Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My very tentative hold on normal.

So, I totally realize that I'm out of whack with my posts.

I mean, let's be really honest and I'll just say that I'm out of whack with the Normal pace of life.

That became readily evident last weekend as I was trying to get out of town to go on an annual Girls Trip with friends from my Former Life With Normal Job.

All of those women, they're well beyond Normal, but the life itself was pretty Normal when viewed by my parents and other judgers of Normalcy. I guess the IRS would have probably considered me Normal, too, and ripe for the TAKING ADVANTAGE, but we won't go into all that.

What I'm saying is that last weekend I realized that Normal is no more in my life.

When my friends were leaving work early to get on the road for our trip, I was standing next to a six foot high windrow of compost debating the number of turns required to justify compliance with organic rule.

The number is five, in case you're curious.

When my friends were having their cars detailed in preparation for our trip, I was pulling Duchess off the dirt road into a makeshift parking lot near the packing barn at a local farm.

Obviously neither of those cars are Duchess.
When my friends were pulling on their LuLu best and getting Brazilian Blowouts, I was stretching a hat over my hair and stepping into my Hunters.

And there was just no way in hell I was going to be able to leave the farm early because there was much to discuss in relation to composting materials, birds of prey, seeding methods, organic cut flower growing, cover crop rotations and so on.

Plus, it was a class offsite and I don't think the teacher would be cool with that. And then there's the subject of the other students who I'm sure think I'm some sort of prissy corporate cast-off.

So, basically, I'm not really considered Normal in any of the circles I frequent.

Thankfully Normal is not required to sustain life.

Which I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt as I went to leave the farm and meet my friends nearby so that we could carpool on our trip.

A Normal person would have reviewed the directions and THEN plugged them into their cell phone's navigation system, then charged the cell phone to its fullest capacity, then gone to class, changed clothes and shoes inconspicuously in the farm parking lot and driven to meet friends guided the whole way by the properly functioning navigation system.

That would have been Normal. At least for me back in the day when I cavorted about as Normal.

Now though?

Uh...take a look at the friend's address in the email, text it to my phone, go to class with a half charged phone and take pictures of the farm the whole time thus depleting the battery to 5%, ditch muddy shoes and sweaty sweatshirt in the trunk and pull on flip flops and cuff muddy jeans, wipe off pits with sleeves of sweaty sweatshirt because of extreme classiness, get on the road to friend's house in town I've never visited and within 5 minutes, deplete cell phone/navigation system battery to 0% and, despite being attached to the charger, lose all phone using capabilities including that which allows one to make a call, drive around aimlessly for 45 minutes *hoping* to magically come across friend's house in unknown town, finally drive to a gas station, buy a map like in the old days and THEN drive to friend's house for the road trip.

Arrive with anxiety and rage tattooed across my face despite the words, "It's OK, I'm cool. So so sorry!" coming out of my mouth, meanwhile extremely glad that my old Normal skill of committing small pieces of information like an address to memory are still intact.

And what did my friends say?

"We were so worried about you because being late is SO NOT NORMAL for you!"

Yep. They're right. It didn't used to be.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I am the biggest nerd. Also, old.

Please tell me you have these moments, too:
  • Someone sends you (in some social media-y way usually) a word that you have never heard before and don't believe exists in the English language and then you have to break down and ask (or in the case of Urban Dictionary, search) what the hell it means.
    Example: FASHO
  • You see a billboard advertising the 20th anniversary of a movie that you saw IN THE THEATER.
  • Packing for a Girls Weekend involves trying on every item of clothing you have, throwing it all on the floor and heading straight for the liquor cabinet.
  • You get to the liquor cabinet and try to cheer yourself up that at least you *have* a liquor cabinet because as a kid you used to think it'd be great that one day you'd have one and it wouldn't have a lock on it but then you open it and realize it has all the same boring crap in it that your parents' had and no, like, Zima or Bacardi or anything.

    Then you remember that that stuff is all disgusting and that gin and bourbon are better anyway.

    Which is SO something an old person would say.

  • You consider buying Sensodyne toothpaste.
  • Some woman on Dr. Oz is talking about her three simultaneous strokes, which OBVIOUSLY doesn't apply to you since you're in your mid-30s, and then says that she's 38 years old.
  • When people say things like, "You are too young to remember this but..." you actually *aren't* too young and you totally remember and, what's worse, you can remember things about it that they can not.
  • Some gal in class is listening to Sheena Easton all ironically and, when you make a comment about Ms. Easton's odd foray into bilingual vocals, she looks at you like you're retarded.
  • You say, "gal".
Because it makes me feel better that I'm not the only one who has daily moments of HOLY SHIT I'M EFFING OLD mixed in with other equally horrifying moments of HOLY SHIT I'M A TOTAL NERD. 

Like I was saying about today, for instance, when I was attempting to pack for our Girls Weekend and realizing that the way I pack is totally nerdy.

And that everything in my life is getting pretty nerdy.

I am a nerd.

See, for me to pack for any trip, I have to write out a list of everything I'm bringing (I have a Google Doc template and if you're secure enough in your nerdiness, you may request it and I may give you the link. NERD ALERT. And you guys are officially nerds, too, so here you go.). 

Then I have to take that list on my laptop to my bedroom and pull everything for each outfit from the closet/shelves/dresser including underwear, socks, bras, accessories and shoes. 

Then I have to try on each outfit to make 100% sure that I like it the same way I used to/that it doesn't make me suddenly (or still) look like a total heifer/it hasn't been mysteriously ruined/you can't see my nipples.

Then I'd like to say that I pack the outfits away into my bag and I'm done, but that quite literally is never the case.

No, inevitably, there is at least one outfit that needs major adjustments or burning in the yard.

Today, as I confidently pulled out the pieces for my Girls Weekend 2012 weekend, I thought I was going to experience Time #1 when everything would be just right.

I'm so dumb.

I tried on all the outfits and a few of them were OK (FYI: I count jammies as an outfit. THANK GOD.), but some were horrific and I thought briefly of locating a lighter. So, I had to do that put-on-everything-take-everything-off-give-up-and-go-with-the-first-outfit thing that is my worst nightmare when I start this whole process.

But not before creating a giant heap of clothes on my bed and deciding to just bring everything. Which, for the record, is my second worst nightmare when starting the packing process - the I-don't-know-what-to-wear-fuck-it-just-bring-everything thing. Thankfully, I didn't have to resort to the pre-Vegas weekend packing strategy of Just Wear Whatever Shows The Most Cleave.

But I'm afraid I can't break myself of this packing ritual of mine and, worse yet, I'll have to summon the endurance for a weekend of confident strutting about in these carefully chosen outfits as though I meant to do this, yes my boobs are supposed to stick out that much and no I did not pack everything I own.

Because certainly I am the only one who is this neurotic about packing.

Also, I have two ditty bags so that I can keep my clean underthings separate from my worn underthings and also so that my worn underthings don't touch my dirty clothes.

And my shoes all have bags.

I think that's it.

Monday, October 15, 2012


So, it totally happened again.

I got all charged up to go back to The Ridge of Ultimate Sanity and Nonsense Sorting after nearly five months running elsewhere where it's not so muther effing hot and again I found there to be a race going on.

How could this be, COASTAL TRAIL RUNS PEOPLE? Do you not hold races anywhere else? Is this Coastal Trail Runs HQ now?


Oh, because you have it published on your schedule which you also send me via email that I totally ignore because I'm not running races right now?


Either way, I showed up ready to run my favorite trail and seek out the illusive strings of my sanity and when I saw there to be a race on, I made a different decision than last time.

I decided to run My Trail anyway.

Because after the first time I ran this trail, which was during Coastal's Horseshoe Lake race a year ago, I decided that this trail was The One and Mine and EVERYONE GET OFF MY TRAIL IT'S MINE GO.

I realize that makes no sense and that I should be grateful, in some way, to the Coastal Trail Runs people for introducing this, My Favorite Trail, to me so that I could piece back together the patchwork quilt of my sanity, but no.

That's not really how I'm built.

Instead I just cling to this place and its (often) solitude with the GIMME GIMME enthusiasm of a 4 year old and when I see that the very same trail-introducing people are there putting on the same race for other people I get all NO.

Because I assume that in the cold, rainy, blustery days of winter, all 200 of these people will be back clogging up this trail when what I need is sanity and no people.

Except that makes no sense either since this race has been going on for a few years, even before I came across it, and there were approximately 2 people in the entire park last winter during the shittiest/best weather.

Really, other Prius guy? BE ORIGINAL.

So whatever - all that to say that I decided to not be a puss and slink off to solitude elsewhere for my run and, instead, to park Duchess in the main lot because the ranger said I could since I wasn't there to participate in the race.

BONUS #1 To running bandit(ish): You don't have to adhere to the race's parking restrictions. You're not a racer! You park where the normal people park!


And, when I did go to park Where The Normal Not Race People Park, there was only one other car, so good times.

BONUS #2 To running bandit(ish): Starting 25 minutes after everyone has left the building means the trail is wide open and you won't have anyone on your heels.

Which was good because those were the conditions I was after anyway, so I was at Mission Accomplished status even before leaving the parking lot.

As far as running bandit went, I think I can only call it bandit-ish, since I didn't start with the group, run their exact course or run with anyone who was actually running the race. I didn't have my photo taken or drink from the water stops (of which I didn't see any anyway) either. I was just there to go on my usual Saturday run and they happened to be there also having a race. Hello, friends!

But I did get to take advantage of the cheering crowd, pep-talking racers and fist-pumping mountain bikers as my fresh legs and I charged up the midway hill of the ultramarathon.

See, the beauty was that I was out for a five mile run, not a 50K, but nobody knew that so when I started my weeny five miles at the 50K 15 mile mark (or so - these things aren't too precise), I looked like "my first 15 miles" were nuthin' and that I was charging through the second 15 miles with my hair on fire.

Which I most certainly was not. If I'd already run 15 miles I would have been on a stretcher bound for the emergency room or at least lying prone in the parking lot having fluids fed intravenously and probably a lot of bandages around my ankles.

But again, nobody knew that, so I got a couple of "Attagirl!"s from a couple mountain bikers who probably thought I was running the "Saturday Ultramarathon" denoted on the trail markers with some amazing hidden endurance obscured by my "unique ultramarathon physique".

Yeah, I don't really look like I am capable of an ultramarathon, so these guys were probably shocked into cheering.

Again, WHATever - it was actually kind of fun.

And at the end of the trail, back where I'd parked Duchess Where The Normal People Park, I had to cross the race's finish line because that's the way out to the parking lot and LO I had a cheering squad.

Of course, I told them that I was just there running by myself and not racing (I'M VERY HONEST. REALLY.) and they cheered louder.

BONUS #3 To running bandit-ish: When you come clean and just tell people you're there running of your own accord, you get the same (or better) cheers without having to register for a race or park in the ditch somewhere.

So, yeah, it was still pretty great to go back to The Ridge of Ultimate Sanity and Nonsense Sorting even though there was a race on and even though there were people to dodge and even though I had to say words to people when I'd set out to remain in my own brains for the morning - still cool.

And it turns out that the last four months of running the Elevation Triangle Of Doom has done me right. Since I can now run the full course Of Doom without fail (yep, not just 3/4 of it anymore), The Ridge of Ultimate Sanity and Nonsense Sorting is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bermudagrass is on the moon

Back when we first started tackling Bermudagrass in the backyard, I totally thought of it as "Bubba's Thing".

Like, he's the one with problems related to the existence of Bermudagrass and he's the one who thinks it's necessary to turn an entire lawn out into the streets to fend for itself while sifting and shoveling and raking and HUNTING HIS FINGERS TO THE BONE searching the remaining soil for remnants of Bermudagrass.


Not me.

I'm normal.

And then it cropped up near my vegetable plants which I think you know meant that FUCK THAT.

So, then it became my Thing, too. Because it encroached on my precious vegetables and I can.not.have.that.

But I mentally drew the line there.

Bermudagrass is only my problem if it gets near the vegetables, but otherwise, Bubba can fight it out with that nonsense and in the event that I see it around, I will pull it out, but I won't go down the dark and winding rabbit hole of trying to eradicate it by means of removing everything it its path and going at it with a shovel and my bare sifting hands.

Or will I?

Yeah. See that harshly pruned fountain grass in the back corner and the lower growing iris greens beside it and the daffodils and some of those poppies next to the maple tree?


The shit found its way to the front yard. Because of its intense evil and because it can grow under pavement, without light or water FOR 150 DAYS.

Yes. Absorb that information, will you. In our mild NorCal climate where it doesn't freeze but it will suddenly rain for no reason on a September morning at 6am for 30 hard minutes so that everything has a chance to soak up a little moisture, Bermudagrass can thrive. And I also imagine that this sudden September rain shower happened on Day 149 of No Rain, so all of that Bermudagrass that was on the ropes of life and almost about to bite the dust received a life-giving boost that empowered it to take on the front yard.

To thrive, if you will.

And thrive it did. All the way under or around or through (it could happen) our house and into my front yard meadow.

Which I then, of course, ignored for a solid six months. Like, I saw some signs of it out there when I was pruning the fountain grass (RIP, buddy) or deadheading the bulbs or hunting wild animals in the Serengeti that is our wild meadow, but I dug those bits out and called it a day.

Done. The Bermudagrass is handled.

But it SO was not.

Which Bubba brought back to my attention a few weeks ago and hasn't let me forget. I do believe there was a "Come on, peckerhead." in there somewhere, too, just so that he knew that I wasn't going to conveniently only listen to the sound of our contractors NOT FINISHING THE BATHROOM GAH! instead of heeding his warning of the encroaching Bermudagrass.

Eventually, though, I had to do something because, at least, it was in stark contrast to the complete powerlessness I was experiencing with regard to the rest of the disasters unfolding in my house.

This I could do something about. I had the power. I could also rage my fricken face off at the Bermudagrass and no one would file a lien against our house in the process, or say, drop a deuce between the new drywall.

No, Bermudagrass is defenseless that way. It can't come into my house, tear down my bathroom and leave me showerless for 2+ months.

But this isn't about our forever-taking bathroom project. It's about my Bermudagrass rage and how I punched a hole in the atmosphere with our sprinkler system again.

You see, friends, when I realized I was going to spend my weekend digging and sifting through the hard-packed hasn't-seen-rain-in-forever-because-we're-having-the-driest-year-on-record front yard soil instead of going to Tahoe to gallivant around for Oktoberfest, I was none too pleased.

This is not fun for me - digging about looking for evil invaders.

So, you can imagine that when I headed out to the yard in my full yard work regalia (doo-rag included) and my heftiest and pointiest shovel, my rage was on full tilt.

I was ready to slay me some fucking Bermudagrass.

Also, sadly, it meant that I was going to have to remove the fountain grass altogether because The Evil was all up in that thing like it was a stairway to heaven or something crazy.

So, to keep myself from going blind with rage and sorrow and frustration and WHY ISN'T MY BATHROOM DONE NO I DON'T CARE THAT THAT'S UNRELATED TO YARD WORK, I consoled myself with the fact that at least I'd be able to divide the irises that had been growing into an ever-denser clump over the five years they'd been in the ground.

"I'll divide the bulbs!" I said.

"I'll replant them in a huge drift where the fountain grass used to be!" I said.

"It'll be beautiful!" I said.

Do you know what I did not say?

"We'll have a geyser in our front yard where the fountain grass used to be!"

Nope. Never said that. Except that's exactly what happened.

But first, I actually did dig up everything, toss the fountain grass, divide the bulbs (HOLY HELL THERE WERE ONE MILLION) and eradicate the mother effing Bermudagrass.

That's a 5 gallon bucket, friends. OF IRISES. When I planted them 5 years ago - there were a dozen. 

This is our yardwaste bin. CRYING.
Just an extra bucket of Bermudagrass I pulled after filling the yard waste bin. THAT'S ALL.

Dug the giant hole. Added compost.

Replanted one million divided irises.

Covered it up to pretend like nothing happened.

Mulched the ever loving crap out of it and roped it off so no one decided to use it as a walkway which would have totally happened. 
And then Monday morning came around.

I was sitting in the backyard covered in all of my textbooks doing all of my homework and studying for class when my neighbor peeked his head through the dutch gate and advised me of the Tallest Fountain in America Award which I was now winning thanks to the new water feature in our front yard.

Apparently, in all my rage-shoveling, I sliced through one of our 1/2" irrigation lines.


And then did I mention that our irrigation system is totally haunted ever since the contractors unplugged it during the re-piping of our house so now it comes on twice on the days it's scheduled to run?

Because I got to experience the second coming on of the sprinklers AS I was inspecting the irrigation line for the alleged leak.

Hooray for my extremely clear sinuses. And the vicinity of the emergency water shut off valve. And our stockpile of sprinkler fittings and couplings. And the fact that I was caffeinated and vitamined (I should update you on the vitamin regimen - good times) and thinking clearly and rationally. And the fact that I'd burned out all my rage doing the too-aggressive shoveling over the weekend.

Because I actually managed to give the Tallest Fountain in America award back to our friends in St. Louis after only about 20 minutes of sorting through couplings, muddy digging about in the yard and replacing of iris bulbs from those that landed on our roof in the fountaining process.

And I'm proud to say throughout that stratospherically damaging event, not a single sprig of Bermudagrass was seen, so I can only assume that it was shot into space where it shall remain until such time as suburbs become commonplace on the moon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I now see why wine is so expensive.

So it was Sunday - the 49ers had just stomped the ever-loving crap out of the Jets, I had studied my eyeballs to the bone in between hangover naps and pointing the contractor at different things that needed doing/fixing/explaining and it was hot.


Because we are having ourselves a full-on Indian Summer around NorCal and it's a bit hard to handle when you live in a tiny old house like ours without A/C or, you know, insulation.

Hooray for charming Craftsman homes built 100 years ago before they learned that plaster and lath is no way to construct interior walls and that P-traps are a must on toilet waste stacks.

But don't let me go down the road of Horrors of Bathroom Remodeling because I daresay we will not return intact.


That's all I'm going to say. 

Instead, let's talk about something else I'm never doing again. Namely, making my own grape juice.

See, when it was all hot and I was all exhausted and my brains were leaking out my ears due to the hangover, my neighbor began pounding on the back gate with an announcement that got my ass peeled up off the me-shaped dent in the couch and onto Tulip even though the mere thought of riding a bicycle at that moment made me nauseous.

She said that one of our other neighbors had a table full of Concord grapes in her front yard and she was giving away grocery sacks full FOR FREE. Also, HURRY.

And for those of you who are all, "Um...who gives a straight rat fuck?" I will first ask you whether you kiss your mother with that mouth and then also - DON'T YOU KNOW ME?

Meaning, of course that I gave a straight rat fuck about the table full of free bags of Concord grapes and, even though my head was throbbing with the intensity of a thousand herpes-riddled whores' crotches, I forced myself through tunnel vision toward the garage so that I could hop on Tulip and toodle over to the neighbors' to gather my just reward.

Reward for what, you ask? Um...for not bludgeoning the contractor to death when I saw overcuts in every corner cut tile, that's what.

Right? You see.

Also, let's not talk about the bathroom remodel because OHMYGODI'MSOREADYFORITTOBEOVER.

The toodling on Tulip went well though - meaning that I didn't barf into anyone's yard, there were still lots of grapes left AND I got to carry them home safely in Tulip's front basket like I was Dutch or some shit - and I returned home with about 10 pounds of Concord grapes.

I felt like the conquering hero, I'm not ashamed to say.

"Look at all my grapes!" I shrieked freakishly as Bubba attempted napping on our molten lava couch.

"Mmmrrfff." Bubba replied enthusiastically while trying to pull the rug up off the floor and over his ears so that his wife would quit bugging him about abandoned fruit while he tried to sleep off his own hangover.

I wasn't deterred though. I was drunk with the joy that is free delicious fruit that I actually want.

I mean, I can get sacks of apricots and plums GALORE at other times of the year, but that's like, pfffffffft. I'm not shaking off a pukey hangover and riding my bike through the heat to get a sack of apricots. 

But Concord grapes (or figs, pineapple guavas, cherries, blackberries) - these things are totally pukey hot hangover bike ride worthy.

Unless what you decide to do with them, instead of just give them a quick rinse and then sit down in the middle of the strainer and eat yourself free, is make juice.

I am here to tell you, people, that making grape juice - at least from Concord grapes - is a thankless, messy, not-worth-it endeavor.

Firstly, there's the stripping of grapes from stems. This isn't too bad and it gives you a chance to eat a bunch of them like a wild animal while some husband naps unknowingly in the other room, his store of grapes diminishing by the second.

Secondly, there's the rinsing of said stripped grapes. This isn't too bad either, except that since these are slip skin grapes, their friggen skins slip right off, so you're always wondering whether that's a bad mushy grape you're touching or just a slimy slipped skin. Thankfully, this was mostly just slipped skins and random debris. Though I think there was a spider web in there and that freaked me out.

Thirdly, (and what should probably be fourthly and fifthly for the amount of mess it made) there's the juicing. See, I thought I was taking the easy road, which, incidentally, is my oft-taken route, by hauling the juicer out from the garage to lay waste to the 10 pounds of rinsed grapes in my strainer.

This will be CAKE, I believe I said aloud just like a douchebag might.

And then it was most certainly not CAKE.

What I'm saying is that I do believe that I will be cleaning grape juice off of the white cabinets in my kitchen for many years to come. Also, what idiot chose white cabinets for our ultra busy kitchen?

Anyway, once I got done shoving handfuls of slippery grapes into the juicer while attempting futilely to cover the fill hole, I had about 6 cups of something grape like in my big Pyrex pitcher and about a half gallon sprayed all crime scene-like across my kitchen.

Fourthly, there was the straining. OH MY GOD THE STRAINING. See, friends, grapes have that lovely gelatinous texture to them that lends so well to making jam and jelly and to slipping of skins and general grape enjoyment and that gelatin has to go somewhere during the juicing process and that somewhere is into the strainer to block all the juice from going through. 

The straining process was, well, straining. It took for-fucking-ever. I strained and strained until I could strain no more (dodging all kinds of cliche bullets right there, I just want you to know. I do this for you. Enjoy.) and then I put what was left into the big glass Pyrex to "settle" in the fridge overnight.

For the record, I should have just done this first and not strained a god damned thing because what emerged from the fridge after 24 hours was nothing short of a miracle.

Also, I'm pissed I didn't photograph it because it was truly remarkable and also I'm never going through this process again, so you're just going to have to try the miracle for yourself. Be sure to have a cocktail nearby though, because you'll need it.

See, when this juiced grape business sits overnight in the fridge, the solids float to the top and form a solid gelatinous layer that can be easily removed with a spoon. Seriously, the shit's like Jell-o.

Fifthly, there's the decanting of your freshly squeezed 10 pounds of grapes' juice into 1/3 of a 1 liter bottle.


Yeah, after all that tunnel-visioned, hangover-tainted, gonna-puke-in-the-neighbors'-roses, been-straining-myself-purple-and-coloring-my-kitchen-like-a-crime-scene juicing, I got a measly 11 ounces of juice.

But it was damn good.

I just finished the last glass.

I didn't add any sugar, water, other weird flavorings or anything. Just drank it super cold over a few ice cubes and WOW. So good.

Not tunnel-visioned, hangover-tainted, gonna-puke-in-the-neighbors'-roses, been-straining-myself-purple-and-coloring-my-kitchen-like-a-crime-scene juicing good, but not bad in any way.

Just a LOT of work for not a lot of juice.

So, yeah, not doing that again. I'll just eat my grapes, thankyouverymuch. Or make jam or jelly. That I can do. I think.