Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Moments In Procrastination: #328

It was a friend of mine's birthday yesterday, so we all went out for a drink at a waterfront restaurant. Right before we went out it occurred to me that I should have a card or something to give her. I was already in the throes of altering a dress that suddenly did not fit and that I was bound and determined to wear that very evening, which was a bit of a nightmare in itself (the house was hot, I was hot, the kids were peevish, and it was 98ºF on our deck), so the idea of making a card seemed too arduous to contemplate.

Chance of Peevishly Hot Sheila making a birthday card for her very good friend?
remote, baby, remote.

Then, in one of those charmingly fortuitous Great Moments in Procrastination, I was reading this blog, written by someone on a homeschool list I'm on, and she had a picture of this card on her blog. It was extremely cool, and even though I don't own brads, paper flowers, glass leaf beads and jump rings, much less have any clue what UTE is or where I can get it, I thought I would try a version of my own. Besides, FDPG has tons of origami paper and since she was outside in the pool I knew I could pinch some without her even noticing. And whaddaya know but it's surprisingly easy, if you follow the wonderfully detailed instructions).

The photo above is how the card looks lying flat (note that I am not providing WDI - I forgot until half way through, sorry).

And here is the card standing up. Note the oh-so-cool 3D effect. Thanks, Misti. Thanks, Bonnie. One Potential Crisis averted. Now on to finishing that dratted dress...
And yes, FDPG did notice her origami paper on this card but she said she did not mind, well, provided I make her one just like it for her birthday next week.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Muggle Chess

FDPG plays Muggle Chess. Next best thing to Wizard's Chess, she tells me. And there she is in the middle, a pawn in the game.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random Summer Images

Layered popsicles. I saw them somewhere and had one of those AHA moments: finally a use for all those leftover bits of smoothie no one can manage. Now I pour it into a popsicle container, let it freeze a bit, and pour a bit of something else over top, poking a popsicle stick into it somewhere along the way.
This one's blackberry smoothie, mango juice, and rhubarb juice. The kids think the rhubarb is pink lemonade. Since they don't like rhubarb, unless it's peeled and sitting next to a dish of sugar, I am reluctant to disabuse them of this notion, although I heard Max whisper "I think it's really rhubarb" to Dominic the other day. Not so slow on the uptake, that kid.

My little window greenhouse was so successful at heating up, even with it's afternoon shade, that I eventually had to remove both windows. There is one centre window that I cannot remove, but I don't think I've ever had peppers grow so big before. These ones are easily 4' high. There is a Tigerella tomato on one side, dripping with fronds of tomatoes, and a bay tree and a lemon verbena plant on the other.

Our painted ladies became butterflies, right before our eyes. We let them out one warm morning, to sit on the geraniums before taking off into the wild unknown. And our black swallowtail caterpillars disappeared a while back, after which we fretted for a while, worrying that some greedy bird pinched them, but the other day I was watering in the garden and a black swallowtail was lazily floating around the flowers. It paused on some roses, then the scarlet runners, then the potato flowers. It was big and oh so gorgeous and I felt a glimmer of hope that this might have been one of our fennel caterpillars.

Look At Sarkosy

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Princes and Half Blood Potters

Has anyone seen it yet? We went to see it on Wednesday, first show of the day. We lined up with all the other HP keeners, standing in the hot sun wondering if it would be worth it. I'd even bought the tickets 3 days beforehand just in case. I stood there, wondering at my uncharacteristic temerity - it's so not like me to buy a movie ticket ahead of time. But this was Harry Potter, a world in the daily lexicon of the twins. FDPG was so excited that 5 people asked her if she needed to use the bathroom. Dominic kept repeating "I can't believe we are finally going to see it!" over and over again, while Max just sat there, not sure if he was excited or not.

Then we were in. A very mild-mannered theatre employee came out and said "Everyone here for the 11:30 Harry Potter movie can just go right in," which meant of course that all 300 people in all the various line-ups mobbed for the doors. I grabbed each twin in a Death Grip by the wrist and with Max close behind me we threw ourselves into the mass of teens, families, and older couples. It was a seriously distracting mix of people. It almost threw me off. Almost: we had to get in there and get 9 seats. Luckily I am not an easily distracted person when it comes to getting a good theatre seat, but that's only because I am extremely picky when it comes to watching a film in a large theatre space. I'm like Goldilocks: I need something not quite at the top, but not too low, and I hate sitting in the middle of the row. I need an end seat, in case I need a quick exit (I've done this all my life and have never once needed a quick exit so either I am excessively careful or I am more on the obsessive compulsive side than I care to admit), and I hate leaving for bathroom breaks (ask my kids, they will recite Sheila's Standard Lecture On Why Drinking Too Much At Movies Is Not Good).

First we watched 20 minutes of movie trailers. I usually like movie trailers, but this time they were a weird mix of slightly, err, mature movies, and ones we'd already seen when we'd seen Up! I sat through the chortling of my children as they watched guinea pigs flying through the air, as a kid asked for the gift of telephonesis, and as a giant pancake landed on a school. I surreptitiously withdrew the three bags of popcorn I'd made at home and stashed in ziplocks in my purse. I whispered "Don't eat this all before the movie even starts" and "try not to get the yeast all over your t-shirts" to everyone. I made sure FDPG knew to plug her ears in case things got scary: an excellent trick because in my experience the sounds are sometimes scarier than the action. And closing one's eyes does not require handwork, whereas plugging one's ears does (sometimes I feel a bit like James Bond, navigating my way through this Minefield of Complicated Mothering).

And once again Dominic whispered, oh-so-loudly, "Why do they always have all these trailers before the movie? We came here to see the movie, not these stupid trailers. We've already seen half of them."

Can't you just see the old man he's going to be?

Then the film started. You could almost feel the intake of breath. There was a serious level of excitement in the air.

(warning: reading further could spoil the movie for you)

The film diverges from the book in quite a few places, in case you were wondering. Some of them are quite fortuitous. There was more humour than I remember from the novel. And, if you're like me and you like the touches most directors sneak in as a sort of signature, another bird gets whacked outside Hogwarts. But I was not prepared for all that humour. This movie plays to laughs. Plays for laughs. There's hardly any creepiness in it, which was nice for poor old FDPG, who really quakes at anything and everything. She only had to plug her ears once, and I only had to cover her eyes once (in case she snuck a glance) and that was where the Inferi were grabbing at Dumbledore and Harry in the cave. They even snuck in a Blatant Comic Device in the character of Lavender Brown, who has some scene-chewing moments (and reminded me slightly of British actress Lucy Punch). And there are a number of Unexpectedly Witty Rejoinders between Harry and Dumbledore. There's also one incredibly deft and witty scene with Snape, Dumbledore and Slughorn in the Infirmary with Ron (I had to fight not to write "in the library with a candlestick"), ruminating about love. It's positively brilliant.

Some of the divergences are not so fortuitous. There is one scene where everyone raises their wands as a tribute, but instead of seeming like a bit of well-placed respect, it struck me instead as the sort of thing you'd see in a pop concert, with the audience asking for more. I don't know. It fell flat for me. And the fact that McGonagall initiated this, err, gesture, seemed even more wrong. There were other, small differences: Luna replaces Tonks as the one who finds Harry in the Slytherin Coach under his Invisibility Cloak; Harry is first sighted in a café picking up waitresses and reading the Daily Prophet in PUBLIC; the Weasley twins are hardly in the film at all; the Death Eaters burn down the Weasley house.

Oh the horror of it all!

But Luna is my favourite character so I wasn't too bothered by that bit. I love Luna. I love her batty, slightly breathless demeanour, and I love the way she drifts around in strange outfits. I also love how kind she is to everyone. She is unfailingly understanding.

And don't hex me but I was glad to see Michael Gambon (as Dumbledore) leave. He's always rubbed me the wrong way. I loved him in Gosford Park, among other things, but in my opinion he plays Dumbledore too befuddled and daffy. I miss Richard Harris. He was Dumbledore for me: wise, careful, clear. But he died before they could film the rest of the onslaught.

I do find it curious how so many of the Truly Bad Characters seem to be also the best-dressed ones. Malfoy is positively glistening with cool charismatic savoir-faire. He has a long black coat, slim black trousers, and slicked back white hair. He looks amazing. Almost as delicious as his father, Lucius (the image of Lucius at the Quidditch World Cup [Goblet of Fire], telling Arthur Weasley, through wonderfully gritted teeth, that Arthur's nosebleed seats will enable him to see the rain coming sooner than everyone else is one of my very favourite scenes ever). Similarly Snape always whips in and out of every scene in the blackest black imaginable. He's like a well-dressed and deeply malevolent bat, flapping around the film. Bellatrix is less well-dressed, certainly, but her sister Narcissa looks pretty snappy.

Finally, while I really really enjoyed the film, I had one quibble: it plays as a series of small vignettes (as opposed to a coherent story). I did not enjoy that. It was disorienting. I think that was why it doesn't seem to be a long film, when it actuality it clocks in at two hours and thirty minutes.

Oh, and before I forget, where the hell did Fawkes go? I was hoping the movie would play with this, but it didn't.

I'm still wondering.

Sheila's Movie O'Matic Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunlight on Water

When we lived on the mainland we had a big pool in the front yard. It was one of those round soft-walled pools, where the walls are held up because of the water, with an inflatable ring around the top. It sat out on the front concrete pad (the previous owner had concreted over the entire front yard, if you can believe it), soaking up the sun and providing a place for the kids to play all afternoon. I'd sit outside, under a canopy of sunflowers, and watch the kids splash about in the glittering sunlight.

Then we moved. Down the road. To a place where the yard was shady. So shady the pool never really worked. It was always cool, here in this not-very-hot-in-the-summer place. So we stuck it back in its box. And gradually the kids forgot how fun it had been. Well, they almost forgot.

Then we moved to an island. A big island. Now we live in a house that we own, so technically we can do what we want with the back yard. As in: cut down shade-producing trees, level sloping lawns, and build terraces for things that need level ground. Which would lead you to think that we would have that pool back up in a nano-second. But we haven't. "This yard is too slopey," Richard someone always said, in response to my "Why can't we level a part of the yard for the pool?" whine. "It would never work."

Well, a couple of weeks ago I'd had it with that conversation. It was hot. It had been hot all week. And I was sick of having to drive somewhere to swim. We were spending way too much time away from the other things I had to do and it was starting to show in both the house and the garden. Someone never had any clean underwear, but I'm not naming names. Let's just say they are on the edge of puberty and have yet to master the concept of getting their dirty laundry into the laundry basket. And the garden was getting weedy. I won't even go into what was going on in the house, not because I am ashamed, but because even I was starting to notice what a pigsty it was getting, and that takes some doing, housekeeping being very low on my list of priorities. Then there was the fact that there was never any bread for Richard's lunch. Because I was never home to make any. I hate buying it, too, so that was kind of standing in my way when I was in a grocery store. I'd stand there, gazing at the $4.00 loaves of my particular preference, and think "What a $#*&ing ripoff, I'm not paying that for a stupid loaf of bread. I'll make some tomorrow." So Richard never seemed to have any bread for his lunch each day, and was reduced to watching me scrounge for odds and ends in the freezer. He'd never say anything but this is a man who has mastered the art of the Silent Narrative: He doesn't need to say anything. He'd make a perfectly pathetic sandwich each morning out of some old hamburger bun or something, and we'd both gaze at it as he handed me my morning latté.

I would think "PutinthatdamnpoolandIcanstayhomeandmakesomedamnbread" and he'd think "I married SUCH an unreasonable woman."

As you can no doubt guess, all these things were building up. As far as I was concerned, putting a pool in the backyard was a perfectly doable option. So, in the interests of keeping No Underwear Boy and Pathetic Sandwich Man appeased, I hauled the pool outside and started chopping at the lawn with a shovel on day.

Rather ineffectually, I should probably add.

So ineffectually that Richard came home from work that night, watched me for a few minutes, sighed heavily, and went back inside for the pick-axe. There might have been a brief and very intense argument in between those two scenes that scarred Richard dreadfully (or so he says, but he's always been a bit, err, melodramatic), but that's beside the point.

