Not A Valid Excuse

OH MY DOG I HAVE SUCKED AT POSTING RECENTLY. I really haven’t got a good excuse. I don’t. There’s just been a lot of stuff going on and it’s been hard to find the time.

NO THAT’S NOT A EUPHEMISM, EVERYTHING IS FINE. Really, there’s just been a lot of actual stuff going on. It’s been not exactly busy, but I’ve had a lot of things taking up my brainspace and my time recently.

One of those things has been getting back on the fitness wagon. Again. Remember I mentioned that Cinnamon was upset because, during the Christmas holidays, we rearranged and redecorated the basement, “her” basement space? Yeah. Well, what we did, as cheaply as we could, was create a little exercise studio down there.

Now, our basement is not finished (yet) and we haven’t a ton of money to spare (yet), but over the holidays we took advantage of the Boxing Day/Week sales and decided to do a few things to make a space to work out and do yoga. So, we cleaned out excess junk, reorganized the rest of the junk, and then cleaned a space for our exercise machines (bike, treadmill, elliptical). We then hung some curtains to create another space where we put down some industrial carpet tiles and an area rug, and that’s our yoga space. As the year goes on and if we have a little free cash, we’ll probably think about putting in electrical and putting up some drywall if we can, but for now, it’s a cozy, welcoming place to do our yoga.

So what that means is that every day, we’re diligently exercising and logging our exercise online, and logging what we eat, and along with some family members, we have a little group to encourage each other along a more fit and healthy path. It takes a fair bit of time, but we’re starting to get into the swing of it a little bit. Still, it does take time and effort to keep yourself honest and update your numbers each day. As well, it’s an hour or so a day of exercise, but like I said, that’s been quite fun because of our new space. Which we really love, and that Cinnamon hates.

Which brings me to another time-suck: the perils of the unhappy peeing kitty. As you know, Cinnamon has taken to peeing in her beds, and on one occasion, on my bedroom floor. We suspected she was freaked out by the changes, as she often is, but just to be on the safe side, we took her to the vet for a full checkup. And, happily, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her except she’s a little old lady. But, unhappily, that means we have a behavioural problem that is a little harder to troubleshoot.

But thanks to our awesome vet here, as well as an awesome vet who reads this blog who chimed in with some fabulous advice, we’re trying a couple of things to see if we can help her Cat Up and adjust to the new place. It’s still too early to tell, and she has peed a couple of times since starting her new “meds”. But on the plus side, she’s been coming and joining us in our yoga space in the last couple of days, happy and purring and chirruping at us, or curling up in a bed under the TV and just hanging out. Either way, it’s a marked improvement. AND, for those of you keeping score, SHE PEED IN HER LITTER BOX, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, LAST NIGHT. AND THEN AGAIN THIS MORNING. So. Fingers crossed she is getting acclimatized.

The other thing that has occupied my time, or rather not, is being sick. Stinkerbelle was down with a cold for a week, as I mentioned, and it was one of those colds where she had a fever and just wanted to lie around. And that’s fine. But what’s taken my time is that she then ever-so-generously gave it to me. And so I just wanted to lie around. That was fun.

That, combined with a lack of sleep — my new exercise regime has meant the aggravation of my knee issues, which means I am awakened at least once a night and often three and four times a night by pain that needs dealing with in some way, with stretching or massage or getting up and walking about — has made me a treat to live with, let me tell you. But, we’re getting ice on it, and I am taking copious amounts of the strongest analgesics we own, and soon I’ll be starting physio again, so you just get on with it.

So, yeah. I don’t really have any excuse for not posting recently other than I’m a right bastard. But you know, I’m a more fit, more Zen, kitty-managing, cold-fighting, pain-tolerating bastard these days, so that’s got to count for something, right?

The Good, The Bad, and the Digging Little Bastards

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Another week has begun here at the House of Peevish. Our weekend is done, and for this I am sad. The weekend went too quickly, and although full of good things, having another day off or two would have been nice.

We are feeling the festive season here, and as such there are always things to do. But they are by and large good things. We rearranged our attic so that it is getting to be just so — or, at least, as “just-so” as it will get until we can get new furniture to replace the giant and cat-damaged furniture we currently have. Still, it has taken a couple of days of concerted work, a fair bit of faffing and waffling, and we’re getting to the point that were really starting to like the space. It’s a hard space to figure with the angles and lines and such, but it’s getting to as good a place as I think it might ever be, short of bringing in a professional and spending a buttload of money.

It’s a welcoming space that we now want to spend time in, and have made the effort — sometimes with Stinkerbelle’s prodding — to go up there and just enjoy it. We’ve watched The Vicar of Dibley with That Girl snuggling between us at bedtime. The “one TV show at bedtime with Mommy and Daddy” tradition is something I remember fondly from my early childhood, if you put aside the strange pathological fear of The Smothers Brothers I had for awhile.

We’ve also started watching some holiday movies — “auditioning”, as it were, some new movies to add to our collection before we break out the favourites and the season gets into full swing. Last night we watched The Polar Express, or “the Trains One” in Stinkerbelle parlance. She was enchanted, and if one memory will endure from this season so far, it is That Girl sitting in the light of the Christmas tree, her little voice soulfully singing along to the main Christmas song in the film.

But the downside to being excited about the festive season for the first time in years is the expense. We’re very conscious of our spending now, as a single-income family, and so as the excitement carries us away we’re finding we’re spending, obviously, more than we normally do. And after eleven months of budgeting and watching the bills and such, it’s hard to get to grips with the sudden OMG OUR VISA BILL IS HOW MUCH.

But perspective is important, and we remind ourselves that we are actually spending much less this year since we are not travelling. And we are spending conscientiously, although more than usual, with the thought that we will have to plan for some frugality once again in the new year. But still, as the month progresses, I’m sure there will be more than a few long dark tea-times of the soul as we regret the ridiculous number of books Santa is bringing and the three adorably schlumpy new elves we’ve added to our collection of holiday decorations.

