Hello, World; or, Mother, Can I Sleep With Danger?

Well, it's been forever since my last post. I figure most of my old peeps are no longer listening, but since this is my best bet at remembering and recording things, I figure I should update now and again. It's "now" now.

I wish I had some major gardening successes to report, but in truth, the summer was devoted entirely to teaching summer school and writing agonizingly perfect sentences, many of which ended up being, in the long run, probably too abstract to do me much good. Thus I look forward, past the long cold Indiana winter that will apparently descend in earnest the day after tomorrow, to another summer of long gorgeous from which I am entirely shut out, as I plug away at this book manuscript, feeling my "tennis elbow"--which is in fact "academic elbow"--burn, and my ass spread, and my brain ache. Woot! It's a little hard to believe that I chose this. But, all things considered, it is better than most jobs. Wayyyy better than yard work, which pretty much offers me zero happiness in return.

Except of course for my gladiolas, which grew into their very happy "old lady flower" glory this year, and which I saw as I came and went from my house to my office, twice a day, for about 3 minutes.

I've started going back to the gym, only this time, at night, when my brain is completely fried anyway. Why not? It's completely empty, and if I'm not there treadmilling away I am very likely lying in bed watching yet another awful Lifetime movie (the latest, by which I am still amused, starred Tori Spelling and was called "Mother, Can I Sleep With Danger?") or another awful episode of Law & Order, which runs simultaneously on like 8 channels, all.day.long.

For real, though. It's definitely embarrassing, but now that we can no longer enter our living room except when "company comes," because the kitten cannot be allowed in there, b/c he terrorizes everything, and b/c we want to be with him, to "bond" and such, or be scratched to bits and leered at most days, we spend almost all of our time in the bedroom these days--doing work, watching t.v., even eating dinner sometimes (I hate myself). This leads to t.v.-glancing-at moreso than "watching," but still . . . we totally even taped that awful, really very awful Lifetime movie with Ashton Kucher and Michelle Pfeiffer, which they lured us into watching with their stupid commercials playing endlessly during the Project Runway finale. Those of you who are still watching P-Run must get this; surely you too have watched some terrible Lifetime movie ("My Stepson, My Lover"? Anyone? We did).

The Ashton Kutcher/Michelle Pfeiffer was horrendous. Just when you thought it could not be _that_ bad, because at least this time Michelle P wasn't playing the white lady schoolteacher whose inspirational pedagogy saves the black kids from themselves, you realized that this film not only involved a, uhm, "special needs" person, but also a deaf son, and while neither of these is bad in and of themselves, watching Kutcher beat up on the "special" guy, and the deaf kid then try to shoot him, and Kutcher constantly talking out loud to the deaf kid who could not hear him, and Michelle inviting Kutcher to wedding after wedding after wedding . . . oh, man. Let's just say a little part of me died, and it was definitely where I used to keep my self-respect.

I really don't know what it is, but it could have something to do with the fucking horrible news coverage. I have officially had it with every single tv news station and don't know where to turn. Hint: do not suggest "reading." I do plenty of that, and I jsut want a fucking half hour update of the news once every two days or so, and I do not want to have to hear about Sarah Palin's book tour, birther billboards, jihad, tea party patriots, or congressional sex scandals Every Single Time I Turn On the Telly. Nor can I handle the local news, which is even more sad and depressing. I just don't want to hear about how how Wal-Mart has cornered the market when it comes to the supersized casket business.

And now, a parting dilemma. Should we buy a Christmas tree this year? I never do, and I would probably not really decorate it. They are, I am quite sure, not part of a "green" household. But there are so many pros: They smell good. We might have guests. I could put lights on it and it would be pretty. It would give me a good excuse to enter the living room. Thoughts?


Well (drum roll please): here he is, the kitten himself:


I know I said I would never post pictures to this site--so many gardeners are always posting their braggy pics on their big braggart websites ("Look what I grew!" yadda yadda), and I thought I'd spare you that. But, kitten pics are different, no? I didn't grow it. It won't bloom. It doesn't have a pest problem that I need to photograph and then blog about in order to receive helpful tips and information and advice and how-to's. Nope. Just a kitten. A kitten so cute that I have to eat my hand pretty much 900 times a day to avoid putting him in my mouth and swallowing. I mean, really, when you want to ingest something because it is too cute for words, you sort of have to put his picture up, just in case.

In other news, I really might be a giant hypocrite and post a picture of this amazing flower I grew. Oops, I just did. Sorry.

i grew dat

Seriously, though. Can anyoen believe that I grew that? I can't. I would send pictures of something else I grew (these crazy beautiful gladiolas) except it's 91 degrees outside and "feels like 98" according to the interwebs. So you'll just have to scroll back up to kitten again and take another looksee. How can you resist?


Something is eating my rose bush. Like, it has little holes in the leaves, and the old growth has white edges and looks bad. When I told Z about this, he decided to google it for me, but all we can find are endless gardening blogs, where everyone has a little baby bunny icon, if of course they don't have gorgeous roses and whatever else-they-grew icons. Braggers. Z turns to me and nonchalantly announces that what I need is "incesticide." heh. I haven't been able to stop laughing about it, even though it means we've made no progress on the whole bug/fungus/something's wrong thing.

I'd say more, but maybe you heard? We have a new kitten. So, my fingers are bloodied from all the "playing" we've been doing, and also, eating hands that are on computer keys is his fave. When he isn't sleeping on the top of my head like a fur muff, he is terrorizing the other cat, and purring, which he does even when being scolded, when walking, when climbing the curtains, when eating, when mewing, when . . .well, all the time. Good thing, because Z and I haven't been able to enter the living room at all, and when we do, the kitten goes into the bedroom or (gasp) the basement.

Those of you who have had kittens recently must be up on all the new ploys out there to sucker dumbasses like me into buying their bullshit, and I have to say a little part of me died when I bought a three-pack of "Cat's Milk" that--shit you not--comes in itty baby juice boxes. I'm amazed there is no straw. Thing is, you know this is just sugar water, there is no way cats were milked, and yet . . . yeah, I bought some. Whatever, this cat eats avocados and coffee, so there is no way he won't be into it, no matter what it is.

Anyone have any advice for teaching tiny kittens hard lessons about leather furniture and recently-recovered dining room chairs? Rose bushes? Anything?

HGTV and other addictions

Z and I started watching HGTV before we even left SF. We had big dreams that got even bigger when we watched, for hours on end, miraculous transformations and restorations, all of which take place with a seemingly unlimited budget, no charge for labor, and are completed in less than an hour: kitchen re-do's are our favorites, obviously (if you have seen our kitchen, you know why), but I am also fascinated by other aspects of that channel.Collapse )

One More Thing: Uhm, that Wood . . .?

Remember when I said that the tree guy came and chopped down a bunch of trees, and then turned it into wood, er, "logs"--little shorty sized ones that we were then supposed to "split" with an "axe" or some such?

They are _still_ lying in a big, wet pile in the back of the yard (turning into more laziness Hugelkultur, thank you very much new online friend for reminding me of this!). But here's my real question: how long can this wood sit out there like that, where it was supposed to be 'drying out' but has in fact been sitting under piles of snow for weeks, before it is officially ruined? I mean, is it time to put it in . . . the trash? the hugel-bin? Professor K's driveway? Or can we still move it into the garage and let it dry and then allow it to become firewood for those roasty toasty fires we are too scared of burning down the bungalow to ever make?

amaryllis, poverty--you know how it is

Something amazing is happening in my dining room right now. Gardener Extraordinaire A (you know, the neighbor?) gave me an amaryllis bulb that someone gave her as a present. She didn't want it because amaryllis is apparently deadly poisonous to cats, and, well, she loves her cats. But we don't! So I was like, sure, whatevs, I'll give it a try.

You just stick it in a pot and water it. All of a sudden about a week ago, it started to EXPLODE. Right now there are not two or three, but SIX huge red flowers sprouting out of that thing. And it's doing it in the dead of winter, next to the frozen windowpane, on the stupid little table in the back. I can't get over it (Z PLEASE take a picture so I can post it!!). But they look like this:


Click on that link!! You would not believe it. It's definitely the best growing thing I ever growed.

In the mean time, Z and I are, like, constantly broke. It really sucks. Yesterday Z accused me of spending too much money, and I was like "on what??" and his answer was "food." So, apparently, on top of never having taken an actual vacation together--we have literally never gone on a vacation that did not involve visiting family, sleeping on someone's sofabed, or one of us attending a conference, thus justifying our being there and providing some sort of funding--we are now no longer to enjoy the simple pleasures of, well, fresh vegetables. I mean, sure, I don't need to make "fancy dinners," but if I can't do that, a huge part of me will be dead. ANd it's not like I am spnding all that wildly--a cucumber in this town can cost almost a dollar, a red pepper $1.50 or more, a baguette $3.50. Food is expensive in this town--don't even get me started on the price of fish. Needless to say, this is a super bummer. We don't have a bad life, but damn. I really wish that going out for dinner or having cocktails a few nights a month wasn't "pushing it" where our finances are concerned.

I guess what I am really saying is, I need to find a way to persuade someone to pay off my student loans. Any takers? That would be swell. I mean, hey, I got myself into this mess, but I really cannot get myself out. We were watching HGTV the other night, and this "property virgin" preparing to begin her FIRST YEAR of grad school was running around in SF looking for hre first house. She is 25. Her budget? $500,000. Can you see where this is going? She was horrible too, claiming that she couldn't wait to get "home," to the "city she loved and knew like the back of her hand," then asking the realtor where the air conditioning was, and wondering if it was always so foggy in the Sunset. I wanted to kill her, but really, I wanted he deposit. I mean, seriously--I think I have to come up wtih an alternative money-making plan.

Here are my options:

1. become an amaryllis farmer; you laugh but these bulbs are $30 online. Seriously!!! I could sell 10 a month and be sooo set. $300 would totally support my fine cheeses and meats and mail-ordered wines habit.

2. write a "tween" novel; I could totally spend all of the time I now spend grading and worrying about my students doing something for me, that is, penning a riveting tale of vampires and acne. What do I need to succeed: a girl who worries about her weight; a jock; a "normal town"; supernatural villains; lame simplistic plot; poor characterization; stereotypes; maudlin disasters; bitchy pretty girls whose hair falls out as the result of a curse; people who are named "Piper" and "Misa" and "Drake."

3. start selling off shit in the house: what would you pay for a 13-year old cocker spaniel? a giant bagful of nearly identical, yet somehow "unwearable," men's shirts, color blue? holiday paraphernalia (every year someone gives us christmas tree ornaments; I can never bear to buy and assemble a tree); random pieces of china? porn DVDs? partially used candles, and half-dead houseplants?

4. bank robbery. Seeing as I have already been accused, then absolved of guilt, of one bank robbery here in town, I figure that the door is literally open. Z's idea is brilliant: drive into the drive-thru, pull out a gun, and then stick it in that little chute and send it in to the teller with a note attached: give us all your money, quiet please. I actually think it could work.

Diva Night: or, the Bitch is Back

Last night, on what had to be the coldest night I have ever experienced (save that one time we tried to go camping in Guernville next to the Russian River, in late October, wearing nothing but cheerleading costumes--stoopid), I went to the Office Lounge, my semi-new favorite place in town. I would show you the website but it doesn't have one. It does, however, have its very own liquor store out front, and besides being a townie (or as my friend said, "married Monroe County people") type of place, it is also the home of the nicest waitresses ever, the cheapest drinks ($10.50 for two Tanqueray G&T's and a glass of Maker's--no lie), various inexpensive and cook-to-order fried foods, including "cheese balls," chicken fingers, and shrimp baskets, and also--the real appeal--karaoke.

I can't even really explain how fun this place is. Like, when I walked up (alone b/c Z bailed on me in what has to be the first and only bail-out on karaoke he has ever made), this guy who was literally too drunk to stand, and who was outside smoking cigs and talking to his buds about how his woman "just didn't want no more of me," managed to drag himself up to a standing position in order to open the door for me, all Lancelot-style (he was later dancing and doing fine--must have gotten a second wind, or possibly an order of pizza bites).

There were like eight of us there. Apparently just before I walked in, my always very professionally-dressed friend--in a lavender button down (heh)--had asked what was on tap. The waitress says, "Bud, Bud Lite, Miller Lite, and Amber Boch" (which, by the way, is made by Michelob and is, like, not good). SO he said, "I'll have the amber boch," and she apparently said "I knew you would." Then added, "all the highbrow people do." Love her!

So there was this one group of women who were all together up front, sitting with their low-cut shirts and totally fancy hair. One of them was wearing a glow-stick thing around her neck, you know, like gay pride? Except it was straight pride: they announced, using the mic, that they were there for one of the women's bachelorette party. As soon as I heard this, I admit I made some very snooty assumptions. I mean, who the fuck has her bachelorette party at the Office Lounge? I figured they would be A) really drunk, and B) really obnoxious and loud, and C) sing terribly, and D) flirt with every man in the room, and E) show their tits. I wondered if E) would get them kicked out. Supposedly there is a "No F-Bomb" rule in this place. The DJ announces it every night: if you make an "F-Bomb" while you are singing, first you get a warning, but if they have to tell you again, you are kicked out. Meanwhile my friend turned to me and said that a few weeks back one of the regulars (a really shitfaced lady who everyone seemed to know) started out her song screaming "FUCK YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" and no one batted an eye. So I knew those bachelorettes would be dropping F-Bombs left and right, to go with their slutty song choices and overall bad behavior.

Now, I was right about the song choices. Oh, did I mention that this place is almost totally country music? I guess that was obvious. There is one Beyonce song, and one song by Mary J Blige (I am pretty sure both mention God). There is one song from Cabaret, and it is (wait for it) "Cabaret." But there are 28 songs by Kenny Chesney, 400 by Waylon Jennings, and 7,000 from country music people I have NEVER heard of. But everyone else has. And they sing songs like "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "The Bitch is Back" and "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" (which I thought was just a saying, not a song). And these girls sang every one of them.

AWESOMELY. It was the craziest thing ever. It was like they had all met at Professional Country Diva Training Camp, and that this was how they all knew each other--from their time having their diva voices trained to a fever pitch--because these women, ostensibly all just friends and bridesmaids and such (oh, maybe some of them were related, and had been in one of those giant Carter-family-type bands when they were kids?) were belters, big time. You should have heard them! They snapped their fingers; they hit every high note, and held it--the whole place was practically on the tables. All the drunks sobered up. P. and I (too embarrassed to use our real names, given what was about to happen) called ourselves "Patt and Grey" on the song sheet and sang "SEven Bridges Road" by the Eagles (the world's shortest song, and one we thought would go over okay). But being straddled on either side by Janis Joplin (I mean, dude, it was HER) and Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain and the Dixies, we got our friendly, polite clapping, then got shoved out of the way to make room for the bachelorette divas. We were the only people at our table with the nerve to sing.

What is this doing in my gardening blog you ask? Simple. There is something in the water. They breed divas here. I have to find out where these ladies live. Me and Z need to sneak into their subdivision (or dirt road, or trailer park, or townhouse complex, or log cabin on stilts, or country mansion with acres and acres of land and horses, who knows?) and get our hands on some of that. Pronto.


Referring to a blog post from A) my alternate online identity, and B) MONTHS AGO, my composting baby-daddy friend T. asks why an old woman, at Dickens camp, complained about my outfit. Now, I no longer remember the outfit--I vaguely recollect that it had a scarf and unmatching hat of some sort, on top of strappy heels (remember, this was summer in Santa Cruz, and that is just what one wears--winter clothes on top of summer clothes). Duh.

Anyway, the question reminded me of this time here, in the heartland, when another, shall we say "more mature"? person, commented--negatively--on what I was wearing. This had to do with the fact that I was wearing a short sleeved t-shirt and a winter cap (one of those pull-over knitted numbers, of the sort I think may have at one point been called "toboggans"). I thought that this was a very strange thing for her to say (in a meeting, no less--this was no stranger) and, furthermore, that it was odd so many, er, "mature people" were so interested in what I was wearing and in pointing out how it was so very wrong.

It's not slutty or skimpy or made of awful fabrics (don't you even go there, naysayers. Polyester rules). There's no food stain on my shirt (unlike Meredith; sorry, Meredith), there's no baby puke (Professor K). Those who know me know I am something of a cleanliness fanatic and have ruined many an apparrel item by overwashing and/or washing when dry cleaning was in order. My theory is that the problem lies in my mixing seasons. I am quite certain that this is a San Francisco habit, since of course it makes sense there to always dress for a 40-and-then-70-degree-day. SF is where I learned that if I was too hot, or too cold, I just needed to cross the street and walk on the other side, in our out of the sun. This was a revelation to someone like me, growing up in Virginia, where you're almost always barely surviving the sticky-blast of summer or the frozen isolation of mass snowfall. Anyway, I'm pretty sure my "bad taste" was cultivated there, and now, it's totally my "style."

