Further adventures in getting my shit together

1.

Now that it is winter, a small brown hawk (or hawks) is visiting our yard and scaring the shit out of the chickens. I came home on Wednesday to do a quick Thanksgiving grocery/flowers drop off and bounce back out to a doctor’s appointment when I realized there were two chickens hiding under my porch shoe rack (very weird), but none of the other chickens were in evidence.


our lackluster decorating this year

I forgot the girls went downtown to have lunch with Pete, so no one had been home for a couple of hours. I called the chickens how I do when I want to feed them scraps and there was no movement. I have a pariah chicken that hides in the coop most of the time and I found her, so that made three of the eight. Then I saw the girls and Pete walking down the street from the bus stop and I asked them what was up. Nothing, they said, the chickens were there when they left.

I had to go but the girls said they would look around the neighborhood in case they had jumped over the fence. As it turns out, within an hour Franny was able to find them all in the yard, very very silently socked in to small crevices and under thick hedges. The good news is that they are bin Laden-level hide and seek experts, but the bad news is that if they hide like that and we don’t find them, they are likely to get picked off by a raccoon that night.

I suspect this is the same kind of hawk that struck Death Ray dead last winter, but Pete and I finally saw it recently. He saw it swooping into the yard and we saw it later being chased by crows. It’s too little to actually carry a chicken off.

This is weirdly frustrating. Could you at least eat what you terrify?

2.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving. I dithered on the menu until I ended up in the realm of completely traditional and boring and I was very okay with that. I butterflied and spatchcocked the turkey again this year. Apparently I did this last year and have ZERO memory of it. I do remember the car crash and that an entertaining was a Herculean effort due to feeling generally shitty and being depressed. Whee.


another year, another turkey. But, it was delicious again.

This year I super enjoyed myself for no real reason. Everything came together very easily and I didn’t make a schedule in five minute increments like I usually do, and I didn’t forget anything. I think I was also less interested in over-the-top food weirdness like I usually am. I’m starting to feel like I can direct my energy where it counts now, and save it sometimes when it doesn’t.

We had garden pumpkins saved from summer and I baked them for pie, like I sometimes do. I’m sure there’s a ton of traditional pumpkin pie recipes out there that don’t contain evaporated or sweetened milk but I didn’t feel like hunting one down. I took a peep in the Joy and found something called Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It called for a custard, egg whites, and gelatin as a thickener/fluffiner, and it was nice and light without being at all rubbery. I had the last piece for breakfast Friday morning.

What I REALLY was looking forward to was the Gilmore Girls revival that dropped on Friday. I had a little party with the girls, my sister, and a friend, all of whom are superfans. I don’t have a ton to say about the show here. I think you have to accept Amy Sherman Paladino products for what they are. As many recappers and reviewers have pointed out when the show was on the air, it had plotholes ahoy as well as time and other logic problems. That pattern wasn’t really resolved in the revival. I was happy to spend more time with the characters and we all laughed and cried.

I made a Gilmore-inspired buffet and my guests hung through the first two episodes, which was three hours of viewing. I made pizza, Chinese food, a cake, and Pete made The Rory, which is a very pink cocktail that Emily had concocted for Rory’s 21st birthday. I made some deviled eggs benedict, as a nod to Emily’s fancy parties but also the episode where Lorelai and Rory devil egged Jess’s car. Franny made whoopie pies because they are chocolatey and marshmallowy and good.

My sister captured the “before” better than I did because I was buzzing around finishing things up, but I did get an after.



3.

For the first time ever, I seem to be able to successfully use list/task software consistently and well. I’ve always kept a calendar, and I kept a datebook while I was in school so I could turn things in on time, but other than that I was a little random and would struggle.

During my decline and fall in the corporate world, I tried kanban-ing and task listing and bullet diary-ing and anything I could think of to make sure things didn’t fall through the cracks. I would also spend time reading the bon mots of productivity gurus and then being annoyed by them and hating them and then hating myself. Then I realized I wasn’t always using my apps consistently or even remembering to update or even open them. Pretty disheartening. But now I find that if it goes on my task list, it gets done, if not day of, then the next day.

I’m using Epic Win at the moment. It’s simple, but good for me for recurring tasks (monthly dog and cat flea treatment) as well as daily ones like flossing. Yes, my task list includes flossing, something I often forgot or put off. Some day I hope it will be so ingrained I can take it off again.

I include one-offs on my task list as well. I decided today would be the day I would clean off my rain lamp so I can consign it.

I enjoyed owning a rain lamp for a short time until I realized that oily surface = dust nightmare, and it always smells like a melted crayon when I run it. Also, in the summer when it gets above 80 the oil starts to evaporate and leaves specks on the wall, table, pictures, the statuette in the lamp, and so on.

I told myself that if I cleaned it and made sure it was running well, and consigned it, I could begin the process of looking for a TV lamp. A few months ago I found the book mentioned in this article about the history of TV lamps. I thought it would be fun to replace the rain lamp with one. Just a little spot of tacky decorative light on the credenza and a lot less maintenance.

But anything like this was an uphill battle a couple of months ago. Please excuse this terrible metaphor, but I felt like much of my life was spent paying off blackmailers rather than going to the hideout and kneecapping the source of the problem. I had a lot of inertia going. I was sad my lamp was dusty and partly clogged, and making a mess on the wall in the hot part of the summer, but didn’t have the energy or organization to deal with it. My list kept getting longer and longer. Today it rolled up on my to-do list, I found that motivation lever and dealt with it in less than an hour. It’s still very weird and something I’m trying to get used to.

4.

Last week I had trade school for the first time. It was a mix of classroom time with basic math review (area, radius, fractions, decimals, etc), OSHA training, and some shop time. I found the shop time the most challenging because I knew what kind of metal bends or folds I wanted to produce, but not always which machines did what and how to use them.

We had to make a useless duct, which was kind of a nightmare on the first go round and turned out very poorly!

My teacher said, “Write your name on your duct!” but I was embarrassed so hedged a little.

By the time Friday rolled around I passed the written test since math, history, vocab, and so on is not my hurdle. I was nervous about the final shop project since all we had was a spec sheet, but it finally clicked. I finished last, but I did fine and finished well within the time limit.

On one hand school was WAY easier to sit still, pay attention, and focus on, than it was from first grade through grad school. On the other, I was not ready for the feeling of being back to something I haven’t done in over ten years. Fortunately it’s only a week at a time and they really want you to succeed.

This week I talked to a cool journeywoman who was doing trimble work on my jobsite for a couple of days. She remembered me from the women’s meeting in October. I told her about my shop challenges and she said, “Oh yeah, I remember that. I’ve told them how hard that is for shop newbies!” She said she was organizing some shop time for the women’s committee to come in and build small objects like toolboxes for outreach programs in high schools. She told me that is a great time to come into the shop and take pictures of the machines with a note about what they do as reference for later. GREAT IDEA.

Work’s going well. Life’s going pretty well. Drugs have been like a switch going on in my life. There’s a daily “FLICK” when they kick in and my thoughts get orderly and calm, but even when they wear off (by midmorning) my mood still stays pretty good over the course of 24 hours until I take another one. After they wear off, though, I feel my brain getting skippy and sludgy again, which makes me bored and grumpy. I’m working out what a second midday dose will look like.

My doctor wants to put me on something really low dose and reasonable for a second dose so I can get to sleep at night, which I think is a good idea, since I treasure my restful, unanxious sleep now. I have an interesting reaction with these drugs. I’ve discovered I can take speed and immediately go to sleep if I need or want a nap. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. I don’t think it’s going to interfere with my sleep. What fucks up my sleep is not being on drugs and being out of work. I used to need to be exhausted, like utterly destroyed to stay asleep or fall back to sleep after I’d snapped awake at 2 or 3 a.m. But ideally I do need my brain happy and my body at least tired.


me unmedicated

I’m still not pushing myself super hard to take on big projects or new hobbies or even get back to writing…yet. I want to motor along for a while until being happy and getting things done feels normal and not novel.

Kiss my giblets

Not always, but glass measuring cups sometimes make me think of my mother. I’m sure she used it pretty often since she seemed to enjoy baking, but I don’t really remember washing them. What I remember is it coming to the table during Thanksgiving, full of giblet gravy, because my mother didn’t own a gravy boat. I own an insulated one and use it weekly in the winter. I am a hardcore believer in gravy.

I got frustrated with gravy for a while, because I was accustomed to making it with wheat flour. I tried adding the various starches like tapioca and arrowroot, but I never liked starchy gravy. Plus, these starches have a tendency to go to snot really fast, or overheat and “relax” again. Finally, I cracked the code and have been happily making rice flour gravy.

My mother’s version of giblet gravy included not only the turkey offal but chopped hard boiled eggs for extra stink. We didn’t eat organs at any other time of year, and I saw this as some of her vestigial southern-ness, which would rear its head at unexpected moments. I couldn’t get the liver and gizzard bits down and would try to navigate around the chunks as I spooned it onto my potatoes. Somehow my sister, who had as little culinary organ exposure as I did, emerged into adulthood liking it.

This is a silly thing. I thought for years about getting a 4-cup measuring cup. O FRIVOLITY, I thought. What would I do with FOUR CUPS? Finally my ye olde 1 cupper lost all its measuring lines and every time I sent it through the dishwasher my sad Sharpie marks would wipe off again. I had to let it go, and I bought a SET! One cup! Two cups! FOUR CUPS! Sometimes I serve gravy in it, because my gravy boat often runneth over and it saves well.

You may have guessed I’m thinking of Thanksgiving. I was casting about for different ideas. What if…I used recipes from 1916? Hmm, pretty boring and standard and similar to what people do now. The only difference is that apparently it was like Halloween part two. I’m trying to find Thanksgiving recipes online from circa the birth of this house, and Gourmet is not really coughing up the goods. I loved all the weird racist/sexist/whatever shit I found in the old issues a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure I’m up for spelunking through all that at the reference section of the Giant Robot Poop again. So I don’t know what I’ll do yet.

I’m back to work now, which is great. I like money but I miss crocheting every day.

I’m plugging along on a little granny square throw for Strudel right now. I got an old picnic basket from my local junk shop that seems to have been for a promotion by Chiquita bananas in 1968. I asked them to keep the plastic ware inside, and they cut me a little deal. Now my yarn lives in it.

I’m working in HVAC right now and I like my journeyman. I’ll probably be on the jobsite until Xmas. This job is VERY cozy. There’s a roof, windows, and I’m working for a company that supplies safety equipment. I didn’t know until I started with them that grinders were supposed to have guards. Seriously. This is also my first job where I’ve had an official break. It’s pretty common practice to skip break and leave a little early among companies, I’m finding, which can find you working in 5-6 hour chunks. Sitting down for a few minutes and having a snack after a few hours of work really makes a difference.

My journeyman is sneaky watching me. I thought he was teaching me and then letting me go on autopilot, but he called me out. “I saw you fix what could have been a mistake earlier, glad you’re listening.” Listening has always been okay for me, it’s the boredom that was killer and distracting. I’m pretty happy just plugging along with my (quieter, more linear) thoughts and not messing anything up.

The only thing that’s a little wonky is that my body chews through amphetamines pretty fast, so a pill that is supposed to last about 12 hours lasts for 6, tops. I get up, take a pill at 4, and it’s all gone by lunchtime. I can get along (albeit more slowly) but after lunch the white noise in my head that makes it harder to figure things out comes back. I tried taking it later, like before I get on the road around 5, but then I’m anxious on the highway, or I miss a turn, or it takes me longer to find all of my stuff.


need oil

Another thing that’s new is my time sense. I’m not a chronically late person, but if I’m home with no schedule it feels like I suddenly lose two hours, and dinner gets on the table later, or shops close and I can’t run errands. If I was at work, the last 45 minutes could feel like an eternity. Now it feels like time passes steadily. IT’S REALLY NICE TO FEEL LEGIT HIGH-FUNCTIONING instead of just coping.

Speaking of distractions…right before school started, we got Franny a pretty basic laptop, and as I mentioned she recently got herself a smartphone. It’s helpful for her to have research and writing tools for school when she needs them, but she is super goofing off on them now, which I expected. I was surprised how much time she spends on Youtube. She watches music videos with her sister, which is cool, because it’s kind of like a choose your own adventure version of the MTV of my youth. I introduced Franny to /r/youtubehaiku, and this is her jam, since her friends seem to compete to find the weirdest videos with low views.

I don’t see her as often as I used to, but she still pops into the kitchen to talk, or I pull her along on a dog walk or errands. It’s funny that one definition of successful parenting can be seeing your children less and less and not having to worry that they’re making horrible decisions while they’re out of sight. I guess even parents with the best intentions can be authors of their own loneliness.

LET’S RIDE BIKES


The daisy deadheads are sprouting. That’s a new one.

I told myself I’d wait a week before posting and I barely made it, just to give a little time to let the chemicals start swishing around. I went to the doctor on Wednesday after posting and I got put through the same sized fun factory hole that most people diagnosed with adhd get. Go in as a delectable scented blob that never comes out of carpet, extrude out as Adderall-flavored spaghetti.

She gave me the “this is a controlled substance” spiel so there’s a couple of extra hoops and I guess I’m supposed to be on the lookout for medicine cabinet pirates. (Spoiler alert: keeping the bottle in the ol’ meat wallet because there’s nothing like popping a warm Adderall in the a.m.)

?? I don’t know either.

The good news is that people who actually have adhd are less likely to abuse it. The bad news is that I am now noticing stuff like this everywhere. (TL;DR: Writer chooses to take Adderall without diagnosis, has a bad time, presents self as n=1 study.) I am hearing the NYT generally has a hate-on for Adderall. I guess you can’t sell news about people who are having an OK time. This kind of shit always made me go, “Yeesh, Adderall sounds bad, mkay?”

