Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bought my kid a bike, got pooped on by a goose

Bought my kid a crappy bike, that is. Ah, the perils of Craiglist. Brad found an ad for a couple of small bikes, and we called, and went trooping out across the valley to look at them. They were both quite hard-used, I’m afraid – handlebars a little bent and sticking out from busted grips, filthy and/or rusted rims, non-matching and leaking tires, paint flaking from every surface. But there was another, bigger problem. They were being sold by a little boy, maybe 12 years old. You try looking a budding little salesman in the face and saying “I think $10 is too much for the first bike you ever ever owned.” Also, H, seemed to be enchanted with it. So the ten was paid and the smaller of the two bikes was carted off, direct to Kmart for some new parts. At least the seat is okay.

Tonight we were supposed to put the training wheels on, but the straightening out the handlebars, patching the front tire, and scrubbing it a bit (not done yet) took the entire evening, as it turns out. And no sanding or scraping has even yet occurred to prep it for repainting. We probably won’t come out ahead after all the required work is done. But H loves his little bike, so on we must.

While working on the bike tonight a goose that was flying over pooped on me. I thought it was just a raindrop until a minute later when I noticed the brown stuff on my arm.

Canada geese and I have an uncomfortable affinity. canada-gooseThere was the pair that nested in the planter bed a couple of years ago – this year they were deterred by the fearsome setting of a couple pieces of wood in the favored spot. I know it is the same pair because the gander is lame in his right foot. As far as I can tell, they haven’t nested this year and now I feel a little bad for asking Brad to deter them. What’s done is done, though. Anyway, you’ve heard of the aggressiveness of mama bears? Well, all I can say is I no longer believe the nom de plume “Mother Goose” to sound so benevolent.

In another strange goose occurrence, this past winter we were temporarily adopted by a goose. While playing at the park on a chilly evening, a goose flew down to the lawn and walked over to me. I spoke to the goose, of course, chatting about the weather and why it was alone and telling it where I thought it should maybe go to meet up with some other geese in case it was up for some social goose action and whatnot. It apparently listened. Because it followed us all the way home – along the sidewalk out of the park, across a busy street on the crosswalk (the drivers that stopped for us were visibly befuddled by the trailing flap-footed member of the party), all the way home. It wanted to come in the front door. I didn’t let it, but Brad and H led it around the back way to the deck. It stood outside the window and bonked its bill on the sliding glass door. We fed it some bread and crackers and gave it some water. It proceeded to beg to be let in until bedtime when I closed the curtain. Last I saw it was late that night, standing on the streambank. I believe I saw it a couple days later in the park, a lone goose who seemed to be bothering some mallards for company. But not after that. I assume it was a yearling that got separated from its group and was trying to get reoriented. I hope he/she did.

And now a goose has pooped on me, directly on me. Maybe it was one of the foiled pair, taking revenge for losing their favorite nesting spot. Maybe it was the yearling who selected me as its temporary savior saying hi. Or maybe it was just another representative from the goose world, making sure to remind me of the weird relationship between me and the whole species.

canada-goose-2(Photos lifted from Wikipedia –these aren’t my geese, but you know.  They look the same.)


Not back on it, Joe. Still on it.

Registered for a Wetland Restoration course today, for fall.  Had to get special permission (story of my academic life).

So that explains the two wetlands books over there in the sidebar.  This course of study seems never-ending sometimes.  But I’ve been looking forward to taking this particular course for a couple of years now.  It would be nice to do a project up at the bird refuge.  Or maybe at a wildlife management area, even though I find I don’t get along super naturally well with the WMA managers, as they are obsessed with ducks to the exclusion of all else.  Anyway, I am nearing project time and I am really really behind on stuff like, um, finding a major professor and planning the project.  I like dam-removal studies, but there just ain’t a lot of dams coming out in my neck of the woods.  I love the lake too and the wetlands around it, and I suspect that’s a more viable interest.

Mark a book and melt crayons and learn about vaccinations

Tonight I learned some things about tatting, or rather how not to go about tatting.

