Time Keeps On Slippin’

The seasons are changing. The trees surrounding the house are shabby and awkward looking as they lose their leaves in patches, like molting birds. The temperature has dropped, meaning the struggle to appropriately dress the oldest boy has begun. (“I can’t wear gloves! If I wear gloves I’ll look like the dumbest kid in the school!” “How smart can the rest of them really be if their hands are freezing off?”)


I guess this is a good time to take down my Halloween decorations. I mean, it’s not that late.

I’m not too fond of the east coast in the late fall. The trees that are so charmingly green all the rest of the year lose their jungle-like quality, and everything becomes rather bleak. Not even snow can make their skeletal frames look charming; I maintain that the evergreen- the state tree, animal, gem, and governor of Idaho- is really the only tree that can wear winter well.

But a few days ago, I woke to the sounds of three to six boys careening through the house, and when I looked outside, there was snow.


Three whole teaspoons of it!

This, combined with the anticipation of returning to Idaho for Christmas and the fact that nearby stores have been selling Christmas decorations since Easter, was the push I needed to do a little premature decorating of my own.


In the form of one two foot artificial tree and two dollar store decorations.

I don’t really like artificial trees. There’s just something so artificial about them, let me tell you. But I grant that it’s better than just chopping down a living tree every year, and at any rate the middle-south east coast needs all the pines it can get, so a fake tree it is.


Like a large Christmas pinecone.

Mercifully, artificial trees come with their own built-in stands that require no face-fulls of needles and direction from two other people to adjust, and it even came with lights already on it, which is good because all I had handy were purple Halloween lights.


I set it up in the corner of my tea shrine, because it was the only free area within two feet of an extension cord. I’ll bet the Feng Shui in my room is really off.

Next came the dollar store baubles.


Oh. Oh, I have to individually thread all of these? Let me put on the Grinch music real quick.

Besides a few assorted golden orbs I had no tree topper and nothing else of interest, save the lone unique ornament I purchased from the Disney World trip: Mary Poppins. She seemed a little fitting to have near the top of my tree, at least.


Ah, the symbol of nannydom.


All the charm of a department store Christmas tree.

The result, while bland, was not completely hideous, and I’m sure it will get better as more ornaments are acquired. It’s comforting to know that I’ll be 2,600 miles away from here on Christmas so I won’t have to stare at it.


But, uh, I guess I’ll leave these gourds up until after Thanksgiving, at least.

A Somewhat Restrained Halloween

The problem with being a live-in nanny is that you live with your employers and you take care of their very impressionable young children, so being a weirdo is frowned upon.

My employers already think I’m strange enough to begin with because of innocuous things such as when I left the house dressed as Colonel Mustard (complete with large bushy mustache and khaki short-shorts), so I’ve been keeping my weird side on the down-low for a while. And it’s a pity, because Halloween is approaching.

“I don’t really need to decorate for Halloween,” I thought to myself. “Halloween’s not that big a deal, and I’m an adult, more or less.”

And then I had an hour to kill yesterday, and I popped into the nearest Spirit Halloween store.


There’s something so magical about Spirit Halloween stores. They appear suddenly, with little warning. They feature seizure-inducing light sequences, never-ending mechanical screams, ridiculously over-priced, low quality products, and they smell like plastic and the death of employee sanity.

I love them to bits, presumably because I’ve never worked there.


Where else can I buy my knee highs featuring brains?

Walking around a Spirit Halloween store has the same effect on me as walking down a quiet, snowy road lit with Christmas lights. The spirit of Halloween was upon me. Who cared if everything there was hugely obnoxious?! Halloween!!

img_20161010_132822701One of these days I will find reason to wear a fabulous witch hat 100% of the time.

¬†Giddy, I left the store and crossed the street to Michael’s, where you can get slightly classier Halloween items for the same expensive price.

img_20161010_134714625And a larger variety of bones.

I purchased some necessities. Some black candles. Some decorative jars. A skeletal cat. And then I went home, pulled out the black paper, and created some silhouette art.


Items needed: Black paper, pencil, scissors, tape, overly-milky tea.


img_20161011_145024883There’s no way this is going to backfire on me in the middle of the night.

img_20161011_135704312Replacing my cute flower fairy lights with cute little ravens in cages… lights.


Wait for it… wait for it…

img_20161011_140836512Bam! Slightly more Gothic!

I tried my best to make the changes to my room subtle. I like the tasteful Halloweens better anyway; some elegantly witchy things over, you know, dead babies and what have you. And though my employers rarely if ever stray into my room, I didn’t need my charges spitting out a darling “Mommy, Miss Jean has a fully functional guillotine in her room, come see!”

img_20161011_143531751I did, however, put some cashews in my “raven claws” bottle, for when said charges do slip into my room in search of a treat.

I’m hanging the spider webs on my bookcase now, and I feel a little better. One of these I’ll have my own place that I can destroy all on my own, but for the present, I can merely torture myself by trying to take down the spider webs again in 21 days.


It’s like Apples and Apples

Yet another big difference between my life in Idaho and my life on the east coast is that my friends here seem to be considerably busier than my friends were on the west side of the country.

A busy east coast friend of mine made the observation that people over here are always trying to move forwards, to obtain the next goal in life. They’re ambitious, often career-focused, always on the go.

By contrast, people from Idaho are sloths in trucker hats.

This is generalizing, of course. But the stereotyping holds true in my case: I’m not ambitious. I’m perfectly happy where I am. I’m building a little nest and I’m just working on making it more comfortable, not bigger.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that I have a lot of very busy friends, and even though my job can have pretty insane hours (do YOU like waking up at 5:30 and enjoy the mystery of ending your day anywhere between 6:00 and 9:30? Then live-in nannying is for you!), I’m so horribly relaxed on the off hours that feel guilty that I’m missing out on the stress of my friends.

The answer, of course, is care packages. After all, nothing cheers a person up more than receiving an assortment of random items from their overly relaxed Idahoan friend.

So while the kids were at school today, I ran a few errands, and then hopped on my new bicycle and rode the 1.5 miles to the nearest orchard, for the purchasing of goods and picking of fruits.


Pictured here: Trees.

Besides my exercise-protesting knees, I did run into some trouble from the start: Typically, when I visit an apple orchard, I’m with one or two much taller friends to help with the picking. Going in I thought I might be able to climb trees, as I have some practice in it and I’m small enough not to immediately come crashing down again, but alas…


Curses! Foiled again!

With that option out, I picked up my metaphorical skirts and hiked down to the very end of the rows, where the lazier people (such as myself) generally did not venture.


Give it up, Jean. It’s not going to happen.

I did come out of it with around half a dozen apples, several cute miniature pumpkins, and a bag of cider donuts, however. I was quite pleased with the haul before I realized that when I put it all in my backpack, it would weigh as much as half a dozen apples, several cute miniature pumpkins, and a bag of cider donuts. If only I had been lazier and ventured out by car instead. That’s that east coast ambition getting to me.

Overall, however, I think it was worth it for the little packages I got to put together, one for a busy friend nearby, and one for a busy friend in Massachusetts. Got to share the comfort a little.


Care package by mail: Card, medieval pouch with tea, assorted chocolates with a French name that makes them sound fancier than they really are.


Hand-delivered care package: Assorted apples, one miniature pumpkin, bag of cider donuts, and a dish towel because he’s a heathen who only uses bar rags in his kitchen and bar rags are about as absorbent as the palm of your hand.