Tuesday, December 30, 2008

sew groovy

The event that sort of kicked off our string of bad luck was the passing of Lee's maternal grandmother back in October. Since then, we have been making trips to Montgomery to help clear out her house. I believe it's safe to say that this woman kept everything. EVERYthing. I spent a good hour tossing items from the pantry that were not from this decade (or this century, for that matter). Some of the canned goods were oozing black from the bottom (can you say botulism?). My hour of labor yielded no visible results; the pantry is still packed.

So when I was asked whether I might be interested in a closet full of fabric, I was inclined to say no. I am trying to get rid of stuff, not collect it. And when I say a closet full, I mean that she could have started a small fabric store. But once I started going through it, I just couldn't help myself. There was some really good stuff in there:

Those are just a couple of samples of the HUGE and HEAVY bag full of fabric I must now wash. (It's kinda old and stale.) Once it's all ready, I can get to it using this:

Time to start making things for next Christmas....

Monday, December 29, 2008

at long last

Other than some sinus irritation, Leah's MRI results are normal.

Phew. (As opposed to phick.)

The doctor's office was extremely apologetic about how long it took. The holidays, combined with the moving picture quality of the results, delayed the feedback. Thank goodness we don't have to do that again. I'll be consulting with them and the pediatrician again next week to determine whether we need to shift gears and visit the twitch clinic. Some days it's so minimal that we hardly think about it; others it's so bad that she holds her eye and asks for a warm, wet washcloth, and the worry grabs hold again. The twitch clinic would try to determine whether it's your basic twitch, or whether it looks more like Tourette's (the age of onset fits).

Did I hide my nervous wreckishness well?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

would you like to play a game?

CAPTCHA: Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart

Of all the captchas I encounter on various different sites, I like Blogger's the best. They're readable, they don't include numbers, and they're never actual words, although they have actual word potential. Perfect nonsense.

For several days, I have been recording my captchas with the goal of creating definitions for them. (Here is where taking Latin instead of French and Spanish would have been useful.)

Today's captcha is...


- noun: an unsophisticated urbanite (a big-city hick)
- interjection: expressing upset or tension as opposed to relief or fatigue (opposite of phew)

What do you think phick should mean?

Friday, December 26, 2008

a little something i left out

Death of a Jeep

I told myself it was because he never downloaded the pictures onto my computer, but really it was because it was all just too much at the time. Dear readers, you'll never believe what happened today: a small portion of the universe imploded right over our house! Now, I know you've already left several concerned and sympathetic comments, but please keep coming back for more!

So here's the story: In between the death of our dog and Leah's MRI, a three ton company van ran a red light and crashed smack dab into Lee. I mean, like, the only thing between the van and Lee was Lee's car door, which couldn't be opened afterwards. Pieces of the dashboard flew off, Lee's head broke his door's window, and the sandwich he was eating for lunch ended up on the hood of the van.

When Leah found out, she said, "Poor Daddy. First Dee died and then the Jeep died." Which pretty much sums it up.

Lee is absolutely fine. Physically. But he gets depressed every time he sees a Jeep, and because the Jeep used to be mine, I can relate. You can't beat the turning radius on that thing. And it held all of his tools, ladders on top, without being obnoxiously big. The red-light-runner's company's insurance paid for a rental truck, which was a bigass pickup that was impossible to park and made us feel like ugly Americans. So he's driving my old Altima and looking for a replacement Jeep.

And lo, we shall make a mess of hoppin' john on the eve of the new year, and we shall eat that hoppin' john to bring forth many miracles; to know but good news and glad tidings in the days to come.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry morning

Still no MRI results (I think the pictures ended up being pretty messy; we might have to do it again, with sedation -- ugh), but we managed to have a very merry Christmas anyway.

