Saturday, April 28, 2007

Random Bullets of a Grey Saturday

  • First of all, a shout out to my little sister: Happy Birthday, Sis! I already disbursed greetings in an email, on the phone, and in person, but one more delivery method rounds out the list nicely.

  • Sis and I are 22 months apart, so for the next two months, I am only one year older than her. This would drive me to tears as a youngster, when my two years of seniority apparently meant a lot to me. Funny how little it matters now.

  • SodaBoy & I went to Kmart today, to get a cheap combination lock for my two week free trial membership at the YMCA. We also went down the hair care aisle, as I needed conditioner. That turned out to be a big mistake.

  • Why is it that all hair care products smell like fruit nowadays? Who wants to smell like food? I just don't get it.

  • So we were sniffing all the conditioners looking for the least offensive, and somehow I managed to slosh some on my hand. As I was whining and grumbling, I looked over at SodaBoy. We are a perfect match... he had accidently splashed some on his face, and actually managed to get it up his nose.

  • We bought some product and left, walking over to the office supply store next door to get hanging files. In a miraculous display of coordination, I dropped the bag from Kmart. The conditioner lid shattered, spraying conditioner all over the inside of the bag and the new combination lock.

  • After that episode, we called it quits on the shopping and headed home. I had been feeling sickly all week: achey muscles, swollen glands, low grade fever. I announced to SodaBoy that I was taking a nap.

  • Instead, I ended up out in the backyard. I started pulling weeds. I was really enjoying myself. Once I got a big enough pile going, SodaBoy brought me the wheelbarrow, and I did a pretty good job filling it, although the job is not done, not by a long shot.

  • I'm working in the garden I hope to plant daffodil bulbs in this fall, and annuals later this spring. Soon, I hope. And I hope they can compete with the garlic mustard. I hope something can.

  • I am fighting a losing battle with the garlic mustard, which made up about 99% of what I pulled today. It is rampant in the woods behind the house, and just keeps spreading into the gardens. I did all this last year, too.

  • Mucking around in the dirt really improved my condition though. My shoulders and back muscles have loosened up significantly. It wasn't sunny out... in fact it was sprinkling on and off, and fairly cool, too. Certainly not what you'd call vitamin D therapy, but whatever it was, I'll take it.
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Hang Gliders in Flight, Afternoon Delight

    Often on a Monday morning, when asked by a coworker how my weekend was, I groggily reply, OK, how about you?. Or some such mumble-iferous inanity. Not yesterday. Yesterday, I said awesome!! It was truly a magnificent weekend. Amazing what a little sun and warmth will do for the spirits.

    We went hiking at a favorite spring time spot, state land featuring a beautiful waterfall and a trail winding up a ridge through the woods. Snow is always slow to melt in the mist zone behind the falls, but one of the cool things about this particular falls is you can climb up behind the water.

    I have some concerns about this being a short-lived phenomena, and have warned Mom & Sis to head on down to experience the falls one last time whilst they remain undeveloped. Signs were posted that "improvements" are coming, a hard-surfaced trail to provide accessibility right up to the falls. Most state lands seriously restrict access to falls, and I fear this will be the case here, too, once the pavement comes.

    Up at the top of the ridge is a hang gliders launch pad. In all my lifetime of hiking here, I had never once until this weekend seen the hang gliders in action. Let's just say they had an awesome weekend, too.

    I was too dumbfounded by the process to get any good photos of the launch process. I didn't even attempt shooting for two of the three launches. These hang gliders have a lot of guts, that much is for sure. The whole flying units fold up and are carried over the shoulder of one man. Certainly not a sturdy apparatus.

    The phenolgy was a bit behind, although I should think we'll be back on track in no time with the warmth of Sunday and Monday and then today's seasonality. The leeks were still small on Saturday, but spring beauty is out in all it's glory.

    As are the mourning cloak butterflies, and the hepaticas, too. Oh, but spring is a delight! I've got to find my sunscreen though. Between the hike on Saturday, and urban walk on Sunday, and field work yesterday, I am starting to get a little pink.

