Thursday, September 30, 2004

Gambling Update

Gambling Debt
Quick update on Ricky's gambling debt. I asked him about it tonight and he said that the boys were just joking with him and he doesn't owe them anything.

So I hope he learned several lessons from this episode. Time will tell.

Still can't get the image out of my head of 1950s bad boys rolling dice in the back alleys, leather jackets, white t-shirts with cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve, ducktails.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Essence of Teenage Boys

Essence of Teenage Boys
After school, Ron dropped the mail on the table and handed me a catalog. He had studied it as he slowly walked down the driveway and decided that I'd better throw it away, because this and this and this, pointing to specific pictures, was inappropriate. The catalog? Victoria's Secret.

Then after the normal uproar over homework (if it's not due tomorrow, it doesn't have to be done), they went to the girls soccer game at the high school. Home again, a little more study, a little more attitude. One boy is practicing his sarcasm (from the word sarka`zein - to tear flesh like dogs). So Steve and I played tag team working with the boys so neither one of us would wear out. Finally it is their bedtime and Rick looks at me tentatively, "Mom, I have a little problem at school."

Before school started this morning, he played Texas Hold 'Em, lost, then discovered the boys were playing for money. He has been forbidden to play poker, since we know that there is a gambling epidemic in the school system. Too many boys with too much time and too much money with too little supervision.

"How much, Ricky?"

Deer in headlight look. "More than five dollars."

"How much more?" I never did get a clear answer. "Who was playing?" He didn't want to say. "Isn't poker forbidden at school?" No answer.

His father told Ricky it was his problem so Ricky had to come up with the solution. Ricky offered two solutions: welsh on the bet or rat to the principal. Steve and I exchanged incredulous looks and explained to our oh-so-un-streetsmart son why those may not be good solutions. I then suggested to Ricky that he could pay it out of his allowance over the next few weeks.

"What?!!" slamming his open palms on the table, "That's MY money."

book recommendations

It's about time for my book club to choose books to read next year. I'm always on the prowl for good books. Does anyone have a recommendation? Fiction or non-fiction. New releases or old favorites. Any genre. I'm open to all ideas.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fall Garden

Fall Garden
It's been a while since I've written about my garden, because it's been a while since I've spent any time in it. I do miss it. It grounds me. This is true even though the pun is weak.

A month ago I wrote about the mid-summer doldrums in the garden. I solved some of the problem by filling clay pots with yellow, purple and white end-of-season, drastically-reduced-in-price annuals and strategically placed the pots in the bare spots. I also aggressively cut back many of the perennials. The pots are now lush with growth and the perennials sprouted fresh foliage.

The Autumn Joy, having provided structure in the earlier garden, is flush with dusty pink flowers. These are complemented by the simple dusty pink rays of mums with their yellow centers. The yellow is picked up by the Stella D'Oro daylilies amd moonbeam coreopsis putting on their final display. The last roses of summer are blooming, pink and cream, with a spicy fragrance. The toad lilies are still blooming although slightly past their peak. A few yellow rudbeckia and white cleomes have decided to continue their blooming. This is crowned by the sway of the blooming grasses. In a few weeks, this display will change as the foliage changes and seed pods add interest.

This has been a strange year, weather-wise and otherwise, so I'm not too surprised to see late spring plants blooming now - especially my foxglove and forget-me-nots.

Monday, September 27, 2004

My poem

My Poem
Here's my poem, written by an Aardvaark, based on my blog, my prize for winning the baby pool:

Earth Girl
She keeps an online journal where bits of her peek through
She has a loving husband and a teen-age boy ( X 2! )
She left behind her corporate job and the luxuries it afforded
To spend her days in other ways (for which she's been rewarded)
She likes to bake and cook and sew and always seems to think of others
Playing 'monster tag' in the dark, I know she's not your boring sort of mother!

