This is a guest post, written by my husband...
Uh oh, I bet that little tidbit plays poorly if the mainstream gets ahold of it!
This is a guest post, written by my husband...
So I've heard rumblings from the complaint department about the lack of posting lately. It's not for lack of fodder, I assure you. I've been sort of busy doing stuff I can't really talk about yet because it's not set in stone, but I don't want to disappoint my three readers so I will regale you with a tale...
For the past week, we have been hosting Lola while my sister and Music Man are overseas making music in Belgium and other various locales. Lola, if you remember back, is their absolutely adorable long-haired miniature dachshund. This is her as a puppy...
So we're halfway through Banned Book Week and I haven't even mentioned it once. Hmmm, I must be slacking on my game (a lot) lately.
As an avid reader, this is a subject that's close to my heart. I remember being appalled the first time I learned that people in towns across America still actually held book burnings. I couldn't believe that people still felt the need to burn a book. But evidently they do and so, an idea was born. Since that time I have periodically (no pun intended) tried to add to the collection of books in my personal library at least a few books that have banned. They don't need to be current books, in fact most of the books I have acquired have been what I would consider classic. Think Dickens, Twain, Caldwell or Steinbeck. At one time I started a list but it got so big that I kind of gave up on it (for now.)
The thing I figured out is that most books that have been banned aren't "bad" books, they are simply books that make some people uncomfortable. The problem is that just because someone is made uncomfortable by something, it doesn't mean that the something is the problem. So, I will continue to peruse the list of banned books in search of new reading material. Or in search of old reading material that I just don't have on my shelf.
I've put the list of 2011's ten most challenged titles below...two things should be noted:
1.) Brave New World should be required reading for every citizen of the US today and
2.) Within the last six months, my child has read #3 (the trilogy) and #10. I'm probably a bad mother, but I'm okay with that.
About a month ago, maybe a little longer, the angelfish in my tropical tank laid a bunch of eggs on a plastic plant. For the record I do have real plants in this tank. In fact, about half the plants in there are real and I'm working towards increasing that amount. The real plants are lush, healthy and on the complete opposite end of the tank from the filter, which is the safest area in the entire tank. I only mention all of this so you can understand my consternation at my fish for deciding to lay their eggs as close to the filter as possible and on the spindliest plastic plant they could find. As expected with a first batch of eggs, these were unfertilized and the parents ended up eating them within about two days.
Fast forward to a week or so ago and I discover another batch of eggs from my angelfish. Of course, my fish didn't get any smarter in the interim and ended up laying them in almost the exact location. I figured there would be about a 50/50 chance of these eggs not being fertile as well so I wasn't getting too excited about them. But by the end of the first day I realized that none of the eggs was turning white (which would indicate they were infertile.) Then I realized that if in fact any of the eggs actually managed to hatch into fry, I had nothing to feed them. Which in turn caused me to make a panicked trip to various stores in the area only to find out that none of them carries brine shrimp eggs anymore. What the heck?
By the second day, still no white eggs and mom and dad are vigorously defending the nest. I had given up finding any brine shrimp eggs locally and went online to order some. It wasn't until after I hit the "buy" button that I realized that he delivery date wouldn't be until some time next week. Awesome. So back to the store I went to try and find something to tide my babies over on the off chance they actually hatched into something.
By the end of day two I notice the eggs appear to be vibrating. It's kind of cool to watch the entire batch shimmy, but I try to avoid doing it frequently as it gets the parents wound up.
By day three I'm seeing little tiny tails hanging out of the eggs. They are still vibrating and shimmying and I can also see two little eyes on top of their heads. I want to hug them they are so cute.
Yesterday I noticed a few of the babies starting to launch off of the leaf. This sends mom (or dad, I honestly can't tell the difference) into a frenzy of sucking up the wayward baby and spitting them back onto the leaf. Kind of like when you chase your kid out of the pantry and set them back in the room where all their toys are repeatedly. Apparently kids of all species pull the same stunt. Anyway, they're not completely free swimming at this point but I knew they would be by today.
I got up this morning to see a cloud of babies swimming around their parents. I fed the other fish at the opposite end of the tank and then put a little fry food in over the babies. They came right up and started eating, which was awesome and short lived. Mom (or dad) decided I was trying to poison their babies and proceeded to swim around sucking up the babies and spitting them away from the food. What the hell mom (or dad)? Eventually they gave up and let the babies feed, but it's been a repeat of this same procedure each time I've fed them today.
I don't know if any of the babies will actually survive to adulthood. Their chances are pretty slim considering they're in a tank with multiple members, all of whom have mouths big enough to fit a baby in. But you never know, one or two might survive. And in the meantime, it's pretty cool to watch the parenting of the adults.
So I don't know which fish is mom and which is dad, but you can see they are both parenting the fry which I think is pretty cool.
So yeah, where the heck have I been? Apparently not on here, updating all three of my followers who actually read this. I will set that to rights immediately...
