Saturday, July 25, 2009

I read this book . ..

Actually, I've been reading it for close to 10 years. Homestead & I read it together after we graduated from college. I've continued (Have you, Homey?) And, I like it that much. It sits with a pile of books I cherish . . . . a gardening "bible", our wedding book . . . . a few other favorites. But this one, I pick up every day . . . . or at least every few.

It's a "snippit" a day type reading . . . . hardcover. So it will last 10 years. It's perfect in the bathroom. I highly encourage you to ALL go buy it. Start anywhere . . . . Start on August 1st and keep reading. There are no year dates, so you can read it for the decade, like I have. I honestly have read it close to 10 times through.

Anway, the last few weeks have stuck such a clammoring chord in my life (again, I might add) . . ."carving out time for personal pursuits that bring contentment" (that was July 19), "the importance of solitude", (July 21st), "neglect not the gifts within you", "opening a door that separates two worlds" (July 25th).

At any rate, it has me thinking . . . and I'd love for everyone to go buy a copy so that we can talk in the comment section about it.

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Annual Product Review

Friends, family & followers.
Finish reading this post.
Then, find your shoes, grab your purse and go buy this: It's fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. See the little blue "HE" circle. Love that. Love that it's all in one. Love that you transfer it to the dryer. Love that it doesn't make Tinky's legs break out. And LOVE that it's very cost comparable, load-for-load, when you factor in separate detergent and fabric softner, plus dryer sheets, in case you forget the Downey.

Very worth it. Very convenient. Go get it now!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The End of This Chapter

This is our fishtank. 320 gallon saltwater tank . . . . it has great coral and fabuous fish. It's a lesson in chemistry and ecosystems. It has a custom built canopy & stand. In the cabinets beneath, it has a custom sump system with protein skimmers, CO2, calcium reactors and overflow boxes. Behind the left side of the tank, in the floor of our house, there is a hole drilled in the floor. It runs to a tube in the basement. Connected to the tube is an automatic pumper-upper that senses low water levels and automatically fills it with distrilled water that we make in the basement and store in a 35 gallon trash can next to the water heater.

And it's alot of work. We got it before we had Tinky . . . and when Little was really Little.

It was before violin, gymnastics (times 2), softball, swimming, soccer, karate and after school stuff x 3. It was before child number 4.

And, last week, I sold part of it. Well, at least all of the fish, all of the coral, all of the live rock, all of the substrate, two powerheads, the water maker, all the fish food, and all of the chemicals and testkits.

MOTH is a little sad. He keeps looking at me like I gave away his puppy. But, it's time for a new chapter. I'll never get new flooring if I don't get rid of this thing. Bookshelves will look nice there. Really nice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Me . . And . . My . . . Brother . . .

Daddy's Hands . . .

I like to take pictures. I'm not an expert photographer, but I have a good camera. I take lots of pictures, of lots of things.

And so does my brother. With his recent visit, we talked alot about cameras. He has an eye for photographs that speak. I have an eye for nature-scapes (says he). We talked about lenses and focal lenghts, natural light, f-stops . . . the list goes on and on.

One of us (I honestly don't know who to credit for this) snapped this shot:

Taken during our visit to see our dad, it's a photograph that might be deleted. Except that it tells a story . . . a story that would never be told were it not for this moment.

My dad always had a camera. Part hobby, part insurance adjustor, if we wasn't taking pictures of buildings to insure, hail damage or a car accident, he was snapping pictures of places, kids or events. As a very young child, he had one the 1st generation polaroid cameras. I remember that heavy cumbersome camera and the long and loud noise it would make as it shat out the image covered in some sort of developing muck. You had to rub it for a minute and then gently peel back the film to reveal your photographic skill. He used to take me on some work missions, and I thought it was damn cool to peel. Wait, peel. Wait, peel. He would painstakingly write in the margin of every photo. Date it was taken, who was in the picture . . and why. He kept albums and journals organized by month and year.

Then, he graduated to a real polaroid. No rubbing, just the magic of a real image that pooped out the front of the blocky camera. The film was un-Godly expensive and he bought it by the truckload. With masking tape labels, we would date the packages and organize them on a shelf. We weren't allowed to touch his polaroid camera. Ever. Violation was punishable in the most extreme.

Then, through the magic of technology, he got a film camera. 200 speed film. Fujii or Kodak. We bought him a pack for father's day, his birthday and Christmas every year. No exception. He put a masking tape label on the camera, too. And, he would sit with a cup of coffee and "engrave" his name on the side, using a paperclip. I can still hear his voice and the phrase, "I need to pick up my film". He developed at Wal Mart and he would ALWAYS open the pack of pictures right there, at the film counter . . . even if the line was a mile long. I was in his company on one film pick up mission when he looked at all the pictures, and they were all fucked up. He wanted his money back. He didn't get it . . but later, as I looked at the prints, and saw 24 shots, all taken of his own finger . . . . I laughed and cried. Arthritis prevented him from holding the camera right. All of this images were clouded with a giant image of his own index finger.

