Thursday, April 29, 2004

VERY Bad Hair

We interrupt the recap of last weekend’s event for a very important rant.

Two universal truths govern my lifetime haircut experience: 1.) I cannot get a decent haircut to save my life; and 2.)The more I spend on one, the worse it will be. We have a couple of extra bucks lying around this month, so I decided to splurge. I took myself down the block to the little salon where I had my nails done this past holiday season. The nails were fabulous, so I figured the place could be trusted with a BIG job. I asked for a cut AND color. WHAT WAS I THINKING???

The Cut: Before I ever hit the door of this place, I had decided to be very assertive about what I wanted done to my hair. I tell the stylist to take a good look at the way I wear my hair, and REMEMBER it, because I want it to look exactly like this, only shorter, when he is done. My hair is (WAS) nearly shoulder length in the front, longer in the back, parted on the left side, with bangs sweeping across my forehead and blending into the hair on the right. (I wish I had a "before" picture…)  I tell him, "DO NOT  layer the back —my hair is already too thin and doesn’t need thinning. DO NOT cut it longer in the front, a la Catherine Zeta Jones in "Chicago." The last person who cut my hair did this, it might be very stylish, but it doesn’t work with my hair. Just cut it slightly shorter in the front, all one length in the back, and angle the front to blend in with the back."

What is there in what I said that translates to, "My deepest desire is to look like Dorothy Hammill"? That’s right…I have a "wedge." Now, back in the seventies, when wedges were in style, I thought they were cute. I never got one, though, for two reasons: I look terrible in short hair, and my hair is not thick enough to carry it off. Why didn’t I stop him? Well, he was doing all right in the front. Then he started in on the back... He hacked off this huge piece.  I stared wide-eyed as it hit the floor. What was I going to do? Tell him to put it back?

He spent a minimum of half an hour blow-drying it, determined to force my hair into this hideously outdated style that doesn’t work with my hair, my face, OR my life-style. When he was done, I looked like Bozo from the front and Peter Pan from the back. I tried to get him to fix the Bozo thing by feathering the front to blend in with the back. He’d cut some off, comb it out, and it would look exactly the same. It was bizarre. I finally told him to leave it alone, because if we cut anymore off, I’d be bald.

The Color: I have not had my hair professionally colored since 1989. I had a frost job done in a salon exactly once. It cost me sixty dollars, and ended up looking exactly the same as it did when I colored it myself with a $10 box of Clairol "Frost ‘n’ Tip." That put me off professional color jobs for a REALLY long time. Until yesterday. I decided to treat myself with a weave. Never had one. Thought it would be fun.

Mr. Stylist shows me this big card with curled up fake-hair color swatches on it. I had just been saying that I wanted golden blonde highlights, NOT ash-blonde. To me, ash-blonde looks gray...I have very little gray hair, and I want it to stay that way. He points to the card: "This is your natural color (a dark mousy brown.) Now this is what it will lighten to---(points to a color that looks like a dye job on a ninety-year-old Jewish matron in the Bronx. It is ash blonde.)  No, I tell him, THIS is what I want—and I point to goldy, coppery, yellowy colors on the card. After picking out the colors, we spend some time trying to determine HOW it should be applied. We decide on big streaks, NOT an overall blonde look, gold highlights.

He goes off into his laboratory to mix it up. Comes back with a bowl of goop. If the color of the stuff in the bowl is an indication of the final result, we are right on.

I didn’t get a chance to absorb the result at the salon, since he started butchering my hair immediately after rinsing out the goop. When I finally called a halt to him hacking on my hair, I TOLD him the color was fine, but the cut sucked. (Yes, I did use the word "sucked." He wasn’t very happy.) But when I got home and looked in the mirror, a slightly jowly Dorothy Hammill with bifocals was looking back at me…and there were no blonde streaks in her hair. In fact, you really couldn’t tell her hair had been colored at all.

When he ran my card, he mistakenly punched in 90 cents, insteadof $90. How very appropriate…it was WORTH 90 cents. I didn’t tip him. He wasn’t too happy about that, either. And I am saddled with this horrendous haircut for the summer. I’m rethinking my loathing of the Sinead O’Connor look….

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

More Fun in Astoria

I mentioned that my vehicle karma was totally screwed up over the weekend.  The incident with the trailer in the tent was not the last... 

