Thursday, May 31, 2012

Good-bye, Peas. Hello, Neighbor

Look at those peas (the ones in the squarish peat pots on the front right). They were my last hope.

I put them in the garden.  I used taller toilet paper collars than last time, but to no avail.  The universe is against me.  I don’t know what ate them this time.  Deer?  Geese? (The tomatoes you see in back are doing great.  It it weren't for them, I might give up on gardening forever.)

I went to Home Depot with a broken heart (I really love peas from the garden) and bought plants to replace them: cucumber, sweet red pepper, and basil.  One of the basil plants I grew from seed got eaten a few weeks ago (I think by a goose: there was goose poop in the garden), so I was worried.  I got up at 2:30 a.m., took a flashlight, and armed myself with cayenne pepper.

"Are you looking for something?"

My neighbor across the street was in his driveway talking on his cell phone.  Odd.  "Yeah, the animal that keeps eating my garden."  This is the first time I've ever talked to him.

"You have a garden in your front yard?"  Like he hadn't noticed before.

 So what.  He had a used car lot in his driveway a few months ago.  And he conducts business there at 2:30 a.m.  I sprinkled cayenne pepper on the basil.  "Well, they haven't eaten anything yet tonight," I said.  I went back to bed, he went back to his phone call.  Nice to have met ya, buddy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

michigan beach

Saturday we went to South Haven.  It was a good day.  The kids' willingness to smile for the camera is matched only by my amazing photography skills.  Whoops, there goes Lake Michigan, pouring onto Canada.

Whoa, now it's headed for Indiana, or whatever is south of us.

Friday, May 25, 2012


"Aren't the kids getting too old for a sandbox?"

Jake asks silly questions sometimes.  My idyllic childhood included a sandbox, so obviously my kids need one.  "I played in one until I was 10," I told him.

"So Damon will play in this for one year."

Damon is nine already?  Sheesh, those years slip by.  "Oh.  Well. I probably played in it until I was 15.  And if the kids don't play in it, then I'll play in it myself."  And I have.  (Wow, am I awesome at castles and moats.)  The kids have played in it, too, including Damon--he was at school when we got the sand in and I took pictures, though.  So there, Jake.

Here's where I started wishing we'd put the sandbox in the front yard like the garden.

If there's some secret to getting your kids to pose in a non-weird way, I wish someone would let me in on it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

and the farmers take all

I teach CTR 6 & 7 in primary.  Last week's lesson was "The Priesthood Blesses Me."  The first comment (that pertained to the lesson) was, "Why don't girls get to hold the priesthood?"

"We get to be mothers and bring life into the world."

"And that hurts!  Boys are lucky."

I don't think I knew about the pain of childbirth when I was 6. "Yeah, but holding the priesthood is hard work, too.  When I was a kid, my dad was the bishop, and every Sunday he spent all day in meetings while me and my brother moved the sprinklers and fed the cows..."  I meant to explain that one was not better than the other, how the purpose of motherhood and the priesthood is to teach us selfless service and make us more like Christ, and how a few hours of pain are probably not any worse than five years in the bishopric.  When I was done with my lecture, I got blank stares and,

"I want to live on a farm."

So much for inspiring the next generation of mothers in Zion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Club

I love book clubs.  Especially when most members read the books, and even if they don't, they politely listen and ask questions instead of dominating the conversation with their personal childbirth experiences.  In Logan I was part of a great book club, and now I am again in Kalamazoo.  Last night we discussed The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Next month: A Three Dog Life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


In 2010 a general authority taught that parents should discourage their children from pairing off at a young age.  This was old news to me and my siblings.  We'd known since we were four years old that having a boyfriend or girlfriend before you were in college was the dumbest thing you could do with your life.  I'm pretty sure about the age because before kindergarten I broke the heart of a little boy in my Sunday school class when I wouldn't be his girlfriend.  I'm serious.  He cried, and I despised him for being weak.  Yes, I was cruel.  Luckily for the boys my age, that's about the time my looks peaked and I started going down hill.  I never broke any more hearts.  Now, my sister broke hearts all the way through high school, but that's another story.

This all comes to mind because Anne and I went to McDonald's last Friday.  She got a necklace in her Happy Meal that sings, "My best friend's brother is the one for me."  What?  Who decided this was an appropriate toy for a 5-year-old?  I'm disgusted, and I'm boycotting McDonald's.  They'll be sorry when they realize one of their most faithful customers, who used to come at least twice a year and spend $10, no longer comes at all.  Take that, Ronald McDonald.  I hope you cry your eyes out.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Damon at his baseball team photo shoot.
Anne giving a tour of the flowers in our yard.

Anne demonstrating how she helped me dig the sand box.

Now, if I spent half as much time cleaning every day as I spent digging the sandbox, I'd have a tidy house--for an hour. Which is why I don't. The sandbox will stay done forever. No matter how hard I work, the house will not stay picked up. "Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it is still snowing," you know. "Just train the kids to clean," Jake says. Just pull out all my hair while I crack a whip, he means. Okay, I'm done ranting. On a less frustrated note: Jake finished the sandbox for us on Saturday! As soon as I find the camera cable, I'll show you.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Field Trip Friday


Damon and the rest of the 3rd grade went to Lake Happiness (or something like that.  I know it had a ridiculously cheesy name).  He caught minnows and got wet, then came home and buried his mouse. Yikes, did that little thing stink by then.  In the morning I was too busy making lunches to preside over a funeral, so I left it in a box in the basement all day.  Big mistake.  I think my compost must be making progress, because yesterday it didn't smell nearly as bad as the mouse corpse did.  Then Damon and Jake went on the ward Father and Sons camping trip.  They took Claire's mouse with them so they could let her go, "free and in the wild," Claire said.  That's a Wild Kratts phrase, for those of you who don't watch PBS Kids every day.

