Thursday, March 22, 2012

try, try again

Remember Bird Brain?  He smashed his little head into our windows hour after hour for weeks.

And then there was the mama bird who built a peaceful nest here one year:

And built a nice safe one here another year:

This year she wanted something cozy.  Fortunately I was able to boot her out before she laid any eggs. I'd have become a wuss and left her to stay in the garage if she'd already filled it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

on a scale of 1-5

I have an annual evaluation at work.  Ok, I know lots of people do these and the world doesn't end.  But how do I know that the world won't end?  Can you tell me that?

Pook says he has to evaluate himself after big projects. He gives himself "like two 5's and two 4's" and Bug has to evaluate his progress in gym class with thumbs up, down or sideways. He didn't say, but I'll assume he grades himself a bit like Mary Poppins.

I have a bad memory of some teacher who had me evaluate myself, and upon looking at my low-ish evaluation and his/her? much better scores, gave me an "ok, if you think so" and applied my own grade to me.

Like Pook, I think you give yourself a few lower grades, acting humble, on things you really could work to improve, then go for it and give yourself "exceeds expectations" like Bug for the rest.

On a different rating scale, look at this!  Wouldn't it be nice if we could be proud of this record breaking scorecard. As it is, people are full of mixed feelings. We're enjoying the 80 degree temps, pulling out the shorts and sandals, a bit worried about the potential for having lots of bugs this summer (who weren't killed by any cold weather this "winter"), nervous that we'll still be having 80 degree (or higher) temps in September and, of course, sneezing and wheezing and feeling miserable.

*Anything over 200 is considered "extremely high."

Monday, March 19, 2012

springing so soon

Everything in my gardens is blooming about a month early this year. I hope there is still a lovely show when Sister MD comes to visit from chilly Pittsburgh in April.

 Trees are budding, including the baby dogwood I spent $10 to get at a garden sale. I may have gotten my  money's worth!  A gentle winter was a good way to introduce it to this new home.

Japanese maples which had no leaves last week are showing wrinkled butterfly wing leaves now.

This morning I could smell the pollen, then I used my windshield wipers to confirm it later in the day.

Some things are still on schedule, like this Lenten Rose which has turned from bold pink to a freckled green. It has seed pods too, so perhaps I will have more to transplant. January bloomers are always welcome when spring does not plan to arrive right after fall.

These hydrangeas need to get big enough to be seen over the azaleas. The poor things seem healthy but are not winning in the size contest. Of course the azaleas have been here for years and years.

The bag of grape hyacinth which I thought contained ten bulbs had 100, so I set them out all over. I hope they will colonize and show me seas of blue in a few years. Of course, setting them into the herbs means that the herbs may need to fight for space. I like them interspersed with the parsley though.

The Lady Banks Rose on our gate has been a perfect time keeper for ten years. We leave town on spring break and it blooms. Not this year. We were planning to stay home this year.

I've never seen such a showing from the flowering Quince. In fact I don't think I knew that I had three of them! I've made myself a new screensaver. That color is so wonderful. Unfortunately the forsythia isn't putting on much of a show at all. I'd hoped they'd play off each other.

The native azaleas are also preparing for their spring show. One bud had one petal to display today. In a few days it will be all in bloom.
The evergreen azaleas are just starting their bloom. Scattered everywhere are daffodils, not bothered by last year's crushing by the tree cutters.

 And wildflowers have spread. I took seeds from everything last year and sprinkled them around, even pulling aside mulch to be sure they could get a footing. It looks like many did well. Another week or so should tell. The shade of my "woodlands" is so much less that everything is much happier, even shade loving plants.

Friday, March 16, 2012

to sleep, perchance to change time zones again

I know I said I was in Central Time Zone last weekend, but I think I was in some odd warp with a new zone an hour EAST of Georgia. Or maybe my in-laws have moved to Venezuela.  I have woken up every morning this week at precisely 5:45.

Last night I woke at 2 or some middle-of-the-night hour and had the wisdom to use the bathroom. The hope was that my bladder wouldn't wake me at 5:45 again.  No go. Perhaps it gave me one minute, since I lied: it wasn't 5:45 today, it was 5:46 this morning.

Five mornings in a row. How is this even possible? My bedtimes aren't that precise. I was asleep on the sofa by 10 pm one night and I know I was up till 11:30 another night. An hour and a half spread going to sleep and a one minute spread awaking?

To put this in better perspective, the alarm (on CD's side of the bed) goes off at 6:05. I believe he usually slaps it quiet. I'm seldom aware of anything until the next chance to wake up at 6:15. Even then, he climbs out of bed and I barely notice. The alarm that normally gets into my brain is the start of his shower about five minutes later. That's the one that includes the responsibility of making sure that little boys are getting up also.

The 5:45 self awaking means that I have only twenty minutes to fall back asleep before being woken again. Obviously it isn't happening. But tomorrow, my sleep-in-Saturday with no baseball until (wow!) 10:30, I will tell that 5:45 clock what I think of it and roll back over. I hope.

Monday, March 12, 2012


To properly celebrate Extra Daylight When You Don't Need It Time, we drove to the Central Time Zone for the weekend.  Nothing like coming home in bad traffic to an extra hour of change.

And a freezer door left ajar in the big garage freezer. 

I have spent my day cooking two dozen bratwurst, two pounds of breakfast sausage links, two pounds of Happy Pig* sausage, a pack of chicken sausage, a huge bag of shrimp (CD and my parents had shrimp cocktail with me for lunch today) three pounds of chicken (my dear mom is cooking it at her house) and a pork shoulder roast (in the crock pot with BBQ sauce).  I figure it can all be put back in the freezer after it gets cooked. 

Tonight's dinner: breaded tilapia filets. Tomorrow my parents will come back over for a scallop feast. Then there is a pork loin, a Happy Cow sirloin and Happy Cow stew meat to deal with still.

I gave my parents a bag of Mahi Mahi steaks and the chicken. Unfortunately I had just stocked up on seafood and pork. Luckily the remainder of the Happy Cow felt pretty firm.

The frozen, precooked items are just going to suffer. They were icy, if not frozen. Will I notice if a Lean Cuisine isn't at its best? Meatballs? Veggies and fruit will clump into inseparable masses. Bread products will cope. There was no ice cream. (That has never been a positive before!)

Anyone hungry?  Dinner's at six. 

*Happy Pig and Happy Cow meats are the label the kids have given to meat from our local farmer, Greg.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


It just isn't coming. For a long time I have thought we were going to have a late winter. Now I realize we are having an early spring. And we are not having winter this year.

In general, I'm ok with this. I wish I'd been consulted, but Mother Nature seldom does that, so I have learned (mostly) to relinquish control.  I do worry about the bugs this year since I don't think it got cold enough long enough to kill off all the mosquito population.  I still worry that we'll have a late freeze while everything is in bloom and I won't be able to find enough bed sheets to cover it all. Because really, my whole yard is in bloom. It is full out spring here.

Crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils...I bought a pack of ten grape hyacinth bulbs to put all together in one little spot. I got home and found out there were 100 in the bag. Oh well! They're looking lovely though; I've put them everywhere including in the lawn.

I think I'm going to introduce a new feature here, The View From My Window. This is March 1, 2012 as seen from my bathroom window.  It has already changed dramatically.
This is The View From My Window on March 7, 2012.  Great changes!

Yesterday I dug up some densely growing chrysanthemums and equally tightly growing daisies and moved them around to new spots. Someday I'm going to succeed at my attempt to hide the ground.  Of course I'm also still busy ripping out English Evil Ivy and exposing more of said ground.  I'm trying to fill the space and vinca is trying to help me (for better or for worse I haven't decided) but a heavy rain could still cause a red mud slide.

The big change in our landscaping today is the moving of the playset. When we got the thing, back when Pook was less than two (2002) we placed it outside the dining room window in the only flat part of the backyard. It isn't the most beautiful view from a dining room. I can think of things worse, (say a neighbor's trashcan perhaps) and having it nearby was perfect when the boys were little.

They don't use it much anymore, and I hope paying to have it moved isn't a waste of money. We're hoping that up in the woods it will become more of a hide-away fort. Maybe we should encourage them by sending them out with the (also never used) telescope to spy (in which case I would have to do something more exciting than doing laundry or cooking). Hmmm, I wonder what my neighbors are up to.....

Meanwhile I am planting some shrubs to help hold the hill in place, enjoying the blooms around me and feeling the sun on my back.

Friday, March 2, 2012

free time

I posted only twice in the month of February. And I had an extra day too. I am just crazy busy and posting seems to fall somewhere after lay-on-the-floor-and-do-nothing in my free time.  Ha! I implied there was "free time." The problem? In one word: baseball.

See, if it was just the new job and the old volunteer stuff and the house and the kids' regular activities, I'd be juggling apples but not dropping many. But once the spring baseball season starts, everything goes haywire.

See, they don't assign kids A Day. We don't play on the Tuesday/Thursday 5:30 team. They play on Tuesday 5pm at another location, Thursday 5:30 down the street, and Saturday 6:15 this week and then they toss the schedule in the air and choose different days, times and places for the following week.  Ditto for the other child. Sometimes they practice or have games on the same day, same time, same ballpark. But not often. Usually they alternate days or times to maximize our time away from home.

Then! I have them both in piano. Academic, not sport, good for the brain, something I hope they'll appreciate their full lives... you know-- good for them. They like it, if not the required practice, and usually it hardly dents the schedule.

And I let Pook rejoin the Science Olympiad Team after school. Which required parental volunteer time this year.

And Pook's big award ceremony took most of a day, once we drove there and back through Atlanta traffic.

And Pook's religious education class at church sponsored a Pancake Supper. And I was asked to organize it. One person sent me an email, that night, at 7:15pm from a Blackberry that because her husband was sick, she wouldn't be able to bring the griddle (earlier) that day at 4:30pm that she'd signed up to bring. It was too late for me to implode.

And, my own Sunday school class volunteered to cook the following Wednesday. I baked 50 sweet potatoes and bought six pounds of salad.

I have it all color coded in my G00gle calendar, which (I've mentioned) looks like a rainbow this time of year. I don't do it all; we have to pick and choose and email others that we can't make it sometimes. The scheduling is so crazy that I try to only look at one week at a time, and focus only on a few days.

It drives me crazy, but I don't have many deadlines in my life, so even though it stresses me out, I can focus everything on the next commitment. The kids, however, have things like homework, projects and tests. As you can see from the list of activities, Pook is involved in most of them. Bug, unfortunately, has to go along for the ride each time. I can't leave him at home, so off to Science Olympiad (can you concentrate on homework while the kids to the egg drop?) off to the awards ceremony (can you do spelling words while we wait?) and off to the Pancake Supper (what is the change for $20?)

It happens every year. I know I'll get used to it. (And then it will be June.)