Saturday, March 31, 2007


My friend Tammy, at “It’s a Wonderful Life” is hosting a new meme, so here is my contribution to “Milestone Monday” While this is not a current milestone in the life of our family, it is a moment engraved on my heart & never fails to bring a smile. 

As I’ve referred to several times, we are involved in Scottish Country Dancing- all three of us take lessons weekly, while Sam & I frequently perform at various Highland Games throughout the season. Four years ago, when he was 12 years old, Sam attended his first Children’s Ball, which was held near Christmas time. He looked so handsome, dressed in his Black Watch kilt, tuxedo shirt & bow tie; I remember thinking how much he had grown-up, seemingly overnight. I was working with the other mothers, setting up the tables for tea, when I heard the music cues to form new sets for the next dance; I paused to watch the children, ages 6 to 16, dressed in their Christmas finery, find partners & line up to begin.

That’s when I saw Sam; he walked over to a young lady sitting on the sidelines of the dance floor. She was a bashful & timid girl, & my heart stopped as I watched Sam bow politely & hold out his hand to her, and then led her to the dance floor. I stood transfixed as they went through the dance, watching these young people swinging & flowing through the figures, smiling at & encouraging one another. My eyes filled with tears as I watched Sam escort his shy little partner back to her seat, bow again, then bring her some punch & cookies- this was my little boy, being so kind & gracious, behaving like the gentleman I hoped he would become. What a gift, to be given a glimpse of man is would someday be, & to know that we have done something right in raising him.

In other Garden news, West High JV Tennis did respectably at the tournament this weekend, placing 7th overall- this is a real achievement, as up until 8 weeks ago, these boys had never really played tennis before. Chris & I went to watch for a couple of hours (probably the only time I will- the tension was too much for me :P), then headed back to do a little spit & swipe of the house before picking up our new exchange student, Kenta. He is a very outgoing & friendly boy, but with very limited English skills- we have been playing “dueling dictionaries” all weekend in order to communicate, but all in good fun. The boys hit it off right away, sharing a love of video games (duh) & martial arts.

The other excitement came Sunday morning, when Kristy, Chris’ sister-in-law, arrived for a fly-by visit with all four children in tow- Mary (8), Bailey (6), Parker (5), & Tristan (9 mo). They showed up at church during first service- Chris was an usher this week & was suddenly tackled by the three older kids in the lobby. They joined us for the rest of the first service & through the Worship set of second service, then we headed over to the park for a picnic & good chin-wag. They were on their way back home to Oregon, having come down to visit Kristy’s grandparents, so the kids ran around to burn off some energy, while I played with the baby & Kristy shared the latest stories of the kids. Dave (Chris’ brother), Kristy, & the three older kids all take Tae Kwan Do, & she shared the funniest story about Parker. He is a little pistol & has attitude to spare; this particular evening at class, he was feeling pretty ornery- another student, a boy about 13, was walking by & Parker decided to trip him, which caused the boy to hit his elbow & head against the wall. The older boy reported this event (Parker described it as “tattling”) to the instructor, who pulled Parker aside & admonished him for his actions; he told Parker to “Go to J & tell him you are sorry.” Parker then put his hands on his hips, gave the instructor the gimlet eye, & stated very loudly; “First of all, I’m not; second, I’m five, so J needs to get over it!Lordy, McGordy! They have their hands full with that one- I would have never let my kids get away with it, but Kristy has a different parenting style; I’m just thankful that they live in Oregon & I don’t have to be around the kids too often, otherwise I would have to say something & probably start a family feud. We saw them off around 1:00, blessed quiet once again descending on our little oasis; I love my family, but I’ve outgrown the frenetic energy of young children & am repeatedly thankful for the kindness of distance.



Friday, March 23, 2007

Coming & Going

“Drake the Dryer” drama has not been the only activity in the Garden this week; Chris has returned home, Sam has made it out of the pool onto the ladder, & our new family member is arriving tomorrow. Currently, Drake is residing in the back room of the store where he was purchased, awaiting arrival of parts to complete his repairs; the store manager was at our house within an hour of the last phone call, to escort Drake to his temporary quarters. Since the pressure is off of me & monetary compensation is in the works, I’m willing to let them repair him- but if there is the least little hiccup, watch out Frigidaire.

My better half returned Wednesday afternoon; he spent the past two weeks, living & working, on a motor home lot… next a freeway… in Florida. To say he is glad to be home, even with all the aggravation of the Dryer Saga, would be a gross understatement. The first thing he did when he walked in the house was to swing his arms around randomly & observe that nothing fell over. He then went upstairs, laid down on the bed (yes, the one he missed noticing for 10 days after the last trip) & repeated a reverent mantra, “Mybedmybedmybed…” After a half-hearted peck on my cheek, he admitted he had a raging migraine, so I prescribed a long shower, a couple ibuprofens & sleep; when he awoke the following morning, he was feeling more human & decided to walk with Sam to school. He is off work until Monday, but unfortunately, doesn’t have my capacity for true laziness- since yesterday, he has mowed both lawns, pulled weeds, done the laundry, vacuumed both floors, & cleaned the bathroom- all in addition to dealing with the dryer problem. He has called me twice this morning- first time to ask if I had any errands needing to be done, the second to see if I was coming home for lunch- he has already read the paper, washed the dishes, & taken a walk, so I suggested visiting his mortician friend or taking a sleeping pill. The man needs to learn how to relax.

I’ve referred to the fact that, while he is on the tennis team in school, Sam is a beginning player, just learning the game. Therefore, his position on the team is “member of the JV pool”- a grand title for a benchwarmer. The seven members of the  “Pool” are only used when a ranked player is unable to play; the only way to get out of the “Pool” is to earn a ranking by winning matches against other teammates. So the sum total of Sam’s three weeks or so on the team has been going to practice, doing conditioning, & playing games within the team. He practices every chance he gets- last Saturday, instead of heading to the mall, he was out on the courts for five hours, playing challenge matches with his “Pool” mates. It seems to be paying off, because last night, after taking team pictures & having their regular practice, coach told him he is now 4th ranked on the JV ladder & gets to play in the two-day JV tournament in Oakley. Man, that kid was stoked! I met him at the school right after practice, while taking my walk yesterday, & all the way home (about 1 ¼ miles) he smiling, talking, & jumping up around. The tourney is all day today & tomorrow, so Sam was up early packing a lunch & snacks to take & was at the school by 7:10 to meet the bus. He left a message on my voicemail at work that they would be playing longer then originally planned & won’t be back in town until 5:00 pm- I guess that means he & his partner haven’t been eliminated yet. Chris & I are planning on following the bus up to Oakley in the morning, so we can (hopefully) watch him play a little & get some pictures for the grandparents, before our new student arrives in the afternoon.

I think we have nearly everything ready for Kenta. When Yuki was here last summer, Sam had bunk beds in his room; now he has just a platform bed. We have a queen-sized raised Aerobed we use when company comes, so Sam & I got out the graph paper & tape measures (we are math geeks, after all), plotted, planned, & rearranged his room several times last week, trying to make it work, but it’s too big to fit comfortably. So I bought a twin-sized regular Aerobed that Sam will use (which will come in handy later, when Sam has friends over) & Chris is fashioning a temporary platform so he doesn’t have to drop from 3 foot above the mattress to lie down. Towels are washed, a couple of drawers are emptied, & a case of Top Ramen is stashed in the garage (Yuki & the other students loved that stuff!) This is going to be a whirlwind visit- I doubt they will have enough time to recover from jet lag before they are heading back. I think we’re going to keep it pretty low key- no great adventures, just hanging around the house, wander around the mall, maybe dinner out one night. The good thing about the short length of the stay is no one will have time to get too attached, so hopefully, the going away party won’t be the “Cry Fest” it was last summer.

Well, I’m going to head home early today- I find I’m in need of a little nap while the house is reasonably quiet & devoid of teenaged bodies; I wonder where Chris has wandered off…


I need to vent

Forgive the following tirade, but I’m so mad, I’m practically spitting nails.

You know I just bought a new washer/dryer set; you also know that the dryer came out of the box making a grinding noise while running. Frigidaire arranged for one of their repair people to come to my house today to fix it. I took a half day off work, since it was one of those aggravating “between 1:00 & 5:00 pm” appointments; the guy showed up at 5:30 pm- this is not boding well.

I showed him the machine, turn it on to demonstrate the problem, & let him have at it; 10 minutes later, he asked if he could use the table to set up his computer. Uh, sure- why not? Well, evidently, he can’t find the model listed in able to order the needed parts.

“You need to order parts? It’s a brand new machine.” He replied that the entire bearing assembly needs to be replaced, since some sort of shaft has been bent.

“How long will that take?” His reply- March 30th… ten days from now… & I can’t use the machine. Not acceptable.

I call the store where I bought it & ask to speak to the manager; I explain the situation & tell him I want a new machine delivered ASAP. He asks if the repair man will be able to fix the one already here; I let him know that is not the issue- I paid him over $600 for a new, working dryer, not a new machine in need of work. He told me he would get me a loaner machine out by Thursday, call Frigidaire to arrange for another service company to get the repair done sooner & argue with them to get me a new machine. I told him “Fine- I will expect your call in tomorrow,”; he hemmed & hawed that he didn’t know how long it would take to settle everything, blah-blah-blah; I said “I will expect a call from you tomorrow.”

I sent the repair guy out the door, thanking him politely for his time, closed the door, & promptly burst into tears. I hate it when people try to take advantage of me, & really hate any kind of conflict. I go out of my way to keep the peace, so being (politely) forceful & assertive like that was very difficult & stressful. I couldn’t call Chris & tell him about it, because he would just feel helpless & frustrated he can’t ride in to save the day (he is very protective of me, even though I don’t usually feel I need protecting.) I sat on the bed, crying & sniffling, when sweet Poppy jumped up next to me & began rubbing my arm with her head; I reached over to pet her & she stretched up to my face, purring & sniffing my hair- we call it “Poppy Blessing”- then settled down next to me. What a dear animal- I’m blessed to have her in our home.

Anyway, that’s my rant; I took a walk & prayed about it, so I’m feeling better, but I’m still pretty angry, so thanks for listening.

3/21/07 10:00 am Update: Had a message from the Frigidaire distributor this morning, saying he was calling to explain their warranty/returns policy, & that he'd call back this afternoon- He didn't leave his phone number, the big weenie!

3:45 pm: Big weenie calls back- I'm at my desk this time- chunters on about "warrenty say repair or replace" they need to see if it can be repaired first, etc. End result- no new machine yet. Store manager calls- have contacted new repair guy who will come tomorrow, & loaner dryer will be at my house before 6:00 pm- he says the magic words "We will compensate you for all your trouble"

6:00 pm: Loaner is installed & working, Lemon is in garage awaiting service; second repair guy calls & will be here between 10 & 12 tomorrow morning (Chris is back, so he gets the duty- besides, he makes more than I do, so they can compensate us on his pay :P)

3/22/07 7:30 am: Big, Bad Chris is back on the job- he's had 12 hours of sleep & the full story related to him, so he has decreed "I'll handle this from now on" I am scurrying off to work & the White Knight is in charge!

10:25 am: Oh-oh; second repair guy has shown up- evidently, he's none too bright, because he was very rude to Chris (8 inches taller & 45 lbs heavier)- Won't work on the Lemon because it's not hooked up to the gas line; Chris explained it was the motor, not the heating, & guy told him he didn't know "sh*t" & stormed off. Chris has called store & talked to manager- manager is now torqued- says he will come & personally get machine from our house, haul repair guy #2 over by the short-hairs & have him work on machine at the store. Chris said he was ready to haul it down there himself- I told him not to even touch the Lemon- I'm not having them try to blame us for any damage!

More Arrivals

Well, our new resident has been accept & assimilated into the Garden staff; I wish I had been able to get a picture of Daisy, taking a nap right next to him, but every time I turned on the camera, she woke up & stalked off. He is currently hanging out on the picnic table in the backyard, enjoying the sun & hopefully getting acquainted with Fred; I plan on settling him among the vegetable in the raised bed. I haven’t named him yet- I was toying around with Percy or Jeeves, but I’m open to suggestions.

The weather has remained comfortably warm this weekend, so we took full advantage of it; Sam & I walked over to the gym Saturday morning for a workout, then I got my hanging baskets planted with the new purchases, while Sam went over to the tennis courts to practice with some teammates. A cold front is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday; of course, Chris will be coming home on Wednesday & will be greeted by temps in the low 60’s & rain, poor thing. I talked to him tonight & he is soooo ready to be home; he has worked 13 of the past 14 days, & will have at least one day off when he gets home- maybe two or even possibly a long weekend.

The first big event of the weekend was the arrival of our new washer & dryer; let me introduce Wally the Washer & Drake the Dryer!


Why do they have masculine names? Because around here, cleaning is a gender-neutral activity; besides, most of the clothes going thru them will belong to men. (Notice the stainless steel interior & the drying rack- YIPPEE!!!)The installers came right on schedule & were done within an hour, including hauling out my old set. The only wrinkle in the whole process is that Drake is making occasional scraping noises while running; the store manager already has a call into Frigidaire to get a technician out to fix or replace it.

The second big event was a visit from my friend who coordinates the exchange student program. Yes, you guessed it- we will be having another short-term student. This will be a really short visit; the students arrive this Saturday & will return on April 3rd. The boy we will be hosting is 14 years old, has taken 3 years of English, & practices the martial art of Kendo (which Sam tinkers in) & enjoys playing tennis. I’m sure the boys will get along famously, but if not, it’s only for 10 days.

Beyond that, it has been a quiet couple of days, for which I’m truly grateful. I’ve been able to work on the church quilt a bit, since I had to miss the meeting last Tuesday- between work, getting my haircut, & hauling clothes to the Laundromat, I just couldn’t swing it. I did decide to buy a second, small sewing machine, to use at the quilting group- my Pfaff is a great machine & I love sewing with it, but it weights over 30 lbs, so it isn’t very portable. I also did a little knitting, finishing the first of my Tofutsie toe-up socks & starting the second one. The highlight of the day was taking a nice, long nap, with the girls spread out around the bed. Ahhh, the simple pleasures; Thank you Lord, for the peaceful moments & rest You give.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hey, Mom...

Look what followed me home from the nursery yesterday; can I keep him?

I took a vacation day (yes, officially- with full knowledge of my activities by my boss) to attend the first Garden Club meeting of the year, which was a field trip to replace plants lost in the freeze this winter. It was such a lovely day; the temperature hovered around 78˚ all day, clear & sunny, with just enough of a breeze to be comfortable.

I went looking for new plants for my planters on the front porch, which is deeply shaded but subject to the notorious Tracy winds. I picked up two varieties of Coleus in red & light green; Lysimachia- light green trailing plant; Variegated Ground Ivy; white Sweet Alyssum; white Lobelia; German Chamomile; & a great looking Geranium with variegated leaves & red blooms.  

While wandering through the lawn ornaments, this charming fellow peeked out at me from under some ferns. I couldn’t resist & practically snatched him up unto my wagon; all the ladies were jealously admiring him, but I found the only one that day.

After we stopped for a late lunch & returned back to town, I dropped off my purchases at the house; the girls were quite funny to watch, as they circled, sniffed, & examined our statue friend.  Dahlia went as far as to take submissive posture in front of him, reaching out tentatively to touch his paw.


I then headed out to find a washer & dryer set. Have you ever gone out, with the express purpose of spending money, & couldn’t find anyone that would take it? I went to four stores, talked to five salesmen, before I found one who would sell me what I wanted & could deliver before April 1st. Surprisingly, it was a little independent appliance store that I went into on a whim; it had just opened a couple of weeks ago & I didn’t figure they would have anything in my price range. Lesson learned: never assume; not only did they have a set in my budget, with the features I wanted, but they could deliver as soon as Friday! Of course, I couldn’t take off more time this week without having to work on the weekend, so they are scheduled to install the set Saturday afternoon.

The only side effect of my day off was a rather concerned phone call from my credit card company. You see, I normally only charge around $75 a month & pay it off within two weeks; in one day, I was in three different cities, five different businesses, & spent over $1000- they called to make sure my card hadn’t been stolen! I had to sheepishly admit, no- those were all my charges, but thanks for your concern. When I talked to Chris last night & told him about the spending spree, his only question was, “How many hours of over-time am I going to have to work to pay it off?” That’s my guy, ever the pragmatist.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pleasant Surprises all Around

