Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Garden & back yard

Ahhhh, the garden. We were so happy to be able to have a garden (however humble). Here are some photos of its ongoing progress, as well as some of the other stuff I've done:

Newly planted, look behind the couple of hams in the foreground ;)

And by mid-June it's really gone wild! From left to right are peas (behind which are peppers and then strawberries), winter storage squash (behind which are rows of broccoli and cabbage) sweet corn with pole beans and butternut squash, in front of that are cucumbers and pie pumpkin. Next are tomatoes (sweet million cherry, roma, and beefsteaks), carrots, and a couple more cherry tomatoes. You can't see the Brussells sprouts, lettuce and onions behind the tomatoes, either, but they're there. Interspersed with the tomatoes is basil and parsley and throughout the garden are marigolds.

Oh, and that wood stacked in front of the garden is part of Roy's next project, the boys' addition to their sandbox -- a castle! (A fort really, but they're calling it a castle. It's 90% complete, now.

Now for some flowers:

Our memorial bed. The hanging planter is a really old tea kettle :)

My daughter's flower bed:

Where the HECK I've been

Currently I'm in Ohio visiting family and friends. As for the previous 2 would really be better if I showed you. Enjoy some before and after pictures and imagine the HOURS AND HOURS of hard labor that went into these projects. Here are before and afters of the front:

Next post, the garden . . .

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes

Kurt Vonnegut is in heaven now.

I know he died as a result of head injuries, but I have to wonder...did he fall out of a tree?

Somebody tell me he fell out of a tree.

How many educations and confirmations did I get from the writings of Kurt Vonnegut? I really can't say. My education on the Dresden fire bombing....that was Kurt's. My introduction to humanism and a further confirmation of the simple, essential wrongness of war and so much more.

I've read criticisms of Mr. Vonnegut's writings calling them simplistic, confusing, even worthless. How is it then, that 20 years after I've read Slaughterhouse Five that I can recall a simple detail and attribute it to that book and go search out that book to get a little illumination on that subject? Hell, I'm surprised I remember anything for that long, let alone a bit from a book.

For about 20 years he's been helping me get through this thing, whatever it is, and for that, too, I am grateful.

They've wormed their way into my psyche and being. They're a part of me. And that part of me is possibly never mature. Thank you Mr. Vonnegut for these gifts. I'll get to grow that part of me the rest of my life. Perhaps it is human suffering and the simple, bright light he used to illuminate it that reached inside me and grabbed my soul by the shirt collar.

I have to wonder, too, if up in Heaven, he's saying "If this isn't good, what is?" I'll have to ask him when I get there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Book Review: The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams is a modern-day adult fairy tale. The main character, Theo Vilmos is an underacheiving garage band singer who finds himself tossed into the land of Faerie by a tiny sprite when an undead creature shows up at his cabin to kill him.

As the story progesses, we learn all about Faerie and its similarities to and differences from the human realm. Theo is an anti-hero with few redeeming qualities other than a great singing voice and good looks. Along his travails in faerie (while still being chased by an unstoppable undead creature who can find Theo anywhere -- or at least whenever the novel's pace slowed to a near-backwards crawl) one expects Theo to have some epiphany that will make him not so much of a self-absorbed slacker. He falls in love with a fairy, learns he is a fairy, develops a few friendships ... and he remains as flat and two-dimensional as the sorry underachieving part-time singer we're introduced to in the beginning.

The pace of the novel is horrendously slow. Descriptions go on for pages yet offer little to illuminate the subject, the world, or the plot. The characters never fill out -- they're all cardboard cut-outs. We have self-absorbed anti-hero who foibles his way to victory, smart-assed side-kick, beautiful self-absorbed and -unsure love interest, oh and there's always Satan lurking in the background pulling strings and weilding unfair and awesome powers to suit his purposes. NO, he's not called Satan but if the similarities were laid any thicker I would have laughed my way through the book.

For 800 pages, this book had very little substance to it. It remained flat, undeveloped and incredibly dull. Very disappointing with few redeeming qualities.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On What Grounds Would You End an Imaginary Friendship

Little break from cleaning here to share this story with the world.

My seven year old gained an imaginary friend when he was 4. I don't blame him. His mom went in hospital for an extended time, his family split up for 3 months before everyone moved to a different country, his baby brother was born 2 months premature, and then just after he gets settled into his new home in a whole different country, his Pappap died. So, several enormous life events in a row and here came a slew of imaginary friends. One was around for awhile, then he was twins, then it was twins and their buddy.

We didn't make a big deal of this. It was obviously a coping mechanism and an outlet for a VERY active imagination. Our son would tell us tales of how he and his imaginary friends went out joy riding in a moving truck, working on farm equipment, driving a train. Harmless fun really.

Stories about the imaginary friend(s) started tapering off a year or so ago. They'd come once a month, then every several months, and until the other day I hadn't heard about "Kyle" or his twin in about six months. Well, my little guy informed me that he has given up his imaginary friend.

"Oh?" I said, "And how did you come to that decision?" Fully expecting he'd tell me he's growing up and doesn't need any imaginary friends.

"He was mean, so I don't want him to be my friend anymore." Dear son tells me. I ask him to explain.

"Well, I was falling to sleep and Kyle asked me if I was thinking about Kiara" Kiara's a pretty girl from school "and I told him 'no.' So he said, 'I'm gonna te-ell, I'm gonna te-ell, I'm gonna te-ell Kiara that you weren't thinking about her!' So I decided that I'm not his friend anymore because that was mean!"

Now you know what exactly is grounds for ending an imaginary friendship.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Menu for the week of March 4, 2007

Monday: Chalupas, lemon ice
Tuesday: Leftover Chalupas, lemon ice
Wednesday: Chicken breast, Rice, Cali mix
Thursday: Chicken-vegetable cobbler
Friday: Apple puff pancake, green goodness smoothie
Saturday: Meatloaf, steamed carrots, green salad
Sunday: leftovers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Word on Nutrition

It seems my approaching 38th birthday has me facing my own mortality. I have this pervasive sense that the days ahead of me may well be fewer than the days behind me. Oh, I know I'm not that old yet! I'm not that healthy either! While my people tend to live long lives, I want to not only live a long life, but to live it fully to the end! So after a couple years of incessant worrying on the topic, I began studying last year. Studying what foods are healthiest for our bodies. Studying eating disorders and their roots. Studying the effects of exercise on the brain and body. Studying the effects of processed sugars, preservatives and pesticides on our bodies. And then, feeling only slightly informed, I began making changes.

First goal: increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to ten at least per day! My reason: fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and calorie poor. Do you know that many obese people are chronicly malnurished? Yes, people who eat much much more than they need on a regular basis are malnourished! Why? Because they eat calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods. I'm guilty of it! There's no way I could be so overweight if I were overeating only the world's healthiest foods.

Results so far of my first goal: I have sustained energy throughout the day and none of those huge slumps in the afternoons any longer. My skin is the clearest it's been in a few years. I visit the washroom more frequently. And....I have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. I am NOT on a diet. I have eaten cake, cupcakes, cookies, and other diet no-no's -- but I've still lost ten pounds! My goal is not weight loss. My goal is health. A side-effect of changing my long-standing bad habits will be weight loss. I expect it, but it's not my primary goal.

So, I knew that green leafy vegetables are among the best additions to a person's diet. They are among the most nutrient-rich foods on earth. This week, I made mashed potatoes with kale. Just off the top of my head, I knew that green leafies are high in b-vitamins (good for sustaining energy, needed when stressed as stress hormones leach b-vitamins from our bodies, and also good for nerve function and will affect pain symptoms as well as brain function) calcium and other nutrients. I did NOT know that green leafies are full of anti-cancer agents, and kale is among the best lung-health promoting foods in the world. Here is a very good article just about the health benefits of kale. Here is a breakdown of kale's nutritional components in one serving.

I am now eating 5 servings of green leafy vegetables a week or more! Spinach and kale, currently, but others will be added as the seasons change. Right now, the season is optimal for kale and spinach will soon be at its tastiest!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Menu for the week of February 26

While I plan breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, I will only post my dinner menu. I am apparently trying to force or fake warm weather with all the salads and slaws I have on the menu this week.

Note that I make everything from scratch and I will post my recipes as I go.

Monday: leftover chili with mashed potatoes and kale
Tuesday: Chicken breasts, rice, broccoli salad (will make extra chicken breast for Wednesday's meal)
Wednesday: Fruited chicken salad, Lettuce and cucumber salad and carrot slaw
Thursday: Slow Cooker Pork chops with apples and sweet potatoes
Friday: Spaghetti, Garlic Cheese Biscuits and fresh salad
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Soup & Grilled Cheese

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