Sunday, April 30, 2006

Weirdos and Freaks

It's been a good while since I inflicted a meme on yous guys and this seems like a good day to do so. Cool Colleen tagged me with this one last week. In it, you're supposed to list 6 weird things about yourself. Some may find it hard to come up with 6. Me, like Miss Bates in 'Emma', I find it hard to limit myself to 6. I've always considered myself a bit of a weirdo.

1) I can't go a morning without showering. Well, I can, I mean I won't literally die, I just start to feel that I am absolutely crawling with mites, fleas, and those hairy centipedes, if I am up more than an hour or so without lathering up. I do not backpack. Ever. Well, I did once and we can just say how very much I love Charles to have agreed to it. Even if I'm really, really sick, I somehow manage to stagger to the shower.

2) I have a horrible memory for things like movies and books that I've read. This includes mystery books. I have a library of them and can read them over and over and still get to figure out who done it.

3) I have a ridiculous time asking for help because I don't want to bother or inconvenience someone. It is a sign of how much I trust someone to ask for real assistance, like a ride somewhere. Charles and my parents are pretty much the only ones in the world that I'd ask to help me out in a real pinch. And I hate to do that. Even 'little help' is tough. Ask the nurses. They usually have to lie in wait to go in to assist me with a procedure, like draining an abscess.

4) I really, REALLY hate talking on the phone. I also do small talk extremely poorly. As a result, I find myself saying complete boners. Very often. Please bear this in mind should we meet. It goes without saying that I'm quite the introvert and, shall we say, rather the social phobic?

5) I am completely bug phobic but can't bring myself to kill them. Unless they are of the blood sucking variety, of course. All others must be captured and released OR fearless Charles must deal with them. If necessary and Charles is not available, they are imprisoned under an upturned cup and await his arrival. Sadly, Charles has no problem dispatching the horrid creepy-crawlies as they cling to the walls. As a result there can be found bits of smeary bug guts, often with a spare leg, here and there on the walls. It takes a stiff drink for me to go and, erm, remove the evidence, armed with spray and paper towels.

6) I took Jimmy Carter's energy conservation to heart and seem to spend huge amounts of time turning off lights. Yes, we can afford the extra lights on, but I have a hard time wasting the energy of a light bulb.

7) As I've said over and over, there is a right way to load a dishwasher, dammit!

8) I count. Everything. Steps to walk to the other room. Tiles in the hall. Seconds it takes to empty my bladder. Stairs in my house. The last one is odd as I often count the wrong # of steps. There are 14. Yet it's kind of common to come up with #13 or #15. Either the stairs are fluid in their reality or I am a rather shitty counter.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Guess I Don't Have To Resort To Crime

Just last post, I was grousing about neeeeeeding hardy blackberries. I'd found 2 varieties in a plant catalogue last year and ordered them, but so had every other person in the upper Midwest. I received a polite note from the company explaining that they were growing them as fast as they could, but there's only so much one can do with a being that requires sun, fertilizer, water, and time. They assured me that they had people roaming the rows of baby hardy blackberries cajoling them and playing salsa music in an effort to hurry the process, but I'd just have to be patient. Maybe I'd get them in the fall (but not bloody likely, lady, given even the birds and probably the deer were wanting some of this action). They hoped by spring '06 I'd get my cut, but no promises. I was put 'on the waiting list'. Becoming desperate a few days ago, I mulled over pilfering someone else's crop, the problem being I had no idea who that might be. I haven't the vaguest idea how to hack into the company's system and don't know anyone who'd put me in touch with a nice geek who'd do it in exchange for a berry pie and a jar of jam in the future.

As I got out of the car, Monday, the very day of posting that little whine, I noticed a small package, sitting on the trash can in the garage, by the kitchen door. Just sitting. Abandoned. Swinging its legs, looking a bit thirsty.

I tucked it under my arm, trotted inside to deal with dog, cat, kids, and general mayhem, and plopped it on the counter with the rest of the mess.

