Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Garden plans

I’m not the type to garden. I used to be. I used to have a house full of plants and flowers and even small trees that I faithfully maintained, moved inside/outside to take advantage of seasons. I transplanted, re-potted, fed and watered like it was my job. I even had a vegetable garden for a few years, with experimental sunflowers and 10-foot stalks of sweet corn and rows of carrots. I invested time in the flowering bushes and plants adorning the house.
Then we moved to the farm, someone decided that we needed cats, and everything went to shit.
I’ve not had a house plant or flower since. Because cats. Even an unassuming aloe plant or tiny little succulent in a decorative jar looks like a bathroom to those bastards. Last summer was one of the first years I grew flowers in the front planter of the house…and we’ve been here for what? Ten years?
Here’s the thing: when the cats decide to use a flower pot that was home to your 100+ year old amaryllis flower as a cat box which kills the bulbs (or…the descendants of said bulbs) that your great-great grandmother transported from the Old Country, everything dies. Everything. Including the joy once found in gardening - or even the quiet satisfaction of keeping something green alive.


But who is more of an optimist than a gardener (or a farmer)?


I have a drawing - more of a sketch outline stuck on the fridge with a Mickey Mouse magnet - of what I’m hoping to accomplish in the yard this year. It is an ambitious plan and includes building a fire pit. And moving a tree. It is a small, stunted thing that hasn’t grown much since we’ve moved here; I’m convinced it was planted in a pot or maybe the root ball is still wrapped in burlap. Something has to be stopping that thing from growing, right?
On my list include plants that repel bugs - like lemon grass, chives, citronella grass. Also on the list include things that don’t need to be planted every year, such as lilac and raspberry bushes. And a rock garden where the crab apple tree stump collects weeds every year, despite early and often Roundup-ing. And climbing vines to cover a multitude of sins along the north and west sides of the house.
But I suppose I should consider painting said house, first.

This may be a plan to break into stages…multiple year-long stages. Too bad I only have until next May before Muffin graduates High School.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The plague hath descended

A couple of weeks ago, we drove to my brother’s place in Montana for a few days of skiing and such. Normally, we’d venture to Red Lodge or Big Sky - also in Montana, but more commercial. I’m happy to say that the accommodations were lovely (my sister-in-law is awesome and their house is huge) and the snow conditions were glorious (spring skiing is the only way to go, if you are like me and prefer not to be cold while playing outside in the winter; I know, I’m weird).
The only drawback was that Banana was coming off a hellacious spring cold, complete with sinus issues and a cough that sounded like it should have it’s own diagnosis. We were trapped in the vehicle on the way out with her, a full 12 hours, and again on the way home, another full 12 hours. Muffin and I caught whatever malady Banana brought along and we spent the next week, including Easter weekend, sniffing and coughing and generally feeling like death warmed over.
Just today, I’m starting to get my energy back. Muffin is at school. I hope she isn’t contagious anymore.


Somehow, Chad has managed *not* to catch whatever this is. Yet. I hope and pray he doesn’t catch this as he is terrible at being sick. I hibernate. I self-medicate. I hide. I spend inordinate amounts of time in the tub with lots of hot water and a vat of Vicks VapoRub. He…doesn’t. And he is a terrible patient, demanding home-made soup and medicinal monitoring that should grant me an honorary medical degree.
I’m thinking it may be a step down from pneumonia; however, most everyone in his extended family is dealing with variations of the Alphabet Flu (H1N1, H3N2…hence, the title of this post). And since I was delirious from getting zero sleep, as coughing all night is the only way to spend three or four consecutive nights, I didn’t even consider the chills and sweats were probably fever induced.


I’m sure there is cosmic justification for everything that happens or doesn’t happen, so my suffering through snot and exhaustion for the past week must have something to teach me.

Or not.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Of the sea

Ever wonder why the bulk of human population lives in coastal areas? Me neither. I do wonder - and often - why I live as far from oceans and seas as possible. Probably a combination of luck, chance, and maybe a choice or two, I guess. By the way, I live in a state that boasts the monument that marks the (approximated) Geographical Center of North America.   
I can’t get much further from the sea than that, even if I tried.


The trip to The Bahamas was lovely, if ever always too short. A week is a long time to be away from home and yet not near long enough to be at the beach. The weather was warm-ish…high 70’s to low 80’s. Windy, depending on where you were and what time of day it was.
But oh, the sea. Every cell in my body soaked up the salt in the air and the gloriously warm humidity and I was euphorically happy for seven whole days. No need for a hair dryer. No need for makeup. No need for an alarm clock. No need for socks…or jackets, or mittens or anything but rum, flip-flops, a swim suit and maybe a nice dress to wear to a late dinner. 
Just the sound of crashing surf lowers my blood pressure in a way no pharmaceutical or exercise regimen ever could.
I ate way too much at every meal. Drank even more, including several-too-many rum punch drinks served in a coconut whilst lounging under an umbrella on the beach. I did no ‘on purpose’ exercise, despite access to a full gym and spa, but I walked and walked and walked like it was my damn job. My lands the place we stayed at was ENORMOUS. In fact, on the last full day there, Chad was feeling a little under-the-weather, so I left him to nap in the room and roamed around an area of the resort I hadn’t managed to find before. I put on nearly 8 miles. Eight. Miles. Walking around the resort, looking at stuff, and wandering into the Private Residence area by mistake. I just acted like I belonged there and smiled at everyone. No one kicked me out for breathing the gold and diamond encrusted air.
We took a taxi into Nassau and shopped the straw market. On another day, we and another couple signed up for a snorkeling excursion on a catamaran. We toured a rum distillery and rum cake factory. We played in the resort’s water park. We drank too much at Margaritaville. I tried to buy some Kush, just to see if I could. (I could have, but didn’t. Really.)
It was a Resort in every way - very much catering to American tastes, which I didn’t like much. If I wanted to eat at Johnny Rockets, I’d have stayed stateside. But it was clean, if excessively expensive. Maybe spending $300 on dinner for two is normal for some people, but I thought it was obscene.The staff were welcoming and helpful. I made friends with the doorman, Aaron. He forgot me before the airport shuttle van door closed behind me, but that’s ok.

 Muffin and Smoke nearly murdered me for being away, and despite a few cold shoulders were happy to have me home again.

Monday, January 18, 2016


In the process of purging my closet and various dressers, I learned many things. One interesting lesson was that I no longer own a decent swim suit. The black tank suit I’ve worn for the past few years is faded and, to be blunt, ugly. And it doesn’t fit anymore, regardless. 
Why am I thinking about swim wear in January in the Northland? Funny thing: we are going to the Bahamas at the end of the month for about a week, courtesy of the company from which The Farm buys chemical and seed. I’m looking forward to sand and surf and sunshine and too much food and far too many tropical drinks with little umbrellas for garnish. I foresee sunburn and sugar comas.


For Christmas, Chad bought me the RTIC 30 oz tumbler. He has a Yeti. I don’t see much of a difference, besides the obvious branding. I should have asked him to wait until RTIC came out with the sliding top lid, making it spill-proof, but I’m guessing I can pick that up later.
I like it. Coffee stays hot. Mmm, coffee.


Muffin and I are now workout partners. Or at least until the gym decides to tell me how much all of this is costing me. The plan is to get and keep Muffy in shape during the off season. And this will be how I die. At the gym, whilst muscle bound gym-rats gawk and point as I drown in my own sweat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Purge, purge, purge

