Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Well, I have to admit I have been disgracefully bad in the "post something to your blog already" department. I apologize. I have been overwhelmed. And it's partly because I am a sucker.
Amid the craziness of holiday preparations and kids' schedules, I somehow detoured over to our local animal shelter. It is a dismal place. They try. Really, they do. I know this. I know they are way underfunded, and running almost entirely on volunteer labor. But despite knowing this I avoid the place because it depresses me tremendously. If I could get past this feeling I would volunteer there. But despite knowing I ran the risk of ruining my holiday, somehow I ended up there just the same.
I didn't really intend to bring home another dog. The kids had been talking about one. But I knew it would really have to be the right dog to work in our household. I love Teak; but he can be a bit...difficult. So, I guess you could say I was at the shelter sort of mentally trying on the idea of another dog. And that's when it happened.
Have you ever been picked by a dog? I hadn't. I had heard of it happening; but had never experienced it myself. Luna picked me. And believe me, when it happens, you know you have been picked. But still, I really hadn't intended to go home with a dog, so I didn't.
I went home and thought about it. And the next day I went back and walked the shelter property with the dog they had dubbed Mallory, a name which really didn't suit her at all, as far as I was concerned. This dog gave hugs. She gave kisses. She walked politely by my side. She played. She was the anti-Teak. She loved me and I loved her right back. Still, another dog? Now?
The next day, I took the kids, and Teak, to meet her. She came home with us. It was 3pm. At 9pm, the dog we had rechristened as Luna developed labored breathing, and massive quantities of foul green snot. I took her to the emergency vet. They ran tests. Took pictures of her innards. And then came back to tell me Luna had a horrendous case of pneumonia and a collapsed lung.
Three vet appointments and $1500 later, Luna is doing great! Christmas will be a little slimmer than expected this year. But we have an awesome new addition to our family. Say hello to Luna!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The problem I have been having is this: When I think of the things for which I am grateful, my head is filled with an endless stream of things. These things run the gamut and I haven't been able to narrow them down to a few categories it would make sense to discuss together. Well, I could... but only at the expense of other things I feel are equally important. What to do?!
Years ago, I had a writing instructor who very cruelly would make her students practice stream-of-conscience writing exercises. I absolutely hated this because if you tell me to write, I can't. (Or perhaps, won't...in an unconscious, born-rebel kinda way.) However (and you will never, ever see me say this again), there are times this particular exercise can be helpful. For example, it could be helpful when trying to express a great many things for which one is grateful... Here goes... Please do try to keep up!
I am thankful I will see my kids again tomorrow and that they have had this week with their dad and his family. I am thankful they are maturing into fine young people who will soon be on their own, and that they are still at home. I am thankful I have been able to be at home with them. I am thankful we have a home and that we feel safe in it. I am thankful I have never known starvation, or the terror of waking to the sounds of bombs exploding nearby in the night. I am thankful I have never had to worry about being killed for having been born into the "wrong" tribe. I am thankful that my own life path has been down a route that does not predispose me to understanding the "rationalization" process that occurred in the minds of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai; and I am thankful to have not experienced the kind of carnage they left behind. I am thankful that all I had to do this week was paint and clean and try to make sense of it all. I am thankful to have had a break, and to have been able to re-group and come up with at least a few answers to "where do we go from here?"- at least on a familial basis. I am thankful that I have realized that the things I really want to give my kids for Christmas are experiences. I am thankful for second chances, and for depression-era grandparents who thought ahead for their family. I am thankful for the help I have recieved over the years, and for the opportunities I have had to "pay it forward." I am thankful for the ability to let my children become who they really are rather than trying to fit them in some predetermined slot. I am crazy thankful for my garden and all the wonder and joy it brings into my life. I am thankful my interests are infinite and for the knowledge I shall never run out of things to do. I am thankful for having some truly wonderful friends. I am thankful for the new friends I've discovered on the blogosphere. I am thankful for humor and the ability to find a few laughs in the myriad things that go wrong around me. I am thankful I do not become paranoid I may be the cause of those things going wrong. I am thankful my kids are smart-asses and not dumb-asses. I am thankful my country managed to put someone reasonable and thoughtful into the White House this time around. I am thankful for flannel sheets in winter. I am thankful for snow, and crisp fall days, and the first forsythia of spring. I am thankful I was able to see the Soviet Union while it still was, and that I can tell my kids stories about that trip. I am thankful for cameras. I am thankful my kids have stamps in their passports, and curious hearts. I am thankful I have a great relationship with my kids. I am thankful their dad and I have learned to get along. I am thankful their dad and I live 1100 miles apart. I am thankful for books, and the ability to read, and the ability to write. I am thankful for the times my thoughts come out the way they sounded in my head. I am thankful for the time Teak races gleefully around, like a puppy. I am thankful none of the appliances have crapped out yet. I am thankful that I can appreciate what I have, and what I don't have. And I am thankful for many, many more things...
