Garden update

I promised to post pictures once my garden got to a braggable state. Check these out:

Blueberries - Although the plants have only been in the ground a couple months, one is already producing plump, sweet berries. More surprisingly, the ravens have been leaving them alone.

Artichoke - Prior to planting I wasn't aware of just how big these plants would get. Then we visited the garden at Mission San Juan Capistrano. It was there that I learned that within a few months these will be big enough we will lose all view beyond the corner of the yard.

Romaine - I was a little worried that these went into the ground too late in the season. So far they're growing well and should be harvestable. I'll just need someone to tell me when that time comes.

Pumpkin - Thing 2 wanted to plant "prize pumpkins" - the kind that grow to be hundreds of pounds. We said no. He's just gonna have to deal with standard sized Jack-o-lanterns this year.

Zucchini - We've been warned, but we didn't listen. All 9 of our plants are now flowering. I suspect before too long they'll take over the whole yard.

Cucumber - I'm disappointed in the progress these plants have made. Maybe they're just slow growers?

Bell Peppers - These haven't grown much either, but at least they haven't died. If they ever fruit we'll potentially have 6 didn't varieties.

Green Onion - I planted these throughout the garden to repel pests. The added bonus will be when we get to eat them.

Corn - It's not even the 4th of July and already they're knee-high.

Grapes - We planted a couple of these on a whim. They were bare-root and dead looking when I found them on clearance at Home Depot for $2.49 each. Now they've leafed out and doubled in size. Hopefully someday they'll bare fruit.

Navel Orange - I'm beginning to suspect our efforts at watering have been insufficient for the past couple of years. The biggest positive externality of a new vegetable garden has been a bumper crop of itty-bitty baby oranges.

Sugar Peas - These have outgrown the mesh we installed for support and are now starting to overrun the trampoline.

Already we've harvested more than a dinner's worth of peas. Before planting I probably should've checked to make sure the neighbors even like peas.

Tomatoes - We planted 16 plants of 3 different varieties of tomatoes. So far only the Sweet 100s have ripened, but the Early Girls, and the Momotaros are well on their way.

Strawberries - Berries are starting to emerge from the blossoms. Now I've got to figure out how to keep the kids away long enough for them to ripen.

Broccoli - After they were eaten to the ground in an early season bunny attack I contemplated ripping them out and starting over. But that requires work. Instead I figured I'd give them a couple months to prove their resiliency. It looks like they've made a leafy recovery, although I still wonder if they'll produce any heads.

Side Note - The bunnies made me really, really mad. So mad, in fact, that I started wishing for the return of the coyote pack that used to live in the drainage ditch on the hill behind our house.
Not being able to find a pack of wild coyotes to reintroduce into the neighborhood I opted for a controversial bunny deterrent I read about in an online gardening forum - cayenne pepper powder. Apparently bunnies don't like it because it burns their paws, and their mouths, and their eyes. Bunnies have even been known to claw out their own eyes in an attempt to stop the burning. Poor bunnies. Maybe next time they'll leave my garden alone.

Carrots - The tops are tall and bushy, but the carrots themselves are still tiny. I'm holding out hope for veggies worthy of a salad.

Compost Bin - I put Nate to work building one after I spent a boat-load of money on soil amendment, fertilizer, and mulch. Now it sits (and spins) in the backyard and collects our fruit & veggie scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and anything else that will compost. I've become such an enthusiastic composter I have another black water barrel waiting to be transformed for its second life as a compost tumbler.


The Sketcher Scoot

He's not particularly efficient, but does he really need to be?


She's not missing anymore

Thing 3 is safely posted, compliments of another relatively painless trip to JCPenney's Portrait Studio.
Thing 3 is now 4 years old. She enjoys hair pretties, twirly dresses, and sparkly blue lipstick. She loves to sing and dance, and looks forward to resuming ballet class after the commencement of her studio's over-the-top recital (in which she is not participating because her mother thinks productions of this magnitude are ridiculous for 4 year olds who can still barely walk without tripping over their own feet and falling down.)


The big 3-5

Nate - do you believe this was the only recent photo I could find to post?

Hard to believe, huh? What, with the paper plate and the pink turban . . .

. . . Happy Birthday, sweets. Hope it was at least a comfortable one.

Four years + 2 weeks

Happy Birthday my Ellie Bean, my Smelly Bean, my lovely little Bean Machine.

Four years filled with laughing and dancing, singing and playing . . . promise me a thousand more.

Not again . . .

Three years ago Thing 1 came home from 1st grade with a note from the school nurse. She recommended Addy see an optometrist. While Nate had also suspected that Addy's vision was impaired, the slew of pediatricians she has seen over the first 6 years of her life had each insisted her eyes were fine. The optometrist disagreed. She diagnosed Addy with moderate amblyopia and prescribed a strong prescription to stave off the potential need for chemical or physical eye patching.

Since that time Addy has had 5 pairs of glasses.

The first pair, while super cute (with a miniature Ariel on the each of the temples), required frequent trips to the optician to have a lens put back in the frame. Weekly trips. That pair was replaced as quickly as allowable by insurance reimbursement.

The second pair was more grown up. Stylish and expensive. They would have lasted a while, except Addy chose to scratch the lens with a sharp implement in a fit of anger and frustration (we think.) We've yet to figure out exactly how she did it.

The third pair included photo chromatic lenses - those geeky lenses that darken in sunlight. Addy had been complaining that everyone else got to wear sunglasses and she didn't because she had to wear regular glasses. Squeaky wheel. That pair of glasses was victim of a faceplant during PE at school. Polycarbonate lenses really hold onto embedded asphalt.

The fourth pair were identical to the third pair. We liked them that well. Unfortunately quality control was an issue. The bridge failed. At least Costco optical offered to replace them free of charge.

Unfortunately the fifth pair wasn't identical to the third and fourth. By that time the manufacturer had quit making the frames. Can't imagine why. Instead pair #5 are real grownup glasses, as Costco only carries 5 kids' frames and none of them lived up to Thing 1's discriminating tastes.

All that in just 3 years.

Then I come home from book club to find this taped to the front door:

For now pair 5 is being held together by a twisted paperclip. Pair #6 will come along once these are made in her size.


Know thine audience

It was my turn to drive carpool to piano lessons today. I dropped Porter and Addy off and took the rest of the Things to Target. It was a typical visit - returns, popcorn and Icee, unnecessary purchases (facilitating the next visit's returns, of course.)

The exit to the car was less than ordinary, however. I saw them before I even made it through the glass doors. Two young adults, clipboards in hand, were scouting potential targets (pun intended.) I only had 8 minutes before piano lessons were over, and a 5 minute drive to get there (assuming all green lights - but you know what assuming makes for.)

But I'm a nice enough person. I figured 3 minutes of my time was a generous contribution to whatever cause they were promoting.

When I got closer I saw the name on their t-shirts - Greenpeace.


Greenpeace in south Orange County, CA?

Don't they know that this is perhaps the most conservative of all California counties? That people here have lots of money to spend on frivolous, over-priced things (like Republican candidates) and usually couldn't care less about grungy tree-hugging and whale-saving?

This isn't the place where all those pseudo-celebs in excessively expensive designer clothing are driven in Priora (that's plural for Prius) to awards shows where they spout soapbox ideals about carbon credits and green energy to a television audience who cares more about baby bumps and rehab stints.

We're the county south of Hollywood. People here wear excessively expensive designer clothing and drive Bugatti(s)and Maybach(s) and spout capitalistic ideals about deregulation, free-market economies, and oil-drilling in ANWR. But not me. I just wear Levi's and drive a minivan.

Poor kid. He approached me and opened with ,"You're a mother, so of course you care about mother earth." Yeah. And I'm stupid too. If Greenpeace had their way, the entire human race would be obliterated to spare any further destruction of "mother earth".

He followed with, "Kimberly-Clark is a manufacturer of Kleenex and other throw-away products made by clear-cutting the last ancient forests in North American." Uh-huh.

"And where would these forests be located?"

"Oh, they're in British Columbia, and the Canadian government hasn't been responsive to our concerns about the clear-cutting. They weren't responsive to our concerns about clubbing baby seals, either."

Really? Seal pups now?

Feel free to prove me wrong, but I suspect most mothers in this world are more concerned about the plight of abused children, smacked around for no reason other than the violent, bully nature of adults, than a baby seal clubbed over the head, instantly put out of its misery prior to being skinned and eaten so as to prevent the starvation of an indigenous society. At least this mother is.

I'm really not so presumptuous to assume (again with the assuming) that my opinion should have any influence over long-suffering cultural (and/or culinary) practices. Yeah, baby seals are cute and soft and cuddly (if their momma seals aren't close enough to witness said cuddling), but so are calves. And piglets. And chicks. And fishies (according to Thing 1.)

And I too would be unresponsive if some holier-than-thou feel-good organization tried to tell me that I can't club them over the head in order to feed my family.

In a best-case scenario, anyway.

More likely I'd club the big-mouth over the head, skin and eat them for dinner, and then cuddle with my saved animals.

But I digress . . .

"So who owns these forests?"

"What?" the poor boy asked in a strange, surprised tone.

"Who owns the ancient forests that are currently being clear-cut?"

"Well, I'm not really sure. Probably the British (flustered kid, he meant Canadian) government. I've never actually been asked that before."

And that would be the problem. Or maybe the indicator.

Can a uninformed, self-righteous mouthpiece really expect to sway public opinion if they don't know who they're talking to, or even what they're talking about?

My 3 minutes were up, so I walked away after leaving him with my parting, capitalistic opinion - I believe if you want to save something, you better own it.

Poor kid. His only response, "I should probably find out who owns that forest."

Yes, my boy, you should.

If my experience is any evidence, by tomorrow Greenpeace will be back in LA County.


The End

Day 13 - Departing from HNL.

All are alive, coughing and feverish, and unenthusiastic about a red-eye flight.

In the middle - Saying Goodbye

Grandma-Great Day with all the Things.

Sketch snoozing on Darren. Poor baby was still miserable.

No, it's not eye black. The blisters popped (or more likely were scratched off) and scabbed over.

The shave ice wore off. Thing 3 was back to feeling lousy.

Pappy and the Things.

All are alive, worn-out, and ready to be back in their own beds.

In the middle - Day 11

Sunday is a day of rest.

And toenail painting.

And a visit to the Laie Temple.

All are alive, resting, and hoping to feel better.

In the middle - Day 10

Kayaking comes before packing up.

Courtney and Jack, into the deep blue sea.

Ellie waited her turn, just not in the water.

Nate & Thing 4 went home in the middle of the night. Sunburn and fever means a sleepless night. And then the blisters appear.

Thing 3 felt lousy too.

But shave ice at Matsumoto's makes (almost) everything better.

All are alive, some are sick, all are well-sugared.

In the middle - Day 9 Happy Birthday

Ellie & Mikey share this birthday. And this year they shared it, camping at the beach.

Things 1-3 were supposed to be in the sun, and were prepared with lots of sunscreen.

Thing 4 was not supposed to be in the sun. He had no sunscreen.

So he got a pink face. But Grandma-Great Day still thinks he's cute.

Mikey and Ellie share a birthday, and a chair.

Barbie clothes. Hurray!

And a Tinkerbell dress-up. What more could a little girl want?

All are alive, smoky, and so excited to have a new 4 year old.