Master J: Well, the child is his own worst enemy. He's enjoying his new school and sixth grade immensely. Homework however, is the bane of his existence. If his grades were solely dependent on his test scores, he would be a straight A student. Because they are at least 40% dependent on his homework, he has two Cs. Which kind of sucks. Because the kid is in 7th grade math and reads at a 12th grade level, but he struggles to get his homework turned in on time. And the worst part? It's not that he doesn't do the homework, it's that he doesn't remember to turn it in. Yeah, my brilliant child can't pull it together long enough to turn in the homework he did so he takes a 25% deduction in the grade. Part of the issue is he is visual like me, if he can't see it he doesn't think he has it. So we're trying a new thing where instead of putting his completed homework into the "turn in" folder, we've paper clipped it to the outside of the folder. Voila! Friday's homework got turned in. We'll see if it continues.
Mister C and I are trying to do a real estate deal with my parents. We want to buy their home that sits on over an acre and sell them our home that's low maintenance and would be extremely cheap for them to live in once my dad retires in a few months. It's a win-win for both of us, if it all works out (knock on wood.)
At this point we're just waiting for the appraisal to be returned in order to qualify for the loan. I was really hoping to hear by Monday, but the lender sent Mister C an email yesterday saying she expects it around October 10th. I'm not sure in what universe it requires a full three weeks to get an appraisal report back but that's her version of events.
Our gardens from this most recent season worked out well in some respects, not so well in others. I finally harvested the last of the cantaloupes and pulled the vines out. It looks a lot bigger back there all of a sudden. I got rid of the cucumbers a few weeks ago, they pretty much sucked. I only got two cucumbers that were edible, the rest of them went huge and yellow almost from the moment they appeared. The watermelons did well and produced quite a few melons, but the heat got to them and they started rotting on the vine before ripening. I pulled them all out a few weeks ago, but one new plant has started coming back. The cherry tomatoes did really well, and one of them even reseeded itself so we have a new plant growing. The red and green peppers really took off once we removed the dying tomato plants. So far we haven't had any harvest ready peppers but I'm hoping we will soon. The strawberries got pretty well overwhelmed by the cantaloupe and stopped producing, but the plants themselves look good and are continuing to vine out and get stronger. I'm hoping they'll start producing again soon. Still no luck from the berry patch. The blackberry plants look fantastic but they haven't produced but one actual berry. The raspberry plants look less good, they've struggled the entire time they've been back there. They did produce three rather sour berries that did not please Mister C. The blueberry plants are mostly not robust. I pulled one of them out and potted it in the hopes of saving it. It seems to be surviving, but not thriving. The two grape vines are growing like crazy, they're all the way up the trellis and starting to curve over the top of the pergola. There are currently five tiny bunches of grapes on one of the vines. They are so adorable I want to pinch them, but I suspect that will not be a good thing. And finally, we went ahead and planted two apple trees and a peach tree. They are too young yet to be producing anything but they seem strong and managed to survive our brutal summer so I have hope.
In anticipation of our next growing season down here, I have started a bunch of seeds in my kitchen. I am highly disappointed with the green bean seeds I bought as they have yet to start growing. Since it's been a few weeks, I'm pretty sure they're duds and I'm going to have to restart some different ones. Having said that, everything else seems to be trying. The peas are at least four inches tall and the spinach, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and onions are several inches high. I have high hopes for a productive season.
The Jeep diet is still working, slowly but steadily. I've now lost fourteen pounds and after sitting at a plateau for at least six weeks, I think I'm back on track. I did a six week challenge of push ups, dips, squats and crunches that wrapped up about a month ago. I was aiming to hit 100 push ups, 150 dips, 150 crunches and 200 squats. The last day I did the challenge I managed 125 push ups, 175 dips, 175 crunches and 300 squats. And then I went and whimpered about my hip hurting for the next two days. I now try to incorporate a more moderate 25 of each exercise into at least three days a week. And I've just started a couch to 5k running program. It's ugly. I suck at running big time, but I've found a walking trail that runs in the greenbelt and dead ends. Nobody is ever on it because it doesn't go anywhere and all the houses that line it are one story. So basically, nobody can see me dragging along and stumbling on air while I make my pathetic attempt at running (think zombie on meth and you have the general picture.) I'm pretty sure the running will be a boost to my fitness quest, no matter how I look doing it.
I think that about wraps it up, I'm heading into get some breakfast.
It's monsoon here in the valley of the sun. Yay for the monsoon! So far this week we've had two really nice storms come through and dump a good amount of water on our exceedingly dry, scorched earth. Although gutters are still a little ways off, I was able to collect about thirty gallons of water just in buckets from yesterday's downpour. And it was a downpour...
The worst of yesterday's storm occurred in the late evening. Just in time for me to go over to my parent's house to take care of their two dogs for the last time before they went to bed for the night. I was hoping for a reprieve from the rain at least long enough to run the dogs out, but I was denied this basic request. When I pulled up in the driveway, the rain was fairly light. By the time I walked in the house, locked the door behind myself, got the first dog out and opened the back door it had increased tenfold.
The first dog I took out was Desi, who apparently had a clue last night. He stepped out into the rain, realized it sucked and hurried up with his business. We were out there less than a minute. Good boy Desi!
