It’s been two weeks since I last posted.  A very long two weeks.  Normally I would feel guilty, or lazy, or any other range of negative feeling towards my lack of posting.

But I don’t.

See, while I’ve been gone, I’ve been living life.  I’ve been working hard, and celebrating, and enjoying the things I do.  I went through midterms, interviews, early mornings followed by late nights, movies, Halloween (yes, I celebrated Halloween  this year-that does not make me a heathen, just a fan of dressing up and begging for candy).  I’ve been making things, and getting ready to plant things, and learning.  It’s been a crazy, busy, fun two weeks, and I am happy I experienced them.

That did mean a break from writing.  But I’m glad I took it.  I sat down several times over the past two weeks to write, and I found that if I had posted something the post would be more out of obligation than enjoyment, which is why I started this space in the first place.

So, that may mean less posts for a while.  But I’m good with that, and hopefully you will be too.

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This weekend Nason and I did something a little…crazy.  It was something that needed to be done, but we thought we would have to do it in stages.  But we took a breath, and cashed my paycheck to buy soil and gardening equipment.  And boy did we have fun!

We borrowed our friend’s truck, and went to Home Depot.  We bought so much soil that the fellows who were helping us just loaded a pallet into the truck bed.  We got the fencing we wanted, and the tools we needed, and even had some money left over.  As we left Home Depot, we realized that we had actually done it, and all that is left to do is buy the equipment for a drip system.  So this will be a week spent outdoors, digging trenches and filling them with soil, and starting to grow seeds, and reinforcing our garden fence.  I’m pretty excited, and glad that we did something a little crazy this weekend.

today, as I was driving home from work, I decided to check the mail.  However, that proved to be problematic.  You see, when I pulled up to my mailbox, I was shocked to discover that it was missing.

Well that’s odd, I thought, as I quickly scanned the rest of the row to be sure that, yes, it was my mailbox that was gone, instead of some poor soul farther down the road.  But, it was indeed missing.  Upon further investigation, I found it.

In a cholla cactus.

Several yelps of pain and cactus spines in my leg later, I retrieved our mailbox, and I attempted to put it back on the pole.  Of course, it didn’t fit back on-the entire bottom was twisted up so when it finally did go back on the pole, it slumped to the side.  It was pathetic looking, really, and I knew that if I left it there it would simply fall off again and disappear-maybe even for good.  I didn’t know what to do.

So I took it home.

...I don't even know what to say.

Many questions are left unanswered.  Was it vandalism, or was it an act of God?  Why was ours the only missing mailbox?  Why our mailbox?  Where is our mail?  Did we even get mail today?  I fear that this mystery will never be solved, so the only question I should be concerning myself with is what are we going to do with the old mailbox?

I say we put it to a vote.  Should we blow it up?  Throw it away?  Keep it in our home?  What do you think we should do with it?

Today, I got to do something I have been looking forward to all year: I got to make prickly pear jelly! 

First, I had an off road adventure in the Jeep to go and find some of the delicious fruits.  Harvesting prickly pear actually isn’t that bad; even though it’s on a cactus, it’s all a matter of watching where you step (to avoid spines in your boots and pants) and wearing gloves.  I got away with minimal damage and a lot of fruit-actually, I got too much, but I plan on making a syrup this next week to put into waffles and *adult* drinks.  And it was nice because I got to drive the Jeep!  Usually when we go off roading Nason drives, so I took advantage of my time in the desert today and took longer than was necessary, so I could put my own mud on the tires. 

When I got home I texted my mother-in-law a photo of the fruits in the bucket, and she came over shortly afterwards with the girls.  We sliced up enough prickly pear to make a double batch of the recipe I found, and then cooked it up.  We took advantage of the time to catch up and talk, and chase after the girls (they kept themselves entertained with Hide and go Seek, the bamboo in our backyard, and the Nerf guns we keep in the living room).  

We had a couple of mishaps, mostly when the mixture on the stove boiled over, covering my stove top in a 

Oops!

 

sticky mess, but we laughed it off and kept going.  And now there is quite a bit of prickly pear jelly cooling in my fridge!  I can not wait to try it out and see how it ended up this year-based on the juice that Nancy and I both tried, it’s going to be so good!  Thank you to Nancy for coming over and helping me today, the help and company was really nice! 

PS: If you want the recipe I used, I found it here.  Although they say to burn the spines off, I actually found it easier to cut the tips off of the fruit and skin them since I do not have a gas stove.  But, to each his own.  Use whatever method works for you. 

The finished product! (One container missing)

One of the things that is a struggle for me is optimism.  While I often try to look on the bright side of situations and ‘know’ everything is going to work out, it is not a thing that comes naturally.  More often than not I want to be left alone to stew in my own mess of frustration, fear and stress.

But I know that is neither healthy nor productive.  So I try to be optimistic.  Like today. 

I woke up cranky and tired, after working late last night, and came in early this morning.  I got to work, only to be greeted by what I have decided was puke in front of the store that needed to be mopped up.  I worked my shift, clocked out, and checked next week’s schedule, and noticed that I had been scheduled at the worst possible time on a day I had marked off my summer schedule. 

I almost let it all get to me. 

But then, somewhere between the puke and the schedule, I found joy.  I had to get out of the stew and realize that there’s more to today than puke and sleepiness.  There was that sweet woman who bagged her own groceries.  There was Zachary, one of my favorite little kids, who came in today with his mom.  There was the fact that last night I rocked at doing something I had never done before.  As always, I got to come in to work today and work with great people.  And I’m looking forward to practice tonight-with a smaller group we’re going to have a really good time.  I have a husband who I’m bananas about, and a family and friends.  And above all, my value isn’t based on what days I work, or how much sleep I got the night before.  My value comes from God, who calls me His daughter.

These are the things I remind myself of when I can feel my smile slipping.  I’ve been blessed in so many ways, and I’m not going to waste the time I’ve been given on negativity.  So I try to be an optimist.  It’s a daily struggle, but would it mean as much if I didn’t have to make an effort?

Challenge: Write out your blessings.  Take a serious look at them.  Memorize them.  Thank God for them.  And remember them the next time you’re in the stew.

Working a cash register can be tough sometimes, but then there are those customers who make it better.  I didn’t catch her name, but she was one of them-we’ll call her…Lois.  Lois came through my line today with her groceries, and after the usual small talk she had a request that I had never heard before.

“When I was in Oregon, I bought a reusable bag, but wasn’t charged for it.  Can I pay for it here?”

Honestly, I was taken aback.  Most people would have just accepted the bag as a stroke of luck, not thinking twice about it.  But Lois didn’t.  She recognized the mistake and sought to fix it.  Although I could not charge her for it (different store, state and region), I thought that Lois’ integrity was something to be respected and admired.  I wish everyone was like that, but then again, if everyone was, it wouldn’t make the occasions like today so special.

So thank you, woman known in this post as Lois.  You made my day.