The point is, we now have the pool up in the back yard. The offspring can frolic for as long as they like now. And I don't have to drive them anywhere.

Today I even did the laundry. And made bread. Heck, I even mopped the kitchen floor, although that was probably going overboard. I don't want them all thinking that I can whip this stuff off in my sleep or anything.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spy Games

We've been watching a new show of late: here in Canada it's called MI-5. In the UK, where it originated, it was called Spooks. Either way, it's an impressively gripping series about spies and super powers and Bad Men and and Plots To Dominate The World. Right up my alley. In fact, it's so up my alley that I have decided to change the way we live here at the Chronicles.

Yes, you heard me right.

I'm tired of this casual earthy child-dominated lifestyle of mine. It's the Spy Life for me from now on. No longer will this house feature sepia tones, neutral walls, lots of reference tomes, butterfly aquariums, crafts, and woodsy furniture; oh no, no, no, now our house will be re-organized thusly:Cool blues, grays, and off-white colours only. No identifying wall decor. Gone are the ancient photographs magnetted to the fridge (identifies my Weak Points - aka the children - to the Enemy). Gone are the Far Side cartoons stuck on the wall (which show me as a Real Person). Ditto the Strange Ethnic Art on the fireplace (no real reason but I never see stuff like this in spy shows so might as well get rid of it). And to hell with the houseplants (who has time to water the plants when there's a bomb to defuse or a hitman to take out?).

Nope, from now on there's going to be a Security Foyer in the, err, foyer. Computer terminals everywhere - high-tech computer terminals: voice recognition software, face identification programs, and some of those programs that can make people appear in photographs where they never were before. Swirly chairs in which I can suddenly lean back when EXHAUSTED from my Deeply Intense Internet Searches. And long, clean pressboard desks for when I need to flop forward on my hands and rub my face intently. Plus, the kids'll still need something to do their schoolwork on.

Speaking of the kids, I'm wondering if I need to get them clip-on name tags or not. Might be a useful ruse to keep them out of the living room ("Security ID please! Where is your nametag? Sorry, I'm afraid you aren't authorized for this area. Go back downstairs or I'll have to alert Security").

We'll have to find someone to be the Resident Computer Geek, because this one, Colin, is no longer on the show. He had his file 'closed' recently. This totally complicates things because a) he was a whiz with gadgets and computers, and b) he was very witty and easy-going, just what I need in a Resident Computer Geek (I'm sure I'll tend to be a little on the demanding side). Plus, I'm a bit lazy when it comes to researching Personnel. I'd rather just use all the people on the show than look for real people around me.

Which brings me to my friends.

I'll have to change all my friends, because none of my friends will want to do this:
Pose with me all the time (when I'm not off on Serious Matters of State). Stand several steps behind me...then somewhat sideways...then look slightly irritable. Wear long black coats that hide their awkward body parts. Cross their arms over tight black jackets. Stand nonchalantly with their hands in their pockets. Get their hair cut every few weeks so it continues to stick up in the air, even when running desperately down a dark alley with Evil Men in Furious Pursuit. Learn to apply tourniquets if I am bleeding to death. Let me stand in the middle taking all the glory. Because I will be the Lead Spook.

I'll have to coach them on Photo Op Protocol, too, where I will look sullenly yet provocatively at the camera lens while someone else looks intelligently off in the opposite direction, while yet another of us stands behind me and looks protectively out from under my deeply wise and clever wing. Gosh, I can see a lot of complications. Most of my current friends are all so darn individualistic and unmalleable. I wonder if I'll get a personal assistant to help me with the, err, training?

Ah well, if they give me too much grief I know what to do with them.

Off with your heads! Ha ha.

I will have to do something with Richard, because I notice that no one in this show seems to have a Meaningful Personal Relationship. Or if they do one of them gets killed off, leaving the other to pine mournfully and dangerously, affecting the safety of their co-workers in Intensely Critical Moments. My inclination is to use this fellow, the devastatingly handsome Zaph, because a) he resembles Richard, and b) he already knows how to behave in terms of Photo Op Protocol. He's also amazing at kicking people in the throat when they walk through the door with a gun in their hands. Perhaps he could be my Personal Assistant. Show me how to kick people who walk through my door with guns in their hands. Train my recalcitrant friends. We could share Intimate Moments during Tense Decisions. Drink a lot and feel sad with the burdens of the future.
I could also pinch some of his wardrobe for Richard. Richard could really use a long black coat like this one. That might mollify him for having to sit the season out.

Someone has to watch the children.

As Lead Spook, with my dead good looking Trusty Personal Assistant at my side, we will only ever let ourselves be photographed like this: back to back. I will have to learn how to scrape my hair severely off my face, because I want to be Roz. She's the best at kicking people in the throat when they walk through doors. She hardly ever misjudges her target. She walks really fast. And acts really tough. Don't know about the gray suit though...gray washes me out a bit.

I'd need a Right Hand Man, too. I could use this fellow...oh, wait, I already went through this, didn't I? He's just so, err, photogenic. The more I freeze-frame his scenes watch this show the more I notice that he favours his left side when having his Moments of Great Gravitas. Richard makes fun of him, referencing Ben Stiller's "Blue Steel" look from the movie Zoolander but I think he's just jealous. Not all of us can manage that thoughtful, serious, sympathetic, yet deeply intense look while contemplating a case. Another reason Richard will have to go, I think. Can't have him mocking my Torrid Romance Interests. Because as Lead Spook I will have to have at least one serious Romance each episode.

Mixing up my real life with television life? No, I don't think I am. Why do you ask?

From what I've seen, Roz doesn't seem to have a best side. She does a lot of head shots. Close ups. She also wears a lot of face make-up. I wonder if I'd need to wear face make-up in my new life, because I don't really like wearing face-makeup.

But she has a killer wardrobe so perhaps I could overlook the makeup. She has a black jacket I quite covet. She wears the black jacket and glares and scares the pants off all the men. I am excellent at glaring. Ask my kids. Well, the children who used to live here. The ones with the wonky Security Tags who live in the basement. Under the stairs. With the husband.

I will also need to change all the lighting in the house, because I've noticed that everyone on this show is lit from below. This could be tricky. Might mean a trip to IKEA to get some cheap industrial lighting. Might also mean that my double chin will be, err, enhanced. Not good for those Torrid Romance scenes.

Almost forgot that I would need to have a Toffee-Nosed Friend to make Rude Remarks about people. Someone like this fellow, who says things like

"Ahhh, I see you've brought Terrier Tom! Well, now, I thought it might be rather jolly if we walked about a bit. It always gives one a bit of a frisson, don't you find, going amongst the plebs talking of high state secrets?"

He could be exceedingly rude, alienate everyone, yet still maintain the humour ratings for me. (did you know that Emma Thompson once described him this way: "He's very likeably oily - sort of like a well-hung eel.")

I'm going to have to think about cameos, I guess. Get some Influential People making Guest Appearances at my house periodically. The only person I know who might qualify in this regard is someone who knows someone who works for Stephane Dion, but Stephane Dion is so, umm, dull. I can't see him making witty rejoindures. Looking unctuous. Flirty yet evil.


I will have to think about this bit some more.

Finally, I will have to have someone with which I could Spar Sexily With At The Office. You know, fight about which mission we go on next and stuff. Whether we're Losing Perspective At Critical Junctures. Whether we should trust our source. If we should go rogue or not. When to pull out of the mission. Who gets to kick who in the throat when we burst into buildings full of Bad People. Who gets the bullet proof vest. And for that I choose this fellow. He has buckets of gravitas, looks great while running down a dark alley, likes to drink scotch, and he can wear the heck out of a black turtle neck. Plus, he's friends with Zaph, so the two of them won't fight constantly over me.

My Life As A Spy. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Python Hyperbole

Everyone I describe this scene to says the same thing to me: "Well, they're good in a garden, aren't they? They eat all the bugs."

Yeees, they do eat bugs. But which bugs are they eating? That's what I'd like to know. Are they eating my beneficial wasps? My ladybugs? My mason bees? My leaf-cutters? Butterflies? This is not good. I like those bugs. I go to great lengths to cultivate the presence of those bugs.

Even more alarming, if you click on the above photo you can see that they are reproducing... (cue Twilight Zone soundtrack)

Yes, those are little snakes with that giant snake. A giant momma python garden snake and her babies - in my garden. Lurking amongst my cantaloupes and watermelons - in my garden. And a few feet away from this scene of heart-stopping terror domestic bliss was ANOTHER BLOODY SNAKE another baby snake - in my garden.

(breathe deep, sheila, don't hyperventilate now, keep calm)

So I did something that may cause some of you to view me through an entirely different lens: I showed them to Toffee. I thought Toffee might cause them to either cease reproducing or scatter off to another garden...or (hopefully) eat them.

I know, I know, I am a total hypocrite with my Live and Let Live mantra. Aphids I can ignore. The odd wasp, even. But these long slithery things? No. I cannot ignore a snake - especially when it's snakes in the plural.

But Toffee is either extremely dense or eminently sensible (I'm thinking Toffee would have made a very good Victorian with all those delicate sensibilities of his) but he made very little attempt to get them. Oh, he was deeply intrigued alright. But he seemed to think that this glass was stopping him from ever getting close. And this glass, Dear Reader, is a very small window propped up against some sticks, so I'm thinking that Toffee isn't big on snake meat. Have I ever told you that his nickname is Chicken Shit? It is but you didn't hear that from me.

Ugh. I get the willies thinking about snakes. There is a reason I live in the city and not in the country. I am not a snake kind of girl. The first thing I think of when I see a snake is not: "Ooh, I simply MUST pick that snake up and wind it around my hand!" I have friends who do that, but I lack both the interest and the courage. Holding a snake ranks about 28,999th on my list of Things I Simply Must Do, and before that comes Eating Poisonous Blowfish (#26,749), Watching My Fingers Cramp Up (#28,298), and Pulling Hair Clots From the Bathtub Drain (#25,420).

No, the first thing I think when I see a snake is "Holy $#*& a snake!" Sometimes I mix it up a little and run away shrieking first, THEN think "Holy $#*& a snake!"

No more sticking my hands into random areas of the garden without my gloves on, now. Not with these pythons lurking around, heavy with intent.

Seen and Heard In Passing

"This is why I'm never going to travel to foreign countries - I might have to eat ZUCCHINI there!"

Max the Adventurous, during dinner, where he was served sautéed Ronde de Nice zucchini slices

"Max, my sweet, having to eat zucchini in certain foreign lands will be the LEAST of your culinary worries."

Max's mother, during the same dinner, where she SERVED the sautéed Ronde de Nice zucchini slices

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm finally a twit

Sheila's Twitter Updates:

- had a really great latté today. High point of the day.

- was the first to borrow The Iliad from the library (Naxos version read by Anton Lesser). Put it on during our Painting of the Dough Map and FDPG was the only one to actively follow the story. Figures.

- rained almost all day. Hate rain. Rain boring.

- dithered about buying an iPod for my 7 year old daughter. Finally decided against it.

- watched the eldest place a Carmex stick against the (sleeping) cat's mouth oh so carefully, then call me to say "Mum! Toffee is using your lipsalve!"

- argued with the boys about which was more graphic: Frankenstein's "experiments" or General Grevious being "examined" by Obi Wan. No consensus.

- argued at least 4X with eldest about The Cutting of the Hair. Turns out that I am the only one who does nothing all day, and so should have TONS OF TIME to cut hair.

- read the list of Federov's Wimbledon wins out to everyone from the newspaper. We all agreed that we were impressed.

- finished Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris at lunch. All agreed they loved it. Asked FDPG what the title of it was 3X. Not a memorable title, obviously.

- watched my skin wrinkle.

- watched FDPG fling a handful of cards at her brother during a particularly fierce game of UNO Flash.

- showed the twins the latest pictures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. No one recognized Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.

- filled out Win Harry Potter Tickets! quiz. Argued endlessly as to which magic ability would be better. No consensus.

- read in the newspaper that the average can of pop contains 10 teaspoons of sugar so demonstrated VERY GRAPHICALLY what 10 teaspoons of sugar look like to shocked offspring. No one had ANY IDEA, obviously.

- pondered whether or not offspring will remember that pop contains a lot of sugar. Or care.

- bought our aged neighbour a BBQ lighter after witnessing him flinging 12 lit matches into his BBQ.

- finally watched the day come to an end. Phew.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ad Hoc Irritations

I just heard something on the radio that really really irked me, so I'm using this blog in a way I normally avoid: as a platform.

I realize that these are tough times, even here in Canada, but that is absolutely no excuse to tie your 12 year old dog to the door of the SPCA, with a note saying that you can't look after it anymore. You took that pet on. For TWELVE YEARS. You have a responsibility to that pet. A duty. And don't be telling me that you are broke and can't feed it because I've seen homeless people with their dogs, trolling around town. I don't see them tying their dogs up to the doors of the SPCA.

If you love your pet there is ALWAYS a way around a tight situation. And I'm not talking public handouts.

Shame on you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Random Garden Revelations

Well, this is our third summer in this house (we've lived here two full years), which gives me 2 major garden experiences to think back on (the first year we'd just moved in and the garden was yet to be established). Watching the garden morph over a couple of years is sort of like watching the kids grow: you see what works in terms of clothing and feeding and entertainments, although in the case of the garden I see what works in terms of crop choices, garden placement, fertilizing, and pest management decisions.

So what have I learned from living here so far?

1. I need to plant more lettuce that I think I will need. And it will need more room than I think it will need. And I should probably grind up my eggshells before I need them so that I have my slug barriers in place before the lettuce comes up, thus preventing the slugs from eating all the tender lettuce shoots. (sheila coughs self-consciously as organization is so not her forte)

2. We eat more green onions that I thought we would. So far I have planted 4 packages of bulbs (100 bulbs per package) and we will probably eat them all.

3. Tomatoes take up more room that one might think (when one is seeding one's 4,237 Tigerellas way back in March). And in contrast to what I might have said, one only needs so many tomatoes before one has too many bloody tomatoes everywhere. Note to self: next March, do not plant every seed you have in the seed box. There is a distinct possibility that you might NOT find a space for them. You do NOT live on a farm.

4. Potato beds mulched with cosy warm straw attract garden snakes. Garden snakes that morph into 50' long monsters that slither over the hands as one is scrabbling for potatoes. Note to self: don't scream so loud next time, people think you are nutty enough already.

5. We do not need 16 pumpkin plants. That is too many pumpkin plants, particularly when they decide to grow into everything in the yard, curling their tendrils around tiny apples, and inserting their prominent proboscises into everything within fifty feet. They are taking on a life of their own out there.

6. This fall I WILL spray dormant oil and BT on the fruit trees. I will also be more assiduous about putting bands of Tanglefoot around the base of the trunks. Call me a killjoy, but the thrill of discovering colonies of black beetles and coddling moths all over my apple trees has paled greatly at this point. I know Garry oaks are a protected species on this island but I hate 'em for looming over my garden, the big bug-infested buggers.

7. I do not need to let every mallow seedling grow. Truly, I do not. Mallows get big. Big and lanky. Ditto for the fennel seedlings. We do not need every fennel seedling that sprouts in the yard. Ditto the nasturtiums. We can only eat so many nasturtium flowers. Oh, and one only needs one packet of Extra Long Super Dooper Nasturtium Trailing Wonders for one's garden. They reproduce like mad. And they really are extra long. Sigh.

8. I will lay the soaker hoses BEFORE all the plants converge around them in a jungle-like tangle that is next to impossible to penetrate. I will. And I will remember which layout is most effective in terms of soaking coverage. And I will remember where I hid put the attachments for the water wands so that I do not need to go back to Home Despot and sob briefly while I buy more. I will also buy more rubber hose washers for the watering timers for when they leak all over the place, so that I am not required to stand in the heat of the day, screwing and unscrewing them in the vain hope that they might magically have fixed themselves. Richard will appreciate this, because then he will not be required to come out to assist me before I go completely mad (and prevent me from sharing my impressive, err, vocabulary with the children).

9. Finally, one must not take a deep breath when one is mixing kelp meal and rock phosphate together. Nor when one is spreading peat moss around one's blueberries. One will sneeze.

So there you go, Sheila's Random Garden Revelations for 2009.