Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I ain't no energizer bunny

Apres tattoo: me, Sandi and Vona
(Photo by Reva)

When we lived in the Bay Area, people were willing to visit us at any time of year. We were just as likely to have out-of-town guests in February as in July, which made it a lot easier to manage the flow of folks in and out of our house.

It's a little different now that we've moved to Portland, where there are four discernible seasons, and winters mean the possibility of snow and cold (ish) temperatures. As a result, folks prefer to visit in the summer, which makes perfect sense, but makes it a wee bit difficult for me. This year, we've had back-to-back visitors (literally - one leaving the same day another was scheduled to arrive) for two solid weeks. I wanted to see and be with everyone, but it's pretty clear that my desires and my capabilities are, shall we say, misaligned?

When I dropped my sister off at the airport on Sunday morning, I felt pretty good - I'm a morning person, so getting up at 6:00 am so we could get to PDX by 7:00 am wasn't a huge problem for me. The freeways were almost empty, and I blasted vintage Bruce Springsteen on the CD player during the ride home (there's nothing like "Born to Run" as background when you're driving 15 miles above the speed limit on an empty freeway). I felt pretty good when I got home, but got slapped upside the head by MS fatigue within an hour after arriving at home. For the past two days, I've been drifting around the house like a zombie, too tired to do much of anything, spaced out most of the time, and almost too tired to sleep. Today was the first day I woke up feeling even close to what passes for normal in my life these days, and I'm hoping to put in an hour at the animal shelter (for the first time in three weeks).

But a lot got accomplished in the past couple of weeks. My beloved son was here to find an apartment for himself and his sweetie; we managed to look at about a dozen different places, and they got a great apartment in the complex they liked the best. My sister, who flew out to Portland to spend an important birthday with me (she and I are all that's left of our nuclear family), not only had a birthday celebration, but managed to fulfill one of her fantasies by getting a tattoo! (See photo, above.) I knew she didn't want a party, but I really wanted to commemorate her birthday, so I threw a "Leos' Birthday Bash" for all of the Leos in my life (including my husband, his sister and brother-in-law, and several of our friends) so Sandi wasn't singled out. The weather cooperated, and we had a lovely evening out on the back deck, with lots of food, drink, laughter and conversation.

Unfortunately, I'm gonna need about a month to recover from all of the activity. It sucks. I love being around people, especially people like the ones who visited this month. I just wish I had half the energy I used to have. Where's the Energizer Bunny for humans, I ask you?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I took a walk this morning...

...around our back yard.

The first thing I did was admire (again) how gorgeous the back decks look since David worked his usual magic out there. He found a (relatively) environmentally-friendly set of products for cleaning the decks, and deck stain from the same manufacturer. Everything looks brand new out there, as if the deck had been installed a week ago. We're in the process of rearranging everything that's out there (benches, plants, etc.) and the few changes we've made already look terrific.

My initial intent was to check on the hydrangea bush at the very southeast end of the yard, to see if the blossoms had opened completely. In the process, I discovered a second hydrangea bush hidden back there, with much deeper blue-purple blossoms than its larger neighbor. My plan is to check the bushes every couple of days so I can capture the blooms at their best, cut them, dry them, and have a new set to take us through the winter.

Of course, once I was out there, I saw a gazillion things needing attention, so I lumbered back up to the house, grabbed my gardening gloves and some clippers, and did some pruning. The Grapevine That Ate Portland needs to be pruned daily, so I saved the roses from extinction by cutting back the vines threatening to strangle them. Then I did a bunch of clean-up around the day lilies (we really need to dig up a bunch of those guys this fall, 'cause they're taking over), gathered up the clippings and loaded the wheelbarrow (which was close by, since David did a bunch of pruning on the big clematis when he was prepping the deck last week).

The most exciting news (for this city gurl) was a squash-blossom sighting! We only planted one zucchini plant, knowing that zucchini can take over a garden, and having only limited space in the raised beds. I'm really looking forward to harvesting zucchini from our own little garden.
All of the tomato plants have lots of blossoms, and the few I planted earlier in the season are covered with small tomatoes. More than any of the veggies we planted, I'm so looking forward to harvesting tomatoes.

So now the front deck is clean, as well. David is giving it a day to dry, and will stain it tomorrow. He's been itching to get these two projects done, and he can check them off his 'to do' list now.

You wouldn't think a short trip around your own back yard could be so interesting, would you?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dance of the cats

It's been fascinating to observe the way our three cats behave with each other.

Caruso has staked out the living room as 'his' space. It's taken time, but he now feels comfortable enough to curl up and nap on the couch during the day, and I'm pretty sure he sleeps there at night as well. Sam roams the living room, doing a route around the back of the couch and under 'Caruso's' table, but the two of them seem to have reached a point where they tolerate each other.
Caruso is very careful when he leaves the safety of the living room to use the litter box or to munch on wheat grass from the planter in dining room bay window, since he knows there's always a chance he'll encounter Harley.

Harley does NOT like Caruso. They've only tangled a few times, but the result has been a house filled with blood-curdling yowls (Harley) and a very frightened Caruso high-tailing it behind the couch.

Last night, they got into it again, and Sam came charging out from wherever he'd been sleeping to come to Harley's defense. He's done that a few times (like when she went nuts because we were putting Advantage on the back of her neck - go figure); he's very protective of her. She, on the other hand, claws him whenever he bothers her; as far as I'm concerned, she hasn't really earned his obvious devotion to her.

More than likely, Caruso will avoid our bedroom and the office, which are definitely Harley's places, and stick to the other end of the house.

Sam, like Switzerland, will remain neutral most of the time, but will always, I assume, come to Harley's defense if it seems necessary.

And so, they dance.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Caruso doesn't like cameras

Caruso and Lib

I'm not sure why, but every time I've tried to take a photo of him, he's ended up hiding somewhere.

The other night, he was snuggled on my lap, purring away, and I asked David to sneak into the office, grab the digital camera and take a photo. As soon as Caruso saw the camera, he tensed up, but I held onto him, petting him and whispering that it was okay, and David managed to snap one picture before Caruso bolted.

As you can see, we both have gray hair.

Back yard boogie

We were sitting out on the back deck late yesterday afternoon, enjoying the colors and birdsong, when we heard a band tuning up, somewhere to the south of us, obviously in a nearby back yard. I wasn't sure if we were going to find ourselves surrounded by very loud (and possibly badly-played heavy metal), but the band was great and they played a set of old rock'n'roll (songs like "Under the Boardwalk" and "Love Potion No. 9"). From what I could tell, in addition to the basics (bass, guitar, drums), there was a keyboard player and a saxaphone, too -- the perfect combo for 1950's and 1960's rock.

I got up to do some weeding and to pick strawberries for dessert, and found myself dancing along to the music (if you can call what I'm able to do with limited balance 'dancing'!). The music made my chores a lot more fun, and I was disappointed when the band announced their final song and stopped playing.

What could be more wonderful, I ask? A beautiful summer evening, warm-but-not-too-hot, surrounded by trees, bushes and flowers, listening to live rock and roll -- for free!