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Before and After, Part Deux


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The camellia in late March. Kind of glorious, wasn’t it?

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The camellia yesterday – apres haircut.

Please tell me it will grow back and stop looking like the tree equivalent of a game-show host comb-over. I know it needed to be done. But… but…




Some Favorite Things

No, there’s no giveaway. Sorry. I am not her Oprah-ness.  I was just thinking how grateful and lucky I am to still be on this side of the dirt, and I noticed some of my favorite things on the planet, besides the darling husband, sprogs, family, and friends. Here they are, in no particular order:

Plain Chocolate Digestives ( or cookies):

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Dunk them in your tea. You can thank me later when your mouth isn’t full of melted chocolate and cookie.

Branston Pickle and cheese sammiches:

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You take lovely chewy fresh bread, maybe spread a little butter on it, cover it with a small dollop of the Branston pickle, add your favorite sharp hard cheese and.. VOILA! Best. Cheese. Sammich. Ever. Branston Pickle is like a chutney, but it’s magic against the sharpness of the cheese… kind of like quince paste and a Spanish cheese.

Purple Converse All-Stars (Chuck Taylors) and a bright green Coach bag:

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I don’t even think I have to tell you why I like these, do I? Do you find yourself smiling when you look at the picture? I know I do.

Roasted beets:

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Because I need something nutritionally sound to offset the chocolate bikkies and the cheese and pickle sammiche.

Gilchrist and Soames Bee Kind Lotion:

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No petroleum products, a lovely lemon fragrance, and a light feel that is easily absorbed by your skin. I love this stuff. Got mine through BirchBox – but I think you can find it other places.

Have you ‘found’ anything lately that you adore? Share with me, and I might have a little bit of a prize for you – assuming I can haul my carcass to the post office this year!

Before and After

Because we live in Oregon, gardening in the springtime can be a little problematic. It rains here, you see. And once it rains, the ground stays mucky and soggy for at least a week, or it does up here where I live. (Our soil is so clay-y you could take a handful and make a pot without much effort at all.)

But every now and then we get a break in the gloom, the heavenly choirs sing in tune and…  *LAAAAAAAAA* the sun comes out. And stays out. And the temperature rises so much that all native Oregonians begin our ‘why is it so HOT’ whining. In between said whining and whinging, we run to the plant store, mow the lawn at a lope in case the rain comes back, and weed like our lives depended on it.

We had a week like that in April, and another one this week. Here are the before and after shots of the garden, as it stands now.


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And then in May:

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Shot from a different angle, but the vegetation is pretty similar.

Patio plants in April:

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Patio plants yesterday:

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Hanging baskets in April:

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Baskets, grapes, and blueberries now:

2014-05-17 17.21.08It’s still early days, though. If everything survives the hailstorms, downpours, and slug invasions, we might have a very pretty yard in July. Or it’ll look like a monument to black spot, mildew, and mold. I dunno. It could go either way. We Oregonians are a gambling people.


Another Goal, Shot to Hell

I’m not talking about a sportsball kind of goal, I’m talking about my earlier goal of posting something here once a week. *shakes head* That didn’t last long, did it?

In my defense (because there has to be a defense), nothing very exciting happened around the Castle. Sure, I lost money at a casino. Sure, we celebrated Mothers Day. But nothing really LIFE CHANGING occurred. Here’s what did happen:

1) It got hot. Twice. So hot we’ve had to water the plants a few times. It’s already been over 90 degrees, and we’re still in mid-May. I’m wilting already.

2) For three or four days, I got to enjoy what my brother calls ‘the scoots’. Ahem. We also call it ‘The World Falling Out of My Bottom’. (Sorry for the overshare, but when bowel issues are the only thing you can think of to illustrate a lack of events, it solidifies your point, doesn’t it? *snicker* I said ‘solid’. See what I did there?)

3) I went to the local casino with my Motherp and my wonderful friend Helen. Motherp won about $12 at blackjack. Helen and I lost money on the slots. Gambling problem? Sure, I’ve got a gambling problem. My problem is I never seem to win.

4) My darling husband, the most committed teacher in the world, took a personal day to do something personally for HIM. In ten years, he hasn’t called in sick once, or used a personal day for anything other than a family issue. I am so proud he played hooky for one day. Everyone deserves a little break, every now and then.

5) The only time Mothers Day becomes important to you is when you can’t celebrate it with all your babies at once.

6) Someone complimented me on my skin, telling me I looked twenty fifteen ten years younger than I am. Seriously, fat fills out all the wrinkles.

7) I started Eeyore-ing about my non-existent writing career, then realized I hadn’t done much writing or working on said career in a few weeks. Funny, isn’t it? If you don’t do the work, somehow nothing happens. It’s not exactly rocket science.

8) My work cat tore my favorite new summer shirt. My home dog peed on a few more things and ate other things she wasn’t supposed to eat.

9) Kevin the Kitten is still the most adorable, fuzzy and cute kitty ever. Sure, he likes to lay down on my seedling plants, but what uber-furry cat wouldn’t want a cool place to plop down when it’s 88 outside? I only swore at him for a few minutes.

10) Two pictures for Mothers Day:


This is my Motherp holding oldest sprog on my very first day of being a mother. I look comfy, don’t I? Probably afraid my innards were going to tumble out.


This is my darling mother-in-law, her mother, oldest sprog, and me. Four generations.

I’ve been very fortunate to be mothered by some wonderful women (including Motherp, MIL, my Not-So-Evil Stepmother, my aunts, friends, etc.). They have my gratitude for, well… for everything.

Cancer Can Go F*** Itself

You’ve probably all seen the memes on Facebook or other places on the ‘net. ‘Share this if you care’. ‘Share this if you know someone’. ‘Share this if you’re not a heartless, unfeeling, horrid person who also has dandruff, halitosis, and bad cuticles’. 🙂

Cancer Share

I admit, I don’t share. I’m not judging people who do, or people who ask – just telling you why I don’t.

I know people who’ve lost the battle. I know people battling now. One of my best friends in the whole world got a devastating diagnosis a little while ago. Son-of-a-bitching-mother-loving-horse-deflowering-stupid-head disease.

I. Hate. Cancer.

So while I may not share the memes, or the graphics, or the status that’s been requested of me, please know that I understand the fucking battle. I understand what’s at stake and what there is to lose. I understand looking death in the eyes. I’ve walked in those shoes. I ache for every single person given a diagnosis of cancer, no matter what stage it is, or how ‘curable’ it is.

I get it.

But I’m already beaming all my healing lights out into the universe. That means cancer has a lot of my attention as it is, and I won’t allow any more of my world to revolve around a disease I hate. I don’t share because I don’t care – au contraire. (See what I did there?) No… I care for everyone – with sympathy, with empathy, with rage and hate for such a useless disease. I simply have nothing left to give to ‘show’ social media how much I abhor cancer.

Since I can’t and won’t – will you share for me, please? Share often and share liberally.

I’ll read the graphics and memes, wish a sudden and quick death to all cancer cells, and move the hell on.

My Life Is Dog Pee

Really, it is. Casey the Soggy Springer has managed to dribble just about everywhere there is floor. She would give Houdini a run for his money at being an escape artist, because she can shinny out of a dog diaper in about 0.12 seconds. I’ve clipped it to her fur, tightened the velcro, pinned it together – no luck whatsoever. I’m approaching the staple-it-on-the-damn-dog stage, which is not a good stage to be.

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On the plus side, my kitchen has been mopped twice in three days. So there’s that.

She’s also decided to shred every bit of garbage in the house she can sink her teeth into – kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms are all up for grabs for her. She especially loves the youngest sprog’s garbage, because he snacks a lot and he still lives with us. But mainly he snacks a TON – he is a firm believer in the Hobbit eating schedule (which I’ve loosely adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien):

Breakfast, snack, Second Breakfast, snack, First Lunch, snack, Second Lunch, snack, Dinner, snack, dessert, snack, snack, snack. Your Hobbit meals may vary.

Since youngest works at a grocery store, he can buy his own foodstuffs. Which means he buys deliciousness all the time, and has wrappers and bags and all sorts of interesting things in his garbage. Which the Dog of Enormous Badness dives into with a glee not unlike a toddler in a candy shop. Today, I was gone for approximately five minutes, and when I returned, I caught her standing on youngest sprog’s bed, trying to reach something in the middle of his desk. She didn’t even hear me come in the house, she was so intent on her prize. She’d already torn apart the garbage, naturally, and was looking for something more substantial.

The Dog of Enormous Badness and Sogginess is locked in her kennel now. With a diaper on, I hope.

And I am contemplating vodka shots at 11:30 in the morning.

Friday Stuff

It’s been a week since I reactivated things here at the Castle… mostly just the blog, but I’m trying to reactivate lots of things. Exercising took a back seat – in a vehicle a mile behind me – while I had The Plague. I need to get things moving again. Oh, and my food intake needs to be corralled a bit – I need to rein in the sugar and the refined carbs. *sigh* Those are the things that taste the best, you know. Like these –

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Chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. I made them last night, because there’s never enough chocolate in regular chocolate chip cookies. *snort*  I will admit – one of these is enough to satisfy any craving. However, you feel your pancreas losing the will to live when you take the first bite. “Nope”, it says, “My Islets of Langerhans have just stopped working. You now have diabetes.”

It’s been a Good News – Bad News kind of week here. I’ll give you some examples:

Good – we’re getting a large tax refund because we had three people in college last year. Bad – I missed something on the 2012 return, and owe the IRS $600.

Good – this spring has been damp enough to make everything a glorious green. Bad – the hail storms this week tore leaves off of almost everything.

Good – my kids are all getting lots of hours at their jobs. Bad – I miss seeing them, now that they have no time for stupid Mom.

Good – I finally got some feedback from a couple of agents. Bad – all the feedback came in the form of rejections.

Ah, well. It could be far worse. I’m close to celebrating a two year Cancerversary (thank Bob), so every day alive is a blessing. My kids are all happy and healthy. The soggy Springer Spaniel is driving me nuts, but she’s cute when she’s not leaking pee on everything (so if you come over to my house, all you’ll smell is the cloying odor of Febreeze). My friends are fabulous, my family is the best ever, and I found something to wear to the dressy party tomorrow. It might have come from Portland Tent and Awning, but I’ll be dressed in something other than jeans and my precious Disneyland sweatshirt.

Here’s something to remember:

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Smart women also clear the table off before taking a picture, too. Way to go, Ansel Adams.

How’s spring treating you and yours?