Friday, August 22, 2008

House of Insects

We have fleas. Or rather, our four cats do (one of which has a skin disease and has barely any hair, so why the fleas?). For years I kept the cats indoors until we adopted Foxy, a semi-feral who took up residence in our garage. The other cats saw this cat going in and out (we COULDN'T keep her in, she wasn't having it) and felt the overwhelming need to join her. So for 3 years my previously indoor cats have been indoor/outdoor cats. Which means flea prevention is a must. Well, until recently, we didn't have the $200/month that Frontline costs, and, well, I didn't remember that there was a such thing as flea collars. Dur.

So now there are fleas everywhere. We are going to have to bomb the house
it's so bad. The first sign was when the baby woke in the morning with mystery bumps all over his arms and legs. Then Collin started complaining that bugs kept jumping on him. Fleas. I keep thinking about the commercial with the one flea multiplying into millions. And the episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends where Eduardo gets fleas.

The instigator

Last night Tim wanted me to go out to the garage and see the engine guard he had put on Honey. As we walked out into the garage, I heard a chirp that sounded suspiciously like that of our friendly neighborhood bats. (The bats like our home. Pest control people can't figure out how they get in, but about twice a year, we get a visitor. The most unfortunate incidence was when I fell asleep on the couch to awake to a bat perched on my shoulder. If you can avoid them, I would recommend staying as far away from rabies shots as you can. They hurt more than they tell you. And there's lots of them). Being the vaccinated one of the bunch, I bravely ventured into the garage, only to find that the culprit was a big, green chirping insect that I had never seen in my life. There was much debate over the identity of said insect and whether it would, in fact, kill us. I was of the camp that the green guy was probably harmless, yet gigantic and strange nonetheless. I deftly removed the insect from our garage using the "put something over it and a piece of cardboard under it" technique and then got to work on the internet to figure out who our nocturnal visitor was. Well, can you believe that I had never seen a katydid up until that point? I guess we have them in Ohio, but they can't be that common, because I was one of these "pick up the log to see the insects scamper" kids. I loved pill bugs and was always poking them to get them to curl up. I have a thing for praying mantis. I felt like I had to go tick "katydid" off of the "insects I have seen in my life" checklist.


Later that evening, my favorite of the insects made a stop in our house. Cicadas look like prehistoric monsters that most surely will disembowel you, but they are gentle giants. I love finding cicada exoskeletons on trees (I was a biology major, which, now that I think about it, makes the fact that I didn't know what a katydid was even more sad). Anyhow, one was hanging out by our porch light and decided to check out the house when I opened the door. Kendall went running and screaming. The cicada gave good chase but finally took up a post behind my great (x4) grandmother's picture. This was my second insect rescue of the evening.


A few years ago, the 7 year cicada breeding cycle hit Ohio. When you drove into wooded areas, hundreds of cicadas would land on your car. It was loud with a capital "L." But it was so cool. When I was a kid, my family and I took a trip to Pipestem State Park in West Virginia. It was the 16 year cycle breeding season for the West Virginia cicadas (like the one above, ours are just black). When you walked outside, they would land on you. My sister had over ten on her at one point. They terrified me then, but when one landed on me and it didn't kill me and it chirped and chirped, I fell in love. Be kind to your neighborhood cicada. What would summer be without that buzzy chirp?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Computer Madness

So the kids misplaced my iPod that I have had since the beginning of time. It is a first generation white iPod classic, I believe it holds 250 songs. No videos, pictures, podcasts, yadda, yadda, yadda. It is gone. I looked for it for a week, and I even enlisted the help of the kids (Collin now can have it if he finds it, but it takes A LOT to motivate him and he hasn't done much searching yet).


So why does Collin get my old, misplaced iPod? Because Tim gifted me with an 80G iPod Classic. Tim married a nerd. While jewelry is nice, gadgetry is the BOMB! My man knows me. The iPod can hold 20,000 (!!!!!) songs, videos, it may even babysit, but I haven't figured out that feature yet. So, all excited, I hooked up the new, shiny, crazy expensive iPod to my iBook - and nothing happens. Nothing at all. Not even a message that something new has been connected to the computer. Get on the internet and find that I have to upgrade to the new version of iTunes. No big. iTunes is downloaded, upgraded, plug in the iPod and get the message that if I want to ever use the picture and video capabilities, I have to upgrade my Quicktime program. So I do a general "what needs to be updated on this computer?" check, and a list of some 13 items pops up.

