Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ewwwwww! Monkey Snot??

Okay, so I'm cruising along this morning, minding my own business, which really means minding everyone else's business as I poke about the house-- picking up a stray Star Wars action figure, laying a soft cover over the Katie-boo in hopes she'll sleep a while longer, going out the back door momentarily in order to feed the ferocious felines, perusing whatever junk might be laying on top of the hubby's counter (and yes, I probably would snoop down in that pile if I weren't afraid of a telltale avalanche!). That's when I came upon this new book that he just got in the mail. It's a how-to handbook about AMC engines. No surprise, there, except for the fact that my accountant-by-day/grease-monkey-at-heart hubby probably already has this info hardwired into his brain in neat little compartments. But, then, a passion for fixing things with wheels is pretty similar to a passion for creating things with glass when you get right down to the nitty gritty. No matter what our passion, most of us like to indulge in a new book or gadget. Nope, that's not the problem I am bringing to you this morning.
However, the problem does arise from the book, simply because it was open to a page with pictures of greasy motor stuff. I am nosy, you know, so I turned on the laundry "room" light and leaned over for a closer gander. Let me just say this:
and this:
What the heck is monkey snot and why would you wipe it onto your oil pan and does the name come from grease monkies running out of lubricant and just deciding to blow their noses into great big red bandanna hankies to get more of the stuff??
Now, some would say I should have known better than to start reading a book of mechanical wizardry when I often have problems just turning the key in the ignition. . . and some would say I deserve to have this vision haunt me the rest of the day. Fine. But howzabout the rest of you do something to help me rid my brain of this running movie of stooge-like chimpanzees in striped overalls running around a garage, throwing wrenches, cranking jacks all the way up and then letting them fall, swinging from tire racks, sliding down windshields and hoods, and occasionally stopping to whip a red bandanna out of their back pocket and blow their nose???

Friday, May 29, 2009

Barefoot over a Cattle Crossing

James is standing at the edge of a cattle crossing at the top of the driveway to the house where my grandparents lived when I was about his age. I can't even begin to count the number of times I crossed that very crossing throughout my childhood. Grandma and Granddaddy lived at the Eli Cannon place, tending cattle and keeping an eye on the property for the owners. They didn't own the house, but it sure seemed like we were approaching "home" every time we drove in there. The picture below is taken from the top of the hill where the driveway begins, and the homestead is that big white house you see surrounded by trees.

Susie, aka Aunt Soupie, drove the kids and me by here over the weekend. We were camping right around the lake from it, and we both thought James and Kate would like to see where our Grandma and Granddaddy lived when we were kids. You can see that the crossing is in pretty rough shape, so we didn't even pretend to be turning around in the driveway and get a closer view. . . but if our conversation as we passed by landmarks is any indication, memory would serve to give you a detailed tour of our childhood explorations.

Neither Grandma nor Granddaddy had a driver's license, so my mom would drive almost an hour to their house and take them to town once every week or so. I don't know why Grandma never got her license, maybe they were too poor to have a car, even one of Uncle Grover's fixed up junkers. I do have a damn good idea why Granddaddy never got a driver's license, though, and I am convinced it had a lot to do with the way he drove when he took one of the tractors out to do something around the farm. I say this with a big grin on my face, knowing that the man was born during a time when a horse and wagon was a more common mode of transportation than a car. I also say it with conviction because the man was fairly hardheaded and this conviction of his that he knew exactly what he was doing made him just a wee bit reckless behind the wheel. Surely, a team of mules would've balked at some of the moves he made on a tractor.

Thinking back to those summer days when we kids were out of school, I can feel myself back in the backseat of the green Volare station wagon, hair whipping across my face because the windows were all rolled down, sweat sticking a few wisps of bangs to my forehead, the taste of a cream soda Dum-Dum sucker lingering in my mouth. The Dum-Dum suckers were the highlight of a quick trip to the bank drive-thru before heading out to Grandma's. I remember the slightly wild scramble of three kids trying to make sure they didn't get stuck with a root beer flavored freebie when mother handed us the suckers from the bank teller.

As soon as we passed the McDaniels' population sign, we'd breathe a sigh of relief that the long drive was about to end with us tumbling out of the station wagon and into the shady yard at Grandma and Granddaddy's. You can probably tell from the picture that the yard was a shady one, but a picture doesn't do it justice. Two incredibly large trunked silver poplars guarded the front porch, and a row of maples held sentinel post along the front yard fence. Another huge tree stood just to the outside corner of the front yard, ensuring full shade over the metal pipes that made up the cattle crossing. Forty-some years of going barefoot all summer long have seared in my mind the location of all the cool (and hence, non-searing) surfaces in that yard. The almost always slightly damp concrete floor of the front porch is one of those surfaces. The smooth metal pipes of the crossing are another.

