Sunday, September 30, 2018

Porch Photographs--Finally!

Hello All, because of the help you've given me in your comments, I've been able to take photographs of the porch on my phone, send them to myself in e-mails, and now--I hope!!!!!--insert them in this posting.

When I bought my home in 2009, after moving here from Stillwater, Minnesota, it had patio doors on the back wall of the house--between the living room and the kitchen. Stepping through the doors, I stood on a concrete slab that was 17 feet long x 8 1/2 feet wide. Overhead was a roof supported by three metal columns.

The new screened-in porch was built upon that slab. It now has a screen door, so I can go out into the back yard.

I'm now saving what I can each month so that next year I can plant a shrub garden (evergreen shrubs + flowering shrubs + peonies) in front of and on both sides of the porch, extending to the corners of the house.

That shrub garden will, I hope, situate the porch so that it does not simply "stick out like a sore thumb"!!! Next year, after the planting, I'll post photographs of that.

I planted a shrub garden in the front of the house when I first moved here. Now it is nine years old and all filled in. So I'm hoping that within nine years of next year, the back garden will be equally lovely.

Now here are the photographs! Peace.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

No Porch Photo Today

No photographs today of the screened-in porch. Once again, I’m stymied by technology. In your comments last week, several of you suggested how I might get the photographs from my cell phone to my computer. The process was to begin with my sending a cell-phone e-mail to myself that would include a photo. First, of course, I had to learn how to send an e-mail from my cell phone. Today’s posting explains the problem with that.

I feel like a waterfall plunging into the great lake of technology.

To begin:

I’ve had a cell phone since last Christmas. A friend gave it to me so that I could text her and her children and thus keep in daily touch. In February, my eldest niece taught me how to text. Yes . . . it took me two months to believe that using a cell phone wasn’t beyond my capabilities.

One April day, Sarah—who’s sixteen—sent me a photograph in her text. I could hardly make out what it was showing me. When I texted my problem to her, she taught me, via texting, how to enlarge the photo so that I could see it more easily. That was a step in the right direction.

Thus, by April, which was some three months after receiving this wonderful—but challenging for me—gift, I could send and receive a text and enlarge a photo sent to me within a text. (I’ve so enjoyed texting and receiving photographs from family and friends.)

In August, once the screened-in porch was complete, Sarah—my sixteen-year-old friend and teacher—asked me to text her a photograph of the porch. Panic! She then, once again via a text, taught me two things: where to look on the phone to take a photo and how to send it in the text. It’s a tribute to her teaching ability that I did both successfully. So a couple of more steps in the right direction.

We are now in late September. Last week’s comments suggested I e-mail the phone photographs to myself. Given that suggestion, I knew I had to learn how to e-mail from the phone. Yesterday I worked at that. It took me a half-hour of deliberation and trial and error to activate the e-mail function of the phone.

Finally, I set it up. Five e-mails from friends appeared. I tried to open them on the cell phone and couldn’t. I gave up on that and tried to figure out how to send myself an e-mail. Another half-hour passed. Finally, I sent one and then came to my computer to see if it showed up; it did. So another step forward.

Now here’s the latest glitch: I can’t find on the cell-phone mail application an icon that takes me to photographs. Nor do I see how to attach them to the e-mail I want to send. This morning, I sent a text to my niece and asked if she could come over some time in the near future and teach me how to use the e-mail function of the phone and how to attach a photo.

I’m hoping that next week, I’ll have taken the next step or two in this process of entering the 21st century of cell-phone technology. I so hope that next week you’ll see a porch photo here.

Have a good week. Please know that I am grateful for your friendship. Your comments enlighten my day and shore up my spirits when they flag.


Sunday, September 16, 2018


As I posted last week, my dream porch was a four-season one with an air conditioning unit to allay the hot, humid summers in Missouri + a wall heating unit for the state’s mild winters. When that wasn’t feasible because of cost, I sat at the kitchen table, writing my Morning Pages, working through my letting go of a dream.

After filling pages 1 and 2 with my scribbling, I began page 3—the final page of each Morning Page entry. It was then that clarity came as it so often did. I’d listed the economic facts, I’d explored my feelings, I’d written why I wanted the porch and what it would do for my psyche and for the cats. In other words, I’d presented my “case.”

The third page would be the “closing argument” and the “verdict.”

Then the words came. Suddenly I was able to get out of the tunnel of my vision and see the options beyond. Something occurred to me—something that simply hadn’t been part of my thinking: I could have a screened-in porch!

