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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Smart Boy

Normally, Major Stede has a sixth sense about dropped food. A tiny crumb of soft bread could fall on the plushest carpet eight miles away, and he would hear it and come running to scarf it up.

If I even TOUCH a plate of leftovers or a pan that has little scraps of food from last night's supper in it, he's right there to make sure he gets first chance to eat it. The saddest thing in his world is when I walk past him to scrape a pan into the garbage.

But apparently he's learned one very important truth.

When Mom is eating Milk Duds and one falls on the floor, don't even THINK about going after it, because she will kill you!

He stayed very still in that position you see in the picture while I tracked down the rogue piece of chocolatey caramel goodness.

Don't mess with Mom's Milk Duds.

*And yes, Mom follows the 5 second rule. Except in the kitchen. I don't mop often enough to trust that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Year

Once upon a time, my mom was a young college student who fell in love with a funny and sweet man.

Life being the way it is, things happened that separated them, and they went different directions in life.

More than 30 years later, my mom received an email** that would change her life. This sweet man from all those years ago had gone looking for her and had found her through their college alumni association. They emailed back and forth for years, visited from time to time, and just generally became best friends.

**Edited to add a correction from my mom. That first contact was a phone call, not an email. She didn't sign up for an email account until after that first phone call - so they could email each other after that.

As time passed, they realized that the love they used to have for each other was still there and was growing day by day.

Then, in 2000, 38* years after they first fell in love, they decided to get married, despite the fact that his work kept him in Washington (state) and hers kept her in Montana.

*I think that's the right number. You may need to correct me on that part, Mom.

They spent the majority of the first two years of their marriage living apart. One of them would travel to be with the other during Christmas and summers, and any other time they could. They racked up a LOT of frequent flyer miles in those days!

Eventually, Mom retired and moved to Washington, and they were able to really start their life together.

As time went along, he gradually changed from "My Step-Dad" or "My Mother's Husband" to being "My Dad".

After a few years, they bought a house together, and were inspired to buy one that was all on one level in case something were to happen to one of them.

In the fall of 2005, that Something did happen. Dad's heart basically decided it didn't want to be in one piece anymore. It was touch-and-go for a long time whether or not he would even be able to live through it. The survival statistics of his heart issue and follow-up surgery were scary. He lived, but, in the time it took to rush him to the hospital and get into surgery to repair the damage, he lost enough blood flow to the lower half of his body that he would never be able to walk again.

Doors were widened and ramps were added in their otherwise, wheelchair friendly home, and Dad was able to go home. Dad stayed cheerful and optimistic as he learned how to do the things he loved even though he didn't have use of his legs. He eventually even found a place where he could continue his beloved salmon fishing while remaining in his wheelchair!

So much in my parents' lives were a challenge, but they got through it together with love and humor and a very touching close friendship. My mother, the retired teacher, started her new "career" as a home nurse, taking care of Dad's needs. Mom became a master in wound treatment as they dealt with the things that would come up from Dad's physical challenges, and was even able to teach a few nurses a thing or two about how it was done!

After a while, the continuous strain on Dad's heart got to be too much for his body. The lack of blood flow through his body affected his lungs and his brain. Oxygen tanks provided some relief for his troubles for a while, but eventually, he just couldn't take anymore.

One year ago today, February 26, 2011, Dad went Home to his Father in Heaven.

My parents didn't have an easy married life. In the 10 1/2 years they had together, over half of it was spent dealing with his health issues. But those more than 5 years were a gift. Statistically, Dad should have died in 2005. Instead, they were able to spend those last few years together, strengthening each other with their love and respect.

I feel privileged to have known him and greatly blessed to know that he loved me as if I were his own flesh and blood.

I love you, Dad. And I miss you so very much. You truly were our family's patriarch and leader. You loved us, took care of us, gave wonderful advice when needed and provided humor through all of it. Thank you for loving my mother.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Of course...

In the process of cleaning the dining room, I came across a pile of old catalogs that were on Surfer Pirate's desk.

One of them was a seed catalog I got last spring.

I started flipping through it, dreaming about the garden I'm going to plant this year.

I could almost see all those little seedlings sprouting out of the gorgeous dark soil we have here.

I could almost taste the vegetables I'm going to grow and smell the flowers that I'll plant.

