Category Archives: springtime

spring break part II

Miss L’s Spring Break was mostly rained out but hopefully between a Painting with a Twist activity, roller skating, and a couple of movies at the downtown second-run theater (Rogue One and Lego Batman), she wasn’t too bored.

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We kicked things off with Mexican.

04.2017_sarge game

We love board games. And by “we” I mean all of us.

There was, however, a LOT of time spent in pajamas.

04.2017_me and emmett

The swans are nesting at Kensington and the rookery is full of cranes. I can watch their nests all day – they’re like something from another time, enormous shaggy piles of sticks and twigs, with prehistoric birds rising from them and circling.

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We went to the library and I always end up reading her books as well as mine.

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She has, of course, already requested another Disney trip for our Spring Break next year, so I guess I will start saving my pennies again.  🙂

 

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spring break part 1

It rained all week. On Thursday, I went through the drive-thru of one of my fave local coffee shops for a dozen donuts for a colleague’s birthday, and I watched the “regulars” through the rain-splattered glass and felt that it must be a nice way to start the morning. It’s one of those places where you walk out smelling of coffee and baking.  Alas, there was no time for me to linger, the rain-soggy box was thrown into the passenger seat and I was off, although I did extricate the blueberry cake donut at a stoplight as a consolation (blueberry cake donuts 4-ever).
03.2017_looney

We have no spring trips planned. This coming week’s Spring Break for Miss L will be an exercise in “staycation”. She won’t be thrilled about this, but we’ve done fun vacations for the past few years (Chicago, Disney, and North Carolina beach trip) so it’s time for mama’s bank account to recover a bit.

Yesterday the sun came out long enough for me to start raking and begin some basic yard cleanup, but after filling five lawn and leaf bags I feel as though I am making the situation worse. There appears to be no grass whatsoever in my backyard.
03.2017_backyard

Note the clear and humiliating line of demarcation between my yard and the dentist’s. His is sod!!! It’s not fair.

Today I will spread some grass seed and attend to a couple of other tasks, including the somewhat nasty one of trying to figure out what to do about my infestation of horrible house sparrows in all my nesting boxes. I don’t want to stoop to killing them but I think I need to block the entrance holes with something.
It was a big week at Miss L’s elementary school, with Book Fair and conferences. Miss L had a great conference and one of the funnier moments was finding out from her third grade teacher that one of Miss L’s self-stated goals is “to get into a good college”. I think we actually LOL’ed at this.
I volunteered for two nights at the Book Fair and realized that I probably should have been a cashier in real life. It’s incredibly satisfying for me to have short, well-defined tasks with a beginning, middle, and end. Greet the customer. Scan the books. Take their money. Give them change. Hand them their books and receipt with a huge smile because that task is over, they will walk away, and everyone will be happy. I ended up working way past my shift end on both nights because they weren’t fully stocked with volunteers. The first night was fine, but the second night I was actually bleary-eyed by the time we started closing the registers and counting money. Still, I really love being at the school and I always wish I had more free time during the day to do more things there. However, Widget Central (and my mortgage, car payment, our health insurance, and bills) has me inexorably in a firm grasp.
Still, it’s now the weekend, with a couple of days off next week with Miss L, and I plan on baking, sleeping, and watching another 30 episodes of Forensic Files. I leave you with a screenshot of the My Favorite Murder podcast’s Instagram account, which after their recent live show in Portland managed to combine three highly topical themes – donuts, cats, and murder, with their personalized Elvis the Siamese donut (fellow listeners will recognize Elvis as the show’s mascot). I wish someone would make me an Emmett donut.
Happy Spring Break for those of you celebrating! xo
03.2017_elvis

sentence per picture, memorial day edition, with a 1-sentence ‘*bleep* my brother says’ bonus.

I've been so sick for the past two weeks with bronchitis and sinus infection, swallowing fistfuls of antibiotics and steroids every day; yet I finally felt better and continued my running rehab program - with a post-run wallow on the sunny riverbank.

I’ve been so sick for the past two weeks with bronchitis and sinus infection, swallowing fistfuls of antibiotics and steroids every day; yet I finally felt better and continued my running rehab program – with a post-run wallow on the sunny riverbank.

I was super thrilled to find a morel growing in my own garden; then everyone warned me that it might not be real so, afraid of dying ignominiously from mushroom poisoning, I didn't eat it.

I was super thrilled to find a morel growing in my own garden; then everyone warned me that it might not be real so, afraid of dying ignominiously from mushroom poisoning, I didn’t eat it.

Although I think the cardinals moved their nest to a quieter locale, there are still nests and babies in my yard.

Although I think the cardinals moved their nest to a quieter locale, there are still nests and babies in my yard.

The stained glass window behind Sarge made me sing "Take Me to Church" to him, which 1) he didn't get, and 2) made me think I've been spending too much time alone with my cats, based on the amount of hilarity I received from this.

The stained glass window behind Sarge made me sing “Take Me to Church” to him, which 1) he didn’t get, and 2) made me think I’ve been spending too much time alone with my cats, based on the amount of hilarity I received from this.

Friday night I was standing at my kitchen sink, listening to WRCJ's evening jazz, when I happened to look up and see this standing under my birdfeeder staring at me.

Friday night I was standing at my kitchen sink, listening to WRCJ’s evening jazz, when I happened to look up and see this standing under my birdfeeder staring at me.

On Saturday night, Sarge climbed the back screen door, scolding, and when I investigated, our visitor had returned and was placidly consuming the neighbor's flowers. In response to my posting of this photo on FB, my brother wrote severely, "You should tell them they need to leash their ungulates..."

On Saturday night, Sarge climbed the back screen door, scolding, and when I investigated, our visitor had returned and was placidly consuming the neighbor’s flowers. In response to my posting of this photo on FB, my brother wrote severely, “You should tell them they need to leash their ungulates…”

in which i am feeling a little discouraged.

There’s been a lot of negative energy swirling around my life for the past couple of weeks and I’m basically trying to weather the storm in my little lifeboat. If bad things always happen in sets of three, then hopefully I’ve completed one cycle and things will start to clear up. I met the car accident with equanimity – not serious, not my fault, no one hurt, Miss L wasn’t with me, and the faithful Camry is now back from the repair shop & better than ever. Work drama – more difficult and entrenched to cope with, but again, not my fault and I have become able to compartmentalize. Bronchitis – a day off from work and a visit to the Urgent Care, fistfuls of antibiotics, steroids, and pills for my cough. After a week of fever and night sweats, dreams of tigers, an aching chest and head, and having to literally force myself out of bed every day, I am feeling more human already.

I told my girlfriend J. about these setbacks and she noted that I have been working really hard on myself – sort of a second wave of project work to supplement the major remodeling that happened 2 years ago this summer. She said that she bet that the big internal changes I’m making are causing things to go a bit haywire around me for a bit while my brain et. al. adjust to the changes. I meditate daily and have made conscious steps to let go of toxic thoughts, relationships, and behavior. I know this sounds very New Age and I am a bit self-conscious about putting it all in writing. But I do believe that you get out of life what you put into it and if you can verbalize what your intentions are and set them firmly, visualize what you want, then maybe the actions will follow.

That’s the thought, anyway. Sometimes you put all of this into play and are then immediately deluged with a series of unfortunate circumstances and your dedication is put to the test. It’s really difficult to have faith and know you are doing the right things. I frequently find myself looking with no small resentment at some jerk who’s done no work at all on him / herself and wondering why the hell they get to be so happy and I have to smack myself at how lazy and silly a thought that is – usually I do this by reminding myself how I would counsel Miss L if she were suffering from the illness of comparison. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like it’s a quid pro quo – that I am making changes so that I will get xxx. If I do this, then I will get that. For me, the change has to be the reward, and anything else that comes along with it is just extra.

And the most efficient remedy to that is of course just feeling gratitude at how much I have in my life, how rich I am in so many ways. If the simple act of gratitude doesn’t stop my dismay from growing into discord, then nothing will.

