Sunday, November 19, 2006

Adventures in Dyeing

Oh man, I'm out of control. Yarn! Dye!

First it was KoolAid dyeing... (did you *KNOW* there's a little second-hand-esque store near me that was selling packages of KoolAid for THREE CENTS EACH? Maybe they were past their expiry date? Does KoolAid expire?) Just mini-skeins, mind you. I wasn't going to go nuts or anything. I was testing out the procedure ahead of time, so I'd be able to help the kids in my Textiles class. That was all. I didn't need ANY more hobbies. And I didn't need ANY more yarn. No. No way. No how.

Anyways, it was WAY more fun dyeing with three-cent Kool-Aid packages, than it would've been with twenty-eight cent packages. The thrifty-voice in me would've been dying while I was dyeing, if that had been the case.

So here's my Kool-Aid dyeing experiments...

Gus, the plastic Golden Hairy scorpion (that Nate bought in Death Valley at the end of September) was sure to get in on the action. I think he liked the Tropical Punch the best, seeing as there wasn't a 'prey coloured' skein.

Then, once I was rolling around in my nice warm-toned Kool-Aid dyeing prowess, it was time to bring out the big guns. At first, I was just dyeing mini-skeins, because that is what I'd be dyeing with the kids in the 7th/8th grade textiles class.

Of course, once I'd done little mini-skeins (butterflies, really), it was time to move up to midi-skeins. Just enough to knit a swatch and go "wow, that's a great colour, why didn't I dye more of that?"

(gotta love this one. Berry blue, overdyed with grape-berry blast. Really, I just sprinkled the grape-berry KoolAid powder over the blue-dyed yarn, and stuck it back in the microwave for another 2 minutes. LOVE this!)

And this was a lovely little experiment with the leftover orange KoolAid from the first experiment, mixed with... um... I think it's the leftovers from the black cherry. Not a lot of dye left in the Black Cherry. I haven't knit this up yet.

And then my Knitpicks order arrived. And with it, a ginormous skein of plush fingering-weight bare yarn. A WHOLE skein. Over FOUR HUNDRED YARDS... what to do? What to do...

Oh! I just realized I never took a picture of the vivid blues and greens and yellows of this once it dried. Truly, this has GOT to be my next project. Just as soon as I finish the fisherman gansey for Ken for Christmas, the three pairs of Fetching fingerless gloves that I've promised as Christmas presents, and the extra boutique knitting that's been ordered since the Boutique Weekend.

Note to self: Photograph the DRY skein of the cool sock yarn that you made. If only for posterity.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


It is Cross Country season.

I've been quietly (and not so quietly) nudging Skip in the direction of signing up for the Cross Country team. Hey! It's a sport. He can do it BY HIMSELF, so he doesn't have to worry about idiots on the "team" who have pushy parents, or who have bad sportsmanship, or who belittle other members of the team, bla bla bla. Not that Skip's ever been on teams like that, she says, looking skyward and whistling...

Anyways, Skip's not really much of a team player. He's the Lone Wolf. And finding a sport that works for him isn't all that easy. So when Toni called to say that Cole had signed up for the Cross Country team, I started putting the bug in Skip's ear.

"Hey, your BFF is going to be running cross-country. Wouldn't it be a fun thing to do together?"

"I hear if you're on the cross-country team, you don't have to run so many laps during PE..."

"Hey, that cross-country coach is really a flaming hunka-hunk o' burning manhood..."
(oh right, that was what I said to Toni... never mind)

And Skip seemed mildly keen. At least he didn't dismiss the idea right out of hand.

Every day when he'd come home from school, I'd ask about Cross Country.

"Have you signed up yet?"

"Oh!" he'd say, as he slapped his forehead. "I forgot to sign up. I'll do it tomorrow."

Eventually, I stopped asking. He obviously wasn't as keen on things as I was.

So imagine my surprise when, last Friday, he said "Oh, mom. Don't come and get me at 3 on Monday. Cross Country practice starts, and I'll be running until 4."

The mind boggles. It really does.

Monday rolls around, and I'm one of the proudest mothers on the planet. My son, under his OWN steam, signed up for Cross Country. *preen preen*. I didn't have to go in and be the meddlesome parent and ask to speak with the coach, and hand over Junior's orthopedic shoes, and special vitamins, and request that he put on the sunscreen, and only run in the shade before 4pm.

(yeah, like THAT would happen! If I did that the coach would NEVER be my friend... [see previous entry])

So I snag Nate from his school, and then I snag Kelly from hers, and we go home to wait until 3:45, when we'll drive down to Skip's school, and watch him finish up his first Cross Country practice.

At 3:45, I've just given the kids the one-minute-warning: the "You'd better go potty now, or be prepared to hold it until 4:30" shout, when there's a rustling in the garage.

A mouse?
Nope. Bigger than a mouse.

A rat?
Nope. Bigger than a rat.

And then the garage door (into the house) bursts open, and Skip is standing there, face flushed, sweaty, and out of breath. He's carrying his trumpet, and has the 89-pound backpack on his back.

So much for Cross Country, I think.

"Mom!" he moaned, looking completely forlorn and bedraggled, " I forgot! I walked home, and I got to the [regional cross country track - which is right across the street from us, basically] and saw the high-schoolers running, and then I realized that it was practice, and I missed it!"

He slumped down on the floor beside my computer, and looked miserable.

It was now too late to go back and get in on the practice. What to do?

I quickly emailed off an apology to the coach (only a little teeny bit of the meddlesome parent coming to the forefront), and asked if Skip would still be welcome at the second practice (which was Tuesday - they practice every day after school). And then I told Skip that I was really quite impressed that he'd managed to walk ALL the way home from middle school WITH a full backpack and trumpet, and had managed to do it in under an hour. It's probably two miles. Maybe more. And it's ALL uphill. And then I gave Skip a big Gatorade, and some palmiers, to drown his sorrows.

The coach emailed me back in the evening. Of COURSE Skip was still welcome on the team. "Runners seem difficult to come by, and we take ANY and ALL, whenever they can show up!"

So Tuesday, just in case, after I'd picked up Nate and Kelly, I took them down to the Middle School, where we hung out after the final bell, just to cut Skip off at the pass, should we need to.

It was unnecessary. He came charging out of the boys' locker room in his full school garb, ready to take on the world. And he was smiling.

Yup. He was on the team.

Yesterday was the first Cross Country meet of the season for Middle School.

Skip went into it having had a SINGLE practice (which consisted of running around the neighbourhood near the school, and out into the open space by the lake. Nothing that really prepared him for the actual race. But hey! You've gotta get your feet wet sometime.

At first, there was just a lot of milling around, waiting to see what was going to happen.

Then the older kids ran, with Skip and his buddy Cole cheering them on.

Then it was time for the 6th Grade Boys to line up.

Aaaaaaand, they're OFF!

Once around the track, then out into the wilds surrounding the school...

Looping around up in the school grounds, and finally back onto the main field, for one last trip around the track before heading to the finish line...

He was not happy how he finished, but I couldn't be more pleased.


I don't care that he came in 44th. This was his first time EVER running ANYWHERE, and he actually RAN the whole thing.

His buddy Cole, hopped up on some honey-and-caffeine creation, left him in the dust and came in somewhere in the 30s. I swear, that kid has boundless energy. A bee-bee tossed from a slingshot couldn't have caught up to him. (or bounced off of obstacles with quite as much vigor, either). As I was waiting for Skip to finish, I heard Cole's dad reading Cole the riot act about Good Sportsmanship and How You Better Not Gloat Around Skip If You EVER Want To Play X-Box Again. Heh.

As I was walking away from the field with Skip, I put my arm around his shoulder, and told him that I nearly burst with pride, watching him finish that race, and that I was so proud, and how this is a GREAT way to start the season. He's got his own personal "best" time, now, and he's gonna have a great time watching himself beat that time. And next time, if he comes in 39th, he'll have made such a huge improvement, I might just bust a gasket right there from all the pride overload.

