Sunday, May 31, 2009

Final Garden Update (for now)

First, let's take a moment to enjoy this little picture of our old house in CA. Our friend Dr. C took it while in town on a research fellowship. He says my roses are doing well. Of course, they're not my roses anymore, but...they're my damn roses. So it's good they're healthy. I'm amused to note that the potted agave I put on the front step just before we moved are still there. Gotta love succulents.

But back to reality. This little succulent (see how I'm still obsessing?) started its life as a four-inch plant, just a little something for Charles's office. That was nearly five years ago. On our trip east to Maine, it suffered. Really. It nearly died. But it decided to give us another chance and here you see the results. Happy, healthy little guy.

I planted creeping thyme in various places around the junipers. Just so you know. We'll see how big it gets. I also sprinkled thyme seeds (size: .01 micron, I think.) on the soil, but then the weather stopped cooperating and I doubt they will do much.

The compost pile, churning away and making a nice home for lots of worms. Lawn clippings, leaves and weeds go in, I add a soupcon of kitchen waste as spice, and the pile keeps flattening down, making good yummy compost-y excellence for next year's veggie garden.

I grew cherry tomato plants from seed. I started too late. However, the experiment was successful. here you see one of my little babies. I think he'll be too small for anything interesting to happen this year, but it was a good test and now I have a better idea of what to do and when to do it.
It's been a perfect garden day. Overnight, there was a nice downpour, then all day today brilliant sunshine. That's what a garden loves, and things are delightfully green. We're forecast to be hot, hot, hot tomorrow and Tuesday, but then to be only in the low 80s at the end of the week. At night? In the high 50s. Lovely weather for gardening.

Do you have to "toddle" to be a toddler?

Iain is not yet walking. He stands, occasionally he "cruises," but he's not walking. That's fine.

But he's transitioned to one nap per day, he's eating table food, he's saying a few words ("Dad," "Teddy," and "Nana" for banana), and he's beginning to be picky.

So can you be a toddler before you toddle?

Well Hello There

Hey, Lady. Welcome to my garden. I'm delighted to see you. Please stay...forever.

Snowballs in the making

Check out the wide shot. Think we've got enough snowballs? These plants were new when we moved into this house, and in the last 2 years they've just grown and grown. This year, with all our spring rain, they're turning into the Hulk.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tomorrow Is Another Day...

Tomorrow, how about a 7:30am wakeup? 6am is a tad early for a Saturday.

Tomorrow, how about eating your dinner? Broccoli pasta all over the floor is a bit messy.

Tomorrow, how about waking up at least one time without screaming your head off? I think that one speaks for itself.

Tomorrow, more kissing.


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have peas. Specifically, we have three tiny snow peas. Wow. Wow.

They come from flowers, such as the one below:

Now that I've explained the birds and the bees, what do you think is going to come from this flower?

That's right, my leetle frens: a tomato.

In other news, Iain has an amusing new-ish behavior. One of his favorite books is a color book in which each page contains a pull-out page. You say, "Blue" and pull out the little page that shows three blue fish. His favorite is "Orange." For that color (incidentally, Will's favorite, in case you haven't been paying attention), the pull-out is a tiger. I say, "Like a TIGER! Roarrr!" and I tickle him.

So the behavior is that he brings you the book, waits while you go through the pages, hardly able to contain his excitement. When you get to orange, and he sees the tiger coming up, he crawls away really fast, giggling and looking over his shoulder, then once he's about 5 feet away he turns around to look. Like, "Ooo! I'm terrified of the scary Tiger, Mommy!"

Little nutter.


For the first time, I think I'm going to have to thin the limes growing on Charles's tree. We had two trees, originally. One was a Meyer lemon, the other a Bears lime. They were anniversary gifts from me to us, for our fourth anniversary (traditionally, fruit and flowers are the gift that day).

My lemon never really thrived. It never made fruit and only bloomed a little at first. I tried and tried, but it sat there looking half dead for 2 years. Finally, I gave up. When I pulled it out of the pot, though, it was completely root bound. So I guess it was growing roots all that time, just not leaves or flowers or fruit or any sense of common decency toward me. But I'm not bitter.

Anyway, the lime is much hardier. Last year it produced about 6 very, very potent limes. This year? Could be many more.

And it's still blooming.

This is the first one, and the largest. It's about the size of a small gumball right now. The rest are babies, just beginning to grow. I'll have to thin them out in order to give them a chance to get enough nutrition from the plant.

Science is Fun

In our continuing quest to discover the source of Fat Baby Cheeks, we now examine evidence of the results of pizza consumption. Looks like pizza is a suspect. Definitely.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Moose Eats for Free

We've already had to order the moose his own food on occasion. It is good to know that some restaurants have our back. Perhaps [shuddering] there is something to entice us to once again brave the generic casual dining experience: free moose food.

From FrugalLivingTV
via Lifehacker a list of restaurants and their kids eat free days. Bonus menu info offered for some.

Treaty to Protect Access to Media for the Blind

Sound like a good idea? Apparently not to the US, Canada, EU, Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway. The Vatican? Really? Doesn't want the blind to have access to copyrighted material? I encourage those interested in copyright issues (which may be none of this blog's readers . . . ) to read on and form your own opinion.

Cory Doctorow writes:

Right now, in Geneva, at the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world's copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn't want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it's possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that's who. The Obama administration's negotiators have joined with a rogue's gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.

Update: Also opposing rights for disabled people: Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Update 2: Countries that are on the right side of this include, "Latin American and Caribbean region including (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica) as well as Asia and Africa."

Update 3: Canada is upset with me. That's fine, I'm upset with Canada.

Activists at WIPO are desperate to get the word out. They're tweeting madly from the negotiation (technically called the 18th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) publishing editorials on the Huffington Post, etc.

Here's where you come in: this has to get wide exposure, to get cast as broadly as possible, so that it will find its way into the ears of the obscure power-brokers who control national trade-negotiators.

I don't often ask readers to do things like this, but please, forward this post to people you know in the US, Canada and the EU, and ask them to reblog, tweet, and spread the word, especially to government officials and activists who work on disabled rights. We know that WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists -- that's how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back -- and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where copyright law protects the public interest.

I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in combination with other high income countries in "Group B" is seeking to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities.

The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing persons with reading disabilities all around the world.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities...

The opposition from the United States and other high income countries is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that oppose a "paradigm shift," where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand rights for copyright owners.

The Obama Administration was lobbied heavily on this issue, including meetings with high level White House officials. Assurances coming into the negotiations this week that things were going in the right direction have turned out to be false, as the United States delegation has basically read from a script written by lobbyists for publishers, extolling the virtues of market based solutions, ignoring mountains of evidence of a "book famine" and the insane legal barriers to share works.

Obama Joins Group to Block Treaty for Blind and Other Reading Disabilities


Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of These is a Bride-To-Be

And the other one is Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady. No, before you ask, we did not coordinate our outfits. It just worked out that way because of corporate control over mainstream retail. Or fate.

Fun With Noodles

Oh, Hai. Mom made me spaghetti with a little tomato sauce and butter and parmesan. Me likey.

Notice that once I get the sauce smeared on my face it takes on a sort of fake-tan look. I think it's hot. Also, I enjoy stashing some noodles in my lap, so that when Mom wipes off the high-chair I can reach down and grab some more, then smear them all over my face and keep eating. You have to be stealthy around here.

Noodles are fun food. Much more interesting than stupid old crackers. Or pita. Maybe not quite so much fun as toast, though.


Riddle Me This

I find parenting confusing sometimes. For example:

You're supposed to impose a routine. Babies love routine, order, predictability. Right?

Ok, except: babies change all the time and you never know exactly what they want or how they are different until you figure it out by trial and error.

The result is that you are constantly trying new things, attempting to determine what they need now, and what they want or don't want anymore. You have to experiment because they can't tell you what they want or how they feel.

So. The secret to raising a baby is to create a structure and adhere to it. Except when you're changing the routine to reflect changes in the baby, which is all the time. Because babies like order, except when they've decided they don't like something about the order.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garden & Gun

Here's a little quiz. It won't take you long.

1. A magazine features articles on the following subjects: gardening naked, a smelly but beloved bulldog, Coca-Cola with real sugar, how to make an Old-Fashioned with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, and a visitor's guide to everything Louisville. This magazine is:

a. Awesome.
b. Better than that.
c. Truly delightful.
d. Reading my mind.
e. All of the above.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cue the banjo music

Garden Update: An Avalanche of Pictures (ok, like 10)

My swiss chard is going gangbusters. Here's my secret: I have no secret. I bought it at the farmer's market (it looked kind of sad), planted it in the raised bed, and walked away. It's about 4 times as big now, and growing larger all the time. Probably, I should eat some.

Ditto parsley. I love curley parsley, which I think gets no respect. So I planted some, and all this rain has made it happy, happy, happy. In fact, I had to go out and peel it off my blueberry bush. Stay in your spot, parsley!

Lilies, coming along any minute:

And marigolds, doing their sunny job by deterring pests and brightening up the veggie patch. that's a thyme below them, and a dahlia leaf to the left. Did I mention that the dahlias are getting scary-big?

A view down into the tomato cage.

My best blueberry. I treated the soil with sulphur this week, to acidify it. Blueberries love acid.

Peas growing up the trellis. Wait. Scratch that. Peas: tied to the trellis because they're too stupid to figure out what they are genetically programmed to do. There. I feel better, now.

The newest member of our little team, a cherry tomato I bought at the market. I am growing cherry tomatoes from seed, but they're still really small.

Side view of the largest tomato plant. It's huge. Yesterday we experienced torrential rains, and when I went outside in the evening I swear this tomato had grown about 8 inches. Really.

More peas. So pretty. Last night I found blossoms, which means (counting the flowers here) I could have 5 whole snow peas soon! As Graham would say: Wow.

Flowers. So pretty. I love purple. In fact, my dress for Miriam's wedding is pretty close to the color of those petunias.

They live in a big blue IKEA pot with my basil genovese. The basil's doing fine, but not really freaking out the way the other plants are.

And, finally, lettuce. The lettuce I expected to last a couple of weeks is still going strong. Our temps have been popping up to 85 or so now and then but really hovering in the 70s and getting down to the low 60s and 50s at night. Plus, you know, rain. The result: more lettuce!

I've decided to buy lettuce seed and plant my own next spring. And maybe this fall. It's so pretty, and so easy, there's no reason not to do so.


Maddie and her Daddie conducting a restaurant review. See how she clenches her straw in her teeth? See how she holds the cell phone like a light-saber? See how she wears a diaper out to dinner? See how she keeps a "palate-cleanser" in her right hand? It's just like Ruth Reichl dressing up to sneak around NY when she was the critic for the New York Times.

Maddie's totally in-cog-neeto, kids.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What I Can Do With Toilet Paper

On Sunday, I drove over to Prospect for Miriam's bridal shower. Although I forgot my camera (grr!), I remembered to bring my cell phone, which has its own camera. Normally, it can take pretty nice pictures, but that assumes an operator who isn't flopping around like a fish on the high-dive. Also, I found it hard to balance the camera and my plate of coconut cheesecake.

Anyway. So the first surprise was that Miriam's baby sister Rebecca flew in from NM. Here they are, hugging it out:

And posing together, all pretty and coordinated: [please note Miriam's shoes ZOMG]

And here's Miriam, weeping. It's just not a shower unless someone cries.

The bride-to-be again, this time with her college friend Cheryl, aka "Cleo." Note the fabulous purple threads. Your humble narrator is jealllouus.

Miriam and her sister Caroline, reading the answers to the quiz about the groom-to-be. Apparently, he was born in England, likes to play tennis, prefers orange and absolutely must eat a burrito at least once a week. This was news to me, so I blew the quiz pretty bad. However, I spotted the misspelling of "haggis," so that's something.

I grant that this is a crappy picture. This is not a photo blog. Still, when I tell you what you're seeing, you'll understand why I had to post it anyway. Game #1 was a map quiz, in which we had to identify the location of the wedding (in East Sussex, England). Game #2 was the quiz about the groom. Game #3, which could not be escaped by going to the toilet for 5 whole minutes (ask me how I know) was to make a bridal veil from toilet paper.

What you see below is the bride-to-be modeling one of the creations. Now, although I had unpleasant flashbacks to girl scout camp doing this, there were 2 consolations. #1: I was in a team with "Cleo" and Rebecca, both of whom were great fun and surprisingly talented at toilet paper crafts. Of course, Rebecca is an engineer, so I suspect she could make a Maserati out of paperclips if necessary. "Cleo" and I provided snarky commentary.

Consolation #2 was that some of the teams made surprisingly awesome headpieces out of tp. These included the one below, an 80's style sideways cap with a puff in back and a little fluttering train. It was very, very Krystle Carrington.

Here's our final product. It was a braided headband with a pouf flower in back and a train, plus a small rosebud bouquet. We did not win.

Last, but not least, I got a chance to see the babies for a bit at the end. Like all stars, they made an entrance - more drama that way. Here's "Cleo" and Chloe, cuddling:

And Brando thinking Very Serious Thoughts about his purple balloon. Very, Very Serious.

It was a great party, especially because Miriam's Aunt Matie and her Grandmother were there. I love chatting with her grandmother, who met Miriam's grandfather during WWII (!!). She's full of fun, as is Aunt Matie.

Thank you, Miriam, Caroline, Rebecca and Mrs. Miriam's Momma. I had a great time.

[P.S. Erin - I hope Brock's feeling better. Missed you.]

Call Me, Baby

Excuse me, I'm concentrating. I've found a new toy that occupies much of my time.

Here it is. It lights up. It makes noises. It comes with a foamy thing you can put in your ear or munch on.

Who shall I call? Hmmm....Callie? Aunt Miriam?'s so hard to decide. Could I call up the grocery and have some food delivered? Maybe a pizza? How about some fried chicken? I'm hungry. As always.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What Do You Think?

Wear my awesome rain boots to Miriam's shower? With my cute embroidered skirt? What? You don't think they go together? Fine. I'll put on boring sandals.