And How Are YOU Doing?

No, really, how are you?  Feeling good?  Family okay?  Weather inoffensive?  Food reliably obtained?  Good.  Enough about you, my turn!

 

LOVING MY NEW GIG.  Here’s my summary in a neat little pro-con list:

PROS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I don’t have to issue stupid “bathroom passes” and keep track of them and wonder just how many unsavory germs have been transferred to me.
  2. I make ONE lesson plan and teach it three different times.  For moneys.
  3. These young adults get my jokes.  I can throw out a bit of humor, a bit of snark, and I don’t have any Mom-of-Snowflayke calling me and yelling at me in front of the principal that I hurt somebody’s fragile ego.
  4. I’m only there for an hour and a half.
  5. I’m not hobbling together equipment or, worse, buying my own sound system and CDs so that a decent sound is experienced.
  6. Powerpoint is my BFF.
  7. No faculty meetings!
  8. No lunch duty!
  9. Actually being trusted to come up with the course content and the style of teaching and the examples I choose and.. and.. and… forget it, that’s everything right there.

CONS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I’m an adjunct, so no office.  But that’s okay because I can just go hang out with a student at the lounge and pretend I’m holding office hours.  Still get the job done and there’s tea and snacks nearby.
  2. I’m an adjunct, so no benefits.  That part is not okay because I’d really like some decent benefits, but in exchange for that, my college contributes 3% above my contribution to my pension.  THIS ROCKS.
  3. Sorry, I forgot this was the con list.  Pretend I struck out that last part.
  4. Um…..

No, that’s pretty much it.  Just those two things are the downside.  Oh!  I thought of another PRO: it is literally (please read that in Chris Traeger’s voice, thanks) five miles from my house.  Not 5.3, not “about” five, an actual five miles.  That tickles me.

 

9am-lecture

Too true.

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O Gardening, How I Love/Hate Thee…

So we used to have a really awesome vegetable garden.  We grew all kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, and even tried corn and carrots.  The carrots were sad, twisted, and bitter, much like some people I encounter on a daily basis, so we decided it’s better to buy them.  The corn was fun to watch grow, and even more fun to watch my Hubby HAND POLLINATING the suckers to make sure everything would come out hunky dory.  The resultant sexy corn had lots of missing kernels and looked a bit knobby, but tasted very sweet, unlike any people I encounter on a daily basis.  We decided that was also better to trust our local farmer’s market for future corn.

We took a pass on a veggie garden for the last few years because of time, weather, and general “ugh, do I really want to dig this all over again?”  But two years ago we built a lovely sturdy raised garden, and put all sorts of good soil in it.  I ordered plants online and lots of seeds, too, and lovingly started our garden.  I had not factored in the resident groundhog, Fred, or the voracious bunnies, or our newly adopted beagle Nellie.  It was an….interesting garden season.  So this year we armed ourselves with chicken wire fencing and garden stakes and whatnot, and felt sure we were all good to go.

 

There is something so sweet about blind faith, isn’t there?

 

We didn’t mail order our plants this year.  In fact, May was such crappy weather we didn’t plant until the beginning of June and used well-established plants from (forgive me, here, because it’s just so shameful to admit) Home Depot.  *shudder*  I try to be a good steward of the earth and take care to note where my food comes from and just who I support with my grocery dollars, but time was short and they were right there….

Here’s the rub:  We have gorgeous beefsteak tomatoes, although I find the flavor not as intense as a true Jersey tomato.  We have plum tomatoes that are great but they like to lay down on the ground as if they’re too exhausted to show up anymore and make it difficult for me to find them.  We have cherry tomatoes that are cheerfully determined to wrestle the plum tomatoes to the ground because they’re showoffs and they want to grab all the glory and attention.

We have cucumbers that grew astonishingly fast, wrapping themselves happily around the fencing and the strings we tied up, blossomed beautiful flowers, gave us three outstanding cucumbers, then promptly died back like something out of a body-snatcher movie.  Three. Lousy. Cucumbers.  Didn’t even get one of those hidden canoe-sized ones.

We have the tallest, strongest, most wide-leafed zucchini plants I’ve ever seen in my life, dripping with gorgeous blossoms (that I really want to fry up) and NOT A SINGLE FRUIT.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Not one.  Ginormous leaves, incredibly thick stalks, proud blossoms…..and then nothing.  Not one sweet little squash to make bread or frittata or saute with garlic and mushrooms.

 

And that’s it.  That’s the whole garden this year.  It’s now August 29, so I don’t think I’m getting anything else this year, and I have to wonder if I count this year as a success because of the tomato bounty or a failure because of cukes and zukes.

 

IMG_1070

This is what I was hoping for…

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Well, Hey There!

Holy Hannah, can I just tell you how many blog posts I’ve composed in my head and was convinced I’d sit down and have jewels of words just pour out all over your monitor?  Can I tell you how surprised I was to find I hadn’t written any?  I must have the most realistic dreams in the world…..

  1.  July was a very hot month so I found lots of things to either do inside my house with air conditioning, or in my car with air conditioning, or at somebody else’s house with air conditioning, or in a restaurant with air conditioning.  In July I pretty much forgot what fresh air smelled like.
  2. I also celebrated an anniversary in July, and it always amazes me how my wedding day only feels like two years ago, max.  But it’s been twenty-eight, so either I’m the Doctor and I’ve nailed time-travel, or this is a pretty good marriage.
  3. I learned how to can!2016-08-22 22.18.10
  4. Which maybe wasn’t such a smart thing to do since it introduced a new component of humidity in my house.
  5. August was also hot, but I didn’t care because we went on an Alaskan cruise.  Do you know that it doesn’t go much above 80 on the interior passage of Alaska?  Me neither.  Did you also know that it’s a temperate rainforest?  Me neither.  And what are rainforests good for?  Sing with me, kids: H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y!!!
  6. It was an amazing experience that I am truly grateful for; we saved up for this trip for eighteen months but it still boggles my mind just how expensive it was.  It also taught me a lesson about cruises (this was my third one): limit excursions to ONE per day.  Not because I was overstimulated or anything like that, it was just so redundant.  We went from Juneau to Skagway to Icy Strait Point to Ketchikan, and every single excursion in every single place took great pains to educate us on bears and skunk cabbage.  Go ahead, ask me about bears and skunk cabbage.  I dare you.
  7. I did get to see a glacier.  Yup!

    That’s Hubbard Glacier, and when I saw how close the ship got and how incredibly cold the surrounding air was, I figured I’d finally found a place to live in the summer. But alas, regulations and rules and all….

  8. My knitting has been in drips and drabs.  I made a shawl to bring with me on the trip but didn’t use it much.  I’ve started two other shawls (because why not) and a couple of baby bibs, because many people I know are into the whole procreating thing.  It’s so easy to knit baby stuff, I keep forgetting.
  9. I started orientation on my new job, where I am alternately exhilarated at the thought of teaching college and appalled at the thought of teaching college.  Classes start September 7th, so if you don’t hear from me after that…..No, that’s not a fair thing to post because after all, I’m pretty bad at posting on a regular basis.  So if you see a post after September 7th and I don’t mention my job, maybe just figure it’s best not to talk about it.
  10. Like that’s ever stopped me before.
bean

I do that too, but for all the wrong reasons.

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Happy Fourth Birthday! No, Wait…

Happy Birthday the Fourth?

May the Fourth be Birthday?

Go Fourth and Birthday?

Happy Birthday America on the Fourth of July!  Yeah, that’s it!  And what are we celebrating on this day, besides barbecues, beers, and parades?  Prices slashed on mattresses!  Woo hoo!

 

I kid.  I am always fascinated by our War of Independence because it just seems ridiculous to me that we actually won with all the odds stacked against us.  How did a group of volunteers actually defeat the strongest military presence of that time?  How did we get a group of men to hammer out an idea that was the basis for an entire system of democracy?  How did we not get engaged in war many times over by other countries that wanted to rule over us?  How in the world does it still work?

 

Of course, people will argue that it doesn’t work.  I have been known to say that our political structure is damaged beyond repair, that we should abolish the two-party system and go back to the two people with the most votes become President and Vice-President, that there should be no such thing as super delegates or a party convention.  There should be term limits, caps on spending for political campaigns, a shorter season, etc.  But the United States of America as a government has carried on for two hundred and forty years, and we have a nation we can be proud of.

 

We also have a nation that has much room for improvement in terms of caring for the elderly and the indigent, educating everyone equally and not based on zip code or bank balance, maintaining our roads and bridges and parks and monuments without a political agenda snuck in at the last moment, and perhaps realizing that we are all on the same side.  We don’t need any sort of us-vs.-them attitude in anything we set out to achieve together as a nation, as we learned during the Civil War that we’re better together than apart.  We need patience, clear communication, and a resistance to personal gain at the expense of someone else.  I still believe in us.

 

So Happy Birthday, America!  You look pretty good for your age, and I like those colors on you.

2016-05-22 12.28.40

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Drip….Drip….Drip….

They say it’s the first day of summer.

 

I say I’ll be back outside in October.

 

popcorn

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Why Are We Still Having This Conversation?

Reasoned discussions have not worked.  Yelling and crying have not worked.  Mass murders have not worked.  Petitions and outrage and marches and rallies and protests have not worked.  What will it take for our elected members of Congress to stop pandering to the money of the National Rifle Association and do what is in the best interest of ALL citizens instead of their bank accounts?

 

You have been elected to represent the voice of the people.  You have not been elected to revel in generous perks, a bonanza of health benefits, and a lifetime pension, nor to manipulate laws to your personal benefit resulting in voting yourself raises and changing election districts to ensure your continued enrollment in this exclusive club.  Yours is supposed to be a position of service, of carrying out the wishes of the people you represent, and to ensure the freedom of all of America’s people.  All. Of. Them.  Not just the ones who look and think and sound like you, but the ones who are very different from you and with whom you may not agree but who you are obligated to represent just the same.  That’s the oath you took.

 

Do you know what an oath is?  It’s a promise.  The same kind of promise the members of our military take when they swear to defend the United States and all its enemies, even though you have decided they’re not entitled to benefits anywhere near as generous as yours.  The same kind of promise a new citizen swears, even though they can be arrested for looking out of place in certain of these United States while you can drunkenly drive, kill someone, and still be assured of your job, position, and perks.

 

You are lawmakers.  Make the laws fair and equal.  Allowing one particular group that has enough cash to see you firmly tethered to their side through eternity unfettered access to the law-making procedure is beyond unconscionable, it is disgusting and contemptuous.  STOP ALLOWING THE SALE OF WEAPONS THAT CAN KILL 45 UNARMED INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN 60 SECONDS.

 

Was that so hard?

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Breathe, and Breathe Again

It’s a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon, about 2:00 EDT.  I actually sat down at my desk at 11:45 and fell down several rabbit holes of bill paying, checkbook wrangling, list making, and calendar updating, while simultaneously answering emails and phone calls.  And I’m not even a busy person!  I actually sat down to draw, but now I’m writing so instead I’ll show you the thing I drew last week:

2016-05-27 15.28.25

I have no idea what those lines are all around it, because they’re not on the photo I’m looking at!  Ah, well…..they say imperfection is its own kind of perfection.

And I’ve also completed the shawl that I’m just tickled with, and she’s here right now being America’s next top shawl:

It’s interesting to me how much weather plays a factor in my mood.  I like rainy days, I like the cool weather, I hate humidity (which I’m sure comes as a shock to you, gentle reader, as I’ve certainly never mentioned it before) and glaring sun, but give me a sunny day with the gentlest of breezes and I feel like SuperWoman.  I actually pulled some weeds and threw down some mulch!  Never mind that I’ll need a few hours to recuperate from that, it feels darn good.

I remember how much my mother enjoyed sitting outside, looking at her very small plot of garden and dreaming of what she could accomplish with more time and more energy.  She had some lovely roses that didn’t resemble any kind of prize-winner being as tall and spindly as they were, but the aroma was beyond heavenly and when she brought one into the house to sit in a tiny glass vase, she carried it like the precious treasure it was.  When she died I planted a rose bush, and I was devastated when it, too, died.  What has lived on, however, is a cutting from her philodendron plant (which she bought about 30 years ago) which is now four transplanted pots and three cuttings in water.  That’s kind of how I stay connected to her.  That, and watching old movies.

I think I hear a cup of tea calling my name…..

 

steve sentence

Steve is my spirit animal.

 

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Sproing!

Spring has sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where the birdies is?

My dad used to say this whenever the word “spring” came up.  He was so clever, always something amusing to say, always a bon mot for the time.  I’ve been waiting for Spring to spring, as it were, and now it has sproinged intensively.

My family indulged me on Mother’s Day with one of my favorite things to do: take a drive somewhere pretty and stop at a pub-ish place to eat.  We saw these lovely blossoms on a tree right outside the place we chose in a very picturesque part of my Garden State.

 

2016-05-08 15.42.05

Which was right next to this little beauty of a shot.  I mean, really.  That was probably built just for gorgeous days like this one for people to grab a photo with their phones, right?  All those years ago somebody planned for pictures like this.  Even the sky cooperated.

 

2016-05-19 11.53.39

My local car wash will not be outdone by all the upscale places in town.  They’re going to embrace Spring, too, and plant some beautiful pansies.  I LOVE the color of these.  Every time I think about planting pansies I realize it’s too late because it will become instantly hot and humid and I missed that small window of time.

 

And that, my friends, is why I am best friends with perennials.  I don’t have to do a blessed thing and look what comes up all by itself every year without any prompting or coaxing from me, right outside my front door:

2016-05-24 13.42.29

Yellow iris, from my grandmother’s garden.  It started with three plants, and I’ve given away quite a few.  But these adorable little show-offs just clamber up every year saying “hi! hi! Look at me!  Look!  Aren’t I pretty?  hi!”

 

Spring is also the traditional time for teacher positions to be advertised in the paper in feverish numbers, and for once I am not looking at it.  I had, after all, decided that it was over and finished and there was no use beating that dead horse.  Until, out of the blue, the local community college came a-knocking and what do you know, I’ll be teaching in September in a whole new ball game.  (Yeah, me and metaphors, not so much.)  At the very least, I’ll have new things to write about.

So enjoy your Spring, eat some rhubarb, sniff some freshly-mown grass, and switch to your favorite warm-weather beverage.  But if you, like me, choose a gin and tonic, don’t have more than two.  Trust me on this.

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10 Random Things on Tuesday

  1.  One day after discussing with my neighbor that I don’t get seasonal allergies, that I’m susceptible to allergy attacks all year, I get a whopper of one.  I woke up sneezing at 5:45 a.m.  Who does that?  How does that even happen?  How do you go from being sound asleep in a delicious cycle and then suddenly “achoo!”-ing loud enough to scare the birds?  And what’s with the sneezing straight for 10 minutes?  I thought I was going to have a heart attack mid-sneeze.  Can that even happen?
  2. I’m so glad the New York primaries are today.  That means tomorrow there won’t be the stupid commercials.
  3. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t like chicken.
  4. One of the reasons why I like my home so much is that I feel utterly at home.  That may seem like an obvious statement, but there have been places in my life that made me positively ITCH to get going somewhere else and feel settled.  This has now become that place, and I’m okay with spending time just enjoying my surroundings.  Of course, I do that by not looking too closely at the dog hair that wants sweeping up or the gentle layer of dust on the mantle.
  5. There’s an interesting state of affairs in the name of supporting local businesses.  There are neighborhood groups on Facebook (and some spelling program just capitalized that for me; why, I don’t know, since the actual masthead is lowercase.) and lots of requests for recommended plumbers, electricians, landscapers, nannies, places to eat, caterers, car sales, etc.  Helpful folks chime in with their favorites, and everyone gets a fuzzy glow from being good neighbors.  So tell me why NONE of them call you back?  “Hello, Neighborhood Business Owner?  Yes, I’d like to give you money.  Can you call me and tell me when you can perform your tasks so I may give you said money?  Thanks.  Here’s every number in the universe you’ll need to reach me.”  Radio silence for two weeks.  “Hello, Neighborhood Business Owner?  Yes, I called two weeks ago trying to give you some of my money.  In the meantime, my pet llama has disappeared down the pit that is my backyard waiting for someone to fill in the hole, preferably after extracting said llama.  Could you call me, please?  My numbers again are…”  Another week goes by.  Hopping onto Facebook I see the group praising the Neighborhood Business Owners again, and one small voice (not mine, yet) saying “they won’t return my calls.”  Angry friends and neighbors of said Neighborhood Business Owners rush to their defense, claiming they are “great people, coaching local softball, dynamite work, wouldn’t go anywhere else, why are you publicly disparaging him and attempting to ruin his business?”  It’s a conundrum.
  6. I just sneezed six times between paragraph five and six.  It’s a SIGN.
  7. I’m knitting a shawl that I want to use on vacation.  It’s Dream In Color Starry which means it has little silvery bits of shiny in it and I am completely amused, except the name of the color is “starless sky” which would indicate to me that it shouldn’t have the starry bits in it, am I right?  Or is it another conundrum and I have unwittingly stumbled across an actual theme in my life?
  8. I’ll soon be going to a convention with my Hubby which involves us going to a hotel.  We will be invited to a breakfast buffet at 8:30; he departs for a 9:15 meeting, and I go upstairs to change for an 11:00 brunch; after that, I change into casual clothes for afternoon shopping or walking about, leaving enough time to change clothes again for a formal banquet in the evening; after the formal part, folks change into casual clothes to roam the corridors and visit everyone else’s room for a drink as if we were back in college crashing dorm parties.  It is the silliest thing ever, but I like the people I get to see so I put up with it.  Plus two days with no home responsibilities so I won’t hear the dust calling my name.
  9. I saw my former students in a play at the local high school and while I had some anxiety ahead of time, it turned out to be a wonderfully therapeutic night.  All my kids were so happy to see me and I got many many hugs and enthusiastic “you were the best teacher ever!” and I may have cried.  Okay, I definitely cried.  My heart felt like the Grinch’s when it burst out of its cartoon x-ray frame.
  10. Sometimes when I want to blog I think about what would interest people, and then I chuckle to myself because what is interesting about a suburban middle-aged former music teacher who likes to knit?  Then I think about blogging my artwork and I chuckle again, mostly because I call it “art” when it’s really more like illustration, and people come to blogs for the reading.  I think my sarcasm bone must be getting brittle, because I haven’t been sarcastic in a while and you really can’t force sarcasm. I don’t talk about food that much because I don’t cook or bake that much lately (and really, you can get that content just about anywhere else) and I don’t eat out enough to be a picture-snapping foodie (again, find that just about anywhere on instagram).  Then I realize that this blog is for me and the outpourings of my mind, and just like my house, I feel at home here.  When I don’t write for a while, it’s just like a room in my house that I look forward to sitting in for a while and it’s where I feel comfortable just being me.  If you’re a reader of this blog, thanks for coming by.  I’d offer you some cookies but I’m afraid I’m pretty selfish about sharing them because cookies.  I will offer you tea, though, and if the conversation really gets going, the sarcasm may follow.  Or not.

I leave you with this thought-provoking idea from my spirit animal, the Dowager:

knitting-not-exercise

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Ooo, Look! Pictures! Words, Not So Much.

So this has been my visual overload for the month.  I often find early Spring a difficult time and I never know why, unless it really is sensory overload.

I enjoyed Easter although it is really crazy having it the week after St. Patrick’s Day; and let’s not even with the weather.

 

In other news, I’m drawing again.

 

So if you came here for some good sarcasm or a bracing cuppa, then I owe you a mea culpa. (Or would that be “mea cuppa?”  Eh?  EH?)  I just don’t seem to have it in me right now.

 

In the meantime….

 

KNITTING TIME

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