Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Opening Faces

We are discovering garden secrets left behind by a previous home owner.
When tulips popped up along the front walkway,
I couldn't resist cutting a few to
juxtapose against the reds of our living room sofa.
Hostas galore are coming along in shaded areas.
A couple chive plants...
And I'm cooking up early rhubarb stems
to brew pale pink rhubarb cordials.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Tidings

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and
hallelujah is our song."

Pope John Paul II

"Our lord has written the promise of resurrection,
not in books alone
but in every leaf of springtime."

Martin Luther


Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Makeover

Here's what happened after the pure white snow (see previous post) disappeared.

Daffodils and pansies



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pure As...

Not as the driven snow. But pure.
This morning's snowfall was soft and feathery,
Big, fat visible flakes that stacked one on top of the other.

In an hour, they were gone. Invisible.
Wet wood all around.
Spring must be here!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Living Minimally

It's the last flight of our snowbird adventure.
A cash offer on our Florida house makes it possible for us to simplify our lives and go home to just one familiar nest, one property tax, house insurance, and set of utility bills.
We're cutting our possessions in half by selling the house furnished and emptying
 cupboards, drawers, and closets of our personal possessions.

I'm reveling in sunshine on clear surfaces,
 the empty closets painted a delicious pistachio green,
and driving un-needed items to Salvation Army,
 ReStore (retail store for Habitat for Humanity) and Goodwill.

Without dishes, pots and pans in the kitchen,
dining comes in convenience forms.
Without clothing in the closet,
I get dressed out of a suitcase.

Inspection happens next week.
Closing on March 7.

It will be sad to leave this all behind but the time has come.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pax Vobiscum

We see snowy rooftops through the fog today but by tomorrow the rain
 will wash the white away.
Wishing you and yours a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Abbey Style Guest Bedroom

We assembled a guest room by moving our queen-size bed from our bedroom into the master suite and adding a few monkish bits and pieces. (Our Christmas gift to each other was a new split-king adjustable bed that now fills out our bedroom which, oddly enough, is bigger than the master suite bedroom.)

If you're up for simplicity, we have a guest room waiting...

I found these lovely linens at West Elm.

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A reluctant sun is showing up this morning, shimmering in through the window panes for a bit, then slipping away to gray skies.. The rain has gone and it's time to do my kitty run. The kids are vacationing in Florida and I feed their cat every morning.
I can drive again!

After every cat run, I stop somewhere to shop. This morning, I picked up Christmas greens and oranges at Whole Foods. Each day a small addition to festive décor.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Update 2

Thank you for your prayers and hopes for my improvement. Indeed, things are moving forward.

I can now walk without the cane...except when I go outdoors. I take it along in case I encounter odd stairs or slopes, uneven surfaces. I'm back at the computer, typing with my old keyboard skills, and sewing quilt squares on my sewing machine. I've made a couple meatloaves but confess to doing a lot of takeout :) Lots of naps help the healing. Lots of homework exercises.

Landon and I are busy decorating for the Halloween party we are throwing for his parents. I'm vacuuming with my new Red Devil and plan to dress as a witch (The Witch Is In!)

One more month of outpatient therapy and I will be driving again.

Hurray!! Thanks again and I'll be back!

Thursday, September 29, 2016


my keyboard skills aren't yet back to normal but I am now walking with a 4-point cane, climbing stairs, folding laundry, dropping things in tubes, standing on one leg like a flamingo for a few seconds and doing all sorts of therapy tricks...all toward regaining strength in the collapsed muscles as well as regaining my sense of balance. they say I will be walking without support by next Wednesday, the day I go home, October 5.

after that, I will do outpatient therapy until my skills are perfected.
long ago, stroke victims just lived with the losses. now aggressive therapy immediately after the event has been discovered to be successful, the outcomes are much more hopeful.
and I have been blessed with AGGRESSIVE THERAPY!

bless you for keeping me in your prayers and know that I keep you all in my heart!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

learning patience and humility

I have had a stroke and am recovering in therapy for a month or so. eventually I should be able to post again.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Work in Progress

Our new house comes with three levels of outdoor living:
A balcony on the second story.
A large deck on the main level.
And a patio outside the walkout basement.

The seller left a few things behind.
Like this long, narrow table that once served as a butcher's
meat-cutting work surface.
Hunter repaired the table top, sanded it a bit,
but left some of the antique finish for me to enjoy.

At the moment, the table is unfinished
but I'm imagining it as a sort of pub table,
a place to lay out a buffet on a pleasant summer evening.
Lighting. Plants. Seating.

For now, it's a table-in-waiting while we work on
more immediate projects.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Changing Colors

My decorating palette in the south is quite different from the one I use up north.
 What they have in common is that both schemes
 are inspired by natural surroundings.

  For example, the colors for our winter home in Florida, above, come from sea and sky, rain and palm, lime and pistachio. Whenever I enter its light-and-airy southern spaces, I can feel my spirits lift like a kite on a seaside breeze.

Iowa's vibe for decorating inspiration in the north, below, grows from field and stream, oak and walnut, fire and smoke. They are colors rooted in rich soil and when I'm home in Iowa I know my feet are firmly planted on the ground.

I love the contrast in palettes that provide such delightful breaks in the annual round of moving between two places and experiencing both landscapes. But the time has come to simplify, come home to family in Iowa, and settle into one last house. This winter, we will sell our Florida cottage.

Meanwhile, this summer, we're settling into our Iowa townhouse.
Our 25-year-old cranberry sectional seems transformed now that it's moved away
 from the pale carpet of the last condo
 onto the dark, gleaming wood floor of the new townhouse.

