Friday, December 25, 2009

I Love You All

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

'tis the season

to be tired.

The countdown is on, and although I think we are completely stocked for all necessary gifts, I am not done sewing this year's gift bags. I first sewed gift bags last Christmas, but apparently we had many long, skinny gifts last year and the bags don't fit this year's gifts.

The bags are exceedingly simple. I sew them out of fabric that has no "wrong" side - looks the same on either side. I cut out a long rectangle of fabric that I then fold into a shorter rectangle. I cut out a length of ribbon long enough to tie into a generous bow, fold it in half, and then I pin the folded ribbon end into one of the sides of the folded rectangle, about 1/3 of the way from the top. I sew up the sides (the ribbon is sewn into the seam), finish the seams so they don't fray, hem the top and then turn it inside out. Voila! Stuff a gift in the bag and tie the ribbon. Batik fabrics look especially pretty for these bags. We have a wild rainbow of prints and colors under the tree this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Opossum #4

I relocated yet another juvenile possum this morning. We suspect a litter was born somewhere in our yard, probably inside The Rosebush That Time Forgot. Hopefully this was the last one. They like to eat the cat food, and they spook the chickens when they sniff around the coop, trying to steal eggs.

I take them way down the creek channel and release them on the other side of the freeway, in the trees alongside the creek. This was the first time I've been down since the floods last week, so I was able to check out all the new debris that washed up on the banks. I retrieved some excellent bamboo canes that will make either garden fence poles or trellises for peas, and saw some other good branches and lumber that I will retrieve later if I can - our section is concreted and steep-sided. Today is all about cleaning the main room of the house, since we have company coming on Friday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vermin in Ermine

An actual cool fall. Amazing. We are 11 days from the actual solstice, and it's chilly and damp. So much so that I had to get out my rabbit fur coat last night so as not to freeze at our Relief Society progressive party. Brrr!

Bonfire Christmas Party. Next Friday the 18th. My backyard. Potluck, bring firewood if you can. We'll have cocoa and spiced cider and wassail and possibly some caroling if we get silly enough.

We played hooky this week and tried to go snowshoeing. Disaster! The snow was dry, deep powder, and the road was only plowed to just past Mtn. High so the terrain was too steep. We tried, but Eli fell too much and got wet and cold and started screaming. Then we had to flounder our way back up the hillside to the car. Very little fun was had. Hopefully Yosemite will be better.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

@#$%& Earwigs!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUGHHHHHH!

They ate my mizuna mustard. I finally got it to germinate, and the $#@%#%!! earwigs ate it all. I cannot go to the #$@% nursery and buy a flat of mizuna. I will try to track down a Japanese nursery, but in the meantime I start all over. I loathe earwigs. They are the scum of the Arthropoda.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fantasyland

I'll get the bad news out of the way first. The wee girl chick died as well. The flock stays at eight for now.

We just got back from a visit to my northern California family, which involved a little tiny bit of scoping out potential places to live if Dan is offered a job up there. I don't want to get my hopes up, even though we saw some beautiful places and in comparison to Orange County it's CHEEEP up there. There are some opportunities for him, and very close to my Uncle Alan and his wonderful daughters, plus within 1 and 2 hours of my other paternal uncles. So of the list in out head of where we want to go if we leave OC, norCal is tops at the moment.

Fantasy: Dan's company sells, at which point his stock vests fully and we sell it. He lasts a couple more months with the new owners, but is then laid off and still gets two month's severance pay. We then head for Chico, or whichever Cal State has the cheapest cost of living and a masters/credential program in math or computer engineering. We live cheapo for 2 years and then Dan comes out double-barreled: MSCE and credentialed for teaching. I'll finish my degree someday too, one course at a time...

In the meantime, all is well here. We have enough backup plans that I'm back to not being worried about the future. The garden mostly survived me being gone for six days, but it needs water today or I'll lose a few more seedlings. Salt the hen is still broody, I'll have to go back to locking her out of the coop all day now that I'm back. If she keeps this up much longer than a month, she may have to fulfill her destiny sooner than we'd bargained for. I hope not, as I am still very squeamish about slaughtering. But I reckon I'd be hypocrite if i couldn't do it - after all, I haven't been able to quit eating animals, so I should be honest about it and be willing to do the dirty work myself. Ick.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crispness

Fall! It's downright surreal, but this has almost felt like a real Autumn, not just an angry extension of summer. Of course I'm cold all the time, but that's because I am apparently a reptile woman.

The raised beds in the front yard are almost all planted in with collard greens, cauliflower, four different kinds of lettuce, cabbage, bok choi, cilantro, arugula, and chard. Today I will be ripping out the last of the pumpkin vines, except for the Cinderella, which at some point actually decided to give me one beautiful little pumpkin. I will let her go until she dies out herself. The "winter tomatoes" are growing beautifully, but I fear that this wonderfully cool Fall means the tomatoes will never ripen. The eggplant is full and lush, but sloooow to fruit, again because of the cool weather.

We were given two black sex-link chicks that a young lady I am acquainted with found in a box on the sidewalk. One little rooster and one little hen. One of our full-grown hens, Salt, is broody right now (meaning she wants to hatch eggs, which is NEVER going to happen), so I tried to "graft" the chicks to her. Failed. The little rooster died in the night and the little hen is back inside under the heat lamp next to the snake, who is VERY interested in her. We had to block his view, which calmed him down. The poor girl is all alone and I will probably end up buying her a sister to grow up with. I am a sucker extraordinaire. At least I said no to the turtles I was offered! Although if they had been tortoises I would have been tempted...

And Dan still has a job. A letter was finally issued: Dan's division is up for sale, but nobody is losing their job. For now. I told Dan to do whatever he wants - stick with it and be optimistic, or look for other opportunities. He's choosing to be optimistic. For now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Campin' Out

Phew! Full weekend. Went camping with our relatively new friends the Wilsons on Friday night. Paul and Eli LOVED having other kids to play with - typically we camp alone and other kids are in short supply. It was coooold and campfires were banned, so we used a fake propane-powered campfire thingy Dan bought a while ago, similar to this one. I teased him horribly when he bought it, but now I officially eat every one of those words. I married a visionary. That fake campfire saved the evening. The kids burned marshmallows over it, I played the guitar poorly while we sat around it, and we stayed up waaaay late just talkin' and scooting closer and closer to it as the night grew colder and colder. In the morning, the Wilsons cooked everybody breakfast and then we hiked to the Ortega Oaks candy store. After that, we finished the San Juan Loop trail, broke camp and headed home.

Saturday night Dan and I went to the O'Briens for a digital slide show of a backpacking trip Dan, another Dan (Julia's Dan), Brett, and Terry went on back in August. I wasn't able to go on the backpacking trip, but I still enjoyed the re-living. Although by 9:30 I was almost asleep on their couch. Remember I am an old woman now and can't handle that much excitement in one day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Ain't Quit Yet

Life's just boring. Dan still has a job. I put a whole bunch of plants in the boxes in the front yard. I've started a lot of stuff from seed, including lots of fun asian winter crops - kailan, mitsuba, red mustard, mizuna. Paul started cross-country training today. My guitar playing improves at a slow, painful pace. We're going on a camping trip this Friday night with some friends from our ward. I'm going to build either a langstroth or a tanzanian beehive, once I find some super-idiot-proof instructions, because Jessica (who I have never even met!) has offered me a hive nucleus from her holyhoney brood. The pumpkin vines are coming out. I need to plant peas. Blah blah blah. Off to guitar class now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Never heard anything about the house. Oh well.

The hostile takeover is happening. This just means continued limbo. Dan is considering updating his resume and looking outside of CA. I'd settle for looking elsewhere in CA, but am open to adventures in other states.

We finally closed escrow last week. We are extra glad to be rid of it now, given the job insecurity.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nothing Yet. No Really, NOTHING.

No answer about the house. I may send her a followup letter in November, just to settle my mind.

No news about the takeover. We're actually still cool about it, it's only the limbo that bugs me.

Have I mentioned we are still in escrow? After two months? I'd like to slash somebody's tires, I just don't know whose. The buyer's bank just keeps delaying, and delaying, and delaying. We had to get ANOTHER grant deed notarized today because the bank wanted the names in a different order. I want to scream. Our realtor was talking about getting a retroactive per diem penalty paid to us, but I'll believe it when I see it. At this point, I believe nothing anybody says to me. I'll believe when I have that check in my hot little hands.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mailed It!

I mailed the letter - it went out on Wednesday. It should arrive in Michigan today or tomorrow, right? I will try not to be on tenterhooks - the lady may just throw it in the trash and never contact me. I worry that my offer was a little too low, but then maybe she's out of touch with local rent rates? $18,000 a year with no effort on her part isn't too bad, though. She could get much more in rent if she wanted, but then she'd have to arrange for contractors and such long-distance. I should neaten up the front yard, just in case she still has friends in the neighborhood and sends them over to spy on us. I just planted collard greens in the front yard boxes, but the yard is still empty. With the watering restrictions, I didn't bother doing anything in the front yard after the first crops failed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ohhhh yessssss

Dan says he can't seriously consider quitting his job to go vagabond right now. He's right, we would be better served to keep squirreling away our cash for a bit longer. BUT he says if he gets laid off it's a whole other story. So that's what I need to be prepared for.

If it happens? Ohhhh, the world is such a wonderful, delightful, mysterious place. And the internet is the best, just the best. WWOOF (world wide opportunities on organic farms) coordinates farm owners/operators with volunteers who work on the farms in exchange for lodging and food from the farm. There are eight pages of farms in California alone who will accept families with children. I think hippie farming communes are in our future.