She often tells us of her pond
And other things of which she's fond
Like sunrise and the morning dew,

Lilies, butterflies, blackbirds, cherries
Fireflies, iris, fresh blueberries
These are just to name a few

The way she writes of growing things
Displays the inner joy they bring
Creation in its verdant glory
And as they grow up all around
You sense with sight and smell and sound
The things she tells of in her stories

I'm glad she lets us tag along to see the world through eyes so kind
When Earth Girl's in her garden, contentment isn't far behind.
// posted by LittleA

My husband smiled when he read it and then said, "I used to write you poetry." I nodded. He did..when we were dating. I suspect I shall get another one soon.

I think LittleA hit it pretty close, except for the sewing part. I have a recessive craft gene and haven't sewn since high school. Ever since I left the corporate world, getting my sewing machine fixed has been on my To Do list but it has never Been Done.

While I left behind my corporate job, it was not of my choosing. I was ignobly, unjustly kicked out on my kiester. The best thing that ever happened to me.

And the monster tag reference said as much about LittleA as Earth Girl. I suspect the idea of running around in the dark, with the moonshadows of trees being "safe", appeals to his sense of childlike fun. That is a good thing and I wish it on all of you, my three readers.

So those of you who know me well - 20, 30, 40, or 50+ years - can you add a verse or two to round out this portrait?

Friday, September 24, 2004


This is National Dog Week, so I'm going to honor one of my favorite dogs ever - Beauregard. Goofy. I can't deny that Beau was a supremely, exquisitely goofy dog. Anyone who spent time with Beau used that term - goofy. I prefer the term "character." Beau was a character and he had character.

Beau was a mixed breed with a lot of blue tic hound dog in him. In fact, this picture looks a lot like Beau. He was strong and muscular - cut like a body builder. His coat glistened and he had that special light in his eyes.

He had free rein of the woods, swamp, and fields around our house. He never ventured into the road or other people's property, preferring his solitary roaming. I once saw him sail over a high fence from a stand still, gracefully touching the fence with all four paws, kissing it for balance.

One of his favorite sports was counting coup with groundhogs and opossums. Once he cornered a bobcat, intending to engage in his favorite sport. Not a scratch on him, but his howling and the cat’s snarling woke us up to investigate.

In his old age, his sport of choice was frog hunting. He would spend hours and hours circling the pond, knee deep in water with his white tipped tail straight up and nose down. The frogs joined in the game, jumping over his back as he passed by them. At the splash, he would look over at the sound, with no idea what it was.

Of course, he treed raccoons his whole life. Once he had three raccoons treed- one in each of the three wild cherry trees next to the shop.

My father, when slowed down by heart failure, would sit with Beau next to our pond, patting his head and telling Beau in a soft voice, "I know what your mother was and I know what that makes you." Beau would thump his tail in ecstasy.

He had distinctive barks for friend or foe, animal or human, wanting out, wanting in, and of course for the hunt. But unlike most hound dogs, he did not howl all night long, only for a purpose.

He was the runt of the litter and would quiver at loud noises or around people - after barking like crazy. Once he hid under the truck hood, scared of thunder. We never could figure out how he got 70 pounds of dog up through the wheel well and under the hood.

He was gun shy too. My husband was shooting mice with .22 shot shells. Beau came and hid by him, not knowing that he had the gun. Of course, standing next to the shooter may be an indication of how smart he was.

He finally grew old, suffering greatly and we said goodbye to him. Even the vet cried as she put him to sleep. Several weeks later, we received notice of her significant memorial gift to Purdue University in his memory.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I won!

I won the baby pool!
And I am waiting for my poem. Another great reason for you to daily check out the Little Aardarks. Congratulations, Lenise. Jordana, I hope I don't win your pool since my weight guess was very high.

Say a prayer for the Aardvarks, especially Mrs. A as she has taken on the care of her ailing mother. We just moved Mom into the "yellow retirement apartments" and I am so thankful that she is in good health, sound mind, kind heart, and witty mouth.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Cross Gender Dressing Day
Today is designated Cross Gender Dressing Day at the high school, part of the silliness of homecoming week. One son wanted nothing to do with it, rolling his eyes in disdain; his twin thought it would be great fun to wear a sports bra stuffed with kleenex. We absolutely refused to let him do it. I know, I know, teenage boys dressed up in drag when I was in high school for huge laughs, but it's a different world today.

On the way out of the house, though, he did grab my brightly flowered baseball cap. I let him wear it.

I wonder if some misunderstood transgender student will contact the ACLU and sue the school?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Grape Juice

What's in your freezer?
One third of my freezer is very colorful. Red and blue and purple. Cherries and blueberries and concentrated grape juice. Oh and two gallon freezer bags of blackberries. The Montmorency cherries came pitted and lightly sugared in a large tub from the Southside farmer's market and all I had to do was separate it into freezer bags. The Blue Ray blueberries were picked by the boys and I, cleaned, individually frozen on cookie sheets and bagged. The Concord grapes came from my in-laws and I spent Sunday afternoon cleaning them, slowly cooking the grapes, straining them, reducing the juice into a concentrate, adding a little sugar and pouring into freezer boxes. The blackberries are from my bushes, prepared the same as blueberries.

Since leaving the corporate world, I've started preserving fruit. Berries from the grocery store in winter - whether fresh or frozen - are totally unsatisfactory compared to the fruit I freeze. Even the teenage boys notice the difference. And Welch's grape juice tastes like colored sugar water compared to the intense grape flavor produced from boiling down your own grapes.

I know the same is true of vegetables and perhaps next year I'll venture into corn and green beans. There is no way to cost justify the effort. A can or bag of corn from the store is less expensive than home-grown and preserved even without considering labor. The only reason to do this is the taste. And the satisfaction of admiring your freezer contents.

Friday, September 10, 2004

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent
Book club was at my house this morning and we were underwhelmed with this book. Easy read, but odd structure. And the characters were confusing so it was hard to empathize with them. Next month, I'm leading the discussion on the book I suggested, "Good King Harry." I loved it, but it is different from the other books we read. I'm not sure everyone will be willing to slog through the bloody war scenes.

So my house appears clean. Only I know about the very tall stack of papers beside my bed and the magazines stacked next to it. Oh and the laundry room is piled high. Wish Mrs. Aardvaark was here to sort and wash those clothes. (Scroll down to the "Soundtrack" entry.) I sat on the couch during book club, looking east through the bay window. Sunshine was trying to stream through it but the window attracts spiders. I didn't have time to wash the windows when I was cleaning, so I swiped the duster across the outside windows. I was dismayed to see that my efforts resulted in smears. I decided to ignore it and enjoy my women friends and the discussion.

Why didn't I have time to clean? I recently accepted a freelance job requiring an intensive amount of work over four weeks. And I am going to Mom's next week for five days to help her with the final packing and move. Actually all five of her kids are helping plus one spouse. And grapes and more grapes and even more grapes will be delivered by my in-laws this weekend, so I have to work in some jelly/juice making before I leave.

So much for all those projects I was saving until Fall when I would have lots of time with the kids in school.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

End of Summer
We closed the pool yesterday. There will still be days we wished it was open, but we have too many trees nearby and it is hard to keep it clean. The walnut tree has been depositing its tiny leaves for several weeks now.

As we sat on the back deck, it sounded like a car was crunching down our gravel drive. Then the sky turned black with a flock of grackles.

The Autumn Joy and Sweet Autumn clematis are in bloom. The tomatoes look worse for wear. In the meadow, the butterfly weed pods are bursting open and the wild asters are in bloom.

The sky is bluer than it was a few weeks ago.

The males in the house leave every morning for school.

I don't need a calendar. Fall is here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Walking in the Rain

Walking in the Rain
Steve walks at least a mile every night. I join him about once a week. Several days ago, it struck me that it was very foolish not to walk with him every night. Besides the obvious health benefits, I enjoy his company. Night walks are intimate; our conversations or companionable silences are deeper than during the day.

