Pretty Packages & Packed Schedules

Adam and I have been extraordinarily busy lately. After Simon’s traumatic passing, it only took us a few days to realize we wanted to adopt another dog. Our home, despite being full by any sane person’s measure with two cats and a dog, felt hollow. So, like complete lunatics, we embarked on a 1,000 mile road trip to a rescue in Tennessee to pick up our newest family member, a five month old scruffy mutt we named Finnegan.

Mark Twain Inn, Jamestown, TN
Jamestown, TN was the birthplace of Mark Twain’s father, James Clemens, and many streets and shops bear an association.

We stayed in Nashville with Adam’s parents, but the rescue was 2.5 hours away in Jamestown, Tennessee, a small village on the outskirts of true Appalachia. The drive was both beautiful and culturally shocking, underscoring my own ignorance of how so many of my fellow countrymen live. A volunteer at the rescue had an accent so thick that neither Adam nor I could understand a word he said. I was mortified by my own dumb expression. I hope we didn’t seem like complete assholes to the man.

Finnegan promptly got carsick, but slept the majority of the 16 hour drive back to Connecticut. It was a long slog, much harder than our drive to Tennessee, due to the time we left. However, after having done the drive, both of us preferred it to the dehumanizing process of air travel, and would willingly do so again. Besides, Nashville itself is worth it, puppy or no. We’re seriously thinking of driving to Milwaukee in September for my cousin’s wedding.

brown paper package shower gift
Yay! Gift!

Speaking of weddings and Appalachia, both Adam and I are in one in a few months. Quite a few years ago, we set my (other) cousin and Adam’s step-brother up on a date, and now those two crazy kids are getting hitched. Sunday is her shower, and despite being home sick today, I took some time to wrap her gift. Idle hands an all that. My predilection for brown paper packages and wrapping without tape was a challenge on this one, but I managed. I’m also in charge of shower games, so I’ve been working on those while I sneeze and cough my way through the tail end of this week. I’m determined to make shower games that do not suck, which in itself can be a Herculean task. Any woman with a personality who has attended a bridal shower will tell you that the games can be mind-bogglingly dull. I’m trying to avoid that at all costs.

Saturday, we’re hosting Adam’s father’s 60th birthday, so despite being sick as hell and housing a puppy with a newfound love for mud, we’re trying to spruce the place up in time. We’ll see how that goes. Saturday is supposed to bring rain and chill, so the house will be coated in mud one way or another. Adam’s working nights through Saturday morning and I am mouth-breathing, so all in all, this is going to be a serious crunch. We love having a houseful of people, though, and I’m pretty easy going about tidiness (unlike my husband). Ultimately, I like to riff on a quote from my aunt Mary, “If you’re coming to see me, come any time. If you’re coming to see my house, go fuck yourself.” (That last clause is mine, in case you were wondering.)

The arrival of my two Angora goats has been pushed out until after shearing and the weather warms up. They’re about 2 hours away in Marlboro, Massachusetts, and the farmer wants to shear these two yearlings before shipping them off. Once nekked, we are both concerned they’ll catch chill on the way to CT unless it warms up a bit. On another note, the arrival of my bee packages has been pushed up a month and I’ll be picking them up and installing the ladies on April 8. My Warré hives arrived two weeks ago after being on backorder form Bee Thinking, and I’ll need to assemble them this week and get the placement sorted out. April 8 is supposed to be cold and rainy, not ideal for bees (or humans), but we’ll make do.

Before the goats arrive, we have to finish clearing out the barn, reinforcing the fence, and get hay, straw, and food sorted out. Nothing like a looming deadline to get things done. I also need to prep my raised beds for planting. Last year, the soil I opted for (the cheap shit was all we could afford) was sandy and lacked nutrients. All my seedlings struggled, especially the mystery peppers that were not jalapeños, despite how they were listed. I’ve been composting all winter, but the mixture won’t be garden-ready in the next few weeks. Typically, garden prep would already be sorted, but since we’ve pretty much destroyed the planet, the seasons are way the fuck outta whack and we have more ice and snow predicted for tomorrow. Last year, it was 6°F and snowy on April 4, so I guess this is part of a trend toward seasons being completely off kilter.

We’re working hard on trying to get our personal finances in order to start Blackthorn as a legitimate business. I completely splurged and purchased a new Mac so I can work on design projects, specifically stationery and the like. Adam managed to wrangle a cabinet saw for a song, which will help him get further along in his woodworking, which he loves. I have a laundry list of skills to start on, and an even longer list of things I need to purchase, beg, or steal in order to get moving.

To do on Monday…

Time is at a premium these days, as I’m working ever-longer hours for what seems like ever-less compensation (or “appreciation” according to my tone deaf boss). Despite this, I’ve finally started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I received the book as a part of a cute Facebook-based “book club” that functioned like a chain letter. You just mailed off a book and a few came your way! I sent The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (a childhood favorite) to someone, and received the aforementioned non-fiction, as well as Like Water for Chocolate and A Prayer for Owen Meany in return from strangers (and not-so-strangers, my friend Erica’s mother was the club member who send AVM) near and far. I haven’t made it through the other two yet despite my best efforts and much to my chagrin; Owen Meany started strong, but I struggled to stay interested and I haven’t started Like Water even though I know I’ll love it – it seems like Gabriel García Márquez meets The Midwife’s Apprentice – when I read it, I’ll let you know if my assumptions were accurate.

At any rate, I’ve decided to crack the spine on this particular memoir to help refocus my efforts away from the digital and more toward the practical. The coolest thing about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle so far is that the last woman who read it was an expectant mother nesting and gardening her heart out. How do I know? She left notes tucked in the book!  How cute are they? (The phone number is not a private one, it’s for the Jo-Ann Fabric store in Lakewood, Colorado, so I didn’t feel the need to blur it). This memoir will be quite a departure for me, when I read, I err toward fantasy along the lines of Tolkien, Susan Cooper, and George R.R. Martin, preferring pure escapism to any reminders of the crushing realities of actual human existence. That said, I’m excited to embark on this book. Eating and living locally is more challenging than it seems, and a top up of motivation is in order every now and then.

Hopefully, when the weather finally turns to spring, I’ll have my motivation on at full capacity to tackle all the tasks I’ve set for myself as well as the ones I get paid cash money for. We’ll see how deep the well goes.


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