EDIT: It seems not as many farms are kid-friendly as I thought. But there are enough. Still keeping this one in our back pocket.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Odd Anniversaries

We've been in this house for two years now. I'm over it. I need to mail off that letter to the lady who owns the empty house down the street, to see if she'd be willing to rent to us. I'm offering below-market rent in exchange for her having to do nothing at all. The house has been vacant a few years and I'm sure there are lots of little fixes required to make it livable. I'm good at that.

Dan and I have been together for fifteen years. FIFTEEN. We are so very old. I've known him for almost seventeen years. It's kind of mind-blowing. I've known my husband for half of my life now.

Which reminds me, fifteen years deserves a big ol' whopping party. I'm thinking April 16th or 17th next year. What say you - Friday or Saturday? Even if we go vagabond, we'll come back to CA and have a blowout. Should I make it kids-welcome, or should I make it a chance for us to party like grownups? I was thinking of making it grownups only and then offering limited babysitting for people who have absolutely no other option, but then we'd have to have it at the church instead of in our yard, so we can keep the kids contained in the nursery room. I want pretty lights and dancing. Do we all still love to dance?

Cat in the Coop

At roughly 3:50 this morning, Paul came into our bedroom and said "What's going on with the chickens? They're making a bunch of noise." Of course I thought: "raccoons!" Since I fell asleep still dressed (I was exhausted!), I jumped out of bed and ran as fast as I could (which was pretty impressive, since my ankle still ain't right). The girls were clucking and I could hear a lot of rushing and thumping going on inside. The door to the coop was ajar by less than 2 inches (that's what I get for trusting the boys to close up), so I wrestled it open and immediately two chickens ran out. I was armed with an old, dried out palm frond I had scooped up off the ground, so when a small light-colored cat darted out, my swing at him/her had no effect. If I didn't know better, I'd be suspicious that it was Blondie in there, although I haven't seen how fast he can move with that paralyzed arm (he can still get over the walls and onto the roof). It was too dark and too fast to know for sure.

Six of the girls escaped while I was futilely running after the would-be assassin, and Dan came out with a flashlight and we hunted them down in the backyard. Poor baby girls - they laid seven eggs yesterday, but I wouldn't be surprised if we get nothing tomorrow (no, wait, today). They took a while to calm down. We'll check for injuries when the sun comes up, but they all seemed whole when we did cursory exams by flashlight.

This is a lesson to us that we have become too casual about closing the girls up for the night. And that the door to the coop kinda sucks. Another project. Sigh.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vagabonding


A little ol' trailer like this...


plus a truck like this...


If you're on Facebook with me, you might have noticed my post this morning about dropping out of "society" and becoming vagabonds for a year or so.

I don't know how serious we are. Dan is desperately unhappy at work. He's been engineering for 10 years now and while he likes what he does, he has only had one job that he really enjoyed - and alas, they were sold and everything changed. There's a kind of hostile takeover bid going on with his current work, a certain somebody there is driving him up the wall, and I think we've both kind of hit that point in our lives when we ask ourselves "This is it? This is all there is?"

It's escapism, to a point. And I have been making a real effort to appreciate the glorious, wonderful life that I was lucky/blessed enough to be born into. I have a home, I'm never hungry, my children are healthy, my husband has a good-paying job, we are not in debt and in fact have a decent safety cushion in the bank. We are very safe and we have always been very safe.

And sometimes safe is very boring, unchallenging, and unfulfilling. Aside from Dan's mission to Washington and my brief 4th-grade stint in SE Arizona, we've never lived anywhere other than southern California. We have never really been risky in any way. In a way, we live in fear - my compulsive terror of poverty, which I somehow must have picked up from my parents' occasional economic disasters during my childhood.

So I think to myself: Why not do this? Why not do something, even if we start out and say it's only for a year? What if we just dedicate 2010 to being together as a family all the time, goofing off and camping and visiting friends and trying new places? We could easily get a truck and a camper or a trailer for less than $10k, possibly a lot less. I finally listed the Suburban for sale. We would sell the furniture (the antique mahogany pieces would probably fetch a few thousand), the other cars, the music, the books, give away anything not worth trying to sell. Stephen, I've already started a kitchenware pile for you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Cleaning, Part Deux

It's no secret to anybody who comes over that I am a REALLY bad housekeeper. I can make excuses, I can make jokes, I can claim that it's just messy but not filthy... but the truth is that the place always looks awful and I'm always brushing it off.

I don't think I'm ever going to become a neat freak, a cleanaholic, but I am really tired of myself. So the next purge-a-thon is ON. I'm stuffing bags with ill-considered clothing purchases (only paying a dollar or two for something makes it easier to give away), books (as painful as that is), and toys. I'm making giveaway piles for housewares. After all that, I'll move on to actually putting stuff on eBay. Or wherever it is the people are selling stuff these days.

If I don't update about my progress, nag me. Please. I need it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mommy Guilt, part CCXXXVI

Paul is struggling at school. My smart, sweet, good-hearted boy is refusing to finish work in class and his teacher has described him as occasionally "defiant." I can't deny that I'm seeing some of this at home, too. We've been trying daily behavior contracts, tied rewards to the results - and yet last week was the worst yet. Paul was promising me his end-of-week report would have an "O" on it, but instead it was the dreaded "U." The biggest problem is that Paul can't seem to work independently. He daydreams and fidgets, and then when the time is up he whines that he wasn't given enough time. He tells me his teacher is mean to him and doesn't listen to him. His teacher seems firm, but frankly I think a firm hand is good for Paul. There's usually another mother in the class, too, so I think I'd hear about it if she really was "mean." We're just going to keep trying until another idea presents itself.

And then there's Eli. His behaviour is just getting worse and worse. He's belligerent, argumentative, brazenly defiant, transparently manipulative. I hope against all hope that this is a phase. I've tried time outs, toy confiscation, rewarding good behaviour, and corporal punishment. Nothing makes a dent, and I suspect corporal punishment makes him feel like he has a license to hit everybody, which he does with abandon (although never at school, thank heavens). he likes to kick and choke, too. He's really wearing me out and I don't know what to do next.

His school teacher has recommended a parenting class offered through the district. There's a waiting list, but I'm going to sign up for it tonight before I go to my guitar class.

The two F's

Flu and fibroids.

I'm not sure if this is my annual massive allergy attack or the flu. Either way, I am a miserable woman. Meds aren't helping. And yesterday my doctor (Dr. House, if you can believe that - I have never made a single joke!) confirmed what I have suspected for a while - I have a "substantial" uterine fibroid. Lucky me, I get tests and an ultrasound. I'm fairly certain this explains why I have felt awful in my abdomen for the last month or so. I've been able to feel the fibroid by external palpation for a while now, but I think the sucker is growing fast. It's way too early to know what will be done about it, but a couple of the treatment options would mean officially closing the door on my fertility. Which, even though I have already chosen to have no more kidlets for many, many reasons, still feels strange.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fall Cleaning

Today I stripped out the eggplants and most of the tomatoes. The Cherokee Purple had a few more lovelies that need another week or so to turn ripe, so it was given a brief reprieve. I left the shiso, the basil, and the parsley standing for now, but I really need to pluck some flower stalks off the shiso and see if I can save any seeds.

I strung up a batch of Anaheim chiles on a strand of yarn and they are now hanging from the patio rafters to dry. I have 10 or more fat pumpkins (Caspers and Jarrahdale Blues) curing on the patio wall, and two more Jarrahdales on the vine. I've pulled out the melon vines, and found a volunteer cantaloupe hiding amongst the tomatoes (I used to have a free-form compost pile over there).

Today I went to three different places and bought seeds and winter crop seedlings - cabbage, cauliflower, brocoli, bok choi. And a box of high-phosphorous bone meal, because I bought two short-season tomato plants and this summer has taught me that while I am overflowing with nitrogen, our soil is phos-deficient in places - many of my tomatoes never set fruit. At least they were excellent hornworm host plants, which made my chickens very happy! I planted the tomatoes today in the box that held my cantaloupes and watermelons - there's an eggplant in there that I planted very late in the summer and it is doing so well I am optimistic for my 'maters.

Another momentous event occurred today, about which I am really divided. Daniel ordered a snazzy new flat television and it arrived this afternoon. Part of me feels the giddy excitement of new, cool technology, and part of me feels wasteful and frivolous and not at all certain that we needed a TV anyway. The old one still worked, although not all buttons were functional and the remote was required to operate it. I'm definitely conflicted about this.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Don't Get All Huffy

And yet I AM huffy!

It's busy times, my friends. Through the generosity of Daniel's mother I was able to go to Dizzyland twice this week - once with Paul and once with Daniel. That's right, I spent ALL DAY with Daniel and NO KIDS. I love the boys, but man! It was awesome. We hung out with similarly irresponsible friends, made out on the Haunted Mansion, and hit all the rides we wanted to. It was like we were early 20-somethings again. Oh, and I sat behind Weird Al and his family in the Tiki Room. My first Dizzyland celebrity sighting. Awwwww.

On the farm: Seven eggs in one day today. I foresee many quiches in our future.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Photo Software



Hmmm, the real picture is still awfully big. I obviously have more learning to do. Shoot.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My New Necklace

Ophidiophobiacs: you should not come over anymore. Last weekend, we adopted a ball python named Roswell. My friend Brenda had a baby recently, and felt that a baby and a three-foot python were just too much work together. I am glad she offered us the snake and not the baby, because I am DONE with THAT business. So we welcomed Roswell into our home. Last night we fed him for the first time. It was over quickly, disgusting and fascinating, but not as violent as the time I watched a larger snake eat a rat. Yum. The boys could barely contain their fierce excitement over the amazing spectacle, although I am heartened that they exhibited some pity for the poor mouse.

Roswell likes my neck, because it's warm. He hugs me quite firmly. He is beeeeyoootiful, dark brown with golden patterns on his sides that look like alien heads (thus the name). Eli loves him entirely too much and the boys want to hold him all the time. He was a very useful homework inducement last night; I wonder how long the magic will last. He pushes the menagerie up to 11 animals now.