We had an enjoyable, albeit event-full, weekend, with the added bonus of truly spring-like weather.
Saturday was Filming Day for the Scottish Country Dance DVD. We headed out of here at 8:45 to meet the others in Livermore; for a change, all the parents had their kids there on time, with all their clothes & shoes, ready to carpool over to the Peninsula. I drove, along with 2 other moms & our class teacher; the only little hiccup happened when we got to the Bridge & I realized that I didn’t have enough money for the toll. We were scrabbling around the car, trying to gather enough change to make $4 (there was no turnout at this point & the tollgate doesn’t take cards). I felt like a real dweeb in front of the kids & will be receiving a bill for $29 by mail.
I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly everything went with the recording. These types of performance events tend to have too many chiefs & too few Indians; my main concern (beyond boredom-inspired wiggles while waiting our turn), was a bunch of “well-meaning” stage mom’s & advise givers, overloading the kids with advice & corrections just before their turn. We came prepared to run interference, but nary was a comment heard, aside from one young man, who lent Sam a sporran, letting him know that the tops of his kilt hose were uneven.
I was quite proud of our kids- they were dressed, warmed up, & had completed a walk-through on their own before they were called to the stage. They walked on quickly & quietly, formed up their sets, & were ready before the sound & camera people were. We were told to count on spending at least two hours on the kids’ section; even with a walk-through, two rehearsals with music, & two takes of each figure, from both the front & the side of the sets, they were done, congratulations given, clothes changed, snacks eaten, & back on the road in 1 ½ hours. Those kids are professionals! Sam & I were back home by 2:00 & decided to go to Texas Roadhouse for lunch/dinner. Boy-o-boy-o-boy, was that some gooood grub!
I had every intention of going to church Sunday morning; I got up, showered, then went to get some clothes out of the dryer. They were still wet. I hollered up to Sam, telling him he had forgotten to turn on the dryer- he said he did…twice.
I turned it on- it started spinning, but no heat. FLAP! I had two loads of wet work & school clothes; the pilot light wouldn’t light, even after cleaning, so basically, the dryer is toast.
I pulled on jeans & a t-shirt, loaded the baskets with wet clothes, & headed to the Laundromat for the first time in 12 years. I was surprised how many people were there at 8:30 Sunday morning; fortunately, I was able to get in & out within an hour.
I had to hurry home to do my hair & makeup- not for church, though; this was the day I began my official duties for my new activity. Yes, I’m finally going to ‘fess up. Actually, Amy got it right off on Friday (after I left two very broad hints) - I am a volunteer docent at Ravenswood Historic Site in Livermore. What does that mean? I will spend the second Sunday of each month giving tours of the estate, dressed in 1890’s period clothing, & participating in fundraising events to continue the restoration of the property.
I’ve always loved old homes; while living in the Bay Area, many weekends would find us at one of the many restored house museums, learning about the lives of the inhabitants & culture of the times in which they lived. Even when we go on vacation, I try to find at least one historic home to tour & have a respectable collection of books about them. I was surprised when this opportunity literally fell into my lap; I thought it would be a number of years before I could get involved in this sort of activity. In January, there was an article about Ravenswood in a local paper; they talked about the lack of volunteers & announced a docents’ training course beginning that night. I read it to Chris & asked him what he thought about me participating; he didn’t even hesitate- he said “This is something you’ve always wanted to do & you have the ability- go for it!” Is it any wonder I love that guy? Actually, this will more than likely become a family project; the guys enjoy the property as well, & I see them getting involved with repairs, gardening, & maybe even the croquet team!
So, on Sunday, I gave my first two tours; the only disappointing part was that Chris couldn’t be there for the first time. It was a perfectly lovely day, hovering around 78˚ to 81˚, & a gentle breeze flowing through. We had around 40 people come through the cottage; when there were no guests, the other two docents, the Park handyman, Sam & I sat on the front porch, visiting & enjoying the view. The last minute, Sam decided he wanted to come along- I think it had more to do with wanting to avoid the list of chores, then any great desire to hang out with the “old folks”. Whatever the reason, he told me several times during the day how much he was enjoying himself; who knows- maybe he’ll follow in my boot-steps.
I will certainly be sharing more about Ravenswood, as there is much to learn about the family, the town, & the era which we are presenting; I just hope I won’t bore you with my new hobby.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Birds of a feather & all that nonsense

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this, but we have a bird. Parrot 2 Actually, we had two birds… and a miniature hamster. HamsterYes, I know- a recipe for disaster; it was not my decision. Chris had the bright idea to surprise me for our anniversary (the 15th, I think) with a pair of peach-faced lovebirds. A friend of a co-worker raised them and had a surplus that he couldn’t sell; my master scavenger saw flashing “FREE” signs, rounded up a cage, and TA-DA, we own some birds. They arrived right on the very tiny tail of the hamster, Mr. Nibbles, bequeathed to Sam by my in-laws- they didn’t think he would survive the move to Oregon from Southern California in a van with 3 kids, a dog, 2 cats, & a dwarf rabbit named Barfy. Go figure. Family Road Trip

Now, I like birds in theory; I like to watch them through the window, listen to them tweet & twitter in the trees when I take a walk. But birds at home… with cats in residence… I’m not enamored of the idea. When I asked Chris why birds, he reminded me of a conversation we had sometime in the previous 5 years, in which I mentioned that I thought lovebirds were pretty. Oooookay. Somehow, his mind translated my admiration into a desire to possess said animals; somewhat of a leap in logic, but a sweet gesture nonetheless. In true meg fashion, I headed off to the library to read up on the life & care of lovebirds; did you know that lovebirds are small parrots & they can live up twenty years! OY! That’s a long time to run interference between members of the fur & feather camps; but what’s done is done. Cat And Mouse Tail

The new residents were christened Beatrice & Benedict (after the quarrelling lovers in “Much Ado About Nothing”); fortunately, I found that their vocalizations- while somewhat loud first thing in the morning- were not unpleasant (though their penchant for flinging seeds is rather annoying). Providentially, the cats showed little or no interest in the birds: Daisy patently ignores the cage; Poppy watches me refill the food & water, will occasionally leap to the top of the cage to gain a better vantage point to the backyard, but scurries off at the first sign of squawking (Pops has taken a vow of silence & is disturbed by sudden, loud noises); only Dahlia has shown cat-like curiosity, but as she suffers from Feline ADD & severe coordination impairment, I think the interest is strictly token.

These are not tamed birds, raised to be handled by humans; Benedict eventually- after much coaxing- would sit on my finger while in the cage, but Beatrice would just scream & fly at my face if I tried to approach her. The first winter we had them, our “love” birds began to lay eggs in their nesting box. It's A Smiley! We were excited over the first two eggs (“this will be so cool”), had a few concerns about the next four eggs (“I hope we can find homes for them”), and began to panic when the count reached twelve eggs (“OMG, what are we going to do?”) I believe now that our Benedict was really a “Benedica” & the two of them were combining their efforts just to drive me crazy. We started to remove the eggs from the box after nearly a month & finally had to remove the box altogether.

Shortly thereafter, Benedict began plucking out his/her feathers. ParrotWe tried everything- changed the diet, changed locations, less noise, more noise, new toys, no toys- we even moved Beatrice to another cage on the advise of the bird psychologist (yes, you read that correctly- what we do for our animals!) Nothing helped; eventually he/she was bald from neck to knees. When Benedict died last year (heart failure, we believe), the only feathers still in possession were on the head & wings, with one lone tail that came out just a couple of days before.

Now, I’m about to dispel a myth: a lovebird does not necessarily die after losing their companion; but it will become a bit quiet & moody. Beatrice has never been a particularly pleasant bird, but now she is just plain paranoid; the slightest noise or movement will cause her to squawk & fly around her cage. About 3 months ago, Beatrice began feather picking; so far it is not too noticeable, beyond the excess number of feathers floating around the cage. But last week, as I was replacing her millet seed branch, I noticed a bare patch under her wing; it appeared (in the split second I saw it as she flew at my face) to have an open sore, so I called our vet & made an appointment. Veterinarian

[Let me interject that I simply adore our vet; she is equal parts dedicated professional, animal enthusiast, & twisted humorist. We began seeing her after we got the birds, since she was the only one in town that would see “exotics”. I filled out a questionnaire, listing all our animals, & the doctor noted that I hadn’t listed names for the birds or hamster. I told her we couldn’t decide what to call them yet; she suggested “Breakfast, Brunch, & Appetizer”- my kind of gal!] Laugh

After questioning us about changes in her routine, diet, etc, the vet prescribed a topical ointment & an oral antibiotic, both to be administered twice a day for three weeks. Medicine Since Chris has an affinity with this bird, he took on the duties of dosing her. This…hen…has a wicked bite, but Chris sports the thickest skin I’ve ever seen. Seriously, he can cut himself 1/16th of an inch deep & not bleed (though Beatrice once bit the end of his finger & punctured through his fingernail) But since he’s going to be in Florida for the next couple of weeks, the job is left to me & Sam. Oh, this is going to be fun!

I know it sounds like a version of the old joke, “How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Light Bulb but it really does take both of us to treat this bird. To be brutally honest- she scares me! So here is our process:

  1. Trap the bird with a thick hand towel- 5 minutes Clock
  2. Pass said hand towel bundle back & forth “You hold her!” “No, I did it last time”- 2 minutes
  3. Loser of #2 discussion carefully maneuvers squirming, screaming bird so everything but left wing is secured in the towel- 3 minutes
  4. Second person gently holds flapping wing & applies ointment to sore with cotton swab- 30 seconds
  5. Second person goes to medicine closet for another cotton swab when bird turns around in skin & bites it in half- 1 minute
  6. Repeat step #4 & #5 as needed
  7. Rearrange bird in hand towel until only head is exposed- 1 ½ minutes Towel
  8. Retrieve bird from curtain rod after she escapes hand towel- 6 minutes
  9. Repeat steps #7 & #8 as required
  10. Second person gently grasps struggling bird’s head to administer ½ c.c. of antibiotic- 45 seconds
  11. Second person goes to medicine closet for a bandage to cover puncture wound on finger- 1 ½ minutes Hand
  12. Repeat Step #10
  13. Refill syringe with another ½ c.c. of antibiotic when head jerks to the side- 30 seconds Rx
  14. Repeat Step #10
  15. Release bird back into cage

This is so pathetic- it takes two full-sized humans 15 to 25 minutes to treat a 2-ounce bird with a dab of ointment & a drop of medicine. It’s going to be a long two weeks. Bird On Head

Since no one seems to want to play my guessing game, I suppose I will have to reveal my new activity. Then again, maybe I'll just give a couple more clues. Let's see, what were the clues I gave? Oh, yes:

1. A pair of women's gloves

2. A fundraiser tea party

3. Index cards filled with notes

4. Christopher Augustine Buckely Sr (google me)

So here are a couple of BIG hints

1890's Period Costumes

Look at the "Yuki Adventures" Category entries

I promise, I will tell all next week; but if you guess it first, I'll send you something sweet!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is there such thing as a "Tennis Mom"?

With Sam acceptance onto the tennis team, I am entering a new frontier in my parenting adventures: high school sports.   Cheerleader 

Sam is the only one of my children to have shown any interest in, let alone actively pursuing, a spot on a competitive team in school. This never gave me cause to stop and wonder; I personally am not cut out for sports- I have an aversion to sweat and pain- and though I’ve always been a dancer, I’m not particularly coordinated. Stumble 

On the other hand, for Chris this has been a source of bewilderment; his family has always been involved in team sports. Chris, his Mom, and his brother all swam competitively. He also played soccer and football, both with the varsity in high school, and city leagues until just a few years ago, and expressed some regret that none of the kids followed in his cleat-steps. Soccer 

From time to time over the years, Sam has expressed some interest in organized sports; while I have not actively discouraged this desire, I’ve been reluctant to encourage him. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of those hyper-protective mothers, who see danger in every activity and attempt to bubble-wrap their children against real life. But let’s remember that this is my baby; and even though he’s scrappy and full of adventure, he has been on the small size for his age since about three years old. At sixteen, he just grazes 5’7” and bounces around 115 to 125 lbs; I have steadfastly refused to consider any contact sport, since it always seemed to involve Sam running up against boys 4 inches taller and at least 20 pounds heavier. Crutches     

Tennis I can handle. The kids who play tend to be of the lithe and wiry variety; besides, rushing the net to tackle your opponent is strictly prohibited. The uniforms aren’t horrendously expensive and are pretty eye-catching (a big selling point, since there is a new girl on the horizon). I played a little tennis when I was younger (as does nearly all my Mom’s family) and understand the game well enough to not illicit eye rolling when I discuss a match, or poorly veiled impatience while I’m instructed on the finer points of the game. Spectators are inclined to be quiet and polite- I have heard horror stories of side-line parents in other sports making the kids, the coaches, and the opponents miserable. I will take a pass on that whole experience.  Screamer   

All in all, I think this will be a good fit for our family; the only drawback is that matches are held right after school, so Chris and I will rarely ever get to attend. We will be subjected to stroke-by-stroke reenactments in our living room, much to the delight and entertainment of the cats, but it’s not quite the same as being there. Yesterday was Sam’s second pre-season match; he played a singles match (unusual for a JV player), which he won, and a doubles match that they lost. He is also sporting his first (minor) injury; he and his partner were both going for a shot on Sam’s side of the court. As Sam was running towards the ball, his partner swung his racket back and nailed Sam right between the eyes! He has a respectable looking bump on his forehead- more of a quail egg then a goose egg- for which, I’m certain, he is receiving satisfactory sympathy from the girl of choice.  Lipstick 

Well, flap! Chris just called; he’s being sent to Florida for 2 weeks and he has to leave tonight.  Shock 2 Oooh- this can’t be good- they normally give him a week’s notice on these things. I best get home and make sure he has clean clothes- Later, Skaters! Washing Machine 

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Am I home yet?

With spring’s advent, the pace of life around the garden has noticeably accelerated. I normally have a couple of hours on the weekends, to sit and compose an entry, delving into my limitless store of cleverness. The past two weekends have been so filled with activities and commitments, I’m finding that days are slipping by without writing a single witty word. For this, I am most humbly sorry; I don’t like to think of myself as a “sometimes blogger”,

only posting when I have nothing else to do.

So, let me catch you up on our whirling dervish household:

    v Last Saturday was a full day. After taking care of Saturday chores and heading over to the gym (yes, I’m still going- only once a week right now, but I do want to increase that), Chris and I headed over to the church for the annual Widows’ Luncheon. The Men’s Ministries sponsors the event- they do the cooking, serving, and clean-up- so Chris worked as a server, while I joined the Ensemble to provide the entertainment. The meal was wonderful; unfortunately, by the time we finished singing, they were out of just about everything but salad, green beans & twice baked potatoes.

    After the luncheon, I changed clothes and headed over to drop off the scones at the site of the tea party. I stayed for about an hour, helping set up tables and washing teapots, and then headed back home. I grabbed a short nap, changed my clothes again, and the three of us went to the Sunrise Rotary Shrimp Feed. My boss is a Rotarian and gave me 3 tickets, since he was going to be away for the weekend. We had a full table of people from my office with their spouses, so the wine flowed and the shrimp was devoured. One of the husbands, who is also a neighbor, challenged Sam to eat 30 shrimp- offered him $10 to do it- so of course, Sam had to accept. He managed to pack away salad, pasta with sauce, bread, and 31 jumbo prawns; our neighbor was so impressed, he gave Sam $20! (No, Sam did not get sick, though he did take a Pepto before bed.)

    v Sunday morning, we only attended first service; all three of us went to serve at the tea party. It was rainy and windy, but we had a full house- two sittings, with 48 people at each sitting. The rooms were lovely, the servers were dressed in period costumes, and the food was wonderful. Just ask Sam. We worked in the kitchen, setting up plates of food, refilling teapots, and washing up as we went. Whenever a tray would come back to the kitchen, Sam’s job was to clear them off- he did this mostly by eating the (untouched) leftovers.

    We stayed until 6:00 pm, and then took Sam over to his weekly dance class. They had a long practice, because the youth class has been asked to be demonstrators on an instructional DVD series being produced by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. This really is quite an honor for such a small group as ours; we are essentially a social class, not a performance group like some others, but we have good reputation for quality and teamwork. The past two years, our youth group has been asked to dance in the closing ceremonies of the Pleasanton Highland Games, which are the largest in the US and the venue for many of the events’ world championships.
    At class, we discovered the capacity of a sixteen year old boy’s stomach: 12 assorted tea sandwiches, 5 scones w/clotted cream and lemon curd, 4 petit fours, 6 chocolates, 3 choco/cherry mice, an unknown number of broken cookies, 3 glasses of sparkling cider, 2 cups of tea, and probably half a glass of champagne. All this combined with two hours of jigs, reels, and circling rehearsal resulted in a progressively paler Sam and a dash to the men’s room. Once he got sick, he was fine- though he did pop another Pepto when we got home at 9:00.

    v I already mentioned that my week at work was pretty nasty; the evenings were just busy. Monday and Wednesday, I was working on hemming skirts and dresses for the girls in the dance group- we will be filming on March 10th- and finding matching knee socks for the girls who will be dancing as gentlemen. Tuesday evening was the Quilting Circle meeting; we got quite a bit done, piecing half of both quilt tops we are working on- I think we’ll be done with them within the next 2 months. Thursday was choir practice, and Friday I did the weekly shopping, since I prefer not to do it on the weekends.

    v Sam has been training with the tennis team for the past couple of months and completed conditioning camp this week. He came home Wednesday with big news- he made the tennis team! He’ll be playing JV doubles, which will be a great start for him, since he’s really just learning how to play; Thursday was his first match and they won 1-0. I’m very proud of him- he has worked really hard and is getting a little more serious able his grades; unfortunately, he is right on the border with his GPA to qualify and if he hasn’t brought up his science grade (currently a 58.5%) by quarter end, he’ll have to warm the bench until it’s brought back up. I would appreciate your prayers for him- I would hate to see him get discouraged and give up.

    v This weekend has been spent shopping. I booked my flight to Vancouver, had to replace two tires on my car, hit Home Depot for garden stuff and a new toilet seat (don’t ask), and find a new washer, as mine is 15 years old and making ominous noises. Sam had a karate belt ceremony to attend today, for one of his teachers, so Chris and I were able to go to lunch all by ourselves. We worked in the yard this afternoon, reseeding the front lawn (a large section was destroyed during the freeze in January) putting in some new herbs, and dividing the blueberry plants and putting them in their new home. Tonight is dress rehearsal for the kids- I’ve been peeking in every so often and they are looking very snazzy.

So that brings us up to date; this will pretty much be status quo for the next 6 months or so. Chris is already working occasional Saturdays and they are sounding him out about traveling to LA and Las Vegas soon; Sam will have tennis practice or games most days after school, in addition to his twice weekly karate classes, so by the end of school in May, he’s going to be tired (not to mention pretty buff); and I am doling small sections of my free time to various activities and looking forward to a productive season.

Speaking of which, here is the next clue to my new activity-

Charles Augustine Buckley, Sr