Friday, 30 June 2006

the crime

You can almost see the plotting going on in that curly head...
hose+ cold water+brothers legs = ???????

Two seconds later, C was yipping and diving out of the pool, and Rosey had the biggest Cheshire grin I've ever seen.

I guess it was her pool.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

cottage country

I miss Lake Michigan.

I do this periodically - I'll read a book or see a program that will whisk me back to memories of growing up within arms reach of fresh water. I miss the washed-clean smells, the lap of the waves, and the gentle hiss of the raindrops falling on calm waters. It was always there, a constant in my life I never realized I'd miss until I moved away.

God help me, I miss lake effect snowstorms. Eh, okay, maybe not so much.

I grew up in a small town, where my friends and I could grab our towels, run through the piney woods and be right there - leap off the boat dock and into the waves - usually freeze-your-heart cold, but so worth it. We had a favorite place to swim and usually had a couple of swimsuits drying in the shower (or flapping on the line) at any given time. Damp sandy towels and stray flip-flops were a given.

Moonlight swimming was the best once we realized boys could be fun too. Nothing more romantic than lying on a float offshore, listening to the waves slap the pontoons and pointing out constellations. I did a lot of shy hand-holding and some experimental necking those summers while bonfires on shore lit up the night.

I was also lucky enough to grow up in northern Michigan, where the Sleeping Bear Dunes were a quick trip away and carloads of us could play among the parks and hidey-places there. Somewhere (I'll bet I could still find it) just before the scenic drive starts is an abandoned area that used to be a water garden, with an area of land shaped like the hand of Michigan and fishponds surrounding it in the shapes of all the lakes around it filled with brightly flashing fish and fountains. It was filled in many years ago but the wildflowers have taken over and its still a magical place. There was a Dune Climb that we would skip school and go out by, toting picnic baskets and coolers, and a really gorgeous scenic drive.

The ocean is not the same.
It's spectacular - I still marvel that I live near! the! sea! but it doesn't smell the same and it's grander and slightly alien. Going for a swim here involves packing the car and a quick study of tides, not a care-free whoop of snagging towel and running for the water.
The spoils are different, too. Not so much beachglass (or any Petoskey stones), but small shells and banana leaf seaweeds. Crab claws instead of crayfish are the gulls' favorite snacks. Every once in awhile we'll see whales (whales! can you believe it?) but its' still so different.....and it makes me long for home and old friends.

I miss those big old sandy hills too.

Monday, 26 June 2006

wet feet and giggles

It rained again today.
The children have been seething towards a breaking point - videos and coloring and mechanical pencils (The Boy thought he was in gadget heaven) and sofa cushion forts weren't cutting it anymore by lunch, and after I found the bug spray, we rounded up sandals, banged out onto the sun porch, and stopped fast.

Because it was raining again.

This was not good. I corralled everyone back in and substituted making gingerbread, but there was a long protest from Miss R (known as The Pterodactyl Baby for the high-pitched screeches she makes when upset) and C was mulish.

And oh God, we're going into the terrible twos early and he's hitting a whiny stage, but that's going to be another post. Just know that I whimper sometimes when I'm alone.

I snuck a look out the side window. It looked clear. We saddled up, stepped out onto the porch and it was still raining. Sheeting down.

Well, hell. It was warm out, and they had rubber boots and umbrellas, so.....why not?

So today we splashed along and stepped in all the puddles. I taught C about Indian Paintbrushes and Queen Anne's Lace, and he found a feather and a butterfly and three bottle caps. Miss R babbled and gestured at everything from her stroller. We saw some ducklings with their Mama and tossed rocks over the side of the old bridge .

It was a good day.

Running ahead....

Rosey's chariot

Saturday, 24 June 2006

weekend goodies

  • C, running into the room with a red towel wrapped around his shoulders - "I'm Superman from the planet Chocolate!"
  • R eyes the sleeve of saltines. "Kuh! Kuh!" Then, with a definate A-ha! note to her voice, warbles "Kwak-ahhh!" This is the new buzzword - I can hear her singing it softly to herself in her crib now, still with the surprised intonation and the long ahhhhh!
  • I'm staying mum on the turtle situation. Thanks. Although now I keep giggling to myself about Norwegian Blues. ('E's restin'!)
  • What does one do with three-quarters of a big jar of apricot preserves? I made this terrific chicken recipe, but the kids are unimpressed with it spread on toast (the jam, not the chicken!) and I'm stuck.
  • I was cutting up steak bits today in the kitchen and absent-mindedly patted my hip and whistled Here, boy, so I think my slight wishing for a dog is coming to the forefront.
  • I'd better go. C is shouting bits of the movie he's watching up the stairs (y'know, so I don't miss any) and the movie I hear and the movie he tells me about bear very little resemblence to each other.
  • Oh, and we're out of calamine lotion. Don't ask!!

