Monday, April 30, 2007

American Idyll

Recently, I read Jeannette Walls' "The Glass Castle." One of these days, I have to review it for Lists of Books, but until then, let me just say it reminded me how lucky I was. I was eighteen months old when my parents moved from Edwards AFB to Hudson, so I have no memories of my birthplace. What I do have is a lot of very happy memories of my childhood. The house my parents bought was a ranch built in 1957, on about two and a half acres of land, with only one neighbor.

My brothers and I had room to run, a dog to run around with, books to read, each other to play with, loving parents and a wonderful extended family which got together monthly to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Granted, junior high and high school were unutterably miserable for me, but I had an idyllic childhood. I remember things like the paths Dad used the lawnmower to cut for us through the meadows, making a life-size red-winged blackbird nest for a school project, hours and hours of playing with my brothers and a zillion stuffed animals, each of which had a name, a personality and a storyline.

Every year, there were two indicators that Christmas was coming. The first was the mouse on the clocktower, a simple teardrop of grey fabric with ears, whiskers and a plaid vest. A few years ago, people with no sense of history decided the mouse was too shabby for Hudson's precious image, and he was eviscerated, and a small portion of his fabric used to make the nose of a nauseating cartoon-like mouse. The second sign of Christmas approaching was the display at the Terex plant. Nine earth-movers would be lined up in front of a huge dump truck along the front of the plant property. The dump truck held a large Santa figure, and the earth-movers were painted to look from the side like reindeer, with the one at the front of the line having a red blinking light on its bucket to show it was Rudolph. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the display, and I think Terex stopped doing it well before the plant closed in the '80s. I don't have any pictures of the old mouse, either, and I'd poke my eye out with a sharp stick rather than take a picture of the new one.

Another icon of my youth is being disassembled even now. In 1978, the old oatmeal mills were revamped into a hotel and shopping center called Quaker Square. All but three of the shops and two restaurants are gone now, replaced with offices and a conference center. What is now the conference center used to be an Italian restaurant called the REA (Railway Express Association, I think), where I had my first taste of freshly made Italian salad dressing loaded with herbs and olive oil. Upstairs from the restaurant, for a small fee, you could visit a huge room filled with model trains, all running through the room in landscapes containing every accessory a train fanatic could ask for.


When the restaurant folded and the building was "re-purposed," the model trains were put into storage. Now, the owner of Quaker Square has decided to sell them all off. What used to be the little newsstand is being renovated and stuffed with trains, tracks, houses, stations, absolutely everything, and will open sometime in the next month. Every morning and evening, I walk past the shop, seeing a bit of my childhood on shelves with price tags on it.

Growing old is better than the alternative, but I wish the reminders weren't quite so painful.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Various sorts of fun

Yesterday, I went to the airport to pick up Pantsless & BaggieWoman. When we got back to their house, Mom & I dropped Dad off for a nap, and headed out to Gabriel Brothers. They were having a sidewalk sale, so we loaded up on $1 and $2 t-shirts and such, then stashed the bags in the car and had dinner at Mariachi Coco. After dinner, we went back to Gabe's and hit the inside of the store. Among other things, Mom found a drop-dead gorgeous shrug in aqua & lavender silk, and I splurged on a sexy nightie, some more casual sleepwear, five pairs of shorts, seven pairs of pants, several pretty tops and more. Between us, we spent about $300, and oddly for us, only bought one present each.

Two notable events happened at Gabes. First, I looked at one nightie that would have fit last year, but now was much too large for me. Second, a not unattractive man started chatting me up in Housewares. *grin* Good for the ego, that.

After we'd ravaged Gabes, Mom loaded our bags into the car, and I stopped briefly at Big Lots for a plant stand, since the one I have my second-biggest geranium in lost a wheel and is propped up against two other plants. I really want to go back there, as they have a wicker-look resin sofa for only $80, but there was no way to fit it into the Passat. On the way home, Mom said to me how much fun she always has shopping with Aunt Turkey and with me. I agreed, and thought to myself how amazing it is that we got out of the period of estrangement we had twelve years ago, and how much stronger our relationship has gotten since.

This morning, I got out early and planted my new lilac trees & new viburnum. I also put down eighty pounds of topsoil in the new flowerbed, and dumped two plantersful of played-out potting soil into the flowerbed by the driveway. I still need to buy one more trellis so I can get my last clematis in, take pictures of the white grape hyacinths before they disappear, and start buying mulch.

Right now, I have grass stains on my ass, topsoil under my fingernails, mulch in my socks and am about as blissful as I can possibly be.

Friday, April 27, 2007


On Tuesday, my order from Jung Seeds arrived. The gladiolus bulbs in blue & purple were planted in the back yard, along with the white butterfly bushes. The "Blue Light" clematis went in that flower bed, and the "Crystal Fountain" clematis was planted next to the house. I haven't decide where I'm going to put the "Josephine" clematis, but I will have it planted by Sunday, along with the "Blue Muffin" viburnum and the dwarf lilacs.

I was staggered by the size of the candy-striped phlox. For not much more than I have paid in the past, I got six giant plants. Each one of these beauties is easily the size of a dinner plate! Those went in the front circular bed. Sadly, while the pink campanula grew, many of my grape hyacinths and all three of my "Pam's Choice" foxglove failed to survive the winter. I filled in the bed along the street with white gladiolus, and being stubborn, will probably buy more grape hyacinths to plant next fall.

Since I have to pick the folks up at the airport tomorrow, I won't be planting until Sunday morning, at which time I have to take some pics of the white grape hyacinths and the bluebells.

These are some pictures from last year, and hopefully the garden will be even prettier this year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I can't WAIT until July!

When I got home from work, a big BOX from Jung Seed Co. was waiting for me. In it were six pink & white candy-striped phlox, ten white and three pink lilies-of-the-valley, three white butterfly bushes, twenty-four purple & blue gladiolus bulbs and three clematis. The potted plants have all had a good drench, and the bare-root plants are soaking. Tomorrow when I get home from work, I can go out and plant things!

ByJuly, but the glads will be up and hopefully flowering profusely, all the new plants should have taken root and some of them might bloom this year, last year's new plants will be in bloom, and the plants that were here when I bought the house should also be in bloom. I am looking forward both to enjoying the garden myself and showing it off to Sherri, Jay and Alessia when they come for JammiesFest.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Brass balls

This morning, I planted a pink butterfly bush, a white bleeding heart, six blue double columbines, six blue creeping phlox and thirty-six gladiolus bulbs. Then I spent the afternoon getting out trellises and shepherd's hooks and re-connecting garden hoses and turning the outside water on. Josh & Amy came over, and Josh cut the grass while Amy & I chatted.

This evening, I was sitting on the breezeway enjoying the look of the yard, the scent of new-mown grass and the sound of my fountain, when one of my neighbors stopped by. I've given up caring if anyone catches me in my grubbies--all the vital bits were covered, and if he doesn't understand what a Sunday working in the yard is like, pffft.

Anyway, turns out Dave, who lives two doors down, is on a mission to convince the next three houses down (including me) to sell our properties to a real estate agent for a strip mall.

Erm, no. Not only no but Hell NO. I love this house. I told him how I dreamed of this house for years before I was able to buy it, and I've put hours of sweat equity into it, plus money for renovations and flowers. Then he asked if he could have the chestnuts from the tree at the back of the yard.

I really don't handle that kind of cheekiness well. I said yes, providing he left some for the groundhog, when what I wanted to say was "Bite me, bite me, bite me, bite me Mr. Brass-Balled Man."


Not selling my house, though. Nope.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yes, Appalled Kitty is relevant. I took my parents to the airport today so they can go visit the Mathgeek-Crossword family. Since I had to stop at the post office first, I allowed extra time, and got to the folks' house about 20 minutes early. I pulled into the driveway, parked, and as I was walking toward the house, the garage door went up. I figured either Mom or Dad had been watching for me. Turns out Dad was in the garage tanking up on nicotine for the coming flight, but I didn't notice the cigarette so much as I noticed the lack of pants.
Dad was impeccably groomed from the waist up, but not wearing any trousers. He explained that Mom was on the phone when he went to ask her which pants to wear, so he just came down to the garage for a smoke.
When I went in the house, Mom was off the phone, so Dad got pants and we started loading the car. While we were doing this, Mom showed me some of the contents of her purse. Her glasses case is a small plastic baggie, her cosmetics case a slightly larger baggie.
When did my parents turn into rednecks?

