Is the Grass Greener?

That Might Depend On Where You’re Standing

Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are the days I am actually fighting my hardest. Author Unknown

It has been an exciting, albeit frustrating, week. Do you ever feel like a honey bee trapped in a bell jar, that some asshole just rolled down the driveway?

If the answer is no, might I suggest you stick with Marie Shivers’s Blog? 

After a spectacular trip to the desert, I quickly flipped the laundry, and we headed to the lake to help my sister and brother-in-law work on their recently purchased lake house, only three minutes from our home in Lake County, not that we timed it or anything.

The Oreglia clan spends a lot of time at Clearlake. With all of our families expanding, the family lake house is bursting at the seams, so Marta and Ken decided to put in an offer on a house in a neighboring community. 

It’s a gorgeous home with plenty of space for family and friends to gather. They put in an offer. It was accepted. The house was empty, so they were able to negotiate a quick close.

But it needs work. And by work, I mean family sweat labor.

Marta and I had already organized a weekend at our house with their dear friends, Andrea and Jeff, months ago, and it happened to coincide with the closing of their lake house. 

I admit, we slipped in a little wine tasting, pickle ball, delicious dinners, morning yoga, thrift store shopping, and rounds of Mexican train in between carting full charcuterie trays to the new house for our evening cocktails. 

It felt celebratory as we anticipated the memories that would soon fill this home, dinners that would linger into the wee hours of the night, and the opportunity to wake up with the rising sun, let alone the waves of young people (by young people I mean our children who range from 22 to 37 years of age) bouncing from house to house in search of cousins and cold beer.

It has been a full week. I’m still fighting a cold but putting up an admirable front. When Andrea and Jeff headed back to Santa Clarita, Marta, Ken, my son Dante, brother-in-law Craig, and his wife Rachel got to work. 

We scrubbed every viable surface in the new house, including the well-used refrigerator and musty cupboards, until our fingers were cracked and raw. While the men taped off and painted entire rooms, we lined the drawers, sewed curtains, and prepped the kitchen for painting. 

After measuring the length and width of the entire house, including the space under the stairs, we puzzled out not only creative furniture configurations but how many beds would fit in the bunk room. There were heated debates about the right shade of white, the perfect type of rug for high-traffic areas, and the appropriate light fixtures for unilluminated spaces. 

Can I just add Marta always wins the debate, so I have no idea why Ken stays in the ring, even the referees are biased.

Every night we crawl back to my house, cook up some animal flesh, and veg on the couch until we can’t keep our eyes open. We’re all sleeping soundly, even with a horrific storm that has been raging for the last three days. The water is at its highest level in years. 

Okay, I’ll admit this to you, their new house is extraordinary. I’m not kidding. 

The views are expansive, the home is beautifully constructed, and every room has its own bathroom! I’m green with envy.

It’s my personal belief that a house can never have too many bathrooms. I remember coming out of my room early one morning during our first year in the lake house. There were no less than seven people standing in line to use the only other bathroom in our cabin. (My brilliant sister suggested we divide the large hall bath into two, which has made all the difference) 

Except when one of the toilets fails like it did this weekend. 

Larry drove all the way to Kelseyville to purchase a new one. Marta and I tagged along, hoping to do a little shopping. What were we thinking? Larry came rampaging into the first antique store we found and dragged us out as if we were delinquent children. 

Patience is a virtue. Just sayin…

Of course, Larry’s back went out when he installed the new toilet, and then, after all that fuss, it would not flush. I know, karma’s a bitch. I admit heated words were exchanged as Larry and I tried to solve the issue while smoldering in our own frustrations. 

I can be as tackless as the next bee in a bell jar, but I’m not explosive or callous, just a few succinct words that would make Madonna blush.

SADLY, Larry had to return to San Jose to have work done on his crown. Is that not just too kismet (thank you, Marta, for finding the perfect work), or what?

Like Precisous Kerme claims, “sometimes the man of your dream should stay in your dreams.” 

