Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Morning

Now that that's over

we can get back to whatever passes for normal around here.

Normal this weekend involved heat and cleaning and dirt and heat and cooking and gardening and heat and mowing and did I mention heat? Whosoever denieth climate change is cuh-razy! 'Cause it ain't s'posed to be 90 on Memorial Day in southern West Virginia. South Florida, maybe, and definitely South Texas. But not here on my little mountain.

I'd like to invite you to eat off my floors.

First, never let it be said that I'm an early adopter. Also, I'm frugal. I've lusted for a steam mop since the Shark first hit the shelves at Sam's Club, many moons ago, but my effort and energy always trumped the cost of yet another appliance. Well Home Depot had a super sale on a less expensive model – not as sturdy as a Shark, I'm sure, but not as pricey, either, even at retail. Which I didn't pay. And you won't either since the Internet special appears to still be up and running (at least as of today).

The majority of my floors are laminate, and the way the house is laid out there are vast expanses of flooring which are not hidden by furniture. In other words, wasted floorspace which must be kept clean and presentable. If I mopped every day, I'd never be satisfied with the way they look. And trust me, I do not mop every day.

This baby worked great, and I might mop every other day from now on. If it needs it.

Not this week, though. I'm leaving tomorrow bright and early for a little getaway to

  • watch my granddaughter's dance recital, and
  • bring both my grandchildren home with me!

I predict the floors will most definitely need mopping after several days of my husband holding down the fort on his own. Heh.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Shall Be Released (this is VERY long)

Okay, on Friday, when I said 'tomorrow,' what was I thinking? Also as I reread that post I see that not only did I forget about 34, I also forgot to tell you I forgot 34. Also, I met my third husband when I was 33, not 35. I think we were married when I was 35, but I'd have to go find the marriage license (ripped into shreds and delivered to me the day our dissolution was granted) to be sure. Oh, well, I think we can safely move on.

Although I told you last time life started getting better when I was 39, it started with my mother dying on January 8, 1991. However, I was sober and present and with her when she made that passage, something I couldn't have done at any other time in my adult life. I hadn't yet found AA, but was in OA and Al-Anon. The 12 steps are the same across the board, and knowing I was powerless (Step 1) allowed me to simply accept God's will for her. My first AA meeting happened a couple months later, in Atlanta, GA. Newly sober former husband #2 took me. (I had separated from my third husband.)

At 40 (I bet you thought we'd never get here!) I was enjoying life solo for the first time ever. I lived in a tiny little house in central Ohio with my dog, Lindy. I worked for a weekly newspaper as an ad designer and went to a lot of AA meetings. I wore a hat and took Lindy almost everywhere I went – a way to hide and seek attention at the same time.

Forty-one: Two years sober and two sponsors fired, I finally met Carolyn, who is still my sponsor today. She truly is a gift to me and I couldn't have stayed sober without her. Also, the dissolution was finally final.

When I was 43, Carolyn and I decided I could begin dating again. My current husband showed up at just the right time (although we wouldn't actually tie the knot for many more years). My children and I were getting along again and I was invited to my daughter's wedding, a gift of sobriety. My daughter's father sat between me and his wife, and the three of us held hands throughout the ceremony.

Life was good at 44. I loved the meetings I was attending, had a lot of friends, felt complete – like I belonged. It's hard for non-alcoholics to understand, but many drunks never feel like they fit in anywhere, and I was one of them.

My sweetie moved to West Virginia, where he was born and where his widowed mother still lived/lives, when I was 45. We continued our relationship long-distance, making six-hour trips every other weekend and chatting every day on the phone. And this was back when you paid for long distance calls by the minute!

I had joined a gym and started running and by the time I was 46 I was at my thinnest adult weight ever. I looked great, felt great, loved buying new clothes. My diet consisted of almost no fat and absolutely no sugar. It wasn't good for my skin or hair, but I was a size 8 and nothing else mattered. Not very clear thinking; was I high on being thin? This year also found me selling my house, quitting my job and moving to West Virginia. Also, and very important, my first granddaughter was born and I stopped smoking.

When I was 47 I started gaining a little weight back. (See "stopped smoking.") I also blamed it on the lack of a gym. I was trying to maintain my weight by running but it wasn't enough. My weight would continue to go up, no matter what I tried.

