Monday, April 20, 2009

We Don't Want Zombies on the Lawn

Easter weekend, my parents came up, and Mom helped us with the last bit of planting we had to do for a while. With her help, we planted all of our potatoes, all (a metric butt-ton) of our onions, and our 18 boxwoods. We also got the weed block cloth down around the rest of the fruit bushes and all the windbreak plants.

Some of the daffodils that we planted in our tree stump (you know, the rotting tree stump that got trimmed down by some well-meaning contractors AFTER we had planted daffodils in them) apparently got buried enough by sawdust that they took root, so they are up, but not blooming. The other daffodils we planted are blooming. And at random spots in our yard, we have other gorgeous flowers (that weren't there last year and that we didn't plant) blooming. For instance, what my mom thinks are irises in the back lawn, by the pipes sticking up from the old oil tank, and there are grape hyacinth growing in a bunch in the middle of the front yard.

Apparently, spring is FINALLY here, but amazingly rainy.

Last week, many of the trees and bushes that we had planted started budding. We now have a pear tree, a cherry tree, and some raspberry bushes budding and a bunch of strawberry plants really taking off.

This weekend, I mowed. I shouldn't have put it off so long, but it was the first opportunity I've had all spring. And wow, what an experience! We decided that, because we've planted so many things in what USED to be our yard, we'd expand and take back a little bit of the property that we let grow up last year. So I mowed that area for about 2 hours on Friday night. And Saturday, I mowed the rest of the yard. It used to take me 3 hours to mow all of our yard. I have no idea how long it took this Saturday because I was also (1) picking up glass and pottery shards and rusting metal bits that had gotten turned up when our heat pump line got installed and (2) using the lawn tractor to run over some of the smaller ruts left in our yard from the heat pump line installation. So, with all the things we've planted and all the ruts and piles of earth left behind from the heat pump installation, I didn't have a yard to mow so much as a gauntlet to run, an obstacle course to defeat. Lucky I like mowing the yard, no matter how long it takes. Call me crazy, but I find it therapeutic.

Anyway, I came home today to freshly baked bread. Last weekend, checking email, I had seen information about a book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. We ordered that and a book on root cellaring from Amazon, and today, M made bread. Delicious bread. It was "mediocre" for "artisan" bread, but FAR more delicious than store-bought bread, and it was just a first try. It was whole-wheat, and made with about 20 minutes of effort, to make the dough. And that dough will give us about 7 more "individual" loaves of bread. I highly recommend this book already. Seriously. Do it. No kneading dough; no rising, then letting it rest, then kneading, and repeating the process. After the dough is prepared (you can leave it in the fridge for several days), you cut off a chunk the size you need, let it rest for 20 minutes or so, and prep it to cook. Then walk away. Mmmmmm, bread and honey....

Now we just need to figure out the best way to make a "root cellar" here to store our onions and potatoes.

On the job front, M has had a few calls in the past couple of weeks, but no results yet. But people still are calling and interested. As for me, after some discussions with customers from my freelancing, I learned that I should be able to "make a go" of freelancing, getting as much work as I estimated that I need to make the same amount of money that I'm making on my contract with the government (far more money than I've made on any other job). So when my contract runs out May 19, no more putting up with the crap at that particular place. I learned today that I had actually made it in at number 5 of the 5 candidates selected by the first stage of the hiring process. Luckily, though, that was low enough that I couldn't be considered. Of the 5 candidates, 3 or 4 were veterans, so they were automatically bumped ahead of me. And 3 or 4 (including me) had Masters Degrees. So even though some of them had absolutely no experience doing what the job requires, they were already "more qualified" than me, and it would have been nearly impossible for the program manager to make justification to the higher-ups to choose me over the others. Sad for them, truly. But now I don't have to feel the least bit of a twinge of conscience about choosing to leave the group I was with because I don't want to put up with the ridiculous bureaucratic shit they have to deal with every day.

So, come May 19, I will be self-employed full-time as an editor and provider of other publishing resources. I should have enough work to pay me the money we need to pay our bills, but I could use enough money to get us health insurance. This means that if you know someone who needs a manuscript edited, a resume or cover letter proofread, a story critiqued, etc., send them my way. For a modest fee, I can probably do it. ;)

* Stringham high: So far (knock on wood), all our recently transplanted plants seem to be "taking" and thriving.
* Stringham low: Still no job for M.
* Stringham super-high: 21 days in my contract, then I can take a few days' vacation and work from home!

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