Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Timing

The sun that provided such a fascinating new playmate for Cubby yesterday also provided me the opportunity to wash and dry on the line the mountain of napkins and tablecloths that have been building up since, um, Thanksgiving.

So I wasn't so prompt with the laundering. So what? If YOU did as much laundry as I do (every single day--no exaggeration), napkins wouldn't be high on your priority list, either.

Now I just have to iron it all. Which will probably take another month.

I expect my Good Housekeeping Award any day now.

P.S. At the very moment I was drying my linens outside and basking in the sun with Cubby, my mother called to tell me it was snowing in Tucson. Awesome.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Friend

Cubby was lurching around the dining room this morning, as per usual, doing his laps of the dining room table, examining A.'s enormous boots and their fascinating laces, visiting his buddies the brass drawer handles on the sideboard . . . just like any other morning.


This particular morning, the sun was actually out. We have not seen the sun in many a day, but there it was this morning, all shiny and bright, filling the house with unaccustomed light and even a wee bit of warmth. And shadows. Without sunlight, we can cast no shadows.


It occurred to me that due to the depressingly overcast upstate New York winter, Cubby has not had much of an opportunity to play with his own shadow. Which is why it was such a novel thing this morning, and why he spent many minutes banging his hand excitedly on the shadow he was casting on the door frame. He moves, it moves! It's like a miracle!

It doesn't take much to generate excitement at Blackrock in the winter, obviously. If only we were all so easily entertained.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Educational Program Brought To You By A.'s Amazing Brain

Good morning, duckies! And a happy fifth day of Christmas to you.

You did know we're in the middle of the twelve days of Christmas, didn't you? You know, the twelve days that start with a partridge in a pear tree, include eight maids a'milking, and end with twelve drummers drumming? Those are some kind of great Christmas gifts, right there.


So, since the twelve days start on Christmas Day, today is the fifth day. Which means that I should have done this post yesterday, but instead I posted a Mystery Photo, because I am not always timely.

Today, we're going to discuss the gift for the fourth day of Christmas, which, as everyone knows, is four calling birds.

Except it's not.


I have spent my entire life singing that song with four calling birds, when in fact, it's supposed to be four colly birds. I learned this from a little book Santa brought for Cubby with beautiful illustrations for the twelve days (and here it is). I was sitting there singing the song for Cubby, flipping through the book, and I got to four colly birds, which stopped me right in my musical tracks.

"What?" I said. "What the hell is a colly bird? From the illustrations they look like . . . blackbirds?"

I was sort of talking to myself, but I should have known someone in the room (those someones being A. and the MiL) would know all about this. Because between the two of them, they can produce explanations of every esoteric piece of knowledge you can think of. And a lot you probably couldn't think of.


After my little self-dialog, A. somewhat off-handedly explained it: Colly birds are blackbirds. Colly is a somewhat archaic English word meaning black as coal; it comes from the same root as "colliery," which is an old English word for coal mine.

OF COURSE. Everyone knows that.

At least, now I know that. And so do you.

So there you have it. A.'s Christmas gift to you: Lyrical accuracy and the priceless gift of pretty much useless knowledge. You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mystery Photo--Because I'm Done

Done with the holidays, that is. We've had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday. Time to end the celebrations and get on with the hard slog of unrelieved winter.

Doesn't THAT sound fun.

I don't count New Year's Eve as a holiday. Mostly because I think there's too much pressure on people to do something fun and then no one ever ends up having as much fun as they think they should be having. Boo to that.

So! Since the holidays are now over (for me) and I apparently have nothing of any real interest or excitement to share, let us delve into my unlabeled photo archives for a glimpse of the past. Because that's REALLY interesting and exciting.

Oh, it so is. Don't pretend.

What shall it be today?
It's a winter parade!

This photo is from December 12, 2008, when apparently A. was moving his flock from the upper pasture to the paddock by the house. Note Mia the Faithful Herding Dog bringing up the rear with an alert eye to any stragglers. And any stray bits of corn that might fall from the shepherd's bucket. She does love corn.

And with that small bit of random photography, I will leave you. Have a fabulous day, duckies!

Monday, December 27, 2010

O Happy Day

Good morning, poppets! Welcome back to work/routine/life after Christmas. How are we all feeling this morning? Tired? Morose? A wee bit down?

Well! You should definitely increase your morale today, because this is not just the first workday after Christmas. No, this is my birthday.

I KNOW. Why is this not a federal holiday? I do not know. Someone should talk to the President about that.

Yes, today I am officially In My Thirties. That is, 31. And to celebrate my thirty-oneness, A. and I will be leaving Cubby with the MiL so we can have a very glamorous luncheon in the Small City.

Okay, so our very glamorous luncheon will actually be at a pub because that's about all that's open in the Small City on Mondays. But they have REALLYREALLY good steak fries that I never get to have, so I'm totally okay with it. Who needs glamor when you can have fried potatoes? Not me.

Thirty was a good year for me, what with that whole baby thing and all. And since I get to keep said baby (I think the probation period is over and he is now officially mine for real), I can't see why 31 shouldn't be even better.

Bring on the 31st year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Baby's First Christmas

As the MiL so astutely pointed out, no one cares about Baby's Third Christmas or whatever, but Baby's First Christmas? Bring on the pretty engraved tree ornament (thanks, sis and sailor!) and the millions of photos!

Or, you know, five photos*.

Also, apparently, Baby's First Xanax. Yikes. Wake up, kid! It's Christmas!

That's better. Playing nicely with Grandma's present, the awesomely adorable walking wagon. Also, you'll notice that I left the dogs alone this year and instead decorated my child with the bows. Mother's prerogative.

And yet another toy! The aptly named Curiosity Cube. We're on a roll now!

Distracted by spherical fruit that does not quite fit in the mouth.
And the reason there was no present from Mom and Dad under the tree: discarded packaging material. Most awesome toy ever.

* Yes, I did take more than five photos. Except most of them are pretty crappy because I am One of the World's Worst Photographers. (Modified from World's Worst, because Phoo-D told me I didn't deserve that honor--nice of her, but untrue, I'm afraid.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Let's Jolly This Joint RIGHT UP

What's the best way to increase the jolliness of Christmas Eve by about a hundred percent? I don't know, but I DO know a surefire way to decrease the jolliness level. Here's what you shouldn't do.

You shouldn't try to vacuum the filthy and mostly unused upstairs bedroom in which there are supposed to be people sleeping tonight without first turning off all the space heaters in the house because it turns out that that bedroom is on the same circuit as Cubby's bedroom and the MiL's bathroom, neither of which connect with said bedroom and so would not logically be on the same circuit, but both of which have space heaters and are thus overloading that circuit already without the additional electrical strain of a vacuum.

If you do decide to do such a foolish thing, you will then spend a (very jolly!) half hour trying to figure out which fuse box that circuit connects to--because OF COURSE there are two in our ridiculous electrical system--and then trying to figure out which of the glass fuses was the one that blew, and THEN going to the hardware store because OF COURSE we don't have any replacement fuses for that particular number of amps.

So don't do that. Stick with booze. I think that would be a much safer bet for jolliness.

Merry Christmas Eve, poppets! May your day be merry and bright (because you aren't a dumbass like me).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let's Talk Tradition

Merry Christmas Eve-Eve, poppets! I think it's time for a holiday-themed Audience Participation Day, don't you?

Yes, of course you do. Because you think what I tell you to think, OBVIOUSLY.

So! Let us speak of holiday traditions. When I was growing up, my family's Christmas went like this: Christmas Eve we got to open all the gifts from out-of-town relatives. Since we were a military family and never spent the holidays with any extended family, there were usually at least gifts from my grandparents to open. Then, greed momentarily satisfied, to bed we would toddle.

On Christmas morning there were stockings to dig through. Incidentally, Santa always brought my family quite a lot of chocolate, but here, Santa tends to stuff my stocking with things like nuts still in their shells and dried figs. Is Santa trying to make me eat more fiber or something? And where does that fat dude get off trying to non-verbally lecture ME about nutrition? Punk.


Right, so . . . stockings first. Then we would open all the gifts. All at once, if you will remember our previous discussion of this practice. Christmas breakfast always included monkey bread*, which was made with the biscuits in a can for maximum processed, soft unwholesomeness. Because really, if you're going to cover the biscuits in a pound of butter and sugar, does it really matter if the biscuits under the candy coating are less than wholesome? No.

And then we would have a big dinner in the afternoon with ham and things. Plus, there was church in there too. Which probably deserves more than just a passing mention at the end of this list, as the religious thing is actually the origin of the whole Christmas celebration, rather than monkey bread. Although you could totally have a religious moment with monkey bread. All that sugar could induce holy visions, I'm pretty sure.


Your turn! Tell me what you always did for holidays growing up. Or what you do now. Which would be a different post for me entirely.

* Wikipedia, that font of all totally accurate knowledge, tells me that monkey bread is also called "pinch-me cake." I find that hilarious, for many reasons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Decided To Spare You

We finally got our Christmas tree decorated on Saturday. By "we" I mean the MiL and I, as the Grinch elected, as per usual, to stay in his Grinch-cave (his office) and avoid the festivities altogether until it was time to descend to Whoville to place the star on top.

I kept meaning to get a photo of the tree to post. But I have decided that for one thing, any photo I take of it is sure to be terrible, since I am The Worst Photographer In the World. And for another thing, do you really need to see a picture of our tree? I mean, it's a Christmas tree: lights (small and multi-colored--no monochrome white for me, thanks), ornaments, green needles . . . you know the drill.

The only strange thing about the tree this year is that I elected to get a very small tabletop tree. So it actually goes as high as our regular trees, but it's a three-foot tree on a three-foot table. This had a lot to do with a certain infant lurching about the place. Also the fact that dispensing with the bottom three feet of tree makes for a hell of a lot less wrestling with lights and hauling of boxes of ornaments.

That said, I think I'll have to go back to the regular tree next year. The tabletop tree is messing with my mind. It's just not quite right somehow. But it works for this year. And it's still pretty. Which of course you'll have to trust me on, since I didn't take a picture for you.

Apologies to LeVar, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Marvelous Night for a Moondance

I like ruts. I prefer to stay in my ruts whenever possible. But every once in awhile, I'm forced out of my beloved ruts by circumstance. Last night was just such a circumstance.

At eight at night, I would, per the rut, be sitting by the woodstove reading a book, thinking about heading upstairs for bed in half an hour or so. Instead, A. and I took the dogs on a walk in the woods.

I KNOW. I totally climbed out of THAT rut. Momentarily, anyway.

It was almost a full moon, you see. Also, there was a thin snow cover on the ground reflecting the moon light. It was so bright, we were casting shadows and didn't need flashlights at all. Plus, it was a relatively comfortable 30 degrees with very little wind.

The walk itself was uneventful and unremarkable. Except for the fact that it was occurring at pretty much my bedtime.

And hey! Speaking of walking! Several comments yesterday made me aware that it is perhaps WAAAAY past time that I tell you Cubby is walking.

Yeah. Sorry about that.

He's actually been walking for almost a month now, although in the beginning it wasn't so much walking as controlled falling. Now he's graduated to lurching in the manner of Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Or a mummy. Cute!

He can get across a room by himself if there are no obstacles, though he still prefers to have a finger to hold onto. He skipped crawling entirely, apparently considering that too inconvenient and babyish.

This has, of course, opened up whole new vistas to him. Some favorite destinations include the brass drawer handles on various pieces of furniture (shiny!), the liquor cabinet (shiny bottles!), any dog or cat foolish enough to stay within range (fuzzy!), and this one floor lamp that he would pull right on top of himself if left to his own devices (stupid!).

Thankfully, he has not yet managed to figure out how to get up by himself from the floor. He's trying REALLY HARD, though, so I know it's only a matter of time before I no longer have an infant and instead have an honest-to-God toddler.


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Whole Happy Family

A. let the sheep out of their pasture yesterday for a little outing. They get bored in the winter, what with the lack of grazing. Grazing is pretty much their only form of entertainment, being sheep and all. So he let them out to wander around and pretend to graze on the various frozen things around the property. Then he moved on to some chores. Namely, splitting and stacking some more wood.

I was unable to assist him since I was Cubby-wrangling (and isn't THAT just a shame), but I did bring Cubby outside so we could at least keep A. company while he worked.

We spend a lot of time telling Cubby all the tasks we have planned for him when he's a little bigger. Poor kid is doomed.

I think he looks ready to stack some wood, don't you?

The dogs were frolicking around with large, unwieldy sticks, A. was industriously splitting wood, and Cubby and I were providing the sparkling conversation, when what to our wondering eyes should appear around the corner of the house . . .

But eight tiny reindeer! Except not so tiny. And actually sheep.

They had heard A. talking about how nice it was to have the whole happy family out together. The sheep, apparently, consider themselves part of the family.

Also wood-splitting supervisors.

There's nothing like family togetherness.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wedding Ahoy!

I got a call from my sister yesterday morning. You all know my sister--the one who comes to visit and inevitably ends up being put to work at some kind of disgusting manual labor?

She is, to put it mildly, a Good Sport.

So my Good Sport sister called me yesterday morning. And I thought, "Huh. That's weird. She never calls on Saturday mornings." And she doesn't. Unless there is some Very Important News to share.

There was. She's engaged.


I KNOW! So fun! I met her betrothed when we were in Arizona last month, and he seems like an extremely nice person. But more importantly, he seems like the sort of person who will be able to help us with many, many chores when he and my sister come to visit.

I just want him to understand how things are for visitors to Blackrock. So, to my soon-to-be-brother-in-law: Welcome to the family, come visit us soon, and don't forget your work gloves.

P.S. Seriously, welcome to the family and come visit. I'm just kidding about the work gloves (kind of).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Going Walkabout

For unknown reasons, Otty and Leda have started wandering straight down the driveway and taking a little stroll to the village. It's kind of strange only because their usual route to run away involves going up back to scavenge for delicious rotting deer carcasses. But now they seem to want to mingle freely with the civilized people. Maybe they want to get coffee and a cookie at the market instead of tainted meat?


They have done this twice in the last few days. The first time, I didn't even know they were gone until an acquaintance of the MiL's pulled up in front of the house and let the two dogs out of her car. She had found them nearly at the market and, knowing whose dogs they were because she actually bought Leda's brother from the MiL, she loaded them in her car and brought them home.

Yesterday we got a call from a lady in the village to tell us the dogs were frolicking on her front lawn. The MiL went to retrieve them.

It's a little embarrassing to get calls like this (or visits from people delivering your dogs), but I have to say that one of the benefits of a small community where everyone knows everyone is that everyone also knows the collies. So they're never really lost, just temporarily misplaced until a neighbor calls to report their whereabouts.

It takes a village to keep track of errant collies.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I know I said I was going to stop counting, and I am, really. It's just that 1001 is so delightfully palindrome-ish. Although I don't think the word palindrome is applied to numbers usually, but WHATEVER, it's my site.

Moving on.

Good morning, duckies! And a very happy Friday to you. I would like to bring something to your attention today that just occurred to me this morning: Christmas is in a week.

I'm sure many of you are already aware of this fact, and technically I was too. But it still managed to kind of sneak up on me. I mean, really. A week? How in the hell did THAT happen? What happened to November? And half of December? This baby thing is messing with my concept of time.

We finally went to get our Christmas tree last weekend* and I managed to get it in the stand a couple of days ago. But now it's just sitting there, all naked and forlorn, awaiting a time when we're all home to actually decorate the thing. Maybe tonight. If it's lucky. I did finally manage to get to a store to purchase some stocking stuffers for the MiL (on Santa's orders, of course--I am but an obedient elf) when I was in the Small City on Tuesday for Cubby's flu shot.

But speaking of Cubby, his parents aren't getting him anything for Christmas this year.


I know. But he's ten months old, people. He has no concept of presents; he just wants to play with the delightfully crinkly wrapping paper. So we're taking advantage of the last year he's not going to expect anything for Christmas except our unending love and attention, with which he is showered every day of the year. Plus, I gave that kid the gift of life, so I think I'm entitled to a pass this year.

Anyway, I just bought him a large-sized sleep sack so he doesn't have to get stuffed into a too-small one every night, so I'll call that his Christmas present. What more could any child want, really?

So how are your holiday preparations coming? All done, all panicked, or all shocked that Christmas is in a week? (A week! I know!)

* I was going to tell you that story, but it really just went like this: Rainrainrain, slogging through half-melted snow to cut our little tree, rainrainrain, stuff the little tree in the trunk of the car because the truck was temporarily out of commission, drive home in the rainrainrain. FESTIVE!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Going To Stop Counting Now

All right, y'all. Let's just all stop whatever important activity we are engaged in right this second* and take a moment of silence to acknowledge post number 1,000.

Whether that moment acknowledges my doggedness, creativeness, and general bad-assery for posting every single day for over two years OR my narcissism, self-involvement, and general availability of free time for posting every single day for over two years is up to you.

Thanks for coming to my party. Carry on.

* Which for many of you should be actual work you are being paid for. Which means you're being paid to read this site. Rock on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little Song on a Special Day

To the Tune of "The Candy Man Can"

The woodchuck man
The woodchuck man can
The woodchuck man can
'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him

The woodchuck man
The woodchuck man can
The woodchuck man can
'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him

Happy birthday to A., my very own woodchuck man.

P.S. Feel free to contribute a verse to the song if you are so moved.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Second Verse, Same as the First

A little bit louder and a little bit worse*.

Why, it seems like just last week that I was talking about taking Cubby to the doctor and how bad the weather was.

Oh, right. It was just last week.

In fact, it was a week ago today. And I rescheduled his appointment for today. So of course, the weather had to go and get all shitty. It IS worse than last Tuesday in a way. That way being that it's significantly colder with a seriously awful wind. So the actual temperature is 15 degrees and with the windchill I'm guessing it feels more like 15 below.

But! There isn't nearly as much snow blowing around as there was last week, so I will brave the arctic and get Cubby to the doctor for his flu shot.

I just hope the car starts.

* Does anyone else know this song about Henry the eighth who married the widow next door? And why do I know this song? Was it a Dr. Demento song? Maybe that was where I learned it. Obviously, it was an important thing to keep in my brain for 20 years.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To Bed

No, not me. Although I did manage to actually stay in bed and sleep last night, so that's a plus.

No, I put the garden to bed this morning. I think I was actually supposed to put the garden to bed for the winter before winter was, you know, here. And despite the calendar telling me winter doesn't officially start until the 21st, it sure felt a hell of lot like winter outside this morning. Don't try telling me that 28 degrees with a howling wind and some snow isn't winter. Because I was OUT THERE and YES IT IS.

Stupid calendar.


So! Yes! The last attack of Garden Crazy occurred this morning, as I bolted outside to work as soon as Cubby went down for his first nap. I didn't stop to eat breakfast, even, because when Cubby goes down, I'd better go out if I want to get anything done. And I really needed to get this stuff done today, as our weather forecast is distinctly Wintery. Like, many feet of snow and single-digit temperatures Wintery. Starting tonight.

So, ass in gear and out to garden this morning to finally dig up the late-planted carrots (small and not really worthwhile) and potatoes (possibly got too cold and may not be usable, but we shall see). Plus I dug up a few leeks while I was out there, because if I have leeks in the house I can always find some way to use them. Then I hauled about eight wheelbarrow-loads of rotted hay to cover the remaining leeks and the row of parsnips so that the ground will not freeze solid around them, thereby rendering them pretty much useless as a winter crop.

The collards are still out there, too, but I didn't do anything with them.

Then I dragged myself and my running nose back inside, where I found that SURPRISE! Cubby never actually went to sleep after I put him down. But A. had him, so it was okay. And the garden is now ready for winter.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


There I was, at eleven o'clock last night, awake for no good reason. I don't know why I woke up after only sleeping a couple of hours, but I know why I couldn't go back to sleep--my stupid, irritating, crazy brain.

It just would not turn off. You may remember this is something of a habit with me. I was lying there running down my mental list of things I wanted to get done the next day, thinking that if it didn't rain too much maybe I could finally dig up the late potatoes in the garden and some leeks and oh those little carrots too . . . but then I would have to wait to take my shower because who wants to get all clean only to go out and dig in the mud . . . but then the dishes never got done so I would have to do those before my shower and that meant waiting until Cubby's last nap of the day and JESUS CHRIST my last shower was two days ago and I HAVE TO TAKE A SHOWER.

And then it was 12:45 a.m. and I was getting up to do the dishes. Because I was already mad about not getting to take a shower before my day even started and I certainly wasn't sleeping. So I figured I might as well get up and do something constructive.

That's how I came to be scrubbing pots at one in the morning. I got back into bed around 1:30 a.m. and finally fell asleep at two. I was up at 5:30 a.m. to feed Cubby and when he woke up for the day at seven I was feeling distinctly Unchipper.

But that clean kitchen sure was nice. And I took my shower. So there.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yup, I'm a Mom

So remember the flannel-lined jeans that I have mentioned more than once? And that I pretty much live in from November to April? Well, they are warm, but they are not stylish.


In fact, they're distinctly unattractive. They are Mom Jeans--kind of loose-fitting, high-waisted, tapered legs, the whole thing. Plus, to add to the ugly, they have Great Stuff on them from when I was helping A. seal some holes in the attic. Just so you know, Great Stuff is totally impossible to get out of clothes. It dries into a permanent fixture on anything it touches.


I try not to wear these appalling pants when I leave the house, because I do have some pride. Except for this morning when I realized we were out of milk, and I can't drink coffee without milk. So I went to the market in the village wearing my ugly, stained Mom Jeans.

At least now I actually AM a mom. I am totally using Cubby as my excuse for sartorial crimes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alone and Afraid

Last night, just as I was taking off my socks and preparing to put on my pajamas for bed, I remembered that the chickens had not yet been shut away. A. was already huddled in bed, so I put my socks back on, threw on the first coat I found when I got downstairs (A.'s nice wool overcoat, because I am all about the classy), shoved my feet into some shoes, hunted down a flashlight, and FINALLY made it outside, where I trudged somewhat grumpily up the lane to the chicken coop.