Hunter assembled the abbey-style table and bench that will host
family-and-friends dinners in the future.
I spotted this monastery-style pedestal table at a local furniture store.
It will go to work as a sideboard at the end of the long, communal table.

 We're enjoying the company of grandsons who helped us move
and keep coming over to make adjustments. They're also
good at the mysteries of technology.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Band-Aid For Now

Like the pantry in my previous post, I removed the doors on the upper cabinets
 of one kitchen wall and painted their dark interiors "Pale Sunshine" to bring in the light, visually push back the walls, and feel the illusion of more space.
 But it's only a quick fix until we can afford to renovate the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I'm down in the walkout basement where dark green carpet
 and greenish-grey walls presently rule.
 But not for long.
A new "Parchment" carpet is coming to bring transparency...

...and I'm climbing my stepladder to heaven with a bucket
of  "Ethereal White" paint.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Practical Matters

Our new house was built in 1980 so it has a few architectural surprises.
Its quaint kitchen closet hidden behind a plain door suggests a pantry.
A light at the top of the closet turns on by sturdy kitchen string,
 showing off its pure, white interior and generous shelves.
But food storage for us is minimal, most of it
stocked in a refrigerator. What we need is storage for serving dishes,
linens and cookbooks.
By Day Two after closing on the house, the kitchen closet door came off and went to the garage.The result was open storage with benefits: A display of tabletop pieces, an illusion of a larger kitchen,  and easy access for setting a table or gathering baking supplies and cookbooks.

Friday, July 1, 2016


A small arrangement is the easiest way to begin a new home.
 Familiar objects placed on a new plane warm the space,
bringing peace to the eye and a sense of relaxation
after the craziness of "moving house."
It's 3 p.m. and the light is gone from the room and this
is a slice of the original iPhone shot made from my chair.
See the key hanging at the lower left?
It's the key for the gas option of the fireplace
that works two ways: wood or gas.
The Fireplace Superstore will check it out
before we light a flame.
So...welcome to our new home...
I'll reveal a bit more as we settle in.
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Moving House

I love the English expression, "moving house." Not that an actual house is being moved...but that its contents are moving somewhere else. Our summer home, a contemporary condo complex,
 is being converted into an apartment complex for the young employed
 who can't yet afford homes of their own.

      We are selling our condo as part of the overall sale of the complex and moving our home ownership to a lovely wooded, well-established area where we can explore larger spaces for family entertaining, personal pursuits of happiness, and physical exercise. And I will have the fireplace and long, communal dining table that has long been on my wish list.
      Stay tuned for decorating drama!

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's Peony Time!

We've changed places once the north where lilacs have had their day
 and peonies are opening to the warm spring air.

I snipped a few stems from a family bush for a few days of ephemeral beauty
and fleeting enjoyment.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More Color Fun

Definitely a day brightener on a rainy morning, The Breakfast Cottage is our latest Florida find. We came upon it along the Tamiami Trail where we believed Above Board, a "silent sports" store for paddle boards and kayaks would be. Turns out, the breakfast cottage sits on the corner of the block that Above Board occupies.


How could we resist?
We didn't.
Nothing beats a place that serves up great food with panache and confident style!
Open 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., they serve breakfast all day but soups and sandwiches are an option.
Here's my grilled vegetable and provolone baguette.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Color Fun

My antidote for grim news and ugly politics: A sewing machine and a glorious rainbow of flannels turned into receiving blankets for refugee babies. The idea of little ones wrapped in color and comfort helps me ignore
 the havoc on today's television.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A few quotes for the day of shamrocks,
 corned beef & cabbage,
and mulligatawny soup.
We have always found the Irish a bit odd.
 They refuse to be English.
~~Winston Churchill

Saint Patrick in stained-glass at Saint Benin's Church, Ireland
Photo: Wikipedia
The joyful heart sees and reads the world
with a sense of freedom and graciousness.
~~John O'Donohue
I try to be grateful for the abundance
of the blessings that I have,
 for the journey that I'm on
and to relish each day as a gift.
~~James McGreevey

Friday, February 12, 2016


I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly,
as the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
 I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
~~Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Young Man and the Sea

While Winter Storm Jonas created chaos in the northeast,
its tail winds stirred the gulf waters.
That's when surfer dudes gather at the jetty
to ride the foaming waves.
I don't know this daring and powerful guy
but am guilty of stalking him with my camera.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snow, A Distant Memory

Christmas cards sprinkled with snow bring the magic of the season
to our sunny little cottage in Florida.
I put them on counters for a "landscape" of sorts.
They remind me of childhood snow forts.
Tunnels to the barn where cows and cats sheltered from the cold.
 Sleds flying down a white hill to the frozen lake.
My smoky breath in the air as I waited for the school bus.
I'm over it.
Too many falls on ice.
Too many scary rides home from Christmas parties in the north.
For now, the magic of snow is best kept in memory,
movies, and pictures.
Even cartoons.
Tonight we're taking historic Venice's Christmas Walk.
An ambling walk along the tree-lit boulevard where shop treats await,
music fills the air,
and the final destination is a bench on the beach for a look at a starlit sky.
After that, we'll go home to How Murray Saved Christmas.
Party on!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Meals on Wheels

 Besides wheeling me around the neighborhood for a bit of exercise, my new bike is good at bringing takeout pizza home from Marco's. Also, it's useful for groceries from Herman's, stops at the fabric store for quilters and carryout dinners from the Shamrock Café.

The romantic wicker basket I'd imagined for this bike
didn't seem as practical as this quick-release mesh basket.
But today is the day for delivering Christmas treats to the neighbors.
A box of kettle corn for brothers, Tony and Ted.
Bars for Carmen and her daycare companions.
Garden pizza for Hildegaarde and
a couple pictures for DJ and Barbara.
How do you like my checkered mirror?