Making lemonade from lemons

Our first masks – kerchief, coffee filter, and rubber bands!

While the COVID crisis caused worry and extra caution for the past year, not all of it was bad. Our sadness at the suffering of others from the virus and its associated effects gave us the worst times. Because of my husband’s sometimes weakened immune response to illness, we became proactive regarding our safety. But we didn’t suffer because of it. Far from it.

If anything, the time of isolation strengthened our marriage. We enjoyed time together and time alone in our separate parts of our home. Online connections kept us in touch with loved ones, and we figured out a way to visit with my daughter safely three times over the past year. It worked for us, and we never felt deprived. Living in Florida during the winter did make things easier because we could still enjoy our activities outside without worry.

When we realized we’d be spending less money on outside activities and spending more time in our home, inspiration hit. Many projects had been put on hold because of health and time issues over the past five years. With good health, abundant time, and more money, we decided it was time to start home improvements we’d put off for years and finish projects put on hold because of life struggles.

It kept us engaged, gave folks’ work, and raised our living comfort beyond what it cost to complete the projects. Our silver linings.

First, we added a screened room over an unroofed deck outside our living room. I’d wanted this since I bought the house in 2007. Its completion exceeded expectations because it gives us another living space and a view of the lake/pond across the street, which had previously been blocked by a fence.

Deck Before
Finished Screened Porch

Next, we concentrated on the backyard which had been a work in progress for the past six years. We had to replace fencing and repair existing fencing, but it went in fits and starts. This year we finally had the time to do the labor to finish it.

Backyard Before
Backyard After

I tackled projects that had seemed too time consuming on the inside as well. Painting an old brick fireplace that was, frankly, poorly executed originally, scared me. With COVID time on my hands and fears put in perspective, I said, “screw it,” and went to work. It ended up as a four-hour job with spectacular results.

Fireplace Before
Fireplace After

We remodeled the kitchen when we moved back from Pittsburgh in 2016 after the house serving as a rental property for five years. New cabinets, countertops, and appliances updated the 1980-era kitchen. When it was completed, the result seemed lackluster. I’m not a decorator, mind you. I go instinctively and aesthetically with fresh ideas on the back burner. Until this past year when I opened my eyes. I saw a photo of a kitchen with a backsplash. I was blinded by the light. My friend, Amazon, provided the solution. And suddenly, my kitchen remodel was finally complete.

Finally, a kitchen with a splash!

The last project, a butterfly garden to replace a small garden circled by a crumbling brick wall didn’t seem possible in a year where we’d done just about everything. But then with a burst of energy, Robert did it. Using recycled material from our backyard, he built a butterfly garden now filled with milkweed, passion flowers, cone flowers, zinnias, and salvia inviting the caterpillars to begin the work needed to fill our yard with those winged flutter-bys.


We slowed down. We reconnected. We healed. And we improved ourselves and our surroundings. The lemons laid at our feet became lemonade for our comfort and solace. And the butterfly garden brought us closer to our neighbors who often stopped to chat about gardening. My husband was even offered a few jobs to build the same for them. He turned them down with a smile.

I hope you have found your silver linings as well. Please share them here. I’d love to know how the past year treated you. Or more precise, how did you adapt to the year gone?

Published by P. C. Zick

I write. It's as simple and as complicated as that. Storytelling creates our cultural legacy.

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