Kid stories:

Paul and Eli got into the disposable cups I keep for parties. Paul engineered an extremely impressive pyramid, built entirely out of plastic cups. It was so cool I couldn't even get upset with him.

Last week I was folding laundry in my bedroom (shocking, I know). Eli came in, kissed me sweetly on the arm, and in the same tone of voice he uses when he croons "I love you," said "I don't want to see you dead." Smiling all the while. I decided to take it as a compliment.

Eli and I were driving in the car. He was having a fit because he wanted me to make a u-turn and go back to Del Taco, which I had no intention of doing. I pointed out that the sign at the signal said "NO U TURN" and told him I didn't want the police to write me a ticket. He grumbled, "The police wouldn't know." The difference between Eli and Paul in a nutshell - Paul would NEVER encourage or even want me to break the law. Eli doesn't give a fig.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My New favorite Comic Strip


Hark! A Vagrant

Kate Beaton is a Canadienne with a history degree. She draws comics that make me laugh real, huge laughs. I have to look up the historical figures approximately 33% of the time, which I seriously don't mind a BIT. I may even write her a fan letter.

Warning: She uses naughty words sometimes. My salty-language-averse friends may want to skip it. However, seeing Anne Bronte use TWO swears in the same comic tickles me to no end. Sorry!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why Can't it Feel Like Fall, Too?

It's sticky and hot. Fall is my least favorite time of year here, mostly because it feels like summer got tired of being nice and decided to get cranky. And the fires. Oh, how I hate the fires.

The summer garden is winding down; I need to tear out the last of the green beans, which had an excellent run and gave us lots to eat. Beans are definitely going to be permanent summer fixtures now. I need to get peas in the ground this month - hopefully we will not have any more scorching heat waves before winter truly arrives.

Melons, not so much success. I had a difficult time with watermelons last summer and this year's crop (cantaloupes as well) has been a big disappointment. The vines look nice, but the pumpkin vines look even better and those have been MUCH more successful. I already have three fat white pumpkins curing on the back porch and many more swelling rapidly on the vines. I had all but written off the Jarrahdales, but suddenly they have exploded and I have at least four lovely pumpkins puffing up now. The Cinderella vine may give me nothing at all, but that's my fault. I will continue to do pumpkins, but I think melons do not care for me or our yard. Oh, and I have two Corsican gourd vines that have given me two beautiful gourds so far.

We finally got another decent two weeks of tomatoes, but given the amount of plants I put in, the crop has been VERY disappointing. Dan thinks we must have poor soil in the side yard - our landlord's father runs a street-sweeper business and Dan jokes that when Mr. Landlord put in the retaining wall and filled in the sloped part of the yard, he used street sweeper dirt. I know we are not lacking in nitrogen, as the plants came up hale and hardy, but the fruiting was sporadic and some plants never set fruit at all. I will rotate the tomatoes to the backyard next summer, if we are still here.

There is a new anxiety in the air at Dan's work. It may come to nothing, it may become what we fear, or it may just be a big change. But it does make me extra glad we are shedding the condo. If we have to leave California I'll be glad it's not ours anymore. I am strangely nostalgic - we did have our two babies there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Getting So I Suck a Bit Less

I'm registered for guitar - the deciding factor was that it was on Tuesday night. Sewing is on Wednesdays, and that's the night Dan has Elders Quorum meetings. I am in Beginning Acoustic Guitar, and I suspect my teacher will be the same semi-hippie British lady I had two years ago, so I already have the right book! although I think I already know all the chords we'll be learning, we'll also be learning picking and different strums. I have actually been practicing almost daily. In Montana I spent 25 cents on the sheet music of Patti Smith's Because the Night and I've been mangling that for the past month and a half. B minor is a great-sounding chord, but it's horrible difficult to get my fingers in position!

Eli had his first day of preschool today. He'll say "hola," "adios," and "gracias," but ask much more of him and he hides his face in your shoulder. The teachers did not tell me of any breaches of etiquette, so I assume he did not hit anybody or start any fights, which we have begged him repeatedly not to do. Eli relishes starting fights and getting into arguments - I am close to ripping out my own hair on a regular basis. He understands that poor behaviour means he can't go to school, so I have high hopes. However, we go back to the dentist tomorrow morning for attempt #2 at fixing his rotten molar, and my hopes are comparatively muted. Attempt #1 did not go well. We have pulled out all the stops and offered Disneyland as a reward (we got 3-day passes as a birthday gift from Daniel's Mom). The reason Eli has rotten molars is because we have to sit on him and pin his arms down in order to brush his teeth, during which he flails around and screams like some kind of trapped animal. He bites both fingers and toothbrushes, and one particularly weak model actually snapped in two while clenched between his teeth. At least we can say nothing is ever boring with Eli.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Agony!

I speak in church on Sunday. I would prefer crawling in a hole and dying, but alas there are no convenient me-sized holes. And I'm too lazy to dig my own, but no worry - a metaphorical hole is already being dug, getting deeper every second I'm not preparing. There has been much joking about how bad I can make this little speech, so as to ensure I am not asked again for a very long time, if ever.

In my effort to stave off the unpleasant task of actually writing my speech for the gallows, I have been reading. This week's selections have been The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux (most famous for The Phantom of the Opera), and Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. I enjoyed them both immensely, although I wish I had been able to focus enough on the mystery to even have a shot at guessing the solution. I was right on a few fronts, so I'll have to console myself with that. This was my first foray into Wodehouse, who I have been meaning to get to for many years and just haven't. It's not that his plots are funny, no, but the narrative voice is spectacularly amusing.

School has sprung for Paul, and aside from his tendency to cry about many things it is going swimmingly. We'll see how it goes when we start doing regular homework, my hopes are not high. We had orientation this week for Eli's preschool and it all seems promising. Lots of yuppyish suburban parents, just like us, plus one kid who's allergic to everything under the sun - milk, soy, nuts, kiwis, the list went on. Of course she has to be in our class. we'll figure it out.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Two Days

And then school starts.

Remember how panicked I was about Kindergarten? Seems silly now, two years into this public education thing. And yet the unknown of what second grade will ask of us still floats out there, taunting me. Eli starts preschool next week and I feel no anxiety whatsoever about it - bubbling hope best describes my feelings on that front. Still no word on whether the school got that grant for a Chinese program. If they don't, I may try to organize private group classes.

We've decided not to panic about my education. It will be OK. I'm thinking about trying another Chemistry course in the spring, to see if I really like it or if my academic crush on Dr. Zoval was really the driving force behind my enjoying Chem the last time around.

Oh, we may close escrow next week. One less tether tying us to this place. Our future is wide open and terrifying and exciting.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

mas huevos

We are up to four actual eggs now, and one shell-less egg, which seems to not be unusual for pullets (young chickens). However, we could have a bird with a defective shell gland, so that means I have to be less lazy and try to keep track of who's laying the bum eggs. Ha.

I'm torn between taking another guitar class through adult education, or maybe a sewing class. I've sewn a tent and two sleeping bags, but I have no idea how to make clothes. They do offer algebra, but I think that would mostly entail me going to school with actual kids. I went through that with my ceramics class and no, no, thank you very much.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Decisions & Eggs

I dropped Anatomy. It was at the wrong time, on the wrong days. I still had no idea what to do with the boys before their school started (Dan volunteered to work from home, bless him), Paul has come down with whatever Eli had last week, and for some reason I was on the verge of choking and crying whenever I thought about the class. I feel both massively relieved and like a complete chicken. I thought that if I could get through Chemistry after what happened this January, I could get through anything, but right now I just feel overwhelmed. I'll figure it out. The only thing I'm really angry at myself about is that I didn't have this freakout BEFORE the semester started - I could have just enrolled in a less-threatening class, like Algebra, and still felt like I was moving forward. I'll have to look into Adult Education through the school district.

On the home front, we had our first little pullet egg yesterday! It was about half the size of a normal egg, but that's to be expected when the girls are not quite grown up yet. It has been insanely hot and we've had to refill the ladies' water daily. We are on more restrictive water rationing as of tomorrow, so I'll be lugging the boys' bathwater out to the garden every time from here on out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Uncertainty

I started Anatomy this week. Already I kind of hate it and am overwhelmed. There are a LOT of bones in the skull, and they have many, many bumps and folds and holes and dents that all have their own names. It doesn't help that Dan is gone this week, and Eli has been running a fever since Sunday night (it seems to be fading away today, thank heavens), and it's disgustingly hot and we have no way to cool the house, and I'm exhausted because I don't sleep well when I'm alone (the boys have been at mom's house because I have nobody else to babysit them at 7:00 am).

Yesterday in lab, the department head came in and talked to us about making sure we really want to be nurses. She said 50% of all new nurses quit within 2 years of entering the field. There's a nursing/health career orientation this Friday afternoon and I may get a babysitter so I can attend it and learn more about what to expect. This speaks to a secret fear that cropped up this spring: what if I'm making a mistake? What if I hate nursing? I've worked a job I loathed before in order to improve our lot, and that drove me into temporary insanity (literally - I was not in my right mind). I do NOT want to repeat that experience again.

So I feel like I'm back at square one. I need to meet with a career counselor. I just want a career that I can do part-time, makes decent money (supplementing Dan's income), and would let me live in a place with better access to wilderness.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yup. Freak.

Just ordered a book on greywater systems (as of September 1st we go down to being allowed 1 day of outdoor watering), a book on humanure (exactly what you think it is), and a replacement menstrual cup (you menfolks really wanted to read that, didn't you?), because apparently I left the old one in Montana.

They greywater & humanure books serve dual purposes - they are for experimentation both here in CA and for the ol' family cabin in MT. Our greywater system up there is an embarrassment and potential pollution source. Our toilet system has some trouble handling the demands placed on it by 20-30 people using it over the course of a week.

My Uncle Steve suggests a pump system that carries the greywater uphill and dumps into a cistern of some sort that we get pumped once a year, but I think we'll easily overfill most readily available and affordable cistern options. I proposed jackhammering a wide hole approximately 2' deep and making a proper leach field under the deck, where our current woefully inadequate system is, but Uncle Steve is concerned that without some kind of fissure in the bedrock we won't get any percolation and still have the same old problem - but without clearing and jackhammering we'll never know if we could. Or we could combine the two ideas and run a pumped line up the hill and dig in a proper leach field where there is some soil to percolate through. No matter what, we have to start clearing out most of the old soaps and shampoos that simply won't biodegrade cleanly.

I'm going to try a composting toilet system in the outhouse. If we do it correctly it won't stink, and will decompose over the year while we're gone. Then we can dispose of it somewhere on the property with no worries about the nasty sort of things that usually lurk in people's, ahem, output. I know this is the lunatic fringe for most of you, but this is real stuff. Check out Joseph Jenkins' website to be additionally amazed and/or grossed out.

This all just leads to what I think I will focus on after becoming a nurse - designing homesteads or communities that are as self-contained as possible. I wish I knew so much more than I know now - I look at a situation like the Duroville debacle and wish I knew how to get in there and help plan a solution for something like this. I think something along the lines of sustainable/utopian community planning is ultimately calling my name. Nursing/medical know-how will be a facet of that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Albatross Removed?

We are accepting an offer on the townhouse today. A pair of newlyweds. The pleasant surprise is that Kim was right - there is a bit of a boom going on right now for condos, so the place is apparently worth a bit more than we thought it was. I may still occasionally kick myself that we didn't sell three years ago and walk away with $100k, but at least with this I can sleep at night and not feel like my greed contributed to the economic crash.

Now we wait to see how the inspection goes, what the environmental hazard report says, how the termite report turns out, and any other surprises that lay in wait for us in the next 30 days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Unexpected Moments

Daniel and I went to a funeral yesterday afternoon. It was for Morgan, a girl that Daniel went out with for a while when they were teenagers. She was 32, and she lived in Witchita, Kansas, and she was thrown from a horse and hit her head and died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital.

I'm not sure I had ever met her - she was part of the Disneyland semi-goth gang that Dan used to run with in his teenage years, so it's possible I had met her in passing. I'm not even sure how long she and Daniel were involved with each other, but an ex-girlfriend is still a chunk of one's life, no matter how tiny, and now she is gone. She had a husband, brothers, parents, friends.

I cried and cried, all through the service. We mostly went because Dan's friend Amber was very upset about Morgan's death (they had been close as teenagers and had re-connected online, like so many of us) and Dan wanted to be there for Amber. But I'm fresh back from Montana, where so many ghosts live now (Dad, Aunt Marilyn, Uncle Niles) and a funeral was just too much for me. Dan was pretty stoic, but I know he felt sorrow too.

This is the sort of thing that makes me think a lot about the past. I think I only have two exes that I wish never to see again. I'm back in touch with two of my great teenage loves on Facebook, and I'm really, truly happy to see that they have grown up into handsome men with happy marriages and apparently good lives. I value them and I value all of my friends past and present. It's such a cliche, but this makes me resolve to maintain contact with all of you whom I love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Taming of the Eli

Paul's school is doing a pre-school co-op. Thank heavens. It used to be free, but they lost their grant and weren't sure they'd be able to do it, but they worked out a paid program and hallelujah we're in. I have to pay a lump sum, but it works out to $160 a month which is insanely cheap in comparison to any other local program.

I *know* that Eli's anger and behavioral issues partially stem from my poor mothering skills (and don't say nice things in the comments, I can't bear it, you don't live here and aren't privy to my daily failings). That's why I'm so excited about this and hope it will help both of us to re-set our interactions with each other.

Since it's a co-op, I am expected to participate once a month. Which means I will have to find a creative solution or also pay somebody to watch E two mornings a week. Dan is very good about the extra expense, he makes the good point that this is an investment.

We are meeting a realtor today who thinks he can sell our place within a month and maybe put a few dollars in our pockets too. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

High Anxiety

I should watch that movie again - I can't remember if I liked it or not.

I am mildly nervous about our townhouse. The world's most awesome tenants are moving out this weekend. I have nobody else lined up, and I've even knocked $100 off the monthly rent. It was spectacularly bad timing, with the so-called vacation and the almost broken ankle and all that. If we don't find tenants soon, we may have to move back in. Which would be kind of lousy, but I'm steeling myself for it anyway and already have a backup vegetable garden plan - Willie, a lady in my ward, has offered her bare backyard for anyone who wants to grow veggies there. I'll give the chickens to Elizabeth, move what I can to Willie's yard and keep the tools there. I can start planting fall crops next month. It's good for Willie too - she's a widow on Social Security and she would of course get to eat all the veggies she wants.

It wouldn't be so bad to go back. I don't want to, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. I also have it listed on Craigslist as a FSBO for $240k, we'll see if I get any bites other than Nigerian "businessmen" or people claiming to be Russian investors. Already I'm thinking about putting the master bath back in, some hidden shelves above the carport, and a window in the "loft" section of the second bedroom. It will all be OK.

I'm making a big pile of books and other household items to give away or sell, just in case. Stephanie: I have a fun old Sunset book on desert gardening for you. Kim: I have a Chinese bamboo steamer for you, and probably a heck of a lot more kitchen stuff. Anybody want lots of home-decorating sewing patterns? I have a box of 'em, but couldn't bring myself to give away the costume patterns.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Irredeemably Stupid

Seriously, I'll never learn.

I have an injured ankle. I have to find new tenants. I have overdue library materials. Did I elect to just drive straight home in 2 days? No. I elected to follow my mother's dream and drive over to the Olympic Peninsula, a place she says she has always wanted to see. I strongly suspect she just wanted to see Forks because, yes, my mother is a Twilight fan. In all other ways she is a well-educated and reasonably emotionally balanced person, so I'll cut her some slack and only mock her a teeny bit.

So when we could have been home in 2 days (in theory; we seem to be disaster magnets right now), instead we took 6. Mom doesn't like camping very much. The boys fought a lot. We saw some beautiful stuff and I definitely want to see the peninsula again with Dan, but MY GOSH driving home from northern WA takes a bloody long time, even on the 5. We stopped at my aunt & uncle's house in central CA and had a layover day before the final push home. I've slept at least 10 hours both nights since I've been back. My stupid ankle is still swollen and doesn't want to work right.

No more whining. I got to see the REI flagship store in Seattle and it was overwhelmingly huge. I think our family destiny lies north. I got to see the cute little house my family lived in during their Oregon Experiment - the neighborhood has fallen into disrepair and I think that made Mom feel better about how the whole thing didn't work out. My Aunt Joan gave me an adorable pair of antique children's skis - she knows we want to learn cross-country skiiing. Seeing Uncle J and Aunt Joan was wonderful, even if my children were astonishingly poorly behaved while we were there.

There's something to be said for learning from the bad times but only remembering the good.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Surprise!

That could well be the title for this entire trip. I am in Montana right now, sitting in in our ramshackle family cabin and looking out at Queens Bay and the Mission Mountains. Turns out that the bed & breakfast just up the hill has wi-fi with no password required, and my Mom brough her mini laptop (which I am exceedingly bad at typing on). The contrast between primitive cabin living, with no phone, spotty cell coverage, an outhouse (we have an indoor toilet now, too) and wireless inernet is funny, I promise you.

The trip up was the stuff of legend. In Mesquite, where it was 113 F, I filed a missing person's report with the San Diego Sheriff's department. Dan was supposed to be home Wednesday night, but he didn't answer the phone. I finally called a friend at 1:30 in the morning who drove over to confirm Dan wasn't home. I called the scout ranch; no answer. At 7:00 I called the sheriffs to see if perhaps he had been in an accident. They had no record of it, but the ranch is out in the middle of nowhere and if he had run off the road for whatever reason nobody would have seen him. I declined to file a report then, waiting to see if he or the ranch would call me. I cried a bit. At 8:00 am, I filed the report, then cried a lot. At 9:00 am the scout ranch finally called me to report that Dan had left the ranch that morning at 6:00 am. I sat down and cried a whole lot more, then got insanely angry. This was not the first time Dan had felt it unnecessary to let me know he wouldn't be home when he said, but this was the first time he had been approximately 12 hours late. When he got home and listened to my escalatingly panicked messages, he called me. I got out of the car so the boys wouldn't hear and I cried and bit his head off like I never have before in our lives. I have never felt that relieved and angry.

Later that day, I fell off of Nathan Wanlass's backyard steps in Salt Lake City and sprained my ankle in an insanely painful manner. We slept at Jenn Johnson's house that night and in the morning my ankle was huge and puffy and unable to support any weight, so Mom took me to an urgent care center to get it x-rayed. On the way, the car filled up with gasoline fumes. So after dropping me off, Mom went down the block to a Midas, where she dropped off the car and walked to McDonald's with the boys. My ankle was not broken, but I needed crutches, so Mom brought the boys back to the Urgent Care and left them with me and some sympathetic people in the waiting room (thank you Barbara from Canada, you saint of a woman) while she walked to Walgreens and bought crutches for me. The car needed a new fuel rail, so 2+ hours and $350 later we were back on the road. The front desk staff at Memorial Intermountain InstaCare were also saints, opening up the TV and letting the boys watch cartoons.

