Thursday, May 31, 2012

Something beautiful

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After months of nearly $4/gallon gas,
$3.29 looks pretty darned beautiful to me! I was on the run all day, and had
to get really creative to get today's photo challenge done.


No, not World Wrestling Federation. (I bet some of you didn't know that's what those letters stood for, once upon a time, am I right?)

On the last day of May – NaBloPoMo's "Play" month – I'm going to write briefly about a game. Imagine that, I'm sticking to the theme.

I downloaded Words With Friends to my phone a few days ago. (Is there some way to find out exactly when you installed things? If there is, I haven't figured it out. As I frequently remark, my phone is much smarter than I am!) My cousin challenged me to a game, and I began playing.

I don't remember how I learned she had started a game with me, but I noticed that two other people also had, several days previously, and that (apparently) because I'd never responded, they automatically won.

That they won without a move on my part doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I didn't know about the games. I'm not sure how one gets notified. Am I supposed to do something with the settings?

Perhaps I should go check that WWF website and see if there's an FAQ. Then again, maybe one of you has the answer at your fingertips, and can pop a comment and help me out. (I love how Shauna and MizFit say that on their podcast – and BY THE WAY, WHEN WILL WE GET TO HEAR A NEW ONE?)

Also on this last day of May, I'm remembering my AA sponsor, who died a year ago. I miss her still, always, and spend much of my life saying WWCD (What would Carolyn do?). She would be graceful, dignified, serene, calm, peaceful. She would go with the flow. And I will be forever grateful for her good example.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30 - Your personality

Don't push the river, it flows by itself …

Well, the garden got smaller yesterday …

but the soil got better.

As I was heading out to get the tiller out of the shed, the phone rang. My horse-loving neighbor had a pile of manure mixed with sawdust for me. I'd thought she wasn't going to have any this spring (she's been spreading it across her pasture as soon as they clean the barn, to cut down on flies), but she saved a day's worth for me.

My neighbor is very thoughtful like that.

So instead of tilling and planting, I spent the morning shoveling you-know-what. And it was EXACTLY enough to cover the remaining unplanted, unmulched ground. I only have one full bale of straw left, and no cardboard, but I can take my time now that the manure is down.

I've cut the garlic scapes, which
I will turn into pesto. Cutting them
allows the plant to put more
energy into bulb production. 
It won't be long before the garlic is ready to harvest, so there will be an empty bed for green beans, probably, or cucumbers maybe. Something that will mature well before the first frost.

I'm supposed to capture my personality in the photoaday project today. Look for a picture of the river later on … I like to think I go with the flow!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29 - A number

Let's hope and pray the number of voters FOR Obama far outnumbers those
who will vote against him this fall. Let the campaign begin!

Undecided …

I'm not sure if I can answer her question. Can you?

So far, so good …

Meaning no more pain.

My right foot has had some numbness for several years now, some kind of nerve damage according to my real doctor (yes, I have one, but I have crappy insurance which is why I always consult Dr. Google first). The numbness seems worse after that painful episode Sunday evening, but that could be just my imagination. Your comments have been helpful, and it's good to know so many of you cared enough to say something.

(Usually I don't want advice, but this time I'm open to all suggestions. I'd love to know there are options out there other than BLOOD CLOT or ANEURYSM or DEATH BY LAZING IN A CHAIR.)

The first crop of snow peas!
Perfect in yesterday's traditional
Memorial Day stir-fry. =)
I took it easy yesterday. In fact, I went back to bed around 9 a.m. and actually fell asleep for a while. This is something I never-ever-ever do. Worked at the garden center in the afternoon, made a delicious chicken stir-fry for dinner and pretty much did a whole lotta nuthin'.

Which is probably just what I needed to do.

Today I'm going to till the one empty section of the garden, throw some seeds in there and hope for the best. Then I'm going to start working on getting my house in order. I haven't had the time or energy to do anything other than superficial, perfunctory tidying up, and it's beginning to get to me.

I lead such a boring life. I'm surprised anyone still reads my drivel. But THANK YOU, both of you, who still do! Heh.

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 - The weather today

Bright sunshine, puffy clouds and an unexpected bokeh! Love those!

Dr. Google isn't much help

Before I explain the cryptic title of today's post, let me say how thrilled – thrilled – I am to have not gained a zillion pounds last week and weekend. Beginning with the unexpected restaurant meal Wednesday, when the power was out, I ate in restaurants four consecutive nights. Two of those meals ended with dessert. This morning I weigh one pound more than my lowest for the year, and 10 pounds less than January 1. In addition to thrilled, I'm shocked.

I've been super-busy in the garden. All 31 bags of barn-floor straw have been spread in the garden. There's a smallish section that is still open – I didn't have enough cardboard to cover it – and I'm going to till the hell out of it and plant something there. The edamame is beginning to burst through the dirt, the tomato plants look great. We have way too many zucchini plants at the garden center so I brought some of those home and put them in the ground, along with some paprika peppers, the fruits of which are meant to be dried and ground into powder. That should be interesting.

Intense, sustained activity both at work and in the garden/yard here at home are responsible for this round of maintenance/slight loss. I have to wonder what the scale might have said if I hadn't had dessert. (Not really, I haven't had tiramisu in 10 years and it was well worth it! And, well, you have to eat cake on your birthday, right?)

So last night after dinner I was finishing up a book my son sent me (Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of Own's Own). (The book was very good. While the author longs for sheep, her book makes me want chickens.) I was kind of lounging sideways in a comfy chair, and felt fine. I closed the book, put it on the end table and swung my legs down off the arm of the chair when I was suddenly hit with EXCRUCIATING burning pain on the inside of my right leg, a couple inches above the knee.

