Category Archives: porch

Flower Lady

So YOU’RE the Flower Lady!

I was browsing a neighbor’s yard sale one street over and up around the block. My daughter had discovered it on a dog walk and took pictures of some items she liked. This piqued my curiosity, and I walked over with my husband.

We introduced ourselves, described where we lived, and that is when her face broke into a delighted smile and she called me the Flower Lady.

Yes, I guess that’s me! I would rather be the Flower Lady than the Porch Lady . . . I think.

Our porch is still a work in progress. A slow, but sure, work in progress.

I made my selection and paid for the items ~ a picture for a daughter’s room, a tray for serving breakfast (or working or watching a movie) in bed, and a pair of baskets to use for under-bench shoe storage.

Heading home with my treasures, I pondered her calling me The Flower Lady. It felt strange to be noticed for something, to be seen, to be named. In this season of figuring out who I am and what I like, flowers must be a thing.

I do like flowers. I try with flowers. I do not feel particularly skilled with flowers, though. It is always a bit hit or miss.

My first experience with a potted flower is embarrassing. I think about it every so often with curiosity and attempted kindness for myself and for what I did not know. I was given a Gerbera Daisy at church on my first Mother’s Day twenty-four years ago. Maybe that is why these caught my eye at Lowes one sunny day.

Mine was a beautiful bright yellow with a large and cheerful bloom. I did not know that flowers could be cut from a plant and the plant would keep putting out new blooms. The original yellow flower shriveled up and died, and I did not know to cut it off of the plant. It just sat there looking sad. It seemd to me like a one-hit-wonder, and I did not know what to do. I just left it alone, and that was the end of my first Gerbera Daisy (and yet, the beginning of my eight children!). It was many years later before I understood why it would be someone’s favorite flower.

This afternoon I spent some time outside cutting flowers. My Shasta Daisies were blooming abundantly. I gathered a vase full of them for the porch table. Stepping back, I captured this view and felt happy.

am Flower Lady. There is no right way to enjoy beauty, no right flower to choose. From the purple irises that bloom on the east side of the porch in the spring, to the multicolored daylilies that line the east side of the house in the summer, to the clearance hanging baskets of petunias and potted sweet potato vines rescued from the back table at Lowes, to the moonflowers that come up in surprising new places each year, my flowers make me smile.

I am glad they also bring joy to others!

Messy Change

A friend recently posted Change is messy as his Facebook status. It quickly became my mantra for this season of transition.

I don’t like change or messy.

A vivid picture of this took place the other evening as I gathered materials to plant the porch planter. It once housed the hibiscus, which has since gone the way of plants who have lived out their time with us. I try not to read too much into its death.

I had an idea in my head of what I would like to try with the pot and began the process of change. Garden gloves on so as not to dirty my hands, I began gingerly scooping soil and piling compost to the side and around the inside edge of the full pot to make room for the new plant.


Oh no, some dirt spilled out onto the porch. I need to find something to scoop the extra soil into. Why can’t I just shove it around in the pot and try to make room for the new plant? I really don’t want to make a mess.

Trying to scoop a deep enough hole for the new plant to fit into the pot properly without spilling any soil out was impossibly frustrating. I didn’t want to make a mess in the midst of potting a plant. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s where I was!

My first attempt at placing the plant revealed the hole to be too shallow. Tempted to just shove it in and make do by heaping soil high around it, I knew that I would regret this decision later. I removed the plant, laid it on its side, and continued to dig deeper.

getting messy

This is taking too long. I really want to just get it done and enjoy the finished product. Time is ticking!

Often that is how it is with change. We have to wait for it to happen. We have to be in the midst of the messiness. We begin to ache.

planting process

Oh, my back! Why does bending and squatting hurt so much more these days?

I stood to stretch and survey the initial result and subsequent mess I had made before beginning the process of sweeping up the remaining soil.

sweeping up the mess

A few days later, the makeshift empty milk jug watering can was replaced by my luvvvah with a new one along with some additional flowers to add to the pot.


Sometimes change is surprising.

flowers in the porch planter

Hello, Beautiful Blooms! I am looking forward to watching you grow and change this summer!


Restoring the Swing

This year’s word, Restore, has proven itself surprising in many ways.

One such way happened on Mother’s Day, but not really. Mother’s Day was the culmination of the restoration. It took awhile to process all of the feelings that swirled inside of me that day. After some time and a little bit of quiet, I am able to write.

Last September there was a post titled Seasonal Ritual where I detailed the return to the basement of the porch swing and my feelings about the whole thing. Not long after, I received a message from a dear friend asking about the swing.

