Friday, July 29, 2005

End Of Days

I think I have just seen a harbinger of the downfall of civilization.

Maybe I am over reacting, but you be the judge:

The Scene: Yesterday, early afternoon. Lunch over, Sara down for her nap, Colin playing. Peaceful. Our heroine cleaning up the kitchen, contemplating which choice of chocolate to accompany the hit of coffee to be taken before her run. The chocolate and coffee being for purely medicinal purposes, you realize. Never mind that if she didn't indulge in all the chocolate and other questionable foodstuffs, she could be contemplating a nice book-and-couch scenario.

But our heroine is getting off track, yet again.

Ring, ring!

Diana: "Damn phone."

Diana: (answering the phone) "Hello?"

Computerized monotone meant to sound pleasant and warm but failing to sound anything but creepy: "Hello please wait for the next available Scholastic telemarketer."

Diana: (click)

I am trying to decide what bothers me about this most, and I am not talking about the whole interrupt-your-personal-business-even-if-it-is-just-scratching-your-nose annoyance that is the telemarketer call. There are ways around that: The "do not call" list, the screening your calls with the machine approach, the making up of horrible, yet funny things to say back to the poor sap on the other end of the line ("Oh! I am so glad you called, I am just so lonely! Let me TELL you all about it. I haven't talked to anyone in DAYS!"). I personally answer our phone, as we really don't get that many sales calls. Our number is unlisted. If it is a telemarketer, I just hang up after saying a polite "no thank-you".

What bothers me is that a machine has interrupted my day and now is asking me to wait on hold. What bothers me is that this approach obviously works, or it wouldn't be being done. I have gotten these sorts of calls before, from time to time and I assume you have too. After reflexively hanging up, for a brief moment I regretted not holding for the next hapless telemarketer and giving them an ear-full.

Then, of course, I realized that it would really not change anything, possibly even perpetuate it, as it counted as a connection rather than a disconnection in the grand telemarketing computer tally. It certainly would not have been the first time someone told them off and obviously it has not stopped this practice. I also wondered how long I would have been on hold waiting for someone to come on the phone trying to sell me something I assuredly did not want.

Plus, I was on the kitchen phone, the new dinky-ass one that is too small to hold to your ear with your shoulder, not like the old one in the bedroom. The old bedroom phone has a handset that can double as a weapon, should anyone try to break in. Had I been on that phone, I could have pretended to bludgeon the telemarketer repeatedly with the receiver, which would have been good practice, in case I ever had to do it in reality.

Maybe I should just switch the phones around, so I am prepared. Lord knows, there will be a next time.

(PS: Yes, I could have just put it on speaker phone, I realize, but where is the funny in that, I ask you? Plus, I never remember to do that until afterward.)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

An Equal Division of Responsibilities

Two nights ago, poor Charles came to a frightening conclusion: Our lives are in his, and only his, hands.

As you are more than aware, we live in the Midwest, where lovely and sometimes violent thunderstorms roll through. We all know the sound of the tornado siren. We have a place to escape to in case that siren goes off. For some it is a storm cellar, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had. Others have a corner of the basement or under the stairs. We are lucky to have a concrete room, that seems to have been poured as an afterthought to the foundation, but damn safe, stocked with food, water, blankets, some toys, radio and, coincidentally, the wine, as it is also cool and perfect for a wine cellar and pantry. The house may be smashed but the wine and cans of soup will be safe. I did take the precaution of having a cork screw down there. I am nothing if not prepared. We would have to sacrifice something, though, as there are no glasses, only little plastic cups.

Unfortunately, to hear the tornado siren, one must hear the siren. If one is sleeping so soundly that one is not only snoring loudly enough to nearly drown out the storm but also one does not so much as move a toe when the storm crashes all around with barely a pause between flashes of lightning, the wind howling and even Emma looking worried, well, one can not be counted on in a disaster. (We have been blessed with dogs that don't freak at all with storms, just becoming a bit, well, concerned, if things get really bad.)

Charles has just formally decided that, while I am responsible for saving us in case of grave injury or illness, he is the sole bearer of responsibility for making sure we are not crushed in our beds or taken off to see The Wizard.

With age comes responsibility.

Maybe we should next time find a pooch that freaks during storms, thus insuring that both of us can sleep like the dead without ending up dead.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Just Because I have Nothing Else To Write About

Ten Years Ago: I had just moved back from a miserable year and first practice with a large multispecialty group in Bellingham, WA. We went from a close network of friends to essentially no friends (Bellingham was not very warm or welcoming.) The practice was a stress-laden nightmare. 17 docs who all shared weekend call (Each specialty shared weekday call, which wasn't quite so bad, except for the whole horror of "call" in general.) I am sorry, but having a brand-spanking-out-of-residency newly minted internist covering for the pulmonologists, cardiologists, hematology-oncologists, etc, is not a good idea, in my opinion. I would get knots for weeks before my weekends "on" and spend the weekend itself in a blind panic. Yes, I could reach someone if I had to, but I was on the front line of all that. After a year, I hadn't killed anyone but felt it was just a matter of time. So we packed up and headed back to Portland, where I joined a wonderful group of 6 internists who I had known previously, practicing out of the hospital I did my residency at and knew better than my own house. The hospital also had, obviously, house staff (physicians-in-training, aka: interns and residents) who would admit your patients and care for them in the hospital with you as teaching attending (very much fun and very good to not have to go in quite so much at night) and marvelous specialists who I had basically grown up with, having taught me for those years. Plus, back with all our friends.

Five Years Ago: We moved to a small town in Illinois, where Charles had gotten a job in the central office of the school district. I was, once again, stressed out from what turned into a very busy and all-encompassing practice. I would leave at 6am, go to the hospital, dash to the office, see patients, leave the office around 7pm and pray that I didn't have to go back to the hospital afterward. I had stopped sleeping, I missed every one of Colin's milestones, like first word, first steps, etc. Hell, the dog hardly knew me. We pulled into our new town with me in the car, with son and dog, and Charles in the U-Haul van, that held his precious stereo equipment and a few other things. He had been there once, for the interview, I had never seen the place. The real estate agent Charles met on his way out of town that one day found us a rental, which we moved into, sight unseen. The local health network hired me in my dream of a job and all was rosy, at least after the whole unbelievably inept process that was becoming medically licensed in the state of IL was completed.

One Year Ago: We spent our first summer as Wisconsinites, cheese all around. Colin was about to start kindergarten. Sara was mobile and dangerous. Emma was a 6-month-old puppy chewing a child's toy a day.

Yesterday: Charles had his interview and written test as his next step in becoming a dual citizen.

5 Snacks I Enjoy: Chocolate cake with thick fudgy frosting, soft chocolate chip cookies, chocolate candy bars, lemon bars with double the lemon goo, warm berry cobbler with ice cream. And an insulin chaser.

5 Songs I Know The Words To: Well, here are the songs I know that I am most fond of: 32 Flavors (Ani Difranco), The Galaxy Song (Monty Python--probably by Eric Idle), I Don't Want to Live on the Moon (Ernie--probably by Jim Hensen), Gravel (Ani Difranco--just learned this one, finally), Lola (The Kinks). I know lots and lots more, including the alto part for Vivaldi's Gloria.

5 Things I Would Do With $100 Million: Pay off all debts I and my family owe, of course. Turn our outside into an amazing arboretum/garden. Buy every damn book I have ever wanted to read and the shelving to hold them and the building to hold the shelves, in the garden/arboretum. Buy a very gas efficient hybrid car. Set up a kick-ass children's charity, to be thought deeply about later, with the rest of the moolah.

5 Places I Would Escape To: The Greek Isles, Ireland, England, a walking tour through any part of Italy, a walking tour through the Provence region of France.

5 Bad Habits: Not letting poor Charles just do things without comment or looking over his shoulder. Lord, but I am annoying! Trying anything to get out of calling people. Making snide, snarky comments to whoever is sitting next to me in the back of a meeting and paying absolutely no attention to what nonsense the speaker is yammering on about. Reloading the dishwasher every damn time because there really is a right way to load it, people! Wait, I don't think that really is a bad habit. Picking at scabs. Just can't leave them alone.

5 Things I Like Doing: Reading, eating, making anyone laugh, gardening, organizing closets. (I know, weird, huh? You'd never believe it, looking at my house, but that is because the others in the house prefer to turn organization back to chaos and I don't like doing it over and over each week.)

5 Things I'd Never Wear: Short shorts, green with orange, anything midriff baring, stiletto heels, my hair in a tight perm.

5 TV Shows I Like: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape, Angel, While you Were Out, Gilmore Girls.

5 Biggest Joys Of The Moment: Both my kids laughing fit to burst, successful cooking experiments, the masses of produce exploding from the garden, going through the whole existing Harry Potter series from the beginning, curling up with Charles after the kids are asleep. Ahhhhhhh.

5 Favorite Toys: Well, the computer attached to the internet, Charles's home theater system for watching movies, though I'd never admit it to him, my trusty bread machine, the sundial I finally splurged on, the Game Cube for playing multiplayer Mario Party with Colin and Charles and anyone else who wants to be a 4th (come on, Sara, when ever you are ready...)

This is from Linda, who I swear I am not stalking.

Anyone else want to do this one? I'd love to read this from any and all of yous.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Horror and Dismay

I am still reeling.

Two things happened at Sunday dinner tonight, a dinner, I might add that was tasty and left much in the way of leftovers. Good and efficient. We had grilled filet mignon, grilled chicken, fresh baked dill buttermilk bread, watermelon, and sauted garden zucchini with fresh herbs and red pepper. The wine? A nice pinot noir. Red wine makes me hum. Pinot noir makes me sing.

Within 5 minutes, my beloved son dumped catsup all over the lovely meat and my darling mother-in-law put Splenda in her glass of wine.

I wept silently.

Next Sunday, it will be Hamburger Helper and a bottle of cold duck.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Ramblings of Little Interest

I really should go pull weeds. If I let them go for much longer, I will no longer be able to find the produce, which would be sad, as I just found a watermelon the size of a large softball and would hate to lose it. I just can't face it, though. Tomorrow. Tonight, I will chat with you all.

Today, I cleaned much house. Not all of it, as Charles and Colin pitched in, but much of it. Usually I split it up, doing the floors and picking up on Thursdays, maybe even doing some wash or dusting or bathroom scrubbing. What I didn't do Thursday gets mostly done on Friday and the weekend is mostly for other, nicer things. Like going out to breakfast and napping. Yesterday, however, we had an appointment, you see, which threw the whole schedule off. That and the fact that we have an actual social engagement in the form of having nice people over for a barbecue lunch, tomorrow. As those of you with houses that revert to entropy even before you finish the cleaning process know, it is futile to clean too far in advance. Thus the frenzy of today. I also baked cookies, well a few, you know to make sure the batter was good and all for tomorrow. Actually, it wasn't, so tomorrow I will adjust the batter and baking time and all should be good. NEVER leave the cookies to chance.

The dentist appointment (God, she is resorting to blogging about her kid's dentist appointment.) was fine. Turns out Colin inherited not just my stinky feet, ability to produce oodles of ear wax, and snore, but also has his bottom incisors coming in behind his lower baby teeth. (sniff) I am so proud. The dentist was all, "Well, we may need a retainer and will watch him for braces, you never know." I was all thinking, "Yeah, let's just wait and see. I needed neither." She is nice but her style and mine are very different. She is aggressive, I am more of a minimalist. Do what needs to be done but if it won't hurt, let's just give it a bit of time and see. So many things end up taking care of themselves. Sara was horrified by the whole business. She sat on my lap in her patented Marlene Dietrich pose, head turned away from the proceedings, left arm bent and over her eyes. She held the pose for a full 30 minutes, answering every question "no".

Of course, as soon as we were leaving, Colin laden with toothbrush, paste, and different flosses as well as a timer for brushing those full 2 minutes, she pops out of character, hollering, "BYE! SEE-YATER! BYE!"

Earlier that morning, before leaving for the dentist, a storm rolled through. Yes, the sky rapidly blackened, the booms and flashes crashed and the wind blew. It also poured, thank goodness, as it has been dry and if it doesn't rain in a week, I start getting nervous for the water level in the well. Anyway, all was over except for some rain by the time we pulled out of the garage and went our merry way. No big deal. Love the storms. Teri got hit by one around the same time. It was an atmospheric morning for the state of Wisconsin.

Got back home, did the lunch thing, the Sara-down-for-a-nap thing, the caffeine-and-chocolate thing (bribery for a workout), and hit the treadmill, engrossed in the episode of Gilmore Girls I was watching (thanks, Linda). I heard an odd tramping of feet upstairs and soon Charles stuck his head in, looking somewhat sheepish and relieved.

You see, the storm was apparently more than just your typical storm. He had been at work and heard people talking about how the teeny town we live just outside of, had just gotten the royal smack-down from this really nasty storm. Trees down, roofs blown off, toads falling from the sky. He tried to call for hours but couldn't get through. Finally, terribly concerned, he left work early, fully expecting to find mayhem and exposed plumbing. He found not a blade of grass out of line, his family safe and his electronic gear sound, except for the big TV needing the audio reset. The answering machine was out as a small block of outlets in the kitchen got zapped when we briefly lost power and needed the master outlet reset or some such thing. This apparently affected the other phones? I don't really understand, which is not terribly unusual.

Hey, got him home early.

Have to remember that one.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Mr Heat-Miser, I'm Mr Sun...

(So, can you place the song snippet from the title?)

Mid July.
Thermometer: 95 degrees F.
Humidity: mid 90%.
Air conditioning: absent. (cue the tragic organ music)

Poor Charles. He really has a hard time with heat and humidity. Must be that thick Canadian blood. His mother is even more miserable in such conditions. Having the A/C break the night before last did not make him Mr Happy, although he valiantly tried to hide the fact. Thankfully, the heaven-sent A/C fixer guy was able to come out yesterday and partially fix it. Fixed it so cool air flows from the vents, even though the fan must stay on, having jury-rigged something bypassing something else. He promised to return today and finish the fixing. (mutter-something-mutter-circuit board short-mutter-water damage from leak-mutter). Cost? Doesn't matter as we can't live without it any more than we can live without oxygen, In fact, given the choice, I believe Charles would prefer to die cool, de-oxygenated, and gasping for breath than hot, oxygenated, and gasping for breath. He probably has a point.

Yes, I too, found it unpleasant, but heat does not bother me as much. A case in point: In the way-back days, when I was a high-school cross-country runner, I always did best in races involving hills and heat. I felt miserable, just not as miserable as most everyone else. Not sure what that says about me.

Obviously, this makes for some vacation destination disagreements. My idea of nirvana? Sun, sand, warmth, drinks with little umbrellas, arrived at by plane, naturally. I thought Hawaii was marvelous and considered, quite seriously, just not getting back on the plane, the one time we went. OK, some of that may have been because returning involved going back to work as a 2nd year medical resident, but hey, Hawaii has residency programs, yes?

Charles nixed that thought in a heartbeat.

His idea of a perfect vacation? Cool, some clouds would be fine, beer, not a speck of humidity. In short: Ireland or Iceland or maybe Finland? How is Finnish beer? That would factor in. Bavaria would probably work nicely. Or Belgium. To be fair, I too, would love to go to any of these places and hoist a beer, but would also place the Greek Isles high on that list (yes, Portugal, too, dahling). As he seriously would rather walk to his destiny than fly (not exaggerating here, nope), even these trips will be hard. Poor guy.

So there we are. At an impasse. But with central air. So all is well in our world.

Oh, I forgot. I have a correction to make. In the last post, I said Colin had caught a carp when, in fact, it was a catfish. My deepest apologies to the catfish for the slight. It won't happen again. Maybe.

Finally, I really need to keep a camera in the car, as we were forced to stop and honk at one of these blocking the 2 lane county road this morning on the way in to work. I am not shittin' you. She meandered off toward a clump of trees across the road from a secluded drive, where she presumably lives. I had caught a glimpse of her last fall but had convinced myself I hallucinated her. It is fun to prove yourself right to yourself. Charles maintained that he believed me all along. Good man.

Maybe she was looking for the llama.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

I'm Just Wild About Harry...

Well, I was going to compose this smart, thoughtful post full of wit and insight yesterday, all about what is going on in our lives. Alas, Blogger, spiteful imp that he is, decided that I just wasn't worthy to log in to my own blog until this morning. Hell, he didn't feel that I should be able to comment or see the blogs of my friends until late yesterday afternoon. He is like one of those evil step-parents in bad movies who are all sweetness and light when anyone is around and then, the moment you are alone together, takes away all your lovely plans, banishing you to your spartan room, without so much as a computer or phone for contact with your friends and then eats your post, er, Halloween candy.

So, why don't I just pack up and move in with my best-friend's family, with Typepad or somewhere else, where I am wanted and loved and valued and they will make all my favorite food and let me stay out all night if I want to?

Well, that would be because Blogger is free. Typepad would also charge me for the loss of communication and the eating of the chocolate. But, Blogger, if you do habitually mess up worse than the other blog-host sites, consider yourself warned. I will shimmy down the drainpipe and hit the road. May it be on your conscience if I end up dead in a ditch.

Anyway, as the entire Universe knows (or at least all of the Universe that matters), Harry Potter is coming out today, in fact has been out for the last several hours, since midnight. Like anyone with style, grace, wit, and good judgment, I am a fan. As I live quite a ways from a bookstore and can't manage to stay awake past 10 pm, my copy is not in my sweaty little palms but on a UPS truck speeding its way to my very doorstep as I type. Plus, I had a gift certificate, which made it FREE!!! Therefore, I will be basically out of commission until I have read it once, all the way through. I will, of course, then read it again, more slowly, like a cow chewing her cud. (Hi, Johnny, I know you already have your copy in your urban, bookstore strewn, hours earlier time zone and will not read this for a while, if ever, depending on when you come up for air.) Then, I will start all over with the first book and read them all the way through, yet again, so I don't miss any nuance and fill in any microscopic holes. So, if you hear from me very little, I am not in a snit, just enraptured. Marvelous Charles has said he will do much of the child wrassling this weekend. I will try to refrain from bringing it in the car on the drive to work, but I may lose that battle. (Relax, Charles drives. It is just that is the time we have that is purely our own.)

So there. What else.

-Charles and Colin have taken to going fishing of a Friday morning. Yesterday, Colin caught 6 fish (they release them as we just don't trust the water around here, isn't it sad?), including a large bass and a carp and a bluegill. I have no idea, either. I went fishing with my dad, too, and only caught a fish once. One fish. That trout got fried up and eaten, though. They are having oodles of fun and he is learning valuable tools, like how to string wriggly grubs onto hooks so they shimmy appealingly but don't fall off. Ew.

-I made a tasty, garlicy saute of eggplant, green beans, and, of course, zucchini for dinner, all out of our own produce. (Hush, Jamie, I know you are in your 4th harvest, but remember what it is like growing things here.) We have also harvested two (2) cherry tomatoes. In a week or 3, we should have the big ones coming on with a vengeance, though. The raspberries are popping along and the cucumbers are, well, prolific this week. Sara eats 3 as an after breakfast snack. I have made the first of many batches of zucchini bread with the first of many zucchini that have/will escape(d) my watchful harvesting and turned into a baseball bat. (sniff) They grow up so fast.

-The various squash plants are getting restless and have fled the confines of the 2+1/2 foot walls of the garden and are heading off to battle the thistles. Go squash! The cantaloupe and watermelon are just vines and flowers (just what I needed, more vines) and I think will not beat the frost. Live and learn.

So that, is basically, that.

Miss you already.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Thug Deer and a Mug Shot

Every neighborhood has its hooligans. Ours have antlers.

Last year, our first in Wisconsin, was the initial encounter. There were two adolescent bucks by the stable that now houses the gas cans for the mower, a bunch of concrete blocks, an old ratty table inexplicably left behind in the basement by the previous owners, and the barn swallows. The pair seemed to be up to no good as they swung their small nubs of antlers, huffing and stamping at Charles, who was standing on the deck some 50' away. They packed up their cans of spray paint and slowly sauntered off into the woods, making rude gestures as they went.

Since then, we saw the two of them sporadically, but this last week they have obviously become bored with terrorizing the other smaller woodland creatures. First, they trotted all around our yard in the middle of the day, getting right up to the house, drinking from the rain puddles and eying the garden. After a while, they left, for some reason scuttling under the fence (a 18" high opening) rather than leaping it (a 4' height). There is no barbed wire. Clearly, they are into limbo dancing at their raucous and degenerate parties. Equally clearly, it was meant as some sort of taunt.

This morning (5:58 am, if you must know) they were standing in the middle of the road, blocking our egress (the road is about 10' wide), and NOT about to back down, even when we pulled up to within a few feet of them. After a while, as we bravely sat in the minivan with the windows rolled up, quietly yelling and waving our arms, they figured that we were not going to give them the sport they wanted and leaped off the road, heading for our yard. I didn't quite catch the remark they made about our mothers. I fear for our tomatoes.

I think they are casing the place with a plan to break in and steal DVDs and electronic gear. They will also likely steal the beer from the fridge and call 900 numbers.

In other breaking news, of interest probably only to Teri, I have figured out what the Evil Bastard Aster Destroying Insect Invaders are! I found it in my new favorite gardening book, something I should have bought years ago. They are Chrysanthemum lace bugs. (Here is a picture of a sycamore lace bug, which is not as dark a gray, but otherwise looks the same. I couldn't find a picture of the real thing.) I find it funny and fitting that the natural pesticide treatment, neem oil soap, is made from pyrethrins, derived from... chrysanthemums! (Asters and chrysanthemums are in the same family). I also found that these particular lace bugs like to suck the life blood out of my beloved pincushion flowers. Death to lace bugs!

So, there you have it. Yet another installment in the chronicles of our gripping life in the bucolic country. Thugs, assassins, chemical warfare.

Pass the neem sprayer. Maybe it works on deer.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Cliff Was High


17 years ago today, I was dressed in white meringue and stunned.

It seems to be the pattern in my life that during the REALLY BIG moments, I just stand outside myself with my mouth agape in wonderment that what is occurring really is occurring. It has happened at all my graduations, at the birth of BOTH children, and at my wedding. Sort of a David Byrne in the headlights "Well, how did I get here?"

It is not that I was so shocked to be getting married. I mean, we had been together for most of 5 years, engaged for a year. (Actually, marriage was not really in my plans until I met Charles. I just really didn't think I would find someone that 1) I thought I'd happily spend my entire life with and 2) would put up with all my oddities and irritating habits and want to spend his entire life with me.) I was shocked that the world had turned, time had passed, and here I was, actually getting married. I really can't explain it. It was as though I had planned it but really didn't think it would ever arrive.

Imagine my shock, standing there, before the doors of the chapel of Lewis and Clark College, shaking, ready to march down the aisle. Thank God for the champagne my bridesmaids and I imbibed, otherwise I'd have passed out on the spot.


8/3/1987: I have recently graduated from good ole Lewis and Clark College and am spending the summer before launching into med school as a research assistant in the biochem lab, studying something or other on neutrophils and Legionella pneumophilla, the bug that causes Legionnaire's disease, but really, just enjoying the heck out of life, I mean, summer and done with college and all. Charles and I had dated for most of college, broken up in a horrible mutual spasm of idiocy and depression and What the Hell Am I Looking For in Life? and gotten back together 2 months ago. All was smiles and roses and living in a rent-free dorm room with my dear friend, Katrina, as part of the research stipend (that and getting paid something like $1500, which had to cover everything but the roof over our heads and THANK GOD for the infusion of grad school loans in the fall and the crappy job at the movie theater.)

Charles: "I have tickets for the musical, Cats, and I thought we'd go out to brunch before hand."

Diana: "Great! Food! Theater! Beats Kraft mac and cheese, again, or Top Ramen."

So, we go to a lovely brunch buffet, where I stuff myself shamelessly. (Hell, if I cram in enough food, I may be able to get away with not eating until evening, at least.) We go to see Cats, which, at the age of 22, I loved. I don't know about now, I am not 22 and I really don't remember much about it, except for fur-encrusted actors scuttling about on a stage set as a junkyard, singing.

Then we went for a drive to the Columbia River Gorge and up to the Vista House at Crown Point. Having lived within easy driving distance for oh-so-many years, I, of course, had never been to it.

We sat on the grass at the top of the cliff, overlooking the large river way, way, way down there. He produces a bottle of champagne. He is driving, so pours much of it into me. Good thing my stomach was full or I'd be completely amnestic. At the point everything is going "wah-wah-wah-wah" from the champagne, lovely Charles leans in and flourishes one of those little ring boxes in my face. I swear all I can see is strange sparkly light and his face weaving back and forth 2" from my nose muttering, "willyoumarryme?"

Too much for my poor brain to focus on.

As I recall, my reply was stunned squinty-eyed silence followed by, "...Wha?..." Spittle and drool were likely present. As it was a hot August afternoon, it is a given that the sweat is pooling and pouring. So glamorous.

What seemed like hours later, poor adorable Charles finally managed to get what he was asking through my muddled brain.

Of course, I said, "Yes!"

As we chuckled over on the drive home, what else was I going to say? I mean, I was drunk, at the top of a cliff, and 30 miles from town, in heels. And he had the car keys.

Best decision of my life, in every way.

I love you so very much, sweetie. Here's to us in every way.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

War On Two Fronts

OK. We discussed the thistles. A lot.

Progress is actually being made on that front. A few have flowered, but only 1-2 have started to go to seed before I have gotten to them and I have pretty much eradicated the ones in the close-in back (between the house and the swing set) and eastern side of the house to just past the liquid propane tank. (I TOLD you we were rural.) I have started on the front yard and am having slow success.

Little did I know that I was to be hit in my soft underbelly by an unknown assassin. Do the insect pests not know that if they just leave me alone, I will let them live? Guess not. Guess that's why the "pest" moniker.

So, here I am, peacefully deadheading the front garden, (which has been a bit neglected in favor of the vegetable garden) waiting for Sara to wake up, when I notice that the large clump of asters by the front door are, well, turning black and dying. Actually only 1/2 of the clump is noticeably afflicted.

As I have been doing the gardening thing for more than a season, I do what is second nature and stick my rather prominent nose into things.

Well. I see.

There are enormous numbers of bugs on the dead plant leaves and lesser numbers on the not-yet-brown-and-curled 1/2 of the plant. I think I have found the culprit. The problem is that I have no fucking idea what the scurge is.

OK, time for Dr Google, PhD in botany. An hour later, with plant books strewn about the terminal, I still have no idea what this creature is.

So, submit a picture, asshole.

Well, I would, if I had taken one before seeing red and decapitating the whole damn plant, in a probably vain attempt to save both it and its sisters, the other 2 enormous clumps of asters a few feet away, that line parts of the front walk and provide much of the fall flowers of my front bed. You see, I first hacked them off at the toenails, knowing that asters are hardy things and often spring back from the soles, if necessary. As they bloom in the late summer/early fall, "Who knows?" says the eternal hope in the core of my dark and pessimistic soul. Then I succumbed to the Dark Side and sprayed toxic poisons all the hell over the stubble. THREE TIMES. (Yes, yes, well water. Drinking this crap. God knows what will happen to us as a result. Here's hoping we mutate in favor of perpetual expression of wavy blond hair and flawless, easily tanned skin.)

I have no idea if the foaming wasp spray I coated the scene with will cripple, kill, or merely mutate the bastard invaders into some angry and vengeful 40 foot human eating army. Once again, If you don't hear from me in a week, I would hole up, hoard food stuffs and bottled water and cover your windows with plastic wrap and duct tape. Or is that what you're supposed to do if Saddam launches his chemical weapons? No, wait, there were no chemical weapons. (Wait, did she just make a political comment? She who is more politically timid that the wee mousies? The one who just wants to be liked? Yeah, bite me. I have found a worse enemy. Plus, you knew I was a libbie if you read the sidebar.)

So, what the hell are these things? They are about 2 mm (1/10 inch) long, move faster than scales, don't look like any aphids I could find, mottled greys, something wingish? protruding from the mid-bodies that didn't seem to afford them any advantage in escape (eg: no flying away, but much scuttling), THOUSANDS of them, as opposed to, say cabbage caterpillars, which I have been smooshing with gusto. They actually look like a cross between an aphid and a scale. With a shark-like dorsal fin.

We trek to Madison in 2 days. I put the bookstore on the itinerary. If Borders can't help me, I will have to bite the bullet and, well, think of something else. Maybe our local gardening extension, which there must be.

Any thoughts?

I am now afraid to step out the front door. No matter what I find, it can't be good, unless it's a 40 foot crater and a dumptruck full of irradiated top soil pulling into the drive.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Difference Of Opinion

Scene: In el Minivan, leaving the driveway, heading in to work this morning, 5:55 AM. Lattes at the ready.

Diana: (sigh)

Charles: "What was that for?"

Diana: "Just a sigh, not a bad one. Just one because I have not had to get up at 5AM for the last week and a half."

Charles: "And you call yourself a morning person. You may want to re-think that."

Diana: (taking umbrage) "Excuse me?" (both eyebrows shooting up, turning 90 degrees in the passenger seat to face the chipper Canadian) "I am very much a Morning Person. I am happily up at 6:30 AM, except for one morning a week when I like to sleep in until 7:00."

