Monday, December 31, 2007

At last, it can be revealed

Twisted Tails wall hanging quilt. I made this for my Sister-in-Law, who rescues Siamese cats.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lovely holiday, lovely day

'Tis the season for the surprising and the unexpected.

Knowing that I would be tired from working the night shift on Christmas Eve, I had given myself permission to take some shortcuts with Christmas Dinner. Normally, I whip myself into a frenzy, trying to out-Martha the doyenne of Turkey Hill herself. This year, it was different - and better. Instant mashed potatoes and Stovetop stuffing have never tasted so good. I'm tempted to cancel my subscription to Martha Stewart Living and throw away my potato peeler.

Okay, maybe not .. but this year's Christmas dinner was good!

Today, I received a surprise call from an old friend. She's had a rough few years, after having commanded a company in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her mental health and her marriage were collateral damage in that war, but she has found her strength again, and finally feels joy and happiness in her new life.

As I was talking to K, my husband arrived home with a late Christmas present .. a Wii!! This, of course, meant that we would also have to buy a television-like device, which was a little too much for my brain to handle. Fortunately, Sam's Club had a beautiful Multifunction Monitor which met our needs .. and technically, it's not a television, so I'm okay with that!

We also had dinner at a great restaurant in town. I cannot believe that we have never been there before. It was spectacular. I lived in Italy for three years, and enjoyed many a magnificent meal. This meal ranks in the top three I've ever savoured.

I hope that everyone had a peaceful holiday, and is excited as I am about the year to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An open letter to the merchandisers at Wal-Mart

I'm onto you guys.

You've tapped into my phone line. It's screamingly obvious.

Whenever I'm offered extra shifts, you pull another cute scrub top out of your arsenal, because you know that I will cave and buy it.

Three weeks ago, it the Tweety Bird (TM) Christmas top, with all those cute sayings like Joy to the World! and Peace on Earth!

Was it a mere coincidence that you placed those tops on the rack the day after the December schedule was posted, with yours truly slated to work the night shift on Christmas Eve?

Two weeks ago, it was the adorable Peanuts (TM) top, with the dancing Snoopy and the fluttering Woodstock. You just had to make it in flattering shades of pink and periwinkle, didn't you?

Tonight - just minutes after I agreed to work a few extra hours this weekend, you dangled the new My Melody top in front of me. So far, I have been able to resist the cousin of Hello Kitty, but you just know I'm going to succumb, don't you?

This isn't about the money, or even the ever-decreasing space in my closet.

No, this is about honesty. You're making a liar out of me, you Wal-Mart evil-doers!

Eons ago, when I was in nursing school, we wore expensive white dresses emblazened with the Queen's logo. Yes, we stuck out like sore thumbs. The "real" nurses usually wore white tops and white pants. The truly daring amongst them struck a pose with .. wait for it .. pastels.

A few years after graduation, I found myself working in a small hospital in South-west Louisiana. My unit's "colours" were teal and coral. I loved those scrubs, to tell the truth. But I did notice that on the days that I wore a white or pastel scrub dress, my patients seemed more comfortable. I think they viewed me as more of a professional when my appearance matched their expectations of what an RN should look like.

Fast forward a decade. I swore up and down that, when I returned to bedside nursing, my professional wardrobe would consist of solids and subtle floral prints. This was easily accomplished at first, because there were next to no scrubs of any description available in this area. I paid exhorbitant shipping costs for some new, pretty but subtle scrub tops and co-ordinating scrub pants. My one concession to the brave new world of nursing in the 21st century was a huge collection of Crocs.

And now that I've hit my nursing stride, I'm drawn to fun, funky scrub tops, and the evil-doers at Wal-Mart are only too happy to feed my addiction.

I promise that, underneath the My Melody scrub top, beats the heart of professional nurse. Pinky swear!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, Rosie, there is a Santa Claus

On Saturday morning, against my better judgement and in anticipation of the impending blizzard, I went to the local Super-Walmart. I wanted to pick up a few supplies, and some last minute restaurant gift cards for my husband's hard-to-buy-for little brother. Most of Jefferson County appeared to have the same idea. Oy.

I think I would feel the same way about any retail establishment at this time of the year, but I found myself hating Walmart that morning. I hated the abundance of unnecessary plastic junk on its shelves. I hated the pithy Christmas music blaring over the tinny sound system. Most of all, I loathed myself for participating in the crass over-commercialization of Christmas.

At the checkout, there was a problem with the gift cards. Evidently, the system which activates them is in Arkansas, and was malfunctioning due to the ice storm. Perfect. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I returned to my car, which I had parked somewhere out in Siberia. About fifty metres away, there was a hub of activity .. some people with big white plastic bags, waving at the passing cars. Hmm, I thought. Very strange. As I pushed my empty cart back to the cart corral, a man rolled down his window and said, "Ma'am! They're giving away free turkeys over there!" Right on cue, a woman walked up to me and gave me one of those big white plastic bags. There a large premium frozen turkey in there, and a box of stuffing mix, AND a can of cranberry sauce! Incredulous, I asked who was giving these turkeys away and why? The lady just smiled, waved her hand nonchalantly at one of the men handing out the turkeys, and said, "I don't know. He just likes to do this every year for you guys!"

As I drove out of the parking lot, I stopped to say thanks to the apparent leader of the group. He was wearing big sunglasses and had his toque pulled down low over his forehead. I suspect that the two or three days' worth of beard was a temporary addition to his appearance. The one part of his image that could not be concealed was the huge grin on his face.

I have no idea who "he" is, but I think I know who he works for.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quote of the day

You know, honey, most people don't put up new birdfeeders in the middle of a blizzard.

One would think that after thirteen years, my husband would understand my quirky logic. I was already bundled up for shoveling, I wanted to get the pole and feeder mounted before the snow got too deep, and my birdies were hungry!

There had been a flurry of activity at the feeders this morning. Clearly, the birds knew that they needed to build up their energy reserves for the pending storm. Chickadee after chickadee flitted up to the sunflower buffet at the window, to my delight and to the consternation of the cats. The blue jays pecked away at the suet bars. The mourning doves gathered the seeds which had scattered on the snow.

And then .. he arrived. A brilliant male cardinal, the first I've spotted this winter. I'm going to call him Eric.

Obviously, the new feeder had to go up immediately. What's not to understand?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Alternative title: no good deed goes unrewarded!
Alternative, alternative title: making my frugal Daddy proud!!

On Sunday afternoon, my friend, Miss R, called from post. She was in quite a state. She had locked her car keys inside her car, and the spare set of keys were on the bulletin board in her kitchen.

I have a key to her house, because my son and I walk up there every weekday to take her aging hound dog out to do his business while Miss R is at work. We're only a couple of miles away from post, so it was no big deal to "rescue" my dear friend from this predicament.

I rarely venture onto post these days, given that the Super-Walmart is closer and sets its prices fairly close to those of the Commissary and PX. So, I thought I'd take a stroll around the Commissary (that's on-post grocery store for you civilians!) to see what was new and yummy. It turns out that Sunday afternoon is a good time to purchase meat from the Commissary. Since the store is closed on Mondays, anything that has an expiry date for the following Tuesday gets marked down for "quick sale" at about 4 pm. (Shhh! Don't tell anybody!) I scooped up some lovely steaks and lamb chops on my unexpected trip to post. I thanked the butcher for the lamb, and he expressed relief that someone had cleared out their inventory. If the marked down lamb chops don't get sold by the end of the day, then they are put in the frozen and reduced section. More often than not, my new friend told me, the frozen lamb does not get sold, and is simply thrown away. What a sin!!!!

The moral of the story is: be available to help your friends.

Oh, and the second moral of the story is: don't bother calling me on Sunday afternoons. I'll be hanging around the meat department at the Commissary, waiting for the markdowns!

Monday, December 10, 2007

An open letter to the mainstream media

You're pissing me off.

Forgive the profanity, but there is simply no other way to express my disgust for you these days.

I am an intelligent, busy woman, trying to stay on top of current affairs. You - and I'm pointing my finger at all of you in the press - are making it very difficult for me. Your obsession with the trivial and inconsequential has even tainted my dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I was floated over to the Inpatient Mental Health Unit, where I was tasked to care for Ms. Britney Spears. How could such a notion have entered my psyche? Again, I point my finger at the so-called serious news outlets. I don't read the tabloids. I don't even have a television. And still .. and STILL!! The trials and travails of Ms. Spears are always in my peripheral vision.

