New China

The pretty new-to-us china set

I would never say that I am as house-proud as Granny Dodie – whose home was always immaculate, scrubbed clean, everything polished to an inch of its life, all bits and bobs put away in a proper place, and whose garden was a marvel – groomed of every stray leaf, the gravel raked and the shrubs trimmed. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, likely Granny Dodie has been brought back as a USMC drill sergeant with particularly stringent housekeeping standards. Me, I never had the time for that degree of Better Homes & Gardens/Martha Stewart perfection. Full-time work and single parenting will do that to you. You couldn’t eat off my kitchen floor, but I could almost guarantee that nothing would bite you on the ankle as you walked through.

However, things did descend perilously close to slum-hood a couple of years ago, inside and out. A very bitter winter and temporarily sheltering a pair of particularly destructive half-grown dogs did for the garden. But slowly, slowly, I began to make it work again, and some of the plants which had gone dormant either recovered or re-seeded. Planting vegetables helped as well. It’s mid-winter here, so the garden is not currently at its best, and all the delicate plants are crammed into the back porch – which is hung with plastic on two sides, so as to make a temporary greenhouse.

As for the inside of the house; the territory of cats and dogs. One of the now-deceased dogs was

Painted and landscaped, with fresh gravel - The Glorious Shed!

Painted and landscaped, with fresh gravel – The Glorious Shed!

insensately fond of piddling on rugs and she was sneaky about it; eventually the rugs were cleaned, rolled up and banished to the garage. Two of the geriatric and now-deceased cats were also very fond of making deposits in unexpected and hard to find places, and making them faster than they could be discovered and cleaned up. Eventually, we despaired of ever banishing the smells of such accidents from Blondie’s barracks-inherited armchair and one of the household sofas – a cheap find anyway, and the last bulk trash day out they went.

Between profits from the Tiny Publishing Bidness, sales of my own books, and the sale of the California land – I could afford to do some serious and long over-due repair and replacement of household stuff. Totally renovating the HVAC system was just the start. Having the shed built out in back provided a storage space for garden and kitchen things, as well as the items needed for participating in the gypsy markets. Over last winter, the curtains in all windows but the sliding glass door were replaced as I could afford them, with wooden blinds, which gave the place a whole new look. Daringly, I replaced the every-day china with an extensive set found at a flea market, giving mealtimes another whole new look. A new dining area table (new to us – a vintage number from my daughter’s favorite thrift shop) helped reclaim that corner. The original table was a pedestal style, and one of the legs loose beyond repair, and the resulting sudden tilt pitched the cats regularly onto the floor, in their own version of the sinking Titanic. Replacing various rush chair seats last month with cowhide was another step towards reclaiming a livable and attractive space – and also one which is a little more pet-proof.

Chair Seat close-upThis month we advanced another big step: getting the love-seat/sleeper sofa, two chairs and a tuffet all reupholstered – in heavy leather-look vinyl, replacing the original fabric – and making them all look as if they are in a set. This is an aesthetic improvement, and offers a higher level of pet-proofing, in that accidents can be readily sponged away. The upholstery shop will have the first piece done by next weekend, and the rest completed two weeks later. Two rugs returned from exile in the garage; so far, so good; the surviving cats don’t seem inclined to make messes anywhere but in the small area around their litter-boxes. The cat-tree has a couple of sisal-wrapped columns which they seem to prefer sharpening their claws upon, so there is hope for the furniture to escape unscathed. So far the cowhide seats have done so. The final element in renewing the house involved accommodating oddments from Mom and Dad’s house; a few pieces in silver and crystal, a framed stained glass panel, and some kitchen things which no one else wanted … so, some things had to be put away, others Goodwilled, and some of them just plain thrown away in the interests of space. But the den and the main room look quite good now – better than they have in a while, if not quite as spic-and-span as Granny Dodie would have had them.


  1. Good morning,
    I too am a S. Calif.- Texas transplant, now living in New Braunfels. I talked with you at our Christmas Market for just a few moments about having you as a guest speaker at our Book Club one day. We would love to include the first book of your trilogy in this years book list and I was hoping that we could ask if you would have a free date to join us. We meet on the first Thursday of each month at a small eatery, just off 35, at 2 pm. We are an interesting mix of ”new comers” and ”first family” ladies, all interested in local authors.
    I hope to hear from you soon. We can work out a date that is convenient, hopefully
    Leslie Ann Dey

    • Certainly, Lesley – glad to do it. NB is just a hop-skip&jump from where I live in San Antonio. My schedule is pretty open, most weeks. What time frame are we talking about?