Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When You Ask a Question, Be Prepared for the Answer

By now, most moms have asked the annual question---"What do you want to be for Halloween this year?" What most of them really mean is---"Let's head down to Party City to see what you want to be for Halloween."

I always, always forget that second one. The first one pops out of my mouth before I know what's happened.
Below, you see the answer to the first question.

"What do you want to be for Halloween this year, James?"

"A Six-Armed Man. You know the kind where I move my arms and the other arms move too?"

(me, backpeddling!!) "Oh, did you see that on the internet somewhere? Maybe on the Party City website?"

"No, I figured you could make it."

"Let's look and see if there's something like it on the Party City website."

Of course there wasn't.
The trouble is, I can't sew a button on a shirt. Let alone make a costume. I knew we'd need 3 old shirts. I knew I'd need to affix the extra arms to the shirt somehow. As of Sunday, I was feeling very much like this was not possible.
Today, my creative juices kicked in and I found a way to jury rig the entire thing. Story of my life. There is not, however, any duct tape or zip ties involved.

I simply the tops and bottoms off the 2 extra shirts, cut two holes on either side of the plaid shirt, and wove the 'arms' through the holes.
Then I hand stitched them in place. I may or may not cut off the extra t-shirt stuff from inside the plaid shirt.
All that's left is to stuff the extra sleeves with tissue paper, blow up some latex gloves to attach them to the ends, run a string through each side and voila'--6 armed man!
Oh, I guess James will have to provide the top two arms and the 'man' to this costume.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One of the Coolest Girls I Know

I think I've posted this picture of Pearl before. It was taken on our trip to Washington, DC.
It truly captures her silly side. She has her quiet times, just like any of us, but she's a hoot when she's feeling silly. What's great, is that even though she's 15 now, she's not afraid to be who she really is. That, in turn, allows her friends to be honest about who they are as well.
The other day, she posted on Facebook that she had a Spongebob Squarepants song stuck in her head all through her Geometry class. It turns out there is no age limit to loving Spongebob. All her friends chimed in that they 'love that song' or 'Spongebob rocks' or 'I like this other song better'.
I let her know that such knowledge is useful, as most colleges are now requiring "the words to two Spongebob songs" on their applications. It's too bad her darned old big brother has me thinking about college applications night and day. :)

She's also a budding photographer. I think many teens are these days. Digital photography makes it easy to enjoy. She has dozens of self portraits making all sorts of faces. Most of them silly.
Here's she's captured one of the last cicadas of the season. We had a hatch of them and it seemed like they were everywhere. Every time I'd get near one with a camera, it would fly away.

I looked at this picture for a long time, wondering what it was she was trying to capture. I finally decided it was a pic of her shoes. Her beloved Converse. She has several pairs of shoes, but these are the favorites. She found out recently that her little brother had worn them because, "You never wear this pair anymore." Maybe this picture was proof that, yes she does!

She recently spent a week at home, sick. By week's end, she was distraught. She missed her friends and was sick to death of hanging out and watching stupid television or messing around on the computer. While I'll hate to see this kiddo go, I have a feeling that college will be far, far away. She's okay with being away and that makes me feel like a million dollars. She's willing to discover what else there is in this world besides Austin, Texas. I hope she picks someplace cool, so I can go visit!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gary Cooper vs. Mickey Mouse

Okay, not really Gary Cooper or Mickey Mouse. It's Cooper Hawk vs. Field Mouse. I just couldn't think of anything creative for a title.

Lee told me, as he was grabbing a camera, that there was a hawk wandering around by the pool. I thought he must be loosing his mind. Hawks in our part of the world have no interest in water dwelling creatures.

Besides, we have no water dwelling creatures in our pool. Occasionally, we'll find an errant frog, but that's about it. I was sure Lee was mistaken and that it must be a heron of some sort.

It was most definitely a hawk.
But what kind? I didn't figure that out until a couple days later.
Be sure to click on the picture above to get the full effect of his talons.

("Do they have sharp talons?"--quick, name that movie quote!)

I digress.

The talons look sharp enough to make short work of anything small and fuzzy.

Shoot! He sees us. He's going to fly off.
Boy, did he fly off---right at the kitchen window where we were standing as still as statues!
We scattered, afraid he was going to slam into the window. He'd already done it once during the week in hot pursuit of a pesky English House Sparrow.

Here's where you'll really have to 'click to enlarge'. He is on the ground near the fence post in the middle of the picture. We couldn't imagine what he was after. Any small birds in the area had flown the coop long before we started taking pictures.

