Sunday, August 20, 2017

THROWING AWAY TOY CARS


The massive purging continues.  Today: Cars. Nope, not real cars; Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars.

Some of these little cars have been around since my brothers were young, so they've aged reasonably well.  I am hesitant to get rid of the cars because they're sentimental and they're good to have around, like when my nephews were younger and would come to stay for short visits.

Saving every single Matchbox car and Hot Wheels car that has ever crossed the paths of my kids and me?  Something has to give or else I'm going to have to open a toy car museum.

I haul out the plastic car carrying cases and start going through each and every car.  The test is quite simple: If the car might still be able to win on a Hot Wheels race track, it gets to stay.  Many of the older cars are too beat up to pass this test; many of the newer cars also fail.  Into the bin they go; No mercy.

If the cars are riddled with broken parts or have obviously been run over repeatedly by bikes or skateboards or other implements of destruction, into the bin they go.  If the car is a repeat or the repeat of a repeat, such as when McDonald's gave out Hot Wheels cars in Happy Meals, only the best racer of the multiples gets to stay.

This helps to dwindle the cars down to a manageable amount.  Once the Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars are done, I go through all the Micro Machine vehicles, and then I tackle the much-larger cars and trucks.  Finally, after a couple of hours, I have two bins full of "to be tossed" toy cars.  No, I am not saving them to auction them off online; the cars that are leaving this house are cars that are not worth diddly-squat.

Fear not, though; Many of them still work just fine, they're just not Hot Wheels Track Champion material, so I donate every single one of the rejected vehicles.  Someone else can enjoy them.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the space that frees up post-cars.  Yes, the massive purging indeed continues, and it's wonderful.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

FIGHTING FOR THE PLANTS

I finally re-pot some of my plants.  The dang things are growing fine on their own, but they really could use more room and healthier soil... like I know what I'm talking about.  The only thing I grow successfully is mold. 

Three of these plants I got several years ago from the Wal-Mart Charlie Brown Christmas Tree section, where all plants are up to 75% off and look like dried herbs and sad little representations of plant-like species.  To my great surprise, the Wal-Mart plants keep growing and prove even me, the World's Worst Gardener, to be a successful plant momma.  For now, anyway.

After re-potting the plants, I notice a few things.  First of all, there's a huge-ass, ugly, horrifying spider in one of the pots, and it's running around the rim between the the plant and freedom, unable to make it over the edge.  The second thing I notice is that my gardenia plant appears to be making some buds that will, with any luck at all, bloom in the fall.  The third thing I notice is that one of my Charlie Brown plants suddenly droops and wilts and appears to be committing suicide now that I've given it room to grow and fed it some water.  The last thing I notice is that one of my other Charlie Brown plants is suddenly growing like crazy, and the pot I originally choose is going to be too small, so I'll have to improvise a catch-basin out of foil for a bigger pot.

After two days, the plants are still alive and seem to be surviving their new digs -- bigger, badder pots with some decent soil.  I am so bloody confident in my ability that I go out and buy an amazing basil plant at the grocery store.  The basil plant not only smells fabulous, it's about a foot tall and also a foot or more wide, looks healthy, and only costs $6.

I have faith that my plants will survive, but give me time.  No matter how nice I am to the little darlings, they always turn on me.  There will be no Charlie Brown ending for these plants, but I will fight for them until they're shriveled and brittle and obviously ready for the dirt pile across the street.


Friday, August 18, 2017

BLIGHT FIGHT

A blight is affecting the trees in my small neighborhood.  Two giant trees out front have already come down.  I notice that the maple tree hanging over the driveway from next door is pissing something all over my car every single day.  (No, it's not caterpillars this time.)  Even worse, leaves are coming down from the neighborhood trees as fast as if it were autumn already.

I decide to sweep my patio since it looks more like early October out there.  I'm lazy, so I sweep the giant pile of leaves right off the back edge and into the backyard.  It's okay; no one tends to the backyard, anyway.  I sweep and sweep and sweep, and still more errant leaves fall into my path.

Then, I tackle the driveway and front path.  For this, I collect all the leaves into my big recycle bin and dump them all across the street in the woods.  I could have done this with my patio leaves, but I am less and less motivated here to do anything that resembles improvements.

I get everything done, go to sit outside, and there are already leaves in my way.  The leaves are brownish and seem almost burnt in places.  I'm not a tree doctor, so I've no idea what's going on here, hence why I believe it is blight.  As if the leaves aren't bad enough, I have one black hornet that keeps dive-bombing me.

My outside experience turns out to be surprisingly brief.  I really don't give the day another thought until I pass through the den on my way to the kitchen.  There, in the middle of the den on the hardwood floor, is one of those goddamned leaves from outside.  One of us, either my kiddo or me, brought the leaf in on a shoe and accidentally planted it right in the center of both the room and my line of vision.

Apparently, now the blight is picking on me.  My roots are pretty strong, but it might be time to start thinking about uprooting.  Seriously.  This blight fight is starting to take its toll on me and my car, and I'm not sure just how many more times I can bang my head against the same tree without the tree eventually winning ... or being sawed in half by the town because it's infected.  I just want the trees to hold off dropping their leaves for another few weeks -- not an unreasonable request mid-August.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

TO BANGS, OR NOT TO BANGS

Bangs or no bangs.

I'm at the crossroads yet again.  I like my hair long; I like my hair short; I'm not so fond of the in-between stage.  I am currently in the in-between stage.  Now, I have to make a decision whether or not to keep my bangs, which look a little better but are a royal pain in the ass to keep in place, or go with the grown-out bangs, which gives my face a look of eternal surprise but makes my hair a thirty-second adventure every morning.

To bangs, or not to bangs -- Is that even a question?

The original decision was simple when I let my hair go gray because my hair just kind of sat there on my head, all old and .... old.  With long gray hair, I looked like a crazy English teacher.  Okay, I'm sure you see the irony here.  So I chopped it all off.  Then I started growing it.  Then, I chopped it.  Then, I grew it out almost long enough to being able to make a pony-tail.

My stylist is the best.  She tolerates my hair-cutting-Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality.  Whatever length it is, she makes it look fabulous.  Of course, I cannot recreate the looks because I am hair-challenged, but she is patient to near madness.  Finally, I said to her, "Cut it.  If you cut it the way I want, you can color it any way you choose."

Well, she colored it soooooo well that now I HAVE to grow it out because it looks and feels FABULOUS.  (Besides, the older I get, the more I look like my mother when my hair is short.  This is not a compliment.  This is a reality I need to accept.)  My stylist is totally convinced that my bangs can be side-swept.  I have tried this before many times.  When the stylist does this to my hair, it looks marvelous; when I do it, I resemble Twiggy after a week-long bender.

Anyway, I guess it will be a big surprise to us all.  Yesterday, I had no bangs and pulled them all off my face with a headband.  The day before, I had bangs.  When I have bangs, the look accentuates my eyes but the bangs don't behave.  When I pull my bangs back, people can see the widow's peak hairline that resembles Bela Lugosi in Dracula

Either way, I cannot win, and I cannot lose.  My hair isn't gray anymore, and I don't look so much like my mother anymore; it's got to be all good from there.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FAT FOOD FILE

In the ever-evolving organizational task of Project Home-Clean, I finally attack the giant hanging file folder stuffed with random recipes.

For years I have clipped and torn out and scribbled down recipes that I swear I am going to try someday.  Right.  Sure I will.  I finally organized my cookbooks earlier this summer and actually used them to ... gasp ... COOK.  Now, though, I need to empty the four-inch thick file of random paper scraps.

First, I separate the entire pile into two: file-ready, uniformly-sized papers with neatly printed recipes go into one pile; small and mis-sized cut-out recipes go into another pile.  Then, I start organizing each pile.  I start with the papers that are all the same size, and I toss out repeats and recipes that I probably will never make.  After that is done, I start in on the random cut out recipes. 

What shocks me is my sudden disgust with spending inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen when no one is home consistently enough to indulge in my creations.  I don't despise cooking and baking.  I despise cooking and baking that involve so many intricacies that I'm exhausted and ready for IV fluids when I'm finished.  I despise a kitchen so destroyed by creativity that I need a vacation after cleaning up the mess.

Seriously, though, am I ever really going to make Pecan-Encrusted Maple Leaf Pumpkin Cookies?  No, not ever.  Will I ever again hand-make pretzels?  Maybe.  But, like the five variations of homemade play-dough, I'm sure if I want to make pretzels from scratch, I'll be able to readily find that recipe online.

When it's all said and done, my recycling bag is stuffed a little fuller, and my recipe file is a helluva lot slimmer.  Now, if only my waistline would follow suit of the file folder, I might be on to something.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

METEOR-LESS SKYLINE

So excited for the meteor showers over the weekend!  I write on my calendar, I make a note on the whiteboard stuck to the fridge, and I plan my day and evening so I am home and watching the sky until the wee hours of the morning.  I am prepped and ready to drive further into the dark boonies if necessary to get a glimpse at the meteor shower that is being touted as "the brightest in human history!"

I start checking the sky around 9:00 p.m., then again around 10:00, then 11:00, then more frequently.  I have all of the lights out.  The house out front has all of its lights out (probably because no one is home).  I know I live a little close to the urban side of suburbia, but I can still see stars and the moon on a clear night, even with all of the lights on -- my lights, neighbors' lights, industrial lights, street lights.  Tonight, though, the sky is merely gray and star-less.

I check the weather radar.  Rain is to the west with a few thunderstorms further behind.  My area, though, is in the clear.  I should be able to see to Infinity and beyond.  Tonight, though, Infinity is no closer than it is every night; there are no streaking stars in the sky tonight.

I stay up until 2:00 a.m., waiting and searching and hoping to see what the scientists claim we will all see.  Instead, it's all just a huge pile of bullshit.  Tonight's sky is no different than any other night sky, and, quite honestly, I am bored out of my mind and probably look like a flaming idiot peering outside every few minutes.

Give it up, kid.  Jiminey Cricket isn't singing to you tonight.

Monday, August 14, 2017

BLOODY GOOD TIME

In a continuation from yesterday's spontaneity blog, I have a confession to make:  Sometimes I am moving so fast and so furiously that I have no idea what I'm actually doing.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was in the water at the beach.  The waves were not very big and I wasn't in very far, but I still managed to get knocked down when I accidentally wedged my foot under a rock.  Somehow, I emerged with a cut hand.  I don't know how or why; my hand wasn't even involved in the accidental dunking.


And then there was the incident with the grill.  I was moving the grill back into its normal spot, about six inches from where I had moved it, and I cut the back of my leg open on the stone stairs.  I don't quite know how or why that happened because I was actually going forward with good momentum at the time.  I doubt the stairs jumped out and attacked me, so it has to be all my fault.

Well, tonight it happens again.  I meet friends for a drink.  This is all very spontaneous.  I'm considering showering and going to bed early when I receive a text:  Meet us for a drink.  Well, sure.  Why not, right?  It's a small but crowded bar, and I spend a lot of the time standing, but no one is crowding me or anything.  Then, I grab a nice tall bar chair, into which I climb without incident; I don't fall down or get my leg caught in the spindles or anything.  After one drink, we leave the bar and walk to our separate cars, parked right there out front in the street.  I don't have to climb through thickets or thorns or anything; it's the sidewalk, the street, and my car.  When I get home, I pull into my driveway, walk about twenty feet to my door, and go inside.

Somehow, some way, please don't ask me how, I have managed to cut a toe wide open. Yes, I am bleeding rather profusely from an injury I've no idea has even occurred. 

Judging from the fact that I don't have blood on my sandal nor on the bottom of my jeans, this accident must have happened between the car and the front door.  Did I catch my foot on the stone steps?  Is the property attacking me yet again?

Honestly, because honesty is the best policy, I've been a bit of a klutz my entire life.  I've fallen off bikes, roller skates, and swing sets.  I cut my foot almost in half on the top of a boat mast (a special trick, I assure you).  I've broken my nose no less than four times, once from an ice ball thrown by teenagers at the bus stop.  Usually, though, I own the scrapes and scars.  Lately, though ... lately it seems like my body is just spontaneously self-destructing.

Oh, well.  Old age, I suppose.  It is a lovely evening, and I have a wonderful time.  How do I know?  I've got the battle scar to prove it.  Just remember if you invite me out in the future, a tourniquet may be required.