Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parenting II

We had ... (counting on my fingers) ... 17 people over at our house on Sunday for one of Joe's family potlucks. Everyone brought too much good food and the house was full of conversation. Nieces and nephews ran around our yard and played in a raucous game of Go Fish! in the living room. Just about every dish in our house was dirty by the end of the night, in addition to a small stack of paper plates, and the compost bin was full of corn cobs and watermelon rinds. It was good. 

After we waved our goodbyes and finished up the first phase of cleanup in the kitchen, though, Joe said he's getting a better idea of what it will be like to have our own children. 

A pint-sized greasy handprint left on the wall

I guess it seems different when it's our own carpet that the toddlers toss their food on, when it's our yard where they're sitting down onto my catsup-covered plate and tracking Play-Doh into the grass (even though that's a pretty good place to track the Play-Doh, in the general scheme of things). Joe gave the older kids oil pastels to color with, and now we can't seem to get all the pastel off our tablecloth. This is okay, Joe said, since we can just make that table our coloring spot. And we love the kids so much. But we do have the sense that once our home is inhabited by little ones, it will be a very different kind of home. And I imagine that might take some adjusting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cleaning house

Just listed 30-some items on Freecyle, hoping someone wants the things we no longer want (mostly yardsale leftovers). This usually ends with no one wanting the stuff we were using just recently, which I always take somewhat personally. But maybe things will go differently this time!

Meanwhile, here is my favorite freecycle post in a long time:

Wanted - couple of hens - any area

I have a little bantam rooster that is lonely. He lives in the barn with my
goats. I have tried grouping him up with my other chickens but they ganged up on
him and beat him up. So after nurseing him back to health I put him by himself.
But he seems lonely. So if you have 1 or 2 hens, young or old, that you would
like to give up, I am sure that would make "Henry" very happy. "

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I thought I knew how to garden

I was talking to my mom about my garden this morning and feeling pretty hopeful. Even though a few of the plants I planted had died, I'd planted other ones in their place and figured I'd learned lessons for next year.

What I forgot was to go out and shade some of my seedlings from the sun. This is not something that's usually necessary, but I didn't get my wimpy seedlings very used to the sun, and they have been frying in it. So I just remembered now and went out to survey any damage.

What I found was half-empty beds. A few seedlings that were doing fine yesterday were gone completely -- and I found their shriveled remnants, uprooted, elsewhere in the garden. One of the strongest ones had its stem snapped - by what? - and it will finish dying in the next few hours. Some others were sun bleached and dead of natural causes, including a couple I planted just yesterday. Just a few look okay.

I'm not sure what happened. What would uproot my plants? I'm going to plant a few more homegrown seedlings this evening and buy some better ones to fill out the beds at the farmer's market on Saturday. And maybe the squash seeds I planted will come up stronger, since they've known nothing but the outdoors.

The blackberries and raspberries are my consolation. They look happy, it seems.


Oh, this made me laugh.

But if I was his mom and knew about half those things, I'd about die of fright.

How am I ever going to stand having kids?

I myself have survived many a ride around the block in the back of a pickup truck. But unlike my sisters, I was a bit scared all the time. I'm such a wimp.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Going out to mow the lawn a little while ago, I stopped with my toes at the screen door as a four-foot-long snake slithered past. Eep!

Wildlife doesn't scare me generally, but snakes that big do make my heart pound a bit, especially if I'm not expecting them.

It looked like a black rat snake (that is, black), but I'm really not sure what it was. In any case, it's not poisonous and probably something that will keep the mouse population down a bit, which is fine by me as long as it stays out of the house and preferably out of sight.

In other news, Joe and I have had fun mail and visitors lately, most of them of the non-reptile variety. And most of Joe's big family is coming over for dinner Sunday to celebrate various birthdays. Whee!

Friday, May 15, 2009


It looks like we have a hummingbird living next door, with its nest is at the top of a sweet gum tree. It likes to sit on  the top of a tall, bare branch, surveying the neighborhood and making the occasional loop-de-loop. 

Like kids not home for dinner

Apparently, if you miss daily Mass about... oh... four days in a row, some of the people who know you are regulars will not only start to wonder where you are, but they will talk it over at length with the others and, upon your return, ask where have you been!

Joe had early meetings every day this week but today, so we didn't go -- not so strange for me, more unusual for him. Our absence was noted.

It's nice to be thought of, though. Next time we'll try to let someone know if we'll be out a few days, so they don't have to wonder.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back in time

This week I discovered Viena Diena, the online home of a project in which hundreds of photographers took pictures of one day in Latvia. Actually, they took pictures of two days -- August 31, 1987 and the anniversary 20 years later.

The pictures taken not even 22 years ago seem like a different world. I mean, I was alive then, playing with my My Little Ponies on my parents' carpet, but these are pictures of some other place, where men still drive homemade tractors and women share with their horses. Real horses. Or maybe moose.

So many of the pictures are great, but those that struck me most are here, here, here, here and here. And why are these mothers wearing masks?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Parenting I

Joe and I were at my parents' house on Saturday, taking care of the dog and my grandmother while everyone else was gone. Joe played his guitar while my grandmother listened and I played my kokle, and Vecmamma even played a little herself, just picking at the strings.

In the evening, we went to  Mass near there, like we used to. A tiny little baby was being baptized, and after it received the holy water and the holy oil and the priest was talking about how wonderful it all was, the baby broke out into the most radiant little grin! Those nearby let out little squeals of laughter.

But I think I paid more attention to the  young couple in front of us. Both their toddlers were pretty squirmy, and they kept handing them board books and snacks to try to keep them calm and quiet. The little girl piped up when everyone else was singing, but her "la la la!"s were not nearly on tune as the liturgy, and she kept going even after everyone else was quiet. The father's attempts to shush her were in vain. The mother told their boy to be "quiet as a mouse!" but he didn't really listen, either. Then the boy threw up in the pew and the parents made a hasty cleanup and exit. 

(Note to self: when we go to church with kids, we should bring along something to absorb bodily fluids so we don't have to catch them with our hands.)

I don't really remember the sermon. But I really had a lot to ponder about parenthood, and the baby was kicking besides.

Joe made me stand up with the other mothers to receive a special blessing for Mother's Day coming up. On the way out we got little flowers -- marigolds! Mine is so pretty. I already planted it in a pot outside.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Our neighbor mowed our front lawn and even swept the grass from the walk! What a great feeling.

I am capable of mowing the lawn, but not at the same time I'm working in the garden (with many breaks). So that was actually really helpful.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This article fascinated me on a couple levels:

Gilbert wrote about a study that showed people’s happiness with their lives and correlated that information with their salary.

What did he find? $40,000 is a truly magic number. Below that number, people were much less happy with their lives - people with a household income of $20K or $30K were generally less happy with their state of living than people earning $40K.

As Trent (who wrote the article) pointed out, that number won't hold true for everyone. Cost of living varies with your location, your dependents, the amount of debt you have. But he writes about the idea of having enough.

When Joe and I moved to La Plata, he left the decision of whether to take a job right away up to me (which was weird!) (and cool!) (but wow, what a big decision). We realized I didn't need to work for pay, and though of course we could use the money, I think things are working out better for us this way, at least for now.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Springtime asparagus

This may be my favorite article on cooking ever, because it is about life as much as it is about cooking.

Today I am smiling because not only do I suspect my capon will be defrosted in time to roast it for dinner, but because there was asparagus to go with it at the farmer's market. Mmm mmm mm.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Hah! I thought the guy coming to install our new thermostat might be quiet, but it turns out he's a HUGE fan of The Cure, and he figured out that someone else in our house was, too. (What, the multiple Cure albums in the tape holder by the thermostat and the hand-drawn picture of Robert Smith on our coffee table gave it away?) I actually learned things about The Cure I didn't know. I didn't know there were things about The Cure I didn't know. Maybe Joe will come home and tell me that I knew them once but forgot.

About the thermostat: it is fancy, programmable and tells the electric company how much power we use in real time, so they don't need as much guesswork when they buy it to sell it to us. It also lets them raise our home's temperature several degrees during the day in the summer. We get credits on our electric bill for participating -- and a free light bulb.

Read these over lunch

Though it does not comment on any matters of international importance, this is one of the greatest things I've read in a while.

And I enjoyed the very last part of Answer Man's Sunday column.

Neither card nor flowers

I guess it is a good thing the gardens I wanted to take my mom to for an early Mother's Day trip were closed for renovations. I planned a fun afternoon at the Baltimore Art Museum and it ended up being well-suited for yesterday's cold and rainy weather. Joe came, too! Now he is suggesting we take my mom to museums for Mother's Day every year, hee. We'll see.

The destination was a surprise from my mom... which meant that I didn't find out until we got there that she had actually been there before. But she and my dad had mostly taken in a special exhibit last time, which meant we could explore the permanent galleries. I appreciate whoever curated the European Art section, where we spent most of our time. There were the usual things -- religious art, portraits, landscapes -- but they were almost all fascinating, especially the portraits, which are usually a lowlight for me.

There were also nice, long descriptions with extra details accompanying the works, which meant I had interesting things to read and made it through the exhibit in about the usual time, instead of zipping through ahead of Joe, who studies things for longer. We also got to see old mosaics, elaborate quilts, and fancy furniture next to a chair made out of a few hundred number two pencils. No Sitting Allowed.

We scrapped my original plan of going out for ice cream afterwards and instead found a nice cafe where my mom got a coffee with whipped cream and biscotti, Joe got hot chocolate, and I had really great lentil soup that came (a surprise!) with bread and herby dipping-oil. We made it back to our parking meter with just five minutes to spare and then drove through the city's Druid Hill Park, which has a big lake and a nifty tower that looks like a castle. My mom and I talked so much on the way home that I missed my exit to get off of I-95 and we had to take a detour.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It was a good day for it

Our yard sale take:

$27.61 in cash and change
minus $5.12 spent on posterboard to make signs
plus introductions to several neighbors
encounters with a couple more
and a cookout invitation.

I'm pretty pleased.

We also got rid of a couple boxes worth of things, and the rest are dusted off, boxed up and ready to sell or donate elsewhere. Alas, though, we STILL have our enormous white elephant of a spare microwave. We were offering it free, too!

I think we would have had a lot more traffic if all our signs hadn't gotten taken down sometime between yesterday evening and this morning. Maybe they were illegal?