We moved to Huntington for a year when I was 48, so he could teach and practice (he's a psychiatrist) at Marshall University. I met my first online friend, a woman named Nancy who was in recovery, had a weight problem and knitted – just like me.

My mother's mother died when I was 49. She survived my mother by 10 long, lonely years. I visited her frequently after I left Ohio, and called every day, and always felt a little guilty for leaving her. But my sister was nearby, and I had Grandma's blessing. I was with her when she died.  Later that year I began volunteering at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, taking an AA meeting to the facility once a week – something I've continued to do up to the present.

By the time I was 50 my (boyfriend sounds so lame, but there you go) was working closer to our home in southern WV and life was good. I wasn't good at making friends, but I didn't feel lonely. The year began with my grandson's birth, a happy start to 2001. The sad part was that my dog, Lindy, died. We had  gotten another dog, Molly, when we moved from Ohio, but she was more his dog than mine. I missed Lindy terribly. My son was married that fall, a month after the attack in New York and the day before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.

Life was on a pretty even keel during my early 50s. I liked not working, I liked volunteering at the prison, I knitted all the time and collected yarn with a passion. The downside was my weight, always my weight. I had ditched the low-fat plan (my skin tone immediately improved and my hair got shiny again) and was eating sugar again; no wonder I was gaining.

When I was 53, we went to an AA retreat in Kentucky (an annual trip for us) and found our new dog, Hershey. We had said "no more dogs," as people frequently do after the loss of a beloved pet. And I think we did pretty well, waiting three years. Hershey was advertised as a chocolate Lab, but she's more of a chocolate Beagle, without the barking.

Seven years to go. Are you bored with this happier life? I'm not!

Fifty-four … pretty much the same as 53, except now I was training a puppy. Not a big deal. I haven't mentioned my dad much in this narrative. He had remarried (my parents divorced when I was 36) and moved to Florida. We frequently talked on the phone, but didn't see each other very often. He was very happy that I'd found sobriety and a good partner.

On Mother's Day when I was 55, that partner sat me down and proposed to me. We were married in August. I had managed to lose some weight by this time and started training for my first half-marathon to be held in April, 2007. I became a registered Democrat (I had always been an Independent).

When I was 56 my son-in-law and I ran the Country Music Marathon together in Nashville, TN. My husband couldn't be there, but my daughter and her family were at the finish line cheering us on. I was a runner, a discipline that kept my weight steady (although still higher than I liked) for another couple of years. My second granddaughter was born in July. My sponsor began cancer treatment.

At 57 I was wrapped up in running and knitting. I started this blog in May of 2008. My friend Nancy died of pancreatic cancer in December. I was able to visit her early that month, a time I will forever treasure. I became very active in the campaign to elect President Obama, and met a lot of like-minded people, many of whom are now good friends. My third half-marathon was in the fall of 2008, and I haven't run a long-distance race since. I felt heavy and slow. I started thinking walking might be better exercise for me as I got older. Mind you, I didn't feel older, but I was definitely slowing down. My dad became very ill in the summer, and tried to convince all his nurses to vote for Barack.

When I was 58 I planted a garden. Daddy was getting better and had been a pretty good gardener all his life. I sent him lots of pictures of my crops, which he enjoyed. I was spending time in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio, connecting with family and friends.

At 59 I doubled the size of the garden and worked a couple afternoons a week at a garden center during the spring and early summer. My dad, who was feeling better and better, bought a motorhome and  visited me for the first time in many years in September. He died suddenly the morning he left our house. He didn't even make it out of West Virginia, and since he also was born here, I thought it fitting. I started a serious walking program that fall and walked more than 100 miles per month the last three months of 2010.

Which brings us to the present. Sixty, as of last Wednesday. I've only walked 10 miles this month, for reasons I can't begin to fathom, other than it's spring, I'm busier with outdoor chores, and I'm working at the garden center again. I also have my own big garden to tend. My sponsor is dying; she was taken to a hospice facility Friday morning. She told a friend that she'd had a good ride. I'm grateful she took me with her.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate the friendship and support you've been to me. Some of you have been with me since the beginning of the Shrinking Knitter. I love the internets! If I were so inclined, this might be a good time to quit blogging altogether. But I'm not so inclined. I like starting my day writing a couple paragraphs (and I like taking the weekends off!). I like the connections I've made with you, and wouldn't want to end them. I like the insight I gain about myself, particularly after an exercise like this one. Thanks again to Faith for her inspiration.

While my life hasn't always been pretty, I like to think I've somehow – with God's help – made it work. My mother's favorite song was "You'll Never Walk Alone," and that's true. None of us walks through life alone, or at least we don't need to. I don't mention my faith much here, but I know – without a doubt – that my Higher Power has been beside me all the way, watching me make poor decisions, leading me to better choices, putting important people in my path and helping me be the woman I am today.

And what's my favorite song? "Forever Young," of course.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Desolation Row

Continuing the saga, my life from 26 to 39 wasn't very pretty. While it's sometimes painful to look back on it, it's also instructive and provides a wonderful opportunity for gratitude. The past 20 years have been pretty fabulous, all in all. But we have to slog through the middle of my life first. Sigh.

I met the man who would become my second husband when I was 26. I was introduced to a completely different kind of life through him, a dark life, and one neither of us are living in now.

Twenty-seven. See four. And six. Some things are better left unsaid.

At 28, in a moment of clarity, I broke up with the man who would become my second husband. The fact that I eventually married him should tell you a lot about my state of mind in my late 20s.

My doctor hospitalized me for a long weekend when I was 29. I was clinically depressed, suicidal, and he was concerned for my safety. I remember my parents couldn't even visit without checking in at the nurse's station first. There was a "NO VISITORS" sign on my door. The bright note from this time period is that I started taking flying lessons.

Thirty. When I was growing up we were told "Don't trust anyone over 30." And here I was, hitting that wall, grown up all over again. I became a licensed pilot, single-engine, land. And I married my second husband, a completely misguided decision.

He moved out when I was 31.

I was twice-divorced when I was 32.

My children decided to go live with their father when I was 33.

At 35 I met husband number three and stopped drinking. For a while.

From 36 to 39 I was up and down a lot. If I was not drinking, I was crazy, for by this time I was an alcoholic, and an alcoholic off booze and not in AA is not a pretty thing. I was fat and started going to Overeaters Anonymous, and then Al-Anon, eventually finding the right rooms.

Tomorrow, life starts getting better. If you're still reading, thanks.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

Today's title is appropriate (and you Dylanophiles will be familiar with the line), since my husband told me on the way home from dinner that 60 is the new 40. Yeah! I've got 20 more years until I turn 60! Again!

We ate at a place called The Char, in Beckley, WV, which is one of those old-fashioned, family-owned supper clubs – a bar in the middle, fine dining, excellent service. The food (salmon and snap peas for me, ribeye and baked potato for my husband) was excellent. Our salads were topped with a tasty salsa, pretty much eliminating the need for additional dressing. We even splurged on dessert – blueberry bread pudding for him, strawberry shortcake (with a candle! How did she know?) for me.

As my husband prefers "dining" at all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants (he's always the thinnest person in the place, grrr), taking me out to dine was quite a treat. That it didn't disappoint was icing on the birthday cake.

My other gift was six tons of topsoil. That's all I asked for, all I wanted, I'm not a perfume-and-jewelry kinda gal. We started spreading it before I went to work yesterday afternoon. When I came home, he had kept on spreading without me. Now that's a birthday gift!

I might be the only woman in WV who got dirt for her birthday. Oh, wait, what am I saying. This is WV, after all!

Okay, are you ready for more when I wasses? Here we go.

I need to add to 15: I worked at my first real job (other than babysitting or mowing lawns), a caterer, where I learned to love food, food prep, food presentation, all things food. Had I been savvy about branding myself back then, I could have been Martha.

I got my driver's license when I was 16, without having to learn to change a tire (as was required in Driver's Ed back then). My DE teacher was my next-door neighbor and he gave me a pass. I drove the family car, a 1963 Mercury Comet, black with red seats and a white convertible top. Suh-weet!

At 17 (do you hear the Janis Ian song in the background?) I was busy with my boyfriend, my five BFFs, my schoolwork, my little job at the caterer's. I was an above-average student taking college-prep courses. I spent all my free time in the art room. Oh, and we moved again, from town to the country, but I didn't have to change schools.

Eighteen. Senior year of high school. By this time I was driving a 1950 Hudson to and from school (my dad collected antique cars). I got pregnant (September) and married (December), in that order, which just wasn't done, but really, it was. There go my college dreams.

My daughter was born when I was 19. I'm all grown up now, a wife and a mom and I'm missing out on life, I just know I am. I felt trapped and out of my element. All my friends were at Ohio State or Ohio University and I was stuck in Mobile Wilmington with the Memphis Columbus blues again.

All the baby fat I collected during my pregnancy is still hanging on. I wore tent dresses when I was 20, one made out of fabric that looked like a tablecloth. I still cringe when I see the photo. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time the day I learned I was pregnant for the second time.

Twenty-one! My son joins our little family, we bought our first house and moved away from town, and my parents moved from the country to Columbus. Also? I can legally drink alcohol (something that hadn't stopped me from indulging in the past). Alcohol would become a pretty good buddy over the next couple of decades. To say the least.

It took three years – 22, 23 and 24 – for my marriage to fall apart. I was not a good wife, not at all, but of course I blamed him.

At 25 the divorce is final and I'm stuck on my front porch with no friends (all of our friends were his friends) and two little ones. I had the house, but no car. Eventually I got a job at the local hospital – a two-mile walk – and started a new life, the first of several.

That's enough for today. Tune in tomorrow for five or 10 or 15 more years!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cake is just a four-letter word: Debbi turns 60

I totally stole the title of today's post from NPR. It was much better than anything I could come up with. (Except when I worked for a newspaper, we didn't capitalize every word of our headlines. NPR, apparently, uses a different style book.)

I was inspired by Faith to create an awesome list of 60 at 60. It'll take a while to finish it, which is a gift for both you and me. I don't have to look back over my entire life in one swell foop (as my mother used to say), and you don't have to slog through it all in one session (as if you even would).

When I was one, my grandmother adored me and thought I was hers. And I was an only child.

My brother joined the family when I was two. Being an only child didn't last long.

My first memory, when I was three, is of sitting in a corner of the dining room listening to my mother and her friends talk about childbirth. It's a wonder I ever reproduced.

Apparently nothing happened when I was four.

I started school when I was five, wearing a navy-blue dress with tiny little schoolbooks printed on the fabric.

Six? See four.

In my seventh year, my brother and I became big brother and big sister, and we treated the baby like a doll. (My mother would say, "Put that baby down, you're going to make her sick!) We also moved and I met my first BFF. And I got a cat, a white Persian named Tinkerbell Pandora, who would be my constant companion for the next 14 years.

When I was eight a house near us burned to the ground and scared all of us kids to death. I've never trusted homes heated with natural gas since then. Give me all-electric, thankyouverymuch.

Nine. Fourth grade. I remember my teacher telling me I needed to learn to delegate. Apparently I was mad about power even as a young child.

We moved again when I was 10 (I'm a poet and don't know it!), to Wilmington, Ohio, the town I think of as home to this day. I met two more BFFs, one who lived on a farm in the country and one who lived right down the street from me. She and I walked to and from school every day, and her mother had a freshly baked snack for us every afternoon. Ten is when I went from skinny kid to chubby pre-teen.

I learned to play the organ when I was 11 and even went to the county fair to demonstrate how easy it was. My picture was in the paper.

At my 12th birthday party my dad made homemade pizza and my dog ate all the frosting off my cake.

When I was 13 I met the five friends with whom I would go all the way through junior high (that's what we called it back then) and high school. We were a team, a pack, a gangette.

When I was 14 I had my first crush. His name was Bobby. A popular song then was I Want To Be Bobby's Girl. You can only imagine how many times I played that 45 on my little turntable!

When I was 15 my brother introduced me to my second crush and (later, of course) first husband. I dated Jim all through high school.

That's enough for now, more tomorrow. I'll leave you with my favorite birthday quote:

It takes a long time to grow young.
~ Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy birthday, Bob

If you've checked out my Blogger profile, under "Favorite Music" you'll find two words, repeated three times. And while I listen to a lot of music by a variety of artists (including the GaGa!), my heart belongs to Bob Dylan, who turns 70 today.

Dylan and I share an astrological sign and, had my mother gone into labor a little sooner, he and I might have shared a birthday. I've been to many of his concerts, including one during the "Saved" tour. I remember someone shouting from the back of the auditorium, "Play 'Lay Lady Lay!' " But Bob was only performing his Christian music that night, which disappointed a lot of concert-goers.

Not me, of course. Because if you really, really, really love Dylan's music, you'll listen and enjoy. And probably justify your passion to your friends and acquaintances who make fun of his raspy voice and nonsense lyrics, and who don't recognize the live version of the song they heard on the radio.

I still remember playing the 45 rpm single of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" over and over and over again on my little turntable. I was 15 when it was released in 1966, and of course all my friends and I thought it shocking to be told that "everybody must get stoned." We hardly knew what it meant to get tipsy, let alone stoned!

We made up for that lack of knowledge later. Heh.

He still performs live, all over the world, and I hope I see him at least one more time before my life ends. The last couple of times I saw him I thought, "This might be the last time." But I was thinking that more from the perspective of how old he was, not me. As this pirate looks at 60 (tomorrow! It's not too late to send an e-card! Heh.), I realize my days are numbered. There aren't that many concerts left – for either of us.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gaga for GaGa?

I'm too busy for words today, but wanted to clue you in on a great amazon.com deal. Download the new Lady GaGa album "Born This Way" for just 99¢! Today only … you can thank me later. Heh.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Quote Day

All endings are also beginnings.
We just don't know it at the time.
~ Mitch Albom

I thought this quote would be appropriate today, since tomorrow is Judgement Day. Not the end of the world – that will happen in October, according to the Judgement Day website. But if you're saved, according to some, you'll be taken up while the rest of us will live in chaos and disaster for the next five months. That period of time will be like enhanced interrogation, after which you will say anything (I believe! I believe!) in order to join the rest of the Raptured.

(I find it very amusing that one of the Judgement Day web ads offered me life insurance. In fact, I find that roll-on-the-floor laughable.)

I am a Christian, and I do believe. But I fully expect to be alive and well, feet firmly planted on the ground, come Sunday morning. I haven't paid much attention to this whole rapture thing (I've been watching the raptors, though!), but it's definitely trending on the internets and Facebook.

NPR published a piece asking for suggestions for end-of-the-world songs. Mine is Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan, and it's included in my own personal end-of-the-world playlist. (What? You haven't yet burned the mix CD you want your kids to play at your funeral?)

How about you? What do you think would be a meaningful exit tune? And if you're not planning to be taken up tomorrow, what will you be doing? We're having company, I expect we'll be enjoying a short nature hike and some good food. Not a bad way to go out, if that's the plan. Heh.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One more day, maybe two

and then we get to see the sun for real, for real.

I'm sorry to be such a boring drag by bitching about the weather all the time. It could be sooooo much worse. I have to keep reminding myself that we're not experiencing any of the havoc those along the Mississippi are going through. Our little river is rising, for sure, but we're not going to have a hundred-year flood. (That happened 18 years ago, only 82 to go!)

Completely off topic: Have you heard of this new storybook? I've sooooo been there, done that!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patch of blue

Did you know there was a Facebook page called Rain Rain GO AWAY? I didn't "like" it, because I can guarantee that by August everyone who grows food is going to be doing the rain dance.

I took this shot of the sky yesterday simply because the clouds parted for a second, showing us that the sky really is still up there. (I have long thought that airline pilots must be less depressed than land-dwellers simply because they see the sun more frequently than we do!)

Those teasing clouds closed up again, and this morning there was another .3 of an inch in the rain gauge, for a total of 2.5 inches this week. Gardens do well with an inch a week. Weeds do great with 2.5 inches.

The good thing is I've only planted half the 80-by-35-foot garden space, so I only have half a garden's worth of weeding to do, once it dries up. If it dries up. The remainder of the space has been plowed but not tilled, so the weeds can be tilled under instead of pulled by hand.

The weather doesn't generally affect my mood. I can almost always find things for which to be grateful (My husband doesn't have cancer! We don't live in a flood plain!) that trump the vagaries of Mother Nature. And I'm not growing all the food we're going to eat for a year, so we're not going to starve if the garden gets a late start. (We finished up last year's home-canned tomatoes yesterday. Sob.)

But I'd love to see a few sunny days strung together for a change. What's your weather like?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ahh, spring!

I stepped on the bathroom scale yesterday for the first time in more than a month. I have seriously either not thought about checking my weight, or not wanted to check my weight. I consider it a sign of growth that I wanted to act on the thought yesterday. It was a face-the-music moment, and I was ready.

I also was disappointed, because I haven't been eating much from the bad-food category, and I haven't had time for snacking. I eat breakfast (whole-wheat toast or cereal with milk), lunch (leftovers from the previous night's dinner and a piece of fruit) and dinner (something healthful, because that's how we roll).

I'm up three pounds since mid-April. Grrr.

The difference is that I've suddenly, mysteriously, stopped walking. It's been more than two weeks since I've posted a walk photo on Facebook. I've thought about walking. I just haven't made it out the door.

Of course it's been raining for more than two weeks, so that might have something to do with it. Heh.

I've also started my part-time spring job at the garden center. I've been counting that as "activity," since I'm on my feet without a break for three afternoons a week, but I need to get real about it. Standing at a potting bench and carrying flats from the bench to the greenhouse do not, apparently, burn fat. Go figure.

Still, you'd think that with all the hard, physical yard work I've been doing here at home (in between rain showers) I would have at least stayed the same. At this stage of my life, staying the same is almost as good as losing.

The good news is that I had some bloodwork done last week and the results are all splendid. Great cholesterol levels, normal blood sugar, I'm not anemic and my thyroid appears to be functioning as it should be. Oh, and my blood pressure was 118/72.

Which begs the question: Can one really be fit and fat? Why, yes, yes one can. I am living proof. Heh.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Work it

Saturday was a good day to work outside, and I took advantage of it. We've decided to landscape a large area in the front yard. I started the project a week or so ago by spraying Round-up on the area to kill the grass. Here's the "before" shot (and if you also check in on my photo blog, these will look very familiar. In fact, you could just come back tomorrow! Heh.):

Massive yews have been at the corner of the driveway for 25 years. They're a good foundation so I'm keeping them. There's a little Prince Charming lilac in the center and the brown area is dead grass.

The dead-grass area has been tilled and the lilac moved closer to the house. I added a second lilac and in the center is a Heart of Gold redbud tree.

Now for the fun part: Filling in the blanks with perennials. My husband's job is to gather enough rocks to line the outer edge of the space, to make it look more finished and to mimic a couple other areas I've planted. I would love for this space to eventually be as lush and gorgeous as the one at the end of the driveway.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love working at a garden center?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday surprise!

This rain we're having is certainly good for the perennial gardens. The one at the end of our driveway is absolutely lush! Here are a couple of shots. (The panorama originally was two photos. I love how Photoshop magically stitched them together perfectly.)

Tall purple salvia toward the back, with coreopsis in front and sedum at the edge.

The brick wall is a convex curve and is to your right as you come up the driveway.

Tomorrow I'll show you all the work I did Saturday before it started raining. Again. Heh.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Quote Day

It takes the hammer of persistence
to drive the nail of success.
~ John Mason 

To put it another way, little things do add up, eventually.

An example: Eating a healthful breakfast starts my day off right. I don't much feel like eating crap for lunch if I've had a decent morning meal. I do fall into the "well, I had a donut this morning so I might as well blow the whole day" trap occasionally, but not so much when my first fuel is clean.

And, of course, knitting is the perfect example of hammering away, day by day, stitch by stitch, until you've successfully completed the washcloth/scarf/shawl/afghan you started a day/week/month/year ago.

But little things can drag you down, as well.

I had a bit of a temper tantrum last night (and if you know me, that means I pouted and said a bad word) when my bathroom light bulb burnt out. That's the second burned-out bulb this week, and I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't just change all of them at once. You know, make it A Project.

'Cause I need more projects.

In the whole scheme of things, brushing my teeth in the dark is no big deal. It was just one of those "last straw" things, and now I have to make amends to my husband for my crankiness. I hope he didn't take it personally.

I feel unsettled and restless today. There's a lot to do outside when the weather is nice, but that doesn't mean the laundry folds itself or the floors stay clean and shiny without human intervention. I guess since it's Blame Someone Else Day, I'll just point the finger at Friday the 13th (the only one this year!), and abdicate responsibility.

But just for today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No gardening today

This rain would certainly come in handy in August, when we really need it. Unfortunately it's May. A big storm woke me a couple hours ago. Frankly at 4:37 a.m. I was more worried about lightning striking our water pump than not being able to plant stuff, but now, in the light of day, I'm thinking about how much longer it's going to be before I can do any more tilling and planting. Heck, I'm even wondering when I'll be able to weed what's already in there!

It's funny (not funny ha-ha, but funny interesting) how much attention I pay to the weather these days. It's not like I'm growing all the food we're going to eat for the coming year, but I did grow a lot last year and hope to do a little more this year. This very rainy spring season is just One More Thing to work around and deal with.

Yesterday I found two nearly ripe strawberries with no slug damage. I've been sprinkling coffee grounds around the plants and it seems to have made a difference. Soon we'll be having strawberries on our ice cream and cereal. I don't think we'll be harvesting enough this year for jam, but There Will Be Jam: Our Amish neighbors' strawberry patch looks amazing!

Denise, your garden and landscape projects sound perfect for you! Kudos to you for making your space beautiful and productive.

So how did you celebrate Eat What You Want Day? I took it to mean I could eat without guilt, but that didn't necessarily mean I cleaned out the leftover Easter candy bin at Tiny Kroger. And as the day ended and I thought about how good it felt to eat without guilt, I naturally thought about what a waste of energy it is to eat with guilt. Perhaps I should practice this no-guilt Eating What You Want more frequently. At my advanced age (I'm fast approaching a Major Birthday), I no longer have enough energy for guilt.

Today is Limerick Day.

There lived in the country a girl
Who thought she'd give gardening a whirl.
She tilled and she sowed,
Her plants really growed,
And she gave all the weeds a great hurl.

I totally crack myself up. Heh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Also … who knew?

Today (May 11) is Eat What You Want Day.

Not sure how that's going to be too different from every other day here at Chez Not On A Diet, but who knows? I have a lunch date, maybe I'll want something healthful when I see the menu.


I forgot the camera

You'll just have to trust me. My intentional activity yesterday was planting a flower bed for my mother-in-law (her Mother's Day present). I realized when I got there that my camera was tucked in its little bag back at my house – 12 miles away. I had neither the time nor the inclination to go back and fetch it, so no before-and-after pix of the transformation from ugly dirt to beautifully landscaped.

At some point I'll take the "after" shot. I found myself really being present as I completed the project – loosening the soil, pulling weeds, adding compost, digging holes, carefully placing (and sometimes rearranging!) the plants, watering and, finally, mulching. It took two and a half hours, start to finish.

Then I came home and put 30 tomato plants in the garden.

Garden progress: Half of it is planted, but of course the strawberries and garlic were there from last fall. I haven't decided what's going to go where, but I have plenty of time. It rained a lot overnight, so I won't be planting more until it dries up. Again.

When I think about what else I want to grow, I always end up thinking of more. Corn, Italian green beans, black-eyed peas for sure. Then I start trying to remember: Do I have seeds for spaghetti squash? What about those pumpkin seeds I saved? I'd better get some eggplants from the garden center before they're gone. Do I want watermelon this year? (Yes!)

If you garden, what must you plant every year? And what new thing are you trying this year?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What normal feels like

It's been nearly two months since my husband's health scare began. His final (we hope) follow-up appointment is today, and he can enjoy the remainder of his favorite month.

Normal feels like:
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Gardening
  • Yard work
  • Walking

Not necessarily in that order. We're so happy we don't have that Big Thing hanging over our heads any longer.

I bought 20 bags of mulch yesterday, and have already spread half a dozen of them. Today I'm going to plant some perennials at my mother-in-law's. We told her that would be her Mother's Day gift, but she doesn't know when it's going to get done. I think it'll be fun for her to exit her home and find all new plants in the big planter next to her driveway.

It's kind of hard for me to find anything to write about that doesn't include tumor, cancer, benign, gratitude, doctors or surgery. My life is kind of boring compared to all that.

Kind of … um … normal. And I'll take it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's eating Susie Strawberry?

I was so surprised the other day to see this in the garden, it seems much too early for strawberries to ripen:

I was equally surprised to turn it over and find half of it gone!

A little internet sleuthing has convinced me that slugs are the problem. Beer is the number-one slug deterrent, but I don't have any. Coffee grounds also are suggested; those I have plenty of, so I'll start spreading them around the plants instead of dumping them in the compost pile.

When I found this first half-eaten berry, I didn't think too much of it. I figured there would be plenty for human and bird/slug consumption. But from what I've read this morning, some people never get to harvest a single berry from their plants. I'd rather not be one of them. Heh.

I was in a fruity mood over the weekend. Finding ripe strawberries and putting in some blackberry bushes tipped me over the edge: I planted three apple trees.

I can see them from my dining room table, and believe me, the view is lovely! This picture is from a different angle. The closest tree (in the center) is a Granny Smith. To the left is a Honeycrisp and to the right is a Yellow Transparent, which already has ...

BABY FRUIT! I wasn't expecting to plant a tree and pick an apple the same year, but this one will provide a very modest harvest later this summer, if all goes well.

My husband continues to do very well. His neck doesn't hurt at all, but his throat is still sore from being intubated. Other than that, he's back to normal activities. Also? It will be eight weeks tomorrow that he stopped smoking. For him to go this long without a puff, well, trust me, there is a God.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

All is well

While I can't say I was really worried, I was experiencing a bit of stress about this surgery. But you knew that, right? Heh.

It was over in a flash, as I look back at the day, and my husband didn't even have to spend the night in the hospital. He did amazingly well, and continues to as we rest at the hotel.

His throat is beginning to get a little sore, because of the intubation. The neck wound looks much worse than he says it feels. No dressing – the incision was glued together and the surgical glue protects it as well as a bandage would.

The final pathology report will be available in a week, but the surgeon was extremely confident that it was and is a benign parotid tumor.

We have been treated so well, by every staff member we've dealt with; we couldn't be happier with the hospital and the very professional health care team.

We'll be home tomorrow. Thank you all so very much for your support. You've lifted my spirits more than you'll ever know.

I'm going to leave you tonight with the Friday Quote, a little bit early:

Wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So much for cleaning out the stash

I was pretty busy in the morning, had errands to run and chores to do after lunch, and didn't get home until after 3 p.m. And yes, I could have started a major project at 3 p.m., but by that time of day I'm ready for a break, not a major project. So my good intentions have been put on hold for a few more days.

Here's what kept me busy yesterday morning:

Weeding peas.
Weeding cabbages.
Planting blackberries.
Weeding and mulching strawberries.
Gazing with wonder at the basil (and other herbs), which survived transplanting and is positively thriving!
I have to work for a few hours today and then head to North Carolina this afternoon. My husband's surgery is tomorrow morning at Wake Forest. I'll check in here sometime tomorrow, probably not early, though.

We don't know what to expect as far as his recovery goes. I hope he won't be in a lot of pain, but anytime a surgeon penetrates skin, there's going to be pain. Hey, I can call him a pain in the neck and mean it! Heh.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Knitting? What knitting?

I wish I could report that I've been knitting up a storm, what with all the storms lately keeping me out of the garden. I've had plenty o'time on my hands, too, what with all the doctor and hospital waiting rooms I've  spent time in lately.

But I have to confess: If the waiting room has wifi access, my fingers are on the laptop keyboard, and not on the knitting needles.

Part of the problem is I'm paralyzed whenever I open the door to the yarn storage area. It's a 5x10-foot cedar-lined closet that is literally stuffed to the ceiling with yarn, more yarn than I'll ever have time to knit. Just peeking in the door makes me want to shut it right away. I don't know what's in there and I couldn't find it even if I did know.

So obviously one of my priorities ought to be to clean out the stash. Wow, is that ever an understatement.

I've previously done two or three major purges and am left with a wall of cotton, a larger wall of wool and a wall of good-quality acrylic blends and miscellaneous fibers. Atop each of the three shelving units are cones and cones and more cones, mostly wool and cotton. In addition, I have a large bin of sock yarn.

I hope to make a start on the Major Stash Purge today. I have some errands to run and chores to do this morning, but it's supposed to rain this afternoon. So if you're looking for me later today, I'll be upstairs, drowning in yarn.

I hope to be inspired to put together some kind of project to take with me to the hospital in North Carolina tomorrow. My husband's surgery is Thursday morning, bright and early. We'll be ever-so-grateful when we can stop waiting for this procedure to happen and begin looking back on it. We've grown and learned a lot from the experience. I can't say we wouldn't have preferred not to have gone through it, but it has been valuable and, on the whole, a positive one.

And we'll be positively thrilled when it's over!