Saturday, May 31, 2008

That Empty Feeling

The yellow bedroom is officially emptied of my junk and waiting for son #2's junk which will be arriving tomorrow; nope, make that today.

Yeah, it was lots of work at a really busy time for teachers but there's always a bright side:

  1. I got a headstart on organizing my summer projects.
  2. I'll have to sew/scrap/craft at full speed to create some nice empty space again.
  3. When he finds a place, it will be a snap to re-paint the too-pale yellow a nice sunny yellow instead.
  4. I found my porcelain squirrels.
  5. I found my extra puppy photos.
  6. I found my cardstock stash of primary colors.
  7. Zelda ate my pond iris (whoops, that doesn't go on the bright side--file that under living with a puppy, again).
  8. Since Zelda ate the iris, that's a giant hint that I don't need to be in a hurry to rebuild the drip irrigation that Kharma destroyed when she was a pup.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

That Soft Place

Yeah, home. Where they can't turn you away.

Erkie Pie has been living on his own since 2002 despite the homecooked meals, freshly laundered clothes, no curfew and free rent.

Alas, all that proved no enticement compared to living in an apartment with cement block shelves, three stereos, ten remote controls and downstairs neighbors who democratically did their best to provide contact highs for all.

Or to a house by the university with a pool table, five sofas and surround sound for movie watching, and water service that turned itself off when it felt like it. And apparently no building permits when built.

Or to the house farther away from the college with a front room that's used solely for parking bikes, has light switches that shock you and a hole in the garage wall. (What is the attraction between fists and walls when you're a twenty-something male? I'd think sheet rock would sting even if you were drunk or really mad, but house siding? That had to hurt.)

But his friends, who didn't change majors in their fourth year, have jobs and money. They no longer need roommates. They can pay $750/mo. for a little studio apartment.

Not so for The Erk. His search for someone that needs a roommate with a large puppy has proved fruitless.

So guess what I've been doing? Hiking with Kharma? Nope. Planning a Hawaiian vacation? Nope. Blogging? Definitely not.

No, lucky me, I've been clearing the craft/guest room for occupancy. "Craft room" means many containers and boxes and drawers and files and books that have to go somewhere else. "Guest room" means all the extra furniture ended up in there and that has to go somewhere else too. It's almost cleaned out which is lucky because the end of the month/end of the lease is fast approaching. I'm juggling space as fast as I can. I'm finding lots of stuff that needs to be craigslisted.

Or else I need a magic wand and a disappearing spell.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hocus Pocus

Country blue curtains with ruffles--gone forever. New look says, I have nothing to hide.

On second thought...maybe I do. Hello, raw silk, good-bye junk.

Now if I could just find some nice cheap molding to frame the cabinets, I'd be happy. (And maybe this laundry room remodel will be over.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just Lucky, I Guess

I'm grateful for everyone who noticed the green lawn (however thin) instead of the town dump. You're all too kind. I just wanted to let you know that I'm actually not a bad gardener and my whole yard doesn't look awful. I love Spring when my various perennials make me look good without any effort on my part.

A clematis must be the most unpredictable plant in creation.

Yeah, yeah, I know all about the "head in the sun, feet in the shade" rule, but they like messing with my head. I've planted a couple in what I thought would be the ideal place, nurtured them for years and gotten maybe one blossom every other year.

I've moved them to other spots in the garden to see if I can get better results and occasionally I've hit the clematis flower jackpot.
This is my Comtesse de Bouchard and she loves it by my front porch. And I love having her there.

By all standards, this place should be too shady for her. I don't prune, fertilize or fuss--she does this all on her own.

But I'll take the credit if you insist.

Kharma's Lament

First of all, Mom let the wind blow the fence down and I loved having twice the space. Especially since our very nice neighbor has two Bichon Frisees to play with. Happy is pretty carefree, but it took a little time to convince Cooky that I was a nice dog. We all had a good time. I wish my mom would just leave the back door open for me like the very nice neighbor; it was so nice to just be able to walk into her house and see what Happy and Cooky were eating or watching on TV (personally I like the "Dog Whisperer" because there's nothing like Bad Boy to spice up a Friday evening).

Mom knows how much I love to jump, because she put up some short wire fencing for me. It was even more fun to go visit the Bichons then!

Dad took down all but two of the fence panels for me and I loved seeing everything that Happy and Cooky were doing and I could also practice my ferocious bark on the workmen putting in cobbles for the very nice neighbor's front yard. Heh, heh, they didn't know I was teasing them. It was very fun and I don't know why Mom got so upset.

BTW,the grass IS greener on the other side of the fence; it's also longer and much more exciting to pee on!

Just when I didn't think things could get much better, Dad and Erkie ripped out another fence!!! Wow, having a yard three times as big was super-cool. My favorite little girls live next door and they would play with me all the time. We played chase a lot. I even do tricks for them when they don't have any treats for me, just to be nice. It was nice to sit on their back step and watch them eat dinner. I helped them barbecue on their back patio too.

Dad, Mom and Erkie dug up cement blobs for me to play on. I loved jumping over them and racing around them, but playing king-of-the-hill was best of all. They kept on digging up more and more of those cement things. I would have helped them if they'd asked, 'cause I know it was hard word for them,vbut they did it all themselves and told me to go away.

Then they had some workers come and grind up a stump. I didn't get to go out and bark at them, but once Mom cleaned up all the loose shredded stuff, I had a great hole to lie in. I looked so cool sunning myself there. I know the Bichons were jealous of me.

I didn't mind when my family started putting up the fence again, because there were lots of panels missing. When they put all the panels up, they must have known how much I enjoyed visiting the neighbors because they left nice holes to crawl through. I loved teasing Mom. She'd be working in the yard and get distracted and I'd crawl into the neighbor's yard and wait until Mom would miss me. She couldn't figure out how I disappeared at first! I was laughing my head off. When she called me, she was pretty surprised to see me come under the fence.

She made it even more fun by packing some nice soft dirt in the holes then. Wow! Digging through the dirt to go visit felt just super. I think Mom must have felt a little guilty about all those walks we've been missing. Hey, it works for me!

Then I must have done something wrong.

They took away all my cement blogs. All the fence wire got rolled up. They put rocks on top of all that soft dirt and yelled at me when I tried to dig. I know the neighbors are missing my visits. Mom is even wrecking my nice sunning hole. She's adding dirt and plants and keeping me away from it. Our yard was so much fun and they wrecked it all. I'm feeling really sad.

Maybe Zelda will come over with Erkie and we'll jump over Mom's new plants and roll around in the nice dirt.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One Weekend and a Bottle of Motrin

From this:

To this:

It's a miracle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Because I Must

I have to blog about something. Quickly, before bedtime. Because I don't have enough time to post about the fence project right now.

So...enjoy my photos of the winged ants pouring out of my wooden retaining wall. I know, most people would have run for the Raid and nuked the little insects. But I having no lethal chemicals on hand ethical concerns about our endangered environment, took photos of them instead. And for once, the macro really did it's sharp little close-up job!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The City Dump

You know a major cleanup or reorganization always looks really, really, REALLY bad right before it magically looks fabulous? Kind of like a chemistry experiment that looks like pea soup before it turns a crystalline blue? Well, welcome to the Reno City Dump...
Yep, it's our backyard. Doesn't it look great with those tires stacked against the one fence still standing? And how about those gorgeous black trash bags lined up on the patio--classy!
Here's another look at our patio. Don't you like the way the dump lady stacked the boards neatly on top of the oak logs? Too bad she wasn't strong enough to tidy up those concrete post footings. Hey, they look great with random boards thrown higgily, piggily on top. What is up with all those trash bags, you ask?

Well, when you have a really big oak stump which has to be removed because part of it is over the concrete that you still have to dig out and the stump grinders come and attack it, the stump volume multiplies by at least ten. It was a lot of mulch. So I bagged it up to use at the Queen Mother's (because she appreciates mulch), but with the cost of gas we will wait till we are going that way for Sunday soccer to drop it off.

Don't you love our priorities? When it's gas versus a clean backyard, the backyard loses. But when soccer is involved...

***********Finally we have the seven wonders of the concrete world again, a pile of rotted 4x4's, and one intact fence panel propped up on the cherry tree. We are a little dense. The panel blew down in yet another of our little winds, knocking over the wheelbarrow in the process. That would have been okay, but the whole mess landed right on my rhododendron. Yet, there is the exact same panel in the exact same place just waiting for another gust so it can smash any intact branches the rhodie still possesses. The pile of chicken wire proved useless at keeping Kharma in our yard instead of the Bichon Frisee yard behind us and the dump lady will probably have to trip over it before she rolls it up again. The large turquoise pick-up-sticks are actually dog agility equipment waiting for a sane backyard to appear. The grass? History.

We have plans for the weekend which unfortunately do not involve margaritas and sunbathing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


In three weeks, I'll be sitting here with the clock radio turned off, my wristwatch thrown in a drawer, my "teacher clothes" packed away for three months. I'll be wearing a tank top and shorts. Making plans for hikes with friends and and classes with the Kharma dog and daily craft projects and regular trips to the gym. Thinking about more flowers and digging a pond and less grass and visiting Albuquerque and spending time scrapping. Sitting here making plans for fun Fun FUN!!! Must calm down, slow breath, take slow breaths. Ahhh...much better.

As the neighbor girls are telling me, it's only thirteen and a half more days and school's out for the summer!

I like their way of looking at it--thirteen and change trumps three weeks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Water Music

At least it's music to my ears. Until the wind picks up there at the end. Too bad Kharma isn't more impressed.

(It only took me a week to finally get some pix and video! And thank you YouTube for finishing your housekeeping and allowing me to upload finally. Waiting those extra twenty minutes just about killed me.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

When The Cat's Away, The Mice Are Probably Working Like Crazy

When I'm not posting regularly, it means that some large project has taken over my life.

Spring is a busy time for anyone who's a gardener, and even busier if that gardener frequently helps her mom troubleshoot her garden too. Don't get me wrong, I totally enjoy it, but it does take some time.

Last week I'd finish up at school, load the Kharma-dog in the car and head down to the Queen Mother's to work on the pond waterfall. We started rebuilding the waterfall earlier this Spring, then the weather got so windy and cold that I just couldn't find the ambition to continue it. But the Queen Mother had a trip scheduled to see Pierre's new home and attend Leah's First Communion, so we took advantage of a few warm and sunny days to finish it as much as possible. I wouldn't get home till 9:30 each night, but I did get a free dinner each night out of the deal.

It's not totally complete, but close enough that she could leave without worrying about her precious goldfish, newly acquired waterlilies and some exposed pondliner. When she gets back, we'll go looking for a stone cap for the new upper spillway. And obviously some plants to anchor the pond into the landscape are around the corner. I get to make the plans and she gets to spend the money--perfect combination! We might even remove the ugly upside-down blue bucket.

We are learning about pond construction from trial and error. Last spring I reworked the stones around the perimeter. This year was the waterfall. And someday we will figure out how to keep the pond in balance between the fish and plants so the string algae doesn't take over. We've tried various filters; we've tried shading it from the sun; we've tried barley straw; we've tried adding more plants. This year we descended to an algacide. Someday we'll figure out the right combination and she'll have a gorgeous clear pond to be proud of. Meanwhile the fish, frogs and birds all like it just fine.

I wanted to link to YouTube so you could hear how great it sounds...but alas! YouTube is performing site maintenance so I couldn't upload my video. Ah well, the photo is almost as good.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Home is What Catches Us When We Fall...

And we all fall sometime.

No, I didn't write this but it sure sums up Motherhood.

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay, honey, Mommy's here" and for the moms who've sat in rocking chairs for hours on end, soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors. And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world!" and mean it. Okay, this is totally me--I'd rather die than miss a soccer game when my kids are playing even if I can't feel my extremities by the time the final whistle blows.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.

For all the mothers who read Goodnight, Moon twice a night for a year. And then read it again, "just one more time." This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home or even away at college or have families of their own.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?

Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache she feels when she watches her son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes her from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 a.m. to put her hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 a.m. when she just wants to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in her home? Or the need to flee from wherever she is and hug her child when she hears news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation and for mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. For all of us. There are so many ways of being a good mom and my way may not be your way, but in the end if our kids know we love them, we've succeeded.

Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell your children every day that you love them.

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They're Creeping Up On Me

Despite the fact that I was awakened by three quakes in one night, I still got plenty of z's. That's because I have mastered the wake up, followed by the wait for it to end and a possible evaluation of how big it might have been, concluded by rolling over and going back to sleep.

So I thought I was in good shape.

Until a friend who happens to drive by the school just as I go home for lunch talked to me. We were chatting at the red light in our red cars, sharing raptures over the weather, until the earthquakes came up.

"Those last ones were amazing; they felt like 3.0's instead of just little 2.0's," I told her.

"You've probably already Google Earthed it already, but the epicenter for those last ones were just a block away," she revealed.

"Ahh," I replied, because a geologist's wife is obliged to act like she knows these things even if she is clueless. But I came home and instead of eating lunch I entered the lat. and long. of the epicenters that appeared to be south of Mogul and yes, indeed, they are way close to home.

In related news, last Friday we had a 2.7 while I was standing on the upper field watching the kindergartners run their little hearts out on the Jog-A-Thon. It's one thing to be upstairs during a quake, because I can rationalize how I felt more motion on the second floor. Let me tell you, it's a whole 'nother thing when you're standing on (previously) solid ground with the whole world wide open around you..

and the earth moves.

Suddenly the logistics of getting that much rock to shift becomes absolutely amazing.

I have more respect for Mother Earth and her power than ever before.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

It's time for the annual wailing and gnashing of teeth as I stand in front of the mirror and assess what the chocolate-laden holidays from Halloween to Easter compounded by a winter of inactivity have wrought. It's not pretty.

Self-tanner can deal with the pasty whiteness until gardening and the weekly Sunday soccer game, even with SPF 40 slathered on, supplies a little healthy color. My clothes seem a little tighter however and my selection of teacher clothes that fit seems to have shrunk. Worst of all: I. Have. No. Waist.

There will be no photos accompanying today's post.

It's time for some seriously-healthy eating. Lots of whole grains and fruits and veggies. Protein as opposed to white carbs and high fructose corn syrup. Tis time for an end to mindless snacking. Mindless snacking is my forte. I can scarf empty calories faster than a stray dog can clean up a dropped Happy Meal.

It's time to find time to exercise and build some muscle. Once I start exercising and find a routine, I enjoy it. I like challenging my muscles, lifting just five pounds more and improving my time. Once I'm in the zone, if I'm not just sore enough to need an Advil at night before I pull up the covers, then I'm just not happy.

Hopefully I'll be rubbing your noses in my success and flaunting a trimmer figure in the not-too-distant future.

I'm having a hard time getting started on a healthy lifestyle though. Other things have taken a priority. Like a fence to keep Kharma in. Like struggling to save all my favorite plants from the Strong Men With Tools (bless their hearts) that have taken over the backyard while the fence is being re-worked. Like the pile of unfinished Christmas reindeer on the sewing machine and the pile of wrinkled clothes that replaced the bedspread in the guest room (which I am pleased to report have all been ironed and hung away as of the start of the Kentucky Derby yesterday) and the pile of unfinished scrapbook paper and accessories on the other larger guest bed. I could go on, but I won't. It's too depressing.

Too many piles, too much clutter, not enough time.

Exercise is right at the bottom of the priority list and frustration is fertile ground for mindless snacking. Right now I'm feeling old and shabby and out-of-shape and a little woe-be-gone. Still life goes on.

Friday was an early release day (mercifully) as well as the school Jog-A-Thon so I dutifully put on some sporty clothes and braided my hair out of the way and cheered my kindergartners on as they puffed their way around the track. By the time we pinned on numbers, stretched and warmed up, acted as cheerleaders and brought them back into the classroom for fluids and a little rest, it was time for them to go home.

One little guy who is kinda quiet, but very cool in his Spider-Man sunglasses, stopped to tell me something on his way out. I couldn't hear him very well so I bent down closer and asked, "What was that, Marshall?"

"Mrs. P, you look pretty today," he repeated with an admiring look at my braids.

Suddenly I didn't feel so old or shabby. I didn't feel the least little bit woe-be-gone either. "Marshall," I told him, "you just made my whole day."

In fact, he might have made my whole year! He made me feel so good that I've been a bundle of energy all weekend. Several piles are no more and I feel like I've created some breathing space.

That little guy is gonna make a fabulous husband for some lucky girl someday.