Monday, March 30, 2009

Damn spigots & the toilet is empty

First, I thought about posting my recipe for homemade conditioner here, but decided to post it on my kitchen blog instead. For you DIYers out there, take a minute and check it out if you'd like:
Our house is very old. You can't just always make repairs. The house tends to fight back sometimes. We have a spigot outside under our sunroom, and it has leaked for many, many years. Since Mom lived here before us, I can honestly say that damn thing has leaked for as long as I can remember - so close to twenty years is a fair guess.

There it is. The damn leaking spigot. It used to just drip. We couldn't fix it because we couldn't get to the other side (it isn't like no-one has tried over the last couple decades!) - this is where an old house can really kick your ass. Recently it went from just dripping to running. Not full fledge, tap open all the way running, but still running. We figured we were probably losing a gallon within an hour or two.
It isn't running in the photo because *TADA* Justin went down in the basement and turned the water off for the spigot. It was rusted and took a lot of effort, but he was finally able to get the thing turned off.
So, the spigot is no longer running. Here we were celebrating and delighting in how much water we would be saving, how much $$$$ we would be saving, when we found out how the house would fight back. For absolutely no reason that would fall under "common sense", when Justin shut off the water to the spigot it turned off the water to the toilet in our bathroom. It also turned off the cold water to the sink, but not the hot. Just the cold water and the toilet.

We decided to try something I've been wanting to do for a while anyway. Justin unhooked the drain under the sink and put a bucket underneath. The idea was to collect sink water and use it to flush the toilet!! Simple, right??
Like I said, I had been wanting to do this, not to flush the toilet but just to see how much grey-water could easily be collected and re-used. This was just a chance to do this and have it be practical and really useful!
This just happened this past weekend, so obviously I can't write about $$ savings just yet, but we have learned quite a bit already.
1)The tank on our toilet holds 5 GALLONS of water!! On average, we flushed that toilet 5 times a day. In a year, that is 9125 gallons of water!! WOW! All that for a (sometimes) small pee. Geez! Talk about making you feel extremely wasteful! So, we filled a 2 liter Coke bottle with water and put that in the tank.
2)We don't use the sink that much. Even with brushing our teeth, washing hands, and everything else. Definitely not enough to fill up the toilet tank. REALLY definitely NOT enough to fill up the toilet tank for (on average) five flushes a day!! The tank, especially with the Coke bottle in there, HAS to be filled up ALL THE WAY to actually flush down stuff.
Luckily, we have a couple rain barrels outside, so I've been able to fill up the 5 gallon bucket there. We've decided to try to keep #2s to the "big bathroom" so that we can minimize the number of flushes needed.
I've managed to get it down to about 1 flush a day, but the bucket still wasn't full! So .. more thinkin' needed.
This evening after the boys' baths we took the empty milk jugs in there. The boys kinda freaked about me swiping the water at first, but then we started explaining how we were re-using and recycling the water, so we could use it to flush the toilet in the 1/2 bath ~ we also gave them some cups and let them help fill the jugs. They became immediate advocates of re-using the water!
There was enough water that we also used 2 gallons for water for watering plants in the sunroom. From that one little bath we managed to set aside 7 gallons of water (two went to the plants) with water to spare! I even got to flush the toilet. Ok .. I splurged and did #2 in there and so got to flush twice. I couldn't resist. Oh yea, I AM a WILD-WOMAN and I am breaking BAD!!!! OH YEA!!!!!
ok, yea I know, it's pretty pathetic when getting to flush your toilet and do as I please in the toilet I please is a sincere higlight of my day.
I am proud to be saving water. I'm proud to be teaching my kids about the value of water. We may live in a society where water is taken for granted, but a majority of the world doesn't, and we have no assurance that our luck will stay the same. Knowing what you need to live and how to get it (even if we're still on a small and superficial level here), how to make it last longer.
In the meantime, stay tuned. I'm pretty much 110% positive that we have many more lessons to learn, and though the utility bill should be coming in the mail within a week, the real savings won't be seen until next month. More blogs to come, I can guarantee that!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Broken hearts, broken future ..

Look into those eyes. Into those deep blue eyes on each of my boys. Tell me if you could tell them the awful truth and watch the crushing weight of reality break their hearts and hopes.
And, that is exactly what I did today. I'm a horrible, awful, cruel and honest mother. I had gotten the newest post from All Natural Me today: & was watching the video on it. Shannon came in the room, as did Tristan, and began watching it with me. Watch the video, you'll be glad you did.
We watched about how plastics are polluting our oceans, watched as they showed the insides of animals that had eaten plastics, saw that those poor creatures were more plastic inside than animal. We saw kids floating (you couldn't really call it swimming or playing) in ocean water that looked like a liquid trash-can. I talked to Shannon about going to the beach, and asked him if he could imagine trying to swim and play at a beach like that. I saw sadness sweep over his sweet little face. He was crushed.
Then I held up the lids to the plastic milk jugs (we do get raw milk, but it comes in plastic jugs now, and we put it into glass jars) & told him how we can't recycle the lids of the jugs. I asked him if he knew where trash goes after it is picked up. He said "no". I told him how they take it, they dig a big hole in the ground, and they put the trash in there, and how that is called a landfill. The sadness swept over his face again, and he looked like he might bust into tears.
He began talking about recycling, about how we could "do this" instead, like he was frantically trying to find an answer to the horrors of what I had just told him.
We're pretty honest about being Earth Friendly with our kids. We tell them what things are bad, and encourage them to do good things. They're pretty smart kids. But, I have to admit that how much he seemed to "get" from what I was saying shocked me. The way he reacted shocked me and made me feel so sad. We always hear how we're ruining the world, or need to save it, for future generations ... really, what happened in our kitchen this afternoon should be made into a commercial. It would break your heart and turn everyone into a committed activist.
I couldn't bear to let him feel the weight and responsibility of it all. I was still holding the lids of the jugs, and I told him to look. I bent over and picked up the three now crushed milk jugs out of the recycling bin. I held them in one hand, their lids in the other. I told him how, because WE RECYCLE, these milk jugs won't go into the ground, they won't be trash, they'll be recycled. Yes, the lids will go in the trash, and that is sad, but look how much we've kept from going into the garbage can. His face lightened.
Then, I went and picked up the glass yogurt cups that go to the yogurt maker a friend recently gave us. I clinked them with my rings, and showed the boys how they were made of glass. I told them how Vicki had given them to us, and how she had used them for her kids, which meant the whole thing was as old as me ... and that must be pretty old, huh?? This made them laugh, and I told them "see, we're REUSING them", they won't go in the trash, and we won't need to buy new stuff. Spirits began lifting.
Finally, as I was folding the laundry, I held up something and asked Shannon what it was. He answered that it was a napkin. I pointed out that it used to be a wash-cloth, and this other one used to be just a rag, but now we use them for our daily kitchen rags and napkins (little boys can make some BIG messes!!). We're not buying new napkins, we're reusing old ones & thereby REDUCING what comes into the house. They got a big kick out of figuring out that one of the napkins was, once upon a time, one of Tristan's cloth diapers - but was now tie-dyed and cleaned and perfect for kitchen life.
The sadness was now gone from their eyes. I told them to always remember the "three R's": Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. I asked Tristan if he was an Earth Helper, and he sweetly replied "yes", Shannon began bouncing in his chair proclaiming that he was an Earth Helper too.
Their future, as far as the Earth and the balance of nature goes, is far from certain. But at least today they learned to have hope, that there are things you can do. And I learned that even a 5 year old can get weighed down and crushed by the horror of it all, so it is important to find ways to remain positive, to acknowledge the bad, to do whatever you can to make things right, but also to remember the positive that you are already doing, and to be happy in that.
I don't think I can bear to see sadness like that in those eyes again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Burnin' Ring of Fire

Well, I just HAD to go on and post about how "normal" we are, didn't I?? I knew I was asking for it! I even had the gall to admit that I planned on spending time in the sun (thanks to my migraines, sunlight is my enemy). I should've known the anarchist within me wouldn't stand for such blatant Stepford Wife-ish behavior. So, should it come as a shock to anyone that I went up in flames this weekend???
Ok, ok, ... maybe I didn't really go up in flames (and I didn't exactly fall into a Ring of Fire .. there wasn't even any Johnny Cash on ..) .... but I DID catch fire!!

Yesterday was "Brewday" and we were brewing beer. I, feeling feminine, wore a long skirt. We had company over, and we all were hanging out on our deck, having a good time, tasting beers, brewing beer, and letting the kids playing in the sandbox.

