Home Giveaway Sweepstakes  which are many.  At any given moment there are two or three absolutely spectacular homes, totally furnished, that these folks are aching to give away.  For most of their sweepstakes, you can enter online twice a day at for your chance to win the perfect home (of someone's dreams) in the perfect location.  

There are Smart Homes and Urban Oases and Blog Cabins...and there's extra cash, prizes and more, so, this seemed a practical way to begin.  When I first became aware of these giveaways, there was one in Charleston, South Carolina (not far from where I am now) and then an Urban Oasis in Boston, Massachusetts (I've always liked Boston; near my friends Lizzie, and Linda & Jim). 

Unfortunately I missed out on both and the 2014 HGTV Dream Home giveaway in Lake Tahoe.  I imagined this house would better connect me to my nephew who loves and visits Lake Tahoe frequently from the Bay area.  If I had this home, well, it certainly would be a gathering place for all the skiing enthusiasts.

"Built in the style of New Mountain architecture, this home offers a modern twist on the traditional, rustic mountain house."  

I'd say it looks comfy enough for a non-skiing type like me.

2014: Lake Tahoe, California

Following those losses, next there was the HGTV Smart Home, "a modern Austin farmhouse" that went to lucky Isabel V. of Harlingen, Texas.  This house  if I'd won it  I thought might work for my friend Liz' son Lucas who lives in Austin and is getting married next year...

I'd say this seems like a pretty nice master bedroom to start one's married life.

And then the next disappointment, and this was a BIGGIE:  not winning 2015's Martha's Vineyard getaway  cause Katherine O. of Huntsville, Alabama won it.  They even have a video of her and her husband getting the key and touring the house. She sure does look happy.  Why wouldn't she? This package giveaway was worth $2,000,000!   Lucky HER.  

And I'd so hoped to become Vineyard neighbors with my friends Victor and Judie  sigh  it's not happenin'.

Disappointment won't stop me.  I get my email reminders.  There's still a chance for the 2015 Urban Oasis. This "newly renovated 1920s bungalow is a haven of relaxed charm in the heart of Asheville, NC."  I wanna relax.

My friend Judie (in Martha's Vineyard) might really like the artwork above this bed...cause of the doggie in those cute boots.
 And isn't this art more Vineyard than Asheville?

Personally, I'm more taken with the stylish piece below which reminds me of very decorative paint can lids very artistically arranged...

Well, if I don't get picked as the winner for this Asheville Urban Oasis, there's always the DIY Network Blog Cabin, "a modern mountain retreat located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho."  While the view IS beautiful, I do think this choice is rather too remote for a non-outdoorsy type like me...

Maybe blabbing about this wasn't the smartest idea  because if all you readers out there go ahead and start entering, well  it would certainly reduce MY chances of winning, but then again, 
UH-OH...gotta go.  I just got my email reminder to "Get 2 More Chances to Win Right Now!" telling me 
"You're a Minute Away From 2 More Chances to Win!"  because it's time to...

Win a Beautifully Furnished House, Plus a Car and $50,000 Cash! 

Hey  don't laugh.  This could be my lucky day. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Beauty at Brookgreen Gardens

Close to where I'm staying is a 9000-acre wildlife preserve and sculpture garden called Brookgreen Gardens, a lovely, idyllic, romantic setting with luscious two-hundred-year-old live oaks that are dripping with Spanish moss and grassy greens adorned with sculptural figures of Dianas, nymphs, muses, naked women and men, among the ferns and palms.

I'll let the images tell this story ...

This commemorates "The Visionaries"  Archer and Anna Huntington who reclaimed four rice plantations
to create this beautiful homage to sculptural art, flora and fauna.

Though I didn't visit the Butterfly House, there were plenty flitting around the flowers

I LOVED this delicate trio of dancing women

As in any sculpture garden worth its salt, plenty of places to sit and dream.
Little courtyards with pools and more bronzes


Anna was a sculptor and
so was her sister.

Well, as much as I enjoyed the visit, I realized I'm a much bigger fan of more contemporary works and quite prefer the DeCordova in Massachusetts and the New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Gardens...but perhaps I'm just not in that romantic idyllic mood.  Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the fabulous gift shop with all sorts of things I loved.  

Some contemporary birdhouses...

A completely charming deviled egg plate that my friend Nancy should have in her collection...

and this wonderful cut-wood piece.
And what did I buy in this gem of a gift shop?  Well, two wood, fabric and twine birds (half off!) because when could I ever have enough Christmas ornaments 

and this sweet little gift card because it is a Windy Tree (by Paris Bottman) and you should already know the special meaning TREES have for me.

I took that small card and added it to my little collage and below you can see that my Chinaman has a new companion —  a monkey!  He's very darling...

Well, in closing this post, I leave you (and me) with something I saw in the gift shop that gave a lift to my spirits and reminded me to ...

So if you find yourself near Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens has boat rides and a zoo and some real nice places to sit and eat...y'all come back now cause there's way more to see...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Price of Being Right

There is a "couples" story that makes the rounds periodically; it's in reference to one of my many flaws that my husband always found infuriating  I never admitted when I was wrong.  Now I grant you, there is truth in this. I had a very skewed upbringing that left me with an intense compulsion to do everything perfectly and if it wasn't perfect, if I'd made a mistake of any kind, well then that was tough to live with.  

Still, one time when our neighbors Alice & Dick were over, something happened and I was wrong.  My husband was incensed and looked to Dick to enforce his indignation, "You see she won't ever admit when she's wrong!"

"Well, when she's right so much of the time, can you blame her?" Dick replied taking the wind out of my husband inflated cheeks.

Dick's response lived and grew larger within him.  For years and years, whenever he had the opportunity to bring it up, bring it up he did.  He couldn't believe that a male compatriot hadn't seen it his way.

I did have a hard time admitting when I was wrong.  I still have a hard time admitting I'm wrong but...I've gotten much better.  Over the years there were so many times when in the heat of some discussion or argument, I'd reply to my husband or children, "I don't want to be right!  I just want you to see what I'm worried about!"  But they didn't believe me.  

It took me a very long time to admit when I was wrong.  But even when I did, I don't know that it ever wiped out their experience of all those other times when I didn't.  They thought I always wanted to be right.  They still think that.

Now, with distance between us, as my husband and I communicate more honestly about our relationship  our past mistakes, the places we each chose a certain way that was probably detrimental to the long-term health of our partnership  this separation becomes more real.  Just the other day he reluctantly shared an observation, "I think you were right."  This in reference to my decision to leave our marriage of 29 years.

This was one time  my first time  that being right was incredibly painful and sad.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Love Affair with...Licorice!

Licorice  just the word makes my mouth water.

It started many. many years ago when I was a child in the candy store eyeing everything on the shelves and deciding where my dime or quarter would best be spent. It landed on Nibs  with its exotic wrappers and small cut tubes of black "licwish" inside.
With thanks to  R. Jason Bennion  
who has a collection of packaging...

...he actually bought these on Ebay!

These and Good & Plenty  oh how I loved those little pink and white candy-coated bullets of licorice!  There was this great sound they made sliding back and forth in the box at first crowded and then slowly fewer and fewer rattling around in the box until just a single, solitary pink pellet is left and then  NO MORE!

Yes, I'm not forgetting Twizzlers.  They were next on my licorice menu  first black, then red.  
Sometimes I'd bite off both ends and use the red like a straw in my soda.  Other times I'd leave the bag open so the sticks would get hard and I could suck on'em and they'd last even longer.  Then Twizzlers came out with brown, chocolate "twists" because actually if it's not black, it's not really licorice and they know that and call the strawberry and the chocolate twists.  Once they started with cherry and pull n' peel and citrus, well I gave up on Twizzlers and only buy them when there's no other licorice to be found.

But then (and I can't remember HOW) I came upon the mother lode of licorice in Manhattan's theatre district...
Licorice of the WORLD

From their website:

We are the Myzel family: Myself, Kamila, and my mother Lucy, and we are traditional European chocolatiers. 
Our selections include:
We have one of the largest selections of black licorice, gourmet licorice, and European licorice in the United States. 
We bring licorice candy to licorice lovers who yearn for that good, old-fashioned licorice in the way it used to be. 
The unmistakable taste of real licorice comes through in our selection of what the world has to offer.

Visit our midtown Manhattan store today!

A tiny crowded shop filled to the brim with candy, chocolates, cookies, treats and LICORICE GALORE!  Jars and jars and jars of it...from Holland, Italy, Finland (my latest favorites) in every shape and color and taste sensation  sweet and salty and dark and medicinal  they have it all.
Photo by David Stanke

I took this photo from Myzel's website because they did such a great job of it...

Below some of my latest stash (courtesy of my husband) though I must say it's missing some of my very favorites...oh well, it just means I'll HAVE to go back there to replenish my supply.  
If you love licorice, you should go TOO!