Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pool party in our backyard!

Well, not quite, but it does show the nipper having a lot of fun with water.

From the garden - bonus video!

Because some things look good in stills, but great on video ...

How long would it take to do this to my house?

Um, about a year and a half.

What a difference a month makes

May 28: Today:
These were taken from opposite angles ... the zucchini haven't really walked around to the other side of the garden, it just looks that way. And the cucumbers really are 6' tall. It's hard to believe how tiny everything was a month ago!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This one's looking a little weird

Funny, I don't remember the other broccoli I've grown having clumps of oversized flowerets. I guess all the kids are doing it nowdays, or else my memory is shot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

See what my mother found?

I think she sent this to me mainly to prove that she is, in fact, actually going through the piles and stacks and boxes and files of old magazines at their house in Maryland. Why, oh why, would you save a Good Housekeeping from the 70s? Nothing good can come of that, mark my words.

Liza needs your help!

We're going to be out of town at the end of next week, and Jason's mother has graciously agreed to look after Liza for us. I'm hoping that whatever is causing Liza's current phase, otherwise known as "I will cling to mama and wail if anything happens even slightly differently from what I was expecting," will have passed by the time we leave. If not, Susie's in for a bumpy ride. We're just going to be in Columbus, so if one of us (i.e. ME) has to come home to calm the screaming wild child, it won't be tragic - but we're hoping for the best.

Susie has already sent out a package of surprises for Liza to open each day, and I'm pulling together the master list of Liza's approximate schedule and which foods she's most likely to actually eat. I may also record something on video for Liza to watch on the computer while we're gone, if I have time.

Liza loves to get mail - the two toddler magazines she subscribes to are the highlight of her month because she gets to find "Liza mail!" I'd love to send her a postcard from scenic Columbus, but it wouldn't reach her before we return from the trip. That's where you guys come in!

For any readers who already have our mailing address, could you please send a postcard or something addressed to Liza, timed to arrive Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of next week? I don't care what's on the postcard (knowing her, she'd probably really appreciate the semi-naughty ones you find in tacky tourist shops - "bottoms!") ... heck, if you sent an index card that said "HI" on one side and had the address on the other, that would probably be enough. If you print her name in all caps she can even recognize it now, which would make it extra special for her.

I'm sure you can understand that I'm not comfortable posting my mailing address here, so I'm afraid the new readers are SOL on this one. Maybe next time we skip town I'll give my mother-in-law the PO box key and have you newbies help out, too. In the meantime, thanks in advance for your help, friends and relations, and I look forward to seeing Liza's new collection when we get home!

Wonder what's in the water around here

That's one mutant conjoined stalk with two full heads, in case you can't tell from the photo. It will be interesting to see if it produces two full-sized zukes, or some sort of carnivorous talking plant that will eat the squirrels in my backyard.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Speaking of toileteers

Bet you didn't know we were, did you? I guess you weren't paying attention.

I scored very poorly on the quiz on this site, which means there's hope for me yet.

And since I can't find a copy of the dumb toileteers song on YouTube, I may have a project for tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I leave you with this ... it's just the intro to the show, but you get an idea of the horror that is the potty video:

I really need to come up with a drinking game that forces you to drink every time that bear wags his animatronic eyebrows. And who comes up with a kids' show that features two bears, two otters, a mouse and a LEMUR, for god's sake? It doesn't even look like a lemur - it's blue. See, there's another thing for MLF to be ticked about ...

Are you SURE that video isn't due back to the library for another two weeks?

Speaking of bugs' eye views

This was taken before I harvested two sprigs for tonight's grilled steak with crunchy rosemary bits and bourbon barbecue sauce. It's not quite as foresty now, but dinner was darned tasty.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This makes me feel cheap - smart, but cheap

... but I have finally understood the allure of shopping at Marc's.