So I will keep meditating and trying to keep my life a clear channel. I will work in my garden and hang out with the small handful of people in my life that I can count on to be positive and supportive and full of light, and try to grow that circle by being the same way back to them. It sounds easy, but damn, there are times when it is hard work.

in which there are birds and some other things.

you can't see her, but she's there.

you can’t see her, but she’s there.

As I write this, the rain thunders down outside and creates rivers in the street, sweeping up all of the yellow pollen and driving white and pink petals from the flowering trees. It is spring in Michigan and everything is exhausting because the world is green and growing as fast as it can. I can almost feel it; suddenly there are things where no things were before, hostas and dandelions and weeds galore, wildflowers and strawberry leaves and wild mint. I am mowing, hacking, weeding, moving, and sweeping as fast as I can but I can’t keep up.

Cardinals are one of my favorite birds and I have always felt something very symbolic about them although I can’t tell you exactly what I think they symbolize. There was a meaningful cardinal in the Pamela Dean ‘Hidden Lands’ series but I couldn’t tell (or can’t remember) whether it was good or bad. I have been moving backyard furniture and tackling one small garden patch at a time and as I’ve done this, I’ve noticed a pair of cardinals circling nervously. They perch on the overhead lines and in the lilac trees. In the evening, I can hear their silvery chirp through the screen door and when I walk back to the den, Sarge is crouched staring at them. And they are staring back from a very close place, the wood rack or the back of a lawn chair. That chirp can be kind of maddening when you are hearing it for hours straight; I feel like I have two new roommates who are loud and unhappy with everything I do. I see Papa Cardinal blazing red in the long damp green grass, I hear Mama near the birdfeeder. I was in the front lawn pulling dandelions and there they were again, hovering over me in a slightly unnerving fashion.

Of course they are not harbingers of any sort of doom or glory (or maybe they are) – in this case they have a nest built in one of the cedar trees tucked up against the side of the garage and of course on weekends when I am passing back and forth, unwashed, in my Detroit Tigers hat and beat up Chuck Taylors, I am too close for comfort, poor little things. I would love to inspect the nest more closely and take some pictures but I will restrain myself and instead be hopeful and excited that at some point soon there will be a clutch of cardinal eggs hatching basically on the other side of the wall from where I sleep.

Spring is TIRING.

A couple of other notables. Awhile back I read an article about dry brushing and ordered a brush from Amazon. It never showed up. The other night I was at Whole Foods buying a slice of pizza (I have a problem) and looking at a bottle of wine for a friend of mine who had a significant birthday recently. I decided against the wine because honestly that friend is kind of a jerk but came away with the pizza and a dry brush from their health and beauty aisle. The Whole Foods health & beauty aisle always makes me feel like inner peace and wisdom can be attained from applying one or six of their exorbitantly priced essential oils and buying an orchid and burning a $12 joss stick and I am a sucker for ALL of that. (I also ended up going back for the wine, thinking that just because my friend is a jerk doesn’t mean that I have to be, and quite predictably, I ultimately wished I’d just drank the damn thing my own self. PEEEEPLE.)

So anyway, the whole dry brushing thing is all kinds of awesome. I have incorporated it into my whole new morning routine, in which I wake up earlier than I used to, have a leisurely cup of coffee, meditate, dry brush, and get ready for work. I have been enjoying this so much that it actually makes me want to get up early. And if nothing else, even if I haven’t found inner peace and wisdom, my skin is velvety soft.

good friday

The last couple of weeks at work have been an exercise in patience and stamina and so I was absolutely thrilled to bust out of there yesterday afternoon. I cleared the decks sufficiently and am now on Spring Break for ten days.

Michigan weather has been damp and chilly, although I did take a break on my lunch hour earlier this week to visit a sunny, warm spot not so far from where I work. The University of Michigan Matthei Botanical Gardens conservatory was a peaceful place to relax and soak up some rare rays for a few minutes.

04.2015 shakespeare

I haven’t been taking many lunchtime breaks lately, as I’ve been pretty dedicated to retaining the habit of working out even though I can’t run. I have been off running for 9 weeks now and am starting to cautiously experiment with more weight-bearing workouts. I walked over the weekend, and have been doing more challenging spin sessions, with some standing climbs and intervals. I can definitely feel the weakness in my left leg and know that I will have to be very patient in bringing it back. I don’t plan on running until the end of April but between now and then, I’ll be ramping up my spinning and walking and getting back on the elliptical.

In reading news, I finished ‘Revival’ by Stephen King. He is one of my all time favorite authors – I know how he is regarded in literary circles but there is no one quite like him for taking me by the hand and wholly involving me in a story. I can’t put his books down. Admittedly, I feel his best days are quite behind him – the last book of his that I didn’t feel at least slightly let-down by was ‘Bag of Bones’, and my favorites of his came much earlier than that – ‘The Shining’, ‘The Stand’. ‘Revival’ was okay, but his endings are very patchy for me and always have been. Some endings are wonderful – ‘Salem’s Lot’ and ‘The Shining’ come to mind, ‘Pet Semetary’ and ‘Carrie’ as well – and others are just eye-rolling. The deus ex machina in ‘The Stand’. The kids in ‘It’.

I’m now reading ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton and am not sure I can hang with it. It’s oddly interesting in a stiff sort of way, but it hasn’t caught me yet, and a book of that length will require some spark of passion to push me through. I haven’t given up yet, though.

I just finished listening to ‘The Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro (I bought is as an Audible book) and it was wonderful. The end of it made me weepy; the marital relationship depicted is one that I have pretty much given up hope that I will ever have in my life. I generally understand that my path is taking me in different directions, and I am content with the journey I’m on, but that loss is still a little melancholy at times. Anyway, I digress – in keeping with the Arthurian theme, I’ve just acquired ‘The Crystal Cove’ on Audible for my commutes and workouts, and am enjoying that as well.

Apparently April is going to be quite a rollercoaster ride. My dreams have been off the hook nutty this week, filled with unexpected messages from my subconscious. I’ve dreamed in great detail about a mentor that I’m worried about, received a warning about another friend, and identified an area of lingering aggression. Regardless of how some people roll their eyes at dreams, they are a deep way that your mind speaks to itself, and processes events and relationships that your top-level mind can’t or doesn’t want to address, and for that reason alone, they are worth paying attention to.

Even the boys are feeling unsettled.

04.2015 scrapping

Sometimes telling them sternly to ‘love each other!!’ does no good.

So the long weekend is dedicated to relaxing with family – and on Monday, three for the road (more to come, she said mysteriously).

For the last few years, I’ve reserved Good Friday as a day of peace, baking and starting garden seeds, and today will be no different. The little one & I may try our hand at hot cross buns and I am sure there will be pictures. I hope wherever you are and whatever faith you hold, you are with people you love and are loved by. xoxo

i can’t believe i wrote three long paragraphs about a duck.

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Mommy duck is hanging tough on the nest and if the Internetz is correct about gestation, we have a couple more weeks until we have some baby fluffballs rolling around the garden. The debate continues over what to do then – should we get a wading pool and keep it filled next to the rosebush? Should we trust Mommy duck to know where to take her babies to water? I fret. Even the closest small body of water, which is a big pond in front of a local office building, requires crossing a very busy main street. Ugh. The stress of being an innkeeper is more than I’d imagined.

Also, she is leaving the nest earlier every night and staying away longer, and not covering her eggs as carefully. I feel like the anxious mother of a curfew-breaking teenager, waiting for her to come home every night. I am always relieved to see her waddling up the walk. She looks around suspiciously, lingers to make sure she isn’t being watched (I feel her gimlet eye roving over me from where I’m peeking out of the drapes) and then, when she is somewhat satisfied that no one has tracked her, she rushes back onto the nest.

I’m not sure if this means she is verging on abandoning her eggs for the wild single duck life in the local pond, or whether she just has more confidence in her surroundings and can leave for longer periods of time without fear. As one of my Instagram peeps said, let’s just hope she knows what she is doing.