Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cameron's first Band Concert

Tonight, for the first time, Cameron played his trombone in a band concert. This was the combined beginning band at Templeton Middle School. Which means about 75 sixth graders honking, squeaking and banging away on their new tubas, clarinets and saxophones. (no strings, thank god!)

The Templeton PAC was filled to the rafters; a standing-room only crowd of proud parents and grandparents, with a sprinkling of bored siblings and over-excited under-five-year-olds. The new band geeks were given enthusiastic cheers and applause, with lots of hooting and catcalls from the Concert Band kids. Claire and Aeron were reasonably well behaved, as Gra-Maw and I were muttering threats into their ears the whole time. "If you don't settle down, I take you home right now!"

Well, except for the part where Aeron mooned the audience.

Oh, yes she did!

It was during intermission. People were chatting, kids were rampaging. I was talking with Andrew's mom and I look around and I see Aeron's bare backside.

"What on earth are you doing?!?" Luckily, it was very noisy, so no one really heard my shriek of horror.

No answer, just giggles.

I grabbed the kid, pulled her pants up and proceeded to give her a stern talking-to. She was immediately contrite.

Never a dull moment, huh?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Mitzi

Introducing the newest member of the Clark Clan.

Mitzi is about 7 weeks old and about 2lbs. We adopted her from the county shelter. Mitzi and her 3 siblings were found at just a few days old, with their umbilical cords still attached.

She is a sweet kitty; very, very friendly. She likes to fall asleep on the chest or shoulder of anyone who will pet her. Mitzi is also a licker. She will wash any bit of skin she can get to! She's standing up to Claire and Aeron, though if they get too rowdy, she skedaddles.

We are all happy with our new kitty.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The pumpkin patch

Halloween has to be one of the favorite holidays of any child. You get to dress up, run around after dark and grown ups give you candy! How cool is that?

Another great part of the fun is pumpkins. Going to the pumpkin patch, choosing the perfect pumpkin, making an unholy mess carving the pumpkin, squishing the pumpkin guts.

On Saturday, Miles and I took the 3 younger kids to a local farm to get pumpkin. A great time was had by all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Pollan row

I attended the panel discussion with Michael Pollan at Cal Poly today. For those unfamiliar with Pollan's work, he is the author of, amongst other works, "The Omnivore's Dilemma", a vastly popular look at 4 meals, from the field or ranch to the table. Pollan is an extremely vocal critic of industrial agriculture.

Pollan was supposed to have delivered a lecture. But a major donor to the College of Ag, Harris Ranch, threatened to withdrawn it's support if Pollan was allowed to speak, without presenting a "balanced" view.

Cal Poly pussed out. The lecture was changed to a panel discussion. All the introductory remarks, by the Dean of Ag and then the moderator, included hopes about respect for divergent opinions.

Pollan addressed this issue first off, despite the moderator attempting to dive right in. He called kow-towing to donors a threat to academic freedom. And I agree. Will Cal Poly now check with it's donors to see if all the speakers invited to address students are acceptable?

Dr. Gary Smith, an academic meat-science guy from Colorado State, thinks food should be cheap and convenience food should be available so all those soccer moms can be chauffeurs for their children, instead of slaving away all day in the kitchen. Pollan replied that, yes, organic, free-range foods are more expensive. But there is a correlation between the availability of cheap, fast food and the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in this country. That crap that looks cheap costs us plenty. Would you rather pay the farmer, or the doctor?

One point made was the almost complete disappearance of home economics programs in schools. Home Ec, not just for girls, for everyone. The audience endorsed this idea with a round of applause. Earlier this week, I assembled a pot of turkey chili, enough for 3 meals. We had one meal yesterday and the other two are in the freezer. It took a total of 15 minutes prep time. Are we as Americans truly that busy in our multi-tasking, over-scheduled lives that no one has time to throw a batch of soup in a crock pot? And what about these kids being schlepped around? Don't they have feet? Couldn't they ride a bike to some of their activities? Also, a 14 year old should be perfectly capable of preparing a decent meal. Scramble an egg and make a piece of toast, at the very least?

Pollan's final point was that farmers have one answer to climate change. Apparently, and I didn't know this, soil can hold amazing amounts of CO2. By supporting sustainable farming techniques, we can help combat global warming AND eat better and enjoy better health. It's a win-win-win situation.

I'd have to say that Harris Ranch gave this event more steam than it probably wanted to. The PAC was full, mostly with supporters of Pollan's ideas. The conversations I heard, the tee shirts wore by the attendees, the flyers distributed, all lead me to believe that David Wood shot his company in the foot. It would be very interesting to see the profit and loss statement for this company for the month of October.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Well, we needed the rain

The first major storm of the season blew in today, complete with heavy rain and wind advisories. It rained all day long. California has been in a drought for, I dunno, 7 years? We really did need the rain. Plus, we'd had unseasonably high temperatures into September. We were all ready for cooler weather. But the collateral damage has been... interesting.

My mother, the gardener, used to refer to the branches and leaves stripped from the vegetation during a storm as "Mother Nature's pruning."

Mother Nature pruned with a buzz saw and a bulldozer this time.

We live in oak savanna. Rolling hills, studded with coast live oak, blue oak and valley oak. All of these trees are protected by law. You practically need an Act of Congress to remove one. But they are brittle. They don't really bend in the wind.

During this storm, Mother Nature did a number on the oaks. Our next door neighbors lost a large branch from the live oak in the front yard; luckily, it didn't hit the house. Driving in our neighborhood was an obstacle course of downed branches and debris. Trees were down at the park, and I saw Asst. Fire Chief Hewitt, standing in the rain and wind, directing traffic away from work crews dealing with the fallen trees.

The worst we heard about was some good friends who had oak branches come down on their house and crushed the main beam, destroying their living room and forcing the family out. They are looking at 2 to 3 months of repair before their home is again livable.

We lost power here in Mayberry for a couple of hours. The whole town was dark and all the local businesses gave up and closed. As I drove about town, I dodged branches, road construction signs and garbage cans that had blown into the street. There was also lots of flooding, which was hard to see ('cause what street lights we have weren't working) until plumes of water were flying. I saw the employee parking lot of the Trader Joe's emptying like rats abandoning a sinking ship. Luckily, I had made most of our dinner before the electricity went out. Miles and Cameron grilled chicken on the gas BBQ, and we dined by candle light. Cam and the little girls had a blast with flashlights, and Claire made a groan of disappointment when the light came back on.

Frog Creek, the seasonal stream behind our house has been dry since last March. It's over flowing it's banks now.

I guess this is a fabulous example of "be careful what you wish for."

Friday, October 9, 2009

My kids are driving me batshit

OK, so, it's the end of a busy week and every one of my kids has been doing their utmost to drive me mental.

Kayla has been really off her game this week. She's forgotten about homework assignments, her keys, her cell phone, even to lock doors. The icing on the cake was when she almost ran over her brother, then hit the recycle bin while driving my minivan.

Aside: Papa - you were so right!

Cameron made some profoundly bad choices this week. He'll be scrubbing bathrooms and pulling weeds all weekend.

Aeron had another ear infection, along with an infection in her left eye. Naturally, her sleep has been rather fitful and her mood not quite as sun-shiny.

Claire actually has been the best of the bunch, but even she has been uncooperative. And loud.

OK. Done complaining.

Monday, October 5, 2009

In the middle of the night, episode 9


Coughing from the girls' room. I'm pretty sure it's Claire.

Ah, she stopped.

A few minutes later.... more coughing. Again, she stops.

This goes on for, I dunno, 20 minutes? I'm trying to sleep, so I'm not really sure.

Then Claire really gets down to business, coughs, barks, and then starts wailing. I stumble into the room. Claire is sitting up, hair on end, tangled in the covers.

"Mom!" she sobs, "where's Gra-Maw?!?"

"Gra-Maw is on her way to see Uncle Trevor."

"Oh!" still sobbing.

"Lay down, sweetie. Here's your bear. Do you want some water?" I asked. "Yes!" volume a bit reduced.

I get the kid a drink, get her to snuggle in the covers and she promptly falls back asleep. I'm tip-toeing out when I hear a calm voice from Aeron's side of the room.

"I didn't cry."

Resigned, I stop at Aeron's bed. "Nope, you didn't, Boo."

"Claire did. She was crying and she woke up me!"

"Claire was coughing, honey. She can't help it. Go back to sleep." I tuck her in, kiss her forehead and leave. I'm half way back to my room when....

"Mom! Can I have a drink?"

They are doing this on purpose, I swear. They want me to be sleep deprived and cranky; that's the only explanation.