Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Misplaced anger

Club volleyball season is upon us and thus goes the weekends in the spring. Muffin has practice a couple of times during the week, and man-o-live, I really appreciate how much easier my life is now that she has a license to drive and a vehicle with which to do so. Of course, I now get to worry about her eating at Budget Burger before practice instead of going over to her sister’s house or her grandparents house for something to eat that does NOT come from a greasy spoon.

But the weekends. Oy. Driving hither and yon. Spending an entire Sunday watching volleyball match after volleyball match - from 7:30 am to whenever they finish tournament play (after what is probably hours and hours of pool play) - gets long. And exhausting - and I’m not the one playing.

For whatever reason the scheduling gods have graced our team with a weekend off this weekend. I plan to spend Sunday with my feet planted firmly on the kick-out footrest on my recliner.


I finally had it with all the plastic containers clogging up my cupboards and random lids for said containers stuffed into various drawers and cabinets in my kitchen. Muffin and I went through them all, pitched the ones that were cracked or missing lids or were just random Cool Whip containers (Why? Why do I keep such things? AH AXE YE?), sorted all of the containers and lids purloined from my mother-in-law (and gave them all back to her). Then I ordered Pyrex storage containers complete with matching lids.

No. More. Random. Plastic.

 It felt awesome to do that - to purge and then to replace with something of value and function. I like finding containers for leftovers now. Unbelievable, I know.

Next is the spice cabinet. Maybe tomorrow or Friday.

Hey - I never claimed to be an overachiever. At least, not that I recall.


The oldest child is going to walk the stage for college graduation in May. Granted, she officially finished her degree in December of ’14, but you gotta know that walking the stage is the only way to commemorate such an accomplishment. That and a party. So we sat down with some fancy-ish stationery and invited a few family members and some friends over to her house in town to celebrate.

My mom is ordering cake. I’ll throw some hors d’oeuvres together and call it a win.

I’m looking forward to it. Very little fuss. Even less muss. The best kind of party to throw.

Funny to think that she will have graduated twice before Muffin manages it once. Such is the sitch when siblings are spaced that far apart.


This morning, I tried on a bunch of clothes in my closet. Specifically, dresses and skirts that have not seen the light of day for about six or seven years. Some fit. Some didn’t. Some really didn’t. In fact, I gave myself that claustrophobic my-god-I’m-going-to-have-to-rip-this-off-my-body panic feeling more than once, trying to pull a wow-that-is-way-too-tight-sheath dress back over my head.

I have more work to do. Not that one can tell I’ve done any work at all. So I walk. And I yoga. And I drink water (and occasionally sneak in a Diet Coke, because come on). And I grill instead of fry. Bake instead of … I dunno.

I’m not seeing or even feeling any improvement at all. Unless you consider my achy, tired, and crabby self an improvement over my previously uncomfortable, exhausted, and ornery self.


Playlist: paused

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lists on lists

Analysis paralysis

A cat is sitting on my “book of all things” so I will not access my to do list until he moves. This could take a while.


The heck?

My “book of all things” is a black and white graph composition book. I saw a “Bullet Journal” tutorial and liked the concept. I’ve been using the system for about a year and a half. I find it very comforting to know everything is in one place. Things like recipes, crochet patterns, to do lists, passwords, shopping lists, scraps of writing or ideas for writing, doodles, meeting notes, events for every month, checklists for motivation, quotes I like, lists of books I should read - - anything and everything can be written/taped/attached/tucked into the pages and then easily referenced in an index set aside in the beginning of the book. I’ve even started color coding and tabbing the thing with sticky notes to make flipping through the pages easier.

I find having everything in once place is a bit disconcerting, too, however; after leaving my previous book on a counter overnight, a cat peed on it.

Yes, the cats are assholes.

And Yes, the Cleaning Of All The Things is a never ending activity in my house.


I got nothing.

The oldest child came out to spend part of the day with the family on Sunday. We also had the lovely task of getting everything arranged for her student loan payments, starting in April. I don’t remember things being so damn complicated (multiple usernames, passwords, security questions, security pictures, and on and on and on, and for the love of anything holy yes it really is an authorized person on this end of the fucking website).

