Monday, May 20, 2019


New bed from the corner of the drive
First, because I guess this is more important, I had my follow up exam with the eye surgeon today. We're a little more than 2.5 weeks out from the surgery, and he was very pleased. More importantly, he was pleased enough to put my next appointment at the end of September, so other than twice-daily eyedrops until I run out, I'm FREE!

Second, almost as important, the front hedge is gone and I'm well on the way to having the garden borders I only dreamed of when we bought Sleeping Beauty's cottage-behind-the-hedge. 

It's taken a few weeks, ten yard waste bags and a few trash cans full of debris, but the entire frontage is now clear of hedge, English ivy, and vinca (which I loathe almost as much as ivy for its ability to run everywhere and pop up where I think I've removed it).

I put in some plants that I split off from mine - I love coral bells' ability to increase magically during the season. Between those and hostas and a few lavender from the local garden center, and two Autumn Joy sedum picked up at a yard sale on Saturday, along with a puny hydrangea that I got at Aldi for $4, the beds are furnished and covered in leftover wood chip from the back yard.

The side bed was done last fall and some early spring
Large scale gardening is never a budget-friendly thing, but if you've got a strong back and patience, it gets done on the relative cheap. I figured out that between landscape fabric, raised bed kits, 2 yards of wood chip, 2 yards of mushroom soil/topsoil combination, veggie starts and seeds, and those few new plants for the front border, I've spent just under $500. It's a little ouchy to think about, but the bulk of that expense will never be repeated, and the plants will either give us food or more plants for next year.

So I'm calling it a win.

Obligatory before photo
And yes, I'm tired from all that digging. Mario helped when he got in from work, but since I'm home all day right now, I did the bulk of it because...impatient.

Serves me right.

Bonus tidy back yard status photo

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


So despite my afflictions (which are getting better, BTW, though I'm still ridiculously red-eyed), I've been getting a lot of writing done.

Since one of my eyedrops is to keep my eye dilated, I'm a little light-sensitive, so typing in sunglasses has been the order of the day.

But I've hit 65,000 words on the new book and I'm happy with it so far. Obviously it's a first draft and there will be massive rearranging, swearing, rewriting, and various other forms of self-inflicted writer torture yet to come, but still.

65,000 words is no slouch.

One of the fun things about writing historical fiction is the stuff you get to research. Instead of the Tudor era, like my other book, this one is actually set in times where I can access newspapers, which I did. I made a very, very organized list of things I needed to know, and got myself a seven day free trial of, and knocked out most of my list, including a few things I hadn't planned on researching, but that fit the time period and themes of the book, so they got included.

Some topics that got researched: bootleg coal mines, the Lindbergh baby, the Bonus Army, the prices of everything in 1931-1933, Hoovervilles and orphanages in and around Philadelphia. Also, what it's like to have many children - something I obviously don't know firsthand, but an online friend was kind enough to answer a long list of questions so I feel like I know my main character a little better.

I sometimes read, but doubt I would ever write fantasy: I'd rather research a world than make one up from scratch. I read, but am not sure I would ever write contemporary, either, since one of the reasons I write is to get away from the present. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Normal is good

So on Wednesday we got up at the ass crack of dawn to drive to the hospital. Know what sucks about being up that early? We drove almost a half hour, parked, and were inside before the sun even came up. The least I expected was a sunrise.

Somehow I had neglected to realize that anesthesia, even the local variety, would require an IV, and we had to do the dance of needle phobia again. They knocked me totally out for the very beginning, and then brought me up so that I could respond to directions to move my eyes, etc. Somewhere close to the end of the procedure, I realized I was listening to conversation and equipment noises, but it didn't bother me. Then they rolled me back to my cubicle and I startled the nurse by getting up and asking for coffee.

I had to wear the fly shield over the eye all yesterday, and took it off this a.m. at my follow up appointment, where I was given three kinds of eye drops, each with its own schedule.

I can see ok already. There are blurry spots in my vision,which will clear as the stitches dissolve and the swelling goes down. The white of my eye is pretty solidly red, which is bruising. I'm a little discolored, but not the shiner I expected.

Another appointment in a week to see how the healing is coming along. Assuming it's started already, because the stitches are itching like I've got sand in my eye and I can't rub or scratch.

Best part of today: the shower in the afternoon and wine with dinner. Normal is good.

Monday, April 22, 2019

I'm a grownup

In other words, I made it through my pre-admission testing last Wednesday without having a toddler meltdown.

Medical history, basic exam, blood pressure, EKG ... all normal except BP was a little elevated, probably due to my stressing about needles.

Or, as the nurse taking it said, "It could also have to do with that extra 15 pounds you're carrying."

Like I don't know. And I compared it to hers, and she said she had 20 on me, and we both started laughing.

The blood draw was remarkably painless. Which I knew it would be, I just can't look at needles without wanting to pass out. Interesting for someone who sews all the time and who has literally sewn THROUGH her finger twice with a sewing machine.

And speaking of, meet my new lovely. The hospital had a thrift store, and that was my reward for not having a tantrum. The machine wouldn't have happened except Mario pointed it out to me sitting under a table in a cute little olive green-and-gold suitcase.

It sews like a dream. I test drove it on my surgical instruction sheet, just to show it who was boss.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Small town

Speaking of my village, I just ran across this picture on my phone that I took last year. I don't know Megan, and I don't know the groom, but I do love knowing that I live in Bedford freaking Falls.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

It took a village

2018 - Before before
As always, my back yard is a work in progress.

At the old house, first it was roses, then roses and flowers, then roses and veggies, and finally, veggies with a few roses shoved in around the edges.

I'm trying to be more organized here, and I've found a way that keeps me from changing my mind every year. The front yard is flowers. All flowers, all the time. The side yard is flowers and the blueberry bushes, because the like the sun there.

The back yard is veggies, and to make me stick to that plan, I've installed eight raised beds, covered the paths with wood chip, and filled the beds with a mushroom soil/topsoil blend.

When I say I've done this, I do mostly mean I've done it. I got the raised bed kits last summer, and they spent the winter in the garage. About a month ago, I cleaned up the yard and rolled landscape fabric across the entire space, except for the back corners where I still need to get shrubs removed (I know, should have been done first, but can't anyone to do it). Then I placed the beds, and ordered the wood chips and soil to be delivered from a local place, each load a week apart.

Beds in, wood chips down
Last week, two yards of wood chips. I borrowed a wheelbarrow from a neighbor, and it took about 2.5 hours to wheelbarrow all of it from the driveway and spread it around the yard. I was tired, but not too bad. I figured the soil would take longer, it being heavier.

I was right. Soil arrived yesterday, mid-stucco repair. The driver, deciding for himself that I hadn't ordered enough wood chips, added an extra half yard on the house, and he shoveled those out first. (I was actually fine for wood chips, but my policy is never to say no to a freebie, so...). Next he dumped two yards of soil.

It didn't seem like a big pile. The driver actually shoveled the first barrowload himself, because he said he needed exercise. The stucco guys did a few loads, while I brewed them all a pot of coffee. Then the men got back to doing what they were being paid to do, and I started shoveling. And shoveling. And shoveling.

Even more than it looks like
The soil arrived at 11 a.m. My next door neighbors, whose half of the drive was filled with my dirt, came home around 3 p.m. and told me to sit while they shoveled for a while. The brother was strong, but a little too energetic with the wheelbarrow, so the extra wood chips will come in handy to cover where he dumped soil on the paths. They eventually went in to start dinner, and I continued shoveling until Mario got home at 6. By that point, there were about 5 barrow loads left, plus the sweeping. I sat on a raised bed and directed him, because by that point I couldn't raise my arms, my legs were shaking and my feet hurt from being on them non-stop for hours in cheap sneakers.

Just as I was heading up for my shower, I got a text from my neighbor down the street. "Saw your madness, you must need food. Clean up, be here at 7." She fed us a lovely roast chicken with Thai rice and string beans, and we brought a bottle of wine.

I was in bed by 9:30, and I can't say I've ever been happier to go to sleep while the rest of the world was still wide awake.

As done as it gets - for now
Today I'm mostly okay, and the parts that hurt at least tell me I was lifting properly - my hamstrings, inner things and my abs are killing me. My back and shoulders are just tired.

But now I have a clean slate, and when I can look at it without flinching, I will plant it.

In the meantime, I'm happy to know that while I can do it myself, it's nice when my village chips in to get it done.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

If I'm being honest

To work or not to work, that is the question.

Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of public transportation, annoying lawyers and crowds of people, or to stay home, in my happy place...

I got a call the other day from one of the offices where I've temped in the past. They're doing a bit of staff reorganization (where have I heard that before?) and need coverage during the period of disruption.

I said that I was still only willing to work three days per week, and they're fine with that, after the first week or two where they need some extra help.

I'm waiting to hear back regarding salary and hours - this preliminary call was just to confirm that I was still looking for part-time work - but now I'm reconsidering.

Do I want to go back into an office? I don't need to right now - and part of me would like to work from home, getting ready for craft show season and seeing how much I can get done on this new book.

I've never tried writing one flat-out because of interest before; it's always just been something I did because I enjoyed it. But now that the first book will be published in November, I need to think about a follow up. I'm never going to make a living exclusively from writing - the days of that happening are pretty much over unless you strike it REALLY lucky or are able to churn out a half dozen books a year.

But I also don't need much money. I figured out when I left full-time employment six years ago just how much I need to get by, and that was when I had a $1K per month mortgage. Life costs less now.

Plus, show season starts at the end of April, and my surgery is scheduled for May 1st. And somewhere in there I'll be dealing with the stucco contractor rebuilding the top portion of the chimney, and I'd really like to be around to supervise him. (Or get under his feet and annoy the crap out of him, if I'm being honest).