Monday, January 23, 2012

twelve months

I have achieved it!
I win! I win!
What do I win?
A chance to keep digging in the dirt?
Oh. Ok.

When I moved from the Midwest to the South, I was fascinated by winter pansies. I lived in apartments for many years as I finished up school and started teaching in Atlanta. But I filled pots with flowers and placed them on all the steps on the way up to my home.

Then I got a yard. And I thought monkey grass was great. Pine straw was odd, but it worked for areas that were too shady for grass.  I put daffodils by my mailbox and they bloomed in February. I fell in love with southern gardening.

Now I have a Grown-Up Garden. We bought the house with great landscaping already in place, so I can't take credit for the good bones. But, just like the thrill at getting to paint your bedroom whatever color you want as a new home owner, putting in plants is wonderful when you first begin.

I bought a book called The Twelve Month Garden. (I can't find it, so I can't credit the author. Sorry. Did anyone borrow it from me?) Twelve months of blooms. I had a goal. And, in my opinion, those lovely winter pansies don't quite count. No, I wanted twelve months of perennial flowers.

And I've got it. Finally!

I cultivated a great spring garden (easy almost anywhere) and then I aimed for summer. The heat, drought and humidity are hard to work with. May purple coneflowers live forever!

I learned about Lenten Roses when I found one languishing under some bushes. I moved it by the back door and it began to bloom in earnest late that next January. A camellia by the house offered more winter color and a daphne followed soon after. I had a winter garden without really trying.

Fall began with chrysanthemums. Then I learned about asters. Then I got better chrysanthemums which returned each year and lasted until the first frost (late November usually).

And then I'd put in pansies to cover until the winter blooms came around. I pretended that I had my twelve months of blooms. Plus, I had holly berries and a Christmas tree to distract me. But I really wanted to have real perennial blooms, and to not rely on annuals. For this I needed a December bloomer.

Last fall I found Obedient Plant. I dug some from a neighbor and put them in my yard. I was cautioned that Obedient Plant does not really live up to its name. It spreads, and sometimes it seems to get out of control. I've carefully planted it between two driveways so there won't be too much spreading to be done. The area needs filling in, so a spreading plant -which can be controlled - sounds great. (Ask me in five years if this was a bad idea.)

The Obedient Plant was still blooming after Christmas. In fact, a night of temps in the twenties is what it took to finally stop the blooms. And by the time it gave up, the winter blooms were showing.

I've got it. A Twelve Month Garden!

Twelve months (just the leaders are mentioned here).
January: Lenten Roses, Camellias
February: Flowering Quince, Forsythia, Crocus
March: all manner of bulbs
April: Lady Banks Rose, Azaleas
May: Azaleas and Roses
June: Daylilies, Hydrangeas and Lots of Flowering Plants
July: Sunflowers, Daisies and Lots of Variety
August: Coneflowers
September: Lantana
October: Chrysanthemums, Asters
November: Chrysanthemums
December: Obedient Plant

Thursday, January 19, 2012

build it and they will come (and go)

What can you make with a shoe box, pipe cleaners, string, scotch tape, and scissors?

Almost anything, you answer?

Ok, what if I say there is also a singleton winter glove, a broken Lego watch, a broken flash drive, a broken bike odometer, a key to some house we no longer own, a shower head, a wine cork, and a globe with a screen which shares information about the countries on it?

Well, if you're Pook, you can make a broken time machine.

But why would you make a broken time machine, you ask?

If you're Pook, you would explain that the technology for a working time machine does not yet exist, but someday it will and at that time your time machine will be able to be fixed.

Broken Time Machine for Time and Space Transportation

1. Globe:  It shows you and helps you choose where you're going, assuming you're going within the boundaries of Earth.

2.Watch: This is how you set the time of your travel, backwards or forwards

3. Flash Drive: It keeps all the memory of all the places

4. Glove: It keeps you attached to the machine so it doesn't go on its own; it takes you with it

5. Cork and Key: They make the ignition

6. Odometer: This keeps track of your distance

7.  Shower Head: This is actually a speaker

Set the globe and watch using the screen on the globe, put your hand in the glove and turn the key when you're ready to go. Speakinto the speaker where you're planning to go and then say "Take me there."

Monday, January 16, 2012

the basement

"When we win the lottery we'll dig a basement."

This has been something I've said for years. We love our house, really we do. But it would be so nice to just have that little bit more space, that it-can-get-messy space, that "sure we can get a foos ball table" space, that guest bedroom space, that workshop space.

Our house is on a hill and I think we could have had a basement pretty easily.  The original builders were just cheap; all our neighbors have similar floor plans with a few more feet in every direction... and basements.

