Saturday, May 31, 2014

Matt's Week Off

This past week was forced vacation. That's when you get to take your paid vacation days whether you planned to or not.  We had not.  It was not even a sure thing until just a couple weeks before, that place is a rumor mill, we get the head's up at least 3 times a year that such and such week they will shut down.  This was one of the times they actually did it.  Blah

It was a holiday weekend, so we laid low after getting groceries.  Tuesday we needed to go to town for a few things and decided to return a heater we had borrowed from Gina while out.  Chandler had gotten on the ball and sent some cryptic message telling Brit to get her stuff packed.  So as soon as we showed up, she was ready to go home with us!  hahaha.

We ran our remaining errands with her along, it was fun having just one kid, and one with blurple hair at that.  We got more groceries and picked up some pepper and watermelon and cucumber plants and set those out in the garden.  My tomatoes are exploding, I have one little plant with 11 baby tomatoes on it.  Chan thinks we need to tie it to the fence before it falls over.  I think I should have gotten tomato cages!

Wednesday our plans were altered, we were going to the lake to swim and Katy's kids fell like dominoes to a stomach bug that Amanda opted to have no part of.  It ended up raining anyway.  So we rented some movies and made taco salad.

Thursday was a hastily thrown-together gaming day.  I posted about it maybe 2 days ahead.  There was still a good turnout, at least a dozen teens.  They played one round and then talked for 2 hours.  The other moms use game day to do Bible study, so they got busy with that and Matt and I decided to walk around the downtown a while.

The bridge was sporting a small collection of locks.  There is a bridge in Paris where people put a lock on the bridge and then throw the key in the water, signifying endless love.I no doubt have the details wrong, but that's the gist.  I don't think a padlock means the same thing, as there's no key...hahaha

Maybe it's more of a 'I graduated and don't need this any more.  I will put it here.'

The tiny chapel.

Cullman Ice Factory!  I'd love to hang out there some this summer, too bad it's an empty lot!

Chandler, neither gamer nor talker.

Before we left for the afternoon, we spent the morning making sushi, these kind of exploded...hehehe!
Brit did a roll of fruit, cream cheese and rice, my favorite was grilled chicken with avocado, spinach and raspberry.  We also made a couple dozen spring rolls that were INHALED.

On Friday, I got a wild hair to accomplish something, so I rented a steam cleaner and did the carpets.  Oh, UGH how nasty nasty they had gotten!  I was half dead from the heat-the machine was hot, I was using really hot water, the house was hot and humid, I had fans going and still the sweat dripped off my face and ran down my back all afternoon.  I cleaned the living room 3 times end to end with all the furniture piled in other rooms and the kids rooms once.  They were not bad at all, but the high traffic channels in the living room were bad.  There are 4 doors off the room, each has its own trail from the front door plus Nia's bed area and in front of the heavily used wood stove not to mention the site of the puked up rabbit.  I had cleaned that spot several times, but the steam cleaner got the last of the tinge up.  It looks SO nice, it was nearly worth the heat stroke.  I even cleaned both bathrooms and mopped them, the hall and the kitchen.  The whole house feels MUCH cleaner.

Friday night, we went to the drive-in, another last-second plan.  With the weather being rainy and then blazing hot it's hard to plan a darn thing too far ahead.  They were playing X-Men and Godzilla for $15 a carload.  You just can not beat the drive in-that was for 6 people!
We stopped and got Little Caesar's and brought drinks and some snacks from home. We bought nachos there, though. :)

I just had my tablet, I was reading before the show, so I took a few shots.
About the time it got dark, it started raining.  waaaa!
I put my stuff away and the kids climbed in the back of the van and made a big nest.  Matt and I scooted under the open van hatch and I dug around and found some umbrellas to put over our legs.  I still got soaked in spots and then the temps dropped and I was a sodden and chilled mess!  I swapped out my wet blanket for a dry one and was slightly happier.

X Men was great, I am sure diehard fans will have issues, but having read nearly every X Man comic book and watching all the cartoons and of course all the movies, all I can say is Hugh Jackman's butt!  I mean, it was a great movie.  They totally negated the third movie, thank goodness!

Godzilla had issues.  Mainly with scale, in one shot the foot alone was larger than my house in the next his whole body fit in a city street between buildings.  And speaking of that, okay, I walk through the woods ALL the time and while there are trees all over, I don't just smash into them all willy nilly.  Neither do ANY other animals.  But Godzilla not only smashes into every solid object he sees, he also suffers zero damage count.  And the buildings crumble like gingerbread creations, so he has to be smacking them REALLY DAMN HARD.  It seems like he would be nearly dead just from careening off things!!!

Okay, guess I am done.

It was a pretty stinky for a week off, but there are times when just relaxing and being home a while is good, too.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Late Spring of my Discontent

Is it the heat?  I dunno.

We went without a heat pump all winter to save up to have it fixed this spring.  It came on twice after he left and died for good-it does not even click.  I called to see if there was any hope having him come look again, maybe a loose wire that was easy to spot, and he was in the hospital having heart surgery.  So for now, we are going the box-fan-in-the-window routine and deciding what we need more-a central unit, a new roof or a newer car.  Or rather, what we need most/first.  I think we can do without a central unit, though that's optimism talking.  It's not actually HOT yet.

In the meantime, I am economizing as much as possible, which is furthering my funk because Matt is off this week and I want to go have an adventure, but there's no money for that.  I was just off on a trip last week.  I hate his job.  I have sense enough to appreciate that he HAS one, but there is some point when just having a paycheck is the only perk, it starts to suck.  It's at that point.  Forced vacation is the worst, it negates anything like...the shitty medical insurance that does not cover stuff like medical-related tests and the fact that he can take lunch at 11 OR at 11:30 without anyone complaining.

I can't focus, I have ideas for writing and even sitting in place, I wander off in my brain and look down 20 minutes later to realize I have doodled 4 leaf clovers and can't recall what I was going to write.  Uggh.  I feel useless.  There, that's what's wrong.

Okay, shutting up and publishing now, maybe I can come back later and reveal how I amazingly overcame my funk and saved a small village and wrote 7 fabulous chapters that earned me an advance that perfectly covered a new roof, AC and used car.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thinking Thoughts

Just spent 5 days over in Tishomingo State Park with a couple friends and their families for our annual summer kick-off camping trip.  It was a good trip, different since Gina and Suzette were not along.  But as Suzette said just before she ditched me for good, 'You knew it would not last forever.  All things come to an end'.  I didn't, actually, but...they do.

I spent a LOT of time in my hammock, first below Amanda's camper and when they had to leave a day earlier, I moved it to the other side of my campsite.  I wrote a good bit on my Jones story, the flow of noisy kids is ever inspiration even though my own brood is nearly silent at home.  If not for Ben's banjo practice through the day, I'd think I was here alone.

One of the things I try to do while traveling, even if it's only 2 hours away, is find a book set in the area. Barring that, I will read any ghost story, they are especially good when camping.  I love feeling spooky-not scared or worried or fearful, those are all bad states of being, but spooky is fun.  It adds to the ambiance, that scuffle in the leaves behind you could be all kinds of things instead of just a chipmunk.  In the same way marshmallows add to hot chocolate, it's delicious to be spooked.

This time around, along with a couple YA novels (my favorite fiction genre by a LONG shot) I added Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.  We were camping on the Natchez Trace and it's set in Natchez, Mississippi, the author's hometown and deals with the Jim Crow era.  It's his 4th book featuring the main character, Penn Cage and the first of three about this particular storyline.  I was in tears at the end of the first chapter and have had a hard time reading it, though it sucks you in and I am sitting here both itching to get back to it and wanting to forget all about it.  I have to wonder what makes me feel that way.

I remember learning in school, probably around 4th grade, about slavery.  Before then, I don't know that I ever thought about black and white people.  My father's secretary was black, the girl I stayed with when I needed a sitter, Narissa, was black, there were a few black kids in my class at school.  Asians and Hispanics were total unknowns, characters on TV.  Black people were just other people.  My father loved to tell stories of funny things Elizabeth (his secretary) had said or done, she was young and very superstitious and loved to dance and sing and had lots of energy and 2 little girls at home that she doted on, so she was always up to something that amused him.  She drove me around to doctor appointments and even to school sometimes, she and Narissa were fixtures in my childhood.

When I learned about the Civil Rights movement and segregation and slavery and all the discrimination and nasty history, I had a rock in my gut made of guilt-I was sorry I was white and I was sorry I was glad I was white so my burden of memory was less.  My ancestors were dirt poor, no slave owners in my past.  During the early 60's, my father was a seminary student and then an assistant pastor working in Chattanooga so while he may not have marched, he certainly never lynched anyone, either.

When I was older and read about the Klan and what they did, I was sick for a week.  My mother married was from the flat part of Alabama over near Mississippi and who was all for the Klan, saying they deterred ALL violence and that a man who hit his wife or kids could expect a visit and would be set straight and race was not a factor.  He viewed them as masked vigilantes that rode around the county dealing out punishment to evildoers.  It was a big deal to be a member, an honor.

I moved in with my sister until my father was able to buy a house and never set foot under his roof again.  At 14, I thought the group was a thing of the past, a stain on the south that would eventually fade.

I think it all comes down to, I don't understand hate for the sake of hate.   A person is not born by their own choice and they don't decide to be a certain race or if they will be gay or Jewish. But people DO decide at some point to hate that very thing the other person has no control over and punish them for it and often anyone who helps them in any way.  It's the ultimate shittiest thing, ever.  And the south seems steeped in it, though there is hate everywhere for all manner of things.  Google 'war' for more info.

I do know the other part of the way I feel, the part I can identify with no pondering at all is that I feel helpless to anything about it.  I read about the murder of a man who committed the 'crime' of registering to vote.  Or the rape of a woman who was unlucky enough to be pretty and draw attention to herself and needed to be 'taken down'.  I feel rage and disgust and fear and even some hate of my own.

It's a powerful book and a story that needs more light cast on it.  I think now more than other times, when gay rights are in the forefront, there needs to be that reminder of how hating an entire group of people solved nothing and has left an entire region with edges that are still tattered and may never fully recover.  And to what end?  WHY is my big question/issue.  Who gave one group the authority to cast judgement on another group and then end their LIVES because of the way they were born?  That kind of hate is taught-someone did that on purpose!

As you can see, I am still trying to wrap my head around it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


The chilly weather knocked out our swimming plans for the second time this month!
We chatted about what to do instead last night and decided to just go to Katy's and make grilled cheese.

Chan was at Brit's house, Ben was already at Katy's and we had been hosting Evan, who's here for a few days now that school is out for him.  So we set out a little early to gather Chan on the way and pick up some doodads to share at lunch.

Saw this and wondered briefly if Suzette had bought a truck.

At Katy's, the kids spent about 4 seconds deciding what to do and then ran around like crazy people all afternoon.  I love that they can still be so physical and just PLAY.  Katy certainly has the place for active kids.  They played on the swing, the zipline, the trampoline, just ran around and played with Mars.

Inde gave me a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.

We made a ton of grilled cheese sandwiches and had chips, fruit, cookies, La Croix, Caprisun and picked stuff from the yarden to make a big salad and have fresh herbs on our sandwiches.  Loads of chatter and mostly laughing our heads off at Bird, who is quite the ham at 21 months.  I took pictures, but his mom does not want me to post pics of him or Didda online.  Just trust me, he's SO cute.

After lunch, we lounged a bit while the kids ran around and around then Matt, Katy and I went for a walk and Amanda headed back to her neck of the woods to get ready for the weekend.  We are all headed off together next week!

Right below Katy's house.

Indian pink

Mint, Monarda family

Resurrection ferns

Don't know.  The plant grows like raspberry

That's mostly Virginia creeper, but there were about a zillion poison oak plants in the mix.
I washed everything I had on when we got back, including my shoes.

We had to make tracks back home, our movies were due by 7!  I wish there was a drop box, that would make my life so much easier sometimes.

The blue jays were going NUTS attacking Nia and screaming like all get out when we got in.  We finally went to see what was going on, Nia was under the pine looking up and they were swooping her like fighter jets.  She was sitting ON a baby jay!!  She is SO horrible, I mean the worst kind of dog.  I have looked out more than once and seen her perched on a cat, it flat on the ground and her rear end squishing it's head.  She even drags the cats to where she wants cushion sometimes and THEN sits on them.

Matt took the jay away from her, we thought it was dead and everyone was all teary eyed and then he gathered up the FLAT baby and it became bird shaped again!  It was not wet or damaged, she just sat on it-no mauling.  I wish I knew why she did that...

I lined a small basket with paper towels and we put the baby in it and wedged it back up in the tree.  The parents took over immediately, though they were both livid and tried to kill Cleo when she was making her way to her cat bed in the shed.  That poor cat, I am not sure she's had a good day in her whole life.

We have gone to check a couple of times, debating on if we should bring it in.  It's COLD out there, under 50, I am not sure the parents will snuggle the baby if there are other babies in a nest elsewhere.  I know I will barely sleep, I am afraid to bring it in in case they abandon it totally.  I hope it was not shocked too much by our horrible dog, that could kill it, too.  It was panting for a while, but was quiet and fluffed up last time we checked.  Okay, I can't stand it, I am going back out to check.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wildflower Garden

We did our first volunteer stint at the wildflower garden today!  The teen service group has been working there already, we just have not been in town when it happened.  

We weeded and planted for a couple of hours, then had lunch and chatted a while, then Verna Gates from Fresh Air Family did an hour long storytelling class for the younger kids and an hour long wild edibles and medicinal plants class for the older kids.  I learned a few things, but it was mostly stuff I already knew.  But that was cool, too.  It was nice to hang out with Nona (the lady who is over the garden) and discuss ideas and walk around and talk about what to do next in the gardens.  I am pretty excited about being a part of the grounds crew!  The kids are excited about going back, too.  They really do get in to helping out, I am glad to have the chance to expose them to more this year.

I usually quit wildflower looking in early May, I am glad to have a reason to keep my eyes open this summer and to have some folks around who can help ID what I am looking at!

Showy evening primrose

I used to call these 'teacup roses' in my head when I was a kid, they bloomed right before school let out for the summer!

Indian pink

Canadian anemone



John was horrified to be taken off by Jake and Nona.  Nooooooooo!



Solomon's Seal


Chan, punked out and driving

Loading weeds!  We pulled 3 of these loads in 2 hours just in the front!

After lunch, Nona loaded up the younger kids and took off to see the ducks.

The older kids played that hand slapping game that I don't understand the rules to.

Don't know yet!

This is a myrtle

A type of violet

Oregon grapes


up, up, up, up!


Phlox unfurling

The younger class, I wandered off to the picnic tables and wrote a while and the teens disappeared to talk elsewhere.

They reappeared in time for our walk and talk.  


Yellow Iris

Ginger bloom (little brown jug)

I believe I may have spotted a wild monkey.

Nona ran up the hill (she's 82!) and dug a bloodroot root for us to look at.  I licked it, like a total ninny.  It was SO nasty, tasted horrible and my tongue felt weird.  In my defense, I was TRYING to get it wet enough so I could draw on Ben's face with it.

Bloodroot root.  It really is orangey-red.

Indian cucumber

He is not on his tiptoes.  He's just THAT tall now.  *sigh*

More talking, that's Verna in the pink.
Chan is right beside her, the boys...I found a moment later.

After the talk, we headed back over to the picnic tables to get our stuff together to head out.  Nona had a surprise for each family of helpers, a little hydrangea bush!  She said the name 5 times but my brain was rubber at that point.

We loaded up and headed out to get groceries.   The kids agreed they want to head back over and work again soon!  Final shot, here is the pic taken by a local man who did a little blurb for us on his community page: