Saturday, January 21, 2012

A post about everything and nothing at all

A couple of quick updates will have to suffice for today's post...

Master J woke me up at 3:00 this morning to let me know he was throwing up. Yay me! There's just nothing I look forward to more than doing laundry, cleaning toilets and scrubbing carpet in the middle of the night. Don't get me wrong, I feel awful when my kid is sick and I would never let on that I'd rather be sleeping at that time of night, but, seriously? Why does that stuff always happen in the middle of the night? How about a nice Tuesday afternoon when I'm not trying to sleep and I can see what I'm cleaning? Ah well, such is parenthood I guess. He stopped the vomiting part by 7:00am but then his fever skyrocketed up to 102.8 by the afternoon. With medication it was down to 100 by bedtime. We'll see how tonight goes.

The smoke shop killer from the other night was caught. A fifteen year old boy. A good kid. An honors student who loved science, was on the wrestling team and ROTC and who wanted to join the military after he graduated. All thrown away for $300. Three people were shot, two of them are dead. Three families devastated. This child will be tried as an adult. For a decision he probably made in about two minutes, he will most likely go to jail for the rest of his life. This whole situation makes me so sad.

Lastly, Mister C and I just watched "The End of America" with Naomi Wolf. Interesting show, probably worth watching.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James

We lost one of the world's greatest blues singers today when Etta James lost her battle with leukemia. Etta was edgy and brash, an original who could make you stop in your tracks with her soulful singing. She made you feel every note she wrung out with that powerful voice. And that voice has now been silenced.

She said it best in her autobiography...

"Music was thunder and joy, lightning bolts of happiness and praise, foot-stomping, dance-shouting, good-feeling singing from the soul."

Yes it was Etta, yes it was.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scarily close

Earlier today when Mamoo and I were returning from a trip to the library, we noticed three helicopters hovering really close to my neighborhood. As we got closer, it became apparent that they were focused on the street that's one street over from where I live and it looked like they had closed the street down completely. I figured there had to be a bad accident, mostly likely coming out of the library where some people like to make a brazen dash across all four lanes of traffic to go left. But I was wrong.

When I got home I did a quick search online to see if the accident was showing up. It wasn't, but a shooting was. At a nearby "smoke shop", some nut job had walked in shooting. One guy was shot as he bolted from the place in search of help. They knew there were others in the store, including the owner. The first reports were that the shooter was still in the store. The S.W.A.T. team had converged and were surrounding the place. It was a bad situation and people were warned to avoid the area, but it seemed like it was pretty much under control.

Move forward thirty minutes...I go to pick up Master J. Watching the kids pour out of the school and head down the street towards their homes, I think momentarily that it's good that they have the criminal contained in the store because besides my son's school, there is another elementary school and a high school within a two mile radius. I get Master J home and settled with his homework (as settled as much as he can be anyway.) Then I go back online to check on the progress of the barricaded criminal. Only he's not barricaded in the store. And he never was.

After finally making it inside the store, the S.W.A.T. team didn't find their gunman, they did find the two other victims. And at this point the gunman had been on the loose for over three hours. Starting at a location within a mile of my home. And as of right now, over seven hours later, there's still no indication that he's been apprehended. The helicopters have finally stopped hovering, flying past periodically instead. I can only assume they are doing some sort of ground search to try and find this guy before he does more damage.

I feel awful for the victims, I imagine it was just a situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for them. I feel bad for the families who lost them too. At some level, I suspect I'll feel some sadness for the criminal too. What could make someone do such a thing? Maybe not. Maybe I'll be pissed off angry by the time they catch him. But right now, I just wonder why.

So yeah, complete lock down at the old Mirth plantation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Master J

On the way to drop off a library book after school today, we stopped off at this little man made pond to take a few pictures.

Wonder what I could do with these?

Look Mom, I'm a cockroach! (I'm not making this up, that's what he actually said.)

He cracks himself up!

He's such a lovable goof!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soylent Green is...

Just watched this film again for the first time in twenty years or so. When Mister C told me he was planning to watch it I told him to go ahead without me because I'd already seen it and thought it was pretty bad. But after thinking about it for about thirty seconds I thought maybe I should watch it again, just to refresh my memory.

I can't say I liked this movie at all the first time I saw it. I thought it was completely and ridiculously stupid and the poor acting pretty well grated on my nerves. This time, I'm pretty sure the acting was just as poor but the premise of this film was a whole lot more interesting to me. Just twenty short years ago this movie was so far out as to be crazily unbelievable. Now, with what's happening in this country today, it's a little less so. It's still a seventies science fiction film with lots of poorly executed fight scenes and completely unrealistic "blood" from those fights. The film still feels erratic and disjointed to me, but maybe that's how it was meant to feel.

But mostly, the feeling I ended up with was not dis-similar to when how I felt after reading Huxley's "Brave New World" again recently. Kind of like "Holy crap, it's like they could see the future!" Like I said, an interesting film. Probably won't need to watch it again for another twenty years or so though.

Monday, January 9, 2012

And the award goes to...

A few days ago Mister C and I clipped the girls wings, literally, and they haven't been the same since. I'm not really sure that chickens have enough sense to "act" per se, but if they can, this flock is in solid position for their Academy award (category: best roles in a dramatic series.)

Immediately after the wing clipping the girls fluttered around the yard trying out their half wing cut. They figured out pretty quickly that there would be no flying. And that is when the theatrics began.

See, every day when I let them out previously they would get a few steps running start and fly over the garden beds on their way to the grassy area. The fences Mister C and I erected made them take a few more steps prior to takeoff, but they still came out in a rush and explosion of wing flapping.

Not so much lately. Now when I open the door to the coop, they step out carefully, giving me a reproachful glare as they each pass by. And then they march slowly and methodically down the path towards the grassy area. I swear to you I can hear the drum beating slowly as they make their way along. The sighs are nearly audible for the injustice that has been put upon them.

It should also be noted that even with one wing clipped those damn leghorns can get off the ground and fly a few feet. Which means that they are probably the best actors of all since they march stoically along with the rest of them.

The Awards...

Best look of disgust goes to Red

Best "I'm too depressed to eat so I'll stare at you over my food": Princess Laya

Best "How could you?": Rocky

Best Look of Reproach: Peaches (or Cream, I can't tell the difference)

Also, when the hell are my eggs gonna start showing up? You guys are teenagers now, start producing already.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New year, new attempts at Greatness!

Well, here we go. So you guys know I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions. At least not normal ones that would even count for most people.

I try not to put anything on myself that makes me feel badly if I can't/won't/don't follow through with it. So you'll never hear me say "I'm going to exercise five days a week this year!" or "I'm only going to eat organic lettuce for lunch every day this year!" Cause odds are, it's not happening. I might commit to working out "at least once this year" or eating "fewer things that can survive on a shelf for two years" or some such. But mostly, I just don't make yearly resolutions. Would I like to eat better, exercise more and lose weight? Mostly, sometimes and hell yes. But I won't put it in writing.

But I do make daily or hourly decisions. So far this year one of things I've tried to do is to drink a small glass of water before having each cup of coffee. Now, for those of you that know me, I'm sure you're thinking "Lord help that girl, I hope she has Depends on!" I do like my coffee quite a lot and this has forced me to drink a LOT of water. How much? Let's just say that if I were Bear Grylls I could walk out into the desert right now and survive for several days without a water bottle. That much. I'll wait for a few of you to quickly Google Bear and his best known survival tip before we move on.

We done yet? Horrified yet? Good.

Anyway, I made the decision about the water/coffee thing prior to the first of this year and have been really good about following through every day. But it's not a resolution. It's just a decision I make every day. One cup of coffee at a time.

I also have been trying on a daily basis to keep my kitchen counters cleared off. Up until late last year I had five out of five counter surfaces full at all times in the most used room of the house. Stacks of school papers from Master J, stacks of random paperwork from my job, stacks of things I'm going to read as soon as I get to them. Toys, pencils, pads of paper, an empty fish tank and even lens covers for my camera. You know, the usual stuff that normal people have on their counters.

After we got back from spending Christmas at my in-laws, I got on a roll one day and just started digging in. And I was brutal. At the end of several intense days, I had shredded enough to fill the shredder full and recycled enough to fill the small recycling bin several times over. I had sent any and all toys with Master J to his personal hoard of a room (which, side note, he totally cleaned up last week!) The few things that I kept I put in their proper places. Overall, I completely cleared off four of the five surfaces and got most of the fifth one done. Now on the counters surrounding my stove and sink are: a spice rack, the toaster and the coffee pot (in the traditional place of honor next to the sink so it's never far to refill it.) I have graciously allowed the rotating bunch of bananas and cherry tomatoes to sit here as well since neither of them can go in the fridge. Otherwise, completely empty. It's awesome. I love it.

But there's a problem with this. Now that my counters are cleared, they seem to be beacons for Mister C and Master J to set stuff. Apparently, large flat surface equals "I could put this newsletter here, just for a minute" and "my art project could sit here while I work on it" and "what a great place to lay out all my legos." So now, instead of enjoying my clear counters, I fret about them. And I'm constantly picking things up that my menfolk have set down and following them around asking where they would like it. Because it's so not staying where they put it.

Between the water drinking, counter clearing and Ta-Da list, my first week of the new year has been pretty productive (no pun intended there.) I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at in life and I think that's what's important. Not making big plans to fail, but instead making small changes today. Yeah, I can do that.

And here are a few random pictures that have nothing whatsoever to do with this post because everyone loves photos.

The Antagonizer and her sidekick the Hooligan trying to get a look at the hummingbird that was buzzing around my fountain.

The hummingbird in question. Taken with the 300mm lens because I'm too lazy to get up off the patio furniture to get closer. (f5.6, 1/250)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Training Your Chicken

We clipped the chickens wings today. The whole damn flock of them. All paying because one of them decided to learn to fly.

The problem is that two of the girls are leghorns, which are lighter than the other four ladies. For those not up on chickens, Leghorns are the breed that was depicted in the old Warner Brothers cartoons by the character Foghorn Leghorn (the Southern rooster known for his "I say, I say boy!")

Yesterday I had let the girls out to scratch around the yard while I read my paper on the patio. I had no more sat down than one of the leghorns, I'll go with Peaches since I don't recall seeing the other one, took a running start and lifted off the ground. Which is pretty typical, they all like to fly about two feet off the ground for five or so feet at a time. But this time, she kept climbing in altitude until she landed on top of the fence that separates us from the neighbor behind. A six foot tall block fence I might add. And then she had the nerve to look pretty damned proud of herself.

Of course, I was freaked out that my future egg supply was heading over to the neighbors house because then I'd have to figure out how to get her back. The thing is that if any of my chickens went over the fences on either side of me, that wouldn't be a problem since I could just go over and ring their doorbell and get my wayward pet back. But the neighbors behind me are fairly (okay totally) anti-social. To the point that they removed their doorbell and don't answer the door when you knock. We only know this because Master J lost at least one toy over there that we've never gotten back because they wouldn't answer the door.

Thankfully my chickens are trained. That's right people, I said the birds are trained. Remember back to when we got them how I said I wanted to handle them and make them easier to work with? Well, I have. And now I shall reap the reward of not losing my chickens over the wall.

Because I love you guys, I'm going to tell you the secret of training your chickens so that you too can keep your egg supply in your yard. Or at least get it back to your yard should it wander. Here's how it works...

Step 1: Every time I brought scraps of food to them, I would talk to them. I would tell them I was bringing them a "snack". When it got really cold (for Arizona) I brought them oatmeal in the morning and they LOVED that. I actually told them I was bringing oatmeal each time so now if I say the word "oatmeal" they get all sorts of excited.

Step 2: Once they started figuring out what it meant when I said I had a snack, I started only putting the snack into their coop when I wanted them to go back to their coop. I would tell them I had a snack and they would follow me to the coop.

Step 3: Here's where it gets into the real "training" part. I started telling them I had a snack, then followed that with telling them to "kennel up", which is a phrase our favorite dog trainer used with our first dog. It seemed easier to stick with the phrase I was familiar with rather than trying to say "get in the coop" (while simultaneously trying like hell not to let on to the neighbors that we have chickens in the first place.) I repeated the phrase "kennel up" once the food was in the coop until the last chicken got in.

Step 4: That's it.

Seriously, the girls are trained to get into their coop when I tell them to kennel up. Most of the time they head right in, I always make sure I have food with me because I want to make sure I'm always positively reinforcing the words I use.

Yesterday, when Peaches landed on the top of the fence, I immediately asked if they wanted a snack and told them to kennel up. They all ran for the coop (including Peaches, who flew down from the fence.) I ran into the house and grabbed a bit of strawberry tops from Master J's snack and brought it back out to the coop. I tossed the tops into the coop and closed the door.

And today, Mister C and I learned how to clip chicken wings like professionals. Did you know that Youtube has a video for everything? They do. Including how to clip your chickens' wings. I grabbed each bird from the coop and held their wing out while Mister C clipped the fight feathers. It took about fifteen minutes to do all six and that's for first timers. I'm betting next time we can get it under ten. Mostly I'm just happy that I won't have to worry about them disappearing over the fence any time soon. I say, I say Boy! That makes me happy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Go Big Re....

what the hell happened? We just finished watching the Nebraska Huskers lose to the Gamecocks. In the first quarter of the game I thought we actually had a chance at a win. That was pretty short lived. While there was several really great plays throughout the remainder of the game, the Huskers just couldn't help themselves from turning over the ball and allowing Carolina to walk all over them. Ah well, what can I say from my armchair? They lost, that sucks, better luck next year. Also, Rex Burkhead is still my favorite player on this team. I'm glad he's got another year of playing, hopefully they'll do better next season.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Day 2012

Can you believe 2011 is done and over with already? It's crazy how fast that went. I think I did stuff, I really don't remember all that much right now though. On the bright side, I think I've started out the year on a good note. My "Ta-Da!" list has a few things on it today, not the least of which is finally painting my bedroom.

I painted the ceiling in our bedroom almost a year ago. For at least ten months now we've had a very pretty ceiling next to walls that have an inch of ceiling paint along the top edge (I don't tape off anything) as well as approximately fifteen white patches of various size where I repaired holes from the previous owners. That's in addition to the very large patch where Mister C did some sort of wiring work around the same time as I originally painted the ceiling. That one was about two feet by three feet and situated directly across from the foot of our bed. So I could see it every morning as soon as I got out of bed. I think it will be nice to not wake up to that tomorrow. There wasn't a whole lot else going on today as the painting took up a good five hours of my day, not including the set up and clean up time.

Now, since I haven't been on here in a few days I never updated you on the great mallet incident of late 2011. Let me weave you a tale, a tale of pain and horror that will leave you speechless, unlike I was.

So on Friday Mister C and I were putting the chicken wire around our raised gardens. We didn't need to do this to keep the chickens out, although it will make that easier. No, we had to do that because our idiotic dog likes to dig. And bite strawberry plants off at the base. What dog does that? Just bites a strawberry plant off and eats it? That's not even normal. But anyway, in order to preserve the plants that survived her latest attack, we went ahead and put the wire around the gardens. As part of the project, we also wanted to put chicken wire around our back garden where the raspberry, blackberry and blueberry plants are. That is keep the chickens out because they keep going after my blueberry plants. I'm sure that as soon as the raspberry and blackberries start growing, they'll be after them too.

Mister C bought a bunch of wooden stakes to hold the chicken wire in the back garden. They'll also come in handy for brain pokes via the eye (yuck!) when the zombie apocalypse starts. But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes, wooden stakes, which needed to be put in the ground. Mister C put the first three stakes in using a standard hammer to pound them into our hard, calichi soil. Then he got distracted by having to make a run back to Home Depot for something or another and left the work to me.

Now, I know myself and I know that grace is not my middle name. Neither is accuracy. So I know that there is no way I'm going to attempt using a standard hammer to hit a one by one inch square of wood. Especially not repeatedly. So I came up with the great idea to use a rubber mallet in place of the hammer that Mister C had used. After all, I figured that with a larger hitting implement I would certainly stand a better chance of hitting the target. Additionally, if I did happen to miss the stake and hit myself, rubber has to hurt less than metal.

So with my completely logical choice of tool in hand, I head out to start the wooden stake project. And it goes really well. I was absolutely correct in my assessment of how the mallet would work and I have no problem getting the first nine stakes put in. At least as far as accuracy. Each stake takes between fifteen and twenty hits to get it into the ground to the right depth and it's definitely tiring to be swinging the mallet over and over again. With only two stakes left to install I was feeling pretty good about my getting done before Mister C got home from his shopping excursion. And that is when disaster struck.

I had hit the next to the last stake enough times that it was standing unaided, although I was still holding it for each hit to prevent any problems. I could feel that my arm was getting tired but I valiantly swung the mallet in a large arc towards the not so large target. Only I didn't hit the target. To be honest, I didn't even touch the target. No, I swung that mallet around with all my strength, directly onto the back of my left hand. And since I was hanging on to the stake with my left hand, it didn't even move when the mallet hit it. It just took the full brunt force of that swinging mallet and stopped it cold. The pain was instantaneous and intense. As was my language.

Once the air cleared and I could actually looked at my hand, I was amazed at how quickly a lump was forming. Within about thirty seconds, I had a grape sized lump growing up out of my hand and it was only getting bigger. To make it worse, the pain was radiating from the point of impact (which was about an inch directly below the knuckle of my pointer finger) up into my finger as well as into my thumb. Over the next thirty minutes or so the swelling got less grape-like and more spread out until it covered about half of the back of my hand. I decided at that point that I was done working for the day.

Today, two full days later, the swelling is down but still covering a full third of my hand. There's still a very hard lump the size of a grape at the point of impact, and the whole thing has a blueish tinge to it. The bruising goes above the knuckle as well. And it still hurts if I touch it. Also, note to self...hard rubber being swung at full speed hurts like hell. I'm almost sure it doesn't hurt any less than the metal hammer would have. As far as I can tell the difference was that the mallet spread the pain over a larger area.

So, overall, a tough end to 2011 and a good start to 2012. Hopefully things will continue to improve from here.

Happy New Year's Day!