Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viva Espana!

Yippee, yippee, yippee! Can you tell I'm glad Spain beat Germany in the Euro 2008 final? I respect German talent, but Spain is just more fun to watch. If I can tell you the names of the defense and midfield, the team must be good.

Tournament thoughts: the Netherlands were the most entertaining team and Ruud is a cutie (I'd say he was totally hot but my son might not approve of his mom's thoughts in that direction). I've been conditioned to cheer for teams wearing orange ever since E's team (Zephyr Orange) won state. Turkey was the Cinderella team with come-from-behind wins time and again. I rooted for them knowing that Cencis and his staff were probably just insane with pride at their performance. France, I'm sorry, was lackluster. The goal in the thirty-fourth minute was sweet. Three against one and determination and talent won out. I love it!

I love knowing that friends around the world are watching with me--Turks and Spaniards and French relatives, Croatians and Mongolians.

My sweetie even said he was hoping to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch in far-off Mongolia. He's been sick on the other side of the world recently, so if he slept in he's forgiven. He can watch a replay when he gets home twenty-eight hours from now.

Is there anything better than a Jane Austen novel?

I don't think so.

I'm a Jane Austen fan. Aren't we all? So I couldn't resist this quiz "Which Austen Heroine Are You?

My result? I'm happy to report that

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

I love every movie version of her books, but my favorite is the complete set of BBC productions that my sweetie got me last Christmas. I think they must have every line of dialogue from her novels.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In Which I Get a Little Scentimental

My sweetie bought me this outrageously-priced rose at Moana Lane Nursery because I just fell in love with its unusual beauty and fragrance.That was several years ago and we've been lucky to get three blossoms on "Scentimental" each year. I've been blaming the lack of flowers on the shade cast by our cherry tree, but since we cut down our oak the rose has been blooming wildly. Each day brings more buds to be relished and enjoyed and marveled at. So...lose an oak tree, gain a rose! Then I found this baby rose during my Portland visit and couldn't resist bringing it home. It looks like a one-fourth scale model of the full-size tea rose.

I think the two roses, planted in the same bed, will give us many hours of enjoyment during al fresco summer meals. Or as I fill the dogs' water bowl or turn on the garden hose or sweep the patio or attack the ants or...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Simple Tip Number 3

I love my boys. No, actually I adore my boys. I've doted on them since the moment of their births. First smiles, first steps, first words, first ride on a two-wheeler...they are all engraved lovingly in my memory.

Then they began school. School began sending home drawings and papers and homework. And more paintings and more homework. And more and more. Do you think I could throw any of that away?

Surprise! I actually did throw quite a lot away. Mostly homework, naturally.

I couldn't bring myself to throw away those wonderful, sweet, innocent, lovely kindergarten drawings though. As a result, I stored a map tube on a closet shelf, a tube filled with paintings rendered on yucky, faded, big construction paper.

Then my sweetie needed a home office so I emptied a guest room for him. Recently, son #2 needed a place to stay when he and his puppy lost their lease, so I grabbed my boxes and bins and successfully emptied my craft room/guest room for his use. The tube of children's drawing surfaced but this time I didn't have any good place to store it.

What to do. What to do. Then inspiration struck.

My trusty digital camera and I took a walk down memory lane. I now have photos of each drawing.

I possess photos of the captions dictated by some much-younger kidlets.

I snapped close-ups of some darling little details.

And then I filed the originals in that wonderfully useful circular file. No, really, I did.

(Okay, maybe I cut my favorite into one a twelve-by-twelve piece for scrapbooking. But I'm no longer storing kids' paintings anywhere but my hard drive, backed up by my Costco photo account and a CD.)

And I plan to scrap the best of the photos into scrapbook pages later this summer. I love it when I can have my cake and eat it too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Julia Child, Karen Blixen and Princess Di

Names of just a few of the many roses we saw at the International Rose Garden in Washington Park. Why International? No idea. Why Washington Park when we were in Oregon? Again, no idea. (Okay, I admit I'm too lazy to Google it.) The roses were at their absolute peak though and we even had an overcast day to make our stroll more comfortable.

My two favorite roses were prominently displayed: Iceberg, an almost thornless white rose with a beautiful bud that's foolproof to grow, and Peace, which is the best rose ever bred. Hey, it's not just my opinion--way back when Y2K rolled around Peace was named Rose of the Century.

I took enough photos to illustrate a book on roses. Some of them even turned out okay.

Love and Peace--spectacular color and pretty much Pooh's favorite.

Diana, Princess of Wales--sometimes the rose and the name are a perfect match.

Julia Child--the group favorite.

Jean Giono--I received this one as a teacher gift from a kindergartener a couple of years ago and it didn't make it through the winter and I've been unable to find another plant. Now I have a couple of photos of it instead.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rose City

Good lord the rose blossoms are huge here. It can't be the heavy clay soil or the fifteen seconds of sun every day. They must love the moisture.

I love the site Just Our Pictures (of roses). When I see a new rose that's a possibility for our garden, I check to see what their photos show. So...note to self: take camera when going to the nursery next time.

Hoping for some sun today, but even without it the roses, peonies and ceonothus are spectacular. I don't think I've ever been here in June before. The flowers are more than worth the trip!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Queen Mother and I are off on a little adventure and I acquiesced when she wanted to drive her car. It''s pretty comfy, I got used to driving an automatic trannie and eventually stopped trying to use my left foot to shift.

It was even nice to switch drivers and stretch my knees out once in a while. I did most of the driving though and kept marvelling at how the gas gauge kept staying at half even when we were pulling up the Siskiyou grade.

Except it turns the gas gauge was on the other side of the display and I was looking at the temperature gauge instead.


Friday, June 13, 2008


I finally unearthed my vast collection of Roxy t-shirts, standard summer wear with shorts and jeans. And I discovered that the adidas shorts I got from Costco have pockets. I love pockets! So I think a return trip for more would be a good idea before the rest of Reno discovers them.

My rainbow of t-shirts in every shade of blue, aqua, white, ivory and tan as well as black and red is neatly hung in our closet. What's that you ask? Where are all my teacher clothes? Get ready for Tip #2 from my summer cleanup: Space bags, my friends, space bags. Space bags layered in storage containers and then vacuumed. It's amazing how many clothes can fit in a container that way.

The pond project? Don't ask. Well, don't ask YET. I'll get there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

101 Pollywogs

It doesn't have the same ring as 101 Dalmations, does it? They're all I've got though.

On walks and bike rides I've been searching every puddle, pond and creek for possible wildlife. Why? Because I have plans for a pond and therefore must have mini-froglets to put into the pond. The pond that will someday be. The pond is still just a glimmer in my eye because I have priorities. Yes, I have a list of things that need doing and I've mentally prioritized the various tasks.

The pond is much lower in importance than the chaos that currently reigns at our house. I have piles all over my house and everytime I clean them up I create more piles. The chaos is driving me crazy and has begun swallowing important things that are lying out in plain sight. Like my camera.

I'd really rather be working on a pond. It sounds like a lot more fun and it doesn't involve housework. It's a variation on gardening. Much more fun than chores inside. Plus I must have bought a hundred dollars worth of plants over the past month; plants that can only be planted after the pond is dug. So maybe it's actually a higher priority than I think?

And now I have ninety-nine tadpoles (I gave away two to the neighbors) currently residing in a bucket. I'm not keeping all of them. I'm donating several to the Queen Mother's pond and plan to repopulate Alum Creek as well. I'm keeping just a few for my pond. And I found my camera but it took me so long that the batteries were dead, so I can't even show you how cute my ninety-nine little critters look in their bucket. Now I can't find the battery charger.

Maybe if I don't sleep, I can conquer my piles and piles? And can begin building a pond soon? Because time and tadpoles wait for no woman.

I want to state right here that summer is not going quite the way I had planned.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Busy Bees Make a Mess

I've moved from landscaping at the Queen Mother's (turning lawn into lilacs and roses) to my own nest. I'm bouncing from one project to another with enthusiasm.

  • Two lavender bushes joined the other perennials by the mailbox, along with a hollyhock and a daisy mum. They should all love the sunny exposure there.
  • I finished cutting the pussywillow branches into itty bitty pieces and loaded them into the garbage for pickup tomorrow.
  • Then I disinfected my tools, since the willow has issues, and started pruning back the Japanese maple. Now the flower bed underneath it has some sun, finally. Wow! I've been itching to attack that maple for months; it likes its location way too much and just grew like a weed.
  • Since I was in the vicinity, I began removing deadwood from the lilac trees.
  • Now my front lawn is covered with tree branches and my garbage cans are full. Good thing they'll be empty tomorrow.
  • I have three bags of books to take to the Paperback Exchange later today.
  • As well as four boxes of goodies for the SPCA thrift store.
  • The new motion detector light for the front porch is unwrapped, the instructions are committed to memory, and I'm ready to install it as soon as it cools down a little on the porch.
  • Erkie Pie and I moved his hand-me-down patio table and chairs into our backyard.
  • I watched the re-broadcast of Euro 2008: Netherlands 3-Italy 0. Ruud Van Nistelrooy is hot (and not just in scoring goals).
  • I got up at 6:30 to hike with friends. Funny how quickly I tallied three thousand steps and have only added another thousand since.
  • Kharma, the clicker and I are still working on backing up on command. She's getting the idea.

Time to scoot, empty my car of bags, select some new paperbacks and get started on the new light. I LOVE summer!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Discovery Channel

If you stuff a Kong with a little peanut butter (organic, of course, nothing's too good for the pups), add a handful of kibble and seal the hole with mushed up will keep the pups occupied while you're away. No, duh.

If you do a good enough job of mashing up the bread, it's very hard for the doggies to get it out by licking or chewing. And with no opposible thumbs, they have a hard time using sticks or other long objects to coax it out so they can get at the good stuff inside.

If you don't check the Kong for a few days, it is also a great way to feed the local grease-eating ant population. So that there can be more of them. Like having the entire brick patio turn into one large ant-hive isn't enough already.

If you accidentally bring the Kong inside and lay it on the counter to refill without checking the innards, ants come along for the ride. I have plenty of awe and respect for the gift of Life, but the ants got smashed anyway when I discovered them roaming the counter. (There's some rule about Open Season if the ants are inside instead of outside, isn't there?) I was pretty stoked that I had my glasses on to actually SEE and destroy the little pests and take care of the minor glitch in Kong etiquette.

That was this morning. This afternoon I vacuumed the carpet and swept the kitchen. When I bent down to dust-buster the sweepings, what did I ant. And then another, and another. GRRRR.

Kongs--the gift that keeps on giving!

My dilemna...were those leftover ants from the Kong episode or were they scouts from the patio colony foraying for new sources of nutrition for little ant larvae ripening in the nest?

Moving on, I swept the wonderful new ceramic tile that I adore in the refurbished laundry room and bent down again to dust-buster the leavings, only to make another discovery. When I re-texturized the walls, using my friend the air compressor, I apparently forgot to wipe down the door jams.

So add another project to the list, cleaning up the construction mess (not hard, take wet towel and wipe well). Kinda makes me feel sorry for all those hard-working contractors who have to deal with picky homeowners complaining about the mess that someone left behind. It's easier to do than I would have thought.

And now that I think of it, I never did repaint the ceilings in the laundry and powder rooms......

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tip Number One

Got clutter? Welcome to a summer of tips on how to get rid of things. I have a lot of things. I have a lot of clutter. I have a problem with throwing things away. But, I have found some ways to outwit my piles and I'm happy to share them as I go through the summer rediscovering how to bring some order into our home and peace into our life.

Now presenting Numero Uno (flourish of trumpets, please):

Do you collect articles that might be useful someday? Perhaps one on past presidents that we now admire, but who probably couldn't be elected today? From 1998? That you've stored all this time? (Yeah, me too.)

So today I fired up our scanner, scanned the entire article, stored it tidily on my hard drive and threw away the original article. Ditto for the one about the UC Davis quad during the '70s. Ditto for the one about the V&T railroad. Ditto, ditto, ditto.

The wastepaper basket is full, but I have an entire pile that's GONE!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

They're YOURS Now

Parents, I feel your pain.

School is out and tomorrow morning when you wake up, YOU get to figure out what to do to keep them busy and out of mischief. When they have little hissy fits with their siblings, they're YOURS. When playdates go south with tears and/or words, YOU get to take to them about using nice words with their friends. When they have activated their selective listening skills, YOU get to figure out how to get their attention.

Okay, I'll help you with that last one. Because I'm nice like that. Just whisper "do you want some ice cream?" in your softest voice, preferably a whole room away. Then, when all eyes are fastened eagerly in your direction, you can ask them to clean their rooms.

I love them all. I cried when I got my fifty-seven little hugs and said goodbye. I especially cried over my little guy that is moving back to California because I won't see him next year like the other almost-first-graders. How do teachers with high transient rates handle it? Because we lost two kindergartners this year. (Okay, we didn't actually lose them, because that wouldn't be very professional. It's more like we unwillingly allowed their parents to move them to another school. It was hard for us, but we figured that it would be even harder for their families to live in a different state than their kids. The sacrifices we teachers make sometimes.) And our two little transfers are still in our hearts. But they are YOURS now.

And tomorrow morning, there will be no alarm clock blaring in my ear. I'll lie in bed and plan a day of things that do not include teaching. I'll garden if it's nice and sew if it isn't. I'll use the Furminator on Kharma. I'll cook something time-consuming. I'll go for a walk with my summer walking companions (hurray!) and I'll start lifting weights again. I'll wear short or jeans and a Roxy shirt. I'll pull my hair back into a ponytail and find some hippie earrings to wear. I'll take photos and play with Movie Maker. I'll waste time reading a silly novel outside in the sun. It sounds good. It sounds relaxing.

I love summer's slower pace of life.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Nine and a Half

Hours till the end of the school year.

Want to ask me how many minutes that is? I could tell you!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Little by little, it's getting filled back up.