Thursday, October 13, 2016


Tuesday this week The Guys finished my house project: removed old siding, wrapped, insulated, re-sided. Plus they built a new stoop over my back door. They finished in 12 days—working between rain showers for part of the time.

During those 12 days my world changed completely.

I’m not used to having people in my yard, pounding on the outside of my house, running high-powered equipment that squeals, shrieks, or roars. Yes, I know they were doing the work I wanted done. Work I was willing to pay for. But still--

This might have been a low-level interruption to my normally quiet life, except:
  1.         All the new neighbors moved in at the same time. Their belongings arrived in pickups, vans, SUVs, and rental trucks.
  2.       All the new neighbors decided to have more-or-less extensive repairs, remodeling, and redecorating done at the same time. (One day I had to negotiate four large pickups parked on both sides of the street to get to my garage, in addition to the huge trailer that my contractor leaves on-site to house the equipment and supplies The Guys need. I was limp the rest of the day.)
  3.       The first week of the 12 Days of House Upgrade was Fair Week—the county fair was in full swing—that’s fine because their activities take place at the animal barns and show rings; but—but—the annual carnival/food tents/rides are also in full swing on the court house square--the noise level rises, traffic is rerouted to my neighborhood, and community tempers flare. That week turned out to be chilly and rainy, so I don’t think the carnival rides collected much revenue. The only people I felt sorry for were the marching bands who always have two or three nights of parade performances.
My normal activities for any week—walking, exercise classes, shopping, sewing group at the church—were still on the agenda. They turned out to be the best thing I could have had going.

I left Monday morning to sew with my friend Jane at her house. Tuesday I did my shopping. Wednesday I had yoga in the AM. Thursday would have been tai chi, but I decided to save my energy for another day. Friday I went to Heart & Hands and sewed pillow cases for the NICU.

Clearly, I needed a stronger antidote to the hyper-activity. Going away for a vacation was out. I had workmen at the house, and they sometimes had questions.

Reading worked well part of the time. I reread most of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo mysteries.

I tried cleaning house—some of the pounding on the outside dislodged paint flecks and other debris inside. But there was no point to that until the work was finished.

Shopping might have been fun. Except: shopping usually means I spend money (my cash was already promised to the contractor for the work on the house). And: I end up with tired feet, sore back, and a headache from standing around in stores. Online shopping solves the latter problem; but not the spending money part.

Or there's always a day spa . . . .

Most of the time I find things work out as they’re supposed to. I had phone calls with one of my kids who is working on her website. I spent a Saturday with my Ohio daughter making jelly. My best friend for 47 years was visiting her family in Indiana, so we spent part of a day together eating lunch, driving through a state park, and catching up on our lives. Another day I dug into some of my storage totes and came up with different fabrics for baby blankets and pillow cases. And I reread an unfinished manuscript of a novel I started some years back; it’s a story I still love but it stalled when I couldn’t see how the characters would resolve their problems. Now I think I know how to finish it.

Maybe the best thing to do when our lives are full up, running over, and making a mess is to back off. Take a deep breath. Meditate. Lie down and listen to music for a while. Take a nap. Do something we seldom have time for--browse in Home Depot or the hardware store (I love those places); read magazines at the library; take a drive with no destination in mind. Go some place we haven’t been, for a meal or a walk through the landscape or a chance to get outside ourselves.

I wouldn’t trade my full-up life for anyone else’s. What I lacked was the chance to appreciate each thing as it happened. Life became a surface experience because of so much input. A step back gave me a different--and deeper-- view. (And I did not melt down.)

Now that the house project is finished, I can look around and see what’s going on outside my door. The neighbors have finished their renovations and their moving-in; lamps are lit in living rooms that have been dark for months. The pickups that lined the street recently have gone back to where they reside.

Psalm 23 says the running over of our cup is a positive thing--we receive blessings upon blessings.

As I write this, we are being blessed with a much-needed rain. Not a hard driving storm, but a gentle steady rain that will soften the ground and wash the streets. Our flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns will appreciate its nourishing moisture.

Outside the world is quiet again. It is dark. My cup ran over and is now down to a livable level. I have new neighbors in houses that were empty for several months. The Fall Fair has gone away for another year. And I have a house that feels almost brand new--with insulation that will keep my rooms warm all winter and cool next summer, with the added bonus of lowering my fuel bills.

Yes, my cup runneth over. Thanks be.


  1. And there is once more peace in the Valley of Auburn... Lovely post.

  2. Thanks, Liz. Peace in the valley always comes at a price. I'm grateful the meltdown was avoided.

  3. Coincidentally, I had a dream this a.m. about things overflowing. Not cups, but still it makes me think.