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Why I Think Gardening Sucks

20 Mar

why i think gardening sucks grumpy catHappy first day of spring! It’s that time of year when flowers start to bloom and the California hillsides go from dried up yellow and brown to green. Well, that is if enough rain comes through. Anyway! I recently planted some calla lily bulbs in our front yard and it all just reminded me of how much I think gardening sucks. Although I do enjoy seeing colorful flowers and beautiful landscaping, I don’t have an intention of being the person to work on that project. That’s why we hired a gardener to come once a week and take care of it for us.

There is a very good reason for my disdain towards gardening. Remember when I wrote about growing up with parents afflicted by addiction disorder? When people are hooked on drugs they don’t think clearly. They latch onto certain concepts and become obsessive. That’s what happened to my ex-step-dad. He became obsessed with making me and my younger sister do yard work every weekend, winter break, spring break, summer break, and any other day off from school. We were 100% latch-key kids in those days and were given a list of tasks that needed to be completed.

Yard work I did included:

-Pull every single weed or green thing out of the rose bed. Roses and dirt only. One single bit of anything else was grounds for punishment.

-Trim the lawn around the brick with clippers or scissors.

-Weed out a 1 foot path around the perimeter of the front lawn. Dirt only, not a single scrap of lawn or weeds permitted. Use scissors or clippers to trim the edge.

-Pull each and every weed out from the cracks of the driveway using an old screwdriver. Sweep up any dust, dirt, leaves or debris caused by pulling weeds.

-Weed out every single bit of green from the trees. A 3-4 foot circle of dirt is only permitted around the trees.

-Dig a hole in the side backyard. Grind the dirt to a fine dust using a shovel. Put the refined dirt into a wheelbarrow. Use said dirt to cover gopher holes in the main backyard.

-Pull every single piece of grass or weeds from the patch of dirt under the apricot tree. Even pull the weeds from beneath the bushes that line the back fencing.

-Pull every single piece of grass or weeds from under the lemon/peach/avocado tree area and rake all the leaves. Only dirt and trees permitted.

-Use a wrench to remove welded on galvanized nuts and bolts from fencing.

-Dig a hole under the apricot tree at night with your sister to bury your beloved childhood dog. When an possum gets close and causes you to flee and seek your mom for comfort–suck it up and go back, keep digging your dog’s grave.

All this work was assigned at different times. If something was completed quickly, he would come out and inspect. He would use his jagged finger to point things out that I missed. “What’s this? What’s that weed over there? What about these leaves? You’re not done!”

Don’t come inside the house. Don’t get a drink of water. Work until it’s done. If you keep saying you are done and he keeps finding 1 leaf, 1 piece of untrimmed grass you are doing it on purpose to be a bad disobedient child. You are the only reason they ever fight.

Yard work was not assigned to make the house look nice. It was to keep us away. I quickly learned to not be fast and efficient. I hid books and small dolls in my bucket to help pass the time. Made up songs and poems to myself. Pull some weeds, read a chapter. Pull some more. Read another chapter. Keep your ears alert for footsteps. Don’t take up too much time but also don’t be quick. Make it believable.

His goal was to keep us outside as long as possible. I cut up my arms reaching around rose bushes to grab the tiniest little green thing. My fingers were banged up and I always had callouses on my hands from digging. I was afraid people would think I was self-harming because of all the cuts and scratches the rose thorns gave me. I was also not allowed to work with my sister. We were always in separate yards working away in the heat, in solitude. When I read the book Holes, I could relate to the story in a way.

So… That’s why I think gardening sucks. I will never be one to happily be digging away in the rose beds or tending to my tomatoes. I will never go pick berries for fun at a farm. My calla lilies however are starting to sprout. So that’s cool.

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Maybe Santa IS Real

10 Dec

Did you ever go through a time in your life where you truly believed that Santa Claus existed? I remember always questioning Santa’s existence. Sure, maybe when I was a tiny tot I believed. I just know when I got to be around 5 or 6 I always played along but at the same time questioned the whole concept. There was one Christmas however, that really truly made me believe.

My mom worked full time and tried her very best to give us a wonderful Christmas every year. I remember those early years living in Oxnard and we never had a disappointing Christmas. I always felt love, happiness, joy and the presence of family. There were always a few Barbie dolls to unwrap and a few new articles of clothing. It was always understood that any toys received were not really mine but “ours” to share. So in reality if I got two or three new Barbie dolls and my sisters also got two or three that added up and we had a whole bunch of new Barbies to play with together!

This one Christmas in particular was extra special. We went over to my Tia Mary’s house, as usual, for some Christmas Eve festivities. The night wound down and it was time to return home and sleep until Santa left us toys to unwrap on Christmas morning. Except this time it was different. This time we must have stayed up super late at Tia Mary’s house. When we stepped through our front door and saw that our Christmas tree looked drastically different–I just KNEW Santa came to our house!

How could this possibly be? There they were, brand new shiny BIKES sitting under the tree waiting for us! In my mind there was no possible way my mom could have done this. First off, I knew we didn’t have much money for such things. My mom worked hard, had three kids to solely support. I even understood then that we lived under a tight budget. Plus not only that, she was there at Tia Mary’s house the WHOLE TIME. Everyone we knew and loved was also at her house.

How did these bikes get under the tree? It. Was. Santa. He was real. For at least one Christmas, I didn’t question or doubt. However I did analyze it a bit!

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Typewriters to Computers

3 Dec

Over the weekend I went into my attic storage space to dig out my box of Christmas decorations. While in the attic I moved some of my in-laws things to one side to better organize the space. I came across a sturdy black plastic case.

I assumed it held tools or something like that. Kyle also noticed the case and said, “Hey what’s in there? Open it up!” and I mumbled “It’s probably tools…”

I snapped open the heavy case and inside lay an electric typewriter. My face lit up and I began tapping the keys and said “All work and no play makes Monique a dull girl!” Ever since watching The Shining this October for the first time I’ve seen references to the movie all over the place–so I just had to do that!

I closed the case and continued on with my re-organization efforts. Now thinking back, I have memories associated with typewriters.

I remember my mom clacking away on her electric typewriter trying to teach herself how to type as she transitioned from being a Veterinary Assistant to a clerical professional.  Eventually, I started to use that typewriter to type up my reports and essays for school. We didn’t have a computer for many years so I always just typed things up on the typewriter.

My process included walking to the library and using the Dewey Decimal System to find reference books. Then I’d jot down notes and make photo copies of pages I found useful. Sometimes I’d use the computer for research but didn’t really harness the power of the internet until high school. Then I’d hand write my report. I would make edits on the paper by moving paragraphs around with arrows and adding new sentences in the margins. Once satisfied I’d sit down in front of the typewriter to type it out.

I wonder if kids now even use books for research. I wonder if their teachers require them to hand write a rough draft or do they head straight to the computer? I remember when I got to high school a teacher specifically saying she did not want papers produced by typewriter, they had to be Word Processed. The days of using the typewriter were over for me!

We did eventually get a computer and dial-up internet. That lasted a little while but eventually the computer died. We were without a computer for a few more years until we got a family lap top. By that point I was in community college and didn’t use the lap top very often. I managed to go without my own computer for so many years–I didn’t buy one of my own until about three years ago! I always utilized the library or computer labs at school. It just shows that you don’t need to personally own top of the line electronic devices to succeed in school. Just know where the resources are available and manage your time well.

When did you get your first computer? Have you ever used a typewriter? Do you prefer handwriting or typing?

I personally now prefer typing but like to outline ideas on paper first!

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Stuffing

27 Nov

Well looks like I again didn’t do so well with following a blog challenge. I did start NaBloPoMo late but I also skipped posting on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Honestly, I feel like the prompts are not very creative or inspiring. Some of the prompts seem to be similar to the ones provided when I did the blog challenge earlier this year.

I still want to be consistent with blogging and keep this place alive. I love writing and it’s the best way I know how to express myself. Plus, I’m not going to lie, it keeps me relevant to the social media profession by maintaining my own (outside of work) WordPress blog and keeping the related Facebook page and Twitter feed updated.

Anyway, since Thanksgiving is TOMORROW I want to talk about that! Right now my sister is preparing the turkey. She places it in wet brine a whole day before Thanksgiving to get it ready for roasting. Growing up, my mom would get our turkey “drunk” — her way of preparing the turkey was to put it in a beer marinade. We’ve done away with that but there is one food related tradition we kept, her yummy beef stuffing.

I’m fairly certain most families do not stuff their turkey with beef. As a kid I gobbled it down without a second thought, never knowing other families enjoyed bread-based stuffing (or some call it dressing). I was always aware of the boxed kind of stuffing, but didn’t realize there existed a freshly made type. It wasn’t until we started having Thanksgiving with my ex-step-dad’s family that I experienced other stuffing.

Someecards Thanksgiving Funny ecard

His mother is an excellent cook and her Thanksgiving meals were always amazing. I clearly remember the table was always missing one thing…beef stuffing. There were a few years that my mom made a batch and brought it over. But it wasn’t quite the same as when it bakes inside the turkey, juices flowing, meaty flavors mixing.

Now we always have her stuffing. It’s a requirement! This is a recipe my grandmother passed down and my mom makes it exactly the same way, unchanged over the years. This is at least what she says, and I’ll believe it! The recipe consists of ground beef, crumbled saltine crackers, peas, carrots, celery and other ingredients. I won’t list all of the ingredients here or her process — there needs to be some mystery behind the ground beef stuffing.

Does your family have any food traditions or traditions in general for Thanksgiving?

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Confident Girl

21 Nov

The prompt for today is: “Describe an outfit that makes you feel good. (It can be from any period of your life.) Double points if you post a picture of yourself in the outfit.”

In high school I really wanted to be on the short flags team. I tried out to be on the team freshman year and didn’t make so I tried out again the following year and made the team. It’s just the kind of person I am–I never give up on my goals! Even though I felt awkward and ugly during those years I always felt my best on game day Fridays when I wore my uniform.

That uniform meant so much to me. I really earned it, like honestly truly earned the money for it myself. Not only did I not make the team the first time I tried out but when I finally did make the team I then had to figure out how to pay for the very expensive equipment needed to be on the team. Making the team was just the first hurdle.

I needed to buy a uniform that included a skirt, top, long sleeve under shirt, bloomers and special Nike shoes. I also needed a warm up suit consisting of custom pants and jacket. On top of that I needed to buy the duffel bag, also with custom embroidery, to store all my things in. We can’t forget the flags. I needed to purchases two flag poles from a specific vendor along with two sets of flags–one for practice and one for performance.

Then there were the extras like summer camp, matching customized team outfits to wear at camp, hair bows, foam curlers, blue eyeshadow and competition fees. Then once I was on the team for a year I earned a varsity letter. So of course I needed to get the Letterman jacket. I shouldn’t forget to mention the design of our uniform AND performance flags changed each year I was on the team.

Monique Gonzalez Abrahamsen ACHS Short Flags

My first year on the team my mom and biological father helped me but we struggled a lot financially and my mom couldn’t pay everything on time. My uniform was taken away from me until we could pay it off. My coach loaned me the money for my warm ups and I eventually paid her back. We did have some fundraisers to help defray some of the costs but still, a huge chunk of the financial responsibility fell on me.

I took a summer job at McDonald’s when I was 14 then quit when school started. I then worked at Taco Bell the following year and finally at the Gap Outlet. I did this to earn the money needed to stay on the team.

You can bet after all that hard work I felt proud and confident while donning that uniform. When I wore it I felt so good about myself. No one could judge my clothes–only a select few girls wore the same uniform as me. We were part of something special. I practiced with the team and made time to practice in my backyard almost everyday to ensure I would perform the routines perfectly with the rest of the team.

That uniform even FELT good! The material was flexible, made for twisting, turning and sweating. Putting on the uniform was like putting on a costume. I was incredibly shy but when I had my uniform on and we stepped out onto the performance stage (whether it be football field, basketball court or competition stage) I suddenly turned into this happy, smiling, bouncing, talented, and CONFIDENT girl. It was the only time I didn’t mind crowds of people looking at me.

Go ahead! Look!  I earned this! I worked hard, practiced hard and I feel great!

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