Monday, June 28, 2010


Incoming!: A phrase used most often in action movies of the military variety to signify the imminent arrival of something moving fast and able to cause significant damage.

I've always loved barn swallows. They are fairly common around here, in fact we have a picnic shelter in front of our house, and a family of swallows just fledged from there in the last week or so. We were made aware of this fact when a large picnic was held there, and the entire extended swallow family spent the whole picnic sitting on our power line griping about it. They have beautiful coloring, but the most significant thing about barn swallows for me is their acrobatics in flight. They feed on insects that they catch on the fly, and they are a joy to watch zipping over a field, diving and weaving. Say what you want about peregrine falcons, barn swallows get my vote for the avian version of the blue angels. Probably one of the reasons, besides ample nesting space, that the swallows gravitate toward barns is that they've learned that a tractor mowing hay scares up significant amounts of insects, making for an easy meal. For lack of a local tractor, our swallows have decided that my lawn mower can offer up an easy feast as well. The last time I mowed, I spent the whole time ducking and twitching as they practically dive bombed me. I admit, I was all the more twitchy due to the knowledge that most of these daredevils were newly born this year. That's right, I was at the center of a cloud of teenage daredevil pilots. I may need a helmet to mow the lawn next time.


As you can probably tell by the blog, I'm really enjoying the garden this year. Things are going pretty well so far, and no major disasters have occurred. (Like rabbits, or deer, or beetles or blight) However, the real panic doesn't set in until the garden starts producing faster than we can eat it. I never have time to cook or preserve my harvest the moment it is ready. More often I have to wait until a weekend and then try to resurrect stuff that should have been dealt with on Tuesday. And of course the first and most frequent producer: Zucchini. I took these pictures today.


Yesterday I sat down for the first time and seriously tried out my new hobby. I'm teaching myself to spin on a spindle. There were some cool moments, some frustrating moments. I won't deny that I used a bad word or two, and had to be reminded by my husband several times that "This is supposed to be fun." Kate also learned that she can't help me spin the spindle and she can't attempt to climb in my lap while I'm working. At one point she actually got tangled up in the roving and it stuck to her hair. But at the end of the day...I have a new hobby.


And finally:


Katie's Pictures

My green dress is really really stripy. I wear shoes under it. I like it so much.

These are my sand statues. They are colored. Mommy and I made them today. Aunt Chrissy gave them to me for Christmas. They have corks to hold the sand in. I think they are very pretty. They are plastic. I am putting them with other important things in the dining room.

This climbing wall is for me to climb. Me and my daddy built it. It's attached to my fort. I use my hands and feet to climb up. I'm going to move lots of stuff into my fort.

Mommy says I can type a little now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Losers, vol. 1: Ante Up The Losers, vol. 1: Ante Up by Andy Diggle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm in love. I admit, I read this in preparation for the movie, but even if the film gets the characters absolutely perfect, there's no way it can compete with the visuals in this GN. The story is simple enough so I didn't lose the thread in all the action, but Aisha's storyline brings enough mystery so that I'm not bored. (And by the way, best entrance by a female lead EVER.) The sarcastic humor is just right for a bunch of fatalistic guys who've gotten over the whole fearing death thing and are just gettin on with what needs done. (Favorite line, Jensen: Hack this Mo@#$%%^^) But really it's all about the look of the thing. The highly angled cover shots of the whole team, bristling with weaponry are awesome, and each character is so clearly delineated via clothes, expressions, and mannerisms you feel like you know exactly who they are at first glance. Seriously, I don't think I saw Cougar's face anywhere in the volume except on the cover, and I'm still half in love with just a hat, a chin and a ponytail. I gotta find me book 2.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

So we've created a Father's Day tradition without really meaning to. Yesterday we took the boats up to the Cuyahoga River in Mantua and paddled up and back for a bit. The weather was exceptionally warm, the deer flies were biting and the current was strong, but we managed a few nice moments. Mom and Dad were in their kayaks. I would dearly love to have been in mine, but there is little room for a four-year-old in there with me. Sigh, the sacrifices we make to be parents. Kate had a good time apart from her aversion to damsel flies. We didn't tell her about this one.

And on the way back to the van she took my seat and practiced paddling.

As we were now headed downstream, she was pretty impressed with how fast we were moving. "Mommy must really be a wimp. We were moving so slow when she sat here."


The bees have left us, less than three hours after they arrived. It's for the best as my husband indeed headed for the raid as soon as I mentioned them. I hope they are safely ensconced in a hollow tree or other safe place by now. Good luck, you will be missed, but are undoubtedly better off.

Also, I hope you appreciated my technological prowess in uploading my very first videos. Yay me.

Once in a lifetime

I'm not exactly an apiarist, but via my family I've had some contact with bees for most of my life. We've got lots of stories; how Grandma swelled up after mowing in front of the hives and getting stung too much, how my aunt and uncle used our kitchen table to extract honey before they gave it to us and it was so encrusted in sticky that we couldn't believe it was the same one when it went into the kitchen. My mother has gone along on many projects with my dad, but honey extraction is one of the few that puts that "never again" look on her face. (I think only the chicken butchering was worse.) I even had a swarm of bees move into the wall of my room when I was a kid. They hummed me to sleep at night, and in the summer when it got hot, honey ran down the wallpaper. But today I saw something I've never seen before, and may never again: bees in the act of swarming.
We've always had lots of bees at our house, something I take some pride in when honey bees are vanishing all over the place. (Completely misplaced pride, by the way. I don't raise the bees, so it's either complete luck that they are here, or someone is raising them very close to our property.) I took the presence of the bees and the frogs and toads in our yard as a good sign, since all three species are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human error. Our house must be some kind of oasis. So, today, as Kate and I stood at the kitchen sink cleaning strawberries, I wasn't surprised to hear her say, "Mommy, look at the bees." Bees are not rare around here, but these bees were not out for an afternoon stroll. They were flying much too high off the ground, and there were way too many for a usual afternoon. I got a little suspicious and wandered outside to see what was up. I watched them begin to swarm together on a tall weed outside my bedroom window. It was like they just melted from a big cloud into a smaller and smaller blob until they looked...well, like this.

When they looked like they had settled in for the duration, I started making phone calls. I started with my mom, (she knows everything right?) Then I called my Aunt who is currently raising bees, and while she's too far away to get to these guys before they fly away, is a great source of info. Then I moved on to the county extension office. They are a reliable source of info on most subjects. They gave me a phone number, which I called and left a message. If anyone is interested in these guys, they should call me back. What I'm looking for is a beekeeper in the area who will come and take these guys and put them in a hive. If that doesn't happen, they will probably find a place of their own in the wild. In the mean time, Kate and I are continuously peeking out the bedroom window at them. According to Aunt Hazel, they may fly the coop at any time, or spend the night there. Personally I'm hoping they bug out (hee hee) before my husband gets home and I have to have the "why we shouldn't spray them with raid" discussion. Obviously he doesn't have quite the same views as I do about bees.

And then, as if the day wasn't exciting enough, I was sneaking another peep at the bees when this strolled through my back yard:

That is a wild turkey; a tom from what I could see, just wandering through my back yard like he did it every day. (Maybe he does. This is my day off, maybe everyday while I'm at work is like this; bees and turkeys and such, but I doubt it.)

So, including the peck and quarter of strawberries now freezing in the basement, it's been a banner day 'round here; probably not to be repeated in my lifetime, and as a proud mom I can't help but point out that it was Kate who spotted the bees.

Incidentally and in the spirit of honesty, I will tell you that I left out the family story where I stepped on a bee when I was about 7, got stung, and screamed so loud and long that the neighbors showed up to see who was killing me. That story didn't seem to fit the vein of my narrative somehow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sorry about the bragging

I just can't help it. This is the first year I have managed to stay ahead of the weeds this far into the year, so I see flowers blooming rather than giant weeds. I can't quite contain myself.

After a year of waiting, I learned that my hollyhock blooms yellow.

The Asiatic lilies show their characteristic brightness.

The day lilies are getting a good foothold this year.

And oddly enough the most photogenic thing in the garden is not a bloom. It's that curly garlic. I am posting these pics because I can see the weeds creeping up on me. I'm keeping ahead of them by the skin of my teeth. My downfall is imminent. The cherry tomatoes are even showing signs of blight already. June is WAY too early for that, so all my efforts may come to naught. It may seem like bragging now, but I'll need this encouragement in July when things start to go South fast.

Kate's artistic expression

Mommy let me take some more pictures.

This is the 'mote control. It has lots of colors. We need it to turn on the TV. It also turns off the TV, but I don't like that as much. It belongs to me and my mommy and daddy (but mostly to daddy.) It is shaped like a rectangle and it's long and skinny. It picks the channels that we want to watch. It is on a footstool that rocks. I am not allowed to play on the rocking footstool. It gives me boo boos.

This is my ball. It's really really red, and it's really really round.

I call this one "Yellow". I really like it.

Mommy is knitting this blanket for me. It's really really pink. Mommy does not really really like it. She really really does not like pink, but she does like me.

The end.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Touring the yard with Kate

Mommy and I like to go on safari in our yard, and this time she let me take pictures.

Here is my playground. Daddy built it and put up swings for me and my cousins, but I don't like my swing, I like Alex's best.

I built this wind sock with Nona and Papa. Isn't it pretty. I made sure it is pink, cause that's the only color I like.

Look, Mommy and I are growing sunflowers.

Daddy built something in the yard for Mommy to play with too. She seems to play with it a lot. I help by handing her pins.

Doesn't she look happy?

Look, isn't that a pretty blue shoe?
Well, that's today's safari, maybe next time we'll see a zebra.

Kate's New Friends

Kate met some great new friends at the Great Lakes Fiber Show.

We liked the sheep and the alpaca.

But Kate preferred the bunnies.