a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

The Picky Pickersons

We’re not sure how this happens. We clean out the garage and, within a matter of months, the piles are back. Short of dumpster diving in our sleep, we’ve no idea how it gets so full, so fast. We also keep finding things that neither of us remember having, wanting, needing, or even liking; furniture, empty boxes, bottles, lamps, a potty chair (we have no kids…unless you count the dogs, and they’re potty trained already). The only other logical explanation for this clutter conundrum is that someone is using our garage for a storage unit and hasn’t paid us yet.

Because of our schedules, we don’t always have time to get everything done that we’d like to (you know how this goes). So, after weeks of “shifting” things in the garage – right and left, up and down – in order to find and get to what we need, we finally had time to sort through it all. The “really important” things (ie: Fred’s “precious” tools…heaven help me if he ever found out I used his hammer and screwdriver to make a pretty star design in the tin can luminaries last Christmas) were moved up against the walls and the rest was tackled with gloves and garbage bags. We did manage to get rid of and/or recycle a nice chunk of it, which included a couple of boxes of “free” items. These were things that were still okay and could be used by someone – and not really worth saving for a yard sale.  So, out the boxes went to the curb. The vultures cleared out most of it within the hour, leaving a few things – enough to consolidate into one box – behind.  It sat there, untouched, for a few days when I noticed a young couple had stopped to take peek. They were picking through it, looking at each and every item, discussing them quietly and at length. There were about a half-dozen assorted Christmas craft kits, in their original bags, that were still sealed. As they started opening them, rummaging through them, and tossing them back in the box, I poked my head out the door.

“Those are all the same thing per bag. The label on the front shows you what’s inside so you don’t have to open them” I said, trying to be nice about it and smile. She looked up at me, smiled back, and nodded as if she understood what I was saying…then proceeded to open another bag. Okay, I know this was just ‘give away’ stuff but if you go and mess it up, what good would it be to anyone else?  This annoyed me. And, though I really wanted to say something, using colorful, descriptive words involving her family members and farm animals, I realized it really wasn’t worth the effort and decided just to walk away.

As I was turning to leave, I saw her hold up one of the bags…”do you have this in another color?” she asked. I had to think about this for a minute. Did she just ask me if I had a garage sale reject, put out in a free box at the edge of the lawn, in another color??  Really? 

“Let me go check” I responded. I went inside, shut the door, and started the laundry…

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The April showers have come our way…

Fred finally got a couple of days off work – in a row, no less (can I add a big “yippee skippee” here without sounding too silly?). This hasn’t happened in a while. And, even though we’re not going anywhere or doing anything special it’s nice not to have to do anything or be anywhere in particular, y’know?

Of course, on the first day of his “mini-vacation,” it was pouring rain. We spent it doing nothing more than sleeping in, watching daytime T.V. (proving, once again, there is a reason to keep the thing turned off…), and being generally lazy. Gad, it felt good. However, we did manage to get to this really cool, new Mexican cafe located ‘undertown’ (ie;  downtown in the basement of another building with an outside entrance – it’s becoming quite popular here). It’s off the beaten path and you have to be looking for it to find it but it’s well worth the effort. I love that it’s quirky, casual, and laid back (just this side of “no shoes, no shirt, no problem”). They have great “make your own” burritos, too. You can choose whatever you want to put it in and they stuff it full – and, truly, their frijoles are to die for. It’s a “secret recipe” (of course I asked) but I’d still love to know what they do to them to make them so rich and tender with just a hint of smokiness. Okay, well, I can feel droplets of spittle gathering at the corners of my mouth so I either need to start the next paragraph or go eat lunch…

The next day the rain looked like it was going to stop (silly me) so we decided to venture out to the beach to shoot some photos. Of course, the minute we got there it started raining harder. But, being the good little Pac Northwesterners that we are, we got out the “official rain gear” (ie: Freds rain hat and my Mary Poppins umbrella), and carried on. It did manage to slow up, for about 30 minutes at one point, which was just enough time to get some really fun shots of the marina and a sea plane landing and taking off again. It would’ve been more exciting to get a photo of the plane being gobbled up by a shark, like the rescue helicopter in “Jaws,” but no such luck. Maybe next time.  (Hey, this is just the way my mind works…).

Yesterday, since it was now day 3 of “all rain, all day,” we decided “to hell with it” and packed up the 3 big dogs, the 2 big adults, and off we all went in my 1 little car to do some exploring (and, of course, a bit of grocery shopping, too – no need to waste gas). Funny thing, though, as soon as we got out of town there was no rain. In fact, it was downright sunny. I wonder if it’d been this way, all week, and we never knew it? Sometimes it’s good to venture out of your own backyard.

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One little, two little, three little tentacles…

I’ve always had a curiosity about the ocean and all its creatures. And, I’m particularly crazy for octopi.  I love ’em. Not in a “dipped-in-a-light-batter-and-deep-fried” way, either. I love to paint them. Though I do remember, as a child, my mother trying to get some “inexpensive protein” for us, as we were on a tight budget then, and chose octopus. She had no idea how to prepare it (this was before the internet and there was nothing in the Betty Crocker cookbook on “cephalopod cacciatore” or “octopus a la king”) so she decided to do something “simple” and pan-fried it in butter. I remember she and I laughing, a lot, as she tried to keep the legs “unrolled” while they were cooking. They kept springing back like little rubber bands and, the longer they cooked, the tighter they got.  Needless to say, we didn’t have octopus that night. In fact, she couldn’t even get the dogs to eat it…

One of my favorite poems by Ogden Nash:

The Octopus      

Tell me, O Octopus, I begs
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus;
If I were thou, I’d call me Us.

 

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Knock, knock. Who’s there?

I came out west from New England (Fred and I thought it’d be more fun to live in the same state…crazy, huh?).  I lived back east for more than a decade and, absolutely, fell in love with it. Grant it, the driving was a little hairy, the weather a little extreme – but the people were great. I remember being told, before I moved there, to “expect to be snubbed” because I was an ‘outsider.’  But nothing could’ve been further than the truth. Even though the people are, basically, “keep to themselves” types, they’re genuine. What you see is what you get and, if you don’t like it, too bad, so sad.

I especially liked my neighbors.  Across the street was Mona. A 70-something, retired widow who even with all of her health issues (she was a veritable poster child for disease), absolutely loved life to the fullest. She had owned a travel agency and, as far as I know, had visited every country on the planet, at least once, if not more.   

Right next door to me were Pat and Charlie. They were in their late 50’s at the time, very quiet, not unfriendly at all, just not what I’d call “outgoing.” But, for whatever reason, they took a shine to me – and I to them. Pat was a nervous little thing, always twitching and touching her nose when she chattered on and on about this and that.  I always wanted to see if what would happen if I held her arms down to her side and asked her a question. Charlie, on the other hand, was painfully shy. I’m pretty sure he had no idea what I looked like for the first few years I lived there as, whenever he actually did say something to me, he was talking to my feet. Living there, for so many years, ‘interesting’ things were bound to happen…and they did.  

I remember one beautiful summer day, the sun was shining, the birds were…yeah, you get the idea. I was walking through the livingroom and glanced out the window to see Charlie, in his coveralls, leaning over the back porch, tinkering with something along the railing. I went about my day and, about an hour later, I noticed he was still out there…but, this time, was on the other side of the railing, hanging sort of…sideways.  (When I’d gotten the story, later from Pat he, apparently, leaned out too far and went right over…but not before getting hooked up in the railing and was good and stuck there). I watched him writhe around for another minute, gripping the spindles as he was trying, unsuccessfully, to fling his right foot over the top of the railing, wondering how long he’d been there. And, when I surmised there was no way he was getting out of this, by himself, without stripping off his clothes (this was the same man who, when in the hospital, wouldn’t let anyone but Pat give him a sponge bath), I went over to see if I could help. 

The minute he saw me across the lawn he, obviously, panicked as he started wriggling harder in a desperate attempt to escape.  When I finally got over to him, the movement stopped, and he was facing away from me.  Did he think if he kept really still I wouldn’t notice him dangling there? 

“Whatcha doing, Charlie?” I asked. I heard a small whimper come from him when he realized I had, indeed, spotted him and wasn’t going away. “Just hanging around today?” I waited for a reply. “I…I think I’m stuck” he finally whispered.  Yes, I could see that, too.  As I stepped through the bushes a faint “no no no” escaped his lips.  “Okay, let’s get you down from here…” I said as I got directly under him and, using all my strength (though rather thin, he was still about 6′ tall…), pushed up.  It was, seriously,  like trying to lift a friggin’ Hefty bag full of Jell-O over my head.  First attempt, big fail.  Second to come.  I told Charlie he was going to have to pull when I pushed, not just hang there like a wet noodle. Once that was cleared up and we’d coordinated our efforts, all it took was one big shove to produce a nasty “rrrrrrip!” and a loud “thud.” Charlie was now free. He was also now laying flat on his back on the deck with an 8″ hole in the side of his coveralls because, between our combined efforts, he was not only propelled up but went back over the railing.

“Are you okay, Charlie?” I asked, poking at him through the spindles.  He groaned a little and finally replied “uh huh.”  “Let me help you up” I said, as I backed out of the bushes. “NO!”  he quickly retorted.  I started to giggle.  I think this was the loudest I’d ever heard him talk.  “Okay. I’ll leave you thereI teased. “But only because it’s not raining.  However, if I don’t see you up in, say, an hour, I will come back to help you…”  I think that was just the motivation to help him to his feet…

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With three, you get moth balls…

Living in a wooded area, it’s just not possible to keep bugs out of the house. I do my best to ‘escort’ them off the porch when I see them (usually with the swipe of a broom) and have a special little container to ‘relocate’ them, outside, when I find them in the house (hey, the only bugs I touch are worms, ladybugs, and rollypollies…and I’m not too thrilled about the worms).

You’d think catching them would be the biggest challenge but, not so. Keeping the dogs away from the bugs, long enough to catch them, is. The minute they see something crawling across the floor or buzzing past their faces, the hunt is on. I must say, though, it is kind of funny to watch the three dogs barking and racing, from one end of the house to the other, after a fly. It’s even funnier when the fly lands on Fred. The dogs neither see, nor care, what’s in their way. They want the bug. They want it now. And nothing is going to stop them (I feel this way about chocolate, sometimes…). Before you know it, Fred has a lap full of psychotic doggies. (I might need to get Fred an athletic cup for Christmas…we have a lot of bugs…).

There was a big moth in the bathroom this morning. They’re not like butterflies that gracefully flitter about. Moths are more like frantic little Ninjas. Always moving around really fast – and you never know what their next move is…until they end up tangled in your hair…or floating in your juice.

Even though I really don’t like moths, I had no desire to kill it.  First I tried to ‘coax’ it out of the bathroom into the kitchen by waving my arms. I was trying to create a ‘breeze’ to encourage it’s flight path (oh, stop. It made perfect sense at the time…). When that didn’t work, I was able to get it to land on a towel and gently cover it.  Unfortunately, when I was just a few feet from the back door, the little snot decided the ride was over, crawled out, and started to fly away. Apparently the dogs had been watching me this whole time, with great curiosity, and were more than interested in helping me rid the house of this bug because, no sooner had the moth left the towel, when Kimber came flying out from behind me and, with one, giant, snarfing gulp, caught the moth. It reminded me of the scene from “The Sandlot,” where you see “the beast” jumping up from behind the fence, swallowing the Babe Ruth baseball whole…

Quickly, I dropped the towel, grabbed the dog, and pried her mouth open.  I could see the moth…it was just off to the side, partially stuck to her tongue by one wing.  I stared at it, for a second or two, looking for any signs of life.  Pretty soon, the ‘non-stuck’ wing started twitching…then moving. Great. Do I go in after it, realizing that I’m going to have to touch it, or do I let the dog have some extra protein for the day? Being the softy I am, I gently grabbed the moth by the wing, carefully peeled it away from the sticky blob of drool that was holding it captive, held it up and away from the snapping jaws that, clearly, wanted it back, and took it outside.  I, carefully, laid it on the railing and went back in the house (and washed my hands…twice).  About 20 minutes later it was gone.  Hopefully it wasn’t picked off by a bird…

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The 16th Anniversary of my 34th Birthday

(Photo Credit: Cake Wrecks)

About a month before my birthday I googled “about turning 50” and was horrified to find everything from terrible jokes (Q: What do you call a 50-year old with no gray hair?  A: Bald…) to “romantic gifts for her,” which included Beatles pens, a bag of rainbow marbles, and a bowl made out of an LP record (this is romance at 50??  Shoot me now, please). But, the one that really caught my attention, was a link that popped up, along with everything else, to a medical paper entitled “Insanity Defined.” Had I not found that incredibly funny, I might’ve been a little depressed. 

But, honestly, I’m thrilled (and a little surprised) that I’ve made it this far. I’ve never been too cautious or concerned about being “adventurous.” And, I’m not talking about stupid things that would make me a prime target for the grim reaper, like drugs and alcohol (that I can recall or would be willing to admit to) but, other things that a lot of people wouldn’t normally do – like move cross-country to live in a place I’ve never even visited before (been there, done that…three times now). Or started a business because I thought it was a good idea (before you comment on this one, I don’t recall ever saying I was a good candidate for “The Apprentice…”). 

So, while I have noticed a few changes over the recent years, like needing to grunt in order to get up off the (in my defense, very squishy) couch, or having to stretch before I head to the bathroom, it’s not so bad being 50.  And it certainly beats the hell out of the alternative.

In celebration of my 50 years, here’s a gift to you;  “50 Ways to Nurture Your Happiness”   http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/03/29/50-ways-to-nurture-your-happiness/

 

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Now, where did I put that?

Memory has a way of kicking in at the most inconvenient times.  Like, right when you, finally, get comfortable in a nice, warm bed, you remember the dogs are still at the back door, their little legs crossed, eyes watering, trying not to piddle on the floor, or just as you sit down to dinner you realize the empty plate across from you belongs to someone you were supposed to pick up an hour ago… 

For me, many of the things I need to remember seem to pop into my head right after I get into my morning shower.  In fact, it almost never fails.  No sooner am I in, shower curtain closed, shampoo bottle in hand, when I’m back out again, running naked through the house (unless you can imagine Demi Moore’s body here, don’t go there…it’s not pretty and may cause nightmares and retinal burning…).  Trails of water droplets and flat-as-a-duck footprints are left behind on the floor, leading from room to room, as I frantically search for something to make a quick note on it before I forget — which has happened, more than once (my memory isn’t quite what it used to be and wasn’t all that great to begin with…). And it’s a little more than embarrassing to finally realize, as I’m standing in front of the livingroom window, dripping on the rug, feeling an uncomfortable breeze where there shouldn’t be one, that I no longer have any idea what I was going to write down. Half the time, Fred’s still asleep when I race past the doorway.  The other half he’s awake but pretends to be asleep. I think it’s a survival thing…

But, bless his heart, he saved the day when he got me a new phone. An iPhone4, to be exact. I feel I’ve, finally, ‘caught up’ with the rest of the world (ie; I now have a phone that does a bazillion cool things instead of a flip phone that…makes phone calls…). And, I’m finding, the “notes” application is really quite helpful.  In addition to being able to take it into the bathroom with me, should I need it, *cough* I can make notes of things to remember, throughout the day, as well.

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I’m LB and I’m a Fiesta-holic…

Unless you’re into Fiesta Ware by Homer Laughlin, you may find this a terribly dull post.   Well, you might find it terribly dull, anyway…

I blame it on my best friend, really.  Had she not been the sweet and thoughtful person she is, by buying me a set for Christmas several years ago, I wouldn’t be knee-deep in the stuff today. (What? Don’t look at me through your computer screen like that. Fine. So, maybe, it’s partly my fault for buying a few more pieces after that. Okay, already. I bought a lot more…). 

Seriously, who knew it was so addicting? I’m a strong person. I thought I could live without more but, every time I see a piece I don’t have, its sleek deco lines and bright, vibrant colors call out to me  “go ahead, buy me…one little piece can’t hurt you…besides, you know you wanna…” and, before you know it, I’m washing it off and putting into our china cabinet (well, it’s actually a glass bookcase that I liberated from Fred. He really is a very understanding husband…).

My favorite designs are the large disc pitcher and medium teapot. The pitcher design hasn’t changed much since Homer Laughlin started producing Fiesta in 1936.  The handle is no longer put on by hand, it’s part of the mold now which is, probably, the best way to tell the old from the new on this.  I’ve managed to get ahold of all the colors, to date, of the pitcher — except the medium green. I once watched an online auction in which one, in good condition, sold for $325 US. And that was considered a “great” price. Unless I hit the lottery, which is unlikely since I don’t buy lottery tickets, I’m probably never going to have the large disc pitcher in medium green. I’m okay with this…unless I think about it too long.  The teapot hasn’t been produced since 1969 so I’m sticking with the first six Fiesta colors on those.

In a moment of clarity (or insanity, depending on how nostalgic I’m feeling), I decided to sell some of my collection about a year ago. It seemed like a good decision when we were using what could only be described as ‘goat trails’ to get from the dining room to the bedrooms and bath. It was starting to feel like to my grandmother’s house — the woman who saved everything, including bits of lint, carefully wrapped in jewelry boxes. My decision, on what pieces to sell and what to keep was done, basically, by color. The vintage first six colors are my very favorite so I had to keep all those pieces…and then there’s chartreuse – love it…oh, and I couldn’t get rid of the lilac or sapphire….and, of course, we need the every day dishes to eat off of…(what’s that?  Yes I did, too, sell some of it…).

 

A couple of cool links on Fiesta Ware;  

http://www.fiestafactorydirect.com/t-aboutfiesta.aspx 

and  http://www.happyheidi.com/antiques/fiesta_gallery.html

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Heads in the mail

I need to paint.  Not like painting white walls and beige ceilings (oh, remind me to tell you a funny joke about beige ceilings. It’s a little naughty so, if you’re easily offended don’t respond…or, at least, pretend to be amused by it, if you do…), I need to paint in an artistic way. It’s something I’ve been doing since I could hold a brush and, whenever I’m away from it too long, I get grumpy and have to stop whatever else I’m doing, like cleaning…or laundry…or any other type of icky housework, and paint (this is my story and I’m sticking to it…). 

I don’t care what I’m painting on as long as the paint will adhere to it, though the “vintage-chippy look” is quite in fashion these days…which, on occasion, has been a godsend when I’ve really screwed something up.  “No, no.  Really, it’s supposed to look that way…” and all is well with the world again.

My choice of mediums is acrylics because water colors are too unforgiving (I’m a very messy person when I’m creating and need that “out” of being able to cover something up, or fix it, if I don’t like it or it doesn’t look right to me) and oils take too long to dry (I don’t need instant gratification, I just want it…), though I do admire them, both, very much. 

I’ll paint on anything I can; metal, rocks, wood, glass, floors, carpeting (it was a really ugly hallway…) and, once in a while, even on canvases. My current palate is reclaimed mannequin heads  (this is the part where you look like a deer caught in the headlights – it’s okay.  I’m used to it).  You know, like for hat, scarf, & jewelry displays? (“Oooh!” I hear you say).  They’re really quite popular and I enjoy doing them – plus I love the idea that they’re a piece of usable art instead of ending up in the garbage dumps…which is why I named them my “Landfill Ladies.”  I originally started selling them on eBay but got tired of people expecting to get them for next to nothing and bitching about the shipping (I wish I had that much control over the USPS).  This is art, people!  It takes me a long time to do these!  I’m an anal perfectionist and I paint really, really slow!  (See?  I make fun of myself, too…painfully true though it may be…).  So, I switched over to Etsy.com and really like it there.  The customers, for the most part, are really great and seem to appreciate everything you do for them.  Once in a while you get a lemon – but that’s true of any place that’s accessed by the general public.

I get excited when a new shipment of mannequin blanks come in.  Not only because I get to create a new work of art, I also get to go to the UPS store to pick them up.  The anticipation of arriving on a particularly busy day and being able to ask, very loudly, “have my heads come in?”  is great fun.  Fortunately, the employees there know me and appreciate (okay, tolerate) my odd sense of humor (and I believe they, even if only on some deep level, enjoy watching the faces of the customers when I do this) — so it’s all good.

If you’re interested, you can find all my current Landfill Ladies at www.LBDK.etsy.com (of course I’m going to throw in a plug…it’s free advertising…and I’m saving up for more paint…).

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Would you like a side of dog hair with your burger?

As I mentioned before, we have dogs.  Three of them, to be exact – and all rescued as puppies.  The oldest, Ruby, is a Pointer-Aussie mix.  Middle dog, Kimber, is a Dobie-Collie mix. And then there’s Samantha, the baby, who’s part Corgi, part Lab, and part sneaky little dog down the street.  They’re each 3 months apart so they’ve grown up together.  They eat, play, and fight…just like all other sisters do. 

Looking back, most people thought we’d kinked our Slinkys to believe that three puppies, at the same time, was a good idea — and, perhaps, they were correct.  Sooo, there might’ve been one or two times when Fred came home from work to find me sitting on the kitchen floor, on the brink of tears, because I couldn’t get one them out from under the bed…aaand, maybe once in a while, one of them would shred an entire roll of toilet paper or destroy a pair or glasses (or three).  But, mostly, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  In fact, I’m still trying to talk Fred into adopting another one (“we still have this much room in the car…so, if we get a dog this big…”).  Yeah, I’ve never been accused of being “too sane…”

Having three dogs isn’t really that much different than having one.  There’s just ‘more’ of everything – including hair.  Lots and lots of dog hair.  And it gets everywhere.  It wasn’t until we went out for breakfast one morning that I remembered buttered toast wasn’t supposed to be fuzzy…

After the fifth vacuum, “specially made for pet hair,” started smoking and making a horrible sound like an angry cat in heat, we had no choice but to switch to a heavy-duty shop vac.  Dragging it through the house isn’t as convenient as an upright but it helps keep the dog hair to a minimum, though people still think we have wall-to-wall carpeting when the floors are, actually, linoleum.

We’ve even gotten to the point where, not only do we not buy black or white clothing anymore we, intentionally, look for clothes that match the dogs.  “Excuse me. Do you have this in Australian Shepherd brown or Corgie tan?” 

And, the thing is, I do brush the dogs, on a regular basis and I do sweep a few times a week.  Yet, we still end up with large clumps of fluffy hair wafting through the house, usually scaring the crap out of me in the middle of the night when I see them out of the corner of my eye, racing around the floor if I walk by them too quickly. I even think Fred’s convinced I’ve secretly gone out and gotten another dog, and am hiding it somewhere in the house, because he, like me, cannot fathom where it all comes from.   

 

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