I'll start by apologizing for the delay, but if you knew how crappy I've been feeling lately, you'd say "Thank you for not blogging" because I can guarantee you, it would have been pages and pages of wah wah. All of the happy moments would have been portrayed through gray-colored glasses. I'll get in to it more by the end of this post(maybe... unless by then, I have decided to just fuhgettaboutit). Just know that whenever there are long pauses in my blogging, it either means that I'm crazy busy or wicked depressed. It was BOTH this time.
Okay, so when we last left off, it was night before Easter. Well, for SOME reason, that night, I stayed up super late. Which means that I SLEPT late. I got up to the sounds of Ryan playing in his room and realized that the Easter Bunny had forgotten to do his/her job. I tiptoed into my bathroom (where I had been storing the basket full of candyless goodies) and TRIED to make it to the front door without Ryan seeing me, but just as I got the front door open, Ryan looked up from playing and said, "What is that?"
I put on my confused early morning groggy face, turned on my just-woke-up scratchy voice and said, "Hey, I think the Easter Bunny got confused as to where our front door is," (this is a running joke, because our most accessible door is in the sort of "back" of our house, but we call that spot "out front" as you know.
Ryan said, "Oh, he must have left it outside your deck door because he didn't know where our front door was!"
I didn't argue. I just continued to pretend I was half-asleep and handed him the basket. He was REALLY excited (you can't tell by the pictures because he looks all ho-hum-what-else-ya-got? but trust me, he was excited) digging through all of the stuff. There was a Goodwill bulldozer (what? Ryan LOVES Goodwill toys... BEGS me to take him to Goodwill to dig through the toy section), a couple of felt posters with markers, a Spiderman fun pad, a couple of Hot Wheels sticker books, two DVD's ($5 at Target... Because of Winn-Dixie and The Sandlot... I'm trying to get Ryan to watch fewer animated/claymation movies and start getting into kids REAL movies), pop-up pencils (you know, those ones where when the tip is dull, you just pull it out and push it up through the bottom, pushing a new tip through), and against my better judgment, a small packet of glo-sticks (which was his favorite part *eye roll*).
After the whole Easter thing, we went outside and worked. I spent almost the entire day finishing incorporating the soil into the garden. I wanted to get all of that done before my company arrived the next day. I know, sounds boring, but I wanted to have it done. In fact, I wanted to have it done and have all of my seeds planted so I could get to work on the fence, but let me tell you, working on that soil is hard, time-consuming work. We did get the peas and green beans planted next to the trellis, but those were the only seeds that got into the ground. And it's good a thing, it turns out, but I'll get to that later.
So, sciatica raging, shoulder muscles aching, but filled with a sense of pride from having finished something, I went to bed. The next morning, I got up and tidied up a little before my guests got there. Sweeping up all the dead stink bugs and whatnot, LOL.
When they got here, my friend Ju came in and was like, "Let's get to work." I stared at her with my mouth open and muscles screaming and said, "No way, dude. It's not 3 yet." On the hot days, I don't go outside and work from between noon and 3pm because it's just too dang hot and I get easily dehydrated and have this weird glare aversion--I know, wah wah, but it's true. So, instead, we ate sammiches and then afterward, I made some chocolate-dipping sauce (which is super easy, by the way, you just take a cup or so of chocolat chips, add just over a third of a cup of half and half and some sugar if you like it really sweet... put it all in a small pan and set that pan inside a bigger pan with hot water (put it on the fire, but don't let the water boil) and stir until it's melted). It stays warm enough for kids to dip fruit, so there's no need to have any sort of fondue pot... I have one that has a tea light under it, but we didn't even need it. We dipped fresh strawberries into it and that was yummers.
Then, we donned our boots and gloves and took off for the woods. And we worked hard. HARD. At one point, it started to rain and I just stayed out there and worked. I couldn't help it. I was so driven and the rain felt SO GOOD, I just kept going. It was STUPID because there was a lot of lightning going on overhead, but I never said I was very smart. So, after about four or so hours of clipping and hauling brush, we wiped off and loaded up into the Brute and ran into town for some well-deserved Cici's pizza. Afterwards, we walked around Ollie's, got a few extra pairs of clippers and Ju bought some toys for the kids. I stopped off at Lowes and got some more fencing to make leaf rings.
The next day (Tuesday), we got up, had some tea and French toast and headed out to the woods to work. And work we did. For a good three hours, we went at it, clipping and hauling brush, raking leaves, piling them into compost rings, etc. Then, because Ju wanted to get a peek at downtown Lburg and go to the Community Market, we all loaded up and took Sneaky (Ryan's name for the Camry Hybrid) into town. We stopped first at the Farmer's Seed and Supply Co. and checked out the fake owls (WAY too expensive) and bought some gloves and a hatchet.
The kids kept going on and on about needing to pee, so we made our way up to the market..... which.... was..... closed. We had missed the market by less than five minutes. I felt horrible because Ju had specifically asked to go see the market, AND because the kids were bellyaching about needing a bathroom. We went to the visitor's center to pee and ask about an ice cream parlor (which there is NONE of in the Lburg downtown, so if you wanna fill a need and make some $$$, go downtown Lburg and open an ice cream/smoothie parlor, yo.. I would SO do it if I didn't have so many other freakin' things going on... can you imagine? Homemade gelato and smoothies? from locally produced ingredients? MONEY MAKER!!! So, do it... cuz I'm too busy). We ended up having to go to DQ and ate TOO.MUCH. ice cream. On the way home, we stopped at Food Lion and got the makings for a cheeseburger dinner picnic as well as strawberry shortcake for desert.
I got the strawberries cut and sprinkled with sugar so that the fruit could do its osmosis, syrup-making process and then we all went back out to work.
And work...we...did! HARD. We kept saying, "Okay, another half hour and we'll stop." But the sun was gone by the time we went in to make our burgers.
I sliced and grilled the kaiser buns on the griddle. I piled the meat, some salt, pepper and garlic salt and some chopped onions into a bowl and mixed it with my hand, forming balls that I smashed into patties. I put them on the elec griddle so I could cook them all at once. I threw some colby jack on there, slapped some mayo on the kaisers, some lettuce and maters and we carried our plates out to the deck extension to sit and have our picnic.
Afterwards, we smothered pieces of pound cake with strawberries and chomped that down. The kids had seconds.
While Ju hosed her kids down, I ran into town and got a refill six pack of Hornsby's cider so Ju and I could toast to our successful day in the brush. (I also got some whipped cream, cuz, dude, strawberry shortcake is SO MUCH BETTER with chantilly.)
The next morning (Wednesday), we got up and had eggs and bacon before heading outside and working. Yes. We worked. On the day she left, Ju got up and worked--as hard as I...harder maybe--on MY YARD. WHUH? What's that? Who DOES that? Well, I'm just gonna call her an ANGEL. I mean, when I said, "My house is your house, make yourself at home," I had NO IDEA she would take it so literally and I have NO WORDS to express how grateful and beholding I am to her. We got SO.MUCH.DONE in the two days (one afternoon, one full day, and one morning) she was here.
After she left, I had just enough time to tidy up the house, do some laundry, catch up on emails, etc. before my next batch of visitors arrived. As soon as they got here, I broke out the leftover strawberry shortcake makings and dished up. Then later, S dished up these kick ASS sweetpotato/black bean burritos. SO good. L is a vegetarian and I was wondering how I was gonna pull that off (I used to be a very good vegan and still have since lost it all... but seriously, veggie cooking is just like carni cooking but without the meat, duh!).
Our visit was a bit of a break for me. A welcome break-ish. I was torn. Part of me was so pumped about all the work we had gotten done so far that I wanted to get back out there and clip, haul and rake!!!!! But another part of me, namely my ASS and SHOULDERS, wanted to chill and hang. Listen, L and S are crazy hippie chicks for whom I have the UTMOST respect and admiration. And I rarely get to spend any time with just the two of them just hanging and talking. So, I really REALLY appreciated getting to chill with two BEAUTIFUL women who rarely shave or wear bras or deodorant. GORGEOUS, well-adjusted, brilliant, strong women. MAJOR role models in my life. Are you getting my meaning here? I was star-struck almost the WHOLE time.
These two chicks are heroes of mine. I watch their posts on our forum and on FB and I feel like a groupie. To have them here in my house was both an honor and a nerve-wracking mess. I was worried the WHOLE time they were here that they were going to expose me as a granola mama fraud. That they were going to find high-fructose corn syrup in something in my cabinet or refrigerator. That they'd find that nasty shake-on cheese powder I bought for my popcorn, say tsk tsk, shake their heads, pack their cars and leave, never looking back.
That didn't happen. Well, I mean, yeah, okay, they DID bust me for having spreadable butter with canola oil in it and they schooled me on "What the hell is a canola?" And now I gotta go out and buy a damn butter dish for when I finish my spreadable butter and go back to stick butter on my toast. *sigh* But for the most part, it was great.
They did make me cry. Dammit. I OBviously needed it. All it took was for S to say, "I've said it once and I'll say it again, unapologetically, I blame France." I knew she was talking about Aaron's death (for the full story on that, you can check the "old" blog jus2years.blogspot.com in which I give details about my son's stillbirth) and before long, I was rehashing the story and sobbing. They called it "emoting." I called it "sniveling."
The next morning, I got up early and started pancakes, which we covered with Nutella and scarfed down. L had ro run an errand and S said she'd help me work in the yard for awhile, so we did that while the kids tore through the woods (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED). Our plan was to work until about 2pm, clean up, LOAD up and head to a local vineyard for a wine-tasting. But when I came in from working on the yard at 2, S said she just wasn't feeling like going and L said she was okay not going. So, I went back out in the yard. S hung with her kids. And L took her little girl into town to check out the library (L is a fellow Librarian). But after L left, I got the impression from S that L had really wanted to go to the vineyard. Suddenly, I came out of my tunnel and realized that I had been too focused on my YARD to see that L really wanted to go. And then when I realized that S had been willing to watch all the kids so L and I could go, I felt a punch drunk V8 slap to the head. Dumbass!
When she got back, I groveled and promised we'd visit the vineyard next time, but it turns out that L and her daughter really loved our local library (a sentiment I share and completely understand), so it wasn't a lost after all. And then we all ate chocolate-dipped fruit (yes, again... it never gets old, okay?).
L went into the kitchen and made a gob-smakingly good baked ziti! I ate a big bowl of it and all fueled up, went back out and worked on the yard. When the clouds came out and the sun got all covered up, I went in, cracked up a bottle of wine (Project Happiness wine that they had brought with them) and started prepping stuff to make a taco salad. Not local. Not seasonal. Not organic. Even my taco seasoning had preservatives in it. *sigh* But, for now, it's all I could muster. I've been busy and tired and not at all motivated to go out of my way to cook the way I used to and love to. But at least taco salad is salady and refreshing. I made a veggie version with beans. And everyone liked it, that I know of. Peeps raved and plates were cleaned, so I took that as general satisfaction.
After dinner, the kids ate ice cream and the grown-ups drank wine. We checked the kids for ticks, hosed them off and put 'em to bed. Then, the grown-ups stayed up talking and killing stinkbugs until we got tired enough for bed.
Next morning, Friday, we all loaded up and went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast where I learned that I just can't hold my own anymore. I used to do the whole shuhbang at places like Denny's, Waffle House or IHOP and there I was full after the two eggs and hashbrown casserole. *shrug*
After breakfast, my friends hit the road and Ryan and I loaded up to head toward Goodwill. But my goodbye to them was bittersweet. Part of me released a big sigh of relief. Oh, don't judge. Have I mentioned these chicks are heroes of mine? Inspirations? While they were here, I was constantly torn between focusing on staying ME and wanting to impress them. Wanting them to like me or continue to like me and scared to death they'd think I was a fraud. Not just as a cruncy woman but as a mother. They are both great examples of mothers. They're both calm and patient with their children. Soft spoken and strong and controlled. I'm not. I'm the yeller, the griper, the micro-manager. When other people are around, anyway. I'm different when other people are around. And part of the reason is because RYAN is different when other people are around. We relate to each other differently around people than when we're alone. When we're alone, we're both calm. Ryan is focused. He's polite and respectful. Inquisitive and intelligent. But when other people are around, he becomes pretty obnoxious. He's SO excited to interact and have new stimuli that he wigs out. That makes ME wig out. It frays my nerves and I start yelling. For a kazillion different reasons, I am weak. I can't handle Obnoxious Ryan as well as I used to. And I become Monster Mom. These are not personalities I like for other people to see, especially not hero people.
So, yeah, I wanted them to leave. Wanted them not to see me like that.
But I was also really sad to see them go. I loved their company. I love hanging out with people who are as okay being natural as I like to think I am. With people who "let it mellow" when they pee. With people who encourage "emoting" and don't mind when I'm all blubbery. People who like to "keep it real."
And I hope they come back. And I hope that by the time they do, I've healed a little more. That the events of the last six months and the turmoil they've caused in my life have faded. And that I've recovered my granola mojo. That I have all kinds of veggies growing in my garden. That I've preserved--canned, frozen and dehydrated--all sorts of local stuff whether grown by me or not. That I'm not some pile of puzzle pieces crumbled and brittle. That I'm whole and human by then.
The week was great. It was productive and therapeutic and challenging and hard and fun. But, I wouldn't call it a break or a vacation. It was work. It was exhilarating and it was a growing experience, but it wasn't easy. And like L said, "I wouldn't change ANYTHING," about their visit.
So, after they left, as I said, Ryan and I headed to Goodwill to see if they might have a bookcase. I REALLY need a shelf for all of my books. But they didn't have any. What they DID have was an AWESOME desk for $25.99! I didn't hesitate. I got the desk and Ryan got a pair of sunglasses. We came home and spent the rest of the day just lounging around and recovering.
The NEXT day, Saturday, I had BIG plans to plant all of my seeds and start my fence. I was so excited. But, it was really cold when I woke up. The sun came out but never really.... "shone"... I looked down at the garden and guess what I saw... Shade.
Everywhere. All day long. The garden was in the shade. Overnight, the leaves on three trees surrounding the garden had come out and now the sun wasn't making it to the soil. I felt like someone was playing a joke on me. I mean, I almost looked around to see if there was a hidden camera or something. But, nope. Screwed, I tell ya. Scuh-rewed! The first thing I thought was that I'd need to get someone in there to cut those damn trees even if it became expensive. The second thing I thought was THANK GOODNESS and the Universe that I didn't build that fence because when they come in to cut those trees, it would have been almost impossible for them to do it without hitting my fence and wrecking it.
I knew Sam wasn't going to be happy about the tree-cutting thing. Tree-cutting is not cheap. But there was no moving the garden. I nearly had a damn nervous breakdown about it. I called Sam and as suspected, he wasn't happy. Talked about moving the garden, as suspected. I lost it. Suddenly, I was sobbing, overcome with all the crap and frustration and not being able to catch a break. About losing the baby, about missing my girls and Sam, about my stupid freaking belly button (which is still screwed, by the way), about sciatica, about some strange stiffness that makes my hands look like claws when I wake up, about the sun not shining on my garden... There's more. But I'll let it go.
That is, until the sink started acting up. We have this stupid "Pur" water filter on there and it is clogged to the point that the kitchen water won't come out very fast. We don't even want to USE the damn filter. So, I wanted it off. But of COURSE, the thing is, it was blocked on there. I tried and tried to unscrew it but it wouldn't budge. My brilliant idea was to just crack the rim of the plastic nut holding the filter onto the faucet. BUT, I missed the rim of the plastic nut and HIT the actual faucet. My first reaction was to laugh. But then I turned on the water and saw it spray like a lawn sprinkler all over my kitchen. *eye roll*
Sam wasn't going to like this. It reminded me of one time, when Sam and I were first together, I needed to defrost his tiny freezer in his dorm room size fridge and I went at it with an ice pick and ruined his fridge. Broke it. He gave me such a hard time--playing of course--but I took it seriously and crumbled into sobs. He still ribs me about it from time to time. And almost the exact same thing happened this time. I told him, he gave me a hard time, I bawled and sniffled and he laughed.
But, the next day, I went to the Habitat ReStore and bought a sink. I've been wanting a double-basin sink anyway, right? Well, I found one WITH a faucet attached and for only $40. Get this... a new double-basin sink by itself would have been $110 at Lowe's. A new faucet would have been anywhere from $50-80 (or more, but I wouldn't have bought an expensive one. So, instead of paying $150-200, I paid $40. The bad part is that I talked to a plumber and because he'd have to cut into the counter, it's gonna cost $350-400 to do the actual work. *sigh*
Between that and the trees? The tree guy is sposed to come today and take a look and let me know what it'll cost.
Let's have a little GOOD news, yeah?
One great thing is that in spite of the sun not being on there all the time, the peas came up!!! The green beans haven't but the peas did! So, let's cross our fingers that the tree-cutting won't be too terribly expensive, that he'll get the sun back on the garden quickly, that I'll get the seeds into the ground and that I'll get the fence up before the deer and turkeys get at the seeds!
Another great thing is that I've made the acquaintance of a couple of neighbor kids. This is great for two reasons. One, because one of the kids is 11, almost 12, and wants to make bux. So, I hired him to help me haul brush for $5 an hour. And TWO, because the little brother is in Ryan's class!!! AND, the two of them play VERY WELL together. I mean, they played for two hours yesterday and there was no fighting, no rough-housing and no getting into trouble. They kept themselves occupied the whole time while we worked.
AND, when I took them home, I met their mom and she's super cool and nice. So there.
We're not out of the woods entirely yet. We still have a lot of crappy crap going on. Most of it I can't talk about and don't want to. But I just figured I'd let you in on the happenings and let you know where we are in the garden and yard.
I have peeps coming this weekend and can't wait. I think that I'll be better this time than last. At least I hope so.
Wanna see pix?
Ryan LOVING his new boots:
Ryan actually HELPING in the garden *gasp*:
Chocolate with Ju's kids!
Legos from our friends:
L on the deck:
Kids in the woods:
Kid gloves, tee hee hee:
Friendly visiting turkey:
Flowering bush out front:
My AZALEAS!!! (that one was for you Big Ryan):