Summer’s Tail – Kicking and Screaming

It’s still hot like summer, but in many places kids have already gone back to school. Some as early as August 1. Summer is over for them. It’s the tail end for us, and I want to grab on to these last few weeks kicking and screaming as I lick the last bit of salt off my fingers before summer goes away again. My daughter can’t wait for school to start back up. She’s excited to experience her new classes and see more of her friends. I still have unfinished plans and goals and more tomatoes to grow!

We did some fun things this summer. We took a trip to Pittsburgh where I participated in Pinburgh, a pinball tournament. Pinburgh has been around a few years, but this year it was held at a huge new classic video game festival called Replay FX. I brought my daughter because, hello, video games and pinball! And they had other kids’ activities like a velcro wall, giant inflatable obstacle course, and slides. For a video game festival my daughter actually got a lot of exercise!

While Pittsburgh may not bring to mind the typical image of summer vacation paradise, there was much fun and our hotel room had extra niceties that kept us saying, “wow, cool!” This made for a fairly complete vacationy experience.

Our room had a motion sensor foot light (like a night light at the floor that turned on when we stepped out of bed), pull-down individual book lights on each headboard, and in the evening, when we returned exhausted from a full day of game play and activities, the hotel supplied milk and cookies (free of charge for kids 12 and under). It was great!

We had another very mini vacation this past Friday night when we slept over at the National Museum of American History as a Smithsonian Sleepover. Last summer we did this at the Natural History Museum and loved it. There are scads of activities and crafts centered around various exhibitions in the museum. Then folks get to roll out their sleeping bags and camp out under a whale or antique machinery as museum lights are dimmed. Continental breakfast is served in the morning. And it is all so way cool!

Next year my daughter will be too old to do either of these sleepovers (there’s an age limit), and we’re super glad to have done them. I’ve always loved the Natural History Museum with animals and minerals, but I forgot how much fun the American History Museum can be. I feel like we made the kind of memories that can last a lifetime, and I think (I hope) my daughter feels that way too.

Earlier this summer my daughter had camp, so most weeks I had to drop her off in the morning and then run out on my lunch hour to pick her up and drop her off either at home or somewhere else like another camp (from which I’d have to pick her up again later). Most of the camps have been wonderful! She’s learned more music and dance and even cooking.

For me, one or two days of driving at lunchtime isn’t a problem, but week after week gets tiring. Exhausting even. I need some down time, or I start to shut down. On top of it, I fell and injured my knee last March (for crying out loud) and it has been slowly healing. At the beginning of summer it was much better but still painful on a regular basis. Pain is exhausting. (I have much more empathy for folks who live with chronic pain.) I’ve been trying to fit physical therapy exercises into my daily schedule to help my knee heal. Here at the end of summer I finally feel like I can squat to take care of our balcony plants without groaning in pain at the same time.  Long and short of it, instead of writing and blogging more this summer I remained rather unproductive.

These last few morsels of summer I have no plans of driving anywhere at lunchtime — at least nothing major. I may still run occasional shopping errands or drop my daughter off at a friends house and such. But mainly I plan to eat lunch.  I plan to write.

I’ve set goals for myself.  I want more summer fun. Maybe a quick trip to the beach! Maybe tubing. Definitely more swimming. I want more tomatoes to grow! More peppers! I want to write regularly and am setting daily and weekly goals. Really, I want more summer!

Now That I Started

I’ve started half a dozen blog posts since the end of the school year — even more of you count the ones I started in my head. There’s a lot going on — gay marriage is legal, the flag has come down, photos of former planet, former non-planet, now dwarf planet Pluto are streaming in — and I’ve managed to publish exactly zero of the blog posts I started. I can make a lot of excuses as to why. Many of them are legitimate excuses… But I still think I should have been able to manage to publish some with just a wee bit better time management or focus or something

It’s not for lack if topics!  Along with all that stuff in the news, we have a small balcony garden again. Yay! And my daughter has been having fun in Strings camp (kind of like band camp only it’s a day camp for orchestra). Zomagad, I even found Zote laundry soap in flake form instead of bars. 

That whole 10-minutes-of-writing-per-day thing worked well for a while. But I seem to have misplaced my 10 minutes (maybe under a tomato plant).

The one blog entry that I might actually manage to publish is about how I’m not blogging. This one. Which makes exactly zeros cents. I seem to best be able to blog about how I’m not blogging. I need to work on my priorities!

Plus One: 201st Post [insert confetti in my previous post]

As it turns out, the post marking my fifth anniversary on WordPress, Five Years, was also my 200th post on WordPress. If you’re playing along at home, that makes this is my 201st post. [Cue confetti.]

I should have noticed the number when I wrote the 200th post and celebrated then. Acknowledging it here feels a little like missing the train by 1 second – celebrating a milestone plus 1. Happy 51st Anniversary! Happy 200+1! (Boom-chicka par-TAY.)

But plus 1 is good, right? It’s good luck to put an extra candle on a birthday cake. I like having a little more. And I didn’t even manage my Five Year post on the actual fifth anniversary. So it’s kind of like I got a theme goin’ here.

Again this leaves me room for improvement for the 300th post. Or maybe even something else.

I could just celebrate random numbers. I kind of like 222. And 250 is pretty good. Hopefully I won’t miss the 3.1415 Pi Day that’s coming up.

I should get some confetti.

Confessions of a Working Mom

Dear anybody who was unlucky enough to stand too close to me yesterday. Sorry! I skipped my shower. Ran out of time.

I keep trying to get up earlier and earlier, and somehow there seems to be less and less time. So I used my morning for something other than bathing, OK? And I may or may not have skipped my shower the day before too. Who can say? Dry shampoo — you are my new best friend.

I also need to vent a little. Sometimes I get a little annoyed with stay-at-home moms who say they are so busy and have no time. In the past I even had one comment that I never did much. Really? I mean, I’m not saying you don’t do a LOT. I’m not saying that you don’t work hard. You do! Buy let’s try a little comparison.

Stay-at-home moms do: mom stuff, maintain their household, and volunteer stuff.

Working moms, especially work-out-of-the-house moms, do: mom stuff, try really hard to maintain their household, sometimes still manage to do volunteer stuff, and work an entire workweek out of the house.

Let’s say stay-at-home moms have an 80+-hour work week. I know. I know. Some of you would say the job never ends. It is 24-7. And that is true.

But working moms have all that PLUS a 40ish-hour-per-week job on top of it. Sometimes it’s more than 40 hours. And don’t forget drive time. Or the fact that grocery stores will have longer lines when we can be there.

So stay-at-home moms just lop 40+ hours out of the middle of your week where you can’t do any housework and see how that goes. Trust me, you’ll find time for things that you never thought you could do. But there may not always be time for a shower.

And please do not tell me or treat me like I should hire help or quit my job. If i could hire help I would probably not bother with the 40ish-hour-a-week job (at least not as many hours of it).

Don’t get me wrong I really like my job. But it is also necessary.

My “help” comes in the form of a glass of wine at the end of the day. Yesterday, after working, shopping for groceries and Halloween costume supplies, and feeding my family, I was too tired for that glass of wine. Since I missed it last night, I thought about having it when I got up this morning at 4:50 AM — it’s still kind of nighttime, right? I needed to try to put away some groceries that, sadly, did not put themselves away as I slept. That glass of wine will have to wait. I’m pretty darn determined to get that shower in!

I might even wear jewelry to work today. I always try for earrings because I look more professional, and I can put them in my pocket as I leave the door and then pop them on at a stoplight. I have gotten really good at doing a lot of things at stoplights. But necklaces don’t always happen. Necklaces or bracelets with a clasp are even less likely to happen. So pasta necklace with a 30″ inch cord, you are good to go. Unless you get tangled with something else. In which case, sayonara.

Pretty, hand-beaded 16″ necklace and lovely amethyst bracelet with a safety clasp, I am sorry. I know I’ve been neglecting you. I swear I will wear you again. You are beautiful! Always believe that. But I am much more likely to wear necklaces that are long enough that I can just put them over my head. Presto, jewelry!

So yes, stay-at-home moms, you work. You do get busy. I’ll get over the fact that “busy” may include lunch with friends at the local artisan pizza place. I still love you. I appreciate you a lot. I know you volunteer for the kids more than I do. I really hope I didn’t stand too close to any of you yesterday and cause any olfactory discomfort. I could use one of you in our house.

But right now it’s 6:25. My daughter’s alarm is ringing. We need to get going. The time that I’ve used to write this blog entry has been stolen from laundry time and maybe from drinking that glass of wine, but hopefully NOT from the shower. I really NEED that shower.

Upturned Noses and Glasses and Buns

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Upturned Noses which asks:

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

I like to try a lot of different foods, so maybe I’m snobbish about that. I don’t quite understand people who refuse to try something new. “What do you mean you won’t try the eel scaloppine with fried mealworms in peanut butter sauce?”

I can probably be snobbish about tea and maybe mead and some kinds of food. Except that, really, I’ll still drink or enjoy just about any kind.

I adore good tea — perfect jasmine green infused with the scent of actual blossoms, not just added flavoring. That’s snobbery talk right there. A Greener oolong that has matured into a delicate floral or a darker robust oolong from Taiwan. Yum! New Darjeeling you think is great? I’ll try that too.

I like a good basic mead — Chaucer’s the kind we can get at our local Renaissance Festival and elsewhere is certainly enjoyable. Fox Hill Special Reserve which is made with a darker honey has a bit of bitterness and a lot of depth. Some Redstone Mountain Mead can be impressive too. It’s real mead made in small batches — some can be bitter and some wonderful. They even date the batches, so you’ll want to get more of the same date if you like a batch. That’s mead for a mead snob for sure.

Unless I’m allergic, it could poison me, or it’s a dish that exhibits unusual cruelty, I’ll usually try any kind of food. I read about a Japanese dish called Ikizukuri where live fish is sliced and served still moving. I think I’ll avoid that, thanks.

But I do love to taste a variety of new things! I love gourmet dishes that have the perfect balance of flavors, colors, and textures, but I also love hot dogs from gas stations that have been roasting on those metal rollers for hours thus reducing water content and enhancing flavors. You do not know a good hot dog if you turn your nose up at those things. So maybe that’s makes me a hot dog snob. Is it wrong to have a hot dog with my beautiful jasmine tea? Maybe. The darker oolong would probably be better with hot dogs.

Time for a One-way Street

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is One-way Street which asks:

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

Aren’t we already riding a giant time machine of sorts? I mean it’s fairly sequential and analog, but we are moving through time and space – sometimes faster or slower (usually inversely proportional to how much we like where we are). The only difference is that we can’t really skip over chunks of time forward or back. We’re locked into a sequence – now must happen before the future and after the past. Future and past touch at this single point.

I’d have a seriously hard time choosing which I’d want to jump to – the future or the past. Presumably which ever machine I choose means I must stay in the time period it takes me since the directions say that machine goes in only one direction. So I can’t return from wherever or whenever.

I’d not want to go far forward. I might miss my daughter growing up. I don’t want to miss any of that. Too far in the past and I risk the same.

I’d love a time machine that could skip back small amounts of time – a few minutes or hours, seconds even – avoid car accidents, evacuate dangerous areas before earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanos, attacks … Maybe jump back a couple of hours to get more cleaning or organizing done because it always takes longer than I want it to. Always!

Going forward in short spurts seems kind of pointless. What, avoid long lines at airports and amusement parks? Seems like a bit of overkill and a waste of technology.

So OK, I guess I do have my answer. I’d get the time machine that goes back in time, but only use it for super short little trips back. It’s not that I want to live in the past — but it would be nice to have a few do-overs for those times that important mess-ups happen in a matter of seconds.

Bark or Howl at the Moon

Today’s Daily Prompt from the Daily Post asks:

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” — Allen Ginsberg
Do you follow Ginsberg’s advice — in your writing and/or in your everyday life?

I will try to rein in references to Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon. I just saw that on Pop-Up Videos so I can’t get it out of my head when I read “Howl at the Moon.” I almost never watch Pop-up Videos — maybe once a year or less. Not sure how that even happened. I think Dave might have turned it on. A little dose of the 1980s isn’t the worse thing in the world for us. My daughter had no clue why we found it so entertaining. The comment bubbles on Pop-up asked if animals even bark at the moon at all. They concluded that wolves to not and apparently Ozzy was dressed as a wolfman or werewolf, so the video was just wrong. There you have it. Pop-up Science.

Is howling at the moon much different than barking? Does it matter what kind of animal you are? Not all animals bark or howl. Can I just meow at the moon? Maybe howling comes from deeper within than barking. Is it more guttural? Maybe it’s inspired by something more specific — a light, either inner or outer. Glow. I mean any old dog can bark at just about anything, right?

Work? Optional!

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for today, Thursday, August 21, is Work? Optional!

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

How on earth did it get to be August 21 already? I want more summer! With this attitude you might think that if money were out of the equation, I’d stop working. But that wouldn’t be the case. Not exactly anyway. I’d still want to work, but I’d work less.

I want to have more time with my daughter and do fun things with her. Just be there more often even if we’re not specifically doing anything. See more movies. Make more cookies. Craft more crafty projects. Just hang out.

Believe it or not, I want more time to clean and organize my home. While it is mostly windowless STILL, as repairs continue, I continue to be in need of organizing and purging in a dramatic way. I do not enjoy going through and getting rid of things. It always takes me too long, so I don’t get nearly as much done as I should. When I didn’t work full time, I was better at it. Not great, mind you, but better.

But I need my brain to keep moving. I need to get out and do something. Not just a bunch of fun things, but a job with a purpose. So I’d keep working at something even if money were no object. I feel like work keeps people young. Not overwork, but just getting out and doing. Having a goal and purpose.

Horse Sense? Extreme Maneuvers, A Short Story

Please check out my latest story, Extreme Maneuvers, on Enchanted Spark.

This was written for Enchanted Spark’s last Photo Flare Contest. It’s a flash fiction piece based on two lovely photos which you can see on that site along with the story. While there, check out some if the other awesome stories, photos that inspired them, and blog posts.

At the time I wrote the story, I did not know if the horse photo was of actual Chincoteague Ponies. The photos are posted without captions.

Also known as Assateague horses, Chincoteague Ponies are a feral breed that live wild on Assateague Island. Residing on the East Coast, a few hours drive from that area, I have seen them before but not as often as I’d like.

They’re a relatively short horse and have round bellies due to the high salt content of their diet of salt marsh grasses. To offset the salt, they drink twice as much water as other breeds.

The story was inspired largely by the photo of the two ponies, but also by a water fall image that was one of several from which we could choose. It looks a lot like sections of Great Falls. I’ll have to ask where that was taken. In my story it features prominently in Wilber’s mind.

I’ve really enjoyed Enchanted Spark contests. It’s been great for me to have a goal and object of focus to help move things along – to help me propel a story into being. Thanks, Melinda and Julie and Enchanted Spark!

Catch Up, It’s Not Just A Condiment

Well, we all have those moments when plans go out the window, right? Right? I felt like my brain is moving at half speed which means everything around me seems to be going twice as fast. Summers always seem to do that!

We still have a couple if weeks before school starts again, but I already can’t believe how fast the summer has gone by. There’s so much I want to do! I’ll never get to all of it. It’s a bit like my blog entries for the past couple of weeks. Still not done. I am trying to write regularly, but a few days were missed and others strictly ten-minute writing. Though there were a few spurts of productivity in there.

My daughter has an evening camp this week called, Zombie Ranger Camp. I’ll drive her after work. Because it’s a bit of a drive, I’m planning to stay near the camp for a couple of days and find a spot to write. There’s an excellent burger joint near the camp. Super juicy burgers! Add ketchup and maybe I’ll be able to do some catch up writing. If the burgers are too juicy perhaps I’ll have to try for a Starbucks. They have condiments too, right. And I hear a lot of people write and bring computers and such to Starbucks.

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