Anyway, it's 2009. He's 90 years old. He still wears the same maroon wind breaker jacket that he has for the past 2 decades. Yes, decades. It's not a typo. But when we showed up for a visit and the aide went to get him . . . it took an extra 10 minutes for him to arrive because he stopped by his second floor room to get his camera. He's carrying a little Kodak digital. It has a masking tape sticker on it. Per the sticker, he bought it at Wal Mart last December. He says the lady at Wal Mart helps him "unload" the card when the do van rides to go shopping.

And seeing those hands: They are weathered and pocked with age spots. Arthritis has twisted his knuckles. There area few crazy wild hairs . . . . maroon coat sleeves . . . the watch . . . and the camera. This is a picture worth a thousand words.

"Ahh . . . ."

That's a big, exhaled sigh of relief. Last week, my neice was visiting from Arizona. And she is a doll. An absolute doll. She did a fabulous job coming into the fold of our family . . . and while the chaos, noise and business had to be foreign (she's an only child) . . . she still held her own and played well, (for the most part).

She and Middle got into at least one major spat. She and Big got into at least one major spat. Coming around the corner, she and Little had a head on collison that left him wounded. There is the injury: COVERED. She wrecked her bike . . went endo into a ravine but escaped unscathed. She got caught in a torrential flash flood downpour and had to run half a mile to get home with me, while lightening flashed all around. There is the scary event: COVERED.

But, I like to think that more than scaring the shit out of her, wounding her pride and imbedding a pathologic fear of thunderstorms or bicycles . .. she also learned about another family's busy life . . . about sharing . . . and getting along. She definatley learned a little about babies. As in, "don't give them gum", "they can't eat nickles", and "don't let her have a drink of your cup if you want it back in this century."

She's safely back home now. And, I'm breathing that big sigh of post-visit relief. So glad she's home safely. And my day today . . . is so quiet. Amazing the difference that one little voice can make. My kids are in "QT" right now. I think they might have missed our daily "quiet time" . . . they are playing leapster . . . . reading, drawing . . . And the house is put back together. And, now I need some coffee.

This is my very patient baby playing 'beauty shop' with Big. Nice rollers, huh?
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Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm a book that's been judged by the cover . . .

Anyone who knows me . . . . is acutely aware of my serial skinny life. I won't go as far as to say that I've had long standing issues with weight . . . I'm no Kirstie Alley. But, I will say that decades as a gymast followed by years as a coed cheerleader left me with "body image issues."

I'm not sure I'll ever be truly, totally satisfied with the shell that I live it. Call it a body, call it a temple . . . call it what the hell ever you want . . . . but from where I stand, looking back in the mirror, that is . . . . it reads like a map. I can see that I've had children. I can see that I've nursed them. I can see that my hips changed with those events. I'm not fat BECAUSE I had children. But I can't think of a better way to celebrate the changes in a woman's form.

Now, I can see that my face has changed. High dose steroid injections to manage excrutiating pain will do that. Google it. And that's not an excuse either. It is WHAT IS. I can't change it. And, truly, if I have to trade a gaunt face for a pain free experience lifting my child or unloading the dishwasher . . . I choose a rounder face.

So, imagine my shock and awe when this email came in to my facebook mail box . . .

And, I quote, "Hey there, girl! That pic looks NOTHING like you, (that I remember.) Where are you, and how have you been? Had to move a few times in the last 5 years, which meant going through my old H.S. stuff, WOW! Those were the days when we could eat all we wanted and never get fat! You still look good-if that's you...what's up in your neighborhood?"

So I read that. And I read it again, and my mind seemed to stall out in the sentence that reads . . "those were they days when we could eat all we wanted and never get fat!"

I gave this blast from the past "friend" a simple one liner reply that said, "so you think I look fat, huh?"

But really, as my pulse was racing last night . . . and my heart was beating out of my chest and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes . .. I un-posted any and all pictures of me. And, I un-taggged any and all picutres of me. And in my head, I wrote a scathing email thanking this old "friend" for taking time to catch up and see what's happening on the canvas of my life before composing her email, which obviously assumes that I'm stuffing my face as I did (which, incidentally, I didn't) . . . when I was a mere 16.

And, I suppose, as I so often close one of my introspective blogs . . . I have THREE THINGS to say . . .




This is my dad . .. .

Went to see dad on Tuesday . . . it's a long drive for the kids and a long, hot day no matter how you slice it . . . but he looks great . . .

Hard to believe this is a 90 year old man!!
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009


For weeks, we've been watching a pair of robins in our back yard. They have built a nest in Middle's tree and we've been watching them come and go through day and night.

Just before we left for California, we noticed three little blue eggs in the nest.

The day we came home from the beach, the eggs had hatched and three of the most skrawney, pink, featherless ugly things were raising sharp yellow beaks out of the nest. They look like little old men. Mommy and Daddy Robin (whom we named Rangewood & Dublin) came and went with alarming regularity. Google says baby robins eat every 15 minutes. Middle woke to them in the morning, and we sat on the patio and listned to them feed in the evening.

They grew. Head feathers, pinker tongues and lounder voices. They squawked and chirped all day long. Last week, I bent a tree limb down to take a peek, and much to my surprise, two of them came zooming out of the nest.

Imagine the panic. First, let me say that keeping my bird dog out of the nest and away from the tree for all of these weeks has been work for me, just like Dublin & Rangewood are working for their babies. So, when two of them flew the coop, Tana went bananas. Our family pulled together as if a medical emergency were underway.

Middle scooped up Tana and took her inside.

MOTH barked for Big to fetch some gloves.

Little scrambled up to a high spot so he could take in all the action.

Tinky went to grab and try to get a touch in.

The birdies quickly gained names. One, the first one out of the nest, was markedly bigger and feisty. We called him "Feisty." He had a sharp, snappy beak and alot to say. It looked like he wanted to eat fingers. MOTH's fingers. Number Two came next . . . Less ferocious, more flightly . . more panicky. A middle child, I believe. The little guy left in the nest became known as "Not Ready". They flew like a house-pet bird with clipped wings. Short little flight series about 8 inches off the ground. Like newborn butterflies with wet wings. They ducked, and dove. And MOTH chased. Around the playground . . between the ladder . . . next to the sandbox. He duckwalked under the trampoline and went barreling through the flowers. Went man-like (okay caveman) chase tactics failed, he talked to them. Sweetly. As Feisty snapped, he promised not to hurt him. It was touching.

At any rate, he caught Feisty three times and Number Two four times. Each time he placed them back in the nest, they flopped over the edge again. After nearly an hour of chasing (while Rangewood and Dublin barked orders from the top of our house), we gave up. We opted to keep Tana inside, let them find their way and pray for baby birdie safety.

The next morning, I searched the yard. Nothing in the nest. Feisty wasn't up where he had been hiding. Number Two must have found a better spot. But, there was a new fella hunkered down under my poppies. I had to assume it was Not Ready. Now renamed. Lucky.

We caught him in a bushel barrel and we fed him softened dog food in hot water. He chowed it down. We caught an earthworm and make puree. He chowed that down. We called him Lucky . . . because he's LUCKY to be alive.

And then, we put him over the fence . . . and his mom or dad came to find him and feed him more . . .

Hmm. That was a lot of effort. It was a couple of google searches, some feeding efforts, and some prayers. But it was also a lesson in suffering and giving a tiny creature it's best shot at survival (which . . . warning for future bird nests .. . is NOT in the back yard of a bird dog!!)

The nest is sadly empty and it's stangely quiet in the morning. Rangewood and Dublin aren't around much either . . . . The nest will make a great show and tell item. And, every time we see a baby bird, Tinky points and grunts . . . . I think she wonders if it's Lucky.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Saturday, my husband and kids left with two things on the mission list: get a carwash and get a pack of sparklers.

Ten minutes after they left (and mid-diaper change, I have to add), the phone rang. MOTH said, "Can you meet me in front? I need your help with something."

I went out front with Crabby, the baby with the naked bottom. Perched on top of Big's lap was the most adorable, sad faced Sheltie in the history of the world. MOTH said they picked him up in the middle of Dublin as he ducked, dove and darted between four different cars, only narrowly escaping a horrible, most certain bloody death.

"Cash", his nametag said. Thanking God for nametags, we called the number. Left a message. Left a general "we have your dog message." Having second thoughts about more detail, we called the same numbers minutes later, (as my mind was flashing to my friend C's missing dog fiasco of April: she paid almost $200 to get him out of the Humane Society holding cell . . and her dog hadn't even been "processed"). I wanted to let the owner know that we'd keep him as long as she confirmed she was on her way for him . . . set the limit at 5-6 ish that day.

But two hours later . . the phone hadn't rung. No missed calls. So I called the Banfield number on the collar. (Good to know he was rabies vaccinated anyway). And got a name for the owner. And a different number. So I called. Wrong number.

Which led me to call the animal license number (a very well tagged dog, indeed). They only have a message system. Which meant I had to file a "found dog" report. Done. But my hopes were dwindeling that the Humane Society would acutally check and get that message on a holiday weekend. My mind was springing forward to how are we going to keep another dog?!?!

Wonder of all miracles. They called back. Two hours later . . . several dog treats and a very nice dog that shadowed me around the yard . . . . The Humane Society was able to give me a work number. Yeah!! My spirits were rising. But when I called . . . she no longer works there.

Explaining can sometimes get you places. Luck of all lucks . . . there was a person there who remember the lady . . and was able to tell me her new job site . . . YEAH!!!

So . . back to the phone book . . . . call that place. . . . and . . feel your heart dropping . . .she's on vacation on a cruise to the Bahamas. Huh? My luckiest stroke came when her place of employment was a medical facility. That means there is a supervisor. That supervisor has a file on her. In it, there is a number for an emergency contact. YEAH!!

So the long and short of it . . . . is that Cash finally went back to the owner's daughter . . who was dog-sitting while mom was cruising to the Bahamas.

And the moral of the story . . is that your dog needs good tags. Mine lost hers. They've been gone for months. But you can bet your sweet ass that the very next day, I got her new tags from the machine at Wal-Mart. With BOTH my home and cell numbers listed . . You should too.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Caption this photo.

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Do you remember?

Do you remember the time when the switch flipped?

I used to LOVE to swing. Could do it for hours. Like Middle here. I could hang upside down by a toe, flip and magically land on my feet. Mutiple times.

And then the switch flipped. I can still swing, but my tummy feels a little "funny". Even without back problems . . . . I don't really trust my funny tummy enough to hand upside down or dangle . . . .

Is that a sign of getting O . . . L . . . D????
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Friday, July 03, 2009

I went garage saling today with the big girls. We happened across a fabulous little girls' sale where I made a massive purchase: 2 dresses, 1 pair of capris, snowpants, one long sleeved shirt, PJ-slash-costume for Homestead's little dress up queen, 4 pair of shoes and a light weight reversable fall jacket . . . . $6.00.

Tinky found the swimsuit and shoes first. She played in them for 3 hours. Cute, huh?
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wowza Kabowza . . .

I usually tackle school supplies a month at a time during the summer. I look for great folders and cost effective deals in May, June & July so that August 12 isn't such an overwhelming day. But, HOLY SHIT. Can I just say HOLY SHIT??? Here is the shopping list:

$6.00 for Weekly Reader, cash or check made out to Weekly Reader
1 two pocket durable folder
1 non spiral-bound composition notebook
1 pair of scissors (Fiskars are recommended due to durability)
1 eraser
1 box #2 pencils
1 box colored pencils
20 glue sticks (Elmer’s recommended due to adhesive strength)
2 boxes (24 count) crayons (Crayola recommended due to durability)
2 pkgs. regular washable markers (broad line, Crayola recommended due to durability)
1 broad tip, dry erase marker for student use (any color)
1 box of facial tissues
Girls bring 1 box quart sized freezer and 1 box sandwich sized zip closure bags
Boys bring 1 box snack sized and 1 box gallon sized freezer zip closure bags
Backpack large enough to hold a full folder (labeled with child’s first and last names)

$3.00 for student planner, cash or check payable to Martinez Elementary
$3.55 cash or check payable to National Geographic
1 school glue, white, 6 oz. (Elmer’s is recommended)
48 #2 pencils (Ticonderoga brand, if possible. Others do not sharpen as well.) (18 for each semester) No mechanical pencils!
2 glue sticks (large)
4 erasers, soft, pink, large
1 4 pack of fine point, dry erase markers
1 4 pack of wide point, dry erase markers
1 box colored pencils
2 boxes crayons, large box
2 sets water-based markers
1 set watercolors, (Prang is recommended)
6 red grading pencils/pens
1 ruler (standard and metric)
1 pair scissors, pointed
5 composition notebooks, no spiral notebooks
5 pocket folders – 4 solid bright colors and 1 fun folder of choice
Zip closure storage bags –boys-quarts, girls-gallons
2 boxes of facial tissue, large

$3.00 for planners, cash or check payable to Martinez Elementary
1 glue, 4 oz., white or glue stick
24 #2 pencils (no mechanical pencils)
1 eraser
1 pencil case, zippered (not a pencil box, the student desks are too small)
2 red ballpoint pens
1 box colored pencils, small box
1 set water-based markers
1 pair scissors, pointed, five-inch
4 notebooks, wide-rule, spiral
3-ring binder, one inch, with side pockets (No Trapper Keepers. The student desks are too small.)
200 sheets loose-leaf paper, wide-ruled, white
6 pocket folders
2 boxes facial tissue, large

And the funny thing is . . . I'm sure that kindergarten class really will use 400 glue sticks. I'm certain.