Exhausted, we made it to Pocatello and got a hotel room. Saturday morning, Mom woke up unable to lift her left arm without excruciating pain - she had somehow pinched a nerve in her sleep. Somehow, between her useless arm and my puffed up right foot we managed to drive to Missoula to pick up Dan at the airport. Oh, did I mention taht Paul and his cousin Noah fought like cats & dogs the whole way? We made Dan drive to the lake.

It doesn't end there. Mom & I went into town that night for groceries and supplies. As we were pulling into the WalMart parking lot (there isn't much open at 9:30 pm on a Saturday night in Polson), Mom got a call letting her know my nephew Sammy had gotten ahold of his brother's medication and was in the hospital. He was fine, but Mom just lost it and I admit I used some very vulgar language to exprress my frustration. In all the hubbub, with me having to fish out my crutches while Mom cried, I locked the keys in the car. So we had to wait over an hour for the AAA dude to get there and let us in. At least he got there before the rain started.

Remember all this the next time you get ready to go on a long road trip.

The happy ending is that all is well here. At one point we had 26 Kinnicks, 2 extended cousins, and 2 dogs all sleeping here. It was a little nuts. The dock was almost wiped out, so the younger menfolks rebuilt it and it looks AWESOME now. The boat shed collapsed (apparently it was a wild winter), but the boat is still useable so Paul & Noah have been able to go innertubing on the bay. Despite all that trouble to get here, we are already planning next year's trip.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Almost Ready

The packing is building to a crescendo - it has finally cooled down enough outside to start loading up the car. Tent, sleeping pads, pillows, sheets, blankets, towels, cameras, clothes, life jackets, swim fins, books, crayons, mini DVD player, toiletries, snacks, cooler full of frozen drinks... I will invariably forget something.

I forgot to mention that Dan has been gone at Scout Camp since Saturday noon. We won't see him until we pick him up at the Missoula airport on Saturday afternoon. I hope I'm doing a competent job of packing, but honestly it's better with him gone because I always react so badly to his presence and input when I'm doing something like this. I freak myself out, imagining that he's criticizing me when he's probably just being benignly inquisitive, and am kind of sad to discover that I'm much calmer doing this without him.

Ye Gods!

The drip system is halfway done. I'm registered for Anatomy this fall with a professor I know nothing about - it was either that or "staff." Those were the only two classes that I could possibly make work with my babysitting possibilities. I just had a semi-genius idea! My friend Nancy, who would like to swap babysitting with me, just told me she's not sure she can afford a class this fall. I've just sent her an offer to pay for her class & book if she agrees to not make me drive up to Rancho Santa Margarita and instead will come down to my house to watch E and drop off her baby girl. It will still cost me less than paying somebody to watch E!

The plans for the drive up to Montana keep changing. I like a nice, long, leisurely drive, but Mom wanted to chop a half-day off, so I will roll with it. We leave tomorrow morning, as long as we have no repeats of last summer's vomiting disaster.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Too Hot to Work!

Trying to get the garden ready for me to be gone almost three weeks is NOT fun. I must get up as early as possible to do the outside chores, before the heat threatens to bring out Cranky Mama. I turned the compost pile this morning and added the bedding from the henhouse to it - chicken manure is supposed to speed up decomposition. At the bottom I had real, honest-to-goodness compost. My first homemade compost! I filled up my galvanized bucket twice and moved some over to the vegetable beds. Tonight I will mix it with the remainder of my compost from Serrano Creek Soils and mulch the vegetables as thickly as I can. the drip system is still not done and I haven't even cracked the manual for the timer - I can only hope it's simple or I'll have to beg Elizabeth to water the garden on our rationing days (I'm trying to be a good citizen, insert big sigh here).

I have baby banana melons and a baby canteloupe (charentais)! There are at least 9 pumpkins on the vines now and just at the end of June I finally got the runner beans planted along the courtyard and installed the trellises for them to climb. We'll see if it helps at all with cooling that side of the house. I got the gourd vines in the ground and the stevia bush, but it took some kind of beating and several branches are now broken off. Hope it recovers. I tied up rope trellises for the climbing squash and will do the same for the San Miguel Coral Vine.

i loathe packing. I'm not good at it. That, plus this heat, is slowly making me insane. Feh, I should stop wasting time on the computer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dirty, Chapped, and Stiff

We're back from the Annual Clemens Family Beach Campout, in sunny San Clemente! It wasn't much of a vacation, as Dan only took 1.5 days off from work for it. Grrr. However, that is over and next week we leave for MONTANA.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nap, anyone?

The party went great. It was imperfect but lovely. No children were seriously injured. Hostessing is exhausting. Stephen came down early and was more than just my right-hand man; he was extraordinary. Elizabeth helped a great deal, too. Lots of people came, three picnic packs of chicken were not enough. I think Dan had a good time even though he'll never let on. He prefers to rib me about it being a semi-surprise party, because I told him once that I hate surprise parties. I only hate the ones where you're not expecting anything at all and then you walk in and your so-called friends jump out from behind the couch and give you a coronary.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Panic On the Streets of El Toro

Party tonight. Yard slowly coming together - not pretty, but not horrible. The pumpkin vines have taken off and add welcome greenness to the otherwise barren backyard. Our neighbors are watering their backyard trees and have sort-of-flooded part of my backyard, which irritates me a bit because we are on water rationing now. House cluttered, but a lot can and should be relocated into the garage. Kitchen messy, but there's a lot of food to be prepped later so I'll save cleanup until the end.

No clue how many people are coming. Invited lots of friends, both secular and churchical. Hope we all mix well! Bought three "picnic packs" of chicken thighs and drumsticks this morning, they're marinating right now in tikka masala and citrus garlic. About 15 ears of corn, 18 lbs of watermelon, 13 lbs of papaya, yellow and black plums, cameo apples. Kim's bringing pasta salad, Elizabeth is bringing a rice dish of some kind. Hope I have enough cups and plates. Just realized I don't have enough cutlery, wondering if I can get away with not providing much - chicken can be eaten with your hands, right? Ha, I'll have to get at least some forks.

Dan knows we are having friends over tonight, but doesn't know it's for his birthday and has no idea how many people I've invited, but seeing me prep 20 pounds of chicken this morning should have raised a red flag. Crud, I never ate breakfast.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Disaster!

I settled on a vibrant coral. I got haz-mat orange. I now have a toxic chicken coop! There will be a new quart of paint in the future, but probably not until after I am back from Montana. Until then, the side yard will be lit at night with the soft glow of the fluorescent hen-house.

On to Montana. The really bad news is that we have a pinion bearing that has worn out in the rear axle of the Suburban. If I could fix it myself it would be $126, but I do NOT know how to do that, do not really have time to do it even if i could, and we do not wish to part with the approximately $900 it will cost to have it professionally done. SO we will now be driving to Montana in my Mom's minivan, which I do not want to do but I don't see any other option. My station wagon only holds five.

Now I have to go make a pot of pappa alla pomodoro for the Relief Society dinner tonight. I almost had to be a model in the "fashion show" tonight, but thankfully I dodged that bullet. Then I have to go back to frantically cleaning the house and yard in case people actually show up tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hale & Hearty

Is it "party hearty" or or "party hardy?" In a way, they both make sense.

Anyhoo, I'm having a wee (neither hearty nor hardy) party for Dan on Thursday night. He kinda knows, but I don't think he realizes how many people I've invited. Wanna come? There'll be BBQ, s'mores around a fire, and a big side yard for the kids to injure themselves in! If I forgot to send you an invite on Facebook, consider yourself invited. Dan gets home around 6:30 but you can show up any time you please.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

D-Day

Today is Daniel's birthday! We had pie at my mother's house yesterday to celebrate and of course watched the fireworks. Chino allows "safe & sane" fireworks but many fine citizens believe this means they are also free to set off roman candles, bottle rockets and all manner of illegal sky-exploding chemical cocktails. While I tut-tut, I also enjoy the illegal shows, so again we see my hypocrisy knows no bounds. We sat out in the street with many of the neighbors who've seen me grow up (my parents bought that house in 1985) and set off our own legal explosions while enjoying the blatantly illegal show somebody was putting on the next street over. Many mosquitoes joined the party as well, judging from the small red mountain range growing on my back today.

Daniel has elected to bake his own birthday cake today, which I think speaks volumes about the quality of my baking (I make a rad fruit pie, though). The boys gave him gifts from their own toy collections and Paul even gave Dan some of his foreign coins, which says L-O-V-E. I gave him pretty much nothing, because he wouldn't tell me anything that he wanted. So this week I will get him the totally unromantic gift of new pillows, because we have had our down pillows since we got married and they have pretty much lost all of the poof by now. Don't worry, he never reads this, so as long as you keep your stinking mouth shut it will be a surprise.

This Saturday is the first day of the Annual Clemens Family Beach Campout. I am unspeakably tired of San Clemente State Beach and Dan semi-agrees with me. We have agreed that he will lobby for the idea of changing location next year. We will almost certainly lose; inertia requires a lot of force to overcome and I don't think we carry much weight in these matters. But we will try. We were thinking maybe one of our mountain lakes (Big Bear, Arrowhead, Silverwood) but heck, I'll settle for even a different beach.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coopin'

The coop is now about 90% finished and is functional but ugly. It needs paint badly, as it is mostly clad in plywood scrap that has been out in the sun for too long. I was at Le Home Depot yesterday trying to pick out a color, but MY GOSH it was color overload and I just couldn't pick! I want it to be obnoxiously bright and cheery, but yellow is out because that is the planned color for the backyard furniture (yes, Stephen, the ones we retrieved together - at least the couch is sanded!).

There was an awesome fucshia-purple, a peacock blue, a fiery lava orange, a very caribbean coral, and of course bright grass green. All of which would be lovely and make my white-trash side yard look a little better taken care of. But which one? The coop has a white roof and the most visible side of it is 4' tall by 8' wide. The paint will be matte, because matte claims to "hide surface imperfections" and boy is it imperfect. What color would you paint YOUR chicken coop?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Here It Comes Again


Ahhh, the feeling of anxiety that only college can give me. The Fall 2009 schedule is out, and I am not eligible to register until EIGHT DAYS after registration opens. I can receive email updates on the classes I want, but I know what those emails will say on either Day 1 or Day 2: CLASS FULL. And I still don't know what I'm going to do with Eli.

I am scrambling to get more stuff planted before summer hits too hard. I finally got my Crimson Sweet watermelon seedlings in (although they are not so much seedlings now as they are mini-vines), and my Charentais melons. I put them in the second raised bed in the backyard - the first raised bed has Jarrahdale pumpkins (in the picture above) and banana melons. I planted a second crop of blue corn on the side of the house that will get the most sun this summer - the first crop is already quite tall and we pulled off an ear the other day just to see what stage it was at - white and milky and sweeeet. I got a great picture of Eli eating it, but I am SUCH a moron about pictures that I can't edit it down to a blog-useable size. Can anybody recommend a free or very cheap photo editing program for an ignoramus like me?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Our internet connection has been out. Very often. I am totally fed up, although I notice that my net-free days are much more productive ones.

Today Eli is 4. I am shockingly sad and sentimental about it, considering that my heart is normally made of frozen marble. He went to Dizzyland with his Aunt Christine and had a hootenanny of a good time.

Yesterday I walked by a young Persian (Iranian) couple in a parking lot. The young man had on a green wristband, a green headband and a green shirt, and the young lady had on a green turtleneck. They had a green flag attached to their car. I have always felt an affinity for Iran (it's on my short list of fantasy world travel) and seeing them made me suck in my breath, tear up a little and want to run over and hug them. I should have. I totally understand the urge to want to knock the snot out of the Iranian government, to be the world's big brother (not in the Orwellian sense), but I also understand why we have to keep out of it. But it still pulls at my heartstrings.

Did I tell you about Paul's piano recital? He refused to play; no surprise there! He stayed in his teacher's kitchen (where the students waited their turn) and cried a little and would not come out. He also refused to go up front and sing "I'm so Glad When Daddy Comes Home" in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday (all the kids go up). He's not really shy on a personal basis, but MAN will that kid not perform in front of any kind of audience.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


visited 12 states (24%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

New Mexico and Colorado are the only two others I really care to see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ethan Is Back!

You recall Paul's friend Ethan was taken by his father after years of unpleasant custody battles. Roughly two weeks ago the FBI arrested Ethan's father in New Zealand. Ethan had to stay in protective custody for a night, but his mother (who had flown to NZ as soon as the FBI told her they had traced him there) got him back the next day.

We all found this out last Tuesday, as Paul's class was preparing for their field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific. So of course I cried right there at Paul's school, because how could I not cry, and Ethan was so happy to see his friends again (although I won't pretend everything will go right back to normal for him - that was 4 months of being on the run with his father), and everybody wanted to hug him or rub his head or touch him. It was quite a mob scene.

Yesterday we had a playdate at another friend's house. Ethan, being a kid, smacked into the sliding glass doors and had a spectacular crash. He didn't cry, shook it off, and had only a little cut under his nose. I thought his mother completely overreacted, making him count fingers on her hand, insisting on Neosporin and a band-aid for an incredibly small cut, constantly watching him and worrying that maybe he had a concussion, calling her husband to ask his opinion... and then I understood. She's absolutely paranoid and who can blame her? Her kid was missing for four months. He's not entirely happy to be away from his Dad, who of course he loves. She told us she hasn't slept more than an hour straight since he came home (and I'm sure she wasn't sleeping well for those 4 months, either), that she's like the mother of a newborn, getting up every 30 minutes to make sure her baby is still alive, that her baby is still there.

There is so much in this life that I wish nobody ever had to go through. I hope someday this can all be forgiven and Ethan can have something close to a normal relationship with both of his parents. But I'm not sure that will happen. I just have to do the best I can for everybody I'm responsible for.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Croppin'

We have had the first fruits of our summer garden. Several early Girl tomatoes, some very small yellow onions, a handful of green beans almost every day, 2 cucumbers. I picked one fushimi pepper, but this is my first time growing them and by the taste I must have picked far too early. My Japanese eggplants are already fruiting and the other eggplants have bushed out considerably and have many blossoms now. I suspect that my cucumbers are not Japanese suhyo; they seem too thick and have too much curve to them. My mild Japanese obsession is now irked.

Some of my tomatoes are wilting. I am afraid they have verticillium wilt, which is incurable and has the added glory of staying in the soil for years. They must have come from the nursery with this disease, as that section of the yard has had nothing but weeds and rocks in it for a loooong time. I am ticked off about the lost time (I planted them in APRIL! I've lost two months!) and have already bought backup tomatoes to plant elsewhere. I will take in a sample to the nursery for a second opinion, but even the alternative diagnoses are also pretty much fatal. I am already resigned to losing the space and having to solarize the soil. I'll do it when I'm off to the beach and Montana.

Yes, barring any disasters, Montana is happening. And Mom may go with me. And bring my nephew Noah. We may get creative with the route home - Mom would like to swing over to Washington and drive down the coast, which I think sounds wonderful. Me, Mom, and three little boys driving almost 3000 miles together. I may need some pills.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Your Opinion Is Solicited

I've been thinking about splitting up into two blogs - a farm/garden blog and a personal blog. I know you're all fascinated by everything I write, whether it be poultry mishaps or Eli dialogues, but I'm betting the farm-y parts are slightly less scintillating for some of you. And as I connect with other backyard farmer-types, I'm thinking they might not be as enthralled with my family shenanigans.

Opinions? It's not imminent; I don't even have a snazzy title for my theoretical second blog. "The Real Farmwives of OC" is already passe.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Gee Whiz!

It's not that I have nothing to report - there's just too much!

We spent Memorial Day with friends we haven't seen in years (they've been in the US briefly after 5 years in Okinawa, and they're going back). It was wonderful to see them again, plus all the old friends who also came to see them. Since we'd be gone for 2 days, we put the girls in the almost-finished coop and "locked" the door by pushing bricks up against it, and left them food and water. I was terrified that they'd be murdered by raccoons and when we got home I had to send Dan to check on them because I just didn't have the stomach to discover their corpses. They were fine.

Last weekend Mom stayed over and we all took the train into LA for our occasional Olvera Street/Little Tokyo stroll. Next time we need to get brave and go over to Chinatown instead (yes, Don and Lee, I wish we could go see the real thing), or get into town earlier and go even farther. I think we'll try to go to the Hollywood Bowl this summer, too.

Last night I was able to go to a small party at Iris & John's house (remember Iris who saved me at the Fresh & Easy?). They went to Taiwan for their 10th anniversary and had some wonderful friends over for a slideshow (well, a digital slideshow - a projector connected to the computer and pointed at a blank wall). Their friend Larry played the ukulele in an asian style while we oohed and ahhed and laughed at the pictures. I felt like a cool person in a magazine, not at all like a dirty farmer housewife. I haven't seen a vacation slideshow since my Uncle Reed used to put them on for us when I was a kid. I have to convince Dan to get a projector.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time to Mop

Eli cannot close the screen door. The entire flock of chickens has snuck inside twice today. I obviously need to build them some kind of shady hideout for the middle of the day. #236 on the project list.

You Only Live Once

This is a feeling that is weighing heavily on me. I know we will all have failures in our lives, I know we all have starry-eyed dreams that won't come true. A young man (19 years old, wow) from my ward gave a really excellent talk on Sunday about the long-term consequences of the choices we made years ago, and the choices we make now. I have to face that certain things are set, that the actions have taken place and will not be un-done. Don't worry, it's not about Dan and me, except in the sense that he is my other half.

I am struggling with choices right now. I have some painful ones to make. I've been able to put off a lot of them because I was so busy with school. But that's over and now I have mental spare time. Some decisions are easy to make, because my inaction makes the decision for me - I make excuses for why I can't, and thus I effectively choose not to do the thing I don't want to do. Or the thing that I want to do, but am too afraid of doing. Or I can't find a means to make it happen. Or, as is one of the cases right now, I have to be patient and wait for the right time.

I'm being vague. I have to be. We're having my Mom and some friends over Friday night, and I'm glad. Boy, do I need friends right now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Fullness of Day

Phew!

Up at 6. Garage sales and scrounging. Found a hacked-up hutch of some sort on the curb and took part of it to make into nesting boxes. Around noon I left the boys at home and helped some new ward members get their moving van unloaded. Bought groceries at the awesome Persian market. Dan almost finished the coop today and rigged up a cool sliding door. I built two short (4' x 6' x 5.5") raised beds to grow squash in the front yard; I used scrap wood I scavenged from a house on the way to Paul's school (I asked permission). We used my NEW $5 Craftsman 2 1/8 HP 7 1/4" circular saw I picked up at a garage sale last weekend. Soooo sweet. Took a large portion of the day.

The chickens ran free-range all day. They are quite entertaining - they fluff up and shimmy into the dirt to give themselves dust baths, they squabble over imaginary treats, they try to jump into the air to catch flying bugs, they roost on the boys' rope ladder.

Tired. Lazy. Need to go to Target, need to do laundry, want to just lay around and eat ice cream while watching Ugly Betty on DVD. Good night.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

94%

And it's OVER. It was a fantastic class, I loved it, but I am so glad it's over. Yippee! Not to be a suckup, but Dr. Jim Zoval is an awesome teacher.

Now I wait to find out if I'll be taking Microbiology or Anatomy this fall.

It's 3 a.m.

