You know how on House Hunters, the couples go out into the yard or onto the balconies of the properties they are looking at and say things like, “I can see myself having coffee out here in the morning,” or “This is just perfect for entertaining?”

I have one of those spaces at my house. You can see a shot of it, above. Every single year, my wonderful and inventive landscaper, Matthew, comes over and “does” the deck. It is absolutely gorgeous. He fills it with blooms, ferns, multiple levels of green, and all I have to do is water it.

As the summer goes on, it explodes into color.

I have never, in my recollection of living here for 26 years, had coffee out there in the morning. To be perfectly honest, I almost never go out there at all, except to water all the pots. There is even a fountain in the garden, burbling along, where robins, darling little song sparrows, and even boisterous grackles land to bathe. I don’t go out to see that, either, because I am an indoor person. And when we have people over? We eat in the kitchen or dining room, where there are no disease carrying insects.

How many of those couples looking for homes on tv actually drink coffee outside, either? Most of them are young, and they probably have jobs, children, meetings, and Starbucks to attend to. Coffee outdoors? Nope, not in a million years. And maybe they grill out. I will give them that–perhaps they sit out there just long enough to eat a hot dog and some coleslaw. But I bet they spray themselves with insect repellent and light citronella candles. Way too much trouble for a measly chargrilled sausage on a bun, as far as I am concerned.

The apartment we are moving to has a deck. Five floors above Dayton, with a view of the city. So. Matthew will come to the new place, laden with pots of geraniums, maybe a big fern, and a bunch of petunias. The new deck will be just as beautiful, albeit smaller, than the one I have now.

I won’t go out there, either.

But I will enjoy looking at it from my comfy chair in the living room, AC on, and not a housefly in sight.

I will just picture myself having coffee out there. And speaking of entertaining, this is what restaurants are for. Amen.

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As a devotee of HGTV, I have come to appreciate and respect all of those designers like Joanna Gaines and her colleagues who sweep into a house and design it in a half hour. I realize that they take more than a half hour in actuality, but let’s face it–they have a hell of a lot of shows to put out there for the ravenous fans of home tv shows, and so I know these designers have to move it right along, folks. Decisions have to be made and made fast. No looking back.

So. We are moving into an apartment in around October. I am taking almost nothing that is in my house right now, because I want to turn over a new leaf. I want the new place to be clean, contemporary, and eclectic. Also, I am a decisive individual, and I want to get all of the stuff for the new place LINED UP. I want to have a Joanna Gaines experience: let’s take the floor plan and the measurements, go into ONE furniture store that has beautiful things, and get everything all at once. Like in an afternoon.

I know I can do this. All it will take is a willing interior designer who can work fast. So. I enter the store, and Linda comes toward me, not knowing the hurricane that is about to hit her. I sit her down.

ME: “Before we look at anything here, I want you to look at these photos I took of my house, so you can get an idea of where I am coming from.”

LINDA (not yet knowing what is about to happen): “Ok.”

I deal out the photos of my house fast enough that Linda’s smile begins to fade just a bit as she tries to focus on one photo at a time, as they flash past her. I deck up the photos and turn them over. The next thing I show her is the floor plan of the new apartment.

ME: “I am keeping my coffee table, one antique chair, lamps, and our bed. The rest is up to you. I want to pick out all the things this afternoon, if possible, because I need to carry a picture in my mind of how things will be in the new place, or I get anxious.’

Linda’s smile is a bit more tentative, but she squares her shoulders and stands up. I can tell that she is giving herself a mental pep talk. She takes off at a trot.

LINDA: “Ok. Let’s start off with the sofa, and we can go from there. The sofa is the anchor.”

I follow her to the back of the store, where she shows me a couple of contemporary sofas. On the way, we pass the chest pictured above.

ME: “I love this chest. I want two of them for the bedroom.”

Linda looks slightly bewildered. But we keep on walking.

LINDA: “We are talking about the living room right now, but ok, I will make a mental note of that chest, when the time comes to talk about the bedroom.”

After about twenty minutes, in which I have chosen the sofa, two chairs, a bookcase, a dining room table and chairs, Linda gets me. She points to something, I yay or nay it, and we move on. Linda seems to gain in both enthusiasm and energy as we continue.

At the end of an hour, the process is done, except for the “office,” which will be chosen by my husband on another abbreviated visit in which he lays out the guidelines:

HIM: “I only want to sit in five chairs. Five is my limit.’

LINDA (Who by now has probably told her boss about this gold mine couple who want to buy a truckload of furniture in the shortest amount of time possible): “No problem. What about Stickley? You look like a Stickley sort of person.”

HIM: “Yes. Stickley it is.” He sits in one chair. “This chair is fine.” He points to a desk five feet away. “And I will take that desk to go with it. Does it have a matching file cabinet?”

Linda nods a bit frantically.

HIM: “We’re done, right?”

We were. Linda not only kept up, but I think she made Joanna Gaines look like an amateur. She did have one moment of weakness, though. She questioned the choice of a chair my husband picked out.

LINDA: “I really think you should reconsider this particular chair. The rest of the apartment will look so terrific; I am afraid that your friends will come over, take one look at that chair, and ask you if your interior designer was out sick the day you chose this.”

We chose a different chair.

Joanna Gaines needs to up her game. I’m just saying…


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Heavy hearts in Dayton today. Our government seems to be failing us. It is hard to be hopeful at this moment. We must vote.

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Twenty six years in a beautiful, old house with large rooms, high ceilings, gorgeous historical touches such as a butler’s pantry, wide center hall, upstairs screened porch, two fireplaces, and memories of children growing up, holidays, and all of that sentimental detritus that surrounds a long life.

Here’s another list. Yearly yard maintenance. Upkeep on a beautiful deck garden. Painters.  Roofers. Kitchen redos: two of them, twenty years apart. Chimney repointing. New appliances. Carpet cleaners. Plumbers. The dollars spent on keeping this home gorgeous: thousands and thousands.

One day two weeks ago, we got so very tired of the weight of this home on our shoulders as curators. We had an argument in the garage about how many trees my husband wanted to remove from the yard: it is getting overgrown. I suggested calling in professionals for the job. He who never shouts , shouted “Do you know how much that costs?” It hit us all of a sudden: we need to sell this house before it kills us.

Within twenty-four hours, we had signed a lease on an apartment in the building pictured above. Centerfield Flats are going up now, and we got the choicest unit, which is a three-bedroom, 1700 square foot apartment on the fifth floor–upper left in the photo.

A new adventure. All new furniture. A view of downtown. Not that we are baseball fans, but yes, we can watch the games from our wraparound balcony. Everything brand-new, just like building a house without the headaches.

Right now, we are in a frenzy getting the house ready to show (are you sitting down?) one week from tomorrow. It is total chaos right now, with painters, stagers, estate sale folks, and a myriad of other people who are shoving furniture around, buffing floors, and doing things to the place that we should have done years ago (they said wallpaper is making a comeback, but not the stuff in MY front hall). We feel that we are living in the production of a house transformation show on HGTV, without the glamour.

Keep your fingers crossed that the house sells in five minutes, and that we survive moving. I will tell you one thing, however. Shopping for furniture online and in stores has always been a fond fantasy for me. Now it is coming true.

See you in Costco. And at Pottery Barn.  Ikea. Restoration Hardware. Amazon home furnishings. The Sundance Catalog. eBay. Come with me; we can sit on all the sofas at Arhaus and pretend we are sitting in my living room. It will be EPIC.

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We have to get rid of things.  A lot of things. More on that later. However, this means that we are going through all of our closets and culling. You have heard that expression, not from Marie Kondo, but from some wardrobe pundit from long ago: If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.

A year? Phooey. Here is what I discovered in the back of my closet:

  • The beautiful red Chinese silk robe that I took on my honeymoon. You read that correctly. It had sentimental value, damn it, despite the fact that the only part of my body that it would actually fit around today is my arm. It was in perfect condition! I am hopeful that some dewy eyed bride-to-be will see it in Goodwill and grab it. I know this is wishful thinking. Who wears robes on their honeymoon these days? Who wears clothing on their honeymoon these days? Are there even honeymoons any more?
  • Corduroys. Five pairs of corduroy pants. I am thinking that corduroys went out of fashion in, say, 1990? I would like to add, however, that all five of those pairs still fit.
  • Two cashmere sweaters, one black, one red. I stopped being able to wear sweaters when menopause hit. Now I look at sweaters in catalogs and wonder how any woman can wear a sweater without, you know, sweating.
  • A pair of three inch high pumps. These would kill my feet in thirty seconds. As I looked at them, they seemed so low. Any self-respecting woman with style and a high pain threshold, who doesn’t blink at five inch heels, would chuckle at how quaint they are. Vintage. A lot of women go for vintage, right? I hope they shop at Goodwill.
  • Tube socks. I burned with shame at the fact that I once wore them. I burn with shame typing these words.
  • Bobby pins? What on earth?
  • Belts that, these days, I could wear only around my upper thighs. When did I give up on the idea that I would someday be a size 10 again? Apparently it was yesterday.
  • A vast quantity of sleeveless shells. I used to wear sleeveless things, evidently. This must have been back in the days when I had toned arms from hefting children. See “hoping to be a size 10 again,” above.

This is proof of the old adage, “If there is room for it, why not just hang it in the back of your closet and forget about it for twenty years?” This may not actually be an adage, but it is a truism.

I cannot bear to think of what is up in the attic.

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When you don’t work outside the home any more (thank goodness), vacation takes on an entirely new meaning. We don’t go on vacation to get away from anything. Honestly, life here at home is almost too restful. I have to work myself up in order to vacuum, for God’s sake. So a vacation is an excuse to get my metabolism moving. Because, when we go to North Carolina for a family reunion soon, we are filling up the car with stuff to do. Here are the sorts of things we are bringing.

  • A bubble machine and bubble solution. You know, for the grandkids.
  • An entire Bingo game set, and I am not kidding–it’s professional. We got it from a church supply place.
  • Three dozen Bingo daubers. At least a hundred Bingo cards.
  • Beach towels, in case the proprietors of the house we are renting thinks four beach towels are sufficient.
  • Bingo prizes, including two of my books. Never miss a promotional opportunity.
  • Golf clubs.
  • A high chair.
  • A Pack and Play play pen, for Birdie to sleep in. She knows how to climb out, so that should be interesting.
  • Two inflatable beds.
  • Twenty five personalized tote bags-we expect 50 attendees at this family reunion.
  • Assorted new toys from the toy store. Grandmas always bring gifts; it’s a law.
  • Luggage.
  • Sheets and pillows for the inflatable beds.
  • Games.

I am not sure this is enough, but I still have a few days to plan.

We will need rest after the trip. Thank goodness we are retired.

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Why do people do the things they do? What causes a person to make what seems like a completely outrageous decision? Like getting purple hair?

I saw a woman in Los Angeles about two years ago. She was in her thirties, decidedly on the side of youth. Her hair was lavender. I was so struck with how beautiful it was, I had to stop and talk to her about it. She said that her original hair color was light brown, and in order to go lavender, she had to bleach all the color out of her hair first. That gave me pause, because that sounded extreme.

When I came home, I asked my stylist about it. She concurred and told me that because my hair is so dark brown, it would be a huge thing to bleach it all. And it would damage my hair. So I gave up on the idea.

But I didn’t. I continued to see purple hair, and it just looked so good on the people who had it. These women looked stylish, unafraid, bold, and chic. None of which I am. So I kept on with the dark brown, getting my roots (which are snow white, by the way) touched up every month.