The above photo is a shot of Matt sticking his arm through the hole in my skirt, showing some of the damage to it. The below photo is him holding up the skirt so you can properly see the damage. He's smiling not because I caught fire (though I'm sure there are many, many people out there who delight at that thought!!) but because I told him to, since he kinda saved my life!

So .. how does one catch themselves on fire while enjoying a beautiful afternoon?? Well, it wasn't my vampirish hatred/rejection of the sun, or my inner-anarchist rebelling at normal suburban life. No, we're chalking it up to one of those flukes.
I had to have walked by the burner while the Pale Ale was boiling on it. Note, flames are safely "contained" underneath the pot - we let Shannon stand next to the pot so that he can help add hops and other ingredients (as he did again yesterday). So, it is fairly safe. What we think happened is that a gust of wind must've caught my skirt and/or the flames. It was minor (at least at first) as I was able to walk a good five feet away from the flame source.
There I was, standing on the deck, facing back at the house when I thought "do I smell something burning?" and I look down and realize "oh my god, IT'S ME!!!!" -- In hindsight I can't be 100% sure about how much of that was thought versus actually said out-loud.
I DO know that I yelled that I was on fire, as it caught people's attention. I began trying to swat at my skirt - it was on fire on my right calf, flames coming up near my knee .... not the easiest of places to swat at!!!
There is a very instinctive reaction to seeing your clothing on fire -- take it off!!! I had this reaction too. However, 1) my skirt was tied at my waist, and so there was a knot to deal with (yes, that somehow went through my head) .. and (I apologize for it being too much info here) 2) I wasn't exactly wearing anything under my skirt. So, if I had taken it off, I would've been standing there, on my deck, outside, in front of my brother-in-law, NAKED from the waist down, with more company to get past before I could retreat inside!!!! Chalk one up for the argument for wearing underwear --- although even if I had worn some, I still would've been in my underwear! -- Scary thoughts/visions for sure, either way, I know.
Luckily for me, my brother-in-law Matt WAS standing right there. My swatting at my skirt was unsuccessful .. or it managed to make the flames bigger .. how fast does corduroy burn? Matt quickly dropped down and smothered out the flames. I think he used part of my skirt to do this, but so far I can't find any other burn marks.
I went in to change ... and was wise enough to put on PANTS! My hands were slightly burned, as was the back of my right knee, but no more than when you touch something hot. Luckily, no real damage occured other than to my skirt. Matt was ok too, not burned at all.
I'm thinking about patching the hole in my skirt from the inside, using some fabric that has flames on it. I had that skirt made specifically for me many years ago, and can't bear to let it go because of this. Luckily the damage done was on a regular piece, but patching the top of it would seem silly. Why not celebrate it's battle wounds I say!!
And, of course, because there would be something completely wrong in life if this last part didn't occur --- Justin managed to get himself in trouble. Yes, you read that right, I caught on fire and Justin gets in trouble!
When all this happened, Justin was in the back hall, working with the beer, and unable to see me. He says that by the time he realized what was happening, it was all over. BUT, I did YELL that I was on fire!!!! Matt jumps into action, Justin stays focused on the beer. I think he asked if "we were serious" and "are you really on fire?" -- he says he thought we were just playing around with him!!!! WHAT!?!?!? Who yells "I'm on fire" (and isn't in the heat of the moment of passion ... or maybe just having a hot flash) for FUN!?!?!?!? Seriously now, what the hell!?!? He did come back to the bedroom as I was changing (though I seem to have blocked this part out ... but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt) to make sure I was ok though. That's about it on the emotion scale for my husband though. Definite fodder for romance novels he is.

In hindsight, I'm glad this happened. One, I learned to NEVER wear a long skirt on Brewday again. Really, why I ever bother trying to be the least bit feminine is beyond me .. it always back-fires. Secondly - I'm SO thankful that it wasn't one of our guests, or worse, our kids!! I'd take being on fire myself any day over that! And Finally, this was a minor thing, it really was a fluke ... but that is what makes them flukes and accidents .. you never know when they'll happen. From now on, on Brewdays, there will be a pitcher of water (along with a thick blanket and a fire extinguisher) sitting out next to the brewing set-up. Just in case.
There will also be a big wooden bat sitting out. That will be for the next time my husband dares to think "we were just kidding around" by yelling "I'm on fire". Put me out, give me some Wild Turkey and the bat, and let me at him!! ;)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just up the road..

The road we live on is a silly road. Just about every time it crosses another street it seems to change names. If you go up the road, although you will still be in Salem, you will be in Roanoke County where agriculture is allowed. Keep going and you'll loop back into the City and back to Main Street. A nice little drive. Here are some of the things living just up the road:

The goats are one of my favorite sites to see, if only because I can always count on them being there & the baby goats really are "kids" ... they're a trip to watch as the romp and play.

There are three seperate fields along the way that have horses. This is one of our favorites to spot them, mainly because it is the easiest to see from the road. It had been raining for a while (several days more like), so no wonder these gals are muddy ... you would be too!

They were quite curious and eager to come over and say hello.

This one is harder to spot, and to be honest this is the first time we'd ever seen them, but I simply couldn't leave them out. Look closely in the center of the photo & you will see two pink pigs! Since taking this photo we've spotted the pigs several more times, much to Shannon's delight.

When I hopped out to take the photo of the pigs, I spotted this fella out in front of the house, strutting his stuff alongside the road.
There are also cows at another house, but I haven't been able to get a photo of them yet. Timing is everything, isn't it?

Last year we were yelled at and told how we need to be "out there" and "away". I was told "you just think you're so radical" in a movie-scene worthy sneer. And that's the thing: we don't think we're so radical, and we certainly don't need to be "out there" to live the way we do.
Much to everyone's delight, the Obama's have decided to plant a Victory Garden at the White House. This isn't something radical, it is something that was commonplace up until about the mid-40's. There were even sheep there, "mowing" the lawn, once upon a time!
Nothing about how we live is really that alternative, or radical. It may not be in-line with what suburbia-culture has come to deem as the norm over the last 50 years, but there is a very strong argument that that very suburbia-culture is .. faulty & misguided (to put it nicely).
Here is a quick look at our agendas for this weekend:
So far today Justin has mowed the yard, dug up some strawberry plants for transplanting, and is onto cleaning out the front flower bed along the fence. I've made butter, some fresh bread (using one of my specialty flours he got me for our anniversary -- he got me a "box of flours" ... YAY!!!!!!!! - I used some Kamut in this loaf of bread), and I've currently got some yogurt in the machine. I've fed and watered the guinea pigs. We got the compost from the kitchen into the bucket and started for some compost tea. I cleaned the fish filter (poop for tea!), and I've replanted the strawberry plants in their new location (after checking first to make sure they'll be ok with the other plants growing nearby). Hey, we've also managed to feed two boys two meals each, and have them down for naps at the moment!
After naps, we'll go pick up some fresh straw for the chickens. Once their straw storage bin is full, we'll put the rest in the garden for some deep mulch. We'll also give the chickens fresh straw in their nest box, collect eggs, and probably move them to a fresh spot in the yard. While we're out to pick up straw, we will drop our beer off for this month's Star City Brewer's Guild competition, and pick up our Beer of the Month.
Tomorrow is "brewing day." We'll be brewing up 10 gallons of our IPA and 10 gallons of our Back Porch Brown Ale. Justin has to get the starter ready for that tonight. We'll also have the smoker going, smoking most likely another pork shoulder, and then I've decided I want to cook a homemade pizza on there too. We expect people to be stopping by throughout the day, so there will be that mingling as well.
Hmm ... some other things forgotten: I'm still working on my knitting (Wal-mart now sells an eco-friendly yarn made from recycled soda bottles that is so soft ... I couldn't resist!), I'm planning on making up some homemade sausage gravy (I've got the sausage out thawing now) along with some biscuits to go with it, tonight's dinner is Crock-Pot beef stew, and of course more meals and snacks to round out the weekend. Playing with the kids, maybe doing some workbook-schoolwork with Shannon. Hanging out with the dogs. Laundry, dishes, general tidying up. Oh yea, we also have to go through our seeds this weekend, figure out what we need to order, and get some started in one of the seed trays. Maybe plant some lettuce outside, maybe some other greens too.

Well ... there you go. Now you know our agenda. You know what goes on inside such an alternative household. Anarchy reigning supreme. These type of things happen when you start focusing on growing your own, on trying to live sustainably, on trying to do things yourself. It is truly the downfall of decent, civilized society isn't it? We really should be locked up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A trip to the doctor

This is Shannon, our oldest. Shannon turned 5 in January so that meant a trip to the doctor for shots. Shannon is our wild-man (though I'm not doubting Tristan's abilities). He's our loud one, our full-steam-ahead, running-on-all-cylinders, drama-queen kid. Though he pushes me past limits I knew I ever had, every day it seems, I love his personality!! It does make trying to raise him a challenge, but it is one I look forward to (I really do .. am I telling you this or trying to convince myself??) .. especially since I know he has more of my personality than Justin's.
Before I tell you the tale of our latest doctor's visit, I need to fill you in on a couple more things. You now know how Shannon is (to some degree), and you probably have a good idea of who I am too (although I'm never quite what you expect). We see Dr. Beazley. He has consistently been chosen as one of the best (if not the best) pediatricians in the Valley, and he was Justin's and my pediatrician when we were younger .. along with our siblings' and my cousins'. We chose him because I knew I wouldn't likely care for anyone else, and deep down we do trust him .. we've seen the results. HOWEVER, we DON'T always agree with him! And .. for the record .. on this trip, I WAS VERY PMSy. (Gotta own up to it).
Now I can begin my story.
We check in at the front desk and I'm handed a clipboard with several pink sheets of paper and told "fill it out & give it to the nurse." I thought this was odd since we've been seeing Dr. Beazley for so long, but whatever. It started off with familial health history questions (history of ___ - check father, mother, siblings). Pretty standard questions .. though I must note that I LOVE the standard question asking if any of us has a history of death or death as an infant. YEA.
I'm filling out the form as the boys are hanging out, and then I flip the page and get to questions that start making me question this whole process. Questions like what type of house do we live in, what type of heating do we have .... ok ... I can still see where these could be used for health reasons. But then there was the question "What was the highest level of education" for the mother and father. HELLO!! Talk about some SERIOUS invasion of privacy!!
The nurse calls us back and I ask her about this. Here is where PMS comes into play and I had to tell her that I wasn't trying to jump down her throat about this, but I wanted to know how these questions (there were more, I just can't remember them now .. blocked them out maybe?) were anyone's business ... how did they conceivably pertain the the health of my child?? I filled out the form anyway, but I'm still grumbly about it.
Now we're in the room and we're waiting. Shannon has been weighed and had his height measured, along with his hearing and vision checked. Beazley comes in. Shannon, our "talks to anyone" kid becomes shy and won't talk. Beazley asks questions to Shannon like "what street do you live on?" Shannon answers "Sesame Street." - GREAT - ok ----- This is a running joke of sorts, one that the doctor isn't in on, and is writing down on his little pad that Shannon thinks he lives on Sesame Street. I prod Shannon to tell him where he really lives and he answers correctly. Also, even though Shannon normally finds it hysterical to call us by our names .. when asked by the doctor what our names are he says "mommy" and "daddy" ... and won't tell the doctor his full name (which not only does he know, but he can write out!) --- more scribbling on the pad from the doctor.
I then get the lecture about how I can't let Shannon out of my sight because he WILL wander off and the implication that there is a good chance Shannon won't be able to tell someone where he lives. I was told to NOT let him play alone even in our backyard!!! Times they have changed.
Next, I get the lecture about Vitamin D. How studies are finding kids lacking in this and how taking a multi-vitamin for it can help prevent not colon cancer and diabetes (apparently a good, healthy diet is less important than a multi-vitamin .. or at least not the first common sense answer when it comes to diabetes). I tell the doctor (YES, I told him this) how we only drink raw milk. I should be happy child services wasn't called then and there. I got told how "raw milk doesn't contain Vitamin D, that's why they fortify the milk with it." ---- Nice to know you're paying attention doc, when milk is pasteurized it loses up to 66% of the natural Vitamin D - THAT is why they fortify PASTUERIZED milk with it!!! --- I didn't argue with the doc here, I know better. He once tried to tell me, when Shannon was really little, how he wasn't really sold on organic food and the benefits of that too. Again, another moment I should probably be happy he didn't call Social Services then and there.