Tonight it was raining during our walk, a soft gentle rain at the end of a hot day. The rain and the darkness seemed to intensify smells. The fragrance of our
Sweet Autumn clematis that drapes over the meadow fence was the most enjoyable. The smells that did NOT need to be intensified were wet dog (Samson) and skunk.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

3(ER) + Exploding Brakes = My Week

As I pulled up to the stop sign on the way to Bible Study last Tuesday, loud metallic clangs came from the left front of my car. I limped the half block to church; found a ride home; and had the car towed to the garage. Their report: Your left front brake rotor exploded. There was no warning. I'm just glad it happened when and where it did. In two weeks I'll be traveling 600 miles to Mom's house on superslabs. The almost $800 bill (brakes, door bushings and short in the electric locks) wasn't so good.

Then Thursday afternoon, I decided to cut down the thistles in the meadow before they went to seed. I love the purple flowers but I know they will take over if I'm not diligent. Samson, our yellow lab, was romping around the meadow and ran right into the thistle I was cutting. I ducked my head to minimize damage, but part of the thistle went into my eye. Friday morning it was still there, so I drove to the ER. They took out a small piece but 12 hours later it was getting worse. So back to the ER to finish the job. The eye is fine now.

Then this morning, we made another trip to the ER with Ricky who has an ear infection. Antibiotics and pain medicine will cure him quickly.

Not from my parents who weren't even nominally superstitious, but somewhere I heard that bad things come in threes. I've always wondered when you start and stop counting. And once you hit three, do you start counting again?

No other word for it but slaughter
There is nothing I can write to address this horror. Mark Steyn addresses the failure of the print media to address this situation, but I saw a grieving mother knocked a TV camera aside.

Link via Instapundit.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Gingerbread Pancakes

"Next time, double the recipe"
"Let's have this more often"
"Exactamentally what Dad said."

Thanks to Jordana for a new recipe that was a hit in our house. Being one who cannot make a recipe as written, I added raisins.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Caterpillars at Last!
For five years, I have been letting milkweeds, THE favorite food of monarch butterfly caterpillars, grow along the pond, but I've not attracted any until this year. I just discovered two caterpillars! I've been tempted to clean up the growth because the pond is smack dab in the middle of our front lawn (though separated from the road by a small woods and the meadow. I'm glad I didn't do anything more than cut back brambles, goldenrod and other unwanted verge vegetation. Of course, the muskrat helps control the vegetation.

Student Council

Don't Give Up
Ricky's on Student Council for Carroll Freshman Campus. This is something he has wanted for so long - he's very social, loves to have fun, likes to make plans, and is interested in politics (usually expressed in political ranting). He tried in 6th, 7th and 8th grade and didn't make it. Finally! The first meeting was this morning and I can't wait to find out how it went. It sounds like a good group of kids and, as all parents know, peer groups are so critical for teenagers. So Student Council and Show Choir are two good activities for this son.

His twin, Ron, is struggling to find his place. He's interested in the baseball team, but I'm not sure he understands how competitive it is. Most of the high school players have been on travel teams and have devoted more effort to the sport. He is enjoying his martial arts class and has become obsessed with the Armed Forces. It started with 9/11 and then the coals were fanned after doing a report on D-Day last year. He has been watching a lot of WW2 programs, including the final segment of Band of Brothers last night. He plans to join the Army after high school, even talking about the program where he can take basic training between his junior and senior year. I'm not so sure this stubborn, authority-challenging son will do well in the Army, but it might be a good thing. I sure have mixed emotions - pride for his thought process and fear as a mother.

Three years ago, God gave me this verse for my sons:
{For I am} confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

So I continue to lift them in prayer, but with faith that God knows the desires of this mother's heart for her sons and will continue to work in these boys.