Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Fond Farewell

I did it. This morning. I made the grown-up call. Poor Audrey had been waking up every morning on a dog bed soaked with urine, and sometimes worse. Her back legs had completely given out; in the few moments she was awake I would help her get around by holding up her back end so her front paws could wheelbarrow ahead. She was barely eating, she wasn't happy, and there wasn't anything we could do to make her better. So, I did it. I made the call.

My awesome brother came over afterward and helped me bury the last bit of my twenties. Audrey came to me the year after I graduated from college, 1994. I was at a pet store picking up food for my puppy (Peak, who passed away three years ago this month), and there was a sign on the cage of this weird little leggy puppy: "Free with any 20 pound bag of puppy food". Well, I mean, really. Could you have walked away from such a thing? Of course not!

She was skinny, and long-legged for her size, and her tail was a whipcord with a fraying end that slowly unravelled as she grew until it was a glorious waving plume. Her paws looked like fluffy bedroom slippers and she ran on them in a dead sprint whenever she slipped the leash, not stopping until she'd treed something or (once, horribly) was hit by a truck. Whenever I came home, she'd greet me at the door, head down, doing a full body wag, with whatever scrap of tissue she could find poking out of her mouth in a papery offering.

She and Peak travelled with me from Ohio to Boston to Vermont. And now she's under the lilac in the backyard.

This afternoon I was feeling all apprehensive about Sarah coming home from school and finding Audrey not there, and I'm trying to anticipate her questions and SHE DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE THE DOG WAS GONE. She ran into the house, goes straight to the couch in the living room where Audrey's dog bed is not for the first time since we've been in this house and... nothing. Thank god for the self-centeredness of a four year old.

I'm missing my silly mutt. And all I've got to console me is this:

Good grief.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Importantly

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

Wait -- Summertime? What?

Hey, remember that little hoop thingy? I finished it!

I'm pretty happy with most of it, but the stems aren't quite what I hoped. That wonky middle one in particular is pretty lame -- and it's the third one I did. I have no excuse. Also, the colors are still off in the photo (I tried to get a more accurate shot, I swear). The thing the hoop is resting on is white, not peachy pink, so just imagine it all a shade paler on the paint swatch. But still, cute.

In the meantime, out in the world summer unexpectedly descended on us today. Here's what Sarah and I did with our day:

First order of business: obtain and set up sprinkler.

Mid-afternoon creemee and popsicle break (for you flatlanders out there, creemees are the frozen confection known as "soft serve" in points south):

And for the grand pre-dinner finale:

Slip 'n' slide! Woo hoo!

Tomorrow's supposed to see temps in the 90s -- obviously the perfect time for me FINALLY to dig the vegetable beds. At least now I have a sprinkler I can turn on when the heatstroke hits.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unintentional Activity

So, I sort of went and walked 5.2 miles today, 2.6 of it while pushing a 37 pound kid. See, I kind of promised Sarah that the next time it was nice out I'd take her in the stroller to school. Which is a 1.3 mile trip each way. And it was beautiful in the morning with a chance of rain in the afternoon, but then the afternoon was gorgeous, too, and suddenly the day ended with my having walked twice as far as I've managed since... hmm... the '90s? And I'm feeling oddly okay. Which means there will be hell to pay tomorrow, I assume.

Also, I did this a couple days ago:

There are plants in them thar beds! Not much to look at now, but trust me, in three years? Lush perennial fabulousity.

But I'm a gardening lightweight compared to my kid brother. Want to see what he's working on? 

That's all going to be vegetables. There are additional smaller beds that you can't see in this photo, plus an enormous pumpkin/gourd patch a few yards off. I helped do some seed sowing. I better get a jar of dilly beans or cornichons out of it at pickling time.

Mom, you're welcome.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunny Day

Sweeping the clouds away.

This would be the sole cloud drifting slowly across the southern sky this afternoon. The sky really was that blue. I took advantage of the unreasonably beautiful day and Tom's willingness to entertain Sarah at the playground and the crepes place (where she discovered Nutella and banana filled crepes, god help me) to knock out the twin of the front path bed. My back is not pleased with my efforts, but the rest of me is feeling pretty chuffed.

All is not delightful here, though. Have you met Audrey yet?

She turns sixteen this summer. She's been with me since the autumn of 1994. Poor kid, having to wear the cone of shame. It's been on for a week, thanks to a really impressive hotspot she would not leave alone. So... her back legs are giving out. She's on steroids and antibiotics for her grody leg, and they're helping the wound but nothing else. I don't know if she's going to make it to her birthday (August the aribitrarieth). How long do you let an animal drag herself through her days? She can't fully lift her back paws most of the time, and it's even odds as to whether she makes it to the door before her bladder gives way.

I've had dogs die at home of old age, pets that had to be put down because of disease, and cats that just never came home, but I've never had to take an animal to the vet just because she's gotten old. I come downstairs each morning, wondering what I'm going to find, hoping that I won't have to make the call that seems increasingly inevitable.

Being a grown-up sucks.

Friday, May 14, 2010


So I was waiting for my awesome friend Allison to call so I could avoid the gardening at my house by doing some gardening at her house, and the wait got a little long and somehow found myself starting one of the beds I've been meaning to make for, oh, a month. Two hours later I found I had managed this:

Huh. So... by waiting to procrastinate I got done a thing that I was procrastinating doing. It's like self-inflicted reverse psychology. Or something. 

Surely there's an easier way.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Busy Hands

I have discovered the key to happiness! Or at the very least, the key to maintaining my sanity and the semblance of a reasonably good mood: busy work. No, no, I haven't been doing useless math workbook pages to while away my hours, but I have been finding stuff that needs to be done, and making up other stuff to do to avoid the stuff that needs to be done. Because procrastination never gets old.

So, topping the Needs Doing list is the garden. I'm having to start from scratch in the front and back yards, so of COURSE I haven't done anything with either, but it's still over two weeks from our last frost date, so I'm not sweating that part. Yet. The house came with three large planters built into the significantly sloping deck, and I've gotten a little work done there. Behold!

Peas in the back half (with my very own string trellis-y set up, thankyouverymuch) and lettuce mix in the front -- which we may be able to start picking at in just a couple of weeks!

One of the two herb planters. So far, this one only has pansies, rosemary and lemon thyme (one of my absolute favorite plants in the world: low maintenance, edible, perennial and pretty. And it has the best scent EVER -- I pick off stragglers and rub them between my hands to release the oils; it's transporting, I tell you). I'm also going to put in some common thyme and probably nasturtiums, maybe lemon balm. I love how the yellows look so sunshiny together. The other planter just has chives and last year's straggly sage and some johnny-jump-ups. I started parsley and cilantro from seed for this first time, intending to put them in there, but they're so leggy and spidery-looking I don't see how they'll possibly be strong enough to grow outdoors. Eh. It was a $2 experiment. No big.

My lovely assistant.

And here are a couple things on my Why Are You Doing This? list:

A future bathmat. I figure I'm about one-fifth to one-quarter the way done. I'm no crocheter, and the incredibly simple pattern took me FOUR TRIES to get right because I sort of forgot to read the last line of the directions. Oops.

And a cute little nothing. The colors came out weird here; in reality, the flowers are a softer pink and the grassy bit on the bottom is more lime-y and less baby poop-y. I need to find a less bright green for the stems and leaves. The hoop is only about 4" in diameter, so this really is just a silly little thing. Fun to do, though, and good practice for the quilting I FULLY INTEND TO ATTEMPT THIS YEAR BY GOD.

Busy hands, peeps. They are my friends.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Number of the Day

is 100. Look to the right!

Hello, friend 100! (And hello, friends 1 through 99!) Welcome!

It's so weird and cool that anyone not related to me is interested in this meandering, messy story. Thanks for reading along, everyone. I'm perfectly okay with yelling into the void, but it's awfully reassuring to know that someone is listening.

Holy cow. I'm praying to the internets.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day, In Five Easy Steps

1) Lazing in bed while the rest of the house starts the day.

2) Eggs Benedict. Homemade (by Sarah!). Still in bed.

3) A vase of pale roses.

4) Chocolate-covered salted caramels.

5) Curling up on the couch with Sarah, watching Horton Hears a Who, while the snowflakes quietly dance on the breeze.

Happy Mother's Day, my friends.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where's Emily Post When You Need Her?

Hello, friends. It's been a while, and I apologize. I went on a painting spree in the house, redoing two bedrooms (one to go), which kept me busy for a while, but for the last week I've done very little. With anything. I'm just undermotivated in the extreme. However! It has gotten bizarrely warm in these parts (hello global warming! welcome to Vermont!) and I just started to get some outdoor gardening done today. Nothing beats dirt under the nails to keep me (wait for it) grounded. ba-dump ching!

So, in the last three days I've had to confront variations on the same question three times -- twice today alone, which frankly about kicked my ass. The question? "How many kids do you have?" Now, the answer is obvious -- even I can count to one -- but when it's couched in a "Hey! Haven't seen you in ages! Whatcha been up to?" kind of conversation... well.

I've been trying to teach Sarah that Jane will always be a part of our family; she's not with us anymore, but that doesn't mean she isn't her sister any more, or my daughter, or a cousin or granddaughter or niece. But when a stranger or friendly acquaintance making small talk asks about my family, it doesn't feel appropriate to bring her up. Which doesn't entirely sit well with me, but I'm not about to volunteer the whole "Well, I had two daughters but one died" thing in a casual conversation.

I don't know. I mean, obviously, I say that I have one kid, that Sarah's an only child, but it's not quite accurate, is it? Maybe I'm still too close to it to have a grasp on the social niceties. Or maybe we've gotten so far away as a society from being comfortable with talking about death that I have no vocabulary for discussing it. I'm stuck.

So, this is one of the crappier days, in a somewhat crappy week. Oh, and we got an invite from the Boston hospital to attend their annual memorial service. Um, no thank you?

Okay, so can those of you with mad etiquette skillz just give me a holler and tell me how to handle this stuff? I'm tapped.