Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thank you, Santa!

Maybe you do exist. I didn't get everything on my list, but we did get to sleep in, I got to bathe in peace, and the Spawn actually ate some breakfast. I'll take what I can get.

It was otherwise a Christmas laid-back in the extreme. I, at least, didn't talk it up all that much, except to explain the whole "present" thing and to make Christmas stockings for myself and the Spawn. She got a new doll, which she'd actually asked for, a game which I hope won't break until she tires of it, and a bunch of little bits and bobs I found at a thrift store in her stocking. Those latter were the hit of the show, of course. And I made a warm, if not terribly stylish, hat for the Better Half. Unfortunately, he was too sick to appreciate anything except sleep. Coal in his stocking would have been preferable, Santa.

The Spawn and I went to dinner at a friend's house and a good time was had by all. She had great fun playing with all the cool toys there. Other kids' toys are always more fun, aren't they? Anyhow, it was nice to be sociable for a change, even if it wasn't all three of us.

Here's hoping I don't get that cold or whatever as my belated Christmas gift....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dear Santa

I've been good this year. Not saintly, mind you, but good. My parenting hasn't messed up the Spawn too badly, I think. I've been kind to animals and little old ladies. I've been kind to my Better Half too, and he certainly deserves it. So this is my Christmas wish list.

On Christmas, I want to sleep until I wake up. I want to perform my morning ablutions in peace and with the door shut, just for fun. I want to walk to the kitchen without having to dodge random toys (which weren't there the night before!), articles of clothing, or piles of cat vomit. I want to cook a nice breakfast and have everyone eat it, not just me. There's more, but I'll stop there.

If you can manage all this, you might throw in cheap cold fusion too.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The new game!

The Spawn has a new game. She hands one of us a puppet and says, "Wear this sad (or mad) mousie." Obviously, the character changes, as we have way more than just mouse puppets.

Then we're supposed to say, "I so, so sad!"

This is the Spawn's cue to say, "What are you sad about? What are you sad about?" She always says it twice too.

Then we have to come up with something for the puppet to be sad about. She questions the circumstances until she's satisfied. Yesterday a rabbit finger puppet was sad because of having lost a piece to a puzzle. The Spawn wanted to know which puzzle and which piece. Then she wanted to put it together to make sure the piece wasn't missing any more.

The final step is for her to say, "You can be sad about something else now."

Repeat this for a very, very long time, cycling through sad and mad until you're tempted to start having the puppets be sad because of the meaninglessness of human existence or something equally non-concrete.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Speaking of seasons

Today and, if the weather forecast is to be believed, tomorrow we're having the last gasp of autumn. Yesterday afternoon it began to clear. Last night we had a real freeze, thanks to that. But today, oh my! It was clear, clear, clear all day long. It wasn't warm, but it was still beautiful out. The sky looked like it would have shattered into a million tiny shards of blue if I'd touched it. You could see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens from top to bottom, with those tops and bottoms being well blanketed with snow already. On Friday, we have a chance of snow down here too. Thus the last gasp statement.

All I want for Christmas...

is a big banner that says, "Axial tilt is the reason for the season." I saw three banners attributing the season--fall turning into winter--to a certain religious figure. The holiday may, perhaps, be attributed to said religious figure but the season? I think not. Maybe to Big Daddy, if you're that way inclined.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A good example of runaway costs

There is a nifty little device you can wear on your teeth at night called the NTI tension suppression system. It's not a standard night guard, which is designed rather like one you'd wear for sparring--covers all your (usually) upper teeth. That kind is meant to redistribute the pressure generated by nighttime biting or clenching. The NTI thingie just fits over your incisors and supposedly positions your jaw so as to actually prevent clenching or grinding. It's been FDA approved as a treatment for tension migraines, for what that's worth. Anyhow, it's a little, dinky piece of plastic. According to an interview with the Chicago Dental Society this costs the dentist between $20 and $110, depending on whether or not they send it in to a lab to be custom fitted. Well, I rang the three dentists in Vancouver who provide this little piece of plastic. One quoted me a price of $800. One quoted me a price of $821. The third, with whom I have an appointment on Thursday quoted a price of $250. I surely do hope this is not because he's some awful, dodgy dentist. But it seems to me that a greater than 700 percent markup is...unethical. Those first two dentists also quoted prices in excess of $500 for standard night guards, which can be purchased online for closer to $150 and come with a money back guarantee. Catch a dentist offering a money back guarantee.

Friday, November 27, 2009


do recipe instructions end with "serve"? Do they really think you're just going to put your results on a pedestal for all to admire or something? Just wondering.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not-terribly-original thoughts about the holidays

So today was Thanksgiving, when it is mandated that we play happy families and be thankful for everything. While I do love my family, there are times when it's easier to love everyone in small doses. I recall really disliking big family dinners where I got quizzed about minute details of my life and got relegated to the kids' table because I wasn't married (and I was thankful for Grandmother who may have sensed my disgruntlement and sat at the kids' table too because she wasn't married either). Yet, I miss my family. I wish they lived closer or could visit more frequently. I wish we could travel more ourselves. I wish we could drive each other just a bit battier so we'd be happy for time apart.

We had a lovely, relaxing day doing nothing much in particular. We had a nice Thanksgiving lunch, thanks to several local farmers and our own efforts. I didn't get a headache or a stomach ache. But the Spawn is never going to have the connection with her grandparents that I had and have with mine. She is never going to have aunts and uncles and cousins around except in the most fleeting way. And holidays like this bring that home.

I have my health, for the most part. I have a most excellent spouse. I have a wonderful, if at times exasperating child. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back (and front and legs, etc.), and good food to eat. For all this I am truly thankful. But virtual family isn't the same.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today's profound thought....

Due to lack of sufficient sleep--for several days, not just today--the Spawn had one of THOSE days. This has led me to a greater understanding of some of the things in my childhood that had previously been obscure. And once again I marvel that the human race has managed to propagate itself so successfully. Here's hoping for a rising time that's after 5am tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vive la différence!

So maybe stating the obvious, but having only one offspring and that of the female persuasion, I don't have opportunities to observe the differences in male-spawn versus female-spawn play. Yesterday we went to the indoor play park at a local church--still working on the whole jacket issue for outdoor play--and I had a chance to do some first-rate sociology fieldwork.

Cars, roads, and road signs were the articles of play. The Spawn, who was amongst the earlier arrivals at the place, wanted to get out the just mentioned items to play with them. We set up the roads together. Then she put road signs at frequent intervals along the road, after asking what the unfamiliar ones meant. Next she carefully selected two cars and proceeded to drive them along the road. They stopped to comment and exclaim over each of the signs. They encountered one another and had long conversations. They expressed woe over a stop sign.

Along came two boys, rather smaller than the Spawn, but probably a little older. They each grabbed a couple of cars and proceeded to zoom them down the road with all the sound effects. They zoomed and vroomed. They screeched and crashed. That last sound effect was literal crashing, by the way, in addition to vocal crashing. The Spawn was rather nonplussed and soon decided to move on to the wagon full of plastic animals--who spent a lot of time discussing who ate meat and who at leaves and "feed".

I guess there really IS a difference...though I refuse to speculate on the amount that can be attributed to nature versus nurture.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will the excitement never end?

I went down to the train station this afternoon with the Spawn. She got to watch the large crane swinging crushed cars around. I got to buy tickets for our trip to Seattle next weekend. Hooray! I'm looking forward to this absurdly much. We'll primarily be doing stuff to amuse the Spawn--aquarium and zoo, anyone--but the trip is actually a celebration for me. Who knows, maybe we'll stop in at the Science Fiction Museum for me. Pending the finance audit, I'm set to graduate this month! I've been working on this degree for...well, let's just say it's old enough to drink in any state in the US. I started off with a degree in music performance. I'm graduating with a degree in Asian studies. That means I'll have a nice, expensive piece of paper that means damnall except that I'm tenacious. Cause enough for celebration, I think!

Look Ma, no shoes!

The Spawn often gets asked, "Where are your shoes?" Fact is, she doesn't like wearing shoes and mostly doesn't. I've yet to hear a good reason to wear shoes to the library, for instance. Anyhow, I just found a fun website about this very thing! It's called Parents for Barefoot Children. Sometimes the internet amazes me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mystery solved!

Ah, yet another joy of living with a toddler--the drama of not being able to find THE toy of the moment. Of course, it helps if you know what that toy is. The Spawn went into full meltdown mode yesterday because we couldn't find "the other guy". Ah, right. The other guy. Not one of the Lego people, or the doll house people. Not one of the stuffed animals. "He's not soft, he's HARD!" Right again. Not a train. Not a small plastic animal. The other guy. This morning she found what she was looking for. It was a small figurine of a space alien acquired I know not where but before the birth of the Spawn. The alien guy = the other guy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Turkeys 1: Humans 0

I believe the fact that we have turkeys has come up now and again. They're tremendous pains in the rear, in fact. As chicks, they were cute and fluffy and very noisy. Things went downhill from there. When they were first introduced to the outside world, they were too chicken (pardon the pun) to keep the chickens from eating their food. That means the Better Half had to guard them while they ate.

Once they got larger, they figured out how hold their own on the food front. They also learned how to fly over the fence into our yard and, better yet, into the neighbor's yards. They discovered that they were large enough to bully the chickens, but only as a gang. The ringleader of that got butchered a while back. One on one, the chickens can still hold their own. Anyhow, it's about time to butcher the other five turkeys. It seems unlikely they'll be getting any bigger and they don't produce eggs that we've found.

Rather than attempting to chase down the turkeys and catch them for manual slaying, the Better Half attempted to shoot one of the hens with a pellet gun this morning. Four or five pellets to the head later, there were four frightened turkeys and one dazed but otherwise unharmed turkey staggering off to join her flockmates. It would appear turkeys have thick skulls, leaving even less room for brains inside those tiny, reptilian heads.

Next up is the construction of a leg catching device to enable hoisting them by the leg from a distance. They don't generally start running until you get within a meter or so of them, so such a device should be enough to enable the catch and stab method again. Such are the joys of homesteading, even urban homesteading. Which leads me to thinking about how different the attitudes toward animals we're imparting to the Spawn are from those of our peers. But that's another post, perhaps.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tenant Wanted

This birdhouse is wedged into one of the flowering dogwood trees in our back yard. I've never seen a bird using it, but it's mighty decorative.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book for Kids are Weird

Just an odd moment in reading Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries to the Spawn this evening. Am I the only one to wonder why they have glowing blue eyes? Are these actually science fiction books and no one told me?

Psychic Flash!

Yesterday was a truly and monumentally awful day. The fine feline of the household wakened the Spawn (and me) about two hours early and it all went downhill from there. We all survived relatively intact though, for which I thank Chthulu, or possibly Saint Jude. In the process, I arrived at one of those parenting decisions that probably wouldn't win me any points in the parenting awards game. We were stuck inside the whole day because the Spawn refused to put on pants to go outside. It's a wee bit chilly--about 10C. At the end of the day, it suddenly dawned on me that I was arguing with a toddler. This is a losing proposition. Even if you win the argument, you'll just have to go through the whole thing again...and again...and again. So, next time she wants to go outside with no pants, no problem. This is known as offering the opportunity to learn from experience. I guess I'm learning from experience too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Harvest

This weekend we pulled the rest of the stuff out of the community garden, since it's closing on the second. We may go back and do a little gleaning on the third, of course, but all of our official stuff is out of the ground and all over the house. Three boxes of potatoes are out in the garage where it's nice and cool and dim. There's a bloody huge bucket of carrots in the kitchen sink. They're soaking their dirt off. There's a big bag of beets on the counter awaiting roasting and freezing. They await because the Better Half discovered there's a reason you score chestnuts before roasting them. And finally, there's a remarkable lot of horseradish root in the fridge in the garage. Way more horseradish root than any family deserves. Even when it's been peeled and minced, it's going to be a lot. A large lot. Fresh horseradish anyone?

We definitely learned a few things this year. The previously mentioned need to thin carrots was one thing. Broccoli does really well for us and we shall be repeating that without a doubt. I'm even going to try fermenting some of the leaves as one does for sauerkraut. We like Erste Ernte (I may be misremembering the name here) spinach, but we do not like so-called New Zealand spinach. It's not really spinach at all and the texture does not make my tongue happy. The Spawn doesn't like it either. Next year we're going to do sauce tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Slicing tomatoes are wasted on us, for the most part. We will try and grow more lettuce, space permitting. We like our salads in mixing bowls and that uses up a lot of lettuce and spinach. We will NOT plant a row and a half of string beans. Half a row of beans sans strings will do just fine. If all goes as planned, we will devote one entire plot at the community garden to potatoes. We are definite potato snobs now. German Butterballs, yellow fingerlings, and Yukon Gold, in that order of preference. We'll see which store the best.