  • I ran out of thread while making a bookmark, only 1.5 rings from the end. Maddening. I consulted a book that has some info about joining new thread. I didn’t understand it, but rather than go on-line and find out how to do it properly, I just decided to wing it.
  • Several dabs of glue and a lot of internal cursing later, I finished the bookmark.bookmark_042409_21
  • It’s my first piece-with-a-purpose, so I love it despite its flaws – flaws in tension, joins, twisted parts, and a weird topper that I just sort of made up on the fly and it shows.  I still love you, little bookmark.
  • Yes, that’s a romantic tatted bookmark photographed on top of the words “Is Pertussis Common?” Folks, bad news. It is common.  The book is The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears and I’m liking it.  The boys both have check-ups on Monday.  I should have read this book earlier, but I’m trying to fly through it now in order to set what I think is a reasonable schedule for Baby C’s vaccinations, then maybe I’ll circle back around and read it more carefully.  I’m not anti-vaccine, but I’m not comfortable with the American Academy of Pediatrics schedule; I find it too aggressive.  Why does a baby need to vaccinated against Hepatitis B on its very first day of life?  Or second day either?  Why why why?  H just got all his vaccinations along that schedule and he is fine, but I don’t wanna do it again.  This book is highly informative and I recommend it to anyone who is confused about vaccinations and facing choices about it.  I don’t presently intend to refuse any vaccinations.  I’d just like to get them administered a little more slowly (sorry, Baby C.  You’ll end up with more individual injections.  I know.  I don’t like it, either, but I think it’s best.)

Today H and I melted down some old crayons of his into multicolored round crayon cakes.  It was fun and much easier and less messy than I expected.  We also tried to make a sort of sun-catcher using crayon shavings, wax paper, tin foil, and the iron.  It worked.  We got a pretty, multi-colored star to hang in the window.  Unfortunately, it was so thin and brittle that it broke immediately.  We melted it into the cakes, so no harm done.

Planted beets yesterday, AKA vegetable candy.  And there are beans, canteloupe, and basil seeds being started inside.  I also replanted carrots and onions yesterday, thinking the seeds I planted two or three weeks ago dried out.  Uh-huh, wouldn’t you know that today, the old seeds were sprouting.  So now we’ll have a lot of carrots and onions to thin.  Oh well.  At least they didn’t die from my ineptitude, as I had thought.  That’s a good feeling.

The water spigot is turned on at the garden now, which makes it much easier, obviously.  No more bringing water along.  H is a good helper.  He likes to fill the watering cans and then water the garden.  Today I showed him the area set aside just for him (about 18″ of the four-foot bed).  He looked at it and said after a moment, “I’d really prefer a larger space.”  Hmph.  He must be my boy.  That’s all he’s getting for his sunflowers and daisies, though.  He can share the rest with us.

Reciprocal photography

H gets to play with our old camera sometimes.  And it sure is a nice day today outside.reciprocal-photography_042209_11

reciprocal-photography_042209_23Look — the Brunnera!  I thought I killed a lot of plants with neglect last year, but many are coming back.  Little troopers.brunnera_042209

And due to the deafening clamor of nobody asking about the tatting (what?  what?  isn’t tatting super-fascinating?  Isn’t that why it’s so popular and everybody is doing it?), here is some tatting I did today.  tatted-chain_042209_11I am finding this craft not forgiving of mistakes.  However, it is entertaining, easy to put down and pick up (at least when the pattern is very simple) and oh-so-little.  I’m no good at it still, but this little piece does represent improvement.  I’ve just been tatting rings and chains over and over and then pretty much tossing them.  My tension should improve with practice.  And I’m slowly catching on to the basic technique.  There are a lot of other techniques to learn, but I’m just trying to get the hang of rings, chains, and regular lock joins.  And when I use two shuttles, I’ve got to figure out what to do with the non-working one while making a ring with the other.  Here’ s the marvelously named site that helped me finally be able to tat more than one ring in sequence.  Niiiiiice and slow.  I found some good videos online, too, but they didn’t break it down to quite the basic level I was needing.  I think I will use them to improve, though.  I don’t really do much of this; life is busy, but when I can find a few minutes, I practice.

Kindergarten Registration

I registered H for kindergarten today at the neighborhood school. Holy cow, there were about fifty gazillion forms and I was scribbling notes like crazy on what the principal said, but I still felt disoriented and inept when it came time to turn in the forms.

We’ve been trying to decide where H should go for kindergarten for a year or so now. We could keep him at the school where he’s been for preschool, but that has three major drawbacks — (1) it’s private so it’s expensive, (2) it’s parochial, evangelical-style, and I’m not really into him attending a religious school as he gets older, and (3) in the upper grades the number of students is so tiny that I think it may be socially stunting. There are something like 8 students in some of the grades.

