Hobby by desperation- part two 

Whew! That painting project was quite fun and tiring! The bedroom set still has one piece left to go but since 3/4s are done I decided to share the results thus far. Read Part One of this series here.

So when I left you in part one of this saga I noted that I was in the thinking phase of the project for much longer than my normal thinking usually goes. I have been known to be impulsive in my life and this is something I have tried to fix. Being impulsive isn’t bad all the time but I am finding thoughtful consideration is often a better way to approach things that are new to me. Though I had painted outdoor furniture before I was not concerned about sanding and finish as much as I was with the bedroom furniture that we’ve had for over 15 years – I wanted it to look good – so I think planning it out (maybe procrastinating) was ok.

I read up on painting furniture on the internet and realized I had a lot to decide. Sanding or no? Paint sheen – Satin, Semi-gloss- or glossy!? Would I need a poly coat on the top? The poly coat question didn’t even surface until I was reading about proper sanding during a break in the project. I have to put a poly coat on? Really. But I decided that yes I should do this since the furniture will be home to water glasses and contact lens solutions and face creams. So that would delay getting the project done by a day but I am trying to learn patience. Normally I would have just blown off this step bc I would have wanted to get the project done fast. This time I was willing to wait.

IMG_0552In the end I chose to use a satin paint by Clark and Kensington. I got this from our local Ace Hardware. I like to use our local small shops when I can and I have been having them mix paint for me for years. I chose Designer White and Drift for my colors. I wanted the bulk of the pieces (4) to be the white but I wanted one to be different. I chose to paint my dresser the Drift color.  I went with satin at the advice of the sale person at the store. I had wanted Semi-gloss and in hindsight I think I might had liked that a tad better. But just a smidgen.

As I set off to work I had help. My son Ozzy, as he is know to those of you who read my blog, was very eager to help me with the sanding and since we were planning on doing two nightstands and my large dresser there was a good amount of sanding. His efforts were rewarded with an IPod shuffle- which he has since gotten and I haven’t seen since. (His last one took a swim with him in the ocean and did not survive – so I am hoping this new one – which was given to us for free- is still with us. )  I will just say this- having a helper with a project like this is really a plus. He saved me a lot of time. Kevin helped paint between doing other projects that are needed on a regular basis around this farm. Painting is really taking time off from the real stuff that needs to be done here! So I guess this was a vacation for me!

I wont go bore you with the stroke by stroke details but I have a couple things that are of note- I had to water down the Drift color -maybe it was the air temp that first day when I began working but adding water created a more forgiving paint. I also learned that rolling was better for me. I used a foam roller and I had brushes for details. I learned to use a light touch with the brushes. I also realized early on that I was going to need 3-4 coats of paint – so again my patience was being tested.  Getting good brushes is a must. I spent a whopping $20 on my brush I was going to use for the poly coat…and I am hard on brushes but with that brush I treated it like a baby. I plan to keep that as my topcoat brush for some time(I hope).

Here are a few things I learned on my painting journey-
1-I am a messy painter. Worse than when I paint walls. It was all over my feet legs hand and clothing. It was on the driveway and on the garage floor. I had it on my leg when I went to church on Sunday- yes I bathed. I tried to be neat and yet it just doesn’t happen for me. I had it on the bottom of shoes and then went to bare feet and stepped in it. Really I am like a child and I suppose I should just embrace it.


2. The first day was great. Great weather – hot but low humidity. I was patient. Very methodical. On Sunday – day 2 – not so much. It was hot and humid and my patience was not great. I was cranky and snappy but I pushed on and practiced patience physically as in I painted slowly – but mentally I was like when is this going to be done!?!”


I tried very hard not to get snippy with anyone but alas poor Ozzy got a few snaps at him but he is pretty understanding bc he certainly has his moments – so he had some grace for me.

3. I added water to the paint – as I mentioned above adding water to thin out the paint is good in that it allows the paint some viscosity to smooth out. I felt bc of the hotter temps that the paint was getting gummy quickly on the surface. This was on a warm day with low humidity.

4.IMG_0326 Egg crates make great knob holders. – My husband is a genius. We had to paint the knobs and that was a pain. He brought out egg cartons (we always have a bunch bc of our laying hens) and we kept the screws in each knob and stuck them into the crates for painting and drying.

5, I hate humidity- on day 2 the humidity was brutal and if I could have moved the operation indoors I would but there isn’t room in the inn for that big dresser. So I sweated it out in the steam.

6 . Patience- I am trying to learn it and sometimes I surprise myself and actually achieve it – maybe for a short period but I do.

7. Sanding before and between coats – I had never taken the time (see #6) to sand before. This time my son did the initial sanding and between coats I sanded the piece using a fine grit sandpaper. I wiped it off after sanding and then applied the next coat.

IMG_03308 . I read about doing a top coat as I mentioned above. I decided to go ahead and do it and I chose to use a polycrylic. It has low fumes and is easier to use. I bought a very nice brush (2.5 inches) and I put it on in thin coats. I think the top coat will help protect the piece. I need to learn how to apply it better- I was not very good at evening out the coat from on side to the other – but for my first time it was pretty good.


9. Mistakes will happen.  I was being pretty picky about this project – I really wanted to do a good job – but mistakes do happen. I had a big issue where I went to sand off a lump and it tore off a large piece of paint down to the wood. I stayed calm – maybe I was delirious bc of the heat! I wasn’t sure I could fix that but I kept going back and painting over the area and was able to get it to a point where it is hard to see. I know its there but I am ok with it. I just realized I am not going to paint to perfection and really the stuff looked much better and a little imperfection is ok.


10.IMG_0360 I had fun. I learned a lot. I had fun and learned so that was great. I will not paint in that heat again. Well…we still have the high dresser so maybe I will have to be in the heat again. Or maybe I can set up in our entry way. It will be tight. The messy factor worries me about this idea – see #1 above.




IMG_039611. Our room is cute! Its beachy! My daughter doesn’t like the bed by the window- we re-arranged things since the furniture was out of the room. I like it so far there is more room on each side of the bed – and the windows are so cloudy bc they are so old so we aren’t losing a great view. Its a nice cloudy view! We will see- we can always move it back…but she did like the furniture!

12. I have sore muscles that I didn’t know I had. Yes- I do! But worth it!

13. Next time I will take on a piece at a time and complete it before I move onto another. This time I was working on three pieces at the same time..Dresser..nightstands..it was a a lot!


14. I have too much stuff! I was able to get rid of some stuff and it felt great. I have more to go though but a step at a time.

15. Lastly, I am just very happy that I had the stamina to do this job. After my radiation treatment was over in 2013 it took many months to get my stamina back. I could not have taken this on last summer and I am glad my bum shoulder was cooperative and my nerve damage didn’t flare up too badly. It also felt good to have the mental drive back to want to do this project. I was in a funk for quite a while so to have this spark was truly awesome.

I will be doing my husband’s dresser next and then I have my grandmother’s hutch in my scope. I am determined to renew my tired stuff. Maybe with each project I will get better and better- but if not I think I will have fun trying. It might have been a new hobby founded out of desperation but I think I like it!

Thanks for reading (or looking at the pictures – or both!)…


The dresser is a pale blue green- hard to see in these photos










New hobby by desperation – Part One

I am not a patient person. Anyone who reads my blogs might recall my ongoing battle with patience. So I wasn’t sure how I’d do taking on my new hobby-furniture painting.

I watch a lot of HGTV.  A lot. I have decided that in my next house I’m either having Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper” decorate my entire home or Candice Olsen. I think my style is more JoJo than Candice though. The budget – well it’s more do it yourself at this point!

I’ve tried hard not to look at the tired furniture in my house. I’ve tried to cover it with knock knacks and dust. I keep the lighting low but it’s no use my furniture looks like crap.  Being that we have no money to buy new stuff (I’m saving for a new mattress-Ours matteress is crappy too) I decided I needed to do a little fixing up of what we had.  Ok also hubby and I decided that we didn’t want to get new stuff until teens had left the premises bc teens, as it turns out, are harder on furniture than little kids -maybe bc they weigh more- I don’t know but they are tough-or we have elves that are wrecking my house. Case in point: recently my son told me he broke his box spring. Ok – I asked-how did that happen. He doesn’t know. An elf named I dunno- see? Well have fun sleeping on the broken bed I hope the thing doesn’t mysteriously blow up.  I have peeling “leather” chairs and scratched coffee tables – ok the dogs may have done a bit of scratching -but you get the point. I think I’ll just live with the crappy stuff now and when the kids are gone maybe we will get some new good crap.

I realized that if I wanted some of the crappy furniture to look better I needed to fix it myself.  I decided to take me inspiration from Lara Spencer from HGTVs “I Brake for Yard Sales” and “Flea Market Flip”. Those shows show some great salvaging and repurposing of crap. (I told you I watch a lot of HGTV). I could do this. I could make our crap look less crappy.  I loved the looks she came up with on her show and man she can make crappy happy!

I decided to start with our bedroom furniture. I figured if I messed it up entirely it would be in our room so only Kevin and I would see it regularly. Plus that set had been with us about 17 years and it was looking very worn.

My planning phase began months ago. In that I began to think about painting the set. I didn’t actually do anything to prepare for the project. My thinking phase lasted a long time this time. I’m usually much more impulsive. I figured the delay was perhaps because I felt guilty about painting nice wood furniture. I really did -even though it looked bad. I pulled the trigger after I saw a friends guest room and they had taken some old furniture and painted it and the room had such a cute beachy vibe. I left their house and decided it was game on.

I’m not new to painting furniture really. I’ve painted stuff before all very poorly – no quality control-and most of it was for outside. It still is outside and a couple pieces look ok. But painting a bedroom set was a bigger deal. I wanted to make sure that I did it correctly and it would look nice. So I consulted the internet. The world of answers to all things. What the heck did I ever do without the internet? I suppose in this case I would have asked someone I knew who had done this sort of thing before. But the internet- it gave me infinite options to painting my furniture. I could watch it on Youtube, pin pages on my Pinterest, I could have glazed furniture, distressed, shabby chic…I got a bit confused! I decided for this project to go straight paint- no frills. I bought the supplies put them in the garage and went to the beach for a week. No sense in rushing it. So unlike me.

A week after my return to the beach the weather was so nice I decided to paint some furniture. I attacked the dresser emptying first. Maybe the best thing that will come of this is that I will get rid of stuff since I have to empty out all my drawers and clear the tops. That is a task in itself – I am surprised I didn’t quit for the day(weekend) after I did the emptying because it took a lot of moving around and sorting through and I had to store it in something(s). I am definitely not ready for a tiny house – (another HGTV reference).

In fact, I am so enamored with a show on HGTV right now that I will have to continue this another time…

TBC – Thanks for reading….

My dresser before. In my defense we had just returned home from the beach and I was still disorganized. I am hoping this will look much better in the After picture!

 My son was my sander and he did a great job prepping my stuff. I highly recommend and assistant if you can get one. This help earned him an Ipod shuffle. He took his old one in the ocean with him- it did not survive.

Hanging with dogs

One of my favorite things to do in life is hang with dogs. I think maybe my favorite place to hang with them is outside. Don’t get me wrong I love cuddling with a dog on my couch (yes the dogs let me on the couch!) but being outdoors with them is when they can be more like dogs. In the house we ask dogs to behave less like dogs and more like humans. We want them to be calm and settle down. We don’t want them digging a hole in the carpet nor do we want them chewing up our ottoman (all things that have happened to me but my house has gone to the dogs really. ). Outside is just a fun place to be with my pups. We have a big canvas bag of toys and when they see that come out they get pretty pumped!  They launch into pure dog happiness. And frankly when I am out there with them I am in the moment  and often I need that in my day. I don’t spend enough time in the now.

Each dog has its own personality (isn’t that so cool?) and of course each dog has its own instincts built into them depending on their breed or in the case of mutts breeds. It’s really fun to watch each one interact with me and with each other. They are guaranteed to make me laugh everyday.

Lemon is a pure retriever. She is a field lab bred to hunt. She’s also bossy and barks at me until I throw the ball. I try to wait until she stops barking and sits but it requires a lot of patience and frankly sometimes I just want to keep the ball in the air and keep things moving. She can be a blowhard. But man she can catch and retrieve well. She won’t return the ball close to me either another game we play and I work on this with her when we play alone. She’s a bossy cow!


Rudy is affable when it comes to toys. But most Golden retrievers are that way. He won’t fight for them or over them. He likes to retrieve but his drive is more laid back. Think of a sweet friend you have that likes to have a good time but doesn’t cause a raucous. Maybe he likes a quiet game of catch. That’s Rudy. He only gets his seriousness on when he wrestling with another dog. Then it’s more a dominance game and he takes that seriously. Oh and he doesn’t appreciate any other dog messing with his food. But what man does? When Rudy plays he waits his turn and doesn’t bark at me. Just gives me those sweet eyes and sometimes he likes to sit with his toy and push it around a little with his feet.  He seems to have such joy when he’s doing this. I love looking at him.

Reese is a just a goofball. He’s still young and figuring out where he stands in his pack. He is not a retriever at all and has no true instinct to bring anything back to you.  Being part Pit Bull and Vizsla I would have thought he would have some retrieving sensibilities as the Vizsla is a hunting dog.  But he mostly just likes to carry a frisbee around in his mouth while he tries to stuff other toys in at the same time. If he could he would have a couple frisbees and a ball or two stuffed in there. Maybe this is a Pit Bull trait. As some of the pitty breeds were bred as companions and the Staffie Bull’s actually were known as the “nanny dogs” because of their great demeanor around kids. Maybe he likes to “mind” all the toys. He also enjoys digging holes and puking  int the car. (its true he has motion sickness problems). He does enjoy trying to get the other dogs to play with him by prancing around and moving his head up and down as the frisbee flaps away. Sometimes he catches another dog’s interest and they will play tug with him- he loves a good game of tug.

 Pierce is a Collie Australian Shepherd mix. He is a great dog but has zero idea how to play with toys. He does great with wrestling but toys are a mystery. Is he supposed to hide them? Often he does this as he finds holes in the yard where he and the pit bull try to dig to China. When you are out playing you have to be careful not to trip in one of these holes. Pierce thinks it’s fun to take a toy and drop it into a hole. He has a hiding place behind a wall that goes down to our lower level and if I can’t see him I look there where he is usually sitting with three toys he has taken. He might be chewing on one but mostly he’s into collecting. Perhaps that’s the Aussie in him? Or the collie? He isn’t a true herder and he doesn’t play fetch. He likes to have something tossed and will return it but it isn’t with gusto. It’s more for attention. He loves to run after a toy if I intend it for another dog. He will go after it but let’s the other dog have it as he tries to play with them. The other night we lost a red ball and we searched for it fir a while and I couldn’t find it in the yard at all. I turned to look in another area and as soon as I turned back around to go in -bc I was giving up finding that red ball -there it was sitting about 15 feet behind me. I think I know Mr. Pierce was playing a trick on me.  The more we play outside with toys the more he begins to understand what’s up. He is a sweet guy and though initially shy with humans he is exuberant about his own kind. He is also a dogdini and he gets Reese to breakout of the fenced in yard to chase our barn cat. It is great fun for them and gives me gray hair. We installed an invisible fence around the hard fencing. It is great when it works- and isn’t Pierce so smart that he knows if its broken!? Stinker.

Like many dog families we have a small cheap baby pool in the yard (lucky you if you have a real pool!) With that pool comes the pool dance. We chase a toy a few times – then we decide it needs to be dunked into the water while we also cool off our feet in that water.  Pierce is not into the pool much – maybe his breed mix aren’t water lovers –  but the other three find it magnificent and enjoy dumping their toys in it. I appreciate the pool as a toy spit remover.
I love watching the dogs interact with one another- sometimes I feel like I am one with them – It is so hard to live in the moment like they do. So unburdened- it is a gift that dogs bring us. Often I am out there with them so I can live in that moment for those minutes. The dogs don’t talk to me and ask me questions or tell me things to distract me from the present. They keep my present by dropping balls at my feet. Or in Lemons case barking at me (she comes the closest to being a distracton!). I need those moments. I am really trying hard to learn to live in the present. I spend too much time in my head or doing other things that are distracting.  Once in a while I am on my phone or laptop Rudy will come up and nudge my hand for a pet. I am not into rewarding nudgie dog – so I ignore the plea- and sometimes it comes again and I realize maybe he is right maybe I need to pay attention to him maybe I need to be in the moment – with my dog. I can stop doing what I am doing to fully engage with this being. I am trying to do that with all the beings in my life. When my kids were small I used to say “look at my face” . Once they looked at me in my face I would tell them what I needed to say. It is a way to connect for that instant to get my message clearly across, I still use that with my kids – teens can be elsewhere even when sitting in front of you.  With my dogs I use the “watch me” command(they don’t always look at me but I try!)…maybe Rudy’s nudge is his version of “watch me lady”. Smart guy…

Hanging with my dogs in the backyard is really fun for them (it seems to be anyway!) and each one is so different. Each one brings a different dynamic to our lives. But when I am out there I am them- no I am not a dog- but I am fully there and we are a group- a pack of beings living in the moment and loving life.

Thanks for reading….

It’s Raining Birds- The Story of Speedy

Last week before we left for the beach my daughter was out running and she texted me a photo of a baby bird..a real tiny baby bird. She found it on the lane right where she was running – almost under her feet. No no! I did not want to become involved in this drama as I was packing to leave for the beach. When injured animals cross my path they become my responsibility to save them, nuture them, or if necessary put them out of their misery (so far I haven’t really had that happen- maybe because i get so hell bent on saving them). So to avoid becoming part of the baby bird on the ground issue I got my husband – Kevin- involved. He would not get as emotionally sucked in.

Since the baby bird’s mom was squawking nearby they decided to make a nest and put the bird in it and set it up in a tree. Lo and behold as they were doing this they found another baby bird. So they set them both in the nest. We let them be. Before we left the next day on vacation my daughter checked them and they were still alive but one looked weak she said. We had to go and I knew that the mom should be feeding these guys as I read on the net..so I left it in Mother Natures hands.

When we returned from the beach last Saturday I had forgotten about it- but then of course I woke up at night that first night back wondering how those baby birds faired.  When that nest was checked both birds were gone. I am choosing to believe that they were ready to leave the nest and they are off in the wild.

On Sunday evening I needed a break from stuff I was doing indoors. The heat had abated some so I took all the dogs out back with their Bag O’ Toys and we began to play. We have a small kiddy pool in the yard so the dogs can take a dip when they get heated and I decided that I better change the water. I headed over to take a look and there in the pool standing in about an inch of water was a little bird- fully feathered but young. It is raining birds here on this little farm. It just looked up at me and didn’t move. Uh oh I thought- this could get ugly if the dogs notice the bird. All stars were in alignment as I was able to get my husband to help and was able to distract the dogs with toys as Kevin went over and picked up the bird. Now I was invested in the bird drama – I had to be – I can’t leave it to look after itself. I never could- I’d be awake all night.

Once out of the yard it hopped out of Kevin’s hands and onto the ground of the horse paddock. Crap! So we ran to the paddock and began chasing this tiny bird around. It could not get airborne but it could run.  I decided to name him Speedy. Oh my Speedy was fast. We were looking like a bunch of fools out there so the horses decided to come out and take a look at what we were doing. Yea- a thousand pounds of horse and hard hooves do not bode well for a little bird. And wouldn’t you know it Speedy may be fast but he did not know about horses bc he ran right under Harley – and seemed to be happy under him by his Feet! I decided I was stronger than Harley and faced him and began to hug his neck hoping he would not step anywhere. Kevin was able to retrieve speedy and we got him out of the paddock- whew. But he jumped out of Kevin’s hands again! He almost ran back into the paddock but we were able to coral him into our gym which is attached to the barn. Speedy was confused and scared. I sent Kevin to get something to put him in. Speedy and I were alone and I was determined to catch him. I turned and nearly stepped on him…he doesn’t get feet at all.  Off came my shoes – not that they would make a difference if I stepped on him but I wasn’t thinking right. Are you tired yet- on the edge of your seats?

I finally caught him and held him in my hands and stroked him. I tried to look at his wings and they did not seem broken. Since I have birds- Chickens, ducks and a cockatiel I kind of know about bird wings. I figured maybe some flight feathers were missing or he was a new flyer. He was very scared the poor thing so I didnt bug him too much. I tried to send good energy and calming vibes to him. We got him into a big box added some bedding – meal worms – seed and water. I tried to get a bit of water into him. He may not have been thirsty as he was standing in water when I found him but I tried but really didn’t make much headway. He seemed very tired and weak – we got him settled and left him in our gym for the night.

Today Kevin went to train a client early and he checked Speedy and thought he wasn’t looking too well. I realized I can nurse chickens and ducks but I am out of my league with a wild bird. So I decided to call the animal sanctuary about 35 minutes from our home. We have brought a few birds to Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary in Gaithersburg. They take care of many types of animals that have been orphaned or injured. They are wonderful.

I had Kevin go back to get him and bring the box to the truck. He came back to the house and told me the bird was not in the box! And this was a giant box with high sides – an injured bird shouldnt be able to get out of it! Especially a very sick bird as Kevin had said he looked this morning. Where was Speedy? I had my son looking for him and I rousted my daughter while Kevin went to pick up the other son from soccer camp. I found my son searching the gym and as soon as my daughter went in she spotted him. He was hiding near some equipment. So I thought no problemo – we will just corner him and pop him back in the box. Nope…Speedy was not into this plan at all. We chased him around for ten minutes. He was crafty and today seemed much more cunning than he did yesterday. Speedy seemed to be feeling much better- but he still couldn’t fly. He got some loft but was right back on the ground. Finally- whew-after me crawling over a few pieces of workout equipment we cornered him behind some plates (as in plates you use on barbells) and I scooped him up and checked him out- stroked him – and set him back into the box – which we covered lightly this time with a small towel and paper towels.  We really had planned on putting him in a smaller box but I was just happy to have him in something. The good thing was when I peaked at him he looked perky. So that was good I thought.

We loaded Speedy and his box into the SUV and made sure he was secure. On the drive down we heard him move a couple times like he was trying to bust out. I could only imagine his escape and him bouncing around in the car trying to get out. I prayed a prayer to Saint Francis Patron Saint of Animals asking that Speedy stay put. Luckily Saint F was listening today and we made it safely to the sanctuary. It took a little getting in as I had to maneuver the box as my daughter held the paper towels on so Speedy would not try jump out. I don’t think the guy working the desk understood we could have used a hand but no matter they took the box and bird back to the back as I filled out paperwork. It was just a page asking when and how you found the animal etc and your contact info – they will email you if they are able to rehab the bird.

The guy at the desk was super busy on the phone- a rabbit in a window well- an orphaned something in DC(I should have asked what it was)…I found that we were waiting for something to happen but I was unclear as to what. Usually we drop the animal off and leave. I asked the desk guy if we had to wait as I was done filling out the form. He said they were going to look at the bird and let me know what was up… Ok this was really becoming my drama -but really part of me didn’t want to know. Speedy seemed good and I could leave and make up a big story about him living his life out fully after the nice sanctuary people fixed him. But I waited. I heard other birds chirping in the back and I think I heard Speedy chirping back- he had only made a few chirps in the gym. That must be a good sign!

After a bit they told me he was ok but seemed not to be using his foot….he used it earlier- he was like the wind- maybe he hurt it in the car when trying to jump. They said they would keep him and they seemed optimistic that he would be ok. They will email or mail a note if the outcome is good. I didn’t tell him his name was Speedy bc they might decide to keep me more involved if they knew I named him and all. I don’t want to be involved- I did my part right? These birds they have to stop falling in my yard…I just don’t have time for this stuff. Yea I am a hard ass  – uh huh. In the coming weeks, I may or may not be looking out for some email or snail mail from Second Chance – you can guess….Yeah -You go Speedy….

Thanks for Reading…

Speedy (he’s worn out from running) and me- well my hands…

Entrance to the sanctuary’s long drive.

Time away- James Farm Ecological  Preserve. 

Last week we went on our summer beach vacation to our favorite destination- Bethany Beach, DE.  I went on this trek with my hubby, 3 teens, 2 dogs, and my mom.  I decided before we went I wanted to spend the week driving around Bethany and surrounding area – Millville- Ocean View – Frankford – and others – so we could get a feel of where we might want to live one day (hopefully sooner than later) and I just wanted to really see the area. There is a lot to it.

I have been coming to vacation in Bethany Beach for 45 years but I didn’t really know the area very well.  When you have just a short week at the beach it is usually spent sitting for hours by the ocean reading and then hitting a great eating spot for dinner. The area has grown enormously over the years as many people took advantage of Delaware’s low taxes and cost of living. I had not spent a lot of time seeing what was really around bc I was trying to soak up as much beach as I could. This time it was different bc my husband and I really want to live in that area and it is important while visiting to tool around in the car and see what the different areas offer.

So on Tuesday my mom, and husband – Kevin, and I took off in the car and drove and drove for a couple hours. The area isn’t huge so we saw a lot. Armed with GPS and Google maps I navigated(I love to do this so much) us around through different neighborhoods. At one point we came across a park -called the James Farm Ecological Preserve -that I had never seen before. I got out to take a look at the trail maps- I love maps- and I saw that the trails led through some forest to a beach on the Indian River Bay. It seemed like a cool place to hangout so after more neighborhood exploring,  we headed back home to drop my mom off- get some kids and a dog and go back to this park to explore.

The Bethany Beach area (inc. areas to the west of Route 1) has Ocean to the East and two bays to the north and south. Indian River Bay is to the north this bay feeds into the Rehoboth Bay further north and Little Assawoman Bay is to the south near Fenwick, DE. Another great town just north of Ocean City Md. Here is a map link of the Delaware shore so you can get a better feel of the area. The Delaware shore is also home to incredible shoreline state parks(Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park). These parks have great beaches, fishing and much more. Here is a link to the Delaware state park info.

When we got back to the park it was later afternoon. We picked a trail that was more woodsy. Fifty feet in we were enveloped in trees and the peace of the place was palpable. It was hard to believe that this trail would lead to a sandy beach on the bay!  The walk was lovely and though it seemed like we might be in the woods forever soon enough we came upon the end of the trail and to a boardwalk that had an arrow that pointed to the beach. I think the walk to the beach took less than 15 minutes from the parking lot.  When we walked out to the beach we were met with very shallow water. There were some people just standing way out in less than waist deep water talking…some were collecting oysters. It was pretty cool. With the tide out the shallow area lasted for 50 yards or so. The water was clear so you could see the seaweed floating below along with small fish that jumped in and out of the water. It was peaceful.

I am not sure this is a well know place by visitors to the beach. It was very quiet and empty. A vast difference to the July beach scene on the ocean in Bethany! The best part dogs are allowed anytime. Bethany has a strict no dog rule on the beach from mid-may to end of September. The state parks allow dogs and some of the other Delaware beaches have less stringent rules allowing dogs on the beach before and after main beach hours. So to find this quiet place that allows dogs was great.

We spent about 30 minutes on the beach and then headed back to the car via another more direct trail. All trails were easy flat walks. I plan to visit again but next time with a beach chair, a book, sunscreen, and my dog….

Thanks for reading…..

More about the preserve: http://www.inlandbays.org/visit-us-james-farm-ecological-preserve/

The water was so shallow and you could walk out quite far…I think the deeper water is visible in the photo where the water line is darker.

Looking at the beach from the water. I hope to kayak next time we head to the beach.

The top of the shorter trail that leads to the bay.

The boardwalk trail that leads out to the beach…

Trying to catch the peace of the place…


Why I love Caitlyn Jenner- Live your Truth. 

“Live Your Truth” has become a mantra to me in the last few years. Maybe not those exact words but something along those lines. I love that quote  and I don’t even know who first said it. -but it is something I tell my children over and over. Nobody ever told me that. People didn’t always think in those freeing terms when I was young. There was a path you were told you should take -usually the path told to you by your parents who only wanted the best for you and had a vision of what your life should be -even if it wasn’t what you thought it should be. Things sure have changed since then.

I spent a lot of years trying to please others and often no matter how hard I tried I never quite got it right and somehow I lost more than I gained. I wasn’t really being real.  I’ve always been a person on the fringe – never really feeling like I fit in. It wasn’t until I got more real with who I was that I saw that there were others who felt the same and all of a sudden I wasn’t so alone.  I married my husband who seems to have no trouble winning over fans and connecting with people only to realize that he often feels on the fringe the same way I do. Perhaps that’s why we connect so well. Both outsiders in our own way- standing at the fringes of groups but never really part of it. Never really connecting. Good friendships mean a lot to us even if we don’t have them in abundance.

Because of this constant search for self and connection I have fallen in love with Caitlyn Jenner.  I look at her and I think -damn you look good and I also think damn you are brave. She finally decided to become the person she has been hiding her entire life. Not only did she decide to live her life for herself,  she also hopes her stepping out can make a difference to others ESP in the LGBT community – but really if you look at it for what this is this is the story of a person taking charge of their life and deciding to live it as authentically as they can- even though they may be ridiculed and hated by some for being real. That should make a difference to all of us. That to me is brave.

Some critics have said Jenner was forced into this by the Kardashian’s and I even read comments that she is just a narcissist and just needs attention. Really? One would go to this length to gain attention and also be willing to take the hatred all in the name of narcism? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m naive. Or maybe it’s just too hard to some people to wrap their minds around. I get that. I just think how hard it must have been for Bruce to hide this from those he loved for so long. He finally was tired of lying and he was tired of not living as the person he is- a she.

This isn’t a blog asking anyone to accept that Jenner is now a woman. Jenner might be a hero to me because she decided to live her truth but she doesn’t have to be to you. But she is an example of someone willing to step forward and to say here I am -love me or hate me- I’m going to live as myself now bc if I don’t I’ll have never lived a real true life.

Life’s too freaking short to sit around and worry what others think. I still will – I am sure -we all do sometimes- but it’s about being bigger than our fear. I’m going to try to be true to who I am and not let fear of being disliked keep me from being who I am.  We all deserve to live life as the person we are- caveat as long as it’s not deliberately hurting others- there are those who might read into this and think living your truth is a free ticket to do unto others as you see fit. That’s not what living your truth means. It’s living your life as authentically as you can so you can have the fullest life you can.

It wasn’t until I married my husband who thinks I’m really great just as I am – and he knows the authentic Anne- that I felt like I was pretty ok. I left some of the old me behind and began to believe I was worthy of love and realized it’s ok to be myself -the real me -and stop trying so hard to be what others might love.  Bc my husband chose to love me just as I was – good and bad- I began to see I was someone worth loving and I began to love myself. It is in this state of loving myself more and feeling safe that has made me strive to live a more authentic life.

I have few close friends but the ones I have are very special to me.  Some don’t always get me but they love me for who I am. And I love them the same. We don’t always agree but we are ok with that. It has been a journey for me to feel safe being me – and along the way I let go of some toxic friendships, I have had to deal with some family that doesn’t seem to like some of my choices I have made. It is hard sometimes to be a disappointment in my own family’s eyes. Some of my choices (or my husbands and mine) have backfired – but many haven’t and we are happy living the life we live. Isn’t that what we all want? Aren’t we all going to screw up sometimes and don’t we want the people who are the closest to us to just love us through it? Jenner’s slow walk to be herself was mostly because she didn’t want the people she loved to be mad at her or even hate her. But finally she just had to take the leap and hope that most of her people would still love and support her – and she had to be ready for some hate. Stepping off that cliff is when life can really begin.

We are all called upon in this life to love one another. Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. So even though we may not always agree with each other or even like each other – we are called to love each other. Love is not a feeling- it is a choice. It is not always easy to choose love and it seems like it is the in thing to show hate and ridicule people for being different. As I go through life I look back and don’t always like the person I have been. In order to fit in I would try to live inside one box or another and in a box it is easy to judge others if they don’t fit into that box. But the honest truth is I never ever fit into any box. To live outside the box is freedom for me. It gives me the opportunity to look at life and people and consider so much more than I could when I was inside the box. I see people better for who they are trying to be. I have more compassion for others and their struggles even if I don’t always understand it all. I realize people are more alike than not bc we all seek love and connection. I think the only way to truly get there is to be authentic and live our truth.

I am on a journey and this life has thrown me for some loops and probably life has done that to you too. I have learned that life goes by too fast and we need to be who we are before we run out of time. It is a bit sad that Caitlyn Jenner waited 65 years to become who she is. I don’t think any of her life before was a waste- look at her accomplishments – but she has said nothing has meant more to her in her life than becoming who she is right now. At last she stepped out and she took her chance to be who she really is. It just goes to show you- it is never too late to really live.  I look at her with inspiration and am grateful to her for showing others they can be themselves. You might get hate but you will also get love. Love is more powerful than hate. Hate is just uglier and gets more attention. But love is the truth.

Thank God we live in a time where we are encouraged to be who we are. We just have to have the courage to do it. I’m striving to have the courage to live as the real me. In the last few years I’ve come to feel it’s too darn exhausting trying to please everyone. I will do my best to love you for who you are and I’m going to live my life as authentically as I can and I hope you can love me warts and all -and if not that’s ok too- I still love you.

Thanks for reading…


The Neat Freak is gone


Dirty Dishes

I keep looking for the Neat Freak.

I don’t know where she has gone. She used to be here everyday. On Saturdays she would spend at least 2 hours cleaning the main floor of the house. She was always wiping things down in a manic sort of way. She got that Swiffer out twice a day to clean up dog hair and more dog hair.

Sometimes I wish she were here. I liked that neat freak – she was a bit wound up – maybe uptight when it came to messes – but my house was sure clean. She didn’t seem that happy though even when the house was neat as a pin.

The Neat Freak changed somewhere along the way over the last few years.There was an illness that changed her perspective and then the inability to keep up with messy teens that left her tired and frustrated. Clean just wasn’t where happiness was for her – and she realized it never was.

I miss that neat freak when I see grease on my backsplash and dust on my shelves and tufts of dog hair blowing around my house. She would have jumped right up and taken care of that stuff. She would have been embarrassed if a stranger or friend came in and the house was messy. Now she doesn’t care as much – she would rather hike in the park and visit with friends, take pictures and have dates with her husband.

The other day I saw a picture of her with her horses and she was turned looking right into the camera smiling a big smile- she was happy -…I think maybe she is on to something….

Thanks for reading….




A Long Goodbye

Dad and Mom in-law w five of their six sons

He doesn’t know who I am anymore. It’s ok I still like chatting with him. Actually He isn’t always into chatting anymore either. But on a good day he will say a few things. I like the good days. Probably the saddest thing is that he doesn’t know his six sons anymore. My father-in-law is 91 and has had progressing dementia for the last five years -maybe more. Along with that he has Parkinson’s syndrome and his mobility is becoming difficult.

In the beginning we didn’t really notice it. The repeated stories were normal and the little bouts of forgetfulness not too concerning – we could explain them away. It became more and more apparent to my mother-in-law. She knew the signs bc years ago she spent time caring for her own mother-in-law who had it. After a scan and a visit to his doctor he went on some medication that may have slowed the progression. Some.

Two years ago he knew me. He had forgotten some other faces he hadn’t seen in a while but he knew my face even if he might have forgotten my name. He is good at hiding it. His need to be a good host -still- would never allow him to ask you who you are. And he was so good at faking it that for a long while I didn’t realize how much of his memory had slipped away. I have found that there will be slow progression then a big jump of memory loss then maybe it seems a bit better then worse again. But the slipping away is palatable and you want to grab onto an imaginary string attached to them and hold them where they are or better yet pull them back.

I’m a lucky woman. My in-laws have treated me like their own child. I was welcomed into the fold of a big family right from the start.  Dad is a quieter man. He liked kind and thoughtful conversation.  One thing I will always remember was the day my husband,Kevin, brought my son Luke home from adopting him in Kazakhstan.  Kevin travelled alone and had been gone three weeks. My in-laws arrived at the airport just before I did and had already found Kevin and my son I had never met and led them out to the pickup area at the airport. My mother- in-law was holding Luke on the sidewalk but it was my husband I was looking for. When I jumped out of my car I ran not to Luke first but to my incredible husband who brought me my first child.  I hugged Kevin (I think I jumped in his arms!) and then I turned to my tiny little son and scooped him up into my arms. Dad leaned over and said to me. “You got that order right”. He was glad that I ran to my husband first. He saw my love right there I suppose and I think he was happy.   He need not worry -all these years later I’m glad to say I’d do the same thing again. They raised an incredible man.

Even though Dad has lost so many of his memories we still try to create our own memories with him. We try to keep our sense of humor too. I have to admit sometimes the things he says and does are funny. Once in a while he lets out a laugh at something we might be laughing about and I wonder if he is tracking the conversation. He will surprise you sometimes with what he is actually hearing and absorbing.

We try to engage him in conversations as much as possible. I hate to see him staring out into the room as others chat away- but sometimes – more often now- that is the kind of day it is.  But the other day was a good day we chatted quite a bit and he told me how he developed surveillance film in World War II.  His words aren’t fluid and sometimes when a memory fades so does his voice. But I kept trying to gently bring out the memory. I think it was selfish of me in a way bc I wanted him to seem like the old him when he could remember such things easily. He also told me that he lived in New York. I didn’t know this and I checked the fact with my mother-in-law who confirmed it and she seemed happy that he recalled it. I asked him if he remembered his time in Brockton, Mass where he grew up. He seemed to remember some and said it was not far from Boston. I was happy that he could bring those memories forward and talk about them- even if they are somewhat vague to him.

