Thursday, June 28, 2012

infertile squash

If you've grown squash, you probably know that they have great big, exuberantly yellow flowers.  And if you're a nerdy gardener (or someone who always has a garden that's dying and can't understand why, like me), you may have learned that there are two kinds of flowers.  There are male flowers and female flowers.  They look pretty much the same.  On any given plant, the male flowers bloom first.  You can tell them apart because the male flowers grow on a long, thin stalk.  The female flowers, by contrast, have a small but visible squash growing below the flower, between it and the main stem.  Here is the great secret: the female flowers need to be pollinated by the male flowers before the female flowers fall off; otherwise the tiny starting-out squash will die.  If the female flower is pollinated, the squash will grow. 

The timing issue is a tricky one with just one plant, but if you have several plants, you will probably have male flowers open at the same time as female, and the bees will take care of the pollinating for you.  In previous summers, I've killed off whole squash plants that had some fruit growing, so I know it does not take a good gardener to get to that stage.  But this summer...

To date, I have had dozens of male flowers open - on a total of eight plants - but just one female flower.  That flower was on a struggling, tiny plant.  And the whole week it was open, there was not one male flower anywhere on any of the other plants - though there had been many the week before, and there were many the week after.  So the flower fell off, and that little squash withered and died, several weeks ago. 

Every day, now, I poke all the flowers and the flower buds, looking for a female flower I may have missed.  There are none. 

Clearly it is not MFI.  But my squash are infertile.  (Or possibly have gender identity issues.) 

And I don't appreciate it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

er...hi

I am not dead.  I have said this before.  It is true this time, too. 

I am somewhat behind on reading blogs, but not - never fear - nearly as far behind as I am on posting.  (Actually, you can document that if you do some sleuthing.  The internet is like forensic INFINITYEVERYTHINGWONDERFULAMAZINGSCARY.)  I like it when things are documented. 

I don't have anything to write about.  I'm just saying hello. 

Some things I would have to write about, if I did have something to write about:
  • IRL childless friend #2, who got pregnant 6 months before IRL childless friend #1 brought home her adopted baby, and delivered the baby four months later (got it?  I know the math doesn't work, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened.  Oh, the baby was late), baptized the baby.  (This is not really news.)  I didn't go.  (Also not news.)  Haven't heard from her in two months.  (News?)  She's the one who has forgotten she needs an awesome vintage stove.  Will I ever hear from her again, if I don't contort my schedule and my mind around visiting her and the baby?  The baby of whose name I do not approve, I might add.  They violated one of the Ten Commandments of Naming Babies (yes, there are, and yes, I have a right to be quite confident about what they are [at least in this country], and no, it doesn't matter that I don't have children.  Don't give your kid a stupid name.  Not even if you think it's really trendy, or it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling because you are on drugs/hormones/both.  Use your BRAIN when choosing a name.  Seriously). 
  • Two weekends ago I went on a whirlwind trip to Michigan, for a funeral.  The year after I finished law school, I had a (one-year) job in a city 65 miles away from where my DH was finishing law school.  Some friends' grandmother lived in said city, and she was then 85.  They said I was welcome to stay with her during the week.  Bizarrely, they have always maintained I was doing her a favor.  Which is ridiculous.  Thus, I met one of the most amazing people I have gotten to know.  Since I left Michigan in 2008, I thought I would visit every year.  Now I finally have.  But I didn't get to see her - alive - because I took so long about it; and because when I heard she had cancer and it was serious, she had only a few weeks, and her family wanted to wait on visitors until she got better.  I did get to talk to her before she died.  The funeral was amazing.  I've been to a few funerals, but never one for a real believer, you know?  Someone for whom no eulogist or homilist will even have to fib - neither about the deceased's actions or character, nor about what virtue actually means.  Her son-in-law's brother is a deacon, and he gave the homily, and he said, "As you all know, Mary's prayer life has expanded recently."  And I thought, "What?  She already prayed more than anyone I know who's not a religious.  And some of them..."  And then I thought, "OH."  I think that sums it all up for me. 
  • This weekend I did another whirlwind trip, somewhat longer.  One of my dearest friends from college was ordained in Boston.  So I stayed with my (adult) sister in Connecticut.  Meanwhile, my half-siblings are also in Connecticut, about an hour away - and I hadn't seen them in, I think, almost two years (!).  So adult sister and I hopped in the car, picked up some barbeque stuff, and went to the beach with them.  We grilled and splashed around in the water and caught up on their lives.  My sister is an amazingly different person at 9.  To talk to her, she could pass for 14 or 16.  I hope that's not all bad for her - going to mean she takes on too much emotional responsibility in her crazy family.  My 6yo brother is not much different.  He's belligerent, antisocial, undisciplined, and under-nourished, because he won't eat, because no one will make him eat.  He's starting first grade next year, and I really hope that helps. 
  • I got home from my trip last night.  My father had already arrived (he flew), and he's staying us for a week while he does some work in the area.  It's the first time he's visited me where I live ever - in the entire time I've had my own place (starting when I was 21).  Is that bizarre?  I guess it's nice that he waited until I have a guest room for him.  And he gets along with my husband.  So I hope it will be good. 
  • Before I left for New England, my husband was traveling for a week.  Bailey the Dog and I hung out with a girlfriend who stayed with me for the week, which was awesome.  I love welcoming people into my house.  And since I was going to be gone until after my father arrived, I did an exhausting amount of project-finishing and cleaning.  And yet still not nearly enough...
  • The stove continues to best me, but I remain hopeful that I will conquer.  I'm going to take apart the pilot lights fully and recalibrate them, per some guy's musings on the internet.  I don't have the skills for this, so we'll see.  Then I'm going to remove the wiring from the magnetic safety valve and replace it.  It's rather decomposed, and a "magnetic safety valve" sounds like something that could prevent gas from flowing to the oven (the major remaining problem), so I figure that's an obvious target.  Too bad it's so decomposed I can't figure out what kind of wiring it is.  If that doesn't work, I go through the yellow pages to find an appliance repair person.  That really won't work, so then, I would just sell it and start over, with a modern one.  I am beyond disappointed about this.  I really really tried.  I can scarcely count the hours I've spent working on this, the research I've done, the scrapes and cuts and bruises and turpentine inhalation.  And what gets me is that I know it would have worked, if it had just been working (not well - working at all) when I got it.  The seller said it was (or had been), and I believed him.  He may or may not have been lying; he was definitely wrong.  So if you want to do this, don't let me scare you.  Just don't buy one unless it is hooked up before you take it, so you can turn it on and see that it is working.  Wait any amount of time for such a stove to become available.  Do not gamble if you don't know the status. 
  • Among the countless things I accomplished was repairing and water-sealing the gorgeous refectory-style dining table that a friend made us as a wedding present.  It now lives outside (by the way, she suggested it be used as an outdoor table - I wouldn't have otherwise.  And it is perfect for outside and too small for inside).  It's working beautifully.  Then I went on a mad hunt for a new table.  I searched and searched and emailed dozens of sellers and missed a few great opportunities because evil people didn't write back or I was dumb and couldn't make up my mind fast enough.  In the end I got a table for $100 that extends to 96".  It has a glass top (that fits it at the shorter length only, but that's how it will sit when I don't have a large dinner party), a set of pads (that fit it at full length.  Someone tell me, what use are table pads?), leaves (obviously), and came with two chairs, but I didn't bring them home because they didn't fit in my car and I didn't like them.  It is an antique, with pretty awesome carving.  But it's not crazyfancyornate (yes, I love ornate tables!), because my antique house is rather simple, and I'm trying to complement that.  It does have four really huge legs, and I was kind of looking for a pedestal table so I could throw a few more chairs on without the people on the end cracking their knees repeatedly.  So this one does have that drawback, if I want to try to seat 12 sometimes.  Which I think I will.  I will show pictures when I get a chance to strip, sand, stain, and varnish the edges, which are a bit dinged up.  Oh, and I also bought four chairs (separate purchase) that coordinate with my existing four chairs.  Except that the new ones are not a great color, so I am re-staining them.  Never do anything the easy way. 
  • That means I haven't made any progress on my kitchen.  The giant panel of antique cabinets I bought is still sitting in the carriage house.  At least I put a five-pound weight on the warped door right away, so for a month it has been un-warping.  Does that count as progress?  I haven't even cleaned it.  After the stove is done...
  • I like it that I've been busy and had things to do and made progress on my house.  I love having people over to visit and having people in my life whose company I enjoy and whose lives (I hope) I make just a smidge better.  In the last year I realize I've been blessed to grow, or maybe just recognize (and sometimes they bloom while you are not looking), close friendships with some really amazing women.  They're not married...so the kids thing will be an issue eventually, maybe...but then few if any of the friends I've "lost" that way were really heart-to-heart-having friends before they had kids.  So, I suppose I think that with these friends, if there were a real problem, then I could tell them the truth.  Like my dear friends from college who have kids.  It's harder there, because if you haven't seen someone in a year you don't want to have your first conversation be about why you don't want to see baby pictures.  But I think it's better to say it than not to (I just have to remember to act on that conviction!), because otherwise, you've basically acknowledged in your own heart that the friendship is dead.  If it were you with the pictures, and you were hurting someone you loved dearly and she didn't trust you enough to say anything, how would you feel?  You'd feel like an awful person.  And like you'd been shut out of her life.  Right. 
  • Depo is ridiculous.  I'm not taking it so I don't menstruate any more (though I keenly feel the irony and injustice of continuing to menstruate - maybe for decades - in my circumstances), but I felt like that was a huge perk.  And then when I would have been due for my next cycle, I started bleeding (the doc predicted "spotting" but that is not accurate.  Not a full-on cycle, though).  And continued to for three and a half weeks.  That's not funny, OK?  Maybe next month.  Which is in, like, twelve minutes.  (If you're such a holy roller that you're unacquainted with any bioethics or moral theology regarding this topic but feel licensed to condemn it vehemently anyway, (1) congratulations and (2) I'm taking another dose when three months are up, and probably several more after that.  Have a nice day!  Buy a Catechism!) 
  • When I vanish from blogging for a while, I miss people.  But lately, when I pop back to check in, I think, "Wait, who am I supposed to be reading?"  There are like three girls who don't have children (whom I always read).  The remainder provide me a smorgasboard of reading options, discussing solely their children (some of these are still worth reading, but imagine how much MORE worth reading they could be!).  Do you know how many women there are writing in this world who have children and write about other things?  If I can write about something other than infertility, mothers can write about something other than kids.  But they don't...whatever, I just don't have to read.  There are also three or four (that number may be too high) women who seem to have kept the same brain and the same good sense and compassion after motherhood as before.  Most of these people post about twice a year.  I get that you're busy, women who have small children and interests other than children.  But you are really failing here in your commitment to keep me entertained.  So what I'm saying is - there's not a lot of this world left, is there?  We retreated to the blogosphere to find some people who wouldn't censor us because of our offensive infertile thoughts and experiences and emotions.  Now we're being driven out by the "God has richly blessed me (and really you're blessed just to know me and my blessings)" crowd who knew 100% better than that ten minutes ago but have tooooootally forgotten.  Where to now, ladies?  Oh, I forgot.  There are like three of you.  Odds are it will take weeks for all (any?) of you to read this.  Well, if that happens, maybe we should work on finding an inexpensive island somewhere to buy. 
So...yeah.  Nothing to report here.  Hope everyone is having a good summer so far! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the bathroom

I know what I said.

Anyway, last weekend before everyone came over for Memorial Day, I got the bathroom painted.  The quarter-round at the ceiling probably needs another coat, and there are one or two other projects (as I shall mention).  But it's an improvement.

This is not really a before picture.  This is after we started experiencing problems with the main drain, and wastewater and soil were backing up through the toilet all over the bathroom floor.  So, highly appetizing:

The other end of the (not large, but not unreasonably cramped) room, featuring the Toilet of Doom:

And a close-up of the tiles I hated.  I hated them even before they were this disgusting.  They were smallish square ceramic tiles, light gray with a violet undertone.

And here is the after:

You notice that it's still a vintage sink, but a different vintage sink.  The plumbers threw out ours, for whatever reason.  So then they bought us another one, which was also vintage, but cost them $350.  I can only conclude that my craigslist skills are exceptional.  The little trash can is from Ikea, by the way (I just thought it was adorable).

I think the wooden toilet seat is probably not working with the turquoise and white, so I should replace it.

This is below the window.  I like all the brass fixtures (which were there when we bought it).  The little wooden chest I bought for the (sole) bathroom in our last place, which had no storage.  The chest was $15 at Goodwill; it was painted red with some florals (an apparent DIY effort).  I used two of the beige colors my landlord had left over from the walls so this would match our old bathroom.  It's dingy now, so I'm planning to paint it gray and white.

This photograph is supposed to give an idea of how the Ultra Pure White trim, the white penny round tile (grout is "Natural Gray" from Home Depot), and the color-match of Valspar's Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue work together.  I originally imagined that the color would be at least one shade paler, so I had to adjust in my head, but I think now I like it.

But this '60s monstrosity has to go.

As soon as I learn to do electrical wiring, I will be hanging this (it's missing a screw.  I bought the shades and the fixtures on separate occasions from the ReStore.  $5 for everything).  (Also, I have really skinny arms - that is grotesque foreshortening.  I'm just saying.)

So there is the bathroom, people.

No pictures of the stove until I get the #$%* ovens working.

And, I am linking this to Susan's Metamorphosis Monday

UPDATE: I am now also linking to the Thrifty Decor Chick's "Show Us Your House!" bathrooms editionAnd also, I re-painted the little chest so it is no longer dingy (and even matches the bathroom's colors), and found a gorgeous antique mirror for over the sink.  And my MIL gave me an antique gas light fixture (so, really antique) that I am planning to thread with wiring and use as a pendant (the little brass fixture may be raided for wires), but I am still pondering how best to do that.  Haven't replaced the toilet seat yet.  Will get there...

Friday, June 1, 2012

people with children irritate me

My DH and I are in the late stages of negotiation on fencing for the front yard (he wants a fortified ten-foot stockade and I want a 30-inch white picket fence; we're approximately meeting in the middle) and so I am on the hunt for stockade (i.e., solid) board fencing in five-by-eight foot panels with a concave profile on each panel.  Nobody seems to sell this; at least, not anybody around here.  So, clearly, I need to go to the Community Forklift, but this is a mysterious and fascinating place that lots of people have an interest in seeing, so I think I should go with a group.  And my friend who is always game to look for house and antique stuff isn't even answering emails or text messages, because she just had a stupid baby and will never be interesting again.

I even found her a truly fantastic stove on craigslist - she wants electric, so she was going to settle for a reproduction, and I found her an original electric stove from the 1920s with new wiring.  For $1450 less than her budget for said item.  After she didn't answer that email, I sent it to her husband (because who knows how long this thing will be available, and I bet they really do want to know), and he responded, "Thanks for thinking of us."  Which is sweet and all, but it means he didn't open the link.  Or probably even read the email.

Well, it's their $1450.

Of course, many of my friends without children have failed to be adequately interesting to go to thrift stores or flea markets with me, which is ALSO boring, but this girl is an antique nut.  Was an antique nut.  When (if) she resumes her antique-shopping ways, no doubt they will be ordered around breastfeeding and naptime, and if I want to go with her I can expect to have conversations about Chippendale legs and mortise-and-tenon joinery interrupted with neverending Tales of Maternal Bliss, punctuated by Tales of Maternal Woe, punctuated by a screaming infant.

I need to actually start work on befriending the local gay community.  I know some of those people are into antiques.