The day a bank starts using facial recognition software to authorize access to an account is the day I will back away slowly from the internet and begin my life off the grid.

Maybe. I like me some internets.


(Random bits of detritus from recent days gone by:)


I have lists upon lists in my head of things I need to do including various projects that involve cleaning out closets full of clothing I’ve not worn since before my second child was born, planning a graduation celebration, paying bills, applying for various jobs in the area, and maybe running a vacuum cleaner around the baseboards. But it is raining or snowing or something uncomfortably cold outside, and that just makes me want to start a fire (by clicking the remote - heh) and spend the rest of the day cozied up in my chair working on something with yarn.

But I didn’t do any of that.

Instead, I made pork chops and rice in the slow cooker, and in another slow cooker is bread pudding with Dulce de Leche. (Winter still has a vice grip on my recipe book *and* the Northland, it would appear.)



I poked my head into the broom closet for whatever reason the other day and noticed a huge stash of plastic grocery bags stuffed into the back corner.

And thus a project was born.

I found directions for making Plarn (plastic yarn). File that under “Internet wormhole” because wow. Plarn construction involves a whole damn bunch of folding and cutting plastic grocery bags from Stuff-Mart. I have broken blisters on my fingers from cutting plastic bags into strips.

You gotta know that I take crochet a little too seriously when my hands bleed for the craft.

Once I have everything cut, then I loop the strips together to form a long rope and roll it up like yarn. It isn’t difficult, but it is tedious. And is taking far longer than I expected.

My plan is to make “beach bags” or **GASP** “grocery bags” that can be used over and over. The great thing about Plarn is that the beach/grocery bag can be thrown in the washer (with something like towels) and hung to dry. Recycle the recycling.

Anyway. That is my most recent crochet project.


Playlist: It is a compilation kind of day

A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection (Alison Krauss and various artists)

Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash (various artists)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

And still

I am still a flurry of crumpled Puffs Plus Lotion and ChapStick and Lycall and borrowed (XXL) sweaters and oversized slippers and heating pads and hand sanitizer and decontaminating/washing All The Things.

Gawdamn. I hate the tail end of colds. You know, the kind of Just Sorta Sick that hangs around after Officially Sick exits stage left? Just Sorta Sick makes you sneeze for no apparent reason. Cough unexpectedly while trying to have a phone conversation. Hovers around the top of your head, threatening headache but then dumps a metric shit-ton of snot into just your left sinus. Then walks away.

Just Sorta Sick is an asshole.

It has been a week. A week. And I’m still not 100%.


Smoke has officially forgiven me for the trip to the vet the other day. My bank account, on the other hand, is all kinds of pissed off. It wasn’t terribly expensive. In fact, I was expecting much worse. I just wasn’t prepared to deal with an additional expense right now. Which begs improvement of my financial planning skills, such as they are.


I need a job. Or a hobby that makes money.


Playlist: Classical Chill station on iTunes

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not gonna happen

On Sunday night, I was happily sitting in my chair, working through a particularly difficult spot in a crochet pattern, when the oldest of the five cats currently on the homestead horked up his supper on the dog’s bed, looked at me as if to say What? and sauntered away. Groaning, I set aside my work knowing I’d have to start over since I’d lost my place in the pattern, and went in search of paper towels. Damn cats.

I was thinking about how I’d have to get the foam sponge out of the liner on the dog’s bed so I could wash it and what a pain in the ass all of that is when I crouched down, paper towels in hand and got eye to eye, as it were, with the mess. And. It. Fucking. Moved.

I had to get Chad to clean it up because Christ on a Crutch there was no way I was getting within 20 feet of that…that…worm? It was long, white, flat, wriggling and about 10 steps beyond a line I’ve drawn regarding Disgusting Animal Scenarios I will not cross including things like blood-swollen woodticks attached to dog necks and half eaten headless birds brought as offering to my back porch door.

We’ve had cats on the farm since we moved out here and I do very little to maintain them except offer food and occasional shelter when the temperature threatens life and limb. I like when LT sleeps on my feet at night and I like how Olive occasionally attacks my boots while I try to write while sitting at the kitchen counter. I like cats, occasionally. Much the same, I’m sure, as how they feel about me. Except I do not barf up alien creatures and then casually walk away expecting the cats to clean it up.

