Sunday, May 31, 2015

What I've Learned in May

Honeysuckles blooming in May
On this last day of May, I've been thinking about all the things I've learned this month.

Early in the month, I learned that I am not a hang-tough-and-fight girl, at least when it comes to illness.  The husband and I both came down with some kind of virus. The only symptoms were a cough and extreme fatigue. It was the fatigue that got me.  I hadn't been sick in several years, not even a cold, and I was NOT a trouper.  I just wanted to lie down and die.  I realized that if I had a serious terminal illness, after I died no one would say I had fought a courageous battle.  They would have to say, "She just lay down on her couch and gave up."

Second try?  Taken from our upstairs porch.

I learned anew that nature is red in tooth and claw.  You may remember last year when I rhapsodized about our little robin fledglings.  The robins returned this year and built a nest in the same spot on top of the bat house.  I kept anxious watch and soon spied three tiny heads.  Then one day, I was standing in the yard and I heard a tremendous squawking.  I looked up and saw two adult robins chasing a hawk away from the nest.  The hawk had come in like a silent assassin.  I never heard a thing until it was too late.  Sadly, all three baby robins were gone.

There is a robin sitting on a new nest nearby, however, so maybe the same robins rebuilt and are trying again.  This nest is on the house; I hope it is more protected from hungry hawks.

I also learned that time, like birds, really can fly.  Our youngest starts his first grown-up job tomorrow.  He has essentially forbidden me to mention him in my blog, so I can't reveal much, but we are pleased and excited for him. Our other child, our daughter, closed on a house this month on her 26th birthday.

It's a little cottage not far from the library where she heads up youth services.  It's a darling house and, with a little work, will be quite charming.  But here's the thing: I'm pretty sure this new homeowner was in kindergarten only a couple of years ago.  When I think about my kids, it's like a movie with flashbacks and flashforwards.  They are toddlers, then -- whoosh -- they are adults with paychecks and mortgages.

Related to the passage of time and the daughter's house, I learned that I am not as young as I once was.  Of course, everyone knows that's true, but a little physical home rehab work makes it all the more obvious.  The husband and I have done a lot of rehab work over the years -- tearing out plaster and carpet, building walls, stripping woodwork and wallpaper, endless painting, etc., etc.  Much of that, however, was done when we were in our salad days.  I spent about ten days at our daughter's house this month, painting, ripping out a bathroom, and let's just say: my salad days have wilted.
We made good progress.  We got the bathroom down to the studs and subfloor. The bathroom looks like tile in the pictures, but it was fake tile hardboard.  Around the tub, the hardboard was covered with another surface!  We repaired and filled woodwork and repainted the larger bedroom (pink with white trim!).  In the bedroom, I re-learned another lesson.  Knotty pine must be primed with shellac-based primer.  Kilz does NOT cover knots.  I knew that, but was stupid and didn't think it through.  So now her sloping pine ceiling has four coats of paint -- Kilz, paint, Zinsser BIN, paint.  Whew!

Finally in May, I learned that a climbing hydrangea is worth waiting years for.  I planted a hydrangea vine quite some years ago, more than five for sure.  Last year I had one bloom and was very pleased.  This year, it exploded. Absolutely worth the wait!