I should disclose at this point that my beloved iBook has been out of my possession for 2 years (for reasons too crazy to go into). A lot can happen in the life of a computer in two years. Obviously, everything gets outdated. And nothing works because of it, despite that fact that when I ordered it I put all of the RAM, memory, and processor that I could put in it at the time (that's all still pretty good, thankfully).

OK, so I do the updates. It all took 2 hours even with the superfast processor and connection speed. Now I have a super up-to-date computer that should be able to do anything.

Except sync with my new expensive iPod. You see, I have Mac OS 10.3 on my computer. The new iPod uses OS 10.4 or higher. Of course it does. Because why should I be able to actually USE my new iPod without spending another $140 on an operating system upgrade? (And for that matter, it it really necessary for Apple to come up with a new, improved, absolutely necessary or you'll die operating system every month? - ok, so I'm exaggerating, but don't get me started on the new Apple laptops that don't even have a replacable battery!)

Gah. Got on my "I'm a nerd" soapbox there. Anyhow, went out to the garage to tell Tim that I had to take back the iPod because I didn't want to spend another $140 just to get this thing working (that I totally love and have been gazing at adoringly since I got it). I don't like to spend money on myself. Money has been so tight that even when we have a little breathing room I get nauseated at the thought of spending excess cash. Tim was stroking Honey, his other-woman-motorcycle as I was telling him this (yes, she has a name). The motorcycle that, if you recall, he can't even ride yet due to a major leg injury that now has him on crutches (we are going on month 5 now). "Erin," he says,"I bought a motorcycle that I can't even drive. When you sing, you smile. And you always sing with the iPod. Spend the money."

Some of you may have gathered from that fact that I used to write a blog about depression that I may actually suffer from it. Well, I've been particularly bad what with having problems finding a job, not getting enough sleep (what mom with a teenager and a 15-month-old does?), and some unknown other factor that I have never been able to identify. When stress happens, the "thing" rears it's ugly head. So the comment about singing making me smile made me particularly gooey because I knew that my husband was paying attention to the things that cheer me up and doing what he could to make those things happen. Thus the gifting of the ridiculously expensive iPod and the additional operating system. I have a great husband.

So, in 3 - 5 days I should have a working iPod. I will have the most up-to-date operating system that a mac can have with features that make my head spin and I most likely will never use. But I'll be singing. And smiling.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ohio Luau / Super Delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Today was the celebration for the 10th anniversary of The Wings Enrichment Center. I have been volunteering at Wings since November of 2007 and have met wonderful, amazing people. At Wings "Union County residents facing mental health issues make plans, achieve goals, and have productive, happy lives. Wings provides a place to turn for groups, activities, and support." Volunteering there really has been one of the best experiences of my life. So anyhow, to celebrate, we had a luau. A luau in Ohio is an interesting affair; for starters, it was held in a Baptist church that was a former steak house/bar, and still houses a beer distillary (yes, I am aware of the irony of a distillary being in the same building as a Baptist church - I grew up Baptist). The food was great, your typical Midwestern church potluck with shredded pork and chicken sandwiches, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, and endless salads of various mayonnaise variations. There was Beach Boys music and leis and beach balls and various beach accoutrements and much hilarity and a good time had by all.

If you guessed that this isn't Ohio, you were right

I volunteered to take a pineapple upside down cake, which I had never made, but, as you may have gathered by now, I'm up for trying anything at least once (click the link for the recipe). This cake is superb. If I hadn't have been expected to share, I could have possibly eaten the whole thing myself. And it really is easy to make, once you get past the whole making caramel step (which really is simple). The only variation that I made to the recipe was that instead of using water as instructed on the cake mix box, I used the drained pineapple juice. Can you say "Yummy!?" And one other great thing; my son (who I have mentioned had a thing for cookbooks) has finally decided he wants to learn to cook and bake. So he made the large portion of the cake. My husband and I have told Collin that if he truly learns to cook, the girls will be amazingly impressed; Collin has duly noted this (he is already a ladies man).


