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No, there was not a “Day One” post. i was too tired to post anything last night and just fell asleep in the recliner. I woke up this morning around 9AM, solely because Harvey decided he wanted to go out. I stumbled around, made a cup of coffee, and decided I should take Harvey for a walk before I started Day Two. We returned home, I sat down in the recliner with my second cup of coffee and contemplated falling back asleep. All of my muscles hurt.

Ah, but that second cup of coffee worked miracles, and I was up and at ‘em by 10:00.

I started the laundry and hauled out the clothesline to greet the sunny and beautiful Palm Sunday. I located my garden gloves, the edger, the shovel, my knee pads, and all the other accoutrement necessary for making it through a second day of marathon gardening. You have to grab every opportunity here when the sun is out in April!

Yesterday, I took the edger and straightened out all the lines around the “island”. Today, I was undertaking the prayer garden.

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I wasn’t the only person out there. My next-door neighbor who lives behind us caught me at the grocery store where she works & I shop: she wanted me to know the ivy and the fence were coming down.

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I loaned them our yard debris can after they filled theirs. I figured it was for a good cause: to keep their dogs in their yard and our dogs in our yard, and to keep them as good neighbors. Their dogs did come over into our yard during the destruction of the fence, but they only wandered around in the weed-pile that is our fenced-in veggie garden. Harvey, of course, wanted to go in and play with them. These neighbors have two Labs, a black one that listens as well as Murphy does, and a yellow one that is relatively obedient.

While they did that, I filled up a tub with my own yard debris. I’ll put it in our big container next weekend.

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Today, I covered up the hole in the bamboo that Harvey chewed. I weeded 75% of the prayer garden and 75% of the southern border.

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You can see the second layer of bamboo screening in the background. Rather than taking the old screen down, I supplemented it with a second layer. It helps keep the view of the back yard neighbors to a minimum (this is the other set of neighbors that live behind us. You can’t see their house or them from this angle, and that’s fine with me. I’m not very fond of them).

The brown house in the photo belongs to our southern neighbors and I adore them.

I filled three buckets with yard debris. I tossed fern fronds onto the brush pile on the other side of the shed. I pulled out the compost bin because I think I have a better spot for it, closer to the back door. A sunnier spot that will heat the bin and compost the materials more quickly.

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That’s the pile of compost I have managed to create since I got the bin – not much, but it has settled and composted considerably.

Now I ache all over and I will probably drift off to sleep early. I don’t get to sleep in tomorrow. I don’t get to garden tomorrow, either. I would love to do both, but I have to go fight traffic and work at my Day Job.

It’s been a great weekend, however.

 

 

 

Overwhelmed

I have posted before about being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I usually cope fairly well, but sometimes there are days when I just feel overwhelmed and I want to shut down completely. Today is/was one of them.

I am an introvert and I draw my energy from being alone. I never took my children to places like Chuck E Cheese because I can’t stand the overwhelming sensory stimulation of the lights, noise, and crowds. I take my lunch break out in my car rather than in the office break room, simply because I need the little bit of down time that it provides. I have always been like this: when I was in elementary school, I was mistaken for a shy child (being an introvert is not synonymous with being shy) because I found school with all the bells, other children, and the noisy playground and lunch room overwhelming so I shut down and became quiet.

The past few years have been kind to my personality. I moved to an accounting position (I know: math and me! Never my strong point!) where few people bothered me throughout the day. Later, I gained a private office where I could simply close the door to shut out the noise and fend off the interruptions. Last year, however, my senior partner retired and a new person was hired to replace her: a highly extroverted person from a different culture. Now, I adore my new supervisor. She’s funny, we walk together twice a day, we go out to eat together sometimes, and we share some of our world with each other. She’s great, but she’s an extrovert who needs people and draws her energy from people.

If I only had her to work around, I’d be fine. That isn’t how it went today.

Externally (outside the job), I have some adult issues I need to take care of: a case of identity theft, a past due bill that isn’t past due (I have the proof), and ongoing insurance-didn’t-pay-my-medical-bill-from-the-last-car-accident issues. The latter is getting taken care of by the other insurance, finally. But I still have to call my doctor’s office and let them know that I don’t know what is up with my insurance because they told me they were paying it back in January. The accident was clear back in October.

