Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Fun Games

This is a great one for testing the staff. You want the staff to be alert at all times. Frankly, without a certain amount of emergency drilling, they tend to slack off. So you'll want to try this out regularly, and keep them eagle-eyed.

First, you lightning-crawl (TM) to the edge of the bed.

Look over to check the fall. It should be dangerous, but don't let this deter you.

Boom! Over the edge. Now, if the staff are well-trained, they will catch you by the foot. You may then allow them to catch their breath before congratulating them on their quick wits.

Pay no attention to the staff's protestations. They like this game.

The Daily Mail Does It Again

They just never let me down. Whether it's important health news or in-depth investigative reporting, the Daily Mail is the one place you can find out what's really going on.

I'm deleting my New York Times bookmark. Same for the HuffPo. Bye bye CNN...

Where's the Baby?

Where's Iain? Iain? Where'd you go, dude?

Oh. Who's that? Is that...The Baby?

It is! There's the baby!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sicky McSickSick

All last night and all day today. Blech.

Dramamine, anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fun with Wikipedia - a little something for our British friends

Apparently, Alan Titchmarsh has an unexpected hobby. At least, so Wikipedia would have you believe.

And did you know that Tony Blair's middle name is Whoop-de-doo? Me neither.


This morning, I looked at Skippy's Garden, and realized with a shock that if I want to play with seeds this year I've got to get a move on.

Skippy lives in Boston. Apparently, their last day of potential frost is May 5. So she's planting 8-10 weeks ahead of that, which is...February! We live in Zone 6. Boston is in Zone Really Freaking Cold and Snowy (also Zone 6, through some USDA Hocus Pocus). Soooo...that means I'm late.

Ok. Ok. I can handle this.

Out came the seed catalogs, and Iain and I spent part of the afternoon saying profound things like, "Ooooo...that's pretty." At first, I thought I was going to have trouble selecting a catalog or two from the pile.

But actually, that turned out to be easy. Just check the address on the back. Yup. Yup. Many (many) of the seed companies who send you catalogs are actually owned by one major seed distributor in Wisconsin. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But if you think you're ordering Vermont seeds from the Great Vermont Bean and Seed Company - think again.

So I narrowed my shopping down to Burpee (which also owns Cook's Garden), Bluestone Perennials, Park Seed, and Pinetree Garden. Oh, and Stark Brothers, because they were so incredibly nice about the raspberries I sent to Miriam last year.

I've picked out a couple of fruit trees (apricot and cherry, for sure. I want fruit that cannot be purchased in stores or at the farmer's market), some blueberry and raspberry bushes, and a variety of flowers for the bed around the junipers. I also found a great system that will allow me to build a raised bed without tools or fuss. Yeah! I'm going to use it to cover up the spot where no grass will grow. So this weekend I'll be ordering seeds and a couple of cheap-o seed starting kits and the fun begins ASAP.

And last, but not least, I decided today to look into a rainwater cache system. Last summer we had to drip irrigate the junipers like mad. That's fine, but I'd like to use rainwater for that, if possible. Plus, there's a local tax credit for saving rainwater.

If you're thinking about buying seeds, one thing I'd recommend is that you check out Dave's Garden. It's an amazing site where people rate their experiences with seed companies. This is where I learned about Pinetree Gardens, a Maine company run by people who appear to be authentic New Englanders (ie, grumpy but really honest and hardworking). Also, the site can help you steer away from companies that don't do a great job.


Things that are soooo obvious once you say so:

1. Our power is on - while across town the power is out - because on our side of town the power cables are buried. Duh.

2. Telecommuting is awesome most of the time. Charles commutes in his PJ's. However, when there's a terrible ice storm and I get a week of canceled school, Charles gets...bupkus. Nada. His commute is still twenty feet down the hall in his slippers.

3. A big mug of cocoa is more than twice as good as a small mug.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today, Tomorrow, Whatever

Here's pretty much what today was all about. "Wow." "Wow." "What was that noise?" "Wow."


Charles was a tad suspicious. First, he was all "You're trying to take a picture of my butt! You're going to put a picture of my butt on teh interwebs!!" and I was all, "Moi?" But he failed to accept my denial. Instead, he gave me the evil crinkle eye, as you can see.
Moral of this story: don't try to take people's pictures from behind. They don't like it.

"Hey Mom: Wow." Yeah, dude. Pretty crazy.

In other news, school is canceled for the rest of the week. So many trees are down that the campus is considered hazardous.
Plus, the campus computer system is down.
Plus, there's only power to heat the dorms and feed the students.
Plus, none of the staff or faculty can get there, because the cities are desperately trying to keep main roads clear for emergency vehicles and therefore cannot possibly get to residential streets like ours where there are 3 inches of frozen slush.

Yeah! Warm and Toasty (Mmmm....Toast)

Yeah!! I'm not having any trouble staying warm today. I have on my trusty Hannah Andersen outfit, with my warm Hannah socks.

Pretty cute, no?

Weather Update 3: Breaking News

Half an hour ago, this was the front porch view.

Now it looks like this:

The pear tree was at the end of its natural life span, anyway. But it's a beautiful tree, so I'll be sorry if it ends up too broken to survive. Yes, this is just one major branch. But it's snowing hard and the wind is blowing...

Weather Update 2

Duuuuude. I woked up and the world was weird, dude. Weird. Everything was kinda...shiny.

And we have a new pond in the backyard. Not the fish pond, but the one behind it. It's about 10 feet across. Rain all night, on top of ice, will do that.

Check out the junipers all bent over with ice. Even blades of grass, sticking up from the measly 1 inch of snow, are coated in ice.


Weather Update 1

We're having a little weather this week. First, it was snow. Then ice pellets.

Last night, icy rain. The poor trees were coated in it and starting to bend pretty badly.

Also, Iain got stuck under a dining room chair and couldn't figure out how to get out. He was not happy.

Juno tried to help, but it turns out that pointing your butt at someone is only marginally useful.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


First, I weel corner the market in pork bellies. Thens, I weel establish a monopoly of footed sleepers. Next: the lipstick manufactures and all boxed mac-n-cheese...
When the peeps start to realize that an unseen hand is at work in the marketplace, it weel be too lates! I weel own it all!! I weel take over the worlds!

Two Things:

1. Isla continues to grow cheek fat. As much as I hate to admit it - her grandmother may be right. She's really starting to look like a contender.

2. Somebody stop this kid before she takes over the world. Look at her! She's a supervillain in the making.

Also, she recently learned to smile.

Ice, Ice Baby

The forecast called for 3-6 inches of snow overnight. We got maybe an inch. Maybe. Then, about 9am, it changed over to freezing rain/ice pellets. That continued until noonish, and since then it's been freezing rain.

The result? A lovely coat of ice for everything. The poor birds are trying to land on the fish pond and drink, but all the rocks are slick with ice.

It's beautiful to look at, but I wish I could go get the mail.


We used to keep Iain's frozen baby food in plastic bags. The problem with that method is that WE HATE OUR FREEZER.

Wait. No.

We hate our freezer because the door doesn't open all the way. That's because the fridge is actually a little too big for the space and because the molding around the dining room door blocks the freezer door from fully opening. So we hate that we can't get into the freezer easily and we hate how narrow it is and that it holds very little.

OK. Back to our story: because the freezer is so annoying, putting plastic baggies of frozen food in and out was also annoying. They slipped this way and that. They fell into the cracks of the shelves and behind the shelves. They impeded our access to other things.

Charles, meanwhile, watched as my pile of old Chinese food containers grew and grew. "But they're totally re-usable!" I insisted. Yes, but who needs 20 of them? Finally, he offered a solution: put the baby food in the plastic boxes.

Huh. They'd be stackable, whereas baggies are not. They'd stay nice and flat. They'd be more easily labeled and you'd be able to see the label more easily. Double huh.

As you can see, it worked. I made the transfer, and now the Towering Pile of Tupperware has diminished to manageable levels. Also, our freezer looks like an anal-retentive chef lives here. That is, of course, far from the truth. But it's fun to look at the stacked boxes and imagine that I could be such a person.

Deliciously Non-Eatable


Oooh, a disc on a string. I can has? I CAN HAS?? Don't make me scream.
Also, I drool on you.

Nom, nom, nom. Not bad. Not as good as a Breakstone's Cottage Cheese container lid, but not at all bad.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I ran out of Chinese dark soy sauce.

In our house, stir fries can be dated B.CDS or A.CDS depending on whether I had yet acquired Chinese dark soy sauce (wonderful) or not. A.CDS foods are better.

So anyway, I ran out. No problem. Just pop over to one of our local asian markets (my favorite is the one that comes just after Pure Platinum, one of our local strip clubs, which is on "Family Drive" (not kidding), but just before the cinder-block building that houses La Michuacan, a taqueria. That's the only way I know how to find it: "Oh, there's Pure Platinum, and there's La Michuacan in the distance...TURN!") and get some more.

Uh, oh. No Pearl River Chinese Dark Soy on the shelf. No other bottles labeled Chinese Dark Soy. What to do? What to do?

Fortunately, the owner is a very helpful man. He steered me to Mushroom Soy Sauce (China), Dark Soy in a jar (Thailand) and finally to Yakisoba sauce (Japan). I tried to buy all three, because at $2.50 for each it seemed like a little experimentation was in order. But no. After interrogating me about what I planned to cook, he insisted that I put back everything but the Yakisoba sauce. But then he warned me that it might not be salty enough. If not, add soy. Uh...

I browsed.

On one aisle, I found a dry marinade of Korean BBQ flavors. It said: "Made in Hawaii" in big letters. I didn't care. In fact, I kind of liked it. Strike a blow for asian products made in the USA. Whatever.

But that was Totally Unacceptable. The checkout guy picked it up and immediately walked away to show the owner. "No, no," he said. "This is made in Hawaii." Yes, I know. "You want this. Made in Korea." Sure, ok. I would have bought both, of course, but the offensive Hawaiian product was whisked away. So I got this:

And, you know, I'm looking forward to it. I love Korean BBQ.

Finally, I saw something I was pretty sure I understood. Look at that little fella:

That's a baby! As Charles said later, "Gee, honey, you're illiterate in Korean!" Yes. Yes, I am.

So I said, "Are these rice crackers for babies?" and he affirmed that I understood the pictogram correctly. He showed me the notation that it was for 5 months and up (no problem), and we agreed that it was fine. Then he tried to get me to buy Korean animal crackers, but I declined.

Iain had an American version of these crackers at Callie's house, and he powered through it like a ship made of unobtainium can cut through the Earth's core. [That's real science and don't let those eggheads tell you different.]

We tested them today, and Iain liked them just as much this time.

This could be Iain, but couldn't be my video editing

So, once again, good things from Boing Boing Gadgets. This video could be Iain, although the description that it is almost 4 hours of play compressed to two and a half minutes with no sign of the boy eating is proof that it is not, in fact, Iain. I also marvel at the idea that this is really 4 hours of what amounts to quiet, unsupervised play from a 9-month old.

How to be 25 minutes late

I had a doctor's appointment this morning. It was at 8:30am.

At 8:53, I walked into the building. This is not like me. I hate to be late. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

So how did it happen?

First, Iain woke up at the exact moment I walked past his door this morning (7:02am). So I took my shower and then had to go get him. That slowed down dressing, hair brushing, etc.

Second, because I was rushing around trying to get him fed, changed, clothed and nurtured, I remembered to drink a cup of tea but forgot to eat breakfast. Since Charles was good enough to give me a Starbucks gift card at New Year's, I decided to take Route A because it went past one of our (many) local Starbucks locations.

Third, as if stopping at Starbucks wasn't enough to slow me down, lo and behold there was one of my students. A lovely man, but a talker. He jumped in line with me and we chatted away while I waited, ordered, paid, and walked toward the door. Tick tock, tick tock.

Fourth, Route A (chosen for its Starbucks convenience, remember - see how these things are all piggy-backing?) requires me to get onto our local beltline road. So I got in the left turn lane, and just before the arrow turned green the lady in front of me popped her trunk and jumped out in the snow, mouthing "I'm sorry!"

Fifth, once I managed to get around that poor lady (and all the best to you, Ma'am. That looked like No Fun.), the beltline road was clogged. All traffic going about 45.

Sixth, the doctor's office is on one of those frontage roads near a hospital. I turned right. Left would have been better. But once you go right, getting back to left requires 10 solid minutes of cutting the block, waiting at the light, etc.

Seventh, when I pulled in (finally!) to the parking structure, I discovered that I'd gone down a dead end. Cars parked on either side, there was no place to turn around. So I had to do a 25-point turn to get the car pointed back out. Yes, I suppose I could have backed out. But it was like 40 feet, in semi-darkness, at the office of a doctor who specializes in people with foot injuries. In other words: limping patients + darkness + melted snow = fatal accident waiting to happen (see? I'm good at math!). So I turned around.

And, at last, having found a parking space above, having stomped out of the car muttering to myself about f'ing traffic and f'ing directions and this and that, I made my way into the office.

On the plus side, the doctor tells me that the pain in my ankle is tendonitis and it's early and probably a shoe insert will do the trick. And that if I wear it most of the time I can wear "pretty girl shoes" (my phrase) on days I teach.

The wait wasn't so bad, either. Since another of my students was there with her son, I even had someone to talk to.

Did I mention that the doctor's office asked me to be half an hour early? Yeah.

Today, in a nutshell

Sunday, January 25, 2009


We gave Iain toast after we saw how much Callie liked it. Apparently, Callie's toasty gift has now reached the west coast. Maddie's Daddy was all, "Hurst Street made the light go on in my head -- rare event! -- and I fed The Toast to our tiny lovely human for the FIRST. TIME. EVER."

And here you see the result. I think she liked it. I think she really liked it.

Of course, something had to be left behind. After all, Maddie's got a reputation to uphold.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Umm...ummm...I like it, but I'm not sure I should

Why My Cheeks Reign Supreme



The delicious Breakstone's Cottage Cheese lid.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm a Little Competitive

Isla, Freddie: try this on for size.
I'll see your cheeks, and raise you my enormous, billowing cheek fat.
Would you like a closeup? Ok.

Your move, ladies.


Charles traveled back to his alma mater for a meeting last month. While there, he replenished Iain's wardrobe. The bright orange onesies of 3-6 months no longer fit (of course), and this time he found a nice pair of navy and gray outfits. Obviously, they say "Caltech" on the front.

What neither of us noticed until we washed this onesie, though, was the other end.