29 April 2011

Welcome spring!

Oh, seasonally appropriate weather. We are so glad you've finally arrived.

27 April 2011

We can't come back 'til the water goes down...

It's mostly subsided, now, this spring's flood. Floods are weird like that. Hurricanes, tornadoes, even blizzards only last a day or two at most. But a flood comes in and often stays for weeks. We live upstream from my hometown, so even a week after it crested here, Hendrum still waited. Eventually there was only one road open to get into or out of town. And even there, water for miles and miles.
The photo above was taken last week, after the crest, when Hendrum again had 4 roads in and out. It's the east side of Highway 75, for those of you who're from these parts. Yes, the east side. The side furthest from the river. It's not easy to be a farmer around here this spring, I imagine. Or a rat, or a deer, or a raccoon, probably. (didja see how I used the mirror to illustrate the vastness of the wateriness? huh? didja?)
V's a city girl, of course, and so we measure our floodwaters by roadsign. Here's the mighty Red, from about the same time, slowly going back down (that's a parking ramp on the right side of the photo). When V and I first checked, only the top two inches of the stop sign were visible. Then the whole sign disappeared, and after a few days it started peeking out again, bit by bit. It's been fun to have a concrete way to measure the rise and fall that didn't involve homes of dear friends. 

It's tiring, these floodwaters.  I'm glad they're going, and I hope they stay away awhile.

26 April 2011

Easter festivities

Without vinegar, this totally lacked the smell of egg dyeing, but since we're not sure V can smell anyway, what the heck.
Nothing like putting on your Pearl Jam t-shirt and dyein' some eggs on Easter morning.

24 April 2011


While I wait for students to arrive for the conferences they signed up for, I work on the 2004 Kirigami calendar I bought at Barnes and Noble for 75% off 7 years ago. It makes me feel productive and I kinda think it's magic.
Plus it keeps me from grading, which, currently, is my main objective.

19 April 2011


V got this puzzle for Christmas from our friend Nancy. This is the third time we've done it: we discuss the Addams family while we work, and it's really fun.
And it brings up memories I had long forgotten. When I was a girl, my family LOVED puzzles. Every holiday, all winter, and just about any time was a good time for a puzzle. I have few memories of my grandfather, who died when I was 6, but many of them involve him hovering around a dining room table, working on a puzzle. We had three or four puzzles we did every Christmas, and it helped us bide our time while we waited to open presents.

But it wasn't enough to just do puzzles, for some reason. My dad had all kinds of elaborate rules for puzzles, and puzzle doing was serious business. These rules were non-negotiable, and though I didn't enforce them with V(except for #1), I felt bad for breaking each rule.

Dewey's rules for puzzles:
1. No food or drink on the puzzle table. At all. Ever. If you need coffee or a snack, get a TV tray and put it up next to the puzzle table. Then consume it over the TV tray, not the puzzle. Also, you'll have to listen to the story about when Grandpa Art spilled coffee on a brand new puzzle one year.

2. When we open a puzzle, and dump out the pieces, we have to flip over all of them before we put anything together. Every piece. When I was too little to really do much else with puzzles, this was often my job, and my family was all about the 1000 piece ones. It took for freaking ever.

3. If any of the pieces were left together from the last time this puzzle was done (my aunt Barbie was notorious for just folding a puzzle up to put it away) everything must be taken apart and spread out. Just two pieces together? One on each end of the table. More than that, and we had to mix them in. 

4. Everyone gets to look at the cover of the box once. Just once. When someone new comes to start work on the puzzle, they get to look at, but the rest of us who've already seen it are expected to avert our eyes. And then we talk about those crazy people who use the box to place individual pieces, and don't follow the other rules, either. Heathens.

5. If, when the puzzle is finished, there are pieces missing, we look around carefully to see if there're any on the floor. If not, we take a slip of scrap paper, slide it under the puzzle, and trace the missing piece. Then we write on the slip a description of what's missing (i.e. blue hippo eye, or Santa's left elbow). This precious slip goes into the puzzle box so we know what's gone for next time.

I sure wish he was here to teach these to V, though.  I'm a pushover when it comes to made up rules, it turns out. Somewhere he's hollering at us everytime we look at the box, I just know it. I hope he understands.

14 April 2011

Riverside conversation

Myra: "I hope there isn't a squirrel living in that tree with a hole."
Jen: "If there is, I bet he's pissed."
V: "And angry. And wet."

13 April 2011

Playground with Grandma

V has so little fear. She loves to run and climb and jump and leap, and when she falls, she laughs and runs some more. Grandma's the one who takes her to the playground the most often, and pushes the swings, and takes the pictures, and helps her dust off her pants when she hits the ground.

It's a pretty good deal for everybody, really.

10 April 2011

When you live in an ancient lake basin...

My mother likes to talk about Lake Agassiz. Maybe it's because she's a former elementary school teacher, but it's a little embarrassing, actually, to bring friends home from college and have them get Myra's lecture on The Big Lake. But she's right. I know she's right everytime we leave this valley, and my ears pop like I'm on an airplane because I'm not used to the elevation.

So it surprises no one that our basement (hell, everyone's basement in the eleven county area) takes on water this time of year. I honestly don't know why so many of us have basements, even. And every year I swear I'm going to be ready for it, and every year I get pissed off when it shows up. Really, really pissed off.

Today, I cursed the rain, my basement, the people who built this house, the people who sold us this house, my realtor, the guy at Menard's who sold me a lousy 8 gallon wetvac, my grandparents for settling in this area, the length of my own pants, my dad for having a stroke instead of staying well and living long enough to help me with this crap, gravity, those disgusting little centipedes that curl up and die all over my basement, linoleum, the nasty consistency of wet cardboard, and Lake Agassiz.

(I emptied the wetvac 5.5  times in 20 minutes. That's right. 44 gallons of water. The first photo is of my basement, just an hour after I got rid of 44 gallons of water. The second photo is my damn stupid long pants.)

I know, geologically, that this is what we deserve. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

09 April 2011


This winter, I bought a bag of silver forks at Savers. They'd been drilled through the handles, and two of the seven were attached to this heavy silver ring. Today, V and I attached the rest, fashioned a wire hanger, and put it up in the backyard, hanging off the clothesline. It sounds really lovely, though the wind has to blow pretty hard to move them. And I like being the kind of family that has seven forks hanging in our backyard.
In the front yard, despite our profound negligence, the tulips are still coming. I am deeply grateful for such persistence.
The slugs and other crawly things were enjoying the fruits of our lack of labor.
And V enjoyed the slugs and crawly things.
I think these are daffodils. This time of year, I'm so pleased with my past self for taking the time to plant flowers. Because I need inspiration something fierce this time of year.

I hope spring is coming to your neighborhood, too! 

04 April 2011

Busy and Angry and Tired, oh my!

Busy: It's the last four weeks of the semester, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, that's right. It means I'm up to my neck in grading, the laundry's piling up, and the car needs washed. And yet....I want to blog. I want to frolic and share and love all of you, and piss on this giant stack of student papers. (Well, not literally. Once, when we had a black miniature poodle named Zuul with some anger issues, he peed on some student papers. Those were fun to hand back). It's funny how that works, isn't it? How just when we feel totally tapped out we seee something shiny and suddenly have all the energy we could want.

Angry:  Oh, lord, I'm angry at snow. I've never been mad at snow before, that I can recall, though probably I have. But it just.will.not.leave. It's filthy and grey and going to flood our river all to hell but it's taking its own sweet time.We still have 6' high piles all around. And just when the driveway is almost clear, we get another 7 inches. Even Shaun's getting in on this anger party: a couple of weeks ago he came home just furious at the weather. So we talk about moving, and watch a movie or two, and then spring finally shows up and we forget about moving until next winter. Gak. Stupid sneaky snow.

Tired: I'm tired of being busy and angry, I guess. I'm looking forward to my sabbatical but it still seems entirely abstract and far away. I want to set out a bird feeder, and cook something new, but mostly I just want to take a nap. And blog.

Anyway, what a depressing, whiny post! Here, I will offer you something to cheer you up. V had two birthday parties to attend on Saturday, and we made the gifts for both. Here's the second party, at our local bowling alley (bowling parties are fun! I'd never been to one before!). We made our friend Oscar Costumes on a Stick, and he let his guests show them off with him.
I think they were a success! And isn't this a much happier ending? I thought so.

01 April 2011