Sunday, May 31, 2009

a slight retraction

I have to make a correction to this post.

I was wrong. I should not have suspected that my mom sneaked into my house, snagged my black workout sweats, smuggled them away to her house and sewing machine, and would return them, freshly mended, unannounced, at a future date.

Uh, well, you see, uh, I found them in the very bottom of my hamper when I did the laundry this morning. Hm.

Okay, so this is me apologizing for even suggesting, questioning, or telling you kids that my mom would ever do such a thing.

And if you love me even the tiniest bit, you will comment to this post and remind me that it wasn't really that unrealistic to think my mom had my sweats.

Friday, May 29, 2009

posting flurry

I don't know what's gotten into me today, because this is my third post in the last couple of hours, but I thought of something else I needed to tell you kids. (Well, two something elses.) It could be that three hours of humanities homework I've got to finish before 11:59 tonight.


I'm waiting for my one of my favorite nonblog websites to load--- . I go there to play some word games and to do the crossword puzzles, but I also like to see what the word of the day is (today's word--malinger: to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness [as to avoid duty or work]). Check it out, you might find something you'll enjoy spending 10-15 minutes with...

That was the first thing. This is the second thing.

Stu recently had his monthly blood tests to see where he is on the liver transplant list. Guess what? He is apparently doing better. In fact, his score is so much lower that he doesn't need another blood test for three months (unless he gets sicker) and if a liver became available that matched him, it would go to someone in a different state in our region who is sicker than him. Maybe this sounds weird, but I smile whenever I think of this.

shrubbery and other garden delights

You may not be aware of this amazing plant life we call SHHHHHRUBBERY

This is the first time the bridal wreath has blossomed in its shady spot under the plum tree

and even though Jr tried to eliminate this snowball by my bathroom window, it is coming back

I don't even remember what this shrubbery is called, but I don't remember thinking it would have these adorable pink flowers

This is one of many lilac varieties in the gardens. It had a half a dozen clusters of fragrant blooms this year like most of the others and it's the same size (note the six-foot block wall behind it) as all but one other lilac~~~

This is the one small lilac. It is covered with masses of heavenly scented blossoms. It reminds me of the the little train that could. (And yes, that is totally a dandilion in bloom.)

These are a clump of yellow lilies that are one of the few remaining plants from the previous owners. I don't think this picture does them justice.

Raise your hand if you don't love flax. I thought so.

This is our new tree--the Leyland Cyprus--it reminds me of a tree you'd find in a Dr Seuss book.

These wild geraniums are all part of the same plant. I like to think this plant is not afraid to be itself and show that it has more than one facet to its personality.

first haircuts and silly boys

you can probably guess which is which, correct?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

two quick stories

I guess it's been a few days since I've posted, but let me just say two things about school. First, I'd forgotten that the classes my school offers that are four days a week, four hours each evening, for three weeks involve a heap of homework that there is no time to get done. Doh! And one other word of warning in case any of you are thinking about taking Astronomy (aka, Physics 1040 Astronomy). This is the word of warning: PHYSICS. Uh, what? Did I take Astronomy because I wanted to avoid physics? YES. Did I take Astronomy because I thought it would be about constellations or the zodiac or something like that? YES. Should I have paid more attention to the name of the class? YES. Who knew that astronomy is ALL ABOUT PHYSICS? AND PLANETS AND STARS AND GALAXIES AND MORE PHYSICS AND WEATHER AND MORE PHYSICS???

you've been warned.

So about those two quick stories. (and by quick, I mean, quick in my story world, which means short story instead of novel. again, you've been warned, right?)

We spent a bunch of time with my family this past weekend. In particular, my parents, because my dad's birthday was Friday night. (happy 84th dad!) We were all invited to my parent's house for mini-eclairs and mini-cream puffs and fresh fruit. I'd called my dad first thing Friday morning to see if he wanted to go to dinner for his birthday before he had dessert at their house, but we decided it was going to be too much eating for him since my brother had already invited him to lunch that day. We made a plan to eat dinner on Saturday night and then we all got together on Friday night for dessert. It was a warm night and I'd been working on my physics, I mean, astronomy, all day, so we didn't stop to change clothes, we just jumped in the car, me in my knee-length black sweats that have an L-shaped rip in the right knee from the day that JoJo grabbed a mouthful of sweats with her fang as I walked by. My mom offered to fix the tear for me that night if I'd just take off my pants and give them to her. I pointed out that if I did that I wouldn't have on any pants and my aunt Jean and I chuckled at the thought of that, but I could tell that my mom so wanted to mend those sweats.

