Randomness #7- Christmas of “Oh Well”

About six months after Hubby and I got married we had our first big disagreement: what do for Christmas.We both had our own traditions with our own families and neither wanted to give them up. It was my dad who suggested a compromise. We would see one family before Christmas, one family after, and do our own thing Christmas Eve and Day.

Then Daddy was diagnosed with cancer–Stage IV. So the compromise went out the window. We spent our first married Christmas with my family celebrating what would turn out to be Daddy’s last Christmas. We also spent the next year, the first Christmas without my dad, with my family. To balance things out, we spent the next two Christmases with Hubby’s family. So this year, our fifth married Christmas, we were evened out, back on track of our compromise and ready to put this plan into action. Spend Christmas together starting our own traditions.

We had great plans. Hubby wanted to build a gingerbread replica of our house on Christmas Eve, then we’d drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies, eat finger foods, open a couple presents, go to the eleven pm church service to ring in Christmas, wake up Christmas morning and open presents, eat breakfast, play, cook lunch, watch Les Mis, and chill that night with leftovers and the Grinch. The day after Christmas, we would hit up Lowe’s early and buy next year’s decorations cheap.

Oh, how naive we were.

Let me break down how this really happened.

Christmas Eve

We woke up kind of late. Oops.

We didn’t have all the ingredients we needed for gingerbread and lunch, so off to the store.

Finally, around 1 pm, we made it home and started the gingerbread. And by started, I mean we looked at the recipe and realized we’d have to double it to make a replica of our house. I began mixing dough while Hubby went back to the store. Then we realized our replica would mean an 11 inch wide house. 11 inches! Yeah, I put the kibosh on that idea. We scaled back to a more manageable 8×6 sort of replica–okay, it would have a porch. Hubby drew the pattern while I rolled out the dough. We cut each piece, which was way more time consuming than I thought. I made icing while the gingerbread baked. Then finally, finally, we got to the construction part.

Except the pieces didn’t all fit. So Hubby filed them down with a microplane. We put the house together (wrong the first time), decorated, and realized it was already 5:30 and we had grumblies in our tumblies (as my grandfather used to say). Oh, and we forgot that one of our finger foods, lil’ smokies in bbq sauce, was supposed to simmer for two hours. Oh well, at least we’d finished our first ever gingerbread house.

gingerbread house

Around 6:30 we sat down to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” while we ate, then realized we’d forgotten the hot chocolate. Oh well again. Two hours later we decided to watch “White Christmas.” Then we remembered we’d forgotten to bake cornbread for the Christmas lunch dressing. We only had an hour before the Christmas Eve service, so I mixed the batter and popped it in the fridge. Bad move. When we got home. the batter was too thick. I glopped it in the iron skillet and baked it. Did I mention it was after midnight? The cornbread looked weird, lumpy and white, but tasted fine, so we decided to roll with it and go to bed.

Christmas Day

We woke up and opened our presents from Santa. (You better believe Santa came! What’s Christmas without toys?). We ate some cinnamon rolls then opened our presents to each other. Hubby did FANTASTIC by the way. He surprised me for pretty much the first time ever, with an antique typewriter. I’ve wanted one for years. It’s SO. COOL. The original ribbon still kind of works, well enough for me to type some random sentences.

typewriter

Then we got to making lunch. Well, I started making lunch. Hubby forgot he’d planned to make egg nog. So he looked up a recipe while I started the dressing.

Except, my dressing recipe didn’t look right. In fact, it looked…oh no. I’d been going off the wrong recipe. No wonder the cornbread didn’t turn out right. I had to make another skillet of cornbread (the right cornbread) while cooking the rest of the dressing items.

Meanwhile, Hubby still worked on his egg nog. I pestered him to start the creme brulee, which had to chill for three hours. He made egg nog. Did I mention I don’t drink egg nog? I also asked when he needed to start the cranberry sauce. Didn’t it need time to set up? “It only takes ten minutes. I’ve got this,” he said.

I finally got the dressing together and in the oven. Hubby finally finished his egg nog and started clearing the table for lunch. Then started the creme brulee. We’d just have dessert after our Les Mis. No biggie.

But he beat the custard too long and it was, well, really foamy. As in, all foam. Oh well, we’d try it anyway. (It was turning into the Christmas of “Oh well”). Out came the dressing and in went the creme brulee.

I started cutting the ham, a pre-cooked Honeybaked Ham that we’d taken out of the freezer the day before. It was still frozen. Hubby started the cranberry sauce, then remembered it only took ten minutes to cook. He’d forgotten it had to chill.

