house love

Diningroom-1 It's been a whirl of gaiety around these parts lately. My mom was here for nearly a week, and just as she left we geared up for some dinners out and dinners in. The dog hair is driving me crazy. Just as I thought we were on a downswing, it's as if the girls have started shedding again. There's no keeping up with it. We had some new-ish friends for dinner on Saturday, and when we have company the girls go into their crates on the sunporch. I mentioned the dogs to Beth, the wife of the couple who came to dinner, and she was stunned to hear we even had dogs. In my head I did a HUGE fist pump in victory over the dog hair. By Sunday we needed to vacuum again. But on Saturday night things looked good.

I am in full-on house love right now. Sort of. There's so much I want to do here in the little gray house. Indoors and out. But this space feels good. Summer vacation is so good for helping me feel on top of things (like the dog hair, and the dusting...). The living room still eludes me. Upholstering may be more trouble than it's worth, but I'm not sure how much longer I can stand to look at our not chic-ly shabby furniture. And remember that long list of things that I mentioned wanting? It includes new dining room chairs too. Still, it feels good in here.

Neel's working on the back patio. I'll post some pictures of his progress here really soon. He has a rhythm where every Saturday morning, first thing, he heads to Lowe's to buy concrete. He pours four pads each weekend, and lets them sit through the week. The following weekend he pops the pads out of their molds (using the broken ones to line a path) and starts all over again. Slowly, slowly a patio is growing.

Since I'm on a France Mayes kick these days (I re-read her books every few years, and summer more than any other time seems to be the time I dive in to ex-pat/house love/culture shock memoir.), I've decided that I want a long, rustic table for the patio. A table for parties (we want to have more parties) and dinners and lingering in the summer evening light. Neel thinks he can make that too. And Callum, bless his heart, has decided that rather than a party at Go-Kart world, or even Great Wolf Lodge, all he wants for his 12th birthday is a neighborhood cookout. I love that about him. He's happiest here, surrounded by his neighborhood family, grown-ups and kids alike. We have a little time to prepare, but the patio (and table?) will need to be ready for that.

So it feels good in here, and the order is part of that. When I was 14, my family traveled to London for our summer vacation. After we came back, I had a cigar-type box in which I kept a few souvenirs. Some British pounds, subway tokens, museum ticket stubs, playbills...that kind of thing. As appealing to me as looking at each individual thing I kept in that box was the satisfying order of the items in the box itself. I like order. I'm just not so good at it.

I've made a commitment to myself to just knuckle down and make the bed every single day. It's not at all hard...just sometimes hard to get around to. It's made such a difference. Like the order of that made bed filters down to the whole house. Neel and I were sitting in the front yard having a chat yesterday afternoon and some friends-of-friends walked by with their daughter. Our house is pretty fetching from the outside (I can say that because I just bought the place, I didn't build it!), and the wife of this couple was so sweet and admiring about it. I suggested that she come in and take a look around (knowing that I'd fought the dog hair and won, just the day before), and it felt really nice just to offer my sweet home up and show it off to this near stranger. I think it was the made bed that made me unafraid to do that. We even went upstairs!

I'm not going say there isn't clutter around. There's a pile of junk by the phone that never goes away. Right now there are placemats drying on the counter in the kitchen hallway. Once when being invited for the first time into the house of a woman I much love and admire, she explained the folded laundry on the dining room table by saying, "We live in our house." I quite like that. It's not a show place here. We live in our house. But I'm gaining order. I'm finding balance. It feels good in here.