Friday, 23 June 2006

internet, what do I doooo?

I talked to our lovely neighbor yesterday. Turns out she was in her garden, (and this woman can garden - her yard is gorgeous) saw the turtle get hit, and put it down over the bank so C wouldn't have to look at it.

She remembers where it ended up.

BUT...... it isn't there anymore.

We don't have a lot (struggling to think of any) big animals around here that would drag something like that away. There was a lot of blood, but as my neighbor said "I can never tell if they're dead or not because they just lay there when they're stunned" so she tipped it up on a shovel (which is the only way you're supposed to handle snapping turtles, apparently) and put it down in some long grass. She's a very kind woman.

My dilemma -

C thinks the turtle is dead. Do I tell him that Neighbor said it was gone? Let him think that it might be back? He has a shaky idea of death - if the turtle shows up and he recognizes it, (remember it has red paint on its shell) is this going to push him into more "When God is done with Kansas, can we have him back?" type questions?

And if I don't tell him and it shows up, how on earth do I explain that God lets turtles come back to life, but nixes favorite cats?

And if I do tell him and it doesn't show up, how long is he going to hope it will?

You see my dilemma.

Y'know, they don't tell you about these things when you decide to have children.

Next up: How many kites can we get in the air at once? Any? None? Stay tuned!

Thursday, 22 June 2006

background music: Alannis Morissette, Ironic

A bad-Midas day here today. Everything I did or touched either fell apart or ended up being a bad idea. Thank goodness Bear has to work tonight - I might break him too. (Um, I have to take time off - my wife broke me.)

Yesterday I went to the hospital to see my doctor after office hours and found out what I assumed was a pulled muscle in the middle of my chest (R is getting to be a bigger sack of potatoes) was actually the muscles in my chest aching because they were trying to expand my lungs. My very first asthma attack, and not a wheeze out of me! I survived the vile-smelling masks and the resultant shakes afterwards, and slept like a log last night.

Today? I wake up, roll over, go to get my glasses off the nighttable and... drop my inhaler three feet (maybe) to the ground and break it. Teeny tiny pieces.

The kids were playing in the bathroom and dumped my shampoo, my face scrub, and my body wash in the tub. I really don't recommend trying to grab a gloppy handful like I did - I'm still picking bits of crushed apricot pit out of my hair. But I do smell squeaky clean.

I mopped the floor. Ten minutes later the cat threw up on it.

C broke his sandal, so off we went for replacements. He deliberated over every pair there before choosing one. While waiting in line to check out I looked down and realized the shoes he really liked had pink writing on the soles that read "Rachel II". Yup, girls shoes. C was horrified.

The ones he (grudgingly) settled on don't have the usual strap-behind-the-ankle and are useless for running or jumping or bike riding, so I suspect we'll be back looking for more soon.

C really really really wanted to go for a bike ride. It was later than I would have liked but why not? Tossed R in the stroller and off we went. He was having a great time and so was I until R started crying and waving her hands around and I noticed the black flies love them some little girl. I reached in the stroller bag (prepared! I come prepared!) and realized I'd emptied the bag last week.

We saw a turtle on the way back - a little painted turtle, which are lovely and not scary and often kept as pets - and C was nonplussed. I think the smallness of it scared him - it was very different than the turtle he was used to.

Lovely long baths, nice snuggling while reading books, then bed - even a request from my son to sing to him before he went to sleep. This night might end well after all!

I was halfway through the song when his sleepy voice came out of the darkness. "Sing it gooder, Mommy."

I want a do-over. And a cupcake.

Thank God tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

mad this morning

Stupid thoughtless careless drivers.

We live near a river. Every year around this time, the turtles begin digging nests for their eggs. We have one old woman who digs her nest in the soft gravel on the side of the road here. Cass gets really excited when he sees her. We go out and take pictures and comment on how much she looks like an alligator, with her wicked bill and her long tail and those stubby sharp claws. We wonder what happened to her since the last time we saw her, and why there is still (after five years)red paint peeling off the back of her shell. I like the continuity of it, that she comes back here, and we talk about the circle of life and homing instincts.

Well, we did.

This morning, C hollered that the turtle was across the road. We hurried and got dressed. While we were hunting for my camera I heard a thump-crack noise - peering out, I saw our turtle had ventured out on the road and gotten hit. And was pretty obviously dead. (Turtle blood is red, in case you were wondering.)

