Friday, June 30, 2006

ugh! this weight thing...

I just don't get it. I've now been swimming six weeks, working my way toward half a mile (I'm not one of those machines that goes from zero to flying in a heartbeat), increasing not just the number of laps I'm doing, but also the intensity of the strokes. I walk at least a mile a day with the dogs, if not farther, am eating smaller portions at meals, reduced snacking to the point of almost not snacking at all, and have increased my water intake. This morning I decided to weigh-in and I've lost only three pounds, and am UP a pound from two weeks ago. I know that I have a slow metabolism, but all of the above is supposed to help. I keep hearing that I have to get exercise. I'm getting exercise! I am at such a loss about what I can do to shed the pounds that have crept on over the last few years, and am feeling so disheartened. Argh!!! I wish I could say I felt better now for venting, but I don't. Regardless, thanks for listening.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

sounds

I'm a little late listing these (others did this weeks ago), but I've sort of been saving them for one of those days when I'm on the run and don't have much time to think about a thoughtful blog entry!

Ten+ sounds that gladden my heart:

~Rain
~Juliet’s yawn
~Baroque music
~Babies when they’re first discovering that they can make expressive sound with inflection
~“you’ve got mail!”
~The gurgle of the coffee pot when it’s finished its brew cycle
~Bagpipes
~A train’s whistle in the distance
~Junior’s ring on the cell phone
~Birds singing
~Bells tolling

Disclaimer: I didn’t take this picture (it was shot by my friend Jayne), or the one of the bells, which I downloaded from google.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

bells

I filled in today as the celebrant at the noon worship service at our diocesan cathedral in Nashville. The chapel in the cathedral reminds me of an ancient place, with stone walls and unadorned arches, and, except for the handful of stained glass windows, minimally decorated. It is a simple, but warm space that seems to embrace you with that simplicity when you are within its confines.

One of things I enjoy about that service is that it is announced by the tolling of the cathedral bells. They chime for a long time (several minutes), and today I got to thinking about bells calling a community to worship. In ancient times, and perhaps in some places still, church bells also called a community to gather for other reasons: to receive news, to make announcements impacting those who resided within earshot (or beyond), or to engage in dialogues or debates about matters necessitating decisions or action. In short, bells called the community together to be just that, a community.

For the most part, we no longer function that way. Rarely do we gather as a whole to function as a community, unless a tragedy or crisis requires such an action or response. We get our news by other, less interactive means, and sometimes we choose not be informed about what is happening in our local governments, schools, or neighborhoods.

During today’s tolling of the bells, I wondered if those who were outside the cathedral would stop to listen, to reflect, or to wonder who might respond to the call of those deep, resonant bongs. I wondered if others lamented the fragmentation of our society that gives us the choice of being strangers. As I rose to begin the service I wondered who might have been within earshot of the tolling that might have been fed by what the few who were gathered inside were starting to do. Part of the grace of prayer is that I didn’t need to know names or see faces to offer blessings on their lives.

It’s true, as well, that I don’t need to know who reads this blog to extend the same. May all who read this be blessed this day. Each time I hear the tolling of the bells, I will remember to include you in my prayers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

let me tell you about this winery...

I will admit right here at the outset that I have a bias. I know the owners and their family, and to some extent that predisposes me to think well of their establishment. I have my criticisms, as well, but over-all I think this is a fabulous place and think more people should know about it. So let me tell you! Chaumette winery (French for rooftops) is in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, about an hour and twenty minutes south of St. Louis in the lovely, rolling hills that are part of the topography of the Mississippi River valley. It began with a harvest of chardonel grapes—a hybrid of chardonnay and seyval—and has expanded its vineyard to include Norton (red) and other varieties. Chaumette’s Estate Chardonel and Estate Norton are fabulous wines, but they have other excellent selections as well. Let’s put it this way—we came home with four different wines and joined the wine club, that’s how good we thought they were (all bias aside!).

The tasting room is in one section of a large, open facility that includes a gift shop and dining area, and three of the surrounding sides of the building include decks for dining al fresco. They also have a banquet room for meetings and receptions, and a chapel just up the hill that can be used for weddings (the chapel seats 80). The chapel, St. Vincent’s of the Vineyard, was moved from its former site at the Thompson Center, the conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri in west St. Louis county. It’s tucked into the edge of the woods and has a spectacular view of a portion of the vineyard and the surrounding countryside.

