Sunday, April 29, 2007

The not-a-shower shower

I have dirt under my fingernails. I planted sunflowers and beans and flowers, and I gave away some plants (thank goodness--my windowsill was overcrowded--plus I got a couple of nice ones in return), and I finished the herb bed, but today was not really a day about gardening. (Although it was a gardening day. It was gorgeous outside, warm but not too warm--I've still got the kitchen window open.) Today was our not-a-shower party.

We spent the first part of the weekend cleaning and organizing, which I was really grateful for. I hate it when my house is dirty and disorganized, and part of living with Eric is living with dirt and disorganization because I'm trying to, you know, compromise and stuff. So it was nice to get the dust off the shelves and organize the books by category and vacuum the carpet where Eric's books are normally scattered, even though I kind of hate dusting and vacuuming. (Organizing books I like. We have an interesting library. In the nonfiction section I organized books into: science, religion (3 books total there), history, language, reference, psychology, nonfiction narrative/biography, trivia books people give us, and, naturally, 'other.' 'Other' included things such as One Good Turn, the history of the screwdriver.)

We served tacos and homemade ice cream, and I harvested my first garden produce for it, a handful of green onions. The homemade ice cream--chocolate chocolate chip and mint Oreo mint--was a hit. The peach-with-frozen-peaches was awful, we discovered last night--the frozen peaches have an off taste to them--so we threw it out. we had two babies visiting, which was always fun, and Eric's groomsman tried on his vest, and Eric's dad and stepmom gave us an iron and a knife block/measuring cup/utensil set. (Immediately after we opened these, Eric got up to show everyone our new Kapoosh knife block. I didn't understand this lack of tact until Eric said later that he hadn't seen the knife block part of the set. Eric's sister also commented at one point that the air conditioning was on, even though the windows were open, and why was that? Eric started explaining that it had been too hot that morning, which it hadn't, and as I crossed behind her to turn off the air conditioning I muttered, "Because your brother's a freak," and she laughed.)

It was a good party, even though some people we were expecting (and needed to see, like the best man to fit his vest) didn't show up. We should do it more often. We should also make more mint Oreo mint ice cream, because man, was that stuff good.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hobbies, happiness, and me

A friend of mine at work, who's getting married the weekend after we are, mentioned that she and her fiance are getting premarital counseling from their minister. "He asked us a bunch of getting-to-know-you questions," she said, "Only he asked me the ones about R, and vice versa. Then he asked us to name one thing about the other that we'd change if we could. I couldn't think of anything for R, except that I wish he'd take the trash out more often. Then R thought that meant I wished he'd do more around the house, but actually I'm happy with it, I just don't like the trash."

I asked Eric this question a few days ago and he thought of two things: to make me happier, and to make it so that I didn't have so many hobbies. "You're not as deep into gardening," he said when I asked if there was any in particular he wished I'd drop. "But then again fresh veggies are good. I don't know."

(I'm not so sure I'm not in deep with gardening. I have dozens of little plants on my windowsill and under my SAD light, and I'm wearing a path between the back porch and the garden by checking on it so often. I suspect I'm going to end up simply making it a path and maybe lining the garage side with mulch and bushes to make it look better.)

We've been talking about working on having a baby once we get married, and I've been hesitating about it--which is unusual, since we've both been baby-crazy for quite a while now. My hesitation about it is the only reason not to: we'll have a home, good jobs, reasonable financial stability, strong relationship, the desire for it, etc. But I'm not sure I have enough--am enough--to offer a baby. I'm content in my current job, but I don't want to be this way forever. Possibly having a kid would help me feel more fulfilled, but that's a rotten reason to have one. I may have written about this before, I can't remember; I've been thinking about it lots.

I want to know what sort of mother I'm going to be--as a person, not a parent. (I think, I hope, I'm going to be okay as a parent. I'm going to try, anyway.) I was thinking, I know some things I would like to do. So why aren't I doing them? And the answer is because it's easier; because my time is filled up; because I'm occupied, reasonably contented, and in a position where I don't have to do anything different. And tonight I wondered if this would be different if I didn't have so many hobbies.

Right now, I've got the wedding to plan, of course; that'll be done in a month. I've also got a quilt to finish before the wedding (so we can sleep under it on the new bed we need to get so we have a spare bed to offer Mom and Dad when they stay here), and another one for a baby shower in late June; I've got yarn to spin for a present; I've got a Christmas tree skirt E wants me to piece together (even though she got a better sewing machine than mine for Christmas); I want to spin yarn for and then knit Christmas stockings; I was thinking about making shawls of some sort for my bridesmaids and me--it's too late to knit them, but I could sew simple ones. I always have projects. I got my spinning wheel the other day, and tonight, in between making summer curtains for the kitchen, I practiced on it. I love it. I enjoyed the curtains too, simple and repetitive as they are. But I could be spending my energy on other things. Harder things. I can see where Eric's coming from, wishing I had fewer hobbies (though it's not like I don't waste plenty of time in the computer room with him...but then, you know, I talk to him about them). I'm wondering if I have a better reason for wishing it myself.

(But I don't think I'll be giving up the spinning. This wheel is the awesomest thing ever. Plus I got lots of freebies and Michelle wants to use it to make a Mother's Day present for her mom. How cute is that? I could give up the quilting, I think, after the baby shower quilt, at least for a time--though I had wanted to start submitting patterns to magazines. But I never seem to have the time to sit down and write them out. Yeah, freeing up my time would be a good idea.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


So we were supposed to go to the florist yesterday. But Eric had to get an EEG (he's fine, it's routine), and so he had to shower the gel stuff out of his hair, and then we had to eat, and then it was too late. So I'm going today, alone, because Eric has a class. Pout. Anyway, we did the dishes and I watered the carrots and we went for a walk instead, and on the way home we stopped in at his mom's.

At his mom's was Addie, Eric's now six-weeks-old niece, and also the tail end of a confrontation between Eric's mom and Michelle. It's complicated, but suffice it to say that Brenda was unhappy about something Michelle had said, and Michelle had said it because of her lack of awareness of a situation she hasn’t been allowed to know about, so I think both were frustrated and I know both were unhappy. And Eric and I feel slightly caught in the middle, because Brenda more or less declared that she's not going to try to be Michelle's friend anymore (adding to us, "You two can do what you want…") and we kind of understand that, but we also understand that from Michelle's point of view that was uncalled for. And we're always being asked to do things with them, or watch Michelle for an afternoon, and she's in our wedding, and…well…it's uncomfortable. She's having a rough enough time with her parents divorcing, and having her home disrupted by this, even if it's temporary (and I can't think that Brenda will really be able to carry this out for long--she loves Michelle), isn't going to be any better for her.

My birthday present, my spinning wheel, is due to come today. I need to go to the florist, but after that I may invite Michelle over to see my new toy and give her a couple of hours in a house where nobody resents her.

After that I need to get spinning; I have a bunch I want to do before the wedding. And make curtains. And finish that quilt. And do the rest of the wedding planning--though that's mostly little things once the flowers and chairs are ordered. Oh, and planting a bunch of things and putting up some shelves and figuring out how to make my shoes not make that flip-flop sound. I have less than five weeks left.

We're having a not-a-shower party this Sunday, because we don't want a shower per se but we want to see people. We're having a taco bar (and Eric's dad offered to bring smoked ribs) and snacks, and we're serving three kinds of ice cream: mint Oreo mint, chocolate cherry, and frozen peach. The peach is a test batch using frozen peaches rather than fresh, since we suspect we won't get really good fresh peaches the week before the wedding. We made the mint Oreo mint already and it could use some more cookies but is otherwise pretty darn good. And I'm totally looking forward to trying the chocolate cherry. The peach is the only one we're planning on serving at the wedding (plus strawberry, orange, and chocolate), but our ice cream experiments remain interesting--and tasty.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A good Sunday

I'm pleasantly tired. Today I started more seeds, zucchini and cantaloupe and seeds from a delectable cantaloupe from Andersons which, I understand, might yield cantaloupes or might yield strange alien cucurbits of peculiar shape and size. Either way, awesome. I went to Home Depot (with Eric, who laughed at me the whole time, but that was fine since it meant he wasn't actually unhappy) and bought a final two hundred pounds of humus, plus a flat of strawberries. I have strawberries growing indoors from seed, but they're about a centimeter tall and I had visions of actual home-picked strawberries, you know, this year. When we came home I dug the humus into the tomato bed and planted some broccoli and Swiss chard and carrots (the old ones aren't coming up, and I think it's because they didn't get enough water--it's supposed to rain all this week so maybe these ones will do better) and watered and weeded and planted the strawberries and generally made myself sore. It's a good sore. It's been a lovely day out, and this next week promises to be lousy (at least as far as weather goes--I also really, truly, absolutely have to visit the florist, so possibly as far as the wedding goes too) so I'm doubly glad.

Then we made Mint Oreo mint ice cream and prepared for peach ice cream (we're planning on making peach ice cream for the wedding, but peaches might not be in season so we're testing our recipe on frozen ones), and Eric sauteed some shrimp and mushrooms in garlic butter and I made a couscous salad with blackeyed peas and carrots and an apple, and we had a good dinner. And we reserved a hotel for our wedding night and decided that we don't need to get Eric's wedding ring checked for size. And my brother called and I had a very satisfactory talk with him while he waited for some guy to show up to meet him. (He wants to know where he can find a white-haired Barbie for his daughter. I suggested that he take a regular Barbie, shave its head, glue a strip of white Fun Fur on it, and call it Mohawk Barbie.) It's been a good day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hope in spring

I'm sore from digging again. This is not good. This girl needs some exercise. I borrowed a bellydancing DVD (don't laugh) from a friend at work, but haven't looked at it yet. (That reminds me. I have chocolate for her. Do I deliver it now for maximum anticipation throughout the day, or later for maximum happiness when she's tired from work?) Now that winter seems to be in retreat (not a moment too soon), I'm going to try going for walks more often. I enjoy it when I go's just a matter of going out.

The garden stuff is going well; the lettuce and spinach have survived, the peas are coming up, my cheap rake seems to be doing its job just fine, my seedlings are doing okay, I haven't gotten bored of it yet. Eric and I discussed yesterday whether there was a real chance we'd ever need to rely on a garden to feed us, especially if we have a few kids. "We might end up keeping chickens after all," he said, a reference to a link I sent him. You can keep chickens in your back yard! --If your city allows it and you don’t mind the yard turning into a dustbowl, that is. Once we find the house we're going to live in for twenty years or so, I could see setting up a nice big garden and planting fruit trees and bushes, maybe some asparagus or even artichoke (no rhubarb for us, though) in addition to the annuals, but not so sure about chickens. It came up because someone at work is advertising fresh eggs for $1. Someone else is asking us to buy rose-shaped suckers for $2. Hmm, which is the better deal?

I had planned to go to the florist today, dragging Eric with, but we have to pick up Shel at six, so that may not work. And then Friday we're going up to Ann Arbor for a trip to Trader Joe's and a benefit concert put on by Eric's old orchestra, and then Saturday we have a wedding. Sunday I know Ken's Flowers is open but I'm not so sure about them. Ah well...we don't need a florist really, do we? I could just carry a hydrangea, couldn't I? Sure I could. I talked to my dad about how anxious I'm feeling, even though we've got almost all of the big wedding stuff taken care of. He said, "Nobody will notice most of this stuff." I said, "People will notice if they don't have any chairs," but Eric is calling about that and he's right about the rest.

We're also going to be putting the towel rack up Sunday, since we're not going to be painting the bathroom before the wedding, and cleaning in partial preparation for our not-a-shower Sunday. Most of the cleaning will happen next Saturday, and that'll be the last cleaning the house gets before my parents get here the week before the wedding. We'll get things done, I'm sure.

And I'll be planting out broccoli and Swiss chard in the garden soon. Here's hoping they live. Someday I'll be able to do better than hope, I think; but this learning year, it's all about hope.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Flowers in the snow

It is snowing. Snowing. The yard is thickly covered in white. This is wrong, people. This is very wrong. I cut a tulip from our front bed--or at least what I thought was a tulip, as it was only partly open and was obviously not happy about the cold we've been having. I put it in a stupid bud vase that Eric's stepmom gave me for Christmas and within minutes it bloomed, spreading its petals wide like a Washingtonian spreading her arms to catch the sunshine. It is not a tulip. But it is very pretty. And I love that vase now--it looks much better with a flower in it. We turned the kitchen light off later and came back to find the flower half-closed again. I wonder if I'll get up early enough tomorrow to see it open again? Probably not.

Eric and I went stomping through the (hateful! ridiculous!) snow to his mom's to visit Addie, his new niece who was at grandma's for the night (her mom going out for a night with the girls, and her dad desperately needing a real night's sleep). We talked to her and held her and fed her, and got a few lessons on how to burp a baby from grandma. I also discussed wedding shopping with Michelle. We're going for her dress tomorrow, and she seemed to be feeling a little neglected with all the attention lavished on Addie (though Michelle also wanted her share of holding and feeding), so I sat on the stairs with her and discussed her shoes, her hair, what jewelry she would wear and what shops we should go to tomorrow. Her mom's going with us and wants to go to Kinko's, and I need to get to Joann or Hancock (they're going out of business, which means a sale) to get fabric for the summer quilt, so it's going to be a bit of a trip. We went shopping today, Eric and I, but it was purely for clothes for Eric so it took all of forty minutes to find slacks, a dress shirt, and two pairs of casual pants. Tomorrow will be more of a production.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

That's the plan.

I started to write a post the day before yesterday and I ended up writing about something I hadn't intended to, and that led to an evening spent differently from the plan (well, to start with anyway) and some crying, but also some good discussion. It had to do with our eventual move to the West Coast and decision three years afterward on whether we're going to stay, and it involved us getting closer to actual fighting than we ever have and also some mutually agreed-upon blaming of Eric's mother. Anyway, here's the first, innocuous part of that post:

I hate O'Hare airport. This is probably not a surprise to anyone who's been there before. It was O'Hare that Bev and I got stuck at for a day when we were flying out to Baltimore to apartment-hunt. It was O'Hare that Eric and I almost didn't make our connection at because the previous flight had had to de-ice its wings and we arrived two terminals away from the flight we were catching. On Thursday night, it was O'Hare that delayed flights going in and out three hours so that my parents had to pick me up at 2:30 instead of 11:30. I admit it wasn't O'Hare yesterday that delayed my flight (I called my parents to complain right away, and they actually picked me up so we could talk for another hour while I waited) and didn't post its gate so that I had to guess which terminal it might be in and track down agents at three different gates to tell me the gate number. But it was O'Hare that rescheduled my initial connection for one that was due to leave ten minutes after the first got on the ground. I made the flight, but I had a plane full of people to stare at as I bumped my way down the aisle with my ridiculously heavy carryon and dropped into my seat very shortly before the safety talk began.

My whirlwind weekend trip was wonderful. It was sunny and warm there, I had a great time visiting with my parents, we finally got the family pictures done, and my wedding shower was lovely. I did decoupage for the first time and the food was all vegetarian (I love my matron of honor) and I got some extremely neat stuff--it was a craft shower, so people gave me materials for cake making and candy making and beaded ornaments and quilling (paper filigree…have you ever heard of this? I hadn't) and stamping and sewing and cooking. My project this week is to make handmade thank-you cards. (Then it's to finish up last year's queen-sized summer quilt. If we're buying a new bed--and we are, because that's cheaper than putting Mom and Dad up in a hotel, and we wanted a bigger one eventually anyway--we need a blanket to cover it, and I can't see a single reason to buy a blanket when I've got one almost ready-made in my closet.)

Mom gave me a pair of blue topaz earrings to wear in the wedding, thus explaining why I could never get her to answer me when I asked if she had any earrings I could borrow. I did borrow some earrings of hers for the family pictures; later she asked where they were and I said I'd put them on her dresser, and she said, "Why did you give them back? You can have them. I don't use them." She doesn't, since her ears aren't really pierced anymore, so I did take them. They're opal and gold, and she bought them in Korea a long time ago. Eric tells me I need to pack them in wet cotton. This makes me wonder if they'll get moldy--either that or whether I'll have to water them every week, like a plant. And I tried on my wedding dress, and it's too big but otherwise fantastic. Mom grumbled about the amount of work, and also about my asking her to cut a foot off the train (I asked for no train, but as Dad says, I didn't tell her three times), but I think she's okay with it, and I know I'll be proud to wear this dress on my wedding day.

When I got back my plants were on the dry side, but alive, and I’m plotting to repot them this week and figuring out how many to give away to whom. Next year I'll definitely be more conservative with the seed sowing. Happily, my outdoor plants don't seem to be dead either--the spinach and lettuce are hanging on, and there are a few tiny green points in the carrot rows, and the onions are sprouting in their corner. They're being threatened by some fresh green weeds invading from the neighbor's yard (the onions are right on the fence), but they're alive, and now that I’m back and the weather isn't quite so nasty I'll be being nasty myself to those weeds and the hundreds that are popping up over the yard.

Today we're working on the cars and the invitations. Eric is off for the week, which means there will be much wedding stuff and house stuff taken care of. Or at least that's the plan.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Declamations from the height of my great age.

It's my last day to be twenty-six. There will be no birthday celebration, unless you count the angelfood cake and sweetened strawberries that I made myself yesterday and will be eating with Eric tonight, and no birthday present until I order my spinning wheel, which I haven't done because I don't feel the time is right. (What's really going on is that I'm in the miser phase of my financial-emotion cycle. Wait until I get back to the eager-to-buy side, otherwise known as Being My Father's Daughter.) And I'm okay with that. I want to ease into twenty-seven anyway.

I'm starting to notice true signs of aging--very slight, of course; but I'm definitely not as limber as I used to be, or as easily recovered from a night of little sleep. And of course there are all the mental adjustments that I continue to go through: am I really mostly through my twenties? Do I feel like an adult yet? How did I get here? Am I satisfied with how I've spent my time? How do I improve myself for the future? What do I really want out of my remaining time on the earth, and how do I get it?

Which is not to say I consider myself old or anything. I don't suppose people often do; you don't live seventy or eighty or ninety years all at once, but one day at a time, and one day is the only rock we have on which to stand. But I know I've now got probably a third of my life behind me, and I still don't know what's ahead. This whole getting married thing has helped with that, but only a little; I'll be living here two years, then on the West Coast two years; we hope to have children, and fairly soon; and that's about it. These things help to shape my awareness of the future and my plans for it, but they only help.

As a twenty-six-year-old, I have worked at a job I didn't like with horrible management; found a job I do like with good management (and much better pay); lived with someone else for the first time since 2002 and for the first time ever with a guy (well, one not related to me); planned most of a wedding; taken up gardening; saved quite a bit of money (oh, there's another post related to that--maybe tomorrow, if it's resolved then); worked on clarifying what actually makes me happy. There's more work to do, of course, but that's life.

One thing I need to do as a twenty-seven-year-old is sort out my hobbies and time-drains so that I actually have time to work on some things. And walk more. One thing about my previous job, it made me healthy (mainly because I spent as much time as I dared running up and down the stairwell, partly for exercise and partly out of frustration). I'm afraid I will not look buff and impressive in my wedding dress. But I'll look like me, which is what I'm working towards being all the time.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Some chick.

I had to call someone for a work-related purpose today. The woman who answered the phone said, "I'm sorry, he doesn't work here anymore. Who is this?" (I hate when people ask that. If the person I want isn't there we have no further business with each other, so what does it matter?) I said, "This is Jenny from ____, do you have any idea how I might be able to reach him?" She said, "I'm on the other line with him right now. Hold on, please." Then, evidently believing she had switched lines, she said, "Hey, some chick from ____ wants to talk to you."

After I let her know she was still on the line with me, I think she hung up--anyway, we got disconnected. When I called back, she was extremely apologetic and gave me the home number of the person I was trying to contact. When I called him, he, too, apologized. Fortunately I think it's funny, but if I had been someone different they might have had good reason to be sorry.