Tuesday, July 27, 2010


see you on the flip side with a full report.

Monday, July 26, 2010

temp drop

Still no rain, but saw lightning in the middle of the night. Temperature is supposed to be 90 today, which is now considered relief.  Shortly after I posted yesterday's temp, it rose to 109.

At the party I attended in the evening, one man said, "I've lived here for 45 years and have never seen a heat wave like this."

The rest of the family was exhausted from their Busch trip yesterday, but they're going back for more today.  I think they'll have more fun today.

I need to start packing for our trip North.  Honey and Toots and I leave Wednesday to retrieve the boys.  squee!

We're also visiting around Massachusetts and Connecticut, cramming all we can into a couple of days.

Grandma and the visiting gang are holding down the fort at home. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

weather report

Just thought I'd share the current temperature in my little Southeastern Virginia town, which is surrounded on three sides by water:

105 Farenheit.

And I'm not even discussing the heat index.

Please commence official mourning for my tomato and pepper plants.  Also for the lovely spotty dried out boxwoods I trimmed so nicely when it was only 98 degrees out last week. 

Honey and his extended family just headed out to Busch Gardens.  I honestly don't know how all those babies and frankly the adults, are going to survive.

Tune in tomorrow for the heat stroke report.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

babies are good

Thanks for bearing with yesterday's whining. 

For your efforts, in gratitude, I present babyness, utterly plump and nibbly and too many curls between Baby G and Toots for my heart to contain. 

The cousins from Connecticut have arrived.

Friday, July 23, 2010

floor guys, day 2

It was supposed to be done in a day.  Yesterday.

We're on Day Two, Crew Two.  Yesterday was carpet removal day for our living room/ dining room.  We ordered pizza last night.  house is in disarray, and we don't have an eat-in kitchen, so we ate our pizza out on the over one hundred degree heat index deck.  It had cooled of a bit by evening, but still muggy as a summer day is long.

Today, the wood laminate floor is being installed.  The dog is being contained and does not like this, especially since she has to bark at the floor guys until she gets a good sniff - up close and personal like.  And with the walls stripped of paintings and the concrete slab foundation exposed, her sharp little loud bark echoes.  Owie. 

I'm also not feeling so great today.  Toots seemed to have a bit of a stomach bug the other day, but we weren't sure it wasn't just something she ate.  Now I can confirm it was a little bug.  With the heat and humidity and minor stomach yuck, I'm feeling blechy.

Fun, fun, fun.  Aren't you glad I shared? 

But the floor guys assure us the job will be finished today and we should be able to almost get our house in some semblance of order by the time our cousins arrive with their nearly four year old Little M and Baby G.  I can't wait to meet Baby G tomorrow! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


At writing group yesterday, I continued to slog my way through the paper version of my manuscript with purple pen.  Still need to smooth some edges out here and there, but generally, I'm pretty pleased with how it flows.

How's your latest project progressing?

We're also prepping our house for the floor guys to come, they were due tomorrow morning.  We just got a call that they're running behind scheduled and can't make it here until Thursday afternoon rather than morning.  They promised they'd be in and out in one day.  Friday, we need to reassemble the living room and dining room because our guests are arriving Saturday morning, after driving overnight.

Hmmm.  Can't wait to see how this pans out. 

Toots has suddenly become very possessive as we give her a headsup about her cousins' arrival. While she jumped on the trampoline, Grandma asked, "Are you going to jump with Little M on the trampoline?" 

Toots responded by walking to the edge of the trampoline, placing her hands on her hips and announcing to the empty yard, "M - Dis is MY twampowine!"

I told her this morning that her big cousins N and Big M were going to sleep on the guest bed.  She responded with "No, Dis is Grandma's bed and my piwwow.  Dey sweeping in [Captain Comic]'s bed."

I told her Little M and Baby G are sleeping in Captain Comic's room, but N and Big M are sleeping on the guest bed.  She insisted they were not. 

Hopefully, she will be less rigid about sharing and what belongs to whom when they arrive. 

Can't wait to see how all of this pans out. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A walk

Please pardon the cell shot.

My ankle has not entirely healed, but it's been nine weeks since the original owie, and I'm tired of not walking, doing yardwork, gardening, etc.  It's a torn tendon, and takes time to heal, especially since I'm no spring chicken. 

Heck, I'm old enough to say, I'm no spring chicken.

Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic have been away for nearly three weeks now, and that means, between my ankle and the boys' absence, Lucy has not been walked.

She has started to pee the rug and chew things again, much like when we first adopted her from the SPCA, three and a half years ago.  She chewed my aircast the other day.  I took it as a sign to stop wearing it.

I'm talking about the dog, not Toots, who is in the stroller wearing the Red Sox hat.

After a few days worth of yardwork in the well over ninety degree heat and humidity of nearly one hundred percent, I say nearly, because if it were 100%, it would be raining all weekend, which it didn't, though it should have - horrible run on phrase within phrase, but I'm getting to it, really - I decided it was about time I took the dog and the girl for a walk. 

It is summer after all.

The ankle survived.  Sort of.

We saw a goose on the lake.

We saw lifeguards bored out of their skulls tossing a football across the pool, because it was too hot for anyone to swim, and dark thunderhead cumulous clouds were gathering.

We saw M, our 16 year old neighbor who asked when Mr. Cynic will be back, because the pool is no fun without him.  She was surprised by how much Toots had grown, since she saw her as a newborn.  I was surprised by how much M has grown.  I should have asked if she's driving yet, but was in too much shock thinking how I met her as a tiny twelve year old.

We saw flowers and a low flying jet.

And we scooped a poop and carried it home.

Monday, July 19, 2010

aw jeez

This week entails cleaning out diningroom and livingroom furniture and walls of all breakables, etc before Thursday, because that's when we are having the ugly old carpet removed and new flooring put in. 

Exciting, I know. 

But, when the guys are done with the floor, and move the furniture back in, supposedly all in the same day, we will have a new floor. 

Then early Saturday, couisins galore are coming to visit from Connecticut.  Buckets of baby smooshiemushies and kisses will ensue. Toots is approximately a year younger than one, and a year older than the other, and I believe the youngest outweighs ma petite fleur by half.  At least.

To say he is a chubby baby is an understatement.  I love chubby babies, but I'm not certain I'll be able to lift this one.  I think my back may go out.  But I can't wait to see those dimpled legs in person. 

So, manuscript awaits editing read through continuation at writing group tomorrow as I pack china and crystal away for the tumult of Thursday's reflooring. 

And, once again, you may not being seeing too much of me this week.

Thursday's goal is to be out of the house for the duration, if I can manage it.  What should I do with Toots while the flooring guys are here?  Hint: she's lousy at movie theaters.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

i moved the goal posts

I made a plan for the week where I had the house to myself.  I stuck to the plan to a degree, but I moved the goal posts.  Please bear with the mixed metaphors.  I'm sure more will come.

I finally got my printer to work and printed the manuscript.  I was going to read through the first half easily then deal with the big edits for the second half this week.

But when I saw it on paper, I needed to, once again, work more on the first half.  I've been working on that half since February 2003.  I think it's about time I moved to the second half, don't you?

Anyway, one thing I came across: for a couple of name changes, I used an edit function in my word processing program to auto fix. This maneuver screwed up any other word in which the sequence of letters of a that very short name appeared.  It inserted the new name, also a short name, but not the sequence of letters in the middle of other very common words. 

I can barely get through reading the first half without wanting to hunt down Bill Gates and torture him.  My facial expression, when I hit upon one is like unto Bill the Cat.  Do you remember Bill the Cat?  Here's a refresher, and a starter for those not in the know.

Berkley Breathed gets all credit for creation and imagery of this character from his strip, Bloom County.

