Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Remembering Christmas Past

Old white cupboards, hand-crafted primitive signs, and Christmas socks. Fa la la la la....(Photo from Pinterest)

I am feeling very nostalgic this week thinking about Christmas. Slow to put up my decorations, I have spent too much time on Pinterest looking at holiday photos. I pin my favorites to my Christmas board and am amazed to discover that while my life has had many changes, my idea of what a Christmas house should look like, has remained the same. Pinterest has reminded me of this, where in years past, collecting photos I loved out of decorating magazines showed me what I loved.

The magazine photos (from Country Living, Country Home, Victoria, my choices years ago of favorite magazines, before so many new ones hit the market) and my Pinterest board tell me I still dream of a story-book Christmas, filled with children's toys, antique books, garden items, and Charlie Brown trees.

As a former antique dealer (I've removed that title 'antique dealer' from my list of accomplishments, labeling it 'former', but still put in bold letters - COLLECTOR RUN AMUCK.) I loved setting up for the Christmas extravaganza at the old Lakewood Antique Show at the fairgrounds south of downtown Atlanta. That show was the best and I was at my best during the few years I was a dealer there. My husband was still alive, my friends set up with me, I sold like crazy on Ebay so I could buy like crazy at the show. Selling was never the point of doing the show (this is why I wonder how I ever called myself an antique dealer in the first place) - the friendships and opportunity to spend Wednesday (my set-up day) to Sunday (when I skipped out early to avoid the rush at closing) in an environment I loved surrounded by every delight imaginable from old painted furniture, art, quilts, old toys, vintage garden items, antique books - and a food court, with its individual food trucks, preparing junk food at its finest, highlighted the reason for doing the show. In summer you could melt from the heat, in winter you could freeze your butt off. It didn't matter, it was the best of times. I wrote about Lakewood in The Unfaithful Widow. The transition from federal employee to antique dealer, sitting in the stinking hot summer air, listening to The Pina Colada Song on my cheap radio, was heaven to me.

The show I remember most, where I wanted to take my small booth home with me, was the last Christmas extravaganza before Lakewood closed its doors. I had searched for months, storing away my treasures, falling in love with my merchandize, until that Wednesday I loaded my van and my husband's van, and our tiny caravan to the Fairgrounds began.

The antique chipped red paint twin size iron bed was the main attraction. God, I loved that bed and wanted to keep it, but there was no room at the inn. Piled high with quilts it looked ready for a cold winters night. Three tall Christmas trees (purchased at Kroger, of all places) with metal bases, tall trunks leading up to funky green branches filled with white twinkling lights, sat on top of a green painted book shelf. Pitiful trees that defined a Charlie Brown tree to perfection. An 1800's Cottage Dresser, brown, with gold leaf scrolls and tiny roses on all the drawers, sat next to my red iron bed. The booth was filled with all my favorites - old painted chests, a rocking horse some Dad had made for his children, folk art angels, and shiny brite ornaments, some still in their vintage boxes.

My house took on the same feel at Christmas as it did when I was in the thick of being an antique dealer who didn't sell but played a good game of it.  You would think over the years my style would change, evolve, but it hasn't. I still love all the things I've always loved. Sometimes, something new catches my attention and I work it in, like old tinsel trees and vintage-style white trees. But the basis of my Christmas decorating still revolves around the magic of childhood.

I've dilly-dallied enough.  Today I will pull out my treasures and start to decorate. Check back for photo updates this week. In the meantime, enjoy the photos from Pinterest!

I have a collection of angels just like these! (Photo Pinterest)
Old shiny brites displayed on my favorite shade of blue primitive chair. I'll take that one please. (Photo Pinterest)
A simple table-top tree in an antique German base. (Photo Pinterest)
Antique toys make the very best decorations. (Photo Pinterest)
My love of all things garden related is evident every season! (Photo Pinterest)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Happy Thanksgiving

Macy's Parade, 1967

Ok - I am the first to admit it. It is hard for me to get away from dogs. So for this Thanksgiving post it seemed so appropriate to share a photo found on the web of the Macy's parade, 1967. The six-pack of hounds here support my use of this vintage image. And who doesn't love Snoopy!

It is early yet, and I am at my computer as always. Sun is peeking through the overcast sky. It is a dice roll, the weather today. It will be sunny in my heart, no matter what.

The dogs have become simply impossible in the morning. I have no clue what has caused them to be so active at 7am. They are like children who have eaten too much sugar. Miss April in Paris jumps off the bed, all sixty pounds of her, racing up and down the hallway, barking, non-stop. Her call to action rallies the other five, who hit the floor, running to the kitchen, waiting for kibble. I drag myself out and putter down the hallway, let them out via the kitchen door, into the yard. I make a cup of instant coffee (yes, sometimes I am the laziest gal in town) and get their bowls ready. As soon as they eat, they crash. They are back to sleep and I am wide-eyed awake. It is a good time to write.

What am I thankful for this year? Everything. I started out the year thinking I needed a huge change in my surroundings. The change I needed was inside me. A reflective year, as I've written about before today on this blog. Health issues, some cash-flow issues, and the desire to be in a different house, in a different state, so far from all that is familiar here. Part of that draw to move, was to be closer to my family. The other part, I had no clue what to do now, six years a widow, in my quiet world. I pushed so hard to find a new life, I didn't know how to relax.

I'd forgotten how lucky I was with my friends here and my family's love only a phone call away. In six years on my own I had found myself. How did I not remember that? Maybe I needed a bit of a shake-up, and this hip of mine, which has slowed me down, allowed me to just be.

Yes, my hip grinding as I walk (and the doctor telling me there is a hip replacement in my future - which I am ignoring for now) has kept me from participating in things that require me to be on my feet for hours at a time. When I hurt, I lay down and relax. Relaxing has given me the time to think. And thinking has made me grateful for all the goodness around me It has cleared my mind to forge a new path, one right where I am for the time being. That does not mean I might not shake-it up later, but for now, I am where I need to be.

I may be slow with my walking, but it hasn't slowed me down for other things I love - like writing, sleeping with dogs, dinner with friends, too much time on the computer, which is like an extension of my body. I have a new project that will launch on Tuesday.

A Cup Of Christmas, an e-book with thirty other writers, is a dream come true. In six weeks it pulled together. Once again, my heart was thankful for the trust these authors have I can actually do this and the spirit in which they participated - they were paid nothing for their time and all proceeds go to First Book, a children's literacy charity. Writers giving back.  I've met these folks - some in person, some on Facebook, all linked together in the world of books, in the last six years as I started to write and find myself. I almost missed that I have a writing community of friends that are part of my new world, as I worried I was more alone this year than ever. Silly me.

And something new in the last month, I am going to church. There is a Methodist church on the corner that I've wanted to visit for thirty years. I finally told myself it was time. The sermons are short ( as is my attention span) and relevant to today's world. The pastor is charming and young, breathing life into the church this last year, and into me this last month.  I found a writing group that meets there. On my first Sunday visit, the bulletin announced  they meet there once a week. All of this two minutes from my house. Perfect for the gal who can't get anywhere on time. I can scoot out of my house at the very last minute and find my seat before the service begins.

I look back on this year and wonder what is it that made me so restless. I have wonderful friends, some that go back with me thirty plus years, some new that seem like old souls that connected years ago. I've dwelled on the fact I live by myself, no children, no family in town, dissecting that issue in my writing.  I have my six dogs that are my family here. They ground me on days I feel I may explode into the universe with stress and loneliness.  On days when the world is right, I sit on my couch and look at the six-pack surrounding me, and know I have created this life, different from what I had when married, but one that matches my needs. How did I almost forget that?

Family, friends, community, a passion to connect to others, my writing, a house that holds all my memories of a life well-lived, and a life that continues to grow. That is what I am thankful for today.

Yes, the dogs are glaring at me. I forgot to include them in the statement above. I am so happy to have my six-pack.  They are a group of hooligans, but they bring life to a house that could be too quiet. They remind me a broken spirit can be healed with love. They teach me that the simple things are what count. They teach me to enjoy the moment. They make me laugh out loud and be silly. They remind me, that eating lots of food is a good thing! And I will chow down with friends later today!

Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving! May you be as happy as a pup with its head out the car window, inhaling all that life has to offer.