I still can't wrap my head around this. She was easily 16-18 inches long, and probably 5-6 inches high (a real grande dame of turtle age-dom) - how did someone hit her? Two options come to mind:

The driver wasn't paying attention.
What the hell were they doing that was so important that they didn't see something the size of a small boulder in their way? Makes me re-think letting my kids out to play.

The driver deliberately hit her.
There are sick, sad people in this world. I just wasn't aware any of them were living close to me.

Last year:

I need to go and try to convince C that we can't dig up the eggs and rescue them.
(They don't hatch, they never hatch - her favorite nesting site gets too much of the road salt.)

Which is another senseless and stupid thing for me to get upset about.

Monday, 19 June 2006

i think my ears are bleeding

Cass never went through that toddler stage where every word out of his mouth was 'why?' We thought we were just doing a great job of explaining everything to him.

We were such fools.

Cass still never asks why. Cass knows. And Cass will tell you. In excruciating detail.

Mama, the dinosaurs? In the movie? They climbed up a big hill but the one fell in the water and the men dug its bones out and now it's in a museum. The museum, is that where we saw the big boats and the fishtanks? I don't remember seeing any dinosaur bones there. Was that part closed? Maybe we left too early. The man at the museum said I could pet the starfish, but I didn't want to. It didn't look like a star. Does that man take care of the dinosaur? The dinosaur would scare Rosey. It had big teeth and a big horn. Did the dinosaurs play games?
Can we go to the museum?? I want to see the starfish again. Do you think there are any dinosaurs in our backyard?

There's oh so much more but I need to go sit by myself somewhere quiet for awhile.....

Sunday, 18 June 2006

daddy love

Thank you is simple and true and doesn't feel like enough.

So let me say -
I hope our children grow up to have

your loyalty and courage,

your fairness and persistence,

and your absolute code of honor.*

I watch you with them and it fills me with complete love and joy.

Happy Fathers Day, Bear! Me and he and she love thee.

*although I kinda hope they get their humor from me.

Saturday, 17 June 2006

going to be a wet and sandy summer

This morning I finished the bulletins. They were done late this week because of the storm - trying to work with a computer and printer during a power outage doesn't work so well. We have a guest speaker coming in again - something that almost automatically means the service will run long, with much speechifying, so it took awhile.

People are so flattered when they are asked to lead a service. I think they set out not only to prove how pleased and proud they are, but how their service will light us all on fire with the almighty grace (and sheer volume) of their prose. My grandfather would have said that this weeks' was a 'crick-in-the-neck sermon' - a lot of praying.

So I raced home after I was done, to corral kids and toss things in a bag, (Does anyone remember where we put the sunscreen last fall?) then we were off! First, errands, then... to the beach!

We were too late for the kite festival, but we took a shot at flying a kite, then Cass shucked off (I was showing R how to hold the kite when Bear's horrified voice said "What is he doing?" I glanced over and look! A naked boy running for the water!
C was quite put out that we wouldn't let him go in the ocean without his shorts on.) and the wave chasing began.

There were enough kids there that C soon made friends and R re-discovered the sea, and this year, she likes it very much, thank you. I tried hard to get some good pictures of her but she was all shrieks and chortles of glee and didn't want to stand still, didn't want to do anything but run back and forth in the waves.
And who could blame her? She filled her pockets with pretty stones and shells and ran her little legs off.

These pictures don't show it, but the sand shimmers - it's full of mica bits that made me think I should try panning for gold.

Cass loves the beach. It's hard being almost-five, and sharing everything with your sister is a real drag sometimes, and the beach is big and open and all his.

We finally came home, salty and sandy, falling asleep tired with sunscreen mooshed in our hair, and now I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

sometimes he thinks I'm a little odd

And while the rain was pouring, the tides were rising, and the basements (still not mine!) were flooding, Bear was out helping folks with generators and pumps and things. Because that's the swell kind of guy he is.

Unfortunately, most of the generators, gasoline-powered pumps and whatnots all needed to be started with the same motion (the cross-body zzzing! of a lawnmower pull cord) and that's something that gets B in trouble everytime. He was groaning in the shower - Ohhh! I've got something done to my back! - and I started hunting through the medicine cabinet, because that's the kind of pill-pushing girl I....ahem. I started looking through the medicine cabinet, searching for the remnants of wraps and ointments and braces from the last time he put his back out.

He headed downstars to ferret out some anti-inflammatories. When he huffed his way to the top of the stairs and groaned his way into bed, I sang out as he turned out his light:

Honey? I found the rub-ass!

The light clicked back on. He peered at me. 'The what?'
The rub-ass. Do you want me to put some on you?
He snorted. 'Right. Um, Jess, my back hurts.'

I turn a very deep shade of fushia when I blush.
Not that! The rub-ass! You know, the cream....the smelly cream.....


'Oh!' my husband said, brightly. 'No, I don't want to smell like wintergreen tomorrow.'

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you.....

*Truthfully, I don't know if this is a strictly Canadian product or not. Like Buckleys Cough Syrup, it may not have made its way past the borders yet. If you haven't seen this in your stores yet (or the truly horrible 'dancing muscle' commercial on tv) - count yourself lucky. It's like Ben-Gay on steroids. Stinky, but effective.

weather report

The winds are wurfling 'round the house tonight - we're getting a glancing blow of Alberto's. The power has been on and off all day, and the driving rain is beginning to flood basements (not mine!)and make for soggy, slippery ground. Today I'm glad we have the woodstove (which B doesn't hear too often!) - it's so nice to sit, toasty warm, and watch the rain stream down the windows!

Now when does summer begin, 'zactly?

Tuesday, 13 June 2006


I left work, picked up the kids and sped off to do errands in the midst of a torrential (but thankfully brief) thunderstorm. By the time we were through the grocery store it was beginning to let up, and when we hit home it was just spitting. The kidlets were upset that they wouldn't get to go play in the rain with their umbrellas (ha, says Mean Old Mama, ha!) and whined about the thunder. I was pretty sure it was going to be a long night.

But the skies cleared.

Amazingly, right now the sun is shining through my window, there is a symphony of birds, a lovely blue sky with fluffy clouds, and a soft steady rain just rustling the leaves.

And four rainbows arching up through the sky.

What a magical night.

Monday, 12 June 2006

missing a few knobs and bells

The hardest thing about parenting (so far!) is that neither of them came with a meter or any kind of button (believe me, I've looked) that would tell me when something I'm doing is going to stick. It would be nice to have that for the good stuff (glowing green, perhaps?)- for bedtime stories, kisses, the special songs, bike rides - but would even be more helpful to me for the bad things (red, deep and scary red) - the times I yell, or that spanking back in January, or when Bear gets short-tempered and terse. Will Cass remember any of that? What are we doing that will follow him forever?

I worry about these things. I'm not a big Dr.Phil fan, but he says something about 'writing on the slate of his life' that haunts me after a day when we've all been crabby and cross with each other and stops me sometimes when I have my mouth open to yell.

Neither one of the kids have any graduation meters, no strips that shade from white to black that would let me know when I'm getting to the danger level of saying (or not saying) something that would subtly change them.

I look at my son, who is bright joy personified, and I think: What if something I say blows the candle out on all this happiness? Because I'm aware it only takes one careless word, something not even meant to hurt, to dim that light.

I'm still looking, though. Somewhere in that pile of papers I brought home from the hospital, I'm hoping to find the instruction manual. Maybe I've just overlooked it.

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Saturday, 10 June 2006



Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Somehow, this makes me sound as if I should be starring in a Tampax commercial, leaping through daisies.

poking around

The local pulp mill owns this park, one of a few they maintain in the area. We went the long route around yesterday, looking for 'monsters and lizards and stuff' - and found rhododendrons, lady slippers, and towering trees-

There are simple log seats scattered about, good for not-tired adventurers.

Amazing things wherever you look:

And the flowers smell good.

Friday, 9 June 2006

day late, a few houseplants short

for Blackbird:


The sum total of houseplants here at the daygobys:

Three (3) avocado pits: one planted pointy side up, one pointy side down, and one wrapped in wet paper toweling in a plastic bag. (If anyone knows the secret words to whisper to these damned things to make them grow, could they let me know? Thanks.)
and two sprigs of something pretty rooted in water that I want to get bigger before they have to face the cat.

As a side-note, why does the mad spellcheck fail to recognise houseplants and suggest housewifeliness?

Thursday, 8 June 2006

nursery tapes

When Cass was born, friends sent us the Baby Einstein videos. I think I had them out twice - he wasn't interested, and sitting with him in my lap trying to interest him in the television just felt wrong. The Einies got packed away.

I hunted them out awhile ago to give away - I thought I got them all, but C brought me one yesterday from the sun porch.

Here, mommy. It's Rosey's movie.

So we flipped it on. Yes, I remember the colorful toys. And the plinky-plonky music.

A plush robotic cat stiff-legged it across the screen, meowing. R turned to me, her face lighting up. Kee! Kee! Kee-tee!
I beamed. Rosey turned back excitedly.

And a woman's voice began speaking in Japanese.

R frowned, her lips trying to shape the unfamiliar words. I was momentarily proud, thinking "My bilingual baby! She's so smart!" until the realization hit me that CRAP! This was the child with speech problems and probably just learning to speak English was enough of a challenge for right now.

I hope my kids remember their mother laughing, even though they might never understand why.....

Monday, 5 June 2006

the shrieker

Ohhhh my godddd.

C was loud today and woke R up early from her nap. So about 6:30 (an hour before we usually start with her bath) she had a flat-out tantrum and went to the bottom of the stairs and banged on the gate, which is code for I want to go to bed!
I put her in her bath, where she played happily for about twenty minutes and then yawned and got out. We brushed teeth, I sang to her, and she was all sleepy smiles and kisses until she realized I was going to put her in her crib. And then her head twisted all the way around and the windows exploded out of my house from the sheer volume of her wails.

The kid has got pipes.

After C's shower, I rescued her and we all read books - then we did the normal goodnight things and then - it was time for sleepy children to go to bed.

Not so much.

She has been in there for two hours, alternately fretting and working herself into a snit, then calming down until...gee, I don't know, one of the cats breathes?...and then winding herself back up to a fury again.

I hate it when she gets overtired.


for Julia -

Want to play? Go here for the rules.

Saturday, 3 June 2006

george and georgina of the jungle

Today it rained, steadily, foiling all plans to get outside. Tomorrow I'm afraid I'm going to have to let them run laps around the house to burn off energy.

Yesterday, it was grey and cloudy and threatening-to-rain but didn't most of the day, so we got in a little jungle gym time:

B has continued cleaning and errand-ing and amazing me.

I could learn to enjoy being married to a pod person.

Now, if only it would stop raining so I could ask him to paint the house.

Thursday, 1 June 2006

who are you, and where is my husband?

I came home from work today and the house was sparkling clean.

Okay, Bear didn't do that - the cleaner did that. But what he did was:

Went to the market, buying everything on a two page list
Put all the groceries away
Purchased a money order for me (ah, the seductive power of e-bay!) and mailed it
Took a bag full of clothes to the post office, bought a padded envelope, stuffed them in, and mailed my package to the States
Called the doctor (we needed refills)
Picked the meds up at the pharmacy
Cleaned out his car
Re-wired the radio in his car
Mowed most of the lawn

All of this without a grumble.
What do I check to make sure he hasn't become a pod person?

literate spam

The spam e-mails here have me perplexed. Three separate messages, identical products being sold, all three with bizarre subject lines and bits of Anna Karenina. What is happening when Russian novels are used to sell arousal medication?
The subject lines are:
Phsycology is the study of everyone's bullshit (Look, look! Tom Cruise sent me e-mail!)
Stupidity killed the cat. Curiosity was framed
and, finally:
Life is a sexually transmitted disease, and it's 100% fatal
The writing in the body of the messages are all different parts of the novel - I only reproduced one here:
As usual, too, his wife had moved for the summer to a villa out of town, while he remained in Petersburg. From the date of their conversation after the party at Princess Tverskaya's he had never spoken again to Anna of his suspicions and his jealousies, and that habitual tone of his bantering mimicry was the most convenient tone possible for his present attitude to his wife. He was a little colder to his wife. He simply seemed to be slightly displeased with her for that first midnight conversation, which she had repelled. In his attitude to her there was a shade of vexation, but nothing more. "You would not be open with me," he seemed to say, mentally addressing her; "so much the worse for you. Now you may beg as you please, but I won't be open with you. So much the worse for you!" he said mentally, like a man who, after vainly attempting to extinguish a fire, should fly in a rage with his vain efforts and say, "Oh, very well then! you shall burn for this!" This man, so subtle and astute in official life, did not realize all the senselessness of such an attitude to his wife. He did not realize it, because it was too terrible to him to realize his actual position, and he shut down and locked and sealed up in his heart that secret place where lay hid his feelings towards his family, that is, his wife and son. He who had been such a careful father, had from the end of that winter become peculiarly frigid to his son, and adopted to him just the same bantering tone he used with his wife. "Aha, young man!" was the greeting with which he met him. Alexey Alexandrovitch asserted and believed that he had never in any previous year had so much official business as that year.

I understand the spam concept. But Anna Karenina? Seriously, the target audience is someone who reads Russian novels and needs help in the bedroom?


I took about a hundred names off my facebook friend list tonight. Really, it went surprisingly quickly, with only a few 'who was this ag...