Thursday, July 31, 2008

Train Wreck Pictures






Unclutterer Sez: Use Plastic Water Bottles to Store Paint

I really liked this idea from the folk at Unclutterer today. They suggest storing the leftover paint from a room painting project in clear plastic water bottles (you just pick a bottle that's the right size to hold the paint without much air space remaining). They suggest throwing a couple of marbles in there, too, so when you need to do a touch-up, you can just shake the bottle.

One advantage I see to using a plastic bottle is the fact that if there is still a little air, you can squeeze the bottle to force the air out before you seal it closed. Also the fact that it's clear makes spotting the right paint color quick and easy.

Matt mentioned not wanting the paint that the homeowner left behind when he bought his current house, but I disagree. You can't always paint right away when you move in, nor do you always want to, before you get the feel for the house and decide how you want to decorate it. I have found it helpful in the past when a former resident left behind small amounts of touch-up paint so that I could fix up the bashes and bonks from moving furniture out and then in. When we move (and I hope we never do that again), I have always left the touch-up paint for each room in the closet of that room, clearly marked.

Dr. Horrible Dress-Up

The children and I took some pictures the other day (back before the week got completely insane).

That's me as Groupie #4, I guess I would be.

That's Lil Miss A as Captain Hammer.

And that's Master K with the Death Ray.

Silly is fun. :o)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Master Bedroom

Look what Barry has been doing for the past few weeks. What a difference over late June!



And look at these planks, nicely protected under the floral Congoleum since 1947. (We know the date because of the newspapers that were layered between the boards and the lino.)

We're planning just to paint the boards and let it go at that.

Trombone Hero


TorsoPants.com has a whole line of Band Geek Hero shirts for sale (they started with Tuba Hero, and due to public outcry, added a whole line of band instruments).

I ordered a Trombone Hero shirt for Master K, and he loves it. I'm hoping he'll wear it for school pictures.

They always send a freebie along. In this case, the freebie was a commemorative Harlem Globetrotters mini-basketball. It turned out to be a half sheet of notebook paper crumpled up into a little ball. This week's freebie is something like a copper portrait of Abraham Lincoln (probably a penny). Cle-e-e-e-ver people.

I don't have OCD...

I have CDO. It's just like OCD, except that the letters are properly alphabetized.

Hahahahaha!

(Miss B came up with that. Not sure where she heard it, but she didn't make it up.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This morning has just been a train wreck.


Hahahaha!

Actually there is a real train wreck, and Barry went on the call with the NAF&R hazmat team at 6:00 a.m., before he had a chance to eat breakfast. It was a "bomb train," loaded with tankers of ethanol, which is now splashed over the wetlands up there.

The kids and I bought 4 loaves of bread, 4 pounds of cheese and 5 pounds of bologna and made a bunch of sandwiches to take up there, thinking that we had made tons of food, but they have a LOT of teams up there, most of whom have been there since the same time Barry has, and they are all hungry. And thirsty. I don't guess they had enough drinking water. So we left the case of bottled water that we had in the car with us, then I sent Miss B back with a 5-gallon pot of water and some cups. They will be there all day. They don't expect to reopen the highway for a week.

Funny thing about our drive up there: I took off in the Jeep loaded with sammiches, Master K in the shotgun seat, and a couple of minutes later Master K told me I really should slow down because I would get in trouble driving that fast, there would be cops all over the scene. I said it was fine, I needed to get this food there quick. So guess what happens a mile south of the scene? A Houston County deputy flags me down. I wasn't even thinking about speed, I was thinking about how close I could get to the scene, and I just hollered, "I got sandwiches for the guys! Do you want them or should I keep going?" He thought a moment and said, "Keep going. Only a little slower. Seventy-four miles an hour is a little fast."

Then as I was about to turn around and head home, Conrad the Police Chief pulled up and got out and ambled over (Conrad is a very accomplished ambler) and drawled, "Y'know, as fast as you were going, that Houston County deputy thought the least you coulda done was offer him a sandwich."

Addendum: Have I told you how proud I am of my husband? He's my hero! The heat index is around 100 degrees and they're all in hazmat gear. I hope they are all okay.

Update: Still out there, over 12 hours on scene. I hope somebody relieves him soon.

Dr. Horrible is back for free viewing on Hulu (briefly)

Yayyyyy! Watch it once, watch it twice, vote it's the best thing you've ever seen on Hulu and then go buy it on iTunes.