Internally (at work), it is first of the month, my very busiest time, and it is March, which means we are coming out of the normal winter slump that real estate hits every year. Today, I had my usual large stack of closings to do in a short period of time (I complete the Broker’s files and issue the Broker’s checks on a daily basis. Most of the time, the Brokers like me). We are also in the middle of a huge remodel job of our office space and this weekend is the accounting department’s weekend to be displaced into temporary quarters while the construction crews build our fancy new cubicles. (I’m losing my private office with the door, but I still have me “QUIET – I AM WORKING” and “DO NOT DISTURB – DEPOSIT IN PROGRESS” signs. I made those signs when I was last in a cubicle, before the big move to the new office space two years ago.)

Lastly, I am cross-training two people so that I can take a well-deserved vacation this summer without burdening my supervisor unduly.

Oh – and they hired a new Accounting Manager to replace the Controller who is leaving for a better job, the RAT. The new person was at the office early and needed to chat off her nervous energy. I needed to dole out assignments for my trainees. I fielded their questions (one asks more questions than the other, but that is fine: there is no stupid question except for the one you did NOT ask). I checked their work. My supervisor stopped in half a dozen times with one or another issue (did I mention we just changed accounting software? Yeah. We’re still learning, and it is a process for all of us). Then someone stopped by to explain the move to someone in the hall, but they had to stand inside my door and include me in the conversation. We had to go look at our new temporary space to make sure we’d fit. Someone else came by to see if any of my office equipment was going to be given away (my desk, but not until after 5 on Friday – I do have to work until then!). They measured things.

The insurance company (the Other Insurance) called to let me know they were close to settling on my claim. And my HR person received mail from them that required her to fill out forms and return, but she’s a new HR person and wasn’t even on the job in October when I was in the accident, so I had to stop and explain all of that to her and where to find my absent times on my time clock 9which is online, thank God).

Further complicating my day was a voice mail the receptionist received from my former supervisor (the one who retired). I did not get a call: my former boss probably dialed my old phone number. Turns out, she fell and broke her pelvis (!!!) and is recuperating in a rehab center. She’s in her mid 80′s and they are telling her that she will be in a walker the rest of her life!

I couldn’t close my door to shut out the constant interruptions because I am training two people and they have to know I am available to help them.

My deadline for printing checks was made, but my deadline for depositing checks was missed and I left the office with overtime (not much, but it’s still rather harrowing when you miss a deadline and you’re trying to focus).

I messed up someone’s check and I figured out what I did while I was sitting in traffic on Highway 217. Parked in traffic, more like it.

I pulled over for an ambulance on the way to work (rollover on Hwy 217, the direction I was going – I went around it on a back road but I saw the wreckage – awful!). I pulled over for an ambulance on my way home from work (I didn’t hear what happened there, but the lighted highway sign said I-5 had one lane blocked three miles south of my exit).

I was in such a bad mood, I didn’t put in my audio book (I’m listening to The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and I’m afraid I was a bit too intolerant to listen to the Puritan’s persecution of that poor sinner, Hester. I wanted to shoot the Puritans tonight).

The mood lightened (nothing like Led Zeppelin and 1970′s Rock on KGON to lift my spirits – thank God they didn’t play any Aerosmith or Rolling Stones), but the lingering effects of too many people and too much stimulation held on.

I managed to finish our taxes online, but when faced with the simple task of paying April bills, I shut down. You know what? I’ve had enough for today. the world won’t end if I don’t pay bills until the second day of April. Heck, I used to pay them the day before they were past-due. I know which ones I can skate on because I’ve been Down That Road more times than I care to think about. The fact that I have been able to pay them ahead of time and always on the first of the month for a few years has been a bonus.

I am taking April First off because I am tired of being an Adult (hey, we filed our taxes!) and I am feeling like I just want all the noise, interruptions, and stimulation to SHUT UP.

BE QUIET.

No television, no music, no bill paying, no dealing with issues that I need to deal with: I am tired. That’s how an HSP deals with TOO MUCH in one day. We shut down. I’m shut down.

Thankfully, Harvey understands. He’s snoring softly in the background, content and happy. I had to give him a treat to get him to lay down and leave me alone, but… whatever works.

May tomorrow be better, quieter, and less stimulating than today.

Friday, I have to pack my office. I don’t want to think about Monday and unpacking.

P.S. – I am sharing this just in case you are an HSP and you don’t know that it is OK to shut down, or you are an introvert and you don’t know it is OK to be overwhelmed. I’m both. I should be a basket case tonight. The only reason I am not is… I can blog. I can also breathe in and breathe out and know that there *is* a tomorrow. Thankfully, I am not fourteen with no vision for tomorrow. You know teenagers don’t know there is a tomorrow, right? Hug your teen.

