Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall fever or maybe just going crazy

Getting back to Houston (AKA "The Land of the Endless Summer") after five days in glorious Utah, blah, bleech.

It's been rough. After camping in the great outdoors I now feel totally stuck inside, like I am under house arrest or something.
Yesterday afternoon I made a break for it, taking my pruning shears into the garden to trim back the four foot tall coleus, a sprawling cherry tomato bush and other renegade plants.
(Compare this picture of Tiggie with the picture of him in the header, taken in early summer. The plants GREW.)

Twenty minutes into pruning I realized I hadn't used bug spray on my ankles, and the mosquitoes were calling my body a Fall Food Fest.
Itch, itch, itch...

So I only filled up one trash sack, admired my now three feet high coleus, and headed inside to shower up. Yes, twenty minutes of gardening at four in the afternoon, and I was dripping with sweat.

This was annoying because I had already showered once, and had even put on make up earlier, because I had to go pick up my new glasses.

It was Friday night date night, so I bit the bullet and dolled up. Bernie's worth it; why should the eye glass technician be the only one to enjoy seeing me with mascara?

Date night this time meant a trip across town, through three toll gates, and down to Memorial, to the Barnes and Noble Book store. We have a B&N fifteen minutes from our house, but "Crazy Aunt Purl" was scheduled to speak at the Memorial store, and I wanted to see and hear her in person.
"Crazy Aunt Purl" is the name of a website blog written by a thirty something woman named Laurie Perry. She lives in Southern California with her four cats, and she knits, a skill she picked up after her husband suddenly up and left her.

I found the blog a few months ago, and have been laughing out loud ever since. Laurie is a Southern Girl, living in Los Angeles. Sometime I feel like her mirror image, the Southern California girl living in Texas. Cultural expectations are often askew, putting it bluntly.

(Laurie Perry and me in my new glasses. Love the new glasses. I'm still working on/in great discomfort getting used to trifocal hard contact lenses. I'll complain about that in another post.)
Laurie started her blog to chronicle life after divorce, and she daily makes observations about life with cats, co-workers, Californians, friends, learning to do things on your get the idea.
Mostly I just like to read about her cats.
They make me laugh.
Her book...aptly titled to reflect her life as it was the first year after divorce.
Laurie's cat Bob is soooo cool. Love Bob's belly! As Laurie pointed out, Bob is not fat, although he doesn't miss many meals. It's just that the camera puts on ten pounds you see.
That's a lot weight to put on cat; of course Bob looks fat in his pictures.
After Crazy Aunt Purl spoke, Bernie and I roamed around the B&N, reading books, and relaxing with some de-cafe coffee.
(Picture of the clutter next to my laptop. Just one of several messcapes in my world right now.)
Laurie spent quite a few years hanging on to everything that she had acquired in her life as a wife. Having stuff, well, if you got rid of it, then even more of the marriage would be gone, right?
Little by little she realized that she had filled up loneliness with stuff, rather than people.
Eventually she had enough new friends in her life that she could let go of stuff and open up to new people, possibilities, and places.
Interestingly, that is the same place I am in: Too much stuff, not enough people, possibilities and places.
That's where I am now. I feel stuck, smothered by 3,000 feet of house that I share with Bernie and two shedding cats.
Today Bernie and I sat down and talked. I told him how much I feel stuck, unable to muster up much vision for now on, here in Houston.
We've been here almost eight years, and the place is driving me crazy.
I want to move to Salt Lake City. Maybe. Or somewhere where summer doesn't last eight long months each year, and where the mosquitoes don't drill your body for blood, and where people that you invite over (repeatedly) actually invite you back over, or at least invite you to go see a movie with them when they go see a movie with all their friends that they have known since they were in high school.
My few friends live scattered all over Houston; getting together usually means at least a 45 minute drive for someone. Not too conducive to spontaneity.
I'm really tired of cleaning and dusting and vacuuming this house just so the four of us can hang out in air conditioning.
For a couple of year I had a maid. It stuck me as crazy to be paying a couple hundred dollars a month for someone else to clean the house just so the four of us can sit in air conditioning in a clean house.
(Plus I feel guilty watching other people clean my sinks. I just do. I worked as a maid in high school, I hated it, and can't imagine anyone else enjoying it either.)
The take away from this conversation between the two of us was that getting rid of clutter would be excellent, that it is expected that after being in a place seven years it would feel tired, and that Bernie and I would clean the house together for an hour.
Isn't Bernie a love? He is the one who volunteered his professional insight as a Certified International Facility Manager that ALL major facilities, from stores to hotels to restaurants need to be re-done every seven years to avoid looking old and tired even if everything is in excellent condition.
Whew. I thought I was just being weird feeling like the house was dragging me down. After all, we got new almost everything when we moved in here almost eight years ago. Everything IS in great shape (well, almost, more about that later...) and I really can't justify getting anything new, nor do I want to run around shopping anyway in this heat.
Mostly I think it is just that living inside eight months a year just gets on your nerves.
Once Bernie and I got going cleaning, suddenly we both wanted to de-clutter SOMETHING.
So we pulled everything except his desk out of the sun room, and re-organized the space.
We ditched the old TV, and the TV table, took down artwork, rolled up the area rug (the one that is supposed to be rolled up each summer, and then re-laid each autumn for winter time warmth over the tile floor. We always forget, and by October the deep pile rug really needs to a good shaking, and then we debate whether to put it back down for winter. For now, I just want no clutter, so it is OUT of the room for now.)
The room is through the french door off the living room.
Bernie moved his office into the corner awhile ago, to better to enjoy the garden. The "official" office in our house is dark with lots of mahogany. We both have had turns using it as a work office on our jobs at one time or another. We both feel like we are in a cave inside it.
The glass top corner desk unit in the sunroom is far fresher than mahogany, and if/when we move, the seven year old mahogany office set is going up for sale.
We had a collection of water fowl prints over the chair, each in a mahogany frame. They all got taken down for now. As Bernie observed, some of those prints we've had for almost thirty years. Give it a rest!
The triangular shaped object between the chair and the fire place is the cat's indoor waterfall fountain. Nothing but the best for our boys! Fine grass wallpaper to use as emery boards...just another perk of being one of our cats.
(D*** cats. Two of them shredded the grass wall paper the first week we were here; we've discussed replacing the panels they destroyed ever since then, but neither of us can get excited about that loathsome task. Plus who's to say they wouldn't just go to it again once our backs were turned?)
A ficus forest bonsai created by Bernie graces the coffee table.
Tiggie as usual was there with us, but didn't help at all. All he did was add a fresh layer of cat fur to the couches and purred when we put the couches back into the room after deep vacuuming them.
It feels better to have one room de-cluttered. It's a one step at a time process, a freeing process. I raised our two kids in a 1,100 square foot house, having such a big house now for just the two of use seems really crazy. It's a rather small house by Texas standards; we had to really press our real estate agent to find such a tiny house!
I'm not sure what room will be tackled next.
I just hope fall arrives before I go completely nuts.
Cabin fever, even when the cabin is big, is a terrible thing to see.


Vicki said...

Your new glasses look very nice on you. I'm in my fourth year of wearing bifocal GP contacts; I've never heard of trifocal contacts - I'm interested in hearing about them. Oh, and I'm going to have to look into that book - it sounds good!

It's funny that you should mention your frustration with Texas. After nine and a half years of living in Central Florida, Doc and I have been discussing heading "north." He's looking for job openings. Our daughter lives back in Kentucky; our son is in Florida for now, but he could end up anyplace. I'm tired of the heat, the humidity, the bugs, the traffic, the constantly growing city...I'm ready for a slower-paced life.

The decluttering, reorganizing, and simplifying of your home sounds like what I'm attempting. I think it's my first step toward selling this place and pulling up and moving out. Maybe by this time next year...or so.

Julie said...

Jill, I agree with Vicki -- your new specs are most becoming!!

Wow, reading your post and Vicki's comment has made me realize (again) what a beautiful place I live in...and I don't think I shall be moving to Texas in my lifetime!! The mosquitos alone are a big enough deterent. smile

Your declutering project seems to be well on its way with admiral results...

Glorious Hats said...

Great B&N adventure. Love the glasses.

Bernie is a special man, awesome helpful response. The refreshed room looks swell. Marvelous that you are doing something active and positive to help yourself. Oh OH, just had a flash -- do you have a housekeeping cap and apron circa 1920? That might really make the cleaning more fun. I recently purchased a print housekeeping cap from one of the other venders in Grandma's Attic - with the intent of studying it and making up a pattern. Will put that higher on my to do list, and will see if can get a photo at least of the cap this week and get it up on my blog. Ok--- hmmm maybe call this project Jill cleans with flair. What do you think? Go for it?

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Julie~you do live in a beautiful place. It amazes me that some people, like you and my Mom, have gotten to lived your whole life essentially in one beautiful place.

When I flew to BC, I sat next to a woman who lived in Texas, couldn't take the heat, so she moved to Seattle. She said now she couldn't get warm, and was constantly cold. Chilling thought, pun intended.

Except two very mild years on Oregon, I haven't lived where snow and ice is part of the seasonal cycle. I wonder how I would do with that, especially as I get older. Good thing the last zip code for me will be endless perfect temperature. Or at least I think Heaven will be like that!

Glorious Hats~ A fun hat always makes life go better. Go for it!

Lovella said...

Hi Jill,
You need a hug. Consider yourself hugged.
I really like your glasses, you look very smart which works well for you since you are very smart.

I couldn't agree more with doing a good decluttering. I so enjoy having our space reassesed from time to time. We live in a small house acording to Texas standards but hey . . .at least I can go outside . ..we might be visited by flys but everyone needs at least one pest in thier life eh?

I'm glad you had Bernie to take you out to B&N and then to listen, to talk and to help you make some changes. I do hope you can make a move to somewhere where fall colors are more than coleus leaves.