Can't you serious news types see that this woman is very, very sick? Don't you understand that the constant blitzkrieg of the paparazzi is making things even worse? Why do you feed into this collective psychosis?

Leave that poor woman alone! Her antics are not newsworthy. They're just sad, and you are pathetic for putting them on the front page.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Modern living

My mother just instant messaged me - to tell me to go to bed!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Waiting game

I spent the vast majority of my waking hours yesterday in the waiting rooms of various automobile service shops - hence, the completion of two garterlac dishcloths. The first half of the day was devoted to the switching out of the all-seasons to snow tires. That task in and of itself is not time consuming, as the Blizzaks are already mounted on their own rims. However, given that there is a dearth of tire service shops in this area, those of us who are not brave enough to change our own tires are compelled to spend a loooooooong time in the "lounge" while we pay someone else to to the task for us.

After completing my bi-annual stint in tire purgatory, I ran a quick errand. As I was driving home, I noted that the driver's side window was down by a crack, and wouldn't budge. Hmmmm. When I got home, I tapped it from the outside .. and down it went into the mysterious abyss that is the inside of a modern car door. Apparently, the clips which hold the windows of the Jetta are plastic, and are notorious for snapping in the cold. I must say that the customer lounge at the local Volkswagen dealership is a cozy place to hunker down and knit while the warranty work is being done.

So, while I was sitting, and knitting, and trying to tune out the hunting shows and college football on the ubiquitous televisions, I did some thinking. It seems to me that there is an untapped market in this area, a demographic which is being ignored.

The 10th Mountain Division is noted for being the most frequently deployed post since September 11th. Urban legends would have us believe that when the (mostly) guys are deployed, their (mostly) wives don't always do the greatest job of keeping up with automobile maintenance. I can't speak to the veracity of that rumour, but let's just run with it. What if there was an automobile service center which catered to military spouses? Imagine a place that was clean and cozy, with a day spa and high quality child care. Perhaps there would even be a place for scrapbooking and other crafty pursuits.

I think it would be a license to print money. Could someone get on top of that?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blame Canada!!

Oh Noes! The Canadian Beer Fridge is being blamed for global warming!!

Don't be a hosehead. Put your beer in the snow, eh?

Just elfing around!

Some silly people just elfing around!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A different kind of rescue

I was quite moved to learn about the 2nd Chance at Life: Greyhounds and Inmates Corrections Partnership program.

If a society can be judged by the way it treats its prisoners and its animals, then this is a step in the right direction.

It needs to be said ...

... shamelessly lifted from the Globe and Mail ...

There's an excellent essay in yesterday's Globe and Mail. Robert Dreyfuss outlines, in logical and succinct terms, the reasons for a US withdrawal from Iraq in a timely fashion.

I am far from an expert on Iraq, but I do have a more intense interest in the subject than, let's say the average American with no military connection who cares more about American Idol and Britney's dramas does. I will freely admit that my opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq is based more on emotion than on anything else. Call me crazy, but I think that exit strategies are rather useful. What gives me pause is the thought that a withdrawal would be a betrayal to those who have already died in this war. A few months ago, I asked a young Army officer about his thoughts on the subject. Cory had already served a full tour in Iraq with my husband, and he was in the midst of preparing for his next deployment to the desert. His answer was eloquent and articulate. He said that we are a Logic-Based Society, and as such, our nation merely needed to define what victory looks like, declare victory, and leave. It sounds logical to me.

A few weeks later, Cory dropped by with something for my husband. I could barely maintain eye contact through my thick layer of tears, knowing that he would be leaving soon. I wanted to hide him in the trunk of my car and take him far away, to a place where that brilliant mind would be safe.

It's time for all of them to come home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I don't know what they're talking aboot, eh?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

After 13 years of living in the United States (with a few years off for good behaviour, in Italy) I don't have much of a Canadian accent anymore. I found these quiz results to be highly amusing, because my husband was born and raised in Pennsylvania. I didn't think I had picked up on his accent or lack thereof .. but perhaps I have!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jonesing ...

My friend Liesl, who lives in Munich, dropped by today.

She brought a package of these for my son:

William shared one with me .. and I'm hooked.

Haribo gummy bears on the inside + crispy Smarties shell on the outside = Ach Mein Gott!!!!

Nestle, in their infinite cruelty, is only selling these crack-like goodies, delightful confections in Germany and Austria. Bastards.

Is anyone going to Germany or Austria soon?

Saturday, November 10, 2007


My friend Christi and I took a shopping trip to Ogdensburg this morning. It felt that we had crossed the border. The Walmart was full of Canadians riding the Loonie's ascent against the Greenback. It was comforting to hear that familiar accent once more, and as an added bonus, my fellow shoppers threw in some Quebecois/Eastern Ontario Franglais for my listening pleasure.

I could have sworn that I was at the Walmart near my parents' house in Trenton, Ontario - until, that is, the following announcement came over the loudspeaker:

Would the owner of a black van, license plate number ABC123, please move your vehicle. You're blocking the horse-and-buggy parking, and our Amish customers need to park there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Faint November Rainbow

A slight wash of colour after a brief hailstorm.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Step into my parlour ...

Was there a full moon this weekend?

It feels like there was a full moon, because I got just a little bit manic with a gallon of "Victorian Garnet."

Actually, it started with the curtains. Several weeks ago, I came across the velvet/tapestry panels in the clearance aisle at the Super-Walmart.

Then, I procrastinated, because I needed to take down the old window treatments and put up new double rods. And they had to be just the right double rods, which eluded me for weeks.

When I found the perfect double rods, I continued to procrastinate. I had mounted the old valences with Robertson screws, and I couldn't find my Robertson screwdriver.

Eventually, I broke down, went to the Super-Walmart, and bought a new Robertson screwdriver. And, there in the Ooops! Mistint! section of the hardware/paint department, was a quart of Victorian Garnet.

Hmmmmmm, I thought. Pretty. Would look amazing on the old textured wallpaper on the south side of the living room. But I kept on walking, right past that lonely little quart of paint. I did not have the time for extensive redecorating.

Victorian Garnet had a different idea. She kept haunting me, taunting me, beckoning me.

Finally, I surrendered, and came home with a gallon of Kilz, custom tinted to match Victorian Garnet.

'Tis no longer a living room, but a cozy parlour. I am delighted with the results.

Would you care for a cup of Earl Grey?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What have you been up to, these past 15 months?

There's a brand new, yet familiar air of excitement in our neck of the woods these days. The 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division is trickling back home after fifteen months in Iraq.

Fifteen months. Four hundred and fifty days, give or take a few, in the sandbox. I was trying to wrap my head around that number today.

Fifteen months ago, we decided to homeschool William. Now, we're quite comfortable in our unorthodox little groove, and I can hardly recall what it was like to put him on the bus every day.

Fifteen months ago, my husband was still very sick. I've lost track of how many medications were tried, or how many diagnoses were proposed and discarded. It has only been in the past six months or so that the combination of acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments have brought Steve back to a reasonable level of health and functionality.

Fifteen months ago, the 1st Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division - my husband's old Brigade - was just getting back from their deployment to Iraq. Now, scarcely a year later, they are back in the lion's den.

I've been observing, if not participating in, the rituals of redeployment for far too many years now. And still, I get a little verklempt when they occur.

The local Super-Walmart is packed to the rafters with 2nd Brigade soldiers, stocking up on the necessities and frivolities of life back in the good old U.S. of A. Some of them sport brand new tattoos, still protected with cellophane. I'm not a tattoo fan, myself, but I can certainly understand these soldiers' desire to commemorate their experience with some ink.

What strikes me the most, is how young these returning soldiers are. In my eyes, they look like adolescents. In reality, many are still teenagers, with an eternity's worth of experience accumulated over these past 15 months. And they're still not old enough to buy a beer.

Welcome back, and thank you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I *heart* my job

In today's mail, there was a letter from my employer. When I saw the envelope, I rolled my eyes and presumed that it was yet another letter warning me that our facility was about to become completely smoke-free. That's great news, but I've never been a smoker, so it really has no bearing on my life.

But I digress ...

When I read the letter, I received a pleasant surprise. It seems that, as a gesture of goodwill this season, all employees will receive a turkey!

First they give me unlimited amounts of Douwe Egberts coffee, and now a turkey?? I'm gonna stay there forever!

(No, I am not being sarcastic. I loves me some turkey!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

And now, your moment of D'OH!!!

I did a little retail therapy today, and amongst my frivolous purchases was a new eyeglass cleaning kit.

The first thing I did after getting home was to try out the nifty new anti-fog spritz and silvery microfiber cleaning cloth.

All was well until I popped my glasses back on my face, and the blurred distortion gave me vertigo. I unleashed a torrent of unprintable strong language at the obviously flawed product which ruined my glasses.

It took me a full minute to realize that I was still wearing my contacts.


My husband is still laughing at me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Warning ...

The blue cheese stuffed olives from the deli department of the Super-Walmart are sinfully delicious and highly addictive.

You have been warned.

That is all. Carry on.

Lots on my mind ..

.. but too tired to create an articulate post.

So instead, I took a little quiz.

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The view from the trail, autumn edition

The hub of activity is the pond at the mid-way point of the trail. The Canada Geese are gathering in preparation for their journey south.

Their ballet is a graceful one, as the sun throws diamonds on their dance floor.

Skein after skein circled the pond, trying to find a spot for their gaggle.

Some amphibians grew bored with the noisy show, and decided to play leapfrog.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Bald eagle at Rosamund Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, NY

This bird's left wing is broken. Consequently, this once proud and majestic creature can no longer soar.

Sad, isn't it?

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Shaun has tagged me to list eight things I like about me. Aieee! It is a difficult exercise.

1. As Shaun says, I'm feisty, both here and in the real world. Although I tend to self-censor on my blog, I do write in my true voice.

2. I am positive, cheerful, and effervescent by nature, even at the end of a 12 hour night shift.

3. I am frugal.

4. I am reliable.

5. I am capable of seeing an issue from several different perspectives.

6. I have a knack for languages. I speak French fluently, and I can get by in Italian.

7. I am a good photographer.

8. I am creative and crafty.

I am not going to tag anyone in particular, but if you have a blog and can write about eight of your best qualities, leave a note in my comments!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Call for action

I'm actually finding myself at a loss for words right now. When the SCHIP legislation was vetoed, the Commander in Chief hurt more than our nation's children. The war pig president spat in the face of every family member of every wounded troop in this nation. Included in the now-defunct SCHIP bill were provisions to expand FMLA for family members taking care of severely injured soldiers, and to extend one year of employment discrimination protection to them.

Heckuva job, Georgie.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quote of the day

From Paul Krugman's column in today's NY Times.

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

Emphasis mine.

Enough said.

It's the little things that mean so much

The challenge: Write about the environment for Blog Action Day.

We do make a concerted effort to lessen our environmental footprint chez Rose, but it isn't something that requires a great deal of thought, effort, or even sacrifice anymore.

Let me take you through my morning so far:

I made the coffee at about 0545 when I got up to let the dog out. I was still pretty tired, so I just went back to bed for two more decadent hours. The java was still hot because our coffee maker has a thermal carafe, which preserves the temperature and flavour without using more electricity. It also came with a permanent filter, so no trees were harmed in the production of my caffeine fix. The grounds are composted, and will nourish my tomato and cucumber plants next year.

That coffee maker has probably saved us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the past few years. It makes a very fine cup of joe, so we no longer purchase coffee when we are out and about, nor do we use styrofoam or paper cups.

For breakfast, I made oatmeal. My mother will be pleased to know that we do not use that instant, just-add-boiling-water chemically adulterated crap. In the same amount of time that it would take to boil the kettle, a pot of wholesome porridge can be made. It costs just a fraction of what the aforementioned "fast" product costs, and there are no envelopes to throw away.

While we were eating, the laundry was chugging away in the HE washing machine. The clothes are hanging on the line now, of course, thus reducing our residential electricity use by 5 to 10%.

Homeschooling commenced with reading. Both books were ordered from Amazon and delivered by those big brown trucks, whose parent company strives to reduce its environmental footprint. I think that Amazon could probably do a better job in reducing its packaging, but I promise that I recycle all of those materials.

So, that's the morning wrap-up. Saving electricity, saving trees, saving money .. it's all good!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A haiku, brought to you by the letter F

Felt fatigue after
Finishing the third night shift
Frost on my windshield!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just as I was getting comfortable in lapsed Catholicism ..

.. Catholics United had to go and do something brave, breathtaking, and brilliant.

They have launched a series of radio ads targeting ten members of Congress whose opposition to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) have compromised their pro-life voting records.

Could someone please refresh my memory? What church does our compassionate conservative, pro-life president attend?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Watching ..

.. and waiting.

Turkey Vulture, Freehold, New Jersey.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I think I just suffered whiplash.

It's from violently shaking my head at this article in the NY Times, about the "Mom Job" or "Mommy Makeover" - plastic surgery which aims to erase any and all evidence that a woman has had a baby. Last year in the USA, according to the article, 325,000 women between the ages of 20 and 39 went under the knife to correct the "defects" imposed by pregnancy and/or breastfeeding.

I guess it's too late for these women, but perhaps their daughters will catch this video from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fading away ...

Where did September go? How did it get to be October already?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hyperventilating .. need paper bag STAT!

An LL Bean outlet store opened today, a mere 80 miles from my house.

And thus, the question of where to spend my overtime pay has been answered.

Road trip, anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Perfect unschool field trip, in pictures

Apple picking at Behling Orchards in Mexico, NY.

Onwards to Oswego, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Visit Fort Ontario.

Sewing "machine" in the Officers' Quarters #1. Note the treadle.

Laundry day, circa 1869.

Wash basin atop a shipping crate, covered in chintz.

I was bemused by the concept of a young military family "making do" with what they had. Sadly, it seems that the vast majority of my peers have succumbed to the gotta have it all, right now, and the Rent-A-Center will make it happen for us for only $20/month for the rest of our debt-infested lives phenomenon. But I digress.

Then, we were off to the Salmon River Hatchery in Altmar, NY. While the salmon run is not near its peak yet, there were some beauties at the ladder.

On the way back to our car, I spotted the perfect tree for our 2007 unschool portrait. My kiddo is pretty darned handsome, if I may say so myself.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Hello out there!! I am resurfacing after three nights shifts in a row. Those 12 hour shifts are a lot harder on my body than they were when I was in my early twenties, but I'm actually feeling pretty good. Yes, Mom, I'm taking my vitamins and getting good quality sleep during the day ;)

My sweet husband surprised me with a wonderful gift on Saturday. Steve and William took a boys' day out trip to Syracuse while I slept. They brought me an order of Venetian Apricot Chicken from the Olive Garden, complete with salad, breadsticks, and an Andes mint. So yummy! It was enough for my dinner* two nights in a row. Nothing chases the night shift dementors away like takeout from Olive Garden.

*or whatever one calls the meal at zero dark thirty after all the charting is complete!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Here comes the sun

About 0625 this morning.

A grateful recipient of those early morning rays.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, no. No, no, no.

Two U.S. soldiers whose signatures appeared on an op-ed piece in The New York Times critical of the war in Iraq last month were among seven Americans killed in a truck accident outside of Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora are gone. May they rest in peace.

Monday, September 10, 2007

And speaking of nuns ...

I had a truly bizarre dream last night, and I'm still trying to determine its meaning.

Here's the recap:

I was at a garden center, picking out some bedding plants. I found some beautiful blue hydrangeas.

That's not too strange, considering that I just planted Icicle Pansies and purple tulip bulbs in my front flower beds.

I went to some strange place to plant these hydrangeas. It was a woodsy kind of place, and the house was up on a bare rock outcropping. We (and I don't know who comprised the "we") decided that the hydrangeas would do best if planted in pots on the porch of this strange place.

A gaggle of nuns then went running down the rock outcropping. One of the nuns was quite old, appeared to have Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, and was scooting down the rocks on her hands and knees. Sister could move like no-one's business!

Then, a snake appeared. In my dream, I said to myself, that's just a garter snake. No worries. In real life, I'm actually quite fond of garter snakes. This dream snake was quite a bit larger than the standard issue garter snake, and was black with yellow blotches. The snake was not threatening, and it was headed down the hill as well. He was followed by many other four foot long, black and yellow snakes. None paid any attention to me. The snakes and the nuns were just moving away from the house as quickly as possible.

Then I woke up, but was it took me a good five minutes to work up the courage to get out of bed and heed nature's call, because I was afraid that there were snakes on my bedroom floor.

Blue hydrangeas, rocks, nuns, and snakes. Anyone care to interpret that one?

Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another call for impeachment

Full disclosure: I am a severely lapsed Catholic.

About 15 years ago, I found myself to be in profound philosophical opposition to many of the Vatican's dogmatic views towards birth control, divorce, and homosexuality. While only one of the above had any direct impact on my life, they were dealbreakers. I voted with my feet, and feel no guilt whatsoever about that choice.

However ...

I still have a soft spot in my heart for the nuns, especially those who channel their energies into social justice.

The National Coalition of American Nuns has called upon Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors.

I pray that their voices will be heard.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gee, ya think?

Food additives appear to increase hyperactivity.

Allow me to respond to this, bit by bit.

Artificial food colouring and preservatives commonly found in many of the foods children regularly eat appear to lead to increased levels of hyperactivity, finds a study in The Lancet.

Increased levels of hyperactivity? Try causing hyperactivity. Visit a classroom party at an elementary school, resplendent with orange pop and chocolate, and try to convince me that I'm wrong.

The study found that it wasn't just children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were affected, but all the children had trouble with inattention, impulsivity, and overactivity.

Not just the previously labelled children. All of the children.

A team led by Jim Stevenson of the University of Southampton in Southampton, UK, had 153 three-year-old children and 144 children aged eight or nine years consume one of three drinks:

Mix A, which contained artificial food colouring;
Mix B, which contained the preservative sodium benzoate and artificial food colouring;
or a placebo drink.

The food colourings used were: tartrazine, sunset yellow, carmoisine, and ponceau. The amounts of the chemicals in each drink were adjusted for each of the two age groups.

Behaviours were measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA) based on ratings by teachers and parents, plus a computerized test that measured attention spans for the older age group.

The researchers found that, among the three-year-old children, mix A had a significantly adverse effect on hyperactivity compared with placebo in GHA. The effects for mix B were mixed, with greater variability in the response to the active challenges than placebo in this group. Among the eight and nine-year-old children, they showed a significantly adverse effect when given mix A or mix B.

Colour me surprised. /sarcasm

"This study provides evidence of deleterious effects of AFCA on children's behaviour," the authors write, while adding that it remains unclear which specific compounds in their drink mixed were responsible for the behaviour changes. They say that should be further investigated in subsequent studies ... They say further investigation would also need to establish whether the age-related difference noted in their study -- i.e.: the effects of mix A being greater for three-year-old children than for the older children -- can be replicated.

Further investigated? Are you kidding me? What more needs to be discovered?

The researchers note that increased hyperactivity is associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading.

Ya don't say.

Myriad factors came into play when we made the decision to pull our son out of the public school system in order to educate him at home. Nutrition was one of them. For the first four years of William's formal education, my diligent efforts at sending a well rested, well nourished child off to school were regularly negated by the lowest common denominator - ie those other parents who thought that Cheetos were an appropriate snack for 5 year olds. I can confirm this study's findings that artificial food colouring (and Gawd knows what else is found in Cheetos) turn children into wolverines. Yeah, that's it. Wolverines. On steroids. And Cheetos.

Gawd only knows how much more time I would have spent in the Principal's office had I toed the party line and allowed my child to partake in the school breakfast and lunch programmes. Sugar-coated donuts, grape juice, and chocolate milk do not lead to a state of readiness to learn. Breaded, deep fried popcorn shrimp is not an adequate source of protein. Broccoli that is limp and brown no longer confers any nutritional benefit. I have not conjured these examples out of thin air. This is what I observed on a regular basis as a dedicated PTO mommy who volunteered at the school nearly every day.

It begs the question: How many of the children who have been diagnosed with ADHD at the behest of the school system are just acting up because of poor nutrition? What would happen if the cafeteria stopped poisoning their tiny little bodies with all of those food additives? How many of the children who truly do have ADD or ADHD receive diluted interventions and services because there are so many kids in the system with tartrazine-induced craziness?

The afore-linked article alludes to the need for "further research." Bunkum.

Here's all that they need to know:

Stop feeding crap to children. End of discussion.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

You have got to be kidding me!

From the Toronto Star:

SUV rams RIDE checkpoint.

An 18 year old, who inexlicably remains unnamed, rammed his 1996 Ford Explorer into a RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) spotcheck.

His BAC was a little under twice the legal limit.

This person needs to be named and shamed. He should never be allowed to drive again.

There is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving. None whatsoever. Why don't people get this?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On the trail

I consider the Calcium Nature Trail to be an integral part of our homeschooling adventure. We always see a wonderful assortment of flora and fauna, and I invariably learn something from my junior entomologist.

Today's observations included:

Big fat frogs, on the opposite shore from ..

.. their predator, the Great Blue Heron.

The peaceful cohabitation of the Great Blue Heron with some ducks and turtles.

By my count, there are six ducks and ten turtles hanging out on this log in the middle of the pond.

And the jewel in today's nature crown, the praying mantis. My sharp-eyed son spotted this bad boy near the gazebo at the half-way mark of the trail.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A must-read article.

Have a shot of whiskey before reading this:

The Great Iraq Swindle.

Why is it that we must rely on Rolling Stone to expose this vile kleptocracy?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nothing substantive to say today

I blame a combination of physical and psychological fatigue for the fact that The Chickenhawk in Chief's invocation of the disaster in Vietnam as a justification for "staying the course" in Iraq failed to evoke any reaction in me for a few hours. I could talk about the chutzpah and hubris of such an outrageous statement, but others have already said it better.

So, instead, I made a mini-meez.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


A certain feline, who shall remain nameless, thought that this little bunneh might make a tasty treat or amusing toy. He was over-ruled by this human, who may or may not allow him back into the house this week.

After ascertaining that little bunneh was okay - which he proved by jumping out of my son's arms and all over the living room - little bunneh was set free in the high grass.

Live long and prosper, little fellow. Just don't eat my cucumbers, okay?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Smoochable perfection!

My friends dropped by this afternoon, to show off their latest project, Ginny:

I commend them on this excellent choice.

Friday, August 17, 2007

And the award for hypocritical disingenuity goes to ..

.. our local Walmart Supercenter!!

For a few glorious months this year, I purchased our supply of toilet paper from our local Walmart. Walmart was the only store in the area which offered 100% recycled toilet paper. Unfortunately, they stopped stocking this environmentally friendly product. Quel Bummer.

Today, as I navigated the aisles of the store, I noted that there were 8.5 X 11 inch signs tacked to the shelves of the toilet paper aisle. These cellulose Jiminy Crickets gently advised the shopper to choose 100% recycled toilet paper. After all, if each American home swapped out just one roll of traditional TP with a roll made from 100% recycled, post consumer product paper, then 424,000 trees could be saved.

I started feeling a little giddy, thinking that my TP of choice was once again gracing the shelves of the Supercenter. Alas, it was not to be. The poor consumer was being guilt-tripped into purchasing a product which was not available, and Walmart killed some trees to do it.

That really .. stinks!!

They disappeared before I could snap a picture!

I've been feeling a little discouraged and guilty about the neglected state of my veggie garden this summer - so much so that I was contemplating an end to my attempts to grow vegetables next summer.

The cucumber vines that I planted a few months ago have been partially obscured by some very tenacious and exuberant weeds. Nevertheless, my son and I found two more beauties hiding in the shade of those weeds today. William's excitement at finding these treasures re-kindled my desire to continue planting vegetables. William quickly rinsed them off and sliced them, and now their life energy is our life energy. Yum, yum, yum! There was no time to take a picture for posterity!

Summer is flying by, isn't it? The last couple of weeks of August used to make me wistful and anxious, grieving the end of summer before it even happened, and feeling pangs of guilt that I didn't carpe every sun-filled diem. This year, I have been liberated from that particular neurotic idiosyncracy. Chalk it up to the freedoms of Bohemian unschooling homeschooling.

Monday, August 13, 2007

This headline says it all

Military families live in dread, while the rest of America is busy shopping.

And when they aren't shopping, they're working themselves up into a state of righteous indignation about who is winning or losing on American Idol.

Or so it seems from my vantage point ...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes

"If you eat too much chocolate, you can't control your impulses." Maddie, aged 5.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007