Posts Tagged ‘things to love about fall’

November is really putting on a show for us: bright blue skies, occasional spits of tiny snowballs, lots of sunshine. Even the sunrises seem more brilliant and showy than normal. I am a fan. Plus, I am eating leftover black bean tacos for breakfast with great relish. (Hmm. Relish is a little confusing in that sentence, considering relish is also a food. But let me assure you that I will never eat relish, with relish or otherwise.) Your comments on my breakfast post were so reassuring and I am intrigued by many of your ideas and bolstered by your reassurances that eating lunch food at 8:15 is perfectly acceptable. (I had leftover chicken vindaloo for breakfast yesterday and it was magnificent.)

Completely deviating from my typical pattern of grumpishness/food talk, here is some HAPPY randomosity. I have somehow restricted it to five bullet points. Don’t worry, I have made each bullet point much more wordy than necessary to make up for how few there are.

  • I forgot to tell you about Halloween! Carla was a witch – a very glittery witch – and we happened to have beautiful clear, cool weather for Halloween. Often it is raining, but not this year! We stayed in our cul-de-sac, and all four of us accompanied Carla on her trick-or-treating sojourn. It was very pleasant to walk around, and I was reminded of just how wonderful our neighborhood is. We have SUCH nice neighbors. Even though we did not end up buying any candy whatsoever because my husband didn’t want to have a bunch of people coming to the door (I tried suggesting the Nicole Method, of mask and tongs, HI NICOLE!, but he wasn’t having it), probably 95% of our neighbors handed out candy. Most of them were sitting on folding chairs behind tables set up in their garages or on their driveways, with big bowls of candy on top. It worked really well and I think it persuaded my husband that there IS a way to hand out candy safely. Our neighbors all know Carla, especially those with dogs, and greeted her with glee. I was so charmed and touched to see how many of them had special treat bags set aside for her, or had full-size candy bars squirreled away for her. A couple of our neighbors even had treat for the adults – beer and little bottles of liquor and beef jerky “for the fathers.” It was such a nice evening, and Carla seemed content to tour our cul-de-sac for an hour and come home. Perfect Halloweening! And then the next morning, as soon as she was off to school, I put away all the Halloween décor. You know I love my bats and my ghosts, but with two extra bodies in the house (I am referring to my in-laws, not to murder victims; am not a murderer) they were starting to feel a bit oppressive. Literally the only person who noticed everything was gone was Carla, but that’s fine. I noticed, and feel that much less crowded.
  • My root canal is over and done with. Aside from a major headache and some lingering jaw soreness, which the endodontist indicated would last for a few days, I feel fine. AND, better yet, I can drink liquid of all temperatures again without pain. Doing the conscious sedation was a good choice for me. I was SO anxious about the root canal that the anesthesiologist kept telling me that he was going as fast he could so that he could calm me down. He was very nice and friendly and very by the book. He made sure to tell me, very clearly, that I could not drive or operate machinery for a day after the procedure; he said he had to tack on the second part after calling to check on a patient, and learning that the patient was outside using a chainsaw to cut down trees. According to my husband, when we left the procedure, I told the anesthesiologist that I was going to go home and use my chainsaw, and the guy was NOT amused. (I also told him that I had asked my husband if I could take a Xanax on the way to the procedure, but that my husband said the conscious sedation would cover that for me; the anesthesiologist was alarmed, and asked me several times to confirm that I had NOT, in fact, taken a Xanax. Not much for joking around, that guy. I’m glad I didn’t take my husband’s advice to tell him I ate an egg McMuffin for breakfast. You aren’t supposed to eat anything after midnight the night before, and I think he would have been distinctly unamused.)

  • As I mentioned, we are having a truly glorious display of fall right now. The trees were late to color, but now I’d say they are at their peak. All these beautiful maples, competing with one another over who can don the most fabulous autumn frock, boasting colors that you rarely see outside of a box of crayons. I have been walking every morning, despite the chill in the air, and I am constantly marveling at the trees and their outrageous plumage. It makes me so happy. I do wish that I could capture just how glorious the colors are, but my iPhone photography skills leave a lot to be desired. Plus, while a suburban tree shining just so in the morning sunlight is truly gorgeous, it is difficult to separate the trees/sunshine from the homes/power lines portion of the image. So you will just have to imagine an especially vivid fall suburbscape all on your own.

  • My in-laws decided to give us a little break and checked into a hotel last night. I think they are coming back here when my sister-in-law leaves, and maybe that is part of why they made the move: to be closer to her. But they positioned their departure as giving us a little break, and it is quite lovely. One of the hard things about having extra people in my house – especially when they are all night owls – is that I feel like I never get to talk to my husband. It’s hard for me to elbow my way through the throng to kiss him hello when he gets home, and forget about having any sort of private conversation before I slink off to bed, by myself, at ten. Last night, my in-laws left at about nine and my husband and I sat on the couch together and he told me all about work and I told him all about a phone call I had with a potential new client and we caught up on all the day-to-day things that we hadn’t really had a chance to share lately. It was SO NICE. Also nice: After our conversation, he wanted to go work on his music and I poured a (possibly too large) glass of wine and curled up on the couch and watched Seinfeld reruns all by myself. Even though I stayed up much too late, I feel partially restored. Maybe once I get back from my walk I will be all the way there.

  • I have been saving the best for last. Yesterday, I scheduled Carla’s Covid vaccine appointments!!!! She gets her first dose next week which means she will be all vaccinated before the new year. I am SO EXCITED. It took awhile for me to get to the excitement stage. I woke up Wednesday to texts from two of my mom friends who told me that Walgreens was scheduling vaccine appointments. I immediately booked Carla a spot, even though I would rather have her go to the pediatrician: she has extreme shot anxiety, and I think being in a familiar location with a familiar person administering the shot would be much better than going to a Walgreens thirty minutes from our house and having a harried stranger do it. But getting the appointment was important and I did it. I was kind of dreading the whole thing: dreading telling Carla she has to get two more shots, dreading the topic coming up around my in-laws (who, in prior conversation, have been opposed to us giving Carla the vaccine; we have purposely avoided the topic since this discovery because a) we don’t want to argue and b) we definitely don’t want Carla to hear and then feel more worried, but it’s possible their views have changed since we last discussed it), dreading the possibility of Carla suffering side effects, dreading the very-rare-but-not-nonexistent possibility of more serious issues resulting from the vaccine, dreading the entire thought of being a parent and making decisions for your child that could alter their futures in potentially negative ways, etc. Then, at 1:57 p.m., I got an email from my pediatrician saying they were scheduling Covid vaccinations. I called IMMEDIATELY. I was on hold for thirty minutes, but instead of getting irritated by the long wait, every minute that passed made me more and more giddy with excitement. Because the only reason they weren’t answering my phone call was because they were fielding so many calls from other parents trying to get vaccinations for their kids! The stupid hold music interspersed with repetitive messages about how important it is to get a colonoscopy and interrupted at intervals with “your call is important to us” started to sound like hope. Hope that Covid will soon be as mundane as the flu, hope that someday soon our kids can play together, indoors, without masks, hope that we can travel with less trepidation, hope that we can worry less, hope that fewer and fewer people will get sick and fewer still will die. I am feeling gleeful again, just typing it out! Upon learning that I’d scheduled her vaccine, Carla’s first reaction was YAY! She was PUMPED! She had so many excited questions: could she have friends over once they are vaccinated, and would they be able to play without masks, and would she be able to maybe have a sleepover with someone, and would she be able to visit her cousin without masks on, and would her school stop requiring mask wearing. A lot of questions I could not answer, but it really reminded me how eager even our adaptable, resilient, go-with-the-flow kids are to return to some sort of pre-Covid connectivity with others. When she realized that the vaccine is a shot, and there could be side effects, she was less pumped. But that’s just a normal anxiety around shots in general. And once I told her that she could choose a treat for afterward – ice cream or a donut were the treats I suggested; she added cake or mini cheesecake to the list – she switched her focus to the all-important task of which treat and when. (I think she landed on mini cheesecake for dose one, ice cream for dose two.) Loose end: Since I’d already made two separate appointments, I discussed the options with Carla: unfamiliar Walgreens on a Friday, so she wouldn’t miss school, vs. her regular pediatrician but during the school week, so if she has side effects she might miss a day of class. She preferred the pediatrician option, so I canceled the Walgreens appointment and I am sure it was snapped up right away by another parent eager to vaccinate their kid. Woo! LET’S GO!

Happy Friday, Internet!

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I am sitting in a dark house, staring out at a brooding sky and wind-tossed trees. It is deliciously quiet right now. Thanks to your powerful not-Covid thoughts, Carla is Covid negative and back at school. Hooray!

We were very productive yesterday: in addition to going to the doctor, I did four loads of laundry – INCLUDING folding – and have a last load waiting for me to put it in the washer (I have been trying to see a load through from hamper to folding before I start a new load; reduces the pile up). We also cleaned out Carla’s desk, which had an entire trash bag’s worth of junk in it, and we listened to Project Hail Mary (which I listened to based on Jaida’s excellent recommendation and loved so much that I explained it to Carla, and my enthusiasm made her want to listen to it also), and we watched a very long video of someone who gives makeovers to OMG dolls. Carla subsequently added “liquid latex” and “heat gun” to her list of must-have crafting items. It was nice to have a little extra time with my kid, but she has another day off coming up and I am very glad she is back at school.

After I dropped Carla off, I went to the grocery store and spent all our savings on food. I have not been noticing a huge number of shortages… things seem to have leveled off, a bit. (Although at Costco this weekend, there was no Kirkland-brand toilet paper, and both toilet paper and paper towels were one-per-customer.) Plenty of staples – beans, pasta, flour, sugar, pepperoni. Even Lunchables are available again. A thing that I do find concerning is that Target now has “only X left” on pretty much anything I try to order online. This is true whether I choose “pick-up” or “shipping” as my delivery option. It could simply be marketers playing to the scarcity strategy, but whatever it is, it definitely cues my panic response.

You know a thing that I find unnecessarily anxiety-provoking? When someone can’t hear what you’re saying. The checker at the grocery store had a hard time hearing me, and was really frustrated-acting about it. Which I get! It must be frustrating, to not hear someone! And I am sure that she has to deal with this same situation multiple times per day, what with people wearing masks, and her being stuck behind a plexiglass shield and all. But she did that thing where she shook her head and closed her eyes in an “I am counting to ten” kind of way, and, her tone said “this is entirely YOUR fault” and I felt helpless and defensive and equally frustrated that I couldn’t make myself heard and ugh. I just hate that. Makes me feel shaky and tearful when it should be a simple exchange of, “Oh, sorry! I will speak up!” and “Thank you! That’s better!” instead of disgusted dismissive shrugging like I am purposefully being a jerk.

She also seemed mad at me that I asked her to re-scan my apples. I bought Jonagold apples because a) I can’t remember the last time I ate a Jonagold apple, and cannot remember how they taste and b) because they looked so beautiful and shiny and red. I purposely avoided the Honeycrisp apples because a) they were $0.50 per pound more expensive and b) also looked pale and bloated. So I pointed out that they had rung up as the wrong apple – which she had me repeat twice – and then she said in an angry way, “Well, they come up as Honeycrisp when I type in the number on the tag.” Which. Okay. Either some Honeycrisp apples migrated into the Jonagold section or the tag was incorrect or the computer was reading them incorrectly or she typed the number into the computer incorrectly or I blacked out in the apple section and got Honeycrisp instead of Jonagold… I don’t know, but it didn’t seem to me that I had been BLAMING her for doing something WRONG when that is clearly how it came across. She is never as friendly as some of the checkers, but she sure drank some curdled milk this morning or something.

A package of M&Ms classic mix (M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, and peanut butter M&Ms all in a single bag) caught my eye at the checkout, but I neglected to act on my impulse and buy it. I wavered because I don’t really like plain M&Ms. But I am regretting my inaction now.

We got the bill for the exterminator, and it was MUCH higher than indicated in our previous infuriating and elliptical conversation. And I can’t decide whether I need to simply pay it and find a new exterminator service or if I should email him back and request an explanation. And I KNOW that prices are rising and costs are increasing, so there could be a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy. But I want to KNOW. I don’t want to just pay whatever he says the price is, willy nilly. We got a nice letter from our snowplow service saying – in advance – that they had a lot of increased costs and so our bill would go up, and I really appreciate that kind of up-front transparency. We will gladly pay the increase. Part of me wants to email the exterminator, just to see what he says. Although I am afraid he will then call me.

My root canal takes place next week. My husband took the day off from work and will drive me to and from the appointment and presumably ensure I don’t die afterward. I am not looking forward to it. But it will be nice to no longer have severe pain in my jaw. (Although I have heard plenty of stories about root canals not “taking” and needing to be repeated. Arrrrggghhhhh.)

This past Sunday, because Carla wasn’t going to school the following day, the three of us watched Cruella, with Emmas Stone and Thompson. There were some men in it, too, but the Emmas were the real stars. It was a decent movie, although it made Cruella a little too sympathetic, and I still am not quite sure I can make the narrative jump to her wanting to skin and wear a bunch of a Dalmatians as a coat. Also, the whole nature-vs-nurture theme of the movie could have done with a little more thinking through, but I suppose what do you want from a children’s storybook villain origin story. Carla was quite taken with her and has resumed speaking with a semi-British accent.

This is a bit of a delicate topic, maybe. But… do you shave your face? I had not done any sort of facial hair removal until a couple of months ago, aside from an occasional plucking of a stray eyebrow hair, or pulling out the hair that insists on sprouting witchily from the mole on my chin. But now I am completely obsessed with these Tinkle razors. I think I have used these enough times now to be able to recommend them with confidence. A little back story: an acquaintance mentioned these to me over the summer, and said she’d gotten a couple extra and she would give them to me. Note that she did not ask if I wanted them. Then the next couple of times we ran into each other, she’d slap her thigh and say, “Oh darn, I forgot to bring them for you!” As you might imagine, after each of these exchanges, I would spend long minutes with my face pressed up against the mirror, trying to determine whether my peach fuzz had graduated into full on facial shrubbery. Surely, my furry outer layer was so evident that this person felt COMPELLED to get me to take action. So when she finally pressed a couple into my hands, I was ready to give them a try. I had never tried any sort of facial hair removal options before because my mother had always given me stern and strenuous warnings about how the hair would grow back thicker and darker than before. A mother’s admonitions are a hard thing to get past, even when one is in her fifth decade of life. So far, I have not noticed this to be the case with the Tinkle razors. There is a period during which the face feels a teeny bit rougher than normal, but then the hair goes back to its normal downy state, and I haven’t noticed any change in color whatsoever. Anyway, these are very easy to use and I LOVE THEM and I am not going back and if you are looking for a facial hair solution I recommend you give these a go.

What are we supposed to be watching on TV these days? My husband and I watched Midnight Mass (interesting and thoughtful concept; Hamish Linklater; too many long-winded monologues) and Squid Game (VERY stressful but impossible to stop once we started) and are of course watching the latest season of Great British Baking Show. But we need something new. I want to watch that murder comedy with Selena Gomez (Only Murders in the Building) and my husband wants to watch Succession and neither of us is particularly excited about the other’s choice. What have you watched recently and loved?

I looked up the person who does the OMG doll makeovers and she apparently makes somewhere around $14,000 a month.

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We are in the middle of Day 5 of nearly solid rain. Rain is great, don’t get me wrong. And I’ve really leaned into it by making soup and spaghetti sauce for dinners and crawling back into bed with my computer instead of working at my desk in my (chilly) office. But even with these accommodations, it’s not the most uplifting of weather patterns. Plus, you know. There’s all the… You know. * Broad gesture toward the rest of the world. *

Let’s focus on some Good Things, shall we?

  • Questions. Carla has been SO inquisitive lately, like all of a sudden she’s achieved Peak Curiosity, and so we have been investigating some of her queries in the car line in the morning. (While parked. Because of the strict way Carla’s school is controlling crowds and monitoring students’ temperatures, parents cannot release their kids until eight o’clock on the dot, so if we get to school a bit early, we are just sitting in line, waiting.) Yesterday we looked up a.m. and p.m., today we learned the difference between tiaras and crowns. It’s delightful, the things that pop up in her brain to wonder about. I hope she always, always shares her questions with me.
The other day, Carla was so full of questions that I started writing them down so we wouldn’t forget any of them. Just in case you wanted a peek inside a typical morning at my house.

  • Décor. We finally put up our Halloween decorations, and I love them so. I don’t really know what I was waiting for? I adore Halloween – it’s such a low-pressure, high-fun holiday – but I was really resisting the act of decorating for some reason. I think the delay helped build up the anticipation for Carla, though. And then! Joy of joys! She HELPED ME put them up! Like, she was actually helpful and very careful and had Strong Opinions about where to put our collection of glittery pumpkins and how to hang the wall bats. It made the whole process both easier and more enjoyable. 
  • Outdoor explorations. Despite the rain, we went on hikes/walks both Saturday and Sunday of last weekend, and I’m still feeling happy about them. If there’s one good thing to come of this pandemic, it’s that my little family has spent a LOT more time exploring our local park system than we ever have before, and it’s been really fun. A good excuse to get outside in the fresh air, a good excuse to move our bodies, a good excuse to be together. Saturday was sunny and we went on a walk that took us up over a river valley, with some really spectacular views of the river and the fall foliage. Sunday was rainy, and yet we trudged through a deliciously creepy forest until we reached a beach and then walked on the sand and skipped rocks in the pounding surf while the rain pelted us. We got absolutely soaked but I think that made it feel more like an adventure. I’m already looking forward to our next excursion. 
A break in the rain.
  • Target drive up. This continues to be one of the best innovations of the pandemic. It is so easy to order something from the Target app in the morning, and then swing by Target after I pick up Carla from school. They have really fine-tuned the system so that the staff member is walking out of Target with my purchases almost immediately once I’ve arrived. And sometimes lately they have been adding little free samples of things to my bags. It’s very convenient and I love that if they don’t, in fact, have your item in stock, they will ship it to you for free. Do I wish that they offered more food items for drive up? Or anything Lysol-related? Or hand sanitizer or bleach spray or sanitizing wipes? Yes, obviously. But I understand why those things aren’t available, or are so quick to fly off the shelves that they don’t even try. It’s still a very good thing. 
  • A full night’s sleep. I’m in the midst of one of those wake-up-every-morning-at-3:30 sleep patterns. And worse, I have been unable to get back to sleep after I wake up. Sometimes I lie awake for hours, going through all my Get Back to Sleep strategies. There’s nothing worse than finally drifting off to sleep at six, only to have your alarm wake you up thirty minutes later. The whole thing is AWFUL, is what it is. It leaves me bleary and teary and crabby. But! Last night! I fell asleep at about ten o’clock and didn’t wake up until six! (Well, okay, I woke up around one to pee, but I don’t count that because I was able to get back to sleep right away.) One night of solid sleep will do wonders for a person’s soul. 
  • Mums. It seems like all of September I kept seeing mums everywhere. Mums for sale! Mums on porches! Mums hanging from hooks! Mums in fluffy rows outside of grocery stores! So many mums! I got serious mum envy. So a couple of weekends ago, I finally decided that I needed some. I’m not so great at keeping flowers alive; my landscaping preferences tend toward easy and low maintenance. But I found some mums – and, so late in the season, they were HALF OFF – and bought four burgundy mums and two yellow ones PLUS two decorative kale? kales? heads of kale and I am just so PLEASED with them. I have two big planters in the backyard where I planted some as-it-turns-out NOT deer resistant flowers during the summer, and I added one burgundy mum each to those, plus a head of kale. And then I put four smaller planters with one mum each on the front porch – burgundy and yellow – and added a couple of pumpkins. If I were to do it again next year (which, why not?!?!?!), I might try to get some fun fallish grasses or something, to fill out the bigger planters. 
Neither my mums nor my kale; mumspiration
  • Fall toasties.  I made these WONDERFUL fall treats this past weekend: a slice of sourdough bread spread with some apple and onion jam, topped with a slice of apple and a slice of brie, baked until the brie has melted all over the top of the bread and apple. SO GOOD.

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As though the calendar has some sort of correlation with the weather (imagine that), fall has now settled over my Midwest city. We are still having warm weather, but there’s a fine scrim of cool overlaying the heat. The skies are my favorite – bright blue with big, puffy clouds trundling along with the breeze. The trees are losing their leaves; those remaining are beginning to turn red and yellow, and there’s a constant reminder of their passing: they scratch along on the sidewalk, crunch beneath your feet, drift from branch to ground in currents of air. And oh, how I love fall! I love the return to soups and hearty crockpot meals, the abundance of apples, the appearance of pumpkins on people’s stoops. I love how the sunshine seems just a little brighter, a little more insistent, as though it knows its days are numbered. I love the return of fall television programming and Sundays spent watching football and drinking Octoberfest beer.

But there is one thing I deeply despise about fall. THERE ARE SO MANY BUGS. They have begun their annual pilgrimage into my home and I am Not Here For It. I mean. Okay. Let’s be reasonable. Deep breaths. Bugs have the misfortune of being the creepiest of God’s creations, but they are living beings all the same, right? I can deal with bugs outside – that’s where they belong, after all. Ants, beetles, lady bugs. These are totally acceptable. It’s when they infiltrate my home that I have an issue.

Spiders, I can – grudgingly – live with. If a spider is smaller than a dime and stays respectfully out of sight, FINE. Go on and live your life, spider. (A whole other thing is the quarter-size monsters who brashly saunter across the wall right above the TV and then just… hang out there. Come on. I know you don’t care who wins this episode of Songland, spider. Go outside or at least PRETEND TO.)

You know of my arduous struggle with silverfish. (Which have been mostly eradicated, I think, touch wood. We see them now and again, but it’s pretty rare, these days.)

But INTERNET. We have EARWIGS now. I cannot abide an earwig. Its very name is reprehensible. And have you SEEN those mo’foes? (Did I spell mo’foes correctly? Because my spell check seems to think otherwise but has no alternate suggestions. Way to be a problem solver, spell check.) THEY HAVE PINCERS ON THEIR BUTTS. Anything with a buttular pincer needs to stay the HELL away from me. I haven’t seen one inside yet – mainly I find them lurking on the porch – and, so far, they seem to be shocked and embarrassed to be discovered, and scuttle away into the dark recesses of the wood when unearthed – but even earwigs aren’t going to stay outside all winter, right? Aren’t they just biding their time before they invade the house? I am just waiting to have severe ear pain and go to the ER to discover an earwig has gotten literal about its destiny and lodged itself inside my ear canal.

We DO see centipedes inside. And that is plenty of insect horror for me, thankyouverymuch. I simply cannot handle centipedes AND earwigs. (Are you listening, earwigs?) An unexpected disadvantage to having children means that I have to be all blasé about their presence. We had an enormous centipede crawling across our kitchen like it owned the place – “I’ll just go grab a bagel – no need to serve me, I can take care of myself.” That was the centipede, making itself at home. – and instead of shrieking and then maybe burning our house to the ground I had to be super calm and say, “Oh look, a centipede.” And then I had to calmly and gently explain to Carla that I was indeed going to squish it, because it was too fast and crawly to take outside (I mean, I don’t know if that’s 100% TRUE, but I wasn’t going to test my theory). And then console her, because of course she doesn’t want to kill anything, bless her heart. And thengo grab some toilet paper and SQUISH IT. A satisfying conclusion to the centipede’s presence, yes, but I do not enjoy SQUISHING things. Especially when I can’t go “Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew!!!” and jump up and down. No. With Carla watching my every movement, I have to be super casual and calm about it, like a crawly – and now, surely, ENRAGED – creature with a million legs isn’t about to squirm out of my toilet paper wad and exact revenge on me at any moment.

I… don’t know where I am going with any of this. This has been your Bug Report, I guess. And a reminder that fall, wonderful as it may be, contains hidden terrors. A lesson for us all.

Oh! I do have a conclusion: I called the exterminator and now our house is full of poison, so hopefully we will see fewer bugs in the coming weeks. And NO EARWIGS.

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