Focus? What focus? (Or, The Art of Writing in a Construction Zone)

I find myself once again at the end of a month without a completed short story to post. I’m working on it today, and have been for the past several days. It’s a good one, but not quite done. And that’s just going to have to be okay. I’ll have it up on Friday, so be sure to check back.

Why the delay? Well, a few reasons.

The first is that it’s not easy to focus when you’re living around dust and dealing with construction noise. Don’t get me wrong – our contractors are amazing, they work fast, and they do a really good job of cleaning up at the end of the day. But when you’re me, and (controlled) chaos in the house feels like (uncontrolled) chaos in your brain, it’s still just difficult to work around. The good news is that the dining room ceiling is stable and sound…

…and work has started on updating and expanding our master bathroom.

The second is just that life is just busy right now. I’ll share more on that next week, but for now, I’ll just say that there are lots of things, including renovations and construction, vying for my attention at the moment, and they’re all important, and I’m just not balancing them super well. I’ll endeavor to work on that in the future.

And the third? Well, it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m allowing things to distract me, and I’m making excuses. They’re good excuses (see: above), but I need to prioritize my writing. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

So, onward, and by Friday, May’s story will be written and posted and done and dusted. The house, however, will not be dusted. And that’s okay, too. For now, I write.

Tilson (A Poem)

Margaret asked,
“Do you want his letters?”
And my grandmother said no.
My grandmother’s memory
of her brother
never faded.
Year upon year
to her,
he remained crystal clear.
And one day,
his fiancé,
who’d kissed his coffin
when he came home,
asked if she should return the letters
he wrote to her.
“Those belong to you,”
my grandmother answered.
Letters and pictures –
these are the things we hold onto.
But it’s the memories
that keep our loved ones
with us
when they’re gone.
We –
not words or pictures
or gravestones –
we become their legacies.

Found Friday #48: A Look Inside

Work on the ceiling is coming along nicely. Thankfully. And as part of the process to make it structurally sound and safe, the contractors had to put a beam inside one of the dining room walls. This wall is actually part of the original house, and it was so, so cool to see it open.

Seriously, they just don’t make them like this anymore.

The lath and plaster is neat, but what really caught my eye – and you can see it in the side at the right side of the opening – is the timber. Y’all, it’s beautiful, and solid, and only planed down on two sides, so you can see a lot of detail in the wood. It’s also solid as a rock, even after 200 years.

I’ve long said the old section of the house is the easy section. We’ve had no problems. It’s sturdy. Seeing that timber, I definitely understand why.

Well, that was entirely expected…

Work on the ceiling officially started yesterday.

Things always look (at least) a little worse before they look better when it comes to restoration and renovation, so I’m excited to see where we go from here.


As has been the case with almost every piece of work we’ve done in this house, we discovered an interesting and complicated problem.

THERE ARE NO ACTUAL FLOOR JOISTS. Seriously – there are no true, actual floor joists holding up our bathroom floor. The wood that we thought was decorative, and that was not put together in a way that is terribly structurally sound, and that is not at all in good shape…

…is actually the only thing holding up our bathroom floor.

So, that’s fun. And by that I mean: Well, that sucks.

This ceiling project has suddenly become the most important thing that we’re doing in the house. And knowing that, I am especially happy to get it done. And especially, especially happy that the basement bathroom is usable. And especially, especially, especially happy that our contractors found it so early in this process.

They can fix it. I don’t know quite what that will look like, but I know it will be done. And for now, that’s just going to have to be enough.

Some Phone Call; Or, What We All Need to Hear (A Poem)

Can you hear me?
It’s me, that is, you,
calling from the future –
not so distant but who’s counting
as we edge closer to forty –
to tell you:
Drink more water.
And please eat the cake.
Tell people you love them,
and share what you like.
Getting laughed at isn’t so bad.
Remember that time we forgot
that thing? Yeah, that really important thing?
Turns out, it wasn’t so important after all.
Funny how that happens.
I wish I could say
in sentences that make sense and feel complete
that I’m proud of us,
even though we often forget to eat.
(You should probably work on that.)
That we should sing more and worry less.
That it’s okay we can’t ride a bike.
(No, you still haven’t tried to learn.
No, you don’t really care.)
And your hair? Luxurious. Leave it.
(And say thank you for the compliment,
instead of just nodding your head, awkwardly.)
You’re not a mess.
At least, not any more than anyone else.
We’re all just out here,
pretending to know what we’re doing,
even after all these years.
So don’t let fear get in your way, okay?
If I had more time…
Can you…
I’m losing…
…just one…thing

Hit the Ceiling

I knew this day would come, and frankly, it’s overdue, but it makes me a little sad nonetheless.

It’s happening. We’re finally replacing the water-damaged ceiling in our dining room. I’m relieved, because it just isn’t in good shape anymore. But I’m a touch sad about it, too, because I can see that once upon a time, it was really lovely.

That, and the fact that there are some Civil War bullets in it.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a new place for those.  

Maybe I’m just sentimental. I know that many other people wouldn’t be bothered at all by replacing a worn-out ceiling. And I know that it will look better – we’re using boards from the fencing around our property, which is cool and will look very nice. But then, many people also wouldn’t be terribly interesting in living in a 200-year-old house with a pages long laundry list of repairs.

I am, though. This house is so special, and I’m grateful that Graham and I get to be its stewards for a while. I hope that we do the right things. I feel like we are.

Anyway, I’ll post an update when the project’s done. And same for the bathroom, which I know many of you were interested in seeing. It’s nearly there! So, check back. 😊

This house has lots of stories left to tell.  

Three Spring Haiku

Each year I’ve waited
For the little frogs to peep
The first sign of spring

Birdsong all around
Morning dew in the meadow
Breathe a sigh of spring

Last night I saw them
The first of the year’s fireflies
Summer’s on the way

Who’s afraid of the dark?

Not me! I swear! (And you can’t see whether or not I have my fingers crossed.)

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I love a good ghost story. But I confess, I do feel a little disconcerted in the dark. I can’t sleep in a totally dark room. I don’t like walking alone at night, despite living in a very safe (and thankfully, relatively well-lit) village. I love night time, when everything’s quiet and it feels like you’ve got the world to yourself. But I’m just not a big fan of the dark.

Unless we’re talking 90s TV.

90s kids – know where I’m going?

One of my favorite shows growing up was called Are You Afraid of the Dark? It featured a cast of kids who came together around a campfire every week to tell spooky stories. And guys, some of the episodes were genuinely, and still are surprisingly, scary. I loved it. And I’ve been revisiting it lately in my downtime. I still love it, and despite the obvious 90s fashions (bright colors! plaid! baggy jeans!), it actually holds up pretty well! (If you want to check it out, it’s streaming on Paramount+.)

On top of that, watching some of the episodes today, I feel like it explains a lot about the adult I’ve become. I love old houses. I love antiques. I love creepy stories. I love telling them around the fire in my back garden.

I can’t walk into a magic shop – or really any curiosity shop – without hearing (in my head) “That’s Sard-O! No mister. Accent on the DO.” Isn’t that funny? These things we love when we’re children, they never really leave us. And to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever really, completely grown up.

I still love cartoons and kids’ books. I absolutely will look for fairies in the meadow on a foggy morning. I even laugh at fart jokes. (Not always. They have to be good fart jokes, if such a thing exists.) And yes, despite knowing that there’s nothing there that isn’t there in the light, I am still afraid of the dark. It’s okay. Everyone’s afraid of something.

And frankly, I hope I never lose my sense of silliness. I hope I always get a little shiver thinking about what might be lurking behind me in a dark hallway. I hope I continue, all my life, to seek out magic.

So, yeah, I’ve put it out there now: Who’s afraid of the dark? Me. It’s me. Hi. What about you?

Home (A Poem)

I’ve built my house,
on a bed of dreams,
a million little hopeful timbers,
with nails made of joy and grief.
Life takes hold of us that way,
you know –
the sweet made sweeter
by bitter loss,
the loss made better by
the time that came before.
Funny, that I didn’t even realize,
how the building and building
never felt like a chore.
And now, my house moves
with me wherever I go,
but also stands
forever at a crossroads,
a perpetual choice between
this and that
or that or that.
And though it doesn’t matter,
I wonder:
How many lives have I
not chosen?