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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Ski Trip

I hate snow. I don’t ski. I don’t understand why anyone would hurl themselves down a hill of ice towards a bunch of rocks and trees at 40 miles an hour. But, once upon a time, I was madly in love with someone who did ski. And because I foolishly wanted him to think I was adventurous and fun loving I not only agreed to, but planned, a ski trip.

I planned a “romantic” ski trip. I’m thinking cold outside, sitting by the fire sipping hot cocoa, taking (brief) walks in the nippy air, having candlelit dinners, and somewhere in there he could go ski and I would pretend to enjoy it. Whatever. So off we went to Tahoe.

At first it was kind of exciting. Our room and hotel were beautiful, I was with the man I loved, the mountains were snow covered, and we had stopped in Reno to buy me a snow suit and thermals.

Our first morning we boarded our little bus to head to the slopes. I was still a go for this. Then we get to the equipment place and rent our skis. Problem number one. The Storm Trooper Boots. We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find boots to fit me. If the foot fit, the leg didn’t. If the leg fit, my foot was flopping around inside. Finally we found one that my foot only slid around in, which didn’t matter, since when we closed the leg fittings it cut off my circulation to my feet and I couldn’t feel them anymore, anyway. Yay. Off we go to the slopes.

Since I’m new at this, the Ski Freak decides I should try the bunny slope, and off he goes to challenge the mountain. Okay. So I go and meet the Ski Nazi who is going to make my life a living hell for the rest of the day. He begins to give us instructions, which I apparently don’t follow, which causes me to fall down. Mr. Cheerful reluctantly helps me up (honestly, I think he wanted me to stay down) and continues to give me direction. I can now point my toes downhill and inch along, and I’m not even screaming as much as I was when I first started going downhill. And I learned to use the tow rope thingie to get back up the hill. I actually like the tow rope thingie. I’m doing fine for awhile, rather pleased with myself, and when the Nazi comes back to check on me, I think I’m doing great. At which point he tells me that if I want to start skiing as a hobby, I really need to lose some weight. Strike number two.

So I went and sat at a picnic bench and cried because of my hurt feelings. When my boyfriend came back I told him what happened and he was righteously indignant and all fired up in my defense, which made me feel better. So when he asked if I was ready to try the green slope, I said sure. Strike number three.

The green slope looks very gentle and soothing from the bottom. How hard can this be? Next challenge – the Ski Lift. When you get on the ski lift, it scoops you up gently and takes you on a peaceful, swaying ride up the hill. You snuggle with your sweetheart and enjoy the view. But then, you have to get off. I am told when the lift reaches the exit point, I need to put my skis down and slide off – quickly. Oh, and get out of the way because the next skiers are right behind you. Okay. No pressure. So, our stop approaches, he jumps off and so do I. Actually, I choke and I sort off slide halfway off the seat, which means I get a boot in the ass from the seat and end up face down in the snow. Which is bad enough, but keep in mind the skiers getting off the next gondola. Who jump off and can’t avoid my flailing carcass and end up tripping over me. Now there are three of us on the ground and two more coming. It’s going to be a pile up.

The competent skiers get up and go on their way, while Mr. Chivalry is bodily dragging me out of the path. And he seems to be frustrated. I can’t imagine why. I am obviously the injured party here. And he knew I was incompetent to start with. But now, we have to get down the hill.

It looks much steeper from the top. He says, just point your toes together and ski from side to side. Which I do. At the pace of a snail. At some point I begin to pick up speed and can’t slow down. I am crisscrossing other skiers paths, knock down a little kid, got flipped off by another little kid, and I’m sure I’m screaming. When I finally come to a sudden halt due to my boyfriend grabbing me, I’m half hysterical. As I recall, I yelled something at him about trying to kill me and then I pulled my skis off and stomped down the hill the rest of the way.

Once I get to flat land I put my skies back on, and look up the hill where my boyfriend is still trying to get his skis on. Feeling rather smug, and hoping he’s currently as miserable as I am, I glide over to the picnic table to sit down, and I somehow managed to miss the seat, losing my skis out from under me and whacking myself senseless on the way down.

That’s called karma.

Mothers Day - Belated

I got up Sunday morning, thinking I would go to the grocery store while it was early and peaceful and wouldn’t be packed. I hate going to the grocery store and do my level best to avoid going when other people will be there. So, at 7am I pull into my little small town grocery store and stare in shock at the half full parking lot. First, I am flabbergasted, then annoyed, and finally, rather amused.

Before me is a parking lot of bedlam. I have never actually seen a man move toward a store with anything resembling speed, unless it was Cabela’s. There are men pulling in, jumping out of their vehicles, and if not actually running, at the very least they were speedwalking into the store. Then there are the gentlemen who ARE running out of the store, arms full of flowers, some dragging small children along behind them. Apparently, this holiday snuck up on them, regardless of the fact that it’s been coming all year. Again. The bad thing about TIVO is that it allows you to fast forward through commercials. If any of them actually had to watch commercials this last month, they might have remembered that Mothers Day was coming.

Other than myself and the cashiers, there was not another woman in that store. I was checking out the mens purchases as they were leaving, and every one of them, without exception, was carrying flowers, chocolate and stuffed animals, or any combination of those items. I must admit that at that time I was rather disappointed in these guys. I mean, yes, they are now making the frantic effort to not get caught forgetting to worship the women who spawned their offspring. What better way to say “Hey, thanks for the 9 months of morning sickeness and 20 hours of labor” than with a polyester, made in China, stuffed teddy bear that was purchased simply because it was the first thing closest to the doors that looked like a gift. Honestly.

Still shaking my head, I walked through the doors and was immediately greeted by a young man, who dashed over, held out a carnation and while handing it to me, asked if I was a mother. I replied no, at which point HE TOOK MY FLOWER BACK!!!! I literally felt my ovaries shrivel up and dry out. Apparently I do not rate a 10 cent carnation due the fact that my loins have not been productive. The poor guy was very flustered. Apparently nobody told him what to do if a woman said she was not a mother. So then I felt the need to justify why I am not a mother, being that women are supposed to have children.

I guess Mother’s Day isn’t just hard on the men.

Sibling Love

Why I Love my Sister

Siblings are great. I have one younger sister, whom I have had the privilege of tormenting for the last 30 some odd years. I have enjoyed every minute of it. There were some pleasant times, like when I crocheted clothes for her Barbie, or built forts on the picnic table, or Christmas morning when I sent her to flush the toilet in the hall at 4am so we could run out to the living room and check our stockings. Turns out our parents were onto us, but we thought we were really clever.

Over the years she has become a wonderful friend to me, and now she is a wife and mother. But, once upon a time:

- I shot her in the eye with a rubber band and made her tell our mom she hit her face on the couch. Now I realize the injuries look nothing alike. She had to wear an eye patch for a week.

- I told her she was adopted and that if she didn’t believe me she could go ask mom. I told her that mom would deny it. So she’d ask mom and mom would deny it. Every time. I never got tired of that one.

- I made her sneak out to the kitchen to get chocolate chip cookies, so if we got caught she would be the one with her hand in the cookie jar. Literally.

- I put spiders in her bed. And crickets.

- When my family moved I was away from home for the summer and my mother was going to pack my things. I made my sister go get the naughty magazine I had found and throw it over the back fence. Sorry neighbors.

- I made her play Robinson Crusoe in my moms garden and told her that in order to survive she could only eat what she could find in there. I can’t tell you how many dried pinto beans she ate.

- I told her that a monster lived in the gutter drainage hole we had to pass on our way to school everyday, and that if she didn’t feed it, it would come out and get her. So every morning she had to throw something from her lunchbox in there. Sorry for wasting food, Mom. And I apologize to the water/sewer people who probably had to clean out the moldy sandwiches.

- I told her that a piece of cat poop was a tootsie roll. In my defense, the boy who is now my step brother had already done that to me.

- I made her put her tongue on the end of a 9 volt battery…. Again, my now brother did that to me first. I was really glad when he peed on the electric fence.

I’m sure there are many, many other horrible things I did to my sister. But I would just like to take this opportunity to say, I love you sister. And thank you for not killing me in my sleep.

Chihuahua Property Laws

I did not write this, but I found it so entertaining I wanted to repost it. Especially for my friends and family whose homes are run by Chihuahuas. Enjoy.

Chihuahua Property Laws

1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If it's in my mouth, it's mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I'm chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it just looks like mine, it's mine.

8. If I saw it first, it's mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it's broken, it's yours.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What really became of the garden list

Earlier this year, before spring had sprung, before the weeds began to grow, and before the wasps and earwigs woke up, I had a dream. I was going to have the biggest, bestest garden ever, by gosh. I got out my paper and pencil and ruler and I drew all kinds of little beds full of little squares with the names of all the happy little plants I was going to put in each square. I ordered seeds, bought dirt and trellis supplies, and read all kinds of gardening books. Anthony thought it was cute.

For the past month and a half I have spent most of my spare time weeding, planting, tilling, sweating and cussing. I go to the market every Saturday to pick up cheap new baby veggie plants, and they have lived on my kitchen counters while waiting for the beds to be ready and the weather to cooperate. We have to move trays of bedding plants from the sink in order to do the dishes. Now Anthony thinks I'm obsessed. Apparently it's not as cute when when you get potting soil as a side dish with dinner and the table centerpiece is a plastic bucket filled with trowels, twine and bug killer.

In any case, here's what really happened to the original plan.

Already established -

Asparagus - only 5 plants came back. The pug ate the tops of them. No asparagus.
Rhubarb - two harvests so far. All is well.
Strawberries - 2 beds producing and 20 more plants added.
Blackberries - died last year, apparently. Planted 3 new ones.
Raspberries - full production and added a second bed.
Mint - what mint? Oh, those dead things in the bucket. Right.
Chives - went to seed before they were harvested. Planted some more.
Cherries - see previous post about birds.
Grapes - Dead sticks in the ground
Mammoth Dill - Haven't seen any yet.

What's going in:

Red Romaine - didn't get around to it. Maybe in the fall.
European Mesclun, Green and Purple leaf lettuce - growing as we speak
Cabbage - I'll just buy it in the store
Spinach - Thought they were weeds.......


Lemon cucumber and pickling cucumbers are in.
No Strait 8's.

Sugar Snap Peas - trampled by the chihuahua
Telephone Peas - same demise.

Green Onions - cut the tops off the yellow onions. That works.
Red Onions - nope
Yellow onions - nearly got electrocuted planting them.
Leeks - who eats leeks anyways?
Garlic - harvest next year. If I ever get it planted this year...

Melons: I built them a trellis. We'll see if they get planted
Tigger Watermelon
Cream of Sascatchewan Watermelon
Sugar baby Watermelon - I actually bought the plants
Oranglo (Asian melon)
Charentais (french melon)

2 Romas
1 Cherry
3 San Marzanos

That became 5 San Marzanos, 1 cherry, no Romas. They are already putting out fruit and they aren't tall enough to reach their trellis yet. That can't be good.

Bell Peppers - 10 plants in. We like bell peppers!
Jalepenos - they're cheap at the store
Anaheims - probably wouldn't get around to eating them
Poblanos - couldn't find any
Italian Peppercinis - Apparently these only exist in jars.

Kentucky Wonder Green Beans - In!
Purple Podded Pole Beans - In!
Great Northern Beans - cheap at store
Anasazi Beans - pretty but I ran out of room
Pinto Beans - Anthony hates beans
Navy Beans - Anthony hates beans
Peruano Beans - Anthony hates Beans
Asparagus Beans - In!

Sweet dumpling squash - I really want to get these in. Anthony hates squash.
Sugar Pie pumpkins - Planted and ready to take over the side yard
Zuchinni - I put in two. One for me, one for the squash bugs.
Spaghetti Squash - really, how often do you eat spaghetti squash?

Misc Stuff:
Broccoli - must harvest immediately
Radishes - planted in the rain
Carrots - 2 types - misplaced 1 pkg of seeds. Planted the other one.
Potatoes - who has time?
Corn - Peaches and Cream - ha ha ha ha ha ha
Tomatillos (volunteer)- no volunteers.

Cilantro - the crispy little green ferny things taking up two squares
Basil - growing next to the tomatoes for convenience.
Oregano - I have the dried kind in a jar.
Parsley - no one garnishes their food at home.

Well, it could be worse. I would aim lower, but then I would have NO garden.

Science class 101

Every gradeschooler knows that if there's thunder and lightening you don't go stand under a tree, or out in an open field, or I don't know, hold a 4 ft long length of rebar over your head while sitting on the wet grass. Right? Obviously, I am not a gradeschooler. It dawns on me from time to time that it really is amazing that I've survived as long as I have.

I'm frantically trying to get my last ditch garden stuff done, being as how it will be July next week. So I'm finishing up little things like stapling chicken wire on fences and building trellises. I found a WONDERFUL plan for upright trellises in the Book of Square Foot Gardening. Basically, you pound a couple of 4ft lengths of rebar into the ground and slip a 5ft or so length of 1 in. pvc over the rebar, then stretch cargo netting between the poles, attach to the pvc with zip ties, and voila! you have fabulous upright garden growth. Saves space, creates green walls, and looks like you might actually know what you're doing in the garden.

Neither the weather nor my level of motivation have been overly cooperative, and as a result, I am a little behind. So yesterday I swore I would get this stuff finished up. I awoke to a glorious sunny day, went to market and picked up some final flowers to stuff into the beds. I planted a few, scraped the weeds out of the driveway crack and watered the flower beds before the boy showed up to mow the lawn. I figured I could do some house stuff while he took care of the lawn, and then I would have all afternoon to finish up.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Mother nature being the unpredictable creature she is, decided that 20 minutes after the boy left, she would water my lawn. I literally had a "Huh?" moment when I noticed the sun had gone away and looming over me were big black clouds. Whatever. I was obsessed with pulling tiny little onion sprouts out of clumps and planting them individually. Bring it on! I was not moving.

I maintained this position as the skies opened up and began pelting me with cold, marble sized drops of water. One way or the other, those onions were going in. I dug through the mud, with grass clippings sticking to me and earwigs running for their lives, and planted each and every one of those precious little plants. Then there was a huge, ground shaking crack of thunder just over my head, and I looked up and realized I was laying in wet grass and mud, behind an open field, underneath a trellis made of 3 lengths of steel pounded into the ground. Like lightening rods.

You've never seen a fat girl move that fast.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's for the birds

Birds suck.

Yes, I know I'm all "embrace the simple life" and "be gentler on the planet" and "try to live peacefully with nature". But that was before the birds pecked holes in all my cherries and ate the biggest strawberry whose ripening we were all anticipating with bated breath.

I went out to take a picture of the giant strawberry the other morning, and it was gone. Just gone. There was a stem and few hunks of strawberry innards. That's it. The instant the cherries started getting some color, they started to disappear. I had 17. Then 16. Maybe I just miscounted. Then there were 13. And two of those have......bird beak holes! Dang it! There's not enough wedding tulle in my house to save all the berry beds and the cherry tree.

I was fine with the robins eating the earthworms. I have plenty of worms and I don't use them to make jam. I was even good with planting sunflowers so the little finches and starlings would have some nice seeds to enjoy in the fall. After all, they provide their own form of entertainment. I am not as good with having owls and hawks dive bomb my chihuahua, but the planting of a couple of trees took care of that problem.

Blackbird, blackbird, baked in a pie........

Life in the Country

Ok - I don't live in the "country" per se. I live in suburbia in the country, where they tear out the trees and name the streets after them. But I do live OUT of the big city in a small town, with a buffer of farms and fields between me and the city. Now, the closest "field" to me is the cemetery on the other side of my back fence, but at least the neighbors are quiet.

I just don't know how anyone can live in the city. I lived in Houston at one point and I cannot fathom how people can be happy there. All the noise, smog, crime, homeless folks, traffic, people....ugh. I could never do it again. Admittedly, I do drive to the "city" to work everyday, about 30 miles, but half of my drive is through agricultural area, so I'm only traumatized for about 15 miles each way.

Here's why I love where I live. The other morning I had to go to the store. On my way to the store I saw baby bunnies, chickens walking down the road, schools of quail running around, a couple of goats sleeping in someones front yard, and even a couple of red tailed hawks (probably waiting to eat the bunnies I saw). I passed pastures with horses running around, fields with llamas and cows, and even smaller yards with sheep and goats. I had a male pheasant fly up from a field and directly over my car. The farmers were already out turning on water or riding their tractors with their dogs tagging along behind them. It was peaceful and beautiful. In the morning it smells like dew and sunshine and growing things.

I went into the grocery store in my town where I was greeted by people who recognize me, was asked about my week and my plans for the day, and exchanged a recipe with the cashier. In the parking lot an elderly gentleman complimented me on a car that wasn't mine and then he took my shopping cart back into the store for me.

I stopped at the local Farmers market on my way home where I paid $1.40 for a four pack of marigold plants and learned how to make cupcakes that look like daisys
using slices of marshmallow and gumdrop centers. Btw, they're really cute.

This summer I'll buy peaches and cherries directly at the orchard, corn off the back of a farmers truck at the edge of the field, and attend the Old Time Fiddlers Festival. I'll serve strawberry shortcake with my homegrown berries and veggie trays picked from my garden. And this winter there will be homemade spaghetti sauce made from my own tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil.

Friday night in my town is Sunday night quiet anywhere else. I can sit on the porch and listen to crickets and frogs instead of traffic and sirens. I've had coffee with the elderly gentleman who takes his 5am walk every day, rain or snow or shine, carrying a giant flashlight. I've chatted with the other gentleman who walks his dog and waves to every car that passes. Turns out he's not crazy, just really friendly.

I'm sure there is a place in this world for big box stores, night clubs, pizza delivery, shopping malls, and tourist attractions. It's just not MY world.

Well....maybe the pizza delivery.