I digress. I always digress. Thinking calming thoughts now: breathe in/breathe out. Harvey needs those nose thingies I bought my husband that keep him from snoring. Seriously, the dog snores.

The Dogs in My Life

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Harvey Albert got a hair cut this weekend. He looks so handsome. This handsome fellow caused me to reflect on the dogs in my life, starting with the very first dogs.

I don’t have a photograph of my mother’s dog, Squeaky. I remember the dog, in that corner of my memory that is more sensory than pictures: he was a nippy little dog and I didn’t like him very much. I vaguely remember being awakened by him nipping on my fingers and toes. He didn’t try to hurt us and our parents thought he was amusing, but i didn’t like him. I think he was a Chihuahua-terrier mix of some sort.

Squeaky died some time after Butchy adopted us.

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Butch looked a little like the dog in the old photo above, except 1) Butch was not all Cocker Spaniel and 2) he was a lot like Farley Mowat’s “Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” than an actual dog. Butchy wandered into our lives when we lived in Elko, Nevada, before I was even in Kindergarten. He brought a lot of bad habits into our lives, but he also brought a larger-than-life personality.

He could not be restrained. We had an 8′ tall chain-link around our back yard. Butch climbed it.

Butchy, along with a handful of other dogs, was “grandfathered” in when they finally passed a leash law in Winnemucca. I could name them all: old dogs that had never been restrained, had never threatened anyone outside of their own yard, and were known to always be at the heels of children. All of them were the dogs that made growing up a treasure: dogs that were bigger than life.

Butch, for instance, chased rocks. You could throw a rock into the muddy Humboldt River and he would dive until he found the same rock to return to you. Sometimes, he would be underwater so long, you thought surely he would drown. But then he would be dog-paddling with his short Spaniel legs back to short and he’d drag his impossibly long Labrador body out of the water. Between his teeth would be a rock so similar to the one tossed that we were certain he’d sniffed out the original.

Butchy was good with cats, kids, horses, and grocery store owners. He was not so good with garbage collectors, uninvited salesmen, and other Alpha dogs. My mother once used him to chase off the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, who, as he kicked and scrambled out of our driveway, yelled back that he would “sue” my mother for turning the dog loose on him. Butch didn’t follow him beyond our driveway, and didn’t do too much damage to him: Butchy was not much more than an ankle biter.

He chased cars. I was ten years old when he died of a “high iron diet” and our father took him off to bury him privately. Each one of us kids mourned him privately and publicly, and we all swore there would never be a dog as wonderful as Butchy.

My best friend’s family had a Norwegian Elk Hound they called “Nipper” because he nipped. I knew Nippy for years, and never saw him nip anyone, so I always figured it was a puppy misnomer. Nipper was fun because you could point at a hole in the desert sand and say, “Get him!” Nipper would dig to China as long as you kept telling him there was something to dig for. The story behind Nipper was that someone turned loose a bunch of puppies at the city park and told the kids standing around that “if you catch one, you can have it.” Of course, Nipper’s parents could not refuse the triumphant boy who lugged his (nipping) prize home.

After Butchy died, my dad was content to just have the cat. My mom, however, could not live without a dog and mourned the loss. Someone dumped a purebred Miniature Schnauzer in the almost-ghost town of Paradise Valley. The folks living there – ranchers, for the most part – told my dad that they were considering shooting the dog as it was a pestilence, running loose and chasing stock.

He brought the dog home. Mr. Tack stayed with us for a couple of weeks, but it didn’t seem like he was happy or my mom was any happier. The dog moped. Reluctantly, my mother allowed my dad to return the dog to the wilds of Paradise Valley. She regretted the decision almost instantly, and soon the registered (but now paperless), abandoned, and moody Mr. Tack came to live with us.

We knew he was our dog when he first howled in the back yard and then began barking at people passing on the streets.

Tacky, as he came to be called, was obnoxious. I took him to 4-H to learn obedience training and to learn how to train a dog. Tacky defied every rule and even laid down in the show ring and went to sleep! Worse, when my mother was mad at one of us, she no longer yelled, “Terryjackiedenny!”, she now yelled, “Terrytacky-jackiedenny!” My name was continually mixed with Mr. Tack’s name.

