30 July, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Man!


It is a big one, number 4!0! Wow. Let's just sit with that for a moment.


Ok, I'm done.
I've tried posting a youtube video to sing happy birthday to you 4 times, and it still hasn't posted to my blog yet. If they all show up, you will know I meant well but still somehow ended up looking like a jackass. Surprise! Nothing ever changes. Also, I'm re-making your cake because the first 2 layers were glued to the pans, despite the buttering and the flouring. This time I used parchment for the bottom, but forgot to flour the pans as well, so wish me luck. I don't have enough flour to make more cake, so if these are screwed, I'll buy one. But it will be purchased with such love, you will like it anyway. I hope.

Happy Birthday, my monkeyman.

**p.s.** I just turned the layers out of the pans to cool with no problems. Yea!
And, as per your instructions, I promise to eschew sprinkles. Even though the cake would be much more festive with. But whatever, it's your cake. Dear.

29 July, 2008

Aaarghh!

The itching!!! Benadryl gel is powerless against it.

wish I had some steel wool...

I'm NOT scratching it.

I'm just really relaxing into the itching, really feeling it the way they tell you to do during labor and childbirth. If this makes no sense to you, please see previous post.

Anyhoo, Junebug pulled out another tooth recently (#7) and left this charming note for the tooth fairy.


I guess she had trouble deciding between the words "love" and "like", thus the o/i combo. This reminded me of Hannah's note to Atheria, though instead of requesting more money, she left a penny for the otherwise nameless tooth fairy to give to some other child. In our market, teeth are only worth 50 cents. We explained why there was no answer in the morning: obviously the fairy doesn't carry a pencil or pen. It would weigh her down, and she's already carrying all those teeth and coins. Now if only we can remember about the note for next time.

"Hey Baby, fetch me that Benadryl gel, won't you?"

"'Cause this itchin' is distractin' me from my fascination with Anthony Bourdain and, apparently, his brother. And that crazy Uruguayan woman who is only wearing a big over-sized shirt and sunglasses standing too close to that bonfire." Mondays are special here at Casa de Barlyru because at 8pm we slam the kids into their beds and rush downstairs to catch No Reservations on the Travel Channel. In last night's episode, Anthony's straight-laced brother accompanied him to Uruguay where they ate cow after pig after cow after armadillo, all cooked over open flames. Much to my surprise, I found my ability to enjoy the episode impaired by an intense itching localized right at the spot on my left thigh where an unidentified insect stung me while I rode my bike last Sunday. This sting was a hit and run. I heard loud buzzing, vaguely saw at least 2 bugs flying close to me, felt one hit my leg and then they were gone. Or rather, I was gone from the area where they were, because I was still riding. Anyway, it wasn't long before that sting was hurting me. I looked down and saw the classic sting mark: a raised whitish spot about 1/3 to 1/2 an inch in diameter with a dark red point right in the center. I'm sure it didn't help that the sting was on my thigh which, considering that I was riding my bike at the time, was completely engorged with blood. Does that help the poison spread faster or something? Anyway, yeah, it hurt for a few minutes and then I forgot about it. By the time I got home, the mark had almost completely disappeared.

Until last night, during Anthony's show. I started absent-mindedly scratching my leg and when I looked down, I saw this:
What the frick, ya'll? What kind of insect sting takes longer than 24 hours to cause a rash?? And yes, there is significant stubble on that knee because that is the knee with the scab from where I fell off of my bike, and I don't shave scabs. Anyway, you guys, I took this photo this morning so, as you can see, it hasn't improved overnight. This thing itches like a motherfucker. Do any of you have any idea What? The? Hell? Could be causing this?

28 July, 2008

right this moment

L. is singing to her toys (in a robotic, deadpan yet sing-song voice) "I am the Queen of the robots, I am the Queen of the World."

While I am trying to laugh veeery quietly.

26 July, 2008

L.-isms


"R___, come here right now! It's an Egmergency!"

"R___, give me that doll Egmediately!"

"When I show my ring to Lily, she will Egmire it."

To be honest, the beginning sound is sort of in between a short i and a short e. I wasn't quite sure how to spell it, but the following sound is always a G, and I love it.

23 July, 2008

the air up there

Top of the World, Ma!


Last Sunday we decided to (finally!) drive up to the Alpine Visitor's Center of RMNP. We've been wanting to see the park up there since we first moved here, almost a year ago. Almost a year ago. Jeez.

Anyhoo, we left the house early enough to make it up there for lunch. When we left Longmont, we were at 5k feet altitude and it was about 85 degrees. When we got to the Alpine Visitors' Center at the alpine tundra level of the park, we were at 11, 796 feet and it was 60 degrees and windy.

Above Treeline

I found out that the high altitude affects me rather adversely. I thought I was gonna hurl, and fall down. I wasn't sure which one would happen first. Despite the spectacular scenery, I could barely summon the urge to even snap any photos, much less try to make them good, or interesting. Sorry about that. The rest of the family were all starving and wanting lunch. My stomach was growling but I wasn't about to put any food on it. Luckily for us, there isn't a picnic area up there, just a basic visitors' center and a foot trail leading higher. Yikes! A nice ranger said we could drive about 4 miles on, down to Lake Irene, where there are picnic tables at (thankfully) a lower elevation . He failed to mention the enormous number of mosquitoes living at Lake Irene.

all the photos are clickable


Despite the annoying mosquitoes buzzing all around, we settled at a table and tucked in to lunch. The change in altitude did help my nausea and dizziness enough to allow for some food consumption, which further helped me improve. And our trip had, happily and unexpectedly, coincided with the peak in wildflower blooms. I didn't even get photos of the most spectacular ones because they were growing from between the rocks along the terrifying highway. But I did snap these at Lake Irene.

Mountain Forget-Me-Nots, which apparently smell wonderful. Sadly, I didn't know that while we were there. They are only about 3 inches tall, and I didn't realize that it would be worth my while to lie on the ground and smell them.

Is that a mosquito? (above)

above: another flying bug



Below you can see Mr. Man & Rhubarb walking the trail around the lake. It was so peaceful and quiet there.


One of the reasons for our trip had been to look for pikas, but they only live at the alpine tundra level and I didn't think I wanted to go back up there. It is interesting , though, to see what the land looks like up there above treeline. It's like a different planet. You can see why they warn you about lightening because there wasn't anything around (besides us) taller than about 4 inches off the ground. On the drive home, we drove back up and past the Alpine Visitors' Center again. The next time we make this trip, I'm gonna need tranquilizers and a blindfold. While the scenery is spectacularly stunning, so is the likelihood of death in the event your car should leave the road. I did a lot of gasping, and demanding that the Man have BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL RIGHT NOW, STOP LAUGHING AT ME AND JUST DO IT! I did have the presence of mind to ask him to pull off the road a couple of times so I could grab some photos. As you can see, there were rain clouds moving in. What you can't see is the wind, which almost blew the camera out of my hands.


Some funny Norwegians had stopped nearby to take in the view and pretend to feed a chipmunk. They were shivering in shorts and tank-tops. It was cold up there! See their bare feet?

I love how tiny the trees look beyond the boulder.


bald mountains

One alpine critter I did manage to see is a Yellow-Bellied Marmot. They hibernate all winter, so this was likely our one chance this year. Unless I suddenly feel like I must brave the nausea and highway of death so I can see the elusive Pika. Anyway, behold: the Marmot. It was about the size of a fat miniature poodle. Also, see what I mean about the flowers?? They were everywhere! At this altitude the growing conditions are so harsh that many plants only grow a fraction of an inch each year. If you step on a plant while you're hiking, you could destroy decades of growth.


When we got back to Boulder, where we planned to eat at the wonderful Sherpa's Adventurers restaurant, it was 95 degrees. Just imagine, if you will, closing your car door at a windy 60 degrees, and opening it an hour or so later at 95 degrees and horribly sunny. Gah! it was an oven down there. But the restaurant is air-conditioned and we were all happy to have gone. We felt, for awhile, like we were on top of the world. Our little portion of it, anyway.

20 July, 2008

fascinating


Talk of the Nation on this past Friday (Science Friday, in case you don't know) was so interesting. First there the story about all the microbes who live in our bodies, and how we keep destroying or altering them by doing things like taking antibiotics and having cesarian sections, etc. Did you know we have more microbes in us than we have cells??? And we haven't even identified them all, much less started to make peace treaties with them.

And then there was the story about the sexy-looking bio-fueled powerboat which just set a world record. The creator and captain talks about his environmental mission, and about his run-in with the Colombian Navy involving high-powered assault rifles. Yikes!

Farmer's Market haul


Organic:

Huge bag o' baby chard
2 zucchini, 2 golden zucchini
green beans
fingerling potatoes
2 pounds+ peaches
a lot of gorgeous apricots- You guys, these are the most beautiful things I've ever seen, plus as soft as clouds. L. can't put them down.
a quart of cherries
a pound and a half english peas
half a pound button mushrooms

Plus:
one bag of cardamom spiced almonds
one bottle local cabernet wine

I know Jen is getting tired of seeing Barack's green face on the top of my page.
;-)

17 July, 2008

hungry for change?


barackoli, originally uploaded by The Mrs. Kennedy.

from Eden's photostream.

So Anon Jen (at least I think it was Jen) asked what my take is on this image. I'll answer but don't quote me because I haven't had coffee yet. I posted it because I think it is funny, and cute. I think this is the kind of parody Obama supporters can get behind, though maybe I'm wrong. As far as all the playing with his name, let's face it. His name sounds playful and sort of invites you to see what you can make of it. I think he would be the first to admit that it is fun to say and play with, all in a good-natured, affectionate sort of way. Any public figure, especially a person who is running for President, will absolutely be the subject of parody. Thank God! Would you want to live in a country where that is not true? I also see this image as a far cry from the NYer cartoon. And about that, if Barack had just embraced that cartoon straight out of the box as the parody it is and said "Look! Seriously, how funny is this?" it would have all blown over. Not that I think the NYer cover was a good idea. If they (the NYer editors) thought most Americans would get the joke, it just shows how truly out of touch with the average American viewpoint they are.

In fact, that cartoon was the reason I wanted to post this one: to cleanse the palate, so to speak. And to show that bleeding-heart liberal Obama supporters actually DO have a sense of humor. And if you look to your right, you'll see a graphic with both candidates gripping carrots with their teeth.

15 July, 2008

ya'll, go read

this story at Bookhart's blog right now. I mean it, go. Incontrovertible proof of how small the world truly is.

big doings

This last weekend was so much fun. Our friends Andrea & Shane(who just won a big art prize. Yea, Shane!) invited us to have Saturday night dinner at their house in Denver. Also in attendance were Ked & his girlfriend Tara, and Andrea & Shane's friend Lao. The house is a cute bungalow in an old downtown neighborhood, very charming. Our dinner (delicious Pad Thai) was prepared by a friend of Andrea's who came over just to make the food, and then left. She had other plans for the evening, but sweetly offered to come cook for us. How great is that? The pad thai was awesome. I brought dessert: lemon cheesecake squares & homemade ginger ice cream. The ice cream was nice and spicy! We stayed up very late talking, drinking wine, laughing. It was wonderful. You might well wonder what the girls were doing while we were enjoying adult conversation. Shane had tuned the TV to the Cartoon network or Nick Jr. or something, and the girls watched ALOT of Spongebob Squarepants, and Ruby read an American Girls book during the commercials. They were amazingly low-maintenance and happy-go-lucky. Lucky for us!

We finally got home and put the girls to bed sometime between 11:30 and midnight. On Sunday we decided to drive up the mountains, RMNP or thereabouts. We ended up at Lily Lake.


We had packed a picnic, so we ate lunch before our hike. There were ALOT of chipmunks darting around. Their preferred spot for begging is right on top of your shoe, then they dart away super-fast.




After lunch we decided to hike up the higher-altitude trail to reach the lookout point above the lake. In the photo below, you can see (just above L.) some of the rock formations which look like a stack of pancakes turned on its side.


It isn't a long trail, maybe a mile and a half or so. But we had already travelled from 5k feet in Longmont to about 8.9k feet at the ground level of Lily Lake. The trail we chose went higher, rather quickly. We took it slow except for L., who insisted upon racing ahead. You know, there is a thin line between fun family hike and death march and, according to R., we crossed that line early on in the hike.




We reached the lookout, and the view was certainly worth the climb.






We saw tons of little flowers along the way, some growing right out of the boulders, others growing in the sandy soil and gravel along the trail, and still others growing in a marshland beside the lake.







conifer blooms

There were just a few times when R. decided to join in on the fun. This was especially true after I offered to pay the kids a penny a shot to let me photograph them.









a water bottle lid helps to display little bunny teeth





Apparently this lake is a great place to catch greenback cutthroat trout, which were once believed to be extinct but have returned in abundance. It is believed they may actually benefit from global warming. Go, nature!


In the end, what really served to coax R. out of her sour mood was an early dinner in Estes Park at Smokin' Dave's Barbeque. After my big plate of St. Louis style ribs and red beans and rice, I'm off meat for awhile. But it was awfully nice to see Junebug back to normal.

08 July, 2008

local sights

What a glorious bike ride I had this morning. After a grey, cool and slightly rainy day yesterday our weather returned to Colorado-normal, which is to say magnificent. When I set out on my ride, the temperature was about 60 degrees. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and all was right with the world. It soon warmed to the mid-sixties, and when I stopped halfway through my ride to remove my hoodie, I was swarmed by Canada Geese who assumed I would feed them. They were wrong, but I did whip out my Lomo and snap some shots of them. In fact, I used at least half a roll of Precisa this morning because The Golden Ponds were so freakin' gorgeous. AND I was finally able to identify that type of black water bird that is usually too far out on the ponds for me to see clearly. One was very close to shore today, and I could see enough of it to look it up: Hello, Double-Crested Cormorant.


I also saw a black squirrel, which ran across the trail in front of my bike. Is that a portent of some kind? This is probably the fifth black squirrel I've seen since we moved here. They aren't any more shy or elusive than the regular grey/brown kind, there are simply far fewer of them.


I often see rabbits hanging out within clumps of prairie dogs, and I wonder if they ever go into each others' homes. Sometimes, when the prairie dogs & rabbits see me or someone else coming and they scatter and run to the dens, I can see the rabbits trying to decide which way to go. Their warrens are farther away from the trail, where as the prairie dogs would put theirs right in the middle of the trails if they could. Today I saw a rabbit sitting on the mound outside a prairie dog den (p.d. porch?) and I imagined the rabbit calling down into the hole "Can Dilbert come out and forage?".

What else is on the agenda for today? The children are painting with watercolors right now, as we wait for the temperature to rise to today's high, an expected 85 degrees. At that point we will head for the swimming pool. After that, who knows? The library, maybe. Ah, the lazy days of summer.

07 July, 2008

what I am is a dirty list-maker

1. Why does Firefox keep crashing on me??

2. I heard this guy on Bob Edwards Weekend yesterday. More alarm bells.


This guy's book scares Michael Pollan. Holy Cow!

3. We celebrated the 4th by going to our quaint little 4th of July picnic downtown with our friends Erin, Liam, and Nathan. Nathan is Liam's uncle, and the current love of Lyra's life. The last time she saw him (maybe 2 months ago), she literally wailed inconsolably when he left. When I told her on Friday afternoon that he would be joining us, she said "Who's Nathan?". Anyway, after she had re-kindled her affections, we listened to the local symphony orchestra playing the usual round-up of patriotic tunes, plus (go figure) Star Wars and The Phantom of the Opera, after which canons were fired. Fun! Sometimes when I look around here I realize that we really and truly have moved to the Heartland of America, all Norman Rockwell and shit. Which is heart-warming and nice alternating with conservative and scary. The rednecks have different accents, but they are still rednecks. Which makes it sound like we didn't enjoy the picnic, which is not at all true!! We totally did. Partly because, unlike Texas, it was about 90 degrees with a cool breeze. Delightful! Everyone was very friendly. I saw a Labradoodle (adorable. I totally want one.). We will for sure go next year.

4. But, about what I just said regarding conservatives here, and rednecks, etc.? Well, Thursday evening, I caught up with my friend Kerry, and her friends Maaike & Pat, in Boulder where they had attended a conference. We ate at Centro on Pearl Street and drank Damselflies, yum! (Grey Goose pear vodka, fresh lime juice, fresh ginger, ginger soda + plum preserves) And! While we were eating, seated at a window table, we got to watch an (apparently) Almost-Independence-Day! bike parade which went right by our window.


(**Amendment: I think it was a weekly Thursday night Cruiser ride, made more festive because of the July 4th holiday atmosphere**) There were somewhere between 100 and 150 lighted & costumed riders who stopped traffic and flashed peace signs and sported tutus and crowns. Guess what, ya'll? There was even a picnic table on wheels. Basically there were 4 riders on each side facing each other, pedalling a table down the street. Can you believe it? So, as conservative as Longmont sometimes feels, crazy-assed Boulder is only 12 miles away. Thank God.