decapitated chocolate bunnies

Thus ends Easter Sunday, with me sitting here in the rocking chair that I moved into my bedroom, assessing the mess around me. There is a basket of chocolate on my bed (including, yes, a decapitated chocolate bunny. But Poncho ate the staring, yellow sugar eyes, okay!), which is unmade due to the rush to leave for church this morning. There are papers piled up on my desk, magazines piled up on the dresser, library books piled up… well, everywhere. All the shoes that I own (not many, actually) are strewn through the room, boots and moccasins and flats because what the heck is up with the weather? And don’t even get me started on the three calendars, two notebooks, two bags of potting soil, and oodles of newspaper pots crammed in the corner. Gardening junkie. What can I say.

At least there is good news on that front. My seedlings have sprouted– Well, the tomatoes and leeks, anyway. The eggplants’ pots are stubbornly refusing to look even the tiniest bit hopeful. And I haven’t planted anything else besides those three yet. Oh, except foxgloves just this evening. (*claps hands girlishly*) (Oh dear, someone please restrain me from doing things like that! My younger– and probably older– selves would be so embarrassed!) (Seriously, though. Since when did I become so in love with… with… flowers?) (More importantly, do I really care? Maybe not so much, considering that my weird infatuation caused the bringing home of some blue hyacinths, which are currently perfuming the air with the smell of elusive, mythical spring.)

The tomatoes at first look like near-microscopic, anemic-green arches still mostly buried in soil, and then slowly they rear their heads. Two pointed leaves escape, finally, from the shell that was once a seed. Now they look like tiny, blind, fierce dragons, roaring silently, or else spreading their leaves wide and yawning for (fake) sunshine.

They’re darn cute, is what I’m trying to say.

All right, enough of plants… What else? Oh. Right. This.
Grandpa (giving me boy advice): “Don’t go for some guy who’s twenty-three…”
Me: “Why? They’re done with school, maybe they have a job…”
Grandpa: “Naw! They work at some video store.”
Me: “Um. Grandpa? When was the last time you saw a video store?”
Grandpa: “Well, you know what I mean!”

Other advice I received basically boiled down to “don’t go for an Amish vegetarian”, so… Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, guys. (Maybe I’ll find an Amish vegetarian who works at the last remaining Blockbuster on the face of the earth. That would really shake things up!)

 

I am off to water my seedlings now, the demanding little buggers– but hah! I can’t fool you, reader. You know that I, with my  peculiar need to stroke and coo over every plant in the home improvement store, live for this thrill of watching baby dragons unfurl their first true leaves, spiky and complete with prickles.

Because Easter, obviously, isn’t all just decapitated chocolate bunnies. It’s life springing new! In the midst of messy chaos, sugar comas, and too many cups of tea, yup, definitely. Jesus is risen and the foxgloves are sown and death is powerless and all is right in the world.

I am filled with joy, and I hope you are too. :)
~Pen

such a long time since I heard from that girl of mine

Today felt like, dare I say it…(do I dare? and do I dare? Do I dare disturb the universe???) (I like the line about daring to eat a peach better, I have to say)

Today felt like spring!

And not Spring.
Because guys. We do not capitalize the names of seasons. It is not grammicly correct, as Bug would say.

Anyway, Mom and I went on an antiques odyssey today to a bunch of places we’ve never been to before. Usually we head into Lakewood for antique and vintage, because it’s riddled with cool little shops. But today we had to pick Dodge up from a retreat in far-flung Avon (I think someone should add “Stratford-Upon-” to that, because why not) and we decided to make a day of it. The weather was so warm that I wore only a sweater, and it was sunny and wonderful and meanwhile I guzzled hot tea from a paper cup anyway because I have a bad cold. So basically I also touched a lot of cool stuff with my germy fingers. Whatever.

First we went into this neat old house that was packed the brim, but still bright and clean. All the way from the enclosed porch to the attic to the basement, there was stuff to hunt through. I was dazzled by the sight of the house’s actual kitchen overflowing with vintage kitchen stuff and completely nonsensical antique cooking implements. I mean, you pick some stuff up and you wonder, Is this a utensil or a tractor component? It was at this house that I bought a big glass light fixture thing that is yellow and brass and shaped like a flower. And it’s epic. (Because I said the word epic!) We also went through a huge barn-turned-antique place where Mom became keenly interested in shutters; another house that was connected sort of in a way; and one more antique store that creeped us out because it was basically junk thrown everywhere in cobwebby corners and dim lighting and different music in every room and a slanted floor like a funhouse of DOOM. (*gasps for breath*)

Then we came home and collapsed for a bit, and I made newspaper pots for my seedlings, which I will plant tomorrow. (If I have soil. I kind of forgot to check… I’m a little disorganized this year for some reason.)