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Mr. Tack’s only redeeming feature was his connection to my mom. He talked to her; she replied. He bit every family member, but he never nipped her. He attacked the garbage man. He ran away. He nipped the dog groomer. But he was devoted to my mom. She loved that dog.

Sometime in my childhood, I encountered dogs that were not good with children. there was Princess, the German Shorthair Pointer. She was kenneled most of the time with her dam, Queenie. They were used strictly for bird hunting. Princess would occasionally escape and when she did, she would attack children and other pedestrians. She was not a well-socialized dog.

There was Kelly, the Black Lab. Kelly took it in his mind to bark and attempt to chase children. The thing with Kelly was this: if you bent over as if to fetch a rock to throw at him, Kelly was back on his own front porch in no time. His bark was worse than his bite.

Then there was the Gordon Setter that belonged to the woman who had the <shudder> pet <shudder> monkey. Her name was Jackie. The monkey was evil, vicious, and, well, evil. I’m not very fond of monkeys, either (especially Spider Monkeys). This Gordon Setter nearly bit me in the face. I’m not going to lay the burden of guilt on the dog: we were telling ghost stories and he was the dog in the room (Jackie was the aunt of a friend). The Setter smelled fear. It growled a warning. I stood up, real fear settling in. Dogs will attack the scent of fear: the dog leaped at me and I jerked back. I felt his teeth slide across my face harmlessly.

The damage was done: if the dog was not a family member, I was afraid of it.

In my early twenties, I attempted to adopt a dog of my own.

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I found this sweet Dalmatian at the city pound. Mandy. She was a nervous, purebred wreck of a dog. But she came to love me unconditionally. Unfortunately for her, I met a man, fell in love, and when he discovered she was gun shy, it was only a matter of time before she had to be re-homed. I have always regretted losing Mandy.

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Then came this dog. Dogs like Butchy don’t happen twice in a lifetime, do they? I found her in a newspaper ad: part English Pointer, Brittany Spaniel, and English Setter. She was three months old when I stole her home to surprise my husband for his birthday.

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We named her Rosie. People mistook her for a Beagle. She had a heart as big as the ocean, and she was a darn fine bird dog.

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Rosie was good with children and cats. She was great with male dogs, for the most part. She was never good with other female dogs.

We moved into a trailer park in Rose’s twilight years. Everyone warned us to watch our dog around the Chow-Chow at the top of the hill, Bear. Bear didn’t like other dogs, we were told. We laughed: Bear hadn’t met Rosie.

Bear did come down to meet Rosie, his hackles high and a growl in his throat. Rose saw him coming. She balled all of her energy up and ran at him, hitting him square in the shoulder and rolling him. Bear ran all the way back up the hill, completely cowed. Rose was the new Big Dog in the neighborhood.

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If those jammies look like the same jammies in the other pic, they probably were. My son wore the same jammies his sister outgrew. He can be happy this isn’t a photo of him in the pink ones.

Rose, like Butchy, died of a high iron diet. We buried her under a little Douglas fir.

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Then came the first dog we paid for. Rejoys Hannah’s Promise. That was her registered name. We called her “Sadie”. She wasn’t much of a bird dog, despite being a pure bred English Pointer. But she was a great family dog.

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She was awkward and ungainly, always too skinny, and ever so loyal. Cancer took her, and we sat in the vet’s office, crying as she drew her last breath.

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Nearly a year later, Murphy came into our lives. Entirely my husband’s dog, a bull-headed, and way-too-smart Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. He is our second papered dog, purchased – as Sadie was – from a reputable breeder. The difference between Sadie and Murphy (aside from brains) is that Sadie came from show stock. Murphy came from hunting stock.

If I was of a mind to give him credit, he’s a better bird dog than Rosie. He’s a little too stubborn, too strong-willed, and too big for me to completely credit him. He greets me at the end of the day as if I was the only person in his world. He will be seven this May. It is hard to believe we have had this dog for almost seven years!

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And then, there is Harvey.

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Sometimes, I think Harvey is Mandy reincarnated. I always wanted a Dalmatian; she was my Dalmatian. I love English Setters; he is my Setter. The similarities between the two dogs are amazing (except Harvey is not gun-shy). Harvey will be five this year. That is hard to believe.

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I think, more than anything, I am so blessed that Harvey and Murphy think they are litter mates. There have been some cross words between them, but not very many. The one and only fight they have had was over gravy (Harvey won – he actually hurt Murphy). Murphy is the Alpha dog, regardless of the one fight he lost with Harvey.