Friday, November 28, 2008
So, just a quick post about the sunroom happenings then... The good news: the cherry tomatoes are delicious. The herbs are doing great. The celery is slow growing, but doing well enough that I can harvest a bit now and then. The potato plant has really taken off, although I think one of the stems is getting too long. The radishes seem to be doing well and I should be able to eat some soon. And the banana tree is doing it's thing, despite being wounded by an airsoft pellet passing through one leaf.
The bad news: All of the beans succumbed. I still don't know exactly what disease they had; but I will toss all their soil as a precaution. And the spinach was no match for the kitties, who figured out how to get the wire cage off it so they could romp (and stomp) in the spinach.
I will be starting more seeds soon. But I have a few things to take care of first. I am finding the cost of heating the sunroom to be prohibitive. So I am considering moving some of the plants into the living room/ dining room, and starting the seedlings in the basement, which is actually staying rather warm. So, while nothing is written in stone as yet, the sunroom garden may become the basement and rest-of-the-house garden. We'll see.
Oh, and the worm bin is coming along beautifully. The worms are slowly working their way through the leaves I had added a little while back. They are just about done with them and have turned them into a beautiful bin of black worm poo that I can't wait to feed to the plants. Go worms!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The cherry tomatoes ripening in the sunroom. There is now one less than in the photo as I ate the first one. Yum!
The rest of the pics are a couple weeks old now. The nasturtium were going strong in the garden, but have now been flattened by frost. I will miss them over the winter. They are such a welcoming sight in the garden.
It's not beautiful, but my first ever garlic bed. I planted two types and the early variety has all sprouted. A neighboring cat has dug in the bed a little since the photo was taken. Bad kitty! Shoo!
And last but not least, a shot of the potato plant in the sunroom. It is MUCH larger now! Go potato, go!
Today is Saturday, November 22. But we need to rewind my life a little bit, to the week leading up to Halloween. I was sick that week with a head/chest/fevers type thing. For the first time ever, on Halloween I put the candy bowl on the porch and stayed in so as not to share my ick. The day after Halloween, both my kids came down with the ick, and spent the next few days rather unhappily. By November 4, we were all feeling well enough to stay up to watch the presidential election results and Obama’s speech.
The morning of November 5, however, I awoke feeling as if the world was slipping out from under my feet, first one way, and then another. It was vertigo and I had it bad. Bad enough that for the next few days if I tried to do anything that involved not being flat on my back, I would vomit and then silently wish for a swift death. After about a week of vertigo I was able to get up and do things, which was good because while the children had managed to keep us all alive, the house had been trashed to a truly awe-inspiring and unprecedented degree. Although I had just spent a week wishing I could get out of bed, upon surveying the damage all I wanted was to go back to bed, slip my head under the covers, and never, ever come back out.
But, of course, that is not the responsible thing to do. The responsible thing to do is to start cleaning up the disaster, and so I did. One of my first acts was to gather up the great many wayward papers strewn about the upstairs and haul them to the recycling box downstairs. This should have been a fairly straight-forward chore. I gathered up an armload of papers and headed down the stairs, whereupon I put my foot down on an unidentified something (I suspect a kitty toy) that launched out from under my foot. My foot launched out from under me. The papers launched out of my arms. And my body wump-wump-wumped down the stairs on my tailbone. On my downward journey, my glasses flew off, I whacked an elbow on a stair, and knocked an ankle and my neck out of joint. The papers landed on poor Teak, who had been sleeping at the bottom of the stairs. For two days afterward he eyed me warily and slunk away if I approached him. This episode was on November 13 and afterwards I actually did go back to bed for a couple days. I could get around to feed myself and such; but I couldn’t sit, or carry anything. After a couple days, I felt much improved. Not exactly swell, mind you, but if I chose the right spot and the right position I could actually sit for a bit. Plus, I had to prepare to travel a week later. And first on the list was getting the car to the shop for an oil change and check-up.
My mother and I had a deal. I would follow her to the shop and we’d leave her car to have the window fixed- and when that was done we’d leave my car. So she pulls out of her driveway, and I pull into the road behind her, and I smell the strongest gas smell ever. It was so thick in the air I actually started choking on it in my car, and this with the windows shut. Then I saw it. Gasoline was spraying, no, gushing out the bottom of my mother’s car in front of me. She seemed blissfully unaware. When she stopped at a light I ran up and tapped on her window. She’d had no idea. When the light changed we continued on toward the repair shop, and I whipped out my cell phone and called my dad- who had just flow to the opposite coast and would be away for a month. Now, Dad is the go-to guy in our family. He can fix anything and on the off chance he doesn’t have the right supplies and can’t macgyver something, then at the very least he can tell you what’s wrong and what needs to be done. The conversation went like this:
Dad: “Hey there, what’s up?”
Me: “I’m following Mom to Buddy’s…”
Dad: “Oh good, I’m gl-”
Me: “AND GASOLINE IS GUSHING OUT THE BOTTOM OF HER CAR!!!”
There was silence.
Dad: “I cannot imagine why that would be happening.”
There was silence. That was not a Dad answer.
Dad: “Are you sure it’s gas?”
Me: “Yes. What I really want to know is, is it safe to continue driving the car to the shop?”
Dad: “I don’t know; but I suggest just getting over there as quickly as possible and seeing what Buddy can tell us.”
Me: “Okay. Thanks.”
So, having received these instructions, I hung up just in time to see my mother pulling into a gas station. She…um…got gas…and we continued on our perilous journey. At the last stop light before the repair shop, she pulled into the turn lane- right next to a car with the driver’s window open. I about had a heart attack. It was cold. Who drives with their window open in the cold unless they are smoking?! Apparently (thankfully) there is one guy in Maryland who drives with his window open in the cold even though he’s not smoking. Nobody blew up. It was great! We made our turn, and Mom ran out of gas just as she pulled up in front of Buddy’s shop. By now I imagine you are wondering why her car was spewing gasoline. The answer is… squirrels. ‘Nough said. A couple days later, my car went to the shop in a peaceful, not-at-all-disturbing way and came home with a clean bill of health. Good car. I love you.
The rest of the week was filled with various mundane trip preparations such as laundry and house cleaning, and less mundane but more annoying things such as marveling over how much one cat can barf and how she can make sure to only do it in the one room that still has carpeting. Plus, my laptop died, the dishwasher and clothing dryer have both started sqealing, and now that I have replaced the toilet that ran constantly, my bathroom sink has decided to run constantly. I replaced all the seals, and it was good for a day and is now worse. I was actually beginning to look forward to leaving the whole damn house behind on Friday. Until Thursday morning when my son (who I initially mistook for my daughter) flew out of his bedroom into the bathroom, followed by the sounds of retching. Are you kidding me?!
Well, vomit or no vomit we were leaving Friday morning. Twice a year the kids go to Minnesota to spend time with their Dad and his family. And fortunately, the vomiting was short lived. Which was good, because come Friday morning I was a little short on patience. It was Teak’s fault. He started barking three hours before my alarm was set to go off, and he wouldn’t shut up until I got up and checked out the entire freaking house. Everything was fine. Everything except that I was awake three freaking hours early and now had a dilemma. My body needs a certain contiguous number of hours of sleep to be functional. So, it would seem reasonable to the uninitiated that I should just go back to bed. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at sleeping for short periods of time- if I wake up early, I’m a bear; and then there’s the possibility that I will simply launch the alarm clock into orbit and not get up. This second possibility seemed like a distinct danger Friday morning, but I went back to bed anyway. After all, I had a long drive ahead of me. And in the end it didn’t matter because the dog started barking again when the alarm went off and he is the one thing I can’t sleep through.
So, I got up. Finished packing. Looked out the window. Wait a minute! Snow? Naturally. We load the car in the snow. Wonder how long I will be driving through the snow. It is very pretty, and really not all that cold. At first. But by Pittsburgh it was a real nuisance and damn cold. And when we hit Ohio, we hit whiteout conditions. It was awful. At times I couldn’t tell where the road stopped. Just before exit 187 I became disoriented by a single flashing light at ground level- until I realized it was a reflection from a blinking tailight on a car nose down in a ditch. We called it in but didn’t dare stop. We drove head on into the storm from our house in eastern Maryland to our meeting point in Indiana. It took 13 hours. We arrived at our hotel just after midnight. I slept until 9, turned the kids over to their dad, and drove 10 hours back home. Half an hour from home, out in the boonies, the only road I knew how to take home from I-83 was closed due to some kind of massive bad thing involving smoke and ambulances. I was “detoured”, sans signage, into the dark, rural night. Fortunately, I was behind a car that guessed well at a couple confusing intersections. I stopped at Mom’s to get Teak. She asked how I liked her paint job. She’d painted the dining room. I looked at the front wall. And the back wall. And back at the front wall.
Me: “Is this from two different cans?”
Me: “What, did you run out of the stuff from the living room?”
Me: “The back wall looks sort of purple.”
Mom: “Yup. I asked for the same thing as the other can, but it didn’t look anything like it when I opened it.”
Mom: “I can live with it.”
So I took my dog and we went home. The cats greeted us at the door, and then played coy like they hadn’t really missed us after all. I handed out treats and then got the brilliant idea to check the voice mail. You really shouldn’t do that when you first arrive home from a nerve-wracking trip because a) you might be inundated with quasi-urgent messages when you really just need to relax, b) you might have no messages and realize nobody gives a damn what you just went through, or c) you might discover, as I did, that your phone is disconnected. What fresh hell is this?!?!
I think very hard and decide that yes, I did pay the phone bill. So I turn on the computer and log on to my Verizon account to make sure they received payment. After giving myself a headache trying to decifer the online bill, I conclude that yes, they received payment. Okay, so I guess we need a service call. After more searching through the website I uncover the phone number to call for service. I get a very pleasant automated woman’s voice, although in the end I start wished her plug would be pulled. After a great deal of button pushing and question answering, she tells me she is unable to determine where the problem is, tells me to do some home diagnostics, and to call back tomorrow when I’ve got more to tell her. I curse at the automated woman, who is very sorry, but she didn’t “get that”, and hang up. I look for the box I am supposed to find in order to do the home diagnostics. And then I am sidetracked, into the office, where I discover that the kitties had knocked the office phone reciever off the cradle. Had they been calling for help? Trying to locate me? Or Teak? Inviting friends over? I replace the reciever, wait, and then lift it. There’s the dial tone! Woo hoo! (Diagnose this robo-chick! You couldn’t just tell me to go find the phone that was off the hook? Jeesh!)
And that was the point at which I had had enough. I turned on the television. And sat. Until one of the kitties knocked over the lamp next to the sofa. The kitties scattered. And the dog retreated downstairs where lamps wheren’t flying around. But I just set the lamp back upright and continued watching television. But when the news came on I had to turn it off. I dunno. I just didn’t feel I could stand to listen to any bad news. Because, you know, life as I know it can be rather trying at times. Sometimes I just go through the motions wondering “is this life really even possible?” Seriously, wouldn’t spontaneous combustion be more probable than all this happening at once?
So, remember to savor the little joys and triumphs. If you can do that, rolling with the punches will be a piece of cake. Most days.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Have you ever seen a big purple moon? No, I haven't either. But I am pretty sure that is what I would see if I could turn my body far enough to see my backside in a mirror.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I know that the whole world watched this election with us. And I know that we, the American people, have taken a huge step in the right direction toward regaining the respect of our global neighbors.
For any other politician, the tasks before Barack Obama would seem impossible tasks. But Obama’s life story itself is an “impossible” story, his win an “impossible” win. I have faith (more than I’ve had in a very long time) that if anyone can responsibly, successfully tackle these tasks, Barack Obama can.
And behind this singular, spectacular man… there was the movement. Inspired people from all walks of life, working together to bring the change they believe in. This was the most hopeful movement I have ever witnessed. This movement was a vote for hope. And if we, the people, continue to work together for the changes we believe in it would be hard not to move our country to a better place.
Yes We Can!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The woman behind me in line had a British accent. For a moment I wondered if the world had decided they could no longer trust us with our own elections. And then I wondered what had prompted her to become one of us.
I have voted at the same polling place for years. It has always been staffed by a gaggle of little old ladies and a couple of old men. This year, the usual crew was there- but so were several youngsters, twenty-somethings I would guess. It was really nice to see the new guard. There was also a noticeable increase in the number of younger voters, at least while I was standing there.
I didn't have any trouble with the voting machine. We have touch-screens here. You plug in a credit card type card and then use the touch screen. Then when you finalize your selections (vote) the machine spits out your card and you go deposit it in a box by the exit and pick up your "I Voted" sticker on your way out. Easy peazy.
So I did that- and then true to my word, I went and bought a nice bottle of wine. I picked a Saint M Riesling that I've enjoyed before. And now that polls are starting to close in many of the eastern states, I think it is time to break out the wine and settle into a cozy spot with my cross-stitch.
But, you know, no matter what the results are, I can honestly say that Obama's campaign, and Obama the man, have changed me for the better. And I think he has changed a lot of other people too. I think he re-introduced hope where it was flagging. He set a new tone- perhaps the most gentlemanly campaign in my memory (not perfect, of course, but certainly a breath of fresh air). And you know, I have noticed a change in the way people of color in my community carry themselves and interact with me. This bit by itself is solid gold, in my opinion. I love that Obama makes a point of making time for his family. I love the way he and Michelle interact. The man has raised the bar. 'Bout time.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Personally, I plan to vote and then go buy a bottle of good wine to enjoy in the evening while feeding the media's latest best guesses to my daughter and working on my cross-stitch project. Due to rheumatoid arthritis, I have not been able to cross-stitch in a long time. But a new baby in the family prompted me to give it a shot again and I have just started stitching a bib. It's a manageable project. I look forward to spending tomorrow evening on an activity I have missed, while taking in my children's election commentary, and a bit of that good wine.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Even more exciting...and this also falls under "how could I be so stupid"... remember that bean flower that crumbled in on itself? Um hmm... yep, it's formed a baby bean. It is absolutely the cutest baby veggie I have ever seen. Naturally, my camera refuses to capture this awesome cuteness. But I will try to find a camera that will be more accommodating so I can share this. Woo hoo! Beans a'comin'!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The first bush bean flower opened today. The flower I thought would open first ended up "failing"- it sort of crumped in on itself. Not sure why. But I have a first bloom and more on the way.
The paste tomatoes are thinking about flowering. There are "buds" in various stages of development. One set in particular looks as if it may open very soon. Homegrown tomatoes for Christmas? We'll see...
The spinach is doing its thing, although the seedlings are a little leggy. I need to correct their lighting.
I did bring in a pot of parsley today. And then the cold, cold rain started. I may bring in some more tomorrow- as well as the eggplant, if I can find a large enough pot for that. Maybe I have another empty kitty litter jug I could repurpose for that? Hmm...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
When Teak and I went out the front door this morning, we discovered a large, sawed off branch in our front yard between our house and the neighbor's. This particular tree, a particular type of maple, is not in our front yard. It's not in our neighbor's yard anywhere. It isn't across the street. No, this particular tree is in our back yard, on the other side, by the other next door neighbor. Did I mention this branch was sawed off? Well, actually, it looks like one of those long-armed branch clipping tools was used on it. Sooo, we took a stroll around to the back and had a good look at this particular tree and lo! there was a clipped branch missing it's end. Now, this particular tree is up close to our house. It isn't anywhere near any of our property lines. Nobody has any excuse for cutting this tree, except me, should I so choose! Who would have done this? Naturally, I suspect CAN (that's Crazy-Ass Neighbor for the uninitiated). But he lives behind us. And why would he, or anyone, do this? What beef could he possibly have with this tree? I am baffled, and more than a bit miffed.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Also, I tried to get a picture of the potato that is sprouting for Melinda, but something is not right with my camera. I can't zoom in on things I'm already close to. I don't know what happened. Used to be able to; can't now. One of these days when I don't have a million other things to do I will read the book and try to figure out whats wrong. But until then, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
No, I'm just kidding. This 40 year old toilet was running non-stop, using far more water than the new efficient ones, and then the seal decided to fail and it leaked around the base as well. So, I learned a new skill- toilet replacement! Even though I had to get my father to pull it out- the bolts had rusted for 40 years and I was physically unable to budge them- overall I am pretty happy with myself. I did manage to install the new one completely on my own. Unfortunately, I did this the day after our town's bulk trash pick up. So here sits the old one until the next pick up date. We have been tossing around ideas for how to use this for Halloween. The most disgusting idea so far is to place the candy bowl in the toilet bowl. But I just don't think I can go there. We also considered installing a couple of arms so they are reaching out of the bowl. And my personal favorite would be to sit a skeleton on top, reading the newspaper. Oh, no! Yesterday my daughter suggested my new favorite! Have the skeleton retching into the bowl and fill the bowl with candy. Yes! Diabolical, disgusting, and hysterical!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
At the moment, the sunroom winter garden includes: a pot-o-celery, three tomato plants, four not-dead-yet bush beans and one ha-ha-I'm-immune-to-whatever-you-have bush bean (with any luck at all I'll save seed from that one), several radish seedlings (those that survived being pounced on by the kitten), one yellow pepper plant brought in from the garden, a pot of mint, two pots of basil, a just sprouting potato plant, and the Dwarf Cavendish banana. Oh, and a flat of spinach that should germinate soon. And two giant aloe pups given to me by a fellow freecycler. That might be it. Oh... nope... also a bucket of flowers I couldn't bear to see succumb to the frost. That might be it. So far. But I really do need to start some more seeds.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The bad news is that when I opened the bin last night a fruit fly flew out. Just one. But where there's one... I am pretty sure I can tell you how that fly entered the bin. The day before, I added a tub of food scraps I had been keeping in the freezer for a number of days- maybe even a week. (Remember that post about freezing and microwaving food before it goes in the bin to avoid fruit flies?) That tub of scraps had, prior to the freezer, been sitting out on the counter and I remember seeing a couple (evil) fruit flies lurking about. So, the lesson here, I think, is that freezing alone is not a cure-all for the fruit flies. I will switch to nuking the scraps and see what happens. Fingers crossed that there are no more signs of fruit flies when I next open the bin... Stop laughing. It's possible...
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Can you see them? These are radish sprouts I planted in the gap left when I pulled out the dying bean plant. These babies were poking though the soil the third day after I planted them. I am always amazed by germination! I had hoped to have a close-up shot of one of the baby radishes. But my camera and I have been having some rather heated disagreements over whether or not it should focus properly for close-ups. Personally, I feel I have made some good arguments; yet the camera continues to win.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
At some un-godly early hour, as the sun was just starting to drag its sleepy butt over the horizon, Teak started barking. Teak likes to bark, but he also likes to sleep. Usually, he doesn't start barking until the neighbors head off to work. But this morning was different.
I tried to ignore him. I really did. But he sounded so... scared. I stumbled down the stairs and tracked the sound to the office. There was my brave dog (cough), hunkered down on the far side of the room, barking madly to alert me to the mass exodus of the worms!
Okay, it wasn't really all the worms. The older, wiser worms and the younger, less mobile worms all seemed content to remain in the bin. It was the darn teenage worms who were out roaming. I think they may have been on drugs. One of them had actually made a beeline for the sunny sliding glass door. What kind of worm goes toward light? Well, I'll tell you! A very confused worm!
I think perhaps they were jostled a bit much en route to their new home. At any rate, I think I can now add "worm wrangler" to my resume. And by tonight, they all seemed content to hang with the 'rents in the bin. Much to Teak's relief...
Thursday, October 2, 2008
First, let me just say that Palin's handlers did a really good job prepping her to the "basic foreign issues" level of knowledge. Not foreign policy; but to the level of being able to drop names... names I strongly suspect she was previously entirely unfamiliar with, such as Ahmadinejad. Clearly, she was not prepped to the level of being able to actually engage on foreign policy issues or economic issues. Which brings me to what irks me so much... She was not there to debate. She said as much herself. When did it become acceptable to go to a debate and announce that you don't plan to answer the questions? Buy an ad lady!
I have to admit that Palin had me smiling when she spoke. But it wasn't a smile of agreement. I can appreciate her skill at "folksiness", although I think the winking at the camera bit is going too far. For this voter, at least, that is the wrong angle to take. Sarah Palin wants me to believe she's so much like me she understands my concerns. She's one of us! Well, yep... she is just like your neighbor. Would you put your neighbor in the White House? I wouldn't put any of mine there.
So, in the end, my opinion of Palin is not really changed. She still misuses vocabulary. She still relies upon verbiage (which btw Sarah, is a word I can use correctly). She still relies heavily upon making a "connection" with the voters, and avoids anything substantive. She's all gussy, no guts. She brought a good show, but had little to add to the conversation.
Biden, I thought, had a pretty good night. He managed to not shove his foot in his mouth. And he clearly demonstrated his knowledge and experience. He also was able to offer specifics about the Obama-Biden "plan" and to humanize himself to voters by sharing an emotional, personal, and traumatic aspect of his own life. Two actually. The mention of his first wife's death was touching, but in a wholly to-be-expected way. It was a little bit unexpected to see this seasoned senator convey his emotions surrounding his son's deployment. It is easy to expect our senators to be emotionally removed from the decisions they make with regard to war. It is good to be reminded that they are personally invested in this too. It's not just a job.
Actually, come to think of it, I think maybe Biden presented himself better than Palin, McCain, and Obama. Go Joe!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This next picture is of the package of meshy stuff I used to cover the air holes. I wanted something that would permit good air-flow, but inhibit bug infiltration. I am sooo not a big fan of fruit flies! I have read that some people either freeze their scraps or microwave them before adding them to the worm bin in an effort to prevent fruit flies (by killing any eggs laid on the scraps). The "worm food" I've been saving the last few days went into the freezer. Anyway, this meshy stuff is actually replacement filter material for window air conditioners. It is washable, so if it gets gross I can clean it and re-use it. I read Encyclopedia Hydroponica's blog entry about the modifications he made to his worm bin. He used nylon pantyhose to cover the air holes on his bin. I worried that nylons would be too fine for good air flow and would possibly grow mold from the humidity of the bin. So I went with this air conditioner filter stuff. I'll let you know how it works out.
This next pic shows the section of hardware cloth I cut and set in the bottom of the bin. It serves a couple purposes. It helps distribute the weight over the whole bottom after I cut that hole in the middle. It also allows the worms to pass through into the next bin, while supporting and retaining the materials accumulated in the bin. The bottom hole looks dark because it is covered, on the exterior, by a piece of the air conditioner filter. That should keep the worms from exiting prematurely and also deter bug infiltration. But back to the hardware cloth- this picture doesn't show it, but because the edges were sharp, I melted a little paraffin wax to coat the edges. Don't want my wormies getting torn up! For the second bin I will probably coat the entire piece of hardware cloth. But this time I was racing the clock...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I purchased two ten-gallon plastic rubbermaid bins and was all set to drill air and drainage holes in them when it occurred to me that I, the daughter of an engineer, might be able to come up with something just a little more interesting, something that might help me avoid some of the vermi-pitfalls I've read about online. Ho ho! This will be fun! Besides, I have a good week or so before my worms arrive...
There were a few emails back and forth with Bentley, the Compost Guy from Red Worm Composting (see last post)- and then he slips in, "Oh, by the way, your worms shipped today. Got them out early. Should arrive Wednesday or Thursday."
That's great! I'm giddy with excitement! But, hmmm...hmm.... that means... I have to start and finish the bin project tomorrow! Should I just go with the standard internet bin plans? Play it safe? Nah... where would the sport be in that?!
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Worm Casa Saga...
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So, I think the thing to do is start a worm bin. The idea of buying worms (and gosh, have you seen the price of them?!) is a little hard to deal with. But, I figure it beats spending hours digging up the yard and garden looking for the buggers. But there is no way I am going to buy one of those overpriced bins. I've seen some directions to make your own and I think I'll give it a try. I'll keep you posted on how it works out. Anybody else keeping a bin of worms? Any tips for vermi-success?
*Update: In researching how, exactly, to make this bin, I came upon Compost Guy's site, Red Worm Composting. If you have an interest in learning more about keeping worms, this is a great place to start!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I guess I should say that I was happy that this debate actually bore some resemblance to a real debate. I think it may be the first in my voting life to do so. I also think a closer examination of high school debate may be in order for the organizers of these events. But overall, I believe this was a (tiny) step forward for American politics.
McCain was a disappointment. He did manage to show off his foreign policy knowledge; but I didn't like his attitude. He has a tendency to get cocky. I find that unattractive in general, but downright inappropriate in a presidential candidate. Especially at this time in our history. We are already viewed as cocky abroad. We do not need another administration to reinforce that.
I was also surprised that McCain muddled his way through the beginning of the debate. I have to wonder what he spent the last few weeks doing? Clearly, he did not resolve the crashing economy problem (or, by some accounts, even participate all that much in trying to resolve it). But it looked as if he didn't spend the time preparing for the debate either.
This really was highlighted by obama's uber-preparation. Honestly, I think he must have been that kid in school whose hand shot up first, and who gave the correct answer, plus all the related information you never wanted to know. But there's something to be said for that. Obama at times seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge base, from which he is able to draw very quickly. That's got to be a good trait in a "world leader."
McCain seemed to be appealing very heavily to voters emotions. Obama presented as very rational. I think they both went a little too far. Obama needs to find a comfortable level of personalization. He strikes me as someone who has learned to guard his reactions and not give away too much. Nice feature for a politician already at the table, but a bit hard for the voters to see through. McCain, I thought, was too emotional. And sort of condescending. But the thing that actually angered me about McCain was his refusal to look at Obama, or to address him directly. That is ugly, unacceptable behavior. Obama has surprised a lot of people (including Hillary) by bringing a serious game. He is a worthy and prepared opponent. If McCain has nothing else positive to say about the guy, he should at least be able to acknowledge and respect that. So once again, I have to say McCain's behavior was sophomoric. And that's not very presidential in my book.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The idea of perennial vegetables makes so much sense to me. I don't know why this hasn't been explored more in North America, although Toensmeier does offer a few possibilities. I don't think I would ever give up my annual vegetables in favor of perennials. But a mix of the two would be nice. And in times of great turmoil, having at least some vegetables already established would be a great comfort.
So, added to my garden goals for the coming year is to include at least a couple perennial vegetables. This will be a fun experiment! Which ones are in your garden?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The pictures really don't do it justice. I'm sure my new neighbors thought I was a little weird when they saw me standing out there next to the garage staring at the clematis- over and over again.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This first one is of my "baby grapes." I was so excited when I realized the three mature Concord vines out back were really doing their thing. The result... baby pictures, naturally.
I am probably supposed to thin these out or something. I don't know. I've never had grape vines before! I don't have a photo of the mature grapes. But I do have a bowl of them in the fridge, so perhaps tomorrow I will snap a quick pic for an update. They are dark and lovely, and the grapiest smelling grapes I have ever encountered. My plan for the ones in the bowl is to make jelly. This is actually my second attempt- although the first attempt only failed because it took me so long to get around to it that the grapes got tired of waiting and went bad. What can I say? Life gets busy sometimes!
The difference between living things and non-living things is profound. The way I see things, there is something truly magical about two non-living bits coming together and becoming something living. That is something that humans can't do. A mother can contribute her non-living bit and a father can contribute his non-living bit and together they can bring them together- but they are not actually responsible for "breathing life" into them. I don't know if there's a God; but the question of who/what does this is the one reason I don't rule it out. And because of that magic of non-living becoming living, something which I can't do, I feel it would be wrong to undo. So for me, abortion is wrong.
However, this is also an issue I would never want to legislate. It is too personal for me to tell someone else what they should do on this issue and I can forsee instances where medically or perhaps otherwise it would be for the better to perform an abortion. My views are nothing more or less than where I am at on an issue at this time. I may feel differently in the future.
I can tell you that I think people who push for abstinence education exclusively, and reject more comprehensive sex education, are misguided. I think their actions are counterproductive. Sure, encourage abstinence. But acknowledge that people are people are prepare them for the situations they will encounter sooner or later. I can also tell you I do not think it is responsible to use abortion as a method of birth control. There are plenty of alternatives to prevent pregnancy and lots of people who would love to adopt an infant you don't feel you can raise. In my view, abortion-as-birth-control is one of the unseemlier expressions of human selfishness and irresponsibility.
But again, that is all just what I think about the issue right now. That may change. I don't know. And I have no interest in telling other people what they should do on this one.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Fortunately, the power wasn't out all that long yesterday. But it was a good reminder of how far away from being able to handle an extended outage we really are here. My parents have a generator that is wired to automatically start up when the power fails. It is awfully convenient. But even that would run only so long in a really extended outage. So my goals look beyond relying on a generator to figuring out how to manage without the grid or fossil fuels. Unfortunately, preparing on that level will probably cost a bundle. But I can do it bit by bit as I am able.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
On the up side, we did have a garden this year. This was a first for the kids and the "novelty" of growing our own food trumped their usual new-food-suspicion. I put in exactly one eggplant plant, thinking there was no way the kids were going to eat eggplant. But they were totally excited when we harvested the first one. "THIS came from OUR garden?! Awesome!" How cool is that?