Friday, October 10, 2014

October Musings On Life, Change, And Shop Vacs

Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves.
~Humbert Wolfe, P.L.M.: Peoples, Landfalls, Mountains, 1936
 Last Saturday was my first October eve of the new season where I sat outside wrapped in a fleece jacket watching the flames of a small bonfire spark into the night sky. The moment was shared with friends, some old, some new, in celebration of a dear friend’s housewarming. The warmth I felt went deeper than the heat from the fire and the pleasure of being in the company of others. For a gal who lives alone with six dogs, being surrounded by humans is a treat all to itself, but tonight the crisp air filled me with so much more.
Writing this today I searched for the right word . . . and found it. Anticipation. Fall brings with it the promise of what lies ahead for the remainder of the year. It renews my spirit. It brings thoughts of family to me, where I am by myself most of the time, with the exception of a pack of hounds. I am lucky to have wonderful friends – but my house lacks the closeness of family. Who knew at age sixty-six I would miss the fact there are no children, no grandchildren, although I surely knew I would miss my husband when he died six years ago. The children thing took me by complete surprise.
Those who know me know I am really not a ‘kid’ person. I’ve never been around babies. I love children’s books, antique toys, but I’ve never been in the company of little people for more than a quick visit. My mother had to correct me many years ago when I was trying to get the attention of a small child.
 “You are calling to that little girl like she is a puppy.” My mother shook her head and laughed at me.
The good news, it worked. The little girl came over to me. I tried not to pat her on the head.
 It is not that I don’t like children. Please don’t think of me as Scrooge! It is just that my life-style took me in other directions, and my old friends were of no darn help either.
They didn’t have babies. My best friends had older children, teens and above. I have a wonderful nephew, but I missed his toddler years. Now that he and his wife have two wonderful babies, I would practice on them, but they are hours away.
 My ‘new’ friends as I like to call the people who are in my life in recent years, all have grown children and grandkids. Married, widowed, single, most have the comfort of family nearby to hold close. They talk about their grandchildren and I talk about my dogs. Would I change how I lived my life to have children now? I know the answer is no. I loved my life then and I love it now. I just have more questions than answers, and I am searching for what’s next.
This year has been an odd one for me. I talk about it, write about it, and try to analyze what is different than the previous years. It is the topic of conversation over dinner and margaritas. My friends are patient, thank goodness for that. I bore myself with my questions at times.
What happened this year that has brought on the winter of discontent? I had surgery in February. Is that the root of my mood swings? My joints hate me and I am not moving with the freedom I did at the first of this year. I’ve never given in to feeling badly. Why now?
Spring and summer found me pulling away from things I loved to do. “It is time to figure out what stays and what goes in my life.” That was my mantra this year. Devote more time to writing. Close out my antique business. And then the most challenging question of all. Should I sell my house and move closer to my family? I’ve lived in the metro Atlanta area since the late seventies. How shocking would it be to leave? How exciting would it be to reinvent myself in a small town close to the St. Johns River where I could see my mother, where my sister and her husband could visit, where my nephew and his family could stop by on their way to Jacksonville.
I thought the universe had sent a sign it was time to move. There was water on my basement floor last month, after a heavy rain, after a year of my new French drain keeping the water out. But there it was, a small puddle on grey cement, right under my antique wicker sofa. The universe said, clearly and damply, move. It was even more clear to me when the floor was dry after the next rain, and the next. 
"The universe peed on my basement floor, " I said in language my dogs could understand. "It's time for us to move." I kept that knowledge of the peeing universe to myself and only now am sharing it with you.
I put my house up for sale the next week. Confident it would be whisked away by an investor. And within two days, an offer I couldn't refuse came in from an investor, who then went on to another house with another offer. My clear vision of moving to a pink Victorian cottage in Florida shifted to my making peace with my house in Decatur. Now I wonder what the universe really wanted to say to me and did I misread my sign?
 Friends tell me to relax. Time will sort it out. For a person who doesn’t give time a chance to do anything, I am the one in charge, this is a shock to my system. Perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all for me. I can’t control the real estate market and if moving is truly in my future, I'd better hunker down and deal with it.
I woke up this morning, the window in my bedroom open, allowing cool air to surround me, the dogs cuddled up next to me, sharing their warmth, as I had my quilt pulled up close around my neck, partially to keep warm, and partially to keep a dog’s tongue out of my face, and felt energized.
It’s October. It’s fall. Anything is possible. Maybe I needed some down time to sort things out. I always jump into things without much thought, allowing the universe to guide me. The universe has been hiding from me too, or maybe the message was relax, it’s not time yet, and I missed that clue, because I am not a patient person. Maybe water on a basement floor is just that, a small leak with no real life changing message. Although I seriously doubt that.  When I find out what it was, you'll be the second to know.
 Everything is the same. Everything is different. Sometimes I am a free spirit, sometimes I am plagued with doubts. This year has given me more questions than answers. I am lucky I can take time to pull back and think. It is good if it doesn’t last too long. It is a luxury of living alone, I can dwell on my thoughts without interruption, it is also a curse, not having to answer to anyone.
The universe that speaks to me, for those who question my sanity, can be described also as faith, the man above, a gut feeling. I roll it into two words, the universe, but faith is my driving force.
Fall reminds me that the seasons change and that no matter what I am worrying about, life is full of color and beauty. I am blessed in so many ways.  I never forget that. But sometimes you have to stop and take a step back, in order to move forward. This year has been my step back. I can't wait to spring forward.
Maybe the universe will speak to me again on my basement floor. Just in case this conversation is not over,  I went to Home Depot and bought a small 2.5 gallon wet dry vac.  Be prepared for emergencies. At least that is one lesson I've learned from the incident of the water on my basement floor!

Monday, May 12, 2014

From GoodReads: Barbara Barth's Blog: Dogs, Books, Antiques, Roses - Oh My

I've added a blog to my GoodReads page. Dogs, Books, Antiques, Roses - Oh My.
My first post was added this evening. Just silly ramblings, but that is what I love to do best! Click above and come join me!

