Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Cactus Flowers

We have a huge cholla cactus in our backyard. I wrote about it last year, around this time, and you can check out that post here. (It was a post about how I put Claire a little too close to it during a photo shoot, and she tried to touch the pretty flowers, resulting in Momma and Daddy learning how to remove cactus spines…)

Things are blooming a little later this year than last year, and this cactus has finally exploded into its wonderful magenta color. I dare say that the wonderful color almost detracts from the neighbor’s ramshackle fence and the weeds. 😉

Click photos to enlarge.
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

Cactus in Bloom, June 2008

As you can see, it’s almost regained most of its height. About four years ago, we got four feet of snow in one fell swoop, during an uncharacteristically bad spring storm. That wreaked havoc all over our city, but most importantly, broke our cactus. The poor thing couldn’t withstand the weight of all the snow and it fell in on itself. We weren’t sure how long it would take for it to reach back up to where it was. Well, it’s made it!

It’s almost five feet high and nearly eight feet wide. And to think the original owners brought it home in a coffee cup.

Granted, that was over 30 years ago…

And, to give some perspective as to how big it is, here is a picture of Claire standing next to it. The first one was taken last year and is one of the pictures that resulted in our impromptu cactus spine removal session. The second picture was taken Sunday evening. (You can see the difference in light between morning and evening, and the cactus is on an incline, so it may be hard to tell how tall it is, based on Claire’s height…but I love seeing the difference a year makes!)

As you can see, both Claire and the cactus have grown.

Cactus in Bloom, June 2007 Claire and the Cactus in Bloom, June 2008

So, like the iris and the roses, we inherited this gorgeous plant. And, just like with the iris and the roses, I can’t take credit for its success. I’m merely along for the ride. I mean, it has little offshoots that grow near the base of it, and we do replant them in other places throughout our landscaping design. We also clean the trash out of it (you’d be amazed at the things that blow over the fence from the street in back) and pull the weeds around it (albeit not that often and not before taking these pictures *cough*), but other than that, it grows all on its own.

Every year, by the time the first day of summer rolls around, I wait anxiously for the magenta blooms to start glowing, wondering when we’ll get a glimpse of this breath-taking color.

Cactus Bloom, June 2008

Dear City Planning and Development Department,

Attn: Office of Planning and Improvements

Yesterday, my daughter and I decided to walk to the Target, which is at the corner of [redacted] and [redacted]. In our attempt to do so, it became quite clear that life as a pedestrian is quite challenging in some areas. On our walk, we discovered that there are some major sections of sidewalk that are missing and/or never existed in the first place.

This happened in more than one spot along our route, but it was most inconvenient to realize this occurrence in a section where there is no logical way to proceed. I’m sure I provided some entertainment for the passing motorists who got to witness the spectacle of me hauling a stroller (complete with strapped-in toddler occupant) over the wonderfully aesthetically pleasing river-rock display at the corner of [redacted] and [redacted], where a sidewalk to the crosswalk should be.

How did I end up there? Why choose this route if there is no way to get to the crosswalk? Well, from the other end of that stretch of street, it appears to be passable. I mean, why did you build a brand new sidewalk at the corner of [redacted] and [redacted] only to stop it before it reaches the next major street? The existence of said sidewalk leads the general public to believe that there is indeed a safe and convenient way to walk to the other street from there. There is, in fact, not.

Similarly, why did you install a fire-hydrant AND a telephone (cable?) junction box in the middle of the crosswalk ramp at [redacted] and [redacted]? Walking out in the street to avoid them seems a bit dangerous; don’t you think? What’s the point of making such a nice ramp for the crosswalk if pedestrians with strollers are unable to use it?

Earlier in the week, my daughter and I walked to the [grocery store] a couple of times, and my husband joined us in a trek to the [restaurant]. The sidewalks to and from both of these locations were well-maintained, with helpful crosswalk ramps in every intersection. There were no dangerous obstacles in our path.

What in the world happened to the streets on the way to Target?

