Like You Just Don’t Care

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The rare lower leg selfie.

Anyone have a neighbor who is often seen out in her yard wearing a bizarre mosaic of clothing that might include high-waisted jeans, old Beck t-shirts splattered with paint, bright blue socks adorned with cartoon versions of Bob Ross and his “happy clouds” (could be green and happy trees, depending on the day), and occasionally slippers when she’s forgotten they’re not actually shoes? Does she speak French to her chickens, whose responses are mainly limited to ‘buuuuuurrrrque (French for ‘berk’)? You may also have noticed her taking her undies and other laundry down from the clothesline during your summer deck party.

If so, howdy neighbor!

Yeah, that was me out mowing my lawn this morning in a get-up not too different from that described above (the summer version includes shorter pants, which is awesome if you’re my neighbor cuz you get to see more sock!), with the seasonal accessory of a white mask over my mouth and nose. Allergies suck, and I think it’s too late to hope I might “outgrow” them. At least I can eat peanut butter, and trust me, you don’t want to know me if I ever have to give that up.

We’ve had an exceptionally wonderful weekend here in Seattle (a smidge hot for this native, but I ain’t complaining after the long, soggy winter we just endured), during which I’ve had several occasions to spend time with loved ones who helped me celebrate my birthday. Lots of fun, with some downtime mixed in, and as a result, I needed to catch up on chores this morning.

I’m not tangoing to the mid-century beat yet, but it is pulling me onto the dance floor. (I love to dance, so perhaps if I think of it this way, aging won’t be so bad.) Meanwhile, I’m not a young thing anymore, and as a result, I find that I am getting less and less concerned with how I’m perceived. This is a blessing for me, but maybe a curse for my neighbors.

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Not to get too macabre about it, but by this point in life, it has become crystal clear that there’s much less time in front of me than there is behind me. I need to maximize every minute of every day (although I do like my occasional nap) to read everything I want, to continue learning, to travel, to see friends, to write, to garden, to work for social justice, to volunteer, to try new things. To finish this damn rug (tantalizingly close; see this post for where I was with it back in February).

As for trying new things, I’ve embarked on almost every creative ship that was departing Inspiration Bay. After enjoying a few days on beguiling new waters, I usually become bored of the horizon that stretches out seemingly forever and move onto another adventure. Such is the Gemini personality. The islands (i.e., closets) are strewn with the jetsam of my tossed-overboard hobbies, but nonetheless I have decided to set out on yet another journey.

I’ve always wanted to do sketch journaling, of nature, daily life scenes, travels…I am not artistically gifted, but as I allude to above, I’m trying to ignore the judgy neighbors inside my own head (and tune in to the Bob Ross socks instead*). I’m interested in this journal idea for a couple of reasons. One is to be in the moment and pay better attention to the world around me. Another is to use my right brain more, try to tap into a font of creativity. My friend Ed (whose great new blog Outpost4013 you should go check out immediately) often sketches and he’s one of the most creative people I know. I doubt I’ll achieve Ed-level creativity, but I still think it’ll be a good thing for me.

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Rosé with roses on a warm summer evening.

So I used money I got for my birthday and bought some portable art supplies. I had so much fun planning what to buy and looking at inspiring books (check out An Illustrated Life, which features many artists’ sketches of daily experiences, in various art forms). My friend and fellow gardener, Gilly, who lives in Ireland, sent me the book Botanical Portraits, which arrived a couple of days ago and I am excited to work with things right here in my garden. A timely and wonderful gift!

I have no idea how this latest adventure will go, but am wasting no time worrying about it. Even if I capsize, I’m sure I’ll gain new knowledge along the way. That alone makes it worth it.

* No I don’t think my socks are speaking, BUT, if they were, they’d be saying kind, supportive things, much like this or this Bob Ross account on Twitter).

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New Holiday: Sunny Seattle Day

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A hellebore in our yard, growing rampantly like everything else

There’s not really a point to this post other than the fact that it has been a gorgeous sunny weekend and I finally just needed to find a spot in the shade to rest and appreciate the warmth after a busy day in the yard. I was catching up on a few favorite blogs, and today’s post from NW Edible Life inspired me to take stock of what we got done.

First though, there’s a crow somewhere on the gutter above me tossing the winter’s accumulated gunk onto the ground below looking for treats – not sure what they find in there, but apparently we don’t clean our gutters often enough (to be perfectly honest, my wonderful father-in-law has cleaned them out the past few years, since it’s a chore Doug used to do, but given he lives in Arizona, the gutters are totally neglected in between his visits).

Other than that, it’s a good, quiet time in the late part of these long afternoons, when the yard sighs in the shade of the massive poplar, most people have finished their noisier yard chores, and the hens have stopped heralding their latest ovoid accomplishment. On warm days, the feathered ladies do what I like to call “dust yoga.” They dig a disc-shaped spot in the dust (which isn’t all that easy yet, given the ground is still wet just beneath the surface) and roll from side to side in it with their wings out. One time I thought one of them died because she was lying there so awkward and still. It must have been chicken shavasana.

I planted a few seeds the past couple of days – zuke, green onions, radish, nasturtium and sunflowers. The tomatoes and peppers are still hanging out in the greenhouse, where they seem pretty content. Hoping to plant them soon. The yard is a mess though – it went from dormant to jungle in a few short days and there are fevered battles going on out there between morning glory, blackberry, lemon balm, some kind of tree sprouts that must be shooting up from an old root, and things I don’t even know the names of. This yard resists being tamed with all its might and I have my moments of wanting to just let it have its way.

I used to do an annual garden journal, but I don’t feel like I have the time for that anymore. I would note planting dates, harvest dates and amounts, what I did with the items from the garden, etc. An instructive process if one is consistent and rigorous in keeping notes. These days I’m lucky if I actually remember to mow and do some weeding. Today I did spend about 3-4 hours solid doing yard work and I felt a bit like my old self, where I got totally obsessed and didn’t want to stop; when I went in to clean up, I had leaves and bits of branch stuck in my hair. That’s when you know you’ve gotten carried away, in a good way I think.

Hubby cleaned off the patio where all the dead leaves and spiders have some sort of alliance, a chore I find terror- and sneeze-inducing. Very grateful he took that on. He also cleaned out the chicken coop and put new bedding in for them. He gets annoyed at how tired he gets from doing these things, but he doesn’t let it stop him. Have I mentioned how determined he is?

In a bit, I’ll go inside and figure out what to do with the rhubarb I harvested. I like to make shrub with it (basically you steep fruit in apple cider vinegar and sugar for a few days to create a refreshing elixir to mix with soda – it’s incredibly delicious, not to mention good for your gut). I also adore a good rhubarb crisp, but since I’m on a low-carb/low-sugar meal plan right now, I may have to hold off on that. The grandfather from whom I inherited the blood sugar issues passed away from complications of diabetes when my mother was 17, so I figure I better take this seriously. Man, do I miss bread though.

The next few days are going to continue to be sunny, but tomorrow it’s back to reality, our “real” jobs taking over our focus once again. We still have a lot to get done around here, but we’ll have to tackle it another day. Maybe Seattle will start making sunny days some kind of holiday, given how few of them we get. One can dream, right?

 

 

 

 

Celebrating With My Third Husband

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Anniversary week at Cannon Beach, bundled up even in the sun. #worthit

 

There’s a quote by Margaret Mead that says “I’ve been married three times, and not one of them was a failure.” (I also saw “I’ve been married three times, and each time I married the right person.”). In any case, I do like to joke that I’ve been married three times, even though I’ve only had one wedding.

I just celebrated ten years with husbands two and three, but before you think polygamy, keep reading.

I met my first “husband” in college and we stayed together over 10 years. While we never legally married, we bought a house and raised kitties together. When we split up, it was mostly because we’d found we wanted different things in life. We’re still in touch and I still love him as a dear friend, and cherish his parents as my former “in-laws.”

Then I was single for a while, before meeting my next beloved husband, whom I married at a wonderful wedding celebration in 2007. I was married to this man for almost 7 years before he had a life-changing stroke while we were in Hawai’i in 2014.

My third husband, the stroke survivor, shares many of the same cherished qualities as my second husband – he’s kind, determined, motivated, curious, physically restless – but he also has his own unique qualities.

This latest hubby is a talker, a wordy person. The previous husband wasn’t as verbally expressive, and didn’t like to goof around with words the way I do. Now, #3 has taken over the gift of gab in our household. He’s always rhyming, making up kooky plays on words, punning like a madman. As a Gemini, this is upsetting, since that has always been my lane. He makes me laugh a lot though, even when I’m trying desperately to get my own quips in. It’s like the world’s worst improv show at our house.

He has also taken up writing, an activity that his predecessor would never have sat still for. In fact, since I left my computer at home accidentally while on our trip (I had such good intentions to use it, too), I had to fight to use his for a few minutes as he worked on his latest blog post. He loves to chat with random strangers, an activity that introverts like us rarely engage in, and which I still find disorienting.

#3 also often wakes up with a “song of the day” in his head. There is no logic to the song it is, which is mystifying. Where do these songs come from? Trust me, it’s doubtful he’s heard these songs in the recent past to draw from; recently, a Simon & Garfunkel song made an appearance. Tomorrow it might be Pat Benatar, you just can’t tell.

He’s more impatient than my second husband. Which is ironic, because this is another example of where roles have changed. Impatience is a special skill I possess, whether it’s while driving or waiting in lines. I inherited this from my father, I consider it my genetic birthright. Hubby #2 used to tell me to relax, nothing could be done about it anyway. I used to tell him to shut the f*%k up because being frustrated was how NORMAL people reacted. Now I have to be the one who slows our roll, because getting #3 stressed out is not helpful or healthy. I’m sure it’s been good for me as well – all that fuming about things isn’t a great use of energy (although I will never be okay with people who don’t know how to merge onto the freeway, so please just figure out where the gas pedal is already).

I’ve often thought that I wasn’t really a grown up until I met husband #3. I guess I’m version 3.0 as well. We’ve all been the right person, and not one of us has been a failure – we’ve just been evolving. I am incredibly lucky to have spent these last ten years married to two of the most wonderful men imaginable. And I’m not sure what Margaret Mead would think, but three marriages seems like plenty.

Being in the Streets

Nothing much in the tank today. Or, in more climate-friendly terms, the batteries are depleted and the clouds are preventing much in the way of energy production. I’ve been crazy busy these past few weeks, and ran out of steam.

It was a really good weekend, with some work in the garden (peas have a semi-functional makeshift trellis), getting ready for and going to the climate march Saturday, and having dinner with friends that night. We hadn’t gotten together since New Year’s, and it was so good to catch up, scarf down pasta and take a walk in the last of the day’s light with a typical Seattle mist falling on our heads. We found a soccer ball in the cul de sac at the end of our block and ended up playing some convoluted form of soak-’em and soccer in the street until we were gasping from laughter. Ed, being on the opposing team from me and Tess, kept losing a shoe which I felt fully justified in kicking as far as I could from him. I think she and I still lost, although I’m not entirely sure.

As far as friends go, you can’t ask for much better. Aside from our parents and siblings, they’re the people we consider our family members. We’ve traveled together, gone camping together and have been trying to figure out for a long time how we could eventually all live together. Since among the six of us, only one has a grown daughter, it’s likely we’ll be having to find a way to care for ourselves as we grow old. I think about this a lot now, since of course I assumed Doug and I would be very self-sufficient well into our old age.

We’re barely self-sufficient now as it turns out, but we manage okay with help from these and other friends, and our parents who come take care of things around the house. Doug and I both have four parents, and while I’d never suggest divorce is good, we’ve had more than our share of parental love and support as a result. My stepdad Grant is 83 and still works on our cars. Talk about spoiled.

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Doug and Grant, the dynamic duo

Speaking of whom, he marched with us on Saturday! He has grand kids and great-grand kids, and he wasn’t the only grandparent there trying to do something to help keep our planet a decent place for them to live in the future. He’s really frustrated and worried and just wanted to be out there in the streets to protest with like-minded people. I felt really honored to be out marching with him.

climate-march-kidsWe arrived early to the pre-march gathering at Occidental Park and were right in the middle of the action when things got started with drummers, a marching band, and a not-coal train powered by people wearing wind-turbines on their backs. Lots of great creativity, as always. I really loved the person wearing a bee-keeping outfit, with paper bees attached to her by springs so they bobbed all around her head. Her sign said “Honey Makers Not Money Makers.”

A major element of the climate change movement is for a just transition away from our oil-driven economy, in recognition of how a changing climate will impact some communities more than others. And that the solutions should – and can! – improve our lives, with green energy jobs, cleaner air and water, walkable communities with healthy local food, and so much more. There is no reason for polluting pipelines to go through native peoples’ lands if we move to solar and wind power instead. There’s no reason to open our national parks up to gas and coal exploration either. None of these things is needed, but they make huge profits for someone, so of course they get pushed.

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This kid has major courage and conviction

At the end of the march, we rallied at Westlake Park and heard a bunch of great speakers, including two kids from the youth-led organization Plant for the Planet. Their goal is to plant a billion trees (!) around the world. These kids are amazingly well-spoken and motivated, and they aren’t afraid to call out grown-ups like us for not doing more. They’re taking the actions they can, and reminded us that we can vote. Ahem.

So yeah, we have work to do, and not just in the streets. But while we’re on that topic, today is the beginning of the annual Bike Everywhere month (read my 2015 post here). It’s one of my favorite ways to help the planet and stay healthy. Plus, we have some actual sun in the forecast, hallelujah! I feel more energetic already. Happy May everyone!