I've been running for days; I am tired. I am going to find some mind numbing entertainment on TV (Hollywood's Most Expensive Real Estate, anyone?) and veg. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Risotto as Meditation, Daisies

Risotto as Meditation

In an exciting development, I located arborrio rice at our local Kroger. I have never made risotto, but I really wanted to give it a try, and I have been dreaming about a wild mushroom risotto that I had at San Francisco's Puccini & Penitti. It was rich, creamy, and the most wildly delicious risotto I have ever tasted. The kids were at a water park with their grandfather for the day, so the stage was set for mommy and daddy actually being able to have an adult dinner.

I found a recipe for the risotto on Recipezaar (I sound like a broken record with the Recipezaar, but it is my go-to recipe site), but I ended up modifying it so much that I'm just going to record what I did here.

I took a few pictures of the cooking, but my photos are nowhere near the photographic genius of those on Taste Spotting, et al. In fact, they aren't great at all, but I took them, so you have to look at them.

You'll need
1 cup dry white wine (yeah, wine!)
around 8 cups of chicken broth (I used 2 cans low sodium and 2 regular)
2 yellow onions
10 - 12 ounces of wild mushrooms (shitake, baby portabella, crimini, etc)
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 cups arborrio rice
3/4 cups good grated parmesean cheese (plus some extra for a garnish)
butter to taste
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

I found making risotto to be a very meditative experience. I loved it. When I first saw a chef make it on TV I thought "Stand and stir rice non-stop for 30-45 minutes? You gotta be nuts!" But it was the fastest 45 minutes I've experienced in a long time. It was wierd, it was like I became one with the process and my mind was cleared and all I though about was the stirring and adding broth and perfecting the dish.

So to make the recipe, here's what you do:

1. Pour all of the broth in a stock pot and bring it to a simmer.
2. While the chicken broth is warming, finely dice the onion, slice the mushrooms, and chop the garlic (if you do that and don't use the prechopped stuff in the bottle).
3. Heat a little olive oil in a deep skillet, then add your onions, saute until they start to appear clear, add the mushrooms and garlic and saute for around 8 minutes.

Good enough to eat now, but restrain yourself!

4. Add the rice, stir it around in the pan for about 2 minutes to lightly toast it.
5. Add the wine (yeah, wine!) and stir until the wine has been absorbed into the rice.
6. Now start adding your chicken broth about a cup to a cup and a half at a time and stir constantly until the broth is absorbed. Continue in this fashion until you have used all of the chicken broth. Rest assured, all of the broth will be absorbed.

You don't think this will absorb, do you? Well, it did!

7. Stir in the 3/4 cup parmesean cheese and a little butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve immediately. Garnish each serving with freshly grated parmesean cheese and chopped parsley.
9. Die from the deliciousness.

A couple of notes. I believe that the risotto that I had in San Fran may have been made with red wine, perhaps a merlot. There is a possibility that beef broth was involved as well. It was so rich and the end product was actually a dark brown dish. This one is a little grey when completed.

I didn't take this picture. Gobitapi on photobucket did. But mine tasted better.


I have a 70 ft border that is a combo of roses, catmint, veronica, thyme, and daisies. The daisies were so pretty this year. I have hundreds of them, but I have such a difficult time cutting them because when they are all in bloom, they look like this:


Now I have purple and golden coneflowers in bloom, but the purple coneflowers seem to be afflicted with some sort of mystery virus, so, unfortunately, I'm going to have to dig them out and dispose of them with the lawn clippings. Fortunately, it's not difficult to come across clippings of purple coneflowers, so all is not lost. The golden coneflowers look exactly like black-eyed Susan's but flower for much longer and get that great tall cone that all coneflowers produce. I'd recommend them for any sunny garden spot.

I'm still struggling with late summer, fall flowerers. Everything seems to quit blooming around the middle of August. I'd like to try some Boltonia, but I can't find it anywhere. I'd also like to plant some of my empty spots with goldenrod - it is so showy and does not produce allergenic pollen (a vicious myth). Next year I'd like to plant some cosmos and cloeme as well - I generally stay away from annuals, but they are so cottagey, no?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Acting like a housewife

Last Saturday, Kendall and I (and William) had a girls day out. Kendall needed a pair of dress shoes for an upcoming wedding and we decided to go have lunch before shopping. Kendall loves Cheeseburger In Paradise, mostly, I think, for the Virgin Coladas, and we hadn't been for a while, so I suprised her with her favorite restaurant. Well, we had a great lunch (my talapia was So Yummy, and what do they do to their brocolli?). Then came the bill. $50 big ones. For 2 people! I usually keep a close eye on what is being spent when we eat out, but I let loose and spent $50 on lunch!

Tim gasped in horror, but he's a great guy and that was the end of it. But the eating out must cease for the time being. So I have made a plan for meals for the week. Tonight we had Johnny Marzetti (which my dad, who is from Youngstown, OH calls Grigsley Koogsley), which in my family wasn't made with spaghetti sauce but canned or fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, and a little salt and sugar (to counteract any bitterness of the tomato). It is simple and yummy and not overly spicy. William ate a whole bowl.

I have that mixer (really). I often make that face. I'm such a cool housewife!

The kids will be gone tomorrow, and I wanted to make risotto, but I'm having a difficult time finding short grain rice in Marysville. So I'll be making Coq Au Vin and Roasted Potatoes instead. It's easy to make in a slow crock pot, just put the veggies in the bottom (carrots, mushrooms, celery), the chicken on top of the veg, the herbs (thyme, rosemary, and sage - herbes de provence - and a bay leaf or two), the garlic, and the onion on top of that, add some chicken broth and wine et viola - crock pot Coq Au Vin. That being said, I am going all out and making it the old fashioned way (there is a great recipe here). With the old fashioned version, the wine sauce thickens nicely as the chicken is floured and braised. If you want a sauce with the crock pot version, you'll have to remove all of the chicken, etc, and thicken the juices. And lets face it; the stove top version just tastes better.

I'm also planning on making lasagna (which makes excellent left overs and can be whipped up ahead of time) and a turkey breast and corn pudding (a Collin favorite) at some point. We'll have a roast on a night when everyone is home (which are fewer and farther between), and I'll just have to wing the rest. I'm beginning to feel more and more like June Cleaver in tennis shoes!

All of this, and a mountain (literally) of laundry in the basement, a VERY busy baby to keep up with, and the Olympics! I am an Olympic junkie, and what a night last night! I'm probably one of 1 million people writing about the men's 4X100m freestyle relay - what an amazing race! I was a little concerned that Michael Phelps was going to have a stroke, but who can blame him! My husband and I both screamed and jumped up and down when the US won - the kids came running afraid that we'd been hurt! And I am so excited about Michael Phelps' medal prospects - the Greatest Olympian! - and the men's and women's gymnastics competitions. I was so disappointed when hometown hero Paul Hamm withdrew due to a broken hand, but then Raj Bhavsar got his spot on the Olympic team, and he is amazing! This is what I love about the Olympics; the great upsets, the looked over getting their chance to shine, and, of course, seeing the athletes do things that I couldn't do in my wildest dreams!


Well, the baby is melting down (it's his bedtime), so I must end my Sports Analysis (most likely the only one you will ever see on this blog). And I'm missing synchronized diving, which is amazingly unacceptable (or not). Some miscellaneous sites next post.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Knitting Sites Galore

So I promised some knitting sites, and here they are! I really cannot say enough about StumbleUpon; quite a few of the cool sites that I have discovered are the result of it. But enough said about that, to the sites!

The big news this month is the launch of The Twist Collective, and it was worth the wait! The articles are top notch, and the patterns - brilliant. Just check out "bonnie", a mock turtleneck sweater with genius celtic cabling (downloadable for $7). I have a soft spot for great cables, and "wisteria" by Kate Gilbert has some of the most inventive cable detailing that I have seen. If you are a sock knitter, you won't be disappointed; there are five sock patterns, an article on sock yarn, and a tutorial on the inserted heel sock. If you have not entered this wonderland of knitting lusciousness, get there now!

The Knitting Fiend is a helpful site that contains generators for many knit items, including sweaters, headbands, socks, etc. The site also includes lessons in bust darts, the kitchener stitch, gauge and yardage, and many other tricky knitting skills. There is a knitting convertor and several basic sweater patterns as well.


I really must say more about the knitting convertor on The Knitting Fiend - it really is quite wonderful. Visit this page to do all those complicated knitting calculations: converting rows and stitches from one pattern to another gauge, increases and decreases necessary to taper sleeves, knitting cuffs, etc, shape hat crowns, and on and on. Really a handy tool.

Kiss Your Shadow is not a knitting site, but it contains a really cool, really fun tool - a random stripe generator. You can choose from a large number of colors, select the allowable stripe widths and the total number of rows in your project. Useful for sweaters, scarves, hats, whatever your imagination canjures up. So fun, check it out!

This next site will make you go "Ooohhh." Chic Knits is a site with modern hand knitting patterns designed by Bonne Marie Burns. The patterns are classic and beautiful and they will make you wish that you could knit much faster than you actually can (for a prolific, inventive knitter and also a great blog, check out Canary Knits - she seems to knit a sweater a day. How does she do it?!). There is a nice section of tips and articles and a nice knitting blog.

Find yourself spending much to much on yarn? Knitter's Review has a money saving article for you, "Online Guide: Where to Find Inexpensive Yarns." Times are tough, and let's face it, part of the joy of knitting is making something out of a yummy yarn. Use this site to protect your bottom line.


You must check out Knitting Scouts. Do you love badges? Do you long for the days when cooking dinner earned you another patch on your girl scout sash? You most likely have earned one of these hilarious badges and you don't even know it.

And finally, I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been knitting a prayer shawl. There are hundreds of sites on the internet where you can find the Trinity Stitch prayer shawl pattern, but The Prayer Shawl Ministry Site is what you visit when you want to learn everything - yes, everything, about the prayer shawl. There is an interesting section regarding symbolism behind the different colors used to kint the shawl, a message board, info on how to start a prayer shawl ministry, and wonderful prayers for beginning the shawl, contemplation, and specific conditions in which the shawl may be used.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Goin' to the Zoo

A few days ago, during one of our increasingly frequent discussions with Collin about learning how to get along with his sister (Kendall got one too) we talked to Collin about how there is only 2 more weeks of summer vacation (cue Handel's "Hallelujiah Chorus") and was there anything that he wanted to do as a family before school started. He suggested going to California, going to a pro sports game, and Disney World, which unfortunately were all non-options since the money tree died, and then he came up with the zoo. The Columbus Zoo is a very much underrecognized world-caliber zoo that neither Tim nor I had visited in 10 years, so the decision was made: To the Zoo!

Kendall, her boyfriend, and Collin disappeared pretty much the second that we walked through the gate, so it was just the hubby, the baby, and me. Will has always been fascinated by animals, and we were excited to see what he would think of the zoo. Well, wouldn't you know it, he was too distracted by the other babies and children streaming by to notice much else. He did, however, have a jolly old time in the petting zoo, where the goats actually were happy to let him pet them (unlike our cats, who flee in terror when they see him).

Will makes a new friend

My earliest memory of the Columbus Zoo is much like all zoos of the time, rows of little cages with animals pacing back and forth. But when Jack Hanna took over as zoo director of the zoo in 1978 (yes, David Letterman's Jack Hanna), it was transformed into acres and acres of gorgeous animal habitats, which are now organized by continent.

Another early memory involves the 1914 M C Illions Carousel (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). It is a gorgeous carousel, complete with all 52 of its original horses, 2 chariots, and a band organ. Nowadays the horses stand pretty much upright, but when I was a kid, the horses tipped side to side and, I kid you not, they had to be at a 55 degree angle for a large portion of the ride. The majority of my time was spent clinging desperately to the pole so that I wouldn't plummet to my death off of the horse. The tipping was fortunately discontinued and now millions of kids enjoy this beauty every year.

See, the horses are straight!

Peacocks roam freely throughout the zoo, which brings me to a story about my Grandma Rosie. When I was around 10, my grandparents took my cousin Rachael and I to the zoo. Shortly after entering the park, a peacock appeared and seemed to take a liking to my grandmother. She didn't do anything to provoke its affections, but we were followed all day long by grandma's peacock suitor, who on occassion pecked lovingly at her toes and rubbed around her legs. Many displays of peacock plumage and manly strutting also transpired. When we were leaving the park, a zoo keeper had to physically restrain the peacock so that he wouldn't leave the park to live forever with his new love. The parting was tragic and a little violent, but I believe that the relationship was ill fated from the start.

Columbus's most romantic bird

The zoo's claim to fame is Colo, who, in 1956, became the first gorilla born in captivity. Since that time, the Columbus zoo has become a worldwide leader in the care, conservation, and breeding of gorillas. Colo is now a great-grandmother and is still thriving. PBS recently ran an incredibly beautiful (and heartbreaking) Nature episode entitled "Snowflake: The White Gorilla"; Colo and Dotty, Colo's great-granddaughter were featured in the episode. If you have the opportunity to see it, watch this episode, unless you don't like to get teary-eyed.

Happy gorillas at the zoo

I think most people my age who grew up in Columbus have a bit of a love affair with the zoo. Did I mention that they currently have the largest snake in captivity ("Fuzzy" the python), that they have a wonderful manatee exhibit, that they championed white tigers at a time when other zoos were euthanizing them at birth due to their genetic abnormality? Columbus really is a great city with a great zoo.

So it wasn't my intention to write a travel log-advertisement for the zoo; I did get a bit carried away, but our trip today took me back to my childhood and reminded me how much I just love our zoo. Hopefully, on our next visit, Will will become a bit more observant and start his love-affair. Until then, he can dream about new animals called goats that let him pet them and tried to eat mommy's camera cord and a land of endless babies in strollers just like him.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Say hello to these nifty sites!

Tim, Collin, Kendall, and her boyfriend Patrick (who cleaned out my microwave this morning - yes, I know, there are not words) are busy cleaning out our garage (aka, the pit of misfit household items) so that I can actually get my car into it (the motorcycle already has it's place; don't get me started). Anyway, that gives me some time to introduce some of the nifty sites that I have discovered over the last month.


There is no end to the fantastic cooking sites on the internet! One that I have particularly enjoyed is Foodgawker, where foodies and regular schmoes publish beautiful pictures of their culinary creations, which, when clicked, will take you to the corresponding blog or food site. The homepage changes daily, but right now it includes Thin Mint muffins, Thai Chicken Sausage rolls, and Wild Mushroom Risotto, just to name a few. Very inventive and delectable recipes at your fingertips!

My grandma taught me how to cook (my mom and step-mom were partial contributors, but grandma was my main influence). So it is understandable that I would be attracted to the food blog How to Cook Like Your Grandmother. I've often thought that in this world of microwaves and fast food and saturated fat terror that people are totally losing out on the good old-fashioned meals of our childhood. Check out this recipe for Peach Cobbler and you will remember the days when food simply tasted good and you didn't have to consult your dietician and spiritual guru before eating it.

Not my grandma, but I'll bet she was a great cook!

What's Cooking America is a HUGE database of regionally based recipes, cooking articles, hints and tips, and on and on and on. I came across it because of my insatiable love of my cast-iron chicken fryer and a fortuitous Stumble. The Irreplacable Cast Iron Skillet is an excellent article on proper seasoning and care of the beloved iron pan (check out this article, too); there are innumerable other articles covering any cooking topic you can fathom. The regional recipes section is a bit sparse, but there is enough there that is it certainly worth a visit - etouffee anyone?

My mom always said that I should have been born into an Italian family because I never came across a noodle that I didn't fall in love with (Spatzel and cabbage and noodles, while yummy and filling in an German-Irish sort of way, just isn't the same). I would choose a good risotto over anything else even from an early age. Italian Home Recipes is full of more authentic Italian deliciousness than most sites I have found. Right now, the featured recipe is Risotto with Scallops (my bar none most favorite seafood which means I am drooling on my brand new keyboard). All of the recipes are rated and comments are allowed, which I have always found very helpful, not to mention that the pictures are mouthwatering. Channel your inner Italian with Italian Home Recipes.

I hope you enjoy these sites and take the opportunity to expand your cooking repertoire when you spy a new irrisistable recipe. Next post, knitting madness!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Update from the Homefront

I haven't posted for a while, so I suppose an update is in order. Actually, I was reminded that I actually have a blog and could I please post by A FAN who emailed me!!! I have a fan!!! WOOHOO! I didn't think anyone read this thing and I was just blowing smoke in cyberspace, but thanks to FaithBunker, I know that this blogging thing actually works!

Okay. I have taken a few deep breaths and a tranquilizer (not really) and am able to continue in the calm, sophisticated tone of previous posts.

Well, we've had illness in the house, which has kept me from the keyboard (which is new and actually works!). Just colds, but have you noticed that colds aren't like the happy-go-lucky colds of the 70's, when you were a little stuffy for a few days but they certainly didn't keep you from your Bionic Woman doll and all of her cool accessories? Now, colds knock me on my butt! I was in bed for two days. Maybe it's just because I'm old, but I was a wreck!

But that's not all. Kendall, my figure skater, will have to take a short leave of absence from the rink as she gracefully broke her toe last night while doing laundry. There is a pole at the bottom of our stairs, and she must have forgotten it was there, because she gave her toe a good whacking. My previous-life-as-a-pediatrician skills came in handy; I am good with a splint.

Kendall has a flair for the dramatic

William was alone in the living room with me today when he pulled himself up to standing using my pant leg, took me by the hand, and started to walk around the house with me, leading me to where he wanted to go. My heart nearly burst with maternal love! We walked to the bathroom, where he took a look at the toilet, his current object of fascination, then he took me to the front door. We walked outside, to the baby ginkgo tree, then back to one of Collin's footballs, where a short game of push and chase the football commenced. He then stood back up, took my by the hand, and we walked around to the garage, where Tim was fooling around with his motorcycle. He babbled a dissertation to daddy and then wanted to be picked up. This was the longest walk of his 18 month life and the first one that he decided upon without mommy's prompting. My baby is growing up too fast! As my mom often said to me, I'm going to have to tie a great big rock to his head to keep him little.

William taking a quite serious walk with Kendall.

Tim is doing well. Tim, who shattered his lower leg in a moped accident (he was hit by a truck driven by a man who did not yield) and swore that he would never ride again now has a new motorcycle that he hobbles up to with his crutches, turns on, strokes lovingly, and then turns off. He says that it gives him incentive to keep going and getting better. Okay. I don't ride. I am afraid of motorcycles and have only ridden with Tim once, during which I held onto him so tightly as to crush his ribcage (okay, not really) and squeezed my eyes shut in abject terror. I also don't think I took a breath for 3 blocks. I will give him the fact that they are amazingly fuel efficient (especially this one, which will sit in the garage indefinately as there is no way that Tim can ride until he can actually walk). I don't know where I am going with this particular story, except to say that I am proud of him for how far he has come in so little of a time. Okay, he can keep the motorcycle.

A wee little picture of my honey

What to say about Collin. He is 10. His life revolves around video games, inane DVDs like "Drillbit Taylor", shooting hoops, and the pool. He did go to football camp. He had a good time. He's 10, what can I say?

See that colorful quilt in the back? I made it!

So I guess that leaves me. I am now knitting a prayer shawl, which has put all other projects into hibernation. It's the widely used Trinity Stitch Pattern, which is simple and allows one to be quite meditative while knitting. Of course, I veered from the pattern by using size 10 needles, Bernat Boucle yarn (the #11's left holes where I purled which vexed me to no end, #10's solved the problem), and casting on 63 stitches. This number, and the recommended 57, is nice because you always begin with the knit stitch at the beginning of every row. I will try the recommended Lion Brand Homespun on the next shawl I knit as there will be more definition to the stitch pattern (which is obscured by the boucle). I am hoping to start a group in the community, but right now I am focusing on knitting shawls for my church to be given to whoever needs them.

We still have the Niagra in our basement. We should start charging admission. Then maybe we could afford a plumber so that I could take a bath. We do have a free-standing shower in another bathroom that is not involved in our Basement-Wonder-of-North-America, but I don't like to shower. I love a steaming hot bath. It is my evening therapy. Tim has a line on a guy at the church who is a plumber; fingers crossed that he will help us out. I miss my bath tub.

This is my basement, complete with the city in the background. Really.

So that's that. I have to go take a shower. Bah.

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