Next up: the shots. The first one was in his left deltoid. Later that evening, during bath time, we would notice a raised, red area the size of a dollar around the injection site. The next two were in his right arm, in his tricep .. an area pretty tender and sensitive on almost all of us. One of the two shots I saw go in and she put the ENTIRE needle in his arm, ALL THE WAY up to the syringe!!! She admitted that one hurt, as he screamed in pain and cried. Ya think?!?!?! GEEZ LADY!
When we had first gotten in there the nurse assumed we were there for the kindergarten check-up. I told her we were homeschooling, so he didn't need those tests/shots. Beazley told me that he still wanted to do them because of testing for anemia and some other stuff. He also told me how homeschooling was a good thing, but it is really a lot of work on the mother, so I needed to beware and be ready. Because, yea, raising kids in general isn't hard work at all, it's a breeze! GRUMBLE!!!!
So we're sent to the bathroom so Shannon can pee in the cup. Shannon doesn't know yet how to "shut it off" when the cup is full, much less hold the cup, so I lucked out with a over-filled cup and a pee soaked hand. They also didn't give us the type of cup that you just screw the lid onto, but a vial I had to pour the pee into. Tristan had the fortunate luck of standing between the toilet and sink, and getting pee dribbled (by me) onto his shirt. Sorry buddy.
Now we head off to the lab. Not only am I carrying the vial of pee, but also the 20 some big stickers we've been givin along with the two pencils they gave Shannon, and the paperwork they gave me ... because naturally, I didn't bring a purse or bag. I give the pee to the nurse and we sit down to wait. The room is NOT empty. Tristan screams about stickers. The nurse calls us into the lab - Shannon has to have his finger pricked. I try to get him to look at me, he doesn't. He screams and cries (drama queen, remember?), freaking out about the nurse squeezing blood from his finger. By now even the nurse is trying to convince him it doesn't hurt. We head back to sit down, Shannon crying and telling me between sobs and sniffles how "now I'm sick!". I tell him he isn't sick. What does he do??? He sits down in the seat and makes himself throw up!! (Yes, he can do that!) And, I'm not talking a little spittle here. The kid throws up BIG TIME: all over his shirt, his pants, into his shoes (of course we wore our faux-fur lined crocs today), on the chair, on the floor!!!!!
I rush back into the lab and ask for a towel as my child has just gotten sick. I'm handed ... three little paper towels. Back and forth I start going, trying to clean up the mess as much as possible; praying Tristan stays put; trying to get Shannon to calm down; spotting out of the corner of my eyes everyone watching and covering their noses .. it did smell! Finally the nurse asks me if they need to call house-keeping. YES!! I clean up everything and Shannon as best I can, I place the trash can in front of the seat and let the nurse know this so she can tell house-keeping. I'm handed the results of the lab-work and sent back across the hall to where we originally were.
The nurse who saw us come back apparently couldn't notice Shannon was covered in puke, and told us to have a seat. I hissed at Shannon to not sit down, and we all stood. Yes, I was sympathetic to my wounded child .... I'm not that mean and cold-hearted ... but he is a drama queen and he will get himself wound up and make it all that much worse (which he did). I'm not happy.
Beazley comes out, we walk over to him. Shannon moves to hop up into a nurse's chair, I hiss at him to not to. I get "the look" from Beazley. I have to explain to Dr. Beazley that Shannon is covered in PUKE!!!!!! Seriously man, I'm trying to keep your nurses' chairs from having PUKE on them!! C'mon!! Results were perfect, we're good to go (as much as possible anyway).
We head out to the car. It had been in the mid- to upper-40's that day, and since we weren't going to be outside long I hadn't seen a need to wear coats. We all had on long sleeve shirts, pants, and faux-fur lined crocs (well, mine were Birks). I get Tristan into his car seat and buckled in, making Shannon wait by his door on the other side of the car. I went around to Shannon and made him start stripping off his pants, as luckily, I had a spare pair in the car. Of course the parking lot wasn't empty, lots of people got to see me, the cold-hearted bitch of a mom that I am, and my poor shivering, 1/2 naked kid. Unfortunately for Shannon, the pants were a size 4, and so he looked like he was wearing capri pants -- we didn't even try to force them to button, I just got him buckled into his seat, tossed the dirty pants on the floor board, and slammed the door.
I was pissed, I had been insulted, offended, accused of stuff, talked down to, shot dirty looks, peed on, and so on. Ok, maybe I'm reading into it some here, but this is how it felt. AND I was PMSy and had a migraine.
We got home, I got the kids into clean clothes and fed lunch. Then I called Justin. He hadn't gone with me .... it was all HIS FAULT!!!!!! AHA!
And so that pretty much ends the story of our well-visit (HA!!) trip to the doctor. Shannon, wounded, shot, abused, covered in puke, drama queen; Tristan, well-behaved for the most part, but in the wrong place at the wrong time and so, sprinkled with pee; Me, PMSy, a migraine, pissed off, cold-hearted mom with apparently ZERO sympathy for my poor son; and Justin, who got to catch most of the blame for not going with me and making me deal with this hellish trip all by myself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I might be insane

If you know me at all, especially if you've known me for a while, you've already answered this with an incredulous "might be?!?!" ~ we all know I pretty much am.
And I will apologize for the lack of photos here. It's one of those times when suddenly I want to do a million things and can't seem to make headway. Mind is going a million directions, sit down to do something and suddenly feel like I've been heavily drugged (and, no, this time I'm not doing it to myself!).
So ~ why then the latest query about my sanity?? Well, thanks to my brain-dead status I've just sat here for a minute trying to remember why I thought I might be insane .. hmm, should I add that to the list? Ahh, a list .. ok, I can do that!!


I've suddenly become obsessed with worms. I want to raise them. I simply MUST do this. I have no idea how our garden has ever survived without us raising worms (if I wasn't nuts yet, that sentence probably sealed the deal)! I have never seen worms raised, reaped the benefits of vermiculture (oohh .. look, a big word ~ my brain functioned for a second!!), or even anything remotely associated with worm-culture other than buying nightcrawlers from a store, and collecting worms after the rain to put back in the ground. I might really be insane because I hinted all about this to my husband in reference to our upcoming anniversary and gift ideas! Has any gal ever done that before???

2)I called my mother to ask if she had any old pantyhose. When she answered "yea, probably" I eagerly inquired "Can I have them?!?!" ~ Apparently most sane people don't ask for other people's used pantyhose .. even family members. Thankfully it was my mom, because it kinda freaked her out & I would hate to think how someone who wasn't required to love me would've reacted. THERE IS A REASON why I asked for her used pantyhose -- I want to make compost tea. And, no, this isn't tea I would actually drink as someone inquired .. with great trepidation I might add. (another big word, look at the brain go!) Essentially, you fill up a 5 gallon bucket with water, add some compost in a "breathable" bag, and let sit for 24 hours, with an aquarium pump & hose blowing air into it. Then, viola, compost tea that you can pour onto your plants .. fertilizer food! (if I flubbed up anything there .. brain went back on strike).

3)Another absolute must-do obsession is edible landscaping. I really don't think this is so insane, but given some of my neighbors' thoughts/attitudes/leanings/etc., I will probably be ranked as "off-the-wall-bonkers" for it. We need more trees, but I want them all to be fruit trees: they'll blossom beautifully, provide shade & wind breaks (and all the benefits that go along with those), and will also give us organic, locally-grown, homegrown food. Talk about your 3-way win!! We already have a cherry tree out front, we had two but one died, so it will be replaced this year. We also have a small ornamental evergreen in the front beds that we've wanted gone for a while, so now I've decided to replace it with a Turkish Fig Tree. This would go along with our two apple trees that are still babies, but growing happily in the back yard. I would add more but money is a limit.

4)Finally, we have a decorative pond outside, but I want to add a small catfish pond. I want to be able to collect grey-water from the house, run it through a sludge-monster, and into the pond. I want to raise fish we can eat. ~~~ I'm probably insane for this one because our entire lot is about 3/4 of an acre .. and that includes the house!! But, it is another want.

And, that is why I am probably insane today .. or most days .. or maybe just my latest voyage into insanity. Now I have to go fix dinner. Somehow letting me near a stove-top at this point to cook dinner rings of the insanely brave. But they're my family and they're used to my insanity.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow Day = Family Day

Although we're pretty much in the mountains (ok, Salem is in the valley!), snowfall around here is REALLY unpredictable from year to year. When I was little I remember years of several deep snowfalls. 1995/1996 we had blizzards. When I met Justin there seemed to be a decent snowfall every Wednesday night for a good month or more. But ... well, you just can't count on it.
A couple years back, 2006 to be precise, was one of those years. We woke up one morning to a nice, albeit little, snowfall. Justin went ahead and went to work, it really wasn't enough to make staying home seem like a proper thing to do. Then, something happened.
Tristan was still a baby, and spent a majority of the time napping. Shannon wasn't yet 3. I couldn't get both of them together to take them out to play up the street. Shannon and I had to make due with a tiny little "hill" in between our house and one of our neighbor's while Tristan slept inside (we were right outside that room). We had fun, but it wasn't the fun we had really hoped for. By the time Justin got home, most of the snow had melted and that was it for the year.
We realized then that, as contrary as it sounds in our professional, business, industrial, etc., world .... it was more important to stay home and play in the snow. Like I said, we can't count on several snow-falls a year. Sometimes those couple inches are all that we get and, like the case was yesterday, even though the temperature never makes it above 20 degrees, it's all pretty much melted away by evening. So, Justin and I agreed that, should snow fall on a weekday, he would stay home to play. It just isn't worth it to miss.
Sunday, March 1st, it began snowing. A mixture of snow and sleet. The boys were, of course, excited beyond belief. We had a feeling Justin wouldn't be making it to work the next morning, but to be honest, by the time we went to bed, we had our doubts. However, Monday morning we woke up to scenes of white outside each window.
One of the first things I found out that day was that the "Zen Moment" of checking on the chickens in the morning can be dampened a little when you don't wear gloves, when the locks on the tractor are frozen, and when the back door has been shut (which you don't know), so you're just yelling for help randomly to the wind. Here is a photo of the chickens & their coop and tractor (taken about 7:30 am):

The second thing we quickly learned was to NEVER, EVER under-estimate the excitement of kids who know they get to go sledding. This seems like a really big "well, DUH" I know. But, being asked this every couple of minutes: "Are we ready to go sledding yet?" "Are you ready to leave yet?" "Can we go sledding now?" ~ well, it gets old VERY quickly! Especially when you are IN the shower and the water is RUNNING!!!
By 9am we were up at Salem's Municipal Golf Course - a mecca for sledding! This was the first time the four of us have been able to go up there together. Last year Justin & Shannon got to go, but Tristan was too young (and napping) and I had to stay home with him. This was a big day. The above photo is a shot of Tristan, Shannon, and Justin riding down the hill for the 1st time together. To say we all had a blast would be an enormous understatement!
But the fun didn't end there. After we had come home for hot cocoa and lunch, and the boys took their naps, the day continued on. Shannon got up first from naps as he always does. He asked to do some school-work, and so he worked on numbers. He began asking what something was, calling it a word neither Justin or I recognized. We then realized he was trying to sound out a word. Justin works during the day, so these are the treasure moments I normally get to witness. Justin happily helped Shannon sound out the word, which he quickly got, and some other words as well. A very proud parental moment indeed.
When Tristan finally got up we took a quick drive out to pick up chicken feed. The boys delighted in pointing out, every block or so, "look, it snowed here too!!" I was able to capture some photos while we were out there, and the boys got to see once again where we get our chicken feed, as well as the mini-lesson about chickens needing feed and so on. When we got home Justin fed the chickens, brought in the eggs (always one of the day's highlights!), and the boys learned that just because it snows doesn't mean there are still things we HAVE to do.
Dinner was steaks and mashed potatoes. I only point this out because the boys ate deer steaks while Justin and I had ribeyes, and I'm guessing that most dinner conversations don't revolve around questions such as: "who killed the deer?", "are you and Daddy eating dead, cooked cow?", "is that the cow they kill on the farm?", "Tristan and I are eating dead deer and you and Daddy are eating dead cow." Ahh .. the lessons of where your food comes from. Obviously this doesn't phase us, but it does tend to make others think twice before asking Shannon too many questions about his food.
The day ended with bath night and me working to upload all of the photos to my flickr photography portfolio:
Once the boys were in bed Justin and I got to relax a little and enjoy the night. We talked about why people go to work on snow days. Aside from the money that you get paid, that supports your life, what is so imperative that you must go in??? Yes, of course I can list many, many professions right now that can't call in. But for the rest of us?? The chickens had to be fed and given fresh water, along with fresh straw to keep them warm. The dogs had to be fed and given fresh water. We had to be fed and kept warm. Justin going into work to do computer work?? No. He is committed to his job of course, but family comes first. And today was far too fullfilling of a day, not to mention our ONLY snow day this winter, to go into work and miss.