At last.

October 15, 2013

I was too busy wandering around in a folk-royalty-induced fog yesterday to report this, but the fence guys finished enclosing our backyard yesterday, and my dogs are now contentedly wandering around out there, barking at imaginary varmints and stretching their legs more than they’ve been able to do since we moved.

The fence — a six-foot-high wooden job that should discourage busybodies from getting too inquisitive about my garden and its inhabitants — enables us to finish settling in like we mean it.

Without a fence, I was afraid to put in a pond or an in-ground dog waste composter, lest an errant child wander into the yard and fall into one or both. Without a fence, I was afraid to put in a beehive, lest an apiphobic neighbor complain to the city and inspire a flurry of anti-honeybee legislation at City Hall. Without a fence, I was afraid to adopt any chickens, as I am not entirely sure they are legal inside city limits.

With a fence, I can have all the bees and chooks and goldfish and rabbits and composters and other Have-More-Plan luxuries I can cram onto this small but remarkably fertile property of ours.

Self-sufficiency commencing in 3 … 2 … 1….

Emily


Back to basics (and feeling awesome)

October 4, 2013

We closed on the House of the Lifted Lorax on Monday (congratulations to new owner Josh, who is way amped about the solar panels and the woodstove, and whose young niece is way amped about the Lorax mural on the side of the garage), which means we have just enough money in the bank to pay off our moving expenses and put a privacy fence around the backyard.

You can’t fully appreciate the value of a good fence until you’ve spent six months putting out a pair of hyperactive dogs on short cables umpteen times a day. Yeesh.

In addition to affording us the convenience of opening the back door and letting Song and Riggy take themselves out, this fence will free us up to establish a new beehive, adopt some chooks, install a pond, start a compost pile, and — if I’m feeling really ambitious — maybe set up a small warren of rabbits without interference from curious neighbors of either the two- or four-footed variety.

I put in an experimental, totally halfassed garden this spring and learned enough about my new yard to feel pretty confident taking my usual “Darwin Garden” approach: Coddle the tomatoes and leave everything else to natural selection. So far, I’ve determined that California poppies won’t do a damn thing; cucumbers, strawberries, arugula and most herbs will thrive with absolutely no attention; green beans should do well with minimal attention; and tomatoes should perform fairly well if we choose a variety that’s tolerant of partial shade and try to protect it from the local wildlife.

After meeting the new owner of the old house Monday and giving him some pointers on living the eco-hippie life to its fullest, I’m in full-on DIY mode, so this afternoon, I mixed up a batch of homemade laundry detergent and am currently trolling for dishwasher detergent recipes, since I’ve got plenty of washing soda and borax left over.

Also on the to-do list for this afternoon: Get a new set of shelves for the basement, join a gym, stock up on soup and chili ingredients, find the source of the smell coming from the kitchen drain, and work on the coupon books I’m making the kids for Christmas.

Life is good.

Emily


Update from the garden

May 11, 2013

We had several cool days right after I planted, so the garden hasn’t grown quite as fast as I’d like, but I’m finally seeing some progress out there: A couple of the strawberry plants are setting fruit, the cucumbers are starting to sprout, the dill is up, a few cilantro seeds have sprouted, and the arugula and California poppy sprouts are starting to put out grown-up leaves. Today was warm, and we got a little sprinkling of rain this afternoon, so hopefully I’ll see some real progress soon.

In other news, I am still thoroughly enjoying my job, my proximity to my family, and my new house. We finally closed on the house Monday, so I’m hoping to spend part of my weekend hanging pictures and making it feel just a little more like home. I think I might stash most of the pictures in the garage and just rotate them in and out, though. Our old house looked sort of cluttered because we had way too much stuff on the walls. I’m fine with the office looking like somebody’s dorm room, but I think I’d rather the rest of the house look a little cleaner.

I kicked off my weekend in a thoroughly unproductive fashion: Nap, sudoku, and guitar. It was lovely.

Hope your weekend is off to a good start, wherever you are.

Emily


Slacking

February 10, 2013

OK … I’ve been slacking this week. I had great intentions about blogging, but I was scrambling hell-for-leather to make a deadline at the office this week, and then I had a creative outburst that had to be indulged with canvas and acrylics Friday night, and Riggy had a vet appointment Saturday morning, and there were errands to run, and church this morning, and photos to shoot for work this afternoon, and a trip to the dog park, and in between, I’ve been playing and playing and playing and playing my guitar.

I’m still not very good, but I’m getting better, and I have finally almost gotten the hang of “Diamonds and Rust” and “Love Song to a Stranger.” Today I learned “One Tin Soldier,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “The Marvelous Toy,” and a new arrangement of “Deportee” that sounds better than the other one I’d been dinking around with. I’m also getting pretty good at “Helplessly Hoping.”

I didn’t realize how much I needed this. No wonder I’ve been so tense for so long: My church doesn’t have a choir, I haven’t done karaoke in years, and I gave away my piano before we moved, so I haven’t really had a musical outlet in ages.

Learning to play acoustic guitar is easily the best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made. Even if I suck forever — which is unlikely given the speed at which I have been improving lately — it’s way cheaper than therapy.

Emily


Countdown

February 1, 2013

It’s a chilly, quiet evening in Red Fork. I’ve got the Mamas and the Papas on Spotify and visions of art projects dancing in my head. I feel a creative outburst lurking around the corner, but I think I can keep it at bay long enough to get some much-needed sleep tonight.

Phillies pitchers and catchers report to spring training in nine days.

Life is good.

Emily


Decision

January 27, 2013

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

I worked with several kids with Asperger syndrome or other autism spectrum disorders during the course of my four years at Webster.

I adored those kids.

They don’t know it, but just by being part of my class, they gave Riggy a better mommy. That seems fair, since Scout gave them a better teacher. “The gift goes on,” as Sandi Patty says.

This video made me cry.

I am applying to grad school this week. For reasons.

Emily


How to reduce your stress levels

January 26, 2013

The other day, I found myself entangled in yet another Facebook conversation with a low-information voter who gets all his ideas from talk radio and direct-mail propaganda and thinks that changing the subject is a valid debate strategy.

You know the type: He starts a debate over something like whether ordinary civilians should have military-style assault rifles with high-capacity clips, and as soon as you start asking questions he can’t answer, he starts citing statistics about handgun bans. Nobody was talking about banning handguns, but he thinks he’s the second coming of Stephen Douglas because he’s managed to prove a point, and never mind that the point has absolutely nothing to do with the subject actually being debated.

Talking to one of these people is like trying to have an intelligent conversation with the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It gets tiresome after a while, and if you unfriend him, you only reinforce his bad behavior by making him think he scared you away with his Mad Debate Skillz.™ (“Come back here, you pansy! I’ll bite your legs off!”)

I solved the problem by announcing that from here on in, every time I saw a conservative blathering about guns, gays, abortion, President Obama, or Hillary Clinton on Facebook, I was going to donate a dollar to Hillary’s presidential campaign. (If she doesn’t run, the money goes to the Democrat of my choosing.)

My Facebook acquaintances now have three options:

1. Shut up.
2. Help pour money into the enemy’s war chest.
3. Unfriend me.

I don’t particularly care which option they choose. If they choose 1 or 3, I don’t have to listen to them. If they choose 2 … well, after watching her destroy a mansplainer the other day, I’m willing to make some sacrifices for mah-girl. I put two bucks in her jar this afternoon, and I’ve never been happier to see obnoxious political spam crawling across my feed.

Emily


Resolutions

January 7, 2013

I didn’t have many New Year’s resolutions this year, but I did promise myself I’d do more hippie crap, because it makes me happy.

Here’s my first real effort in that direction:

sprouts1

sprouts2

I ordered a sprouter before Christmas. It came in before I left for Tucumcari, but I didn’t start any seeds until I got home. I now have two trays full of alfalfa sprouts and a tray of lentil sprouts. I’m looking forward to eating them in salad tomorrow.

Sprouts are nice. They’re cheap to grow, and they taste like spring, which makes them especially nice in the middle of January.

As January evenings go, this one isn’t bad. I’ve got Emmylou Harris on Spotify, a cup of Wild Berry Zinger on my desk (sweetened with honey from our apiary, of course), and a design project in front of me. It’s not the ballpark on a hot summer evening, but it’s acceptable.

Speaking of the ballpark, Phillies pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 36 days. Eep!

If I’ve counted right, we’re also 93 days out from the Drillers‘ home opener. The bad news is that I will be missing that game. The good news is that I will be missing that game because I will be sitting in the second row at a Judy Collins concert in Kansas.

Sometimes my life is just flat awesome.

Emily


Bless Me, Ultima

January 6, 2013

During my trip to New Mexico last weekend, I wandered over to Santa Rosa to see the public art installation honoring local author Rudolfo Anaya of Bless Me, Ultima fame. I was aware of the park and the statue of Anaya himself, but last Sunday was the first time I’d noticed the bronze plates embedded in the walkway around the fountain. Each one contains a handwritten quotation from Bless Me, Ultima, which you really must read if you haven’t already.

Here are a few images from the park:

ultima4

The Anaya statue.

ultima3

Instagram of the tablet in his hand. The text reads: “Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you.” When I die, I don’t want a funeral. I want to be cremated, and I want somebody to stand on Tucumcari Mountain and read this passage to whoever needs to hear it before turning my finely powdered butt loose to ride the New Mexico wind.

ultima2

Instagram of one of the bronze plates. This one says: “It is because good is always stronger than evil, always remember that, Antonio. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the power of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant.” At some point in the not-too-distant future, we should probably discuss the metaphysics of that statement.

ultima1

And this one: “‘Bless me, Ultima–’ Her hand touched my forehead and her last words were, ‘I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live.”

I like how the words sort of depend on the dust from the llano to make them legible. I don’t know whether that was intentional, but it really fits, given the importance of setting in Anaya’s work.

Emily


Finished!

January 2, 2013

I have finally finished the novel. Every section of it that needed major additions/deletions/reworking is complete. Sierra is on paper, and her father’s side of the story is on paper.

This evening, I expect to sleep more soundly than I’ve slept at any point since I was 15.

God bless all of you who were involved in any part of this process. Some of you know who you are. Some of you don’t. Whether you were aware of your involvement or not, I love you. Sierra loves you. Joey and Morgan and Miss Shirley and Grant and Harvey and Lil Miss and Skinny and Hank and Bill and Dr. Scherer and Nettie and Brother Jerry and Abuelito and the CSNY kittens and the entire population of the nonexistent town of Coldwater, N.M., love you.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts — real or fictional.

Now … I have a favor to ask of you: Please don’t ask me when the book will be available. Writing it was the easy part. It is likely to be years before you find yourself standing in line at some indie bookstore to get my autograph on a copy of Greetings from Coldwater – if that ever happens at all. Once I’ve had a few days to rest on my laurels and recharge my batteries and reread the manuscript to make sure I’m comfortable enough with it to send it out into the world, I will begin exploring my options.

Right now, I believe my options are either decaf cappuccino from the Phoenix or a carton of Ben and Jerry’s from QuikTrip. Or maybe all of the above.

Emily


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