Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Last night we visited the nature center for their Solstice celebration.  Things were appropriately festive ...

... and the candlelit hike was fun, even if it was really cold and we didn't see any animals.

The fire looked great until it died down five minutes later ...

... but there were crafts and snacks to keep us occupied.

A few animals dropped by to celebrate with us ...
(whooooo's a little cutie?  the screech owl, that's who)

... and we even got to make our own Yule Log.  While Jason kept an eye on the glitteration of said log, I poked around the center looking for friendly animals to photograph.  My major coup of the evening?  I SAW THE MUDPUPPY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!! (and we've been coming here for four years now)

The mudpuppy may be a bit shy, but a bunch of the other animals were out and about, and some even seemed to welcome the camera.  A couple of the snakes even came over to the lens and sniffed all around it (through the glass) as though it was extremely interesting (or smelled like dead mice).  A couple of the residents even smiled for me.

Let us all celebrate the true meaning of the holidays

"Let me ask you. So your baby is born, and the first thing you do is put him in an open container filled with grain and covered in oxen drool? Does this seem reasonable to you?" 

This is why I should not be allowed to sort through my blogroll while eating cereal.  Anyone know how to get granola out of a laptop keyboard?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They are losing their freaking minds

The cats are, that is.

The birds have finally found the feeder that I put in the yard back in November (way to be observant, guys!), and they're hitting it hard.  I put it in the front yard this year, partly to give the birds some cover in the bushes nearby, and partly because this way I can watch them while sitting on the couch blogging (ahem).

I also put the feeder there because it's right near the window where the cats normally hang out anyway - I figured it would be like Kitty TV.  When the first birds appeared, I called Zach over to the arm of the couch and pointed out the window.  Zach normally isn't Mr. Observant, either, and I don't know if I've ever actually gotten him to look at something I was pointing to ... until today.  Dude started barking his head off (yes, cats can bark) at the birds, and I thought he was going to launch himself through the window (which would have been problematic, since it's got a Christmas tree in front of it).  The initial flood of birds - maybe half a dozen female cardinals and a couple of house sparrows or house finches, plus a black-capped chickadee - went down eventually, and Zach regained his sanity.

Just now Bella finally noticed the birds, and SHE started barking at them, and she never barks at anything.  She pretty much ignores the squirrels and chipmunks (which Zach happily stalks and yells at through the sliding door) and hardly ever meows unless there's something wrong (like her food bowl being less than half full).  But she stood on the arm of the chair and yelled at those birds for a couple of minutes straight.  She's quieted down now and trying to pretend that she's resting, but I'm not fooled.  She's trying to figure out how to open the window so she can go get those suckers.

Good luck growing some opposable thumbs and bulking up enough to turn the crank on the windows, babe!

Now that I know the birds will actually come in this close to the house, I'll have to see if I can manage to get another kind of feeder out there.  Just having hulled sunflower seeds won't do it for long, not if we want to have more than two or three kinds of birds around.  I'm thinking of getting a feeder for nyjer seed to see if I can get a few more finches.  And maybe if I'm feeling really kind I'll get one of those suet/peanut butter feeders for the squirrels in the back.  At any rate, it looks like the Ohio Birds guide is out to stay, at least until we can recognize all of the usual suspects at the feeder.

How to tick off your sci-fi nerd friends

Show them this with an absolutely straight face:

Or perhaps this is more your style:

First person to show these to someone and have them patiently explain to them why these pics are "wrong" gets a present!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Christmas Concert, or, "The Cute! It Burns!"

Friday night Liza's school had its annual winter concert, complete with performances from grades K-7.  I had expected to have to drag Little Miss Stage Fright there kicking and screaming, but apparently she's gotten over that, at least temporarily.  We actually had problems getting through dinner fast enough to make it to the school on time, because she insisted on telling everyone at the restaurant who spoke to her at all every little detail about why she was dressed up and what they were singing and how she felt about it and on and on and on.  I thought our meal would be cold by the time she shut up long enough for the waitress to serve the food :)

The rest of her class were pumped up, as well.  I have a dozen shots from before the show, and every single one of them looks like this:
Her class was pretty much populated by 40 small taffeta-wearing-or-sweater-vested rubber jackhammers on crack.  I'm not sure what the teachers did between when we left Liza in the band room and when she came on stage - it possibly involved large doses of pharmaceuticals or some sort of mind control - but she and the other kids were all well-behaved at showtime.

(that's the legendary Lewis to the right of Liza in the picture)

Their performance was as cute and earshatteringly awful as you can imagine.

Based on data we collected at the show, I'm pretty sure the ability to carry a tune develops sometime early in second grade - the K's and first graders preferred to just shout theirs at the tops of their little lungs.  And by the time the kids hit second grade, the music teacher is sick of having them shout at her, so she hands them all recorders and they honk in dissonant unison for a couple minutes.

I think my favorite moment of the whole evening was when one of the readers from the second grade announced that her "favorite things" (the theme of the show, and what selected kids from each class wrote and read to the audience) included her dog, her teacher, and her school "because I like to blow things up."

Ah, school concerts.  Next time: earplugs and a fully-charged iPod with a new ebook loaded and ready to go.  Doesn't Jason look like he could have used one or both of those to help him weather the evening?

If Liza looks less than thrilled there, it's probably because it was getting close to 9pm at that point, and we were moments away from bundling the limp-as-a-ragdoll performer into the car and heading home.  Well, actually heading to DQ for a celebratory Blizzard, but who's counting?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Posie,

It's official, I want to sell everything I own and recreate your decorating in my wonky little split-level in Cleveland.

And I want to borrow your dog every few weeks for a couple days, too.  That's okay, right?



Sunday, December 05, 2010

Post #1441, in which we are all festive and stuff

Snow!  Real snow!

Seriously!  Snow!  Okay, so it's not much, but it's enough to play around with.

Time to get the trees up, I guess.  Okay, chief, you're in charge of your tree this year.  Get to it.

Meanwhile, I'll deal with the rest of the decorations ... after I have a stiff drink.

Aren't you supposed to be decorating so we don't still have ornaments on your floor in February?  Schnell!

Okay, now help me fluff out the branches on the big tree.

And go outside and hang up all these ornaments on the trees outside.  What do you mean, it's not fun?  This is the holidays, darn it!  Decorate!

Ah, how I've waited for the time when she would actually be able to be useful around the house.  Now, if I could just teach her to make me some brownies and unload the dishwasher, I'd be happy.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What do you call four in a row?

Do you prefer 4-bagger, cherry, or hambone?  Oh, wait, that's bowling, not blogging.

Whatever you call it, I managed to pull it off with NaBloPoMo!

A message for someone special

For: You know who you are

The popup you see when you mouseover the original comic reads: "Having a positive attitude is almost tautologically good for your mental health, and extreme stress can hurt your immune system, but that doesn't mean you should feel like shit for feeling like shit."

And if you haven't read the XKCD comics online, grab a cup of coffee and go check them out.  You won't be disappointed (although you may need to go back a couple of weeks to get past the guest posts and 5-minute comics).