I once worked a temp job for a small organization where I handled the copyediting for their newsletter, and I quickly learned that my boss’ biggest pet peeve was the correct (or, I guess more to the point, often incorrect) usage of “less” vs. “fewer.” I already had a college degree and was dismayed to discover no one had ever explained the difference to me, but explain she did, and I have never forgotten. You use “less” if it’s not a thing you would quantify by number. You use “fewer” if the item in question is something you can (or, more importantly, logically would) count. At some point in her teenagerhood, I explained this differentiation to Chickadee (no doubt after she used the wrong word in a paper), sure she—like me, so many years prior—would experience it as a lightbulb moment and never get it wrong again.
She listened and nodded and thought about it for a moment. A sly smile twitched up the corners of her mouth, and she looked me in the eye and said, “Fewer sand.” Her argument was that you COULD, theoretically, count grains of sand. But of course you do not. Should not. (Would not, Crazypants.) Still, to this day, if she feels an urge to yank my chain, a cheerful trilling of “FEWER SAAAAAND!” can be heard.
So. Perhaps you can count bullshit, somehow, but that would be crazy. Less bullshit it is. This is my mantra for now: More rainbows and less bullshit. I am doing my best to make this a reality these days.
Accordingly, here are a few recent rainbows in my life:
21 and even more awesome
My eldest is now old enough to legally drink, which seems like it should be a smaller milestone than old enough to vote (especially considering she doesn’t really drink?) but I have to tell you, that whole stupid “the days are long but the years are short” thing is ANNOYINGLY ACCURATE. I have a 21-year-old and it’s just plain weird, but it is also awesome. I spent an afternoon and part of the evening with her on the day after her actual birthday, delivered a few small gifts and a large container of alcoholic cookies for her to serve at her no-Mom-you-are-not-invited birthday party, and even labeled it with a note for her enjoyment which she apparently left on display because it amused her. Let me find it. Ah, here we go.
I also met quite a few new friends of hers and gave unapologetic mom hugs to the ones I already knew, and managed to end up about waist-deep in someone’s business about 10 minutes after we’d met, which caused me to pause and say, “Look, I’m sorry, I know we just met and I’m all up in your business,” to which the lovely young adult in question replied, “Oh, you’re fine. Some people just have really strong mom energy. I understand.”
It was surprising to me, how tickled I was by that. “Some people just have really strong mom energy.” I should embroider that on a pillow. My kids are both adults and we all still like each other and Chickie called me the next day and said, “Everyone thought you were so great!” and I was delighted not because they thought I was great (which, okay, that’s nice, sure) but because SHE was happy they liked me. I didn’t know this was a hallmark of Got Something Right After All, but I think it might be. Me and my strong mom energy will just be over here diluting my constant anxiety with a tincture of “my adult child was excited to introduce me to her friends.”
Last week I played hooky one morning and went to our local u-pick strawberry farm and picked two gallon buckets of strawberries in about… twenty minutes. And not just strawberries, mind you, but, like, monster mutant strawberries. Some filled the entire palm of my hand. They were huge and the farm was busy but not crowded, and I picked my way along a row while toddlers shrieked with glee at every find and parents called back and forth to each other and said toddlers. I was in no particular rush because it was warm and windy and sometimes you have to sample a berry (or two or twelve) while you pick.
After I paid for my berries and sat in my car eating a cup of homemade ice cream (look, I’m sorry, but it’s pretty much the law that after you pick, you buy a cup of ice cream), I came back home and spent hours doing Strawberry Things. I washed. I sliced. I prepared a container of sugared strawberries for shortcake and then I baked shortcake and for good measure I made a gluten-free pound cake. I put whole strawberries in a produce keeper and I sliced up others and roasted them with balsamic for ice cream and then I made the custard for the ice cream and pureed the roasted strawberries and put everything in the fridge so that I could make the ice cream the next morning. I ate strawberries and I shared strawberries with the dogs (unanimous verdict: hmmm… thems are only sort of cronch… am skeptical… wait… please more?) and the kitchen looked like a crime scene when I was done and it made me ridiculously happy.
The next day we had friends over for dinner and the ice cream was ready and I whipped fresh cream and they acted like I’d made a seven-course gourmet meal and I wanted to say IT’S NOT ME, IT’S THE STRAWBERRIES, THEY MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVING but instead I just ate more strawberries.
Our hummingbird feeder hangs about 10 feet outside my office window, and I finally remembered to take it down and clean it and make fresh nectar and hang it back up. Then, because I am me, I proceeded to fret for two straight days because THERE ARE NO HUMMINGBIRDS and WHAT IF ALL THE HUMMINGBIRDS HAVE DIED (it’s fun inside my head!) and then the hummingbird communication system finally relayed to the flock that the bar was open for business and now I have regular visitors all day long, again. Hummingbirds are proof that we are not meant to understand everything and that’s okay.
It is around this time of the year that Otto begins spending large swaths of time outside, doing things which I find incomprehensible for HOURS on end, like mowing the lawn and using the weed-whip and the pressure washer and also muttering about “aerating the lawn” and “refinishing the deck” and such. His flurry of outdoor maintenance tends to begin while the pollen is still thick, and because I am a delicate allergic flower I can generally get away with staying inside for quite a while. But. The pollen is finally waning and one day he grabbed the rocking chairs from our front porch (it is a law in the south that you must have at least two rockers on your front porch, even if—as is the case for us—your front porch is tiny and you never use them because your BACK porch is larger, shadier, and has more comfortable furniture) and I found him out back, wire brush in hand, covered in paint shards.
Every couple of years my darling husband likes to take these chairs WHICH WE NEVER USE and strip them down because they’re in terrible shape and then repaint them again with equally terrible paint so that they’ll end up grungy and in need of another round of refinishing in about a year. It takes forever, and did I mention how WE NEVER USE THESE CHAIRS, I feel like I may have forgotten to mention that, and it causes him a fair measure of Righteous Homeowner Indignation every time. Also, he hates to paint. I don’t know why he does this to himself.
But. I actually LOVE to paint. Also, I have been undergoing a slow but steady transformation during my time here in the south, where I have swung from “I’m a northerner and I don’t care what I’m supposed to act like here” to “I’m going to try to blend in and tone down my essential yankee-ness” and now, I’m definitely on an upward “hello, the world is on fire and silence is complicity” trajectory. So even though our neighborhood still skews conservative, we went ahead and ordered not one, but two (in case the first one was stolen) Hate Has No Home Here yard signs and I planted that puppy RIGHT UP BY THE ROAD a while back. I don’t know how long it’s been, now, but it’s still there, and I see people stop and look at it now that Walking Season is upon us and some seem pleased and some seem perplexed and to my mind this is All Good.
Back to the chairs: Otto hates to paint. And he does it over and over, and the chairs are meh and not being used and I love to paint and also no one has stolen my yard sign so GIDDY-UP Y’ALL. I went to the craft store. I bought an entire rainbow of paint. I bought shellac. Otto is right that painting these chairs is at least two-and-a-half pains in the ass but I am slooooooowly transforming them and when I am done we will have rainbow rockers on our front porch and I will no longer care if we never use them because they will be ART and also they will be SEALED so will not need refinishing over and over. If I ever finish them I will share pictures. Right now I am still working on a solid base coat free of pollen and bugs, which turns out to be a lot more complicated than I realized because these chairs are made of slats and corners and angles and my last round of making a mess with paint happened while we still had a suitable painting space in our garage, which we no longer do, because much as nature abhors a vacuum, Otto abhors any car-sized space which is not occupied by a car. So I am painting outside, and nature is disgusting. Oh well.
Is there still bullshit? Of course. So much. I managed to contract another staph infection on my face because DELICATE FLOWER and this time instead of oral antibiotics, I did a topical antibiotic and a round of steroids, which I am still on, which means I am ANGRY and HUNGRY and NOT SLEEPING. But on the flip side, the whole strawberrypalooza and painting project thing makes a lot more sense, right? Because HELLO I AM AWAKE AND MUST DO ALL THE THINGS, so even this particular bullshit has an upside.
Also, there are an alarming number of people on the Internet who believe they are selling clothing items “with sequence.” I mean, I think sequins and sequences are different things and while on Prednisone this error makes me irrationally angry, but I suppose it’s okay. More rainbows! And sequins! And even sequences, if you want. You do you.