Monday, December 31, 2007

Adieu

Goodbye, 2007. I'm not quite sure how you'll be remembered. There were lots of highs, but more lows than usual. Things seem to have turned out okay though.

I'll be looking back over the past twelve months and gathering my thoughts about all your events. It's always good to take stock.

I think I'm looking forward to turning to a calendar, a new month, a new year, a leap year(!) in a few short hours. I like new beginnings. New possibilities. New choices.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Airing the Dirty Laundry


I admit it--my laundry room is stuck in the 80's. This apple wallpaper was probably a best seller back then. Target would have it on sale for 50% off. We possessed it both the red apple variation (shown here) and the blue apple style. Not only that but I helped my BFF wallpaper her entire hall in the red apple as a house warming present back in 1988. Seemed like a good idea at the time.








Check out this light fixture in the bath attached to our laundry. It could rightfully be called hid-e-ous. It's sooo not Green. Six light bulbs to light up one very tiny powder room? Overkill.

But wait, it gets better.







We went away for a two week vacation in the summer and our powder room leaked while we were away. No, no, it wasn't that bad--it only was leaking for about a hour before we drove in. But it soaked under the linoleum and the underlayment (I just love those fancy construction terms) buckled. We both considered it a blessing in disguise. My sweetie got to rip off the blue apple wallpaper and I got to tear up linoleum. I liked the linoleum (sanded and worn by two boys, their friends, and our dogs) as much as he did the wallpaper.




This is our powder room now. I don't even want to say how long ago the vacation leak occurred, but I will tell you that it's numbered in years instead of months. Sad but true. The wallpaper came off and nothing went on. He wanted linoleum, I didn't, so carpet sample squares somehow slowly moved in and began taking over. He took down the mirrors along with the wallpaper and they have been hiding behind the sofa ever since. Erkie thinks it's very handy every time he wants to check out the latest mom-provided haircut and let's us know it.



Moving on with the tour, this summer our washer finally died. I like fixing things and I'm fearless about ripping things apart (carefully, so I can remember how to put them back together with the aid of my trusty Readers Digest Fix Anything Handbook). I was familiar with every nut and bolt of that washer, but when it began spewing grease and oil, I knew it was time to move on. The puppy had added to the linoleum mayhem by treating what remained in the laundry room as a chew toy, now with grease on the flooring it was simpler to tear it out in preparation for the new washer. Here it sits in all its glory. Charming.

Sigh.

There's hope though. Behold! We have ordered indestructable through-body porcelain tile. I figured that tile designed for heavy-duty commercial applications might survive the abuse our laundry room gets as the major thoroughfare from garage to kitchen. We even have someone to lay it when it arrives. We have a new, fancy faucet bought for a song on eBay. Things are moving along nicely.

Still to do: choose granite for the replacement vanity, find a stainless steel sink and get a vanity which will fit our angled space.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Natural History


Look at those funny dog tracks--what long toenails.





Ah ha! They go right into the Raccoon Highway aka the storm drain. I should have known that they're raccoon tracks. We'll just play Daniel Boone and see where they go.




Into the pasture! Hmmm...little kid smell, big dog scent, vole odor...and yes, eau de raccoon right about here.









Look! There were two of them. Back track them past the Hay Trailer.





Hey, where'd they go?

They were here a moment ago.


What a surprise! Right into the Briar Patch.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seeing the Light(s)

School is done for the year. There is hope that I may be ready for Christmas on time.

I love Christmas traditions. My parents always took us out to ooh and ahh over the decorations that folks put up. Then it was just those big colored lights. My grandparents had a huge white star with blue tips on their ranch house and it was considered so unusual and special.

Now there are huge snowmen and twinkling snowflakes and Happy Feet penguins. And icicle lights. I love it all! There is no such thing as overkill in my book when it comes to Christmas.

We took our own children out to see the lights, especially the incredible displays in Hidden Valley, apparently created especially to see how much they could run up their electric bills.

Tonight my sweetie and I, with the pup in tow, drove up to Evergreen to see their lights. I'm always uplifted and inspired by their displays. They band together and light up trees, fences, rooflines, doorways in red, green, blue and white. They have delicate reindeer and snowglobes and big red bows. It all looked like a North Pole Dreamland shining on the snow.

Our house will never win any awards for Christmas decorations, but it has lights shining out into the blackness. And every single house in our little cul-de-sac has lights somewhere. We feel so lucky to have great neighbors. They are one of our blessings.

And speaking of over-the-top light displays, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmgf60CI_ks

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Leftover Who Hash

That's exactly what I feel like after a long session of finalizing packages to mail. (Yes, the original Grinch cartoon is my absolute favorite seasonal DVD, far outweighing "White Christmas" not to mention "Elf" or "The Santa Clause." And yes, my kids think I am insane.)

It's my least favorite part of Christmas--having family far enough away that there is no chance of seeing them for the holidays, therefore presents must be trusted to the tender mercies of the Postal Service. And of course, that means finding boxes that are the right size to hold the presents. Sigh. It makes me tired just thinking of it.

But I was motivated to get it done. I stayed up till 4 a.m. finishing the last craft, wrapping the last presents, baking the last goodie and finding boxes just the right size. I managed to feed myself and the pup, throw on a Christmasy outfit, put out the address book for my sweetie and still make it to work on time. Unfortunately, the someone who was going to stand in line at the post office was incapable of seeing the boxes right outside his home office door with the address book conspicuously parked next to them. So they are still sitting in our house.

I admit that there were extra boxes floating downstairs, but still...

This Can of Who Hash, slightly dried out and feeling quite stale, will now retire for a Long Winter's Nap.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Star Light

Christmas 1979 was memorable in some positive ways too.

Because I was reluctant to travel for the holidays, it was the first time we ever spent Christmas in our own home. My sister Pooh was nice enough to brave the gloom and come share the holidays with us. Thanks to her, the holiday spirit arrived, a bit late perhaps, but it still came. She and my sweetie went out on Christmas eve to acquire a tree, only to discover that tree lots are not open on December 24th. Fortunately, a little determined dumpster diving on their part came up with a three foot fir that she still refers to as the Charley Brown tree. We dug out the ornaments and made a tin foil star for the top.

Other festive touches included
  • Dr. Demento's Christmas carols. Not exactly reverent, but worth a few laughs.
  • Repainting the fake brick he previous owners had splashed with strokes of mustard, barn red and ivory (it was supposed to look like old brick). It looked much classier in Najavo White.
  • Climbing in and out of windows to use the bathroom as the newly varnished hardwood floors dried. Yeah, it was December, but it was a Southern California winter.
  • And two out of three of us successfully avoided stepping on the carpet tack strips that had just been nailed into the concrete in preparation for our new carpet. Nothing says Christmas like tacks.

Besides some unusual Christmas memories, I still have the little tinfoil star and a firm belief that stars, not angels or treetoppers, belong on a Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 1979

Twenty-eight years ago, we had just moved into our first house. After five years in a one-bedroom apartment, it was heavenly to move into a 1950's two bedroom with a large yard. We were filled with dreams. Dreams of hardwood floors and a remodeled kitchen. Dreams of paint and carpeting. Dreams of lush landscaping instead of a bermuda grass desert. Dreams of a dog. Dreams of a baby to come.

We were happily pregnant for the first time. Sleep often brought sweet dreams of a little red-haired toddler in our new family room, sitting on our new soft carpet and playing. We laughed at the thought of red hair when no one in the family had anything vaguely resembling any shade of auburn.

Then midway through the first trimester, I began spotting. It was too early for us to have chosen an obstetrician yet, so we headed for the emergency room. Amidst all the worry, I remember the smile we shared as the young doctor confirmed that the test showed we were indeed pregnant. We already knew it, but it was so thrilling to have it officially confirmed. We went home where I was to take it easy and hope the bleeding would stop.

We looked for an OB and made an appointment. We finally called our far-away parents and let them know our tenuous situation. The spotting grew heavier and my sweetie insisted our way into the doctor's office past one of those gatekeeper-types who seem to protect doctors from sick people. Although nice, the physician was not encouraging and warned us we were miscarrying. He was right. After a long afternoon of cramps and heavy bleeding, lots of tears and sorrow, we called him again and he arranged for a D&C.

I so clearly remember emerging from anesthesia as they wheeled me into the recovery room, feeling a terrible and final sense of loss and thinking, "No more baby, no more baby." I spent the night alone in the hospital, crying silent tears.

Life goes on and a happy ending later gave us two wonderful sons who are now grown. Sons, both of whom possessed red hair for a brief time during babyhood, a circumstance that amazes me. Still, each December I think of the little red-haired boy I never got to meet. With every particle of my being, I hope there is a heaven. I hope there is a way for souls to embrace because I need--someday, somewhere--to hold that son. To cuddle and hug and love in a very special reunion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Re-dressed

This is what I've really been doing lately.

It would seem logical (since it's December) to assume I'm sitting here enjoying the snow that's been hanging around due to highs of 35 degrees during the day, enjoying Christmas CDs playing on the stereo (gotta get my Mannheim Steamroller fix), sipping hot chocolate.





Actually I've been sewing the Halloween and Thanksgiving outfits for my favorite doll. I know, she won't wear them for another ten months, but in my little world I've gotta sew while inspiration hits. I just love the little Halloween candy vest she will be able to wear next October.






And the nice thing about doll clothes is that they don't have to be sewn perfectly. I did my best, but in the interest of accuracy in reporting, I have to admit that one of the vest ties on her Thanksgiving outfit pulled clean away from the vest when I tied it for the photo. Turned out that I sewed too close to the edge and it just frayed and let go. I did try to sew it properly, but after two tries, I decided that it was okay to just topstitch it on. It'll tie properly and will be hidden. Hey, it's not like my doll is gonna complain about the itch from the tie against her skin. (There are definite advantages to a doll vs. a real live kid.)




This is what she is wearing now as she patiently sits in my old child's rocker as she waits for the tree and presents to appear.


Maybe it's overkill to have a doll dressed for the seasons and holidays, but that's just me. I like to celebrate!



p.s. Speaking of celebrating, Happy Hanukkah! The latkes with applesauce and sour cream are still making my tastebuds twinkle with delight after their appearance in the classroom yesterday!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Idyllic


Dogs and snow seem like a match made in heaven.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cruel Comfort

Yes, it's me again. My mom is still upstairs and I'm lying here dying of boredom. Dying, I tell you. Don't you think I look bored?

No walks, no defrosting meat left out on the counter in easy reach of a hungry dog...there's even a ban on playing with the snowman ornament she left sitting on the coffee table. I'm letting her know how unhappy I am though. When she comes down the stairs, I don't even lift my head up or wag my tail. I ignore her.

And to punish her more, I am using her little wooden stool as a pillow. That'll show her.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Got Weather??


Dear Blog Readers:
Mrs. Santa has been busy busy busy, but in a guilt-laden moment managed to step outside her workroom (upstairs where I'm not allowed) and take me to the pasture. I love snow. I love frozen cow patties. I love playing with my friend Cody. He's tan and buff and likes digging for rodents in the irrigation ditches. (Don't worry, Jake, you're still my best guy!) Cody and I had fun running fast. I'm faster than he is but I wait for him to catch up, 'cause that's the polite way to play with friends.
Mrs. Santa is doing something called "sewing". It involves lots of noise, but doesn't smell very interesting. At least she finds time to cook and give me bits of moldy cheese (yum!) and sometimes a piece of meat falls to the floor where I help her clean it up.
I'm spending way too much time lying at the foot of the stairs waiting and hoping for a walk. It is beautiful weather out there and feels like summer. I hope she comes down soon and gets my leash.
She says I'm getting a "niece" soon. I don't know what that is, but I hope it either tastes good or is something to play with.
Time to kennel up for the night.
Love, Kharma

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dog Brownies

(Warning: I can tell I'm going to be too lazy to proofread and correct my tenses, so proceed at your own risk.)

Our trees are officially leafless. Our leaves, as planned, all migrated to one corner of our yard but then obstinantly resisted our positive visualization that they would fly into our trashcan or translocate into our least favorite neighbor's yard. Being forced to see them every time I stand at my kitchen sink finally got old.

I woke up earlier this morning than I'd like, so I mulled over the day's possibilities once I decided it was useless to try to go back to sleep. Knowing it's trash day, I decided to press my luck and see what would happen to my hands and wrists if I raked them up. I got up early, pulled on a turtleneck and a jacket, wrapped a muffler around my neck and grabbed one of the boy's old snow hats and headed outside where it turned out to be surprisingly warm. After several icy nights in the 'teens and a night of howling winds, I had expected something chillier when I stepped out the door. The leaves were waiting in their corner.

It didn't take long to fill the small trashcan. It was no fun pulling the large can with the balky wheel--courtesy of the hit-and-run joyriders--into the backyard. What was I thinking when I didn't pursue the little wretches and get a nice new working can? The second can filled too quickly and I began missing my kids. Kids are a lot of trouble for fifty-one weeks for the year, but they come in very handy when you need someone to climb into the garbage can and stomp the leaves. I calculated the likelihood of my neighbor appreciating my ringing her doorbell and borrowing her girls for compactor duty, but decided retaining her friendship was more important. I climbed in the can myself and did a pretty good imitation of a trash compactor. Fill and stomp. Fill and stomp. It's pretty amazing how many leaves you can stuff in a finite space. It's also amazing how leaves will stick to anything you wear. The lawn looked good everywhere except where the deepest leaves kept sunlight from penetrating to the blades of grass. That's okay, I figure the yellow will eventually either green up or be covered by snow.

Raking unearthed more than leaves. I found a couple of tennis balls that Kharma enthusiastically fetched. I found a very old dog toy. I found a scrub jay head. Yeah, just the head. Kharma, a bird fanatic, was more enthusiatic about it than I was. It seemed way too Don Corleone at first, then I realized probably it was a remnant from either the pair of redtails that live in the pasture or the kestrel that trolls for voles and field mice.

Every now and then, I'd step on something hard, but not hard enough. Alas, I had counted on a cold night to freeze the little doggy treats that are an inevitable part of dog ownership so I wouldn't have to feel guilty when I just tossed the frozen, hopefully scentless scat into the leaves. I stepped inside to grab a plastic grocery bag to protect our waste management engineers' delicate nasal passages and immediately wished I hadn't as my first step deposited a smooshy brown mass on the oak floorboards. On the oak floorboard and into the crack between them. Lovely.

Am I bad because I went back outside and did my pooper-scooper routine and dragged the cans out to the curb first? Breed'em and Weep fans know that poo happens, usually when it is least convenient and least wanted and involves animals. Add to that, poo apparently happens when it is hardest to clean up.

Next time the garbage men can fend for their own noses.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Half and Half

I've snuck in a little time here and there when my sweetie isn't using the computer, just to see if everyone out there in Blog Land survived the turkey onslaught, and discovered I'm not the only one posting about Black Friday.

Those of you who set your alarm for 3:45 a.m. (and you know who you are) are insane. Okay, you're not as insane as the completely totally insaner folks who were already lined up well ahead of you. Did they camp out? Get up at midnight? Skip Thanksgiving altogether? File this one under "Mysteries That Need No Answer".

To my alarm, marketing worked on about half of you. You snagged some bargains, no doubt, but I'm still not impressed. I might get up early if I was gonna save, say...over $500. On something I really really really wanted.

On the other hand, after five months of sleep deprivation, my sleep is worth a lot. I have a lot of sleep to catch up on and sleeping in is a luxury that is priceless for me right now.

Thank heavens for the other half who are apparently as resistant to ad campaigns as I am. We enjoyed a calm day with family or friends, reflecting on how many hours it was gonna take us to work off all those calories.

I have to admit that I apparently absorbed some of the hype. My workroom suddenly resembles the one at the North Pole. Greens and reds everywhere. Patterns for Santas, snowmen and crickets. Kits for stockings half-finished. Stashed presents suddenly appearing. Lists upons lists. I guess I'm inspired. I know I was busy enough that I used up an entire spool of thread.

