25 September 2011


This year I have decided that September is the perfect month. This may be partly due to the fact that I am not pregnant (read: throwing up) and have finally recovered from a stage 4 tear and subsequent infections and complications. The world really is a better place now that I can successfully walk across my living room without pharmaceutical assistance. Medical accomplishments aside, September is also the prefect month for a host of yearly recurring reasons.

The school supplies go on sale. There is just something magical about a brand new box of crayons, or a set of perfectly sharpened colored pencils. And nothing is quite the same as the pristine paper and unbent corners of a new notebook. My joy and excitement over new school supplies are significantly increased when they cost less than a quarter.

Open window weather. September is the enjoyable combination of fallish summerness. The days are warm and pleasant, but I can bake without my house approaching 90 degrees. The evenings cool off, but are not yet bitterly cold. I pretty much keep my windows open all day and all night. This practice fills my house with a pleasing breeze and the occasional sound of birds.

Sunflowers. I love sunflowers, and in September I see them everywhere. They grow along the side of the road, around parking lots, and in open fields. The ubiquitous growth of these bright and cheerful flowers somehow indicates that all is right in the world. This year is especially nice because I planted my own sunflowers. Now I don't have to go around town to appreciate some bright yellow foliage. I have had fresh flowers on my kitchen table all month and it makes me happy to know that they came from my backyard. I feel quite accomplished even though all I did was put some seeds in the ground and then ignore them for a couple of months. The awesomeness of my homegrown centerpiece is compounded by the fact that I planted two varieties of sunflowers so I have both yellow and orange blooms to enjoy.

The kids in the neighborhood sell pumpkins. It's the fall incarnation of the lemonade stand, and it makes me smile. Although I have never stopped to purchase a cold beverage from a neighborhood child, I am a sucker for a six year old selling pumpkins.

Fresh produce. Not the "fresh" produce from the store, but real fresh produce from our [neighbor's] garden. Despite my inexperience our own garden is doing quite well. We successfully grew everything required for homemade salsa. This accomplishment made up for the rather disappointing crop failure of our green bean experiment. I've also quite enjoyed eating corn on the cob minutes after it has been harvested. And our rather large and aggressive squash plant that is trying to take over the entire yard has finally set some squash. I am hoping it reaches maturity before the first freeze.

This year's September is especially perfect because I purchased some Nutella. I don't know why I have never done this before. It's chocolaty nuttiness has dramatically increased my enjoyment of life.

14 September 2011

The Secrets of the Fire Swamp

We recently visited Texas because summer is the best time to visit the land of triple digit temperatures and record setting humidity. We used the same excellent decision making skills to determine that we should make the cross country trip in our car.

The Texan did most of the driving, and I did most of the entertaining the child in the back seat. However, one night an errand involving diapers found me behind the wheel. Driving in Texas is unlike any other place I have ever driven. When I first moved there, I was absolutely convinced that Texas traffic would be the cause of my final demise. I was particularly offended that I had to merge to get both on and off the freeway. My roommates and I referred to mastering navigation on Texas roadways as learning the secrets of the fire swamp. At a fairly recent point in my life I reasonably proficient in the secrets of the fire swamp. However, my current stint in farm town Idaho has quickly eroded my Texas driving skills.

I briefly coveted my infants five point harness and wondered if I should locate a helmet before facing the extreme peril ahead of me. I buckled my seatbelt, turned on the GPS, and set off on my diaper finding quest. I gripped the steering wheel and tried to recall the rules of Texas driving.

1. He who hesitates will never ever ever get on the freeway. Assertiveness is required. Unfortunately, the freeway is unavoidable. Texas has an abundance of freeways, and every car trip will involve at least one of them.

2. Traffic will never let up. For some reason thousands of cars have a dire need to be traversing Texas at eleven o’clock at night, or at three in the morning, or at one in the afternoon. There is no predictable or avoidable rush hour. Similar to the line in the women’s restroom, traffic in Texas is a Grand Law of the Universe.

3. Frequent lane changes are required. The Texas department of transportation is rather proud of their twelve lane highways. They have laid the roadways out in such a way that all motorists must utilize every lane. Without warning the right lane abruptly becomes the left lane, and the center lane is suddenly labeled exit only. It’s almost as though Escher was the city planner.