He still was feeling a bit down. Fortunately one of his mentors from his Boys Chorus was running in the 8th grade event. That boy finished 2nd. Skip really looks up to him. And while I was walking back to the car, I saw Marco pull Skip aside and say something to him. Whatever it was, by the time Skip got in the car, he was grinning like a fool, and he even joked on the way to rehearsal (yes, it was a full day yesterday! and hard on the sinuses, driving 2 pre-teen boys who'd just run 2-mile cross country races... 'open a window!"), and left the car with a smile on his face, and a spring in his step. Maybe it was the endorphins kicking in, but it's been a long time since he's really been enthusiastic about singing practice.

I think this is the start of something great.

I just hope he doesn't think he's gonna be taking ME with him on the 2-mile runs he has to take over the weekend. I'm here for encouragement and cheering. NOT as a running buddy.

At least, not yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ten True Things

I blatantly stole this from Finn. She's my hero.

1. Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day. Get out your eye patches and swashbuckling garb, to help you stay in character. Arrrrrrr.

2. I'm in Too Much To Write About mode. It renders me helpless. Sort of like how I'm standing in the middle of my house (which looks like a bomb went off in it) and thinking "I should clean, but I don't know where to start." If only there were a "Ten True Things" for housecleaning.

3. We leave on Saturday morning for one last camping trip at the Boat Club. More photographic evidence of the kids enjoying the water should ensue.

4. My inlaws arrive SUNDAY AFTERNOON. Did I mention that we're CAMPING on Saturday? At a place that is FAR AWAY from our house? And cf. point #2 up there, too. I am in deep poo. Up to my eyebrows, and maybe beyond.

5. I love the ring tone on my cell phone. It's one of those old-style telephones from the 40s. It rings like I remember my grandparents phone ringing (except theirs was a party line, so you had to listen to whether it was one ring, or two quick rings in succession, before you picked it up.) I like it because nobody else has one of those "Who's got the ancient telephone?" rings, so I always know it's mine.

6. Death Valley looms on the horizon. My inlaws are arriving so that we can all go down to Death Valley for the end of next week. Pulling the kids out of school, driving like maniacs, and crossing our fingers that it's not 119F (where F stands for Freakin' Farenheit Furnace) degrees when we get there.

7. Obligations expand to fit the free time of my life. I sent Nate off to school two weeks ago. Didn't I? By normal calculations, that gives me 3.5 extra hours of "Free" time every week day. So why does my house look WORSE than before the end of summer, when I had three kids charging through the place, dropping little bits and bobs that were like land-mines for the tender insteps of my bare feet, and eating sticky things on the furniture? I'm embarrassed to even let the kids have play dates, it's so untidy. And you'll notice a distinct lack of entries, here, too. yes, all that "free time" (cough) should've given me plenty of opportunities to update the old diary. Not happening. I need a personal manager. Someone to answer the phones for me and say "NO, I'm sorry. Mrs. Parker canNOT tutor yet another child who is behind in reading." and "No, I'm sorry. Mrs. Parker canNOT cover another shift in the library." and "No, I'm sorry, Mrs. Parker canNOT teach one afternoon a week, even if she is allowed to bring her youngest, who only has school in the mornings." You get the idea.

8. Skip has positively blossomed since hitting Middle School. He is excited about school (90% of the time, as opposed to Absolute Zero percent of the time in 5th Grade). There are still some rough patches, of course. I just hope the rough patches get smaller rather than larger.

8a. Skip's teacher emailed me. She loved my Million Word Essay. I need to email her back and ask if I got an "A".

9. I have returned to obsessively tracking a box full of yarn that is being shipped to me. Inside? The yarn for my very first "knit-along". I'll be knitting THIS. I kind of have butterflies, as it's a bit ambitious. At least for me. But I'm hoping that the 'cloud of witness' who are also knitting along will keep me on task, so that I can have this as a finished object sooner, rather than later.

10. I gained back a few of the pounds lost in last season's Healthy Living Fest. I blame it on the Unhealthy Eating Fest that consumed (pun intended) the last four weeks. I am back on the wagon, even though there is two pounds of guacamole sitting in my fridge, calling my name.

Eleventh True Thing: This entry contains no photographic content. It's been a while.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Socks on Steroids...

Ah, the Harlotty goodness that was yesterday...

I managed to navigate my way to Full Thread Ahead without incident, and actually got there before the doors opened at 2:00. There were only about 15 people in front of me in line, too, which was a big surprise for me.

I thought I'd be braving the crushing mobs...

I guess knitters can be laid back if they want to be.

Got into the store, and got my book-signing ticket. Woot! I was in the first wave (you were assigned a wave, for which half-hour slot, post-Harlot-chat, you were to line up to have your book signed. Very civilized, I thought. And quite convenient, as I'd sort of told Ken and the kids at noon that I was "...just going to pop down to Los Altos and have an author sign a book that I was reading..." which was already pushing the bounds of their Toleration for Knitting Addiction, and the thought that I might have to phone and say "Well, the Yarn Harlot is speaking at 5:30, and then I won't be able to have my book signed until after 8:00" might have been more than their non-yarn-addled brains could process.)

So then I was floating around the yarn store with a bunch of time to kill, and good golly, WHAT to do with my time....

*looks around innocently*

OK. Three words: Alpaca. Silk. Soy.
(and if you think that translates into only 3 skeins...? Ha!)

I checked my watch as I was cashing out (and picking up the Yarn Harlot's latest book) and I realized that I'd need to move my car (two hour parking slots on the street. Who's idea was that? tsk tsk), so after a quick trip back to the Pilot to unload my new stash, I was off on a little tour to find a 3-hour slot. Under the blazing sun, I actually found a spot that was not only shaded, but was spitting distance from where they were setting up the chairs for the afternoon's talk. So while I watched folks set up rows and rows and ROWS of chairs under the hot-hot sun, I sat in the cool of my car, and organized my knitting bag.


What if I was sitting there, knitting my own business during the chat, and suddenly the Yarn Harlot was beset by mosquitos? I better keep my Off Deep Woods wipes in the bag. Then I could swoop in to SAVE THE DAY....

What if I'm sitting there, knitting my own business during the chat, and suddenly the Yarn Harlot breaks a dpn while she's knitting at the front? I better keep all those stray double point needles in the side pocket of the bag... just in case...

What if I'm sitting there, knitting my own business, and someone makes a comment about Handmaiden Sea Silk? I'd better keep my sea-silk shawl in my knitting bag, so I could pull it out, and let them sniff the wonderful sea-side smells of the yarn...

And so, as I tried to whittle down my 40-pound knitting bag, I was thwarted at every turn. Of course, it was a given that I'd keep three extra sets of batteries in the side pocket. It would be an ABSOLUTE tragedy if I got up to my turn to hold the Travelling Sock, only to have my camera die an unnatural death...

So it was with GREAT difficulty that I only managed to kick 8 skeins of yarn out of my knitting bag before I re-applied the lipstick (gotta look great for the crowd shot that I knew she'd be taking from the podium), and stepped out to prowl the venue and try to get the Best Possible Seat.

Did I mention that the sun was beating down? And that it was still two FULL hours before the talk would begin?

But we knitters, we are made of sterner stuff. This was T-minus 2 hours, and already nearly half the seats are filled. And that doesn't count the first FOUR rows, which were reserved, but for who knows who. I wonder who you had to know to sit in those posh four rows... I could've gotten some GREAT shots if I'd been sitting up there.

And yes, we are all knitting. And many of us (younger) knitters (and I use the term 'younger' with impunity, as I'm lumping myself in that group, when, really, I'm probably past the mid-point, age-wise) had "Hi! My Blog is..." nametags on so we could all find each other's KNITTING blogs.

(good grief! Note to self: Smile more.)
And yes, you'll notice I wore the "look at me! Look at me!" bright red "Canada" shirt. Bold and needy. That's me.

And everyone.... I mean EVERYONE was knitting one of two things: gigantic lace projects out of spider-web silk, or socks.

And if they weren't knitting those things, they were wearing them...

And I suddenly felt VERY out of place. I had no sock. I had no lace.

But I had a DIAPER SOAKER! And it looks VERY much like a sock. An extremely large sock. On steroids.

So I pulled out that soaker, and I started knitting on it, and people started giving me That Look. You know the one. The one that starts off all nice and interested, and quickly shifts through shock straight to pity. It took me back to my days in the hospital immediately after giving birth to Nate, where these new moms would come shuffling down the hallways, proudly pushing their little 5 and 6-pound sweeties, wincing about how difficult the birth had been, bla bla bla, yadda yadda, and then they'd see me standing there with twelve-and-a-half pound Nate, "yes, he came out the natural way, no I was not diabetic, and no, he wasn't overdue" standing there, and I'd get that same look. The "oh, we have something in common... no wait a minute... that thing is HUGE... oh, you poor dear, what did you do *wrong*?" look. Like I hadn't swatched him before I went into labour...

And we sat. And we knit. And the sun beat down all around, all around, and the sun beat down all around.

I think by the time 5:30 rolled around, I was a little puddle. But we were all jazzed when someone peeked out of the balcony above the shop.

And then, after some games and give-aways... (oh put me out of my misery. I won't be winning 'who's wearing their own Potamous socks [the designer was in the audience], or 'who's got the most stitches on their needle' [gotta be finishing a lace shawl to be in the running for that], or 'who's using the most unusual thing as a stitch marker' [stitch markers? What are these 'stitch markers'?]. So just bring on the Harlot, and let us laugh, already!) she came down stairs and the fun began.

First, she had to take a picture of the 400 of us, with her sock in the foreground...

And then she started talking, and really, it was like having her read her blog out loud. She writes just like she talks (or vice versa), and she talks JUST LIKE ME.

Well, ok, she talks just like I used to... before California swept much of my beloved accent out of my speech patterns.

And the sun went down, and all of us who'd been sweating up a storm while sitting in the hot-hot sun, suddenly were shivering with our teeth chattering. And the people who had been knitting on the big bulky projects that I'd been laughing at while the sun was out, suddenly looked nice and toasty warm under their giant mohair lace projects, and I was jealous.

After making us all laugh until we cried, she then retired into the store to sign books.

(for those of you who read her, the closest thing to me is the Dale of Norway sweater that she knit for the knitting olympics, and the next thing (all autumny coloured) is an Icarus shawl that she just finished before coming on this latest tour. I think the designer lived in Utah, and she had to have it to show her). And she's the NICEST person close up. She was even knitting a few stitches on folks' socks if they handed them over. Now THAT would be something....

And then it was MY turn, and I got all nervous and mile-a-minute talking, because I didn't want to take up any of her time, and I knew there were 388 people behind me in line, and I just started rambling, and in my attempt to NOT take up her time, I'm sure I just took up WAY too much time, and probably looked all nervous-stalkerish, and stuff. And I couldn't look at her while I was taking my diaper soaker out of my knitting bag, because I wanted to take a picture of the Petite Ballerina Sock beside the Oafish Sumo Wrestler Sock...

But I still heard her GASP, with a "What the..." as she saw the size of what one would ASSUME would be a sock, and it was all I could do to not say "Why yes, my husband has VERY large.... feet." but instead, I assured her that I wasn't a complete failure in the gauge department, and it was actually a diaper soaker, and not a sock, and I didn't have to let on that I'd never turned a heel in my life, and was afraid to, and that's why I had this, and not a beautiful little petite jaywalker sock to share with her.

(and could I have planned it any better? It's almost like they MATCH!)

And then the store owner took my camera from me, because, in her words "I'm a control freak, and I don't let ANYONE else take pictures here, because I want your picture to be perfect"

I think it's important that I frame my "perfect" picture with the Yarn Harlot. Perhaps with my double chin cropped out.

The sock inspires me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Harlotty Anticipation


I have spent the entire morning flitting around like a moth.

Ooh! Sparkly things.
Ooh. Take a dish out of the dishwasher.
Ooh. Put more laundry in the washer.

OoH! Change into the Marc Teatro "Canada" t-shirt, so that the yarnharlot might notice me at her book signing this afternoon.

ooh! Is that too much? Maybe I should go with the plain turquoise shirt and white cardigan....

Ooh. Wander around and pick up random pieces of should-be-recycled paper, and put them back down again.

Ooh! Gardeners are here. Quickly run out to dismantle the tent that's been airing out in the backyard.

Check watch. Is it time to go line up to hear/see the yarn harlot yet? (She's speaking at Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos this afternoon, and I've had my RSVP in since about 3 minutes after the notice went up on their web site this spring.) Oh man, it is! It's time! And I've not started a sock! Tragedy, truly. I guess the half-finished diaper soaker will have to do, and I'll claim that I'm Achillephobic (afraid of turning heels), and hope that she takes pity on me and still lets me take my picture with the travelling sock. Ooh. Or maybe I'll throw the half-finished Sea-Silk shawl into the knitting bag, and sit in the back row and inhale its surfy goodness.

Knitting bag. Check.
Knitting projects, comma, seven. Check. (You can never have too many things on the go. And besides, the line-up to have her sign my book might be long. I might actually finish something, and wouldn't it be awful if I didn't have anything else to work on while I waited?)
Pen (for her to sign my book). Check.


Oh crap. I knew I forgot something.
Better jet off now and go buy her book. Wouldn't I look like a fool, eh?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Last day of Art Camp. Company Picnic.

Skip and Kelly had their last day of Fine Art Camp last Friday. I dropped them off (on time! Go me!), and then went on a cleaning/packing bender.

All the rooms are company-ready. Last of the laundry's done. And put away! All the bags are packed. I know I've forgotten something. Probably many somethings (in retrospect, I can now say that list included - but is in no way limited to - my deodorant, rechargeable batteries, Ken's socks, a warm shirt for me, and Skip's swim trunks). I took out trash that I've been meaning to take out for ages. I cleaned the neighbour's kitchen under the bird cage, even.

At noon I dropped by Fine Art Camp to snag Skip and Kelly a little bit early. New Hip Company's Family Picnic started at 12, and it was only going until 4. I wanted the kids to have as much of the experience as they could have (not to mention that I didn't want to miss out on the great food, and any other adult goodies that might be coming my way).

We were a little tight for time (only because I'd made it so - I'm sure the kids didn't really worry whether they were an hour or two late for the NHC picnic), so I was thinking that it'd be a bit of a smash-n-grab for getting the kids at camp. I showed up, the teachers having been warned that I'd be an hour early (and they were OK with it, even though that last hour was going to be spent in rehearsals for Skip's drama and Kelly's dance, which would be happening that evening at the Big Show), to discover that Skip had been transformed.

Yikes. And that makeup was HARD to get off. I tried wet paper towels (their first suggestion), then moved to some dish soap that was handy, adn finally had to leave the place with a fist-full of baby wipes. Not only had Skip completely transformed his head and neck, he'd also completely made up his left arm.

We went straight to the New Hip Company picnic. They'd taken over a local outdoor concert venue, and had made the place up as Alice in Wonderland.

So Kelly (still in stage makeup, though not nearly as radical as Skip's), got to meet Alice...

...and the Mad Hatter...

...and the King and Queen of Hearts...

...while Skip went up and down a climbing wall to his heart's content.

...and I ate to my heart's content. There are no photos of THAT spectacle...

On the way home from that party, Ken and Skip took a detour (we divided up the kids so we both could take advantage of the HOV lanes) past some geek-gadget place, because he'd found the Ultimate Deal on some GPS system, and thought it'd be fun to have on our trip (which, at that point, was beginning in less than 12 hours).

I took the Wees home, and gave them a bit of supper, and found the clothes that Skip would need for his role in the evening's production, and then we met up again at the Fine Arts Camp, for the Grand Finale Show.

Wouldn't you know it, my batteries died. Stone cold dead, the minute after I took the first picture of Skip in the back of the crowd during the drumming number. It was like a kid's version of Stomp. Not bad for a week's worth of instruction.

I was so bummed about the battery thing, though. Kelly was the cutest little pirate you've ever seen, and I have no record of it. And Skip was a sea monster, in a most creatively constructed costume. The instructors there are all geniuses. I swear.

Anyways, we beatled out of there as fast as we could, and got the kids home and into bed in their Travelling Clothes. Tomorrow would be an early day, and I wanted them to get as much rest as they could.

