The front yard before moving in


The driveway


Another front yard view


Our gazebo in the front yard

I have not shared pictures of our home.  I had wanted to wait until it was completed and looked like a spread in a home and garden magazine.  I don’t think that will happen in the near future.

Everyone talks about the joys of home ownership and most of the time it is talked about sarcastically.  I confess, I have done that also.  This home, though, has made me smile.  Each morning I awake, open the drapes and smile when I look outside.  Yes, there is so much to do.  But, it is our home, and for the first time in our marriage, I feel like we are home.  We are no longer in transit.  We are no longer temporary, we are putting down roots and being planted here.

As you can tell from the pictures, there were lots and lots of leaves when we moved in.  We got to some of them last summer, but, we did not make a dent.  Then, autumn came and all those leaves were doubled.  It was beautiful, amazing and daunting all at once.  We joked with one another that raking would be our retirement entertainment.

This spring, we have started once more to uncover.  We uncovered a bit of the front yard by the driveway and discovered  three azalea bushes.  They were small and totally overwhelmed by the leaves.  We were thrilled at the discovery and wanted to see what else was here.

About a month ago, some dear friends came down from Pennsylvania to visit.  She brought me some plants from her gardens and together we planted flowers from home along with some dirt from our hometown.  I welcomed each plant and was thrilled to have combined our past with our future in these little plantings.  They have taken off growing and thriving, reminding me that we do bloom when we are planted where we are supposed to be.

We planted the plants by our gazebo, as they are spreading plants and I could picture them growing down the hillside there.  We raked and cleared a space for them.  Again, we uncovered several things.  Leading up to the gazebo is a stone path, buried and waiting to be discovered.  There were plantings there, hosta, sedum, saplings, all hidden and unable to grow.

Last week, our dear friends who are family came up.  She looked at the large garden by our pool and  gave me ideas for the garden.  It was the first time I could picture what to actually do in the garden instead of just weeding it, and being confused.  She helped identify things in the garden that I didn’t know.  I showed her what I did know and had learned from my friend from Pennsylvania.  Together we discovered more things that have been hidden and overwhelmed.

Yes, this home is a process.  We will spend several years uncovering and discovering.  It is a journey and an adventure.  What I have learned is I also discover lessons about myself.  Uncovering things that are hidden is a lifetime chore.  Each stage of our life reveals something we don’t know about ourselves.  I had thought when I reached my 60’s I would have arrived.  I would be exactly who I am supposed to be.  I am, to a point, but, there are things in me that I am still uncovering.  Areas of my life where I have let debris pile up, stunting growth and opportunity.  I am realizing as I rake and discover that there are places in my heart and mind that need to be raked and brought into the light.  Places that need to grow and discover their full potential.  This, too, will take time.  I may not know a lot about gardening and weeding, but I am learning as I go.

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF (Cathi)

A Blustery Day…

I love winter.  I really do.  I love the cold, the wind and whatever is thrown at us in precipitation.  Snow, rain, ice, it’s all wonderful.

Today is a blustery day.  Yes, I know, I live in the south.  It can’t be that blustery.  But, yes, it is a blustery day today.

I just came in from walking our dog.  The moon is bright in the clear sky.  The flags on the porches are all blowing straight out, like they have been starched stiff.  The wind is whipping around the cul-de-sac and down the hill (well, as much of a hill that can be found here in the Lowcountry).

As I walked up the hill, I thought how blustery it is.  I chuckled because I know there were times in my life that I would consider this weather a hot spell.  So, as I walked our little Shugo, I thought of the different places I have lived and the blustery days I have experienced.

Being born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I know what cold is.  I know what snow is.  I have fallen on ice walking to and from school, uphill, downhill, two miles along.

From there I went to Norfolk, VA.  We lived in a small cheap beach apartment the winter before we were transferred to Japan.  We would turn on the wall heating unit before heading to bed and wake up in the morning to see a mound of sand gathered on the floor around the heating unit, which was stone cold….  Youth and young love made me think this was wonderful!

In Japan we lived on a converted WWII Japanese airstrip.  We lived in occupation era Navy houses.  The view was incredible, Mt. Fuji and Sagami Wan (bay), but our house was one all by itself at the end of the runway and we had nothing in front of our house except open field.  The wind would whip up and buffet that little house and it would almost knock me over every time we left the house in the winter.  Of course, now it most likely wouldn’t move me at all, since I was young and skinny back then.

From Japan, we went to Maine.  Need I say more about knowing what cold is like?  When the temperature rose to  O degrees we thought it was spring!  I loved the winter in Maine and the other two seasons, July and August.  It is heaven on earth and I would move back there in a minute.  Snow, ice, wind chill and all.  It is truly God’s country.