The second dog was Lucy, who had a different take on the rain. She stepped out into the rain, looked like she realized it sucked....and then blinked a lot. She stood there, blinking in the rain, for eternity. I tried encouraging her to "hurry up!" but she seemed more concerned with running in circles on her leash and blinking. Five minutes later she finally decided that she should probably take care of business and get out of the rain. Not so good girl Lucy (frowny face).
With both dogs back inside, I headed out to put my chickens up for the night. The girls were pretty much sleeping on their roost when I walked out anyway so it was just a matter of shutting them in the coop. As I was moving the rock that holds the door open a huge flash of lightning lit up the entire area. And I realized that I was standing in a ten by twenty metal cage that surrounds the largest tree on the property. And I'm standing in water. Yay me!
I head back to the house and lock everything up for the night. At this point I'm pretty wet, but not completely soaked to the skin and all I have to do is get to the Jeep. Except as I'm locking the front door I realize that it's Tuesday. And garbage pickup is really early Wednesday morning. Which means I have to put the garbage and recycling cans out tonight. The cans that are currently in the backyard. Ugh!
I stand there for a second to try and think things through. Now I realize pretty quickly that the very first thing I need to do is get my gun into the vehicle so I don't accidentally drop it in a mud puddle (not that it would hurt it as it's a revolver, but still). In case you're wondering why I feel the need to carry a weapon to my parent's house, I've been taking it with me on the last run over at night because my folks live out where there is open desert backing to their property. At night is when the predators come out and for sure we know there are coyotes and bobcats out there. I've heard and seen the coyotes myself and at least one of the close neighbors has had a bobcat attack her dog on the back patio. And lets face it, if I get confronted by some wild animal I am 100% sure that neither of those dogs is going to defend me. A best case scenario is if I can hang on to the leash long enough to get dragged back to the house as they're running in fear. So anyway, the gun needs to get to the dry interior of the Jeep before I go about my last task. And then I need to get the cans from the backyard to the street. Well, nothing to do except start I guess...
I push the unlock button and run to the driveway. Toss my gun into the passenger seat and slam the door shut. Then I really start moving. From where I'm at, it's about forty feet to the back gate, it doesn't take long to get there but once I do, the latch decides this is a fantastic time to get clingy. It takes me more than few seconds to get the gate open. After it finally gives in, I fling the gate open but before I can get the cans, I must remove the barricade that my dad has put there to keep the rabbits out of his yard. With a clear path finally available, I grab the first can, drag it through the gate and then leave it a few feet beyond. I repeat the procedure with the second can. After I have both cans out, I shut the gate, grab one can's handle in each hand and start moving towards the street.
By this time the rain is coming down in torrents, I can barely see five feet in front of me. And the street is at least 100 feet away. So I start running as fast as I can. Which, considering I'm wearing a pair of Tevas, dragging two huge garbage cans and sliding around in the water, isn't very fast. And then I hit the end of the driveway. Did I mention that my folk's driveway ends? It does. Rather abruptly when you can't see I might add. So then I'm not so much running as scrambling through the muddy mess in my Tevas, dragging my now even more cumbersome huge garbage cans whose wheels apparently don't like mud at all. And I still can't see. And the rain is actually coming down harder.
Eventually I find what I believe to be "close enough" that the garbage trucks can pick up in the morning. But I can't just drop the cans and run, because they are backwards to the street. They need to face the street in order to get emptied. I grab the garbage can first and by half dragging, half rolling it I am able to get it somewhat pointing in the correct direction. But now it's too far back from the road. So I tilt it back on it's wheels in order to push it forward. And that's when gust of wind comes up and lifts the lid, rather rapidly, and slams it directly into my face. I have to say here that while my reaction time is generally pretty good, it slows substantially when the same wind that blew the lid into my face is busy holding it there. It was a good ten seconds before I could peel that stupid lid off my face and force it down onto the can where it belonged. Thankfully the recycling can didn't give me as much trouble and I'm soon on my way back to the driveway and the relative comfort of my Jeep.
By the time I get there I am soaked completely to the skin. My hair is completely drenched and hanging in my face. My jeans and shirt are stuck to me like glue. And I'm having trouble seeing because my eyebrows and lashes have five gallons of water each in them that's now streaming into my eyes. Oh and the window is fogging over. Perfect.
So I blast the heat (yeah, it's August in Phoenix, it's all good) and head home. I would really like to drive faster than ten miles an hour but unfortunately the roads suck big time. The dirt and gravel roads are like a mud bog, but the paved roads are actually worse because there are huge puddles across most of them. At first I was like "Hell, I drive a Jeep! Jeeps are meant to drive through puddles! Screw you puddles, I'm driving a Jeep!" This was quickly followed by "What the hell? I can't see a damn thing when the water comes crashing over my windshield!" So yeah, that worked out well. Ten miles an hour it is. Eventually I arrived home, dripping wet and looking like a drowned rat. I give Mister C credit for holding it together when he got a look at me. But I don't kid myself, I could totally see the grin he was holding back and the gleam in his eyes.
So that's the story of the monsoon in Arizona. And it's supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow again as well. Hopefully not until after I get home from taking care of the dogs. But that would require some sort of good luck that I seem to be lacking in.