Friday, May 10, 2013
The real estate closing finally went through, so I now don't need to move. I have a (small) nest egg, a steady income through the mortgage (which I'm holding, not because a bank wouldn't accept the borrowers - I learned that lesson years ago - but because the buyers are Amish and don't want to deal with "English" banks right now. It's all good - no worries) and several part-time jobs that I love - one as greenhouse keeper and landscaper for Heritage Farm ( heritagefarminc.org ), one writing, one growing organic things and one doing artsy stuff. I'll get the links up for those in the near future, for anyone who wants to know what I do in my "spare time".
I've been marginally interested in the fact that I seem to have grown some sort of emotional exoskeleton that is fear-proof. I'm not afraid of change, but I'm not especially interested in it, either...no fear, but no...other emotions that humans seem to relish. But that's not what we're here to talk about.
Parenthetical: (I've finally come to terms with the fact that, as a widow, an orphan with no relatives and an empty-nest person with no money to speak of, I have no one to please and no one to whom to be accountable but myself. I'm trying to figure out where one goes from here. I really am trying, and thanks to Bereavement counseling, I'm making some progress.)
Anyway, the thing about the land sale that becomes relevant here is that, now that I have money to spend on stuff, I seem to have reverted to old bad habits - too much salt, too much alcohol (can you read "margaritas" in this?") and generally eating Whatever instead of planning decent food. This, obviously, is not acceptable. I'm halfway through my weight loss, and I'll be damned if I'm going to regain the first half rather than going on to lose the second.
I bought a juicer (a Samson ...Advanced? Evolved? Improved? Anyway, better than the last one) and am preparing to do a Juice Reboot ( http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/ ) Please don't tell me how this isn't good for me long term - I don't intend to do it long term. I just need something incredibly structured to get myself turned around to face front again. I'm also growing wheatgrass to juice - the cats ate my first batch, but I'm replanting.
As if that weren't enough, I'm also doing the Spring Into Summer Challenge. Responsibility, thy name is Scooter. I will do for others what I would never bother to do for myself (we'll address that another time as well), so in order not to let my team down, I'll keep up with it. All the weighing and measuring and recording and generally trying to Play Well with Others.
I figure that between buying a new piece of moderately expensive kitchen equipment and being in a situation where others count on me, my Scots blood will keep me on track.
In fact, I'm seriously considering having the MacNeal badge tattooed on my person. It wouldn't be my first ink...that was 18 years ago, when my baby went to kindergarten. I took a sledgehammer to my bathroom, sold my Mercedes for $1 to the bathroom repair man - it needed $10,000 worth of body work - and got my first tattoo. Yet another thing for another day. I'll apparently be bending your ears (eyes?) for some time to come.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Well. It looks as though last year's experiment - let the back yard go totally wild, and have a lovely meadow full of flowers - was a Complete Fail. Rather than a meadow, I got a scrubby patch full of burdock and brambles, studded here and there with hidden piles of dog...leavings. The point of the trial - aside from sheer laziness - was that a friend had reported great success with this, and that the yard is extremely uneven, everything from trees coming out (or going in) to a sinking leach field to Lord alone knows what other reasons.
I thought I'd spend today out there hauling out a large hunk of a cherry tree, an apple tree that died but resprouted from the root stock (which never works, incidentally - they graft the good apple tree onto different root stock and you rarely get anything usable from the regrowth), digging out the burdock and the brambles, raking everything out and generally getting ready for this summer, in which I'll do everything differently.
About an hour into this, I realized that the only progress Lucy the Dog and I had made was that we were both covered with burdock pricklies. We also discovered that the wire fence (that covers and is taller than the post fence to which it is attached) has come down in several places. If it were a house, we would say, "This is no longer a fix-up. This is a teardown."
So I went inside to consider and retrench. New plan: on Monday I'm going to retrieve my tractor from my neighbor. After he starts my chainsaw for me ( ) I'm going to cut down the apple tree that is regrowing, the 1/3 of the cherry tree that blew down in a winter storm (we'll see if it lives - I hope so), and then hook the rake onto the tractor and rake it that way. I'll need to go back and dig out the brambles, but all the dead grass will be done with. Then, I think, I'm going to try smoothing out the lumps with the back blade. If that doesn't work, I'll borrow the backhoe. Have to be careful of weight, though, because of the Stupid Leach Field. Once it's leveled, the grass should come back easily and I can proceed with Normal Yard. Need a new grade door out there too (that's that slanted door that covers the steps to a cellar) - mine apparently gave up under the snow load.
Not sure yet how to handle the fence. I really ought to unfasten all the wire, lay stone, then put the fence up again so the grass won't grow and the base (and thus no whacking) but I doubt I'll do that properly. I'll probably whack it once, then lay newspaper over it, then mulch and hope for the best.
The front gardens are still waiting for their fall clean-up, so I need to get busy on that right away. Part of the stone wall fell out - again - so I may pull that all down and relay it, but I seriously doubt it. Likely I'll just put the stones in a neat pile and hope for the best (you'll note I do a lot of that.)
Have to chop out half the rugosa, which is now roughly the size of a small SUV, and chop down the Japanese honeysuckle (again.) Maybe I'll chain it to the tractor and just rip it out. Messy but quick.
Then the raised beds have to be cleaned up and the paths around then cleared and re-papered and mulched.
And that's all before any planting can happen. Luckily there are some bulbs blooming here and there to encourage me.
But luckily (I suppose...) I have about another month before I can really plant anything, because of our absurdly late frost date - and I hate ditzing with plants, dashing out to cover them if they are in danger. I plant them once and wish them well. Sure, I do all the maintenance type stuff, but that's later, and it's fun, I think.
The "Life" part comes in when you realize that this would have been much simpler if I'd attended to it properly last fall. Like so many Life Issues, the old Stitch In Time thing pertains. Also, that things happen when you're not looking - the wall falls down, the tree splits, the grade door caves in, there's a giant ant nest in the fire circle - and they are, in all probability, not going to be discoveries that will be good news I'm sure there's some lesson here that I ought to learn, but probably won't.
Here's what it looked like last year:
And I'm not just an enthusiast - I'm a NY certified landscaper, arborist and master gardener, so if anyone has a problem (anything, if you're in the northeast, only very general stuff if you're in, say, Texas), describe it to me and I'll try to have an answer for you, or at least tell you whom to ask.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
On the way home from fetching cat food, I was listening to NPR. They were talking about the flooding on the Mississippi, and how it's difficult to get cooperation because it passes through so many different jurisdictions. The commentator said, "It's like a child with 800 parrots, but he's an orphan."
"Yeesh", I thought. "If my son had 800 parrots, I'd leave home, too."
I was a good ten miles farther along before I realized he'd said 800 *parents*.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
(Warning: this blog isn't my usual mix of cheerful and snide )
...but I just can't seem to get myself together today.
I woke at my usual 6:30, but because I knew the house would be freezing (don't ask) I stayed huddled in the bed with Lucy (the dog) and KayKay ( the cat who sleeps on my head), reading and generally putting off the inevitable. Finally rolled out about 9:00.
Proceeded to do absolutely nothing other than drink a mug of coffee and eat a handful of walnuts for the next FOUR HOURS. I have plenty to do, but no will or desire to tackle any of it. Halfhearted Sparking, some staring into space. I have to (as in MUST) go out at some point today, because I'm out of cat food.
Finally took Lucy for a nice long ramble - although FitBit only acknowledges 2800+steps, WE thought it was a nice long ramble. We went in the grove where the people are buried (supposedly - and over 200 years ago), spoke with the faeries, looked to see if the wild onions are ready (almost), sat on the twin boulders (my late husband John and I had each claimed one) and looked for spring. I wanted to somehow drag the boulders up to the lawn, but realized today that that isn't going to happen. They're each the size of a large lounge chair, and that's the part ABOVE the ground. So we said our good-byes, because they're in the parcel that will be sold. We went through lots of places you can only go in late April and early May, because everything is still flattened down from winter - later on it'll be too scrubby for walking.
Selling 100 or so acres was the only alternative to moving altogether, and it's a great solution for everyone. I get to stay and have some money and a good 60 acres, the lovely Amish family has a place to live and farm and cut wood, and generally God's in His heaven. It makes perfect sense. On paper. In my head.
I guess somebody forgot to inform my heart.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Because I've started working with developmentally disabled folks, I've had to take a couple days' worth of specialized training (we'll talk about that another time) about 50 miles from here. 50 miles x 2 (I'm coming home again every night) x 3 days = more fuel cost than I had handy. Luckily, I had $21 in Canadian dollars from a trip not long ago. Easy one, I thought. I'll just stop at the bank and convert it.
I'm slowly learning that any time I think, "Hey, no sweat!", it's going to turn out to be a real fiasco. This was no exception.
me: "Excuse me, can you exchange some Canadian cash for me?"
teller: "You mean, you have, like, Canadian money?"
teller: "And you want us to, like, change it into American money?"
me: "Yes, please"
teller: "Do you have an account here?"
me: "Yes, yes I do."
teller: "Well, we can't do that. Money from Canada? Huh-uh."
me (wondering why she wanted to know if I had an account there...)
Second bank, same question:
teller: " Sure, we can do that! Do you have an account here?"
me "No, I don't."
teller: "Oh. Well, then we can't do that."
me (wondering if they thought I was laundering currency internationally)
Third bank, same question:
teller "Sure! We can do that!"
me: "Whew! Ii thought I might have to..."
teller:"In increments of $100."
me: "But I only need $20..."
teller:"Nope. Sorry. Only in increments of $100."
me (thinking that *this* would be the place to do international money laundering)
Fourth bank, same question:
teller:"Sure, we can do that!"
me: "Whew! Here's my $21."
teller "Okay, great! Oh, by the way, there's a $15 service fee"
me:" A $15 service fee ...for exchanging $20..."
teller: *giggle* "Yep. Sorry!" *giggle "You know, you can, like, use it on the Thruway! They deal with money all the time!"
me (wondering if I should point out that banks also deal with ... oh, never mind.)
Fifth bank, same question.
teller: "No. No international currency whatsoever. You cannot deposit Canadian currency, nor can we exchange it for you."
me (thinking that first, I'm close enough practically to walk to Canada - it's not as though Canadian currency is all that unusual around here - and second, that it's not like I'm trying to change drachmas to francs.)
Sixth bank, same tired old question:
me: "Look, I don't have an account here, and I know there's probably a service charge, but I have $21 in Canadian currency. Could you, would you PLEASE exchange it for American currency so that I can buy some fuel for the car?"
teller:"I'll have to check with my manager"
me *clutches bridge of nose*
teller, returning with concerned looking manager
me (losing hope rapidly, becoming resigned to walking to Canada...)
teller and manager: "Yes, we can do that. We take bills, loonies and two-nies."
me:"Really? You can do that for me?"
teller and manager:"Sure. Just give us a second here..." *much clicking of computer mouse, consultation with papers...* "Here you are. $18.something cents. The coin and the bills have different exchange rates, and we did have a $2 service fee. And here is your receipt, explaining all that we did."
me: (happy. happy. happy. much thanking and praise, and promising to open an account if they ever have a branch anywhere near me.)
There really is no moral to this story, I'm afraid, other than perhaps some Benjamin Franklin quote about the virtue of perseverance. And keeping the proper currency on hand at all times.
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