And I am awake. Our neighbors across the creek have a lot of unchecked brush and trees at the back of their lot, and whatever animals live there are making a ruckus tonight. If I didn't know better I'd say it must be feral pigs, but the most likely culprits are raccoons. Squealing and snorting and echoing right into my bedroom window. Those are the raccoons who will eventually come over, sneak into my yard and try to murder my girls (that's what I've taken to calling the chickens). And so I am awake, listening to the enemy snort and wondering what I got on my chemistry final.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lousy

Paul has lice. I went to get him from school yesterday and he looked so sad. We bought the poison shampoo and did his and Eli's hair (they sleep in the same bed). We grownups are having psychosomatic itching. Dan is clean, but when he looks at my rat-nest hair he doesn't know what he's looking for. I've been itching to shave it anyway so who knows, maybe I'll make him do it.

My final exam is tomorrow but I still had to strip all the bedding, strip the boys' room, wash all the bedding & towels in hot water, comb eggs out of two heads, feed everybody, wash up, and do more garden work (I'm racing the calendar now and need to get as much in as possible before June). The final is 20% of my grade so I need to get at least 75% to keep my A. Egads.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Lions Have Returned

First, read the article. It sums it up better than I could.

The only reason I am posting about this is because I knew where three or four of these long-lost statues were for years, although I never knew they were lost. One of these elephants is the famous Euclid Avenue elephant - it was in the front yard of a house on Euclid in Ontario for years. Everybody local knew about the Euclid Elephant.

When I managed a trailer dealership out in Fontana, our first location was in an old house on a huge lot. Across the street was an empty lot being used to store old circus junk. There were two (or maybe three, I can't recall) weathered concrete lions on the lot. I always thought they were pretty neat, but never knew they were "lost" and wanted by the L.A. Zoo. Years later, I read about how they had been searched for and finally located, scattered all over California. I have to admit, if I had the chance to pick up a life-sized concrete animal for cheap, I'd put one in my yard, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

bo-ring!

Seems like every day is set on fast-forward. Bullet points:

1. Got termites in the townhouse. Dan and I have not yet made it over during the day to do an inspection of the underside (it's on concrete pylons on a slope and I'd say at least 50% of the place is off the ground. Since we're seeing the signs at the end that's highest from dirt, I'm hoping we have the flying kind and not the subterranean nasties.

2. Eli's face is healing nicely - the advantage of being not yet four years old is quick healing. Unlike my ankle, which I sprained in early march and is still not 100%. The disadvantage of being almost four is the daily blowout temper tantrums. There are times when I reach the edge of desperation with him. I have no idea what to do about preschool for him this fall. I can't find anything that will cover him for the hours I'll need to be at school (and I don't even know what times Anatomy will be offered in the fall), plus everything costs at least $300 a month and that just isn't possible.

3. One more lecture, one more chapter's homework, and my Chemistry final next Wednesday. Oh, and remember my 98% I was all up in the air about? Turns out he credited everybody with 4 points, so I really only got a 94%. But when I looked at my exam, it turned out that one of my incorrect answers was just me being stupid and marking the wrong answer, even though I KNEW the correct answer. Dummy! I am both relieved and sad to see the end of this class, which I have really enjoyed but which has been a cause of so much stress for me. At times it has seemed that staying in school this semester was the wrong thing to do, but I suspect that if I had dropped out I would really be punishing myself for it. If I may, I take some pride in my tenacity.

4. The tomatoes are thriving. The peppers were hard hit by the earwigs and are staging a slow recovery. I might not kill the cukes this year, but it's still too early to get optimistic. Beans have been challenging. The corn is very spotty - some stalks are already going gangbusters, while others refuse to grow and remain spindly little seedlings. The coop is 80% finished - we need to get hardware cloth stapled on over the vents, figure out what we're doing for doors, and put some sort of roofing over the currently naked plywood roof.

5. I'm going to look at a house on Thursday, up in Modjeska Canyon. The price is extremely attractive, but Dan is still concerned for his job and so I can't be very serious about it and told Joyce (our agent) so, but she was going to see it on her own anyway and so I'm tagging along. It's up in Modjeska canyon and I'm of two minds about that. Part of me longs for the canyons, but a very large part of me sees the incredible inconvenience of moving back up there. The house is pretty much exactly what I want (fixer, older, decent-sized and mostly flat lot), except that it's not 4 bedrooms. We lived in Silverado before, but I think I might actually prefer Modjeska. It seems quieter and the neighborhoods more conducive to meeting one's neighbors.

6. Paul's piano skills are coming along very well. His teacher says his note-reading is good. I am so glad that three or so months in he is still enjoying it, and we don't fight much over practicing. He promises he will teach me this summer, which is my ploy to keep hi practicing and reinforcing the skills he has already learned. It's strange how much I want him to be better than I ever was at everything.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rudolph

We had Paul's family birthday party Sunday evening. Very low-key, just food, cake and a pinata. Right at the beginning, Eli decided to walk right in front of his cousin Nolan, which wouldn't be noteworthy if Nolan had been anywhere else but on a swing traveling at approximately 80mph. So Eli did a hard face-plant in the dirt - bloody nose, scraped forehead. Monday it was all scabbed over and looked just awful - the biggest scab covered the whole tip of his nose and almost all the way up the bridge. It was really just sick-looking. Everywhere we went, people would wince at him and ask what happened. He keeps picking the scab off and has that angry new pink skin all over his nose.

So we have two new nicknames for him - Rudolph and Scarface. We're rotten parents.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Have No Ability to Fathom

what life has been like for Connie Culp. I should never, never, never feel self-pity again (but of course I will). I cried and cried when I read her story today.

I warn you, the pictures of Connie are shocking. You will flinch, if not worse. Here is the article. I can't stop weeping. It's just beyond me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Yippee!

It's International Respect for Chickens Day!

While I support ethical, humane treatment of food animals, am I the only one who finds this deliciously preposterous? Too bad it's Monday. I could have arranged for a chicken party.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

98%

Oh, tell me how much I rule.

Not much time to revel in it, though. Tomorrow afternoon is Paul's family birthday party and the side yard looks like a tornado hit a junkyard. I ripped out most of the wildflowers in the front yard; they had run their course and were looking very shabby. I have so many successful squash seedlings I decided to put some in the front yard, along with some summer-flowering ornamentals.

I bought 10 bags of compost from Serrano Creek Soils so I can make the bare dirt look vaguely nice for tomorrow. I'm going to have to build a bigger compost bin. I have piles and piles of leaves and dead wildflowers to toss in.

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to feed everybody. I'm thinking gigantic pot of pinto beans or maybe chili beans, veggie rice and corn tortillas. Courtney is making Paul's cake; I suck at baking and I don't have time for it anyway. I owe Courtney some very nice favors - she took Paul to Dizzyland for his birthday.

Last weekend we went to the ADZPCTKO. It's an annual festival to celebrate "opening season" for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT is a roughly 2600-mile hiking trail that starts at the Mexican border near Campo, CA and goes all the way to the Washington/Canada border. We plan to hike it sometime around 2015, give or take a year. Every year about 300 idiots attempt to hike the whole thing in one go. Takes about 6 months. We'll figure out some way to do it, but we'll probably do the John Muir Trail sooner than that as a bit of a shakedown. Wanna come along? You have a few years to get ready, and we have plenty of spare gear.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicken Yurt

The chicks are growing, which means that they were getting a little crowded in their cage and driving me crazy with their endless chirping. So I'm keeping them outside during the day in the chicken yurt. The boys have a geodesic-dome-climbing-thingy, so I wrapped it in chicken wire and threw the canopy from a damaged patio umbrella over the top. Voila! Shade, containment, protection from hawks and cats. The chicks are very happily pecking at the dirt, giving themselves dirt baths, napping in the sun. And they love to eat earwigs. I was turning the compost pile and found another massive infestation (sometimes natural living is a pain), so I scooped as many as I could into a bucket and dumped them into the yurt. Those chicks are born bug-eaters! One of my Grandma Porter's sayings was "Faster than a chicken on a junebug," and now I know what she meant.

EDIT! Turns out I am already going senile. Grandma used to say, "Faster than a DUCK on a junebug." Carry on.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't you ever have a crush?

Yup, just had the 14th anniversary. Totally in love with Daniel. But occasionally I'll get a little crush and have a new TV boyfriend. Dan knows this and just smiles at me like I'm an idiot. Which I am, so it's totally cool. Here is my new boyfriend:


His name is Waris Ahluwalia. He's a Sikh jewelry designer and occasional actor. Look at that face. I found him over at The Sartorialist. I may have to track down a movie he's been in. I don't even care that he appears to be wearing a periwinkle velvet suit. Maybe I even like it. That face!

Love you, Daniel. Don't beat up my new fake boyfriend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blackberries!

Ever since we moved in, the house next door has been empty. It was a rental, but so poorly maintained that after the last tenants left, the landlord hasn't bothered to do much. The backyard had a blackberry bramble and we ate many luscious berries from it last summer.

He sent a gardening crew over recently and they did quite a hatchet job. I went over afterward to assess the damage and - gasp! The blackberries had been removed! I nearly cried. But when I went over again last week (I've been salvaging some stuff they didn't haul away), the blackberry roots had sent up a bunch of new leaves & canes. So I went over this morning and dug up every clump that had sprung up outside of the bed they were originally planted in. I probably have close to 2 dozen clumps! Now I just need to decide where I'll be planting them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Egi

Eli, my freckled little wild animal, has a speech impediment. He can't pronounce the letter L, and substitutes "g" for it, occasionally "y". I am trying not to get worked up about it (mommy paranoia, you know), and I have to admit it's pretty cute sometimes. Really, who cares when a kid can say, "rollie-pollie," when instead they can say "rogie-pogie." Or "pigbug." "That's horribug!"