Well, of course, you know what was inside. And there they sit, now, by the sink, getting lots of drinkies and talkies. My own little trio of 'Jim' and 'Jan'. They are supposed to fruit this year, by gum, bear from June until frost (about mid October, here 'bouts), and send you into positive raptures with their sweet, sweet berry flavor. We'll see. I'm just excited. It is also easing my tortured little mind a bit knowing that if these turn out to be as invasive as the blackberries from the Pacific Northwest, well, I'm not the only one who released them into the wild. And I'd rather fight something that I can turn into pie than something that just spreads seeds with the wind and jabs you in the foot, arm, and eye. (Hear that, thistles?)

I'll leave you with a few more pictures:

Here we have the Easter Weekend bonfire, because what better to do on a gorgeous spring day than to burn shit in a fire? We roasted brats and marshmallows later and ate on the deck, huddled in sweatshirts. But, no bugs!

Mad-kitty sits on her favorite perch, draped between the back of the chair and your (in this case Charles's) shoulders. She is not in my good graces today as she managed to terrorize my hibiscus by knocking the whole pot and plant off the table and onto the couch. The pot, I might add that out weighed her by about 5 fold and was far from the edge of the table. The plant is alive but shaken, literally. The loft is a freakin' disaster. The bad kitty is not sorry. Obviously the 'keys' incident was just the first episode in what may be a long string of retaliatory strikes.

Finally, here are some shots from the deck out the back taken 2 weeks ago. Now, It's all green leaves:

Pictures for you
To the West.

Pictures for you Pictures for you To the North.

Now I'm off to vacuum.


Monday, April 24, 2006


The plant lust is firm upon me.

I think I need more grapes. Lots more grapes. Say, at least 2 of each that grow in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. Hmmm. That may equal about 6 plants, max. Note to self: Look into this. STAT. Must have grapes. And blackberries. Must plant hardy blackberries. Ordered them last year, but due to all the other Northern gardeners wanting the same thing, lost out. Apparently these and these are on back order from last year, although they may come in this spring. Must find another dealer, erm, supplier. Either that or track down the others who actually got some of these and pilfer from their yards. Note to self: Look into assembling head-to-foot black garb, with ski-mask for Operation: Worthy Righting of a Grievous Wrong.

And remember the recent snip-snip of the Furry Ones? Remember how I feared reprisals once they were back in full stride? Yeah. I was right to worry. Last Thursday, during the weekly roaming through the house prior to vacuuming, I was picking up all the crap that descends to the floor, under the influence of children and gravity. I bent down to retrieve a bunch of plastic grapes that I spied trying to hide under our bed. (Again with the grapes; it's a sign, I tell you.) These had apparently migrated from the pile of kitchen toys in the basement play room along with a plastic potato chip, searching for a better life, maybe with an eye to starting their own survivalist compound. As I was already down on the floor, I decided to see if there were any stray socks or what-have-you further under the bed. Yes. There were several. And a very large set of keys. Charles's main set, to be precise, the one with car, house, and school keys. Thing weighs about 1/4 lb and doesn't fit into most pockets. It is also not endowed with the means to crawl, hop, or roll across a carpet and waaaaay under a bed. Precisely in the middle of waaaaay under a bed. Nope. One or the other, (or both) pets had moved the keys from the top of his dresser to waaaaaaaaaaay under the bed, where they would have languished for months, had I not gotten on my belly and looked beneath, doing the sock round-up, brought on by the skulking grapes.

Taking notes, Leigh-Ann?

It was a completely glorious weekend. In the spirit of trying to pack in as much family time before the starting of the Great Pursuit of The Advanced Degree and Spring Saturday Soccer, we headed out to a lake and took the kids fishing. We caught a tree branch and 2 rocks, each resulting in the loss of hooks, weights, bobber, and bait. The brightly colored bobbers all remained in place (one up high in the tree, two in the water, snagged on the rocks), taunting us, until we gave up and left the scene. Sara was thrilled. Colin, who has actually caught fish on prior fishing trips, was not. Still, the first picnic lunch was had. Sadly, the bathrooms were closed for the 'season'. Good for bladder control training.

Finally, my favorite church message board writer seems to be back with this little gem: This Blood's For You! Love, Jesus. Much better than the months of phrases, like: Come in for a faith lift and God answers prayer-mail.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Free At Last

Yesterday, I emancipated myself.

I'd been thinking about doing it for years and years and yesterday, something snapped and I did it.

I decided I am no longer seeing drug reps in clinic.

A small thing? Yes. Will it annoy our staff? Probably. Especially because yesterday they scheduled 3 lunches with this one rep, the one in the camel coat. The one I've caught in a blatant lie. You could say he was the straw who broke this camel's back.

All this goes to the way-back days of training. Initially, in med school, I loved them and their free pens and occasional stethoscope clip-on label, as they stood at the lunch table before each day's noon conference. Plates and cups and napkins blazoned with the drug-du-jour. Sometimes, there'd be a full blown conference that the campus would hold and many, many reps would come. This is where they really shone. Each set up a booth to 'educate' us on the latest and greatest. Each booth had all sorts of freebees like beach towels, vinyl tote bags, and flip-flops, all with the drug name. Always there were vats of candy and stacks of shiny pamphlets. Sometimes there is something of real educational use, such as a pocket reference manual. They are always friendly and immaculately dressed, and make me feel dowdier. Most look rather plastic, but some seem like real people when in their roles. To a person, they act like they 'love' us. They make us feel learned and important and so very, very cool. Sort of like I imagine it is with groupies. Honestly, this has always creeped me out.

As I am a greedy being at heart, I loved the free plastic models of drippy noses and handfuls of tootsie rolls (which I don't even like) and, best of all, those mugs adorned with the names of antihypertensive meds, or better yet, something 'naughty', like an erectile dysfunction drug. I especially loved them when we were impoverished students and residents. Those advertising mugs went in our cupboards in our crappy apartments, we sipped our morning coffee from them.

I'm not stupid. I know the impact of advertising. It is everywhere, even in our most respected journals, I'd guess at least 1/2 of the pages are glossy ad pages.

I'd soothe my soul: "I read the literature and base all my prescribing choices on The Evidence," I'd say. I'd try to do this, but when you're running flat out, trying to care for as many as possible, and trying hard not to A) kill anyone and B) not to miss anything, thumbing through the literature isn't always handy. So you pick the drug from the class of drugs you want to use, that you are most familiar with. I'd be lying if the word staring at me from my coffee mug that morning didn't have a bit of influence on what brand was at the front of my mind.

Now, we come to the sample closet. Pretty much all offices have them, they were even in the resident's clinic of the program where I trained, the program, I might add, led by the guy (that's him in the picture to the right) who was so concerned with the influence of drug companies on our forming psyche and on the prescribing practices of his colleagues, that he'd banned all drug company sponsored resident lunches (the program provided lunch if you showed up to daily noon conference, and we all showed up, by God.) and ridiculed you if you showed up with a drug-name blazoned bag or watch. Being one of the Really Big infectious disease gurus in, well, the world, his opinion did matter. (Ask any provider if they know what the Sanford Guide is and chances are they'll pull it out of their pocket.)

So, under his influence, I started to question my acceptance of the goodies. After residency, now in private practice (and after that disastrous year in horrible Bellingham), I was lucky enough to stay on with a group under the Providence umbrella, attached to the hospital where I trained. As managed care was, well, ubiquitous, keeping drug costs down was key. Generics are cheaper. Generics, by nature of being around longer, (hence the loss of the patent and the ability of other companies to make these drugs cheaper), are also generally more of a known quantity. I like this in a drug. I don't like surprises, like finding the Great New Thing is actually linked to an excess of nose hair, loss of toenails, or death. Especially death. I'm also extremely concerned about the over use of what are termed 'broad spectrum' antibiotics (the really expensive ones that kill pretty much everything) when a nice, narrow spectrum drug will do, and do it better and cheaper, even if not sexier.

