Monday, February 28, 2011

Home again home again jiggy jig

I'm writing this post from 36k feet in the air. You would think that I would like flying but I actually don't. I might like it if there weren't so many people. Really, it's the huge amount of people that really makes me anxious - all stuffed into a tin can with no escape.

I started to write the above paragraph while on the airplane, but then we hit some pretty rocky turbulence and it made me a little woozy to be trying to focus on my computer while rocking around and I was afraid my coffee would spill on my husband's laptop.

Anyway, I realize that I like flying, but I don't like being crammed in with all those strangers. Even though the majority of my flights I've been on in my life have been very pleasant. I always end up talking to other passengers and finding them interesting and on some flights it's almost like a little party with people in the seats around us talking to us or their kids hanging over the seat to talk to our daughter. But I still in general do not like being "trapped" in such a smashed in space with so many people.

I'm glad to be back at our beautiful new house. I am still incredibly enamored with the area. I met another neighbor today because our daughters have become friends from riding the bus together. They are from Southern India and although Hindi is the national language they speak a different language ... whose name I can't remember nor can I pronounce correctly. That was interesting to learn there are so many languages in India - not dialects but completely different languages, depending on the state. Makes me think that folks in U.S. who complain about people not speaking English should realize how good we have it with most of the world speaking English thus making it easy for us to be lazy. Ahem. Anyhoo.

I experienced a new crime today called skimming. I work in Pioneer Square and park in a deep, dank, off-the beaten track place because it is cheaper (now that Seattle's mayor thinks it is realistic to charge $5 an hour for street parking because he thinks people should take mass transit instead ... sure, make it hard to park so you have to take transit - instead of actually *improving* transit so that it is more appealing and user-friendly... grumble ...) Ahem. Once again ... anyhoo ... I tried to put my debit card into the parking meter and it wouldn't go in. It was like there was glue or sand or something shoved in it. Earlier in the day I'd used it and it was fine so that was weird. So I went down the street and waited behind an appliance repair guy who was putting in quarters for his parking. Then I put my debit card in and it had the same, weird sandy/glue-like consistency, but my card did go in. But then it wouldn't come out. I tried hitting "cancel" but it was stuck. I tried pulling it out myself but it was stuck. No matter what I did my card was fastened in there like cement. So, I tracked down the repair guy who was just in front of me and asked him for pliers (which he handed to me with a perplexed look) and I managed to pull my card out, completely destroying it in the process. Luckily, I saw my boss out walking his dog and he loaned me the company credit card to pay for my parking at a meter back on the main street that worked fine.

I went back to the office and my co-worker told me that she and a couple volunteers and our boss's wife had all had their credit card information stolen in the last month and the only common denominator in the thefts was that the cards were credit cards they'd used in the parking meters by our office. So, I called the bank and had our debit cards canceled ASAP. I'm wondering if I should call the west precinct and have them check it out? Although they are so busy I doubt they'd have time since no actual crime happened.

It's about time to start thinking about veggie starts and where I'm going to put them inside. My co-worker is going to plant cauliflower and broccoli this year and I've never tried to grow them before so I think I will too and we can compare notes. Of course, I will do tomatoes and snap peas again because those are so yummy when they're fresh. I also got some window boxes for our bedroom window and I'm trying to decide what to put in there that would have an evergreen-type quality to it. I'm thinking lemon balm and heather to start. It's supposed to rain all week which is good motivation for me to finish unpacking and organizing inside, but I am looking forward to starting up on my spring gardens!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sun ... and horses as usual ...

We're down in AZ visiting my parents and I'm enjoying seeing so much sun. It's not very hot out because we came down about six weeks earlier than we usually do, but it is about 67 degrees on average which is much warmer than back home where it's snowing. Ok, I am bummed that we are gone the week that it actually is snowing back home! But at the same time we really needed a vacation after all the moving/extra work madness.

Yesterday my parents took my daughter and me to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show for the day. I literally felt "all a-flutter" when we got there. Horses and horse crazy people everywhere! I enjoyed watching the dressage classes. I've never seen dressage classes in person at that level. There were two men (older than me) who were amazing, although one of them didn't even place because he was too casual and not taking things seriously enough for the judges. The other man was taking it seriously and to no surprise took first place. There was a couple sitting next to me who came down just to look at the horses and I said that's what I do at home (only not at this level) and then proceeded to talk their ear off. I told them to watch the man who came in first because he was amazing and I was proud of myself for being able to pick out the best rider. All that paying close attention while watching lessons and all the reading I've been doing is starting to pay off!

I started reading a book about "real collection" with your horse because that has baffled me and it's been hard for me to see. But this time I was able to pick out one rider (who couldn't have been much better of a rider than me - she definitely seem more intermediate than advanced enough to be riding in this show). I could actually see how she was pulling her horse's head back really hard so that his neck was curved, but that's not real collection, because she was forcing his head and he kept putting his ears back and his mouth was obviously uncomfortable. I could definitely see the difference between her "false collection" and the first place winner's "real collection". I asked my mom later how she could riding in such a fancy show because I assumed that like Westminster Dog Show you had to qualify for the fancy shows. She said she was pretty sure that as long as you paid the entry fee you could ride in this show and that Scottsdale was so full of money some people would rather pay a lot of money and not be able to keep up than ride in smaller shows. I don't understand that way of thinking.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lost in the suburbs

I went to a girl's night get-together for women at my church last night. My church is way back in Seattle but we rotate whose house it's at and this one was at a woman's house in Redmond so I thought, "Great! It's on the Eastside - how convenient!". I did not take into account that there are places on the Eastside that are rural enough to not have streetlights and to have really bad signage. I got a little lost going there but managed to find it with only one major illegal u-turn on the 4-lane highway (with no cars on it thankfully!).

But then coming home at 10pm became a major issue when I tried to follow my directions there only backwards, took a wrong turn and ended up in Bellevue near the turn-off to Issaquah/Fall City which is extremely far South compared to where I live (up by Snohomish County). Much whining and swearing ensued and I pulled off on some dark, deserted road and studied my map until I figured out where I was and how to get back to where I wanted to be ... many many miles north. Thankfully, I had my latest audiobook with me. My husband and I are obsessed with Hamish McBeth stories right now but not in books, on audiobooks because the narration is so great in a heavy Scottish accent.

I'm starting to feel at home in our neighborhood. Some of the "wishing for familiarity" is starting to go away because things around here are starting to feel familiar. I'm also signed up to volunteer in my daughter's classroom one day a week which will help me feel more involved and less cut-off and wondering what her school is like.

I took my husband and daughter out to look at the stable close to her house to see if she wants to take lessons on the ponies there. Saturday is a very busy lesson day but it was almost completely empty except for one girl and her horse and the owner. Unfortunately, the trainer was gone for the long weekend. But my daughter liked the ponies and there is one little black Welsh pony that is for sale and my daughter immediately took to her and reached in to pet her. I've heard lots of stories that ponies are bratty so I was waiting for this one to do something like nip at her or push at her or just walk away, but instead she ducked her head down and let her pet her nose, then when my daughter stopped the pony very gently put her nose up against my daughter's hand and waited for her to start petting her again. So cute! Even my husband had a moment of thinking she was so cute! And she's for sale! Of course, who knows how she is on the ground being groomed and tacked up and who knows how she is to ride. She's only 5 years old so she's probably still very green. And too small for me to ride to get her in shape and get some experience into her. But my mind did start clicking on "How could I afford to buy her for my daughter???" Sigh. I think we'll just start with some consistent riding lessons on ponies before I get any wild ideas.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We are biohazard

I got that call that I knew we were going to get one of these days from the school nurse. My daughter has lice. Gah. It seems like every month we get the requesite "lice was found in your child's classroom" note so I figured we were next. What a pain in the ass. The fun thing I guess is that now both me and my daughter have very short hair. My husband is bald so he has nothing to worry about. If I were as cute as I was in my 20's I might very well have shaved my head today too just to not have to deal with any of this.

So, I picked the girl up from school and rather pleadingly asked the school nurse to show me what to look for because the girls has been scratching her head a lot the last week and I have looked and not found anything. I felt like a really bad mom when the nurse handed me a sticky note with a nit (lice egg) and actual lice taped to it. Of course, the lice is exactly the same color as my daughter's hair so that wasn't very helpful. She looked at my hair and didn't see anything but I can't imagine with all the snuggling I do with my daughter I could have escaped the wrath.

First thing we did was go to Supercuts to see if they would cut off mot of our hair for us (figuring they sterilize everything anyway). But no, when I told the girl at the front desk our plight she disappeared in the back and came back and said the general manager said we have to leave the premises immediately and could not even be in the building. Lovely. I probably would've been embarrassed but seeing as everyone and their child seems to bring home lice when groups of kids are involved (and lice are not a sign of being dirty and they don't carry diseases) I just gathered up the girl and came home. Where I proceeded to do my best to chop all our hair off. I actually did a good job on my daughter's hair and she has this cute little asymetrical bob that comes down to her ears and is cut only about a half inch long in back. I have the same haircut but it doesn't look as adorable on me as it does on her. And it was really tough to get the back even. Thank god for curly hair so those things don't show!

Then I spent a lot of time washing bedding, towels, etc. in hot water and spraying down cushions from the couch with nasty pesticide spray. I left them in the garage for the night and now it stinks like hell in there. I really fell of the green-bandwagon with this one. I went straight for the Rid. But we're getting on an airplane on Monday to go see my parents and I really don't want to show up with head lice. Which by the way is different than body lice. Good to know. I guess. It's kind of gross learning about lice.

Speaking of gross insect stories, for the last almost 16 years now, I have assumed that my husband was not at all bothered by spiders. I was supposedly the one who is scared of spiders because I always call him in to kill or dispose of the big ones (wow - one blog post and I've already talked about my rampant use of pesticides on my child and now about wantonly killing spiders ... I wonder if I have to give back my "Pesticide Free Zone" sign now even though I only used them on my child and not my garden?) Anyhoo ... so the other day I was making dinner and I look over and my husband has stooped down by the garage door and picked up a big, black wolf spider. There was that split second where I was looking at him with a baffled look on my face as he held up the spider and it was wriggling all over the place and I started to say, "Why are y..." and he screamed (=cough= like a little girl =cough=) threw it in the air and started jumping around waving his arms and doing a weird little dance screeching, "Oh my god! Oh my god! Soooo gross! Soooo gross!" He finally calmed down enough for me to ask, "Why did you pick up that spider???" and he said, "I thought it was a big piece of fuzz! I was going to throw it away!" Somebody really needs to be wearing their glasses.

Not a very good luddite

I got up this morning to find that our cable is down - which means no internet, no phone and no tv. The tv is not a big deal in the morning because having the tv on first thing in the morning really grates on me. But no internet is annoying for me because my morning ritual is to drink my coffee and read my google reader feed and my email. I tried to call the cable company but my cell phone doesn't work very well in our new house and I had a moment of thinking, "I can not in good conscience get too upset about this! Really - not a big deal to have all your little tech toys down!" Of course, then I remembered our neighbors unsecured wifi ...

Despite my homesickness day before yesterday, I had a much better day yesterday. I went to work in the morning and that always cheers me up, and in the afternoon I seemed to get a lot of "kid validation". My neighbors preschool daughter wanted me to pick her up and gave me a huge hug and then my other neighbors two kids who I was babysitting right after school got off the bus and both gave me big hugs. Those three things really made my day a little better. And I got an email back from my daughter's teacher and I'm on the schedule one morning a week to volunteer in class which will help me feel more connected with the school and like I know what is going on better.

Meanwhile, I've been picking up a strange dynamic from some people who live in the city. The minute I start to talk about how much I love it out here, instead of saying they're happy I found the right place for myself they immediately start telling me why the city is better and why I'm mistaken and will come to my senses one day. It's very odd. My gut feeling is that these are people who need to convince *themselves* that they are where they want to be and my wanting something different threatens them because they either don't really know what they want or they don't have the confidence to be secure in knowing what they want for themselves is valid even if it's different form other people. Maybe it's that Western culture mentality that if people aren't jealous of what you have then it's not good enough?

My closest (sanest?) friends say "I'm so happy for you. It's not for me, but I'm glad you found a great place for you." That is probably because I've gotten so old and cranky that I just don't have time for people who need to invalidate me in order to feel good about themselves and I just don't bother letting them very close to me. It makes me happy when people like our old neighbors can come out here and say, "This is lovely. I'm glad you found the perfect place for you. That's how we feel about where we live." Even though where they live is where we left. That shows me they have the strong enough sense of self to know just because it's not right for me doesn't mean it's not right or them and they don't have to freak out and make it an "I'm right - she's wrong" issue. Plus, it makes me happy to know my other friends are living where they feel most at home. It's really a whole different feeling about daily life to be living where one feels "they belong" as opposed to just where one is - especially when where one is doesn't feel like home.

Then of course, there are my old friends, many of whom moved to the suburbs years before I did - of course they see nothing wrong with not living in the city. It is weird how there is some unwritten "code of cool" about living in a city compared to the suburbs/country. Still trying to figure out what that's about. Your address or zip code doesn't define who you are - but then once again, that is the way of consumerist Western culture. Your car, address, clothes all define you - not who you really are.

This thinking about herd mentality and consumerist-mindsets and all that is just exacerbated by my starting to read The Panic Virus. I am fascinated by this issue because all of my life I have been drawn to anti-establishment/alternative ideas and many of my old friends are anti-Western medicine. I seem to be one of the few who tends to lean more toward established scientific evidence in medicine with a touch of naturopath on the side (there are some really great scientifically proven naturopathic remedies but that field does seem to have been inundated by quacks in the last ten years). I wonder if I had had kids back in the early 90's when I was in my early 20's if I would've not gotten them vaccinated and eschewed modern medicine - thus putting their health at risk? But even at my most "woo-woo" (once I stopped smoking pot and taking drugs) I was open to alternative ideas but I wanted some research and science behind it to make sure it was safe. So it's hard to say. Regardless, it's the well-educated people in their 30's and 40's now who write off science in medicine the same way Creationists write off science in the history of our planet, Earth that amazes me. I'm not sure this book will answer the sociological question for me of why otherwise sane, educated peers eschew science for conspiracy theories or if it will just maek me more confused by the human race. We will see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just a little relapse

I had another bout of homesickness today. Not for the city per se, but for familiarity. Logically, I know that I can still see my friends because I don't live that far away - it's not like we moved to Louisiana or something. And my BFF came up to have lunch with us on Sunday and she doesn't live in the city - she lives *south* of the city so she was far away before we moved up north.

Still, there is such a comfort for me in familiarity. I wonder if other people are like that and if it's a personality trait I was born with or if it comes from my parents living in the same place for 40 years so I never had to move as a kid? It's also ironic because after I moved out of my parent's house when I was seventeen I didn't live in the same place longer than six months, and even then that was a long time for me. Back then familiarity was horrifying to me. Hmmm ... sometimes I think back to who I was in my late teens and twenties and I only see the tiniest sparks of myself and I wonder how I could've been so different than I am now? I wonder what I would've been like if bad things hadn't happened to me and sent me into a decade-or-so tailspin? Although, sometimes I think that tailspin was necessary for me to be happy. I think even without bad things happening to me to knock me off kilter I had some sort of wild streak I had to get out. I couldn't have just been happy settling down with a nice neighborhood boy I'd known since kindergarten and just had a sane, drama-free life even if that sounds like it would've been a much better path to me nowdays.

So, back to me drama-free white bread life in the suburbs, I ordered a couple kits for cedar raised garden beds. I actually had to do some searching to find kits for plain ole cedar without it being treated or some sort of weird plastic-filled compressed wood that would outlive the plutonium waste at Hanford. Why would I want raised garden beds that will last a thousand years after me? I really have no plans to pass on the legacy of my suburban raised garden beds for generations to come. All while having bad chemicals leach into the soil my snap peas grow in. Anyway, I could've just bought cedar planks but then I'd have to cut them and figure out how to attach them together correctly and it's been way too long since 8th grade wood shop for me to have the confidence to do it all from scratch. Plus, we don't have a decent saw yet. Although I finally bought myself a tool belt today.

I'll leave you with this beautiful song that reminds me of who I was during my tailspin years.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little time to relax

I'm nearing the end of the extra work from our big fundraiser at work so I foresee a little time to relax next week. We're not even remotely done unpacking so before relaxing there will be unpacking of course.

This morning I went out to ride my horse and was a little disappointed to find that my instructor was out of town because I finally had time for a lesson. But I had a good practice ride. For the second time ever I cantered on Girlfriend completely without stirrups! I only started to slide off when she slowed down because her trot is so bouncy. I felt bad for her because I started to slide to the left and instantly braced myself with the right rein which must not have felt good. I really need to work on using my body for balance and not instinctively pulling the reins for balance. As soon as I did it I caught myself and stopped, but I need to work on it being second nature to use my body not my hands for balance. Needless to say my back is killing me and my inner thighs are already sore. Now that work is slowing down I'm hoping to get out to ride her a minimum of three days a week and start getting back in shape.

I talked to the teenagers a lot more today because one of them was seriously hurt last week and I wanted to make sure they were all ok. SG was sitting her horse's feed trough and her horse came over, nudged her face then bit her lower lip off. I know that her horse was just being a horse and he is already so food obsessed I'm almost positive he was being territorial of his food trough, but that doesn't make it any less of a horrifying experience. Luckily, her friend, B. was coming down the hill and heard SG screaming and knew enough first aid to keep her ok until an ambulance showed up. I wanted to make sure B. was ok and she seemed to be handling it well. Her friend, E. was probably most upset - she took school off to spend the day with SG yesterday and is very empathetic so she was struggling. I keep thinking of SG's mom and how upset she must be. And how much it must have hurt. So, I will take from this lesson that my daughter must never sit in her horse's trough.

This afternoon we went back into town (read: Seattle) to take our daughter to a party, then went to pick up the last of our stuff in storage and stop by our old library to return some overdue books, pay our fines and see my friend, D. who is one of the librarians at that branch. We passed the usual contingent of career homeless alcoholics (read bums) who hang out in front and they were being loud and obnoxious as usual. But as we were leaving one of them stormed past me yelling, "And I can use the bathroom any damn time I want - aaaaaashole!" Then he proceeded to join his clan and start yelling about what fascists the rich librarians were, then started kicking garbage cans and screaming. Yay. I miss living in the city so much. Dang.

We had actually just come from our old house because the new owners left some hardware that had gotten left behind on the back porch for us and I was afraid I was going to get homesick seeing the old house and the old neighborhood. But any homesickness I had was quickly banished by the scene at the library - which some version or another has happened every time I've been there in the last year. Really, I just miss seeing my friends and neighbors, but otherwise I don't miss the city at all.

I am off to bed here in a few minutes. And it's a little hard to type because I accidentally sliced my forefinger open yesterday on my right hand and now that it's injured I'm realizing just how much I use that finger. It was a weird thing, finger tips for one thing tend to bleed a lot, but I felt it when it happened, it just didn't really hurt so I figured I'd just grazed it. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I looked down and realized there was blood running down my finger and I'd gotten blood on the box I was cutting open. It still didn't hurt though, but I ran upstairs anyway to wash it with cold water and put a band-aid on. Once I washed it out I saw what a long cut it was and it would not stop bleeding unless I had direct pressure on it so I hoped I wouldn't need stitches - which it turns out I didn't. But that's when it started to hurt. And then it hurt really badly for a little while until I loosened the bandage and took some ibuprofen. I'm not really sure what that was about. Even when I went to bed last night it was still throbbing. But I'm not sure why it took a few minutes before it hurt? I really have no theory on that. Normally I would say "shock" would cause someone to not feel pain, but I wasn't in shock and it wasn't even remotely a bad enough cut to be in shock. I may have to research that and see if I can figure out what caused the five minutes or so lapse in feeling pain.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My pitbull is a delicate flower

My pitbull is very sensitive both emotionally and physically. She has very short hair and gets sunburns on her face in the summer if I don't put sunscreen on her nose and ears. And she has allergies that manifest as hives and her feet itching and swelling around her claws. I took her to the vet today because she had hives and some of them got infected again.

So, now I need to give her two benadryl capsules twice a day and two antibiotic capsules twice a day. And the only food she can eat is a special hypoallergenic food so that we can see after a few weeks if it is a food allergy. This of course poses a special problem for me - the food she's eating is dry food and normally if I have to give her a pill I just stick it in some peanut butter or a piece of meat. But since she's not allowed to eat anything else I had to just give her the pills straight. I realized that now that I've lost weight she weighs half as much as I do - which is a lot for a dog who is pure muscle.

I figured out a good strategy though. If I kneel down with my right leg behind her butt so I'm not quite standing over her but she still can't back up, and by left arm around around her chest so she can't go forward and my right arm over her back and coming around her head at the right side so she can't go to the side, it's a bit easier. Ok, so she is strong enough that the first time I tried she just knocked me over to get away, but the second time when I was very firm with her that she wasn't allowed to do that I succeeded.

It's hard to get her mouth open because her jaws are so big but there is a spot where the temporal mandibular joint (or at least what would be that if she were a human) is that if I press on it it automatically makes her open her jaws. Then I as quickly as possible try to shove the pill down her throat as fast as I can before she closes her mouth, then I hold her mouth shut while gently petting her throat until I know she's swallowed. Which can take awhile and the first time she started foaming at the mouth because she was stubbornly refusing to swallow. Then I give her some of the dry food as a treat. Then I do it again three more times. I was covered with dog slobber this evening after that ordeal. And I have a whole week of doing this twice a day to go.

Meanwhile, I did a little bit of unpacking today but there still is soooo much to do. I'm tired of not knowing where stuff is and living amongst clutter and stacks of boxes. Tomorrow I'm debating going to ride my horse or working on unpacking. I know that's kind of a crazy decision - I should decide to ride my horse. But living like this is starting to stress me out. Our room is kind of unpacked and only has two boxes sitting against a wall so I keep wanting to just stay in there. The living room, dining room and kitchen are overwhelming me. I keep reminding myself this is temporary. I have a feeling I am going to go into obsessive mode and just unpack all day. At least our bookshelves arrived today. That will help get some boxes emptied out. Ugh. Clutter stresses me out so much. Which I imagine is kind of weird in the grand scheme of things. I would analyze it but I am way too tired.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

placebo effect

I'm starting to feel very burned out from the last two weeks of "rushing". Today I'm hoping to completely finish processing paperwork from the event last Friday and finally get a chance to start really unpacking. It does not help that a good half our stuff is still in boxes and I don't know which box has my sunglasses and I had to dig through a bunch of boxes last night to find my stack of "books I want to read" so that I could relax and read a book before going to sleep. Of course by the time I found my stack I could barely keep my eyes open so I barely got to read. And then I had trouble going to sleep because I was stressing about how much stuff I have to do.

I started reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I know that technically he is probably considered a journalist, but his writing is so well done that non-fiction takes on the drama and nuance of fiction and is never dry or just a list of facts. I got hooked on him after reading What the Dog Saw, which is one of my favorite books.

The intro to Outliers is about a town in Pennsylvania that has a very low rate of heart disease and related health issues. The conclusion that the researchers came to (although I imagine it wasn't that scientific because how you could take out all the variables?) was that the close-knit community and the common goodwill was what contributed to the good health of the residents. I do think there is something to be said for that. I am constantly amazed by how quickly people in hip, urban areas are willing to take on a persona marketed by advertisers who being independent and not needing anyone else. That sounds awful to me. And unhealthy. But it is very popular.

One of the things I like about our new neighborhood is that I hear the phrase a lot "Just come knock on my door" from the new neighbors. And "Oh, you're new here - we'll have you over for dinner." A lot of the families in this neighborhood seem to really like the idea of knowing each other and being a part of each others lives - kind of like a small town. I had been worried about "the suburbs" being full of people behind closed doors and not wanting to talk to anyone else. And I think there are suburbs like that - probably more so than not. But I think we're really lucky to have found this particular cul-de-sac because I think knowing and being involved in the lives of ones neighbors is so important.

I've also been thinking about stuff like the placebo effect. Back in massage school I took an elective course in Reiki and part of me was really interested and part of me was really resistant because there is no science behind it what-so-ever and what there is, is psuedoscience - twisting scientific theory to fit a spiritual mold and not really pulling it off.

But when I took the course it really worked. And when I did a Reiki session of my husband (the ultimate skeptic) it really worked. And I am guessing that what we are experiencing in the placebo effect. In this case the placebo effect of human touch and the undivided attention of another human placed on us for a set period of time. How often does that happen nowdays? How often do you have someone's complete undivided attention? Usually the person I'm talking with is checking their phone or looking something up on the computer or driving or thinking about paying some bills or looking at the clock to see if it's time to pick the kids up from school. I'm usually thinking about two things at once myself. So, even though Reiki may not be at all what it says it is (life flowing energy coming in through the open channels to universal healing energy) it does have value because it forces two people to be quiet, not think about anything in particular and share physical touch and give each other undivided attention (in a non-sexual way which is even more rare to have that in a non-sexual way). And that by itself can be healing if you look at the Roseto Effect.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finally sitting down

I'm exhausted after the rush of moving and the rush of getting through our big fundraiser last Friday. I felt like I had a lot to write about but every time I sat down I honestly was just too tired to write. Friday took a lot of energy and there was one point where a SNAFU arose in my tracking system and guests were starting to arrive where I literally looked at a pile of messed up folders and papers and could not stop myself from muttering, "Sh*t! Sh*t! Sh*t! Sh*t!" Luckily, B. (my second in command) said, "Ok, everyone just give J. her space so she can fix this! Don't talk to her and don't ask her anything until she'd done and just leave her alone!" The sad irony is the problem arose because I asked a co-worker to take over some of the processing because of moving stuff I had to do and it messed up my system - because in cases like this "my system" is usually complex enough that only I really understand it unless I have time to go over all the fine details - which I didn't have time for. So, if I do this again I will not doing in the middle of moving to another city!

In all, Friday's event went well. A lot of people showed up and we got a lot of positive feedback. One of the lawyers that supports our cause actually bought my two novels that we were auctioning off - that made me feel good. I was dragging some of our biggest supporters (just because I know them) over to the table to try and convince them to buy my books but I didn't actually think any of them would! One of the government workers (he calls himself an "evil bureaucrat") who came was joking about wanting to collaborate on a book with me about him being the front man for me so I don't ever have to do readings - and actually, I've been thinking about it and that could actually be a really fun story. I may start making notes on that.

I've been getting interesting feedback on my asphalt soil (as it is now called ... even thought technically it really is clay and not asphalt but it's hard to tell the different when you're trying to dig in it). Raised beds and cover crops have been the best advice so far. My friend, Bill suggested a rototiller until I explained how truly concrete-like it is and how many rocks there are. Bill's wife suggested removal in the planting area and replacement with amended soil - which is my plan. It's just the digging of the hole that is a stumbling point for me. My husband suggested a pick axe and I think that might be our best route. I'm going to plant hearty plants like heather and lavender in the front, but I do need to get my tree planted soon. In the back I'm definitely going for raised beds for the vegetables and pots for the bamboo. And raised beds for the wine grapes too.

There is an area on the side of our house that I'm going to plant blueberries, raspberries and domestic blackberries and I know those are hearty enough to do well in amended soil, but once again there will be lots of digging to get the soil to the point where it can be amended so that is going to be my challenge. But I really want to plant those in that area because it's an easy access for the neighborhood kids to stop by and pick berries without feeling like they're coming into our yard. I liked at our old house having raspberries in the planting strip because it was fun to watch the neighborhood kids pick them to snack on when they were walking by.

I haven't been out to see my horse very often yet because I've been so insanely busy. This morning I'm dressed to go but I'm so exhausted and PMS-y that I haven't decided if I'm up to it or not. Plus, I still have left-over work to get done from the event that needs to get done by tomorrow probably. Sigh. And a ton of unpacking. I'm getting tired of living amongst boxes and not knowing where things are.

I did get to go out and ride her for a bit on Saturday even though I was also exhausted and had only had five hours of sleep. We still have the challenge of me sitting through her canter without bouncing. Even when I relax my legs and am not standing in the stirrups I can feel my butt bouncing literally right up out of the saddle and of course then slamming back down on her back. I know there is a way I can just flow with the bounciness of her canter I just haven't quite got there yet. So, that is taking a lot of work. And it's good for my core. If I can find the time my plan is to start up pilates again.

After going to ride my horse I stopped by another stable that is even closer to my house because my daughter wants to start taking lessons on a regular basis, but she wants to take them on "ponies that are her size". She wants to be able to tack up the pony by herself and she's way to small to tack up a full size horse. She can barely brush a full-size horse because she's so short she can't reach their backs. And she can pick up their hooves to pick out, but I imagine it's really heavy to pick up a hoof that is practically as wide as you are. So, I had IH with me (our babysitter and adopted teenager) and we went out to see the stable and the ponies and meet the instructor. Of course we swooned over the ponies who were so cute and tiny! I really wanted to buy her a pony but we just can't afford one right now along with my horse. Of course, at this stable there was a tiny little black Welsh pony for sale that was to die for. But unless I get a new job with a few more hours where I don't have to worry about if we'll stay afloat to pay me, that's not going to happen any time soon. So, I need to make an appointment for her first lesson soon and she'll be all set with tiny ponies and a new pink Troxell helmet. Yes, there will be photos!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The ultimate off-grid

I was just reading an article about this group in the Amazon Forest. I'm trying to wrap my head around a group of people who have never had contact with Western lifestyles and what that must be like. No consumerism, or taxes or complaining about not getting cell phone service in their new house. No idea what cars are, or what planes are. Do they know that the planes flying over taking photos of them have humans in them or are they just big silver war birds? What is their language like?

I was also recently reading an article in Scientific American about how the language people speak from birth actually affects their perceptions of the world, and dictates much of the societal norms of their culture (or vice versa on the last part - maybe it reflects the societal norms? It's a chicken/egg thing). For example, Spanish speakers do not say "He broke the vase" they say "The vase broke." Or "He was throwing his ball in the house and the ball broke the vase." Studies done on natives from South American countries showed that when they witnessed someone purposely break something, they had just as a good of a memory of which person broke the object as their English speaking neighbors in the U.S., but when someone accidentally broke something they were far less likely to remember which person caused the accident than their English speaking neighbors from the U.S. even though they remembered clearly what broke and how it broke.

So, I've been thinking about that too. And it's gotten me thinking about how we talk to our children. I have always talked to my daughter like she is a little adult. I've never used "baby talk" even when she was a baby because it annoyed me. And I figured she wouldn't learn sentence structure and correct enunciation anyway if I said, "Does da wittle baby wanna cwookie" or something like that that would make me want to gag anyway. I've had people comment on how well-spoken and advanced her vocabulary is because I just say stuff to her I'd say to my friends and if she doesn't know what a word means I just tell her. I wonder if that helps her in learning all around? I do think it gives her more confidence to have more words to use when she's trying to express herself. Sometimes it's so hard to get across what one is thinking it is really helpful to have a huge arsenal of words handy.

Tonight is the big annual event at work and then hopefully things will calm down after the big move/and the big event. I've gotten to that point emotionally where I feel like it is just going to be what it is going to be and there's not much else I can do about it and stressing won't help. I've prepared as best I can, I've asked for a lot of input from knowledgeable people, my co-workers have kicked ass working on preparations and I have some great volunteers lined up. It will turn out as it's meant to turn out and I'm not going to stress about it. I was starting to feel really freaked out and controlling about how it had to be perfect for my first attempt at organization the financial aspect of this sort of event, but now I realize it can't be perfect - even if I had a lot of experience. And I'm feeling burned out from how busy and rushed I've had to be. So, I'm taking the attitude that it will be just fine. People will have fun and I'll get to dress up and they're feeding us staff and volunteers free pizza. It's guaranteed to be fine with those factors.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Surely someone has a backho I can borrow

One of the things it did not occur to me to look at is what the ground underneath the mulch in our yard is like. Sure, I was prepared for it to not be the best soil. Our dirt at the old house was mostly clay and sand. I decided to take a much needed break from unpacking and preparing for the big, annual fundraiser at my work tomorrow (which I fear may kick my ass ...) by planting the Mountain Ash that I brought with me from our old house.

So, I go out with my gloves and shovel and tell my husband (who was home grappling with the clusterfuck that is Comcast Cable ... despite a perfectly competent technician who was crippled by the incompetency of the admin. portion of the business). Anyway, I announced I was going out to plant a tree to try and relax. I get out there, try to take out a shovel full of dirt so I can remove one of the generic/unflowering plants but in the builders five years ago and the shovel clanks and doesn't go more than an inch into the dirt. That is weird, I think. Must be a really shallow root. So I try again. Every where I try to dig the shovel clanks and won't go further than an inch. I start scraping away topsoil and mulch and see that my yard - underneath a find layer of topsoil/mulch is pure, solid gray clay pack. Or more accurately - concrete. This picture (from somebody else's blog) is what my yard would look like if you took away the inch layer of topsoil. I'm wondering how any plants are actually growing in it.

My husband came outside to heckle me for a little bit and I told him he shouldn't laugh because I am going to employ him to be the one to do the digging. I was going to plant a bunch of new plants in the yard (all flowering ones - like heathers, lavender, azaleas, maybe a rhododendron) but we'd have to dig a lot of holes and it and I never succeeded in digging a hole for my tree. I got about two inches down and my back was killing me and I was starting to get an RA flare-up in my shoulders and hands so I had to stop. That's when it occurred to me that we need a backho. Especially because over in a corner by our porch, there is place where the water runs off a weird section of gutter and creates a big puddle, and I think it'd be cool to put a little water garden there. It's also right next to an outdoor outlet so we could put in a pump and everything and make it look really nice. But I am not going to dig three feet down in that clay crap. I don't think I'm physically capable of doing that.

So, new gardening challenge! Luckily, we had already decided on doing raised beds for the vegetable garden this spring. And the area by the porch where I'm going to plant wildflower seeds (there are already daffodil bulbs so I'm going to plant some summer wildflowers to keep the color in that area longer) will work fine because wildflowers do well in rough soil. If I can get some holes dug, there are specific soil conditioners, like types of compost that I could fill in to put in my new plants. I just have to figure out some toil I can use other than a shovel (or my poor husband) that will enable me to get those holes dug. Must research. I do think a small backho would be awesome.

Meanwhile, I haven't gotten to spend more time with my horse like I am hoping to even though I live so close now. All of my time has been going to unpacking and working extra hours to get stuff ready for the big even we're having for my work tomorrow. I'm in charge of everything financial, collecting and tracking and processing donation and sales and making sure I get all that information from the guests at the event. I've never done run the financial end of something like this before so I've had to meet with a couple people who have done that to learn how to do it, then I have had to set up the entire protocol and procedure and find volunteers to help me and train them. Sigh. I've been making a lot of spreadsheets to track stuff. And writing out lists of procedures, then realizing that there is a stumbling block I need to figure out how to get around *before* the event starts. It's a lot of work. But it will be a great addition to my resume if I can actually pull it off! And it feels good to be trusted with this much responsibility and it's nice to try something new - usually I'm the back room girl crunching numbers by myself but there is a lot more managerial work in this task so that's new and challenging.

I've met some of the people in my new neighborhood now too so I don't feel quite so lonely like I was starting to feel here in our first week. After a couple days here I was feeling a little homesick for my neighbors in the city but I've met four families on our block and even hung out a bit with one mom who I've really hit it off with, and my daughter has already had a playdate with her daughter and has a new buddy literally one house away so that's really nice. I'm surprised how friendly and open the people I've met have been so far. It's just like the street we left in Seattle where I knew almost everyone and could hang out on the front porch in summer and people would stop as they were walking by and hang out and chat. I am so relieved to have found a similar, friendly community! And we love this new house. I don't think I can adequately express how much we love this new house. Other than the crappy clay soil it is the perfect house for us and already feels like home.