The school ladies tell me that the district will do nothing until he's enrolled in Kindergarden. So for now Egi Cyemens will go on being Egi Cyemens. His swimming teacher just thought I had given him a hardcore weirdo name until he heard me calling Eli to get out of the pool. "Oh, Eli! I thought "Egi" was a pretty weird name."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Chickens Have Landed

4 Barred Rocks, 3 Buff Orpingtons, and one Rhode Island Red. They aren't baby-baby chicks, but still very small and chirpy. I've made a pretty clever temporary feeder for them from a plastic bowl and a cut-up macaroni box, but I'm stumped for making a waterer. Might have to run over to the pet store. Now we have to finish the coop!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thrift Store Score

Nothing much today that might excite YOU, dear friends. But I nearly fell on the floor with happiness when I spotted Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution on the bookshelves at Goodwill today. I have been wanting Fukuoka's permaculture manifesto for at least a year now, but never wanted to pay $40 for a used copy. Now it appears it will be re-issued this summer. $10.85 is a great price and I would happily order it for that, but today I lucked out and got it for $2.

In other cheapskate news, my friend Stacy and her husband just bought a house. They moved in and left a lot of their stuff at the townhouse they were renting. As she was telling us about this, Julia and I managed to finagle her spare key so we could go over and paw through her "junk." Some of it was really just junk, but some of it was FREE BOOTY. I will be taking her 6-year-old washer & dryer set, and I hit the Tupperware mother lode, plus some Pampered Chef stuff (a mandoline! I've always wanted a decent mandoline!). Julia got some good stuff too. I am such a scrounge, and I love it.

Elizabeth (my chicken cohort) is in on the game, too. She spotted a bunch of plywood laying around somewhere and had her husband go get it, so now we have plenty of plywood to finish the coop with. Alas, the Wagon Train is all out of chicks right now, so I'll have to see if the feed store near my Mom has any. Viva pollos!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, Colleen, you sentimental ninny.

You've all seen Cars, right? Eli is obsessed with it. Remember at the end, when Chick Hicks bumps The King, The King has a horrible rollover crash, and Lightning stops to go back and make sure The King gets to finish his last race? Makes me cry every single time.

What's your guaranteed cry?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

El Canon Grande

OHMYGAWSH. It was awesome. I have never been prouder of Paul. We left Eli at my Mom's on Wednesday and drove all night to get there. Thursday morning we hiked down on the S. Kaibab trail to camp at Bright Angel. Paul whined a little bit halfway. "I didn't know it would be so FAR." Down, down, down 1 vertical mile and 7.9 miles of walking. He was a champ. He had a Happy Meal alien toy (from that Aliens Vs. Monsters movie) and that thing was like a magical totem. It kept him happy, he talked to it, he played games with it, it "flew" down the trail with us. We saw a loooong striped whipsnake, a young bighorn sheep, many rock squirrels, ravens, smaller birds, and a condor (flying overhead).

Friday we hiked halfway back up and camped at Indian Garden. Going up the "corkscrew" portion of the Bright Angel Trail, I suggested to Paul that he count the wooden steps set into the trail. I had no idea how successful that idea would be - he counted over 560 of them. We got to camp with plenty of time and played games, read books (they have a lending library at the IG information center). Since Dan didn't want to, I hiked/ran by myself out to Plateau Point for a quasi-sunset view of the inner canyon (you really should click that link, it's a 360-degree panorama). While I was gone, Dan had to play Go Fish with Paul and the alien. Paul helped the alien with his cards. Guess who won!

Friday night it rained. We had some water seep under the tent walls, but not much got wet (except for Paul's book Sapo y Sepo Son Amigos). Saturday morning it rained on and off. I had the tent almost dry and ready to pack when of course the clouds decided to give us a good soaking, so I ende dup packing the tent wet. I hate wet tents. Paul was in a full rain suit but still whined that he didn't want to hike in the cold and rain. "I just want to go home!" Eventually we got his mood turned around and it was time for the major, major climb up to the top. He counted the steps with gusto and got well over 1000 before we started breaking it into groups of 100. Every 100 wooden steps, he got a peanut M&M. This worked incredibly well! We had been behind a Boy Scout troop for our whole trip (we had the same itinerary), but we had gotten out of camp before them that morning so we also used that as motivation. "We'd better keep moving, Paul! Those scouts are gonna catch us!"

The rain was on and off for most of the hike up, but at the 1.5 mile resthouse it turned to hail. As we climbed higher, it turned into incredibly fat, slow-falling snow. It was magical. I was freezing. Paul was having a great time, sticking out his tongue to catch snow and counting steps. We finally made it to the top, where I got REALLY cold, but we hopped on a shuttle bus and that helped. Our car had 3+ inches of snow on it. we went to the village market and scarfed down hot food, and I finally felt warm again. Paul was as proud of himself as he could be. Almost everybody we passed on the trail was encouraging him and telling him what a great hiker he was. I think this trip was a huge boost for his self-image, and a huge boost for our hopes to have more awesome hikes with Paul in the future.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

6th folder 6th picture nonsense

another blog meme! this time you go to your My Pictures folder, go to the 6th folder, pick the 6th picture and then blog about it. here ya go:


I cheated a little bid, because picture #6 was dark and nobody was very visible. This is from Mother's Day 2008. After church, we went to Crescent Cove, which is a wee little beach in Laguna. I have made sunset at the beach a bit of a Mother's day tradition. The picture of me up at the top of the blog with the flower and the scarf is actually from this same day. After this, we walked south along the rocks and Dan was standing on an old sea wall when a wave swelled up and splashed him thoroughly. The boys remember it every time we go.

I tag YOU. get to it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Ahhh, Economizing

You may have heard that the worldwide economy is apparently not doing so well. We've actually been mildly concerned with this ourselves - not worried, but aware that it would probably eventually touch us in some way. We've semi-joked about our worst-case scenario plans (Montana in the summer, my aunt & uncle's Arizona ranch for the winter - they have a nice big barn where we could sleep). Some upper-level mucky-mucks at Dan's work were recently let go, so there has been some rumbling and mild unrest in the ranks.

Well, today we got the first of our own not-entirely-fantastic news. Pay cuts for everybody. It's better than a layoff, better than a kick in the teeth, but either we cut a significant chunk out of our monthly operating budget or we cut a significant chunk out of what goes in the savings account each month. I kinda sorta wish we had bought that cheap little place in the canyon; a $700 mortgage payment is looking really good now vs. our $2k rent.

So now I have to figure out where to trim. No more soda with our weekly Del Taco run - three 99-cent burritos and that will have to be it. I have actually been far too easily seduced by fast food lately and I'll just have to cut that out. The overall food budget is the most obvious place - it's the biggest monthly expense by far. I'll have to start being more serious about meal planning and shopping for the best prices. We need to find another family to swap babysitting with so we can still go on dates twice a month (that's $40+ a month we'll save by not paying babysitters). I'll have to be more diligent about eating everything we grow this summer and not letting food go to waste. I NEED TO LEARN TO CAN FOOD!

How cheap can you eat? I'm not going to resort to 10-cent ramen, but any websites or meal-planning resources you can provide will be awesome. This is bumming me out quite a bit - we had a very serious talk the other night about bringing additional kids into the family and now I'm afraid we won't be able to afford that. This also makes preschool for Eli much less likely this fall. Again, it's better than a layoff (although I had my fantasies about it, I admit). And there's no guarantee that there won't still be layoffs down the road. So no more plants - everything else will have to be from seed now. My carefree spendthrift days must come to an end. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Green Brain

I don't have a green thumb, I have green fever. I've been mapping out my plan for the backyard. I'll be ripping out the peas and fava beans soon and prepping the dirt for more flower seeds. I have seeds for cosmos, mexican torchflower (tithonia), blue flax, scarlet poppies, goldenrod, "root beer" agastache, blue cornflower, mexican hat, and alyssum - I'll be lining the backyard fence with the taller cosmos and tithonia and then filling in below them with the shorter flowers.

Now that the Chemistry exam is over (ugh, I might have squeaked a low A, probably a high B) I can focus on the garden. I have never been so glad to have Conference weekend coming up - a whole weekend to stay home and work on the yard! I have SO MUCH to put in! Two more tomato varieties - Zapotec Pink and something called "salsa." That makes nine varieties of tomatoes this year (Black Krim, Mr. Stripey, Purple Calabash, Hawaiian Pineapple, Old German, Early Girl, and the mystery seedling that came out of the compost pile)! I bought two Cinderella pumpkin vines, because I'm crazy and apparently growing Jarrahdale & Casper pumpkins just wasn't enough. The side yard's concrete patio will be a JUNGLE of vines this summer! I need to get in poles for the cucumbers, a trellis in front of the boys' window for the runner beans to climb up (and block the summer sun), transplant the bush beans and decide where on earth I'm going to trellis the trombetta squash (I'd like to grow it up the patio cover but I'm not sure how to do that). Carrot and radish seeds and a new set of beets... I'm killing myself now but it will all be worth it in summer when the place looks like a jungle.

Hopalong Blondie

Blondie and Tuco are our cats - they're brothers from the same litter. Since we've made them outdoor/indoor cats, Blondie has turned mysterious. Twice now he's disappeared for days on end. Last time, he came home after a week. This time, he was gone for five days and he came back looking pretty beat up and walking on his right front "wrist" instead of his foot. We cleaned him up, shaved his leg to see if there was any hidden damage, and meticulously felt his leg bones to see if we could detect a break. Nope. We let him rest and recuperate, but after another few days the limp was still there. Dan took him to the vet, and it turns out our Blondie is now partially paralyzed - it's a typical cat injury; he probably jumped from too high and damaged a nerve.

We could go to a veterinary neurologist, but the truth is we'd rather put our kids through college than theirs. So we'll see if the nerve damage reverses (it does sometimes), or if we just have a mildly disabled cat. Blondie doesn't seem to mind - I still can't keep him off the bed or the back of the couch or the kitchen counters.