Here is Neal telling Santa that he wants a trampoline. Santa must have listened, because there was a mini-trampoline under the tree that Neal and Leah have taken turns bouncing on all morning long.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


if everything comes apart in this helium cooled
superconducting electromagnet,
we're coming apart
i think
as i hold your hand that won't

rings and zippers -- no worries, they said
just before the wallmuralwhales
began to thump and howl and
my ring began to vibrate so
i moved it to my other hand --
the one that was holding your feet that won't

no worries, they said from behind the glass
but my baby didn't come with one of those
mr safe green stickers
and good thing i thought of her ponytail holder
-mom, does she know she's moving her feet?-
two minutes, maybe; two hours, not likely she'll

i want to fall asleep standing up
-- no, i want to crawl inside the tube,
poke fun at each other's ear plugs,
notice that you are weeping
- mom, is she okay?-
i think so, just fidgety, just

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Commons

A while back, the Library of Congress partnered with Flickr to place a bunch of really cool old photographs online, open to comments and tags from the public. Since then, other libraries, museums, and archives have joined in the fun. To get a sense of what's out there, and the remarkable way that folks can participate in the conversation of history, go here, being sure to scroll down through all of the comments until you get to the really good stuff.

Friday, December 5, 2008

from halloween to hohoho


In case you were wondering what we do for fun out here:

Abstract, by Leah:

The first version of this sign said, No Boys Aloud. I thought that was equally appropriate.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

yesterday was hard

Lee found her. Close to home, beneath juniper branches and leaves, lifeless but intact. We suspect she was hit by a car and crawled into the brush. She still looked so D -- I found myself staring at her belly to be certain it was no longer making little ups and downs.

I took the kids over to Mom's for a belated Thanksgiving dinner while Lee took D over to his dad's to bury her. Now she makes things grow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

recommended reading

Okay, so clearly I have not yet gotten the camera and am still using my cell phone, but Christmas is a-comin', so it could happen. I just had to post this grainy shot anyway, because among the pile of books I found in Leah's bed (just next to an issue of Captain Underpants) was Mom's. (To be clear to readers who might come away thinking I'm a Durr, Mom edited this autobiography from recorded interviews.)

Now, to be honest, I think Neal grabbed it when she asked him to bring her a big book to put under some drawing paper, but still, it was neat to happen upon this particular juxtaposition of books in my daughter's bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I think normally people ask you to do these, but I ripped mine off of a blog I was browsing via another blog:

(Mother’s & father’s middle names)

NASCAR NAME: Curren Cecil
(First name of mother’s dad, father’s dad)

STAR WARS NAME: Wamarg (Wameg for short)
(First 2 letters of last name, first 4 letters of first name)

(Favorite color, favorite animal)

SOAP OPERA NAME: Barnard Hayden, but everybody calls me Pace
(Middle name, city where you live)

(2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink)

FLY NAME: Maes (or Mees; it's superfly to have an alternate spelling)
(First 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

GANGSTA NAME: Strawberry Thin Mint
(Favorite ice cream, favorite cookie)

ROCK STAR NAME: Sika Pinecrest
(Current pet’s name, current street name)

PORN NAME: Candy Overlook
(1st pet, street you grew up on)

day three

Some things just don't fit. When your dog disappears, vocabulary is too snug; requires unbuttoning. There is no trace of predator, no trace of accident, no trace of unfortunate event. Coyote, car, snake -- there is none of that. She does not roam away from home. Ever. We have called and driven and walked and made signs. Leah made a list of places to look, and clues, and kept asking, But what's different about today? And the answer is nothing. Nothing but the missingness.

We keep expecting her to show, keep looking sideways out the front door, over to where her bed and an unopened bag of dog food wait for her return. My head feels cloudy, as though there is something that will suddenly become clear: Oh yeah, I forgot, she's in the ....

Yesterday, a turkey ambled through our yard, mingled with the chickens for a bit, and went on her way. I might normally take this as a sign of good fortune -- a Thanksgiving shout out from Mother Nature. Instead it just seemed weird and haunted. Nothing fits.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

tending fires

Field grows frost in the big of night,
in the negative space where cold and quiet silently implode,
leave behind the empty big of night
where slow things grow.

Earthworms find us out,
discover we have made sun like gods of the indoors,
abandon the unturned compost,
curse the floor and wither.

We want to make a man of snow.
In the shadow of the broken rooted oak,
shoulders under shawl of hay and leaves,
we shall build his predictable demise,

then crawl inside to tend the fire.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the left side of the page

Look what I found in Leah's school tote bag. Pretty typical Alabama split.

I had to laugh when I heard someone in another state talk about using a touch screen to cast her ballot. Here in Hayden, we used black magic markers to connect one side of an arrow to another.

home on the free (?) range

Free range chickens. You think you're so natural and eco-friendly -- tossing your corn, strewing your hay, gathering your eggs. So many eggs -- you give them away! And the surprise chicks are adorable, aren't they?

Flash forward. Going on 20 chickens, all but three of which are hens, laying eggs everywhere but the coop and roosting in the trees. They're still great garbage disposals -- between them, the rabbit, and the compost, not a scrap of food is ever really wasted. But when there are so many, it's hard to think of them as pets, and when you're not willing to eat grocery store eggs anymore, but you're not gathering any, either -- well, not a lotta egg eatin' goin' on. Which is kind of a bummer.

Our neighbor Mister Sanders says they'll come back to the coop in the spring. And he's probably right -- most chickens don't lay much in the fall and winter. And after the sadness that accompanied the death of our first Rooster, Eddie, I was tickled when the new roosters, hatched in the summer, began crowing for the very first time just last week. A feeble but noble attempt, growing stronger each day. No better sound in the world to wake up to.

So we strategize. We make plans to lure the chickens into the coop and create a chicken run, so that they have limited freedom but also no choice but to lay where we can find the eggs. Because as much as I love having them roam about, the romance is over, and I want mine scrambled, thank you very much.


Leah: Mommy, Neal's putting his butt in my face.

Me: Neal, stop putting your butt in other people's faces.

...as I mindlessly continue to fold two loads of clothes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

how to prepare for an economic downturn

1. Move into a house that you find on the side of the road. Strike a deal with the owner that you will be nice to the house in exchange for taking comfort in the house.

2. During the first couple of months at the house, boil water on a camp stove to heat the bath water that was filled from the hose into the tub on the front porch, because you have not yet treated the house to a working bathroom. Hang your children's giant, multicolor parachute in front of the tub so that the rare passing car doesn't see you naked in a tub on your porch.

3. Spit your toothpaste off the side of the porch during those first couple of months, too.

4. Again on the front porch, wash your dishes in a different tub and dry them on a rack. You do not need the parachute for this. It is okay for rare passing cars to see this. They will just think you are a bit strange. But you're pretty sure they already thought that.

5. Send your children to public school. This has the added benefit of authenticating your belief that the government should provide decent public education for all children, and inspiring you to become actively involved in that cause, because you are now privy to the actual budget.

6. Get free food from yours and your neighbors' gardens.

7. Sleep with your family in a tent inside your house because of the spiders. When you finally overtake the spiders and create actual bedrooms, you don't take them for granted. And you know that you could go back to sleeping in a tent if you had to.

8. Save up for a wood burning stove. In advance of your purchase, be sure you have acquired a husband who will become obsessed with scavenging free wood from the side of the road.

9. Come by your other big ticket items in curious ways. For instance, rather than purchasing a television set, get one for free from your husband's brother's anarchist friend who found it necessary to flee to Canada all of sudden.

10. Eat rice. A lot of rice.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Rainbow over Birmingham

Lately as I drive down the road, wishing I could capture the colors of this season in words or paint or pixels, I find myself erupting into spontaneous fits of laughter. Barack Hussein Obama. I don't think many people have felt anything but cynicism toward the government since Watergate days. Who would have guessed that we would feel a collective sense of hope again?

(And by the way, rabbits poop a LOT.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

bumper sticker politics

Like many Americans, and at long last, I woke up this morning feeling proud of our country. But even before the acceptance speech of last night, I was already feeling hopeful, and not just because of the polls.

The other day, I spotted a car with a "Choose life" license plate. I happen to be in favor of a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, but the thing that struck me about this car with this license plate is that it also had a blue dot sticker and an Obama sticker on the bumper. In all my travels along the interstates and highways of this state, I have never until that moment seen someone express any level of complexity on his or her bumper. It's usually either "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" or "F the president." What we would normally think of as a mixed sociopolitical message struck me as diversity of thought and a refreshing expression of opinion without any accompanying obnoxiousness.

A few days later, I was recycling at the Conservancy downtown when a car pulled up with a McCain/Palin bumper sticker that said something about pitbulls and had a lipstick smooch on it. I stopped myself from mentally rolling my eyes, because damned if they weren't recycling. Back in the day, the only people stopping off at the Conservancy were hippies and upper middle class Volvo drivers. This car with this sticker at this place in this time. I think we are starting to come together.

belated boo

Happy pumpkin

Scary pumpkin

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a day in the life

(I'm jumping over some important things, a funeral and Halloween among them. I'll come back to them later.)

Part I: Morning

Woke up at 5:45am and prepared to run in the annual Vulcan 10K. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, is also the world's largest cast iron statue. Built in 1904, he has watched over Birmingham for over 100 years. As part of a traffic safety campaign, he once held a torch that glowed red if there had been a traffic fatality in Birmingham, and green if there had not. I was never a big fan of the glowing torch. Thankfully, it was removed during the renovation of the statue and surrounding park, and Vulcan now holds a spear as sculptor Giuseppe Moretti intended.

Knocked 10 minutes off my 10K time compared to last year, and enjoyed the traditional post-race beer, band, and bagels.

Part II: Afternoon

A couple of days ago our nearest neighbors invited us to pick greens in their garden, so we made our way over to their house and discovered that, in addition to greens o'plenty, they also have a pear tree covered in pears! They let us pick to our hearts' content. We have bags and bags of fresh food. And they let us pet their donkey, which Neal kept calling a honkey, as it did in fact honk.

Part III: Evening

Returned home to discover a most remarkable invasion of ladybugs. Hundreds of them. Everywhere. I am talking about a crazy lot of ladybugs. Now, I know that ladybugs are very beneficial in the garden, but these weren't in the garden. They were in our house. All of them. So we sucked them up in the shop vac and released them outside, where we hope they will stay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

what a mother

The other day I heard a fascinating story on NPR about a woman involved in the construction of a mosque in Turkey. About midway through the piece, there is a lovely description of the installation of glass raindrops beneath the dome:
On one particular day, beneath the mosque's 130-foot diameter dome, Nahide Buyukkaymakci instructs a worker on how to hang dozens of blown-glass rain drops from an asymmetrical bronze and Plexiglas chandelier.

The glass drops are inspired by a prayer that says Allah's light should fall on you like rain, Buyukkaymakci explains.
And all I could think was: Oh god, that would be so hard to clean.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

rockets and rabbits

To celebrate Juliette Gordon Low's upcoming birthday, the Girl Scouts gathered at Palisades Park to make rockets and eat cake. We were instructed to bring a 2 liter plastic bottle, which was a bit of a challenge as we don't drink soda. So, after my long group run in town early Saturday morning, I stopped by the Conservancy to go dumpster diving. I looked through three different bins before finding one!

Once at the park, Leah decorated her rocket with stickers and markers:

All the parents were wondering how the rockets would be lauched. See the contraption below? A hose and an air compressor are routed through the same line, which is attached to a foot pedal. The spout of the 2 liter is screwed onto the nozzle of the water/air hose. The group counts down -- 3, 2, 1 -- and the Girl Scout slams her foot onto the pedal. For anyone who has never actually experienced this, I cannot emphasize how amazingly freaking fast and high these things fly. They then turn right around and come crashing down to the ground. It is a most spectacular display.

Leah waits her turn.

I wish I had a picture of a rocket in mid-air, but they shot up much too fast for me to even try, and once they reached their peak and paused for just a moment before dropping back down, they were too far up in the air to be snapped.

Upon landing, pieces of Leah's rocket flew off in all directions, but the kind lady with the tape assisted in putting it all back together again.

So that was how Saturday started.

A little later, we took both Leah and Neal to Paw Paw and Dee Dee's for an overnight campout. Their cousins Meredith and Travis were there, too. The kids ran around while the adults chatted, until suddenly Leah walked up to Lee and said, "Uh, Daddy -- we have a rabbit situation." In the meantime, Meredith and Travis were yelling, "Aunt Meg! Aunt Meg! There's a rabbit!"

Now, there are a great many rabbits where we live, so I assumed they had spotted a regular old brown rabbit with a cute little white tail off in the woods behind Paw Paw's house. I was wrong. This rabbit was gray and white, and was coming within inches of the children. This was not a wild rabbit. This was somebody's pet. And I'm guessing you can guess whose pet he ended up being.

Here he is, in our living room, eating an apple:

We're going to try to determine whether he already belongs to somebody, but, sadly, odds are that he was intentionally released. Which is okay, because he's just about the cutest thing you ever did see, and we're happy to have him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

diagramming sarah

This is too good not to share. Grammar geeks rule.

the buzz on pumpkins

First, a couple more shots from Falls Mill:

Spinning Wheel

Wagon Weight List

And now back to Hayden, where Neal and I went to the Great Pumpkin Patch to pick ourselves a great big pumpkin.

I'm not sure there's much distinction between big orange pumpkins and big orange balls. I had to keep reminding him not to throw, roll, or stand on the pumpkin, lest it become pumpkin mush.

It was surprisingly cold and overcast given the weather of the past week. Neither Neal nor the ponies seemed to mind.

The chosen one.

Pumpkins were once pollinated by squash bees, but now mostly by honey bees. The decline of the native squash bee is likely a result of pesticide sensitivity, which is particularly troublesome given the recent increase among honey bees of Colony Collapse Disorder, also thought to be at least in part related to pesticide use. Look people: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I LOVE me some pumpkin pie, so quit poisoning everything already, okay?

After the pony ride, the wagon ride, the jumper, the hay maze, the petting zoo, the patch, and lunch, we were tuckered out and ready to fetch Leah from school. I love this Charlie Brown time of year.

Monday, October 13, 2008

t is for tennessee

We've just returned from a long weekend at Tims Ford State Park in Tennessee. It was the absolute perfect time to go -- the leaves were beginning to change and there were folks playing bluegrass all Saturday long. It was a lovely and, thankfully, short road trip: red barns, blue sky, and white clouds, reflected on a smaller scale in the cotton growing along the roadside.

I can't complain about not being in any of the pictures -- here is my arm in the side view mirror of an otherwise lovely scene.

I used to ride for miles and miles at Oak Mountain and all over Southside, but it had been so long since I'd ridden my bike that Lee had to put olive oil on the chain. And I can attest to the fact that you use your muscles differently when you ride versus when you run. While I can run ten miles without feeling any soreness in my calves, I am still feeling the bike rides.

Between riding and fishing, we ventured to the Swiss Pantry, a Mennonite bakery in nearby Belvidere, Tenn. It's stocked with bread, cookies, candies, preserves, and cheese, to name but a few of the yummilicious things we found there.

We noticed there are also quite a few Amish establishments in this area. My understanding is that Mennonite and Amish are two branches of the same Protestant Anabaptist church. The main difference is not so much what they believe as how they practice their beliefs. The separatist Amish shun the world, while Mennonites live simply but without separation. Whatever -- they can bake, is what I'm saying.

On Sunday, again between bike riding and fishing, we found Falls Mill, a water-powered grain mill in Belvidere. The water wheel is huge, and powers many smaller, belted gears inside. Leah has an Eric Carle book called Pancakes Pancakes, about a boy named Jack who wants pancakes for breakfast. His mother instructs him to gather the wheat, take it to the miller, gather the firewood, put it in the stove, fetch the jam, and so on, until the pancakes are finally ready to eat. It was nice to see her connect the mill to the book, and both she and Neal were so excited to watch the water spin the wheel that spins the gear that spins another and another, and so on.

In addition to gears and grains, the mill also has several old spinning wheels, looms, broom presses, and a working nickelodeon. And, they sell their flours, meals, and grits, so of course we came home with a bag full of stone ground grits!

This tree man lives beside the mill.

We returned today, stopping at Ave Maria Grotto on the way, where Brother Joseph Zoettl created miniature reproductions of many of the world's most famous buildings. He incorporated marble, glass, beads, jewelry, and shells into his work.

I especially like the dragon (above) peeking out from under the Castle of the Fairies (below).

A good example of the Brother's fondness for shells. He was well suited for this kind of craftmanship: maimed in an accident, he was a hunchback whose miniatures required an attention to detail perhaps best acheived by hunching over his work.

The kids loved the Lizard Condo, complete with toy lizards.

The Tower of Babel.

More to come. Right now I'm gonna go snack on some Mennonite cheese.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

historic preservation

Based on conversations with locals, we believe our house was built in the latter half of the 19th century. The original supports consist of rock piles and timber. That's right -- rocks stacked up with no mortar, and tree trunks or branches, in some cases with the bark still on.

We're investing in a bigger wood burning stove, so we wanted to be certain the floor would support the weight. Harry, who rents our old house in the city, drove up to help Lee bolster the house. Leah and Neal played together nicely while I napped after a nine mile run. Every now and then I heard voices drifting from under the house, and then, suddenly, I heard rather loud, rather freaked out sounding voices. Fearing the worst (whatever that was), I quickly shifted from halfway asleep to fully awake and began mentally listing the things it could be. I will not list those things here. They are too weird. As it happens, the thing it was is pretty weird, too. There are hundreds -- hundreds -- of big, old, glass jars beneath the house.

Back in the day, there was no garbage service (we were actually quite relieved to learn that we have it now), no way of storing that many jars inside for re-use, and no way of disposing of any excess. It's possible they were using the crawl space as a root cellar, in which case they would have stored vegetables and preserves there. I've been reading about root cellars lately -- perhaps it's something we can add to our long list of homesteading to-do's.

There was too much other work to do to add fruit jar removal to the list, and we don't have enough storage space above ground, so we'll leave them be for now, saving the excavation for another day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


These are our teenagers. There were six, but one of the black and whites was beheaded by a predator. They're not as old as our original chickens, and not as young as our chicks. (Well, we call them chicks, but they've long outgrown the cute fuzzy yellow stage.)

The teenagers are our friendliest chickens. The old birds are kinda jumpy (it doesn't help that they peck at the coffee grounds in the compost), and the new birds are the jumpy birds' progeny. The teenagers seem to like people, and they're not so skittish.

We only ever wanted to collect eggs, but now we have so many birds that we're contemplating downsizing to just the teenagers and maybe a rooster. Perhaps we'll meet some people who just moved out to the country and are interested in raising chickens....

Monday, September 29, 2008

four oh

Happy birthday, Will! I'm never entirely certain whether it's safe to call the stateside line and just leave a message when I know you're sleeping, or whether it might wake you up in the night. (Lee got the kids some walkie talkies, and last night, my dreams were interrupted by someone ten-fouring his good buddy at three o'clock in the morning. One of these days I will have eight hours of uninterupted sleep. Right?)

I hope you enjoyed a beautiful day, and that you wake up well rested and ready for your next trip around the sun.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today has been a lazy day. I was supposed to meet the girls at the coffee shop this morning, but it's mid-afternoon and I've still not taken a shower. It's so rare that we have the opportunity to be lazy -- I feel like I'm doing something wrong. It's also rare that we spend time in front of the television on a beautiful fall morning, but it's difficult to pull ourselves away from the news today. I suppose economic collapse can have that effect.

The kids are oblivious to the state of the nation. They pulled out their art supplies and set up shop on the walk this morning, and now they're building a tent out of furniture and blankets, desperately trying to avoid a particular spot on the floor that is apparently made of hot lava.

I think I'll go take a shower.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The leaves are starting to change, and Lee spent the afternoon splitting logs in preparation for colder nights. Leah and Neal sat on an upturned laundry basket watching while he pounded the axe against the wedge, the sound of metal striking metal echoing far off in the woods. I had a sudden recollection of standing at the top of my grandmother's driveway in Troy, shouting toward the garage doors just to hear the echo.

Friday, September 26, 2008

debates and dolls

Lee is in the other room explaining the presidential debate process to Leah. She seems very interested in such things. We are careful and thoughtful with our words, much as we are when we talk about religion. She is trying to sort out the relative importance of mayors, governors, and presidents. Meanwhile, Neal is constructing a house of Jenga blocks and Lincoln logs so that Biteman (which is what he calls Batman) will have a place to sleep tonight.

two hours later....

I've just finished reading the final two chapters of The Cricket in Times Square to the kids at bedtime, and I couldn't help but weep when Chester cricket returned to Connecticut. Fortunately, Lee found my Red Riding Hood doll at the old house, so I reckon I'll snuggle up with her and fall asleep while he watches the debate. I'm too tired to get myself all riled up -- it'll just have to wait until tomorrow.

(The doll is my favorite -- if you pull her dress over her head, she turns into Grandmother, and then if you pull Grandmother's hat over her head, she turns into the Big Bad Wolf. Forgive the quality of the pictures, particularly the blurry Wolf. I am buying a camera this weekend!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

crazy jambalacos

Lee and the kids like to poke fun at my crazy, makeshift dinners. The other day, I made something they dubbed 'crazy jambalacos' -- it was a taco dinner, but I didn't have any soy crumbles, so I used beans instead, mushing them up and seasoning them and topping them off with cheese. I'm not sure why, but they did end up tasting like New Orleans tacos.

Attempting to compete with my dinnertime improvisations, Lee whipped one up entirely based on shells: shells and cheese, peanuts still in their shells, and hard boiled eggs. For dessert: bananas and oranges (we convinced ourselves that peels counted as shells).

Speaking of hard boiled eggs, I would argue that once you've seen and tasted farm-fresh eggs, you can never comfortably go back to the ones you get at the store, even if they say they're organic and free range and farm fresh and all of that other good-sounding stuff. The color is just not ever the same as the vibrant orange of a truly fresh egg, and the taste is equally lacking. Unfortunately, our chickens are so free to range that they have decided to lay their eggs wherever they want, which is not always in the coop. We still manage to gather enough eggs for our family, but I really miss having enough of a surplus to give some away. Also, I've collected enough egg cartons to open a craft store, and they just keep coming (I told all of my coworkers that I was permanently collecting cartons a while back, when we were gathering six or seven eggs a day). So we read and we clean the coop and we put out fresh straw and we hunt the wild nests. I'm pretty sure the chickens are laughing at us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

yard art

One day, while Lee was chopping things down and carrying things around, I dragged some heavy concrete blocks from the fire pit to a tree and made a little bench. Then I found a small roll of wire fencing and placed it in a semicircle behind the bench. Then the kids and I began to gather sticks and branches and weave them through the fencing. It's not quite yard art, but it's a start.

There was a great bit on Tapestry, a local NPR program, about a woman who lives in Crestwood and weaves woolen fabric strips through burlap bags to make old fashioned rugs. It reminded me of the woman (I can't remember her name -- shame on me) at Pop's museum who worked the loom, her hands and feet moving in tandem to create intricate tapestries. I have two that were in Muv's house. They are beautiful, durable, and created using a tool that doesn't emit anything at all harmful -- now that's my kind of machine.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

spider funnel

For the first several months after we moved out here, we slept in a tent in the house, mainly to avoid the brown recluse. The house had been dark and empty for some time, and we came across a few too many for comfort as we tore things apart. Now we see only harmless specimens. Luckily, the recluse is true to its name.

We still have a crazy lot of spiders -- I could sweep webs from the front porch on a daily basis if I were so inclined. No need for screens when the spiders do all the work. I let the tub full o' toys sit for several weeks, untouched by the broom, and this is what happened: a spider funnel. Sometimes we can actually see the spider that lives there, deep inside the hole.

(I stopped off at the dreaded WalMart on my way home from work today and strolled past a box of cooked bacon on a shelf. I ask you: has it really come to this?)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Just the other day, my sister-in-law at Kolo kolo mlynsky posted something about color theory, along with a picture of three colorful cars. When Neal brought home some of his artwork today, I thought it was a nice coincidence.

Leah got a Bozo punching bag as a late birthday present, and has named it Billy Griswald. Billy Griswald is the only "being" we are allowed to hit and kick. Poor Billy Griswald. We all like to punch his squeaky nose.

I went on a bit of a picture spree this afternoon, with my cell phone ridiculously pretending to be a zoom-worthy camera. I ended up with lots of closeups of flowers and locust shells where the subject is fuzzy but the background is absolutely clear. I'm posting some of the least offensive shots. One of these days I will spring for an actual digital camera. Sometimes I pull out the old Pentax, but the battery is dead at the moment.