I read somewhere that people are choosing a “word” to describe, represent or otherwise mark (denote?) the year 2016. Weird, right?
So. A word. A word, with enough gravitas to hang on all 366 days of 2016 (Leap Year, right?). 
“Meh” comes to mind.
I’m not committing to a word, but so far the word Purge would fit.
I finally got myself motivated enough to go through my closet. It took me the better part of a day to try everything on (1) and make Keep It/Donate It decisions.(2) 
That was exhausting. So exhausting that I only managed to get through the hanging clothes. There was also a shelf that runs the full length of the closet stacked with shoes and sweaters and probably the lost treasure of the Flor do Mar, and that took another day or so to go through.
And then, of course, the Dust Dragon Wrangling commenced.
I have an obscene amount of clothing. 
I HAD an obscene amount of clothing. This time around, I donated five(5) storage bins and a giant bag stuffed full of clothes to a local charity. A full 90% of the items were “office” type outfits (pants, blazers, jackets, blouses, twin sets, etc.) that cost me a fortune when I bought them new (even on sale, which at one time I was pretty good at). I really do hope someone will find uses for some of that stuff.

(1)If/When I lose all the weight I need to lose, nothing in that closet will fit me, save for the bathrobe. Too big is best, when it comes to bathrobes, I say.
(2)Let it be duly noted in the record: I did not purge one shoe. Not one. I have issues, obviously.


The purging continued this week as I finally dove into The Once and Future Office/Guest Room. I’m so glad I’m not the type to do Before/After pictures, because damn, how embarrassing. Not one square inch of that floor was visible, having been stacked with boxes and books and random broken printers and whatever else I didn’t have the energy to deal with for the past year (probably longer than that…I’ve been writing at the kitchen counter for quite a while, now that I think of it). It was so much easier to just push stuff in there and shut the door.
The bed was buried under CPR mannequins, for crying out loud.
And I did. Cry. Out loud.
The big stuff in there is now dealt with and done:  boxes removed, books re-shelved, mannequins re-homed, printers…well, the printers are still in there, but I can now see the floor and successfully pull a chair up to my desk. I cleaned. The spare bed has freshly laundered sheets and blankets.
If a guest (singular…not plural…it is a twin bed, after all) were to wander up to my door and require overnight shelter, I would be able to accommodate without batting an eyelash.
And now I’m just sifting through the detritus in drawers and random boxes: business cards, old newspapers and magazines, receipts… from 2008.
Maybe I’ve been writing at the kitchen counter longer than I thought?


Happy New Year, 2016.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

All that jazz

The last of the gifts arrived via UPS this morning. Note to self: remember to check receipts at some point in the very near future to make sure. Nearly all of the holiday shopping this year was done online. Oh, how I love thee, Sweet Internet Shopping Carts and Free Shipping Gods. Of course, there are a few gifts that I must purchase in person, but those things are few and far between. Pretty sure I can manage it before the 24th.
Just finished the holiday letter (not sure if I’m going to send it to everyone, my humor has not improved with age) and I ordered cards with the family picture on them to send. I should have the cards in time to mail between Christmas and New Years (or shortly after New Years), because anything arriving from me in the mail *before* Christmas would cause spontaneous combustion or heart palpitations or something. I’m just not that organized.
And now that I mention organization: I am actively avoiding cleaning out my closet because, holy crap on a cracker, there isn’t much in there I’m going to keep. Having officially rid myself of 46.5# since June (I’m not done yet) and also having officially No Job Prospects in the Foreseeable Future makes keeping a closet full of suits that don’t fit and office-wear I don’t need not just silly, but a stupid waste. A lot of the pieces were expensive and of superior quality. It is just a shame such things are collecting dust, crammed in the back of a closet.
The dressers have been weeded through, however. I’m going to donate no less than 16 pairs of jeans of various repair, size, and color to my mother to do with as she pleases. I have a feeling she’ll make some kind of quilt out of them, which would be kind of cool. I’m also going to donate no less than 30 t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts and various what-have-you items to the Salvation Army or similar, because I just don’t want or need all that baggage. Feels good to get rid of it. And I know once I get through my closet, I’ll have similar good feelings, but it is just so damn daunting. Easier to keep the doors shut and not even look in there.
So in effort to continue avoiding my closet, this week I’ve cleaned out and rearranged two china cabinets, the spice cupboard, the cupboard that holds most of my coffee cups, travel mugs and water bottles, the bathroom closet and all of the vanity drawers. I’ve moved all the furniture and vacuumed or mopped as required. As previously mentioned, I’ve written the holiday letter and purchased holiday cards. I’ve also sat on the couch and looked at a few magazines. 
*That* is how much I’m dreading going through all that is in my closet. No small task.
In an effort to find some Holiday Spirit - somewhere, anywhere - I’m currently listening to “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The Original Soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi. Now if the weather would cooperate and get below 40 degrees F and possibly even snow again, that would help. Since I don’t have to go anywhere on a daily basis anymore, having snow and ice doesn’t bother me in the slightest. (Ok, I still don’t like winter, but if I can stay home, who cares?) Snow makes my semi-sorta-daily walk with the dog interesting, but I’d rather wear cleats and walk on snow and ice than deal with muddy, slimy gravel roads. 

So there.

Friday, September 18, 2015

And I bother because of course

The longer the list
I have a list of things I need to get done today. It is a very long list and every task is hugely time consuming and overwhelming and my stars and garters, why do I even bother?

The Internet beckons, and I will answer. ’Tis Friday, after all.

Temporary grounding
Muffin is one of those kids that I’ve never worried about much. I mean, she makes good choices and tries her best and works hard and all that, so I’m not really concerned she is going to do something silly or stupid and land in jail or launch her pickup off a bridge. You know? The stuff some parents of kids her age are dealing with…wow. I just don’t have those concerns with her.

Anyway, she decided to be a teenager last weekend. The plan was for her to go to a (local) college volleyball game - actually a tournament - and watch. After that, she wanted to go to the movies with her friends, and I was totally ok with the agenda as she explained it to me. Except she didn’t go to the volleyball games. She went to the mall instead, and then went to the movies. She didn’t tell me her plans changed, and when I asked her about the games, she lied.

Ooo, baby.

I’m ok with plans changing, but the not telling me and then lying about it? That is a line one does not cross with me, especially if you are my offspring.

Anger didn’t factor in. I was hurt and disappointed about the lying. The lying concerns me.

So she is ‘grounded.’ For her, that means she still has her phone and driving privileges, because where we live and how we operate on a daily basis - taking those things away from her would punish ME, not her. What she isn’t allowed to do is anything extra, such as attending football games, movies or anything that is beyond school, volleyball and home. And I decided that it would last about one month. When Homecoming rolls around the last week of September/first week of October, she will have served her time and she will have her “fun” back.

I am obviously The Meanest Mom On The Planet since I’m bent on ruining my child’s life.

Last night on the drive home from a volleyball game (her team won and played great - fun to watch and all that), she was almost yelling, trying to argue her point about knowing what she did was wrong and that because she learned her lesson, she should be able to go to the Corn Maze this weekend with some friends.

Um. Nope. Not gonna happen, Kid.

I had to stop the conversation before *I* started yelling. Unimpressed with my inflexibility, she plugged in her headphones and ignored me for 20 minutes.

And today she sent me a text asking to go to the football game tonight.

Um. Nope. Not gonna happen, Kid.

She is just testing me to see if she can wear down my resolve. Grounding is such a weird punishment, really. But how else would or should a parent deal with something like lying? I dunno. There have to be consequences, I think.

Moar coffee
As someone who typically takes her caffeine ice cold, carbonated and from a can, I’ve recently developed an unhealthy need for HOT COFFEE in the mornings. String together a few super early mornings and you’ll find me leaning so heavily on the MOAR COFFEE, STAT!

As in: Set That IV Caffeine Drip To Wide Open, FTLOG.

I can’t (read: won’t) drink just black coffee, and because of self-imposed diet restrictions, I’ve resorted to lacing it with Premier Protein shakes. Because, of course. All my breakfasts are pre-fab.

Oh, what I would give for a giant Dirty Chai Tea from Caribou Coffee or Starbucks. And a colossal-sized bag of Cheetos.

Echosmith’s Talking Dreams
Beach House’s Depression Cherry

(I know. Still. But I’m really trying to figure out if I like this stuff or if it just lives in the background. Either way…)