Monday, November 30, 2015

I swear I saw the coffee table jump a few inches

The past few days have been a little wild.  I'd like to think it's more of the happy kind of wild than the scary kind, but you be the judge.  

On Thursday morning Robert and I went to Ihop for breakfast and discovered my mom in the parking lot.  My mom lives in Arizona so this is quite the jump.

Turns out she flew in to help with demo, which we launched into with great gusto after eating a few pancakes.  We had a great time tearing down walls.  It rained the entire day, but we managed to make quite a mess and take many loads out to the 40 yard dumpster we had rented.  Mom even seemed to form an attachment to the crow bar, which shouldn't surprise me, but it was a little strange to hear her calling it her little friend.  Robert's mom, Audrey and grandma, Carolyne, made us a nice dinner and we promptly passed out shortly thereafter.

Friday I woke up feeling pretty icky so my mom and I took the day off from demo.  Robert stuck with it and by the end of the day had knocked out another room.  I was scheduled to work Saturday, but I was still sick and came home to sleep it off.  My mom was also sick by this point.  Robert had found a helper, however, so my mom and I dozed on the couch which felt like it was going to fall through the floor at any minute.  At one point I swear I saw the coffee table jump a few inches.  We were so tired and icky we didn't care.  At some point Robert came up and mentioned he had stepped on a nail so he was through with demo for the day.  

He sat on the couch for only a few minutes before he decided he should go to the ER.  It turns out that while there is not much they can do for a nail in the foot, it was very educational, moreso than talking to the Ask a Nurse.  Robert had used liquid bandaid after taking a bath.  Two big no nos.  I don't know if that exacerbated the problem, but Robert has been in more pain than when a horse kicked him and broke his foot or when he suffered a mile long scrape and bruise combo when he rescued Rose from a fetid creek (two great stories for another time).

He has been hobbling around on crutches, and while he's been good-natured about it, his face has been a constant grimace.  

I'll never forget the time my dad and I were visiting a friend of his, and on the way into the house my dad, who is quite the silly dancer, started doing his super silly dance, and I laughed of course.  Turns out that he had a nail in his foot.  Shut me right up.

Despite Robert's calamity and the two colds and the fact that it has rained every day since my mom arrived, I think it's been a decent visit.  The downstairs is mostly demolished as well, but I think that has something to do with the hired help.

So it's been a little wild here, but we are all alive and underneath all the mucous and blood we're all pretty happy.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Treasure in a Cornfield

Treasure in a Cornfield is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of unearthing a ginormous time capsule that’s almost 160 years old or going on a treasure hunt that only asks you to lift a finger when the page needs to be turned.  Color photographs, muddy adventure, and juicy historical tidbits pack every single page. 
After searching for the perfect steamboat to excavate and discovering the whereabouts of the Arabia, Greg Hawley and his family invest all of their time, money, and energy into bringing the steamboat to the surface of the cornfield that protected and preserved it for many years.

Treasure in a Cornfield is a beauty, more of a portable museum than a book, each page devoted to the treasure found in the Arabia – everything from the bones of a mule to thousands of shoes.  One of the most intriguing discoveries turned out to be nothing but dissolved cotton.  “When he took out his hand, bright blue mud covered his glove.  Dad pushed his hand deeper into the box revealing a rainbow of yellow, red, orange and green mud.” 
Beginning with obtaining permission from the landowners, Norman and Beulah, and two days of precision drilling, each chapter gradually lowers the reader deeper into the sand, silt, and muck that envelops the Arabia.  Nearly every page is filled with diagrams and pictures documenting the recovery, cleaning, and preservation techniques of each item that is found.  Occasionally, Hawley regales the reader with vastly entertaining stories connected to a handful of items, including earlier attempts at unearthing the Arabia and the delightfully scary Frozen Charlotte doll story.

Even after all of the treasure is found and the museum opens, the book doesn’t stop, for at the very end is an inventory of everything found on the Arabia, including remnants of the last meal left uneaten before the steamboat hit a tree snag and disappeared.
Thanks to an incredible family of treasure hunters who dedicated every waking moment to the backbreaking and expensive excavation of the Arabia, each person who visits the Arabia Steamboat Museum or reads Treasure in a Cornfield will have an opportunity to immerse themselves not only in an era long gone, but also experience the wondrous adventure of unearthing that era. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015


My dad and his significant other, Lisa, just dropped by!

Looks like Thanksgiving holiday isn't going to be just lots of lonely demo (if that's what you call knocking down walls with a nerd and two golden retrievers while corny music is blasting).

What a nice surprise!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

it was like a second skin

Robert's cousin, Rachel, just got her learner's permit and was eager to drive any car any time during her recent visit.  So after breakfast, she asked if she could drive home.  I hesitated only briefly, because it was my car, and any time someone asks to drive my car I hear my grandfather's voice telling me to let no one, except family, drive my car.  

The car my grandfather's voice speaks of is my first car, a beloved silver Toyota Matrix that was rear-ended and totaled a couple years ago.  It was a special car because my dad and I saw it in town one day and did everything but drool over it.  It was a special because my grandparents, mom and I all made the journey to the big city and picked it out.  Later, when I made my first payment to my grandparents they told me I could have it in exchange for a college degree.  It was special because it was my dream car, my first car and it was like a second skin for all the years I owned it. 

No one has ever given me any warnings or parameters concerning my current car, however, so I've had to use my own discretion, which may or may not be the wisest discretion to rely on.  

Just a few months ago a member of one of my writing groups came into the library and asked if she could use my car for just a little bit.  Because she had been Robert's high school English teacher and also the rescuer of a very neglected German shepherd, and maybe because she asked me if she could borrow my car the same way she would have asked to borrow a pen I said sure.  She took my car to her house, grabbed her spare keys for her car, which she had locked herself out of, and was back to the library in less than 15 minutes.  

So when Rachel asked to drive home after breakfast, my mouth said sure, but the whole time she was driving my mind kept repeating, my poor turd car my poor turd car.  Apparently Robert's poop jokes about my root beer-colored car have really settled deeply in my brain.  

Rachel did a great job driving, leaving all passengers and the car itself unscathed.  I will probably hand my keys over to the next person who asks to drive it, but only because it's not The First Car.

My matrix, like my grandfather's voice, is a larger-than-life memory that continues to live in me.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Revenge at the Hyacinth House

Dear mom,

Just a few seconds ago I received an email telling me one of my poems is going to be published in an Arkansas literary journal.  

I'm also going to see the cat whisperer, Jackson Galaxy, tonight with a bestie.

It's a good day.

Do you remember your post, What are They Doing in the Hyacinth House?

I have followed these rules: put your music on shuffle. List the first line of the first ten songs that play… And you have a poem.  The poem has to be in English.

Here are the songs that came up:

KB - Lights Go Out
“When the lights go out it's gonna be me and you”

Timbaland – Oh, Timbaland

Laura Marling – Rambling Man
“Oh, naïve little me”

The Dirty River Boys – Lookin’ for the Heart
“Well I’m lookin’ for the heart you took from me”

The Marcels – Heartaches
“Watch out!  Here we go again.”

Josh Turner – Your Man
“Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low”

Jeremih – All About You

Discovery – so insane
“When I saw you at the discotech”

Alanis Morrissette – Excuses
“Why no one will help me?”

Tech N9ne – The Boogieman
“And just when they thought that everything was peachy keen”

And the resulting poem with the lyrics mixed up to make some sense:

Revenge at the Hyacinth House 

Well I’m lookin’ for the heart you took from me
when I saw you at the chocolate discotech.
When the lights go out it’s gonna be me and you;
Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low.
Watch out! Here we go again.
Why no one will help me?
Oh, naïve little me,
And just when they thought 
that everything was peachy keen.

Friday, November 20, 2015

love buddies

Yesterday was the first day of the estate sale, and though it was successful by human standards, there were two golden retrievers upstairs during the entire sale, and they were fairly stressed about all the hubbub.  

When I came home last night I was greeted anxiously by Ella, and because I didn’t want to clunk her in the head with all of my overflowing bags of books I told her to go lay down.  While I was setting my stuff down I sweet talked her but she only responded with a mournful look, her sad mouth still holding the stuffed dragon that she had hoped would catch my attention. 

After dinner I climbed into bed with all of my books, and Robert, who also noticed that Ella was particularly stressed, invited her up on the bed.  He gave her some love, but what she really wanted was some time with me.  I’m not tooting my own horn here.  We are soul mates, so we are at the top of each other’s love buddies list.

I put away every book but one and snuggled up with her.  Usually she is not a cuddler and only tolerates snuggles if she is getting something in return.  Belly scratches are at the top of her list. 

Last night she not only cuddled with me and allowed me to hold a book with one hand, she also stayed with me for some time.  I wouldn’t normally use the word precious to describe my scalawag dog, but last night she was stinkin’ precious.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

the most giant game of legos ever

We have picked out a few things for the house!

We've decided use straight edge Hardie shingles (the one on top).  We've also decided to cover the whole house with them rather than breaking it up in any way.

Shingle-iced housecake!  

While my dreams of using staggered edge Hardie shingles to create an adorable fairy tale pad were dashed after losing a game of rock paper scissors, the team that is designing our house seconded Robert's preference of the straight edge Hardie shingles, especially since we are covering the entire house in them.

We also cannot agree on a paint color.  I want anything but a neutral, but preferably teal or sage green and Robert wants a neutral (and only recently told me he likes blue too).  So we are pretty sure we are going with gray, which is a neutral, yes, but it is my favorite color.  I am still pondering a blue house, however, because it is not a neutral.  Finding an existing pretty blue house is proving to be quite difficult and we really want to see it before we paint the whole house.  

So it’s starting to look like we are going with gray.  Our only concern with the color gray is that we plan on painting most of the interior gray as well.  But if it's the only color we can agree on, and not only that, a color we both adore, we say why not?  We are totally prepared for a gray explosion.

We also decided to go with casement windows and nix the shutters.  We picked out a bathtub for the master bath and all of the hardware as well.  Turns out that Kohler makes it pretty easy. Once you find a style you like, it gives you a list of everything a bathroom could ever hope for, even a toilet paper holder!

Robert has also decided that we are perfectly capable of laying our own radiant floor heating.  He even found an award-winning radiant heating cartographer to map out the plan for us!  There will come a day I wake up fully expecting to cuddle, read and sew the entire day, only to have a wild-eyed Robert ecstatically exclaiming that it's the day to start laying out the tubing.  I know this nerd.  I know how he's going to talk it up like we’re going on a cruise, and instead we will be breaking out the knee pads and playing the most giant game of legos ever.

Ok, that actually doesn't sound so bad.

Robert keeps reminding me that there will be days that the remodel will be happening, and I won't even notice it.  Even though I have texted my face into poles and doors many times, I was a little offended by this.  Surely I'm a little bit more observant than that!

But no, he is merely reassuring me that there are going to be a lot of internal things happening like electricity and plumbing, and it’ll be tough to always see the progress.​

After work yesterday I came home and noticed something exciting out of the corner of my eye.

Our roommate moved out only last weekend and Robert is already dismantling her bathroom. 


Monday, November 16, 2015

figuring out how to test the viscosity of a funk

I am fortunate because I spend most of my days amped up on life.  Working in a library is a dream fulfilled.  I have a whole whopping hour during lunch to write or sew.  I have the means to ferociously pursue tennis.  I live close enough to bike and walk to many places.  I have had close to 30 years of just about the best health a person can ask for.  My family is supportive and charmingly silly.  The list goes on and on.  

Some days, however, I wake up in a funk.  I know this is a natural part of life, but it seems to especially affect artists and those of us who spend a lot of time with our heads in the clouds.    

There are few days when I am unable to generate new content, work on existing material or even do any of the busywork in an embroidery project without knotting the thread.  I think a big part of creating balance in my life is learning how to accept these days for what they are and not trying to put rectangle thoughts into circular ambitions.

Recently I have started noticing that there are two instruments that for the most part, blend into the background or can be ignored with little or no effort.  If I am in a funk, however, I can hear those two instruments in just about any music.  The heat rises to my face.  I start grinding my teeth.  In less than a minute I am riled.  (At this moment my dad is feeling pretty confident one instrument is a four-string banjo and the other, a five-string banjo.  But my dad also thinks it's funny to pick on banjo players.)

I don't know how it is that I am darn near 30 years old and just now figuring out how to test the viscosity of a funk.  A part of me is exasperated, and yet another part of me feels pretty clever.  

Any day that I wake up feeling a bit off I just have to play a little bit of clarinet or flute music. (banjos are fine.)  If I start to feel riled I have a free pass for the day.  If the clarinet or flute music doesn't disturb me, I roll my eyes at my funk and tell it to take its lame ass somewhere else.

Embracing the funk gives me an opportunity to clean house, give the dogs some extra attention, read my many books or take an extra long bath.  And by the next day I am almost always a little bit more tolerant of clarinets and flutes.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

serendipity is the museum of spam

dear mom,

do you remember the silly games we played in our older blogs?  I was organizing my folders this morning and stumbled upon one of those games.  

I filled it out again and came up with different songs.  I did have two artists that showed up again - Bing Crosby and Willie Nelson.  Surprise surprise.   

Now it's your turn!  You put your music on shuffle and each song represents a word.  You must type whatever song comes up, no matter how nonsensical.  No cheating!  No skipping ahead!  

I also took the liberty of adding 'the' or 'a' in parentheses when the song didn't make sense, but that's not necessary.

I have highlighted my favorites.

anger is: the living room – Rudolf Belov

love is: (the) life of the party - Shawn Mendes

sadness is: my soul to keep – Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

joy is: pirate bones – Natasha Bedingfield

power is: (the) Sunday table - Pink Martini

embarrassment is: (the) bowery – Local Natives

weakness is: don’t – Ed Sheeran

silence is: trying so hard not to know – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats   

noise is: memories are made of this – Keely Smith

serendipity is: the museum of spam – Patton Oswalt

philosophy is: fight for you – Mali Music

life is: it’s not supposed to be that way – Willie Nelson

death is: able - Needtobreathe

jealousy is: time to pretend - MGMT  
perfection is: variations – Nicolas Jaar

truth is: (a) lemon tree – Peter, Paul & Mary

beauty is: count your blessings – Bing Crosby  

lust is: (a) robot – Trip Lee  

pain is: (a) glacier – James Vincent McMorrow

cheating is: the professor – Gordon Jenkins

grace is: flashed junk mind – Milky Chance

faith is: crossing over – William Meredith (poetry)

strength is: save it for somebody else – Fink

revenge is: the death of queen Jane - Oscar Issac

surrender is: love – Kelly Rowland  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

his face didn't cloud with animosity

After much reflection I decided to write about something that happened to me the other day.  I have decided to write about this so I will not forget.  This memory is equal parts thorn and beauty.  

I went to a coffee shop to write.  I waited for the barista for several minutes, but no one came to the counter.  I sat down.  Another customer came in and I very crossly wished him luck.  Just then the barista appeared.  I made a snide comment about him finally showing up and turned my attention back to my laptop.  After taking the customer's order he asked me if he could get me anything.  I told him I didn't want any of his coffee.

I was harsh.  I was mean.  And I was an idiot.  I stomped off and made a rude comment about a bell I think.  I wasn't making any sense because I was overcome with negativity.  He told me to have a good day and this made me even more upset.   

I found another coffee shop and couldn't settle down.  I felt terrible.  What if I messed up his day?  What if I made him cry?  

I bought a couple bags of candy and went back to apologize.  

He was at the counter, and after spotting me, his face didn't cloud with animosity.  

I told him I was sorry and held the candy out.  

He asked if he could have a hug instead and came around the counter.  

Everyone has bad days he said and I said that there was no excuse for my behavior.  He gave me a hug and I gave him the candy.  He told me he was going to enjoy it with his son later and asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee.  

I declined, but told him I was sorry again and left.

As I got into my car I knew that he wasn't ever going to cry because he had zero room for negativity.  

I am writing this not because I want to dwell on my actions.  I am writing this to dwell on his actions.  

I am flawed.  I am growing.  I make mistakes.  I was wrong.  To balance this, I am borrowing a bit of his light and giving it to others.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

leaping to touch the leaves on the trees

My bike is in the shop.  Apparently the rear brake has this flaw that makes it grip the tire funny, sometimes even when I'm not even using it.  So that feeling of barely. making. it. to. the. top. of. the. tiny. hill. the last time I rode it had nothing to do with the 6 or so books I was carrying in my panniers. 

I think I'm down with not biking for a couple days.  
Between the core strengthening class I took yesterday coupled with the tennis late last night and early this morning I feel a little beat up.  But I am a little anxious to get my bike back.  I'm missing out on the amazing moments I never see when driving my car.  

The last amazing moment involved a goth girl wearing a hoodie that reached her knees.  Her face was covered in piercings and dark makeup.  She was walking down the sidewalk with a backpack loaded with books, and even with this giant backpack she kept leaping to touch the leaves on the trees.  She didn't even care that I was whizzing by her.  The look on her face was luminous.   

Monday, November 9, 2015

I sat in a hifalutin bathtub today

We are getting so close to the demo phase of remodeling the house!  The estate sale has been scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, which is perfect because I have a whopping four days off during the break (not in a row, but still, four days!).  We are going to eat, sleep and breath demo during those four days, and hopefully get enough knocked out to save some money that can later be put towards built-ins and what may be the biggest bathtub I've ever sat in (I sat in a hifalutin bathtub today btw).  

The surveyor also came out today and Robert has been diligently figuring out the phases of remodeling and learning about plumbing and home automation.  Because we have decided to change the existing location of the staircase we will no longer be able to live in the entire upstairs.  Instead, we will have a bathroom and an additional room for everything else: kitchen, bedroom, office and living room.  So we're downsizing even more and have started clearing out the room that will house our entire lives for the duration of the remodel.  I'm sure I will be able to touch the refrigerator, couch, bed and Robert's computers all at the same time.  

It's going to be a little bleeping crazy, but once the place is done we will be living in a castle.  Or the American craftsman equivalent of a castle.  

When Robert and I weren't testing bathtubs and faucets and packing up the last few books that survived the first downsizing over the weekend, we did find a little time to sneak to the dog park.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

She was carrying a giant bag of paper scraps

The morning's bicycling adventure was a tad too adventurous.  Every gear change jerked my feet from the pedals and a couple times nearly threw me from my bike (time for a check-up apparently).  I was also tired and making dumb mistakes.  The library was empty so I grumbled into my coffee and savagely threw each bite of yogurt into my mouth.

Having eradicated much of the sour bike ride from my system, I shuffled from the break room, ready to work but so very tired.

A couple hours into work one of my favorite volunteers arrived for her shift.  She was carrying a giant bag of paper scraps.

Paper scraps for me.

A few people know I collect paper for my collage projects and instead of throwing anything away they save me their paper trash.  I have quite the paper stash thanks to thoughtful people saving their scraps for me.

So of course this totally turned my day around!  I couldn't wait to take a break so I could peruse the goods and generate new ideas.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

enough sun for everyone

What we have here is a Nugget Sandwich Walk.

Even though the trees are losing their splendor and the days are shorter, there is still sunshine to soak up and pals to share the rays with.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Interpretations III

Interpretations III books just came out and it is bursting with lots of awesome art and writing, including two of my poems!  I will let you know when the books become available for purchase. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bad treadmill!

Dear treadmill,

What scary thing did you do to warrant timeout?