Archive for the 'doings' Category

Summery! Sort of…

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The monkey grows; observe the evidence.

Last year we spent most of our home-owner energies making the inside of the house pleasant; this year, we’ve been focusing on the outside. I dreamed up the elaborate and non-standard fence situation you see in the back in exchange for a rusty, ivy-encrusted old chain link nastiness, which we ripped out and drove to the scrapyard for real cash money. It’s a mad world. Joshua nay-sayed my fence every step of the way but I prevailed and I think it turned out pretty nice looking. He even helped build it. Best part is I got a table saw out of the deal.

If fence building wasn’t making my spring awesome enough, I personally excavated a giant hole and leveled a large area for some garden beds. I decided we could turn the hole into a dry well, but it turns out that it held water too well and we had to fill it back in. But not before we terrified all the neighbors’ kids with tales of falling into the hole; Hans’ dog Otto actually fell into the hole and Ronin got hit in the head with a rock while standing in the hole. I’m not sure what it is about a yawning abyss in one’s backyard that creates such a focal point.

To make up for all the back-breaking labor I was missing out on by not finishing the dry well, I removed sod from an area the size of a small house and then excavated the rotting cinder-block foundation of an ancient garage. It was super fun. We even got some Craigslist crazies to come take the foundation blocks away! One guy even came back for seconds.

At long last, garden beds were erected, retaining walls retained, and a quaint brick walkway assembled around everything to keep the mud at bay. The walkway is comprised of bricks I got for free from some dude dismantling his chimney; they were all crusted with 90-year old mortar that I had to chip off with a really big screwdriver. Because nothing ever can possibly be simple. Or easy.

Finally we got a load of nice clean nice composty dirt (six yards!) and wheelbarrowed it all over the place. We now have a garden with tomatoes (five different ones!), cucumbers, zucchini, yellow and green patty-pan squashes, asparagus, rhubarb, peas, lettuce greens, arugula, and fennel! Yay!

Summer is gone and we never posted anything about it

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Well, basically what it says above. Ronin has grown like 7 feet, weighs in at a whopping 30 pounds, and can read simple words when she’s feeling obliging. She is intensely willful and inordinately contrary. We like to say that she inherited the contrary gene from her great-grandma Nikki. She loves to sing and is constantly making up songs about random things, like a little mosquito, a bird flying to its nest, a little blue car.. She makes up unusual melodies and even attempts to rhyme her verses. Driving in the car on short trips around town is no longer fraught with peril; she sits tight, sings herself a song, and most importantly, stays awake (usually).

Summer was brief and very mild. I didn’t get my tomatoes into the ground until June and they are just now fruiting (but they are fruiting lots). I also tried to grow arugula and as soon as the plants got large enough that I felt I wouldn’t be depriving them of their only mature leaves to make my salad, they all bolted. Lame!

Earthday: Ronin danced with the hippies and rolled in the grass.

Ronin and the other kids peeking at Kricket in her caterpillar puppet.

I painted a little snake on her arm. What then followed was an introverted hour of intense concentration while she carefully picked all the paint off with her fingernails. Temporary tattoos are also far more temporary than they should be where Ronin is concerned.

Hiking in Forest Park. Ronin wanted up.

Our summer was really very low key, yet we kept very busy. We went to the river or lake, hiked in the woods, and biked around our new section of town to one of the many different parks. We did a lot of cooking and eating al fresco while the kitchen was dismantled. Here I am cooking a caramel custard on the back patio amidst the construction debris.

Ronin finally got her bunkbed. It took us long enough. We were given this one by Joshua’s mom, who used to use it in her classroom for puppet shows. It’s way sturdier than the IKEA one and we didn’t have to monkey with it to get rid of the lower bunk. Unfortunately, it had been stored in her garage for two years and had some mildew on it. I scrubbed it and dried it well before we assembled it in Ronin’s bedroom but by the time we got it together, both of us were coughing, had tight throats, and just general allergy-yuck symptoms. So, to Ronin’s intense and vocal disappointment (we felt so bad), we took it apart and brought it back outside, where we stewed over what to do with it. In the end, I sanded the entire thing, sanded away all mildewy spots, and then lacquered it with many coats of the stuff I finished the floor in the kitchen with. It no longer smells and it looks quite nice. We got it back up in Ronin’s room soon thereafter and she LOVES it.

Bunny and Nigel love it.

All the guys got to sleep in it the first couple of nights. Now she’s back down to Nigel and sometimes one other guy.

Underneath is a little playhouse. We have curtains that enclose it and I thought I could cut little windows, a door, and paint cute things on it.

She has never before shown any sort of irrational fear to anything but just lately she has voiced some concern about a moose in the walls. Also a knocking in the bathroom closet. Neither of us are sure where this came from. She always wants us to open the closet so she can look inside (there’s a toilet plunger in there, which I suppose is scary in its own right). It was bound to start at some point I suppose, but still, we’re trying to figure out how best to respond so that that they fade rather than grow more intense.

Joshua signed her up for a gymnastics class and she loved it. She is strong and fearless (when it doesn’t involve moose) and can hang on a bar almost indefinitely. She likes the bars and the “balance bean.” We originally thought we would put her in ballet since she’s still mad about it but the ballet classes seem to be less structured for this age group. Maybe when she’s a little older.

Voodoo Lily

Monday, June 27th, 2011

We had these crazy plants spring up out of nothing right after we moved in. They grew insanely fast and had cool succulent-like speckly patterned stalks and wavy fanned leaves. The neighbor told us to “pull it out; the flowers smell really bad.” We have one in the front next to our steps and if I pulled it out, it would have revealed the unattractive rhododendron stump and some ancient paint chips, probably loaded with poisonous lead. I made the conclusive choice to leave the plants be when I saw baby ones at a local nursery. I figured that if people paid big bucks for the things, they have to be good.

They grew tall. They grew lushly. Then they started to form long flower spikes. OH BOY!

Very body-snatcher looking.

And finally, it opened!

I at last looked them up and they are Dracunculus Vulgaris, commonly called “Voodoo Lily,” among many other names (that’s the coolest so we’ll stop there). The flies, as you can see, love them.

And it really does stink. Everything I’ve read about them say that the smell lasts a day and then goes away but they lie, unless there is another bloom hidden in the foliage there somewhere. It’s been days and I still catch wafts of it now and again from across the yard. It does savage battle with the neighbor’s giant honeysuckle on a nightly basis (planted, no doubt, to counteract the decaying varmint smells coming from my yard). I thought about cutting off the drooping flower but then I saw how it was supposed to mature into these big orangy berry things, and now I have to wait it out. The one by my front door just went off yesterday so we’ve kept the door shut. The mail lady probably thinks a raccoon croaked under my front porch.

In very pleasant-smelling flowerdom, allow me to introduce the pale pink/yellow peony:

which smells awesome, and the dark pink, which smells curiously like chocolate peppermint:

Medicine Crow

Monday, May 9th, 2011

This weekend we went to a bird festival/show/thing in the rain at Sellwood park. When it really started to pour, all the children crowded under the craft tent to color bird masks and wings. Ronin colored her mask and called it “Medicine Crow.” We looked at each other all, huh. I have no idea where she heard that but I’m guessing there must be a northwest coast native storybook at her preschool with similar artwork. Crazy!

Perhaps two or three times per day she’ll dress up as the Medicine Crow and run around the house for maybe two minutes. Then she deposits the wings and mask somewhere inconvenient and goes off to make more messes.

The wings are still in the process of being colored. The detail though has been rendered in blue glitter, which falls off everywhere she goes with the wings. Of all the debris I find myself digging out of the rugs, couch, and various crevices of the house, glitter is by far the least annoying. Rather pleasant really.


Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The bathroom is almost done, I think. Everything seems to be just about ready to be finished except that it is waiting on some other really minor thing that probably involves a trip to Lowes to buy some lame part that they probably won’t have (but Home Depot might). We can at least take showers now. That happened only a few days ago.

In other non-construction-related news, Ronin desperately wants a bunkbed. Like, she has never actually really wanted anything before in her life, mostly because her attention span has generally been acute and fleeting. However, she has fixated on the bunkbed and talks about it at length. Repeated trips to Ikea in futile attempt to purchase things they are always out of does not help any (the bunkbed in question is from Ikea, naturally).

We are not too worried that she’ll fall out in the night; she has managed to grow into a fairly low-key sleeper, astoundingly enough. We thought we might remove the bottom bed and make a play-house for her instead. She would LOVE that, and how adorable would that be anyway?!

In the end, we set up a chart on the refrigerator with spaces for 21 stickers. At the end of each day if she is non-combatant about dinner and eats—nay, acknowledges or even just licks—one or more of the vegetables on her plate, and if she gets ready for bed without a major meltdown, we declare the day a raging success and she can pick out a sticker to stick on the chart.

She is beside herself with excitement over the chart but I’m not entirely sure she really gets the concept. She has never been one to be swayed much by bribery. We’ll see how it goes.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell