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October 23, 2015

Good Grief

Such a long time to be away. Away from this blog away, not on vacation away.

So what's been happening?

Some of you may know that dear Alice died in August, two days past her 100th birthday.
I'm so happy I had the pleasure of meeting her (and Andrea) last summer, and participated in a rose stealing caper with Andrea. It's funny how you can miss someone you only met in person once. Except Andrea's blog helped her readers all over the world know Alice (and Andrea) in a very real way.

The season(s) of grieving is upon us.

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My little French Canadian (made in Quebec) Corolla, Blanche, went to the [car] farm the beginning of October. She was of an age where things needed replacing to the tune of $300 - $500 a pop and that loathsome sunroof started leaking AGAIN (second time in 2 years), an issue that was never going away. I'm not ashamed to say I shed a tear or three.
Blanche was my first new car. She was extremely reliable (the Corolla was the best selling car in the world in 2003.) and we spent many miles on the road back and forth to Florida. She was very vanilla though - I can't tell you how many times I tried to get in other people's cars thinking it was her.

Toyota was having very very very good deals on 2015 Prius'...and thus Hermione came to be:

Prius C in Electric Lime Metallic - she stands out in the parking lot

Hermione is the feminine of Hermes, a Greek god associated with speed and good luck, who served as a messenger to Zeus and the other gods. He was also the patron of travelers, writers, athletes, merchants, thieves, and orators. (interesting mix of patronees there, Hermes)

Hermione does NOT have a sunroof.


Cars tell me their names, but I retain veto rights. I now check the meaning of names, because of the Ford Tempo who told me her name was Matilda. Matilda means battle maiden (or strength in battle) AND great strife - which is what she was. So. Many. Dollars. Of strife.
I suppose she did tell me what I was in for. Heh.
 
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I've been thinking about friendship and my INFJness lately.
(check out https://instagram.com/introvertdoodles)

http://www.madebymarzipan.com/?tutorial=how-to-torture-an-introvert

Someone recently dumped me because I was not immediately forthcoming about my birth date (they were told middle of the month and O.W., so technically...). I spent a few days perusing the friendship handbook to find where one is obligated to disclose that information. Didn't find it.

People love to use this: "...there is a place where it’s about others getting to express affection for you..."  Except...that sounds like it's about you, not me. (it also sounds controlling and makes me want to go far away). In regards to parties of the natal kind, let's just say it's super hard for me to be gracious about things I don't want to happen in the first place. (In case that's too subtle for some: I do not like parties, birthday or otherwise disguised.) Then I feel like an ungracious, shitty friend. And no one's happy.


So, you know, thanks, but no thanks. (See also #sorrynotsorry.)

If you have the key, you are one of the chosen few.

Ugh. Introvert problems.

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What else?
It's FALL! I turned on the heat the other night. Really didn't want to do that until November, but it was almost down to freezing a couple of nights.

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Next week is Bat Awareness Week. Bats are pollinators too. So, please, give a shit about bats.

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Check out this cool kids introduction to code book on Kickstarter (I'm a backer):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1164329758/the-wonderful-world-of-creatures-and-code/description

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Guess that's all for now. See you in a couple of months.

August 12, 2015

August is a Tired Month


There's an exhaustion to August; every single thing seems OVER it.
Even saying it involves an exhalation.

The giddy delight of June is past: being out of school (when that was applicable to one's self), staying up and sleeping in late; the newness of the summer heat, drying out the dampness of April and May; the fresh tree greens all colored in, the pollen washed away. Tender sprouts of the garden unfolding into promise.

The festiveness of July is complete: the fireworks of the 4th; summer vacations starting to kick in for real. There's fresh tomatoes (with too much mayonnaise!) and corn on the cob, cook-outs, hikes, swimming in the quarry.

Now, in this third month of summer, the verdant is long past. The sigh of August brings dusty dry grayish leaves; the Echinacea flowers have turned black, their textural cones drying into lethal spikes that would not look out of place in the Addams family's yard (leave them - the goldfinches will come); the oregano has gone to seed, and the tomatoes are on their last leg. School is starting, bringing traffic, the search for parking, and mobs of barely clothed freshmen taking up all the tables at your favorite restaurant(s).

We are fatigued by the relentlessness heat, the dripping humidity, the shrill of cicadas, the constant whir of ceiling fans. And frankly August, we tire of linen.

We long for sweaters and scarves and chili.
Hurry, September.

July 26, 2015

More of The Same

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I guess.

A while ago I found a roll of Mom's film in the box of old pictures. By "a while ago", I mean a couple of years. Last month I finally took it to be developed (first I had to find a place that still did that kind of old fashioned thing). CVS [drugstore] did; it was dropped off. Retrieved it Friday and it was a total bust. I'm not sure if it was ever processed (as in pictures taken), or whether they fucked it up. No way of knowing.
It was surprisingly disappointing as it held the possibility of being one last glimpse of her.

I need a dental implant. The tooth that was giving trouble right before I went to the wedding cracked (or was cracked and that's why it was bugging me) and there is no repairing it. We have a school of dentistry at UNC and I will be going there (sorry Dr. K., you're fabulous, but this is a third of the cost.). My dental insurance only pays (no where near the whole cost) for one implant  ONCE a lifetime. I am a bit nervous about the whole thing.

Still antsy. Still judging my life by others and finding myself soooooo boring. I know - stop doing that. Whatever.
Do you do this: while watching a movie, think on all the actiony things the actors had to learn for the role and think how afraid you are to do them? Guess acting's out of my career possibilities, eh? When did I get so afraid of everything?

Speaking of ants, they are FINALLY waning. Bought liquid ant traps at Home Depot and they seem to be doing the trick.

Oscar Wilde (the cat, not the man) is upping his peeing on random things behavior. It's intermittent, not like when he had that whatever it was a couple of years ago, when he had to go a lot. This is just asshole behavior. He's peeing on stuff he never peed on before, like the blanket he sleeps on all the time or the pillow in the chair in my room, or the rug in the guest bathroom. He even tried to pee on the bamboo rug I put in there, thinking it was safe. It is seriously pissing (heh) me off.

The stupid state of NC requires cats to have a yearly rabies shot. This in spite of them being indoor cats and mostly likely the first rabies shot they had is still active. But the titer test (tests if vaccine is active) is so expensive that it's cheaper to vaccinate them again. And now the regular vet is requiring a current rabies test before they will trim their nails. Lillie has a two day reaction every time she has a shot. Granted she is quiet for two days, but I hate that the reason is she feels bad.
Anyway, this year Oscar and Lillie are getting the 3 year rabies vaccine; they've found a slightly higher incident of cancer with the 3 year, but they are 15+ and 13. Frankly with the amount of stress it causes them us, even with the mobile vet coming to the house, it's worth the trade off. She is a schosh cheaper; the regular vet requires a "wellness" check-up before they will administer shots and they always want to do a senior panel on Oscar (probably Lillie now too) and I'm not going to do it (then you get the horrible pet owner look. You evil vile person. We're calling PETA now.). They're going to live out their kitty lives without that.

Okay, I'm done boring you for the time being.





July 19, 2015

This and That

I feel antsy. On the flip side, my enthusiasm for any damn thing is sorely lacking. Is this a summer thing?
Has the heat just sucked the life from me and the antsy is from wanting to move to some cooler clime? 

A friend from my former work out place has a glioblastoma. People do survive them, but I have not known any of them (personal experience with two people + two friend's fathers + Ted Kennedy). I'd LOVE to be absolutely wrong on this one. Two things in his favor are his age (33) and being in extremely good shape.

And dear Alice is in hospice. Sigh.

Wish this was more cheery. Well, let's try, shall we?

Recently discovered e-cloth products. They really do what they say they do - clean using just water. Windows: wet cloth cleans, dry cloth dries streak free. The mop works as well and with less hassle than the steam cleaner and again, streak free (the cats are all scared to death of this silent bringer-of-danger. Too funny). The e-cloth for eyeglasses: MUCH better than the microfiber cloths that come with your glasses - no smearing. The general cleaning cloth works fantastic on bathroom sinks, the inside of the microwave, the outside of the dishwasher and fridge, and the inside oven window. The dust cloth: I swear things stay dust free longer. So the Swiffer products are out (e-cloths are good for at least 300 washes). Also many of the cloths are multi-purpose. You don't have to get all crazy like me. The best part - all with a minimally amount of elbow grease on my part. Dudes, I am lazy.

Okay, I'm semi-enthused about something.

Less than enthusiastic about insects:
Ants! The ants have been awful this year, I can't seem to get rid of them. Usually they make an appearance for a few days, maybe a week. But this year - months of them!
One thing that kills them instantly (but sadly does not prevent a repeat performance) is Biokleen's Bac-Out Stain and Oder Remover. I mean they are dead immediately. Yesterday I bought some diatomaceous earth to sprinkle around the doors and windows. And this morning there were still ants. Ergh. (wonder if there's a connection to my being antsy...)

Also a first this year, a cockroach! I have a plastic one the cats like to scoot around (found it in my bedroom a few weeks ago - scared the shit out of me), but the other night there was a real one. Ewwwww. I do not miss that about Florida.

And I had a yellow jacket nest in the yard. Y'all know how I feel about those. Poor Wesley, the lawn guy, discovered it and got stung in the back of the head for his trouble. The next day a friend's husband came and dispatched it. I still eye the tree warily when I pull in. (it was in the base of the tree right next to my driveway)

I've been on a shrub making kick; shrubs are vinegar based drinks. I've made blackberry/raspberry, cherry lime vanilla, peach ginger, and there's a blueberry "cooking". The blackberry/raspberry was my favorite so far (it went with prosecco really well). There seem to be two schools of thought on the method: one is letting the fruit and sugar blend in the fridge (actually the counter, but ANTS!) for a week or more before straining and adding vinegar. The other is adding all the ingredients at once and letting them sit for 4-5 weeks. The second method seems to overwhelm the flavor of the fruit.
The basic recipe is 2 cups fruit to 1 cup each of sugar and vinegar. I back off the sugar some, especially with sweeter fruits like peaches and cherries. Dilute your finished product with  water (sparkling or otherwise) to taste. Alcohol works too (see above).
You can use whatever vinegar suits your fancy; I've been using apple cider (with the Mother). A strawberry lavender with balsamic vinegar sounds delicious. Hmmm, might have to try that.

Well, that's it for now. Stay cool, kids.

June 14, 2015

Sock Monkey Goes to THE Wedding

Four months I've neglected this poor blog. But enough of that.
Let me sum up...

The day before I left I had a toothache and my AC quit working. An emergency visit to dentist and a call to my HVAC friend T.B. put it all to rights. Thanks to T.B. for putting in a new fan on Tuesday (who would not tell me how much it cost! That got him a case of champagne), so the poor cats and sitter did not die of heat stroke while I was gone.

I left Durham for the wilds of Oregon and Washington on Tuesday, June 2 and right off the bat the joys of traveling presented themselves - my flight to Chicago was canceled before I even arrived at the airport. (random trivia - did you know the list of passengers is called the "soul list"?)
United did a good job of recovering, putting me on an American flight to DFW, then Alaska to PDX and gave me $14 worth of food vouchers to boot. Alaska Airlines was so great I sighed up for their mileage program. The 20 minute baggage guarantee was the clincher; I think it was less than 10 minutes before I was flying out the door to catch the shuttle to Salem. All in all, I was only 2 hours behind my original schedule. Not bad.

Thursday my sister and I headed up to Lyle, Washington, the nearest town to High Prairie. Beautiful day with amazing scenery along the Columbia gorge, watching all those crazy windsurfers.

After stopping in at the amazing cabin of our hosts for directions (follow the mowed path, turn right at the bluebird house), we arrived at our home away from home, a fantastic tricked out yurt (complete with icemaker!), with spectacular views of Mt. Adams and the tip of Mt. Hood, kindly loaned to us by a neighbor of the bride's parents.

Glamping at its highest level
Mt. Adams from the yurt deck

At night the skylight was full of stars
I could get used to that place. So quiet, nothing but the sound of insects and birds (wild turkeys!).

After oohing and aahing whist examining all the nooks and crannies of our lodging, we headed down to the big house, about a 10 minute stroll through the fields, to meet the rest of the family.
Much laughing was done on that front porch

Afternoon shadows on the goat barn

The Boy, The Most High Unicorn, and the Maid of Honor have a moment


Friday saw all of us hard at work - sorting through grasses and flowers gathered by aunts, friends, and cousins, filling vases with water, hanging bistro and fairy lights, sweeping, food prep, and a bunch of other stuff I've already forgotten.

More people arrived throughout the day - The Boy's almost step mother, who I hadn't seen since his sixth grade graduation (she is wonderful); his friend from Reno who came with a broken wrist because she didn't have time to set it before leaving (she broke it the night before playing softball); childhood friends; former neighbors; travel companions. There was laughing and hugging and meeting of old and new friends.

Cousin, aunt, and mother of the bride doing flower prep in the hay barn


Some finished vases lining the barn walls

Flower prep area still life

Daughter and mom hard at work with flower prep

MOB
Let me take a second to heap accolades on the Mother of The Bride. She planned for months and months - sorting out where people were staying, making arrangements, shopping for food, and any and every other detail that needed to happen. She did a spectacular job. Really, there are not enough words of praise.

At night we sat on the porch and laughed so hard The Boy bruised a rib. I may have spewed my hard cider, but just once. There were some funny, funny people there, one of whom was my sister (pretty AND funny!).

Saturday, the day of the wedding, dawned sunny, cloudless, with a lovely breeze, and thankfully 10 degrees cooler than was forecast. We did more prep in the morning and early afternoon - setting the tables for the reception, arranging flowers and rocks (from the couple's rock hounding obsession).

Everyone's labor of love

After getting dressed in our wedding finery, my sister and I missed a critical turn on the way down from the yurt which necessitated an approximately mile long very, very, very painfully slow backup up a hill in The Most High Unicorn's rental car.
I watched the minutes fly by while thinking on the extremely bad form it would be for the mother of the groom to be the reason the wedding started late, but we made it in time.
And I only freaked out a little bit.

The wedding party ladies received this beautiful silk scarf from the couple:


The men had ties with the same design.

We clambered on to our transport to the wedding site (thank god for that ladder):
That's me standing on the far left
Our awesome driver, cousin of the bride (I love her so much)

Mt. Adams from the "altar"

Altar flower close up
The wedding venue
The wedding music was the theme song from "The Princess Bride". The officiant, The Most High Unicorn, did the entire bit from the movie exactly like Peter Cook before launching into the vow portion.

 Mwarriage

Ring exchange. The rings were made by a New Zealand artist, Ash Hilton,
of reclaimed ethical gold and recycled stones.
The married couple


The Boy cried. The best man had to get him a Kleenex, which I happened to have. My eyes welled up but did not spill over, I'm happy to report, because people, I am not a pretty crier.

Cousin, father, mother of bride, and the ecstatic couple
The bride and groom and me

The Boy and his dad
Three gorgeous ladies: the bride, her aunt, and her cousin
Goat barn through flower vases
Tucking into a strawberry cupcake
The reception was wonderful; many people said lovely words and made people cry. There was much good food. And company. And cake (who suffered a wee accident traveling on the washboard roads). And cupcakes (lemon pistachio and strawberry cream cheese).
A toast!

After dark, we wandered off to our beds, full of love and good cheer.

The next day we headed down to the big house one last time to say our goodbyes. Phone numbers, emails, business cards, and hugs were exchanged in large numbers.

Sadly, there was one causality right before we left; the sweet little farm dog Zoe, was bit on the face by a rattlesnake. She is making a good recovery and hopefully will have little to no nerve/tissue damage. (You could say a wee prayer to the dog gods for her if so inclined)

Doesn't know she was bred to be a lap dog

The rest of the week I spent with my sister and brother in law, wandering around Silverton, Corvallis, and Salem.

I dropped quite a bit of cash in the Lunaria Gallery in Silverton after lunch at Mac's Place. 

Our table view at Mac's

Corvallis was great. Vibrant downtown. Much shopping was fueled by a huge breakfast at The Broken Yolk.

Got to hang out for a few hours with my niece, her kidlets, and chickens.

Urban chickens
It was a great trip. Full of family, friends, and lots of laughter.

(photo credits: B.Q., S.K., R.C., L.C., me, and probably many others)




February 17, 2015

It's ALIVE! And Other Thoughts

As full as my head is of thoughts, how is it I get here so rarely anymore to write them down?

Lazy, I suppose.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

December - January was tough. Full of the sadness. Self loathing. Self destruction. Some years grief decides to kick one upside the head. It sure did this past year, starting in October. There were about six people in the entire world that I could stand to be around for longer than a minute. Mostly they were the ones who just let me be.

Yeah. Pretty much.

You know how people look when they walk into a spider web? The flailing desperate attempts to GET IT OFF? That's how I felt - about people.
Deactivated Facebook for a time and when I came back, I deleted 70 plus people. From high school. That I knew 23 years ago and with whom I no longer have anything in common. Friends of friends of friends. Children of friends. Friends of my parents. People who love the Second Amendment or whatever that gun one is. People who were virulent about any position on any damn thing. You're welcome to think that way (I hold those types of positions on some things myself and have probably been defriended because of them), but frankly my dears, you made me tired.



And you know what? When the purge was done, I felt relieved.

The ascent out of The Pit of Despair is now well under way.

In other news, through Ancestry and DNA, there's a new cousin, Trudy. We are fourth cousins, once removed. Her husband is experiencing some memory impairment and she has started a blog:
The Slings and Arrows of Life. It's good. Check it out.

Today is a snow day. Actually more of an ice slush day.



The poor people in Boston (and New Hampshire and Maine) - I can hear their eyes rolling back in their heads from here.

In other news, I MIGHT be going to Burning Man. MIGHT. Already missed the first registration. But just completed the volunteer application in the tradition of positive thinking.

OH! The Boy and The Girl are getting married in June. My sister is my plus-one. We're super excited because we're staying in a yurt. (it's surprising at how many people don't know what a yurt is.)

I think that's enough summing up for now.