Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A dollar a day

I love this guy's blog (which is linked in the article). We're nowhere close to eating on a dollar a day in this household, though I do practice some hardcore couponing. But I am a fan of epic journeys, and it strikes me that he is on one. Plus, I just like the way he thinks. And he's funny.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

People who live in glass houses...should move

Never doubt that a tiny piece of quartz in the wrong place at the wrong time can screw things up enormously.

The weekend started promisingly enough. We had been searching awhile for two solid used utility tables and some shelving for a project T has going in one of the spare bedrooms. We both share a kind of stubborn cheapness blended with an environmental ethic, so we were unwilling to buy brand new utility tables to the tune of a hundred and fifty bucks when we could get them used. So on Saturday morning we decided to hit some garage sales. The Kid has become enamored of that sort of thing, and since it was just the three of us that morning we decided to head out. The Kid scraped up all his cash -- about three dollars and seventy cents -- stuffed it in the pocket of his shorts and climbed into my Toyota RAV4. He was hoping to find Legos with which to build an ocean liner, and we, of course, had the less lofty but still pressing goal of getting our tables.

We struck gold at the first garage sale. Two utility tables and a set of shelving for $21 total (but no Legos). We grinned smugly at each other as we hoisted the shelving onto the top rack. T put the back seat down next to The Kid and slid the tables in. They looked a little long to me, but we closed the door slowly and gently, and nothing was amiss.

We drove home slowly, but as T took a turn a couple blocks from the house, the tables started to shift. I grabbed them to make sure they didn't fall too close (or on) The Kid, and T pulled over so we could readjust.

"We're two blocks from home. I think I'll just ride back here and hold them while you drive," said T. I agreed. He got settled. The tables looked like they were sticking out a bit again, but hey, they did before too, so I went ahead and closed the door.

Turns out they were sticking out.

Folks, I don't know how many of you have had a large piece of glass shatter into smithereens at close range, but it's bizarre. It's as if the surface before you changes from one form of matter to another in a split second. What used to be my back window took on a near liquidity as it fell all over the place and into every crack and crevice. It was as if Scotty had just beamed up my back windshield, because there was a quick noise and then it was just gone. Goodbye window, hello shocked face of my glass-covered boyfriend. And I stood there for a stunned moment, contemplating the shards falling onto my feet, noting the look on T's face, and wondering well, huh, look at that. What the yellow rubbery hell am I supposed to do now?

Plink. Plink. Plink.


After exchanging a few words I do not remember, I got back into the driver's seat and drove home carefully. T did not move.

In the end, T had only a few minor nicks on his legs, and my mother brought over her two Shop-Vacs so we could clean up the rest of the glass, and she took The Kid for most of the afternoon to give us some time. She also bought him a remote-controlled helicopter to alleviate the disappointment from his aborted Lego-hunting mission.

We recovered. We moved on. Saturday sucked, but whatever. Okay, so those utility tables and shelves were a little more expensive than we hoped. Ha ha.

Sunday started better, and I was pleased to see that the grass was high, because that meant it was time to climb on my new riding lawnmower and cut it. This I did later in the day after it had cooled off. I stuck the orange foam earplugs in my ears and fired up the engine. I was going along pleasingly, pondering the nature of the cosmos, or perhaps humming some silly tune, when I saw T in front of me, waving his arms manically. I stomped on the brake, turned the mower off and yanked the orange foam out of my ears.

"What did you run OVER?" he asked, astonished. "Huh?" I asked impatiently. In response he just pointed, shocked, at the sliding glass doors to the walkout basement. Which looked like, well, see the photo at the top of the post. I climbed off the mower, still clutching the earplugs, and stood in front of the glass doors. There was an audible crackling sound as the cracks continued to spread across the glass. T looked stricken.

"I don't even know what to say," I muttered, then turned around and walked inside the house.

The glass guy comes tomorrow. It's going to be, as our door guy wincingly noted, pricey.

I shouldn't bitch. Rose has a flooded house after what can only be termed a dreadful week, and hell, it still isn't summer at Jeannie's place.

But glass still makes me nervous.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Where two obsessions meet.

For a very long time I confined my photography solely to the outdoors, as a way of honoring -- and spending time in -- the natural world. The summer after The Great Unraveling, once I was able to pick up the camera again, I started photographing other things. The string lights in my new screened in porch. Frozen, blanched tomatoes. My dog. Other people's dogs.

This afternoon I was working on a quilt, and I saw the light hitting my pincushion just so, and suddenly in front of me was the opportunity to fuse two of my passions. It's all the same, really -- color and light. Sewing isn't about sewing for me. It's about color, design, and texture. Engagement of the senses.

It's a nice blend.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blueberries and priorities

These blueberries are now freezer jam, thanks to careful time management.

I finished a big and stressful work project last week, and was eagerly anticipating having some free time this week to indulge my other activities, which I felt had been languishing too long (also known as my "creative side"). Which is why, come Monday, I found myself stewing in anxiety over the fact that I didn't really want to do anything. I did a bit of cooking and managed a pillowcase for The Boy* and a few other things, but I wasn't wallowing in the things I wanted to do, as I had so clearly envisioned.

And then it occurred to me that I have a lot of things I want to do, and a lot of things I have to do. I have to do all the paid work available, which is often a lot. I'm a single parent. I have a pretty big house to keep on top of, which is no small thing because I am somewhat neat. Unfortunately, no one else who lives here or spends time here is.

And then there are the discretionary items. I planted a large garden because I love the idea of my own food. I just discovered my bread machine. I bought a riding lawn mower because a) I love mowing my lawn and b) I can save myself a few hundred dollars doing it myself. I want to sew, do photography, travel and write. I have a dog. There are two kayaks in the garage.

And then there's the minor fact of my relationship with a guy who is starting his own business while still working full-time at a job an hour away.

And all of you who know me are aware that I require substantial idling time. Time to lie on the grass and stare at the clouds. Time to wander the internet. Time to walk around and work out knotty problems. It takes a lot of idling to support an active life. And that is clearly what was missing on Monday. But what to do, when limited to a scant 24-hour day?

I guess you can't really have it all. Or maybe you can, just not at the same time. So I've decided to ratchet down my list, which, because I am me, has been difficult, but necessary. I have decided that the garden is the lowest priority. The peppers were giving me the finger anyway, so screw 'em. I'm tired of coaxing their finicky green asses out of the carefully amended soil I planted them in.

I informed T this morning that, because neither of us ever has any time to actually put clean clothes away, we will henceforth be living out of (neatly placed) laundry baskets. Because T is not the kind of guy for whom domesticity is particularly resonant, this edict was greeted with all the resistance of someone who'd just been told he won the lottery.

The Kid will be getting more chores. He has mastered the art of cleaning mirrors, and for a buck to spend on piddly junk that will further clutter my house, he'll be willing to clean the dog snot off the sliding glass doors.

That's a start, anyway. And a good one, because today, blueberries are my priority. Freezer jam, muffins, and perhaps ice cream. We picked five pounds of them last Sunday and they are languishing in the refrigerator. And we can't have that.

*New vernacular, just to be clear. My son is still "The Kid". "The Boy" and "The Girl" are T's son and daughter. Collectively, we refer to them as "The Onions" for reasons that might take too long to explain. When we are all together, we constitute "The Murder." As in, a murder of crows.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More chewing, less nibbling

Damn it, I miss blogging.

I resisted Facebook until the bitter end, possibly because I knew it would creep in, with it's chatty format and it's snappy status updates, and slowly obliterate the longer, more reflective space of a blog. But ultimately I caved, and got on Facebook so I could flirt with a guy. Well, that task is finished - we're all but shacked up now, though I haven't stopped flirting with him.

And then something happened to a friend that made her revisit her own, more reflective space. I had been considering packing it up and moving it all back here before then, but now it's definite. I'm coming back.

I am, first and foremost, a cud chewer. It's what I do. And you can't chew cud properly on Facebook. You can nibble cud, but there is no chewing, and your audience is limited. On Facebook, the friends part comes first, then the reading. I like the reverse. It's how I met so many of the best friends I've never met. (And some I have.)

Blogging is how I got through the implosion of my 15-year marriage. It's how I spent my time during my long and lonely four-year exile in a second-floor home office. It's where I turned after a morning in the mountains, or an afternoon spent watching bears.

I miss it. And I want it back.

So here I am. More chewing, less nibbling.