Wednesday, August 31, 2011

thoughts from Boy

Being a passenger in a car is a lot like waiting.

Boiled potatoes are really just do-it-yourself mashed potatoes.

Girls are weird.

Monday, August 29, 2011

a comparison

Stewy is still here.... for now.  Still working on DH to open his heart, mind and home....
This is a comparison of the two felines who tolerate the humans at Shady Lane.

  • Stewy catches mice, birds and possibly bats.
  • Rocky catches flies, tinfoil balls and his tail.
  • Rocky is hefty, with soft thick hair and gorgeous green eyes.  He is very handsome and he knows it.
  • Stewy is skinny with thin, wiry hair and gorgeous ginger-orange eyes.  He doesn't know he has potential, but he doesn't care anyway.
  • Rocky purrs loudly all the time.
  • Stewy purrs quietly, only when he is really content.
  • Rocky says "mer" when he wants something -- usually food.
  • Stewy says "meow" when he wants something -- usually to sit on your lap.
  • Rocky chases his tail, but unless he catches it he doesn't realize he has one.
  • Stewy's tail is like a flag.  It goes straight up when he's happy, especially when he is being petted.
  • Rocky prefers to be near us, flopped out full on the floor.
  • Stewy prefers to be on us, flopped across our laps.
Currently I am in the office and both felines are in the kitchen.  I hear both a mer and a meow -- so one is lonely and one is hungry....

Friday, August 19, 2011

dead skunk

There was a dead skunk on my lawn last night.

 I won't tell you how it got dead.

It was gone when I got up this morning, but I know it didn't walk away in a zombie-like state.

Girl had nightmares last night about skunks coming back to life and "getting" her.

I'm having olfactory daydreams about skunk-smell seeping into my house.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

He rides!

I am  heading off to go riding shortly.
Last week while I rode, Girl convinced Boy to ride Prince.  I think Boy has sat on a horse maybe three times in his life.  Horse don't have motors, so he isn't all that interested.
Coach was surprised that he was willing to ride, but he told her "I can't really tease Girl about horses unless I've tried myself."
Girl bridled up Strawberry Shortcake for herself, and Prince for Boy.  Prince is 37 years old.  Can you believe it?  He still competes at shows and is a school horse.  He is very well trained, and quite a gentleman so I felt okay about Boy being bareback on him.  They rode around the trail ring for awile.  Boy discovered that it wasn't as easy as he thought, and he hasn't bothered Girl about horses since.  I made my Darryl stop to watch as I didn't figure I might ever see my two on horses/ponies together again.

This is the other view I got while on Darryl's back.  He's listening to me, I know he is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

i'm afraid

I'm afraid of a few of things:

1.  This morning I looked out my second storey window and saw Stewy with 2 black cats about the same size as he is.  I'm afraid they are Stewy's siblings and he is bringing them to my house.  I'm afraid I will be compelled to look after Stewy's whole family.  In doing so I'm afraid I will become the town's crazy cat lady.

I can't do it Stewy, I can't do it. 
I didn't sign on for this is.
I can't be the crazy lady....

2.  I'm afraid that there are bats in my house.  Yesterday DH had a late night encounter with one.  He was in the living room and it flew down the steps and went under our hall table.  The last time we had a bat was when Boy was just a baby.  Reebok, our former kitty-extraordinaire, jumped up and pulled it out of the air.  Then she stood on its wings until DH could dispose of it.  This time Rocky sat on the steps washing his paws and watching DH bash it with, of all things, the Doctor's Book of Home Remedies.

3.  I'm afraid we have bats AND I'm afraid our Rocky is a bit useless.

4.  I'm afraid the brainy-extraordinaire cat is the one outside rounding up his homies....

Friday, August 12, 2011

We own him now!

Remember Stewy?

The stray that is buds with Rocky?

That's Stewy with Rocky in the back yard yesterday.  I used PSE artistic dry brush technique to doctor the photo -- unfortunately it looks like Stewy only has one eye.  

DH and I decided that if he is going to keep hanging around then we'd better get him his shots.
This morning he was standing at the back door looking for me (or Rocky, I can't be sure which....)

So, I did it.  I fed him, took him into the back room, which he did not like one bit, and called the vet.  We got an appointment right away.  He was not at all pleased with the cat carrier or the ride in the jeep.

As we drove to Small Town I talked to Girl about the fact that this was still most likely a wild cat and just because we've fed him a bit and taken him to get some shots doesn't mean he's ours.  We're just doing this to be sure that Rocky stays healthy.  I said, "we don't own this cat."

I explained to Dr. Charlotte that this was a stray and I had no idea if he would be around tomorrow or the next day so I just wanted flea control, and his vaccinations. Translation --" I don't want to spend a ton of money on this feline."

While  Dr. Charlotte checked him over she noticed that he seemed warm (at first I thought it was stress...I was warm too) and that he had a cut on his back foot.  She took him to the back room to shave the hair from his foot.  When Dr. C and Stewy reappeared she told me that he couldn't have his shots because his foot was infected, likely from bite, and he had a fever.  What did I want to do?

What did I want to do??  What did I want to do??  Hmmm.

Here's what I did 'cause I'm a sucker.  I got him a super shot of antibiotics for his foot and fever, dewormer, ear mite and flea control, and an appointment for 2 weeks from now for a check up and his shots.  I also bought him some special food.

When we left the clinic this was the conversation in the jeep while Stewy slept in the crate:
Girl: I sure hope he gets better and he sticks around.
Me: He better. We own him now!
Girl:  But mommy, I thought you said he was wild and he didn't belong to anybody.
Me:  $182.05 and another appointment says "we own him now!!"

This is not the first time I've been chosen by a stray.  It's just the first time it has cost ME money.  When I was a teenager I found a stray cat in the barn with my horse.  He might have been the ugliest cat ever.  He had a pugged up nose, as if he were a boxer that was on the losing end of a number of fights.  He was flea-bitten, and dirty, but he was the friendliest little fella.  I just figured he needed some lovin'.  I kept him secret in the barn for a bit, then I figured it was too cold so I snuck him into my parent's laundry room.  I convinced mom that he needed us -- and she was soft-hearted enough to let me do that.  Dad took some more convincing.  In a stroke of genius I told him that the cat, now named "Newmeister," was a gift for my Gran.  He consented.  Thankfully, dad being a vet, the required remediations were readily at hand.  And Gran loved that cat, though she hated the name -- ended up calling him SweetiePie instead.

This is a photo my Gran had of SweetiePie.  I still have it in her frame in my office.

Yep.  I've done this before.
I'm counting on DH to be strong...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a list

1.  Boy was ill this week -- stomach flu.  Today he says he feels like normal, and I know that's true because he is bugging his sister.

2.  Girl convinced DH to get her a fish.  We now have a pink (of course) Beta Fish named Bubbles who lives on my kitchen counter and stares at me when I work at the sink.

3.  I got a new camera lens yesterday.  Girl (we assume) dropped my good camera and my favourite lens 18-55 mm was damaged, so I went to my favourite camera shop yesterday and picked up an 18-200mm lens.  It was on sale.  The range is so much bigger than the last one, that I think this might be my new favourite.

4.  I will take a picture of Bubbles with my  new lens once he has eaten the fish food Girl gave him this morning.  The water is a little grody looking at the moment.

5.  I lost half a pound in 6 days on my Great Granny Eating  plan.  It really wasn't as hard as I thought except that I can't find a decent replacement for ketchup or for Campbell's mushroom soup.
Here's what I didn't eat that I had to think about:
-6 Swedish berries (I had 3...even though I shouldn't have had any)
-Fruit flavoured yogurt (I bought PC plain -- it only has milk and bacterial culture, no sugar etc)  I mixed it with my homemade fruit salsa.  I'll put the salsa recipe on the recipe page.
-chips -- I had plain popcorn instead
-casseroles -- because most of my recipes involved a soup mix or a ready-made sauce of some kind.  I will have to tweek some recipes to see what I can do about that.
-pop (of course)
-juice (of any kind -- cause I am not going to squeeze my own!)

What I did eat was lots of fruits and veggies; Mary's organic seed crackers cause they only contain seeds; nuts; seeds; butter; olive oil (again probably not popular in Northern Ireland 100 years ago, but certainly somebody's great granny had it...); roast beef, chicken, pork loin; plain yogurt.

6.  It rained this week, and I so, so badly wanted rain for my flowerbeds, but I am much happier that it is sunny today.

7.  This morning I cracked open my school books -- back to work (from home) for me this week!

8.  I am feeling panicky that my summer is nearly over.  I know there are a few weeks left, but time is suddenly ticking away quickly and I don't have everything on my list done yet!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We have had a new visitor appear in on the porch and in the yard this week.  He has made friends with Rocky and the two laze away the afternoons together.

We're not sure it he is a stray or if he belongs to someone in the neighbourhood.  He is very friendly, clearly a male and rather skinny (but I have to remember we are comparing him to fatso Rocky.)  We've named our visitor Stewy (short for Stewart).  I don't know why that name stuck, I just know it was better than Boy's suggestion of "Stoney" ("'cause he's got big 'stones,' mom!").

Also, he likes to hide in my flower bed.
Just look at that -- another jungle kitty...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

the view from up here

I have a small second floor balcony from which I can reach my second floor clothes line.  The balcony looks over the back yard.  Yesterday I had this view of my yard. 

Just think -- only a few years ago the only equipment the Boy could use was the digger and trucks in the sandbox. :(

That is Boy in our compact tractor.  (It's not that I am taking the photo from so high up, it's just that the tractor is tiny, as tractors go.)  I call it the Barbie tractor, but my boys don't find that funny. 

I have a rock garden off the back of the shop.  Recently ants and weeds decided to take up residence and I could get rid of neither.  I gave Boy permission to see what he could do with the mess.  So he dug up all the rocks by hand and put them in the trailer behind the 4-wheeler.  Then he took several buckets of ant hill and dirt away with the loader.  Then he replaced the top soil and the rocks.  It took him much of the morning and he happily worked away humming the Smurf song "la-la-lalala-la" because I had indirectly given him permission to use the 4-wheeler/gator/tractor and loader as he needed. 

It was a good day for all.

Except the ants.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rocky's spot

Yesterday I told you about my vacation destination in my backyard.  Turns out Rocky likes my gazebo too.

He likes this spot best because he can hide behind my "mile high geraniums" (I think that's the name of the yellow six-foot-six flowers that grow to the east and south of my gazebo hide-away) and peek out at the world.  Also, I think he thinks he is a jungle kitty if he's amongst the flora.

Doesn't he look like a fierce and ferocious tiger?

PS -- Still workin' on my Real-food-Great-Granny-style thing.  Found a great recipe I will make again.  I've posted it on the "recipe" page above.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


My absolute favourite place in the world is my backyard.  When I need a vacation, I go to the back yard, usually to the gazebo to read.  This weekend it was so hot that I decided to move my vacation spot slightly to the south-west to read my book and dream away the day.

I camped here:

I read this book:

This series is a MUST read.  It's the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.  The first one is called One for the Money.  I'm up to Smokin' Seventeen.  These books make me laugh, sometimes snort, outloud.  Also, I have a massive crush on Ranger, a character you meet around book #4.  Stephanie Plum is an inept, but lovable bounty hunter who gets into the most ridiculous, but somehow believable situations.  When I get an Evanovich book, I don't put it down until it's done.  I finished this one Sunday afternoon.

I refreshed myself with this:

Brisk lemonade.  Yummy.

I was occasionally distracted by the likes of this:

This is DH after a cannonball.  Sometimes I got lucky and the splash reached me.

This was a perfect holiday weekend. 

PS.  The Great-Granny-Real-Food Thing update
Tuesday's attempts:
Breakfast -- banana, oj, raw almonds
Snack -- piece of cheese, dried apricots
Lunch -- cheese on a bun, broiled (I dipped in ketchup though, so I slipped there), carrot sticks, water
Snack -- Yesterday I was famished in the afternoon.  Well, not really famished but I really, really wanted my usual granola bar.  Instead I had about 3 handfuls of cashews.  I think a single serving is about 12.  Oops.
Supper -- chicken and veggie stirfry with basmati rice.  I only used olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and ginger on it.  Girl declared it the best rice dish ever!  So I know MY great granny likely wouldn't have had rice and a stir fry in Northern Ireland, but somebody's great granny likely did.
Bed time snack -- popcorn (with butter).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I watched Oprah the other day.  She had a guest on who talked about the documentary "Food Inc."  If you've never seen it, you should make a point of watching it.  You will never think of food production the same way again.

The guest talked about how the "western diet" has led to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and ingrown toenails (well not the toe nail thing, that's my own hypothesis).  He talked about the Inuit of Greenland who have seal (or whale?) blubber as 75% of their diet and they have little or no heart disease, diabetes or obesity issues.  75% blubber!!!???

The solution for us "westerners" is to eat "real food."  Real food being unprocessed food.  The simple rule is that "if your great grandmother would not recognize something as food, then you should not eat it."  Picture yogurt in tubes, string cheese and KD packages.  He said that we will never have to count calories, fat or nutrients again if we follow this rule.

Easy, I figured, so I paid close attention to what I ate yesterday to see how many processed "unrecognizable" foods I ate in a regular day.  I was surprised at my observations, because I think I'm a relatively healthy eater..

banana, orange juice, small handful of raw almonds (I think this was pretty good -- except maybe the Tropicana OJ...)

hamburger with ketchup, tomato, lettuce, mustard and relish, water to drink (hamburger was the frozen patty kind, ketchup and mustard are processed too...I make my own relish so that was okay)

apple, small handful of raw cashews, small glass of gingerale (gingerale doesn't  pass)

ham and cheese impossible quiche, carrot sticks, water to drink (thought this was ok too 'til I thought about the  Bisquick in the quiche --ya, I know not gluten free, so I will get headache as well as eating processed product; and the ketchup I smothered the quiche with also wouldn't pass)
waffle with ice cream and maple syrup for dessert -- pretty sure Great Granny would never have seen a frozen waffle or Aunt Jemima syrup, but I think ice cream existed just without modified milk ingredients, glucose, mono-and diglycerides, carob bean gum, guar guam, cellulose gum, carrageenan, dextrose,and something called annatto)

DH gave me the leftover potato chips so he didn't have to put a near empty bag back in the cupboard -- that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  Chips don't pass the real food test either.

The processed stuff is what makes cooking convenient and easy -- and food taste good (ie, ketchup).  If I had to make my own ice cream, I likely wouldn't have had any -- also, I don't have a cow.

So here is my experiment.  I am going to try really, really hard to live by the "real-food-great-granny rule" this week.  I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Boy and the Lawnmower

This is Boy and his lawnmower.  He got it from his great aunt for free.  He loves this lawnmower.  Has great plans about becoming a millionaire mowing lawns about town.... so far I haven't felt the benefit of the great ambition (as in he trims our lawn, and the lawn of our little house uptown and that's it.)

Recently Boy, because he has his father's genes, felt that the what the lawnmower lacked was power (again, nothing said about ambition....) This was his solution.  Be prepared to be amazed!

Boy bought a pipe (he just corrected me, a "straight pipe") to put on the mower; a straight pipe like they put on muscle cars -- only much smaller.  It took him most of Saturday afternoon to rig up this bad boy.  When I asked him what the purpose was he said "more power and it'll sound nasty."  Nasty. I'll say.

Further to this modification he added this:

See this string.  This string is attached to the governor.  "When you pull the string it overrides the governor, so you don't have a limit on your revs," says Boy with a wicked grin.  Then he adds this information for your reading  pleasure, "it was originally a 4 horse engine, but now that it's all done I have a mean machine with 11 horse power."

Does anyone else see the irony in an 11 hp PUSH mower???

So when Boy mows the lawn it sounds like Varney Speedway here.  Also, the glare from the grin on his face lights up the afternoon.

Lawnmower free.
Pipe $5.
String for governor free.
Look on Boy's face priceless.