It’s been a heck of a while

Long time no post. Over a month, I think, since I’ve shared anything but book-focused or fluffy photo posts. I’m not even going to try to catch up on all The Other Things. Spring was a season of mostly lowlights with some big highs that were delightful but also made the dark parts feel darker. It’s a huge effort to share now, but I need to crawl out of my protective shell and  stretch my word muscles.

Here be the major doings.

Firstly, my much-loved and amazing mother-in-law died in February. Not a surprise, she was 95 and suffered a bad injury leading to a sharp decline before Christmas, but it was a hard blow all the same. She was a powerful, complicated, wonderful woman who told the worst best jokes and was a shining example of how good a human being can be.

Logistics put the memorial in April. Spouseman comes from a large family. Gathering together the three  children’s households + eight grandchild households, including assorted lifemates, 2 great-grand-children & other loved ones from all the round earth’s imagined corners = some heroic scheduling.

My sister-in-law is a goddess. That is all.  While still steeped in the first raw pain of grief, she organized a huge multi-family celebration of poignant joy with grace and strength.

It was a hard trip for Spouseman and me, but also a good one  filled with bright moments of laughter & hours of shared stories, with interludes of desolation and tears.

Secondly, a week after returning, late in the month, our Scootercat went overnight from being a dear, cranky cat with a failing digestive tract & horrible arthritis who  still enjoyed sunny naps, treats, and petting to a pain-wracked, incontinent old kitty who couldn’t walk more than a few steps and  had no more happy waking moments.

He was our very good boy, the bestest of the best, but he was ready to go. With help from friends w we found our way to a very good emergency vet who got us in after hours the day we realized it was past time to say good-bye. I couldn’t rest the next day until I cleaned the house from top to bottom, and while I did that and randomly leaked tears, I also struggled with guilt over being relieved that I wouldn’t have to clean up after random puddles & poops any more. Grief is weird.

Weeks later, I still glance at Scooter’s usual sit-spots whenever I pass them and feel that aching hole inside because there’s no one there.  All of his good, favorite beds and toys that a new kitty might like are set aside to await the day we’re ready to embrace another fuzzball or two. Or three.  It’s going to be a while before I’m ready. And even longer for Spouseman, I think.

Thirdly, on the professional front, I did Indy PopCon with Bard’s Tower, which was an interesting and entertaining con that took place on Pride Weekend, wherein the number of people in all kinds of cosplay boosted my hope for the future of humanity.  On the same weekend, good friends in Chicago took my books & bling to Printers Row LitFest, whereupon I learned people like book-bling even if they haven’t read the books. (Go, Mercury Battalion!) So…that was a grand good thing.

Same week, I found out a good and wonderful, talented friend was in the hospital, and another is facing the return of a deadly cancer. SO.  THERE’S THAT. Anger and helplessness just simmering away in the daily mix.

And lastly, we expect to be moving in a couple of months. I’ll post more about that shocking development when it’s all finalized.  The whole thing came together super-fast, but it should be perfect and delightful…once it’s a done deal. I have a deep, abiding fear of jinxing the whole thing by getting too talkative about it until All The Papers are signed.

It’s long overdue. It’s a thrill to consider having enough living space for a guest bed and a dining table and a cushy bean bag chair AND a Spouseman’s office plus mine. It’s also going to be All New and Unknown, and thus I am scared 24/7 right now.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I do NOT uproot well or enjoy environmental change. Yes, I do change my surroundings regularly, (okay, obsessively) but it’s a defensive strategy–if I don’t push that particular limit hard and often, I will calcify, emotionally, into a fragile barnacle who would shatter if pushed to move or change at all.

And I don’t want that. So I seek change stress, and I’m all in on this move. All the same, getting used to a new space is going to be uncomfortable, stressful, and terrifying even though it’s chosen and wanted.  There’s no getting around it. Gotta just push through.

So. That’s what’s happening in my world. We’re all caught up.

A lot of media has been consumed since the last Other Things post, but it was mostly brainless visual re-watches and comfort re-reading to offset the heavier topics trending in reality. I’ve also struggled against a blast of creative apathy that has yet to abate.

Next up in my life, preparing for Gen Con, plus a whole lot of panic over ohmygerdIhavetofinishthesefershlugginerrevisions for Sharp Edge of Yesterday, and also SOMEHOW finishing the last 25% of my cozy ghost mystery.

But that’s all for now.

 

 

 

 

Today in Big Projects

First, the story, because the story always comes first. Skip on down to the pictures if you just want to see the new pretties.

Once upon a time I had a perennial bed on the sunny south side of our old, decrepit detached garage.  Even after yearly soil amendments and assorted remediation work, the soil was so dense you could form it into pot shapes and dry it into rock-hard lumps. GOod thing native plantss are resilient and laughed at the soil’s attempts to strangle them in hot, dry, solid clay each July.

Then we got a new garage, which mean pulling and transplanting all the vegetation so new concrete could be poured and workers could move freely around the site etc.

I put in new borders  to raise the beds,  did LOTS more soil amendment, AND decided to experiment with veggie gardening  in the new, fresh beds. (TL;DR summary of that side quest: growing veggies fun, and now I know which plants are easy for me and which…aren’t. Hot peppers, plum tomatoes, pickling cucumbers & kohlrabi are my garden friends.)

More years, more soil amendment,, less need for vegetable garden space, and the beds started turning into perennial beds again. The border edgings get old and battered and warped, and the design was never a great to begin with. In short, they weren’t doing the job, they were ugly to boot, and nothing was where it needed to be.

We got new a faux lumber raised-bed system last year but cancer recovery has been a slow, unsteady process for Spouseman, and my body is intolerant of physical labor now that the lifetime warranty on my joints has expired.  We never had enough endurance and energy at the same time to get the new kits set up, so they languished in the garage.

<cue dramatic music>

Until today!

Today we got in a good solid 2+ hours in the yard together, and the new raised-bed borders are in. They’re made by a company called Vita, (we got our kits at Costco, but they sell online through a website, and for the price, they are amazing.)  I love the simple design and the incredible no-tools ease of putting them together.

ANYway. There’s still work to be done, but we stopped before we fell over from exhaustion and made a victory snack picnic to celebrate our accomplishments. Enjoy the photo journey (click to enlarge any given pic)

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And the next project: tidying up the messy patio borders & retiring the too-big, too-heavy planters in favor of more raised beds. Here’s the before shot:IMG_5848

We’ll fit it in somewhere between conventions & butterfly garden shifts & travel and so forth. Summer. It’s all about the growing & the making. Watch this space for updates.

Until later!

 

Some personal word definitions. Because that’s all I have today.

After reading a dialogue-heavy book over breakfast (as one does) I pondered how much of every conversations consists of fillers, reflective phrases and “message received” acknowledgements, and that led to more pondering on perpetual nature of communication issues like:

“Are you even listening?”
“Yes, I heard you.”
“Then why are you doing it all wrong?/ “Then why don’t you understand?”

Oh, and by fillers, etc, I mean things like,

“Uh-huh. I hear that.”
“Go ahead, I’m listening.”
“Okay, I think I got it. Is this what you meant?”
“Got it. I can do that.”

All this pondering led nowhere useful of course, but it did make me realize that I look at the word pairs hear/listen, understand/comprehend as conversational dance steps. Think foxtrot. Or tango.

  1. Hear: physically register vocal input.
  2. Listen: attempt to comprehend that input.
  3. Understand: receive & recognize the meaning of the input.
  4. Comprehend: input processed and absorbed, ready to put into action

A good conversation can go through that progression many times. (Pretend the words are inside pictures of feet with arrows, maybe? I dunno. I’m not feeling graphicky today.)

I think most people learn that hearing is not listening, but maybe it’s equally important to grasp that not all listening is successful listening.

I’ve seen a lot of discussions dissolve into frustration and hostility when one participant mistakes passive hearing for listening but I’ve seen many more crash and burn when someone’s certain they’ve comprehended a new idea merely because they listened to someone talk about it.

That’s all.  Just thoughts for now. Until later!

Oh, PS/PSA for all any worriers in my circle, no this has NOT been inspired by any real conversation I’ve had with anyone. Srsly.  You’re awesomes, alla youses.

Okay, I also have this picture of a flower from a couple of days ago. View on Instagram http://bit.ly/2HNd4Vk