Category Archives: home

strange surprises and delights

Many things are strange about this Christmas, flowing from the fundamentally odd and GL IMG_1347new situation of my husband not being with us in the flesh. I keep remembering that he is with us in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and he would say, if he could speak from the grave, “Christ is born! Glorify Him! Rejoice evermore! And again I say, Rejoice!”

Mr. Glad loved Christmas. He loved buying presents for people, and wrapping them, with special notes and hints on the gift tags. He liked to dress up in his best clothes, to eat oyster stew, and to sing carols around the piano or while strumming his guitar. He would want us to carry on in that tradition; so we won’t be glum.GL IMG_1362

When I headed out to church yesterday, a block from my house a rainbow appeared and stayed with me all the way. I kept stopping (sometimes just in the middle of the street) to take its picture, and it was still there when I reached my destination and walked up to the doors. I could see the whole bow, but not encompass it with my camera. I felt God speaking from the image, “Good things are ahead for you.”

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I’ve been wrapping presents like mad, and not baking cookies. Maybe my cookie art, of which I have written many times on my blog at Christmastime, will be superseded by GL IMG_1369creative wrapping? I haven’t made any cookies at all this year! And I’ve had to wrap all the presents by myself, which has been fun, actually. I’m making just as much of a mess as I normally would in the kitchen.

But amazingly, I had time to go for a walk this morning, too (or did I?) and I saw this manger scene with very folksy and friendly animals who wanted me to take their picture.

GL IMG_1375 GL IMG_1379 When I got back I inspected the greens in the front yard…the smallage, chard, kale and collards are all doing famously. As I bent over to snap a picture, Whhoosh… a mighty breath exhaled nearby, and I thought, Did the neighbors just deflate their front-yard Santa? But when I looked up, it was a hot air balloon!

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One delight of this week was being able to attend the Christmas play that the church children put on, a story of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, and the birth of Christ, written by one of our teens. After the children changed out of their darling costumes they had a visit from “St. Nicholas,” who told them stories about his life and gave out presents.

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Another strange and new thing has been shopping and cooking, cleaning and decorating, singing and eating, not alone, but with my housemate and friend Kit. Kit is a young woman who just moved to this area to be part of our parish. She had her own reasons for coming here, and I invited her to live at my house without a glimmer of foreknowledge, just because it was something I could do, while I was still somewhat paralyzed with grief.

But within a month, I came to believe that God brought her here just to be a comfort and joy to me. I thought I would want to live alone, even while I believed that it’s generally not good for people to live alone. This whole arrangement, with Kit and Susan living here (Susan is house-sitting elsewhere this week) has been a great surprise and gift.

Glory to God for all things! Christ is born! Glorify Him! And may your Christmas be merry.

Changes inside and out.

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Work has begun on my backyard project!

Stonemasons Andres and Juan have been steadily at it for three days and I am excited about the progress. One of the first things they did was to clear the robust weeds from a narrow side yard and level the ground, lay down weed cloth and base rock. Tomorrow gravel will go on top of that, and I will have a utility yard. Over the course of 25 years various of us Glads have tried to grow tomatoes, melons, beans and I don’t remember what else in that space, with absolutely no fruit. It was meant for meaner service.

We will soon be able stash “sP1020209tuff” there, like firewood, the garden cart, steppingstones and buckets, to get them out of the way while working on the rest of the project, including the larger utility yard on the other side of the house.

Landscape Lady brought me more plants, two of this native mock orange (above) called Marjorie Schmidt. They will get to about five feet tall and wide, unlike standard types that grow to eight feet. They will live at either end of my patio and smell good.

After the old brick and paver path was removed, L.L. spray-painted lines showing where we want the new brick path to go.

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At the end of the second day, we had this:

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…and today you can see (below) the place carved out where a small patio will soon be, large enough for a bench, behind which the flowering currant bushes will be planted, and a birdhouse installed. In this picture a level is standing up back in the corner. It’s impressive how much leveling and grading and carving out needs to be done to create this space. When Mr. Glad and I made our brick walkway here thirteen years ago we didn’t do any of that, and our path didn’t keep its shape too well.

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My patio is getting crowded with all the plants I have dug up to save for replanting herP1020207e or in the front yard. I bought a pot and a rolling stand for the Christmas Cactus that surprised me by blooming last spring, so that I could keep it indoors on frosty nights. I probably should move it to the garage so it can stay relatively cold, because I read that these plants need temps of 55-65° to produce a good bloom. I will try to roll it out into the sun during the daytime.

In the house, Mr. Glad and I had planned for a couple of years to put a new picture on the wall of our guest bedroom that has a Southwest theme. Pippin said we could use her photograph taken at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. It wasn’t until Kate was visiting me recently that she made this happen by helping me to order an enlargement online. I was purely lucky that the new blanket I’d bought didn’t clash with the colors of the agave, and now the room is all brightened up.

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While waiting…

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This boy is turning 17 exactly 10 years later.

“Murder postponed” was the first title I came up with for this post, but that is unnecessarily sensationalist for my usual taste. However, it probably does reveal the current tone of my meditations.

I’ve been thinking about why this swimming pool demolition project is proving to be more emotionally unnerving than I expected. I did fully expect that it would start today, which is why bright and early I was waiting and ready. Bright and early dear Mr. Bread was on hand as well, but we soon discovered that my lack of familiarity with the communication style of contractors had caused me to misunderstand a particularly misleading worker. The work will not proceed quite yet, so I have time to think about it all here on my blog..

I was until recently married, for most of my adult life, and I am trying to adjust to the ending of that earthly relationship. For more than half of my married life I was also a pool owner, so I had a sort of relationship with my pool, and that is ending, too, not by death or divorce, but by me murdering my pool.

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I hope it is not dishonoring to my late husband to think about our marriage as being in any way similar to that concrete container; I am just contemplating the emotional strain of things changing. If my husband were here helping me change the backyard landscape, I would no doubt be comforting him, and probably not acknowledging my own angst, but now I have to comfort myself about one more change.

Kate wrote that she is trying not to be too emotional about what is a very logical decision. 25 years ago when we were house-shopping, we reluctantly settled on a house with a pool, having originally excluded that option from our plan. We had only expected to live here a couple of years anyway! Of course, our whole family became invested in that pool and enjoyed it, and many of our friends have written to tell of their important memories of swimming and baptisms.

But for me to go on here in this house and on this property, it is very helpful to be able to create an alternative physical space to go along with my new life. This pool has outlived its usefulness as a place for people to have fun, and now presents as only a big bathtub that needs to be kept clean. Not being a great one for that kind of chore, I’m thankful I have the resources to change it out for a living and breathing ecosystem that will be friendly to bees, butterflies, birds, children and tea parties.

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This boy loved monitoring the pool sweep.

Once I didn’t have to stay around for the work that wasn’t happening this morning, I realized I could go to church after all and celebrate my priest’s name day with a warm and joyful church family brunch after Liturgy. It was encouraging to talk to people about my ongoing grief and projects; I am so thankful for this community that upholds me in so many ways.

I have some more time to finish my preparations for my first meeting with a landscape designer who specializes — and what California landscaper doesn’t? — in what we call waterwise gardening and irrigation. Yesterday I dug out the few plants I want to keep that were on the edge of the pool, so close that they might end up in the hole, and I put them in safe and moist places until we figure out where they will work into the new landscape.

I got so hot and tired in the middle of that task, and mused as I worked over the timing of my project: should I have waited another year, or at least a few more months, to begin? I concluded that it was right and good for me, being a gardener and naturally takingFB blue flowers 5-05 delight in planning a garden, researching about plants, and imagining a beautiful natural space. If I didn’t have this creative work to do, just what would I be doing right now?

I’d probably be feeling guilty about not doing all the sorting and cleaning that needs attention inside the house, much of it the kind of work that requires decision-making or skills that I’m not so good at, and that feel too formidable right now. Also I’d feel bad about putting water in the pool all summer long! Once I get through the next weeks and begin to see the unfolding of the vision, I will be less anxious. And for now, we can all take a little longer to say good-bye to the pool that we didn’t want, but were thankful for, and now don’t want again. Good-bye, Pool!

 

The rain falls and falls.

It just keeps raining! Bright leaves blow around in the wind. Granted, this rain is probably only a two- or three-day affair, but how lovely to have more than a drizzle. It’s Fall itself that is finally arriving.

We are enjoying some relaxing and homey aspects of this time of year, like wood fires and hot tea and reading together under blankets. Mr. Glad had a hankering for comfort-food breakfast, and my only picture that shows something of our coziness is of the resulting French toast.

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