Oh! Oh! And! I forgot! This past week was the week I took my GED test! The actual test-taking was fine and surprisingly not difficult, which has the reverse effect on me than you might expect– I’m actually more apprehensive of what my scores will be since I found it so easy. (Everything has to be more complicated, said my overthinking brain.) And the part where we all sat around in the waiting area during the breaks in between sections of the test? Yeah, that was an experience. The guy I was sitting next to called his mom and asked her to bring him food…
Him: “I need food… No, I’m not trying to yell, I just need FOOD. … …Ew, no. Baloney is inhumanly disgusting. No. No…. What?… I said, baloney is disgusting. I’ll– I will gnaw the flesh off my own leg before I eat baloney.”

My thoughts: Please can break time be over.

So, once I am officially marked “Passed” for the test, I will be graduated! Now I can further my education in the school of LIFE. As if I haven’t already been doing that. As if I actually sat down and did actual schoolwork at all this year… Cough. It was self-guided study, okay?
Basically I’m unschooled, OKAY!?!?!

Also, people keep asking me what my “plan” is now. It’s not so bad when people I actually know ask me this, but when it comes to acquaintances and/or strangers, it gets kind of awkward because I don’t have “a plan”. (“If we sticks to the plan, the plan will work”, as my dad always says.) Well, actually, I do, but since I’m already implementing it (finish my novel and get moving on that writing career while working at the library and possibly moving up in rank there), it sounds lame. Life is so unfair.

Maybe I should start steering the conversation in a different direction. Like this:
“Wellll, technically, it’s not so much a plan as a goal…”
“Oh? So what is it? College? Career?”
“Heaven. You know. The usual. The great thing is, you can get a full ride.”

I mean, who can argue with that, right?

Yours till the ink smudges,
Pen

PS: *News Flash* (Or, as Francis would say, “News for you FLASH!!”)… Radar is real. In case you were wondering if he was actually just a really convincing hologram or something.
PPS: Also, while Radar was here, I became suddenly aware of the fact that so very many of my conversations with the DHFs are, like this blog post, laced with oodles of quotes from not only movies and culture, but also from each other. (“She’s leav-ing to-mor-row!” etc). We have a quote-addiction problem.
PPPS: Like how Eliza can quote the entire “Potato-Head Packing Scene” from Toy Story 2. Just saying. It’s that bad.

just whistle while you…’re unemployed.

Today, six squash plants and two bell pepper plants got put in the “auxilary garden” (ie, my grandparents’ backyard), and I weeded out the raised bed and the blackberry bush has suddenly decided to become enormous. Yay! And Grandpa kept asking me which pumpkin he could give to his neighbor’s baby (apparently he promised the baby that he could have a pumpkin) (and I was like, sure, because the baby will remember that and bear a grudge if you don’t) (but I am all for children playing with pumpkins, so obviously I do not mind giving away one of the many, many gorgeous squash that I will be growing). (I am imagining pumpkins big enough for that baby to live in, you understand.)

So, that was fun. And I am still covered with mud.

Then the library called me.
They said they loved me.
But no.

I was all professional on the phone, and then afterward Mom was like, “Oh, let me give you a hug”. Which I declined because I did not want to be sad about it. (But of course I went back to where I’d been sitting and was all, “Back to my jobless life. I’ll be living in the basement” etc etc.) Whenever I’m feeling disappointed/sad, I can totally be fine in a few minutes and not cry or anything like that. But if anyone says, “Are you okay?” or “Do you want me to [insert kind favor here]”… Well.

Speaking of kind things, Eliza made me a very delicious fried egg sandwich for breakfast yesterday. Because she loves me, and knows all about my breakfasting woes. (I hope she also knows that she is the best cook ever.) (OK, except my grandmother. But it’s impossible to best someone’s grandma at cooking.) 