Claire and her fellow kindergartners went to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and a farm.  She saw a butterfly, a horse, rabbits, goats, and a troll under a bridge.  She drew a picture of it for me when she got home.
Actually I think we've got two trolls there and a cat.  I thought the little thing was a goat, but it's not, Claire says.

Anne and I went to the Air Zoo.  It's a history of flight museum with indoor rides, like the ones at Disneyland--pretty tame.  I was about to lose my breakfast after our second time on the hot air balloon merry-go-round.  I hate amusement park rides.  Anne said it was the best day ever, until I talked her into seeing the Air Zoo 3-D movie (4-D.  The chairs moved and blew air at us).  She hated it and said she never wanted to go to the Air Zoo again.  So glad I bought the year-long family pass for $125.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Birds, a bee, life and death

The other day Claire gave me my orders as she was running off with Anne to chase away bee-eating birds: “Mom, you stay here and watch Biggie” –a bumblebee we had rescued from a bucket of water—“Make sure he doesn’t die.”
“I can’t stop something from dying.”
“You just have to keep it from dying.”
Oh.  Sure.  No problem.
Later, when Biggie flew away, Anne called out, “Biggie, come back and visit!  If you get hurt, fall into the bucket again, then we can help you.”
Claire said, “Anne, if he dies, we can’t stop it.  But we won’t let that happen.”

In other news, Damon found his mouse dead this morning.  It was sad (for him).  Mice don't like to be alone, so the kids are convinced we're going to have to let the last mouse standing (Claire's) go in the woods so it can find other mice.  Could this be the end of our mouse invasion?!  I'm crossing my fingers...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why the Whole World Doesn't Go Organic

1.Compost is stinkin’ slow.

 I started composting last fall in black plastic garbage cans. The man at the garden store said he gets compost out of his compost tumbler every month when the weather is warm.  Great, I thought.  I'll save $150 dollars by buying black garbage cans instead of the tumbler, and roll them around myself, and by spring I'll have compost for my garden.  Well, the garden's been in for a month, my compost has been composting for 6-9 months, and it still isn't ready.  It's supposed to smell sweet and earthy.  It smells like wet dog+rotting corpse+human excrement+cow manure. See that thing on the upper left that looks like a plastic bag?
It's a "degradable" compost bag I used to line the compost caddy under my kitchen sink.  It's not degrading.  None of them are degrading.  If I haven't showered and I'm feeling brave, I take a stick and poke holes in them to get the rotten food out.  Mostly I just shake my fist at the garden store man and shout "WHY ISN'T THIS COMPOST COMPOST YET?"

2.  Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.

 I planted my peas last month and found out I have a cutworm problem.  I wanted to be earth friendly, so I put a toad in the garden,
put toilet paper tubes around my plants,

and dug around looking for grubs.  I only found one.  And now I have no pea plants left.  That's right: none.  Apparently the toilet paper tubes weren't tall enough and the toad wasn't hungry.  My organic sources say to work "beneficial nematodes" into the soil in early spring to kill cutworms.  I'll contact Captain Picard and ask him to get me some next time he's in the Gamma Quadrant, but for now, I'm going with Ortho Bug-Geta.  The garden store guy says it's perfectly harmless.  It's banned in California and is harmful to children and pets, so like he said, perfectly harmless.  Regardless, this is war.  Die, cutworms, die!

PS If you are new to organic gardening and are having great success, don't tell me about it unless you want me to hate you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Movie Review

Anyone seen The Iron Lady?  It’s that movie with Meryl Streep about Margaret Thatcher.  I think it got poor to mediocre reviews.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because Thatcher made a pretty good case for courage and hard work vs. passivism and entitlement, which are all the rage right now (Sorry, Chen Guangcheng, we don’t want to offend China; Europeans, you take your 6-weeks-paid vacation every year, consequences be darned).  Her dementia and the price her family paid for her to be a politician broke my heart.  It ain’t easy for a woman to have a family and career (I wouldn’t know first hand, having given up on a career after I practically flunked organic chemistry…).  What I really loved was how sexism was no match for her confidence and her voice coach. It was a pretty clean flick, except for a brief scene when some grateful Falkland ladies flashed their bare bosoms at the British soldiers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Friend in Need

Part of Claire’s therapy is to have supervised play dates twice a week.  We have over little girls from her kindergarten class.  They come before school, play, eat lunch, and then get on the school bus with Claire.  Yesterday M. came.  Today E. came.  Before E. got here, Claire said to her therapist, “E. is my true friend.”
 Therapist: “How come?”
Claire:  “Because yesterday on the bus M. sat by me, but then she went and sat by someone else.”
Therapist:  “Did that hurt your feelings?”
Claire:  “Yes.  E. would never do that.  That’s why she’s my true friend.”
I’m glad and thankful Claire is learning to recognize true friendship [in other people.  We’ve still got some work to do teaching her how to be a true friend].  E. is an angel sent from heaven because she is so sweet and non-judgmental.  When Claire comes unglued, E. tries to think of ways to help her be happy again.  If (when) it doesn’t work, she just plays with Anne.  No offense taken, no wide-eyed stares.  She has a cousin with autism, so that might be what has made her so tolerant.