Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What's Up Wednesday, July 2020 Edition

We have officially passed the halfway point of this horrible, terrible, no good, very bad year. I wish I could say that I believe that this means that we are closer to getting things back to normal, but, truth be told; I'm afraid that's still a really long way off. One thing that I can view as somewhat normal, however, is this link up with Sheaffer and Shay, and, thank goodness for that; in a world that's gone all topsy-turvy, it's good to have even this small comfort.

What We're Eating

Man, I'd love to say that this was the month that I finally pulled my shit together and started taking my wifely cooking duties seriously, but, alas, I cannot. Doesn't mean I haven't been eating, though, actually; I've had a few really good salads from local businesses, including one from the refrigerated deli section at the Hellmouth, which, surprises me just as much as it surprises you. It was a combination of tart green apple, turkey, raisins, walnuts and blue cheese on a bed of lettuce, drizzled with creamy sweet onion vinaigrette.

The chef salad I had from an actual deli, deli was really good as well, too. It came with a slice of fresh baked bread that was so good, I bought an entire loaf from the Day-Old section of the restaurant.

Speaking of salads; I made a pretty decent semi-Mediterranean salad for dinner one night, so, my wifely cooking duties weren't completely abandoned this month (Hugh just side-eyed that statement, I'm sure).

But, we have eaten out a lot, with Mexican featuring heavily in the rotation. You can't go wrong with a good Chimichanga, though, so no complaints here. Plus, we are doing our part to keep a local, family-owned restaurant in business, and that's really important right now.

What I'm Reminiscing About

For the first time in 99 years, my hometown was without the annual Stampede celebration. Obviously, I haven't been attending the event for 99 years, but, I can say that, in my almost 52 years on this planet, I have missed the celebration only a handful of times, and that includes when I was a kid and we traveled with a competitive swim team and had "away meets" that conflicted. My own kids have missed Stampede only twice, and, this year, they are feeling the loss every bit as much as I am. 

No parade. No rodeo. No boot scoot boogie to a country western band. No sketchy carnival rides. No funnel cakes, twisty taters, jumbo corn dogs, or giant bags of kettle corn. No visiting with old classmates or relatives from afar. No Smokin' Charlie...ok, maybe I won't miss Smokin' sad.  I'm crossing my fingers here when I say; it's ok, there'll always be next year.

Smokin' Charlie, the thing that children's nightmares are made of...

I'm also reminiscing about my days as both a lifeguard and the Aquatics Manager at the pool back in Mayberry. Some of my best days were spent at that pool, and, last week, they tore it down to make way for a new event center.

One of my former staff tagged me and the rest of our crew in a post on Facebook and we have had the best time commenting and replying to comments about the pool; about our days there, the ghost that lived there (true story), all of our wild and crazy schemes, and the people who came and went. 

I learned to swim there. I taught Queen B to swim there. Some of my best childhood memories involve being on the swim team that bore the name of the pool. It was there that I had my first-and only-run in with the police (long story involving a group of us lifeguards taking a late-night swim that wasn't exactly approved by our boss), and, it was there that I learned how to be a manager of people, and not just a "boss".

I loved that pool and I was so sad to see it go. Sigh. Moving on...
What I'm Loving

Recently, Queen B was approached by a photographer who was interested in photographing her for use in her portfolio. The pictures turned out great and, now, I kinda have a little talent envy.

I'm also loving the fact that I was finally able to grow a tomato. Not just any tomato, but a Big Boy. It's the first time that I've had one grow and ripen without getting blossom rot, and, I managed it by amending the soil in the planter with dry milk. That's right; dry milk. Apparently, blossom rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil, and, a little sprinkling of Carnation fixed that problem right up. Who would have thought?

Also high on the list of lovable things are the lilies that have been blooming in my flowerbeds. I cut a bunch of them for the porch and the fragrance is so intoxicating, I wish you could smell it just by looking at these pictures.

What We've Been Up To

Let's see...ran my first ever golf tournament. Killed it!

Provided moral support while Erin found the perfect wedding dress!

Finally busted out the giant pool unicorn that I got for Mother's Day!

Became partially proficient on our new paddle boards!

What I'm Working On

I'm working on advocating for myself and my needs. This isn't something that I am very good at. I rock at advocating for my kids, my friends, my staff, clients at work, strangers on the street...everyone but myself. That needs to change, and, only I can see to it that it does.

What I'm Dreading

The Man-Cub returns to Hawaii on the 10th of August. His school has decided to go back to in-person instruction, which, is a much better fit for the Cub. But, that doesn't mean that I feel 100% great about it. It's hard enough sending him thousands of miles away in a normal year, throwing in a pandemic just ups the anxiety. Considerably.

What I'm Excited About

Hmmm..I honestly have a hard time drumming up a feeling of excitement about much of anything these days. I keep trying. I want to be excited for another successful year at school for the Cub. I want to be excited that Queen B is considering a move to a new place. I would love to be excited about the fall, and Halloween, and Christmas, and all of the things that I can usually muster up some excitement for at this point in the waning days of the summer, but...not there just yet.

I'll keep trying.

What I'm Watching

I've seen some pretty good stuff on Netflix, recently.

Zac Efron's Down to Earth was really interesting and informative.

Will Ferrell's Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga was awesome. The story was completely cute, well acted, and, the music was really good. If you are looking for a breezy, light, uplifting show to help beat the political/pandemic/chickenlittleskyisfalling doldrums, this is a safe bet.

I also subscribed to Apple TV just long enough to watch Chris Evans in Defending Jacob. It's based on a book by William Landay that I read some time ago, and, it was really well done. Plus, you can't go wrong with Captain America, even when he isn't being Captain America.

What I'm Reading

Oh my goodness, y'all! I actually read a book this month! For pleasure! I finished it in two days and I enjoyed every page! This is such a monumental accomplishment for me, I can't even begin to explain it. For a proud bookworm, I have been seriously lacking in the reading for pleasure realm, and, I'm really making an effort to change that. Thank goodness for Elin Hildebrand and her annual summer offering.

Plenty of bloggers have reviewed 28 Summers, and, far better than I ever could, so please feel free to Google that shit.. suffice it to say; I loved it, and, highly, highly recommend it.

What I'm Listening To

This song by Avenue Beat pretty much sums it up.

What I'm Wearing

I have nothing new to report on this front. I continue to choose the most comfortable things that I have in my wardrobe on the daily. I am paralyzed by the number of decisions I have to make on a daily basis right now, and, what to wear falls to the very bottom of the priority list. 

What We're Doing This Weekend

I am making a quick trip down to Mayberry. I usually go this time of year (see above: Stampede) and have been yearning for a taste of home. While we are there, I am also going to get to see Phoebe and Reese! Seeing them will almost make up for not getting a Girl's Weekend this summer. Almost. 

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

I am looking forward to not having to do five grant reports, two grant applications, and a golf tournament. July at New Job sucked even more than February through June at New Job sucked, and, that's saying a lot.

What Else Is New

It's not new, but, it pretty much sums it up life lately.

 Anyone else? 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Embracing My Happy Place

There isn't a lot that calms me these days. I'm becoming accustomed to a constantly racing heart, the buzz of anxiety in my ears, and shortness of breath that comes essentially from forgetting to breathe. Who does that?

I know that I need to figure out how to control these physical manifestations of my anxiety, but, the things that would typically work for me are things that I just don't have the energy to pursue right now.

One thing that does work, at least a little bit, is spending time on the porch. Yesterday, I noticed that it had been neglected long enough for a layer of dirt to accumulate on every surface, so, I mustered up the energy to hose it down. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done, and that made me feel just the slightest bit less out of sorts.

I preach a lot about self-care and resiliency at work. I make it a point to follow up with the staff to make sure that they are practicing what I preach. I don't do that for myself, and that needs to change.

Yesterday, I started with the porch.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

If I Had a Single Flower For Every Time I Think About You, I Could Walk Forever In My Garden

Several summers before he passed away, my Dad developed an unexpected love for lilies. He planted several Daylilies in the backyard, and, with the time allowed to him in his retirement; spent lazy summer mornings watching them grow and bloom.

I can still see him sitting under the umbrella in his favorite patio chair, reading the newspaper, a cup of coffee steaming away on the table beside him while butterflies and honey bees buzzed and flitted about his precious lilies.

I hope the lilies in heaven are amazing.

Here on Earth, my own lilies are in full bloom. Their color is vibrant, their smell, intoxicating.

This year, Hugh and I have been slightly less vigilant about yard work, which, translates into a lot less weed-pulling than in past years. While this neglect has allowed the bindweed (my arch nemesis) to fully invade, it has also created an opportunity for another weed to flourish; a weed that I would have allowed to take over the flowerbed years ago, if I had been paying attention to what it actually was.

It's Queen Anne's Lace. A weed, herb, or flower, depending on who you ask. I consider it a flower, after all; it featured prominently in my wedding bouquet twenty-some years ago.

And, now that I know that that weird, fuzzy greenery actually produces those delicate, lacy white blossoms, I'm going to give it a wide berth and, next year; I'll work on controlling the bindweed while the Queen Anne's lace establishes itself more dominantly, which, while being beautiful, may also have the effect of choking out the bindweed. Win-win.

I just wish it hadn't taken twenty-one years and a pandemic to make this discovery.

Anyhoodle, the lace looks amazing mixed in with the lilies, and, if I had to guess, I would say that Dad also had a hand in this, somehow.

He is probably also responsible for the other flowers that have started to flourish in that flowerbed despite the neglect that they have suffered...

...they're daisies, and he would totally make a joke about pushing them up for me. And then he would throw his head back and laugh and laugh.

Best mental image, ever.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sometimes, Normality Comes in a Tiny Package

Normally, at this time of the year, I would be heading to Mayberry to spend Stampede with Mom. Right now, I would be packing my best jeans and a pair of cowboy boots into my suitcase, next to a good book and a bottle or two of good wine. In the morning, that suitcase would be stowed in the back of the Tahoe, along with a cooler full of local sweet corn, ready to feed a crowd. One, if not both, of my offspring would be along for another epic road trip, complete with country music on the radio, car snacks, and a requisite pitstop at the sunflower field for an Instagram-worthy selfie. When we arrived at Mom's, we would be greeted by an ever-changing, yet ever-present group of friends and family, gathered together for a fun-filled weekend of parades, rodeos, dances, midnight breakfasts, and laughter, So. Much. Laughter.

This year, there will be no epic road trip. No parades. No dances. No gathering of friends and family. No normal.

And, that sucks.

But, Covid has stolen a lot more from a lot of people, and, if "normal" is the only thing it takes from me, I'll consider myself blessed.

Besides, there are some things that Covid hasn't affected, including the annual migration of some of my favorite winged creatures...

...they are a tiny reminder that life goes on, no matter the storm that rages around us. A tiny but beautiful reminder. And I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Turns Out, a Police Raid Provides An Excellent Incentive to Clean the House

Ok, it wasn't a raid, exactly. This morning, when Hugh left the house, he accidentally left the back door unlatched, and, at some point, Boomer must have nudged it open, setting off the alarm. Hugh was on a massage table, I was in a Board meeting, and, so, when neither of us answered the call from the alarm company, the local police department was notified. Two of Petticoat Junction's finest made entry into the house to clear it, finishing just as I was pulling into the driveway after having finally listened to my messages.

All was well, except for the fact that the men in blue got to see my house in all its' messy glory. Unmade beds. Dirty dishes in the sink. Pet hair on every conceivable surface. Dust thick enough to write messages in. It was not my finest moment.

I had a three hour Zoom meeting scheduled, so I decided to stay home, rather than making the ten mile drive back to Hooterville. I was able to dust and vacuum during ten-minute breaks in the meeting, and, while it's a little too late to impress the local constabulary, it's also better late than never. Plus, cops see much, much worse than my untidy household, so, I'm showing myself some grace on that topic.

I'm also showing Hugh some grace; if he'd  managed to get the back door closed, the house would still be a hot mess. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Well, Now I Can Say I've Run a Successful Golf Tournament

I have to confess, running a successful golf tournament hasn't exactly been on my Bucket List, you know, ever, but, if it had been, I could have definitely checked it off after yesterday's event.

I started the day off bright and early, with Queen B and The Lesbians at my side (can I just say; my daughter and my friends are my lifeline right now? Because they are). We met three of my Board Members at the golf course, where, in the space of just under an hour, we managed to check in 108 golfers, handing swag bags to each of them and directing them to their assigned carts. Then, after a round of speeches (not my favorite thing to do, but, considering the majority of my other job duties, also not my most unfavorite); we sent them off for a shotgun start from one of  eighteen holes on a completely gorgeous course.

Queen B, The Lesbians, and I then spent the following six hours racing around the course, restocking water coolers, handing out box lunches, and photographing each of the 27 teams who had paid good money to swing a metal club at a tiny ball.  Not exactly my cup of tea, but, it raised over $30,000 for our nonprofit, so, no judgement, here.

The day wasn't without it's hiccups, of course, a couple of which I will probably suffer some fallout come tomorrow, but, I'm not going to think about that today.

Today, I'm going to be grateful for my friends and family, thankful that the tournament is in the rear-view, and, focused on the amazing Mediterranean-inspired salad that I made for dinner.

I used fresh tomatoes, my own basil, pearl couscous, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and perlini mozzarella. In order for it to be truly Mediterranean, I should have used feta in place of the mozzarella and cucumbers alongside the tomato, but, mozzarella was what I had on hand and, I can't stand cucumber, so, there's that.

Totally gratuitous photo of my awesome basil plant...because it's my blog and I do what I want.

I considered cracking open a bottle of my good Pinot Grigio to accompany the salad, but, recently it has occurred to me that I am using wine as less of a pleasure and more of a coping mechanism, so I've decided to cut back on my consumption and will save the vino for the next fun occasion that I host.

For the record, I totally blame the Covid for this state of affairs. Or, my job. It's a toss-up, actually.