Sunday, October 16, 2011


Dear Daughter is becoming quite the horse-rider. It started...
Well, it started before she could speak, practically, Gramma throwing her up on a painted cow to sit astride. Then it was the ponies walking in tiny circles, the miniature horses at the apple festival, and don't forget the classmate's post-Christmas birthday parties where the mom was the accomplished rider, taking kids on her gentle horse. It morphed into (that same) Gramma wanting one more trail ride, and then another one. So lessons were in order so that D.D. could do it. The last two summers she went to horse camp for two (and then three) weeks. Now it is once-a-week lessons at the farm, and she is starting to post her trot. We have been to several horse shows, and she loves the English style and tack.
Yes, we have had those conversations and discussions about owning one's own horse. Unless I sell all my worldly goods, that is not happening now. Besides the Magic Meatball and the iCarly traffic light say "no". But D.D. is sporting breeches, Ariat boots and Half-chaps now, as well as her own helmet. Give her a year and she may be showing at a 4-H.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

cotton t-shirts

Hubby and I love our cotton t-shirts literally to their death. There is something about a perfect soft well-worn, broken-in t shirt that beats any other garment in our drawer. I am not always sure at the time of buying a souvenir shirt what that magical 'it' quality is that will be revealed slowly over time to make the ideal shirt. It is not obvious at first. Only a hundred wearings and washings will show which is our favorite. We wear our favorites faithfully every week until they perforate, pit-seams rip, and the decal is illegible. And then we wear them some more. We wear them until they give out. Until one can read print through them. Until we are just too ashamed to be seen by each other in them. And only then do we grudgingly give them up. With a sigh that seems to say...I remember not when you were new, but when you were whole and I could read where I bought you, and you didn't embarrass me, but that was a long time ago. "I wish I had gotten two of you," I have thought on many occasions.
They are not all the same brand. They are not all the same fit and size. They are from here there and anywhere in my travelling history. They must be not too tight. They must be not too loose. They must not be too short. They must not have stitching, only an iron-on. The iron-on must not be too big, nor too stiff, nor sticky, perhaps the best ones are screen printed and the location is right in the fabric. They must not be too heavy to start with or they are too hot to wear often. They must not be too thin to start with or they wear out before they start being great.
I think I have this formula in purchasing a shirt. I will think to myself, "this has all the qualities I am looking for". Alas, there will be no dressing room in the outdoor markets, booths, or touristy shops for trying it on. I will get it home and try to wear it lovingly, faithfully. And I will fail. Or it will fail me. It will be too hot (deadly sin in the south). It will be too dense and won't breathe. It will have too long of a sleeve and my arms will be hot. It will be too tight in the chest. It will shrink. The neck-hole will strangle me. The decal will be too hot either in the front on my ample bosom or on my back. It will fit weird, and be too tight on my hips. Sometimes its just the wrong color. It might even be too long. I have a stack of shirts that I wish I could love from places I enjoyed going. But the touch of any of these on my skin makes me itch, yank, pull, chafe, sweat, and swear in vain. I will continue to loath their touch, and no amount of washing, wearing or even stretching and sewing will turn them into a favorite.
I can't predict which ones I will love and which ones I will continue to re-stack in my shirt drawer, shifting them around, only wearing them on laundry day, shedding them as soon as my beloved shirt is clean and dry.
Last year I returned to the place I got one of my favorites seven years before. They didn't have the same ones. Even if they did...would it have worked out just as well? So I continue the search for new ones - future favorites. I continue to mourn the passing of a favorite. I continue to revile those who failed to please.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

summer fun

It seems like this summer is flying by so fast, especially when I look back and see how much has passed, and then look forward and see how little time is left. And yet, in the middle of the day, in the middle of another major whine episode, in the middle of another "Mom, play with me" demand (not request), its like a walker in a oasis in sight. The summer started out pretty fine. We had more than a week where nothing was planned, and we ended up going to my mom's house, swimming in the pool, eating healthy food, going to her community center gym. It was actually really nice. I usually like to plan trips and outings and have something on my schedule. I really wanted to go camping or on a road trip right after school ended, but I was feeling broke, I am not sure how much more my car will realistically take, and daughter was completely against the idea. I admit to some disappointment that my daughter is not the outdoorsy camping adventurous type that I was hoping, that I saw glimmers of three years ago. So I couldn't realistically plan a trip without her, nor could I change her mind, so we did the gra'ma's house thing, and it worked out well. We also went to Weeki Watchee which is a state park now. It was as good as I remembered it. Laugh at those mermaids if you dare - they are some of the strongest, bravest, prettiest women I have ever seen! We also go to see (and pet) a pine snake, a king snake, and an alligator.
The second week of summer was scheduled, with me painting minis and daughter going to horse camp. Camp is at a great local stables, is day-only, but with up to three riding sessions per day, plus games, grooming, and occasional movies. Daughter loves it, but it is very hot and tiring for her. She is good the entire day there, and when she gets home, she puts on her devil horns and gives us hell the rest of the night. Still, its worth the 50 per day for her to do something she loves and for me to have time to myself. I wish I spent my alone time more efficiently, but I do the best I can. Unfortunately, this week was extra hot in town, with highs in the high nineties, before our summer rains set in, and daughter got a touch of heat exhaustion on Thursday, so I had her home on Friday.
The third week was unscheduled, but not for lack of trying. I wanted daughter in a half-day gifted program, but they ended up being full, and no one dropped at the last minute, so she was home. I got ZERO mini work done. I don't know how Cynde was able to work with kids. Although she says that they entertained each other, but I think she just put her foot down and forced them to, because I am not as firm, but I am failing miserably at getting even the most simple things done. It didn't help that we were battling fleas at the time. I was vacuuming every other day at that point, and constantly washing something... rugs, clothes, and cats.
The fourth week was supposed to be spent in the gifted program, too, but since that didn't pan out, I found another job - cat-sitting for my mom while she went to visit the Chicago grandchildren. It was nice having her big, pretty house to myself (and my daughter's self) for the week. Her cats didn't appreciate us much until about the fourth day in, but we got to swim in the pool, hang out with my aunt for fourth of July, eat frozen yogurt at Yogurt Mountain practically every day, but otherwise eat fairly healthy from my mom's extensive food stores. Plus, I got paid! The only thing I didn't get much done of was minis, but as with most things, if you keep going at them, eventually you make progress.
The fifth week (last week) was another session of Horse Camp. This time daughter made it through the week. It was a lot less hot, and some of the time activities were rained out, but she was still plenty sore each night, but stronger each morning. I made a point of making her drink water more often, and that seems to have had a good effect. Daughter really wants horse riding lessons - through the year, so I will be spending my money on that, but she will not be able to get as much other 'stuff' as a trade-off.
She also saw an episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras" and wants to enter beauty pageants. I told her she might get a chance to enter a horse show 'which is just like a beauty pageant...only on a horse'. I had no idea how true that was, but it really is!!! Part of the reason the owner of the horses wants my daughter is because she fits that stereotype of thin, blond, poised, horse-crazy girl that is successful at shows. Pair her with a pretty, well-trained horse and you have a recipe for trophies and ribbons.
After two more weeks, we will be going on my birthday vacay - okay, also for my cousin's wedding - out to Washington State, then Vancouver, and then a cruise to Alaska and back to Seattle. We will get back in the night before school starts. Coincidentally, Cynde and Ron will be in AK the same time we will! At least I don't have to feel too guilty about slacking off on minis then!

Monday, May 30, 2011

You kids today do NOT know how nice you have it...

...compared to back in my day. Let me tell you!
Dear daughter comes to me to tell me of her boredom, and I just cannot care. She took out her DIDJ (electronic handheld learning game) and played it a while. She didn't even consider that she hadn't used it in months and the rechargeable batteries in it STILL WORKED. Thank you Sony Eneloops - wish I had you when I was young. And for that matter, thank you Leap Learning systems, with your addition and spelling drills in a fun, Fairy environment. All I had was this really dumb baseball handheld that blew up like Jiffy pop in the hot car window where I accidentally left it one afternoon, no thanks to the car manufacturers who didn't invent darkened glass in back seats until after I was old enough to know better. That game sucked anyway, but it also really sucked that my mom didn't warn me to put it down in the footwell, either. No my kind of growing up was the school of hard knocks and "too bads". Oh sure, we had our schoolhouse rock, thank goodness, or I never could have memorized the Preamble to the Constitution.
But beyond the fact of Disney East AND West channel, NICK east and west, and a whole fuckin' channel for cartoons, lies the lack of appreciation for having as many toys as she has, the quality of the toys she has, the quality of toys I have that I let her play with, and it makes me want to have a temper tantrum and kick my heels on the ground. Why couldn't I have had a scooter, a boogie board, an iPod? Oh yeah, they pretty much weren't invented yet. If our childhood was so much more fun than our parents, with their limited toys and space, and our children's childhood is so much more fun than ours, what will our grandchildren's childhood be like? Portable on-demand cheap tv shows anywhere and everywhere? Videogame style learning in school? Wireless messaging for play dates? And then what? I cannot even imagine. I know I should appreciate my old bike, the hours of Gilligan's Island, my neighbor's Atari, and all the books, records, and tapes. But will she appreciate what she had when faced with the new toys in the future?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One more camping adventure

A week ago we came back from one more girl scout camping adventure. This time, I did not organize it, nor add to any activities, nor do anything more than try to stick to the schedule I was given. And that was just fine and dandy!
We tagged-along with a different service unit's annual themed camp-out at Kateri. The theme was Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Lightning Theif, etc. Our preparations were limited to signing up those who were coming, making sure they all had a ride to camp, and making about 300 SWAPS (GS trading pins, handmade, highly prized). This particular service unit put on very fun activities last year, and we knew we would have a good time again.
We were cabinned (not housed, but you know what I mean), a good half mile hike from the lodge and meals, but we just walked, and got in a lot of miles that Saturday. By well run, I also mean that this service unit did not cotton to anyone being late for anything, and we seemed to continually run afoul of this rule. So I became the time guard, for lack of a better term. Maybe time sergeant. I would count down the minutes until we absolutely had to leave, and then everyone else would ignore me until the last possible minute, then scramble with shoes, flashlights, etc and we would finally all tromp down to the next location for an activity. It worked well.
We had several fun activities, including an easter egg hunt/puzzle solving, a swim in the lake, a game of medusa-freeze-tag, poster-board-sword and plastic-spoon-catapult making, toga and flag making, and a game of hide the flag and capture the flag.
Last their was a tractor ride, a toga fashion show, an ice cream social (which we almost missed) and Saturn watching - as in the planet!
By the end of Saturday, our girls were wiped out tired. Most of the girls did very well in doing their chores (kapers), unpacking and packing, and keeping it together emotionally. There were exceptions, mostly in the younger girls. Which made me realize more than ever the differences between Brownie scouts and the younger Daisy Scouts. I also realized something important about myself, in that I appreciate, and communicate better with, older, more capable girls.
The cots we slept on were fairly comfortable, and I had the best night's sleep while camping that I perhaps ever have had as an adult. Or maybe I am just getting used to it. This gives me hope that I can continue these outdoor activities well beyond my daughter's childhood and pursue dreams that were shrivelling up. I really want to do more hiking and backpacking. Sadly I am not sure that my daughter will want to be a partner to this, so some of what I have been thinking about it is, can I do some of this by myself, or can I find other interested people to do this activity with? And I think the answer to either is a resounding YES!
Lastly, I really began to think about being a girl scout leader and my comfort level, and I decided I can fill a gap. Namely, I am going to be a leader next year for a Junior level troop of scouts. And my daughter will not be in it, but I am still going to lead. I figured if one of our leaders could lead a troop her daughter had outgrown, I could lead a troop my daughter will grow into. Plus, Girl Scouts invariably have trouble finding willing leaders for the higher age groups. But that is exactly where I will do better as a leader, enjoy it more, and hopefully pass on my love of the outdoors to the next generation.
So you can expect to hear about more of my adventures as this year continues. I hope you will still want to tune in!

Friday, April 29, 2011

spring camping recap

I realized I forgot to blog about the Spring Camping trip and the Super Moon and how great Camp Chow was, so here it goes:
We arrived on a busy Saturday, the rangers and staff already in attendance because of a river clean-up project going on. In fact, the camp was probably full. This camp is now a county park, but still retains all the girl scout cabin and treehouse units it used to have. It is open to the public, and very picturesque, right near the St. Johns river in Clay county. We had reserved an entire set of cabins, with bath house, fire ring, and cooking lodge, and it was fun having a whole camp to spread out in. The girls quickly selected cabin-mates and stowed their stuff, and we got to work on lunch. The Kaper chart (a chart of teams with duties) worked wonderfully. The girls were really fantastic about learning and doing their new duties, and they even seemed to enjoy washing their own mess kits. I took down the "mens" sign from the bath house and relished a female-only outing.
After lunch, we split by age group and went on separate hikes. The hiking trail went right by our fire ring, so the girls could not be convinced to keep hiking the full length of the trail, but quit after half the distance. So, I only got to see half of the camp! The tent hiking and another cabin area was full of people, though, and the trail was quite busy. Still, we got to hear woodpeckers and see different types of trees.
We next had a fire building session. I was fresh from my training, and gave a talk, with the Leader's help about fire safety and how to build a fire. It was super cool when my one match lit my girl scout fire starter which caught the kindling, then the tinder, and then the whole logs ablaze. Everyone was impressed! It was a shame to put the fire out, but we didn't need a big fire in the middle of the afternoon, since it was quite warm out.
Another session we planned was for the Brownie girls to plan to lead their own meeting. Breaking down further into two teams, each team selected a "try-it", that is, a series of activities to learn about a subject. Then, they had to determine which activities to do, how long it would take, who would lead, and what supplies were needed. As coaches, we parents tried to keep them on task, help them plan realistically, and help resolve disagreements. Our team did a really good job, and we ended up using their planning for a later meeting. The other team got bogged down in selecting their try-it, realizing only later that we had already completed the requirements of the one they selected.
At that point it was time for something active again, and the Brownies had a sleeping bag relay race while the fire-starters and cooks rotated into their duties. Our dinner plans were ambitious - cook burgers not over a stove or grill, but in foil packets on the fire. Boy, was it HOT! But insulating the meat patties in cabbage leaves worked great, and we had the best tasting hamburgers ever. I forgot to mention that the whole menu for this weekend was suggested by the girls themselves, and there was very little complaining about food variety or cooking/cleanup chores.
After dinner, it was time for the Moon Rise. It was supposed to be the biggest brightest moon in 17 years and we were not disappointed. The hard part was finding a good view of the eastern horizon, but we managed, and mostly kept the girls from falling into the river (one stuffed animal took the plunge but was retrieved!). It certainly was a bright moon, and rivaled a perigee moon I remember from when I was a kid. We had a short walk back in full dark, but holding hands, we gathered everyone home. Then, we had smores and songs, and the last activity - a flag retirement. I again led the discussion about the proper way to retire a flag, by burning, and again, everyone was interested and involved.
My girl chickened out of the top bunk, and I wasn't going to make the pregnant mom crawl up there, so I ended up on top with my arms gripping the low railings. It got chilly at night, but not unpleasant. There was a train whistle about every two hours, so I never felt like I was far from civilization, and then I could hear car traffic on the bridge starting at 6am on Sunday morning. I got up and got the fire going again, and brought out the Box Oven - a cardboard, charcoal-fired box that can cook just like a regular oven. We made muffins and they cooked up beautifully. I even cooked bacon on my frypan over hot coals, which worked well, although now I am wishing for a cast iron camping dutch oven!
We did some clean up, then went on another hike and finished up more TryIt activities. Then ended with lunch near the old lodge (undergoing profound renovation). We had a wonderful closing circle, complete with everything we were grateful for that left us with moist eyes, and then a pleasant ride back to town.
It was so nice that everything we had done to promote planning, and sharing of duties had not only worked, but worked well and inspired our girls to do more.
The girls did well, but as leaders, we really came a long way!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

gripes for today

I know, I know
Gripe number one should be against me, for not posting more often more regularly, more consistently. Yeah, I am bad, and that is not the only reason.
Right now I have my grump on for several reasons:
It is ninety and hasn't rained in days and days, and everything is drying up like a desert and squirrels are digging up my basil, the lil fuckers, and rain is predicted, but only about 50%, and its from the same system that caused all the tornadoes. So do I want this rain, or don't I?!?
Also I have been trying not to eat sugar, and its like the less I have the more I want it. So I break down like a damn addict, and feel horrible, and feel grumpy, and feel guilty and feel like, "well, I'll try again tomorrow". I've decided that soda and York Peppermint Patties are about the worst things on the planet to eat. So why do I have a hard time throwing them away?
My tooth hurts, and I think its because I am gritting my teeth in my sleep. I don't grind, I clench. I probably need to quit caffeine, but that just gives me chills....
The good news is we are going camping this weekend. Its another Girl Scout thing, run by a different group, but was super fun last year, and promises to be so this year. It will be hot, but is predicted to be not too hot, not ninety, like last year. But if it is 90, so what? It will still be fun. We have four adults and thirteen girls. Hopefully they will listen. Because if I am sugar crashing and they are bad-behaving, somebody's head is going to go 360 and there may or may not be green puke spewing. But, that's just expecting the worst. And I refuse to expect the worst. Despite difficulties, we will all be fine, I am sure, and we will all behave at least well enough to be invited back next year. Even if we get the nasty reputation for being a bunch of whiners.
I love my short sassy haircut.
I hate fleas, and we have them. They are immune to Frontline and Advantage, which means we are shit out of luck until they approve something else for cats. I have removed all the rugs out of the house (except the washable bath mats). I am seriously considering tiling or laminate flooring the final carpeted room.
E. M. Forster is my favorite author, and am listening to and will soon reread A Passage to India.
I replaced my burned out under cabinet lighting with more of the same kinds of lights, which, I know, will burn out again. But they were free.
Its like my life is filled with stop-gaps, but no real solutions. I should blog about that sometime, when I get the chance.

Friday, March 18, 2011

the eve of camping

Well, its time for round two with the girl scouts! Spring camping in Florida...of course it is not technically Spring. But, in Florida, spring has sprung, the wisteria are blooming, the azaleas are abud, the air is absolutely saturated with oak pollen, and the insects are beginning to hummm. We are going to a former GS camp near Jax for a night and have a bunch of activities planned. I just hope I am up to the challenge. I will be leading a couple activities and helping with others. I hope my meal-planning works out, and mostly I hope that the girls work a little bit hard, but not so hard they can't enjoy the fun. I know my daughter is nervous about the work part, but it shouldn't be more than a little challenging. This transitioning from helpless baby to competant adult is wicked hard for most of us!
I was remembering the first time I went camping. I was a kid of eleven? twelve? and went to a KOAtype of campground with my friend and her parents. We must have camped on a Friday night, because the next day was a mineral and gem show. I had money to spend and loved rocks, so it was ideal for me. I truly do not remember sleeping in a tent, what I ate or anything else about it except the pleasure of buying my own coveted rocks, and the agony of losing them out of my pocket later that afternoon. Nothing to show for my hard earned allowance. I don't think I cried, but I wanted to. There was no one to blame but myself, and I didn't think of taking my vast disappointment out on anyone. In fact, I think I liked the camping part.
Later, I enjoyed exploring the few 'woodsy' areas of my neighborhood by myself or with friends. As is typical in Florida, some times you can only hike in the springtime dry season, because otherwise, the whole trail is muddy. I remember a fabulous hike through a swamp, traipsing back behind houses, getting yelled at by grumpy old men, barked at by dogs, and climbing up and down these hillocks of compost mud, like sand dunes, but with trees and mangroves growing out of the tops.
When I was sixteen, I went with the church youth group camping in the Ocala National Forest near Alexander Springs. It was near dark when we arrived, but we built a big fire - and we needed it because it got quite cold. I was in a tent with four other girls and we finally gave up even trying to sleep at about five a.m., because we just weren't warm enough. After the bath house run, I lead a small group on a hike in a meadow where we found thousands of animal tracks. I had never seen so many! We saw deer, squirrel, raccoon, and a dog-like print that may have been fox. We visited the spring, but it was far too cold to swim. And I think we headed home after that! I don't think our leaders wanted to stay out another night in that cold! I don't even remember the church-y stuff we did, just the inadequacy of clothing on that freezing night.
However, it won't be that cold where we are going. And we will get to look for the 'super moon rise'. I also hope my bug dope will deter the mosquitos.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

some advice from midlife

I have been trying to clean out my house and divest myself of some of the acquired detritus of living with mixed success. One of the things I re-purposed was my basalt hot stone massage stones.

Because it is no use owning massage stones when no one is willing to give you a hot stone massage. If you have to pay someone to do it, may as well make them use their own damn stones.

So the stones are as of this moment solidifying in cement to become garden path stones. They should work quite well in their new life.

There is no reason to own two sewing machines.

Another one of my little gems of wisdom. I must get that posted onto freecycle, where someone will want it. Another thing about freecycle (where cheap bastards WANT those digital TV converter boxes all the fucking time), why say you want something, and never come and get it?!? Okay, not everyone does that, but I got stood up once, and there are always reoffers for the same stuff because the donors get stood up, week after week.

Here's another gem: if you suspect your daughter is too young for a sleepover, you are probably right.

Mine had a meltdown last night because her sticker tore. Now I suppose, it is showing how comfortable she is in front of her friends and family that she allowed herself to act out, but really, it was just a sticker. I shouldn't have to threaten canceling a sleepover because she cannot pull herself together over a sticker.

So, the organizing is going well. Now I can access all of my scrapbook supplies, and I have a hope of completing a few projects. Before, since I couldn't find everything let alone get to it, the idea was overwhelming. The trouble I have now, is that it is so much fun to get rid of stuff, that its like a hobby in itself.

Now, just have to order those cruise photos...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

why can't I keep my dining table clean?

I know some people use the table they eat off of as a flat filing cabinet, but I am afraid that only begins to describe my dining table abuse. Honestly, I cannot figure out what my problem is! Of course I must place plates of food there. And I even manage to clear them off regularly. Also, the daughter does homework on the dining table, and this amounts to seven pages, but usually in a stack, with pencils, erasers, scissors, glue, crayons, and the list of spelling words. That should be manageable, right? THen there is the mail, and man, does it pile up. I know I should touch each piece of paper only once, but who wants to pay bills the day they come in? No, I stack them and pay them in a bunch. Then there are the coupons. Clip clip and stack on the table. The books to read pile up until I move them. Then there are the little project stacks, and the rental movies, and before you know it there is no place to put the plates. I know a desk is the proper place for most of these papers and projects, but every desk I own is already covered with papers and projects and it just never ends or all gets done, nor does it even get filed discretely away. How does one declutter their life?