Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Clean at last, clean at last!

Okay, so I didn't get my closets organized at all ("oh you need a towel, hold on a minute, I'll get it for you!"). So I didn't get the recycling taken to the recycling center and it's still piled up on my carport. So, I didn't get my lawn mowed. So what? It's clean enough and they're here.

I completed my first mystery shop and am gearing up for two tomorrow evening. My mom asked me if the store where I did my mystery shop sold athletes foot spray, I agreed that it probably did, but I didn't really want to go back this evening when I need to go to it again tomorrow. Talk about suspicious! So we went to K-Mart instead.

My cat almost managed to get a juvenile golden-fronted woodpecker. Poor thing was an early bird and left the nest just a little too soon. Luckily for him, her lead was too short for her to reach him. I kept trying to get it to go up a tree (it could climb just fine), but he ended up flying/coasting to the bushes in the neighbor's yard. I hope his parents are able to get him to a safe place before the neighborhood cats start hunting. This is why my cat is a house cat and only allowed outside with a harness and lead. I know it seems strange to tie up your cat when you let it out, but it's really the only environmental thing to do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Oy! It was one of those days

I knew it was going to be when I opened my Yogi Tea bag and the quote inside said "Keep Up". I get this one regularly and it's NEVER a good day.

So, we had a couple show up to sign their will this morning. Had I finished the will? Had I even started the will? No. Luckily, they had a very, very simple will and I just made the quick changes to our standard form and printed it on the will paper. So it turned out well.

I got the files ready for the hearings tomorrow. But right after I shut down my computer to come home and pick up the kids, I remembered this rush file I had worked on Thursday and Friday and thought "isn't there a hearing on something tomorrow?". So I went into my boss' office and asked. Yes! There is a hearing tomorrow, no idea why it isn't on the calendar. So, rush to find the file, turn my computer back on and quick finish the few little things needed on the file.

Phew, done for the day. Rush home to change into shorts and t-shirt and sandals to go pick up the kids from school. Hope that the check we are waiting on appears in the mail (we don't necessarily need it right now, but it would really, really come in handy) and sit down to eat my "lunch". Rrriiinnnggg. My boss calls. "Client is here to sign the document, where is it?" Crap! I don't think we finished it, I was thinking he was coming in tomorrow. Crap, crap, crappity crap crap. I offer to come in and finish it, he says no big deal, they'll fix it (now, in all truth, I have been pulled in to finish/fix things for my coworkers, so it isn't anything new, but I really, really hate it because I feel it is largely because I am part time).

Realize my mom and dad will be here tomorrow! How much have we cleaned? It's now "we live in a sty, a sty I tell you" clean and edging toward company clean. But it isn't there yet. Decide the living room looks good, clean the dining room and then sit down to recover from the heat (MAJOR humidity after our 10" of rain over the weekend). Mr. Gaia comes home and changes the AC filter and turns it on (first time this year, yay us!). In between this, I decide that it seems like a good time to henna my hair (little tip, if you have naturally dry hair and are soaking in a bath with epsom salt, DON'T soak your hair too, it completely strips all the natural oils and your hair comes out like straw!).

So, still to do: Clean kitchen (clean counters and sweep, Mr. Gaia will mop tomorrow), clean bathroom (Mr. Gaia did the toilet as per our agreement - he cleans the toilet and I don't make the boys sit to pee) and sweep, sweep the hall and the boys' rooms, dry the futon cover and guest sheets.

Completely unnecessary cleaning I did? I bathed the cat. It seemed like a good time to do it, I was showering and not bathing, so the tub wasn't full of bubble bath or shaving cream, etc.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The urge to buy

I've been using hotel bottles of shampoo to save some money and to stop waste. I'm not even halfway through my stash and yet every time I walk into a store, I gravitate to looking at the shampoo aisle. I *know* I don't need shampoo, but not having that big bottle is freaking me out.

We went to Sam's yesterday (yeah I know, I don't like Wal*Mart either). The whole trip was a struggle to not buy anything I don't need. We did manage to get out with just a couple of items - cat litter and pajama pants (which I don't exactly need but they were really cheap and this will let me save my yoga pants). I looked at the aprons because I use them when I bake bread, but decided that my two are enough (and it isn't like they were on sale and a really good deal).

I wonder when I will be able to go into a store without feeling the urge to spend money we don't actually have (or money we do have but which could be better used elsewhere)?

Today was a cleaning day. I got all but one load of laundry done but none of it put away. The boys cleaned their rooms. Mr. Gaia filed the paperwork and started cleaning off the counter. I cleaned my desk and the floor in the family room. Still so much to do and only tomorrow to do it. And I have to work! Sigh.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


The rules of polite conversation say that you should never discuss religion or politics.

When you live in a small town, eventually (okay, right away) people ask you what church you attend. If you don't attend a church, they ask you what you believe and why you don't go to church. It can get pretty darned uncomfortable.

I've explained several times that I grew up Southern Baptist but can't handle the way they treat women. Eventually most have come to accept that, even the preacher's wife. Every so often, I get accused of hating God and christians. I get accused of persecuting christians when I call them on their lies.

Newsflash - kids can pray in school. The only thing not allowed is teachers leading them in prayer. Why can't people see that this is a good thing? Are they going to accept a wiccan prayer or a jewish prayer? Well, of course not. They only want christian prayer. But even more - the baptists don't want a catholic prayer and the catholics don't want a baptist prayer and neither want a "holiness" prayer.

More news. The ACLU represents everyone, including christians. And Rush Limbaugh.

So what do I believe? I believe in the teachings of Christ. I believe "Blessed are the peacemakers" and that this war is the antithesis of christian belief. I believe "do not be like the pharisees and pray loudly but go into a closet" (paraphrased). I believe that God did not give women brains and then expect them not to use them. I believe God gave scientists the ability to produce birth control so that women can live longer and that if using birth control is playing God, then so is having a C-section or using fertility treatments or basically using any other kind of medicine to live longer.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


My mom comes Wednesday (well, my mom and my dad, but I always think "my mom"). So, I need to clean my house. We have several stages of cleaning:
1) Normal life - cluttered, floor needs swept and picked up, some dishes in the sink, counters need wiped, clean clothes are on the couch and in the basket.

2) "I'm sick of this, we live in a sty, a STY I tell you, a STY". The dishes are done, the laundry is folded (but not necessarily put away), the floors are picked up (but not necessarily swept) and the counters are wiped.

3) Company clean - the above but the laundry is put away and the floors are swept. The counters are not only wiped but washed down and the obvious spots on the floor are scrubbed up.

4) Mom clean - all of the above, plus the whole house gets vacuumed and mopped, the books are dusted, the futon cover is either washed or changed, all the sheets are changed and freshly laundered, the linen closet is reorganized and everything is neatly folded, the cabinets are organized, picture frames are dusted and the glass is cleaned, windows are washed if there is time.

This is all complicated by the fact that I'll also have to pack my kids for their month spent at "Camp Grandma". And did I mention that I have 4 mystery shops while they're here?

The only question is when to start doing all of the above. Clearly, it takes time, but if you do it too soon it looks like nothing was done at all. At least that's my excuse for not doing it today.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Flash Flood

I had to reschedule my mystery shop today. We got 5 inches of rain in less than 8 hours. This on top of 1.5 inches last night. I live in a flat area, we just can't absorb this kind of rain fall.

I made it home from work - just barely. My car almost stalled going across an intersection. My tires actually threw water up over my sideview mirrors (and I was only going 10mph). I saw a car stall out in front of our house right when I had to be leaving to do my shop. I just couldn't get there.

I hate having to cancel things, it makes me feel unreliable.

I wish I had gotten pictures. We have a grass strip of about 5' wide between our sidewalk and the road. The water was all the way up over the sidewalk and into our yard. The people across the street had their soaker hose float down the street. Trash cans were floating down the alley (and these are the huge trash cans - 200 gallons or so).

But 3 hours later? Just the barest puddles on the road.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Things I would like to tell my boss

1) Lack of planning on the part of our clients, should not result in panic and emergency on our part. If they didn't plan ahead and give us some lead time, we shouldn't drop everything (including things that are important) so we can do same day or next day turn around for screaming clients. And doing this? Is resulting in emergency and panic on our parts for clients that DID plan ahead.

2) Asking why something isn't done right after you dropped 3 "emergencies" on me? Not helpful. And if I could really tell you what I want to say, I'd tell you EXACTLY why it isn't done.

3) Morale seem low? It could be because you can't say no to clients who want way more than we can provide in the time we have available and we're all freaking out with the overwork.

4) Yes, I deserve that raise. The mistakes you've seen is merely a function of the overload you've piled on. It isn't a reflection of me, it's a reflection of needing to get more done than is fully humanly possible.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gratitude Post!

1) It's Wednesday, I'm halfway through the week and it's a long weekend.

2) My kids made straight As for the last 9 weeks.

3) I'm almost done pulling johnsongrass (the last area to go is in amongst some oleander that needs to be removed before I can really get it) just in time, because my back is about to give out.

4) I've been able to pick up more mystery shops so I should meet my goal by June 15 (of course, I won't actually get the money until July).

5) Due to the arrival of some checks, we shouldn't have to dip into savings for this month's bills.

6) Hyperion's "ugly" tooth is about to fall out.

7) My mom and dad are going to be able to come visit us next week and take my boys back with them for their month on the farm (saves us a LOT of gas and gives us a chance to visit).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Child Left Behind

Jon Stewart had Secretary of Education Spellings on his show tonight. She actually said that she's not heard a single parent say that they want their child removed from the program.

I can't say I'm surprised. It isn't that parents aren't saying "this is nuts!", it's that the administration doesn't listen to anyone who might criticize them. It is completely nuts the stress they put on our kids and the class time that is wasted is criminal.

I can't count the number of benchmarks my child took to get them ready for their TAKS.

Plus! Because scores are the be-all end-all, recess is almost nonexistant. So kids are getting fat. They get gym 3 times per week (if they're lucky) and about 10 minutes of recess each day. Nevermind the studies that show that students will remember what they learn if the learning is broken up by periods of aerobic exercise, running around wastes valuable class time. And because there aren't enough hours in the school day to make sure kids really get it, they send home an hour or more of homework each night (starting in 1st grade). So kids can't even exercise once they get home.

Count me in as a parent who would opt out given the choice. And frankly, I know lots of parents who have opted out - they simply put their kids in private schools.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This week in Bug Hill

I got to see and snuggle with the babies. They are sooo cute. I, of course, offered to babysit with them, but Marcia really needs me to help with the other kids (I understand).

Mrs. Miller finally got the results of her liver biopsy. She apparently has chronic hepatitis, but she didn't pay attention to know if it was hepatitis B or C or even if it is for sure viral and not autoimmune or some other cause. She's still in the process of coming to grips with the information. She has an appointment with the clinic to figure out next steps and hopefully to get more information. Well wishes and information would be greatly appreciated.

Megan is still so freakin' skinny it isn't funny. She's starting to complain about weight gain "I gained 4 pounds in two weeks!". I just smile and say "I know" and "I understand" and remember that I was once the super skinny pregnant woman who alternately embraced the weight gain and despaired of ever being thin again (I did get thin again, it just didn't last). She's still nauseated and calls in to be late more often than not. By my reckoning, she should be entering the 2nd trimester soon and so maybe the nausea will abate (I suspect not, she's enjoying the excuse too much, in my opinion).

Edna at Curl up and Dye is still gambling and had a decent win this week. Haircuts are not going well. Get your hair cut at your own risk.

Lizzie at the diner wants everyone to know that they are bringing back "Blue Plate Specials" featuring a meat, 2 veg, drink and dessert. This is one of those things that most of us thought were gone with the dinosaurs. She says that the prices can't compare to the original prices on a blue plate but reminds us that she is doing what she can to keep eating out affordable and help us remember bygone days. Then she adds "without the whole 'whites only' thing, so nobody better suggest it".

The FHA and 4-H group cooperated to have a rummage sale/fashion show this weekend. We're proud to say that they raised $1,000 and had people drive as much as 100 miles one-way to come. They send thanks to everyone who donated items for the rummage sale and all the help with the fashion show. I think we all had a great time and some of us even got some neat items (okay, I didn't buy anything, I'm saving money and trying not to get too much clutter in my home).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday - rest day

We had planned to bike to the library today, but I slept in. When I woke up, I reminded Mr. Gaia that we needed to go to the library, so he grabbed his keys and went out to the storage building to claim the extra bike tire. By the time he got the flat fixed on that tire and got it on his bike, I realized it was raining.

