Monday, May 31, 2010

Penguin and Fish

Penguin and fish.

And for those of you who can't decipher the penguin or the fish...

This is the penguin head, with the beak and the eye. And the purple and blue blobs are the fish, with little eyes at the top.

And these are fish that have very long tails, according to Lena, and are not, in fact, lollipops.

Yellow fish.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For the last year or so, I have had some bad luck with bikes.

There was the really, really nice one that my Dad bought me, which was stolen last Memorial Day weekend.

Then, there was the jalopy that I pieced together from parts and pieces of various dead bicycles that were left behind the apartment complex where we live. I figured it was such a piece of junk that nobody would ever think to steal it.

I mean, I was riding it down the street once, sitting up, with no hands... and the BIKE SEAT fell off, landing me right on the back wheel and then flat on my face. The bolt that held the seat on had sheared off completely. Surely enough, that one walked off too.

So, we poked around Craigslist and found an awesome, inexpensive old 10-speed road bike. We picked it up and I LOVED it. I love the adrenalin rush that you get from something that is made to go so quickly in such an effortless way. In short fashion, that one got stolen too.

Which puts us in about September of last year. 4 months, 3 bikes later. I finally learned my lesson. It wasn't enough to lock things outside. It wasn't enough to just leave a bike outside *just for a second* (no, seriously) while I ran upstairs.

Finally we wised up, and I now keep my bike inside. Locked. Inside. I have plans to put a bolt into a stud in the wall and physically chain my bike to the wall. Until that happens, I keep my bike in closer proximity.

All of this brings me back to my main - unbelievable - point. Last week, we were working in the garden planting tomatoes. Well, Hannah and I were planting things. The kids were doing a good job digging things up. Suddenly, I see a guy walk by, wheeling a KHS soft-tail mountain bike.

"Huh," I said to myself, "That looks an awful lot like my old (nice) bike. How many KHS bikes are there going to be around here... No bike shops carry them." I think my mental filter was off because of the physical labor of the gardening, and I spurted out "Hey man, nice bike... I used to have one just like it, same color & everything... but some jerk stole it."

After a little bit of chit-chat, I asked if I could see the bike a bit closer. Curiously, it just happened to have the same click-in clipless pedals that my old one had. It even had a "Performance" sticker and "Performance" water-bottle cage. Performance, for those of you who probably don't know, is a bike shop that doesn't exist in Utah. It does have locations in California, though.

This bike had a dented back wheel, just like the one I dented trying to jump down a huge flight of stairs at BYU-Idaho. One of the shifters was a bit screwy, just like the bike that had been stolen from me.


After a short period of freaking out, and a period of time resisting the urge to rip the guy's head off, (He was just as surprised as I was... he bought it from a friend who picked it up from a local pawn shop sometime last year,) I offered to buy it from him.

And he agreed!

I got my bike back! Heck. Yeah.!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


There are some perks to having an apartment on the 3rd floor: residual heat from lower apartments lowers our heating bill during the winter, people can't look straight into our windows, in the spring we have blossoms *right* outside of our windows, daily aerobic activity climbing the stairs... There are also some drawbacks to having not only a 3rd floor apartment, but an apartment in general: neighbours, shared walls, daily aerobic activity climbing the stairs, no garden.

Yes, I said no garden.

Growing up gardening was possibly my least favourite thing to do between bugs, weeds, dirt, and bugs. I think it might have been more of a chore for my parents to make me do my share of gardening than it was for me to actually do it. But, as evidence of the fact that it is possible for a leopard to change it's spots, I regularly day-dream about having a garden of our own so that I can tend it, and love it like my third child.

I blame Evan. He has always loved doing things, and has always loved being outside, so it is natural for him to love gardens and gardening. I also blame Michael Pollan, author of 'The Omnivore's Dilemma'. And I also blame grocery stores for having incredibly lame, and over priced fruits and vegetables. Why pay so darn much for nothing, especially when you can grow it yourself for a fraction of the price with far superior (if slightly irregular-looking) results.

So this year, not having a garden of our own, and feeling a small obligation to support our local agriculture, we investigated Community Supported Agriculture. I know in some places you can work in exchange for fresh produce, but here in good ol' Utah you have to pay through the nose for a stingy three month share (that is not only stingy in terms of duration, but in terms of overall weight too). That disagreed with our miserly sensibilities in a big way.

But then we discovered that our own little town that masquerades as a city (Provo) sponsors a community garden. Basically it is a patch of land in the middle of a large, dumpy apartment complex, right next to a railway line, that got donated to the city because it was being used as a dumping ground. So it gets sectioned off into 4x18 ft plots of land and people who do not have access to their own garden can grow food. They also have some of the plots reserved for the Food Bank.

So we have two plots, which is about 180 sq ft of rocky dirt, that we hope will produce more than enough fresh food for our little family until the end of October. Any surplus we have will go to local friends or to the Food Bank. There are also still some plots available, so we are considering volunteering to tend one entirely for the Food Bank. Oh yeah, did I mention that at this moment it is all free because there is no fence up? Yeah. Yay, us.

The kids, by the way, love having a garden, and ask multiple times a day if they can go to it to dig in the dirt. They are really helpful at making holes, but less helpful at making them in the right places. (They also have a knack for running through other peoples plots, but no-one else needs to know that, right?) 

We quickly realized on the first day of work that the kids wouldn't stand for being left out of the digging action, but that they most certainly could not be trusted with metal tools. So we recently bought them a set of plastic hand trowels to keep them occupied.

So these are the 'before' shots, that we took about a month ago when we first got the plots. (It took probably four 2-hour visits for us to de-rockify the ground and turn it over enough to where it was useable. In addition we had to wait about 2/3 weeks before we could plant anything because we were still getting snow.)

We have the two plots outlined either side of where Lena is standing in the second picture. We made them both into one big plot.

And here is the 'after' picture, which I took a few days ago, when we planted (7) tomato plants... in addition to the two we already had planted. And by the way, after all the work we out into getting rocks out, and into working in bags and bags of manure, the soil is fabulous now, even if it isn't quite perfect.

Just in front of the log are two bush bean sprouts that the kids planted in cups at preschool - we thought they would die after Ollie trampled them, and then Lena buried them in gravel, but apparently you can't kill beans, because they are thriving right now! As you can see there isn't much more to see at the moment. Really the most visible things are the tomatoes in the back, the swiss chard in the middle, and the marigolds up front.

So here's something I made earlier! Our garden plan.

Red: Tomato plants, interspersed with alliums, basil, and marigold. We have 9 in there right now... 2 hybrid early varieties, and 7 heirlooms.
Green: Patty pan squash
Purple: Yellow and red beets
Yellow: Mix of bell peppers and hot peppers
Orange: Lettuces and herbs
Turquoise: Swiss Chard
Blue: Broccoli
White: Alliums (garlic, onions, chives)
Grey: Carrots (I think it might be a mix of orange and red carrots)
Pink: Mix of snap peas and sweet peas

I have a feeling that we will have produce coming out of our ears. But my biggest hope is that by having the kids help tend our garden they will be more inclined to eat vegetables. I was reading somewhere a mother's account of growing a vegetable garden, which she had done primarily for cost purposes but to also educate her children. In it she mentioned that by far her favourite memory of the garden was watching her three year old girl, who objected to vegetables of all descriptions, wander over to the broccoli, contemplate it for a moment, and then shove her face in it and munch it like a horse! I don't expect anything quite as entertaining from my kids, but I will take whatever I can get.

Wish us luck!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Want To Go Here

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

Isn't it gorgeous? Its a natural desert of white sand dunes, but since it is in such close proximity to the Amazon it gets frequent rain, so it floods, which creates these awesome lagoons.

Ahhhh... One day...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things Said Whilst Sleeping

E: Ahhhh. It feels really good to lie on my stomach.
H: Hmmm?
E: Yeah, I'm so glad I'm not pregnant anymore...
H: Huh? Wait... wha?? Anymore?
E: Yeah... Thursday was really tough.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rest in Peace, Koshka.

Dear 'Negative Space',

We will miss you.

'Koshka' (aka 'Kitty')
 June 2006 - May 1st 2010