In search of a good photograph of our pom, I visited my old blog.  That was a mistake. A grave mistake.

Bemused Muse was a snapshot into my daily life when we reached Ohio.  One part whimsy, a dash of political grumbling, and much humor went into it.  Reading it, for me, is akin to opening a dusty tome to peer into a decade of my past.  It's painful.

Dear readers, for those wondering what happened...

Pembroke - first stage of garden 2006
My father lost his job in 2012. My parents opted to move from Colorado to Ohio to live with us.  I was excited over the prospect!  Better Half and I tore up our lovely home in order to accommodate their belongings.  We emptied our first floor for their furnishings, put our antique cabinets and odd bits in the basement, and cleared out our large upstairs bedroom for their use.  We consolidated our bathroom, cleared out our basement, and prepared to welcome them with open arms.

For those unfamiliar with our home... it was my showpiece.

We called it 'Pembroke Cottage' and took great pride in it.  We decorated for every season, every holiday.  Our kitchen was updated during our time there. Every system ran to perfection - plumbing, electrical, heat and cooling.  I poured my design skills into it and, once it reached my satisfaction, I started on the front and back garden.

My inspiration for the outdoors was Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  Many of our decorations come from Phipps.  Some of them were on display in their exhibits previously.  This was my therapy.  Even in the dead of winter, our front garden continued to bring joy to our neighborhood.  During my darkest times, those days when I was too sick from cancer treatments to even function, I could lift my head to peer out the bedroom window and take solace in my tree canopy.  The front and back were a natural and registered habitat for wildlife, and I loved stepping onto my back deck to capture photographs of interesting insects and animals that took refuge there. I fancied myself rather good at it. I'll let the butterfly photo speak for itself.

That same year, after only six months of staying with us, my mother decided that she had to move.  She cited my dad being unable to go up and down the stairs.

This was fine, of course.  My dad's needs always come first.  And so they set out to find a place and she decided on a run down house in Toronto.  It had stairs.  It needed updates.  It was a nightmare they couldn't afford.

A year passed and, during that time, my father's unemployment ran out.  They began to fall behind.  They continued this downward spiral until they were faced with the prospect of foreclosure.  Would they move back in with us?  No.  My mother's depression lent itself to unwise choices. My father's health was deteriorating as well. And so, with a heavy heart, we opted to move in with them to cover their bills and tend my father's needs.  We thought it would be a united family.

We were wrong.

Our house could not be sold in time.  Better Half and I walked away from it for their sake.  We simply couldn't afford double mortgage payments, double utilities, and so on.  It crushed my soul.  The company handling the business end of the foreclosure fucked me over for a month and then gave me two days to pack and move... this is while recovering from cancer treatments, and while Better Half was enduring pain because he was putting off thoracic surgery while I recovered!... and then they said we failed to sign a paper to receive $2k moving cost coverage from the VA (we think they pocketed it), and then changed the move date twice, thus I could not hire movers in time. 

We lost almost everything. My antiques, my childhood memories, my silver, my office furniture. I simply could NOT move it all on my own, and Better Half's friends couldn't possibly pack it all and move it in a day.  A house fire would have been better - at least I could have said "oh, well, loss is loss" rather than cling to the fact that the company (Harris Realty) benefited from selling all the things we couldn't cart out. That is, when their people weren't stealing it.  Thanks, Harris, for taking all my power tools and jewelry.

But there was hope.  I could start over and slowly turn the Toronto house into another gem like my Cottage.


The house is currently retro geriatric... meaning the only design touches are the foyer where my loveseat and grandmother's breakfront occupy the bulk of space.  Everything else is clutter. Though they have beautiful antiques, it looks shabby due to the surrounds. It can't be made handicap accessible due to its age and construction. Better Half and I are reduced to one room.  That's where we reside because no room can be made for us elsewhere, nor does Better Half's wheelchair (which he uses when wobbly) fit through all the stuff. We "share" the dining and kitchen.  Our papers pile up in the dining room, what's left of our belongings rots away in a storage facility. The yards are still a mess even after all these years because we just can't seem to put money aside when things are falling apart.  Hindsight is 20/20... I've basically stepped back into the environment from my childhood.  I'd forgotten just how difficult it was.

As an avid decorator and gardener... I feel stifled. Better Half and I are just existing. We could always walk away. Put our money towards a new property. Leave them.  But what of my dad?  We can't turn our backs on him when he needs us most.  After all, he never turned his back on his family. And our credit is crap now.  Lovely.

There's also the fact that Better Half is a disabled vet, and I'm still knocked down by the cancer and treatments that destroyed my endocrine system. We aren't healthy enough to rebuild what we had ten years ago.

Well, ain't life a bitch? Ain't it filled with regrets?

Yes. Yes it is. We strive on.

That said, I have not mentally recovered from all this. Not yet.  Going to fetch a picture from my old blog was painful.  I'll go whine to my therapist sometime this week. In the meantime, I might as well make an attempt to start over. For real.  This blog is the genesis of that effort.  The first step.

It's been almost four years.

It's time to emotionally move on. 


  1. I'm astounded and this explains so much. We were traveling 4 years ago through your area and tried to reach you.

    My heart aches for you and rejoices at your determination to start over. My ear is always switched to the on position. ((💟))

    1. It's been an adventure... one I don't want to repeat! It would have been wonderful seeing you both. Well, there's always the future! Better Half's parents live in Ocean Springs, MS. If we ever get a chance to visit them, we'd make a detour to say hello!

      The things that bring me the most joy and comfort went into our new place. One of them is the photograph you sent so long ago. It hangs on the wall of our bedroom, a sweet reminder of the Pacific Ocean's surf. ((💟))

    2. Oh wow. I am genuinely humbled. So happy i was able to do that for you.

      T, our son is in indianapolis now, teaching at Cathedral HS. We definitely have a date in the future. Twelve years, Toni. That's long enough.


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