I called on Saturday afternoon to see if my parents were ready to go eat and when my dad answered the phone, I was a bit surprised because he usually can't hear the phone ring and also can't hear people on the other end of the phone. Anyway, he said he had been about to call me because he wasn't feeling so good and he wanted to postpone to another time. He said he was feeling lightheaded, so I asked how his blood sugar was since he's a diabetic. He assured me it was good--he'd just checked it and it was 110. Then he said he was having trouble seeing--so I asked him again, how his sugar was, and again, he assured me it was good. He said we could talk later about our new dinner plan, and then he said goodbye, and I told my family we were postponing the birthday dinner again but would likely get together either Sunday or Monday, which was Memorial Day.

My mom called later and asked what dad had said when I called. I related the conversation to her and that's when I learned that she hadn't been home when I'd called earlier (I should have realized that when my dad answered the phone). She had been out shopping and when she got home, my dad was still having a sugar problem because apparently he'd taken his insulin and then been very active and that had caused his sugar level to drop way too low. Mom had given him something to eat that was quickly absorbed and he was recovering just fine.

Sunday night my mom called and suggested that maybe we should all go to breakfast early Monday morning and then we could go put flowers on the graves. Jack and I agreed to join them at the IHOP and Stu, Shi, and Audrey joined us. As always, it was an adventure at the various cemeteries, but this is a short story, so I'll just say that we all kept our arms and legs inside the car and enjoyed the ride.

This morning though, while I was getting ready for work, I couldn't find my black sweat pants. I looked everywhere--under the bed, the sofa, in the laundry baskets, the closet--but to no avail. My sweats have disappeared. There would be no workout for me today at the gym without my sweatpants.

I suspect my mom slipped into my house when no one was here, snagged my pants and took them home to mend. I suspect she'll return them, unannounced, because, you know, I'll never notice that the tear has been closed, right?


On Mother's Day, Jack took me perennial shopping. I'd picked up a bunch of plants and put them in my cart and was holding one--a scabiosa--in my hand. Scabiosa is a plant that has pale violet blossums and looks a bit untamed in my gardens and has always been a welcome addition because of the color and open airy feeling it has. As I stood there waiting for Jack, a woman walked by and commented to her adult son, "Oh look, my favorite flower--scabiosa."

A few minutes later, she came back and said, "You have my favorite flower--scabiosa!" I commented that I really like them too. She asked me if I liked them for the same reasons that she did--because they are the perfect flower to teach children to never touch flowers. I gave her exactly the look you would expect--my best, "WHAT?" She explained that if you touch the blossums they burn your palm and that is the best way that she knew of to teach little kids to never touch her flowers.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

i don't think i mentioned this

It's been almost two years since I left school, rather unexpectedly, really. Back then, when I broke into shards and then tiny little bits and pieces and realized that between the medications and my painfully obvious inability to collect all of the bits of my mind that were strewn about--that even though I did my best to pick up all of the pieces, crawling around finding them under the furniture and behind the doors and seemingly splattered everywhere else I looked--I was simply going to have to give up on college. I did not think I could or would ever go back because I didn't think I would ever find the strength or the desire to even consider it again.

But, last week, while checking out the college workout and weight lifting rooms website, I felt this little stirring of interest in school again. Surprisingly, that stirring led to a desire to see just how many classes I still needed to complete my degree. And amazingly, that desire led to my fingers clicking away on the college website and determining that I only needed eight more classes to graduate--four general ed classes and four classes in my major field of study.

I had been so close. So close.

That is when I realized I was ready to finish now. I wanted to go back to school, go back to finish my degree, go back to studying and learning like I did almost two years ago.

I started scanning through the class schedule, checking out my options, and before I knew it, I was registered for classes that began this week. And I'm back in school. And once again, it is scary and fun and educational and good and overwhelming. But mostly good.

Mostly, it feels really good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

may i speak, please?

This is a short list of the things I've done this weekend (with long commentary):

1. Spent Friday night-all night!-- with Jessie's girls because it was Cory's birthday on Saturday and I casually suggested that Friday might be a good time to redeem their "Good for one night at the Marriott, including baby sitting by Gramma" coupon that Jack and I gave them for Christmas, especially since we planned to give them some money for dinner for Cory's birthday. (The sweeties and I made and ate pancakes, played princesses, watched a new movie that mom Jessie put ON the fridge, gramma, not IN the fridge, slept soundly all night, and enjoyed fresh fruit and donuts for breakfast. Also, Jessie said that Cory pronounced it his best birthday present ever.)

2. Attended a "baby shower" for my niece on Saturday afternoon with my mom, Shi, Audrey, Jessie, Cory, Breanne, and Janey. (Enjoyed more fresh fruit, time with all of the girleys playing adorably together, mini-cream puffs, and lots of amazingly cute baby boy gifts. Disappointed that only my aunt and uncle and one sister-in-law attended out of a possible 50 or so relatives. Not that I expected MORE MEN at a BABY SHOWER--yes, I'm old school about showers, I like the typical shower food and I like the silly games as long as there is time to visit. But this shower was the new-fangled open house type of shower with more men then women, and none of my other nieces--who have all had babies and thus baby showers that were supported by my niece and her mom--none of said nieces attended the shower. Yes, I know people are busy, but how hard is it to stop in at an open house shower where you are not going to be able to sit down anyway because all of the men are sitting on all of the seats? Seriously. I could understand not showing up if you were generations apart, but these nieces all played together every Saturday at my mom and dad's house for years. And years. It seemed so not nice. And not very understandable.)

3. Later, Jack and I sat down to watch some racing. The phone rang and it was our eldest, who called to imitate somebody who was part of the pre-race festivities. This is the conversation Jack and I had after I got off the phone with Stu:

Me: I think we are his best friends.

Jack: What do you mean?

Me: He calls us to talk about racing and hockey like guys in beer commercials call their friends to talk about racing and hockey.

Jack: We are his best racing and hockey friends. Probably his only racing and hockey friends. We are the only people he knows who will talk about racing or hockey.

Me: You don't think he'll stop calling if I blog about this, do you?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

and then today---

Jack and the drummer planted the tree and I moved a couple of the newly planted perennials that would have been under the tree if I'd left them in place.

And let me just tell you one gardening hint: if you are ever at the nursery and you see a lovely healthy plant that has pale green and cream colored leaves and you notice that "weed" is part of its name, as in, "Bishop's Weed"---


Unless you want a complete bed, no yard, no neighborhood full of bishop's weed. Even if you don't water it and you plant it right next to the hot, hot sidewalk. It starts out as a sweet little carpet of green and in just a few short moments, it has taken over everything in sight. And when you try to dig it up, you will find it has a root system that looks like that knot-tying stuff people did in the 70's--what was that called, not origami, or boondoggle, but, oh man, this is driving me crazy--okay, it was macrame (thank you google).

Okay, so the root system of the bishop's weed is like some macrame project got buried underneath the lovely green and cream-colored leaves.

Anyway, don't buy it unless you want a lot of it in your yard. And your neighbor's yard. And your grass. And in any vehicle that parks within two feet of it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

mission accomplished

Turns out that if you swallow a couple of aleve with a non-narcotic muscle relaxant (I know, what fun is that?) but anyway, if you do that in the evening and again in the morning, you can miraculously heal your back, and even more miraculously, plant all of the perennials you received for Mothers' Day gifts, even clearing out most of the weeds in the beds and the pine cones that have dropped from the neighbors' trees and trimming back the spent daffodils and tulips.

I'd post pictures if I'd finished planting before dark. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a little list

Things I need to do:

1. Plant the 30 perennials Jack and I picked out for me for Mother's Day.
2. Plant the 4 columbines Stu, Shi, and Audrey gave me for Mothers' Day.
3. Supervise the planting of the new tree Jack and I bought--it's a Leyland Cypress and a beauty at that.
4. Magically heal the pain in my lower back that has moved down the front of my thigh so I can complete 1, 2, and 3.
5. Invent that amazing, back-relieving, age defying, youth returning potion so I can accomplish all of the things I want to do now that I'm so wise, but don't do because I can't remember what they are.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

flowers on the graves

i just got back from visiting with my gramma. it's hard to believe that it's been only 3 1/2 years since she died. sometimes, still, i ache with the loss.

i took some tulips from the gardens to lay on her headstone. she would have like them--the dark purple with the creamy white and the just right pink. enough contrast that she could have seen them all, even with her failing eyesight. and she would have been delighted because i didn't pay for them and because i grew them.

i could tell that my mom had been to her mother's grave recently because the grass and soil around the headstone had been removed so that if one wanted and was strong enough, one could easily lift under and remove the headstone. this was clearly my mom's offering, her indication of love to her mother, her act of service. but to me, it felt like such a violation--her once or twice yearly visit to clean up the graves of her parents and relatives, cut back the grass, expose the stones. in much the same way we differ when it comes to pruning (my method is to cut back one branch at a time with my clippers, my mom prefers the electric hedgeshearers that remind me of a chain saw), mom and i have different ideas about the way to tend to the grave of the dearly departed. whenever i visit, i use my hands to pull out the bits of grass that encroaches, whereas mom prefers a shovel that can remove sod and soil leaving a jagged edge of dried dirt and exposed roots. i'll admit to feeling more than a little overprotective when it comes to gramma, but now that she is gone, the only thing i can give to her is the care and time i spend at her grave. i take that responsibility very seriously.

i'm always a bit fascinated by what i see at the cemetery. most of the time when i go visit, it isn't a special remembering day, like mother's day, so the flowers and decorations are few and far between. a potted mum or gerber daisy here or there, or a mass of wreaths and sprays, tipping over and wilting from lack of water, going just as surely as the recently buried beneath them to that cold dark night. mother's day brings many more offerings--from the tiny potted violets to the vibrant geraniums to bunches of colorful balloons to masses of freshly cut lilacs. today i saw the largest, brightest azalea i've ever seen. it must have cost a fortune. it was the kind of plant my gramma would have asked me to help her purchase, place lovingly on a grave, and remove the next day to plant in her yard.

i noticed something else at the cemetery today in the fading light of dusk.

dandilion seed heads.

so many graves, so long forgotten, with only the white puffballs of seeds that are so despised in the perfect lawns of my neighborhood. today at the cemetery, they dotted the graves of those long gone or recently forgotten, and in the late spring light, i thought they were a beautiful gift.

mother's day greetings

When a child comes into your arms, your heart, your life, there is never another day that is not a mother's day. There may be ups and downs, joy and pain, understanding and confusion, but even when there is distance, there is a closeness that never goes away. And if there is distance, there is a yearning--sometimes deeply buried, sometimes just beneath the surface--but a yearning for the distance to lessen and the closeness to return. Because every day is a mother's day.

This year, the people who remember me on the day designated for remembering mothers, those people who I knew before anyone else knew them, those people I loved before anyone else loved them and will love for longer than anyone else will love them, those people who have brought more joy than pain, ups than downs, understanding than confusion, understood me well enough to give gifts from gardens and from the heart.

Friday, May 8, 2009

seriously awesome dog

Yes, it's another post about JoJo. But this event was so amazing, I simply had to share it with you, dear readers.

Today, Jack and I were sitting in the TV room, waiting for hockey to begin, eating our dinner of grilled chicken (with a bit of marinara sauce and a handful of mozzarella shreds) and salad (have you tried those salad spritzer dressings? yummy and not too high in anything)--uh, slight digression...

So. We finished eating our dinner and I put my plate on the foot rest on my half of the reclining love seat so JoJo could jump up and have a few licks. And Millie, the fat tabby cat, who was sitting behind my head on the back of the love seat, let out a little bark, while JoJo licked the plate clean.

Or at least that is what it sounded like. It was really JoJo who let out the little bark, because apparently she is a ventriloquist dog--she can lick a plate and throw her voice at the same time!

Impressive, eh?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

good news

JoJo is back--acting more than a little loopy, leaping up on everything and everyone and forgetting that it hurts when she jumps down because she gives a little "YIP" every time.

Oh--I had an epiphany today, which considering the importance of epiphanies in general and this one in particular, probably warrants all caps. But I digress. Remember back a while when I set some goals to like, oh, "drink more water, forgo the daily burgers/fries/egg mcmuffins, eat fruits and veggies every day, exercise at least 30 minutes each day, and lose 40 pounds. Oh yeh, and fix the economy and settle down the world so we have peace." Last week, Jack and I decided that unless we started getting serious, none of those resolutions were going to happen. (I realized also that even though we bought a new American-built truck and a new computer monitor and stopped discussing politics in heated voices, we probably couldn't fix the economy and create world peace by ourselves.)

But that isn't the epiphany.

So what we did was we made a serious commitment in the form of hiring a trainer, Carla, who is a very nice, if somewhat shy woman, who we visit weekly, so she can measure us all over and pinch our fat, and push us onto the scale. Then she gives us menus--exact amounts of everything we can eat for the week, and then she gives us a list of exercises including how many reps or how many minutes, and she assures us that we will begin burning fat and building muscle, losing fat and gaining muscle, becoming more fit and healthy and able to move more with ease.

That is not the epiphany.

Jack and I have started eating healthily, and exercising regularly, and drinking more water, and drinking less soda. And today, I realized, that for the first time in my life, I have begun eating simply because my mouth is empty.


That is the epiphany.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

surprising, really

I'm still home. But I'm mending. Probably could have withstood the effort it would have taken to get to the office today, but why risk exposing my co-workers to whatever it is that has laid me so low? I mean, seriously, I like those people.

It's very quiet around here today. Even with the loudly playing music (apparently nobody sings in the shower anymore unless accompanied by a band on cd), and the comings and goings of various visitors (preparing to register the motorcycles because they 'wanna ride'), even with that noise, er, commotion, uh, liveliness, even with all of that, it's still kinda quiet around here.

JoJo isn't home today. She's off at the vet's office, having that procedure done that is performed on all animals whose owners love them enough to not allow them to reproduce. I sit on my sofa, amazed at how quickly I've become accustomed to the frantic, leaping, whinnying excitement that is JoJo. Nobody has licked my fingers or nipped at them today, and nobody has leapt onto my lap from ten feet away after rounding the corner running full speed ahead, and nobody has run figure eights through the entire length of the house for ten minutes, occasionally causing one of the cats to hiss or growl or snort.

Nobody has snuggled up next to me on the sofa either, or followed me through the house, or wagged her tail and gazed trustingly up at me either. I'm more than ready for her to get home soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

you don't watch playoff hockey?

Like most things, hockey play intensity comes in different levels.

There is the level of the recreational league players--Jack had a friend who played on offense (trying to score) because he couldn't skate backwards, and you had to be able to skate backwards to play defense.

Then there is the level of minor league players--like the Grizzzz. Those guys can skate both directions and if you're lucky, you'll get free tickets on the front row so you can bang on the boards (the glass around the rink) whenever the players are in your vicinity.

There is regular NHL hockey--those guys skate so fast it makes the other levels look like they are standing still, or maybe skating backwards.

And then there is NHL playoff hockey. I know, you've probably grown up thinking that hockey is all about the fights. A bunch of big, white, padded guys with sticks who occasionally score between fights. But that isn't playoff hockey. Playoff hockey is truly the best hockey. And it doesn't matter which teams are playing. They are the best. They can skate and change directions and score or be on offense or defense at any time. Typically they skate for less than 30 seconds per shift and then leave the ice and a teammate takes their place for 30 seconds and you might think, they only skate for 30 seconds at a time? But that is because they are skating so hard and so fast that it is exhausting. And they are average size guys who must be in incredible shape to be able to play at this level. And while there is the occasional fight or illegal hit, most of the time, hockey players ref themselves--after all, they all have sticks so things are kind of evened out.

One of my favorite times in NHL playoffs is when there are three minutes left in a game and one team is behind by one or two points so they send their goalie off the ice, and if they work it right, get a penalty on the other team so they have a two-man advantage and the possibility of an easier score. Or the other team has the possibility of scoring on an empty net.

When Jack and I first started watching hockey, some of the players still played without helmets. (Seriously. No helmets.) The refs didn't wear helmets either. Before too many seasons, all of the players and all of the refs but one were wearing helmets. That ref's name was Fraser. And his hair was so completely covered with 'product' that it looked like he was wearing a helmet even though he wasn't. This picture doesn't really do him justice. But it does show how involved he gets in his job. And gives a good look at why fans love to hate him.

And hockey games continue until one team wins. Sudden death overtime. During the seventh game of one of the games leading up to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1987, the game continued for 68 minutes of overtime--eight minutes into the fourth overtime. It went on for so long that one of the broadcasters got a bit loopy and started removing his clothing, even wearing his tie on his head--you can check it out here. Okay, maybe you had to be there...silly Bill Clement.

Anyway, if you haven't watched hockey, you are missing a great game. It is a team sport. The refs treat all of the players the same. No 'kobe rules' and 'everybody else rules'. There is no place for the in-your-face punkism that rules the NBA and NFL. (Yes, I am old school.) And at the end of the playoffs, the teams line up and shake hands with each other.

And finally, if none of these things have convinced you that you should watch some playoff hockey, do it for the names. Where else will you hear an announcer introduce Nikolai Khabibulin--which is, right now, my favorite NHL name.

Okay, everybody say it with me: Nick-O-Lie Khab-E-Bull-On. Make sure you get that throat-clearing Khab sound.

Yes, playoff hockey is the best.

i'm probably back again

Yes, I know you're all wondering where I've been. Sorry if I've worried you. I don't know, maybe you should be worried though. Okay, maybe not.

It isn't like there's anything new going on here in the gardens. It's definitely May. One or two great weather days and then showers just before we hit 80.

Can't you just smell those lilacs? Well, maybe not, but someday, I'm going to invent a device that will allow people to smell scents over the phone or computer and everybody will want that device.

And there have been visits from the granddarlings--Audrey came over with her little sister, Penny, who is also JoJo's sister--

Audrey tried playing on the swings--all alone

and in the pool--unattended with no swimsuit

and with the other girls

and that's when her dad decided that the swings, pool, and wrestling dogs with teeth were not really safe for a two-year-old to play on, in, or with, so he started up one of the motorcycles and took her for a spin around the gardens--note: no helmets? Did I ever let him ride a bike without a helmet? (Yes, sorry, but those nerdy kids wearing helmets while they rode their bikes were mine. My really big-brained kids who are, to this day, smart, big-brained adults.)

You might notice a bunch of rafting stuff in the background of the last picture--if you know anybody who might be interested in white water rafting, we've got a raft and all of the necessary gear (including the groover, aka, portapotty) for sale for a very reasonable price.

I did notice one thing that has changed recently in the gardens. When I download pictures, there is a new computer on our garden network--because Jr's fiance, Brandie, is living in the upstairs guest room until they marry in October. Can I just say how great it is to have another girl in the house? Not just because she picks up after Jr (ahem, jr that has got to stop), but because she is a great girl. And Jr is much happier now that she is back in his life.

See what I mean?

So, that's about it here in the gardens. Stu is still waiting, which, at times, feels like a fine mesh veil that has settled over all activities around here, as though everything is a shade less intense. But I remind myself that we have a team. And he has a life. And a wife and daughter and another daughter on the way. And I have a daughter who has a great family and sons who have found the paths they want to follow. And except for the damn flu or whatever it is that I picked up that has caused my gut to spasm and my whole body to ache and my temperature to rise and fall--and my nose to appear pushed up and I'm growing the cutest curly little tail--except for that, things are about the same in the gardens. Well, except that I've felt so lousy that I haven't been able to summon the strength to talk on the phone to the girlies, or find the smarts to work through my usual bunch of word games on the merriam webster website--yes, except for that, things are about the same around here.

Because it is May. It is spring.

And young love is in the gardens.