(Evidently I like talking in parenthesis today.)

So, even though I’m still a little bummed out, because I REALLY wanted the job (I will pause here to give you time to absorb this stunning new information), even though there is an underlying stress that reminds me of when we had to move, I’m surprisingly calm about everything. Besides, how bummed can a person be while digging in the garden singing “hoireann o, hi ri u” with lemon balm and blackberry leaves dripping rain and the random garlic shoots curling elegant and ready to bloom.

And while Poncho is sitting here now eating dinner and muttering to himself, “Hero Factory. Where the best, most bravest heroes are made.”

birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name

For Easter, I got Matched and so I’ve been reading it again. I forgot how good it was. Even though I know the story now, I still feel tense as I read… and I’m once again inspired to memorize as much poetry as possible. (I know the “do not go gentle” poem is the important one in that book, but I LOVE the birthday poem. It’s a possible addition to my memorization list.) Although I was already partly inspired to do this when I checked out a book of Tennyson’s poems from the library. I loved “The Splendor Falls” because of the blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying / blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 
And our echoes roll from soul to soul
And basically the whole thing.
I’m going to memorize that one first.

And then I went for a walk and it rained and when I got home we had recieved our new trash cans. The same ones the DHFs have had for ages already, the same ones that Bug hates, and which disturb me for various reasons. (Namely because it’s just a clever, clever idea to eliminate more jobs. Congratulations on being a dang genius, whoever came up with this.)
Mom: “The dystopia has arrived!”
Me: “Welcome to Mapletree Borough.”

I find it ironic that this happens on the day I have spent reading Matched and listening to The Suburbs (this town’s so strange / they built it to change and we used to write / we used to write letters, we used to sign our names… but by the time we met / by the time we met, the times had already changed and pretty much all the songs make me think of dystopias like Matched and Fahrenheit 451 and oh wait the one we currently live in.)

In other news, I think one of the names I should have been named is May. Because:
1. It has the letter y in it and y is my favorite letter. Especially in lowercase form.
2. It’s classic.
3. People think of the month of May as springy and feminine and flowery and bright. But it also has the potential to be strong and unpredictable and stormy. Which I would like to think of as a metaphor for myself, as I think that due to my appearance (and, indeed, my generally pleasant disposition) people assume I am the flowery, feminine, spring-like sort. Which I often am. But I also like to think that I am also unpredictable. That I can create a storm. That my words can fork lightning (to quote Matched and Dylan Thomas).
4. The other meaning of May, besides the month. Not the “Mother May I” meaning, as in permission, but the may as in maybe, perhaps. Will she do this? Will she become that? She may. She may. She may not. I like the uncertainty, like no one is ever really sure which way I’m going, and neither am I. I’m never going to stop being a “perhaps” sort of person, I think. I think I’ll never be finished, polished, done, solidified. Static.
5. I’d like to always be changing, growing, springlike and new. All these things come to mind when I think of the word “May” and that’s why it’s the first name I’ve ever truly felt would really fit me. (There are a lot of names I like, just none that are mine.) (But May actually might be.) (May be.)

But obviously, as I was born in January, my parents would never have thought to name me that.
Sigh again.
Sometimes people need to think outside the box.

~Pen

PS: Whoever caught all the (too many) Matched refrences in this post deserves appaluse. :)

we need a hero

Dodge and I were talking about superhero movies…

Dodge: “Spiderman is lame.”
Me: “Don’t insult Spiderman!”
Dodge: “Psh. Ohhhkay.”
Me: “Fine. Well, I like Captain America better anyway.”
Dodge: “Does he have a gun?”
Me: “He’s in the army, so yeah, obviously. And a shield. Which makes him better than Spiderman because Spiderman doesn’t have any cool weapons.”
Dodge: “He shoots a web, oooh! He flies between the buildings! What if he had to fight someone on a farm in the middle of nowhere?”
Me: “That’s why he doesn’t live in Kansas.”
Dodge: “Like, the superhero of Kansas would have to be a tractor or something. Tractor Man! Half man, half tractor! You know, he tried to make a supertractor and then there was a radiation leak–”

Hah. Speaking of sci-fi accidents, I demand to speak with whoever made the weather go crazy. Seriously, 80 degrees in March? The summer is going to be hot as H-E-double-hockey-sticks. And about as fun.

Oh wait. I’m going to the beach. With the DHFs.
Never mind!
This summer is going to rock! Yeah!

Plus, at least our new backyard will be shaded, and at least there are a million birds out there (seriously, Dodge and Dad saw a turkey back there yesterday. A TURKEY. Sitting there in a suburban backyard. Then it flapped off. I didn’t see it, and I still kind of don’t believe they actually saw it and are just trying to see how gullible I am). As a summer project I want to learn to identify which songs belong to which birds. I’d also like to actually go bird-watching, with binoculars and all. And go to the park on a regular basis, in order to keep some kind of hold on my fleeting sanity. Plus I really, really feel like reading a ton. All the Lord of the Rings books, of course! Finally. I think I might at last be able to manage it.

But I’m also enjoying spring… For what I think is the first time, it doesn’t feel like a wimpy season. I suddenly feel like running a lot and planting a million flowers and blooming trees. I went to the home improvement store the other day to get my compost bin, and I saw these purple and white columbine flowers… and then I pretended I didn’t desperately want to get them to plant in our yard. I can’t believe this! I’m turning into a flower sort of girl! How… How… something. At least it was columbine and not gerbera daisies or something, though. I haven’t completely changed!

Yet I am changing. I feel this is going to be a year of transformation.
As long as said transformation doesn’t include rabid tractors or radiation leaks… ;)

~Pen

(When the sirens wail, we need a hero here! And when the air conditioner drones on and on.)

It’s the only thing that matters! It’s the only thing that lasts!

(Did I mention I watched Gone With the Wind with the DHFs in Kentucky? Because I did. And it permanently warped my brain so that now whenever someone says anything about land I basically re-enact that scene where all the voices in her head go “TARA” and it scares me a little.)

Ahem.
Anyway.

Today was a great day to dig. It was warm and sunny and extremely windy. I dug my garden at Grandma Vegas’ house and I spent like two hours hunched over gathering rocks and sticks for my herb garden and a basket experiment, respectively. Dad told me (as I was tearing dead branches apart and getting a million scratches all over my hands) that my great-grandaddy Enoch used to make baskets.

I think I am growing into my ancestry. Farmers, mostly. People who grew things and made things and knew things. People who lived on the land.

And that was when I had the whole TARA! moment and only snapped out of it when the dog barked in my face.

But I still thought about land. Mom asked me if it felt good to be “working in the earth” today.

It felt very good.

And Dad, whilst I was doing these things, was working on a bench he is building out of the wood from our old backyard fort. He tore it down when we moved and brought the wood over with this plan in mind. Of course, the sun was already going down when he decided to drag out his tools after an afternoon of yard work and neighbor-meeting. I found it interesting that he picked up sticks during daylight hours, but decided to start doing things that involved, you know, sawing in the half-light.

Then I got home from dance just now and he also set up a turntable in the basement.
More on this later.

For now, I’ve got to go to bed… (Hopefully I won’t have another horribly realistic nightmare like I had last night– it was that I got a phone call from the library telling me that I’d been rejected!)

Yours till the night lights,
Pen

Spring Break

Yesterday, it being spring break and all, my family drove down to Columbus so we could go to Cosi. Poncho was there in November with Mom and Dad, and they thought we would all like to see it. So we got up early and packed into the car to set off on our journey.

Usually I like long drives. I like looking out the window at the woody scenes passing silently by, at the farm houses and tumbledown sheds and old barns, at the spreading fields and thickly forested hillsides.
Instead, the ride was not so peaceful.
Dad blasted the music and “put the pedal to the metal” (as Grandpa Vegas would say… he would have also remarked that we “musta been flyin'” and then probably made some car noises… vrrrrrrrrrrrr….). I watched the spedometer and found that we were going 90 mph!
Me: (clenching my teeth and bracing for my surely inevitable death) “Slow down, man!”
Dad: “I’m going with the flow of traffic, see? I wanna catch up with that horse trailer up there, he’s making good time.”
I tried not to watch the road.
Apparently, so did Dad.
Dad: “Hey, look, deer!”
Dodge: “Keep your eyes on the road!”
Dad: “That wouldn’t last long. Shreds your eyeballs right up.”
Yep, that’s my dad. Always has a smarty-pants answer.

Every once in a while, though, we did manage to slow down…
Dad: “There’s a snake in the grass!”
Me: “Huh?”
Dad: “Hey, Smoky, get off the road! Look at him, he’s causing a hazardous scenario.”
I noticed the state trooper car Dad was pointing at. All around us, the drivers were slowing down to the actual speed limit– which now felt like a crawl– and everyone was getting cramped.
Dad: “There’s a snake in the grass! There’s a bear in the air!”

We finally did make it to Columbus unharmed. Well, my eardrums may have suffered some damage. But oh well. I was just happy to see Columbus. I really want to spend more time in the actual city, rather than some attraction such as Cosi, next time we go down. I want to see if it really is better than Cleveland (which is how it seems, but who knows? Maybe it’s full of snotty people like in Lakewood, or maybe its public transportation is just as crappy as RTA, or maybe it’s insipid and fakey. Only one way to find out). 
We got into Cosi and there was a huge line of people wrapping around the entrance area. Luckily, we got to skip it since Mom and Dad bought a membership last time they went.
We went up to the members desk, where a guy greeted us with “How are you folks today?”
Dad: “Horrible, thank you.”
And the guy didn’t even notice.

Thus began our Cosi adventure. The boys and Dad and I did the Adventure exhibit, which is an interactive thing where you go into this big setup that looks like caverns, and you have to solve puzzles and go through mazes and such to find clues and get into this Observatory thing. When we got out, we found Mom and set off looking at all the other exhibits. My favorite was Progress, which is a set that you can roam around on. It’s supposed to be the same street but at different time periods. One was “Dr Quinn time” as we called it, and the other was the 60’s.
Near lunchtime, Dad and the boys decided they were going to go outside into the science park thing. There was a tiny green house out there. When they came back in, they told me that it was a Pod, an super-efficient eco house. Of course I had to go see it. Dodge came with me, and as we gazed into the tiny dwelling, we were both struck with what shall be heretofore referred to as Obsessive-ComPodsiveness. We started dreaming up Pods for ourselves. Single-person Pods, family Pods, Pod villages.

Dad and Poncho hung out at the oceans exhibit for a while as Mom took Dodge and I through the whole museum in search of more information on the Pod. She’d seen it while we were in Adventure, but she couldn’t remember where it was. Along the way, we ended up stopping to play with a voice changer, a metal dinosaur, a slow-mo video thing, optical illusions, and a wheel race thing (where I tripped over a metal post and got a nasty bruise). We finally found the Pod information after meeting up with Dad and Poncho again. Dodge and I swore we would build a Pod this summer.

When we finally left, hungry and tired, it was snowing. We stopped at the Scariest Fakeworld EVER, and then we went all the way home. Dad drove the speed limit on the way back, although this time I thought he would fall asleep, which was just as scary. And the roads were not too good from all the snow.
Before we got home we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa Vegas’ house, where Mom told me to tell them about the ride to Columbus.
Me: “Dad was going 90! I was so scared! And then he was getting all hyper, he kept saying stuff like ‘there’s a snake in the grass! There’s a bear in the air!'”
Grandpa: “Oh yeah, Smoky.”

So that was our grand adventure for the week. Dodge is as we speak drawing plans for the Pod he is going to build, and he’s even got Dad thinking about where we can get materials… So, things are interesting around here. :)

Peace,
Pen

Horse Chestnut Charles

Well, so far it looks like the groundhogs were right about getting spring. In fact, we were just talking about it last night…

Me: “How do they know if the groundhog sees its shadow? Just because it has one doesn’t mean he sees it.”
Mom: “When he goes back in his burrow they say he saw it.”
Dad: “Of course he goes back in his burrow. There’s a million reporters out there with cameras going off. Well, he’s in a cage anyway.”
Me: “What about Buckeye Chuck? Is he in a burrow?”
Dad: “No, he’s the same. But at least he’s a Buckeye.”
Me: “Yeah, Ohioan solidarity.”
Dad: “Except, in some fancy suburb, he’d be Horse Chestnut Charles… He pops up wearing an argyle sweater…”

I happened to be drinking water when he said that and he made me almost choke. Oh, Dad’s humor… Which reminds me of another story he told us yesterday night, about when he was in an elevator and some lady got on.