Another possibility is a school in our district that is one area over. They have a GT program from 1st grade on. I don’t know if H would test in or not, but it’s worth a shot. I went through a GT program and I really liked it. I don’t know what this school is like other than they are not friendly and open to a parent asking questions and/or wishing to visit and observe. They have a reputation for snobbishness. Normally I’d put that down to parents being kind of mad about maybe not having their children in the GT program, but based on my limited experience with them they may well be a pit of standoffishness. Anyway, there wasn’t room at that school, apparently, despite our having applied quite early in the year. He’s wait-listed. Is this insane, being wait-listed for a kindergarten? ‘Cause it feels like it to me.  I need to visit the school; I don’t know if I even think it would be a good place for H.

The third option and the one that’s tentatively chosen is the neighborhood school.  It’s a Title 1 school, meaning they have a large enough percentage of kids from low-income families to qualify for a lot of extra funding for extra aides, tutoring, ESL programs, stuff like that. I don’t think H really needs much of that, but I like the school’s atmosphere a lot and a diverse student population is good. They’re open and welcoming and the principal sets a good tone. I’ve met all the Kindergarten teachers and I like them and think H will like them too. The thing is, H is really passive and I worry that he’ll just totally fly under the teacher’s radar if he’s in a class with students who require a lot of attention (meaning, he may not get much attention). He’s not a super  highly motivated kiddo, so he might just sort of do the bare minimum and get overlooked in the shuffle. I’d like him to be in a class where curiosity is really encouraged. I don’t think the neighborhood school is the best bet that way. It has the advantages of a friendly, energetic atmosphere and being in the neighborhood so he should make some friends who live nearby. I don’t know. I just worry about my passive, cautious little guy. I worry about bullying and I worry about him just being sort of non-motivated and getting bored. A more mixed classroom would prepare him best socially, I think, but a fast-paced classroom would motivate him better mentally.

This decision is no fun. Maybe I should just chill and see how things go at the neighborhood school. After all, I really believe the mix of individual students in his class is a major determinant of how well he does, and that’s an unknown everywhere.

I’ve got to chill with the full weekends thing

Saturday: Helping to clean out my Aunt Bessie’s house. She passed away a couple of months ago. I don’t like the thought of taking stuff from a dead relative’s house; it just seems to vulture-like, but her sisters were clearly desperate to get it cleared out, so I took the sugar, a couple bags of flour, and a tiny food processor, which has now replaced our other tiny food processors. The basement is still nearly full, so hopefully Bessie’s sisters really will give me a call when they start hauling things up. They are both in their 80’s (I think) and they will definitely need some help. Bessie has a beautiful, huge fermentation crock down there (I have no spot for it, but I admire it). And a large amount of uneaten stored food.

For supper I got to go out with some old friends who were with me on a study-abroad in 1998. Only five of us were there, but it was really great to see them again. I haven’t seen Shulamit since maybe 1999 — not too sure. I didn’t catch some of the conversation, so I promised them I’d make an update-questionnaire to post on our Yahoo group so we could find out what’s up with the folks who didn’t make it.

Directly after we headed way out of town to a Star Party hosted by the local Astronomical Society. H is now proclaiming that he wants to be an astronomer when he grows up. He’s actually been saying that for a while (along with fireman) but he now says it with much greater conviction. I was very impressed with his understanding there as the society members let him look through their big telescopes and talked with him about what he was seeing. He was pretty excited about Saturn, I can tell you. Of course, who isn’t?

Sunday: We went on a family hike. This hike is notable because (1) it’s the first hike Baby C has been on, (2) it’s my first hike since before I was pregnant, which means about two years, and (3) it’s H’s first hike in which there was a specific goal to reach.


Here are the boys before things went a little wrong.

We headed for the Living Room in the front up behind the university. This is the first hike we ever took H on, too, actually. And the same thing happened — we took a wrong turn or two and ended up on a rocky spine, with me feeling a little hysterical, what with a young baby in a chest carrier. ridge_living-room-hike_041909_1 This time we got lost in a worse spot, and I decided not to go on. Clambering along this ridge would be fine without a baby, but with him, I just wasn’t willing:

So Brad and H went on without me and I climbed carefully back down the rocky scramble we’d already gone up. I saw them a few times along the ridge, going very slowly. H did a great job! He wasn’t scared and was very focused on getting to the goal. Here he is on one of the “chairs” at the Living Room, eating his lunch in triumph. h-at-the-living-room_041909_21

I am a total wimp — my legs are all sore today, and I gave myself a mild ankle sprain on the way down by not looking where I was putting my feet. All should be back to normal in a day or two, but I can see that I will need to ramp my hiking back up slowly this summer.

And for the record, to get to the Living Room, you take the second main turn-off from the Shoreline Trail, not the first.  You don’t head up the bottom of the ravine; rather along the south side.

Theme change

You’re in the right place, but I changed my theme.  This is one has a larger font that’s easier on the eyes, I hope.

Mispronunciation, Berries, and curiosity

H asked today, “Have you ever been to Schakaschko?” (I swear it sounded like there were sch’s in there)
Me: Where?
H: Schakaschko.
Me: I can’t really understand you.  Where?
H: Schakaschko (more forcefully)
Me: Costco?
H: No, SCHAKASCHKO (definitely irritated now)
Me: Chicago?
H: Oh, yeah.  Chicago.  Have you ever been there?

The answer to that question is no.  Where did he hear about Chicago?

These childish mispronunciations are charming to me.  I hope it doesn’t make me a bad parent that I don’t usually correct them.  Brad does, so H is getting an education in how to pronounce the English language from one parent, at least.

I took some pictures of canning efforts from the past week or so, but they look boringly like a handful of canning jars with dark liquid in them.  Just trust me that they exist — a few jars of blackberry jam, blackberry syrup, and cranberry syrup.  There was a ridiculous sale on blackberries;  I didn’t ever expect to make blackberry anything, frankly, because they are soooo expensive.  So I’m excited, okay?  Thanks to my sister for advice on how she makes her blackberry jam.  Saved me buying a special screen for my food mill and resulted in a perfect set-up.  Because I am sort of thrifty, I find great satisfaction in using leftover liquid for things like syrup and cannot believe I’ve thrown it out in the past.  I’m also glad to have a dehydrator now to use some of the remnants of juicing fruits for jelly (I just use a jelly bag for that, nothing fancy, so the solids leftover from juicing are still full of flavor and, unless they are also full of seeds or yucky bits, are good for making into fruit leather.  Very high fiber fruit leather.)  A canner and dehydrator complement each other well and reduce kitchen waste.  Not that I was in need of cranberry syrup. No one needs cranberry syrup.  However, since maple syrup prices shot up in the last couple of years, we have turned more to homemade fruit purees and syrups.

Baby C is becoming aggressively curious.  Tonight at a restaurant I was holding him on my lap after supper, enjoying an after-dinner coffee and I stopped paying attention for, oh, maybe four or five seconds.  Just long enough for him to grab the mug and pour it all over both of us (no burns). And here’s how he busied himself this week as I was putting away some laundry:

A big deadline passed this week at work.  I am relieved to have it over and to have the only response so far be satisfaction.  It was a scramble at the end.  I used to be able to keep a tighter leash on things, but now I don’t have as much time to document discussions, and things like this happen.  At least the deliverable was on time in the end.  I don’t have quite as much expected of me now as when I was working more like 24-30 hours a week, but man.  Almost.  I am fortunate that my co-workers were very helpful.  I am happy to have the opportunity to work from home, especially as many people have no such option.  But it can be stressful and delineating boundaries is much, much more difficult.


Because somebody cut that tulip.  And took it away with them.

Actually, this happens every year, and I forget about it until it happens again.  I spend about one day nearly homicidal over it, then that recedes into annoyance and resignation.  And then I forget.  I know all my neighbors in this building — if any of them did it, it would be from ignorance.  I’ll ask them as I see them, so if they did they will know they shouldn’t do it again.  I plant stuff out front for me and everyone else to enjoy, not for some one person to take and enjoy all by themselves where no one else can see.   Grr.  I don’t mind a bit of harvesting on the herbs out there.  One can’t very well expect not to share those, and I would like to share them, actually.  Just don’t mow them down completely, please, neighbors.   But what kind of cretin cuts a flower that isn’t theirs?

Before the coming storm


A good thing about having very little space for growing plants is that every individual one is cause for wonder.  Here’s the loveliest of the handful of Pink Impression tulips by the front door today; another cold wintry front is expected tomorrow, lasting several days.  The tulips are probably toast, but I’m glad they were so pretty at least for Easter and today.

In other business:

Baby C started eating squash today.  His digestive system seems to be a bit behind the curve — he has had minor difficulties with several foods so far.  Here’s hoping the squash works out.

H learned to roll down a hill with his arms tucked in so he can get a little speed.  Finally.  I’ve got a movie, but I discovered that I can only post two movies per month at a free Flickr page, and I’m not-a-gonna pay.  Maybe later.

And… the swiss chard seeds got planted today.

That is all.  First quarter just ended, so there will be beaucoup work this week.  Maybe no more posts.   My head’s down.