From my GoodReads blog:

My dogs are behaving badly this week. I think they are reacting to how preoccupied I've been. Two events are taking place that have me either writing or scratching. I think the scratching is what has the dogs puzzled most. They are used to me sitting for hours at the computer. They are not used to seeing me wiggle about, scratch, and yelp.

1. My blog tour for "Danger In Her Words" with WOW! Women On Writing started May 5th. I've been writing posts for the blog tour and doing a bit of media blitz. So my concentration is focused more than usual. It is amazing how the dogs sit and watch to see when/if I will get up to go to the kitchen and bring them bones. If I move in my chair, six heads jerk up, look around, then sigh and go back to home base. With all the itching going on, I am shuffling more than normal in my chair, which doubly confuses the hounds.

2. I've been working in the garden, planting roses, digging in the dirt. I pulled a few long, three leaf vines off a tall pine tree too. I was quite proud of myself. Until three days later I started to break out on my arms. Poison Ivy. It didn't spread far, but it has a terrible slow burn. The meds make me irritable and a little on edge. The dogs noticed that too. I think I heard little Chloe whisper behind my back to the others . . . perhaps she has fleas.

Seriously, I like to kid about life! My dogs are my best friends. Rescue dogs who rescued me! I'll bet you have dog stories of your own.

It is a great week in spite of the scratching. I am excited about my tour. Women On Writing is the best site to learn and grow. My David Austin rose, planted over a decade ago, is finally blooming its lush delicate pink blossoms, and I'm still planting knock-out roses by my picket-fence. This time cautious about what evil lurks close-by.

My fantasy life is coming true! Dogs, roses, writing, antiques, art, and the best of friends. I am blessed.

Book Talk With Barbara Barth is a blog where I post about other authors dreams, books, and fantasies. Would love to have you join me there.

Write me!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Driving Miss Bertha

Bertha Look-A-Like from the web.
What no dog bones? Six long faces stared at me last night. Midnight to be exact. And the six faces belonged to the six-pack.  I forgot one of the house rules . . . never, ever, ever, forget dog bones. We ran out. I didn't have a back-up plan. If I'd been a perfect dog mom, well, I'd have gotten in the car and driven to the 24-hour Kroger, but I was fat and sassy, having eaten out earlier in the evening with my boomer girl-friends at a Greek Pizza place. My tummy was full. I didn't need any more treats myself. It wasn't as if the dogs hadn't eaten supper. They did not have treats for bed.
If this was a children's story, I'd toss the keys to Bertha and send her out shopping with my debit card. But this is real life, so I did my best. I reached in the huge bag of kibble and pulled out a heaping handful of Iams mini-chunks, and, cleverly disguised as treats, handed a tiny little morsel to each dog as they stood there trying to see what I was dishing out.
Chloe was excited. Her tiny mouth was just the right size to make a mini-chunk seem maxi. Rascal, her roly-poly self, wiggled until I thought she would pop from excitement. I plopped a mini chunk in her mouth and she had no idea she'd gotten anything. She swallowed it as it hit her big pink tongue. She stared me down, one blue eye and one brown eye looking at me in disbelief. Bray, barked, and pranced about, his black hair flowing out as he raced up to me and then slipped backwards, not sure what he was staring at between my fingers. Being the skittish one, he wasn't sure if that morsel was friend or foe, or there at all. Perhaps I was trying to trick him. I could see he was worried. Being of good spirit, I offered him two mini-chunks, and his tiny pinkish black tongue darted out and grabbed them, so quickly, but gently. Then he turned and dashed out of the room. Miss April In Paris was game for anything. She grabbed her mini-chunk with gusto and ran into the sunroom with the tiny treasure wedged between her teeth. Annabelle, her lazy old self, was already asleep in the bed and had no idea she was being short-boned.
Bertha was not to be so easily convinced. She lives for bones. She behaves for bones. She expects bones at night when she is crated. She is the only dog that sleeps in a crate by the bed, the other dogs sleep with me. Bertha has a bit of a history . . . and at night she is best in her bed in her crate. She doesn't mind at all . . . because there are bones to reward her for being the odd dog out of the nest. There were no rewards tonight. Bertha went to her crate and curled up, one eye looking suspiciously at me, the one who forgot the bones. I tossed her twelve mini-chunks, which she picked at with her huge mouth until, one by one, she found them, and delicately ate them. It is amazing to watch her wide mouth so tenderly nuzzle a mini-chunk. She could lop off an arm with that over-sized jaw. She flung one last glance at me and turned her back to go to sleep.
I was exhausted worrying that I'd failed the dogs. They were happy to be in my bed and the bone incident was long forgotten. I could hear them snoring as I tip-toed down the hallway. Suddenly I was hungry. Starved in fact. It had been five hours since dinner, perhaps I should get a snack.
What goes around, comes around. I opened the fridge and stared at its well lit empty shelves. I pulled open the cupboards and all that greeted me was a can of tomato sauce, an odd assortment of spices, and several boxes of Barilla pasta.
No chips, no dip, no salsa . . .  oh yes, and no dog bones.
That was last night. Today I've been writing all day at my computer, getting ready for my blog tour with Women On Writing (WOW) that starts on Monday. I haven't left the house and it's almost seven pm.
Excuse me. I must run. . . Kroger is calling and I'm heading to get groceries. There will not be a repeat performance of last night. And since I am the only one with a license . . . just saying . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Garden Daze With Dogs

