Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yard to do list.

Spring is here. Finally. I think. I hope. I honestly would not be surprised if it starts snowing at any moment, just because this year's winter has been a MAJOR asshole and that's just the kind of thing he would do to stick it to us one last time.

But tentatively it's here. And with it comes the start of my first ever real adult gardening season. I have never had a yard. I have lived in apartments or the top floors of houses my whole adult life (not counting my parents house, but my mom is the garden boss there). And even if those places had yards, they would be rentals. And it's fine to fix up a rental yard, but at a certain point you wonder how much it's worth putting a ton of time and effort and money to fix up property that doesn't technically belong to you. This year I have a real, adult, QUARTER OF AN ACRE (shut up country people, for a city girl like me, that's a vast wilderness), yard that we own and can do whatever we darn well please with (except for you know, build a huge meth lab, or keep zebras in, or start a tiki bar, okay so fine there's a lot we can't do with it, but we can do whatever we darn well please that's within legal and city code boundaries).

And I have so many ideas you guys. It's like this inner gardener has just burst forth at the first chance to put my hands in dirt. I spend most of my time these days on GARDENING BLOGS (I'm pretty sure that puts me at least mentally into my 30s if I'm not linearly speaking there yet). I flew to Vegas last week (more on that later) and bought GARDENING MAGAZINES for the flight. I'm putting these things in all caps, because it is still shocking to me just how much of an old fart I've turned into seemingly overnight, and how much I EMBRACE it. See, cannot stop with the all caps. This is a momentous life change.

So our yard. I get the feeling that a dedicated gardener lived there at some point in the home's recent past. But possibly not for the last decade or so. Things have gone...awry. There are random attempts at the gardening arts, but mostly, it looks like the last owner's just looked at the size of the yard and its vast potential, shrugged, and said "eh, not for us." But there is so much potential. I look at it and envision an oasis, an eden, or at the very least a yard that doesn't look like the people who live there use it exclusively as the world's largest dog toilet.

It is going to take a lot of work, a lot of long sweaty, muddy days in the sun, a lot of time and research and money, but I am ready. I feel pumped to find my inner horticulturist. I think our yard can become a gorgeous feature of the home, and honestly we will probably be here to enjoy it for 2-3 years tops (have I mentioned our house is a little teeny?). But it's my personal philosophy that every owner of a house should leave it better than they got it. They should add to it, not detract from it, particularly in a 1920s house that in my mind deserves some respect in her twilight years. And I would love my contribution to be a functional, beautiful garden. I may fail spectacularly. In fact I know I will encounter failures, because gardening is dealing with living things that are unpredictable and finnicky. It's not like decorating a room. A couch won't wither and die on you or grow wild and take over the ottoman. Gardening, I suspect, will be a slow process full of setbacks. But I believe at the end of the tunnel it will be worth it. Or I will just be a dirt covered lady yelling at my tomato plants to behave themselves. Time will tell.

As far as this summer's to do list, here it is. I will update along the way.

1. Plant vegetables in the two lovely raised beds behind the shed (done and done-also it took some backbreaking work to pull out a tangle of vines and shrubs and weeds that were all over those beds-I don't think a vegetable has been planted in one for some time).

2. Tear up the old slate stepping stones (they have huge cracks between them that are full of mud) and lay a gravel path that wraps around the shed. (this is my top priority, I think it will make a massive difference in the overall look of the yard and make it seem much tidier and less accidental, and it will help with the mud, I constantly am fighting the yard's endless supply of dog covering mud)

3. Dig up the "butterfly garden" on the left side of the yard that's enclosed by metal fencing. Replace the wild tangle of weeds in there with two dwarf fruit trees (yes, yes I know we will never enjoy the fruit from these trees unless we live here more than 3 years, but I see it as a gift to future owners). I also want to plant some evergreens, and some pretty perennials like lavender)

4. Grow Morning Glory and Moon Flowers along the fence nearest the patio. I adore both of these flowers and my mother assures me they are not hard to grow along a fence.

5. Put in two flower beds along the side and back fence. Plant a tree in each (one that withstands a lot of moisture, still researching that) along with some nice evergreen shrubs (thinking boxwoods) and some other perennials.

6. Convince my handy fiance to build me a wooden planter for the patio (he's already mostly agreed) to fill with herbs. I love the thought of hanging out on the patio and being surrounded by the scent of fresh herbs (does anything smell instantly more like summer than fresh basil?).

7. Add some other patio decor (planters, cute hanging lights)

8. Hire an electrician to put in a spotlight to illuminate the patio that can be operated by an indoor switch (right now we have no lighting outside except for some poorly functioning motion sensors).

9. Buy a patio seating set (we are probably going to do this one within the next week or so-we've decided on a Martha Stewart set from Home Depot, because it's more affordable than most new patio furniture, is a really nice wicker, and well it's Martha after all)

10. Plants lots and lots of grass seed so we can possibly have a yard instead of a mudpit one day.

Whew, writing it all down like that makes it seem like, a lot. But I am confident we can pull it off. Or at least try. And fail at some of it I'm sure. But at the very least I'm confident that the yard at the end of this summer will be improved from the yard at the start of spring.

Unless a sinkhole eats it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Five things.

So I realize my first couple of posts back have been a little heavy, so I thought I would move forward with some happier things. Five happy things in my life right now to be exact.

1. This weather.

It has been a long winter, a long, long winter. Here in Richmond it's gotten to the single digits, on several occasions. This may be normal for Canadians, but this is not normal in Virginia. One morning I literally could not get my driver side door to shut and latch, because it was FROZEN solid. Same goes for trying to open my iced over windows on another morning. I don't know how many more times my car can freeze in one winter before it just cracks right down the middle. I normally don't mind winter. I love warm coats and wool scarves and cozy fireplace nights. But I am done with this particular winter, ready to kick it to the curb. Which is why the last two days have been so lovely. I have tried to be outside as much as possible, soaking in the sun. Now that I am a co-parent to a dog, one of my favorite warm day activities is exploring my new neighborhood with my dog on 4 or sometimes even 5 mile walks. I've lived in Richmond my whole life and thought I knew most of its nooks and crannies, but until you live in a neighborhood you don't really and truly know its detail and texture. I am discovering so many hidden streets nearby, and some of the most massive houses I have ever seen in this city.

2. Spin class. More specifically Tidal Wheel spin studio. I tried it out for an article I wrote for Richmond.com, Unique RVA Gym Alternatives, and as soon as I finished the first class I turned to my fiance, Rob, and said parts of that were harder than running a marathon. I may have been post-workout delirious, and that may have been somewhat of an exaggeration, but it is by far the most intense total body cardio workout I have ever experienced. Your heart rate goes up, way way up, and stays there the entire class. I always leave drenched in sweat. There is always a moment during every class where I think, I can't do this anymore, but the best part about spin class is that you are literally clipped into your bike. They make it very difficult to make a graceful exit if you want to quit. Tidal Wheel's studio is right down the street from my house so I can walk there, and it's become something I do 2-3 times a week. I always thought spin class was just biking really, really fast, but there's so much more to it than that. You do push-ups, use weights, and do all manner of crazy moves, all in a dark room with loud music and instructors so cheerful and motivating that they must down 10 shots of espresso before a class. I have zero coordination so it's a challenge for me to simultaneously pedal my feet and do other things, but that's part of the reason it's such an intense workout. I recommend it to anyone as long as you have no heart condition. Please do not do Tidal Wheel if you have a heart condition. As an RN I can safely say your heart would probably explode.

3. My local haunts. I moved out of the Fan last fall and the thing I was most sad about leaving behind was the Fan's awesome (and walkable) restaurant scene. Luckily I moved into a neighborhood with, while not quite as large, an equally delicious and convenient group of restaurants. In no particular order, my favorites are The Continental, Cafe Caturra, Super Stars, Palani Drive, Boyer's Ice Cream, Blue Goat, The Grill, and Sweet Frog. Do you see why I've had a hard time cooking frequently? As a city girl since I was in middle school, when I'm trying to think of a restaurant, I mostly focus on those in walking distance. I can never get over people who want to drive to a restaurant less than a mile away. Unless it's freezing or raining, why not make a meal even more pleasant with a little pre and post walking. I have far too many yummy options within a stone's throw of my house. And I didn't even mention the chains at Willow Lawn or the beyond incredible markets like Yellow Umbrella and Libbie Market. Clearly now you can see why I've really gotten into spin class. I need to burn those 500-600 calories in order to not gain 100 pounds living here. 

4. Being an RN.

Confession, whenever I have to fill out a form that asks for profession or someone asks me, I get a little thrill of excitement to say I'm a Registered Nurse. Not a nursing student, not a new grad nurse who has yet to take my boards, but a 100% official, listed in the Board of Nursing records, licensed, honest to God, fully privileged RN. I've never been licensed in anything. My previous English degree basically gave me the authority to be a pretentious know it all whenever the topic of good literature came up. And that was it. But this degree has turned me into a nurse. And I am so proud of that. I have mentioned that my job is hard, sometimes I think one of the hardest jobs in the world (obviously some other professions make my profession look like a walk in the park, such as being a deployed solider or an  astronaut who has to go outside a space shuttle to fix things). But I love it. I really do. I love being a nurse. I go to work every day knowing that what I do is important. And I leave every single day, even on the worst days, knowing I did at least one thing that helped someone. That's pretty flipping great.

5. Sherlock. I know I am late on this bandwagon. A lot late. But I'm almost completely caught up, and it's just great TV. A little silly and willing to wink at itself, but also quick and inventive, and full of Britishisms, and who doesn't love a 90 minute episode chock full of Britishisms. Also Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman may be my favorite TV crime solving pair since Scully and Mulder. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

So this was a week.

See what I did there? I promised to blog more frequently and then I went MIA again immediately. In my defense, fairly soon after my last blog it felt like the bottom fell out from under my feet. Not to get too much into the details, but my grandmother passed away, only two months after my grandfather. The fact that I no longer have grandparents in San Antonio is something I'm not sure how to begin to process. I know losing grandparents is part of life. I know at 28 I was lucky to still have three at the beginning of this year. But I did not expect to quite suddenly lose two of these people, who have been solidly a part of my life's foundation, since its beginning.

So I'm dealing and coping, and of course in the midst of this I get my second round of stomach virus this year.

And in the midst of all this I still have RN orientation on my unit, which I absolutely love, but which is almost always a little bit heavy and sometimes shattering.

And so I'm coping. I look forward to this week ending. It was a royally crappy week.

But life goes on. I look forward, to so many things, to warmer weather, to a brief trip to Vegas later this month with the fiance (SO NEEDED RIGHT NOW), to silly things like food truck food courts and new restaurants and spin classes, and to more major things like a certain September wedding.

Life goes on. If my work has taught me anything it's perspective. In fact it has rammed perspective down my throat, again and again. I have perspective coming out of my ears.

So I get it. I get what is a tragedy and what is part of life's natural course. But still, I miss my grandparents.

Still, it goes. I look forward. I'm still here. And I will be back more frequently, with less heavy topics I promise. I need a little silliness and triviality to focus on for a while.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hello again.

Hello there.

It's been a while.

As in since last August kind of a while. As in I dropped off the face of the Earth, went on a little journey around the universe, had several life changing events occur, and now have found my way back, back to this little blog I had so carefully tended for the better part of my 20s.

It was never my intention to be gone so long. Life simply swept me up, like an Oz-bound tornado. But I'm back now. I've missed this. Writing is one of the biggest parts of my self, and even though life has been incredible and beautiful these last few months, there's been a part of myself missing, the writer self who always yearns to over analyze and over share.

So for today I'm just dipping a toe in the water. Loosening up those creaky blogging joints. Dusting off the proverbial cobwebs. (Can you tell I've missed metaphors as well?)

For those who don't know, and even for those who do, even just for myself, a quick summation of all that has happened since last August:

1) I got engaged. To a man I love.

2) Subsequently I started planning our September wedding, a process I've thoroughly enjoyed and been inspired by, but which has been far move involved and complex than I ever could have imagined.

3) I completed a Clinical Immersion on a cardiac intensive care unit during my last semester of nursing school. I cared for the sickest of the sick. I witnessed too many lives ending, but more than a few lives renewed, hearts brought back from literal standstills, happy endings made possible my medicine. I learned so much. I grew so much.

4) I helped my fiance pick out and buy an adorable little 1920s bungalow. And in November we moved into that house together. We have been working ever since, making it lovely and our own. It has been challenging, exhausting, and rewarding. I love every inch of this house, even its flaws, and I am so happy to make it a home with my future husband and our beloved, neurotic dog Sandy.

5) I graduated from nursing school. I earned my second Bachelor's, a BSN, and then a few weeks later I took and passed my NCLEX and became an RN. I am so proud of those two letters. I still get a little flush of pride every time I refer to myself as a nurse.

6) I started a job as a pediatric nurse at a local hospital. I will be orienting until almost May with a preceptor. I've been working for seven weeks, and my experiences are hard to explain in any brief terms. But I am so happy to be where I am. It is what I wanted from my first day of nursing school, where I always kind of knew I would end up, working with kids. Being a nurse on this unit will at times be near impossible, because of the insanity, chaos, patient load, frequent admissions and discharges, because of the diagnoses of some of the children, and what they and their families face and take on so bravely. I know I will be tested, to my very limits. But I am so ready to take it on, to be a pediatric nurse. My work life will rarely be boring. It will almost always be hard. But nearly every second of every day will have meaning and purpose, and that is the reason I went to nursing school.

So that's life in a nutshell, excluding a whole host of other trivial and more minor things. But that's the loss of not blogging since August, not talking about those trivial and minor things. Those are the reason I started this blog, the reason it is named what it is, to celebrate and document the hundred thousand small moments and details that make up the texture of life. I love the little things. And I'm ready to talk about them again, to slow down this crazy life a little, to write about the things I might not remember in fifty years but will want to remember.

Life has been good lately. It's been overwhelming. It's been a million different things. And I'm read to write again.

For anyone who is still listening :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

To get you through until next Sunday.

If you're like me, you live every 7 days between new episodes of Breaking Bad in a fugue state, obsessing about what just happened, wondering what will happen next, worrying to death about poor Jesse. Here are two videos to help ease your pain. No spoilers involved, in less you count how Hank and Marie react to Miley Cyrus at the VMAs or Walt's AMAZING rolling skating abilities a spoiler.

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