I know, I know. I can hear you from here. Where the greasy biskits have I been? You already know. Remember? Whenever I'm tired or in a funk, I avoid. I haven't been so for an entire month, but it's not far off. Oh, don't worry, you didn't miss much of anything big. Here's the Reader's Digest version.
Ryan got a haircut.
I had those damn trees cut and got some sun on my garden.
I planted potatoes.
I got good at weedeating.
I've repotted and repotted and repotted and...
I donated food to the postal worker food drive.
I got DEEEEE-PRESSED.
I bought (and had delivered) materials to build my "deer-proof" fence.
It rained a lot.
I fertilized the pots.
I saw the big, long, black snake again...at the front door... again.
I cut my finger REALLY deeply.
I bought a huge, deep chest-style freezer.
I became an official Gleek and bought all three volumes of the first season's songs on CD. *eye roll*
That stuff took up most of the time. There WERE a few more monumental things:
An old friend from college (my FIRST round of college...in Missouri... when I was 16) lives and works in Virginia and just happened to be coming to Lynchburg for a business trip. He took Ryan and me out to the local Italian place for dinner. It was great to catch up and try something more fancy schmancy than the Italian place's pizza. Trav came to see the homestead and kicked the soccer ball around with Ryan. It showed me just how much Ryan really misses having someone like his papa (tall and male and willing to play) around here. Ryan wants nothing to do with going back to France (he's scared we'll make him go back to school), but he really needs his papa.
My belly button healed up after the doctor gave me some cream with steroids in it. So, as soon as things were clean, I decided to get busy on the ol' bod. The first thing I did was sign up for Weight Watchers again. I don't go to meetings because I don't really feel the need to. Back when I did Weight Watchers in Houston, I went to meetings because I needed support, motivation and ideas. By now, I feel like I'm so chock full of self-motivation and ideas I could run the local meetings myself. Actually, when I was in Charlotte, I did Weight Watchers all by myself. I didn't go to meetings, I didn't pay dues, I didn't weigh in officially and I still lost over 40 pounds. This time, however, I wanted to be able to enter recipe ingredients into the "Recipe Builder" and have it tell me how many points there were per portion. I could calculate it myself (and used to do so) but it's faster and easier this way. The second thing I did was buy a book called "The Eat Clean Diet" by Tosca Reno. In it she talks about how to lose weight without eating nasty, pre-packaged, over-processed food (right up my alley, huh). She's a bodybuilder, too, so it's kind of cool to see how bodybuilders eat (she used to be over 200 pounds, btw...). Anyhoo, on her plan, you eat 6 meals a day. At EVERY meal, you have to eat a balanced combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. You also have to drink TONS of water all day long (with each meal). She says that your body shape has 80% to do with DIET, 10% to do with exercise/sculpting and 10% genetics. That's AWESOME because controlling diet, while difficult at first, is SO much easier than re-starting exercise. So, for two weeks, I did a hybrid of Weight Watchers and The Eat Clean diet (Eat Clean told me WHAT and WHEN to eat but WW told me HOW MUCH). I've lost 10 pounds. Then, last week, guess what I did? I WENT TO THE Y!!!
I know it's a cliche to say it's just like riding a bike--you never forget--but it was like that. I went to the Y and went about it very ceremoniously. I took my time getting into my suit, putting on my swim cap, doing my pre-pool shower, etc. Then, I timidly made my way to the lap pool. I got in, grabbed a kick board and started kicking. After about 100 yards of that, I did 100 yards with the pull buoy and then 100 yards freestyle swim. Then, I repeated it all. Okay, it had been almost two years since I had been in the pool, so of course just this little bit of exercise took me almost an hour, but it was worth it. The coolest part was as I started to pull, my arms almost seemed to know what to do by themselves. Before I knew it, I was thinking about other things but still swimming. I still haven't mastered the flip turn (and am actually too embarrassed to try as long as there's a lifeguard watching... I'll save it for the masters class I plan to join next month or so) and I still breath only on the left (which is, I'm sure, going to eventually give me a bad left earache, but *shrug*), but other than that, it's like I never took a break from swimming. My arms feel strong and my legs feel powerful.
I did it. I walked right into a cycling class and did it. I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to hang. That I would get all gung ho from adrenaline and spend too much energy early and burn out, but it didn't happen. There was only one little three minute stretch that I had to stay in the saddle while the rest of the class did jumps. I went back on Thursday and cycled like old times... pushing hard through hills and kicking ass on sprints. It was SO exciting.
I went to Zumba. It was like Zumba light. The instructor wasn't feeling well and warned us she was cutting the class into half an hour. It wasn't the Zumba I'm used to--complex/complicated choreography, but it was a nice little latin workout. And the instructor was a BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) meaning that she had "back" but that only motivated me even more. And, listen, chick could MOVE!!!! She was GREAT. I talked to her afterward about getting certified to teach Zumba (something my Charlotte Zumba instructor (HI LISA.... I MISS YOU!!!!) planted in my brain before leaving for France). So, I'm gonna go talk to the group fitness director tomorrow during spin class. It's not cheap, I'd have to drive pretty far to get to the training session and I wouldn't be able to get to one until August, but dude... it would be SO worth it. I would even teach it for FREE I love Zumba so much.
I went to a thing called "Muscle" in which we worked with hand weights, body bars, yoga balls and step benches. It was pretty good and intense. I was all shaky and hurting afterward (the cure for which is a good long swim workout). I also did one called "Flexible Strength" which targeted balance and core-building. I have it plotted out that I can go to the Y for three hours every morning except for Wednesday and Friday which I'll consider "light" days. I'm thinking about also starting to train for a full marathon. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull that off since I can't do any "long haul" runs on the weekends. I might wait until July to actually START training so that Sam can watch the kids on Saturday and let me run long. I could, however, START doing a little treadmill work during the week so that I already have some miles built up by the time he gets here and we'll see how well those treadmiles translate to road miles. We'll see.
Half-way through the month, I had my second parent-teacher conference with Ryan's teacher. She showed me what he had done at the BEGINNING of school (or HIS beginning, anyway) and what he's doing now and you wouldn't BELIEVE the difference. Seriously. It's amazing. I mean I knew he was doing okay, but I didn't know HOW okay it was. As you know, I've never really been concerned for his academics. I was more worried about behavior and whatnot. But his teacher told me that now that she spends so little time correcting his behavior (because of all the changes I put into motion), they get to spend more time on learning and that his academics have progressed by leaps and bounds! So, the changes we made worked.
Speaking of Ryan and behavior, Ryan got stickers EVERY DAY during the second week of the month!! I was SO GLAD because I was DYING to see "How to Train Your Dragon." We asked the neighbor kid to go with us and he agreed, only to call back later and cancel. Ryan was put out. We called another friend but she had already seen it (and though her mom was super cool, that phone call got me invited to yet another church). So, it was just the two of us. Since I wasn't paying for a second kid, I got us popcorn and a Sprite. It's not in my Eat Clean list of foods and whatnot, but I figure life shouldn't have to STOP completely, you know? I splurged and it was worth it (the calories, I mean... not the ridiculous prices they charge for movies, 3-D glasses, popcorn and soda *eye roll*). I'm hoping Ryan will get stickers every day this week so we can go see Shrek. Cross your fingers.
Last weekend, we had a 24-hour visit from Ryan's godfather, conveniently named Ryan. LOL. He drove up and ate and played with us. It was a good break for me. The Ryans played games and soccer and sight words and watched Backyardigans together while I cleaned and read and researched gardening stuff and whatnot. And then, when Little Ryan went to bed, Uncle Ryan and I had a couple of glasses of Arrogant Frog and talked until we couldn't keep our eyes open. I mean, as soon as we decided we were ready to sleep, we were out and snoring. While he was here, I got to make pancakes for breakfast and tacos for lunch. That was nice. Yeah, I know I'm a dork. Then, we watched "What Would You Do?", that show where they act out situations in a public setting and see how normal people react (like, will they step in if they see someone in danger or being exploited, etc.). That show ALWAYS chokes me up. I don't know why it moves me to see fellow Americans being good to each other but it does. Especially right now. It restores my faith in humanity and in America. Just as I was thinking this, I heard Ryan's breath catch in his throat... And for some reason, that made me wanna cry even more. But as the show ended, I also remembered how much I was about to miss my gay soul mate. How no one else can go into the closets of my heart, open 'em, give 'em a nod--no matter how dusty and unkempt they are--and still love me. He did tell me that he could see that Aaron's passing had stolen something from me. That some of my light has dimmed. He so so knows me. I just hope my dimming won't keep him away. I don't think it will.
An old writing buddy of mine posted on her Facebook status that she had just been signed with a literary agent. *mouth drops to floor* My first response was joy. PURE ELATION. My second? UTTER JEALOUSY. My third? GUILT. I haven't done anything literary since NaNoWriMo. If you've been following me all this time, you'll probably cut me some slack on all that. And I thank you. But it's been four months now since Aaron died and it's time for me to get back to writing about another special baby boy in my life. I have enlisted the help of a couple of very capable readers. SO, if you don't see me in here as often, there's a NEW excuse as to why (the old ones still apply, though, LOL). I've revised the first two chapters. As I started on the third, two things happened. 1) I suddenly HATED the first two and wished I hadn't sent them out yet and 2) the screen went out on my laptop!!!!!!! I just opened it up to get back to work and there was nothin. I was devastated. After trying several things, I decided just to take it straight to Best Buy to see if their Geeks could tell me what's wrong. Geek dude said it was the backlight and that it would cost $200 to replace it. A new laptop is $479. Guess what I did. Yep, I'm writing you on my brand new swanky Dell. THANKFULLY, I have a resident geek who made sure to program my external hard drive to back up everything the second I plugged it in, so I have access to my documents from the other laptop. The other one isn't broken completely and I have a friend who's gonna fix it for me cheap (THANKS, CHRISTOPHER!!!!) and I'll prolly give it to Sam when he gets here.
The garden, one of the biggest, mainest reasons for me to come back early? Sort of a dud. There's just too much clay in the soil. I KNEW I should have harvested the humus all around me and amended the soil, but there was the whole belly button fiasco and the late start fiasco and whatnot. Needless to say, I didn't amend the soil and I'm paying for it now. The peas and beans are still doing great. In fact, the peas are finally blooming. But the greens situation is abysmal and don't get me started on the herbs. The first cure was for me to start all new herbs in pots on the deck. Those are coming up and growing like, well, herbs. So, that's good... I have cilantro and am ITCHING to have tomatoes and peppers and onions so I can make SALSA already. BUUUUUT, the tomatoes who were so pretty and green and happy and growing? DUDS. I put them out on the deck to harden them so that I could get them into real ground. Then, it rained for nearly two weeks straight. They are no longer green (a sort of gray color actually) and are still extremely PUNY. I'm going to plant them into the holes of side-turned cinderblocks anyway to see if they do anything, but I'm not holding my breath. Just in case, I bought four tomato plants on clearance from Lowes and am going to go back to the natural food store to buy some of their plants, too. I HAVE to have tomatoes, y'all. Luckily, it looks like my peppers and eggplant are going to be okay, so... But that means it's time to start my summer crops inside and get some seedlings ready.