I have a bunch of lazy dogs. They take after me.  On a lovely spring day you most likely will find us lounging in the house rather than out in the beautiful weather. It's not the pollen, not the heat, we are just a pack of sluggish hounds.

Snuggling on the couch under the ceiling fan is very relaxing. Looking out the large picture window in the living room, at the sloping yard that ends with a natural picket fence by the street, the grass speckled with sun as its rays push through the branches of tall pines, and the huge expanse of ground that rounds to the right of way, makes it a bucolic setting. Restful.

Who wants to get up and move? I wasn't always so lazy myself, but hanging out with six dogs is a great stress reducer, and I find it hard to get up and do stuff . . . garden stuff.  I get up to write, eat, chat on my cell, drive off to meet friends for shopping and dinner, but work in the garden has been something I've avoided for a few years. The work was done, but by semi-professionals, and I would look at it later, after I'd written my check, and sigh . . . so beautiful.

This month things are changing. I am doing work myself. I still need a professional to mow the yard, but the clean-up, plantings, and other little jobs are now mine. It is a task I've told myself it's time to take on. Get some exercise, get the dogs out in the fresh air, save some money . . . the new me, sparkling at sixty-five.

Ready to drop in the yard at sixty-five. A few days of vigorous word, raking old leaves from the fall, bagging them, taking them in my little Red Ryder wagon to the street, all joyous activities, all finding muscles and joints I haven't used lately.

Yet I find I am smiling like an idiot. And so are the dogs. We love being outside in these glorious days. I've missed the simple pleasures of my yard. Digging in the dirt is so cathartic. Watching the dogs lounge on the deck, silly smiles on their faces as their heads point up towards the sky, drinking in the sunshine.




The couch will be empty while we all prance in the yard. There is plenty of time to snuggle at night and watch TV.

Perhaps a gardening show on HGTV.

You never know what tricks an old dog can learn.


Lesson Learned!
I did and so did the dogs. I bathed. They didn't. Now the house smells like dirt. That's so much
better than some of the smells from the dogs!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

I'm not going bald. . . I am just going crazy!

Clip art from The Wonders Of Disney

Okay, my friends will be howling at this one.  The ones I told my story to earlier this week.  Tee-hee. I can't believe I am writing this, but you know, I've written worse.

I have worried that my hair was thinning, especially on the left side of my temple. Concerned the blood pressure medicine I had been taking for a year was the problem,  I Googled the pill to see what danger lurked in the background  and a possible - mind you, just possible, not really for sure - side-effect is hair loss. Yikes.

Convinced that this small possibility was my huge reality, I called to make an appointment with my doctor to discuss alternatives. Like, get me off the darn pill. The doctor was out of town, but I could see her new physician's assistant. The next day I was at the office, my speech memorized on why I did not need to be on blood pressure medicine.

The physician's assistant was great.  She is the age of Susan in Danger In Her Words.  We chatted like girlfriends on that visit, well I did. I told her about the book I was working on and that she could be the main character. Well, not really, she was married, in the medical field, and not the least neurotic. But she did have long dark hair and was the right age.

"Let me take your blood pressure now." She smiled sweetly and put the cuff on my arm.

Easy Peasy, I thought. She'd had me talking and laughing, she would see how low my blood pressure could go.

"Oh my. It's rather high." She shook her head. "Perhaps we should up your dose."

"White coat fever." I made a cross sign with my fingers and backed away from her.

"Make an appointment at the desk for next month. Let's keep an eye on this." She laughed at me. "I want to hear more about your book too."

I got in my car to head home somewhat discouraged. At the first red light, I pulled down my visor and peeked at my face. Don't do that in the bright sunlight is all I will say. Then I pulled back my hair on the left side and cringed. Where was the hair under the dark layers above it? A question I was sick of asking myself. I also noticed a small halo of grey right at my forehead and knew it was time to color again.

Not to drag this on until you shake your head and call me crazy, or boring, both names I have been known to answer to.

I color my own hair, and have forever. I cut it too. In earlier years, I did my own perms. Sitting at a beauty shop was not for me. Tried it, spent the big bucks, came home and hated what I'd pay for. At some point I made the decision if I didn't like the results, I could not like them for free, and do it myself.

