April Showers

Can it be I have not posted in a few months? Surely not…well, they’ve been awfully busy…Sarge has been occupied with his relatively new region and staff but it is quite an improvement for him so no complaints. Between the lack of stress and the Peloton he has lost over 30 lbs in about 2 months. The intensive cardiac review he had really put his head in a different place about his health. He knows, now, that he cannot have the sugar habit ever again. With that, I am aided in my own goals…

The meal prep has been a bit challenging but not that bad. More expensive, perhaps, than eating without thought but once you have the produce the rest is nominal. Which is why the garden has GOT to get put in. I am setting a reminder for the fall and next spring to just go ahead and set up seed stations – just get the mix, the containers, the lights, and nevermind waiting on the nurseries. Cheaper in the end, of course.

Just now the hedges are chock full of dewberries in fruit – I make a few trips out each day to beat the birds and random neighbor chickens from getting them all. Nothing like freshly whipped cream dotted with the cold berries. My own berry bushes are holding their own but the weather has been really difficult – a couple hot days with cold mornings, wet days followed by too dry weather. And I have got to get them edged, fabric’d and mulched. Now. But I have been reserving his To Do list for the most critical things…

We have to get the bee hive stand made – he isn’t sure the best option but they arrive on the 12th so there is no more time to think about it. The hive cover is made, though. I do need to get a proper feeder made, though – mason jars I have – just need to punch a few holes and mount it. I admit to some dismay about the whole matter but the hive was a gift so even if the bees fail it will have been my only expense, really.

Sadly, the tractor he inherited from his mother was badly damaged by the shipper – it is a smaller garden tractor but nearly all the shrouds got cracked and the grill just smashed. So he is dealing with the insurance reps to get it repaired and let me tell you – John Deere is very proud of their shrouds. It has, however, delayed nearly everything we wanted to do – shredding pastures, tilling the garden over, taking out stumps…all the tasks that I cannot do without him…and the POS mower that some shyster took us on – that thing is going on a pyre as soon as it is replaced.

I was glad I held off on peach tree trimming as we had a couple very cold nights recently. But I managed to get it done and there are already two wee peaches on the limbs so I feel I have succeeded. There was an ancient tree that I did not trim last year though maybe I ought to have – still, it is done, too, and might do more than put out a jumble of leaves this year.

I suppose I am rambling about the home tasks but they really have taken up all the time. It is that, riding the Peloton, and meal planning/prep. Not much else gets done, frankly. I still have so much to do – painting, getting quotes for siding, detailing vehicles…but it feels like a generous plenty as-is. I have a warp on the loom that I have got to get loaded but it just languishes. Admittedly, we did have an AC failure that halted my progress on that craft room – they have to march through it to access the unit in the attic – so I need to return to it. Just as soon as the bees are safely installed. Priorities!!

Here’s hoping your own spring is keeping you busy as little bees!

P.S. I found these and may have ordered a pair!

 

 

 

Howling Banshees

One of the peculiar things about this house is that the breezeway and soffits produce a deep and resonant howl during high winds. Here that means just about every day. I love how it has a kind of language, alerting me to weather changes. With the winds this weekend it made sleep difficult. A near constant 30 mph wind with higher gusts had the house sighing, anything not tied down flying, and made our travel yesterday a rather tricky one with the truck getting tail winds and then slammed on the sides, forcing it to stray in the lane. It looked for all the world like a highway full of drunks as we all careened in the gusts.

There was, of course, the other howling taking place in the nadir of the nation. How any single man trusts any woman he meets is beyond me. You have my deepest sympathies. I was deleting and unfollowing those who were throwing their lot in with the vagina-tonsured assembly. I am generally a laissez faire kind of person but if you are so damned stupid that you can actually declare you either have different or lesser rights as a woman or that you are oppressed in this nation – well, I will not tolerate that sort of utter and deliberate foolishness around me. Not a single one of those signs declared a concern for FGM, for Arab slaves burned in cages, for trafficked y0uth. Nope. Just a mutual support for their right to bitch about whatever had their vag’s in an uproar this month. Or would that be vagi?

Meanwhile, while in the nether regions, allow me to note that if one has not mounted a bicycle in – mmm – decades that one will find that the seat is no longer as generous as it seemed in ones youth. See, Sarge has missed bike riding since his terrible accident so when we saw the Peloton commercial we looked at each other and nodded.

peloton

Yes, this might be just what the doctor ordered. Indeed, he recently had a big cardiac workup done and was borderline diabetic so he was adamant that the weight was coming off now. We went to the shop at the Domain (Lori rocked the demo, BTW), looked at it in person and agreed to the admittedly steep investment.

I will freely admit that it is essentially an indoor bike with large tablet mounted on the handlebars. However, it really does offer a large variety of classes – live and recorded – as well as many levels of exercise from newb to hardcore pro. I admit I far prefer the scenic rides they offer – high rez rides around places I will never see. I have no competitive nature at all so their diagnostics and placements in groups means little to me. I ride what works for me. But Sarge is loving every aspect of it, rising quite early to get a ride in before work. And sometimes another in the evening. I like that one is in constant comfort – AC blowing instead of a hot wind, bathroom handy for those untimely needs, and the ability to cast the screen to your large and fancy smart tv if you prefer. I also like that it can be customized on the fly to fit each user – I think it allows up to 4 users per subscription. Yes, that is where they keep their funding. It isn’t cheap, that annual video subscription. But they are so well executed and of such variety that I think it rather fair, really. Note, too, that it is the PERFECT option for introverts. You can play with others in live classes if you wish but you can also avoid all other human contact and still feel as though you are getting a class experience.

All this said…my word, that damned saddle hurts. Sarge goes on about how one has to position themselves on the proper part of the saddle, etc. There is no softness there. Even my investment in bike shorts has barely improved the situation. I know that with time comes a tough taint and one doesn’t even notice it anymore. Do I think I will get there? Not sure. But I do know that when one is riding in a dripping sweat and sees that the caloric output nowhere matches that delicious Andy’s Custard Ice Cream dessert…well…it can put one off, really. So for that delicious cup of hot fudge I have to crush my nethers for 4 hours? No. Seriously, no. My ice cream habit has been edited to a hunk of dark chocolate with almond butter daubed on the end. Bastards.

If you have a need for fitness and the funds to support it I have to say the bike is really an intriguing option. For anyone who lives in the frigid north where biking months are few this might be precisely what you need. Now, I have to talk myself into mounting up today. The pain will be guaranteed but then so will the fitness.

Down and Out

It’s a bad time when both of us are sick and so it has been for about 4 days, now. He started it, as they say on the playground, and I got it due to poor isolation and sterilization protocols. I know better and yet here I am, full of snot. It is a reminder, of course, of just how fast a really dread disease could spread in a household or community. I will be keeping this in mind in the future – more gloves, masks, etc. needed. Soap and water would not have hurt but when you are stepping and fetching for the sick and scratch your nose…well, there you are, joining in the hawking and spitting. His turned into a terrible sinus infection so he got the kindly dose of antibiotics that helped a great deal.

Looks like Zed has put up a number of nice winter weather vehicle tips lately and I highly recommend all of his ideas. The army sleep system items can be gotten at your local military shop, get a Homer bucket and gamma seal lid, toss some properly sealed items inside and your kit is done. I admit to being a fan (after his recommendation) of the Streamlight lantern – offers all the illumination and rescue modes you might want. Yes, those D size batteries might be a pain but it works when you need it to.

During the VERY cold weather of late I was ever more grateful that I bought one of these down skirts at an REI clearance sale a few years ago. I keep it put up until absolutely needed and let me tell you – nothing made the brief excursions outside tolerable while sick like that skirt. I can imagine it seems like overkill for the south to some of the northern types but let me tell you – put that over your jeans or sweatpants and you’ve a layer the wind cannot get through. I am tempted to get a shorter version for chilly spring mornings. One might wonder, “Does this down make my butt look big?” but it doesn’t matter. Is my butt warm? Yes. When it comes to me and being comfy in rough weather I DO NOT CARE what I look like. In the end, few things work as well in concert as wool and down. My Woolrich sweater over my silk long john top (thin and warm) and a down vest over all that with strong wind breaking coat was fine for the brisk 20’s. Layers are so vital – you have to be able to release the heat to avoid sweating in your clothes during exertion so that you don’t get chilled when you stop.

Seriously, though, you need only to review his site to find all you need to know about being ready for any event – his recommendations have stocked my bins for a few years, now. I need to dump my backpack out, toss the ancient crumbles of energy bars, and stock it afresh. My truck was down for a month (yes, I was right – U joint again) so I haven’t had it out for my annual winter do-over. But I need to check it all, re-seal the bags, etc. I also received a label maker which will aid in making clear what is in those handy small inserts – nice to segregate your food from medicine from clothes but if you aren’t getting in the bag often you will not remember during an emergency. Just because your med bag is red doesn’t mean you can find the good bandages fast. And, yes, those supplies get nasty over time, too. Rubber and adhesive fail with time and temperature so plan to refresh that red bag, also. Imagine the frustration of trying to bandage up a wound one-handed only to find that your tape has sealed to itself. Permanently.

Nothing like a cold winter to make you consider your preparations, eh? Don’t find out the hard way that what you thought was Just Fine is really Just Barely Enough.

R and R

What a whirlwind the month has been! I can hardly remember Thanksgiving and fret about how little gifting I managed but in the end, with the kind reminder of a friend, I surrendered all such concerns and just let it all unfold. Between her admonition that no one will notice anything left undone and the following sentiment from Susan Branch I was left with a calm and peaceful heart.

“It’s not what’s on the plates that counts, it’s what’s on the chairs. Your friends and family. A party is a gift you give the ones you love.”

Sarge drove home for the funeral, managing all those details with an amazing professionalism. He had such a burden to bear but he did it all. I am sure some people were wondering why I was not there but a party had to be managed…he drove home, arriving the evening before the party.

We hosted a baby shower luncheon on Christmas Eve, amazed by how many people attended. It was a nonstop day and, come evening, I collapsed on the sofa, ignorant of anything going on around me. Christmas morning was slow and quiet, neither of us wishing to be pressed for time. Too, it was the first one in which he would not – could not – call his mother and give her a Merry Christmas. That realization hit hard as his feet his the floor. I remember it well and, frankly, it is a disappointment that rears its head every High Holy.

So we took our time, putting off the dinner obligation as long as we could, just enjoying each other’s company. It was yesterday that I offered the idea of taking a vacation over Christmas, avoiding all the planning and drama by merely not being there! He added on the idea of our gifting each other a mutual item, perhaps something for the house or garden. I think we have hit on the perfect solution and Christmas 2017 will find us in Wyoming. How wonderful to just let it all go with a smile and a wave. Yes, I think I could manage that quite well.

I hope your own holidays were as calm and bright as possible.

mantel_xmas2016-001

 

 

A Soul Wends West

This evening the winds from the north are howling around the house and the temperature has dropped 30 degrees in as many minutes. It is apt weather for the evening as it is one of mourning.

I have always been a fan of Avalon, that mystic place in the indefinable “west” of the world. Sarge’s mother has passed this night and her soul must be riding the wind with speed toward her new home. All afternoon we saw hawks and I knew the message sent – his Cherokee elder told him it was his spirit animal and so it has been. They were coming to take her with them and someday we will all be together again. But for now he mourns the loss as well as the dark feeling that comes of being the last of the line.

There is a sense of failure in me for that – we didn’t intend to have children right up until the day we knew we never could. And now I feel it turn deeper in me, that coiling sadness of Fate. He carries that soldierly stoicism for now, knowing the amount of details he must command in the coming days. But in a small place he is that child, lost and alone, weeping for himself. And it is well. It is right.

There was a mercy in how she did this – not letting on how ill she was until the very last so that he could visit and annotate all her wishes. This, a lesson for us all – be kind to those who must care for your final business. Have all your own wishes and details clearly delineated so that no one need wonder what to do or who to call.

How bright she will gleam now that the exhausted flesh may fall. She raised such a man…such an amazing man. I shall owe her all my days.

mom-and-dad-in-younger-years

A Different Point of View

Alas, the problem with country life…no trick or treaters to decorate for. I have always been a `weener – the very decorated house, the best candy and the costume in which to greet the children at the door. Now, no need for all that. And I do miss it. Had life been more amenable I would have held a party for friends – I’ll have to remember that for next year.

It has been a rather hectic few days as Sarge transferred and is back in the saddle, so to speak. The late night calls, the wreck reports, all of it. We dressed his office with some photos and books as it was a bit sterile. Now it reflects his personality. We still have to set up the “I Love Me” wall of framed certificates but next weekend will see that done. No matter – I haven’t seen him this happy in a few years. What a burden has been lifted from him. And me, in truth, as I don’t have to walk on eggshells. Not that he brought more than a very small percentage of that irritation home but I never wanted to add to it and it was sweater_sleevesometimes hard not to…instead, I decided to take up the sweater I started ages ago and finish it for the new house and the work to come this winter. A simple one, really, with a hefty wool body and chunkier cuff and collar – something to toss on over a tshirt and need no coat in the way – a generous warmth and slight waterproof layer. I think he will like its friendly, casual style. Just a bit more work and it will be ready in time for the first real chill.

It was a great day, really, though we’re both exhausted by it now. A lot of yard work, repairs on equipment, poop brigade (the never ending chore with two large dogs), and pecan retrieval. The day started quite early, I’ve been a bit sickly with allergies or crud so sleep was nominal until at 6am the cat demanded food and exit, in that order. I lay back, waiting on the sound of the coffee brewing, then fetched the first cup as he slept. I let him sleep as long as he wanted. The dogs and I enjoyed the muffled morning.foggyfield

What an incredible thing…especially for a city girl. If anyone had told me in my youth that I could and would have this I would have laughed in their face. Then taken their lunch money. Seriously, it is the epitome of bucolic! Just ridiculously wonderful. The only thing that would improve its situation is to surround it with another 50 acres and a forest. I find myself – as does Sarge – just looking out the windows in distraction and appreciation. One works very hard all their life and never hopes for such  pleasure. At least no one from our families.barbedwire2

Each morning I take a sample of the life here as if it were temporary, a way to save each barbedwire1season. Soon enough the winter ice, then the thaw and green of spring and again the light across the land will be familiar.

It is the thing I like most – not only in new places but anywhere, really, how the light moves on the land, the features…the tint it lends the air…here, in autumn, the best sunset view. There, in spring, you can see a delicate violet and rose shade  in the morning sky.

The best part of letting the land speak for a year is that you know what view you really ought not obscure, what tree is worth nursing another year, and how much you hate that pencil cactus in the front bar ditch.

I’ve been keeping a calendar of the land to remind myself of those tasks that must be done as the wheel turns. It is too easy to forget, to get caught up in life and find yourself in May with no peas growing, no morning glories ready to climb the fence. I fully intend to plant a lovely short thyme under the pecan tree at the porch. Far too difficult to see them in the leaf litter and dirt. But there is much work to be done for the gardener in me. I’d given up that craft after I lost the garden of my dreams. I swore I would never invest that much love again in a temporary place but now…now I can let go that concern and focus again on the light – how long it sits and where.

Just now I am dreaming of the revised front walk and a proper semi-circular driveway to greet guests. Nothing too fancy, mind you. painted_skyJust some gravel and stones with maybe some rose hedges. But it lacks a proper walk and that approach really should be one that shows how happy we are here.

But I’ve another plan, first. A proper swing with this view, as it never changes and yet is never the same. Reliable and surprising each night. A place to hold hands and pet dog heads for years and years. Yes, a priority, that.

 

 

 

Misty Morning Thoughts

Sarge is off to his part time which meant a very early wake-up and sausage wrap prep for his breakfast on the go, the large Thermos filled with superior coffee. I packed his lunch with the usual care, trying to make it feel as if my love was packed along side the sandwich and slaw. I smiled as I hid the cookies in the bento container, a nice surprise for later in the day.

It rained (finally!) last night which meant the dawn light was heavily filtered with the thick mist rising from the pastures. misty_morningEven the daily donkey greeting was muffled, the roosters offering only a few greetings in response. I could imagine their feathers damped down, a tired shake to free them of the dew and the half hearted retort offered before settling back down in the hope of sunshine later.

I’ve been watching the same three crows snatching the pecans from the ground, not willing to chase them off their feast. We had friends over early in the week to harvest as much as we could from the wind-fall, knocking the nearly falling nuts from their husks in the limbs to save them from those ravaging birds. It was such a pecan_bucketgenerous harvest that we each walked away with a 5 gallon bucket of nuts, that in addition to the bucket I’d already gathered in the week prior. My favorite tree has such lovely sable colored shells, tiger striped with dark veins. So much brighter than the other trees’ supply which has the usual dusky, dusty grey coloring. And the size of these things – a top quality appearance that looks divine on top of a rich cookie.

range_daySarge has been fighting the system for some time, without result, and finally had to escalate his concerns. It was not a “fix this for me” conversation. Rather, it was a request for guidance for his future and a reassurance that he hadn’t made the wrong decision coming to Texas. It may have been the best career decision yet, the conversation very sincere and helpful with a referral to a health program in trial for the department. “I have plans for you…” was the sentiment offered, a compliment of high value. So we’ve both been making a concerted effort to edit our menus and regimen to aid that program. I have seen such an incredible change in his attitude in just a week…from one of utter doubt and disappointment to one of hope and challenge. It can be very difficult to be supportive in those times of despair – nothing you say will help, really, and the retort of “you don’t know how it is…” can be hard to argue against. I am usually a very good at managing his stress but this had me at my wits end. I could not help him see his way through it, I could only try to keep his home life as calm and welcoming as possible. I admit it was sometimes hard to not offer my own biting words, offering to return to work if it would help his stress level. I know being the sole income is an incredible burden. I made the offer with trepidation – because if he asked me to I would do it. But he wanted to try…to push through if he could. And now it seems he has managed to do just that.

Meanwhile, the kids came for a visit when he managed to get a pass from the Air Force. I cannot tell you how glad we were to visit with them and to be the first to know the gender of the coming wee one. They wanted to hold a gender reveal party at the house for the families so we had to know in order to do a proper reveal. We’d hoped to do something quite impressive in the kaboom-y sort of way. However, our original attempts were more of Pffts and our EOD pal was on vacation. We don’t have a proper backstop to allow the usual target and Tannerite method.

That was when I recalled my aged collection of model rockets and engines and told Sarge it might work if we could get the chalk inserted as a payload somehow. This led to a couple days of test runs and madly running around the yard to swipe up the evidence of the attempts. baby_reveal_go_blueFinally, he had the best payload method and engine combination. While certainly not the explosive result I am sure the kids had hoped for, it was the best we could do…what was really sad was Sarge had taken a less lethal class all week and they had the most gloriously blue smoke grenade…but only the one. So just an FYI for anyone considering reveal options in the future one of those would be superb.

We gathered everyone under the guise of a casual meal and a sunset family photo op, surprising them all with the gender reveal event. Amusingly but strangely, Ranger absolutely demanded to be in the photo. He would not be shooed away and promptly sat down at my feet, turning to the camera. Everyone laughed, of course, but it did give me a small frisson of sadness. ranger_reveal

Did he know something? Feel his own age creeping up and knowing to take advantage of the photo op? Or just his natural ham coming out? I was a bit irked to see later that my own appearance was sub-optimal. I could have changed, brushed my hair, etc. But I was so busy with all the food, wrangling rockets, etc. that I simply forgot about myself.

I’d hoped to decorate and make it truly special but it simply couldn’t be done. I still feel rather sad and responsible for it being lackluster for the kids but in the end the casual nature led to a really calm and enjoyable evening. As night fell, everyone sat in groups, chatting and sharing the attention of the kids who had been missed so much. Everyone remarked on the wonderful vibe the house has and I have to agree – there is something so serene about this land… At any rate, I hope to make up for the low key event with a Christmas baby shower covered in decorations, games, and brisket.

The kids managed to make up for the make-do photo event with their own trip to a fall festival – just look at this picture, one of several that were just perfect.wee_pumpkin It is so sweet – she has been practically bedridden with morning sickness and this trip and the entertaining of company was, I think, a difficult undertaking for her. But she pressed on, not only for her own family but for his – knowing how much he matters to them and how pleased they are with the news. I just hope she has managed to get some rest. He returns to his life as usual on the base, studying for the next set of tests. He has done SO WELL thus far and is happy with his path. They do worry about the future assignment and its rather small base and housing option. But one never knows what the future will bring. They are open to whatever the future brings – a characteristic that will take them far in the military life.

Allow me to share this usual morning view…I cannot help but revel in its bucolic peace with the sliver of moon lending charm…no matter what else happens, this place is where we were meant to be. This is what we were meant to have. Fate smiling like that moon while concealing the other secrets.