Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A spot for the random

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!!!!

Product placement is key! How many times have you been tugging at a wedgie while standing in the rain thinking "Ugh, if only I could find something to fix one of these problems without forgetting the other!!!"
This store has got you boo! Hipsters and the elite side by side, as undies and umbrellas have always been meant to be. Just like peanut butter and jelly, or ice cream and sprinkles...
 ...or ice cream and night crawlers and red worms!? And the bathroom I just noticed! This is not your typical kitchen work triangle. And yes, I might know whose ice cream she is scooping-don't judge me.

Meanwhile, I have chosen appropriate spots to plant tomatoes, even fed them the appropriate soil. I achieved minimal results...ok, maybe I let them get too thirsty. My mother is on her second or third year of mystery tomatoes.
All of those plants there under the tree are cherry tomatoes that have never been planted. She did stake them, but provided little additional tending, other than harvesting. 

Oh, one other thing about locations...if the glimpses into my life here just aren't enough, I am on instagram (ajcasarsa) where research into the finest half moon cookies is just one of the things being highlighted! Maybe I'll see you there!

Well that is about as fascinating as I can get for now! Peace out honeybees!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Green with anticipation

My cousin was eager to know more about our heritage, specifically my grandmother's, so she ordered one of those newfangled kits and had it sent to her mother. This plan was flawed from the start. I admit that I did not understand the holdup at first. Why was my aunt taking so long to get this project underway? Folks were getting restless and we didn't even know which nationality to blame it on! Finally my [insert ethnicity here] impatience stepped in and offered to take care of the situation. My aunt gladly handed over the box, and despite being momentarily dazzled by the pretty colors, I immediately saw the problem.
"Saliva collection kit"? That read far more daunting than "cheek swab" or "little bit of spit" would have. Ew. I hadn't even seen the size of the vial yet, but in the name of science and research I tried to motivate myself. After all, we only knew what we had been told our entire lives, but mere wishes and repetition do not necessarily make something true.
And here is where my own personal filming of the movie Groundhog Day began. I never did get that beautiful Andie MacDowell hair, but luckily we only shot for three days with a very low budget. Day one brought some dismay at the notion of spitting, mixed with interest in results. I also learned that her salivary glands may not be overly active at this stage in the game. Luckily, if I planned my requests far enough apart, it wasn't as if I had asked so many times. We were nowhere near the target line by the time I left after several attempted deposits. I called the company to see if I could continue collecting, and was told I would have to start over using the stabilizing solution ahead of time. I was also given super helpful pointers like massaging the side of her cheek, and letting her carry the vial around for a few hours. Considering she would have forgotten within ten minutes what the vial was for, I wondered if my own saliva wasn't the best plan. I tried to think of any possible hiccups from the first trial I should try to avoid on Day 2, other than not going.

Day 2-we might be from Canada. She was still fascinated by the notion of this newfound test she had never heard of. I was still trying to figure out how to help her distinguish blowing raspberries into a vial from actually spitting. I headed home once again feeling both deflated and accomplished at the same time. Having put the stabilizer in, I had no visual for the target amount anymore and just forced myself to accept the fact that I was shutting this project down regardless after one more attempt.

Day 3- "Hi Gram, there is this new thing where they can do tests to see what country your ancestors came from"..."I think I've heard of it"--interesting. I had no idea the intrusion on various one minute clips of her morning this was causing.
I did quickly understand though where some of my impatience may have come from, including the recent addition of France.

While I do not consider myself to be a special snowflake, the idea of being a bit of a unique shamrock had some appeal. My mother and I went for some possibly premature celebration.
Totally buying this shirt next year if the results warrant.
Can you see my mom, even with that camo kilt? I make no promises that this will be her purchase.
I realize that just wearing a green shirt may not be enough depending on percentages.
I did introduce myself to my first Guinness! When in Rome Dublin.
The kit was registered and received, and now we wait...and hope that a message saying "insufficient saliva" is not received! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Revisiting the Random

Welcome to October! It has been quite a hiatus from the random. I had moments where it seemed I had, what seemed to be, much grander topics to discuss. The trouble with all of that fancifulness was that it would have required more thought than I was willing to spare at those times. At other times, I wondered if my random thoughts were just too silly. Had I not met myself? There always has to be something to give me a much needed kick in the ass, so here is what reminded me who I  am...
...as if the poop emoji was not awesome enough, it has now been given fanciful unicorn attributes. The colors still baffle me, butt but watch out for that horn! Very often, once one nonsensical photo takes up residence on my phone, other commonplace items take on new life. This sign here, the circled part...
...I know what it says, but my brain initially tried to process "CASUAL MALE HANDLERS". Mind you, I still cannot comprehend what a fancy mail handler might be aside from wearing long white gloves. Despite the fact that the coupon cutting around here was so far behind that some of the circulars had basically expired, the fodder they provided did not disappoint. Luckily things didn't get too far out of control thanks to Sheriff Plucky Duck here...
...he has no soul-look at him! I wonder if the target audience is duck lovers or wild west aficionados, neither of whose collection I want to see. Despite the game of Cowboys and Indians not being politically correct these days, look who was on a nearby page...
...this dachshund does not look amused by the name he has been been given, nor the fact that his headdress is too long. This is a Hamilton Exclusive, as perhaps other companies were busy with sensitivity training. I am sure both figures are of high quality, butt but can they top this craftsmanship...
...does that sentence even make sense? Have I been gone too long? I do appreciate your patronage though! Speaking of...
  ...this was the five star review I saw when I was looking for a bakery nearby recently (never you mind why). I laughed and laughed while eating the free piece of rugelach said baker heated up for me. I did not patronize him--not one bit!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Why you should DIY…and not ask me to

Crime scene?
I guess, of sorts. While the screwdriver was used to open that paint can, things really escalated when I wielded the brush (shown here subdued by a plastic bag). That circular might have been put to better use if actually read, as it was clearly no match for this event. I guess doing the bare minimum of prep work is where the reasons start for why you should do it yourself, right there at the very beginning. I can give you some tips on how to be an underachiever though that may inspire you to do a little paint makeover of your own though. Let's see how this project progressed.
Before:
Step one is apparently to not take a decent "before" picture. This prevents anyone from getting a real sense of how poor good your craftsmanship is. Some light sanding went on, but probably not enough.

Another step not to be avoided is hastiness. Why empty the creepy, and possibly antique, doll in the drawer when she can provide company and moral support?
Be resourceful when making sensible choices for propping up your project. Old televisions and computer monitors make sturdy work stations if you happen to have some sitting around. Again, do not waste a lot of time or energy protecting the floor.
I also subscribe to the notion that paint equals primer, and eventually I will have enough coats. 
After:
This is important - act quickly! Take that "after" photo before any bleed through occurs with your paint. Yes, there are absolutely ways to prevent this from happening, but need I remind you of the title of this post? This is about being good enough with your thrifty self when giving new life to a basement find.
My daughter required more of an end table sized night stand, and she did not disappoint with how much stuff is typically spread out across the (poorly finished) top.

I can provide shortcuts and other half-assery tips for a multitude of undertakings - just ask!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

This particular nest

Perhaps you have been wondering how I am doing in my new phase of life?
Even if that was not your primary concern for coming here, can we talk about it anyway? Although, now I am curious as to why you've stopped by. This calls for a cookie! However, since I have already eaten two homemade chocolate chip cookies today, each one the size of my hand, let's try to focus. 

I know people are fond of the expression "empty nest", those might not be people who have experienced it. First of all, as you can see above, the nest doesn't really get left empty. There is dirt and and detritus that overflows in the wake of duffel bags being hauled out the front door. Look at all of those twigs-were they even comfortable to sit on? Did anybody actually use them? Why were they even kept? Surely that mother bird and I have much to discuss.

I don't think of our entire house as a nest, mainly  just this couch.
(Yes, I vacuumed for you.) This is the place where we all fit comfortably in our assigned seats. Well, some of us were more comfortable than others in a literal sense, but my soul could rest here. Whereas that mother bird eventually got crowded out, this nest still had plenty of room. It has taken some effort for me to figure out how, and where, to sit in this space.
I am 5'4" and just can't quite fill it up.
 I have to work on my sprawling techniques.
I have made some progress though, as last Monday I went and sat in my bedroom on the phone instead of looking at the empty seats, and today I am here typing on my assigned cushion...and taking dorky pictures to share with you. Thank you for giving me purpose!

No tears were shed during this post and I am very pleased to report that both kids are settled in and seem very happy!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dear Mystery Person(s)

This post is a bit late, but no less heartfelt or delicious! As I struggled to find new strategies of coping last week, a large box arrived on our doorstep addressed to me-and only me-which is super exciting to begin with. I read the return address, ecreamery, and pondered what miracles of modern day science could possibly await me inside! Dipping Dots, the ice cream of the future? Freeze-dried astronaut offerings? 
Yes, I see that the scoops of support has mysteriously been opened before photo could be taken
Nope, this was legitimate frozen ice cream...four pints! Are you seeing those flavors*?

Of course I used four spoons, I am not a savage
(even if I was in the pint of compassion before photo could be taken)
Included was this note that gave me the feels right down in my soul, and then just when I might have cracked, a dash of humor to make me grin.  
Something was missing though...the sender's name. So just to recap:  Ice cream (win), note that made me feel love and happiness (win) AND a fun mystery (win)!!! So thank you mystery person(s)--I hope maybe you visit here. 
I truly appreciate the compassion...
I was most definitely wrapped in a hug...

 And truly felt the support
 And, for a few moments, felt much better!

*Seriously, every one of these flavors were not only incredibly creamy, but also delicious and full of whatever delights the descriptions promised.


Friday, August 24, 2018

For the love of pajama pants

I am so happy that I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that included a Facebook dialogue between Jeffrey and me. It was hard enough to find the original post, let alone what would have taken to sift back through so many lines of messages. I find comfort, and humor, in seeing his words. I was just watching an Episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where Kate McKinnon was reflecting on a time where she wore Spongebob pajama pants out in public, and I just knew it was time to review this public service message.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This Little Light of Mine

I have been wanting to write a blog post since whenever it was that I wrote my last one. My time was being spent elsewhere, but the greater issue was that my mind was otherwise occupied as well. Many of us were making an attempt to say goodbye to a dear friend who had run out of treatment options in an incredibly fierce battle. I did finally pull together some words to say at his services yesterday, and thought I would share them here to explain not only what we have lost, but to celebrate who we had the joy of knowing.

Let me start by saying that were it not for Jeffrey, my hair would be limp and three inches longer. Also, one can only imagine what frock style ensemble I would have pulled together to stand here in. I am still not positive about the dress, but he gave it his seal of approval for another event last month. I chickened out at the last minute then, but figured I would go for it today. I admit that the temptation to wear my Hello Kitty pajama pants was great, but I resisted.

I tell the following story because, while it is personal, I believe it will resonate with many of you in this room. A couple of weeks ago, the sky was gray and lightly spitting on me as I got in my car at home to head to Jeffrey's house. The mere ten mile drive brought me to bluer skies and sunshine. So typical. I told Jeffrey of my journey and that it summed up our friendship - leaving my Addams Family style rain cloud to go stand in his light.

Jeffrey - a bright shining light, casting rays so string that they illuminated parts of us that were possibly in shadows or simply too hard to see - empathy, compassion, strength and hope. All the while he stayed present with dignity, grace and of course, laughter.

He brought out the best in us with his kindness and simply for loving us for who we are.

And when Jeffrey did pick on me, with that incredible wit, I would immediately start trying to defend myself. Then one look at those insanely long fluttering eyelashes and that smile, and I was quickly laughing with him, realizing he was right...and it was funny.

So I imagine Jeffrey's first words to Saint Peter were "Really?! That's what you're wearing?!"

Let's all keep his light shining my friends.


Jeff and I waiting for his needle biopsy this past February-after a discussion
on how nice that blue gown color looked on him

As for the title of this post? It is one of my favorite Raffi songs from when both my own children as well as my siblings were little. It brings me comfort and encouragement. Not exactly Jeffrey's style, as I am unaware of there being a Michael Buble version.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Happier Camper

When I was a kid, I enjoyed a good day at camp. I still do, but my methods of relaxing and enjoying myself have certainly taken a turn to more those of a landlubber. There is now a constant quest for shade, sunscreen and decent snacks. The other day I was watching folks splash about in the water, and began to ponder why I was content on my perch. I suspected it had something to do with the effort it seemed it would take to put on a bathing suit, actually get wet, and then have to go through the arduous task of towel drying and putting dry clothes back on.

The water called much louder when I was younger. Was it the wooden raft my grandfather made that oozed a fine sap every season? It was difficult to wash from our hands and nearly impossible to remove from our bathing suits? Maybe the lack of water shoes back then and how I could cut my feet on the mysterious treasures hiding in the sand was enticing. There were those dark black inner tubes whose scalding hot surfaces were so irresistible. Yes, the plan of attack was to flop one side down on the water and then flip the tube over to then lay atop the barely cooled off side - of course this had to be done while trying to avoid being impaled by the inflation valve. Was it the thrill of not knowing when the wooden dock might throw a sliver? So many possibilities.

There was no hot water out at camp back then, let alone a shower, so sometimes a bar of soap, tube of Prell and the lake were how hygiene happened. It. Was. Fantastic. Every bit of it, every summer. What happened? The seaweed is no more gross now than it ever was. Is there really just too much thought, on my part, being put into something that should require little to no thought? Should content always be satisfying enough? What happened to that girl who always ended up in the water due to enthusiasm or clumsiness? This week brought frustrations large and small, and I just wanted to feel something different. As soon as my husband came home, I told him I wanted to go jump in the lake. (Camp is only two miles from our house - literally.) He offered to take some pictures...as one does when approached with such a greeting. I figured there was just one thing I needed, aside from a towel.
Beyond that, I didn't really want to think.
I just wanted to let it go.

Please note: If I had thought, I might have realized that the cape was going to end up trying to suction itself to my face. I also felt a little blousy and didn't really stay in long enough, so...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Return of the Random

It sure is dusty here, and so many cobwebs! Let's see if we can spruce up the place a little. No, obviously I don't have a new header or fancy graphic for Tuesdays, nothing that crazy, but maybe some words and photos thrown around will work. At the very least, I can clear up some storage space on my phone. I do appear to be at the correct location...
Oh, now I definitely know this is the right spot, but what is going on here...

 ...creepy monkeys have added sloths to their band of finger grabbing monsters! Yikes! 

Here is something that you might be relieved to know...

 ...unless you weren't part of that "popular demand". Maybe you were concerned with other issues...
 ...no need to say specifically what every one of them was. Have you been trying to cut down on the amount of paper used, by emailing people? Have you then been trying to find the perfect paper to print out those emails on?
 "Ideal", or kind of dum?
Every single one of these flavors makes me want a lollipop less, but the actual item they claim to mimic the flavor of far more! (Plus, cream soda dum-dums rule!) In other candy identity crisis news...
 ...don't ask, because I don't know! In a complete departure from "sweet heat"...
 ...as opposed to the name brand "Supremely Spicy" hummus, this one boasts to be "Significantly" so. It was far beyond that!

To wrap up this random, I have to share this photo of the women sitting near us at the Imagine Dragons concert.
Those are lyric sheets she is flipping through. Props to her for making the effort! It was an amazing night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Random recall

As I stepped out onto our back deck, the sweet familiar scent wafted by. My iris friends had most certainly arrived for their annual spring visit. I followed the scent like I always do because I still marvel at these flowers as much as I did when I was a kid. How do they open from those buds into something so delicate? If you are a botanist and know the actual answer, don't tell me because we all need to keep a little magic in our lives.
Apparently some bees thought this patch needed some plain green mixed in
My great-grandmother had iris with variegated leaves in the beautiful gardens that lined her driveway. I am guessing she tended to her flowers with far less complaint than I manage to. Rhizomes were shared and made their way to my grandparents' garden where they were eventually divided. Some tubers were planted at my mother's, and then traveled to join my weeds. My landscaping (and I use that term loosely) does not have quite the same panache as the beds these iris inhabited before. I admit that as much as flowers fascinate me, I do not really like to garden. I want to have all of the flowers, but don't enjoy the heat, allergies and weed patrol.
My grandmother used to "let" me help her weed her garden. She made it look like something a seven year old should want to partake in. Gloves and tools? Sign me up! I know she often regretted her decision because I did not perform the task up to her standards. Was this story going somewhere? Why yes, I believe it was. As I inhaled the irises, I was reminded of the time my grandmother asked me what my favorite smelling flower was, as we were out working in the soil. Without needing time to think, I told her it was the iris. Her response was kind of an abrupt "Really? I didn't know they had any smell to them." I stood my ground, as I often did, despite her doubt.
These types of stories about conversations with my grandmother used to bother me, a sort of indication that we struggled to relate to one another, or argued about who was right. I really wanted to be "right" one day. Certainly the time would come for me to show her. These tales have lasted through the years, but have taken on much more of an endearing quality. They are just part of our history...our very rich history.