We have also started a compost pile. We have contributed so much to it that we could actually use another. Although I have noticed that when I ignore this one for a bit, it does its thing and before I know it there is room for new additions. Ah, the miracle of decomposition!
Now, I should point out that I don't actually expect a social/economic upheaval that would require us to be self-sufficient. But stranger things have happened! I just think it is prudent to be able to take care of oneself if necessary. Plus, there is an enormous sense of satisfaction and comfort that comes with every step we take toward self-sufficiency.
I would love to hear about your journey toward self-sufficiency- and any tips you'd like to share.
Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Gina is an artist. She's currently doing, for the first time, illustrations for a childrens book. She brought her "progress" over to show us- and it is really neat to see the process! She is adding "background enrichment" to her illustrations- that is, stuff that wasn't specifically mentioned in the book but which gives children a lot to examine (and learn from, hopefully). I love what she's done with it; but we discussed the possibility that the author might not be too impressed. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, I think there is a real need for the kind of details Gina has added. So many childrens books are all fluff, no substance. But what she is doing takes what is really just "a cute story" and uses it as a springboard for really stimulating young minds. Go Gina!
We talked about our boys and their "handwriting issues." My daughter pulled up the SNL Palin/Clinton skit because Gina hadn't seen it yet. She loved it. Natch. And I got to complain about my tree assaulting crazy neighbor.
It was a good time. But too short.
Most recently, I picked up a full-size carpet cleaner. The lady who gave it away said it worked but leaked and she didn't know why and had given up on it. Within a week of picking it up, my dog became ill and ended up, um, "leaking" from both ends all over my carpet (see yesterdays post). He's doing much better after a trip to the vet. And now my carpet is doing much better too, thanks to my freebie carpet cleaner. And as for the leak, after a quick exam, my novice opinion is that a seal wore out. The Hoover website sells replacement seals for about $1.50. I think I can swing that!
Before the carpet cleaner, I picked up a small, bagless, upright vacuum that a lady was offering because one wheel kept falling off when she used it. I looked at it after I picked it up and saw that a little plastic tab that holds the wheel on had become pushed in too far. I carefully repositioned it as best I could. For the most part, the wheel now stays on. The occassional wheel escape does not bother me and here's why... This little vacuum is the best vac I have ever owned! It sucks up everything! And there's no bag to mess with. I pop the canister out, dump it, pop it back in, we're good to go!
I have also picked up: plants for my garden, an awesome pedestal table, enough cement blocks to build a raised garden bed, a rollaway bed for guests, and a number of other things. The price for all this? Nothing but my time and a little gas money.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
1. McCain knew he had the republican nomination in the bag months before Clinton and Obama quit swinging at each other. How did McCain use that "gift time" to prepare for the looming race? Well, I dunno. Vacation maybe? But here's what he apparently didn't do: prepare a detailed plan for how he would bring about real change if elected, tell the wacko party extremists to shove it, come up with a coherent plan to confront the democrats and prevent this election from causing voter brain death like so many of the most recent elections.
2. How long has the McCain camp been shouting at us that McCain is a maverick who stands up to Washinton-as-usual? And yet he caves to the extreme portion of his party and picks a wholly unqualified individual as his VP rather than someone we could take seriously.
3. McCain had no trouble finding his balls when it came to accusing the Obama campaign of sexism for stating the obvious about Palin. But it seems to me that if Palin had been exactly who she is but UGLY, McCain wouldn't have chosen her. Ever. THAT, my friends, is sexism. And again, this is not the prom!
4. Picking Palin: This, in my book, amounts to reckless endangerment of our entire nation. Once again, the rest of the world has a good reason to laugh at us- and to be very, very afraid. And it is more than a little cocky of McCain to be so confident that there is no possibility Palin could have to take over for him. Sometime it happens. Would HE want to find himself depending on her ability to make world-affecting decisions?
5. His Madagascar-esque campaign style. "If you have any poo, fling it now."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The other neighbor of concern is a guy who lives behind us. Two days ago I heard a chainsaw that sounded very near and looked out my window to see a man I didn't know hacking away at the trees that line the back of my property! Apparently he lives behind us. But he never knocked on the door to discuss whatever his issue is with my trees. He just took it upon himself to come and do major pruning. Now, I understand about the rights of neighbors to trim up to property lines when they think their property is in danger. And if my trees were threatening this guys fence, I would have trimmed them myself. But they weren't. He apparently just doesn't like them! So, right now, there is a giant pile of brush from my trees piled on the street in front of this guy's house, and at least as much still in his backyard.
What kind of a person does this? To say I am seriously unimpressed by his vigilante landscaping is a major understatement. Aside from the facts that he trespassed and intentionally damaged my property, I now have a "wonderful" view of the back of his house and a sound conduit from his dogs' vocal chords and the busy street traffic in front of his house straight to my house. But what bothers me the most is that he didn't have the decency to just knock on the door and talk to me about whatever was bothering him. I'm a pretty reasonable person. If he'd introduced himself, he'd know that.