Now, I have always been the queen of mixing patterns with other patterns. I like nothing more than three different kinds of stripes in one get-up. I own like nine polyster jackets. Most of my clothes (at least half) came from the pay-by-the-pound store near the 5JANETS house, and while such things are hard to come by here--where the used clothing is all wayyy too used, and was way too awful when it was new--I have done well each time I have traveled back to CA, this last time picking up a fantastic wrap around dress covered in circles, among other things. In SF, this was called "hipster" (wasn't it?) but being a hipster was kind of lame. I mean, everyone there is hip. It's kind of a given. Not only that, but if you aren't a twentysomething hipster (So. Over. Them.), you are a thirty-nearing-fortysomething hipster, and it can get to be a little much. On the one hand, I love it and miss it terribly: when Z and I were there over the summer we wore costumes nearly every day. I bought a used pair of shoes covered from top to toe in pink glitter ($10.00). I stocked up on fishnets (which I have yet to brave here). I wore my plastic orange mini-raincoat and had my picture laminated onto a Svedka Vodka button the size of a coaster, which I then wore on my lapel (along with all the rest of my friends). Several of us wore polka dots from to head to toe, a sight so wonderful it got us, impromptu, into a movie. That this movie is not very good is beside the point--we look terrific! And so, yes, part of me is really sad that my small attempts to dress in some way not entirely like a teacher get overtly criticized. God only knows what they say behind my back. But of course the worst part is, they probably don't say anything.

Thus, the other hand: being aroudn all those aging hipsters brought with it its own set of anxieties. Everyone acting all young and indestructible, but then, sometimes, disappearing off the face of the earth, no one knowing the story (or sometimes, knowing it). Worry that my own hipsterism was fading fast probably brought me to the place where I can now scowl and say "hipster" with a tone of disgust when some young, unwashed little thing comes spinning past with his oversized headphones and his brakeless bicycle. The one thing that has saved me here is that I have not yet succumbed to the generating of a special drawer, or pile, or designation for "Gardening Clothes." Those of you in the city may not remember what these look like, but oh, they are bad. Cutoff shorts, stained. Big-brimmed hats made of straw. Oversized t-shirts, perennially dirty, that indicated, in a faded way, its owner's participation in a 4K run. Special plastic shoes. Oh wait, I actually have these, but thank god they are flaming pink (go Z!). Anwyay, you can see where I am going. Gardening clothes = shitty ugly clothes that you should be burning, but are instead wearing, in plain sight, while you get dirtier and angrier by the minute. I know I said I might table the whole "gardening blog" till after the winter, but I see that this won't be posssible. Anyway, Fall = leaves, and there's some serious raking and gutter-clearing that needs to happen out there, soon. Better start picking out an outfit.

Bubls, Redux

Yesterday we hung out with Z's ex GF/slash/BFF's new in-laws (got it?). It was totally fun--we went antiquing, I managed to get started on my "Chicago Speakeasy" outfit for J's wedding (hello, gorgeous $7.00 feather cloche with veil! hello, fantastic long pearls and awesome lavendar brooch for another $10.00!). Sometimes being here rocks. Then they took us out to dinner and we had some great pizza and wine and guacamole made with peas and mint. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. No reason to complain, right?

Well--get this. In an effort not to do the same ole, same ole, they had decided that they didn't want to bring us "another bottle of wine"--too trite. Too overdone. Instead . . . they brought BULBS. A lot of them. Maybe 60. I'm . . . a little staggered.

Seriously--when they pulled up to the house, I was standing in the yard with a cute dress, heels, and a jar of cayenne pepper. Dumping cayenne on my bulb beds to try to keep the (evil, ravenous, devilspawn) squirrels out. And now? We.Get.To.Plant.Even.More. Please note that by "we" I mean "we." As in, if Z doesn't help me I will seriously develop permanent psychological problems.

I realize that the world is crashing down around us, that the world financial markets are collapsing with an agonizing roar, that we'll probaby lose our home, that my mom and Z's dad can never retire, that I probably just screwed my mom over Big Time by making her buy a house back in July that is going to be worth pennies the day after next. I realize that I have no job security, no IRA, that the total sum of money I have put into my 401K is equal to the total amount it lost in the last quarter. That there is nothing but rapine and loss and stupidity before us, that Baracko might lose just for being black, that we may end up with a VP who videotaped herself having demons driven out of her body by snakehandling zealots. But, seriously. What about me and my problems?? What AM I going to do with all of these bulbs??