A happy hodgepodge.

Today was Goldfinch Day in the garden. It could be they were celebrating the rain; I know I am, for several reasons, not least that it’s warmer when it’s raining, and right now I have so many open spaces in my ceiling upstairs, it’s quite drafty when the wind blows through the attic. We had a very cold night and two or three suddenly wintry days.

A male goldfinch announced their event to me when I was standing near the sliding glass door: he flew right up to the glass and hovered, went away, came back two times looking at me. You say he was seeing his reflection? Well, whatever he thought he was doing, he did draw my attention to the dozens of goldfinches feasting, at the feeders and on the ground. I guess when they heard I was catering their convention, everyone wanted to come. I also stayed around so long I was almost late for church. I was trying to be the photographer, but they make it difficult by being so shy. And the rain that made their yellow brighter to my eyes only dulled the scene as a whole, and they look gray against the wisteria leaves.

It took me ages to get dressed for church; I was trying to find the boots I bought last winter, which were stored away “somewhere,” many moons ago when I was so certain that the remodeling project would be complete before another winter came along. I finally found them, and then other parts of my outfit. I am temporarily between dressing tables and have been just wearing the same earrings every day.

Granny Marigold asked how it’s going, the remodeling. A huge thing is that the floors are scheduled to go in a week from tomorrow. That means an incredible number of tasks need to be wrapped up in the next five days, if it’s all to be in the right sequence. My plumber doesn’t see how it can happen. He told me that gently when he was here this evening planning his part of the job; I was really glad he stopped by when he happened to be in the neighborhood. It seems he doesn’t use email anymore, and I’ve been writing him urgent emails. I’ve known him for almost 30 years, since he was in high school; we talked about his parents and his children before he left. He lives with his father and his son, and all three are named James.

Here is the floor plan of the changes in my upstairs. Three new rooms are being created from one very large room that had never had much done with it. Maybe because the original builders saw that they didn’t have enough support to bear any more walls; one unfortunate time drain has been the addition of great beams to floor and ceiling of the room, what the contractor kindly calls “deferred maintenance.”

My master bedroom, bath and closet are at the bottom of the drawing. The new walls are shaded dark. The door has been cut that will open my bedroom to the sewing room, and all the framing is done. A few pictures from the last year, in chronological order:

First, after removing the “popcorn” ceiling, and when they began to add support in the ceiling for the new walls:

The first of my two new windows framed:

How it used to look between my closet and bathroom (although not quite that crooked):

How it looks now:

They have put up plastic film in that new doorway temporarily, but it doesn’t keep out the cold. I’m so glad I thought to hang the sheet on a spring rod, because it’s always warmer on this side when it’s pulled closed.

Below, an example of the extra support that has been added to that end of the room, where the weight of the roof was not resting on enough beams that went straight to the foundation. When the team was looking at the situation and brainstorming what to do, one contractor who works for my contractor said to me, “You’re learning how not to build a house.”

No one worked all these four days of the Thanksgiving weekend. On Thanksgiving I did two things I’d never done before on that day: First I went to Liturgy, which was quite lovely, and I took my new friend Kay who I’ll tell you more about sometime. Afterward, we went shopping at my favorite market that has a vast deli section, to buy a few things to take to the feast we were attending, at the little monastery in town 🙂 I’d never had Thanksgiving at a monastery before, either.

Maybe twenty-five people were there. They are on the old calendar, so they had just begun their fast. Unlike many Orthodox, they do not bend the rules, so we had no turkey, and I didn’t miss it. We had various sorts of fish, and so many many different dishes that people had brought, or the nuns had made. One of my favorite things was the beautiful salad I had bought at the market. It was crunchy and pretty and everyone loved it: Mango and Jicama salad, those two ingredients cut in long matchsticks, with Chinese cabbage and cilantro and strips of sweet red pepper. It was lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Before we came home the nuns gave us boxes and bags of pineapple guavas from their hedge and trees; as we went to our car we saw just how prodigious a crop they have. Theirs are certainly situated better than mine, none of which ripened this year.