This is what happens when I have two hands with fingers that actually work, am well rested and have four long lovely days off. I turn into Mrs. Claus.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday

Who thought up that name for the shopping maniac's official start to the Christmas rush? It had to be an accountant, right? As in "black ink" and a company being "in the black" as opposed to the dreaded red that precedes bankruptcy.

I guess a little black dress is nice. And Black is Beautiful. And Kharma's BFF, the black lab. Mostly black makes me think of funerals and mold and things that only Stephen King would like.

But Black Friday--it does nothing to get my shopping engine revving. Au contraire, it makes me want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.

My sympathy to the retail folk who are on the receiving end of the corporate brainstorms that produced 4 a.m. specials this year. That's certainly what I'd want to be doing on the day after my system was flooded with tryptophans, carbs, high-fructose corn syrup, and (possibly)enough liquor to be able to tolerate Great-Uncle Elmer's views on politics. I'd just love to drag myself out of bed, put on my work clothes, drive in pitch black to work and open the doors at 4 a.m. to a mob of crazed shoppers who proceed to celebrate the Prince of Peace by clubbing one another over the last remaining cheap digital camera whose warranty ends as it leaves the store. The only thing that could make that experience better is the thought of my CEO and his entire ad department sleeping in while I toiled.

I'm sorry. I know I should be doing my part to strengthen the dollar and prop up the Dow. If civilization as we know it crashes, you can blame me. I'm content soaking up the sunlight pouring through the bedroom window and wondering what movie we'll rent tonight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In Stitches

There is a hand in there somewhere with three little stitches

I'm looking forward to having them removed tomorrow morning. I will feel like a kid out for summer vacation! What freedom!


Showers and baths! Clipping my fingernails! Slim wrists that fit into all my clothes! The ability to scrub dirty pots! Infinite possibilities...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gram R's Art

grateful for a MIL who sees life with an artist's eyes



































Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Keep me in stitches

OK, there are only three stitches,but the second surgery is over with! Can I have my life back now??

Hoping for
  • feeling in both hands
  • closing a button without looking in the mirror
  • putting shoes on without a shoehorn

I'm in my no whining zone. There are lots of people worse off--more pain, longer recoveries, uncertain outcomes. Yeah, I already am chomping to go and do, but I will survive little annoyances like pull on pants and a dressing that is unravelling (on day one) and a wardrobe that consists of the three things that fit over the dressing.

I'm practicing patience and counting the minutes till the day before TurkeyDay when the dressing comes off and the stitches are removed and I can keyboard with two hands. Till then...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You Make The Call


What's not to like? Yes, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Bulbs) are "green". And who can argue over saving $148 in energy over the life of these bulbs? And it was a 25% more-for-your-money pack which is even better! Plus I won't have to change the bulb for 8 years. I like saving money, I like saving the environment, no argument here about global warming, and I have better things to do with my life than do laundry in the dark because the bulb burned out again (Confession: my parents never successfully taught me to turn out the light when I leave the room).

But, seriously, check out that packaging! Nothing "green" about it. Looks to me like someone could have
  • put another four bulbs in the space provided
  • or found an packaging material that would biodegrade instead of outliving the cockroach.

Opening the pack is completely impossible. I used a very sharp knife to carefully cut away enough of the bubble to gently life the bulb out. I'm not looking forward to getting the others out.

Regular incandescents nest together in those cute little packs and are sooooo easy to store. My cabinet door is currently ajar because this package is too big to fit in the space allotted. Heaven forbid that they eliminate the photo of the well-lit sofa to trim the package size to something more manageable. (I, for one, have always strictly limited my lightbulb choices to ones that would make my sofa look cozy.)

I see in today's news that our lawmakers are considering banning incandescent bulbs permanently by 2012. Hey, help me with something that really would improve my life. How about banning cars with gas mileage less than 40 mpg? Or find just one government accountant that can prove a link between $3/gas and an oil company's highest ever profit. Not only that but perhaps they need to look at the Pandora's box before they open it--CFLs contain mercury and have to be disposed of carefully. (Don't ask me how, I still need to find out myself.) It's minor that CFLs only look good in lamps where you can't see the bulb. They look especially hideous in bathrooms with downfacing fixtures that mirror the bulb so you can feast on twice the ugliness. That's why folks are installing their fixtures upside down. Like me, they'd rather light their ceiling rather than their face if it means looking at an exposed ugly bulb.

I've used these CFLs for a few years now, mostly in places where I burn bulbs out quickly. But they are touchy. One nearly burned down our garage a year ago. Seriously. It melted the ceramic base and spread a lovely ozone odor. It took time to locate the source of the problem and of course we had the bulb on the whole time so we could see. Turns out, you have to grip the base to screw them in, not the spiral top. Otherwise you could weaken the bulb. And the UL label means nothing--you want them to be Energy Star approved.

I'll learn to handle them with kid gloves. I'll figure out how to properly dispose of them and their mercury (more than likely without the help of our garbage company hasn't been helpful with computer disposal to avoid heavy metal contamination).

Can they just package them better?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Digital World


Here is my first try at Digital Scrapbooking. I have no idea how long it took me, but I have to admit that it was pretty fun. I could not have done it without Shabby Princess dot com. Kudos for the incredible tutorial that pretty much took my hand and guided my steps, as well as the free download that I used as my background paper, photo frames and font.

I'm not throwing out my stash of cardstock, stickers and diecuts because I know I will always enjoy the hands on process. But this is a pretty nice shortcut. I am totally impressed that I even was able to blog my efforts. Hmmm, is this crazyjen's secret to her impressive scrapping output??

I think I'm hooked! I certainly know what I'll be doing this evening...Ctrl O, Ctrl T, drag and layer.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hookey

I really should be at work. Picture me typing away with a giant grin on my face, because I'm not. (The grin just got larger as I typed that.)

I'm playing hookey, cutting class, being a Bad Girl. And it's kinda fun.

I'm rewarding myself for the angelic patience I've shown post-surgery while waiting for the dressing to come off and the stitches to be removed. And I followed the 11th commandment (Thou Shalt Not Whine) pretty well considering my usual impatience.

The wrist may look like it recently belonged to Dr. Frankenstein with its greenish color and stitches, but the fingers attached to it are fully functional. They move, they type, they feel. Well, mostly. There is still a bit of numbness but it is going away more quickly than I expected (given that I couldn't feel anything with them pre-surgery). There is no more burning, no tingly pins-and-needles.

I can tell I still have plenty of strengthening exercises to do before they can do some simple things like snap fingers, but I think buttons and shoelaces are a definite possibility. The surgeon says lots of massaging the carpal tunnel area to break down scar tissue is a good idea. And I may not be lifting weights for quite some time--maybe 2008?

But I can post on my blog again, I can wear normal long-sleeves on our cooler days, and I am grateful beyond belief that I can wash my hands when a sick kindergartner hurls right next to me.

Flitting away now to enjoy more this playing hookey stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Deal or No?

I'm grateful that Grammy is taking care of me. Cooking meals, etc.

But I'm stuck with Basic Cable and worse yet, she watches Deal or No Deal. Good thing I can entertain myself with blogs while it blasts away in the background, And my gramma used to watch Lawrence Welk so it could be worse.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Veggie Soup a la Fridge

Due to Popular Demand (thanks, Amber!) here is the super simple recipe for quick and easy vegetable soup that not only warms the cockles, but cleans out the fridge too. I learned from my boss' wife to just open a can of Campbell's and then tinker with it. So...

A can of Vegetarian Vegetable (or Minestrone or Vegetable Beef...you get the idea)...open and pour into your soup pot with the requisite can of water.

Open your fridge and look over the leftover containers. Mine happened to contain a can of refried beans, slightly dried out, but still usable. Sometimes there is leftover rice, or a smidge of yesterday's meat, or some spaghetti remnants. Dump in a judicious amount, you don't want to overwhelm the Campbell's, just dress it up. I had about 2 Tbs of refritos added to my can of soup the other day. Dried out beans don't sound too appetizing, right? but put them in and your soup suddenly has some texture and body.

I love fresh veggies in my soup! I grab the bag of frozen peas and another of sweet corn and dump a quarter cup or so into the soup pot. Hey! The soup is looking more colorful already.