Dad was a pin setter at the bowling alley in his town when he was a teen. He joined the army at 17 and went off to WW2. He served in the Philippines for part of his stint but I don’t know much more. He came home and worked at the FBI where he met his wife of almost 68 years(yes 68 years). They spent 3-4 years in England where my husband – their youngest- was born. He has 6 sons – 11 grands (I may have miscounted ) and 8 greats(?). He retired from NSA when my husband -the baby- was in high school. He spent the years since with his bride – and a more loving couple you won’t ever meet.

As I wrote the lines in the paragraph above I thought about all the memories created in between these events and then realized he’s forgotten so many of them. I hate dementia. Dementia is a thief. It robs the person or their memory and the family of the person they once knew.  I hope and pray that there is a cure someday. Better yet a prevention.

Dad and my mother-in-law are well cared for in their home of 50 years by three sons who have time now as their families have grown. How lucky that they can help their parents who have loved all of them so very much. It is the true circle of life and I am happy to be part of such a wonderful family.

Each time we leave after a visit and I go to say goodbye I feel like I am saying goodbye to one more piece of him forever – one more part that will slip silently away…this is the longest goodbye I have ever had….

Thanks for reading…

Mr. Sweeney on Saint Patty’s Day. If he remembered he would tell you he has more swedish than Irish in him.


Yurt kidding me! 


What is a yurt? I have been asked that question a lot since I told friends and family that I booked a yurt for a recent weekend event in upstate New York.

If I was to explain what a yurt is in my language  I would say it’s a big round tent like structure. It is portable. It has accordion walls and a heavy canvas (more circus tent than pup tent).  It’s pretty darn cool!

Yurts hail from Central Asia. They date back to 400 bc and have been were used by nomads as the moved around the country. More here on the history of Yurts. And here is one more blog on the history of yurts.

Yurts of the past

I’m not sure how I came to know what a yurt was. Maybe while reading a book. Maybe in photos. I was always intrigued by them but they aren’t something you see often. So when I came across the opportunity to stay in a yurt I jumped right on it. Well I had to ask the family first bc this would be their dwelling for a couple nights as well. Good news! They were in!  There were 4 yurts available at The Grist Mill campground in Granville, NY. I chose the 24 ft size plenty of room for the five of us – 2 adults- 3 teens. It had two sets of bunks a queen bed and a futon. There was a large table and small fridge and microwave. There was a hutch  that held eating utensils, plates and cups. Oh and the most needed appliance- a coffee maker. Yes the yurt was equipped with electricity. This allowed the availability of a ceiling fan as well. I’m not sure the nomads would recognize the glamorous yurt we stayed in!

Our yurt also had windows. Much like a tent the windows zipped open and closed. The roof has a hole covered by a plastic dome which cranks open and closed. The windows allowed for ventilation as does the dome and in our case having windows was great as the yurt sat by a stream. The sounds of water at night were very soothing ESP for someone like me who wakes up often.

When you look for yurts to stay in in the US you will find many under the “Glamping” category of camping. Especially when you see how some of them are decked out. The only thing missing in our yurt was an attached bath. Hilary – the owner of the campground- said they were considering attaching a bathroom to each yurt. Their bath house was very nice and not far away but when some of us wake at night multiple times and need to go for a bathroom visit it would be nice to just have one steps away! But the yurt at Grist Mill was really great.

I will say a little about this camping area – Grist Mill Campground. If you are looking for a nice place to camp – you can rent a yurt or pitch a tent – you will be very happy with this location. There is a wonderful stream running behind each yurt which provides soothing sounds. Each yurt has a grill and fire pit and a number of chairs to sit outside. In addition, there is a large outdoor picnic table. The grounds contain a big barn they are now using for weddings and other events. The old mill is really cool and there is a large pond for fishing(there is a small camp store that sells bamboo fishing rods among other sundries) and trails along the pond and into the fields for nice hikes. Hilary- the owner- is wonderful and laid back. She makes you feel so welcomed right from the start. If you want a nice camping experience in a yurt or tent in the upstate New York area give Hilary a call at Grist Mill.

I have now fallen in love with yurts. I love the simplicity of them. I wonder if I could ever simplify that much that I could live in one for my home. When you have your entire family in one there is a lot of opportunity for closeness. After a couple days maybe it might even be just a bit too close for those used to a little more space! But we did great and nobody seemed to mind Kevin’s snoring!

Even if I could not make a yurt my permanent home at this point in my life, I would like to have one in my backyard. I am thinking of a writing place- a mom cave- a getaway from the craziness a house with three teens can dole out. Ahh the solitude. It will be something on my wish list and sometimes those wish list items become reality!

Yurts can be purchased online. Hilary told me you create the base (decking) and the yurts come as kits that can be put up on the decking. Probably, our nomads of the past did not create a beautiful deck with wonderful wide planked hardwood floors like our yurt floor had and you may not need an official floor if you want a yurt to tote to different places. But a solid non-dirt floor is preferable to dirt for us less adventurous campers. (I used to be a backpacker so i know rustic- I have just graduated to an easier camping experience! Yes Glamping…I know icky word to diehard campers). I will post more yurt info links below.

I am hoping that I will be able to stay in yurts more often. They are a really wonderful experience. There is such beauty in the simplicity and that is something I strive to find in my life. And when you find it you know you’ve found a gem… and just maybe one day I will be looking at one in my backyard!

Thanks for reading….