So, by the time we sat down for lunch, the dressing had gotten kind of cold, the ham had to be microwaved twice, and the cranberry sauce was literally steaming. We decided to try it anyway, only to realize Hubby hadn’t added enough sugar. Talk about tart!

All we could do was laugh. We sat there with our hot, tart cranberries and cool dressing and just laughed. Oh well.

We cleaned up lunch and had a great battle with the lightsabers Santa brought Hubby, then with the Bop It game Santa brought me. Atticus roamed around in his Santa suit Hubby had found on sale and tried to eat the toy mice we’d gotten for the cats.

Santa Puppy

Then we bundled up and trekked to the movies to see Les Mis. The parking lot was pretty full, but we didn’t wor–Holy crap the line was out the door. Did I mention it was raining?

We decided to got to a different theater. I bought tickets online, reserved our seats–back row!–and we drove across town, bought our popcorn, found our seats–uh oh. Not the back row. The front row. We couldn’t even see the top of the screen! Frustrated at the theater’s poorly designed seating chart, we tried to swap our tickets for a later show, one that wouldn’t involve cricks in our necks from looking straight up for three hours. Sold out. Hubby got a refund and we decided to go back to the other theater.

On the way, Hubby realized we’d forgotten we were going to make gingerbread cookies for the neighbors. I’d mixed the dough the day before, all we had to do was bake it. So Hubby drove me home and I baked cookies for an hour while he bought the tickets in advance this time. (My first gingerbread cookies. They were delicious, I might add!).

We finally saw Les Mis, got home around 9:30, and settled in with a plate of leftovers and the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The real version, the cartoon, not that crappy one from a few years ago. We’d recorded it while we were at the mov–nope. Some stinking basketball game ran over and cut into the Grinch’s time. We saw five minutes of the Grinch before the recording cut off. At least Hubby’s creme brulee turned out, and it was pretty good!

It stormed something awful last night. The wind howled, our decorations blew across the yard, ribbons and bows came loose. There were tornadoes in some parts of the state. Neither of us slept. This morning, Lowe’s had already put away most of their Christmas decorations, so we didn’t really find anything we wanted for next year.

It wasn’t the Christmas we’d planned, but it was definitely one to remember. Our first Christmas on our own. Next year, we’ll plan better. We now know just how long gingerbread houses take, and that cranberry sauce needs to be cooked in advance. We’ll buy movie tickets ahead of time and probably just buy the Grinch. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but, for me, it was kind of just right.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Hanukkah, or at least a good vacation. For me, the vacation is over. I have a lot of revising left to do and I can’t wait to start writing again!

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Randomness #6- I’m Pretty Much Rambo

Several months ago, I wrote about Hubby’s fear of spiders and our incident with a black widow. Well, guess what we found in our garage last weekend?

Yup. Black widows. Tons of them! Under bags of mulch, in the corners, in boxes. Even in between the frame for the garage door and the wall. Hubby was obviously freaked. I’ll admit, even I was a bit unnerved. The black widow is the fourth most poisonous spider in the world. And we have an infestation.

Friday night, upon making this freaky discovery, we armed ourselves with a bottle of spider spray and attacked. Until we ran out, at which point, we raced to Lowe’s and bought more, raced back home and sprayed away…only to be enveloped in a cloud of poison. Yeah, we weren’t impressed with what we’d bought. The first stuff came out in a nice stream and took the little devils down. The new bottle embraced them in a fluffy cloud of death and rocked them into a gentle, but final slumber. Not exactly my idea of spider genocide. I’m not an arachnophobe but if I’m going to take them down, I want it to be swift and brutal, you know?

Hubby did surprisingly well, I might add. Offering to kill the little monsters himself (and of course jumping back and screaming whenever he saw one whilst spraying the poison like crazy). We finally gave up and got some sleep, resolving to try Home Depot for a different spray in the morning. Sleep didn’t come easy that night. My mind kept feeling spiders crawling across me, and then black widows crawled through my dreams.

Home Depot still didn’t have the great spray we loved, and we couldn’t decide which other kind to get. So we got two. A small bottle, and a giant couple gallon bottle with a long spray nozzle to reach in the corners. Armed and ready, we stalked back in the garage to uncover our prey.

All in all, I’d say we killed at least thirty of them before we realized what we really need to do is clean out the garage. So guess what we’re doing tomorrow? Hopefully, that will finish the job.

