Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mailbox Treasure

Last week, I ordered several books that are out of print on this glorious invention, the internet. This doesn't have nearly the same soothing effects of wandering about a used bookstore for several hours, though it does have better end results (if your goal is to actually get the books you want, which is not always my purpose in such heavenly realms).

The nice side effect of ordering books online is the excitement to greet the mailbox at end of day. Rather than flyers that might (but never do) have coupons for things you need, piles of bills, and bribes that would turn on you later if you were dense enough to take them, there might be a package with your name on it and, within, brilliantly arranged bits of tree pulp with just the right ink upon the pages. It's even more exciting when they're books you've wanted for years.

For example, the only one of five that I've received so far is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Pictures From the Gone World. I love his unusual arrangement of words and the false cheer in his cynicism. My favorite poem in this book is "The world is a beautiful place," which, contrary to its first line, is not the kind of poem you should necessarily read first thing in the morning.

I also ordered Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind, mostly because I'm looking for a single poem of his - the one that piqued my interest in his work years ago. Unfortunately, all I remember about it is there's a tulip in it somewhere. That's not terribly helpful to me, especially when his works are so numerous and nearly every poet writes about flowers.

At some point in college, a friend introduced me to Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein. I provided a dramatic reading on the spot for everyone in the room, and it was delightful fun to read aloud. But don't let Silverstein's typical nature and the colorful cover fool you: this is not a children's book. Unless you want your kids to throw eggs at the ceiling, cut your hair in your sleep, and have nightmares.


On Saturday, I suddenly remembered that Monday (yesterday) was not a mail day here in the US. I got incredibly sad, and as Monday felt a lot like a Saturday to me, I kept eyeing the mailbox each time I walked in the front door. And then I remembered all over again that no post would be coming and my world crumbled around me.

But I can't wait to get home today. Hopefully another bit of well-arranged tree pulp will be waiting for me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Can Opener Dilemma

Our can opener has recently decided it's only going to work when it suits its purposes, and it will stop and throw a moody tantrum for no reason halfway through a task. I can't decide if it's acting like a hormonal teenager or a temperamental two-year old.

Truth is, it's closer to being a teenager. I don't remember how long we've had that thing. It was with us in New Mexico--might have been purchased there. Or it might be the same can opener I've had since the beginning of college, which would make it older than my relationship with Spousal Unit. A decidedly weird thought.

One way or another, we could use a new one. But I'm at that phase right now where a tiny, necessary purchase like that feels like over-the-top spending. (Never mind that we just went out for a fancy dinner on Saturday; that's from a separate vault in my mind, which has been drained.)

I get like this over the weirdest stuff. I sometimes suddenly reach a point at which any spending at all is a terrible idea (usually due to a large recent purchase--hello, homeownership) and then decide that buying anything other than food qualifies as frivolous spending. Even the food falls in that category sometimes. My internal monologue goes something like this.

Okay, we need honey. Which one should I get? Last time I bought the fancier Roundy's stuff and it tasted a lot better. But it's $1 more than this other jar; that's a whole dollar we could be saving, or put toward the water bill so we don't wake up some morning and discover we have to use the neighbor's hose to shower. But it's still a $6 jar. I guess we don't really need honey. I already put cranberries on my oatmeal, so I can live without honey.

I don't always end up talking myself out of a small purchase (It's always  the small ones that give me grief. Okay, the big ones too.), but I do often talk myself down to the cheapest version of something, after carefully studying the labels and ensuring that what I buy is the best deal on the shelf. And the thing about that magical $1 I would save for something else? I don't put it in my supermonkey bank or anything, so it just meanders about the bank account until I lift my spending embargo and finally buy the honey.

This is why I haven't bought a new can opener yet. Also, the handles are so sturdy that I often forget the wheels on that particular bus may still go 'round, but they're not getting anywhere. It still works on occasion, though, and for now, that's what I'm banking on. I'll probably only buy a new one when, some night before dinner, it completely gives out and I have to run to the store as part of a search-and-rescue mission to free the black beans from their tin prison.

Edit, 12:23 pm: Wow, that was a stupid topic for a blog post. But still, it was writing. I refuse to apologize for writing.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Annoy Your Neighbors Through Yard Use

As the weather gets nicer, the weekends get better and better.

Kale egg bake

The cats get full use out of all the windows (though Titania is still getting a bit too much use out of the basement ceiling, which leads to her getting stuck above the furnace and in the walls). Oberon gets terribly jealous that we're allowed outside and he isn't - he meows plaintively at the windows and follows us as we roam. I think he's loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

So much bloomed this weekend. I now have tulips and poppies to go with my daffodils, hyacinths, and bleeding hearts.

We mowed the lawn for the first time this weekend with our new electric mower - I'm quite fond of it, despite the cord. It's just like vacuuming, but more detrimental if you run over it.

I mowed a lopsided half of the yard on Saturday, as we discovered that the 50-foot extension cord wasn't long enough. Rather than run back out immediately, we decided to finish the rest on Sunday. I mowed as far as the cord would let me, resulting in a haphazard semicircle where mown lawn met unmown in the front yard. If it's possible to look sketch due to poor grass grooming, we did. Though I felt more normal when I saw the neighbor down the street using a rider mower to hack down foot-long grass in his average-sized suburban yard.

While I mowed, Spousal Unit cleaned the gutters. We were quite pleased with our skills, and it was even fun to do some yard work. I'm sure that won't last terribly long, but it was enjoyable in the meantime.

On Sunday, I read, played mandolin, and did yoga in the backyard while bees buzzed over the sweet spring grass. The mandolin thing was kind of a BFD, as I'm not terribly good yet but felt sequestered enough by the fence and trees not to be shy. (I hope the neighbors were at least amused by my terrible strumming.) I like not being in an apartment anymore.

Below is my latest outdoor dilemma, however. This overgrown corner is full of so many strange things (strange to me, at least) and I don't know what they are or how to organize it a bit more. (Click to enlarge and please share your findings with me!)

Close-up of one of the above plants

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Taking Credit Where None Is Due (Because I Didn't Plant These)

I know almost nothing about plants. I know they need water and some require more shade or sun than others, but as far as remembering which is which and what ones to plant next to tomatoes, I don't have a clue. So when I went to see my mom last weekend, I brought pictures of my yard so she could inform me.

I've already forgotten half of it. But here's some of what I remember.

Raspberries. Spousal Unit is going to be very happy later in the season.

Daffodils and grape hyacinths. There might be some tulips sprouting around them.

Bleeding hearts! After the rain last night, they've unfurled a lot more.
Possibly oriental poppies. I don't know what any of this other crap is. Probably weeds.

Hostas, I think. They're probably not hydras.

All I can remember about this one is the general prefix. I want to say septum,
but that seems like an inappropriate plant name.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Means ... Drinking?

Spousal Unit has wanted to make pancakes out on the patio since we moved in. Perhaps a bit strange, yes, but it sounded fun, too, and his unusual creativity is wonderful. So I mixed up the batter and told him to be careful of bird flyovers.

And he made pancakes, which we ate on our patio in the warm sun, surrounded by encroaching greenery that I haven't yet bothered to prune.

After, I went to my cousin's baby shower. It was fun to see lots of family in a more unusual context (a bowling alley).

Brooke and I with our spicy, decadent bloody marys.

The next morning for Mother's Day, we started out with mimosas. Brooke's was a little pale. Neal was disapproving, as usual.

We finished it off with a trip to River Bend Winery. It was good to see Mom so happy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Springtime in my Eye

The weekend was forecast to be rainy, or at least gloomy, and I was immensely glad that it was wrong. Rather than clouds and the chill expectation of days indoors, it was sunny and warm(er) both days. Spousal Unit and I played frisbee, went for walks, and enjoyed the cheer of spring. The first waft of freshly cut grass drifted through our green-but-not-that-green lawn, and there are beautiful daffodils and johnny jump ups and soon-to-be irises that I neither planted nor watered, but I'm taking credit for them all the same because they are mine and I can.

We found a new-to-us chair for $10 which suits the library beautifully. I've put it by a window, where it can look out at all the shelves while I sit and write.

*The title of this post comes from a poem by Margaret Hillert.
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