The sample closet contains all the samples that the reps drop off, by the rolling suitcase-full, for us to dispense, for free. They are never generic. They are almost exclusively costly. They are usually very, very new. Sounds great, right? Free drugs. Free drugs for your patients, especially the ones with no prescription coverage. The downside? This gets you used to using these drugs when you pull out your prescription pad and choose which drug to write for. Plus, there's no pharmacist checking for problems with drug interactions or forgotten allergies, so there's a small bit of extra risk. Still, seemed worth it for the free drugs. As I was leaving to come out here, our clinic was exploring using stock supplies of generics in our sample closets for our patients, in place of the expensive, new samples, so we'd grab a course of $2 amoxicillin in place of a not-more-effective but $100 more expensive med. I don't know what became of it, but Buffaloons would. She and I went through all this together, pretty much from med school until I moved out here. She's still with the clinic.

Where I am, now, in the glamorous strip-mall, I've found that many of the drug reps passed us by, as we are a few miles away from the main hospital campus and we don't do continuity care. My samples dwindled. I was very concerned for quite a while, and we would even call the reps and ask them to come by, preferably on a day that J, our nurse practitioner was there. He didn't mind chatting with the reps and I've always hated it; feeling like a whore. Then, I realized last week, that I wasn't wasting as much time running to the sample closet and bagging drugs for patients to take. I was writing for generics whenever possible, even if the expensive sample was there, as I had gotten out of the habit.

It was like waking up and finding the small, annoying, but what you thought was an inevitable chain around your finger was gone, and, by God, it felt so liberating!

So, yesterday, when the camel-coat drug rep whom I despise was here, wanting to talk to me, I decided that the only one who was making me do that was me! And, by gum, I'd not be doing that anymore! I turned down his samples (one an antibiotic that is now a much cheaper generic, and one, another horrendously expensive antibiotic with a very broad spectrum that has a very small place in my practice) and vowed I'd never go back.

I sent a message out to our entire staff and practice director that I was no longer seeing any reps, ever. I would be using essentially nothing from the sample closet. I threw out every pen and note pad in my office and on my person. I even ripped the drug names off the notes on my bulletin board and threw out the mouse pad with the constipation drug on it. Actually, one of the nurses, sensing the importance of this moment, cut the name off the pad, so I'd at least have a bit of a mouse pad, but then I decided that the technicolor flower would ever be associated with the drug name, and I got rid of the whole thing. Plus, the mouse works fine without the pad.

This weekend, I'll splurge on a stack of notepads and a new mouse pad, for around $4.79.

I think I can afford it.

See, that's the thing. The money that is spent on getting us to prescribe these drugs is phenomenal and I just don't want to be part of it anymore.

Finally, Colin would like to share a joke with you-all:

Why didn't the cow go to the party?

She wasn't in the mooooood.


Ahhhhhhhhh, guess you had to be there. Can you tell we live in cow-country?


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I have absolutely no idea what to write about but feel the yen. Nothing monumental has happened in the last 24-48 hours, so that's rather refreshing.

Easter weekend was rather lovely. Charles, bless the heart of his small town, conservative school district, has both Good Friday and Easter Monday off. Coming from the a-religious Northwest, I still chuckle over this. The weather was drop dead gorgeous until Sunday, when it pissed all over us like a drunk on a beer bender. I don't think it's ever been acceptable outside egg-hunting weather since we moved out here in 2000. We don't even bother anymore, blocking off the basement as the official Easter Bunny drop zone, to keep the dog out. At least this year it didn't snow.

The kids scored pounds of candy and spent a happy hour coloring eggs, as the previous post's photo attested. My favorite was when Colin, drizzling orange dye over a mostly green egg exclaimed, "Mom! Lungs! I made lungs!" Yup. Orange lungs on a green egg. I'm so proud of my little anatomist. (I took a picture but it's all fuzzy. Sorry. You will just have to use your imagination: Left and right lungs complete with bronchi and trachea in the middle.)

Breakfast was the annual making of the Cinnabons. Also homemade bagels, fresh pineapple, and dyed eggs, with or with out anatomic detailing. Dinner was ham, asparagus, these potatoes, which are to literally die for, and a nice, green salad to try to balance things out a bit. I did show restraint and didn't make rolls to boot. I though 3 batches of baked goods through the bread machine was a bit much in 24 hours.

So; lovely, sunny weather but too early to plant more than trees. What to do??? Ah. The veggie patch. Last year, I reclaimed an extra 100-150 square feet of meadow as garden, tilled the daylights out of it, planted it, and mulched deeply. Sadly, the roots of the prairie grasses run deep. Or at least deeper than the tines of the tiller. By early July, all sorts of prairie was competing with the cantaloupe and cucumbers, like Jaws, rising from the depths.

This year, I've instigated Phase II, meaning that I am hand spading up the whole damn plot and painstakingly sifting through it all to get the grass roots and dandelions and all. Ow, ow, ow. And Ow. If this doesn't cut down on the weeds by at least 50%, I'm throwing in the towel and raising organic dandelion greens for the restaurant market. I've still got about 1/3 of the area to go. I've also become personally acquainted with each and every earthworm in the garden. If soil health can be gauged by the number of worms per square foot, mine is in the pink.

I also got my first 'farmers sunburn'. I'd call it a 'tan', except I don't tan, so I guess that means I don't have to worry too much about the ridiculous coloring resulting from gardening in short sleeves and garden gloves, and short-alls with ankle socks.

So, over the next 3 weeks until 'last frost', I need to finish the spading, then till in lots of compost, mulch it, and rebuild the walls that fell with the heaving of the soil and we're in business.

Let the battle begin!

We've added another handful of trees, thanks to Home Depot and their sapling sale. 3 more red maples and a redbud at $10 a piece and, finally, a lovely weeping cherry (Charles's choice) at the start of the path, near the road. In about 20 years, it'll be just lovely around here.

Oh! and we are starting to mull over having grapes! On a whim, I bought 2 concord grape vines to plant along the fence that borders part of what was the side horse pasture. I have this thought of planting various grapes all along the fence (which runs about 200 meters) that people can just walk out and pick as they stroll around the yard. Sort of an outdoor buffet.

Molly-dog has been a constant companion through all this and has tried to help with the digging (Bad dog! Nooooo! Baaaaad Dog!) and disposal of various plant stuffs that I eject from the garden. Her favorite being long, muddy dandelion roots, which she views as nature's candy. Bleh.

So that's the sum total of the weekend.

3 hour 'leadership' meeting tonight after work. Oh joy.

Happy Tuesday.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Wishing you a perfect spring day and your share of the chocolate and pretty eggs.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Ode to the Motorcycle Guy


We watched you with avid interest,
in your dress shirt and khakis,
backward baseball cap and leather shoes.

Down the freeway you flew,
shirt bellowing in the wind,
eyes intent on the horizon,
late for work.

How else to explain it?
No coat, no change of clothes,
you mustn't have checked the weather radar,
too late to go back and get the car.

In our own warm, dry van,
we rooted for you as we all headed toward the low, black clouds.
"Maybe he'll make it. There's a small break in the clouds."
A slim window, down pour on either side.

But then, the tanker ahead of all of us stalled at the light.
No room to pass, the storm descends, 5 minutes is all you'd have needed;
We agree we've never seen raindrops this big.

Your face fixed in a grimace, shoulders above your ears,
you take the off ramp to your destination as a mall employee,
maybe at Sears.

Poor, drowned rat of a motorcycle guy.
It's going to be a long, long day for you at work.
Maybe they're having a shirt sale.

And finally, a correction:

I mistakenly reported that Charles was accepted into the #3 school in the nation for his program. I lied.

It's #1.

In your face, Harvard!


Thursday, April 13, 2006



*pant, pant, pant*



*blink, blink, blink*

There. Better.

Our Scene: The kitchen, lunchtime, today. A lovely warm, spring day. Lots of chirping of the birds, sunshine, flowers blooming. The sort of scene, were it in a movie, that would portend Something was about to Happen.

The phone rings.

Diana: "Hello?"

Charles: (Sounding a bit strange, dare we say 'strained'? Not quite himself at any rate.) "Hi, Honey."

