Saturday, July 14, 2018

This Garden Update Brought To You By the F-Word

Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuuuuck.

Despite my determination to remain zen and relaxed in regard to the garden this year, I recently found myself experiencing fury and rage. Fury! Rage!

What could drive such emotion, you ask?

The return of my arch gardening nemesis, of course.

Squash Bugs.


I discovered a handful of adults doing the nasty on my yellow zucchini this week, and, it sent me into a tailspin, for sure. I was immediately reminded of several years ago, when the rat bastards decimated my entire pumpkin, butternut squash, and zucchini harvest while I was on vacation at the happiest place on earth (side note: Disney, I miss you! Call me!), enjoying my family with not an inkling of the destruction happening in my own backyard.

Needless to say, I am not playing nice this go-around; those assholes will DIE.

Since I am determined to raise my vegetables in the most organic way possible, my assault on the fuckers has consisted of spraying the plant with a healthy dose of Neem oil while routinely conducting ninja-style snatch-and-squish attacks wherein I grab every adult I can find and crush them between my fingers, grinding them into a mealy pulp (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGERY).

So far, my method seems to be working; I haven't seen a single egg, nymph, or adult in the past 48 hours. I am optimistic but guarded, which means zen may be off the table for now. Or, maybe not. The garden does still bring me peace, well, as much peace as a bug-squisher can find, anyway.

 The garden two weeks ago

The garden yesterday

My weapon of choice in the battle of the squash bugs

Birdbath...because no one likes a dirty bird

"Volunteer" sunflowers growing in, and around, my granddad's old wheelbarrow

Scene of the crime...yellow zucchini

Birdhouses and rusty vintage items are garden favorites

 Barefoot gardening; it doesn't get much more zen

The fruits (vegetables) of my labors

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Trashformation Thursday

When Hugh started our gazebo make-over earlier this summer, we knew that we still wanted to use the space for a fire pit. Unfortunately, the existing fire pit was in sad, sad shape thanks to many years of long summer days and cold winter months; it was literally falling apart...

...but, while I was all Team Get a New Fire Pit, Hugh was of a different mind; he wanted to rebuild the original. Thus began a very long process that, ultimately, ended up in a truly awesome, functional, and unique, focal point for the gazebo.

But, like I said; the process was long.

After Hugh stripped the crumbling ceramic tiles from the top of the unit, he had Mama Jill's husband weld a new metal ring for around the top of the pit. Then, he painted it a matte black.

While we waited for the paint to cure, I picked up several bags of inexpensive glass marbles at the Hellmouth.

We arranged the marbles inside the interior of the metal ring...

and Hugh mixed up a batch (or, three...there were issues. I don't want to talk about it) of epoxy...

...which he then poured over the marbles.

Once the epoxy set for a bit, he glassed over it with a blowtorch, which eliminated any existing air bubbles and set the surface, after which we waited for the epoxy to cure.

Hugh also installed a propane system into the fire pit, so, it no longer burns wood, but, is available to use at the push of a button (Mama likee). He added lava rock and some pretty glass crystals, and, it became both functional and lovely.

 The final product is a fire pit that we can use with pride. And, it looks great under the new gazebo.

We've enjoyed several evenings under the shade of the gazebo, with drinks in hand, but, Hugh especially likes night time lounging.

He deserves the relaxation after all that work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

This, I Bee-lieve

This is the mantra I choose to live by; it's apropos considering my photography hobby. 

Life presents challenges, but, it also presents opportunities, and, you have to embrace the good even when you are battling through the bad. So, what's been good around here, lately?


We may have had to really focus in order to see it, but, it's there.

For example, while on one of our daily walks, my co-workers and I discovered the coolest thing: an actual, honest-to-goodness, all-natural bee hive. In a tree!

It's the first natural hive that any of us had ever seen (lots and lots of beekeepers in our community, so, plenty of opportunities to see man-made hives), and, we were fascinated enough by it to make it a frequent stop on our strolls.

The tree, which, by the way, I will forever presume to be both hollow and containing Winnie-the Pooh in full-on honey-eating mode...

...shares a yard with our favorite fairy garden. Yesterday, we finally got the opportunity to meet the husband of the woman who has built that garden, and, we expressed our appreciation of both the garden and the honey tree. He said that he would pass the compliments along to his wife, who would be tickled to know how much we appreciate her efforts.

On the way back to the office, we decided that we wanted to do more to show that appreciation, however, so, I stopped in at the local nursery on my lunch hour and picked up a little something for the fairy garden, which, we left along with a thank-you note for our "Fairy Gardener".

It felt good.

It was good.

Life is good. You just have to bee-lieve.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

I Wasn't Kidding When I Said It Doesn't Get Easier

When I started this blog, many, many years ago, it was for the dual purposes of keeping my parents abreast of the antics of their grandchildren and for documenting the childhood of those grandchildren, so that, in the event that they ever needed a reminder (or, two), they would have something to look to for answers.

Over the years, I have walked the fine line of knowing what to share and what to set by the wayside, of judging what my children would want to look back on, and, what might be best left to fade into the ether of lost memories. As you may imagine, this has not always been an easy task.

As the children have grown into adults, I've been even more careful to share the events pertaining to them in a manner that is, I hope, respectful of their personal boundaries; their stories are their own and they deserve to tell them when, if, and how they wish to tell them. Because of that, I have been hesitant to share something that has happened recently. I've struggled with myself over it; struggled with my need to process it in the way that comes most naturally to me while respecting my obligation to protect the privacy and emotional well-being of my child.

In the end, my decision to write this comes down to feeling-strongly-that there is going to come a time when these words will bring comfort and clarity, and, that is going to be important. So...

Early on the morning of July 4th, my son lost a close friend to suicide.

She hadn't been in his life for long (and, certainly not for long enough), but, my son loved her. He loved her sweet personality, kind nature, soft-spoken manner, and warmth. He enjoyed spending time with her, and, now, she is gone.

I cannot, and, will not, speak to his feelings here; they are his to express if, when, and how he chooses to express them. What I need to say, what I need him to hear (when he is ready), is this:

You are not alone, Cubby; you will never be alone. I don't know why this happened, no one will ever know exactly why; it wasn't our choice and we didn't have a say in it. You didn't have a say in it. People make choices, son. Sometimes those choices are incomprehensible to us, and, sometimes we are left with the consequences of those choices; this is one of those times. How you move forward from this is your choice; please choose happiness, son. Choose to live with joy in your heart. Embrace love, and music, and nature. Laugh often. Help others. Dance in the rain, sing in the shower, tell bad jokes, and, when you're sad, cry, it's ok; real men know the value of tears. Keep your heart open, Cubby; loving again will be the greatest way to honor her memory, no matter how hard that may be to believe right now. Choose life, son, and, live it well.

If you are the praying type, please say a prayer for the Cub. Please ask for comfort for his friend's family and friends and for our community-suicide is verging on epidemic in our small town and, despite numerous outreach efforts, we are failing to put a dent in the numbers. Divine intervention would be most welcome.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

It's In the Fine Print

There are a lot of things that they don't tell you when you start out on this journey known as parenthood. They don't tell you that, from the moment they place that tiny baby in your arms, you're going to worry. Oh, you may naturally assume that you will have cause to worry here and there along the way-are they getting enough to eat? Are they ever going to sleep through the night? Oh, my god, the baby didn't make a peep last night, did she stop breathing? Will he ever stop dragging that blanket along behind him?

As they grow, you may think that you'll worry about them starting school, making friends, making good choices, and on and on, and, you will be correct; you'll spend eighteen years holding your breath and conducting fervently whispered negotiations with God about all of those things and more.

Once they reach that magical-and mystical- stage known as young adulthood, you may think you can breath a sigh of relief; your work is done! You raised them! They're ready to fly the nest, to strike out on their own! But, this is where the best-kept secret of parenting comes along to bite you in the butt, for, you see, it doesn't matter that they are fully legally capable of signing a lease, buying a car, getting a mortgage, drinking a beer, serving their country, etc., etc., etc.

You're still going to worry.

And, the worries take on a particularly sharp edge, because, at eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one, two, three, are powerless to provide comfort in the way that you excelled at when they were infants and toddlers. You can't simply slap a band-aid on a broken heart, kiss it, make it better. Whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies won't soothe the ache of loss like it it used to, and, your baby is now far too big to cradle into your lap while crooning  a lullaby, which, wouldn't help anyway, because, there is no rocking chair in the world big enough to rock away grief.

I wish there were; God, do I wish there were.

Of course, if you knew about this, if you knew that you were signing up for an entire lifetime of  allowing your heart to walk about independently of your body, unprotected and vulnerable to the harsh realities of the world, you might think twice before jumping into the fray. And, that simply would not do; the human race rather depends on parents entering into this job after all.

So, we go into it with blind faith, solving the problems we can solve, providing comfort when-and, where-it is accepted, and, praying that we get it right.

But, man, do we still worry.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I've Had So Much Radiation, It's A Wonder I'm Not Glowing

I  knocked two more health appointments off my annual "To Do" list this week, and, I have one more to go on Friday.

Yesterday, I had my teeth cleaned and my yearly set of dental x-rays done (no cavities, and, to quote my dentist "What a beautiful set of choppers!).

Today, I faced this behemoth.. boobs are at least a quarter inch smaller, thanks to the compression.

Friday, I am scheduled to have my eyes checked, which, shouldn't require x-rays, I mean, right?

Please tell me I'm right; too many more exposures and they will be able to see me from space.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ah, To Be Young and In Love

Yesterday, the Rodeo Princess and her intended arrived for a marathon engagement photo shoot, and, because they are young and energetic, they managed to squeeze in a concert and a night at the bar with Queen B and some friends. I managed to pull my hair up into a ponytail and to brush my teeth in between sessions, but, that's about the extent of my energy.

Youth is most definitely wasted on the young.

Kidding. Mostly.

Anyhoodle, we were blessed with perfect weather yesterday evening and again this morning, which, contributed mightily to the awesomeness of the photos that I was able to capture.

The locations we used included both my local park and a ranch owned by friends of the Princess's fiance. The kids had brought along their horses, which made for a very personalized shoot, which is always the goal, as far as I'm concerned.

I think we are all looking forward to the wedding even more than we were before, and, God willing and the creek don't rise; I'll be ready to do justice to their wedding photos. We definitely got in some quality practice this weekend.