Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer

There are so many more things I need to be doing than throwing a ball into the pool for our dog. But I got my Hep B shot and my tetanus booster yesterday for our Romania trip. My arm hurts a lot and my head is not feeling that great either. Good enough reasons to ignore the packing and organizing and head out to the pool.

Our dog, although one half Golden Retriever, does not enjoy swimming. She endures swimming as part of the ball chasing process. If we throw the ball anywhere near the edge, she runs to the closest side and wonders if there is any other way to get the ball that does not involve getting in the water. But since it's a great way to tire her out from her escapades, we try to get in some pool time with her every day.

Keeping her eye on the ball at all times...
...she expects us to get up and throw it from the spot she puts it. From the table... the other side of the fence...

...from the flower pots...

...and from the kiddie toys. We don't.
So she puts it on our laps.
Stretching to avoid going in the water... it, mission accomplished.
Jump in...(the house rule of no butt shots does not apply to canines)

...get it...

...and get out.
The results? A wet, tired and very clean dog...

...who promptly goes and rolls in the dirt.
There's a reason her dog sitter gets combat pay.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Steps for dealing with a skunk carcass while alone

1. Call a neighbor. That gets rid of the alone part.
2. Scream at dog. That gets the tension out.
3. Mix up the solution, again, of peroxide, baking soda, dish soap and vanilla.
4. Since dog keeps going back to carcass, drag dog into the garage, through the house.
5. Pour solution on dog in the garage. Slam garage door to convey continued anger at the dog.
6. Open door to neighbor. Laugh as she hands you a rose in a vase. Be happy to have such great neighbors.
7. Find a bucket. And a shovel. And a garbage bag.
8. Scoop the poor dead skunk that probably has baby skunks at home waiting for their mama to come home into the garbage bag in the bucket with the shovel, using neighbor as moral support so you don't gag or cry.
9. Let dog out of garage, through the house, while the anger is fading because the poor thing looks so pathetic.
10. Stop and smell the rose. 

"Junuary" means fire season

Rain in June? In Sacramento? It wasn't nearly as much as they predicted, but it was pleasant. The air is clean and fresh, the yard got some water and it was a nice excuse to stay home and get some inside work done. Ernst decided to organize paperwork and used the fireplace as a shredder. While it wasn't cool enough to pull on a sweater, it was nice to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of rain. Forecast for the end of the week? Back to 90. Global Weirding - from hearth to poolside in two days. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mulch Madness

Gardening on the cheap requires humility and resourcefulness. Thinning out your irises? Sure, I'll take some and sort out the colors later. Free tubers? I've never met a tuber I didn't like. Lantana on the loose? I'm the queen of unwanted plants. If we even hear a tree getting shredded in the area, we are right there, begging the tree guys to dump the mulch at our house. You can't miss it, the place with the dying lawn and the big pile of shredded tree debris where most people park their car. 

I'm sure our neighbors have been thinking, What in the name of Heavenly Bamboo are those new owners doing to that poor yard? First they don't water the grass, then they stop mowing it. And now look, Myrtle, they're covering their yard with cardboard! There goes the neighborhood.

First ignore it.

Then cover it in cardboard.
Procure some mulch and lay it on thick! On the cardboard, mulch on cardboard, thick.

After Googling the entire process, there were several things we did wrong. First you are to mow the lawn super short, but the whole reason we're doing this is not to mow. Then you're supposed to wet it down really well, but another reason for this is not to water. Then you need to be careful to overlap the cardboard, covering every little gap. Let's hope our rag tag little gang of boxes will do the trick.

Our lawn, or shall I say expanse of Burmuda grass, was several inches higher than the sidewalk. We are the only house on the street like this, so I blame it on too much fertilizer that made the sod go nuts like an athlete on steroids. We, mostly not me, had to pick ax it like mad, pry up the sod in chunks around the edge and dump the extra dirt in the back. Now at least the edges are flush and the mulch won't go floating off. Our buddy Dan found some old bender board and asked us if we wanted it. Bender board for free? A cheapskate gardener's ideal gift. It not only keeps the mulch from straying, it acts like a picture frame around the yard and says to the neighbors - trust us, we do have a plan.

