Prespective

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Perspective….the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.

Perspective, it’s all about how we see things. Everyone processes information differently so everyone can have a different perspective when viewing the same situations, photos, scenes, tasks and people.

For instance what do you see when you look at the picture posted above? Do you dead trees, and a brown colorless, lifeless piece of land? Does the photo show you a land that is sad, worthless and depressing? Or do you like me, see the potential of this piece of land? The lush green undergrowth that will soon fill this property, how it will be teeming with life and beauty. The beautiful majestic trees in full leaf shading the land and becoming home to birds, squirrels and even raccoons. The wonder of new birth that happens every spring just when you are sure that this year spring was not happening.

Perspective isn’t just about things or people, it’s also about we view tasks, chores and home improvements. I recently spent some time with my daughter in Ohio. I told her I would love to work on a couple projects around the house with her. She took me at my word and had a laundry list of things she wanted to accomplish while her husband was out of town to surprise him. Since her husband may read this I won’t go into detail, but when I saw what she had in mind my perspective on the list was a very positive “ain’t no way”, but as we worked through the list it suddenly became clear we can do this. My perspective changed when I made the choice to see the end results and not focus on the amount of work it was going to take to get there. And that change in my perspective made the experience fun and rewarding, dispute the bruised knee, sore arms, banged finger and stiff back. Home improvements need a safety warning for people of a certain level of gracefulness!

It’s the same when we look at people. We need to see the possibilities in that person dispute the outward appearances. We need to look beyond the current laundry list of things that may be wrong or need changed and instead look at what the possibilities could be for that person. We need to change our perspective on their future and if we can perhaps help them change their own perspective too.

Perspective…it’s all about what we do with the information we receive whether it’s visual or verbal, familiar or foreign, positive or negative. What will you do today with the information you receive? What will your perspective be?

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Let’s talk moving!!!

We recently moved from our lovely home in Waxhaw, to an even lovelier home in Waxhaw.  While such a move may seem like it was going to be easy, it was NOT!  We did all the prep work on our home to put it on the market, and that, my friends, is a blog for another time.  Having never actually sold a home, I was not prepared for how inconvenient yet necessary it was to keep a house very, very tidy and to be ready at a moments notice to vacant for potential buyers to view.  And while you like to have notice, who in their right mind, who wants to sell, is going to say no to a potential buyer.  We never did.  We managed to sell our home in about a month.  Miracle!!!  While the whole selling our home was going on we were also looking for our next home.  After viewing at least 30 homes from Mooresville to Waxhaw we finally found one we all felt truly at home in.  The catch:  The sellers, while needing to sell, also needed to stay in the home until school was out, and our buyers need to close in 30 days.

Solution:  We put all our “stuff” into various places all over the Charlotte area.  A pod was somewhere, we had a storage unit somewhere else, the movers had more stuff somewhere, and we had what we needed to survive in an apartment for 6 weeks.

Making all that happen was like that old-time vaudeville act of the man spinning the plates on poles and trying to make sure they all stayed up.  We did it and it was quite an adventure.

For six weeks we lived in a small apartment, with less stuff, and guess what…we survived!  Now the spinning plates act started again.  Time to make sure all the plates stay up and “stuff”  arrived at the new house in the proper order.  It took some planning, lots of phone calls and not a small amount of prayer, but it got done.

Are we finished unpacking…really?  Nope.  Even after getting rid of “stuff” we find we still have lots of “stuff” and are still working out the “where will I put this “stuff”?” questions.

It will take some time, but we love our new home and as far as I am concerned I would be extremely happy if we never, ever, ever had to move again.

This is now our view from our deck.

new house

Update on my HOA post

So as I suspected but hoped would not happen, my request to change the color of my decorative screens was denied.  So out they went.  Here are the before and after photos.  This is how my English country garden now looks. It’s not near as pretty and is a bit sad but it is what it is.  I am not sure what I will do to enhance my garden so for now the plants will do what they can to disguise the ugliness of the utility boxes.  More updates later.

Before


After

After

Homeowners Associations…HOAs.  A necessary evil?

Home Owners Associations. Or HOA. A necessary evil?

Let’s talk HOAs.  We have never lived in a community with a HOA, we do now. We have always had homes and property where since we bought it, pay for it and own it we could do pretty much what we wanted. Not any more.

We get that in communities you need some rules, regulations and restrictions. It make sense. We get that they don’t want purple painted brick homes or RVs and boats parked unkept in driveways, We get that they want yards looking nice and neat. We don’t get that having written conditions, codes and restrictions, board members can arbitrarily decide what is and isn’t allowed.

Our community is small and quiet. We don’t have amenities here, no pool, clubhouse, walking paths or lake. We have a total of about 6 roads, a front entrance that is kept up and street lights that are maintained. We also have fake grey rocks over our well heads and underground utilities. The underground utilities require above ground boxes, ugly above ground boxes. We are the lucky home owner who has those boxes on one side of our yard. We have a flower garden around them and are attempting to hide them.

Here’s where the issue comes in, we put up white vinyl decorative panels in a “L” shape to hide these boxes from street view. We have lovely flowers and decorative grasses growing in front of them.  We have in no way blocked access to these boxes. The entire back and one side is open for maintainence when needed.  All in all the flower garden is looking like an English cottage garden and really adds to the yard

SO, imagine our surprise when we get the “compliance letter” from our HOA stating that it had been brought to their attention that we have put up white vinyl fencing and white vinyl fencing is not allowed. Don’t you love the sentence “brought to their attention”?  We did.

We can find nowhere in any of the rules, codes, conditions or architectural paperwork where is says no white vinyl fencing. In fact vinyl is one of the allowed materials.

 Webster gives the definition of fence as..

A structure like a wall built outdoors usually of wood or meal that separates two areas or prevents people or animals from entering or leaving.

What we put up does not separate two areas, nor does it keep anyone or anything from entering or leaving…it is purely for decorative purposes. 

If you have ever dealt with an HOA, you know it can be like banging your head against a brick wall. We have been told that the board never approves white vinyl, why, well certainly not because it’s not allowed, but apparently because someone doesn’t like it. And apparently we were remiss in not asking permission first before we put this up, seriously…IT IS NOT A FENCE.  Please see definition above…we repeat it is NOT A FENCE.  It’s decorative and designed to hide the offensive utility boxes. You know, like the grey fake rock we have to have to hide the well head.

However, wanting to be good neighbors we have filled out the proper form and having been assured that white isn’t going to make it, have asked if a forest green one would be approved.

Now we wait and see. Because if it isn’t approved we have some very interesting ideas that will in no way be mistaken for a fence.

Updates to come….have a blessed day

Any resemblance to real or imagined individuals, living or dead, is purely unintentional. All opinions are solely the opinion of the author.  If you see yourself in this post, oops!

Garden update – May 2016

This garden adventure continues and this time it looks like we stand a chance of actually making this work.  We have tomatoes ripening, strawberry plants growing, potatoes plants thriving, mini cucumber plants enjoying their spot, and the herbs are flourishing.  In an effort to continue to find the right balance between sun and water we decided to move one tomato plant container and the strawberry plants to an area in our front yard that gets more sun daily to see if it helps.  Our concern there is critters…so we are considering our options to protect the precious plant from invading marauders.  While to some gardening seems like a simple, easy task, for some reason the gardening skill has evaded me.  I can manage herbs and indoor house plants but tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and other such delicious edibles always seem just beyond my level of skill.  As the summer progresses I will be anxious to see if perhaps this year we win on this adventure.  

Another year, another attempt at a garden

If you have been reading my blog, you know that we have attempted and failed for a number of years to grow a vegetable garden here at our home in North Carolina.  We went from your standard in the ground open to the critters garden in 2012, while it started out great and it looked like we would have a bumper crop of fresh tomatoes, that dream ended when one morning I discovered all the green tomatoes had vanished off the vines overnight.  I blamed Big Foot, but it was more than likely a family of light fingered raccoons who discovered the open air grocery store and pilfered the tomatoes, leaving no evidence behind.  Garden-1, Us-0

In 2013 we built our garden cage out of a carport and fencing.  We covered the entire thing, including the ground with fencing.  It was bolted into wood and anchored down with fence posts.  We even grounded it, in case of a lightning strike.  This thing was going nowhere and nothing uninvited was getting in.  We planted and set up a watering system on a timer and awaited our glorious yield.  We planted tomatoes, peppers, zucinni, lettuce and cucumbers.  Alas, another failed year.  Not enough sun, too much water, we just could not figure it out.   The tomato plants grew straight up but yielded no fruit.  The pepper plants tried but only succeeded in giving us one tiny pepper.  Garden-2, Us-0


Not wanting to give up, we tried again in 2014 and 2015.  We had some trees cut down hoping to get more sunshine on the garden, we adjusted our watering schedule to account for less sun, we monitored and begged those plants to grow.  Again, tomato plant grew up at an alarming rate, reaching at least 8ft, but no fruit.  The pepper plants grew slowly and tried valiantly to give us what we wanted but lost that battle.  We did containers one year and raised beds another year.  The only thing that grew was some Swiss chard, and it didn’t show up until winter.  Garden-4, Us-0

Now it’s 2016, this year we have left the garden cage and moved back into containers.  We watched the sunshine in the yard and picked a place that is almost in the center of the yard to place them.  We relocated our watering system and downsized to four containers.  We have four tomato plants, three pepper plants, and numerous pepper plant seedlings.  We also have a unique lettuce growing system on our deck railing that consists of a rain gutter attached to the railing with drainage holes drilled in the bottom.  I think this year we have a fighting chance.  Already the tomato plants are growing tomatoes, and are not spiking towards the sky.  The lettuce is growing quite nicely, and the pepper plants are trying their best.  It’s still early in the season, so only time will tell.  And as an experiment we are growing watermelon, mini cucumbers and potatoes on a small area by our driveway that gets sun and was grass free. 


Now we wait.

My Garden Saga Continues

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UPDATE:  I know that my garden saga made a number of people smile when I posted it last September.  So, this year, 2015, we are trying once again to make our garden grow.  However, we have changed our strategy a bit.  We did have trees removed, (see my Trees blog), and have planted only  in the front beds of the garden.  They seem to be the ones that get the most sun.  We are attempting not to over water this year.  We are in agreement that if the garden fails to yeild more produce we will cry “uncle” and give up this venture.  There are so many farm stands in our area we will just help the local economy and purchase fresh produce from them.

Below is my original post about the Garden Saga, please feel free to comment.  

My Garden Saga continues

If you have followed my blog you saw the post about our garden cage and our attempts to make a garden happen. Year one saw us with some lovely plants but they were destroyed by critters. Year two we spent a lot of money and time building a garden cage out of a car port and fencing.  We planted in containers, and installed a very efficient watering system.  The result was extremely sad. Year three (this year) we spend more money and time building raised beds inside our garden cage and planted again and the results were extremely sad once again.

So, here it is the end of the growing season and once again our garden has failed to meet our expectations. We determined that our garden was not getting enough sun, which was evident by the fact that our tomato plants shot up to 10 feet searching in desperation for the sun.  We also determined that because the garden wasn’t getting enough sun we were probably over watering. Now I suppose we could water it less, but the fact remains that the garden does not get enough sun.   Even the plants that got more sun than the tomato grew slowly and produced poorly. We got some lettuce, a few cucumbers and absolutely no zucchini. So we began discussing a few options for next year.

 Option one would be to move the entire garden cage into a more sunny area in our yard. A couple problems with that, there is no real spot in our yard that gets sun for multiple hours during the day due to the enormous and densely planted trees that surround our beautiful yard. Another problem is moving the garden cage would take time and people and both of those are difficult to come by.

 Option two would be to leave the garden cage where it is and remove some of the trees that block the sun from shining so nicely on it. Problem there is removing trees is costly. Now I admit these particular trees really should be removed any way to avoid any damage to our house in the future, but the cost could be high to do this.

Option three (and this one is perhaps my favorite of the three) is to just admit defeat and buy our fresh vegetables from any one of the numerous vegetable stands that are within a few miles of our house. This option would not only save us time and money but also the frustration of attempting to make a garden work that apparently is not meant to happen. Not to mention that through these last three years of attempting to make a garden happen I have learned an important fact about myself…I AM NOT A GARDENER, AND I HAVE TO REAL DESIRE TO BECOME ONE.

Sure it’s nice to see plants growing and to be able to walk into your backyard and pick fresh veggies, but the work involved in preparation and maintenance, not to mention the bugs (had a bad experience with them) make me less willing to make gardening one of my hobbies.

So all that being said, we have a few months to make our final decision. Of course there is an option four, take a year off and see what happens in the future.

Oh yeah, any suggestions my gardening friends may have would be welcomed.

*any resemblance to real or imagined individuals, living or dead, is purely unintentional.  All opinions here are solely the opinion of the author. If you see yourself in this post, oops!

Trees

Trees  

First tree to come down.

The quietness of my day is about to be destroyed by the buzzing of chain saws, the yells of men getting just the right angle on the tree and the grinding of the chipper as it removes all signs of what was once a tree.

A benefit is that with this done, it frees up more time for my husband and I to hang out, and we don’t have to attempt to do this ourselves.  Yes, that’s right, we have a small chain saw and my husband was going to attempt a couple of these trees with the help of a friend, Blake.

Watching the tree removal process is difficult, not because I am mourning the loss of the trees, they had to go, but because power tools of this magnitude always make me very nervous.  Of course, large trees within hitting distance of my house make me nervous too.  

I will take up a position on my screen porch, watching, photographing, and praying all goes well.  

As luck would have it plans changed.  The tree removal will now happen tomorrow morning.  Yes, dear trees, you have gotten one more day of life left.

Fast forward to 8:30am the next morning.  The work began promptly at 8:00am.  The men are busy taking out three trees by our driveway between the houses, a scary place to work but they seem to be doing fine.  We have five additional tress coming out in the backyard.  I know it may seem wrong to remove all these trees but as I stated before they had to go, they are dying and creating a hazard for people and cars alike.  It is sad though to watch such magnificent creations being reduced to logs and mulch.    We will enjoy the logs in our fire pit throughout the year, and the mulch will help make our yard look more manicured for when the ‘lawn police’ come by to inspect the neighborhood yards in their cars.  We live in a development that has ‘rules’ about lawns and other things, and yes we have ‘lawn police’ who drive around and let you know if you need to replace your mulch, kill your weeds, mow your lawn, or remove some thing from your yard that is not ‘approved’.  As of yet, I have not had to encounter these ‘lawn police’, doing my best to abide by the rules, but it is very difficult because inside me there is a little girl screaming “don’t tell me what I can and can not do with my own home”. 

As the tree removal continues, we have one tree completely down, another almost, and six more to go.  The yard is going to look so different and so much better.  It will be nice getting a little more sun in the yard, now maybe the grass will grow better and yes, darling husband, the garden may as well.

Random question:  why would anyone yell at a man with a chain saw?

Trees removed from back yard have opened it up.

 As the morning goes on another tree falls, more mulch is created, more yard is exposed and will flourish in the sunlight.  We love trees, we really do, they are beautiful and offer privacy, but this yard had so many trees that it created a lack of sunshine, and many of the trees were damaged during the construction of this house and were beginning to show those signs.  And who ever thought planting sweet gum trees in a yard was ever a good idea?  Sweet gum trees are the trees that drop those prickly balls which are very painful when stepped on, and almost impossible to gather up.  Perhaps they have their place in nature, but not in a backyard.  And while pine trees are a nice way to have privacy, ones that grow so tall that only the very top has any pine needles on them and wave in the slightest wind are not what I would call house friendly.

Another random question:  Is it okay to trim a tree that is in your neighbors yard but is hanging over into your yard?  I have heard that by right it is okay to do so without asking, however, I find that rude and inconsiderate.  I always inform and ask if its okay before proceeding.  So far it has worked out well for us and maintains a friendly neighborhood atmosphere.

As I go from my backyard deck to peering out the garage windows checking on the status of the work, I am impressed by the progress.  As I look high up into one of the trees in the driveway I see the man with possibly the most dangerous job of all, he is hanging up there, trimming the tree and cutting large pieces off that are directed to the ground with a rope and what I can only imagine is a dose of prayer.  Occasionally, as I sit here typing, I hear a loud thud and know another large piece has come down, and since I don’t hear any cries of alarm I can assume all went well.

Then there is the almost constant noise of the chipper, creating mulch for use in the yard.  I hope the foreman takes a head count after the day is over, just to be sure no one has fallen into that monster machine.  

Afternoon is here and they are almost done.  One final large tree to drop and a smaller one to trim back, then some clean up and finished.  

Three trees down, stumps are now gone.

 It is done.  The trees are down, the stumps ground up, the mulch in a pile to be spread later and silence has once again encompassed my yard.  The change is subtle yet dramatic, the openness is wonderful but the empty spots where the trees once stood are accented by the raked over tree mulch.

The smell is a mix of fresh cut trees, both sweet and sour.  The sweet scent of pine that was so strong when the tree came down has vanished as the branches and pines are mulched or stacked away.  The sweet gum and oaks have a sweet, sour smell that is hard to describe.  Unlike fresh cut grass which gives you the feeling of summer, this odor gives one a sense of sadness, of loss.  

We will plant grass where the trees once stood, and we will begin to enjoy the openness of our yard, while still having a sense of privacy from all the remaining trees that border our property. 

     

And so ends the saga of the trees.

New Year..New Beginnings

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As years go by and our friendships wane
Our memories will always remain the same

Thank you for the laughter and thank you for the tears
Thank you for the happiness to last through the years

As we step over the threshold into a brand new year
Let us move ever forward without any fear

Keep our family and friends in our hearts everyday
Keep our eyes up towards heaven always seeking the way

May your year be filled with joy from all those you love
May your heart be filled with blessings from the Lord above.

Have a blessed New Year
Paula