I went online to order a new catalog from the same company, and searched for several other catalogs to order.

Perennials, roses, all different kinds of vegetables - even unique and rare ones.

I was SO excited for the coming of spring and the chance to get started planting.

And then I found out we're supposed to get a really nasty blizzard this weekend.


All the pictures on this post came from Gurneys Seed & Nursery Company.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Progress... or, A Tour of My House

I thought I would take some pictures to show what I've been up to the last few days. I'll start with my big project for the day - our mudroom. Of course, being a mudroom, it will never be spotless, but we won't even discuss how bad it had gotten. I spent a bunch of time in there today cleaning and straightening. The room isn't heated with the rest of the house because it was an addition, so that's where the space heater comes in. The other things you see in the room are my old bench (with boots on it that will go under it once I've had a chance to vacuum in there tomorrow), the clothing rack where we hang Surfer Pirate's uniforms and jackets, his hamper for dirty uniforms, some boxes (mostly hidden behind the other stuff) containing paperwork that I don't dare let get lost in my basement, a bag of dog food, Pirate Munchkin's snow boots and Surfer Pirate's work boots. I'm not sure why our pickup outside is reflecting lights that make it look like it has eyes.

Next up, the dining room.
The piano and the table are the biggest improvements. They were both piled with papers and random stuff. I'm the 4th generation owner of that piano. It's a player piano, but the player part doesn't currently work. The blanket chest to the left of the piano was my sister's. It contains... what else? Blankets. On it is Pirate Baby's car seat (yes, at 14 months old, he's still little enough to fit in an infant seat), his coat, the box of hats and gloves for Pirate Munchkin, and my diaper bag. To the right of the piano is my quilt rack with two quilts my sister made on it. The one on the left will be going on the guest bed. The one on the right is going to eventually hang in my stairwell where it can be displayed and will help cut down on the echo in there. Next to that is the rocking chair my mother used to rock me in when I was a baby. (Between them is a photo sorting project I'm working on.) To the right of that, but not in the picture is my long table where my Dragon has his big bay window view. (I need to take a picture of that one of these days so you can see how spoiled he is.) On the table is a puzzle Pirate Munchkin is working on and Surfer Pirate's western hat that I need to clean. On the chairs are my coat, Pirate Munchkin's coat and snowpants and my in-process filing project.

To the right of the last picture, OH LOOK! Another project! (Some sewing things I'm working on.) The cabinet in front of the window used to belong to my grandparents. It was a stereo cabinet, but my grandfather modified it. Grandma used to keep magazines in it. Next to that is the DVD rack that I designed and built. (Yes, we love movies at our house.) On top of that is a tea cup and tea pot that were my sister's and a porcelain doll that my dad bought me this year for Christmas (don't ask).

On the other side of the room is Surfer Pirate's desk. It's a one of a kind piece that came with our house, and I love it. On top of the desk (left to right) is the tank where our tarantula lives, the computer tower (obviously) and my old printer/copier/scanner/fax machine that I might manage to get hooked up one of these days (needed for the photo project), and the VW bus that I gave Surfer Pirate as a wedding gift.

I also have to show off a little of Surfer Pirate's collection. Obviously, he's a Packers fan. (The Unicorn will please keep her opinion to herself on this subject.)

My foyer is next.
(Darn puppies are camera hogs.) In the background there is a hand-painted piece made by one of my mom's friends. It has gorgeous tiny flowers painted in each of the letters. Please admire the pretty woodwork on my stairs and my beautiful bench. (Cielo means Heaven in Spanish.)

My living room.
(Hey look! Dogs again!) Our couch, complete with my sister's "Nap Quilt", comfy recliner, one of my pretty stained glass windows, a tub full of clothes that Pirate Baby has outgrown (one of these days, I'll get that back to my surrogate sister who was kind enough to let me borrow them - although I've recently discovered it makes a great footstool, so maybe later rather than sooner), and my antique stereo cabinet (actually works!) with the tv on it.

This is the center of my world. My Ikea chair (aka: My Throne) with my football pillow (and hey! More project stuff!), my laptop desk, sewing basket and Pirate Baby's rocking ship, all in front of my gorgeous fireplace, complete with lots of gargoyles. This is where the magic happens - where I come up with brilliant blog posts, search for Stupid Criminal stories, and spend way too much time on Facebook and Pinterest.

Since I've spent so much of the last few days deep cleaning the dining room and mudroom, my kitchen has gotten a little more neglected. I'll get pictures of it after I get it cleaned up. I also need to show you pictures of the upstairs. There are a couple of... um... interesting features on the house that can be best seen from up there. But right now, everyone else is sleeping. I don't think they'd appreciate it if I woke them up to turn on lights and take pictures.

One of these days, I'll get caught up on all my projects so they quit taking up little corners of my house. But for now, this is basically the standard of what my house looks like from day to day now that I'm back in my regular cleaning system.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm the Queen...

The Queen of AWESOME, that is!!

I had a super productive day, and I kind of amazed myself. This morning, my mommy group met, so I didn't even get started until the afternoon. Add to that the fact that Surfer Pirate came home from work this morning with the flu. Usually, when he's home, I get nothing done.

We'd had a really long weekend, and I had slacked off most of the time. My house had gotten scary, and I just needed to push my sleeves up and tackle it. So I turned on some good music and went to work.

First, the living room. It wasn't too bad. Mostly just some clutter and a few dirty dishes. I straightened up the room, making it all sparkly and pretty.

Second, I tackled the dining room. This was an intimidating challenge. That room has been my dumping ground over the last week, and my dining room table was literally buried under papers and random things. I put all the papers that need to be sorted into a box to go through on another day, and put away everything else. I've had a few trouble issues that I fixed today. The main one being Pirate Munchkin's winter gloves and hats. She has several different ones, and she likes to trade them out. But they end up being left on the table or the chairs, cluttering up a room I already struggle with. I put out a box for them so they have a designated spot (not on the table). Then, the really big improvement. I cleaned off my piano! I have not touched the piano in over a year, and it had gotten scary! The room looks MUCH better now.

And then the kitchen. I did some rearranging in order to make space for my wheat grinder and big bucket of wheat that my mom got for me. (Thanks Mom!!) The counter where I keep those looks much better now. Then I got to work cleaning dishes. I didn't finish them yet, but it won't take too long tomorrow to get them done. I also made my family a yummy supper.

I also got all of Surfer Pirate's work uniforms put together for him to take to work to be cleaned, as well as some other things he needs to take to work.

Last summer, I had put together a chore list for myself. I designated certain days that I did certain things around the house. I did really well with it for a few weeks, but I was over-doing it a little. Having a constant list of things I had to do triggered postpartum depression. I gave myself some slack and my moods calmed back down eventually. But I think I'm ready. I'm no longer nursing Pirate Baby, I'm not pregnant, I'm trying to get my energy level back up so I can start taking some weight off. This is a good time to get back into a routine of household items.

So tomorrow, I'll get my list going again. One of my regular jobs has become Pirate Munchkin's job now. In place of doing that 3x a week, I can substitute going through the boxes in my storage room. It will be nice to start getting some organization going in my basement - tackling all the STUFF I have hiding down there.

I'm excited!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stupid Criminal Sunday, February 19th Edition

Okay, so I know it's Sunday and not Saturday, but I saw this today and couldn't pass it up.

There are certain cars that many people find absolutely beautiful and desirable that I think are hideous and annoying. Lamborghinis and Porches are at the top of that list. I remember driving in traffic one day in my 1981 Chevy Blazer TANK and being stuck behind a Porche. Traffic was annoying me, as was the driver, and I thought to myself "I could just drive right over the top of that guy."

Add to that, I also can't stand people who think the rules don't apply to them - especially if that sense of entitlement comes from them having money.

So when I saw this particular article today, I gave out an involuntary maniacal laugh.

Porsche stuck in wet cement: Proof karma exists?

On Thursday, the driver of a Porsche 911 decided he'd take a shortcut around some construction cones and drove straight into wet concrete near Marina Green on Marina Blvd. in San Francisco.

"It was coned off," according to Bobswire, a user of the Paceline bike forums. "He was just trying to sneak in from a side street. [The] concrete looked solid." Bobswire reports that the hapless driver remained stuck in his car. "He didn't want to open the door and have concrete get in; the whole undercarriage and brakes will need to [be] cleaned or replaced."Whether the uncured pavement was concrete, asphaltic concrete, or just plain cement is up for debate. What's unquestionable, however, is that this is the best Lightning McQueen impression we've seen since Cars.

This makes me happier than I can even express. Nothing like destroying at $100,000 (at least) car just to get a shortcut through traffic. Dumbass.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Spiky Little Baby

When Surfer Pirate and I were first married, we let our love of animals get a little (okay, a LOT) out of control. At one point, we had 3 big dogs, 3 cats, a snake, several mice (we were breeding them for snake food, but our breeding pair got to just be pets), a tarantula, and this adorable little guy.

He's a Bearded Dragon. And he's my baby.

First of all, just the idea of owning a DRAGON is a cool enough thing. But how can you look at one of these little guys as a baby and NOT fall in love with them??

First, a collection of photos of him so you can see just how sweet my little baby is.

Aww! Sweepy widdle baby!

Hungry boy.
(As time passed, I learned that wood chips for bedding and lettuce for eating are not good things for bearded dragons.)

Daredevil Dragon

First Bath - Mmmmm... water...

Big Scary Dragon!
He loves to go outside and be in the sunshine. He will sometimes try to run, so he has to have a leash if he's going to be outside. Just like a little kid, when he wants to be outside playing, the last thing he wants to hear is "Time to go inside." This is him trying to be big and scary so I won't want to pick him up and take him in the house.

Most bearded dragons will brumate in the winter. I had read enough after I got him so I've been prepared for it to happen. Babies don't usually have a brumation period, but as they mature, wintertime means dragons hiding and sleeping - especially when they have regular access to a window so they can see what the weather is like outside.

My boy is very spoiled with his own spot in our big bay window.

Last winter, he slept for a week or two at a time off and on. But I suspected that this year he would probably do a full brumation. Yep. Sure enough, around November, he started sleeping and hiding. It took him a few weeks to get fully settled, but then he settled in under his little fake plant and went to sleep. Loud noises would cause him to open his eyes for a minute, but mostly when I checked on him, he was sound asleep.

This morning, I had a wonderful surprise! He was awake, standing on his basking rock (a flat rock in his tank where he can soak up the rays) spread out and soaking up the sun!

Our little grocery store doesn't carry much in the way of specialty produce. Mustard greens are one of the best kinds of greens for beardies to eat on a daily basis, but I can't buy them for him here. So I've been growing some in a big pot on my windowsill. The plant has gotten big and beautiful while he was sleeping. He also really likes apples. So I made him up a bowl of mustard greens, Braeburn apples, "Dragon Chow" (my dad's term for the food pellets made especially for beardies) and a little dusting of calcium for his bones.

He's now just happily hanging out in his tank, enjoying the sunshine. I need to clean his tank tomorrow. It's full of dust and kitty hair (Brave Bonny thinks his tank looks like the best place for a nap).

I'm just so happy my baby is awake again! I've missed him!

Hi Mom!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stupid Criminal Saturday, February 4th Edition

Man Allegedly Knifes Brother Over Fast-Food Brownie: Erik Cain Arrested

Article and picture found here.

I'm lovin' it! And I'm not sharin' it.

A Pennsylvania man was arrested on Wednesday night after he allegedly stabbed his brother several times over a McDonald's brownie, The Times-Tribune reported.

Cops said that Erik "Eggs" Cain and his brother Gene Cain got into an argument when Gene cut the treat in half. The share tactic was apparently enough to enrage Erik, because he picked up three steak knives and allegedly slashed and stabbed Gene in the left forearm, left shoulder and right wrist.

"[Gene] thought his brother was going to kill him," so he responded by throwing a television at Erik, police Sgt. Joseph Laguzzi wrote in a report obtained by the newspaper.

Erik fled, but was later collared and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, harassment and disorderly conduct.

But it wasn't Erik's first run-in with cops. At the time of the alleged stabbing incident, Erik had been out on bail after being charged with slashing his girlfriend last month, The Associated Press reported.

So obviously this guy has anger issues. He's on bail for "slashing his girlfriend" only a month ago, and now he's flipped out on his brother.

But I think the biggest question I have about this article is MCDONALDS HAS BROWNIES??? Why hasn't anyone told me this before???

Mmmmmm... brownies....