Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Very Happy in My Own Back Yard....

     It's summer in our sleepy little Northern California college town. The students have left and the permanent residents are enjoying having the place to ourselves. It occurred to me today that, although ungodly hot at times, I truly, madly, deeply love my hometown in the summer. There's a little creek that meanders though one of the largest municipal parks in the country (perfect for a bike ride and quick dip), a historic downtown with local shop owners who know your name, a farmer's market just about any day of the week, and a thriving art scene to keep the creative juices flowing. But my favorite part about all of it? My own back yard.
     I have always been a homebody. When I was a kid I'd spend my entire summer making mud pies in the "Shoppe" my dad built in the back yard (real mud pies....

....made of mud, not the kind I like now, made of ice cream and Oreo's). I guess it's only natural to graduate to a veggie garden and some adirondack chairs. And cocktails. But my point is, I'm still spending the summer playing with dirt, and never tire of the wonders of my world. Take a peek, you'll love it, too:

This is Aries. He is too skinny and a little odd, but he is the neighborhood gopher control agent. We are a pit-stop on his nightly smorgy tour, and we always oblige. He doesn't think our dog Echo is much of a threat, but Echo is 14 and doesn't have many teeth left. And he's scared of cats.

After a really mild spring we are finally eating our own veggies and are off of the tomato grid! We are giving away zucchini, and are drying and storing herbs every week.

Last year I attempted to grow beans. It gave me Tourette's Syndrome. Not a single bean was edible and I vowed to never grow them again. 

Today I found this winding up my hoe.... 

I'll bet they'll be the best beans ever.

This evening we were welcomed home by a swarm of dragonflies the size of hummingbirds. There were hundreds of them and they stayed for hours. What a treat!

This is the view from my adirondack chair. It's the perfect place for winding down and hanging out. The drinks are cold, and it's the best barbeque around. Come on over!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm a penis farmer....

I've gardened my entire life. Every summer growing up we ate fresh cucumber, corn and melon. And as I grew, so did my garden. Losing myself in Sunset's Western Garden Book became a post Christmas tradition. I'd plot the crops on graph paper, thin in spots from the eraser having rearranged the layout again and again.
Gardening has become such a part of my life that I confidently predict the "bumper crop" each spring. I mulch, till, weed, and amend until the juvenile plants make the big step from greenhouse to garden soil. Once in, I carefully water and sit back to watch the wonder of nature unfold before me.

Sunday I was admiring how neat and tidy the raised beds were. Everything filling in nicely, preparing for a plentiful summer of fresh vegetables. I spent the morning tickling the tomatoes and thinning the radishes, counting the blossoms on the peppers and dreaming of delicious dishes Matt would make for us. I think I even hummed as I cruised my handiwork; so proud of myself for giving us organic fresh produce grown from seed.
So I wasn't expecting anything but growing edibles, but as I rounded the corner of the bed it jumped out, kabaam!screaming to be seen. A big, phallic fungus sat like a seventh grade boy in math class dreading his call to the chalkboard. It was huge. And ugly. And definitely not welcome.

After hours on the internet I have identified the offending fungus. It's not harmful to kids, pets or vegetables, but it has some very bad habits. Most likely the mulch I purchased from the big-box home store contained spores, which I then planted in my garden. It is called a stinkhorn mushroom. It smells like rotting flesh, which attracts flies, which in turn spreads the spores. Like herpes: once you have it, it's yours for life. Yeah!
So, in keeping with my annual spring prediction, this year I predict our "bumper crop" will be smelly penises. Anyone want to exchange veggies?


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Can we talk?....

Dear arrogant douche-monkey  cellphone user,
I wish to apologize. It's rude of me, I know, but I've been eavesdropping on your conversations. Not because I want to, but because you're YELLING. Like behind me in line. Or in the library. Or in the middle of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It seems I can't avoid you and your crazy stories of last night's booze-filled antics. Tales seemingly private yet left hanging on a public wash-line for all to see. "Dude" and you must be really close. It's a shame he missed the party, because he may have remembered how you got home. Or where your underpants are. Or at least bought you a shot. Bummer.

Maybe you should wait until I'm sitting next to you at the movie theater to text the cute Betty you met last night. She's getting a pedicure and has sent you five texts in as many minutes. OMG, she's so bored. She wants to hook up with you later. Maybe you should text Dude and see if he's free. Betty's apartment has a pool, yo. And her roomies are hot. Text Dude again and see if he can score some brews. The ladies love it when you bring your own. Don't be concerned about me, I wasn't trying to watch the movie anyway. I don't know why it got nominated for an Oscar. Maybe I missed the plot or something.

Oh, hey. I almost forgot. That ringtone? "Baby Got Back"? It's so nice to hear when I'm in the middle of a romantic dinner with my husband. The one we've been looking forward to all week. I can't believe the nerve of the manager, asking you to turn off your ringer. Obviously, he has no idea how important you are! Or what superb taste you have in music. You can totally tell he has the theme from Titanic on his phone. What a dill-weed. You should not tip him. Or, even better, just leave him the coins in your pocket. Yah, that'll show him.

So, I just wanted to make sure we were all good about this etiquette thing. I wasn't sure if you quite understood when you were in the middle of ordering your half-caff-no-whip-light-water-mocha and you held up one finger to the cashier, answered your phone, and then got annoyed with her when she asked you (again) for payment. She totally interrupted you, so I can see why you were so rude. If she needed to talk to you so much, perhaps she should have just called you on your cell. Or texted you the total.

Talk to ya later,


Monday, March 22, 2010

This too shall pass....

I was married at 22. Some thought I was too young for such a life-changing decision. They were wrong. My husband was the one who wasn't ready. After seven years of trying for both of us, I was left holding all of the marital responsibilities, and he moved in with his mother.
The impact was sudden, but the entanglement of grief was broad. Deep waves of failure washed over me; covering everything beautiful with murky, dark, emotional waters. The perplexity of my marriage was overwhelming. I struggled. With bills twice the size of my paycheck, a mortgage, one dog, three cats, and a part-time job, I fought for every breath. I crumbled.

Then slowly, so slowly, it began to change. I got another job. Then two. I made myself go out with friends. I got comfortable being alone. I listened. I learned about me.
The pain eased the tiniest bit with every sunset, and soon I decided I wasn't "that girl" that pined for her lost love. I was done crying for him. There was no future in holding on to a broken past. I had no idea how difficult it would be, but I knew I had to reconstruct my life.

With the support of family (both mine and his), I slowly started to unpick the ball of knotted yarn my life had become. Knots turned to tangles, which became snags, and eventually shifted to kinks. I was turning 30. It was time to start living.
I am now 40 and truly happy. I have realized all the heartbreaks and struggles brought very valuable lessons. We all have our own journeys to take, our own stories to write. From my heartbreak I learned to love. From my struggle I learned my personal strengths, my weaknesses. From my spirit I learned it's not what happens to us that makes us who we are, rather how we react that makes us stronger.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bathroom gumshoe....

My house is a mess. With an 80 lb. sled dog, a cat, and two busy humans it's never truly clean. I sweep just about every day and yet I constantly find hair-bunnies. Dusting is a full time job. I have come to the conclusion that housework is like stringing beads with no knot at the end of the string.... so I mop what I can off the floor, pick up our messes, and procrastinate about scrubbing until something smells weird.

Except my bathroom. I think you can tell everything you need to know about someone just by looking around their bathroom, so I keep mine sparkly. (Single women, pay attention! You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to be aware of the hidden problems of potential partners. You can thank me later....)

Take, for instance, the medicine cabinet. Too many prescriptions? Drug addict. Hemorrhoid cream? Impatient. Nasty ancient toothbrush? Slob. Curly hair-covered motel soap? OK, you get the point. All potential land mines.

The art of cabinet psychology is a carefully honed skill that, with proper development, can be more effective in the diagnosis of personality disorders than months on a therapist's couch. The next time you are at a potential mates home, slip into the commode for a little observation. I'll give you an example:

Exhibit A: I volunteer my own cabinet.

Upon first inspection:
I am a menstruating woman with good skin who smells great, has nice white teeth, red nails, and the occasional back sprain.

The hidden bad stuff:
Has out of control frizz issues, spends way too much money on hair products, perfume and nail polish. May have a tendency to be superficial.

What does your medicine cabinet say about you?


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't fly with me....

I have flown my whole life. With parents 500 miles apart and both sets of grandparents on the opposite side of the world, I was a frequent flier by the age of ten. Add the post-college wanderlust and vacations, I've logged a lot of air miles. You'd think I was an old pro. A seasoned veteran. A rational, reasonable and sane traveler.

But I am not. Experience has made me the reluctant passenger. You know.... that girl who always arrives early for the delayed flight, the one sitting in between the non-stop talker and the kid that can't stop puking? The sweet, quiet one who somehow invites disaster whenever she flies? Yep, that's me. I've crash landed, emergency exited, re-routed, and diverted. If you see me at the airport DO NOT get on the plane! Bad things will happen.

Every time I purchase a ticket I have visions of grandeur. I dress well in hope of getting upgraded. I am nice to the TSA people. I smile and make small talk with the ticket agents.

It never works. Bad airline karma follows me. Pull up a chair and let me tell you a little story....

My brother came to my home in Northern California for a visit after Christmas. Thinking I'd surprise my parents for New Year's, I decided to drive back to the L.A. area with him and fly home after a few days. So I purchased a one-way ticket on a small commuter airline traveling from Burbank to Chico, CA with a plane change and one hour layover in San Francisco. A total of 500 miles. Easy, right?

Arriving at the airport early, I thought I'd get my boarding pass, check my bag and be free to wander the concourse. Read a few magazines. People watch. There was no one at the counter, just a bank of computers and lines of people jabbing the screens to receive their tickets. A lonely conveyor belt sat empty and unmoving; underemployed by the new bag check charge of $15.00. Determining my heavy bag unworthy of the fee, I threw the strap over my shoulder, grabbed my boarding pass and proceeded to my gate. The plane departed and arrived on time with no apparent mechanical issues, the weather was gorgeous and the flight was made more pleasurable by a neighbor who was engrossed in a very thick novel, and never even lifted his head to order a drink. One more 30 minuted flight and I'd be home in time to do a load of laundry before bed. Piece of cake.

But air-karma never sleeps. The second leg was delayed 2 hours. The gate was changed from 76A to 89A (quite a hike in SFO) and then changed to 77A (the next door over from the original, mind you). My bag was getting heavier with every gate. I noticed a loud man at the bar across from the gate with three drinks lined up in front of him, and laughed to myself.

When the boarding call was finally announced, my shoulder was numb and I was working on a pretty good headache. I noticed the man from the bar stagger to the gate, muttering obscenities and I cringed. I could feel the air shift and I knew things were taking a turn. I boarded quickly and hoped the tiny seat next to me would stay vacant, but there he was. And now he was angry at everyone and seated directly to my left. 30 minutes to home.

About a half an hour later, I noticed a smell. You know the smell. Urinal cake  and under-maintained porta-potty smell. Every time we turned. Wait a minute.... we shouldn't be turning....

A voice from the cockpit played in slow motion, "This is your captain speaking. We have enough fuel to make it back to San Francisco, as well as hang out and circle up here for about 15 minutes. We have pretty dense fog with 25 feet visibility and we need 100 feet visibility to land. We'll let you know if we can get down there when we see an opening."

Drunk guy did not like this message. At all. Now everyone on the plane wanted to push him out, and I just hoped we wouldn't have to listen to him all the way back to SFO.

15.... 30.... 45 minutes go by. Every turn brings new smells from the back of the plane. Drunk guy gets louder. I can't see anything out the window. Do we still have enough fuel to make it back? I wonder if this flight is ever going to end.

Suddenly, the landing gear went down. Everyone started clapping. We were landing! The plane hit the runway really hard. Everyone stopped clapping. It dodged left, then right. We were going really fast. A woman screamed. We slowed quite a bit, and then "THUMP!" We went off the runway and into a field. The plane stopped. Everyone clapped. We landed.

We bumped over the soil, back onto the tarmac, and to the terminal. I was first off the plane. Walking towards the gate I caught a glimpse of my husband, waiting nervously at the door. I hugged him tight and gave him a big kiss.

It's good to be home. I don't think I'm going anywhere for a while.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year....

As part of my annual calendar wrap up, I look at the year in review online. The internet is a fantastic tool for researching pop-culture, and I find myself getting lost amongst the trivial topics of what our society deems important. I am particularly fond of lists. Top 10's are always interesting, and sometimes surprising: from New Year's resolutions to what became popular, and what waned. The best photos from National Geographic. The year's hottest music and movies.

But the best is always the most Google searched topics.
A telling example is Christmas Day's most popular queries:

  1. prime rib roast cooking time
  2. after christmas sales 2009
  3. is starbucks open on christmas
  4. what stores are open on christmas day 2009
  5. mele kaliki maka
  6. oklahoma road conditions
  7. walmart christmas store hours
  8. is best buy open on christmas
  9. iowa road conditions map
  10. mimosa
Okay, I get the prime rib thing, but Starbucks? WalMart hours? What kind of society do we live in that searches for Best Buy Christmas hours before the mimosas? Has Corporate America taken over our common sense? (Is common sense an oxymoron?)

I wish you a very happy new year, that you kiss your soulmate at midnight and all of your searches end with mimosas.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the day before Christmas....

I awoke with a panic. It was the day before Christmas; I had completed all of my shopping, wrapped the gifts, baked all the treats. What had I forgotten? I poured a cup of coffee and grabbed the paper in my normal relaxing morning ritual. Only I couldn't relax. I just knew there was one last thing to cross off my list....

Like a thunderbolt, it hit me. I had spaced going to the post office to mail my packages! In the trunk of my car they were out of sight, and completely out of mind. I would now have to stand in line for ages in the company of countless other procrastinators in festive holiday moods. The post office is the last place I planned on being on Christmas Eve, but it was imperative my mail was postmarked before midnight, so off I went.

The line was long. Really long. And people were grumpy. And smelly. But I finally reached the front and plopped my packages on the counter. The USPS guy looked like he had worked a season or two behind the counter, and kept glancing at the clock behind me, just over my head. He sleepily recited the standard mail jargon, charged me a fortune, and tossed the packages onto the conveyor belt. As an afterthought, I asked for a book of stamps to take with me.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Can I see what's available in Christmas stamps?"

USPS Guy: "We ran out of Christmas stamps. Everyone is mailing this year, and they didn't make enough to last until Christmas. I've got Hanukkah stamps, Kwanzaa stamps, museum stamps.... but no Christmas stamps."

Me: "Okay, then, let's see the museum stamps."

Me: "Uh, that's a Madonna and Child."

USPS Guy: "Yeah, that's all that's available. Sorry."

Me: "But that's Jesus! And Mary!"

USPS Guy: "Yeah, we ran out of the Snowman stamps the first week of December. I can see what else we might have back here....."

Me: "Merry Christmas. I'll take the museum stamps, please."