One last picture. You can't see what he has, but we could. A mouse!
A moment later, he took to the air and found a nice private tree to enjoy his lunch.

Was all that walking around the pool, a ruse to get to the mouse? When we thought he was looking at us, he must have seen/heard the mouse in the flowers.

Either way, it's obvious it doesn't take much to entertain us. :)

The down side to this encounter----our local song birds have decided to eat elsewhere. The House Sparrows are still around. I wish Gary Cooper would thin them out. He's invited to breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'll light candles and have cloth napkins if that's what it takes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our Newest Pet

Well, not really a pet. In fact, this beautiful snail will be headed to "freezer camp" if I have anything to say about it.
I found it by the pool this morning.

This is a Common Garden Snail or Helix Aspersa. I find them to be anything but 'common'. While quite outgoing (they'll wander around on you without being afraid), they will defoliate a plant in no time flat. Considering, they can reproduce asexually if needed, this becomes a definite problem. One snail lays 80 eggs at a time. That one snail lays eggs, 6 times a year.
Doing a little math--that means one snail can produce 480 baby snails a year. They become 'mature' in two years.
After the two years, those 480 babies lay 80 eggs apiece, 6 times a year.

230,400 snails!

I could do some more math involving the first snail and it's continued egg laying while the first batches mature, but I won't. I haven't had nearly enough coffee to do such things. Just be assured that the number above, is technically larger.
Maybe I'll ask Lee to do the math. The number won't be pretty.

My dear neighbors have fought these snails for years. Major poisons have been put out or they'd loose their landscaping. I'm not quite there yet. What poisons one thing, most often poisons other things. Things like my friendly toad from my previous post.

I also have thousands of Decollate snails. They are the cannibals of the snail world. Between them, the toads, the opossums and raccoons, I think we might keep the Common Garden snail at bay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

May I Help You?

This little girl is a Gulf Coast Toad. She's almost as big as my palm. She is an eating machine. She spends all night gobbling up crickets, snails, earwigs, beetles and other bothersome insects.

Unfortunately, she and her fellow toads, have to run a gauntlet every night. My idiot dog, Smokie, has decided that they deserve to be harassed.
These toads, secrete a milky substance from their backs that causes extreme salivation/foaming from any predator that is silly enough to pick them up.

Enter, Smokie.

Unfortunately, instead of learning her lesson, she has taken it dog-onally (is that a word?--personally?). Because her first encounter caused her 30 minutes of thick, sticky, salivating, she now has it out for all of them. What she fails to realize, is that they will win every time. She can never hold one in her mouth long enough to kill it. That doesn't keep her from trying.

The vet tells me certain dogs do the same thing with skunks and porcupines. There can be two or more dogs in a household, but it's always the same dog from the bunch that keeps getting in trouble. In our house, Mandy couldn't give two hoots about the toads. She might follow one around for a bit, but she doesn't pick them up. Smokie just can't get over that little bully living in her backyard and is bent on killing it.
She's 'book-smart' but just has no common sense.

Toad 58, Smokie-0

Friday, October 16, 2009

If You're a "Dog Person"

Thanks to my brother-in-law, JD, for sending this video to me. He knows how I feel about dogs.

Thanks to Wendy Francisco for writing it. She knows how I feel too.
I suspect if you are a 'dog person', you might feel the same way, too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Best Birthday. Ever.

My birthday was the first week in October.
What made it the best birthday ever?
I believe it was the lack of drama that usually surrounds birthdays---"What do you want, where do you want to eat, we can't eat then because so-and-so it busy then, does it fit, what sort of cake do you want, etc."

What made it work this year, was that it was a bit of a secret. It sort of snuck up on us. James was leaving for a school sponsored 3-day camping trip on the morning of my birthday. We all just decided to celebrate it during the weekend instead. We really wanted to focus on giving James a good farewell so he wouldn't feel like he might be missing something.

My birthday dawned, and we got James off to camp. I figured that was that, until Saturday. Nope.
I got a "fly over" sort of birthday.
I got hugs and kisses and a book from Lee (Lost Symbol--still reading it---good so far). I got a big love from Pearl with the promise of a gift by Saturday. Tom surprised me with one of those musical cards that played "Chicken Dance" and some chocolates. My wonderful in-laws taped a card with a gift certificate in it to the front door. Lee and I missed them when he took me to lunch.
And that was that. I loved it! Not one hassle! I basked in the easiness of it all.

The next day, my girlfriend, DD, took me to lunch at our new favorite restaurant in town.

Saturday, we drove just 9 miles to one of my favorite pizza places. My sister, Jean (who gifted me earlier in the week) and my in-laws joined us. Nothing fancy--just the way I like it!
We came back home to enjoy a homemade cheesecake, courtesy of my amazing MIL. She volunteered the cake--I didn't even have to choose it.

The little chicken family you see in the picture is from Pearl. She made the hen last year. The hen got chick and rooster to join her this year. She got a new paint job, too. It's so cool to have an artist in the family. She must get it from Jean. Lee and I can't even draw stick people.

So, it seems that the perfect birthday for me is one that doesn't require much of anything. Just a day of acknowledgement, hugs, kisses and thoughtfulness. Diamonds and fancy dinners are not required. In fact, they're frowned upon.

Thank you to everyone who made this year, the best birthday--ever.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Public Service Announcement

Warning--spiders and snakes will be pictured and discussed today.

When you see a spider's web that looks very similar to cob webs in the movies, it's time to look for a black spider that's as polished as patent leather. She'll have a belly as round as a marble and a perfect red, hourglass shape on that belly.
I really am a live-and-let live sort of girl, but I had to kill this pretty girl. Several summers ago, an egg sac from a black widow managed to hatch in our garage. I killed 15 pretty large spiders by summers end.

We have several creepy/crawlies in Texas that can inflict painful or deadly wounds. They would be scorpions, snakes, spiders, and centipedes for the uninitiated. I really pride myself on not being too terribly creeped out my any of them.

I have been known to simply move snakes when they end up where they don't belong. I can be found picking up the more harmless ones with my bare hands and bringing them in the house to show the kids. Snakes serve a vital purpose around here--keeping the numbers of mice and rats in check. I like mice and rats as much as the next girl, but don't need so many that I need to call St. Patrick for help. All snakes are welcome. In nine years on our property, I have only killed one snake--a coral snake. I love snakes, but I don't need the ones that can send us to the ER, breeding.

Scorpions and Red Headed Centipedes serve no earthy purpose that I can see. At least not a job that some other insect can take care of. They tend to crawl into warm, damp places. Shoes, sleeping bags, shower stalls, and any clothing left on the floor. Here in Texas, we have just learned to shake everything out before putting it on or using it. It is second nature. An afterthought. All scorpions and centipedes get squashed whether we find them inside or outside. Just the way it is.

Now, back to spiders. Goodness they're useful. They're also incredibly cool. They eat so many flies, mosquitoes, and other bothersome insects. They build amazing webs and come in so many shapes and size. We have a very large spider in Texas. The tarantula. The ones we see are usually on the hunt for a mate in late spring. They have no interest in humans, whatsoever. They won't crawl into your sleeping bag on a camping trip. We do, however, have two spiders that have to be killed on sight. Black Widows and Brown Recluse. A bite from one of them will get you a trip to the ER. The ER tends to be expensive, but that's another topic. The point is, there are plenty of other spiders on the planet and in my yard that can help keep the insect population in check.

So, in summary:
----If it can send you to the ER, it has to be killed.
----If it crawls into your sleeping bag or hangs out in your shower AND stings, it has to be killed.

Otherwise, it's live-and-let-live.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A New Holiday

From this day forward, I declare October 4th to be:
Sisters Day!

It may include all women in your life that are blood sisters, or women that you consider a sister--a BFF (best friend forever). As my own sister, Jean says, "A friend is someone who will help you move. A best friend is someone who will help you move the body." Morbid and silly, I know, but those of you with sisters such as I've described will know what I'm talking about.

Don't you just love my Giada DeLaurentis smile? I don't normally smile like that, but Jean and I were caught in the middle of a private sister moment and were yucking it up about something.

Jean's invention of Sister Day came on the perfect day. I'd had a long week and it was shaping up to end badly. In she walked with goat cheese, slices of pear and apple and two kinds of amazing crackers. She'd also brought along a copy of Southern Living magazine because she thought the cover just looked like me and something I'd make--pumpkin cake that looked like pumpkins. She knows me so well.
Her intervention lightened my mood and enabled me to work out the thing that was going to make the week end badly.

So to wrap up:

* Sisters Day is henceforth on October 4th.

* It must include women that you consider sisters, blood or otherwise.

* It must include yummy food and mood-lightening conversation.

* It may or may not include magazines that your sister might not buy for herself because she just doesn't do nice things like that for herself.