Second, where I made changes, I need to smooth transitions of blocks of text better.

Third, my a/c broke.  Honey called the repair folks to come on out the afternoon of the same day I had a meeting of a different sort in the morning, so any chance of working on the manuscript was null and void for that day.

And Fourthly, with the place to ourselves, I successfully shifted Toots to napping and sleeping at night on her own in her crib without much difficulty at all.  And we got a good start on actively potty training. 

Toots and I also had a lot of fun just hanging out, we girls, mom and daughter, goofing around the house and such.

I think that was awfully important, too.  don't you?

And Fifthly, is it fifth?  I've lost track.  I trimmed the boxwoods and repotted the driveway markers with new little japanese hollies, so a couple of rather short drivers - are you lookin' at me?! - can see to get out of the driveway without hitting the brick borders of the culvert bridge.

Friday, July 16, 2010

fun prompt: weekword

I'm a new convert to the weekly prompt project that Aimee at artsyville seems to have generated.

Every Monday, she posts winners and who is hosting the prompt among the participants from the previous week.  The blogger posts a word to inspire for the week, then other creative bloggers post on their blogs their own endeavors from the prompt on the following Friday.

At least that's my understanding of how it works.  I hope I'm right. This is my real first go at it.  Last week, Aimee had posted her prompt 'flavor' when I had just posted the perfect shot of Toots eating watermelon on the 4th which happened to fit the prompt well. 

Peggy Fussell is this week's host and her Weekword is Number.  Here's my response, a haiku and photo pairing:

home isn't only
a number to calculate
location, but heart

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

my new favorite thing

Please enjoy while I go back to my edits.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gone writing

I have this week to myself by day, except for Toots, of course. 

Grandma has left town.

The boys have been out of town long enough to get over the 'what am I to do with myself besides miss them' feeling.

Between Sesame Street in the morning and the prayed for naptime in the afternoon, I may actually be able to work more on edits on the manuscript, and with some consistency, so that's my plan.

Sorry, it's not very entertaining, but it is a good plan.

 Wish me luck!  Especially considering Toots is now actively potty training.

Friday, July 9, 2010

oh writing, let me count the ways...

...you can frustrate me:

1. my new printer won't communicate with my computer, so I can't print out the edits I did at writing group to read and redline a bit more by pages in hand. 

2. you come to me in fits and starts while occupying half my concentration all the time.

...you make me do cartwheels, figuratively speaking, of course:

1.  I love a new idea, it makes my heart race and my arms want to write or type in that very moment to the exclusion of all else.  I get that tingly feeling like a teen falling in love.

2. I love rewriting, reworking, getting it right.

3.  (Please let there be a 3 so the positive side can win today.)  That netherworld feeling of one foot here, in the house with the kids and the laundry, and one foot there, in my imagination with my character and his family and friends and dog.  This week has been hovering around 100 degrees outside  and in my manuscript, it's Thanksgiving in New England - bare trees, the beginnings of snow, nose reddening winds.

Ah, thank you writing, for the cool, cool breeze!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird

I may be a little late on this, but I don't think anytime is a bad time to celebrate my personal favorite book of all time.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

I read this book every summer from the summer I was eight years old, admittedly an early age for the material, but I was more caught up with the stories of Scout, Jem, Dill and Boo than I was with the courtroom. I read it every summer until I was twenty-four.  I know, because I remember where I was that summer, reading it, the smells around me mingling with the smells in the book.  I can smell that stifling chicken wire ham costume right now.  and the Wrigley's Double Mint gum in the tree, and Calpurnia's breakfast.  I have read it periodically since, and always in the summer. When I was a kid reading it, I saw Atticus as a distant yet caring father with a lot on his mind.   The main thing I got from the book, was what Atticus taught them not just by his words but by his actions.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.

~ Atticus

You do what is right, because it is the right thing to do. 

You treat people with respect, no matter who they are, because respect is what you'll get if you do.  And mostly, because it is the right thing to do. 

Just because you can shoot a gun better than anyone else in the county, doesn't mean you go around showing off about it.

And you help those who can't help themselves, because it is the right thing to do.

There's plenty more.  The book is full of wisdom, beauty, life in a microcosm shedding light on humanity as a whole.  An excellent story on every level and there are many, and the writing is so good, straight and simple, I can cry from the opening line.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I know it, because I've read it so many times, but the whole of that tale is held in that sentence.  You feel it when you read it even for the first time.  You know immediately, something is up, and it's big.  You just may not know how big it is til you get to it, but it is big.

I think I got my lifetime sense of needing to right the wrongs in this world from reading this book so many times and from such a young age.  I may not have really known what the courtroom stuff was about specifically, but I knew it was wrong to lie and accuse an innocent person of something that was clearly bad.  I knew it was wrong for that mob of neighbors to come to Tom Robinson's jail cell in the cover of night. 

What I love more than anything about this book is Scout's growth.  Narrator Scout tells of her own growth through her childhood fallibility.  She shows how hard it is and how simple it is to see wrong and make it right.  How hard it is to be wrong and have to admit it.  And how much easier the world comes to you once you accept how you're wrong, and do what you can to change it.

I could go on.  I can talk about the kid's adventures, Boo's real gentleness. I can talk about  'a sin to kill a mockingbird', the rabid dog, the relatives, the house burning down, the sitting with the sick old Mrs. Dubose for penance. I can talk about pies, pants caught on garden fence, and the collection tin at  Calpurnia's church.  I can talk about  Atticus's perceptive defense of Tom, the nervous trapped cat sense of Mayella, the snobby relatives, Walter Cunningham, fights, squabbles, making up, and the big brother saving the life of his sister with the help of a ghost of a man everyone fears. I can talk about kids and trains, and a sense of belonging we all long for and think we can find in a simpler time that was never so simple after all.

But mostly I can go read again (and suggest you may want to, too) the most simple, complex, learning tale of a girl, her father, a small town, and the need for justice.  Simple elegant justice, and how even when it seems so simple, so elegantly right, it can still go wrong, because we all, after all, are human, and still learning.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

cukes & zukes

These are just getting started in my little garden plot. It's so hot, even they are seeking shade.  Cukes and zukes are apparently much smarter than I am, since I went out in the sun and 100 degree heat to take pictures of them. 

Zucchini beginnings

Cucumber blossom

It's too hot to say much else. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

writing group and weather

I am still slogging through my manuscript edits during my writing group sessions.  Today was another.  It had been suggested that I remove a parental rescue from a scene at school and I did.  I didn't like doing it, because I liked how the original scene filled out the mother and the nurse characters, but since this is a book about a kid, for kids, maybe I shouldn't have something like a parental rescue scene at that particular point.  Maybe the adult characters don't need that much fleshing out.  Maybe I better just let things be and try to keep him out of a particular moment of trouble a different way. I think I managed to, but not as I would have hoped.

I miss the nuances of that scene.  I think my least favorite thing about editing is the cuts.  I worked a lot on that scene over years.  I liked it, but once again, just because I liked it doesn't mean that it was good for the book.  I think the scene I have now, shortened, is more to the point of the scene's purpose.  And that's a good thing.

In the meantime, I know the whole East Coast is having a heat wave right now, but I'll tell, it is tough to be outside in my corner of Virginia these days.  My poor little gardens are feeling it, and so is the lawn, or the scorched prickly earth that used to be the lawn. 

Boys are not here for closing in on a week now.  This makes me a bit crabby.  Not the best of moods to be editing out scenes I like and dealing with this infernal heat. I'd rather be outside gardening, but it's too dang hot.  Guess I'll have to take out my frustrations by trimming bushes later. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

perfect 4th moment

Pool hair, picnic, and the pure joy of watermelon.

Toots could give lessons in it.

Addendum: Aimee at artsyville was sweet (get it)enough to feature this as part of her prompt this week, 'flavor', even though I had already posted it, a bit outside the rules. Thank you, aimee!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The life and death of Thieving Bunny

Thieving Bunny got through my fence last week and enjoyed my newly ripe tomatoes  right off the plants. 

I was apoplectic.  I cursed him on facebook.  I referred to him as a "scorbutical bucktoothed cur!"  Captain Comic cracked up about this epithet to no end.  He is probably still wandering around at his father's house giggling himself silly and repeating it with his fist raised at the sky.

Grandma was agog and aghast at his little bunny chutzpah in hopping up on the deck to peer through the slider to see what the humans were up to.

Under other circumstances of the non-gardening defense variety, I watched his cute little bunniness hop around the yard. He was a joyous little bunny.  I chased him down one day to discover his rabbit hole in my fence.  I placed a concrete block in front of it the morning of the boys'  journey to their father.

Apparently he had another rabbit hole somewhere, because, today, while watering various garden patches and flowering bushes around our little homestead, I encounter the furry remains of Thieving Bunny between the yew and the chewed remains of the butterfly bush I planted this spring.

Lucy the Terrorizing Terrier finally earned her keep.  She is the little black dog of rodent death. She has played solo doggie badminton with moles in the past, gleefully flipping them in the air by her jaws and whapping at them with her paws across the yard. She has brought moles and voles into the house as gifts, but this was her first rabbit kill.

I am at once proud of our little dog and mourning the bunny death.  I love bunnies.  I mean, I really love bunnies.  I love bunnies just shy of having a houseful of bunny figurines. Admittedly there are a few tasteful and funky ones about the premises.  My nickname pre-braces was Bugs.  I love carrots, I have a true affinity with the universal bunny energy.

But Thieving Bunny ate my tomatoes.  He crossed the line in terrier territory.

stumbled upon joy

This is so joyous, I cried.  How many joys can be counted in it? 

1. The man quit his job to dance badly around the world.
2. He dances. badly. and is proud of it.
3. People join him throughout the world.
4. They clearly love the spontaneity.
5.  When he gets hit with a massive wave, the camera woman giggles.
6. He dances in the guardhouse of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
7. He dances with so many different people from Papua New Guinea to Paris.
8.  At first glance, the people seem so different, but
9. Every single one is smiling
10. And dancing with whole heart.
11. He dances even when alone.
12. The music.

I'm certain I have not counted all the joys contained in this video, but one I can relate to is dancing badly alone, because I relatively regularly tap dance in my kitchen, to the goofy dismay of my older kids. I do it because dancing is a joy, whether anyone is there to watch me or not.  It's freedom, it's exercise, it's motion and alchemy.  It instantly lifts my mood. 

And you know what?  I haven't done it nearly enough recently. 

I must now.  Enjoy the video!  Then Dance.

If you're having trouble viewing, please click to Where the Hell is Matt? and watch the first video.  The others are good for background about the process he went through making it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

two things, i'm not much good for more

1.  I have a really bad case of road head and am out of coffee.

2.  Even with number 1, waking up to the the smiling greeting of 'Hi Mommy!  It's You!" from over the crib edge was an incredible way to start the day...now to go buy some rocket fuel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This photo was taken under duress

You can see why I call my home mayhem in this photo.  At least part of the mayhem, anyway.

Today, we spend half the day in the van with these two in the back seat, within arms' reach of each other's necks.  Thank the gods of Nintendo for handheld entertainment.  That should keep them at bay for an hour or so. 

Six hours in, we hand them off to their dad.  He will then drive another six hours or so to their final destination. 

I'm just glad we're on the first leg of the journey with them.  Don't worry, we'll have the second leg in about a month's time. 

But I must say, as much as they are giving each other the Death Match Stare here, they really do get along.  Sometimes. 

It's going to be too quiet around here for the next month.  Really.  I know I won't be yelling, "STOP NOW!  I don't care who started it!"