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


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


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.