Charles: "But a TRUE morning person is up at least by 6AM, every day of the week."

Diana: "What? I so must ask the internet. Will you abide by their judgment as to whether I am a Morning Person or not?"

Charles: "No. Because they are a bunch of heathens*. I admit that I am somewhat extreme in my definition of A Morning Person, though."

Diana: "Humph. I am still asking. I know I am right. I AM a Morning Person."

* Yes, he is being sarcastic as to the "heathen" comment. How else would he live with me? His only other option would be to become deaf and he loves his surround sound too much for that. He is not being sarcastic when he feels that I am not a Morning Person, however.

So, there you have it. I will abide by your decision as to whether I am a MP or not.

Because I am sure you will agree with me.

Not the deranged and arbitrary Canadian.

Even though he does make a damn fine latte.

His saving grace.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

I Am A Sheep

Sunday, July 03, 2005


After this morning, I am beginning to think that maybe it IS personal:

Charles comes in reeking of DEET, dressed in a LONG SLEEVED T-shirt, from his morning run on the local trail.

Charles: "I just don't get it. I was running along, when I passed 2 women running the other way. They were in shorts and jog bras. They obviously were not covered in DEET. Nothing but exposed skin, galore. That huge cloud of black flies that were chasing me not only didn't veer off and swarm all over them, they didn't even consider it."

And there you have it, proof positive. Everything loves a Canadian.

Either that or he is some sort of Messiah for the blood sucking insects of the world and they just need to be near him, to adore him and taste of his goodness. Sort of a kink in the sub plot of a Douglas Adams classic. Or, just maybe, they were trying to hitch a ride with him to get back to me! That's it! Me, me, me.

So I will leave you with the following bastardization of a horrible Sonny and Cher song that has haunted me for the last hour, just to share the pain, because I, too, am like the stinging gnat:

And the DEET goes on,
And the DEET goes on.
La de da de de, (la de da de de).
La de da de da, (la de da de da).

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Friday, July 01, 2005

I Wish My Skin Was Literally Thicker

I look like I have the pox from the legs down.

It does not help, of course, that I can not seem to stop scratching with such a ferocity that I am starting to resemble a dog infested with fleas.

It used to be that my only concern was avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes. Usually not a problem if you avoid the dusk and dawn times of the day. Well, there was that one horrid summer in Freeport when the mosquitoes were so bad that they literally swarmed you as soon as you went outside, even at high noon. Made tending to the garden a bit of a challenge, but if you covered up, head-to-nails, you usually escaped with only a few bites.

Last year, our first in Wisconsin, I really don't remember having much of a problem with bites. A few skeeters, a few biting flies. We have no livestock and no standing water within a mile of our place, so not much inducement. The deer stay mostly in the trees, and keep their flies with them. Poor Charles likes to run a wooded trail on the weekends, and gets chased (and occasionally caught) by swarms of biting flies, but as long as he dunks himself in a vat of super-concentrated-lumberjack-strength DEET, he has so far managed to return home with all limbs attached, although a bit anemic. Feed him a steak, and he bounces back. It's the Canadian blood. They're used to such things in Ontario.

This year, I have managed to identify 4 carniverous, hunting insects that track me down. This does not count all the myriad of bugs that will bite or sting if provoked. Those have no reason to hurt me, I stay the hell clear of wasps, spiders, and such. Yes, it seems that I am the favored prey, judging by the number of red welts on my person, compared to the relative paucity on my loved ones. Or maybe it is because I am the one in shorts, sandals, and tank top in the garden, weeding and hunting under large leaves for the fruits of my labor. I never claimed to be very bright.

Anyway, we have your basic mosquitos, not a big problem, so far. Also, large flies with glowing red eyes (yes, they really do glow red, come by and see), smaller flies with yellow on their heads, and, my personal current favorite, what look like tiny bees, about a 1/4 inch long, that love to sting, especially behind the knee. These also seem to bite, if the feeling of something taking a good sized chomp out of your flesh is to be trusted.

Yeah, yeah, such a wimp.

But you see, I am bred in the pasty Northwest. We just do not have to contend with such beings. Plus, with the lack of all that sun while growing up and through my mid-thirties, I don't have the coat of armor that extensive sun damage creates.

I am just a delicate flower. A flower with the pox.