Friday, February 20, 2015

Spring Fever 2015

Caught this robin in the act of stealing my dead grass for his nest last year.  The dirty bird!
I've got it pretty bad, I guess.  Spring Fever.  I know it's bad because after work today, as I sat in my car preparing to go home, I saw a flock of small birds feeding on the ground near my car.  I tried my damnedest to make those juncos into robins.  But, in the end, I realized my error and rather sheepishly went on my way taking solace in the knowledge that I had not jumped up and down shouting, "Look at the robins!" as I was tempted to do.

When I got home, I was greeted as per usual by two overly excited dogs, my dear husband, and the latest in seed catalog offerings from Burpee and Gurney's.

There is little this time of year, save spotting that first robin, that can match the joy inspired by the brightly colored covers of my beloved seed catalogs.  I fear the day when they all finally go completely electronic and I won't be able to leaf through the pages at my leisure circling all the things I must get for my garden this year or next.  It's an annual rite that I relish greatly...almost as much as the gardening itself.

This year is no exception.  After my husband retired to bed complaining of a vague sense of illness, I sat and perused my catalogs by lamplight.  So many seeds; so little space.

But the thing that caught my eye was not a seed, but a shrub.  A blueberry shrub.  You might remember that a couple years ago I purchased two Top Hat blueberry shrubs from one catalog or another.  They do, in fact, survive the winters here in central Nebraska; but, only just.  I have yet to see a single blossom much less a fruit on either of the bushes I planted.  Seems Top Hat just isn't really hardy enough for my neck of the woods.  You would think that a shrub developed in Michigan would do well here.  Not so much.  It doesn't die, but it does winter kill back so badly that it never really recovers over the summer.

Enter Dwarf Northsky Blueberry.  I am so excited.  This shrub stays small, although not as small as the Top Hat variety and the hardiness zones are 3-7 instead of the 5-7 of Top Hat.  I can hardly wait to plunk down my cash and get the order put in.  According to the literature available, the Northsky does well in containers and I found several images of purported Northsky bushes growing comfortably in half barrel containers.  I will probably not grow them in containers though.  No, I have a spot in mind if I can convince my ailing husband of the perfection of that particular location for blueberry culture.
Not my picture...found this one on google.  Nice shot though.

I do love blueberries.  The first batch of jam I ever made and canned was blueberry.  Now that I think of it, that was a very long time ago.  At least twenty years.  I'd say I'm due for a second batch.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Depths of Despair and Other Challenging Holes

Today is the last day of my most recent string of vacation days.  I find myself in an bit of a quandary of what to do.

Once again, I spent the bulk of my time off visiting in Colorado with family although it was primarily my Mom I went to see.  This meeting with her is bittersweet in so many ways and is a story for another day when I have the luxury of distance in time.  I will only say here that this trip was at once possibly the worst and most likely the best trip out to see Mom I've ever had.

But enough of that for now.

Today's dilemma, as is common with me on the final day of any vacation time I've ever taken, is how to force myself back into the real world and my life.  'Force' sounds dramatic, doesn't it?  But that is what I have to do.  I have to force myself.  Because, when I'm off work, I'm completely off.  I don't think about it.  I don't dream about it.  I don't (often) wonder how things are going back at the lab.  For me, vacation has always been about being absent from the stresses of my life.  Or as absent as I can be.

I've been milling about the house today enjoying the fact that I was able to lounge in bed and watch not one but two episodes of a favorite TV program before I even got up to feed the dogs.  Those poor dogs. How they must suffer.  I have managed to make my bed the most comfortable bed I've ever had and I am loathe many days to leave it.  Especially lately.

Not too long ago I wrote a blog piece about depression and how people don't understand it unless they've been there and done that.  I am subject to seasonal depression as well as a generalized depression that seems to strike randomly.  I've had people offer me medications, meditations, and baptism in their particular flavor of religion.  I've had people offer me a hand up out of that hole with so many strings attached that the hole looked safer.  I believe in my heart that they all mean well. I am grateful to have so many caring people in my life.

The offers of assistance have happened so frequently lately that I decided it's time I pull myself out of this hole.  But it's hard.  So hard.  The gravity in here is more intense than anywhere else on the planet.  The inertia is solidly in place.  But it's happening.  Slowly.  It began with a gift from my Mother.

My Mom and I share a passion for bracelets.  I don't wear them often anymore since I spend so much time at work in the lab or the garden and I fear damaging or losing them.  But I do frequently wear a watch.  The one I usually wear is inexpensive and functional with a Velcro band.  I have never seen it as a piece of jewelry.  Just a tool.  Among many other things, my Mom gave me five of her watches that she said no longer worked.  I suspected that all they really needed was a new battery.

So I took my favorite of the bunch to a shop and had a new battery installed.  The second hand came back to life and the clerk set the time for me and handed it back.  I paid the lady and put the watch on my arm.  I stood at the counter and looked at the seconds ticking by.  Right there I was struck with a realization that my Mom had given me more than just a pretty watch.  The gift went deeper than that even if she didn't realize it.

She had given me the same gift she's given me all her life.  Time.  Over and over she's been there for me supporting and cheering me on and propping me up when I stumble all the while handing me the tools that I need to catch myself and cheer myself on and stand up for myself and pick myself up off the floor after dragging myself out of the depths of despair.  Maybe she doesn't know what she did just then when she handed me that watch.  I suspect she does.  But, it doesn't really matter.

I know.

I remember my first watch.  My parents gave it to me when I was ten.  I remember my Dad telling me that a watch was a big responsibility and to treat it with special care. It was a Timex on a wide leather band that was dyed white.  I was told that because I am right handed, I should wear it on my left arm which I tried for awhile.  In the end, though, I chose to wear it on my right arm and I still do.

I'm such a rebel.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#@%#@$@# Winter Wonderland

I want to preface this with an apology to all those East coast folks suffering through yet another blast of winter with snow storms dropping totals measured in feet rather than inches.  I am sorry.  But, I hate this shit.

It's been snowing here since late yesterday afternoon.  The weather peeps had been predicting various amounts of snow for these here parts over the last week ranging from less than an inch to more than eight.  I listened to wind howl and the snow hit the side of the house last night during my many and frequent bouts of wakefulness and I knew the accumulation was going to be towards the deeper end of those predictions.

I spent this morning bumbling around the house in my pajamas and slippers sipping coffee and teasing the dogs. I was goofing around on facebook reading the status updates from people extolling the virtues of the new-fallen snow. 

You know who are you.

I peeked outside from time to time to watch it snow and blow.  Stepped out briefly to reload the bird feeder and sprinkle seed on the ground for my junco, sparrow, and cardinal friends.  I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to take a new profile picture for facebook.

As you can see, they are all of equivalent badness.  So I made a bad collage framed in one of my favorite colors.  I tried to tag myself in the pictures but I discovered that facebook won't let you tag yourself more than once in a 'picture'...go figure.  I eventually chose the one in the lower left hand pane as the least bad of the bunch.  A photographer I ain't.  I am also not photogenic.  I'm over it. 

I spent a goodly amount of time editing the photos and it was then I discovered this in the background of one of them:

Mr. Wiggles says, "You're trying to trick me!"
I have the only dog in the world who will actively hide from the camera.  He is the king of the anti-photo bomb.  I kind of feel like I photo-bombed him.  This hit me as so funny, I may have ruptured something important laughing at him.

Eventually, I ran out of ways to screw around and had to face the unnerving task of seeing just how badly my car was buried.

After having found my boots and having donned my warmest winter weather gear (that I could find anyway), I trekked out to the porch and took a gander at the snow up close.  It's really white.  And cold.  And deep.  Knee deep in places.  No matter how well you tuck your pants into your boots, the snow will get in there and make your socks wet and uncomfortable.

But that's okay.  I didn't really notice the wet socks because the wind was freezing my glasses to the bridge of my nose.  Then I noticed that the lenses in said glasses were going so dark so fast that I began to wonder if I might be having a stroke or if perhaps my retinas were detaching at exactly the same rate in both eyes simultaneously.  Then the lenses fogged up to the point where I was completely unable to see through them at all.

*sigh*  Dammit.

Peering over the top of my glasses, I trudged through the knee deep drifts over to where I thought my car might be.  I was able to make out the general shape of the vehicle through the snow adhering to the sides and I began to sweep the snow from the car with my arm.  The snow was at least six inches deep on the hood.

I fired up the remote start from just outside the driver's door and continued sweeping snow off so I could open the driver's side door and turn the defroster on the full blast 'inferno from hell' setting.  The door was only stuck a little and I managed to NOT get a boatload of snow inside the car.  I allowed the car to run while I finished clearing the snow from the windows and hood.  Then, I turned and looked back the way I had come and began to ponder the situation. 

Way back last summer during the heat of July, we bought a little electric snow blower on clearance for a remarkable price.  I was thinking maybe I could try it out when the sound of the wind in the neighbor's 80 foot tall pine tree caught my ear. I stood and watched it sway vigorously in the gusty air.  Behind me, I could hear the wind rattling the empty branches of assorted deciduous trees down the street.  The wind was in my face and I was being pelted with tiny shards of ice.

I looked over at the car puttering quietly in the snow and I looked back at the sidewalk with its knee-deep drifts.

There was only one thing for it.

I hit the kill switch and locked the car up.

I went back in the house like any sane human being would.
The view from my inside my front door.