Small Things 7-29-15

1.  Bad news is, Nellie has another line of stitches.  *sigh*  Good news is, it was made by a branch, or some other single-pointed sharp thing, not dog teeth.  So, while we can surmise that it likely happened while playing, at least it was because of Nellie’s dopey sighthound-ness: “I’m running! Look at me run! I run fast! See me ru—-  Ow.”, and not because of bad behavior on the part of the puppy.

Getting tired of this, though. Really tired…

2.  On the puppy front, the trainer we went to see suggested using a head-halter on Xe to curb some of her more stubborn non-walking behaviors while we’re trying to make some miles. Holy moly, what a difference. Instead of shying at/lunging at cars, she ignores them. Instead of attempting to stop and sniff every. single. blade. of grass. in the town, she stays at my side, matching her pace to mine. She may not be enjoying her walks as much as previously, but I sure am enjoying them more.

It’s a nifty set up. It’s basically set up with a buckle around the back of the head, behind the ears, and then the leash attaches to a loop over the snout. I have hers set really loosely, because she likes to pant with her tongue lolling, but she feels even a finger-twitch of pressure on the leash and anticipates it so her head doesn’t get moved away from whatever she’s looking at. She’s never been horrible on-leash, but this is a whole new level of ease. Hoping to use it for a month or so and then gradually transition her back to the collar simply for ease of set up. But seriously, this is a wonderful product  and one that I feel good about using. I know from experience that pinch-collars work, too, but I never liked the idea of causing even a pain-scoffing dog any pain at all. And this isn’t painful in the slightest–just aggravating to her when she ignores me, which cause/effect I can live with!

3.  Had a small dinner party a couple of nights ago, and it was so nice to have grown ups over!  Granted, we also had a 2yo & an infant, but it was very fun.  Wine was tasty and I was able to use up some of my surplus of lettuce, unset-peach preserves, and radishes.  Plus, I was able to make a pan of lemon bars & send the extras home with them, so I don’t have to have them around to tempt me.  Win all around!

4.  Kiddo was stung by a wasp or a hornet and it hurt him like the dickens.  Happily, he’s apparently not allergic, so yay for a sting happening while I could be hovering with an (expired) epi-pen at the ready.  I’m actually really glad he’s been stung, just so I know…

5. CICADAS ARE HERE! I’m not sure why this makes me so happy, but it’s the one thing I miss about super-hot Arizona summers, so the few weeks of cicada buzz we get around here make the hot nastiness of mid-summer something to look forward to.  (And now, I’m ready for autumn, pumpkins, and tomato harvests…)

Small Things 7-24-15

1.  Turkeys and foxes and toads, oh my!

2.  The kiddo’s swimming lessons have really paid off. It’s amazing to me to watch him swimming on his back all the way down the lap pool at the gym. Crawl is harder, and he’s not there yet, but the kid can book on his side or on his back, and he’s a perfectly capable dog-paddler.  Very cool.

3. Xena, warrior-piglet is actually turning into a very capable chicken-herder. She helps me every night, and I almost italicized that ‘helps’ but then realized that she actually does help.  Nellie, on the other hand, doesn’t understand why Xena is such an inept chicken-killer.  Yikes.  There was a close call with a bird & my too-agile wonder whippet.  Nellie the killer and Warrior-piglet the shepherd.  There ya go!

4. This is disgusting, but also so funny that it gets me every time. I may have mentioned that among her other less-than-admirable qualities, the piglet has copious amounts of, er, wind. Which is bad enough. That it’s room-clearingly bad is worse. But the fact that it surprises her every single time – and she bolts upright and stares at her own butt accusingly? Seeing the look on her face is absolutely worth the stench.

5.  I reorganized the kitchen and feel absolutely rejuvenated over it. This is not normal behavior, I realize. But it was so satisfying to really think about where I wanted everything to live. Might be time to do this with a few more rooms…

 

Small Things 7-21-15

1. My word, it’s been hot.  And humid as the devil’s armpit.  Got a bit of a break last night, which meant I got a bit of sleep, but damn, this is my least favorite weather.  Uck.  Going to go take another shower now.

2.  I reorganized my kitchen and feel downright virtuous. Everything’s been in the places where I stuck it when we moved in. Which means some of it made good intuitive sense, and some of it was simply placed there because that was the next box I opened…

So I moved all the food into the pantry and all the often-used pans/casseroles/pots into the front kitchen. I wanted to clean it up visually, get rid of cereal boxes on top of the fridge, etc. We’ll see how the new kitchen ‘flow’ works out, but so far, I like it.  Also, I applied contact paper to the inside of an ancient pantry closet, (and actually enjoyed the experience far more than I should have.) There’s something very satisfying about sticky stuff that you get a couple of chances to get right…

3.  The puppy’s been remarkably good lately. It’s like she’s growing up or something.

4.  This is the last schedule week of day camp, and the kiddo wishes it could go on forever. Oh, how I hope he loves kindergarten as much as he enjoyed Pre-K!  He’s so excited about getting back to school, and being there for a full day (sob!) and is generally such a big-kid these days.  He’s started drawing pictures of my garden to accompany his ubiquitous truck drawings. Which is almost as awesome as being given flowers!

5.  First draft of the new book is coming along nicely, but I’m–once again–wishing I had a good local writing group.  Or at least a stable of beta readers eagerly waiting for the next installment.

Old book got another request-to-read by an agent I’m really excited about, so keeping fingers crossed, but it’s been a long slog, trying to get an agent to offer to represent and I’m almost ready to toss it in on this one for now.  Time to concentrate entirely on new WIP, much though it pains me to admit it. One good thing about my impending weekday loneliness once the kiddo is enrolled full time is that I’ll have the time to really dig in and move a little quicker than I’ve been able to, snatching an hour here or there. And that’s always good for productivity.

I dreamt last night that I decided to stop writing and become a real estate agent instead. Weird dream, hopefully not prophetic…

 

Small Things 7-16-15

1.  Cool breeze coming in the window after a hot, muggy day yesterday.  Is there anything better than sleeping cool in the summertime? It looks like the whole day is going to be like this.  Bliss!

2.  Saw turkeys today. Both while walking, and then on the drive to the farm to pick up our week’s worth of veggies.

I do love belonging to this CSA, despite the fact that they give us far too much kohlrabi. But I’ve been overcoming my dislike of beets with their help. And they give us the high end fruit that I’m always too cheap to splurge on. That they also give us lettuce is a cross we must bear. Tomatoes are good. And pickling cucumbers are always nice to look forward to.

Plus, it’s a really nice excursion every week for the kiddo and me. We have about a half-hour on back roads each way to chat, tell silly stories, ask each other what our favorite color is today (mine was the dark gray of the stormclouds overhead, his was the red of a car that passed us), eat cider donuts, and generally just have a peaceful moment in the middle of our week.

3.  Piglet dog is lying here, next to me, panting and snorting and making bad smells.  Today, to inform me she had run out of water, she walked to the fridge door where we get our water, pawed at the lever, and whined.  Then she walked to her empty water bowl.  Damn, I love smart dogs.

Also love dogs who love me right back. It was a busy day, she got crated when I vacuumed, and again while the kiddo had friends over, we took her big sis to the vet without her, and we were gone for an hour or so to get our veggies. And still she waited at the door for me every time I left and was happy to see me–oh so happy!–when I got back.

She’s big, she’s stinky, she’s not learned manners yet, she can be a brat when we’re out walking and she’d rather just be out sniffing, and I think she’s marvelous. So happy she’s part of our family now.

4.  Garden is happy with the hot weather. Lots of green tomatoes out there, and I’ve just started my garlic harvest.  Full of plans for next year–more beets, in a sunnier section, more peas, Big Beef early tomatoes–but really enjoying this year.

5.  And we’re into the second week of July, holy moly. The summer is just picking up steam from this point on, with visits to CT, San Francisco, and VT still to come. Another week or two of day camp for the kiddo, and a visit from his grandparents & aunt. Playdates, doctor appointments, back to school shopping, and hello kindergarten?

Yikes. That whole ‘The days they go so slowly, but the years go by so quickly” thing? It’s the dead-honest truth.

(And on that level, everyone knows that Berke Breathed is releasing Bloom County strips on FB, right? Life is really good right now! OPUS!!!

Small Things 7-14-15

1.  Two toads in my garden this morning, which makes me very happy.  Also, a warbling, singing (or possibly screaming) frog that cried out when I moved his peat-pot house yesterday. I had no idea frogs could make a sound like that. Total bird-cry noise. Very cool.

2.  Forest honey from Germany.  Man, oh man, I love this stuff.

3.  The kiddo announced today that he really likes dipping things in ketchup. (“Because it makes my lips tangy and frisky, Mommy!”)

Indeed.

4.  Glow in the dark rope at Home Depot.  Why, I cringe to even ask, does a person need glow in the dark rope? And why is g-i-t-d rope the only kind available in the strength I need?

So did I buy it anyway?  Well, yeah. My kid’s playset has glow-in-the-dark rope supporting his pull up rings & bar.  Don’t judge me. Totally the fault of Home Depot.  Also totally hoping that fireflies go nuts with this stuff…

5.  Kiddo brought me a bouquet of flowers from the garden yesterday, and I swear, this never gets old.  I mean, yeah, they’re my flowers, I planted most of them, and take care of them, but him out there with his little kid scissors, bringing me a fistful of yellow flowers?

Melt.

Puddle on the ground? Yeah, that’s just my heart.  He’s a sweet, sweet child. We are so lucky to have him.

Small Things 7-13-15

1.  Dog consultation went great, they know & understand herding dogs there, and I think Xena and I will learn a lot. First lesson in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

2.  Batch of Raspberry/black raspberry/oh-shit-we’re-out-of-white-sugar-how-’bout-some-Turbinado? jam done. Also some ‘sour cherry/oh hell no, you want HOW MUCH for another 2# of sour cherries? I guess the rest of the jam will be made from cheap Bings…’ jam that set up beautifully, and is the most gloriously colored jam I’ve ever made. Yay!

I think I’m going to try preserving lemon curd this year, and I may very well attempt a ginger marmalade as well. This nice cool(ish) summer has me itching to put things up.  Well, that, and remembering the long dark winter days when a bit of homemade lemon preserve might have been a welcome bit of sunshine…

3.  Day camp for the kiddo these next two weeks–which means my to-do list is longer than my arm.  But it’s all good.  Getting deliveries of playground chips & gravel today, shall be busy spreading them out.  Must make the garden look beautiful before my FIL arrives for a visit next month…

4.  The puppy is turning into a lovely little dog. Oh, how I love the end of teething!

5.  The next 6 weeks are chock full of things-to-do.  This is good, because, yay, summer! But also, I have a feeling that the first day of kindergarten is going to sneak the hell up on me, and I’m going to be looking around, wondering where in the world the time went.

Shoot, I’m already wondering that!

Small Things 7-8-15

1.  Saw one of these

800px-Polyphemus_Moth_Antheraea_polyphemus

on my walk this morning.  Maybe 6″ from wing-tip to wing-tip?  Very beautiful, and very large moth!

2.  Dog has her ‘bad dog’ consultation tomorrow.  Hoping to get some help on the mouthiness.  We decided she’s pretty much like ‘Angel’ from the Buffyverse.  Great pal when she’s calm and broody. It’s when she has a moment of perfect happiness (which, since she’s a puppy, happens all the frickin’ time, that you have to watch out.) She gnawed up a pincushion last night. And two old cat beds today.  And it’s NOT because we don’t have dog toys around.  She’s just a puppy.  An evil, evil, puppy.

(But really, I’ll be pleased to ignore the normal, hideously-bad, puppy behavior once we find a way to impress upon her how totally serious I am about the ‘no teeth’ rule.)

3.  Playdates galore this summer.  Kid has had more playdates in his 4 years than I did my entire childhood. What makes all the social gallivanting bearable is that I actually really like the mommies of his 4 closest friends. (Whew!)

4.  Made a batch of strawberry jam from local berries, and have half a batch of black raspberries ready to process tomorrow (when another few cups should be ripe.) I do love canning jam. Beautiful in the jar, tasty, a  nice gift to give. There’s no bad here.

5. (7-8-15  You didn’t think I’d be able to stay away, did you?)

 

Small Things 7-7-15

1. Puppy is currently defanged, and her tongue lolls most amusingly.  She did well at my in-laws’, but is SO HAPPY to be home.  If for no other reason than the floor of our house is currently made almost entirely out of puppy chew toys…

2.  Brought in a bowl of black raspberries from the garden. Long-time readers might remember me encouraging a single spike of wild black raspberries to take root in the (sour) blueberry patch, a couple of years ago? Black raspberries OWN that patch now. I mean the blueberries are still there, but the black raspberries are flourishing! So nice to have even more black raspberries than I can eat. Might even get to make some jam this year…

3.  Finished re-reading the Blackwater series by Michael McDowell. I read these for the first time back in the 70s(? 80s?) when they first came out, and the story stuck with me, mostly because it defied description. Ghost story? Monster story? American Gothic? It’s like Faulkner meets Stephen King, only not truly horrible or scary–just the story of a dysfunctional Southern family, one (or maybe two or three) of whom is very occasionally a giant alligator monster who sometimes eats people.

Among other things that struck me on the re-read, this is a rather painless sociological look at small-town life in Alabama in the early 20th century. Lots of detail about domestic arrangements. Sort of neat, actually.

Quite a few non-judgmental depictions of gay people–nice to see in an older book. Depictions of black people were a bit more problematically stereotypical–this dysfunctional Southern family is white (well, and alligatorish, a few of ’em) quite wealthy, and their servants are black, which is pretty standard for the time & place it’s set–especially in the first book. But he toned all the stereotyping way back by the second book, and then it read as a much more interesting story from a sociological/historical perspective as well.

Also, one of the few named minor characters in the book was a ‘Mr. Jett’ who ran the telegraph & Western Union office.  Since I know a branch of Jetts still lives out there in North Alabama, it gave me a kick both to see my family name, and to know the author really did some good research!

4.  The kiddo was overwhelmed to learn that kleenex comes in colors.  :)  Shall have to start buying blue tissues…

5.  He’s all about singing Old McDonald these days.  “Old McDonald had a…(tractor, crop duster, toaster oven, baler, refrigerator, coffee maker, tomato planter, harvester)…” with the appropriate mechanical sounds, of course.  Touch-a truck day at the firestation is so much more exciting to this kid than a day at the zoo!

Small Things 7-2-15

1.  Xena lost two–COUNT ‘EM, TWO!!!– baby canines (aka: insanely sharp needle teeth) today.  There is much rejoicing in the household. She’s gotten much better about not deliberately grabbing at things (body parts) with her mouth, but occasionally still, you know, has her mouth open when she races past. I, as the occasional catcher of a fly-by, am terrifically excited by ‘bloody-holes-where-teeth-used-to-be’ and am looking forward to eventually welcoming her ‘teeth shaped more like pegs than daggers’ stage of existence!

2.  Going down to Connecticut this weekend for a bit of a break, though feeling a little guilty that we weren’t able to board the pups here at home in order to keep them out of my in-laws’ hair.  Happily, Xena’s past much of her crazy puppy-phase, but still–I foresee a weekend of pretty much being tethered to me for the Warrior-piglet! This will not necessarily be a bad thing. Shall try to use the time for some good training sessions, and long walks.

Last time I was in Connecticut, I wrote a story start to finish & sold it. Just learned the topics of two more anthologies coming from these editors, so perhaps I’ll get some sedentary stuff done, too…

3.  At the kiddo’s request, I knit Real Bunny a blanket.  Real apparently slept under it all night, and the bunny’s currently ensconced on the kitchen table, snoozing away happily beneath his new blankie. So glad he likes it.  Whenever I get too frustrated with the little boy’s seeming immaturity, (not listening, forgetting rules, etc.) I remind myself that since Real Bunny still plays an enormous role in his life, he’s not being ‘immature’, he’s being exactly as mature as a 4yo should be.  Which is to say, not very. Despite what he thinks, and what I sometimes forget!

4. Gymnastics day-camp has been wonderful for the little kid. Running, coloring, swimming, swinging, balancing. He’s in heaven.  Might have to sign him up for another week in August.

Of course, he’s also decided he wants to learn martial arts. Hi-ya! is the sound his karate-kick makes, which informs me that this is a result of superhero/anime watching.  Which I’m ok with. If it were boxing lessons he lusted for, I’d be more inclined to say no…

5. I have finished all the published Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. Highly recommend to SF/F fans.  Lovely, fun stuff. And now I’m reading The Spirit Ring, which is a stand-alone fantasy and wondering how I never found this author before, (though granted, that’s a crummy title) when she’s writing exactly the kind of stuff I enjoy most. Makes me wonder what else is out there!

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Small Things 6-30-15

1.  Last day of the first month of summer, and holy frijoles it went by fast. Some of that is that we’ve been legitimately busy. Some of that is that I’m still trying to cram a writing block into every day–even when those days have no child-free hours, which is both intense and intensely amusing. And some of it, I think, is that I am simultaneously very excited for the kiddo to start school, and completely horrified that he’s old enough to be doing so.

I mean, yay me, I kept him alive for five years! (Something I wasn’t entirely sure I was capable of, when those crazy people at the hospital let me walk out of there with this tiny precious human in my arms.) But also, if I’m less of a full-time & more of a part-time child wrangler, then I feel like my writing has to amount to a bit more in order for me to feel ok about not holding down a ‘real’ job. So feeling a little weird about that.

I’m writing, selling the occasional short story, getting agent requests for my manuscript, but number of books sold is still a big, fat, zero.

And yet there’s nothing I want more in life–outside of the family I have–than to write, professionally, for the rest of it.

Things I need to think about. Pursue the dream harder, better, faster somehow–or maybe just say “I don’t have this in me.”  I don’t like that second idea at all, but it’s been pestering me lately.

2.  Saw another fox on this morning’s dog-walk. This one had something limp and dead in his?/her? mouth. (We looked it up, the kiddo & I, when he needed to know if the daddy fox might have been bringing the babies food as well. Happy to report that, yes, Daddy-fox might very well be the Bringer of Squirrels.) Really hope this family of foxes survives & thrives. There’s something very satisfying about seeing foxes in the early morning. Starts the whole day off right.

3.  Gymnastics day-camp has been good to the little boy so far. It’s also meant he’s napped both days this week so far. Which makes it harder for his father to get him to sleep at night, but also means he’s not exhausted in the late afternoon as he’s been since February, when he decided he was done with napping.

Today he brought home a piece of artwork entitled “The Plas of Bisy Trucks.” Cranes, tow-trucks, semis & tractors–it was a very bisy plas, indeed.

4.  We had the piano tuned for the first time since we moved, and it’s an absolute joy to play again. I’d pretty much given up, since I couldn’t play before for all the wincing at its horribleness. But I’m slowly starting to remember some of my favorite pieces, and I’d love to learn more. Any suggestions? I’ve always played classical & ragtime, but have started to enjoy movie scores as well. There are songs from The Piano that are as rewarding to play as anything written 200 years ago…

5.  I do love my little office, carved out of a tiny, sloped-ceiling closet. It’s barely big enough for a chair, but it has a teeny tiny window mostly overlooking the roof.  And some trees. And the neighbor’s roof. Also a guest-room bed where Princess Wiggle-butt likes to sleep while I’m writing. I love this little room terribly. Best place in the house.

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