The drug store was on the path to my house and I decided I needed to tackle this issue right away. I had actually colored my hair the week before, but only left the mixture on my head for half the suggested time. I had dinner with friends and could not wait longer. I've seen touch-up kits, but never tried one. It was time to do something different. The box had a mixing bowl, two tiny tubes, and a small brush. Ten minutes was all the time needed for results.

I mixed the color, grabbed the tiny little brush with my fingers, and went about lifting the layers of hair around my face, especially that dreaded area that made me sad, and slowly brushed color on every strand from roots to end. This was different than how I normally colored my hair, with haste, running my fingers and a nozzle over my head and rubbing in.

When my buzzer went off I washed my hair and blew it dry. I looked in the mirror and almost let out a yelp of joy. Where I thought I'd been bald was rich with color. I wasn't loosing my hair, I was an idiot who didn't know how to color it. What I thought was bald, what I had looked at without my glasses, was pale, almost silver white hair. Hair that I missed when I colored my hair in haste.

I called all my friends with the news. No one realized I colored my hair. Cat out of the bag.

Did turning sixty-five make me more peculiar than I normally am? I'll get back with you on that one. Right now I feel like my old self again. No pun intended with the word old. I bet if I had my blood pressure taken now, I'd get off that darn pill.

Clip art from The Wonders Of Disney
Age doesn't bother Minnie and she was created in 1928!
So I'm not letting it bother me . . .
Disclaimer: My thoughts on grey hair in the great debate if you should go grey or color. I color my hair because if I let the grey come in around my face I look tired. If I didn't color my hair, I'd have to wear more make-up! Some of my friends look damn sexy with their grey. When I finally kick the bucket, some good friend of mine better come color my hair or put bright red lipstick on me before the viewing at the funeral home. Just saying.....

Monday, March 31, 2014

Time To Get Under Control . . . Where Is My List?


Do you make lists? I don't.

My late husband always had a little book with him, one that organized his day, plans, and thoughts. I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, never quite sure what I needed to do.

"Write it down." He told me this daily our first years together as a couple. "Make a list. Get a book," and he'd stop writing in his to show me a worn leather folder, the size of a check book, "A day timer."

My reply was always the same. "Who would remind me to look at it." I'd never think to reach in my purse, look on the desk, or do whatever needed to be done to grab it and see what my list for the day was. So I did the next best thing, I placed my list where I would be sure to see it. On the bathroom mirror, on the medicine cabinet above the sink, not a slip of paper, or a post-it, but in lipstick. I'd see it every time I brushed my teeth. I brush my teeth more than the average person I am sure, so I knew I'd see my list without having to search for it. When I completed something, I'd wipe it clean and start over again.

There was some flack with that idea, but he got used to it as I got a bit more organized.

He made lists in Outlook on their calendar and every day a reminder popped up for him on the computer, yet he kept his day timer by his side. If he'd had a cell phone I am sure his calendar would have been full there too.

Me? I am spiraling down in disaster these days with what I am to do and when.

Last spring I did a bit of renovation on the house, replacing the old bathroom fixtures with new ones. The medicine cabinet was the first thing to go. My handyman Mighty Joe hauled if off to the dump. Years of lipstick lists had kept me on track. Did I put in a new medicine cabinet? No. I found an old Eastlake window an antique dealer friend of mine had fitted with a small mirror in the center and had that hung over my sink, where the old cabinet used to be. It is beautiful. You don't put lipstick notes on an antique. So two things became painfully apparent as I brushed my teeth every morning, noon, and night.

1. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my day, what were the important things to accomplish.
2. I had no idea where my makeup, ibuprofen, and other items were. I no longer had a medicine cabinet.

I adapted. I started sending e-mail lists to myself every night before bed that I'd get first thing in the morning to remind me what I needed to do.  It was a great idea. I slept like a baby. The weight of worry off my mind. The next morning when all my e-mails came in, I'd forget to check the one marked 'list'.

Then one morning while drinking coffee and reading e-mail in Windows Live Mail I looked to the far right side of my monitor. There was a sidebar with a weekly calendar next to the window where I read my messages. It was a light bulb moment.  I could open up the larger calendar, make my lists, and they would show in the sidebar on each day of the week. How difficult could this be? All I had to do was remember to turn my head to the right when I was in my e-mail. I found a small sticky note and put it on my monitor with an important message to myself. Look right when in e-mail.

I know better. You don't write in lipstick on a monitor. It was hard enough finding an old post-it,  but this was as close to my lipstick theory as I could get. The first thing I do every morning, before I brush my teeth, is to check my e-mail. This may work if my note doesn't fly off into the dust bunnies on the floor I keep trying to remember to sweep up.

Yes, I have a cell. Yes it has a calendar. So what is your point?


