Snapshot 10.29.14

29 Oct

— Last Tuesday I dropped Anthony off at the Amtrak station one village over. Almost four hours later he was in Bakersfield and getting ready for several days of classes and a certification test. Aside from one disastrous dinner train adventure taken with our friends the Waltons over ten years ago, we’d never ridden on a train before. I told Anthony that I hoped very much it was like the Hogwarts Express and that he could eat pumpkin pasties off a cart, look for someone’s escaped toad, and dodge some Dementors with the help of a werewolf. It was actually quite and uneventful trip and nothing like the crazy train I envisioned. His boss joined him a few days later and also attended classes, and on Friday they made the drive home together. They didn’t come home, however, but went straight back to the office, where he worked until late that night, and also all this weekend. We missed him a lot but he learned so much and it was a great opportunity. I’m not going to lie and say it didn’t suck, because it sucked royal balls, but the reason it was so awful is that I had caught what felt like the 20th cold of the season. But we made it, and what doesn’t kill me gives me antibodies.

–The week before all this was my birthday, and it was actually a great day. I was in a grumpy mood, and instead of trying to change it, I indulged it. When Anthony got home we went to one of my favorite thrift stores a few towns over (it’s a Hope Chest, if you are familiar with that chain) and out to my favorite Chinese place in Modesto. While we were ordering food the waitress took note of Isobel’s confident tone and turned to me and said, “Wow, she’s the boss!” You have no idea, lady! It was so nice to relax together as a family, and Elias is still really calm in restaurants. While thrifting I found some amazing melmac platters and three gorgeous beaded necklaces that I can’t stop wearing. My party was nice and laid back, which since I was feeling poorly, was all I could handle. Stef also needed a laid back party, so we only planned on delicious food, something to nice drink, and comfy seats for bullshitting. My friend Christi embroidered this #OMFN tea towel and gave us items of thrift store gore. We taught her well! Isobel kept asking me over and over what I wanted from her and I told her I wanted art, so she drew an amazing picture of her, myself, and Baby Elias. My birthday gift to myself, since we weren’t in the position to cross anything off my life list, was to spend every gift card I have since I am fantastic at hoarding them and not-so-great at spending them. I’m still working on it.

–Isobel did settle on a Halloween costume, and although I initially thought it impossible, but we are going to give it a try! Isobel asked me what I am going to be for Halloween, and I told her “tired.” That wasn’t okay with her, so I’ll probably go as Tired, With Wings.

–While Anthony was away on his work adventure I took the kids to a Halloween carnival at her school. We wanted to find her cousins but they never arrived. Happily, we ran into our friends Brandon and Noel’s daughter Spencer. They had a great time playing the games, taking photos, and making the crafts. Spencer was totally on Isobel’s wavelength because they both wanted to make crafts together all night. It was a lot of fun but by the end of the night we were exhausted and we passed out in front of the TV watching an Avengers cartoon.

–When librarian friends @lieberian and @shinyinfo were so enraged Isobel didn’t receive any candy from school for dressing up for nerd day (her costume was deemed “not nerdy enough” to deserve candy), that they sent us care package of crazy socks, LEGO-shaped candy, and Nerds candy. It totally made our day! Thanks, ladies!! You internet people are all right.

— When we visited our friends Dave and Stef recently, Isobel left me and baby Elias to chat it up with Stef while she hung out in Dave’s Workshop. He was tinkering with something when he popped his head into the living room and asked if he could make Isobel a wooden sword. He somehow threw it together in one afternoon of visiting and painted the whole thing and attached a pink D20 to the end of the pommel. It is fantastic and she loves it.

–I finally had my chance to help out in Isobel’s classroom and was lucky enough to be assigned the cooking station where I helped the kids make “bone sandwiches” using a cookie cutter. Part of my job involved asking the kids all sorts of questions involving things they’ve learned about bones. At one point I asked the kids to tell me what was attached to our skeleton that helped us move around. The kids all shouted out “muscles!” and afterwards one kid said to me, “Yes, and my friend has muscles, too.”

Follow Friday: Backyard Beekeeping. These tweets are on fire.

Snapshot 10.22.14. What to do when the plane goes down.

Little Big Collection: Vintage Egg Cups. Have I mentioned how much I love egg cups?

Follow Friday: Hello, Fellow Youths. I am an old.

Fashion Styles for Ghosts.

DIY Weeping Angel Tutorial. I love that Victoria used thrift store angels! Perfect.

Didn’t see this one coming, Steven Moffat.

Support the Discworld Project at LEGO! One of the best things about being a librarian is that I had access to a large collection of Terry Pratchett. Via @byshieldmaiden

Tonight I carved a pumpkin. Squeee!

Photo-realistic pancake apes! This is incredible. Via Stef

Excellent costume.

This dog is dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

This bicycle has a baguette in its drink holder. Genius.

DIY Wolverine Adamantium Skeleton. A super fun Halloween decoration.

Least popular American baby names according to early records. Some of these are hilarious, but I’d love to bring a few of them back. Dove is an excellent name! I’m betting it’s a few more months until the uber-hip start naming their kid Spurgeon.

This is what happens when you take a picture of a kitten going through a dollhouse. via @CatchTheBaby

Are You A Dog Person Or An Ant Person? Clickhole Quiz Time! Via @apelad

Swedish police officers help boy with homework after call. Why must Sweden be so cold and faraway? It sounds fantastic.

Good news for @RiffTrax fans: Two more primetime specials coming to @NatGeoChannel in December!Via @thecomicscomic

8 DIY Couple’s Costume Ideas. All of these are my favorite.

DIY Baby Costume Inspiration. Isobel is the cutest piece of sushi of all time.

DIY Pink Pirate Princess Costume. Pink! Pirate! Princess! This costume had a lot of pieces.

DIY Kiki’s Delivery Service Costume. My favorite ever.

DIY Toddler Bumble Bee Costume. BEE!


My Unruly Garden: Summer

27 Oct

My garden is always unruly, but this year it went above and beyond in living up to its name. Family friend and environmental scientist Jacob installed a drip irrigation system into our garden for my birthday which helped tremendously for our plants but also helped foster a thriving weed community. Which wouldn’t have been so bad had I been able to pull them in a tidy manner. Unfortunately I had a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic that resulted in hives that lasted well over a month and going outside in the heat was verboten for my condition, so the weeds grew and grew. The weather was also the strangest I’d ever experienced, and winter was so warm my strawberries never stopped producing fruit and my poppies never stopped blooming. When summer hit, full-force with heat and incredibly dry conditions, the poppies burnt out early and the strawberries looked stunted. This was dispiriting until I noticed the neighbor’s dog, Coco, chowing down on my entire strawberry plant. At least their demise wasn’t my fault.

Watering became tough and nearly impossible while I stayed indoors, hive-covered, and took care of the kids. Anthony was consumed with work, and watering became a near-impossible task. It wouldn’t have gotten done at all if it weren’t for Jake’s irrigation system. It saved the garden, as much as it could be saved. The peppers (YOLO!) only produced a handful to harvest, and the tomato plants were mostly decorative. I think this might be the last year I try full-sized tomatoes in the backyard. I’ve tried them in several spots and have never had great luck. I did get a pretty impressive crop from a tomato plant that we stuck in our front flowerbed, as it’s shadier and cooler there, but I’m not sure if I can convince Anthony to put vegetables in the front yard again. Cherry tomatoes of all types seem to thrive in the backyard, so I might just stick with them considering water is too precious a resource to waste on plants that won’t produce.


We were treated to pumpkins of several types this year, thanks to Isobel raiding my seed stash and dumping them all in one corner of the garden while the adults were otherwise occupied. The plan was to grow only one plant this year, but she had other ideas. It worked out as we got so much out of them in terms of both fruit and variety. It was really a lot of fun to search through the plants for the pumpkins (they like to hide under the broad, prickly leaves) and we still have a few more on the vines right now.  The most famous of our pumpkin crop is Pumpkiny, the pumpkin Isobel adopted as her BFF and took with her everywhere, including to school. One day Isobel accidentally left Pumpkiny in the garage for a day or two and it dessicated in the hot, dry oven that is a Valley garage in the summer. No matter, Isobel still carried him with her everywhere, even as the wrinkles increased. He first was like a pumpkin prune, but as time went on more moister left him and he became hard and cracked. I don’t know where Pumpkiny is right now. It’s been a week or two since we’ve seen him. I think there’s a fair chance he lost so much water and shrunk to the point where he winked out of existence.


We still visited the pumpkin patch even though we grew our own pumpkins this year. It is a fun yearly tradition that I would hate to miss out on and besides, Isobel is so attached to the pumpkins we grow in our garden that we are not allowed to eat, carve, or in any other way decorate them. It was not that long ago that we spent all month long painting our pumpkins from our garden but that is no longer acceptable. They are members of our family that she treats as such.

None of the marigolds I grew from seed made it past the sprout stage, but we still had plenty of of poppies until the summer heat exhausted them. The sunflowers thrived and Isobel took care of a section of the sunflower patch herself. She loves the whole process–planting, watering, watching it grow, finding the new blooms, and perhaps best of all, harvesting the dry heads and fishing out the seeds. I think she enjoys that more than our yearly ladybug introduction tradition, which is saying a lot.

Elias loves being outside and giggles whenever the breeze ruffles his hair. He can sit outside on a blanket or a bouncy seat and be content for a long time. Especially if Sister or the cats are being entertaining within view. He is fascinated by grass and leaves and the experience of being outside.

I think the biggest change to the garden for next year will be timing. Climate change is causing us to adjust our gardening schedule radically. Late summer has become the fallow months and we’re going to start our garden in February or even January when temperatures (if they are like they were at all last year) are mild. Many crops that didn’t stand a chance this year will have a better shot at it if we start earlier. The basil started off strong but had a hard time sustaining itself in the heat, as did the marigolds, and poppies. The peas never even reached the flowering stage.


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