Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stripey trees

Friday evening we noticed a yard on the corner had some tree trunks wound around with multiple colors of crepe paper. It was for a 5th grader's bday party. Rainbow stripey tree trunks are my new favorite thing. A neighbor wants me and our other knitter to knit bomb the trees in our courtyard. I am reluctant because after the first day what you have is grubby yarn-covered trunks. Crepe paper would be easier to put on and take off. Although, maybe what would be fun is long ribbons at six inch intervals. It would look spiff in a good breeze. Hm...
Last night I awoke due to lightning flashes and thunder at 1a. Then the hailstones started. It often sounds at the beginning of a hailstorm as though someone is throwing them one at a time. Then they come in a rush, too many for even a team of flingers. The weather service warning said half dollar sized hail and from the sound they made hitting the roof I think that's a good guess. (How many 25 year olds could tell you the size of a half dollar coin? I haven't handled many of them. We do keep one in our special coin jar.) Trying to fall asleep afterwards I was zapped back to awareness when my husband sneezed downstairs. My brain gave me a good jolt of adrenaline when I heard the sneeze. Beware! Allergens! or maybe dust! Stupid brain. We're going to have a high temp in the 60s tomorrow which seems weird. No hail damage as far as I could see this morning.

Finished One of Our Thursdays is Missing which was better than the last Thursday Next novel I read. Quite satisfying. His description of fan fiction as a party is great. It really should be taken as a celebration of the power of the story. I guess I believe that when profit appears it's time to get your lawyer.
Softball games start this week and our calendar is full of practice times and game times and I think it's all going to hit the fan when I start my Tues/Thurs Zumba classes next week. We'll just do what we can.

I have to check the city band concert schedule. That's another thing to keep us up late on summer evenings, getting mosquito bitten in the park. Just looked it up: they start tonight at 8pm with Benny Goodman music. It may be worth the bugbites. I feel like the kids are finally old enough to do some of those evening things without having to be carried home afterwards. 8 and 10 is a more mobile, resilient set of ages. Yeehaw! We all had a great time at the pool in Shawnee on Monday. Katy and Nod and I rode the water slides. Lexi stuck to the Lazy River ride and we all did that a bunch of times. Lexi is caution on her plinth (or something like that). I need to get her back on the bicycle for more practice too. Maybe cookies will be a good incentive.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Better

This is the post you can read between work tasks that will enhance your well being. It will help you sit up straighter. It will relieve the burning feeling in your eyeballs. You may feel more peaceful and alert while reading. Headache and sinus pressure will recede. It will refresh your spirit. After reading you will be able to take up your work with a clear mind and a firm will.

I think allergy season is hitting me a bit hard.

The Hellenistic Age was good information even though most of it rolled off my duck's back brain. But at least I sort of know who the Ptolemies are now. That's the clan that took over Egypt after Alexander the Great croaked and his generals fought over control of the various part of his empire. The Ptolemies became well established and, very importantly, never amassed enough regional power to be a threat to the other generals. They had a longer run than many of the other post-Alexander groups who chased each other around. What a bunch of brawlers. I thought the Medicis were vicious but this slice of history shows plenty of interfamily assassination as the common path to power. Back to the Ptolemies, that's who Cleopatra was, the Ptolemy du jour who worked those Romans to see if she could come out on top. There's lots of interfamilial marriage to consolidate power. And family names were recycled over and over. The family trees are very confusing. The author writes with great confidence about all these squirrelly characters. I really don't know how he can be so sure about their motivations but he is very convincing and it was a good reading experience.

Now I'm reading Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks which isn't as well written but still is holding my interest. I'm looking forward to Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Ancient Athens. And that should probably do me for ancient Greece for a while.

Yesterday I finished HHhH which is a book about an assassination attempt on the life of the Nazi governor of occupied Prague 1942. Much of this history was new to me. I hadn't really realized where Moravia and Bohemia were. The book is at the same time a discussion of the difficulty of writing a true history and the temptation to invent and fictionalize what can never be known. The book is written with many tiny chapters. It's one of my favorite ways to read, like eating a big meal made up of tiny, tasty hors d'oeuvres.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Berries

We went strawberry picking last week. Nod and I were both pretty tired after work but made the effort to round up all two children and find the farm. There's no down side, I concluded, we'll end up with berries no matter what. It was about 7pm, a beautiful golden twilight. We got a little carried away with our treasure hunting/picking and ended up with a whopping 12.5 pounds of berries. I figured we'd freeze some after we got tired of eating them. But that didn't happen and over the next four days we ate them all. They were so ripe and soft that they couldn't last any longer than that anyhow. The field smelled like jam. Happy sigh. Nod went back last night with a friend and brought home a modest 4#. Berries for breakfast, berries at every meal. I just had a vision yesterday of eating a ripe peach. It may be time to look for early ones. Nod brought home a flier for a U Pick peach farm to the east. I haven't picked peaches since we went to the Delta north of San Francisco around 2000. Seasonal fruit! is my battle cry.
But don't think you can have any blackberries. Mimi Smartypants is eating them all.