I didn’t go to the Christmas bazaar that was at my church on Saturday, but there were a few things left that we could buy today during the agape meal, like this origami garland that I hung as soon as I got home.

After selling items at a discount for a while, they eventually were giving stuff away, at which point I accepted edible goodies, which I have put away for Christmas. Who knows if I’ll find time and concentration to make my own cookies this year.


I had many things to carry to my car, and it was raining, so I dug the napkin bag out of the trash to carry stuff in.

How was that for a hodgepodge post? I guess it’s only fitting that I publish at least one that reflects the scattered and nearly chaotic style of my life right now. As soon as those floors go in I will be sharing that bright news immediately!

10 thoughts on “A happy hodgepodge.

  1. I enjoy looking at house plans and admire the new spaces that you are creating in your home. I do hope the plumbing will be ready in time, and the new floors laid pronto. A pretty garland, delicious food, and interesting company for your dinner at the monastery all make for a varied post – much like life itself!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for taking the time to explain about the changes that are being made. I hope that things will get done sooner rather than later. Living in chaos is definitely not fun.

    I like the origami garland. I’ve never heard of pineapple guavas but they look interesting.

    I hope your week goes as smoothly as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t mention that all my family are coming at Christmas, and about 16 of the 29 of us total, are planning to stay here, if we can just get the floors and doors in beforehand! Otherwise…. hotels I guess. 😦


  3. All that remodeling and tons of company, too! Woo hoo! 🙂 I like the origami garland. And free baked goods as well! What a deal! Enjoyed this hodgepodge post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now I understand why you didn’t host a traditional Thanksgiving this year! But this is exciting news, Gretchen, exciting and I’m sure chaotic. I hope you make your deadlines for being able to sleep lots of family members for Christmas but even if that doesn’t happen I’m sure it will all be wonderful. What a brave soul you are tackling remodeling during the holiday season. And going through all the “deferred maintenance” so calmly.

    When we added on a new kitchen at our old house the work was completed and painters left on Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day. I remember feeling flustered but oh so thankful that it was finally done. And I was so grateful for three large windows in my kitchen. You will love the added light coming in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, well, I started “tackling” this remodeling a year ago, and it is in the construction trade a “small project,” so no one dreamed that we would not have it done by now. But a series of mess-ups and discoveries and lately the fire and evacuations and even a death have all contributed to its prolonging. The only truly blameable party is the local building department who it appears lost my permit application, so the 3-4 weeks expected to get it took four months! Of course, the contractor couldn’t wait around twiddling his thumbs, he had to keep his men working on other jobs, etc. etc.

      I know all will be well. The electrician is coming today; we know now that the new bathroom won’t be completed before Christmas, but it looks likely that the two new rooms will be sleepable. I have become more comfortable and peaceful with my lowered expectations, and am mostly getting more and more excited about seeing everyone and meeting my great-grandchild!!! Last Christmas I was not with any of my family, so I’ve been looking forward to this Christmas for a year. If I had known how much “bravery” was going to be required of me…. 😉


  5. Hodge Podge indeed, but I loved it all! I was just thinking about you as I read about your moments and days here. It looks as if you are getting a new house, sort of. You will enjoy it, and the hardships of living in the midst of remodeling will just slip away.
    I would like to hear more of your monastery Thanksgiving meal.
    And we have what I would name a goldfinch day in our garden in the springtime. You will see them in the summer too; they love the seeds of echinacea and zinnias in the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good morning, GJ. At last I’m getting back to reading about your December! I’m glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed every little description of your remodeling; houses and how they’re put together are something I love very much. So interesting to see the changes and improvements, and to hear the workers’ assessment!! The feast and market also sound really lovely. On to more reading!!

    Liked by 1 person

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