August 30, 2004

Worn Out!

I had a weekend to rival those of the Oglesby family. Friday night was okay. We stayed in, had a family movie night and got through a little over half of The Sound of Music before The Boy zonked out. Saturday was the big day.

It is strange how people who never have any social commitments at all can find themselves suddenly innundated with things to do. Social stuff never spaces itself out nicely over several weeks, but instead it happens all at once, so that it cannot be enjoyed and savored at leisure. Saturday morning found us rushing off to the park for a Young Lawyers with Children "picnic" from 10-12. When Justin scheduled that, we had nothing else to do, but decided in August the earlier one gets out to play the better.

That turned out to also be good, because from 12-2 we had a potluck at George's school for everyone that goes there and their families. Waldorf schools like to get people outside into nature as much as possible and this had been scheduled as a picnic, but we'd had rain in the morning and there were still threatening clouds, so they held it indoors. A few people wanted to move it back out when the clouds started disappating, but I was quite glad for the air-conditioning myself.

After the potluck, we went home and then Justin went out to pick his grandmother up at the airport. When they got back, The Girl was napping and The Boy and I went to a birthday party for one of our neighbors.

When I'd put The Girl down for her nap she had some blotches over her eyes, when I got home from the birthday party she had raised blotches all over her face and it looked like she'd gotten a broken nose. Obviously she's allergic to something, but she wasn't having what the nurse termed a "severe reaction" -- she wasn't wheezing or itching, so we gave her Benedryl and just kept an eye on her.

Justin's grandmother took us out for Indian food that night -- Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Sagwala, Biryani and Mango Lassis all around (overwise known as heavenly food). The Girl continued to look like she'd been knocked around, but felt fine.

Sunday morning, she was better, though she kept the slightly bruised look around the eyes. We made it to church on time for once -- had a light lunch and then Justin's aunt and uncle came to get his grandmother and take her home to Kentucky.

They brought us ten cucumbers and almost as many patty-pan squash. We gave most of the cucumbers away at evening worship -- though we optimistically kept four for ourselves. Justin's aunt and uncle are big Atkins-ers and swore that frying the squash up like hashbrowns would result in something almost exactly like potatoes. Not quite, I am here to report. Not that the squash were bad exactly, but they were not hash-browned potatoes and the kids wouldn't have anything to do with them after an initial taste.

Now the week has begun, The Boy is off at Day Two of school and the carpenter is supposed to be here any minute to begin work on putting in our new backdoor. Tomorrow I'll be officially thirty weeks along -- which for those of you not in the know means I'm only tens from my due date. Yikes.

August 27, 2004

Recipe Time

In the midst of moving, I forgot to post a Friday recipe last week, but my Friday recipe sharing is back. The following recipe is my favorite chili, although by many people's standards it doesn't qualify, because it is meatless. I've made plenty of chili con carne both with hunks of steak and ground beef and although I will do almost anything for some good red meat, I happen to like this chili better anyway. The recipe came from a cookbook called Quick and Light and has received just a shade of revision over time.

Black Bean Chili
serves 4

1 cup long-grain rice (I especially like basmati)
¾ teaspoon salt -- divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pickled jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces
14½-ounce can stewed tomatoes (diced tomatoes work just fine too)
2 19-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
5½-ounce can spicy tomato-vegetable juice
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a medium saucepan, bring 2¼ cups of chicken broth or water to a boil. Add the rice and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking over a medium heat. Add green onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until green onions are softened -- about 4 minutes. Add the bell pepper and zucchini and cook until slightly tender -- about 5 minutes.

Stir in the stewed tomatoes, beans, tomato-vegetable juice, cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili is slightly thickened and the flavors have blended, about 7 minutes. Divide the rice among bowls, top with chili, and serve.

August 26, 2004

This or That

Hardback or Paperback -- but I don't really care
Highlight or Underline -- though usually neither
Lewis or Tolkien
E.B. White or A.A. Milne -- Pooh is wonderful and hilarious, but I'll still take Wilbur and Charlotte.
T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings -- neither
Stephen King or Dean Koontz -- neither
Barnes & Noble or Borders -- Our Borders doesn't have a Thomas table, which matters a lot to the little set.
Waldenbooks or B. Dalton
Fantasy or Science Fiction
Horror or Suspense -- neither
Bookmark or Dogear
Large Print or Fine Print
Hemingway or Faulkner
Fitzgerald or Steinbeck
Homer or Plato
Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser
Pen or Pencil -- super-fine point or fountain, thank you.
Looseleaf or Notepad
Alphabetize: By Author or By Title
Shelve: By Genre/Subject or All Books Together
Dustjacket: Leave it On or Take it Off -- I'd leave them on, but my children destroy them.
Novella or Epic
John Grisham or Scott Turrow -- neither
J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket
John Irving or John Updike -- neither
Salman Rushdie or Don Delillo -- neither
Fiction or Non-fiction
Historical Biography or Historical Romance -- I'm a sucker for Regencies.
Reading Pace: A Few Pages per Sitting or Finish at Least a Chapter -- If I don't fall asleep first.
Short Story or Creative Non-fiction Essay
Blah Blah Blah or Yada Yada Yada
“It was a dark and stormy night…” or “Once upon a time…”
Books: Buy or Borrow
Book Reviews or Word of Mouth

picked up from Semicolon via Theosebes

Kid Lit

Well, they are my questions, so I suppose I ought to answer the Thursday Three this week, huh?

1. Who are your three favorite children's authors?
Three is, of course, such a limited number -- why couldn't the author of the questions have asked for the top five or something? Oh right. Nevermind. Anyway, some of my favorites for little kids books (since again the author of the questions was very non-specific and didn't say whether she meant picture books or chapter books or either) are Arnold Lobel, Kevin Henkes, Robert McCloskey. I don't think a good children's author has to also illustrate, but I do think the ones who do both are often some of the best.

2. What are your three favorite children's books? I suppose I could take the easy way out and name books by the authors above, since their books are, of course some of my favorites. Some others I like a lot though -- from my own childhood -- are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, Who's Got the Apple by Jan Loof, and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban. I know I liked all the Frances books as a kid, although my love for this particular one may be more influenced by my adult self. Either way all the books about Frances are wonderful.

3. What children's books would you rather never ever see again?
I know it is near sacrilege to say, but I'm very tired of Goodnight Moon. It isn't one my kids have ever demanded enough for me to have to hide it, but I've never been a big fan. I will also be glad to never again have to read about the adventures of Prudence or Joshua and their new potty, but my reprieve in that area will be a long time away. I've resorted to hiding Richard Scarry's Cars, Trucks and Things that Go and all of Harry Allard's Miss Nelson books, but not because they or so bad or because I never want to read them ever again, but simply because they were requested just a little too often. I let them be found once in a while.

My Mother Callously Abandoned My Brother

Or what The Girl thinks we did this morning.

Marc asks in the comments below, "Does his sister show any signs of missing her brother, or has the concept not sunk in (maybe until after he has been going to school for awhile)?"

The Girl was happy as a clam and saying hello to everyone going to and from the car, but the minute I tried to put her in her seat she began screaming and crying and all the while asking for her brother. Clearly, she thought we'd forgotten him and she didn't want to leave him behind. She's spent the rest of the morning asking if he's hiding. Her world is changing too. Her brother has been there all the time to copy and pick on. Suddenly he's gone sometimes and she had no idea this was coming.

The Big Day

I made it through yesterday morning alright, though I shed a few tears and The Girl announced at least once during breakfast that Mama was "wying." It started pouring rain as we drove away from our house, which suited my mood pretty well. The walk from the farthest parking lot up a hill past a million John Kerry bumper stickers didn't help much, but I started to feel better once we got inside.

The classroom is lovely, and The Boy had a wonderful time playing and running around with the other kids (except for one mean girl who took the bandana away that he was using). He made a playhouse, went outside in the rain and plowed the sandbox with a rake, pretended to be a prince and just bounced around having fun.

I chatted with some of the other moms and even though politically we will never agree, we do share other common ideas and I think we are making a good choice in this school. I still don't know if he'll stay there for real school, but I like what they are doing with the little ones a lot.

Today is the BIG DAY though. Today I take him to school, sign him in and leave. I think The Girl and I will go to the library or something afterward and maybe when I pick him up at lunchtime I'll take him out to eat. If I'm lucky he'll be in his mango lassi requesting mood and not his burger and fries mood. Either way, this is the day of one of the first big separations. My son is growing up. I'm happy, sad, and ambivalent all at once.

August 25, 2004

Yard Signs

We did it. We got a Bush/Cheney yard sign. It actually hasn't made it off the front porch yet, due to a long-winded discussion (who us?) about whether it should be stuck in the tree lawn, hung on the fence or hung on the porch rail, but we have one. I've never actually put a yard sign out before. I had a Bush/Quayle sign in my dorm room that I got when I went to hear Bush the Elder speak in 1992, but I've never put out a sign before where the world at large could see it.

My neighbors with their Kerry signs don't seem to agonize over what people will think of them if they put out a sign. I wonder why I worry so much? Why does putting a political sticker on the back of my car or a political sign in my yard cause me such stress. I want to make my opinions known. I'm not wishy-washy. I've never even understood the concept of the "undecided voter."

