Friday, December 31, 2010

Reaper Man (Discworld, #11)Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, Pratchett starts with a simple joke, and takes you way beyond. When death is given his own hourglass, he gets a taste of what it's like to live on limited time. As usual, his reaction is to turn to the humans he harvests to attempt to understand his impending doom. He takes up farm work as a reasonable alternative to reaping souls. In a parallel story, the wizards of the Unseen University are dealing with a surfeit of life, the obvious result of which is, of course, a shopping mall, complete with evil shopping carts. When the wizards are captured by the mall, a group of reluctantly undead take up the fight. Pratchett's point or moral, for lack of a better term, is not as clear to me in this book as it has been in others, but I definitely got that Death chose not to go quietly, and that we are all better off with a Death who is both interested in and fascinated by us, than a faceless emotionless specter.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One more

And another one

They are singing "I'm a little candle, dressed in white."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reindeer Pokey

This video was taken from the last row in the room by mommy standing on her tiptoes and holding the camera as high above her head as possible. The only way we could see her was on the camera screen. Not bad eh?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kate's Perspective

nona made my new bed. it has pink covers. my quilt is pretty. i love nona and papa.

Grandma's Make It Special

Kate is very lucky to have some spectacular grandmothers, and I'm even luckier. As a parent I finally appreciate the purpose of grandma's. Mommies take care of the basics: food, baths, tooth brushing. Grandma's can do these things too, but they do them with so much more style. Grandma's take the time to make stuff special. Grandma's have the things kids really need, not just the basics. For example, it is time for Kate to have a big girl bed. While I would have gotten the job done, mostly with the help of Wal-Mart,Grandma came through with a hand pieced, hand quilted bedspread made just for Kate. It's not just a bedspread, it's love that keeps you warm at night.

And we mustn't forget that Papa painted the bed too. I'll say it again, Kate's one lucky kid, but I'm even luckier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Winter Day

It seems only yesterday we were enjoying the end of fall weather. Last night, however, winter showed up.

I was to drive to Kent today and present at a workshop. I'm particularly frustrated that on a day when I normally would stay home anyway, but on this particular one was scheduled to travel, I am snowed in. However, there are compensations:

Kate had a great time playing in the snow, and stopping every ten minutes to howl, "Snow in my glove, snow in my glove!" at which point I was required to remove my gloves, remove hers and dust all the snow away. Snow angels was a bit of a laborious process, made more so by the dog who is pretty sure he should help us when we are laying on our backs in the snow flapping around like gasping fish. He was really confused when he came to rescue us and we hollered at him to not ruin the angels. Fort Katie looks quite beautiful in the snow.

And my gardens are even more so since the snow means I have no responsibility to them whatsoever.

And what snow adventure is complete without hot chocolate?
In a tiny cup we found in the Christmas decorations. I wanted to hang them on the tree, but Kate was pretty sure they were just her size. You may spot a few tears in this picture. While wool socks are excellent for keeping little feet warm in snow boots, they are terribly slippery on the hardwood floor, and we had a wipeout.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More artists hard a work.

And the finished masterpieces, we've made turkey cupcakes.

Also, for those who need such a thing, the ideal way to complete a secret project for mom, while sitting beside mom: a witch hat with feathered brim. Kate still subscribes to the "if I can't see you, you can't see me" theory.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween

The artist hard a work.

Three happy faces.

We grew these pumpkins, from seed to jack-o-lantern, right here at home. That's a first for us. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Place For Children

I may have made mention here that I am somewhat lacking in the green thumb department. I maintain this is because all the green genes went to my sister. Amy is a master gardener and her husband is a talented landscaper. Not only is her house surrounded by beautiful plants and rocks, but she also put in a natural prairie filled with native plants. It's lovely to look at and also invites climbing.
(It could be that these plants are so healthy because they are the final destination of the poop scooped by the pony riders in the previous post.)

Amy's other ongoing project is a children's garden created and maintained by her group of master gardeners. I've been hearing about this project for several years, but to be honest, I had no idea of the scope of this project. My own children's garden at the library is a 16 X 16 ft. piece of dirt where we plant, weed and harvest during the summer and plant rye in the winter. While I knew Amy's garden would be more elaborate than that, I was not prepared for the reality.

Unfortunately my camera was dead by the time we got there, so I don't have as many pictures as I'd like to. I found the above picture online. You can see the metalwork entry. There is a variety of metal sculptures, all painted bright kid friendly colors. There is a butterfly house.
By the time of our visit, all the butterflies had gone off on their annual Mexican vacation, but I'm assured that they were in residence over the summer. There is a pavilion for programming, a potting shed for obvious purposes, a secret garden complete with sleeping cat, a Japanese garden with bell that the kids can ring, and a mini version of the 100 Acre Wood complete with Eeyore's house and a bee tree. There is a tunnel maze and a sun dial, all kid sized along with a great photo op.

Isn't that the cutest little ladybug ever?

I was frankly amazed. Although we visited very late in the year, there were still lots of plants and flowers, and the structures were lovely. But of course the garden wasn't built for me, so my opinion isn't what matters. What matters is that my kid swept into the place like a mini tsunami and loved every single square foot. The mark of a great place for kids is often whether or not the children need to be told how to enjoy it. Apart from the sun dial, Kate needed no instruction. She flitted from spot to spot like a super excited hummingbird and covered every inch of the place. This is definitely a place for kids.

She took a ride on the rhino and finally came to rest on the butterfly chair.

Good job Aunt Amy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cowgirls Don't Cry...Much

Last weekend we visited my sister, Amy and her husband, Clint. They live in our state, but 3.5 hours away, so we don't get out there as much as we should. Odd because it's really my favorite vacation. There's no stress, no one expects you to be entertaining or show up anywhere at a certain time, and there's even electricity (in contrast to our last vacation).

It's been so long since our last visit, that it was all new to Kate; dogs, horses and all. (Including ours, there were 4 dogs, 2 horses, 1 pony and an indeterminate amount of cats. They hide while we are there, so I'm never sure.) We picked a good weekend to visit. On Saturday we went to the Van Wert Apple Festival, one of those nice, small town fair events with crafters, homemade food and a barrel train. What, you've never seen a barrel train before?

Don't worry, I'd never seen one either. There were about 8 barrels with seats and seat belts installed and pulled by a lawn mower. The guy just put out a donations jar, and took kids all around the fair grounds. My kid was in heaven. There was no yarn or fiber to buy, but I did pick up a cool new purse made from a rag rug. Really.

On Sunday, we went to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo for their Halloween event. Kate got to trick-or-treat, see some of the animals, and pick out a pumpkin to take home. The animals who were not on display due to the cold, were replaced by some lifelike doubles:

They are made from gourds, pumpkins, cornstalks and some rebar. Somebody worked really hard at it. There was a giraffe, an awesome peacock and some crowned cranes that we spent about three full minutes admiring without noticing the live versions walking around behind them. Oops. They also had a corn and hay bale maze. Kate and I worked our way through the cornstalk maze together and then she made it to the center of the short maze all on her own. She was so proud.

Daddy also attempted a death-defying stunt:

Don't worry, he survived. Then Kate found an old friend:

We have taken her picture with this distinguished gentleman every year at the Cleveland Zoo. It was some kind of surprise to find him visiting Fort Wayne at the same time as us. I had to laugh as other families tried to convince their kids to sit with him, and tried to show them where to be, and Kate just scampered up there and parked herself right where she belonged.

So the apple festival and the zoo were really fun, but the highlight of the weekend was really in the barn:

My sister and her husband purchase this little guy, named Booger (Clint has an interesting sense of humor) for his nephew, Kale, to ride. Kale is 3 and generally wants to get down after 10 minutes or so. Clint put Kate up there and started walking around the barn and I had to tell him that she wasn't going to ask him to stop. If he was waiting for her to be done, he'd be walking all night. And Clint was more than happy to walk most of the evening. **Brace yourself, I'm about to brag on my kid** So we put Kate's hands on the saddle horn and told her to hang on tight. After a few rounds, Booger did a little pony dance and Kate came out of the saddle. I looked up to see my kid hanging off the side of him like a little leech. She would NOT let go. Clint grabbed her up and brought her over to us. She had a scrape on her belly and was crying a little. I made sure she was OK and said the classic line, "Now, if you want to be a real cowgirl, you need to get back on and ride some more." And guess what, she DID. I'm beyond proud. Seriously, I'm convinced this is one of the defining moments of my parenting life. My kid literally, not figuratively, climbed back on the horse that bucked her off. She might turn out OK after all.

And in the same "learning experience" vein, Kate also paid for her ride each night by helping Uncle Clint scoop the horse poop. Here she is with Kale carrying the bucket from pile to pile.

So we all enjoyed the weekend immensely, aside from Karl who had some trouble working out which of the dogs was in charge and whose butt he should not sniff. (oooh TMI?)

On Monday, before we left, Amy took us to the Children's Garden she has helped create. Trust me, it needs it own blog entry. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

O Canada

1:00 AM - Leave home, husband driving, child sleeping.

4:30 AM - Arrive at international border, and enter Canada carrying two kayaks, vast array of camping equipment and rather large dog.

8:00 AM - Wake child for Canadian national breakfast...Tim Horton's doughnuts in Orillia, Ontario.

9:00 AM - Arrive in Trout Creek, Ontario at the Brobst family vacation villa:

Cozy isn't it? Wait, wait, you haven't seen the cooking and dining area:

My family's been coming here for fifty years, and the cabin's been there nearly as long. My Grandfather built it one rainy summer with the help of the whole family. This was my daughter's first visit, and despite the constant rain and rather cool temperatures, she had a great time.

On Saturday, we enjoyed a soggy hike with Aunt Hazel and Diane before they went home, and also visited the historic Commanda Store on the final day of their season. We did a few crafts in the children's area and enjoyed tea and butter tarts. This former general store is interesting in that, when my grandparents first starting visiting Trout Creek, this was still a store, and now it's a museum. I recommend the butter tarts.

On Sunday Kate and her daddy took their maiden voyage in their new kayak.

At last, Rick and I both get to kayak and no one is stuck in a canoe. He says it's not too slow to paddle, although he's still playing with the set of the seat to get the balance right. We went up the South River to this chute.

Kate was a very good little voyager. She saw a beaver, a tree full of buzzards, and chatted with her Papa on the two-way radio. She even went potty in the woods for the first time without complaint. (Of course she's been asking to pee outside for nearly a year because her boy cousins do it all the time, so she should have been excited.)

After our paddle the rain set in, for the next few days. Kate went moose spotting every evening with her grandparents, and spotted one the very first night. We paid North Bay a visit on Monday, and again on Tuesday to use the laudromat and show Mom and Dad what we found. After years of admiring Lake Nipissing we discovered a second, smaller lake to the East of the city. On Trout Lake, we found the Green Store, a good source of souvenirs, fudge and ice cream. Sitting on their porch licking our ice cream cones, Kate spotted her first Canadian Loon, a momentous event for any Brobst child. She and her papa also found a unique photo opportunity.

What with the nasty weather, Nona had to resort to a variety of methods to keep Kate busy. Behold, home made bubble machines.

(Is it just me, or do they look like equal amounts of fun are being had?)

On Wednesday, my mom and I took Kate to visit Misty Haven Alpacas. We both wanted to buy some yarn while on vacation, and discovered this lovely little business online. I was able to contact the proprietor and arrange a visit. We both bought some great yarn, but the best part of the place, by far was the owner, a fellow librarian, sitting down on the floor and reading a story to my kid while we shopped. Anyone who pays that kind of attention to my (sometimes overly) inquisitive kid is the best kind of person in my book. (And she's got great taste in books too. Check it out.)

Yarn and roving in hand, Rick and I decided we'd better take Kate home. The rain and the mud were getting a bit much for us, so we set off around 9:00 PM and got home around 5:00 AM. It was a rough drive, lots of construction and we were very tired, but it was great to be home. As a bonus, we didn't tell anyone but parents that we were home, so we kind of hid out in the house for a few days and enjoyed the rest of the vacation at home.

Kate had a great time on her first visit to the cabin, and I'm sure she will be back. Here she is on the swing Papa built just for her last year. (Incidentally, she's also wearing the hat I was knitting on the drive up. It's knit from the yarn she dyed herself. It was great to have it, as it was rather cold. Unfortunately, the main color of the hat is white, and main color of Canadian mud is...not.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

August blew past me at the speed of light. Here are some things I want to remember about that crazy month:

1. A convention of yellow butterflies have spend the last few weeks meeting at the end of the driveway. Each day, when I drive home I'm met with a flurry of yellow joy, no matter what happened that day. Is someone trying to tell me something?

2. We always knew Kate was a princess. Turns out she's of the Arabian variety.

(Great Lakes Medieval Fair)

3. I and my daughter are truly blessed in our friends. My friend Diana arranged a dyeing day, in which I and my four-year-old learned to dye yarn with kool-aid. Here's a sample of Kate's work.

4. I own possibly the most patient dog on the planet.

(Kate was also dressed as a princess.)

5. The garden has been bountiful.

This is possibly the largest green pepper I've ever seen in real life.

6. Karl loves kids almost as much as they love him.

It's been a good month.

Monday, July 26, 2010

People are funny.

Human beings are funny creatures, filled with habits that serve no purpose and assumed responsibilities where none exist. Kate and I set out today to pick blueberries. My grandmother has three well established blueberry bushes that she doesn't use so we went out there to clean them up. There weren't many so we decided to check the black raspberry bushes. We've always picked them in the same place at Gram's so I visited all the usual spots. No luck there. I figured when we got home we'd use some frozen blueberries to round out the pie. When we got home Kate and I checked out our home blueberry bushes, since we were thinking about it. These were planted last year and are still in the growing stages. We've picked about a cup over the summer, but that is more than we expected. As I'm bending over the cages around the blueberry bushes, I looked up and there, not a foot from my face is a perfectly ripe blackberry.

Yup, drove 10 miles and fed a bunch of horseflies to look for what was in my backyard, cause we "always pick berries at Gram's." Am I in a rut? Anyway, we did add a few frozen berries, including some strawberries to make a delicious smelling pie. I spent some time thinking that I should make a scratch pie crust, but then I decided a store bought crust pie was better than no pie at all, which would have been the case. It was a toss up between shaming my family with a pillsbury crust or shocking them by wasting fresh fruit. I picked the option that included pie. Kate insisted it be a smiling pie as well.

After the pie went in the oven we went out to investigate what else was in the garden. I got two more tomatoes, a big green pepper, and ... more zucchini. We have two plant. I'm to the point in the season when I'm letting them get entirely too big because that means there will be less zucchini over all. However big zucchini are not as appetizing as tiny tender ones. I should just let them go, or ever pull out the plants, but will I... That would be a waste of food silly. Of course I won't. So what do we do with giant zuchs? Well, I cut them up, clean out the seeds, shred them and freeze them. Did you know the inside of a zucchini smells vaguely like the inside of a pumpkin. You can definitely tell they are related. Put up 8 quarts today, and after all that, here's what's left.

These will most likely go to feed the chickens at my parents, cause I can only use so much frozen zucchini. But they won't go to waste. That would be against my genetic imperative. Is anyone else this wound up over fresh produce, or is it just me. Here's the punchline... nobody in my family cares in the least. It's all in my head. The inside of my skull is it's own little theme park, what can I say. This is the same brain that passes over the quality wool in my stash to use up the gross acrylic, just so it will be gone. Life with me is such fun.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The other...

The weather has been hotter than blue blazes, the perfect time to finish a knitted blanket right? Of course. Here is Kate's new blanket. She chose the colors herself, and I labeled it painfully pink. I've spent most of my time since we first found out Kate was a girl fighting the pink thing. I hate pink. Her room is painted yellow, and her crib set was green. I informed everyone who was invited to my showers that I hated pink, and yet, four years later, the kids adores pink. What's a mommy to do, but provide.

The pattern is based on an idea from Mason Dixon Knitting and was dictated by how tired I was of each particular color at the time. It's knit from basic red heart acrylic because if Kate actually uses it, it'll need to be washable and durable.

I'm now working on a cotton tank top that will probably be done just in time for Christmas, cause that's how I roll.

We had a big old storm last night, and I'll sign off the same way the storm did, with a rainbow.

If you look very closely you can just see the ghost of a second rainbow a little to the right.


The summer fun continues. We took Kate to Lake Erie last Sunday with all her grandparents. When we arrived she got to try her hand at fishing.

Aside from her daddy thinking she was going to cast herself in to water along with the rod, she did pretty well. She absolutely loves fishing the way any kids does who's never actually pulled one out of the water and had to deal with all the flapping and gasping. After she got tired of fishing, we headed for the beach.
She had a lovely time splashing in the water and playing in the sand. Just like most kids she tried to take the whole beach home with her. We managed to limit her to one bucket of rocks and all the sand she could carry inside her bathing suit. We had to use the hose to clean her off when we got back to the cottage. Do you think she enjoyed herself?

On Monday Kate earned enough stickers on the chore chart to go letterboxing, our new hobby. After a few false starts on a badly marked trail, we followed the clues and got another stamp for our notebook. Here's the face of a kid who has no idea what poison ivy looks like. (It was everywhere, but that was Monday, and we haven't gotten it yet, so we got really lucky.)

And yesterday we enjoyed a picnic in Kate's new fort. What fun!

Happy Summer!


The weather is hot, hot and hotter. And for the last few days the heat is punctuated by downpours and thunderstorms. The humans are not enjoying this weather much, considering we are without air conditioning. The house becomes nearly unlivable by late afternoon and we are forced to eat out or find a place to swim. The plants, however, are LOVING the weather. Observe:

Stargazer Lily's, my pride and joy. And the banana peppers are outweighing the plants. I've yet to have any idea what we are going to do with them.

The other produce however, I know just what to do with that...

Eat it as fast as possible. Yum. At least now, no matter what happens, we can't say we didn't get ANY tomatoes out of the garden.

Other things are enjoying the hot sticky weather as well. I found this little guy under my laundry basket in the basement. No idea how he got there, but he was safely delivered to the pond after a short stint in Kate's bug box for observation.
A small, shiny red salamander, I squealed pretty good when I found him, but I didn't stomp him into the tile, so he got off pretty easy. If you read here often you'll have found that most things of the wildlife variety are pretty safe with me, at least as opposed to my husband who's reactions are usually more along the lines of "kill 'em all and check if they are dangerous later."