Something’s rotten

When I moved to California, one of my requirements when looking for a home was that it have fruit trees.  I wasn’t greedy by wanting every kind of fruit possible.  I simply wanted a lemon and a lime tree.  I love lemons and limes.  I used lemons all the time but thought that limes were so exotic and smell so incredible that they were always a treat for me.  Being in a warm climate with very little freezing weather, it was a no brainer to me to have some citrus trees right in the yard to walk out and grab some fruit from.  When we moved into our house after a few months of searching for just the right place, I was so excited that the yard had several fruit producing trees.  There was not only a lemon and a lime tree but also a pomegranate, orange, avocado and apple tree.  It sounds excessive, I know but let me just clarify that they were new, little trees so the pomegranate and avocado had yet to produce fruit.  But the lemon, lime and orange trees all had fruit on them.  I’d never had fruit trees before and the only thing that had come close was that my dad had a couple fruit trees in his yard when I was growing up and I hated them!  When I’d cut the grass, the bees were so bad that it was terrifying to go near the trees for fear of getting stung.  Luckily, with these trees being so small, I don’t have that worry.  What I didn’t know was how the fruit trees work.  I guess I thought with the weather being warm, the trees would just constantly produce fruit.  That’s not true!  I picked and used all of the lemons within the first few weeks and then that was that.  I moved on to the lime tree but I don’t like limes in the same applications that I like lemons so I didn’t use them as much.  I picked the three oranges that were on the orange tree and then that was that as well.

We moved in at the beginning of November.  It was getting cooler but not cold.  By the beginning of the year, we did have a couple of freezing nights to which I covered and protected my precious trees.  In the spring, the lime tree immediately got buds on it and is now once again full of key limes.  I thought at one point I was going to lose the lemon tree but nurtured it and just got the first lemon off of it a few weeks ago.  There’s four or five more lemons on it.  The orange tree didn’t bud or bloom and has no fruit on it as is the same with the avocado and pomegranate.  I’ll be patient with them.  I hope that they produce before we end up moving from here.  The apple tree did bud and bloom and get a bunch of apples on it.  I picked them all, ate them and made applesauce out of them.  It was awesome.  We ended up buying a cherry tree as well to which I hope will fruit one day too.

Now, to the reason that I wrote this post.  I took some pumpkin muffins over to my neighbor on the left a few weeks ago and she gave me a grocery bag full of giant lemons from her tree.  I mean, those things were the size of grapefruits and had such a great flavor.  The ironic thing is, I’m not crazy about the lemons that my lemon tree produces.  I think they’re meyer lemons but my neighbor says hers are meyer lemons and they’re not the same so maybe mine are something other than meyer.  They’re like a cross between a lemon and an orange.  They have a strange taste to me.

Anyway, I loved that my neighbor gave me lemons.  I didn’t even realize she had a lemon tree.  It’s a massive tree in her backyard.  Not like my little tree that comes up to my waist.  She used a ladder to get her lemons.  Now, that’s my neighbor on the left.  My neighbor on the right has a huge orange tree in the front yard that is overloaded with oranges.  When we first moved in, I was excited that I’d be able to get fresh oranges once we got to know one another.  There’s also another fruit tree out front that my neighbor across the street informed me was a kumquat tree.  I told her I’d never used kumquats before and she said that unless I was going to buy them, I still wouldn’t be using them.  Apparently that neighbor, the one to the right of me, won’t share their fruit.  My neighbor across the street had asked them once, many years ago, if she could have a couple of their oranges and they simply said no.  I understand, or at least I thought I did.  It’s their fruit.  They can do with it what they want.

We’ve lived here for a year now and I don’t understand.  The oranges fall on the ground, rotten.  The tree is so overloaded with oranges that the limbs are sagging and they will not share them.  It is obvious that they don’t use them just based on the look of the tree.  What’s awesome is that the kumquat tree has started to grow around the fence so since it’s on my property, I pick the kumquats on my side.  I’ve not gotten any protests so I think everything is still kosher with them.  As I sit here, I can see a towering persimmon tree over the back fence in the neighbor’s yard that must have 100 or more persimmons on it, many of them rotting on the tree.  What a waste.  Why would people want to be that way?  Is it a, ‘I don’t want them but I don’t want you to have them either’ scenario?  What is that?  I think if I had that much fruit, I’d either have a fruit stand or I’d be bartering for other goods from more neighbors.  Not to mention that the homeless would probably love some fresh fruit.  It just drives me crazy and when things drive me crazy, I write about them.  I think I’ll go make me a limeade.

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Elder Enigma

I talk to my Granddaddy on the phone every so often and each time I do, we talk about the same things.  First, we cover the weather.  He tells me all about what’s happening in his area, as if I needed a weather report for a town that’s 3,000 miles away, and it’s never good.  It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too wet.  Then he asks what it’s like where I’m at but since he can’t hear too well, I give it a few tries to which he gets frustrated with because he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say.  He attempts a few times to repeat back what I’m trying to tel him and after a mild screaming match, we reach consensus on the weather.

The next topic that always follows the weather is how we’re both doing.  He always hems and haws about one thing or another.  It used to be his sinus’ and arthritis but ever since he had heart surgery, it’s been that he has shortness of breath.  There’s nothing wrong with him.  He goes to the doctor once a week to doctors that he rotates through.  The closest determination is that it’s anxiety.  But since none of the doctors talk to one another or will take the time to figure out a solution, he continues his rounds.  One doctor actually did provide him with an anti-anxiety pill but they told him it was for his nerves so he won’t take it saying that there’s nothing wrong with his nerves.  Would it be wrong to lie to him?  He takes his heart pill religiously because it’s for his heart.  Why not just tell him that he needs an additional pill for his heart because of the shortness of breath?

We then roll into the old memories that he has of me and him playing in the garden.  It’s the same every single conversation.  He misses me but even if I visited him tomorrow, he wouldn’t remember it.  But he’d call me and reminisce once again about when I was a little girl and would visit him and my Grandma.  He’s been tested for Alzheimer’s and doesn’t have it but his tests for dimensia also come back negative.  I don’t know if there’s a way to fool the tests but when given simple things to remember, he can’t.  His primary care doctor knows that he’s getting worse but it seems that there’s nothing we can do.  He was scheduled to have a series of memory tests done but when he was told that they were memory tests and that they’d take 3 hours to perform, he got angry and left, huffing that there was nothing wrong with his memory.

Lastly, we discuss how lonely he is.  He has a companion that we’re sure is taking advantage of him but we can’t convince him of it.  I’ve researched elder abuse and spoken with elder service people and as long as he’s willingly making the decisions, there’s nothing that can be done.  We urge him to keep an eye on his finances but when approached about it, he doesn’t remember so our discussions go nowhere.  We toured some senior communities but they’re for “old people” which he thinks he’s not.  He is in good shape for 86 years old but he in no way feels that he’s old.  It’s a good thing but not.  So, we go round and round about him wanting to stay in his home but that he’d be so much happier in a community but he’s stubborn and won’t listen at all.

It’s frustrating for everyone.  It drives me crazy that housing for elder people is so expensive and that there’s no way to convince him that he’d be so much better off.  I can understand wanting to remain in a familiar place but I don’t understand sitting there, day in and day out, alone.  My Granddaddy does have a job but he’s gotten so bad physically and mentally that the church that he’s working at is having a hard time accommodating him any further.  I know everyone goes through this.  I just thought I’d write about it.  If you have suggestions or ideas, please leave them in the comments.GrandDaddy and Baby Missy

50K Words In A Month

So, I finished the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I didn’t write every day and in fact, went on a four day vacation and never wrote on weekends except the final day.  I’m not bragging.  I made the commitment without even realizing what the contest was to be honest.  But it ended up being like Weight Watchers.  There’s something about getting on that scale in front of another person.  I made the commitment and so it ate at me.  I thought for sure I wasn’t going to finish many times but I didn’t let the feeling get me down.  I would wake up thinking about it.  The final day, I wrote just about 8,000 words.  I was so excited.  It brought me to the finish.  I wondered if that was like a professional writer’s word count.  Whatever it was, I sat and wrote until I finished.  Really proud.

My first book was over 180,000 words so this one is a good start to another book but I think I want to take a break from it.  It’s hard because I feel dedicated to it now and stopping in the middle of a story is annoying.  I have more to say.  It’s like pausing a movie and going to the bathroom.  Upon returning, the movie doesn’t get turned off, it’s continued.  But I feel like there’s no need to continue with my life story in the form of a novel if I can’t get the first one sold.  So, I think I’m going to stop and try and do some short stories.  That’s my plan today anyway.

Saying the Wrong Thing

Have you ever heard words coming out of your mouth and as they do, you wish you could reach up and grab them out of the air? As you feel them roll off of your tongue, take a deep breath to retrieve them back into your mouth, turning back time? I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that over my life. No one is perfect and sometimes shit comes out that is hurtful or just unnecessary.

I did it just recently and it’s been weighing heavily on me. I know that things get said and not everyone means every possible thing they say but it doesn’t change the fact that words are hurtful sometimes. I know that often, people don’t even realize they’re saying hurtful things. I’m one that is overly sensitive to things being said to me. I over analyze things and read way too much into conversations.

I fall victim to the feelings of needing to be accepted or to fit in and I lose my sense of judgment. I suppose it happens to everyone but it’s bugging me. How do you apologize to someone you’ve wronged without them knowing that you wronged them?

First Signing Survived

I went to my first author signing yesterday.  I’d known about it (been contacted) several weeks before the actual event.  I ordered my books to bring, bought a new pen and loaded up my business cards.  Two days before I was to go, I got an email from the event coordinator that each author was to give a 5 minute presentation.  It should cover an introduction of myself, the book, the inspiration for it and then a reading.  I typed up a page and gave it a try.  I was at about the 5 minute mark but I had a lot of pauses trying to gather my thoughts.  I figured I’d be fine.  It was 5 minutes, not an hour long dissertation.  I had my partner review my write-up when she got home.  She made a couple tiny changes but they were so small that I thought it was almost knit picking.  I wasn’t going to read the paper, I just needed some guidelines.

By Saturday, I was beginning to obsess over the talk.  I used to be an instructor and have had many occasions to stand in front of a crowd and speak.  It’s never really bothered me before.  But it had been a long time since I’d done it.  I knew I’d be fine, however.  We had some errands to run and every so often as we did this or that, I’d have this wave of panic that would almost make me dizzy, give me a tingly feeling in my stomach.  I knew it was just nerves.  I practiced the speech on and off throughout the day, timing myself.  I’d gotten it down to 4 minutes allowing a minute to read a paragraph.  Then I had to pick out the paragraph.  I flipped, flipped, flipped through the book.  I knew I wanted to read about my Grandma.  It was one of the parts that I could read without falling apart or be in fear of reading something too overly personal, in person, but that many could still relate to.  I found just the paragraph and finally did the complete walk-through.  I finally got to the point narrowing down my speech to bullet points followed by the reading.  By Saturday evening, we decided to see a movie which was the best thing to get my mind off of such things that seem to camp out there.

Sunday, the morning of the Author Faire, I woke up to my mind reciting “Hi, my name is Michelle Stoner…”, the beginning of my speech running its’ course.  I got up and fixed myself some coffee.  The pains in my stomach were getting worse.  There was no more of the tingly feeling.  It was sharp pains.  I had coffee and when Chris got up, I fixed us breakfast.  I was watching some stupid movie I’d recorded.  It wasn’t working to get my mind off of the day.  After breakfast, well, let me just say that being nervous is a great system emptying tool.  But things finally calmed down, or more so, I just ignored it so that I could get ready.

I had to arrive at 1:00 but figured I could get there at 12:30 so that I could setup my books.  I knew that the first person would be presenting at 1:00 so it only made sense to get there a few minutes early.  Maybe I’d be able to meet some of the other authors at the faire.  Nope.  The place didn’t open until 1:00.  It just didn’t seem right to me.  I lugged the box of books over to a cafe and sat waiting for the doors to open.  When the doors open, I filed in along with many, many other people, all trying to get onto elevators and find their way to wherever they needed to go.  I found my name tag at one of the tables and began to setup my books.  I spread out my business cards (which were the most awesome things – no one else had them and several people took them so they remembered to download e-copies of the book) and waited.  I had one woman come over and take a card saying that she couldn’t wait for my presentation.

Then I sat and waited.  The presentations went in alpha order with 20 other authors.  It was neat to see the other authors, hear their experiences, all of them proud of their works.  I was perfectly fine until two people before me.  I felt my heart rate increasing by the minute.  When the guys next to me went, I could see my shirt moving from my heart pounding in my chest.  Chris, who had been seated in the audience the whole time, looked over at me and mouthed the words “breathe” to which I took a deep breath and eased it out.  I took another swallow of water and hoped that the fact that I had to pee so bad wouldn’t bite me in the ass.  I’d wanted to go but I couldn’t bring myself to move.  I’d downed almost an entire bottle of water so I really had to go.  The audience was clapping so I got up and made my way from behind the table.  I was introduced but the emcee didn’t see that I’d gotten up already so she called my name again.  I was rushing up but I’m short so she didn’t see me and called once again.  I raised my hand up to which everyone laughed.  I did my speech.  It was completely out of order of what I’d planned but I think it still flowed ok.  I only paused once to catch my thoughts.  I didn’t realize until much later that there was a clock on the wall but I didn’t get the warning so I think I was within the limits.  Some people had gone on for 15-20 minutes and were practically dragged off so I know I did fine time wise.  I saw Chris staring at the floor the whole time which I was thankful for.  While I’d been practicing at home, I told her I couldn’t concentrate if she looked at me.  I felt bad that she was staring at the floor but it was really for the best.  I made a conscious effort to look around and just before I started to read, I was introducing my book and realized that most people were leaning forward and many had their mouths hanging open.  I think I had them.  They were engaged.  I smiled and started reading.  It was short, just a paragraph but it was silent in the room as I did.  When I stopped.  I looked up and everyone was in the exact same position.  No one had moved.  I smiled and said “thank you”.  I left the podium to a round of applause.  I did it.

The event was from 1-5.  The presentations went until 3:30 or so.  There was an audience that sat but several left before the end.  We had not quite a half an hour to meet with those that did stay for the whole thing and then we broke into groups to share ideas and things that worked or didn’t work for us.  But everyone had left so it was only authors talking with authors, which was ok but it meant that I didn’t sell one hard copy book.  I signed my mom’s book and it was my first signed book.  I’m hopeful that I’ll get a couple e-book sales but even though I didn’t sell any, I was happy that I made it through the day.  I did it.  I showed up, I did a speech and I met some really nice people.  I survived.

Celebrating the Good

Early on in my relationship with my partner, we decided that every good thing needed to be celebrated.  It actually started with monetary increases.  If we got a raise or a bonus at work, we celebrated, usually with dinner.  If we applied for a job and got a call back, we celebrated.  It got a bit complicated when going on an actual interview because if the interview went bad, we weren’t sure if we should celebrate or not.  It was awesome that we were picked out of many to be interviewed and we wanted to celebrate that but if it didn’t go well, we didn’t want to celebrate something bad.  It’s all about karma and noticing the little things that make life better.

After awhile of our newfound tradition, we noticed we were packing on the pounds from celebrating every little thing by eating out.  Cutting back meant meeting weight loss goals.  We couldn’t eat out for those so we did other things like going to an event or show, taking a mini vacation or buying something nice for ourselves.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant all of the time and we learned to match celebrations with events that were cause for celebration.

We don’t go overboard on celebrations either.  If our car passes an inspection, we don’t celebrate.  It’s more of a personal thing.  If we “survived” something, we would celebrate.  If we were rewarded, we in turn, rewarded ourselves.  If there was a life changing event, such as quitting my job to write a book, we celebrated.  It has worked so well for us over the years.

We just got back from our first trip to Disneyland.  It was the reward I chose for publishing my book.  At first I thought it was a little over the top but it really was a big deal.  Pouring my heart and soul onto pages and then letting the world read it, was not only terrifying but constricting in terms of feeling like I was having a panic attack at every moment of every day.

Disneyland was the perfect place to go to relieve myself of the stress and self-doubt that I’d been carrying around since publication.  I did the best I could on the book, it’s out there and I’m working on my next one.  That is definitely worthy of a celebration such as an extended weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Is it wasted when you try something new and don’t like it?

I’ve been working on a Pumpkin, Curry and Coconut Milk soup today.  I’ve been doing more chores in between the processes of simmering the onions, heating the stock, heating the pumpkin.  It smells awesome but doesn’t taste so much so.  It’s had me doctoring the dish for a few hours now.  I added more curry.  Added more salt.  Let it simmer for a bit.  Added some smoked, hot paprika.  Nope.  Just not doing it for me.  It’s not like I’ve made this dish before or even tried it at a restaurant and just can’t reproduce it.  This is a first time dish.  I’m kind of disappointed.  It took the remainder of my Halloween pumpkin meat to make the soup so I’ll have to wait until I disassemble and process the other one before being able to make more dishes.  But I don’t want to give up just yet.  However, I wonder if I’ll like the dish no matter what I do to it.  It has the consistency of potato soup, which I love, so I have hope that I can make it good but I don’t want to keep adding ingredients (like my prized sweet potato that I’ve been waiting to bake and eat with tons of butter, cinnamon and ginger that’s now diced and in the soup pot – my reasoning was just as I said, it resembles potato soup so why not chunks of potato, or better yet, sweet potato?) and up the amount of items I may ultimately throw in the trash.  It made me think on the question, is it better to try something and not like it, having wasted the money, time, energy, etc. on something rather than not having tried it at all.  It sucks, yes, but absolutely, it’s worth every bit of wasted everything!  I love trying new things.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  When they work, they’re usually awesome and when they don’t, then I know better for next time.

At least tomorrow is trash day!

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