We weren't supposed to play on the crossing because it was too easy for little feet to get hung and ankles to get twisted. It was an oasis of smoothness after a walk across the gravel driveway, though, and it was an interesting place after a rain shower. The pit beneath the pipes would collect water, and it was neat to look down between the pipes. . .if you could keep your balance and lean over without slipping sideways.

There you have it, my advice for barefoot children who might find themselves in the yard at the Eli Cannon place :)

P.S. I forgot to mention that chicken poop is not always relegated to the area around the chicken coop, so be on the lookout for that, too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aunt Soupie and The Rottens :-)

Ever notice how many different bubble blowing contraptions show up in the toy aisles of stores as soon as warmer weather arrives? This year, bubble swords seem to be the ubiquitous bubble wand toy. The ones Kate and James are holding actually had sword handles and a trigger action to expand the wand once you pull it out of the bubble filled case. I think my brother is the one who bought these, but it was my sister who got the call to help test them. It was a fairly easy choice, given that Aunt Soupie was the one camping with Grandma and Granddaddy and that Uncle Bubby stayed home instead of camping.
However, I do believe that Aunt Soupie is the premier go-to adult when it comes to jumping on the trampoline, playing in the water, putting together a new toy, trying out a new toy, watching a cool movie, catching a ride, and a multitude of other activities. Uncle Bubby runs an extremely close second, though, crossing the finish line with his grill nanoseconds behind Soupie's. Just in case my brother and sister haven't heard this, YOU ARE THE BESTEST, and JAMES & KATE ARE DARN LUCKY TO HAVE YOU!
Soupie set up a tent next to Grandma and Granddaddy's camper this weekend, brought the inflatable Spiderman and Dora sleeping bags, and found flash lights for everyone. Soupie fastened life jackets, and Soupie played in the water at the beach. The only thing I didn't see Soupie do was roll down the giant sand hill into the water.
So, thank you, Soupie-doodle, for all you do for James and Katie :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Look! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!

Oops, wrong story! It's not a bird, plane, or Superman! It's something even more unusual than a buff man in tights! It's, it's, it's a live plant that is surviving and growing in Angie's care!!
Now that the excitement has subsided, I return you to your regularly scheduled Friday. . . please, have an incredible weekend :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog Strike? Nah, Just Quiet

Well, the quiet part is always up for debate when you're speaking of moi, but it is unusual for me to be "quiet" when it comes to blogging :) I will have to see what I can do about gnawing on your ear, making you belly laugh, and taking you places with me. . .

In the meantime, here's a virtual hug or two or three, as well as a wish for just the right amount of crushed ice in your soda, more than one hummingbird gracing your feeders, good plants that are growing out of control and potentially out of control plants that are being good, at least one snuggly cat or dog to hold down your back porch, and no bills in your mailbox :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lemon Berry-licious!! Seventh Birthday Blowout!!

The baby of the family turns seven, count those years, tomorrow! Grownups do not lie when they say, "Time flies." Seems like only a few days ago that the doc was holding up this chubby, pink, Buddha baby girl for us to see.
And now, that baby girl is big enough to want to spend her birthday at Six Flags, riding roller coasters and being brave! We are going to have fun, especially because in another ten years she'll be waaaaaaaaaaay too old to want to spend the day with Mom and Dad :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Like Thunder and Lightning!

Maple tree in the back yard took a big hit verrrrry early this morning.

It's like the tree literally exploded! See how far down the bark was peeled off the core? We found pieces of bark all around that area.

We also found this great big hunk of wood from the middle of the tree. No, my Croc flop wasn't outside for the excitement...I just put it there to give you an idea of the size of that hunk of wood.

Look! Hooray! My pansies are still growing and blooming! I just fixed the three tiers of plants yesterday. . . keep your fingers crossed for them, would ya? I have to get more potting soil to mix with regular dirt so I can fill the pots better. (Just wanted to make sure my mother knows I know the plants need more dirt around them!)

This evening's project-- took last year's cold frame box and added hardware cloth to the bottom to keep the dirt in it if I want to move it. The cool piece of hollow branch came from Mother and Daddy's woods. I can't wait for all these hens'n'chicks and other sedums to grow, grow, grow! I am so impatient, it was hard to not fill up the entire space right away.
So, that's been my day. . .well, the tree, plus subbing half a day, plus major straightening of my studio space, plus putting out the plants tonight. Thanks to Mallory for kissing that toad for me this morning. . .my day sure got better from there :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TIRED of Kid Pics?

Heehee, well, then to put it as my sister would, "Sorry 'bout your luck." Besides the fact that I've rarely torched anything to put in a picture these days, it's just something we moms are bound to do, this taking pictures of our kids. I don't think we ever outgrow it, either. Just ask Mallory's "babies" :)
I have to tell you that I am a sucker for family pictures,pictures from any family, pictures from any time period. I love looking for similar features in people in a photograph, love attempting to decipher who is related to whom, love "reading" personalities in the body language. There's so much to be learned from a photograph of people. Was the person behind the camera an obliging stranger who paused to "just push this button here when the light comes on, thank you so much"? Was the person behind the camera the shy relative who never liked to find himself in a frame of film? Was the person behind the camera the family ham who loves to gather attention and smiles and capture them for posterity? Did the people in the picture come to be there by accident that particular day? Did the people in the picture plan to get a special shot to be used for an additional purpose?

The questions can go on and on... Why was Aunt Gertrude holding one sister's hand while leaning far away from another? Why was that other sister laughing? What about Grandmother there in the middle of the family? Was she thinking about another family pose decades earlier, one where she was the youngster and her own grandmother sat quietly beaming amongst her brood?
Who knows all the answers? Who can guess all the right questions so they can find the right answers? For instance, forty years from now, will a friend of a friend be looking at this image and ask, "I wonder what they were thinking?" Just for posterity, I'll tell you what I know about that answer:
James: Look at this giant tire!! Wow, I can't wait to get off here and look at that old magazine some more. There was a Pontiac advertisement on the back of it! Pontiac! Why does Granddaddy keep these big tires, anyway? Hey, where'd Uncle Bubby go? Hmm, Soupie, don't you think we oughtta go for a drive in your red car?
Kate: This tire is all womply on my butt!! (That's all. I know because that's what she yelled loud enough for everybody in the county to hear, LOL).

So what do you think about when you look at pictures of families? If you happen to look at funny little details like highwater pants and worn out tennis shoes, then let me add that James may never stop wearing those Spiderman jeans until he's a teenager. Oh, and I'm all for comfy shoes, but if you are reading this, son, I'm giving you fair warning that those are about to disappear :)
Enough rattling from me today. Yesterday was all about testing the new washing machine by catching up on the mountains of laundry, and today is all about a bunch of little to-do's that I need to be crossing off my list. Toodles :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gotta Love Mom!

Gotta love being able to spend a big part of Mother's Day with your mom! Love you, Mother! I forgot to tell you what James and Kate were discussing when we got back in the van at Corydon on Saturday afternoon. We'd just picked out your Mother's Day present, and the kids were asking how much driving time was left until we got to Grandma and Granddaddy's. Kate said, "The getting there isn't fun, but the actually getting into Grandma's driveway and seeing everyone *is* fun." James thought that was a pretty good description of the drive :)
Thank you for being the kind of Mom and Grandma who makes seeing your smiling face the bestest part of any trip!
We Love You!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Speedy Saturday Salutation

Speedy? No, not the cat, just this post, so check. Saturday, already? Check. Salutation? Heehee, just needed an S word for Hiya, so check.
  • This is the last "bloggable" picture left to choose, so here's Momo in one of her newfound sleeping spots :)
  • Momo and the Moochie cat now like each other, and they can usually be found curled up close to one another on the deck.
  • Moochie still likes to keep the little kitteh in line, though, because the kids saw her smack Momo just the other day.
  • Squirt gun waterfights have become our newest afternoon entertainment. James and Kate and Angel played cops and robbers waterfight yesterday after school.
  • No, I haven't joined the waterfights yet, but I don't plan to miss out! That would be the reason I got four squirt guns-- one for the mommy, one for the daddy, one for J, and one for K.
  • The pansies are growing and blooming and, well, surviving despite my less than green thumb. Hooray!
  • My mom is having a yard sale today, unless it is raining there now. I hope all of you in her area go buy it up, because she's planning on putting some of the leftovers in the back of my van when we get there, LOL.
  • Time to wake up some sleepyheaded munchkins. Uncle Steve brought Tanner and Victoria to visit last night. All four of the kids are now snoozing after staying up late playing (okay, so the teenager was probably watching television instead of playing).
  • Okay, toodles for now! Have a terrific Mother's Day weekend!

Friday, May 8, 2009

How Could I Miss It?

