Archive for the ‘Misc. Griping’ Category

Growing a Thick Skin for Winter

Sometimes it’s really tough giving a crap about what other people think. Honestly, how liberating must it feel to be a self absorbed a-hole who either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care for the opinions of others? Or to be so self-righteous, you simply believe that everyone else is just wrong anyway? That would have its merits too.

But, alas, as far as I know, I possess none of the above mentioned personality traits. I have the opposite personality trait. I am the validation junkie, the one who lives for the praise of others and dies just a little inside from their criticisms.

And that second part really sucks. It just does. I can get mad. I can rant and rave about the injustice of that anonymous reviewer that gives me one rate-reducing star with no explanation, or the other reviewer who uses my books as a platform to justify his or her disgust with an entire genre of writing (or gender of writers, or political leanings of writers, or all self-published writers in general). But that doesn’t make the cut sting any less. I still get hurt.

Do critics ever think about the pain they cause when they voice their negative opinion for the world to see? Are they working under the assumption that a creative person who has the audacity to share their heart-felt creation with the public deserves ridicule for efforts? Maybe so.

I have opinions. I voice them to people I’m comfortable sharing my opinion with. I would never make a decent critic. I was raised with the time honored mantra of, “if you can’t say something nice, mumble something snarky about it to the closest ear and move on.”

It’s not easy seeing green

I was granted many blessings and abilities (though I don’t always see or appreciate them) in my life. I was not granted patience. I hate waiting. Microwave popcorn takes too damn long. Stoplights are maddening. And Wisconsin’s usually procrastinating spring is just plain torture.

As I’ve stated earlier, we just lived through one of the coldest winters in 75 years, the coldest for many of us in our entire lives. And spring is whimpering in like a beaten dog. We’re so despirate up here for spring, that we are looking at highs in the low fifties (twenty degrees below where we should be right now) and saying, “Well, it could certainly be worse. We had snow this time last year.”

For gardeners it’s an added aggravation. You know those pretty pictures you always see of crocuses blooming with a ring of snow around them? Yeah, we had that; more enjoyable in the picture than real life.

Finally the snow is gone. The carcases hiding in the snowbanks have been exposed and finished off by starving eagles. Emaciated deer are chewing whatever they can find. The robins are finally able to indulge in fresh worms.

And the many leaves that blew in from other yards after mulching was done last fall are covering my garden beds, mocking me. I see little green shoots peeking out underneath them. I lift up the leaves in a few spots. And the rationalizing begins. “Theses are perennials, right? They’re suppose to be cold hardy. They wouldn’t be leafing out right now if they weren’t suppose to be uncovered. They need the sun.” I swear I can actually hear the rake in the garage calling me, “Come and get me. I promise to be gentle. You know you want to…

But past experience has taught me otherwise. It’s too soon. So I put at least some of the leaves carefully back, and then I sigh despondently, and I walk away. The old adage up here is, you never uncover the garden beds until after Mother’s day. You don’t plant annuals until Memorial weekend. One little dip in the fickle jet stream, and the damage is done.

I always laugh bitterly when I watch the news in Washington DC and they are showing off the cherry blossoms around the Capitol in April. This year it was more painful than funny. This year it was just mean.

Stupid patience.


Spring Has Sprung…Finally!

To break the Third Commandment in a really blatant way,”Oh my Lord Jesus and all that is holy in this world, it has been a LONG ASS WINTER!”

Here in the Great State of Wisconsin (and the upper Midwest in general), it will go down as the coldest winter in seventy-five years. That’s a very long time. In 2013, we only had four months when it didn’t snow. It snowed until mid May and started right up again in late September. That’s just nuts. But once the snow started again, it just wouldn’t stop. And if it wasn’t snowing, it was twenty below zero. I wish I were exaggerating, but I’m really not. Between the middle of November and the beginning of March, we had maybe two days when it got above freezing.  We have fifty days below zero.

Me and mine made it through all right, but there were people I knew that were close to living in “Little House on the Prairie” conditions. People whose wells froze and they had to melt snow for washing and basic toilet type functions. People whose sewers froze, and I probably don’t need to elaborate on that. There were desperate liquid propane shortages, something most rural people depend on for heat. Some people were able to switch to other, less glamorous methods of not freezing to death in their sleep, but even those began to be harder to get. People literally ran out of fire wood. Firewood needs to be cut and stored at least one year before use, and people just didn’t count on winter being so cold for so long.

March stayed below zero until the third week. It snowed a foot last week. but FINALLY, it was mid sixties yesterday, above average for a very pleasant change. And as the stubborn snow began to melt, I did what I do every year and stared down my flower beds to see if anything at all was green.

I was pleasantly surprised. Some of my Thyme was still green (tough as nails even in Zone 3b and super drought resistant. Full sun, 6 inches high, and bursts of pink flowers in the summer, plus you can pick it for cooking. Highly recommended). So was my  low growing Sedum (Luuuuv Sedum). My Strawberries are still alive, and my Dianthus, Geraniums, and Creeping Phlox looked quite happy hiding under the oak leaves and peeking out at me.

But I got really excited when I saw the bulb spikes. I’m not an organized enough person to remember what type of bulb I planted where last fall, but there were some lovely pale green spikes poking up in front of my pallet fence, and I actually squealed when I saw them…like a little girl getting a pony or something.

Because after making it through this insanely long and cold winter, I deserve to squeal with joy. Welcome Spring! Stick around a while, why don’t ya?