P.S. Might want to send a thank-you shout out to Sprint, while you're at it - they are the sponsors.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Paint!

Barry's painting our bedroom as we speak!

We were trying to convince ourselves that we would be happy with the paint we had bought for a different room and didn't like. But just before he started painting, I asked him if we couldn't just buy new paint and use that other stuff somewhere else. He agreed. We have to spend a lot of hours in that room and if we hate it, bleah, who wants to be there?

So what we have is a deep brown with a purple undertone to it. To me, it looks like leather. It's Van Sickle interior latex and the color number is 339N, if that tells you anything. It's going to make the woodwork and the furniture and the pictures on the walls just pop, plus the quilt I'm going to do with Judy Laquidara's quilt-a-long will look gorgeous in there. I got the idea from my parents' bedroom in their 1957 house, where all the bedrooms are smallish by today's standards. They painted theirs a chocolate brown and suddenly the walls moved back about a foot each. Amazing! The old saw is that light colors make a room look larger, but I think I believe the other old saw, that dark colors make walls recede.

This morning an appraiser visited our house. We're working on refinancing so that we can put in a new furnace and windows, among other things. Otherwise we really are concerned that we won't be able to stay warm this winter. Our oil furnace was working okay, more or less, but our oil supplier had a hard time even getting oil at any price last winter, and he was so worried about this year that he sold his company to somebody else. He cautioned me that there is a very real chance of heating oil simply being unavailable. We're hoping to put in a geothermal system. Anyway, the appraiser turned out to be a very nice man named Mike Morey, who is also mayor of Caledonia, and he appreciates older houses and loves old furniture, so in the process of showing him the property we had some nice talks about old "stuff."

I was hoping to go to the monthly All-Day Sew with Loose Threads, the local quilting guild, but after the appraisal, all I had time for was to run over there for the pot-luck lunch, help them do dishes afterward and then come home and work some more. I still have hopes to sew tonight. You'll notice that there was no Finished by Friday yesterday, for the second week in a row. I'd like to finish a sundress for Lil Miss A, at least.

Saturday's Apron: Mother's Little Helper



Modeling this Saturday's Apron is Lil Miss A, with wet hair because she just got home from the pool.

This cute apron is a child's apron, home machine made of orange gingham with orange rickrack trim. It's very simple, no pockets, no nothing. I found it at a garage sale in my parents' neighborhood last month.




Friday, July 25, 2008

A Groaner from the Post-Bulletin Joke of the Day

A happily married man had only one complaint -- his wife always was nursing sick birds.

One November evening, he came home to find a raven with a splint on its beak sitting in his favorite chair. On the dining room table, there was a feverish eagle pecking at an aspirin, while in the kitchen, his wife was comforting a shivering little wren that she had found in the snow.

The furious spouse strode over to where his wife was warming the cold little bird.

"I can't take it any more! We've got to get rid of all of these darn ..."

The wife held up her hand to cut him off.

"Please dear," she said, "Not in front of the chilled wren!"

Courtesy Rochester, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The End of Food, by Paul Roberts

While driving home from the orthodontist's today, I had NPR on (Talk of the Nation, I think it was), in which Paul Roberts, the author of The End of Food, was the guest. Now I have to read this book. He talks about how our present food supply system came about and what's wrong with it and what will have to change.

I'm going by memory here, so if I misquote the poor man, blame me, not him, but here are some of the points that struck me:

  • Americans spend more every year in weight loss efforts than we spend in food aid abroad. (Wow!)

  • One sixth of our nation's population has too much to eat, one sixth has not enough, and the rest has just about right. This sounds bad to us, but Roberts pointed out that were we to transport someone from Victorian England to present times and tell him this, he would be wondering what the big deal is, as things were so much worse in his day, with the proportion of those going hungry being much much higher.

  • E coli was present in beef basically forever, but humans didn't get so dangerously sick from it until the 1980s, when most beef began being raised for market in a feed lot, with a corn-heavy diet. E coli apparently loved the corn diet and mutated to a form that could survive in the human gut and make humans sick. This
    is an example of fixing one problem, only to create another, which he says is
    rampant in the food distribution system.

  • The lack of flavor of modern market beef comes from that same diet. Grass-fed beef is much leaner and more flavorful, though not as tender, and most people don't even know what it tastes like anymore. (I knew that.)