Her: “I hate these elevators blah blah blah blah blah.”
Dad: “Well, it’s better than the alternative.”
Her: “The stairs?”
Dad: “No, being thrown from the roof.”

Yep, he’s weird, but we love him. :)

-Pen

PS: I started reading 1984 and it’s stupid. I mean, wow, subtle, Mr Orwell. *eye roll*

Olympic Chair Vaulting, a Queen, and Chocolate Chips… It Must be Springtime

Today was absolutely perfect and gorgeous. Our van broke down. Yes, that doesn’t really say “perfect day”, I know, but see how it played out: We had amazingly springlike weather today, meaning I was just wearing a hoodie instead of a coat and I played outside since I couldn’t go to the dance performances I was s’posed to go to. My mom took my brother in my grandma’s car, though. Loooong story. But anyways, it was so awesome today that I desperately wanted to take some pics with my digital camera, but of course Mom had taken it to the dance thing so i got kinda mad… But I promise that as soon as it’s nice and I can, (possibly before the end of the week?) I’ll take some pcitures of my miraculous front yard setup and of some other neat things, like dead dried plants that look like something from a Seuss book. Seriously! But yeah, I set up these white plastic outdoor chairs we have (3 of them) and arranged them in the front yard, preparing for my new Olympic sport: Chair Vaulting. I jumped over them, only almost died once (a new record!) and then I got bored. So I made another setup, keeping the chairs where they were, and stuck sticks in the ground in front of them and threw dead berries on the porch and found those Suess Plants (I’m calling them that now, I forget what they were when they were alive, but probably not as cool as they are now) and then I continued my game from the summer. Now, you’ll probably think I’m completely weird and strange and mentally deranged, but that’s okay becuase lots of people do. Anyways– my Game. It goes like so:

There are various characters and peoples, such as a race of miniature people called Whatsits, who live in houses made of twigs and moss. (My middle brother and I once actually built these houses, but they got destroyed in the rain and when Dad accidentally mowed one of them while cutting the grass. Alas!) Then there are the Woodwalkers, who live in treehouses and know the forest by heart, and they each have a certain territory of the forest which is theirs to protect, care for, and defend. They train apprentices to take over their territory someday, too. Then there’s the Queen, who used to be the Princess before her mother died, so she is still rather young. In the middle of summer (or really whenever the wild str-shaped periwinkle flowers that grow in our backyard are in bloom) they have a ceremony in which everyone in the kingdom gathers at the part of the land where she lives, and they decorate the palace with periwinkles and vines, and they crown her with the vines and periwnkles, too, and she throws sprigs of it down to them amidst cheering, and then they feast and dance for five whole days. Actually, i think that was her coronation ceremony. Anyways… So today she was welcoming springtime, the same way her dear mother once had. First she took the Scepter and touched the Rock of Power (original name, I know– but this all started in like 6th grade, okay?) ith it. The Rock of Power is in our grage on a bike seat. yeah…. MC and I found the rock one day and it started it all.  and then she walked around the front yard in a circle, scattring dead berries and bits of dead flowers and leaves as she went. Then she went up the steps (of our concrete porch) and adressed the crowd, proudly announcing that Spring had sprung! And then she threw a bouquet of dried star-tops (they used to be ballon flowers, but now why’re just dried-up seed pods that have the shapes of stars on them) into the crowd, and proudly bowed and curtseyed (even though she’s royal, she’s very polite) and then went down into the ancestral lands and ate Nestle’s chocolate chips. Mmm.

When Mom got home and saw the setup in the front yard, with all the chairs and the sticks et cetera, she was rather surprised and asked what i’d been doing all afternoon. I replied that I’d just finished giving a speech to a crowd of at least three thousand, and that I’d also invented a new sport and survied an almost-death situation and it was thereofre time for a nap.

Someday I think I might write my game into a book. But then again, maybe not. It’s a lot of fun to play, though, even by oneself but even more with someone else. Even if it is a bit silly. Like a Rock of Power sitting there on a bike seat in a rotting garage.

Oooh, my muse just hiccupped and I think I’m getting a story idea… and also I have to send an important email regarding my Confirmation tomorrow! (Eeek! I’m SO EXCITED!) So i had better go… PLEASE don’t think I’m insane!

Luv ya! –Pen