I've never felt anything like it. My husband was napping and I tried not to cry out, but I couldn't help myself. He woke up and came out to find me doubled over and in tears. Neither of us could do anything to stop the pain. I couldn't put any pressure on my right leg

Five to 10 minutes later (who's counting?) it was a dull ache, like a bruise, and half an hour later it was gone. And it's still gone this morning. The only residual effect is that my right foot feels numb, which it frequently does anyway, but either I'm more aware of it after the painful episode or the numbness is a little  worse.

When I could sit at the computer again, the first thing I did was consult Dr. Google. I didn't find much. Most results (I searched for 'excruciating pain inside thigh above knee') were for knee pain as the result of an injury or for blood clots, which typically are in the groin area.

The likeliest cause would be dehydration; I had been working in the hot sun for five hours with just half a glass of iced tea about an hour before I finished. But I'd been inside for three hours, had a couple more large glasses of tea, showered and eaten dinner. At any rate, we're going to start keeping Gatorade on hand, and I'm going to eat more potassium-rich foods. And hope it never happens again. Very scary.

I hope the last day of this holiday weekend is a good one for you. I'll be working, and I expect we'll be kinda busy. The forecast is for rain later in the day, but only a 40 percent chance. Around here, that can mean anything from torrential downpours to a few sprinkles to severe sunshine. At any rate, I'll be outdoors in it all afternoon.

Oh, and dinner tonight will be some kind of chicken stir-fry, homemade by me, with the first fresh snow peas from the garden. Crops! Can't wait.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27 - Something sweet

After four days of restaurant meals, two of which ended with dessert, a tablespoon
of orange mmmmmm-armalade is about all the sweet I can handle today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25 - Unusual

A clematis before blooming. Weird!

Happy birthday ...

to ME! Running way late this morning, that's what happens when you decide you have to comment on everyone's Facebook messages. Heh.

Anyway, I hope I feel more like writing next week. I've just not been in the mood lately, I'm sure y'all can tell.

My husband's mother's cousins are descending this weekend. Average age is about 82. A friend said it sounded like God's waiting room. Should be, um, interesting.

Last year I came up with 60 things about me (spread out over several days). Maybe I'll think of one more new one to post later. Or not! Heh.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24 - Something new

My neighbor started cutting new hay today.

May he stay …

forever young.

Happy birthday to my favorite entertainer, songwriter, poet and musician – Bob Dylan is 71 today!

So easy to remember his birthday, when it is 10 years and one day before mine. Heh.

So yesterday was a very long day, and I came home from work in a heavy downpour to find the power was out. My husband and I went to a the local Chinese restaurant for dinner. We're going out for dinner tonight, to celebrate my birthday.

We're going out for dinner tomorrow, the first day of his mother's family reunion, and we're going out for dinner with the clan on Saturday, as well.

I will be well and truly SICK of restaurants by the time Sunday gets here.

Today, though, I will play Bob Dylan music and enjoy a day off and get ready to greet age 61 with grace.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Pink

My favorite color!

I wonder if my husband minds my girly-girl garden. I don't care if he does,
I just wonder sometimes …

Good morning, sunshine!

It rained overnight (thank you, Mother Nature, for watering the garden and plants for me) and the prediction is for more rain and even flash flooding here in southern West Virginia today.

But we early risers got a glimpse of the sun before it slipped back behind the clouds:

Five minutes after this shot the sky was grey and all I could see was fog.
I've been spot-checking my weight occasionally this month and am delighted and baffled by a four-pound loss. I said I was done with the struggle, and I am. And four pounds in less than a month isn't all that amazing, but for me, well, it is.

I've been having homemade yogurt with a little strawberry jam, sprinkled with chia seeds, for breakfast almost every morning. Lunch is usually something left over from dinner or a PB&J. Dinner is whatever I can make that's fast and relatively healthful. No time for snacking and I don't usually eat anything after dinner. So food has been pretty normal, and the only time I'm hungry is four or five hours after the last time I ate.

Imagine that.

All I've done for intentional activity is work at the garden center. I think I've maybe been to the gym twice, and maybe walked a half dozen times. Most of my exercise has been of the "tote-that-barge, lift-that-bale" variety, except I'm toting wagonloads of plants and lifting 40-pound bales of Pro-Mix.

I actually like this kind of exercise better than going to the gym, but I 'm grateful for those four months of working out intentionally. It would have been much harder to be this active and I would have felt much more helpless.

Before I went to work yesterday afternoon, I spent the morning planting cardboard in part of the garden. I tilled it first (rototilling is quite the workout!), then laid down dozens of flattened boxes. Next I'll throw some compost and/or manure on it and then cover it all with straw, just as I did last fall with the current tomato and herb beds. I just don't have time to plant as much food this year. I know I'll be sorry later in the summer, but – as the young folk say – it is what it is. I'll have tomatoes and edamame and a few peppers (for drying) and some zucchini to eat fresh. The rest of the garden is laying fallow this year.

Which is fine, really. With all the other stuff I've got going on, I don't have time to eat, let alone can or freeze!

So … did you see the sun come up today?

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 - Where you stand

Two ideas for today's photo prompt came to mind, so I went ahead and interpreted both of them.

When I posted this to Instagram, I added that I'm actually a little left of Democrat.
This is the potting bench where I stand at work. There's a river beyond the trees,
providing a lovely natural soundtrack all afternoon.

Monday? Again? Already?

I need a wife, I really do. Or a time management course. Or a clone. Or Molly Maids.

What I don't need is One. More. Commitment.

I knew I was going to be busy beyond belief this spring, but I truly had no idea how that was going to look. Or feel. Well, I'm here to tell you it looks like hell – laundry gets washed, dried and folded but never seems to make it back into a dresser drawer. My floors desperately need cleaning, it's a good thing no one ever just "drops in" out here in the Middle of Nowhere. The pile of unread magazines is three months high and ready to slip off the undusted end table where they landed when I had to make room on the table to eat dinner.

How does it feel? I hate feeling this disorganized and behind. This weekend would have been a great time to do a little catching up, but I was gone all day Saturday and spent yesterday working in the yard. Not the garden, as I would have preferred. I mowed and mowed and mowed. And then I whacked weeds and watered plants.

And then I died. Heh.

Saturday's trip was one of the few easy-to-get-to places in the whole state. West Virginia is not known for ease of travel. You really can't get there from here, usually. But going to Flatwoods means getting on three major highways, zip, zip, zip. And, therefore, getting home means getting on the same three highways in reverse.

Unless you miss a turn. My 110-mile trip, which should have taken two and a half hours according to Google Maps, ended up being close to 140 miles and taking slightly more than three hours. After I missed the first exit, which would have taken me from Road One to Road Two, I rerouted the GPS and ended up driving on a one-lane hard road (very much like the twisty-turny one I live on) for probably 40 miles.

That took a while.

But it was beautiful. West Virginia really is a lovely state, and West Virginia in the spring is simply lush. Green mountains, waterfalls, wildlife. Tidy homes with amazing gardens. I have garden envy, since mine is still mostly unplanted and full of weeds.

I didn't stop to linger anywhere. My car is held together with liberal bumper stickers, and I wasn't sure of the political climate in these backwoods parts of the state. Better to keep moving and admire the view from 40 mph. But I did stop once to get a picture of New River Gorge from far, far away. It was much more stunning in person.

The next several weekends are full of one thing or another, most of them fun but some of them not so much. I will survive. I will prevail, even. And when all is said and done, I will collapse.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My motto …

from years ago was this:

I haven't lived like that in a long time, years, actually, but I find myself, lately, going there again. I think I've learned that some risks are worth taking, while it's fine to let others go.

Something has come up, something I can't really write about yet, but I'm throwing up this post as a teaser. And a reminder to myself that, while living on the edge usually ended in disaster – back in the day – it didn't always. Combined with a bit of maturity, the willingness to ask for help and advice and a spirit of cooperation, it might actually end up being pretty comfortable over here.

May 20 - Something you can't live without

When I saw today's photo prompt, I almost took a picture of my garden gloves.
This time of year, they're essential! Howver, I could live without them.
It didn't take me long to come up with a more substantial and meaningful idea.
Without the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I wouldn't be here.
I literally would be dead (or in prison or in a mental institution). So grateful. 
Also, I am reminded of a book I bought once, just because I liked the title:
If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet? 
Looks like someone's written a song by that title now, as well.

Your turn: What can't you live without?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18 - Something you made

Something I made? How about a mess! This is the potting bench at the
garden center, as far as messes go, this one isn't too bad.

Finally enough strawberries to actually eat!

Today is the next to the last day of National Women's Health Week here in the United States. My husband is a psychiatrist, and his e-mails this week have been focusing on women's mental health.

I could use a little mental health these days. Heh.

Crops! With NO slug damage! I think
the Sluggo is working.
Actually (don't you love it when little kids say 'actually?' All of my grandchildren have, so far, gone through an actually stage) the day is starting off on a bright note, with fresh strawberries from my garden topping my Shredded Wheat. I'm excited to write a little reaping-and-eating news, since there isn't much knitting (still working on the endless blue stockinette pullover) and there's NO running.

(Two of our Amish neighbors grow strawberries as a crop to sell, and neither of their gardens are doing well at all. I think our non-winter followed by a cold snap confused them. This might be all I get from the few plants I have.)

My intentional activity yesterday included baking two batches of brownies working in the garden for three and a half hot hours in the afternoon. Tilling a bed for the edamame, and then planting the edamame was sandwiched between the brownie baking. The first batch was definitely not worthy of serving to members of Three Rivers Democratic Women at last night's meeting, so I had to make another batch. My husband ate most of the first batch, except for the gooey pieces I had to toss. I tasted them, and they were delicious, but not pretty enough to serve.

My very first job, other than baby-sitting, was working for a caterer. I bet you couldn't have guessed that.

Thanks for all your kind comments about yesterday's fog photo, and for your good wishes for my granddaughter and her broken wing. She went to school the next day – clearly she does not know how to milk an injury! Although my own cast envy certainly included going to school and getting lots of attention.

Busy day today, busy weekend ahead. I do believe I'll only be posting photos tomorrow and Sunday, but who knows? I could get inspired, especially if I wake up super-early. I hope your weekend is productive and fun and soul-satisfying. I hope mine is, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 - Snack

Blondies (we called them butterscotch brownies, back in the day).

It's kinda froggy out here

Typical May morning again – dense fog, birdsong, multiple cups of coffee, new photo app on the phone.

I'm so happy I got an Android when it was time to replace my BlackBerry. The only advantage of the BB is the keyboard – I'm an excellent typist on a computer, typewriter or BB keyboard, but my skills are CRAP on a touchscreen. It's not just the size of the keyboard, either. My typing skills are equally atrocious on the Nook Color.

This photo of distant fog and close-up peonies was taken using an app called One Man With A Camera. When you start with this app you first select a camera and then select a filter and then take your shot. I'd prefer taking the shot first and then running through the various effects, like Instagram, but this is fun, too. (I tried searching for an image to alter after I opened the app but didn't see how to accomplish it.)

In this picture, I love how the flowers mimics the treeline. I did NOT plan that, in fact I just now noticed it, after looking at the photo for the last 10 minutes trying to figure out something to say about it. Pretty cool, though, huh?

We all know by now what Jon Stewart thinks of Instagram (and, I assume, similar retro photo apps). I really don't care what you think, Jon Stewart! I'm having fun, damn it (and seriously, I could use a little fun, doncha think?), it's not breaking the bank and it hurts no one. What's not to love?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 26 - What You're Reading

This is what I'd like to be reading … if I had time. I might be reading articles
titled Swimsuits That Fit next winter if I don't get some down time soon.

There are no words

Or at least there weren't many yesterday. Did you miss me? But here's a few for today.

The family drama is firing up again, from a different angle this time. I just want to run away sometimes. Thank goodness for Tuesdays, when I get to go to jail. Heh. (For anyone new here, I volunteer at a federal women's prison every Tuesday evening, where I am privileged to learn so very much from the inmates I work with.)

Besides, running away doesn't solve the problem, it just creates new ones. Like where's Debbi? And why isn't she here making dinner?

Moving on …

As I was leaving the house yesterday to go to jail, the phone rang. It was my son, with the unhappy news that my little granddaughter had broken her right arm. She's not quite five and it happened at preschool. It could have been much worse, as she fell from one of those tall climbing things. She's quite scraped up and some of her front teeth are loose, so she'll be going to the dentist today instead of back to school.

She chose a purple cast (purple and pink are her favorite colors, but the pink was neon and that's not her pink, so purple it was) and she sounds amazingly chirpy on the phone. She relayed to me the information that both her mommy and her daddy have had casts before (how well I know!), and now all three of them have! Like she's joined a special club.

I'm not a member, but I've always secretly wanted a broken bone. Not so much now that I'm older and, um, more mature, but I can remember feeling pure envy when a classmate showed up with an arm in a cast, or had to get around on crutches. She or he got lots of attention and didn't have to carry their own books and were just, oh, I don't know, different and special in a way those of us with intact bones could never be.

I know. Crazy, right? At least I've outgrown it.

And I would totally want a white cast, so everyone could sign it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 - Love

No person – or cat – will ever love you as perfectly and unconditionally
as your dog will. I love you, Hershey! Probably not as much as you love me. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14 - Grass

A clump of zebra grass in the front landscape bed.

Crash landing

After weeks of nearly nonstop work/activity/busy-ness/chores/STUFF happening all the time, yesterday was just one of those days. I missed my mother, and regret to this day what a crappy daughter I was to her. I was a crappy mother, as well, but the children have forgiven me, even when I sometimes can't let go of it.

It was supposed to rain yesterday, but by mid-morning it hadn't yet and the things I've recently planted – rhubarb and bleeding hearts and stevia, lemon balm – were a little droopy, so I dragged the hose out and watered everything. It started raining a couple hours later. OF COURSE.

The only other "work" I did yesterday was to print the reminder post cards for this week's Democratic women's meeting. That's it! I played a lot of solitaire (on the phone and on the computer) and Scrabble (on the Nook), read a couple magazines, and pretty much did a whole lotta nuthin'.

I work at the garden center this afternoon. It's drizzly and cool and it won't be as fun or pretty as it usually is, but seedlings won't wait for nice weather. They're going to outgrow their space whether the sun is shining or not. My mission is to make sure that doesn't happen.

As you can probably tell, I'm not terribly inspired today to write much of anything. If it weren't for NaBloPoMo, I might not have. Since I don't want this playful exercise to turn into a job, I think I'm done.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13 - Mum

This dried-flower wreath has been hanging in my home for more than 21
years. The rose was one I saved from my mother's casket.

Garden FAIL!

Well, I worked outside nearly all day yesterday, but did NOT, as promised, get everything weeded and planted.

I can see the lettuce again. Yay! And half of the row of snow peas. That was it for the weeding, and I consider that a spectacular fail. As I said yesterday, I'm an A-to-Z kinda girl, and for me to not finish a row … well, something must be wrong.

After putting 50 tomato plants in the ground (which meant digging 50 holes and dumping compost into each of them first), I realized the best use of my remaining time yesterday afternoon would be to mow the field grass. Because it's going to rain today. Since the grass was already tall enough to bale (kidding! almost!), I knew I had to quit playing in the dirt and start riding around on the mower.

Mowing (and weeding, actually) offer instant gratification – all you have to do is look behind you to see you're making progress. Wouldn't it be great if losing weight were that easy?

Two and a half hours later it was time to go play in the kitchen. The mozzarella and pizza dough were ready, all I had to do was throw some garlic and oregano into some tomato paste and slice the onions and peppers. (I gave up slicing my own pepperoni a long time ago. But my dad always sliced his. Some things just take more time than I'm willing to spend.)

I've decided to let part of the garden lie fallow this year. I need to get a truckload of manure to put down first, then I'll do the cardboard-and-straw mulch trick and I should have much better soil next year. It worked really well for the tomato bed – there are NO weeds in it, and most of the soil was dark and crumbly. Some was still a little claylike, but I stuck the plants in anyway and will hope for the best.

I'm just glad the tomatoes are in the ground and no longer on my porch. I have a few pepper plants to stick in somewhere, and seeds for edamame, Italian green beans, zucchini and cucumbers. That, along with the herb bed, is going to be the extent of my garden for this year.

Looks like another sky-blue pink morning … at least until the rains come.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12 - something that makes you happy

when the dough rises

May mornings

My husband loves May mornings in the southern West Virginia hills. Many of them are shrouded in fog and most are cloaked with dew. The birdsong is lovely, especially when the robins and bluebirds and doves first start tweeting.

I've grown to love May mornings, as well. Actually, I love all mornings. I've always been a lark. Even as a teen I rarely slept 'til noon and about the only time you'll find me in bed past 6 a.m. is when I'm sick.

The sky this morning was stunning, with pink clouds (seriously!) punctuating the early, soft-blue sky. My mother used to say it was "sky-blue pink" outside. She wasn't an especially poetic woman, but I remember her saying that, and hope I always do.

This May morning will – WILL – find me in the garden, as soon as it warms up just an eentsy bit more. I hope to get everything weeded and planted today, and it will take most of the day to do it. I'm promising myself I will take some breaks and then get right back to it. My personality is the kind that likes to go from A to Z without stopping in between, but as I get older I find it's just not possible to go from A to Z without some kind of mental meltdown or physical injury.

And lest you think working in the garden will be drudgery … it's not at all. I'm so surprised to find, at my age, that digging and tilling and planting (and reaping!) are fun for me. I moved here, to a home with plenty of tillable land, in 1997, but only began gardening three years ago. Or was it four? The older I get, the more the years run together.

Speaking of years passing quickly … our triplet grandsons are four years old today. I looked at their three-year-old picture today and am amazed at the difference between three and four. Three = toddler. Four = BOYS! I hope they have lots of fun at their party and if anyone deserves a happy mother's day, it's their sweet mom, who's had her hands more than full since they were born.

Wishing you all well today, and I hope you get a peek at some sky-blue pink clouds and skies soon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11 - Kitchen

While the cupboard isn't bare, it certainly is less bountiful than it was last
summer when I was filling it up with canned goods!. Soon …

May the Eleventh be with you, as well

A week ago today I wrote about the birth of my daughter. Today is my son's birthday, and it wasn't nearly as traumatic as was hers.

Back in the olden days of obstetrics doctors figured once you've had a C-section you would always have one. Also back in the day, we good little mothers didn't question our doctors. And so it was that on May 10, 1973, I stopped by my Weight Watchers meeting on my way to the hospital, where I was admitted and scheduled for surgery the next morning.

The nice thing about a planned C-section is you can have your bags packed and your legs shaved before you head for the hospital. Then again, C-sections are major surgeries and the recovery was a lot longer. I was in the hospital for eight days – can you believe it? Who stays in the hospital for eight days for a C-section in the 21st century? My son was there an additional day because he had jaundice; he spent most of his nursery time under a bilirubin light.

Another thing doctors did back in the day was encourage their patients to lose weight during a pregnancy, if the patient was overweight to begin with. Which I was. When I learned I was pregnant, I went straight to a Weight Watcher meeting from the doctor's office, permission slip in hand. I stuck to the program the entire time I was carrying my son, never missed a meeting, gained one-half of one pound (Dr. Goodwin was so proud!) and lost 18 pounds the following week.

Eventually I became a Weight Watcher leader. Hard to believe when I look at the scale now.

And it's also hard to believe I have a son whose next birthday will begin with the number "4"! I'm very proud of him. He's a good dad and husband and works in a field that suits his talents and temperament perfectly.

And considering the poor mothering he received from me, he still speaks to me! Willingly! For that, I'm eternally grateful.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10 – A favourite word

open mind, open heart, open arms

It's a beautiful morning

Apologies in advance if you're going to be hearing the Rascals' version of today's post title All. Day. Long. (I hate earworms, too.)

Thankfully, the derision by the national media I expected over the spectacular primary showing by a federal inmate over a sitting President was kept to a minimum. Perhaps they realize it's politically incorrect to point out the stereotypical hillbilly mentality.

What I didn't expect was the complete dearth of opinion from the local outlets. There were no opinion pieces in the paper and the local news stations ignored the issue completely. Maybe the thinking is if they ignore it, it will go away. Somehow I think racism doesn't just "go away."

Gingerzingi, I loved your comment. (I love everyone's comments, but to read that someone thought the whole thing was a joke … ah, one can only wish it were so.)

Time to move on. Fair warning, though: As a devoted Democrat and president of the local Dem women's group, expect to see more political stuff in the next six months as Election Day draws near. (I love that I get to vote for President Obama twice!)

Yesterday was a brutal day at the garden center. It wasn't that the work was so hard – how hard is it, really, to take dozens of baby plants out of small containers and stuff them into larger ones? But it was chilly and drizzly and we didn't have many customers to break the chilly, drizzly monotony. I was exhausted when I got home, and asleep by 8 p.m. Ten hours later, I woke up, rarin' to go.

Today I will:

  • make mozzarella
  • make yogurt
  • weed part of the vegetable garden
  • weed the front landscape bed
  • plant two bleeding hearts and three more herby things
  • dig up a couple dozen poppies to sell at the garden center (the poppies have taken over my vegetable garden – they used to be a tiny border, now they're a field!)
  • do laundry (there's always laundry)

And if my husband happens to go somewhere for an hour or so, I'll take that time to mop the floors. If I mop them when he's home, he invariably needs to get something from the room with the wet floor. No matter which room it is. If he doesn't leave today, then yay! I don't have to mop! Heh.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9 – Something you do every day

A day without Scrabble on the Nook is, um, a damned busy day!

The morning after

Before I get started on what happened here in the Mountain State's voting booths yesterday, let me commiserate for a moment with my brothers and sisters in North Carolina, which became the 31st state to constitutionally declare a marital union to be between a man and a woman. The amendment reaches much farther than that, however. I'm so sorry for my friends who live and work and sleep there.

It's tough to be a left-wing, pinko, socialist, liberal, forward-thinking commie rat in West Virginia.

Now, I'm not quite all of those things. Yet. But I do wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Democratic politics, and I still think it's possible to turn West Virginia blue in November.

Then again …

Who is this Keith Judd, you ask, and what was he doing on the West Virginia ballot?

Judd currently resides in Beaumont, Texas. He will be a guest of the state of Texas, at Texarkana Federal Correctional Institute, until June, 2013, and he has been there for more than 15 years after being convicted of making extortion threats at the University of New Mexico.

So 41 percent of the registered Democrats who showed up to vote yesterday picked a currently incarcerated federal prisoner over our current President. I feel pretty certain that just seeing an alternate name was enough for most of them. Candidate "Anyone But Obama" is pretty popular here in the Mountain State.

I'm embarrassed and ashamed. From the AP story in this morning's Charleston Gazette:
Judd carried about a third of the vote, further evidence of Obama's unpopularity in the Mountain State.
I believe the reporter was exceedingly politically correct in his assessment. I think the evidence shows just how very racist some West Virginians are.

I'm anxious to talk with state party leaders. It appears to me we have a bit of mopping up to do. I've learned that the Obama campaign will not be spending much money or time in West Virginia. We've already been written off, tossed aside. Our five electoral votes are irrelevant in 2012. Swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia and, yes, North Carolina will see a lot of him in the next six months. I hope and pray he's able to carry those states with big numbers.

Or, at least, big-enough numbers.

As for me, I'm putting an Obama sticker on my car's bumper today. And I hope no one steals it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8 - A smell you adore

I love everything about citrus, the smell, the taste, the colors,
the shapes, the flowers (and their incredible scent!). And the older I get,
the better I like it. This is marmalade – sunshine in a jar!

The second most important day of the year

Matt Carmody, November 2004
It's Primary Election Day here in West Virginia. Those of you who live in Indiana and North Carolina get to vote today, as well. It's a hugely important day in NC, as Amendment One goes to the voters. There's no question I would be voting against it, if I lived in the Tarheel State. It's a bad bill, brought to the voters by overzealous (GOP) legislators who think it's just dandy to peek into your bedroom or crash your wedding reception.

They should mind their own business and quit effing around with the state Constitution.

We Mountaineers are 59 percent Democrat and 29 percent Republican, but you wouldn't know it looking at the last three Presidential elections. Only one Democrat Congressman (mine!) remains in the state. Of our two U.S. Senators, one is a solid Democrat with a lot of seniority (he's not up for re-election this cycle) and the other is a freshman moderate Dem (some call him a  DINO – Democrat In Name Only) hoping to be elected to his first full term in November. Our governor also is a DINO, and also is fighting for his first full term.

Manchin has some opposition, but she's not a serious threat. She is, in fact, to the right of Manchin on several key issues, and has been endorsed by West Virginians for Life. Until we learned that tidbit, my friends and I considered voting for her as a way to send a message to Manchin. In the end, though, we will hold our noses and put him on the November ballot.

Why do I say Primary Day is the second most important day of the year? Obviously because Election Day is the most important. We get to vote twice a year, and voting – particularly now that the Tea Party has highjacked Congress – is the most effective way to make a statement. Protesting feels good. I know, because I've done it. But if something else happens on the day of your protest, you're not even going to get 10 seconds on the evening news. And no one from your Congressman's office is out there counting heads at your rally.

They do count phone calls. They read letters and e-mails, and they answer them. They listen at town hall meetings and chicken dinners and county fairs. And if you think your vote doesn't count, think again.

If West Virginia's five – FIVE – electoral votes had gone for Gore instead of Bush in 2000, what a different country we'd be living in now. I take this very personally, and feel somewhat responsible.

Because I voted for Bush.

(I'm astonished, still, that local and state Democrats have trusted me with leadership positions at both levels, considering what an irresponsible voter I was then.)

Take time to vote today. Vote for Democrats, whether you like them or not. It's not a popularity contest, as I learned the hard way. It's the future of our country. The GOP is hell-bent on preserving the United States for the wealthy, for corporations, for themselves. They'll defend your rights from conception to birth and after that you just need to pull up your bootstraps and go to work, fercryinoutloud. Oh, and when you're 18 they'll strap a gun on you and send you to war, war, war.

This republic has survived for more than 200 years, but we're nearing the end of our life cycle if we don't turn it around now. If we elect Democrats – even DINOs – we can at least flood their offices with letters and phone calls urging them to represent Democratic values and platforms. If we don't …

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7 - Someone that inspires you

This is Sadie Chanlett-Avery, and her recent blog posts have been
hitting me hard. In the best way possible.

Too pretty to go to the gym

I'm heading out for a walk, a real, live, honest-to-goodness, intentional walk as soon as I hit the Publish button on this. I haven't walked for several days, but a nudge from a friend is getting me going.

Still working on whittling down my chore list. It's very satisfying to cross those items off. Yesterday I finished up the blackberries. I poked the canes through the fence so they'll grow UP instead of out, and found a few blossoms. I just hope the birds don't beat me to the fruit.

I work from noon to 4 today, so I'll have time to weed and mulch around the apple trees after my walk. One more crossed-off THING!

For Winnie, who asked if growing celery is hard: Yes it is, I've never gotten more than a few puny stalks from my attempts. I'm not sure what the secret is. But I keep trying anyway. My most successful "crops" are oregano and dill. Both have self-seeded for several years now. I have a long border of oregano along a brick sidewalk in front of the house and another very thick border next to the lattice enclosing the heat pump. I hope the clumps of both oregano and dill I moved to the herb garden do as well.

Garlic has always done well for me, too, but friends have had problems with bugs and too much moisture.  I make a semi-raised bed so and I don't plant them too deep, and have had great crops every year. Knock on wood that this year will be the same. I've never tried growing potatoes, since the farm where I bought the straw nearly always sells a 50-pound bag for about 10 bucks. I'd rather use my crop space for other stuff when I can buy local potatoes.

Wishing Jen and her husband well as they embark on their Live Below the Line experiment. The preparation alone sounds daunting. What I've taken away just reading about her preparations is that we take so much of our food for granted. And, of course, as she mentioned yesterday, the fill-you-up snack stuff is much cheaper than than the fill-you-up healthful fruits and vegetables. I wonder what they'll have for their first meal following the experiment? (I can legitimately opt out, as the experiment is not recommended for children or us old folks. But, as Jen points out, children living in poverty can't opt out.) I really admire her for doing this.

Okay, I'm off … if you follow me on Facebook, look for a taking-a-walk photo in the next hour or so. Thanks, as always, for reading!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6 - You

"You" is a very difficult concept for me to photograph these days.
I'd rather hide behind the lens than step in front of it. So I did!

Y'all are the BEST!

Not that I needed the validation or anything, but it was lovely to read your supportive and uplifting comments yesterday. It was, indeed, a down day, and those happen every once in a while. I made the best of it, and will continue to do everything I can to eat healthfully, move gracefully and with intention (doesn't that sound all yoga-y?) and shoo those negative thoughts from my mind. With your help, of course. THANK YOU.

After I published yesterday's post I went to the drugstore for generic Claritin and an allergy eye drop, to treat whatEVER the hell happened to my eye on Friday at the garden center. I was standing at the potting bench, moving petunia plugs into larger pots, when suddenly my right eye began swelling. It was quite dramatic, actually, everyone there noticed it. I washed it out with clear, cold water and hoped for the best, but that best wasn't good enough. I needed an anti-allergy arsenal, because whatever it was was quickly spreading to the left eye.

I've had eye "issues" before. A couple of times it has been too-much-sun-related, and I once ended up in an urgent care facility in Florida because of it. My glasses are the transition kind, and I try to wear a visor or a hat when I'm in the sun, but sometimes even that doesn't help.

But it wasn't a sun issue on Friday, it was probably just something in the air that decided to attack me. My eyes are still swollen and red this morning, but the loratidine is helping and I'm not sleeping the day away, as I would if I were taking Benadryl, which is the other thing the pharmacist recommended.

I spent yesterday afternoon crossing things off my long garden work list. I weeded the herb bed and planted lots of stuff in there, both plants and seeds. There's one empty "slice" of the circular pie, which I will fill with lavender and bee balm, I think. It still looks pretty raggedy; definitely not photo-worthy!

After I told a friend about all the straw we've collected lately, she asked, "What are you going to do with it?" Well, here's what I've done so far:

All the onions have been weeded and straw-mulched. What a huge job that was. I got the electric fence up around the vegetable garden Friday morning (and thinned the apples) and fenced the blackberries yesterday afternoon. Now I need to trim around them, add some cardboard and put down a thick layer of straw.

Then it's back to the big garden for more weeding/yoga (downward dog really is the best weeding pose) and, maybe, if the rains stay away, some major planting. In addition to the 48 Amish Paste plants I bought yesterday, I have some other tomato plants and a few peppers, along with cucumber, zucchini, edamame and Italian green been seeds. Oh, and this celery plant, which I hope will grow in the ground as well as it's grown in a dish on the kitchen counter. I'm always willing to try something new in the garden. I've planted celery before, but always new plants, never the root end of a bunch from the grocery.

We shall see … I think it's important to keep trying to grow my own celery, although I haven't had much luck so far. Celery is #2 in the dirty dozen, and Tiny Kroger rarely has organic celery in stock.

Time for breakfast, then time for work. And one last thank you before I go.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5 - Bird

I love this picture. Took it on a Florida beach while
visiting my dad a few years ago. It's now hanging in
the bathroom, since I don't really have a "beachy"
decorating scheme in the public part of the house.

I know I said it wasn't going to be about the struggle

Several days ago I wrote a sort of manifesto for my one thousandth post, some blather about moving on, escaping from the prison of food, I'm more than my weight, blah, blah, blah. I've been doing pretty well not bringing up the subject one way or the other.

But I gotta tell you, it's hard to not focus on something that gets in your way every. damned. day.

And it's especially hard when, now that I'm much more active than I've been all winter, the number on the scale is creeping upward.

I would have expected the opposite. Wouldn't you?

I recently ordered a couple nice pairs of capris in a size smaller than I wore last summer. Last summer's capris are very baggy and I'm constantly fussing with them. The new ones came, I tried them on, they were a little snug. But I thought to myself that it wouldn't take long before I'd be able to wear them comfortably. At the rate I'm going, it's going to take, um, forever.

So I'm discouraged this morning, and sad, because I don't want to think about my weight all the damned time, but my weight is holding me back from doing things – normal things, little things, things most people take for granted. Things like getting out of bed, which was very difficult to do this morning.

Not a good way to start a rainy weekend. Sorry for the backsliding attitude, but it's my blog and I'll cry/whine/bitch if I want to. (Plus, it's Saturday and not as many people will see it as if it were a weekday.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4 - Fun

Playing in the dirt is fun for all ages!. I potted
208 petunias in three hours this afternoon, after I
watered trees and shrubs for a couple hours.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love my job?

May the Fourth be with you …

Forty-two years ago, at about this time of the morning, I woke up in labor. Twelve hours later I was wheeled into an operating room, where my firstborn was delivered by C-section.

My dad, who was in the Ohio Air National Guard, was testing for his private pilot's license as I struggled to deliver his granddaughter. He also was on alert, due to the situation at Kent State that led up to the events of that day. (He was not called up for active duty, thankfully.)

I wasn't politically active at that time. Had I been, I might have been in Kent protesting Nixon's invasion of Cambodia. My life took a different turn and there I was, almost 19, a baby having a baby.

That baby, 42 years later, amazes me. She's raising two children, working full-time and going to law school. She's bright, witty, savvy, pretty, energized and organized. She's a good example for me and for everyone who knows her, especially those children.

Happy birthday, H!

I managed to incorporate quite a bit of yoga into my garden workout yesterday, but I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I wanted or needed to. I finished the mowing and trimming first, then grabbed a bucket and started pulling weeds in the strawberry and onion beds. It was dreadfully hot, and I became physically ill – dizzy, sick to my stomach, definitely dehydrated and overheated – and had to stop after about three hours.

After I recovered, I made a list of the outdoor chores I need to do before it's too late. And by "too late" I mean optimal planting time will have come and gone, and weeds will have taken over where mulching should have been done.

I was driving myself crazy trying to remember it all. At the tippy top of the list is the word FENCE. I don't have a permanent fence around the vegetable garden. I put up a battery-operated electric fence each year to keep the deer out. There are plenty of hoof prints out there already. It takes about an hour to plant the posts and string the wire, and it'll be very satisfying to cross that one off the list. I'm hoping there will be enough time (today's a work-at-Groundworks day) to put a short fence up for the blackberries, as well. And since one thing leads to another, I'd like to get those berries mulched while I'm out there.

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of my life. Once I get started, I can't seem to stop. As I've written previously, it's why I rarely sew – I want to start and finish a project all in one session. Gardening is a good thing for me to do, as it teaches me patience, Grasshopper, patience. And list-making is a good thing for me to do as well. The simple act of reading it shows me it's impossible to get everything done at once.

I wonder how I ever came to love knitting as much as I do. I don't write about it much because how much is there to say about endless rows of blue stockinette stitch? I'm a couple inches into the longest section of the second half. A summer's worth of Mad Men should wrap it up. Something to look forward to!

This post has certainly been a long and winding road, hasn't it? Birthing, protesting, violence, illness, gardening, knitting, you name it. Something for everyone – I'm the gift that keeps on giving! Heh.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3 - Something You Wore Today

Good old Crocs. The most comfortable (and, possibly, the ugliest) shoe
in my closet. Perfect for gardening!

A typical – and an atypical – day

I pinned this to Pinterest the other day:

And this is what I wrote about it:
Actually, here's a list of what my husband thinks I should do most days (he thinks I overextend myself). Wonder what he'd think if I actually DID nothing all day?!

He really does tell me I need to slow down, take a day off, just do nothing all day (mostly because that's what he does all day. Mostly.)

Well, spring has sprung and there's much to do. My typical day starts around 6 a.m., which is my natural get-up time. I let the dog out, make coffee, fire up the computer, check e-mail, Facebook and Pinterest, write to both of you and then read what y'all have written. Then I either go to work at the garden center (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) or go to work here at home.

If I work at the garden center, I still have to get something out for dinner, pack a lunch, throw a load of laundry in, and wipe down the bathroom and the kitchen sink before I leave. Work means getting my hands dirty, lots of lifting (of flats, trees, plants), loading and unloading orders either into cars or off of trucks and, of course, getting to be right in the middle of the most beautiful spot in Summers County, West Virginia.

Work at home includes housework, of course, gardening (tilling, planting, weeding, mulching), yardwork (mowing, raking, weed-whacking), freelance graphic design work, Democratic Women's club duties and, if necessary, grocery shopping, paying bills, cleaning out the car/garage/shed/whatever. We're done with dinner around 6, and I can usually stay up until 8 (Jeopardy comes on at 7:30 here), after which I play a couple games of Scrabble on the Nook, or read three pages of a magazine or book, and then it's lights out.

Yesterday was a most atypical – and fun! – day. We were busy, busy, busy at the garden center. We had to move lots of things around in order to make room for three new orders, all of which arrived within an hour. During the time we were unloading and stocking those plants, we sold a bunch more. My work day ends at 4, and by 5 my husband and I were floating down the Greenbrier River with most of the Groundworks crew. The birthday girl, whose cake I made Tuesday, requested a float followed by a cookout to celebrate her day.

I wish, wish, wish I could have taken photos while we were in the rapids. I was nervous pulling my plastic-bag-protected phone from a buttoned pocket to snap a couple of tranquil shots. The two-mile trip involved very little paddling, because the water level is high right now and the current was running. There are three sets of rapids (one of the grandchildren calls them "rabbits"), each of which left us breathless from laughing so hard.

After the river trip we went to the birthday girl's beautiful home for a cookout. And dessert. In addition to my cake and cupcakes, someone else had brought a lemon cornmeal cake with blueberry filling. Oh. My. Goodness.

Food tastes fabulous when you're hungry, and we all agreed the elk and/or beef/venison burgers, fresh asparagus, cornmeal-stuffed peppers and bean salad was the best meal ever. Tucking into dessert is extremely atypical for me, but yesterday was atypically active, so I think I made up for it.

And besides … who's counting? I'm probably in the last third of my life and I don't want to spend these years should-I-or-shouldn't-I-ing. I want to move and play and enjoy each day. I'm so fortunate that most of my work is also fun.

Thanks for your comments yesterday. I found a yoga video on Netflix called Yoga for Aches and Pains. Most of the practice was done standing or sitting in a chair. I chose to do the chair poses on the mat instead. It was gentle and not difficult at all. I finished up with a YouTube sun salutation, which is so hard for me. I can't jump back from a forward bend into plank, and I always feel awkward and heavy making the effort. I think next time I'll start with the sun salutations and finish with something that makes me feel more graceful. For today, though, I think I'll mow. And do laundry. And weed the flower beds. (I can do a lot of downward dog poses weeding flower beds!) And hopefully find time for a walk.