Monday, August 30, 2010


Ameranth's summer job is over so she has a little free time before her next one starts. This means we've had some strange conversations quality time lately, beginning while at our computers this morning.
Me: Enough of the blog reading! I must go brush my teeth!
 Ameranth:  I have to brush mine as well!
 Awkward pause.
 Me: That is not a mother/daughter activity.
 Ameranth: No indeed -one person at a time, contrary to what HGTV would have you believe.

( We both laugh at the people who insist their new home must have 2 or 3 bathrooms because they can't brush hair/teeth/shave at the same sink- Has no one ever heard of taking turns and planning? Sissies)

Later in the grocery store, debating the merits of sherbet vs ice cream (did you know that watermelon sherbet has virtually the same calories, fat, etc as ice cream? As A. said, why are we even looking at the sherbet then?):

Ameranth: Why does everyone put peanut butter in chocolate ice cream? Why not in vanilla? (She doesn't like chocolate, except in milk, or brownies, but not cake or frosting, or ice cream, except chocolate syrup on the ice cream is okay )
Oh what's this? Maine Lobster Tracks!

Reading the ingredients: Vanilla ice cream, lobster colored (red) chocolate, caramel... Pooh, that's just like a peanut butter cup.

Me: No it's not.
A: Yes, except with caramel.
Me: No, that's not the same at all- there's no peanut butter!
A: It is too- there's chocolate around the caramel.
Me: Let me see that package- oh, okay the chocolate chunks are filled with caramel.... It's still not like a Peanut butter cup- It's like a Rolo.
A: Okaaaay.

We didn't get that flavor.

Finishing up at the yogurt cooler:

A: The problem is that a big cup is not a filling meal, but these little cups are a good snack, plus they have 3 flavors in this 12 pack so I'll get them.
Me: Okay, let's go then.
A: But, I'm not sure how I feel about the blueberry flavor....and is this the best bargain?
Me: Well, the price per ounce is cheaper in the bigger cups, but you said you liked the smaller portions.

At this point the lady next to us is laughing as she picks her choice off the shelf. Show-off!

Ameranth: The problem is there's so little choice, besides the kiddie brands.

I mutely stepped back and spread my arms to indicate the 12 feet of space devoted to curdled milk.

Ameranth: That's enough of your sarcasm!
 Me: That wasn't sarcastic- I was merely displaying my incredulity.

Monday, August 23, 2010


J has been raking in the tomatoes lately and sharing his bounty with coworkers. The 6 plants have gone crazy and it's hard to see where one ends and the next begins. He has all sizes, pea sized Red Currents, cherry, grape, yellow pear and two "regular-sized" -one red and one pink. 

 We found chomped stems the other day and located two of the culprits- the Dread Pirate Roberts of the gardening world:

 We knew there was at least one more since we could see the truncated stems on another plant, but these suckers are sneaky and hide under the many, many branches. I found it today and fetched my gauntlet of bravery. In case you don't know, these are big- 4 inches long and solid enough that you cannot ignore them in your hand. Plus they have like 10 sticky feet that they clamp on with as they rear up and wave their revolting heads about.

We call them tomato hornworms, but I found out today that this is actually a tobacco hornworm! The internet told me so, because it (the worm, not the internet) has straight lines and a red horn. No matter though, both can destroy a plant in no time. Both grow into big brown moths that do look cool, but this one didn't. It turned into a chicken snack.

I don't eat tomatoes, but I am keeping a close eye on my corn. I hope I get to it before the raccoons when it ripens. It's got a way to go still.

Many of our flowers have finished blooming and the landscape is turning browner by the day. There are still some bright spots though, like my hibiscus, and the sedum that is just starting to get it's color.
And my pink turtlehead:

As well as the gladioli that I planted among the mums. It was a discount grab bag of colors, so it is a happy chance that the colors match the pansies and mums nearby.

Not that I obsess over neat, matchy gardens, but I do enjoy serendipity when it happens.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend Work

We were busy little bees this weekend and got a lot done on various projects. First we finished the sheetrocking on 3 walls and moved on to the closet-to-be wall.

That little alcove was walled off  and not part of the bedroom  but does have a  plastered wall and ceiling and the same (but unfinished) baseboard as the rest of the bedroom. We still can't figure out why it was built like that originally, but we took down the bedroom wall and will add that to our new closet area, so we had to close the opening into our attic.

 That picture was taken from the attic side and you can see the bark still on that old post. We had just enough scrap pieces of drywall left to close this in. Some of the pieces had been saved from the kitchen work from, oh, about 4 years ago. And that is why we save stuff.
Now, J has lots of taping and mudding ahead of him, plus we have to figure out how we are building the drawer and closet wall.

That yellow paper we could see between that wall as we tore it down? Not so exciting- a video store receipt from 1990. But after Ameranth told us that her brothers used to squeeze in that 10 inch space to thump on her walls and scare her, we hadn't expected anything too wonderful.

We moved our cat and her kitten out of our front hall, which is wonderful! We had installed a sliding door to keep the puppies away from the cat food, shortly after we got Anna and Rosie.  It has a little cat door on the bottom and worked great until we had kittens. Kittens climb.
Those kittens are long gone, but our dogs soon learned to slide the door open, so we used an old flatiron to wedge it closed. I think I've mentioned Anna's fixation with small prey- she has been living on the rug in front of the door, waiting for a chance to slip in for some take-out. She learned how to tip the iron out of the crack, so we added a footstool to block the iron. (And for those of you who ask "why not just put a handle on the door?" I ask "Have you been talking to J?" We haven't put up the ceiling trim or replaced the floor on the outer side of the door yet, so we are waiting for the permanent solution).

Anyhoo, when the kitten started walking around, we had to block the cat door, or Anna would have gotten her head in there and snapped her up. It got so it was like getting through a prison lockdown to get in or out of the house. The cats were moved outside to the attached shed, which meant we had to move a wooden box we keep returnable bottles in, close off an opening to the upstairs storage and clear out a space under the staircase. Now they have a cosy space with a window egress and I have no litter box indoors! Hurray!

As well as moving the litter box, we moved our string and liquor cabinet. Yes, that's right. Years ago we bought a shelving unit for storage, before our pantry was complete. J stashed a ball of twine and a bottle of rum there, and when Ms.M saw it, she asked sarcastically if that was our string and liquor cabinet. We've called it that ever since, although our liquor stash consists, ironically enough, of  a couple of bottles of brandy and wine that Ms. M brought home from her Peace Corps service in Moldova. That's gone and we can reinstall the coat hooks which will  be used much more than the liquor was.

Now we can get to replacing that front hall floor. Sometime soon, I am sure. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

And the beat goes on...

I posted yesterday about a family quirk  and of course, have more today. As Captain Dumbass commented- we're like the Suess family. Which is nice but I have a secret dream that we are the Van Trapps and can all sing in tune.

Dream on.

I promise, no matter what I get in my email tomorrow, I won't put it here.

    From Torsey Bob:

    Ho Ho Ho - a morning of no work;  we looked and looked, it was no quirk!
    We did our bit on yesterday, today we'll just play!
    The garden has been watered,  both the veggies and the flowers.
    Damn, it would be awful nice, just to get some little showers!
    Ya know; this rhyming thing has caught me in it's grip
    Like mad dogs and Englishmen, I give a great HIP HIP!
    Now, my joy must be shelved for the day;
    Or else, the taskmaster, I'll have to pay!
    So now, I'll just go out; I'll sit on the porch
    But for all of the family, I'll still carry the torch!

And from #5:

I also worked quite hard yesterday,
So I think I'll take my break today.
I did have to take a trip to the stores,
and I do still have a couple more chores,
some ginger cookies I will bake
along with the muffins I must make.

Then my car must go
off to see the Tire Pro.
Two valve stem caps are cross threaded,
broken valve stems are very much dreaded.
I will have the "Pros" check the air,
and then make any needed repairs.

But then I will take my leisure
and play the games that I treasure.
For now, Good bye I will say
and I hope you all have a nice day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's worse, song or verse?

Ameranth told me this morning that she thinks she may have a musical form of Tourette's. All day yesterday, when her coworker said something to her, she sang one word of it back to her. She later apologized, but her coworker had been amused, not annoyed.

I reminded her of a recent comment from her grandfather about some days being those that make you come up with a song as a response to any conversation. Totally normal. For our family anyway.

Then I get the daily email from my father- in verse, which happens from time to time, and usually provokes a similar response from at least one of his children.

Here's his original message:

Bob and Fran went out to work.....
Boy they both must be a jerk!
Ten minutes struggle, and they were done
And they weren't even in the sun!

Went inside, got water in their glass
Went onto the porch, and sat on their ass.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, maybe tomorrow
Just you wait and see!

So I sent this reply:
Your struggles sound so familiar
You think a little work will kill ya,
Even though a few years ago
Through it all you'd easily mow!

I think twice and then again,
Before I halve my original plan.
I start off great and slowly fold
Boy, it sucks to get old!

But, what difference does it make
Just how long it may take?
You've got the time, and the will,
And many years left to you still.
I just got another email from him:

Listen our children, and you shall hear
Of the exploits of your folks, so dear.
We went out again; 'twas just after noon;
With a shovel, no less, but we didn't swoon.

We huffed and we puffed, and we finally did do it
Just like we knew we could; we just kept tuit.
That post is now out, laying on the ground.
'Twasn't too rotten, in fact was still sound.

But- now there's an iron post; a former supporter
Which won't move an inch - not even a quarter.
But, today's chore is done; there's always tomorrow
So don't feel for the old folks; we don't need your sorrow!
And on Friday, we'll probably be out there again - on the 'morrow.
Now we are resting - the AC is going,
All is well in our world; we are still growing!

I sent this back:

Okay, I am very impressed
That you finished your quest.
Leave the post that can't be stirred,
And add a house for a bird.

His emails are much more entertaining than mine, but I know he likes a response. Plus it amuses me and that's why I write this blog too- to amuse myself- that, and to share my funny, funny family.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another way-back trip

While looking for a picture of Shoeshine yesterday I came across these photos which made me smile. They were taken in our RI house, so are from either 1986 or '87. Shoeshine probably came up with the idea, since he seems to be in charge.

Here's my rogue's gallery, starting with Ms. M.



and Sectaurs

For the most part, they played well together. At least at this age. At least that's how I want to remember it. :)

It helps that I apparently had no desire to photograph tantrums or arguments,
(go figure) so our pictures are happy memories.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Mmm, that good old country air"

The title quote belongs to Shoeshine, circa 1988.*  It's become a family staple and it popped into my head today.
 It's a beautiful sunny day, with just a little breeze, perfect for clothes drying. As I flung the sheets over the line I sniffed the air and regretted that the fresh hay smell was already fading from the field next door, just mown on Tuesday. Still, there is nothing like clean bedding dried outdoors!

But that's not when I thought of Shoeshine, whose comment originated from our first summer here as we drove by a neighbor's dairy farm. That came later when I absently noted the farm machinery driving by and sniffed again. Ah yes, they do usually spread manure on those freshly cut fields, don't they? Lends a totally different air to that laundry! And that's when I quoted Shoeshine.

* Yes, sarcasm is a dominant trait in our family. And we enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yet another project started

It's so easy to start a job,
Seems so easy, seems so easy,
Yeah, so doggone easy.

Finishing it now, that's the  hard part! Since Ameranth is here for awhile, we figured it was a good time to redo her bedroom and make use of the extra pair of hands. And by redo, I mean tear down the old plaster and sheetrock and paint the walls. Her room is the only one that still has the original plaster and layers of wallpapers.

Those layers of paper were the only thing holding up the sagging plaster in places on that slanted ceiling. J emptied the trash cans as we filled them- I think it was a total of 10 cans worth? The floor was linoleum that Ameranth and I wanted to pull up, but J didn't think we should since we didn't know what was under there. The little room next door had wide painted floorboards, and we lifted a corner after J went downstairs. Yes! Pine boards.

We ripped up the lino, tossed it out the window- that was fun- and found 20 inch wide virgin planks which apparently had a carpet originally since there was a painted border.

This past weekend we started sheetrocking. Ameranth told us she didn't want to work with us if we were going to argue all the time. J told her it was a discussion and we always start out that way. Once we agree on a direction, it's fine.

When we moved in, this room had an odd little 'closet' just 10 inches deep, on the wall which backs up to the staircase. We added shelves and made it a bookcase. Ameranth wanted us to tear out the rest of that wall and make it all bookcases. As tempting as that was, I didn't want to lose the wall space, since the room is not that large. None of our bedrooms have closets, so we use armoires. Gotta love old houses.  I decided that we would tear out the wall, but build it out to incorporate a closet and built in drawers. I appeased Ameranth with the prospect of a bookcase on the end.

We can't figure out why it was there, unless clothing was hung on hooks- it does have hinges, so had a door at one point. 

There are nails, old-fashioned square cut nails, sticking out of the back of the studs. Plus, a length of twine tied to a lower one and looped up around an upper nail. Why?
I'm interested in what that yellow paper is too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Best Dog Door Ever

The project that has turned out the best this summer is our screen door. It's an old-fashioned wooden one onto our porch that has that nice 'slam' when it closes. We found it in the shed upstairs along with other doors,windows and the old porch posts and railing. J repaired the screen and we enjoyed the cross-breeze through our kitchen.  Until the huskies came.

Husky puppies (any puppies, I guess) are energetic and bouncy and it turns out they can go through screening. The next summer we figured they were older, we repaired the screen and, Rosie blew through it immediately. Unintentionally, I am sure.

This year, J repaired the screen, and we added hardware cloth on both sides, stapling it to the wood, so it stands out from the screen. Victory!  It doesn't latch and the dogs quickly (well, one was a little slow- I'm looking at you Anna) figured out that they could push it open and let themselves out.  So now we will often hear dogs running from the living room (where they can sit and check out people coming down the road), banging through the door, and barking madly out front. The hedge hides most of the fence there, so passersby can't see much of the dogs, just hear the ravening beasts.

The best part? Dogs can't open the door to come back in. Although it doesn't close completely sometimes, so I have seen an eyeball or a nose in the crack, but no one has managed squeezing in yet.

Now here's something for cat lovers too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Slip and Slide

As we slide into August, I'm still posting July happenings. Because that's how I roll.

I saw these photos from the Fourth go by on my screen saver and figured I'd post them. Two of my older nephews were supervising the setup of a fancy-schmancy slip and slide for a younger one. The hose plugged into it and sent a spray over a little blowup tunnel.
Isabella was helping them check it out. Now for the first run.
  *Note the 3-D goggles. 

Hmm, the Buzz house wasn't supposed to travel with the slider. Obviously another cousin is required for consultation.

                                     The pit crew discussion.
Ready for take-off
                              Dog is my co-pilot

Success! 3 men, 2 dogs and 1 small boy made it happen.

     Later, one little girl solos.

Things seemed a little simpler 25 years ago for Shoeshine and Sectaurs.