I didn't bring any of the dogs out with me. I thought about it, because it's really, really dark out there, and the dogs make me feel safer. Unlike when I lived in a city and had to be afraid of human predators, I now feel just a twinge of fear when I'm out after dark because of wild animals. Not, actually, as much fear, as those wild animals may be wild, but they aren't armed and are much more easily scared off. But I still like to have the dogs with me, because they can sense things way before I can. Things like raccoons, or even coyotes. And they're not afraid of those things, either.

But the dogs were totally zonked out by the fire and I didn't have the heart to make them get up and out into the 14-degree dark. So I went out on my own, and OF COURSE as soon as I got to the forsythia hedge I heard something sort of large rustling around in there. And saw a reflected glow in some critter's eyes when I shined my light in that direction. But as there was no immediate attack by whatever was in the hedge, I elected to suck it up and master my fears. So I continued along the hedge to the chicken coop, expecting all the while for a large raccoon to launch itself out of the hedge and attach itself to my face.

This did not happen, of course, and my face is still thankfully raccoon-less. But next time, I'm waking the dogs up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Doesn't Add Up

Our neighbor mentioned to me awhile ago that she had seen somewhere that for every person and pet in your house, you should clean one day a week. This sounds to me like some kind of bogus calculation espoused by the Good Housekeeping Institute and designed to make you buy more Swiffer Wet Sweeps. Or whatever that junk is.

But let us try this handy calculation for my situation. Just for entertainment purposes.

4 people
+ 3 dogs
+ 2 cats
9 days

So I'm supposed to be cleaning my house nine days a week. That's super.

I'm going to have another cup of coffee now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

That Boy Again. And His Dog.

Ahhh. It's so relaxing by the fire. So peaceful. So soporific. So . . .

What's this? The hairless puppy is pulling handfuls of fur from my flanks?


Now that's a good dog.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Drifting Away

Still snowing, and now, for added enjoyment, let's add some drifting to the fun! WHEE!

Drifting, for those of you unfamiliar with this joy of winter driving, is when the snow gets blown across the road. This is a particular problem in farming areas because of all the open fields that allow for unobstructed blowing of the snow from that field onto the road. So you could be driving along on a perfectly clear day, no snow in sight on the road, and then WHAM! There's a foot high drift in your way. It's super fun.

There are several areas of bad drifting between our house and the Small City. It is also still snowing hard. This is why I made the executive decision to cancel Cubby's appointment for Round Two of his flu shot. Driving 40 miles roundtrip in this weather for a flu shot seems foolish in the extreme. It's not as if it's an emergency. So Cubby and I will stay huddled in the house today and the snow can drift all it wants.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello Snow!

Yup, there's some snow out there. Not a whole lot, maybe a couple of inches, but enough to cover everything and make it look less dead and ugly and more winter wonderlandish.

I generally like the snow, especially now that I'm not expected to shovel it (thanks, Cubby!). It has the benefit of muffling the sound of the traffic on the road, as well as providing an insulating effect for the house. Our bedrooms always feel warmer with a layer of snow on the roof. This is much appreciated, especially for poor Cubby, who is already sleeping in a long-sleeved onesie, two pairs of fleece pajamas, and a microfleece sleep sack. Poor kid looks like the Stay-Puf Marshmallow Man. But he does seem to be staying warm, so puffy he will stay.

As for me, I've put my beloved flannel-lined jeans into heavy rotation and pulled out the heavy wool sweaters. We're all looking a little, um, thicker than normal, but keeping cozy.

I hope you are equally cozy on this fine Monday morning, poppets. Have a nice day!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

GiT ( and Me) to the Rescue!

A. and I went out last night*.

I KNOW. CRAZY. But that's not the story.

We were on our way home from the Small City about 9 o'clock, only about a quarter mile from our house, when I saw a van parked at the end of the gravel road I used to run on. Its hood was up and its hazard lights were flashing, so I told A. we should stop. It was blowing snow and freezing cold--no kind of night to be broken down.

Besides, we were in the truck and A.'s a guy, so he is, by definition, a GiT. And GiTs have a code of conduct that requires them to stop and help motorists in distress. Like AAA, only with rusty pick-ups and feed caps.


I fully expected to get to the van and find that the driver had already called a tow truck and was just waiting for it. Instead we found a middle-aged lady by herself with no cell phone. She had driven about 75 miles from a not-very-close city and gotten lost on her way to a friend's Christmas party. When she stopped to check her directions, her transmission failed completely. So she was sitting in the dark by herself in a broken-down van. In a snowstorm. On a dark gravel road with no idea where she was.

That's pretty much my nightmare.

She showed A. the directions she had to her friend's house. Turned out she was almost there, so she jammed herself in the cab of the truck with us and we drove her to her friend's house. She was, to put it mildly, exceedingly grateful. She invited us in to the party, but we declined with a tip of our feed caps and drove our pick-up off into the sunset.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

* To dinner, Home Depot, and the grocery store, because we know how to LIVE IT UP.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

All Things Are Possible When the Sun Shines

There is a definite correlation between the brightness of the day and my productivity. When the sun shines brightly, as it did yesterday for about half the day, I'm all, "Let's gogogogo! What can I do next?!" And so, with the sun beaming into the windows, I cleaned out the back hall, dusted and vacuumed, put up Christmas decorations, cleaned up the junk that accumulates outside the dining room door, and finally cut down the dead asparagus in the garden.

Then it got cloudy and I sat by the woodstove with a cup of tea.

It's really unfortunate that I live in one of the most overcast places in the United States.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I had two things I was considering telling you this morning. They couldn't sensibly be combined into a coherent post, as they have no relation to each other. And they're both equally insignificant and inconsequential. So I decided to just throw them both at you. Double the randomness for your pleasure!

1) Yesterday all three adults in the house bathed and I did a load of Cubby's laundry. The result of this was no hot water by the afternoon. And when I say no hot water, I mean not even lukewarm water. I had to boil two pots of water on the stove so I could give Cubby a bath without him getting hypothermia, grumbling the whole time about what is this, 1850? And then I had to do a HUGE amount of dishes by continuously boiling pots of water for the wash water and the rinse water. More grumbling. Somewhere around pot #4, I announced to the household at large that this was a STUPID WAY TO DO DISHES. But the MiL was gone and A. was upstairs, so there was no one to hear my complaints except Mia. She was unsympathetic.

2) I don't like to eat sweet things in the morning. This is because I put sugar in my coffee and I have this thing about eating something sweet after drinking something sweet. The thing being that I don't like it. I have to cleanse my palate with something salty. It occurred to me this might be a little weird as I was eating a palate-cleansing pickle at 8:30 a.m., between my oatmeal with brown sugar and my sweetened coffee. And no, I am not pregnant.

And a bonus #3 . . .

3) I can't get my computer to connect to the wireless network at the moment, so I'm writing this on A.'s office computer. The keyboard is at a different height and I've made like a hundred typos already. Annoying.

Waitwaitwait! A surprise #4!

4) I just this minute got a phone call from the local feed store letting me know that A.'s 100 pounds of custom-mixed sheep feed is ready for pick-up. I never in my life thought I would be getting phone calls about sheep feed.

There! Aren't you glad I decided to share all of that with you? Happy Friday!

Any randomness you would like to share with me and the rest of the class today?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Favorite Word

You may have noticed that I use the word "gross" a lot. That's because there seem to be an above-average number of things in my life that are appropriately described as such.

