…ok, that was a very pretty sunrise. But still.

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Mornin’ all.

I wanted to sleep in a bit today. I wanted it so bad I could almost taste the cotton candy atmosphere of Dreamland. Apparently my eyes didn’t get the memo because they popped open and insisted on staying that way. Instead of having tea on a paddle boat filled with circus side show stars (legit recurring dream of mine…and yes, it IS as epic as it sounds. We all have top hats.) I’m wide awake on dry land with zero side show friends, drinking what may just go down as the Worst Pot of Coffee of 2016 at 4:30 a.m.

Eyeballs… WTF? Why you gotta ruin shit all the time?

I guess it’s not their fault. The brain controls them, after all, and right now my brain is a’whirlin’ and a’zippin’ and a’poppin’ over shit I can’t change. Don’t you just hate that? Isn’t that the worst?

I think the next step in human evolution should be an instinctual awareness that there are things outside the scope of our own control that the brain will automatically classify as “not worth dwelling on”.

You know, I think I might be onto something here. Hey, scientist friends…how do I get the ball rolling on this “evolution” thing? Do I need to start an online petition or something? I need a grant, don’t I? Some kind of funding. I bet I need a research team.

Ugh. This seems like it might be more complicated than I thought. Damn you Pokemon for making evolution look so easy.

(…and while we’re on the subject, let me add a spare 2 cents I’ve got lying around: For the record, I’m all for Pokemon Go, though I don’t play myself and never will. I’m a gamer, sure, but I’ve never been able to get into Pokemon. However, any game that gets people up and out and makes them WANT to move and interact with other humans is BRILLIANT. Yeah, idiots are still being idiots. Yeah, some people are taking advantage of those idiots. And the dudes who fell down the bluff and got hurt probably really need to reassess their priorities in life. But the game is hands down the most revolutionary thing that’s come to the gaming world in a long, long time. Kudos to the brilliant bastards at Nintendo. I tip the top hat I wish I had in real life.)

Boy, is the news messed up these days or what? Every day I open my browser and it just seems so doomy and gloomy. I wanted to do some headlines. Folks, there aren’t enough funny ones to even attempt a Roundup. It’s all dead kids and murdered cops and suicide bombs and wild fires and droughts and locusts and mega volcanoes and asteroid crashes that wiped out half of humanity…

…well, maybe not the last couple. You get what I’m saying, though. It’s getting overwhelming, isn’t it?

And then we’ve got November looming. Say it with me: UGH.

Did you hear that Melania Trump just straight up plagiarized Michelle Obama?

Okay, okay. To be fair, I should say Melania Trump’s speech writers plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech writers.

“Uh, Bethie? Maybe we shouldn’t go after Melania. She’s just the wife.”

Welp, the thing is, I’ve spent the last 7 years listening to racist bullshit about Michelle Obama. Hillary was front and center in the press for all of Bill’s drama. Bill is now fair game. Shit, remember how the press (and, admittedly, myself) used to wonder if the hamster just stopped running on the wheel behind Laura Bush’s dead, vapid eyes? Spouses have always been fair game when they’re put on display by the candidates.

Besides, this isn’t really about Melania. The story is really about another stupid campaign slip up from the sock puppet we call a Republican candidate. Melania didn’t write the speech. She just read what Dumbo’s staff gave her to read. If you haven’t heard the speech she gave to the RNC, take a listen. Then listen to a speech Michelle Obama gave to the DNC in 2008. It’s so close that if I were the speech writer, I’d sue.

…er, I’d sue in my mind, anyway. In real life, I highly doubt I’d want anyone to know that I wrote speeches for any political figure. Lawsuits are public record. Couldn’t risk the shame being a political speech writer would bring to my family. I’d go onto the internet and bitch about it anonymously like a mofo, though.

What a mess, folks. We’ve got Chump vs. Godzillary. I’m not happy with either candidate. They’re both slick as shit. Neither is going to be able to keep a single campaign promise because they are both spending their time alienating the people they’re going to have to work with for the next four years just to scramble for one more vote. Both have terrible histories when it comes to critical decision making. And neither one of them can seem to get their head out of their own ass long enough to do anyone a damn bit of good.

It’s bleak, my friends.

So we look to the rest of the world. We take ourselves out of our own backyard and search for a bit of positivity elsewhere. And promptly end up back where we started. It’s no better anywhere else right now. Riots and killings and coups and propaganda and… *sigh*

I know we need to be global and look at the big picture and it’s our responsibility to know what’s going on yada yada. But, sometimes wouldn’t it be great not to? Maybe from time to time what we really need to ask ourselves as a society is this: Would ANY of this matter if you were standing on Europa?

I mean it. Imagine you’re standing on the frosty tundras of Europa. You spent over five years traveling 390 million miles, eating protein concentrate and cleaning the air filters constantly and checking and rechecking and triple checking every damn system log five billion times a fricken day until you just about go mad…before finally, FINALLY descend the ladder to feel the crunch of Europa’s snow reverberate through the sole of your boot and travel up your body in the delicious thrill of discovery.

Does any of the human drama matter to you right then?

Not one goddamn bit.

We’re a blip. A dot. A tiny little speck. There isn’t one single thing humans can do right now that would have an impact on even our own solar system, never mind the galaxy or the universe. If we blew our planet to smithereens, Andromedans would not even know. It would not impact their lives in any way.

Maybe that shouldn’t be comforting, but somehow it is. No matter how terrible humanity gets, we’re the only ones that are going to suffer because of it. So far we haven’t managed to infect the Universe at large.

I like that.

…and, I don’t. All of humanity’s problems right now are caused by humans. We are doing it to ourselves. There isn’t a cosmic plot afoot, no nefarious plan to destroy or disrupt or disband the human race. This isn’t happening TO us, it’s happening BECAUSE of us. And it’s getting worse because we love the gossip. We love the drama. We love to eat up the media that adds fuel to the fire. We WANT to be charged up and angry. We are twitchy to grab up a pitchfork and torch and storm the castle. We’re behaving very badly right now because, at heart, the human race is bored and itchy.

And isn’t that a wicked pisser?

I don’t want to leave you with the tang of doom and gloom clinging to your taste buds. My god, it’s bad enough that you had to smell the fumes off this witch’s brew I call coffee! Let’s get a bit of hopeful perspective instead.

In the time it took me to bitch and moan about the state of the world, nearly 1,000 babies were born across the planet. That’s 1,000 new lives. 1,000 new chances. 1,000 fresh hopes. They don’t want to fight. They don’t hate anything. They just want to live and be loved, and love in return. They haven’t yet been ruined by bitter people who are desperate to blame someone else for their position in life. They don’t know or care about ISIS or presidential candidates or border wars or drug smuggling or racism or murderers…

Every day, humanity has thousands of fresh starts. Can any other known planet say the same?

Maybe it’ll take one of us standing on the bleak and barren ice fields of Europa, seeing the vastness of nothing that is the rest of our solar system to understand what that really means.

We’re just a speck, that’s true. But, we’re a rare and exceptional speck. And I think that’s pretty damn cool.

Thus concludes a Musing for Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Work today, where I get to make peoples’ dream cakes a reality. …actually, I think I’m just making Boston Cream Pies today, but those are good, too.

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The Eye of Bessie sees all…

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Mornin’ all.

Crazy week here. Seems like we’re in the middle of a run of them. I’m hoping things will slow down soon. I hate not knowing one day to the next where things are heading!

“Don’t tell me you’re having a problem going with the flow. I thought you were a hippie, Bethie?”

I am. I’m just not that good at it.

One upside is the hectic, electric vibe. While it sucks for sitting down and concentrating on writing, it’s fantastic for other projects. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve bastardized a Renoir print, updated an Italian classic, and am currently working on a third lamp. Pretty soon I’ll have enough to stop selling on ebay and Craigslist and actually give Etsy a try.

“*gasp of horror*”

I KNOW, okay? I already KNOW I’m a sellout. I don’t need you telling me that. I get it.

I want money from my crafts. I AM a sellout.

Look, I write when I need to get things out, when I want to create worlds, when I have a group of characters that just want to *be*. I make stuff out of my junk to give me $$$. That’s the difference between one type of creating and another. I truly enjoy making stuff out of my junk pile. But it’s not the same as crafting an entire universe with words.

My point is that I can sell my bastard crafts with impunity and without guilt. IF I can find the right market.

Locally, I’m not so sure I’d have an audience. I think I may have mentioned once or seventeen dozen times that I live in a small NH town. The local craft fairs largely focus on hand spun fibers, woven scarves, plaques with “home is where the heart is” inked over smiling heads of a rudimentarily rendered bovine. Painted saw blades are popular, but not quite as in demand as knitted toilet paper covers. That makes sense, since in these parts, toilet paper spoils quickly if not properly stored.

When I was a kid, a popular item at craft fairs was a disco ball…type…thing…made of Christmas bulbs and garland. ALL the rage at the annual Christmas Bazaar in the St. Stanislaus church basement (which, of course, was known in OUR household as the Christmas Bizarre. What? Not all jokes have to ooze originality.).

Also hot with the choir member crew were those creepy half-Barbie doll half-crocheted southern belle skirt abominations. You know the ones. Some sick old grandma chops a dollar store Barbie in half and glues it to this crocheted pillow that looks like a large hoop skirt. They then tat little doilies to drape over the whole deal in an attempt to make it look fancy enough for the casual observer to ignore the sadism.

You didn’t fool me, Grandma. And while I was too terrified to ask 33 years ago, I’m asking now.

WHY DO YOU CUT OFF THE LEGS???!!!

It seems like such a needlessly violent step. Couldn’t you just crochet a skirt!?

I can just see some cackly old granny, popping off the Barbie’s legs, muttering about how great her own gams used to be with a scratchy record player skipping its way through “The Jitterbug” in the background of her single bulb-lit, sepia-toned room…

Freaky.

…oh. Oh gawd I just thought of something. What if they use the legs for something else!?

*shudder*

Though the times have changed, the crafts of the area largely have not. If the showing at the craft area of the Pickle Fest was any indication (and I see no reason why it shouldn’t have been) then the local population still has an affinity for the classics. One lady was trying hard to break the mold and sell clay magnets, but the villagers drove her out with pitchforks, as well they should. Everyone knows magnets are witchcraft and have no business in a bazaar. OUT YE VILE TEMPTRESS! We put OUR important pictures and turkey-hand drawings on the fridge with Scotch tape!

Mile-high hair bows were aflutter in the afternoon breeze at one stall. Those aren’t new. They were popular in my elementary school when I was a kid. Someone had the brilliant idea to tie colorful shoelaces together and stick them on clips to make ugly, loopy hair bows. The trend died down when people realized they looked like idiots, but this year, the bows were back with a vengeance. I’m not sure if the vendor was trying to recapture her glory days, or if the bows are actually making a comeback. Several people were walking around in acid washed jeans, so who knows? The one thing I will say is that at 7 friggin’ dollars a bow, that lady was DREAMING.

Honey, no one’s going to pay $7 to put shoelaces in their hair, even if they are day-glo pink.

And if they do, I don’t really think that’s my demographic.

Now, I really might be selling my town short. There may be people ravenous for a change in the craft scene. I don’t have the money to pay for a booth to risk it. If I had hand painted pig figurines or lace-trimmed toilet seat covers, I’d go for it. That shit sells itself. But my stuff?

Besides, if I wanted to really break into the scene at a fair larger than a church basement bazaar, I’d have to go up against the old guards.

I love crafts. I love the crafting community…in general. But anyone, ANYONE who lives in a crafting area knows that it’s run by a core group of people. Around here, most of the big craft shows are juried. This means that before you’re allowed to buy booth space, you have to submit samples of your products for a group of other crafters to judge. They get to determine whether or not your crafts and art are good enough for the show. And, unfortunately, the same group tends to judge the majority of fairs in the area. Basically, if you piss one off, you’re never, ever getting a booth.

Again, a booth that you would pay for.

It’s a weird system that creates a lot of questions. Why does there need to be a jury if you’re paying for vending space? Isn’t that level of subjectivity pretty contradictory to the basic tenets of the crafting world? Why does a group of old hags (and usually one grandpa…he’s the saw painter) get to decide what’s art? Who elects these folks? Who gives them such power?

It’s a head scratcher, that’s for sure. It’s been rumored that there are Illuminati dealings, but take that with a grain of salt. Every clandestine group is rumored to be affiliated with the Illuminati these days. I’m, personally, more apt to believe there’s a secret crafting synod run by the dairy conglomerations of Vermont.

“Uh, Bethie? You okay over there?”

Think about it. Why else would there be cows on EVERYTHING? I’ve seen members give a milking motion handshake on the sly when they didn’t think folks were watching. They have a secret sign language which matches the cud chewing patterns of common Holsteins. And if you look closely enough, every member has the Eye of Bessie tattooed on their neck, just below the hairline, almost invisible unless you know what you’re looking for.

How can I possibly break into such an organization? Especially since I’m on record as saying that I prefer Wisconsin cheese?

“Oh, Bethie… *shakes head*…”

It was a great plate of nachos. I was young and naive, and surrounded by peers all hyped up on football. I had no notion of the life-long ramifications. Ah, the folly of youth. You can see, though, why my hands are tied as far as local sales go.

Etsy has their own clandestine operation going, though I’m almost positive that one IS run by the Illuminati. The Illuminati like odd stuff, though. And they don’t care a whit which cheese I prefer. It’s my best shot at a broader audience that’s not stuck under the oppressive hoof of the Ruminati.

I’ve been playing around with LED lights. Boy are they neat. We’ve refitted all our house lamps with them, and three years later not a single one has burned out and it really did drop our monthly electric bill by a significant amount. I had never tried wiring my own up before this week, though, like taking bulbs and stringing them together how I want to make my own light display.

Incandescent bulbs are easy. Connect them together with a positive wire, add a negative at the end of the string, stick it on a plug, et voila…light. LEDs use so little power, though, that they need to have “x” amount of resistors added to the lineup, depending on how many bulbs you have. If you just wired it straight to a plug, they would burn out. There’s a learning curve, and it’s a bit more work, but the benefits of the LEDs in crafting terms are worth it. Not only do they take very little energy to run (you can plug into one outlet and run 43 50-bulb strings in tandem! OFF ONE PLUG!!!), but they never get hot.
THEY NEVER GET HOT!!

This means you don’t need ventilation, you don’t have to stop and consider the fact that the entire metal sculpture is going to become a very interesting branding iron if you aren’t careful, you don’t need to put wattage warnings on them, and you can wire the bulbs near flammable glues, laces, paper, etc. and not have to worry. Little LED bulbs themselves are plastic, so breakage isn’t an issue, and the bulbs last a whole lot longer than incandescents or fluorescents. Not to mention the fact that they are so very bright that you can use about half as many to get the effect you want.

“Bethie, are you working for an LED light bulb company?”

No, but if they wanna kick me a little something for gushing, I wouldn’t be opposed. We’ve already established that I’m a sellout.

The lamps I’ve made this week all have LEDs. The discount store downtown sells LED Christmas strings dirt cheap and I keep buying them. I wonder what the owner thinks I’m doing with them all? Eh, so long as I’m not chopping Barbies in half, it’s all good. I keep hoping that my interest in his stock of them doesn’t drive the price up. It has to, though, wouldn’t you think? He’s selling them many dollars cheaper than anyone else in the area. Eventually he’ll wake up and realize he could be making so much more money off me. I best pick up some more today, just to be safe.

It’s not hoarding if I’m going to use them, right?

“Uh, I don’t think that’s how it works…”

Oh! I forgot to mention! I have quince.

STOLEN quince.

AND my hands are completely and utterly clean in the whole deal. Er, except for the fact that I knowingly received stolen goods, I guess. I had cohorts, and they stole quince on my behalf. I’ve got a whole box of them in my kitchen. I was going to cook them up this weekend, but they smell so damn good. They give off this fragrance that’s like flowers and pears. Smells a whole lot better than solder and flux, let me tell you.

I suppose I should find time today to cook them. The good thing about quince is that they’ll last a really long time. The bad thing is that you can’t tell they’re going until they’re already gone. They’re so hard and the only time they turn soft is when their insides have already rotted.

So that’s what’s going on in the House of Bethie. Crazy schedule, madcap crafting antics, laundry, and processing my pirated quince. Not a lot, and yet so much.

Thus concludes a rambly Musing for Tuesday, October 6, 2015. When you’re cruising the autumn craft fairs, remember to look for the signs of the Ruminati. The only way they’ll be defeated is if we make sure not to support them. Do it on the sly, though. Always remember that the Eye of Bessie is watching…

It be a briny day for this landlubber…

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Mornin’ all.

Okay, so the madcap book writing thing is not going to plan.

“You’re procrastinating again, aren’t you, Bethie?”

No!

…well, maybe a little. I hit a sticky section. I know how I want the book to end, I know the generalities of the plot line, I even have a few distinct scenes in my head ready to flow through my fingers to enter the world. However, to get there, I need to get past one major bump in the road that feels like it’s covered in wet tar.

I think I know how. I had a burst of inspiration last night.

Unfortunately, that inspiration can’t be used yet. This is building up and it’s going to be one of those situations where my fingers feel like they’re injected with Red Bull and I’ve got the headphones on blasting my murder playlist (literary murder, folks. Jeez. What kind of idiot do you think I am? If I was actually going to murder someone in real life, I wouldn’t have a playlist called “murder”, would I?) and going to town. I need to be able to sit in the zone and just write.

I haven’t been able to do that this week, and I won’t get a chance to until at least tonight. Very soon my herd of giants will be waking up eager to get to…the Pickle Fest!

Yep, today is our little hamlet’s annual festival to celebrate what I believe is one of the tastiest methods of food preservation.

It seems like the hubbub is a little more bubby this year. This could have something to do with multiple factors. First, we live in the general area of the infamous Pumkin Fest. Remember that? It was on the news because some asshats decided to have riots there. RIOTS. At a pumpkin festival. I think people are kind of amped to see whether or not there will be trouble at our little fest.

If there is, I guarantee it won’t last long. Unlike the big city of past pumpkin shame, we’re a small town. In NH. I’ve said it before, but in case you’ve forgotten, let me refresh your memory with a simple math equation to keep in mind anytime you travel through my fair state:

small NH town = lots of guns

Hm. I suppose that’s less of an equation and more of a life lesson, huh? Here. I’ll make it more mathy so it seems important and official:

trouble making outsider + small NH town = wicked bad fahkin’ day fer that guy

Get the point?

Anyone would be beyond stupid to try and start shit here. We’re celebrating pickles today, people. Pickles. Vegetables that have been given balls and grit through copious amounts of vinegar and salt. This isn’t some bullshit fest to honor a damn hipster coffee-flavoring gourd. This is real mans’ man’s stuff. Salt to toughen you up, vinegar to give you the squint of an ornery bastard. GRRRR!

“Whoa now, Bethie. Calm down.”

*deep breath* Don’t be startin’ shit in MY fest.

There. Had to be said. Though I don’t think there will be any legitimate problems, I do think the “what if” is driving the buzz.

Another excitement factor this year is how nice our town is starting to look. There are some redone buildings downtown. An investor came in and converted a building that started out as a factory, changed to a store, housed a hardware business forever, then sat useless for a decade into a combination distillery and farmer’s market.

No, wait. I know it might sound like a silly concept to combine a produce stand with a moonshine factory. But have you been to a farmer’s market lately? The prices are getting INSANE. I think it’s brilliant to get the customers all liquored up before they pay $4.99/lb for organic roots and twigs. Takes the sting off the sticker shock.

Love or hate the concept, the building has been totally renovated and looks so awesome. There has been a massive amount of activity in and around it this week…I wonder if today will be their grand opening?

Right next to the new highbrow boozery is a karate dojo. It’s in a tall, skinny building on a corner right next to a very narrow bridge. In my lifetime, there have been perhaps two dozen different companies that tried to run a successful business in that building. All of them have failed.

Local lore is that it’s haunted.

Back in the town’s heyday, when the tannery was running full steam and the grand hotel hadn’t yet turned into a bawdy house of disrepute, the building in question housed a high end garment shop. It wasn’t a standard tailor. This shop catered to the upper echelon who would stop over for a night in the grand hotel on their train journey north to the luxury of the White Mountain resorts that were a popular summer destination for the pre-civil war elite.

At three stories tall, the building is one of the largest in town and was very hard to miss. It sat directly across from the grand hotel itself, yet another marketing coup for a small town seamstress named Annabelle Green. Getting business was never a problem for the self-professed “Lady of Lace,” and her rich clients, happy with her work, would tout her ability far and wide. At her prime, she was creating fashion for the wives and mistresses of the most powerful men in the northeast. She quickly became one of the richest and most influential people in town, in a time when “rich” and “influential” were generally not words used to describe a woman.

Lucky as she was in her career, she could not find a husband that would allow her to continue to control her own business. There are two separate engagement announcements in the old newspaper accounts for Annabelle, and two separate gossip bits about those engagements ending without marriage. Though the specifics are mere story with no actual verification, the rumor was that after the second failed engagement, Annabelle kind of went mad.

I don’t think that’s true. It’s a rumor that’s endured through the generations because after the second broken engagement, Annabelle refused to deal with men. There was a sign in her shop that forbade men from crossing the threshold. She insisted that all accounts be settled either by mail or by hand delivery from the “party serviced,” meaning the women, not their husbands. She would not speak to men on the street, and when it came time to pay her own tax bills, she’d always send one of her workers to deal with the male-centric town offices.

I think people said she went bonkers because they wanted some explanation other than “she hated that she was used and abused by men her whole life and they were assholes that deserved to be shunned.” I think in that misogynistic society, any woman who was sick of mens’ shit was just called “mad”. They couldn’t believe that THEY were the problem, NOT her.

Anyway, whether she went mad or not, that last attempt at love was a turning point. She loved her business before. After? She was a woman obsessed with it. She poured herself so completely into the shop that there is an old log in the town hall that proves she was fined for breaking the working hours ordinance no less than seven separate times because she just would not stop the machines and send her employees home by 6 pm.

The town, getting sick of her shit and sick of her attitude and just generally sick of her, had enough of the late hours right in the middle of their town and began to put the pressure on to drive her away. There are myriad ways a small town hellbent against one lone businesswoman could make her life hell and cause her business to dry up, and it seems every one of those tricks was employed.

I’d like to tell you that she bucked the system and kept on sewing. I can’t. The system beat her down, and in 1842, she had to close her doors. However, she lived on the third story, and by that time, she owned the building. They could make her close, but they couldn’t make her leave.

Annabelle would spend her days sitting in a chair on the balcony of the third floor, glaring down at the townspeople like some crazed, bitter gargoyle. They tried fining her, but there was no law against sitting on your own balcony and looking at folks. As she sat, day in and day out, her eyes passing judgment on everyone, she allowed her building to fall into disrepair. Right in the center of town and across from a grand hotel, the peeling paint and broken windows were not only an eyesore, they were a major flip of the bird to those who made her dream crumble.

They tried forcing her to keep her building neat and tidy. She never showed up to the hearing in front of the town board of selectmen, and she also never paid the resulting fine. The town took her to court. Or, tried to, anyway. She refused to leave her building to go to that court hearing, either, and a judgment was passed in her absence ordering Annabelle to either repair the building, or cede it to the town under threat of physical eviction should she not comply.

