Monthly Archives: November 2011

Too Much Time On My Hands.

Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, we begin our mad rush to Christmas.

For us, that means endless orchestra / Fiddler performances for Laurel, including the next two weekends plus two mid-week performances; Laurel’s ACT test; a work event for Greg; getting the Christmas tree; shopping; and putting up Christmas lights.

Maybe we’ll get to that last one this year, maybe not. Yesterday afternoon I was betting we might not, with all our other obligations and the weather, so I decided to take it upon myself to at least decorate the back deck. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning, but as the afternoon wore on and the wind picked up, it got blustery and cold, cold, cold. I had just about had it. My fingers were frozen, raw, and sore from untangling lights and affixing clips to the deck. My nose was running like a faucet. But then inspiration struck.

I ran downstairs and out the basement door. On my way, I decided I needed to move the chicken coop. As I was moving the pen, I felt something on my leg – a repeated drumming. It didn’t hurt, but it was one heck of a strange sensation. I glanced back – I had my back to the chickens – and I’ll be damned if that rooster Clyde wasn’t attacking me over and over. It was as though he was repeatedly chest-bumping my leg with a few good wing-flaps thrown in for good measure. I gave him a couple of half-hearted, gentle nudges with my foot to discourage him.

Clyde was undeterred.

He continued his insurgency, so I responded with a good sound kick that sent him tumbling across the pen.

My counterstrike addled him just enough to get the pen moved where it needed to be. Clyde recovered quickly, then redoubled his efforts and did his best to attack me through the pen’s fence.


So Clyde may not be long for this world. I have little patience for violence in most circumstances, but I sure as hell will not deal with it from an animal I have cared for since it was a baby.

* * *

After dispensing with our civil war, I continued my quest. About 30 minutes later (or so), it was complete:

festive coop


Still Going Strong.

This morning’s harvest from the garden:

morning harvest

I spent the morning re-burying the fig trees, covering the strawberries, and generally winterizing the crops. I can safely say this is the first year I’ve had generous crop harvests this far into November. Yay!

Everyone Loves a Parade.

For years now, I’ve wanted to attend the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade, but either the weather was awful or we were cooking for a noon meal or things just didn’t work out. I didn’t think we were going to go this year, either. However, the week before Thanksgiving, we missed a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks (along with many other families) because the published time was a half-hour later than the time the organization actually performed the ceremony. As is my way, I complained, and when I complained I went straight to the top, firing off an e-mail directly to the organization’s chairman, who graciously offered us VIP admission for the Thanksgiving parade to make up for our huge disappointment the week before.

We couldn’t pass it up.

We were treated to a continental breakfast in the Old Courthouse, followed by preferred seating on the parade route right where the local TV station was filming – which meant we got to hear all the bands play!

So thank you, Christmas in St. Louis, for taking a very unfortunate and disheartening situation and turning it around for us. Kudos to you and organizations like yours who really walk the walk when you try to make people happy.

Here are the photos – there are many of them. Many:

waiting02-Here it comes03-Garfield04-All Smiles05-Louie the Lightning Bug06-Rocky Squirrel07-Bagpipes08-Cow Jumped Over the Arch09-Tractors10-Giant Schnucks Cart11-Train12-Shriners13-Lobbying for Candy14-Rudolph15-Big Trucks16-Park Service, I think17-I have no idea18-More Shriners19-Frosty20-Salvation Army Band21-Fire Truck Brigade22-The Christmas Story  Lamp!23-Nutcracker24-USO25-TV Cue Card Guy doing his thing26-Skating Santa27-Still more Shriners28-Santa29-Santa Close-Up

Ethan Gives Thanks.

Unbeknownst to me, Ethan’s teacher interviewed each student in her Kindergarten class, then compiled a booklet with all the responses and sent it home.

Here are Ethan’s responses, which made me laugh and cry. Neither one of his responses are entirely accurate (for example, he evidently thinks our TV is smaller than it is and that we own an iPad which would just about kill Greg).

How do you cook your Thanksgiving turkey?

Dad will go to Shop-n-Save and buy a turkey. He buys one as big as our TV (32 inch). He takes it out of the wrapper and cooks it for 24 minutes at 10 hundred degrees. Dad will cut it, too.

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for my mom. Mom pretty much does everything for me. She cooks for me, she cleans things up for me, she reads with me, she shows me how to have plants…she talks to me a lot. She listens to me a lot, too. She loves me. I am thankful for my Dad. He lets me play on the iPad, Wii, and Xoom. He plays with me a lot. He likes it. I am thankful for my sister, Laurel. She doesn’t mind playing with me. She tries to teach me a lot of stuff. She is teaching me Judo. She helps me a lot. She sets up games for me on my 25-year-old computer. I love her. Two of my three grandmas died. This makes me sad because it makes my mom and dad sad. But we have to never forget them and we won’t. Grandma Rost is special. Her name is Grandma Rost because she roasts a lot of things. I’m not even kidding…that is why! She lives close to Branson. We visit her every year. She likes me and plays with me. I am thankful for all my friends at school.

* * *

In reading through the responses from the other kids, I happened upon a response from one little boy, Kyle. Kyle said, “Soon [Dad] will fly a long minute and be home. I am thankful for Dad, I miss him so much.”

Kyle’s dad is in the Middle East. The teacher noted both she and Kyle had to take a break for a minute after that. So did I. I hope he comes home safely, soon, and permanently.

* * *

I know it’s early, but Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


The plastic arrived
and we got in gear
on one of the windiest
days of the year.

We set to a-cursin’,
a-pullin’, eye-rollin’,
And then Greg observed
that there were some holes in

the plastic, “Oh no!”
(he wasn’t that calm.
He reminded me of
a nuke-u-lar bomb)

I eyed up the holes,
so worried, but – BUT —
most holes were right where
we were going to cut.

We set back to work
spirits lifted, but then,
then came that awful,
that garrulous wind!

It mocked us and stalked us,
It blew without fail!
It transformed that plastic
into a big sail.

We pulled and we tugged,
while that film ran amok!
We fastened, and found we
were in luck—it STUCK.

And that, my dear friends,
was what brought back our cheer
on one of the windiest
days of the year.


Almost-finished product:

hoophouse with plastic

We’re going to do some tucking under of the plastic, some insulating around the bottom of the outsides as needed, make some minor adjustments to the doors, and we should be good to go for the winter. The good news with all that wind is that we found out we’ve got a pretty sturdy structure.

Yesterday morning when it was about 65 degrees, it hit 100 degrees inside the hoop house and I scrambled down to prop the doors open to get more airflow. I don’t think we’re going to have much trouble keeping it warm. We didn’t get the shipment of plastic in time to save my peppers from last week’s freeze, as you can see below, but I should have fall crops for some time. I’ll have to keep it from getting back to 100 or they will suffer. Bother, bother. The broccoli and brussels sprouts are still going strong, along with turnips, lettuce, spinach, and kohlrabi. The rosemary looks great, too.

hoop house insides

Ethan calls it the ‘coop house’ instead of ‘hoop house,’ which is pretty astute considering its future use as a winter home for the chickens. As for the girls (and Clyde), they seem eager to try it out:

chickens waiting for winter vacation

And naturally, what would this household be without a wireless thermometer and hygrometer to keep track of conditions in the hoop house from the warmth of our abode?


Let the good times roll!

A Little Halloween followed by Lots of Da Vinci.

Okay, let’s get in the time machine and go back to October 31. You know, Halloween.

Halloween this year was a pretty uneventful affair. Greg reprised his Uncle Fester role, I threw together a simply awful Morticia Addams with a cheap wig from Walmart that I found on the morning of Halloween. Ethan was the Grim Reaper, and Laurel, well…

…she played the part of Surly Teenager. She chose a month beforehand not to wear a costume or trick-or-treat, and was angry because we wouldn’t let her change her mind at the last minute and we wouldn’t let her stay home alone on Halloween.

It’s hard being almost a teenager.

So she refused to pose for our annual Halloween photo.


Oh, well.

The following weekend we went to see an exhibit downtown about Leonardo Da Vinci’s machines. It had information about his art and life too, but the main focus was his scientific work. We spent a lot of time down there exploring and touring and making nuisances of ourselves. Laurel built a model replica of a moveable bridge, and Ethan made a paper parachute. I had spent a good week reading to Ethan about Da Vinci’s life, and he thought it was super-awesome to hear the tour guide saying stuff he already knew.  I learned, too – I learned Leonardo designed the bicycle with a chain drive before we had the technology to make a chain. Talk about a man ahead of his time.

Anyway, here are the photos:

bike - before we could have chainsgearsimprovements on archimedes screwjackperpetual motionworm screwdrawingsbuilding a paper parachutemore parachute buildingworking on a portable bridge