Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Key...

...is knowing what REALLY grabs your kid.

In her case, a set of 5 giant inflatable bugs. She never has been and never will be a 'princess' type little girl. Sadly, the neighbor kids missed the mark with the Bratz dolls (which we loathe with a mouth-foaming passion anyway). Soon we will stage a Bratz-plastic dinosaur-giant bug war.

Wonder who will win? I'm certain one of the dinosaurs can manage to breath fire...

Merry Christmas...

Accidental pretty shot of the tree. Happy Holidays to all, be happy and well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Engine Is Back From The Spa!

And it looks LOVELY!

A very pretty shiny piston!

The crank waits, still enrobed in cosmoline, for installation...

Because nothing is ever simple, other things besides the engine rebuild had to be done.
The work under the dash is proceeding, the wiring is nearly all done, the new ignition and locks are in, 2 of the 4 speakers are in, the turn indicator cam is installed. 

And I have to say, visiting your car mid-engine-rebuild and seeing it SO apart is a little like watching a family member have major surgery--disconcerting and disturbing, but you know it has to be done and ya just gotta trust.

Think this speaker is Blaukaput? :D

The engine compartment sports a fresh coat of black paint to protect it until waaaay down the road when the bodywork/paint stage is reached.

The Black Hole Of Calcutta!

The water pump, however...

...is officially toast. J. installed this thing about a year and a half ago. The engine was going through water like a mad thing, so we ended up topping off the radiator with plain water more often than we should have.

Use coolant, every time, kids!. The car is rounding the turn and coming into the home stretch...which is good, because I miss my car.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Grit Your Teeth, Here Goes

It has begun.  The engine rebuild.

From this:
*And please note tolerant but bemused husband giving me the fish eye over worrying and hyperventilating about my car going in for major surgery...

To this:

The Grand Canyon:

But wait--why stop THERE?! What about inside the car as well?

The dash looks too intact, let's FIX THAT!


Well...that doesn't look so ba--


I guess a burned wire on the clock would tend to interfere with it keeping time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Kidisms...

My daughter brought home a little rubber bat toy from school today, a gift from her teacher. We had stopped at Target to do some shopping on the way home, and entered the house laden with a gift for one of the two birthday parties she is attending tomorrow and enough Halloween candy to choke a ghost (see what I did there?).

We offload the trick-or-treat supplies in the kitchen and N. dashes off to the bathroom. After she comes out and is chattering away at her daddy, it's my turn in there. Suddenly I hear a voice outside the door.

Anxiously: "Mom, did I leave my bat in there?"

I look around and don't see it right away. "Uhhhh... let me check." I finally find it, lying flat on the counter, oddly enough it's hidden under one of the hairbrushes. I exit and give it to her. "Why was he under a hairbrush...?

She grabs the bat and runs off to show it to her father. "So he wouldn't peek at me while I went potty!"

Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Iron

Sunday the 14th was the day of the Pomona Antique Auto Swap Meet, held numerous times each year. It is held at the Fairplex in Pomona, right next to the racetrack, and spans something on the order of 13 acres. It includes a vintage car show/sell area on one side, and people selling old car parts swap meet-style on the other. It is MASSIVE, to say the least.

I only scored three things for my '69 Plymouth this time: a set of curb feelers, a set of black armrests (Ruby will have a black interior when she is redone) and a 'Plymouth Fury' keyfob. I shall persevere in the hunt for replacement parts though, and I have if not high hopes, than at least reasonable ones. You see, as true muscle cars such as Road Runners & Barracudas (called A and B body cars) become more and more desirable, they will be subsequently priced right out of range for the average person. Also, as the A and B body cars become more popular, more businesses realize that there is LOTS of money to be had in making restoration parts--weatherstripping, carpet, door handles, etc.

That's were the lowly C bodies come in. People like me are turning to them, because that's what we can afford.

See, right now, many of the true muscle car enthusiasts sneer at C bodies. When you call these businesses to see about parts, you are told coldly, "That's a C body. We don't make parts for THOSE."

They will, as soon as they realize that hey--there's money to be made here!!! I can already see the tide turning, as more and more people are commenting to me (with some surprise in their voice), "You know, those C bodies are pretty nice cars, and they're getting more popular!"

The worm will turn, friends...

Meanwhile, I got many, many pictures of some VERY beautiful cars at the swap meet. Here's my favorite, a lovely blue Nomad:


Isn't it pretty? Beautiful blue, and the chrome shines, as a matter of fact the entire car shines--wait. What's that?

Ah--! I see, the owner has left a security guard!

"You touch my Nomad, I KEEEEELL YOU!!!"

Friday, August 31, 2007

Google Maps Street View, Here I Come!

Yesterday on the way to the dentist, I was bopping along the freeway in the Plymouth with the top down and realized that I was behind one of those TeleAtlas camera cars, the ones that take the constant photos for Google Maps Street View.

I'll have to check Google and see if N. and I made the cut in a few weeks or so.

Of course, I couldn't resist making a huge, sappy-happy :) face for the camera as we passed. Regardless, it gave me a giggle.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More From The OC Fair...

Before I forget, a few more pics from the Orange County Fair, now gone for another year...

This we found just plain amusing, some wag had set up the Gideon Bible folks directly across from a tarot/palm reader:

I felt kind of sorry for the bible people, their booth was empty while the tarot reader was pipin'.

We visited the show chickens the day they were there, and ran across this unlikely duo:

While the Polish rooster on the right is obviously smitten and very much in love, the Quail Bantam hen is having none of it, she is all fluffed up and flared out, and by her repeated growls we could tell she would like nothing better than to have a go at this nervy fellow.

I do believe she was guarding the egg she'd laid.  Those Quail bantams DID have damned cute, fluffy faces though, and now I have ANOTHER breed to add to my 'want' list:

She looks like a stuffed toy, I swear.


My vacuum cleaner has died. The one I've had since roughly 1981. The one my brother teased me about the day I purchased it, because I called him and excitedly gushed about it, it worked so well. The one that was my first major appliance purchase.

I abused the Hell out of that thing. Vacuum cleaners are supposed to be tough as nails in my opinion, and this one was. It was a canister vac with a power head and attachments, and I went ahead and got the best one I could, reasoning that it would last for a long time. I'd say I got my money's worth out of it...

Over the years it has had several repairs, and parts replaced when they wore out. This time, it had a catastrophic failure, akin to multiple organ failure on a human when you get old and just plain wear out. It needed a new cord, and a new cord reel, as it had stopped retracting the cord. The on/off foot pedal no longer worked and you had to push the button by hand. The worse was the power head--it would randomly fall off and/or spin around, because the steel clip in the tube steel part of the shaft had broken off. All of these things together made cleaning the floor a frustrating and dumb experience as the power head flopped around like a stunned bass.

So off it went to the Sears repair center, where they goggled at it when I brought it in, exclaiming, "That's OLD!" Watch it there, sister, it ain't THAT old. After they had had it for a week I got a telephone call one day...parts for it were no longer available.

Well. OK, time to shop for a new vacuum.

Meanwhile, I have to go down and pick up the old one. I figure I'll put a 'free vacuum' ad on Craigslist, maybe someone who has NO vacuum at all could still use it, even in it's disjointed, ridiculous state. After all, the thing DID still work, and picked up dirt just fine. It made me feel better knowing I could recycle the thing that way.

No dice, the repair folk, in their wisdom, have cut the end off of the plug. Why?! I end up tossing the thing in the trash with much grumbling.

So I make another Major Appliance Purchase, and lug home the new vacuum cleaner.

Which is identical to the old one, except this one sports a snazzy metallic burgundy finish. It even COSTS about the same as the old one originally did.

The new one does sport push-button controls on the wand rather than a foot pedal, and includes another, oh-so-nifty, extra small powerhead for cleaning auto upholstery. It has a little set of LED lights that shift from red to green when the floor is clean enough to please it's sensors. It's nine different types of cool, and quieter than the old one, I have to admit.

But I'm amused by how little things have changed over 26 years.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bye, Liz...

Just a little while ago, Elizabeth left us.

This is Liz cooling off on a hot day.

We were forced to buy Elizabeth, a Jersey Giant hen, BY Elizabeth one day in 2003 when we went to the feed store. Liz ran over from across the pen and chased after us up and down the fence, staring at us and crying until we gave in. It was weird, her whole attitude was one of, "Where have you BEEN?! I've been waiting and waiting!". We couldn't resist those great, dark, melting eyes though. No idea how old she was since she was an adult when we bought her.

Liz was extremely sweet and friendly, calm and never mean. She was polite and had excellent manners. She sported beautiful greenish-black feathers and black legs, and laid many truly huge dark brown eggs. We lost her daughter, Rita, earlier this year but Elizabeth's granddaughter, Skitters, is still with us.

She was lovely old girl and we'll miss her.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Minutiae and Majoriae (Is That A Word...?)

On the Major side: The top goes down on the Plymouth again!!! It required a trip to Convertible Specialists in San Gabriel and hanging out there almost three hours (my Carl Hiaasen book kept me entertained, as did peeking out into the shop at the other cool old cars there), but damn, all it needed was a proper charging of the hydraulic system, the top motor is in great shape! Turns out that a couple of air bubbles had escaped the attention of my mechanic (who told me up front he was not an expert at these things). Eventually the bubbles joined forces at some point and were enough to stop the top from going up. So the 38 year old convertible top motor lives. Go, Detroit steel! I've been running the top up and down practically non-stop over the last week to really test it, before I proceed with the next step...body plugs, carpet and PAINT! The upholstery and rechroming will have to wait for now, but J. got me some new quilted moving pads that I'm going to fit as seat covers, sew holes for the seat belts and add some grommets to tie the things down with. That'll work!

The other day N. and I had gone on a foray for my $100.00 shoes that I have to wear. I hate buying shoes, just like I hate buying tires. Very expensive and not fun. As we came out of the store and were getting into the car, I see out of the corner of my eye something odd--a drunken bum...on a scooter. One of those electric ride-on things. Humorously surreal, as it's around 10AM and he's cruising down the sidewalk in a decidedly wobbly manner, a can of beer clenched in his fist. He stops. Suddenly, he bellows, "MAN, I'D MARRY YOU JUST FOR YOUR CAR!" I make the mistake of laughing, and off he goes--apparantly, 'extra-damned-loud' is his normal volume level. And he's a big guy, so he can really YELL. He goes on and on about what a great car it is, how much he loves those old cars, yada, yada, yada... People a block away are turning their heads to see what all the damned hollering is about. Geez. As we drive away, N. says, "He was LOUD!" No kidding.

As far as the little stuff goes, tonight I opened the enclosed part of Ace the rabbits' hutch to check for eggs, since the hens LOVE to go in there. Not only are there eggs, but Sugar the Buff Laced Polish hen is in there, looking offended. She's a sweetie, so I reach in to pet her a bit and say hello. Damned if she didn't bite the heck out of me! Not just a little warning peck, either--a full on BITE! Didn't know she had it in her.

We took N. down to Huntington Beach yesterday. The conditions were a bit odd, what with the monsoon conditions coming up out of Mexico. The surf was a little bit higher than normal but was WAY fiercer than normal, too. Rip currents aplenty, and the lifeguards were out in full force. I took N. out into the surf about knee deep while J. stayed on the beach blanket. Every few minutes there'd be a wave that would come in MUCH farther and taller than the others, and it was amusing to see the people that had arrived on the beach and misread the waterline, placing their chairs and whatnot too close to the water. Surprise! Also entertaining were the 30-something Hispanic guys who had brought along a huge killer whale pool ride-on toy...their kids tried it out and quickly decided it didn't work in the waves (smart kids). Well, the DADS swaggered on out to the surf, laughable inflatable toy in hand. Their wives stayed in the beach chairs, watching...and you didn't even need to speak Spanish to understand what the ladies were telling the guys.

Sure enough, the macho men stuck that toy between their knees and ran out into the surf...which had pulled out a bit...remember those once-in-a-while huge waves?


Tumbling men! Everyone on the beach laughed.

By the way: beach showers are NOT for lounging in like you haven't had a wash in three weeks, especially when other people are stacked up 10 deep waiting for you to finally hose the sand out of your crotch and move along. The next time I see someone doing this I shall forcibly drag them out of the beach shower by one ear. Face it, you are never going to get all that sand out in a piddly beach shower anyway.

Also, kudos to the seagull who intercepted a Frisbee in mid-flight, thinking it was a slice of bread thrown into the air. One of the guys playing Frisbee had to hike down the beach a bit to retrieve it. We finally got out of there just as it started to rain--fat, warm, large tropical drops.

That night, around 11PM, long after N. was asleep, I heard a sudden commotion out front, banging and laughing. I opened the door to see what was going on...to see some guy on his hands and knees on TOP of the cab of J.'s truck. He's laughing and so are his buddies, who are dashing around in the street. Great, I figure, drunk teenagers. I call J., who had also heard the noise and was on his way out to see what it was. We both go out onto the porch, where J. asks the guy (a whole lot nicer than I would have) to get off his truck.

"Sorry man, a DOG chased me up here!" The kid calls back. Well--! That's about the last thing we expected to hear... His buddies have taken refuge in their car, where a tail wagging, smiling pit bull has them cornered. J. and I are laughing and J. goes out to see if the dog had tags (it didn't). The dog was perfectly friendly, the kid and his buddies obviously saw A PIT BULL OMG and freaked out. Once J. got out there and showed the kid it was harmless the kid climbed down, climbed into his friends' car and they split.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Daughter, The Weed

Well, as every parent with school age kids knows, you have to pounce on next year's school uniforms NOW. Because by the end of July, they are gone. Finished. And none of the stupid stores will reorder. Apparantly, kids never outgrow or ruin uniforms midyear, and so never have to replace any. Ha.

Today I loaded up on N.'s first big uniform haul in three years. She enters third grade in September, and so far she's been getting along fine with her uniforms that we got in Kindergarten. Then, even with getting the smallest size, they were miles too big for her and I had to take them in & shorten them--still a bit baggy, but acceptable. In first grade the altered clothes fit, hurrah! Other than having to replace the white shirts I had foolishly bought before Kindergarten (where they only use the finest black and blue paints with the darkest pigments). Last year, second grade...at the end of the first grade school year I had her try everything on, inspected them for rips, etc. All well and good, everything fit. Cool! Uniforms were pressed and hung in the closet to await the start of second grade. I congratulate myself for escaping uniform shopping.

Less than three months later, about a week before school started, I have a horrible creeping feeling and had her try them on again...because, my GOD, she'd outgrown everything else she was wearing by leaps and bounds, mostly shoes.

Yikes, the uniform pants fit at the waist but are laughably SHORT. The jumper dresses are a total loss, immodestly short and nothing to let out. I remove her name tags and donate them to the school, as they are still in great condition (as is the way of ALL clothes that are outgrown, while your stuff that fits ends up wearing out before it's time). The culotts are OK, thank God. The shirts are a teeny bit short when she raises her arms. Child is instructed not to raise her arms for entirety of the school year. The long pants fit fine at the waist, but are way short--but huzzah--I'd taken them up in Kindergarten, so NOW I can let them out to their normal length. I do so, smugly. Ha HA, take THAT, hated uniform shopping!

Until I have her try them on. Mother Macree, they are STILL too short! The kid has simply miles of leg. Break out the steam iron and re-hem pants again, leaving only a tiny hem and torturing the pant cuffs mercilessly with the iron until the old cuff mostly disappears. Not great, but acceptable. She doesn't look like a dork, at least.

So I knew I was in for a major uniform expedition this year.

Shirts are purchased a wee bit big, as the ones in her perfect size across the shoulder are too short. Also I get dark blue except for one light blue shirt. Last years' long pants I am shortening to Bermuda short length, as they still fit fine in the waist. More long pants, again a bit big in the waist in order to be long enough in the leg. I do find some stretchy culotts that fit perfectly, and a few pairs of new uniform shorts. The dresses and skirts they offer this year are irredeemably, aggressively ugly, so I skip those in hopes of finding some that don't look so institutional elsewhere.

I find one pair of sneakers that fit...for now. I KNOW they won't by the time school starts, but she's run her current pair into the ground. The next size up is miles too big, so we'll have to wait until the end of August to go on a shoe hunt. I do manage to grab some bulk packs of socks & undies.

I feel like a chipmunk hoarding for winter, or a post-apocalyptic survivor grabbing anything I can. Criminy.

Except I still have to get her a new backpack...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rocket Girl, Away!

N. rode this cute little rocket ship roller coaster at the OC fair today:

She ran right to the front car, I think she already had this scenario in mind...

Quick, off to SparkleyShip One! LAUNCH!

Now, Rocket Girl, AWAY!!!

It's County Fair Time! And That Can Only Mean ONE Thing...

...vomitous, deep-fried fair food!

Every year over the last few years, the Orange Country Fair in Costa Mesa, CA has introduced some new, weird, deep-fried food.

It's a bare-faced, shameless celebration of FOOD THAT IS BAD FOR YOU. First they take some commonly known junk food such as Twinkies, Oreos, and Coke--and then just to twist the knife a little they deep fry that sucker. Top it off with oh, say, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar and you're good to go. And if they can ram that sucker on a stick, and even better!

The problem is, now every year they have to come up with some new exotic treat, eternally forced to one-up themselves. So we've done the deep fried Oreos...Snickers bars...Twinkies...cheesecake...heck, even Coke, last year. What could POSSIBLY BE LEFT?

Here ya go.

Yeah, baby,
A Chicken & Krispy Kreme Doughnut sandwich!!!

But wait, stop those dry heaves, because that's not all!

Naturally, simply a hunk of chicken on a glazed doughnut isn't vile enough. We need MORE. Add raspberry jelly AND honey!!! Perfection!

As you can see from Chicken Charlie's menu, sadly, health food is not their forte.

Hell, even the promised 'Fresh Veggie Combo' on the far right, initially seeming an oasis of sane food in a freakish sea of grease...has the words, 'Deep Fried!' under it, cruelly yanking away any chance of escaping your arteries hardening. Under that, they laughingly list the innocent vegetables being tortured: asparagus, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and zucchini (Ok, I can actually get behind torturing zucchini). It's scary that the broasted chicken is the healthiest thing on the menu.

At any rate, J. decided to try one. Here it is, in all it's nasty glory.

They missed the 'deep frying' step here, but still, a more unholy union of foods I cannot imagine.

Here he is, trying gamely to swallow the bite he took.

All in all, J.'s verdict was, 'it wasn't bad'. N. opted for the deep fried cheese balls, but we took one look at this one and tried to convince her they were really deep fried slugs. Antennae, ahoy!

I just watched in horrified fascination.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Life Is Outrunning Me

I hate it when that happens. Things are happening that I'm planning on, but before I'm ready for them.

My car needed work: brakes, transmission adjusted (annoyingly, it won't reliably go into 'park') and the ignition was refusing the key. Had to wait until N. was out of school and I could go without the car for a few days.

OK, so the thing spent three days lounging at the mechanics last week, because everyone else had the same idea. My mechanic is close to having a nervous breakdown, he's so busy. I need the car back so I can go and get new glasses, which I'm trying to schedule for next week.

Get the car back, and it's acting strange on the way home, although it's problems seem fixed. Later that day, I go out to the car...and my car radio is possessed--it scans through all the channels and won't stop, then it fades out and turns off. Restart the car, repeat weird radio problem. *sigh* Well, I knew that radio was on it's last legs, anyway. Start car to run errands...and it dies. Hmm. Go to restart it, and it's dead.

OK, now I'm getting annoyed. An electrical problem. I just GOT the thing back. I need it to be reliable and NOT strand me on some hot as Hell LA freeway in summer. I call the mechanic and he swears up and down that he didn't TOUCH the electrical system. I suspect he shorted something out. So J. gets out his volt meter and finds that the battery has a low charge, and it's dropping. The alternator (which is less than 6 months old) isn't charging the battery. We jump the car and get it back over to the mechanic. HE tests parts, and says both the alternator and voltage regulator are fried. So we take it back home and J. spends a couple of happy hours in the oppressive heat changing out the parts. Joy, it lives again. It still is acting funny though, so I think it has more surprises waiting in the wings.

So this morning I have a doctors' appointment, another tomorrow with a different doctor--I'm going to call the optometrist to make that appointment, but first I run out front to turn off the sprinkler. I get some water drops on my glasses so I grasp them to take them off so I can wipe them dry...

They fall in half in my hands.

*double sigh* I truck back into the house and dig up an old pair of glasses, which I'm wearing now and are a grand headache in the making. I call the optometrist...he only works on Wednesdays.

What's this Wednesday, kids? Fourth of July, yay!

He can't see me till NEXT week. Just once I'd like things to just HOLD OFF for a bit. I'm going to get them done, I swear! Gimme a break, for cri-yi!

Am I...Wha...?

Last night when my daughter came out to kiss me goodnight, she had a serious expression as she asked me, "Mom, are you still sarcastic?"

I looked over her shoulder at J., who looked every bit as puzzled as I was. Don't laugh, or you'll never get this particular tidbit explained, my brain warned me.

"Uh...what?" I finally said lamely...all originality, that's me.

She looked annoyed. "Are.you.still.SARCASTIC!" She said--slowly, loudly and exasperatedly, as to an idiot.

Puzzled look on husbands' face deepens.
A thought occurs to me: I've been ill. "Oh...do you mean 'contagious'?"

Enlightenment dawns on her face. "Yes!" she says.

No, I tell her, I'm OK now. At this she goes ahead and gives me a kiss goodnight, and J. and I wait until she's in bed to giggle amongst ourselves.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No, But Thanks For The Ego Boost, Anyway...

I drive a 1969 Plymouth Fury III convertible.

Not a muscle car, but a beach cruiser/professional gasoline swallower. The other day I was walking away from my car after I'd parked it at a local shopping strip mall, when some guy in an SUV stops next to me as he's passing.

"HEY! Want to sell your car?"

Now, I'm not exaggerating when I say I get this ALL THE TIME. People stop me to ask, shout it across streets and parking lots, pull up at red lights, knock on my front door, leave notes, etc. The longing look in their eyes is downright amusing and they practically drool. Even my mechanic wants it, and he told me that in his research of my car, it's estimated value is around $30,000. I already knew this, as I'd done my own research long ago...but it was nice to hear from an independent source!

So anyway, I politely decline the guys' offer, coupled with a smile and my standard response of, "Sorry, it's my baby." Most people recognize that there is no chance of a sale and accept it graciously enough.

Not this guy, he's determined.

He's also not pulling away, and I stand there somewhat awkwardly, waiting for him to pass by so I can continue into the store.

"Aw, come ON! Are you sure you don't want to sell it?" *cue longing look* "It's an awful nice car, I love those..." *wistful look* Oh dear, another Fury fan. I can sympathize, I know that illness. I again decline, with an understanding smile.

Undeterred, he desperately begins rummaging in his glove compartment. "No, wait! I'll...I'll TRADE YOU! I can give you TWO fully restored Corvairs! I did them myself, it's a hobby..." He waves a fistfull of photographs. At this point he's attracted the frowning attention of a police officer, who is getting into his cruiser parked nearby.

Oh God, the guy loves Furys AND is a rabid auto hobbiest. He's now holding forth the fanned-out photos and has a hungry, pleading look in his eye. This is getting a bit weird, and I'm not about to approach some strange guy's car close enough to inspect the photos. The cops' stare is getting harder by the moment.

I still say no, but nicely, and wish him goodbye and good luck on his Corvairs, then step back a pace or two...I'm going to go around the back of his car and into the store that way. The cop shuts the door to his cruiser and prepares to walk over to the guy, who now has two cars waiting behind him.

Finally, to everyone's relief, the guy accepts defeat and goes on about his business. But I have to say, that's the best offer I've had for my car yet!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

But...We Really NEED Your Help!

I knew it would happen.

Less than a week since the school told me I couldn't read for the Book Fair/Reading event, and the principal has hit me up TWICE to volunteer--once for the Book Fair (but not to read) and again this morning, trying to get myself and J. to serve on the PTA. I told her 'No' both times.

Last week she had gone up and down the line of parents waiting to pick up kids, armed with a clipboard, asking for volunteers for the book fair that night...and being, as always, rejected by parent after parent. She finally got to me and asked me if I could volunteer and I told her 'no'. Afterwards, two of the other moms laughingly called over, "Hey Velvet, I bet she got you to help out, huh?" I walked over to them and told them I hadn't, and why. I wanted to see what their reaction would be, to see if maybe I was overreacting to the whole thing. But they were amazed and digusted, and agreed that that was a rotten thing to do and if it happened to them, they would have the same reaction. Hmmm.

So this morning the principal cornered me in the office after I went in to pay for N.'s yearbook. She had her little clipboard out and a big grin, and said, "So, Velvet--can I count on you to help out and maybe serve on the PTA?" like she was offering me some kind of rare and special treat. I stared at her a moment and then burst out laughing (I couldn't help it) and shook my head 'no', which made her smile crumble in one big hurry. She said hastily, "But you can have your pick of projects! You tell me--what would you like to do?" OK, I thought. "Read tonight." I shot back.

"Oh no! That's just for staff!"

I just tossed my hands in the air, laughed and shook my head again and went for the door, but she stopped me. "It's a staff thing!"

"Well, then I should have been told that months ago when I asked if I could participate, NOT just a few days before the event when I had everything set up and was looking forward to it." I told her. She stammered the same thing again, so I just waved goodbye in disgust and left.

Up to now I thought that maybe the principal, who had previously welcomed, appreciated and been very happy about my offer to participate in the reading event, perhaps didn't know that I had been unceremoniously kicked to the curb, but it seems she did and is OK with it.

So much for volunteerism. I'm soured on it for good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We Desperately Need Your Help! But Not Really...

My daughter's elementary school saddens me.

During the year, they have various events such as field trips, science fairs, student art shows, etc. The school is forever clamoring and whining in their weekly newsletter for more parent help and participation. The school secretary and principal are very vocal in person about this as well, and VERY few people step forward--maybe 3-4 parents in the entire school.

Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom because of my various chronic injury problems, so I offer to help the school however and wherever I can. I've volunteered as a Kindergarten helper, gone on field trips, taken yearbook photos, done things around the school, all with no problems.

The school has an event every year at this time to promote reading, where they invite kids and parents to come out for an evening of books read aloud and a take away dinner (hot dogs, tacos, etc.) to eat picnic style on the grass. We loved it when we went when N. was in Kindergarten two years ago, and I volunteered to be a reader last year. Unfortunately I contracted pneumonia and was unable to do it, which really crushed me. I love reading with a passion, and J. and I have read to N. every day since she was born. As a result, she loves reading as well, and is well beyond her grade level in reading and comprehension. This year, the event is next Friday, and back at the beginning of this year I once again volunteered. Both the principal and the school secretary were appreciative and very eager for help, they said, "Sure! The more the merrier, fantastic!". So I got the green light months ago and I was all excited about it--books ready to go and no goddamn pneumonia this time. I had popped into the office a few times over the year to remind the secretary that I was still interested in it. I checked in again with her two weeks ago so I wouldn't forget the date. Book nerd that I am, I've literally been waiting all year for this.

The school secretary just called me to let me know I couldn't join in.

Apparantly, one of the teachers who is in charge, got upset and feels that it should be a 'teachers only' event. That was the only explanation given and I got the distinct impression that there was more going on under the surface, if you know what I mean. It's almost like she wanted to keep all her toys and not share. I think this particular teacher may have some control issues as well...

I feel like I've been dis-invited to a party. Why in God's name would you tell someone for months that your participation would be wonderful, and then with a week to go tell them not to come? Sad that the school constantly clamors for more money and parent participation, then at the last minute, spits in the eye of one of the few people who consistently volunteer.

Well...Hell, here are the books I was going to read:

Edward The Emu by Sheena Knowles
Edwina The Emu by Sheena Knowles
Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus! by Mo Willems
Cook A Doodle Do by Janet Stevens
The Story Of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Pinduli by Janell Canon
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Raoul The Owl by Louis Untermeyer

I had a little audience participation thing for the kids all planned and everything. I so would have loved to share these wonderful books.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Damn, She Was One Of My Favorites.

Rita in the back, Poof photobombing in on the left.

Rita was a feisty, headstrong little Cochin/Jersey Giant mix that we hatched ourselves back in 2003. She was one of my favorites and whenever I sat down out back, would come RUNNING over as fast as she could waddle (cochins aren't built for speed) to sit in my lap--and woe betide any other chicken that wanted equal lap time! Rita would warn them off right away. She would sit in my lap for as long as I would let her, and complained loudly when I set her down again. Often I'd have Rita on one knee, Babs on the other--Babs was a gift from my brother's household, and Babs thinks she is still a baby chick and insists on sitting on your lap with her head rammed in your armpit--under your wing, as it were.

Rita had a habit of at the last minute, sticking her head into pictures we tried to take of the other chickens. The end result was like bad vacation snapshots, photobomb city. So it's kind of fitting that in the photo above, Poof is doing it to her.

Rita died yesterday. I don't even know what killed her. Granted, it was nearly 100 degrees yesterday, our first really hot day this year. I had gone out like I always do on hot days to hose off the chickens and yard to keep things cooler for the animals. I had gone out at 8:30AM, 10:30AM and 12:30PM. Everything was fine. I even stopped to talk to her and pet her and all was well. At 2PM when I went again to hose things off, we found her in the coop, sitting in the corner as if to lay an egg and breathing a bit hard. Since she was distressed (we thought by the heat), we brought her in to cool off. She died less than 5 minutes later. She had been eating, drinking and carrying on normally up until then. I don't know what's worse--having an animal get ill and die slowly or go quickly like that.

Rita was one of those animals that 'picked out her human'--she chose ME as her favorite human first, not the other way around. Rita's mother, Elizabeth, is elderly but still with us, and Rita's daughter, Skitters, is twice as feisty and psycho as Rita ever was. Even Moet, our very elderly Frizzle Cochin who was Rita's foster mama, is still with us.

This is Rita as a baby, back in 2003.

Last night when I went out to sit with the chickens in the evening, Rita's mother, Liz, jumped up in my lap and sat with me a while.

She's never done that before. I appreciated it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spider Twinkie!

One of the best parts of having kids is getting to mess with them.

Every so often, after she has gone to bed for the night, we will take a few of N.'s toys out onto the living room floor and stage elaborate dinosaur tea parties, stuffed animals coloring with crayons in her coloring books, etc. So when she wakes up in the morning and stumbles out of her room, she finds them. She's still young enough to believe that it's the toys sneaking out to play while she sleeps, and has a lot of fun discovering them, talking to them and playing with them.

Tonight, as a reward for coming home from school today on 'green' (second grade color code for 'behaved herself for a change'), I set up this:

Spider Twinkie!
I can only imagine her reaction tomorrow morning to one of her plastic spiders sitting with his butt parked in her Easter bunny bucket, about to devour a hapless Twinkie.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Springtime Grade School Art!

N. brought home this classic bit of second grade artwork the other day, it's your basic tempera paint painting of little birdies with orange construction paper beaks. Can you tell she shares her home with real birds?

And a close up of the fun part, note the little guy with his eyes squinched shut, wings over his ears, desperately screaming, "Stop Peeping!!" while the other ditzy little twits chirp merrily on:

This is too good to store away in a box, I'm going to have to frame it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Indoor Egg Hunt, Again...

After suffering a setback which involved her darting out underneath the running feet of N. and getting stepped on, Maggie has bounced back. She is now back to the point of standing and hopping again, and seems to be settling in as Housechicken Supreme. She's got the routine down. We put her out in her little run during the day but she spends the night in the kitchen. Maggie has discovered (to our endless amusement) that owing to the slickness of the linoleum floor, she can get around quicker and easier if she flaps her wings madly and does her little hippity-hop run simultaneously, thus zooming about the kitchen. It looks like chicken ice skating. Maggie has adjusted well, and has learned that there is a lesser chance of N. stepping on her if she sensibly stays put on her towel in the evenings.

But the other day it was raining, and since she is still sitting most of the time, Maggie had to stay inside.

Cue loud, unhappy chicken howls. Lots of them. From a BIG hen.

I did open the sliding glass door a bit so she could at least socialize with the other chickens who were huddled on the back porch. THEY howled because it was cold and wet outside, and Maggie was dry and warm INSIDE. I mostly yelled back for EVERYONE to shut up, already.

After a bit I went out to the living room to fold laundry, and listened to Maggie whine and move about restlessly. I knew what THAT meant, but didn't really have anything for her to lay her egg in or on--besides, no matter how nice of a nest you make for a chicken trapped indoors, they will inevitably choose their OWN nesting spot.

She did, finally...here she is giving me a dirty look:

Under my desk. She did manage to pull over a file folder and scatter it's contents, but that was easily picked up later on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


And it's time to harvest the fruit from our dwarf Blood Orange tree! Direct Chicken Supervision was of course provided at all times.

I'm always amazed at the amount of fruit that little 12 foot tree can hold! And just in time, too. The thing is blooming and new fruit is forming...see the little tiny green ball in the middle?

Now I have to figure out what the heck to DO with all that fruit within the next few days...

Meanwhile, a few pictures of the first day of Spring:

The blossoms on the white nectarine tree, due for harvest around July-August:

...and the volunteer nasturtiums that reseed themselves and come up in the front yard every year.

All the orange trees around here are blooming, and the air smells great for a change.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fun With Found Objects!

The other day we were visiting Disneyland and found a little girls' Disney autograph book near the telephones. I think she'd lost it early on in her visit that day as it only had a couple of character autographs in it.  We waited for a few minutes but no one returned for it, so seeing that she had been smart enough to write her name and address (in Las Vegas, Nevada) in the book, we thought we'd drop it in the mail to her.

But first--!
We took it around The Park with us, posing it with some Disney characters and taking pictures as they signed it--Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale and Goofy.
The letter we sent along with it...

The Magic Towel is a supercompressed washcloth that unfolds when you get it wet.  Today I mailed the book, pictures and all the stuff to her, hopefully she'll get a grin out of it!

The stuff...

How wonderful is it when you get back something you thought was lost forever?  Yay for mystery packages!