The April List – 2016

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Ah, April. It’s such an exciting month here in the Midwest because it means winter is officially over. We didn’t get any snow in April that I can remember? Although the temps did drop down to the 30s many nights. Still, the days are sunnier and warmer, which means it’s time for gardening again, which I couldn’t be more happy about.

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1) Before the fun part of gardening can start, spring clean-up has to happen. Which is raking up all the dead leaves, sticks and other plant debris that remained on the ground after our fall clean up. Since our lawn guys made me cry last year with their disregard for our plants, we opted out of a professional clean up this year. Twenty yard waste bags later, I am nearly done.

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Last week, I worked in the front, where the beds are covered with pachysandra. Trying to get debris out from under those cluster-y little plants is nuts. I tried using a blower and that didn’t work, and you can’t rake through them so it’s all by hand. I think next year I will have the guys do the front only, but…I don’t know….maybe as long as I’m able, I will continue to do it all.

2) Prince. I mean, I have to give a shoutout. “Delirious” is the first song I remember having a strong reaction to (I was 10. It came on the radio and I was blown away by it’s craziness as I danced around the room). Aside from his amazing music and talent, he made it okay to be different. To be yourself. And during my junior high and high school years, it was such an important message to receive. Peace and love.

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3)  This is what happens when you take a break from playing Jr. Monopoly to have snack. I know he couldn’t have been comfortable with all the pieces poking on his belly, but he played it cool. Okay, buddy, it’s your spot. Got it.

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4)  So this tree came down. As in we had it cut down. Will tell you all about it in the next post.

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5)  I tackled the take-down of the ferns on my own and it was quite the struggle. I went to pull up ONE fern that was bugging me and this happens. A full bucket of the subway system of roots that this one fern was connected to. Egads.

I love ferns probably more than most people, but now that I have a bunch of other lovely plants sharing the same space, some of the ferns needed to go. And they keep popping up. It’s an ongoing battle.

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6)  We bought a raised cedar bed, which my husband put together for me. My youngest and I planted lettuce, green onions, and peas from seed, and starter plants of kale. Our dog Sam apparently loves the soil I used because he has been jamming his huge nose into the bed, sometimes coming up with a small mouthful of dirt. And probably our seeds. Waaaah.

I thought all hope was lost, but about three days ago, two tiny lettuce plants showed their faces. I will probably buy more starter plants for the other veggies, but I really hope one of the lettuces makes it. The girls have fun checking on it, as do I.

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7)  Even though he’s eaten most of our seeds, Sam is the BEST gardening companion. Whenever he hears the sliding door open or sees me put on my gardening gloves, he is ready to follow me. Mostly he sniffs around and then plops down exactly where I was going to weed or rake or plant, but I love his quiet company.

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8) I finally found a home for this Moroccan lantern that has been in our basement since we moved. I tried to find a spot for it in the house, but nothing really worked. In SF it lived on top of our bookshelf in the living room, but the ceilings are lower here and it doesn’t look right. Clearly it belongs in the garden (you can also see it in the veggie garden pic).

9) My book club’s April book was Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, same author as “Room” (which I didn’t read. wasn’t sure I could handle it). The story is loosely based on newspaper articles surrounding an unsolved murder in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Her realistic portrayal of what life was like during that time (the small pox epidemic, the influx of Chinese immigrants, treatment of women, squalor, etc) was eye-opening and on occasion, riveting.

We meet tomorrow and I’m wondering if the non-San Francisco gals enjoyed it as much as I did.

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10) I love that this is one of the classes offered at our community center. I’m not making fun of it – I think it’s awesome! I hope a lot of kids take it. And I will totally send my girls in a couple years if it’s still being offered.

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11) My husband and I finally made it back to Chartreuse, our hands down favorite restaurant in the area (the ambiance is fine, but I’m talking food). I say “the area,” but it could rival any spot in San Francisco. The pork belly with saffron polenta was just wow, and the vanilla pudding dessert thing we got (again) was divine. You can taste the freshness in every bite.

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12)  After dinner we went to see the art installation by Daily tous les jour in Cadillac Square. It’s an interactive piece, where each swing dings a musical note, which changes depending on whether people are in sync or not.

Bonus: The Hawaii List
Because I still have Hawaii on the brain, here’s a short bonus Hawaii list:

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1)  You’re probably aware that Hawaii has some of the best sushi on the planet. I’m not a big raw fish eater, but when I do have raw sushi, it needs to be the very best. Also, the shrimp tempura. Light, fluffy and crunchy. Why do so many places have to batter it like it is a corn dog?

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2) Growing up, we never had a dryer. My grandpa refused to buy one because the sun can dry your clothes for free. Plus, environmental reasons – wasting electricity, appliances, etc. Even after he died, my family won’t get one. I respect that, but I do not miss wringing out my clothes (especially jeans, those were the worst) and hanging them on the line.

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3) We saw a couple of these little birds poking around the beach on the North side of the island. I pointed them out to my sister and she told me they are golden-plovers. These crazy birds nest in Alaska, but spend most of their time in Hawaii (three months vs. nine months). They can make the trip in about two days, without resting on the water. Impressive.

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4) Something that grabbed me this trip was the mid-century architecture. I knew it was there, I knew it was 50s, but I really noticed it this time. I only thought to snap photos the day before we left, so I didn’t get great ones. The next time we visit, I’m going to spend a lot more time exploring the architecture.

That is IT, guys! I’m so looking forward to a wonderful May. Enjoy yours!

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The April List – 2015

IMG_0171 (1024x765)1) We finally put some artwork up in the family room. What a big difference! The SF prints were hanging in my husband’s basement office, but he kindly gave them up for the good of the house.  They look much better proportioned in real life (they look weirdly small in the photo for some reason).

2)  “That was my favorite squirrel” – our youngest, looking out the window at the dead squirrel in front of our house.

As the days went by it got more and more squished (“ooh I see blood” and more “my favorite squirrel” language) so I decided to call the city to see if they would scrape it up.

Me:  Hi. I’m new here and I’m not sure if you do this sort of thing but…there’s a dead squirrel on the street in front of our house and it’s freaking our kids out. Could you come pick it up or how does that work?
City Worker:  Now, where is the squirrel, in the middle of the street?
Me:  Umm, pretty much in the middle of the street, yes.
City Worker:  And you say it’s in front of your house? Is it right in front?
Me:  Yup, right in front of our driveway, I would say.
City Worker:  Okay, can I get your phone number, in case there are any questions?
Me: About the squirrel?! Umm, sure.

Can’t fault her for being thorough.

3)  My sister bought me Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Goldfinch” for Christmas, which I finished this month. Not once during the 784 pages did I feel like it was tedious or dragging. Do yourself a favor and put it on your summer reading list (I almost wish I had saved it for a summer read). You will thank me.

4) Michigan vs. San Francisco terminology:
Park = Playground
Pop = Soda
Carry Out = Take Out
Chinese = Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese or all of the above

IMG_0493 (872x815)5)  I finally got a shot of the elusive pheasant!

6)  April 4th marked the one-year anniversary of our move. I went for a run that day and thought about everything that’s happened since we arrived. New house, new remodel, new school, new routines, new weather, new friends. I miss San Francisco more than I can express, but I’m also happy here. I haven’t thought too much more about it, but I will reflect on it more and when I do, I will report back.

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7)  I’m not allergic to shellfish! Best news ever! Unfortunately, we have no idea what brought on my hives last month, but at least we can rule out shellfish. The allergist wanted me to come back for another appointment as a precautionary measure. He said I would need to set aside 2-3 hours, bring a piece of shrimp with me to the office, eat it and wait. He referred to this as an “open food challenge.”

Me: Can’t I just stand in front of a hospital and eat some shrimp? That would be a lot faster, and more convenient.
Allergist: Oh no, don’t do that. The next thing you know, the papers will say “a patient of Dr. R’s dropped dead in front of such and such..”
Me: Don’t worry, I won’t sue you or anything.
Allergist (concerned): Just make the appointment, okay?
Me: Okay.

I walked out of the office without making an appointment. Two days later, I ate an a-load of shrimp at a party. I’m good.

IMG_0344 (1024x1024)8)  April showers bring May flowers. That’s great and all, but the cold! Enough already. April was full of cold, cloudy days and even some snow. We did get a couple days of sun and warm, giving us a sneak peak of what’s to come. I can’t wait.

IMG_0482 (768x1024)9)  Speaking of flowers, I walked outside one afternoon to a beautiful surprise. A blossoming tree in our backyard. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but the flowers are fluffy and big, similar to magnolia blossoms. So pretty!

IMG_0450 (892x1024)10)  Something you would never see in San Francisco – dry cleaning hanging on a door. One, because I can’t think of any dry cleaner there that delivers and two, because it would be gone in two seconds. Especially if you live near Golden Gate Park like we did.

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Photo from: GPFoundation on Instagram

11)  The Grosse Pointe library system lends out gardening tools. How cool is that? They also have a seed library, where you can search a physical card catalog (containing seed packets instead of cards) and “borrow” seeds to plant.  Residents are also encouraged to save and donate their seeds to the collection. I plan to use both.

IMG_0391 (1024x1024)12)  I have one more month before school is out, which means I can say goodbye to daytime “me” time. I hope to get a sitter a couple times a week so I can work (oh yes, I do have a day job doing payroll for my husband’s company), but also so I can have some down time. Summer will be fun, I know that, but sometimes a girl (especially an INFJ girl like me) needs her space. Can I get an amen.

Enjoy May, everyone!