And, speaking of Target, I realize you have no control over property that may in fact belong to Target, so I will refrain from complaining to you about the complete lack of sidewalks near their store. There isn’t a single one, and I can’t figure out their reasoning. I know; I didn’t believe it until I saw it either.

So, in closing, my daughter and I appreciate the fact that some of the sidewalks in our little city are maintained and logical. Prior to our trek to Target, I was under the impression that the City actually cared for its pedestrians. However, I question that sentiment now. We are frustrated with the sidewalk and crosswalk situation in the half-mile radius of the Target, and it leaves me to believe that no pedestrians were consulted in these “improvements.”

We are adventurous, and I am quick on my feet, so this won’t be the last time we venture to different locations in our city on foot. I refuse to let something like this hinder our outings, but I may rethink our trips to this particular Target. Even though Target is approximately a mile from our house, if the safest, most feasible way to get to a Target is via car, I may as well save up the things on my list and drive to the SuperTarget in that little city just a few minutes north of us. They almost always carry everything I need, and I’m sure they’d be happy to add my monetary contribution to their city coffers.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

A concerned tax paying pedestrian and stroller-pusher,

Momma

This sounds vaguely familiar

“Claire, we really don’t have time to mess around. You need to stay focused, sweetie. Please poop or get off the potty.”

As soon as I heard myself say it, I had to stifle a laugh. Good advice crops up in the strangest of places sometimes. 😉

Go scare someone else

Wednesday afternoon, a quick storm rolled through town. The weather here is mild yet fierce, a strange dichotomy of opposites. It swoops in off the mountains quickly and leaves just the same. There are times when it will be raining while the sun is still shining. It perplexes the Midwestern Farm Girl in me who grew up where the storms were almost always accompanied by blackened skies.

Here, a shining sun is no guarantee it won’t rain, or the storm can smother the sun before it hits. You never really know what you’re going to get. Sometimes we have a warning, when we can see the storm swallow the mountains as it heads this way, and sometimes we’re too busy to pay attention.

Wednesday’s storm took us by surprise. The skies actually clouded over, and the thunder was so loud and rolling that Claire ran to me and huddled in my arms.

“Momma! I’m scared!” she said, as she buried her face in my neck.

“It’s okay,” I said, rubbing her back. “It’s just thunder.”

“I’m scared!” she cried. “The thunder is going to get me!”

“No, the thunder can’t hurt you,” I said, opting not to explain how dangerous lightening was. We can save that discussion for another time. “It’s just a sound, and sounds can’t hurt you…even if they’re scary. It’s kinda like when someone says, ‘BOO!’” I said, as I tickled her.

She laughed, her mind somewhat taken off of the scary thunder.

“See? It’s scary, but it won’t hurt you.”

“Like this? …BOO!” she said with a smile, trying to scare me. I responded with a startled look and appropriately exaggerated gasp.

“Exactly! That was scary, but it didn’t hurt.”

“I wish the thunder would go away, Momma…and stop trying to scare me. I wish it would say, ‘BOO!’ somewhere else.”

Linden

Linden

Click photo to enlarge.
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

The Linden tree right outside my home office is in full bloom. The sweet, heady scent is one that can only be experienced…not described. It’s incredible.

When the windows are open, the breeze makes the whole house smell wonderful.

I love the name we chose for Claire, and I think it suits her well, but I have a secret. I’ve been in love with this tree since the day we moved in, and when I was pregnant with Claire, the blossoms of this magnificent tree made me want to honor her with its name. Linden could be a girl’s name. I even found it in one of those online name-database-thingies.

But, Mrs. Reality jumped in and took my hubby’s side, both of them ganging up against me.

“You can’t name our daughter after a tree,” he said.

Mrs. Reality nodded. “What he said,” she said coldly.

“Even a tree that smells so good?” I asked.

Mrs. Reality shook her head.

“Even a tree that smells so good,” he said.

Party Poopers.


Bananas are heavy

On Sunday, we decided to do something we’ve never done in the 7-plus years we’ve lived in this house. We walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. We’ve been to this particular restaurant many times, but we’ve never walked there. We’ve always driven.

We do live in the ‘burbs, ya know. And, public transportation is neither plentiful nor convenient from our locale. But, the sidewalks are well-maintained, and we’d only have to cross one multi-laned street to get there.

It was a pleasant evening, so we decided to give it a try. With gas hovering around $4 a gallon, we figured that would be a good incentive to see how difficult it would be. Plus, we wanted big ol’ burgers for dinner, so walking it off sounded like a good idea. Why not combine our trip to the restaurant with our after-dinner walk around the lake?

According to google, the restaurant is 1.3 miles from our door, one way. Totally doable. The lake is over a mile around, so this would be perfect. We had so much fun! It was great to not have to fight for a parking spot. We rolled right up to the door, took Claire out of the stroller, folded it up and walked right in. We slid the umbrella stroller under the booth, and no one was the wiser.

And, a walk in the cool evening air felt good after our humongous meal. This little adventure was a huge success!

So, on Tuesday, I decided to take my plan a little farther.

What plan is this? Well, it’s kind of an impromptu plan. Yes, saving money on gas is important, but I don’t drive a lot anyway, and my car gets crazy-good gas mileage…so the tiny amount I drive here and there doesn’t really push our budget over the edge.

I want to explore our neighborhood some more. I want to show Claire what it’s like to be active. I want her to think that walking a couple miles a day isn’t anything out of the ordinary. I want to show her that a slower pace doesn’t have to be boring.

So, we decided to take another hike.

Tuesday’s destination was the grocery store. The one we frequent is 0.6 miles from our house (again, according to google). I got one of my big ol’ canvas bags out of the closet and planned my attack. I’d use the bigger stroller, so that I could put items in the under-seat compartment, and that coupled with my bag should be perfect for this trip. The grocery list was pretty light, so this would be the perfect excuse to try this little experiment. Off we went!

We’ve walked around the lake countless times, but we’ve never walked to the store. It was an adventure in our own backyard (or front yard, as the case may be). Again, like the trip to the restaurant, the way there is mostly uphill. And, aside from our street (which is rather steep, with our house being on the upper side of it), the trip back was downhill. And, considering downhill both ways only exists in an M. C. Escher painting, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉

I like downhill. When people get upset and say things are only downhill from there, I’m secretly pleased… 🙂

Some of our neighbors have fantastic curb appeal that just whizzes by when we drive. We stopped to smell different roses. All the while, Claire was reminding me to get the bananas.

“Don’t forget to get the bananas Momma! Do we have room for bananas? Are bananas heavy?”

“No, sweetie. Bananas aren’t heavy. And, yes. We have plenty of room for bananas. And, if we don’t, we’ll make room.”

We made it to the store in just under 15 minutes. For some reason, I thought it would take longer. Pushing a stroller uphill and taking time to smell the roses? We made pretty good time.

Again, we don’t have to park, we just roll right in. I evaluate my list. It may be light, but some of the things on it are kinda heavy. Note to self: Shopping light takes on a whole new meaning when your space is limited! 😉

We find everything we need, including the precious bananas, and I feel weird about not putting groceries in a cart. There’s something odd about putting them in the bottom of the stroller and in the canvas bag on my shoulder. I’m sure the more I do this, the more common it will feel. Even with all of the rearranging, we make it to the check-out in record time. The checker only hesitates a moment when I tell him my plan.

Paper or plastic? Neither, thanks.

And, I actually got a credit on my bill! Granted, it was a whopping 5-whole-cents for not using any of their bags, but still. That made me smile.

The only part of my plan that didn’t work very well was the weight of the items in my canvas bag. I didn’t want to overload the stroller, and I’m really good at packing, so my canvas bag was organized like a Jenga puzzle. What I hadn’t figured into my master plan was what to do with the weight. I mean, I knew some of the items would be heavy, but I just thought I’d suck it up and power through. My bag was heavy. I think we would have made it home quicker if I wouldn’t have had to stop a few times to readjust.

How hard would it be to push a Granny-Cart and a stroller? Where does one buy a Granny-Cart? Can I train Claire to help me push the Granny-Cart so we can just ditch the stroller? That would work! But, not right now, silly. This conversation you’re having in your head is useless right now. Must. Make. It. Home. Without. Looking. Like. A. Freak. Suck it up! You can do this! 🙂

Needless to say, my shoulder was all bruised and swollen by the time I got to the top of our hill. Oops. Who knew trying to be green could result in so many other colors? 🙂

But, even with this little inconvenience, we had an awesome hike!

And, as is always the case, as soon as we put away the groceries, we start the new list with things we should have purchased. Some of them were too heavy, and I wouldn’t have gotten them anyway, but some of them were light enough that I could have done it.

So, how long was this adventure? In total, including walking there, grabbing items, checking out, hiking home, and putting away? Just under an hour.

That never happens.

When I drive, I’m always in that store for over an hour, if not longer.

So, will we do this again? Definitely! I can definitely see taking more hikes to the store, because all we’re expending is the physical energy it takes to get there and back…and we’re using up time out of the house. Getting fresh air is always a good thing. If I need a lot of heavy items, we’ll take the car, but for the lighter trips, a hike will do us good.

The most comical thing about the trip? As I’m pushing the stroller home and struggling to maintain my composure while lugging my heavy bag, Claire is in charge of holding the bananas. By the time we get to the lake (and are almost home), she starts whining. “Can you hold these? They’re sooooooooooo heavvvvvvvvvvy. Bananas are heavy, Momma!”

It was all I could do to not laugh. How torturous! She had to hold such heavy bananas in her lap while I pushed her, in luxury, up the hill.
🙂

So, yesterday, Claire and I decided to take a hike again to the grocery store. We wanted to get Daddy something lite (and light!!) for dinner, so off we went. This time, I made sure everything on my list really was light, my shoulder still tender from Tuesday’s adventure.

The walk was just as lovely as before. The checker was just as nice as before. The 5-cent discount made me smile again. On the way home, one of the neighbors even turned his sprinklers off for us (they were watering the sidewalk…who knew they still made concrete that needed to be watered? *cough* I’d told him I could make a run for it, but he beat me to the spigot. He continued watering the sidewalk after we passed, but I thought turning it off for us was a nice gesture.) The trip home wasn’t nearly as painful for my shoulder or my ears, because there was no whining…after all, we didn’t need to get bananas this time.

And we all know how heavy those are. 😉

Always thinking ahead…

“I can’t believe I cut my toe on the oven door,” I said, wincing as I looked at my pinky toe.

“I know.  That sucks!” he said.  “I’m still not sure how you did that.”

“It doesn’t matter.  I mean, over all, I can’t believe how smoothly it went getting that monster to the curb!” I said, the double oven safely lying on its back, waiting for the trash company to get it tomorrow.

“That dolly really helped…I don’t know how we would have done it without that,” he said.

“No kidding!  And, I’m surprised you didn’t crush me with the stove.  That would have been your perfect out.  It could have *fallen* on me.  It would have totally looked like an accident,” I said, joking.

“Eh…it wouldn’t have worked.  It probably wouldn’t have killed you…just would have messed you up, and then I’d have to take care of you,” he said, with a laugh.

“True,” I said.  “Plus, then you’d have to build a ramp, and the last thing you need is another project.”

Social Butterflies

How many Social Networking sites are there? I can think of these off the top of my head: LinkedIn, Friendster, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter…

I joined Friendster at the prompting of a friend, years ago, and didn’t do much with it.

I joined LinkedIn at the prompting of another friend, and did a little more with it. It sends me automatic updates, so I do check it out occasionally.

I just joined Facebook at the prompting of yet another friend (are you seeing a pattern here?), and so far, it seems to be pretty cool. So far it seems to be the best one for locating old friends… I love touching base with long lost friends from high school and college, but I really don’t know how much time I’ll have to devote to it. It’s going to update me via email too, so we’ll see how it goes… 🙂

It’s challenging enough to update a daily blog, chase after a toddler and work on my other writing, let alone join another Social Networking site and/or share the minutiae of my life every few minutes…(Myspace? Twitter? Sorry…I’m going to resist.) 😉

I mean, I’m all about staying connected, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of what to do on all these different systems. More times than not, I get contact info from people and just maintain a “relationship” via email from that point forward.

I have a blog! Here’s the link. Do you have a blog? Awesome. I’ll add you to my GoogleReader. 🙂

On one hand, I try to remain incognito. If you stumbled upon this blog and don’t know me in real life, you don’t know my name and couldn’t pick me out of a line-up. You don’t really know where I went to school or grew up. But, with those social networking sites, they are all about remaining the opposite of incognito. Cognito, perhaps?

It’s really cool how it finds people who have been where you have been.

That’s neat.
And creepy.

🙂

Last year, I wrote a post about getting back in touch with people from my past, and I must say, these Social Networking Sites are amazing tools for doing that. Who would have thought I’d be able to touch base with an exchange student who went to my high school after all these years?

And, maybe it’s my age, and the fact that I’ve done so many different things in my past, but I’m having trouble remembering how I know certain people. So, it’s good that the Social Networking Site du jour tells me.

System: Psst…you went to high school with that person!
Me: OH! I thought you looked familiar! I didn’t recognize your last name.

System: Ahem…don’t you remember living in the same co-ed dorm building as that one?
Me: OH! That’s right! I thought I’d never forget all the good times we had.

What really throws me off is when people I went to high school with also know people I went to college with. 😉

Sometimes I feel weird reaching out to people from my past. Will they remember me? I don’t assume that they will…right away, anyway. My first name is rather distinctive, but a lot of people from my past would be totally thrown off base by my married last name. So, I included my maiden name in my profile. And, I included some pictures, just in case my name doesn’t ring any bells.

I’m trying to seek a balance…finding the best way to reconnect with people without sharing too much with the world at large.

I try to keep things in perspective, and I realize that a trip to the grocery store exposes more information to more people than a little blurb about myself does online. At least I can set my online preferences so that only the people I approve can view my details. That makes it better.

(And, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.) 😉

And, if all of this stuff isn’t complicated enough, you have the Social Networking Site begging for even more info.

What do you like to do? See? Read? Listen to?
How old are you?
What are you doing this instant?
Tell us how you feel?
Again, what are you doing this instant?
And, how do you feel now?

Aaaaaaaaaah!

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with a little case of Social Network Anxiety, thankyouverymuch. But, it will pass in a minute, if you just stop asking me questions. 😉

So, I feel like a social butterfly, flitting around in cyberspace, touching base with people from my past, sending out feelers to this person and that person. And, being this social creates butterflies in my stomach, too, because all this reminiscing brings back such awesome memories of times gone by. I love reconnecting.

So, who will I find tomorrow? Who will find me? I can’t wait to see…

That’s what you get when you change stylists…

When we were on our trip at the beginning of June, my mom gave Claire a Princess Blanket to go with the Princess Pillow she’d given to her last year. My sister (Aunt Two) and I were talking about the princesses emblazoned on the blanket.

“Okay, that looks like Cinderella, and that looks like the one from Beauty and the Beast,” my sister said…doing pretty well for someone, who with four boys, has been indoctrinated in all things Power Ranger™ and Transformer™. “But, who is that?” my sister asked.

“That?” I said, pointing to the bright blonde lady dressed in pink. “That is Sleeping Beauty, if you can believe it.’

“What!?” she gasped. “I thought she had brown hair!?”

“Me too!” I said in agreement. “I couldn’t believe this was Sleeping Beauty. She’s just not what I remember…I’m so glad to hear you say that! I thought I was going crazy. You remember her with brown hair, too, right?”

She did. Thank goodness I wasn’t alone.

I then explained that after taking the Princess Pillow home last year, one of our little friends had told us who all the Princesses where. When she’d called that one Sleeping Beauty, I went online and discovered that she was right. That bright blonde in the hot pink dress was Sleeping Beauty. Prior to that pillow, Claire wasn’t familiar with all the Disney Princesses, and neither was I. My sisters and I had a fondness for Snow White and Cinderella, but nothing like the fever-pitch surrounding All the Princesses these days.

I was sure my siblings and I had watched an older version of Sleeping Beauty, and in my mind, she had brown hair. The Sleeping Beauty of today was not familiar to me.

But, I didn’t think much of it. I mean, she is who she is. If they say this one is Sleeping Beauty, then this one is Sleeping Beauty. It popped into my Random Thoughts post the other day, but other than that, I let it go. (Speaking of changes…have you seen the new Strawberry Shortcake?? Talk about a change!! But, I digress…)

Then, this weekend, I got a couple of emails from my sister. She and the boys had been watching an older version of The Sword in the Stone, and during the previews, she saw clips of Sleeping Beauty…with brown hair.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. This was the Sleeping Beauty of our childhood!

She found a picture online and emailed me right away.

The older version

I don’t know who to credit for this photo, but there it is.

Now, depending on your childhood television set and your how-many-years-ago-did-we-see-this? memory, you may see this as a dark blonde. My sister and I saw it as a lighter brown. If you notice, she’s not wearing pink…she’s wearing a beautiful blue dress. We weren’t “really into her,” so we didn’t pay close enough attention to her hair color or changes over the years, but in our minds she wasn’t a blonde.

Click photo to enlarge.
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

The newer version

Here is the Sleeping Beauty of today. She is the one with bright blond hair and the hot pink dress, standing next to Cinderella, who hasn’t changed stylists over the years. (Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, is also on the blanket, but you can’t see her in this photo…and as far as I can tell, she hasn’t changed stylists either.)

It’s amazing what a different stylist can do to your image.

😉

Good Ol’ Murphy

This weekend’s “Remove the old stove and install the new stove” project had turned into “Cut three holes in the drywall to aid and assist in the installation and wiring of a new outlet for the hood/microwave combo we don’t have yet because there is a nice, handy open space where the old stove used to be, and rewire the under-cabinet lights while we’re at it” project.

The vintage 70s model double oven is sitting outside by the deck, waiting for us to lug it to the curb on trash day, and the new “I can’t believe we got this so cheap off of Craig’s List, and I love it when people remodel their kitchens and we can take advantage of their ‘old’ things” stove is sitting in the garage. (I mean, compared to the stove that came original with the house, an oven from 2004 is hardly “old!”) I’ll miss the upper oven of the old stove, because it was up where a microwave/hood is on modern appliances. That made it out of the way of little people and at eye-level (no bending required). But, I won’t miss the “I don’t really know what temperature it’s going to be today” feature.

The removal of the old oven went smoother than anticipated. Cleaning out the 30+ years of gunk behind the stove wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. But, we hadn’t accounted for the extra little projects to do before installing the new one.

Somehow I’m supposed to believe that this “little project” doesn’t count as a “kitchen project.” My hubby had promised that we’d take a break and not work on the kitchen. Yet. Uh huh. For some reason, I have a feeling I’ll be lucky if he doesn’t re-tile the floor when I’m not looking. 🙂

“I really hope these lights work once we get them all reconnected,” I said, as I was holding them up while my hubby fiddled with the wires under the cabinet.

“I know what I’m doing. I did these last time. This rewire job should be easy,” my hubby said, intently working on the wires.

“Oh, I’m not doubting your abilities. You do awesome work…it’s just that Murphy stopped by earlier and left some paperwork for you,” I joked.

“Oh, that…” my hubby said with a smile. “Those papers were probably just recap-reports of what happened yesterday.”

“Ha! I wish you’d stop asking him to help with these projects.”

“I don’t ask him. He just shows up.”

😉