They are such good dogs. And I have come a long, long way in recovering from my fear of dogs.

(But I still want a cat. Of course, I still want a horse, too.)

 

It was a perfect Spring weekend in which I endeavored to kill myself.

Truth. I decided to transform this:

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Into this:

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That is a lot of sod to remove. There’s a trick to removing sod by hand. You have to have a good edger and slightly wet soil. First you edge the area you want to remove, then yopu get down on your knees and slide the edger up underneath the grass roots, and slowly peel the sod away.

It is not easy, and I had to feel like I was twenty years younger to even attempt this feat this weekend.

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I even cleared the sod above the strawberries, although I cannot tell you what possessed me to push my body that far.

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I didn’t just dirty my jeans. I killed my back. The arthritis in my hands screams.

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I had to leave the grass in this clump of irises.

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And mingled in with my purple aster. There is an aster in that clump of grass. I don’t know how to separate the grass from the aster.

The iris, I know how: after it has bloomed, I will have to lift each rhizome from the soil, pry the grass roots away, and replant. I’m not up to it just prior to blooming season.

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My husband pruned his Hawthorne back. This tree has been run over by Caterpillars (the big yellow, mechanical kind) and chewed down by deer. We dug it up and transplanted it into our city yard when we moved into town from the country. Don is determined to keep it shrub-sized.

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He gave up at this point. You can see he will have to top that Hawthorne and soon. That poor Camellia in the background is going to suffer come heavy pruning this Spring as well.

Spring is always about whipping the garden back into shape. The better shape you left it in in the fall, the less work in the Spring. My problem is that every Spring, I want to expand on what I developed the prior year. I have lofty dreams for this yard.

We also have some pests to be rid of.

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Sometime in the last 12 months, we gained a rat or a rat family. Evidence of the rat’s hoarding began to show up in the garage in the form of shelled sunflower seeds.

I’ll have to quit feeding the birds for a time this summer while we seek out and destroy the rat and cleanse its habitat. <sigh> I just hope it’s not one of those great big Norway rats. The dogs hope they can catch it before we do (and we hope they don’t, despite the fact they have current rabies vax).

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While it was a gorgeous, sunny, warm weekend, each day began below freezing.

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The thin film of ice on the bird bath caught my eye before I started my day today. I love Spring for the extremes: freezing in the morning, warm in the day time (or hail, thunder, and lightning, with lots of rain). I just put on a sweatshirt and layer my clothes on those days that are dry enough to do yard work.

I promise that I paced myself. It took me two days to get the north flower bed weeded and shaped. When I was younger, I would have done it all in one day.

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Hervey wants you to know he “helped”. I swear I brush him. He just always looks like this half-brushed, unkempt dog.

He’s getting his hair cut off next weekend. He’ll be so much happier. So will I.

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We ended the day with a fire in the firepit that Don received as a retirement gift last year. It’s the first fire we’ve burned in the pit.

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Ahhhhh.

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I watched this fellow sun himself and then he scurried for a cooler place to be as the fire heated up.

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Yay. They don’t warn you about the paint emitting fumes as the fire warms the pit. Kind of reminds me of the smoke from my mother’s cigarettes.

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It was a beautiful Spring day that ended with a cozy fire. I love how this looks like some sort of creature with two tiny red eyes and a big red mouth.

Happy first Spring weekend!

 

 

Boundaries and Dogs

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I can hear the rain pouring outside my window right now. It held off until tonight, and we had an absolutely gorgeous weekend for yard work.

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I used the good weather to finish up dead-heading all the peonies and a few other plants (like the oregano) as well. But mostly, I used it to try to get ahead of the dogs. As in, I fenced off all of the Dragon Lilies (Dracunculus vulgaris) to keep them from being eaten when they bloom.

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And I moved the little wire fences around in an attempt to further dog-proof the fence.

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This is Culprit#1. He eats the Dragon Lilies. Hey, they smell like Dead Meat. Apparently, they are not poisonous to dogs since Murphy is still with us after several years of attacking the Dragon Lilies.

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This is Culprit #2. He eats fences. And digs holes. He’d climb the fences, too, if he wasn’t overweight because he also eats anything edible, including dog poop.

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Culprit#2 has been working on the bamboo screening.

