Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hoops and Leeks

Hey, so, guess what I did? I made a hoop house, though Gabe calls it “The Tent” because Gabe does not understand agriculture.
This all came about because I finally got around to creating my first-ever straw bale garden last spring. I had to modify it because I’m way too lazy to soak hay bales with kelp water or to put forth crazy amounts of effort to get straw to make food. Instead, I used the straw bales as a box and filled the middle with dirt and had a raised bed. I planted seeds together all willy-nilly to see what would grow and what wouldn’t and I decided to try my hand at leeks (I don’t even know what to DO with leeks, other than spin them) because I saw baby ones at the store and wanted to give them a good home. The leeks, cucumbers, and butternut squash grew like they were in a real garden. The green beans and wax beans, the radishes, the spinach and the lettuce sort of flailed about weakly. The carrots didn’t take until much later because the deer kept topping them. And the basil died. Over and over. So it was partially successful.
I learned some lessons:
1) Don’t randomly plant everything together just because you want to see what is going to grow (like I didn’t already know that);
2) Not all straw bales are packed equally and when you get a bad one, you’re going to fall into it while using it as a knee-rest and you’ll wind up with huge indentations in the bale. On the plus side, those can be filled with dirt next spring and you can plant new things in those holes! Neat!;
3) Think a little harder when planning your straw bale garden location. It really should have been where the firepit is even though the firepit is in the best place for a firepit because there’s nothing combustible nearby – OR – put the firepit ON the garden and kill all the birds with stones and fire and straw.

Here’s something I didn’t know about leeks. In Colorado, they need to grow for about 18 months – that may be true outside of Colorado, too. I found this out after I’d planted them. That means they have to winter over which, in turn, means they need protection for about six months. I can’t bring the whole garden inside like I do the pots of basil or peppers. I checked this book out from the library, hoping it would give me tips on making stupid leeks last through a cold and potentially-snowy winter. It did, in fact, help. Tremendously. It taught me how to build a little hoop house, something I’d first encountered when reading Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal and had been wondering about ever since.
I explained my desire to build a hoop house to my brother. He laughed at me and said it wouldn’t work and and pretty much called me stupid. I punched him  and set out to prove him wrong.

Winter Is Coming but not fast enough to bite me in the procrastinating ass. I was able to get my act together and get all the materials for hoop house-making. I got it up in an afternoon. That night, we had a big, nasty freeze with lots of wind which goes to show I am HOURS ahead of the curve!  It made me feel pretty good to go out after the freezy windy night and see that the leeks were green and upright and there was condensation on the inside of the “tent” which indicated to my not-scientific mind that it was warmer in the hoop house than it was outside and that meant I’d won.

This is the skeleton. I made it myself. Those are the leeks that need protection and started this whole kerfuffle in the first place.

This is the finished product. It was actually really easy. The plastic is clamped to the skeleton down at the base and wood keeps the ends down but lets me undo it all really quickly should fresh air need to get to the baby plants. Brilliant.

Since then, it’s warmed up again and I have to open my little hoop house to give it air. I’ve planted some cold-tolerant seeds like mustard leaves and kohlrabi (I don’t even know what that is, but it’s cold tolerant). I’m really excited to see what happens…and to show my brother I’m a freakin’ genius.






Did it work? Find out here!


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

Happy Thanksgiving. Please pass the Stupid Rolls.

It’s Thanksgiving! Yay!

My special little guy.

This used to be the holiday I hated most. Then I grew all the way up and it got loads better. There have been some mishaps but this year should be good; I’m excited for it. Except the dinner rolls. I am so pissed off at the rolls, I can’t even begin to describe the anger.

You may think it odd to hate rolls when one is not gluten-intolerant. The actual bread food is not the problem. It’s the lie behind the roll that irks me so badly.

My mom makes the rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other food holidays. If you’ve ever made rolls, you know it’s time-consuming but so worth it. My sister, Noelle, and I have always firmly believed that a good roll had to be made from scratch because of our mother’s shining example. And what an example she set! Getting up at the crack of dawn before her four miscreant children could annoy and obstruct, making the dough, shaping the rolls and letting them rise in the heat of the kitchen…wow. Incredible woman, just like her mother had been before her and her mother’s mother before that. Seriously, we have bread-making pride running in our matriarchal line.

Or so we thought.

A few years back, Noelle was spending Thanksgiving with her in-laws and no one had thought to sign up for rolls. Noelle’s a good food-maker so she said, “Oh, no problem. I make rolls all the time. I’ve got it covered.” Except there was a problem: Noelle didn’t have her roll recipe with her. Please note that Mom has never shared her BEST EVER recipe for these amazing dinner rolls so we’ve each found our own over the years. Now, however, Noelle planned to extract the secret.