Marta, Ken, Dante, Rachel, Craig, and I persevered. Many hands make for light work. And ever so slowly, the dull walls morphed into the perfect shimmering white, the refrigerator gleamed, and the cupboards were lined with whimsical contact paper. Now I’m inspired to go home and redo my own kitchen drawers. If you didn’t catch it from the title, the theme of the blog this week is envy, but instead of acting like Will Smith, maybe I should just water my own damn lawn. 

Overnight, It became our established pattern, work all day, drive back to Kono Tayee, eat, crawl into bed, wake up, caravan to the new house. Repeat. 

I’ve had two conversations with Larry since he left town. Both were depleting. Okay, I’m being kind. They started out bad and ended worse. I realize when we’re angry, we only hear angry words, but maybe if we tried hearing the real message. I’m frustrated. I feel vulnerable and unvalidated, like an out-of-date postage stamp that won’t stick. But let’s not lose sight of the real issue. 

He’s wrong. I’m right. 

The final team standing is Marta, Dante, Ken, and myself. We look a little beat up, the aches are too numerous to name, and we might be running low on ibuprofen but not on spirit. 

The power went out this morning for several hours. It was an all-out scramble to find a cup of coffee. Of course, Marta’s new house still had power. Is that another Kismet? I thought so too. 

We boxed up the coffee pot and headed to Paradise Cove (the name says it all ~ right?) for our morning ritual. I spent most of the day writing after debating the merits of berber versus shag carpet. 

Tonight, the storm rages while the four of us lounge on the sofa as if old dish rags, wondering which American Cypress will be the first to fall. I lit a presto log, and if it’s not warming the room, it’s adding to the ambiance. We’re heating up the soup from yesterday on the stove. Hoping the electricity won’t go out before it’s warm enough to eat. It’s almost eight o’clock at night, but we’re taking turns yawning, which I think is heroic for some reason.  

My husband is bringing his parents back tomorrow so they can see the house and help tame the chaos if that is at all possible or advisable.

It truly takes a village. 

I suppose we all have our part to play in this crazy life. How desperately we try to find our way despite the nauseating twists and turns. It’s never easy to say what needs saying but remain compassionate in the heat of an argument. Occasionally, we’re successful. Most of the time, we behave like children who blow things up and have no idea how to put them back together.

The stars might be out tonight, but even so, they’re obscured by a formation of dense clouds. I think we could shine so much brighter if we didn’t allow minor frustrations to obscure our brilliance. As Shannon Alder says, anger, resentment, and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others ~ it only changes your own.

That’s sort of the perfect quote for this week.

I’m Living in the Gap, staying in my lane, how’s your week going?

I did a podcast, linked here if you want to listen.

Link to Amazon if you want to order Grow Damn It from Jeff.

Or Link to Books Inc. at The Pruneyard.

Also available at Black Rose Writing here.


Leave a Comment

  1. We’re so happy for Ken and Marta and the whole Oreglia family who can all be together at the lake now! They’re also lucky to have you guys who helped getting things cleaned and organized. Such wonderful news – Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debbie, we’re all so excited and grateful, and once my raw fingers heal we’ll be ready to enjoy their new home. Marta has an incredible vision and I’m watching it manifest before my eyes. Now we just need to work on getting you a home up here! Imagine the trouble we can get into with all of us up at the lake! Hugs, C


    1. We are friends but more importantly we are family, and therefore obliged to participate in each others lives. The bonus here is that we actually love each other! Makes the work exhausting but enormously fun. Lots of laughter and sweat going on here. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. IDK if you watch any of the “Real Housewives” series on Bravo, plus we all know you can’t choose your family. Putting those thoughts together, the tagline for one Housewife of New Jersey, who doesn’t get along with her brother and sister-in-law, also RHONJ cast members, is “Blood is thicker than water, and it’s harder to clean!” Sometimes I feel that way about my one and only sibling, my sister, who in many ways still puts her pets above her family when it comes to caring and spending time.

        My stance was somewhat softened recently when she took on the responsibility of caring for me (in HER house) post-surgery. She may at some point have actually used the standard trite phrase but I know one thing more and I told her so. She took better care of me than my ex. (We were still together in 2017 when my right hip was replaced. This year it was my left).


  2. I hope your toilet is fixed, you and Larry have kissed and made up and your drawers are whimsically lined! If not you can maybe move in with your sis 😃.


    1. Not to toot my own horn but I solved the toilet issue by suggesting he add some water to the tank and therefore increase the force of the flush. I might be a toilet savant. Who knew? Larry was just so aggravated he was finding it difficult to decipher my suggestion. So things are flowing along quite nicely, we kissed and made up, and I’m just waiting for Jeff to send my my contact paper for my drawers. Whoot. Hoot. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Paradise cove sounds like a town a Hallmark heroine goes back to and reacquaints herself with her high school boyfriend who bought the town newspaper because he believes local journalism is key to a small towns success but her nemesis is trying to tik tokify the town…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Oreglia’s like a good project and this one is going to take us well into mid year! We’re all very excited that Marta and Ken found a house and such a lovely one indeed! I’ll have to turn Marta onto your blog so she can cook us all a fabulous thank you dinner. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great blog as always. I felt like I was there…. oh wait, I was! Like you said it takes a village and we couldn’t have accomplished a third of what we did without all of your help. We are so looking forward to all the memories ahead up here at the lake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marta but people are going to think I forced you to say that! And let me remind you of your promise to help me line my kitchen drawers with that olive branch contact paper Jeff is sending me! We’re going to have so much damn fun up here! Maybe the next book should be Grow Damn It Lakeside! Love you, hugs, C


  5. There’s nothing quite like family, and pitching in is part of the process. The house sounds amazing to start with and even better for all the work (and love) that you all put into it. What a treat. The summer calls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Diana, we work well together, play hard, and fight fair! That’s family and now we have a great place to gather all summer long. We’re so ecstatic they were able to find a place so close to ours, it’s perfect. And now I’m inspired to work on my own place! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Do you ever feel like a honey bee trapped in a bell jar, that some asshole just rolled down the driveway?” that’s exactly what bad days feel like. Hope the toilet issue was solved!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My body hurts just from reading about all the things y’all have done!!!! Geesh! There is nothing like dependable family members. When we are tired arguments aren’t far behind and one day you’ll laugh about it!
    I want to see this fabulous house 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What fun you will have after they are moved in. I am sure they appreciate all the hard work you all put in, you have more stamina than I ever could. I just hired a painter and now a floor guy, I’m done doing my own work. Post pictures, love to see the inside of this beauty!


    1. It was a fun weekend and I’m with you, Larry and I hire someone for strenuous jobs. Since Marta and Ken are a decade younger than us and they just poured their savings into the house, we took pity on them, and offered our physical assistance. Now I’m trying to find the energy to do my laundry! I’ll post some before and after pics, that a great idea. Hugs, C


  9. Brilliant, Cheryl! I laughed about Maria Shriver’s blog and wasn’t even tempted for one second to go look it up to see if she really has one.

    And that’s because your blog is lined with nuggets of gold. Like “I suppose we all have our part to play in this crazy life. How desperately we try to find our way despite the nauseating twists and turns. It’s never easy to say what needs saying but remain compassionate in the heat of an argument. Occasionally, we’re successful. Most of the time, we behave like children who blow things up and have no idea how to put them back together.”

    Right – and then we read a blog post like this one – and start putting things back together a little more smartly on the next try! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Wynne! Maria writes a weekly post called, “I’ve Been Thinking,” always wise and inspirational but she does not swear, belittle others, or try to be funny. She’s what one might describe as mature. I can only aspire. I so appreciate you digging into my posts and pulling out the nuggets, it strange, usually I start with a nugget, and then I try and bury it for reasons unknown. Also of note, we both wrote about envy this week. Of course mine is about materialism and yours is about time (I’m sort of envious about that), we must be riding the same wave, different ocean. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If we are riding the same wave, different ocean then I’m doing something right! 🙂 And I’m laughing about the envy (good to know we all do it and then switch it up and do it some more) – I’m just going to call it inspiration. 🙂 I love your nuggets, Cheryl!

        Liked by 1 person

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