If only I'd taken my own advice.

I was packed, and ready, even. WHY did I think that doing some knitting (to relax me?) while watching "Psych" and taking out more garbage and putzing around in the house doing "last minute things" until 11 was a good idea?????

Anyone? Anyone?
Buehler...? Buehler...?

Oh well. At least I didn't have to worry about where the passports and birth certificates were.

I crashed around 11, making sure (for about a dozen times) that my cell phone's alarm was set to go off at 3:45am.

Because I'm crazy like that.

Doesn't EVERYONE start their vacation at 3am?

26/52 ABC *P*

P is for...


And not just any pirate.

That's Dread Pirate Skippy... er, I mean Roberts.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My New Boyfriend

So, on a complete lark this morning, I decided to take the kids up to The City.

I'd read in a diarist that I'd found on the front page that there was some "event" happening up at City Hall at noon, and it sounded like a fun thing to peek in on. I had no idea what exactly was up, but I thought it couldn't hurt.

So at 10:30 I piled the kids into the car (up until that point, Ken and I had been talking - he was working from home this morning - and I'd said I'd take the kids to Bair Island to get them out of his hair) stuck some sand toys into the Pilot (in case we ended up heading out to the beach afterwards), and zipped up to the city.

The main thought, though, was to take the kids to this play park that Nate had found back in June when we were waiting for Skip to finish rehearsing with the symphony. It's this cool dome thing made out of rope. And we got some good play time in on it:

But our first order of business (after finding a completly ROCKIN' free parking space) was to head down to City Hall.

We walked around, and had a little civics lesson from some toothless crazy-lady, on how Lincoln's Spirit lives in this statue (because LOOK at his eyes, they follow you!) and keeps San Francisco free of slavery, or something, while I was taking this photo:

And then the kids started getting whiny, and antsy, and there really was no sign of this 'special event' that I'd read about (only cursorily, alas) in this diary that had been up on the OD front page for a nanosecond, so I was thinking that I probably dreamed it, and it was probably all for the best, because the last thing someone needs is to write about some good work that they're doing, and then have some crazy-lady OD-stalker show up going "I read about this in your Online Diary, and now I'm stalking you. Here, meet my kids."

So then there was the spectre of walking around the ENTIRE huge City Hall again, and curiousity got the better of me.

I wonder if we could just CUT THROUGH the building....

Nate was whining so loud, I thought someone was going to call security.

"I don't want to."
"My legs hurt."
"I don't want to climb the stairs."
"My arm is tired."

The list goes on and on.

But I peeked in the door, and there was this crowd of people going through this one metal detector, and a security guard sitting at a second detector all alone.

He waved at me, and called me over.

"Um..." I started, all idiot-like, "Are we allowed to be in here?" I asked.

And while he was answering, he was waving Skip, Kelly, and Nate through the metal detector, and handing me back my purse, "Not only can you come in, you're welcome to take pictures, too!" he exclaimed.

I guess they deal with more ignoramus-esque tourists than me. Perhaps on a daily basis. So kind. So knowledgeable.

And before I knew it, we were inside the cool marble halls, and the kids were running on ahead.

Children were singing in the distance. We followed the sounds.

And entered the rotunda, where the sound rolled around, and echoed, and was superb. Angelic.

There was some special event, for sure. It was INSIDE. Who knew? I'd been looking outside for it.

I looked around. There were two rows of chairs laid out in a circle, and the stairs going up to the upper floors seemed to be acting like a stage. I think it was some African-American heritage thing, involving children. Kelly pulled on my sleeve. "Mom," she whispered, a grin on her face "everyone's black except us!"

I looked around. She was mostly right. But there was one other guy who wasn't black. I tried not to look lost, and when he looked over, I gave him a nice "do you feel as conspicuous as I do?" sheepish grin.

And then the woman who was emcee-ing the event said "And now, ladies and gentlemen, our Mayor, Gavin Newsom!" and the applause burst out, and the guy that I was grinning at stepped up to the mike.

Ok, dumb bunny? That's me.

I'm just glad I didn't say something like "Are you Canadian? Because you look REALLY familiar!"

But you know, he's really quite a hot property in person.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my new boyfriend, Mayor Gavin Newsom.

(please excuse the crappy photo. No flash and a teeny lens on the camera)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Running the Brown Trail

No, this is not a potty entry, if that's what you're thinking. Just get that out of your head.

This summer, while Skip is home (when he's not at camp, or on tour), he's "earning" his computer time. Time spent reading garners him computer minutes one-to-one. Time spent actually concentrating at piano practicing garners him computer minutes at 3-to-one.

And time running the brown trail (a path through the wild canyon space behind the house - aka Mountain Lion Territory) gets him two-to-one computer minutes.

Whether he wants to or not, I've been making him run the trail at least once a day. I think he's got great potential as a cross country runner, and why not get him in shape for the Middle School Cross Country tryouts in August?

And besides, it gets him out in the sun, it gets him active, and it puts him just one step ahead of the "I spent my ENTIRE summer sitting in front of a computer/video-game/tv" crowd, right?

I just realized the other day (Um, Saturday morning? Or maybe Sunday? The previous Sunday? Yeah... that's it. Golly, that time just flew past), that he can completely leave me in the dust. I was walking the Brown Trail with him, and he was all pouty that I was walking too fast, and the wind was blowing and making him cold, and this was no fun at all, and so borrrrrrrr-eeeeng, so I suggested that he run. "Look. You can run away from the wind, thus avoiding the chilling breeze, you'll be firing up your internal furnace to warm you, you'll get done in a fraction of the time it'll take to walk, so it'll go faster, and you'll be less bored, and you might even pass me, so you won't have to worry about me setting a pace that's too speedy."

Suddenly, he was off, and I was off chasing him. I kept him in my sights for about a quarter of the trail, and then I had to stop. Good grief, if I hadn't, they'd probably find my cold hard corpse lying prone in his dust. Yes, I am not in the same shape I was when I was a middle-distance runner in Junior High. *thinks back*... 29 years ago...

So I'm sending him out to run the trail by himself.

And then I'm having him 'babysit' Nate, while I run the trail by myself.

My goal is to be able to run the whole thing by the end of the summer. And if I lost a bit of weight? That'd just be icing on the cake... which will be made with applesauce instead of oil, and will have fat-free, sugar-free frosting.

Yesterday was my first "serious" attempt.

I ran a bit, walked a bit, jogged a bit, panted-like-a-winded-old-geezer a bit, and made it home in 12 minutes and 12 seconds.

Today, I took another stab at the trail. A bit more running. A bit more "ouch! What are these shooting pains in my shins?" thoughts. A bit less panting, and I hope a bit less wheezing.

I surprised 5 bunnies. Two adults, and three babies, at different points on the trail. What a hoot. Next time, I hope I stumble (well, not REALLY stumble) onto some quail.

And when I got home, and stopped the stopwatch, I'd shaved nearly a full minute off my time.


I know that Skip can do the thing in just under 10 minutes. Probably even LESS if he really put his mind to it.

I've got a ways to go, but I'm on the right track.

Once I get under 10 minutes, I'm gonna take a camera on the run, and take y'all along for the ride.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

26/52 ABC *I*

26/52 ABC *I* 5/2/2006
I was wracking my brain, until I realized that I'd blotted out a big giant part of my past.

What was I doing back in 1987?

Why, I was an entomologist. Sheesh. There should be INSECT photos galore... somewhere...

Until then, we will subsist on the more recent fare.


One of the zillion ladybug beetles that we came across in the mountains above Death Valley.

And YUM! Look at the size of that praying mantis that was waiting on the door of our cabin.

And yes, ants are INSECTS, too, but I think I've got MORE than enough photos of ants in my diary, don't you?

So instead, a little bit of the OTHER social INSECT scourge...


And a double bonus, because their order is ISOPTERA! Another I-word.

26/52 ABC *H*

26/52 ABC *H* 5/1/2006
I'm a little behind.

But here's what I came across in my last few weeks of photos.

H is for...

HAMSTER. (hmm. I hope I didn't use this shot for G is for Gentle)

H is for...

HARNESS. Yes, that's me (a bit blurry. Sorry.) in the HELMET, too. This was one of the activities that was available on the Women's Retreat that I went away on this last weekend. I am getting ready to go HIGH in the trees.



Oh right!

H is also for...

HIDING (because what better place to HIDE an orange Easter Egg than on the Resurrection Orb...aka leftover Halloween pumpkin)

And here are the mighty HUNTERS

OH, and because I seem to be in photo-overload mode, here's one last shot


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fry the Fly

Fry the Fly 5/4/2006
I just pulled a pan of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies out of the oven, and set the cookie sheet down on the kitchen counter. Didn't realize there was a fly taking a breather there. Boy howdy did that guy buzz out of the way at the very last second.

Last I checked, he's breathing hard (as hard as a fly can breathe, anyways) on a high corner of the cupboard.

That'll teach him for sitting on my kitchen counters.

You'd think there were fresh crumbs or bits of last night's dinner crusted there, or something, that'd make him want to have a little snack. Sheesh. He should know those crumbs are at LEAST a week old. Have some class, Mr. Fly.

Stream of consciousness stuff. I've got 5 minutes before Little Gym.

Last year, I put my very-favourite-in-the-whole-world, there-will-never-be-another-like-you, fit-me-like-a-glove sunglasses in a Very Safe Place.

Since then, I've gone through at least a dozen pairs of sub-par replacements.

I guess it's true. You never forget your first true love.

Sheesh, the three pairs that I got in Gilroy this summer? You'd think at least ONE of them would've fit the bill. One of those pair even LOOKED like my First Love Glasses. But, oh, underneath the skin, they were worlds away. And the five... yes, FIVE pair that I've snagged at Target or Walgreens to try to protect my sickly-pale blue eyes? Talk to the hand, because the eyes, they just ain't listening. (which, when you think about it, is perfectly normal for eyes not to listen, and I've mixed my metaphors beyond salvage)

They're too tight, or they don't stay up my nose, or they pinch my nose in a way that makes me want to throw up (who knew there was an accupressure point for vomit THERE?), or they brush up against my cheek (only the left one) in a too-familiar way, or they crush my eyelashes, or they just make me feel bad, or they started out GREAT, and got a scratch, a nice deep annoying scratch before I'd even got them home the first day.

Sheesh. Tangent much?

Busy day from heck today.

Skip had his Artists Project to present first thing in the aye-em. Gotta take in the old easel from the Famous-Dude-That-We-Bought-Our-Montreal-House-From, for him to present his art on. (Photo to follow in another entry).

Oh, and hello, it's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at the public library at 9. Yes, please bring Nate.

Whoops. Skip's gonna be singing at NOON! And in full Concert Dress. Meaning he needs the NEXT tie, having been promoted into the fancy-schmancy group. So a quick jaunt from the brunch to the Uniform Store to grab the tie.

Quickly back to the house, dump a load of laundry in. Time to pay bills? Nope. Gotta jet.

Back to the school. Grab Skip, and make him change in the nurse's office. Wait for Skip's buddy to be brought over from the local Middle School, then race the boys down to Palo Alto for their singing gig. Oh, and a quick stop at Safeway on the way beccause I forgot Skip's lunch on the kitchen counter,

Wait in the hotel lobby while the boys sing. I sneak back to the conference room, to watch the show. They sound so good. I'm so proud. I think I got something in my eye. No, maybe it's allergies. No, I do not need a tissue.

Take the boys back to their respective schools.

Snag Kelly and her girlfriend from First Grade. Come home. Play for 20 minutes. Go back to school to collect Skip. Pull back home into the driveway as Skip announces "oh, wait. I think I left my backpack with my homework on the basketball court". Drive BACK to school.

Do dishes.

Make cookies.

Nearly kill a fly.

Make snacks for the kids.

Put away laundry.

Send Skip off on his carpool to Youth Group. Remind myself (write on my hand) that I am picking the kids up from the venue at 7:45.

Make supper for Kelly and her friend.

Leave for Little Gym... five minutes ago. Whoops. I guess they'll be late.

Oh, and driving to the singing gig, I got distracted watching a bus driver putting a mountain bike on the rack on the front of the bus. When I looked back, the rear end of a Beemer was quickly approaching. I slammed on the binders, and missed him by at LEAST an inch. Good thing I just had new brakes installed. The boys were instantly awake.

And as I looked down, on the floor of the passenger side, there were my Best Beloveds. My favourite sunglasses. The ones that had been missing for over a year.

All's right with the world.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The downside of getting up so early.

The downside of getting up so early... 4/21/2006
Y'know, I've had a couple of productive days.

Getting up at dawn will do that, apparently.

But the side-effect of that is something that bit me in the butt today.

You see, Fridays are our one early day (for the kids, anyways. It's a 'late day' for Ken). Skip has an early band rehearsal at school. Ken "sleeps in" (until 7) and takes him to school at 7:40 on his way in to a late start at work.

So, imagine my shock and horror when, after an incredibly difficult night of moving to Russia and living in a giant abandoned tenement with KATI and Matt LeBlanc, and a few people that I knew in college, and realizing that the entire 15 story building didn't have a single working bathroom, and trying to find a sofa-bed that would fit under a built-in basketball hoop in Matt's studio apartment (the only one that had even a passable view - even if it was of the Endless Steppe), I awoke to discover that we'd had an alarm clock malfunction in the night, and it was 7:48.

*cue the crazy Keystone Cops music as we all ran around like headless chickens*

Let the record show that I managed to get Skip up, dressed, fed, backpacked, trumpeted, and out the door in THREE MINUTES. He was 12 minutes late for practice (the practice starts at 7:45, so that earlier time is just to give Ken a little slop, should he need it), pulling onto campus at 7:57.

I'm still waiting for my heart rate to come back down to approaching-normal.


I guess you really CAN'T burn the candle at both ends...

Of course, when I got home, breathless from driving in bare-feet at speeds more approaching highway levels than neighbourhood ones, I realized that Kelly still wasn't up.


Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I actually got food into Kelly in the kitchen though. Skip had to eat in the car. Kelly? I stood her by the fridge, and spooned Yoplait custard style into her as fast as she would swallow.

Yes, I'm certain that I'll be one of the finalists in the Mom of the Year Pageant.

Still time to redeem myself.

I'll be at the school in a half hour, working in the library. With any luck, I'll be able to lay my hands on the overdue library books of both of my children, and get that taken care of. If not, it's a good thing that I've got Root Password for the library computer system...

Why, oh why, did I stay up until nearly midnight watching GalaxyQuest?

It's my own fault.

And company's coming.

Guests tonight for our Home Group Evening. Gotta clean for that. And cook. Well, bake, anyways. Ken would like a veggie platter, too. (adds a trip to MollieLand to the errand list).

And houseguests arrive on Sunday afternoon.

They're staying for a week.

I am So not ready for that.

But I will be. And I'm gonna make them feel more than welcome, because on Thursday, I'm abandoning my family (and houseguests) to do music at a Women's Retreat. Not even my church, but it should be fun. I think they were talking about going all acoustic, just with me and another woman on guitars. But they also want a 'full sound', and my friend (who volunteered me for this music gig) said "oh, do you want her to play the bass, too?" Gotta brush up on my bass playing skillz, then. And there was rumours of a keyboard request, too. Maybe I should just toss ALL our instruments into the back of the Pilot for the trip down to the retreat center... I'll learn more on Sunday at the SINGLE band rehearsal.

So the houseguests will be looking after the kids on Thursday and Friday while I'm away, and Ken's at work. Good thing they're so flexible about stuff.

Another dishcloth is done.

Goodness, they're satisfying little bits of completion. Almost makes me NOT want to start a big project.


9:04. Time to go find the late library books.

And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll find the library book that Skip (or, really, *I*) never returned to the public library, that I just got a 'replacement notice' about. Lincoln: Lawyer, Legislator, Legend (or something like that). Sheesh. I can't believe I dropped the ball on that one. $21.75. I suppose it could be worse. We've probably built up nearly that much in late fees on the thing, when it comes down to it...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Food deals. And non-deals

Sometimes, a deal is not a deal.

Tuesday, I got a GREAT price on a ham that was bigger than my head. Truly a great price. As in, "What are you doing even THINKING about not buying this?" price.

Why do I do this to myself? Nate and I are the only ones that eat the stuff. so then, after I cut two (quite ample) slices off for supper, Tuesday, I was left with the daunting task (after returning from rehearsal late that night, and watching my pre-recorded House - minus the ads) of cutting all the meat off that bone, and finding places for all the little packages in the fridge and freezer.

And you just KNOW I'm gonna forget that I have that meat stashed away...


Also, in the "Why do I do this to myself with food" department:

Thursday morning. (ooh, a week ago). Near the end of the kids' Spring Break from school. There's a knock at the front door.

Standing there is one of Skip's classmates. And his mother. She's starting a new career after 16+ years of doing who-knows-what up in The City.

And parked at the curb is a mini pick-up truck with a coffin in the back, and "Horizon Foods" on the side.

Let me show you what I'm goign to be doing...
Such a great opportunity...
Working with my son...
What kind of meat do you eat...?
How about seafood....
This is such a great deal....
You won't be able to resist...
Do your kids eat pizza...?
Here, let's look in the freezer I've got in the truck...

And she talked and talked, and I thought "Surely this *IS* the great deal that she said it was, so I said that I liked Rib-Eye steaks, and Ken would occasionally (like once a month) eat red meat, and then it was a New York steak, and the kids might be tempted to eat the Fajita chicken strips, though they'd rather poke out their own eyes.

Oh, there's a deal if I buy FOUR boxes? Well, the Lemon Chicken looks pretty good. No, I'll stay away from the seafood. Ken's allergic to the preservative in the shellfish.

What? Oh, there's no preservatives in OUR shellfish. It's all flash frozen on the boat.

Really? Let's take a look on the box... See there? Contents: Flash frozen shrimp, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE (as preservative). That is the thing that'll nearly send Ken to the ER. Maybe you should make a note of that, in case you're selling to anyone else that has allergies...

Think of the savings... having everything ready and at hand. Your life will be easier. You can lounge around eating bonbons all day!

Let's just add this up, and see what it is, after I give you the discounts...



Excuse me while I go find the smelling salts.

Fortunately, I was able to play the "We just paid the property taxes" card.

Oh, well, then, what if we do "Buy 3 boxes, get 1 free"? That brings your cost down... DOWN to nearly $12/serving. Though that's just for the meat.

*fans self* I don't know about y'all, but when I'm costing out my groceries, I like to do most meals under $2/serving. For EVERYTHING.

So then she played the "Time Savings" card. Think of all the time you waste going to the grocery store!

Sorry. That's my little zen-time. Walking the aisles brings me peace. It's like walking the labyrinth.

Then she pulled out the "Time savings at home" card. How much time away from your family is spent preparing food?

Heh. She doesn't know me very well, does she? If I can't pull together something in under 15 minutes, I just don't do it. And I do it WITH the kids.

So I played the "Power Outage" card. 'You *DO* know that we have extended power outages here during the warm months, don' t you? And I don't know about you, but I'd curl up and DIE if I had $600 worth of meat in my freezer, slowly thawing out and going bad during a hot August afternoon.'

Back and forth, back and forth.

And finally, I just felt sorry for her, and pulled out the cheque-book and snagged a box of the Lemon Chicken Breasts. The cookbook (free with purchase) says that there are 16-18 portions in the box. Even if there *IS* 18 in there, those boobs are still costing their weight in gold. EIGHTY SEVEN DOLLARS? And that's WITH my discounts.

Oh well.

I cooked up our first pair the other night. Yeah, it was fast getting them into the oven. About as fast as if I'd bought fresh in my thrice-weekly Zen-time at Safeway, and tossed some salad dressing on them before popping them in the oven.

But the size? Good golly, Miss Molly! I'd starve. Either that, or I've got some serious learning to do about portion size. (yes, I know that the chicken boobs that one gets at the grocery store are good for two portions. But we don't eat meat every day, so I give us doubles when we do). Five bites, and that boob was gone from my plate.

Oh well, I say.

I'll chalk it up to my Civic and Neighbourly Duty. And I did keep her son off the streets for another day.

Y'know, there really may be something to this "getting up early" business.

Yesterday, I got up when Ken got in the shower (5:45! Eek!), and by the time six rolled around, I'd emptied all the trash cans in the house, and gotten the trash and recycling to the curb, and put on a load of laundry. By the time the kids were stirring at 7, I'd finished up the song sheets for the Ladies Bible Study later that morning, started another dish cloth, and emptied and re-stuffed the school backpacks. And because I was so on the ball, when Kelly mentioned that she really, REALLY wanted to wear her Hello Kitty pink suede mocassins (that had been broken since September, when the stitching all came undone on one of them), I had time to get some kitchen cotton (for the next dishcloth) in a matching colorway, and stitch up her broken mocassin, good as new.

I tell you, by Eight O'clock, I was Queen of the World.

And by the time I'd finished leading the music at 9:30, and was sitting down to hear my friend talk about John 14, I was ready for a nap. That'll teach me to sit in the front row.

Four words: They Heard Me Snore!

Fortunately, I rallied in time to get the kids, take them for lunch, coach them in tear-jerking commentary inside three Mothers Day cards for Ken's mom, get Skip to his piano lesson, hit the post office, and drive the Ragazzi carpool. Both ways.

Oh, and leftover ham for supper.

What else? I do believe I'm hearing oinking in my sleep.

Oh, and lest I forget:
Shortly after Ken left for work this morning (ie, less than a minute), the phone rang.

It was Ken. He was using his angry voice. I can't remember the last time I heard him use it.

"Someone. Has. Given. Us. Art... A. Lovely. "Fuck. You." On. The. Driveway."

J-jumping! I'm in the club!

After popping into regular clothes, I went out with a bucket and a brush. Fortunately, the 3-foot-tall chalk letters vanished with the liberal attentions of the hose.

Even though it was chalk, it was SO unsettling. Someone had come up our driveway RIGHT to the garage door, and had done their tagging. Although, as I looked at it, it looked like the work of a 15 year old girl, trying out her best "bad to the bone" font. All it needed was a little flower over the dotted 'i'. I suppose I should be glad that they ran out of chalk before adding "shit" to the artwork. Though seeing a little flower-dotted-i might've been worth my taking a picture of it.

Guess it's a good thing I didn't leave out the basket of spray paint cans...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll 4/18/2006
Several times a day, Kelly will get thoughtful and quiet. "Mom. I think that man would've been OK if he'd just remember to Stop, Drop, and Roll. Do you think he knows about "stop, drop, and roll"?"

Needless to say, the fire's still weighing rather heavily on her. But she seems very upbeat.

Ken and I talked about it that night. A little strip of mini-warehouses? One bay suddenly bursting into a fireball? Doesn't that just scream "meth lab" to you?

The next day, Saturday, Kelly and I were out delivering the draperies for the Youth Room (yes, I finished sewing and hemming all of them. All. Of. Them.). After we'd unloaded the panels (...*counts on fingers*... 13 in all, that trip, for a grand total of... 23), Kelly asked if we could go and see if the fire was out. We were nearly half way there by the time we got to the church, so we just kept heading south.

All was well on San Antonio Road. And the little strip of warehouses? Good grief, I'd make an atrocious witness if it ever came down to that. It wasn't a strip of warehouses at all. It was a store-front with an office, and behind, along a long narrow driveway, the place that had gone up in flames was a Smog Check Station. Egads.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:

I never saw anything about the fire on the news. I even tried Googling it the next day. No luck.

And I knew that I'd have a bit of run-around, calling 911 on my cell. Calls from cells go to CHP first, and then are re-directed. I was most impressed, though, I must say, at how INCREDIBLY quickly the transferring went. Seriously, it was click-click and there was another calm voice on the line. I truly had braced myself for one of those "lost on hold" horror stories, and it just Was Not.

My hat is off to those guys.

Sunday morning, after the first set of music, Ken came down from the stage (he'd been doing keyboards), and leaned over to me. I was expecting him to say something very spiritual about the music, or pious about the message.


"I had a great idea up there. I think I did the taxes wrong, and if I recalculate them, I think we'll end up paying about a third of what I originally thought. Whew, am I glad I didn't mail them off yesterday."


I think of it as Divine Intervention.

Had the 5th Annual Easter Egg Hunt at our house on Sunday afternoon.

I was really worried that it'd get competely rained out, and I'd have "Children With Impulse Control Issues" rampaging through my house looking for hidden eggs, but at the last minute, the clouds broke, and I told the kids that they'd better watch themselves on the lawn, because there was swampy bits that could eat a child alive. While the kids were sequestered in the computer room (playing Runescape, no less), I gave all the adults a bag of eggs, and sent them off in 5 directions.

Chop, chop, you don't know how long the non-rainy break will last, and some of the eggs contained perishable stuff.

After several years of 'working out the kinks', I now fill different coloured eggs for the different kids. It prevents Skip and his buddy Cole from cleaning up all the eggs before Nate even has a chance. And Nate's still collecting eggs from the middle of the lawn.

The egg-distribution (and hiding, for the older boys) had to be put on hold in the front yard, though, while I did my own "hunt" for adult goodies that had been hidden for me. Yes, I scored a bunch of empty Bud Light cans strewn across my front/side yard. One of them was still half full! Score! (or not!) Thankyou, booze-hound neighbours who have no couth.

Oh well. They're aluminum cans, and I can take them to school on Friday for recycle goodness.

And, for the record, the skies OPENED UP (complete with hail) not 15 minutes after the last egg was found, and the kids were back inside starting in on their sugar comas.

I've suddenly become a dishcloth knitting machine. I can't get enough of that cottony goodness.

A corollary of that is that Ken's wool sweater has been put on indefinite hold.

Hmm. Gotta leave to get Skip from school. His class let out 2 minutes ago.

The mailman just drove up. Kelly and Nate went to grab the mail from him, and he doled out a little bit to each of them, giving Nate the stuff that's not as hard to hold onto.

Then, when I came charging out, because I had Kelly's camp registration that HAD to go in the mail today, to hand to him, he started up a conversation.

"So, your husband's moved over to New Hip Company, has he? How's he liking it there? Was he head-hunted, or did he just want to make a change?"

Gotta love a well-informed mailman.

Ours is the best.

After uncountable days of rain, the sun has come back out.

Just in time for the kids to go back to school.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, where were you when we needed you during the interminable week of Spring Break?

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'll be your witness. Part 2.

I'll be your witness. Part 2. 4/14/2006
Apparently, driving home with Kelly alone gives us some wierd attraction for disasters.

First, it was the rear-ender in the next lane, witnessed out her window by the intrepid Kelly, herself. I think I may have written about it. Last month? The previous one?

And then tonight.

Tonight, I did something I've never done before (and quite frankly, I'd be happy if I never had to do it again, but I'm not holding my breath).

I called 911.
From my cell phone.
In my car.

After a lovely supper out at a local Szechuan place, Ken took the boys home, while I took Kelly with me on a tour through the two farther-away Joann Fabric stores, searching for the "Amaretto Linen-Like Solids" fabric that was marked down this weekend to $2.99/yard. I've been asked to make draperies for the new youth room at church, and they'd like to have as much of the room done as possible by Easter Sunday.

Um, that'd be the day after tomorrow.

(begin giant aside about sewing draperies)

Last week, I went out with one of the women who's the driving force behind the remodel, and she showed me to this great fabric place up in San Mateo right on the 101. I don't recall the name, but it was a little warehouse with bolts and bolts and bolts of fabric. Mostly, it wasn't appropriate for our needs, but she found a bolt of navy twill that she thought would be good. (Six bucks a yard. Cough cough) 24 yards later, I had a nice bolt in my car, and was heading home to make drapes. I decided to go for quick-and-dirty and cut 3-yard panels, not hemmed down the selvedges (it IS for a youth lounge, after all), sewed a 3.5 inch rod-pocket across the top, and steam-a-seamed a 2 inch hem. An hour, and I had eight panels ready to go. We managed to get those up on the wall by last Sunday.

Then my "supervisor" went on vacation with her family, and I was cut loose to "make my own decisions" about what I thought would be good for the other 36 feet of walls. And if I could get another wall done by Easter, that'd be gravy!

Earlier this week, I went out with my dad (another of the things I got done while they were here. I forgot!) and picked up 15 yards of ruby red bull denim. It's a bit heavier than the navy twill, but it sewed up nice. This morning I got 5 panels cut and the tops sewed. I ran out of steam-a-seam, though, so only brought 3 panels to the church at noon when I went to walk through the Good Friday Stations of the Cross with Skip. On the way home from that (hooray for Play Dates for Kelly and Nate. I coulnd't have taken 3 kids into Joann's and survived) Skip and I stopped at the local Joann's and picked up some more hem tape. While I was there, I realized that the fake linen fabric (that WAS $4.99/yard) was on super-sale, and this was the time to grab it, so I snagged 15 yards of a "tropical green'. ($2.49/yard. Woot! No... double WOOT!) I bought out what the store had, though. I really needed more, hence the post-supper trip south with Kelly.

(end big giant aside)

Anyways, we went south to the closer of the farther-away Joann's, and snagged all the "tropical green" they had. And I also got sucked in by a lovely "lime yellow" (really, a bright chartreuse!), and got 9 yards of that, too.

Seeing as I'd already driven that far south, and there was still over an hour left in business hours, I decided to make the trek to the Mountain View store. Jackpot! They had more tropical green AND more lime yellow. On this visit, I also snagged matching thread (While I'm pretty sure I've got teal thread at home, I knew for a fact that chartreuse wasn't in the inventory. And at 30% off? Need I say more?)

As I was heading back to the 101 from Joann's, I suddenly realized that off ahead to the right the sky was brighter. And suddenly orange. Ooh. Maybe it's a fire?

I got closer, and could see flames. I was getting ready to move out of the way, should the fire trucks suddenly whistle past, when suddenly a naked man on fire jumped out towards the front of the car, waving his hands frantically.

One word: Eek!

In retrospect, he wasn't on fire. Smoking a bit, I think. But there were flames behind him, and he looked charred around the edges. He was panic stricken, and I was too stunned to stop in time. I slammed on the binders, and looked for a place to pull over. It was nearly a block before it registered what I'd just seen.

I pulled over. Kelly was crying. Surely someone will stop, I thought, but cars kept streaming past me.

So I got out my phone.

I could never be an emergency worker. I was all tied up in a knot just hitting "send".

911: 911 operator. What is the address of the emergency?

Me: I'm on San Antonio Road, near Charleston. Palo Alto, I think. There's a naked man on fire. And a warehouse on fire.

911: Palo Alto? I'm transfering you now.
911(new voice): What is the address of the emergency?

Me: I'm on San Antonio Road. Maybe near Charleston. Behind me about a block there's a warehouse to the south on fire. There's a man running out from the fire. I think he's hurt, maybe burned.

911: That's Mountain View. I'm transferring you now.
911(another voice): What is the address of the emergency?

Me: (detecting a pattern here?) San Antonio Road. Near Charleston. There's a warehouse going back from the road south. One of the bays is on fire. There's at least one man hurt. He's trying to flag down help. Has someone else phoned this in? I'm not really familiar with the area here.

911: Fire is on the way. Thankyou. I'm hanging up to take another 911 call.

I pulled a U-turn at Charleston (turns out I hadn't come to Charleston after all), and drove back to see if anyone else had stopped. Kelly was very worried, so I reassured her by showing her that two cars had stopped, and the man was no longer running in the street. "Don't worry, honey. The firemen are on their way, and they can put out the fire and help the man who was hurt." At that point, I didn't want to jet up the freeway, so I turned up Middlefield and putt-putted north. On my way, what did I see? A PALO ALTO firetruck dispatched to the scene.

I guess Palo Alto 911 was listening after all.

And now I've got the 9:00 news on, and wondering if the warehouse fire will make 'Breaking News".

I'm still a little tied up in knots inside, though.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Backlog 4/13/2006
The water district is flushing the hydrants in our neighbourhood today.

Thanks, guys, for picking a most inopportune time to do that task. I really, REALLY could benefit from about 11 loads of laundry right now (and a shower would be nice, too, and the dishwasher), but we're not supposed to be 'heavy users' during this time, so as to not disturb the sediment that could cause our whites to be dull, and our showers to spew brown water.

My folks just hit the road. Going back to Canada via the Oregon Coast. I hope they don't get washed away. Maybe it'll be drier there than it's been here.

They've been staying with us the past 4 days. Right in the heart of nasty rainstorms. So much for all the outside work that I wanted to get done with them while they are here. The brick wall in the back yard is on hold for another visit. And the laminate flooring upstairs was just a non-starter, because of the icky weather. Who wants to be ripping carpet and sticking it outside in the monsoon?

So instead, we just did little projects. The kids played a lot (inside. Oh, my grey hair! Yes, it was the indoor pillow fight [code name: Demolition] that popped Kelly's first tooth out), and my mom did basic spring cleaning (because she's driven that way) and my dad did all sorts of home improvements. The nail holes in the MDF around the new sliding doors are all filled now, thanks to his ambition, and Skip's new-found skills with the caulking gun.

The sprinkler in the front yard is no longer rusted out, and I have new-found skills with the PVC pipe cutters and the blue stinky PVC glue. A big orchid is in a new pot on the front porch. My bedside table, with the drawers that didn't slide worth crap, is now a smooth sliding piece of art, and we've got a new 4-in-1 screwdriver out of the deal, thanks to dad's frustration with our meagre little collection of non-appropriate tools. Mom and Skip cut out his 'manta ray quilt' from lime green polar fleece and teal blue fun-fur, and now it's just up to me (and Skip) to sew the thing together.

The guest bath sink no longer runs slowly, thanks to dad's skills with a bent coat hanger, and his ability to move past his gag reflex when he saw a hair-clog the size of a small rotting dog.

The back fence no longer has a big gaping hole in it, welcoming in every last deer and coyote in the neighbourhood. Woot! And when dad was fixing the fence, and I was watching (in the rain! I'm such a good daughter), I found a jasmine trying to move into our yard from the neighbour's place, so now we have a nice jasmine vine trailing over the fence. And a honeysuckle! Who knew?

Dad also fixed my garden arbor, which had blown down in the rain storms more times than I'd care to tell. And he anchored it, and levelled it, and braced it, so it won't blow over again. Woot!

And the calla lilies are repotted, and gracing the arbor. And the back fence is lined with Euryops, which should grow into great honking bushes of yellow daisy-goodness in a year or two. And there are Iceland poppies in the front garden, and the icky pots full of dead plants have been turned into good soil at the back fence, and all the old icky pots are full of good new soil, and ready for me to plant veggies in them when the rains actually stop. Perhaps that should be IF the rains actually stop.

And we went through the front yard, and dug up all the prickly weeds so the kids can scamper around in bare feet, and not worry about cactus-like attacks.

And Dad and Skip fixed Kelly's dragonfly light, when it suddenly became possessed by the devil, and turned on all by itself and wouldn't turn off. So now Skip has these wonderful soldering skills, and nobody had to go to the hospital, and he didn't burn down the house.

And the kids made eleventy thousand forts out of all the blankets on their beds, dragged downstairs to the family room, so they could entertain Nonie while she crocheted.

And Skip played as many hours of Runescape as was humanly possible. I dragged him away from the computer a couple of times a day, just so that his grandparents wouldn't forget that he still lived with us, and also so he could play the piano and trumpet for them (but not both at the same time, of course), and make them get all misty-eyed over his wonderful musical talents.

And mom and I went shopping. Ross was good to us, as was Savers, the wonder Thrift Store.

And, and, and. It was a great visit. I just wish that it hadn't rained nearly every waking moment.

And go me! April 10th was the deadline for Property Tax, and on the 8th, I walked RIGHT to the place where the tax bill was, and RIGHT to the place where the special cheques are, and RIGHT to the place where I'd already placed the return envelope (stamped, and everything) and got that sucker paid and DONE. Yes, it was still aneurysm time when I had to write the enormous number on the cheque, but at least I didn't have the added stress of not knowing where everything was.

(of course, in an ideal world, the "Very Safe Place" for the property tax form wouldn't be in the cupboard with the Kool-Aid jug, but that's where I REMEMBER it, so that's where it goes)

Monday, April 10, 2006

26/52 ABC *G*

26/52 ABC *G* 4/10/2006
Ah, the places my brain could GO as I think about G.

A trip down Memory Lane, perhaps.

First and foremost: GIRLFRIENDS

That photo's just too old. Time for J-Jumping to come back for another GALUMPH through my GARDEN.

Until then...

A GIRL wearing GREEN...

And last, and not GORY at all...


The three kids were playing "Demolition!" (their word, not mine) this morning, which involved some loosely structured game of hitting each other with the sofa-cushions and trying to commit gross bodily harm while laughing like hyenas, suddenly, Kelly grabs her face, and says "Hey, Skip! You did it! Oh!" and there's her tooth, sitting in her hand. He'd just delivered a smashing body blow with the largest of the square cushions, and I was wondering if she was going to grab her neck and shriek "I need a lawyer, Whiplash!"

Quite frankly, with the way the game was going, I was really surprised that she didn't just swallow that sucker down.

So now, the Tooth Fairy has just visited her little nest, taking away the First Tooth that she'd put in a mini zip-lock bag, and replacing it with a matching baggie that contains a quarter. Also, beside her bed is a little battery-powered dragonfly night-light left behind with the quarter.

Another milestone.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

First of the White Hot Wigglers

First of the White Hot Wigglers 4/8/2006
We are a family that is late to lose teeth.

I didn't think so, having lost my first tooth the summer before I started school (but then again, I didn't go to Kindergarten, so maybe I am a bit of a late bloomer after all), but my kids seem to be trailing the pack. Skip didn't lose his first tooth until half way through first grade. All his friends lost teeth in kindergarten. Even the youngest in the class.

I had equal thoughts for Kelly, expecting that she would be well into second grade before anything started loosening up. All of her classmates are sporting gap-toothed grins these days.

Thursday morning, I took the troops to the dentist. All three at one shot. Here you go, Mr. Dentist. Have at them.

Three clean bills of health, though Skip is a Heavy Plaque Accumulator. (ack)

Kelly was thrilled that she was going to be able to show the dentist her new bumps. No, she's not in need of a bra any time soon. THESE new bumps were on three new teeth poking through the back of her jaw. Her Six Year molars are making an appearance. Right on time.

And when she came out of the exam room, the dentist had a bit of news. In his poking and prodding around, he'd managed to start her first loose tooth.

She's been worrying that thing ever since.

I believe the days of a nice even set of mini pearly whites will soon be a thing of the past.

Bring on the gap-toothed grins.

But let me get some photos of her great smile with ALL the teeth in it first...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A DNA Morning

A DNA Morning 4/4/2006
What a morning!

First, it was pissing like a race horse outside when we got up. The susurrus is a sure-fire way to keep the kids in a 'shouldn't I still be sleeping?' fog, so I ended up putting on my Drill Sergeant hat, and charging around after them, clapping my hands together at their backsides, just to get them out the door in time.

And... out onto the roads with every last person who's Not Quite Sure.

Just get out of my way. Thanks.

I was a woman with a mission, didn't they know that?

After dropping Skip and Kelly off at school, I high-tailed it over to Kelly's Old School, to drop Nate off with the mother of Kelly's old Kindergarten Flame. He's got a little brother that's Nate's age, and the two lads were spending the morning together.

Woot! A free morning for me.

I needed it, you see... I had a date.

A date with an older man.

A much older man.

Yes! James Watson (co-Nobel Laureate with Francis Crick) was speaking at New Hip Company this morning, and I had a front row seat.

Man alive, for being nearly 80, the guy could talk. And he was funny in that elderly self-deprecating way, too. I ate it up.

And then he signed his book for me.

I guess that means I'll have to read it.

Makes me want to get back into brain-work, though. Reading, and stuff. Enough with these women's magazines and fluffy crafty books. It's time for the textbooks to start seeing the light of day again.

Or maybe not.