Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Have a Green Pinkie

After working in the garden the other day, staking up the tomato plants, I note that I do not have a green thumb. All my other fingers were definitely green, though...

I'm starting to become convinced that tomato plants will continue to grow until they reach the ground... and by staking them up, I'm just making them spread more. Anyone know if there's any truth to that notion?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Interesting New Developments

A view from the proposed new property line. A hammock over there, a wading pool there, a garden of our own over here... Oh, hi, kitty.

A very interesting letter showed up in my mailbox on Monday. The Village at Winona, which runs the shops just down the street, and owns the land just behind our house, is offering to sell the latter, and would I be interested in a slice?

Would I be interested?

Is a kitten interested in dangling string?

Does a dog want a piece of bacon?

The odd bit about this deal is that it's all or nothing — all nine surrounding property owners have to buy all 12 lots. At the price mentioned — and, since I don't have to by a minivan — I can afford one; by default, the one connecting to the back of my property. The Volkers registered their positive interest, too. I'm eager — and anxious — to find out what the rest of my neighbors decide. (To spur us on to the correct decision, the letter included an oblique mention of an apartment block as the alternative.)

Odder yet is the fact that this isn't the first time the surrounding owners have had a chance to own this property. I asked how the property came to be owned by The Village, and Brent told me the history:

The McKee Courts area was originally the location of rocque and tennis courts and was owned by the Winona Assembly. (Hence the street names “Court” and “Tennis”). The Assembly removed the courts and built a 48 room single story motel, McKee Courts, on the property in the 1950’s. Grace Schools assumed all assets and liabilities of the Assembly in 1968 of which McKee was one. The motel was used as men’s dormitory space until The Village acquired all of the old Assembly property from Grace which included McKee. At that time we asked all adjacent property owners to share in the cost of demolishing the structure and we would give them the land in a plan similar to the one currently proposed. All owners, except one, refused to participate so The Village removed the structure, graded, seeded, etc. which leads us to today.

It's a bit discouraging that all but one refused the plan back then. Hopefully, the neighbors that live here now will see the value in having the land. Personally? I can't wait. A garden, a hammock, a wading pool...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Things that Don't Stay Small for Long

In todays' post, we'll take a look at four things in my life that aren't staying small.

The first comes with the sad preamble that, after more than five years, Yertle stopped swimming around the tank in the living room, and took a permanent nap. I walked him across the street and dropped him gently off the end of a dock with a sad little *bloop.* Poor turtle. Fiona still occasionally asks where he is.

Now that we don't have a hungry, carniverous reptile that eats any non-armored fish (my clown loaches, my beautiful clown loaches...!) we can have fish again... so we got a hungry, carnivorous Oscar that eats any and all non-armored fish. So, here we have "Snaps" Provolone, just a day or so after we got him.

OK, so autofocus cameras and fishtanks don't get along. I'm holding a quarter for size reference.

Next we visit the garden we've been working on over at Paul's house, where our efforts are about to be rewarded a hundredfold. I picked three red little cherry tomatoes off the vines last night. They were wonderful. Rich, savory, juicy, with a dark saltiness. Mmmmmm.

The tomato plants, with Aiden as a size reference. Yes, they're a good deal taller than he is. Keeping the plants off the ground has been a challenge in impromptu engineering.

Our squash and giant pumpkins are coming along nicely, too. I can see quite a number of crookneck squash budding and filling out under the massive leaves. (I'd better learn to like these, quick. It looks like I'll be having quite a few for supper come fall!) The pumpkin vines have stretched out more than 10 feet now, with their own impressive leaves and wine-glass sized flowers, although I haven't seen any fruit start to form there yet.

I had no idea that the plants would be this big. Aiden, again, serves as a size reference.

The fourth thing that isn't staying small here is... Aiden. He's getting big! I love that smile!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


My '77 Phoenix ("Bree") has had a "for sale" sign in the back window for several weeks now. Not that I've been actively pursuing the sale; I'm still quite fond of the big blue beast. And, as such, I've been waiting for the right buyer. I've passed up quite a few so far:

  • An 80 year old grandmother in an electric scooter, who wants this car because she can no longer get her leg into her Mustang. Sorry. If you cannot stand, you cannot check the transmission fluid, and you will have a junk car within a month. I couldn't sell it to her anyway, because her grandkids have contacted me and begged me not to.
  • A guy who wanted something small and fuel-efficient. Uh... no.
  • A guy who offered me $100, with plans to run it in the demolition derby at the Kosciusko County Fair. I'm too fond of the beast for that. No sale.
  • A guy who offered $100 because he's out of work, and has to drive his son (who's also out of work) to job interviews to that his son can make child support payments on his son. Somehow, I didn't think this would be someone that would take care of the car.
  • A solid (if lowball) offer from a shop.... 40 miles away. They don't want to come up and see it, though.

Last night, though, I met my ideal buyer. He rolled up in a blinged-out BMW, and I had the weird experience of hearing someone outside at the same time I'm tlaking to them on the phone. I walked out to talk to him in person. He asked what I wanted for it. I told him. "That's IT?" Well, if you want to pay me more, I won't complain, of course... This is a guy that has restored cars before. A guy that, after it took 5 minutes to start the engine with a can of carb cleaner, split his face into a broad grin and said, "Perfect!" ...this is a guy that's going to take care of Bree. I like him.

Projected sale date? Next Friday.


We went for our 22-week ultrasound on July 7. The verdict? One happy, healthy, wiggly little baby girl.

She's kinda cute, don't you think?

The ultrasound technician spent over an hour examining Deborah's belly from just about every angle possible, checking the length of feet, measuring the circumference of the head, checking the amount of amniotic fluid, peeking at structures in the brain, checking other parts of Deborah to make sure everything was OK.

* * *

All that was on July 7. Three weeks ago. So why am I only posting it now?

That's about how long it took to start feeling normal about it. (New readers to the blog may not be aware of a piece I wrote back in March. If you haven't seen that, go read that first.)

You see, we went in, excited to see the twins. We came out, shocked and numb, wondering what happened. Where was the other one? What happened to having twins? We were so sure... As I described it to a friend later, "One perfectly formed little girl and a lot of awkward questions."

We stayed up pretty late talking through those questions. Were we wrong? In a way, that's the easiest one to say, but also one of the most troubling — after all these years, we'd like to think we know God's voice when we hear it. Was God wrong? Pfft. What if it wasn't God? Scary. Don't you recognize the voice of a friend? And if it wasn't God, then who...? Was it meant for this pregnancy? We were so sure... but what if it wasn't? Are we supposed to have more kids yet? (Five kids?) Is that even possible? Don't they tie your tubes after three C-sections? ...we wrestled with those questions for days, weeks.

Finally, we came to a conclusion that left us with both faith and sanity. There are two possibilities:

  1. The plan has changed. We may never know why.
  2. The plan hasn't changed. Things could get very interesting.

And one question lingers in the air:

What will I do next time I feel like God is telling me something?

About two weeks before the ultrasound, Deborah says a thought kept straying across her mind: Will you still trust Me if it's not twins?

I had to think about that one for a while. But I think I do. I think I do.

So for now, we sit back, and rethink our plans. We don't seem to need a bigger house at this point. The extra things we've accumulated can be stored. The van... I'm not sure. Three is a crowd with car seats, even in a Cadillac, and we do often like to bring others with us. But now it's more of a want than a need. We have the money, and we have other debts burning holes in our pockets, but somehow the best course of action at this point seems to be to wait.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fourth of July

Better late than never, right? Just a bunch of pictures from the 4th...

I found myself in a parade this morning. We'd driven over to the park in the morning so that Fiona could do her bit, and Deborah noted that parade registration was still open. So, with five minutes' notice and a few borrowed flags, Aiden and I manned a parade float.

Fiona was just a few spots behind us, doing a little pom-pom and dance routine.

A pensive cheerleader...

Gimme an F! Uh, wait, maybe that's not the cheer to practice in class...
Yay, Fiona!

They had games and activities at the park after the parade. Here, I'm taking Aiden down a giant slide...

...while Fiona is put out fires with the WLFD.

After a nice picnic supper, my parents and I formed a non-profit corporation, and we all settled down on a blanket to wait for dusk.

Wildflowers at twilight. My mother was rather impressed that I got this shot, given how little light there was.

I realize I could have zoomed in, or cropped this or any number of things... but somehow this shot appealed to me more than the others. Just a warm, open space, people watching the fireworks burst overhead, people enjoying themselves.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Design Your Own Luck

This is a cover I'm working on, and I'm curious to see what people think of it. Comment away!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Deep Bass Sunshine

A side effect of our "Gingerbread in June" party was that the back room (a.k.a. "The Everything Room") got a very thorough cleaning — so much so that it's now the emptiest, neatest room in the house. Deborah even cleaned her desk. The empty space is inspiring, as is the afternoon sun shining in the window.

Sunday afternoon, while waiting for my internet connection to return, I realized that I could be doing something instead of sitting there being frustrated. My bass amp sits beside the computer; why not keep the bass there, too, and just practice a bit while waiting for other things? For that matter, why not just sit there and play? As I've discovered again, you really do play a lot more if your instrument close at hand, and not sitting in a case halfway across the house.

* * *

Somewhere along the line, I discovered that Fiona has a way with words for music. The Call's Let the Day Begin — one of my favorite driving songs — is "Happy music! It makes me want to jump around!" while a soft, moody piece I wrote for the bass is "a song for relaxing outside, sitting under a tree in the sunshine!" I've started trying to find new and interesting bass lines to play, just to see what she'll say about them. (The theme to Inspector Gadget, incidentally, is pretty much all accidentals. How appropriate.) It's fun to watch her stop, and listen to each new riff, as she tips back and forth from foot to foot, just drinking it in and smiling before she starts dancing around the room, a different dance for every song.

This kid is made of music.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Just this afternoon, I came across an online application called Wordle. The idea is that you paste in a bunch of text, and it creates a "word cloud" that gives prominence to more-frequent words. So... I pasted in the entire text of "You Know You're an MK When..."

I have yet to figure out a good way to save these as high-resolution files, but it seems like a great potential illustration tool.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sneaky Parenting

The battle to wean Fiona from her pacifier continues, but we've gotten sneakier about it.

Once I realized that pacifiers could be used as motivation, as well as, uh, pacification, whole new worlds opened up. (Credit here goes to our occasional babysitter, Stephanie, who is clever about such things.) Now, getting Fiona to settle down at bedtime is easy. Take for instance, the conversation we had tonight:

F: Hey, where's my pacifier? It was right here!
A: I took it.
F: But I want it!
A: What do you need to do to get it?
F: Be quiet for... oh... five minutes...
A: Let's try twenty.
F: How about THIRTY?
A: (grinning in the dark) Oh, OK. Deal! Thirty minutes.

Isn't it great when you find a solution everyone's happy with?