A crummy day has gotten better. I have been riding the hormone train for the last couple of days and woke up achey. Got to work and couldn't find my badge which is also my office door key. I signed out a temp badge which wasn't as shaming as I expected. After a dose of ibuprofen, a couple of hours and a cup of tea, life seemed better. Then my coworker T brought me flowers and cinnamon rolls for my birthday. She is a sweet soul in a loudmouth body, I like her a lot.

Lexi has her first softball practice tonight and Katy's first one is tomorrow. Vroom, here we go into summer.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Flowrs

Here's what I remember seeing and learning a name for on our walk. If I practice these maybe I'll retain them...
Sweet clover: small yellow spikes of flowers
Evening primrose: yellow
Horse nettle: five petal white
Wild roses: pink and white, katy ate a rosebud, very very! bitter is her report
Phlox: pinky purple, groups of flowers
Deptford Pink: pinky purple, one tiny five petal flower on top of stem. Teeny dots on petals. This is a eurasian species.
Larkspur: cluster of white snap dragony blooms with one dark mark on each petal
Penstemon: cluster of white snap dragony blooms, no marks on petals, smoother than larkspur
Cat's claw: crazy pink puffball flowers, spines on stem, has sensitive leaves that fold when touched.
Lead plant: grey foliage, can make tea but toxic in large doses
Yarrow: feathery leaves, use to help scratches heal
Coneflower: just starting to bloom
Milkweed: a few blooms
Wild alfalfa: tiny vivid purple blossoms
Gamma grass: very tall, long seed heads at top of stem
Sedges: like grasses but "sedges have edges" triangular stems
Compass plant: shaped like coral fans, leaves are mostly aligned north/south
Puccoon: small orange flowers, I didn't find any of these they were mostly done. Native american word for dye plant.
Daisy fleabane: sprays of little daisy blooms. An excellent nom de plume
Daisies
Pepper grass: long spears of seed heads, peppery but not a grass.
Tomatillo: tiny and green. Dried (sweeter that way) for food by Native Americans.
Slender mountain mint: no flowers yet, skinny leaves, eucalyptus-ish scent when crushed.
KS wildflowers by color:  http://www.kswildflower.org/byColor.php

I *loved* the Kansas Land Trust mother's day walk in the prairie meadow. We tromped around with a botanist from KU who plucked various plant parts and told us their histories. It was part sun, part cloud and a beautiful day out in the rolling prairie farm land SE of the city. On the drive out we saw cows, goats, lots of birds (the birdsong was loud and gorgeous), and a farm dog. This field has never been plowed we were told but just burned and mowed for hay. The plants on it should be close to what was found there over the last 12,000 years. Cool. Lots of flowers, more than I expected.

It was warm and the children eventually wilted. Near the end of the walk I sent them back to the tent at the field entrance with the water jug. They are old enough to be bored but not explode and require all of us to leave. (This feels like a major advance!) Being bored is not the end of the world. I would have been tremendously bored by the plant talk if I was their age too. Katy was also v. resentful that we wouldn't get to go walk in the woods. Her dad took her to the treeline after the plant talk was done. They got to see how it was just a dense tree stand grown up along the fence line. From all those birds sitting on the fence and pooping seeds for hundreds of years.

When we got home and tick-checked it was Katy who got the prize. None of the rest of us came up with any, she just had one. I found the tick removal tool and it worked really well, much better than tweezers. Nod's eyes were beginning to swell even after his shower. He had quite a florid allergic reaction to all that pollen. I also had itchy eyes. I don't think we should go tromping through the prairie every day. But I am so glad to have done it and learned new things.

I got to show off my sweater on Saturday. It was cool enough when the sun was behind the clouds. My knit friends and neighbors gave me applause. I can see that in my haste I made one sleeve cuff two rows shorter than the other. Not sure if I'm going to try and amend that or just live with it. We also admired Beth Ann's day of the dead themed quilt top that she's made for a nephew. She is a color artist and puts together beautiful fabric assemblages. I knit furiously on Katy's hoodie and have finished the three panels. I'm halfway through the first sleeve. Then I will see if I can figure out how to sew it together. The shoulder area in particular does not seem obvious. I've made the whole thing on smaller needles than it called for because I didn't want it to be loose/lacy and to make it Katy-sized not woman sized. Hope it will all come together.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dramallama

You may need to spend some time with My Daguerrotype Boyfriend. I know I do.

The word 'scalp' is currently weirding me out. I read it several times and then it morphed into a very unlikely seeming syllable. But I don't have a good replacement ('headtop', anyone?). My own is flaky oh so dry and itchy. I'm sure it's not bugs -- I checked! Just dry skin, especially at the hairline above my forehead for maximum exposure of the dandruff. I'm going to try putting lotion on it tonight. I'll wash my hair in the morning. Then I'll see if there is any change; hopefully not just more oily hair.

Took Katy home yesterday from school. She got queasy after doing sprints in the morning (US fitness test? not sure). She said she had a headache and wasn't hungry. It was the lack of hunger and the lack of complaining about her recently sprained ankle that convinced me she should go home. No fever, she rested all day and felt better by evening. Back to school this morning, she even went early for the student council meeting. I worry about being a patsy when I'm not worried about ignoring symptoms. I guess I'd rather be a patsy occasionally. Lord knows I need a down day every once in a while. I'm sure the kids do too.

Both girls are signed up for summer softball. On different teams. This may present scheduling challenges as there will be two practice schedules and two game schedules. I'm going to assume we can do it all until proven otherwise.

There is a wildflower walk on Mother's Day at the edge of town. I'm kind of excited about it. Realized that I need to get my mom's day card in the mail today if poss. And after that thought I've just used the intertubes to send my mother some high desert wildflower seeds. It's sort of like a bouquet, right? Except more work and it probably won't get to her for a couple weeks. My mom told me that she had some volunteer blue flax flowering on her patio. Happy sigh. Trying not to worry about my MIL, letting Nod take the lead on that.

Missed the library's craft evening last night. I knew there was something I was forgetting and I even *went* to the library but with other ends in mind. Came home with the first season of Sherlock so I am v. v. pleased. Got Nod interested in the first ep too. I told him that he shares the comics world with me and I share my anglophilia arts with him. Yes we have seen The Avengers and it was good. Engaging, exciting, funny and even moving. I only had a few thoughts about required smash 'em up scenes. Grand Central Station certainly takes it in the teeth. Courtesy of my avenging spouse I was surprised to realize that I had seen all of the prequel movies. Including most of Captain America (which lost me due to the lack of an interesting villain. Nod told me patiently that Red Skull was extremely faithful to the comics so I guess I was not the audience for that one.) Yay Iron Man, I think I have to watch that one again now. Got an explanation of Tony Stark's Black Sabbath t shirt: that album has a song by Ozzy called "Iron Man". Okay, that was actually less funny than I expected. But it's only a t shirt. Joss for president!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tipapril

My blog post editing display has changed and I feel all disoriented. Or disorientated as the Brits would say. Where is my orient?

Kickball doom tonight. It's our doubleheader and last week we lost by 31 to 1. As Nod told me that score is an achievement. I took it badly and grumbled about the umpire and the other teams and our outfield and it didn't do me much good. This week I am resolved to kick and throw and catch and manage to enjoy myself whatever happens. It's fresh air and exercise and the goofiest sport around. I just didn't know it was populated by fit 30 somethings with chips on their shoulders. I was hoping for older duffers like myself.

My mom is coming for a visit next week. I have many cleaning chores to do in the next six days. I hope I can delegate some of them.

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And then April blew past with a warm whoosh. Hello, May. Kickball got much better and then I quit. We all got better at throwing and catching and not sucking. Everyone was positive and we had a good ref and we lost by smaller and smaller scores and it was delightful. But I had to quit. I had sciatic pain every night after finishing. The doubleheader made it so I could hardly walk afterward. I am embarrassed that I am too old for kickball. Or at least there is "a conditioning issue" as Nod says.

Mom was here, just left Tuesday. I took several days off work. It was nice to be off work. It was nice to see her. But I am in a slough of 'is that all there is'? Looking for moments of delight. I get along with my mother but I have a hard time figuring out what will delight *her*. We had some wonderful meals out, a novelty for me. The kids were charming which is their job.

I wish I could spend some time braiding Katy's hair. I need to work out the reverse French braid. Sometimes spending my day at work is just so dumb.

Nod has online friends that he chats with through Facebook and IM. I am jealous. He cultivates his pals and I would like to follow his example. Now I feel sorry for myself. To wallow for a moment: my scalp is flaking away to beat the band, the winter fat layer is recalcitrant, my magic wand isn't working.

But back in the land of glory -- I finished my sweater. It fits and I am an amazing knitter. I have started a hoodie cardigan for Katy. I have changed the pattern around (smaller yarn, smaller needles) and I may have over-succeeded in making it too small. I am going to finish the back panel and measure it and see.

Neighbor Jen and I are resolved to do something friendly soon. I am resolved that we will have family picking up time Saturday morning or die trying. I bought tickets for the MOVIES on Saturday at 12:20, the first non-3D showing of The Avengers, the movie Nod has been waiting for since he was 11. I'm excited too.