Monthly Archives: June 2013

My big, bloggy excuse

There’s supposed to be a blog post here about shaving cream and toilet paper complemented with more of my homemade pictures. You’ll note that this is not that post.

There’s a reason: We don’t have internet in our house.

Not even joking.

No, no, we’re not part of a cult and we’re not being all wholesome and this isn’t a sociology experiment, though you’d suspect otherwise if you also knew we don’t have cell phones (well, ok, we have pre-paid phones but we only put deposits in them when one of us will be away from home for an extended period of time). We don’t have television programming, either. We have a TV, never fear, but we only use it to watch DVDs. It’s like we’re Amish. Or stuck in 1986. Scratch that, the Amish have smart phones so they’re way ahead of us.

Not having the internet in the house is mostly fine by me because I’m on it all day at work and I don’t really miss it at home except when the world is burning down around me and I want to follow its progress on Twitter. Anyhow, I have a fine work around for my blog-making: I’ve got a tablet and it has the WordPress app so I can build an entire post, edit it throughout the week, then go to work and it will upload itself via the magic of wifi. Seriously, people, that’s how I’ve been doing it this whole time. Because I’m quite clever and resourceful (and internetless)

Only now there’s a glitch. As I whined in my last post, I’m working out of a warehouse for the summer during spatial renovations. Those left behind call our place Camp Perry. Those of us in the trenches call it The Gulag. It’s not ideal, as far as working conditions for 40-some people go, but it’s not as bad as it could be, either. Except you know what? The magic of wifi does not exist out here in the little Warehouse On the Prairie.

Last week, I left work and went to sit in the patron part of the library in order to get my post to upload. I tweaked it from there and all was well. This week, however, I can’t go to the library after work because I have plans each night. I will not have a chance to beam my brilliance from the tablet to the interworlds and so, instead, I’m using my break to write this quick, off-the-cuff post explaining why there’s nothing awesome to look at today.

Now you know. And knowledge is power and it is also the winning of half the battle (the other half, as we all know, is not getting killed)

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Burning churning (and cussing)

I’m going to use this space to whine and I’m whining about First World Problems as well as about things that didn’t actually hurt me. It’s almost like I’m clamoring for attention and, on some level, I probably am. I’m beginning to feel a tad traumatized, though, even if my problems are exceedingly minor.

I hate this month. Not the month of June, per se, but the month of June 2013. It started with moving to a warehouse for work while our workspace is renovated. We’re in cramped quarters with psychotic temperature control going on. We’re trying to maintain grace and good humor but I suck at both so I’m failing already. It’s only been two weeks and a couple of days. We’ve got another 3.5 months to go.

My lawnmower broke. We bought a refurbished one last year from Sears and got a service agreement for it that was supposed to allow us to have any problems fixed until 2014. We’d pay $49.95 for whatever problem arose and the rest would be covered. I thought that wasn’t a bad deal. Plus, the guy who sold us this thing told us we’d be able to get it maintenanced under the agreement. Well, come this summer when we finally got around to mowing our redneck yard, the mower wouldn’t start. I had Gabe call Sears and he got a run around so we marched the mower down to the store where we got it. That was a fiasco in itself but finally the guy working our case (yes, I called it a “case”) found the information he needed and reiterated that we’d have to pay $50 if it was more than just general maintenance but after that, the rest would be covered under our service agreement. Turns out, we were all misinformed because the actual technicians called to say that the mower needed a tune-up and the blades needed sharpening and it would be $116. I lost it. The mower is coming back to us, unfixed, and I am going to sever ties with Sears because I am really tired of their bullshit. I loved them once, but I have outgrown them and their crappy service and lousy merchandise so it is time to break up. I am thinking of writing them a strongly worded letter, in addition. That’s how mad I am.

And then I was attacked by something poisonous that has left bubbling blisters on the inside of my forearm. They (the blisters) itch and burn and hurt and ooze and are super gross. I thought it was stinging nettle since I’ve had a run in with that stuff before but then it got much worse than nettle ever did and both Chris and my mom feel I poison ivy’ed/sumac’ed/oak’ed myself. Yay me. No, I’m not going to spend $40 to get a shot when I can spend $10 on over-the-counter medicines and just deal with it. You know, like my ancestors did. Because I’m tough like that. And also, in pain. And whiny.

No, no, I would never hide my grossness from you. This is just one of several blisters. This one is healing and can stay out during the day but the others have to be covered so I don’t ooze on (and potentially stick to) my desk or clothing.

Then the washing machine broke, the one that washes clothing and takes all the stains and pet hair and poisonous plant oils from my shirts and capris. Of course, this happened when our friends were kicked out of their house by wildfire and came to stay with us.

“Wait, what?” you ask.

I think I’ve mentioned that I live in Colorado? Yes, well, here in Colorado, our new summertime activity is BURNING DOWN FORESTLAND. It’s not like it’s something we work at doing, though maybe some of us do. Last year, the Waldo Canyon fire ate the homes of two friends and lots of others while we were at a conference in California. It was terrifying to be away from home while our town was in pre-evacuation. I was making calls to my mom and Bedot, asking them to please save the cats and the heirloom cactus (it’s over 100 years old, says family legend) and getting calls from Chris about how the fire just flowed down the entire mountainside and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I was crying at the restaurant table during Gabe’s birthday dinner. It was bad. Thankfully, our town was fine if not somewhat rattled.

This year, we’re dealing with the Black Forest fire and we’re here to experience it firsthand since it’s right down the road. Many of our friends and family were evacuated and I don’t know which ones lost their…well, most everything…yet. Gabe and I have discussed which is worse: To be home and watch it creeping around, getting closer, threatening people you love OR to be far away, worrying, letting your imagination fill in the blanks? We still haven’t come to a conclusion. Both scenarios suck. Thankfully, this one is on its way out, thanks to cooperating weather and a million bazillion fire fighting heroes.

On my way home the first evening of the fire, I could see it rising from behind some bluffs which was alarming considering how far away it was from this vantage point.

On my way to evacuate my BFF’s house (she was away on vacation) I was headed straight for the fire. I was a bit worried it would be right there when I crested the hill but thankfully, it never made it into her development.

One content refugee

Frustrated evacuees, not happy to be leaving their home with a stranger.

The neat thing about tragedy is the human response is often overwhelmingly loving. Of course there are the jackassholes who will probably writhe in some sort of hell (if there’s an afterlife) for their assholeyness (I’m looking at you, Westboro Baptist and at you, looters) but my community as well as communities up and down the Front Range have come together again to hold each other up. It’s beautiful to watch, much like the horrible fire itself, and it makes you wonder if the beauty is enhanced by the tragedy or if the tragedy causes the beauty. Either way, I’m proud of my people, I’m happy for my friends who have been able to return to their homes, and I worry about all those who lost theirs.

Finally, I don’t want any more shit from this month. DO YOU HEAR ME, JUNE? Knock it off, already.

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Plastic teepees, they’re all the rage

Tomato cages may be the most useful invention since the wheel. They are so versatile. For instance, I’ve used them for Halloween decorations: Witches and the invisible body that holds the floating skull to name a couple. In May, I used them to make teepees and I’ve also put 2 cages in the garden for the snow peas to climb. See? Versatile.

Let me talk a bit about those teepees. Even though it was too early, I bought some adorable baby tomato plants – one Siberian and one Czechloslavakian…you know, because Colorado is just like Siberia or the Czech Republic – and put them in pots. Then I thought, “Well, while it’s probably not going to frost again for real, it could still get pretty cold at night. Cold nights are bad for tomatoes. And they’ve been living in a greenhouse all this time. I should use the plastic from the hoophouse and cover them somehow. But how? I need to keep the plastic where it is in case of hail but I don’t want to put the tomatoes over by the straw bale garden because they need all sun all day.” These are the types of conversations I have in my head. I thought about it a bit and remembered I’d inherited a few tomato cages last year. Now, a normal person would plant the tomato cage in the pot like it’s supposed to be. But I’m an abnormal person and I upended the cages so the legs were sticking up in the air and the top was circling the tomato plant. Then I retrieved the leftover roll of plastic and cut off two strips which I wound around each cage and pot essentially making teepees. I mean, think about it- an upside down tomato cage is nothing but a teepee frame, right?

Because I’m white trash, I had to do it the white trash way, not the Better Homes and Gardens way. Lest you think less of me, I’d like to remind you that I’m classy white trash. I did NOT use duct tape. No. I used electrical tape to secure the plastic to the frame and also to the rest of the plastic and that will keep it from blowing away and becoming litter. Success! Tiny plastic teepees wrap the tomatoes in warmth and love. But I didn’t stop there. It started getting cold out and as we all know, heat rises. I was worried that the heat that had accumulated in the little teepees would rise and escape out through the open tops. I cut another two pieces of plastic, this time little rectangles, and I jammed them down the legs until they covered the openings and thus a vent was made. I can pull the rectangles all the way down and cover the top hole or I can raise them a bit to let the heat out. I am some sort of redneck genius. The neat thing is while they looked like garbage (literally) before the vents, now they look like little ghost nuns floating around my yard. It’s actually pretty cool. I might have to keep them after harvest season and use them in the yard for Halloween props.

See what you can do with a little plastic and a tomato cage? Instant teepee!

See what you can do with a little plastic and a tomato cage? Instant teepee!

I like electrical tape because it's black and goes with everything.

I like electrical tape because it’s black and goes with everything.

After only 15 minutes, it was already noticably warmer in this teepee. Also, it smelled really good in here, all earthy and tomatoey.

After only 15 minutes, it was already noticably warmer in this teepee. Also, it smelled really good in here, all earthy and tomatoey.

So, here’s what happened next: the teepees blew off in a wind/hailstorm but Gabe got them back on. I secured them and let the babies sit in their new homes for another week, or so, then hardened them off. Now they’re livin’ in the wild, sans protection, but they’re covered in flowers and are already beginning to produce. They’re way ahead of other tomato plants in the hood so I believe that, though they were…ahem…not artistic or beautiful, the plastic teepees worked, thanks be to tomato cages, plastic, and tape.

Our first Czechoslovakian tomato. There are blossoms all over this plant! The teepee worked!

Our first Czechoslovakian tomato. There are blossoms all over this plant! The teepee worked!

Here's the Siberian tomato. It has fewer blossoms but does have a baby tomato growing, too. Hooray!

Here’s the Siberian tomato. It has fewer blossoms but does have a baby tomato growing, too. Hooray!

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In the moment – a surprise post

I got too hot sitting in the sun so I took my book and moved to the shade. Now I sit in a corral made of large branches from a dead cottonwood. I’m facing west. I’ve removed my shoes and socks so my toes can dig in the grass, into the earth. I hear the chickens clucking; they’ll be going to bed soon. I hear a mourning dove. It makes its Whooo-hoooo…coooo, cooooo, cooooo noise. There’s a lark somewhere far to my left. The Stupid Dove (Asian? Eurasian? The ones with the band around their throats and that sound like they were raised by crows because of the way the coo-squawk. Squkwoowk, I guess. They sound like idiots) is squkwooking behind me, looking for its mate.
The sun is descending, falling through the leaves and branches of the giant, wild willow. It looks like a cottonwood, too, but has willow leaves. The garden is growing; I can see the rhubarb from here. It’s beginning to bolt. The hops are creeping up their trellis and the robins hop around lunging at the ground for bugs. There are little black birds with beady eyes and yellow beaks, too. They are more serious than the robins who seem to enjoy the evening as much as I. Beyond the trees that line the creek, the trees whose leaves sparkle in the sun because it rained earlier today, the hill rolls tumblingly up to the rainclouds on the horizon. The clouds are lit by the sun behind them, giving them a golden glow around the edges.
Something has grabbed my attention. On the other side of the corral, the grass wiggles. I watch long enough to see that it’s a mouse, a cute mouse. It doesn’t know I’m here. I watch while I type and it nibbles at … I can’t see what it nibbles, but I see it pause, poke its head above the grass and look around. The dog comes close so the mouse stands still. That is wise as the dog loves little creatures. She wants to hug them and lick them and play with them and take them home and call them “George.” Mostly, though, she catches them and gives them heart attacks and then carries their little dead bodies around, hoping they can be friends if she’s just patient enough. The mouse still has not moved. It knows better. It must be an old mouse. Wait, now it inches its way down the streambank, slowly. I only see it because I’ve been watching. It is going to the rocks where it will be safe.
More robins congregate on the lawn, some chirp from the tree. Across the green, the Peak peeks. It looks like it has lost its snow but I know it’s still covered; I saw it this morning and there was more white than blue. This is just a trick of the afternoon light.
This is a lovely moment. The smell of grass and fresh air. I smell lilacs but that can’t be, as there are none nearby, not that I know of, at any rate. It’s warm – the high sixties at least which is funny since it started out so cold this morning, perhaps in the 40’s? Low 50’s at the most.

I want to remember this moment forever, this evening on an early summer day. I wish I could give it to everyone I meet, I think it would bring peace to many. This is the best I can do, writing about it, sharing pictures. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will help me remember later.

image

image

Disclosure: This is my version of Stream of Consciousness-style writing. I’ve only edited spelling mistakes. Also, I had to go into the house to post it because the internet didn’t reach all the way out there.

THE NEXT DAY, an edit:  While I was washing the breakfast dishes and looking out the kitchen window, I saw the lilacs. They’re surrounding my car. I’d been sitting by them earlier. I’ve always known they’re there and they’re still blooming so obviously, I was in some other state brought about by peacefulness yesterday when I said there were no lilacs nearby.

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Morning conversation with animals

I’m all out of fresh and wonderful topics on which to post so…I’m cheating and taking a story from the Notes section on my Facebook page. It’s a true story, one that delights Little B every time she reads it. It’s a tale of my petsitting adventures and as housesitting season is upon us, I think this will be timely.

Transcript from early morning hours of August 2, 2011
All participants are in the bedroom with three participants on the bed

3:00 am

Doug: I am Douglas the Great Explorer and I hereby claim this land mass as my own!

Me: Doug! What are you DOING?

Doug: I am exploring and I name this land mass – which I found all by myself – after me. It will heretofore be called DougLandia!

Me: Doug, that’s my chest. Get off! You’re leaving dents in my sternum with your pointy little cat feet. OFF!
I feebly shove Doug off my chest because it’s 3 in the damn morning and I have no strength after being rudely woken from a sound sleep

Max (using a terrible French accent): Oh ho ho, Doog-lass! Zees eez my prop-pair-tee and has been so seence long before you came heer as an eensolent whelp, you eensolent whelp!

Doug: Have you claimed it as your own? Have you named it? Huh? Well, have you?

Max (with same terrible French accent): Zees eez not for you to qwest-ee-on! Eet eez time for us to duel!

Doug: I will fight you!
Doug reclaims his territory and Max, who has claimed the head and shoulders portion of my person, readies for combat. They both open their mouths and begin to slap at each other’s faces. The open mouths attempt to bite the incoming batting paws.

Me: What THE HELL?? Stop fighting on top of me! I am TRYING to SLEEP! Get…OFF!
Both cats are tossed off the bed. Silence resumes.

3:15 am

Maya: *slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp*

Me (so tired. so not amused): Maya. What are you doing?

Maya: Taking a bath.

Me: It’s 3:15 in the morning. It’s still dark out. Why are you taking a bath NOW?

Maya: Because I got dirty.

Me: When? When did you get dirty? Was the landing too dirty for your liking? Is your pillow making your fur all gross?

Maya: No. I got dirty when we went for a walk.

Me: Yeah, because you roll in gross things all the time! Every time we go for a walk, you find something to roll in. You’re a dog! Of course you’re dirty! But is 3:15 in the morning really the time for taking care of the consequences of your rolling addiction?

Maya: Yes. *sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw*

Me: Ohmygod, just stop. You will have all day tomorrow to clean your pretty little paws. Just…be quiet for now and let me sleep.

Maya: …..*slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw* This continues for fifteen minutes

3:30 am

Silence

Me: Are you done?

Maya: Yes.

Me: Are you sure? You’re clean?

Maya: Yes.

Me: Good. Goodnight.

4:00 am

Something lands on the bed

Doug: HI! Hey. Hey! Are you awake? HEY! Hey, are you awake?

Me: Yes, I am, Doug, because apparently, I am not allowed to sleep anymore. What do you want?

Doug: Hi.

Me: Hi. What do you want?

Doug: Do you want to pet me?

Me: No. I want to sleep.

Doug: Do you want to pet me before you sleep? Listen, I’m purring!

Me: No. I don’t want to pet you and I don’t want to listen to you. Get off my chest! Why do you keep denting my chest?

Max: Hello. I have returned.

Me: Oh, yay.

Max: Doog-lass! I see you are trying to stake your claim upon my territory yet again! We must fight.

Me: You already fought, you idiots! Doug, get off me! Max, lie down and shut up!

Maya (appearing at the side of the bed, tail hitting the mattress): *thump thump thump thump* Hey! Are we getting up now? Because I need to go to the bathroom! Let’s get up, ok?

Me: Maya, you do not have to go to the bathroom, yet! Lie down and go to sleep.

Maya: Yes, I do. I need to go right now. And you have to get up because I can’t go downstairs in the dark by myself.

Me: So take Doug.

Maya: But neither of us can open the door.

Me: I hate you. I. Hate. ALL. Of. You.
Everyone goes downstairs. Maya goes outside. I feed the cats their Fancy Feast; may as well since everyone’s up anyhow.

4:30 am

Everyone is back in bed. Doug and Max start fighting again. Doug and Max get thrown off the bed again. Something big lands on the bed.

Maya: There were cats landing on me. I’m going to sleep here. Move over.

Me: I’m not moving over! You have your own bed!

Maya (lies down and shoves me): THIS is my bed. Move over.

Me: Ohmygod, I so hate you all! If you three don’t knock it off, I am going to drive you all over to the Chinese restaurant! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??

Maya (taking up way more space than she needs on the bed): Shhh. I’m trying to sleep. And you’re being racist.

Silence

5:00 am

Maya is hogging the bed and Max is back on his head/shoulders perch

Doug: HEY! It’s morning time! It’s time for you to feed us!

Me (so very groggy): I already fed you.

Doug: But it’s morning and you can give us our food now.

Me: I already gave you your food!

Doug: But, now it’s time for food!

Me: So go downstairs and lick the Fancy Feast crumbs out of your stupid bowl!

Doug: Will you come with?

Me: NO! And get off my chest, you freakin’ psychopath!

6:00 am

Maya: It’s time to get up. I have to go find all the bunnies in town.

Me (whining): I can’t get up. I am too tired.

Maya: Stop being lazy! You have to get up, now. The sun is up and we have to find bunnies. Get up.

Me: Make me, you giant oaf.

Maya: (shifting over and pinning my arm under her paws) *lick lick lick lick lick lick*

Me (trying to get my arm back): STOP LICKING MY ARM! What is WRONG with you!!

Maya: *lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*

Me: ARGH! That’s so GROSS! STOP IT!!!
I manage to get my arm free and then dive under the covers to hide from my assailant

Maya (pawing the lump under the cover with her Paws of Death): Hey! I know you’re in there. Get up! We have to go for a walk! It’s time to walk!

Me: No it’s not! I have until 6:30! Let me sleep!
Starts to cry

Maya flumps her whole freakin’ self on top of the lump under the covers

Me (muffled): Get off! You’re suffocating me!!!!

6:20 am

Me: FINE! FINE! I’m getting up! Are you all happy?

Max: I’m not. I was busy sleeping on your pillow, on your hair.

Me: You are all on my list. I am going to make duct tape restraints for each of you.

Maya: Hurry up! There are bunnies and they’re getting away! Get dressed faster!

Me: Move out of my way faster, you obnoxious lump!

Doug: Hey! What are you doing? Why aren’t you in bed? I need to stand on your chest!
Everyone tumbles down the stairs while I finish tying my shoes.

Doug: I want to go for a walk, too.

Me: Well, you can’t. Maya, come here so I can put your harness on you.

Maya (all full of spirit and fun): Come get me!

Me: Oh, hell, no. I am NOT playing “chase” with you. You will come here and put your harness on or I am going to go back to bed for the next half hour and you can suffer without your morning walk.

Maya: You’re so mean!
Lies down in front of me, just out of reach

Me: Seriously? This is what you do? SERIOUSLY?

Maya: Yes.

Me: So help me, if you don’t get your furry butt over here and put your harness on, I really will leave you all walkless this morning and you WILL be SORRY!

Maya: Fine. Put my stupid harness on.

Me: Come over here.

Maya: No. YOU come over HERE.

Me: You are horrible. I walk over to Maya and manage to get the harness on her, even though Maya is lying down Ok. Let’s go.

Doug: I want to come, too.

Me and Maya: NO!

Doug is shoved back into the house by my foot as Maya pulls toward the street. My arm is nearly ripped off and Doug nearly gets a door slammed on his head. Maya and I leave the house, Doug stays in. We walk down the stairs into the lovely, new and fresh summer morning. One bunny was found. Several chickens were stalked. Friends were greeted on the trail and calling cards were left all over the place.

Everyone managed to survive…but just barely.

The end of the beginning of the day.


			

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