So that incident prompted the adventure Smoke and I had yesterday.

After consulting Dr. Google first thing in the morning, I confirmed my research with our Veterinarian: worms. Probably tape. Medicine required - probably for all.

Ok. Fine.

And since I had her on the phone (and had to make a trip to town to pick up the meds anyway), I managed to snatch up a 4:20 (heh) appointment to get Smoke’s vaccinations updated. How efficient I can be! Smoke likes going places with me and when he sees his leash he’ll be all kinds of excited to go to town.

And he was.

Until I opened the door of the Vet Clinic. He got one whiff and put the brakes on. Hard.

If you’ve ever tried to wrangle a dog who is 100-plus-pounds of muscle and claw, it isn’t a simple task even when he is happy to comply. So make it even more complicated by scaring him out of his mind, adding some ice and snow to the parking lot and sidewalk, and trying to get him to go to the same location where he left his testicles.

It took three of us. One to hold open the door. One to pull on the leash. And me. I had the lovely job of hunching over him, lifting up his back legs, and pushing him into the Clinic, Smoke’s front legs still in full lock down, braking for all he was worth. It was a 10 minute battle of desperation and anguish. And I’m sure Smoke wasn’t happy either. Of course, this is on one of the busier streets in town.

Good times.

I think it took longer to get him into the Clinic than it did for the Vet to get him his shots and back to the rig. No need for any more trauma than had already been.

I drove home, each of us suffering our own versions of PTSD in silence.

Smoke finally acknowledged my existence again when I started making noises about going for a walk this morning.

That deworming medicine had better effing work.

Playlist: paused.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Found it

Last night I was bouncing around putting groceries away, getting laundry going again, putting animals in or out based on current demands, and figuring out supper when a brick fell out of the sky and landed on my face.

That is the best way I can describe it. I was fine. Totally fine. Busy and engaged, fully functional and coherent. Then suddenly not. My eyes started to water. My sinuses filled up with goo. My throat felt like I’d run it through a paper shredder. My ears crackled and snapped every time I tried just to swallow my own spit….(which isn’t much of anything considering the Sudden Onset Mouth Breathing required in order to maintain minimal brain/organ function, such as it is.)

I sat down, put my feet up and didn’t move from that spot until I dragged my sorry ass up to bed. Groceries be damned. Laundry can wait. Animals? I’m not the only person living in this domicile. And supper? That, my dear friends, is why I keep a freezer fully stocked with frozen pizzas. Co-habitants had to fend for themselves. I was informed that no one starved.

Despite the fact that I did take the dog out for a walk this morning - a much abbreviated walk because of the brick currently lodged in my face and because it is bloody effing cold outside - I’ve not managed to do more than throw supper in the slow cooker and stare at my laptop screen.

I’m on Alka-Seltzer Cold and Puffs Plus Lotion. I’m also currently in search of my ChapStick and heating pad. I doubt I’ll find either, since they are not located within arm’s reach of this chair.


Playlist: Paused

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I finished the second of two ‘crib sized’ crochet baby blankets last night. I think they turned out ok.

2015-01-29 Crochet Baby blankets

I don’t remember the names of the stitches. I modified the finished sizes from some notes I scribbled on a random scrap of paper stuffed in an oversized envelope where I keep most of the patterns and descriptions of crochet projects. I’ve considered selling crochet blankets, hats, mittens, various baby things on Etsy or whatever, but I’m not good at “on demand” production and god forbid someone actually ordered things from me. I’d have no idea what to charge or how to go about it. So, I reserve such things for special gifts and projects that challenge me. Usually, I just go to the craft section of stores and buy yarn based on what I like, how the yarn feels in my hands, the colors, etc., and then wing it. Modern manufacturing practices, standard sizes, mass production, or consistency of any kind never apply.

Next on the crochet list of projects include boot cuffs and fingerless gloves. I made a crochet hat that I wear when I take the dog walking.

2015-01-29 Crochet hat

I like it and since I have no intention of selling the thing or even giving it away, I guess that is all that really matters.


Yesterday, I went with Chad to town so as to do some phone swapping. We spent most of the day in town and the better part of three hours at the AT&T store. Good thing I like the kid who manages our account. He is funny, smart, honest, sarcastic, self-depreciating, a golf fanatic, and also engaged to marry his long time girlfriend this summer. Never a dull moment.

