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The Best Kind of Progress Isn’t Something You See. It’s Something You Feel.

Okay, so it might be because I ate approximately 80,000 calories worth of crusty, cheesy fried-then-baked eggplant parmesan, leftover spinach feta quiche, and German pancakes drizzled with a homemade sugary syrup yesterday.

Dutch Baby German Pancake

Check out that Dutch Baby, baby.  And please ignore my filthy oven.

Or it might be because I just ordered 26 galvanized malleable floor flanges from Amazon before having even one sip off coffee this morning.  Or it might be because I spent the entire day yesterday, aside from a 2-mile walk with the dogs and shoving approximately 80,000 calories worth of delicious, artery-jamming crap into my system, sketching out a design for a closet organizer made entirely out of plumbing fixtures and pine boards.

It might be one of those things.

But whatever it is, I’m feeling mighty accomplished this morning.

Fat, but accomplished.

On second thought, none of these things are the reason I feel accomplished.

They’re most certainly the reason I feel fat, but not the reason I feel accomplished.

I know exactly what it is.

But first, I need to take you back to Saturday.

Saturday, my friends, is the day I made an important and disturbing discovery about the person with whom I’ve chosen to live (aka. my husband).

This discovery wasn’t a complete surprise, mind you, since inklings of this issue’s existence have been cropping up, here and there, for the past 9 years.

But apparently I’ve been living in a protected shell of denial.  Apparently I haven’t wanted to make this discovery, because then I’d have to admit that the issue exists.

But on Saturday, I could ignore it no longer.

While Justin was busy doing this:

I ventured out to The Shed.

The Shed is a wonkily assembled, pseudo mini building attached to the back of our house, presumably added by the previous owners.  When we moved in 5 years ago, I quickly labeled the non-ventilated space as man territory, clearly, and have rarely ventured back since.

Until Saturday.

On Saturday, I walked into The Shed.

On Saturday, I saw this:

Messy Shed

Actually, I should clarify.  This is after I removed the lawn mower, a weed whacker, a small hand cart, and approximately 35 (or 6) large, assorted bags of garden soil.

That’s right.

My husband is a hoarder.

It turns out, every time I asked him to get rid of something — like the chicken wire we’d once used to line the inside of our fence to keep the pups from squeezing out — this is where he put it.  Not only that, but this is also where he put project supplies that he bought but didn’t want to immediately tackle.  So, it turns out, for years we’ve been storing oil-rubbed-bronze doorknobs (all of which we’ve since bought and replaced in the house), outdoor light fixtures (since bought and replaced), and giant bags of garden soil and mulch, all — you guessed it — re-bought and used multiple times over during the years that these things have sat, forlorn and neglected, in the bowls of The Shed.

I found bags of trash.

I found an unopened, unused seed starting kit.

I found a tupperware bowl I’d long – long – since given up finding.  Unfortunately, it was filled with oil-soaked newspapers, but still.  Finally discovering its fate brought me peace.

And so, my dears, did cleaning out that shed.

Clean Shed

If the difference doesn’t look drastic to you, keep in mind that this “after” photo, as opposed to the “before,” now contains a lawn mower, hand cart, weed whacker, large rake, cylinder of propane (where is the best place to keep this, by the way?), and several garden tools and flower pots.

I would have carted out the 7 bags of concrete mix, but I found that moving one from the bookshelf in the back to the rest of the pile may have caused me permanent back damage (just kidding — I think), so there they will stay.

This discovery was important because it made me admit — finally — that while Justin is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind type of person, I’m most definitely an it-might-be-out-of-sight-but-it’s-still-right-there-in-mind-so-it’s-still-giving-me-an-eye-twitch type of person.

And also, call me crazy, but I like to be able to access things without wading through a pile of garbage.

But — and pay attention because this is important — if I can just accept the above statements as fact and realize that Justin is about as likely to change his habits as I’m likely to sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life, then we’re one step closer to reaching a symbiosis that actually… I don’t know… might allow us to get things done.

A partnership, if you will.

If I can keep the shed looking like this, despite his rat-pack hoarding ways, then I’m giving him the tools he needs to do things like this:

Photo taken, unfortunately, on a much drearier day.

What happened on Saturday is that I made a mental leap.  One of acceptance, if not understanding.

And that, I think, is what we call accomplishment.

So Our Mail Lady Thinks We’re Cool

Guess what I did yesterday.

It’s something I despise but, much to my shock and dismay, is pretty much a must-do for homeowners.

That’s right – yard work.

*shudder*

We actually have quite a bit we “should” do in both the front and back yards to make this place more presentable for resale, but when I start to think about the stagnant pond we need to take out, the grass we need to plant, the holes we need to fill in, and the termite-infested garden bed we need to demolish, I find myself fighting the intense urge to crawl back under the covers and not emerge until September.

And, considering I love summer, that simply won’t do.

So?

Baby steps.

Just like everything else.

Last weekend, Justin removed this random trellis sticking out into our back yard off the side of the house which the previous owners had stuck there to support the equally random rose bush vine thingy that’s full of thorns that will claw at you every time you enter the back yard through the fence gate or back garage door, which lie on either side of the trellis.  Oh, yeah – he took the rose bush out, too.

I didn’t cry.

Here’s a photo I snapped of the trellis on Closing Day*.  The owners must have installed it just before we moved in, because it took virtually no time for the thing to start warping and the paint to peel and virtually start looking like a big ol’ catastrophe:

The “bed” for the bush had been loosely lined with some leftover bricks they’d used for the back patio, so yesterday I dug those out and decided to beautify our mailbox.

I forgot to take a “before” photo, but the mailbox was basically a naked post surrounded by spiny weeds and gravely dirt and over all just looked unkempt.  We recently replaced the “box” part of the mailbox for around $11 because the old one was falling apart, but I wanted to use those leftover bricks and some cheap-o flowers we bought on our recent trip to Big Bloomers to finish the whole thing off.

Because – you know – making stuff look pretty is what we do in the ‘burbs.

Forgive the crazy lighting in these photos.  The sun this morning is already pretty intense.

Turns out this, like so many other projects I start, was a bit more difficult than I’d originally bargained.

For starters, the ground at the base of the mailbox was not level.  Not by a long shot.  So if I’d simply laid the bricks around it, there would’ve been several holes and it would have looked like a 2-year-old decided to stack some blocks around my mailbox and never put them away.

So, after hauling bricks from the back yard to the front, I dug.  I used a tiny little garden trowel and dug through rocky soil, roots, grubs, and spider carcases (I kid you not) to have a relatively flat surface on which to build my little brick wall.  I’d sufficiently basted my skin with a fine layer of sweat and a flour coating of dirt and grime by the time I finished what I thought would be a five-minute project.

Of course, it wasn’t until after I finished the project and wasn’t completely satisfied with the overall stability/levelness that my neighbor told me I should have used a rubber mallet to completely level the bottom layer.

Oh well – I’ll fix it when this one falls apart.

Overall, I’m still fairly happy with how it turned out:

It’s definitely not perfect, but neither are the bricks.  And for that matter, neither am I.

And any time my inner perfectionist is annoyed at the slight misalignment and unequal brick sizes, I’ll remind myself of one, indisputable fact that makes everything seem okay:

It’s just a mailbox.

*I just this minute realized that tomorrow (4/20, baby) is our 4 YEAR Anniversary of owning this house.  Holy crap, where does the time go?  I guess that trellis didn’t deteriorate as quickly as I’d thought…

Don’t Ask Questions… It’s Art

A couple of days ago, Justin and I headed back to Big Bloomers Flower Farm, home of the giant green Adirondack chair, to pick up a few plants.  We decided to go easy this year, since my lack of a regular paycheck would make it difficult to rebuild last year’s potager garden (using termite resistant wood!).

So instead of all that, we decided to try berries this year:  strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

It’s gonna be a summer of smoothies if all goes well.

As I was meandering through a maze of garden statues at Big Bloomers, I was fascinated by all of the crap people actually buy just to stick in their lawns.

(No offense if you are one of these people, although I’m not sure how what I just said could not offend you, but the fact that I just said, “no offense” should automatically retract any offense that may have been delivered.  Right?)

Okay, so they’re not all bad.

Like these guys.  They’re kinda cute, right?  Kinda portly and cheerful and okay they do make me smile just a little and they’re so adorable I just wanna squeeze the bacon right out of them.

Then eat it.

Okay, maybe they look a little scared – not cheerful.

But what can I say?  I like bacon.

And okay, I can see where something like this might look kind of cool, if… you know… you live in the desert and want people to think large animals just keel over and die in your lawn and you leave them to rot until there’s nothing left but bone – a scattering of skeletal remains, warning all of the cute little bunnies and squirrels that they best not trespass on your yard, bitches, because you. could. be. next.

And giant cowboy boots?  Really?

I hate to break it to you, Big Bloomers, but North Carolina is not the last frontier.

Now this one could be kind of fun.  I could see myself buying this if I had kids and hiding it in a pile of leaves and then laughing hysterically when it scares the crap out of them.

What?  I already told you – I’d be a great mom.

And what’s this?

OMG, I’ve always wanted a rooster dressed like Charles Dickens posing like he’s giving the famous soliloquy in Hamlet while balancing a basket on his comb in which birds can bathe!


This last one probably had me the most confused, I’ll admit.

I mean… wtf happened to its head?


Yeah… I’m going to put that in my yard because that’s realistic.

Oh… wait.

I took this picture yesterday and posted it on the Domestiphobia Facebook page.

It’s a dogtail, get it?

You know, as opposed to a cattail.  You know, a cattail that grows by the lake.  Except this is a dogtail by the lake.

Whatever.

I wonder if Big Bloomers still has that statue…

I’m Not Coming Back (and You Can’t Make Me)

Just thought I’d stop in and let everyone know that I have decided to forego the Frederick apartment and Costa Rica trip and pretty much my life as I know it to live out the rest of my days with my in-laws in Cape Cod.

I haven’t run the idea by them yet, but I’m sure they’d be cool with it.  I mean, who wouldn’t want an unemployed 28-year-old shacking up with them for all of eternity?


They shouldn’t have a ‘Welcome’ sign if they don’t mean it.

I love visiting Chuckles’ folks.  Aside from being two of the nicest, most laidback people on the face of the Earth, they’ve managed, over 17-odd years, to transform their property into a heavenly piece of mellow, stress-free paradise.

Here’s how a typical morning goes when we visit:  I wake up around 9 a.m. to find freshly ground coffee waiting for me in the kitchen.  Amen.  Then, I shuffle (because that’s the only way I know how to transport myself in the morning) out to the porch where I’m greeted by the warm sun, a cool morning breeze and this…

 

…and these…

…and these.

And then I proceed to lounge around in my jammies in a drooling, zen-like trance for the better part of the morning until a plate of cheesy scrambled eggs, fluffy waffles topped with fresh fruit and homemade Kahlua whipped cream, and a Bloody Mary that’d make you slap your mama magically appears in front of me. 

And then I silently give thanks that, for some insane reason, Chuckles’ parents keep inviting me up to mercilessly sponge off their polite hospitality.  Obviously, these people haven’t learned enough about me yet.

Seriously, I’m not even kidding when I say that being here is the best high you can get without a dealer on speed dial.  Everything about this place is quiet and peaceful and homey and just so frickin’ picturesque, from the flowers Jude planted out front…

…to the vegetable garden Rick cultivated out back with his 10 green thumbs…

…to the stone patio they recently put in by themselves

…everything about this place screams, “CHILL THE FRICK OUT, YOU NEUROTIC HEADCASE.”

And sometimes I need to be bossed around a bit, you know?

“Dude.  You’re, like, totally harshing my mellow with that camera.”

Something Went Right

I just made a salad with this:

I grew it myself.

I accidentally touched the cilantro when I went out to cut this.  Now my hands stink.

Note to future self:  Don’t grow cilantro.