Wednesday, April 11, 2018

D.P. vs. the Garden: Round 18

So it's gardening season again and here I am, seed packets in hand, hoping for bountiful glory, destined for bushels of misery.

I went out to check on my trees and vines at the beginning of March and realized that even though I had placed a fence around my lemon trees, my dog was still just tall enough to eat the tops of the branches. SO OF COURSE HE DID.

When I saw the damage I immediately began to spiral. "I have to build taller fences and then replace all the bird netting over the garden bed. More dirt! I need more dirt! The red mulch isn't looking as red as it did last year. Must have more red mulch. Must. Get. To. Home. Depot." My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty and I felt light headed. Meenie, who also doubles as my garden buddy, watched me spiral with a look of amusement and embarrassment when suddenly, through the haze of insanity, I had a single moment of clarity.

Not this time.

In that moment, I decided I was not going to allow my garden to run my life. It is supposed to be relaxing, dammit, and I've never been so stressed out in my life! I took a deep breath, dropped what I was holding and walked into the house, but in order to make sure the spiral stopped completely, I had to pop a Xanax. A Xanax, people. It happened to be my last one.

I had to see my doc for a refill and she asked how I was doing with the anxiety and I told her I really only had to take one every once in a while, like when I'm spiraling about my garden. She got real quiet and said, "you need to do something you enjoy."

Now that you mention it, what the hell am I doing?

I talked to Mr. D about my resolve to take a simpler approach to gardening and he suggested the same things he's suggested every year. Try planting just one or two things. For whatever reason, I took that to mean plant one or two plants which sounded dumb to me, because it was dumb and also not what he meant.

So I have planted a crap ton of green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. If I don't end up with a crap ton of green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, I'm calling it.

Time of death: 19 years.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

D.P. vs. the Tree...

The woman who owned our home before us got a wild hair up her butt, just before they moved, and planted eight of those nasty Braburn pear trees in our back yard. Not only do those pear trees not bear fruit, every year they blossom with these pretty little white flowers that smell like butt. I cannot express to you how nasty those flowers smell. So when that first spring came around imagine my horror at finding my very own smelly butt garden blooming in the back yard. I hated those trees, thus I was hardly saddened when, one by one, they all died.

Except for the last two. They have held on and fought the good fight. One died last year and seemed to be hanging around waiting for his buddy to die. The second one didn't die so much as it fell over, detaching the root system from the trunk. It was really kind of appalling, the dead one standing stoically over the not dead but uprooted one. At any rate, the fallen tree managed to miss all things important when it fell, but its been on its side for about two weeks. Tuesday I decided it was time to take care of the carcass, however, lacking the proper power tool meant using a handsaw to cut that bugger up. I was tired after about ten minutes. I was hardly able to raise a glass of water to my lips after twenty. I started getting blisters in inconceivable places after thirty minutes and after that its all a blur.

I knew the job would never get done with only that handsaw. I went to Home Depot later that day and looked over a few chainsaws, but chainsaws kinda scare me. So I left Home Depot with the disappointingly teeny pots I had ordered online and could not return.

Once home Meenie and I went to work on the tree until dark. Our home teacher came by that night and offered the use of his electric chainsaw. I'm afraid of chainsaws but I like the idea of an electric saw because it doesn't work when it's unplugged. Don't ask for an explanation, man. Just take it for what it is.

Fast forward to today, when the stars had aligned. I took that chainsaw outside to make quick work of the fallen tree and quick work it was. Thus I decided to move on to the second deader though upstanding tree. My plan was to cut off some of the limbs over hanging important structures I did not want smashed.

That's when I noticed the chain was off the blade. So I took it apart, adjusted the chain and put the blade back on. Upside down, because of course. I opened it up and corrected the blade. I should have taken that for the sign that it was, but I didn't.

Here's the thing, if Mr. D had done the job, there would have been no hang-ups, no pitfalls, and no aggravation, but because I was the one doing the work, it ended up becoming a hundred times more complicated. For example, standing underneath and to the side of the first limb I cut off, the limb should have fallen straight to the ground, but because it was me, the branch got caught up in another branch as it fell and instead of falling down it swung to the side and landed softly though directly on top of my head. That was the second out that I did not take.

I desired that the tree would fall to the north, but even with a cursory cut on the north side it fell to the south where I was standing. It missed me but did hit the fence, the compost bin and my tub garden, all things I was wanting to avoid having the tree land on. Which was why I opted to cut it down as opposed to waiting for it to take the initiative to fall on its own. In the meantime, Eenie is watching the entire process from the trampoline while intermittently laughing her but off and gasping in fear.

The chainsaw kept coming unplugged and at one point I yanked on the cord and the plug came flying at my face and hit me in the lip. Still I pushed ahead, because I don't know when to quit. I decided to remove the limbs all around the trunk, leaving the limbs still holding the trunk up for last. However, because the tree was dead some of the limbs had already broken. Whilst upon the north side of the tree, I pulled one of the limbs off the fence which caused one of the supporting limbs to break and the whole thing came falling back towards me. I was starting to feel that the tree was taking things personally and actively trying to kill me. I managed to get the rest of the limbs severed without incident when wouldn't you know it, the trunk took one last shot and tried to roll over me as I cut it in half. Guys, this tree had nubbins all around it. It should not have been able to "roll." I looked at the scratches, bruises and blisters on my hands and arms and decided I should walk away while I still had all ten of my fingers.

I should just stop doing things.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's SO SIMPLE...

Except it wasn't.

Last week I was rolling to the Corner Market to purchase meds for my bookends who were sporting fevers (because even homeschooled kids get sick) when the front right tire just popped. I pulled over and set to work changing the tire from flat to donut and was back on the road ten minutes later. Now, Ennie has mentioned, countless times, that her tires are bald but tires aren't free and don't magically appear. The stars of money and time must be aligned for pretty much anything to happen. Thankfully those stars aligned on Friday.

Around 11:00 a.m. Friday morning, I headed to the Discount Tire before the stars left that perfect alignment and wouldn't you know it, the Discount Tire was closed.

All of them.

In the country.

Literally.

The founder of Discount Tire had died and every Discount Tire was closed from 10-2 so that every employee could attend the funeral. It wasn't posted on the door or on the website, but it was the message one got when one called Discount Tire.

So I attempted to occupy my time at a nearby shopping center to avoid putting more miles on the donut, but I got bored and went home. At 2:15 Eenie and I headed back to Discount Tire and had soon purchased four new tires. We only needed two but the other two would be needed sooner rather than later and the stars were still aligned.

We walked to the McDonalds only to find the lobby was closed. The drive thru was still open, but one must be in a car to use it and we had left our car across the street. We took a chance and strolled up to the window where we explained that we would have brought a car had we known it was required, and the women in the window begrudgingly allowed us to buy drinks.

We walked back to the Discount Tire where we raced bar stools until the car was ready and then Ennie drove us home because bar stool racing left me dizzy. Mr. D also required tires, though half as many, so for those of you who need help, that's six tires.

The next day was even funner.

Mr. D went grocery shopping Friday night and pulled the van into the driveway to unload it. However, he opted to leave it there. I had taken Eenie's car for the night and when I got home at eleven, I parked next to the van instead of parking across the street.

The next morning, Mr. D decided to see his parents, but wanted his car which was in front of the van, in the garage. Stay with me, it's relevant.

He moved the van behind Eenie's car and then told me the ignition was hesitating in the van and I should see about the battery before I found myself stranded somewhere. Then he left. Meenie and I were supposed to go pick her friend up so a few minutes later we get in the van and, wouldn't you know it, it wouldn't start. I popped the hood and found one of the posts was covered in corrosion!

That was great because lots of time corrosion disrupts the current and simply removing the corrosion is all that is required to get the vehicle running again. I removed the corrosion, but sometimes it takes the battery a minute that I didn't have to respond. However, the van was blocking the car...

Luckily the spacing between the van, the car and the garage was enough that one perfect three point turn later, Meenie and I were on the road.

We stopped at Auto Zone on the way home because I had noticed the post connection on the battery would need to be changed because of the corrosion. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to teach my girls a useful skill. It was supposed to be an easy fix. I mean, the connector from the post snapped off in my hand! It was half done already, but dang it all if it didn't just suck from there. One little nut stood between me and a completed job.

One. Little. Nut. that refused to budge. I sent the girls inside when it became clear things weren't progressing. I tore up my fingers, bruised my forearms and knees and cursed a blue streak all to no avail. Mr. D strolled up two hours later and used a hacksaw to cut the screw off. So Simple!

Grrrr...Whatever, it was done.

Of course it was a chore tightening the connector to the post of the brand new battery we ended up buying, and after five minutes of complaining, Mr. D decided he was going to buy a less annoying connector and left. I had it tight before he got back, hands empty, because the connector I had purchased was the only kind Auto Zone had that would work in the van. Which was why I bought it. He asked why I didn't say something before.

Why hadn't I said something? So, so, many reasons.

1. I had been working on it all day and he was ready to quit after five minutes?
2. I needed him to leave before one of us got slapped?
3. He wouldn't have accepted my answer?
4. I needed him to leave before one of us got slapped?

I was pretty proud of my three point turn and while I was explaining how I'd gotten out of the driveway, he cut my off with a snarky, "I know, you drove across the grass." 

(Long pause as I wait for my eyes to stop rolling.)

"Three point turn, nothing but driveway. Suck it!"

Six tires and one battery later, the stars have changed position. If there is any further need it's just gonna have to wait.

P.S. After reading this to Mr. D his one comment was "I'm always the bad guy in this thing, but if it makes you laugh..."



Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017...

She's smiling in this one.
Holy roasted turkey, batman! It has literally taken two hours to prepare for this post. First, I had to move the pictures from my phone to my computer. That took freakin forever. Just...forever. I tried emailing them to myself but it would only allow me to attach two photos at a time and the two emails I sent still haven't arrived in my inbox. Before you ask if I actually press send, let me stop you right there. I don't remember.

 Anyway, once my phone had purged it's contents onto my computer, I spent half an hour deleting half of the pictures because they were ads for apps. How does that happen? Why did I have to do it right then? Because I am easily distracted.

This post is going to heavy on the sap...and pictures.

As we do every year, my family loaded up our van and headed to Nemo, Texas for our annual Thanksgiving at Gramma's. From where we live it's about an hour and fifteen minutes of driving. We added another half an hour this year because my sister doesn't trust her ride not to leave her stranded in the deep wild. Also, as is the tradition, we stopped at QT for drinks and snacks. If you've read this blog before, you know why we eat before we eat. If you have not, two words: Desert turkey.

Meenie, Poke, and Miney

Me and Mesha
This turkey must have been a terrible bird whilst among the living because my beloved Gramma is able to bake every last ounce of fluid from the flesh of that poor creature. It turns to dust when you touch it and we don't dare take a bite unless we have a pitcher of water within reach. This year was no different. I don't know what I would do if it ever was. 

Someone brought mac and cheese this year. It was delicious. My Gramma had nothing to do with it's preparation, I assure you. Because it was delicious. My cousin was gnawing on a dry cornbread muffin when she turned to me and said, "I'm bringing the rolls next year." Then we reminisced about the good old days when we had dry brown and serve rolls instead of dry cornbread muffins.

My Gramma, Lord love her, will not allow any help so my aunts and Mesha, my cousin, have taken to sneaking dishes in on the sly. Mesha and I were talking about her dad's stuffing which her husband Michael said he would interrupt his nap for (that means it's done well) and she said I would love it, too. I told her I don't eat stuffing...ever. If someone is able to turn food gray, it's off the list forever. Gramma managed that a few years ago with her gray stuffing loaf. My father in law made gray gravy once.

If you squeeze the honey bear will it not bleed...ketchup.


I will have my picture...
My cousins and I comment amongst ourselves about Gramma's inedible foods, but we still make the point to come every year. She calls every year to ask if we're coming. Every year we have a blessing on the food. Every year my cousin's widower comes bearing a cheesecake. Every year my cousin, Robin, greets me as Baby Diana.

Gotcha!
Still happy
I was worried, when my Grampa died, that we would lose that side of the family. Sometimes patchwork families are only held together with the threads that bound them, but it hasn't been that way with us. When we get married, out spouses become part of the group and every one of them call my Gramma "Gramma" instead of her given name.

Gramma gonna show you how it's done.
We've been lax about taking pictures in years past. I don't know how much longer Gramma will be burning turkeys and whipping up gray stuffing, but I won't make the mistake of not taking pictures again.

Happy Thanksgiving and Junk!
Most of the whole fam damily!
and some more.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Here We Go Again...

It's that time of year again! Don't be so coy, you know what time it is...No, it's not the time where we give thanks and eat turkey. Try again.

Nope, it's not gift giving and family togetherness, either. Give up?

It's the season of butthurt!

First, let me explain butthurt. My sister, who is younger and therefore cooler that me, introduced me to the word a couple of years ago when she was younger and cooler than she is now. Butthurt involves allowing your feelings to be bruised by another's actions or words. It's usually reserved for minor infractions and I know that peoples feelings are important, but sometimes those feelings are allowed to run free, unchecked, unfettered and uncontrolled.

This season's butthurtedness (I just coined that word) comes to us from Starbucks who, you'll remember last year, or the year before, made their holiday cups red. Apparently this was offensive to some people. Never did get why.

They have doubled down on their offensiveness this year by bringing us a cup which, in some way or another, pushes the gay agenda and also makes some people feel that they are being compelled to color said cup, as the designs are colorless. Again, I don't get it. Who can say no to coloring?

Here's the things though...was someone really offended by a cup?

I wonder these days how often such accusations are actually a thing. I mean I realize, as a country, we have become a ravenous lynch mob gleefully waiting for the next opportunity to pounce at the least provocation. We wholeheartedly jump on the judgey wagon as soon as it comes rolling by, but how often do we stop for even 1/10th of a second to think, "maybe it was a slow news day. Someone needed something to write about and since no one fact checks or thinks anymore we'll just throw this little number in there and see who bites."

To be honest, I have done my fair share of gasping whilst clutching the pearls when some random story crosses my news feed, but I'm starting to think I've been led by the nose. And it's my fault because I have to power to stop and think, but I've forgotten how to use it.

I remember having dinner one night on my mission, and telling the lady of the house that the word "gullible" wasn't in the dictionary. If you let that trip you up for even one minute, shame on you. It's totally there. It's always there. However, she looked at me with wide eyes for a minute and then shook her head. "Prickett," she said, (that was my name back then) "I'm never believing anything you say ever again." And you know what, that is the attitude we should all be embracing because how many times have we caught the media telling lies? Even the "reputable" ones.

And now any halfwit with internet access can type up whatever they want and forward it into eternity. Look at me, I'm half of a half wit and I'm here typing up a storm.

When I was in college Wikipedia was considered an un-cite-able site because it wasn't a reliable source of information for writing a paper, as anyone can add or delete whatever they like. Snopes was found to be less unbiased and more bent, except people still refer to it as the authority on all things right and true. Ed and Lorraine Warren have been proven to be shysters and people still hire them to rid their homes of ghosts. How many times have we gotten information from a dubious source and still passed it on as fact?

When I realized my former stepfather and former best friend were habitual liars, I had to reevaluate everything they had ever said because I can't be certain what was a lie; from stories they told to experiences they shared. I refuse to perpetuate the lies, but it's hard. Anytime I want to share a story I have to stop and think, "is this one I was there for, or one they said happened to them?" I can only trust the experiences that I was a part of, that I know actually happened.

Which is why I question the veracity of someone questioning the agenda of a cup. Can a coffee cup have an agenda? Or be gay? It's a processed piece of dead tree. I'm pretty sure it's sexual drive was pressed out when it was pulped.

So, is it possible someone got their panties in a twist about a disposable piece of cardboard? Totally! Is there a war on Christmas? Maybe. Is there a gay agenda at work in that overpriced cup of caffeine with a little cream?

Maybe, but if there is, why are we giving fuel to the fire? If it isn't, why are we getting all worked up? Either way, who flippin cares! There are still real problems out there, but everyone is so focused on stupid things the important things are going unresolved. We are allowing the tail to wag the dog and burning up all of our energy on trivial matters.

Maybe that is the goal, to get us all worked up into a lather so we're too distracted to the fix the things that are really broken.

If that is the case, how sad is it that it's working? Also, who are these people? There seems to be a lot of organization behind THEM. Do THEY have monthly meetings? How many of THEM are there? Do THEY even know THEY are the THEY in question?

I think the intention was to celebrate a season of giving and the creator of "the cup" was trying his level best to design something that would include the joy of the season without excluding any one group of people.

I'm sorry Starbucks Holiday Cup Designer, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Take One and Pass It Around...

Can somebody explain to me why I can buy Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen in 50 gallon drums, but it's a miracle if I can find Midol in anything greater than a 40 count? A forty count bottle shared among four women.

I've been female my whole life and a "woman" for almost thirty years. I was unprepared for the day I "became a woman". I mean, I watched "the movie" in seventh grade, but the actresses were discussing using the belt. The belt was no longer a thing when I was in the seventh grade. I had to go home and ask my mom how a belt had anything to do with my upcoming affliction.

My dad pulled me aside shortly before I went through the change. He wanted to tell me that PMS was something women claimed to excuse their behavior. He said he had a friend when he was a teen and he never knew when her aunt was visiting because she was never moody or angry or unpleasant. I legitimately thought something was wrong with me when every month, like clockwork, I hated everybody. Thanks dad.

Mr. D only had brothers and his mother is the most composed woman I have ever met. One one hand, that is admirable. On the other, it was a tremendous disservice to Mr. D because most women aren't 100% rational all the time. If I can't melt down in my own house...

I mean, I'm not a crazy person, but compared to his mother I'm a raging lunatic. Which is why we are counseled not to compare ourselves to others (dad).

I'd like to say that in our early married life Mr. D had peace for a couple of weeks every month, but I got pregnant five minutes after the wedding and stayed that way for the better part of ten years. In that ten years I gave birth to three other females and the cards were stacked against him. He said that once the girls reached puberty, he was taking our son and moving into an apartment until the smoke cleared. It's funny depending on the day. If Midol is in the house, it's hilarious. If there's no Midol, it's dangerous.

I have to say he has admirably adjusted to the hormonal surges. I know he still doesn't understand why we don't "just stop being cranky" when we know we're being cranky. So I'm going to try and explain.

Approximately seven to ten days before our Aunt (we'll call her Flo) comes for her monthly visit, she decides she needs to redecorate even though no one has visited since the last time she cleaned house. However, demolitions are painful. Knocking down walls sounds like fun, but after a full day of swinging a sledgehammer it starts to get real. Real painful. Just imagine swinging a sledgehammer everyday for a week. Then imagine how sore your arms will be for a few days after. It's a constant throb and Tylenol barely takes the edge off.

I remember seeing random dancing threads at the bottom of old movies. I could only ignore them for so long but even then I could still see them from the corner of my eyes. It's the same way with Flo except cramps and uterus. Things that bother me are exacerbated by the dull ache that is my constant companion as I wait for Flo's arrival.

However, I have always found it enraging when my feelings are casually dismissed as PMS (by men and (gasp) women - you know better).

Example: Just because I'm overly emotional, but doesn't mean you aren't an a-hole.

That's why as my girls have started down the path to womanhood, I have made a conscious decision in how I deal with the inevitable meltdowns that occasionally rear their ugly heads. Maybe it can be of use to others and it goes like this.

Teen in melt down: Mom, I want to punch her in the head.

Me: I know when (insert sibling) does (insert behavior) it upsets you. However, the level of anger your are currently expressing is of greater magnitude than you would usually express. Do you agree?

Teen in meltdown tearfully nodding because her feeling have been acknowledged: Yes, mom.

Me: Go take a Midol and have a time out.

It's worked pretty well so far.

P.S. I have to give myself timeouts, too.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Jesus Take the Wheel...

I feel like I've been living on borrowed time since I was about eighteen. Every time I get into a car I'm taking my life into my hands and it seems my oldest, Ennie, has taken up that mantle and run with it (driven with it?) She's been in two fender benders in the last month.

The first time the driver of a white van threw it in reverse and backed into her left front fender as they shared the turn lane. Then he just left.

The second time she was driving down a street where the cross roads have stop signs. However, some people seem to think a stop sign is more of a suggestion and some woman rolled right through the stop sign into my daughters right front fender. This time she was able to get insurance information and pictures. She also exclaimed her first foul declaration when she came through the door. I'm so proud.

Her recent course in crash reminds me of a time when I was about her age. I had an old Volkswagon Dasher as my first car. I'd never seen a V.W. Dasher before and haven't seen once since, but the Dasher was Volkswagon's answer to the station wagon. My brother rebuilt the engine and since it was the first engine he'd ever attempted, he had a handful of nuts and bolts left over. He hadn't started with extra nuts and bolts. It rattled loudly, lacked heat and air, and the radio had a dial. The antennae had been lost ages before so any station that could be found was impossible to hear through the static. I kept a tape player in the front seat. It was so sad.

Anyway, in the beginning months of my eighteenth year, I was rolling down a street in my neighborhood when some dingus in a van pulled over to the right and stopped. I waited a moment and when it was clear to me that he was stopped, I attempted to go around him. That's when he decided to take a wide turn to the left. He smashed my right fender. His wife vaulted from the passenger side screaming obscenities and all of a sudden my mom appeared! I was about four houses away from mine but she was there in a blink. She and my stepdad had been driving in front of the van. My mom sounded so worried when she told me she'd dropped her roast beef sandwich on the ground because of me. I always felt so important.

The next day, I was headed to a hair appointment when I rear ended a woman on the highway. It was rainy and the road was slick. My car hydroplaned into hers. I'll admit my actions after the fact were ill-advised.

I continued on to my hair appointment.

It was the days before cell phones, but my parents still managed to get a hold of me. The woman I hit had called the insurance company, who had called them. There really is no excuse for the way I handled it except, roast beef sandwich.

I was told I would no longer be allowed to drive because I had become a liability. This is where it gets stupid. See, my brother, who was seventeen at the time, was an even greater liability that me! He already had two speeding tickets under his belt. Also, he'd taken out a retaining wall in Hurst. And he'd driven away with the gas hose still in his car. And he was actually on his second car because he'd wrapped the first one around a sapling, but I was the liability.

I might still be bitter about that.

Anyway, it got worse from there as the next year, while riding home from a New Year's Eve party, we found ourselves watching in astonishment as the rear tire rolled up next to us and then passed us on the highway. A few days later, I was a passenger in a friends's car when we got t-boned as we turned left on a green arrow.

A few years later, I was leaving work one after noon in the right lane waiting to turn. There was a shopping center beside me and I inched up the lane as the cars would turn right and this little old lady hit my passenger side. She jumped out of the car screaming about how we youngsters were always speeding down the street. Luckily there was a cop nearby who could verify that I was, in fact, stopped when she hit me.

Then there was the time I was headed to a friend's house in my MommyMobile, a red minivan. This little old man backed out of his driveway as I passed behind him. He said he just didn't see me because he was looking at his grandson who was in the passenger seat beside him. Whatever.

But it all started when I was about eight. My mom was headed to the post office to get our mail. Our house was so rural the post office didn't even deliver. So my mom says she's going to get the mail and my brother and I jump in the passenger seat at the same time. Note, this is the same brother who rebuilt my car engine and also managed to not be a liability in spite of his shenanigans. He and I were wrestling over the front seat as she started the van and then headed down the gravel road. Apparently the door had not been closed well and with one hard shove I found myself hitting the ground and rolling into the ditch. My mom was at the end of the road before she realized I was gone and slammed on the brakes. She reversed back to where I landed and laughingly asked if I was okay.

I've never been as important as a roast beef sandwich.