Diana: (Very suspicious) "What's up?"

Charles: "Guess who just called?"

Diana: "Ummmmm......ummmmmm.....mmmmm. No idea." Can't even come up with a wise-ass guess.

Charles: "U of W."

Diana: "............ No. ...... Really? ........ No. They didn't. They did?"

Charles: (sounding bewildered or befuddled or bemused or all 3) "They did."

Now, there's something I've kept from most of you. At least I don't think it's made it to the blog. See, when we moved out here from points West, looking for the life less crazed, Charles was thisclose to finishing his doctorate in education at Portland State University. He'd done all the course work, passed his comps and had his proposal for his dissertation accepted. His data was basically gathered. All he needed was to finish the last 100 or so pages of the monster, revise it, and successfully defend it. Probably about 6 months of work, all told. The plan was to finish it out here, communicate with his committee via the internet, and fly back to do his defense.

Well, his first job here was working as one of the district central office administrators in a job that basically required 60+ hour weeks. He learned a lot of law and a lot of politics. The last 2 months of it, he served as interim principal for one of the grade schools whose principal left, on top of it all. The second year, he changed jobs to become the middle school principal of a school in crisis. Let's just say he was very busy, shall we, and that the dissertation sat, unfinished. About 2 years or so ago, we moved, partly because he had his eye on transferring to the PhD program at U of Wisconsin in Madison, the #3 school in the country in his area of interest. Tuition is much cheaper if you are a Wisconsin resident. MUCH cheaper. Plus, we are Wisconsin folk. Liberal to a fault. We just don't fit in with all the nice republicans down in rural Illinois.

He applied to the program last year and was told he was #1 on the waiting list. Apparently no one who was accepted declined their spot, and we mulled over whether or not he should apply again this year. Figuring the odds were good that the #1 alternate would stand a chance the following year, he did re-apply this winter. And about a month ago, got the standard rejection letter.

OK. Fine. Done. He and I made our peace, he planned out how to get to where he wanted to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and so on. I secretly felt relieved, as with him working in Freeport and being a full time grad student in Madison for about 4 years, well, let's just say, he might as well move to Antarctica for all we'd see him. He was disappointed but relieved, too.

That's where the phone call comes in.

He's been offered a spot in their program. Once again, it's The #3 Program in the Nation. You don't turn that down.

So, now we're spinning. He has not formally accepted. The letter offering the spot is being mailed out as we speak. It may even be here tomorrow, the way the mail works around here. He needs to do this. The doors this opens are amazing. He's always, ever since he was a little undergraduate student in knickers and knee socks, wanted to go into politics. This places him in the state capital in a kick-ass program. We also realize that there's no way he can stay in the job he's in and do this, at least not without special dispensation, which probably won't happen. It also means the jobs he has been looking at aren't what he needs to look at and the ones he passed by, are suddenly up his alley.

Our placid little world is suddenly upside down and we're just reeling a bit. There's a lot to plan.



Saturday, April 08, 2006

Avarice and Greed

Sometimes, this is a Mommy-blog. Plus, I like the idea of writing something that may well embarass the shit out of my kids in, say, 5-10 years.

OK. Here's the deal. There are many paths of parenting. The one Charles and I have chosen is reasonably laid back with regard to some things. Things like potty-training. It'll happen in its own good time, we figure. Somewhere around the age of 2+1/2, we start telling ourselves that by the age of 3, surely, we'll be done with all diaperish things. As we pass the 3rd birthday, we start upping the praise for dry pants and using the little potty. As progress inches along, we start to gnash our teeth. "Please, please, oh-pretty-please-for-all-that's-good-in-the-world, use the potty, not your pants!!!"

Nothing doing.

When Colin passed the 3+1/2 year mark with no hope in sight, wondering if he would be wearing Sesame Street plastic pants to high school, we became desperate. (Many months pregnant with Sara at the time, I think it was the prospect of having 2 kids in diapers that did it.)

We made a stop at Toys-R-Us.

"Colin!" We enthused. "Every time you poop in the potty, you will get one of these!!!!!" We waved a shiny miniature car, with real working doors of the Hot Wheels ilk, in front of his eyes. Sure enough, within several more weeks, he was poop-trained and several cars richer, and we had graduated from plastic pants to cotton ones with Spiderman on them.

Oh, the joy! The glee! We nearly wet ourselves. No stocking up on Depends for him for college.

Sara, sadly, has followed suit. Yes, she's been pee-trained for months, but not so with the other variety. She's done it, maybe 2 times, total. In 4 months. Or more.

Today, I reached my limit and, in the middle of Borders Books, made my decision. "Pssst. Charles. I'm looking for a bribe for Sara to poop in the potty." (See what parenthood reduces you to? Take a warning.) Charles picks out a "magic" sponge paint book set thingie. (Don't ask me. Something about using the paints to uncover the hidden picture on each page. Whatever.) Perfect. While waiting in line, I grab a box of "Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans", which if you are familiar with Harry Potter come in all sorts of cool flavors and some downright wretched ones, too. Glancing at the back, I duly note that included in the flavors are, indeed, ones for "vomit, ear wax and pepper" Wisely, I put them back and choose a small box of fruit flavor Jelly Belly beans. Somehow I don't think a vomit flavored treat will go very far in enticing the lass to use the can and not her drawers.

After lunch, I decide to plant the seed.

"Sara! Look! A paint set! The next time you poop in the potty, you get the paint set!!! And EVERY TIME you poop in the potty, you get a jelly bean!!!!!"

"OK, Mommy."

She pees.

"Can you just try to poop in the potty? You'll get the paint set! And a jelly bean!''


She shuts the door.

Minutes later, I hear screeches of greed-laced glee.

Mission accomplished.

Why, oh why couldn't you do that months and months ago when we asked and asked until we were blue in the face?

I laughed maniacally. "I'm So Proud, honey. So PROUD!"

We giggled and praised all through her pre-nap story.

Yes, it's too soon to buy the Dora The Explorer cotton underpants, but with the jelly beans as a continued bribe, maybe before she's 4, we'll be out of the plastic for good. We've got 7 months till then.

You've gotta have your dreams.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Missing, Musing, Mourning

Well, now I'm just vaguely sad and left musing, yet again, on this strange community we have here. See, Christine has put the 'closed' sign up on her blog.

I know Cagey and Leigh-Ann read her. Lots of others do, too. In fact, if I hadn't been reading Christine, I wouldn't have found Cagey, (who left a completely hysterical comment on Christine's blog that day) and without finding that one post of Cagey's, I wouldn't have found Rozanne (as my fuzzy memory recalls, Rozanne sent Cagey some chocolate, hence the mentioning in the post and my following back to find that, lo and behold, Rozanne is from my home town.) who led to Jamie and so on and so on and so on.

So I feel indebted to Christine for introducing me, so to speak, to some of my friends. But that's not why I feel a bit lost. There was something about her blog and I'm trying to put my finger on it. Help me out here, if you can.

See, initially when I started all this, my blogroll consisted of about a dozen "voyeuristic" blogs. Blogs I read religiously but rarely, if ever commented on. Sort of like reading a serial in a Victorian magazine. I liked the writing, was interested in their lives, but wouldn't have felt more than a "Hm. That's too bad," had they quit. Almost all of these have been culled with time. They've been replaced by friends, many of whom I will likely never meet, but whom I feel I can call on should I need them. For all of you I would drop things and have you over should you ever be in the neighborhood. (Speaking of which, Beth and Dana, did you get my e-mail answer to the one you sent a few weeks ago? I have the distinct feeling that yet another e-mail was dropped. If anyone e-mails me and doesn't hear back in a week, please throw a rock or something. I guarantee you it got lost, either coming or going.)

Chris's blog was different. She felt like a friend, even though had she been passing through, I likely wouldn't have invited her over as she didn't really know me from parsnips. Her take on things rang true. Plus, she's a vet and how cool is that? And funny. Again, I'm just trying to pin it down. Why her blog was in it's own category for me. Not friend, yet not just voyeur.