In your comments last week, a number of you mentioned that I could think of other possibilities; some of you even suggested a screened-in porch. But I tell you now that I’ve always been burdened with the “all-or-nothing” syndrome, just like Will Parker in the musical “Oklahoma,” which Rogers and Hammerstein produced on Broadway in 1943.

My uncle owned the recording, and I listened to it all of one summer as I babysat his and my aunt’s new baby—my cousin Kay. The song just stuck in my mind and became—I now believe—foundational to my approach to life. It may be part of why the convent experience ended with my breakdown. It surely is a part of my obsessive behavior with regard to writing. (I’ll post about that soon.)

The Morning Pages helped me let go of having an “all-or-nothing” dream of a porch. Surely a screened-in porch would cost much less than $21,000 and would be pleasant for three seasons of the year if I bought an oscillating fan.

When I shared this “revelation” with my brother and sister-in-law, they suggested that I ask their neighbor—a contractor for jobs both large and small—if he would build it. When I called Manuel and introduced myself, he agreed to stop by to determine the time needed to build the porch and the cost of materials and labor.

The rest is history. Manuel came, accepted the job, and got busy on it later in July. The cats and I have been enjoying it since then. I’d post a photograph, but I don’t know how to get the photos from my phone to the computer. (That’s something I need to learn. Just one of many aspects of technology that elude me.)

I had the furniture for the porch because of the four-season I had in Minnesota. However, I needed to buy a rug that would be water repellant. I got that from Amazon. One end of the porch faces west and the sun really pours through the screen there, so I bought two bamboo shades. They were on sale at Penney’s. Each shade had been reduced from $60 to $15! So I lucked out there in a big way.

I’m so glad my Morning pages jack-hammered me out of the concrete of thinking only one kind of porch would do. As to economics: the porch cost me 1/7th of what the four-season would have: $3,300 for labor, materials, and accoutrements! I didn’t need to get a loan! Wow!


Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Dream vs. the Reality

Way back in July, I left you in the lurch about that four-season porch I was lusting after. This week and next, I’ll complete the saga.

Having decided I wanted a porch like I’d had in Minnesota, I had an agent from a reputable company look at my patio concrete slab with roof. I also contacted credit unions and banks about fixed-rate equity loans. I learned that the price, after rebates, would be $21,100. I could borrow that amount for 10 years for $226 a month. Those were the facts.

For several hours, I dwelt in Cloud Cuckoo Land, blithely imagining my life on that porch: the writing I’d do there; the cats sleeping there in winter with the wall heater warming their bellies and in summer with the AC cooling their tongues; the evenings reading by the lamp’s light; the peace of sitting and watching the fireflies light up the back yard. Ah. It warmed the cockles of my heart as the Irish say.

Then reality strode into the labyrinth of my mind.

It first came with a shadow of unease that I didn’t recognize until I’d had another cup of tea and gone down into that deep center of myself where I dwell in the Oneness of Peace, Contentment, and Love.

I began to think of coming up with $226 a month on my fixed income. Since leaving the convent fifty years ago, I’ve kept track of my spending. I know how much money I have and where it goes when I spend it. So I knew that a monthly payment of that amount would leave me with only about $25 for emergencies. In other words, I’d have no discretionary funds. I’d be strapped for money for the next 120 months.

Moreover, I’d spend the next ten years of my life worrying about emergencies and what I’d do if something untoward happened. I’d worry about being in debt when I died and my family having to pay off that debt. 

I’d worry about the utility bills going up and my health insurance and prescription premium rising (as they had ever since I retired some 17 years ago). Bottom line: I was going to spend the next ten years worrying about money.

Now none of us know how long we have to live, but as we age, we know the likelihood of death is probably more imminent. So was I going to spend the next 10 years—maybe the last 10 years of my life—worrying about money? Was the four-season porch worth all that worry?

I did then what I’ve done since 1992 when I first encountered the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. That is, I used my “Morning Pages” to help me reconcile my dream of a four-season porch with the reality of its cost. I needed to find the clarity that was welling up in the deep center of myself.

So the next morning, per usual, I wrote my three morning pages in longhand. This takes me about forty-five minutes, and I’ve been doing it for about twenty-five years. Those pages have helped me meet every vicissitude of my life.

Once again, they came to my aid. As I began to write about my feelings, my fears, my dreams, my worries—all those things that were bubbling up within me—I covered pages one and two. By the time I came to page three, I was ready and eager for insight and it came.

So next Sunday, I’ll share with you the final porch chapter. I hope it will content you as much as it contents me.


The photo, from Wikipedia, is of an Asian Emerald Cuckoo.