* You may or may not share the yummy food with others that might be nearby, like children and husbands. It's up to you.

* Hugs and kisses are a must. Both are preferable.
*You may have more than one "sister", but not so many as to make this holiday like many others---stressful.

* If you happen to have a blood sister, that isn't a real 'sister', then just let October 4th slide right on by. Life is too short to make more family drama.

* If Hallmark catches wind of this, let it be known that Jean is the author of this holiday and therefore gets 98% of all card and silly tiny book sales.

*If you just so happen to be 'sick' on Sisters Day and need to recuperate with your sister over lunch and a movie, then so be it.

* If you happen to be 'sick' for a long weekend and need to recuperate with a bunch of sisters on a trip, then so be it.

Thank you Jean! I so look forward to next year. I'll bring the goodies!
Love, CeeCee

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Year Smarter

The one in the middle, blowing out the candles is one year smarter.
Pearl's birthday was way back on September 18th, but my computer was in the shop and so I had to wait. She's now 15. I can remember when she was 15 minutes old. She was all wrapped up in a blanket, tucked in her daddy's arms, receiving her name. We had two names picked out and decided to wait until we met her to finalize the name. Lee decided that one name fit her much better than the other. "A Pearl is something small and precious."

Here we are, 15 years later, and she's not so small anymore. In fact, she's taller than me and showing no signs of slowing. She is, however, still precious. She's sweet, caring, smart, funny and pretty. What's not to love? She has her spicy side, but is quick to apologize if she's having a 'teenage drama moment'.

She picks great friends, too. Every kid at her party was polite and thoughtful. The boy to left in the picture is the son of one of my best friends, DD. Pearl and he have been buddies since 2nd grade. He was nice enough to offer to help clean up! One of the things we did was have a small bonfire and make s'mores. Afterwards I found the towels that I'd laid out for the kids, all shook out and folded in the driveway. I assumed that Pearl had done it, 'cause that's something she'd do---nope, it was DD's son that had done it.

I wasn't sure what 13 teenagers would do for 4 hours, so I rented a bounce-house. Pearl was worried that her friends would think it was dorky, but every single one of them got in it. So did James and his buddy, Nate. So, did Tom and his girlfriend, Kay. So did I. I don't know if Lee got in it or not. One thing we all noticed---you don't bounce as high as you used to when you were little.

Mostly, the kids just hung out. Walked the property, spent some time on the swings, talked and ate and bounced. I think everyone had a fine time.

The one thing that I notice more and more as she grows, is that besides loving her, I really like her. She's a great person that I'm proud to know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I've Just Been Busy

I used to blog almost every day. These days, I can't manage it. Besides, my computer needed a little TLC that I just couldn't give him. We were apart for nearly 2 weeks.

*Pearl had a birthday. A fun one!

*My big sis is back in town. She created a new holiday!

*I found something that might get rid of the root knot nematode problem in my garden and so planted a few things to see if it will work.

*It rained. Then it rained again. Then it rained some more.

*Soccer, and more soccer, and some soccer after that.

*Fall arrived. It might stay.

*I might or might not be having a birthday soon. Another year wiser.

This picture is just a teaser of stories I haven't told yet. I'll get to them. I'm just busy living life. Right now I have to vacuum the endless piles of dog hair and spider webs. My next dog will be a Mexican Hairless.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Peaches and Herb

Cue the music
Reunited, and it feels so good 
Reunited, 'cause we understood 
There's one perfect fit 
And, sugar, this one is it 
We both are so excited 
'Cause we're reunited 
Hey, hey.

Don't you just love how 70's disco music fits just about every special moment in your life?
My moment came on Tuesday.  I was reunited with my beloved Mac.  We were apart for more than a week.  He must have had some tough sessions with the Apple therapy group, as I heard nothing about him the entire time.  I chose not to call and check up on his progress, for fear it would bring bad news.  No news is good news, right?
What made our reunion so much more the sweet was the bill from the Apple therapy people.  Can you see it?  Click on it.  You will see that Apple can be an astounding company to seek therapy from.  I asked Dr. Genius at Apple's Genius Bar, why my bill read $0.00.  He just shrugged his shoulders.  He was far too humble to tell me the real reasons.  He simply said, "Because we kept you apart for so long."

Mac is practically brand new.  He received a transplant of nearly every internal part after he finally opened up to them and shared his problems.

Therapy can be a wonderful thing.  Therapy for free can be a miracle.  I do love Mac and now I love Apple even more.  I will sing Apple's praises to all who will listen.  
Amen and The End.