Now if only the winter garden does its thing. Stuff got planted a bit late for that, but it's slowly taking off to some extent. This too will be a learning experience. One thing we'll have to learn is how to get into the blasted garden when the ground is wet, as it will be for the next six months or so. The soil is heavy on the clay and the worry is that it will get compacted and be worthless. Of course, plants that can't be harvested are worthless too, so a compromise will have to be reached. The current thought is straw plus planks to keep the soil a bit more dry between the rows and to distribute the weight along the whole row. We shall see. Soon. There's thinning that needs to be done!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We've had rain and fog this morning. Now, as the Spawn sits at the table eating plain yogurt (no accounting for tastes), there is a gusty wind blowing flurries of red and yellow leaves onto the ground. The effect is rather like snow, only much more colourful. I do like autumn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The new drawing

When I asked her what it was, she said, "A blob."
"A blob with teeth, it looks like." I said.
She said, "It's a bitey blob."
I asked what it was biting.
She said, "It's biting a stream."
I asked why it was biting a stream.
She said, "Because it's thirsty."
I asked what the stream tasted like.
She said, "It tastes like lemon and seltzer water."
I said that sounded good. Then I asked why the blob was thirsty.
She said, "It was eating watermelon and it has seeds and it spits them out."
So there you have the story of the latest artwork by the Spawn.

Missed opportunities

The Spawn woke me, far too early, this morning with the statement, "He peed purple." I was not awake enough to respond initially, so she repeated herself and said again, "He peed purple." So it wasn't just my imagination. Unfortunately, I was still too groggy to say anything other than, "He did?" That satisfied her and she moved on to other topics. Now I shall never know WHO peed purple.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Kid

Our kid is the one with grubby clothes, whether from mud or flour or paint. It doesn't matter how many times I change her clothes, they become grubby almost instantaneously. In the twenty seconds it takes to get from her room to the front door and thence to the car, she can find a hidden stash of her flour to spread all over herself.

Our kid, in fact, is the one whose clothes ALL have stains. There is no "Sunday best" in her wardrobe. I have given up on trying to get the stains all out. We just wash 'em and weep.

Our kid is the one whose face is always grubby too. Face washing involves high speed pursuit, so even if I think I've gotten all the blueberry, there's always some somewhere. And, of course, she has a stash of snacks in the armrest of her car seat, so even a clean face is grubby by the time we get anywhere.

Our kid hates to have her hair messed with. It gets washed once a week and brushed as best I can once a day. Forget such niceties as hair clips. They stay in for five minutes at most and then they're removed by force. Ponytails, when her hair was long enough, invoked lots of screaming.

Our kid never willingly leaves a park. She's the one who weeps and wails when, after two and a half hours, I tell her it's time to go home. The library we can only leave without similar drama by promising to read EVERY SINGLE new book as soon as we get home. I guess there are worse bribes.

And to the parents of all the tidy, well groomed, compliant toddlers out there...phhhlllbbbttt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best apple butter ever!

One of my vices is apple butter (I know, not much of a vice, is it?). It's always seemed a bit silly to add sugar to apple butter though, since apples are plenty sweet without. I found this recipe and tried it, with a couple of modifications. It's WONDERFUL! I used five spice for all the spices, since I have some very good five spice. I didn't peel the apples, just hoicked the whole mess in the blender after it'd cooked down. And for the cooking it all went in the slow cooker overnight. The result is tangy, apple-y, and will be wonderful on the bread I'll bake in the morning.

That's another vice--baking bread. If you're like me and go for a nice whole grain bread, this is a good recipe, if you have a food processor. Or if you're like the Better Half and prefer something a bit more like an "artisan" bread, this is pretty good. I still haven't found anything that gets the same chewy texture and large air pockets as the stuff we buy at New Seasons though. I feel sure it must be possible, but you may need a secret handshake to do it. Now to go start my grain soaking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My, oh my, oh bedtime.

This is getting written out because I know it will be funny once I get over being exasperated....

Bedtime tonight was probably more athletic than it's ever been before. The Spawn didn't get her wind-down reading time this evening. She went straight from playing trains with Daddy to "I'm ready for bed." And if a toddler says they're ready for bed, you don't argue. Well, she and I did our little routine. That takes about ten minutes. Then it's time to lie on the bed and sleep. Hah!

She played ring-around-the-rosie on the bed for at least fifteen minutes. She recited several books to herself. She piled up all the pillows to make a nest on the bed. She lay on the pile and gently thumped the wall with her feet for a bit. She played ring-around-the-rosie again. She lay down once again and recited a little more. Finally, she went to sleep. Forty-five minutes this lasted.

Tomorrow night she's getting her evening stories!

The unknown grocery store....

Since we moved to the sunny Northwest, we've been eating much differently than we ever did before. We weren't unhealthy eaters or anything, but everything came from Trader Joe's or Sunflower Market or Safeway. Since the move though, we've become "localvores" without any real planning on our part. It just seems to be a) cheaper and b) so much tastier than the alternatives.

We got a deep freeze (two now) and buy chickens from a local farmer, beef comes as a quarter cow again from a local person, and there's a whole pig coming at the end of the month. The pig is probably traveling the furthest; it's a good hour drive to that farm. We've been gardening to the best of our ability. We get things at the farmer's markets. We bought a very large quantity of outstandingly yummy organic peaches from one local orchard. And so on. Bulk stuff gets ordered online from a natural foods warehouse based in Dufur, Oregon, which is all of two hours away.

The result of all this is very few grocery store purchases. There will always be some--we seem to keep running out of green onions, for instance--but never terribly much at one time. The last time the Spawn and I were in Fred Meyer, I looked at the pre-roasted chickens for sale and suddenly realized I hadn't the foggiest notion if they were on sale because I didn't know what they cost normally. There are a lot of things in the store like that. Aside from produce and non-perishables, the store is terra incognita.

It was a very strange feeling. I have to wonder if the Spawn is going to be totally spoiled in the way of food, since everything we get is so much higher quality than grocery store fare (and cheaper too, in general). Of course, she might go the other direction and turn into a McDonald's junkie as soon as she's old enough to have the chance. I do know she's not going to be one of those kids who thinks food comes in packets from the store.

Taking more photos!

I'm trying to take more photos because it's fun and we could all use a bit more fun, no?

Someone seems to have had a flossing incident in the parking lots of Globe Lighting.

I picked these up on my walk Monday. Seemed like a nice progression of autumn colours. Unfortunately the Spawn scattered the leaves so I didn't get to try them without the flash.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maple Leaf Shadow

Maple Leaf Shadow, originally uploaded by Sue_Solberg.

This month's "assignment" for our photo club is contrast. I was just playing around with my cell phone camera and find that it takes not terribly awful photos if you don't ask to much of it. It's sure not going to replace the Nikon, but it fits in my pocket more easily.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Childhood memories

The goats are gone, as of Tuesday. We are not, alas, going to eat them after all. Someone offered us filthy lucre and Chris, who would have had to do most of the work, accepted the offer with joy. The nice thing about having them gone is that it's much easier to walk around in our little patch of woods. It wasn't much fun having Little Goat always tasting my clothes and trying to butt the Spawn to the ground.

One of the things that was uncovered by their work of eating the thrice-blasted blackberry was a nice tree trunk. Well, two actually, both old enough to have the bark mostly gone, but not old enough to have started to completely dissolve into the ground. Watching the Spawn encounter those has been fun. She's starting to think maybe climbing around on them could be fun now that getting knocked off isn't such a strong possibility.

I am reminded of the large tree trunk I loved when I was a kid, somewhat older than the Spawn is now. It was a larger one, but then, I was larger too. That tree was a ship and a castle and a mountain. It was a marvelous place to hide out and to watch the world go by. Last time I visited the paternal parental unit, I saw that trunk again and was amazed at how small it was. In my memory it will always be almost as tall as me and completely wonderful. I hope the Spawn has such a thing in her future.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's harvest time!

We went to the community garden today and harvested a LOT of potatoes. More better gardening through neglect, since we basically shoved 'em and the ground and left them until now. No hilling, no chicken tea, just occasional cheering from the sidelines. Next years maybe we'll do even better. We'll definitely grow more German butterball potatoes, since they're my favourites. I've become a potato snob.

We also uncovered another example of better gardening through neglect. Actually, I doubt better care would have helped this, but we might have uncovered it sooner. It would probably have been much less impressive a month ago.

We pulled more mutant carrots too, but that's been done, so I'll spare the photos. Now to go eat some of the broccoli we harvested....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where have all the flowers gone?

The Spawn has been very sad lately because the flowers are all gone. Of course, we've explained about seasons and all that good stuff. Given that she's two and a half though, I don't think she really understands the concept yet. We seem to have settled on something along the lines of "they're sleeping until spring".

Not all the flowers are sleeping. There's still some Queen Anne's Lace. Dandelions, of course, hang on till the bitter end. Even the roses are still doing their thing to some extent. But the leaves are turning and fluttering gently down. The rains have definitely started. And the spiders are mostly gone.

Yes, summer is spider season, autumn is leaf season, winter is rain, and spring is flowers. Not bad spiders, and I've been trying to keep the Spawn from getting a spider phobia (she's just gotten over the chicken one), but lots of them and webs EVERYWHERE you want to walk. How's that for digressing. Must be past my bedtime.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cheap toilet paper is a false economy.

This is the received wisdom and should be heeded by all. I hate using a public toilet and pulling something akin to tissue paper off the roll. It's better than the wax paper in British toilets, but not by much. It seems to me that if one type is perhaps one cent per square and another is two, but you have to use three times as much of the first...well, that math is pretty easy.

That's it for profound thoughts today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sometimes human nature is very, very sad.

So, we're looking at possible preschool-type experiences for the Spawn. Not that she's likely to go to school unless the public option improves or the private option becomes more affordable. That's a digression. One of the options I investigated on Friday was a parent-run preschool co-op that's just starting here in the 'Couv. It'd be local, unlike Footprint Farm down in Portland. It'd be parents so there wouldn't be a problem with me hanging around in the background. I'd have a voice in how things were done. Right.

I attended an organizational meeting at Cafe Sip 'n' Play 'n' I can't hear you it's too loud. When the meeting started, there were three other maternal units there. So far, so good. The one person who wasn't there was the only one in the group who's actually a friend rather than just another parent. Well, the topic of snacks came up and the missing friend had requested snacks without food colouring or processed sugar. Wow, you'd think she'd asked for food prepared under a blue moon by a full blooded Rani using only the toes of her left foot. Things went rapidly downhill from there, including which curriculum to use (it's an informal preschool, is a curriculum really needed?) and possible inclusion of Baby Einstein. Gah.

What really got me down though was the mob feeling with the food discussion. One lady started it and got the other two going so fast I never had a chance to mention that I happened to agree with the food requests. I think if it has just been the other two, things would have been fine. But three seems to be enough to create a herd. It left a really bad taste in my mouth.

You will be unsurprised to learn I decided against getting involved. Instead, my friend and I are trying to get our own group going. We are talking to people who have the same apparently terribly non-mainstream views on things like food and Baby Dumbstein. Somehow I never thought of myself as belonging to a subculture, but I guess I do.

Obviously the whole thing bothered me quite a bit or I wouldn't still be thinking about it. Am I just terribly sheltered? Is this what life is really like for most people? Backbiting and least-common-denominator led? I guess it's a good thing this happened since the Spawn is not a frog and doesn't need boiling at this tender age.

Back to chat and occasional irony next time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toddler Art, Part II

Here is yesterday's painting. The Russian influence is obvious, I think.

Oddly, this one doesn't have quite the same purplish cast as many of the others have had. Perhaps that's because it's layered even more thickly than usual. She doesn't starve her canvas, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toddler Art

So, the Spawn likes to paint. This involves putting EVERY single colour of paint she can find onto the paper and mixing them all together. The order of colours varies, but the end result is always the same. A streaky grayish-purplish-brownish mess. Today she painted this way on the same piece of paper for a good forty-five minutes. She seems to like it, but I feel she's been overly influenced by the Russian school of painting. It's too dark outside now to take a good picture of the most recent work, but I'll post one on the morrow.

Actually, she likes to paint more than just the paper. She also paints every available body surface, excepting neck and face (thank goodness). This is not the accidental straying of paint, mind you. This is deliberate spreading of the muck all over her exposed body surfaces. She likes to be "decorated". The only way I was able to wash her off from the most recent bout was by offering her a temporary tattoo to replace it with. The things we stoop to....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Better Gardening Through Neglect

That is what I shall title any gardening book I ever write. We are slowly improving on the taking care of the garden front, but it is slow.

Case in point. Here is a good example of why you should thin your carrots.

And here is what happens when ALL the volunteer tomatoes are not only allowed to grow, but to grow with virtually no support or confinement.

I have gotten rather blase about stepping on tomatoes. These will all be going to make space for a hopefully slightly less neglected winter garden. Perhaps I'll find a good recipe for green tomato salsa or chutney. Or perhaps recipes for both are in order as I suspect there are a lot of green tomatoes hiding in there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is road planning really that difficult?

This has been irking me for some time, but what the &@%# is the deal with having three lane roads abruptly turn into two lane roads for the space of a kilometer at most? Plenty of clear land on either side of the road too, so they can't use that excuse. I think Portland just doesn't like people who live in the 'Couv, so they try to make it as hairy as possible to get from here to there. Either that or there's a class on sadism included in every highway designer's curriculum.

Gluten free ain't all that fun....

So, for a week and a half I have managed to eat no gluten. Whoopee. I have once again determined that gluten free bread is NEVER a substitute for the real thing. Preferably hot out of the oven, possibly with some butter melted into the fresh slice. Gluten free pancakes, yes. Gluten free biscuits, yes. Even gluten free cookies can be okay, if not inspiring. But if it turns out that eliminating gluten actually improves my health, I'm going to be one very disappointed person.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm back! Hurrah!

No update last week because we were all off having fun. We went to the coast and wreaked havoc on all the sand we could reach. Well, I suppose it was mainly the Spawn that did that. She was terribly excited about getting to finally visit the ocean again. And sand, of course, is a toddler's best friend. This despite extremely changable weather. It was sunny, it was windy, it rained, it was sunny, it rained, stir and repeat for the whole of one four day weekend.

We explained the concept of towns and countries to her over the weekend. I have no idea how well she's grasped it, but she does know we live in Vancouver, we visited Seaside, and we stopped at the park in Longview. In fact, she's decided that all her pants are "Longview pants". This is opposed to short pants. When we're in the midst of a drama-fest with her, I remember that she now has a sense of humour and that surely has to count for something.

In other news, we have processed three cases of incredibly tasty peaches. One case is turning into peach wine with another waiting the same fate. Two cases were either eaten or frozen for later eating. There's something very surreal about a row of peeled peaches. They're so...shiny. They still have all their peach colour, but they lack that essential peachy fuzziness. The chickens have been happy to deal with all the peach skin though.

We're also in the process of processing six cases of tomatoes and most of a case of pickling cucumbers. The tomatoes are cooking down into sauce and will be canned in our shiny new pressure canner. After all, it didn't explode when we canned broth.... It will be interesting to see how many quarts of sauce we end up with. The cucumbers will be turned into dill pickles for the Better Half and the Spawn. Well, I expect I'll eat a few too, but I like my lime pickles better. Lucky me, I'm the only one in the house who does like them.

The turkeys have been a right royal headache lately. They have become escape artists. The Better Half clipped their wings again, which will hopefully put an end to all that for a bit. If it doesn't help, we shall be having our turkey dinner a bit early this year. The poor Better Half was trying to get all six of them back inside the fence earlier this week. They were running around and around the trees and the Spawn's climber. The Spawn thought it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen, but the Better Half was definitely avicidal.

We now have stuff planted in the winter garden, hurrah! Just lettuce and spinach so far, but other stuff will follow soon. We're going to do beets and kale too, at the very least. Possibly bok choi and cabbage (not my choice, but we can always pickle it) as well. It will be interesting to see if the tree trimming the Better Half did makes the garden space viable for a winter garden. It's pretty marginal for a summer one, unfortunately. Though we should get a few pumpkins and delicata squash before first frost.

My current class, Political Geography, is being several shades of unprintable. The textbooks didn't arrive until the first week was halfway over. The writing assignments were hidden in a new spot on the web site. There are now five places I know of where such things can be found. What's wrong with consistency? And the professor is in the process of changing textbooks, so half the documents for the class reflect the new book and half the old. It's just a tad confusing. And annoying. To say the least.

I feel sure there's something brilliant and insightful I'm neglecting to say or something terribly cute that the Spawn's done, but we're all a bit short on sleep today and there are an awful lot of tomatoes on the counter so....

Good night!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's full of sparkles!

Well, the Spawn has just discovered the joys of playing dress up. We had some stuff from a long ago yard sale that she unearthed. Yesterday she was wearing a BRIGHT lime green skirt (with green sequins around the waistband with her Elmer the Elephant shirt. Today it was an island girl sort of dress, floor length on her, with a pink velour, sparkly sleeved shirt. This is the perfect attire in which to investigate the properties of fine dust, no? How it feels between the toes, for instance, and running through the fingers.

So, being fond of dress up myself, we went to a thrift store to see if we could find a few other things for the dress up box. Everything was rejected except for a dress with lots of pink sequins and feathers around the hem and a rather odd garment composed of a sequined belt and a very long fringe. I guess the pink thing really is in the genes, 'cause it sure ain't in the environment!

Ah, and butterfly wings, how could I forget the butterfly wings. Those she decided to wear when she was being a streaker Spawn. She was the fastest butterfly in the west. With All Hallow's Eve coming up, perhaps we'll find some more fun stuff for her (and maybe something fun for me too!). I feel sure hers will have sparkles though.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Always Learning

One of the better aspects of having a toddler underfoot is the opportunity to learn new things. The Spawn is obsessed with the written word and constantly asks "What that says?" Well, one of the recent subjects of that inquiry was a page of pictures and names of butterflies and moths. Somehow I really LIKE the name "Achemon Sphinx Moth". It rolls off the tongue nicely.

Of course, you also have the opportunity to learn how little time it takes for said toddler to completely dismantle the living room. The answer, in this case, is about the same amount of time it takes to fill out the patient intake forms for a dentist. It takes a lot longer to reassemble a living room, let me tell you.

Now the Better Half is in the the partially reassembled living room reading to the Spawn. We've just started on sight words--"and" and "the" so far. That means she's got a fifty-fifty chance of guessing right. I do think she gets it right more than fifty percent of the time though. There speaks the fond maternal unit.

Enough rambling, it's almost bed time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Clark County Fair

So yesterday we went to the county fair. It's a much different experience with an opinionated toddler in tow than with a compliant infant. As a result, the first thing we did was go look at the ferris wheels. She wanted to show them to Tiny Duck and Dizzy Duck, the chosen companions for this expedition. Luckily neither she nor they wanted to ride on the thing, since none of them met the height requirement.

Despite offering such things as a juggler and a jazz band with a full head of hair between all five members (they were really quite good), it was determined that our next stop was the sharks. I know you're probably wondering what kind of county this is, right? It was rather along the lines of a roadside attraction. I don't know how much the fair paid to have the thing there, but it was somewhat sad. The Spawn liked it a lot better than either of us did.

Next stop was the pigs. We managed to go via goats, rabbits, chickens, and cows. Still, it was the pigs that were the big attraction for the Spawn. The feed costs for them all was outrageous. I wonder that they're able to sell the things at auction afterward! Still, for future reference, they generally seemed to be in the 650-700 pounds of grain fed range. When we start trying to determine if pigs are cost effective to raise, we have something to measure against. Any pigs of ours had better not expect to be grain fed though.

The drive home was punctuated by a single, very unhappy vomit in the back seat. While I certainly sympathize, I can't help but be slightly glad that for once she was unable to vomit on Mom. Why did no one tell me that motherhood would involve catching the results of every tummy bug all down my front?

And so it begins....

I suspect I'm doing this largely for myself, but on the off chance that I'm not, I'll start off with a quick rundown of the household. There's me, Mom-in-chief. There's the Better Half. There's the Spawn, approaching her 2 and a half birthday, who keeps us all on our toes. There are two goats names Big Goat and Little Goat. The Spawn named them. They're currently clearing the brush in our woods. We plan to eat them when they're done. There are six turkeys, unnamed. We plan to eat them when they get a bit bigger. There are ten chickens, nine hens and one rooster. Once the hens are done laying, we plan to eat them. There's Caruso, the cat. We don't plan to eat him.

We're currently renting a house on a 3/4 acre lot, most of which is covered with trees. In one of the few marginally sunny spots, we have a garden. We also have two much sunnier plots at a community garden. In all of these, we practice better gardening through neglect. Despite this, we get a reasonable amount of produce out of them. Perhaps we'll be a bit more organized about it all next year. Perhaps not.

The Better Half works in the exciting world of prepare-to-be-outsourced-at-moment IT. I'm very close to getting a very expensive piece of paper that says I know how to fake my way through talking about China. Otherwise I try and keep the Spawn on track. One day, if civilization doesn't collapse, she'll be able to read all this and wonder why she turned out as well as she did.