This funky assymmetrical doololly was hanging from a string around my neck last night, and my sister-in-law Nancy asked if it was one of mine.
She asked if it was a monkey. Now, since I'd been thinking of arrowheads and Grecian urns when I was playing with this glass, I was taken aback for a second. I asked if she meant it looked like a monkey because the handles look like ears? Nope, she was reminded of that Disney character, what's his name?
THEN I SAW IT. Picture Rafiki, or if you don't have Lion King fans in your life, then think "mandrill." See the huge eyebrows? How about the mouth or chin? The indented diagonal lines add to the illusion.
How cool is that?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mud Slinging

Ewwwwwwwwwww! Don't know what she dug up, but it sure doesn't look very good. James accidentally got splashed, and he had to run inside and wash the stink out of his hair. He came back outside saying, "Mom, I'm sorry, but I had to use some of your vanilla smell good stuff." Does this parenting stuff ever become un-entertaining?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Bugs Me

What a funky bug! She showed up on our patio door not long after the kids and I opened a brand new pack of crayons. Oh, yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaah, the 96 pack with the built-in sharpener. . .I would not let the kids touch it until I had carefully loosened that silly perforated flip back top that hasn't changed since I was a kid. You know what I mean about that lid, don't you? Remember how easy it is to pull too quickly and rip the thin paperboard? Some things never change. James and Kate crowded close to me, hankering to grab new crayons, but I was channeling old ketchup commercials and took my time. As I flipped back the lid with one hand, I shielded the crayons with the other and instructed the munchkins to breathe in that glorious new crayon box scent, LOL. I have to admit that I also called dibs on first use of the Midnight Blue crayon :)
So, how could a Sunday morning be much better? Why in the world would I say "this bugs me" about a new box of crayons? I'll tell you. If you are going to play crayons with me, then you'd better not be in a race to see who gets to use the built-in sharpener first. Oh, my, I could almost go Christopher Walken on you if I reach into my brand new box of 96 Crayolas and grab a crayon that has already lost part of its paper wrapper! Just kidding. Christopher Walken didn't show up in our kitchen, BUT I did inform my daughter that she shouldn't need to sharpen that pretty red crayon YET.
Hope your Tuesday is a great one! Hope the worst thing that bugs you today is a wrapperless, broken crayon :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Potter's Dream

I have dared to dream,
to dream of shaping the Earth,
much as she has shaped me.
Bowing my head to the Wheel of Time,
I have begun to knead the clay with humility,
and I can see now
how the fingertips of Fate have helped to mold me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

But, Mommy! I Can't Make It Look Like What I See in My Head!

Last night, as I was standing in front of my worktable contemplating ideas for what to torch today, Katie came to the breezeway door with a dejected look on her face. Soon as Kate heard that To-Do's mommy (hiya, Jo!) requested a sculpture to send to her mother-in-law, she had to make something, too. Jo's mother-in-law is French, so Kate decided she would draw the Eiffel Tower for her.
We googled some images of the Eiffel Tower, and Kate started sketching with her pencil. It didn't look quite the way she wanted her "upside down V" to look, so she decided to try painting instead of drawing. Considering the quiet rustling of paper and the slightest echo of a paintbrush being swished clean in an old coffee cup, I thought all must be well in the kitchen.
Then Kate came to the doorway with that dejected look on her face and no painting in her hand. Surprised, I asked what could be wrong, and this is the answer I got:
I tried, but, Mommy, I can't make it look like what I see in my head!
What could I say? She might accept some heartfelt compliments about her painting when she showed it to me, but she'd put into words that never-ending artists' dilemna. No matter how much we progress, no matter how skilled or creative we are, it's hard to imagine ever looking at a piece and saying to ourselves, "Wow! That looks exactly the way I pictured it in my imagination!" Okay, so you might argue that the masters of art, the Michaelangelo's and the DaVinci's and the Ansel Adams', must surely have been exceptions to this rule. I humbly beg to differ. I imagine the masters have many more moments of satisfaction and pride in their works, but I also imagine they have that same refrain running through their minds no matter how amazing the finished piece is--
I tried, and I got close, BUT it still doesn't look like what I pictured in my head.
Here's another for what it's worth tidbit from me. I imagine part of the artistic drive is fueled by the need to keep trying until we "get it right," i.e. get the piece we've created with our hands to look the way we envisioned it in our heads. . . and if that ever actually happened, we would have no reason to create again.
So, what did I tell my Katie? Welcome to the world of being an artist. We all have the very same problem, this trying to make what we make look like what we see in our head. We can get better every time we try, but not many of us ever get it perfect. What we do is keep trying and keep finding some satisfaction in getting better.
And with that in mind, I hope she never gets so good that she thinks her creation looks exactly like what she pictures in her imagination. . .because then she might lose the fire that fuels that imagination.
P.S. When I did see her picture, I literally gasped. Understand, I know I see her creations through a mommy's eyes, but WOW. She told me that she couldn't get the Eiffel Tower the way she wanted, that she thought this picture looked like the city in Paris ought to look, and that she decided to just make "the city." I should take a better picture of it in the daylight, because the heavy black sky looks like velvet studded with the delicate moon and stars. The tables and chairs are what do it for me, though-- such simple lines to capture the feel of the street cafe.