Friday, June 30, 2017

This Last Rare Day

The mulch is mostly spread. The weeds are mostly gone. The front yard is darn near respectable looking. I feel like I'm about a hundred years old. I was so dirty from yard work that twigs washed out of my hair. And there was mulch in my bra. Seriously. Another beer ought to help. I'm certain Reid will share his cheese curds with me when he gets home from Culver's. I'm having a hard time thinking the longest day of the year was over a week ago. I'm almost sertain it was today.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wake Up and Smell The Espresso

My view this morning while sipping my double shot cafe American. I wish you could feel the cool breeze. And, yes, that's my trusty little ten-year-old Outback parked across the street. I love a day that starts like this.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


While all the components were still in the back yard, I constructed a prototype to see how the pieces would fit together.

Once I got everything transported to the front yard, it seemed obvious that the stones fit together better in the opposite order from how I had them placed initially. I dug a shallow trench for the log to rest in and removed the dead, matted sod from the planting area. I also trimmed out some tree roots and loosened up the soil about six inches down. The stones are stabilized with some smaller rocks wedged in from the inside of the planting area. 

Plants are in place! In the center we have yarrow in the color paprika. On either side it is flanked by potentilla, variety Abbotswood. These are terrific, low maintenance plants that have meager water requirements. The plan is to expand this rock garden a little bit every year. I hope to keep it in this organic, free-form style using found materials like the log and rocks I scavenged from the back yard. The largest portion of the cost was the plants at around $15. Throw in a funky clearance-priced ornament and a two buck bag of topsoil, and the cost of this little project came in at $22. All that remains to be done is weeding and some cleanup under the junipers next to the house followed by spreading out the previously documented pile of mulch. Once that is complete, I can put in the ten Russian sage plants waiting in the garden. The finishing touch will be placing the solar lights I picked up for a buck apiece last week!

The Preposterous Pile

This is the very sexy pile of mulch in my front yard. To the people who turned me in, I hope they feel this is less of an eyesore than my weeds and dead grass.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Lately when I stroll past a rack of what I think are cute tank tops, I'll stop and pull one out for further perusal and it turns out to not be a tank top! There are these weird sleeves hanging limp at the sides! Sometimes they are sweaters! Why in this wide, wide world of nonsensical things would anyone want the shoulders missing in the midst of sweater weather?!? I can safely say, not me. I do hope this faux tank top with dangly sleeve-like things fad is over soon. When they go on the clearance racks I might pick up a couple of the extra cute ones super cheap, take them home, and lop off their sleeves! I think my sewing skills are still up to this task. Which reminds me of a completely opposite clothing style, the ski vest. Which, upon seeing me wearing one with a cowl neck sweater when I was in my twenties, my father remarked that would be a damn nice jacket if they'd put some sleeves on it. I think this is called fashion. To keep us buying stuff. And I must say, they're not fooling me when they come up with new color names. Peach is coral is cantaloupe is shrimp is salmon. it's all pastel orange to me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

If Only

Party of Five recently showed up on Netflix. And it's a bit of a guilty pleasure to indulge in watching it. Aside from wondering on occasion if maybe, just possibly, the Salinger parents faked their death in a car accident just to escape their often miserable, totally self-centered kids, I'm enjoying watching it. Deep into the third season, Griffin returns to San Francisco after a months long tour on a merchant marine ship. And he's limping. Knee injury on the boat, can't do his job anymore, bam, gets fired. He's home, he's broke, and he's limping. Julia convinces him to see a lawyer, and, bam, by the next episode Griffin is a hundred grand richer. $100,000!! In his pocket!! Why did I suffer through a similar circumstance for over five years? Why did I have to go through five lawyers before the sixth one finally took my case? Why did I have to endure surgery, endless doctors and physical therapy appointments, a six hour deposition, numerous ineffective drugs for the pain and other symptoms, being told it was all in my head, submitting to pain blocking nerve shots, and going through month after month of not knowing where all of this was going to end up? Why? Only to end up with a settlement that was merely a fraction of what gets ponied up in the magical realm of television melodrama. Sigh. I've made my peace with how it all went down for me. I had my say and signed on the dotted line. I have come to accept my injuries and deal with how they limit my activities, but never my life. I take my spoon inventory daily and tackle the tasks before me. All I have to say is, a one episode wait, which was one week, and a hundred thousand bucks wouldn't have hurt my feelings one little bit. With that much dough, I expect you could buy a few extra spoons.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Full Circle

A number of years ago, yes, the stone age when I was married, I was on the phone with a friend who was telling me that Lyle Lovett was going to be making a nearby stop on tour. Did we want to go? They were getting tickets! Heck, yeah, was my reaction. A smaller theater venue with comfy seats. Perfect! I cradled the receiver on my shoulder and asked my husband if he wanted to go. He curled up his lip in disgust and replied, but he's country! I was stunned. My musical taste runs the gamut of genres and I rarely consider how they are classified, I just know what I like. And Mr Lovett was a favorite of mine. A little western swing, a little jazzy, with a mournful and plaintive ballad thrown in occasionally for good measure. And that voice! But I was deep into keeping the peace and making my husband look good at that time. After taking a deep breath to restore my composure, I raised the phone to my ear and heard myself making an excuse for why we couldn't go that didn't make him look like the ass that he had been. He eventually apologized, even bought me a couple of Lyle's cd's as gifts to make amends. In the bigger picture of our marriage this was just one straw that gnawed at me for some time, not the one that broke the camel's back. An opportunity missed because I didn't feel as though I could do something separately from him. That we were a couple, and couples did things together. Fast forward to this morning. Lyle Lovett and his Large Band are playing at Red Rocks next month. I bought a ticket! So. I have long since gotten over that humiliating and aggravating exchange way back then. And after living in Colorado for over a year, it's about time I got down to Red Rocks for a musical experience. See you in July, Lyle! It will be the perfect wrap-up of my birthday month.

Grass Alternative Wanted

I need a miracle ground cover plant for my backyard. A plant that is drought resistant that can do well in soil that has a high clay content. Preferably a plant that is barefoot friendly. Does such a plant exist? Now that we are getting down to filling in the holes and making the yard livable again, I'm considering what to use to cover up the brown, dusty ground that will keep it from turning into a mudhole when a bit of rainfall arrives. I'm doing a great deal of the front yard with mulch as a ground cover but would like to do something a little different in the back. Suggestions are welcome. But the first person who suggests landscape rock gets a punch in the nose. And I think kudzu is considered a noxious weed in these parts. If it isn't, it should be.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meanwhile, Out in The Backyard

Try to ignore the massive holes in the ground. Instead, please focus on the fact the the hideous swingset is gone! Gonegonegone! The clothesline poles have also done a disappearing act. Yes, the deck looks like crap. It will look much, much better when the peeling paint is gone, the surface is sanded, and a new color is applied.

Tomato plants! They have tripled in size since I popped them in the dirt three weeks ago. 

Raspberry bushes! There will likely be no berries to harvest this year but they are being pampered with water and fertilizer and sunshine until they do.

This bed I started from seed so the size of the plants isn't quite so impressive. In the center we have sunflowers. To the right we have baby cilantro and just poking their little heads out of the soil on the left we have basil. Around the perimeter in the niches of the blocks you will find marigolds. For decorative as well as ant discouragement purposes.

Half My Life Ago

The thing I remember most clearly about this photo is that I thought I really needed to lose another five pounds. Which seems ludicrous now. Seems, hell, is ludicrous. And I wonder if this is just nostalgia for a younger me. Or if it's something bigger. Like how most women are much too hard on themselves over their appearance. I try to be kinder to myself now, partly because I'm approaching sixty and I feel like angst over the size of my butt is wasted time and energy. But mostly because it doesn't matter if I'm carrying around an extra five pounds or so if I'm healthy and happy. And I am. I might as well ask if those sweat pants make my butt look big.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, My Firstborn!

Technical Difficulties

I hate my printer/scanner. I have removed it and reinstalled it. A test page has been successfully printed. I have turned everything off and on again to no avail. Why won't it scan??? This is holding up my blogging for the day. I have a plan, since this is my firstborn's birthday, to scan a number of selected, adorable photos and post them. If my freaking scanner would cooperate. I have a serious love/hate relationship with technology. Meh.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lesser Known Brass

Reid and I have fascinating conversations. But the really interesting ones happen in the car, often on a long road trip when both of us are very tired. Why else would any two people discuss oddball brass instruments?

First up we have the flumpet. Yes, the flumpet. It was designed as a combination of the flugelhorn and the trumpet, hence its catchy name. It was custom designed by David Monette at the request of jazz musician Art Farmer.

More commonly played with the mouth rather than shown here in true Monty Python inappropriateness, the buisene is a long straight trumpet without valves. The buisene is often depicted being used to play a fanfare by fancily dressed medieval fellows, unlike these fellows who are not dressed at all. The buisene sometimes gets its own costume, festooned with a drapey scarf that coordinates with the fancy fellows' outfits

Finally, we have the tromboon, shown here being played by its inventor PDQ Bach, aka musical satirist Peter Schickele. The tromboon is a trombone with the mouthpiece of a bassoon. Possessing, says Mr Bach, all the disadvantages of both. I truly wish there were more lesser known brass instruments. They may exist, but they are so very much lesser known that even Reid does not know of them. And, no, there is no way to reclaim the five minutes you spent reading this nonsense. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's The Water

Since moving here a year ago, I have sung praises of the delicious water that comes from the tap. And now it has won a competition and has been declared the best water in America and Canada. I'm drinking some right now. Feels like a bit of a sacrilege to bathe in it or flush with it. Don't worry, I'll continue to shower and use the toilet properly. But now I'll do it with greater reverence.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Garden Goddess

Last Saturday I posted a photo of my mom dancing because I couldn't find this photo. Obviously, today I did find it. And scan it! It is posted! I still have that huge bowl. We had just returned from our motorcycle trip to Glacier National Park a few days before and found the garden in a state of overgrown splendor. A year after this was snapped we would be the parents of a six week old baby boy named Michael. I had just turned thirty, which, if you do the math, and I just did, that means this girl in the photo is half my current age! That makes my brain hurt. But, hey, that means my brain is still functioning. Which, at this point, is something to celebrate. 


The approach of father's day almost always fills me with trepidation. I expect this due to the fact that I haven't fully trusted my father since I was ten, and I vowed at the ripe old age of twenty-eight that I would never allow him to make me cry again. I have a few memories from early childhood where I felt safe and protected by him but those feel distant and dreamlike to me now. Then there was this phone conversation when I was in my mid-twenties that sticks with me. Mostly because I rarely spoke to my father during that time, there was what I have referred to as my quasi-annual phone call. There have been a couple stretches of years where I had a general idea where he was living, but no address or phone number, and then the quasi-annual ringing of the phone that I would answer without benefit of caller ID. Hello, I would say, and he would respond is that you, Carla Jean? in his Southern accented baritone. I would freeze like a deer-in-the-headlights for a moment and then we would proceed to talk about nothing for fifteen minutes or so. The one call that I remember containing some substance was when he told me how to find love. Considering his three failed marriages, two of them to my mother, I was doing a fatal eyeroll and holding the receiver at arms length and mouthing whatever! before listening again. Essentially his advice was this, you can chase around that butterfly forever but you'll probably never catch it. If you just sit still long enough, though, it will land on your shoulder and then it will be yours. I thought this was crazily insightful considering his track record and wanted to answer with some smartass retort. I don't remember anything else about that conversation. Just this illuminating moment where despite his failings as a husband and father, I felt as though he had handed me a shiny gemstone that I could keep and treasure. That butterfly has lighted on me a couple of times. And now that I have felt confident and happy on my own for some time, there is a quiet calm within me that is reflected by my exterior self. I'm ready for that butterfly to flutter near enough to land. But at the same time, I know I'll be just fine without it. Sometimes the stillness is enough.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Word Nerd

Consider these two similar words. Look and see. As in, look over there! See that? Take a look-see. Then attach the prefix over-, and you have overlook and oversee. Which are pretty much antonyms. When you oversee something, you're watching and attentive. When you overlook something, you miss it completely. Opposites. I often wake up with this sort of crap running around in my brain. Pondering the weirdness of the English language is a hobby of mine whether I like it or not. Welcome to my Tuesday.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Feed Me, Seymour!

I've been experiencing some Little Shop of Horrors anxiety concerning this plant. Because it seemed to pop up out of nowhere and is lurking and growing right under my office window. At the same time there was a lingering feeling of recognition so I let it stay until a couple of the buds popped open today.

Turns out, this is a hollyhock, just as I had suspected. Grandma Esther had a mass planting in a rainbow of colors of these reliable, old fashioned flowers in her yard.  

As luck would have it, I bought seeds earlier this spring to recreate a floral memory from my childhood. I need to get them planted! Since Seymour is happy in this east-facing spot, I expect more would be happy to join him. Summer carnival, indeed.

Cover Bands Rock!

Some people are of the opinion that the artists who write the songs are the definitive and best performers of those songs. I happen to think otherwise. Even of the Beatles. I know, blasphemy, right? I recently had the opportunity to take in two evenings of excellent music including some kickass covers. 

I've been a fan of Mike Massé on Facebook for about four years. A friend posted a video of him doing an amazing cover of Toto's hit Africa in a local pizza parlor, I think somewhere in Utah. Mike is a remarkable guitarist and has a terrific voice, he does great covers of so many songs of my youth, but also more recent tunes. He often appears supported by other musicians and is definitely worth the effort to see if he is performing near you. Absolutely an innovator, not merely an imitator.

High energy and so much fun to see live! Advent Horizon does original tunes as well as masterful covers of so many bands, from Pink Floyd to Eric Clapton. They look a bit subdued in this photo, but it's a good one of me. 

This is the goofy shot where I look a little crazed. Also, am I really this short? But I digress. Do not be fooled by their youthful appearance! They were probably born with their instruments in hand. Advent Horizon is a band you need to see!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pause for Dancing

I have gardening on my mind. So when I popped the lid off the box labeled 1980's Photos, I was looking for a particular photo of me from thirty years ago. I'm seated on the picnic table in the backyard of 1408 holding an enormous stainless steel bowl containing produce from our garden. It's late July or early August, and even if most of the labor and care put into growing those veggies was provide by my husband, I was getting the photo op. With that image clear in my brain, I ran across the above photo instead. It's my Mom, but I have no idea the date or location. She's wearing a name tag, so that's a clue of some sort. I don't recognize the houses or the car in the background. But there she is. Sometime in the 80's if it was in the correct box. She was a character, and her sassy spirit shines through here like she could jump right off the paper and be in the room with me. This is how I like to remember her, and I'm pretty sure she would approve. Wherever you are, Edna, I hope you're dancing in high heels and having the time of your afterlife.  

If I Were a Rich Man

As if this weren't enough, now I'm making hearts go boom-boom at There's even a gif of a red heart rhythmically expanding and deflating for effect. Even though I can join for free, I think I'll pass. There would be disappointment all around when I turn out to be a woman approaching sixty, not to mention the complications of the language barrier. I will click the unsubscribe once more, and as many more times as it takes. Relegating these offers to the spam folder seems premature. It's possible they'll discover that I'm a girl and start sending offers of hunky Ukrainian grooms for me. Then I might join. But only if they have nice teeth. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Birthday. Miss Martine!

Eight candles on that there cake, by my count. She's a little older today. Love the shiny halo on top of her blonde head! I expect there is chocolate cake underneath that chocolate frosting. June was toward the end of the time we lived in this house on 8th Avenue West in Williston. I remember so clearly the honeycomb pattern on those kitchen curtains and the flowered dress Martine is wearing. Hippo birdie, little sis, hope your day is wonderful.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


I have received a Courtesy Warning from the City of Greeley. Due to the hideous state of my front yard. They don't come around and hassle residents unless they have a complaint. From pretty much anybody who happens to walk by and is offended. Really! The code compliance officer was very pleasant and was aware I have been here for just a year. I explained that the grass was pretty much DOA when I moved in, and when I realized how crazy expensive, not to mention environmentally irresponsible, it would be to sod in a new lawn and then maintain it with regular watering, I decided to go the xeriscape route. Now I really do need to call the guy so I can get a boatload of bark mulch delivered. Whoever turned me in is going to be quite amazed at how lovely the yard will be. And they get zero credit for making it happen, these plans have been long in the making. So there.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Oh, No, Not Me! has contacted me via email so I can partake in "Be casual and relaxed to chat with thousands of gorgeous Russian Ladies online!" I did not click to view profiles. Do they think I'm a man? Do they know I drive a Subaru? Sara thinks Subaru might sell lists of Outback and Forester owners to the Russians. I really can't say. All I know is, I suddenly feel as if I'm embroiled in a plot with Moose and Squirrel. I've never met Boris and Natasha. Seriously!

Happy Birthday, Newton!

Today is this furry little monster's birthday. He is eleven years old. If I knew the conversion formula to cat years, I would share that information with you. Since he is now officially a basement dweller, I will be spending the greater part of the day with him while I begin painting the guest bedroom. I'll send Reid out for a celebratory can of tuna later. I'd poke eleven candles into it but they fall over. The poor structural integrity of tuna accounts for this, plus Newt isn't very good at blowing them out. I loves you, my tigercat! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Oh, Newt!

Four days. Newton managed to use the litter box for four days. If you count his perfect record while in lockup, he gets credit for fifteen days. What do you do with a perfectly healthy pet who poops on the rug in front of the patio door? I scolded him and put him back in lockout. This is so disappointing and frustrating, I have followed all the suggestions for making your cat comfortable with using the box from location to type of litter to baiting it with catnip. If anyone knows a reputable cat whisperer, please refer me. I think Newton is going to become a basement dweller. Because I love the miserable little bastard and can't imagine showing him the door forever. And it's his birthday tomorrow. He's eleven years old. And I forgot to buy him his favorite tuna. I feel like a terrible pet owner. Pardon me while I go check his food and rub his furry little belly.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Exhaustion With Beer

I have pulled weeds today. And planted marigolds, basil, cilantro, and sunflowers. That means one raised bed down, two to go. Plus the little bed for the mint. Because mint is not well behaved, it does not play well with other plants. It takes over and chokes out anything else that might want a little space in the sun and soil. So it gets it's own spot on the other side of the yard. With four metal pink flamingos for company. I need to call the guy who is going to haul a truckload of bark chips for me and see when he can deliver them. Xeriscaping, here I come! The current state of bleakness in the front yard will be transformed with the addition of Russian sage, a rock garden with solar lights and yarrow that blooms in a color called paprika, clumps of ornamental grass, and a shrub in the corner whose name escapes me now. Also a short stone walkway from my car to the front door. Because who take the long way when hauling grocery bags? A proper shortcut seems in order. The swingset is proving to be much more difficult to dismantle than I thought. Things are coming along, though, and this week I'll be in the market for tomato and raspberry plants. And I have decided to move these guys into a border around the flagstone patio. Just in case they turn out to be weeds, I will clip off and destroy any seed poufs before they are gone with the wind. As for the rest of the day, I am enjoying a bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale. If only the hammock had a space to be! Until then, my comfy chair and a movie will have to do. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Your Snortlaugh For Today

I'm certain covfefe is what they say in Elbonia when someone sneezes.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


1. At long last, the basement is dry.

2. Newton has been roaming the house for over 24 hours with no evidence of extracurricular peeing or pooping. 

3. I have repaired the mess in the laundry room where shelves and a hanging bar pulled free from the wall and crashed to the floor.

4. The mayor of Williston, North Dakota is an idiot, and has been since we were in the same sixth grade class.

5. Will keeping Newt's food and water near his litter box help him with continuing proper bathroom etiquette?

6. I need to buy a new rug and upholstery cleaning machine.

7. I have nine days to get the new guest room in shape in anticipation of Reid's girlfriend coming to visit.

8. June 1st has arrived so I expect it is now safe to buy tomato plants and get them in the ground.

9. The fairy garden is shaping up nicely, pictures soon.

10. The bills are all in from this incident. All I can tell from the comparison of estimated costs and the final out-of-pocket cost is that there is zero transparency in hospital billing. Reid has healed up quite nicely, though, thanks for asking.