At last.

August 11, 2008

I have finally begun posting my garden pictures from the last mumblemumble months. I didn’t get them all posted by ANY means, but there are enough up now to give you a good idea of what I’ve got. (Lovin’, baby. It’s what I got.) Of course, since I took these pictures — two days ago — a billion more tomatoes have started blushing, the cucurbits (squash and cukes alike) have doubled in size, and my herbs have done their usual post-harvest exploding. I’m going to try to keep posting these as fake updates throughout the rest of the week, but to be honest, I’m a little afraid.

Hello, friends. Why don’t you throw me some topics? I feel a little lame writing about nothing but work, work, the garden, work, work, and the kid. I will even take a few more pictures if they MUST accompany a post, but you better have a darn good topic.


Not waving.

July 28, 2008

I’m still kind of swamped in work, but I have a little breather right now. Most days I do work for Land Images until one or two in the afternoon (with appropriate breaks for exciting activities like Feeding The Kid and Taking A Leak), then do some ChaCha replies while Connor naps, then clean the house and make dinner, then check blaaaaawgs and forums, then do some more ChaCha stuff while Michael entertains Connor… I don’t know, it just seems kind of neverending right now.

It’s neverending in a good way, though. I’m making actual money, which is incredibly nice. We have a few looming worries about the start of August — catch-up from when I couldn’t find a job — but I think we’ll be able to handle them. Just that thought, We’ll probably be able to handle it, is wonderful. Also, earning your own money is (as everyone already knows) awesome. It’s so nice to think that once we’re past this August hump, I’ll be able to spend money without asking permission or feeling guilty. Not that Michael insisted upon permission or pushed for guilt, but it’s still different when the money is totally your own.

So, good things! Connor and I took a little break just now to go outside, and while we were out we ate our FIRST GARDEN TOMATO. Which I stupidly forgot to photograph, so you’re just going to have to take my word that it was a) beautiful, and b) delicious. Seriously delicious; I didn’t even salt it. (I know that doesn’t mean much on the Innerwebz, but if you’d ever met me you would know that there is NOTHING I don’t salt. Leaving salt off is the highest accolade I can possibly give.) I hadn’t had a home-grown tomato in years, and I’d almost forgotten how they taste when they’re still warm from the sun. It took me straight back to being a kid in my great-grandmother’s garden, and I hope nobody thinks I’m terribly mushy if I say that Connor and I wouldn’t have had today’s tomato without her. (Yep. Mushy.)

I might never stop drooling over this tomato. What else can I write about? Uhhh.. Oh! We also have five cucumber plants covered in baby cukes, and — ha, ha — fifty-something butternut squash plants. Yes! Fear me, for I am a MORON! We built a raised bed a while ago and I dumped my compost, some peat, and some soil into it. Before I got to the planting stage, the butternut squash seeds I’d composted months ago… uh, sprouted. Like, a lot. Apparently they were just waiting for me to feel safe, because I’d tried planting them and waited over a month with zero results (hence the compost-tossing). I suppose they’re zombie squash, to go with my zombie tomato.

(Speaking of the zombie tomato, hmm, it appears those pictures are out of date. I will, eventually, take more garden pictures, because duuuuudes. Y’all gotta see this shit.)

So that was my day. ChaCha, a little site work, kid, gorgeous summer weather, and the first perfect garden tomato of the year. Tomorrow, if my debit card has arrived, me and my fancy new not-empty bank account are paying some bills and maybe even doing something fun. Sometime this week I’m going to start teaching my friend Lyndie to type and email and all that wonderful jazz, so things might be even more hectic. I’d apologize, but I think this is going to be a (mid)summer to remember.

(First smartass who points out that I probably won’t remember it if I don’t write about it gets compost in the eyes. Fun for everyone!)

You were always on my mind.

July 15, 2008

Hello there! I’ve been neglecting you again, haven’t I? I have very good reasons, though, and I am prepared to tell you all about them. What, you don’t believe me? You don’t remember when I mentioned that I got hired as a Guide for ChaCha? You didn’t think what having a functional car would do for my social life? Bah. You kids, never thinking ahead.

Enough of that. I did get hired at ChaCha, and I started actual work on Sunday. Wayyyy back when my jobhunt was still something kind of funny, I said that I needed to make about $300 every month. Such a small amount, such an impossible dream! I’ve been keeping things running since then with a string of ill-timed, frantic freelance gigs, and I’ve often come up short. When I applied at ChaCha, I thought about it in terms of making five or ten bucks every now and then — cigarette money, or maybe gas money. Little things. I didn’t think of it as, you know, a solution.

In the past two days, I have made over $60. I’ve worked three or four hours each day. If I keep up this pace, I will be making about $900 every month; that will more than double our income. If I scale it back to a couple of hours a day (which I will, because who works FOUR WHOLE HOURS every day? Not me), I’ll still make around $600 — which will increase our income by 75%. I can do this from home, I can do this in my pajamas, and I can do this around more interesting things like finishing up my book, applying to really cool career-type jobs, and parenting my kid. If we need more than $600 or $900 or [insert amount here], I can work six hours instead of two — or eight hours instead of six — and presto! More money.

I mean, I know it’s not a great job. I know that $600-to-$900 every month is not anything like a decent salary. It’s okay, though. It’s more than I need, financially, and it’s exactly what I need as far as time and effort and interest go. I like the job. I get to do trivia hunts all day. I get to play know-it-all. It’s nice. Also, I keep getting Chuck Norris questions, which crack my shit up.

So I’ve been doing that, and I’ve been getting out of the house a little more. The new car means all sorts of exciting things, not least of which is that Connor and I can go to the park for lunch whenever we want. We’ve taken my nieces with us a couple of times, and we all have a blast. The parks around here give out free lunches for kids (to take the place of school lunches for low-income kids or kids with busy parents), so we can have a picnic whenever we want. Tomorrow I plan to do the grocery shopping on my own, whenever I’m ready to go, instead of waiting for Michael to get out of bed or off of work. It’s going to be fabulous, and I really cannot say enough great things about this car. (Seriously. I could go on. OMG THE CAR IS SO SEXY I CAN GO ANYWHERE I’LL NEVER BE TRAPPED AGAIN. And then I’ll swoon. It’ll be gr — why are you opening a new tab? Hey, come back!)

Today is earmarked for finishing up my last freelance gig, maybe sending out resumés for a few more, ChaChaing, and fooling around in the (suddenly, weirdly prolific) garden. I know I need to take pictures of… like, everything… and I know I need to write a non-job entry soon. Once I get past the hump this month (bills are due in a week; after that, I’ll have a two-week sigh of relief before rent is due) there will be much more to say. Here’s a preview: The garden is huge! There are tomatoes and cucumbers and squash seedlings everywhere! I can’t sleep and I spend all night trudging between couch, bed, and bathtub! I think I need a new piercing and/or tattoo, because I don’t feel like a trashy enough mother yet! My head exploded yesterday and giant purple aliens flew out, which really means that Michael and I had a ridiculous fight!

While I’m in the trenches, go check out Schizodigestive. I’m running Kip’s New Mexico series this week, and I’m hoping to have a post of my own up too. That’ll keep you busy!

It is what it is.

June 9, 2008

My boss at the bakery informed me on Saturday that the scheduling snafus and strange job shift had come about because “[she] doesn’t really have enough work for [me] to do, and [she] doesn’t really have a shift where [I’m] needed, and it’s not fair to either of us for [her] to try to fit me in.” Fair enough. The bakery situation apparently resolved itself, although I do wonder why she even hired me if she didn’t need another worker. I spent most of Saturday sending out my millionth round of resumés, but this time I actually got a result.

Yes! A result!

A California CPA emailed me within two hours of my sending my resumé — she needs someone to do writing for her website, maintain the content, and write and maintain communications with clients and website users. She was interested in me because of my bookkeeping background; she said she thinks that’ll make things easier and smoother for both of us. She called me the same day (still Saturday) and we did a nice phone interview… and she hired me. I’ve written up and sent a contract, and I’m just waiting for her to make what changes she sees fit and send it back for signing. The job pays quite well, the hours are more than reasonable, and it’s exactly the kind of job I have been looking for, lo these many months. The site owner sounded quite nice and very smart on the phone — I think she’ll be wonderful to work for. I’ll be working from home, finally using my degree, and finally making a decent paycheck.

Today I’m mocking up a template for her site, something I can send to her once the contract is finalized to get the design-and-content ball rolling. Today I am also very tired, as the extreme heat and Michael’s snoring seem to be feeding off each other in some bizarre “kill Sara dead” sleep-deprivation schema. I spent a little time outside this morning, topping off the soil in my tomato pots, picking sucker shoots off the plants, and generally putzing around in the hope that some sunshine would clear the cobwebs from my brain. My tomatoes are starting to flower, and once I’ve made some headway on this site template I’ll take pictures. I also made a(nother) basil cutting and stuck it in with my Early Girl tomatoes; so far I’ve managed to turn one basil plant into four, but there can never be enough basil in this house. Connor played in the sprinkler while I fiddled with my plants, and it was a generally charming morning, exhaustion notwithstanding.

I had planned for this update to be more substantive, but the new job beckons to me. It’s nice to be interested in my work again; it’s nice not to be treated like dirt from the get-go; it’s nice to have achieved a goal. I am tired, but productive. (Look, Ma, I’m a real person!) Later this week there will be a new post and maybe a header up at Schizodigestive, too. Stay tuned.


June 2, 2008

Oh, hello, Internet. It’s nice to see you again. You look great — have you been working out? Huh. Myself? Well, it’s been quite a time, I can tell you! (I would continue this meme, but I grow weary. Let’s move on.)

It really has been quite a time, if by “a time” you mean “a weekend.” I started work on Saturday and discovered that bakeries? They need workers at ass o’clock in the morning. This is something I understood with my brain, but did not apply to myself in a logical fashion. Hence my utter shock and dismay when my alarm clock went off half an hour before ass o’clock. Thankfully, I found it easy to adjust and went skipping about the house going “tra-la-la” decided I’d use that early morning time to do a bit of gardening as preparation for the bitter unpleasantness of WORK. EARLY, EARLY WORK. ON A WEEKEND.

Work itself was not at all unpleasant. It’s repetitive right now — I’m learning how to ice a cake with whipped cream, and all I do is ice a tiny cake, scrape off the icing, ice the tiny cake again, repeat ad infinitum. On Sunday I started giving myself rewards and motivators, things like, “If I get this cake iced correctly in under 20 minutes, I can play with the airbrusher for five.” That was all right, so I think I’ll probably make it through the training phase and into the “hey this job is kind of cool” phase. Also, this cannot be overestimated: They are paying me money. At the end of the pay period, I will go into work and be handed a check, which I can sign and exchange for honest-to-goodness cash. I can then exchange that cash for goods and/or services at will. This is a brilliant system, and I only wonder why nobody ever thought of it before.


So! Yes, work is quite all right. You know what is not so all right? MY FUCKING DEAD TOMATOES. It seems that two of my tomato plants wanted me to be a stay-at-home mommy to them and killed themselves in protest of my joining the workforce. Remember when I said up there that I used my early alarm as an excuse to get out in the garden? Well, what I did not mention was the horror I found when I went outside:

For comparison, let’s just see how those tomatoes looked the day before:

The tomatoes on the right are the very same tomatoes in the first picture. Those pictures were taken less than 16 hours apart. I have no idea what happened. It’s not bacterial wilt, it’s not underwatering, it’s not overwatering, it’s not lack of sunshine or delicious fertilizer. Since then, my Early Girl tomatoes have also given up the ghost. I’ve no idea what in the holy hell is wrong with these plants, but I am bitterly disappointed. The big tomatoes are, thankfully, starting to bounce back, but about 75% of the plant just died. It’s like starting over again with seedlings. I am displeased.

The good news is that my amazing psychic powers led me to visit the garden center early on Friday morning. I only intended to pick up a cherry tomato plant, but instead I walked out with these:

They are wonderful and healthy and I’ve already informed them that suicide is not an option. Here’s hoping that they listened.

Exciting turns of events!

May 28, 2008

1) I have a job. I’m going to be working in a bakery, making and decorating cakes. I am kind of thrilled about this because I’ve always wanted to learn how to decorate pastries, but I am also already catastrophizing: Only weekends? What if it’s only four hours a day, which is only eight hours a week, which is not enough hours? And what if I have to spend a lot of time in the walk-in refrigerated room and my hands shriek aloud in pain, burst into flames, and send me home in agony akin to that of rolling in shredded fiberglass? And! What if the grey industrial atmosphere causes a black fog of despair and ennui to descend upon my hamster brain after a couple of weeks, leading to self-loathing and general malaise? OH WHAT WILL I DO? On the other hand, my boss seems pretty cool and the cake-making and cake-painting will be pretty awesome; I will never have to worry about getting up at six on a weekday; I’ll be working in the same store as my husband. So, you know. It’s all right.

2) Garden! Garden, garden. This week I pinched a whole bunch of sucker shoots off of my tomatoes, removed blossoms from the plants as I do not want my little babies to be all growed up just yet (translation: I want the plants to get bigger before they start spewing resources into fruit), watered them lovingly with water in which I had boiled eggs, and sprayed them down with a 50/50 mix of milk and water to prevent fungus. This whole organic gardening thing is kind of neat. My compost bin is chugging right along after the Mysterious Incident of the Chicken in the Mix (I blame Michael), which caused a very bad smell for about two weeks. I am probably planting a cherry or grape tomato tomorrow because there are just never enough tomatoes for me. I have harvested a ton of basil and I added sourdough and mozzarella to our shopping list this afternoon so that I can make my favorite sandwich. Also, we are finally starting to have grass.

3) Connor is going out of town this weekend to visit family in Texas, and I am not going. We are going to be having a sit-down talk with Michael’s parents on Monday about asking our permission before making big plans for our kid, but we couldn’t say no to this because Michael’s grandmother is very ill and very much in love with Connor and desperate to see him. I am not looking forward to this weekend or the ensuing talk, but this is not the catastrophe it would have been a year ago. Hooray for improved in-law relations! I will be starting work this weekend, so hopefully that will distract me from the fact that MY BEBE. HE IS NOT HERE. It’s too bad I still don’t have an ID, because I would totally hit up the new sports bar in the evenings and watch some baseball.

4) I might also work at Wal-Mart and/or in a deli — I’ve got an offer from the deli (which is, from all accounts, a terrible place to work) and am waiting for a callback from Wal-Mart. Things might actually be busy around here in a week or two. What’s that sensation? R-o-l-a-i-d-s Relief.

More about the freaking garden. And Mother’s Day, I guess.

May 12, 2008

I didn’t post this weekend because I was busy being a mother. That has always seemed like the point of Mother’s Day, to me — not presents and singed toast in bed, but spending the whole day having fun with my kid. On Mother’s Day, Michael very kindly takes over my daily hassles so that I can revel in playing with Connor, and it’s great.

Which is not to say that I didn’t get gifts, because I did. Michael got me five gorgeous new plants (pictures forthcoming; I have no idea what any of them are), a shiny green balloon, and the gardening tool set I’ve been drooling over. Of course, this meant that Connor and I spent most of the day outside, watering things and stroking things and setting up my nice new compost bin. A very nice friend of mine loaned me a garden weasel and some weedkiller, so we did a little maintenance work in unplanted areas, too. The wildflowers that I’d thought ruined by last week’s storm sprouted up, all tiny and tender and green, so we did a happy dance or three.

There was a darker aspect to the day, though: four of my tomato plants officially gave up the ghost. Two of them I had sort of expected to die, as four plants in one large pot is really too many. The other two I am chalking up to inferior soil; they’re the plants I potted in dollar-store soil because I’d already spent $55 on good soil and kept running out. (I have now typed the word “soil” too many times. Soil. Soil. SOIL!) Alas. Plans are in the works for this weekend — I’m picking up a cherry tomato plant on Wednesday, hardening it off on Thursday and Friday, then planting it (with better soil) in the dead plants’ pot on Saturday. We’ll see how it goes. I am left with five tomato plants right now, which isn’t bad on its face. Somehow, this garden will soldier onward. Well, except for the grass, which was ruined by that storm. I am not looking forward to replanting it, either.

Connor has decided that he wants to be a “garden guy” when he gets bigger. I, of course, think that this is a swell idea. He loves being out in the yard (although largely because he knows if I am gardening I will not be nagging him about staying out of the dirt or keeping his hands off the splintery ramp), and he seems pretty attached to the plants. He makes enormous eyes at me when I tell him that this summer there will be food out there. He also makes enormous eyes at me when I pinch off a leaf of basil or peppermint for him to nibble. I love gardening with him, getting out in the sun and making things grow that will later make him grow. (I am not meaning to get all Lion King circle-of-life on you here, but it is a nice feeling.) At some point, I am going to take him to a greenhouse and let him pick out a plant to grow himself. He’s already “in charge” of the compost bin, and he takes his turning/watering/mixing duties very seriously.

Ahhh, sweet slave labor. That’s what Mother’s Day is all about.