Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We Had Snow Today

If you want to make it rain, wash your car.

If you want to make it snow, publicly admit that you are trying to raise a garden.

Monday was 78 degrees, and tonight it is supposed to freeze. I admit, I am no gardener and no one has ever accused me of having so much as a green thumbnail, but I think Mother Nature is going out of her way to defeat our gardening attempts this year. I can't even figure out how to prepare myself for this weather, going to work with an assortment of coats & sweaters and short sleeve shirts, and being 37 I've had a lot more practice at that--how would I know how to get a garden through this? The heat/air conditioning in our office has totally given up--heat one minute, air the next, and half the office complaining of heat stroke while the other half types with mittens.

Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Forget Global Warming. This year we have Global Menopause.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It might be time

I admit, the sewing room has lately achieved a level of chaos that can only be described as "extreme crafting." When the cats join me for an evening, they can only be located by the jingle of cat bells. I have kept saying, "I just need to finish one more project, then I'll tidy up," and "Just let me finish this one," but I assure you I have had the best of intentions. Tonight I just finished up a birthday gift (5 days early, mind you), and was just starting to work on another birthday gift (2 1/2 months late, but it's wrong to fixate on these things), when I somehow knocked a pair of heavy scissors, which were obviously not where they are supposed to be, off a table and.....WHAM!

When the sewing room decides to strike back, it's probably time to clean--as soon as I'm done icing my foot....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stocking Up

This
has become our "stockpile" pile. Admittedly, the canning jars are REALLY optimistic, considering this
is how well our current round of plants is doing. Nothing green is growing, but there is some white fluffy stuff we assume to be mold. Somewhere along the way we lost the instructions, and my memory was not nearly as good as we had hoped. So, the big debate that rages now--do vegetable plants count as "things" or "food?"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

There Is an Art

Thisis not a magazine and an empty oatmeal container. This is a rodent removal system. This sophisticated mechanism--clamp the oatmeal container on top of the rodent, then slide the magazine underneath container and rodent--has removed 7 or 8 creatures from our bedroom already this year. The magic of this system is its flexibility. For live, relatively unhurt animals, it keeps them contained until they can be flung over the back fence into the communal "park" behind us, where they have a sporting chance of relocating before being found by a cat again. For obviously injured vermin, it allows soft-hearted people who are unable to put them out of their misery to fling them out the front door. If the fright of being suddenly airborne doesn't finish them off, the subsequent bounce on the pavement does the trick.

This is going to be a very long summer......

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day

When there are has been a divorce involving children, one parent often tries to turn the children against the other parent. The hostile parent can be the mother or the father. It occurs so regularly that it is now referred to as "Parent Alienation."

For information about parent alienation and the awareness day, visit here. If you have experienced hostile parenting, either as the alienated parent or the child, please send them your story. Currently, our laws and our society do little or nothing about protecting the child or the other parent, especially if it is the father. These situations exist, they are a nightmare to live through, and it is time they stop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If You Weren't Allowed To Buy Anything For 90 Days....

What would you wish you had stockpiled ahead of time?

This month we've rounded up envelopes, pens, thread, fuses for my car (a quirky little issue my car came up with last month wherein I lose all my gauges and get to guess how fast I'm going by how quickly I pass things), STAMPS, tape of all kinds, canning jars (pretty optimistic considering we already killed the first garden attempt), light bulbs, lacquer thinner (I don't actually know what we're doing with this, but we must have lacquer that's a bit on the pudgy side), and we have double-checked the epoxy supplies. I've checked our respective sock/underwear stashes and have come to the conclusion that the college student impulse to delay laundry as long as possible by buying underwear is a habit quite difficult to shake. We have preordered the gifts for birthdays/graduations/weddings that we know will occur during the ban.

Just over two weeks to go, and I know there's something really big I'm forgetting.....which will be really stinkin' obvious in three weeks....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Online Knitting World Really is Entertaining

While technically I am a member of "Generation X" and we are the first true computer generation (punch cards do not count), I still find it a bit odd sometimes that there are actual communities that exist only "online." While I, in fact, have gotten totally "hip" and "with it" and am part of the virtual knitting world [laughter finally fades], I still struggle with the idea that I "know" people--what they are knitting on, how many tetanus shots they have had to get after impalement by sock needles, whether they are "natural fiberists" or "acrylic lovers" (a VERY hot topic amongst knitters--a guaranteed cure for insomnia amongst anyone else), the yarns they would be tempted to sell their spouses for--yet I have no idea what they actually look like or whether they are really doing all that knitting themselves. Maybe they have stunt doubles? Which isn't actually a bad idea when working with any needles smaller than size 2, come to think of it....

Why would I join such an online community? Because they are an insatiably fun & clever group. Today a very clever knitter announced "Murder by Lace," which sounds like a Victorian Novel or perhaps a newspaper headline regarding someone finally pushed over the edge by the Mystery Stole 3. It's actually based on SOCK WARS--a world-wide game last year where knitters "killed" each other by knitting socks & mailing them to their "victim" before the "victim" could send theirs off to his or her intended victim. Blogs across the world carried "death by sock" pictures and it was featured in several newspapers. I believe no lasting injuries were received, unless you count receiving pink lacy socks.

Murder by Lace will require participants to email pictures to the judge, and the first picture received in each group will kill off all the other members of that group. As much as the Type A in me LOVES the idea of competitive knitting, I won't be participating. Since I work full time, I would be nothing but a sitting (knitting?) duck, and I just can't ask my company for time off so I can murder someone with knitting. I think that would be a fast track to unemployment. :(

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Countdown and the Pressure is ON!!!

19 days left before the spending ban begins AND to find $10 worth of totally useless, pointless, money-poorly-spent articles. The pressure is on, as Andy has already said he has found the "perfect" item. A nicer person might let him win--especially to gain favor after the last post (although he who leaves an empty toilet paper roll in our house should know he would end up on the blog)--but I am insanely competitive when it comes to anything completely stupid or pointless. Board games, I'm good--I can win or lose with grace, but it we ever decide to start something completely ridiculous like the Interspecies Battle of the Sexes in Chateau G-S, Calisto and I are TOTALLY kicking butt.

I found one contender,a football snack bowl that plays some sort of music when it opens, but unfortunately even on clearance it would be more than $10--which baffles the imagination, but rules are rules. I think I'm going to have to visit....THE DOLLAR STORES. All is fair in love & competitive spending......

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our nation's troubles are over

Enough with Homeland Security, the military reserves, the Army, the Navy, the Marines--no more border patrol and FBI--we no longer need it. I have discovered the PERFECT security system.

We line our borders with these:
They obviously stop men dead in their tracks.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

OK, it wasn't quite spring

New lesson learned: Just because it's mid-April, doesn't mean it's actually spring.

It has been unseasonably cold this week (or I guess I should say, colder than the past weekend was, because until about June 3 we can pretty much expect anything in the weather department), so we decided to leave the makeshift coldframe up.

To be fair, I don't think any of the plants froze--I think they were cooked to death. A cucumber:

The plant formerly know as "tomato"And the bell pepper:
The peas, not being covered, actually faired better

or, at least some of them did
and this would be the basil
if it had lived.

My assistant gardeners--
I'm not going to explain their "contribution" to the process.

Looks like we'll be doing a Round Two of the peat pod disks this weekend, which will make nice inside work as it is supposed to snow on Saturday. Have I missed the memo? Did we call off Global Warming?

Monday, April 14, 2008

26 Days to Go!

In 26 short days, Andy's career at Micron will be over, and the 90-day "Can't Buy Anything New" experiment kicks off.

To "celebrate," I went to the bank this week and got:
Between now and the 9th, we each get $50. $40 to spend on anything we want (as I feel a little self-bribery might be in order), and $10 on the most foolish, useless, "Americans-will-buy-anything" item we can find. The winner gets dinner.

The lengths I will go to for a little adventure on a budget....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

OMG!

In general, I have found this a pretty interesting book.
OK, sometimes I have doubted the author's sanity (fruit "leather" made with cottage cheese? Do you really want to see that stuff dehydrated????), and have certainly wondered if anyone visited her house for dinner more than once (dried pickles??????), but today our relationship reached a new level.

Dehydrated bacon.

Bananas, our Appalachian Trail hiker, has discovered that some of her problems early-on in the hike were due to not consuming enough calories (yeah, when was the last time most of us had THAT problem?). So, I was flipping through Mary Bell's book and found a section on dehydrating bacon. Perfect! What food packs more calories than bacon?

Her instructions call for cooking the bacon until crisp, draining it on a paper towel, then dehydrating it until it crumbles easily, making sure to regularly wipe the excess grease off of it. Alrighty.

You know how things sound much better in theory? Well, as I was cooking the first pound of bacon, I realized I wouldn't even fill one tray in the dehydrator, so I sent Andy to the store for 5 more pounds of bacon. That's right--6 pounds of bacon. Enough to make 12 ounces of dehydrated bacon bits. Know what happens to the remaining 5 pounds 4 ounces? Part of it becomes hickory scented grease vapor that permeates every inch of a house, leaving it smelling like a greasy-spoon out of one of those 70's trucker flicks. Another part of it solidifies onto the poor sap cooking it--I left an oil slick in the pool at my gym this afternoon--even after a pre-swim shower. Part of it coats every single surface in the kitchen, and the remainder forms an oily substance that can't go down the drain, into the ground, and can't go in the garbage until it solidifies into an even more disgusting substance.

7 hours later, it's still in the dehydrator because since the instructions said to cook until crisp, the bacon actually crumbled easily BEFORE it went in the dehydrator, and as that was our only "doneness" test, we have no way of knowing when it's actually dried long enough.

I just know there's a way to make 12 ounces of dried bacon last the remaining 4 1/2 months of her hike, or at least long enough for us to forget enough of this little episode to try it again.......

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring?

Today it's almost 70 degrees. Yesterday we woke up to frost. Wednesday we woke up to snow. Hello Mother Nature--PICK A SEASON!!!!

Since it's mid April and the little plant starts--especially the peas--are becoming a bit problematic, we decided to take our chances and put the garden in today. Andy has a back-up plan in place--

a make-shift cold frame. This high-tech setup is basically tubing and plastic drop-cloths, and should work nicely. I also asked my inventive spouse for a frame of some sort for the peas to climb and...You can't really see it clearly, but the peas have an entire jungle-gym setup here--twine criss-crossed everywhere and held in place by little grooves on the poles. Our peas can get an entire high-wire act going with this thing.

I planted an insane amount of tomato plants...

or it would be an insane number if I didn't regularly kill tomato plants. As it is, we will not be needing to do anonymous midnight tomato drops around the neighborhood. We'll leave that option for someone foolish enough to plant zucchini.

Did I mention I am a cucumber fanatic?

Actually, the NINE cucumber plants were Andy's idea. Fresh cucumbers are one of my all-time favorite foods, and evidently, I have not really been good about sharing. This way, Andy figures he can get a few once in a while. We'll see.

Everything seems to have survived the transplantation well, except the kohlrabi.

It's a bit hard to see, but not a single plant is vertical. We gave them a little Miracle Grow and will hope for the best.

After getting shot by the hose, Theo supervised from a safe distance.

And I am happy to report he has not presented us with any rodents--dead or alive--since Thursday night. So all in all, a great weekend, and a projected 75 degrees tomorrow!

Coping With a Hostile Ex Wife, Part Three

NOTE: I am not an attorney, psychologist, counselor or therapist. These are simply my suggestions and thoughts having dealt with a hostile ex-wife for the last 3 years.

So, what if you are the new wife or girlfriend of a man with a bitter ex wife? How do you cope?

First--if you are dating, make sure the divorce has been final for at least a year before getting involved with anyone--male or female. There is a grieving process, and even mentally healthy people can experience anger and bitterness over a recent divorce, so give everyone time to heal and move on. Normal people will generally be over it and moved on after about a year.

Second--if you are dating, find out if the ex wife has moved on. Does she work? Have friends? Is she remarried? Dating? Some women do manage to remain bitter & hostile even after remarrying, but a woman who is working, remarried, and has a life of her own is far less likely to be a problem. In the cases I'm familiar with, the ex wife continues to need to blame the ex husband for her unhappiness, no matter how long ago the relationship ended.

Third--if you are dating a man with an ex wife, be respectful of legitimate boundaries. It can be hard for children to have people entering & leaving their lives regularly, so the ex-spouses may have agreed to not introduce the child to a new love interest until the relationship is solid & looks like it could be permanent. That is a fair request. In our case, they had determined ahead of time that a relationship had to last 6 months until their son could meet anyone. That was fine. Red flags burst out when WAY before the 6 month mark was even reached, Andy started receiving hostile emails from the ex about me--threatening that he didn't ever want her to meet me, then she demanded to meet me before I met their son, she sent hostile emails saying the son was never to come to my house, I was never to be in the car during drop offs, that their son was "upset" and that he wasn't ready to meet anyone new, sending "statistics" on how many second marriages fail (my personal favorite), long tirades about how much she had worked at their relationship & how much he had hurt her, long blathering emails about how much she had loved him, and on and on and on. Obviously, this woman was trying to control Andy's life and stop him from moving on. THAT is not normal behavior--THAT is a bitter ex wife.

NOTHING ABOUT YOU OR YOUR LIFE WITH THIS MAN IS ANY OF THE EX-WIFE'S BUSINESS. Period. You and your boyfriend/fiance/husband need to be clear on this point. If he cannot stand up to the ex wife, it is time for counseling FOR BOTH OF YOU. You may be dealing with someone who has been emotionally, verbally, or physically abused. Women do abuse men, though there are far fewer resources for men. For information, visit:

www.batteredmen.com
verbalabuseofmen.com

Fourth--ask to see the communications with the ex wife. If you are seriously considering marriage, you are about to become part of the equation, and before making that decision, you need all the information. If this man is being verbally abused, he may have a long history of hiding the abuse--even from you. Even though I had long suspected Andy had been a victim of emotional and verbal abuse, I was astounded at the viciousness of many of the emails he had received since the divorce and since I entered his life.

Fifth--make an effort. Attempt to establish a working relationship with the ex wife. I know that sounds difficult, but sometimes marriages have gone so badly and there is so much bad feeling that neither party can ever deal with the other one calmly. Offer to be the contact point for the ex wife in order to put a buffer between them. I can't say that it actually made a difference for us in the long run, but I know in my own heart that I have always been civil, I made the effort, and that there just isn't a way to cope with her.

Sixth--If you do move forward with your relationship, get a support group of other women who have been coping with a hostile ex wife already. You will need someone to help you through this, and if they have already survived a similar situation, it will bring a little perspective to your life.

Seventh--Your relationship with this man is going to require more work, more understand, and more love than most marriages. The ex wife may have more control over him than you do--especially if there has been a history of verbal abuse. Fear is a more powerful motivator than desire for gain, and there will be times when he will choose to do something that may hurt you because he is more afraid of making her angry than of hurting you or making you angry. My advice is to see a counselor immediately--he needs to learn about establishing boundaries, and you need to understand what he has been through. BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL TO NOT DUPLICATE HER BEHAVIOR. If you are angry with something he has done, make sure you address the action and not the person. There can be some very deep wounds there. It will get better. Once he learns that you can be angry with something he did without attacking him as a person, once he trusts that you mean it when you say it is okay to do something at that you aren't just setting him up to yell at him later, and once he learns that you continue to love him unconditionally, he will learn to trust you and you can build your relationship together.

To be continued......

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lesson of the Week: You Can Get Used To Anything

I admit, earlier in the week there was some screaming, jumping onto furniture, and loud swearing over the vermin gifts from Theo. Last night, when he deposited a dead vole at my feet under the dinner table, Andy and I had a calm discussion of whether it was a mole, vole, mouse, or some other creature. I cannot believe I have grown accustomed to THIS!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Moles & Snow

Last night we actually had TWO moles in the house, courtesy of Theo, and I went to bed wishing it were still winter.

This morning we woke up to this:
Blast it! If I'd have known the universe was going to actually grant me a wish, I would have wished for something much better--like being able to eat pizza all the time without my butt getting bigger. Rats!

In other news, exactly a month from today will kick off our 90-day "can't buy anything new" project (well, and the end of Andy's job after 18 years, his possible unemployment, and potentially a new project called how-do-you-find-enough-things-
-around-the-house-to-keep-Andy-occupied?) The rules will be the same as during our one-month experiment (see here.) Since it's a much longer time frame, we're thinking we need a good ceremonial kickoff--maybe we each get $10 to buy the dumbest, most useless, unnecessary thing(s) we can find?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And Tonight It Was a Mole in the Sewing Room

Dead, thankfully, but when your cat starts flinging it around, dead doesn't seem to matter much.

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry that I complained about winter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Well, Guess Who's the Best Mouser In the House...

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I am.

When I left for work this morning, the Theo had lost the mouse in a pile of clothes we're getting ready to donate to the Idaho Youth Ranch, but was waiting patiently to catch it again.

When I got home, the mouse was curled up in front of the fireplace downstairswhile our brave protectors were snoozing upstairs amid the knitting project sorting.
With the aid of an empty Quaker Oats can, I caught the little vermin and flung him into the park behind our house.

Nobody is getting cat treats tonight. I'm the only one who earned them.

Spring Has Definitely Arrived

The neighbors have tulips and daffodils. We have our first mouse--courtesy of Theo. To be fair, I think the cat door idea was mine, but then again, I am not known for my really good ideas. It has been nice to not need to clean litterboxes all the time, but compared with walking down a dark hallway at 5:30 in the morning and seeing a piece of the carpet move out of the corner of your eye.....litterboxes are sounding fabulous.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Getting Things Done

My idea of a good weekend is to have GOTTEN THINGS DONE. This is a very big thing to me--especially if there is a list involved and I have crossed things off. Just thinking about it gives me chills.

So, this weekend's list of accomplishments:

* Got another package ready to go out to our Appalachian Trail hiker, "Bananas," complete with peanut butter Rice Krispie treats that have enough calories to get my name added to American Diabetes Association's "Enemies List."

* Finished and blocked the "Cheap Thrills" sweater. Pictures here.

* Rounded up and counted all my knitting projects in process but not yet finished. I'm still in shock & not quite ready to talk about that yet.

* Downloaded Quicken to my computer & have managed to convince it that we have a home mortgage, but have not yet convinced it that we have a home. Still working on that one.

* Dried apples and some of my homemade applesauce. I'm not a big fan of cooked apples or apple pie, but the smell of apples and cinnamon has to be one of the best smells on earth.

* Wrote two honest to goodness pen-and-paper letters. My hand is still tired.

* Some housecleaning--boring details omitted because the only thing more boring than housework is talking about it.

* Researched canning in anticipation of a huge harvest from a garden that isn't even planted yet. Optimism is hard to restrain--especially on a sunny spring day.

* Worked on organizing/cleaning the sewing room. Not that you could actually notice much improvement, but it is a little better.

* Made a big batch of spaghetti sauce--possibly the first food I've made for Andy and I since we started putting together food parcels for Bananas. Flirted with the idea of trying to dehydrate some of it.

Whoo hoo! QUITE a wild weekend at the G-S household!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Counting Down

We have just over a month left before Andy's job of 18 years ends and the 90-day "Can't Buy Anything New Experiment" begins.

Hm.

It was a little easier to go into a one-month experiment, probably largely because we had no idea what we were getting into. This time...we have a little more perspective, which is quite a dangerous thing to have when one is embarking upon a new experiment. If one stops to think of all the things that might happen before one does things, one would probably never leave one's home. I have dated people like that, and while it is a very safe, very calm way to live, it would positively bore me to tears. So, with a little time to prepare, and the spirit of adventure, we're going to dive right in.

Interestingly, I understand that somewhere on the web is a blog with people who have signed up to all do a month of not buying anything new--either March or April, I think. I'm quite pleased, even though I assume we didn't inspire them. I never thought of making any of my experiments group efforts. Andy, of course, has to play along because he's married to me, but I had not thought of a play-along-at-home version. While I am quite willing to put myself through any number of odd adventures, persuading other people to do so is something I'm not prepared to do. But, wherever the group is--good luck & bravo for trying it!

Our rules are going to be the same as last time. Things can be repaired but not replaced (this to protect my 14-year-old Toyota Corolla). In one (and probably only one) way this will be a little easier than the first round, because we do not have quite the impulse spending tendency that we used to have. And I have exercised a little more sense--such as not doing it at Christmas time, stocking up on stamps, light bulbs, shoe laces, and gifts, and double-checking Andy's supply of epoxy. Heaven help me, we'll probably never run out of that stuff again!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Last night I filled, and I mean FILLED our dehydrator with green peas--4 pounds of them (which tells you what kind of wild night we had). Tonight I thought I'd bag them up for Bananas...


2 not-actually-filled Ziploc sandwich bags. I realize that the whole size thing is why dehydrated foods are great for backpackers, but it's a little demoralizing for those who send food packages to the backpackers.

It's hard to know how much to send to our little Appalachian Trail hiker, so I contacted her husband, Ground Control, to see what he thought, and he said she appreciates anything as he is sending her mostly Pop Tarts, energy bars, and candy bars. My little no-processed-foods-soul shudders at the very thought, so we are dehydrating veggies like fiends. Now we just need to figure out how many pounds of dehydrated peas mitigates 2 frosted Pop Tarts. Rats, I always hated story problems in school.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fool's Day

It isn't often that a utility company decides to get involved in cultural traditions, but last night we came home to a subdivision with no power, so we spent the evening reading books by hiking headlamps and barbecuing dinner. Sorry! No blog post--thank you Idaho Power.

The Look

Anyone who thinks cats can't learn things hasn't lived with one. It took Theo maybe a month into his diet to figure out that I can...