10 February 2016

Heights House 7: Planting Trees For Privacy

I'm a little behind on posts on progress at the new house. I have a few posts in the works and need to get a few more photos. A couple of weeks ago The Man worked with a local tree company to solve a few landscaping issues around our property.

One of the issues was the long driveway to our home. When one drove down the driveway there was an opening in the trees that opened right up to our neighbors parked cars in their driveway. It was a really weird focal point for entering our home environment.

There were two trees that had been planted in that spot but they were too small and would've taken years to grow and fill in -- and it looked like they were sickly already. The guys were able to plant three trees in that opening that are much bigger and fit in so perfectly to close off that gaping opening to the neighbors parked cars. The impact is pretty amazing and makes the drive up the driveway feel much homier and inviting to our home instead of facing the neighbors minivan and truck.

The team also planted a small bonsai pine behind our mailbox that filled in the spot nicely and will stay small. The final challenge and one that really has bugged The Man was that the back of the house to our north looked right into our backyard and pool area.

I have to first say a little something about the pool. We looked at so many houses that had pools and didn't want a pool. But we live in the southwest. There are a lot of pools. So we ended up choosing a house despite the pool, not hunting for a house that had a pool. Although I will say it's a perfect little rectangle pool and we already have a nice collection of pool toys and can't wait to use it more next summer. We only had about 3 weeks to use it this past summer before it got too cold. The upkeep is a bit much so far for the little time we've used it.

But our backyard was one of the big selling points for me. It has a wonderful big flagstone patio that I envision will host many family and friend dinners over the years. I cannot wait to get out of this cast and in the spring get out there and hang strings of lights from the trees across the patio.

My goal for this winter was to make a big dining table for that space while it was cold outside. But I don't see myself making furniture this winter. Maybe I'll whip something up later in the spring. Maybe that can be my birthday gift to myself. I'd love to make something from reclaimed wood that will stand the test of time.

(While I'm typing this I'm remembering that our friend has some sort of metal bending machine - wouldn't it be lovely if I commissioned The Man to make me some hairpin legs for a table?! -- my other thought while I'm writing this is that maybe it would be better to make two tables that I could use end to end for a big crowd OR use separately for a buffet table and the other for more intimate settings for a smaller group.) Oh, man! I cannot wait for summer - and to start having all those parties outside that I have been dreaming about.

Anyway let me pull myself back from all my fantasizing and get back to the landscaping. Ha. So privacy was really in the end the number one most important item on our house hunting list. We let quite a few houses go because there was no privacy in the backyard. Some of those houses were quite lovely and it was sad to walk away. But when push came to shove, we both wanted privacy after years of living too close to too many people in urban California - and having zero privacy.

Every time The Man stood at the north end of our pool deck he saw the neighbors' house. So when the team came and planted trees he also closed up that opening with a couple of big trees. Now the backyard has complete privacy from windows of neighbors on all sides. It's quite lovely and I think next summer when we're running around in bathing suits, we'll be quite happy to have complete privacy.

This project really was a labor of love by The Man. He did a lot of planning with the tree man and made sure as they were planting that all objectives were met. We were lucky to have the tree man who has done a lot of work in our neighborhood and knows this house and our neighbors. So he was able to give great advice and at the same time the neighbors were happy to see him rather than bothered by the noise and disruptions. (Yay.) There was a lot of running across the lot to stand at the north end of the pool to look out through the trees to make sure they were positioned just right.

Because our yard is pretty rocky and uneven outside of the part of the property that is walled-in backyard, I haven't had a chance to walk around see everything because of the broken foot. The driveway is uphill and none of my modes of transportation are too great on sloped surfaces. But in a few weeks I can't wait to take a nice walk around the perimeter of the property and see all the changes up close. What I have seen so far has made us all so happy.

08 February 2016

Conscious Kindness In The Family

One of the things I've really been working on is the tone I set within our home. I think this has particularly been on my mind because I am very aware that since I broke my foot, I have been fighting being really ornery A LOT. By nature I'm not very ornery, so I know that feeling has come from feeling crummy, being tired and being a little depressed and sad about this whole event and how difficult it is making my life.

So I've really been fighting it. Rather than wait until I feel awful and am really crabby, I try to recognize and tell people that I am not feeling well and either need them to give me some space or that I need to rest.

I had the most interesting and comical chat with some women friends recently who all agreed that their husbands and kids cannot tell when they are not feeling well. We chalked that up to the fact that  as wives and moms we just keep chugging along. We still need to feed people, get to work, clean up and do so many things that keep people alive and the household moving. We were all a little surprised that we really have to TELL people we aren't feeling well or they will never notice. Why can't they tell?

So I'm trying to learn from that and tell my family when I'm not feeling well and ask them for some time to rest. Interestingly enough, families can survive without us and even get their own meals when necessary - after their initial shocked reactions wear off. I think they too get so used to us going nonstop that at first they aren't sure what they are going to do either. But families can survive on a dinner of toast and fruit or cold cereal. And most are resourceful enough to do better.

So I am trying to take breaks sooner. I am also trying to watch the tone of my voice and my comments. It's easy to get too sassy or say something that is not as kind as it could be. I'm trying not to do that. It's easy to comment on everything that hasn't been done, rather than build on what has been done. I'm trying to compliment small actions all around and not make constant critiques of everything that doesn't happen as I would like it to. (Especially since I know I'm not always right about how everything should be....)

I want our family to love being together and no one likes being in an environment where there is negativity. Small moments, like a late night snack, doing dishes and driving in the car can be special moments if we take the time to interact with consciousness and recognize the value and importance of everyday moments together. This weekend we went to the natural history museum. I am a little tired of dinosaur museums, but I went and tried to be pleasant and make the best of it. So hopefully next time when we go to the art museum, others will be equally pleasant and make the most of it. (Set the example...)

I am saying I love you and giving hugs and little squeezes more and holding hands and rubbing feet. Making more eye contact, giving more smiles and compliments and trying to listen well and offer compassion and understanding are part of it too. I am trying to say better, more loving hellos and goodbyes. These things all sound so simple as I write them but they can be very challenging when days are busy or one is tired or worse not feeling well.

This clearly all affects my ability to find happiness and contentment in life and for my family to do the same. I don't want to forget that powerful lesson I learned last week and let that supreme feeling of contentment I felt be forgotten or fade. So I want to keep it present and do everything I can to make each day more of that. It is fleeting without conscious effort...so I'm trying to help it happen every day.

A couple of notes: the photo above is the view out our bedroom window on a Saturday morning. Every Saturday morning I find myself sleeping in a bit more than normal and waiting for the sun to hit the trees outside. Then I go back to sleep a while longer. Knowing I have to get up and put on my cast and spend another day on crutches, crutch and scooter and being tired from a long week of work and family time, it's tough for me to want to get out of bed. So I linger a bit and enjoy the view, watch the airplane contrails streak across the sky and then eventually I am itching to get up and go out and do something. The sun always encourages me to make a day of it. I love that view, night or day. It definitely brings on those feelings of contentedness.

Secondly, speaking of the darned cast, Saturday was the one-month mark since I broke my foot. I intended to make a party of that day but we ended up out and running around most of the day -- thanks to my knee scooter that I just got a few days ago. We were all wiped out by the time we got home.

I'm not sure I shared that on my two-week check up the doctor found another fracture in my heel area. Since the treatment is the same, it was sort of no matter other than interesting. He also said I might be able to start putting some weight on my foot about six weeks earlier than originally expected and I can't tell you how excited I am about that! (A thousand exclamation points here!)

I'm not sure what is up with me and the first week of January, but you may remember that in 2011, this happened. Last year I moved to ABQ the same week. Two years before that we sent The Man back to Afghanistan the same week. Not sure what to think about facing the post holiday season next year! Yikes.

Thank you for all the lovely comments I got on FB about the contentment post last week. Always appreciate your comments & encouragement. Sending you my warmest wishes!


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