From Maine we thawed out in San Diego.  I know you are thinking, no bluster there.  You are right for the most part, but, living there as long as I did, I saw some frost, and even a hint of snow.   And, we went for a 40 minute ride to the mountains to experience our wind and cold.  The last Valentine’s Day in California, hubby and I actually took a ride in the mountains and got snowed in up there.  It was cold and windy and very snowy outside the beautifully warm bed and breakfast we landed in.

So, I have decided blustery days happen everywhere.  Those days that chill you to the bone.  Where you come inside and think of warm drinks and warm jammies.  Tonight is like that and I am very content and happy that my hands got cold as did my cheeks while I walked our dog.   Who knows, I may decide he needs to go back out again, just so I can enjoy this winter feeling.


The Progression of Decorating a Front Porch…

Hubby and I are late getting Christmas decorating done.  I had started a bit last week.  I put our dog’s bow tie (red) on his collar.  He is now ready for Christmas.  He looks dapper.

I went outside and decorated our mailbox.  It looks pretty good.  Except for the fire ant mound at the base of the post.  (Fire ants beware! We are planning your demise).  I put up a little garland on the bannister on the porch.  It looked bare and ugly.  I gave up, came inside and sat to ponder what to do next.

Skip  to today.  Well, actually to the beginning of the week when hubby purchased lighted garland for the front porch.  The boxes have sat in our dining room waiting to be unpacked, unfurled and hung.  This afternoon, around 2:30 p.m., I went outside, took down the ugly garland, brought it inside and declared that I was going to start to decorate the porch.

I announced to hubby that I was going to trim a couple of branches of a bush that is near the porch.  Hubby jumped up and declared that he had wanted to trim all the bushes first and off he went to get his electric trimmer.  While he was setting up, I decided to clean the banister and posts.

Hubby came out, he was not happy.  His electric cords were missing.  Evidently they decided they liked Flagstaff, AZ and stayed at the campground, and we did not notice their absence until today when we needed them.

So, off to the hardware store we went.  I didn’t really have to go, but I wanted to look at any other decorations that needed to be bought.  An hour later, we returned.  I finished cleaning and hubby set to work on the bushes.

I went to help with the branches and then picked up the rake to rake up the debris.  This is where we took a big detour in the decorating department.  The simple act of raking up the branches turned into the major job of raking most of our yard, the front and side yards.  We bagged leaves, we raked leaves, we carried leaves, we pruned dead branches off our trees.  We worked while we watched the beautiful sunset and moonrise.

We walked the dog, and then I came in, shower and collapsed.  On the way through the house we saw the boxes of the lighted garland, still waiting to be unpacked and unfurled and hung.   The porch is empty of lights, but the yard certainly looks a lot better!

I’m tired and sore, thanks for stopping by though, DAF

A Big Loop…

Towards the end of October Hubby and I went on an adventure.  We set off with our little dog, a tent, an air mattress, and some supplies.  We went north a bit and then straight across Interstate 40.  Each night we stopped, set up our tent (not without a lot of grumbling from yours truly), had a small dinner and went to bed with the sun.  We woke up with the sun, listened for a while and when we were brave enough to move in the early morning cold, we got up.

We did this each night except one, in Tucumcari, NM.  There the campground was on a high plateau overlooking mountains and it was gorgeous.  It was also so windy that we knew a session of putting up a tent would do us in.  So, hubby, being a wise man, opted for a cabin for us.  It was like heaven for me.  Inside, just pulling out our sleeping bags and having something to sit on.  There was a small front porch with a swing and we sat watching the sky and snacking.  It was a piece of heaven for me.

The next night we were in Flagstaff, AZ.  The campground was surrounded by mountains, and it was a lovely place to stop.  Of course, the overnight temperature was in the low 30’s, but we did stay in our tent.  I was a bit leery at first, but we were toasty and warm and it was an adventure.

The adventure paused for a few weeks while we welcomed our Little Miss, born on Halloween.  A little pumpkin at 5 lbs 13 oz..  She had a bunch of black hair and she is sweet.  She was early and arrived three days after we arrived, so we were able to spend some time getting to know her.  She is funny.  She coos but also grunts.  She makes faces and would rival any of the photos of girls with the pouty lips, she has that down already.  She smiles sweetly, yes, mostly from gas, but they are sweet smiles nonetheless.  We stayed for a couple of weeks.  We loved each moment of getting to know her.  Then, with tears (mostly me) we said goodbye and headed home.

On the way home, hubby, again being wise, went to hotels.  We traveled the southern route of Interstate 20.  We had never travelled that way before and saw many wonderful sights.