Do you think Annabelle complied?

Legend has it that the scene was a great, riotous affair on the day the police went to forcibly evict Annabelle. Gossip accounts of the time make it seem like there were hundreds of people gathered to witness the event, with folks squaring off on either side of the debate. The “let an old woman live in peace!” do gooders against the “make that bitch pay for ruining our town!” contingent.

Personally, I doubt the veracity of that part of the story. I’ve lived in this town almost my whole life, and while some things change about a small community over the years, the basic ethos will always remain. Though we do like a good spectacle, I think to get teeming masses involved, there would have to be some free beer or snacks.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying there wasn’t drama on the fateful day. Though not the riotous affair the rumor mill created, it was one of our town’s most infamous events.

As the police forced their way into the building to apprehend the once powerful Annabelle, she gave the town her one last “SCREW YOU!” and dove off her balcony to her death. She landed right in front of the building, her neck twisted and blood staining the sidewalks in the very center of town just as a coach of wealthy travelers, some no doubt her former clients, pulled to a stop at the grand hotel right across the street.

Since that day, every business that has tried to make a go of it in Annabelle’s building has failed, some of them only a few months after opening their doors.

When I was a kid, the trend was to try to make it a little restaurant. Former tenants claimed that they’ve come in in the morning to find rows of glasses shattered, or the refrigerator with all the prep food for the next day unplugged and thousands of dollars worth of groceries spoiled. Things placed in the attic will be mysteriously shredded. Odd music will play when the owners are there alone at night. You know, standard haunting type stories.

However, even the folks who claim not to believe in ghosts have left the building in a hurry after more nefarious happenings. There are dozens of reports of people being pushed or tripped on the stairs. Reasonable men and women have fled in a panic after feeling as if they’ve been punched or slapped if they dare enter the third story, what was once Annabelle’s private quarters. Two people have been driven to insanity by the relentless torture, and one sadly died the same way as the seamstress herself.

No business lasts there, people. Why? Because Annabelle won’t let it.

…nah. Just kidding. Gosh you’re gullible today! The building never housed a high priced seamstress shop. I’m pretty sure it was the opposite of a grand hotel *nudge**nudge* *wink**wink* if you catch my drift. A saloon on the bottom floor, and bottoms on the top. I bet people did die there, but it was probably from gonorrhea or a heart attack. Maybe cheatin’ at cards like a yellow-bellied varmint.

It’s true that no business has lasted in that space, but the reason for that is quite simple and, frankly, boring. The building is in a horrible location. It’s right by the first of two intersections in town (yes, two WHOLE intersections), with a narrow bridge on one side and just awful parking, to boot. Any business like a shop or a restaurant, where people know they are only going to be there a short while, will not do well. It’s such a hassle to back out of the parking right into the intersection that people decide it’s not worth it to come back.

A dojo, though…now there’s a winning idea. Why? Because parents can drop their kids off and then park anywhere downtown. They’ve got at least an hour to wait while the kids are in class, so there’s no hurry, no rush. All the downtown parking is free, and if you’re not in a time crunch, the dojo is definitely within easy walking distance. Hell, a lot of the folks are probably going to head on over to do their laundry while they wait anyway. A dojo might work there, it just might.

Even if the dojo doesn’t last, the owners of the building have decided to spiff it up, too. They redid it to look like a cross between the old saloon it most likely was and a modern building with a bank of large windows on the entire second story. It looks classy, that’s what I’m saying, especially right next to the farmer’s mar*hic*ket.

Aw shit. I just put it together. The drunk-ket is in cahoots with the dojo. The folks who drop their kids off to kick ass in karate can then go drink some expensive liquor and buy kale while they wait. Brilliant.

We’ve also got a new candle shop in town. Yep, candles.

All of this together gives us fancy roots and organic twigs, craft liquors to make people forget they are going to eat said roots and twigs, a dojo where the folks who are going to buy the liquor and roots and twigs can send their kids while they do it, and a fancy candle to take home as a New Englandy memento.

Oooh lah lah. Lookit us all high and uppity over here. Bring on the snotty cheese-eaters!

…but remember, we still have guns. Lots of them. And even though a vast majority of the gun-toters will be watching a cow take a shit in the field to see if they struck it rich, I guarantee they’re all good enough shots to take down any rioters from that distance.

You know what we call that ’round here?

052

Thus concludes a briny Musing for Saturday, Pickle Fest Day, 2015. I’m off to buy a jar of half sours so I can pre-game.

“Uh, Bethie?”

Huh?

“Are you going to explain the cow shit comment?”

Well now, I don’t think I will. Mystery is the spice of life.

Embrace it.

Renaissance Cavewoman

Standard

Mornin’ all.

You want some applesauce?

My apples are coming in. BOY are they coming in. I haven’t even really had to set up a contraption to harvest them yet, though my guy and a buddy of his had some great redneck fun climbing up there and shake shake shaking the branches. They climbed just high enough to scare me, but still in a range where a fall would most likely be survivable. I’m not going to lie and call that a sober endeavor, though I really feel like that goes without saying.

Between the drunk apes and good old fashioned gravity, I’ve gotten enough apples so far to make three batches of apple crisp, two apple cakes, and four gallons of applesauce.

Four. GALLONS.

Three of the gallons are divided and ziploc-ed in the freezer. I always use ziploc bags for freezing stuff like that. Once you fill the bag, squeeze the air out, and zip it closed, you can lay it on the counter for a bit and it’ll get very flat, making it good for storage.

Admittedly, it feels very, very odd to have a sac of warm applesauce in your hands. It’s like some bizarre boob implant gone awry.

“Bethie, I’m offended by the word boob.”

Of course you are.

Once you get the edible implants flat and stacked, they fit very nicely in our small freezer. It’s times like these that I wish I had a chest freezer. Though I guess if you look at it the right way, now I do.

BUH DUM DUM CHING

I’d guess a good two thirds of this year’s apple crop is still up in the tree branches. I’m going to make some apple butter and jar it, so I can store that in the cupboards. And I’ll keep cranking out apple cakes and crisps and crumbles and buckles until the kids can’t stand the smell of apples and cinnamon.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

“Yes, but they don’t mean you should cram the whole year’s worth in at once.”

Eh, semantics.

We had use of a standing freezer at one time. It was great. My mum got it for a song from the junk shop across the way, and we muscled it into her garage when she lived next door. It gave us a few good years, then shit the bed. We used it for storage of woodworking materials and hand tools after it would no longer chill our grub.

You all know how much I love having a new thing to fill with all my junk, so it wasn’t really a heartbreaking day when the freezing element conked out. But having the ability to hoard food is something I miss.

I was thinking about hoarding the other day while combing through the tall grass for apples, my shirt full because I didn’t have the forethought to bring the cooler over to the other side of the tree. Had I been a chipmunk, I would have started cramming my cheeks full.

You’re welcome for that mental image.

I bent over to pick up another apple and the makeshift “pouch” of my tee shirt bottom gave way and a few apples fell out. I’m not going to lie. It gave me a moment of panic. It truly, honestly did.

“Uh, Bethie…”

Yeah yeah yeah, I know. Just bend down and pick them back up. I get it. But in that moment, all I could think was, “Shit, I just lost them! Hurry and get them back right now or the kids will starve this winter!”

Here’s a theory, folks. I don’t think my hoarding is a dysfunction. Instead, I propose that the hoarding “illness” is actually a recessive genetic trait carried from our hunter/gatherer cave-cestors.

Now wait. I’m not justifying any of the alarming or truly damaging aspects of hoarding. There is no reason to get so much junk that you can’t tell when you’ve got flattened, mummified cats at the bottom of the heap. There is absolutely no survival benefit to owning mummified cats.

But if you were to come into my house right now and look at things through the eyes of a caveman or cavewoman, you’d not only be impressed, but you’d put down your rock and club in concession to my obvious superiority and crown me Queen of the Caves.

…”*dubious eyebrow lift*”…

…okay, well you’d at least whistle and waggle your bushy cave brows and thump my man on the back while saying, “mmghfm, brah,” which I don’t even think needs translating.

I’m saying that while I may fail at being a modern chick in many ways, I’d friggin’ rock the hell out of cave life.

*sidenote: The misogynistic OpenOffice spellchecker approves of “caveman” but not “cavewoman.” Someone start an online petition toot sweet.

**sidenote p.s.: Also not allowed are “spellchecker” and “sidenote,” though I doubt this will raise enough ire to warrant a petition. Still, worth mentioning. Tighten it up, OpenOffice.

Cheekiness aside, I do think I might be on to something here. I wasn’t kidding when I said the apples falling out of my shirt caused a moment of panic. That’s what actually gave me pause and sparked what might be the first epiphany of the school year. With the kids gone during the day, I can actually think.

Look, I’m not at all unaware of my stupidly obsessive thoughts. I know it was utterly ridiculous to feel fear at the potential loss of three apples, especially given the circumstances. They didn’t actually “go” anywhere. They were still there in front of me, cushioned in the grass, waiting for me to bend down and pick them back up.

Right now, in modern life, I didn’t have to worry at all. I didn’t lose them.

And even if I had, even if they had tumbled down the little hill into the drainage creek to be swept out to the Ashuelot river, there were plenty more apples for me and my family. Too many, actually. I don’t have a freezer. I can’t possibly use all the apples Nature has provided this year. I honestly did not need those three apples.

But cavewoman Bethie could have. Cavewoman Bethie probably would have. Every single scrap of food was necessary. It makes sense to have a mini panic attack when you think about it from that standpoint. I might live in modern times, but I’m still an animal. At heart, we all are. And what more animalistic endeavor could there be than gathering food for a family? Not shopping. Not opening a can. Real, honest, raw gathering. Out there, barefoot in the morning dew, eyes carefully scanning the tall grasses for the bright red that signals another step towards full bellies and healthy cubs.

Instinct. In that respect, hoarding food is simple, pure instinct. Grab as much as you can and then protect it, because those three apples could mean the difference between life and death.

On the “stuff” side of hoarding, as the gatherer half of this h/g team, my ability to scavenge and save and stockpile would have been a massive advantage. My little clan would have had things to trade, more possibilities for tool crafting, greater comforts than other groups. Those things would have given us status.

I would have OWNED caveman life.

Modernity hasn’t negated the inborn need humans have to amass huge quantities of things. I hoard stuff. Junk, if you’re going to insist on cold, hard truth. I love the things I gather. To me and my little clan, it’s useful, even if others don’t see the glorious piles in a twinkling, rainbowy light. However, while others are shaking their heads, the vast majority of the tsk-tsking naysayers are also hoarders. They just hoard money. Or shoes. Or nice furniture instead of curbside freebies.

Think I’m off base? Then explain storage units to me.

We humans have created a multi-billion dollar industry that exists for the sole purpose of storing all our extra crap. If you’ve got a storage unit that holds all your extra stuff, then you’re actually pretty much just like me. The ONLY difference between the two of us is that I refuse to pay someone $300/month to keep all my extra shit. I don’t tuck my hoarding away and pretend the urges aren’t there. I face it and live with it every single day.

“Bethie, we need storage units. What about when people move? They need a place to keep their stuff for awhile.”

Yep. But that’s not how it plays out, is it?

My uncle had a storage unit. He got it when he downsized after his divorce (lawyer speak for “he had to sell the house and give the ex the money”). When he started out, he *intended* for his storage unit to be temporary, as most folks do.

But once he got into the apartment, he realized how empty it felt. So, he started to buy new stuff. Why not? His house stuff was really for a house, after all. He needed apartment stuff.

When he died, we had the job of sorting out his storage unit. What did we find? Copies of the stuff he had in his apartment. Another couch, another stereo, an outdated computer. At that point, he had been divorced for nearly two decades, and had been shifting that crap from storage facility to storage facility as he moved. He paid every single month to house his “house” stuff for decades.

You’re laughing, but his story is not at all uncommon. In fact, most people who rent a storage unit end up paying to keep it for years. Some people have multiple storage units.

How is that NOT hoarding? It is hoarding. It’s just socially acceptable hoarding. That’s the only difference between the average Joe with a storage unit and myself. Society okays one and pretends the other is different. We are alike, though. We’ve all got that little side to us.

It’s a compulsion that’s been in our genes since before we were humans. It’s an ancient survival instinct that happens to be more prevalent in some people than others. I’m simply more in touch with my ancestral heritage than most.

I’m not a hoarder. I’m a Renaissance cavewoman.

Wait…why are you groaning and rolling your eyes?

“Because it just dawned on me what you’re doing.”

Uh, what do you mean? I’m proposing a very important biological, sociological, and anthropological theory here.

“No, you’re trying to justify ignoring the housework for another day.”

Whaaaa? Meeee???

“That’s what this entire post has been about, isn’t it?”

*whistles* *picks lint off bathrobe* *develops a sudden deep interest in the position of the stapler on the desk*

“Bethie.”

…yeah?

“Go clean your room.”

*grumble* *glare* Fine. See if I try to enlighten you again. *mutter* *shuffles off to get the broom*

“Don’t forget the trash bags.”

Tyrant.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, September 1, 2015. I guess I’ll go clean my stupid room now and conform to your modern oppression. But you have to admit, excuses and stalling and epic procrastination technique aside, I might just have a point.

I might be a Hampster, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have taste…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

“Uh, Bethie? You just talked to us yesterday.”

What? A gal can’t have another shitty night of sleep, dip into the coffee waaaaay too early, and have to choose between talking to online pals or waking up her kids for company?

Besides, I read an article that I felt MUST be discussed IMMEDIATELY.

“Oh. Well, then, I suppose I’ll allow it. Proceed.”

On MSN…

“*groan*”

Hey, I just looked so that we’d have chit chat fodder, okay? I’m not expecting to get real news on that news site. My eyes are open. I know what I’m in for. It’s not like I’m some internet newb or something. Sheesh.

ANYWAY, they had a cooking article that I clicked on simply because of the title. “How Chicken Breasts Are Stuffed in Every State.”

C’mon. How could I pass that up? Not only are they implying that a chicken breast stuffing craze is sweeping the nation (and you know I try my best to be ahead of the curve on all fabricated crazes), but I have been living my whole life in the dark on how my most beloved state stuffs chicken breasts. Clearly I had to look posthaste.

So, how do we Hampsters stuff our chicken breasts?

I don’t know. As disappointing as it will no doubt be to you, the article was not a “how to”, but a “what with.” Bummer, eh? I, personally, was hoping for some cool instructions, like, “Sneak up on the chicken breast, bowie knife tucked carefully in your belt while whistling the state anthem to lull the chicken breast into a false sense of comforted ease before you strike.”

Alas, it was not to be.

It seems that folks all around the nation actually stuff them the same way. Cut the chicken breast open with zero subterfuge, and shove shit inside. Blah. How boring is that? At least Julia Child would have said to jazz up the experience with a few nips of sherry.

What the article was *really* about was what ingredients folks shove in the filleted breasts. Not as thrilling as ninja kitchen tactics, but I admit curiosity beat out disappointment and I just had to know what we Hampsters like in our chicken breasts.

MSN believes that in New Hampshire, we stuff our chicken breasts with mashed butternut squash and maple syrup.

*blurrrffpph*

That sound was pretty much exactly what you think it was.

Butternut squash and maple syrup…in a CHICKEN BREAST?? Seriously, MSN. WTF. Just because we have those things here doesn’t mean we’re dumb enough to shove them together. Would YOU eat butternut squash and maple syrup CHICKEN? No. No you wouldn’t. And neither do we.

Ever.

It just has not been a thing that has happened.

*gak* *shudder*

Hey. Could be worse. I could live in Hawaii where they have to stuff their chicken breasts with pineapple and Spam. I think it’s a law. Or in Maine, where they fill a delicious, savory chicken breast with wild blueberry jam and shallots. Just think about THAT staring up at you from the plate.

According to MSN, Delaware stuffs theirs with crab and artichoke dip. They just take the bowl of dip, dump it in the chicken, and then bake it, because nothing is tastier than hot artichoke and crab and mayonnaise sadly seeping out the side of chicken breast. If you ever find yourself in Delaware, make sure to try it! I think the locals call this dish, “Resignation.”

Sounds delish.

Indiana gets very specific. Those zany Indianians like to fill their perfectly good chicken with pork and beans.

“Will any old pork and beans do?”

No, silly! It’s got to be canned, and it’s got to be Van Camp’s. You know, the high end stuff that sells for $1.05/can, not the cheap shit you get at the dollar store. Open the can, fit as much of it as possible in the raw chicken purse, then ruin it in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees. Hell, why stop there? Once it’s out, just dump the rest of the can on top. That’s what we fancy ones call “presentation.” Don’t forget to pick up a second can to serve as a side dish!

You think THAT’S special? In the high brow state of Kentucky, they serve their chicken like they serve their tea sandwiches. Nope, I did not make that up. It should have had quotes. The article says, “The traditional tea sandwich flavors of cream cheese and cucumbers…” Cream cheese and cucumbers. Because I guess high tea is a thing in Kentucky? So popular that they MUST carry over the “traditional” flavors in their chicken…? I guess?

In Wyoming, they don’t believe that chicken is real meat. And who can blame them, right? There’s no wrangling involved in chicken-ing. No branding. No roping. There isn’t even a need to cut off the balls of the young. Hell, when you really think about it, chickens are just a few feathers away from being cabbages. Pfft. PA-THETIC.

No, what true Wyomingites want is MEAT. REAL meat. Legit meat. Meat that meant something, that tried to be somebody. Meat that put up a fight and had to be wrassled and roped and rounded up. So they take what is really just a floppy taco shell, if we’re being honest, and cram it with cooked ground bison.

“But Bethie, won’t the crumbly ground bison just fall out?”

That’s what the chokecherry jam is for!

“Oh. Oh god.”

For the Minnesota entry, where they supposedly eat their chicken filled with wild rice, mushrooms, and sour cream, the article makes sure to say, “Optional: Tater tots on the side.” Perhaps the ONLY truly high end recipe in the entire list, and it’s paired with…tater tots. Now, I myself am of the opinion that tater tots should be the side dish of every meal. However, they aren’t really a high class side and don’t belong with what is the only good suggestion in this article. So close, MSN. Soooo close.

I’m going to tell you verbatim what they list for Mississippi. It’s a bit wordy, so bear with me. Here goes.

“Pimento cheese.”

That’s it. That’s the entirety of the entry. No suggested sides, no links to the recipe, no recommended garnishes. Just “pimento cheese.” I guess if you live in Mississippi, you know how you do chicken. Just keep doing it.

I think the winner here…

…hang on. With all you’ve seen and imagined on the plates of these Americans, is there really a “winner” here? Is there?

I think the most cringe-worthy recipe has to be the one for Utah. Why? Because apparently they eat their chicken stuffed with something called “funeral potatoes.”

I’m going to get real with you: If you intentionally eat something called “funeral potatoes,” you forgo any right you may have had to complain after the meal. Funeral is right there in the name of the dish. If you eat it anyway, that’s on you.

Real talk.

Look, I know how these articles are written. I get it. Some writer for MSN Food had to come up with an article for the deadline, but was too busy partying his face off all week to actually do any research and had to struggle through his hangover to come up with SOMEthing his editor would publish. He had a few things in his favor, though. First, he’s eaten food before. He also heard some things about most of the states, and had Google for the ones he was a bit hazy on. And the best thing going for Mr. Hangover was the fact that he works for MSN, where he could pretty much wipe his ass, sign his name on the toilet paper, and get paid for his “work.”

People who write these articles have absolutely no idea about regional foods. None. Zero. Zip.

In NH, we do grow squash. We do sap trees. We do not then take the products of those two completely separate endeavors and smash them together inside chicken. We just don’t. In fact, the only stuffed chicken breasts we tend to eat around here are stuffed with, well, stuffing. It think that’s why they call it “stuffing,” because you, ya know, they stuff it inside things.

Restaurants stuff chicken breasts with other things around here from time to time. I think there’s a place a few miles up the way that actually still serves Cordon Bleu. I know, right? Hello ’70s!

So “can” you get different types of stuffing inside your chicken in New Hampshire? Yeah. But is that the norm as MSN would have you believe? Absolutely not.

I have to hope it’s the same for the other states. I have to hope this is simply a matter of a hungover, poor excuse for a “writer” trying to cram together what little he knows about the states and hoping it’ll fly as a plausible article. I have to hope that they are not really eating crab and artichoke filled chicken in Delaware, or suffering through the terror of “funeral potato” stuffed chicken in Utah. I’ve got to believe that people around the country have a shred of common sense and don’t really torture themselves in such ways.

I’ve got to believe that, because one day I might just visit some of the other states in this fine nation, and I’m going to be honest: If I get to Taos all jacked up for art and hippies, and a restaurant serves me ground beef and Frito filled chicken breasts, someone’s not gonna have a good day.

Thus concludes a rambling little Musing for Sunday, August 16, 2015. Oddly enough, we’re having chicken for dinner tonight in the House of Bethie. Maybe I’ll get wild and crazy and use one of the suggestions. Now, should I go with limp, hot coleslaw like they do in Kansas, or should I really give my kiddos an exotic treat and fill them Georgia style, with peaches and thyme? Hmmm…decisions decisions….

“Uh, Bethie? I know you hate it when I interrupt your closing, but I feel like as your friend, I should point out that serving either of those recipes might just be considered child abuse.”

Oh. Shit. You’re probably right. Then unstuffed BBQ chicken it is! Thanks for lookin’ out for me.

I’m sure it’s absolutely normal for rain to dissolve concrete…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

“Myriad” is a weird word. It’s a thesaurian swap-out for such great words as “multitude” and “horde”. As a noun, it’s used the same way.

A myriad of scarabs scuttered with haste over the rapidly decaying carcass.

Nice word.

However, when it’s used as an adjective, things sound awkward.

There were myriad calculations to be done in order to determine the origin of the alleged alien communication.

See what I mean? You take away the “of”, and that just doesn’t sound right. You don’t take away the “of” from “multitude” unless you spiff up the word.

There were multitudinous calculations…

Doesn’t that sound so much better?

Why do we “multitudinous” but not “myriadinous?” Doesn’t “myriadinous” just sound impressive?

Today shall be a great day of feasting. Myriadinous meats and multitudinous meads shall be consumed by princes and paupers alike!

Why is this not a thing?

Two a.m. thoughts, folks.

Odd night of sleep. I woke up at 2, wide awake. Eyes popped open, brain kicked into gear, and there was not one single comfortable position in my bed. Apparently my mind NEEDED to assess “myriad”. Clearly I couldn’t rest until I had come to terms with the bad side of a good word and reconciled my appreciation in spite of the flaws. When I finally did drift back to sleep, I had a rapid succession of swiftly morphing dreams.

It was like…

…hm. Well, perhaps a drug binge maybe, though I’m not really sure what those feel like. The closest I ever got to anything worse than weed was when doctors shot me with something during the child birth hell of my first kid. The world was blurry, the voices were fuzzy, and I’m fairly certain I took a swing at my mum when her breathing coaching was different than what was going on in my head. If I did, sorry, Mum. Blame whatever it was the doctors shot in my ass.

I just considered whether it was like flipping through tv channels, and no, that’s not right, either. When you flip from channel to channel, there is no in-between. You’re either watching some ridiculous lady try and sell you a kuh-wall-ity Diamel necklace, or listening to some boring dude drone on about finances, or trying to keep up with a riveting telenovela even though your grasp on Spanish is rudimentary at best.

What? Oh come on. Don’t act like you haven’t been there.

Last night wasn’t like flipping channels. There weren’t clear breaks between scenes. One dream would start, then something in the dream itself would be a catalyst to morph the rest into a different dream. In your mind, picture a family barbecue. Auntie Phyllis brings you a hamburger, but as she hands it over, you look at the plate and find that it’s a squirming alien baby. Alarmed, you look up to find that you’re no longer at a family BBQ, but in a delivery room trying desperately to save the offspring of a poor alien that crashed to Earth. Phyllis is gone, replaced by Dr. Carson who is begging you to perform CPR. You look back down, ready to bring the limp alien fetus to your mouth to try and find some orifice you can blow into, only to discover that you’re holding a wrench at the top of a huge building, trying to fix an antenna and save the world…

There must have been fifty short stories in the span of about an hour. Imagine the ones I can’t remember! What a trip.

Instead of waking up tired and groggy this morning, I got up feeling rejuvenated in spite of the brevity of my sleep.

I don’t know if you’re a creative person. I am, and I don’t think that’s any mystery, or something to feign coyness over. I like to make things. The quality is up for debate and personal taste, but I do, in fact, make many things. I like to have weird ideas and bring them to life. I do it in writing, sure, but also crafts, art, music… I just like to take the tangled knitting bag of yarn that is my brain and make something real out of it all.

As anyone who is creative can tell you, sometimes you reach into your knitting bag and find nothing to work with. You pull and pull, hoping to find an interesting snarl or a funky-looking tangle that’ll spark an idea, but all you get is straight, brown, boring yarn.

To anyone who is of a creative mind, this brown, neatly sorted yarn is the kiss of death. If a creative individual can’t create, they feel stifled, stranded, and strangled. Every day without a spark feels beige; like they got up, put on sensible shoes, drove their tan Hondas at a reasonable speed to get to their 9-5 inside a cubicle maze with other beige-y folks who spent the morning staring at the loudly ticking clock looking forward to the watery coffee and stale bran muffins in the break room, the brightest moment in their monotonously lethargic day.

Any day without a creative idea feels so barren and bleak that the anticipation of a stale bran muffin is the highlight.

Pathetic.

So when I have a dream series like last night, no matter what it took to get my brain there, it feels wonderful. It puts a pep in my step and makes my fingers twitch to type, or paint, or burrow into clay, or… It feels like a day of possibility.

No wait! I can do better.

It feels like a day of myriadinous possibilities.

It’s raining, too, so that means I’ll actually get a good chunk of time to work on projects. On my grown up “To Do Before Autumn” list are a bunch of outdoor chores. Boo. Boring. I need to pour a cement stair (just one…it crumbled during a rain burst. The other two in the case are fine. Yeah…I don’t know, either.), mow, trim bushes, prep the apple field…

“Don’t you mean orchard, Bethie?”

Only on days where I want to sound uppity. Those are also the days when I talk of the acreage of my berry patches (er, maybe 1/15th of an acre?) and my vineyard (wild grapes that popped up outta nowhere to cling to my falling down redneck garage). On THOSE days I’ll go on about my orchard.

There are only three trees, though, so anyone who knows me in real life would roll their eyes if I waxed too eloquent. The trees were never properly trimmed and trained when they were young, so they’re far too tall to belong to a proper orchard. I’d say they’re easily thirty feet high. Not exactly idea for pickin’. There are two McIntosh trees and one Cortland, and sometimes they grow respectable sized apples. Sometimes, they grow jack shit. Last year between the three, they grew one. One apple reached ripeness. And a worm got to it first.

This year, the super high branches are positively laden with the biggest apples I’ve ever seen on the trees in the 12 years we’ve lived here. It’s a bumper crop.

….waaaaaayyyyy above my head.

Way up high in the apple tree,

Two little apples smiled at me.

I shook the tree as hard as I could,

Down came the apples; mmm were they good!

My mother used to say that little poem for us. I always remember it when I stare up, up, up into the impossibly high branches trying to figure out how in the hell to get those apples that taunt me.

*sidenote: You know, thinking about that poem now, maybe those apples just wanted to be friendly? “Oh, look! A person! Hello, friend! Here’s a smile to brighten your day!” And then what did the person do? “Are those apples…SMILING at me?! Oh NO they di’int! I’ll show those little bastards! NO ONE smiles at ME and gets away with it!” And then he eats them. He eats them for spreading sunshine and kindness. *sniff* The world is an unjust place.*

I’ve tried everything from using a crossbow to shoot a rope over the branches so I can shake the apples loose, to extending grabby-claws on the end of poles to try and pluck the fruit individually. Getting the apples has become a “thing” here. This year, my man thinks I should weld together a grappling hook. The teens want to pepper the trees with BBs, and can’t understand why I think that’s a monumentally bad idea.

See, I don’t have a tree shaker. I could hire one, but there’s no way it could safely get to the trees. A ladder is positively out of the question. I have too much mass, and as much as I’ve begged my molecules to go quantum, I can’t get said mass to ignore gravity.

Pfft. Traitorous slave to physics.

No matter what I come up with, I’ve got to clear the grass out there. Apples are turning red, and soon the tree will start dropping perfectly good fruit. I’ll cut the grass, maybe set up some tarps, and gather the dropped fruit every morning before Nature can send hordes of animals and bugs to feast. Those apples will be bruised from the fall, but they’ll make great applesauce to freeze. Nothing is better on a cold evening than warming up some homemade applesauce to pour over pork chops. Applesauce cake. Applesauce donuts. Applesauce…applesauce. No need to muck it up. Applesauce is delicious on its own. *sighs thinking about autumn food*

I don’t just want applesauce, though. I also want apples for snacking, so I have to get some before they fall. I will create an apple contraption, and I most certainly will tell you all about it, no matter how much of a failure it is (and let’s face it, we’re all secretly hoping I end up with a few apple-sized lumps on my head because that makes for a much better read than if everything goes to plan). That will be a different story I tell on a different day.

Today is for painting. Today is for writing. Today is for listening to music that inspires, and hearing words written by other creators that will twist and gnarl the strands of yarn in my own head until the threads twine into something beautiful and moving. Or maybe something ugly, yet equally moving.

This burst will not last. This wave of rejuvenating creativity will peter out as it always does. There will be a day in the not so distant future when I wake up to a beige world and stuff my feet into sensible shoes, my eyes and ears hungrily seeking another muse as I go about the drudgery of everyday life.

But today, I sit here stretching my unbound bare feet in the thick, fluffy carpet, surrounded by a world of greens freshened by the shining drops of life that fall from the roiling, riotous clouds.

Today there is no beige.

Thus concludes a Morning Musing for Tuesday, August 4, 2015. I’m off to dip my brush in paint and see what happens. I hope you all have an equally verdant day.

Wrenches and glitter are both shiny, so why can’t they go in the same box?

Standard

Mornin’ all.

It feels like an ominous day is brewing. I woke up way too early, couldn’t get back to sleep for about an hour, then had dreams about dead people. Ugh. I got up, and to my dismay, the morning dawned with all the freshness of moist sponge that’s been sitting under a leaky bathroom sink. It’s so humid.

No, wait. “Humid” is tame.

As we like to say in my neck-o-the woods, “It’s wicked fahkin’ muggy.”

Fun story: When I was a kid and we’d have a thunderstorm in the summer, my dad would always look outside after and say, “Here come the muggies.” However, what *I* heard was, “Here come the monkeys.” I’d run to the window and try to see the monkeys. I thought maybe they were hiding in the fog. It was a real bummer when I got old enough to realize that summer thunderstorms did not actually elicit monkeys.

…and no, I’m not going to tell how how embarrassingly old I was when I finally had this revelation. Let’s just say, “Old enough” and let it go.

People say we can’t complain about this heat wave because of the horrible winter we had. Balderdash! We live on the 44th parallel. We get all kinds of weather, and I don’t discriminate. A 90 degree sauna is just as unpleasant as a -10 degree snowstorm. Can’t complain about the heat? Stuff and nonsense! I can complain about it all, my friend.

In spite of the heat and soul melting humidity, I had a great day yesterday! We piled the herd into the other wagon (the one we broke a couple weeks ago is still waiting for parts) and headed up to a different dam and recreation area for some damn recreating. It was hot, but boy was the ride beautiful!

I keep reading about the drought that’s gripped a large part of the nation. If you happen to live in one of those areas, I’m honestly not trying to rub it in. The past few summers here have been dry as well, but not this year. Maybe it was the extreme level of snow we had. Or the fact that when it has rained over the last couple months, it’s been less of a soft, pleasant drizzle and more of a “cats and dogs” situation.

…sidenote: See? People say “raining cats and dogs.” I’ve heard that my whole life. Now put yourself in the mind of a kid, and I really think a belief in rain monkeys is fairly reasonable.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got water, and that made the ride a beautiful collage of wild flowers, bubbling streams, vibrant green trees in every hue. As we got into the beginning of the lakes region, mossy, cat-tail and lily pad dotted marshes opened into broad, glittering lakes. Sometimes I forget how utterly beautiful my state is. It set the mood for a very fun day.

We met my grandparents at the dam. Yep, I said “my”. I’m lucky enough to have a set of grandparents that are still full of vim and pep (vim and vigor, but that always makes me think of my Polish grandmother who always got it wrong and said “vim and vinegar”). We met at the dam to hang out since my house has clearly been struck with a tornado of car parts and craft supplies. There would have been no way to enjoy lunch in the midst of all this…uh…can we just call it my “diverse collection” and make it sound artifact-y instead of hoard-y?

We chose a Wednesday to go, thinking it wouldn’t be crowded. While the picnicking area was wide open, the beach was surprisingly packed. The dam and recreation area are run by the US Army Corps of Engineers. As such, there’s only a small fee to use the beach and large picnic area, $1 per adult/$4 max per car. I guess a lot of the locals take advantage of the great deal on a hot day with bored kids during summer vacation.

That was fine. It was too hot to be a swim monitor for very long. The kids got a good (if slightly confined) swim in before we moved back to the shade of the enormous pine trees. We had a great picnic, then sat and chatted while we provided colorful commentary on the kiddies that were playing badminton.

Er, attempting to play badminton.

…er…flailing wildly at the birdie?

It was a fun day, great to see my family! And this wagon didn’t blow a hydraulic line on the way there OR back. In fact, as we pulled into the drive, the littlest pup piped up and said, “And would you look at that?! We made it a whole trip without a single disaster.”

Much like Tiny Tim, my jr. wordsmith certainly knows how to bring a sentimental tear to the eye.

So that was yesterday.

Today? I wanted to go out and finish the frame for my latest artistic bastardization. However, I can’t do it in this weather. I’m not a small lady. We bigguns’ don’t do the heat very well, and my neighbor would not appreciate me using the saw at 6 am before it gets too hot to work. I’ll be stuck inside for the most part. And that leaves me with only one option: I am going to attempt to clean in the dining room, aka the museum.

“No, Bethie. Sorry, but no. You cannot call it that.”

Aw! No fair! You said I could call all the crap “my collection,” and every collection needs a museum to display all the…stop shaking your head at me right now!

“*sigh* I will not legitimize your hoard by pretending it has institutional value.”

…*grumble*

“Come on. You know I’m right.”

…fine. You win. I’mma clean up my mess.

Satisfied?

“I don’t do it for me, Bethie. I do it for you.”

*blink*blink*

Yeaaah. Let’s move on.

So cleaning. It’s not at all what I want to do, if you couldn’t tell. I would say something glib like, “Who actually WANTS to clean,” but there are some people who like to do it.

Let’s investigate that for a minute. Some people, they *like* cleaning. It’s something they *enjoy*. They WANT to go through stacks of crap and do things like “sort” and “organize” and probably “collate,” though in fairness I’m not entirely sure what that means. I’ve never collated anything, so I assume it has something to do with being clean and tidy.

Anyway, these freaks, they clean, they organize, they collate their asses off. And then do you know what they do? They label “totes” and place similar items together inside. From what I gather from my Google overlords, they will get a tote for just pencils, and then ONLY put pencils in it, no matter how much other shit they *could* cram in there. They do all of these steps, AND THEY LIKE IT. They look forward to doing it all again on a REGULAR SCHEDULE to keep everything “neat.”

The world is full of sick, twisted psychos, folks.

I have one sister who gets dangerously close to being neat and tidy most of the time. In a pack of four girls, statistics say that at least one of them will be addicted to orderliness. It’s okay, we love her anyway. She’s moving right now, and is using boxes.

Boxes!

I said, “Why don’t you just get a bunch of trash bags? Scoop everything in. If something breaks, then you weren’t meant to own it anymore.”

But noooo. She wants to be all fancy.

Boxes. Pfft. I bet she actually wrote on them, too! Isn’t half the fun of moving playing the “where’d it go” game in your new home?

“Honey, where are the damn forks?”

“Did you check the Jack Daniels box?”

“Yeah. It’s full of tampons and razors.”

“…can’t we just use those?”

Good times, good times.

I wish the house she was moving to was closer. I bet if she walked in to my dining room right now, she’d say, “Oh HELL no,” and pull out the pair of rubber scrubbing gloves I want to believe she carries in her back pocket at all times, and get to work.

See, one of the bad things about hoarding tendencies is how overwhelming it feels. Right now, I’m not even CLOSE to my worst. That’s not denial, so don’t start with that crap again. I have way less junk than I did a year ago, and most of the house is still easily traversable.

It’s cluttered in there, but most of it is cluttered because it was left out, not put back on the shelves and corners. We had a whirlwind of using the tools and parts and supplies, and they are out where I will trip on them and over them to get to where they belong. I have the desire to at least make it so we can move around in there freely, just not the organizational part of the brain that tells me how to accomplish this task.

I was born with an organizational deficit, I suppose. The closest thing to an organizational center I have in my brain is a fat, lazy dude named Stan who glances up from his video game and says, “Damned if I know,” when I ask him how to do something.

Teen Prime somehow got the organizational skills I lack. I have none of them, and neither does his father. Must be a recessive gene. He’s going to help me in there because I busted ass to get his room rearranged to fit a new fifty bazillion pound desk in there last week. He owes me.

None of the other teens have shown any neatness tendencies. One of them is slightly fastidious, but that is not the same. His fastidiousness does not extend past his personal space. The littlest shows promise, but he’s also got my lack of attention. He is definitely a mini-me in that respect. Bright lights and shiny objects distract us. Nine times out of ten we’ll end up looking through the button jar while we sit in the middle of the half-straightened mess until someone intervenes and reminds us what we were doing.

Not good.

Teen Prime is growing up. Teen Prime is moving away soon. I guess I should probably take notes when he helps me sort and organize and maybe even collate later today. Right, Stan?

“…huh?”

Exactly.

Thus concludes a muggy Musing for Thursday, July 30, 2015. I’m going to make another pot of coffee before I begin this most dubious venture. The coffee I’m drinking now was made by one of the kids, and it just doesn’t have that burn-yer-belly feeling that a real pot of joe offers. I think I’m going to need the full strength kick in the pants to get through the cleaning. Sure I’ll be up all night with a flaming gullet while I hallucinate little pink men from the overload of caffeine, but neatniks assure me this is a normal side effect to a thing they call “efficiency”. Unto the breach my friends…