I have a new blog located at mtnmusings.wordpress.com. The inaugural post appeared yesterday. Not sure what the theme will be. Please join me so we can all be surprised!
Yes, it has been over 4 months since my last post. And this will probably be one of the last posts for this blog. In retrospect, my Dad was the impetus for its creation, & so much of the content was about him. Now that he is gone, I can’t find a reason to continue writing it. Perhaps a new one will replace it…to be decided.
This post is about Christmas, first & foremost. Here are some pics of this year’s decor:
It is also about tying up loose ends. Since Dad’s passing, we have been under construction, trying to finish the house as we have always envisioned it. Some of the changes were a necessity. Top of the fix list was the “pier” that led to the front door. It was rotting out, much to my delight. I mean, why have a pier without a beach? Tony (our ace construction guru) finished the stairs & the Tennessee fieldstone walkway, but it was too wet and cold to paint the wood to match the existing trim before Christmas.
The other major project is a complete remodel of the master suite, which Dad occupied. We decided to move upstairs, because it is so much easier for me to live on the main floor. But the bathroom is not working for us at all. The vanity is so short that at 5’4″, I feel like a giant spitting toothpaste into a thimble! The shower is very tiny, & the big feature (i.e., space hog) is a spa bathtub that I physically couldn’t get in & out of, and wouldn’t use anyway, if you put a gun to my head! Additionally, the plan contains a separate water closet! 😃
The new space will contain a large doorless shower with a built-in seat. There will also be a small laundry room that will house a combo washer-dryer unit. (This appliance washes & dries clothes, which is great. I can remember to wash a load, but drying the wet stuff is often not on my radar! Greg will be so happy not to have to be the laundry rescuer.) All of the tile will be replaced (thank goodness), & new lighting will make a huge difference to the room’s ambience.
In the bedroom, there will be cosmetic changes. We will shiplap the wall behind the bed, as well as the opposite wall that contains a bureau, with a tv hanging above it. The stonework will be removed, and the columns will be boxed in. There will be a wonderful orb chandelier installed in the sitting area. Tony is scheduled to start work on the master suite on a January 2nd.
The other completed project that sent me over then moon was the reconfiguration of the interior stairs. Let me be honest…I have detested the stairs since I first laid eyes on them. They were not built to code (i.e., the distance between treads was random, and the stairs had no backing. In other words, you could see underneath the steps.) Our grandsons were afraid of them, not to mention the fact that the rough wood on back of the stair treads attracted “dust stalagtites” that were impossible to reach/remove.
The other unsavory feature of the stairway was the balusters and handrail. The balusters were wood sticks, many of which were warped! The effect was dizzying and distracting. Additionally, the handrail was not built to code; it was too thick to grab, and therefore useless (as well as ugly!) I knew I wanted something clean-looking, & a bit industrial. Originally we thought about using wire cables, strung horizontally, for the balusters. However, my fear was that there would be too much “give” in the cables for the kids to feel safe. Also, cables are high maintenance. They need to be constantly tightened to make sure they are safe.
I happened upon a picture of stairs that utilized steel pipe instead of cables. Ultimately, that was what we went with: 1″ diameter pipe spray painted an aged bronze color. The posts, which now sport traditional finials, and handrails are now constructed with white pine 4x4s. I initially considered staining them to match the remaining stair parts, but decided the contrast was lovely. They will receive a couple of coats of poly when I get a “round tuit”. (If there isn’t one in my Christmas stocking, we may live with raw wood!)
Tony closed in the open treads, and installed tongue-in-groove boards behind the treads. The piece de resistance is the construction of a bookcase that replaces the bannister above the stairs that lead to the basement. It’s the perfect place to hide the kids’ favorite toys in baskets, as well as showcasing favorite dustables & books. For Christmas, it’s the perfect spot for a candlelit village.
This morning, I woke up early to decorate reindeer cupcakes for the grandsons, & for a friend’s little boys. There was a time that I would have taken infinite care in the construction of the critters. However, my hands do not perform very well lately, so the results are quite comical. The guy pictured on the left, who I christened “Burt the runny-nosed reindeer”, looks like he is suffering from an awful cold. Poor deer! 🤓
Speaking of kids, here are the annual Christmas pics of Jen’s family.
The boys received an early gift of a yellow lab puppy named Shelby. Apparently, she is growing like a weed, right along with the boys! Unfortunately, her favorite snacks consist of Christmas tree skirts & wrapped gifts. Jennifer is not too fond of her…😩
Tomorrow we will be with Riley & Reese to see them open gifts. Unfortunately, their big gift from us is a Lego table, complete with storage bins. I say unfortunately, because the construction elf (their Pop) is still feverishly working to complete it. Maybe not Pop’s favorite project ever, but I know Riley will be over the moon when he sees it!