Let us take, for example, my day with Cubby yesterday.

Cubby has a cold. Not, THANK GOD, the horrible, evil, sucking-the-will-to-live stomach virus that I suffered through, but still. A cold. Colds come with snot, which for babies is not so easy to dispose of. Since they can't just handily blow it into a tissue, you see. No, they instead smear it all over their sheet while they sleep; smear it all over their faces with their hands; shoot it with surprising velocity from their noses in glutinous, horrifying ropes when they sneeze. It is, in a word . . .


In addition to the cold, Cubby is teething. Teething means drool. Drool that mixes with the snot and drips all over the place and is . . .


Also, in my quest to get the child accustomed to self-feeding food in non-puree form, we've been having some really intense feeding sessions lately. This involves putting various small, soft foodstuffs on his tray that he then smashes in his fist and smears everywhere, thereby creating a really artistic mural of food that is . . .


The culmination was dinner last night, at which he was drooling, sneezing snot out of his nose, smearing food around, and THEN (wait for it!) he gagged until he threw up.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Helloooo RAIN!

Yes, RAIN in all caps, with an exclamation point. That's what we're getting right now.

Rain in the summer isn't so bad, and is usually kind of needed. But rain any other time of year means only one thing: MUD.

Yes, in all caps.

Mud around our house is no joke. It's one of those things you don't think about when you're living in a city, because everything is paved. There may be some puddles, but those are navigable. But on a property on which nothing is paved, the mud is inescapable. And depressing.

Rubber boots are a necessity, despite being something of a pain in the ass to get on and off. Unfortunately, at the moment we have all of one pair of rubber boots for the entire household, that only fit the MiL and I. And they have a leak in them. A.'s split right down a seam not too long ago and had to be thrown out (they were about 15 years old, so it wasn't as sad as it might have been).

This is why when my mother asked what A. and I wanted for Christmas, the first thing I said was "Tingleys."

Tingley is the brand of rubber boots we use. They last forever (or at least 15 years); they're relatively comfortable for rubber boots; and they go all the way to right below the knee, unlike those sissy fashionable rubber boots that barely clear the ankle and are mostly useless to us.

I'm sure my mother was thinking something a little less utilitarian might make a better Christmas present, but Tingleys are what we want, so Tingleys are what we're getting. My mom's good like that.

Too bad we don't have them today, though.

P.S. Um, am I supposed to have a disclaimer or something here? Even though I linked to the site for Tingleys, that was just for your edification and has nothing to do with any prodding by the Tingley people for product endorsement. I am endorsing them, but only because they're what we like and not because I get free boots or anything. I don't think Tingley does a lot of blog advertising. Just a guess.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Real Life Adventures of Jethro and Divot

Cubby and I went to the library in the village yesterday afternoon to pick up a book I had ordered from another library*. I never fail to see people I know when I go to the library. Yesterday the assistant librarian was working, and I stayed to talk with her for a few minutes. As we were leaving, I saw a cat outside the library door, so I asked the assistant librarian if she knew whose cat it was, because there used to be a stray that sort of lived in the library when I was volunteering there.

Not only did she know whose cat it was--because that's just how small this village is--she knew the cat's name. His name is Divot. And then, I got to hear a story about Divot the cat and a dog named Jethro.

Am I wrong, or are those the best names ever for a couple of characters in a children's book about a dog and a cat who go on fun adventures? Come on now.

This adventure involving the real Jethro and Divot was not exactly suitable for the amusement of small children, however, as we shall see.

Jethro is a very large dog owned by a local family. Jethro's owner was walking him on a leash in the village when Jethro caught sight of Divot. Instead of striking up a friendship and gallivanting off on amusing adventures, Jethro did what dogs tend to do when confronted by cats: He lunged for Divot, no doubt intending to rip off Divot's head.

We can already see that Jethro, at least, is not going to be in any children's book anytime soon.

Jethro's owner, in a bold act of heroism, kept hold of the leash, thereby saving Divot's life. Unfortunately, Jethro was large enough to drag her down onto the asphalt, where she broke her kneecap.

No, Jethro is definitely not going to be starring in a children's book. Divot might still have possibilities, though.

* To be specific, Gene Logsdon's Practical Skills: a revival of forgotten crafts, techniques, and traditions. In what I've read so far--the first few chapters-- he's covered setting up a workshop, painting, how to choose a woodstove, hog butchery, spinning and weaving, and many, many other things in impressive detail. This is a seriously kick-ass book.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mystery Photo Today--Because It's Better than Talking About Vomit

Am I right? I figure no one is really that interested in the fact that my stomach still feels a little iffy but I did manage to eat some applesauce and tea this morning with no ill effects (ill! HA!) and have not actually thrown up since yesterday at 2 p.m.

You really weren't interested? Too bad! I shared anyway. I'm a giver like that.


Let us once again delve deep into my unorganized and unlabeled photo archives for a photo that remains a mystery until it uploads onto the post. This one came from a folder labeled 12-8-2009 and is a picture of . . .

All together now: AWWWWWW

It's Rita the No Longer Homeless Puppy! I took this photo (and posted it) right before she left us for her new family. We have had sporadic reports on her since, and it appears that while she can be something of a willful pain in the ass (I could have told them that), her new family is still very pleased with her.

And I'm sure you're pleased to have an adorable photo of Rita to replace the image in your minds of me hunched over a toilet. Wait, what? You weren't imagining that? Well, I bet you are now! HAHA SUCKAHS!

Have a nice day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

That Ain't No Cold, Son

No, definitely not a petty little cold. More along the lines of flu. It was not a fun scene around here today.

But let's find the silver lining! If I had to suffer (and OH, SUFFER I DID) through a bout of the flu, at least it brought me down on a day when both A. and the MiL were home to take care of Cubby. I did provide access to his milk supply every few hours, but was otherwise free to spend my day alternating between the fetal position on the bed downstairs and the fetal position on a towel on the floor of the bathroom. Closer to the toilet, you see.

At one point as I cuddled close to the toilet, I recall fuzzily thinking this felt a lot like one of the earlier stages of labor. Except the end result was not a stupendous and wondrous baby, but vomit.

Definitely not as rewarding.

Speaking of that wondrous baby, he has thankfully so far been spared this illness. He was a little snuffly last night, but otherwise unconcerned. Of course, he's had a flu shot. Just another example of the importance of vaccinations, kids.

The crackers and ginger ale I tentatively chanced a couple of hours ago have so far not reappeared, which I will take as a positive sign. Though I'm not all better yet by any means, so I'm not counting my toilets before they remain unflushed. If you know what I mean. Which I don't. So I think I'll be going now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Now here's something I didn't really think too much about before having a baby: Motherhood seems to come with a greatly increased risk of illness.

When I was pregnant last winter, I caught a couple of colds, along with a stomach bug. In years past, I would usually get one cold per winter and that was it. I am not a sickly person in general. But then that compromised immune system that comes along with pregnancy kicked me right in the ass with two colds and a fun episode in which I got entirely too intimate with my toilet. It sucked, since I was so unaccustomed to being sick, but I figured that once that whole sharing my body with another person thing was done, I'd be back to my usual hale and hearty self.


I am now on my second cold of the season, a mere month and a half after dealing with the first one. My immune system appears to continue to be compromised, probably due to the fact that I haven't slept through the night more than few times in the past year or so.

You know all those stories in the media about studies linking lack of sleep with a poor immune system? I would now like to add the results of my own personal--unintentional--study on lack of sleep and urge you thus: Sleep as much as you can, or you will pay. OH YES YOU WILL.