And now she's gone. Said her 'good-byes'. I imagine the site will go down soon. Typepad is a fee-for-blog service and I doubt she'll continue to pay to just keep it hanging there in space. In a few weeks, I'll remove her title from my blogroll as I'll feel that I don't want the reminder that she's gone, but for now, I'll go by every now and then, to look in the windows and see if she hasn't changed her mind about moving away.

So I guess I'm mourning a little, this loss of a never-friend, who felt like one.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Brought To You By Cagey and The Number 13

Alternately titled, "Cagey Asked For It, So Blame This Post On Her". I try to duck responsibility for things whenever possible.

So. When last we left our Hero (Charles) and the cause for 13 saplings on the front porch (me), it was Friday, lunchtime, and we were contemplating the actual work at hand. That being the planting of the 13.

"After lunch" was the unanimous consensus by Those Who Matter (the grown-ups). We'll feed the kids and ourselves and then everybody outside, including the dog. Not including the cat.

Food bolted, shovels grabbed (Sara with a red plastic sandbox shovel), I stand with hands on hips, eyes narrowed in classic 'survey the yard for proper plant placement'. Nope. Too much. Let's start small. The forsythia. That one I want in the corner of the front yard, by the road, visible from the study. I trot over and dig the hole, plant the bush, all done in about 10 minutes. Presto! Down to 12.

Hmmmmm. Marvelous Charles makes his willing presence known, having dealt with dog and children, shovel in hand. After more squinting on my part and eyebrow waggling, it is decided that the magnolia should go closer to the front of the house in a 'showoff' place. He starts to dig. I start a second hole for the maple, closer to the road. Ultimate hole placement being decided by where the closest patch of thistles are, figuring that a hole could serve more than one purpose, right? Efficiency, baby. Efficiency.

We had blocked one thing. See, in addition to the thistles, the damned plot of land that is our yard has an over abundance of rock. Basically, it's a large rock garden covered with 4-6" of soil. Trees can't grow in rock. To plant a tree, you must remove the rocks. A few hours later of solid digging and swearing, we had 4 more trees planted between the 2 of us. We'd dug several more holes, which had to be abandoned because under the hand sized rocks, there were boulders. Ain't going to be digging up no boulders. Nosiree.

Feeling dispirited and sore and having run out of swear words, we retreated indoors, occasionally glaring out the window.

Sunday morning, we decided to change our strategy as it became clear that a tree-strewn front yard was only going to happen with a backhoe and multiple dumptrucks full of topsoil. I'm not ruling it out, mind you, it's just not going to happen this year. Or next. We eyed the side pasture area, down by the path Charles keeps cut through the prairie grass around the perimeter. It's cloudy and a bit drizzly but not supposed to really rain for about 3-4 hours. The weather report said so. Lying bastards that they are.

The good news? We found non-rock infested places to plant. The bad news? It began to absolutely pour as soon as we had begun our respective holes. We got 3 planted before conceding defeat to the fractious gods of spring and dragging our sorry, muddy, drenched-to-the-skin-despite-3-layers-and-a-raincoat selves inside. Something about fools not having sense to come in out of the rain. We again spend the day glaring out the window, this time at the heavens rather than the ground. Still and all, though, there are 8 more trees in the yard than there were, and only 5 are left on the porch.

I've had 2 days to wonder what the next assault will bring. Locusts, I'm betting. Or maybe a freak blizzard. Toads from the sky? Nah. Toads wouldn't stop us. We could just nudge them out of the way with the shovels. Oh! Fire! Fire from an out of control field burn. That would do it, plus it would negate the previous days' work AND the financial outlay, turning the really good deal into a bust.

So. Fire it is.

Should I try to buy some used firefighter gear in the meantime? Do they make it kid-sized? It's no fun if your offspring isn't taking part in the joy of gardening with you. The whining in stereo of "I'm bored. Can I go iiiiiiiinnnnn? I'm cold and tiiiiiired. It's all daaaaaaark and I can't see where the holes are so I just fell in one and now my arm bends funny," lends a rhythm that makes the digging go faster.