For those of you who don't live in NE Ohio, Marc's is a chain of discount grocery/closeout stores. Imagine a grocery store that hasn't had a technology update since 1979, and tack on the better portion of an entire Big Lots store around the outside edges, and you've got Marc's. It's not expired canned goods and government cheese - they sell mostly brand-name stuff, including good produce and recognizable brands of meat and dairy products. The aisles are narrow, the organization is funky, most of the prices are done using stickers (not UPC codes), and you have to pay with cash. There's no video store, child care area, dry cleaner's dropoff location, or coffeeshop (all of which are amenities at the major grocery store, and I've never used any of them).

I've done my weekly shopping at Marc's for the past three weeks, and there have been times when I swear I'm the only customer who is a) younger than 75, b) not disabled in some way, and c) not on some sort of food stamp or WIC program. This weekend brought higher-than-normal levels of overweight women wearing tube tops without bras - and here I thought I had left that behind in Kentucky. I hate, hate, hate shopping at Marc's.

But ...

But ...

I can buy a week's worth of groceries for $80. At Giant Eagle, the other major grocery chain in the area, I was averaging $150-$200 a week.

True, I could probably buy a week's worth of groceries at Giant Eagle for less than $100, if I pored over the advertised specials and cut coupons like a fiend. But at Marc's I can skip all the planning, buy everything I need, and it's still dirt cheap. So as much as I feel like a spectator at a freak show when I shop there, I think I'm hooked. Now if I could just remember to use the ATM before I get there, I could skip the fees imposed by the one in the entryway and save another $1.50.

Cute cuke

World's smallest cucumber ... think I can enter it in the state fair?

This makes me want to cry

Davis, of Canton, was reported missing after her mother found Davis' 2-year-old son, Blake, home alone, bedroom furniture toppled and bleach spilled on the floor. Blake gave investigators their first clues, saying: "Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in rug."

from this story

Looks like I'm not the only one

In the last week I've had at least ten people visit my site because they searched Google for some variation of "black bugs on nasturtiums." Hi, gardeners! I feel your pain!

Oh, and whoever searched for "infant poop stain removal" - try scrubbing with Shout, then soaking in OxyClean Baby for an hour before you wash it. Works for darn near everything, except hardcore sweet potato stains.

New photo set on flickr

Check out the flickr widget in the lower left of my blog - I've got a new photo series from our trip over to a nearby river today. If you click on the widget it should take you to the whole set. A preview:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Planet Earth

When we were stuck in the hotel room for two months, I saw the advertisements for the BBC series "Planet Earth" at least 147 billion times, but I never managed to see one of the episodes. I think it came on at the same time as What Not To Wear, and I've got my priorities straight.

Anyway, the previews and reviews I saw of the program pretty much made it look like porn for nature-lovers like me. Since I know kids of Liza's age who love some of the kid-oriented documentaries they have at the library (the Eyewitness series seems to be a favorite), I thought she might enjoy it. Well, to tell you the truth, I knew I would enjoy it, and I figured I could use Liza as an excuse to get it for myself.

Then we saw the ad for the DVDs of the series, and the first of five discs was available for the bargain price of only $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Screw that, I thought, and the next time we were at the library I asked when it would be available to check out. Their copies weren't in yet, and I was going to be number 57 in line to rent the 5 copies they ordered. Screw that, I thought, and went to Target and found the complete box set for less than $70.

We had a few minutes to kill tonight when Liza was exhausted but refused to start getting ready for bed, so I popped in the first DVD and picked the show about fresh water, figuring there would be lots of rivers and fish to look at. I wouldn't say it was as big a hit with her as The Bear In The Big Blue House, but she really got into some parts of it, and I didn't have to listen to the "toileteers" song for the 50th time this week.

I think it was the first time in ages that the three of us sat down and all willingly watched something, and all of us enjoyed it. Liza was very impressed by the salmon run, and the bears trying to catch the salmon, and the giant salamanders eating big fish ("Bye fishie! Bye 'nother fishie!"). Jason got nervous when the crocodile showed up at the otter party, but the otters successfully chased him away ("Go 'way, bad guy! Go 'way!"). And he declared it to be time for bed when the crocodiles started to lie in wait for the herd of wildebeest, and I have to say, I think he's probably right that we need to fast forward past that part. No need for the kid to see that much carnage at this age, right?

Meanwhile, I was in heaven. I was raised on a steady diet of PBS nature shows, and I'm still a sucker for beautiful scenery and cute animals viciously attacking each other. I can't wait to watch the rest of the series ... which at the rate we're going, will be in 15-minute increments and will take me the rest of the year to complete. That's okay, though - a little bit of nature porn goes a loooooong way.

I don't know that I'd recommend the set for everyone - it costs an arm and a leg, after all - but I know I can't wait to see more of it.

I'm Gonna Git You,

The sad thing is, the only one who will get this joke is my high school friend John, who doesn't read the blog.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Can she work it, or what?
yes, those are polar fleece slippers with sequined felt butterflies on the fronts.
And this was the only way she could figure out to wear her baseball hat with her pigtails.

So, who wants zucchini bread?

After the nuclear winter, there will be nothing left in North America except for cockroaches and zucchini plants. Not that I'm complaining or anything ...

Thursday, June 21, 2007


This post ties June 2007 with March 2006 for the most posts in one calendar month. And I've still got over a week to go in the month - go, me!


Looks like we're going to get one ear per stalk. Shucks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Anyone need a boat? Too bad, this one's sold!

We're selling our 16' Old Town Loon 160T tandem kayak. It's been a good boat, but we hardly ever used it, even before we had 30 pounds of deadweight to haul with us and keep from jumping overboard.

For $400 you get a gently used boat with only minor cosmetic scratches on the underside of the hull, two paddles, a dolly to get the thing to the water, a roller to get the thing into the water, a cover to keep spiders out of the cockpit in the winter, and a set of tiedown straps for use with most standard roof racks. This boat retails for about $700, not including all the extras, so this is an excellent deal.

If anyone is willing to come pick it up in Northeast Ohio, I'd love to hear from you.

UPDATE 6/22/07 - Sold! Gotta love ... this sucker was out the door less than two days after I listed it. Hooray! Now you can see more of our crappy cracked garage floor!


Dancer? Person hailing a taxi? Seductress? You decide.

First harvest

Not because I need cilantro right now, but if I didn't trim it today, it was going to bolt to seed and I'd be screwed for the rest of the guacamole season.

And because it's only going to stand still to get its picture taken once, I'll post this, too:

It's pinkie-sized right now, so I'm guessing we'll be starting on the zucchini diet by this weekend, maybe Monday if I let things go a little longer than I should. When I've got so many potential zukes, there's not reason to let them get much bigger than a pickle. And maybe this is the year that I finally try the battered zucchini flower recipe I've seen a million times over the past decade.

PS - my hands smell like tomato stems and cilantro ... regardless of what the calendar says, I say it's already summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New one for me

Hmmm, maybe I should contact him, even though I know I'm not related to anyone named Thompson. After all, he wants to split the money 50/50, and we wouldn't be doing bad to humanity ....
Dear Sir/Madam, My name is Mr.Golden Ahaiwe. I am a lawyer and the personal attorney to MR. MORRIS THOMPSON, an American citizen from the state of Alaska. Thompson was a Category "A" contractor to the Nigerian government before he died together with his wife and their only daughter aboard Alaska Airline flight number 261, on 31st of January, 2000.

Payment of Twenty Two Million United States Dollars for the last contract he did for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 1998 before his death in 2000 is ready for release. The contract payment is ready for release by INEC but nobody is to receive the payment because he has no Next-of-Kin in his file at INEC, hence I have been asked by INEC as his attorney to provide the Next-of-Kin for the claim of the money within the next 21 official working days.

Since I have been unsuccessfully in locating my late client's relatives, I seek your consent therefore to present you as (an Appointed) Next-of-Kin, so that this contract payment would be released to you and then, you and I can share it at the rate of 50/50. I must let you know that your name and place of residence does not matter in this process. I also want you to understand that we will not be doing bad to humanity by claiming the payment because if we do not claim it, the government will retain it as nobody is to receive the funds as Thompson's next-of-kin. If you are interested in this offer, kindly indicate by sending the following information to me for immediate submission of claim application to the INEC in your favour. The information I want from you are: (1) your full name. (2) Your full address. (3) Your age & occupation. (4) Your private telephone and fax numbers.

Let me hear from you. Best regards, Mr.Golden Ahaiwe Hear from you soon...


Monday, June 18, 2007

Quote of the week

(from the backseat, where she's pointing to completely different letters on the label on her carseat):

"mumblemumble-I-Z-A spells (pregnant pause) ROCK!"

There was a little cucumber ...

... who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead ...

I gotta say, I'm proud of this one. Not only did I a) notice it, and b) take the time to frame the shot just the way I wanted it, but I pretty much had to stand on my head to do it without stepping into the garden soil. Go, me!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Because I can't resist showing off

First fruits

Sacrificial beauty

Too pretty to eat, really, which is a good thing since I'm not partial to nasturtiums, anyway, and I just planted them because they're supposed to help deter pests from attacking the rest of the garden. Maybe I should have read into that a little further before planting, though, because I'm starting to suspect that they don't repel the bugs (like marigolds do), but instead act as sacrificial lambs, giving the bugs a more appealing meal than what's available in the rest of the garden.

What makes me say that? Well, the last time I planted nasturtiums (exactly a decade ago, in case you were wondering), they ended up getting totally infested with tiny black bugs, which grossed me out so much that I vowed never to plant them again. Mr. Square Foot Garden recommends planting them, though, so I figured I would give it a try. I've been checking every day for signs of nasty black dudes, and as of yesterday, all was quiet on the northern front. But here's what I found today:
Son of a bitch. Both nasturtium clumps have been totally blanketed with every toxic substance I can find in our newly-organized garden shed, so hopefully these suckers are toast (aphids ... suckers ... hee). But now that I've attracted every aphid in Cuyahoga County into my backyard, I fear for the rest of the plants. Looks like me and the sprayer full of Sevin are going to be bosom pals after all.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Did somebody say, "Salsa!"

Looks like I'd better put avocados on the grocery list for next week, since I'm going to have to harvest some of this before it starts getting leggy and sets flowers.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How come this never happened with ours?;_ylt=AmEjHOHTOx8.EmkYWQ7Rk_ShOrgF

Oh, yeah - because ours is a piece of shit that won't pick up signals from the transmitter when we're on the deck, 50 feet from the kid's room. Plus, it's audio-only. We never even get to hear anyone else's phone calls ... I'm horribly disappointed.

Sweet, sweet basil

Grow faster, darn it, I'm making pizza tonight!



You can't really tell from the picture, but the lower walls are cinderblock that was cast to look like tumbled bricks, which were painted sloppily in vibrant colors. And the upper walls were a lot more yellow in real life.
And now, after two weeks of working on it every naptime despite a two raging headcolds in the family, about 14 trips to Hell Depot, a fun five minutes spent attacking a cinderblock wall with a hammer to knock off pieces that stuck out too far (ooh, that was fun - can we do it again?), a drillbit-shaped burn on my forearm, a large bruise under my thumbnail, three coats of blue paint, half a gallon of white trim paint, and about 3/4 of a tube of spackle, here's our new guest room.

Inspiration for the colors in the room came from these pillows, which I found after weeks of looking in vain for a color scheme for the room. I bought the pillows and everything else fell into place like dominos - sheets, quilt design, wall color, funky little birdhouses that remind me of Jamaica despite the fact that I've never been there.
I am so psyched about how this room turned out that I actually had a hard time getting to sleep last night, I was so excited to get it cleaned up enough to show it to the world. I decided at the beginning of the project not to talk about it until it was done, and it was killing me - keeping secrets has never been my strong suit.
I am inordinately proud of the fact that absolutely I didn't need any spackle to cover mistakes between the trim and the ledge, or the baseboard and the paneling, or the uprights at each end of the paneling ... it all went into closing the gap between the wavy wall and my not-so-wavy ledge, and closing the gap between the wall and the trim under the ledge, which had to be cut short so I could maneuver it in place. True, we managed to buy panel nails that were 1/32" too long and therefore can't be countersunk (so you can see every nail in the paneling if you look closely), and if you hold a string up to the paneling under the window you'll see that it bows in about 3/4" ... but if you're not looking for it, I swear you can't see it. And I managed to get the baseboard and the trim to bow in exactly the same place, so I didn't have to spackle any gaps - which is a total freakin' miracle, if you've seen any of my past trim installations.
Now all I have to do is finish the second quilt and make a valance for the window ... and stain the cabinet ... and buy headboards for the bed ... and find art I like for the big blank wall over the bed and on the inside wall ... and make a matching valance for the guest bathroom, paint the bathroom, and replace the sink and vanity in the bathroom ... gonna be a long summer at this rate.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Things I never realized

  • The reason sand gets hotter the further you walk away from the water is that the wet sand stuck to your feet insulates them for a while, and as it dries it lets more and more heat through to your feet. Thanks, Sybil, for pointing out what should have been obvious to me years ago.
  • I'm willing to let my daughter swim in Lake Erie next to trash I would go out of my way to walk her away from in a parking lot - takeout food container, disposable lighter, dead fish, bottle cap, some kind of icky insect larvae-looking stuff that could also have been waterlogged cottonwood fluff, cigarette butt, etc. The water dilutes the yuck, right?
  • My daughter understands me well enough that when I tell her not to drink the lake water or eat the sand because it's yucky and will give her nasty diapers like she had the last time she attempted to eat the whole sandbox at one sitting, she actually listens. Listens so well, in fact, that whenever she gets splashed in the face with a wave she starts yelling "Oh, no! Yucky diaper! pthpt! pthpt!" and tries to spit out every last microliter of water that's anywhere near her mouth. That's my girl!
  • Dollar General currently has a great selection of temporary tattoos in kid-friendly designs (mostly cartoon flowers - sorry, boys), with sheets of 30 or more for $1. Compared to the $4 I spent for 12 (admittedly very cute) monkey tattoos on eBay, it's a steal. Especially since we'll be using them for potty training, so we're gonna need quite a few.
  • My daughter has developed a time sense and a memory, or at least she talks a good game. Yesterday when she was stalling and trying to convince me she didn't need a nap, she claimed she had poop in her diaper. When I checked and she was clean, she laid back down and said " 'member last week? Hand in diaper? Yucky hand!" referring to an incident that was indeed last week, when she (once again) stuck her hand in her poopy diaper and came up with souvenirs on several fingers. My little baby's all grown up and chatty!
  • If you tell a child enough times that whining won't get them anything, and you expect them to use a nice tone of voice to ask for things, and you demonstrate the right tone of voice umpteen million times, sometimes the kid will remember. If they're not sick, tired, cranky, or otherwise out of sorts, of course, but it's just so nice to hear "Please have a little candy?" instead of "Maaaaaaamaaaaaa! Little candyyyyyyyy! Pleeeeeaaaase! Maaaaaaamaaaaaa!" that sometimes I'll even break down and give the kid an M&M. And when she wakes up at 6:45am and I bring her into bed with me to snuggle for a few minutes until I am fit to deal with a toddler, and she slides out of bed and comes over to my side and says "Mama, up! Sit here! Right here! Please have some juice please!" in a pleasant voice, darned if I don't get up and do what she wants, despite the fact that I'm not actually awake or coherent yet.

Taking her job seriously

This shot was taken shortly before she took the water leftover in the bucket and dumped it on her head, necessitating a last-minute outfit change before we went to her tumbling class. I guess she was just as parched as the zucchini ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I have no idea what the camera decided to focus on, but it obviously wasn't the corn. Oh, well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So, anyone want to sign up in advance for zucchini bread?

Because we don't have our large freezer going yet, and it looks like we're set for a bumper crop (this is one of three plants ... and I only bought three because they only came in a three-pack, and how am I supposed to throw out two perfectly good plants?).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sometimes it's the comments that make me giggle

Here's the original blog entry, which is funny, but the comments are even better ... especially:

"I just want to thank you, Alice. For years I've walked the planet searching for something more pointless than non-alcoholic beer and now, thanks to this post, I've finally found it. Non-alcoholic beer for dogs. If the intellectual dynamos that came up with this stellar concept were sitting next to me right now, I would take off my shoe and beat them with it until they were dead. Not even violent death at the hands of a shoe-wielding madman would be as pointless as non-alcoholic beer for dogs."

Our weekend

First we went strawberry picking with our former next-door neighbors:

All of those shots are from the first five minutes we were there, which was the only time I got to be in the strawberry fields - Liza turned into a limpet and it's not like you can pick strawberries while holding 30 pounds of kid, so we went back to the parking lot to throw rocks in the ditch. Not a bad deal, as it meant that Jason was the one who got to spend half an hour hunched over avoiding the thistles so that we can have strawberry shortcake for dessert tonight. Matt suggested that it's ironic that we paid $5 per basket to act as migrant farm workers, and I have to say, that's what it looked like from where Liza and I ended up after she had her little meltdown.
Then we went back to the neighbors' house, where William instructed Liza in the finer points of playing the piano ("No, the Elmo doll goes here, not on the keys"):
And the fishtank (behind William) was admired by all:

After dinner we went down to the community pool, where Penelope was showing off how well Liza's old swimsuit fit her. Of course, since Liza insisted we replace the old one with the exact same suit in a larger size, it made them a little hard to tell apart. Hint: ours is the tall one.

And when we were ready to leave, Liza gave Penelope a big hug. Then she gave her an even bigger hug, and they both fell over on the tile floor and started screaming. Pretty much par for the course with two-year-olds, I guess.


The onslaught of weeds has begun. Let the plucking begin!

Jurassic Dance Party

I can't decide which is funnier:
- William's dance moves, including the "tyrannosaurus" at the end
- The fact that Liza has to imitate everything William does
- The fact that Penelope has to imitate everything Liza does
- The fact that big brother Alexander is on the couch, visibly straining to ignore the ruckus going on three feet away.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Carl the Dog

My mother bought Liza one of the Carl the Dog books, which feature a mother who leaves her child in the care of a Rottweiler while she goes off and does something fun. I'm pretty certain my mother just liked the pictures, and she wasn't implying I'd do anything like that myself (we don't have a dog ... dang, it sounded like such a practical solution).

Anyway, the book was so awful that it made me want to claw out my own eyes, so after one or two readings it quietly went to live in the pile of stuff destined for the consignment shop. I've mostly forgotten the horror that was Carl ... until now.

My god, this is so funny I actually peed my pants. True, I haven't been keeping up with my Kegels recently, but STILL. If you scroll down to the link for the other selections in the series, you'll see the one where the author invisions what life would be like if Carl's owner was a hobo ... it's just as funny. And the children's book by the Beastie Boys? Priceless.


Today's inspection of the garden found buds forming on the zucchini, the start of the tasselly part of the corn peeking out of one knee-high stalk, and teeny tiny buds that will someday be jalapenos. Hooray! They like the soil! They really like the soil! Now if I can just keep them happy during the next week, when it's supposed to be sunny and dry the whole time, we should be well on our way to having homegrown veggies for the chipmonks to attack in a few weeks.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Nature's most perfect vegetable

... at least until the cabbage moth caterpillars hatch.

Friday, June 08, 2007

In training

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Support group

Now the cucumbers have someplace to go, and the tomatoes and corn have one less excuse to fall over. Made from two old shepherd's crooks and a metal closet rod I bought at the Seat of All Evilness, aka Home Depot. God, I hate that store.

Summing up my week

See that? That's my daughter wiping a quarter-cup of snot into her hair for the fourteenth time that day ... and it's only 9:30. Of course, since she's been up since 5, she's had plenty of time to practice. At least the dress I made her this winter finally fits her ...

Note to self:

If you've finished painting a room bright blue and your hands don't look like this, you probably haven't used enough paint. See also: the first two times I painted the guest bedroom this week. groan