Sunday, August 28, 2011

This Was My First Bus Ride

This city needs to work on it's public transportation. Time to drive to a museum: Nineteen minutes. Time taking public transportation to museum: Three hours and twelve minutes.

Yikes. 

We live on a dead-end dirt road. We are the second-to-last house on this dead-end road. The only cars that drive passed our house are the cars belonging to our neighbor. There aren't even any lost drivers, because it's much easier to turn around before you get to our house than after. I love this about our road. It's not a great location for yard sales, but it's fantastic for a quiet neighborhood. 

Our neighborhood is also far from bus stops. It is highly impractical to ride the bus because of where we live. So i stared dreaming of biking everywhere we needed to go. Drek has a bike, and Ash has a tricycle, but I don't have a bike and Ash can't really ride her trike down the driveway, let alone down the road. 

Last week my brilliant sister-in-law gave me a bike trailer. We hooked it up to Drek's bike and it worked wonderfully. Ash loves to ride in it, stays quiet no matter how long the trip is, and begs to go for more rides. The next day I looked up women's bikes on Craig's list. The day after that Drek and I were driving down our road and were surprised to see our neighbor had a bike in their front yard with a big "For Sale" sign stuck to it. We stopped the car, glanced over the bike and then asked "do they really think they are going to sell that bike? It's not like there is a lot of through traffic." And indeed, the only through traffic would be us and our neighbors. but apparently that was all they needed because we bought the bike. It works great, it looks awesome, and this week I hooked it up to the trailer, packed Ash inside and biked to the grocery store and back. 

I'm so excited for our new mode of transportation. It is way better than a car and way better than walking. I got so excited about it that I've started planning on biking to the nearest bus station and taking the bus to places that are too far to bike. It's still not a great system, the buses really are a joke, but it does open up a few more possibilities. 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Think It's Brilliant! I Think It's Stellar! Uh, Apart From the One, Obvious, Tiny, Little Baby Little Hiccup... That I Don't Play a Musical Instrument. Yessir. A Tiny, Insignificant Detail

When I was little, I thought the concept of a piano was so odd. Who came up with the idea of a piano? How did we go from banging on drums, to playing something as complex as a piano? Or a violin for that matter. I understand harps, but how did we get a guitar? Or a trombone? 

I wondered if I got stuck in an alternate universe at the start of civilization, would I be able to reproduce any musical instruments? I don't play any. I've never studied music; Could I even make a basic drum? Would my drawings of the instruments I know inspire odd, hybrid types of instruments? Who invents instruments anyway? Why does music change every year, but the instruments stay the same? 

Today I learned that there already are odd, hybrid types if instruments. For instance, here is something called a harp guitar: 


And this is a Sousaphone:
I also saw an electric ukulele and got to play a keytar (The keytar I already knew existed as I got to see one played live a few years ago at a rock concert by Mutemath).

I learned that inventing musical instruments was a popular thing to do a hundred years ago and actually, still is a popular thing to do.

I think I should learn to play a harp guitar. I wonder if I can find a local teacher.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If Those are to be the First of Many Injuries to Come, it Would be Wise to Find a Suitable Excuse. Polo, for Instance. I'm Not Learning Polo, Alfred

I have not attended many sporting events during my life. The ones I have attended have been... forgettable. I'm a fan of playing sports, just not watching strangers play sports. 

But this sport was a lot of fun to attend. A truly unforgettable experience: 



Polo.

Yup. Big hats, champagne, and duvet-stomps. It was so much fun.


Did you know each polo player has twelve horses? He switches them out during the game. I learned all sorts of fun things like that.

As fun as the game was to watch, the best part was that there was a bounce house for the kids. Nothing is more entertaining than watching toddlers bounce around it a cage. I need one of those for my backyard.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yea, is this Another One of Your Little 'Projects'?

When Drek and I were first married, we were given a card table and four folding chairs as a present. That table and chairs saw a lot of use. They became our kitchen table and chairs for almost two years. When I inherited an old table and several old chairs from my aunt and uncle, the folding table became our main game table. 

The Table I inherited was awesome, but the chairs showed their age a bit more, I'm afraid. I tried to sand them and refinish them, but I was pregnant and then I had a newborn and then I couldn't do it outside because  I would have frozen...blah blah blah. Drek said if I didn't finish the chairs by the time we moved out of Burgville, the chairs were not coming with us. I managed to finish two and a half chairs. They moved with us, the rest of the chairs did not. 

A few months ago I found a dining table with eight chairs for sale on Craigs list. It was a great deal. I snatched it up because the table and chairs were in great condition, even if the chairs looked a bit...
 Grandma-y. They looked like old people chairs. After quizzing my friends on the chairs, I finally decided to re-upholster them. I've never re-upholstered chairs before, and the last chair project turned out to be such a disaster that I was very hesitant. But I gathered advice, talked to my all knowing sister-in-law who has experience with such things, and decided to give it a try. I waited until we got a couch, so I could match the kitchen chairs to the couch, since there is no wall dividing them in our house. I picked out the fabric and after several days of procrastinating, I began my project. I striped off the chairs:
cut the fabric, attached the fabric (after Drek gave me a quick lesson on staple guns) then cut the plastic and attached the plastic. The last step was to re-attach the cushion to the chair: 

 old chair: 


 new chair:

I finished the whole thing in four hours. 
 This just may be the best project I have ever done. It turned out way better than expected. It turned out so well, I made a cake:
(ok, so the cake was a birthday cake for a friend, not for the chairs, but it was still a delicious cake)

I think this dining room set will last us quite a while. At least the next five years. And if we change the couched, now I know I can change the chairs to match!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Yesterday I went to the beach with a Kayak and snorkeling equipment and the rumor that sometimes during this time of year you can see leopard sharks in certain areas.

Alas, I forgot the kayak paddle, so our ability to get to those "certain areas" was greatly impeded. We tried using raft paddles, but it was slightly ridiculous. So, after a bit we put on the fins and tried to swim the kayak. That didn't work out too well.  Finally we gave up and tried to paddle back to the shore. When we got far enough in, I jumped out of the kayak so I could walk. It was just faster that way.

Unexpectedly, I jumped out and realized I was surrounded by half a dozen leopard sharks. And not the small ones I thought I would see, these ones were about two or three feet long! It was amazing. I couldn't touch one, but I was about a foot away. They were so beautiful! It was absolutely amazing.

They didn't stay very long, and it was hard to find them after that, but it was so worth the trip!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Haven’t Seen One of those Since I Was a Webelos. What’s a Webelos? It’s Half Way Between a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout. And What Does a Webelos Do? Gets Badges, Mostly

Two weeks I was given a calling in my ward: to teach the twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Class. The man who offered me the calling said there were "only a few" kids in the class now, but there would be more in January. I paused. "Will I have this calling January?" I asked. He laughed and said I could count on being in this calling for a while.

Which is odd, considering for the last several callings I've accepted and then asked "Do you realize I am moving in four months?" But now we are not moving for several years. It was an odd sense of... permanence.

Anyway, I emailed the Sunday School President and asked the details of my class; how many kids, what were their names, when and where did we meet...

He emailed back that he had no idea I'd been called. He was glad, but surprised. He said I had eight kids in my class.

EIGHT? Eight is a lot.

So today was my first day teaching. I found the room and walked in. There were three boys inside, playing with a Rubik's cube. Then two girls came in. Then two more boys. Then another girl. Then three more girls.

Eleven. There are eleven kids in my class.

Actually, it went well. I think. You'd have to ask them. They like to talk, but once I started the lesson, they were very good at listening. They are fun, polite, and funny. I think the lesson went well.

I need to keep in mind that while the lesson is supposed to be an hour long, these kids socialize so much that I only have about fifteen minutes to teach them. Which is fine. I just need to simplify:  get to the point and make it memorable. Period.

Meanwhile, Drek got called to scouts. He is a Webelo leader.

Friday, August 12, 2011

She Swallowed the Goat to Catch the Dog. She Swallowed the Dog to Catch the Cat. She Swallowed the Cat to Catch the Bird. She Swallowed the Bird to Catch the Spider that Wiggled and Wiggled and Tickled Inside Her

For some much-needed family time, we decided to take a trip to the zoo in the middle of the week for no real reason. Just so we could be together. We walked down a delightful trail I had never seen before, and after an hour decided to stop for some dinner. I unpacked our food from my backpack and picked a table next to an animal enclosure. In the enclosure we could see a Forest Buffalo, happily munching on his own dinner:

We started eating. Ash dropped a crumb on the ground and a very small bird immediately flew down to grab it. Drek began tearing off small pieces of food and throwing it to the bird. Soon we had four birds eating on the ground next to our table.
"A mouse!" Drek cried in surprise, and sure enough, a tiny mouse had joined in the dinner party.
"A monkey!" I shouted, seeing a Swamp Monkey swoop over the enclosure and sit in the tree right above us. Drek thought I was kidding, until he saw it himself.
"A rabbit!" Drek laughed. This time, I thought Drek was kidding, but indeed a tiny bunny had come out of the bushes to eat with the birds and the mouse.
I tried to get a video of all of them, but the bunny was a bit shy:
video
After dinner was over, we walked around the enclosure and discovered that we were two otters eating on the other side of the fence from where we ate.
It's too bad they didn't poke their nose through the bushes to join the party. That would have been quite a sight. 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

No. I thought You Were Swans

I got beaten up by a goose. No, really. A goose. A gander. An African fowl. It's true.

My awesome neighbor owned three geese. He is, sadly, moving, so he needed to sell his geese. When a guy came to buy them, my neighbor asked if I would catch the geese and put them in the boxes the buyer had brought so they could move to their new home. Of course I said yes. Who would turn down the opportunity to wrangle some geese?

And wrangle I did. I went after the male first. I cornered him fairly easily and grabbed him by the neck (the only advice I got from my neighbor). I then tried to pick him up in a sort of modified football hold, but in doing so he kicked my with his webbed foot. You wouldn't think a webbed foot would do much damage, but take it from me; don't underestimate the webbed foot. I did finally get him in the box and the two female geese were quicker, but once I caught them they were easy to put in their boxes. The buyer took them home, happy to have a birthday present for his daughter and my neighbor was thrilled to have the geese go to a good home. I'm thrilled to have them gone. Yes, I will miss the goose eggs (delicious and huge!) but it's nice to be able to carry on a conversation in the backyard. It's so much more peaceful now!

At first I had three giant claw marks on my arm from where the goose scratched me. The next day, I had three huge black and purple bruises appear, each surrounding the three scrapes. After a few days, the bruises turned yellow. They are finally vanishing, and the scrapes have healed, but for a while there it looked like I had been attacked by a tiger.

So next time you get in a fight with a goose, remember the thing to fear is not the beak, but the dreaded webbed foot.