I am now getting my “new to me” phone set up. I usually take Chad’s hand-me-downs. Funny how I always manage to forget what a hassle all the set up is. Passwords. Linking apps. Ringtones. Notifications. Alarm settings. Pairing with my Fitbit. And my vehicle. And on and on and on. Good grief. Electronics are demanding.


Today is cold, windy and snowing. I’m ok with the cold part. (Still January in the Northland, so meh.) And even the snowing part. (The fields could use some cover. A fresh coat of white can be lovely at a distance.) But the windy part? No thanks. Smoke and I stayed in this morning.

He isn’t happy with me and shows his disappointment by pacing, sitting by the front door, and sighing a lot.

He has passive-aggressive down to an art.



Sons of Anarchy: North Country - EP
This Life (Theme from “Sons of Anarchy”) - Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers
Slip Kid - Anvil & Franky Perez
John the Revelator - Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers
Forever Young - Audra Mae & The Forest Rangers
Girl from the North Country - Lions

Sons of Anarchy: Shelter - EP
Ruby Tuesday - Katey Sagal
Fortunate Son - Lyle Workman & The Forest Rangers
Someday Never Comes - Billy Valentine & The Forest Rangers
Burn This Town - Battleme
Gimme Shelter - Paul Brady & The Forest Rangers

Sons of Anarchy: The King is Gone - EP
No Milk Today - Joshua James & The Forest Rangers
Bird On A Wire - Katey Sagal & The Forest Rangers
Traveling’ Band - Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers
Miles Away (feat. Battleme & Slash) - The Forest Rangers
Hey Hey, My My - Battleme
This Life (Celtic Remix) - Curtis Stigers & The Emerald Forest Rangers

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten feet away

This morning as I was walking down the gravel road, watching the dog run zig-zags following his nose around the dead cornstalks, I realized I don’t take an iPod or some other gadget with me for music or news or noise. One could justifiably guess I’m looking for peace, quiet, and solitude in the outdoors. I’ve considered, on more than one occasion, loud electronic entertainment to drown out my own thoughts, my achy cold muscles, my daily walking distance goal (and how bloody long it is taking me to get there), and whatever else is going on internally. And I do have several choices of portable devices I could shove in my ears to provide diversion and distraction.

But the quiet of the outdoors can be deafening.

I may sometimes feel as though I’m a million miles from civilization, but not so in reality. I can hear the fans on the grain bins behind the tree claim kick on and off in what seems a futile attempt to keep its contents viable. The passing train blares a warning horn and chugs by on the cold, stiff iron rails. The random vehicle crunches the ice, snow and gravel under its tires on a parallel road.

If civilization wasn’t noisy enough, the wind crashes around pushing the icy, brittle tree branches into each other. If I listen carefully, sometimes I can hear what I believe to be the Momma deer and her twins who live in the trees behind my house and along the road taking timid steps, sniffing the air, twitching their big ears. Usually, tho, they hide deep in the tree claim hoping Smoke doesn’t catch their scent. Of course, he is more afraid of them than they are of him, but if he manages to kick them up and out of their hiding spot, he gives chase for maybe 100 yards before he barks at their flagging white tails disappearing across the empty field, turns, and trots back, victorious, to me.

There is nothing peaceful or quiet or alone in the outdoor “solitude” surrounding my daily walking adventures.



“A Tribute Album To Keith Whitley”

Don’t Close Your Eyes - Alan Jackson

Ten Feet Away - Diamond Rio

I’m Gonna Hurt Her On The Radio - Keith Whitley

I’m Over You - Tracy Lawrence

When You Say Nothing At All - Alison Krauss & Unions Station

Charlotte’s In North Carolina - Keith Whitley

I Just Want You - Keith Whitley & Lorrie Morgan

Little Boy Lost - Daron Norwood

All I Ever Loved Was You - Ricky Skaggs With Shenandoah

I’m No Stranger To The Rain - Joe Diffie

I Never Go Around Mirrors - Mark Chestnutt

The Comeback Kid - Keith Whitley

A Voice Still Rings True - Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs, Sawer Brown, & More