She called Mom, explained her situation, and asked for the recipe. Mom laughed. Noelle cajoled. Mom said, “Oh, there’s no recipe,” which SHOULD have meant that she had it stored in her head and it had been passed from mother to daughter since our family began. What it REALLY meant was that she’d been buying Rhodes frozen dinner rolls from the grocery store FOR YEARS. She assumed we knew this because “it was pretty obvious – they were perfectly shaped and the Rhodes bag was always in the trash.” However, as I mentioned, she started the rolls before we were  up and by the time we made it to the kitchen, all we saw were the rolls softly, scentily rising (thawing) from beneath a kitchen towel. They were raw and they smelled yeasty and obviously, she’d spent all morning making them. Why would we think otherwise? And why would we be rummaging through the trash to find evidence of store-bought bread?

Noelle told me this little secret and together we were devastated. Everything we’d believed in (regarding holiday rolls) had been a lie. A horrible, cheap, store-bought lie. And the worst part? Those damn rolls are DELICIOUS! They taste home-made! We hate them so much and now call them Mom’s Stupid Rolls (MSR). Because they are stupid.

We learned that our mother is a horrible person and her rolls are not to be trusted. And that is why we drink heavily on Thanksgiving. The end.

May your Thanksgiving day abound with family and friends, with laughter and no choking (because you forgot to swallow before laughing), with games and fun and high spirits, and with good rolls. 

Happy Thanksgiving. Have a seat and start to eat!

**This post is dedicated to Noelle. I am sorry we had to learn the ugly, UGLY truth. I look forward to making Mom feel guilty all day long. It is also dedicated to my evil mother who scarred her poor, trusting children with her dirty, shameful lies. Most of the time I love you, Mom. But not today. Today I dislike you heartily and your little rolls, too!**


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My Opinions on STUFF

I fail at mountain living

I will never be a bona fide mountain man mostly because I can’t grow a beard and I don’t own a good pair of boots but also because I cannot stack wood properly. See, wood is supposed to be arranged in a tidy pile that stands 4 or 5 feet high and is stable, as in it doesn’t all wobble around when you touch it. The gaps in  between the individual pieces of wood should be minuscule; they should all fit together like some sort of puzzle. None of those things apply to my caches of firewood.

I’ll bet these guys can stack wood until the moose come home. In fact, I think they’re living in a wood pile; they’ve stacked it so perfectly, it doubles as a house. With a lot of raw pine furniture. Stupid mountain men showing me up with their mad wood-pile skillz.

My abhorrent woodpiles were first noticed by my ex-father-in-law. He was a nice man and took pity on me, a girl who obviously had never been taught the art of creating order out of split wood chaos despite living in the mountains, and showed me how it is done. He walked me through making a stack between two trees.  After watching me and sharing some helpful suggestions, he left the premises, secure in the knowledge that he had passed his skills on to the next generation. When he returned ten minutes later and saw what I’d done, he yelled, “Oh for the LOVE OF GOD! What the hell happened here? This is supposed to be a stack of wood, not a public art display! A herd of cows could walk through all the gaps you left in that pile!”
I looked at my work critically, then said, “But not hippos.”
I repeated, “Not hippos. Hippos couldn’t walk through those gaps.”
And he had to admit I was getting better.

A few years ago, a kindly neighbor also noticed my lack of skills and tried to learn me some good stackin’. I wound up with a pile of wood that the neighborhood cats like to use as a type of mechanical bull. They stand atop the pile and see who can stay on longest before the fear of it all toppling around them becomes too much and they have to leap to the safety of the fence. On the bright side, though, now the gaps between logs would only fit a pack of dogs. Newfoundlands or St. Bernards.

When a new load of firewood appeared at the beginning of the month, I tried hard to stack it perfectly. I avoided the misshapen pieces of wood, leaving them for the top of the pile. I made sure I was going from biggest on the bottom to smallest on the top. I tried to make everything fit, to make the line of wood even, to make it rock solid so that not even the damn bear crawling over the fence and down the woodpile could cause disarray.

And this is how it turned out:


For people who have never seen a proper stack of wood, please think to yourself, “I don’t see the problem! This looks great!” and for the rest of you who are unable to look at this picture because it hurts your eyes…well, you can just come over and re-stack it for me. You’re all so judgey. It will still burn. I think.

You’re probably wondering, “If you’re really that bad at stacking wood, why not just make Gabe do it?”
Therein lies the rub. He is even worse at it than I. Actually, I’m pretty sure he would use his skills as a weapon, intending for a whole cord to fall down on me, stabbing me through the eye with some pokey bit. And that’s why I have to make ugly piles of wood in my backyard – to keep my husband from killing me before I can kill him.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

Let me tell you about Evening

So Evie’s been jealous since Toki got his own post and she didn’t. She’s angry that The Dog shows up here multiple (2) times when she’s only been mentioned once, briefly. Actually, she thinks this entire blog should be about her because she heard about Kitty Drunk Drunk’s and Evie is convinced she’s much prettier and fluffier and softer and sweeter and would be far more lovely to read about and everyone in the world would fall in love with her. She tells me it’s unfair and that this constitutes neglect. She has threatened to call the ASPCA. I’m not too worried about it but I see that her feelings are hurt and I don’t want her to feel unloved, like she’s not getting the same amount of attention as her brother. So here’s the story of Evening.

I did not choose Evening. Gabe did and he chose poorly. She may be softer than a bunny and covered in beauty, but she is also a miscreant, a horrible monster who delights in torturing pretty much everyone. She loves people who are allergic to cats because she can rub against them and make them swell up. She loves to pee on things for the hell of it. Or because she’s angry. Or because she’s making a statement. But mostly, it’s because she feels like it. She’s just a bad cat.

The day we met Evie. This is why Gabe fell in love with her and had to have her. LOOK AT THAT FACE!

We brought the babies home and this one started “shirtling” right away (To Shirtle = my nephew was little and was surprised by the cats perching on our shoulders and in his excitement, he yelled, “THE CAT! IS ON! YOUR….SHIRTLE!” which is shirt and shoulder combined. So when they sit on our shirt and shoulders combined, they are shirtling)

She annoys Gabe to no end, following him around and singing Marceline’s song about fries. She jumps in his lap and furs up all his things, including his beard, and it makes him face-itchy for minutes afterward. She scratches the couch while looking straight at him, mocking him. She does that to me, too, actually.
She also sleeps on my head and does my hair at night which leaves me with a coif that would frighten even Medusa. She doesn’t like to wash so my pillow often smells like dirty cat. And she sheds. She sheds so much that I could probably make a rug every week out of her abandoned hairs.

She was so precious. She really was. Now she’s just a monster.

Evening just jumped into my lap and is reading this. She does not approve and has suggested I write something else, something with “moar truths.” She suggests this with her claws in my thighs so I’m feeling the need to comply.
Evie is the most beautiful cat in the whole world. She is delicate and fragile and everybody loves her. There will never be a more wonderful angel baby sweetheart pie for as long as humanity shall exist. The world is fortunate to be graced by her lovliness. If only we could all have even a modicum of Miss Evening’s perfection, everything would be 1,000% better. Truly, I am a fortunate cat mommy.

Here are more pictures of Evening. Please note how full of beauty she is.

Dear Evie – When you come in from outside covered in the neighbor’s motor oil because you were rolling around in their driveway, you get a bath. You were very lucky there was a sunny place where you could dry off and be fluffy. You are such a nuisance and I will give you more baths just to spite you. With love, Mommy.

Evie is a helpful gardener. She likes us to tell people we grow cat tails. She is an idiot.

“I haz byootee, doosee?” (Translated: Do you see how beautiful I am?)
SO vain. P.S. – she wears things of her own accord. I don’t have to put them on her. I wish I had been abusing her in this picture, but she loves wearing jewelry, so it was fun for her.


Life. It is so hard when peepols are stoopeed.


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds

And then I got a Liebster Blog Award

Well, well, well. It looks like Normal For Norfolk got the best of me again when she awarded me a Liebster.

This is a Liebster Award and I have one. You may now be impressed.

I suspect she knew that I had not prepared for such an event, had not even envisioned something like this happening. I can only imagine how she chuckled with glee, knowing I would have to write an extra post and have a bit of “Oh, crap, what now?” when she nominated me. I hear her chortling, “Let’s see how THIS makes your nose hairs grow! Mwahahahaha!” because that is totally the type of thing she would do which is pretty much why I adore her. Well, that and the fact that she gives me awards. Thank you, NFN. If I were allowed to tag back, I would totally nominate you because I feel your blog is full of genius. Some of it is evil genius and I like anything evil.

I poked around the internets a bit to find an origin story for this award. I couldn’t find anything prior to 2006 so I suspect it wasn’t really a “thing” until after that time. Or I was just typing in the wrong search terms. Also, I kept getting distracted by all these blog posts that would come up, some of which were funny and had pictures. Have I mentioned now not-good I am at research? Well, unless it comes to stalking, in which case I shine like a little star in the stalkerly sky.
The person who nominated Normal For Norfolk for her Liebster mentioned that her own nominator went through some actual effort to uncover the history of the award and found German stuff. Neat!

Apparently, there were original rules and they went something like this:
If you get and accept a Liebster, you must:
-Thank the person who gave you the award;
-Display the award on your blog;
-Give the award, in turn, to 3 to 5 up-and-coming blogs (less than 200 subscribers) <–I don’t think that includes the subscribers you automatically get if you hook your blog up to Facebook and all your FB friends become “subscribers” whether they like it or not.

But then the rest of the world found out about it and turned it into a sort of chain meme (we used to use the term “meme” back in the day to describe a viral chain letter type activity in which you had to say all these things about yourself or the person who tagged you. Now it just means “popular and probably funny picture/video with hilarious caption/soundtrack that can be found all over the internet even if you try to avoid it” That definition comes from the dictionary I keep in my head)

So  now, in addition to those original three rules, we also must incorporate the new and not-at-all improved prankster’s Rules of 11, which supposedly state:
-Award winner must post 11 things about her/him self;
-Winner must answer the 11 questions created by the nominator (probably found in the post that nominated the winner in the first place);
-Winner must choose 11 recipients for this award AND LET ME TELL YOU, I WILL NOT BE DOING THIS BECAUSE I LIKE THE 3 TO 5 RULE BETTER AND THAT RULE SHOWS UP EARLIER ON THE PAGE SO IT TRUMPS THIS RULE and send them the link to your post to let them know you’ve awarded them a Liebster;
-Winner must create 11 new questions for the bloggers who have been nominated by the winner;
-No tag backs;
-Roll your eyes at how we can’t have nice things because people have to take the simple and muck it all up with the complicated.

Regardless, I will mostly play along because I’m not quite that crotchety. Yet.

I’ve said thank you, I’ve put the award on my blog and I’ve listed my winners below. Now on to the Shenanigans of 11!

11 Things About Me
1. I have one green eye and one brown eye (and don’t get cute with the whole, “No, I think you  have TWO brown eyes” *wink wink, nudge nudge”* not-funny-any-longer commentary)
2. My first imaginary childhood friends were called Plubbies;
3. As NFN already knows, I loathe and detest my own nose hairs, every single one;
4. I was David Bowie’s love child for a whole summer until I found out I wasn’t;
5. When I was a kid, my favorite name was “Cindy” but I grew out of that when I was 8 or 9 and my new favorite name became “Cassandra”;
6. I was inadvertantly tear gassed in a riot and it hurt like hell;
7. I illegally saved and grew to love a 13-lined ground squirrel;
8. I am always thinking up new and exciting ways to kill my  husband;
9. I don’t like diamonds;
10. Gabe and I save our leftover change in hopes of buying a smidgety-bit of property in northern New Mexico and building a little cabin on it so that we have a run-away-to place;
11. We grow our own garlic because it’s waaaaay yummier and because I am against vampires.

My 11 answers to NFN’s 11 questions:
1.  What is your favorite brand of toilet paper and why?
My favorite brand of toilet paper is Cottonelle because I feel it is both price- and quality- competitive.

2.  Comfort or cost? Do you put saving a few pennies over anal nicks?
It’s not that simple! It completely depends on the situation. For general, everyday use, I’ll try to get the mos cost-effective toilet paper but that often means finding coupons for my beloved Cottonelle. However, if my budget allows no wiggle room, I will buy the horribly cheap stuff and just try to constipate myself until I can afford something better. On the other hand, if there are dire things happening in my butt and I know there will be many wipings in one day, I will skip the TP altogether and go straight for the baby wipes, which I always have on hand because baby wipes (now available not just for babies…and also made by Cottonelle!) are the most useful tool in the universe after duct tape. And gum. And Sharpie markers.

3. Manners. What is the rudest thing someone could ever do in front of you?
Uh…well. Hrm. I can’t think of a time when I went, “GASP! How UTTERLY mannerless! You should be ashamed of yourself.” I guess I don’t hold much stock in manners and am something of a heathen.

4. What is your most disgusting habit?
I asked Gabe to answer this because I am not aware of my disgusting habits. He couldn’t think of one off the top of his head, citing my penchant for smelling my hair when I’m reading or thinking as my weirdest habit but nothing came to mind for “disgusting”. I mean, I do some gross things like examine the contents of a freshly-used tissue as if “pearls and rubies had fallen from my head” and I rage against my unruly nose-hairs and I pick at the fish flakes that cover my scalp when I lie in bed reading at night but those are just icky habits, not truly disgusting. It’s not like I bite my toenails or collect snake poop specimens to showcase in my bathroom.

5. Something about you that you haven’t yet admitted too. for example do you shave your toes? (except don’t put “I shave my toes” be original).
How should I know? I haven’t admitted it yet, apparently not even to myself. When I do, I will let you know.

6. A celebrity that you would quite happily punch in the face and why?
Oh, where to start! There’s such a list. I think the first one that comes to mind is Scott Stapp, lead singer of Creed, because he has always rubbed me the wrong way and after cataloging his autobiography, I couldn’t get over how not-at-all humble he sounded and I wanted to push him down a flight of stairs, which is funny because I’m not humble, either, yet I never want to push myself down a flight of stairs. That guy just bugs me.

7. Have you ever got your own back on someone who has pissed you off? What did they do and how did you get your revenge?
The answer is called My Marriage. Gabe and I are always exacting revenge upon one-another, so much so that I can’t even remember a single incident of a good Got Ya Back! It’s just like daily life by this point.

8. Favorite curry?
The kind with curry powder in it. I think this is a non-American question because while I understand there are many foods that employ a curried sauce, I don’t really know the types of curries from which I could choose. Also, I love love LOVE the flavor of curry powder so I’m pretty much good with anything curried.

9. Most treasured possession?
Honestly, it’s my house. I love my house so much, it’s embarassing. I don’t mean the items IN my house, though I have several things that I would be heartbroken to be without, but as far as out-and-out possessions go – and I am not counting the cats, the dog, the husband, or the heirloom Christmas cactus as possessions – my house tops the list.

10. What piece of technology can you really not live without?
Oh, ha ha ha! As in current technology? Because I can and often do live without almost all technology. But if it’s just general technological progress since the 1500’s, I probably would have a hard time living without the water heater. How miserable would it be to take cold baths or to always have to warm up pans and pans of water, especially in the winter? I’d just stop bathing.

11. Favorite TV show and why?
My all-time favorite is “The Muppet Show” because it was the one show we were allowed to watch while eating dinner. My mom would set up a blanket in front of the TV and my siblings and I would eat, picnic-style, from the floor while my parents ate on the couch and we’d all watch the Muppets together. More current? Well, this week, it’s “Modern Family” because we just finished watching Season 3 on DVD. However, we also voraciously watch “Dexter”, “Big Bang Theory”, “Mad Men”, “30 Rock”, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, and “Adventure Time” among others.  The show I find myself rewatching over and over on DVD is “Bones” but only Seasons 1 & 2. I was ok with Season 3, disappointed with Season 4, and totally lost interest midway through Season 5 and have seen nothing since. The answer to the question is in there somewhere.

11 Questions for the people to whom I’ve just given this esteemed award:
1. What is the first radio song you remember loving?
2. If you could have a sponsored vacation, no holds barred, where would you go and what would you do?
3. Do you intentionally collect anything? If yes, what is your favorite collection?
4. Favorite holiday food (any holiday)?
5. What smell do you love most? Why?
6. What is the one article of clothing you cannot do without? Accessories count!
7. What was your childhood nickname?
8. Which words in the English language do you find particularly loathesome?
9. Do you hold to any superstitions?
10. What’s your dream job?
11. What’s one thing you really REALLY hope to do before you die?

Closing remarks: I would like to give the Liebster Blog Award to the following bloggers whose blogs I enjoy and read even if they don’t know it:

Matronalia – I find you make life sound exciting and romantic and I want to live with you. In a purely platonic way, of course. Or perhaps a winetonic way?

Everydayjill – I realize this is only the most recent incarnation of your personal blog and it will probably change again, but I enjoy following your ups and downs and all arounds. And I like that you post pictures of our town.

Smell My Paw -Anything starring Kitty Drunk Drunk deserves awards! I’d give you more if I had them!

This Mama Is Crazy – I’m sure you’ve already been nominated by someone else but I didn’t see the award on your blog so I’m giving it to you and you know that it really means something coming from me. Also, I’m hoping this motivates you to put up a new post, maybe about your current battle with temporary insanity which shouldn’t be funny but is because I’m cruel.

A Village Mama – You know I only love your blog because it gives me yet another way to stalk your adorable children. MLLE. L WILL BE MINE!


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF