Little People

As I prepare for the new, improved sanitized new year at The Young Human Factory, the little ones are squeezing in all the fun they can manage before this extraordinarily long summer vacation ends.

I heard a child’s yell of outrage in the morning. A girl of four had come up my driveway, dumped her bike on the lawn, and was walking back to mom. Seems she JUST got the training wheels off and was having trouble steering.

I went out and chatted with her mom. I tried VERY hard not to laugh at the oh-so-serious little girl. She had a doll, and her daddy mounted a doll carrier to her bike so she can take Dolly for rides. Dolly will keep her company when her sibling enters full-day school.

The Middle School Mafia, once limited to bikes, electric scooters, and the occasional dirt bike, has acquired a golf cart. It isn’t clear who commandeered it from grandpa, but they were running the road with five kids on it. Next week, their little band is breaking up. Some of them will be attending school; others are taking the online option.*

For my part, I am prepping for the weirdness to follow an abbreviated school year and continued restrictions. And I remind myself: I have to keep an upbeat attitude!

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*NOTE: Families have two weeks to decide if their child is enrolling in an online class or attending in-person classes. Frankly, I hope a good number do the former, since the rosters are ungainly: 29 to 35 students cannot social distance.

Hunter’s Salad

Someone asked me about go-to dishes and when I mentioned Hunter’s Salad, wanted to know more. It’s the local name, but I suppose it exists in similar forms elsewhere.  I originally bought it from local delis, then decided to try my hand at it.

Here it is, with no measurements because I eyeball everything:

It uses a wild rice (or riced veggies) base. Add green onion (aka scallion);  chopped walnuts or similar nut;  celery; and dried cranberries,  cherries, or blueberries (lots of choices in Michigan).

Top with a balsamic vinaigrette. I used Newman’s Own walnut cranberry until it was discontinued. Now I make my own with a dash of Montmorency tart cherry juice and walnut oil.

 

Putting the Middle-Man Back In

Please forgive the delay between posts. I was in a lovely place with spotty WiFi and, at the best times, WordPress had endless loading patterns.

This past week, I returned to brick-and-mortar stores. Having items delivered to my doorstep wasn’t saving money nor helping my community. Plus, it’s difficult to judge something like color and fit online (although fitting rooms are still closed).

It was a rather strange experience to have no Canadian visitors, to avoid other people like the literal plague, and to smile despite a mask (“invisible” smiles are high on my list of Things I Hate About Covid-19). The current coin shortage has forced me to use a credit card, putting a new wrinkle in budgeting. But there was the clearance rack (replacing workout clothes was $4.35 cheaper than anticipated) and the book I wanted was in a logical spot despite the rearranged, distancing-pattern shelves.

As for The Young Human Factory, we’re waiting to hear from the governor about what stage we’ll be in for the reopening. We are using a “middle man” regardless: lessons via live chats and online assignments). Ugh.

Bluegill Nests

Visiting my hometown for Independence Day but unable to visit my friends, I spent some time doing the daily activities of my childhood. One of my favorites was checking the number of fish spawning in the shallows where I used to splash and play with my brothers.

It’s been many years since the swimming area was so full of nests. Sharp-eyed readers may notice empty shells of the invasive apple snail.  Some catastrophic event seems to have killed them, which might be a reason for the fish’s return.

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Saturday Night Check-in

Writing: Meh. I spent a lot of time sorting files, looking for handwritten notes on the next chapter. I have  a LOOOOTTTTT of notes. As a result, only about 1500 original words this week.

Work: Two weeks after the contractual end of the year, The Factory finally closed for two months. I’ll be heading back early. The second week of August is a training session in, ironically, Kagan Cooperative Learning.  So far, the CDC guidelines for reopening schools don’t allow students to be facing each other and advises that social distancing be maintained in the classroom.

Garden: A single radish plant has supplied me with three harvests of seedpods. The first squash blossoms have appeared – on the plants grown from the last-minute seeds carelessly tossed into a sinkhole, naturally. A dearth of landscape fabric forced me to use cardboard boxes as weed-block around the shed, which looks terrible but can’t be helped.

La Casa de Tontería: Inside, the house looks like a cyclone hit. I returned the last box of work material to The Factory, except for two boxes of reading materials I purchased to supplement a class. This weekend, I’m tidying and deep-cleaning – a real chore.

Mindful Spending: I was privately messaged about this, but a blog-answer is best. I stopped posting monthly updates because the Shutdown changed the cost and availability of everything. Not to mention a new category of expenses appeared: working-from-home. I begin July anew.

 

 

Slooooowwwww writing

The weirdest thing happened this week. Normally, I start each writing session by rereading the previous day’s work, which primes the pump and gets me ready to write for three hours.

This week, the number of words slowed to a trickle. I still felt like I was writing at my normal pace, but then the bedtime reminder sounded and… 300 words after three hours. Also, I realized I broke a rule of my world and I have to figure how to make things right.

I am going to write in the morning this week and see if it helps.

 

 

It’s the Thought that Counts

People who know me, know I can’t stand raw language.* It’s not a Midwestern quirk. Growing up, vulgarities and raised voices indicated violence was coming. Even now, a certain word said in a certain tone of voice curls my fists and makes me brace for a fight. And in my hometown, it was generally known that the more a person sprinkled foul words, the faster he lost an argument.**

In a professional setting, whether a nail salon or a dollar store, the norm is to be polite.

Therefore, I was surprised this week. I had taken my car in (leaky stemvalve) and was sitting alone in the waiting room. A male voice started lighting the air on fire with f-bombs. I could tell that the Neanderthal was on the phone because it was a one-sided conversation. I guessed it was a customer talking in the customer service area, on the other side of the billing/receptionist area.

Evidently, a parts guy somewhere in the US had dropped the ball and a customer’s work vehicle was stuck in the shop. The customer was losing money every day it was out of commission. Very, very heated.

After my own business was done, a service guy came to me and apologized for his foul language. I was rather shocked, but he explained that he couldn’t stand seeing his customer, already suffering because of the shutdown, unable to get his business running.

I accepted his apology and said I understood.

Then he said if I ever had a problem with my car and some f*** dragged his feet, he’d do the same thing for me.

Oh, dear.


*And as a certain English immigrant to Canada knows, that includes flipping the middle finger at me. I. Will. Break. Your. Finger. Off. And. Mail. It. To. Your. Mother.

**In college, I witnessed my upperclass roomie trying to “sound more authentic” (authentic what? moron?) by practicing vulgarity. I pointed out that, since she hesitated each time she said the f-word, it undermined her credibility. Ha ha.

 

Radishes in bloom

Yes, I’m well-aware that before going to seed, garden plants bloom. I battle the rhubarb every year, breaking off five to eight fist-sized blossoms before they can open. And the chives, like other alliums, boast spheres that attract bees.

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Rhubarb flower

But I had no idea that red radishes have pretty flowers. Looky! Two of the salvaged salad leftovers are going to seed. When I told a real-life gardener, she said the flowers were edible and the seedpods before they get “woody.” But I’m going to enjoy them as they are.

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Project Complete: Reindeer Glasses-Holder

This project grew from disparate things:

  1. Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
  2. A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
  3. An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
  4. Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses

     

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    Christmas decoration (after removing plastic wreath from neck).

Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture. 

It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I  laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen,  I played around with the paint pens.

It took me roughly four weeks to finish. 

Voila! A deer for all seasons.