Friday, May 29, 2020

Under contract? Not anymore!

So the private land we've been doing some hiking on with the owners' permission? It was because we were looking at buying it. And so we have, closing this morning. It was actually two properties with two different owners and two different realtors. But it turned out the one reasonable building site straddled the border of the two. What could we do but make offers on both and hold our breaths? Fortunately, one seller made a counter offer we felt was quite reasonable and the other accepted our initial offer. The two combined are about 32.6 acres of Appalachian Mountains.
We'd been looking in all the neighboring counties for a bit, but this one felt right immediately. As we were walking along the logging road by the creek, I said to my husband. "Oh, honey." He said, "No! Don't 'oh, honey!' Let's not get ahead of ourselves!" And then, a little while later, he turned to me and said, "Oh, honey." We were sold.
The properties slope up to ridges on three sides (the fourth side being the road), and a creek runs through it. When you are where we will put a house some day, you can't see the road or hear anything except the water running, the leaves moving in the breeze, and the birds singing.
And okay, it's a little low-rent to celebrate by drinking spilts of Prosecco straight from the bottle, but we forgot glasses and we were too stoked about the land to care.. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Another year married.

But in the age of COVID, we are not going to restaurants. No matter how much they claim they are following safety guidelines. Because, given that risks increase with time of exposure. those guidelines aren't nearly safe enough. So we stayed in for our fourth anniversary and I made my signature dish - shrimp and crab risotto. The dish included Argentine red shrimp and Irish Whiskey, and we had a bottle of the Amarone we brought back from our honeymoon in Italy.
For dessert Icelandic skyr cheesecakes with maple bourbon strawberries, and Cuban music playing in the background. We managed to include elements of most of our travels together. We'll have another today with Jamaican banana fritters.
I think one of the reasons we're together is that we both have a ridiculous sense of humor. Take this frightening Moses statue my husband brought home from his mother's house after she died, for instance.
This week we snuck it into the neighborhood garden where the Little Free Libraries are. Now we wait to see if anyone notices...

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Losing my locks.

After chemo, I was thrilled to get my hair back. Even when it was just the barest Sinead O'Connoresque suggestion of hair. And when it got just a little longer, I loved the ease of the super short style. But by then it was starting to curl and I decided I would ride the chemo curl train wherever it took me. Over time, however, the curls have loosened and I had reached a point where my hair was its original straightness except for curls right at the ends. It was unmanageable without a headband and I stopped enjoying it. So this morning, my husband agreed to give me the same cut he did right before I started chemo, in advance of losing my hair. It was odd to see the mass of hair, which is surprisingly dark for someone pushing 60. (Okay, I'm 57. I'm just getting myself used to the idea of being in my 60's.)
After the haircut, we headed out for a short hike to take advantage of the glorious weather we've been having lately. No regrets - I can now step out of the shower and dry my hair almost instantly with a towel. I may never go back to long hair.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Just an odd few days.

I know this isn't news to the more technologically savvy amongst you, but I downloaded a scanning app and have been using it  to digitize virtually all my files to store them paper-free. Stacks of old tax returns, medical records, insurance information, and so on. I've been working on it for days, including Mother's Day - which also happened to be the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Cancerversary, some people call it, although that makes it sound celebratory. I don't celebrate it, but I sure am aware of it.
It happened that I was scanning medical records on that day, and it was a little bit of a gut-punch to re-read the pathology report from my surgery. Whole body parts should NOT be specimens sent to a lab. I also scanned the office visit note where my surgeon wrote, "I reassured her that the odds were overwhelmingly in her favor that she would not require adjuvant chemotherapy." Yeah, well, I defied the odds.
I didn't mind dumping those into the shredder once scanned. I created a new email account, with labels for different subjects, and sent things directly from the app to it. Free storage, accessible from anywhere and not subject to computer crashes. (And yes, the most important things I also have saved to a hard drive.) I feel lighter off-loading all that paper into the recycling bin.
Since it was Mother's Day, I got a call from my older son who is preparing to head off for his first optometry internship placement. He told me he was also in the process of scanning many of his childhood drawings to save, and will ditch the originals. I thought it was funny we were working on the same thing. We talked for more than an hour about his plans and mine. And later that day, my younger son stopped by with this succulent planter he had made for me. The roseate succulent in the middle has a pink tinge and he told me he'd gone through all of them at Lowes to find the nicest one to put in the arrangement.
Which brings me to today, another sad anniversary - 19 years ago today my baby brother drowned. This weekend I also scanned and shredded the police report and autopsy report from his death. He was 23, the same age my younger son is now. I helped raise him and have grieved hard for him, but having my own sons reach that age has brought home to me what a loss it is for our mother. Years ago, I let Mom know I had the reports but encouraged her not to ask for them, and she didn't. She doesn't need to read the description of how he was found or see the sketches of his injuries. Although I want those records, I don't think I ever want to look at them again myself. Life is capricious and risky and sometimes exceedingly sad. And so I am reminding myself on these anniversaries to treasure the people I love while I can.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Around the yard.

In between telemedicine visits, I took my phone out to snap a few shots of what's blooming in our yard these days. Like this dwarf mock orange which is taking off this year and is covered in fragrant flowers.
The roses are doing well, also, although the trellis we put up to support them turned out to be no match for their weight.
Last year I got about four little crabapples off this tree but this year it is loaded down with little baby fruit. I'm hoping to make crabapple sauce out of them.
I transplanted this peony from my old house and it has resisted blooming year after year. I was surprised, then, when I walked by and saw the first flower on it in 5 years.
Out back some little strawberries are starting to develop.
And I put in three tomato plants. Those and herbs are the only food plants I put in this summer.
Things are coming along in the bed under the hemlock trees, which was completely covered in English ivy when I moved in. It's a little hard to see, but I stuck bamboo skewers by each plant that I want to dig up in the fall and divide. Heuchera, ferns, hostas, trillium and so on.
This year the crossvine, a plant native to this area, has also been covered in blooms. I've even seen a hummingbird feeding in the blossoms. Höðr doesn't seem to like the vine and will carefully step over it when she's walking along the deck railing. Nevertheless, I'm going to try to take cuttings and see if I can propagate more plants.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Socially distanced hiking.

On Saturday, we drove out through the countryside north of town. It was a gorgeous day.
We had gotten permission to hike on some privately-owned undeveloped land, and set out along this old logging road.
The logging road leads up the hillside along a little creek.
My husband had studied the topographical maps for the area and would stop periodically to make sure we were on course and within the 32 acres of the property's boundaries.
I am directionally impaired, but I could spot the orange blazes that his color-blind eyes could not. And I am getting better about identifying native plants. Like this tiny blue flag iris.
There was, unfortunately, no way to avoid all the  poison ivy, but we both hiked in long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
We climbed up to the northern ridge, a very steep hike.
But once we got to the top, the path leveled out.
While we were up there, I found this red-eyed box turtle. It seemed to be eating some sort of fungus.
The view was obscured by undergrowth, but once in a while we could see through to the mountains beyond.
It was beautiful and cool in the shade of the trees.
We kept hiking back along the eastern ridge and then down to the logging road again.
We had a picnic next to the creek before we headed back home.
But I could have stayed listening to the water all day.