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.

Small Things 6-28-15

1.  Went to see my first theater-movie in a decade. Yeah. Getting out of the house not something I’m so great at.  We saw Inside Out, all three of us: me, The Boy & the little boy, and it was awesome. Stopped for burgers on the way home, enjoyed the heck out of our Saturday outing.

The movie itself was much better than I expected–man, Pixar can really tug at heartstrings.  This one started off a bit slow, but by the end I’d decided they nailed this one, too.  Parts were a bit sad for the little boy (who still gets teary-eyed when characters in books are sad) but he held it together.

His first big-kid movie.

I see many more movie adventures ahead.

2.  Cold here today. No, really. I think it’s 54* out there, and blustery-windy/rainy. Feels like October, not the last couple of days of June.  Ah well. We were worried about drought here in late spring. Not. An. Issue. Anymore.

3.  Having some trouble persuading the little boy to pay attention to what I’m asking him to do/refrain from doing. Mostly, this is revolving around his love affair with Xena, Warrior Piglet. He wants to play with her, but since her playtimes always end in heel-nibbling, he then thinks he needs rescuing and shrieks. Which just convinces her that he really DOES need to be herded somewhere–ANYWHERE! And by the time she’s wound tight enough that she’s compulsively herding, it’s hard to call her off without just sequestering her in her crate til her brain comes back online.  Which isn’t exactly fair to her, since she’s doing exactly what the little boy is asking her to do. Which also makes my mission to train the herding-instincts OUT of the dog where small children are concerned really difficult.

So I yell at them both. And remind him that we’re trying NOT to gallop back and forth in front of the puppy-piglet until she snaps. And he apologizes.

And then he’s doing it again in five minutes.


“Work in progress”, I keep reminding myself. “Everyone here – me as parent, as dog-trainer, the dog, the child. We’re all works in progress.”

4. The puppy licks my eyes–whether or not I remove my glasses first–just like my previous dog Sydney used to. It was a mark of high favor when Syd would do so, but I confess I’d forgotten about it. Until Xena came up to lick my face when I was upset at myself for the amount of yelling I was doing.

She got up in my face and proceeded to wash my eyes more gently than she’s ever done, well, anything.  Which changed the angry tears to happy ones.  Despite the insane hassle of training a cattle dog, I’m so happy she’s here.  I love this little dog who sits at my feet and waits for me to come home, and who cleans my eyes so very carefully. She’s a good dog. (Or at least she will be someday not-too-far-away)

5.  And on that level, I’m really enjoying the daily dog-walk. Xena’s learning to heel, and learning not to panic over the scary things. (Cars. Joggers.  Bicyclists-OH-MY-GOD-the-terror!) It’s good for me to get out, really good for her to get out, and good for us both to get out together with no distractions beyond the aforementioned scary-things-that-plague-her-dog-brain.

Which is good, since she’s still growing. Whoever dad was, he was a big ‘un.  At 4 months, she was about 30#, which means she might very well be a 60# dog. *gulp* best get going on this dog-training, Jett!

Small Things 6-25-15

1. Strawberries! Fresh, local strawberries are pretty amazing. Never been a fan of supermarket strawberries, and I’ve had absolutely no luck growing them, so my experience with fresh, local strawberries is sort of limited.  but these? I UNDERSTAND WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT, STRAWBERRY-LOVERS!

2. Today, out walking, I saw three–THREE!–juvenile foxes playing in someone’s side yard! Stood there and watched them cavort and gambol for almost 5 minutes.  Had they not likely been part of the same family of foxes who just ate half of a friend’s flock of chicks, I’d’ve felt less guilty.  But honestly, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  (Sorry, chickies!)

3.  On the chicken-front, Fluffy the most Fluff-Brained-of-all-chickens has finally left the nest.  She went broody last month and has resisted all efforts to encourage her to get over herself.  I finally resorted to pulling all the ceramic nest eggs out of the coop (whereupon something promptly stole them(!)) and she’s been out with her flock-sisters ever since.  Poor stupid girl.  But at least she won’t spend the entire summer inside a dark, stinky chicken coop waiting for chicks to hatch from pieces of china.

4.  When the puppy is on a leash she’s remarkably well-behaved. She’s learning ‘heel’ (with American Cheese product her promised reward for good behavior,) and she’s slowly learning to ignore oncoming cars.  No sidewalks here, and the road-ditches are covered in poison ivy, so we have to just pretend we’re small on the side of the road while we’re hustling to a less-busy street.  She’d still rather kill the car, but again–for a cheese reward she’ll demonstrate the forbearance of a canine saint & allow the vehicle to live. Just this once.  If the cheese reward is large enough to keep her occupied while the car is approaching.

5.  Having (finally) finished all the various baby-gifts I felt I needed to make this year, I’m finally back to cross stitch. Getting ready to finish up one big project, & must decide whether to start another big one, or whether I should just go all in & start a HUGE project.  HUGE would allow for even more detail, but, yeah, it’d be huge, and I’m old now, and who knows if my eyes will make it. I might need to work under one of those magnifying lights, which might take some of the fun out of handwork? I dunno.  Decisions, decisions.  (the fun kind of decisions!)


Small Things 6-23-15

1. A lovely weekend down in Brooklyn for my step-grand-daughter’s second birthday. Yikes! Doesn’t seem possible! And I got to hold her new little brother! So tiny! So cute! ,

The dogs went to Nellie’s favorite kennel while we were away, where Xena apparently behaved like a perfect, calm angel. Until I arrived to pick them up, anyway. At which point she lost her mind, (and a baby-molar!) started screaming that ACD-shriek of excitement, and to impress upon me how much she loved me, she proceeded to jump up on me before I could fend her off into a ‘sit’. Sadly, while she bounced down, one puppy tooth caught me. If I had the fragile skin of a whippet, I’d’ve been going in for a few stitches. She did have the good sense, though, to puncture my arm near enough to where I have a lot of nerve damage that I didn’t really feel the tooth going in. Got it slathered in antibiotic cream–really don’t want a deep infection–but it’s pretty pain-free.

And since calming down & returning home, though, she’s been Little Miss Well-Behaved. As if she’s worried I’ll leave her somewhere if she’s not good. Poor pup. She graduated–with honors–from puppy kindergarten today, and I scheduled a consultation with an actual dog trainer (not the PetCo kindergarten we went to because the timing was perfect.) Even though she’s really being quite good in so many ways, I do think that we could use a bit of help to end this mouthiness sooner rather than later. And ACDs love being taught things, so it should, actually, be fun.

2. We stopped at IKEA on our way back from the city to buy the kiddo a desk for his room. He’s a fiend these days for drawing and coloring–trucks, of course. He’s all about the trucks. And he’s been due a little upgrade to his baby room. Which was awesome because if there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s putting together flat-pack furniture. (That was not sarcastic. Yes, I know I’m a loser. Stop judging me!)

So he’s got a desk, and I got a nice project to ease me back into the summer. All’s right with the world.

3. Thinned the peaches, dumped out a pot of water that drowned a poor hapless chipmunk while we were gone and the heavens were opening up. Stuck a few tomato cages around the tallest of the tomatoes, and tried a cherry (sour! blech!) Right now we’re under a tornado watch, so I’m keeping an eye on the light outside while I sit in the library and write. Don’t think anything is going to materialize out there, but I’ve been in a tornado before & I respect the hell out of that kind of weather possibility!

4. We were talking to the kiddo about astronauts–something about how maybe someday he could fly to Mars. He informed us very seriously that he did not want to fly to Mars, or to be an astronaut. But that he would be very pleased to drive the truck that carried the space shuttle to the launch pad. That would be fun, he figured.

My son knows his own mind, and what’s on his mind is trucks.

5. What’s on MY mind is vegetables. Our CSA pick ups began last week, and we’re almost through the lettuce–just in time for tomorrow’s lettuce. Lettuce is my bane during the summer. I know I should enjoy salad more than I do, but I really prefer cooked veggies. Anyone have any great things to do with lettuce that aren’t salad? No, I didn’t think so.

Small Things 6-19-15

1.  Hey hey hey! Two blog posts in three days–not so bad for an out-of-blogging-shape gal with time management issues!

This morning I have determined that walks with the puppy & the 4yo are difficult. The puppy is in the process of being trained out of her determined hatred of all things ‘car’.  She wants to eat them, which goal I can distract her from with a well-timed offering of American Cheese Product.  This is, however, difficult on a narrow sidewalk-less roadway, when I’ve got a 4yo hand in the cheese-offering hand.  Not safe. Came home before the walk really started, & I’m cranky with it.

But I’ve promised the wee boy ice cream at Friendly’s this afternoon (his choice of treat, not mine. Blech.) and The Boy’s due home in the early afternoon, so maybe the pup and I can try this walkies-thing again.

Single parents, you have my utmost admiration.  This shit is hard.  And I feel like I’d give up a (minor) body part to have three minutes all to myself to, I dunno, shower the other parts.

But when his dad’s away, the wee boy & the whippet are both clingy. When she doesn’t get a long, fast walk in the morning, the puppy is insane. And although I’m sleeping better on solo nights now that I can trust the puppy ears (which are connected to the puppy’s barker) to alert me to any problems, I still feel less than 100% in the rested/calm department this morning.  I could use a vacation.

But The Boy is coming home today.  I hope to pass off child-care to him pretty much as soon as he staggers in the door, and disappear, first on a long walk then possibly to a coffee-shop. To drink caffeinated beverages and write some words that aren’t awful.

That sounds like a little slice of heaven right now.

2.  Another cloudy day, my tomatoes are loving it, but sweet corn still isn’t up.  Ah well. Happily  we have local farmers for any sweet-corn purchases we need to make.

It’s interesting, this third-year-of-the-garden. Interesting to note that the cheap weed block I used here & there when I ran out of the fancy stuff doesn’t actually, you know, block weeds.  Going to have to get out there with vinegar in a spray bottle and just knock it down.

I’m finding asparagus volunteers all over the place and am g0ing to have to go through & try to transplant them to the asparagus bed.  It’s pretty, but way too tall and sun-blocking to allow to come up wherever it likes.

Garlic did great this year again, and I have kale volunteers everywhere.  Thinking seriously about using kale in my ornamental landscaping – the frilly stuff is awfully pretty, super hardy, and I do love the idea of making salads from my ornamentals.

3.  Despite my present frustration, the kiddo really is a joy to be around these days. In fact, I think some of my frustration is due to the fact that he usually acts so much more mature than his years that when he does actually act like a 4yo, it drives me more nuts than it should.  “Age appropriate”, I keep whispering to myself.  “Teasing the puppy after I’ve explicitly asked him not to is way more age-appropriate than most of our conversations/interactions when he behaves like a thoughtful 9yo.”

But he loves his puppy and his friends–even (especially?) those who are younger than him. He likes being the teacher, the ‘big brother’. At a playdate yesterday, listening to him and his 2.5yo buddy take turns saying nonsense words, then giggling maniacally at each other’s offerings was one of the cutest things I’ve heard in the recent past.

Soccer is still a bit of a stretch for him. He really doesn’t like the idea of just ‘taking’ the ball away from those little kids on the other team. No matter how often we explain the idea of competitive sports to him, it’s just not sinking in.

(And I’m totally ok with that, btw!)

He’s reading like a champ, and enjoying longer and more complex books.  He still loves having mom & dad read to him, and I’m delighted to do it, even when he corrects my pronunciation.  (“That’s pronounced ‘off-ten’, Mommy. You said ‘offen'”) I’m developing real preferences in his choices of chapter books–Geronimo Stilton is awful; Cam Jansen is good; anything by Dav Pilkey is great–disgusting, but great. The Mr. Putter & Tabby books are lovely, as are the Henry & Mudge books.  He still enjoys picture books, but he’s spending more of his time alone reading the bigger books.

The end of another era.

4.  He’s also huge.  Always has been, but seriously, he’s tall & skinny like his daddy, and–especially when he’s wearing his glasses–looks at least a couple of years older than he is.

His eyes are getting better, which is good to see. Patching is a pain, but he only has to do it for an hour or two now, which is nice.  And I think his eyes are getting better in general, as he often takes his glasses off to see something better.  Weirdly, though, I’ll miss those glasses if they go. Superman’s cool, but I’ve always had a thing for Clark Kent…

5.  Lemon tree blooming, bougainvillae blooming, lilies scenting the whole house, it’s a sweet-smelling day, and I’m going to try to keep the stress to a minimum.  Off to Brooklyn this weekend for my step-granddaughter’s 2nd birthday (yikes!) and looking forward to it.  Sweet summer days to everyone.

Now, off to go look up when it’s time to harvest my garlic…

Small Things 6-17-15

1.  Hey!  Long time no write, no comment, no nothin’.

For which I have no excuse, save that someone obviously forgot to ship me that extra three hours a day I ordered online…

Truly, all is well, the busy is good.

But it’s time to get back to the routines that keep me sane, and this is one of them.

2.  Summer is here–kind of.  We’ve built fires in June–heck, we actually turned the furnace on a couple of weeks ago.  But the garden is growing, the chickies are laying (all except for the fluff-brain who’s gotten broody and thinks if she sets on those ceramic nest-eggs, surely they’ll hatch eventually!!!  Poor birdy.

I’m soaking up the sunshine, because I’m still feeling traumatized from last winter, and enjoying the variable temperatures. Some days it’s hot, others, we’re shivering — but it’s not snowing, so hey! All Good!

3.  Puppy.  Oh, the puppy!  She’s wonderful and horrible.  Kind of like all puppies.  But her wonderful is good enough to more than make up for the horrible.  Which is nice.

She’s super food-motvated, which makes training easier, & she’s funny, and she wants to be within 6 inches of me at all times.  Which I like. Because of her, I’m getting at least an hour a day of walking in. Which I like.

But then there’s the not-so-good. Mostly it’s just puppy-stuff.  Lots of energy, hasn’t quite learned what’s appropriate & what’s not.  She and Nellie get along great–for the most part. But Nellie’s started disliking being pounced on (ambushed) inside when she goes out for her daily pee break, so she’s just started, you know, peeing inside.  Sigh.  And since one of the pup’s ambushes resulted in a skin tear (whippets have skin like tissue paper that can require stitching up after a run through raspberry bushes–literally) I can hardly blame her.  Physically brave, our Nellie is NOT. But it’s frustrating to watch these two break training BECAUSE OF THE OTHER ONE.

And frustrating, too, because while the tear is healing I’m keeping them separated–don’t want Xena’s teeth or claws ripping out a staple!–and Nellie’s desperate to play with Xena.

Outside, where she can maneuver–which makes sense. Xena, though, is a puppy and DOESN’T make sense. She wants to play now.  All the time now.

So it’s a work in progress.  Calming down the puppy, getting Nellie to be a little bolder inside.  (She’s plenty bold outside. It’s funny–she’s very much the boss of outside. In the backyard, Nellie’s the instigator of play, and she’s the dominant one–very much so. But inside is a whole other story, apparently…

4.  Been reading anything by Lois McMaster Bujold I can get my hands on, and haven’t been disappointed yet. Why had I never read her before???  Miles Vorkosigan series is great fun and I’ve been plowing through them, having a great time immersing myself.

5.  Writing’s going ok, though summer-vacation is proving pretty hard to work through. With so much more daylight, how is it that the days feel so much shorter?

It’s a busy summer, which is some of it, lots of trips planned, lots of activities–day camp, etc. And I have lots of goals I’d like to be a bit further along on before next year rolls around.

Next year is full-day kindergarten.  Next year is FIVE YEARS OLD, which feels like a bigger milestone than it likely is. Next year is coming so quick on the heels of this one that I’m having a hard time not giving in to panic when I think of it too hard.

All of which is to say that I am going to try to keep the blog a bit more current, going to try to work toward some of my bigger goals so as not to lose sight of them, and I’m going to try to enjoy every minute of this too-short summer of 2015.

Talk to you soon!