Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walking and Tripping...

This will probably be my last blog before I leave for London. Even though I don't leave until Wednesday afternoon, I know myself well enough to know that I will be busy with packing and organizing and trying to prepare for missing eight days of work and won't be able to work in a blog.

Even though the focus of my weekend has been to get ready for my trip, I also managed to participate in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure walk on Saturday. Our company president wanted our office to sign up to participate and so we did. Thanks to my generous friends and family, I managed to raise a nice little sum to contribute.

The walk actually ended up being a lot of fun. Even though I had to get up earlier than I do on a workday and even though we ended up getting quite wet in the rain, I enjoyed both the exercise and walking with my teammates.

It wasn't supposed to rain. In fact one of my coworkers and I were waiting for the rest of our group to arrive and we spotted Mr. Weatherman- Frank Marzullo from Fox 19 news. My coworker called out to him and he said hi and assured us we'd have nice weather for the walk.

Less than ten minutes later, it started raining. I'm not kidding. By this time, Frank Marzullo was up on stage, doing some grandstanding and he didn't say a word about the rain. It didn't help that I had stupidly listened to him the day before when he promised it'd be dry for the walk. Thus, I came wearing a t-shirt with a thin hoodie over it. Had I known it was going to rain, I would have brought the umbrella I keep in my car or I would have brought a windbreaker. Silly Captain Monkeypants!

Still, in spite of the fact that we were dripping by the time the walk started, the rain stopped and we managed to dry out as we progressed. As the walk started, it became pretty clear that there were going to be two paces set by our team- the slow walkers and the fast walkers. I'm a fast walker by nature so I broke ahead with the fast walker pack from our office. We ended up finished about 25-30 minutes before the rest of the team.

It didn't take as long as I thought to finish the 5K walk and afterwards, I simply headed home to figure out what I still needed to shop for to take on my trip.

The rest of the weekend has been spent making a packing list and organizing my clothes. This seemed like an excellent time to switch over to my fall/winter wardrobe and pack the summer stuff away, sad as I was to do it. I also decided to be ruthless and donate a lot of my clothes from all seasons. It's probably the influence of "Hoarders" but I decided that if I had some clothing I hadn't worn over a year or if I hadn't worn it all during the last season, I would donate it. In the end, I had two large IKEA bags full of donations. Most of it is good stuff that either doesn't quite fit me any more or just isn't my style. Having moved from California back to the Midwest, my style has changed a lot since I moved.

It felt good to purge and organize. I now have a well organized closet and lots of leftover hangers. I also have my packing list made for my trip with only a few toiletries left to get.

The hard part is that even though I'm staying in a hotel for the first half of my trip, I'm going to be moving on to my grandparent's for the second half so I have to be prepared for both legs of the trip. Even though I can do some shopping in the UK if I need to, I'd still like to try and minimize it if I can.

Aside from physically packing, I'm pretty much ready to go, I think. I'm not ready to be apart from the pups for 10 days but I'm not thinking about that. I know, logically, they'll be safe with my parents but it still doesn't mean I won't worry about them. I'm an overprotective mother, I know it and knowing is half the battle. I have their bag half-packed- I stocked up on their favourite "chompers" which is our name for the long lasting treats they get whenever I have to leave them for a while. They're partial to Busy Chewnola's which keep them busy. It also stops them from chewing things they're not supposed to chew.

So, in three days, I'll be London-bound and my pups will be spoiled rotten by their grandparents. I won't be blogging while I'm gone because even if I took my laptop, I wouldn't necessarily have an internet connection and, frankly, lumping a computer to the UK is a lot of work. I've done it before and I'd rather not do it again. I'm sure, however, I will have plenty of stories to tell when I return. Thus, for now, I'll bid you all adieu until I return. Or, as the Brits say, "Cheerio!"

Thanks for reading! Happy Monday and on!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bringing it Down to Toadstool Town

This week has gone by quite quickly. This is probably because I’m leaving for my trip to London in less than a week and I’ve had a lot to do both at work and at home in preparation.

I don’t mind when weeks go fast. This has been a bit of a rainy week, actually. Ever since Sunday, we’ve had showers or the threat of them every day. Since it’s not officially autumn yet and summer hasn’t completely left, this has resulted in somewhat sticky, muggy conditions.

This has also resulted in my garden being turned into Toadstool Town. The problem with our area of Cincinnati is that we were actually built on a spring. This means that not only are we unable to have basements in our houses because of the water table level or what have you but, also, it means that we have pretty bad drainage and a lot of dampness when it rains.

Which is why I now have a Toadstool Town on my lawn. Our area is highly prone to different types of fungi popping up everywhere. Normally, it’s just a couple after it’s rained. I mowed my lawn on Sunday. Since then, toadstools have been popping up like triffids. Each day since then that I’ve woken up, there have been toadstools popping up that are increasingly larger than they usually are. They’re also getting closer and closer to the house.

My current project is to identify the toadstools. I want to make sure they’re not deathly toxic or anything like that. The dogs don’t seem interested in them and just seem to run right over them but still, as a paranoid dog-mother, I’m going to check anyway.

I’m not too thrilled about the toadstools. They’re a little like dandelions in the spring- a badge of shame in the neighbourhood. Many of my neighbours are prodigious in caring for their lawns. They measure the height of the mower, make sure they edge the lawn regularly and, of course, spray for dandelions.

As a still somewhat newish homeowner, I haven’t quite got the hang of dandelions yet. I tend to, uh, well…let them grow until I mow their pretty heads off.

That’s probably part of my problem too. I quite like dandelions. I know they’re nuisances and they take over the lawn and cover up the green glory with their yellow obnoxiousness but, well, I find them to be friendly little flowers. Which is probably another issue- I think of them as flowers rather than weeds.

I know there are botanists out there who for centuries have documented plant life, carefully segregating it into genus and species and all that scientific class stuff. I know that there is a line between weed and cultivated plants but I find it to be a little rude to some of the weeds. After all, some plants that are classified as weeds are far prettier and decorative than cultivated plants. Take hostas for example.I know they have their place and are shade plants and la-de-da and all that but, well, I am not a fan of hostas. I also find pampas grass to be rather unattractive which is why I ripped it up from my front garden and replaced it with butterfly bushes and zinnias.

Anyway, back to my point…I find dandelions to be cute and fun when they’re in their flower stage. I don’t like them when they turn into the dandelion clocks because they’re quite ugly then. Also, that’s when you start getting the death stares from the neighbours who care a lot about their lawn and do NOT want the dandelion clocks spreading their nasty seeds on their pretty lawns. This is the stage at which I do a lot of mowing. Granted, I’m well aware that by mowing the dandelions, the seeds are going into the air and probably spreading themselves anyway but, well, it comes down to a case of hiding the evidence. If I have no dandelion clocks on my lawn, fingers can’t be pointed at me if they grow on the neighbour’s lawns.

Toadstools are a little like dandelions except that they grow even quicker. They have that same shaming quality though where you feel like people in the neighbourhood are seeing the toadstools and secretly labeling me the FUNGUS ENABLER.

Yes, I know this is probably unlikely and a bit dramatic. However, this is why I’m grateful that my front yard is toadstool free and the fungus are solely in the back yard.

My solution has been to kick the Toadstool Town daily and take out the little buggers. Unfortunately, this does not stop them growing again overnight. I could mow them but my grass really doesn’t need it. Also, it’s quite wet so I’d rather not mow if I can avoid it. After google-ing “toadstool cures”, apparently I can buy some fungicide to kill them off but, well, frankly, to quote Ned Stark while simultaneously sending a shudder down my mother’s spine, “Winter is Coming.”

Thus, it seems a bit of a waste to fungicide the lawn now when in a few weeks, we might have a frost which will solve the problem. (Sorry mum…just being realistic).

Therefore, it seems the pups and I will have to deal with Toadstool Town for now. I’m going to actually dispose of the kicked-over toadstools in hopes that it stops their demon spores from reproducing. Sadly, this probably won’t help but it will make me feel better. Also, it will make me feel better if they’re away from the dogs just in case their some Highly Toxic Toadstool though I suspect their much more run-of-the-mill than that.

I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I’ll remain disappointed that I have boring old Toadstools-Who-Shall-Be-Named-Eventually instead of something more useful that likes damp conditions such as chanterelle mushrooms or morels which would cost over $12/pound in the grocery store.

Ah well, it could always be worse. They could spread to the front yard.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maybe This is Why I'm Still Single (Subtitle: If I Ever Go Missing, It's Probably My Fault)

Sometimes, when I'm at my most paranoid, I have a fear that I'm going to end up tied up in some serial killer's basement.

This is not an altogether unfounded fear. Not only do I have a dark streak that tends to find things like serial killers fascinating but, also, I tend to be a bit of a sucker for a hard luck case. The combination of this would probably end up as a statistically high possibly that I will, in fact, end up in a serial killer's basement.

