Thursday, May 26, 2011

Genetic Gardening Compulsion

It's the day before a big spring or summer vacation: what are you doing?
a) packing
b) catching up with work before you leave stuff
c) pre-relaxing
d) fixing the sprinkler system, mulching, building a new garden bed, laying soaker hoses or something similar.

If your answer does not include "d" you are probably not genetically related to one side of my family (and frankly, if it is not "all of the above, assuming throwing some sort of get together counts as 'c' " you are probably not my parents). As I was mulching recently (obviously a must before a vacation) I decided that this might be genetic and not cultural because I'm pretty sure that my uncle, who certainly never influenced my vacation planning culturally, would be getting plants in the ground until dark the night before a May vacation, if he had ever abandoned his work and his house during the growing season.

I thought I might post "before" photos of the new garden beds, but I still have a and b to do before I can sleep (which surely counts as c), so I'll just post a photo of the spring vegetable beds a week ago and the result of the crazy-grown-up-shopping we did recently.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mister Splashy Pants Does Not Like The Storm Shelter

And I can't say I blame her; it's uncomfortable and the weather radio makes horrible noises. Still, I'm glad we have the little basement that we do. We sheltered in it during a tornado warning for the first time yesterday and fortunately did not need to. While there was a funnel cloud just a few miles from town, in the end the closest of the many destructive tornadoes in the area touched down about twenty miles from here.
Other people in the area were not nearly so lucky. This twister was one of the smaller ones we "watched" live as we were glued to the tv yesterday. Watching the footage is all the more fascinating when one knows that the semi driver walked away.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Uncles

My father's brother died last week. I have been struggling to figure out what to say about uncles in general ("they are good to have in ones life"?) or this uncle in particular ("I figured out as an adult that he never really was going to heave me in the Kankakee River when I was five," "I'm still embarrassed that, as a third grader, I got it wrong when he asked me which was bigger 3/4 or 3/5", "he tried to hide his soft side, but I saw him around his grandkids, his dogs, and his turkey, and I know what I nice guy he could be"?) and haven't come up with anything pithy.
I'm very fortunate that my three uncles, very different from each other, have always been part of my life even though I've never lived near any of them. I'm also fortunate (as is everyone in my family) that all three chose fabulous wives. The two that are gone will continue to be much missed, but I must choose to feel lucky for knowing them as long as I did.
I'll add my usual thoughts on the uncertainty of life and celebrating as you go along, but also must remind everyone, but particularly my Brother, my Brother-in-Law, my Father and my Father-in-Law, to take care of yourselves. You are, after all, somebody's cherished uncle.

Birds and Bats and T-shirts

Stumped about the appropriate gift for someone? Want to support a charity in which you know exactly where the money is going?
Buy a t-shirt for one of the Haitian ecotour guides! Or buy one for yourself.
My friend Debbie (who was working to help teach children about the water quality and ecology of Haiti when the earthquake struck in January 2010) designed the shirts so that the guides will stand out and to remind people that bats and birds persist in the forests of Haiti. She gave Dianthus and his sibling prototype shirts, and Dianthus has been happily wearing his sibling's bright orange shirt to day care, where his teacher commented, "We won't lose him today," just as Debbie hoped.
Debbie leaves for another two weeks in Haiti in two weeks, contact her if you'd like to help out with educational or other supplies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Son's Stars

They're winners perhaps because they built tunnels, built a rocking horse, put together a slide, bought him clothes, gave him snacks, took him for walks, let him go on the big boy swings, read him stories, splashed in the bath or talked on the phone. But probably, they are stars to Dianthus because they are his family.
Dianthus was lucky enough to see grandparents in December, January, February, March and April and had a special bonus weekend with his Uncle in April as well.
The winds may blow way too much here, but there is a reason we moved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Star desserts and signature dishes

At the end of spring break, Dianthus and I actually baked some peanut butter cookies, rolled and cut into star shapes. They were no better than ordinary round peanut butter cookies (and perhaps a bit worse) but they were stars, which at least allows me to make one tick towards my star resolution.
When the Mister's Parents visited for Easter, I baked a pavlova. I typically think of the strawberry center as being a floral design, but the case could be made that it is really a star pattern. Two star foods on the list.

On a related note, the Mister asked recently what our signature dishes are. We both could name his signature dishes (chicken biriyani and breakfast burritos with fabulous fried taters) but couldn't list mine. There was a time that pavlova was definitely it for me-- I used to demonstrate making pavlova in 4-H speech competitions and wowed numerous parties with the strawberry star, but apparently it is no longer; the Mister had never previously eaten one and I had forgotten my secret recipe.

What's your signature dish? What's mine?