Tuesday, April 29, 2008

. . . Another Door Opens (2008)

A year ago, the worst thing that ever happened to me, happened. Worse then the death of my Father due to a rapidly-progressing disease. Worse then the stolen natural childbirth experience due to an emergency c-section. Worse then the car accident that put me in the hospital for 5 days.

I've never considered myself a stay-at-home person. I've always worked a full-time job since the day after I graduated with a two-year college. I was lucky enough to get a job that I enjoyed, that helped me learn many valuable skills, and, when I felt there was no more growth potential, left on my own terms for a better opportunity.

Three years ago we decided to move to Creekistan, much closer to my husband's job. Or more correctly, our move to Creekistan was decided for us. For one thing, a home near our dear friends became available for a shockingly low price. It was a "handyman special," and our dear friend was a handyman. Then on the day we closed on the house, I was offered the perfect job. Jobs near Creekistan are rare. It was as if fate was paving the road for us.

I really loved my new job. It was an oasis to me while my home in Creekistan was not finished. I was able to shower at work--a luxury I didn't have for a while at home. I had wonderful and like-minded co-workers. I had pets at work that helped take the stress away and make every day special. It was such a nice change from the sterile corporate environment I had been in for many years.

I was, as I refer to it, "quit" from that job. I wasn't fired and I didn't quit on my own. I was forced to pack up my desk and my desk trinkets because I wanted to preserve as much dignity as I could. I didn't want to go. I enjoyed my job and the workplace. But something made the boss stop trusting me and start criticizing everything I did. And I couldn't continue to work under those circumstances.

I was really hurt and scarred by losing my job. I still have nightmares about returning to work, humiliated and subservient. I still have anger toward the boss who forced me to leave. To this day I can't say the name of the company or the name of the boss. Instead I refer to them as "The Place I Used to Work," and "She Who Must Not Be Named" respectively. I cringed when my W2s arrived in January.

A year later, I've learned to become a Domestic Goddess. Some days I even manage to get my son off to school, make breakfast and lunch for my Husband to take to work, and I teach my 3-year-old the alphabet. I can now do laundry during the day instead of late at night. My garden is going to be bigger and better. My home is better run.

I feel like I didn't just lose a job, but I lost my identity. I'm still troubled by the fact that people use their employment as their identity. At parties, when people ask, "And what do you do?" I used to tell them all that I found interesting and fun about my job. Now I have to really think about my answer. I'm in transition, and making the best of it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #86

13 Things I've Seen While Driving in Creekistan

1. A lot of deer. They're overpopulated, and now I'm not just seeing them at night, I've actually seen them running during the day. A couple years ago, a deer ran into my car (I was nearly stopped!) broke a light and ran off. But I can usually spot them.

2. A lot of litter. Some people around here seem to think that it's perfectly okay to throw their garbage right out their window. In fact, this morning I saw a complete bag of fast food garbage in the middle of the road. I have a neighbor that I suspect drives into town every morning for McDonalds, and on his way back, throws his garbage out near my house. The dog knows too, and looks forward to it.

3. Chickens eating on the side of the road. I guess they're smart enough not to cross. But if they did, I'd have to ask myself "Why?"

4. Roadkill. Most recently, I saw a dead fox. Broke my heart since they are such beautiful creatures.

5. ATVs. A favorite local past-time is to drive a loud four-wheeler on the road (illegally) with a cooler of beer strapped to the back. People of all ages participate. I once saw a 2-year-old with a hurt hand because she reached for something while on a 4-wheeler and got injured.

6. Vultures/Buzzards. With all the roadkill, who can blame them? But these are the kind of creatures that make you stop your car and wait until they fly off. They are large, nasty things. I've even heard that if you piss them off, they will projectile vomit at you.

7. Baptisms. There is a creek on my route that is perfect for this purpose. It's also good for fishing. We joke that we hope a fisherman doesn't snag a recently saved person. Baptisms upstream, fishing downstream, please.

8. Rusted appliances. Some people, instead of properly disposing of their old appliances, leave them outside. We've joked that Creekistan is where old appliances go to die. But I've noticed that during these hard economic times, more people are trying to get money by taking garbage to scrap yards.

9. Very large, old satellite dishes with vines growing over them. I love the site of nature taking over. Or is nature trying to get satellite TV?

10. Dogs that love to attack cars. I don't get it. What is a dog going to do with a captured car? They can't eat it! Bandit has been know to do this, but we're working hard to curb this habit. (Sorry about the pun!)

11. Chipmunks quickly running across the road with their tail straight in the air. The soundtrack in my mind plays the xylophone as I giggle at the site.

12. Box turtles getting a little sun. I've made it a habit that if I can safely do it, I'll stop and carry them off the road. They are too precious to be killed by careless or heartless people.

13. Beautiful scenery. Every day, no matter what time of year, there is something lovely to admire.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #85

I just recently signed over the title to our cute VW Beetle. So this week I'm doing a retrospective of that car.

13 Things About Our VW Beetle

1. My husband, during his 2+ hour commute from the city to his job near Creekistan, passed by this cute blue 1999 VW Beetle. It was nearly love at first site.

2. We bought the Beetle from a boat dealership. All the paperwork said "boat," but was crossed out and replaced with the word "car."

3. Neither one of us could drive a shift, so we had a friend come down and test drive it for us.

4. Our friend had to drive it home. He kept it at his place until my husband could learn how to drive it.

5. I was in my last trimester of pregnancy at the time, so I didn't want to ride in the car while my husband learned to drive a clutch. I was afraid the jerking motion would put me into early labor!

6. After a few weekends of practice, my husband felt comfortable driving it and we brought it home.

7. Just a couple of months of having the car, my husband thought he was comfortable enough to drive it during a really terrible snow storm. He just wanted to go to the library. We all get in the car and we can't even get off our hilly street. Eventually he had to park it and we walked home. We couldn't get the car out of the deep snow for almost a week.

8. For Christmas that year I got him a matching steering wheel cover and a bouquet of flowers for the built-in vase.

9. It wasn't long and things started to go wrong with the car. The first thing was the driver's seat: it wouldn't go back down after you moved it up to get into the back seat.

10. Then the driver's-side door wouldn't close right. Then the driver's-side door wouldn't open right--you had to roll down the window and open the door with the outside handle.

11. Then the windows stopped working--they wouldn't go up without considerable help.

12. Finally, my husband realized that the heat gage wasn't malfunctioning and that the car was really overheating--eventually blowing the headgasket--the equilivant to a massive heart attack.

13. We managed to drive the car--steaming like an angry, blue dragon, to our mechanic. That's where it remains and that's who bought it for parts.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Daffodil House

At the end of a long hike in the woods near our house, we found the old homestead we call The Daffodil House. Abandoned long ago, this house now stands--actually leans--in a secluded and beautiful spot. I imagine, long ago, that the farm wife who lived there planted a few daffodils so that she can enjoy the first signs of Spring with the lovely yellow flowers.

Now the house is sinking into to ground and the daffodils have taken over. The house leans to one side, being held up by a couple of trees that have embedded themselves into the side of the building. Windows are now small doors. If you peek inside, you see the detritus of long-gone residents, teenage parties, and careless hunters who have left evidence that people used to feel safe going into the house.

The wallpaper hangs from the walls. The couch has exploded and springs are everywhere. But the best site is the vast field of daffodils that have spread all over the area. Nature is taking it back.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #84

13 Reasons I Haven't Done My Thursday 13 Lately

1. It's Spring! I've been enjoying the outdoors.

2. I've been busy starting seeds for my garden. I use those cute dirt pellets that magically expand when you soak them with water.

3. I've also been expanding my garden and turning the earth for another garden plot. A lot of digging! Where's that roto-tiller I was promised?

4. I finally took my son to his first 4-H meeting. He's officially a Cloverbud!

5. The mushrooms have started to appear. My family have found a few, but I've found none.

6. Because the mushrooms are so prized (and valuable), we've had to let Bandit scare people off our land. He just barks at them, but I think they get the hint.

7. We've been trying to clean up the glass mound across the street. The people who used to live in the house that used to be there just tossed their glass behind their outhouse. Now we've got years of beer bottles, coffee jars, medicine bottles, and the occasional Ponds jar to pick up.

8. I'm going to see if any of these old glass bottles are valuable. Perhaps I can clean some up and sell them on eBay?

9. I've made the hotel reservation for my husbands Doctoral Hooding ceremony (aka Graduation.) Next I need to look into limos! He's graduating on a Friday the 13th.

10. We've also finalized the dates of our vacation to Omaha. Boy is my Mother excited.

11. There is now flooring down in one of the extra bedrooms. All it needs now is some electric, a new celeling, some drywall work, and paint. Then the kids can move out of my bedroom.

12. I've applied for College. I'll probably start classes in the Fall. It's been 10 years since I've done any classes. I hope that some of the stuff I did a few years ago will transfer over.

13. I've really missed Thursday 13 and everyones comments. I'm glad I was able to write this today!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Put on Your Mushroom Eyes

It's now the wonderful time of year in Creekistan when everyone gets a little mushroom crazy. The Morel mushrooms are coming up! In some places in Appalachia, they are called "Molly Moochers."

We have a great spot for these prized mushrooms on our property. So prized, in fact, that we have to scare away mushroom hunters all the time. People around here tend to stop their car and start roaming the forests for mushrooms. I don't think they care if they are on private property or not. But I care! We value these mushrooms and use them for ourselves.

The whole family goes mushroom hunting, except for the dog, Bandit. Aptly named, Bandit will eat the mushrooms if he finds any. So we have to keep him tied up and barking when we hunt for morels.

First, we put on long pants and boots. Some of our property used to be a glass dumping place for long-gone former residents. We try to stay away for that area, but protect our feet from broken glass anyway. Then we grab mesh bags that we've saved all winter--the kind that onions or some fruits come in. Mesh bags allow proper ventilation of our precious mushrooms. Last, but not least, we put on our mushroom eyes.

Mushroom eyes help you to focus and see the mushrooms that have the magical ability to hide in plain site. You can be looking right at a morel and not even see it! But once you've used your mushroom eyes and had seen a mushroom, then you can see even more. It's like they magically appear!

We're going out, right now to see if we can find some. Even if we don't return with mushrooms, it's still a good excuse to explore the forest and enjoy nature.

Wish us luck!