Friday, November 21, 2008

Snuggled up here at home with Maggie and the cats, while Marty is out serving the decorating whims of the local priest (dubbed "The Pope" by his parishioners). Marty has been painting, wallpapering, buffing, etc. at the rectory for months on end now. The man cannot make up his mind about anything and keeps adding on to the job. I learned last night that last week Marty actually painted his claw foot tub gold. Who needs a golden tub, I ask...unless you are the pope...or a whore...or the pope's whore...?(I'm referring to the Popes of old now.) The man is so lazy he actually asked Marty to send him up a fork on his chair lift. And I heard that he heats up spaghetti on his George Foreman grill. Poor Marty.
Maggie's birthday was great. But she's been kind of a bee-yotch ever since... She was pitching a fit about some dumb thing the other day and I said "You poor little girl---it must be hard being eight." And she shrieked out "It was hard being seven too!!!!!!!!" LOL. I'm so looking forward to the PMS years---not.
The weather can't make up it's mind today---sunny, then overcast with snow showers. But damn cold and going down into the teens tonight and tomorrow night. I try to get out and feed the birds first thing every morning---I figure they need all of the resources they can get to withstand the cold. One of our favorite things to do is to look out the bedroom window and see 5 or 6 bright red cardinals sitting all plumped up in the quince bush. It's hard to stay glum with that view.
Nothing else comes to mind, so I'll sign off now. Stay warm!
Almost know when you start getting old and weird things just start happening like strange hairs popping up and your body falling apart?...Well, we're playing Uno last night and I'm trying to shuffle the whole deck at once when suddenly I sustain a shuffle-ending middle finger knuckle sprain. I literally could not shuffle and had to pass the deck over to Marty. How pathetic is that?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Taking a break from cleaning. I'm trying to get everything scrubbed up good before Pie's big birthday bash in ten days. A thankless task given the amount of sawdust and drywall dust constantly accumulating everywhere. I've lived in a reno so long now I don't think I remember what it's like to live in a normal house. Whatever normal is.
Right now the focus is on Pie's giant room. Marty finished a set of built-in bookshelves in one of her little alcoves, so we had the pleasure of actually moving some of her belongings upstairs the other day. We did a rough count and found we moved just over 200 books. We figure that's about half of her collection, so my baby is a bookworm for sure :) She's been enjoying herself climbing up the stairs to her very own space and playing library with her dolls. She's got eclectic taste in literary fare---everything from A Series of Unfortunate Events to Dora lift-the-flap books....
I listen to a lot of music during my chores-ing...found a station that plays music from the 80's, 90's and now. You all know I'm an 80's girl at heart, so I'm in my glory on Saturday nights when they play all 80's :) Over the summer, I got an unexpected call from my friend Sandy's (she died in September 2006) husband. He has a new girlfriend and was cleaning out the rest of Sandy's stuff and wanted to know if I wanted her tapes. I've known about the girlfriend for quite some time---they hooked up within a few months after Sandy died. More on that later. But of course I gratefully said yes. They brought them a few weeks later, and I listened to them non-stop for many memories of sleepovers and playing music into the wee hours of the morning...Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Big Country... I felt sad that no one else was interested in this part of her life---music was a HUGE part of Sandy---but selfishly glad at the same time that I had the opportunity to inherit all of these things. He gave me several Big Country DVDs as well. I figure no one else ever watched them, so I handle them carefully, because if you look at them in the light you can still see her fingerprints. I know that probably sounds really weird, but I miss her so much that I cling on to every little thing.
Meeting the girlfriend was hard. Especially since she looks very much like Sandy. It's just hard for me because to me, Sandy is irreplaceable and I take the fact that she is being replaced personally. I know that is probably wrong, but so be it. I know he went through a lot during her illness and deserves to be happy. It's just hard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Historical times in America. The last two presidential elections were hard on me, so I was afraid to let hope burn too brightly in this one. Politics and wily Republican ways aside, I quite honestly wasn't sure if America was ready to elect an African-American president. If you think about it in the historical sense, the sixties were not that long ago. When we moved down here (originally) in the mid-70's, there was still a "colored" church and one street was remembered as "colored row". I've found out recently that a sparsely populated section of the cemetery across the road was the "colored section". There was a "colored" school as well, though that was gone by then. We have generations of people voting for whom that was the norm. That worried me. I guess we'll never know to what extent race played a part here in WV or in the other Southern states, but I'm cynical enough to have strong suspicions. I'm just glad it didn't matter in the long run and I'm proud to be living in these times and sharing them with my little girl.
I thought Obama's acceptance speech was one of the most moving and inspirational I have seen. And we determined that Democrats are better huggers---LOL.
P.S. McCain won WV, but Obama won my county so I am consoled by that:)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To quote "The Golden Girls" (which I hope to never do again), I'm as nervous as a virgin at a prison rodeo today. Haven't been to vote yet---will go as soon as Marty gets home from work---but I'm chomping at the bit. It's going to be a looooong day.
The Steelers won last night, which means the Redskins lost, which supposedly means that Obama is going to win today. Who knew?
But on to more important topics...We were watching Nickelodeon last night and heard Dora the Explorer referred to as "The Greatest Explorer the World Has Ever Known!" Huh? Dora can't even find her way from her house to the library without a magical map and the assistance of a monkey and a legion of preschoolers...
Which makes me think of Dubya again...saw some of the scariest political commercials yet during the football game. One depicted a person driving a car when whose mug should mystically appear in the mirrors---Dubya. I would just pull over and seek a priest to exorcise the car at that point. It was like a bad Sci-Fi channel movie (and they have some really bad movies, don't they?) I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares. Seriously, you all know I haven't been a big fan of the Bush presidency, but I kind of feel sorry for the guy at this point. Even his own party doesn't want him around anymore.I'm sure it's not the legacy he intended for himself.
Oh well, enough babble. Happy Voting!

Monday, November 3, 2008

So Halloween has come and gone... The trick-or-treating was a huge success, and Maggie's cauldrons, pumpkins and tote bags overfloweth with candy. She was a sugar freak all weekend and only got crabby a few times when she started to come down from her sugar high. Her candies of preference are Reese's Cups, Hershey Bars and Kit Kits. She scorns anything with caramel or nuts, so that's where Mommy comes into the picture, getting all of those pesky Snickers and peanut M & M's out of her way.
We trick-or-treated here on Friday evening. They only give you an hour to get to every one's door, which might seem like a lot in a town this size---but not if you're related to half the inhabitants and have to take time to shoot the breeze. I can see why my dad said he had to leave the state to put branches on the family tree---LOL. On Saturday the businesses in the nearest big little town gave out treats, so we trucked her out for that as well. Not as fun---the candy-dolers were rather stingy and seemed as if they'd rather be anywhere else but where they were, and the grown-ups were more frightening than the kids, even sans costumes. They must have drifted in from all the surrounding hollows much like they do at fair time. I swear I heard banjo music faintly on the breeze...
Our biggest laugh came from the fact that the local smoke store was passing out, what else, candy cigarettes! I'm not proud to say that I'm a smoker, but even I have to wonder how these things have made it under the radar of political correctness all of these years. Then I started to think about the bubblegum cigars and the bubble gum tobacco of my youth and wondering if they still make those as well? Marty and I had a good time reminiscing about our favorite childhood candies after Maggie went to bed (or passed out, I should say). I was a big fan of those little wax bottles with the juice inside. Bottle Caps and wax lips were also among my favorites. Neccos were good value for the money because if you rationed them out you could satisfy your sugar jones for a long stretch. I also remember eating a lot of Charleston Chew candy bars which were about a foot long at the time. Marty spoke highly of something called a Flying Saucer which he described as having the consistency of the Host on the outside and tasty candy beads on the inside. What was your candy of choice as a rug rat? I loved to trick-or-treat because that was the only time of the year you ever got that volume of candy. I can remember eating mine almost immediately, after which my more prudent little sister would sell me some of hers at highly inflated prices. LOL.
Steeler football tonight, election day tomorrow... I'm nervous about both. The Steelers are 5-2; how's your favorite team faring? I'm cautiously hopeful about the election, but whatever the results, at least we can finally send Dubya off to Texas to draw his memoirs...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Maggie is totally psyched, of course. These last eight hours of waiting are going to be torture for her... We went for the "store-boughten" costume this year (been watching too much Beverly Hillbillies)---a "Midnight Witch", deep blue crushed velvet with a sheer black overlay. Without the hat and with her long blond hair she looks more like Stevie Nicks than anything frightening---all she needs are the platform boots:)
Cold, but sunny today. I woke up to find one of my geraniums has bloomed. I took the time to re-pot them and bring them in this year because I love red geraniums and thought they would be cheery during the dull days of fall and winter. It did give me quite a boost when I saw the bright red bloom first thing this morning. It's the little things...
Does anyone else get the ladybug invasion in the fall? My house right now is overrun with spiders and ladybugs(or Asian imitations of ladybugs). I don't have the heart to kill unless the bug happens to be of the bloodsucking variety, so I tend to just relocate the little buggers to out of the way corners of the house (like behind the washing machine). Not very Good Housekeeping of me, I'm sure. Speaking of good housekeeping, I saw a commercial the other day for a sponge that has grooves in the side to protect your manicure while you are scrubbing. Is this really necessary? And what is a sports pedicure? So many questions, so little time...
Reading a highly entertaining book right now--- The Year of Living Biblically:One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs. If you've ever read the Bible, you can probably imagine some of the predicaments involved. One of my favorite parts so far was when his menstruating wife deliberately sat on all the seats in the house, so that they would be "unclean" and he would be unable to sit down:)
Should go and get on with the day. Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catching Up

I rarely have a moment to write, and when I do, I seem to be afflicted with writer's block, or, even worse, thinkers block. I think it's a lack of "alone time". I never have time to ponder much more than what to make for dinner, what chores need to be done, and all the endless details of home and family... Hell, I can't even go to the bathroom by myself, let alone have a philosophical moment.
It's snowing today, the first snow of the season. I awaited it yesterday with all the eagerness of a child, peering out the door glass, waiting for the first flake. The leaves are falling at a rapid pace, revealing the bare bones of trees, the nests of the summer past. The summer birds have long gone, and the winter birds have moved in. Juncos flit about making their funny little sounds. Goldfinches and chipping sparrows glean the Joe Pye and goldenrod seeds. We let part of the yard go as a meadow of sorts and it's very popular with the little birds. The dogwood berries went quickly---for a few days it was a Who's Who Among Birds---waxwings, robins, bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, flickers, starlings, etc. Now I'm waiting for the first time I step out and hear the clear, sweet, wavering song of the white-throated sparrow... Had the rare pleasure the other day of watching a young great blue heron in the creek below the house, walking slowly through the low leaf-covered water as if he hadn't a care in the world. The list of birds I've seen here has grown to 54 different species. My most recent additions were the yellow-rumped warbler and a young yellow-bellied sapsucker. I'm always on the look-out for something new, but continue to enjoy my old friends as well. You never know what they might do next. Late one afternoon I looked out and saw a cardinal "anting" on the big rock in the side yard, grasping ants in his beak and rapidly dabbing them under his wings... There's always entertainment about if you take the time to look for it.
My days are a whirl of looking at the world around me, home caring, homeschooling, listening to music, constantly adjusting to the changes in the house and trying to make a haven for us all in the chaos of reconstruction. Lately it's been furnace installation and insulation. Next, I guess, will be drywalling Maggie's room. I can't wait to move her little self and all her little toys up into one space, instead of in every room in the house.
Maggie is homeschooling at the second grade level now, having gotten rave reviews for her 1st grade portfolio. She's still interested in everything, reads a great deal on her own, and constantly surprises me with her grasp of math. Definitely didn't inherit that from me. She still loves HGTV and I predict a great future as an interior designer, real estate agent or home stager.Every time I watch House Hunters I think I should be more like their real estate agents---no matter what godawful feature of the house they are looking at, the agent always has something positive to say, or just moves on to the next great feature. I think if I could acquire that skill to redirect, it would serve me well, in life, in marriage, everywhere:)
What else? I lost weight and found it again. I chopped my hair off to give the gray a chance to catch up with the not gray. I'm crinkling (that's a nice way to say I'm getting old---LOL). I finally got to grow an herb garden---basil, dill, parsley, oregano, sage, lavender and lemon balm. I'm thinking of expanding it next year, and nixing the parsley---not big parsley eaters here. In fact I thought the damn stuff would be dead by now, but it's still kicking around. The house shows slow but steady progress. I hoard design ideas in a notebook---some day the building will be done and I can begin the "purtification" process. Marty and I haven't killed each other yet. The cats are alive and annoying as ever.
Life is good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Just a quick check-in, cuz I've got a million chores to do as usual:)

Beautiful day yesterday---up above 70---heavenly... We all decided to play hooky, and headed out to Valley Falls State Park and Tygart Lake. Valley Falls was especially gorgeous, with huge boulders, hiking trails, and the river spilling over the falls.It was nice to take a break from everything and just get outdoors and spend time together having fun. I'm hoping we can get away at least once a month and enjoy some of the abundant beauty WV has to offer. We like to camp, so I think we can do some long weekends pretty inexpensively. Definitely something to look forward to, when we're stuck in the grind of work, school, chores and renovations:)

Speaking of renovations, we now have drywall throughout the bathroom, and Marty built the shower walls this weekend. It's slowly getting more civilized:)

Outside, the daffodils are popping up. I was so thrilled last week to find them...signs of life after a long winter:) What's popping up in your part of the world?

Gotta run and be a responsible adult...yeah, right;)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I just woke up and my brain is not fully functioning yet, but I don't see why that should prevent me from pecking out an entry.

It's damn cold here. My thermometer says it's below zero and I am longing for Spring more than ever. Winters are always rough for us. Marty's work tends to be seasonal and it's difficult to establish work in a new place, but we're hanging in there. A friend loaned us an electric furnace for the winter, and the SOB costs a friggin fortune to run. It's running right now and, while I'm thankful for the warmth, I can't help but think about the enormous electric bill we're going to have (we've had some real doozies already). Oh well, this too shall pass, or so I keep telling myself...

The last few days have been peaceful and pleasant, with Valentine's Day, my Dad's birthday and my parents' 42nd anniversary. We were dirt poor, and they are in a perpetual state of decluttering, so we ruled out your standard gifts. Pie wrote them each a note: "Grandma is very nice. She likes to read. I like to go to the book sale. She saves me books. I love her.", and "Grandpop is very nice. He likes to fish and grow vegetables. I like it when he cooks me dippy eggs and pancakes. He gives me tooth money. I love him." I especially like the part about the tooth money. Every time you turn around, Pie has a tooth dropping out---I think she's up to 8 now, but we may be in a lull for a while. All she has to do is walk up to grandpop and smile a newly gap-toothed grin and out comes the wallet and a five dollar bill.

We also made up a coupon that entitles them to the "Goody of the Month Club", wherein Pie and I will bake them a homemade treat every month. They like to eat, so that was a winner. One thing about being poor---it forces you to be creative. I think the homemade gifts are nicest anyway:)

Aside from the festivities, we've mainly been huddled up, plugging away at our schooling, doing a little home improvement, watching stupid tv...waiting for Spring... Pie and I are reading Little Women.We tried it once before, but she was too little and lost interest. This time it was a go. I made it through the toughest hurdle yesterday---the death of Beth. I had prepared Maggie for it for weeks so she wouldn't be completely shocked, and I only cried a wee bit---nothing like the Little House debacle when Jack the dog died and I cried so much I had to quit reading for the night. I guess I handle fictional people deaths better than fictional animal deaths---LOL. If she ever wants to read Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows, she's on her own.

Marty slapped some paint on some of the walls this weekend, just to give us the illusion that we are living in a home and not a construction site:) The bathroom is now a very pale blue, the living room a lovely shade of buttery cream, and one wall in the kitchen is a very deep red. It's so nice after years of rentals to finally have a place that we can paint as we see fit. His brother made us some beautiful shelves for around the kitchen window. We're not going for the upper cabinets, but more for an old-fashioned kitchen. One thing about living in the house while you work on it over an extended time---you can kind of tweak things as you go and figure out exactly what you want:)

I'm torturing Marty with another season of American Idol (and the poor man is in mourning over the fact that "24" has been put off til next year). Hell, we even watched the Daytona 500 last weekend...I'm not sure, but I think it's required watching down here:)

When I get a chance, I've been poking around J-Land finding out what every one has been up to. Some good things, some sad things... I've been out of the loop so long it's going to take me a while to get caught up. I was saddened to find out that Lahoma (mzgoochi) had passed. I "met" her way back when I first started journaling here and my heart always went out to her. I always hoped for a happier ending, but then I always do. No getting around it, life just sucks sometimes.

I could go on and on, but I have to stop somewhere:)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Candy and Flowers, Dearie

Maggie and I are blessed to have a man in our lives who brings us flowers often and for no reason. Not big expensive bouquets---I would have to kick his ass if he ever brought home a 39.95 box of roses---but small bunches, picked up at dollar stores and grocery check-out lanes. He chooses carefully; purples and other bright hues for color-loving Maggie (she wants her room painted seven shades of purple), the palest pinks for me, to match my skin he says. Last week he found single roses crafted of some kind of balsa wood---they're surprisingly pretty. On special occasions, he'll buy plants---butterfly bushes, roses, herbs, azaleas. I like those better, but the bouquets are nice too:)

He was away a lot last summer/fall. Maggie and I would bide our time, and then, the day he was to return, we would mosey out with a big basket and a pair of scissors, to collect whatever wild blooms were in season. We'd agree on a theme beforehand---all-white; shades of purple; yellows, oranges, and reds; fall leaves, goldenrods, sunflowers and various drying pods, etc. It was fun, and Pie was always pleased as punch to present them to her Dada.

I think about this, because I was talking to someone the other day who told me she has only gotten flowers three times in her life, and never from her (now ex-) husband or any other significant boyfriend. Maggie heard me say this and said "In her whole life, or just on Valentine's Day?" When I said "her whole life", her mouth fell open, then she lowered her head and muttered "It would suck to be her." (I had to laugh because it was so unexpected and she said it with more conviction than you would expect from a 7-year-old).

Needless to say, we're giving this person flowers for Valentine's Day. I hope everybody gets some. If all of the people in your life are idiots, then buy some for yourself---you're worth it. Or send some to somebody else---it might make all the difference in the world.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Early in the morning, cold as all get out here---was about 5 degrees when I looked at the thermometer a bit ago. I am so ready for Spring, but I hate to wish any of my time away, so I am struggling to enjoy the moment, even though I can hardly wait for things to start popping up out of the ground. I know Maggie would like to get in a few more snowfalls. She was sorely disappointed with the amount of snow last winter, and we seem to have hit the jackpot here, weather-wise. Enough snow to make her happy, a good thunderstorm at least every week in the summer---fun now that we have a new roof on the house, not so fun when I used up my army of pans and buckets trying to keep the back half of the house reasonably dry:)

Marty's job is to re-hab the house, as I am not at all handy. But the yard, I can handle . I've spent the winter looking through gardening books, and staring at the yard through the windows, noting what needs to be moved and what I want to add. When we moved down here, we moved as many of our plants as we could and basically just chucked them in the ground wherever until we figured out where they should ultimately go. We made a few adjustments last year---the azaleas moved closer to the woods, a couple of rosebushes by the fence... But I've got more plans:) This is the first yard we've ever had that has sunlight, so that's a novelty for us and opens up all sorts of gardening doors. By the time we're old, we should have a really nice place---LOL.

Marty headed off to Pittsburgh before dawn, until Wednesday or Thursday... I don't know what Pie and I will do...Have "girl time" and maybe work on some Valentine surprises. I'm at a complete loss of what to give the man. At this point I'm thinking of tying big bows around us and saying "here's your gift!". But I'm having second thoughts now that I recollect that I live close enough to my parents to actually be returned ;) Which reminds me of something my sister told me my dad said. He informed her one day that if she ever gets remarried, not to even tell him, because he gave her away once and she came back---LOL. He told me once last year that he "had to go out of state to get married, to put some branches on the family tree"---LOLOLOL. I guess I did the same thing:) After having a look at some of the specimens of boyhood around here, we've pretty much concluded that Pie will have to do the same when she grows up. She's got it pretty well worked out. She's either going to live in a house that's already fixed-up (LOL) or she's going to live in this house with us. She will marry a painter who can work for Dada, and, while her career is uncertain, my job will be to look after the grandchildren. I hope she is not as prolific in real life as she is in play life. Some days, every time you turn around, she's got a baby up her shirt, sometimes "borning" up to 17 offspring in one day. It seems to happen when she goes "to the store"---she goes out slim and trim and comes back in labor. I wish I knew which store it was, so I could advise folks to stay away from it.

Actually, she has no idea yet where babies come from. I'm not sure at what age this comes up and I have no idea what I'll say when it does. When you think about it, it seems like such a crazy thing to explain. I'm not sure she'll believe me when the time comes. She might just put it in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny---"yeah, my parents are making that shit up, now where do they REALLY come from?"

We had a wind advisory yesterday. I usually like nature in all its forms, but after a while the howl gets a bit unnerving to me. Maybe it's a reminder of what a harsh, inhospitable place the world can be. I loaded up the suet and seed feeders, figuring it was going to be a hard night for my feathered friends. I've got about 22 species coming to the feeders this winter, including one of my little favorites, the white-throated sparrow, a winter migrant. They have the sweetest little song, and when I'm sad about the catbirds and hummingbirds taking wing for warmer destinations, I know I can look forward to these little fellows. I've always lived more by nature's clock and calendar than by man's and now I guess I do so even more:) I consulted one of my many bird books yesterday, and concluded that I have seen 52 different species down here so far, and I'm sure there are more who will reveal themselves over time. More new discoveries to look forward to:)

I'm so pleased that Pie has turned into the reader that she is. She comes by it honestly. I've had my head in a book since I was four, and my mom is the ultimate book woman, reading all the time and running the local library book sale every Friday from 8:30-4:30. It's the best-run book sale I've ever seen, and she's like a bar tender, remembering what her "regulars" read, and setting things aside for them. The prices are dirt cheap too:) It's always a treat for us when we get to go. Pie heads for the kids books and keeps taking her haul up to the front desk. I find a lot of homeschooling stuff, some good novels and usually a stack of women's magazines for recipes and inspiration. Sometimes I feel like a throwback to the 1950's (hell, maybe even the 1850's), but what the hell. I'm mostly content (there's always room for some improvement somewhere, right?)

Guess I've rambled on enough for now. And not to get sappy on you all, but you have no idea how surprised I was to see how many of you still cared about us. Quite frankly, I had a Sally Field moment. I feel as though I have a new spring in my step the last couple of days, maybe because I have an outlet that is just for me where I can be "just me" and not Mama, wife, catmother, Crazy Bird Lady, etc. What the hell was I thinking, being away so long?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I guess I should tell you a bit about where we've put ourselves...

Rachel is a tiny town, unincorporated, with a post office that's not much bigger than a postage stamp. The general store is about the only business, unless you count the cemetery and a greenhouse two miles up the road. Pollock's Store has been there for decades and still has the wooden floors,countertops and glassed-in cases of yesteryear. They have an adding machine, but most of the time add up your purchases on the outside of a brown bag. They sell everything, though I suspect some of the less popular inventory has been there since my childhood, if not before. You can buy things in any increment---for instance, once my sister bought a dozen eggs, only to arrive home and find two were missing. Apparently someone came in earlier in the day and needed two eggs for some baking, so the shopkeeper promptly sold them to her. You can also run a tab, which is nearly unheard of in this day and age.

It used to be a coal-mining town, but the mine has been shut down since 1982. Most of the houses began life as identical mine houses, circa 1917, including ours. There are a few exceptions---Boss's Row has large, elaborate homes, and the original farm house looks to be from the mid-1800s. Across the road from us is a long, two-story house that used to be the miner's boarding house. There are 7 houses in our part of town, 4 mine houses, the boarding house, and two new constructions. We are 1/2 mile from the lake, 1/2 mile from my parents in the opposite direction, and 1/4 mile from my sister's. Hell, I could see her house if it weren't for a huge pine tree in the way. As it is, we are literally within hollering distance.

We are at the end of "The Camp" that is the quietest and the darkest. No one has the dusk-to-dawn lights that plague the more populated part of the camp. The dogs don't bark all night. In August, we spread a blanket on the hill and watched the Perseid Meteor Shower late into the night, and Maggie saw her first shooting stars. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way and the satellites gliding smoothly overhead. The owls call in the distance and the crickets chirp. In the day, it's so quiet you can hear a cardinal cracking seeds in the feeder on the far side of the yard, and the wings of the titmice as they flutter back and forth. It is heavenly after years of the constant dull roar of traffic and the orange glow of the suburban night sky . You can hear the rain on the roof and the rush of the creek in high water. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

We're still sort of misfits of society. The perfectly manicured lawn seems to be the norm down here. Even the laziest, drunkenest lay-about has his riding mower up and running on the weekend, ensuring that his lawn is clipped short and smooth. Ours runs more toward the raggedy side, with patches of Joe Pye weed, brambles and multiflora rose left intact for the critters. When asked why I left the Joe Pye weed, I said "for the butterflies" and was told "They've got wings"... But I got an extra bonus when I found that the goldfinches love the seeds in late summer. I could look out my window at any given time and see a flock of the squeaky little charmers flitting about, so that's better than the neighbors approval. I'm now contemplating turning part of the upper hill into a meadow of sorts...I say "turning", but what I mostly mean is letting it go to do as it wishes, and supplementing it with some seeds. I imagine this will cement our "eccentric" reputation, but I see no need to hoard the whole yard to ourselves, when it's more fun and entertaining to share it with our wildlife friends. Oh yeah, the reduction of mowing time is a plus too:)

Pie is getting restless, so I'd better wrap this up for now:)

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Prodigal Comes Limping Home

I thought I'd try taking the plunge into J-Land once more.

But Toto, we're not in Yuppieland any more.

I debated what to call this thing. "Hippies in Deliverance-land"? "Hell's Half Acre"? But "Green Acres" is pretty appropriate, even though I don't long for 5th Avenue and Marty hasn't taken to wearing a vest in the fields...yet.

I can't promise a post every day...for one thing, dial-up down here is hella slow, and I have my Domestic Goddess things to attend to, plus homeschooling, and generalized polishing of the turd. But at least the turd is ours this time around.

Put it this way, when we finally got the house, my Dad handed us the door-knob and said "here's your key". (You might be a redneck if...) You can only go up from there, right?

As I write, Marty is working his shitty maintenance job in the nearest small town. The place used to be government housing and is fondly referred to by the natives as "Plywood City" or "Mannington Manure", if you want to get fancy about it. Apparently every woman there is either a whore or was a whore in their prime---LOL. Or they have a substance abuse problem, or both. The guys---I don't know. He usually comes home with an intriguing tale every day. It's only a part-time job, so he fills in the gaps by working for another painter and working back in the 'burgh from time to time. That got lonely at first, but me and Pie, we go with the flow.

The Pie loves it down here. She didn't care when she had to use the outhouse until we finally got a septic system. She thought the fact that it rained inside the house was funny. She thinks it's interesting when a bat gets into the house and lands on Mommy's neck in the middle of the night when Daddy is out of town... Right now she's sitting in a chair reading herself The Secret Garden. She's quite the little bookworm these days, but she reads in bulk. Right now she has a huge stack of chapter books that she reads piece-meal as the mood strikes her...Little House today or American Girls? She still likes every subject and has a knack for math that she must have inherited from Grandpop, cuz Lord knows it skipped me. Maybe that's why my finances are still an unholy wreck (some things NEVER change).

As for me, I do my chores, I teach, I spend an inordinate amount of time birdwatching (a lot of birds here---they always brighten my day...) I dream of how I want to decorate once all of the rooms have walls---LOL. The majority of the downstairs is drywalled now---at least most of the walls---the ceilings are another story, but all in good time... We hope in the Spring to build some stairs, so Pie and I can actually get to the upstairs for the first time :) Hopefully by next fall, she'll have a room of sorts...patience, patience. I listen to a lot of pop music, take walks to the lake or to my parent's... It's nice to be within walking distance of my family for the first time in 22 years:)

We still have both the cats. Itchy escaped and was gone for 6 weeks. I was resigned to never seeing him again, when one morning in September I heard a familar meow in the basement. He was so skinny I almost didn't recognize him, but he's bounced back and is as fat and evil (if not fatter and more evil) than ever. Darth was devastated when he returned---he so liked the life of the only boy... No dog yet...I don't think I'm ready for the rigors of a puppy with everything else I've got on my plate.

Well, believe it or not, that's the Cliff's Notes version of the last almost year of my life---LOL. I'll try to squeak out some more time for this soon:)