Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jack-o'-Lanterns 2009

Last night, The Boyfriend and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins. As I've mentioned before, we've carved pumpkins for the past two years, which in my world is absolutely long enough to be called a tradition. So this year was our third annual pumpkin carving event. Since our pumpkins were a little bit on the small side, we bought a couple pumpkins at the store a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, The Boyfriend ended up choosing a fairly small one anyway, figuring the smaller the pumpkin, the sooner he would be done with his carving duties. (He really does enjoy it, I swear!) We had good intentions to do our carving the last couple of weeks, but kept putting it off. So last night, we set up shop in the garage and went at it.

This year I was going for redemption. Three years ago I was carving pumpkins with a friend of mine who had never carved a pumpkin before. Thinking I would keep it pretty simple, I decided to carve "BOO" into my pumpkin. As I came around the bottom of the B, however, lining up that bottom curvy cut just perfectly with the left edge of the B, I realized I had made a grave mistake. The whole B just fell right out of the pumpkin. Duh, you all say. But I hadn't thought it through (obviously). My B had no middle, and I'm pretty sure I just followed suit for the subsequent O's. My disappointment was matched only by my embarrassment at making such a rookie mistake.

This year, I set out to redeem myself. The Boyfriend knew my carving plans but would not unveil his. He usually goes for a scary face. (Although last year he did carve BOO in the back of his jack-o'-lantern just to irk me. It worked.) He finished his small pumpkin first and put it on the porch. When I finally finished mine and took it around the corner to join its little buddy, I fell in love with the Jack-o'-Lanterns 2009. Now I'm crossing my fingers for just one trick-or-treater so someone besides us and the two people who read this blog will see our masterpieces.

It's everything I hoped for this past spring when I planted our pumpkins. Sure, we didn't actually carve our pumpkins, but we carved pumpkins, together, in our house. As we sat out in the garage, it was exactly what I had envisioned. Except that in my head, we would have been eating chocolate. I forgot the chocolate. Well, there's always next year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yesterday's significant (and possibly signficant) events

Two, perhaps three, significant events happened yesterday. First, I witnessed the first snow of the season. Well, my first snow of the season. I heard rumors that a few flakes fell earlier this week, but since I didn't see them, they didn't count. Yesterday, flakes came down from 1 p.m. until 4 or 5 p.m. For all the complaining I do about winter (that's a lot, for those of you who are lucky enough not to hear it), I was really excited. The changing of the seasons is always exciting, even if it is from a better season to a crummy season. The snowfall yesterday also served as validation that I am in touch with the universe and its meteorological workings. About an hour before the flakes started, I thought to myself that for the first time this year, it felt like winter. Not like a crisp fall day, but like winter. And then, voila! The Boyfriend and I were both working from home yesterday afternoon, him upstairs in the bonus room and me downstairs in the official office that I am starting to enjoy. We took a midafternoon break for hot chocolate with caramel flavored marshmallows. What good is the first snow of the year if you can't look out the window with a cup of hot chocolate?

The second significant event yesterday was Becky's birthday. As birthdays do, this event comes around every year and always seems to serve as a reality check and life inventory moment for me. Once Becky's birthday is here, I know I will be putting the same number of candles on my cake in less than 6 weeks. This year marks the one year countdown until the big 3-0, an event my mother assured me was her hardest birthday. Thanks, Mom. But I'm not worried about that. I've seen others live through it with no ill consequences (excluding a slight hangover, perhaps) and I'm actually looking forward to what the next decade has in store. But I'm getting ahead of myself. When Becky celebrates her birthday, I always have this moment of incredulity where I realize we're real adults. This is easier for me to see with Becky--she's got a real job, husband, and kids. But sometimes Becky and I will always be second graders at the skating rink in my head. However, this year I'm just thankful that we've come so far but ended up back in the same place. Birthdays, whether yours or others, are a great time to be thankful--both for the past and for what's yet to come.

The third event--which may or may not be significant, the jury is still out--took place when The Boyfriend took the puppies out in the yard last night after the snow stopped. In the first garden bed, hardly visible if you didn't know what you were looking for, he saw a small green shoot coming up from a clove of garlic that I planted over 6 weeks ago. I would post a picture, but it's so small you can hardly see it, and you would just laugh that this tiny thing may actually be a significant event in my life. Don't mock. I had given up on the cloves long ago (and had started lamenting that I had buried a perfectly yummy, edible item in the dirt), but there was no reason to pull them out since I didn't need the bed space. We'll see if anything comes of it. Let's just say I won't be taking garlic off the grocery list just yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Storms, House, and house

I have historically been allergic to Sundays the way most people are to Mondays. I have always felt like once Monday roles around, the week has started, there is nothing you can do about it, and the weekend is on its way. Throw in a donut day and a happy hour somewhere in there and I'm good to go. That being said, I don't LOVE Mondays. I don't wake up (these days at 5:00 a.m.) yelling, "Yay! Monday!" So when I woke up this Monday morning, I bemoaned the start of yet another bootcamp week (and the beer and football watching that was surely going to make it especially painful) and then promptly remembered that Monday night is House night. Now if you don't watch House, you won't understand (and why aren't you, anyway?) But for those of us who are addicted to Hugh Laurie and his American accent in his role as Dr. House, you know what I'm talking about. I looked forward to the show all day, partly because it's an hour of just sitting and relaxing with The Boyfriend. Sometimes he'll even cuddle with me if I 1) look really cold; 2) look really scared; or 3) offer to get, make, prepare, or otherwise aid in the transfer of dessert from the kitchen to The Boyfriend's belly. In any case, I look forward to our Monday evenings. However, this Monday evening held two surprises: 1) House was not on and 2) a very cool storm rolled in just about the time we were looking to sit on the couch and be entertained.

Although I really dislike the cold weather, especially when I'm just trying to make that transition from warmer to colder seasons, I really love storms. I was spoiled at my parents' house. No, not in the only child type of spoiled, but in the sense that their view over the valley was incredible for watching the weather, the sunsets, and the passing of time in general. However, I'm realizing that our new place has pretty respectable vantage points as well. On this particular Monday, The Boyfriend and I went upstairs in the bonus room to check out the storm.

The big window in the bonus room looks west and offers a great view of the weather heading our way. We opened the window and the 50 mph winds were howling. They were kicking up leaves and swirling them up and down the side of our neighbors' house. As I stood at the window, I realized I was getting rained on through the window. And not just a little bit. The wind was blowing the rain right through the screen. Hmm, that's why The Boyfriend was sitting behind me on the couch as I stood by the window. Anyway, it was cool. Maybe even cooler than House. We sat upstairs for the next hour or so, watching some other TV show but mostly watching the outside fade from stormy dark to just dark. I think sometimes just sitting and being together and being present is all we need. But I'm not going to lie, if House isn't on next week, I'm going to have to write a letter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Maple

I feel like October hit and nature decided it was time to get on with fall in a hurry. Last week the small trees started changing colors. It's so subtle at first--maybe one leaf looks brighter than the rest--but then it seems to happen so fast. This week more trees started their seasonal wardrobe change as well. Thank goodness the big trees are looking defiantly green. I couldn't handle the complete undoing of summer quite yet. But I know it's only a matter of time, and I suppose I'll be ready for it when it comes. We've been enjoying the fireplace, football, and cool but sunny evenings in the yard with the dogs. If only winter didn't come after fall I think I would thoroughly enjoy autumn in all its colorful glory.

Since I've been working at home, I've been a bit more observant about the changes in the season as I watch days unfold through our still curtainless windows. Last week I noticed the tiny maple in our yard had started to turn. Surely amusing our neighbors (if any were watching), I went out back and took pictures of my maple tree. I took closeups of the leaves and some from a distance. Why? There is nothing spectacular about this particular maple or the bronzy maroon taking over its leaves, but this maple is mine. I have never had a tree before (and I suppose this one isn't truly mine for 357 more mortgage payments), so I'm especially enthralled by watching my maple turn fall colors. I even saw what appeared to be the first leaf that dropped from my maple. Which reminds me of something. Once it starts dropping more of those beautiful leaves, I'll admit that it's our maple (and by ours I mean The Boyfriend's, of course).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumpkin Sex

Yesterday morning I went out to the garden to survey the damage after our first frost. October isn't messing around. Everything got it, even the tomatoes I covered with old bed sheets. In any case, as I stared at my limp, lifeless pumpkin vines, I couldn't help but laugh at our learning experience with pumpkins this summer. As I mentioned before, our pumpkin started out in a ridiculously small hand-me-down white plastic pot on my patio at The Mini. Like most plants, I attached way too much sentimental value to this inauspicious green vine. It represented all the hope for the coming summer and fall. I desperately wanted to plant it in a nice big garden where it would grow giant pumpkins that we could carve in the fall. The Boyfriend and I have carved pumpkins for the last two years--both our Halloweens together since I've been back from grad school--so it only seemed fitting that perhaps this year we could carve our pumpkins in our house.

I transplanted the pumpkin during a week of 100-degree weather. It took a week or two to get acclimated to its spacious new home but after that it started growing fast. I would mark its progress each day by noting how much further it had inched across the 8-foot bed towards the cucumber. When it started curling its delicate but defiant tendrils around the defenseless cucumber, I called it a victory for pumpkin and stopped measuring the speed of the attack. The pumpkin also had those beautiful, big, happy flowers that would greet me every morning. (Look to the top of the page--those are the ones I'm referring to!) The pumpkin had been blooming since its days at The Mini, so I felt quite confident that we were indeed making pumpkins.

However, one day I noted my gardening pals had all started mentioning baby pumpkin sitings. The Boyfriend and I scoured the vines but couldn't spot any babies. After another week or two, I told my plant friend Erik about our pumpkin troubles. "Oh, well just head out there in the morning with a Q-tip and swab the flowers!" Excuse me? Did he really think I was going to go out there with a cotton swab and play pollinator? As it turns out, I didn't have to. One bright morning when the flowers caught my eye, I told The Boyfriend we might as well try making some baby pumpkins. Sure enough, he had been out the day before, Q-tip in hand. I guess when the birds and bees are preoccupied, Johnson & Johnson can pick up the slack.

A few days later, I spotted the tiniest baby pumpkin. Turns out that baby pumpkin is actually the female flower's ovary. Crazy! The Boyfriend claims he is not the father, but quite a coincidence otherwise, don't you think? They are obviously a bit too small to carve, but they're still our pumpkins at our house and this year I'm going to call that a win.