Monday, December 28, 2009

Three people just don't do much damage to a twelve and a half pound bird

I don't have the patience to have the superior carcass picking skills that I recall my mom having, but that just means we got good turkey soup! The fact that the bird had been rubbed with a mixture of thyme, sage, ground juniper berries, fennel, and a few other things also contributed to the flavor of the stock. Mmmmm.

I'm thinking it'll be about ten meals off this bird. So far:
12/25 roast turkey
12/26 soup of the evening, beautiful soup
12/28 leftover soupy soup
Lots of frozen meat to use in the coming months.

You'd better have a Happy New Year, lest we sic Nimue on you

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Poem

There is a tree,
The tree is in a forest,
The forest is on a mountain,
The mountain is in the Sierra-Nevada mountains,
The Sierra-Nevada mountains are in California,
California is in the U. S. A.,
The U. S. A. is in North America,
North America is on the Earth,
The Earth is in the Solar System,
The Solar System is in the Milky Way,
The Milky Way is in the Local Group,
The Local Group is in the Universe,
The Universe is in all the universes around it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Dodo To Me

Happy dodo to me,
Happy dodo to me,
Happy windshieldwiper to no one,
Happy dodo to me.

Spinning rides

As a reward for being good when dragged to the holiday lunch at the museum Friday afternoon, I took Nimue over to San Jose's Christmas in the Park installation. She dutifully ran around admiring all the Christmas trees -- even took notes on all the kinds of ornaments she wants to make for our tree -- and then I bought her a ticket for the merry-go-round. Of course, then she started looking wistfully at all the other rides, and somehow I found myself getting on a brightly colored spinning rotating up-and-down flying balloon thingie with her. I haven't been on one of those for probably at least 10 years. We laughed maniacally, spun faster than anyone else, and stumbled off dizzily, cracking up even the dour jaded ride operator. However, to my chagrin, I realized my stomach is not quite as resistant to motion-induced queasiness as it used to be -- particularly not after having first a fine holiday potluck lunch in Nimue's classroom followed by too much addictive artichoke dip at the museum's Christmas lunch.

Ho ho oooooh...

Catching up

I realize there's been a big gap between blog posts lately -- as many of you probably realize, this happens when there's a lot going on, and then I never get around to writing about things that normal people might consider "events" because we're either in the middle of them or recovering from them. (Plus it's somehow more fun to write about reeking closet mysteries and squirrel wars than "What I did on my Three Day Weekend.") So to summarize some of the unwritten events of the fall:

In September my mom came to visit. Lots of good Grandma time for Nim; we enjoyed the visit too. Or at least I hope my mom did, despite the fact that we hurt her back by encouraging her to ride my mountain bike on the way over to school to pick up Nimue. (Ooops) At the very least, we got in a good trip down to the aquarium in Monterey, aka "The Fish Zoo", which my mom hadn't seen in several years. She was particularly inspired by the jellyfish, and I managed to keep Nim occupied looking at the anchovies while my mom exhausted her camera battery gathering photographs on which to base paintings.

October brought a trip to Downieville and an excellent mountain bike ride with a couple of Chad's friends; I achieved my two goals of not getting dropped behind (at least not too far) and not damaging myself (only one semi-controlled slide into a gully...)

In November, Chad and I were able to escape up to the coast near Jenner to enjoy a long weekend for our anniversary.
Lots of good riding, good food, nice views, and a delightful lack of responsibilities for a couple of days. Linda came down to stay with Nimue in Sunnyvale, attended numerous school events with her, and as a result is now known among the Cherry Chase moms as a "good grandma", welcome in the school garden any time.

There was also a Thanksgiving camping trip, but I actually managed to write about that one already.

Chad built a most excellent cage to protect the garden from the evil thieving scum squirrels; we've now covered it in plastic to turn it into a greenhouse for the winter. This also provides entertainment, as the squirrels, as deft as they are, still cannot scale the plastic, no matter how hard they try. They keep trying, too...yesterday I watched two squirrels on the fence harass a third, who then took a flying leap onto the side of the structure, where it proceeded to slide ignominiously as its frantically scrabbling claws found no purchase. Ha.

Handy rocket scientist spouse also deinstalled the hideous fireplace insert in the living room that had been bugging him ever since we moved in; it disappeared off the sidewalk out in front of our house gratifyingly quickly after we wrestled it outside. Peaceful candles now grace the fireplace, so we can enjoy flame without the mess.

Last weekend, Linda was again in town to visit. We went to see the Nutcracker up in SF (as usual, a fantastic production), and ate good food and goofed off for a couple of days before she headed off to Germany to visit relatives converging over there. She will pass back through Sunnyvale on her way back home right after Christmas.

The day after that, we're heading out to Park City to ski with Andrew Towle and his tribe; expect another gap in the news. Perhaps you'll get a New Years' letter that's not really a letter in the meantime.

A Rocket Scientist in the family

So Chad is now "officially" a NASA rocket scientist, having been recently published in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets.

Dynamic Coupling and Control Response Effects on Spacecraft Handling Qualities During Docking
pages (1288-1297)
doi: 10.2514/1.41924
(Scroll down towards the bottom of the table of contents to see the listing.)

Now you know who to call when you need one. Tee hee :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Nimue and I enjoyed the first frost of the year sparkling in the sun this morning on the way to school, and appreciated the fact that we never have to scrape ice off the car windshield (always on bikes!). Yesterday, there was actual snow visible on the hills above us; I heard that in parts of the East Bay, the snow level dropped to a mere 350 feet.

Yes, I know all you grandparents have already gotten real snow in your very own back yards and are probably laughing at us warm-weather folk, but we have to take what we can get.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


What smells so good in the kitchen?Ma-Bread,of course!Ma-Bread is bread made by Ma.I love it!
If you ever come to our house you might get to eat it with your dinner.I always want the end piece.YUM!First prize bread!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New-fangled lights

Knowing that the Christmas box contained one string of lights labelled "DEAD" (why do I keep these things??), one labelled "White -- half dead", and only one that theoretically worked, we bought some new lights for the tree this year. Given their lower energy use and cooler operating temperature, we got a couple of boxes of LED lights. I'm still skeptical about their slightly excessive brightness for indoor use and the cold-seeming quality of the light, but they do cast delighful tree shadows on the wall and one's pajama-clad kid (latter not pictured as she couldn't stop dancing long enough for me to take a well-focused shot of her in the dark).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Country of Three" holiday weekend

When I was a kid, one of the most memorable Thanksgiving weekends we had was the year we ignored the extended family festivities, packed up, and went to the Oregon Coast to enjoy a relaxed weekend together as a nuclear family. Not that I am against all you extended family members, mind you, but once in a while it is a really good thing to have some relaxed vacation time to bond just with immediate family away from home, responsibilities, and all the normal patterns and habits that creep in during the day-to-day slog of getting through the work/school weeks. The hot dogs on the beach we had that year were an oddly festive sort of meal, too.

When Chad and I got married, his brother Frosty had a great phrase in his toast -- he pointed out that Chad, Nim, and I were forming a "Country of Three" by merging as a family.

This year for Thanksgiving, the goal was to celebrate our Country of Three and simultaneously relax and indulge in recreational activities that (a) weren't boring to anyone, and (b) included everyone. Those of you with kids know the challenges. Plus I just wanted to get out of the house lest I fall into doing chores by default.

Chad came home the day before Thanksgiving making wistful comments about all of the people that were going to get ride up Mt. Hamilton on Thanksgiving Day. This is quite a tradition around here among a certain set -- ride hard to work up an appetite, and then go feast. The weather was set to be gorgeous too. What he didn't realize was that I too had been having the same thoughts -- so had convinced Nimue that riding over on Mt. Hamilton would be a good adventure for the whole family.

One way to do this when one of the members of your Country of Three is only seven years old is to have a solid breakfast, load the tandem and another bike on top of the car with lots of leftover Halloween candy and toys, and head over to the hill. Our plan was that Chad would ride with us for the first third of the climb, at which point Nimue and I would stop at Joe Grant County Park to have a snack, play, and read until he climbed up to the top and came back down.

Fortunately, after about 45 minutes, Nimue got bored and wanted to get back on the bike. We went ahead and climbed up the second third of the hill, waving at cyclists. There were literally hundreds of people coming down at that point. It was sort of jolly watching everyone, both when riding and when waiting -- cyclists on the road ranged from those who were clearly giving their all to get back down the hill after the 4000 foot climb to those who fly up the hill on a regular basis. In general, people looked happy to be out -- none of that horrible grim "I'm too busy training to even respond when another cyclist says "Hi"" mode that one sometimes sees around here. Heck, I was ridiculously happy to be out too. It was Thanksgiving, we were having fun, and I was outside goofing off :) We eventually found Chad on his way down and rode back to the car together.

Yeah, maybe I'd have liked to ride my own bike and gone all the way up too, but it was a nice day, Nimue felt really good about riding even though I pushed her twice as far as we had planned, I got at least as much exercise going 2/3 of the way up on the tandem as I would have gotten going to the top on my own bike, and we all got out into the sunshine as a Country of Three. I count it as a victory.

But where's the turkey? Sarah and Todd were kind enough to invite us over for dinner, so we took our chocolate pie (made the day before) and a bottle of wine over to their place and feasted. The kids even all got along with each other for once. It rivals that hot-dog-on-the-beach day of my youth as the least stressful Thanksgiving day ever.

I still, however, had urges to get out of town. We had originally planned to head over and go camping at Mono Lake for the rest of the weekend, but it snowed there the previous week, and was forecast to snow again. Forecast lows were down around 10 degrees, which, combined with the possibility of getting stuck on the wrong side of the pass if it closed led to the need to pick an alternate destination at the last minute.

Krebs map to the rescue! For those of you not familiar with these maps, they are delightful cycling maps for various regions of California that point out all the good stuff you need when planning a bike adventure -- suggested roads to ride on, bike paths, trails, campround locations, where to get food, bike shops, etc. The roads and trail are all marked with arrows indicating where and how steep the hills are. Most useful. At any rate, I pulled out a map, looked at it for a few minutes, and was reminded that there is a flat 32 mile paved bike path along a section of the American river over by Sacramento that I had thought might be good to explore as a family. Even better, there was a campground that was still open for the year at Beals Point on Folsom Lake right at the end of the trail.

Never mind that the snow we were avoiding by not going to the mountains would likely give us less than perfect weather -- we packed up the car and headed off for some more fun as a Country of Three.

Shortly after getting there and setting up the enormous tent palace in a delightfully large campsite with plenty of rocks to keep Nimue occupied, a most impressive thunderstorm rolled in. We threw a tarp over the food on the picnic table and retreated to the tent to watch the lightning through the open door. The electrical activity stayed just far enough away to be exciting but not worrisome, and after about an hour, the storm rolled off and let us emerge to make dinner.

That evening and the next day brought crazy, crazy crazy wind. Nimue got to learn the joys of what happens to the tent if you ignore your dad when he says "Don't take out all the stakes", made more exciting by the fact that she somehow had enough time to get herself into the tent after taking out the stakes but before the next big gust of wind struck. She also got a good reminder of the difference between a headwind and a tailwind when on one's bike -- the section of bike trail we explored went both down river and downwind on the way out; we then had to fight our way back up on the way back. Lucky girl got power assists first from Ma, then from Chad.

I managed to catch this shot while I was still riding :)

We only explored part of the trail, as Nim was (mostly) self-powered, but it's clearly a place that could use more exploration. The notion brewing in Chad's brain is that a fun family weekend could be to take the train out to Sacramento with our bikes and camping gear in the trailer, and ride all the way up the bike trail to the campground. No car needed to get out of town.

Sadly, it's now back to the slog of all the stuff that happens in a more normal week for us (this week's list for the three of us includes school, rehearsal&concert, ancestor project, book report, Christmas shopping, too many meetings, teaching large numbers of crazed kids, decking the Christmas tree, making the lego rubik's cube robot work, and deferred house chores). Somehow, that's all fun too, but we really enjoyed our weekend off!

I suppose it's useful...

Despite the fact that I refer to it as the "devil-machine", I do recognize that Chad's iphone is occasionally useful -- in this instance, it captured a couple of good pictures at the Hitz wine bottling party a couple of weeks ago, including a rare shot of me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Seasonal Confusion

As if neighbors putting up their Christmas lights weeks before Thanksgiving wasn't bad enough, the bulbs in the garden think it's spring already.

Rotting tuna smell in the closet

Every now and again, a truly wretched smell emanates from Nim's room. Foul, fishy, and rank, the smell pervades the whole space for a time, and then just as mysteriously dissipates. Time and again, this leads to a futile search for the source. It is as if there is some ossified fragment of a tuna sandwich hiding in the closet, which is occasionally knocked about enough to emit ghastly vapors from its gooey center. But there's no sandwich to be found.

But, lo, last night, we solved the mystery. Chad mentioned that he had found something on the web about electrical problems occasionally leading to strange odors; it turns out that some plastics can emit a fishy smell when heated. He snuck into her room after bedtime and patted all the outlets to make sure that nothing was hot or likely to incinerate itself in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the light bulb I just replaced that morning. Nice bright 75 watt bulb in an ancient fixture that used to contain a paltry 40 watt bulb. Said ancient fixture was cranky when I put the new light bulb in -- the part around the bulb wiggled quite a bit because there wasn't really enough clearance for my fingers to turn the bulb straight and it kept trying to cross-thread itself. Just before bedtime, the plastic shield ring around the bulb fell off right into Nimue's (clean) barf bowl (the permanent barf bowl in her bed is another story...). At the time, I didn't really think about it, but jammed it back into place, knowing that it probably loosened during my fat-fingered struggle to replace the bulb. However, armed with the hot-plastic-smells-like-fish theory, I pulled it out again and sniffed. PFFFFAUGGHHGGHGHG!!!!!! The ring was a nice bubbly toasty brown like a good roasted marshmallow, and smelled like -- you guessed it -- rotting tuna.

The new bright hot light bulb was clearly at fault this time. The previous fishy odor incidents were probably caused by the light fixture being bonked a bit by people climbing up into Nimue's bed, putting a slightly different part of the plastic shield ring closest to the bulb and setting free a fresh cloud of fishy fumes. Time for an upgrade.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Secret Code


We found this scrap while Nimue was cleaning her room this week; she assured me it wasn't gibberish. Took me a while to figure it out...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Citizen of the Month



Nimue was surprised with a citizen of the month award for the November value (leadership) at the Friday morning flag salute at school this morning. I knew in advance, so could lurk in the background with the camera. Needless to say, this made her a very happy kid :)

According to her teacher, "Nimue has demonstrated leadership to the class by pursuing an interest (volcanos) and teaching the students. As a result of her interest and project, she has encouraged others to pursue their own interests."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

GO Kids

Today I discovered something really funny--some invisible ink from my invisible ink pen found it's way,somehow,
onto one of my secrets journal in the words GO Kids on almost every page!I laughed for three whole minutes!WELL,I don't know how it got there,I just know it's there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thieving progeny

I lost me purple hat.
Made meself a new hat.
Offspring stole said hat.
Is awfully cute in that.

I still have no hat.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday Fun

I went mountain biking at Fremont Older last Friday.It was so fun!I rode 2 big hills!When I got
back,Ma was very proud.I'm so happy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

How is an emu like an iphone?

From Nimue's dinner conversations last night:

How is an emu like an iphone?

1. Can't have cars for 100 reasons, which include not being allowed to have a drivers license and not being able to drive.

2. Have at least 50 of something. An emu has lots of feathers; the phone has lots of applications on it.

3. Both can be found in Australia.

4. At least 200 exist.
(Poor Ma was curious and looked this one up this morning: the world emu population is 630,000-725,000 according to Wikipedia; iphone sales just for 2008 were something on the order of 13.7 million)

5. Can't fly.

6. Can run. (emu in the sense of using it's legs; iphone in the sense of being turned on)

7. both have the letter E.

So: emus are the same as iphones. Ah, the logic of the seven-year-old....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mother-daughter transmogrification

I felt like I was turning into my mom again yesterday morning. On the way to school, there were these intriguing-looking large binders on the sidewalk in front of one of the nearby houses, clearly up for grabs. They were too big to reasonably carry, so I tried to ignore them. I tried really hard. Alas, on the way home from dropping Nimue off, I succumbed to the urge to go investigate.

Investigation of such objects is the fatal first step down the slippery slope of sidewalk treasure acquisition.

It turns out, these particular objects were carpet sample books. Each one contained two attractive 18"x24" samples with bound edges suitable for use as doormats or the like, as well as several pages of smaller scraps just screaming to be used for projects. Maybe a cat scratching structure. Maybe a patchwork mat for Nimue's endless stuffed animal games. Maybe.... The heavy 18"x24" binder covers and pages are thick enough to have many construction uses as well.

Too many possibilities to leave behind. Clearly. Also too big to put in the bike bag, too heavy and unwieldy to strap onto the rack with the puny bungee cord I had in the bag, and too heavy to carry all three in one hand while wheeling the bike with the other hand. Still several blocks from home. What to do, what to do? My solution was to carefully balance the three large books across the top tube and seat of the bike and sort of lean on the whole mess to stabilize it while walking the bike the rest of the way home. As cargo transport, this method leaves a lot to be desired, both in terms of stability (the three wanted to slip in all directions off the skinny bike) and steering (they were big enough that I couldn't really turn the handlebars more than a couple of degrees before hitting the sliding pile of binders, thus increasing the aforementioned stability problem). I did, however, at least make it home without anything falling off.

I haven't yet degenerated/risen to my mom's level of prowess (not dragging mannequin legs home from garage sales yet), but she's a couple of decades further into the found treasure habit. I'm doomed...

As for the other part of the transformation, it turns out my mom has been walking around on a broken leg (fibula) for about a month. Sound familiar? It's the same bone I broke in my ankle a few years back, only further up the leg in my mom's case. She crashed her bike on some evil railroad tracks that angled across a curve in the road she was riding on. Unlike me, she went straight to the emergency room (that experience thing to her advantage again). Once there, the doctor diagnosed her sprained ankle, but failed to do an x-ray of her whole leg to catch the break further up. Fortunately, the whole thing appears to be aligned and healing up correctly even though it wasn't caught right off, and she probably just made the trade-off between some extra discomfort for the excessively itchy cast she would have gotten. And the mental oddness of thinking "What? I've been walking around for a month on a broken leg?" She's been riding her bike too. One tough mom :)

More images of Halloween fun...

Nimue the Cartoon Chicken.
She decided on this costume way back in February, perhaps after reading too much of The Far Side. We saved several months worth of plastic milk jugs, pillaged a couple of old stained t-shirts, picked up a remnant piece of yellow crinkly fabric for a dollar, added a bit of craft foam and a rubber glove and voila: SuperChicken!

Upon arriving at school, it became very clear that in a race between Harry Potter, a bug-eyed alien, and SuperChicken, our feathered friend was the hands-down winner :)

Spooky food
Todd and Sarah and family joined us for a spooky Halloween meal before we took the kids out trick-or-treating for waaaaaay too much candy. Not pictured are the delicious salty dark chocolate cookies with white chocolate filling in the shape of ghosts, pumpkins, and moons that the adults got for dessert (we ate 'em all up too fast). Chad was responsible for the watermelon brain.

The obligatory pumpkins.

Chad's is the one with big teeth; Nimue did the snowman stack, the Ma pumpkin, and the sharpie'd cat mini-pumpkin; mine is the eyeball-infested creation (note the excellent shadow cast on the garage door when you enlarge the last one by clicking it). Perhaps there's been too much dinnertime discussion of "The All-Seeing Eye of Ma" lately....

Monday, November 2, 2009


Yesterday I ate 17 candies,so I barfed at 5:30 A.M.I had to wake Ma to clean up my sheet.All night
my tummy felt bubbly,until I barfed.After that my tummy really hurt.I guessed it was probably
because it was empty.I can't go to school today.That means I can get started on my volcano
project for school!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dead electronics

A big tree fell in our neighborhood earlier in the week, as a result of the winds and rain we had... Anna was home at the time, and heard the CRACK of it falling... The power browned out for a few minutes, before finally going out entirely.

The incident seems to have killed off our cordless phone's base station, as well as my networked hard drive. Both devices were, I thought, plugged in to a surge protector, so I'm a bit surprised. I guess I will have to review and reconfigure the electrical devices in our office now.

Nimue's piano teacher was on her way over here just at the time the power went out - in the confusion, we think she must have rung the doorbell (which of course was out with the power) and, not getting a response, left. The layout of our house is such that the doorbell pushbutton is located way out by the street - knocking can't be heard from out there. Thus, I'm wondering if I need to come up with some kind of Rube Goldberg mechanical doorbell device!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because she had to walk to school!
Halloween starts a day early this year, as Nimue's school Halloween parade was this morning, and the big Fall Festival is this afternoon/evening.

(Yes, the chicken feathers are made from cut up plastic milk jugs -- the whole costume rustles delightfully.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Things that Confuse Ma

Many things confuse me this week:

Extra volunteer hours at Nim's garden club. (help 60 kids play with live snails!)

One of the quasi-randomly occuring early-dismissal Tuesdays.

Piano lessons at home rather than the piano teacher's house. (her floors are being done)

Work days switched around. (teacher needed a Thursday instead of Wednesday)

But most of all -- my bike computer did its Daylight Saving Time fall back thing over the weekend a week early. Given that the clock on this device is the main timepiece I use when trying to get anywhere at the right time, this is messing with my mind a little too much.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not All Bad

Despite the tenor of Anna's previous post, last weekend's outings did not all result in foul odors. We got some truly epic mountain-bike rides in, prior to the definitive end-of-summer rain deluge of Tuesday, up in Downieville.

Friends Randy and Pete joined us, and we tested out the recently completed Downieville-to-Goodyears Bar trail, as well as the ever-popular North Yuba Trail, as Saturday's outing. We saw two other riders, and two hikers, on a gorgeous autumn day. The local bears use the trail a lot, too, as evidenced by their massive piles of poo appearing every hundred yards or so. Lucky for us, the poo-piles didn't seem to incorporate any cyclist bits (mostly whole apples and berry seeds -- bears must not chew their apples much.) The new chunk of trail is fantastic, totally worth all the work and wait.

Sunday we tackled the main event -- 37 miles of fun, starting with a lengthy climb from Union Flat up to Packer Saddle, followed by a severely lumpy descent into Gold Valley, a severely lumpy climb up to Big Boulder, and then many miles of sweet singletrack descent back into Downieville. Ah, it was glorious!

On both days, I filmed some of the ride using a fantastic VIO helmet-cam, loaned to me by my friend Dave. I still have to edit the video clips into something interesting; I'll post it here when completed.

Our friends departed on Monday, but Anna and I hiked all the way up to High Commission -- mostly bushwhacking, as the ancient trail disappears after half a mile. Once upon a time (like, circa 1850) there was a great view from the top, as the miner-49ers had chopped down every tree on the mountain. Today, you can't see much, but you still know you're on the top.

And of course, Nimue got to spend lots of unprogrammed time with her grandma! We ate plentifully and well, appetites fueled by lots of exercise at altitudes well above sea level, and outstanding wine was in good supply (thanks, Pete!) Thus, a fine time was had by all. Pay no attention to the woes that awaited our return to civilization...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just tired this morning


Another one bites the dust

Nimue lost another tooth up in Downieville over the weekend. We (the adults) had no idea it was even loose; I think she's getting better, or at least less gentle, about pulling them out.

Fabulous kid dessert, unrelated to tooth loss:
Strawberry buttercream on graham crackers with gummy bears on top.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bug in the Cat Flap

Cat doors should not mysteriously lock themselves. Especially when it is the door to the litterbox and all people have vacated for the weekend. The cheesy plastic lock mechanism that leads the cat to think "Oooh look -- there's a toy to paw at!" is definitely NOT a feature, especially when the cat is not smart enough to reverse the process.

The cat's satellite bathroom: Nimue's room. Great. Welcome home humans.

Many things around the house are a pain to clean up. I thought projectile carrot barf from the top bunk was bad. Mixed vegetable carnage in the kitchen is bad. Ancient dry-erase marker on the whiteboard is just annoying. Dead rats in the garden that then reek in the garbage can are bad. But a long weekend's worth of cat pee that couldn't make it into the litterbox because the cat was locked out of the room is BAAAAAAAD.

Fortunately, the poop was easy to clean up -- it was dry and solid and I got it up and taken care of before Nimue had even made it out of the car. Kids-n-Pets is a wonder substance for the minor surface cleaning and odor removal needed. (we have Nim's preschool teacher Miss Angeline to thank for pointing out that particular wonder substance) However, after cleaning that up, the room was still.... well... fragrant, and I knew that the liquid waste had to have been deposited somewhere. By then, I had the odor up my nose and couldn't really tell where it was strongest. Since I had a vague suspicion it was worst in or around the closet and there were no obvious wet spots on the carpet, I pulled out everything on the closet floor and threw it in the garage to evaluate in the morning.

For those of you with urchins of your own, you will be quite familiar with the litany of objects filling every square inch of a kid's closet -- especially when said kid can't really reach most of the shelves very well: A big hamper full of dress-up items spilling out everywhere, several small blankets, miscellaneous craft supplies, plastic building toys, stray legos, old crumpled-up artwork, workbooks, books, pinecones, feathers, missing puzzle pieces, musical instruments, et al. I don't normally object to the state of the closet as the alternative seems to be constantly having everything out in the main body of the room, but it's just a lot of stuff when you have to completely clear out the floor.

The next morning brought a full carpet shampooingand I was reminded of how disgusting carpet really can get. I just cleaned it about a month ago, and the water coming out of the machine on this current cleaning was still black. If one were a suspicious type, one would think the evil marketing geniuses involved in carpet shampooers insidiously coerced the engineers into introducing some substance that makes the water black after it goes through the machine, just so users feel like the machine and soap are doing something. The simpler explanation, of course, is that carpet in my house just gets gross.

While the carpet was drying and I still had the smell of soap in my nose, I headed out to the garage to tackle the smelly pile from the closet. Sniff legos: clean. Pinecone: clean. Bells: fine. Dulcimer: clean. Books and papers: no evidence of wetness. Craft supplies: good. Basket full of dress-up clothes and blankets/capes: EEEEEEEEEWWWWWW! Apparently the cat decided the semi-enclosed basket full of nice soft things was the location that most resembled her litterbox. Fortunately, the basket was plastic, and everything in it could go in the wash. Three loads of laundry, done first with vinegar and then with soap. There will be an energy use spike for us this month for sure.

Of course, once one starts smelling things, one finds all sorts of other items that need to be fumigated. Never, ever smell a beloved stuffed animal acquired at a garage sale. You just don't want to know. The giant stuffed tiger showed no evidence of having been sullied by this most recent episode, but turns out to reek of old (other person's) kid emanations and cleaning attempts. I would have been much happier just not knowing. Into washing machine with tiger too.

Hopefully this full closet fumigation will also take care of whatever was causing the intermittent rotting tuna fish smell that periodically wafts out...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another one down

In what is becoming a recurring pattern, Nimue worried another tooth loose a couple of days ago while she was reading on the couch. This time, she announced that she no longer believes in the Tooth Fairy, and even if she did, she wasn't willing to exchange the tooth for a measly 50 cents. Not even for a million dollars. It's part of her and she wants to keep it. So be it!

Monday night dinners

Perhaps inspired by the fact that Chad has taken up responsibility for Friday night dinners, and perhaps also influenced by her new cookbook, Nimue announced that she was now in charge of Monday night dinners. While this means more work for me in the short term, I'm humoring the request as it seems the sort of thing that will be good for all involved in the long term. Nimue being artistically inclined, presentation of food is very important, as can be seen in the Potato Tuna Fish Cakes that we had last Monday:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Important Comic about BEER

I was scanning a big pile of Nimue art this morning, and ran across this comic Nimue drew last winter. Something about the juxtaposition of the escalating animals a la typical kid book with the all-important beer cracks me up. Plus her simple line drawings have a lot of character. Enjoy!