Privilege Blog

What Do You Do When You Are Cranky? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am

I am oddly cranky.

I suspect this is due a host of things out of my control. I prefer to solve external problems for fixes but this time I’ll have to work on my attitude. My mood? Whatever. Cranky people haven’t got enough patience to find the right words.

Totally going to have to take a long walk. Probably see about not cooking, eating out instead. Hope to confirm that I’m making progress on my long form writing project.

But I can also dream about trees. Yup, trees.

I often use my potential garden as a mood enhancer. The actual one too, of course, but right now I’m daunted by weeds. Hoeing is hard work, say the cranky. In other words, staying in the moment is great but sometimes the moment is too dang crowded and you gotta get out.

I want to plant three new trees, and I’d love for them all to be native Californians. Maybe a red alder for the back yard, to replace, although not exactly, our fallen elm. I believe these take a fuller shape when you plant one on its own. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

Red Alder

And I’m thinking of an incense cedar for the side yard, to shade the southern side of our roof. House got HOT last summer.

Maybe a California buckeye for the front yard. Buckeyes leaf out early in spring, bloom like crazy, and then go bare. I imagine roses twining through the branches as though in a garden deserted by humans, left to revert.

Gardens are a good way to disappear the annoyances of humanity in general, if only for an hour or so.

Of course I’m not sure my tree dreams survive. The alder might kill my little lawn, the buckeye suffer from the water I need for roses. Even as I write my crankiness I’m starting to laugh at it.

What do you do to get yourself back into sorts when you are out? And have a good weekend. I’m not in such a bad way I’d forget that.


39 Responses

  1. Long walks are good for the cranky! I can attest.
    Buckeyes like wet places best. You often find them growing right by creeks when you’re out hiking. The buckeye tree in front of our kitchen window is always a show–when it’s bare, you see all the squirrels and birds stopping for a rest. When it blooms, you see bees and hummingbirds galore. When it’s leafy, the light through the branches is lovely. When it drops the buckeyes, you see all the deer coming to feast.
    They are a bit messy. Dropping blossoms and buckeyes and leaves…but I love them anyway.

  2. Walks are good, but if im too cranky to drag myself out, imaginary gardens are always wonderful. Imsginef beauty is a balm that does not require a hoe, but grants me enough oeace that walking, and eventually hoeing once agsin become possible

  3. When I’m cranky, usually for no good reason other than something self-inflicted, I find that exercise helps. Except when someone suggests exercise, whereupon I perversely refuse, and wallow for a bit, then when no one is looking take the advice. Ha. I am at those times laughably just like my thirteen year old self. I can see where contemplating trees might be helpful. But not gardening….never gardening…shudder.

  4. Dear Sky, I can understand about the hoeing. It is one of the least satisfying garden chores because all you get is more dirt and stuff to haul to the green waste bin. You once mentioned that you live in a “Mixed” economic area. Perhaps you can find a few 13 to 14 year olds who would like a little extra cash. They are usually strong enough to do yard work and too young to get jobs elsewhere.

    As far as trees, personally I prefer to use at least 3 of the same species or things are too much of a mish-mash. One of my favorite native trees is the California White Alder. They are very fast growing and give you shade in the summer and sun in the winter. The branches holding the dried seed pods are very architectural. I think that would appeal to you. They make great fillers in fall and winter arrangements.

    From an ecological standpoint, Alders are a wonderful tree. The fix nitrogen in the soil which improves it for other plants. Their leaves and catkins provide food for butterflies and moths.

    My favorite… you can dry the branches you prune, et voila, you have alder wood to smoke your salmon!

    Now go forth and get someone else to do your hoeing!

    1. @Carol, Interesting – my neighborhood is pretty solidly middle- to upper-middle class. That said, the Bay Area itself is quite diverse, and even my upper middle class neighbors like to teach their kids the value of a dollar.

      I suspect that I will give in and have my landscapers do a spring cleaning:).

      And I love that alders fix N2 in the soil! I usually like more than one of a species, but pretty much everything else is planted in multiples, and the elm was a single so the garden kinds of needs another singular tree, I think.

  5. Cry, eat ice cream and sleep. Long walks are also good (and less fattening). I’m cranky today too. A perverted early spring fever?

    Dinner out for us as well. Enjoy!

    1. @MaryAnne, I love your approach.

      Also it turned out I was coming down with a cold. So, fattening was exactly what I needed.

      Hope you are feeling more chipper today.

  6. With the warm weather this last week I’ve gone from cranky to slightly euphoric. I’ve been pruning the wisteria and repotting a few plants. I’m late to work on the rose bushes this year. I love late winter in the Bay Area.

    Now about that buckeye–I don’t like them at all. By midsummer the hills look burnt over. We had a big old one on the hillside below the last house we lived in. It was magnificent until the leaves in July. The ones on the hills don’t get water in the summer, so I wonder how the tree would do in a yard with summer water.

    I love gardening, but other than light pruning and potting a few plants, I can’t do much anymore.

    1. @Susan W H, You don’t like buckeyes – because the leaves fall in July, is that why?

      Sorry you can’t do the more vigorous gardening any more. I hope your roses are leafing out anew already!

  7. Perhaps, you need more sleep. I always get cranky when I’m overtired, kind of like a little child. Or, when things are not going my way. I don’t like cranky me. Long walks and pruning (love pruning) sometimes help. I would love to be one of these eternally happy people but I’m not. At least, I recognize when I’m in a mood and try to change it quickly.
    I hope you get out of your funk soon.

    1. @Joanna, I think all we can do is recognize and address our native temperament.

      Turned out I was getting sick, so, that kind of made sense.

  8. I also woke up cranky today. Broke my leg last week and the novelty of time off has worn off. I sewed some scrappy quilt blocks and the colours and thinking of the recipient in Athens, Greece has lifted my mood. Or maybe imagining myself in the Greek Isles did it! Good weekend everyone.

  9. I’m having a cranky day myself, so thanks for this. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my out of sorts. Right now I’m having a brandy and coke and going to finish reading the novel I’m almost finished with. Nothing else has made a dent in my mood today and I’m not suggesting this will either, but it can’t hurt. I’m taking this attitude: tomorrow is another day and possibly I’ll feel better then. Sometimes you just have to go with what is.

  10. Music is pretty much an instant fix when I’m out of sorts. Pop, rock, folk, country, classical, even rap, I don’t care, it just makes me feel happy and more energetic.

  11. A problem with believing in the idea of privilege is realizing that it does not exclude us from having a bad day, even if there is no obvious reason for our mood change.
    To compound the problem is the guilt one feels which is like a subtle pressure that says “snap out of it”.
    I will say this sometimes twenty-four hours makes a big difference.
    I want my life and my mood to be positive but sometimes it just isn’t. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone and neither are you.


  12. I’m generally cranky at this time of year, and feel overtired. If possible, we go away to somewhere warm and tropical.

  13. I am extremely cranky due to adverse events I can not stop. We keep city maps in the door pocket of the vehicle. A few of them have been shaken to pieces by me venting my frustration. It’s oddly satisfying. I’m going to need more, I can tell.

  14. Oh I usually go for a walk when I feel out of sorts but I walk when I feel good too…getting out in Nature does help.
    Buying a bouquet of fresh flowers and perusing the garden centre usually do the trick…hopefully your mood will improve after a good nights sleep.

  15. Our small town recently lost three beautiful old cork trees. A contractor hired by CalTrans willy-nilly cut them down without a care or concern. Prized now, there are two left within City limits and I swear we talk in a whisper when their location is mentioned. They are lovely evergreen trees with the most unusual bark you will ever see.

  16. You live near the ocean – go visit it. It is very soothing to stand on the beach and look at the ocean. There are many state beaches to choose from around here. I live in silicon valley and I practice what I am telling you.

  17. Well,sincerely,first,I had to check dictionary for “cranky”
    Than ,to second Sue, I’m cranky usually for no good reason (when I have reason,I’m sad)
    What do I do? Listen to the classical music,Sing aloud out of tune (not the classical music!),imagine seaside,make plans,go out…..
    Imaginary gardens are wonderful-and I’ve learned something about native Calnifornian trees….
    I have Cedrus Libani (hardly native )at home and Cedrus deodara at the other place-beautiful trees
    Hope that you’re having nice,non-cranky Sunday

  18. I wanted to say something additional about this. All people have off days and periods of time, for no apparent reason. It’s normal..look at children. I used to feel that I should be “happy” at the time, (unless a big reason to feel sad). That’s not how humans are wired, so it’s also OK to just BE cranky feeling. Sometimes, I just crawl into bed and watch TV so I don’t inflict my mood on others. For me, the less I fight it – the faster it dissipates.

  19. Cranky too. Cleaned & purged & sorted for hours. Didn’t help as much as my walk in the woods. Gray cold & rainy and going to an event where Being On is required – and it’s a wine tasting and I don’t drink. But – gardens! You might enjoy 2 books: The California Labdscape Garden (ecology culture & design – not great for images but great in other ways) and The Living Landscape – where Doug Tallamy will try to talk you into planting sticks & letting them get established (vs 4-6 foot trees). Enjoy the distraction!

  20. I was going to enter a whole disquisition based on level of crankiness and season of crankiness, but I will spare all of you and enter my fool-proof, fail-safe, all-purpose response to crankiness: KNITTING.

    Nothing too complicated, mind you, and no drinking-while-knitting, either – even if it’s only a garter stitch scarf (a/k/a long bumpy rectangular object) of modest proportions and single color. A girl can always use another scarf – and so can all your friends and relations. And since you are actually doing something productive, both the action and the result can soothe the cranky soul.

    Otherwise, I take to my bed with a cup of tea and re-read a Barbara Pym novel!

  21. Clean your house, have a long walk, preferably by the sea., drink tea from your best pot while you sit by your favourite window and the crankies will pass.

  22. What purpose does the “cranky” serve? This weekend I had a day of crankiness and later realized that I was actually worrying about something out of my control. Hope your weekend turned for the better.

  23. I blame my husband, then look at pearls on Kojima Pearls, then realize I’m lucky to have the ability to buy pearls…that I don’t need. So, them I re-appreciate my life with my husband. The circle helps . My grumpiness is undeserved,. I’m incredibly lucky. But the process helps.

  24. @Joanna, I had to laugh at this comment in solidarity – one morning I was very cranky (my poor husband), went outside in a huff with my pruning shears, pruned my roses, and felt so much better. Pruning and fresh air are the answer!

  25. There are days when I am cranky and take things out on my husband. Then I feel terrible and wonder what is wrong with me. This post and these comments made me feel so much better – I am not alone. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I sleep (nap) …and that’s because the usual reason I am cranky is not having enough sleep. I get myself out of the house and just be out… doing whatever needs to be done or doing nothing at all but just walking. I sing out loud to songs from favorite musicals. Not all at the same time, but I’m sure you know that.

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