Almost finishing up Project Kill the Lawn 2013, we worked in the front yard for over four hours on Sunday afternoon. Normally that would sound like a punishment for a dastardly deed, but June 23, 2013 was perfect for working outside. We bent the board, we axed the sod, we threw down cardboard and we mulched away like busy beavers. To top it off, it started to rain quite nicely just as we cleaned up the tools, a great way to settle the dust and make the new plants happy. We're almost finished with the hedge around the perimeter and I got a donated Lantana from Myra planted. Next on the agenda is a little path lined with native plants.  If you have one, you may want to bolt it down. 

Would have been happy to water the lawn.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mornings are rough, have a smoothie

Why do morning people get all the praise? Yes, they're the early birds getting all the worms. They're the early to bed, early to rise, healthy and wealthy and wise ones. They're up working in their yards while it's still cool, off to work before the office gets noisy, at the store shopping when the aisles are clear. They're taking life by the horns while the rest of us are still sawing logs. Oh, to be like them. I lie awake at night daydreaming of being a morning person.

It's not like I sleep in, even after a grave shift I can't sleep the morning away. But to shine like the sun in the morning, that's what I wish for. I've had some seriously early schedules in my life, and if I must get up early, that's what I do, with only a few slams of the snooze button. I can't stand being late to anything, so I stumble around doing what needs to be done to make it out the door and get to where I have to be, at whatever hideous hour required. On those mornings, I am excessively proud of myself and practically choke from all the self back-patting, and then I see it. All the real morning people on the road, the ones who do this every single day of the week, year in and year out. The back-patting comes to a halt, and I merge into traffic realizing I am just a fake, a PM person pretending to have it all together in the AM.

Conversation in the morning between AM Annie and PM Patty

Annie: Goooood Morning!!!! :O) :O)
Patty:  (Ugh, what time is it? What day is it?) Hmmgh, cough. good morning, cough.
Annie: Oh, did I wake you?
Patty: No, yes, no, I was awake, no, I was, really, cough, cough... (Who am I? Who is this?)
Annie: Your voice sounds a little groggy, are you sure I'm not calling too early?
Patty: No, no, no. I was just swallowing a freshly baked, hmmgh, scone I whipped up this morning, cough, been up for hours. (Flush.) No, me, still sleeping? Been up for days, third pot of coffee, milked the goats, two loads of laundry, ran by your house on my 5 miler, your place looked a little dark...

Becoming a morning person takes some forethought in the afternoon and evenings. A well-stocked freezer full of pre-measured smoothies is this imposter's summer secret. In each of these Ziplocks I put some berries, bananas, pineapple and spinach or kale. In the morning I plop it in the blender with some Rice Dream or other white milk-like substance from a box. We non-morning people need to check carefully or we might just add some vegetable broth from a carton. Now that would be a wake-up call.

Green smoothies get rid of the morning blues.

Snooze button fighters ready to do battle.

Dreaming of being a Vitamix.

It's too early, someone shut the blinds!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Babs, the Shabby Chic Washday Quilt

Bubbles?             Sounds like a clown.
Bubba?                A wrestler with no neck.
Bubs?                  Ditto, but with an even shorter neck.
Babs?                 That fits, Babs it is.

Cutting out a rag quilt is not something I usually forget about, but this one got lost in the shuffle. I cut it out a while back, and then got busy with the two baby quilts. I found it all ready to go, sandwiched with batting, just waiting for an afternoon of sewing. With the weather so pleasant, I took the whole operation out to the back porch where I could drop thread like a textile mill.

I like to name the quilts after my Romanian friends, but nothing seemed to fit this one.
Rafaela?    No. She is chic but not shabby.
Luidmilla? She loves pink, but I don't associate her with laundry.
Loreana?  Ditto, just shorter.

Somehow I got Babs in my head and it got stuck there. Like when you start humming "I like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain..." So finally Babs is a finished quilt, it's on my Etsy shop and I can get on to other things. Like trying to get that awful pina colada song out of my head.

"I am not into health food, I am into champagne."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Plug it in, plug it in

We are at the four week countdown to Romania, and I've been busy with preparations. Our new passports arrived - I don't like my new picture, but oh well, it's only for ten years. So far this is what I've packed and have all ready to go:

So we'll smell fresh as daisies.

Why can't we all just get along?

OK, so our clothes will be clean and we'll have power. Now for the 132 other things we'll need to remember...

Kaiser sent a nice little PDF of all the medical things we need to think about. No worries about Yellow Fever in Romania. Well, that's a relief. We do need to make sure we are good to go with our Hepatitis A and B immunizations. Moving right along, there are the shots for rabies and tick born encephalitis. Ugh, really? Must read up on the pros and cons of those, because it sounds like the shot itself will leave us frothing at the mouth.

Shoes, must find some good shoes and break them in here. Closed toe sandals, they are all the rage for kicking off rabid dogs and keeping the encephalitis carrying ticks at bay. Comfort, coolness and critter killing ability, that is the goal for shoe shopping.

I'm going with the clothes I have, will not buy any new clothes, nope I will not. But there are those four days in Ireland, may need some cute pants that fit and an outfit for the convention. Maybe a few new clothes to go with the clodhopper new shoes?

Looking for a UV protection umbrella that opens so fast it can double as a rabid dog scaring device. If it has some sort of anti encephalitis protection, so much the better. Maybe it will rain, I hear umbrellas are good for that too.

Twenty-eight days to go. I'm frothing at the mouth.


Do the British secretly mock us about how tiny our plugs are?

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Boy Equation

One boy equals half a man.
Two boys equal half a boy.

Or so the saying goes. What do four boys equal? A cleared out redwood grove! Before our swim party on Sunday, some boys asked if they could come over and "help us get ready." We knew what that meant - a great excuse to come early and get in some extra swim time.

But help is help so we said sure, come over early. We got about 45 minutes out of them, which times four equaled 3 man boy hours. Enough to clear out our really messy redwood grove, buried in sticks and stones that could break some bones.

The work of four boys

The rewards of hard work

So where did people go to hang out? Under the nicely cleared out redwood grove? No, they went out to the really scary part of the yard, the part we are letting go back to nature. Where sticks and stones are just waiting to break some bones. Where old stuffed animals are becoming part of the mulch. I just love this picture of these guys out there with the newborn baby. I think the baby's uncle is sitting on our very precarious fire pit. Are they teaching the little guy their barbeque secrets? Who knows, it's a guy thing.

The impromptu teeter-totter was completely kid invented. I was surprised how much fun they had just tearing around the yard playing with sticks and stones. No bones were broken, but we really need to get some proper toys for the next party.

"We're Moldovan. We don't need no stinkin' toys!"

An after party surprise - beer we didn't buy!

An after party surprise - dog in the garbage!

"Playdate at the neighbors, my foot. I missed a party!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Behind closed drawers

We'll be having gobs of Moldovan friends in our yard for a swim party this Sunday. I hope the weather report is correct and the ghastly heat wave that's coming Saturday will break and bring us bearable weather that day. But if they can't stand the heat, they will end up in the kitchen. So it was time to get serious about getting it in shape.

When we move into a new place, my motto for putting stuff away is out of sight so I don't go out of my mind. For the kitchen, I give a bit of thought to where I want the plates, glasses and utensils, but the rest of the things get shoved in wherever they can fit. Just as you don't really know a person until you go camping with them, you can't really know a kitchen until you have cooked in it. Back in November, I shoved and shoved, got everything behind cupboard doors and crammed in drawers, broke down the boxes and called it good.

Now I know how this kitchen works. It has a decent amount of counter space, a floor that refuses to look dirty, only two working burners, a finicky broiler and a long stretch from sink to stove. Roller skates would be helpful, but instead I chop, chop, chop - walk, walk, walk - dump, dump, dump - cook, cook, cook. The Tupperware kept falling through the wire rack corner thing in the Ikea cabinets, the pasta was getting persnickety, the spices had no space and the pots and pans were just plain pesky. It was time to tackle it.

Ahh, just like moving in, but without the boxes.

OK, I guess I needed a few boxes. I am not a hoarder, I am not a hoarder.
I found a boat load of oats.
And oodles of noodles.
Try to fall through, I dare you.
My favorite pot is still the one Ernst found dumpster diving.
Labeling is supposed to remove the mystery.
The scary thing? This is the freezer after I organized it.
The junk drawer will need its own day.