Friday, February 24, 2012


As I am now a Bostonian, the proper pronunciation for my new title (as a successful graduate of the American Heart Association Lifesaver First Aid & CPR Course) is life-save-uh.

I've got a card and everything.

It was 55 degrees and beautiful yesterday, so of course I was stuck inside on campus all day.
There was wet clumpy disgusting snow on the ground when we awoke this morning, and the temperature hovered around 40. So of course I had most of the day free.
It is raining and miserable tonight. As it will be most of the weekend. Which means I had fabulous plans.

Little Abigaile Grace is one year old today, and her birthday party is tomorrow. I spent altogether too much money on her, but if you saw the dresses I procured for her you would totally understand. Her gift is wrapped (in a box that originally contained a pair of Chuck Taylors) on the kitchen table, waiting for party time.
The very next day, Sunday, my adorable cousin is visiting me. Huzzah. I had ideas for things to do in my dripping-with-history little town, but the weather report has fairly shat on those plans. I think, instead, I will bake, and thus give him a carepackage fairly brimming with Home. I cook like our grandmother, after all.

Seed Savers received my order. There was much rejoicing.
My crocus are still petite but as long as they're hanging on I'm happy. Green plant parts mean sunlight being turned into energy and feeding those bulbs.
It will be March in less than a week. March March March! March means Spring Break! It means Vernal Equinox! It means I'm down to only a handful of weeks until it's safe to start my seedlings. It means an increase in likelihood that I can get outside and start turning over garden soil! It means the Plantation opens up and I can buy my apple cider kits without having to drive 2 hours round trip! It seems to mean a lot of exclamation points as well.

With the passing of my CPR course, I now have Fridays free for the remainder of the semester.  While some of those are earmarked for my adventures in fertility treatments up in the city (insert annoyed face here) the vast majority of them are mine. Big white blank spots on my calendar.

Next week is my first. I need to think up something exceptional.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alive Day

Four days, four posts! I will eventually slow down, but it's hard to resist the urge to write. Especially when I know full well I will someday start to neglect my blog.

I made someone cry today.

That isn't, contrary to popular belief, a common occurrence for me. I tend to be a sympathizer - if you cry, I'll cry. If you vomit, I'll vomit. That sort of thing. I'm not a fan of either.

I'm volunteering at the USO today, as I do every week. I put in a few hours every week outside the office, but one day I spend at the desk, fielding questions and handling the more mundane tasks of mail sorting and phone answering. There are two people here who aren't volunteers - our director and our program manager.
The PM and I were brainstorming options for an event we've got in the works, and from there we got off on a tangent about whales in the Boston Harbor. I mentioned how Brian and I had already decided when and how we were going to renew our vows (although we haven't been married fully four years yet) and the PM wondered what the appropriate time for a vow renewal was.

We're doing it on our tenth anniversary, I told her, because that will also be Brian's twelfth Alive Day, and so it's a big day.

Enter waterworks. You got married on his Alive Day? she exclaimed. Oh, I'm going to cry.

It's not a big deal for Brian and I. It simply made the most sense, for a lot of reasons.
1. IED = TBI = crap memory. Expecting him to remember our wedding anniversary is just cruel. By scheduling our wedding on top of a day everyone around him will be talking about, he won't be able to forget.
2. I don't really care about Hallmark holidays. Birthdays and Anniversaries only function (once you're past 25 at least) to help mark time. I don't feel like Valentines Day or our wedding anniversary should be an occassion for dread for my poor husband. By getting married on his Alive Day, we sidestep the whole issue. We have a discussion every year about whether he wants to have an Alive Day party or go out to a quiet dinner with his wife. Or neither. Or both! And then I make the plans and we call it good.
3. Asshole should have died. No, really. If you're in a helicopter in a war zone with your foot detached from your body and sitting in your lap while you're buckled into a stretcher and immune to morpheine? And shortly thereafter a blood clot causes your lung to collapse? Waking up on a respirator with a chest tube in does not sound like a firm grasp on life. And then you contract MRSA in the bone of what's left of your leg? People have died from less. More than 20 surgeries later, he's alive and kicking, but there was more than one day in which his continued existence was in doubt. Asshole should have died. And he didn't. June 8th, 2006, is the luckiest day of his life, because it's the day he cheated death. Hell yes we're going to have a party to celebrate it. And the biggest party we could imagine was our wedding.

It all boils down to one single decision Brian made five and a half years ago. He looked down at the baseball-like stitching on his skin on his calf where the rest of his leg was supposed to be, and he knew he had two options in his life: he could cry about it, or he could laugh about it.
Brian chose to laugh. I honored his decision by making the same: I chose to laugh, too.
It means some pretty heinous things happen in our house in the name of amputee humor. But it also means that things like Brian's Alive Day don't become solemn occassions. We take his old prosthetic sockets and fill them with booze and toast to his good health.
At some point during the day, I will take him aside and whisper to him the same thing I said when we raised our champagne flutes on his second Alive Day. Thank you for not coming home in a box.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

That Kind of Day

It's easy to write a lot when you're beginning a blog.
You're excited. You have all sorts of idea for topics. You have high hopes, high expectations.
It's months and years later, when it's not fresh and new and exciting that becomes the challenge.

That said, today was noteworthy.
Dango, Brian's service dog, has been sick of late. I have no idea what he got into, but given we live right down the road from a state forest and a wide variety of wildlife wanders through our yard, the range of possibilities is substantial. He seems to be getting over it, but cooking a special bland diet after rushing him in for intravenous fluids and an antiemetic has a way of putting a girl behind in her work.
So the stack of what the dog puked on laundry is getting in the way of the what you've been wearing for two weeks laundry, which was already being set back by the new duvet covers to save the bed from the dog vomit laundry. And don't forget the shit you haven't worn in years because you suddenly lost fifteen pounds and your pants don't fit laundry.
Which is, admittedly, an awesome problem to have.

I had high hopes for today, which were dashed when I woke up with something suspiciously similar to what laid out the dog last week. Angry. Tummy.
I soldiered through and went with the hubby to the gym anyways. I took it easy, spinning for 45 minutes and trying not to think of how awful I felt.
I didn't accomplish anything before class at noon.
I got even sicker in class.
And I managed to get home without any major incident - but also without eating much of anything.
Or remembering to take anything out of the freezer to defrost, so my dinner options were abyssmal.

So what made today noteworthy?
Because it was still awesome.
Brian and I are taking an English course together, and our professor was in rare comedic form today.
My Psych class was discussing stress disorders, and my professor knows my story and was letting me field questions from classmates and chime in at will.
Both professors were totally okay with me having missed class on Thursday to rush Dango to the doggie ER; Dr. O because he has two beagles and completely understands the concept of furchildren, and Dr. Burlin because she was sick on Thursday and had cancelled class. Win!
Right after class I have to rush across campus to the tutoring center because my appointments start 15 minutes after Psych ends. I stopped in the cafeteria, saw my husband, got a smile and a hug and a few words, got to wave at the amazing school chef, Henry, and made it to work right at 3:30... but my appointment was late, so I got to breathe for a bit ANYways.
My appointments were all good. 25 minutes of an excellent student to start things off. Then 55 minutes of a non-native English speaker who isn't a bad student, she just needs a lot of help with vocabulary in science courses. Cake. 45 minutes break, in which I chit-chatted with my boss (who also has furchildren and was completely understanding of me missing work on Thursday and helped me fix the reported time errors) and got Henry to make me a grilled cheese sandwich.
Last appointment? A fellow tutor who really doesn't need to be getting tutored... but who asks the absolute best questions so I always love it when she schedules time with me. It is a lot more fun to get to think critically about the subject matter and have to dig down into my archives for biochemical reasons behind physiological features. Really, I love it.
It makes it better that she wants to go into the same field as me, and I'm secretly harboring a plot for her & I to start a practise together. Best coworker ever? I think so.

My husband randomly appeared at my cubicle door with half a KitKat bar.

I came home to a marked absense of dog vomit. Huzzah.

I crawled into my green fuzzy parka and parked in front of my computer to try to proactively fix the mess I have to deal with when I get to my volunteer job tomorrow and started typing this instead. Brian is elsewhere in the house, taking care of the dinner issue so I can concentrate on feeling better.

And, the kicker, Mom bought me a comprehensive (and older-than-me-thus-awesome) book on storing food. Freezing, canning, drying, curing, pickling, preserving, you name it. Its a book about tasty things. It makes daydreaming about my coming garden that much sweeter.

So, yes, I'm miserable amounts of sick. Yes, I have things going on that are detrimental to my overall mental health. Yes, my anxiety about my doctor's appointment in two weeks is getting out of control. But, no, it doesn't have to dictate my life.
Today can still be a good day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Garden Plot

It isn't the biggest thing going on in my life right now, but it is far and away my favorite.
My seed order has been placed at Seed Savers and I am eagerly awaiting my little vegetative babies.

The garden last year was a mixed bag. It never truly got hot - much like this winter never really arrived - and the cool dampness was unfriendly to my tomatoes. And peppers. Oh, and the beans.
I had lettuce the entire summer, however, and my dragon carrots were works of art.
The squash beetles were total bastards.

This year must be bigger! Better! Different!
I must utilize every inch of my 800 square feet of heaven!

The first thing I did was completely remove squash from the garden plan. The 36 square feet set aside for each plant was just too much. The pumpkins from our first summer showed me the importance of this space, but think of how many tomato plants I can stick in that amount of space!
A shelf loaded with quarts of tomato sauce is far more appealing to me than a dozen bags of frozen pumpkin puree, especially since I still have those left from last year.
Side note: fresh pumpkin makes far superior pumpkin cookies, but the pie is a bit touchy.
The second thing I did was specifically chose varietals that were either developed in my zone (ish) or stated they were particularly cool-season friendly. Another word I liked to see was "early."

The plants I particularly loved from last year will make a return, although in a slightly different part of my garden patch. I don't like to grow the same thing in the same spot, with a few notable exceptions: the carrots get the furthest-south spot in the garden, as they are short enough to not block the light for anything else. Anything particularly tall gets moved off to the west or north. The lettuce patch is permanently set on the west side of the shed, to limit it's sunlight and keep the ground cooler; I suspect that contributed to the longevity of my lettuces last summer. The asparagus patch, of course, it stationary.

I have all my supplies. I have my pots and my lights and my shelves and this list could go on for awhile if I don't stop now. I put off ordering my seeds because if I start my plants too early I risk putting them in the ground too early.
Two years ago, it froze on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day!
I can't in good conscience put my tomatoes in the ground before June. Starting the seeds in March is too much torture; I make myself wait until April.

The desire to go out and start working the soil - although it is February in New England - got the better of me today. I grabbed a mulch rake and freed the crocus from last fall's weed remnants.  The yellows have all bloomed, much like last year, while the purples have barely cleared the mulch.  I was thrilled when I first saw them last week, as it means the forsythia isn't far behind.

Brian and I have plans for the south side of the house, particularly the patches on either side of the bulkhead.  It is the best southern exposure I have yet unclaimed, and I want to make good use of it. The tiger lillies Brian was championing claim to be partial-shade, and I can plant those in dozens of places in the yard. My only full-sun spot needs to be full of full-sun flowers. More thought is needed.

It is still too early to get a verdict on the critter-eaten hydrangeas or the come on I WANT you to be invasive Morning glories. I have hope.

I need to invest in either updating one of my many photo sites or just scrapping them and starting over again. Once the world goes green I will have many many many photos to share.

Yet Another Start

This is not my first attempt at a blog.
My longest-running venture, a private diary 11 years in the making, remains my refuge. My need to write usually drives me there, where my limited (intimately trusted) readership can partake in the secrets I have to get out of my head via keyboard. It will remain indefinitely, if I can help it.
I write too much on facebook.  It's too easy to overshare there, with my family peering over my shoulder.  We are spread out across the country, my Kansas brethren, and having a single site where I can put a piece of information and have it disseminated to everyone who might want to learn of my antics is far too convenient.
There are far too many things going on in my life to facebook it all. I become one of those people, the spasmatic oversharers. I'm proud of what I cook, what I grow, what I do... but that doesn't mean anybody wants to have it force-fed to them on their newsfeed.
My other attempt at a blog was short-lived. I was trying to start something bigger than myself, but insert excuse here, life intervened and it just didn't happen.  Enough time passed that I forgot my list of things I wanted to write about, much less the specifics of each. I've left it up as a memorial to failure.
Josie has done something I admire, opening up a corner of her life and managing to keep the private things, private. I hope I can be so lucky.

Above and beyond all this, however, is the constant statement made, when I tell someone our story, that I need to write a book.
This, for now, will suffice.