I had been warned about EUPHORIA. Well. We’re no strangers to love (or stimulants), so Day 1 was more like Mr. Toad’s Moderately-Amusing-But-Home-Before-Curfew Ride. I don’t feel really happy or sad, just calm. If something happens, I do have an emotional response, so I’m not zombie’d out either. I told Pete I felt like I was on wheels, like the alien spy girl in Mars Attacks! I was pretty shocked at what I’ve been putting myself through by self-medicating for so many years, because this is far superior to that. People say Adderall is really harsh and the comedown was a bitch on the first day, only because I wasn’t able to eat on schedule. Once I ate I felt better. I had about three days of new afternoon headaches but now I feel fine. Right now I have to remember to eat and breakfast and lunch tastes like cardboard, but I am told this will pass too.

My doctor said, “Let’s try extended release every day for a month, instead of the weekend breaks some people take.” I am VERY glad about this, because when I’m with friends and family is when I least want to be a confused bitch. Historically, I’ve been most functional at work, since I know people are expecting me to produce something. I can feel it wearing off in the evening, but it’s such a relief to have had many hours of calm, accomplished focus that I think I’m happier at night knowing I’ve had a pretty good day.

Here’s what’s not happening: I am not accomplishing everything that’s been on my to-do list for the last three years. I’m not walking through glass doors. I haven’t plucked all the hairs out of my arm. Guilty as charged: I did write my friend a six-paragraph email this morning. But we DO have some things to discuss, honest.

Here’s what is happening that is surprising. I have realized I get frustrated approximately 7000 times a day. The first day, Thursday, I decided to wear some boots to the noir festival. They didn’t go on quite right and part of the boot turned inside out and went under my foot. I felt a little BZZT in my head. It was like a little placeholder: INSERT TITTY BABY MENTAL TANTRUM HERE. Normally this would really annoy me, to the point where I might swear. Instead I just…fixed it. WHAT. This keeps happening. Maybe someday I won’t get the placeholder anymore?

I drove Franny to school that morning. I have a long, LONG history of hating Seattle driving. It’s terrible. I have even become part of the problem as I find myself going ten under often for no reason. I did not care about traffic Thursday morning. It wasn’t horrendous or light. It was just there, and I drove through it. I realized I wasn’t bored, even though I could reason with myself and say, yes, this driving is routine and boring.

Here’s a funny one: I hate writing, like with a pen. I love typing (CLICKY NOISES! FAST!), but I actually feel a sense of dread if I have to write a card or note. My brain skips around, which causes me to omit letters or words. Somehow it feels like a struggle to even hold the pen and drive it around, like my fine motor skills don’t work quite right. This goes back to being a kid as I tried and failed to keep a journal several times. I really wanted to write about my life, but it was pretty hard (hooray for blogging!). I didn’t start consistently writing fiction until high school when I realized I could use word processing software.

As a result of all this, I have serial killer writing most of the time. On Sunday night I wrote a note for Strudel, and I felt that little BZZT in my brain. “This is going to be frustrating and I am probably going to misspell things.”

However, I composed a fine note, and when I sat back I noticed something: my writing was better. It was…kind of fun to write again. I decided to test this a little. Obviously I knew I was testing myself, but I tried to put myself in the frame of mind that I was writing a routine note or a letter.

OK, it’s a little blurry but maybe you can see what I’m getting at. Top is last night, bottom is this morning. The top is actually better than usual, sadly.

I went to the grocery store on Monday, started at one side, and hit every item on my list in order. It was so fast. This is embarrassing: I used to take lists to the store, sometimes grouped by section, and I would STILL miss items. I spent a lot of time in grocery stores, circling around, backtracking, “ONE MORE THING!”

And now, a weird thing, that I’m not sure that I like. My head feels like a huge chunk of ferrous metal and whatever is loudest and most attention-grabbing (the biggest magnet) is going to drag my head towards it. On Thursday I had to go to a mini-conference for work. What a perfect day to start taking a new psychotropic drug, the day you go off to be trapped in a ballroom with 50 new people! Naturally I was dreading this, because normally I suck at people’s names, dealing with the boredom of sitting for long periods of time, and stammering when I speak as I forget words. I can fill up multiple pages with doodles at functions like these, like I did during my week of orientation last month.

A folk singer was part of the programming, which I was not looking forward to. She was obviously talented and had been at her craft for a long time, but generally I just don’t care for folk music. This is normally the point where I look like I’m listening, but I’m actually on a spaceship with Samuel L. Jackson and a unicorn. Escape! My brain is the best at it. It has inbuilt peril-sensitive sunglasses! I was already feeling pretty good, because I hadn’t been wracked with anxiety while talking to people, like I normally am.

However, I could not get away. I tried to count things on the ceiling. I thought about doodling. But I heard every activist-y lyric, every folksy guitar strum. This is what was in my own Room 101, I thought. But I didn’t get irritated, and it ended. Things keep ending, and I can move on, calmer and less exhausted. I’ll be interested to see how I feel after a month of this, and I’ll try to update then. And probably before then, because it’s not currently a struggle to form a sentence.


Wood’s here

Welcome Back to the Blog and Make it a Cool Font

Other than Pete, I’m going to talk to you about this first.

When I was younger, my weight fluctuated a lot. When I was poor, I ate less and lost weight. Then I had more money, and I shoveled in General Tso like there was no Tsomorrow and gained weight. I had a well-meaning but completely ignorant go at vegetarianism for about nine years. I was never what I derisively called a “french fry vegetarian” but there were many nights that were just salad and some French bread. Close enough. Like many people, I was also very uneducated about nutrition in general, which is something I tried to correct after I had Franny (how do you feed a kid? Let’s read several books on the topic and then get more confused).

So you take an ignorant person who’s not eating enough fat or protein, and combine that with mysterious and random pains and extreme tiredness, making it hard to exercise, and that person’s weight fluctuates. It was frustrating to me and of course I blamed myself. IF ONLY I could get my shit together and eat right and exercise, I would think. Everything would fall into place. That was the lie I told myself. I was on the right track, though. Everyone needs a good diet and exercise, but especially me, as it turns out.

For the most part, I fixed it. This is not news to you. The nutrition part was absolutely involuntary, but critical, and the exercise part is forced but, of course, voluntary with my career change. I’m very glad about those two things.

I thought some kind of magical transformation would take place once I started feeling better physically. I was super glad I was feeling so much better, and like I might want to and enjoy living past 50. But I felt like my progress bar was stuck on 79% or so, spinning, spinning…. I was depressed at times. Completely bored with my life but not wanting to or able to go back out into restaurants, bars, and movie theatres multiple times a week. I wasn’t suddenly going to discover rock climbing or anything. If I stayed home or worked outside, I felt better. But anxiety was still there, jabbing me, especially if I had to go out and function in the (corny) world. A visit to the movies could leave me in tears or vomiting, or both. I also knew I wasn’t functioning as well as I could be even after getting the corn out of my system.

I’m at a point now where I can’t struggle against myself anymore. It’s too hard. I’ve hacked and self-medicated myself for many years and I’m tired of doing it all on my own. I had a talk with myself. I’m super good at these.

BRAIN: Remember when we were on speed all the time and got so much stuff done and could remember people’s names and wanted to write bad scifi and there weren’t piles everywhere and people liked us and we could answer the phone?

Me: We don’t do that anymore, brain, now we have carrots and zinc supplements. Plus I think we were an acquired taste even then.

BRAIN: Yes but you have class coming up and things to memorize and your children are starting to work around your bad memory….

Me: SHUT UP SHUT UP

BRAIN: Maybe we could pretend…wait, what was I saying? You know what would be great right now? Getting into the shower and crying.

Me: We already did that today

BRAIN: You should get a tattoo! Or just start tatting. Tat-a-tat tippicanoe…

Me: ??? Thanks for nothing, asshole

Brain: *Hold please*

But my horrible, traitorous brain got me thinking. Speed and copious amounts of coffee was the only thing that kept me functional before I figured out I was allergic to life. Ready, this is where it gets REALLY pathetic.

Maybe…maybe I could FAKE adhd to get a legal script for speed. I started looking at signs and symptoms of adhd. I started reading message boards about people who have faked their way into the various drugs. I started reading people’s stories. Uh oh.

This was the lightbulb moment: I think…I actually HAVE adhd and wouldn’t need to fake anything. Shit.

I got tested a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Squirm factor rating was “Court” but with less emotional anguish. Think about a cavalcade of small tasks that you hate to do the most and do that for about three hours. For me it was things like mental math and memorizing, reordering, and reciting strings of letters and numbers. I kind of wanted to run out of the room. The battery was very thorough. And in the end, yes, inattentive adhd. I was honest about using stimulants for years and how they got me through graduate school and the doc said, “Yes, the fact that they work for you so well adds to the evidence that you have it.”

She said something insightful to me that made me feel a lot better and lose a lot of the guilt and shame of my lifelong, sad struggling. This goes way back, pretty much back to everything that happened after kindergarten. My complete disinterest in school, ever doing homework, complying with authority, being told I was smart but lazy. I was bored out of my mind, even in the face of new material (I had to really care about it to focus). Really my patterns of bad behavior were the origin for this blog. There are so many things I HAVEN’T told you about but that seal’s popping when Franny turns 18, ha.

What she said was pretty simple: “You told me you never did homework but skated into tests and passed them so they passed you on. You taught yourself what you wanted to out of books and ignored everything else. You’ve been successful at many things (referring to finishing grad school especially) and that’s because you’re smart. You’ve figured out how to cope.” She said she had one “aha” moment when I did well on the IQ test, pretty well on the memory tests, but as she watched me, she could see I was closing my eyes and chunking the numbers, like a phone number. I TANKED on the solo attention stuff. “You’re obviously better in a one-on-one setting,” she said, about my focus.

“This is the real me on no coffee,” I told her.

So now I get onto the (legal) medication-go-round. I feel so relieved. I am already having nicer conversations with my brain and trying to be more patient with it when I forget things right now or see a shiny thing. I am too old to think “YES THIS IS THE ANSWER NOW, we’re all done.” But based on my past experience I expect improvement. This is another lever I can pull.

Speaking of pulling people’s levers.

I did get Franny some actual factual birthday presents, but we hadn’t seen Mr. Coconut milk for a few months so I had to wrap it up. I was gratified by the “ARGGH” I was looking for.

I have a sixteen-year-old. Things are moving fast for her right now and it’s freaking her out. She’s leveling up. Her boyfriend has graduated and has a job. I took her to get a state ID the other day, which I figure she should have and will increasingly need. I turned over her social security card and implored her to memorize her number (she won’t). She is still volunteering at KEXP with her aunt but has just applied for her first paying job.

She asked me to shave part of her head last weekend, which I did. With the dog clippers, naturally.

I used to tease her about having a mohawk when she was little and it would always make her scream. I remember when my neighbor shaved most of my head in high school and my mother laughed at me until she was in tears. I still don’t get that reaction.

Franny’s flip phone is dying, and the “kid” service we have her on has gotten pretty lame. They no longer sell phones, and if you bring your own phone, it must meet a lot of criteria, like being older than one year, not certain models, etc. We don’t use any of the special features anymore either (we used to cut her texting off at a certain time of night so she would not have her sleep interrupted).

Pete, sensibly, doesn’t want to be a spurting artery of parental largesse for either of the girls, which is something I respect about him. We dithered about what to do. I thought about putting her on our phone service, but the reason it works for us is that it’s “pay for what you use” and we’re very light users (two lines, $45 a month on average). I knew her 5000+ monthly texts would really send us through the roof.

We made a deal with her. I told her I would buy her a very basic flip phone again, gratis, and she could pay for what she uses once she’s employed, which ideally will be before xmastime. I am also setting it up in the meantime so we get alert texts and features turn off if she goes near overages. Alternately she could buy herself a smartphone, and I would pay for text and talk, and when she gets a job we can turn on data and she can pay for the whole schmear. Naturally she went for the smart phone. I’m going to give her access to the usage page for our cell service as well so she can practice keeping an eye on that. As usual, trying to do the training wheels thing with her so adulthood doesn’t scream “BITE THE PILLOW, I’M GOING IN DRY” like it did for me.

Franny wanted to Do Something for her birthday, and we want to have more family trips, large or small, before she graduates. We haven’t gone anywhere since Maui Death Trip. We settled on a long weekend in L.A., which has Harry Potterport, Hollywood, and palm trees. Franny wanted to go to the Museum of Death as well. Strudel was tired a couple of days in and got headachey, especially after a day of roller coasters, so Franny and I took an afternoon to drive all of Mulholland Drive, which was really fun and beautiful. She sneaky peed at an overlook and I kept watch. “I’m a great outdoor pee-er!” she said.

We tried to hit LACMA after landing, but were tired and getting corned at the museum, so bailed out for the tar pits.

I skipped them the first time I went to LA, thinking they were pretty tourist trappy, but it was actually cool to see them bubbling.

One of my favorite parts was when we were on our way to Universal Studios and Pete realized that no one had packed sunscreen. We stopped at the West Hollywood Whole Foods and he ran in to get some. We watched a beautiful woman who had obviously just finished exercising pick out a selection of squashes and decorative corn. It was Friday morning.

“She’s having a dinner party,” I said.

“Her workout pants are very trendy right now,” Franny said. They had the little peekaboo mesh slashes. “I bet she’s a personal trainer.”

“I bet she doesn’t work,” I said. “Look at that ring.”

“Don’t pick that squash!” Strudel yelled from inside our car (windows rolled up). “It doesn’t go with the other ones!”

I was fascinated by the WeHo Whole Foods and I couldn’t figure out why. It was grubby. The produce really sucked. The clientele was weird looking in a LA way instead of in a Seattle way. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized…it actually looked and functioned like a city grocery store. Even the middle of town at Whole Foods here I feel like I’m in the suburbs somehow. Also we could not get much for gluten free beer (tiny violins, I know). Seattle is a very special bubble and I am very spoiled with great food and I know it.

It was nice to sneak in some 70s weather in the middle of October.

The air bnb was ADORABLE.

I know I have said next to nothing about Strudel, but she’s doing so, so well right now. She’s interested in picking up another day of violin, which we’re going to see if we can make work after xmas (also I am not working at the moment). She’s really a pleasure and taking to middle school beautifully. She looks a tiny bit stressed out every day because there’s still (always) Mean Girl drama. Recently a kid came back to her small school from the BIG cluster middle school, and we are so grateful to him because he gave everyone the lowdown about the fistfights and bullying and teachers completely phoning it in and she is glad to be where she is. Middle school is no picnic for anyone but she’s doing well. Challenged in math but a lot of the subjects are teaching the same units again.

She told me she goes to visit her incredible 5th grade teacher, the one who sorted them into Hogwarts houses and did math rpgs. He is back to having a group of very difficult kids this year, because this is the reward you get for being an amazing teacher apparently? Strudel’s group of gifted nerds was a brief respite year and cookie for him, we suspect.

“I’m bored,” she told him.

“Me too,” he said.

I feel like I can’t quite see who she’s going to be yet, which is how I felt about Franny in middle school. She’s still in the chrysalis. Franny is going to get more life experience, and more mature, but spending time with her solo in LA gave me a little preview of what our adult relationship will be like. Franny seems like she’s Alice, halfway through a wee door and trying to finish pulling through. She knows she’s the right size, but the door is kind of an odd size. Strudel is still Eat Me and Drink Me-ing herself dizzy. I’m not in a hurry, though. I’m enjoying Strudel and her weird tweeny ways now.

Jumping Nimbly Bimbly From Tree to Tree

I’ve got a day off randomly, due to the disorganization of the company I’m working for, I guess. Back to work one more day tomorrow and then I think I’m laid off again for a day or two.

In the space of an hour this morning I’ve made myself vastly unpopular. Franny was at her dad’s for the weekend and came home ill. She dragged through school on Monday and then texted me about staying home on Tuesday, then later said she vomited. Today I was lying in bed reading the headlines when she swanned in sadly.

“I decided I’m staying home again today,” she said, flopping down on Horace, who was happy to be a pillow.

“No, sorry, you’re going to school,” I said. Cue tears! She did not expect that.

“WHY.”

I gave her a little pep talk that wasn’t very peppy.

“So, we’ve got this thing that we’re going to have our whole lives. Some days you’re going to feel like shit. This weekend wasn’t your fault. You’re kind of a gluten prisoner over there. Remember how I ate that jerky at work a month ago and it said it was gluten free and it wasn’t? That was kind of my fault but kind of not. I had to suck it up and keep working, and go the next day.

“You may only be halfway there today, taking in half of the information, but you have to go. Some of it will come back to you later. It’s school. Phone it in, but you gotta show up. You’re going to feel glutened for days. It’s better to do something rather than just sit around doing nothing all day.”

I have to do this because the gluten brain WILL tell you to stay home, quit your life, gaze out of the window and sigh, while lamenting your 47 aches and pains. I’ve discovered I need a cheerleader to tell me life will go on and I need to go for a walk. Pete got sick recently from sanding drywall in the basement and I got him out of the house and walking as well, but the golden rule is: Not Too Far From Any Bathroom. I told her it’s like being a major pothead without the fun parts: all the spaciness and lack of motivation without any of the giggling or dreadlock beads.

OH STEREOTYPES! Where would we be without you?

Presently I hoisted my leisurely, news-reading self out of bed and made coffee so I wouldn’t be that guy who tells you to go to school, while you’re glutened, from bed. That’s a click away from wire hanger parenting. I did relent and tell her to cancel her guitar lesson right meow since that’s non-essential and I’m sure she’d like to avoid carrying her guitar around all day while achy.

Then I got Strudel, who could not find a tooth in a shark’s open maw.

“MOM do you know where the steak is?”

“In the fridge.” I knew she was standing in front of it, chillerating the whole kitchen already.

“I don’t see it!”

“Maybe ask your sister, since she put away leftovers last night?”

Franny was grumping in the bathroom and muttered something unhelpful through the door of her primp palace. Strudel marched back to the kitchen and sighed loudly.

“Do you want me to come look?” I asked.

“No…yes….no. It’s not in here.”

“If I find the steak, you have to make dinner.” Faustian!

She dithered some more, then finally agreed to the terms. I walked to the fridge and pulled the leftover steak out and handed it to her.

“FRANNY HID IT!” she said.

“No, she sensibly put it under the mushrooms, since this glass container is so much heavier.”

Then I danced around like this naturally

while yelling “I’m RUMPLESTEAKSKIN!”

“WHAT SHOULD I MAKE! I NEED TO GET THE COOKBOOK!”

“It needs to have at least three salads and a foam course,” I said.

“I’ll make foam with dinner when you do.” That’s fair.

Joke’s on her, though. I’m going to make dinner myself because I have the day off and I like making dinner.

I treated myself to a bread machine recently. I had one for years that someone generously cast off to me, and I used it for a long time until I got ill. I’m not sorry I donated it, because it was full of wheat residue. I am one of those people who likes eating bread, but doesn’t care for how dough feels. Like, to jibbly levels of no thank you. I have been a proponent of drop biscuits for forever for this reason. Hence, bread machine intermediary.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve done some runs at dairy free, gluten free breads, and have found the results mixed and fairly depressing. HOW MANY TIMES have I been snookered by a blog post claiming, “Your friends won’t even know it’s gluten free!” Like fun they wouldn’t, even if I was cruel enough to serve it to them. But now that we have our flour mix pinned down, and now that we have dairy back in the form of sheep and buffalo, it’s going pretty well. I am going to hang out on this cloudy day, drink coffee, and attempt a cheese garlic loaf in my almost-new machine. It had a test run last night with a cinnamon raisin loaf while we watched the first part of The Case of Jonbenet Ramsey.

I’m also fooling around with pizza dough a lot. I’m going to try GF girl’s weekly pizza jam for a while (scroll 7 years to get past the twee if you want the recipe). Sounds fun.

I cut my stupid face at work. THERE GOES MY MODELING CAREER!

Asspophasis

So I guess I’m blogging once a month right now. I still have that thing, that long, long entrenched habit, where I have racing thoughts about what I could write down, especially relating to the looking-glass that is work, but I’m not getting there. Something in my motivation has changed, post-corn. I used to feel like I was always running to something significant, like a good change, like more opportunities to do what I want with writing or travel or my hobbies. I’m not saying my life was always topsy-turvy, it wasn’t, just that there was something on the horizon. Lately I feel very static, like some pudding that has set up too much.

I spend a lot of time avoiding situations that will make me sick. Before I used to throw myself into them, because I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t know how to describe this well…before, I was always ill. I always felt bad and just learned to cope and try to grit my teeth and be pleasant. Now I feel well most of the time but I hardly go anywhere or see anyone. I have been considering masks but I feel like that crosses a line somehow. Says the person who prepares all of her own food and travels with her own sheets.


me rollin up in the art museum with my homies

I am going to try some nasal filters to see if that will help. When we go out we make like Persephone but we all still have to breathe.

Sometimes I think about jumping back in and eating and drinking corn with gusto, if only to get that frantic feeling of being REALLY ALIVE for a few hours, but then I remember that my hair was falling out and sometimes I would go completely, momentarily deaf from tinnitus. Lots of people live secluded, unknown lives and always have, but it is hard to step back and out of the world. I used to feel driven to write something, anything, even if it was complete garbage or something like, well, a blog (Venn diagram overlaps sometimes). Now it’s pulling teeth. My brain doesn’t crackle, it just sits, gelling. I’m facing living longer (maybe) but being completely bored with myself.

I don’t burden my girls with my thoughts along these lines. It’s not for them. They’re not my friends, they have no idea what existential horrors and delights will come when they’re in their 30s (neither do I of course). I do hope I intervened with them young enough that they won’t feel as outside of the world as I do lately. I hope we will all be able to find an acceptable way to get through.

It’s their first days of school.

This new middle schooler is a little excited.

This Satanist is starting her junior year.

There is something on the other side that is NOT black:

Normally I am frantic for them to go back to school, but this year they’ve been so easy and fun to hang out with. I’ve spent the last week with them because I got laid off (building was about finished).

No more being up on tall roofs for the moment. Next week I go to a week-long class that’s meant to be a first year trade orientation, kind of like electrician boot camp was. I’m in a pickle at the moment because of course they didn’t process my automatic union dues correctly, and I can’t come to class without a receipt. Administrative problems are rife in this union as well it seems. I’m sure I can straighten it out with a phone call.

If I don’t get back in a month…Friday (9/9) is my 15 year blog anniversary. I have outlasted Samuel Pepys at this point, though he was more frequent and diligent. I have some images I want to replace this banner with, but am even failing at replacing them (this template is completely terrible and I think it’s not helping with writing more often), which seems like a good project for an idle Friday when I am waiting to go to school and the girls are gone. Happy fall.

I’ll see you in the trees

The Twin Peaks festival has become a delineation for me. Leave for the festival in late July, and summer feels full of potential and as if we’re at the top of the hill, with endless fruit-gorging and hammock-laying ahead of us. The Monday I go back to work, the light looks different. The sun is already hanging lower and the day is shorter. People say (and it’s true) that Seattle summer starts July 5, and we often get beautiful days into October, but by early August something about the light reminds you that fall is coming.

Since the whole point of the festival is to discuss and celebrate a 25-year-old show that is partly about murder and is set in February, it serves as another reminder that the dark is always coming back. Weirdly, it ends up being a really comforting way to reflect on the seasons here and what makes this area special.

I don’t have pictures to post because I admit I have finally emerged into the present and was popping out pictures as we went. I did not pull out my trusty camera once. Franny dressed as the Log Lady, in part because Catherine E. Coulson died shortly after last year’s festival and she was a little sad. This year she didn’t place but she had a nice time being part of the contest.

With another year of living with food allergies under our belt, I think I did a little better at the food part of our trip. Staying at the festival is a little bit of a fox/corn/chicken/farmer problem since lodgings are limited. There’s cheap hotels with nothing around them and no amenities. B&Bs are pointless because we can’t eat there. There’s a hotel with a kitchenette but the festival takes it over and people party there all night. There’s the Salish, which is incredible, and where the “cool people” stay, but expensive and has nothing within walking distance.

Our compromise is a boutique inn that was a filming site in Fall City. I used to enjoy staying there because the restaurant and bar was good, it is a quiet area, and the inn and town is extremely cute. As I started to realize I had to make like Persephone everywhere I went, I still enjoyed the inn and its proximity to a small grocery store with a fruit stand full of Eastern Washington peaches and plums.

I was looking at feeding myself and Franny for three days in a room without a fridge or microwave. I brought our cooler full of hard boiled eggs, chicken breast, baked tofu, and sauces: Seattle-style teriyaki joint salad dressing, honey mustard, and a vinaigrette. I was looking for mayo- or oil-based sauces to make salads filling.

Yes, I hammered my protein by overbaking it. It was fine once it was cubed.

I also brought a ton of processed snack foods that we can eat: chips, dried fruit, nuts, and jerky.

We also brought dry goods like utensils and paper plates. I brought a french press and coffee I could drink for myself, since I don’t trust Keurig machines. I could run to the market up the street, buy fruit, buy a ready-made prewashed salad, and make a plate with lettuce, a protein, nuts, and dressing. Or we could just graze on fruits and jerky. Every time we left the room I cleaned up and “packed out,” throwing the remnants of our meal into the Dumpster rather than leaving a mess for the maid in the tiny trash cans.

With all of our care, gluten really isn’t the enemy anymore. The biggest obstacle is corn, and it was everywhere that weekend. I am lucky in that sometimes I can forget about our allergies for days at a time now that I work outside. Twin Peaks is fun but being in close proximity to people all weekend is hard. I greatly underestimated how much it would affect us.

First, the room of the inn had very strongly-scented sheets from detergent and fabric softener, so we were breathing that all night as we slept. Every time we gathered in a crowd people were covered in perfumes, fabric softeners, vaping, smoking. The movie night is held in a movie theatre in North Bend, lasts 4-plus hours, and the popcorn is flowing. We were getting achy legs and shoulders, it was hard to sleep well, and Franny was using her inhaler.

It’s very hard to motivate her to do much about halfway through the weekend because she gets run down and doesn’t combat it by drinking copious amounts of coffee like I do. Next year Morgan and I are talking about splitting a small house/cabin/condo thing that should have some kind of outdoor space to recharge in, as well as a kitchen for me to cook in. I think this will be nicer…it’s time to say goodbye to the inn since we can’t really use it properly and Morgan found herself eating meals alone some of the time since Franny was getting very sick in the dining room downstairs.

If you have read all this you may be asking yourself, why bother going? Our lives have changed so much in the last three years and everyday life now involves never eating out, or sitting in bars or coffee shops. Every time I go out I ask myself if it’s worth it to be in this particular crowd for this particular event…so many times the answer is “no.” So for now this is a thing that is really special and we rally and go.

I like that I can take a small trip alone with Franny every year too. We enjoy spending time together. We spent a lot of time between events in bed watching Forensic Files. Franny is obsessed with anything that involves modern crime solving.

The trip also reminded me of what Franny goes through every time she visits her dad now. I was feeling a little worried because she is spending less time over there, since she often gets glutened, always gets corned, and comes back with a cold, achy, tired, and in a terrible mood. I still don’t feel great about how she’s somewhat barred from spending time with that side of her family now, but it would be very hard for me to drag myself out to do the equivalent exposure of a festival weekend twice a month.

It’s further complicated by the fact that Franny has accepted a volunteer position as a DJ assistant for Morgan’s show on KEXP on Saturdays. This is great news for Franny, since she gets to do a cool gig, gets some aunt time, and gets the volunteer hours she needs to graduate, but it was supposed to be when she saw her dad. Franny’s also on a teen committee at the library this summer (at my insistence that she get some kind of job). She told me last night she’s happy I “made her” do something this summer and is meeting people outside of her high school.

I will say in brief that I am working my ass off this summer. Five tens and then eight hours on Saturday (Saturdays are somewhat optional but I try to work if I don’t have serious plans). I was a steadfast defender of the forty-hour workweek and am protective of my time and health, so I am actually surprising myself with what I’m capable of this summer. I’m in architectural sheet metal right now, which is basically installer work–get panels onto building.

I’m working on schools and am on roofs much of the time in a harness with a rope tail. I like the crew and get along with them well. I got “the talk” from the superintendent last Saturday. I swear there is some bylaw that says supers have to be assholes. “So, I was looking forward to firing you, but the guys like you and they say you’re doing a good job.” Um, thanks. Again I have lucked out and landed with a really nice foreman who is driven but does not verbally abuse people, use slurs, and can communicate. The age thing seems to make a difference. Anyone under about 45 is going to be more professional, generally.

I’m about to get my school schedule for the next year and am really excited about that as well. I’ll probably do a six month rotation with this company unless they lay me off when fall comes and school starts.

I shaved the dogs down again in anticipation of the hot month of August and it is gloomy and misty today!

So Edith dons her small sweater.

Is that all lard is?


(oregon grape carnage)

When I was a very little girl I remember visiting the Des Planes relatives and sometimes we would let ourselves in, because they weren’t home from work yet. My mother would stomple around the house, sniffing and making remarks she wouldn’t dare make if my stepfather’s mother was there.

One day when we showed up there was a large sheet cake in a bakery box on the kitchen counter. I loved that Platonic ideal of a kitchen, with its DOUBLE OVENS, 60’s color scheme, and wrought iron railing overlooking the den. A sassy plaque on the wall read, “too little to save/too much to dump/that’s what makes the housewife plump.” I didn’t think about the irony of that plaque at the time, but my grandma was an executive at a cellular phone company. I wonder if she did?

I have my own in the kitchen stairwell that I keep hidden as a homage. Pete hates it. The price tag on back editorializes, “sexist plaque.”

Mother spotted the cake on grandma’s counter and went to inspect it.

“Lard frosting! I knew it! Gross!” she hissed.

“What’s lard?” I asked.

“It’s like Crisco, but made from pig fat. YUK.”

This answer from my mother spawned many other questions that even at nine I knew not to ask. If lard was like Crisco, but made with pigs, then what was Crisco made of? What part of a pig was lard from? Did it make cake taste like my mother’s desiccated, sawdusty pork chops? We ate bacon and steak trimmings. What was wrong with lard?? All I knew is that her mother always had a giant can of Crisco, “butter flavored,” on the counter next to the can of bacon grease when I lived with her, and it helped make things like fried chicken happen. I imagine it looked something like that.

In my three years of living with my mother, I noticed she had a tendency to slam a lot of the things I associated with my grandmother and Southern cuisine. Certain things were “poor people food” or just rated as disgusting and inedible. It seemed that lard was on the list.

The cake was so white and beautiful. I couldn’t believe my grandma, who cooked wonderful holiday meals for 25 people, would knowingly buy a cake with something disgusting on it.

I remember eating the cake later, but not what occasion it was for–possibly my grandpa’s birthday, since I think he was the only summer birthday and I remember it being sunny and pleasant. I tasted the frosting very carefully. It was good: fluffy, sweet, creamy. The ribbons and shells held up on the edges very well without being crunchy like royal icing.

At that point I was afraid of disappointing my mother about anything. She established her expectation early I’d be her clone, or an extension of her, without my own thoughts or preferences. I picked at the cake carefully, worried that if I enjoyed it too much she’d notice. I ate the cake and made a smeary mess of the frosting, but stealthily ate most of it.

I had plans. I knew I would grow up someday. I knew I would learn to cook, because that’s what women in my family all did. I was determined to be brave and check out this lard stuff for myself, even if it was in my own home with my phone off the hook and my shades drawn. It did rekindle an interest in the Southern-style food I ate when I was very small, like grits. I embraced lard when I did my Victorian year and really learned how to cook with it.

It’s been super helpful now in these post-dairy times. Are you ready? Where is my cross to climb upon? We are going another round with Gluten Free Cooking of the Damned.

I wanted to make a red, white, and blue dessert on the fourth like I used to. I got busy, and then three o’clock rolled around, and I realized I needed to put ribs in the oven to slow cook and braise. No time to make a cake! Damn. I told my family it would be a Fifth of July cake since I already had committed a couple flats of berries. Pete made emergency brownies for the fourth and they were delicious.

So I picked it back up yesterday–Martha’s Wavy Flag cake. Stupid name, but somehow appealing. A fun fact about this cake is that I can’t seem to find any evidence of it ever being made or documented by a real person online. I used to find a lot of people blogging her recipes, or rating them on her site. This one seems to have slipped through the cracks. I read recently that many links online that are liked or shared are never actually clicked. Was this a phantom cake? Was it untested like Beeton recipes? I doubted that, but still. We’ve reached the online recipe saturation point. There is now too much to cook, much like there is too much TV to watch.

I’ve made a discovery recently relating to baking. We’re going sheep cheese crazy over here because I found out we can eat it without reactions or upset stomachs. As I blogged about recently we visited a sheep farm and now buy their cheese at the farmers’ market twice a month. My discovery beyond that is that I can bake with sheep yogurt. All I have to do is “water” it down with almond milk (gross and blasphemy I know, but it makes it like buttermilk). Before I was just using coconut or almond milk. It is giving my baked goods a VERY tender and buttery crumb, rather than just crumbly.

I was excited to try out my yogurt scheme on this cake. It was still a little more delicate than a gluteny cake, but I know to move slowly now. The layers seemed easier to split–you cut two layers in half for four cake layers (three filling layers).

I made a fluffy lard buttercream for the middle layer. I do miss cow butter when I want to frost something, but this frosting was good in a smaller dose. You create a ring to hold in the berries and make a white stripe layer.

I made blueberry and raspberry “quick” jams by cooking fruit down with sugar, taking them off the heat, and sprinkling in arrowroot. Arrowroot works well if you don’t continue to heat it (the starch will relax and let go under continued heat). I like that in this way it’s close to cornstarch. Tapioca can take heat but too much quickly turns into snot, and is best mixed with something creamy, like in pudding, not a jam. I stirred fresh fruit into the quick jam I made and that was the fruit layers.

I filled in the edges as best I could with leftover frosting. This cake has a gangster lean.


I used my favorite “frosting” now, which is the quick meringue from the Joy of Cooking. I use it in lieu of buttercream frosting or as a top for ugly fruit flip cakes. I find it less sweet and very pretty.


NAILED IT.

In Other News

I get my stitch(es?) out today. There’s no knot! Are they just going to pull it out? ARGH! I’ll let you know. But seriously, look how normal my wrist looks. Two weeks!! That scar is going to blend right in with my ever-deepening wrist seam. I looked at post-op pictures for the open-palm style carpal tunnel, and, triple ARGH. People end up with frankenhands that look run over with all the bruising. It looks like a lot of people heal okay but that it takes longer for some. My hand is so great and stronger every day. I love it.

File Under: “Now it can be told”

A big deal to me, more so than layer cake, but I am devoting fewer inches to it. This summer while I’ve been working as an electrical apprentice, I was contacted by the local sheet metal/HVAC apprenticeship program. This program and career was my first choice, but I thought they passed on me. It turns out they only take people once a year. They invited me to interview, and I got a high ranking on their list. The apprenticeship was all ready to dispatch me, buuuut I had surgery scheduled. The apprentice wrangler was happy to wait and work with me. So now I am back on the list and waiting for a call.

Rather than go back to work for a week or two, I quit my job with the electrical company I was working for. So, I am not going to be an electrician after all and I am really okay with this. My next step is to have my apprenticeship “transferred” through the state with an official form that I signed last time I was at the union in Everett. I will make a dry list by way of explaining myself to you.

Pros:

-Same pay (starts higher as an apprentice)
-Stronger union, better benefits
-More indoor work (depends, but generally speaking)
-Prefer the trade–working with metal/welding to electricity/pulling wire
-School is only 1 week, 4x a year vs weekly for 2-3 quarters
-Main office/school is closer
-Good CAD program
-Smaller point, but prefer using geometry to algebra
-Lots of women in the program/field and the program is actively recruiting them
-Automatic rotation every 6 months so you are well rounded

It will be somewhat harder to explain to people what I am doing now. “Electrician” is easy to understand, like teacher or accountant. But everyone knows what an HVAC system is. I am excited to learn welding and I have absolutely had my fill of a ton of school. I didn’t want the associate’s degree that the electricians were offering. I was dreading driving to Renton once a week for school and being deluged with homework. This is a much, much better fit. Now I have good experience on a job site and a fair amount of strength and endurance, and I am excited to get back to work.

Surgery gore natch

Here I am, FUCKING TYPING WITHOUT MY HAND GOING DEAD! Yeah!

I had surgery last Tuesday. The surgeon tunneled into my wrist and cut a tendon.

I am told this is the “good” kind of carpal tunnel surgery since they don’t open you up as wide. All I know is that I walked out of the there and as the preservative-free (corn free) Lidocaine wore off, I could feel my middle finger again. Not so much with my pointer and thumb yet, but I’m told sensation might come back. My tongue didn’t go numb at any point so I knew they weren’t poisoning me.

They did something called a Bier block, which involved wringing some blood out of my arm and then applying a tourniquet. They warned me that would be worse than the surgery, and it was. It’s strange, having your whole arm dead. Mentally I understood it was resting on a little surgery meat display case thing, but it felt like it was higher up on some weird stand. By the time they were stitching me up my back was crawling and I felt like I wanted to get away from my arm. Endorphins kicked in as well and I felt like I did when I was in labor (without the giant abdominal pain).

The first night was the worst. I refused painkillers (corny) and I woke up around 3 with a throbbing wrist. I take Goody’s and basically…beer. At this point I cannot find any liquor that doesn’t give me a corn reaction. My dream item is a little strip that I could dip into things to test for corn.

On Saturday Pete took my bandages off for me. The little tapes underneath, which I think were supposed to stay on(?) came all the way off in the shower.

I didn’t expect the whiskers, but I did say “make it look like a wistful Admiral Ackbar” so there you go.

Maybe you can see that my palm is bruised. It’s turning yellow now. It can’t really bear weight, but I can already push buttons and turn some things. Scissors and writing with a pen are challenging. I’m looking forward to going back to work…I dreamt I was playing D&D with my boss last night (he was the dungeon master).

Sleeping has been a dream since that first night. Since I hurt myself in February (which was apparently the last straw for my hands) I’ve been waking up with pain a lot and have had the deadness. Last Thursday (right after surgery, genius scheduling), I went to the sports medicine guy who diagnosed my right arm for electrical nerve testing on the left. The left is A LOT better than the right (no consistent deadness, and fine if I sleep in a brace) but I’m going to have it done around Xmas when I am done with my current job.

Yesterday I ran the smoker because I was still nervous about dropping a frame. Bee jacket or not, that would be a disaster.

Blowing the bees down so Pete can close up the frames after inspection.


The orange hive is going GANGBUSTERS. The purple hive had a little setback…we think they requeened. We interfered and transferred a frame of babies over to kickstart them, but we suspect they were already fixing their problem. Their population is growing but it a lot smaller. We’re seeing a lot of orange, yellow, and tan pollen legs right now.

The yard is just starting to pop since we’re a little shady under some firs–daisies are opening and our squashes are blooming.

The lettuce bed is paying dividends. HOW is it that I never planted lettuce before??

We’ve flipped tomatoes to the front yard this year but have a bunch of volunteer tomatoes and cilantro in the back from last year. As you can see, Pete is still indifferent to our dandelion situation, for the bees.

Franny made me a succulent pot for Mother’s Day and I got a plant at the Ballard Farmer’s Market which is unlike any I have in the yard yet. I love it.

Also, I got to see Strudel’s middle school promotion the day after surgery. It’s weirdly good timing to be home right now, since they finished school on Friday.

Strudel was very happy. She’s had a really successful last year of grade school and is moving on to middle school at the same school as Franny did. We are having preliminary high school talks now, but we won’t tour for a couple of years.

Her class held a last market day on the last day of school. These last few months they’ve been operating under some kind of Hogwarts theme and the teacher sorted them into houses. She was sorted into Slytherin.

I was very proud!

I made (gluten and dairy free) red velvet cupcakes with a ganache top, and now I realize I forgot to snap them. But I did get a picture of some booth signs Pete wrote to generate sales. He left it on the table before going to work on Friday and she picked the “Granny Voldy” one.

So now we get another week together. We’re going to grocery shop today and hit Math N Stuff tomorrow. I have bought a couple of new Wii U games. It’s nice right now…it kind of feels like the good old days.

I’ve left a lot of stuff out, but I have to go eat something. I’ve been spending a lot of time blogging in my head for the past few months (sad). Now that it’s not literal agony to type, I hope I will be recording more of my life again. It helps. Thanks for reading as always. <3

Beestung lips sounds so attractive until you think about it

On Thursday night we were poised to see the last episode of The Office. I threw on some first season episodes around Xmastime when I was cooking and the girls got sucked in. Five months later, we watched all nine seasons. I was very disloyal when it was airing and would dip in and out, only to binge watch a season at a time. I think it was a lot more enjoyable pacing ourselves like this and getting all the way through.

So I popped out into the yard after dinner to water the garden, which is growing well after the little cold period we had recently. We have some volunteer cilantro and tomatoes in my lettuce bed, which I will roll with. I have to take pictures soon. It is awesome. Anyway, I watered and came in and the girls were watching something short and I put my hand on my hip…and…BZZT! Stung in the middle finger.

I brought in a hitchhiker. I scraped out the venom sac right away. Friday was kind of miserable at work, with my hand steadily swelling and the site around the sting turning purple. I thought that would be the end of it, but my hand got enormous. It looked like the hand of an obese toddler by Saturday, throbbed, and hurt all the way down to the tendons.

Normally I have knuckle dents and visible veins and whatnot, especially now that I’m not kind of swollen all the time like I was when I was sick. There were some bony-ass fingers hidden under my bloatpaws and I love them. They look like the hands of a 38-year-old, instead of a pile of dough.

This afternoon I was marinating some chicken thighs to grill later when I saw it: a black dot in the middle of the angry, red sting site, raised past the rest of the raised skin. I knew I would have to operate. I scraped the skin off and there was hardly any blood, to my surprise, and then I found the stinger! No bigger than a hair, of course, but causing a lot of trouble. Damn.

Isn’t it amazing that most of the time when you get something foreign in your body, your skin either eats it or serves it back up to you like some kind of gross offering? Feels better already.