But, wait! That wasn’t our only trial of the weekend. We have an outdoor outlet on our back porch. It’s conveniently covered with a lovely lid that snaps shut to keep out the elements. Sounds great right? I thought so too. Until we discovered the wasps that also decided it was lovely and built a giant nest there. It took up the entire double outlet box. And that nice little latch? Meant we could only open it by hand.

Did I mention that Hubby is more afraid of wasps than spiders? I came home one day to find him cutting the grass with a can of wasp spray in one hand, pushing the lawnmower with the other because he’d seen one wasp.

They don’t bother me, so I undertook the task to eliminate them. (I might add that I’m terrified of roaches, rats/mice, and snakes–we all have our things). The problem was getting the outlet open. After pondering for weeks, Hubby finally found an old hoe and duct taped a hooked metal pipe to it. Oh yeah.

He stood inside the back door, ready to slam it if the wasps flew in. I had to make him move away before he slammed me! I balanced our new device in one hand and the spray in the other and after several tries, managed to pop the lid open and spray like crazy. You wouldn’t believe the carnage! And the nest was ginormous! I took a picture, but it’s a bit blurry.

Suffice it to say, I was pretty proud of myself. I wreaked bloody havoc on murderous creatures. For weeks to come, my name will be whispered in hushed tones in wasp and spider circles. At least that’s what I thought. More wasps have returned to outlet and have started to rebuild. Now, not only do I have to eliminate them again, but I’ve got to find a way to keep them from coming back. If you have any ideas, I’m open.

I’m still allowing myself to feel like Rambo though. Prepare yourselves critters. I’m ready for battle.

Randomness #5- The Hardest Time

I’ve had two very best friends in my life. My dad and my husband. Sure, I’ve had others who I’ve called my “best friend,” one friend since I was five and one I’ve had since my freshman year of college fit into that category. They were both in my wedding and we still keep in touch and all, but when I think of people I could really talk to and bear my soul with, only my dad and my husband fall into that category. It sounds weird, I know, that my dad would be my best friend, but it’s completely true. We were just alike–he used to say we shared a brain–so we could talk for hours. When I was home, we’d stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning listening to music and watching funny videos on YouTube or talking about religion and philosophy and politics and life and everything. Until I met Hubby, my dad was the only person I could be involved in a deep conversation with one minute, then laughing at Chappelle Show or something the next.

Unfortunately, as you probably guess, I lost my dad–three years ago this coming Sunday (June 24), around 6:30p.m. So, this is a hard week for me. Father’s Day sucks because I have no one left to celebrate. My last Father’s Day with my dad was spent in the hospital. In case you’re wondering, he was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma (kidney cancer) just six months prior, and was 43 when he died. This year Father’s Day and the 24th, what I call my Dark Day, are exactly a week apart.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Daddy, but I’ve been especially thinking about him a lot lately. Whenever I go through something difficult or trying, or whenever I have great news or a big decision, I want to call my dad. The last couple of weeks have sucked. Hubby was out of town and the car had problems and I’ve had issues with a co-worker who is driving me up the wall, one thing after another, and I’ve just wanted to vent to my dad.

Thanks to the car problems, Hubby and I are looking for a new one, my first new car actually, and Daddy is the one person I want to consult. I actually almost picked up the phone to call him the other day (I found a Maserati sedan for $44k and joked with Hubby about buying it–yeah, I’m a total car girl–and I wanted to kid around with Daddy and dream of the expensive sports cars we would love to have but can’t afford, and honestly can’t justify even if we could afford them!). In the last year we bought our first house, which is another moment I wanted to share since my dad never owned property. Even silly things like a song I think he would love make me want to call him.  Want to hear a crazy coincidence?  Wednesday night we listed my car on Craigslist. An hour later I had a text from a guy who wanted to see it.  The guy pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot with a woman and gave the car a once over with Hubby, leaving me and his girlfriend standing off to the side talking. Turns out, she knew my parents–they graduated high school together. Of course she knew about Daddy’s illness and everything. It was completely random. They’d been glancing at Craigslist every few days. We live almost 100 miles from my hometown, by the way. It was just another reminder of him this week.

What prompted this more personal than normal blog post was my terrible day yesterday. It’s like my body knows my heart’s pain. I woke up yesterday morning with a migraine. I described it as an evil invisible dwarf hammering railroad spikes into my skull. It wasn’t the worst I’ve endured, but I didn’t get vertical until around 2:30 and didn’t turn on the lights until 4:30. I’d never experienced a migraine until right after my dad died. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning one day with a jackhammer in my skull, and worse, with no feeling in the right half of my body. Hubby woke up and asked what was wrong, but I couldn’t speak. We raced to the hospital, afraid it was a stroke or something even though I was only 26. It happened again a few days later, except the left side of my body went numb. I saw various doctors and underwent MRIs and scans, etc, etc, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. By the time the next one occurred, numbing my entire upper half, I had begun putting the pieces together.

Migraines sometimes come with auras. They can be things like seeing colors around people and objects or zig-zag lines. Then there’s this thing called a Hemiplegic migraine, which produces stroke-like symptoms including body numbness and slurred speech. (Funny note, apparently June is migraine awareness month. Yesterday, I wasveryaware!). After those three, the Hemiplegic migraines stopped. I’ve gotten bad headaches, but only a couple in true migraine territory. They haven’t come with the numbness, but they’ve been up there in the pain category. Yesterday’s got me wondering if the migraines are connected with my grief.

It’s not that I haven’t “moved on.” After a few months of being unable to do anything, I picked up and carried on with life, and life has been pretty good. Overall, I’ve been happy, is what I’m trying to say. But there is always a hole, a gap that will never get filled. I think of life like a puzzle. It starts with a handful of pieces that make a small section, and as you grow and age you find more pieces and fit them into their slots. By the time you die you have a finished picture. Except sometimes with puzzles, you lose pieces, or they get bent or wet, or something and they don’t fit just right.

For one year, my puzzle was almost perfect. I’d married the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, that one puzzle piece that filled a hole I didn’t know existed. Then a year later, another big piece disappeared. Daddy had said it was a balance. He told me he felt comfortable leaving me because I had Hubby, I had someone else to lean on. I guess he’s right, but there will always be a giant hole in my puzzle (there are other big holes, where my grandfathers were and other important people in my life, but no one played as big a role as Daddy). And this week, that hole is more apparent. Sure, I have happiness and joy in my life. Today or tomorrow we’re buying the car, which I am completely excited about. I’m working on a new story that I absolutely love and have high hopes for, and there are so many good things in my life. But no matter how great things are, my happiness will always be tempered with missing my dad, because I will always want to share it with my best friend.

 

Back in Black

And I’m back!  After the doctor fixed two meniscus tears and performed a lateral release of my knee cap, I’m finally off the couch and on the road to recovery!  Okay, so maybe I’m only off the couch long enough to sit with my leg propped up at work, only to return to the couch in the evenings, but at least it’s a change of scenery. I’ve got a leg brace for five weeks, which won’t be fun, but hopefully after it’s all said and done I’ll be better than ever!

Thanks for the book recommendations and the well wishes.  Unfortunately, my pain meds kept me too high to concentrate on reading over the week.  However, I did rediscover the joys of old school Super Mario (we downloaded it to the Wii) and I discovered there isn’t much on tv during the day except for marathons of House Hunters, et al on HGTV.   Coincidentally, I could tell you how much a house will run you in pretty much every part of the country now.

I’m super stoked to be coherent again and I’m ready to resume writing.  I’ve recently resumed edits on the first book I wrote.  By resumed edits, I mean I realized the whole thing was crap and I’m rewriting pretty much the whole thing.

I added a new feature to my blog.  Yes, I bit the bullet and got a twitter.  You can see recent tweets over there on the right.  See it…down…no up a little…there!  Follow me! (Yes, I cringed a little while writing every word of this paragraph).

An Award? Me?

                                

I am incredibly grateful and humbled to have been given a blog award!  Many thanks to my friend M.R. Jordan for the Liebster Award.  You can find her blog here. She also made the quarterfinals in ABNA, so go read her submission excerpt about a dog and a zombie and leave her some feedback!

Now according to the rules for receiving this award, I also have to pass it along:

1. Give to a blogger with less than 200 followers
2. That blogger will pass it on to 5 followers
3. According to Babelfish (which I didn’t check) and Google Translate (which I did), Liebster means Dearest.

So, the five dear bloggers I am awarding are:

1.  Commutinggirl

2.  Kana’s Chronicles

3.  L’ombelico di Svesda

4.  The Narrow Road

5.  Descent Into Slushland

They all have great blogs you should check out!  I must say, this is a fantastic way to connect and find bloggers I might not have stumbled across otherwise!  Thanks again, M.R.

Chocolate Explosions and Stephen King vs Disney

I’ve been writing stories literally since I learned to write.  I’m also a bit of a pack rat.  Just a tinge.  Okay, so maybe I’ve kept almost everything I’ve ever written as well as every test and paper since the seventh grade.  Don’t judge.  They come in handy.  Sometimes.  Anyway, I recently found a stack of my stories from childhood.  When I was four, I wrote about my baby “bother” and how I loved him even though he drove me crazy (much like my real brother when he was born five years later), but most of my stories were a bit morbid for a kid.  I found one about it raining chocolate (This was before the “Chocolate Rain” viral video days; it was before we even had internet).  It sounds like a sweet story (pun intended), but quickly turns south.  I run outside with a bowl and drink up the chocolate, but I eat so much I explode and die.  That’s it.  The end.  Boom goes the Sarahmite.

I don’t know why.  I had a happy childhood and all, my writing just gravitated toward the macabre.  It only got worse when I started reading Stephen King, who is the king of dark twisted tales (yeah, that one was intentional too; as my brother would say, butter me cause I’m on a roll!).  I let my grandmother, we call her Karma, read my stories, and she pointed out that I don’t really have any happy endings, which caught me off guard.  When I’m reading, I love happy endings.  Or so I thought.  But looking back, she’s right.  Not only do I not read stories with happy endings, I end my stories weird, or bittersweet, never Pollyanna kittens and rainbows everything is all good happily ever after.  I guess because real life is usually weird or bittersweet and not a Disney movie, and I like for my stories to feel more real.  They aren’t bad endings, except for the chocolate rain Sarah-splosion (but really, isn’t there a lesson there?).  My characters are always happy(ish).  Their conflicts are resolved, they’re turning a new page, starting a new chapter, moving on to something else.  That something else might not always be shiny and bouncy as we would think of it, but it’s fresh and new for them and happier than they were before.

I’ve got a short story I’m about to enter into a contest.  It’s actually the first chapter of a book I started and stopped after the second chapter, so perfect short story fodder.  I posted the chapter here not long after I started this blog.  The way I’ve adjusted it, the main character decides to end all his cancer treatments and enjoy what’s left of his life.  Karma told me despite how the story ends, she holds out hope he’ll continue treatment and have surgery and the cancer will go away, puppies and rainbows and all that.  I can see how my ending may seem sad, especially for her because the character’s illness is based on my dad’s.  But my character felt good with his choice, so isn’t that a happy ending?

After talking with her, I started thinking about my endings.  I have all these stories in my head.  Almost every day I come up with a new idea, and usually a first chapter.  There’s a whole folder on my USB drive called “story ideas” that’s full of queries, synopses, and first chapters of shiny new ideas. While the details of my stories change as I write and get to know the characters, I always know how they end, and it hit me today that none of them has a Disney ending.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an optimist, and I guess this reflected in my writing, but is that a bad thing?  What do you think, dear reader?  Do you like happy endings, or do you like something that feels real?  I’m not going to change my writing style because that’s just how I write.  It’s me and apparently always has been, death by chocolate and all.  I’m curious, though, what most people look for.

Personally, when I’m reading, I like for loose ends to be tied up, and I like to know the character is content.  Look at most the books on my “Books You Really Must Read” list; they pretty much all have this type of ending.  I don’t like stories that leave me crying and depressed and force me to watch something happy before I go to sleep (like “Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived” by Ralph Helfer.  Good night that was a sad book!  It was good, but so sad!  I made the mistake of reading it while my husband was traveling for work and had to stay up half the night watching “Golden Girls” re-runs to stop crying), but I don’t like stories that are unrealistically happy ever after either (like “Breaking Dawn” by Stephanie Meyer.  I mean, come on, everything ended up too perfect in the end.  I get some people’s need for escapism in endings like that, but it’s just not my cup of tea).  I prefer Stephen King’s endings.  Everything isn’t perfect, and isn’t always good, but it’s always finished, and usually weird, and maybe bittersweet.  Read “Lisey’s Story” for a fantastic ending.  For me, King beats Disney every time.  Another great example, if you’re not into King, is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.  You want to talk about a great ending?  It’s real and raw and happy but poignant.  Overall, an excellent book, but the ending especially left me satisfied when I closed the cover, yet wanting more, and to me, that’s the marker of a great ending.

Randomness #3- Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow

Today, it’s officially Spring.  Most people associate Spring with everything being fresh and green.  In Alabama, we know Spring is here when the world is yellow.  I wish I was exaggerating.  Pollen. Covers. Everything.  Cars, clothes, pets, tables, chairs, hair, hands, shoes, patios, hammocks, pavement, grills, tools, mailboxes, porches, porch swings, kid’s toys, and on and on.  The black asphalt parking lot at work is covered with a layer of yellow plant sperm.  I don’t dare touch my car, or anything really, while in work clothes.  Yesterday, I had a yellow smudge on my thigh that would not come off.  My husband and I almost ate dinner outside last night, then we realized by the time we cleaned off the table or found a table cloth, the food would be cold.  I’m surprised we can breathe at all there’s so much of it in the air, or that trees aren’t sprouting in all of our lungs.  (At least I’m not allergic!)

I love Spring.  We bought a house late last Summer, so we’re seeing our yard come alive for the first time.  It’s like the world woke up overnight.  It’s lovely.  If only I could enjoy it without being covered in pollen.  Regardlesss, the hubby and I have had fun these warm nights playing with the dog in the yard, frolicking in the new life around us.  Until last night that is.

My husband has one big fear.  He’s actually been working on overcoming it, and making progress, but last night was a bit of a setback.  He was in the yard throwing the ball with Atticus and I was watching the end of “Smash” (what can I say, I like musicals).  All of a sudden the back door crashed open and Hubby ushered Atticus in.  Hubby was nervous and his voice was a little higher.  “Kill it,” he said.  “Sarah, kill it.”  I paused the show and slipped on my flip-flops.  “What is it?”  I asked.  “An evil thing.  Where I usually sit.”  (It took me a while to grasp he meant some rocks surrounding a tree right off the porch.  He also frequently sits on the grass and on the porch so “usually” wasn’t quite descriptive enough.) I was about to remove a shoe to smash the spider when he stopped me.  “You can’t take off your shoe.  It’s a black widow.”  “Okay, then give me your shoe.”  He glanced at his feet then back to me.  “But it’s a black widow,” he said, like it had the exoskeleton of an armadillo or something.  “Okay,” I said, “then get me a boot.”  “How about a fly swatter?”  He grabbed one from under the sink and thrust it into my hand.

Armed with floppy red plastic, I charged onto the porch.  “Where is it?”  I asked, scanning the stones.  “Right there.”  Yeah, he’s great with descriptors.  I walked down the steps, still not seeing the venomous little beast.  Hubby was right behind me, pointing at the ground.  I saw it, and sure enough it was a black widow, red hourglass on its abdomen and all.  Not really that uncommon around here, but still a bit unnerving, even for me, and I don’t mind spiders.  I whapped at it with the swatter until it was good and dead, then showed Hubby as proof.  (Me woman, me kill spider!)  We climbed back on the porch and Hubby stopped dead.  “There’s another one.”  He pointed to where the porch meets the house.  I didn’t get a good look at this spider’s abdomen because my husband’s next biggest fear was right next to it.  “Flying bugs” as he calls them.  Basically anything with wings and a stinger.  So I got the wasp/hornet spray and murdered a couple, killed a nest, and squished two more spiders.  (I am all that is woman!)

Now my husband is paranoid because black widows frequent ivy, where our dog likes to sleep, and because they were so close to the house.  I did all sorts of research and showed their bites are seldom fatal except to children, elderly, infirm, and small pets, and pointed out the dog had been sleeping there since we got him with no troubles.  Hubby wasn’t satisfied, so today I have to call the exterminator.

So, yay Spring!  Pollen, spiders, wasps, yellow jackets, bumblebees, and hornets!  But also flowers and soft grass and sweet smells and warm weather!  You have to take the bad with the good.  I keep telling myself that, today especially.  See, today is also the next round cut in ABNA.  I’ve been anxiously, nervously, obsessively refreshing the site, praying for the results to be posted and my name to be on the list.  Of course the odds are still very much against me, and the competition is getting stiffer so I’m sure I didn’t make it (but maybe…).  If I didn’t though, it’s just one thing.  Like a couple of black widows in my back yard.  I’ll get over it, move on, and enjoy the rest of Spring.

(On another note, every time I see the cloud of pollen that seems to have overtaken the air, I can’t help but think there’s a story in that.  Or last night’s escapades, there’s a story there too.  Maybe a shiny new idea will develop out of it and give me something to focus on if/when I get cut from ABNA!)

**Update** I didn’t make the ABNA cut, but I’m okay with it.  This isn’t the end for this manuscript, and even if I exhaust all my options without it going anywhere, I’ll still be alright.  I’ll just write another.  Congrats to all who made it!!