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He’s so fun. He does this not because he is bored (but the longer he is left out in the yard alone, the more damage he does), but he does it because he was born with a wanderlust that was firmly embedded in his personality by the time he was a year old and came into our family. We have been battling with him over the fence ever since.

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This corner has him flummoxed. But, he can’t see any gaps and hasn’t tried very hard since I stapled up the wire.

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Chicken wire is the most effective tool, but it is very difficult to weed through and I had to weigh it down with a lot of big rocks and old concrete blocks.

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An unfolded tomato cage works on the big gate. He nearly had the gate open when I caught him here – he was just steadily applying pressure on it by poking his head under and pushing.

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This arrangement is all because of Culprit#1: there are several plants there that I do not want eaten, and so I have a fence within a fence, and structures set carefully over the vulnerable plants.

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They don’t bother the oregano, I just wanted to show you that I got it all dead-headed down to the moss and framed in. And to show you how tall some of the peonies (red stalks) are already.

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My rosemary plant. Or, it was my rosemary plant until Harvey thought he smelled a critter – or a way to escape by digging under the house. Murphy helped with some of the digging. This summer, this corner is going to be covered with paving stones.

They are good dogs, really. Murphy is a territorial barker who occasionally barks at the wind, always barks at firecrackers, and challenges anyone walking down the street. Seriously? They aren’t even in our yard, Murphy. He does not bark non-stop, which is to his merit. He is actually pretty quiet most of the time. He does not try to escape, no matter how bored he is in the yard (besides, he knows how to open the back door and just lets himself in when he’s bored. He does not know how to close the back door).

Harvey gets bored easily. He checks out every weak spot in the fence and any time he is ignored for more than ten minutes, he starts to wreak havoc. He doesn’t usually bark when we are home except to ask for something (out, a treat, a walk). He barks when he thinks I am going somewhere without him. He barks when he sees we have visitors (“Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy!”). He barks non-stop when we are not home and that is why we own a bark collar. He can be trusted for a couple of hours in his kennel without a bark collar, but not for more than 8 hours.

Murphy pushes on the fence. Harvey digs.

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Our fence woes are not limited to dogs. The neighbor who owns this fence stopped me at the grocery store last week to assure me that they are going to replace the entire fence this summer – this section and the section belonging to their neighbor which is falling into our neighbor’s backyard. It’s a daunting project. They are aware it needs to be done.

They have two labs that dig. Mack and Daisy. I know Daisy real well, because she is the one that gets yelled at the most. “DAISY!” They know both “MURPHY!” and “HARVEY!”

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I stopped here. I need to get in behind the grapevine and dog-proof that corner where the espalier and wood fence come together. Harvey has a big hole dug there under the fence and he’s eaten the bottom of the corner boards, so this bit is a little trickier. I think a little chicken wire, buried, in addition to the decorative fence.

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What I did here was put decorative fence up against the wood, pushed it into the ground, and stapled it to the wood. Then I put a second decorative fence in front of it by about 6 inches. Harvey can’t get behind it to even start digging and he can’t get a bite hold of the fence bottom. If you click on the photo, you can see where he’s worked on this section before.

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This, by the way, is “LET’S GO FOR A WALK!” barking. We put in a mile this morning.

We have turned the corner on winter here in the Pacific Northwest. So much so, that I downloaded a satellite photo of our house and started the long process of photo-shopping it so I can start to plan out my garden beds for 2014.

garden plan 001I figured this was the most accurate way to plan my garden & design expanded flower beds – it will truly be to scale.

That was on the weekend. Monday came and I had to drag my sorry self out of bed an hour early to start my work week.

We have a small house, and when we first moved in, I found it was easier to do my make-up and hair in the laundry room where I could reserve a shelf just for my things. We still had kids living with us and the competition for the bathroom could get fierce. Now the kids have moved on and my husband sleeps in (he’s retired), but I still do my makeup in the laundry room.

I do everything else in the bathroom: shower, brush my teeth, anything that requires water.

In the laundry room, the wire to my curling iron rests in the bottom of the mud sink while I put on make-up and wait for it to heat.

This morning, I noticed something odd in the drain.

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I wondered what had been dropped down in there? An old toothbrush used for cleaning now? A paintbrush? Something with a long, green, plastic handle?

I tentatively poked at it with the long handle of my comb. it moved, ever so little.

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I took a longer, unbelieving look. Yup. A sunflower. There’s a freaking sunflower growing in the mudroom sink drain!

