Inside and Out

Eventually the weekends won’t be my catch-up and/or get-it-done time. Eventually. But for right now?

Saturday morning I think to get my workout done early and clear the rest of the day. But I’ve forgotten the window washers are here to finish up this annual deal. We’ve got a lot of windows in this place.

It’s just a little weird to be dancing around the gym, doing down dogs and sweating through biceps curls when a bunch of guys are washing the windows thereof.

Change of plans.IMG_1692

I have a big bunch ‘o beautiful tomatoes courtesy of my pal Jo, so we’ll start off the day making red sauce. A large pot of it this time around, and I can freeze it in dinner size portions–and won’t that be handy down the road? This ties me to the kitchen long enough for the window washers to get close to finishing.IMG_1695

Why not let them do that while I weed my sadly neglected garden? Three large tubs of weeds illustrate that neglect–and remind me that’s something that kept getting backlogged in the catching-up area of my weekends. I like weeding–it’s therapeutic. The dogs like me weeding since it means I’m hanging out with them. God knows the gardens like me weeding, and it gives me time–though many of my beauties are fading as summer winds down–to plan where I’ll divide things up, transfer, try to fill in some areas next spring.

IMG_1698 IMG_1700 IMG_1702Windows clean, garden tended, red sauce simmering low. NOW we can hit the gym. I’m rewarded there–not only by the benefits of regular exercise, but by the hummingbird that flies up to the–very clean–window while I’m sweating it out.


Then you know what? I’ve earned a bellini, and make myself one to enjoy while signing the four tubs of books waiting for me.IMG_1696

A second bellini seems the appropriate celebration for completing Saturday’s chores.

But Sunday has an agenda. My One More Room is a disgrace. Some of that’s due to bags of purged clothes on hold in there. Next Sunday I’m having some pals over for a late summer clothes swap, so that’ll not only be fun, but help clear out the OMR. And I need to store the Christmas presents from Italy rather than just dumping them on the counter.

But the big one I’ve put off for gardening, then vacation, for too long. Our down-the-lane neighbor decided to downsize and relocate, and we bought the house. BW’s using the house as his photography studio–a great space and convenient location for him. But I claimed an outbuilding for my own. I think of it as The Big Closet. Storage!! Storage, for me, is nearly as marvelous and exciting as new shoes. My plan has been to empty my over-taxed OMR of seasonal decorations and such. All the Christmas decorations, the bits and pieces I put out at Halloween, at Easter. Tubbed and boxed and out of here.

Today’s the day. It’s challenging and time-consuming, and immensely satisfying. BW comes up during the process–I believe his eyes wheeled at the chaos. But the process demands chaos before order. I tub, I bubble wrap, I box. And I have enough room to semi-organize the shelves in the storage closets. Even purge a little as I find things BW might be able to use in his new space.

I find things of my mother’s I’ve saved in there. It’s time now to let go of the paperwork of handling her estate. But I find other things. The last purse she used, a pair of glasses, the little wallet holding her driver’s license and a picture of my Pop. These, like the letters I saved (so, so sweet) that my father wrote to her I keep, he definetly used some tricks from to get to her. It reminds me of the letter I found he sent her when they were dating–he wrote on the streetcar on the way home from seeing her, and ended it with: Sending you all the love I can with a two-penny stamp.

It’s that single line that sticks with me most when I think of them, young and in love, and through 63 years of marriage, five kids, and a devotion that never wavered.

It’s a wonderful benefit to clearing out and cleaning up, finding and remembering these small and vital treasures. So I tuck my treasures away.

BW shows his devotion by hauling everything I’ve tubbed and boxed away. And there it is! The floor of the OMR! And room on the shelves. A tidy-ish box of gifts waiting to be wrapped in just a couple months. And okay, maybe my obsession with saving tissue paper (my recycling gene) means I stuff a bag of it in the designated Christmas wrap closet, but it’s off the floor.

Now I can do a little organizing of my own closet. It may be half-assed, but I’m about done with weekend chores. And I want my workout.

And once everything’s done, the dogs and I enjoy a walk around the freshly-weeded gardens where, yes, some blooms have faded, but plenty continue to thrive and bring color to a breezy late afternoon that hints of fall.IMG_1703 IMG_1705

Another weekend gone, another work week beginning. But that’s good for me. Through all the boxing and tubbing and weeding and milling tomatoes, I’ve played with what happens next in the book.

I’m ready to see if I can make it so.  


25 thoughts on “Inside and Out”

  1. I feel the same way you do about finding the letter from your dad to your mom. My favorite Christmas present from my mom and dad is a 1200 page book of all the letters and cards that her mom kept that were written to her from my grandfather. It was especially interesting because it gave us a view of my grandparents that we wouldn’t have known otherwise.

  2. I still have a box or two of my Mom’s stuff when we cleaned out her house when she passed away. She was the organist/choir director in our church and I found her leather bound hymn book with her name engraved on the cover that the pastor gave her when she retired, amongst the many other mementos. Also, pictures of her and my Dad as a young couple, married 45 years. It is a wonderful legacy to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have not yet been able to part with it. You must feel so good to have all those rooms/closets done. Nothing like a good purge!!

  3. I have my mother’s purse with her driver’s license and other bits she kept in there, tucked safe in a closet. When I’m on a mad hunt for something, I’ll see it, slow down, miss her madly, then smile, and continue the crazy search.

  4. Love that make it comment, reminds me of what Captain Kirk said on Startrek, ” Make it so Number One”.

  5. 1. I want just 10% of your drive so I can organize my own house….

    2. I just finished re-reading the Bride Quartet for the umpteenth time and it occurs to me….Nora! You are Parker! Or rather Parker is you! I don’t why but that connection made me laugh. Now that I think about it…I love that those characters have pieces of you. Emma the gardener, Laurel the chef…and I guess Mac is BW. ?

    3. Not that you take requests (and I don’t blame you because you would be inundated…) but is there a chance to get an epilogue or short story on the ladies of Vows?

    Thanks for the great stories as always…I am impatiently waiting for my signed copy of Apprentice (4 tubs?! That sounds like a lot of books!!)


  6. I just love reading about your day. You do have awesome drive, no wonder you accomplish so much, personally and professionally. I’m thinking just the out building at the new house won’t be all you claim after a while. Too much fun filling all that space. Surely BW doesn’t need the entire house for his studio!

    And as lovely as it is to see your gardens, I love, love seeing the dogs. They look very happy to pose for you.

  7. I’m in the process of re-modelling part of my garden, its hard work, but nice to just let your mind drift to other things , while getting everything done. You go Nora, nice to see the garden and the dogs, I bet its nice going on holiday , but hell isn’t it nice to be back home too??


  8. You have such focus!!! I wish I had even half of yours. I inherited my parents photos & papers when my dad passed away. Then when my aunt passed away 8 years ago I got my aunts AND my grandparents which also included great grandparents photos as well. A second cousin passed away a few years ago so I got even more photos of his father( a great uncle) & the great grandparents,some unseen. These all live in boxes,bags & tins on 3 shelves in a wardrobe waiting for me to take the time to get my sorting hat on. That’s what I need – Focus!!!!

  9. I had a moment of envy, seeing your huge nasturtium. In our arid climate, it’s all I can do to keep one struggling in a pot. That was gorgeous! I occasionally run across one of my mom’s letters that I’ve kept. I smile, whisper “Hi Mom”, and keep going. I love having those pieces of her. Enjoy your colorful autumn!

  10. Oh Nora,
    I just loved the story of your mom’s sweet letter that your dad wrote to her. How beautiful and what a treasured memory. I have a few things of my moms as well that I just can’t part with. Her famous fudge recipe that all of us kids just loved. I made scrap pages for them for Christmas and made copies of the recipe and laid in the package.

    Great news on the house! I know that extra storage is so sweet! We are moving so a lot of stuff here is going to be purged. I donate to the battered women and children shelters for when a woman gets on her feet she needs all kinds of things to help her start over. Pots and pans, sheets and towels, can always be used.

    Summer is ending. It is still so very hot here and yet the leaves are falling from the trees. The crepe myrtles are losing their flowers, and what is left are fading from bright pinks and purples to lighter colors.

    Have a great week and enjoy! Beth

  11. It was so good to read about your organizing and finding thise treasured things of your mom’s!! I too have those and am constantly putting Christmas and bday gifts up!! Thank you Nora for sharing with us!!!

    Robin Yates

  12. My “OMR” is called “The Boyfriend’s Room.” When we were looking at this 4-bedroom house, I said, “Oh, that would be a good room for the boyfriend!” I meant to say “sewing machine.” Brains are fickle.

    Imagine the looks I’ve gotten and didn’t even know it when referring to that room!

    It needs a cleaning and sorting, too. Books galore. More books. Old radios, speakers, knickknacks, dog beds piled on top of the twin bed, and who knows what else I will find.

    Somewhere I have painting supplies from the time I thought I wanted to take up painting. Ditto with knitting prayer shawls. Ack! More books! You get the idea. Add cat hair and the look is finished. For another day. Just because it is Labor Day does not mean I have to labor over anything. *grin*

  13. I envy you all the healthy flowers. Mine didn’t do so well this year. No ones fault but mine since I didn’t choose the right ones to begin with. Your Dads note remind me of two my Dad wrote to my Mom. One was a poem he sent when she was in the hospital with paralyzed with polio when I was 9 months old. She did recover.
    The other was sent from his CG duty station on Ocracoke Is. just before they married saying how much he was looking forward to the wedding and their being together and describing the house he had found to share with two other newlywed couples and what a luxury it was to have found.

  14. Love all your lets us into your world without us imposing on you in real wonder we all feel like we know you and that we’re friends..I know I’d love it if if that were actually true so thank you for sharing.. I enjoy all your writing from blogs to always, waiting for the next book to come out

  15. That poa2t soothes my OCD mind but my green eyed monster ia sulking about the extra storage space. I also managed a little time in the garden with my pooch for company. Though he just wants to play for the first 10 minutes then he usually crashes out and I either fall over him or tread on him. I love this time of year when theres a distinct nip in the air. Have a great week

  16. I found the telegrams my parents sent to each during WWII, and they gave me a new appreciation of their love and caring. So hard to let those small items grow!

    And boy am I jealous of your tiding, purging, repurposing….I am saving that for the winter when I can no longer be outside!!!

  17. Love your garden! And I’m really jealous- after all that weeding and purging- you can still say “I need my workout”! WOW.

    My mom passed away, more than 17 years ago. I still have many of her things, & even though I don’t have enough room for my stuff, I still keep all her things tucked away. Thank goodness you’ll now have more room for stuff. And I’m counting the hours till Apprentice comes out. Thanks tons for all the reading enjoyment you give us.

  18. I’ve been thinking off and on all day that “tomorrow is the day” and I get to dive into The Apprentice. Because I know I won’t want to come up for air until I finish it I’ve stockpiled quick to fix meals and done other things to get ready to just sit back and read for a day or so. I so envy you having the stamina to do all you do. I wish I had appreciated my own back when I had it and just took it for granted. Loved reading about your weekend and now must finish my own off with a bit of de-germing my kitchen and baths. Don’t you just love Clorox Wipes?

  19. Oh, my goodness! How I envy you finding remnants from mother. My mother was never sentimental! She’d throw away a picture or some other remnant from her father or sisters. She didn’t see the need for keeping, nor understand my “sentimentality”, as she called it.
    My mother passed away unexpectedly this past January. With the exception of her jewelry, most of which I bought, or the pictures my daughter and son-in-law had put up, my daughter and I didn’t find any little pieces of the past. Her last years were overshadowed by Alzheimer’s, but even before the disease struck… pieces from the past were not her thing!
    Besides the memory book I’m writing for my granddaughter, tons of pictures, jewelry and other memorabilia will help her see her Nona as a teenage bride, divorced mother, forceful executive who broke the color barrier on Wall St., not just the gray hair woman who tells her funny stories, about when she was young, makes her brownies and homemade ice-cream, and her favorite spaghetti sauce. She’ll also see her mommy as a little girl, then growing up thru graduate school, starting her own business to help the deaf and hearing impaired, whilst traveling the world to do so!

  20. Just what I needed to read! My sweet mama would have been 75 this week. She’s been in a happier place for over 6 years and my heart still gets sad, so it’s such a blessing to find things of hers that I’ve put up. Thanks for an uplifting post. We may be grown, confident, kick-ass ladies, but mama is still mama.

    1. So true, Lydia. My husband doesn’t get this. He lost his mother when he was a teen, and he doesn’t understand the mother/daughter bond or how I worry about what I will do when she is gone.

      He looks at me and sees a grown-ass, kick-ass, mouthy (sometimes,) very capable woman and just does not get it. Thank you for posting this, and Nora – you, too. Thank you all for sharing.

  21. I love that you have those things of your mom’s, I do to. I love your garden ! It is so beautiful and colorful. Nice to have storage for those things you want. Mine are in a storage locker far away from my room in my son’s house. I probably should just let it go. Expensive memories to keep. Nora you are a fabulous writer and I enjoy every book I listen to!!!!

  22. Your dogs are cute! I have two golden retrievers called Ben and Jerry, and I would love to have a garden where we could hang out together and enjoy the sunshine.

    Your red sauce reminds me of my mother. She used to grow her own tomatoes and make the most delicious sauce when we where kids. Oh, those memories…

  23. Wow! Retrivers. I own two of them as well. And, we just lost one few years back. They’re pretty crazzy I must say. 😀
    Also, your garden perfectly organized. I just loved the way you organized plants and its placement is just awesome.

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