Thursday, June 30, 2011

Knit on...

June has been a killer of a month. Long hours at work, with extra servings of Crazy, insane expenses that have left me at a record low in my checkbook...which is why it was almost inevitable that my agency screw up my direct deposit for this pay period.

Oh yeah. Best way to ensure something like that happening is to be saying to yourself as you nervously fork over YET ANOTHER payment you hadn't planned on, "It'll be paycheck will be fully settled in the account by the 25th."

OR, it will be a physical check, which I probably won't receive before the 6th, and which will then take 3-5 days to clear the local bank, then another 3-5 to make the transfer to our main accounts at ING.

Now owned by Capital One. (rubs forehead)

Ah,'re always there for me when I'm getting stressed the @&$#* out...

(First strip, almost complete...only three more to go...)

(And about three weeks to due date)

(Crap, now I have MORE stress...!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nom nom nom…

By day, I am a lunatic mild-mannered database analyst. BUT BY NIGHT…I am the Mad Shredder. MWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Which sounds so cool and sinister and some junk, until I upload this…


…which is like, …oh…YAWN!

This shredder has been a major part of my so-called free time lately; see, in order to have room for the almost-a-thousand-pounds (!!!) of meat that is going to be crashing into the Den around 7/16, we decided to go ahead and finally get around to getting a second freezer – but a chest-style this time. Of medium-largish size. (Believe it or not, we don’t need a HUGE! one…because we do still have the other freezer. It’s really more for storing the biggest roasts and awkward-shaped bits…those are the ‘gotchas’ for me, storage-wise.)

Of course, we don’t exactly have open space in the garage. So something had to go, in order for the freezer to come in.

Enter the long, low filing cabinet.

And its contents.

Which consist almost entirely of ancient paperwork and mementos of bygone eras.

There is a reason it hasn’t been dealt with previously – which is because it is mind-numbingly tedious. Oh, I’ve taken care of some things here and there over time; I’ll get to feeling my organizational Wheaties and will jump on in there and purge out bank statements from 1987 and stuff like that…scan important documents to disk and shred the paper-versions…all that kind of stuff.

But the fit usually only lasts for one weekend (usually a rainy one, gee I wonder why THAT might be…), and then I go, “Oh, FORGET IT!!!!” and slam the cabinet shut (frequently on my finger) and then I go on to something more interesting.

Like watching the grass grow, or listening to the carpet dry.

But, with the filing cabinet actually physically going away now, and with nowhere else I can shove this stuff where I don’t have to trip over it every single day…sigh

Every night, I try to go through one more of those big, fat hanging folders. I scan the 300-page documents and shred the sensitive ones and recycle the 52 copies of the same “before your appointment” pamphlet from 1992.

And I try to resist the urge to get lost in it.

Which is a terrible danger, given that I have to at least glance at what’s in my hands.

Hospital charges from when Eldest was born. That set of cloth diapers we bought way back then, for $248 – enough to go an entire week without having to wash the things (although I don’t recommend it…they get stiiiiinky), and I believe that set is now on Baby #7, or possibly 8.

Not too shabby return on investment there, huh?

Increasingly snippy letters between myself and one of our former landlords, who decided that repaying our deposit was kind of optional. Heh. And the Summons and Complaint I filed in the small claims court…aaaaaaaand whaddya know!, a check for the deposit, made out two days after the complaint was served. Pure coincidence, I’m sure…

…ah, me, the good old days…

(Seriously, this is sooooo boring. Can’t I go outside and play instead?!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cranky McSnarky rides again

Some days, I really wish cell phones had never been invented. You know, like, days when some dude calls in to his meeting from the quiet car of the ACE train and proceeds to SHOUT HIS COMPANY'S BIZ-NIZ FOR ALL TO HEAR!!!!!!

...and then, of course, there were the klaxon-voiced folks on BART, shrieking inanities at the top of their impressive lungs. 45 straight minutes of 'where YOU at?!' and 'ohmygah I know, right? So I was all, dude, no you did NOT, and he was all, like, I dunno, you know?!''s enough to make me give up on the future of our species...why is it that the folks most eager to share their conversations with Us All always seem to be the ones with an IQ of about room temperature? And, there is somebody on the other end, remember - eagerly hanging on every word!

(And yes...SOMEBODY around here is grumpier than usual.)

The blanket is moving along,, it ain't ALL bad...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bouncing Bobbles

Nothing adds spice to life like trying to take a picture with your cell phone of your knitting on a bouncing train. (Because the other passengers didn't already think you were odd enough just from the knitting.)

Although trying to write a blog post on that same phone on the same bouncy train is at the very least a close second.

But, first repeat of the first square for the first strip is done! And at this rate, it should be finished well before Baby heads off to, you know...yay me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I left work shortly after 4:00, and arrived home shortly after 7:30.

And I told you that so I could tell you this: I realized about six minutes after leaving the office that I should have hit the ladies room before doing so.

And I shared that lovely example of TMI with you so I could then share this: I spent the next three hours hurrying up to catch something that would take me somewhere a bathroom was NOT.

Which is why (I now continue sharing, because I am a GIVER), I was...VERY fidgety by the time I finally skidded through my own front door, and I dove for the bathroom without pausing to say a WORD to anybody.


...there is this terrier-like scratching at the door.

Then there is the usual "MOMMY!!!!!!!! {mutter mumble whisper}..." "whaaaaaaaaaat?" "OH! I SAID COULD I {mutter mumble whisper}..." (repeat about six times)

It wanted to know if it could have food.


I have been home less than sixty seconds. I ran - RAN! - into the bathroom like it was a bomb shelter and the siren was going reeeeere-reeeeeeee-reeeeeeeeee.

...and you think, what...that I have food in my pockets? That I brought home a 12-course feast and laid it out Somewhere Secret, and will give this information to you now, whilst I am sitting benevolent upon my throne?!?!

{...rubs temples...}

Sometimes, I REALLY wonder about those kids of mine...common sense, they haz none...

Hey, I remember this place!

Wow. I worked from home ALL of last week...then had a couple days off...somehow, it feels like I've been away much longer than I actually have.

I finally settled on a pattern for a baby blanket for an Impending Arrival in my friend group...I think less thought has gone into international peace treaties.

And why, WHY, oh Me, do you INSIST on picking 'fiddly' patterns?!?! (well...cause it's CUTE!)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

...I think we need a bigger freezer...

I was kind of waffling about whether or not I'd get another steer this year...while last year's is quite depleted, we still have a fair amount of beef out there in the freezer.

But, when the young lady we bought from last year got up there with her handsome little steer, well...the bidding was slow to start. And somehow, I just didn't want her steer going to go to one of the business-buyers.

I didn't want to hear the auctioneer say, "...and that's retail..." - meaning that the buyer is going to pay the difference between 'retail' price and his bid, and his final bid, and the steer just...goes to the regular old meat market.

Knowing how hard she's worked with him, how much she cared for and about him...I just really wanted him to go to someone who would think about these things, at every meal.

So I bid, and I won, and more than once (six times in all, actually - one steer, two hogs, one lamb, one turkey and one rabbit...the last two weren't on my LIST, but I was under-budget and again...the bidding just wasn't HAPPENING for these kids.

And that's half (or more) of the point; this method of meat-acquisition brings together two of my favorite things: super-fresh, super-local, hands-on, I-know-who-grew-it food, and children.

And to see their faces glowing with that peculiar blend of grief.(after all, one way or another, good price or awful, this is their last day with their animal), pride and happiness when, instead of ending up under-market and below-cost and their animal off to Just Anywhere, somebody jumped in and brought that price up to market-average and threw up the 'C' for custom (which means it is going to be custom-cut for the buyer's personal consumption)...well.

It's a pretty neat thing to see; it's an honor to be that person.

I hope I get to keep on being involved in this event for many, many years to come.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Livestock auction

There aren’t many things that can make me feel excited about getting up early(ish) on a Saturday morning…this is one of them. Tomorrow is the junior livestock auction at the county fair; tomorrow, kids from all around the county will be lining up with the animals they’ve raised for a trot around the ring in front of parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, curious strangers and bidding sponsors like me – not necessarily directly connected to any of them by blood or friendship, but there to support them nonetheless.

Can’t wait to go to the fair!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the midst of crazy, I shall find...more crazy!

So. The last couple weeks have been…what’s the word I’m looking for here…

A twelve-layer Crazy Cake with fruity-nut topping and processed whipped banana-flavored dipping sauce on the side?! (OK, so, that’s more than “a” word, but is probably the closest to actually summing things up.)

Yeah, kind of like, all of the above, with an added layer of “!!!!!” and a few “?!?!?!” and even a couple “………” in there for good measure.

Which also aren’t exactly words, but sometimes…words fail, y’all.

So first of all, work? Yeah. Let’s put it this way: Last week, I billed 60.5 hours. Billed 60.5. Factor in my awesome commute and stuff like wandering off for half an hour here and there to shove food toward my mouth and dudes…last week? Stank. On. Ice.

MEANWHILE IN OTHER NEWS…the husband got all Rambo on me, conscripted his buddy into slave labor, and over the last about three weeks the two of them pulled out five trees that have been plaguing us around the Den.

One we called the ‘Yuck Berry’ tree. It was basically a shrub that had gotten delusions of grandeur and shot up a good twenty some-odd feet; it was covered with these little purple berry-things that the birds were just nuts about…as evidenced by the purple poop they left allllllll over the neighborhood. Awesome! It also filled up the whole yard with little shrub-tree babies, because of course the whole purpose of the berries is to make more shrubs!

…I have despised that tree-shrub for years

They also took out three cypress trees that had grown out of control along the side of the house – they were threatening to take out the fence, and in recent years had become kind of scary.

AND, an alder tree that has apparently caused an awful lot of damage to our neighbor’s pool over the years by dropping seed pods into their pool. They were just small enough to get through the filter and burn out their filter motors. They never said a word, just kept replacing the motor and cursing our tree in their hearts…until we were out there repairing the fence after it fell apart and we mentioned that we were thinking about maybe at some point taking that tree out of there, because it too was damaging the fence and was just kind of weirdly placed, and they were all, “YES PLEASE!!!!!” and that was that.

Have you ever wondered what five tree’s worth of debris looks like? Well, if you don’t already know…you might never know because the only picture I took was this one and it’s even crappier than I thought at the time:

Crappy picture of tree debris
Really? You had ALL THAT lying around your yard for, like, TWO WEEKS, and this is the ONLY shot you took?!

Well. Here’s a better one of the side path where the cypress trees were:

This is JUST the stump-grindings and general dirt – the actual TREE part filled up an entire full-sized pickup truck bed and two 60-gallon totes.

And of course there is this:
Fortunately, aforementioned tree-felling buddy is a FORESTER who lives in a FORESTER-Y place we refer to simply as The Mountains, where firewood is a main source of HEAT in the winter. It will not go to waste.

OH WAIT, and also? This.

OH! And also? We have this.
…which is what is left of six [because they also took out a tree a neighbor wanted gone] trees AFTER you’ve run it through a rented chipper…what you’re seeing there is wood chips spread over about a, what, 60-square-foot area up to about my KNEE…

So the husband rented this Great Big Chipper (which of course I also did not take a picture of, because that would have been a smart, with-it blogger kind of thing to do), and he and I started dragging allllllllll those branches and other detritus over and tossing it in there, and then one of our neighbors came to help us (the one whose unwanted ornamental pear tree was that sixth one), and along the way I got so mangled up! I am now sporting:

  1. A lovely slash across my cheek (mostly healed up by now, but it looked awesome and slightly pirate-y when I first got it), courtesy of me not ducking quite fast enough when the husband walked by with an extra-wide load
  2. A whack of deep scratches all up and down my right forearm, courtesy of me not being terribly good at that whole “proximity of my arm to the stubbly end of that branch” thing. And I’m mad about those because I wanted to wear my looooong gloves but the husband was all, “Blah blah blah safety,” which is fine, safety around chippers is good because they are scary and all, BUT, here’s the thing: He did 99% of the actual chipping, and could have done 100% of it, with the neighbor and me just hauling the stuff to him, but noooooooooo, I chipped, like, three twigs and got my forearm all messed up for no real reason. FEH.
  3. A MASSIVE! bruise on my right thigh, from me also not being particularly good at noticing that the wheelbarrow’s handles are right-there combined with me having a tendency to kind of jump! forward because I just want it to be over now please so maybe if I go faster, it will be over sooner, see? (Well, it would work, if I didn’t have to take that ten minutes out to sit on the ground laughing a lot and crying a little and massaging my thigh while thinking, Great. Now I won’t be able to wear shorts for, like, a MONTH because somebody will think my husband beats me or something…
  4. I am walking all funny because yeah…arthritic hip + bad back + this level of weekend warrior behavior? Bring on the pain meds, yo!
  5. AND! Best of all! A sunburn! Even though I totally put on sunscreen! Which is so unfair because I always get a sunburn, but usually I have to admit that noooooooo, in spite of the fact that this Celtic skin of mine has gone from snow-white to cooked-lobster-red in approximately thirteen seconds since I was born into this current incarnation, I did not actually remember to put on sunscreen. Or worse, decided not to because, pick any one: {I don’t like the smell, I couldn’t find it, I was only going to be out there a ‘few minutes’ where ‘minutes’ is pronounced ‘wait, why is it getting dark out here?!’, probably it would be best if I didn’t so that my skin will “toughen up,” a concept which is also pronounced, “I am too lazy to go find the sunscreen, I’m only going to be out there a few minutes at most anyway and besides, I hate the smell of that stuff.”}

Fortunately, I have been “work from home” all week thus far, because the husband had training to attend and our nanny (have I mentioned that I hate saying that? I mean, it’s not that she doesn’t earn / deserve the title, it’s just that I always feel like I’m putting on airs when I use it…oh yes, darling, our nanny will take care of that, would you like some more scones and shall I have the valet iron your newspaper for you…?) couldn’t get here early enough for me to get into the office at a reasonable hour and/or couldn’t stay late enough, so I’d end up with this 2.5 hour day at work before I had to run for home again, and pffffft.

It’s been an excellent week for working from home. I look like I fell into the chipper, I swear. And I’m tired and I just look…like holy hell, actually. Plus I’m limping. A lot. Which pisses me off, so if somebody makes the mistake of going, “Wow, did you hurt yourself skiing or something?” I have this tendency to rip their heads off. Or launch into a forty minute kvetch-fest.

Technically I’m supposed to have a five day weekend starting tomorrow, buuuuuuut, we kinda had this extra helping of Crazy at work sooooo I kind shoved everything I had planned for Thursday out a bit (you know, to Someday Soon-ish). BUT, then I sort of got a reprieve-ish thing, sooo, I might get at least half of tomorrow back.

But I’m still working from home.

Because I’m still a wreck.

But I digress.

ALSO…not shown because would I think to take a picture of this? OF COURSE NOT, but, we have barrels of these beautifully soft wood-shreds from the stump-grinder (yeah, the husband rented one of those, too) that I’ve been steadily working into our clay to break it up. I put them through my chemistry set and found that they are really rich on the fertilizer front, particularly in nitrogen; I experimented with different “shovels of this, cups of that, scoops of this other” and found a balance that puts my soil into about-perfect blends of pH, nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium blends for “generic” planting.

That part was fun. Eeeee, mix! Eeeeee, record! Eeeeeeee, make the “tea” stuff and play with very seriously and with great scientific attention to detail and junk like that use the pH strips and add drops of this and that to see what color it turns so you can find out what stuff is present, and then of course there’s the electronic-reader doohickey that kind of ‘second opinions’ the chemical reads and bouncy-bouncy-bouncy it’s so cooooooooool!

Then came the part where I got a shovel, and went through my (surprisingly depleted) little “fields” that weren’t actively growing anything, and cut down about four-five inches of topsoil, and put X shovels of ‘plain dirt’ with Y scoops of shavings and Z handfuls of store-bought rebalancing stuff (the nitrogen content is pretty high on the shavings, so I’m using a low nitrogen / high everything else blend from the store to compensate), and then mixed-mixed-mixed with an assortment of farm-like tools and that part?

Not-so-much high on the “fun-o-meter.”

BUT THEN, I got to have fun again! Because! Over where the alder used to be?

The New Pumpkin Patch

Found. Object. Garden. Structure.

See, we had all these not-big-enough-to-be-logs, too-big-to-be-chipped log-like things? And we had decided that we’d put a pumpkin patch over where the alder used to be; it’s extremely nitrogen-rich soil over there, and the pumpkins are heavy nitrogen feeders when they get started.

…and then I looked at this not-log thing…and I remembered that I had some jute string in the shed, and I kind of went, hee! to myself.

And then I pounded a whack of “stakes” (which are actually stubby little not-log branch-things that were lying allllll over the yard) into the ground and tied string around it like a Maypole, and planted a bunch of Christmas lima bean around the stakes, and now we’ll see if it works out – I’m hoping for a spread of pumpkins all under and around, with the lima beans kind of “umbella-ing” over them.

I am full of ideas like this. A lot of them don’t pan out – but I have fun trying.

And I hope that’s the point, because overall I don’t think I’m winning any awards for prettiest / unchewed / prolific gardening this year.


June is going to be a 200% crazy month, kids.

Wake me when it’s over, ‘kay?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

It starts...

The weather has been really unhelpful so far this season - cold, gray and even still a bit icy here and there...the bugs are having a field day and the plants that weren't eaten to death have been languishing in a state of nearly suspended animation...growth has been in agonizing centimeters, blossoms have been slow to appear.

But, finally...things are starting to happen out there.

Green beans and summer squash; looks like there will be food after all!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Four little words

One of the hardest things about Captain Adventure's autism, for me, is That Thing where he is emotionally disconnected; it's the thing that worries me most when I think about his future.

He's That Guy, you know? The one who will just...walk away, right in the middle of the conversation, because, well, HE'S done. He'll say extremely rude things, and not get why it made you mad.

Social skills remain extremely important, in our day to day lives - for good reason. Without them, we'd be at each others throats all the time.

So when I'm in a mood to worry about his future, I frequently start there. How will he get and keep a job? Will he have friends, a wife, children of his own? Will he love them? Will they KNOW he does?

Personally, I find loving my kids to be the payoff for all that huff and bother.

Well. That, and being able to say, "Why yes, that crazy-beautiful, wicked-smart, artistic prodigy ball of pure AWESOME *is* one of mine!" I really had much to do with it...they just CAME that way. All I do is buy them supplies, try desperately to keep up with them,and then take credit for their successes while conveniently glossing over the stinky bits. Sweet gig, huh?!

But I digress.

So last night, I was putting Captain to bed. We hadn't had a particularly smooth process, there - I'd let him go too long on the computer AND we'd let him stay up too late. He fought me tooth and nail, the whole way.

But eventually, I was snuggling up with him in his bed, talking about Best Part / Worst Part (our daily review), and I was starting one of my Worry Bouts.


Then I was doing the final bit of our bedtime ritual.

"All right, mister. Night-night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, I'll see you in the morning - I love you."

Usually, he says nothing, just rolls over and sighs. Sometimes he'll ask for the door to be left ajar, or a light to be turned off, or for daddy to use headphones if he's still watching something on TV downstairs.

Last night, from the darkness, his little voice sing-songed: I love you, too.

Words the rest of us toss off all the time - stimulus / response, I love you / love you too.

From my Captain, they're rare and treasured jewels.

He loves me too.

I am the luckiest Mommy in the whole wide world.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Season meets season

Red potatoes - just dug up this afternoon.

Roma tomatoes - dried at the end of last summer.

About to meet each other with some red lentils, carrots, onion, and celery in an end-of-long-hard-day soup.

Still feels like a magic trick!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fills up my time, AND my lap!

The Spirit of the Southwest shawl is inching toward completion. Lately, I have been VERY AWARE of how BIG it's getting - it no longer hangs neatly from the needles in a compact little project, but sprawls all over my lap like a Golden Retriever that insists on being a lap dog.

I should have the knitted-on border finished soon, though...then only 600 miles of i-cord at the top, a wash and a thorough blocking and I'll be DONE.

...should be roughly by, oh, 2024 or so...