Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aversion Therapy & Home Industry

I’m easing into my post-fun summer penance now (and avoiding my new school year prep) by catching up on some home industry. I built a cage around my hearty wisteria, because the peacocks recently discovered it’s a delightful pea-dessert, and they ate the bottom half of the vine down to sticks in a single day. I remind the flock daily now that in Indonesia, peacocks are FOOD.

I’m doing a little aversion therapy with the peas, too. Peacocks mostly eat grasses and vegetation, but what they really love is cat food. So it didn’t take them long to discover that our adopted outside cat, Rickie Lee, has food on the back porch ledge. In fact, Zorro, our only black peacock and a flock hoodlum, is obsessed with Rickie’s food. He’s taken to hanging out on the back patio, and I’ve caught him several times on the ledge, polishing off the food in Rickie’s dish. I tried a billowy prayer flag pea-barricade, but the darn birds realized they could fly. So now when I feed Rickie, I stand by with a squirt bottle of water and zap Zorro (or the wayward girls he influences) whenever he makes a move for the cat food. This is what I’ve come to…shooing peacocks off my back porch. Who’d’a thunk…

In spite of serious, persistent spring and summer flooding in South Dakota (two main thoroughfares between our house and Little Town are still closed & under water), and the resulting constant buzzing clouds of bazillions of mosquitoes the likes of which I’ve never seen in all my years here, I’ve been picking, cooking and preserving our garden bounty: gooseberries, acorn squash, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and the sweet corn a friend gave us. I’ve stocked the freezer with whole grain blueberry muffins and bison mini-meatloaves, and we’ll have apples and wild plums to deal with soon.

Have I mentioned before that I love red wine? So Ray got me a winemaking kit last Christmas, and early this summer I turned the lower level of the greenhouse into my own little winery. I have my second batch of wine going now, a Chilean Malbec. I was encouraged to make another batch when I discovered (at our family reunion) that my first batch, The Damn Merlot (have you not seen Sideways yet?!?), is AWESOME!

I’ve also been knitting up a storm in accordance with a basic mathematical principle: Knitting + Discovery Channel = I’m not a slacker. I think I have several felted bags and 5 pairs of fingerless gloves now (not to spill the beans about what all my kids will be getting for Christmas).

I can also allay my slacker guilt knowing that I worked all summer doing freelance copywriting for the ad agency where I worked a few years back. Creative writing and copywriting are two extremes on the writing spectrum, so it was good exercise for me to strip things down to “Your Community Partner.” I wrote a couple video scripts, a few 30-second TV spots, some poster/banner copy, and lots of ads. Best of all, I got to hang with my old friends, who are a light-hearted, zany bunch of mad[wo]men.

Today I’m baking blueberry scones and blueberry buckle in preparation for a wild women’s weekend. I’m having a Row henna party Saturday, then when we’re all henna’d up, we’ll head to Little Town for another night of dancing when Ray’s band plays at our fave watering hole. Then on Sunday, I’m off to another Sisters of Perpetual Disorder women’s dinner, with a “picnic” theme this time.

Then I promise I’ll get to that school prep. Right after I organize my PEZ dispenser collection and re-grout the tub…

Monday, August 9, 2010

Play Now, Pay Later

I’ve had waaaaay too much fun this summer. In June, my friend Gail and I went to a Buddhist meditation retreat in CO. It was a transformative event, resulting in my current daily meditation practice, a new meditation blog (, and a much improved sense of Self (or non-Self).

Then in late July my two oldest grandkids, Syd, 10, and Alia, 12, came sans parents to spend a week at the Row. It’s tough entertaining e-generation kids, but we kept them busy with help from Gigi (great-grandma), trail-hiking, a family BBQ, skateboarding, duck feeding, a day with their aunt at a motel pool, and, of course, a trip to Barnes & Noble - Alia and I each read The Golden Compass at bedtime. Both kids have cell phones, and I swear, their parents (who’ve never spent a night away from the kids) called them 15 times a day. And I now know everything there is to know about Sponge Bob and iCarly. Welcome to life totally plugged in.

As soon as the kids left, Mom and I drove to Longville MN for a family reunion. It’s held annually at a lake cabin my paternal grandparents bought in the 1950’s. There are two cabins now, a tent city, and a week of swimming, boating, jet-skiing, tubing, eating, catching up, s’moring, laughing, and drinking. We're a boisterous Bohemian bunch, and this year there were 39 of us – 4 generations – plus 9 dogs, 2 potbelly pigs and a cockatoo. We even had a mosquito cake (my daughter's artistry). The highlight was the surprise dock wedding of my cousin’s son to his sweet Chilean girlfriend, with my minister cousin presiding. The dock was decorated with streamers, balloons, wildflowers and – yep – peacock feathers. We all wore our white 2010 family reunion t-shirts (thanks to my brother). It was a beautiful, happy ceremony and a joyous reunion.
The fun continued when Ray’s band played a benefit last weekend at our favorite Little Town watering hole for our friend, Ed, who had a stroke recently. It was so good to see, once again, the way our little community rallies when someone needs a hand. All the wild women (and plenty of wild men) were there, and I'm still feeling the aftereffects of our raucous interpretive dancing.

Some people think fun & recreation are their reward for hard work. Maybe it’s my Presbyterian/Catholic indoctrination, but I'm a glutton for festivities, friendship & fun, and I tend to see hard work as my penance for it. So with only 3 weeks left before the new semester, I know I'll have to pay dearly for this Summer of Love. I know I’d better get busy. Yeah. And I will, honest. Right after our trip to the Cities next weekend to see a Saints game and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit…