Tank You Very Much

I’m going to diverge wildly and focus on the pet situation around our house. Once upon a time, our pet family consisted of 3 cats. Sadly, due to age, we’re down to one. A few years ago, Felix expressed the idea of having some fish in his room, so Santa brought him a 5 gallon tank. His MyMom (me, of course) took him to the pet store where he chose 2 goldfish and a snail. He named them Big Jeffry, Little Jeffry, and Mr. Snail. Mr. Snail didn’t last 2 weeks, but the Jeffrys hung in there for a long time. We lost Big Jeffry during the power outage associated with last year’s hurricane – Ida, I think? You lose track after a while. The tank obviously wasn’t filtered for a few days, and Big Jeffry couldn’t take it. We moved the tank near the generator and filtered Little Jeffry off and on until power was restored. I’m happy to report that Little Jeffry is alive and well, and absolutely not little anymore.

About 2 years ago now, Felix became obsessed with a strange amphibian – the axolotl. He proceeded to do a deep dive into this animal, learning all about their ecology, history, requirements, and even some about breeding. He took this enthusiasm to his school, whereupon he became Dr. Felix, the professor, teaching anyone in his path about this critter (ADHD hyperfocus, anyone?). Long story short, he not only convinced me but also his adult BFF at his school, the science lab teacher, to drive an hour away to pick up axolotls at a breeder.

Y’all, this has been the nost wacked-out pet experience I’ve ever had. First off, I had to learn all about the nitrogen cycle and tank cycling. Felix’s teacher and I spent hours obsessing over these things, worrying we’d kill them. I sent white powder in a baggie up to school in my son’s backpack so she could have ammonia to kick-start her cycle. More than once, I arrived at the school office with a container of live worms in hand. I will say this: that’s a really quick way to get through the office. Since it took so long to cycle the tank, Neo (short for “Neoteny,” the characteristic exhibited by axolotls, whereby they retain their juvenile characteristics through their lives) has had to go on vacation with us twice; how could I ask someone to feed this thing 2-3 times a day, do a complete 100% daily water change, and keep the temp around 62-64 degrees? The answer is I couldn’t so Neo has now been to the beach more in the last year than many humans.

But he’s cute. And Felix loves him. It’s been an experience.

One more aquatic animal story, and this is the strangest one. Probably in mid February – around the same time we were neck-deep in axolotls, Will decided he wanted a small fish tank of his own. He ordered another 5 gallon tank, and set out for the fish store. I could have killed him, because he came back with about 4 fish called harlequin rasboras. He didn’t really do any homework at all, so didn’t know they needed a school of at least 6 individuals, as well as temps of 75 or so. He went back to get 2 more rasboras, a heater, and also ended up with a tiny little shrimp. It was gold in color, and only about 1/4″ long. I shook my head.

Will had bought one of those cheesy castles to put in his tank. The shrimp disappeared for a couple of days after he entered the tank, and we feared the worst. Maybe sucked into the filter? Maybe a rasbora went nuts and ate it? Then lo and behold, one day I came out to see the shrimp perched atop the castle. He became Lord Shrimp. And despite my initial reservations about this tank and its residents, I soon became obsessed with the comings and goings of Lord Shrimp. This obsession caused me to buy another shrimp – a bright red cherry shrimp – to join the chat. I didn’t mean to. I went to the fish store to get worms for the axolotl, and yada, yada, yada. I named him Baron Von Shrimp.

The Baron disappeared immediately. We suspected foul play – perhaps a political assassination. Perhaps Lord Shrimp was not happy to share he castle with a mere Baron, and Baron Von was erased. We never found a body. This was back in late February.

Will texted me in a panic Monday morning, upset that Lord Shrimp had gotten stuck behind the tank wall. He didn’t know how to get him out, but eventually he managed to extract him (not before the Lord yeeted himself out of Will’s hand onto the floor – Will had to rescue him by a whisker.). That afternoon when I got home from work, I looked around for Lord Shrimp, making sure he was ok. I couldn’t see him, so I peered into that compartment behind the tank wall. Sure enough, I saw a shrimp.

Y’all, it was the BARON. Baron Von Shrimp was alive! He had somehow existed back there for months, obviously staying well fed on whatever detritus fell back there. We managed to extract him (turkey baster) and placed him back into the light. I felt so bad for him. It reminded me of Reek from Game of Thrones – locked away alone and bereft, hearing the jeers from gen pop. There was nothing to do then but wait, and hope that Lord Shrimp would share his castle with Baron Von.

I came out this morning, and they were having a parley on one of the fake plants. All is well in the kingdom.

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Things Aren’t Always What They Theme

So I’m trying to get back into blogging. Look at me. This is the 3rd one in a week! No, seriously. This is one of those exercises whereby I hope to pull my creativity and energy up by their bootstraps. Sitting down to write about stuff channels a different part of my brain and allows me to remember things that might not have seemed important at the time, but were nonetheless.

I want to go back in time a bit, to the darker days of COVID. No, I’m not going to bitch this time. I want to talk about some stuff I did with my kids that I’m pretty proud of. I went back and read my posts from the past couple of years (not that it took that long), and while I briefly touched on this topic, I never really went into it in any great detail. What is it? Themes. During the first summer, we did theme weeks. We had more time. Last summer, we did theme days, as we had less time.

I had desperately wanted to keep my kids from becoming too “screen feral” during COVID. Y’all know what I mean. When kids sit in front of screens all day – especially YouTube – they turn into complete and total assholes. When you’re quarantining, it’s a bit harder to plan outings and such to break up the long, hot summer days. Ironically enough, our first “theme week” started because of YouTube. Stella somehow stumbled upon some videos where they looked at all the crazy vending machines they have in Japan. As such, “Japan Week” was born. One day we did bento box carryout. I ordered a JapanCrate. We watched some Godzilla movies. We watched anime. And we tried like hell to find some f’ing vending machines. Of course, everything was closed. We tried the zoo – a place we could go during the pandemic because it was outside – but the 2 whole Coke machines we found were out of order.

We did “tropical week.” I ordered tiki glasses and drink umbrellas. We watched Lilo & Stitch, Finding Ohana, and Moana. They wore Hawaiian shirts and waved around inflatable palm trees. And we couldn’t let it go without Spam. I made Spam puffs. I’m not sure we’d repeat that.

We had Christmas in July in 2020, which I wrote about – a week where we had a small tree, made cookies, watched Christmas Vacation, and did some other holiday-esque stuff. We had to quarantine from camp last year, and I didn’t want to repeat that theme, so we did Halloween in July instead. They dressed up in some costumes we had around (geisha and astronaut). We watched Halloween episodes of Spongebob. We even tried to make Jack-o’-lanterns out of watermelons.

What makes me happy is that my kids are always asking to do more theme weeks. They seem to focus more on that when they think and talk about the last 2 summers. I feel proud of that. We’ll do some theme days this summer for sure. That might be a new summer tradition that came out of 2 years during which all traditions were thrown out the window.

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Trip Van Winkle

Lest you think all I ever do is bitch and moan, which going back through my past 5-6 posts, I could understand why, I did want to start sharing other stuff. We have actually been out and about in the world, trying to make up for lost time and the opportunities for new experiences we lost during COVID.

We just went and saw Stomp. I didn’t even know it was still touring. The kids loved it!

We just recently came back from a spring break road trip with my mom. No, we didn’t go anywhere that would sound exotic or sexy on the surface. We went into Mississippi and Alabama. We spent a night on either side of the excursion in Biloxi, but spent the rest up in Alabama, specifically the Montgomery and Birmingham area. There is a surprising amount of random and sometimes wacky stuff to do.

A breakfast bar with bacon and avocado toast. Fancy.

Before I get into some of the specifics, there is a specific reason why this trip is significant, beyond getting to go on a trip with my mom. When my kids were younger, they were horrible traveling companions. I don’t know if it was the ADHD or my kids were just assholes. It was like riding in a car with a crate of nitroglycerin. You never knew when one or both of them would blow up. It was stressful and we were limited to about a 200-300 mile radius. The past several years, we could push a bit farther, particularly if there was a good break between travel days. But this time? We spent a whole lot of time in the car each day and no one died. Sure, there was some squabbling, but not that full-on screaming that still haunts my dreams. In short, this was a rather revolutionary experience.

My beautiful children

We had chosen a small handful of things to do beforehand, but each night we would pull out our phones and all look at what we could see the next day. It was kind of nice, as everyone got a bit of a say. One of the first things we wanted to see was the World’s Largest Brick. I put a picture of that in my last post, but that was a disappointment. It wasn’t even a real brick. It was a brick-like shape made of regular bricks. There wasn’t even a gift shop where we could get brick t-shirts. Fortunately, some of our other stops more than made up for the brick bullshit.

Felix had to eat at this pizza place advertising the Periodic Table of Toppings

We went to a cave, which was fun. And we went on a hike in a beautiful mountainous area where there were ROCKS. Understand, we live in probably the flattest place on earth besides maybe the Florida Keys. It’s so much fun to see actual topography and something other than sediment. Felix and I, particularly, were ecstatic.

We saw a huge statue of Vulcan. There was a cool science museum/center, which kind of traumatized us all. By that point, we were all a bit tired and this place was full of kids on field trips. We did see one of those IMAX shows on asteroids. It showed footage from the day Felix came into the world; on that day, a large meteor struck Russia. We had a HUGE view of all the windows blowing out front the shockwave. He was over the moon, and for a time demanded that we call him the God of Death. Yeah son, not gonna happen.

What was no doubt the highlight was this crazy “safari park” we stumbled upon. I don’t think any of us were expecting much, but this will go down as one of the most crazy, surreal, and startling experiences. We have a safari-type park near our house. You load up into open air wagons pulled by a tractor and get pulled around a bunch of animals, feeding them. The park has llamas, zebras, cows…your typical herbivores. It’s fun. This? Next level.

His head was IN MY CAR

They let you drive your own car through the park, which just seems mad. Your only instructions are to stay on the path, stay in your car, keep your windows down, and don’t open the car doors. I don’t even know what all was in that park. From the moment we tried to go through the first gate, we had giant animal heads in the windows. I was afraid to roll forward, as these animals would rush the car wanting food. The llamas, in particular, would deliberately stop in front of the car so I had to brake. Then their comrades would flank my vehicle. It was like something out of a more modern, gentle Jurassic Park.

It was an experience. Emus are rather prehistoric-looking, speaking of dinosaurs, and there were some horned beasts I can’t even identify that were rather scary. Luckily their horns/antlers were so large that they couldn’t fit through the windows. The camels were assholes, and stole a bunch of our food buckets. There were bison, which fortunately weren’t interested in us. I may have had to floor it if that had happened. We took a lot of awesome photos and videos, many of the videos being NSFW because my mom kept screaming “Oh shit!” It was an awesome experience that none of us will forget. My car won’t forget it, either, as I still have strange nose print smears on the exterior.


So yeah. Not everything sucks. Just in case you were wondering.

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Another State of Grind

I get asked on a fairly regular basis about my blog. Am I still writing? The answer, of course, is no. I haven’t been. For the last 2 years, the world has been pretty much upside-down, and I had absolutely nothing useful, relevant, helpful, or clever to say about it. There were moments where I handled everything well, with humor and grace. There were moments when I did not handle everything well. Now? Things are returning to “normal” except they’re not.

We actually traveled for spring break. I don’t recommend the “World’s Largest Brick.”

Like everyone else on the f’ing planet, I’m tired. I have no tolerance, no extra energy. Things that I used to be able to do with minimal effort now feel just so very hard and exhausting. I’m sad. I’m angry. Yes, there are good things, fun things. We’re out in the world again, traveling and experiencing life. My kids are going to school again without masks. Everyone is vaccinated. But everything is just different except the things that should be.

There is always jackassery

Case in point, work. One of the positives about the pandemic was that many of us (office monkeys, I mean) demonstrated we could work from home very well – even better than sitting in our cubicles for 8 hours a day. But the second they were able, the powers that be crammed us back in. And even things like a sick/quarantined kid don’t make a difference. Sure, we worked from home for months. But now, we have to take leave if our kid needs to stay home for a valid reason. It defies reason. Where we could have seen and made real, compassionate changes, we chose not to.

I’ve cut myself off from a lot of people. At work, there are people that are just awful. They gossip and complain about everything and everyone constantly. Before, I would tolerate the awfulness, even though they are what I would describe as “energy vampires.” It was that whole “we all have to get along” mentality. Now? I don’t talk to them. They don’t talk to me. Sure, it’s weird and awkward, but I don’t have the energy for that stuff anymore. I have to save my energy for the things and people that really need me – my kids, mostly.

Obviously work is probably my biggest complaint. It wasn’t great before, but it’s horrible now. And I’m stuck. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve looked at other things – going back to school to do something different or even going back into teaching – but none of those options area financially viable. I wish I was one of those people who was able to change careers during COVID. I’m not, obviously. It’s hard to make jumps like that when you’re married with 2 kids and in your late 40’s.

I want to get myself back. I want energy. I want creativity. I want inspiration. I want to crack jokes and be witty. I have to hope that some of that will return in time.

I feel you, Stella. I want off this ride, too.
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Tape Expectations (or Waist Not, Want Not)

I need to share my Friday night with y’all. I don’t know if it will make you feel amused, angry, sad, or some combination of the three. I’m still sort of trying to figure out my own feelings on the matter.
So it was Friday – yesterday – after the hell of yet another flooded carpool. I swear, someone somewhere disturbed a tomb or stole an idol doll and the spirits are PISSED. Carpool is downright cursed. There was no way we had the time or energy to get to jiu jitsu, which we’re trying to get back into after a year off due to COVID. There was nothing for it. I set about making dinner, pretty relieved to have survived the week and the first 3 days of the new school year. Stella came into the kitchen and asked for duct tape, a rather unusual request. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure where it was and even if we had any, but that her dad had a big old tape bin in the other room. At the very least we had packing tape. Maybe that would work? She seemed pleased with that answer and went away.

I should have known something was up. I heard her go into the bathroom several times, locking the door behind her. That’s not that unusual, but the frequency should have been an alarm. My mom Spidey-senses weren’t on point.

As I was finishing dinner, she came into the kitchen wearing only shorts and a sports bra. She had apparently found duct tape – pink with white hearts. She had wrapped her entire mid-section in it, effectively making herself a corset. She said she did it so that she would look thinner. She looked at me expectantly. I’m not sure what reaction she was expecting, and I had no idea which reaction to give. Part of me wanted to laugh hysterically. Part of me was pissed. Part of me was absolutely gutted that my beautiful 10 year old daughter taped her fucking waist up to look skinny.

She said she just wanted to be thinner and beautiful. I told her she was perfect the way she was – that she was beautiful the way she was. I reminded her that her body is changing, big-time, and that it was going to look different along the way. All of that is normal.

I actually stayed pretty calm, which in retrospect, I’m kind of proud of. I asked if she had thought about how she was going to remove all that tape. Her eyes widened. She hadn’t thought about that. She set about trying to peel tape off. It went well until she got to the tape that was actually stuck to her skin. Then it got complicated. She managed to clear a small area, howling all the while, and it looked like someone had given her a hickey on her side when she was done. Peeling that shit off without assistance wasn’t going to work. Duct tape is waterproof, so soaking in a bath wasn’t going to make it release. We needed a solvent.

While some cod and carrots overcooked in a pan, I began to pour small amounts of 70% isopropyl alcohol along the top edge of the tape, then gently tried to peel about 4 layers of tape off. It took forever but it worked. I managed to dislodge a small bit, then we took a dinner break. I had a drink and steeled my nerves for the rest of it. I guess that’s one good thing about COVID: we have a ton of alcohol around the house, rubbing and otherwise. Getting the tape off my daughter took almost 2 bottles of rubbing alcohol, 2 cocktails for me, and the better part of an hour, as she cried and hollered through most of it. At the end, her skin was pink, but perfectly intact.

I have been so, so careful not to talk critically about anyone’s bodies in a negative way – my own, especially. Sure, I can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror, but she doesn’t know that. I know body dysmorphia is a thing, and I know from personal experience that girls are so vulnerable to it. We all want to look thin, flawless, with glowing skin and perky boobs. That ain’t what most of us get, and if we do, we don’t get to keep it. I guess I was hoping things were at least a little different for this generation of girls. Nope.

I’m angry and sad about this. I’m not sure what to do about it other than to point out that everyone – Stella included – is beautiful in their own way. I don’t know how to make her believe it, however, and that’s the part that breaks my heart in a way that duct tape won’t fix.

Sorry for another emo blog. At least I didn’t bitch about COVID this time?

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Here Are Some Deep Seething Exercises

I’m not sure why I’m posting this today, exactly, only that it’s one of those times where I feel like if I don’t spew some of this out I’ll burst.

Here’s Felix demonstrating his feelings about the state of things

So what’s been going on? Well, to summarize, COVID raged through my kids’ summer camp at the end of June. They didn’t even make it 2 weeks before it happened. First, it was Felix’s group. Then Stella’s. Stella definitely tested positive (and felt poorly for a few days, losing her sense of smell for a few weeks), and we don’t know about Felix. CVS lost his first sample. His second sample a week later came back negative. I emailed HR where I worked, honestly expecting some understanding. When Stella’s homeroom had to quarantine last November, they were more than willing to allow me to work from home full-time for 2-3 weeks. After all, we had all just worked full time from home for quite a while, and IT WORKED. Stuff got done. This time? Nope. I had to take a shit-ton of leave to stay home with my kids who are too young to be vaccinated, much less left home alone. I had no one that could help out, as my in-laws aren’t vaccinated. We couldn’t take that risk.

Y’all, I was and am seriously pissed about that, and call me petty, I’m having a hard time letting that go. I am just now getting caught up at the office and am much lighter in the leave department. I guess that’s not too catastrophic (right now) since we just cancelled yet another visit from my mom – the 4th since this all started. We were to have taken a road trip this summer in early July (cancelled since Stella had COVID), and now a Labor Day visit is off due to our out-of-control case count here in Louisiana. Has my HR seriously remained this antiquated? Have we not learned anything from this? We can pivot and do things differently. Taking that on board and allowing workers to adjust when necessary would have been a positive change. I guess I expect too much from these people.

What I’m most pissed about is the lack of planning and guidance. My kids just started school 2 days ago. Already the app for Stella’s school is pinging me with “an individual at our school has tested positive” alerts. For all I know, we’ll have to quarantine again at some point soon. And then what? To my employer, and likely many others, this thing has ceased to exist and we should be back in the office full-time like nothing ever happened.

Sorry. I’m just so angry. I’m so anxious. I know I’m not alone.

But yeah, Stella is now in middle school, which is all by itself something of a mind fuck. Felix is in 3rd grade. We’re having to learn a whole new schedule are routine. Some demented asshole here decided that middle school hours should be 7:05 to 2:25 (elementary is 8:15 to 3:25, roughly). Given that I don’t want Stella on a bus (which would have to pick her up at 5:38 AM on the side of a busy road), nor does her bestie’s mom, bestie’s mom is doing the evil early daily morning drop-off. I get off work at 3:00, fly to pick up the Dude at elementary, and then race to pick up the girls from their school’s extended day program. I know it’s only been a couple of days, but it’s been pretty awful so far. Carpool has taken me total about an hour and a half each day. Part of that is no doubt first day issues. It’s like parents suffer from some sort of severe memory loss when it comes to carpool procedures (despite the fact that they haven’t changed in years and the school is quite good about sending out tons of emails and messages with diagrams, etc for the few noobs). They just can’t do it right. It’s maddening. We’ve also had some serious bullshit weather – we’re talking biblical level. The first day was lightning, pouring rain, and hail. Yesterday was flash flooding. Today will be what? Blood rain? Toads?

Obligatory First Day Pic

I know the school shit will become more…familiar, if not easy. Right now everything just feels exhausting.

We did at least make it up to Virginia to see my dad
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Note to Selfie

Greetings, salutations, whatever.

Things have been a struggle lately. I’m not going to lie. First it was trying to get used to the idea of everything being back to “normal” so very, very suddenly. So many people, so much talking. I don’t know about y’all, but that has been hard. And what about the 180 degree about-face? We went from creeping around behind masks and wiping down our groceries to back out in the world, bare-faced. It has felt too fast. Shouldn’t there have been a much more gradual reentry into the world? Did we even want or need to go back to normal?

One new thing that we have been embracing (when not stuck at home) is the new taiyaki ice cream place. So, so good!

I felt strange sending my kids to camp for part of the summer. Last year, we had all summer together, whether we liked it or not. It was a strange, wonderful, awful, scary, special time. I felt as if I was going to miss them and miss that time this year, despite the fact that I’ve never had regular summers off with them. But then I ended up with a whole lot of extra time thanks to COVID. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve been holed up at home for over a week now, with another to go. And work? Work has been a right and proper asshole about it. Rather than allow me to telecommute (**cough** like I did all last summer successfully **cough**), I’ve been forced to take leave to stay home with my minor children who are too young to be vaccinated, much less be home alone. God forbid we learn something from this whole experience, like how to be humane and compassionate to working parents/moms. But that’s ok. Because of the whole quarantine thing, we had to cancel that road trip we were going to take with my mother, anyway, so I had that leave I was expecting to use for vacation to use as sit-around-with-your-kids-stuck-at-home time.

Sorry. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. How could we learn nothing? People are so disappointing. What’s that old saying about the only thing you can count on other people for is letting you down?

It’s a cold, hard world, kids.

I’m trying to bootstrap my mood and make the best of all this. We’ve been taking walks to parks, doing scavenger hunts, and such. We’ve been doing science kits. We’ve been swimming. We’ve watched movies. Stella hasn’t realized yet that we’re not going to Memphis and Huntsville with my mom, but she’ll figure it out soon. I want to have some fun things she can remember about this whole thing rather than the trip she lost. I need to come up with some cool shit to do next week. We won’t have the time for theme weeks like we did last year, but we can do theme days. It’s just my creativity tank is pretty damn empty.

Yeah, Dude. I know.

Ideas, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

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Better Isolate Than Never

Reentry continues. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m seriously struggling with being around so many people. I don’t hear about any studies looking at that, but it’s a damn thing. We’ve all been isolated for a year or so, and it’s now kind of creepy and irritating to be out with the heaving masses. I had to fly recently due to a death in the family, and while logically I knew I was as safe as possible (masked and vaccinated), I still hated every minute of it. I could almost see the bacteria in the air, feel the viruses. And I’m so much more sensitive to people noise now. They’re ramping up occupancy at the office, and the extra chatter sets my teeth on edge. I realize that I’m an introvert and that there are a whole lot of extroverts in the world who have been choking on all the unspoken words in their heads, just waiting to spew them out at the first available body, but damn. I clearly need to work on my resting bitch face.


We’ve also reached that point in the school year when everyone is just DONE. Poor Stella is dealing with standardized testing, the results of which will probably not be used, so what the fuck is the point? It also sucks for Felix, as the younger kids have to be SUPER QUIET so as to not bother the testing kids and their ancillary/fun classes are cancelled, as those teachers are needed for testing.


One thing we have going for us is the backyard.  No, I’m not talking about the grass that needs to be cut or the fences that need to be replaced.  The pool is now up!  Y’all, it’s amazing.  It’s a game-changer.  Sure, it always had been, but with the addition of a year’s worth of maturation, my kids now go back there after school for a couple of hours and swim without adult participation.  That is HUGE.  For the past 2 years, Felix would only get in if I got in also, or if there was an extra kid visiting.  Now?  He and Stella are so damn happy to be in the pool that my existence is arbitrary.  They swim away the frustration of their school day while I get to cook dinner and straighten up in peace. 

And the Doomsday Garden in thriving. The Lettuce Shop of Horrors has been closed. We needed the space for more squash and zucchini plants, and honestly, the Louisiana sun was starting to get too intense. Oh, and I now hate the sight of lettuce. We harvested the last of it and turned it into more lettuce soup. Y’all, the last of the lettuce filled and entire Home Depot work bucket. To hell with lettuce. Anyway, I think we’ve already harvested a few pounds of green beans, and we’re about to crushed by tomatoes and squash. Send recipes now. I may have to take up pickling and canning.


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Lettuce Shop of Horrors

So how are y’all doing? It’s been challenging, thinking about a blog during all this. I had a one-year anniversary of our lockdown post all mapped out in my mind. I even had a title, “Lend Me Your Years,” but then I ended up getting my vaccine on that very day: March 13th. That was a surreal day. I got the Johnson and Johnson, so one and done. And fortunately for me, I’ve not clotted. That’s sarcasm.

This whole thing is a strange…thing. Getting back out is hard. The stuff that I would have done in a typical day pre-COVID now wears my ass out. I used to be able to bounce from work to dinner to homework to the kids’ jiu jitsu practice and still have energy left over. Now? The thought of going to the grocery store AND the pharmacy is just too much. I joke that I’ve always been a bit misanthropic. COVID has not helped that, what with the anti-maskers and such. I’m downright feral now.

One amazing thing is that since our vaccines, I got to see my mom again for the first time in 15 months!❤️❤️

But we all are facing this kind of shit. Not blog-worthy.What is a bit unusual or different? My husband’s Doomsday Garden. I had one last year in my flower bed. Given all the chaos and horrible shit going down, I planted a bunch of random stuff. We ended up buried in something called lemon cucumbers. I learned to make homemade pickles. Will has one-upped me big-time. He tilled up about 1/3 of our backyard and created a serious garden, complete with raised rows covered in weed block, with stainless steel support fencing. It’s massive. There are over 100 plants, all thriving.

We will soon be drowning in tomatoes, but now? Lettuce. I always thought of lettuce as being this delicate, fussy plant, that would rather grow in Alaska than the heat of Louisiana. Nope. This shit is like Harry Potter level, y’all. We have about 10 bunches, and as soon as you cut it, it comes right back. Mind you, it’s beautiful stuff – the fancy kind, with some leaves in red, some with delicate ruffles, etc. But I cannot even think of salad right now. We are saladed OUT. In my wisdom, I started looking for alternate recipes that might use a lot. Somehow, I stumbled on an Epicurious recipe for lettuce soup. Yes, you heard me right. Lettuce soup. On the positive side, it uses up a whole lot of my green nemesis. It doesn’t taste bad, per se, and Stella actually loves it. It also most definitely has fiber in it. Oh yes. That should not be called into question. The negatives? Well, the texture is a bit off-putting, particularly once it cools. In the fridge, it basically resembles Hulk-colored pudding. I just can’t. If y’all know of good lettuce recipes that are not soup or salad based, let me know?

Stella and her lettuce-loving spirit animal
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The Luck Stops Here

Y’all know I’m a science-type person.  I pretty much always scoff at superstition, “old wive’s tales” (with the caveat that those wise ladies often knew what the hell they were talking about, even if they didn’t have the fancy jargon and data to explain it properly), and generally anything not measurable by modern technology.  All that being said, I’m taking no chances right now.

After the universally-maligned phenomenon that was the Great Dumpster Fire of 2020, I’m pulling out all the stops.  I have a skull wreath that my mom bought me ages ago, and I decorate it for whatever season is upon us – or whatever strikes my fancy.  I hereby decree this the season of “international good luck.”  I ordered good luck charms from multiple cultures across the globe.  One might work, right?
My mom also sent me the David, Patron Saint of Ew candle.  I figure that kind of goes with the theme.
On January 1 (yesterday), I cooked all the supposedly lucky food: cabbage, black eyed peas with pork, and corn bread.  I had read something about 12 grapes, but I didn’t have that.  Instead, I drank the champagne last night that I didn’t drink on New Year’s Eve due to awful weather (and going to bed by 9:35).  Since champagne is a grape-based product, I figure I ticked that box as well.
I think we all realize things won’t be magically different over the course of a few days, but I gotta have hope.  We’re about to pop out for a quick overnight surprise trip for the kids before things get back to the new, new normal next week.  I hope y’all had a happy-ish New Year celebration.  Now no one be assholes.  We need all the good karma we can get. 
I leave you with Felix, doing some kind of dance of supplication to some force out there. Surely this must also be lucky.
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