The only real negative of the weekend just past was in coming home from dancing class on Saturday to find we have new tenants. Our lawn was looking particularly scruffy, as though a dog or something had come along and scratched and scrabbled at the ground and laid bare big patches of dirt. Divots had been created, with tufts of grass thrown about, like an entire family of raccoons, say, or maybe skunks or something, had come rooting for grubs in our lawn.

On closer investigation, it looks as though voles have decided to take up residence in our front lawn, and the wreckage is from them tunnelling under the grass at root level, munching away. Usually, we see the tunnels in spring, after the snow is melted, and they’re superficial because by the time those tunnels get created, the ground is too hard for them to do much damage other than scrabble around at ground level. But it’s been rainy and damp and cold, and, well, I guess they’ve been looking for food early and with ease.

Now, voles are as cute as all get out, like a cross between a hamster and a field mouse — but they are destructive little bastards. And, to be fair, we haven’t really been tending to our lawn much in the last little while, so the leaves and the long grass must have been tempting. And we DO live next to Nature-O-Rama here, so you know, it’s not like we can bang up a sign saying “No Voles Allowed” and they’d think “Oh, well then Mildred, let’s take the family down the street for dinner”. You get what you get. And we got voles, the furry digging little bastards.

So, while we’re enjoying our festive season, no doubt the voles will be as well. And when we budget for the new year, to pay for our festive fun and excesses, no doubt we’ll be budgeting for some grass seed to pay for theirs.

Change of Scenery

What is it about a change of scenery that does one so much good?

We have a small person in the family who currently has an obsession with ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS. She wants to DO CHRISTMAS all the time. And so, we are trying to accommodate her.

So, this past weekend, we said HOKAY. LET’S CHRISTMAS. And BDH went into the basement and brought all the Rubbermaid bins wherein Christmas, and, indeed, all holidays are contained, up the three flights of stairs to our attic/family room space, so that we could start Christmasing.

This amounted to, let’s say, 8 bins. So, we scattered them about the room behind the couch and began to take stock.

The biggest bin contains the tree. Now, when we agreed to LET’S CHRISTMAS, I figured it would mean some faffing about in boxes, looking at pretty things, playing with a couple of stuffed reindeer and the like. Putting a festive cookie jar here. Possibly taking the odd bit of garland and festooning it there. (Does one festoon garland? I am not sure.) Like that. Simple.

BDH had other ideas. Specifically, let’s-just-put-the-tree-up-and-all-the-decorations-and-be-done-with-it ideas. And once I made my peace with the concept of full-on Christmas in November, I thought meh… what the hell.

And this? Is where the Home Renovations came into play.

See, our attic is a nice space, but it is an ATTIC. It is full of dormers and sloping rooflines and odd spaces and requires a little finesse to decorate properly (which, admittedly, we mostly lack.) So the “where do we put the tree” discussion began in earnest. And almost every option required the movement of furniture. “So, if we put it HERE, then we could move the daybed THERE, and turn the couch THIS WAY…”

We began to look at the only really useful spaces in the room. And there is not a lot of good space, but one bit accommodates our television and limited seating. The only other useful space is one full end wall limited by sloped roof at either end, on which we’ve installed some modular Ikea shelving.

We looked at the seating space, and agreed the tree would look good in one corner. But that would mean moving a big ass chair, and moving the television.

It was then that we came up with the bright idea of putting the TV IN THE BOOKSHELVES.

OY.

Meanwhile, Stinkerbelle, she of the “LET’S CHRISTMAS!” was sitting there, pointing and ordering and contributing to the discussion, but getting decidedly little Christmasing out of the deal. BDH kept promising we would get her some Christmas this night, come hell or high water. If she could just wait a few minutes.

So the hell became the measuring, unloading, reconfiguring, moving, and reloading of all our bookshelves. As well as finding a place to put TV, various video and audio components, speakers, and a Mac mini. And the accompanying cables. And refastening the shelving to the wall once again.

The high water would end up being a bath for That Girl while much of the electronic tinkering occurred.

Bathtime done, we opted for a fast-food picnic supper upstairs amid the mess. BDH continued the business of reconfiguring shelves and boxes and books and DVDs. And, as Christmas was promised, I got a big bin out for Stinkerbelle and I to unpack.

This particular bin happens to be the summer vacation home of about six stuffed reindeer of varying sizes and colours and sporting collars of jingle bells. So after delighting in unpacking the festive fellows, That Girl and I played with the reindeer, jingling bells and such. And then we spent a good 45 minutes playing “Where did Stinkerbelle go?” as she hid in the now-empty Rubbermaid bin while her father and I wondered aloud about her whereabouts, leading her to spring up out of the bin and shout “SURPRISE!” at the top of her lungs, and laugh uproariously.

In the end, she was sufficiently Christmased out to go to bed, just a little later than usual. And then BDH and I continued work on the furniture arranging.

And, once we got the bookshelves and TV and such into place, with still much rearranging of shelf contents to be done, we crashed onto the newly-moved sofa. And we were very pleased with the new arrangement. It was what we had hoped to have all along.

It was after sitting for a few moments that we decided the tree wasn’t going to go in the corner that we had moved everything round to accommodate after all.

BUT THAT IS OKAY. We have a new space to enjoy, and the tree will fit in a good place, albeit a different one than we had planned originally. And, because we have a lot of cleaning and sorting and rearranging to do yet, there are still many bins of Christmasing to do yet. We didn’t do it all yesterday as we had planned originally.

So… we have a freshly reconfigured “new” family room, that is still waiting to be Christmased. And that newly reconfigured room will go along nicely with our renewed excitement about the holiday season.

Everybody wins.

Enabler

My husband, he is an enabler.

I have a couple of obsessions. He enables them. Sometimes this is a bad thing. Mostly it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s an OMG TOTALLY FULL OF WIN thing.

So, you know the other day, I was talking about this thing I have about lists? Yeah, he has a list thing, too. So what does he do? He finds this program called Evernote, and it lets us make lists on whatever computer we are on, and synchronize them. So that means that no matter what computer you use to add something to your list, if you sign in on another computer you can add something to that same list, and see what you added previously. So if I am upstairs, and I think “Oh, I need to add X to my shopping list” I can add it right then and there to the shopping list. Or if I am at work, I can add something there. But the BONUS is, that if BDH is at work, and he thinks of something, he can add it too, from his work computer. We can SHARE lists.

Takes list-making to a whole new level, doesn’t it. I KNOW!!

He also knows I lovelovelove music. Like, geeked-out love. And radio, too. But, in the last couple of years, I have grown disillusioned with commercial radio, in particular the station I listened to since university. We have iTunes and I have links to listen to stations worldwide to get a good station that I enjoy, but that doesn’t help when, say, I’m out and about in the car, or at work, or whatever. So, with a little research… voila, we have satellite radio. So that’s been really nice.

And then there’s knitting. I love to knit. And it’s fair to say, I have a large stash of yarn. Now, in the past, he enabled my knitting obsession by picking up GIANT SKEINS OF YARN he found on sale. And he didn’t bat an eye when I picked up a bunch of balls here, or a bag of mill ends there, or went a little nutty at the going-out-of-business sale at our local yarn store. But this is why I have such a large stash of yarn. I’m slowly knitting my way through it, but the operative word is SLOW. And so, we have had to shove yarn into drawers and bags and boxes and bins to store it, else we end up buried up to our collective whatzis in cheap acrylic and handicraft cotton.

But my birthday is approaching. I am nothing if not cheap, and so when I am asked for what I want for gifts, it is usually something practical. Something I NEED. Now, BDH HATES this. He wants me to get something I WANT. So, this year? I found something frivolous and enjoyable and fun.

A MYSTERY GRAB BAG OF YARN FROM A FANCY SUPPLIER.

So this means, I put in the order, and I get something like 25 balls of yarn, their choosing, and they pack it up and ship it to me. And SURPRISE! I see what I get in the box, and away I go coming up with something to knit. It would be a chance to try yarns that I have never knit with before, so that’s fun. (To be honest, the cheap practical me would probably try to ensure I got something useful and practical, like cottons and washable wools. But still.) And I like the surprise aspect of the colours and so forth. But it also means — MORE YARN WE HAVE NO PLACE TO STORE.

Did BDH complain when I suggested it? On the contrary. He keeps bugging me to see if I have placed the order yet.

So yeah, he’s an enabler. But he’s MY enabler. And if you have a problem with that, you can add it to my list. (But not right now because I have the radio on and I’m knitting.)

Random Tuesday: You Know It’s NOVEMBER, Right?

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Welcome to Tuesday. Just your usual random oddball happenings here in Suburbiaville.

  • Yew Like Me, Yew Really Like Me: I needed advice on what to do with Yew. And as they say, ask and Yew shall receive. Apparently, I am as hopeless a gardener as I had believed, because it seems I was the only person on the face of the earth who didn’t know I could just sink Yew in the garden to winter over until I could plant him. And so today — IN NOVEMBER, I am SUCH an ass — I trucked out in the rain, and put Yew in a nice deep hole in the vegetable garden with some leaves for insulation. Possibly I will make him a lovely little burlap tent if, you know, I can find some burlap somewhere. So hopefully we’ll see Yew again next spring, ready to fulfill his destiny as a tenant of the Far Back Reaches of the Far Back-est Garden. And, let’s be honest — this is the most useful the veggie garden has been all year.
  • It’s Like Christmas All Year Long: I mentioned that on the weekend, we went a little holiday decorating mental, and we put up our little festive greeting tree in the foyer. Well, I have to tell you, Stinkerbelle is positively ENCHANTED by this little tree. She doesn’t have the language to express herself fully, so she just calls it “Christmas”. She comes downstairs from her nap and says, “Good morning, Christmas!” When we leave somewhere when we are out, she says “Let’s go home and see Christmas!” When we unplug it for the night, she says wistfully, “Christmas is all done today…” And Michaels, where we bought it? It’s “Christmas store”. I think that if she is THIS excited about one decoration, when the actual DAY comes along, it’s going to blow her tiny mind.
  • Back Off Mister, Or I’ll Call My Geriatric Posse: I have mentioned, a long time ago, that there’s this old man in our neighbourhood who rides his bicycle on the sidewalk. And he seems to think that he has the right of way, whether I am walking alone, or pushing a stroller, and he seems to think I should move out of his way. Or maybe he’s just a miserable old fucker. I don’t know. Well, doesn’t matter, for it is against the local laws to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk here in Suburbiaville — I looked it up. Anyway, for a couple of days this week and last, it has been unseasonably warm. Yesterday was 15 degrees out. So Stinkerbelle asked to stroller to school, and I was more than happy to oblige. So off we went and I dropped her off at school, and left the stroller there for the return trip. And I walked home. And who should I see coming toward me, but Old Bicycle Man. And sure enough, he’s rolling along like I need to get out of his way. So I held my ground and said “ON THE ROAD, OLD MAN!” And while he didn’t get on the road, he did veer around me and onto the boulevard. But here’s the thing — I have learned he lives on my street. So if he crosses me again? I’m reporting him to the powers that be. Or even the old ladies in the Tuesday aquafit class who love Stinkerbelle. They seem like they’ve got game. (Also, he’s taken it upon himself to TILL AND PLANT A GARDEN IN THE CONSERVATION AREA. Like it’s his land or something. So, between that and the bicycle? Old Man, IT IS SO ON.)

How Are Yew?

So, I have this problem.

(Well, I have many problems, honestly. But here is one of the problems I have today.)

I have gardens. I have issues with my gardens. They’re never quite right. This is a combination of bad planning (whoops), bad soil and drainage (what a surprise) and bad location (next to Where The Wild Things Are, Who Come And Eat What You Plant). But despite this, every year, I start out optimistically buying and planting, weeding and trimming, until it begins to a) become tedious or 2) go horribly terribly wrong, and I lose interest.

Fortunately that is followed quickly by Fall, so… problem solved for another year.

Anyway. In my fit of optimism, one June day I went out to buy some plants. Being cheap, I bought only a few things. But the planting season was drawing to a close, so there were many discounted plants and shrubs.

And there, on a flat of shrubbery, was where I met Yew.

For five dollars, there was a shrub that called out to me. It was Yew. I knew Yew would be a great addition to our gardens. I had vague ideas that perhaps Yew would be good in the Far Back Reaches of the Far Back-est Garden, where he could help keep the weeds down, and provide a warm place for the birds in winter, and probably, when he got big enough, be something for the deer to munch on when things got desperate.

So that sunny June day, I bought Yew home, and I put him on the porch with the other little plants I had purchased.

And there Yew sat. And sat. And sat.

All the flowers and vegetables were planted, and yet Yew sat in his little pot, waiting patiently for a home. And although I watered him regularly, I could never get motivated enough to go out there, into the Far Back Reaches of the Far Back-est Garden, with a shovel and gloves to do battle with the horrible clay soil and rocks and weeds.

And then, it was September. I knew I had to get him into the soil early, so he had a chance to settle in before the ground got too cold. Except the weather didn’t cooperate, and it got cold and wet almost immediately.

And still, Yew waited for me.

And now? It is November. It is too cold to plant Yew anywhere. And I am afraid that, in his little pot, if I leave him out on the patio, his roots will freeze and he will die.

So, what am I going to do with Yew?

I have a couple of choices. I could just let him take his chances on the patio. But I have grown attached to Yew, and I hate the thought that Yew will die because of my neglect.

I could buy a big plastic pot, fill it with dirt, and plant him there. He could sit on the patio, wintering over as evergreens do, but the stone south-facing patio plus the insulation of a big pot full of dirt might help him endure the cold until springtime.

Or, I could do the big plastic pot thing, but bring him inside for the winter. Yew would be warm, but it will also be dry and dark-ish in the house, and I have not been terribly successful because of this when I have tried to bring plants inside over the winter. Plus we have cats, and cats love dirt, and that means my choice of location for Yew would be limited indeed.

So I bring the question to you, my all-knowing peeps: What am I going to do with Yew?

Random Tuesday: Tryptophan Edition

Happy post-Thanksgiving hangover, Canuckistani peeps. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got turkey-induced haze, likely to last as long as the leftovers do.

  • You’re Soaking In It.: Our dishwasher is broken. AGAIN.  ::cries real tears::  And that means, we’ve been having to wash all our dishes BY HAND. Including — are you sitting down? — THE DISHES FROM THANKSGIVING DINNER. Now, I don’t know if getting older means we’re getting smarter, or we’re getting lazier, but we decided that because of the busted dishmasher, and to make getting dinner on the table easier, we would prepare a lot of dinner in advance. Veggies were chopped the night before. Mashed potatoes, dressing and sweet potatoes were cooked in advance and then heated up for dinner time. And we washed dishes AS WE WENT ALONG. So after dinner, there were far fewer dishes than normal. Our kitchen was clean within about a half-hour of finishing dinner. And honestly? That hasn’t happened to us since… well, EVER, really. Even when our dishwasher was WORKING.
  • Wait, There’s Still PIE?: We made turkey dinner yesterday, and for three people, one of whom has eating issues and won’t touch turkey yet, and two of whom only ever eat white meat, a 5 kilo turkey? Is A LOT OF BIRD. But we ate, and we ate, and we ate some more, and Stinkerbelle made good work of lots of vegetables, and we were stunned into silence by the sheer volume of food ingested. And we have enough of everything to eat leftovers for dinner again tonight. But as we were packing everything away, we realized OMG WE HAVEN’T EVEN TOUCHED THE PIE. There was a lovely pumpkin pie, warm in the oven. On the off chance we might have some pie in the evening, we didn’t pack it away. Instead, BDH took some of That Girl’s magnetic letters off the fridge, and put the word “P I E” on the front of the oven, so we would not forget it was in there. And although the pie eventually got packed up, the letters are still on the oven door. I think it looks decorative, sort of like that fancy decal wall art everyone puts on their walls nowadays. Except ours is done by Fisher Price.
  • I Dreamed I Was a Caveman and Col. Sanders Was There: So, to be thrifty, last night right after dinner, we chucked the turkey carcass in the crock pot. We thought we could make lots of stock, thus getting more meals out of one cheap old bird, AND by running the crock pot overnight we’d save money in our new time-of-use energy billing. Win/win, AMIRITE? Yes, we are very clever. EXCEPT. Food cooking in the crock pot overnight leads to food smells throughout the house. And this means, as the smell of cooking poultry (well, broth actually, but WHATEVER) permeates your home at, say, 4 AM, while you are lying in bed sleeping, do not be surprised if you have some VERY STRANGE DREAMS. Accompanied by waking and sitting up and somewhat dozily muttering “WAIT WTF IS THAT SMELL” before your conscious mind kicks in and it’s all OH YEAH and you go back to your tryptophan-induced coma. To be fair, this is better than the nachos-induced dream the night before in which a) I was at my inlaws’ dream-state house and I had to pee really badly but their bathrooms were all remodeled and I was concerned I could not fit my fat arse into the little cubby where the toilet was, and 2) I punched Howard Jones in the face. (Note: these two dream segments were unrelated. And also? I like Howard Jones.)

Also, reminder!! Tomorrow is Movie Night Discussion Day! And after the week of glorious fall weather we had, this movie was a PERFECT addition, so I am looking forward to the discussion!

Zippy

I may have mentioned in the past that our neighbour has a groundhog we have named Zippy.

Now, Zippy is not, in actual fact, the neighbour’s own personal groundhog; he is just a groundhog who happens to live under the neighbour’s deck. He has done for almost the entire time we’ve lived here, so maybe 10 years. So he’s the neighbour’s groundhog, at least in my mind.

I also know that groundhogs only tend to live for 5 or 6 years, so this is probably not truly the original Zippy, but maybe Zippy Jr. or perhaps Zippy Mark III. Whatevs. He’s Zippy to us.