There will be stories coming from this trip, but, for now, I wanted to get back onto my blog and catch you up.  Thanks for stopping by, I have missed you all.  DAF

Could it be possibly be?

I really dislike warm weather.  I was excited to go to San Diego at first because I was leaving the 90 degree temps that are so common here in South Carolina in September.

I was excited until I realized that San Diego was hot also.

I felt like I couldn’t escape from the heat.  Upon returning to Charleston the temperatures were warm.  Not the 90’s, but high 80’s.  Yesterday I walked out of the house in the morning to walk our dog.  Opening the door, I was hit by warmth.  My immediate reaction was not positive (which fit in with my day yesterday).

Last night we had rain.  There was a bit of thunder with it also.  Hubby and I took our dog for his last walk last night and hubby remarked how much cooler it was.  We always disagree on the temperature, anything lower than 90 is cool to him.  Personally, the colder, the better.

This morning as I left the house for my morning walk, it was cooler!  I was so excited.  Maybe, possibly, summer is over?  After all, it is almost November.  The leaves are falling off some of the trees.  I think they are just done with the heat and have decided to commit suicide and leave the trees without changing any color.  (It’s hot, I’m done, good-bye cruel world!)

So, hopeful that the sun shining in the woods behind our home is a sign that it is now fall and soon the trees will be bare, I write about my favorite of seasons.  Fall, that season that says we survived the heat of summer.  Fall, that season that welcomes in the holidays.  Fall, that season where we can legally eat pumpkin pie and not be stared at for not eating berries.  Fall, that season that allows us to pull out sweaters and jeans and socks that cover the ankle.   Yes, I am excited.

Technically fall arrived a couple of weeks ago.  It says so on the calendars.  Also the stores are filled with Halloween, a bit of Thanksgiving and  Christmas.  The signs have all been here, except for the weather.  My sweatshirts are calling my name.  I hear them from the closet.  Now, if only this weather holds and gets a little colder…  Maybe, just maybe fall has arrived?

Thanks, DAF

Home smells….

As I have written, we are in our childhood hometown.  We have been here three weeks today.  The time here has been like a series of flashbacks in a bad movie…  Wherever I walk, drive, ride or roam, there are memories.  Some of them good ones too.

Today, as I was walking our puppy (yes, he is along for the trip), I went through all the flashbacks that sort of wait for me at each block, and noticed how I recognized the scents of the area.

Our city is famous for oil and petroleum products.  It is, after all, Oil City.  A few miles north is Titusville, where oil was discovered for production  purposes by Col. Edwin L. Drake.   So, an underlying smell in this city is oil, or petroleum.  I don’t think that scent is as strong as it was in my childhood when Pennzoil and Quaker State had refineries going all the time, along with a couple of other refineries, Wolf’s Head and Amalie.  But, still there is the faint smell of oil.

Add to this, a fragrance of the woods, the damp musty wood smell.  In the midst of those two heavy smells, the delicate smell of lilacs waft between.  It may sound confused and weird, but, to me, it is a comforting smell.

Woods surround the houses here.  I look through them and know my way around.  They do not look ominous, they look like home.

As I walked the dog, sniffing and looking, a verse of my favorite poem ran through my mind, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   But I have promises to keep,  And miles to go before I sleep,  And miles to go before I sleep.”  (Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost)

This time has made me realize that I have been shaped by this town.  Things I hold dear were knit within me as I grew up.  As I grew up and travelled, I feel like the Lord set within me certain things that have sealed who I am.  These things are my love of mountains and rivers.  The sound of wind through trees and the rustling of leaves on the trees and on the ground.  The draw of small towns over metropolitan areas and the quiet that comes when you look at the night sky and see lightning bugs blinking in the distance.

I know we won’t return to this town to live again, and I am fine with that, but, this extended time here has shown me that certain things are important to me, wherever I am.

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF

A Memory of My Dad…

I have several memories of my Dad, as we all do.  Some good, some not so great.  There is one memory that stands out to me this day.

I remember one Saturday night going to see the movie 101 Dalmatians which, having just looked it up, was released in 1961.  It must have been around Easter time as I remember wearing the short white coats that we got a few years in a row, along with the flowered headbands that we wore in place of a hat, which was required to be worn when attending mass.

We went to the movie at night and I remember sitting in the balcony area of the theater.  The steps leading up to the balcony were a big sweeping staircase and I always felt grand walking up and down them.

Anyhow, my sisters and I went to the movie with our folks, and then came home and most likely were sent to bed.  I don’t think I slept much that night, and I am certain my parents most likely wanted to put me up for adoption or leave me on the curb to see who would pick me up.  I think that because I remember my Dad coming into the bedroom and getting me ready to go to 5:30 a.m. mass.  It was still dark out and once again I had on my little white coat and headband.

We went to mass and afterward, instead of going straight home, he took me for a drive.  We drove up to the cemetery  where my Mother now rests and he parked the car.  We walked through a field that was roughly mowed and had just a few run down tombstones.  This, he told me was  Potter’s Field, a place where people were buried who didn’t have money or family.  I remember looking at the field with wonder.

We continued walking to the end of the field.  I never knew before this that there was a steep hill on the backside of the cemetery.  This overlooked the river.  The sun was about to rise fully and we stood there, just the two of us watching the sky turn brighter.  We listened to the birds waking up and we saw the flowers that were in bloom in early spring.

I have thought of this many times through the years.  It is just lately that I figured out that I must have been a pain throughout the night with not sleeping.  But, I remember that he was not angry with me, but took time to spend with me.  Most likely, it was my Mother who yelled at him  to do something with me so she could get some sleep and so could my sisters who shared a room with me, but to me, it was a special time with my Dad.

We did not have many moments like this, as life got in the way, but, today on Father’s Day, I choose to remember this and be grateful to the man who raised me as best he knew how.

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF

A Job well Done…

We live in an area surrounded by oak trees and pine trees.  The ice storm a couple of weeks ago brought down several pine branches which were hauled away last week.

This week hubby and I started yard work.  He went and mowed the first of the weeds  at the beginning of the week.  I said weeds, as the grass is still dormant, but the weeds are tenacious and they pop up quickly.  We raked some leftover pine needles and boughs and swept the front of the house gutters and the driveway.  We were pleased at our work.

By Thursday, however, we looked outside once more and realized there was still much to do.  Yesterday we dodged cold rain spurts and started raking the leaves in the back and side yards.  We finished raking late yesterday afternoon.  The yard looked better with several piles of leaves resting along the yard.  We bagged some of the piles and the rest we left for today.

This morning I started raking the piles together while hubby started to burn them.  I know this is controversial, but it is a something that is done here in our area.  The southern California part of me was hesitant at first.  But, soon, our roots started to show.  After all, we are from hearty stock of Pennsylvania and there we burn debris.

So, with hose on the ready we had a small bonfire in our backyard.  The fire mound was never higher than two feet in height and the flames were never high at all.  After three hours we are back inside.  The ash is in the ash can cooling.  The site of the fire is standing in water and mud.  The backyard looks wonderful.  And, hubby and I?  We are a bit tired.  But waiting for part two today when a neighbor is coming over to help remove a fallen tree that has been there since we moved.

Hubby still cannot do much with his shoulder and so it has been an adventure of care and caution for us.  We are a good team in yard work though, and I know that this evening we will crawl into our seats and sit not wanting to move a muscle!

The weather is beautiful today and it feels like spring here.  We are ready for the next season, the yard is clear and we can see the grass waking up and turning green.  Hope you have a touch of spring where you are today.  DAF

On an Adventure…

It seems so strange to not have to write a post today and yet, all day I kept feeling like I was missing something.


This morning we took our little puppy to spend the weekend with two of his friends, Hank and Clark.  He will play and run with them while hubby and I are on an adventure.


Hubby, who is looking at being housebound for several weeks starting this week, wanted to get away.  One last drive before his arm is bound and there will be no more driving, no more shifting gears, no more passing safely.  He will be chair bound.


So, after dropping off our Shugo, we got in the car and headed to the mountains.  It started to be a gorgeous drive until we hit rain and more rain, and traffic and fog.  I was relieved he was doing the driving.  But, now, here we sit, unwinding and enjoying the sunny view out our hotel window.  I can see the leaves on the trees, red and orange and vibrant.


Will take pictures and will share more of our adventure later!  Thanks for stopping by!  DAF

Sunday Observations…. 31 Days of Observing

Today is Sunday.  A busy day with church and cleaning up after church and getting on with your day.  Today it is a fall day.  It is a bit overcast and it feels like fall.  I love days like this.  Neighbors are working in their yards, decorating their porches.  It feels like fall and looks like fall.  Pumpkins are appearing on steps.  Scarecrows are in the yards.  Little ghosts are hanging from trees.  It feels like fall.
Kids are still in their shorts and tee shirts and actually, it is still warm.  But, it feels like fall.  I notice that I am ready for fall.  I am ready for heavier clothes.  Ready for hot cider and pumpkin pies.   I am ready to sit in my warm jammies in front of a fire.  I am ready for fall.
In fact, I have already started to think about where to put my Christmas decorations… but, that is another post.  So, today, it feels like fall.
Thanks for stopping by.  DAF