WordPress is not cooperating very well today. Too much spiked eggnog? So I will close by saying that it will be another 3 months before I wrap up this blog, at which time we will do a complete before and after tour of the completed house.
As an aside, in 2 weeks I will be leaving for a 3-month stint at a Lyme clinic located in Massachusetts. Fingers crossed that they can help me get up and walking without using a mobility scooter or a wheelchair! I had this thought today: we have lived in Ellijay for 5-1/2 years. I wonder if anyone would recognize me without my wheelchair?I asked Santa for a chance to find out!
Truly, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, & the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous of New Years.
…Is a result of my Dad’s passing away on July 13th. I just don’t feel like sharing my thoughts & feelings very much right now. Just trying to get used to the idea, I guess.
It’s not that this blog is defunct (I just renewed my WordPress subscription), it’s just hibernating for a while. However, Greg & I have been doing a lot of work downstairs. The tile arrived for fireplace & kitchen backsplash, and the barn doors have been shipped. Slowly, but slowly we are getting there. When I do write a new post, there will be a lot to show & tell about.
Take care. Talk to you soon.
Our Christmas Miracle
It just occurred to me that a blog that started out as a breezy, humorous, decorating missive, has become anything but that. In retrospect, the last 4+ years have been as much about battling health issues as it has been about choosing paint colors and remodeling living spaces.
Most recently, our biggest struggle has been my 88-year old Dad’s illness. From November 25-December 28, he spent a total of 22 days in a major downtown Atlanta hospital, where a team of infectious disease specialists worked to save the life of an elderly man with stage 4 kidney disease (which severely limited treatment options), who was suffering from excruciating pain due to a bacterial infection in his spine, and abscesses in his back.
Atlanta is, under the best of conditions, a 90-minute car ride from Ellijay. Add in unpredictable traffic patterns & adverse weather conditions, and that commute time can double. Somehow, we were there to visit Dad 90% of the days that he was there. Greg did all of the driving, and tried to manage his workload, in between trips to and fro. He is so exhausted.
The worst part of the ordeal was visiting Dad, seeing him in pain, and being unable to help him. The pain management people were over-medicating him to the point that he was hallucinating, but the pain never abated. I cried a lot, and begged them to re-think his medication regimen.
The day before Christmas Eve, I sat and held his hand, praying that God would use our hands as a mechanism to allow healing to enter Dad’s body. Earlier that week I had started spraying Colloidal Silver into his mouth (an element that contains anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties); I continued spraying as he slept. I believe hat God blessed my actions that day.
On Christmas Eve, as I continued to wrap gifts, the phone rang. It was the palliative nurse from the hospital calling. She wanted me to know that it was time to arrange hospice care for Dad. The opinion of his care team was that Dad was tired…too tired to make a full recovery, and we needed ongoing care now that he was in “that state”. I asked her what state that was, and when she said, “well…”, it hit me like a brick. My Dad was going to die very soon! I completely lost it, and spent the hours before our trip to the hospital sobbing at the thought of him dying, still in pain.
When we arrived at the hospital, Dad was sleeping. The nurse said she couldn’t wake him up. I leaned over and said “hey, Dad”. He immediately woke up and said, “good, you found me!” He then proceeded to tell us that his pain was completely gone. He was totally lucid, and we had a great visit!
On Christmas Day, we had similar experience. Dad ate the home-cooked meal we brought him (he noted that his appetite was coming back!), and ate an entire piece of cheesecake for dessert. Sitting up in bed without any pain, he was even able to open his Christmas gifts. Jen and family came and visited Dad, before we all left for dinner at Benihana’s.
Yes, our daughter can now cross off a bucket list item, although we did not sing “Deck the Halls” during our meal. Riley, who is learning to sound out words, asked me how to pronounce our Japanese chef’s name, which was embroidered on his shirt. I looked and started laughing. My response? “Juan”! ;>}
Below is a pic of our hibachi chefs in training:
So, our Christmas came. It was very different, but we were able to find humor in our new “traditions”, and mostly, we all felt so blessed by Dad’s miraculous recovery.
The man who was pronounced nearly dead, was released from the hospital on Monday, 12/28. He had not been out of bed for over 2 weeks. When we arrived home, Dad was unable to walk. Greg had him lay on the floor just inside the door to the house. From there, he grabbed him under the armpits and literally dragged him into to his bedroom. Luckily, the path was all hardwood flooring, and there were no bumps or obstacles in the way. Yesterday (1/1/16), with the aid of a walker, he was able to walk from his bedroom to the living room, where he sat in a normal chair, and watched the first half of the UT-Northwestern Outback Bowl game. My Dad is amazing!
Thank you God! This was our best Christmas EVER!