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Post-Op Delirium

Photo from Pinterest - Love the colors
Photo from Pinterest - An art studio for my painting.
     Yesterday I had my post-op visit with my doctor and I am good to go. Still need to pace myself, but I think two weeks indoors has played with my psyche. I’m thinking funny thoughts today. Wildly crazy visions of a new life. I was on Pinterest looking at mid-century modern flats in New York and European rooms in Paris, enjoying the views of tall ceilings, huge windows looking over the cities, colorful furniture, and walls of art and mirrors. Even a lovely French style sofa with tattered velvet covering made me sigh, such perfection in its faded elegance.
     It’s not that I don’t have my own house filled with color, art, and tattered furniture, which I love. It is just that two weeks recovering from surgery has left me daft. So much to do around here, and so little desire to do anything, except think of extravagance and change.
     My internet service crashing as I was looking at photos didn’t help either. I called to be sure they received my payment (I was late, but hey, I had surgery!) and it was not my issue, but a neighborhood issue. Give it an hour I was told by a tech. I am. But waiting is boring, for a gal who is bored recuperating at home for two weeks already. So I let my mind play games. I’m moving to new city, in a high rise, and going thoroughly modern Barbara.
      These are the thoughts that crossed my mind as my internet crashed:
       Move to Paris, if that is not possible, try NYC.
       Sell my old cupboards and cottage furniture, upgrade to modern with a hint of antique.
       Change out all my vintage oil paintings for prints and watercolors behind glass to reflect more light.
     Sell my car and buy a bike for city life.
     Dig out my paints and canvases, I feel a still-life coming on.
     Get a cat. Hahaha. That is just a joke. My six dogs are looking at me suspiciously as I giggle and write this.
     Wait, is that the internet connection coming back? My goodness, it is.
      Never mind what I just wrote! I think I’ll go back and look at more photos on Pinterest, you know the ones I post to my boards on painted cottage furniture, garden style art, farmhouses, and walls full of oil paintings.  The cottage in my mind is still a dream, the flat in Paris, well, that is a wild fantasy brought on by too much time alone!
      Six dogs won’t make it to Paris or NYC. And I don’t go anywhere without them. I can drive again, my doctor told me so. I think my big adventure will be tonight, dinner out. Anyone care to join me?  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pizza Anyone?

Chloe look-a-like from the web.
I am restless. That is a great sign I am doing well. I can't rest much longer, although technically I have to take it easy. Next week I find out if I can drive. I've occupied myself with promoting my new book, Danger In Her Words, online and am working on my dog memoir. Later today I will post on my book blog, Book Talk With Barbara Barth, where I love to promote other authors. Perhaps I'll list on Ebay. When you are confined to your home with six canine companions it is a great time to think about the past and look towards the future. Surgery has a way of putting things in perspective. It also is a bit tedious if you are used to going full speed ahead! My wheels are spinning...but I am in park.
Friends have visited, their bright smiles making me happy. I spent the entire day before surgery cleaning a house that has needed to be cleaned for two years. Not of dirt, I do sweep and dust, but of all the merchandise that needed to leave my house so people could fit in. My antique dealer friends understand what that is all about. I find it amazing that it took a bit of surgery to open up more than I realized. I've wanted to entertain in my home, but between the dogs and my stuff, it has been talk, just talk. Now it is a reality.
How funny to me that last Saturday night, in my jammies, surrounded by dogs, a good friend came over for dinner and a movie. A first in, hmmm...four years. The dogs behaved well, the movie was hysterical. I laughed until I thought my sides would split, a pillow tucked close to my stomach. Then, later, alone, I looked at my sparkling hardwood floors, the gentle light from a few lamps highlighting their sheen, my antique cottage pieces no longer stacked high with 'stuff', and the art on my walls nodding back to me as if to say...about damn time.
The dogs are slowly bossing me around again. First Chloe had her breakdown and had to sleep with me. Two nights later I heard Bertha barking in her crate in the living room. It was three in the morning. I think she'd had it sleeping away from the others. She is crated at night, but in the bedroom. She felt exiled in the living room. I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled into the living room. "Good girl, Bertha." I reached down, bending as little as possible, and unhooked her crate. Bertha, all seventy-five pounds of her, trotted down towards the bedroom and into her open crate. She did a few circles, plopped down, and went to sleep. I pulled myself back into my bed.
Ten minutes later the racket from the sunroom was more than I could ignore. I pulled myself back up (and that is the hardest part of my surgery, getting up and down). Annabelle, my dear old hound, was barking, she could not find a spot on the couch, the others were there. I let Annabelle follow me back up the hall. She got her chunky butt up on the low bench at the foot of my bed, crawled under my quilt, and fell asleep. Chloe, of course, had to screech a few minutes that Annabelle crawled into the very spot Chloe had been sleeping. I pulled myself back to bed. We all slept well.
Three dogs back in the bedroom, three more to come. I'm getting there slowly.
The day looms ahead. I'll be here by myself with the dogs, figuring what to do to feel in touch with civilization. I have been so fortunate that my best friend for years, is a chef. She prepared twenty-six individual cooked and frozen gourmet meals, and I have eaten the healthiest and tastiest food one could imagine. I'd have been lost without her kindness, for I never cook and my cupboards are bare. (except for vintage treasures tucked in where food should be!).

I've been very good. Eating the right foods, not drinking soda, glass after glass of water. I feel good. My system loves how healthy I've been eating. My mind is tempting me today. Be bad, have fun. Should I, could I, would I? I think the answer is yes.
Tonight I'm thinking Pizza. Anyone care to join me?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dogs Know

Chloe look-a-like from the web.
My dogs know something is up. They are behaving themselves and stepping lightly around my body that is tucked up on the large wing chair, rather than sprawled out on my Tommy Bahama sofa, where we normally pile up most nights and watch TV as a group. Things are different this week. I had surgery on Monday. The dogs can not jump on me. They watch with gentle eyes and go back to sleeping on anything other than me. A sense that I am not quite well has taken over their normal wild ways, and they wait patiently for this to pass, and life to get back to normal.
They are not allowed in the bedroom just yet either. Our ritual of running down the hall, jumping on the bed, each dog in the exact spot they have slept on over the years, has changed. A temporary change. Again, they understand and wait.
Except for Chloe, my little eight pound Chihuahua. She did well with the pack in the sunroom, the room I spend my days on the computer, Tuesday night, my first night home from the hospital. Wednesday night we had a dog freak-out. In the wee morning hours Chloe started to screech at the top of her tiny lungs. I eased myself out of bed, the way they showed me in the hospital to stretch and roll to get my feet on the floor, than padded down the hallway to see what had happened to cause the ruckus. I opened the door and Chloe flew out like a rabid animal, dashing up and down the hallway, her eyes bugging out of her fawn colored head, that tiny pink tongue poking out of her mouth, her ears pinned back and low. She ran one end to another, then sprinted up on my bed and ran in circles until she dropped on my quilt, exhausted.
I went back down the hall and closed the sunroom door, as five heads poked up, five tales wagged, and five dogs continued to huddle together, sleeping, undisturbed by the sounds of an eight pound dog gone crazy.
Chloe would not leave the bed. And I decided she did not have to. I moved onto my bed in a sitting position, then eased down to sleep. Chloe curled up by my side. Her breathing gentle now. Her forever place by my side secured.  We both slept quietly and deeply until the morning.
Week one of surgery almost behind me. Things are going well thanks to my friends who have brought me food,  a pet-sitter who comes by to feed the dogs and let them out several times a day, and a pack of silly hounds who have surprised me yet again with life lessons on understanding.

Friday, February 14, 2014

ChickLitLove Valentine'sTweetathon

Check out the Valentine's Tweetathon on Twitter #ChickLitLove and find some wonderful authors and their books! I've joined in, but my knowledge of Twitter leaves much to be desired. But a gal can learn! Proud to be included in ChickLitChat on Facebook!

Let the tweets begin. . . . I think!

Danger In Her Words was released on February 12th. Currently in paperback only, but look for Kindle next week! On Amazon .

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Danger In Her Words" Published In Time For Valentine's Day. A Romantic Romp!

Paperback on Amazon. Kindle coming week of February 17th.
The best of news on a snowed-in day in Georgia. My book is now available on Amazon. A work of fiction, a bit girly, sassy, sexy, and fun, I am so happy to have finished it. My life since spring has been centered on writing, re-writing, and editing. An anticipated publication date of Christmas with a marketing theme of 'naughty or nice' got postponed until Valentine's Day.  I think it is the perfect romp for the most romantic holiday of the year!

A TV sitcom pitch gone wrong turns dog-column writer Susan Meyers in a tailspin. Sex Sells was the topic of the day at the writers’ convention. Susan decided to try something new and a steamy romantic novel seemed just the answer. A widow who hadn’t dated in three years, Susan was out of practice with men and sex. She turned to an online dating site to find inspiration for her book and unleashed a predator with the words she wrote. Tucked an hour away from her friends in a small town where she kept to herself, with only her tiny dog for company, Susan felt safe from the world. Little did she know her life was about to change.
 A romp of a story about writing and finding yourself in this book within a book. If you love girl-talk, farmhouses, antiques, country towns, a touch of murder, a sprinkle of suspense, and a bit of naughty fun, come join Susan as she learns about life from her character Jamie. Two widows looking for love in all the wrong places might still get it right if they live long enough.
Book and cover design by pd king design. Published by Gilbert Street Press.