‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jessica

No blog about Trout Towers would be complete without mention of Jessica.

Last year my husband gave me a vacuum for my birthday. Yes, under normal circumstances anyone who gives his wife a vacuum for her birthday does not live through the day and no jury convicts. However, this is not your average vacuum. It is a robot.

Lucy named it Jessica, after her best friend's little sister. Who doesn't secretly wish their best friend's little sister would come clean their house? It is Lucy who uses it the most. I barely touch the thing - unless I'm showing it off at parties.

The kids (and I include my husband in this) love it so much they scurry around the house picking up so they can run it. This is part of the gift - not only do I not have to vacuum anymore, I don't have to pick up all those Legos.

So I have more time to sit on the couch and blog, while the Lovely Jessica cleans my house.

Hey, you missed a Cheerio.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fertilizer

We have begun.

Chris has new interest in the garden, now that he is making concentric raised beds using a microphone stand and cat5 wire as a guide.

Our whole family went to the garden store today. We knew we had to add lime and fertilizer. Nitrates had been mentioned. This was all a passing observation - I think our gardening friend must have channeled it from the dirt itself. We have not had our soil tested. We are not completely sure how to have our soil tested and we are pretty sure the SAT's are long gone at our local high school. So when the woman at the garden center asked us specifics about what we wanted, we had absolutely no idea. Organic. Good for vegetables. It is possible she recommended the most expensive fertilizer known to man. It may indeed be 100% bat guano.

That should keep the bugs away.

We also repotted our sunflowers, which survived their vacation. Word on the street is we can't plant them outside until Memorial Day, at which point they should be nearing our ceiling.

But now back to the guano. You may be thinking "how can someone who knows so little about so much know about bat guano?"

I have had a very specialized life.

I once worked for an art school, which was housed in an old public school in Denver. It was in the process of historic preservation and there were plans for renovating our enormous attic (at least 2 stories high inside). Someone recommended that we gas the bats prior to the renovation - concerns about methane build-up, blah blah blah. I had my own concerns about a) the karmic sinkhole that would surely result from mass-bat-murder and b) the ensuing smell.

So when my boss went away for a few days I took the opportunity to call Urban Wildlife Rescue. I figured they could pop by, stick our bats in their little bat kennels, and be on their way. They did pop by and when I showed them our attic they explained that they couldn't even reach the ceiling and if they did take our bats, more would come pouring in (the dark attic did in fact look a bit like a planetarium if you went up on a sunny day). Furthermore, judging from the amount of guano, we had a very large colony. They called the Department of Wildlife.

The Department of Wildlife came and discovered we had possibly the largest colony in the metro area. And it was a nursing colony (read: civilian casualties, mostly women and children).

My boss came home to discover that we could no longer quietly gas our bats. They were famous. So she did the next best thing and used them for more publicity. She did not fire me (or gas me). And she stopped short of making us all go upstairs with bags to collect bat guano and sell it to gardeners.

It would have been better than some of the bake sales I've been involved with.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sunflowers on Vacation


Although I implicitly trust our house-sitter with the care of our cat and my mother-in-law, I had to draw the line at the sunflowers.

After spending 2 weeks waiting for them to appear, I was not about to leave them at home to wither in my absence. They need to be watered every morning. They are used to having their tea-infuser baths. In short, they need me.

So they came on vacation with us. We had a few close calls in the car and lost a bit of dirt but arrived intact. We've even had two more sprouts appear to join the party.

They especially enjoyed their trip over the George Washington Bridge.


And here they are at the Hirshhorn sculpture garden, in DC on the National Mall.

Today I spent the day looking around and wondering how to look less like a tourist. The first step would be to remember to take the "TOURIST" sticker off our t-shirts after leaving the Capital. But then there was some fine tuning I thought of.

Sadly, I didn't bring a navy suit or anything else tailored or ironed. So next time I will pack something more business-like. I can still wear my comfortable shoes as most everyone has sneakers on for the commute. I need a laminated I.D. card to hang around my neck. Really, I could dress just like I am but add that I.D. card and be pretty good. Perhaps I will put a photo on my library card and laminate it.

Of course, walking around with a tray of sprouting sunflowers may be something of a give-away.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Musicals

Last night my friend Randy asked me to help him write a musical. I am weirdly excited about doing it. I would be totally excited about doing it if it weren't for one small catch.

I hate musicals.

I don't know why I hate musicals. It can't be the way they inexplicably burst into song because I rather like opera - which is much worse since they sing the whole time. Or most of it.

I think it was childhood trauma - although I can't think what was so bad about my "going to musicals" experience, other than the musicals themselves.

My mother was in the local chorale, and so we went to see all the productions (whether or not she was in them). My sister and I sold lemonade at intermission. We were not allowed to keep the money.

The shows were in this small, cabiny theatre on the side of a hill. It was heated by a pot belly stove and had benches for seats. I am not making this up.

There was no parking at the (theatre is really too strong a word. "Venue" doesn't work either).... on site. You had to park across the street by the Episcopalian church and walk through one of those corrugated metal tubes that goes under the road. This was probably the best part of the whole night - if you happened to be 8 or so and liked barking like a dog in echoey places. When you came out of the tunnel you walked up these steep stairs made with railroad ties placed sporadically up the side of the hill. It was a long climb.

We always had to get there early to help set things up and it was invariably freezing. The band (also too strong a word) would set up - generally a piano, a snare drum and an oboe, or similar combination. We'd set up our lemonade and snack table and hover near the stove.

They did some of my all-time least favorite musicals there, specifically (in order of magnitude) Oklahoma!, Music Man, Carousel, South Pacific and Most Happy Fella. I did kind of like Guys and Dolls and sang "Take Back Your Mink" for days after.

Who would have guessed that this would all just be background research for my big writing break. My epitaph will refer to me as a writer of musicals and champion of the genre, I just know it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Schoolhouse Rock


This is Lucy with Aaron & Mickey (aka Gene & Dean Ween). It is surprisingly relevant to this post. Stay with me.

I am of the generation that can come up with the Preamble to the United States Constitution off the top of my head - but I have to sing it. We are the "Conjunction Junction, what's your function" generation. Thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, I can count by 3's. I liked the Schoolhouse Rock bits probably as much as the hours of Scooby Doo and bowls of Captain Crunch that surrounded them.

So then I became a music junky. Bought albums with all my babysitting money. Watched those 12 videos over and over again when MTV first started. Over the years I've become a fan of bands like the Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Ween and Moby.

Now I have kids and I am not all that interested in cds featuring The Wheels on the Bus. We've found many palatable alternatives. Our criteria is that you don't realize right away you are listening to kids music. Included in this genre - the palatable kids music genre - is the remake of Schoolhouse Rock. There are bands like the Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Moby, and yes, Ween. The cd has finally joined our collection and completes some sort of cycle - like the ghost of Saturday Mornings Past, Present and Future all eating Captain Crunch together.

Incidentally, the original recording is no slouch with the likes of Blossom Dearie and Bob Dorough.

Other finds:
Dan Zanes (you know, Del Fuegos frontman)
Ralph's World
They Might Be Giants (yep, they have kid cds. They're not that much different from their other ones)
The Roches - esp. Little Bitty Betty
NRBQ - esp. Spider
Buckwheat Zydeco
all those Putumayo Playground collections

I'd love to get your suggestions for more.

Editorial confession: We never had Captain Crunch as kids. My sister and I would put Nestle's Quik on our Rice Krispies and pretend they were Cocoa Puffs. We had a somewhat deprived upbringing.