November 2006


Dymphna’s Well (  My very tired brain is not mustering much to say tonight, so time for another link.  And all I can think to say about it, is that it’s just this nice blog.  Run by one of the ladies from the NFP forum, and a reliable source of catholic inspiration.  Just nice.  Go visit.


And, ahem, here is how I rationalized having our Christmas tree up before it was even Advent, responding to the "Just Wait" post at Dymphna’s Well:

1. Advent is awfully short this year.  I’m sure we can hang on to our festiveness through Epiphany even with the tree up at least a week early.
2.  The SuperHusband brought it home and set it up.  With the kids.  What was I going to do?
3.  It’s a pretend tree.  Just the thing if you’re pretending the holidays are here when they are not.
4.  We haven’t decorated it yet.  So that counts for something, right?



I did finally re-fill the bird feeder, but in the meantime I discovered that my slothfulness was not causing bird starvation.  On the contrary, it appears my slothfulness has been a veritable feast for birds and other small creatures.  What happened is this:

About a month ago, we got a good frost.  The tomatoes died once and for all, and so did the lantana.  I made a note — perhaps even reported in this very blog? — to clear away the dead matter.  And I left it at that.  Just a note, no actually pulling up of brown withered plants.  Bad gardener, no biscuit. 

But, it turns out birds like lantana berries.  They also like something or another in the dead tomato vines — possibly the frostbitten tomatoes, possibly the insects that feed on frostbitten tomatoes, who knows.   They also like crepe myrtle seed pods, and they like to hide in the miscellaneous bushes and weeds growing up on the perimeter of the garden area.  Squirrels, too, like all this stuff.  It seems to me that squirrels are kind of bird-wannabe animals.  Can’t blame them.

Now the good news is that I’m all inspired to plant even more bird-friendly vegetation.  It’s just so exciting to finally have someone who is enthusiastic about the meager produce of our garden.  The bad news is that dead tomato vines do not fall under that category of plants that can be considered "winter interest".   So I did finally  pull those up, re-filled the bird feeder, and made a note to figure out some different plants to feed the birds with next winter. 

Other garden notes:

  • The remaining marigolds have finally died their natural death. 
  • Pansies are going strong despite no applications of Pansy Food.  
  • The peas are sprouting here and there, but growing very slowly. 
  • I am unable to remember what else I meant to plant this fall, but whatever it was, I didn’t plant it. 
  • Holly bushes are full of berries; due to a toddler in the house, there will be no bringing in of clippings this year.  Phoning poison control is not a festive activity. 
  • The garlic that was growing so well in my fridge (inspiring me to finally put it in the dirt) has gone into hibernation. 
  • The rogue sunflower sprouts are not yet dead, we are watching in earnest to see what becomes of them.


You’d think King Friday were going to show up any minute.  We have a pretend castle (the green one) in the backyard.  We have a pretend fireplace in the living room.  And yesterday, after years of agonizing over the live-versus-artificial debate (my vote: Christmas Philodenron)  Mr. SuperHusband came home with a pretend Christmas tree.

I draw the line, however,  at the can of pine-scent spray.


Today and yesterday have been just gorgeous, with clear mild weather perfect for visiting family.  Did the tour of relatives’ homes for Thanksgiving, and today had an outing to Riverbanks Zoo with the SuperBrother, a SuperNeice and SuperNephew.  Wednesday, on the other hand, was something else entirely.

LP made her ballet debut this week as a mouse in a local production of the Nutcracker.  It was dark with a steady rain and not very many degrees out, but Wednesday was the $5 matinee, so it was our big chance to have the whole family go see her perform.  After the first act, Bun, Budget & I made our escape.  We’d seen our mouse in action, and all three of us were getting rather fidgety.

The van was parked on the other side of Lake Erie, and neither Bundle nor myself were wearing waterproof footwear.   There was nothing for it, so I encouraged her with a rousing chorus of the Splashing In The Puddles refrain, and the two of us marched ankle deep in near-freezing water.  Bun wasn’t convinced that this was recreation, and for all know, she, too, was offering up her suffering for those who spend the winter with inadequate footwear.  But the sensation of wading in icy water reminded me of another walk I’d taken years ago.

The SuperHusband and I spent one of our early anniversaries visiting Zion National Park, one our favorite places on earth.  The day of our anniversary we hiked in to The Subway, a full day of hard hot hiking in, through, and out of a mostly-dry river bed.   Worth it, but demanding.  Sore feet.  The next day we rented gear from a local outfitter, and hiked into Zion Narrows.  To do this you must wade thigh-deep in the creek itself, fed by snowmelt.  It is a stunning walk, with tall sculpted walls towering above on either side.  The rented waders kept us dry, and after the previous day’s hike, it was a good thing to essentially be icing our legs several hours.

I was struck by how that sensation of wading through icy water had remained with me so powerfully so many years later.   I would never have guessed that a cold rainy day in the southeast, trudging several blocks through downtown with baby and toddler, would remind me of a hike on a clear sunny day in a desert canyon.  But there it was. 


Snow would be too good to be true, though reportedly my father-in-law had a little snow in Charleston this morning..  But it was awfully blustery when I pushed LP out to her carpool, and my thoughts did turn to the possibility of wintery precipitation.  Now the air is filled with that special sleet sound, sort of a tinkle or a tap.  Mr. Boy is playing outside on the castle, and dutiful homeschooling mother that I am, I had to go outside and tell him what it was.  "Weather and Seasons", after all, is one of the items on our curriculum this year.

With camping season over, we’ve pulled the airstream home for the winter, and it’s parked outside my office window.  Now I’ve got a pot of coffee freshly brewed, the pretend fireplace lit, and I can sit back and rock a baby and watch the sleet bounce off the camper roof.  Ahhh.

It's just acting like one.  Been a busy week here at the
castle.  Thursday evening I got to meet a longtime internet
friend.  Always an interesting experience.  It's one thing I
have in common with my mother — we both have been involved in internet
communities that have spawned “real life” friendships.  I was
talking to Mom  yesterday (pray for her, she is out of the
hospital but convalescing at the nursing home this week, hoping to be
home for Thanksgiving), and we were sharing our experiences.  We
both have been pleasantly surprised at how much our own husbands have
enjoyed meeting the husbands of our internet friends.

To me the most interesting thing is the way cyber-friendships — the
really good ones — reverse the usual order of things.  The usual
first impressions become the last things discovered, as you get to know
the person from the inside out.    The cyber-identity
gets a new depth and clarity when you see the real person behind the
opinions experiences expressed online.

Meeting my friend Charity has been kind of like the first time I saw Garrison Keillor on TV.  I had listented to Prairie Home Companion
for years, and knew his voice as a writer so well I could identify it
even when seen out of context.  I had formed an image in my head
of this radio voice, and the one on TV is not the image I had
formed.  To this day, my brain still battles with seeing my
imaginary Garrison Keillor, versus what I have now seen with my eyes
and know to be the true one. 

In the same way, the funniest thing happened when Charity came
over.  Although I have seen a couple photos of her online, they
didn't convey quite the real thing.  When she came over Thursday
night, it was kind of an “aha!” moment, and I was so happy to see that
the real Charity was an even more wonderful friend than Internet
Charity.  But she was only able to stay a few hours, and I
discovered the next day that I was having a hard time holding on to the
memory of the real Charity's voice and face and way of being, because
these new memories have to compete with six years of my imagination
filling in those details as I read her posts in our many common
cyber-haunts.  Luckily we were able to get together one more time,
and I made a point of trying to cement some real-life images in my
head, so that from now on as I read her posts,  I can imagine the
real Charity instead of the pretend one.

Bundle is 2.5 now.  Tonight I
realized she had hit a major milestone: she can sit and listen to an
entire big-kids story.  Green Eggs and Ham yesterday, If You Take a Mouse to School today.  No more speedy flipping through a board book.  But the most fun was last week, when LP “read” Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
to Bun.  Being still firmly in the apprentice-readers category
(she knows her name and the words “mom” and “dad”), LP confused Brown Bear with its cousin book Polar Bear . . . What Do You Hear?.  The result was really very good.  Eric Carle should consider a re-write.

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