Friday, March 20, 2015

The "Scoot, Scoot, Grab"


I love this quote by Margaret Atwood. It's so clean and earthy and safe. In short, nothing like the everyday experiences in my garden. At the end of the day, I not only smell like dirt, but like sweat, too, and lots of it.
 
But what of the smells at the beginning of each day, you might ask? For me, the smell is one of distinct fear. I kid you not. That's how you know I must really love gardening. I wouldn't do it otherwise.
 
Now let me preface all of this by telling you that your first thoughts were probably accurate, too. There's the 'dew upon the grass' scent, and the smell of gently sun drenched roses, too. Wet earth being met by the first touches of the sun, yada yada yada.Yes, it's all of it there.
 
But do you know what else is there? Black widow spiders. And lots of them.
 
I don't like spiders, guys. I really, really don't. I mean, like, REALLY. And black widows are my least favorite. And in Southern California they're alllllllllll over the freaking place. Can't stand 'em.
 
Last week when I was cleaning out an old flower bed, I flipped over a large, old, outdoor pot...and yeah, there were two large widows RIGHT.THERE. They made a run for it and I started trying to smack them with my spade. I never saw them again. No clue if I hit them or if they escaped to scare me another day. My money's kinda on the latter of these possibilities...
 
>Sigh<
 
So anyway, because of this particular "affliction" in my garden, I have developed a particular technique (in addition to wearing some good gloves) to avoid getting bitten. I call it the "Scoot, Scoot, Drag". I don't use a hand rake, so my fingers do the raking in the dead leaves and weeds as I garden. You never know what you're going to find or awaken with each raking, so I make two quick scooping rakes towards me and then, if nothing on eight legs starts running at me, I make a final grab to put detritus type things into the weeding bucket. So far it's been working and I've gotten almost the entire front yard cleaned up and de-weeded.
 
But even with a good system in place, things can fall (or crawl!) through the cracks from time to time. Like they--IT--did this morning. Across the bare portion of my wannabe-Birkenstock-clad-foot.
I kid you not, guys, I really think my heart stopped. I really do. And I FROZE, too. I couldn't breathe OR move. And I was like,

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
 
 (Entomologist in me kicks into gear)
"Wait."
"Is that even a widow?!"
 
"Holy FRACK!"
 
"Is it...stopping on my foot...?!"
 (Complete WUSS in me kicks the entomologist in me clear out the door.)
 
"Doesn't matter what it is!"
"Kill it!"
"KILL IT!"
 
So I start trying to crab crawl away from my own attached foot, whilst simultaneously and recklessly smacking at self said foot. I missed twice, saw it (the spider, not my foot) was gone (MAYBE?!), got to my feet, back stepped and tripped over a raised paver stone, flailed wildly, and only then realized I was making guttural noises like a charging silver backed gorilla.
 
You know, your basic garden spider moment. Ha ha!
 
Oh my living HEART! What a moment. And as you can imagine,  I was crazy jumpy for the next four buckets full of weeds, too. I can only hope at least one of my neighbors caught the fantastic show and the myriad encores that followed. I must have looked like a jumbled up marionette in the hands of a frustrated toddler. Ha haaa!
 
Oh! And I did track down the spider in the grass, and it was NOT a black widow. Rather, a black house spider or funnel web spider of some kind. I think funnel web (not the uber deadly, Australian type. Just a normal type.)
 
So, gonna garden in some closed toed shoes from here on out.
Yeah.
 
THE END

Monday, January 6, 2014

And So It Begins: Kitchen Demo 2014

So today at 7:30 our kitchen officially became a construction zone. Despite having had a majority of our kitchen (pots, pans, dishes, spices, pantry foods, etc.) packed up for us around Christmas time, Mike and I were still up until almost 3 in the morning packing and moving and organizing and sorting everything else. I think I did a final sink of dishes at about 2:15 A.M. It was nuts and I was crazy emotional about it all, which Mike totally doesn't "get". He kept demanding that I not stress or cry or overthink the situation, ha ha. That went over like a lead balloon. ;)
But empty the kitchen, pantry and laundry room we did, and went to bed with the alarm set for 7:30, so we could be ready for the 8:00 A.M. demolition crew.
Well, no sooner had our alarm gone off than the doorbell rang. I kid you not. Luckily(?), I had crawled into bed fully clothed, so despite my extreme bed head and fogged over contact lenses, I was ready to answer the door thirty minutes early. Good times.
It's a little after 1:00 P.M. as I type this and all of the tile, cabinetry and appliances have been removed from the kitchen and pantry. Curiously, they have taped off our adjoined laundry room, so now we are worried they haven't been told that will need to be done...waiting to talk to them once they emerge from the tarped off rooms...
Here are a few pictures of the before and current (I don't want to say 'after' yet, because to me that implies finalization, and I won't truly have that for probably several months.) Anyway, without further ado, here's wassup:

Before:

And now our current state of affairs:


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Venting Post

There is so much going on I hardly know where to begin. 
Do I start with how our sewer main got horribly plugged and sent its putrid contents flooding into our kitchen and all three of our bathrooms resulting in an insurance claim which has lead to the imminent demise of all four rooms beginning on Monday?
Do I tell you about my jitters for the lesson I've been asked to give this Sunday? And how I am the last person who should be giving a lesson on being a good visiting teacher?
Which reminds me: I'm still frequently crippled by both depression and anxiety. Hoping that if I begin my writings again, I'll feel less pressure and stress in my world.
I could also talk about how I'm starting to stress out over schools for Penelope. We have an "in" at a good nearby private school, but I'm worried about how we'll afford it.
Which brings me to Michael's continued lack of employment. So stressful to me!
And I'm so frustrated by all of this extra weight my body carries around like a comfort blanket these days. I'm constantly exhausted and for the first time in my life I have had to resort to using caffeine in order to function. I want to get my thyroid and blood sugars tested, but we don't have insurance right now. Can't afford it. And the kicker is that we will be punished by the government now for our lack of insurance. It makes me sick and so frustrated. 
I keep shutting down and have withdrawn from most of the people in my life. I figure it is incorrect to do so, but I can't make myself reconnect yet. I don't know what to do. 
Okay, there's lots more going on right now, but this us at least a good start and maybe now I can go to sleep. I hope so...so much to do tomorrow and Sunday...!
Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. I feel a bit better for now. Kind of. ;)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nothing Much. Just Stuff.

I was going through some old drafts and found thus one I wrote about a year or so ago. I thought it was worth posting even in its unfinished version. So here ya go:

I don't really have that much to say tonight, but I'm feeling like writing, so here we go.

I'm looking forward to teaching a lesson for Relief Society tomorrow afternoon. I'm entitling it "Behold I Stand At the Door", and it's about finding different ways to approach people with the Lord's Gospel. My premise is that every person has "doors" they are willing to "answer". For example, the first time I felt the Spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the gospel was through music. I am very sensitive to music, and when I heard Michael McLean sing "We can be together forever someday", I felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that the message was true. I gained a testimony through song. And I have never forgotten it. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Write here. Write now.

I've been thinking. I'd really like to get back into blogging. I've stayed away for various silly reasons, but I miss it. And whether my toddler causes me to have typos, or whether my computer won't allow me to post photos, I just don't care anymore. I want to write. I NEED to write! Writing is who I am. It's what I'm supposed to do. Writing brings hidden parts of me to life and they've gone dormant so long at this point it actually feels weird to be dusting them off for use.
I am rusty. Veeeeerrrrryyyyy rusty. But it's just time to get back into the saddle, take the reins and head for the happy sunset. I've got so many ideas for things I'd like to write. BUT, I'm not in fit writing shape to produce anything of substance right now.
So even though this is probably the most repetitive thing I've ever written, it's also one of the most important. 'Cus this is the beginning of bigger and better things to come. I can feel it, the future goodness calling me. It's tangible and I want to make sure I write it down for those days in between now and then when things might feel foggy or less certain. I am supposed to write. I have an innate, Godly ability to express myself and I am supposed to use it and develop it right now.
I have fears about how to proceed, but mostly about my own insecurities and imperfections coming to light. I am going to write with honesty and hopefully with ease about whatever it is that is on my mind. Like I said, I have all these ideas floating around inside me that need to be held in place by assigning actual words to the thoughts. If that makes sense.
So, rusty or not, here I come!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Packed and ready to gooooooo!

This will be short, 'cus we're just about ready to head down to Santa Monica for the night. Mike's getting showered first though, so I've got a little time to chat.

As most of you already saw, I finally began cataloging my insect drawers today on Facebook. Did kind of a rush job with the pictures and collection data, but it's a definite step in the right direction. I've been meaning to do that for YEARS. Most of my insect drawers are packed away in the garage, too, so who know how soon I'll be able to finish everything up? Still, I am excited! The pictures I put up got very favorable comments and made my day. I wasn't sure how people would react to seeing a bunch of random, exotic bugs, but now I will look forward to sharing more in the future. I've even unearthed a few other insect enthusiasts in the process and look forward to having them over to see the collections in person. My camera photos wash a lot of the brilliancy away, unfortunately, so viewers cannot see their amazing iridescence and saturated colors. 

Nella tried chocolate milk for the first time today and took to it like a duck to Willy Wonka's mixing river. She did give me a quick, questioning look upon the first taste, but continued drinking when she saw me smile to reassure her. Cute times. Love my kiddo.

Trying to think what else is going on, but mind is stuck on the bug fair. Shocker.

Hope my favorite vendor/entomologist is there! His name is Dale Colby and he always has the best quality and selection. Mike and I have learned to make a bee-line (pun intended!) to Dale's booth as soon as we get in and buy a new drawer. The museum quality display cases (drawers) are about $55.00, but I get so many new bugs each year, they are a must. Anyway, Dale is the best and we always look forward to hearing all about his world travels and his recommendations for my collection. It's nice, too, because he looks for us to return to him each year now, and scolds us if we arrive late! Ha ha! I honestly believe Mike is afraid of another scolding this year from Dale if we don't get to the show soon enough. Cracks me up. 

Hope this year's fair is better than last year's. There were only a handful of vendors from whom I would buy last time. Many of the other vendors tried to push broken, damaged goods on me. Enter one of the largest pet peeves in my world. HATE that people think I don't know any better because I am a chick. Oh man, does that annoy me, you guys. The vendors are not even as guilty of it as my fellow buyers though. Almost every year I have some ignorant male try to tell me I don't need the insect I am trying to purchase. They point to a butterfly hoping I'll be distracted enough to walk away from the bug I spotted before they did. Fools. ;)

Tomorrow will be special though no matter what I buy or who is there. It's our family's day to be together and get our inner Nerd on, ha ha. But it will be fun, too, just because it's a treasure hunt and we love the thrill of the hunt. Most of all I hope to find one of those big blue weevils with the yellow fuzzies on it. Walked away from a pair of those a couple of years ago and haven't seen any since. 

Oh! Time to go!!!! Talk to you hopefully tomorrow when we get home!

Wish us well!

Love, 
Auty



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hopped Up & Happy

So I've had caffeine today. This evening to be exact. And I hardly ever indulge in it, 'cus it just gets me so hopped up and prevents me from sleeping. To take it at all is pretty rare, but in the evening is an especial No-No. What was I even thinking of?! Ha! Oh well.

Today was a pretty great day, but normal. Or maybe it was great because it was pleasantly normal? Yes, that's more like it. 

I took Penelope to her weekly play group at Shadow Ranch Park in West Hills. For some reason I had 9:30 stuck in my head as the time to be there, so we were there all alone for quite some time. I had just begun pushing Nella in the swing (which is on the way to the parking lot) when our friends began to trickle in. Then it was suddenly time to shift my mindset to "stay" mode rather than "leave". It was pretty mellow and many of us, both moms and kidlettes, were pre-tired. Even still, we didn't leave for several more hours. Looooooong day at the park!

Penelope was NOT tired though and took herself off to play deeply in the sun and sand. So much so that she got nice and sunburned before I thought to apply her sunscreen. Second time since Saturday, and I was pretty upset with myself for forgetting it again. She's got a bit of a tiny heat rash 'round her neck now, too, darn it. Mother of the year award goes to... >sigh< So now I am treating her rash with calamine lotion. Not that it seems to bother her in the least, but I have to do something to try to help, right?

After the park, we stopped to gas up at $4.23/gallon and then went home to put Pea down for her nap. She slept a couple of hours and I relaxed with a book, emailing, pestering Michael, a visit from my mother-in-law, Rosa, and Facebooking. I was a little hungry from fasting, so I was trying to take it easy while keeping my mind distracted. 

Which reminds me, my family and I fasted and prayed for my Cousin Sam's baby girl, Madeline "Maddie Jo" today. Maddie is about 6 weeks younger than Penelope and has been battling C. Diff for quite some time now. I am still learning about this kind of rare malady, but suffice it to say Maddie's extremely sick and the treatments so far have never cured her. In fact, she gets worse than ever after each treatment of antibiotics! It is getting very alarming, so my Cousin Heidi (Sam's little sister) wrote everyone yesterday to ask if we'd fast and pray for Maddie. So that's what we did.

I had expected to probably feel super weak from fasting, but in retrospect that was not the case. I honestly felt like the Spirit was giving me everything I needed as I swept through my day. 

It was such a blessing to be able to fast with my family members! I am almost always in a state of chronic and extreme homesickness, so to be joined in this fast with my loved ones lifted my spirits and brought them Home close to my heart again. I fasted all day with peace and was kind of sad to have it end this evening. Felt like my heart had to finally hang up the phone, if that makes sense. 

I sure hope that baby Maddie will be okay and soon. We'll just have to keep praying that this latest round of antibiotics will finally be enough to stop the disease. God bless her sweet little body! It breaks my heart when I hear all she has been going through. And my heart aches for her wonderful parents as well. If hearts could heal with loving thoughts, right?

It has been a real nice, peaceful evening 'round these parts. Nella and I got the front lawn and garden watered earlier. Truth be told, Nella also got HERSELF good and watered as well, ha ha! DU-RENCHED! Boy oh boy, does this baby girl love herself some good water! Played in the mister at the park. Played in the sprinklers and hose water in the yard. Splashed herself almost to oblivion in the bath water and even attempted to drink it. Lovely. What else would one expect from a little Aquarius though? Funny, none of this sounds all that peaceful, but my happy mind recalls it that way nonetheless. Just a good night together at Home is peace enough for me.

I love my family. I just need to say that again. It can never be said enough to do my feelings justice. Near or far, you guys are my very heart. You make me better. I love you. I miss you. 

Talk to you all again very soon.

Love, 
Autumn