She read the post and, having given birth recently and living in the country where there was a porch without a swing and having a baby who needed lots of movement, wondered if she and her husband could pick up mine to borrow for a season if they returned it painted.

I was more than happy to oblige, and my son kindly catered to a request that once again he bring the swing up from the basement to the porch. Soon after, it was gone. I was glad that it was being used and thought no more about it.

Recently, while catching up, my friend noted that her family was moving and that they would no longer need the swing. Sometime it would be returned to my porch. I assured her there was no rush and, again, thought no more about it.

This is what made for quite a surprise when Mother’s Day afternoon found me returning home from planting the planter to finding a painted swing sitting on the porch. There was a thank you note with the swing and the following comment on the blog:

We dropped off your porch swing this afternoon (this is me letting you know, so that in case somehow it isn’t there, we can sort it out!). I noticed the reno, but I also noticed the chair by the door, the beautiful house number plaque, the lantern, and all the pretty flowers growing around the house. I had been having a “wait oh no what if this is the wrong house” moment, until I saw those things–and then I thought, “Nope, this is Julie’s house.” Because of all the beauty in the midst of the mess. Because of all the ways I can see that you intentionally took time to create loveliness, even though it’s not all perfect. Keep up the good work, friend! 🙂 Thanks again for the swing; it provided this new and growing momma with many breathers.

Tears began to flow which morphed into sobs as I read her words affirming all that I was feeling insecure about with regards to my house and all that is unfinished and messy. The fact that the swing returned to me on Mother’s Day was also significant, and my heart opened to the magnitude of that gift.

The following weekend, my luvvah made a trip to Lowes for supplies and hung the swing for me. I love it.

porch swing

So do the kids.

porch swing

And things are still not perfect on the porch.

Roo on swing

But there is beauty.

Seasonal Ritual

It happened again. Though not officially fall for another week and a half, a seasonal ritual took place today. Since my teenage son was around for a rare Saturday moment, the timing was perfect.

The porch swing was carried from the kitchen set back down to the basement.

Didn’t I just carry this up from the basement? My obliging son asks.

It’s a seasonal ritual, I reply. The carrying up of the swing in the spring in hope that THIS will be the year that I sand, repaint, and hang it. The dragging on of summer. The realization that maybe it will be NEXT year’s tree of life moment. The return to the basement.

The swing was found at the Belmont Yard Sale many a year ago by my dear sis-in-law, who picked it up for me.

If you see a porch swing, let me know, I told her.

It hung for a time on the old porch, always with the intention that one day I would repaint and rehang it.

There was the porch project that is still a work in progress as we save up money to finish it.

Oh! You live in that house on the corner that is going through the remodel.

Yes, we do. The twelve-year remodel.

There was the idea that it would be nice to have a swing hanging.

There is another season gone. Another desire delayed for a spell. There is only so much time. So much space. So much money. So much energy.

So I have my son return the swing to the basement after toying with the idea of putting it out on the curb. We almost got money for it on Craig’s List one year. Almost.

Maybe next year will be the year. For now, I just need to stick with my word and continue the seasonal ritual.

Flowers and Showers

May arrived chilly, rainy, wet. I woke to the sound of rain drumming down on the roof and pattering on the windows. Pulling on my ain’t gonna rain no more boots, I prepared for the day.

May Day.

My luvvvah had given me some money to buy hanging baskets for the porch, and I was eager to pick them up after school. They caught my eye yesterday, and when I mentioned it, he wanted to get them right away.

It’s amazing the little things that bring such joy.

sunlight on the porch

Sunlight streaming across the porch after a late-day shower is one of those things.


Hanging flower baskets in a row is another.


And the imperfect view from the corner also brings joy.

Yes, I realize the old oil tank is still there and exposed. There are piles of stone and brick underneath the porch from the project last summer. There is only one white pillar installed. The wood needs another coat of stain.

But the baskets are hanging and beauty is there, and I will choose to enjoy the flowers after the showers.

Welcome, May!


It’s a welcome sight as I return home, candles aglow.


It doesn’t matter where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing, this tells me, You’re home. You are anticipated. You were missed. Time to unwind.


As I stop and transition from out there to back here, I allow my heart to fill with the warmth of the candles, moving towards the warmth within my home.

It hasn’t always been this way, and I am grateful that now it is.

I’m grateful that my heart can finally be aglow. Can finally feel.

As I return.

Love Grows Here

It’s painted on the house number sign, made one date night years ago. I chose the house number sign, my luvvvah chose the butter dish.

Right now it’s propped on a chair outside of the side entrance due to the porch project this summer. The house number. The butter dish is broken in a drawer.

fall glory

That $3 chair from Gift and Thrift changes throughout the seasons. Right now, it embraces fall glory.

Here’s how it welcomed Spring.


Last year’s fall look is below. See the naked grapevine wreath? This year I dressed it up by stuffing random fake leaves and seed pods into it. Read all about it here. Sorry. There’s not a tutorial.


I’m trying to figure the point of this post other than to remind myself and others that change happens and can be good. I struggle with change.

Imagine that!

Working with what you have is fulfilling. Intentionally seeking out the broken and discarded to create beauty is meaningful. Trusting your instincts is freeing. Being content with what you have is priceless.

For me it’s a struggle.

All of the above.

I will continue the battle and fight forward to win.

I will continue to choose to cultivate love.

My Restful Porch

This morning Steve and I sat on the porch drinking coffee and eating Honey Nut Cheerios. There were a few moments of peace before a minivan passed.

Was that (insert name of band parent here)? Is there band today? Is our son awake?

Peace interruptus ensued as Steve ran inside and upstairs to wake teenage boy. A friend who drives pulled up, and we waved him along.

We’ll drive him in. He just woke up. Thanks!

Risky move there on our part. That usually means said teenager will come running out of the house, fully ready to leave, fully annoyed with us for taking matters into our own hands and cramping his style.

It worked. This time. Small graces.

We sat together a few minutes longer, waiting for our boy to be ready. A neighbor walked by with her dog.

I’ve been meaning to tell you how nice the porch looks! So relaxing and restful.

In that instant, I tried to view through those eyes, because, honestly, life has been neither relaxing nor restful, lately. Writing is my outlet, and you see how much of that has been happening!

Seasons are changing again.

Returning to the present, I realized that for a few more minutes, my luvvah and I could drink coffee and eat cereal before the rest of the day took over. That moment was both relaxing and restful, and I chose to embrace it.

Embrace. I remember that word!


Sometimes it’s difficult to see in the gradual, day-to-dayness of life.


Then you get a chance to glimpse where you’ve been and compare it with where you are.


And you realize it’s better. Still slow. Still in process. Still far to go. But better than it was.

And you are grateful. I am grateful. 

We finally got that window of sun to finish the staining, and phase one of the porch project is complete. For now.

Recovering, Rebuilding, Restoring

After all of the tearing down and exposing of what was underneath our old porch floor and removing the debris, it was time to recover, rebuild, and restore.

This is what it’s like after you experience the excruciating tearing down of your heart, or body, or soul. Rock bottom hits, and there is nowhere to go but up. Everything feels broken and unusable, and then help comes and recovery begins.

New boards were brought in to replace the old, rotting ones.

Like new thoughts, ideas, medicine brought in to replace the old diseased ones and add strength to the newly bolstered framework, these new boards covered what was underneath with integrity.

new wood

The planks were expertly placed, time taken to make sure the work was done correctly and well. The corners were painstakingly measured and matched, creating a lovely, finished look.

Time. It takes time to do anything correctly and well, and heart work is no exception. When you choose (or have no choice) to engage the healing, it doesn’t happen overnight. The process takes time. It might even take extra time to make up for the season of denial about whatever it is you were unwilling/unable to face


The extra time spent made the work even more beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

If you look closely at the picture below, there is a little piece of the corner waiting to be finished. Sometimes within the waiting, there is waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. And measuring and cutting and throwing away.

turning a corner

After the floorboards were placed and the surface rebuilt, it was time to stain and seal the wood, restoring the look of a finished porch. This part of the job could be done ourselves, and so on a particularly sunny afternoon, Steve began.

After working with experts who know how to handle the major structural overhaul of a heart, body, or soul (therapists, doctors, ministers), finishing touches can be returned to be handled alone or in community with family and friends. With the proper tools and support in place, this isn’t just glossing over a problem. It is actively participating in the constructive and reconstructive process.


Areas were taped off so as not to get stain slopped on them, and little helpers emerged to help.


Half of the porch was finished and allowed to dry for the required 24 hours before replacing the furniture.

porch sitting

Then it rained. A lot.

It rained so much, that there was a delay in finishing the other side of the porch. That half remained taped off for days. Would this project ever be finished?


Sometimes in the middle of your sincere work and best efforts, the rain comes. And comes. And doesn’t stop coming long enough to give you a 48 hour window in which to work. When that happens, all you can do is sit in the place of progress and hold onto hope that the work that has been started WILL be completed.


It takes time to recover, rebuild, and restore.