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Blissed Out

    The weather the last few days has been delightful. We've taken evening walks in our woods after work yesterday and today both. Our woods are small, so the walks don't amount to much in terms of exercise for anyone except the cat. But he enjoys himself so much it's hard to resist. Often times if we want to take a longer walk to Stormwater Park or Tall Trees Cemetery, we have to lock him in the house to keep him from following us too far from home.

    Aside from the brevity factor, the woods are a satisfying place to walk. I am in an urban area, so the heavy skew towards invasives is not unexpected: buckthorns and garlic mustard rule my woods. Still, I can keep an eye on the local phenology, be it what it may. Viola blanda is native and flowering. We often see deer or rabbits; today we saw coyote tracks bigger than seems possible. We made a fortuitous discovery on one of our regular deer path routes: a clump of Nepeta cataria, also known as catnip. Dude is psyched.

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Advice Please

    My health insurance plan has feature that provides reimbursement up to $300/year for gym memberships. My new office, which I will see for the first time tomorrow, is located half a block away from a YMCA. That combination is a mighty big convenience factor. Exercising more some would be really good for me, especially of the aerobic variety that I can't get just walking around.

    Last time I climbed an Adirondack peak it was shameful: all the huffing and puffing and beet red face and soreness. I don't view hiking as a competitive event, and don't usually mind being lapped by other hikers. However, there is a huge difference between being lapped because I'm stopping to smell the flowers and being lapped because I'm hunched over wheezing. And Big Slide was two summers ago. If I go back this summer, I might not even be able to haul my weary shit-ass up the mountain.

    I looked online and the YMCA membership fee is higher than I expected; were I to join for an entire year, the $300 reimbursement would not cover it, not by a long shot. I asked a few women at work, and no one has been there before. A bunch of us have agreed to go check it out together. However, I have never in my life belonged to a gym. In fact, the only time I've set foot in one was the semester in college when I took tai chi, which was held in a basement room. So I am not sure excatly what to look for. I know some of my readers are gym-goers. What should I look for? What should scare me away?

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    The Only One?

    As I was showering this morning, I noticed the water pooling up around my feet. So gross! And I’d just cleaned the bathroom , too, right before the guests arrived. Part of the dreaded bathroom cleaning is pulling up the shower stopper and removing the nasty hair and soap scum, always exceptionally traumatic for me with my overactive gag reflex. I remember very clearly having done it, and how proud of myself I was for not vomiting.

    So after I got out of the shower this morning, I checked, and what do you know? There was enough hair stuck on their to clothe a large rodent, and none of it looked like mine. How could a couple of guests here for less than a week clog up my shower! It takes me months to cultivate that level of infestation. I was whining to SodaBoy about it, and I think we got to the bottom of this sordid little mystery. I asked him,

    Am I the only one who sticks their hair on the shower wall, and then wipes it up with a tissue and throws it away?

    His affirmative response was his very rapid and very emphatic. I know it sounds disgusting, but surely it pales in comparison with a big slimy clogged drain. Inevitably the damn thing clogs up anyway, from the hairs that slide down your back, and that pesky business called soap. But all those hairs that stick to the hands during the shampooing and conditioning apparently add up faster than I ever knew. So tell me, bloggers, am I really the only one to practice this questionable brand of hygiene?

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Keeper of the Photos

    SodaBoy dropped Cousin R (CR) off at the airport this morning and then returned Little Brother (LB) to the parents this afternoon. LB has been staying here the last two nights; CR arrived Friday. Tonight our household is back to normal for the first time since Thursday. Elijah is pleased as punch. Despite his storied past adventures, including aggressively adopting us once upon a time, our cat has grown soft and timid of unknown humans. He is thrilled to be lying on the rug, free from the oppression of strangers possibly looking at him.

    Sadly, the pathetic cat and I have more in common than I’d like to admit. While I love the opportunity to see far flung family and friends, I am not psychologically equipped for long term house guests. Being “on” all the time is mentally exhausting for me like nothing else. I feel so relaxed tonight that I almost feel guilty. I’ll never be able to catch up on all the blogger activity I missed in five days, but at least I have the freedom to try... or to zone out on the couch should that choice win out. Oh, sweet freedom!

    The guilt is because CR is a sweetheart, smart and creative and bubbly, fun to be around. We share the same kooky family, obviously, but she lives far away, and we don’t see each other nearly enough. We had a great time gabbing, talking books and family and travel and all sorts of random things. I am glad she stayed with me over her other lodging options, and would certainly welcome her back in the future. She hasn’t visited Hometown in four or five years, and I kept wishing it was a happier occasion, that she was here for a fun visit. CR wasn’t the only family in town this weekend: they convened from four other states, starting last week.

    Saturday was the Memorial Service for my beloved Grandmother, who died in January of the late-stage dementia that has kept her in the nursing home for the last few years. While the exact timing of her death was a surprise, everyone knew it was coming. For the most part we managed to honor her wishes and make the service a celebration instead of a mourning. Funny Uncle was too choked up to read the reflections he’d written, and eventually had to be helped along, but his emotion was raw and I found it terribly moving. My Mother organized and led the service, and she did a fantastic job of shepherding the good memories, of which there were far too many to recount.

    As of today, all the cousins and an Aunt have returned to their distant homes. Being new at my job, I don’t have much vacation yet, and have been at work both days this week. Mom, the Uncles and assorted spouses remain, toiling away at my Grandmother’s house, trying to get it ready to sell. The work is draining, physically and mentally, and I have a lot of sympathy for them in their work.

    Grammy was a hoarder, through and through. Part of it was Depression-era frugality. Living without for so long made her hold on to most everything. She also loved garage sales, and bought innumerable items, thinking that one of us might need them someday. The cleaning I did when she was first hospitalized was barely the tip of the iceberg: I never even ventured into the cellar. The basement was filled to the rafters, with ever narrowing tunnels to the washer and distant corners. None of her children live in state any more, and they’ve been working like mad, a frenzy of sorting and tossing.

    I actually went to work yesterday thinking it would be relaxing compared to the emotional strain of the weekend, between Saturday’s memorial and Sunday’s cleaning. However, I was so exhausted that even the simplest task seemed insurmountable. Part of my exhaustion was simply having no alone time to recharge, and part a lack of sleep. [There was the late night discovery of the engorged deer tick on Elijah's neck after we'd gone to bed Sunday night, and the late night guffaws from SodaBoy and LB waking me from my slumber last night: they had stayed up late watching TV downstairs.] But I am confident I will feel better tomorrow on both counts.

    There will be at least one more family dinner, and I will likely acquire more boxes of photos. I sure hope so, anyway. Last night I was back at Grammy’s house, and the trunk of my car is full now with stuff I was too tired to haul in upon returning home. I think I made myself the official keeper of the photos with my shrieked admonition not to throw them out.

    I do have an established record of trustworthiness with family photos, demonstrated through my scan project. I know my Mom, at least, finds comfort in the thought that I will not only enjoy them, but scan and share them as well. There was a box under my late Grandpa’s bed that is the height and width of a shoe box, but at least five feet long. It took two of us to carry it to the car. Another tempting option for my evening of me-time...

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    The Season of the Guest

    Now that I am back to work, I have transitioned somewhat to being a weekend blogger. Ideally, this will not be the long term solution. For one thing, the season of the guest is upon us, and overnight company almost always arrives in time for the weekend.

    Today, for example, my cousin R is flying in from out of state, to stay through Tuesday. Then, next Sunday, SodaBoy's sister B is coming to visit, also from out of state. She is the only one of our immediate family who hasn't seen the house yet, and her three boys will be on spring break, so they'll be staying for a few days. Somehow it doesn't seem right to spend much time computing with guests, unless they bring a laptop and are prone to such things themselves, so I'll most likely be missing in actions for a while.