Thursday, July 31, 2008

A couple things that suck about parenting

1. When you try to be a good parent, and you save some of your kid's art that you especially like, and after leaving it sit on the kitchen counter for weeks you finally put it on your desk so you can hang it on the wall in your office later that day, and then your kid chooses that night to spit water all over your desk, so not only do you have to spend 10 minutes sucking water out of your keyboard, but the painting titled "a kid and her mommy holding hands and walking in the river" is completely ruined. Damn you, watercolors!

2. Listening to your kid talking to herself and realizing that her imaginary friends don't want to play with her because she's wearing the wrong kind of dress. And that's before she even finds the Cinderella book, mind you.
3. When your kid discovers the "big kid" Disney books on the high shelf and wants to hear them over and over and over again, and you have to spend an hour explaining "Why are there mean sisters who rip up Cinderella's dress? Why is Cinderella crying? Why can't she go to the ball in that dress?" Bonus parenting points if you manage to read parts of Bambi SO FAST and with so little inflection that the separation-anxiety-plagued kid doesn't understand that Bambi's mom ends up D-E-A-D as a doornail, shot by someone who looks suspiciously like her grandfather.

4. "Why did they put the chain on Dumbo's mom's leg?" "Because she got angry, and they didn't want her to hurt anyone." "She got angry? Like you do sometimes?" "(sigh) Yes, like I do sometimes, only usually I don't pick people up and shake them and incite stampedes." (pause) "Why did they put the chain on Dumbo's mom's leg?"

5. "Why is the mother being not nice, mommy?" Twenty-minute-long discussion with a 3-year-old about how people aren't always nice = why Jason owes me a mom's night out sometime very soon. And alcohol. And chocolate. And very, very nice yarn.

Dear god, now we're not even safe in Canada

Understatement of the Year
"You're sitting there enjoying your trip and then all of a sudden somebody gets stabbed. I imagine it would be pretty traumatic," Colwell said.
Yeah, I think witnessing a random death and beheading could be considered "pretty traumatic." Sheesh.


Sight for sore eyes

Slightly less disgusting than last year's mushrooms, but still unidentifiable*

Last year I had phallic cucumbers and mutant zucchini ... this year I've got a phallic mutant tomato.

Bet that description is going to give me some google searchers who are REALLY disappointed when they end up here ;)

*stop the presses, I may have found it:

Found growing on front lawn. Virginia Beach, Virginia. 13 October, 2006
This mushroom is Armillariella tabescens (aka: Clitocybe tabescens) and is edible with caution. (first time eaters be sure to cook it well and eat only a small portion as some people report a gastrointestinal disturbance after eating this mushroom). It is odd to see it fruit in the middle of what is apparently a lawn. the remains of a tree root system must be below the spot these mushrooms fruit from (or are near a tree that cannot be seen in the picture). the Honey Mushroom (Armillariella mellea) is similar but has a ring on the stem. A bright orange cluster of mushrooms that fruits like this (and from wood, buried or otherwise) is probably Omphalotus illudens (the Jack'o'lantern) and is poisonous
From a site that is dedicated to 'shroom enthusiasts ... but not the kind who grow them for cooking, if you know what I mean, so I'm not convinced it's correct. Then again, who says the trippers don't know their own product?

Shall we take bets?

Before we went on vacation I noticed that one of the two inflatable rings on Liza's kiddie pool had deflated. Given how often it has been moved, that wasn't surprising, and I figured the next time I used it I'd just patch it up with one of the 146 patch kits we have floating around in the garage.

I hauled the pool out yesterday, cleaned it off, and inflated both of the rings so that I could locate the source of the problem. I never did find the leak, although I did determine that it's large enough that a fully inflated ring loses half its air in less than an hour. The remaining ring was enough to keep the sides of the pool (mostly) upright, though, so I filled the pool and let Liza splash around for an hour yesterday evening.

This morning I was surprised to see that not only were both of the pool rings deflated, the pool was completely empty and the innertube was flat as a pancake, too. Whaaaa?

Half a dozen holes, some the size of my hand, in the bottom of the pool. The drain plug pulled out and ripped off of its tether. A (never found) hole in the bottom ring so large that part of the pool water drained into the ring and is stuck inside.