Square Foot Gardening
But what to do about my shitty soil? Well, actually, the soil isn't shitty enough. Literally. I need some compost. But then, I heard my Grump's voice in my head telling me, "You really should read this book, Square Foot Gardening." So, I went and bought it. And the dude in there promises that if you do what he says, you'll have veggies. And it really is a GREAT idea. HOWEVER, one of the main facets of success with dude's plan is to have what he calls "Mel's Mix" which is essentially his perfect blend of soil ingredients: peat moss, vermiculite and blended compost. Sounds easy, huh? All you have to do is build a box, fill it with Mel's Mix, plant your seeds and watch 'em grow. BUUUUUTTTTTT...... if you'll remember, one of the things I want is for the food I eat to come from the ground I walk on. The U.S. doesn't HAVE any peat moss anymore. We get all of our peat moss from Canada. It's a non-renewable resource, so that goes against all of my "green" philosophies. Vermiculite, though mined in Iowa, which is technically more local than Canada (unless you live in like Maine or New Hampshire or Minnesota or Washington and whatnot), is still not close. AND, the main vermiculite mine--the Grace Company mine--was found to be contaminated with asbestos in the 70's and wasn't regulated until the 90's. I know, I know, they put "asbestos free" on the bags, right? And that should mean I'm safe, right? But people write shit on bags all the time. BP said their drilling practices were safe and now the entire Florida marshland is destroyed forever. People say and write stuff all the time. Oh, and blended compost? That means compost from five different sources (mushroom, humus, manure, etc. etc.). Well, THAT's something I can agree with... Actually, I can agree with the whole box idea, too. But if I go to Lowes, the only compost they have comes from FAR away and only has humus and manure in it. That means I have to go combing all over god's creation looking for other composts from who KNOWS where.... I'm thinking the solution is this: To amend my soil. LOL! I'm still going to build his little box. But I think what I'm going to do is to take some of my own soil (very rich in mica, by the way, so I don't see MUCH of a need for the vermiculite anyway) and mix it with my OWN humus from my OWN woods and THEN, go to a LOCAL landscape/garden supply place and ask for organic/local compost and just buy a huge truckload of it. I'm going to dump it all out on a tarp just like he does in the book, mix it up, fill my boxes, put up my little grid and plant my little seeds. Wish me luck because boy howdy do I need it!
So, I'm sitting here last night, trying to watch the Lost finale when all of a sudden, my smoke detectors start blaring. 30 seconds. I figure they're doing it as some sort of automatic test. But a few minutes later, it does it again. I can't BELIEVE Ryan's not up screaming about it because, dude, it's LOUD. It stops. A few minutes go by. It starts up again and this time for a long time. I try just about everything (breaker box, vacuuming it, checking for a back-up battery, etc) but nothing seems to work. So, I make Ryan's lunch, pack up some stuff and head to the Best Western. I put in a call to the fire department but no one answered (REALLY?!?!) and though I left a message, no one has called me back. I've been here all day and it hasn't gone off again. I just hope it doesn't do it again tonight because I can't afford to pay $80 every time the damn thing does this. Neighbor dude says he'll take a look at it for me tomorrow and see if it's a battery thing. He also said that sometimes bugs get down in there and set 'em off. He's also going to help me get my fence going. We'll dig the post holes, set the posts, fill 'em with concrete and let 'em cure for a couple of days before starting the rest of the fence. Wish me luck on that. I need it.
So, yesterday, I figured I should give a quick look to the want ads just to see if MAYBE some sort of library job was open. Stupid idea, really, because there are so many libraries closing because of the "recession", etc. But lo and behold a pseudo-librarian position came up. A night job. I would start in August and would have the summer and vacations off. I would be working as the Night Supervisor in a college library. I'd LOVE to do this job. I'd get to work with people. I'd get to work at night. I'd make a little money. AND I'd still get to do my gardening/taking care of the kids during the daytime thing. I wouldn't get to see Sam much, but I don't see him much anyway since he comes home and plops down in front of the TV or computer (where he inevitably falls asleep). So, I think this would be good for me. It would make me feel like I would be bringing in some fundage that I could put toward the family projects, etc. PLUS, I'd be in a library, even if I wasn't acting as a "LIBRARIAN" so to speak. I spent all day yesterday revising my resume and cover letter. I really want this job, so wish me luck on that one.
So, I guess that's it... I know you all want pix, so here they are:
Playing with Uncle Ryan:
Ryan's "Crazy Hair Day" at school:
Muguet (Lily of the Valley--it's something French people give their sweeties on May 1st... Sam had a pot of it sent to me... awwwwww):
Ryan's progress at Lego-ing (see how he used the long blue Lego to vault the extension?):
Mountain Laurel (grows EVERYWHERE... stuff's viral... HIGHLY poisonous if ingested):
Wild blackberries blooming:
Upside down squirrel eating apple core:
Lamby on drums:
Tiger in the audience:
Ryan's demonstration of digestion:
At the end of the road:
A new kid:
Seedlings in the sun:
Sun on the garden and cardboard on the AISLES (that's for you, Uncle Ryan):
Blue Racer Lizard:
Making homemade gingerale
All chopped up
And these are pictures sent to me by Andrea (Lily's teacher in France). Merci, A!!!: