Saturday, May 23, 2015

Week update: It's hard to move when it's raining

It's hard to move when it's raining. 

I know, I know. What's good for my garden is good for me. That's the motto. 
See, it's doing so good
But all it's supposed to do all weekend is pour, pour, pour. I feel grumpy about this. All I want to do is be in my garden or transplant my things to their home or at least get some boxes out of the way. I guess I get grumpy when I cannot control the weather. 

So it's official now. I have signed my new lease, (crossing my fingers that my old landlords will eventually give me back my deposit), and was fully planning on having a "soft move" this Memorial Day weekend. And what is a soft move you might ask? Well, let me tell you. By Monday evening, I was hoping to have most of what I will not need this upcoming week over in my new place. That's going to be very tricky since there is a 100% chance it will not stop raining until tomorrow morning. And then, there is a like a 2 hour window of time when it might not rain before it starts back up again. 

Rain, Rain, go away… or at least come when I am strategically at the office and not on my days off. 

I am very antsy to get out of here. 

Yeah, I know. I don't want to move. But now that the process has begun, I cannot WAIT to get it over with. What makes it worse is that apparently this little house is a hot ticket item in town. Since it's been posted (like Tuesday night), 5 different groups of people have seen the place. The realtor is constantly texting me or someone/robot from their office keeps calling me. I am loosing my mind! I know this isn't my house but I just want to yell at everyone to give me a minute! Geesh. I'll be out of here in a week. All of it feels so invasive. The introvert part of me cannot even handle it. 

May is typically my favorite time of year. But right now I cannot wait until June because, by then, I will have moved and this will all be over.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The "in-between"

I am no good at being in the "in-between." I am impatient and OCD. I need things to happen immediately.

They do not.

Come on, people! Why not?

But that's me.

Yesterday, I went to go look at a new rental house, (which, ironically, is just 3 houses down from my current rental situation). All systems are go! (Hooray! And I get to keep my cat. That is the best news).

However, I am still feeling the tension of the in-between. Am I going to be moving out by June 1 or July 1? What I want is to move IMMEDIATELY. My creative brain is already spinning (and pinning) easy, DYI decorating tips and tricks. But I am waiting to hear back from my current landlords on the status of my deposit. The thing is, I need that back before I can move into my new place. (Did I mention that my landlords live in Idaho and take forever to get back to me? Because that's a thing).

Dramatic sigh.

This morning, a few of my co-workers and I popped into Mojo's Coffee Bar to grab a morning pick-me-up. We waited for our drinks in the buzz of college youth dressed in their athletic shorts and tie-dyed shirts (which is a trend that never died in the 90s at Bethel College) milling around, hopped up on summer plans. This sparked a brief conversation about how my co-workers are glad they never have to move in and out of dorms ever again. I am too. (Don't get me wrong here, especially since I went to a college where one lived in the dorms all four years. I am happy to never carry my things to 2nd floor Hirschy ever again). But yet, on some level, I feel as if I have never stopped doing that. I move in and then several months later, I move out. Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.

How many times have I posted in this blog how much I really, really hate moving?

The longest duration I have lived at any particular residence since I moved out of my parents house back in 2005 before heading off to college, is a 1 and 1/2 years. That's it. That's the record to beat. (That was at 417 S Main in Hesston. That time, I left by choice because of my need to live alone).

It's hard for someone like me grasp the reality that no matter how hard I tried to make my life feel stable, that it never is fully going to be. Things change. I am never going to be able to control that.

But for now, I would at least like to live in a space long enough that "spring time" does not correlate with "moving time." Maybe 209 E Knott St will be different.

In the meanwhile, you will find me trying to send vibes to my landlords to text or call me back.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Week update: What's good for my garden is good for me

Rain rain rain. That's pretty much the gist of this week.

Living in Kansas makes one use to endless sunny days. So much so that whenever it is grey for days or, surprise, actually rains a tons I have one of those "oh, right" moments. Sometimes it's not sunny. Still, I find myself wondering on rainy days like this why this particular rain patch hasn't moved on already.

