Washer, Wasps and Weeds

Yesterday,  workout, downstairs. Find Angelic Daughter in the laundry room, putting dripping wet clothes into the dryer.

Accuse her of pressing “pause” on the washer to speed the job.

Put dripping clothes back in washer.  Press “drain and spin.”

Hear horrible grinding noise, followed by normal spinning noise.

Washer switches off. Lid unlocks.

Voila, DRIPPING WET CLOTHES.

Apologize to Angelic Daughter for false accusation. And for tone in which it was delivered. BAD MOTHER.

Accept that the washing machine is broken. Oh, YAY.

While considering which card I can scrape enough credit off to pay for repairs, decide to do the yard work, still all sweaty from the workout, ensuring one shower, not two.

What planning!

Agenda includes tree trimming, and raking out one section worth of Creeping Charlie from the “lawn.” The crab tree by the deck reliably blooms profusely each May.  Mike was much better at shaping it than I am (it helped that he was 10 inches taller than me). My efforts this spring resulted in a wedge- shaped tree, high at the back, sloping down to a sort of newsboy-cap brim, instead of the lovely globe Mike used to achieve.

Got out the ladder and the long-pole trimmer. Nipped those dopey-looking branches sticking up at the top, that I couldn’t see last time because the blaring sun was in my eyes. Cloudy morning today, just right.

As I nipped and snipped, I noticed a bloom of bugs coming out of the tree. Buzzing. Bees! Yay me! Saving the pollinators!

Except when I got around to the other side and looked up through the branches, I saw something like this:

paper-wasp-2225117_640

And the “reptiles,” as Dr. Maturin would call them, crawling all over it didn’t look like ordinary bees. For starters, they were mostly black.

Abandon tree trimming until species of reptile is identified by shape and nature of nest.

Just then, neighbor, also out to do her yard work, calls to me, identifying what I have come to refer to as “nasty viney weed” on her side of the fence, but technically still on my property. Yes, of course, pull it out!

Never one for half measures, she takes a blowtorch to it.

Walking over to observe, I notice that there is a proliferation (oh, my, aren’t we full of vocabulary today) of nasty viney weed (nightshade — eeewwww!) strangling about a third of the woodsy perimeter of my yard, where it reliably appears each year, and where I laboriously pull it out a few times a every summer. Ineffective, but there’s too much good stuff near it to use the blowtorch method. Repetition of the laborious pulling is the key. Clearly I have been slacking on that.

An hour later, with two yard waste bags full of nasty viney weed, about 15 mosquito bites on each cheek (not talking face here) and a plethora (oh, my, proliferation AND plethora – alliterative vocabulary, how impressive) of scratches from the sharp needles of the spruce trees I had been rummaging around under, pulling nasty viney weed out by its roots, it’s shower time. No Creeping Charlie removal.

Washed and rinsed (but not spun), I make a spinach and Swiss omelet using fresh spinach from my garden.

Time to consult the all-knowing internet vis-a-vis reptile nest. Find that ‘the bald-faced hornet constructs a papery nest with a cap on top and a hole in the bottom, which will grow in size as the colony grows. This is an aggressive species with a particularly painful sting. Do not attempt to remove on your own. Consult a professional.’

Sigh. Calculate how much MORE credit I can wring from that card.

Consider leaving the nest undisturbed until it freezes because ‘the colony will die in winter and the nest will not be reused,’ but it is in the crab tree, close to the deck, and near the vegetable garden.

Contact reptile removal company. How much? That much?! And you use insecticide to kill them first (yes, ma’am, see “particularly agressive, painful sting,” above) then you come back a few days later to remove the nest?

You’ll keep that nasty wasp killing stuff off my veggies, right? And you won’t kill the good bees and butterflies that come to the front garden I planted specifically to attract them?

This morning, instead of raking Creeping Charlie, I placed the soaker hose around the squash growing in the former chicken run, while waiting for the call with the “window” of time when I must wait again for the reptile remover.

And the washer repair guy isn’t coming until next Friday.

Sigh.

Washer, wasps, weeds, waiting and words.

At least I like one of those things.

Waiting, watering and writing, I remain, your resigned-to-her-fate,

Ridiculouswoman

Washing machine image by ITAK_studio from Pixabay

Wasp’s nest image by Bernell MacDonald from Pixabay

800 Words

The day I wrote about losing confidence in my writing, I discovered a television series called “800 Words.”

“It’s a sign!” I thought.  The show is on the Acorn channel (British-y programming). It’s about an Australian columnist, a widower with two kids, whose column always comes in at exactly 800 words.

That’s a game I love to play, too. He even uses the same trick of hyphenating-things-to-count-as-one-word.

It’s more about grief and the stupid impulsive decisions (often stupid financial decisions) you make when coping with loss.

Sound familiar?

I watched the first episode of the first season and was hooked.

And then I discovered I had to pay a subscription fee to watch the rest of it.

Curses! I coughed up my Roku account and subscribed.

More money spent that I shouldn’t be spending, without a day job.

That sent me into another spiral of anxiety and doubt.

How could it be a sign? Yes, I like to write blog posts of exactly 800 words –  but my book is 60,000 words.

The protagonist on the show actually had a job as a newspaper columnist, left it, and was coaxed back.

I’ve lost or had to leave jobs I wanted and was never, ever “coaxed” or asked back. It was more like “don’t let the door hit you on your way out. Buh-bye.”

My recent job search experiences make me feel like I couldn’t buy a job – if I had any money to spend – which makes me more anxious about getting a job.

I’ve got an idea for a business, bought the domain, and I’m hoping to get a website designed and the business going by September.

But the numbers for this blog (over 5,300 views and 2,300 visitors, but only 162 followers) indicate I suck at social media self-promotion.

I’m going to have to force myself to return to Facebook to build pages for this blog again and for my new business. AAAAAK!!

I’d rather curl up in a little fetal ball and pull the covers over my head, but as I lie there whimpering, I’d be picturing myself wearing a name tag, saying things like, “would you like fries with that?” or “have you tried our new spicy shrimp?” or “can I get you that dress in another size?”

Between the morning workouts and the yard work and the house work and grocery shopping and the meal preparation and the caring for and helping Angelic Daughter, I can’t seem to find the time to write more than one or two blog posts a week, and no time at all to search for other places to submit writing for a chance to get paid.

Much less apply for that glorious future name tag job.

All the job search engines I’ve got going keep sending me jobs that have nothing to do with me.

LinkedIn seems to think I’m a nurse or other health-care worker, just because I’m looking for jobs in non-profits, and there’s a big non-profit hospital near me.

Glassdoor keeps sending me technical writing jobs that I probably could do but I’m sure I’d never get hired for, and the idea of making a mistake writing technical manuals or pharmaceutical label information sends me into paroxysms of anxiety.

All the NPO’s want fundraisers (“development” people) but asking people for money makes me squirm, and researching how much money people might have to give makes me feel like a creepy voyeur.

I indulge in silly rescue fantasies, typically involving younger men who know how to do things, and who are willing to do them for me, for free.

And who then move in and pay for things.

While also making wild, passionate love to me.

Hey, I said it was a fantasy.

I’ve figured out what’s wrong with me, and what went wrong in my career, but I can’t fix the past and the past follows me everywhere I go.

I try to focus on the now – on the incredible, cool air we have today, on the squash blossoms growing in the former chicken run, on the green beans starting to come in.

But I spend more time feeling frustrated by the dozens of bean seeds I planted that haven’t sprouted at all.

I’m a whiny, self-doubting mess.

The ancestresses are getting restless – I hear them telling me to get my ass outside and weed something. Not self-improvement, but yard-improvement, at least.

Perhaps other improvements will follow.

And as for signs?

Just as I was editing that line about anxiety and doubt, a monarch butterfly fluttered down and landed on the beans.

The ones that are growing.

Thanks for the Sign, Mike – of love and understanding – and the reminder to enjoy this beautiful day and stop taking myself so seriously.

Because what matters is now.

About-to-get-sweaty-and-dirty-and-feel-virtuous-about-it, I remain,

Your calming-down,

Ridiculouswomann

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

A Hose, Two Fans and a Thunderstorm

I grew up in a brick house with no air conditioning.  We used box fans in the windows and a sprinkler in the back yard (usually surrounded by neighborhood kids in bathing suits, waiting their turn to “run through.”)

For the past twenty years I’ve lived in another house without air conditioning. It has thick plaster walls, two layers of siding (some past owner just slapped vinyl over wood, and we left it alone) and a floor plan similar to that childhood home, where my brothers and I could run or ride a tricycle in circles around the ground floor while Dad played “Sweet Georgia Brown” on the piano. We called that “the running song,” and thought it was fun to zip past Dad, through the hall and kitchen, dodge the dining room table, scream and laugh our way through the front hall and then back past Dad in the living room.  After I became a parent myself, I realized Dad played “the running song” to tire us out so we’d go to bed. He was a genius at stuff like that.

When Angelic Daughter was a toddler, I bought her a Red Flyer trike, so she could do  circles in this current house – past the living room fireplace, through the kitchen, left through the library/dining room, across the front hall and then around again.

We’ve just come through three days 94-98 degrees (F) and very high humidity. No joke and very dangerous if you live an a brick-oven building in the city without air conditioning.

But we’ve got a yard, a garden hose and two fans – one box fan:

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and one newer one, that stands on the floor and rotates.

Upstairs, there are three smaller ones, each with two fans that can be switched from “intake” to “exhaust.”

Friday night, the “exhaust” setting just couldn’t keep up with the heat.

So I set up the cot downstairs –  the cot I bought for Mike to use, if the heat became too much during that last summer. But he couldn’t lie down flat without excruciating pain, so he tried to use another “lounger” I bought, a cheap bench sort of thing, that could sit up like a pool chaise. But he couldn’t get comfortable on that either, no matter how we adjusted the pillows. It was rock hard.

The visiting hospice nurse took one look at him on that thing and said, “this is not under control. I’ll send an ambulance and get you into the hospital.”

So Mike got two days of blessed relief in air conditioning, adjusted pain meds, and a good break from the stress of being home and needing my help all the time.

That damn rock hard lounger was one of the first things to go. But I kept the cot, in case  a brother or a guest might need to stay over one night.

Last night, that cot gave Angelic Daughter respite from the upstairs bedroom heat. I slept on the couch, where I slept while taking care of Mike, in the front room where we had set up his hospital bed when he came home after his brief stay, so he could watch TV and eat dinner with us.

Around 2 or 3 in the morning, still sweaty and not sleeping, I stepped outside on the deck and noticed that the breeze had picked up.

It’s coming, I thought – relief.

It cooled off enough for me to open the ground floor windows (and still feel secure, since I was right there) and use the fans to draw in some fresh, slightly cooler air.  The forecast said it would be 85 by 7 am, so I shut them again and closed the drapes by 6:45, when the temperature began to climb.

Smoothies for breakfast: frozen yogurt, berries and cream in the blender. Voila.

Salad bar in the air conditioned grocery for lunch.

And the garden hose after 3, in the shade from the cedars outside my desk area window. Blessed lake water still icy cold in July. Squished around in a wet bathing suit for half an hour, and then the storms hit – torrential rain, thunder and lightning – and a temperature drop of 20 degrees within an hour.

Windows back open, despite the downpour, to take in that delicious, rain-cooled air.

Memories and moments like these free me from obsessive worry; they help me remember Mike (inventor of all our strategies for keeping cool in this house through the hottest heat waves) with love and gratitude, instead of pain, grief and regret.

For now, the heat is gone, the storms have blown over, the birds are singing and the yard is green.

May you stay cool and find your calm after whatever storms blow over you.

Yours,

Ridiculouswoman

Fan image by Katie White from Pixabay

Hose image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay)