Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oh the places we’ve been!

Over the past 14 months, my life has been filled with many experiences I thought I would never have. Not surprisingly, those experiences have taken me to many places where I thought I'd never be, at least not for another 50 years. One of those places is the medical supply store. I used to go about once every 3 weeks, but I've since doubled my order and only have to stop by every 6 weeks or so. Still, it's an interesting experience that comes with a mix of emotions.

On the one hand, wow does that place make me feel young and skinny! I'm usually the youngest person in there by at least 20 years. And those that are 20 years older than me are usually there with an elderly relative helping to get oxygen tanks or walkers. The other option for the younger crowd is that they are there for welding safety supplies. Are all medical supply stores also welding and industrial safety supply stores? Well ours is, and let me tell you, it makes for an interesting dynamic. They try to keep the two clienteles separate, but the people watching is still topnotch.

I learned after my first couple visits that proper protocol is to call about a week before I need the supplies to make sure they're in-stock and have them placed in will call. This phone call is one of the few that I can actually make at work. They can look up my order by my name and birthdate, so I don't have to proclaim to the whole office what it is I need. However, I always get a chuckle out of asking them to place it in will call. Shouldn't will call be for something fun like concert or theater tickets? Not always, I guess. I can only imagine what my cubicle neighbors are thinking at work.

When I head out to pick them up, I used to get asked who the patient is, but not so much anymore. However, my biggest pet peeve is when I go to the will call counter and give them my name and they ask what the order is. Really? How many orders do you have for Erica Jensen? The customer service person usually asks as he's walking back into the warehouse, so I get to yell "two boxes of catheters" across the showroom floor for all the welders and old people to hear. Oh well, it doesn't get to me as much as it used to.

I used to run out to the medical supply store over my lunch hour, but I found it got me kind of down. So I've started going on the weekend when the Boyfriend can go with me and we make an event out of it, either going out to dinner or shopping while we're out. It's amazing what good company can do for the whole feel of a place. Everything always feels like it's going to be ok when he's there. Plus, we can laugh at the welding supplies, give the old people pointers, and walk that will call line like it's the red carpet. When we need our oxygen tanks in 50 years, we are going to be old pros.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September: Reclaimed

As the Labor Day weekend approached this year, I prepared myself for the worst. It marked a year since surgery—a year since so much changed in our life. I expected a total breakdown and planned accordingly. How, you ask? By scheduling a celebratory weekend and following it up with an entire month dedicated toward taking back September. Life passed us by last September, and I was determined to make the most of it this year. It is one of the nicest months in Boise, and while I still enjoyed the view last year from the recliner, I missed lots of my favorite events and the peak of our garden.

So what did we do? We kicked off September 1 by going to a Hawks baseball game on what happened to be half-price beer night. Friday September 2 was the official one-year anniversary of the surgery and we planned to celebrate at a nice restaurant, but plans changed and we celebrated with fast food at the Boyfriend's office followed by drinks with friends. It was a great night and an even better reminder that it's the company and not the location that makes a celebration!

What else? We have watched football games, tailgated, gone to football games, attended BBQs and parties, hosted a BBQ, gone to Art in the Park, celebrated birthdays (three in one weekend!) and weddings, gone to a charity event, witnessed an app unveiling, wandered around the Hyde Park Street Fair, watched Casablanca at the Botanical Gardens, harvested veggies and berries from the garden, and sat on patios and drank beer. We had a jam-packed month that almost makes me exhausted if it weren't for the fact that we'll be hibernating soon. Soon enough, thoughts of watching movies outside will seem just as foreign as plopping a juicy, still-warm cherry tomato in my mouth straight from the vine.

Part of the month-long celebration was an attempt to derail any breakdown that might be creeping up, but part of it was truly an honest-to-goodness celebration. During a year when each day has been measured by a millimeter, the year mark represents a significant milestone. I was given a pretty broad window for seeing improvements, but all of those windows started around the year mark. Hitting that mark means being that much closer to getting better. It means a year of all this is behind us and better things are coming. It was also a celebration of the people in my life. I was flooded with memories of last year when cards, calls, emails, and visitors all made me feel so very loved and lucky. Those thoughts have done so much to lift my spirits not just last September but over the course of the entire last year.

So here's to the next 365 millimeters—whatever they may bring.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Does Our Garden Grow?

Well, most importantly it continues to grow regardless of how much (little) I write about it. Which, if you have been paying attention, is quite lucky for us indeed.

But I had to take a moment to write about one of my favorite days of the year, which just happened to be today. Today the Boyfriend and I harvested our garlic. Since I knew what to expect this year, it might not have been quite as exciting as last year, but it was pretty darn close. We dug fourteen nice garlic bulbs out of the north raised bed: seven hardnecks and seven softnecks. The softnecks were a little bigger than the hardnecks. I think I remember making the same observation last year, but I don't know that I could skip planting the hardnecks next year just because I love looking out in the garden this time of year and seeing the garlic scapes rising from the hardnecks. They look like regal but puny green geese standing guard over the garden.

Last year, my favorite part of the harvest was actually pulling the garlic out of the ground and finding out that a real garlic bulb had in fact grown under the ground over the past nine months. This year, my favorite part was peeling back those first few dirty layers of the bulb to expose the bright white skin just below the surface. You would never know these things had been living in the ground for the better part of a year. There's something cleansing and invigorating about the whole process.

And this year, as a thank-you-for-tending-your-garden bonus prize, we unearthed some beautiful fingerling potatoes! They had sprouted up in the midst of the garlic since that's where the potatoes were planted last year. I didn't expect any of them to be harvestable, but as we pulled out the garlic we got a nice dinner's worth of gorgeous fingerlings.

The potatoes are drying and the garlic is tucked away inside its critter-proof cage to dry in the sun for the next couple weeks. It was a good day indeed!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

If happiness was a seed…

If happiness was a seed and grew up to be a flower, this is the flower it would be. In which case, happiness would have to be a rhizome, but you get the point.

Why this flower? Well, it could actually be any one of these dozen or so irises that started blooming last week in front of our house. I waited three springs for these flowers, but their history goes back much further than that.

These irises came from Grandma Zada's yard in Nebraska. Mom dug them up, put them in her carry-on, and hauled them half way across the country for me about four years ago now. They were the only item I requested from Grandma's house. I waited for the following spring to plant them, which meant I planted them in a concrete planter on the happy little patio at the Mini. As if I had carefully and thoughtfully stored them just right in the plastic bag surrounded by a paper bag (you know mom and bugs), they sprang right up—fans of dark green, promising-looking leaves. However, they didn't flower that first year.

By mid-summer, our lives were on the move again as we moved into Big Red, aka the Barn. I dug up the irises and moved them to the new house and planted them out front next to the driveway. Since they had been transplanted yet again, the next spring offered a repeat performance: big green fans of healthy-looking leaves, but no flowers. We held out hope for quite a while, but as we watched irises bloom and eventually die all over town, we knew it wasn't going to happen.

Well, this year was finally their year. I didn't even know what type of iris they were or what color they were going to be. They're just perfect. Then again, they could have been the ugliest flower you've ever seen and they'd still be just perfect to me. Everything they represent is good and happy.

When we went to Ogallala for Grandma's funeral, I loved getting to show the Boyfriend around town and show him all the places that meant so much to me. But it just wasn't the same without going to Grandma's house—the backyard, the beer 30, the porch, the flowers, the birdbath. That was Grandma. These irises are all those wonderful things combined. And they make me feel like a tangible part of that house, of Grandma, is still with us. If only those rhizomes could talk…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Garden Inventory 2011

I fear that I'm inclined to do this inventory tonight because of the cold weather coming this week. I got everything planted over this past week, and while the lows are only supposed to be in the low 40s, we seem to be in a cold pocket that is predictably cooler. In any case, as of today this is what we have in our 2011 garden.

In the north raised bed along the fence, we have two kinds of garlic (a softneck and hardneck), three kinds of lettuce (black-seeded simpson, a salad blend mix, and little gem), and a super sweet 100 tomato. We also have some volunteer potatoes that we might let go. Between the bed and the fence I've planted some sunflowers.

In the front raised bed, starting at the left, we have four broccoli plants that are doing great. We even have the beginnings of the first crowns. Next to the broccoli are two kinds of radishes (sparkling white tip and watermelon). In the middle of the bed are beets, although not many came up. I planted one of our baby tomatoes (a redo Brandywine) in the middle of the beets. In the cold frame are green onions, only a couple big onions (the ones I direct seeded outside didn't come up, but a couple transplants made it), a roma tomato, and a couple marigolds.

In the back raised bed, starting at the left, we have sugar snap peas coming up the trellis, and in front of those are parsnips and two kinds of carrots (muscade and danvers half-long). In the middle of the bed are a couple marigolds, a black prince tomato, and some basil. Under the cold frame are two more tomatoes (a mortgage lifter and a German Johnson), another basil, and a couple more marigolds.

In the back bed along the fence, we've got potatoes coming up on the right and melon (tam dew) and yellow squash under the cold house. We'll be putting pole beans and corn back there as well.

I've loaded up our pots with odds and ends (i.e., baby plants that I can't bring myself to kill), peppers, and herbs. By the door we have rosemary, strawberries, albino peppers, parsley, and jalapeno peppers. By the grill we have orange mint, oregano, and baby pink icicle tomatoes (that don't look like they're going to make it). By the hose bib, the big pot has Anaheim peppers and the small pots have thyme and some baby tomatoes (Brandywines). The last group of pots have a chocolate bell pepper, marigolds, and a determinate tomato that I'm blanking on the name at the moment (solar something-or-other).

I have one other baby tomato out front, and our hanging baskets by the front door have strawberries in them this year. We've even got a red one already! We've still got our raspberries in the back and we've replaced the strawberries in the strawberry bed.

I was really disappointed about losing the tomato starts, but I bought a couple tomatoes from Edwards (and any excuse to go to Edwards is fine by me) and a friend was nice enough to give us a few as well. I also ended up buying a few peppers from Edwards (the Anaheims) and some herbs. Here's hoping it all survives the night!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Not-so-rush Hour

Yesterday I experienced my first ever pleasant bike ride to work. I biked to an old job a few times from the Mini, but it was a chore—never something I looked forward to. The route took me along some of Boise's least bike-friendly streets and left me white knuckled and stressed by the time I got to work.

Biking from the new house to the new job is a whole different story. Although the Boyfriend assures me the distance is about the same as that old ride, 95% of it is along Boise's Greenbelt, which is yet another part of this city that makes it so wonderful. I won't pretend that the Greenbelt doesn't have its frustrations. Any Boisean will tell you it can be a bit of a bumpy ride. But there are no stop lights, no diesel trucks blowing fumes into your lungs, and no drowsy motorists completely unaware of their surroundings. There are geese, which I'm convinced are quite vicious, but no close calls to report yet.

So yesterday morning, after a practice ride last weekend, the Boyfriend and I set out on our two-wheeled morning commute. There couldn't be a nicer way to start the day. It was chilly yesterday morning, but once we got pedaling I felt great. After a short stretch on the streets, we were on to the Greenbelt. The birds were chirping and the churning, near-flood-stage river was amazing. The air smelled so crisp and clean—it was a better wake-up than a triple latte and the Boyfriend's damn rooster alarm clock. Perhaps the best part was that the Boyfriend slowed down and rode with me. By 8 o'clock yesterday, we had exercised, enjoyed the outdoors, and spent a relaxing half hour or so chatting about the river, the general demeanor of cyclists (much friendlier in the morning, by the way), and how out of shape I am.

It was a perfect morning—one of those mornings that reaffirms that it really is the little things—bike rides, time with the Boyfriend, clean air and rushing rivers—that make us the happiest. It was also one of those mornings that reinforces to me how much I love this place.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Before and After

I suppose anything that really brings great pleasure also has the potential to cause great disappointment. Such was the case last weekend. And I suppose, ultimately, I was the direct cause of the disappointment, but I'd prefer to blame it on El NiƱo, global warming, or some other matter largely out of my control. But no, last Friday night I didn't watch the 10 o'clock news and didn't know it might freeze. I left my beautiful tomato plants outside (in the cold house, mind you!) and am solely responsible for their demise.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I immediately looked outside because it was supposed to be a sunny day and I couldn't wait to see blue skies. Well, along with those beautiful blue skies I saw a completely frosted white lawn. I ran into the office to look at the thermometer—25 degrees. I went outside and opened up the cold house. From a distance, you wouldn't have known, but up close I could see the little frost crystals. Then I touched a leaf. Completely frozen. I brought them inside even though I knew it was too late. It was hard to make myself bring them in, because I knew as soon as they thawed they would look like beautiful baby tomato plants no more.

Sure enough, the warmth of the house thawed them almost immediately and they fell all over themselves—limp, wet, mushy, hardly recognizable versions of their former selves. It hit me hard this year because I had really worked to get good tomato starts this year—better soil, bigger containers, even a dose of fish emulsion. Oh well, so it goes. I started new seeds the same day with the realization that we might have to just buy plants if we actually want to harvest any tomatoes this year. But I'm not willing to give up on the seeds just yet. Judging by the cold, wet spring we're having (yes, there is a chance of snow tomorrow), it might be mid-June before I can plant them anyway!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I think it's interesting the different ways we track time depending on what's going on in our lives. I've been thinking about this as I'm nearing the end of a bottle of dish soap I have in the bathroom that I use to clean some medical supplies. I remember when I first got home from the hospital and realized I would need some dish soap in the bathroom. First I just borrowed it from the kitchen. How long would I really be needing it anyway? I remember it was an almost-brand-new bottle. After I realized I was stranding the Boyfriend mid-dishwashing with no soap, I bought a new bottle for the kitchen and kept the almost-brand-new bottle in the bathroom.

And now as I'm approaching the last few drops in that original bottle, I can't believe I've almost used the whole thing, drop by tiny drop. Part of me is dreading having to replace the bottle. It feels like a tangible admittance that things aren't normal yet. Part of me is hopeful. Every time I tip over that bottle for another drop or two I'm reminded of an hour glass. When that last drop runs out, I'm half expecting something miraculous to happen, as if the universe will take it as a sign that I'm ready to move on. The practical person in me knows that when I finally squeeze out the last bit of soap that is more soap bubble than soap drop, the only response will be me cursing the fact that I forgot to put dish soap on the list.

If it's not dish soap it's vitamin B6 pills and boxes of catheters. I finished my 100th B6 pill this morning, and so far, no response from the universe. That could be a good thing, because I wasn't quite sure how the universe would respond to me taking 10,000% (literally) of my daily value of vitamin B6 for 50 days in a row. I thought I would turn into some sort of B6 mutant, but so far so good. And by that I mean no more mutant than usual.

As far as the catheters go, I've gone full circle. I remember the first time the Boyfriend went to get some for me because I wasn't feeling good enough to go myself. I thought for sure the dozen or so they sent me home from the hospital with would be all I'd need. I couldn't believe it when he got me 50. There was no way I'd need 50. Now I'm happy to stockpile as many as I can afford for two reasons: 1) in case of impending nuclear disaster, the Boyfriend thinks I should have some on hand and 2) the fewer trips I have to make to the medical supply store the better. But that's a story for a whole different post.

And now I'm off to open my new bottle of B6 vitamins . . . bring it on, I even bought an extra.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring, at least officially

Spring blew in with a fury, and with the exception of a few nice days, it has remained rather furious. The standard for "nice" days seems to be lowering by the week. On the first day of spring, our fence blew down during a ridiculous windstorm. That's the kind of spring it's been so far. In any case, it's nice that it's officially spring if for nothing else than my mental health.

Despite the Corvallis-esque weather, we've been doing lots of spring-type things. Besides fixing our broken fence, the Boyfriend has started fixing up the raspberry trellis to replace the shoddy job I did last year. He had to start mowing last weekend and is sticking with the human-powered push mower another year. I even told him I'd buy him a powered mower, but he's tough. (By the way, Boyfriend, the offer is still good should you change your mind . . .) He's trimmed the perennials back, tamed tangled hoses, and lord knows what else. Thank goodness for the Boyfriend.

My main contributions have been planting, of course. I've got all sorts of seeds in the window sills—and some have even sprouted! Outside, I've planted pea, carrot, parsnip, lettuce, onion, beet, and radish seeds. I transplanted our broccoli plants into the cold frame and they're looking really good. I planted strawberry plants in the front hanging baskets. I don't know how they'll do, but I thought it would be fun to try. More and more pots and containers are switching teams from ornamentals to edibles, but I'm sure I'll try to keep a few flowers alive this season. The garlic has come up nicely. It's always so wonderful to look out there during the wet, snowy days of "spring" and see the bright green leaves bursting from the often frost-covered dirt. The raspberries are going gangbusters and have taken up quite a fight against the Boyfriend's attempt to keep them contained in their designated bed.

In bulb news, I'm loving the mini daffodils this year. I'm going to try to find more to plant in the fall. Our first tulips opened today and they're so happy looking. The most exciting news is what the Boyfriend discovered last weekend: our gladiolas, which I was too lazy or too crippled to pull out last fall, are coming up again this spring. They're not supposed to winter over here, but apparently ours did! Yay for lazy gardening working out to our advantage!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rain, Rain

Not even the rain can dampen my spirits today. After sitting through a medical test that I couldn't even tell you about without blushing (or laughing/crying like a 3-year-old, depending on my particular mood), I just had a wonderfully good-natured and patient doctor tell me that my nerves are trying to regenerate. I didn't even know that's what the test was supposed to determine, which is probably a good thing. As I was waiting for this test the last 4 weeks, I don't know if I could have handled the possibility of getting the news that my nerves were done recovering whatever they were going to recover. In any case, here are the thoughts running through my head…

Hope is powerful. It's also very personal and very public at the same time. It's hard to extricate your hope from the words and actions of others. And some days that makes me mad. I wish I could put my hope in a little Ziploc bag and carry it around with me and not let anyone else touch it. But people do. Doctors look at you in a certain way, or let a certain tone creep into their voice, and just like that, your precious hope shrivels and hides somewhere. Then, when you can't seem to find your hope because it's mixed in with all the other shit that you throw in your purse and it gets lost in the clutter of your life, someone you love looks at you just the right way, or says just the right thing, or says nothing at all and just holds you in his long, skinny arms and the hope just spills out all over the place.

So today my hope was buoyed by a doctor who said my nerves are trying to stick with me, although their extended vacation might last another year. Lucky them. They might also be a bit different when they do come back. Although I wish I could be strong and stay hopeful all on my own, I'll still take the help. I also know that investing in hope is a little risky. Even as I was riding the hope high on the drive home from the doctor's office, I was already telling myself to be realistic. Even so, I'm willing to put my money on hope. I don't have much to lose.

Other thoughts…I was hooked up to some sort of machine (looked like a plain old computer to me) and thank goodness I couldn't see what was going on, but apparently it involved metal plates, needles, electrodes, and lots of wires. The historian of science in me couldn't help but get a chuckle out of the whole get up. In 100 years will people laugh at my electromyography studies the way we laugh at the mesmerism and animal magnetism practitioners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Obviously I don't think so, but it's easy to find the humor in medical gadgets, and gadgets in general, I suppose.

Throughout the procedure, I was facing away from the doctor and the gadget. I was also (thank goodness), totally unable to feel the procedure (and pity the souls who aren't so lucky). So, my only proof that anything was actually happening was the strange noises the machine made. The thought crossed my mind once or twice that the doctor might simply be sitting behind me, trying to dial in a radio station, getting only static, and popping some popcorn.

It is strange how quickly our realities can change. It happens to all of us at some point: One day you're sitting in a situation you never could have dreamed of a few weeks or months ago. Sometimes those situations are fantastic, sometimes not so much, but thank goodness you have the right to laugh either way.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things are happening, friends!

Near-record low temperatures be damned, it's spring at our household. We're getting raised beds ready, planting seeds, and figuring out where to put those seeds when they become plants that require light and warmth.

The Boyfriend finished redoing the cold frames. The paint had almost entirely peeled off during the winter, so he stripped and sanded them, primed them, then gave them a nice fresh coat of paint to match the house. Leave it to the Boyfriend to make sure our garden is color coordinated with our house. I would be so low class if it wasn't for him.

Meanwhile, I built a new home for this year's seedlings. I found out that I have been misleading some of you into thinking I built a greenhouse. That's probably because I called it a greenhouse. But really, it's kind of your fault for believing I could build anything that has "house" in the name. In any case, it's really just a giant cold frame so we can store seedlings outside until they're ready for planting in the garden.

My construction job wasn't perfect--and my engineering work even less so--but it felt good to make something. And by "feel good" I mean an emotional feel good. I couldn't walk for three days after the construction project because my legs were so sore from squatting down on the ground and kneeling on the garage floor. In any case, I hope it at least works for this season. It's held together with hinges (and a few magnets--don't ask), so if it does make it through this season it shouldn't be too bad to store. For a good greenhouse option check out the Cast Iron Idaho blog--a great food and garden blog by my friend Katie.

On January 23, I planted some onions seeds--both for green onions and the new Ailsa Craig onion seeds. I've since transplanted the Ailsa Craig seedlings into a bigger container and transplanted the green onions into the cold frame just to see if they could make it. They actually seem to still be alive, which I'm quite surprised about since it was 9 degrees when I woke up this morning.

While I was planting, the Boyfriend was spreading our very first batch of compost. Most of it was frozen, so it was quite a task, but the bin was full and we needed to start a new batch in the space. It was great to have our own compost and think about how much stuff we didn't throw into the trash and instead turned into nutrients for our garden. Cue the Lion King music--it really is the circle of life.

On February 5, I planted broccoli seeds. I know most people don't do broccoli from seed, but I thought I'd give it a try. So far so good. We've got 9 little broccoli plants that just today I transplanted into bigger pots. We really only need 4 plants if they're anywhere near as productive as our broccoli plants were last year. I think I'll try to put one or two out in the new cold frame/green house (let's just call it the cold house) to see if they can make it outside.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

They're here!

Last night, the Boyfriend and I walked to the mailbox together in a drizzling, cold rain that was supposed to manifest itself as a light shower later that evening. The weathermen were wrong--crazy, I know. He opened up the mailbox and amongst the bills, junk mail, and what have come to be weekly rejection of coverage letters from my insurance, there was a small package. A little bubble mailer stuffed full of happiness. Inside was my 2011 seed order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and all the happiness that comes from having thousands of baby plants in your hands all at once. The reality that only a few of those potential babies will grow up to fulfill their destinies doesn't squelch my happiness one iota.

What makes me even more excited is that seed planting time is already upon us. I've read that I can start my onion seeds anytime now. I am straight up looking for redemption this year when it comes to our onions. Did you hear about our onions last year?

We started them early and transplanted them into the cold frames. They did quite well right from the start. We thinned them out by eating green onions, which were fabulous. But we held off on pulling them all for green onions because we wanted some big, beautiful onion bulbs in the fall. We eat a lot of onion--sorry, we try to carry gum with us at all times. In any case, the onions got their spot in the raised bed all year. They occupied valuable real estate, but we knew it would all be worth it in the fall.

They grew and grew and grew. In fact, they kept growing when the tops were supposed to die and fall over. Still, we just thought we had the biggest onions in the valley. The Boyfriend finally pulled them out one day last fall when it was clear we couldn't wait for them much longer. This mysterious harvest process had been hugely gratifying up to this point. Pulling each garlic bulb out of the ground had been like a religious experience to me. When the Boyfriend harvested our fingerling potatoes, I squealed with delight and showed them to anyone who would feign interest. When he pulled the onions out of the ground, our streak was over. They looked like giant green onions or leeks. They didn't have a bulb at all. I had clearly done something horribly wrong with our onions. Thinking they were defective, we took them straight to the compost pile. I didn't even plan on planting them again this year.

Then, a few weeks ago I was flipping through my 2011 seed catalog and some text jumped out at me: "bunching onion . . . non-bulbing white type." Excuse me? There are non-bulbing onions? I ran out to look at my seed packet from last year. Right there on the back of the packet it said: "Does not form bulbs." I read for a living. Holy crap.

So, for 2011 I will plant and pick green onions from last year's seeds and try again to get those large, homegrown onions we were hoping for last year. I ordered "Ailsa Craig" onion seeds, a "well-known globe-shaped heirloom onion that reaches really huge size--5 lbs is rather common." I'm just shooting for globe-shaped.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Memories of other places

Last week I finally said goodbye to some old friends. They said nothing in return.

These friends were the dolls and stuffed animals of my childhood. They were the ones who had survived several previous rounds of donations. They had been stashed away in big Rubbermaid containers or placed lovingly on shelves in a room that has been empty for the better part of a decade. I never would have mustered up the gumption to do anything about them if Mom hadn't so thoughtfully dumped them off in our garage during the Great Purge of 2010.

As I pulled each doll or stuffed animal out of its plastic bin, 9 times out of 10 the toy's name popped into my head out of nowhere. I may not be able to remember where I put my cute brown shoes last week (yes, they're still missing), but I remember all the crazy names of those toys. Us only children have to find companionship in the places we can, you know.

The timing was horrible. The Boyfriend and I had just watched the latest Toy Story movie. As I transferred these beautiful toys, one by one, into large garbage bags for donation, I thought of so many wonderful memories. And of course I heard them screaming for help a la Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

The one that particularly struck me was Margaret--a blonde-haired doll with a blue, flowered dress that looked to have come from the Amish book of fashion. She tagged around with Raggedy Ann and Andy but undoubtedly always felt like the odd-man out. In any case, her leg was still in a cast fashioned from athletic tape from her days as a patient during hospital. It was extra hard to say goodbye to her.

A few got to stay--but only a few. I could too easily be one of those people that looks around them one day and says, "but what if I need that newspaper from 1991?" I'm too sentimental. But what I realized with Margaret is that it's the memories that are important.

The last stuffed animal to face the chopping block was Benji. He looked so cute with his fur all disheveled, either from being well-loved or crammed in a box for a decade or both. I couldn't get rid of him, so in some perverse act of love I gave him to the dogs as a new stuffed animal toy. I knew Kira would love the size of him. His little belly would (and does) fit just perfect in her mouth.

I think Benji wishes he would have been donated.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

The Boyfriend and I rang in the New Year by staying up until 12:30 a.m., and that was reason enough to celebrate! We chugged a glass of champagne and toasted to the fact that it would be another year before we had to stay up that late again.

The New Year has started off just the way I had hoped--lots of relaxing, eating, and spending time with the Boyfriend and my parents. We ate yums yums, potato salad, and marshmallow-mandarin orange-pineapple "salad"--salad is used here in the midwest sense that it's not a main dish, but you'd probably be better off to eat it for dessert. It's kind of a New Years Day traditional meal, which always makes me laugh because everything about it screams middle of summer to me. But I love it all the same and am happy to indulge.

Speaking of the middle of summer, I thought I'd post a few pics of our harvest from the fall. It is currently 12 degrees F, with a "feels like" temperature of 2. Here's to dreams of sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil . . .