Small Things 11-1-15

1.

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Halloween is awfully fun when you’re five.  This is the kiddo dressed as a ninja warrior.  A ninja warrior with lots of sparkly stuff, because the plain black outfit was, apparently, kind of boring.  It had to be ‘fixed’ with gold, silver and red lamé.  And some other sparkly stuff. So he was a ninja who specializes in assignments that post him in Vegas, we figured.

He’s in kindergarten. This logic totally works.

And he scored big-time in the candy department, so he’s a very happy boy.  His first question this morning was, “I suppose we don’t eat Halloween candy before breakfast?”

Um, you suppose right, my sugar-addled boy!

2.  After I got home from being out of town with my folks for a few days, The Boy went down to NY for a couple of days, so today is the first ‘normal’ day I’ve had in about a week.  Long day of nothing much besides cooking dinner planned.  Already enjoying it immensely!

3. Peak leaf season is pretty much over, but it sure was a glorious year. And it’s still pretty out there, if sparser than it was a week ago.  Not bad for the first of November!

4.  My grandmother passed away last month–a sad but not exactly tragic thing, as she was very old and very ready to go.

But I’m finding the realization of her death hitting me in odd ways.  She was 96 and had lived in an assisted care apartment for many years.  I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years.  But I knew she was there, just being grandma in the world.  It’s an odd sort of unraveling feeling to know she’s gone. She was my last living ‘grand’, the kiddo’s only great-grand, and I miss that feeling of continuity.

She was very much loved and we should all be so lucky in the manner of her death, but still, she will be missed.

5.  It’s looking more and more like my parents will be moving out to live closer to us, and I could not be more delighted. A lot of work for them, a lot of logistics to get through, but they’re ahead of the game in that they’re planning on downsizing, which is fantastic.

I can’t wait for the kiddo to get to know his maternal grandparents as well as he knows his paternals, and selfishly, I can’t wait to have my mommy and daddy near enough to have them over for dinner and just hang out with them over weekend donuts and coffee.

So. Very. Excited!

 

Small Things 10-16-15

1. I have, apparently, developed a fondness for sparkly, glittery nail polish.  This should come as a shock to, well, anyone who’s ever met me in real life, since I’m a boring clothes, no make-up, hair up in a bun type.

And I bite my nails.

But sparkly nails prevent me from biting them, and, well, they sparkle. Which, apparently, one never gets quite too old for.

2. We’ve had an absolutely glorious autumn here. The colors have been at peak color for, well, weeks, it’s like living in a box of Crayolas that have melted all over the landscape.  Rather stunning just to walk outside the house.

A nice reminder that it’s not the humid summers or the arctic, snowy winters that make this a wonderful climate. It’s pretty much October. THIS October, in fact. If last winter was the winter that all winters from here on will get compared to in my brain (“Ah yes! I remember that winter of ’14 when we got snow as deep as the roof eaves, now THAT was a winter, young fella!”) then this is the October that I’ll likely be comparing others to for a long time.  Not a bad prospect, because it really is stinkin’ gorgeous out there.

3. And on that note, it’s also the perfect time to have a fire, because, well, chilly.

4. Boy-child had his 5yo pediatrician appointment, winning accolades for not having had to see the doc since his last year’s annual check up.  Once again, kiddo was off the charts in height, and off the charts to a slightly lesser degree in weight. Pediatrician is fumbling with growth charts as he walks in after the nurse is done measuring height & weight & says, “Um, Ms. Jett? Your son is, um, perfectly average.”

Um, what? I know the kid’s tall. I buy his clothes. Surprised, I look up & he drops the punchline.  “For a SEVEN year old, that is.  Dear lord, what do you FEED him?”

Sigh.

Spare me from doctors with a sense of humor.

5.  Did I ever mention that the last kickstarted book I was a part of is out & available for purchase by non-kickers? Well it is. Please go buy it & leave nice reviews on Amazon & Goodreads & your own blog if you like it.

 

Also, I was recently asked to be an anchor author in an upcoming anthology of bedtime stories for kids.  Which is flattering, and also super exciting, because I have an idea for a story featuring a little boy’s bunny named Real, who just might be King of All the Rabbits.

The kickstarter will be going live on the 20th, and I’ll be plugging it then with links and pictures. Just a heads up–I’m offering a ‘Tuckerization’ for a backer incentive (where I promise to use the backer’s–or their child’s–name for a character in my story.) Literary immortality, folks!

Small Things 9-25-15

1. And for the second year in a row, the kiddo is sick the day before his birthday party. Sigh. Would it be wrong to just start having his parties in the middle of July when there are no colds to be passed around. A birthday three weeks after school starts just means everyone has the chance to catch it by mid/late-September. Ugh. It remains to be seen whether we’ll reschedule this, or if he’ll rally tonight–which is certainly possible.

I hate not knowing what’s happening. Just hate it.

2. A friend who’s had way too much loss in her life is pregnant, which is awesome. But the early test results have been, well, not horrible, but not awesome. Inconclusive, let’s say. Another friend has sent me her book of poetry on her IVF & loss experiences, and while the poetry is phenomenally good, it’s hard for me to read.

We’re so lucky to have our son, and I have, apparently, blocked out an awful lot of what happened to get him here.  Anyone still reading who’s still in the IF trenches, please know I’m overwhelmed with sorrow & hope on your behalf, and I’m sorry I’m not reading the blogs anymore. Selfishly, it’s hard even to read about infertility any more. It’s like I used up all my capacity to think about those things and still function. I suspect I wasn’t functioning very well during those years.

God, those were the worst of times.

3. However, on the bloggy-happy side of things? A blog-met pediatric ophthalmologist friend who’s offered eye-advice in the past when it became obvious the kiddo was going to be visiting ophthalmologists regularly, was ALSO able and willing to advise me on some pesky questions I had about what would be involved with an eye exam for a character in the book I’m working on. I’ve watched umpteen videos, read blog entries for people who’ve had the procedure, and never was able to find the details I was looking for. She cleared it up so quickly, and so kindly.

Hurrah for people willing to share their expertise! Hurrah for ophthalmologists! Hurrah for friends who are both!

4. We’ve been watching the Lord of the Rings extended trilogy over the last 5 nights. Tonight will be the final ‘installment’.  Long-time readers might remember that this was an annual tradition when we lived in Brooklyn–we’d get our geeky LOTR friends together, cook a hobbit-worthy kitchenful of food, and eat and watch for 12 straight hours.

That’s not happening here for a while–everything else aside, my kid is nowhere NEAR ready for such a violent, scary story–so the compromise was better than nothing.  Still. I miss the immersion of doing it the proper way.

Not to mention the coney stew…

5. Speaking of eyes… I went to a retinal specialist today to see if we could figure out what’s going on with my wonky eye.  Part of the problem is that I can’t seem to describe the issue well.  “It just feels wonky. Not blurry, just like there’s some component of my vision missing. Like it’s darker. Or glare-ier. Or the colors are off. Or I’m having to tip my head to see around something.”

Well, the retinal specialist says I don’t have an inflamed retina per se, but the tissue behind the retina is inflamed. So if it’s not better in 4 months (and this has been going on for 2 years, so she’s not super worried about letting it go that long) when I have a follow-up exam, she’ll want an MRI to, you know, rule out brain cancer.

Which would be less worrying if my cousin’s wife hadn’t just succumbed to that very thing.  We weren’t close, but her illness & death hit me hard. We went to college together, she was my peer, not some old lady who died from some old-lady disease.

And by the way, this getting older stuff? Most of it I don’t mind. Gray hair, wrinkly face? That’s all ok. The woman who tries to give me a 55+ discount? No big deal, I certainly don’t look like a teenager, & I recognize that by not dyeing my hair, I’m automatically registering as at least 10 years older to most people. But the whole body-going-wonky stuff? It sort of sucks.  Just for the record, I do NOT approve. Not at all.

Small Things 9-24-15

1.   I’m slowly becoming accustomed to having so much time to write. It’s still a struggle to make myself do housework, but making myself sit down & write? Such luxury! Story’s coming right along, and I’m trying not to get too obsessive about checking to see if an agent who’s got the full manuscript from my last book has gotten back to me yet..

2. Xena brought me a very soggy, very dead bird. She tried to bury it in my office just now–very kind, but I took possession of the poor little thing. I suspect she just found it, though I suppose she could have caught it & then it got so soggy because she held it in her mouth for so long. She’s tricksy like that. I wouldn’t put it past her.

3. This is also apparently the autumn of the applepocalypse.  Orchards that normally bring in 30,000 bushels of apples are looking at 70,000.  Banks have baskets of free apples by the door. Half the old trees in my old rural neighborhood are–apparently–apple trees. We know this now because they’re currently bowed down to the ground under their weight of apples.

I’m having a good time making the NY Times Tarte Tatin.  Seriously – have I posted a link to this recipe before? If you haven’t tried it yet, and if you live somewhere in the NE & are currently being crushed by the slow, inexorable crush of apples on your counter that are not being eaten quickly enough, make this. Shoot, make it even if you have to go to the store today and BUY 8 apples. Any apples work.  A mix of apples works. No need for a non-stick skillet, I use cast iron & it works like a charm. I also don’t bother to roll out the puff pastry, just tick the extra bits around the edges. Why be fussy, eh? And it tastes So. Blessed. Good.

4. My kid loves school. Like, REALLY loves school. I can’t truly express how happy this makes me, but it really does. There’s something about talking with my son about everything he’s done in school that day that’s my favorite part of the day. It’s usually on our way home from school, and at first it’s hard to get him to talk, but then I ask the perfect question and his whole day away from me comes spilling out of him and he wants to share it all, and I want to hear it all.  Because I’m delighted he loves school, loves learning, loves his friends & teachers, but I’m also delighted he still thinks telling his mommy all about his day is the fitting end to a school day. Life is good with a 5yo kid, I’ve got to say.  I’m so very lucky.

5. Chickens are molting, and so, not laying so much right now. Garden had a less-than-stellar year.  Apple tree is, admittedly, going gangbusters, as did the peach tree and the raspberries.  A good year for fruit, but not so much for anything else. Next year I’ll go all in with organic fertilizer, a drip system, and copper spray to try to head off the early blight before it destroys my crop.  I might have to go with a full on hoop-system to bump up the heat eventually, but I WILL learn to garden in this weird climate. I WILL!

Other plans for next year include actually trying to get some grass to grow in the sadder parts of our property. We have a dozen or so 100yo maples that cast awfully thick shade, and no one’s paid any attention to the area save to mow it for a very long time.  I’d also love to get some color planted in the few areas of dappled sun we have. Surely I could find a hydrangea or astilbes or something that wouldn’t mind the shade? It’s a project – an ongoing project, which is, I’m learning about myself, something I enjoy having.

 

Small Things 8-25-15

1. My son wears glasses. He has since he was about 2 years old, due to some eye-crossing issues.  And he’s always been, really, quite good about taking care of his glasses. But while on vacation, someone (probably me) crushed one arm of them, and they’ve been hanging on by a superglued thread ever since.  Took ’em to his eyeglasses shop & not only did they replace his old lenses (in his spare frame) with his new lenses from the busted frame, but they’re also replacing the glasses under warranty.

Which is why it’s worth shelling out the big bucks for kids’ glasses, I guess. Plus, you know, he’ll be able to see at school.  (SCHOOL?  WHAT IS THIS CRAZINESS? He’s a BABY for heaven’s sake!)

Not really.

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Where the HELL did the last 5 years go?

Oh yeah, into helping this little guy find his feet in the great, wide world.

And he’s off and running…

2.  Just had to tell a dream agent–who doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions–that he didn’t respond quickly enough to a query I sent out in May, and the manuscript is already being considered by other agents. The urge to lie and say no one had it in hand was there, but I did the right thing and sent my regrets instead of the manuscript.  Happily, he did get back to me right away to say I should send it if the agents currently considering decide to pass.

But still. Big gulps on that one.

3. Yesterday was the first day since my son was born almost five years ago that I have had 6 contiguous, starting-in-the-morning hours to myself.  I wrote.  It was really, really nice. Maybe I’ll survive this back-to-school thing after all?

4.  We have been inundated with frogs and toads this year.  Which I don’t actually mind: it’s nifty going outside late at night and seeing the ground practically alive with amphibians.  Odd, though, since other years a single garden toad is cause for celebration.

5.

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This piglet dog makes me really happy.  She’s lying at my feet right now, doing what happy dogs do best.  3 miles in the morning seems to be her sweet spot of tiredness.  Too much more than that, and she’s just exhausted all day long. Too much less than that, and she’s a demon-monster of too-playful annoyance.  But 3 miles makes us both happy.  Life’s good.

Small Things 8-13-15

1.   A long weekend spent in San Francisco–first time I’ve ever been there, and it was LOVELY. What a pretty city.  So much fun!

But also good to be home. Good to rescue the pup from the horrors of boarding.  (Kidding. She actually had fun this time, with her big sister Nellie to show her the ropes. Played for the entire time, and ate like the piglet that she is.)

2. She went in for blood work this morning–getting spayed next week. 47#. Seriously. She’s built like a tank. A pudgy tank. Sadly, I think we might need to control this dog’s food intake. It’s a drag, I’d hoped not to, but overweight pups aren’t any healthier than overweight people, and really, it’s my JOB to make sure this dog lives a long and healthy life.

Of course, at the moment, she’s perched on top of the back of a big comfychair like an obscenely large cat, grinning out the window at something.  Not sure what the hell she thinks she’s doing. She might, in fact, be sort of—-yep. She was stuck. That explains it.

Cute she is. Sweet? Absolutely. Super-smart, not so much.

3.  It’s looking like another not-so-great tomato year, however, it’s been peaches-galore around here. So many that even the cadging squirrels & woodchucks haven’t been able to decimate our crop.  Must plant more peach trees…

4. My son brought me flowers. Kindergarten starts in 2.5 weeks. Going to miss having this charming little person around all day long.

5.  Mountain lion sightings in the area have everyone abuzz with speculation. Me, I’m more worried about the fisher cat my neighbor keeps seeing in our back yard, and the skunk that smelled like it was inside the house last night.  Here’s hoping to no dead chickies this year, or any other, for that matter…

Small Things 8-3-15

1.  Home after a weekend away, and because of her stitches, Nellie got to come with us instead of being relegated to the kennel with Xena. Xena thought she had been abandoned forever, and pretty much hasn’t let me out of her sight since she got back.  Of course, it’s all happiness now, but she’s going back INTO the kennel on Friday for part 2 of “crazy August from travel hell.” Poor thing. She can’t wait for September when all good dogs get to spend many hours a day with their person and NO trips anywhere (without her, at least) are scheduled.

She’s a pain in the butt, but I love this dog, and I love that she just wants to be somewhere nearby.  Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, she just, you know, wants to be in on it.

2.  Tried my first smoothie made with lettuce today.  Yeah, I guess it’s a thing. It wasn’t awful. I felt good about, you know, consuming lettuce, rather than letting it rot in the fridge. Plus, it’s been so blasted hot that freezing its green goodness for a couple of hours made the coldness at least as appealing as the taste.  Hoping this week’s CSA share won’t be so lettuce-heavy, but not really expecting it.  More beets, fewer heads of lettuce!

3.  Spent the day doing errands, cleaning, laundry, and rewarded myself by installing blackout blinds in our room.  Mostly for the insulation factor–it’s a south-west facing room, on the top floor, beneath a not-much-of-an-attic. If it’s 86* outside, it’s 92* in our room.  Hoping this changes that a bit, but really, this time of year it’s all just really hot.

Toad says “Blah.”

4.  The kiddo’s night terrors have gotten bad. Don’t know if it’s school-anxiety related, or something else. But he sobs inconsolably for 10 or 20 minutes,  shaking and sweating. And then he drops back to sleep mid-sob and doesn’t remember a thing in the morning. (Small blessing!) I’m wondering if the heat has anything to do with it, but mostly we’re just waiting this phase out. No fun for any of us, and I’m not looking forward to the airplane rides coming up.  Wish us luck and no night-terrors while on vacation!

5.  Did you all know that the word ‘gobsmacked’ only entered usage in the 1980s? Me neither. I feel like a dope, and The Boy feels very etymologically superior tonight.

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…