Don't get me wrong, I live the by the philosophy that what is good for my garden (and the Kansas earth in general) is good for me. We always need rain here. So if there is any form of moisture coming from the sky, I try really hard not to complain about it.

All this to say, I was hoping to have a garden report for you today. But I never got out there due to the multiple showers and down pours we've had. (That's fine. Mostly what I had to do over there was pull weeds and mulch. Not the most glamorous work).

I have actually been way more chill about my garden this year then ever before. I think I've only been over to my plot like 3 times… maybe? It's been raining enough that I've barely had to do anything. So right now, I've just been sticking things in the ground and then walking away for weeks. So far, this gardening approach has worked. I am sure that will quickly change when the heat, the bugs and the possible fungal growth starts. But it has worked for my onions. I planted them before I went to Guatemala, mulched them when I got back, and that's been it. And they are doing great! (Well, at least the onions in the community plot. The ones I planted in my new garden box never came up. Oh man. Kansas soil is so picky).

Earlier this week, I found that my lettuce and spinach have taken off like crazy. And now I am in the happy phase of spring where every meal I make must contain spinach because I have so much of it. That's the dream. This is the first year in a while that I feel like I have exactly how much spinach I want at my finger tips. (I tried lettuce again this year, but, yet again, it has not formed into a "head" even though it's the variety that's supposed to do that. It's also not very crisp. I am starting to think it's impossible to grow great lettuce here. Oh well).
I love having an abundance of greens drying on my counter tops
I also love eating healthy suppers of spinach salads with either eggs or grilled chicken. yum! 
Good things from the garden? Yes, that's what I want.

…and I am happy to (potentially) announce that I will probably not have to garden in the community garden next year because (drumroll please) I HAVE FOUND A RENTAL HOUSE! And, get this, it has a garden space already in the backyard! I am going over there tomorrow to look at it and hopefully sign the lease. (Or make a plan to sign the lease). I am so happy to have found a place the has a yard! (I am trying really hard not to be too excited about the space until I have actually signed the paperwork just so I don't get my hopes up too much. But it's a little hard to). I have some plants at my current place that I wanted desperately to keep. And now, there is a good chance that I will get to transplant them.
These lovely ladies have shot up the last couple of weeks. 
Even better yet, I can keep Scout in this new place. (I had to plea my case for my cat, but it worked!) Things aren't official of course, but I feel way less stressed, even with the possibility of needing to pack up all my stuff yet again.
Celebrating with my fatty cat after she "passed her cat interview" (I had invited my potential landlord over to meet my cat and see how clean and nice she is). 

The rain keeps falling. The garden keeps growing and things will be okay.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Saturday, April 11th, 2015, San Marcos, Guatemala 

Some good things from today: 
… Being able to (sort of) communicate with Raul, MCC's driver. My Spanish is that of a 18 month year old baby, but surprisingly, I can get by semi-easier than I thought…I definitely felt some joy being able to communicate and understand even if it's very little.

Saturday, May 9th, 2015, The Reverie Cafe, Wichita Kansas

Sometimes I feel as if I can barely function in my own culture (at least in public). Take right now, I am in this very hip coffee shop in Wichita. I came here to write. But I need to have my mac plugged in at all times. So here I am, awkwardly moving around the room trying to find 1. an outlet 2. oh, an outlet with a three prong adapter, 3., oh, that adapter won't come out of the wall? Oh. now what?

I managed to talk with 3 different people, get my computer chord stuck in a chair before finally landing on a couch. And all of this before my (massive) coffee was ready.
Not even kidding. 

But despite being awkward, at least I am speaking the same language as those around me.

Being in Guatemala was the 3rd time in my life thus far that I've been in a Spanish speaking country. (I was in Bolivia in 2012 and then Costa Rica in 2014). Each time, I never really needed to try speaking Spanish. Each time I was with my friends who are fluent in Spanish (because they are awesome and have been living in Latin American for years now). Oh don't get me wrong. I would try sometimes. And I was polite enough to say "gracias" to waiters and "perdon" to people I had to wiggle past. That was pretty much it.

In Guatemala, I assumed that my ability to speak Spanish would be about the same. After all, we would be traveling around with MCC staff who were fluent in Spanish (being from Guatemala and Honduras respectively). And yes, that was true.

But the thing about traveling around with a lot of Canadians is that they no know zero Spanish. And I mean zero. (Maybe Dora the Explorer never quite made it into their living rooms. There were several occasions where I helped fellow participants learn how to pronounce "vamonos").

Get this: out of our entire group (13 people strong), I was the one who knew the most Spanish.

Whoa. What?

Again, I have the language skills of a baby. I can point to things and say un-conjugated verbs. Let me tell you, Spanish 1 my Jr. year in high school was a really long time ago. (What was that, like 2003-2004? Geesh).

But being one of the "strongest" (ha) speakers in my group seemed to give me a lot more confidence to at least try more then I have ever experienced before. And tried I did.

My favorite person to try to communicate with was Raul, who is from just outside of Guatemala City but as been driving English speaking groups around for MCC for so long that he has picked up some English. (Raul was also maybe my favorite person in general. He was so silly and so caring at the same time. Even though we could barely communicate, he was a joy to be around. Even when our van was emerged in fog (and I mean zero visibility), passing a chicken bus on a small mountain road, I had no doubt that he would keep us safe. This is a big deal for someone with high travel anxiety).

My first language epiphany came during lunch (the same day as the journal entry above). Our translator/MCC Leader, Nancy, had gone to the bathroom. Someone at our table had asked Raul what city we were in. I was at the end of the table but we had all quieted down as we tried to use gestures to ask our question. Raul did not understand. Eventually, I piped up just enough to say "nombre" and "aqui" (since for the life of me, I could not remember how to say "cuidad" (or city).

See what I mean? Spanish at it's most primal state.

But Raul understood what we were trying to ask. And we thus learned that we were in a place called Quetzaltenango. (Although he had to say it a lot of times because, what?)
The restaurant in Quetzaltenango
He then asked me if I knew Spanish. I then told him that my Spanish as ugly and bad. But he seemed generally happy that I was trying. And that was enough for me.

It was like something clicked. For the rest of the trip I made more of an effort to Spanish then I ever had. I searched Spanish dictionary apps, I dug deep back into my subconscious to try and remember Spanish grammar rules (often coming up short though), I asked Nancy and Raul "como se dice….en Espanol." Don't get me wrong, my Spanish continued to be bad and ugly. But I was so happy to even try that I forgot to be overly self conscious. I tried. For once in my life, I tired!

The evening of our host family stay eventually came and proved to be another communication challenge. Our host family was Tzutujil (a indigenous Mayan group) and that was what our host mother spoke. Thankfully, her children, Maribel, Daniel, Lea Maria and Diego, knew Spanish because of school. I was definitely made very aware that my 18-month year old baby language skills were not getting us very far. But you know what? That was okay. We made it work. And I still did not lose my confidence to try.

I think there is a lot of beauty in trying to communicate with people in their own language, especially if you are coming in to a new culture as the white American. I will never forgot this part of my MCC Learning Tour to Guatemala. I will always remember how Raul patiently taught me how to say "vaca" or cow when I asked (even though it clearly was not pressing). He would stop what he was doing to come up next to me, look into my eyes and slowly annunciate the word until I (sort of) got it. I will never forget how, when Nancy wasn't around and someone asked Raul a question in English that he didn't understand, he would often look to me to translate. (Even though I would often come up short).
One of the participants, Emma, and Raul. Watching them communicate was always hilarious. 
When I think about all of these things I often think of the Spanish word contigo, or "with you." My fumbling language skills was what made my experience in Central America become even more alive. Being able to meet in some sort of messy middle and communicate together is an incredible thing.

Contigo. With you.

With me.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Week Update: The best and worst

It's been a weird week.

It started with a call from my Landlord on Monday morning, just as I was getting ready to head out the door to work. They're selling the house.

I should've known.

It feels as if it is impossible for me to live in one place for more than a year or so. Living life in constant transition is not fun. Moving is hell. In fact, ironically enough, a couple of days prior to this, I had told Levent that I was grateful to not be moving again this spring. (Last year we both moved on the same day, which was also his birthday as well as the day before we went on a trip to Colorado. Yeah, not the best choice).

I basically been freaking out every since that phone call. I have a cat. I love my cat. I am not willing to give up my cat. Thus, my housing options are pretty limited. (Also, potential landlords get mean when you call them and tell them you have a cat).

At this point, I don't really have a plan besides keep riding it out in the hopes that this house will take forever to sell. (It has foundational issues). Or that whoever does buy it will want to keep renting it out, specifically to me. I might complain about this crazy little house, but I do love living here. It's perfect for me in practically every way. I don't really have a plan B at this point.

That was the worst thing.

The best thing was discovering a new coffee shop in Wichita that, as I texted to my sister later, is like "Raleigh cool." The Reverie in Wichita is exactly what I look for in a coffee shop.
1. Awesome location.
2. Awesome coffee
3. Great decor
4. Steller vibes
(It's a bonus if they roast their own beans).

The Reverie meets all of my high coffee shop standards. Just being in there was stirring up my create energy. I will definitely be back.

 Another good thing also happened on Saturday; I was able to plant my entire garden. It was super windy and it took almost 3 hours, but I did it. Who knows what this season will be like, but the beginning part is always the most exciting.
And I got to harvest some mint for some "garden tea" (or so my family calls the mint tea lemonade we make).

So win-win-win.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Guatemala blog post

Hey all. I wrote a blog post about my Guatemala trip on a different blog. You can check it out here.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Garden angst

I was really hoping to finally put my (purple) green bean seeds into the ground this weekend. The weather had other ideas. Yesterday was lovely, but it had rained (and I mean poured) the night before. So that wasn't happening. And I thought, "maybe today I can go out to my garden."

Think again. It's still wet and the highs today are only in the 50s.

Now is a good time to take some deep breaths and not let my OCD obsession with my garden take over my life and ruin a perfectly good, cozy Sunday.

I did look at my blog posts from last spring and realized that, by this point in the year, I had already planted everything in the ground.

Oh well. Every year is different. It's okay. It is what it is.

Really, I just need to relax. Spring things are happening.

For example, I came home from my trip to Guatemala to find my 3 hosta transplants (all the way from North Carolina) made it. If fact, they were all out in full force, welcoming me home last Saturday.
Moreover, some of my spinach was even big enough to harvest. It wasn't a lot, but we mixed into our jumbo salads for supper on Friday. I am hoping for more very soon. 

(The disappointing thing here is that this spring I had made an whole new garden box in my yard for greens and things. Nothing is coming up, despite that the spinach in the other box is (which was planted at the same time). There is so much about gardening I do not understand). Oh well. I will take (and eat) what I can get). 
Finally, the basil I planted is coming up (and hanging in there). I keep waiting for it to be warm enough that I can leave it outside all of the time. But since the temp keeps dipping, it spends a lot of time inside still. 
I also finally got around to finishing the window screens my Dad started making for me last July. The windows in my rental are really crappy. Most of them do not any type of storm window/screen. So we made some.  I stapled in the screen myself. It was very liberating. Once Levent helped me wrangle them into place, the cool breeze quickly swept through the warm house. It was lovely. (Scout loves the screens too). Although, ironically, the heater just clicked on. So I will not get much use out of them today.
I am never quick enough when it comes to my garden (or so I think). But who cares. I did manage to mow the lawn this weekend. That alone seems like a victory.  I will enjoy my cool weather day while I still have the chance.