Lost

I didn’t write much of anything last week because I didn’t want to write about this, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to. I still don’t feel much like writing, honestly, but maybe some catharsis will help. Last Wednesday, after a full day of hustling and bustling for everyone, late at night Matt realized our cat Marbles wasn’t home. I thought maybe he got locked in the basement — he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere nearby, outside, and I actually hadn’t seen him at all that day. Matt was sure all three cats were around for dinner time the night prior, so at some point on Wednesday, he disappeared.

As people with three indoor/outdoor cats, a missing kitty is a risk we take every time we open the door, but until now, Marbles has always come home. He’s wandered, yes, and got himself into and out of some sticky situations, but despite our very best efforts to locate him, he’s still gone. We’ve been searching, followed cat tracks, left out food and things that smell like home, put up posters, emailed vets and shelters, but nothing. I’m heartened by the social media response of people in this town to missing pets, and we have a lot of people keeping their eyes out, but still — nothing.

1173012_789520354433659_1541423067_n

Every time I walk by a door, I hope he’ll appear. Every time I pull into the driveway I hope he’ll be sitting on the window ledge waiting to be let in.

Cat-shaming-3-750x1129

At this point we have had to accept that it’s equally likely that we will never see him again as it is that he’ll show up. There are lots of things that could have happened to him and all I can hope is that he comes back, and if he can’t come back, that at least he’s happy wherever he may be.

10666073_286121351587982_1451071651_n

It feels absolutely awful to not know where he is and know that we may never figure it out. There have been a lot of tears in our household over the last few days. I feel guilty, like I’ve let part of my family down. But I’m trying to remember this — we saved Marbles from the pound just before he was scheduled to be put down. That was in 2011, and he has had almost four years with us, free to eat well, get lots of belly rubs, and enjoy a good life. Matt asked me, if we knew back then that he would one day disappear, would we still say yes? And the answer to that is of course. If someone returned him tomorrow and told me he’d go missing again in another year I’d say yes.

7982367750_76d4a963ca_c

The first day he was allowed to come upstairs to our bedroom he spent a solid hour purring and attempting to lick my hair. He didn’t just tolerate M’s brutal petting — he actively sought her out.

10251447_625565540861012_1396022430_n

I once watched him attempt to jump out of a closed upper-story window. He chased invisible things in the snow. He was friends with everything and everyone. He loved being outside.

10369356_652522081494538_1140462662_n

925784_1467457743483813_1659369678_n

I had to put all of that in the past tense and it hurts. Please keep our buddy in your thoughts.

Marbles-Outside-7-750x498

“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”― Irving Townsend

Posted in Life | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Not a Book Report: Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer

I’m not usually one for YA, but I requested this book at our library because I (in a nebulous internet-y way) know the author, and tons of my friends have read it and loved it! The library decided to purchase a copy and it came in just in time for our beach vacation. I thought I could maybe read it on the beach, or at least sitting outside, but ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting, after M and Matt went to bed — I stayed up super late one evening because I wanted to know how it ended!

I should say this — I’m terrified of physical library books because the responsibility is too crushing. I have flashbacks of losing school library books, and that’s why I use my library card for e-books. The fact that I picked this one up as a real book is a testament to how much I wanted to read it, and also, I freaked out when my water bottle leaked in my bag on one of our flights (picture me frantically yell-whispering over sleeping M, “THAT IS A LIBRARY BOOK!!!“).

So – Open Road Summer is the story of two teenage best friends, Reagan and Dee, a reformed bad girl and a country music superstar, who set out on a summer road trip. Naturally they fall into lots of drama along the way, with various love interests and teen angst. It actually made me kind of nostalgic for being 17, and I can assure you that I was no superstar at 17! It also made me miss my best friend.

This was an easy read, lighthearted and sweet, well-written, and I bet actual young adults would love it too. But even if you’re not the target demographic, you’ll probably find something you enjoy in Open Road Summer.

Rating: 4/5 Marbles

Marbles starMarbles starMarbles starMarbles star

On that note — I need to read more! I’ve fallen behind on my list. My February book club pick came free too late for me (I could have tried to read it all in one night for the discussion the next day but was too tired). Our March book is The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and I should really get on it.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Review: Live Clean Baby Perfume-Free Products

Things are busy at our house these days. With Matt starting a new job, and transitioning into shift work, and M back in daycare, we’ve been all over the place in terms of routine and organization. I’m about to take over bath time duty some of the time (it used to be solely Matt’s domain) so this shipment of Live Clean Baby Perfume Free Baby Lotion and Perfume Free Tearless Shampoo & Wash sort of felt like a well-timed Hey everyone, don’t worry, new things can be fun to try gift.

Live Clean Perfume Free (2)

Continue reading

Posted in Ad-Free, Health & Wellbeing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Landscape Inspiration

We are hopefully going to have a bit more money and time to spend on landscaping this year. We did a lot last year — we hacked down a bush and rediscovered and mostly rehabilitated the tiered garden, and planted a lot, and throughout fall Matt thinned out a lot of trees, but there is still a lot of work to do.

One of our biggest wishlist items is a proper patio this year. The faded, half-rotten green painted wood deck is not very practical. It isn’t large enough to comfortably hold patio furniture, and stuff grows out between the planks. I’m scared of what we’ll find under there, to be honest. We would love to have flagstones to match our fire pit area, but will probably end up with a paver patio instead.

PaverPatio

From Hometalk

A paver patio could still link up to the fire pit area, hopefully without looking to strange or abrupt, and expand where we can entertain, dine, and otherwise hang out outside. We’d like to get some furniture, and a proper place for the barbecue, and I want to incorporate some walls or other structures for a) privacy, and b) a place to grow plants!

Colorful-Plastic-Adirondack-Chairs-for-Outdoor

From LA News Talk

Speaking of furniture — I would like to be able to sit around the fire pit this year in something other than falling apart camp chairs. I know Matt is into the idea of building wood chairs, and I fully welcome those if/when they arrive, but in the meantime, bright, happy plastic Adirondack chairs are something like $25 each at this point, so I think it may be worth picking up a few at some point.

As for gardening, I talked a bit on Monday about planting plans, but that was mostly in regards to veggies. For our tiered beds, I know we aren’t going to get around to rebuilding them this year. They’re choked with roots, and the wood planks holding them together are somewhat tenuously attached, which is why we jammed in some steel bars to reinforce them last year and covered the soil with mulch to support container plants. It worked well, but I want something a bit showier this year, so I’ve asked Matt to build me a few simple wood planter boxes — not very tall, but long, set up at the edge of the middle tiers with, perhaps, a bit of space behind to walk. In those I’m hoping to plant Tidal Wave petunia starts if I can find them at a nursery around here.

midwest-garden-petunias

From Angie’s List

These guys spread out and up, so I’m hoping they’ll tumble down over the planter and some of the wall, making it look like we actually have flowers planted in the ground rather than a mish-mash of colourful planter containers.

white-lights

From Bright Bold Beautiful

Garden lighting — we need it, if we’re going to spend time out there! We have a few sad solar lights we found in the yard when we moved in, but I would like to string up some lights in the trees (AFTER the caterpillars have cocooned for the season), maybe a few staked lights around the fire pit, and something on the patio if we get it done.

Other things on our wishlist include fixing up and moving the clothesline, clearing out a spot on the top of the hill for a hammock, swing, or chairs (I’m envisioning a small deck platform but I don’t know if that’s part of Matt’s idea or not), fixing the corner garden that was neglected last year, and overall doing more work cleaning up the overgrowth and weeds all over the place. We need to build a fence in the front yard if we ever want to let M out that way (there’s a very tall drop off of the retaining wall right now), and I would still like to work on landscaping the front with some shade friendly plants, and perhaps a small seating area. The fence is up there on the priority list but everything else is just daydreams for now!

I’m not sure how much of this we’ll actually accomplish, but it’s all part of the grand plan.

Posted in Home & Garden | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Getting Ready for Gardening

When I was a kid I would eagerly await the arrival of the Dominion seed catalogue. I’d go through and ‘help’ my mom pick out the seeds for her flower garden — really I just pointed out the prettiest flowers — with very little actual knowledge of how growing from seed works.

Last year we bought a few seed packets in person, mostly Burpee seeds, and set out on our first real gardening adventure together. We only had a few Jiffy indoor seed starters and got our direct sow things in way too late, but we managed to get a decent harvest for what we had planted and when.

This year we’re a bit more on the ball, although we still don’t have the indoor growing infrastructure we’d like — next year, maybe, we’ll work on some grow lights and more space, because this year we’ve just upped the Jiffy pots with crossed fingers that the cat and toddler combo will not lead to a bunch of dirt on the floor given that we only have two available windows that are somewhat out of reach.

I ordered a bunch of seeds from Veseys, which has a Canadian site, and I’ve dug through what we have in the freezer from last year in hopes that they’ll still be good. I have a few more seed packets to grab in person, and a few things to hopefully get from nursery starts when the weather warms up. Here’s our tentative veggie growing plans, as well as a sneak peak of some of our flower contenders for this year.

Greens

This year we’re planting out the leftover Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seeds from 2014 (though if I see Simpson Elite seeds in person I might try them). I was really happy with this lettuce so we’re sticking with it. I’m also trying Bopak Bok Choi, which should be interesting, and Responder spinach. I’m most excited to try the Veseys microgreens mix — it’s kohlrabi, red cabbage, tatsoi, mizuna, blue kale, red kale and red giant mustard that you plant in a shallow tray, then raze down once you’ve got true leaves, rinse and repeat.

Veggies

For planted veggies we’re also bringing back last year’s Little Finger baby carrots, but this year I’ll do a better job of thinning them. We want to try Purple Haze for full-sized carrots! I picked up Minuteman cauliflower seeds and we’ll see if I’m successful with them. Parade bunching onions were Matt’s idea, as well as this Kossak kohlrabi (no idea what to do with this stuff). We’ll plant a few of last year’s De Cicco broccoli seeds, and try out Tiara cabbage.

Container/Pole

Some things we’ve decided to switch up. Last year my tomatoes turned out terribly so this year I’m going to try Tumbling Toms in a hanging basket or two — same with the cucumbers (I forget what variety I bought but it may be Spacesaver). Matt wants a few paste tomato plants for ketchup, though, so I guess I’ll be looking for an indeterminate variety! We’re growing a lot more peas and beans this year, focusing on climbers and likely growing them up a structure like a large teepee. We have Super Sugar snap peas, Monte Gusto beans, Kentucky Blue Beans, and Tall Telephone peas ordered, and I have leftover Wando peas if we want to use them (plus Contender bush beans if we REALLY want beans, haha!).

Flowers from Seed

And finally, a few flowers to start from seed/direct sow. We have last year’s mixed marigolds along with this year’s vanilla variety, the Razzmatazz sunflower mix along with a few packs of last year’s Russian Mammoths, Benary’s Giant Zinnias (last year’s zinnias didn’t bloom!), and a total gamble, Antwerp Mix Hollyhocks. I have a pack of mixed poppies, climbing nasturtiums, and some cosmos and mixed flower blends too. We’ll see what happens!

Other than that, I know I’ll be getting portulaca and wave petunia nursery starts. I’d love to throw a few snapdragons and gazanias into the mix again, and in terms of veggies I might put on my brave face and try peppers from starts this year (last year’s pepper attempt was awful). I am also bound and determined to get a giant pumpkin or two growing. I don’t know what Matt is up to in his experimental garden other than that there are at least three kinds of super-hot pepper seeds sitting in my freezer and a few frozen strawberry pots in the garage.

And then there’s the herbs — I want tons of basil this year! We have a few things that survived winter indoors that we’ll probably harden off and send outside, and I’d like to get our creeping thyme patch back to good health in spring.

In a few weeks I’ll start the indoor sow seeds, and once the snow melts I’ll be tackling the rest. Matt has agreed to (attempt to) till the entire veggie plot area this year, so we’ll have room for a few more things, and we may reconstruct the raised bed to make it a bit prettier, but that space should be available for veggies, too.

It’s almost gardening time, and I can’t wait!

Posted in Home & Garden | Tagged | 4 Comments