I'm guessing that the recent lack of rain has something desperate for water, and maybe it got stuck inside once it jumped in to have a drink. Now, the only question is: Woodchuck? Skunk? Cat? Falcon? Owl? Deer? Raccoon? Nocturnal squirrel? Evil redneck neighbor? Wolverine*?

Whatever the answer, it looks like we'll be hauling out Liza's baby pool from last year (and draining it and putting it away every time we use it), at least until I find enough change in the couch to buy a new one on sale at Target.

* Ohio State's main sports rival is University of Michigan, whose mascot is the wolverine

Monday, July 28, 2008

Liza of the Dance

The freakiest thing about this video is that the only thing that could have inspired it is the penguin dance scene from Mary Poppins, which features Dick Van Dyke doing some softshoe. How she got from that (and my mother doing The Twist at the wedding reception earlier this month) to Irish step dancing, I will never know.

Needless to say, the Lord of the Dance videos I dug up on YouTube tonight were well received. Gotta go request the full video of that and Stomp from the library.

Quick pricing question

Okay, Internetz, I need help with an etsy decision. I'm trying to get some ideas and supply built up before the weather turns cold ;)

How much would you be willing to pay for a hand-knit hat that looked like this (in an adult size, or in a kid size - give two prices if you'd like):

How much extra would you be willing to pay to get one that is a custom size and color combination? And how much for a matching hat/mittens set that had a similar design?

Thanks for your input!

Friday, July 25, 2008


"When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My latest sweater project

More about it here, if you're interested.

Most expensive family entertainment I've ever purchased

For $1300 and six hours of being housebound, all I saw of my daughter was this ...

All I saw of my cat was this ...

And all I saw of my father was this ...

After all that, I have about a billion fewer dead branches threatening to impale our house during each storm, non-leaking bathtub and patio faucets, and a new faucet in my bathroom sink.

My favorite part of the day? When the tree guys flagged down the neighborhood ice cream truck.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Because Sonia never tells me anything anymore ...

I had to find out about this from ... my mother.

That's just wrong, dude - I mean, I know we moved away like a year and a half ago, but still ... your husband's got a freakin' miniseries on SpikeTV and you don't even mention it? Not cool.

And were you going to mention that "Invincible" is on MTV?

Congrats, guys - no wonder he was holed up in his studio so much.

Dance video

Monday, July 21, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor?

The foreclosure house next to ours is for sale. For $50K less than we paid for our mirror-image house a little over a year ago.

True, the sale house has a couple inches of water in the basement, plus kitchen and bathrooms from the dark ages, but still. Gah.

Good thing we're not planning to move anytime soon.

Wedding shots

Liza, Susan and Chloe pose before the ceremony. Yes, my daughter is jovial, and no, she's not drunk, all evidence to the contrary. Notice that Chloe has learned the hard way that it's best to keep an eye on Ms. Unpredictable, lest she run up and smack you for no reason while giggling maniacally. Notice also: Susan, Most Beautiful Bride On The Planet.

Action shot! I was on the outside end of the very front pew, so it was hard to get a good angle, but at least you can tell Liza had the right idea. Both girls made it down the aisle at a reasonable pace, sprinkling as they went, and not even stopping when they spotted grandparents and other relatives in the congregation. Again, Chloe's keeping an eye on the wild animal next to her.

Susan's father was too ill to attend the wedding, so Jason took his place for the second dance. Liza was not amused. You can't tell, but we had to duct tape her feet to the floor to keep her from joining them.

Most touching moment of the night? Susan managed to drag her stepfather out onto the dance floor during "Wind Beneath My Wings." Mr. I'm Too Baptist To Dance got served ;)
I think I'll blow this up to poster-size and send it to him - what do you think?

Video is ready, only YouTube is being all wonky and won't let me open the page, so you'll have to wait for that. Three-year-old line-dancing at the reception? Well worth the wait.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Status report

Back from the wedding, will write more and post photos when I've got the laundry pile lower than my waist, but in the meantime ...

Liza made it down the aisle (and back at the end of the service)!

Ack! Hurry! Watch before midnight tonight!

Or else you'll have to pay for it when Joss Whedon finds someplace else to distribute it.


Is it just me, or is Nathan looking a bit paunchy? I mean, still rogue-ishly handsome, but in a pudgy sort of way. And Doogie is looking a little old ... he can sing his ass off, but still.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Emergency Shawl

When it's one week before the wedding, I'm leaving for the east coast the next day, and I realize that my shoulders look like pizza and I don't want to gross everyone out by exposing them in my halter-style dress, there's only one thing to do: go stash-diving and knit a shawl. Fast. Like, in less than 8 hours of total working time.

Look how well the teal in the yarn matches the awesome sandals I'm going to be wearing. Now THAT'S some good stash-diving!
(I get bonus points for posting this from Dial-Up Land, where it took me damn near as long to upload the photos and post here as it did to make the shawl. Seriously, we have got to do something about my MIL's internet access.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Off my butt Friday

1. The grill that covers the vent fan in our bathroom was visibly dusty, and has been since, ahem, we moved in. You know how there are some tasks that you know won't be that hard, but you still never get around to them because, let's be honest, you're the only one who will notice if it doesn't get done? Yeah, the vent fan is that sort of thing.

Today I took the grill down, and not only was it dusty, the damn thing looked like a wool blanket had been glued to the insides of it. Ten minutes of high-pressure hosing down later, some scrubbing with a (retired) toothbrush, and some cursing while reinstalling it in the jerry-rigged contraption in the ceiling, and we now have a chance that the air capacity of the fan will be measured in cubic feet per minute instead of per hour. Huzzah.

2. The outside faucet at the back of our house leaks, and it has been dripping since, ahem, we moved in. Last year we didn't notice it much because of how we had the hose hooked up, but it definitely contributed to the swampiness I spent all this week combatting. Anyhow, the faucet is so drippy that it can be measured in gallons per day, so we have been using the shutoff valve in the basement to keep it off except for when we actively need to be using it. Yeah, that's convenient, to have to traipse through the kitchen, family room, basement, and laundry room in order to turn it on or off.

I avoid plumbing repairs, mainly because if it gets screwed up there's a chance it can do major damage to the house, but a leaky faucet shouldn't be too hard to fix, right? I researched it in all of my handyman books, and it looked like you unscrew a couple things, replace some washers and O-rings, and put it back together. No problem. Only, I can't get the damn thing unscrewed. Liberal amounts of WD-40 have been applied, and it's going nowhere. I'm not completely sure which direction it's supposed to turn (sometimes the screws on things that are supposed to rotate go the wrong way so they don't unscrew themselves during normal use), and the slot for the screwdriver is stripping, so I've given up for now. I can't decide if this is a "wait for Dad" or a "just call the damn plumber already" situation. And someone needs to shoot whoever came up with flathead screws, or at least whoever continues to use them now that there are less strippy options.

3. The faucet in our tub/shower has been leaking for the past few months, getting worse virtually daily. You can reduce it to a drip if you really crank the handles down hard, but if Jason is in a fog in the morning and forgets, I find a thin stream of water going down the drain when I get in there. Not good. Add to that the fact that the handles are the ugly chrome-and-clear-plastic variety that have enough mold on the inside to repopulate a small planet, and Something needed to be done.

I succeeded in shutting off the water to the tub (Yay for shutoff valves behind little doors in the closet behind the bathroom!) and getting the handles and escutcheons off, but I can't get the guts of the handles to move at all. I went over to Home Depot in hopes that there would be a magical device for doing what I'm trying to do with a pair of channel lock pliers, but no dice. There are specialized implements for every other plumbing repair job, but apparently not this one. And there are so many different replacement "guts" that there's no way I can figure out what I need without removing the current setup.

Again, I'm not completely sure of what I'm doing, and if I bust something we're going to be showering in the guest bathroom until we get it fixed, so I've given up for now. I'm in the process of bleaching the living crap out of the handles (literally) and escutcheons, and I have to recaulk the area around our sink anyway so I can take care of fixing the funk there, too, but otherwise I'm stymied.

I have definitively decided that this, combined with the drippy immoveable outside faucet, is a "call the plumber already" situation, which takes the burden off of my shoulders. And if we're going to pay to have the plumber come out, I'm not repairing the ugly thing, I'm getting one that doesn't look like the 1980s attacked my bathroom. Now I just have to find somewhere that stocks a three-handle shower/tub faucet combo in an antique bronze finish, get it ordered and get it here, and find a plumber. Oh, and find some cash to pay for this whole party ... sigh.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last week's recipes

After weeks of "I don't know, pick whatever you want to eat," Jason inexplicably requested that I cook Thai food last week, and I obliged by hauling out Step-By-Step Thai and cooking all of our meals from it. The winners:

Chicken and Noodle One-Pot, which is sort of a coconut/curry/lime soupy noodle dish. Yummmmmm!

Sesame Hot Noodles, which I served as a side dish to go along with the Roast Red Pork and some stir-fried snow peas. All of them were good on their own, but they were much better when we mixed them all together and called it Thai Lo Mein. The pork wasn't quite the same as the red pork you get in Chinese wonton soup or fried rice, but it was good - the allspice made it almost sweet, and while it didn't smell too appetizing, the taste was really good and it was really hard to stop nibbling pieces off while I carved the loin into slices.

Carrot and Cilantro Salad, which I served as a side dish with Sesame Skewered Chicken with Ginger Baste. I really liked the salad and couldn't stop snitching from it while we were waiting for the chicken to cook on the grill. Jason was less enthused, but I think I can convince him to eat it again. We both agreed that the chicken was excellent, and regretted having to share it with the friends we were cooking with that night (just kidding, guys! sort of...). I used some of the red Sriracha chile sauce (the stuff in the squirt bottles on the tables at Thai restaurants) as a dip for the chicken, and it perked things up nicely.

Since I've been working on the patio all this week, I've fallen back on my tried and true recipes, including an asparagus frittata, the horribly named Zippy Beef Mac and Cheese, and Tomato Corn Chowder. Nothing inspiring, but I know how long the recipes take to fix, I know they turn out edible, and I know the leftovers freeze well (except the frittata ... but there's never any leftovers of that, anyway). Not exactly a glowing endoresement, I know, but hey, we can't cook gourmet every week, can we?

Why I'm getting nothing done inside this week

The landing for the steps down from our deck has always been a swampy mess, thanks to compacted soil, poor drainage, and lighting that precludes the possibility of lush grass growth. I haven't had the energy to do anything about it ... which is why it looked like this last Thursday:

Thanks to two days of excavation, a truckload of bricks, and me spending every freakin' afternoon this week hunched over and sweating, today it looks like this:

I'm taking total credit for this. I designed it, figured out how much stuff we'd need, ordered it, dug it, tamped it, installed it, sanded it, cut it, redid the part that looked like a sinkhole had opened up under it, and backfilled around it. Jason's involvement was pretty much limited to paying for it, distracting the kid while I worked during the weekend, running a few wheelbarrows full of soil to the pit in the backyard, and watching to make sure I didn't cut off my arm when I was using the masonry saw last night.

Note to self: Masonry saw requires eye protection, ear protection, AND A DUST MASK OR YOU WILL BE SNEEZING BLACK FOR A DAY AND A HALF.

Next step: Painting some old plastic planters in funky colors and sticking some herbs in them, in hopes that they will (survive and) disguise the vents that stick out the back of the house onto my new super-mega-awesomely-incredible patio. And sticking out some grass seed when we get back from the wedding and there's a chance I'll remember to water it everyday (ha!).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Another great career possibility

When she outgrows the adult entertainment industry, she can fall back on her rollerskating skills and join a derby team:I bet you think that just because she's so uncoordinated she still falls over for no reason while standing still and she still can't ride a tricycle, I staged these photos and she's just standing there, possibly with some sort of rope holding her up. Nope, this is the real deal.

That's my girl - skating all by herself on her second time out. Burning River Roller Girls, here we come!


Actually, the first was the cherry tomato Jason and I split after doing some yardwork tonight ... it was sweeeeeet. But this is the first "real" tomato, brought inside a little early lest some nasty form of nature swoop in and destroy it before I got to take a photo. Should be ripe by this weekend, and I've got a couple strips of bacon and a mess o' mayonnaise waiting for it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Insomnia strikes again

I finally got around to signing the blog up with Feedburner, which is handy for all of you regular readers - now you don't have to keep checking back to see if there's new content, you can subscribe and it will tell you whenever there's an update.

Best of all for the only-barely-computer-handy: you can skip all this "feed" crap and easily set it up so a message is sent directly to your e-mail whenever I post something new.

Convenient for you, but since a lot of my views seem to be "nope, nothing new yet" visits from regular readers, I suspect my number of hits per day is going to tank. Oh, well - I'm willing to suffer for you guys, so I'll take the hit ;)

Just click on one of the Feedburner widgets on the lefthand side of the screen if you want to subscribe - it would make my day, and possibly my week, too, if I get a lot of subscriptions right away :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Who needs pyrotechnicians ...

... when you've got shirtless, trash-talking, car-on-blocks-in-the-front-yard redneck neighbors three doors down who apparently have money to burn buying the entire contents of a Phantom Fireworks showroom? Or neighbors on the street south of you who are in a fireworks showdown with your street? Or people on a street somewhere north and east who are trying (and failing) to keep up?

I have never seen amateurs pull off shows this big in my life. Sure, sometimes somebody pulls out the stops and buys one or two really impressive armaments, but this is on a whole different scale. I mean, there are towns that have smaller displays than the one that's happening so close the china cabinet rattles from the concussions from the boomers.

After 10 or 15 minutes of the neighbors hauling packages of fireworks the size of milk crates out into the middle of our street and setting them off two, three, or seven (!) at a time, I finally ran inside to grab my camera. I've (poorly) edited together some of the better clips, where you can see the size of the fireworks that were literally 50 yards from our driveway, as well as some of the ones on the street north of us. Keep in mind that this is the slower, more leisurely pace ... I missed filming the really good parts, of course.

While I was filming, Jason held Liza, who was bundled up with a coat and sweatpants over her jammies, hands clamped over her ears, chanting "I think I want to go inside now - tell them to stop exploding now, please." She never started screaming, and she was really excited about seeing them and telling us which ones she liked best, but she was done with it after about 2 minutes. Good thing we didn't shell out $20 a piece to go see the orchestra and fireworks at Blossom tonight.

The neighbors finally ran out of ammo (or flares to light it with) about 10 minutes ago, more than an hour and a half after they started. Let's hope they don't restock for tomorrow ... the kid needs to get to sleep before 10:30 once in a while.

Happy ...

Given the cold snap we had during early spring, I'm willing to count this as close enough, aren't you?
In case nobody's noticed, I haven't been posting many garden photos this year. That's primarily because it's been so wet so far this summer that I hardly can go back there to check on things ... something about puddles so deep the mud squelches over the sides of your flip-flops just doesn't scream "GARDENING WEATHER" to me.

Apparently it doesn't scream "GARDENING WEATHER" to the plants, either, as this is all I have left from the stuff I planted in the new bed this year: onions, a couple of ratty-looking nasturtiums, and some Thai basil that I just put in two weeks ago.
The carrots, marigolds, Italian basil, green beans, lima beans, and cilantro all drowned. See the green stuff on the top of the soil? That's moss. Apparently raising the bed 6" above the surrounding soil wasn't far enough. Might have to jack this one up higher next year, or pray for a drought.

The original bed, however, has been perking right along this year:
I've got three happy tomatoes, some delighted oregano and basil, several delirious nasturtiums, some mildly amused marigolds, two happy green peppers, and two happy little hotties:

And the eggplants are doing just beautifully, thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Art therapy

"How Liza feels at school"

"There were two ballet dancers who were fighting. A baby ballerina came and said, 'No fighting,' so then they were friends."

Note the use of a baseline, which according to some "experts" is rare in 3-yr-olds:

Use of a base line
Indicating space
relates everything else on the page - at 3 - 1% use baseline - at 8 - 96% use baseline
Conscious relationship is between child and environment
outdoors: base for things to stand on, character of landscape, surface flowers, trees, buildings, machines, animals and people all stand on this base

I told you she's a genius :)

"There was a really messed-up ballet dancer who was afraid to go on the stage, but her mommy came with her and stood by her and she did a beautiful dance and everyone clapped for her."

Liza wrote me a story.

Picture of zig-zags and rain. "And it kept raining and the seawater kept getting deeper and deeper."