Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
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
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
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
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
we're coming apart
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
Friday, December 5, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
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
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
WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: Farmer Dean
(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)
DETECTIVE NAME: Cobalt Dog
(Favorite color, favorite animal)
SOAP OPERA NAME: Barnard Hayden, but everybody calls me Pace
(Middle name, city where you live)
SUPERHERO NAME: Indigo Stella
(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)
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
Earthworms find us out,
We want to make a man of snow.
then crawl inside to tend the fire.
Monday, November 10, 2008
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.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
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
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?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
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.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
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
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.And all I could think was: Oh god, that would be so hard to clean.
The glass drops are inspired by a prayer that says Allah's light should fall on you like rain, Buyukkaymakci explains.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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 Tower of Babel.
More to come. Right now I'm gonna go snack on some Mennonite cheese.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
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
Monday, September 29, 2008
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
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
(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
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
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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.