  • Our current food distribution system was built on a premise of $10 to $15 a barrel oil prices. Now with oil running at least 10 times that price, the system isn't working anymore.


Very interesting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Lab Coat - it's Simon's Lab Coat!

First off, thanks to the friends who commented below and made good suggestions for beatin' the blahs. I think weeks like this one are why God created chocolate.

Okay, now, I want a lab coat like Dr. Horrible's! And guess what? It's a leftover costume from Firefly - the Ariel episode. Regardez-vous:




And no, it was not I who figured it out. Among others, some of the cosplayers on LiveJournal figured it out. That Shawna Trpcic! What a little reuser/recycler she is!

(Oooh! While imdibbing to make sure I spelled her name right, I found out she's also working on Dollhouse. Good to see.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Got the blahs.

Got lots of stressors at the moment, the kind that you just can't blog about. :o) Things seem in flux, unsettled. I'm losing track of details in my attempt to keep the big picture in sight; for example, I forgot my son's orthodontist appointment this morning, for the second time, and his orthodontist's office staff is out of patience with me. Plus it's hard to settle down and earn the money we need to keep up with financial stuff.

Partly I'm just really tired out from New Albin Days, even though I didn't do a quarter as much as most of the others on the committee did. I am trying to give myself the slack to rest and recover from that, yet there are all these other things that need to be done!

So I post light-hearted blog posts in an attempt to keep up my own spirits. Sort of whistling past the graveyard. As long as I look happy and sound happy, everything will BE happy. Right?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fun with Sitemeter - The Musical

My hit counts have settled comfortably right around 80 per day. Most of the searches revolve around
  • St. Bridget's Church in Postville
  • My old steamer trunk (usually a Google Images search)
  • "greek words for love" and lately
  • Dr. Horrible lines, like "with my freeze ray" and "four sweater-vests"
It's fun to see how many people are crazy about Dr. Horrible just like I am.

Agent Ladybug vs. Evil Dr. Yellow Jacket Pliers


This was made by a friend of my eldest's. It could be edited down to about a minute and a half and still have all the funny parts, but it is a great effort by a team of beginning filmmakers.

Okay, now, this is weird. Not that I'm complaining or anything.


I just got an e-mail from Capital One, telling me that they would like to upgrade my credit card somehow. Did I want more rewards points? Did I want to improve my card features (whatever they are)? Or - hey, how about this? - did I want a lower interest rate?

Well, yes, that last one appeals. We have two balances on that card, one called a "purchase" and one called a "balance transfer." The larger balance is on the smaller interest rate. Neither interest rate is bad at all, it's just that it's debt, you know? Debt = bad. Anyway, I called them and the nice man who helped me said he couldn't do anything about the balance transfer part of it, but he'd drop the interest rate on the purchase part of the balance to zero for 6 months - and after that, it would go back up just where it was, no worse. I asked how much they would charge for this, figuring there was a catch, and he said no cost.

We just transferred a balance from an expensive card to a couple of cheaper ones, and I'm sure that set off alarm bells on our credit report - they don't like it when you do that - so that's what I figure triggered the offer. At any rate (get it? at any rate? I slay me), we're taking advantage of it.

Look what I won!



Friday evening, New Albin Savings Bank sponsored a big party to kick off New Albin Days and to honor Walt Breeser, who recently retired after nearly 60 years as the town barber. The bank had a drawing for 20 old silver dollars. REAL silver dollars! And I won this neat one from 1921. I just keep holding it and hefting it. That's a lot of silver!

I have a 1922 silver dollar that my mother gave me once. She told me at the time where it came from but I have forgotten, and I need to ask her again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Adorable little houses!


Isn't this just a darling house?

I was catching up on old posts at Unclutter.com, where they wrote about Katrina Cottages, alternatives to FEMA trailers designed by some top architects. The plans and supplies can be purchased from Lowe's. They would make darling guest homes or cabins! In fact they remind me a lot of the little houses at Mahaffey Camp in Mahaffey, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible, Act 3

I watched Act 3 while taking my bath this morning at about 6:00 a.m. I don't want to spoil anything for anybody, but I was... disappointed. It plays like a pilot episode for a new series, not a stand-alone story.

Got a good laugh out of my first good look at Bad Horse, though... Heh.




Edited: Like Act 1, and like hotdish and chili, I liked this better the second day.

Faves:

  • This is his dry cleaning bill. Four sweater-vests!
  • Burrn. It's spelled with 2 Rs.
And the end:
  • I will not feel a thing.
Waaaah!

New Albin Days

New Albin Days is well under way, and so far we have been blessed with pretty decent weather: Threatening clouds and a few sprinkles last night, but today, just good cloud cover and breezes! Great for spending time outdoors. It's warm, but there's plenty of shade and good stuff to drink. Also Budweiser.

I spent a good chunk of the day under my awning at the park, doing a Lulabelle's Dress Shop sale. I didn't sell a whole lot, but it helped me get organized a bit. I gave a lot of the leavings to The Way Station, and what I brought home is well enough organized that I hope to stock my eBay store with it soon so that it can sell during the holiday shopping season.

THANK YOU to Marlene for the suggestion on Master K's chigger bites! He was already feeling better by the time I read it, but we will remember this one for next time. I would guess it would be most effective as soon as one came in from working in the bushes, while the nasty beasties are still crawling around looking for a nice juicy hair follicle to burrow into.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chiggers!

Master K. spent Wednesday doing yard work at Dottie's. Thursday morning he woke up covered in chigger bites. I'm not kidding. He has at least 100 chigger bites. If you have ever had even one chigger bite, you know how miserable they can make you. I don't know how he is staying sane. We're feeding him Benadryl and painting him with clear nail polish, but mostly he's just trying to stay busy to keep his hands off his bites.

Unless we can do something to prevent this happening again I don't know that I want him going back.

Finished by Friday: Zip. Zilch. Nada.


Yep, there it is: What I finished this week. Between New Albin Days, Pee Wee softball, a meeting or two, and of course Dr. Horrible, I have barely kept my head above water this week. So I have finished nothing. I hope you all did better than I did!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr. Horrible, Act 2

Better and better! A sweet supervillain, an obnoxious superhero.

Favorite parts of act 2, nonspoilerish:
  • the soup
  • the spork
  • Gandhi
  • a Hammer-wedgie
  • a shiny new Australia


Edited: K and I were discussing this. If Hammer is not what he seems, and Dr. Horrible is not what HE seems, what then might Penny be by Act 3? She knows about Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin, after all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My girls.

With my freeze-ray I will stop... the world.

Loving Dr. Horrible more today, after sleeping on it! I was expecting to go all Nathan-groupie on this show but so far it's Neil Patrick Harris who is just running away with it! Somehow he even looks like Joss when he's blogging. This song keeps going through my mind. I love the little shoulder-dance Dr. Horrible does as he imagines dancing with Penny in the laundromat.
Laundry day
See you there
Underthings
tumbling.
Wanna say
"Love your hair"
Here I go
mumbling.

With my freeze-ray I will stop... the world.
With my freeze-ray I will find the time to find the words to

Tell you how
how you make
make me feel
what's the phrase
like a fool
kinda sick
special needs
anyways

With my freeze-ray I will stop... the pain.
It' s not a death ray or an ice beam, that's so Johnny Snow

I just think you need time to know that
I'm the guy to make it real,
the feelings you don't dare to feel.
I'll bend the world to our will
and we'll make time stand still.

That's the plan
Rule the world
You and me
Any day.
Love your hair
(No I love the air)
Anyway...

With my freeze-ray I will stop...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back to Normal

Everyone is home, Lil Miss A saw the dentist this afternoon and got the first step in tooth repair taken care of, I got the air conditioning on the Concorde charged up - and Barry is at the Laser races tonight. All is well.

Oh! And today is the premier of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog! I had no specific expectations, thus I was neither amazed nor disappointed. I did like it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Eventful Day at Noah's Ark Water Park

So far in the 3 hours they have been at Noah's Ark Water Park,
  1. Lil Miss A has wiped out on a water slide and chipped one of her teeth (a permanent one, naturally). *
  2. Barry has lost $30 out of his Velcro'ed swimming trunks pocket. **
  3. Miss B has come THAT CLOSE to locking his key in the car - and of course she didn't bring hers along. ***
It's so peaceful here at home. :o)

* Barry went into Instant EMT Mode and started doing an assessment on her. The lifeguard eventually noticed something was going on and ambled over, and when Barry asked if a report should be filed, the lifeguard said, "Naaah," and wandered off. Evidently those "play at your own risk" signs mean, "We don't care one bit what happens to you."

** There are also signs all over the place stating that any money you lose becomes the property of the guys who clean the pool filters, or something like that.

*** I have already used up our insurance company's goodwill by locking MY keys in that same car while I was in Minnesota with my folks.

A "duh" thing I have just learned

At 46 I finally learned something most of you probably knew from childhood: Praying for people makes you love them more.

I have been making more of a commitment to pray for my loved ones daily. I go down the list of people in our extended family and our friends, and talk to God about them and their needs, the needs I know about, and the ones only He knows about. And I am finding myself loving them more as a result. It's not a reason to pray for those I love, it's just an added fringe benefit, I guess.

Got the house to myself

Long story, but -- Miss B has wanted to go to Noah's Ark, a big water park in the Wisconsin Dells, all summer. She was grounded for a good chunk of the summer so far, but now that she is a Reformed Person, she asked if I would take her, her friend M, and Master K and Lil Miss A to the Dells. She planned out a pretty neat arrangement, where I would provide the wheels, gasoline and chaperonage, and she and the other kids would each pay for their own admission tickets and split the cost of a motel room with wireless Internet so I could still work. The kid's a genius, what can I say?

I was all set to do this today when Barry started feeling left out and said he wanted to go too. What he meant was, "go with you, my lovely wife," but I deliberately misunderstood him to mean, "go instead of you, and allow you, my lovely wife, to stay home and work in a nice quiet house and not miss the New Albin Days planning meeting Monday evening, because I love you." Now don't get me wrong, I think water parks are cool, but not ALL DAY LONG, and not when I don't get paid vacation! I need to work. I want to work. And while I was planning on working at the motel anyway, this will work out much, much better.

So at 7:00 this morning they all hauled out for the Dells, leaving me to a) take a nice hot bath with a book; b) sip my morning coffee slowly and peacefully; c) thaw out what I want to have for supper (which is, liver) without anybody making gross throwing-up noises; d) work in my quiet house with my quiet pets; e) go to the meeting that I was going to miss, which is an important one because New Albin Days is... this week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vintage Paper Dolls



I just thought you might like to see these scans of some paper dolls that came from my parents' basement. They are copyright 1967 Whitman Publishing Company.

Judy Laquidara's Block of the Month - Fabric Selection

I have bravely decided to try to make this gorgeous quilt
==========>

with Judy Laquidara's quilt-along group starting in August. There are other fabric choices pictured here.

And here are mine:

I'm concerned that it may not be contrast-y enough but at least I have something to work with now.

Sail away...


Here's everybody else, heading off to go sailing this afternoon, leaving me in this quiet house with breezes blowing through and sleepy pets in heaps here and there. A perfect afternoon!

I talked with my in-laws for a bit, and now I'm going to see if I can round up some fabrics to join Judy Laquidara's Star Block-of-the-Month project. I'm really having a rough time because while I have lots of lovely bits of fabric I don't have a lot of yardage, and I really don't want to go buy any right now. I'm thinking this is going to be a scrappy version of the quilt.

Edited: Bleah. They just called. They're not sailing, the winds are about 30 mph up there on the lake and he doesn't want to drown our children, even if it means I don't get a quiet afternoon to myself! The nerve!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday's Apron: Dots! Red and white! Embroidery! Could it be any better?





*waves at Cate* This Saturday's Apron is a sweet cotton half apron that started as a piece of red cotton with white polka-dots, then was ingeniously embroidered. I would have loved it just for being red and white... but polka dots? Embroidery? I swoon.






Friday, July 11, 2008

So did something happen?

In the past 24 hours my hit counters have gone crazy. It seems everyone is searching for more information on St. Bridget's in Postville again. So what happened? Is there new news that I am missing?

Another Finished by Friday: Roller Shades for the Front Porch



Here is my other Friday Finish: I replaced the old, rotten roller shades on the front porch with new fabric ones made of this polished cotton paisley print by Stanley King Studios. I have been hauling this fabric around from house to house since our Onyx Drive house in Palmdale, California, where I used it for drapes in the master bedroom, with a matching shower curtain. I'm so glad I still had it!



This is the other half of the front porch. You have already seen the left side, which is now our sewing area. I did replace all the blinds with these, so it's a match all across. It's so easy to re-fabric an old roller shade as long as you still have all the parts of the old one! You just tear off the old fabric, cut new fabric to fit, sew a rod pocket at the bottom for the weight rod, staple it onto the core and put the shade back up again.

I had to take down all the aprons to rehang them in a more apron-friendly manner. While I am at it, I'm contemplating painting. That pale pink/lavender isn't doing anything for the place, plus the ceiling has tons of water stains. Of course, if we're gonna paint, we should probably fix the wiring, and add some outlets... and if we're gonna do that, we might as well add better lighting, and maybe a ceiling fan or two... and then drywall, and if it's drywall, we might as well insulate the walls... AIYEEEEE! This is how we get into giant expensive projects! Anyway, I'm not sure what color to paint it. A forest green would be pretty but I'd lose that lovely light out there to sew by.

WHACK!!

That's the sound of over 4 inches of hair getting lopped off!

This morning my hair hit critical mass. I stopped by my hairdresser's and asked her if she could squeeze me in for a cut. She said not till Tuesday or Wednesday. I made an appointment, but told her that if she found an opening before then I'd like to move it up, as I was suddenly desperate to get it OFF ME and was liable to start hacking away with my sewing scissors. She called an hour or so later and told me she could squeeze me in.

She told me as she cut my hair that she figured she would be saving herself a lot of trouble to cut my hair today rather than try to fix what I had done to it by next week!

I feel about 20 pounds lighter. It's a cute blunt cut, chin length, with so much swingy motion to it all of a sudden.

My brave friend Mrs. Mac has been growing out her colored hair to show her natural grey. I have not yet collected the guts to try it. I wish there was a way to skip to the all-grey stage, but I don't think anybody has invented anything like that yet!

Mister Barry, Quite Contrary...

How does your garden grow?



Pretty well, thank you very much - after a late start because of the Winter that Refused to Die. The corn is nearly as high as an elephant's eye, or at least some of it is, and the tomato plants are blooming. The spinach bolted long ago, and we're eating our fill of leaf lettuce and romaine.

As are a few others who are NOT supposed to be in the garden:



Quit eating that lettuce!

Which inspires me to post this Chicken Slideshow:

Not pictured is Cinderella, who was off laying an egg at the time of the photo shoot.

New York, New York Roller Coaster

My supervisor, Dina, just got back from a vacation in Las Vegas. She went on the rollercoaster at New York, New York. She didn't take this video, but this is where she went.



I think this is actually better than riding the 'coaster myself. I still got that crazy-laughing reaction that I always get riding a big 'coaster, but without the need to take a Flexeril to calm my neck muscles down that usually accompanies it!

Finished by Friday: Amy Butler Design's "Cabo Halter" Top



So what did you finish this week?

Here is something I finished: A new top, the "Cabo Halter" from Amy Butler Designs. I made this one out of a lightweight cotton printed tablecloth. I like it!



I think I will have another Friday Finish to post here in a little while. Gotta take the pictures.

Good Morning!

The Jeep just pulled away with Barry and Master K, off for an interesting day (or two interesting days, one each). Barry took the day off to hang out with Medlink, the helicopter ambulance company that serves our area, and hopefully do some ride-alongs. One has mixed feelings about these things: One wants something interesting to happen, but then one doesn't really want anything too interesting to happen to someone's loved one.

Master K is off to spend the day doing yard work for one of the widows in our church. She lives in an amazing house built into the side of a bluff. (And so far it hasn't fallen off in any of the floods.) He decided he wanted to go on a mission trip next year, but didn't know how he would raise the money, and we also wanted to think of a way to help our friend with her yard, so we have hired him to work at her place in return for credit toward his mission trip costs. A win-win-win situation.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Storming now

Huge windstorm with horizontal rain. Very interesting.

Guess what happens when you leave a Ho-Chunk basket out by the garden because you were weeding and forgot to finish the job?

Koi Portraits


Here are pictures of our koi, being bribed with treats to come get their pictures taken. (The baby is not here. I haven't even seen him since the original sighting.)

Lil Miss A wants you to know that her fingers were dirty only because I called her away from weeding the garden to feed the fish.

Woo-hoo! Groceries!


Barry did the grocerying after work yesterday and came home with loads and loads of stuff we needed. Miss B had just defrosted the nearly empty deep freeze just yesterday morning, so all this lovely food is ARRANGED NEATLY in the freezer and fridges. And it's like a treasure hunt. I was at Lil Miss A's softball game when he got home and unloaded things, so I don't know exactly what he bought, and keep finding things that I know weren't on my list. Stuff that looked delicious to him after a long day at work, before supper. Ummm...

Anyway.

I'm really trying to rethink the grocery thing. With us living 35 miles from town, and with gas so pricey, I'm trying a three-pronged approach to cutting back on the shopping trips:
  1. Buy local when possible.
  2. Get it delivered when possible.
  3. Make one giant, efficient shopping trip only when we absolutely must.
We have the City Meat Market here in town, where we are going to try to buy our beef from now on. We drive to Lansing (12 miles south) about 40 times a week for Miss B's work and for school activities, so we try to get our gasoline, milk, eggs and bananas at the Kwik Star there. I'm trying to use Amazon more to have stuff delivered, like toilet paper and kitty litter. And we have the garden. I wish we could still be in our CSA, but it became unaffordable for us when they had to cut back on delivery points because of gas prices and we would have had to drive to pick up the stuff.

As for the One Giant Efficient Shopping Trip (GEST), I am doing about one of those every 4-6 weeks, with Barry doing the others after work. He's very good at grocery shopping, actually, and when he throws something extra in the cart, like he did last night (a gorgeous filet of wild-caught Alaskan salmon), I don't have to feel guilty for overspending, because I wasn't the one who made the decision - I can just enjoy it. Our favorite place to do the GEST is Woodman's in Onalaska, because they are employee-owned and surviving despite being kitty-corner to the Giant Super Dee Duper Wal-Mart, and they have about 6 brands of any given item - the three major label brands, the designer label brand, and two generics. Also they have large ethnic food sections. And they mark down their produce like crazy when it's been on display for awhile. Plus they hardly ever even ask for my ID when I write them a check. Good people.

We have to go into town for orthodontist, eye doctor and pediatrician appointments, and when I can stack a couple of those on one day, that makes a good day for a GEST. Plus the pediatrician and eye doctor are both in the same building, which is in the same neighborhood as Woodman's AND just down the road from the Coulee Region Humane Society, to which it's always fun to squeeze in a visit.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Baby koi!!

Sorry, no picture - just news. :o) We have a baby koi in our big pond, just maybe an inch and a quarter long. So adorable! The bigger koi (still not very large) are now so tame that they will take flakes from our hands. I was feeding them and playing with them this morning, and just before leaving the pond I did a quick fish-count. There were the usual 8 I expected. Then I saw movement in the lilies in the middle of the pond - and it was a weensy little koi, white with colorful splotches! Our koi are breeding!

This is very exciting, if you have koi. Otherwise you're probably wondering what the big deal is. The big deal is, it's a new pond, with new fish, and they are already comfortable enough to be having babies.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A video to cheer you up.


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

This video just makes me smile. Don't know why, exactly. I hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Old pets are the best.

Puppies and kittens are adorable, of course - baby anythings are adorable - but I really love old pets the most.

Here's Gary the Guinea Pig. Gary (she's a girl, by the way) is a sweet old lady-pig of unknown age. I think we have had her for 5 years now. Maybe only 4. But I think 5. And before that, she was owned by a pet shop where she was kept in the back and allowed to have litter after litter of baby piggies over and over again. I don't like to think about what probably happened to her babies. The store catered to reptile owners. Anyway, when Barry bought her to use in a photo shoot, I feel like he rescued her. She was thin and in poor coat, and her nails were so overgrown that her feet are permanently turned sideways.

After the photo shoot, she lived at Barry's office for a couple of weeks, but all the comings and goings were too much for her, so he brought her home. She is the sweetest thing, very gentle and affectionate. She is getting really elderly and is spending more and more time just napping; I keep thinking one of these days we'll get up and find that she has died in her sleep. But so far, no. She "wheeks" for food, for water, and most of all, for love and attention. She enjoys the cats and tries to wash and groom them. She purrs with petting and with unusual sounds. She's just a dear old thing. She's no longer playful, but she has a dignity that I really appreciate.



Here is Bo, standing guard. He never likes the cats to get too close to Gary, and they were lurking around nearby, so he stood very close to her and growled at them when they came too close. He is very suspicious of their motives.