Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's For Their Own Good

Doesn't this poor little strawberry flower look pathetic? She has no idea why she and her sister flowers and fruits are all locked up.
It's not so much that I want to keep her in, but who I want to keep out. There are murderous villains in our neighborhood. There is a two legged fellow by the name of Mimus Polyglottos who has the ability to fly. He and his four legged cohort, Sciurus Carolinensis, make quick kills when it comes to the easy prey of the Strawberry family. They also prey upon my tomatoes, but my tomatoes are still wintering in Florida. They are safe----for now.
We won't tell the strawberries what their final destination involves. Let's just remember that their lives were protected, they were fed well and cared for until that moment when berry meets shortcake and real whipped cream.

Cucumber Conundrum

Cucumber and Tomato salad is just about one of my favorite summertime dishes. It's cool and crisp and sweet and sour.
As I've aged, it's also caused me to join the group of people that has to take Beano before eating anything that's good for you. I probably need to go to Sam's and buy the 5 gallon bucket of Beano, because I refuse to give up eating vegetables and tasty, high fiber breads. I will say that this problem has given me ample excuse not to eat broccoli, but I digress.
So far this year, I have 7 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the ground. I'm still trying to figure out where to put the other 4. What this means is, if I make the proper sacrifices to the tomato gods, I will be swimming in tomatoes by mid-summer. How can I have all those tomatoes and not have tomato/cucumber salad?

I was able to locate seeds for those uppity cucumbers in the store that come all wrapped up tightly in saran wrap. They claim to be burpless. I've tried them, and for the most part, they are mostly burpless. Of course, I've never heard a cucumber burp, but maybe they take Beano too.

I have two other problems with cucumbers. One, I really don't have room for them. Two, I've also discovered that pillbugs do, in fact, eat fruits and veggies that lay on the ground. Anybody that tells you they only eat decaying matter is straight out lying.

To address my pillbug laden, spatially challenged garden, I decide to go vertical. I built a cucumber trellis. It looks all fancy and stained because we had a lot of leftover baseboard wood when we built the house. All it took was three pieces of that, some green, plastic coated chicken wire, and a nail gun. Voi'la, instant cucumber trellis.

I'm crossing my fingers. Don't tell Beano about this though. Their stock might plummet and I wouldn't want to be a part of another company needing a bailout.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Women Live Longer Than Men

On the left is James. On the right is his best friend, Jerry. I'm calling him Jerry because he reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld---he finds humor in every day happenings and cracks me up.
These pictures were taken on March 17th. Our weather had been unseasonably warm. I think on this day it hit about 87*. When Jerry is over, they spend a lot of time outdoors getting dirty and sweaty, cuz that's what boys do. They also got hot, and that's how they ended up in the pool.
As you can see, the sun is setting and our pool is running between 58* and 60* at the surface. In other words, IT's COLD! Freaky cold, heart stopping cold. I don't care how hot I am this time of year, the pool is not the place to cool off. The only thing that would get me in the pool this time of year would be an accidental fall. Even if I was covered in killer bees, I wouldn't jump in the pool. Have I made myself clear?
Here's Jerry after sliding down the slide. He and James went down multiple times. They spent at least 30 minutes in and out of the pool.
I've decided it must be a guy thing. I guess it's thrilling to jump in frigid water, or bungee jump, or drive really fast (in circles, to the left), or climb Mt. Everest in the winter, or______________ (fill in the blank). To further prove my point, Lee was the one taking these photos. I was the one finding towels to warm up the little adventurers. I guess that's a girl thing, or at least a mom thing.
If you don't believe that men do sillier things than women, then take a look at further proof. I'm guessing that such activity starts in childhood, as evidenced by my pictures.
I will say that they had more fun than if they'd been riding roller coasters and it was wwaaayyy cheaper than a trip to Six Flags.

In the boys defense, they finished up this little polar bear swim by getting in a hot shower. Maybe they'll do okay after all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Wonder If....

...Pearl had a good time in New York City?

"Mom, it was the best time I've ever had in my whole life. No offense, but I wasn't homesick even one time. It was incredible."

I failed to post about her day 4 and 5 in NYC. Maybe she can fill us in later. What I'm just over the moon about, is her answer to my question about whether she had a good time. I am thrilled beyond measure that she wasn't homesick and that it was the time of her life. She's added a circle of experience to her life that will benefit her forever.

I remember the first time I learned about 'circles' in early childhood development class in college. Parents and family are their first circle, and like ripples on a pond, they experience different things and their circles expand and get further from the first circle.

Some parents are saddened by this circle effect. I find it amazing and satisfying. As a mom, I don't get a paycheck or a progress report. At least once a day, I feel like a complete failure as a mom. I'm trying to raise my kids to be respectful, independent, and happy. With three kids, that's seldom possible every minute of the day. Pearl's response to my question made me realize that Lee and I have done a good job. She'll do anything she sets her mind to. There was a time in her life that she wouldn't let me out of her sight. Even Lee wasn't good enough for her.

How far she's come from that little circle! How much further will she go? I can't wait to hear about it when it happens!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where I've Been

Spring Break
My kids are all on Spring Break and I haven't had much time to sit down at the computer.  It's not that we're crazy busy, but I've been doing other things.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled program on Tuesday.

New York, Day 3

By now, I'm expecting that they are exhausted.  Late nights and early mornings can get the best of a person.
Pearl's been having trouble with one of her prepaid credit cards.  It's slightly bent and won't scan properly.  Luckily, she's got another card and a mom that's on the trip has loaned her some money.  I think it's worrying Pearl quite a bit, as she brings it up every night when we talk to her.  Lee's trying to fix it.
Rockefeller Center  first stop.    They took a tour of the NBC studios.  I wonder if she saw Tina Fey?  So far, I've heard no reports of any 'sightings'. 

Next, it was off to Radio City Music Hall for a tour there as well.

Dinner at Uncle Nick's Greek restaurant.  I looooovvvvvee Greek food.  They had a fixed menu and got the best of everything.  I wonder how many of the kids ate it.  Quite a bit of amazing Greek food looks like dog's breakfast.

They finished up the day by seeing an off Broadway hit, In the Heights.  They got to participate in a 'talk back' session with the cast following the show.  One of the people on the tour, knows a cast member.  This show won the Best Musical Tony award for 2008.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New York, Day 2

She's seeing Wicked tonight.

She went to Chinatown.  I wonder what she ate--she'd be the one eating eel and chicken's heads.  She's a crazy adventurous eater.  I also wonder if she bought something fun.
Aerial view of Ellis Island
She went to Ellis Island. I wonder if she was able to find my grandmother's name on the wall? The length of that walkway to the mainland must have made it feel like "so close and yet so far" to my grandmother's family.

The tour company decided it was best to take the kids out of downtown during the St. Patrick's Day parade. I can't imagine why. :)

I also wonder if we'll get pictures of this trip.  She has an extra card, but used nearly all of the memory in the 1st card yesterday.  I encouraged her to look at each picture closely and decide if she needs several pictures of one subject--if not, then delete.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Whirlwind Tour

Pearl's packed up and gone. 
Where?  New York City, Broadway, Manhattan to be exact.

A unique experience presented itself this year, through her theater class at school. A whirlwind trip lasting 5 days with every minute accounted for.  When I was in school, this sort of trip came around twice and I couldn't go either time.  We just didn't have a dime to spare.  I always swore that if my kids wanted to go on a school trip, that I'd try to make it happen.  We are blessed enough that we could make Pearl's trip possible.  We paid for the trip and she saved for several months for spending money and the price of her lunch each day.

Her itinerary is the stuff of dreams.  The short versions is as follows.

3 shows: Wicked, Mary Poppins, and In the Heights.  
Dinner: Puglia's in Little Italy, Ellen's Stardust Diner, Greek at Uncle Nick's, and Pizza at John's Pizzeria.
Lunches at other really cool places.  Gotta have a hotdog off a cart, or you couldn't say you've been there.
Neighborhoods: Little Italy and Chinatown.
Sights: St. Patrick's cathedral, Ground Zero, Rockefeller center, Battery Park, Ellis Island, Empire State building, NBC studio tour, Radio City Music, a musical theater workshop, Macy's at Herald Square, Central Park, CBS Early Show, all that and a bunch of shopping and miles of walking.
They're staying a block off Broadway, poor dears. 

They left at 6am this morning and she called me when they touched down.  She called me again at lunch from Grand Central Station.  Her take on things so far, "I can't believe I'm here.  It looks so wild, like it's not real.  Almost like a movie. People everywhere and gigantic advertisements and lights."  I'd imagine I'll get similar reports for the rest of the week.  

I'm so excited that she wanted to go and that she's having fun.  It's important to me for my kids to be able to branch out if they want to.  It's a hard thing to do--to let go, but necessary.  I hope her memories last a lifetime.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Silent Sunday

You Got a Snack? You Better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Blast from the Past, Part II

George Brett
You'll never guess who I'm 'friends' with on Facebook.
Yes, it's really him and yes, he remembers me.
I should be all star-struck and giddy, but I'm not.  It just gave me a smile to see his "George Brett has added you as a friend" email this morning.  I never knew him as a Hall of Famer.  I knew him as the guy next door with a summer job.  He got the whole winter off for heaven's sakes.  Lucky-duck!

I won't be sending him email or Facebook entries.  He has 578 'friends' for goodness sakes.  I don't have any desire to catch up or be invited to BBQ's or his kid's birthday parties.  More than anything, it's just nice to know he remembers a little girl that had a mad crush on him 30+ years ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TomAto, ToMAto

Marianna's Peace
Marianna's Peace
Cherokee Purple
Cherokee Purple
Aunt Ruby's German Green
Aunt Ruby's German Green

Green Zebra               
Green Zebra
Rose deBerne
Rose de Berne
Pruden's Purple
Pruden's Purple
Black Krim
Black Krim

I really don't know what I've gotten myself into.  I am now the proud mother of heirloom tomato plants.  Twenty-one tomato plants!  They are all certified organic and I got them for just a buck a piece.  
Brenton, owner of my CSA farm, planted 2700 tomato plants last week and has many, many left over.  He originally planned on selling them at a local farmers market, but has discovered that spring time is far too busy at the farm, to spend the morning at a farmer's market.  He'd make a killing if he could make the time though---he's the only person in the city selling organic seedlings.

I also bought some hybrids from him.  As he tells it, "Heirloom tomatoes are a pain in the backside."  I asked why and he said, "For starters, they die.  They get every disease possible and are VERY particular about their watering schedule."
He's willing to put in the work because they are soooo cool to look at and taste great if you can get a harvest.  Why am I going to try it?  Because they look cool and taste great.  

Mine are just babies right now---in one inch starter trays.  Brenton said to be sure to stake them.  They are indeterminate (grow and produce all summer) and get huge.  I'm thinking maybe my wonderful mother and father in law will be glad to take a couple off my hands???
Don't you just love the names?  Obviously, many were named after people.  I wonder who Aunt Ruby is.  Same with Marianna and Rose and Pruden.  
I'll keep you up on how they do.  We'll see if I can out-do Brenton this summer.  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Silent Sunday

54 Days and Waiting

English Pea 'Little Marvel'

Grace in Small Things
1. Coffee
2. Tired teenage girls, best friends.
3. Silly dogs that don't mind the time change.
4. Seeds, making an entrance.
5. Connecting with old friends via Facebook.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Dance

Today was James' first game of the spring season.  From now until May 9th, our Saturday mornings belong to soccer.  
Our oldest, Tom, has been playing soccer all winter for his high school.  His team is undefeated! His season ends this week, just as James' begins.
The thing about soccer that gets to me is the beauty of the game.  It's especially evident when you see still photos of the game.  The kids are in impossible positions, often having both feet off the ground at one time.  Gravity seems to sit and watch the game instead of participating in it. A play that is well executed is a beauty to behold.  I'll even find myself cheering when our opposing team's goalie ("They're called Keepers, Mom.") makes a great save.

I'm quite sure my boys will be dismayed that I'm comparing a soccer game to a great performance of a dance, but I'm sticking with it. 
I'm blessed and grateful beyond proper words, for three healthy kids that can participate in anything they want.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much....

...to entertain me.  Some of my seeds have come up and it seems like magic every year.
Morning Glory "Heavenly Blue"   
I'm beginning to believe this plant is in the witness protection program.  It took me 8 shots to capture it.  My camera keeps wanting to focus on the surrounding material.  Go figure.
German Chamomile.  Love chamomile tea!
It remains evergreen here in a protected space.  It was just waiting for me to turn back on the water to bloom.
Beets "Detroit Red"
Boil, butter, salt.  Recipe for deliciousness.
Carrots "Baby Little Fingers"
I guess it would be gross if they called them Little Baby Fingers.

More Morning Glories

Still waiting on my potatoes, pumpkins and peas to make an entrance above ground.  
Cucumber seeds and sweet potato slips are next in line.

Soon I'll be planting tomato seedlings from my CSA farm.  I'm taking the leap into heritage/heirloom (note: heritage refers to animals, heirloom refers to plants) breeds this year. They taste better, but are far more susceptible to disease because they haven't been genetically modified to fight off things like blight and viruses.
Now, if I could only talk Lee into letting me raise some other heritage breeds.  How about some Milking Devon cattle, or  San Clemente Goats, or a Shire horse, or Delaware chickens, or Jersey Buff turkeys, or.....who am I kidding? ;)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Love/Hate Relationship

Exhibit A--Mandy, covered in dead grass.
Exhibit B--Smokie, covered in dead grass.

Love my dogs. Love that spring is on its way. Love that the grass is turning green. Love that my dogs play hard. 

Hate that they roll when they play so hard. Hate that the dead grass, being pushed up by new grass,  clings like a tick to my dogs when they play.  Hate that no matter how hard I try to brush it off, it persists.  Hate that the beloved dogs only shake when they are in my house.  

Recap: Love dogs and spring.  Hate dead grass.   

Photos by Pearl :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Blast from the Past

I really had forgotten I knew him.  It was 33 years ago that this picture was taken.  I was 10, he was 22.  I lived next door to him for a year.  I had a mad crush on him because he was nice to me.  He was perfect for me, I surmised, because he was 12 years older than me.  My parents were 12 years apart and the age difference didn't matter to them.  
I look back on that year and its activities and think how I would never, ever, ever in a million years let my 10 year old hang out with a 22 year old man.  I think he and his roommate, Jamie, were in need of permission to act like 10 year olds.  I gave them that option.  He was from California and said (don't know if it's true) that he'd never been in snow before.  I taught him to make snowballs and a snow fort. He quit making his own snowballs and started just catching mine and throwing them back at me.  He stole my sled for an extended ride to a fellow workers house, just down the block.
When spring rolled around, we all ate popsicles and watched cartoons on Saturdays.  My mom made him an Easter basket that I put on his doorstep---ring and run.  
I didn't know too much about his job, really.  I just knew he had to go to Florida to work that spring.  He promised to write me if I washed his new 280 zx while he was gone.  I promised.  He gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek before he and Jamie left for Florida.  I was worried I'd never see him again because our house was for sale and so was his.   

He kept his promise to write me and I kept my promise to keep that car clean.  

When he got home from Florida, he was really too busy for cartoons and popsicles. We were in the midst of packing anyway.  I began to worry about making friends in a new school and didn't give him much thought.  
Before we moved, he said if I'd come see him at work, that he'd always come talk to me.  My parents promised we would.

He kept that promise too.  Everytime I'd go to the baseball game, I'd sneak over from general admission to the backside of the dugout and call for him during warmups.  He always came to visit with me.  I felt like a princess when he'd come jogging over and nearly everyone around me that was clamoring for an autograph. Sometimes he couldn't break away from warming up and would simply do a sort of sign language for me. He'd point at himself, then make a giant heart with both hands and then point at me.   

I grew up and quit going to baseball games for many years.  At 16, I needed a job.  I went to see if I could get a job as an usher for the Kansas City Royals.  After all, I 'knew' someone and it was a cushy job.  I got it.  I worked there for several years and never attempted to catch his eye behind the dugout again.  I did, however, end up in the same elevator as him once.  We chatted a few minutes and it was over.  He remembered me, and that was all that mattered.  

Fast forward to this year.  I have recently joined Facebook and was contacted by my very best friend in elementary school.  It is fabulous to be back in touch with her.  She shared with me, a story of seeing my old snowball and cartoon buddy at a fundraiser 10 years ago.  She approached him, reintroduced herself (she would come to baseball games with me and visit with him), and wondered my name aloud to him.  She tells me he broke into a wide grin and said he remembered me.  As of 10 years ago, George Brett remembered the little girl that thought he hung the moon.  

He was never famous to me.  Just the guy next door that was really nice to me, and continued to be that way, even when other people were wanting his attention.  I wonder if he'd remember me today?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grace in Small Things, #10

Bewick's Wren

Grace in Small Things, #10
1. My favorite bird, enjoying some breakfast.
2. Hearing from old friends via Facebook.
3. Dinner and dessert, alone with Lee.
4. Kleenex with Lotion.
5. Finally getting news that the big grocery store we've been hearing about is going to break ground in April--halleluia.