Once Pook and I even pulled out paper to design it. We measured the ground floor and drew it out, then relocated walls to design our perfect basement.  I'd put in a dumbwaiter to haul groceries up from the now-downstairs garage, a mudroom and a place for bikes. Pook designed a playroom.  There would be guest space (with a bathroom!) and still some left for CD to have a workshop.

All that was left was to win the lottery.

I told my mathematical child that one has the best chance of winning the lottery the first time you buy a ticket. Your chances go up 100%!

So, on my Friday the Thirteenth birthday, Pook bought me a lottery ticket.

It was fun to scratch it off together at least.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

it's a boy!

I've been too occupied with mice and critters-who-cannot-be-named to talk about The Paid Job here.

I have a boy!  (He will hereafter be referred to as The Pope.) The Pope started in a two day preschool class this fall. And lasted two days.  He was referred to our program and it was suggested that his parents take him to a developmental pediatrician. His parents were given the diagnosis PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) for him, and speech and occupational therapy were recommended.  His parents got both those therapies going and enrolled him in our preschool with me as his support teacher all in one month. Oh, and a feeding specialist is already getting involved too.

Go parents.

The Pope turned three in October, but didn't use any words to communicate. He'd whine or take their hand and drag them to the item he wanted, and he'd use words to himself, randomly, in his play, but never to another person.  He made no eye contact, even with his parents.  His regular pediatrician told his parents he was "a late bloomer."  Why? Why? Why?

Clearly they suspected something was wrong. They certainly got busy quickly when it was confirmed for them.  While it is never too late, I'm sorry that his parents didn't get him professional help sooner. Early intervention!!!

So anyway, The Pope and I have had three days together. He's a bright little guy with a mop head of dark curls. And he's snuggly. And he's whiny.  But I can do something about the whiny.

He started using a picture communication system with his speech teacher, and took to it quickly.  I'm pulling a similar one together for school.  When he figures out how to get the things he needs, the whining will go away.

I have a baby!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

a not-mouse in my house

Yes, you read that correctly. Mickey/Mrs. Frisby was falsely accused. We put out about ten mouse traps, of the sticky variety. We found the shredded evidence upstairs and down, but no mice. We added a few snap traps and some really huge sticky mat traps, baited it all with chocolate and walnuts (we keep a peanut butter free house) but still no Mickey/Mrs. Frisby.  I think CD is a bit relieved since the sticky mats don't kill the critters and he knows it is not worth a discussion with me about which of us will do the drowning duty. Plus, the big mats are too big to dump in a bucket of water.

We looked up the phone number of the critter company, but didn't do anything with it.  Yesterday morning we heard a scuffling during breakfast. I accused the sort-of-but-not-always broken coffee maker of making weird noises. Until when the kids left for school and we heard it again we were by the coffee maker and the noise was in the cabinet by the dishwasher which holds leftover containers and art supplies. (Yes, doesn't everyone keep those together?)  Last night we discovered a chewed up ziplock of the remaining chocolate pretzel candies.  Argh. But still we remained lazy and hoping the traps around the house would come up with something. Or they'd just move out.

So then, to the not-mouse statement:  After a particularly frenetic morning which included microwaving the leftover mac-n-cheese for lunchboxes and finding that there was no milk for cereal and needing to use the microwave to thaw something else at the same time as the lunch making, then having Bug insist on wearing his jacket right-side-out even though he was running late and Pook have to come back in for his saxophone which he had never practiced yesterday but which he seems to carry around a lot, CD finally bundled them into the car because they couldn't walk due to continued rain which seems as if it will last all week, I sat down at the computer. 

(I am in a new paragraph because that sentence was so long. I'm getting to the not-mouse part.)

Something caught my eye.  I turned toward the kitchen (desk and computer are in the eating area) and Nicodemus (Jenner? Brutus?) ran.  I did what I was supposed to do under the circumstances. Get my camera? (no, that was the 2nd thing I did) scream? But of course!  Maybe more of a yelp, but yes I screamed!

He/she/it turned toward me, looked me deep in the eyes... and reversed direction, back toward the dishwasher. I heard CD drive into the garage, so I calmly stepped out, (ha!) and tried to tell him of this utmost emergency which needed his immediate attention.  He was dealing with a torn recycling bag which was leaving a trail of cans and bottles in his wake. I summoned (some) bravery and returned inside, back to the desk.  Then the disgusting creep did it again!  He/she/it took off running toward the pantry/closet/door out of my sight. 

Now I knew where he/she/it wasn't, but I didn't know where the new hiding place was located.  Rephrase that, I don't know where the new hiding place might be. 

So, I am doing the only practical things left to do. (We called the critter company --they'll come sometime this week) I am opening every door (so there can be no surprises behind door #3) and stomping very loudly everywhere I go.  And wearing slippers.  Mickey/Mrs. Frisby wasn't as threatening as a daytime rat of NIMH.