Saturday, July 18, 2015

telepathic weather control

KyLady feels a bit guilty for being happy about rain in her last post.  Even though she knows that wishing for nasty weather doesn’t cause it, she was truthfully glad that the weather sucked the whole first half of the month.  The consequence of all that rain was flooding which destroyed lives and homes in the eastern part of my fair Kentucky.  I love these hills but flash floods are treacherous.
 
The sun finally peaked out from behind a thick blanket of clouds Thursday afternoon.  By the time I got off work, there were no clouds in sight and the air was cool and calm.  Since I have no grading to do just now, I loaded up my kayak and skedaddled out to Greenbo Lake.  I wanted to go to the river, but was concerned that it might still be at flood stage – muddy, with garbage and giant limbs floating all over, and perhaps a swift current which would make paddling up river too much work.  Greenbo is the closest lake to my house - 22 minutes from our driveway to the marina.    

Greenbo was beautiful, just like silk.  The sky and trees reflected as clearly as a mirror, and I could sit on the water and not drift anywhere…the water and air were that still.  BUT...of course there’s a but…there was a church group of teens out there – like 40 or so loud-mouthed hyper kids in canoes and kayaks.  It was happy noise at least, but I wanted the silence when nobody is out there.  There were also people fishing, picnicking, hiking, biking, and boating all over the place.  It was the wrong place to go to get away from civilization and humanity.

Greenbo Lake


One of my succulents, the one Erin gave me that inspired my succulent garden, finally gave up.  It was not healthy from the get-go; it had been terribly overwatered at the store and never recovered.  Anyway, I replaced it and added another specimen…along with another rock and a piece of driftwood.  The wood is a bit too big, but I like it.  Perhaps someday I’ll move it all to a bigger container and it’ll be just the right size.

Succulent garden 2.0

Miss Molly found nothing to nibble on and has no appreciation for succulents.

All this rain has brought many fungi to life in the woods where I walk Miss Gracie.  Toadstools are kind of creepy and mysterious…they just pop up unexpectedly.  Some are deadly poisonous. I’ve oftentimes wondered if the soil has something to do with how they are shaped or what color they are, or are those characteristics completely determined by the spores that are their seeds?  I should do some research on that, and then I’ll know.     



I've never seen anything like this before.  Maybe it's extraterrestrial.


      

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

shrew fodder

KYLady is grateful for the lousy weather this week.  The 3-day weekend was delightful, though the weather was dreadfully sucky.  Thunderstorms or threat-of-storms all three days kept her off the golf course and out of her beloved kayak.  So now it’s back to “the grind” and GOOD!!  The weather continues to suck which is OK because KYLady will have no free time at all until Thursday evening.  Even then (Thursday evening), she has much catching up.  The KYLady homestead has fallen into a state of complete despair.  As primary house-slave, KYLady has an unimaginable number of tasks waiting to be done.  What she really needs is a wife and handyman. 

That statement causes me to wonder, in same-sex marriage with two women, do they share the chores or does one assume the house-slave role (like in typical marriages)?  As my readers may have surmised by all my wining and bitching, Someone does not do housework.  At least, he does no housework without a significant amount of bribery, shaming, and nagging on my part.  

Someone will perform a task if I:
  • 1.       Start the task for him
  • 2.       Give him explicit performance instructions (i.e. how to)
  • 3.       Explain expected outcome in rich detail
  • 4.       Define the scope of the task and timeline for completion
  • 5.       Repeatedly express gratitude during his performance of said task so that he does not lose interest before the task is completed
  • 6.       Reward him afterwards with some form of junk food
  • 7.       Do all cleanup after the task (such as put away cleaning supplies and tools)

Honestly, it’s hardly worth my effort.  It’s as if getting him to perform a task is another task for me.  I have tried to create a scheduled task for him, such as…”Honey, I’d like for you to vacuum the stairs once a week for me.”  It just doesn’t happen without reminders and retraining…and that whole idea that I must always start the task is a showstopper.  Of course, he will say, “I don’t see why this is such a big deal for you.”  Right, so why is it always such a big deal for him?



Once when our youngest girls were still toddlers, we went for a weekend trip to a lake where we went swimming and boating.  Long story short, we got home late at night.  We were all tired.  Someone and I had to go to work the next morning.  We got home, I put the little girls to bed, then together Someone and I unloaded everything from the car.  We had a large, clear plastic garbage bag that was full of wet towels, swimsuits, and wet shorts and tee shirts…everything we had used or worn on the boat that day.  I was too tired to start laundry that night, so I set the bag in the laundry room with plans to start the laundry first thing in the morning (before work).  Off to bed, I overslept and did not start the laundry as intended the next morning.

Well, as it were, I got home from work that evening with intentions to begin washing all those wet clothes.  Unbeknownst to me until I got home, Someone had taken the day off work because he was too tired and could take off.  I went to the laundry room to begin my chores and the bag was gone.  I asked Someone if he had done laundry or moved the bag for some reason.  He looked completely bewildered, like…what on this earth was I talking about?  After brief discussion, we concluded that Someone had set the bag out for the garbage men to haul away that morning.  The towels and clothes were forever gone.  Then things got ugly.  Someone had a new shirt and shorts in that bag.  One of the girls had a new swimsuit in that bag.  All our beach towels were in the bag too.    

Someone said to me, “I can’t believe WE were so stupid that WE put the dirty laundry in a garbage bag and set it beside the garbage can.”

I said, “It was a clear bag, and the bag was actually setting beside the washing machine, not the trash can.  This wouldn’t have happened if only WE had observed that the CLEAR bag was full of very heavy, colorful cloth items and not normal trash.”

Someone rebutted, “Well, WE should have known better than to put a garbage bag of any kind anywhere near the garbage can on garbage day.”

Oh man!  He didn’t (but yes he did)!

I let it fly, “Since WE have never offered to take garbage out in over 4 years of marriage, WE didn’t think WE had any awareness of when garbage day was.”


And that was the end of the matter.  I’m pleased to report that Someone is doing better in recent years with setting the garbage cans out for the garbage truck without me prompting him.  It is a task that he now takes initiative for and does…about 10% of the time.    

Thursday, July 2, 2015

catching up

If there’s any one thing KYLady is certain of in this universe, it’s that she does not function well without sleep.  She gets forgetful, accident-prone, short-tempered, and dyslexic.  She did not get enough sleep last week.  Returning from vacation to leap back into the arms of her job while keeping up with part-time teaching jobs while trying to catch up some house work while preparing to replace her washer and dryer (which necessitated a flurry of extra cleaning chores where new appliances would be installed) resulted in injury.  It was a badly-pinched thumb (bloody mess), nothing horrible, but the timing was damned unhandy as such things are when one is in a rush.  Not to worry, old KYLady’s thumb will be good as new in a few days (other than a black thumbnail).  Right now it’s incredibly sore so she spends lots of extra time trying not to bump it on anything.  You could say KyLady is not very handy lately.


          
Things are finally back to the normal level of “caught up”, which in reality is the normal level of “completely behind with everything”.  Someone wanted us to go play golf together.  I would have, but my sore thumb is having no part of swinging a golf club.  No golf, so Gracie gets more walks and I'm getting papers graded sooner.  This coming Sunday concludes my professorship for the three      8-week courses I began recently (almost 8 weeks ago).  The university renewed my contract for three more courses; two of them are new to me.  This pleases me immensely.  I do hope I get to really change careers before I die of old age.  Sometimes, it seems completely impossible.     
  
Last Sunday, Someone and I took Miss Gracie for a long hike in the woods.  It was a fabulous day for hiking – clear blue sky and cool air.  It seemed more like late September than almost July.  We walked a trail that runs along cliffs overlooking a wide creek that has cut a deep gorge through Carter County.  Someone likes most of the trail but is paranoid about getting too close to the cliff edges.  He kept scolding Gracie and pulling her back when she wanted to go sniffing that side of the trail.  I offered to handle her but he wanted us to hurry along and get passed that part of the trail that worries him (I like to linger up there where the view is so remarkable).  The trail is not that close to the edge in most areas, but it’s a long way down.  I would not want to take small children hiking there. 

Gracie pulling Someone along the trail

Pine grove - my favorite part of the trail
Pine canopy overhead

The laurel is blooming now and lovely.  Now is the time to get my kayak out on Grayson Lake - the laurel cascades over the cliffs along the lake.  When it’s blooming, it’s magic.  To me, laurel looks like rhododendron, but the blooms are less vibrant.  Perhaps soon my thumb will be well enough that I can load my kayak into the van.  I got an almost-close up view of laurel on our hike.   

Wild laurel

      
laurel bloom


Thank the good Lord in heaven that this is the eve of a three-day weekend.  Saturday is Independence Day, a paid holiday, so I get Friday off instead.  I think it’s supposed to rain all weekend, but I don’t care.  I’ll get things done around the house and maybe visit Sarah and….sleep in.  It’s one of my favorite of all things to do - go to bed at night and not set an alarm clock.  Of course, Molly usually does not permit me the privilege of sleeping in too long.  She likes to be fed early…like at least by 6 AM.  Damn cat.  She will not take no for an answer when it comes to feeding time.  So when I can no longer ignore her howls and claws, I get up and feed her, then crawl back into bed.  
It’s W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L !!!

Feed me.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

return to reality

Things are back to usual after spending 10 days at the beach with Someone for his annual full-family vacation.  His parents, siblings, and all their kids come every summer and stay in the same beach house.   The girls have jobs at the mall this summer and did not come along.  It’s easier for me that they did not come.  They stayed home and took care of the pets, flowers and garden, and the house.  No doubt they had much (MUCH) more fun here with us out of the way and their friends over every night than they would have had with family in their faces all day and evening long.
 
Someone is still a bit miffed that our girls did not come on this vacation last year or this year.  My thinking is that thank heavens they have jobs and want to earn their own money.  Someone’s siblings’ kids are the same age or older than ours.  They are all still living with their parents and not working at all.  Perhaps they will wind up as permanent residents living off their parents forever.
 
The beach weather was unseasonably hot this year.  Every day except for the last one was completely cloudless and about 95F; the heat index was well over 100F every day.  Such heat is too much for Someone’s parents who are now 80 years old.  The ocean water was warm, but I didn’t get out in it much this year.  There were numerous shark sightings while we were there.  A few miles north, two teens had arms bitten off in separate incidents about an hour apart.  Sharks were not what kept me off the beach, it was the intense sun.  Bright sun is a migraine trigger for me, and having already been treated for skin cancer twice, I decided to just avoid the beach between 10AM to 6PM.
 
Every morning and evening, I went for long walks on the beach.  It’s a nice time to go when there are fewer people out.  Someone went with me sometimes.  We picked up many sharks’ teeth.  Everyone picks up shark teeth.  Sometimes they are tiny things, but sometimes they are big and scary.  It’s a thrill to find a big scary one.  When I look out over that gigantic expanse of ocean water, I feel entirely insignificant – like I am only a speck on this huge planet.  Well, let’s be real, I am.

Some stuff I picked up one morning
I missed Gracie every time I saw paw prints
Even in the very early morning, people are always on the beach

As soon as we stepped through the door from our long drive home from the beach, the girls informed me that the clothes dryer was no longer functioning.  It’s old and has had several repairs already, so it was time to buy a new one ASAP.  I decided to replace the washer too.  I saved money by bundling the purchases.  It seems wasteful to replace a washer that is still working, but it had been repaired once, had a sensor going bad, and I’ve never been all that pleased with it.  Even though it’s a large capacity \ high efficiency washer, it never did a great job with very dirty or heavy items like rugs and muddy jeans.  We hadto run heavy things through twice to get them clean.  The new appliances were delivered today and I’m already using them.  THEY ARE WONDERFUL!!

Another big expense - I had the paint on my van touched up while we were gone.  The old van had some big major rust patches over and on the doors, on the roof, and especially on the hood.  The body shop exceeded my expectations.  It looks brand new - for $1200.  I was hesitant to invest that much into it (a 2004 model with 148K miles on it), but it got a new transmission 18 months ago and it has been very reliable since that was put in.  I’m living in style now – nice ride and cleaner clothes. 
  
I’m grateful to have a good-paying job.  Even though I’m completely burnt out and miserable, it pays the bills.  Money solves problems.  Well, usually.  Going back to work after 10 days off was a real bitch slap.

The highlight of last weekend was watching and hearing Sarah perform in Maysville Saturday night.  One of my favorite things about attending her performances has always been that I can mingle with the audience (where few people know me) and listen to what people are saying about her and her music.  The group last Saturday sounded the best I’ve ever heard them…perhaps it was the acoustics in the old theater that enhanced the sound so much.  Sarah and Thomas are releasing a new CD next month.  I can’t wait to hear it!! 

Sarah and Thomas (and Jesse and Ruth)


Monday, June 1, 2015

catalpa massacre

I went back to the Little Sandy River yesterday morning with my kayak.  It was early morning (well, early for me), on a breezy day with big puffy white clouds floating around.  Paddling up river was a bit hard because I was headed into the wind and against the current.  Once I got away from the mouth of the river where the water is wider and shallower, the hills blocked the wind somewhat and it was easier going. 

The black locust trees along the river have shed their blooms, and now the honeysuckle, blackberries, and catalpa trees make the river smell as magical as it looks.  Thick patches of honeysuckle and blackberry briars grow all along the shoreline.  The blackberries are thick with blooms.  The catalpa trees are also blooming.  Branches that overhang the water drop their blossoms into the water.  The current carries them downstream.  I began seeing blossoms scattered all across the water at least a half mile before I saw the first tree.  The blossoms are waxy and look fresh on the water, but when you pull one out, it wilts in a matter of minutes. 

Single bloom of catalpa tree

Branch of catalpa tree
Blackberries in bloom

My great grandfather kept several catalpa trees on his farm.  He cut them back severely every fall so that the main trunk was only about 5 feet tall.  In the spring, the trees would grow branches straight out from the top edge of the trunk.  It was really an abomination of nature to see these poor trees, but he had his reasons for doing this.  The branches were very straight and sturdy, and they rotted slowly.  He used them for bean poles.  Kentucky Wonder are the pole beans he always grew: they are prolific producers and you can still buy the seeds even today.  I liked picking pole beans much more than bush beans because I didn’t have to bend over to harvest them.  My older brother picked the ones I couldn’t reach, so we worked together as a team.  Actually, we were supposed to be a team of three, but little brother was always too busy catching bugs, toads, garter snakes, and other such creepy-crawlies.

When the blooms drop off a catalpa tree, long beans develop.  Sometimes people call these bean trees.  Some of the kids at school called them cigar trees.  

catalpa with "beans"


What I remember most about catalpa trees is that they attract catalpa worms, which are really large, fat, green caterpillars.  My older brother had a Daisy BB rifle.  Although we were forbidden to shoot at living things (like birds and squirrels) or trains and cars with it, nobody objected to us shooting catalpa worms.  We shot them, execution style, for the ones on the lower part of the tree.  Sometimes we shot the worms clean off the leaves, but usually part would hang onto the leaf and its guts would drip to the grass below.  It’s really gross to think about, but we took turns doing it without any regard for the poor worms or to the moths they might have become.

catalpa caterpillar becomes a drab, furry brown moth 



I can hardly bring myself to kill anything anymore, other than wasps and flies that get into the house, or mosquitos.  I don’t like being the terminator.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

honeysuckle reminiscence

Because yesterday was Memorial Day, it was a glorious three-day weekend for me - the stuff that retirement dreams are made of.  It is a remarkable luxury to wake up in the morning of my own free will and not by an alarm clock, or garbage truck, or woodpecker on the gutter, or Molly scratching my face to be fed, or Someone flipping on the TV.  For two mornings in a row, I got to wake up on my own volition.  It was marvelous!

We had three beautiful days, but sadly, I didn’t take my kayak out.  There was just not enough time.  The weekend melted away and is only a distant memory now.
  
One thing I did do was drive over and take in an afternoon with Sarah.  We had another marvelous adventure together!  This time, we visited an Amish greenhouse not far from where she lives.  The greenhouse had Amish girls running it.  Amish people are interesting because they are…well…different.  At least based on their appearance, I assume they are different.  Perhaps behind closed doors, they are just like the rest of us – cussing, drinking, and watching trash on TV.  Visiting a greenhouse is one of my most favorite things to do.  Visiting a greenhouse with Sarah who also loves greenhouses is nothing short of AWESOME!  We wandered through, taking our time, and making plans for our future gardens.  We bought a cartload of lovely plants.   

We almost bought roses but we mutually talked ourselves out of them.  As soon as we started discussing about how to care for roses (spray them with fungicide after every rain, and watch out for those Japanese beetles)…we both had second thoughts.  Sarah wants a Peace rose and I want a Mr. Lincoln rose.  Peace roses are beautiful in color, but Mr. Lincoln (a standard looking red rose) smells divine.    Someday when I have time to tend a rose garden, I will find a place and plant a bed of tea roses.  In my younger days, I used to study catalogs of roses and drool all over the glossy photos.  Sadly, I’ve killed at least six rose bushes in my life (including a Peace and a Mr. Lincoln).  

Beautiful Peace rose
    

For myself, I bought a full flat of zinnias.  I set these out yesterday afternoon in the corner of our vegetable garden where they will be somewhat protected from deer by a tall fence.  These count as my cutting garden; meaning, I should have beautiful zinnias to cut for bouquets to fill our house with their beautiful colors.  In theory, yes.  The reality is that I just tend to leave them growing for the butterflies and humming birds. The only ones I cut are the dead blooms so they will put out new ones.  Oh well.  Zinnias do well with neglect…my kind of flower. 

A few weekends ago, Erin and Emily were off to the mall.  They wouldn’t tell me what they were shopping for, so I knew they were going to get me a Mother’s Day present.  I told them if they had to get me something, to make it something small, like a plant.  Erin asked me what kind of plant I wanted.  Before I could reply, she asked (with a rather sinister gleam in her eyes), “How about a nice SUCK-u-lent?”  It struck me as funny, the way she said it, so I said, “Yes!  A succulent would be awesome.”  Lo and behold, on Mother’s Day, Erin presented me with a succulent…I don’t know its variety.  All it said on the tag was succulent-don’t over water-give it sun.

Honestly, I’ve really never had an affinity for succulents or cacti.  But as a new owner, I was compelled to research them a bit to give my new plant a decent chance.  After watching some YouTube videos about succulent gardens, I wanted to make one.  At the Amish Greenhouse, they had a whole table of succulents, and they sold a variety of containers perfect for making succulent gardens.  I bought three more succulent specimens, and assembled my little garden Saturday morning.  I love it!  The one Erin gave me is the lighter-green one straight across from the big rock.  There is space for another, but I will take my time to find it.      

My succulent garden


Someone and I took Miss Gracie for several long walks over the weekend.  You might remember I said that black locust trees smell more wonderful than anything on this planet.  The locusts have shed their blooms and now the honeysuckle has taken over.  Whereas the locust trees are like sweet perfume, honeysuckle is heavy and utterly intoxicating.  Maybe the difference is because the locust blooms are mostly higher up in the air, whereas honeysuckle vines start at the ground and grow up to choke the bushes and trees.  They grow along every fence row too.  The scent is so strong that sometimes you can even taste it. 

Honeysuckle

During my summers in the country at St Paul, Kentucky, my great grandparents, grandmother, great aunts, and great uncles sat outside in the yard in the late evenings until time for bed.  There was no air conditioning so the inside of the house was a bit stuffy and too warm.  My brothers and I would catch lightening bugs, or find things to do in the yard that didn’t bother the old folks.  The farm was near the mouth of a hollow, Scaffold Lick hollow.  I’m not sure how it got its name, but “lick” in any name implies there was a source of salt back in those hills somewhere.  What I remember most about those evenings was the scent of honeysuckle.  A breeze came out from the hollow when the sun dropped below the horizon, carrying with it that lovely smell.  The windows and doors were left open (with screens, of course).  By morning, the house was cool.  The scent of honeysuckle lingered until mid-morning. 


My trip to Louisiana has been postponed.  Thank you, God and Jesus.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Uzumaki

Old KYLady does way too much whining, so she will try not to whine today.  Last Saturday, I got out and played golf on a gorgeous afternoon.  On Sunday morning, the kayak and me went out on the Little Sandy River for a new adventure.  Adventure is a very good remedy when things start to spiral.  Things have been spiraling lately…lots of things.  There are just too many things lately; my “thing limits” have been exceeded much too much too much in recent weeks.  Even two fun things over the weekend was not enough to slow the spiral, in fact, taking those hours off seem to have only contributed to the spiral.



I had never been on the Little Sandy, but I’ve driven over it more times than I can count.  Many times I’ve looked down from the bridge and thought about putting my kayak on it.  There is a boat ramp less than 15 minutes from home very near where the Little Sandy empties into the Ohio River; super-convenient.  Those first minutes on the river were not so pleasant.  The highway traffic is noisy (the marina is right off the highway).  As I paddled toward the bridge, lookout geese began honking to warn the others I was approaching.  Swallows came out of their mud nests built in neat rows under the bridge.  They dive-bombed me (I was grateful that none pooped on me) until I was well passed the bridge.  Under the bridge, geese were in the water all around me and also watching from high above as they stood all along the concrete pillars that support the bridge.  I looked up and felt very outnumbered.  Geese can be mean birds.  I wondered if they might come after me, like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie (The Birds).  They all honked at me – their noise and the traffic noise was deafening. 
  
On the other side of the bridge, the shore was lined with camp sites of people sitting around playing loud music, some fishing, some drinking beer at 9 in the morning (but who am I to judge?).  Then on up the river, it got quiet and lovely, other than some debris from recent flooding and farmers plowing fields.  I paddled past a dock where a man was just pulling a giant fish out of the water.  He had no reel for the line – so he just pulled this big creature out hand-over-hand.  The river must be very deep there with all that line, but finally the fish was out and flopping around on his dock just in time for me to see it.  I saw several duck families and geese families along the way, and two blue heron which are beautiful and exotic (not as fancy as peacocks, but pretty awesome birds nonetheless).  On my trip back down the river, the man who caught the fish was now cooking it on his grill right there on the dock.  He called to me and asked me if I wanted to join him for breakfast.  Tempting, but I declined and thanked him.

Little Sandy River - mirror of tranquility
Some interesting things to see along the way...

  
The classes for my new job are up and running.  I’m already heavily involved.  It’s great so far, because I’m less like a teacher and more like a course facilitator whose job is to answer questions, grade papers, and keep things moving in the right direction.  I hit the ground running, but I wish there had been time for me to at least review the course materials for each of these three classes.  My students are writing papers already and I had to grade one last night without really knowing what the required reading contained.  I am very familiar with the topic of the paper, but I won’t be able to judge whether a student is relying on the assigned literature or free-balling it.  Regarding the paper I evaluated last night, hells yeah he was tots free-balling it.  His only reference was Wikipedia.  

Someone and I will attend Someone’s family’s annual beach vacation in June.  It’s not good timing for me, but I will take off work from my primary job and go to the beach with Someone.  I’m sure we will have fun but it’s a hassle to find a quiet place to work with so many people in one house.  My classes will still be going on so it won’t really be a full vacation from work.  Perhaps there never will be a full vacation from work again for me until I can retire from my primary job.  Someone gets so terribly excited about this vacation.  He is already packed and nagging me to start getting ready (even though we aren’t leaving for more than 4 weeks).  Besides, I have to make another trip to Louisiana for work before then…that’s on my mind much more than vacation.  The girls are not going with us; they will stay home and work, animal sit, and house sit.  I am grateful to have them stay behind so I don’t have to arrange for it.


Anyway, it’s very easy to get caught up into the spiral – the plethora of crap that there’s not enough time for – stuff I should do and want to do, stuff I should do and don’t want to do, stuff I have to do, stuff people expect me to do…lots of stuff.  I’m drowning in stuff.  It’s a lot of balls in the air.  I need more hands and eyeballs.