Now, it's been threatening to rain for over a week now (I haven't done laundry in all that time because I thought it was going to rain) so when it was cool and cloudy, we figured it wouldn't rain and we could bike to the library anyway. Of course, we finally found the tipping point for making it rain. Hyperion heard the rain and came outside to run around in it.

Mr. Gaia and went and sat on our porch swing to watch the rain and enjoy the cool air. When we were shopping for a house, the big thing we wanted was a porch. One of the first things we bought for our house was our porch swing. Today reminded me why it was important to us. As we enjoyed watching Hyperion dance in the rain, I looked around and realized almost all of our neighbors were missing this wonderful day. The neighbor waaay down on the corner was out with the kids and enjoying it. Everyone else was stuck inside because they had no porch.

Since we clearly weren't going to the library, I used my day to take care of some business. I bagged up another bag of cans for the recycling center and then I baked bread. We still haven't been able to use the solar oven for baking bread - Murphy's Law dictates that as soon as we have time, the sky will be cloudy.

Best laid plans and all that ...

So we didn't bike today. It was cloudy and looked like rain. Instead, I used the chance to take some more items to the recycling center (the party was very near the center). We say we recycle but the reality is that we have a pile of recyclables under our carport. So, I'm working at taking the chance to take a couple of bags every chance I get. Today it was a bag of bimetal cans and a bag of plastic bottles.

I still have a ton of cardboard, but we'll use some of that around the house. We'll lay it down over the grass, wet it heavily and then pour mulch over it. This will kill the grass in areas we want for flower/vegetable beds. Of course, it attracts cockroaches, but everything does here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Help Identify a bird

We have parrots in our neighborhood. They're red-crowned parrots and we're used to seeing them (but we still get excited to see them).

Tonight we heard a different sound than normal. I thought it was either the whistling ducks that are thinking of nesting in our Washingtonia palm skirt and then maybe a grackle. But it just sounded like a parrot, but not our parrots.

We finally spotted the pair of them. They were parrots, but they had a yellow head. Their call was less harsh than the red-crowned parrot and they almost seemed to laugh (I think they were laughing at me thinking they were whistling ducks, but well, I tend to be insecure, so ...). They did appear to be smaller than our red-crowned parrots, but only marginally so. They had the squared off tail we are used to seeing in our parrots (in other words, when they flew off, they had a noticeable "parrot profile").

Honestly, if it wasn't for the yellow head and softer voice, I'd have thought they were our normal parrots.

Anyone know what we saw? Alas, we didn't have a camera to get a pick.


Our previously "cheap" gas has spiked in prices. It's now $3.09/gallon (making a driving trip into Mexico to buy gas an attractive proposition).

We've been changing our lifestyle over the last year, but I've seen us fall into a pattern of driving more than we should. Mr. Gaia's bike developed a tendency to actually slit tire tubes (making patching an impossibility) and soccer got in the way of our training/conditioning/maintenance rides. We still walked but found ourselves driving places we had originally planned as "biking distance".

The prices are spurring us to reevaluate. We have an extra bike, we should be able to swap out the rim that is apparently slitting the tires (and maybe finally figure out the issue). We will still have a problem we've had all along - no good places to park and lock a bike (bike racks are almost nonexistant), but we figure we can always use a tree or convenient ice machine (as much we hate doing anything that might damage a tree).

One of Hyperion's classmates has a party tomorrow, and not being ones to ease into things we plan to bike to the party. We figure we should be able to find someplace to lock the bikes and the party isn't until noon, so Mr. Gaia should be able to replace the tire.

I once read a poster who had "no gas days". That's where we want to go. Clearly we will always have to use some gas (well, at least in the foreseeable future). Mr. Gaia's job requires him to drive 40 miles roundtrip and my job, while relatively close, is not really bike friendly, but there's no reason we can't make our weekends gas-free.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

how does your garden grow?

The ginger root we stuck in a bucket of soil is putting up all kinds of new shoots which means we'll have fresh ginger before we know it. I can't wait.

The freesia nub that Mr. Gaia brought home and left on the counter for weeks and then finally shoved into a bucket of soil has 5 fully grown leaves and is sending up new leaves all the time.

The birds of paradise "liberated" from the neighbor's yard are 50/50. One has sent up a new leaf but the other hasn't (but is still green, so there's still hope).

My bengal tiger rose has been blooming but the darn things don't last long at all. I swear they must bloom first thing in the morning and then by the time I see them in the afternoon they're already overblown. But my belinda's dream has had a beautiful bloom for several days now. My cherokee rose is holding its own with one green stem and a few green leaves with only a little bit of brown on the margins. My peace rose is recovering from its transplant shock and is putting on lots of new growth.

My kale is just starting to bolt, but is still edible, so I'm holding it for now.

My cannas have lots of greenery and may actually bloom this year.

My aloe is reproducing at an alarming rate, and is going to have to be moved out of the pots and put in the ground.

I have what Mr. Gaia tells me are garlic chives filling a 5 gallon bucket (sense a pattern here with the buckets? We have a ton of them full of good topsoil and compost).

I have a volunteer watermelon growing in the bucket I used for compost over a year ago (so I'm sure it's fully composted now). I swear I can almost watch it grow.

One of my rosemary plants is still alive and will probably stay that way if I keep the bindweed off of it.

The friggin' oleander and tepeguaje sprout faster than I can keep up with. But I'm keeping on keeping on with the johnsongrass (completely eradicated in one bed and the alley).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Good week

So, yesterday I got a surprise check in the mail. It was only $5, but it was $5 I hadn't expected to get. One of my survey sites does screening surveys. If your answers on the screening survey indicates that you fit the demographic the customer wants, then you get the longer survey which pays. But if your demographics don't match, you get entered into a drawing. I always just figured it was one of those things where no one ever wins. Surprise, surprise, I wound up having my name drawn.

Then, I signed up for a bzzcampaign (BzzAgent) and got a huge bottle of Eucerin lotion and 10 samples size tubes each with a coupon for $1 off a full size bottle. The samples are to give out when I talk about the product. And I also got a chance to sign up for coppertone sunscreen (which we use) and al fresco chicken sausages (this one is interesting, I hope I can find it locally).

I tried the Eucerin tonight. I put it on one leg, but not the other (no real reason, really, mainly because I was cooking and needed to go check on the food and then because I thought it would be interesting to see the difference in my skin). When I went out to garden, it seemed like the mosquitoes paid a lot less attention to the lotioned leg - at least at first. I don't know if it was a texture issue, a smell issue or maybe even just my imagination, but I plan to check it out further.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Garden woes

I haven't been able to garden an hour every day as planned because the mosquitoes are really, really thick right now. The bad thing is that part of the reason they are thick is because the weeds are thick and high - see the problem? I can't get rid of the weeds because the mosquitoes are too thick, and the mosquitoes are so thick because I can't get rid of the weeds. So I do 5-10 minutes at a time and just hope that it will eventually get done.

I don't worry about the mosquitoes because they make me itchy. I don't react to them. I worry about them because of mosquito-borne illnesses. Living in the subtropics, there are diseases I need to worry about. I'm not invincible, as much as I would like to be.

And today I walked out and my Belinda's Dream rose looks like lace. The diagnosis? Leafcutter bees. The good news is that the bee (they tend to be solitary so it's probably just one female) probably won't do any major damage to my rose, it's mainly cosmetic. The other good news, since this rose is under my clothesline and close to the house, is that leafcutter bees tend to be nonaggressive.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

What would a holiday be without a few minor hiccups?

My day was wonderful. Mr. Gaia and the boys woke me up with pancakes (not in bed, but ready for me on the table) and gifts. Wonderful gifts.

Then we left the house to go to the butterfly garden. I looked up the directions last night, but Mr. Gaia didn't look at them saying "I'll check it out tomorrow". Needless to say, he didn't look it up and check it out. So we were stuck with my half-assed remembrance (it's somewhere I don't go so the roads didn't make sense to me and didn't really stick in my mind). We did eventually find it, only to find that right now it's really not much of anything. Not even any real trails to hike (not that we felt up to hiking in the 93F temps).

Okay, so that was a bust. So off to the new birding center. Oops, not open today.

Okay, so let's go to Target and get Oceanus the posterboard he needs for his school project due tomorrow (which he mostly forgot about and I reminded him). He picks out the last blue piece and we make our way to the checkout stand. At the checkout stand, the cashier mauls the poor thing and creases it to hell and back and it won't scan. So she calls for help and then clears our previous purchases out of the register and starts scanning the people behind us. We were in the express lane, so I mostly understand. However, the people behind us kept adding items, two here and two there until there was no end in sight and well after they had called with the correct scan information (or so we assume). At the point where they were adding 5 more items, I looked at the cashier and said "nevermind" and we left. I really do understand her ringing up the next people in line, but when it was clear it was waaaaay more than the 10 items, she should have figured something else out for us, rather than leaving us standing around forever and a day. So we came home and went to our local Target and the things we were going to buy were actually cheaper.

Between Target trips, we went to eat. Oh my goodness. Talk about noisy and crowded and pricy. They added an addition $3/person for the meal (it was a buffet and their normal prices were also posted). This wouldn't have been so bad, except it was the same exact food and it was stale. Yes, stale. It was a chinese buffet and the eggrolls were cold. The wonton soup had no wontons. The fish was ice cold.

But it was still a good day.

The preacher's wife had her twins Thursday. Esther and James were born at 9:39 am and weighed 7lbs4oz and 8lbs3oz respectively. They're absolutely beautiful and healthy as can be. They nurse like champs and adore their older siblings (thank goodness, Marcia (preacher's wife) needs all the help she can get).

Thinking Blogger

Tanya tagged me as a thinking blogger a week ago. I've been thinking about this for the last week. I didn't post much all week - not because of this but because Mr. Gaia was travelling and I'm not good at the single parent gig. It took it all out of me to keep house and hearth together.

Here are the participation rules:
The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote

The hard part is 5 blogs that make me think. Most of the blogs I read get 1000s of hits a day, they won't recognize me at all. The others have already been tagged.

Grace always makes me think. Her recent posts on fire take me back to college and my first summer out of college working for the forest service. I had my red card (for forest fire fighting) except for passing the physical (my resting heart rate was too high to even come close to passing for the physical part).

Tikvahgirl's posts always make me think. She hasn't posted a new post in a while, but I know that it's a busy time of the year for her and when she does post again, it'll be a thought provoking post.

Jenny is a wonderful resource for me. I'm trying to live a life more green and she has so many wonderful ideas.

Mathew draws a 4 frame comic strip that says more in 4 short frames than most people say in 10 pages.

Rani has one of my new favorite blogs. Soon, I'm going to post some pics of some items of clothing I own that I have no idea how to fix/refashion and I hope to goodness she'll weigh in.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Goals update

I'm not going to make my May 15 goal. I'm not terribly short, moneywise, but I am still short. Mr. Gaia is looking into ordering the study materials for his office. I can't push him on it, he wants me to do this, but he can't be pushed. I'm going to move my original goal to June 15.

I should be able to pick up more shops in June because the kids will be staying with their grandparents for that month. Mr. Gaia and I have set a goal of not eating out during the time they're gone, so if a chance comes up, I'll grab a restaurant shop.

My save money for April goals have gone fairly well. I did not use the dryer at all. Mr. Gaia did for his work clothes because they wrinkle so much worse than my work clothes (which are hung up fresh from the washer). I went through the drawers and the cabinets and pulled out all my samples. I have shampoo samples that will last until fall (if not later). I have a ton of lotion samples (and by samples I mean hotel freebies). I don't really use lotion much, so I have no idea what to do with all of this. I didn't, however, get any garden planted.

May is tight because April was expensive. So we're having to watch May as well. June will be much better (with the kids gone, I'll work full time).

I've added some exercise goals (because I now have 2 skirts and 2 pair of slacks I can't wear because they're too tight and I don't have that many clothes). M-W-F I do tricep dips, T-Th-S I do "mountain climbing". Throughout the week I do garden and yard work for about an hour. The next step is to simply stop eating so much. I don't really drink soda any more - just when we eat out, which is rare. I think it's the sweet tea that's doing it. I go through half a gallon of sweet tea every other day. I don't "do" artificial sweeteners (they aren't organic).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Faith the size of a mustard seed

Today was a good day. I slept in while Mr. Gaia worked to prepare yet another side of the house for painting.

When it cooled off, I decided my bok choy had died enough that I could harvest the seeds. Bok choy is in the mustard family. Most of us have heard the bible quote "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed". Let me tell you, they're not the smallest seeds I've seen, but it takes a HUGE lot of them to look like you have any. I gathered enough to have two planting next year. The research I've done indicates the seeds won't need any special treatment.

After I gathered the seeds, I pulled out the plants. I now have a mostly open garden bed. The aphids had been having a field day on the bok choy and it was quite disgusting messing with the stalks. I should have caught some of the ladybugs that were feasting on the aphids and taken them to my poor Bengal Tiger rose in the front yard.

I cleared the johnsongrass out of the main bed I've been working on. There is still one plant that I need to get from the other side of the fence, but I've got to clear the alley area so that I can close the gate to get at it. AND the stupid thing is in the trunk/roots left after an oleander was removed, so it's going to be a pain to remove.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Unloading thoughts

1) When will I figure out what I want to be when I grow up? Mr. Gaia has suggested I look into a master's of biology which is probably offered online. I know I would enjoy the classes, etc, but what would I do with it?

2) Mr. Gaia has found an online degree program he thinks would be great for him - $50,000 plus he would have to travel to the school 2-3x year. Part of me thinks "it's only money" the other part of me thinks "we have 2 kids who will start college 10-12 years from now, if we take on this debt now (and this is almost as much as our first mortgage) how will we possibly help them with their education?"

3) I get a solar oven and we finally get rain. I'm not saying the two events are connected, you understand, but it does stand to reason that our unrelentingly sunny days would suddenly become cloudy days as soon as I need/want sun.

4) Mr. Gaia and I have been married 12 years now. That's a really long time. I'll bet a lot of people are surprised that we're still married (okay, sometimes I am too). We clashed a lot at the beginning as we figured out our respective roles, and we're still working on what roles we play in the partnership, but I think we're probably happier for having hashed out our expectations and desires.

5) I'm tired of my negative self image with my body. I have a healthy weight. Yes, I have some fat around my belly, but some of it is loose skin from carrying big babies. But why did I have to be afflicted with cellulite even when I'm at my thinnest (and have a BMI that sends up alarm bells)?

6) The preacher's wife is "full term" now. She's hit 38 weeks and her OB is pressuring her to have an induction. As uncomfortable as she is (and she is) she's holding strong with the "are my babies okay? Am I okay?" line.

7) My blog's google hits mostly come from people asking "is Michelle Duggar pregnant again?" Well, this is the best source I can find. Their family website is very bare and doesn't say anything at all. Supposedly the new baby (babies?) is (are?) due July 27.

8) Things have been quiet in Bug Hill lately. We're all mostly waiting for the preacher's wife to have her twins. The knitting needles have been flying and the babies have more things than they can ever need - especially in our current heat.

9) While things have been quiet, there was a minor excitement 2 weeks ago in our office. Megan, our office assistant (for lack of a better title) took a pregnancy test at work (this one boggled my mind) and then proceeded to announce her positive result to everyone. She then hared off to Planned Parenthood (I'm still amazed we have a chapter here) and took another test and got prenatal vitamins, etc. She's about 7 weeks now. Geez, I actively denied my pregnancy at work until I was about 15 weeks along and hiding it was getting difficult. She's embraced her pregnancy - she's called in sick several times - once for excessive nausea and once for swollen feet. If she thinks her feet are swollen now, well, it's going to be a loooooong 33 weeks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sun Oven Report

We got it yesterday, but didn't have time to try it out then (and it was a little overcast).

Tonight, we cooked bratwurst in it. Within 30 minutes it was 310F (the outside temp was 89F). This was at 4:30, so not at the sun's full strength.

One mistake we made is that we didn't use a covered pan. The moisture from the bratwurst condensed on the glass lens and blocked some of the sun's rays. The temp dropped to about 210F. They cooked for 1-2 hours (I'll admit it, I took a nap) reaching an internal temp of 150F. The final temp of the oven at 6:30 was 150F.

This was a great success. The brats were moist and well cooked. The next experiment will probably be cornbread. I'm not sure how to handle the covered pan issue, maybe cornbread won't be as big of a deal. Cast-iron isn't the most suitable for a solar-oven, but I'm thinking heating the pan to melt the butter won't use that much energy and once the pan is heated, it will work fine in the solar oven.