Drinking Heavily

Last year, the Bubs and I toured the town for the Best Sno Cone EVER.
And we found it next to a tepee. No, really, it’s the TP Church, even shaped like one. And across the street…the Best Sno Cones EVER.

This year, we ventured into the Sonic Drive-In for a much-needed chili dog. Horrible nutrient wise and certainly not thigh-slimming; super, though, for the jonesing-for-crap DNA I possess.
And in the stall next to us sat an enormous, lit-for-best-view-from-space neon sign advertising suggestions of the variety of Sonic Drive-In drinks that can be made by carbonating sugars, syrups, candy pieces, and corn syrup.
Well. That’s a CHALLENGE if ever I’ve seen one, right? I mean, c’mon, who can resist the glow-in-the-dark coloring of all things un-naturally purple? Like a moth toward a flame, baby.

Thus was born the Top 10 Drinks to Try This Summer, with two versions to play:
the Bubs Edition, and the Mama Format.
(Guess which list seems more palatable?)
And the worst part…er, I mean, the BEST part…is that the drinks on the list only need to look INTERESTING, not DRINKABLE.
AND. We both have to try all the drinks!
Gauntlet, THROWN!

Last night was the First Day of the Voyage into Unpalatable Beverages, but since it’s one thousand degrees outside and I don’t stop whining about the heat until Halloween, anything cool and/or icy is a PLUS to moi.
On tap for me: Tea, BUT. I already deviated slightly from my own list, because I had initially written “Raspberry Iced Tea,” and my craaaaaaazy rogue ways went with PEACH. I know! I’m a warrior! WHAAAAAT?? Peach tea!? Insanity.
Bubs’ first selection: Green Apple Slush with Jolly Rancher Pieces.
After I told him, “That cannot be a thing,” he indeed successfully ordered it.

Since, per the agreement, we BOTH must try BOTH drinks, and because I’m a Mom, I went first. I sipped fully, with caution.
Not enough caution.
Bubs stared while I tried to get the feeling back in my tongue and willed my eyes to re-seat themselves in my sockets — they went internal, like, touched my brain; that’s how far back into my head that they were sucked by the pucker of the green apple tang cruelty that lay festering in the Sonic cup.
And while I was trying to regain a normal breathing pattern, my Bubs sipped my innocuous iced tea — with the wacky zing of Peach that only a Mom can bring — and he acted like I’d fed him strychnine.
I’d love to see the video from the Sonic security cameras, the one showing the Bubs and I, both suffocating from icy beverages that we hurriedly exchanged, thereby sucking upon our own beverage choices as though the straws held a rich oxygen mixture able to reanimate life forms and not make them oh-so-hate this new 10 Day drink challenge.

But worse than trying to tease my tongue into unfurling — “no, no, I won’t let the bitter foul taste get you again” — is the drive home, when the drinks are half finished, my tea is delightful, but alas, the Bubs has chosen a slush, which had all the liquid sucked out of the ice, and is thus not slushy, which means he’s dry-sucking ice bits and candy pieces up a straw, across air bubbles hitting the sides of the plastic straw and resembling the sound of my grandmother’s coffee percolator, the one that woke me at unearthly hours as a child and made me deeply resent all coffee forms until much later in life, when I could buy the coffee premade and thus eschew all knowledge of coffee brewing sounds.
I digressed a moment, but still, I insist that the soundtrack of Bubs sucking air and ice particles — then pulling the straw up and down through the plastic lid, with that awful donkey-in-the-morning braying sound over and over; really, it’s like nails on a chalkboard, you know the sound — then sloshing around the frozen mess with his straw like that will liquefy things quicker, then continuing with his musical number, like Orcas coming up for air. That’s what it sounded like when he retried to drink the no-more-liquefied air and chunks. It was a musical number that rattled across my peach-tea ridden nerves all the way home.

Day 2 started early, with the 8 a.m. order of two large
Cranberry Frozen Limeades — because Large was cheaper than Small in the morning (?) — a concoction we both agreed looked enticing, and thus we tried them on the same day.
Bubs said, “It tastes like limeade.”
And I replied, “Yes. Squeezed from the actual lime fruit.”
(It was a bit tart, that first sip. Drinking it got easier…or my taste buds died.)
The two giant cups lasted all day long, with our finally tossing the nearly empty cups into the trashcan at 5:05 this evening. We were wired for sound all day, buzzing around like we were on fire for 8 hours waiting for the sugar effect to dull.
It didn’t.
Goodness knows what Day 3 will bring…I’m a little skeered…

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5 Boy Books for the Summer, as Described by a Boy of Few Words

Since I’m reading like a fool this summer, I asked my Bubs which titles he would recommend to other like-minded, but-summer-is-for-NOT-school, video gaming boys whose mothers force them to put down the controller for a hot minute.

These are Bubs’ Top 5 selections, his own descriptions included:
5. Big Nate — any of them; funny with a good story.
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid — any of them, there are so many; also funny, also with good stories, but don’t go see the movie ’cause it’s awful. (Mom’s Side note: I agree with Bubs about the movie; shudder.)
3. Captain Underpants — any of them, of course, because you can’t go wrong; they’re quick and easy reads plus they’re hilarious. (Mom’s Side note: we saw this movie as well, “The First Adventure,” and it was a ton of fun. As a mom, I did not hide my eyes one single time, though I did and for extended periods of time during the awful Wimpy Kid movie.)
2. Geronimo Stilton — pick one, there are many (Mom’s Side Note: there are many, many, many); easy to read with enjoyable stories, plus lots of funny mouse humor.
1. Percy Jackson — especially the Heroes of Olympus series. They are very interesting stories,
exciting, too, but bewarethere are some romance scenes. (At which point Bubs sneered.)

And as I write this list of Great Summer Reads for reluctant summer readers, what is Bubs doing? Filling his brain with literature and the pursuit of a larger vocabulary? Of course not. He’s…well, I don’t know what he’s doing…but I can hear voices from the iPad, and he doesn’t listen to audio books…

 

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Okies on Tour: the Jelly Making Trail

Since last summer, I’ve wanted to find the Jelly Making Trail, an Oklahoma Tourism attraction set up to lead consumers to all the fabulous fresh fruit picking places in the state.
I forgot all about it in the following year and last week ended up on it. Serendipitously.
How? Because of a Peach Need.
Every June, when the heat rises, and the grass grows because of all the glorious rain, I swear at the Heat — I’m not a fan of the hot — and then swear at the grass — because I’m not a fan of the Mow — but I do mow in the ridiculous heat because there’s nothing quite so magnificent as a cold peach after a long ride on the Deere.
Unless it’s an ice cold beer.
BUT. A chilled fresh peach AND a dripping-down-the-sides-cold beer?
Good googly-moogly, that’s the STUFF right there.
(Insert longing whistle and an appreciative head shake.)
But in June, I lean toward peaches, because after a long spell of Letting Them Grow, the trees are officially on duty, producing phantasmagorical delights. And every year, I’ve been lackluster in my efforts to get out to the Wind Drift Orchard in east OKC before the season ends.
(I’m not great at planning ahead. Also, again, if it’s hot outside, I really see no need for being anywhere but in the doors.)
And by the end of peach pickin’ season, the grass has finally given up on tormenting me and chosen to go dormant.
Thus, my presence is no longer required atop the mower.
So I don’t need a peach.
But the beer…
Well, anyway, I’ve wandered off course.
Wind Drift Orchard, located East of Oklahoma City, is a hidden paradise. We pulled through the entrance — only a modest sign to proclaim its existence — rolled over a rise in the drive, and behold, across the valley: a seemingly endless landscape worthy of Monet’s brush: acres of peach trees, all popping with red and orange orbs, screaming to be chosen to go home with me.
I was not one to deny such pleading.
We parked the truck and moments later, our chariot awaited: a canopied carriage driven by a friendly fellow willing to deliver us over the acreage to the day’s Best Spot, where the freshest, most Pick-That-Peach-NOW fruit hung precariously from slender branches.
“Try the fruit,” he requested as he handed us bags to hold our treasure. “Eat them, so you’ll know how good they are.”
He had me at “Try,” the only request I needed.
And try I did! Peach nectar ran down my arms, onto my toes, before I finally got wise enough to bend over, thus  saving my feet from juicing. And ants. I pictured ants, coming to feast upon my delicate digits. (Shudder.)
Bubs used about two and one half minutes to fill his bag with fruit. Ready to pick? Didn’t know. Red and ripe and juicy? Didn’t ask. He simply filled his bag, asked, “Ready?” and looked down the empty lane, awaiting the appearance of our tractor ride back to the truck.
Me? Oh, sweet pits o’ goodness, I took my time. I fondled more peaches than was absolutely necessary. I certainly Taste Tested more than required. And I had a wonderful time in my haze of All-This-At-My-Disposal-and-I-Only-Have-this-ONE-TINY-BAG?
The tractor of return came, announced by, “Mom, he’s here!” and, seeing that I wasn’t ready for the escort, went, leaving Bubs to shout, “Mom, he’s leaving!” and stare indignantly, hands on his hips, face frowning in confusion, as the poor man retreated, leaving Bubs to marvel at the indecency of stranding a young boy with his mother, who gave not three shakes of a peach leaf about leaving just yet.
“Do you think he’s coming back?” my Bubs implored, curious as to how he would survive (could he survive??) in the wilderness of six foot trees for the foreseeable future of at least five more minutes. I watched his face as he mentally calculated turnaround time to be at least five…whole…minutes…
Finally, though, sated and weighed down under peachy goodness, we accepted — begrudgingly on my part, while Bubs practically skipped onto the deck — the second offer of a ride back to civilization.
I haven’t told the Bubs yet, but we’re going back in July, when a dozen more varieties will be ripe and ready to come home with me.
Plus, now that I’m a connoisseur and harvester, I need to investigate the Jelly Making Trail to see where it leads us next.

The Day’s Catch: twelve pounds of fruit.
Treasure retrieved and safely ensconced within the domicile: less than twelve pounds.
And I really need to get the truck detailed now; who knew peaches were so messy?

Anyway. Fruit is chilling, and now I’m skipping off to mow the fields.

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Okies on Tour: Strebel Creek Vineyard

One thousand times, I’ve driven by Strebel Creek Vineyard in The City, always with the thought, “I’d like to check that out.”
At the time of those one thousand drive-bys, I lived less than two miles away, yet never checked anything out. Then I moved to the Out There and promptly forgot about it.
From the street, Strebel Creek looks like someone’s really nice backyard — a small vineyard by the road, a store sitting behind, housed within a discrete steel building — on the edge of a heavily traveled street. Nestled into a neighborhood, the vines grow near a curb by a small sign announcing every weekend, “Winery is Open.”
On the one thousandth and one-th drive, I spotted the Open sign and impulsively turned into the modest drive — the one I’d ignored because it felt so personal, so invasive to turn into what looks like the driveway to someone’s home — and parked in the shade of an ancient oak. (Or Elm, maybe. I don’t know. It’s just huge and lovely.)
Bubs, with no inhibition or thought of invasiveness, ran along the sidewalk to disappear into the building while Mom and I strolled up, stopping at the thriving vines for a couple of Kodak moments before meandering through the door. There, we beheld a large flat-screen tv tuned in to the sport-of-the-day sitting in front of a large area rug and two over-stuffed comfortable chairs awaiting viewers awaiting potential shoppers.
I could hear a gentleman, presumably the owner, gathering the next round of Tasters, but since the Bubs was present, I reluctantly wasn’t one of them. A lady, presumably the also-owner, greeted Mom and I, telling us to look around and make ourselves at home. She waved toward the store, indicating any and all of it was ours for the perusal as she disappeared into the tasting room.
I very much felt like her generous wave wasn’t just a suggestion, that I could in fact kick off my flip-flops and stay a while, should I choose to.
But instead I shopped.
Trinkets, decor, purses, scarves, all things wine and wine-accessorizing, atop table after table, all housed together to create a cozy, fun gift shop. Impromptu as our stop had been, neither Mom nor I had any one item in mind; we simply pawed and investigated every single thing while we listened to the soundtrack of wine demonstration, little descriptors reaching our ears: sweet, bubbly, dessert wine, wife’s favorite.
A few minutes into the tasting, the hostess, indeed the establishment’s co-owner, returned to the store and stood behind one of the recliners, awaiting any questions.
I had many.
How long have you been here? Do you crush your own grapes? Do you bottle here on the premises? Do you live on the property? Is there really a creek?
And with each question, the lady answered matter-of-factly, with humor and grace.
I liked her a lot.
She and her husband open the store each weekend, when day jobs are over until the following Monday. They spend their leisure time chatting about wine, talking with customers, sharing tips about grape growing and getting rid of unwanted garden intruders.
I shared my woes about my fruitless — literally — attempt at grape growing and learned that I was not the birds’ only victim.
“Oh, the birds,” she lamented, then tutted and shook her head. “And the raccoons, and the foxes…One day late, and all the grapes are gone.”
With the few vines they have, and the numerous fauna that insist upon their share from those beautiful bundles of fruit, the owners contract out to other growers for their wines. Northern growers have far more land, with space to grow far more vines, thus generating a better harvest.
I didn’t feel so badly about my gardening skills, about not being quick enough to pluck the fruit from my one little vine, a veritable snack tray for local avian populations.
Now that we’ve met these nice people, when I’m venturing into The City again for a gander at civilization, I won’t just drive by when I see the Open sign at the vineyard. I’ll park and go in to say hello to the folks willing to share their knowledge and recliners with strangers.
Next time I’ll visit a minute, even sit in one of the comfy chairs to lament longer upon tales of gardening efforts gone wrong. And maybe even try the wine.

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Another Day, Another Eye-Opening Book(s)

I’ve been reading again.
It led in interesting directions, so I’m hoping you’ll follow my trail.
Okie author Jennifer Latham’s “Dreamland Burning” is written for young adults. It’s the story of two fictional young people narrating the account of a very real event, the Tulsa race riot of the early 1900’s.
Of course, being regional, the location appealed right away. I didn’t know the book’s premise, and once I opened the covers, I was a bit queasy. I vaguely knew about the abomination that happened in Tulsa’s city streets, when whites got mad that blacks existed and decided to gang up and be jerks, in the very most upper levels of jerky-ness that jerks can be.
(I have delicate fingers. My palate can’t stand to verbalize or write the true words that come to mind when the anger this story evokes wells up.)
So insert your favorite incendiary verbiage here, about truly heinous people, and know that racism is the ugliest. And racist packs, fueled by heat and unquestioned loyalty to ignorance, are intolerable.
So, at first, until I knew the true subject matter, I enjoyed the references to familiar Tulsa places as much as I enjoyed meeting Will and Rowan, the two leading teen aged characters. But when their stories kicked into high gear, my heart raced, and I got so involved in what’s-next-what’s-next that the just conclusion came too quickly.
What is even more interesting, is that not only does Latham talk about the atrocities of Tulsa’s racial divide, but Will is part Native American. His grandmother was murdered by evil greedy men, part of another true and horrific state secret, the Osage Indian murders. Native American women were killed because of money, especially that tangled up with oil and mineral rights. David Grann, author of the highly praised “The Lost City of Z,” chronicled the Oklahoma story in a book published in April of this year titled “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
I drove through Pawhuska just a couple of months ago — ironically, it may have been April! — thinking it was a ho-hum, tiny town, its most interesting attribute being that its street signs made me slow down for a couple of miles on the way to my destination, another thriving metropolis of about 50,000 folks, an hour or so further down the trail.
Pawhuska in 2017 did not strike me as eventful in any way, but it certainly was a hotbed of furious — literally furious, unhampered, and evil activity a hundred years ago.
Too much terrible history, too close together, in a state that has never seemed overly large but now seems especially tight quarters to fester so much hate.
By Oklahomans.
Against other Oklahomans.
And current Okies know little to nothing about any of it until a full century later?
Ignorance of history, atop so much hate and violence, equals further abomination.
Read these books. Let’s talk.

 

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Reading Challenge

For reasons I cannot disclose because my Geek Card has been threatened, I’m reading. A lot.
In fact, before April, I’m to read 160 young adult books, all published within only this year.
If you divide 160 by the alarmingly small number of months between today and then, that’s a whole lotta readin’. Weekly average: like what, 4 or 5? I’m no mathematician; that’s why I’ve been self-actualized enough to jump ship on numbers and swim toward words, which aren’t mean to me. Numbers are evil.
And 160 seems like a real villain.
BUT!
Challenge accepted; books are stacked in two piles, one being “To Read” and the oh-so-much-smaller-one dubbed “Read!” And yes, the exclamation point is imperative.
Because oh my, I’m earning it, people. Earning that exclamation point.
I love reading, don’t get me wrong, but the innocent duress I feel when I’m turning pages is suffocating. There’s always that bigger pile, looming, daring me to take one from the stack.
I didn’t realize how much YA novels have in common, either, until I saddled myself with a load of them.
I LIKE YA, don’t get me wrong. I really do. But suddenly new releases in the Adult category that I never would have given the time of day are appealing to me. Only because they can’t have me; that’s why they chant. And I don’t want them, not really.
Ours is a freaky relationship.
Anyway, now that you know the whip goading me on, I’ll be sharing in book chat form, so that you, too, might read one or two of these and share your opinion with me.
I need the chat, the back and forth, the sharing. Because I’m knee deep in this rabbit hole and it feels lonely. And the sides are caving in. And I have no food…aw, who am I kidding?
Me? Without food??
Bah. Never gonna happen.

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Zentner’s “Days”

I’ve been writing a lot lately, therefore I’ve also been reading a lot lately. My characters sit in my head and chat until I absolutely must write down what they are saying or face a York Peppermint Patty binge, a shield from their words that, while delicious, does not actually fend off the need to write.
Therefore, I write. Until I can’t.
Then I read.
Reading comes in waves, one I’ve crested and I’ll ride until I can’t.
One or twice a year, I tend to eschew reading for Netflix binging, but only on occasion, and books always bring me home.
A librarian at a meeting last week told me to read “Goodbye Days,” by Jeff Zentner, because…well, just because. She was effusive in her praise, all the “because” I really needed.
She shared the basic premise: 3 boys are killed in an auto accident, seemingly because a 4th boy, their best friend, texted the driver at an inopportune time.
So what did I do? Hello, Target Book Section.
And after putting the milk in the fridge and assuring myself my Bubs was content with his video games, I opened the novel, releasing its New Book Smell to dive right in.
This story is timely, gut-wrenching, and beautifully told. I couldn’t put it down except, oh, when I had to. Two words: Nana Betsy. Oh, who wouldn’t want a Nana Betsy in the their life? After I realized her part of the story was finished, and that she was in fact moving to another state…well, I took a moment to fully ingest her wonder. Such a great character.
But persist I did, and many times, I read, re-read. I even wrote a few quotes to share with my book club next month. Such beautiful imagery and heart breaking truths.
The main voice is a boy — boys can be crude, and weird, and fascinating. Then weird again. And everything they did or said, in their weird-boy-ways, rang true. I could see it all.
I finished the book. I’m asking you to start it. And then come back here, so we can chat.
P.S. The voices in my head have added Nana Betsy to the mix. But borrowing characters form other books is a no-no, so…I’ll just enjoy their conversations.

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Lost Peanut Butter Equals No Joy

In my zeal for joy, thanks to the Tidying Up book by Marie Kondo, I moved the peanut butter.
Well, why on earth would one move a staple good like peanut butter?
Because the location in which it lived was joy-less. Poor placement. Too low to reach, thus no convenience. Plus, I believe mice live in that cabinet, which leads to a different joy-less story.
With vim and vigor, I moved my beloved jug o’ Jiffy to a more practical spot, a higher locale, an ingenious place: the pantry. I know! Who knew that’s what pantries were for? I thought the picture of food etched into the frosted glass of the pantry door was a “suggested usage” kind of graphic, not a “We’ve already thought this through; food in this pantry equals joy.”
So thoughtful of them. It only took five years to follow through on their idea.
Anyway, I overhauled the kitchen a couple of weeks ago. I was the Tasmanian Devil of Clean: I gave pans to Goodwill, I retired old dish towels, I discovered far too many gadgets in the “What do you think this is?” drawer and decided there was no joy in not knowing, so out they went, all the tchotchke of indeterminate origin or purpose. Out!
Once I was finished, the room felt lighter, less weighted. It seemed roomier, certainly tidier and less cluttered.
I breathed in clean air — because I had to clean. I was in there, in the kitchen; might as well clean it, too.
I’ve said it a hundred times: “The kitchen is where I keep my purse and keys.”
Verification of that mantra arrived last night, when at close-enough-to-midnight I thought, “A tiny smackerel of Peanut Butter would cure the rumbly in my tumbly.”
I set sail from the bedroom to the kitchen, flew right past my purse and keys, and opened the Peanut Butter Cabinet, only to discover and thus remember that, oh, yeah, the PB doesn’t live there anymore.
It took literally moments for me to connect the dots and find the jar in the Now It’s Food Pantry.
So I felt stupid. And the kitchen seemed even more foreign. And I felt no joy.
I’m at a crossroads: move the peanut butter? or use the kitchen and actually cook, learn about the stove, dice something?
Yeah. I didn’t think it was a huge decision either.
Guess where the peanut butter resides today?
Joy is back.

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Ah, May Day: the First of Mowing Season

So for a second year in a row, I decided against hiring a flock of goats to bring the house’s frontal expanse into order.
(Mostly because there’s no fence to hold them in; how do I know they wouldn’t literally find a greener pasture across the street, thus abandoning me for the friendly cow family luring the stupid Caprine family over for fresher grub? Then all the rental money would be gone…my grass would still be thigh-high, and suddenly my willy-nilly, ineffective lawn-eating team would end a year later with a new breed of cow-goat baby. Things just get out of hand when I try to incorporate livestock in my prairie world.)
It would have been so much simpler, yet my ineptitude with the ranching ability leaves me breathless. As it would a flock of goats. Thus, I’m considering myself a humanitarian by not involving fauna in my lawn fight.
Because it IS a fight. The grass grows, the mower blows — in the euphemistic way, I’m sad to proclaim — and still I must either cut the stuff…or move…and I hate packing.
OF COURSE the John Deere is ineffective. Because EVERY SPRING it has turned up its wheels and snubbed its hoodless, non-headlight-lit, battered face — really, it’s an ugly beast, even for a ten-year-old, lived-through-a-tornado mower — and pretended to be dead. The annual death ritual of this machine is more reliable than that rodent Phil “predicting” spring.
(Sorry, that sounded a bit cynical. It’s been a hard day.)
After futile attempts at resuscitation, including the infusion of three heavy gallons of gasoline, I had to concede that the Greene had “bit it” and borrow a mower yet again — fourth year in a row? fifth? — from my favorite dad-in-law, who is ever at  my rescue.
Thank God for generosity and kindness and knowing that girls can do anything, as long as you show them — yearly — how to reverse the trajectory in order to avoid ditches and hills that make me queasy and still not kill the mower.
Those are the essentials.
Fortunately, I had all three of those things.
And for two days, with Sam’s ears a-floppin’ and his claws a-diggin’ trenches into my legs for purchase, we mowed the afternoon hours away. Sure, we swore, we got a tiny bit stuck — no one saw; there were no witnesses — and we bogged down a few times, because the prairie endured torrential April rains that brought May weeds, the kind that grow in protective clumps that require scything and baling, but the lawn tractor would have to do — who needed a dumb ol’ goat? — because Sam looked so cute.
That’s right, I blame my aged, tiny, sweetest-ever dog for the continual backing up, moving forward, backing up, moving forward action required to bring the grass down, severing the stems to a minimal height amongst mounds of shorn trimmings.
How can one scythe, though necessity begs for it, when one has a pooch upon her lap?
She can’t.
Thus, we mowed. Sam’s ears flapped, I swore only a little, and we enjoyed the full throttle action that only Dad’s mower has, as the dead John Deere has no horse, no power, and no speed even if it’s upright and breathing. I really should bury the thing, but man, that sounds like so much work.
As an extra “Atta-Girl” Bonus today, I also gardened. I planted the remains of several unknown vegetable species that once stood proudly within my baby greenhouse, but now look severed somehow, as nine baby chicks found their wings, flew to heights I did not know they could reach, and ate every green leaf of every plant they flapped into.
And then the snake came, for the second time this year.
To sum up:
Lawn: 1, Sam and I, zero; except in the cuteness factor, because in the ability to look adorable, we totally dominated over the lawn. (In fact, the yard looks like a verdant 3-acre expanse of Super Cuts flooring; hundreds of clumps of rolling bits of clippings moving with the winds; unsightly, true, but no longer attached to the parent plant, which is all that matters right this moment.)
Chickens: 9. The odds weren’t ever in my favor. (Geek literary reference there, sorry.) Yeah, they won, but someday I might have leafy greens again, given enough Miracle Gro, and by golly, as soon as I recognize something, I’m pulling out the Labeler and going to town with defining nomenclature: Tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts; Bell Pepper (though frankly, they kind of all look alike at the beginning to me; might have to wait for actual food before I label anything properly)
Snakes: 2. BUT. I did NOT lose to the snakes. It so serendipitous-ly, serpentine-ly, happened that at the exact moment I was through with my current task, a snake slithered by on his way to den for the evening. Twice. And both times, after the initial appearance, it so happened that within fractions of a second later, I needed to make for the inside of the house as though I were on fire and only the interior side of the front door could save me.  All serendipity; the fates at work. Planets aligning, and all that crap.
Goats: However many it would take to shear. But I did consider that if I had the goats do the initial job, I could get a miniature donkey for summer maintenance. (They’re so cute!) But it was a brief, rambling thought that didn’t last long once I remembered I have a Killer Scout the Moose Dog that takes down any living thing deemed valuable to me. (Sad but alas, ’tis true.)
Heroes: 1. Total Dad Hero today. Plus I housed the mighty machine within the bowels of the garage because of even more impending rain. AND filled it with gas. Go, me. Good daughter.
Back Fat: 1…hundred pounds…of new rolls I didn’t remember from last season’s lawn season. Brownies were tasty this winter; now the tractor will have to wiggle them off. It’s a movable Tan ‘N Tone, isn’t it, this riding mower?

So maybe I didn’t score well, but the lawn is cut, the neighbors might concede that it looks better and thus not be ashamed to share a fence any longer, and hey, I still have my cute pup.
I win.

 

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Losing the non-Joy

My friend Amy came to work the other day and told me of a tiny book she read about losing clutter in her home.
It’s dangerous when I listen to what friends read.
Because of Marie Kondo’s book, “the life-changing magic of tidying up,” Amy said she’d rid herself of non-joy-giving things; if there’s no joy in handling something you own, why have it? Get rid of it.
She’d gleaned bits of thought provoking suggestions and ignored the rest of the manuscript, but it certainly made her look at things differently.
Her book review stuck with me.
I mulled. I’m a mull-er. I mulled until I could no longer mull, and then I had no option but to pick up the mulled book and read. Curiosity was a killer.
Without realizing my mulling was having an effect, I tossed a bottle of hairspray; it wouldn’t squirt, thus no liquid was embalming my tresses.
Thus I lost patience. Holding the half-full bottle of non-squirting madness over the bathroom trashcan, I announced, “No joy!” and released the traitorous liquid to the depths of the pear green can that sits — also joylessly, I realize — next to the toilet: the perfect burial for “no joy” spray.
I was therefore unleashed upon my own closet, where my shirts and pants quaked in fear. I had one motto, which I announced to my wardrobe: “No joy equals no happiness equals housing things that give no pleasure and thus should be exterminated.”
It got ugly, I can’t lie.
But a funny thing happened. After three bags of no-joy-to-me items were insouciantly tossed recklessly into a corner to be discarded later — who cared when? joy wasn’t emanating from the sacks, thus they were dead to me — I let the project go.
I let the remainder of the non-joy items sit and think about how little joy they’d brought me and that maybe they should change their attitude.
For two days, I dove into the closet, choosing only joy-filled items, ignoring the rest, and living just fine. For two days.
And on the third day — joy reigned. Two more bags of items lost their leash upon my life. They, too, suffer in cotton/poly silence in a corner.
Then last night at 10:30, I hit a can’t-contain-the-curiosity-any-longer wall.
I read the next page of the book. It talked about socks.
My socks were stressed, the book told me. Socks don’t like to be rolled into balls within the drawer walls, unhappy in their elastic-stretcher-cized orbs, and it was entirely up to me to alleviate their tension.
Poor Bubs woke to my apparently noisy unpacking of spheroid footwear, tossed and unrolled at lightning speed. I cooed, I apologized, I begged the stripes to regain shape, the anklets to resize, the boot socks to think thin.
And I repacked the tidy thin parcels as instructed: vertically, in sight, with respect and love.
And because I have mindfully re-positioned the alignment of my crew socks, I have room for another twenty pair; extra footage I did not know my dresser could possibly allow.
It’s like a chest-of-drawers Tardis.
With socks at ease, I did not stop there. I worked until nearly 11, creating tri-fold packets of cotton tees I’d thoughtlessly hung for years. Now they are craftily folded in quarters and squares, vertically, so that I can see their logos and know which shirt is which. Now DMB rests comfortably alongside Billy Joel, all couched between two Dirty 30 5K run shirts so their spines are aligned and I can pull whichever shirt appeals to be worn that day.
I slept well last night, I must say, once I finally let myself sleep.
I blamed Amy for the late hour, thus I texted her to let her know her reading habits had duly affected my sleep patterns. She replied that though she’d removed all joy-less items from her closet, her socks were continuing to suffer within roly-poly balls, and though she’d apologized and thanked them for their service, their fate was not going to change.
Poor socks.
So. I’ve perused the next few pages of the book, to see where I’m headed next with this de-clutter project, and I’m hesitant to say the next chapter addresses my much beloved subject: books.
Books!
I’m gonna need to let this simmer for a while.
Meanwhile, my books are shaking in fear.

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