We have named him Zippy because, like most groundhogs, he’s mostly not so much zippy. I mean, he can move fast, or as fast as a furry water balloon with legs or a bag full of jello with legs can move. But mostly, he just meanders around the yard, partaking of the varied and sundry vegetational substances that my yard and garden have to offer.

Periodically, though, because he is a somewhat portly fellow, I have to go out and gently shoo him out of wherever he’s gotten himself into, mostly for fear his fuzzy girth will squash my more delicate flowers. Or that he’ll eat all my vegetables.

Zippy does not like this much. He has attitude, which is another reason why I like him.

In the past, he would scurry back into his (read: the neighbour’s) yard, where his hidey hole is, and clamber up on his (read: the neighbour’s) deck. And from there, he would glare at me. Give me the old groundhog Death Stare of Great Peevishness. Sometimes I would act intimidated, because it is our philosophy that we like others to feel they are doing well, and, well, I totally wasn’t intimidated. At all. But he didn’t know that, and I like to think it made him feel a little puffed up with pride that he had me quivering in my gardening crocs.

But mostly, I just told him to pipe down and stop sulking and wasn’t there some lovely grass somewhere to be eaten?

And thus, for years, we have gotten on peaceably.

So, it was to my great surprise and delight to go downstairs to the basement yesterday to exercise, and to walk by the window and see some movement. Movement, as it turns out, that was Zippy, IN OUR WINDOW WELL, nomming on some tasty weeds.

Now, first off, there’s a little walled garden around the window well. I was a mite concerned that the chubby old Zipster might have gotten himself into a spot he couldn’t heft himself out of. But also? MY FLOWERS. If this is not the first time he’s been there (and I suspect it was not) then I can safely assume it is HE who is responsible for the crushing and general maiming of some of my flowers contained in said garden.

It was time to go tell Zippy to shift it.

Now, dealing with Zippy is like dealing with an old, fat, errant dog who periodically wanders into your yard. You don’t want to be mean about it, but you have to be stern enough for him to know you mean business. Also, DUDE. He’s a GROUNDHOG. He’s probably not so good at the English.

So I went out and stood at the patio door.

There sat Zippy, nomming happily, a big leaf of something hanging out of his mouth in a very cartoon fashion.

“Zippy!” I said.

Zippy looked up, startled.

“Zippy! NO NO! No, Zippy!”

He scrambled up out of the window well, over the garden, squashing my flowers. You will note he still had a GIANT leaf of some weedlike thing hanging out of his mouth. I stifled a giggle.

He froze on the deck, in the manner of generations of rodentia before him. “OHO! Perhaps if I FREEZE, the big two legged thing will not NOTICE ME!”

FREEZE, went Zippy.

I was not fooled.

“No Zippy!” I said. “NO NO! BAD BOY! Bad Zippy! Scoo scoo!”

And I made that vague little hand waving motion one makes to encourage small elderly fat dogs, and indeed, fat groundhogs, to move their girth elsewhere.

Zippy did not take kindly to my exhortations. He game me THE LOOK, and then scurried off the patio, and under the fence back into the safety of his (read: the neighbour’s) yard. PROBABLY MUTTERING UNDER HIS BREATH THE ENTIRE WAY.

I giggled.

I felt bad because he was only eating weeds, after all. So, you know, at least he was being USEFUL. But I don’t really want him making a habit of hanging about in our window well and stomping on my flowers.

Although, secretly, I loves him. So I kind of don’t mind so much.

But I am sure he will be back. He always is. Groundhogs, fortunately, do not hold grudges. And he is welcome, too. As long as my perennials aren’t too squashed to make it through the winter.

 

Getting Back on Track

It is time to get ourselves back on track.

The last few weeks have seen a bit of upheaval and rushing about, and we are feeling the strain. Well, more accurately, we are feeling the OMG TIRED. We are people who do well with routine and structure and plans, so when the structure goes out the window for a while, for whatever reason, we struggle. We let things slide, and we get run down and tired.

All of which is happening right now, as I sit in my comfy chair and type, amid a mess of kid’s toys, with dishes to be done and groceries to be put away over there in the kitchen. I am pooped.

Stinkerbelle is feeling it, too. She is ready for naps when the time comes and crashes hard, and is ready for bed well before bedtime in the evening. And this morning, when I asked her if she wanted to go out and swim, she told me instead she’d rather go out after naptime. She wants some down time.

But we don’t do well letting things slide. Our eating habits suffer, we don’t keep on top of the chores around the house, and we become somewhat lump-like in front of the TV or computer.

But we have to get back at it, because with a diabetic and a kid in the house, it’s important. Plus, September is right around the corner, and with that, preschool, and swimming lessons, and a bunch of plans for things to do.

It’s time. Time to dig in and get things back on the right track.

So this week, we’re slowly gearing back up to normal. First and foremost… eating. It’s hard to eat well when you are away, and for some of us emotional eaters, even harder when we’re stressed. So I have been making meals and buying groceries to get our healthy eating habits back after the ZOMG JUNKFOOD-O-RAMA drives across eastern Canada. No snacks besides the stuff Stinkerbelle consumes. Lots of veggies and lean meat. Fresh fruit for me (the others turn their noses up.)

Okay, I will admit that I’ve been overdosing on the iced coffee. WHATEVAH DON’T YOU JUDGE ME I AM TIRED YOU WILL HAVE TO PRY THE CAFFEINATED BEVERAGES OUT OF MY COLD DEAD HANDS.

It’s nice. I like the routine of cooking and eating well again.

The flip side of the coin, exercise… well, that’s a little harder to get back on track. When I am tired, the last thing I want to do is to drag my sorry carcass downstairs and put in time on the Helliptical. And my knees are all ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME. But all you can do is try. And if that doesn’t work, try to take some walks or whatever, like taking That Girl over to the park and playing for an hour. Maybe do some yoga here and there.

The other stuff is harder. Getting back into a regular housework routine — especially after leaving the house in that post-packing tornado-hit state — is a chore. It’s fair to say we’d been letting it go a little bit for a couple of weeks even before we hit the road, and it shows. But I’ve been trying to do things in short increments, by running the vacuum here, or doing some sweeping there, and hopefully without too much bitching and moaning we’ll get it shipshape again. The yard is a disaster area, but a good mow, some judicious weeding, and maybe watering a bit before fall will put things to rights nicely.

The angry-looking mass of hornets who have taken up residence under the eaves above our patio door? Not even going to think about that one yet.

And I have some projects to get done around the house, painting and such. And I want to tend to my blog more regularly and more frequently. And any number of other little projects.

But honestly? HONESTLY? I just want to sleep for a week. And when I am not sleeping, knit and eat chocolate. OH TO HAVE THE RESILIENCE AND METABOLISM OF A TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD AGAIN. Bah.

So, for me, the big thing is getting out my little blue notebook, and writing out my daily “to do” lists every day. And being sure to check them continually, and check off what I have accomplished. I need the accountability.

But to be fair, one of the things that I will put on my list will be to take the time to enjoy the last of the summer with my little girl, who will be starting preschool in a few short weeks. If there’s one thing I have learned, it is that time is precious. Do not waste it.

Getting life back on track again means, for me, that I am aware of my time, and making the most of it, and thus present to enjoy as much of it as I can.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

Oh, wait. Nope. It’s still a mess here. Just slightly better lit and with some sparkly bits.

We put on Christmas music. We broke out some of the Christmas decorations over the weekend to try and muster up some holiday spirit. And we put up the Christmas tree, which is always an adventure with a small child.

This involved shoving a lot of the other mess out of the way to make way for the new mess, so clearly, we did not have a solid plan going in. But we used some of the mess to corral That Baby during the bits with the lights and the stepladder, and in the end the tree is up and looking quite nice.

We have some issues, though. First, the tree is somewhat bent from a certain big dumb cat who insists on climbing it, year after year. And the tree skirt is always all over the room from a certain other slightly-less-big dumb cat who uses it as her own personal sleeping bag.

But we decorated it well, so the gaps and wonky branches are hidden — for now. It’s a matter of time before there’s a cat swinging from the bending, twisting branches and ornaments come crashing to the floor. But if the cats don’t trash it, the preschooler will.

This is the first year she’s actually been, you know, CONSCIOUS at Christmas time, as opposed to a cooing, babylike mound of somewhat mobile humanity known as a toddler. So she was all about the OMGWTF LET ME HELP OR I WILL DIE participation.

Our first issue was the lights. She was all OOOOOOHHHHH PRETTY which is fine, but we had to deter her from trying to pick them up and carry them around and stuff. The lights are older than dirt. They might get hot. I dunno.

Also? Since we’ve had a few birthdays recently she’s become fond of blowing out candles, so she spent a good half hour trying to blow out the lights while we were getting strings ready to go.

We have also observed that a preschooler’s idea of decorating is somewhat different to an adult’s, just so you know. In Stinkerbelle’s case, it involved running to Daddy, who was unwrapping ornaments, and under the direction, “Now, take this to Mommy”, she would run over to the tree and plonk whatever decoration it was on a branch. Then back to Daddy. Then back to the tree. PLONK, on the same branch. Then back to Daddy. Left to her own devices, one branch would be VERY well decorated on an otherwise empty tree. But we got that sorted.

Living with cats, and now a small child, we have installed an Early Warning System on our tree. All the lowest branches are hung with bells. This way, if anyone is screwing around in any way with anything on, under, or around the tree, a bell will jingle, and we know to look and deal.

WELL now. Bells are apparently AWESOME to an excitable Stinkerbelle, who has intermittently trotted over to the tree since having it put up, and WAILED ON THE BELLS. She’s smacking them, and yanging on them, and smacking them some more, and the tree is waving to and fro like it’s caught in a monsoon.

So that’s been fun.

We also have a Santa hat, which is to be worn on Christmas morning by the “elf” who distributes the presents from under the tree. Except now, it’s “HATTY HATTY HATTY!” as soon as she sees it, and she has to have the hat on. Which she then pulls down as far as she can over her ears and face, and then starts flailing about like Iggy Pop doing a bizarre holiday slam dance, in an effort to see the pom-pom on the top waggling about.

Not to mention, I spend a couple hours picking fuzz out of her puffs afterwards.

But it’s a start, right? I have many presents bought. I even made the first of my Christmas cookies today. Well, the dough, anyway. Let’s not get carried away.

So, let’s just say it’s beginning to look a lot like it might be beginning to look somewhat like something kind of nearing Christmas, and leave it at that.

Write ALL the Things?

It has been a hot humid week. It saps your energy. Who am I kidding? It saps your will to live, as the sweat forms in places it should not, pooling up under your boobs and then running in rivulets down your belly whenever you shift your gift. Ugh. It is NO GOOD NO.

But we woke this morning to rain, and this is good. And it is Friday, which is always good. So, we have good plus good. I suppose that’s all one can hope for in a day, huh.

So I was determined to sit down and write something. But it is still too hot and humid to write ALL the things. So here are SOME things, at least THREE things. Just some randomness to keep you amused as we head into the weekend.