And yet here I am, nervous about sticking out a yard sign. What will the neighbors think? "There go the property values -- we have Republicans next door, eeeeeeewwwwww!" Some how I doubt it. Though maybe, since that's sort of my reaction to the opposing side's signs.

But we have the sign. It will be stuck out there somewhere soon. Getting the sign was a hard first step and putting it up for all to see isn't easy either, but it is going up -- eventually.

Taste Test

Kroger semi-sweet chocolate chips are not as tasty as Harris Teeter ones. I don't know what the difference is, but the latter is a whole lot better than the former.

You mean everyone doesn't keep a bag of chocolate chips around to eat by the handful? Never mind.

Isn't It Supposed To Be Easier With One?

As I've been thinking about The Boy heading off to school, I've been trying to look on the bright side. It occurred to me, for instance, that I can now run almost all my errands with just one child in tow (that is until around November). Unfortunately, that happy thought was quickly followed by the realization that I'll still be running all the errands with the child who makes running errands difficult.

The Girl is a regular Houdini and has been extracting herself from every strap and buckle (except fortunately her carseat) since she was six months old. We regularly have spent meals with her standing in the high chair, because at least she was eating and not climbing onto the table (which of course she also does on a regular basis during meals). She twists her way out of the five-point stroller harness and shopping carts can't hold her -- she frequently will tire of Mommy's shopping games, distractions and snacks, stand up in the moving cart and make a flying leap at me. At least, I know her tricks and know to watch her. If anyone else took her shopping, I fear she'd be taking a flying leap at the floor.

So as you can see, shopping will probably not get any easier just because I only have one kid in tow. In fact, when the baby is born, I think I may just decide not to leave the house unless all the children can stay behind or I can bring adult back-up along with me.

School Days

The Boy really starts preschool tomorrow, but today we have a couple hours where we can take him to meet his teachers again, meet his classmates (and we can meet their parents) and we can drop off forms and all the spare clothing he needs.

I've mentioned before on other iterations of Curmudgeonry that school has never been on the radar for me. I've planned to homeschool and have been thinking and preparing for that. But a certain little boy had his heart set on a real school (even now he's not sure this qualifies because they don't have a school bus) and I began to realize that with my high maintenance daughter and another baby coming along, this might be the time to consider getting one of them out of the house.

Even I'm excited about his schooling, although I can't quite imagine days without him around me. He'll be playing, doing crafts, and other simple things. He's thrilled that they'll be doing some sewing and woodworking, and I'm pretty sure he's going to love it. He's asked me a million times about all that he'll learn in school.

And so, the clothes are gathered together, we're ready to go to the school and tomorrow my big, little, teeny-tiny, baby boy will be going off to school. Separation is coming hard for one of us, but I'll be ok.

August 24, 2004

A Hero and Honor

The Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady has written a superb piece on honor, character and why it matters.

Four months of service doesn’t make him qualified for anything, although the lessons learned in that four months might speak to the man he has become. But Kerry doesn’t speak in terms of lessons learned, or anything at all that reflects a shred of humility. He speaks like that kid we all knew in school who could only talk about himself, who – we suspected – made up stories so he’d sound more important, so that he would be the center of attention.

A Door! A Door! A Door For My Kingdom!

It has only been a month or so, and we hate to rush into anything, but the cardboard over the broken pane on our back door is looking a little ragged. After getting prices from almost every door and window place in town and realizing we really did not want to take out a loan for a door nor spend everything we have in savings for one, we decided against all the ones that had everything we wanted.

The carpenter we've used before came over yesterday, gave us an estimate right within the expected range and told us that should his other project end on time, he could get to us this week. We went out an bought this door today. With certainty, we are not getting a wonderful door, but after all the looking and worrying, getting a fairly inexpensive door was the first option Justin and I both felt at peace with.

We don't want to spend oodles of money on that kind of thing and we don't have oodles to spend even if we wanted to. Going into debt for a door seemed insane to us. I'm really pleased with this route and I can't wait to have a non-rotting, non-cardboard covered backdoor. And in the end, that's really the main thing I care about.


I like comic books -- if you count Disney comics, Tintin and Asterix as comic books. If you are one who considers only superhero comics to pass muster, then I'm left out in the cold. I've never gotten into any of them, and my husband isn't really all that big a fan either, although he's read a lot more than I have and likes them more than I do. Still he wanted to watch the X-Men movies, and so I put my name on the library's hold list and waited for them to eventually get to me.

As with many movies we check out that hold no interest for me, I planned to just go to sleep while these were playing. Unfortunately for my intended night of rest, they turned out to be really engaging, fun films that I could enjoy watching even though I'd never read an X-Men comic in my life. It didn't hurt, of course, that Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) is quite easy on the eyes, but goofy as movies of this genre can be, I really liked these.

As I've heard everyone say, the second movie is a little better than the first -- more plot and action, but the first isn't a bad flick. I didn't feel like I'd wasted hours of my life watching either of them. And really any movie with Captain Picard and Gandalf in it can't be that bad.

I'm looking forward to X-Men 3 and maybe I'll even get around to seeing it in a more timely fashion. Who knows -- I might even consider going to see it in the theater!

August 23, 2004


My son has become a worrier. He is the oldest child and feels a large amount of responsibility just about everything. He's also one to ponder all sorts of situations and I never know what kind of question will come out of him next.

Recently though, he's become obsessed with "safe jobs". No longer does he want to be a fireman, policeman or soldier when he grows up. He found out that they sometimes die and he wants no part of that. So we'll be driving along and I'll hear, "How could you die if you were a lawyer/store clerk/vet/carpenter/etc. ?"

Every time, I want to cuddle him up and remind him that his time to worry about such things is far away. While something could happen at any time, worrying about it at the tender age of four doesn't help and I try to remind him that his current job is to figure out what he loves to do and that some how from that he'll probably be able to figure out what he wants to do -- in about 18 years.

Still he worries, considers and discards new professions daily, and I do wonder if he needs to consider a job as an actuary. That way he'd get the answers to compare the mortality rates of everything else -- plus I somehow doubt the mortality rate of actuaries is all that high.

August 21, 2004


It is almost Fall and almost time to think about planting bulbs for next year. I know I actually already have a lot, but we added a big flower bed in the backyard and I know some of my tulips, at least, will be missing, because a few disappear every year.

So, when I got a catalog in the mail the other day from Brecks with a $20 coupon on the front -- as in if you order less than $20 they charge you nothing, I was definitely pleased. My neighbor gets a lot of her bulbs from them, so I figured it was worth a try.

The hard part was choosing and I would have loved to order just about everything in the catalog, but I did narrow down my selections, though not to under $20. I finally got some pink daffodils (something I'd never seen before), some drumstick allium and some fancy looking tulips . I'm excited for them to get here sometime in September and even more excited to see how they do next Spring.

The next step is going to my next door neighbor's and dividing all the daffodils he said I could have. They'll help fill in the new backyard bed nicely.

August 20, 2004

Thank Goodness for People with a Plan

My neighborhood is "in transition" supposedly, but although some houses are pretty crummy, most are nice and getting nicer. In the two years we've lived here, most houses that are renovated have gotten priced beyond what we could afford if we were out house-hunting now.

Our house was remodelled before the current trend started and isn't as fancy or as historically accurate as the houses that are being fixed up now, but we hear quite often from our neighbors that this place used to be a dump. We never knew quite what they meant until one of our neighbors dug up some photos he'd taken before some guys with a lot of guts and a vision for bringing an old house back to life bought this place about 14 years ago for around $13,000.

So here's what the place looked like when it was occupied by a 90-something year old whose family obviously didn't feel like caring for her or her house very well.

front of house (small).jpg

And here's what we have now.

house current.jpg

We'd love to add more gingerbread and put something other than vinyl siding (there is nothing underneath ours though and from the before picture you can tell it wouldn't be worth having if it were there) on, but what a difference! Even though I know it is "the same" house, it sure has changed. I like to think we've done our part to make it even better and since we plan never to move we'll have a long time to make improvements.

I Feel So New At This

My archives aren't here yet, but I'll move them eventually. Until then, I feel like I have a virgin blog -- although Curmudgeonry has been around for two-and-a-half years now.

Like many blogs, Curmudgeonry began on Blogspot, although my husband began using the name for a column he wrote in a college journal. Then after a little over a year on Blogspot, I was offered a chance to move to MT, which was wonderful until I came home from a Fourth of July vacation this summer to find I had no blog left. The fellow who had been hosting my blog and several others had summarily pulled the plug, giving no one a chance to save archives, templates or anything else.

I considered just stopping entirely and doing something else with my time, but I found reading other people's blogs wasn't enough. My fingers were still itching to type out my own thoughts, however insignificant. So, I moved back to Blogspot and saved all the Google cache that I could find from my MT archives.

A very kind, although she probably wouldn't like being known as such, blogger suggested Curmudgeonry for inclusion in the Mu.Nu ranks and many template errors and other snafus later, here I am. I just don't want to have to move this thing again -- okay?