Throughout my life, I have always been a sucker for the hard luck cases. This is why, when I was in infant school (U.S. Translation: elementary school) in the UK, I was the girl who ended up sitting with Nicholas Watts, the most bullied boy in our class, at lunch and who'd feel so bad that poor little Nicholas was lonely and didn't have many friends that I'd invite him to play with me and my friends. We'd play girly things and make him join in- he'd have to clean our Wendy House and do the laundry in our pretend games. I hope Nicholas turned out ok- we did treat him just like he was one of the girls.

In Junior school, it was Adil- the nice Indian boy who moved to the UK from India with his family. He didn't have many friends because kids could be mean but we were fascinated by his exoticness and we let him play netball with us. This was fun until Adil made friends with some boys and ditched us to play cricket. When he accidentally hit a cricket ball that hit me in the eye, I stopped being so fond of Adil because he laughed when he did it. When you're nine and someone laughs at you when they make you bleed, it's not easily forgiven.

This has been the case through my life. In high school in the U.S., it was 'Joe' whose real name was...Joe. He was one of those weird kids who marches to his own beat. Some of the kids called him 'retarded' but he wasn't- he was just different. I was nice to Joe because I can't stand seeing people get picked on like that. He was a little odd and I did laugh with my friends about some of the things he did yet I tried to never be rude to him. This ended up with Joe having a bit of a crush on me and he'd deliver gifts to me when I was at work in the video store. He made me mixed tapes and wrote me long poems. I broke his heart gently but it was a lesson in that fine line between kindness and...overkindness.

I've had a few other males like Joe who liked me because I was nice. This, in no way, is me tooting my horn about how great I am and how kind I am. This is merely my way of explaining my basement-serial-killer theory. You see, I tend to try to be nice in general. I don't tolerate rude people well. I don't like snotty people and I don't like people who treat others badly. I have my limits. Yet when it comes to people in general, I try to be nice .

This is not always a good thing. With Joe, it was a harmless teenage crush. In college, it was a guy we'll call Barnabas. That is NOT hiks real name. Barnabas was, in short, a weirdo. He was the kind of person who was very, very intense. His way of looking at things was rather off-kilter. He didn't watch TV because he found it banal, trite and 'frankly, a waste of his brainpower'. If Barnabas had been the genius he thought he was, this would have been understandable but, well, he wasn't. He was just an oddball who wore the same jacket everywhere, everyday, regardless of the weather. He found me because of a paper I'd written for a professor we'd shared. He saw the paper in my professor's office and was fascinated by the topic I'd chosen to write about and he asked to read the whole thing. He found me a day later by calling my dorm room and asking to talk to me about the paper.

For some reason, he seemed to like talking to me. I found him fascinating. He was probably one moral conscience away from being a serial killer, honestly but when you're 20 and in college, it seems intriguing rather than dangerous. Long story short, he became 'my friend' and would engage me in long, late night conversations about everything. Over time, he got more scary and I backed away. The last time I talked to him, he called me and the first thing he asked was if I'd had sex. I'm not kidding. He was rather alarming in his intensity about the issue and he asked some very inappropriate questions. Needless to say, by that time, it was quite a few years out of college and I was wise enough to recognize dangerous behaviour. Thus, that was our last conversation ever.

The reason I'm telling you all this is because I'm a bit alarmed by Larry the Potential Serial Killer. I try to be nice to him. Tonight, when I was walking the dogs, I was still wearing my work clothes and I literally head him say "wow" when he saw me. I wasn't wearing anything terribly risque though I was wearing something that I knew looked nice on me. He proceeded to corner me and tell me absolutely everything about his day while doing that close talking thing that is his specialty. It doesn't help that I think he's single again. He seems to have had a lady friend for a while but I haven't seen her or her car in his driveway lately. He wouldn't let me leave. Even though the dogs were straining to continue our walk, Larry kept stepping in front of me to keep me talking. He also suggested we 'get together' sometime, especially in the winter when it's cold outside.

Now, I'm not serious when I call him a potential serial killer. You know that. He's odd and he's a little too friendly but I jest when I write it. However, I do think that I should probably not have been quite so friendly to Larry. I do have a tendency to attract strange men by being nice to them. The ones I've told you about are only a sample, believe it or not.

I'm not sure what to do, honestly. I don't really want to spend cold winter nights with Larry the Potential Serial Killer. I just don't really know how to be rude. I don't know if it's because I'm British and we're just polite or I just don't like being mean but I can't figure out how to ignore Larry. He's nice. He's friendly. How do you ignore him. I've tried the polite wave which is fine when the route the pups and I take doesn't go right by his house. However, when he descends on us out of nowhere, there's no way to avoid him.

Perhaps I could use some tips on how to be mean. Again, this is not me trying to get accolades for my 'niceness'. It's quite the opposite. It's just my way of saying that I'm a wee bit afraid I might end up like Catherine in "Silence of the Lambs"- trapped in a basement because I helped some poor stranger with a broken arm load a sofa into his van.

I'd like to think I'm not that daft. I have read the non-fiction accounts of many a serial killer and I happen to know that this particular broken arm trick was an M.O. of Ted Bundy so at least I'm aware.

It's just that I'm also a sucker. If I ran into someone, say, like Larry who I accidentally invited over to share my firepit, what's to say that he won't show up and stab me to death all because I accidentally invited him over.

I suppose it would be my own fault. I am a bit of a magnet for weirdos though and I never have figured out why. It does make life interesting but, well, maybe life should be that interesting.

Nevertheless, I'll make sure I lock my doors and windows. Just in case.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More Pea Gravel Patio Adventures

This has been one busy weekend! I finally got my patio finished. I'm pretty pleased with the result but if I never have to haul another 50 lb bag of pea gravel from my car to the garden again, I'll be happy. I ended up using approximately 42 bags of gravel which is over two tons. It looks good, I do have to say.

I broke the new patio in this weekend by lighting a fire in the firepit. Fortunately, I was not joined by Larry the Potential Serial Killer though I must admit, I was a little paranoid that he'd stop by. In the end, it was just me and the girls who rather enjoyed sitting on my lap and enjoying the fire. It's hard when they both want to sit on my lap since I have only one lap and they're two long dogs.

Aside from the patio, I spent the weekend shopping for my upcoming visit to London. The shopping wasn't just for London- in my efforts to shed my excess weight, I dropped a size in clothes and much of my fall wardrobe is a little bigger than I am. Not that I'm complaining. It gives me an excuse to go shopping. It was a good weekend for it- there were sales galore. I like this time of year because the summer clothes are on clearance. It's a good time to stock up for next year but also to get some good layering type of clothes to wear under heavier sweaters and cardigans.

I'm getting excited about London-it's going to be rather nice to get to spend some time being a 'tourist'- usually my trips to the UK are family-oriented which is wonderful but they don't allow the same freedom as an actual vacation just because there are so many people to see. Also, it seems that everyone is always trying to feed me. It'll be nice to have a little bit of time where I get to explore on my own and eat what I like. My cousin is coming to spend some time in London with me- I haven't seen her for many years so it'll be fun to see how she's doing. After the work part of the trip is over, i'm heading to my grandparent's which will be nice.

The only part I'm worried about is missing my pups. I know they'll be safe with their 'grandparents' but it'll be hard to be away for 10 days without seeing them. I'm sure they'll be fine, right?

I only have 10 days before I leave- there still seems like a lot to do but there always does before you go away anywhere. The hard stuff is sorted- my passport is valid and I have a temporary green card so I shouldn't have any travel problems. The part I hate is being on the plane- it's an overnight flight and no matter how hard I try, I simply can't sleep properly on a plane.

Still, I have time before I have to worry about that. There's another weekend in there and since I don't have any more landscaping plans, I'll have plenty of time to take care of things next week.

For now, I plan on enjoying what little of the weekend I have left and being a little sore from all my pea gravel exertions. Still, they say "no pain, no gain," right?

And I gained a nice little patio so it was probably worth the pain.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Accidental Invitations

It’s feeling a lot like autumn out there. Last night, we had a mini storm come in and by this morning, it had dropped about 20 degrees. I have to say, it feels wonderful and given that it’s almost the calendar start of Fall, I can’t help but want to welcome it with open arms. I’m actually over that hump where I feel like summer is being usurped. We’ve had enough days where it’s too chilly to wear open-toed shoes and I’ve resorted to my boots and socks and so, for me, it’s autumn.

This doesn’t mean I’m ready to decorate for the season but it does mean that I can start dressing a little warmer and appreciating the start of autumnal thinking.

I did finally get my bench built. Let me tell you, building a cast iron-backed bench by oneself is NOT an easy task. You’re supposed to screw the really heavy back piece into each side which would be fine if someone was available to hold it but, alas, as a singleton, I was on my own. The dogs were no help. They skedaddled as soon as I started swearing at the blasted thing. Yes, there was plenty of swearing. I got hot, sweaty and generally quite frustrated.

However, I persevered. I managed to use the wall as a support for the legs and with some creative maneuvering got it done. I now have a bench and you can even sit on it. The reason I’m telling you this is that the bench is involved in my autumn plans. I wanted to get it done and outside so that I had somewhere to sit while enjoying a fire in my new firepit on a cool evening.

The only thing I’m a bit worried about is that I might have accidentally invited Larry the Potential Serial Killer to join me. You see, I was walking the girls on Tuesday night and he was outside. We chatted politely about the weather as you so often do with neighbours. He mentioned how he wanted to get “one of those there firepits you see in Lowes” and I stupidly said, “I have one of those.” His eyes lit up and he said “You do? Well, that’s neato. Maybe I’ll come to yours then.” Thinking he was joking, I said “sure!”. I WAS joking. Larry was not. He said, “I’ll be over then.” And he meant it.

Lesson learned here: Do not stupidly agree to things if you think someone is joking because he might not be.

Now I’m a bit worried that he might come over if he sees me having a fire in the firepit. I suppose it might be ok except, well, he’s a wee bit creepy and, also, at least 15 years older than me. Methinks I do not want Larry in my backyard when it’s dark outside. It didn’t help that while I was talking to him, he had been roaming around the backyard with no shoes or socks on his feet. I don’t have a problem with feet, per se. There are some men- surfers for example- who seem perfectly natural when they’re barefoot. Then there are men like Larry who just look…odd…when they’re barefoot.

Oh well, you live and learn, I suppose. It’s not going to stop me from enjoying my firepit- at least not unless he actually does show up. Since the dogs aren’t really fond of him, I expect they won’t be too happy about it either. He often tries to pet them when we go out for a walk and they sort of duck away and hide behind me whenever he does. They don’t do that with everyone.

Sookie tends to be a bit jumpy anyway. Today at lunch, I came home to find that one of the girls had an accident on the floor. This never happens and I mean never. I was a little surprised and annoyed but what can you do but clean it up? Then, Sookie started acting a little odd. I gave her a treat and she scoffed it down like normal. Then a few moments later when I gave her another one, she ignored it and tried to sit on my lap. Then, she suddenly backed away and started to run outside. I was worried she was having tummy issues and followed her. Nope, she just wanted to be outside. Then, when I went back to work, I noticed that she came in when I called her but then, when she normally hops in her crate, she didn’t. She tried to go outside again.

I figured out what was bothering her. I’d noticed my smoke detector had been chirping because I needed to change the battery. She was afraid of the chirp. Each time it made it’s annoying sound, she tried to run away. When I got back to work, I googled this to see if it was normal. Apparently, there are quite a few dogs out there who get upset/panicked/terrified by this mere chirping sound.

I did feel better. I had been worried she wasn’t well but it turns out she was just frightened which is still bad but easily remedied by removing the dying battery in the smoke detector for now. My guess is that she’s the one who had ‘the accident’ and was so frightened she couldn’t hold her bladder. Poor little thing- what seems like a mildly irritating noise to me must be a great deal more worrying to her.

Sookie is a worrier. She likes things to be the same all the time. She doesn’t like change and she most certainly doesn’t like it when her sister is naughty. Also, she doesn’t like strangers, particularly men. She’s quite protective of me which is both good and bad.

Thus, I’m hoping that she’ll be enough to deter Larry the Potential Serial Killer when he comes to visit. Of course, I’m really hoping he simply doesn’t come and visit but lately, nothing’s been quite going as planned so I’m not holding my breath.

Still, I can’t let it deter me from the fact that I’m starting to accept that summer is a fleeting visitor and that autumn is taking over. I don’t want it to come too fast but I do want it to come.

I’m ready.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Projects and Pea Gravel

It seems that I can’t seem to stop myself from blogging even when I plan on it. So, here I am…blogging again even though I had planned on reducing the frequency a little. Sometimes, it’s just nice to write. I don’t always get time for working on my novels so this is a good way for me to keep the thoughts flowing.

Lately, I’ve been busy trying to make the most of the balmy fall-ish weather and I’ve been working in the garden. I decided a few weeks ago that the very overgrown weed patch in my garden was getting on my nerves. I’ve been trying to slowly get rid of the weedy areas and plant flowers and things. However, weeds grow so fast and I don’t have time to stand out there and yank the blasted things up as soon as they appear. This results in a bit of a jungle. The dogs like the jungle effect as they like to intrepidly hunt in it for wildlife to chase. I, however, did not like the jungle.

It doesn’t help that this area is a bit prone to floods. I think we have a drainage issue in my area and when it rains a lot, I get a lot of puddles. This means that the nice things I plant there tend to die from too much water but the weeds flourish. I thought about a rain garden but we don’t always get very much rain. Here in the Midwest, we tend to have periods of intense rain followed by several weeks of drought.

Thus, my solution was to create a rustic patio in that corner of my garden. I have a firepit that I bought at the beginning of the summer that is waiting to be used. I had intended to use it on my patio after I built my trellis for privacy. Unfortunately, since I planted the clematis that I intended to grow up it too late, I didn’t get as much privacy as I wanted. It’s a little hard to relax outside with Dog Whisperer’s beasts yapping wildly even though I’m doing nothing but sitting still. Also, with the addition of the trampoline, Son of Dog Whisperer has acquired a whole new collection of neighbourhood friends. I’m actually curious to see what his parents think- the gaggle of kids who moved into the house behind them like to come over now. They look a wee bit too old to be hanging around with an 9 year old boy, honestly. One of them is a pre-teen girl and at the risk of sounding like a dowdy spinster, if she was my kid, I certainly wouldn’t let her leave the house dressed like that. Also, the boy who bounces on the trampoline looks to be going on fourteen or fifteen. It’s not my business though other than the fact that while I think a bonding tool like a trampoline is great for the kids, it’s not so good for us neighbours who want a little rest and relaxation after work.

Thus, I decided to build the rustic patio since it was on the opposite side of the yard to Dog Whisperer’s house and allows some modicum of privacy as it’s tucked away in the corner of the garden. I got most of it done in one day- pulling up the worst of the weeds and trapping the rest beneath landscaping fabric. Then I covered it with pea gravel. Lots and lots of pea gravel. Fortunately, Lowes was having a sale on the gravel and I got a great deal. I ended up using 26 bags of it. Each bag weighs 50 lbs. Who needs a gym when you own a house?

I’m proud of the result. I still haven’t finished but the former jungle is now a clean corner of my yard with a rosebush for decoration. My garden gnomes now have a home. I love gnomes although I don’t like those themed ones with college sports teams that have become popular. Give me a good old fashioned grumpy-looking gnome any day.

I want to finish the patio this weekend. I haven’t decided if I want to get more gravel and expand it or take the easy way out and use mulch instead. The result will be the same- a weed free area that won’t need much maintenance. Since it borders my vegetable patch which is already mulched, it would blend nicely. I’m leaning towards the mulch.

Aside from that, all that remains is to lay a base for the firepit and assemble a garden bench that I ordered on clearance from Home Depot. That’s tonight’s project: assembling a bench. While I’d like to think that it’ll be a piece of cake, I’m not fooling myself. I built a wheelbarrow at the beginning of the summer that was supposed to be ‘easy to assemble’. I’ve discovered that ‘easy to assemble’ for the general world means “difficult for Captain Monkeypants.” I’m a creative creature, I like to think. However, let’s just say when it came to the math and science sections of standardized tests, I didn’t do so well. I tried but, well, I’m better suited to humanities and fields that allow some form of creative license.

Still, when the bench is built, I’ll have something to sit on while I enjoy my firepit. The dogs aren’t thrilled at their diminished jungle but they’re intrigued by the gravel. I’m hoping Sookie stops being startled by the gnomes soon. The new patio is part of the track upon which the girls run when they first go outside and I’ve caught her stopping dead in her tracks to acknowledge the gnomes and sniff them warily.

I’m quite pleased with my patio. It has made me wish just a little that I had a partner, preferably a man who can lift bags of gravel easier than me, to assist me but there is definitely a feeling of accomplishment in doing something like that myself. Hopefully, when it’s done, I’ll have an additional place to sit outside, away from bouncing, screaming children and yipping dogs. I’m quite looking forward to the crisper evenings so that I can light a fire outside, have a cup of tea and enjoy the autumn evenings.

I’m just a little fed up of pea gravel.Maybe it is time to switch to mulch.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fading Summer...

It’s that weird time of year where it’s not quite autumn but summer is starting to show signs of weariness. Two weeks ago, we were having 100 degree temperatures. Last week, the warm weather departed, leaving us with rainy, grey days that barely got above 70 degrees. This week is a happy medium. We’re supposed to be in the 80’s for the first part of the week and it’s supposed to be a little cooler for the weekend.

It’s a transition period. I find these are a little tricky. I have two wardrobes- a spring/summer and an autumn/winter one. Twice a year, I go through the ritual of changing out one wardrobe for another. It seems like just yesterday I was hanging up my capris and sleeveless shirts and putting away my thicker sweaters and darker clothing.

It seems too soon to switch the wardrobes. After all, technically, it’s still summer. It may be feeling a little autumnal out there but it’s not autumn. I love the treats of fall. I love pumpkins and squash, scarecrows, fallen leaves, leaf fires and chilly nights. However, I’m finding that I’m reluctant to jump in yet. It’s simply a little too early.

I think I’ve become fonder of summers since I moved back to a place that has seasons. I’ve written a couple of blogs about how summer is my least favourite season. This year, I’m not sure if I’ve just changed but I’ve enjoyed summer. I’ve enjoyed watching the herbs grow, the veggies ripen and sitting outside in the evenings. I’ve liked working on outdoor projects. It’s been fun.

This may be why I’m feeling a little defensive of summer every time I pass by a house that already has little scarecrows and autumn leaf flags adorning the garden. A couple of people have started their autumn displays of haybales and squash.

Even though summer was, once again, greedy this year and took over before spring was truly done, I still feel like that’s no excuse for turning our minds from the bright colours of summer and putting them towards the oranges, browns and reds of autumn. Not yet.

I know it’s a societal invention but I feel like until the calendar officially reads “first day of Autumn”, it’s not time to start celebrating the fall.

This is also true when it comes to wardrobe. I find that when I’m waking up and the mornings are chillier than they were two weeks ago, my tendency is to reach for autumn-esque clothing. I tend to leave a few pieces in my wardrobes that I consider ‘transitional’ attire. This is why I never put away my black, heeled, every day ankle boots that go nicely under my trousers nor do I put away my cardigan collection or my black trousers. With these items, it’s easy to find something to wear to work that utilizes parts of my summer wardrobe but lets me dress for the weather without completely having to changeover the wardrobe. This works well when winter is transitioning to spring too. I keep a couple of lighter coloured blouses unpacked so that I can wear them when the weather warms up.

It’s just hard to keep up with the seasons at the moment. The leaves are starting to look like they’re considering changing colour. A couple of trees in the neighbourhood appeared to have been fooled by the rainy, cold weather of last week and somehow managed to drop almost every leaf already leaving very little left to do in the autumn.

The dogs seem a little confused too. In the mornings, I let Rory and Sookie out and when it’s cooler, they stop and sniff the air instead of running full speed ahead into the garden as they’ve done all summer. They spend much more time outside too now the weather is cooler.

This is not necessarily a good thing. Last night, I went to check on them and couldn’t find them anywhere. Instead of panicking, I guessed that they had finally succeeded on their latest mission: Find a Way Under the Toolshed.

This is not the first time the girls have had this mission. Last time they succeeded, I barricaded all of the possible entrances to Under the Tool Shed using a combination of wood planks, pavers and bricks. I was successful. However, when dealing with two completely obsessed dachshunds who simply MUST GET TO WHATEVER SMELL IS WAFTING UP FROM UNDER THERE, there appears to be no 100% surefire way to prevent them from going under the shed.

Thus, when they vanished last night, I calmly went behind the shed. Sure enough, the wood planks had been fried loose enough to allow a gap big enough for my girls to wriggle through. I knocked on the side of the shed and firmly summoned my dogs back up to the surface. A few minutes later, both dogs emerged, bright eyed, laced with cobwebs with their tails wagging furiously. It was quite obvious that they knew they had Been Up To No Good but they were still too high from the adrenaline to care that their ‘mother’ was angry with them.

I quickly boarded up the gap and made sure that it was pup-proofed. Shortly after trying unsuccessfully to get back under the shed, the dogs followed me inside, dejected but also knowing they were in a spot of trouble. I told them off and they spent the rest of the evening trying to get cuddles which is what they do when they know I’m cross with them and they want to suck up. Of course, after my initial annoyance at their misbehavior wears off, I give in.

I’m hoping that this is not a sign of autumn antics to come. While I’m not fond of them going under the shed, I’d rather they disappeared under there than, say, under the fence or gate. At least its controlled chaos. I do worry a little that when they emerge, they’ll have some creature in their mouth but, so far, they haven’t caught anything.

Still, even though I’ve controlled their chaos, the cooler evenings and days mean that I’ll have to keep an eye on my wayward pups. With the sluggish heat of summer, they tend to be a little less active. When it’s nice outside, they stay out there and it only takes a short time for Rory Gilmore to Get Up to No Good.

I’m sure as summer really fades and gives way to actual autumn, there will be plenty more antics going on in my backyard. The squirrels already seem to be up to their evil plots. They always seem to increase in number in autumn so I’m gearing up for many a walk spent trying to prevent the girls from chasing them up trees.

In the meantime, I’m going to attempt to hold onto the last days of summer before the weather really cools down and avoid the lure of pumpkin, spices and autumn leaves. Of course, if it really gets as cold at night as they’re saying- 42 degrees, I may change my mind. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Decisions, Decision

So, I've decided to continue blogging but I'm going to start reducing it from every week day to a couple of blogs a week. I think that might help with the blog burnout factor and help reduce the amount of blogs where I whine. This is not going to count as one of my blogs but I figured that since my last blog was a dither about whether or not to keep blogging, I'd update this with my decision.

So, for now, I'll make this a short and sweet blog without saying much more other than to send out huge thank you's to my parents for helping me have one of those sorely needed weekends where I felt very loved. Sometimes, you need to feel loved and I haven't felt that way lately so it's nice to have it affirmed that no matter how blue you feel, time spent with family can pull you out of it.

Thanks, mum and are wonderful. Oh, and a belated welcome back mummy-Monkeypants from the UK where she managed to have a bad enough flying experiences that I still feel justified in setting the entrance to Hell in "Emmy Goes to Hell" in an airport.

Happy Monday and thanks, as always, for reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog...That is the Question

So, I extended my blogging vacation a little longer than planned. This has been primarily for me to take time to think about whether I really want to continue to blog or not. Lately, it’s become more of a chore than a pleasure to write. I enjoy writing it but sometimes, it feels horribly self-indulgent to think that people might actually want to read…well, about me.

I started my blog as a writing exercise, more than anything. It’s a way for me to get some writing done every day. It’s a great way for me to capture little moments in life, to paint a picture of my life with words. It’s a great tool to rant and rave. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I just don’t know if I should keep it going. I don’t know if people really want to read it or if it’s an obligation. This is not an attempt to fish for compliments, it’s a genuine query.

I think my dilemma stems from my current mood. Lately, I’ve been going through one of those self-examination phases. The rational, logical part of me is immensely content and feeling rather blessed with all the good things in life.

The irrational part of me has been feeling rather lonely and a little discontented with my life. Nothing seems quite…right. No matter what I do, I feel like I should do it differently or better. My writing isn’t going as well as it could and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Everyone I know is super busy living their life and I feel like I’m just standing still. I usually don’t mind standing still but my life has recently felt like an episode of “Sex and the City,” where Miranda, the strong, independent lawyer who thinks she doesn’t need a man, almost chokes on her food in her apartment. She has no one to rescue her from choking but herself and she realizes that sometimes being independent just means that she’s alone. Or, like Bridget Jones, I worry that I’ll die in my house alone with only the dogs to find me and they can’t dial 911. It’s melancholy but sometimes being strong and resourceful like I try to be is not always best.

My slight case of melancholia is probably because it’s suddenly turned rather autumnal here, suddenly. I love autumn. I have blogs and blogs to prove that. I’m just not quite ready for it yet. I want the summer to last a little longer, for the last of my tomatoes to ripen and to ease me into the cooler days/nights and the falling leaves. This cold rainy weather shock is not really easing us into autumn as much as it’s shoving us there without letting us look back and question it. It’s making me feel like time is moving too fast and I’m not moving with it.

I’m just not sure what to do about it at the moment. I suppose I could try online dating again to fight the worry of choking and dying alone. The thought has occurred to me. I just end up talking myself out of it because I’ve had some bad experiences. Also, I’m just not very good at dating. I just would rather skip it and jump right to that comfortable stage where you can sit on the sofa watching crappy television without worrying that you’re wearing little makeup, old clothes and didn’t bother putting your contacts in.

This phase will pass. I know it will. When the sun comes out and life gets busier, I’ll feel angry with myself for feeling so self-indulgent. Worse, I’ll feel angry that I posted this on my blog and gave into my self-indulgent urge to whine.

Which is probably why I’m considering giving up the blog. It allows me a receptacle to deposit my whining. It’s more fun when I rant, I think. However, whining seems to be quite a lot easier sometimes. It’s a heck of a lot easier to complain that it is to say good things.

However, saying good things is infinitely better. So, I’ll say that I appreciate those of you that have read my blog while I’ve been writing it. I appreciate the fact that I love my life 95% of the time. I appreciate my two little dogs who are always there for me and will protect me both from Stranger Danger and the disgustingness of “Hoarders”. Rory often comes to my aid when I make noises of distressed disgust- last week, we watched an episode where a man had 2,500 pet rats running around and when I squealed with horror at the swarm of creatures running freely throughout the house, Rory sat on my head and tried to cover my eyes. This is a true story.

I also appreciate life in general, for better for worse, in rain and sun and in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Having a blog lets me have a way to appreciate that.

So, I still haven’t decided if I’ll give it up. Like Scarlett O’Hara said (and I paraphrase)…I’ll decide tomorrow. I can’t decide today.

And clearly since I’ve already blogged, I’m not giving it up today anyway.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Thursday.