  • It is raining. It rained, quite heavily in fact, for a lot of the morning. It’s still as humid as the asscrack of Satan, but at least the gardens got some water. So this means that I don’t have to spend an hour trucking bucketloads of water from That Baby’s paddling pool to each garden individually at the end of the day, back and forth, back and forth, in an effort to keep the plants from suffering as well as trying to be environmentally friendly and not waste water. Now I can just dump it out and go “Here you go, lawn! Drink up!”
  • I have almost completed our first yearly report as required for our adoption. I know there are parents out there who are refusing to do them — no reason in the world justifies not doing these reports, none at all, as far as I am concerned — but that is not something that will be discussed here. And having done my first one all alone, which took all of, what, an hour? It was easy peasy. And it was great fun to look back on the last year and chronicle all of the things Stinkerbelle has been doing and learning and being.
  • Okay, I lied just there. It has actually taken me more than an hour, because OHMYDOG THE PHOTOS. I have been taking photos every day as part of my Project 365 — yes I know, I have not updated the page in forever, I AM BUSY CLEANING ALL THE THINGS AND GOING TO THE BANK LIKE AN ADULT WHAT AM I SOME KIND OF WIZARD?? — so while the report took no time at all to write up, it took forever to actually decide out of those thousands of photos which ones I wanted to use. I started with NINE PAGES OF PICTURES. NINE!! Nobody needs to see that many photos of my kid, right? It was a challenge, but I pared it down to five pages. I have to be honest — I LOVE this part of the paperwork.
  • That Baby is talking. Half the time I have no freaking clue what she’s saying, but it is RIVETING. She’s all babbling and shouting and pointing and gesturing and I have absolutely no idea about what, but IT IS SOME TALKING RIGHT THERE. When she does come out with words, YAY. We are encouraging this, because a) communication is good, and 2) it’s nice to know what the heck she’s on about. And sometimes it is random, but random can be good. She will walk over to me and say “Caribou!” or whatever, and then go about her business. Alrighty then. Works for me. And when it’s not random, when she says something that she’s just picked up somewhere, it’s awesome. Yesterday, she pointed and said “guitar” and I looked to see she was pointing out a guitar on the wall. Today it was “light on”. Cool, man.
  • I’ve been knitting a lot. Knitting, knitting, knitting. Baby blankets being finished and started. A scarf that has been patiently waiting to be picked up again. Squares for charity. A bib or two. But oh holy hell, sitting with knitting on your lap in this weather is not very bright. I am also determined to work my way through my stash before I allow myself to buy more yarn. At least, that is the theory. I’m a magpie about yarn. OOH! SHINY! LOOKIT THE BRIGHT COLOURS! OOH! And sales, too. Oh my doG do not TELL me there’s yarn on sale somewhere.
  • My clothesline experiment has gone mostly okay. Our laundry no longer smells like rubbery farts, so that is PROGRESS. But today I went grocery shopping, and had to buy more laundry soap. I bought just regular soap, without fabric softener in it. Because last time, I bought a whole (what is the correct collective noun for fabric softener? Bucket? Loaf? Assload?) of fabric softener. And I came home and read the instructions. It said, “put the fabric softener into the dispenser in your machine”. Okay, my washer is over 10 years old, and it is CHEAP ASS. It does not HAVE a dispenser. So then it said, “Or put it in a Downy ball”. Well we looked everywhere, and I am here to tell you that they do not MAKE Downy Balls anymore. So then it said, “Or put it in the rinse cycle”. So you want me to run for the washer, toddler in tow, to put this in the rinse cycle? From wherever I am with my goldfish-encrusted, Sesame-Street-addicted, spinning-and-dancing toddler, up the stairs, at some magical appointed time? Do I even KNOW when the rinse cycle IS? But “lazy” and “inept” is trumped by “cheap”, and since the regular joe soap was on sale, and we already HAVE the bucket o’ fabric softener… Looks like I’m going to learn to start running up stairs with a flailing toddler. DAMN YOU, CLOTHESLINE! YOU’VE BESTED ME AGAIN!!

Wind Powered. Now With Added Rubbery Farts.

At long last… we have a clothesline!

After a few years of asking to get a clothesline, and mostly not having the money to buy one or the time to put it up properly… we finally put one up last night. And I was very excited to rush out and try it today (before the thunderstorms roll in).

So now that I am no longer a slave to my dryer, I need to learn how to make drying clothes on a line work better for us. It has been almost 20 years since I have used a clothesline with any regularity — the last time I had a clothesline I lived in Japan, and there really wasn’t any choice in how things got done. No dryer, no fabric softener (or at least, none that I could read Japanese well enough to use). and my clothes usually ended up discoloured from the intensity of the sun and the pollution.

Needless to say, things are quite different now.

So, what I ask of you is this: What advice or tips or recommendations can you give to a novice with a clothesline?

I bought some laundry soap with fabric softener in it to use today. I didn’t go cheap — I bought Tide, with Springtime Fresh Downy fabric softener added in. But I must be honest, what I found was this: my clothes are neither soft nor springtime fresh, as the label indicates they will be. They are, in fact, crunchy and rough. Now, they’re mostly towels which, I know, most people put in the dryer anyway. But I thought, surely people put towels on the line too, don’t they?

Another problem: after handling the clothes to bring them in, I also notice my hands now stink of some sort of rubbery scent. Well, rubber mixed with farts, actually. Not a pleasant smell. So what is up with that, Tide with Downy in it? Does springtime freshness actually smell like RUBBERY FARTS? Because I tell you this, I remember springtime smelling a lot better than this.

So you see, I need help. Please, friends, help a clothesline newbie out. Otherwise, there will be a family walking around smelling raunchy and vaguely rubberized, and nobody wants that.

Busy and Hot and Sick

We are all of the above. Not all of us, all the time, and not necessarily in that order… but we are busy and hot and sick.

It has been SUMMER here; or at least, very summer-like. A week of 30 degree days and sweet cool nights. It has been GLORIOUS. May Two-Four was one of the nicest holiday weekends in memory, and made us regret not having access to a cottage anymore, but still, we had lots to do and a great weekend close to home.

BDH has been nothing short of awesome around here recently. Work for him is insanely, unreasonably, ridiculously busy, and yet he does it without complaint. The fact that he is away from his little girl so much is so hard on both of them, and makes me want to punch someone, on both of their behalfs. (“Behalfs”. Is that a word? I do not know. If it is not, it should be. I am using it anyway. Grammar be damned.) But he is working hard at work, and then has been coming home and has done some amazing work at home too.

On Saturday, he began cleaning the garage and taking stuff to the dump. Now, uninitiated Reader, you have no idea the of the magnitude of this last sentence. Our garage has been, in recent years, the repository of all the things we don’t want/want to throw out/no longer want to see, and has been stuffed to the limit with boxes and old mattresses and gardening gear and old computer equipment. (And one Adventure Mouse. If I were a mouse, I’d have moved in there too.) But he got up and just started clearing stuff out. Loading it into the truck. Driving to the dump. Clearing. Loading. Driving. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It looks AWESOME. I can FIND THINGS. I can WALK IN AND OUT. From EITHER end.

Sunday and Monday, he carried on with some long-awaited backyard construction he began, for the third or fourth time, the weekend before. I should explain: we began a stone patio many years ago, until we ran out of time and money and motivation. It sat, unfinished, for several years, until Grammy and Grandad came to visit Stinkerbelle when she first came home, and together, BDH and his parents finished up the patio part. Then, a week ago, BDH started construction of some privacy screens, in which he also impaled his finger on a running drill.

(Ahem. Yes. Blood and gore. Slightly more than a paper cut, slightly less than a horror film. Ick. But he’s healing up nicely — there’s not really much you can do for a drill-sized hole in one’s finger except for bandaids, antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and time.)

So Sunday and Monday, the privacy screens were finished, and he started on some stairs from our patio door down to the patio. BDH is a man who has thought he might enjoy doing home improvement stuff, but has never had the nerve to really dive into it. Well, I am here to tell you, he’s doing a FANTASTIC job. I LOVE my patio. It’s as hot as hell, a stone patio on a south-facing house, but it is LOVELY, and will be a wonderful place to sit in the evenings and whatnot.

But it has been HOT, not just on the patio but everywhere, and so we are doing our best to go out and do things but not die from sunstroke or sunburn. It has been a week where I have taken a couple of hours before 11 am to do some yard work, parking That Baby in her empty paddling pool under a tree with some toys, and started to reclaim our gardens. It is slow going, with a busybody toddler getting into everything all the time. But it has been two years since we’ve had any time or energy or money to devote to our yard and gardens, and their neglect is coming back to haunt us. So, bit by bit, I have been yanking weeds, finding what perennials are still alive, and pulling endless weeds from the lawn.

It’s slow. But it will get there, eventually. I have yet to face the vegetable garden, which is in full sun and hopelessly covered in weeds, onions gone to seed (that never grew at all in last year’s wet, cold summer) and wild parsley.

And it is here that I will pause for a Public Service Announcement.

ATTENTION ALL GARDENERS. DO NOT PLANT PARSLEY. IT IS THE HERB OF THE DEVIL, AND WILL GET INTO EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE — YOUR LAWN, YOUR PATIO, YOUR OTHER GARDENS. IT’S INSIDIOUS AND EVIL AND IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL. IT IS THE FOOD OF BEELZEBUB. RESIST THE TEMPTATION AND DO NOT PLANT EVEN A SINGLE PLANT. BESIDES, NOBODY EVER EATS PARSLEY ANYWAY.

You’re welcome.

Okay, so. Back to the backyard. It is as hot as hell. So we have spent the afternoons working while Stinkerbelle splashes in her paddling pool. And, let’s be honest — I’ve spent a fair bit of time standing and soaking my feet in the pool too. And if she splashes me… well, it’s a bonus.

But we’ve also been looking to beat the heat. Last week, we went to the Early Years Centre in the mall, to play with other kids in air-conditioned comfort. But where there are children, there are viruses and such, and that means… both Stinkerbelle and I now have a cold.

She has really been suffering. A cough and an endlessly running nose is not fun in the heat of summer (which it isn’t really yet, but it’s hot enough to be.) Yesterday, she was miserable, and just stood in her pool and cried. But I am a cheap bastard, and don’t believe in turning on the air conditioning until it is absolutely necessary, so there’s really been no other way to stay cool.

Until this warm and humid morning, when our East-Coast raised, heat-intolerant, but endlessly kind and caring BDH listened to That Baby coughing in the early morning and saw me wake up looking fairly miserable, and decreed that It Is Absolutely Necessary. He turned on the A/C, so that we could stay indoors and cool and have a little down time to rest. And then, to make doubly sure we didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything, he dashed down to the store for some lozenges for me and yogurt for That Baby before he went off to work. BDH is once again stuck working late and away from his darling girl, so this is one way he can be sure he is taking good care of us even though he cannot be here.

So here we sit in increasingly air conditioned comfort, playing with playdoh and sucking on lozenges and watching Sesame Street. And later we will have a yogurt snack.

There are many things to be done — gardening, construction, cleaning, laundry. They’ll still be there tomorrow.

Good. Friday.

I am SO glad it is Friday. And even more glad that it is a holiday.

I love Fridays. Fridays are an indication that, commencing sometime in the evening and for two days hence, I will theoretically have backup on all my baby-wrangling duties. The thought of this provides endless relief after a week of “no” and “stop that” and “come here” and general toddler management. Even if it’s still me doing the minding, at least I know that if I want to take a shower, I have someone to spell me off for a half an hour or whatever. But this Friday is a holiday, which means that the baby-wrangling was shared starting LAST evening, which is just fantastic.

And the fact that it is a holiday weekend means that half the street has buggered off to go festivize elsewhere (probably at grandparents’) leaving our little corner of Suburbiaville peaceful and quiet for the most part. No trailer trash neighbours across the way with their stupid loud-arse motorcycle. No shrieking ill-behaved children running loudly roughshod all over the neighbourhood. No endless parade of cars up and down the road and people go about their business. It’s nice.

Also? It’s going to be WARM this weekend. TWENTY-FIVE DEGREE warm. I have already been out doing some yardwork today, and I have a sunburn. It is AWESOME. I am clearing the winter deadwood off the gardens, and moving around/splitting perennials, and pulling some weeds. It’s great, after a long winter. And all the while I am doing this? BDH has That Baby in his care (because he hates the yardwork) so he’s playing with her and walking her up and down the sidewalks and spending some together time with her, and I can futz around with my shovel and garden gloves. Being outside has been really lovely. It’s going to rain tomorrow night, but until then? Springtime. Yee haw.

It’s Good Friday. And while it’s always on a Friday, it’s not always good. But not this year. Good! Friday!