Monday, August 31, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

So I felt random and distracted and thought this would be the appropriate way to wrap up a few embarrassing and unrelated things that have been floating around in my brain. If you want more random than this go to The UnMom!

You know when someone farts in the house? Then everyone hollers, "Who farted?"

Well, in normal homes every one is in total screeching denial and won't admit to any fumes. Right...?

But not in my house...

My kids COMPETE for the credit. They start yelling, "I DID, I did it!!!" back and forth at each to claim the title of best farting child. It does not matter who was really responsible, they fight over who farted every stinking time. Who needs a dog when your kid will take the credit.


This is just not right.

New topic: Jack-dog died about a month ago. So now there is no resident dog at our compound. Poor guy was almost blind and deteriorating fast. He liked to lay on the red brick steps to Suzi's house and nap daily. When walking up the steps I can occasionally get a whiff of his doggie smell permeating the approach. His scent is still in the bricks.

I am starting to think it is really his ghost coming back to sleep on his favorite spot.

Something else: How many years of conditioning does it take to get husbands to put wrappers in the trash can. Or the peanut butter away? Or the spoon in the sink? Really, I WANT TO KNOW!!!

And for that matter how long does it take to train a husband to put a can in the recycling? Seems now, I have been with my husband for 13 years and I find myself ranting several days a week that we have been recycling for over a decade now. Methinks he is in DENIAL of some insidious nature.

Question for Ella: Why must you take apart every pen that you put your grubby little mitts on??

I am always finding the scattered remains, the cadaver parts of some pen that met with my little dismantling child.

Now this question:

Do you know what this is?

OK...Dumb question.

But, you are WRONG it is not a jumpy house. It is a night time potty training reversal tool.

I shall explain. Both my kids have been totally night time potty trained for a long while: 2+ yrs for Wyatt and 9 months for Ella. The Jumpy house arrived on a Friday. Friday night Wyatt peed the bed after vigorously jumping for at least an hour. Saturday night both Wyatt and Ella peed the bed after vigorous jumping (cumulative over 2 hrs each).

As Ella staggered in to my room at 3 am, after finding herself soaking wet, she got the award for quote of the week saying, "Mommy, I'm really sweaty. My clothes are too sweaty, Mom. Can we change them?"

Sunday night, both kids got up to pee at night. Mommy deserves a night off now.

So, I have a new word association for this child containment system now.

Jumpy House = Nighttime Pee Inducer

And a final embarrassing tidbit that falls definitely in the too much information category. But what the hay! Since I am sharing strange things here goes:

Ella is in the bathroom finishing her business. I come to help her and make sure she does not stuff the toilet full of an entire roll of TP. She has lately aspired to clog our toilet for some reason.

I am squatting down to help her put her pants back on. She gets really close to me and does two exaggerated, deep sniffs then says, "Stinky. Stinky breath!"

Thanks Ella. I just can't get a break anywhere these days. In my defense I had not yet brushed my teeth so that miserable morning breath had not been beaten back yet. But it's nice to know my daughter can be my halitosis monitor now.

How come 50 percent of this post is about bodily functions?

Random is as random does.

Random on people.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Enough Summer Already

I don't really like summer. I just tolerate it with forbearance and keep up my hope for the cooler days I know will follow soon. I have no choice. Technically, Summer ends in late September, but who's counting the months any more. I just want summer to be done.

As I listen to the sound of crickets faithfully clicking outside through the open window, I enjoy their soft life-song. There's not much I cherish about the summer season, but invisible crickets chirping steadily, their metronome in sync, is one of the small consolations to the heat.

Their short little lives are always lived out in the hot, dry grasses and brown dusty dirt of the horse pasture and the land out back of our house. For them summer is everything. It is their destiny and eternity all wrapped up into a few short months. Contentment with heat, feasting upon what ever crickets eat, stiffened grass blades, persistent weeds, and laying eggs to hatch next year when the weather turns just right. That is life to a cricket. That and having their legs ripped of by experimental boys.

The songs of summer.

Then the sound of my orange-vanilla cream cat, Jimmy-cat, meowing cat, spiral-swirling patterned cat, eating a fat gopher on the porch always creeps me out. I call out, "Good boy Jimmy," when he meows loudly upon his arrival to the screen door; he likes to shows off his bounty for the evening. I get up and walk to see him. He has the trophy in his mouth still and meows again through the taste of fur. He places the gopher on the stoop; indeed, it's about the size of his head. Then it appears my acknowledgment of his kill is permission to begin dining. I move back to my hard bench seat and continue to type, tuning out the sound of miniature bones breaking as he eats his rodent prize.

The wooden seat beneath my bones numbs me, but does not remove the heat from the air.

Lime pop-sickles are a saving grace and cold comfort to the night, which is just too hot. When will the cool come? When crickets no longer chirp. The sound of silence in the darkened night beckons the new season. It's not here yet...

Earlier in the day, I spitefully opened the door to the full day's heat, walking out back to feed my horses. I long for winter, rain, misty air floating with fairy-like drizzle, cool water drip-dropping on my face in asymmetrical rhythms. I long to see the random flowing of water droplets across my window, dancing their way down the pane where they collect on the sill and then fall again to earth, proving gravity still works.

The dust kicked up by the milling equines reminds me they live in it. Exposed, engulfed, encapsulated by the element of heat and the pressing sun. The suns rays bore into my skin like a tick burrowing for blood. Shade, where is the shade? I sweat. I melt. The horses persevere. They were built for heat and cold. They don't seem to mind. They have trees to stand beneath. The shade is theirs, but they will still opt to roast in the sun.

A random helicopter and the sound of passing cars cut through the night air, the tell-tale signs of other lives, other people, other paths moving through the heat. A motorcycle rips across the valley, it's engine screaming happily; I can hear it moving south along our country road, the noise lingers, the sound fades incrementally, and then is gone.

Loud, demanding meows from the Oreo cookie cat, cookies and cream cat, black and white monster cat, Shmobie-cat brings me out from my absent minded reveries. I am the automatic door opener. He still has not figured out how to come through the broken screen door, the most recent casualty of my kids destruction. I let him in, swinging open the cheap metal door who's screen mesh floats away from the frame oh so effortlessly.

I await the coolness that should have been here by now. I want the draft from my window to float across the room bringing all its refreshing goodness with it. It is not here. I am still waiting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

We had a little party over the weekend.


I came across this photo opportunity which was simply irresistible.

This is a sleeping man. Yes, I assure you dead asleep. What is my daughter doing? She is watching Dora the Explorer........ with a special foot rest.

I am guessing that after drinking a few beers my dear and loving husband fell asleep on the couch. (I was cooking on the BBQ like a mad woman.) Then my napping daughter emerged from her slumber into the living room and thought, "Hmm, Daddy's head will make a nice pillow."

A close up just cause I can.

My husband said, "This is just how tired I was. I can't believe this is going on the blog. But I know that they all want to see me at my best."

Mike's excuse is that he rode the BMX bikes three days in a row at the "new" bike park in town. Sort of like this (that's Mike jumping on our berm):

I am dealing with a maniac. Really, I need help around here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Year Later in Our Simple Life

It's Our Blogiversary!!


That's"Greetings to you people in 'cat'." I will write in human for your sake since after all I know you all don't understand cat.

Why am I here today? Good question.

The tall lady is celebrating one year of blogging as of today. All these words and sentences and paragraphs are really hard on a cat. I have had to learn new things just to understand the humans. But I am a special cat, sent for extraordinary feats.

I appeared at the beginning of her stories and strange interpretations and explanations of the place we live. It is undeniable that the tall lady can be kind and generous, penny pinching and miserly, wordy and annoying, and strict and totalitarian; she is many things, but not very simple.

The loud man, the tall ladies male person, says that the tall lady is cheating on him when she writes for her blog. But I think stories about me are excellent. How is writing about me cheating?? I think the loud man likes to say crazy things just to annoy the tall woman.

But since I am feline, I have to provide commentary about this anniversary stuff. I am a good cat after all. And a Lucky cat. Actually, I KNOW her first post on this blog was about ME. You could read about how the tall lady found me here.

The tall lady dragged me out from that dreadful culvert pipe across the hot black surface where the cars go really fast. If it weren't for her I don't know what would have happened to me. That pipe was cold and I don't know where my brothers and sisters went. Mom seemed to be missing too. Somehow I got separated from them, but it all ended well I guess. I am a cat. I make due. And sometimes I live like a king, especially when the short lady, who lives next door, lets me sleep on the kids beds. But that is a huge secret since the quiet man is allergic to me and I make him sneeze.

This is me below when I was about 14 weeks old. I was a little runt. Well, I still am a little runt. What can I say? I am petite.

The little humans are strange creatures, always running around and digging or yelling. Sometimes I chase them when I am feeling especially frisky. But being a black cat I tire easily in the heat and then go to my secret hiding place for a few hours of rest. They still don't know where my retreat is. I am stealth like that.

Sometimes I hide in the trees. Kind of like a big leopard cat, lounging on a branch. The tall lady has spied me in my favorite cottonwood, but I don't think she is going to blow my cover.

But about the tall lady who writes this blog. I heard her thinking about why she started her blog.

Yes, we cats can hear you think.

The tall lady wanted to document life for her human kittens, so they would have something in writing about what happened when they were little. For example, who would have known about when Wyatt tried to wash my butt without the tall lady's writing about it. Or the time the tall lady thought I was dead. Or how I tolerate the little humans wrapping me in blankets. Or how she feels about daylight savings. Or how the loud man makes her Insane Type I or Insane Type II. See I can think beyond my self even though I am a cat!!

Additionally, for her anniversary the tall lady was thinking about her very first follower El at Expanding the Family, who showed up from somewhere in the blogspher giving her encouragement in her writing efforts. El gave the tall lady hope that her words were being read and enjoyed by other people. Why do humans want this? We cats don't care one paw swipe about what others think. Hmmm. Then Yaya at Yaya Stuff started following. And then more humans followed too.

For some reason those first few followers were significant to the tall lady on this anniversary. She told me so, I did not have to read her mind. We cats don't ever show much appreciation for anything, BUT she wanted me to say Thank You to them and Thank You to ALL of the other people who read the blog and make comments on the inane human babble that she writes. OK, maybe I made up the part about inane... but it is human babble.

Well, I gotta go. I saw a moth flutter by the window. Moths make me twitch. And I am hungry again. I have not passed enough toxic cat gas lately, so I need some ammunition to stink up the humans house. It's all in a days work for a cat. I guess I can wish the tall lady a happy anniversary too. But it will be telepathically for sure.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mrs. Spider

I noticed a creature parked on my kitchen window sill a few weeks ago. It appeared to be an immobile spider and I thought it was dead. I watched and observed and keenly analyzed the situation. This was not a dead spider.

Make no mistaken assumption in regard to my relationship with arachnids. I do NOT like spiders. They creep me out. Like, give me the shivers kind of spider fearing, get a vacuum suck them up fearing, get the broom and sweep them away fearing, a controlled but somewhat irrational fear.

However, I tried to maintain my impartial scientific composure about this particular spider and I took no rash measures. This spider did not look like it was threatening me. I think it was talking to me subliminally. “Let me be…” it was singing in a calm and serene voice. Now I can hear some of you thinking I am smoking something green or I am high on goof balls or I am sniffing my kids glue sticks but I swear it is not true! You know who you are… stop thinking bad thoughts!

It (the spider) was not moving and seemed to be stationed over a white linear container of some kind. I had my suspicions about what was really going on, but put it all in the back of my mind. I am a biologist after all and try not to let primal fears over take my curiosity and scientific mind. I must remain objective sometimes.

The question remained. What was this spider doing? This dog-like faithfulness to the window sill continued for several weeks. I opened the window every evening to let fresh air in the house after the hot summer days. I closed the window every morning to trap the cool air inside. And the spider remained there, perched, clinging, hovering. She even lost one leg that got caught by someone's injudicious closing of the window, but still she was not going anywhere.

Ration and intuition being what it is, I knew that this was not just any spider. This was a mom spider dedicated to her unborn babies. The devoted care and guardianship she showed during their gestation was admirable to me, and I am a confirmed spider hater. But putting aside my prejudices I let nature be nature and I watched and waited.

Then one day it happened.

From several feet away I could tell something was different. I closely inspected the site that Mrs. Spider had been guarding so assiduously and there they were. Tiny little spiders surrounded her, clinging to the window sill. Creamy white mini-me's, only amounting to a few millimeters in size, her offspring were awake. They were miniature versions of herself. As they hatched from their cocoon they circled around mom and waited.

For several days the babies just stuck close to mom. I continued to open and close the window and Mrs. Spider and her offspring stayed very still. A few babies ventured out further away from the radius of mom’s protection and could be found down the window sill. I would blow air on them to make sure they were alive and to see if I could influence them to go out the window. It made no difference. They clung tenaciously to their spot de jour.

Then about four days after they were born, they all disappeared. It was like the magic words were spoken or Mrs. Spider gave them all the signal and they were gone, just like that. I am hoping that means out the window.

The arachnophobe in me quells at the thought of all those spiders crawling around my house… But I could not muster the thought of demolishing this mom spider who was beautifully doing what she was meant to do. The simplest explanation is that my conscience would not let me kill her. And I have a feeling that mom spider died shortly after her babies fledged. Her last efforts in life were to ensure the survival of her babies. What mom can't understand that.

I hope the little ones are eating bugs somewhere outside. Or at least that is the thought with which I comfort myself. But to appreciate that with which you are uncomfortable is a challenge unto it self which we all need to find on occasion.

One little baby spider step at a time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Change in The Air

The pungent scent of tarweed (Hemizonia congesta) has hinted that fall is coming. The weedy aroma smells best in the early morning when the cold night air has sunken low and hugs the earth. Even though this plant is native to California, it acts like a weed growing late in the year in grassland habitats. It smells even better with a foggy cap covering the sky which keeps all things sniffy close to the ground. If you look carefully at the picture below you will see little white looking fuzz on the stems and leaves. It's really not fuzz but glands that secrete oils. That's what creates the unforgettable smell of tarweed.

When I was a kid and my horses lived at Ramos Ranch I remember the onset of the tar face season. Not scar face...tar face. My Palomino mare would come in from grazing with a blackened mussel and legs. The tar weed produces a dark resin which is exuded on the leaves and stems and all equines would be covered in a generous layer of muck on their contact points. Now, my pastures are so small that the tarweed never gets a chance to grow beyond seedlings so I don't have to scrub the horse's legs and faces clean. I remember that some horses would get so much of the resin on their faces that their eyes teared from the vapors, or so it seemed.

The colder weather that is going to arrive will be welcome and all the little creatures that have been hiding in the cracks, crevices and ground squirrel holes will be coming out of their summer hibernation seeking food. Those creatures with permeable skin like the toads and frogs spend most of the summer in their refuges underground and when the cold begins, start venturing out sniffing for rain. Sometimes at night on my travel to feed the horses on cold summer nights I will catch a glimpse of one of these lumpy strangers hopping around, chasing insects. But winter is really the time for amphibians to be active.

In preparation for the winter that is to come we spent some time working on our pond which has been long neglected. The liner was punctured by some children with sticks and special tape was procured to repair these breeches.

We were all so sad this year that there was not enough water in our natural drainage for the toads to breed. The long gelatinous ribbons with black dots were markedly missing from this rainy season.

If my pond was HOLDING water it would have been used by the amphibians but alas these rips prevented that. After pulling all the dried weeds from the exterior of the pond and cleaning out extra debris we were ready to test it.

All the kids like to document the growth of the toad tadpoles and we have monitored the progression of little black swimming jelly beans to the teeny, tiny toads. They are amazing to see when fully metamorphosed because they are just so small it is unbelievable.

So after taping up the problem areas, I filled the pond and the kids had fun with non-puncturing dippers. Everything looked good for a while then I noticed it was draining a little too fast for purely evaporation.

Therefore, unfortunately I have more work to do. There has to be another hole in there somewhere that remains undetected. Drat. Now all the dirt in the pond bottom must come out. But a fully functioning pond must be!! We want our pond back...

And by the way, last week Wyatt turned 5. I can hardly believe it. The kids just keep getting bigger all the time. You can't stop them now can you??

Wish me luck this week. I am flying off to LA for work and have to launch Super Why (Wyatt) into Kindergarten. It's a big week ahead. I hope all moms and dads out there are ready for school to begin and I wish you all good luck!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Maximum Houdinii

More drama from The Horse Files....

I pulled off Max's wraps as direct by the vet yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see a dry and healing wound. This looks excellent. Trust me on this one. I have seen these knee wounds before and this slice looks about as good as it can get. The knee is still swollen but will calm down in a few more days.

Mr. Escape Artist even got loose yesterday for a little roll in the sand arena and frolicking outside his stall and no extra damages were accrued. I will take small blessings where they are given.

I think tomorrow he can have paddock privileges, if he is good... Just kidding. He can't help himself but be naughty half the time.

So about Max letting himself out of his stall.

Here you go. This is how it is done. Not so tough when you mouth works like hands.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just When You Think Things Are Going Good...**** Happens

Just when I think everything is going peachy keen and happy-like, some body throws a monkey wrench into the gears and fouls it all up. It seems that the horses think that I have not spent enough money on a vet bill this year and it was time to send the money flying out of my checkbook like escaping fireflies dashing into the darkening sky.

I walked out to feed the horses this morning and found a bloody kneed Max-horse. He's a frisky guy and probably fell down or was so rowdy that Sharpie finally laid him out one. It takes A LOT to get Sharpie to kick so if he did so, Max had it coming.

But now there are stitches in Max's knee and he is in lock down for two long, agonizing, miserable, gut wrenching weeks.

Question of the Day:

What does a carrot sees before it dies?


This is Max's expensive leg wrapped up all pretty-like.

Max likes to walk in his stall. He does not like confinement. Not that horses should like to be locked in a 12 x 12 cage, but he handles it worse than most equines. In fact, he is an Einstein horse and has developed strategies to escape from his prison.

Video to come...

The suspense builds.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gemma Horse is Growing Up

I have been riding my young horse through the last two years and making slow progress in her education. Having small kids sure puts a damper on one's riding time. That and work and laundry and meals and everything else moms have to do. You get the picture.

Gemma is five this year and is almost ready to begin showing in Dressage. This fall or early next year I have to get her out in front of a judge. She is ready for Training Level and nearly ready for 1st Level competition so I am biding my time.

Consistency in training strategies make a big difference, and even though my rides have been sporadic and she has had large breaks of time off with the occasional month or two vacation, she has continued to improve. We get a lesson about every six weeks with our trainer and in between we work on all our building blocks formerly laid down on the training path.

This horse has been by far the easiest and most physically able equine mount I have had the privilege to ride. I don't really post much about the horses here, since I think horse jargon and technical discussions are well covered on other blogs. But I wanted to share this little snippet of Gemma at the trot, stretching to walk, and at the canter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some One is Earning His Keep!!!!

Proud Jimmy Kitty brought home a baby ground squirrel today.

Finally, a cat who is doing something more than acting like a couch ornament!!!!

After a few kind comments in favor of the ground squirrels I thought I should present my case for wanting their extermination... This photo should leave no room for question ye squeemish ladies.

Holes in my arena just will not do. The vermin dig from around "E" and burrow beneath the arena. They are naughty little rodents.

I love them too with their big liquid eyes but they are destructive little demons. Facts are facts...

Now, if you have any other sappy ideas about the ground squirrels just check out this HERE post.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Button, Button Who's Got the Button?

I am trying to make a new button for this blog. It seems that my old button, as endearing as it was to me, is becoming outdated in my motherly eyes...

I am looking at this "new" grumpy kid picture to replace it. See any resemblance?

Or does the boy need a turn at being the spokes model? Or maybe a chicken?? I don't know... More work to do.

August 23 is my one year anniversary with this blog, so I have to do something to commemorate the event. I think this button is a good start.

The Day the Swallows Came Home

The tree swallows are here already.  They arrived January 30 much to my dismay.  Swooping and calling and chirping their merry song over my ...