Up, up and away

I joined a Facebook group called “Buy Nothing” in which members give and receive each other stuff.  So today while I was cleaning up, I looked at the 18 helium balloons from earlier birthday celebrations this week and thought, “Oh hey, maybe I could offer those balloons to someone in that group.”

I took a photo and made a quick post.

Four people asked for some balloons.  I suggested each person text me for the directions.

Two did so and then I realized that I would have to go before the balloon recipients would arrive.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just leave them outside.  I even labeled each of the four bunches of balloons with the names of the four women who expressed interest.

I tied each bunch of balloons separately near my front door and drove away.

The first woman arrived to see a bunch of balloons flying into the sky.

The second woman arrived to find two bunches of balloons left, but not the one with her name on it.

The third and fourth women did not stop by.  One texted me using transposed numbers, so I obviously did not respond, having not received the text.  The other never got back to me at all.

So, I started with 18 balloons.  Twelve balloons floated away.  I have six balloons left.  Supposedly one of the women will come by in the morning after 8 AM for three balloons.

This reminds me of a Common Core math word problem where it doesn’t matter what number you end up with as long as you can describe what happened.  How many balloons do you have if you start with 18 and then 12 float away and 6 remain?  How many women are annoyed when they drove to your house to get balloons only to find none waiting?  How many women will text you but not show up?  What happened to the 12 floating balloons?  How many balloons did I give away?

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow . . . ?

I have so many questions.


Up, up and away

Fifty-one (Day Two)

Normally, I work split shifts.  I’ve done this for eight years.  Working from 10 AM to 3 PM and then 9 PM to midnight allows me to do the Mom-parts of my life with a fair degree of competency, dirty dishes in the sink notwithstanding.  It’s the best of all worlds and the worst of all worlds.

(How?  Well, consider what it would be like to share your office with laundry baskets and how aggravating it is to have your kids yelling outside your office door or interrupting you while you are doing Work that requires Thought and Concentration. But then think of how amazing it would be to stumble to your desk while still wearing your nightgown and glasses.  Just hypothetically, of course.)

Every once in awhile, though, I cover someone else’s shift and work from 5 PM until 1 AM.  Sitting at my desk for eight straight hours sounds easy-peasy, but it’s kind of grueling in a back-pain, bleary-eyed sort of way.  But it gives me the rare opportunity to be out and about in the world during the daytime which is kind of fun.

And so it was today.  I woke up slowly and read for awhile (Room) and then went to a move (Joy).  After the movie, I stopped by Starbucks for “Birthday Reward” drink (free, but you have to know to ask!).  I went to Trader Joe’s and while I was checking out, the extremely friendly lady bagging my groceries said, “So, how was work today?” and I was momentarily confused.

Did I work today?  Then I remember that I hadn’t worked yet and told them so.

While I drove home, I noticed the cirrus clouds and figured it would be a beautiful sunset that I would miss because I’d be sitting at my desk while that magic happened.

By the time I got home, I had just enough time to put away groceries and give my boys directions for making homemade pizza before starting work.

Now the day is done.  The house is quiet.  My desk is an absolute wreck, covered with piles of unmatched socks and books and sticky notes and empty water bottles.  My knees are kind of achy and my back is stiff and I’m ready to sleep.

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

(It’s definitely a balancing act, this life of mine.)

Fifty-one (Day Two)


Wait.  Should I not mention my advanced age?  Too late, I guess.

Today, on January 28–which I still consider “today” since I haven’t gone to bed yet–I had my fifty-first birthday.  I find it ludicrous that I’m this old.  I outlived my dad by four years.  When my mom was this age, she was a grandmother.  It stands to reason that I’m more than halfway through my life span, unless I live to be older than 102.  That is a sobering thought.

And while Hollywood celebrities my age (I’m looking at you, Brooke Shields and Sarah Jessica Parker) still manage to look thirty, I don’t, much to my 13-year old daughter’s chagrin.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart.  You can’t “filter” away saggy eyelids.

(I know that everyone older will cluck and say, “Oh, you’re young!” and everyone young will shudder and say, “Oh, you’re so old!”  Life is weird.)

So, here’s how my day went.

I intended to sleep in since I was taking off half the day from work.

The dog barked her fool head off, starting at 8 or so and continuing off and on until 9:30 AM.  Thanks, Dog.

The carpool moms texted me with information about who would be picked up or not this afternoon.  (This happened during the dog’s quiet moments, when I’d drifted back to sleep.)

My college roommate texted me a birthday greeting from another time zone.  Yep, that woke me, too.

I finally got up, made my bed, and had enough time to take a quick shower before taking my son to work.  Meanwhile, my hair dried naturally and so I had lovely puffy hair all day.  Roseanne Roseannadanna, if you know what I mean.

My husband arrived home and we headed off for lunch at the Harbor.  (Birthday coupon, $25 off, yay.)  It was a beautiful day, seventy degrees, sunny.  Perfect.  We drove around to the ocean beach after lunch so I could take a few pictures, including this one:

Pelican taking flight at #Oceanside Harbor.

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

Then back home where I cleaned up the kitchen until it was time to drive carpool.  I took Grace through Starbucks for a celebratory drink and then it was time to drop off a son at work and hurry back to the beach for the sunset.

Home again in time for dinner . . . then time for relaxing and texting and reading and finally, birthday cake and gifts before work again.

And now, the day’s done.

And the year of fifty-one has begun.


(Rhymes.  Ha ha.)




There she was just a walkin’ down the street

Just an egret walking down the sidewalk…

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

The other day, I was driving through a nearby neighborhood to drop off a kid from the carpool when I spotted this egret walking down the sidewalk.

I blurted out, “Did you see that?” and then put the car into reverse (after checking for other cars, of course) and backed up for a closer look.  I handed my phone to my daughter so she could take this photo through the van window.

You never know what you’ll see . . . if you’re looking.


I really did intend to write more regularly once the new year arrived–just like I intended to abstain from all sugar and you can guess how that went?  (Hint:  I baked chocolate chip cookies tonight.)  January always seems like it will be a fresh start, but it’s January!

Here are some things that happened this January:

  1.  The rainstorm I wrote about already.  (Can I just be a little more obsessed with the rare rainstorm?)
  2. A weekend spent cleaning out kitchen cupboards.  (What has my life become?)
  3. Another weekend spent cleaning out the garage.  (I barely made a dent and it looks somewhat worse than when I started.)
  4. My 17-year old son got his driver’s permit.  (My nervous system is . . . let’s just say “nervous” when trying to communicate while fearing for my car’s paint job, not to mention fearing whiplash.)
  5. I had the dryer vent guy come and clean out the dryer vent.  (My dryer vent has more turns and twists than a daytime soap opera.  The hot air and lint does not have a straight shot outside.  ((I’m pretty sure there’s tortured metaphor about life here somewhere.))  Instead, the pipe turns and then bends and then turns again and clogs up.  This means that it has to be regularly cleaned out by a professional.  The signs I notice are twofold:  First, I smell something burning.  The “something” is the lint that accumulates in the open space in the bottom of my dryer.  I finally learned to open up the dryer by myself and vacuum it out.  Second, my laundry starts to take forever to dry . . . three hours, for instance, for a single load.  When that happens, I have to call the guy and  he comes and takes my money and solves my problem.  Well, he solves my laundry-related problem anyhow.  I have other problems that $145.00 will not fix.  Ha.)
  6. I missed several glorious sunsets at the beach due to a wonky work schedule or parental obligations.  I’ve been to the beach a few times, but the best and more vibrant January sunsets happened while I was trudging through my life.  I am trying not to feel bitter.  My husband says, “Oh, there will be other sunsets,” but I think, this sunset will never occur again . . . if you miss it, you miss it.
  7. I read my first book of the new year, Diana Nyad’s Find a WayWhat an epic story!  I loved it, especially since I went to hear her speak and could therefore “hear” her voice as I read.  She is a remarkable human being.

And now my 2:00 AM bedtime is approaching, so I leave you with this photo of a sunset, my best so far this January.

#carlsbad beach tonight

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

There she was just a walkin’ down the street

The magic of tidying up

The rain continues to fall.  This, coupled with a few late shifts at work, has kept me inside, away from the ocean, feeling like my life is just a series of obligations stacked one on top of the next.  I do not love it when my calendar has no breathing space.

You know what helps?

In snippets of stolen time here and there, I have been sorting, purging, organizing and putting stuff back where it belongs.  I threw papers and magazines into the recycling bin.  I cleaned out my pantry.  I alphabetized my spices.  (I found one tin from 2002.  I don’t know how this escaped my previous alphabetizing.)  I pulled everything out of a corner kitchen cupboard that I had shoved there in 2011 when we moved into this house.

As I slowly put things in order, my brain feels better.

The disarray will never end, though.  I know this.  While I’m tidying up one cupboard, a closet is quietly unraveling, turning into a tangle of wire hangers and heap of neglected shoes and piles of dirty-but-not-that-dirty-clothes that I might wear again before I wash them, but who knows?  Even if I lived alone, things would still migrate from their assigned cubby.

But for now, at least I can find the turmeric and my kids’ birth certificates.  One thing at a time.

(And yes, I do have The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my Kindle.  I look forward to reading it, but right now I’m in the middle of Diana Nyad’s memoir about swimming from Cuba to Florida.  I have a big pile of books to read.)



The magic of tidying up

Rainy days and Tuesdays

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent most of my adult life there as well.  I am all-too familiar with rain.  I remember the year we moved back to the Seattle area as a married couple and it rained fifty days in a row.

Yet I never–not once–worried about my house flooding while living there.  Oh sure, occasionally, the rain would drip through a leaky roof, but that was the extent of it.

Today, in my fifth year of living in mild and sunny San Diego, I freaked out when I realized that the water was not draining from my yard as hard rain fell.

At first, I had just glanced outside the sliding glass doors from my office and noticed that the water seemed to be standing instead of draining.  I had checked my garage earlier to make sure no water was seeping under the door as it had done during the last heavy rainfall.

All was well.  But now that I noticed the standing water outside my door, I hurried back to the garage to find water streaming under the door.  I stepped outside in my slippers to check the drain and realized the water required more than slippers.

I ran upstairs and put on my husband’s boots.  Ran back outside and sloshed to the drain where my feeble attempts with a screwdriver did nothing.

I opened the gate to the area next to the garage side door and found a good six inches of water pooling.  I knew the water would be going under the side door and into the garage since that drain there was also clogged.

I ran back inside, shoved bath towels against the garage door to stop the water.  (Ha, such optimism.)  Then I replaced my husband’s boots with knee-high rain boots.

If you are keeping track at home, the score is: 2 drains, both clogged + sudden downpour = flooding side yard (which is all cement).

I grabbed a push broom and began sweeping and pushing the water out the gate to the front sidewalk where it could stream down the driveway and down the street.  With minutes, I was completely soaked.

Like in this scene, only it was just me, my push broom, relentless rain, and panic:

So, when I spotted my sons through the office window–where they were gaping at me–I opened the sliding door enough to say, “Call dad and tell him I need sandbags.”

Then I resumed push-brooming the water out the gate . . . for a solid forty-five minutes.  I seriously worried that the water would continue to rise.  The downspouts from the roof were gushing.  The lawn in the back yard was beginning to look like a pond.  The water continued to pool outside my office door and I remembered how terrible it was last year when we had water damage in our house from a flooded toilet.

Finally, I had to leave my Sisyphean task because I had to drive carpool.  Fortunately, the rain began to let up a little and my son (bless him) took over the job of sweeping the water out the gate.  I dripped all the way upstairs where I stood in the tub to remove all my wet clothes.  My hair was as wet as if I’d just showered.  I actually picked up the kids looking like a drowned rat.

By the time I got home an hour later, the rain had mostly stopped.  We set up a barricade of sandbags.

I could not be more exhausted and my hands burn from the rough wood handle of that push broom.  But I’m fairly confident that we are safe from flooding.

Tomorrow I’m calling someone to come and clean out those drains.

It’s supposed to rain all week which is hilarious since we’re in a terrible drought.  You should see news coverage of the rain.  Of course, my attitude was one of complete mockery until my own rain boots filled with water while I frantically fought the forces of nature with nothing but a push broom and determination.

[Insert ark joke here.]


Rainy days and Tuesdays

Calendars galore (but what day is this?)

For Christmas, I received four calendars in addition to the “Agenda” calendar I had already purchased to sit on my desk.  Good thing since it’s been an ongoing challenge to remember what day it is. I’ve been confused all week.

My great intentions have already fizzled but I told myself, “oh, whatever . . . Monday’s coming . . . let’s not get legalistic about January 1.”  I think my intentions are like those birthday candles that you can’t blow out.  They’ll re-ignite and I’ll be all about long walks and broccoli before you know it.

#BerneseMountainDog – this dog is posing and laughing. So funny.

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

I did manage to get all the Christmas decorations down and repacked.  I bought three new plastic bins to replace some cardboard boxes that got damaged by rain in my garage.  Yes.  Rain.  In my garage.

We live in a mostly dry climate yet when recent rain fell, it fell hard and fast and unbeknownst to me, through my garage because the drain by the side of my house was blocked.  Consequently, the rain took the path of least resistance which happened to flow under the side door of my garage.  It meandered through my cluttered garage before exiting through the front garage door and down the driveway.

(This is exactly how the Grand Canyon came to be.)

So, nothing was really damaged, other than the boxes.  I know now that I need to make sure everything is in plastic bins, not cardboard, in the garage just in case.

Anyway, Christmas decorations are put away but one thing dominoes into the next and now I need to clean out the whole garage, my entire office and my bedroom closet.  I also really need to cull through my library and organize all my books again.  (The very thought of the disarray of my kitchen cabinets makes me twitchy.  I really need to pull everything out and get rid of the stuff I stashed in the deep corner cabinets when we moved here over four years ago.)

I didn’t have time for that today, though, because first things first.  I dealt with the Christmas decorations, cleaned the kitchen and put dinner in the CrockPot.  Then I cleaned and organized my pantry.  (I also saw a movie with my husband.)

In the pantry, I discovered a lot of brown rice and canned pumpkin.  I’ve also been buying a lot of sweet potatoes.  I have no idea.  So much rice.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in the pantry studying a bag of black beans, wondering if they were expired.  I never did find a date.  I thought about how much I would regret throwing away those beans in the event of an apocalypse.  Even kind of old beans would be better than nothing if the world came to an end, right?

These thoughts are why it takes so long to sort and organize.

(By the way, if you were my label-maker, where would you be?)




Calendars galore (but what day is this?)