Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yard Projects: Lilacs!

Earlier this spring, when the lilacs bloomed, I put some in a vase that was my Grandmom's.  They were so beautiful and fragrant!

This is what one of the bushes looked like before I touched it.

The first project that I did was my lilac bushes.  I have seven mature, twelve foot lilac bushes in my back yard.  I had done nothing to them last year, and they obviously had gone a long time without receiving any love by the previous owner.  I had heard that the ideal time to cut them back was right after they finished blooming, and with our early spring here in Colorado, I needed to start that project about three or four weeks ago.  So, I got to work.  I know nothing about them, so I watched a two-minute video on youtube and felt like I was an expert!  I went outside and opened up a can on those things.  The video (and, everyone that I had talked to about them, by the way) said to cut the top third off.  So, I did.  I’m not sure that anyone knew how mature they were, though.  Taking off the top third means that I no longer have any shade in my backyard and they look like they’ve had a bad haircut (something that feels just wrong to a hairstylist).  I’m not sure that I’ll ever follow the rules again.  Plus, I’m a little worried that they’re not going to come back the same…Three feet is a lot to come back in a year.  I think I’ll wait until the end of the summer next year so that I can keep my shade.  All in all it was a ton of work, took me three and a half afternoons, and filled more than two dumpsters with branches.  I found a bird nest in one of the branches, and instead of thinking it was really cool, for some reason it completely sicked me out.  

This is what one of them looks like with a bad haircut.  I only took off the top third.  I swear.

I finished the project a week and a half ago, and my arms and legs still have scratches all over them.  I look like I was in a serious bike wreck or a bad catfight.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yard Projects: Front Yard

I know I haven’t been updating around these parts lately, for a while I just felt like I had nothing to say.  Then, I got out of the habit.  Then, I started working my hiney off on my yard.

I thought I’d do a few posts on my yard projects!

Arthur, rolling around in the grass.
My favorite project was the flowerbeds in the front yard.  It made such a huge difference and was such a fun way to spend the day with my mom.  She’s awesome at garden stuff and I learned so much. 

The bed on the side was so seriously overgrown.  It was full of blue salvia that had grown wild, grass (what were they thinking?) a rose bush, some ivy, and lots and lots of weeds and rocks.  We (and by that I mean her) turned over all of the dirt, and then as she pulled stuff out I transplanted it to other places in the yard.  We moved a second rosebush into that bed and then I bought one more, so that there’s symmetry.  I added ice plant and flox, so that will grow in and fill out over the years and be really beautiful.  I’m also going to add some peonies from my sister’s yard; it’s the perfect place for peonies with all of the sun it gets.  I realized as I added two flats of plants that I had never put those kind of plants in the ground before.  I had only ever done containers.  It takes about thirty seconts to add plants to a container.  I thought that's what it would take to get them into the ground, too.  Wrong!  It took about an hour per flat.  I had to use a real shovel instead of my hand held spade.  I had to add compost.  It was so fun to own my own ground to put them into.
After.  Flox on the edge.  Ice Plants in corners.  Rose Bushes in the middle.  I changed to a smaller planter to allow more sun to reach the climbing rose bush in the corner.

That day, I also put in the new climbing rose bushes.
One of the climbers.

While Mom and I worked on that project, my brother also came over to mow the lawn for me.  Awesome, right?

Remember last year how I was trying to rehab my front yard, “Wes”?  This year he came back much fuller than last year, but still had some major bald spots.  I over seeded him again, and then used plugs from the grass that we pulled out of the flowerbed (plugs are basically like hair extensions).  That worked so well and made him look so handsome that I decided I needed to fill in the rest with extensions from a piece of sod.  So I bought just one piece for $4 at home depot and gave him some more.  He’s looking pretty great.  Plus, the new baby grass seeds are still growing, so I think he’s going to look pretty awesome by the end of the summer.
Wes, with hair extensions.
Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Hero

We just celebrated my Brother’s official last day in the Army.  We went to a nice place for dinner, a family favorite, (the kind of place that you can wear jeans or really get dressed up).  Mom warned me as I was getting dressed that Gabe was going to wear his Class A’s one more time (that’s Army for dress uniform, for those of you not in the know).  So I quickly rethought my jeans choice (even though this is Colorado and you can practically wear jeans to a wedding) and put on a little dress. 

It had been awhile since I had seen him in his Class A’s.  He had much more bling on his chest then the last time.  Plus, he had his pants tucked into his boots, indicating that he’s airborne (a paratrooper).  He looked so manly.  Sometimes that’s weird for me as the big sister.  It’s like, “Holy cow, we’re old.

We had such a great evening.  Eating delicious Cajun food.  Visiting.  Enjoying each other’s company.  Laughing.  Teaching the ones under four feet tall manners (especially Arthur).  We played “Who are they and why are they here?” With every table we could see.  Hilarity always ensues.  My favorite was the two that were scouting out sites for the Honda Redwing Convention.

My niece kept going around the circle and asking if we wanted to hear a story.  You can’t say no to the adorable three year old.  It starts with “Once about a time…” (instead of “upon,” so precious)  She is the princess.  An evil dragon is down the stairs.  Then, her brother comes and kills the dragon and saves her.  She moves on to the next person and tells the exact same story (word for word), all the way around the table.  Her brother is always her hero.

I know just how she feels. 

Our "Troop."

I finally got him to smile.

Isn't she lovely?


"Once about a time..."

The little family that's sacrificed so much.

My turn.

The pants tucked into the boots.
He is so brave.  He has made so many sacrifices.  He is home and safe.  I am so thankful.  He is my hero.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Baby of My Dreams

This has been a hard few days.  I’ve really been grieving.  Not only the loss of my husband, but also the life that we had planned.

The summer before Sawan died, I was working on getting in shape, trying to get my body prepared for a pregnancy.  I had quit smoking that March, and was walking up to five miles a day, trying to take off the “quitting smoking” weight and also, I just wanted to be in the best athletic shape possible when I got pregnant.

I was emotionally ready to get pregnant that spring, but Sawan had been slightly dragging his feet about it. We had been planning, but he wasn’t quite ready for me to “pull the goalie” in terms of birth control.  I (somewhat) patiently spent the summer talking him into it.

I was too stressed at work, so we decided to try to sell the salon.  By the end of July, miraculously, we were under contract.  It was going to be perfect.  We were going to be out of debt and I was going to stay working there as a contractor with a flexible schedule.

Sawan had been unemployed, but had decided on a new career, and was in real-estate school, which was only a three week ordeal, and he would have flexible hours which would allow for fishing and helping out with a baby.  Everything was falling into place.

So during what I was calling our “Enchanted Summer,” where he had all kinds of time, being unemployed, we walked.  It was the first time in our marriage that he had been home every night, since he had always worked in restaurants.  We walked all over the nearby neighborhoods.  We found a little neighborhood restaurant with an amazing greek salad and walked there a few times a week.  And we talked.  We talked and talked and talked. 

We talked about our family.  We chose names.

If he was a boy, he would be Wyatt.  Either Wyatt Gabriel or Wyatt Jerry, the middle name being after my brother or my dad.  We called him our little cowboy.  Wyatt Nail.

If she was a girl, she would be Yelena.  It was always my favorite Russian name, I loved the way it rolled off your tongue, and it’s the Russian form of Helen, his mother’s name.  She would be Yelena Leslie, her middle name after my mom.  We would call her Lane.

One night that summer, after walking past hundreds of clean, neatly manicured, perfect yards, there was one that was utterly cluttered with toys, and the stoop had a half eaten happy meal strewn all over it.  It was so out of place and comical.  Clearly the kid had had a busy day, and no one had gotten to it yet.  Sawan tried out our name.  “Wyatt, get out here and clean up your toys!” he mock-yelled.  Yep.  That name will work.

The baby thing had begun to feel so real.  We had named it.

During the first few days in August, I came home from a trip and we had a major conversation about having a baby.  But this time was different.  It started out as an argument about something else, but then it totally changed.  I wasn’t convincing.  I wasn’t begging.  I wasn’t trying to manipulate.  We just talked it through.  And in the end, he said, “Let’s start trying September 1.”  I made a bunch of phone calls, to make sure my health insurance covered maternity, to the doctor to see about the birth control reversal.  My dreams were just within my grasp.

But Sawan died on August 24.  In a lot of ways I feel like I lost Sawan, but I lost Lane and Wyatt, too.

I think that’s why Mother’s Day is especially hard. 

This year, I decided that I needed to do something.  I had thought about going up to the place where we had buried one of Sawan’s fly rods, and doing a little memorial for the baby of my dreams, too, but then I wouldn’t be able to see it often.

So instead, I bought rose bushes, to go in my front garden.  I’ll get to see them everyday, and I think their flowers will cheer me up.

One of the two pink climbing rose bushes

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mom's House

This is my first chance today to post this, but I had been planning for months, since I wrote it in my writing class (about a place that we’re nostalgic about), to put this up on Mother’s Day. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  You’re the Best Mom ever.

Mom’s House

There is nothing like my mom’s house.

I’m thirty-three years old.  When I’m sick, I still just want my mom.  Why is this?

There is something about her house.  There’s something about the way that her laundry smells.  Even though I buy the same laundry soap, it smells fresher and cleaner at her house.  It’s not just lavender, or fresh breeze; it’s somehow magically always the same smell regardless of what kind of detergent she buys.  It’s the smell of her, like summer, and childhood, and comfort and softness and sweetness all rolled into one.  The sheets are better.  They’re softer.  They feel like a feather brushing your cheek.     How is it that my mom magically gets softer laundry than the rest of us?  Is it that she really uses vintage sheets on her bed, that have been washed so many times, and the pillow cases (pronounced “pill-uh” in this household, the way Okies have said it for generations; every time I hear her say it I can see the old tintype photo of my great grandmother) touched by so many cheeks, from wrinkled, to fresh and new-born still needing fluffing, or is it that she buys a high thread count and they would be soft on anyone’s bed?

The TV is strangely better at mom’s house.  The remote control is a magic wand, a transporter into a different world.  There are better movies at mom’s house.  How is this possible when I have the same cable package that she does? 

Is it her generosity?  Is it that she will go to the store and get you anything you will eat or drink when you’re sick?  She offers sprite.  When you’re sick, that’s what you drink.  It’s always better with a straw, and the bendy kind is even better.  At mom’s house there’s always a bendy straw, just like there were when you were little.  It makes drinking at the bedside easier, but it also brings comfort in the nostalgia.  Plus, somehow everything tastes better with ice and a straw, the chinking in the glass like a time machine back to days when mom could make everything better.

Is it the way that she touches your forehead?  The way that she intuitively knows whether or not you have a fever, like she has a built in thermometer in her fingertips?  Is it her offer of a cool, wet washcloth for your forehead?  On a fevered brow, the washcloth, wet simply from the bathroom tap, feels icy, like the only exposed area on a blustery winter day when you’re all bundled up and only your eyes are uncovered.

I think maybe it’s not mom’s house at all, but the love felt there.  The fact that she loved us so well then, that she loves us so well now.  What is it about mom’s house that’s so amazing?  Well, clearly it’s that mom is there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Inspiration

Yesterday, I found out that Vidal Sassoon died.  He was one of my heroes, in a big way.  He had a profound influence on my own career, and on my entire industry.  I had always hoped to meet him one day.  It saddens me to know that now that that will never happen, but he certainly lived a full life.

The following is something that I wrote for my writing class earlier this winter/spring, the assignment was to write 500 words about someone who inspired me.  I thought now would be a good time to share it.

 Vidal Sassoon: My Inspiration

I wanted to be a hairstylist my whole life.  I remember watching the commercials for Vidal Sassoon hairspray when I was little, with the perfect bob that swung from side to side, and thinking, “I’m gonna do that.”  I didn’t want to be the girl (although I wanted that hair); I wanted to be the stylist.

When I began my career, I had a pretty clear image of what I wanted to do.  I wanted it to be glamorous. 

I got one of the most sought after jobs of my classmates, working for Heinz Schaeffer, the European uber stylist.

A week before I was to start, I took a vacation to LA, and my goals solidified.  What I really wanted to do was hair for the movies.  I could have my name in the credits.  I could be a member of the Academy.

 I began doing the things that I felt would prepare me.  I excelled at styling, I could blow dry the curl out of anyone’s hair.  I built a portfolio of editorial work.  I was published in Passion Magazine (the industry’s most prestigious publication) at 22. 

Then, three and a half years into my career, my boss thought I should get a little bit of “ongoing education” at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica.  It sounded fun, and I loved LA.  He didn’t have to twist my arm.  I thought this would be a great way to “network” anyway, to maybe get some connections for going out there to work at my dream.

But, after a week at the academy, everything had changed for me.  Vidal Sassoon had changed my life.  I was fascinated with his story, and it changed the way I did hair forever.

Vidal Sassoon first started changing the world in the sixties.  It was the age of roller-sets, Beehives and Bouffants.  He looked at the women in salons and realized that the only people with good hair were the ones who could afford to go to the salon and have their hair done once a week.  This didn’t seem right to him.  He began to ask questions.  “What if we taught women how to do their own hair?”  “What if we cut hair to work with the natural texture, rather than fighting against it?”  They say that he started a revolution.

Because the industry is so different now, it’s hard to fathom what a difference he made.  But let me put it to you this way:  Without his ideas, we wouldn’t have the hand-held blow dryer.  We would all still be the women in beauty shops, getting our hair set once a week under the hood dryers, sipping pink lemonade.  He changed an entire culture.

And I no longer want to be a hair stylist to the stars.  I want to make real people beautiful, and teach them to love the hair that they have.