That's all. Carry on.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mmm Mmm Good

Nothing whets the appetite for an enormous Thanksgiving meal like going out to pick some herbs and finding the dogs smeared in blood and dragging around a huge deer stomach spewing green bile.

I'm sure you know I say this from personal and very recent experience.

And then, when I went to grab one of my work gloves so I could get the putrid thing away from the dogs without touching it with my bare hands, I found that one of my gloves was inexplicably totally filled with dried corn. I probably dumped a full cup and a half of corn out of my glove before putting it on. A. must've accidentally dropped some in my gardening bag when he was cleaning up the shop.

The bizarre and the disgusting are never hard to find at Blackrock, even on a holiday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Calm at Present, Storm Ahead

The house sleeps.

Cubby has been up and gone back down. The MiL is awake but hasn't yet emerged. The rest of the house is still asleep. This is my chance to sit, to drink my coffee, to take a deep breath before diving into the happy maelstrom of the day.

And to give thanks for the many amazing things in my life, because that is, after all, what it's all about.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Can I cop out today and just answer some questions? Because, frankly, my brain is a little too overwhelmed with the mental planning necessary to figure out how to put the almost-completed kitchen back together and get the stuff that doesn't get back in the kitchen out of the way so I can clean the entire downstairs so I can move the silver off the sideboard for the buffet so I can set up tables and chairs and get out napkins and tablecloths and silverware and . . .

Yeah. Just answering some questions today sounds JUST FINE THANK YOU.

So! Beth asked if we can fit 22 people in our house. Not only can we fit 22 people in our house, we can fit a hundred just in the downstairs. And have. Not that I am anxious to repeat that craziness any time soon.

The question Beth was really asking, I suspect, was can we fit 22 people for a sit-down dinner? Yes. In fact, when we hosted Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, we actually set places for 23 people, all around actual tables with actual place settings and china and everything (photos here). With all the leaves in, the dining room table seats 12, and then we set up a table running the length of the living room, plus another smaller table in the library situated between the dining room and living room. The food is on the sideboard in the dining room. It's definitely cozy, but can be done.

Jean was wondering who these 22 people may be. They are all the MiL's family. She has four siblings in the area, so add in partners, children, partners of children, and now the children's children (hi, Cubby!), and it doesn't take long to get into the twenties. Family holidays are always this large. It is the way of things here. But everyone contributes food, so the host isn't really stuck with all the cooking.

Finally, Jean wanted to know how big our turkey will be. I have no idea. One of the MiL's sisters is bringing the turkey. Sometimes we have two turkeys, brought by different people. This year we will also be serving one or two of the large trout we have in our freezer for people who don't eat or don't really like turkey.

Not that I care anything about the fish or the turkey as long as there are mashed potatoes and rolls.

And now that I have answered questions, I have to spring into action and get our house ready for the Day of Thanks. Peace out, duckies!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Review

Also could be titled: "Photos I Have Taken in the Past Week and Not Posted." Not that I would use a title like that, because that is just too dull. And this is anything but dull! This is EXCITING!

Like, check out Cubby and one of his other canine buddies! SO FUN!

Because Mia's not the only dog game in town.

Or how about the hysteria-inducing excitement that was our dining room?! OH MY GOD SO MUCH FUN!

I have since managed to at least clear off the table, though I remain unsure how we are going to wedge 22 people among the boxes on Thanksgiving.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, I leave you with the MIND-BLOWING excitement that is Cubby in a pseudo-hunting outfit given to him by my mother and in which I dressed him on opening day of rifle season. Because THAT IS JUST TOO FUN!

Apparently, his legs are supposed to blend in, and his torso is supposed to stand out. Puzzling.

But wait! Is that a deer the mighty hunter spies?

Naw. Just Mia. Who IS oddly deer-like for a dog, but lacks the highly prized antler rack.

I'm exhausted from all the caps and exclamation points. I have to go lie down now.

P.S. Alicia, I didn't forget about your question awhile back. I mentioned this in the comments of that post, but if you send me your e-mail address, I will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about cloth diapers. Same goes for anyone else who seeks my wisdom on this fascinating subject. Or any subject! I like to lecture.

Monday, November 22, 2010


It's really ridiculous that I don't knit. I mean, if anyone should knit, it should be me. Here I am with eight wool-bearing animals that have to be sheared every year anyway and a dire need for wool clothing to survive in our ridiculously cold house. ANDAND, a baby. For whom wool clothing is almost a necessity, and yet unobtainable through normal baby clothing manufacturers.

But I don't knit. And don't try telling me how easy it is, because I have tried and I just do not have the temperament for it so GO AWAY TWISTY KNOTTY YARN I HATE YOU.

So when I need wool socks for Cubby (which I do) or wool slippers for me (which I did), to Etsy I go. Where there are many, many people who knit, because they apparently don't have anger management issues when it comes to yarn. And they can whip out things like felted wool slippers in a cheery green color with black accents in about a week, thereby filling the gaping hole in our lives left by my inability to knit.

We can't all do everything. I have accepted my limitations and embraced Etsy, and my life is calmer for it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The kitchen is still total chaos and the woodstove cooking continues apace: Italian sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and broken-up spaghetti simmering at this very moment.

Yesterday I walked out the front door, stepped on a chipmunk head, and then saw that whatever cat had eaten the chipmunk had thrown up the rest of it on the arm of the Adirondack chair outside the door. Nice. Thanks a lot, cat, you disgusting animal.

The hammock has been put away for the season, the leaves have been raked off the front porch, and various other battening-down-the-hatches-for-winter chores have been done.

A. finally put a new toilet seat on the toilet. The old one had been cracked for about five months. The fact that we put up with that for so long is a testament to our ability to bear mild discomfort. Also a testament to the fact that we have about a million other things to do that take precedence over replacing a cracked toilet seat.

Like eating lunch, which I still have not done and am now going to go do. Better-organized post (marginally, anyway) coming tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boom Boom

Lock up your dogs and sharpen your knives: Huntin' season has begun.

Rifle season for deer, that is. It started at sunrise this morning. It is well known that if you pronounce the "g" in "hunting," you will never get a deer. That "g" makes it easy for the deer to tell you're a pansy and not a real hunter, see. So when rifle season begins, even well-educated people with careful enunciation drop that "g" in anticipation of venison. Like us.

We also have to put Otty the Escape Artist on a leash in front of the house so she doesn't take off into the woods and get herself shot. One or more of the dogs will eventually make a break for it and find a delicious rotting deer carcass that they will then proceed to gorge themselves on and drag back to the house piece by piece (Exhibit A). But we keep them close for at least the first few days of the season, when the activity is at its peak and their likelihood of being shot is highest.

So all the dogs are locked up tight, the woods are reverberating with the echoes of rifle shots, and the deer are in mortal peril.

Yup. Must be huntin' season again.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I actually took a couple of pictures of the chaos that is the dining room right now, so you could see how we're living. Then I turned the camera off and proceeded to the kitchen to get coffee. While I was in there, I decided I should take a picture of the work in progress in there. But the camera wouldn't turn on again.

The batteries are probably dead. They're rechargeable, which is great. It would be even greater if the charger hadn't been in the kitchen and is therefore now in the great mess of stuff I had just taken a picture of in the dining room. I have no idea where the charger is--I have a hard time finding large light fixtures in that room at the moment, forget a four-inch piece of black plastic.

So no pictures today. Sorry.

On a more positive note, the state of the kitchen has been forcing me to return to a previously amusing diversion that I sort of forgot about last winter--woodstove cooking. The appliances in the kitchen are functional, but I really prefer to get the hell out of there when there's plaster dust flying around from sanding the ceiling and whirling dervishes in the shape of the MiL and her sisters priming anything that's standing still. So dinner for the past few nights has been courtesy of the woodstove. Lamb chili last night, kielbasa and sauerkraut the night before. I think Italian sausage, peppers, and potatoes tonight.

I set up a little cooking station by the woodstove, with a small plate on the mantle to hold the stirring spoon and a towel over the small table by A.'s chair to set down hot lids or pots. It's not entirely convenient, but it keeps me out of the kitchen. That's pretty much my whole goal until everything is done.

I may run out of woodstove meal ideas before that, though. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Independent Corroboration

My suspicions have been confirmed by outside, unbiased observers: Cubby is huge, happy, and handsome.

I don't go a lot of places with Cubby where he's examined by strangers. We go to family events where everyone is biased in our favor, to the village where everyone knows us, to the doctor where everyone is jaded from constant contact with kids. But on this trip we encountered numerous strangers who felt compelled to remark upon Cubby. Without fail, their comments were positive. Now granted, not a lot of people are going to come up to a parent to let them know their kid is a miserable pill with a funny-looking face, but we got so many comments about his size, his attractiveness, and his jolliness that I'm almost convinced I haven't been deluding myself.

No less than four complete strangers referred to him as a "tank." As did my father. This is now his new nickname. One flight attendant said he looked like a wrestler. I'm not sure if that's a compliment, but point taken. This kid is big.

On our first flight, we had a male flight attendant who I could tell was not particularly enthused about children. Not rude or anything, but none of the little smiles and cheery comments that people who like children inevitably provide when faced with a kid. But by the end of the flight, when Cubby was standing on my lap grinning at the man as he went by with the trash bag (it could have been the bag Cubby was grinning at--he does love crinkly plastic), the flight attendant stopped to let me know Cubby is a good-looking boy and so happy.

The happy comment was a very frequent one. At least a dozen people felt compelled to remark on it. And he wasn't even as happy as he normally is, due to a combination of extreme exhaustion and, on the trip out, teething. I don't have much experience with other babies, so I guess I take it for granted that he doesn't cry much, doesn't scream, smiles at anyone and everyone, bounces around and plays, and is generally a very content baby. This is, apparently, not the case for every parent.

So, in short, everyone loves Cubby, Cubby loves everyone, and I should be thanking my lucky stars every day that I was given this particular child.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We did indeed survive our cross-country funfest yesterday, which included a really wretched two-hour drive home from the airport in pitch black and pouring rain. Yay! We got home around 7:45 p.m., and Cubby went straight into his crib. Could he form coherent words, I'm sure he would have been saying something along the lines of, "THANK GOD. What took you so long?" Or maybe not, since he was asleep before he hit the mattress. Poor kid. He's a trooper.

The MiL had the woodstove going and dinner all ready for us, bless her heart. She also had the kitchen all torn up and every item from it in the dining room because she and three of her siblings--brave souls all--have started the absolutely staggering task of painting and papering the kitchen.


Considering this was last done in the 1960s, you can imagine the amount of work involved. The cleaning alone took days. Our kitchen was really, really yucky. Kind of inevitable, since to call it a heavily used kitchen is a drastic understatement. But still. Gross.

So they're mostly done with the cleaning and have moved on to the sanding and priming and prepping. This means that all of the dishes from the kitchen are on the dining room table and the various foodstuffs from the cabinets are in boxes all over the place. Cooking will be a challenge for awhile.

We're supposed to host Thanksgiving this year, which I suppose gives us a goal for completion. Or maybe we'll just have to make everyone eat in the parlor this year. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Well Hello, 5:24 in the Morning!

Yes, it is indeed that absurd hour of the morning, and I am indeed up and showered. Voluntarily. We're leaving for the airport at seven, so when I woke up at five and realized I would never be able to go back to sleep due to the Important Thoughts engaging my brain (such as, OH GOD I HATE taking off my shoes at airport security), I figured I might as well get up.

There are few things less appealing to me at the moment than leaving my parents' house to embark on the epic journey that is transporting a baby across the country via airplane, but it must be done. So we will once again brave the Not-So-Friendly-and-Definitely-Uncomfortable Skies to return to our country estate on the lake.

Blackrock, here we come!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm a Lifelong Learner

They say (whoever "they" might be) that you're never too old to learn something new. I totally agree. For instance, I just learned last night that lime-flavored vodka is actually a fabulous substitute for gin if you and your husband and brother and sister-in-law have managed to consume the entire bottle of gin (it was a pretty small bottle) in two days but didn't make it come out evenly with the tonic water. Don't you just hate it when that happens? Yeah, me too.

It would really be too bad to leave my parents only a half bottle of tonic water*, taking up space in the pantry and going to waste. But dig out that bottle of Smirnoff Twist of Lime triple-distilled vodka left behind by a previous houseguest and TA DA! Delicious vodka tonics. A radical departure from my beloved gin and tonic, but lovely in their own right. Just so you know. Because we are all students in this great classroom of life together.

Or something.

* Do I really have to go home tomorrow? It's supposed to be 78 degrees here on Friday, and I think the forecast at home is calling for the dreaded "wintry mix." Ew.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Easily Satisfied--That's Me

Know what's intensely gratifying? Loading a dishwasher when you have to routinely do dishes by hand. No boiling water on the stove because the hot water is all gone, no fishing around for utensils in the bottom of the dishpan and slicing your hand open on an unexpected knife, no hefting a full dishpan up to dump out the water. A dishwasher is like magic! The dishes go in dirty, you press a button, and half an hour later, the dishes are clean. What will they think of next?

Good thing we're going home on Tuesday. I may be in danger of getting spoiled by these new-fangled appliances.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Am Leaving the House Today

This is only notable because, except for a brief trip to Wal-Mart with A. to get fishing supplies (for A., not for me) and a few walks on my parents' street with Cubby, I have not actually left the house since we arrived. This isn't exactly a trial at my parents' resort-like home in the hills of Tucson, but I suppose I should go somewhere at some point on this trip.

So we're going to the Tucson Harvest and Farm Festival. Oh yes, we are.

I realize it is somewhat ridiculous for us to attend a farm event in a city which we visit to escape our own small farm, but it's free and there are animals for the small children of our family to view and . . . well, it's a FARM EVENT. In TUCSON. As if we would miss it. It's like our natural habitat. I mean, I found two garlic cloves in the pocket of the shirt I brought on this trip, apparently left there from when I planted garlic at home and had a couple of extra cloves I stuck in my pocket and forgot about. So I am now the sort of person who travels around with my own personal garlic stash and attends farm events on vacation.

Yee haw.

P.S. Melinda asked yesterday how Cubby fared being parted from his beloved mother. My mother shoveled yogurt in his face when he got hungry and he didn't even realize his milk supplier was absent from the fun. Nice to be missed.

Friday, November 12, 2010


It is nine o'clock in the morning. My mother and father have kidnapped Cubby and taken him to the zoo with my brother and my niece. There is bacon cooking on the stove and I'm eating a brownie. There is no produce threatening to go bad if I don't do something with it RIGHTNOW, no calls from neighbors about sheep in the road, no wood to carry in for the fire, no chores to be done.

In short, life is pretty good right now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


After sitting around drinking coffee and talking for awhile this morning with my mother, I checked the weather forecast for the day in Tucson. Sixty-seven degrees and sunny. Nice.

Then my mom and I went our separate ways to get dressed. I put on jeans and a tank top and wandered down the hall in my bare feet, where I met my mother emerging from her bedroom in jeans, a fuzzy cowl-necked sweater, and shoes. It would not surprise me to know she was wearing long underwear under her jeans.

Sixty-seven and sunny is all relative, apparently.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Well. Thank God THAT'S over with.

We had two flights yesterday. The first one was only a little over an hour, and Cubby was fine. But by the time we got on our second flight of the day, Cubby realized that it was two hours past his bedtime. And he was not in his crib. He did not understand this, and he did not appreciate it.

That was a three and a half hour flight. Of those three and a half hours, Cubby slept maybe an hour and a half. And not in a continuous block, either. It was Unfun. He didn't cry for long periods, but 15 minutes of baby-crying-in-an-airplane time translates to about 15 HOURS of regular time.

But at least all of our flights were not only on time but early, so the misery wasn't unduly extended. And here we are! Nana immediately began ingratiating herself with Cubby this morning by providing him with a new fascinating toy every few minutes, so I think he's going to have an excellent time this week.

Oh! And I totally forgot to tell you that I finished up with the apples the day before we left. So now that I have freed myself from that self-imposed encumbrance--and safely transported an infant three thousand miles--I am free to enjoy myself with nary a care. Let the vacation begin!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I'm kind of all over the place this morning, what with our imminent departure and the fact that I have not, as of yet, packed anything.


Therefore, I present to you a cop-out list, which is at least all related to traveling. So that is the tie that binds this mess of thoughts together.

1) I was prattling on the other day to A. about our flight times and short layovers and dinner times and the food I was bringing on the plane. Then I interrupted myself to say to A. "You don't care about any of this, do you?" To which he replied quite seriously, "I would rather starve for 12 hours than plan ahead that much." Behold, Reason Number One why A. would not be a good primary caretaker for a baby.

2) I'm bringing several toys on the plane for Cubby's entertainment. Although a couple of the toys are actual children's toys, the others are all items meant for another purpose that nonetheless meet the criteria for children's toys suitable for plane travel. That is, they are small and fascinating to the child. These items include a Pez dispenser, a metal spoon, and a (CLEAN thankyouverymuch) snot baster. Ghetto toys? Perhaps. But if they keep Cubby entertained, I care about that NOT AT ALL.

3) I'm really, really hoping I won't need those toys, however, since I purposely chose late flights in the hopes of having a sleeping baby on the plane. This brilliant plan may, of course, totally backfire on me, and I may end up with a baby who WANTS to be sleeping but is instead having a nuclear meltdown. Let's all cross our fingers that Cubby gets lulled to sleep by the roaring of the engines and the soothing atmosphere of an airplane cabin. HA.

4) We are landing in Tucson at 10:05 p.m. local time (assuming all goes well). (PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE let it all go well). Which will be 12:05 a.m. body time. I have only one thing to say about that: God help us all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Wages of Sin

Okay, so maybe "sin" is a bit of a dramatic word choice, as it wasn't sin so much as a certain baby of my acquaintance that prevented me from keeping up with my garden chores this year. And since it wasn't sin, that means the wages won't be death! WHEE!

Reeling myself in from the religious tangent now.

So! I finally got out into the garden yesterday to do some clean-up. It wasn't pretty out there.

There were many, many pounds of dead tomato, pepper, squash, and broccoli plants to be pulled out and disposed of. In my garden, "disposed of" means "flung over the fence into the gully." Which is easier than, say, bagging that mess up for trash pick-up or something, but still requires that I get all the dead and rotting things to and then over the fence. While not breaking an ankle in the holes left from digging the potatoes that were near the fence. And not slipping and falling in the half-rotted sheep-shit straw that I used to mulch the zucchini plants near the fence. It was a delicate dance, indeed.

The Chioggia pumpkin vine was all entwined with the evil blackberry canes and the weeds and wild grape that were also growing in the blackberry thicket. What an unholy mess THAT was. Yikes.

I spent a long time picking up half-frozen and rotting tomatoes. While wearing gloves, thankyouverymuch, because EW.

I spent even longer pulling out whatever the obnoxious weed is that totally took over the garden this year. It's shallow-rooted, so it's not really hard to pull up, but every time I pulled a handful out, about a thousand tiny white seeds would drift down onto the soil, ensuring that there will be another battle with this evil interloper next year. This made me say very bad words.

On a positive note, however, I discovered a hidden butternut squash that I pulled out and cooked for dinner last night. I also pulled out a cabbage plant from which I had harvested the main cabbage head awhile ago and then left the plant in to grow baby cabbage heads. Did you know you could do this? I discovered this fun fact last year when I left a plant in after harvesting the cabbage, just to see what would happen. What happens is a second, small harvest, which I sauteed for dinner last night. Nice.

Also for dinner last night (it was a big dinner), I dug up and cooked leeks and the potatoes from the late planting the MiL did. And then there was Chickie, of course. But I didn't dig him up from the garden. Because that would be gross. And disturbing.

And then it was time to go inside and await the awakening of the little princeling, so I didn't get everything done that I wanted to do, but it was a good start.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eating My Words . . . And a Chicken

It was a beautiful fall morning when we got up today. Clear and cold with a tinge of frost over everything. A perfect morning for chicken killing.

Yes, I am afraid that Chickie tricked us all and was not, in fact, a female Chickie, despite my confident announcement to that effect months ago. Dammit. We noticed quite awhile ago that Chickie was starting to get chuffy, in the way that all roosters do. But we put off the dispatching of Chickie because A. thought he was a magnificent rooster. Which he was, but he was also a mean bastard. And, in the last few days, the two roosters had started duking it out in the coop at night, driving the hens out and causing chaos and confusion when it came time for roosting.

We can't be having our hens out at night because of rooster pissing contests (figuratively speaking, of course) in the coop. Chickie had to go.

So this morning after Cubby went down for a nap, we grabbed the cleaver, a sharp knife, and a bucket and went to bring Chickie to his doom. Actually, A. was the one who grabbed Chickie. He got a nice hard peck on the hand for it, too.

It was Chickie's last defiant act, however.

Half an hour later, A. was looking down at a denuded Chickie and solemnly intoning, "Good-bye, rooster. Hello, roaster."

So clever, that A.

Chickie most likely will not actually be a roaster, however, due to his age. He'd probably be a little tough. I haven't decided exactly how to cook him yet. Some kind of braise.

Order has once again been restored to the chicken coop courtesy of A. the Grim Reaper and his cleaver.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cave-Cubby and His Skins

Last year, when we received our very first tanned lamb pelt from the tanning place in Pennsylvania, I mentioned that A. had asked if we could wrap the as-yet-unborn baby in it. And J.T. added that those pelts would be perfect for baby pictures. I, meanwhile, was thinking, "I'm not going to put my baby in animal skins. What, do we live in a cave?"

Well . . . yes. We kind of do, as a matter of fact. Blackrock is cold and damp, much like a cave. And lamb pelts, while extraordinarily primitive and a wee bit disturbing considering Cubby's Halloween costume, are warm. That is why I have eaten my unspoken words (and the, uh, lambs) and we now have a photographic chronicle of Cubby the Cave-baby on lamb pelts.

We have thus far managed to restrain ourselves from actually making him a little suit from the pelts, but there's a long, cold Blackrock winter ahead . . .