Makes me wonder when the last time was that we ran water down that drain. And when did this sunflower germinate? How did it get into the sink drain? Oh, well, that part I can probably figure out – I probably cleaned a bird feeder in there sometime in the past couple of months.

I showed it to my husband tonight. the conversation went, “Hey, Don, come see my sunflower.”

“Your sunflower?”

“Yes, my sunflower.”

“What sunflower?”

“Just come here.”

“Here? In the laundry room?”

“Here. See.”

“What the -? Did you take a photo of it?”

Why, yes, Honey, I did. And I blogged about it, too. But there’s a bigger question:

How long should I leave it in there?

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SPROING!

This is a three-part blog post. The first part if the hardest part: test results. The middle part is shopping at Goodwill today. The last part is things I pulled out of the attic. None of it ties together, but that’s all right because I warned you first. That doesn’t make me a great writer, just good at forewarning the reader.

I saw the doctor on Wednesday of last week. The results of the test were pretty much what I knew they would be, because it is the answer I’ve been getting for over two years. Why should it change now?

It is actually very good news which, I suppose, stretched, could tie this blog post to the third point: hope. I’m not going to die of the gross hematuria. What causes it will remain a mystery, but I have – in the words of this doctor – explored every possible avenue to locate the source of the problem. She theorizes (as did my last specialist) that there is a capillary or small blood vessel that is between my kidneys & my bladder and which is broken and unable to heal itself. It pumps blood into my bladder, but not so much as to cause me to be anemic or ill. It just looks ugly and scares everyone. The alternative to that theory is that this is the very beginning stages of something else, but we’ll just monitor my blood counts every six months and see if anything changes.

Chances are, it will just go away. I’m banking on that.

In other words: I am healthy, I am not a hypochondriac, and we can put to rest any fears of bladder cancer or bizarre autoimmune disease. It has been over two years and cost us thousands of dollars, but I have a clean bill of health (so to speak).

Part Two.

Partly in celebration of this diagnosis (or lack thereof), I decided to spend some money at Goodwill. I love thrift stores.

I was looking for a particular item which I did not find, but I found these two items:

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A charming 4″ tall duck with a rake. It had to come home to my house to be a part of my Easter decorations.

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I walked by this several times. It isn’t functional, just decorative. I wondered if I could paint it & hang it on the fence or the shed?

After I brought it home, I wondered if I could take the shelves off.

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It was brand new and the screws were easy to remove. One house is missing the finial. I want to hang them in tandem, in much the way I photographed them. I don’t think I will repaint them, even.

Unrelated, but somehow here in the middle: I also went to World Market/Cost Plus.

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I found this there. It reminded me of Redwall Abbey and Brian Jacques, the author of Martin the Warrior. I had to purchase it. It was really yummy and I felt like a mole stealing a sip in the cellar with the Hedgehog.

Burr Hurr.

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Part Three: because I bought the duck, I was reminded that I needed to pull out the Easter decorations. I won’t bore you with how that entails moving boxes back out of my 12×6′attic in order to find the three boxes that belong to Easter, and then putting everything back into the attic in a different order. I have to put on knee pads and climb in and out of the attic, because it is really just a crawlspace in the loft. It does have a light.

It also has a lot of loose insulation. But no spiders. Spiders don’t like the crawl space for some reason. Maybe it’s the loose insulation?

P.S. – I added the lavender raincoat to hide the telephone mess behind the baker’s rack.

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Easter is about hope, new life, resurrection. As we (Christians) have attempted to incorporate Beltane and other spring equinox celebrations, Pagan symbols have slipped into it: eggs and bunnies, for the most part. Lambs have to do with the Christian celebration, but they are also a symbol of renewed life.

I have no problem mixing metaphors, and since most Christian holidays are mixed metaphors, that’s probably a good thing. I could never be a purist, throwing the eggs, chicks, bunnies, chocolate, and May Pole out with the Christmas tree, Yule log, and that fat jolly elf from the North Pole.

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My collection of bunnies has become a family. I decided the grey one is really a lop-eared bunny, not a hare. The feet are wrong for a hare.

So: hope. Easter.

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Daffodils and Lenten Roses. I’m beyond excited that my Lenten Rose (the only one that has survived out of three) is large enough that I can cut some blooms and not harm the integrity of the plant – and that it has bloomed in time for Lent.

So there I am: test results: healthy. Today’s finds: fun. Tomorrow’s hope: another season of birth, and a season of rebirth.

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