Sunday, January 26, 2014

With This Ring, I Promise Thee Never to Cut Off Thine Finger

Although I have a really fun collection of rings in my jewelry box, ever since I got THE ring in 2010, I don't wear my fun ones nearly as much. Last night we had our first double date with locals in our town and, wanting to get properly dolled up for our date, I decided to don one of my fun rings. I grabbed one with a multicolored browinsh stone that I probably paid $5 for at Forever 21. I shall call her Little Streaky. The minute I slid her onto my finger I thought I might be in trouble.

Back in the day, I wore her on my left hand (which is slimmer than my right) but the old ball and chain ring goes on that hand now, so I had to switch Little Streaky to my right hand. I think she was supposed to go on my ring finger...but I stuck her on the middle one.

Our double date was so much fun, I quickly forgot about my ring woes. We were with our wonderful next door neighbors taking advantage of Santa Ynez Valley restaurant week and, in addition to having a delicious meal (grilled prawn and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, thanksforasking), we chatted and laughed and drank wine for several hours. But when we returned home and I couldn't get Little Streaky off, I began to panic.

I tried olive oil. I tried soap. I tried icing my hand to shrink my finger. Nothing worked. Finally I decided to go to bed wearing Little Streaky—hoping that my finger would somehow dehydrate and shrivel overnight so I could get her off in the morning.

I had more than one dream that I was able to remove her when I woke up.

But in reality, she seemed to be fitting even more snugly when I awoke.

I Googled "How to cut a ring off your finger" and found this video about using an elastic band to compress your finger tissue and slide the ring off without having to cut it. Eureka.

I retrieved some elastic from my sewing kit and gave it a try. Total joke. Little Streaky didn't move a millimeter.

Mr. W tried to snap her with bolt cutters but that didn't work either.

It was time to bring in the Dremmel and saw her in half.

"The doctor is ready for surgery," Mr. W said to me as he entered the kitchen with his tool kit and safety glasses for each of us. Immediately imagined the safety glasses getting covered in a spray of blood as Mr. W accidentally dug the saw blade into my finger...

It's funny how being married to someone periodically requires you to fully renew your trust in them. I was pretty terrified that I might get injured during this "surgery" but I had to just trust that Mr. W would be beyond careful and stop the Dremmel before it hit flesh.

As he pressed the spinning blade against the band, a couple little chunks of metal flew off and hit me in the face. Good thing for the safety glasses... We kept ice nearby to cool the metal as it heated under the friction of the saw. I made him stop at least a half dozen times because I was so freaked out.

Finally the groove in the ring seemed deep enough that he could use pliers to pull each side of Little Streaky apart. When he did, her plastic stone popped off and landed on the counter. As soon as I slid her off, I jumped up and down and threw my arms around him.

My finger is still green from wearing a $5 ring for 15 hours.

And I think Mr. W may have missed his true calling...

Thanks, Doctor McDreamy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Doin' the Limbo Rock

The garage has become the catch-all for gardening items that will go in the future greenhouse, broken things like the wine fridge that went kaput, and new appliances that have yet to get hooked up. Soon, it'll also be housing our entire kitchen's worth of cabinets.

Did you guys ever limbo at parties when you were a tween? I seem to remember that being a trend for awhile. Fairly certain I would throw out my back or break my tailbone if I tried to limbo now. Although maybe there's a limbo yoga pose I could start practicing in my class on Thursday nights. Maybe I'll start a limbo party resurgence in the local community...

Mr. W and I are on the final stretch of separation and now that I can see the finish line (somewhere in the vicinity of late March), I'm feeling antsier than ever. Everything feels extremely limbo-ish right now. Like I'm just hanging out here waiting for the next leg of the journey (i.e. renovations...which will likely equal all hell breaking loose). The accumulating boxes of renovation stuff just add to the stagnant calm that has settled over our house. 

Our range top and dishwasher waiting patiently to finally become part of the kitchen.

Future bathroom fixtures mingle with an unpacked box and drafting table legs. Sexy.

Apparently our new kitchen sink is in that giant box. I'm not sure why it appears so enormous.
I wonder if Mr. W was planning to bathe me in it...

By the time Mr. W finally moves up here permanently, our entire garage might be filled with boxes. Or maybe I'll have unpacked them and turned them into a castle like we used to when we were kids. That might be just the key to feeling like there's some forward movement happening around the house. I could invite my friends over to sit in my box castle and limbo with me in the driveway. And if someone slips and cracks a vertebrae, we can use the cardboard to fashion a makeshift stretcher.

March, hurry up. I'm clearly starting to lose it...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cooped Up

These girls live at a very cute store/succulent nursery nearby. I bet their names are
HENrietta and PECKnelope. And they've been friends since junior high.

When one's husband is temporarily living in another county, one finds it very easy to keep the house relatively tidy (one's own messes are invisible...) and also very easy not to leave said house. Thus creating an even keener awareness of where things "should" and "shouldn't" be in her castle.

Over Christmas break when Mr. W was here for two solid weeks, I had to reprogram myself after I short-circuited in response to his small abundance of random piles. You saw a sampling here...

The sock really does make the entire shot.

There was the RC helicopter hospital that took up residence on our dining room table, the miscellaneous mail, tools, nails, keys, and clothing items that lingered near the front door, the monstrous bag of receipts that threatened to overtake the couch...

Not being used to having someone else's stuff in my space, I had a minor freakout at him one day.
But as the vacation wore on, I realized something really important (after doing a little self coaching):
I would much rather have the stuff than the alternative. I'd much rather have Mr. W and his swirl of pigpen flotsam than no Mr. W at all. I'd rather have his mess in the house than not have him in the house.

It was a pretty powerful mindset shift.

But likely one I'll have to work to maintain when remodeling mayhem begins in a few months. Mr. W gave me a talk recently about how he would need to take some time off to recuperate after finishing the movie—so he wouldn't want to start renovating right away.

But the boy cannot sit still.

Case in point: he decided to start construction on the greenhouse/chicken coop over Christmas. Even though he knew that he wouldn't finish it and there would be many other projects needing to be done in the spring, he couldn't resist. I don't think he was at the house for a day before he headed to Home Depot and began plotting.

Here's a before shot of our side yard. We knew the killin' shed would need to come down
at some point. Hoping we won't have any Poltergeist situations...

When his BFF came to town for New Year's, they took sledgehammers to the shed and turned it into this. Another pile...

The yard itself went from this (I think Mr. W was secretly delighted that he had to purchase a new chainsaw to get that old stump out):

 To this (I learned this is "straw," not "hay." It's only hay when it's green, soft, and edible):

After that, construction began on the new foundation for the green-coop structure (If he lived here, I'd take a picture of the design sketch he created so you could see what it's supposed to look like when it's all done).

There he is, hard at work putting insulation under the foundation to keep the girls warm.

Finally, up came the framing for the walls. And the loose plans to install an electronic chicken door that lets the girls into their run every morning....

 That was as far as he got before he had to go back to LA for work. We're pretty excited he hit the wall stage. And I was slightly elated when he showed me some old horse shoes he discovered in the construction debris.

I have a feeling I'll need some extra luck to continue keeping my head right about the home and garden disarray. But it's better than the alternative...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Beige Pee and Other Learnings from a 24-Hour Juice Fast

Earlier this year, Mr. W and I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead—a pretty darn inspiring story about an Aussie who loses 80lbs and a myriad of health problems by going on a 60-day juice fast. After we saw the film, we both agreed that we wanted to start juicing more regularly. Mr. W was in Vancouver at the time so he bought his own juicer and began making regular trips to the Granville Market for fresh produce.

We vowed that once we were living under the same roof again, we would do an all-juice fast once a month to cleanse our systems.

Given that Mr. W was off work for two weeks and we were together in Santa Ynez when the calendar flipped to 2014, we decided it would be a perfect time to try our first fast.

Here's what I learned:

1. Mr. Wonderful is way tougher than I am. 
He didn't complain once. And he even expended a whole bunch of energy dismantling a shed in the backyard. Those Greek genes are serious business.

2. All-day juicing turns your pee odd colors. Like when you eat beets.
In fact, it may have been the beet juice that did it. Whatever it was, it seemed to color anything passing through my bladder a lovely shade of beige. Too much information? Here's a better story: One time my brother-in-law ate way too much red velvet cake and it turned "things" red. He apparently hadn't experienced the beauty of eating lots of beets or anything of the like, so he yelled out in horror from the bathroom, "Honey I think I have a SERIOUS PROBLEM!" It's a favorite family story...

3. Food is EVERYWHERE. I feel much more deeply for people on diets.
All day, all I thought about was food. Every scrap of food on TV, every image of food in nearby books and magazines, every morsel of anything I passed by in the kitchen set my stomach growling. And then Mr. W would tell me to go drink more juice. But you can't chew juice and it doesn't taste like chocolate or chips and guacamole...

4. Though I was hungry and whiny, I never got angry.
Usually when I'm hungry I get pissed. Just ask Mr. W about the time we walked around Venice, Italy looking for "this one pizza place" he liked. I almost broke up with him that day. I often tell him I'm having a stage-five hunger alert, as I shakily cut pieces of cheese and shove them down my gullet, cursing. Strangely, although I was hungry all day during the juice fast, I did not want to kill anyone.   

5. A little cayenne helps.
I don't know if the spiciness tricks your brain/stomach into thinking you're actually consuming food, but something about the cayenne eased some of the suffering. It also added a flavor variance, which was nice given that most of the juice was pretty sweet.

6. A little almond milk helps.
We may have been breaking the rules of juice fasting with this one, but almond milk saved me a couple times throughout the day. Mr. W actually made his own milk right in the blender with raw almonds and some dates. It was ridiculously good.

7. It's amazing how yummy and varied fruits and veggies can taste in different combinations.
Before we went shopping for our produce, Mr. W found a bunch of recipes online so that we would have options to consume throughout the day. I think my favorite was a green juice that had something like kale or spinach, cucumber, ginger, celery, and pineapple in it. Surprisingly delicious. 

8. Celery is better in juice form.
There are few foods that I don't like and celery is at the top of the list. I can pick up its flavor even when people try to sneak it in, and it tastes like straight grass to me. Like I'm eating right from the mower blade. Bleatch. However, in juice form, it's really not so bad. Who knew?

9. Time slows down when you're not eating. 
I don't know if it's the time you save by not having to cook and actually sit down to eat—or if it's just that you're so hungry and hopeful that it's time to go to sleep so you can wake up and gorge yourself—but the clock seemed to move in slow motion all day. I felt like I gained at least 3-4 hours. Which was good because I was taking down our Christmas visions of sugarplums danced in my head...
10. You can take the girl away from food lovin' but you can't take the food lovin' away from the girl. Or something like that...
I LOVE to eat. Going to new restaurants is one of my greatest joys. So it's not really a surprise that fasting was tough for me. Although I didn't die from the experience (which was good because we plan to do it again sometime next month), I did wake up giddy the next morning because I knew I got to chew real food again. Mr. W made egg and bacon sandwiches for breakfast and I think I followed that up with some Chex Mix and a Dr. Pepper. Yup, pretty much totally wiped out the benefits of the fast within about 3 hours of being awake. 

One of the other interesting benefits of this little experiment was that it reminded me it's good to get out of the comfort zone. It was hard but I'm glad we did it. And I'm glad I stuck through to the end even though Mr. W told me I could eat in the afternoon. I'm hopeful that we can keep up our plan of juice fasting one day a month—and that maybe it'll have some small impact on our health. You know, to help balance out the wine and cheese addiction...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Walking a Goat On a Leash: What I Did On My Christmas Vacation

Apparently Monkey and Holly take walks regularly. My favorite part of our stroll was the way they'd
gobble up dried leaves like they were eating potato chips.

I think livestock are tricksters of the animal kingdom. If you've ever been to a petting zoo, you know how ridiculously adorable a baby goat can be. It's like they lure you in with their heart-shaped little noses and coy bleats and the next thing you know you're spending your mornings refilling grain bins and shoveling poop. Tricksters.

After Christmas, Mr. W and I went to Fresno to visit his dad and stepmom. They own three miniature ponies, three goats, four sheep, three dogs, three bunnies, a handful of chickens, and I don't even know how many cats. It's very easy to get a farm fix at their house. Or farm fever. The sheep are so cute I found myself considering whether we should maybe add one to our backyard brood later in the year.

But thankfully our roadtrip also included an audio book called Hit By a Farm. Written by the same woman who helped open my eyes to the ubiquitousness of death in country living, the book shares the author's many trials and tribulations setting up a farm, raising sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, and geese, growing grapes, and trying to be a writer. I cannot tell you how much this book hit home with me...

Unfortunately, she confirmed all of my worst fears: farm living is hard ass work. All the time. Those sheep and goats may be cute, but they'll rob you of years of peace and quiet. I already have two cats for that thankyouverymuch.

The desire to raise some furry and feathered friends is definitely shadowed by the fear of all that responsibility. At least on my end. Mr. W takes it in stride. He's been reading a few books on chickens to get us good and prepped...

This one is almost like a photo essay about Mr. W's life: RC helicopter controller, drafting tools, a
fruit and veggie catalog, a chicken book, and one dirty sock. Right on the dining room table.

...and he even tore down the old "killin' shed" to make room for the greenhouse/chicken coop he plans to build.

I like taking baby steps with all this farm stuff. It feels a lot less scary to walk someone else's goat and think about starting with just chickens and a hearty garden. In time, I may be ready for some four-legged additions. And then maybe we'll try our hand at making chevre or manchego.

Our first planter box. Many more to come.

But in the meantime, I'll just stick with fleshing out my list of hen names. Vivienne, Francesca, Cecilia, and Farrah are my current top picks. Or maybe I'll go with Downton Abbey characters. I can tell you this much: our girls are going to be all class...and hopefully not huge pains in the ass...