Thursday, April 30, 2009

Um . . . Progress?

So my mother, God love the woman, says to me this morning, "Did you guys get any rain last night?"

Of course it rained last night. We're doing a landscape project!

And I can almost pretend that we're making excellent progress. See, it started out like this:

And then we made it to this before the first round of rain:

And now? Now it looks like this:

Let me tell you, raking the rock and sand to get a mostly level surface is darned near Zen. And then hefting a 40+ pound paver and trying to get it lined up takes that Zen moment and grinds it into fine particles. There is no Zen when you're trying not to herniate or crush your toes and fingers. None.

Anyway, we're just some sod away from having a perfectly normal, lovely back yard, right? (That's not snow - thank goodness - but white petals from our cherry tree. I love our cherry tree, but the rain sort of stripped the blossoms this year, darn it.)

Until you turn around - and see this:

Did it rain last night? DID IT RAIN LAST NIGHT???

Yes, Mom, it rained last night. Almost two inches. Again. Will I have a patio before July? These are the questions of our time.

Side note: Can you see Jake the Three Legged Wonder Wiener up there on the porch? You want to know what he's thinking? He's thinking mud to the left, lake to the right - Where's a fellow supposed to "go" these days?

Thanks to everyone who passed on their condolences for the yard. While parts of it are still really, really dead, it will always live on in our hearts and minds. Or not.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The Authorial Mom's lawn died over the weekend. Let us have a moment of silence as we mark the passing of this unremarkable plot of grass.

Immediate cause of death was not available, but reports on the ground indicated that a construction incident with a vehicle, identified only as a 'Bobcat,' was the chief cause of death. Additional reports indicated that a rainfall total of 2-4 inches over 34 hours may have sealed the lawn's fate.

The Authorial Mom was quoted as saying, "It wasn't the best of lawns - had a lot of weeds, lot of animals that had burrowed into it - but it was our lawn, and we loved it nonetheless." Visibly upset, the Authorial Mom continued, "We (sniff) never even got a chance to mow it this year!" Further comment could not be made.

Other members of the family were not as distraught. The Hubby was overheard saying, "I'm glad it's gone. I'm gonna get me some sod!" But when this reporter pressed him on that, he denied ever wishing ill to his yard. Local birds were also apparently delighted with the demise of the lawn, tweeting to this reporter through a translator that the worms and grubs turned up in the carnage were, "good eats." News of this further upset the Authorial Mom, who ran off while bemoaning the loss of not only her grass, but the worms for her garden.

The lawn is survived by a large (five feet tall by twelve feet wide) pile of dirt and ruts that may have been made by the same killer Bobcat that are as much as three feet deep and still filled with water four days later. This reporter was awed by the amount of water the dead lawn was no longer able to absorb.

Yes, the lawn will be sorely missed.

Services will not be held.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Digging it.

First, it's been exactly two weeks since I mailed my Noseless Cowboy manuscript off - media mail, no less. The agent said she had three manuscripts ahead of mine. Is it too early to start fretting? Because I already am.

Second, Easter went well. We got there by 3 in the afternoon, helped my father-in-law throw sticks onto a rack wagon, and then rode said rack wagon while he pulled it with a big, old tractor down to the burn pile. My kid spent most of the rest of his time there digging in the dirt and rock with the same diggers his daddy had dug with, because my in-laws never threw away ANYTHING. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. My husband went up into the attic in their shed and pulled out Clyde's Car Crusher and Superheros and Mutant Monsters (which is the guy version of Fashion Plates that I had - you know, where you mix up the different plates with different outfits and then do a crayon rubbing over the top?) from 1978 - still rubberbanded in the box, still with most all the parts. In my house, those things would have been recycled at a thrift store or just tossed a long, long time ago.

(And if your wondering - because I know I was before I saw it - Clyde's Car Crusher is where you make molds of small cars and vans out of aluminium foil, then drop them into a chute, wind it up until your vehicle has (theoretically) been crushed into a 1-inch cube, and then put your cube on the back of a truck. Boy heaven, that's what it is.)

Church also went well - considering the furnace wasn't exactly working. My kid didn't want to go up for the Children's Sermon until I pointed out that the pastor had a basket, and there might be something good in that basket. Then he was off, and was rewarded with jelly beans. Sure, he ate the Body of Christ before it had been officially blessed, but only half. Not too bad, really.

Third, let me tell you how sore I am. We've been digging. Here, look at this dirt.

All of that dirt came from this walkway:

And that walkway? We dug that out by hand, just the three of us. Well, two of us. The kid tried to help, he really did. He even has his own shovel, a little spade I bought for digging in the garden while I'm on my knees. Just right for him. But after about four or five shovels full of dirt, he's done, and playing in the dirt. Like this:

You can see the undug walkway behind him there. That was the beginning of the trench my husband started - apparently, just the right size for an almost-four-year-old kid to recline in and enjoy the afternoon sun.

This is what our backyard started out as:

The hose is the outline of a future patio. There used to be a deck there - but it was rotting and the paint was peeling, so we tore it out.

We did that (also by hand) coming up on three summers ago. The area formerly known as a deck has been a mud-and-weed pit for two full summers. But now, we've got our supplies delivered:

(No, you're not imagining things - that is a hearse back there. Our neighbor has a thing for the Adams Family, so we have a hearse next door. We had a mud pit for two years, so I guess a hearse isn't too bad, right? Besides, when I get my plants and shrubs back where all that rock is piled high, I won't be able to see it as much. I hope.)

We've got a bobcat being delivered tomorrow, because while I may be insane enough to dig out a straight(ish) and narrow walkway, I'm not nutty enough to do semi-circles that have old concrete on the edges.

But it will all be worth it, because we WILL have a patio. It WILL be lovely to sit out at our table and eat dinners al fresco. The new plantings WILL be stunning this time next year when everything blooms again. And with the money we're saving by doing this ourselves, I WILL have a lovely new office in which to write and write and write, complete with coordinating office furniture!

This WILL all work out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Crazies

Now, as you may (or, more probably, may not) recall, Thanksgiving is my family's holiday. Turkey, pie, football - almost a religious experience in the hands of my father.

You know what that means, right? That's right. My in-laws get Easter. An actual religious experience.

This year, Easter is going to be particularly nutty. Tomorrow is Good Friday. Normally, we'd do a little resting and relaxing, and head down to my in-laws house for some quality grandparent spoiling. But, just like everything else in my life (Ticker: Fine. Bull Riding Book: Half done), "normal" is relative. In addition to being Good Friday, tomorrow is also my hubby's birthday.

But wait! There's more! Next week is some big, fancy-pants board meeting at my hubby's company, and they want numbers - lots of numbers - to talk about. So, tomorrow - on his birthday - on Good Friday - he's going to work. No in-law love, no rest, no relaxation. Just another day at the office. As Saturday will be as well.

I'm doing my part to make him feel better about his drudgery. I'm going to take my kid down to my Gram's for lunch. I love my Gram. Lots. And she's still a force to reckon with at 94. But sometimes, that reckoning can take a lot out of a guy. So he's going to go to work, confident that it could be worse, and I'm going to Gram's.

I'm hoping - HOPING - to make it to my in-laws' at some point before bedtime on Saturday. It's Easter, dang it. If my mother-in-law doesn't get the chance to send my kid into fits of giggles by savagely devouring Peeps, I'm not sure the world will continue spinning on its axis. (You should see her. She's an animal!)(In the best way possible!)

Another change we'll be making this year involves church. Now, I know that for most people, Easter is a church-given. Non-negotiable.

I am not 'church' people. Never have been, probably never will be. I search for the wonder of a Higher Power in the beauty of a blooming magnolia, the joy in my kid's giggling, and the hope in the letters we get from the young Filipino girl we sponsor. I don't do church. I do faith and spirituality, but not church.

Luckily, my in-laws like me anyway.

The last time we dropped our kid off with them for a Mom-and-Dad break, they took him to church, which is totally fine. And you know what? He liked it! Who knew a three year old would enjoy services? Every time we drove past a church here at home, we heard about going to church with Grandma and Grandpa.

So, this year, I decided we'd go with my in-laws to Easter service. Why not, right? It's only one of the most important Christian holidays around. And it's good that he knows there's more to the holiday than Peeps.

So we'll get there late, go to church, eat steak (no, I don't know why. That's just what the in-laws are fixing, and I'm gonna eat them!), and come home.

It's going to be an especially crazy version of the holiday this year. But that's okay. As long as we get to do it, it will all work out.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Turn-Around Week

First, an update: Thanks so much for everyone who called or emailed to make sure I wasn't dead. I'm still not dead. In fact, the doctors seem to agree that there's nothing wrong with me - as long as it doesn't happen again.

It was great. I went to see my 'regular' doctor - who is a man I'd never met before. My 'regular' regular doctor had moved on to her own practice in a small town too far away about nine months ago, and the office assigned me this guy. But since then, I haven't gotten sick in the cold-and-flu kind of way. I've been seeing specialists (because, you know, I'm special). But the ER wanted me to see my 'regular' doctor. So I went and met the man. He looked over all my labs and test results, listened to my heart a whole bunch, and said, "Well . . ." Right. Not a damn thing wrong with me.

Do you do what I do? I mean, I'm really, SUPER glad there's not a damn thing wrong with me. I don't WANT to have major problems that require hospitalization, surgery, or a major adjustment to my everyday life. And my 'regular' doctor assured me i wasn't going to die anytime soon.

But still. I blew precious bull riding research time and a lot my disposable income on an afternoon in the ER, all for nothing. I feel like Chicken Little, but the sky never fell. It's still better this way, but I feel like an idiot. An idiot whose ticker is fine, but an idiot none the less.

Okay. So, I'm an idiot. But this is nothing new, and we're focusing on the power of positive thinking in this house. Seriously. My daily mantra is:

1. I look good.
2. I feel good.
3. I'm having a good day.
4. I am a New York Times best-selling author.

Seriously. It's on a piece of paper tacked up next to my view of the magnolia. I look at it a lot.

And you know what? I think it's working. My crazy body has been (relatively) calm since that little ER episode. I'm feeling good in my own skin. My week has been much, much better than the last one (dog barfing on my bedspread at 5:20 in the morning notwithstanding). The daffodils and the magnolia tree survived the snowstorm we had last week. The kid is getting better at controlling his bike. The hubby made cookies, brownies, and homemade lasagna (including homemade noodles!).


An agent requested the full manuscript of the Noseless Cowboy book, aka A Part of Her , yesterday. In her email, she said, "I liked those first few pages very much. Good solid writing. Wonderful voice for the heroine." That's the nicest thing anyone's said yet to date. Anyone I'm not related to, that is. Plus, I was doing a little research on this agent, and she'd said in a blog interview last year that she was looking for "new" westerns.

This could all work! This will all work! I have faith!