Putting the MS in MSN

For those of you that have MSN instant messenger, you can now select an organization which will donate a portion of the ad revenues to the National MS Society. Go here for directions, and thank you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Alessia Brio, writer and editor, was kind enough to include my story "Sock Love" in Coming Together Volume 2. The anthology was reviewed by Mrs. Giggles, and I am miffed. I didn't get nearly the amount of vitriol other authors got, and frankly, I feel slighted. I'm pretty proud of that story, and I'd like to think it deserves more than a dismissive comment about "shagging laundry." Hmpf. If you can't say something nice, Mrs. Giggles, then at least say something creative. *grin*

On the other hand, I've added a page of reviews to the Cockamamie Soaps website, and just re-reading those as I posted them made me feel warm and fuzzy. I've sold sixteen soaps so far, and made back about half of my startup costs. Although Mom mocked me for doing market research for a home-based small business, I'm proud of being businesslike and sensible about the whole thing. If I haven't at least broken even by the end of the year, I'll let the domain name expire and call it a learning experience. Until then, I'm having fun with my silly soaps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It's liable to be a few days before Mom knows if her professor friends at Virginia Tech are all okay. In the mean time, our idiot President makes remarks about supporting the right to bear arms, and posters on at least two message boards make remarks about how the students & faculty should have "done more" or "been more agressive" to stop the shooter.

I don't even know where to begin to address this, other than to say it's just plain wrong to blame the victims. A man in his seventies barricaded the door to his classroom with his body to protect his students and died in the attack, yet somehow, all of those academics just waking up and starting their days should have reacted like trained police officers, but without the Kevlar and guns.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Take THAT, Lamisil!

My dog-sitter and friend extraordinaire, Amy, was married in October of 2005. At her wedding shower in mid-September, I wore open-toed sandals, and was horrified to notice that the nail on my little toe was gross. I tried some anti-fungal nail polish treatment, but all it did was turn bright yellow on the nail. I wonder if Mike would still have been my date for the wedding if he'd known about my disgusting toenail?

Because fall and winter don't call for open-toed shoes, I kind of put it out of my mind, sort of promising myself I'd deal with it in the spring. In April of 2006, when I had to see my doctor anyway, I mentioned the toenail problem and asked for Lamisil, since I'd seen nine thousand commercials and print ads. He told me that A. Lamisil screws up your liver function and B. It only works if you catch the fungus in the first six weeks. Oops. He also said that the only thing to do was keep everything incredibly clean, and possibly remove the toenail. Ewww.

One of our wards has a nurse's aide who does his finger- and toenails because he's diabetic. She recommended trying an OTC anti-fungal cream applied directly to the nail once or twice daily. I've been doing that since May of last year, and while it took forever and a tube and a half of cream, by golly it worked. Cost me about $10 and an extra two minutes in my morning routine, but this summer, I can wear sandals and toenail polish, and not be the object of scorn.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"My mind is a junkyard"

That quote always comforts me. Not because of its meaning, but because no matter what I lose in the piles of rusted-out ideas, broken dreams and assorted bits of thought, I always remember that quote, that it's a Robert Heinlein quote, and if I think about it for a bit, I will remember that it's from Citizen of the Galaxy.

Junkyards can be vexatious--it's easy to lose stuff in the mess. On the other hand, it is all in there somewhere, it's just a matter of finding it. Unfortunately, I have a lot of moments when I am looking for the old chair that is the rules for closing a guardianship and instead I find the broken toaster which is the list of forms needed for opening a land sale.

I can't blame the MS for my mental deficiences. I've always been sort of scatter-brained and deficient in the area of attention span (and no, I am not going to make the "Look! Something shiny!" joke here now. It's been done.) and it hasn't gotten noticeably worse. I do sometimes worry that I'm less mentally acute, but if I am rational about it, I have to admit that whatever lesions I have aren't really affecting my mental functions. Physically, I still have to deal with the neuropathy, which has gotten a bit worse since I went off the copaxone, and I still have occasional olfactory hallucinations.

That last one weirded out Nurse Tardy when I mentioned it two years ago, so I didn't mention it to the new nurse practitioner when I went in for my annual in January. I know I'm not alone--my interwebbinet friend Crimmie has them too, although her neuro issues stem from a car accident rather than MS. One of these days, I'll stop by Jooly's and see if anybody else smells things that aren't there.

Of course, that assumes that I can remember what I wanted to ask everyone after we've gone through the obligatory round of greetings and reminding folks who I am since I'm not a terribly regular visitor.

Barenaked Ladies - Get In Line

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Barenaked Ladies - Get In Line

This is my favorite BNL song (although I love most of their stuff because both the music and the lyrics are clever and good).

I was thrilled to find out that the song was written for "King of the Hill," a television show I watched for an awfully long time for a commitmentphobe.

Although I can no longer volunteer to have Steve Page's babies, I'd still enjoy a weekend of sweaty fun in the rumpled bed of a not-quite-sleazy motel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yay me!

Not only have I gotten through the last two days without killing one of several Clientzillas, I've sold ten soaps so far.

Sadly, that's the closest I come to excitement these days. Ah well. Into each life a measure of tedium must fall, I guess.

Monday, April 09, 2007


In 2000, when I first started surfing the 'net, I found a message board called "Cafe Dartre." I met a number of really neat people there, including a sweet, funny, thoughtful guy named rbrown. For the last seven years, I have been reading his posts, first on CD, then on the Cyber Soap Box. He passed away recently, and not only his family but his online friends have suffered a loss. In seven years, I never saw him resort to name-calling or getting involved in any sort of drama. He was a kind and caring man, a talented photographer, a hockey fan, a besotted dog owner, and his death diminishes us all.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


My self-control has gotten weak and flabby from lack of exercise.

Last night, I placed a large order from Skindecent, because Marliss was doing an unbelievable giveaway (a scented sugar scrub with every $20 purchase!), and this morning, I bought flowers.

There's snow all over the ground, and yet I bought a bleeding heart for the way back yard, a pink butterfly bush for the pink & white bed in the front yard, and a really pathetic azalea with hot pink flowers that was marked down to 25 cents because of its neglected condition. That one is not a problem, because it's safely in a pot. The other two, however, are bare root plants, and now I will have to excavate a pot from the mess that is my garage, and put them in there with a bit of soil to keep them safe until I can get them in the ground.

Oh, and I spent $200 on bulbs & plants from Jung's and Spring Hill.

Starting tomorrow, I vow I will put my self-control on a strict exercise regimen.

Plus, I'm broke now. ;-)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I would not have used that word, but I JUST GOT MY FIRST ORDER!!!

This is just so freaking exciting! Now I want to go make the soaps right now, even if it is 9:45 p.m. *giggle*

A friend smoothed out the html for the Paypal buttons, and when I offered her a Wet Willy, she said, "I'd love one. Will code for soap." *grin*

Tomorrow, I get to stay home from work and babysit the four year old nephew. I have Chicken Run on DVD, place cards to decorate for Easter dinner, and Easter cards to decorate for family. Plus, of course, there are the dogs to be petted and spoiled, so I think five hours should pass fairly easily. Yesterday, on the phone, Alabaster piped up with "I love you, Aunt Jammies," and my heart just melted.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Just another manic Sunday

It's not a good sign when my first waking thought is, "Drat. I've got 23.5 hours left in my weekend." Still, today was a pretty good day. I got the scent list & shipping costs posted on the website, and I'm just waiting on Paypal for my shopping cart. I got my hair colored and the bathroom scrubbed out, and the laundry mostly done. I also started taking the hormone replacements, because waking up in the middle of the night with hot flashes was getting to me. When I expressed my concerns about the treatment of the horses used to make Premarin, my doc gave me a prescription for Cenesten, which he says is entirely lab-grown. The price isn't too bad, $52 for three months with no medical insurance.

The price on the medication was so reasonable that I treated myself to two hyacinths, a bag of white gladiolus bulb, two cyclamen and two trellises. Thank goodness for discount stores--all of that cost me $26.

Yesterday, I worked outside. I give myself bonus points for not killing my next-door neighbor, who came and stood over me to talk to me while I cleaned up the trash that fell out of his trash cans three weeks ago. Fortunately, I got away from him when I had cleaned up that corner of the yard and moved down the ditch. When the trash was cleaned up, I got the wheelbarrow and started playing pickupsticks. In the front yard alone, I picked up enough downed wood to fill a large lawn & leaf debris bag and part of another. Now I just have to remember to take the bag out to the curb Thursday night!

After the cleanup work, I strolled around the back yard, admiring spring. The yellow and white daffs are all up and open (the pink & white in the front yard are just starting to bud) and it looks as if my hydrangeas and hibiscus survived the winter. I'm not sure yet about the mock orange and the pussywillow, but I remain hopeful. The soft ground around the daffodils was imprinted with hoofprints, and I had a smug chuckle for frustrating the deer. The bluebells along the back of the house have leafed, and it looks as if they've multiplied. I can't believe I didn't even know they were there until last summer.

Because all the co-pays from my surgery are arriving thick and fast, I won't be buying a new water softener with my tax refund. However, there might be enough left over for a teeny bit of ordering from garden catalogs. This year, I have much more energy, thanks to the weight loss, and I'm really looking forward to a spring and summer spent working in the garden.