They’ve Arrived!

I know there were things I did before kittens. I know life was full and busy. I had hobbies and to-do lists. I think I worked sometimes? I fed and cleaned up after some other beings. What were they?

Okay, I honestly can’t remember.

Oh right! I used to blog! I should totally do that again! But what does one blog about when one has spent a week solid hanging out in the cloffice with kittens?

Oh right! How many hours of videos should I post here? All of them?! Y’alls crazy! Let’s start with a couple pictures.

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The gray is a girl and the black a boy. Sister and brother. I am no longer the only female in the house! *throws confetti*

We went through many name ideas. Princess Buttercup and Inigo Montoya, Boba and Binx, Samoa Joe and Razor Ramona, before settling on our original choices of Boba (him) and Matcha (her).

Boba enjoys growling when he catches his favorite toy and acting like he wants to be pet, then sitting just out of arm’s reach. He will wake from a dead sleep to play if you walk into the room with a toy.

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Matcha wants to be worn like a neck scarf. She also enjoys being a prairie dog, getting into tight places, and climbing curtains.

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(Checking to see if she fits so she can sits.) (She does.) (She fits everywhere.)

They both want to eat my face. It is hard to take a picture of two cats trying to eat my face, but this one gives you an idea.

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Matcha jumps gracefully into a high-up box. Boba studies her carefully. He jumps. Biffs it. Licks a paw and walks away like that’s what he was trying to do. He is a mouser; she’s a birder. He is infantry, she is air force.

The boys, you can imagine, are ecstatic and cannot get enough of the cats, playing, snuggling, laughing.

You can stop imagining now. The boys are completely uninterested in the cats.

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I had to give him a candy bar to take this picture.

In conclusion, cats!

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Kitty cats!

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftovers, including…
Pasta with fontina and prosciutto
Spaghetti with meat sauce
Roasted broccoli
Bread (thanks, MIL!)
Chocolate cheesecake
PB&J thumbprint cookies

Feeling Squashed

Well look who came through after all!

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Good ol’ butternut squash.

I texted that picture to my mom and sisters and you know what they said? They accused me of going to the store and buying butternut squash to trick them.

I started to write an incensed text back about how next they were probably going to accuse me of buying dozens and dozens of cucumbers just to fool them into thinking I grew all those too. But then I deleted the text because that does sound just like something I’d do.

Seriously, did I even grow these?

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Or is it just part of an elaborate scheme to make myself look better than anyone else in my family who tried to grow vegetables this summer?

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And are those babies even real?

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We may never know.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tuna melts
Chicken noodle soup
Pan-fried cauliflower
Chocolate chip cookies

Pinch Me

I have only had a handful of good dreams in my entire life. Most nights I’m tormented by bad dreams and nightmares, and they’re not even good ones. The major themes of my dreams are being lost, being late, being confused, not getting to play in a basketball game, and drowning. I have drowned so many, many times in my dreams, and usually it’s in stupid circumstances, like I’m in the baby pool.

A typical night of dreams might have me sending out an e-mail with the wrong sign-up dates for a school play, resulting in a line of angry parents wanting to talk to me. Then I might go into school for a sub job only to have another sub show up because it’s actually her sub job. As the night progresses, I might send out an e-mail to myself test my ownership of a new domain, and the e-mail might say, “Hey you sexy thang!” And then I might find out I sent it to the whole group. I might try to remedy this by sending out an apology letter to the whole group, only to find out hours later that I sent it to just one person. Then my son might call me from school to say I was supposed to be at a meeting 10 minutes ago. You get the idea. The only good thing is that within minutes of waking up, I forget all of it and go about with my day where I don’t drown even once.

Except that all that stuff I just wrote there, about the messed up dates and the wrong sub job and the test e-mail? That was today. Actual today. Fully awake today. Only, by the grace of God, I did not write “Hey you sexy thang” in the test e-mail, as I often do when I need to e-mail myself something.

It’s 6PM now and while I could use a relaxing soak in the tub to wash off the day, I think it’s best I don’t go anywhere near water.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Quiche
Roasted broccoli
Pan-fried potatoes

College of One

Ah! Time has flown, as it is wont to do, and it’s now the third week of school! I felt blue the first week, angsty the second week, and calm this third week. I’m living a life of leisure but still feeling worn out at the end of each day. I vacillate between worrying that I’ve become lazy and feeling like I’m doing too much.

I spend a couple hours each day working on my stories now, and while it feels like I’m not getting anywhere, this week I’m able to look at the writing objectively instead of through a lens of self-flagellation. That’s something brand new for me! In fact, there are a lot of new things I’m doing lately.

  • I’m teaching myself Italian.
  • I booked a vacation to Arches, Zion, and Bryce Canyon (usually I just come up with the big idea and let Kevin do all the booking).
  • I got suckered into being the producer on Rocco’s plays after 7 years of hiding whenever the outgoing producer looked my way.
  • I’m volunteering at Hopelink with my neighbor—usually stocking the food market, but sometimes going out to farms to do gleaning and pretending that it’s my farm and my barn and my one-lane road lined with giant poplars.
  • I’m making artistic arrangements with the sarcastic amount of cucumbers our two vines put out.
  • I made the switch to digital scrapbooking.
  • I’m scouting out kittens at our local cat shelter!!

And of course there are all the old things, like reading, gardening, subbing, cooking, baking, carpooling, and all the other activities that get lumped into the term “homemaking” and given a bad rap even though they are the very best things in life.

It feels like I’m in a class with a really vague description at a liberal arts colleges that “goes beyond majors and minors,” where all the cafes are vegan and you make up your own grades. That’s fine with me—I’ve always loved being a student. This quarter, I’m going to grade myself in kittens because grading myself by cucumbers would be too easy.

(These are all from different harvests.)

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I’ll let you know when the final grades come in.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Hashbrowns, sausages, & eggs

First Day Pix

I’m doing better today. Cried off and on yesterday morning, then I sat down to  write for the first time in a month and realized how much I had missed it. It’s not all bad having the kids back in school! Instantly after having that thought, I began to feel anxious about writing tomorrow, which is now today. I sat down to write today and loved it. (!!) Currently, I am feeling anxious about writing tomorrow.

I’m beginning to think it’s not writing that’s the problem. You know what they say: No matter where you go, there you are.

But now, in a segment that causes me no anxiety at all, I present to you the Back to School Pix! The first three in the series are called: Leo has a Cracker in his Mouth

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This next one is called Leo Ate the Cracker but You Really Can’t Tell

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Here’s one called We Don’t Know if Leo has a Cracker in his Mouth

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This one is called Now There’s a Bug on Leo’s Hand

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And finally, a picture that has nothing to do with crackers or bugs or snide comments. I call it Untitled.

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Also, when did Rocco start looking like a Nickelodeon boy?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken yakisoba
Fruit salad
Chocolate cupcakes

This Morning

Skinny-legged Leo, on his first day of fifth grade, cheerfully taking his goodbye kiss then running off, arms akimbo, backpack bouncing, bounding toward his year.

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Me standing there, turning away as the tears came.

This is the first day of his last year of elementary school. It’s the beginning of his year, but it is the end of something precious for me.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Twice baked potatoes
Roasted broccoli
Peanut butter cookies

Scare Tactics

After reading my last blog post and seeing what I did to all its little friends, the cucumber plant went and did this, all in one night.

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What am I going to do with so many cucumbers?!

(Ooo, it feels so good to ask that!)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE
Fair fare!

Vegetable Garden

I have been trying to grow vegetables for years. There were a few years when I had more tomatoes or beans or kale than I knew what to do with, but those were bright spots on a long, farrow journey.

This year started the same: with neat rows of beans and peas, a patch of kale, some leeks that overwintered, two cucumber plants, and four butternut squash. I tucked everything in, sprinkled it with Sluggo and surveyed the hopeful starts. This is going to be My Year, I thought.

The slugs promptly ate the beans.

I planted more beans. I used more Sluggo. They ate that, too. I planted more beans. I used an ungoldly amount of Sluggo. The bean plants greened and grew and plumped. I was right! This really was going to be My Year!

The beans even made it so far as to cover themselves with white flowers before the rabbits ate them down to nothing.

Just about that time, my first crop of peas produced several lovely handfuls. “This is My Year,” I told my family as we divvied up the peas! I planted a second crop. The rabbits, all hopped up on bean power, ate it down to the dirt.

Fortunately, nothing ever wants to eat the kale. At least they didn’t until My Year. I had to plant a first crop, a second crop, and a third crop or, as the slugs called it, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The good news is that they didn’t eat the leeks! The bad news is that leeks, in fact, do not overwinter well and were inedible.

Even the tomatoes, which back in the day we couldn’t keep up with, just sat there doing nothing this year.

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You are looking at the green tomatoes on this bush thinking, “Well, at least you got something.”  Right. These are the same tomatoes that were already on the plant when I put it in the ground in June. None of the plants grew a single inch. I think they’re infested with nemotodes, so I guess you can’t say we grew nothing.

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But all was not lost.The cucumber plants made it through unscathed! Last week I picked the first one.

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Let’s just roll ‘er over…

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Oh rats! Or perhaps something more sinister?

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But wait—we have fruit trees. Lots of fruit trees!  Pear, fig, and plum, 4 blueberry bushes, and three apple trees. Let’s glean!

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That’s it. That’s all we got.

I’m afraid to turn it over…

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Yep.

The rest of the fruit trees didn’t get anything on them and the birds ate every last blueberry.

But there was still one last hope. Behold: my butternut squash plants.

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I’ve got butternut squash for miles! This is My Butternut Squash Year!

Of course, this presents a new problem of what I’m going to do with buckets of butternut squash…but how fun it will be to brag about my problem to my friends!

Let’s just push the leaves aside and pick a few.

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Why am I even surprised? I don’t know what would make squash turn brown and shrivel on the vine, but it’s starting to feel personal. It’s not the baby’s fault; he’s just there for scale.

All this is to say that last weekend, in a moment of passion, I went and ripped it all out. Not the cucumbers or butternut squash, which I still have hope for, but every last bean and pea and tomato plant there is. I yanked it up by the roots and kicked it all into a pile.

It was not a very big pile.

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I’m done with vegetable gardening. I’m done losing the same battle year after year after year. Wow, it’s actually a relief to say that. The vegetable garden was so much work for such little payoff, and May’s hope was not worth June, July, and August’s frustration. The slugs hold no power over me anymore.

The wind seems softer lately. The sun seems brighter. I smile more now, especially when I imagine what I’ll do with vegetable garden next year. Something like this:

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Yes, I will plant a garden chockful of black-eyed susans, lupine, coneflowers, foxglove, and all other manner of flowers that are poisonous to wildlife.

Next year is going to be My Year.

*A special thanks to my younger sister for leaving a bag of babies on my front porch. This was not the actual reason I asked for her babies, but what a fun detour it has been!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Salmon burgers
Pan-fried potatoes
Blackberry fool

MrsMouthy Delights II

August is as pleasantly calm as July was wonderfully busy. I’ve had time to catch up on all my favorite hobbies lately, which means I’ve had time to sit on my deck and write. I’m taking a break from writing stories but I can’t ever take a break from writing, so here are some entries from my Journal of Delights. The first one is so fresh, it’s still a bit warm. Enjoy!

8.22.22

Just beyond my deck, a crow brings a hard nut to a branch of the maple tree and works it open with her beak. Another flies up beside her and they greet each other with a brushing of beaks. A hummingbird lands a few branches away and sings its squeaky-wheel song at them before flying off to check the crooked cherry tree for a bite to eat. A little sparrow keeps visiting the deck, sprinting and flying in short bursts, letting out soft chirps, like she’s talking to herself. More birds call to each other from the ravine, their trills and whistles like cobwebs strung between the trees. The sun is dappled on my legs and hot on my belly. A single crow remains on the maple branch, beak pointed to the blue sky, feeling the same way about this day, about this moment, as I.

8.8.22

Today I opened my door to see my sister standing there holding a tub of giant rainbow-colored balloons she filled with water and froze overnight. The balloons were grazed with a delicate layer of frost. I picked one up. A shiny drop of water let loose and rolled down its side—the promise of a riotous afternoon for our preteen children. It was the gift of a day from our kids’ younger years, when balloons and rainbows were a part of daily life.

5.3.22

Today’s delight came from hugging an 80-year-old on her birthday. I gave her a hug full of life and joy and was surprised to feel it given back to me doubly. Was I expecting less? A hug faded or wrinkled with age? I shouldn’t have. I gave her the gift of a book. The Book of Delights, as a matter of fact. “Oh,” she said, the title having done the work of a whole book, and we both teared up and hugged again. It is a rare occurrence when the joy of giving a gift perfectly matches the joy of receiving it. And what a delight that is.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chinese BBQ pork
Scallion pancakes
Wontons