Thursday, October 8, 2015

Raising An Only - When Your Kid Is Not Like You

When you have more than one kid, most times, you get one like you, and one like the kid's other parent.  My Kid is like her dad - academically smart, can name any song from any era within the first three notes, tightwad with their money (oh, sweet Jesus, tightwads, both of them).  It kind of leaves me out in the dust because I am none of these.

Growing up, my life was made up of basketball, volleyball and doing my best to make it through high school with enough of a grade point average to get me into some small, unknown college.

My kid, on the other hand, is into anything that involves a music instrument, music program and is attending college classes at a real college at the age of sixteen.  Taking advanced English, calculus and music classes.

In other words, I have no idea how they switched her at birth when she never left the hospital room I was in.  I did fall asleep for half an hour.  Maybe they did it then.

That's gotta be it.

Because I don't relate to this kid one iota.

When she was younger and much more influential, I signed her up for soccer, basketball and ski lessons.  She snapped on skis at age three and we let her go from the top of the hill (I wish I could say I'm kidding, but, really, that's sorta how it happened.  Dad was right with her, though, so you don't have to go calling CPS.).  At five she was playing basketball AND soccer and, by eight, she was playing both on the same day.  Talk about an over achiever (her or me, that could have gone either way).  She loved it at the time because it was what she knew.  She was with friends and getting more exercises than she knew what to do with.  It was all a game (literally).

This was all before she got her hands on a clarinet in fourth grade.

By sixth grade, the sports were dropping like flies.

Sixth grade, she dropped select basketball.

Seventh grade, she decided she was not going to play select soccer.  

Seventh grade brought in an alto saxophone.

Eighth grade us parental units had to tell the coach she wasn't going to sign up for middle school soccer because The Teenager was too scared too (she had good reason; I'm still scared to see that lady).

By ninth grade The Kid had accumulated a saxophone, flute, oboe, trumpet and trombone and was spending her summer in music camps and music classes, and dropped basketball.

Today, a Junior in High School, she plays three instruments for her high school, in three programs, is in three adult music programs, as well as a junior orchestra (on top of being a 4.0 student at High School and taking three college classes at the local college.

In the interim, in 2014, the Seattle Seahawks, our state football team, made it to the Super Bowl.  They were playing the Denver Broncos and kicking some serious Bronco ass.  Friends and family were all at the house and we weren't exactly quiet and we yelled them on.  In the third quarter The Teenager came out of her room.

"Why are you guys yelling?" she asked.

"The Hawks are kicking Denver's butt," one of us said to her.

"Are they in the Super Bowl or something?"

What the HELL, I thought.  Who is this kid to not even know this?  I mean, we have been wearing our Hawks shirt every day for weeks, there are "12" flags on every house and car and pet in the state.  The news, radio, Internet, reader boards, supermarket, hardware store, mall, was plastered with information about the season.  People were getting Super Bowl XLVIII tattoos already.

And my kid asks "are they in the Super Bowl or something?"

But this was not her bent.

It was mine.

Her bent is music, something I know nothing about.  I can finally get the right saxophone reeds (alto, not baritone, 3.5 not 3) and know the difference between a hard or medium, wood or plastic oboe reeds.  I know the big case is the sax, the smaller one is the oboe and the tiny long one is the flute.  I don't know what the other two under her bed are, though, because she collects instruments like I collect coats.

 I support her in whatever she does, including paying more for an oboe than I would have for her first car.  I attend all the concerts.  I've gone to marching band competitions in the pouring down rain and tried to "get" the movements. I've paid for music camps rather than update my kitchen because it's important to her to get better at her music (although now that she can get a job, I need a new kitchen, dammit).

I even embraced the same question when the Hawks made the Super Bowl in 2015: "What are you guys watching?"  

This is her bent, not mine.  I've always said I didn't give birth to her thinking I would get to keep her.  I also know I get my life to live, she gets hers.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Day In The Life - Adding to the Menagerie

We have a dog.  We have a cat.  We have chickens, ducks, roosters, geese.  We have cockatiels.

I think somewhere we still have a lizard.

Which means we need another pet.

Saywhat?

Spoiler alert:  Yes, we got another dog - A puppy.


So life is starting over with all the training (both the puppy and the humans) and the awake-ness and the activity (read: hyper) and the exhaustion.

To back this train up, a little of the history.  The Teenager has been wanting a bigger dog for years.  She never bonded with our second schnauzer after we lost the first one during a routine surgery at the vet.  And she wanted something bigger; something she could take hiking (did I mention she doesn't hike all that much???).  When the schnauzer turned three we did start thinking about another dog, so this was fine.

She decided on an Australian Shepherd, standard size.  Great.  Now to find a breeder in Washington State and bring home a puppy.

Someone out there is laughing really hard because I can hear you.

It wasn't this simple.

Aussies aren't as easy to come by as we thought.  Plus they are damn expensive.

Fast forward TWO YEARS.  The Teenager had inquired about a batch in Idaho in February of 2015.  They were all spoken for, but she breeder would contact us when she had a litter.

Conversation forgotten.

Until the end of July when I get a frantic, all caps text from my kid: I GOT A PUPPY!!!!!!

Pick my frantic ass off the floor, because WHAT? Like, right now, in the car?  Don't we need to have a discussion about this?

It wasn't that bad - the breeder had just let my daughter know a litter had been born.

Now fast forward through the longest eight weeks of my daughter's life as she waited to bring the ball of fluff home.

She (the puppy, not the Teenager) was a Red Tri Australian Shepherd.

And she was in Idaho.

We are a wee bit east of Seattle, Washington.

To me, Idaho is just next to Spokane, a six hour drive.

Nope, not the breeder.  The breeder is at the bottom middle of Idaho.

An ELEVEN hour drive.

On a weekend.  See, school had started and we only had two days in which to make this trip (having the little gal shipped was not an option, in The Teenager's World).


So we were left with three options:

1. Drive both ways, a 22 hour trip, including food, gas, and hotels
2. Fly one way, rent a car, drive two hours to breeder then drive eleven hours, including food, gas, rental, possibly hotel.
3. Fly both ways, renting a car, driving two hour each way from airport to the breeder, including a rental car, some gas, some food.

We started out with option Number Two.  Flying with a puppy seemed scarier than being in a car with it for eleven hours.  Plus there was the whole crate thing and it was going to be around $200 more than then other two options.

By the time we landed in Boise, we opted for Number Three.

All in all, we left the house Saturday at 5:00 am, caught a 7:00 am flight, picked the puppy up at noon and were back on a plane in Boise at 5:20, landing in Seattle at 5:50 pm (totally forgetting there is an hour time difference).

IN ONE DAY.

This puppy better have gold teeth.

Anyway, she's been here for a week and we are all adjusting (some more than others).  Follow along on our Adventures of Autumn.

Here's Autumn.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Life Without A Smartphone - 9 Reasons Why

I have had a portable phone since way back in the day (like, 1996).  Back then they were not called cell phones, they were called transportables.  It was the size of two bricks and weighed just about as much.  It had a spiral cord that attached the mouthpiece to the unit, almost like a home phone.  It was heavy, it was cumbersome, but, dang that thing got great reception!

When I was pregnant in 1998, we got ourselves a smaller phone for the Big Day.  It lost some of it's signal oomph, but it was smaller and more convenient.  I'm not sure when, maybe 2001, we got ourselves the flip phone.  Now were were living it up and we looked damn cool doing it.  Flipping it open to talk to anyone at anytime.  Heck, sometimes the Hubs and I would talk to each other - in the same store - "I thought you were staying in electrical".  "No, I moved to plumbing to get a washer for the faucet."  "Well, I'm in gardening, so meet me in flooring when you're done."  Stuff like that.

Life changed when we implemented texting into the program.  Now I didn't have to talk - I could write.  "Bring milk", "Running late", "Traffic sucks".  Short, sweet and to the point because I could type a character a minute with the numerical keypad doo-hickey.  Anything more intelligent would require a qwerty board.

So we did that (to get more intelligent).  The Hubs still has his; mine got "lost" (meaning it fell behind the crack in the back seat of  the car) for a month until I had to buy a new one with qwerty and a touch screen.  (Murphy's Law - found the old phone a week after the purchase).  Still no data package.  Still talk and text.  Still a crappy phone camera.  No wifi.  Totally basic.

And I hope the thing lasts FOREVER because I don't want a smartphone.

Say what?

In 2015?  Nope.

In this age of information?  All the answers are at your fingertips.  You can be humming a song in your head, wonder who the original artist is, ask Siri, and have the answer in seconds.

And I don't want any part of it.

Here's some reason I'm hoping to stay off this Transportable Information Highway

  • It's a trap.  Once I get locked in at $30 a month, I am locked in forever.  There's no going back to the old-style phone.
  • It's going to cost an extra $30 a month.  Times two (myself and the Hubs) = $720 MORE than what I pay right now.  FOREVER.
  • I don't want my memory stuck on a phone.  I don't want to rely on Siri or all access Google to answer every one of my questions.  I want to have to remember stuff.
  • I am not that important.  I don't need to know the moment I get an email,  Or someone updates their Facebook status.  Or someone replies to my blog.
  • I don't want to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  My boss knows I turn my phone off and I'm unavailable except for working hours.  IF there's an issue, call the house (in ten years, there's been ONE).
  • I don't want all my photos in a phone that I never download or print.  Yes, its super easy to snap a photo of my kid at a concert, but then what?
  • I don't want ALL my data accessible.  From photos to emails to texts to updates to bank statements to open passwords on all my sites.  What happens when I leave my phone at Dennys? (Not that that's never happened, but it did - and I didn't have to worry about any of that.)
  • I don't want to have to upgrade every six months to get the latest and greatest and updated.  What I have now will work as well in three years.  And I don't have to worry about programs becoming obsolete.
  • In line with updating every six seconds, I don't want to have to learn a whole new operating system, or change files, or apps, or whatever else is on those things.  Or wonder Apple or Droid (or wonder if that is even a thing?).

Bottom line:  I don't want to get caught in the trap. I mean, where do we go from here?  From a land of constantly being connected, of having everything at our fingertips, yet still not feeling in control of our lives.  Sometimes I watch parents volunteering at their kid's school, out at recess, and the parents are doing nothing but checking their phones.  For what?  

Be in the moment.

 I, personally, don't want to be that parent/wife/person.  I know I would be, so I don't even want to go there.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Get Out Of My Bank Statement - And Other Jealous Stuff

Recently we were at a State Park and we spotted a bear.  Actually two other guys spotted the bear, and we spotted them spotting the bear.  So when we pulled over to see what they were looking at, they told us it was a bear.  I yanked that car over to the shoulder and my husband and daughter grabbed their cameras.

To set the "camera" stage, these aren't your typical point and shoot cameras.  Both my husband and myself are professional photographers.  Because of this, the Teenager has had access to all our equipment since the beginning of time - well, her time.

She got her first big camera, a Nikon D300 as a fluke.  Well, sort of.  It was actually a mistake that she would end up owing her own rather than borrowing ours.  See, The Hubs has sort of an eBay/Craigslist addiction.  He's been off-and-on banned for years.  When we knew we needed to upgrade from a D70 to a second D300, he was on the off-banned list for a short while (he got himself back on right quick).

He "accidentally" bid on two used D300 cameras (I am using the word accidentally sooooo loosely, here), low balling the price on eBay.  Just as we were headed out the door to drive to pick up a D300 in a town an hour away.  As we walked out the door, he told me the "dilemma".

Short story, long.  I retracted his bids, but somehow they didn't retract.

We ended up with three used Nikon D300 cameras.

Mind you, they were a hell of a deal, but still 3 big cameras is one too many.

So we gifted one to the Teenager for Christmas and she uses it daily for her Yearbook class at school.

Okay, back to the bear.

The Teenager pulled out her camera with a lens on it.  When I say lens, think football game sidelines lens.  The really long ones.  She photographs all the sports games at her high school (because the adviser knows she has the equipment) so she knows how to use this thing.  Well, in order to see a bear in the bushes up a hill, you need this lens.

So she's happily photographing away.

Other people are stopping now and looking for the bear.  By this time the Teenager, the Hubs and I are in different spots on the side of the road.  But I wasn't far enough away from my Teenager NOT to hear a woman say to her two little kids:

"Some day when we win the lottery, we can have a big camera like that one and we can take really good pictures.  For right now I'll just use my cell phone."

The Teenager did a fantastic job of keeping her mouth shut.

Her mother, me, not so good.  As the mother walked past me I said, as I pointed to her brand new Samsung 6 Galaxy Edge and held up my old flip phone, "One year of only paying for this, instead of that new phone and the data package, and you can afford a nice camera like that."

Yes, I should have kept my mouth shut.  I fell into her trap.

But really?

I could have said, truthfully, to this young mother, "Her great uncle had to die so she could get that lens."  Because the lens was inherited from an uncle who traveled extensively, who died at age 53.

I could have pointed to the Starbucks cup in her hand and said, "Lay off those for a year and you'll save some cash."

I could have pointed to her Lexus and said, "Buy a Camry instead of a Lexus and you can afford a big camera."

I could have gone so many directions.

But why did she even need to splay her jealousy in the first place?  At my kid.  In front of her kids.

She doesn't know the life I lead any more than I know hers.  She doesn't know everything blooming thing we purchase is used (including the cameras and all the lenses we own).  She doesn't know we eat out a total of three times a year to save money.  She doesn't know my car is 11 years old and has 175,000 miles on it and I'll be damned if I'm going to replace it unless it stops moving forward.

We were two strangers looking for a bear in the bushes.

Get out of my bank statement.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Day in The Life - The Day The Well Ran Dry

As we come up to the third anniversary of this occurrence, I realize just what an impact it had on us.  I wrote is originally in September of 2013.


I stood in the shower this morning long after the hair was shampooed and conditioned and the body wash was washed off.  I just let the water cascade off me and down the drain. It was a heady moment.

Sound mundane?  Probably to most people.  And this year, yes, a little mundane.

Last year?  Not so much.

Because it wasn't happening.  We had no running water in our house one year ago today (actually one year and two days, but who's counting?  Me obviously).

Literally, the river induced aquifer that supplies our abode with that glorious running water had failed to flow.  Dried up.  Smashed by (literally) tons of semi delivered rock to shore up our dike.  The river stopped running through it.

For those that have never experienced the lack of water, it sucks.  Think of all the times you just swivel the handle on the facet and water comes out.  To wash your hands after you've been gardening, to wash the carrots you've just gardened, to rinse off the dish the carrots cooked in and then to pour yourself an ice cold cup of water to wash it all down with.  Nothing.  Faucet handle still swivels, but nothing comes out.

That was our dilemma.

For six weeks.

Let me repeat - for six weeks we had no running water.

It sucked.

The river in the back yard was low, but we figured, this is Washington, it'll rain soon.  Why spend thousands of dollars just so it could rain the next day.  It had to rain soon.  It was Washington.

82 days and no measurable rain.

What the river usually looks like when it's not all dried up.


Here's some things you learn when you have no water (besides the fact that it sucks).
  • No matter how long the faucet hasn't worked, you still turn it on automatically.
  • You can wear jeans more than one time and not wash them.
  • Which leads me too...You know where all the local laundromats are and how to work the machines.
  • The dishes in the dishwasher stink when it hasn't been run in three weeks.
  • And there's no way to wash those dishes that stink to high heaven.
  • The $92 a month you've spent on your gym membership that you used to use once a month, comes in handy when they have a shower.
  • It is nice to have lots of 5 gallon buckets to fill with enough water to flush the toilet four times a day.
  • Keep at least two buckets covered for clean drinking water.
  • Having an outhouse on the farm is a God-send, spiders and all.
  • Bathing in an ice cold river in the back yard is really freaking cold in late September.
  • You spend more time on the weather channel and weather websites than social media sites.
  • You are in a constant state of pissed-off-ed-ness from the stress of trying to figure it all out.
  • And finally...You happily spend thousands of dollars to get a new well dug.

Because being without water sucks.

It led to some changes in our lives, though.

One.  I'm much more empathetic to the homeless.  Smelling yourself after two days without a shower is awful.  Not being able to stuff your t-shirt in the washing machine along with the bath towel you just used, really limits your outlook on life.

Two.  We'd never looked at moving before, let alone to a foreign country.  We booked ourselves on a trip to the Cook Islands because of a teaching job opportunity.  Opened up a world we didn't know existed.

Three.  Spend the money on Day 5 to fix the problem.


Follow up, three years later:  The water level went to unprecedented levels again in 2015.  This time they got even lower.  The neighbors on either side of us had their wells run dry.  It led to the purchase of a 1500 gallon water tank (read about that one here:  The Water Tank).  We do what we can to be prepared and this whole (*^%#@%) experience taught us things to do. While it sucked (did I mention it sucked?), it did make it so the well is now deep enough that  the river could go even lower.  

We also decided not to move (well, today anyway; ask me tomorrow and it might be a different answer).  We did go to the South Pacific - we loved it.  But in the end, I turned down the job.  It's not the right time in our lives, what with a teenager and all getting ready to head to college.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Day In The Life - Harvesting For The First Time

We had a friend's kids come over last night to "forage through the garden" (meaning pick all the stuff I grew because I hate that part - go figure, I hate harvesting).  I knew we were in trouble when they said "WE get to pick it?"

"Yes. I'm lazy," was my answer.

They didn't word it like "are you kidding, that's beneath us".  It was worded like "I've never heard of such a thing".  I didn't realize these kids had never done anything like this  Even though we are an hour from Seattle, "living in the sticks" people say (with loving abandon) I forgot that there were "city areas" around here.  Housing developments that didn't allow for a garden, covenants that don't allow for backyard poultry, front doors that have to be painted within guidelines (say what?).

This was one of those families.

Top quotes of the evening:

  • Is that corn?
  • Dirt.  Am I standing in dirt?
  • What's an outhouse?
  • Does the outhouse work? 
  • Do I take the stringy stuff off the corn?
  • You can eat a rooster?
  • Is this poop on my shoe?

They ranged from age seven to a high school senior.  I loved every minute of having them here, even though it seems like I am picking on them.  I loved showing them how to pick the corn and shuck it, and how to hunt for cucumbers, and which onions were ready.  It got me to thinking:

When did that happen?

While we were eating dinner that evening, my husband, who grew up in the same town we live in, said "I don't remember anyone who has never picked their own vegetables."  I argued (naturally) "what about the kids who lived in town?"

"They had family who lived on a farm somewhere.  I've never known anyone whose never picked
vegetables before."

I realized he was right.  (Let's keep this between ourselves, shall we?)  Growing up, almost everyone had a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, blood-relation who had a farm.  We spent summers "at Grandmas" bucking hay, picking berries, shelling peas, getting the cows in to milk.

In the same way city people know how to cross the street and catch a cab and ride a subway, and live in the bubble that everyone-knows-how-to-do-this, I live in a different kind of bubble.  I think everyone has a three year old that knows how to milk a goat, a ten year old who knows how to drive a tractor, a sixteen year old who drives to the neighboring town to bring home baby geese.

That's not reality.  And I realized it yesterday.

It's a different reality.

I loved having the kids here last night, watching their eyes light up as they pulled up an onion, or went scrounging for a cucumber or shucking corn.  I just wish I could gather all the kids in the world and have them experience the same thing.

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A Day in The Life - Painting The Barn - Part 2

When we last met, the barn was still a funky shade of mauve.  In case you've forgotten, go here to catch up and then come back:  A Day In The Life - Painting The Barn.  I didn't know it would only be a Part 1 or I would have labeled it as such.

Who knew we would have gotten the damn thing finished before one of us died?

Well, I gave the ending away.  So much for the suspense.

Okay, to continue, everyone we asked (friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store that won't talk to us now) hinted that it should be darker.



So we went back to Sherwin Williams to find our buddy Anthony.  As luck would have it (at least for Anthony) he wasn't in.  Jeff was.  Jeff was a wee bit unsure about how to handle us and our buckets of paint (we left the primer at home).

Until he saw the photo.

Then Jeff was all about helping us.  He didn't want a mauve barn in his county any more than we did.  He said he would try (we gave him our "pipe dream" paint color and said "anything close to this").

Jeff called the next day and my Teenager answered.  "It's ready," he said, "I had to add two and a half gallons of dark and had to mix it in new buckets.  It's going to cost $60"

Sixty bucks - here's a check!

We drove in that day with high hopes/low hopes/no hopes/abject curiosity.

It was definitely darker.  And browner.  I didn't give a rat's ass.  It wasn't mauve.  Brownish red it was going to be.


Cue the boom lift.  Wait, what?

Yup.  There was no way in hell I was going to paint the thing on ladders, and scaffolding is so very inconvenient.  We rented a boom lift in 2004 when we did some work on the house and we were renting one now.

I didn't sleep the entire night before it came.

I was sure I was going to push the thing through the east wall of the barn.  Wait, the east wall of the barn is the corral.  How am I even going to get the thing through the corral?  What happens if I get stuck 28 feet up when The Hubs is at work?  The paint gun sucks.  How am I going to get a bucket of paint up there along with me and the spray gun?  Happily, so nothing/no one falls out?

Regardless of my lack of sleep, at 7:15 in the morning The Unit arrived.  It was brand fricking spanking new.  And I was going to get paint all over it!

Well, after I pressure washed the barn.

I know, I know, I'm breaking, like, 19 painting rules here, pressure washing then painting in the same 36 hours.

Here's the deal.  We got the thing at 7:15 on a Wednesday morning.  Which meant I had until 7:15 the next Wednesday morning to complete the entire barn.

It was going to be 95 degrees (in Washington State?) that day.  The water would dry.  I spent all of Wednesday pressure washing the barn, getting to know my new love, The Unit, all that jazz.

Thursday, The Guy I Let Live With Me had to go to work.  Wait, what?  I get The Unit all to myself?

I did and I didn't kill anyone or the machine or the sprayer.

The paint sprayer.  In hindsight, I should have dropped that thing from 28 feet so I could buy one that wasn't so fussy.  But we got into a relationship and, there was some love, lots more hate, and a barn load of tolerance.  From both of us.  But I still should have stepped out of the relationship during the honeymoon and smashed the thing all to sucky-paint-sprayer-hell.

See, pink primer!
I had a pretty good plan, utilizing the weather and all.  I would wake up at 5:30, prime/paint the side that was in the sun.  Then I would drive it around and paint/prime the side in the shade.  By this time it would be about 2:00. Three times I went out around 8:00 and worked until I couldn't see anymore.

I really had to pace myself because the paint sprayer would have me homicidal.  On two occassions it would vibrate the paint-holder-cup off, and the cup, full of paint, would go splashing to the ground.  Or the roof of the wing.  That was fun. Plus The Unit did not like going over the old silo concrete, and would get all pissy-beepy if you didn't lower it and set it straight.  4x4 my ass.  That thing pissy-beeped at me at least five times.

By Tuesday night, I was ready for the relationship with The Unit to end.  We both had our thrills, saw the sights and were ready to see other people.

Besides, I was done painting.

It was an exhausting week.  One of the hottest on record in Washington State.  There was never any dinner, lovingly cooked by anyone in the house.  We did set aside one day where we saw a 4:30 movie and went out for hamburgers.

The good news about only having the lift for a week:  I HAD to get it done.  I  had a deadline.  I couldn't decide, "oh, I don't feel like doing the tippy top today, let's wait until March".  Nope.  Doing it now.



As you can see, I kind of had an awesome view.

Needless to say, the barn is painted.  It will never again be painted in my lifetime.  What's done is done.  Next.

By the way:  28 feet.  It was 28 feet from the top of that roof, the the ground.  I know; I measured.

Oh, and more BTW:  Sherwin Williams only charged us $22.  So, figure we spent $180+/- on paint (neither one of us can remember if it was $20 or $30 for a 5 gallon bucket), $22 on the color change and $1400 on The Unit.  We came out putting $1602.00 into a paint job on a 50x50x28H building.  Not bad.  I've already booked the cruise with the money I would have spent on professional painters.

As you can see, it looks AWESOME!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Raising An Only - When Your Kid Goes Vegan

If there ever was a case to have dinners with your family every blooming night, this is it.

We had gotten out of the habit at the beginning of summer.  It was hot; hotter than us Puget Sounders are used too, we were crazy busy with a plethora of projects - the house, the barn, the garden, the fencing and any other excuse you can think of.  We just stopped having dinner together - let alone cooking dinner.  We were all grazing and picking and getting by.  It took me awhile, but I noticed our daughter's eating habits had changed.   It was really seeped in when my mother called and said "why didn't you tell us?"

"Um, just figured it out in the last ten minutes, mom," because we are loser parents.

There was no announcement when our sixteen year old daughter decided she was vegan.  There was no tossing of everything meat, dairy, most of the stuff in our cupboards.  It happened like this:

Me, standing at the kitchen sink: "You don't eat meat anymore do you?"

Her, attitudey, defensive and ready for a fight: "No."

Then she took the container of blueberries and went to her room.

Now this is a kid who has been raised fairly independently.  In today's world you could call it tossed-out-on-her-ear (but she's not).  She went to her first week long overnight camp at the age of seven.  She's been to more sports and music camps away from home than any kid I know - often times knowing NOBODY.  She's done her own laundry since she was eight.  She's had to carry her own library books out of the library since she could walk. At two, she sat on the steps at the front door struggling to put her own shoe on, spewing "I do it my-THELF" to anyone daring to offer assistance.

But this whole, "I'm vegan and I don't eat meat or dairy anymore" threw me for a loop.

I'm all for trying different things and making sure you have access to your own beliefs.  I'm all for stepping out of the box your parents have created for you.  I'm all for doing whatever you think will make the world a better place.  Hey, have at it.

I'm just not going to change the way I do things.

Yes, you read that right.  I'm not going to give up chicken teriyaki just because you did.  Or my glass of Instant Breakfast in milk.  Or oatmeal cookies that have eggs and processed sugar in them.

Luckily she's been living with us long enough to know this was the case - and she wasn't asking us too.  In fact, she told me NOT to go out of my way and make dinners especially for her.

But the kid's gotta eat.

We've always had fruit around the house.  The Hubs just made sure there was more.  She started buying her own coconut and almond milk, sneaking off to the grocery store after work and coming home with weird crap vegan food.  That was fine, but I felt a little bit parental that she shouldn't be spending all her work money on food.  So I took her to Trader Joe's.  Since she was pretty new into this experiment, she wasn't even going to go in.

This was when I figured she hadn't done all her due-diligence.

Mom stepped in.

Unfortunately, and took over, but more on that later (or not, we could just forget about that part).

I came home and started a google search.  Seriously, what did we do before google was a verb?  I guess go to the library and pray someone had written a book because I had no one I could call in my meat-eating friends list.

I found some websites to be a lifesaver.  I also started paying attention to what I was cooking (wait, I was cooking?) and how to make it work so The Child could have dinner with us.  Now we have some ideas under our belt.  And I don't have to cook a whole different meal - oh, wait, wasn't going too, and she doesn't expect me too.

Stir fry - I make the rice and the veggies and do the meat in a different pan.

Cowboy caviar - beans, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes and whatever else Pinterest tells me to put in there.

Salsa - lots of salsa.  The chips we get seem to be on the okay list.

Seven layer dip - refried beans, tomatoes, olives, green chilies, salsa (see?) and chips.  Cheese and sour cream for The Hubs and I are added later.  Does that only make it a five layer dip?

Cereal - almost as much as salsa.  She just uses her almond milk.

Fruit - coming out our ears

Anything that grows in the garden- go graze, I've been weeding it since March, might as well harvest some of it while you are at it.

Pasta - with red spaghetti sauce and penne pasta.

That's pretty much all I've come up with at this point (it's also summer and I've cooked a total of ten times in three months).  Oh, the part about me taking over?  I knew you'd come back around to that.  Last night when I was at Winco, I texted her telling her where I was.  I was sorta hoping she was still at band camp and too busy to answer my text but Lady Luck was out having a margarita somewhere.
Fourteen texts later.

All out of order and random and me kind of done with the day (did I mention that I don't do the grocery shopping in the house - she just had eaten of my mixed nuts and I needed to replenish and Winco is the cheapest place to do that).

"The pepper ones"  Pepper what? Almonds or cashews?  We are still talking nuts, right?

"Don't read ingredients; just go with anything that says vegan".  (Which was NOTHING)

"The Cookie Dough stuff."  Which apparently was some sort of ice cream.

"I don't need anything fake meat, or yogurt"  Got the meat text; not the yogurt one.

And on and on it went.

Note:  The dairy-free cheese is apparently not vegan enough.  Just in case you are in the same boat.

I was quickly fired from vegan shopping.

Yes, I'm bitching.  Yes, I should lay off.  No, I am not judging ANYONE choosing to eat vegan.  This is simply my experience into this whole new foray.  Will it last?  Who knows?  Not my call.  Her best friend, when we were ordering out at a restaurant, and The Teenager was hemming and hawing and googeling, looks at me and says "You're the best mom ever for doing this."

Which I asked her repeat because my kid says HER (the friend's) mom is the best mom ever.

She wouldn't repeat it.  But I had my recording device ready in case she did.

Some of the sites that have been lifesavers.  Or have at least been informative:

Cooking With Trader Joe's   

Urban Taste Bud - Restaurant listings

Happy Cow

All Recipes  (1,395 recipes later....)

I'm sure there's more.  If you know of others, or staples to add to the dinner table, let me know!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

What 24 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me

Before you being reading, know this:  If you are expecting a feel-good typical-standard advice on how to make YOUR marriage last as long as mine (and my husband's, I guess) then STOP READING.  Are you kidding me, I don't have that kind of advice.  I have my own knowledge, my own set of standards and rules (rules, that's funny).

Okay.  You're still here.  To establish my degree of yes-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about, I was married in 1991 at the age of 21 (hey, I was legal drinking age).  My guy was (and, I guess, still is) nine years older than me.  That sort of balanced out the maturity level (although I've slipped a tad).  Through those 24 years we have faced infertility, financial troubles, loss of a business, lawsuits, family crap (loads and loads of that stuff) and then the birth of one child who is now a teenager.  (Good God, and I'm still here?!).  This is MY take on what it took to make it this far and stay married.

1.  Get in the biggest fight to date on a Friday afternoon.  Seriously.  Nothings open on Saturday.  No divorce attorneys work on Saturdays, the courthouse and their divorce filings aren't open on Saturday, most apartment managers aren't answering calls on Saturdays.  It's really hard to make any permanent decisions on a weekend.  It really does give you a chance to cool down.

2.  Ask for power tools, appliances, furniture and vehicles for your birthday, Mothers Day, Valentines Day, Christmas, Cino de Mayo, whatever.  That way if you do end up toward the divorce path, you will have gotten all these "gifts" that can start your life over.  I was smart enough to ask for a cordless screwdriver, table saw, chop saw, circular saw, socket set and loaded tool box for every holiday for the first five years of our marriage.  I knew he'd never divorce me because I had all the tools.  I also brought the only good stereo into the marriage which would leave with me if he pissed me off.

Not the cheap Flip Flop - the more expensive
$6.47 Chateau St Michelle because it was
Mother's Day.
3.  Alcohol - or the Gym.  There are some days (okay, fine, most days) that the root of whatever issue I'm pissed off at him about, has nothing to do with him, but my own stress level.   Sometimes a beer or a glass of wine or a trip to the gym (before the alcohol!) is all it takes to loosen me up, get the monkey-stress off my back and make me into a human being again.  The $20 I spend a month on the gym is a hell of a lot cheaper than an attorney.  I drink cheap Flip Flop wine and expensive Corona beer, but both are cheaper than a therapist.  Just don't drink the entire bottle of Flip Flop or the case of Corona.  That leads to it's own set of problems.

4.  Make sure you each have your own ipod.  In all transparency here, sometimes I put in the earbuds to my ipod Shuffle and crank that sucker up so I can't hear anything The Guy I Let Live With Me has to say.  $50 for the Shuffle and a $50 iTunes card are cheaper than an apartment deposit.

5.  You don't have to be in each other's pocket.  I have no problem going to one of the high school girls basketball games without The Guy I Let Live With Me .  Just because he doesn't want to go, doesn't mean I need to stay at home and sulk and be ticked off.  I paid for the Season's Pass, I'm gonna use it.  He goes off and does stuff with his brother that I don't want anything to do with.  If you don't do your own thing on occasion (without the snarky fine-be-that-way attitude) you are going to end up bitter.  Both our parents have been married 45 and 55 years (that's like a hundred years, cumulative - wow).

6.  Know you are going to have to do stuff you don't like.  Just do it.  Know you aren't going to like it all the time.  I seem to be the only one in the family who notices you can't fit a string cheese wrapper in the remarkably full garbage can.  This sends me over the edge at least twice a month.  The other eight times a month, I just take it out and realize that I'm just that much smarter than everyone else in the family that I can recognize the sign of a full garbage can.  The Guy I Let Live With Me has this talent in determining when it's time to go to the dump.  Me, I just buy a new garbage can.  Know your talents.

7.  Give in.  I suck at this one so I can't go into too much detail, but I do know that we will end up with grey cabinets in the kitchen because The Guy I Let Live With Me likes them.  Me, I love the color of wood.  The problem is, I like ALL the wood; dark, light, maple, espresso, birch...  It will take me thirty years to pick one and I will change my mind every seven minutes.  I also love the shaker look.  I have yet to find a wood grain and stain that is consistent throughout.  Every time we go to the cabinet manufacturers, we find the shaker and The Guy I Let Live With Me points out that the stile on this cabinet is a different color than that one.  Uggg.  This doesn't happen with grey.  We're getting grey just so I don't have to hear about it for the rest of my life.

8.  Demand when you need too.  Two things off the top of my head; 1) He is not allowed to TOUCH my garden.  Not plant it or weed it (he can harvest it - ironically, I hate that part).  2.  He is not allowed to paint ANYTHING.  The deck needs a fresh coat of paint, I'm all over it.  He so much as lifts a paint brush, even to hand to me, and he will have his intestines ripped through his throat.  That's a wee bit of an exaggeration.   Remember that part about 'know your strength'.  He knows I can run faster.  And hold a grudge longer.  

9.  Go to bed pissed.  Hell, some days I wouldn't get any sleep at all if I lived by that "don't go to bed mad" rule (and that would make me even more intolerable).  Sleep on the couch.  Make him sleep on the couch.  Whatever.  The next morning leads to a whole different day and a whole different mindset.

There are some days you won't want to stay married.  The single life is not just whispering sweet nothings in your ear, it has a bullhorn.  There is nothing your darling spouse can do to make you want to stay and you start checking out the rates of apartments near your workplace.  Having been there more than once (sometimes in the same day), it can be pushed through.  With faith, love, Jack Daniels and a walk around the block.  Alone.

No News Is Good News

I'll admit it.  I was an addict.  Not drugs or drink or the hokey pokey, but the news channels.  I would wake up in the morning, click that sucker on and flip through every channel, local and national and international, to feed the beast.  I would watch it over and over and over until I could memorize the content.

I come by this naturally.  My grandma had CNN on, at full volume, all day, every day.

I can remember being a kid and it would come on at 5:00 and last until 6:00.  Then it was over and Wheel of Fortune was on.  Now I see the evening news programs at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 and 11:00 on one of our local channels.

I was informed, depressed and downright pissed off most days.  Everyone, everywhere, at all times were out to get us and either make it cost more, do less, lead better, make me younger (or older), and you were effectively screwed anyway it turned.  

Until one year ago I quit.  Cold Turkey.  Spring Break of 2014 I was home for a week and the kid had gone off to a foreign country on a mission trip and I was flipping through every news channel, making sure a plane didn't crash between Washington State and Haiti.  It was just the Hubs and myself that that huge rectangle on the wall to fill the void.  The Saturday break started, I turned off Fox News.

I haven't turned it on since.

I take that sort of back.  I watched the local news in September when one of our local high schools fell victim to the school shooting trend.  Being in education, I wanted to glean any information that could prevent something like that from happening in our school.  Or at least knowing the signs.  Or the way to react to minimize the damage.

Naturally, I made it all about me.

You ever watch the local news about something that happened seven countries away, and the anchors automatically, somehow, make it relevant to the local area?  "Tulips on the Netherlands are showing more signs of red than yellow."  "Here in Washington, we are seeing tulips that have yellow stripes outpacing pink stripes."

Mkay.

I lasted about four minutes watching that story.  I didn't learn anything I needed to know.  I learned what they thought I needed to know, but the 30 second sound bite was lacking.

I should know this already.  Many, many times I have been in the mist of things that make headlines and they are nothing like what appears in the news.

Got you wondering now, don't I?

One year a small plane flipped over, landing upside down, on the river bed behind our house.  The guy walked away from the flipped over plane, and got on his phone.  Not to 911, but to his buddy, trying to quickly get a truck and trailer to the site because what he had been doing was a tad bit illegal.  The Hubs and I were already on the phone to 911.  The aid car came, the fire truck came, several state and county vehicles came.  This was big news, this plane trying, unsuccessfully, to land on a gravel bar along the river.

Next thing you knew there was a news van pulling up our fairly long driveway.  I was just closing the gate when they got there and the reporter was out before the van stopped.

"Don't you want to be interviewed?  You can be on TV!" they said.

Click, went the lock on the gate and they got to see my pretty little tush saunter away (at least that was my visual inside my head).

Ten minutes later they came from another road on our property.

"Habla ingl├ęs?"  I shouted to them, to be heard from the rotor blades of the news helicopter overhead.

"What?  Yes, I speak English,  Why?" the second eager reporter responded.

"That's funny," I retorted, "Because the four No Trespassing signs you drove past are all in English, and I just assumed you didn't speak the language."

The news later made the whole thing out as some huge international debacle complete with an affair with a Russian princess who only ate red meat unless it was a Wednesday.  Just kidding about all that.  But they did give it it's 30 seconds from the news helicopter that circled overhead (that cut out my white ass as I mooned them when they flew way below the 500 feet mark).  And they tossed in all sorts of things that weren't true.

That was in 2004.  You'd think I woulda learned.

Nope.  In 2010 I watched a small coupe car smash head on into a double tankard semi, both going 55, in my rear view mirror.  I watched the coupe veer into the oncoming lane and mentioned that "that guy's gonna get in an accid..."  Smash.  I was at least 40 yards away.  The news turned it into "he was going too fast" "he was trying to pass someone going too slow" "he was committing suicide".  None of these were true because I was the one in front of him, too far ahead for him to be passing, and he tried to correct when he saw the truck.

Again, more BS from the news.

Four years later, I put down the remote and haven't seen a broadcaster since.  I do read up on the news, just to get headlines, but I take it with a grain of salt.  Most times, they are printing to sell, not necessarily inform.  And the information they want to inform, is information designed to scare, worry and make me unsure of our stability, safety and general well-being as a nation.

I live in my own little bubble and I'm happy with my world.  And now I'm never pissed off.

That last parts not true.

A Day In The Life - Painting The Barn

The barn in the backyard of my inherited house is about a thousand years old.  Okay, maybe only 100.  Actually, it's 100 plus years old, but no one who knows the true age is still alive (Rabbit trail:  Write stuff down; in a scrapbook, calendar, journal, something, anything, so it can be found a hundred years from now.  That stuff's fascinating.  And helpful.  So you know how old your barn is.).

It's been painted once.  Back a hundred years ago it was painted red with a blue door.  No, I don't get the blue door either.  Regardless, by the time I got in the family in 1989, all the paint had faded into wherever paint fades too.  There was only a teeny bit of color left.

From that teeny bit of color that remained, we decided to repaint it the same color.  This we decided in 2003.

Yes, I know it's 2015.  Math is not my strong suit, but even I can figure out there's a few years in there.

In 2014 we got serious about the whole barn painting thing.  This was because it was finally at a point where it wasn't falling down.

Believe it or not, this is actually an improvement.
The whole side was taken down and put up correctly.
When we first got the barn, the west side corner was falling fast to the ground.  The whole thing was sinking.  The west side got shored up (which means a false wall was kicked in there) and then left in about 2005.  Finally we ("we" meaning a concrete knowledgeable friend) came through and cemented a majority of the support posts so they didn't fade away like the paint.  In 2006 a majority of the roof was redone (traded a van and a thousand bucks for that one).  Finally, in 2013 all the sides were systematically ripped off and put back on.

Most of the boards were original.  The guys who did it were awesome about reusing every scrap of the original lumber they could get their hands on.  But we tossed in a few extra doors.  Few.  Umm, like nine.  That's a few right?  Maybe several.  Some of the doors couldn't be original.  Like the one sized so an RV can fit through.  Seriously, those doors are, like fourteen feet tall.  We didn't have boards that were fourteen feet tall.  So we improvised.


Only now the doors don't match the rest of the barn.

Which brings us (the really long way) back to painting the barn.

In 2014 The Guy I Let Live With Me got on craigslist (this is already not going to end well) and found a guy who would mix paint.  Sherwin Williams, five gallons, thirty bucks.  Since we were going to need at least 30 gallons, plus another 30 gallons of primer, this sounded like a fantastic idea.  All we needed was a chip of the paint color, the code on said chip and email the guy two hours away.

Boom.  We'd be saving ourselves a hundred bucks a five gallon bucket.

We chose a color, emailed the code, got some cash, drove two hours, and put twelve five gallon buckets in the back of the Highlander.

I should have looked closer at the color one of the paint buckets left on the back of my leather seat.

A week ago I got out the paint brush and broke open the bucket that had been sitting for a year.  It was pale pink.  Since it had been sitting, I mixed the hell out of it.  Ten minutes later, it was still pink.  Maybe it dries darker.  I spent two hours with a brush and got five boards painted.  Pink.

"It's the primer; it's supposed to be lighter," said my husband.

The next day I broke out the Wagner paint sprayer and hit the whole side.  I can't believe the neighbors weren't calling to bitch "what in the Sam Hell are you guys doing?".  I had my excuse at the ready: It's the primer.

By this time I am itching to break into the true paint.  The Guy I Let Live With Me mixed the paint for ten minutes.  It was darker.  A darker pink.  I dipped the brush in.  I slathered it on.  It was now hot pink.  Maybe it will dry darker.

Nope.  Still pink.

In the center is the swipe of color
from "craigslist guy".  Pepto Bismo Pink!
Phone calls were made.  Short story long, Anthony at the local Sherwin Williams re-tinted it for us - FOR FREE.  Sshhhh, if you know Anthony and he wasn't supposed to do that for us.  He did the best he could with what he had and we left with high hopes (and lots of comments about our original pink paint color making a wonderful barn color - ha).

I spent three hours spraying on our new color.

With mixed results.  I'm not sure I'm married to it.  It almost looks mauve in certain light.  In other light, it looks like soft rust.  At this point we are at a standstill.  Right now I have only painted a side of the barn, maximum height at eight feet.  I'm not sure what will happen when we go up to the front with the whole face of thirty feet and I'm a little scared.  The original craigslist guy says bring it back and he will remix it.  It's a long drive and I'm ready to paint NOW.

I've done the only thing I know.  Ask the Sully Teenager her advice.  After all, this place will probably someday be hers (unless we sell it to finance a beachfront cabana in Rarotonga) and she should have some say.  So we will ask the advise of The Teenager and the in-laws.  And the neighbors.  Because, really, at this point, I just want to paint the damn thing.

As it stands now, until there is a vote.
Mauve or not.

But right now it's on the neighbor's side and I can't see it.  Maybe when it's full force in my wine drinking deck view, I'll have a different opinion.

Or I could just drink more wine.

Stay tuned.  Together, we'll see how this ends.

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Raising and Only - The Land of Independence

When I gave birth to my daughter sixteen years ago, I knew she was not mine to keep.  My job was to raise her into a productive member of society.  I know there is more to it then that: Christ follower, happy, healthy, prosperous - all that jazz.

But she was not mine to keep forever, until I die of old age.

I came to this conclusion long before she was even a gleam in my eye.  I had been married a couple years and working retail.  The woman I worked with had eleven children (yes, you read that right - eleven) and she was lamenting how her youngest was starting kindergarten in September and she didn't have a baby in the house any more.  I thought to myself, self, you can have a hundred children and still, someday, you won't have a baby in the house anymore.

I am no genius at math, but even I can figure this out.

Hence the thought process when that little seven pounder shot out of my body.

She was going to grow up and move out of my house (please, God) and it was my job to prepare her.

I just might have pushed this whole preparing/independence thing a bit too far.

I thought, in my little plan book, that a second child would follow a couple years after her birth, so I started prepping her early.  At age two, we went to the park with a group of moms and toddlers the same age.  It started out cool, and quickly got warm.  The coats started to get peeled off.  And handed to moms.

Um, no, not this mom.  You either carry it, or put it in the stroller, but I am not a coat rack.

And that was that.  I've never carried her backpack, her coat, her music instrument(s), her library books (you can check out only as many as you can carry) or her luggage (you can only bring it if you are going to lug it through international airports).

When she was seven she ordered a cheeseburger while dining at a fancy restaurant.  No big deal, right?  Except it had mayonnaise on it even though she requested it without.  It would have been very parental of me to tap the waiter on the shoulder and say, ummm, and solve the problem for her.  Instead, I had her do it.  I prompted her what to say (and how to say it) and she did.  Because she was seven and not full of self-conscience, she had no qualm about making the request.  It maintained this independence path.  

She wanted a puppy at nine.  Fine, you do all the research.  You may check ads, make inquiries, email breeders, but you may not talk to anyone on the phone.  She found our schnauzer, and when it came time to do the meet-and-greet the breeder was impressed that it was a kid doing all the talking (again, there was a lot of prompting and conversations about what to say and not say).  She also learned how to recognize a scam, since she got caught up in a doozy.  Again, because she was only allowed to go so far with her search, no harm, no foul, but now she can spot those suckers a mile away.

Since then, she's brought home a cockatiel, six chickens and two geese.  She might have gotten a little too good at this whole thing.

At fifteen she went on a mission trip - without us.  She wanted to go to Haiti; it was not my "bent" to go (but I could come up with ways to raise the funds) and her dad couldn't get time off work.  So we talked with the coordinator, signed a waiver, and she boarded a plane.  Some of those were the longest days of my life (no phone conversations and very minimal updates for nine days).  Considering, by this time in her life, she had been on so many week-long overnight camps that it totaled at least three months of her life, this was a shock to both of us.

Recently she joined a concert band - an adult concert band.  Knowing nobody.  (Well, one gentleman who prompted her to join them, but he wasn't in the band right then due to an injury.)  But just drove herself there, grabbed her instrument, and walked through the doors.

Scares the crap out of me and I'm pushing 29 (well, pushed , shoved, ran the hell over. Anyway.)

The downfall of all this is that, now, at sixteen, she is starting to gently shove us away.  Half the time I feel like we are roommates instead of parents.  One day she even told my husband that she needed him to sign a paper for school, since he was her guardian.  Heck, she's gone vegan and buys her own food (yes, I've tried to get a list from her, but she's pretty steadfast about doing it herself).  She tries not to tell us when the school has awards ceremonies, concerts and sports games, so we're not seen with her (God forbid you try to get a picture!).  Luckily I am still smarter than her and I can find them on a website and we show up anyway.  I also have, in my back pocket, two very helpful and understanding parents that text me when they know about an event that I won't get told about.  This is a small town - nothing is much of a secret around here.  

The other day a school mate of my teenager was lamenting that parents today don't make their kids get jobs, pay for their own stuff, cook dinner once a week, do their own laundry.  Well, I'm hear to tell you that my kid has been doing her own laundry since age nine (I refused to do the sniff test and that was the compromise - it's either in the basket or I don't do it).  Independence is a great thing.

Just remember to be a kid once in a while to emotionally help an old lady out.




Friday, June 26, 2015

Everything I Know I Learned In Puppy School

Even though it's been three summers since our last class, I got another memory jog today about puppy school.  Turns out, I use it daily.

Only, not always on the dog.

We live next door to a dog trainer.  I mean, her agility classes are right next door.  So when my daughter was little (say, six) I would send her over to watch the classes.  Hey, it got her out of my hair and the trainer didn't mind one little bit (since she only had boys, the interested girl was a welcome change of pace).  The kid would then come home and attempt to agility train our antique flat coated retriever.  The dog was very patient with the kid's not so patient.

Fast forward a couple years when we got our first schnauzer.  We did the right thing by taking him to puppy school.  Here, we learned the standard commands that have carried me through parenthood and teacherhood (no that's not a word).

Let's start with the basic commands.

Sit.  Wanna know how many times I say that in a classroom?  Or the dinner table.  Even to the surly
Teenager? ("Sit, AT the dinner table.")  Give me a dollar for every time and I could retire to Roatan.  On the waterfront.

Stay.  This is one I use on the Teenager on a regular basis.  At a basketball game where she is in the band and we are in the audience and we have to meet up at the end of the game for transportation purposes.  Stay.  This one is used in conjunction with Sit in the classroom.

See.  Leave it.
Leave It.  More common than you think.  The next time your kid walks past the cookie jar, think about what you say to them.  Now replace it with "leave it".  See.

Come.  Okay, in public I don't use this one, but the premise is clear.  Occasionally I should use "come" rather than the standard "get your ass over here".  I wonder which one would get fewer glares?

Easy.  Ever try to give a cookie to a toddler?  Same thing as giving a dog a steak.  Or a teenager a $20 bill. When you would like to keep your hand, this is what you say.

Wait.  Over and over and over.  To teenagers and students.  And parents.

This one isn't a verbal command, but a standard none-the-less.  Consistency.  When you are walking with the dog, the dog is always on the left side.  Always.  And the dog is not permitted to cross in front of you or behind you or anywhere but the left side.  It's a consistent pattern that you both know and you are both comfortable with and it's routine.  Same with raising a kid.  When you walk into the store and the toddler walks out with nothing, they will not expect to walk out with anything next time.  Let the toddler have a candy bar once, and they will expect it the next time.  And the next.  And the next.  We had a phrase with our Strong Willed Toddler:  Do It Once, Do It Forever.

It's been three years since I've had to go to puppy school (although the schnauzer's "stay" is something that should probably be updated/implemented more often), but with the possibility of a new puppy looming, I'm a step ahead of the game.  I already know the commands.  Although ask any dog trainer and they will point-blank tell you:

"I'm not training the dog, I'm training you."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ode To The Guy-I-Let-Live-With-Me

I could make this into some sort of song, but, really, no one wants to hear me sing anything.  And by anything, I am required to lip-sync in church.  Ya catch my drift?  So we won't got there, just in case it gets catchy and then I'd be humming.  That's no good either.

No, this has to do with the fact that even after 24 (holy crap) years of marriage I still don't have it all in a bucket figured out what all The Hubs does for our family on a daily basis.  This was glaringly apparent this morning when I took the garbage-laden truck to the dump.

Little background here (because we all need the background).  Two weekends ago when we went to get a water tank (because it's the apocalypse right now in Washington because we haven't seen rain in two weeks, and don't see it in the foreseeable future).  That in and of itself is a pretty funny story if you have a minute.  Well, the truck overheated.  Big time.  Turns out it was the water pump.

Took it to the first mechanic.  He couldn't get some bolt undone (he doesn't usually work on diesels, but he's cheap - damn cheap).  Got quotes from some other mechanics and that was all over the place from $300-$900.  This was all the Hubs making these phone calls on a Tuesday morning on his day off.  (I would have called one place and just gone there, which is reason #23 why he's in charge of anything with a motor.  That, and the fact that if I get involved with anything with a motor, he has to take the teenager bra shopping.  Anywhoo...)

Turns out we have the one in a million Ford F250 with a dual alternator.  Figures we'd win that lottery.  And apparently those are in the way of the water pump that is all broke and leaking.  The price is potentially going up - a lot.  "You don't want us charging you by the hour," the shop dude says. The Hubs works it out, gives the okay to empty the bank account and hangs up.

Short story long, we got the truck back that day and went about our clean-out business.  We filled it with crap from the house, crap from the barn, crap from the tractor shed, crap from everywhere.  And this is not even the tip of the iceberg crap, but it felt good to get that teeny tiny bit out.

All the while we are loading the truck, it's running.  Pretty soon The Hubs is under the nose of the truck.  Where water is dripping.

Seriously?  Apparently it's not as fixed as shop-guy thinks it is.  And now it's loaded down with a dozen garbage bags, an old tire, some even older cat pee smelling carpet and a bucket of bent nails (I told you we were cleaning things out).  Did I mention that its 80 degrees out and us Washingtonians aren't used to this?

So there's the background (crud, that was long).  So, on Father's Day, I volunteered to, on Monday, take the truck to the dump, and then the shop.  The last thing IN THE WORLD that was going to happen was going to the dump on Father's Day.  No way.  Even I don't stoop that low (although things are a wee bit unconventional around Mother's Day).  I said, "Oh, the teenager can help. No Problem."

Problem.

Teenager is a wee bit cranky at 10:30 in the morning.    Wee bit.

Problem 2.

Are we sure this overheating truck is going to make it the three miles to the dump?  (You thought that was going to read 45 miles, didnt'cha?  Nope, seriously, we are blessed with the county waste management facility haul away place a whopping three miles from our driveway).

Problem 3.

Is this stuff tied down?

And circle around to the Teenager problem and just keep going around and around and around.

My stomach hurts.  But I have to get this done.  In 24 years of marriage, I've never gone to the dump by myself.  With an overloaded truck.  That is overheating.  With potential torpedoes in the back.

The Guy I Let Live With Me would not have even blinked twice.  His stomach wouldn't be in knots, ready to throw up.  He would have done it without the surly teenager - which might have been a good idea except I couldn't toss the carpet out by myself.  Then he would have come home and started ripping into the lawn mower belt drive thingy that keeps slipping off when we mow.

Bottom line:  We made it.  No one threw up.  The teenager didn't have to change her sulky attitude.  The truck didn't overheat (although the smell was a little burnt when we stopped).  The trash got emptied.

The cat-piss smell carpet is out of my barn.

Occasionally I will wonder what would happen to me on this farm if something were to happen to The Hubs.  My ego says it will be fine and I'll traipse through.

Reality tells me I still sorta need the guy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wordless Wednesdays - Photos From The Farm - Part 5

Many years ago, when the family first homesteaded on the property (around 1940), the river was only visible after a walk through the woods.  But as water does, time changed the river's course.  For several years, the river continued to eat away at the woods until most of them were gone.  After a loss of about eleven acres, the river abuts the Army Corps dike that was built to protect the land owners.  It is just a simple reminder of the ever changing course of Mother Nature.


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

Quote found on:  Open Bible 

These and other farm photos can be found on our portfolio page:  The Accidental Farmers Portfolio 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wordless Wednesdays - Photos From The Farm - Part 4

Because we use our decks so often, I finally convinced the Hubs that I should hang a hummingbird feeder on the deck.  He was convinced as long as it didn't go into the siding.  So, onto the support 4x4 instead!  It is a blast to watch the hummers come along - and usually bicker.


"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer."  1 Timothy 4:4-5

Quote found on:  Open Bible

 These and other farm photos can be found on our portfolio page:  The Accidental Farmers Portfolio

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Day In The Life - The Water Tank

Three hundred dollars, knocked down to two hundred seventy five dollars.  A steal for a 1550 gallon water tank, right?  Washington State (The Evergreen State, The Rainy State, all that business) is going to be in a drought this year.  The governor has even declared a state of emergency (in May) so this must be big.

Now I'm not a prepper by any means (I can't even think beyond dinner tonight let alone plan for the apocalypse later) but I did tell The Guy I Let Live With Me that he could peruse the purchase of a water reservoir in case the well goes dry.

He was hot on the tail of this job.  His ban from Craigslist had been lifted.  The glorious angels would sing again.

He did find a tank:  $300 fairly local (15 minute drive).  Dickered down to $275.  Now we just had to get the thing.

At noon, on a 91 degree day (seriously, in JUNE?), we set off for the bank to get the cash and pick up a teenager to help (our own teenager - lucky for her - had to work).  The three of us are on our way to pick this thing up.

And up it was.  The main road to get this thing is windy enough with four 45 degree turns all on its own.  The road to the house was gravel, pitted, windy and UP.  At this point The Guy I Let Live With Me mentions, "The truck's running hot."

"What do you mean by hot?" I inquire.

"Like, it's in the red," was his response.

Reds never good.  Red on the safety of the handgun means blood, so red is bad.  Bad bad.  At this point we can both smell antifreeze.  The heater gets kicked into high gear and prayers get said.  Little bells are chiming in my head.

We are still going up, hoping no one is coming down.  The teenager in the back is blissfully unaware.
We get to the top and find this guys house.  He leads us to the tank.  Now, especially for two photographers, there are no pictures of this thing.  We were both in shock.  Yup, it was 1550 gallons.  And huge.  We knew it was 87" across and 52" tall, but that doesn't mean much until you see the thing.  And in desperate need of a pressure washer.  Okay, empty the remaining water and tip the thing on it's side to roll it to the truck.  It's only 200 pounds and it rolls really easy, so this wasn't an obstacle.  Our one concession was that it didn't roll down the incline Indiana Jones Rolling Rock style.  We stopped it with a crowbar and a piece of old carpeting.

Now to get it up the pallet ramp and into the bed of the truck, which, by this time, has cooled down thanks to the heater running full force and heating the cab of the truck up to 103 degrees. Roll that bad boy up the pallet and into the bed.

Which it did remarkable easy.  So easy that when it hit the back of the cab, a fine tinkering crashing sound occurred.  We all looked at each other and pause.  You could hear the crickets chirping.

"Back window," I finally said.

Sure enough, the right panel of the rear window was in little teeny tiny tinted pieces with the "Farm Exempt" tab hanging from a piece of tape still attached to the glass.

Strike Two.

The Hubs is hanging his head and in shock.  We are all sweating profusely.  The seller is watching his sale tick away.

The Hubs gets over his window, steps back and says, "Well it's in."

Yeah all crooked because the wheel well distance is only 49 inches and the width of the thing is 52 inches.  The Hubs says, "Let's cinch it up."

The warning bells are banging a wee bit louder in my head now.  This thing is in the back of the overheating, broken-windowed truck, cock-eyed crooked and at least 100 feet off the ground (actually ten feet, but it's my story).

The Hubs and the Teenager get the tie downs out.  One tie down won't make it all the way across.

Strike Three.  The bells are banging so loud now I can't hear anything else.

The Seller says, "Well, tie the two together."  Um yeah, making only one to hold this hot, crooked mess.  Right.

My arms go across chest and I look at The Guy Who Might Still Be Living With Me.

He's smart enough to read my body language.

"You're saying no," he says.

You are a damn smart guy.

He looks at the Seller.  "She's saying no."

I find my voice, "Lets just say I will not ride home with you if that's in the back of the truck."  I look at the Teenager, "If this was you, would you try this?"

"Yeah," he smiles.

"Get it out of my truck," I demand.

Short story long, it was pretty easy to unload.

The window cost $271 to replace.  We paid the Teenager $20 for his troubles (although, technically, he should have paid US).  It will cost $300 to replace the water pump on the truck.  And, six days later The Guy Who Still Lives With Me found a brand new tank online for $589.

By the time the freight was split between three deliveries, to have it driven to our house was only $37.50.


Now to figure out how to conceal it.