Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Monday, May 27, 2013

Third Monday in May

Lottie took advantage of the showery day to take a few yard pictures.  Spring is my yard's best season, and cloudy is the best light for taking photographs.  My phone camera needs all the help it can get.  Traditionally, every year someone steals one of my flowerpots just before Mother's Day (Yo, thanks for raising me to be a petty criminal, Ma!)  This pot, which is cracked in half, has only been stolen once but the thief put it down a few feet away, probably because it would be tacky to give the old lady a broken pot of stolen flowers.  I do live on the edge of the 'hood, but even crooks have some scruples.

If you are wondering what to plant near your house, do not choose upright rosemary or escallonia.  If you are wondering what to plant a quarter mile from your house, select those.  They are brutally strong and grow three feet a year; I constantly slash them back.  The barberries are much more civilized and only need a little trim, which is handy because THORNS!  They're pretty though and go nicely with the Japanese maple which fades to green by summer, and also gets pretty crispy on top; it's a little too sunny there. 

This spring my dear stepmom moved out of the house she shared with my dad, who passed away five years ago.  I brought home the old pump, which provided water to the old ranch house in southern Utah where Dad was raised.  I'd like to pound a couple of long stakes through the bolt-holes so nobody can steal it, in case next Mother's Day rolls around and my local criminals think Ma might enjoy having a rusty old pump.

The new fishpond is hidden behind the fern.  So far, so good; She and Him are doing fine still alive.  

Sunday we went out to the farm to have dinner with Granny Fran (Lillie's boyfriend's grandmother) where those colorful (and tasty) happy eggs come from.  I must have looked like a soft touch because the chickens all followed me around.  We ate the first few ripe apricots on the tree and I shared a couple with my new girlfriends. 

Look at this super glamorous chicken!  He can sing, loud but not well.  He fanned out his brilliant tailfeathers like a Vegas showgirl  an NBC logo but we weren't fast enough with the camera and he wouldn't do it again.  

Today everybody's picnics got rained out. I just stayed inside with a pot of tea and the final season of The West Wing, which feels vaguely patriotic.  I'm also reading The Greatest Generation (which is rather an easy read, but I recommend it).  It makes me think about my old dad, a decorated lieutenant who served in the Phillipines in WWII, but like so many soldiers, never talked much about the war.  

Happy Memorial Day to you all, and thank you again for your service, Dad.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wet things, dry things, and windy places

For a while I've had my eye out for a big glazed urn, with no drain hole, that costs almost nothing.

Like this only about $250 cheaper.

There is an electrical outlet on my front porch, and I wanted to put a little fishpond there.  I had hoped to find one a bit larger (this one is three gallons), but I picked it up at Winco for $6.95, which is about as much as I wanted to spend.  If a bigger one comes along, I'll upgrade.   I put some pretty rocks, a small filter, a plant in a jar, water, and three little 14 cent feeder fish into the pot.

You can see the polka-dot fish in the center; the gray camo fish is just a bit lower in the frame, left of the big leaf.
I'm calling them She and Him unless Lillie decides on better names.

The first night, the fish designated as mine leapt OUT of the water like a certain fictional little clownfish, except he went over the rim and landed on the hard dry concrete.  Perhaps he had watched Finding Nemo and believed he could somehow make it all the way to the ocean; if he had checked with me I could have told him that Disney movies seldom mimic real life.  I buried him under the annuals planted on Chase's grave--together they can make the flowers bloom...

In other news...

Here is my first yellow cherry tomato!  It is currently the size of a green pea, but I have high hopes for handfuls of delicious tomatoes to come...


I confess that I was a member of the coconut oil worship club.  I loved everything about it and I smeared it generously on anything I came across.  It smells divine and made my skin feel so soft and velvety.  We were in love.

But then something peculiar happened.

First my lower legs got very dry and itchy.  Next, my arms, and then my lower back and thighs, grew drier and rougher. My hands were parched and ashy. Boy, I thought, middle-aged skin is a drag!  Lucky for me I have all this coconut oil!  I'd slather it on, and go to bed creamy and wake up crunchy.  

I'm usually much more sensible than this, but the science of oil-dissolves-oil was escaping my coconut-addled brain.  I finally made the connection and cut WAY back, switching to Aveeno or Eucerin and only a little dab of coconut oil.  

My poor skin is not ALL better, but markedly so.  I'm still quite fond of coconut oil, but I'm mostly on the wagon now.  I'm experimenting with which jobs it does best (like cleansing my face) and which tasks it needs to surrender (like keeping my hands smooth.)  We're not lovers anymore; just good friends.

As I write this, Oklahoma City and nearby towns have suffered terrible devastation from of the worst  tornado in years.  I know more bad news is coming; I hope there will be no more casualties, but the odds are bad.  If you or someone you love has been stricken, I'm so sorry.  I'm wishing you safety and strength, and a place to call home.

I may whine, but I am so grateful for everything I have. Even dry skin.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This is the way we wash the clothes, wash the clothes, wash the clothes

Didn't do it.  He swears. 
Okay well he DID do THAT, but it was a science experiment to see how big a kitten the shelf could hold
an unfortunate accident.  He swears.  

For a long time my [rebuilt] washer has leaked a little out the bottom.  I haven't had any money to replace it, so as long as I built  a levee of old towels around the edge with each load, I got by.  But suddenly it got much worse.  The levee could only absorb so much, and greasy brown water would ooze out across the laundry room floor.  It clearly wasn't going to get better, no matter how hard I wished it would.  I turned it upside down and asked e-how for help.  E-how just laughed.

Like everybody, I have to do laundry.  I confess I really like to do laundry, which is fortunate because  I will have to do it for the rest of my life.  I seriously needed a new washing machine.  

Compared to her old washing machine, this looks pretty good.
I still didn't have any money in the literal sense, but I have good credit, so the nice gentlemen at Carmona's were happy to sell me one and even installed it the next day.  I gathered up a load of marginally dirty clothes and kitchen towels.  So far, so good.  

Although basic, compared to my old washer, it looks pretty swank.  And I fixed the shelf.

If course there was a hitch.  As the lady in the Surgomatic ad realized, we live in The Future!  Good for her, less so for you and me.  All the newest technology, hand in hand with the latest social conscience,  (hindered somewhat by the notion that we need to brush our teeth using the melted ice from our nightcap because of flagrant water waste by obstinate Republicans citizens) means that we are now expected to wash a load of clothes with just one or two quarts of water. 

 Hey, I reduce, re-use and recycle.  I use cloth grocery bags. I put tennis balls in the dryer instead of brainkiller  Bounce.  I'm a good sport who cares about the planet and all, so I'm on board. 

I just would be much happier if the laundry got clean, and not barely damp merely wet.  The internet offers plenty of irrelevant suggestions  (like, "use recommended detergent" and "pick a better major"), and varied product reviews, some glowing and some scathing.  Apparently many consumers confuse "wet" with "clean",  but they are satisfied with their futuristic washers.  

I wanted to believe.   I did. 

Believe it or not, I used to be pretty gullible.  I once bought "washer balls" and used them instead of detergent for at least a couple of years before I realized they were a slick gimmick and our laundry got clean from sloshing around in a washer full of water and not because of magic ceramic pellets hidden inside the washer balls.  

(Amazon doesn't sell the ones I had, but these are basically the same stupid thing.)

So I talked to my old pals at Carmona's, which is a locally owned appliance store that tells me the truth and beats the big box store prices with one hand tied behind its back.  They suggested using the "bulky load" setting which is code for "uses lots more water than the other settings" and now my laundry comes out clean and fresh.  The new washer generously spins out a little more water than the old one, so things dry a little faster.  I promise to use that extra two ounces of water to brush my teeth.

Here is proof that I am an urban farmer with a vegetable garden in my backyard.  I have lavender (it smells nice, which is balm for the soul), my venerable old thyme plant, basil from Trader Joe's, marigolds because why not, and one yellow cherry tomato plant (note the blossoms--this could be the year!)  I am not a terribly successful vegetable gardener; but every year I plant something, just in case Dad should look down from Heaven and take pity on me, buying my produce at the farmers' market.

Haha, that's rich! You can't burn anything in the fireplace anymore.  I just dumped it on top of your dirty laundry.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Time Warp Tuesday? Okay, I'll bite.

Did someone say prom season?  

Almost forty years ago, I made this baby blue dress for my junior prom. 
 I moved away to attend college.  
I got married and had three children.
 I got divorced.
I moved back to my hometown.  
I bought a house five blocks from my high school.

Time flies.