Sunday, May 30, 2010

Presents

As I've mentioned several times these last couple of weeks, I've a milestone birthday coming up. I think turning fifty is a milestone, isn't it?

So, as I probably won't be getting many presents from anyone but maybe my mom and 'Pup... I thought I'd go shopping online and have some fun choosing some things I'd get for myself...if I weren't saving for a trip.

For example, I think I would like a spy pen. Why? Oh, now...remember, this isn't necessarily practical or anything.. it's just kinda cool. I'd have loved to have had one of these as a teacher, though. I could have videoed little "Johnny" and SHOWN his parents what a little .. oh well.. dang!

My practical side keeps finding things with USES! I need unusably frivolous and hedonistic! Awww heck. I think I'll just limit my self to anything I WANT, useful or not.

Now, some of the things I'll be looking at in the next week are going be sale items, but not all. I'm going to go all out for myself and have some hedonistic choices mixed in with my (usually) practical and pragmatic preferences. I'm hereby giving myself permission to be unabashedly and thoroughly acquisitive. Don't judge.. play along! What would YOU buy for yourself if money and practicality were no object? Seriously.. put it in the comments. I'm taking suggestions, too!

Communication

I wonder, sometimes, how we managed. Nowadays, we have almost instant communication through the Internet with friends, enemies, acquaintances and outright strangers. Yet, at only 49 (almost 50!), I can remember learning about the post office and how it was a marvel for getting letters and packages to us from far away in only a few days. When how to write post cards and letters, how to type, how to make a long distance call was part of the lessons at school. And the telephone, oh the wonder of it all! You could pick up the phone and call anyone. It was a marvel to my great grandmother to speak to us, with her in one city and us in another.

Now? A lesson in how to place a phone call would get a funny look from even first graders. I dare say, most of the younger elementary students have never HEARD of a typewriter. Indeed, many of the high school kids I have worked with are hazy about what one would look like. A grammar book I was using had a picture of one and the student asked where the monitor was. When I explained it didn't have one and that a person was responsible for making the the machine print directly on the paper (I didn't even try to explain "keys"), she looked at me as if I HAD to be kidding her...

Post cards are another thing the kids have almost never seen. Oh, they're made, and there are even sites online where customized postcard printing is offered. I even get some post cards in the mail from companies offering deals on things....and I suppose, that's where post cards are, now...a new part of the junk mail that feeds my compost pile. (I just love a good shredder.)

What'cha gonna do? I can't begin to predict where all this is going. I just hope to be around long enough to enjoy the journey...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Froberg's Nursery


I forgot, in my post about Froberg's Farm, to mention the nursery the family opened in November. It sells mostly fruit trees, with a concentration on citrus. The trees were very healthy and a good size to plant. Their prices are very reasonable and the selection is great. I found a couple of trees I'd like to have, a Mexican lime (to replace one I lost this winter) and a variegated pink lemon. I didn't buy them, as I'm running out of places to put them and well.... money is tight right now, as I'm saving up to go to Blogher in New York this summer.


They've got some peach, pear and plum trees...


Lots and lots of citrus,

and even a variety of avocados!


The avocados are the most expensive, at about $50 dollars a tree, but they're healthy and not all that common to find around here.

It's worth a trip out there again, later this summer, when I've a little more money (work hours in the summer are longer), and maybe I'll get that variegated lemon after all....

I Miss My Kitty

I miss Lady SpitFire. She's left a gap in the household. You wouldn't think an 8 pound kitty would take up that much space, but the memory of her is still with us. The places she loved to sleep are still there and, in one place, I've just not had the heart, yet, to fluff out the imprint, the little depression on the back of the couch she left. It's hard to put my hand down, and not have her there, and she's missed when we come home, as she's not there to say hello.

I think even 'Pup misses her. The other Saturday, he picked up his brother after leaving me off at work, and instead of going into his office, the two of them went to CAP (Citizen's for Animal Protection). CAP is where we've gotten our dogs, and we drop by their thrift store sometimes. So, the two of them went and while the bro-in-law went to talk to the dogs, 'Pup ended up snuggling the kittens. Seems the people at CAP welcome anyone who wants to come and snuggle kittens. There are never enough hands to help socialize the babies so that they can be adopted.

I hope the two of them do this more often. I think the bro-in-law needs to feel useful (he is mentally challenged), and would do good as a dog walker. 'Pup isn't so good at walking, the doc is rumbling about replacing one of his knees, but he's a champion kitty snuggle-r.

If we end up with another kitten (NOT something I'm pushing for with two dogs in the house), I think it will be because he decides to bring one home. If he does, I hope it's not a calico. Lady SpitFire has the calico shaped hole in my heart just now. I think....a tabby...or perhaps a kitten that looks like it's wearing one of the tuxedo shirts and white spats... I've always had a weakness for tuxedo kitties...

It would be good to have a kitty outside in the garden again. They're companionable souls, garden kitties. They give you time to work, but stay close enough to keep you company. They rarely dig holes and do their bit to keep your garden squirrel and mole free.

I do miss you, Spitty-Kitty. I hope you're waiting, with your momma BrainDog, at the Rainbow Bridge.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stuff and Such

It's almost my birthday. It's funny, this is the first birthday I've had in a long time that seems to make much difference to me. I guess the number, 50, is a milestone. Half a century...is a long time. It has been a very long time since I was a little girl... and that throws me a bit. It just doesn't seem that long.

'Pup and I have been talking about what we'll do for my birthday and our 10th anniversary. The celebrations will be modest...neither of our families seems to make a big fuss about milestones for either of us, so we're pretty much on our own.

I'll be looking for a good sale on something 'Pup needs for his present. I suspect it will be something electronic related. Personally, all other things being equal and if we have the money, I'd like to get the two of us a Droid. (Y'all, I've told you before I've a strong streak o'geek in me.) Barring that I suspect it will be something along the lines of some extra data storage. Our current phones are working just fine( tho they've begun to show signs of stress), and use the same micro cards that are in the link above.

Oh well..one can dream, can't one?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Froberg's Farm


Listening to talk radio can be instructive. On one show, here local, I heard about Froberg's Farm. They have a facebook page, they have both the pick your own and a fruit/veggie store, and there is also a small store that sells smokehouse meats.


It was easy to find, even if it is off the main highways. It was about 40-45 minutes from our house up here in NW Houston.

When we got there, we went right to Greak's, and got some sliced beef sandwiches, potato salad and some water. It had been a long trip. The potato salad was excellent, the sandwiches were tasty, but the meat was a bit tough and fatty. I'd try it again...we were there late in the afternoon, and I think they'd been busy.

I'd been hoping for some ripe tomatoes. It's a bit early, but hope springs eternal...and I've been hankering. My tomato plants had been trashed this winter, so I don't have my usual early spring tomatoes. I want tomatoes, and not the ones in the store. Froberg's didn't have them either, dang it.. just some from Florida. They'd had blackberries from local sources, but they were sold out. There were some vegetables, mostly onions, cucumbers, etc. I bought some and am happy with their quality.

I did ask about the tomatoes.. it's going to be a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to June.


I think we'll be going back.

You Bet Your...

When I was a little girl, there was a man named Mr. Humphries in our neighborhood. He owned two horses, a retired police horse and another horse he'd rescued from a very bad situation. They both needed exercise and the rescued horse needed lots of riding. Being only one man, and not a young one, he needed help.

His solution to his problem was to enlist the neighborhood kids. With our parent's permission, he let us ride on the horses. One behind him, and two on the horse he led. Nowadays, he wouldn't be allowed to do that, as the insurance implications would be dire...and he'd be (quite wrongly) suspected of base motives. It is a real shame that things have changed so.

Thanks to Mr. Humphries, kids in my neighborhood had a chance to learn to ride a horse. Most of us wouldn't have had much of a chance to do so, otherwise. Though, I got to do it at Girl Scout camp..and the lessons really helped me there. I went from a beginner rider one year to "most improved" the next because I'd learned how not to be nervous around a horse.

Well, it did help that the first year I'd been assigned a HUGE horse (about 18 hands) on the basis that his name (Big Red) showed he was appropriate for me, but the next year I'd been fortunate enough to have gotten a pony. I was a short kid. With the first horse, they'd had to shorten the stirrups as far as they'd go.. and even then, I was riding by tiptoe. I hated it. The second year, with the pony, a cantankerous beast, I felt confident enough to take control and actually get the critter to do what I wanted him to do. I was still pretty small, but you can bet your breeches I wasn't going to take any guff from him. After dealing with a giant the year before and having spent most of a year taking almost daily rides with Mr. Humphries, I wasn't taking any guff from a pony.

Mr. Humphries has passed away long ago, but I remember him and thank him for being patient with a neighborhood full of baby-boomer kids, for rescuing a horse that everyone else had given up on, and for giving me confidence. I am very sorry that somewhere, out there, there is probably another Mr. Humphries that is being prevented from doing something for other kids by fear of what would probably never happen. Kids today don't have things better than we did, not by a long shot.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Functionality of Dogs

I have a private student, an adult, that I tutor 2 or 3 times a week, depending on his schedule. We work on writing, grammar, and conversation. He's a good student, and an interesting person to speak to... we've learned a lot from each other, and I like watching his progress. I tutor his son, too, at the tutoring center I work for in the evenings. His son is also bright and funny. I've now taught or tutored every member of the family, having had the mom as a private student and the daughter occasionally at the tutoring center. They're a good family.

Culture is another one of those things we cover in the class...why to write direct, concise, yet polite sentences in the emails, rather than long, elaborate ones... and also....some family life. One of the things he has an interest in (in a somewhat horrified way, I think) is the fact that 'Pup and I have pets that live IN the house with us. He, personally, does not touch animals. He just never has, and they make him uncomfortable. The fact that I not only touch them everyday and have touched things like horses, cows, birds, reptiles, goats...is outside his experiential base, and we talk about it.

He understands that one of the reasons we have the dogs is for protection. Chucky the Wonderdog may be a sweet puppy, but he is protective of me. He doesn't like strangers getting too close to me and puts himself between me and any stranger he doesn't like (mostly men). Butchie wouldn't bite anyone if they put their hands in his mouth and tried to close with their other hand...but he's got a formidable presence (70 lbs of dog will get your attention), and a huge mouth full of very sharp, white teeth. He could chew through the front door if he wanted to, I think.. but wouldn't think to do it. Not while he could get to the bedroom to sleep, anyway.

However, as driveway alarms they are without par. No one comes on the property without us knowing it, even when both dogs seem sound asleep. And, frankly, I encourage them to bark when someone comes to the door unannounced. I WANT strange men to hear loud barks. 'Pup didn't understand that at first. He was afraid that it would seem rude. I don't care. I like feeling a little safer, and the sight of a door to door salesman (usually trying to sell me a satellite I don't want or a security alarm) stepping back with a cautious look on his face makes my heart warm. I give the boys a ear rub and a doggie biscuit if they've been nice and loud.

To tell the truth.. I don't THINK the boys would bite a stranger, but I'm not sure. I think Chuckie would, if he thought I was in danger...and that's worth a little dog fur on the clean clothes now and again.

Bark Park


Pretty place, isn't it? It's a Dog Park, aka "Bark Park" near our house. The Pups had been good so we took them there the other day.

Butchie preferred to just hang out looking cute when he wasn't singing with a couple of kids we met there. They thought it was hilarious that he'd howl with them. This trick is much more charming when done at the bark park vs at home. Take my word for it.


Chuckles the Wonder Dog preferred running around like a mad man, reading all the bulletin boards aka the trees...


'Pup preferred to enjoy the shade and Butchie's company. All in all, a good trip to the park.

That Time of the Year

I'm looking at new phones. Not that my phone doesn't work perfectly well... but I have this strong streak o'geek in me, and the new technology is calling to me. Why? Well, functionality, of course, I mean, the new ones just do so dang much. Now, unless the iPhone starts to be sold by Verizon (a distinct possibility, I've heard), I will probably get something like a Droid..if I get anything at all. Still might get a Droid, even if the iPhone IS sold by Verizon. Still, that barcode app for iPhone is tempting. I hate not knowing what something costs, and baring buying a Symbol LS2208 for my very own, an app is going to be what I'd use to price check something.

Now, to wait for my birthday. Did I mention, I'm going to be 50 on June 7th? I don't know whether to be freaked out, or to just go with the flow. The later, probably. Just wish I could have a party, but that's not likely.