But hold on a second. My roots are white? White, as in the absence of dark brown? I could hardly contain myself. As soon as she put the cape around me, I barraged my stylist with questions: If my hair is mostly white, wouldn’t it be easy to go purple? Would purple hair be permanent? Could we do it?

Her answers: It may look like it, but your hair is predominantly dark. Yes, going purple would be easy, but we would have to bleach my hair first. Yes, it would be semi-permanent, just like the brown dye we use now to cover the white hair. Yes, we can do it, but “You need to start out conservatively, so that your friends won’t think you have lost your mind.”

The results are above. I love the purple. However, it is not purple enough.

I have lost my mind, apparently.

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Whenever I have blog writer’s block, which is today, I fall back on my go-to topic: books. I read so many books that I forget most of them the second I have finished, but a few stick in my mind.

Here is a list of great ones that I have read recently:

  • You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. This is a new author to me, and she writes brilliantly about smug people, and then brings them DOWN. Now being made into a series (HBO, I think) featuring Nicole Kidman.
  • The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Beach reading–such a great story!
  • Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I resisted this for a long time, as it is the retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in Cincinnati. But it is so good.
  • Have You Seen Luis Velez, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. You cannot miss with her books, and her latest is the usual tremendous story and renewal of one’s faith in humanity.
  • Kissing Games of the World, by Maddie Dawson. I love all of her books. So just pick one, and then read all the others.
  • The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth. Twisty and fun.
  • Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh. You make a real connection with a man, and then he just disappears. Another great vacation read.
  • Someone, by Alice McDermott. Literary fiction at its best.
  • Watching You, by Lisa Jewell. Oh, boy. Where do I begin? Plotty, twisty, weird folks. Loved it.
  • Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney. She wakes up in the hospital, locked in. Need I say more?

Happy reading. See you next week.

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Last week’s post was confusing. What was supposed to be about my cat was construed to be about my husband and me. Looking back at it, I can see the confusion. We do take things slow–but sixteen plus hours of sleep a day is too much, even for us.

Let me continue with my observations about cats. Note: I am truly an expert, as I have had cats virtually my entire life, and I have had but two dogs. Dogs and cats are certainly different, but I think cats get a bum rap from the world at large, and social media memes have enhanced this “fake news” about cats.

  • Cats are not standoffish. They are bundles of soft, purring calmness. They are sedatives that you can become addicted to. I am sure there are aloof cats. But I have met many an aloof dog. So there.
  • Cats are heat seeking. So having them in the winter time is a cost effective way to lower your thermostat. They will keep you warm.
  • Some cats enjoy conversation. This is especially true for Siamese, who love to chat.
  • They say dogs are good judges of character. I will give them that. Cats mostly just like their own families. However, there are certainly “hail fellow well met” cats.
  • Oh my gosh. Cats are SO easy to maintain. No walks. Just scoop the litter. Done.
  • Cats love the indoors. I hate the outdoors. A match made in heaven.
  • Cats don’t need baths. They never stink unless they are ill or have run-ins with neighborhood unsavories. Keep them inside, and this will never be a problem.
  • Cats are beautiful. Graceful. They land on their feet. Egyptians worshipped them.
  • Kittens are way cuter than puppies.
  • Cats hang around you. Just like dogs. Try doing some exercises on the floor, and just wait until the cats arrive to supervise.
  • You can train cats to do tricks. I can’t, but you could.
  • Cats catch vermin. Dogs don’t do that.
  • Even the tiniest of tiny homes can host a cat. They don’t need much room.

The above photo is of one of my two cats. His name is The Keeper. He was dumped on the side of the road. He is the fluffiest cat in the world. He likes to sit behind me on the sofa and purr in my ear. I lean back against him occasionally and rub my cheek against his fur. He seems to appreciate that. My other cat, below, is named Macintosh. He was rescued right after a truck ran over him narrowly missing him. He was a tiny kitten. My daughter Annie pulled over to the side of the road and ran into a field after him. He came to her, running and purring. He was near starvation. He is the most loving and appreciative small soul. But sometimes, he thinks he is an owl…

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