March 2007


Most of the trees are getting new leaves now, though not all.   Our syrup-maple is still bare, the miserly maple is full of tiny, tiny leaves, and the other two maples are somewhere in between those two.

Along the highway the trees make the patchwork-quilt look, as with fall foliage, only a different color scheme.   The pines make a dark dark green, against which the pale green of new leaves stands out so vividly, and then for accent there are the whites and pinks and lavenders of the flowering trees, and an occasional deep red which I haven’t quite identified — possibly fall color left from last year.  A number of our trees (such as our miserly maple, though usually maples aren’t this way) don’t seem to lose last year’s leaves until this years leaves arrive.

In addition to making a striking backdrop, the pines are also doing the work for which the are famous, coating all the world with yellow pollen.  Since my return from Las Vegas the layer of bright yellow dust has been gradually increasing — South Carolina is usually not a dusty place, but once a year we make up for it.   People who wash their cars are driven to distraction, and people like me discover the importance of wiper-fluid when we try to get a view out the front windshield. 

The table on the patio has turned from gray to yellow, and then winds late this week re-arranged all the pollen into interesting snow-drifty patterns.   Light rain Thursday gave us a little yellow lake right outside the van door, though by some miracle I managed to get the kids out of the car without any of them splashing through it. 

Looks like we had more rain last night, because now the pollen is all concentrated in cracks in the driveway.  Might be time to uncover the patio furniture and enjoy the sudden turn back to cooler weather.

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Somebody tell me:  Do firefighters really rescue stranded pets from trees?

On Curious George this morning, we saw once again that favorite theme in early-childhood fiction, The Pet Stuck In The Tree.    I’ve read, and now seen, quite a few children’s works featuring The Pet In The Tree, but never in my real life have I heard of firefighters, or rescue workers of any kind, rescuing a pet from an ordinary stuck-in-tree scenario.  In the midst of a flood, sure.   But not just a case of Miffy (or, on this morning’s show, Sharky) climbing too high and now afraid to get down.   I’ve never even heard of a pet who actually climbed up a tree and couldn’t get down.

Does this happen?  Or is it merely a popular early-childhood literary device?  Do share, lest I be forced to google for an answer.

****

Meanwhile all can breathe easy knowing our long stretch of unschooling came to end this morning. Woohoo!  I’m determined to be good and consistent with the formal lessons, what with our recent string of interruptions.  Frankly anymore I just never know what kind of phone call I’ll get.  I’m basking in normalcy today.

Also, think I forgot to mention in my previous post: Dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom.  As is the neighbor’s ornamental cherry tree, which is what provides shade for our castle on long summer afternoons.

Days are getting right warm — this afternoon we were sitting on the back porch, and had to retreat to the still-cool house lest we fall asleep.  The little plum trees are starting to lose their blossoms, and are covered in new leaves; the apple tree has not yet bloomed but is getting ready to do so.  A few weeks ago our jonquils bloomed, but those flowers are long-gone, thanks to an industrious toddler.  The reckless bulbs have given us no clue as yet to their identity (wish I could remember), and thinking of it, our miscellaneous daffodils are up but not blossoming, not sure what that is about. 

In the vegetable garden the mystery green — arugula, maybe? — that volunteered this winter is now resplendent with long long stems and lovely petite white flowers.  At its foot is a tiny patch of volunteer lettuce which got bitter a month or more ago.  Birds are more or less done with the basil, lantana and pepper seed pods I left out this winter, so it’s about time to finally clear out the stalks.

Pansies are holding their own in the castle yard, though something else — a pretty little weed with lacy greenery and tiny flowers — has blossomed with them in the one planter.  Garlic bulbs planted who knows how long ago are now up and grassy next to one of the other pansy zones. 

The birds have gotten the hang of the new feeder, and squirrels have contented themselves to what falls on the ground.  Despite having told Mr. Boy it is open season on yard rodents, so far the squirrels are still quite safe. 

Up front the hollies are in bloom — by "in bloom" I mean with the miniscule yellow flowers that will give us next winter’s berries — and the bumblebees are happy.  Children are less happy, as they have to cross the bee zone to get to their bicycles.  Something to know is that if you have both holly bushes and toddlers, if you prune the holly right after it blossoms, you will not get berries the next year.  Bummer for the birds, but eliminates the berry-poisoning hazard.  

Wasps are also getting busy.  Fire ants, too.  Chemical warfare seems to be the only solution for those two. 

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my mother, Mrs. H, who passed away last week.  Baby & I flew out for the funeral, it was good.  Superhusband kept the other kids, and maintained his SuperReputation in the process.  SB & I are home again, and my to-do list is approximately 25.5 inches long; includes "plant garden?", but not "blog".  Still, I might slip some comments in here or there when I get a chance.  Really want to talk for a minute about the parish where the funeral was held, and the fantabulous Fr. M who totally has my number, we’ll see how things go.
Now going to put kids into shower and then into bed.  Happy Weekend.

Tonight I de-cluttered the fabric bins.  "Reduced" the spouse’s and my fabric inventory by 50%. 

Depression-era types that we are, neither the SuperHusband nor myself find it easy to throw away *perfectly good* scraps of fabric.  You might, um, need them for something.   So we save them for, you know, someday.

Finally, someday is here!  We have children!!  I can give *them* the scraps of fabric.  And they actually do need them for something.  Usually for building tents in the backyard, plus devising the odd belt, sheath or veil, and every now and then sewing up a garment for a plush toy or 11-inch fashion doll.

It is the most wonderful thing.  I put the scraps in *their* bin.  They take them out and "make" things.  Sooner or later their creations biodegrade enough that I can actually bring myself to throw them away.   No matter how many scraps I send them, they keep their bin 70% full.  Miraculous.

. . . and it bites.   Took a short walk this evening, came home with smattering of itchy bug bites.   Note to self: do not let the azalea blossom fool you, the seasons really are changing.   We’d been in denial, what with only have three or four weeks of wintry weather this year.

It’s also "spring" cleaning time.  More accurately, this is summer, fall, and winter cleaning, hurriedly stashed behind closed doors in desperate moments, now patiently waiting to be finally put away.  Or given away.  Or thrown away. 

Went to the library yesterday and stocked up on educational videos, and then went to Aldi today and filled the freezer with convenience foods.  Between those two I can re-direct an extra couple of hours each day to paying back my cleaning debt, and hopefully keep my sanity and finish the taxes, too.  By Thursday, if possible.  <insert manic laughter>

But I did get two long-looming closets under control today, so there is hope.  Maybe by  Easter.  Or Pentecost.   But seriously I’m aiming for Easter.

We’re confirmed Curious George fans around here.  I always did like the books, and then when the PBS series came out last summer, we were hooked from the outset.  While we were in Las Vegas we saw the new ("new") movie for the first time, the second time, the third time, the fourth time, etc.

This morning on PBS was the episode where George goes camping.  A timely episode, as we are now gearing up for camping season ourselves.  Spring and Fall are the best times for camping in South Carolina, in my opinion, though if you are used to the SC heat, then the mountains of North Carolina are just lovely even in the middle of the summer.  (Test:  Can you say "It’s only 90!" and mean it?)

George went tent camping with the Man with the Yellow Hat.  That is how I camped growing up.  Then he went camping with the doorman and Hunley the door-dog, this time with an Airstream-style camper. This is how we "camp" now, though our camper is about 40 years older than the one on the show, and has no microwave.

Reality check: I don’t think you could power a microwave with the solar panel shown on the cartoon.  A toaster, though, I bet.  We have not gone solar ourselves yet, but the resident technical guy reminds me frequently that solar cells only make so much power.

But what was absolutely true to life on the show is that when you take a camper, you are not camping.  It camps for you.  The SuperHusband is busy building  a bunk for our little unit, as our family size has doubled since we first went over to the dark side and became camper people.  We probably won’t get out on our first trip until mid-April, which is when most of the mountain campgrounds open up. 

Works out well, since March promises to be a busy month for us.  Still haven’t finished the taxes.  Note: remember to claim your long-distance telephone excise-tax refund.   The IRS website is reporting that many people are forgetting to claim this.   Visit the IRS website (www.IRS.gov) for details.  Checked my 1040 booklet and the line item was there, so you can just follow the instructions.  (Line 71 on the 1040 form.)   I’m no fan of growing tax forms, and all the bureaucracy that lies behind it.   But there it is, an easy $60 for us.  Nice little bit of camping money.

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