My sweetie had some of those little bitty carrots leftover from a trip that were just drying out in the veggie drawer so I just chopped some up, added some water, nuked them in the microwave for about 8 minutes and dumped the result in the soup pot.

Somehow my spice rack came into view at this point and I chose to add a sprinkle of cumin and another of garlic powder, but I frequently choose some oregano or basil, it just depends on my mood.

Grammy had just dug her potatoes--little bitty guys--so I cooked them in my trusty microwave and chopped them up, skins and all, and added them to my bubbling pot. She and I both planted zucchini this year and while she is willing to add them to her cookie dough I believe you have to draw the line somewhere. Zucchini, after all is a vegetable. I love to grate my zucchini and microwave it with a little water, so I added a couple spoonfuls to my soup pot.

If I'm in the right mood, I'll start dinner early and let things simmer on the stove for ages. This was not one of those times...so I just ladled it into our biggest bowls, sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and set them on the table. I put some whole wheat bread in the toaster for me and my sweetie grabbed the saltines for himself.

Twenty minutes, folks, start to finish. Savory, hearty, delicious, healthy and easy. We've been known to call it Kitchen Sink Minestrone because the best minestrone I've ever had (in a little restaurant along the Russian River in northern California) was constructed along those lines. This is one to play with and the ever-changing contents of the fridge make it fun. Remember, it's not brain surgery and Martha Stewart isn't gonna grade the end result. Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Soup

Made some.

Yummy!

No complaints because the weather is cooler and rainy or because it's really officially Autumn and summer is already a distant memory or that the garden has slowed to a crawl with fewer flowers and veggies that ripen in geologic time.

Why? Cause I actually get to cook something different! Farewell to the summer menu of dinners whose primary requirement is that they don't heat up the kitchen. Hello to pots of apples transforming into sauce, to soups simmering on the burner, to chili from scratch and stew and...and...comfort foods.

Love change, hate boredom.

By the way, the veggie soup had leftover refried beans, grated zucchini, white corn, peas, fresh potatoes skin and all, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. It's still sticking to my bones and warming my marrow.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Spoiled


This is my car. It sparkles. It shines. It is clean inside and out. Even the tires shine.

I did not wash, wipe or vacuum one square inch to get it that way. I'm the one with carpal tunnel, remember. I am not allowed to clean because that would mean using my fingers, hands and wrists. That would be very very bad and my OT would not be happy.

Those two lovely men were a gift. They came to me. They brought a trailer filled with lovely cleaning juices and magical potions. (For the car, people; what would I do with car shampoo, wax and Armor-all? No, wait, don't answer.) They had their work cut out for them and worked for well over an hour removing dirt, dust, garden soil, rock chips, dried soccer grass, pollen, and a year of puppy.

It's called Detailing (courtesy of last year's morning class) and I love it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happy Feet


Sometimes the cosmos just shines, the planets are in alignment, and all the lights are green. That's the way my shoeshopping expedition with Grammy was yesterday.

After lunch, we headed for Shoe Pavilion hoping to find a replacement for my old, comfy, well-loved Dexters. It's not uncommon to spend an entire kindergarten morning on my feet, moving constantly and my pedometer can prove it. So my shoes have to meet some stringent teacher-shoe standards. I'm quite capable of walking away empty-handed (or should that read bare-footed?) when I'm looking for shoes.

Instead I found four fabulous shoes that have wonderful arch support, nice leather, fit perfectly and at a reasonable price. I exercised great restraint and only bought three pair.

First, I ran across some Avia running shoes--my old runners are way past their expiration date, so these were a needed item.

Then the Clark's sandals caught my attention. I became a Shoe Pavilion fan when I found my wonderful blue Sunbeats there two years ago so I was thrilled to find these tan babies to add to the collection. I mean, the blue matches almost everything, but tan is so wonderfully neutral.

Then Grammy pointed out a brown, MaryJane-style Ecco shoe that fit wonderfully so we grabbed our shoeboxes and were waiting for the customer ahead of us, when I remembered that the front window had some shoes that caught my eye earlier. What a dilemma when I found the cute brown Dexters!

Did I need two brown pair? Not really, but how often does one find two shoes that fit and look great?

Which one felt more comfy? The Eccos were quite comfortable and the Dexters were pretty comfortable. Either would work.

Which looked better? Grammy thought the Dexters were cuter and I had to agree. I really liked the Eccos, but they might have been just a tad clunky for my admittedly teensy feet.

Which were cheaper? Sometimes a girl just has to ignore price and make a decision based on what's best for her feet.

In the end, the Dexters won and I somewhat reluctantly left the Eccos behind. I feel like I won a jackpot with my three new shoes. Just like any kid, having new shoes makes it seem easier to face going back to school!

p.s. I might have come away with three pairs of shoes, but I got my sweetie SIX pairs of socks! He really came off best. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Holy Smokes!


My baby has turned 24! Don't know how time sped by so fast that I know have to dabble in subtraction to figure out how old my kids are.
We spent 45 minutes looking for a good birthday card. I'm more likely to be drawn to the silly cards about heredity (good looks vs. intelligence), or the nutty things all moms say. It's easier than getting all weepy over the sappy verses extolling pride and love. I pretended that my allergies were acting up yet again as I wiped my eyes.
Naturally we chose the sappy (but totally true) card about loving a tiny baby, a little boy, and a tall young man. We are so blessed to have two incrediblewonderfulcaringkindhandsomeintelligent sons. Love you both!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pins and Needles

It's the main reason that there have been no recent posts--it's hard to type when I can't feel my fingers. I have carpal tunnel in both wrists (note to self: next time you want to start distance training runs, make sure your bike is perfectly fitted to you). The doctors and therapists call it "tingling", but the truth is that my fingers have felt as though they've been asleep for close to two months now.

They are gradually feeling better, sort of half asleep. That's from a combination of therapy, wrist braces and letting the nerves rest.

Resting is pure torture when you are as active as I (usually) am. I can live with not using the shovel and pick as I re-landscape my front yard. I found that I can get Erkie to come over and he's great about taking directions from me and I'm happy with any sort of progress on the landscaping that got derailed by carpal tunnel.

Unfortunately, resting also includes a ban on fine motor activities. Just try and find something that doesn't use your hands. Can't use scissors. Can't hold a pen or pencil for any time at all. Even reading is frustrating. Paperbacks are bad enough; trying to find a comfy way to hold the last Harry Potter (all 759 pages of it) was nearly impossible. The solution turned out to recline the sofa, hold the book open on my lap and only use my hands to turn the pages.

Oddly, using the keyboard is one of the easier things for me. I can't do it for very long, but at least it doesn't make my fingers swell or my hands hurt. So...short posts. Like this one.

Over and out.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sneak Peek







Yeah, I've been on vacation. Still am.






Plus it's been way too hot upstairs in our house, not to mention in our computer room, to want to be there. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)






But...I just went on a Pond and Rails tour locally and just can't resist sharing photos of some really wonderful ponds. I was inspired.






Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May Day plus One


Number me among the folks who are astonished that April is finished.
I do love May Day though. I wish that filling baskets with flowers from the garden and leaving them on the doorknobs of friends and neighbors was still a tradition. More, I wish that I had the time to continue such a tradition.
At least the flowers in springtime are not rushed. It's a peaceful feeling knowing that cell phones and soccer practice and alarm clocks have no influence with any flower in my garden. My bulbs are aware of the earlier dawns and later sunsets as the season progresses away from the short winter days. The pansies and johnny-jump-ups set their blossoms as the daily temperatures gradually warm and my tulips quickly close if one of our typical Sierra snowstorms blows in. Patiently the dogwood sepals unfold, biding their time through false springs, blustery winds, and unexpected frosts.
Then May Day comes, the calendar changes pages, and the various garden residents all rejoice in the welcome warmth and celebrate the mercifully sunny day with an explosion of color.
My flowers are good teachers. I've learned patience as I plant a gallon-sized oak tree and been rewarded with increasing shade each year that makes my backyard a haven in the summer. I've been tolerant as I paid for the shade with more and more acorns sprouting in my lawn which I hand-pick diligently. Friendship has its price--the birch has beauty and catkins currently spread in every nook and cranny of my yard. Rhythm, the rightness of seasons, a time for the peonies to die back, a bounty of fresh sun-warmed peaches, a lone viola peeking through a snowy bed, the danger of a rose leafing out too soon and blackening from frost. A garden is a lot like life. It takes a bit of experimentation, a touch of serendipity, some advice here and there, a helping hand once in a while...
I enjoyed the warm weather much like my garden. I relaxed and unfolded some of my petals in the sun. I ignored the weather reports. Sometimes you have to live in the moment rather than dreading what the future holds. My flowers aren't worrying about tomorrow's projected storm and neither am I.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Half-empty?

The bad news--my washing machine is currently sulking/on vacation/deceased.
The good news--I might be able to fix it.

The bad news--it flooded the laundry room.
The good news--it was on medium fill instead of high.

The bad news--it soaked the underlayment for the linoleum.
The good news--I am lobbying for tile instead of linoleum and buckled underlayment helps my cause.

The bad news--it happened right before my in-laws arrive for their first visit since 2001.
The good news--it happened on the last load of laundry.

The bad news--I see the laundromat in my future.
The good news--my dryer still works.


So...I have a fence that is currently held up by a rope, a large truck tire and a log to keep it from moving in the stiff winds that keep blowing through. I have a washer that is on life support. Can you say "deferred maintenance"?

I have a three-car garage that is filled with stuff when my husband's old office closed and I lost a guest room when he created a home office. The guest room I do have is now my hurling room (filled with things that have been hurled inside when the garage and other guest room were taken over by the alien invaders). Can you say "Mom is frustrated just a little"?

I have in-laws coming on semi-short notice and I have a school function in the evening and then soccer practice the next afternoon. I'm inviting them to see the Taiko drummers and Polynesian dancers performing at our Multicultural Night but they also have the option of going to Grammy's to see her new place and having dessert there. Can you say "Thank heavens they came primarily to see my sweetie and will understand that I have other responsibilities"?

I also have a nicely mown lawn and the yard is filled with Spring color. Our pink flowering dogwood is also near its peak. My sweetie helped vacuum and straighten (wise choice since it's his family).

All in all, it could be a lot worse. Of course, it could be a whole lot better. I'm undecided.

Friday, April 20, 2007

365 Days of Good Kharma


Just remembering...
  • the instant we saw her for the first time and just knew

  • the trip home in the dark with our puppy in her crate

  • when she was so tiny she could crawl underneath the passenger seat between the front and back
  • how she liked to lie by my feet and let the air conditioning blow on her while she tugged at my shoelaces

  • how her first tiny collar was still too big and had to be rubberbanded to hold the end down

  • watching her step on grass for the first time and try to figure out what it was

  • having her sleep on my tummy as I finally got some sleep on the sofa

  • sneaking her into bed one morning when she was tiny

  • how worried I was when she stopped eating and lost a quarter of her puppy weight

  • and coaxing her into eating by dropping pieces of toast smeared with peanut butter or "accidentally" letting Cheerios fall on the floor

  • how quickly she learned to sit and lie down

  • how it took ages for her to learn not to come upstairs

  • potty breaks on rainy Spring nights huddled under the incense cedar where it was always dry

  • those sweet pink paws and round baby tummy

  • watching her grow cinnamon-colored eyelashes

  • how she teethed on metal objects--shovels, trowels, picks--and left our shoes alone

  • the days of blogging with a sleepy puppy on my lap.

Lord grant us many more years with her.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sweet Spring

Thigh-deep in pondwater on Monday evening. 69 degrees (Clear out algae, scrub pond and retrieve rocks from the bottom, thoroughly terrorize fish that survived the winter.)

Fence waving like a flag in 60mph gusts on Tuesday afternoon. 50 degrees (Prop up with rope, old Bronco tire, 4x4s and firewood, hope dog is still backyard after school.)

Blizzard with whiteout conditions at Tuesday dusk. 30 degrees (Call Grammy and marvel.)

Snow showers and sunshine on Wednesday morning. 44 degrees (Take the kindergarten out to recess.)

Ya gotta love spring in northern Nevada. It defines the word "fickle" and makes us appreciate the relative calm of the other three seasons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An ounce of preparation...

Life isn't safe. Accidents happen. Tragedy happens. Sickness happens. Poop happens. I'm with the Boy Scouts and their motto "Be Prepared" though. You can buckle up, look both ways, wear clean underwear, take your vitamins, and not follow your friends when they jump off a cliff.

Is your children's school safe? You can, and should, ask hard questions of your school administrators. Find out their disaster plan. What would they do if there is a code red or a lockdown?

Then look at your child's classroom critically and ask if that plan is realistic. Can the teacher lock the door(s) from the inside? Can the view from the windows be blocked? Is there a place inside where the students can shelter? Could law enforcement reliably and easily ascertain which classrooms have a "situation" and which don't?

I know--scary stuff.

I don't want to be dooced, so I'm just making a suggestion that there might be room for improvement at a school near you.

There will never be a better time for it. Be proactive. Stand firm. Demand solutions. You might save a life.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Disappearing Acts

When Tess was a puppy, we couldn't find her one afternoon. The gate was closed, the garage door was down, she wasn't in the house and definitely not in the backyard where she was supposed to be. We found her in our neighbors' backyard, but couldn't figure out how she got there. Eventually we discovered that a fairly large dog can easily squeeze through a loose six-inch-wide fenceboard.

Kharma makes Tess look unmotivated.

First, she used a tipped-over garbage can to go over the fence to see her best friend, then actually climbed the fence at its lowest point when she heard Echo across the street. So we put up puppy barricades which are working perfectly (for the moment).

Stymied, she began using the defunct rabbit cage as a way over the fence. She was jumping up to the top of a four-foot cage and then just jumping over. It didn't get her any closer to Echo, but I guess she figured there was no harm in trying. I tried tipping the rabbit condo over and pulling it away from the fence, but our determined little girl managed to move a cage weighing sixty pounds closer to the fence. Let's just say that rabbit cage no longer exists except as a pile of old 2 by 4s and some hardware cloth.

I started looking for other things that Miss Creativity could use to climb and/or jump over the fence. I moved a milk can and rolled Erkie's tires out of the way, only to find that she could also move tires. She hides her ball under them and then moves them to get to her ball. She doesn't weigh more than thirty pounds tops and it's easier for her to move a tire than it is for me!

I put Kharma out for just a little while after dinner and couldn't find her an hour later. The rabbit cage had not reappeared. The barricades were still in place. She just wasn't in our yard.

I checked inside the house since I've found her many times lying leisurely in her bed wondering what all the fuss is about and why mom is calling her name so loudly. Still no pup.

Rechecked the entire yard, nothing. Rechecked the whole house, nothing. Loud calls of "Kharma, Kharma", nothing.

Eventually I caught a movement through the fence. She was in our neighbors' yard. She'd somehow used the tires, low as they were, to get high enough to claw her way over. I loosened a fence board and she scrambled through, relieved to be home.

Sigh. The tires are going on craigslist. The garbage enclosure is getting moved in front of the gate. We're moving benches away from the fence even if they are in the gated sideyard that she's never been in. I think we'll also make some test runs--have Echo's dad bring her over and see if the Kharma dog can figure out a way over the fence.

We are trying to be smarter than our dog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tranquility Base

It's the favorite moment of my day.

I tell Kharma "time to go on a business trip" just before bedtime. I open the back door and step outside as I remind her "do your business".

She heads out into the darkness of our backyard and I can barely see her just a few yards away as she begins her doggy-search for the ideal patch of grass, the one with the perfect scent and just the right feel to it.

I look up. Stars. Orion is westward now and I've been watching him gradually travel toward the Sierra crest every night for many months. The Bear is incredibly clear as he points out the Pole Star. There is a breath of wind that gently stirs the new leaves and washes over my upturned face. I'm on Kharma time so there's no hurry.

Night after night on the back doorstep and the sky always has a tale to tell. The freshness of the air always reminds me that life is filled with beauty if I just stop to look around. I'm in the moment--not shivering with cold, not huddling to get out the wind, not avoiding the snowflakes--just enjoying, just being.

I think back a year. I was dogless and bereft. We'd been looking for almost four months and still had not seen the right pup. Now we are close to our one year anniversary with our perfect girly-girl. It's thanks to her that I have these nightly moments to cherish.

Kharma is just a pale ghost as she moves around the yard. Occasionally she will stretch and roll on the lawn luxuriously as if she too cannot get enough of the night. Finally she will trot toward me and we go in.

It's a good way to end the day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th and other fables

Scariest quote of the day--from Mrs. Bug, the 3rd grade teacher next classroom over, to her class, "Follow me like a snake."

If there is one thing that I never ever ever want to follow me, it's a snake. Not a little one, not a harmless one, not a garter snake, not a rubber snake, not a 3rd grade snake (if it made it to 3rd grade then it's way smarter than any snake has a right to be).

When queried, Mrs. Bug made it clear that snakes were manageable but 3rd grade amoebas were to be avoided at all costs. Apparently amoebas clump, have no shape, and will drive our computer teacher insane.

In my class we subscribe to the train theory of children in lines--there's no cutting and the cars have to stay on the same track. The computer teacher likes our class.

Yes, trains can be noisy and disputes have broken out over who gets to be the caboose. Still, trains have not coiled around any teachers recently or used needle sharp teeth to sink poisonous venom into anyone's veins.

In other non-news, it is indeed Friday and, 13th or not, the weekend is upon us and life is good. Soccer, dog agility, garden ponds, garage cleanup, and new reading material from the Paperback Exchange are in our immediate future.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Siberia or Bust

It's enough to make you cry. Or cuss. Loudly and viciously.

Teenagers: boys, to be precise. Calm down, not all of them. I had two of the critters myself and they were polite, controlled, and (once I'd left all the parenting to my sweetie) a delight.

Still, after reading Jenn's take over at Breed'em and Weep about surly teenagers and thinking it a must-read, I received my own teenage encounter.

Simply put, two teenagers intentionally rammed my garbage cans and sent them flying.

I'm currently wondering why anyone who would be so impulsive, and stupid enough to do it in a cul-de-sac, in broad daylight, with an easily-identified personalized license plate should even have a drivers license.

It's possible that I could just continue to fume. Unfortunately for them, the garbage can was new, cost a small fortune, and now has an unusable wheel.

The nice me is letting the neighbors know what happened and the culprits can replace my trash can and apologize. If they choose not to cowboy up, then I'll file a report with RPD and they (and their parents) can deal with the crime report.

The evil me thinks that revenge is both fun and appropriate and plans to firmly plant a screwdriver in the sidewalls of all four Xterra tires.

But you didn't hear that from me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Guilty Confessions of the Panic Queen

Tiger lilies are a family tradition. My dad acquired some from the moist places in Tehama County and my family has been growing them every since.

We expect them to bloom riotously for the Fourth of July and throughout the worst of summer's heat. There's nothing more beautiful than their brilliant orange backlit by the sun or their leaves outlined by a morning dew.

We grew up picking the little black bulblets (not bigger than your smallest fingernail) off between the leaves even before they were ripe enough to germinate yet more little tigers. They were irresistable to any child and we weren't especially obedient anyway. Think of us as a force of nature used by tiger lilies to spread throughout the garden, because every fence and wall had its own row of tiger lilies by the time we finished picking and throwing them at each other.

We grew up and bought our own homes and watch our own children filch the bulblets now. I began with a bareroot tiger lily, but eventually propagated some little plants from the original Tehama stock and had enough to enjoy each summer.

Tiger lilies seem to like Oregon much better than Nevada I found when I visited my sister. Operating on the principal that you can never have enough tiger lilies and perhaps somewhat jealous of the bounty Pooh was able to grow, I went hog-wild on my visit last year and not only picked the biggest and best bulblets off her plants, but also scoured the ground underneath for any that had fallen off and might root and give her even more (obviously undeserved) lilies. I was able to get away with this by noting that I'd take some and then Grammy could use the rest for her brand-new and very bare garden.

When I returned home, I decided to jumpstart the bulbs before I planted them. So I tucked them into little plastic pouches after misting them well and settled back to watch them sprout. Sprout they did! Rapidly and well--little white hairroots extending out more quickly than I had expected.

Guilt set in quickly as the little roots began to create a tangled mass that I wasn't sure would live once I sent them out into my irregularly watered garden. I began to wish that I had just planted the bulblets and let nature germinate them instead. Grammy got the least tangled messes to put into her richly fertile new soil. I kept the remaining ugly remnants.

I began scratching out little shallow hollows for them near fences and behind tall plants, searching for the perfect mixture of sun and shade with regular moisture. All the best spots were taken and I still had more little plants that needed to find a home. So the not-so-perfect spaces, the ones with too much shade or not enough water, began to receive the homeless little bulbs. Still more tangled little webs of bulbs and rootlets were left. Finally anywhere that didn't already have something growing got a handful tenderly tucked away.

I watered and watched and watered and watched. Nothing. Not one teesy tiny leaf appeared anywhere in the yard. Week after week passed. Weeks stretched into months and the seasons changed. This was not good.

I've germinated seeds before and planted apparently healthy seedlings never to see them again. I was afraid I was experiencing a massive tiger lily die-off after being such a frenzied seed collector. My visions of tiger lilies in every nook and cranny of my yard took on an ominous hue. Month after month went by and still no trace of the buried evidence sprouted.

Fortunately, winter arrives each year and frost kills 99.5% of my garden down to bare soil. I'm allowed to happily forget my mistakes and my plans for springtime begin to evolve.

Spring is back though. The early birds--my crocus, baby daffodils and iris--have bloomed. Tulips and hyacinths have made their appearance. My herbaceous perennials, each marked only by one single stem that I leave during fall cleanup, are beginning to unfold in promise of future peonies or delphineums or phlox.

As I've cruised through the yard, I've begun to see little green pointed commas showing themselves in groups along fences and walls, in sunny and in shady areas. Good heavens! The tiger lily babies not only survived, they are flourishing everywhere. I'm finding them in places I don't even remember planting them.

Maybe I wasn't such a horrible gardener after all. Maybe tiger lilies are tougher than I gave them credit for. I think I was just lucky this time. I'm hoping for some great lily photos in about three months.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday


Part of the fun is wondering what flowers (if any) will be blooming and available to arrange in my favorite blue Roseville basket vase. Our daffodils and hyacinths peaked early and are now drying on their stalks, but the tulips, violas, sweet violets and grape hyacinths are all happy to donate their blooms along with the cherry blossoms. And anything looks wonderful in that particular vase...
I do miss the ranunculus and coral bells that would reliably bloom for Easter bouquets in California. But spring arrives a month earlier there. The Roseville basket would be stuffed with Dutch iris and azaleas, with sword fern poking through everywhere, when I was a kid. Going out in the morning, gathering flowers and then arranging them was the best part of Easter Sunday.
Better than a new Easter dress or large chocolate bunnies. Better than dyeing eggs or having an egg hunt. Better even than the harmonies of new Easter hymns that the children's choir would debut.
I'm totally grateful for the sunny days and mild temperatures we received for Easter weekend here, especially since I keep hearing about winter coats and wool tights being worn with Easter finery farther east. Brrrrr.
We've had our share of neighborhood Easter egg hunts that ended with families scurrying home to avoid the icy pellets driven by crisp winds and I'm not in any hurry to repeat those conditions. This weekend seemed like it should be early May instead of April, weatherwise!
Here's hoping that you had a wonderful holiday, filled with family, flowers and chocolate bunny ears!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pansy Pensees

No, it's not a new variety of pansy that's appearing in the nurseries right about now. That's Pansy "Pon-say", not "Pen-sees", for all you non-Francais speakers out there and it means Pansy Thoughts which is how the pansy got its name in the first place--from their thoughtful little faces. Just thought you'd want to know. I have tons of those fairly useless little thoughts just circulating around in my memory banks. For those purists out there, I do kinda sorta know how to get the accent on the first "e" and the little squiggle on the "c" in Francais, but in the interests of getting this posted in a timely manner I'm going to ignore the fact that I should really look up the "ask-key" codes. I've been photographing and enjoying my little Easter gifts from the kindergarten class and those photos are leading to some stream-of-consciousness writing with sentences tipping rapidly towards run-on land. So on to The Point.

The point just being that in the Language of Flowers (which fortunately do not need accents or squiggles and hence no guilt feelings about the ask-key codes) the pansies mean "thoughts of you". And aren't you glad you stuck around for that little gem?!

So...wishing your thoughts are positive and productive and sweet this day.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wodney Wat

The teachers were laughing as hard as the kids (maybe harder) when our guest reader read us Hooway for Wodney the Wat. Have you guessed that Rodney has a little speech problem? Poor little wodent.

During wecess, Wodney gets to be Simon during Simon Says. My favorite part is when he tells the kids to Read the Sign. There's a Mean Girl new to his class, a bullying know-it-all who doesn't know-it-all about Wodney and, you guessed it! she begins attacking the weeds.

Wodney becomes the hero to his classmates as he gains some much-needed self confidence and learns that there is a silver lining to every cloud.

Little Miss Capybara is last seen obediently trotting away after he tells his peers that "Rodney says, Go Rest."

With Lynn Munsinger's illustrations and the absurdity of Amelia Bedelia and a happy ending, Helen Lester's little gem rates ***** kindergarten stars!

If you haven't checked out Jenn's latest and best post EVER--you absolutely have have have to click my link and go over to Breed'Em and Weep and read "ATTN: Teenage Boys"!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Giving Tree

We had a guest reader in afternoon kindergarten today. She brought one of the Shel Silverstein books, The Giving Tree. He is one of my favorite children's authors, but I always have mixed feelings about The Giving Tree.

It's a story about a tree who loves a little boy. The boy enjoys climbing her branches, eating her apples, and sleeping in her cool shade. The boy grows up, as boys will, and returns less and less often. So far it sounds a lot like Puff and Little Jackie Paper, right?

The boy is never happy on his return visits to his childhood friend and always seems to need something--he's a bit of a user.

The tree is always happy to help him, sharing her apples to for him to sell, her branches to use as lumber for his house, and even her trunk so he can build a boat to sail during his mid-life crisis. All she has left is an old stump--yet, even so, she is happy to have helped.

It winds up aptly enough with the boy too toothless to eat apples, too stiff to climb and too tired to go adventuring. At that point, all he needs is a place to sit and rest. Voila! The stump is gladly shared.

Is it just me? Did I totally lose the metaphor behind this? Is this supposed to be a sweet story about unselfish love and devotion? 'Cause I sure don't see it that way.

I have no problem with her sharing an renewable resource with him. Millions of us give to charity as well we should. Helping the less fortunate is nothing less than right and proper. Turning to a friend when we need a helping hand is fine.

The sacrifice of her branches for his house is incredibly generous. I don't know how many of us would make a sacrifice that would permanently impact our well-being. But doesn't it seem to make him a heartless user? Why doesn't he have some sentimental feelings towards the branches that cradled him during his youthful days of play? And the illustrations make it clear that he doesn't merely prune a few to construct his home; he takes them all, leaving behind a trunk that makes the slash-and-burn ethic of farmers in the rainforest look pretty harmless.

Besides, what's keeping him from going out and getting a job and earning the money for a house? Slacker.

Then Mr. Mid-life Crisis comes and actually accepts her trunk so he can look for happiness. She's left bereft. Hey, I can't even comment on this one; it's just beyond belief to me. My jaw just flaps in the breeze. At this point, it's obvious that he's not ever going to be happy anyway.

Okay... maybe that is the point. He takes, takes, takes and never once gives and is never happy. Whereas the tree is a giver and both happy and content. Rotten moral.

I think the tree undervalues herself. Doesn't she deserve some love? Is it right to make sacrifice after sacrifice? Can't she recognize the grown kid is a leech? Does that make her an enabler?

I'm going on record here--the boy could have used a little tough love as he grew. Something along the lines of the Whomping Willow would be overkill, but not by much.

I envision a story where the boy learned to work hard instead of whining, lived in a nice brick structure with his family and brought his children back to the tree to climb and play and nap after a nice snack of healthy fresh organic apples. Nature benefits, the boy matures, his children get to experience a part of his childhood, the world prospers: a full circle of appreciation and enjoyment.

I don't know. Maybe it's thoughts of Earth Day creeping up on me. Maybe it's just because it's my job to get my kindergartners ready for the challenges of first grade no matter how adorable they are. Who knows?

I'll take Where the Sidewalk Ends instead, anytime, anywhere.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Walkin' On Sunshine


That's the song on the radio as I drove home for lunch. It just fit my mood perfectly with a mild day and flowers growing everywhere in the yard.
Hyacinths, creeping phlox, violas, daffodil remnants and the odd persistent dandelion.
We've had hyacinths from our first year here, but it wasn't until last year that I bought a Costco-sized bag of hyacinths bulbs in all the colors of the rainbow. They have settled in and are rewarding us with a joyous burst of color.
I fell in love with creeping phlox soon after moving to northern Nevada and just thought the pink variety was perfect. This was before I found out how prickly the leaves can be as they age, but now I remind myself not to get prickly myself as birthday after birthday rolls around. I have fewer than before, and I'm quite strict with their size and cut them back severely, but every Spring I am reminded of how much I really do like them. I've since found wild species growing and blooming in restrained pastels along my wildland hikes. Unfussy, drought-resistant and colorful in March.
Violas, johnny-jump-ups, and pansies have always delighted me. Pansies are particular about too much water, so I focus on the violas which are both perennial and provide me with interesting volunteers from their unrestrained and unsupervised hybridizing. Their cousins, the johnny-jump-ups, have such great patterns and unique color combinations that I can't resist buying them. They look great with all the Spring bulbs and provide color till the snow flies.
The very healthy dandelion is so close to the weeping birch trunk and usually surrounded by crocus leaves, so it escapes most of my herbicide attacks. I've tried painting RoundUp on its leaves, but it just laughs and keeps on growing. It keeps me busy picking off its flowers before they can go to seed and spread. Such is a gardener's life though. A little work, a little persistence, a little patience and a lot of enjoyment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yellow


My favorite color!


The scrapbook page isn't done, but at least I have one photo for it and I have the journalling drafted although I haven't picked out the perfect font yet.
May I say I just love Spring?! Daffodils and hyacinths and violas bursting with blooms. Even the weather is exuberant. My lawn is emerald and I will actually NEED TO MOW IT. SOON.
I'm in heaven.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Just Wait Five Minutes

We've gone from a fabulous (and unusual) 70 degrees to snow within hours. It is so Reno. We always say, just wait five minutes and the weather will change.

Although we may talk about it, we know that we can't let the weather stop us around here, or else nothing would ever get done. Mostly we can dress for it and then ignore it as we go about our activities.

Today might have been an exception. Our first scheduled soccer game was this afternoon. We knew Saturday that we would have to wear warm long sleeved turtlenecks under the jerseys and probably have hats and gloves. So we were prepared, sort of.

Turned out that this morning was lovely, a little breezy around lunch, gusts of winds that had us all exclaming by afternoon recess, dark clouds by early afternoon, rain by rush hour and full out snow shortly thereafter.

So we got soaked to the bone by the rain, chilled to our marrow by the winds, and frozen more solidly than a popsicle by the snow on the field. And it was a "friendly"--which doesn't even count toward league standings!

Guess it makes us look like real athletes that we'd even turn out for a game in weather like that instead of a bunch of girlie girls? Or does it just make us look crazy?

Anyway, it's a fast mover and if you live east of Nevada (pretty much everyone) get yourself prepared because it's heading your way. Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

From Above

Thundering Voice (reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz only coming from above): What were you thinking!

Me (meekly): I just wanted Spring Break.

Thundering Voice: Did I not give you nine whole days with no schedules or alarm clocks?

Me (whining): Well, yeah, but I wanted to go South.

Thundering Voice: South! Did I not give you the warmest, most perfect Spring weather that Reno has ever had.

Me: Yeah, I guess.

Thundering Voice (growing ominous): You guess! Did the temperatures not break records? Did you not frolic in your garden. Did I not cause the flowers to bloom especially for your happiness?

Me: Well, yeah.

Thundering Voice: I showed you friends who also stayed home during Spring Break and were joyful. Did you follow their example? Did you not take the hint from Jenn's email about Berkshire weather?

Me: (silent)

Thundering Voice: No! Still I heard whining and petty complaints. Perhaps I did not give you enough. I shall give you more and see if you appreciate what you have. (Quiet Cosmic Sigh.)

The person playing me will now begin to feel her sinuses grow heavy. Her energy levels will drop. Soon in Act II we will see her take to her bed with excruciating headaches that no amount of medicines will alleviate. Before Act II ends she will begin to wheeze and breathing will hurt.

Most of Act III will take place with our protagonist flat on her back, thinking of how nice the weather is and how her garden is calling her to finish pruning the fruit trees. She will wish she had appreciated sunny skies and happy friends and bright flowers. She will sadly think of her nasty disposition and know she deserves her chastisement. She will regret wasting the beginning of her vacation as she watches the last four days of it disappear forever.

***
The Thundering Voice got my attention--I can be a little dense about my blessings sometimes. I take back every negative thought and pout. I will be a good girl. I will be happy about finally returning to work; I will be grateful for a husband who brought me lots of fluids to drink; I will accept the good things in my life and not think I deserve so much more.

(And in the future if I am not content, I will be discontent quietly and with grace.)

I learned my lesson.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sinus 1, Pogonip 0

Thank God the Pack won their game in overtime, even if Fazekas fouled out, because I'm not winning my war.

Who knew sinuses could hold 50 lbs. of fluid?

I'm fighting back--I feel like a water truck right now. At least I'm vertical for the first time today.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Colors of the Day

I have to clean my (formerly) lovely red Forester today--inside and out. The circle window above my computer is driving me insane with its dusty winter coating of grime, so I'll crawl out on the roof and have it glistening. And although I love soccer, today's first practice of the season has to be planned, and that's jsut the start of my biggest time-stealer.

For myself, I'm going to start on the color scrapbook page today. Colors are so evocative and incredibly personal that a page about my personal favorites will tell something about me. It seemed a little selfish to scrapbook about myself at first. Then I realized that we have almost no photos of the family photographer--I could just disappear if I didn't do something about it. My kids and future grandkids might appreciate knowing my story someday. Or they might not and I might just do it for myself...

My latest issue of Memory Makers got me inspired and there is a notepad next to my side of the bed with colorful ideas jotted down late at night. And I may not be able to currently access many of my craft supplies, but my scrapbooking goodies are easily accessible in the desk.

I'll be a good girl and complete my list of chores first. Then some time for me. Dare I hope for a dollhouse day and something creative to share? Keep your fingers crossed. I'll stay focused!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blogoversary

I can't believe that it's been a whole year since I began Pogonip eNVy. I've managed to squeeze in 64 posts--some weeks were leisurely, some weren't. Sometimes I had something to say, sometimes I didn't and said it anyway.

I discovered Blogger out of frustration. I like composing in HTML, but troubleshooting the unexpected results in Large ISP-Land was more effort than I wanted to expend. I've loved the convenience of Blogger every since.

My favorite blogs are the Kharma yarns. When you have the world's cutest puppy, it's hard not to enthuse. She's not getting any less delightful so she'll probably continue to be the star of the show (said the loving mommy). The agility jumps and beginning weave poles are in the yard, so the successes and challenges of dog training will start popping up. The K dog is looking pretty sweet with all the brushing she's been getting in the ongoing effort to free us of dog hair. The dog photo show will continue.

And then there was the dollhouse decorating extravaganza. I look back and am amazed at how well it turned out. I can look at my scrapbooking pile and see how many false starts it took until the right combinations of paper evolved. I love the little country farmhouse and I'm looking forward to watching the Princess play with her dollhouse this summer. It was one project that GOT DONE.

My garden and the weather received a fair amount of attention too. With our record breaking temperatures and all the vacation time I've been able to spare to clean up, the backyard chronicles will make an appearance again. It's so nice not to have leaves everywhere and the lawn actually turned green in one day. Really.

Pretty ordinary stuff. No apologies though--that's my life. Like it says up there at the top: "It's the little things that make life enjoyable".

I probably would have blogged more had it not been for my favorites' list of blogs that I regularly read. They are a thoughtful, funny, touching group of moms (and gentledad)--all of whom are far more talented than I could hope to be. Chana, Amber, Jenn, Jen, Ree, Wood and Dutch are such a part of my life. I log on and catch up and find that bedtime slipped by as I visited with my friends from around the country. There are only so many hours in a day and I'm afraid I've neglected my blog for theirs sometimes. I'm inspired by their ability to parent and work and still blog so regularly.

My mantra during year two--"If they can do it, so can I."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Trip

It's Spring Break. At least, I think it is. Because I firmly believe Spring Break involves continental breakfasts, beds that other people fix, and towels that other folks pick up for you and I'm stuck here at home. There are good reasons to be stuck here, but they would not be my reasons, given my druthers.

I really wanted to go South. To Albuquerque to see the Eldest and The Girls. To tease Liyah and bring a housewarming present to Deni. To give Pierre the hugs he didn't get in December. To visit Walnut Canyon in the daylight this time on the way down. To see if the cafe in Gallup still has the best chile rellenos going--the kind that make you break out in sweat as your tastebuds tap dance. To swing north into the O'Keefe landscapes of northern NM with my oil pastels in tow. To tour Mesa Verde. And maybe, in my wildest dreams, have enough time to return to Canyonlands.

Instead, today we dropped by Winco to grab more peppercorns and turbinado sugar...and the Arizona license plate on the Honda parked next to us is as close as I'm getting to my vacation wish.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunrise


Somebody woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. Somebody got to see the sunrise though.
Then somebody sorted through old patterns--patterns from when we were dating, patterns for nieces, patterns for men (not a large category), maternity patterns, Halloween costume patterns, and a few miscellaneous craft patterns. The pattern box was pretty empty when I finished.
Then I went through large boxes of quilting fabrics. I realized that if I just cut up the fabric for their intended uses, I'd cut down on boxes. So, time to cut up all the blue jean fabric from family jeans collected over the past 15 years and get ready to sew them into a crazy quilt. Or two. And time to fuse the backing onto the tee shirts and begin on making each boy a tee shirt quilt. That gets rid of three boxes right there. Even if I don't start sewing right away.
I also glanced through some cherished old quilt magazines and came up with some ideas for my (rather limited) stash of flannels. Perhaps a Christmas quilt since they are all reds and greens? Then there are some nice graphic quilt blocks that would use up some of my "clothes too old to wear but too beloved to throw away so keep them for quilt projects" stash. And lastly, I was inspired by a yoyo quilt to begin using all those bitty remnants that are just not my color or style or just defy any category but that I can't throw away. I'm making a circle template for cutting and one for the 1/4 inch sewing line. My TV time is about to get very productive!
Then I went back to bed and pulled the covers over my head and slept for another three hours.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spring Back

How lovely for my inner clock to wake me at its accustomed weekday time and find that it's an hour later and I've managed to sleep in without even trying.

I love Daylight Savings Time. I wake up with the sunrise anyway (no getting out of that with an east-facing bedroom). That does not mean that I have enough control to leap out of bed one second earlier than I have to, light or no light.

My taxes have done their work and done it well. The powers-that-be have not only given me back my PDT, but also started it earlier this year. And they miraculously synchronized it with my Spring Break so I don't have to get up for work an hour earlier tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of Washington D.C. right about now, but at least they got one thing right this year. No make that this decade. (But that's another story.)

Days are now longer. I now have time to garden after work and walk the dog and exercise. It's truly amazing what a difference one hour can make. But I guess anyone who's waited that whole long 60-second minute for the microwave to ding knows how time can be stretched.

What do parents in the poor benighted deprived non-daylight-saving-time states do? Hey, kids don't do clocks, we all know that. They wake up when they are ready and that's usually linked to sunrise. The return of daylight savings has always meant that I can stop hating my boys for rising at some uncivilized hour. I think of daylight savings as a necessary government mandate to bring the rest of the population in line with the lives that the important part of the country (parents of young children) were already living.