Chaumette also features fabulous food at the Grapevine Grill, and on Sundays (at least) a jazz ensemble provides music. In addition, of all things for me to share, there is also a very nicely appointed ladies’ room (I imagine that the men’s room is just as tasteful, but I didn’t venture in). They have special events throughout the year, and this past Sunday when we were there (but starting too late for us to partake), they started a vineyard tour with tasting stations throughout the vineyard. Under development is the addition of a “French village” on the premises that will function much like time-share condos. Can’t wait for those to be done so we can stay there!

Okay, enough from me about this, but I just had to tell you about this wonderful place. If you find yourself in St. Louis and can take a day trip, DO IT!!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

we're back!

Good morning! It’s foggy here, a common occurrence on the mountain, but less so “down here” in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee. We’re moving a little slowly after our weekend away, so in a way it’s a nice way to reenter the world.

We had good visits with Kathy’s daughter and her family Friday night in St. Louis, then with family at the reunion on Saturday, and with a subset of closer relations that evening. Ken hadn’t seen many of these folks for more than 20 (30?) years, and he was glad to reestablish contact and get reacquainted. It was good for me to put faces with names, and to see the places he always talks about from his youth. People were very nice and welcoming to me, which I appreciated. Sunday on our way home we stopped at a winery in Ste. Genevieve, MO, owned by friends of mine, and had a spectacular visit there. I had called my friend Caroline (whom you all would know as our long-distance vet!) a few days before to see if by any chance she and her husband could meet us there (Caroline’s uncle is the owner of the winery), and it turned out that they already had plans to be there for a get together with her mom after picking up her stepdaughter from camp! It was a lovely day, not too hot, with a bit of a breeze, and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch outdoors while visiting with everyone. I kept saying to Ken and Caroline, “This is the life!” What could be better than a beautiful day eating wonderful food and very good wine, in a special setting with good friends? I’ll say more about the winery another time, because it deserves its own plug.

Today we’re getting ready for a visit from one of Ken’s cousins on their way from the reunion to a place they have near Pigeon Forge. Not too much to do in that regard, since a lot of our cleaning efforts last week were in anticipation of this visits, but there’s still some tidying up, groceries, laundry, and so on.

First, though, it’s time to get to the pool and then pick up the dogs at the kennel (it was so strange not to have them here to greet us when we returned last night!). I look forward to getting caught up with everyone!

Friday, June 23, 2006

see ya Sunday!

We're off to Missouri this weekend, where we'll have a little time with Kathy's family in St. Louis before heading to a family reunion south of the city. Sunday we're making a stop at winery owned by some friends of mine, and then we're heading for home. With any luck, we'll get back in time for the second installment of PBS' latest run of "Mystery!"

We did lots of running around yesterday to empty the house of accumulated trash, or at least assemble in one place (that would be my office) all those remaining boxes and bags that still need sorting and stashing. At least with each successive effort to tidy up, the number of things to deal with is shrinking in size. One day there will be no more boxes, and everything will have a place, even if it’s a drawer marked “miscellaneous.”

We’re stopping for lunch today in Clarksville to see Junior, then at Ft. Campbell to get my car registered there. We won’t see Junior again before his deployment, so this will be a tough visit for me. I shed a bunch of tears while I had a long chat with the almighty last night while walking the dogs, and though pleas to keep Junior safe are worth voicing, mostly I prayed that God would keep him smart. Smart will do a better job of keeping him alive. How many prayers for safety have been for naught? I worry too much, perhaps, but I’m not ready or willing to lose the family I just gained. He’s too precious to me.

Off to finish packing and head to the pool. Miss me while I’m gone, cuz I sure will miss all of you! Ciao!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

what was I thinking?

When I wrote yesterday's post I knew that I would be visiting with my friend Debi and we would be having a girl's day. Web site? Hah! But the day with Deb was badly needed, wonderful, and we both managed some successful shopping. Not to mention that just up the street from where her beau lives are these beautiful lilies. Neither of us was sure just what they are, but they've got to be related to the cala. Aren't they stunning? Does anyone know what they are? Once I returned home I got busy getting bathrooms cabinets better organized (thanks to some help from Wal-Mart) and emptied another two boxes that had been lingering. It really does feel good to put things in order. Ken also finished closing in the garage, and he is a very happy camper! All that remains is siding for the exterior, and paneling for the interior. The house is already more comfortable.

Today I might get to the web site, but there is more tidying and cleaning to do, and a trip to the recycling center—we leave tomorrow morning for Missouri for a family reunion and a quick visit in St. Louis with Kathy’s family. Busy, busy, as usual, but such is life.

Time to walk! Ciao…

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

lest I speak too soon...

I think I have made a breakthrough of sorts with the website. I scoured the "help" sections yesterday in search of answers to my persistent, simple questions. Lo and behold, Eureka! I happened upon an entire section that details how to do some of the things I have been wanting and needing to do. I spent the afternoon printing off pages and pages of documentation. Today I will begin to wade through it and begin to apply those sections I need. This is so time-consuming, but, assuming that I can accomplish what I need to do, it will be worth it. My goal is to get functionality set up. After that I can tweak and fine-tune the look (though I will be sooooo tempted to try to do both at the same time!).

In the meantime Ken is close to finishing replacing the garage door with a real, insulated wall and window which will enclose the space that is now his office (and utility/storage area). There are some huge advantages to this: no more AC being pumped into a space that simply leaks air; no more hardware and equipment hanging from the ceiling; a finished room that no longer feels like a garage but instead looks like an office; and one more thing knocked off the “to do” list!

One thing at a time, one day at a time, we are moving forward.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

a heavy heart

Things change when you join a family whose members served, or serve, in the military. You pay closer attention to war coverage, pictures, news footage and reports from the field. You worry when your loved one is deployed. You take it a bit personally when our soldiers are killed. When I heard the report several days ago about the soldiers who had been kidnapped in Iraq a knot formed in my stomach. I didn’t have a good feeling about the likely outcome. When I heard reports about the efforts to find and rescue them, I knew that if my stepson was presently deployed he’d have been among those efforts. I prayed that they would have success. This morning I grieved when I learned that our soldiers from Ft. Campbell would come home in a box. Ft. Campbell is our “home post,” the nearest base to us, and the one from which Ken retired. This hits close to home. This feels personal. My heart is heavy and my tears are hot.

In a few weeks my stepson will be deployed again, and he will reenter what I think of as the field of danger. From the moment he departs, I start to count down the days until he returns. One day closer to safety. One day closer to having him within reach.

I fear there is no end to this conflict, to the heartbreak of families and the grief of a nation. My prayers feel so fragile, and yet all I can do is pray.

To those who have been lost, rest in peace. For the rest, may we be granted peace.

Monday, June 19, 2006

monday miscelaney

It was one of those weekends where a sufficient moment to sit and write didn't make itself present. Lots of cleaning up, putting away, sorting, organizing and tossing (not necessarily in that order) consumed much of Saturday, and Sunday never seems to be a day when I am able to settle into much of anything.

Ken cooked shish kebab on Saturday night (see figure 1), basted with a very tasty sauce that we will be enjoying for days. For father’s day I relieved him of culinary responsibility and put in the oven something I picked up at Publix! Not exactly doing the cooking, but I found I couldn’t resist already prepared chicken cordon bleu. It was quite good.

The other event of note over the weekend was the election of a new presiding bishop for the Episcopal Church, USA; the first woman ever to hold that post, Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishop of Nevada (see figure 2). I don’t know a lot about her, but she seems impressive from what I read: speaks five languages, has a Ph. D. in oceanography, is a licensed pilot, and has a passion for and a history of inclusion in her ministry, including a facility for reconciliation. It’s not exactly a surprise that while many cheer this election, there are grumbles as well. She will be consecrated and invested in her new position in November, and it will be interesting to see whether or not she attends the eventual consecration of whomever we manage to elect when we try again (at the end of October). There are clergy in my diocese who don’t approve of the ordination of women, so I’m sure they’re not particularly happy at the moment. Interesting times lie ahead, to be sure.

