Thursday, May 28, 2009

New thing to save if the house burns down

I had the loveliest surprise on my front porch when I came home from work yesterday from my friend Robyn, who creates the prettiest things you ever did see, right out of thin air. Check this out:

It's a baby quilt, WITH MY DOG ON IT! Chickens on a blanket! Isn't it marvelous?! And since we aren't finding out the gender of the baby until it's here, Robyn cleverly used a nice balance of pink and green with a soft brown lining that will be perfect in either case.

How Robyn found an applique that looked so much like Chickenbone is beyond me. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but he's a somewhat peculiar-looking dog. Handsome, for sure. But unlike any other dog anywhere, ever. This patch is spot-on, though, especially with the shape of the ears, the tilted head, and those ridiculously short legs. In fact, this is exactly how he looks after he sprints into the kitchen when he hears me grabbing cheese out of the fridge!

Thanks, Robyn, for a present that includes BOTH my babies!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Week 17 ultrasound

Here are some pictures from yesterday's peek at the baby, aka the best television show ever. The technician said our child is "gorgeous" and "cooperative" and "a real character." Therefore we like her very much. (The technician, not the child, whose gender we won't know till it's here. I mean, we like the child, too. But you see what I mean.)

At this visit, we could actually see organs for the first time, including all four chambers of the heart. We also saw two legs, but only one arm. I'm opting not to dwell on that.

Here's a closeup of the face, wherein my child looks like a bald, grinning, one-eyed clown pirate.

Some people may think this photo shows the baby trying to suck its thumb. But if it takes after me, Sal or Chickenbone, it is probably saying "Uh, trying to sleep in here, do you mind?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We named him "Ratbone"

Had a little excitement during the Mother's Day brunch we hosted this weekend. After the meal, I was sitting at the dining room table chatting with my mother-in-law and our other lady relatives when Sal walks in and calmly explains "Well, we have a situation. There's a rat in my office."


Turns out that while Sal and his two dads were lounging in the back yard, they watched a giant, hairy rat zoom out of the garden and right into the open door of Sal's office, a big room that is part of our detached garage. So what do the dads decide to do? Why, shrug their shoulders and have another gulp of beer, of course! "He'll come out eventually," said one. "I'd put out some D-Con!" said another. "That thing is huge!" they chortled.

Well, I am not the kind of person who can just forget about a giant crazy rat in a room, any room, of my house. Also, I was curious to get a look at this monster. Sal said it ran into a corner, beneath one of the metal shelving units that hold his fourteen hundred thousand comic books. So I get down on all fours (waaaay on the other side of the room) and flick on the flashlight. And let me just say that this was hardly a scary beast. In fact, it was the sorriest excuse for a rat I have ever seen. It was pale and raggedy, and it cowered in the corner with little black frightened eyes that were wide as saucers.

I stand up. "We are not killing it."

For a moment, Sal stares thoughtfully around the room. And then he instructs me to start grabbing comic book boxes off the shelves. "We're going to build a run!" he exclaims. How deeply I love this man. So we dragged the heavy boxes across the floor until we had barricaded this area from the rest of the office. There was only one way for this devil to run, and that was OUT.

(The dads think all this is hysterical, and they keep getting up to look inside and snicker at what we're doing. One stands by the door with his foot raised. "When he runs out, I'll get 'im!")

We finish constructing the run, and I rattle a broom around back in the corner. The rat squeaked in terror, which totally hurt my heart, but he did run out. Unfortunately, we forgot to block one important crevice - the space behind the tall, heavy filled-to-the-brim bookcase - so naturally that's exactly where he runs. Swearing ensues. Especially when we realize he was hiding in a small space beneath the bottom shelf, where we couldn't even shoo him out with the broom.

So we begin the process of removing all the books. And once they were out, Sal tilts the shelf over and I do my broom-waving thing, adding for good measure some yelps and shrieks and "GETOUTTAHERE! GETOUTTAHERE!"

This poor, sad fellow. In broad daylight I realize he is half-bald. And what fur he does have is a sickly looking, mottled grey. He keeps running in circles and bumping into boxes, so I bang the broom on the floor in a strategic manner, and the rat finally makes his way out the door and into the woodpile near the garage.

Here's a picture of the run. We are quite proud of ourselves. (You can also see Chickenbone, who was too much of a pansy to face the actual rat itself, but still wanted to growl at the scent lingering behind the bookcase.)

As for the rat, he stayed in the woodpile, no doubt petrified of the giant red dog who kept shoving his snout into the wood and barking. A couple hours later, after Chickens had gone inside, the rodent (now affectionately known as Ratbone) creeped out and headed toward the garden area, and then down the driveway and behind our trash cans. We assumed he probably escaped under the fence, because what kind of nutjob rat would want to stick around all this broom-waving, dog-slobbering craziness?

But a little while later, Chickens comes out to inspect the woodpile again, and from there we watched him slowly sniff out the exact trail the rat took, all the way around the yard. Next thing we know, he's lunging at the trash cans barking and snarling up a storm. Actual spittle is flung from his jaws as I pick up the writhing little dog. Sal runs over, moves the cans and opens the gate, and our friend the rat makes his exit.

And that is the story of my very first mother's day! I also got flowers and a lovely card from my husband, and I ate bacon. It was a really good day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Obligatory belly shot: Week 16

(How I love the first GOOD fat picture of my life.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Building my garden

Here are pictures from my latest home project. Because of the gigantic peppercorn tree shading most of our back yard, there was really only one spot that ever gets enough sun for a garden, along the side fence where we had a woodpile and a long strip of this tangly ground cover.

First step was pulling out a bunch of those vines. I measured how much space I needed and got to pullin' - and these suckers were much heavier and deeper than they looked. After we moved the woodpile to a new corner of the yard, I discovered that I'd have to pull out even more ground cover because under the wood wasn't dirt but a patterned brick surface that was too pretty to remove. We put our potted Meyer lemon tree on it, and it's much happier now, bursting with green leaves and blooms.

This is me in my digging gear. I wore a mask not just because of how ultra-cool it looks, but because my allergies were killing me and I didn't want to get a ton of dust in my nose and throat. Also, pregnant ladies aren't supposed to dig around too much in gardens, on account of all the infected cat poop. I actually don't think there was any cat poop in this garden, but I wore a mask just the same.

Now, the next picture isn't the greatest illustration, because you can't even tell how impressively deep I had to dig. But right in this spot is where I was digging away at the soil when my shovel went thunk. I reached down and brushed away some dirt to uncover some wood. Since it was so close to where that woodpile stood for lord knows how long, I assumed it was just an old log. Especially because there were so many other random objects in that dirt - old bricks, a moldy tennis ball, an unidentifiable tool - it seemed feasible that a log just got buried long ago. So I began to dig, then paused to try to pull it up. It wouldn't budge. I dug some more, tugged at the wood, again it wouldn't budge. As I cleared away dirt, the "log" grew longer and longer, and eventually I realized it was actually a root. What the hell it was attached to, I have no idea, as it snaked out under the fence from the neighbor's yard. And all they have back there is a palm tree way on the other side. Can palm trees have roots a whole freaking back yard long? I have no idea.

But I knew this thing had to go, or else my whole garden plan was ruined. So I busted out the old crappy hand saw that the previous homeowners left in the garage. I sawed my ass off, for a good 20 minutes and until my hand hurt, and I only got maybe an inch and a half into what was a four-inch diameter. By then the sun was beating down on my back and I was super pissed off. So I went snooping around in the garage and A-HA! I found a screwdriver and a mallet. I jammed the screwdriver into the crevice I made and started banging on it. To my delight, the crack began grow. My plan was working! I yanked it out, jammed it into another part of the crack, and banged the SHIT out of it. Only this time, when I went to pull it out, it wouldn't budge. Fuck.

I go grab another screwdriver and stick it next to where the other one stuck. (Hoo boy, is this a thrilling story or what?!) For the next 20 minutes, I executed many careful, calculated maneuvers of widening the crack with one driver (though not TOO much) and wiggling the other. I also began to bang the side of the stuck screwdriver with the mallet. And then a hammer. And then I went back to the mallet and accidentally missed the screwdriver and knocked myself in the shin. I was really nervous, because I knew if I got two screwdrivers stuck in there and had to give up, Sal would never, ever, ever stop laughing at me. Also he'd hide all his tools forever.

Finally I managed to dislodge the screwdriver (I think it helped when I hissed "COME OUT, YOU BITCH") and sadly it suffered irreparable damage. It was shaped like an L. Oh well. I went back to the stupid saw and spent the next half hour changing hands, positions and angles until I finally got the stupid freaking root cut off from wherever it came. (And if that palm tree dies, you never read this.)

Here's a picture of the root, next to my foot for size comparison. It is one big mother.

The planting was pretty easy. Starting on the left, I have a string bean plant. (When I looked up string beans online, it seemed that you normally plant a whole bunch of plants together, but I just had the one. Anybody up for a coupla green beans for dinner?) In front of the bean plant is some pokey green stuff that was sticking up out of the ground cover. I don't know what it is, but I decided to leave it till I find out. Then I planted four tomato plants, and on the far right is a zucchini plant.

So far everything is still alive, though one of the tomato plants looks cranky most of the time. I can't figure out why, because it gets the same things all the other ones get. Quitcher bitchin, tomato plant! I nearly lost a limb for you!