On Thursday, the day we set up, the weather in Astoria was absolutely gorgeous.  Warm, sunny, not windy... NOT April weather on the Oregon coast.  The tent provided for us to set up under almost seemed unnecessary (but we knew better.)  Friday morning dawned dreary and wet, and as we drove out to the festival site, we were grateful for that tent.  It didn't occur to us that tents have no floors, and water runs downhill.  And pools at the bottom. 

Seems the rain was running down the parking lot and pooling...right in the middle of our space.  Our floor was covered by water at least an inch deep. A convection oven, a hot plate, and a warming oven are the key pieces of equipment in my business...all stainless steel, and all ELECTRIC.  I could see myself lighting up like a Christmas tree the minute I turned one of them on and touched it.  The whole previous day, in the midst of the debacle with the trailer, I had maintained a professional calm.  But, faced with the choice between electrocution or abandoning the event,  I COMPLETELY freaked out.  Just lost it. 

We kept trying to sweep the water out under the kept coming back in. Other people, including the electrician, assured me that with everything grounded and with GFCI's on the outlets, electrocution was not a danger, but I could NOT make myself touch any of that equipment until I was out of the water.  We put our minds to devising elaborate schemes of standing on stools and pallets (how fun would THAT be when it got busy?)  ...thank God it stopped raining about an hour after we got there, and the water gradually receded.  I honestly don't know what I would have done if it hadn't.  And it didn't rain at all the rest of the weekend, which was also a godsend.

I would like to say the rest of the day went off without a hitch...and it did.  Almost.  End of the day comes, we are tired and mostly stressed out...  (Oh, just a little sidebar...I started a period that afternoon.  Haven't had a period in almost a year.  Wasn't THAT a welcome event--NOT!)  So, now I'm tired, stressed, bleeding to death, AND I have cramps.

My sister and I trudge the quarter mile to where they made vendors park...where my van is precariously teetering at the lip of a ravine.  (I was NOT happy with the vendor parking situation, but that's yet another story...)  Anyway, we get in the van, start it up, put it in reverse...and it won't go anywhere.  The rear tire is spinning away, and we are going nowhere.  I put it in drive, try to go moves not an inch.  I absolutely CAN NOT believe that we are stuck here on this f***ing hill in the dark with no one around to help after the day I've had... 

I decide to rock it...forward, reverse, forward, reverse....nothing.  We put a piece of plywood under the spinning just kicks it out and continues to spin.  I'm about in tears when a man walks up (does this look like a recurring theme?) and offers to help.  He gets behind the wheel and has the same luck I've been having.  The wheel is spinning away, and now blue smoke is pouring out from uner the van.  Then he asks, are you sure you don't have the parking brake on?  NO, I DID NOT....The light dawns and the angels sing.  I had set the parking brake because I was afraid the van was going to go rolling ass-over-teakettle into that ravine.  And now I just want to throw myself over the edge into the ravine and never be heard from again.  The ONLY saving grace of this little episode was that we didn't have the audience we had for the trailer/tent performance.  It was just me, my sister, and that man.  And he'll never tell...bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha....      

Monday, April 26, 2004

Why Save the Best for Last?

Let's start with the best story first.

We're into our third year with the concession trailer.  I am an old dog, but I have learned some tricks...mostly by getting totally screwed in certain situations.  One thing I learned the hard way is, it's never too early to arrive at an event to start setting up.  Early is good. Late is disaster.  We actually arrived LAST for set-up once during our first season, only to find all the other vending trailers had set up in a tight little group, they had given our spot away to another vendor, and there was no room left for us.  We ended up turning around and going home.  Some mistakes you only make ONCE...

It's been my policy ever since to arrive as early as humanly possible.  Which is totally against my nature, by the way.  I'm usually a "five minutes late is on time" sort of person.  So, we arrived in Astoria to set up the booth a full two hours before the appointed time.  Maybe a little overkill.... 

We were to set up in the outside portion of the festival, which was contained under a huge tent that was at least 200 feet long and probably thirty feet wide or more.  As luck would have it, we were very nearly the first vendors to arrive, so I just drove my van and trailer right under the big top and parked next to our assigned spot.  With several pieces of big, heavy restaurant equipment, the closer we can maneuver the trailer to our ultimate destination, the better it is---for me and my little 120# skinny weakling of a sister.   I had a moment's hesitiation about this, because it was obvious that I couldn't pull THROUGH the tent.  The other end only had an 8' clearance, and the trailer would never fit under it.  And there was no room to turn around inside.  I would have to BACK out the way I came in.  In my impatience to get to the job at hand, I figured I would think about that when the time came (a la Scarlett O'Hara), put it in "drive" and sallied forth. 

I'd like to say we flexed our muscles and got that trailer and van unloaded by ourselves in record time...  However, there were a bunch of men around setting up another booth, and they kept asking us if we needed help.  Who was I to say"no?"   It's all good.  I'm not such a militant feminist that I can't take advantage of men wanting to feel  Especially if it somehow makes MY life easier.  I think this must have pissed off the goddess, though... 

After a couple of hours spent arranging and rearranging the equipment to fit into the VERY confining boundaries of our assigned 10 x 10 foot space, I started to get antsy about getting the vehicles out of the way to make room for other vendors.  I very deftly hitched the trailer back onto the van, climbed in behind the wheel, and tried to back it up the thirty yards or so I needed to get out of the place.  This is when I found out that I CAN NOT back that trailer up in a straight line.  I'd back up about fifteen feet, start to swing one way or the other, curse, pull forward to straighten it out, slam it into reverse, get about twenty feet before the rear end started to swing out of line again...  All this with a bunch of men smugly watching me confirm their conviction that a woman is not in posession of enough of the right hormones to perform this particular task. 

Finally, I looked over at the chief of the event set-up crew and said, "Would you like to do this?"  half believing he would think I was joking and decline.  To my surprise, he said, "Sure."  I couldn't jump out from behind the wheel fast enough.  I have enough sense to know when I'm licked.  "(S)he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day..."

End of story, right?  What could possibly be more embarrassing than having to hand  my vehicle over to a stranger to get me out of a jam?  Well, try this:

Mr. Event Crew Chief competently backs the rig all the way to the entrance of the tent where I pulled in...and stops.  Lo and behold, the air conditioning unit on the top of trailer is about to get sheared off by the support bar of the tent.  Funny, the van went under it when I pulled in...the van and trailer with their 3000# load of equipment and supplies.  Now they are empty...and they are taller....and they are NOT getting out of that tent. 

We tried a few little tricks.  Got ten people to get inside the trailer to provide some weight.  Nope.  Took off a low-hanging bar that held the "sliding door" mechanism of the tent entrance.  Almost, but not quite.  Finally, we ended up using the old semi-drivers' trick...we let the air out of the tires on the trailer.  Enough to get it, sneak it, squeak it just under that stinkin' bar.  The whole operation took about twenty minutes, but it felt like HOURS.  While the other vendors danced around fuming that they couldn't get in because I couldn't get out.  Did I now feel like a complete and utter incompetent idiot?  Was I looking for a HUGE rock to pull my van, my trailer, and myself under when I finally got out of there?  You be the judge.

That evening on the phone, I had to ask the husband how many pounds of air were supposed to be in the trailer tires.  "Why?" he asked.  "They shouldn't be low on air." "Well," I replied, "they are when you let the air out of them..." and of course, let loose with the whole story.  He had the immense good sense not to laugh.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

We're Baaaack!!

Well, it is, 10:25 pm on Sunday.  We're home from our first weekend event of the season.  I'm not gonna tell all about it right now...too TIRED.  GOTTA get some sleep.  Suffice it to say it had its ups and downs.  I had some kind of loss of cosmic connection with my vehicles, resulting in some highly amusing (and embarrasing) episodes, which involved playing the "poor stupid female" card (something I would normally rather walk over burning coals than do...but when the shoe fits, occasionally you just have to wear it!)  We watched approximately 500 "live Dungeness Crab Races", won numerous packages of napkins and paper towels by successfully throwing rolls of TP through an open toilet seat target, got tempted by the devil at the Presbyterian pie booth, wished with all my heart for a high-powered rifle to use on a crow at 6:30 this morning...and other misadventures.  All of which I fully intended to write about every night, until I realized that this would require a telephone connection for my laptop...did you know that the State Park system in Oregon has not yet started to provide these?  I will have to attept to remember all the details and write about them during the upcoming week, between unpacking, banking, going to the pool, reviving my diet, applying to more events, doing more product research, and digging in the dirt.  But for now, all I can say is-----


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Lot of the Small Business Owner

I am the small business owner.  As such I wear ALL the hats.  I'm the baker, the bookkeeper, the marketing department, the teamster, the R & D Department, human resources, cetera et cetera ad infinitum.

We're doing what I hope will be our first big event of the season this weekend.  The Astoria Crab & Seafood Festival.  In Astoria (duh!)  Yesterday, we assembled, cleaned, and staged all the equipment for packing.  This afternoon, I prepared 130 pockets (pocket sandwiches---our main menu item) to put in the freezer to give us a jump start on Friday night's business.  I also baked, staged and photographed some of our products for signs that I am now burning the midnight oil trying to create.  Above is an example of my sign-making prowess.  It'll do.

Tomorrow, I have to track down an expensive banner I ordered, that I was SUPPOSED to get proofs of today to approve for final printing.  Well, that didn't happen, so God knows what the status of that project is.  Also have to do a final round-up of food and equipment, get all said equipment packed into the trailer and van, pack my clothes, meals, and other personal items into the trailer for when we are in camp (yes, folks, we CAMP when we're out on the road.  Helluva lot cheaper than motels.  And I actually enjoy it a lot more than staying in a motel...) 

Thursday morning, 9 am, we pull out of the driveway. God willing, nothing will break, fall off, or otherwise crap out on the van going over the passes between here and the coast.  We should arrive in Astoria by noon.  Set-up for the event starts at 1 pm.  My sister and I will roll all our insanely heavy equipment out of the trailer and get it set up.  The two of us put together weigh only a few pounds more than my husband, so this is always interesting.  It will take at least three hours to get everything "just right"...and then it's off to the campground to set up the trailer...and drink several glasses of wine. 

With all the pre-event work, the events themselves sometimes seem anti-climactic.   My main focus this year was going to be keeping tighter controls on my purchasing, but I've already spent so much money on signage and other special projects for this event, we'll be starting out the year in the hole once again. Ah well...keep your fingers crossed that I come home exhausted, empty and RICH Sunday night! 

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Bushes Full of Orchids

Ever since moving to Oregon 20 years ago, I've had a love affair going with Rhododendrons.  Living in the Midwest, I had no idea there were shrubs that flowered so extravagently.  I fell in love with these bushes that seem to sprout corsages of exotic orchids.  They come in a huge variety of colors and sizes.  You would think, just looking at them, that they belong in the tropics, or at least in California.  But  Oregon is lousy with them...they even grow wild in the coast forests.  They're cold-hardy, they transplant beautifully---you can dig them up and drag them all over the yard.  And they're evergreen...before I moved to Oregon, I had never heard of broad-leafed evergreen plants!  One of the many (million) jobs I've had was working at a nursery owned by one of the premier rhododendron hybridizers in the country (a very quirky little man, and his wife is certifiable...but I digress...)

Anyway, here is a picture of my earliest-flowering rhodie.  It lives in the row of bushes that I have growing along the fence in front of my house.  My only complaint about them is that I can't seem to assemble a collection that blooms all at the same time.  They will flower--one at a time (maddeningly)---from late March through June.  Oh gives me an opportunity to enjoy each one separately, I guess!

Friday, April 16, 2004

Journal Soup

I haven't been writing as faithfully as I once did...time was, I was adding two, sometimes three entries a day. (A bit overzealous, I'll admit...) Too much to do these days. The warm weather calling me outside (we had summer over Easter weekend...eighty degrees and SUNNY both Saturday and Sunday. You have no idea how NOT "early spring weather in Oregon" that is...) My season with my business got its little jumpstart this month, with a couple of small events in the first half of April, and a major one (I hope) coming up next weekend. And then there has been this decision about going to school...

But I've had little germs of journal ideas rattling around in my head, even if I haven't had the time or the energy to post them. None of them has made it much past the embryonic stage, though. So I'll just throw them all together into some "journal soup."

2 cups of politics:

The situation in Iraq has become absolutely appalling. Bush and his cronies had no idea what they were getting this country into when they attacked Iraq. Didn't want to know. Didn't take the time to try to understand the culture, the history of the region, figure out a REAL plan of how to replace Sadaam once they deposed him. This has been a cluster**** from the beginning.

I listened to some of the 9/11 hearings. To try to pin "blame" on any person, agency, or administration for not preventing 9/11 is foolish. Much as I cannot stand George W. Bush, his administration is not responsible for 9/11. He IS responsible for the hideous mess in Iraq, though, which has put our precious young people in harm's way for no legitimate reason (what WMD?), damaged (beyond repair?) America's reputation among the nations of the world, exposed our allies to the horrors of Al Quaeda terrorism (the train station bombing in Spain.) For that, the American people need to don their Donald Trump masks in November and speak the immortal words, "YOU’RE FIRED!"

2 tablespoons of housekeeping rants:

I cracked up when I read Karen’s entry the other day about all the horrible dust mites and germs that flourish in our homes. I have a hard enough time dealing withDUST, much less dust mites. I’ve mentioned that I redecorated my living room last year. I made the grave mistake of filling it up with dark cherry furniture. Shows every speck of dust, every cat hair, every finger and paw print. Definitely does not do well with my "break out the dust rag three times a year whether it needs it or not" housekeeping habit. What was I thinking?

Did you know that kitchens get dirty when you actually use them? Because of our diet, we’ve been eating at home the majority of the time. Up until now, eating at home was the exception…eating out was the rule. If I cooked one or two dinners a week, I thought I deserved the Good Housekeeping Seal. So, the diet is going well…but the kitchen looks like a battleground. I actually have to run the dishwasher more than twice a week! I have to shovel out the refrigerator weekly (such a glut of leftovers!) Dirt, stains and splats appear on the floor (I’m a somewhat sloppy cook.) The microwave…well, we won’t even GO there. Suzy Homemaker, I am not. But I have worked in commercial kitchens long enough not to be able to stand dirt and disorder in my work area. So, by golly, I clean it up. Every day. A novel experience, and somewhat of a pain in the butt.

1 teaspoon of gardening rant:

OMG my yard looks like hell! And up to now I have had NO desire to deal with it. I go outside with the dog, then throw my sweatshirt over my head and go back inside. SO much to do, and I’m on my own on that one. Husband wants nothing to do with weeding, planting, or clean-up. If there is a loud power tool involved in a project, he can be enticed to don garden gloves and pitch in. To be fair, the weather has not cooperated with my usual "spring garden work" timetable. There have been times when I’ve TRIED to dig in the dirt in April, only to find that it’s like putting my hands in crushed ice. So I’ve adopted the habit of doing the bulk of my garden clean up in May. Unfortunately, the weather has been downright summerlike this spring. Everybody else is out in their yards gardening feverishly. I’m sorry; I haven’t quite come out of hibernation yet.

Finish with a dollop of relationship rant:

I got into a small email argument with one of my sisters the other day. She was saying that when she went out to see Mom the previous night, Mom was really out of it and kept falling asleep. Then my sister discovered that her oxygen tank was empty. We’ve had this round and round argument going for months that my sisters need to get a doctor’s order to up my Mom’s dosage on the oxygen. She has had a LOT of problems lately that are directly related to poor oxygenation. Damned if my sisters don’t completely ignore me when I make suggestions, and sometimes take on a hostile, "you don’t know anything about it" attitude. I came within an inch of sending this message off to my sister: "I didn’t walk away from involvement in Mom’s care…I was PUSHED out. Never forget that. I don’t." Believe me, that little comment would have started World War Three… The peace is only maintained by my keeping my mouth shut. It ain’t easy.

So, there you have it. Journal soup. Enjoy!





Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I've Decided....

Well, folks, the "ayes" have it.  I'm going for it.  Or I'm gonna TRY, anyway.  The first big thing is to see if we can afford to pay for this spendy education.  I'm going to go talk to a financial aid counselor before the end of the week (I hope.)  If we can somehow massage this into a payment we can live with, the green light is on!

I wish I felt like I was getting a little more support from the husband.  I try to talk to him about the intangibles, but all he sees are the dollar signs.   He wants to know how much this certificate is going to increase my earning is it going to benefit my business?  What's the return on investment going to be?  When I tell him that at least half the value of this venture is going to be the investment in MYSELF--my self-esteem, my sense of accomplishment--he nods his head like he agrees...but the assent never reaches his eyes. 

He doubts me.  He doubts my ability to see the project all the way through to the end.  And I guess I can't blame him.  Based on past performance, I doubt myself.   I was not blessed with a naturally strong self-opinion. And many things have happened over the thirty-year span of my working life that have made me completely gun-shy.  I have this conditioned response when I run into anything that even hints of negativity or difficulty:  I drop everything and run in the other direction.   I've done this with several (hundred?) jobs, SOME classes, and many social situations.  So, why should this time--this incredibly expensive education--be any different?

Because I WANT it to be.  I know that I often allow myself to be a flake.  But I also know that I can make up my mind to DO something, and just DO it (hmm..that's a catchy phrase...maybe I should sell it?)  I've lost almost 50 pounds in the past three years.  I redecorated my entire living room by myself, on a budget, doing things like upholstering and creating art for the walls...things I'd never done before.  I've torn apart my house and my yard, and was able to start and complete projects successfully.  I helped my Dad to die at home.  I can do this.  All I have to do is WANT it badly enough.

Tonight, husband and I were having our weekly "talk."  The doubt was written all over his face.  When I started to talk about the "intangibles," his eyes glazed over.  But I came up with a couple of motivational tidbits that I had not thought of before.  Number One:  If I do this course, I will receive my certificate a little less than a month before my fiftieth birthday.  I can't think of a better way to kick that particular milestone in the ass.  How affirming will it be to begin my second half-century of life on this planet with a real accomplishment under my belt?  Number Two:  I thought about my dad.  I know that he would be in my corner.  I think it was a source of quiet disappointment to him that none of us ever pursued a secondary education.  I would dedicate this to Dad.  HE would be proud.

So, please think good thoughts, send me positive energy, whatever you can do, to lead me to finding the money to make this dream of mine become a reality.  I need all the help I can get! 

Marcie (punky5678--An Apple a Day) sent me a raft of inspirational material...I picked out this quote as my favorite:

           "When you reach for the stars,
you may not quite get one, but you won't    come up with a handful of mud, either."

- Leo Burnett

I LIKE it!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Help Me Out Here, Guys

I have a dilemma, with which I'd like to ask the help of all of you out there in journal land. 

I've been working in food service since I was eighteen years old...that's thirty years.  Like most people who work in restaurants their whole lives, my dream, since I was in my late twenties, has been to have my own place.   I'm particularly attracted to baking...I was the manager of a shopping mall store-front bakery for eight years back in the 80's/90's, and it was the best job I ever had in my life.  I have my concession trailer, now...that puts me about half-way to where I really want to be.  What I REALLY want is my own "premises", either a bake shop or a catering kitchen to work out high-end catering...make some REAL money at this--and do beautiful work that I can be proud of--instead of just messing around.

Here's the deal...we have in Portland, OR, one of the premier culinary schools in the nation--Western Culinary Institute.  They carry the internationally renowned "Le Cordon Bleu" curriculum.  I mean, this is heavy stuff in the culinary world.  They've recently added a "Patisserie and Baking" certificate program to their curriculum.  When I read about it, my eyes lit up.  I would LOVE to do this course and obtain this certificate.  It's a 36-week course, and then there's a six-week "externship" at some location across the country.  For me to want ANY kind of education this badly is truly unusual.  I have been keenly aware of my lack of formal training throughout my restaurant career, and, even at this late date, I would like to do it RIGHT.  And, I have always regretted never getting more than a high-school education.  I'm too smart for that, and I've known THAT for thirty years. 

So why not just GO for it?  Well, I called yesterday to get some information.  Chiefly, I wanted to know the tab for this course.  Okay, what would you think a class like this would cost?  $500?  $5000?   $10000?  Nope...the thing is....wait for's $20,920.  I very nearly swallowed my tongue when I saw that! 

I'm sorry, I come from the Land of "Cheap." Never buy the top of the line anything.  Always make do with the cheapest (whatever) you can get away with.  My parents were children of the Depression, and we've never been able to completely shake their parsimonious ways.  But, I'm not sure this is something I can afford to be cheap with.  This is my opportunity to get a REAL education in a field that I know I enjoy, and want to build something out of.  How much is an education like this worth?  I'm guess I'm not as afraid of spending the money, as I am of being ripped off.  I don't have the slightest idea what an education is worth in today's marketplace.  Let me also say that we don't have this kind of money just lying around...we'd have to take out a monstrous loan or try for some kind of financial aid.

Here are my questions for you all:  Have you been to college?  How long ago?  How much was the total tab?  Do you feel you got your money's worth out of it?  Do the intangible benefits of this kind of educational experience outweigh the financial benefits?  If you had an opportunity like this, would you go for it?  Should I go for it?

Any help/advice any of you can give me will be greatly appreciated. 

Monday, April 5, 2004

Garden Success

After the hideous, wintry January we had, I thought spring would take her sweet time getting here. But she arrived, settled in, and unpacked her bags in March, and seems ready to take up permanent residence.

I've written before about how absolutely HORRIBLE my garden soil is. I have had more failures here already in less than three years, than I had all totaled at four other addresses over more than twenty years. I've had trees, perennials, and annuals look puny, perform poorly, and out and out croak. The other day, I discovered that one of my cherished Japanese maples has died back almost all the way to the ground. Only the very bottom branch shows signs of life this spring. The rest is deader than a matchstick.

However, the pictures above are of my one startling success on this property. They are crabapple trees that I planted last spring. We got them at a close-out sale in the fall of 2002, for 75% off. Intended to plant them immediately, but like all my other plants, they had to endure the test of spending the winter in their nursery pots in the back yard. They survived the winter all right, even leafed out and bloomed come spring. Then, all at once, they dropped all their flowers and leaves---basically shed themselves of any sign of life. In a fit of "What the hell!" I planted them anyway. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was nuts, planting these obviously dead sticks in a prominent place between the back fence and the street, for all to observe and admire (smirk at?)

We faithfully tended those "dead" trees. Husband set up a drip irrigation system for them; I fertilized, weeded, and did everything but pray over them. Slowly, they rewarded our efforts by sprouting new leaves, and even a few late-season flowers. I worried about them over this past, nasty winter. Well, I'm here to tell you, they made it through in grand style.


Happy Things

Bald Eagle - Take Away

I’m stealing an idea from Karen again. At first, I thought, "Hey, you need to get your own ideas…" But then, it occurred to me that, being the slightly depressive person I am, I don’t spend enough time thinking about things that make me happy. Maybe this is an exercise I NEED to indulge in. So here they are, in no particular order--things that make me happy:

The barking of geese overhead, cardinals, spotting a bald eagle soaring over Multnomah Channel (or anywhere, for that matter), hummingbirds visiting my back yard, cornus florida (flowering dogwood) in bloom, reruns of my favorite mini-series (Centennial, Hornblower, Pride & Prejudice, Shogun), Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, birds eating peanuts from my hand, campfires, sleeping with my husband EVERY night, each returning bud and bloom in my garden, a good meal and great service at a restaurant, anything Christmas, letters or emails from my nieces, turning out a good meal (for me and hubs OR the old people), ICE CREAM, Dana’s cheesecake (a Eugene phenomenon), fitting into size "6" anything, sending my "fat" clothes to the Goodwill, Celtic music, the beaches of the Oregon coast, weeping willows just before they leaf out, drinking champagne with anything chocolate.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

But...What Does it Mean???

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Okay, here’s the thing: dead ladybugs. My bedroom carpet is dotted with them. What is up with this?

We’ve been through three winters in this house. I’ve become aware of a peculiar phenomenon in my bedroom. I get ladybugs. In the winter. I’m not sure where they’re coming from. Actually, I think they’re coming in from outside down the chimney in the fireplace. This must be the downside of having a fireplace in the bedroom…

Anyway, they fly around and live in the windows for a few weeks. And then they die. From hunger, I’m thinking, because there surely isn’t any ladybug food in my bedroom. (They eat aphids, I believe…) So these little black things I kept finding on the bedroom floor, and thinking they were sweatpant-lint (before I sucked them up in the vacuum) are in reality little ladybugs that have turned up their toes and croaked.

It makes me a little uneasy, somehow. A plague of dead ladybugs just does NOT seem like a good omen.