Off to do my laps!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

a new route

Since I don’t swim on the weekends I like to take a longer route when I walk the dogs, to try to keep up, to some degree, the pace of exercise (yes, it’s true, this is really Anne saying this, not an imposter!). This morning I was up early enough to get out before the sun was too high, and the heat of the day was low. It was a pleasant morning, with a light breeze, so I decided to seize these optimal conditions and extend our route. We detoured down a street I hadn’t yet traveled, around a new block. One of the things I love about the area where we live is that it developed over a period of years, so it has a variety of architecture, and a combination of old, wooded lots and new, converted pasturelands where the lots are open, spacious and “young” in their landscaping. I love seeing what people do with their landscaping.

There was one house that we discovered today that, when I saw it, made me think I’d been transported back to New England. Although the house isn’t “old,” certainly not by New England standards, it is colonial in style, and the lot is wooded and has the feel of longevity to it. It is nicely kept, and the house appears happy.

As we continued our journey of discovery (new scents for the dogs, remember), I was grateful for the change of scenery. New things always have the capacity to open our minds along with our views, and I got to thinking about possibilities. At the moment we face the very real challenges of being newly married, relocated, and working to establish new businesses. The challenges are demanding and stressful, even as they contain the seeds of great things to come. In the face of our reality I am striving not to be overcome by what isn’t, but to hold in my hand, at least periodically, the joy of what is. Those moments don’t erase the difficulties, but they at least offer some grounding to offset those times that feel uncertain, and even frightening. They are touchstones of hope, and glimpses of serenity that I pray will become more frequent as we root ourselves in this life we are making.

This morning I am grateful for an early rising and the opportunity to see new things, feel old connections, and anticipate a future.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

memory and marigolds

I’ve lost friends and family members to death before, but it wasn’t until Kathy died that I realized how much of my own life story went with her. When she died, knowledge of me died, too. It wasn’t the big things—lots of people know the big picture. It was the little details that fill in the nooks and crannies of who I am. Like marigolds. I love the smell of marigolds that remain on my fingers after deadheading them. It’s a tiny detail that happened to come up once when Kathy and I were talking, and I realized then that it was an intimate detail.

When she died, no one else knew about that. I became aware of that loss when I planted marigolds this spring, and deadheaded them for the first time. I have since shared this particular detail with Ken, but it only occurred to me to do so because I was freshly aware that the primary keeper of my memory was gone. It got me thinking about other things that Kathy and I shared, some of which can pass with her, and others of which I may want to entrust with others.

As we age and lose more and more of the people close to us, I am realizing that it is the loss of the person as well as our memory that goes with them that is part of our sadness. I believe that we all long to be known. We have our warts that we’d just as soon not see the light of day, of course, but I believe that, more often than not, we want someone to know us and see us down to our nooks and crannies.

I have now entrusted my love for the smell of marigolds to each of you. You may not remember it in future days, but at least the knowledge has been released to the universe, and I can be content with it being “out there.”

Bless you all, your nooks and crannies, and all the things about you that we know and have yet to discover.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

speaking of splash...

When I started swimming I alternated my attire between two suits, allowing each one sufficient time to dry hanging in the laundry area. I also hung my goggles, cap, and washrag in the same place so they could dry, as well as be easy to find each morning when I packed my bag to go to the pool.

Problem was, damp suits and dripping accessories were hanging next to clean laundry as I hung those items on the same pole. At the same time, I needed a place to stash all of my bathing suits (I seem to have acquired a few over the years…). Look what I found in our collection of items for a yard sale! It is the perfect solution for hanging all the suits, including the damp ones, as well as the other paraphernalia. When I take my towel out of the dryer, I fold it and place if there with my collection, and I'm all set and ready to go the next morning. Voila!

I also want to add a brief clarifier about the previous post. I wasn’t lamenting the frequency of comments (I do, occasionally, lament that, but I’ve pretty much gotten over that syndrome!), just the lack of perceived interest in the blog. I’m not planning to quit, I was just feeling a bit isolated from humanity in general, and some friends in particular. I appreciate very much what was written by those who left comments. I love you too!

Back to work—the website is finally getting attention!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

splash


Some days it seems that I have things to post here multiple times during a day, though I usually limit my posts to one. Other days, I sit here and stare at the screen, wondering what to write. Some of my friends that blog chronicle the events of their day, others reflect with some depth on what is happening in the world, and some do a combination of the above. I suppose at various times we all do all of the above. I started this blog to stay in touch and share pictures from my world, but I think I have come to the point that I don't know why I write any more. This blog doesn't get a lot of traffic, and although new visitors are here everyday, the numbers would indicate that most don't return. My life must be pretty dull, or I'm too guarded to write about what goes on, or something. It doesn't seem to interest very many people, and I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe the last few months have been too intense to allow me to take the time to step back and be reflective, profound, or interesting. Maybe I feel too vulnerable to be open and share. Whatever the cause, I don’t feel good about it.

I have no cause for complaint. A friend may lose her job. Another friend has hit bottom and decided its time to go sober. My sister-in-law has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Life may not be grand in this corner, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.

Well, here’s to bad days. And here’s to better ones.

Monday, June 12, 2006

baaaaaaaaa!

I carry on so much about the goats up on the mountain, y'all might think they are my favorite critter (after dogs, of course), but NO! I'm a sheep girl, through and through. Fell in love with them when I spent a semester in Scotland during college, and they've been part of my life ever since. This ram is among the collection of animals that our neighbor in South Carolina keeps. He looks rather regal, don't you think? Never did catch his name, but I'll try to remember to ask next time I'm there.

Not much happening here to report, but you never know when that might change!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

oooh, check this out!


There are a variety of routes that I take when I walk the dogs. This morning we went around the block that, at one junction, is directly across the street from a pasture. Haven't seen (or smelled) any cows there for a while, but it is still a pasture. This morning we had the treat of mist lying low in that pasture. When I got back from the walk I grabbed the camera and headed back. Time was of the essence, since the sun was coming up, and even in those few minutes from the time of first encounter to arrival with the camera, the mist was already dissipating. Still, it's a lovely vista, isn't it? Just one of the reasons I love where we live.

you call this a budget?

Last night I tuned in to HGTV's "wedding on a budget" episode with the hope that I might find some inspiration and get some ideas for ways to cut expenses on our wedding celebration. What a joke! The couple in question was getting married and holding their reception in their back yard, a focal point of which was a pool. They had $8000 to work with, total (including food, which got $3000 of that total--they didn't mention the bar!). They revamped the yard, moving dirt, building a cabana, bar, benches, platform for over part of the pool, decorations, etc. For starters, most brides out there considering a backyard wedding wouldn't have these particular challenges, so their own plans (and budget) would look radically different. So much for brides getting ideas from THIS show! Then, as they conferred about how they were doing on the budget constraints, it occurred to me that what wasn't factored into any of this was the labor! They spent an entire day (and then some) with the professional crew and 15 volunteers with the bobcat, built four different units, layed a patio, installed lighting, covered benches, etc. They didn't talk about costs related to invitations, clothing, catering help (who was going to clean up all that food created by the professional chef?) or any of those additional details. All I can say is, this is was not as advertised. Bummer. Back to my own devices...

Friday, June 09, 2006

playing with hair

It was time for a haircut, so I scheduled an appointment with someone new for two things: cut said hair, and start playing with ideas for how to wear my hair for the wedding in November. Yes, it's a ways off, and perhaps this task could have waited, but there was a strategy in starting early. What if I need to grow my hair longer for a suitable style?

So, yesterday was "play with hair" day. Sad to say, I forgot to take the camera, but the woman I went to happened to have a disposable, and she said, "we'll just make this yours, and whenever you come, we'll take pictures." Her name is Sloan, and she's wonderful. She coiffed a "do" that I'm not sure I'll use (lots of curls piled onto my head--does that sound like me?), but we have time to try different things, and she has advised me NOT to cut my hair, but to let it grow. She spent time with me, we talked, it was easy to be honest, and she gave me some ideas for things to think about for "on the day." When it came time to pay up I realized I had left my checkbook sitting on the dining table. "No problem," she says, "just mail me a check." I already had her business card with the address.

The check is already written. She'll be getting one of those notes I referred to earlier. Thank you, Sloan! In the meantime, what should I do with my hair?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

notes

I call it synchronicity. My friend Clare recently rediscovered a collection of cards that she has accumulated. Almost simultaneously, while unpacking boxes and trying to settle the chaos of the guest room, I unpacked a stash of stationery and note cards. Greeting cards that had been unearthed had already been relegated to an available storage space, and fortunately, the note sheets and cards that I now encountered fit sufficiently into their appointed space in a drawer of the secretary. There seem to be mountains of them.

Fortunately I have lately rediscovered the joys of note-writing by virtue of tackling (albeit belatedly) the thank you notes that lingered from our wedding. Aha! Renewed interest in writing combined with an abundant supply of stationery can mean but one thing—using them up! I have meant to work on (as in improve) the frequency with which I correspond, so it seems that the solution has been dumped nicely into my lap, or in this case, my drawer. Perhaps if I take a couple of days a week to write just one note, I can brighten at the very least my own day, and perhaps bring a smile to someone else’s as well. I think I’m onto something here.

Keep an eye out, you never know when your mailbox may contain an unexpected piece of mail! (Maria, I know I at least owe you something!)

Monday, June 05, 2006

feeling spoiled

This has been one of the most gorgeous springs I can recall, and when I get up in the morning and see deep blue skies and those long, early morning shadows cast by brilliant sunshine I breathe deep sighs of contentment. What a treat. We DID have some hot and humid days last week, but more than the usual share of gorgeous days has been the norm, and I have loved it. Most of my plants are doing well (although the Mexican heather got scorched in last weeks heat and needs a little r and r), and my hydrangea almost seems to be purring. Now if only it would manage another bloom! In the meantime I enjoy the one she has put forth. And the cool crispness of the morning air-- sounds like an invitation to walk the dogs...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

kiwi time

No, this doesn't mean that the fruit is ripe for consumption, though it may well be! It just so happens that I have an extra clock that didn't really have a home in my new abode. It's a cute little clock, so it occurred to me that I could set it to New Zealand time, and that way I wouldn't constantly be trying to do the math trying to figure out when my kiwi friend, Clare, might be within reach of her computer for a wee chat. So, Clare, this is for you! The clock sits up on a shelf by my desk, and as I type this it's nearing time for you to be getting up and enjoying your day off to celebrate HRH Queen Elizabeth's birthday. Shall we all sing a round to Lilibet? I happen to have a postcard of her handy, and I could prop it up here on the desk to pay her homage. Better yet...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

consider the thumb

and how much we take it for granted! I believe I may have sprained my right thumb, caught, as it were, in the loop of a dog leash when said dog took off out the door with her usual enthusiasm, pulling the leash taut around my thumb! Crunch! It's amazing how limited my activity has become with the onset of pain. Fortunately I am able to type here at the keyboard, but even that has its limits. I am most distressed that other activity (gripping, for instance--we have no idea how often we grip in the course of the day), has had to come almost to a screeching halt, which means that my office, within reach of being cleaned up this afternoon, must now wait for its due reward. Sigh. Just one more thing...

finding normal

A routine is finally beginning to emerge here, though there are no time parameters to settle it exactly. For now, that's okay! Morning coffee, walk the dogs, head to the pool, come back and tackle the daily sudoku in the paper and get on with the day. The sudoku sometimes gets bumped to a point later in the day, but one way or another I find that page in the newspaper! Activity within the day is still pretty much focused on this business of settling in. The biggest challenge is the lack of storage to have a place to put things. Thank goodness we have two huge utility shelves that are in the "utility room" section of the garage. We're trying not to dump everything there, and I'm getting much better at just throwing things away (or recycling, when possible). It really is possible to live with less, and I am even parting with books! The accompanying picture this morning doesn't really have a good "before" to show you, but let's just say that there really wasn't anything in this part of the room before. But this is where we have our "still" time. Coffee, sudoku, happy hour, reading, or just conversation. It's about taking time out, and it certainly helps me feel normal! Disregard the electrical cord across the rug--at the moment it is functional, not decorative!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

before and after, living area, part I

It's feeling like a slow news day here, so how about some "before and after" pics from the house? The living room is fairly spacious, so there are lots of angles from which to shoot pictures. It runs the whole width of the house, and traffic from the bedrooms to the kitchen/dining area bisect that space, so it is effectively two spaces. We have the conventional "living" area, with sofas, coffee table and TV, and what I am calling the "leisure" area, where we sit to read the newspaper, have happy hour, or just enjoy quiet or conversation in front of the fireplace. For this post (and the one immediately following) I'll show one view of the living area (I find blogger difficult when it comes to arranging photos, so we'll have to live with one angle at a time). Hopefully the angles from both before and after are close enough to make the comparison, although the upholstery the previous owners had is very similar to ours.

Before:

After:

before and after, Living area part II

Here's another view of the living area.
Before:
After:
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