Friday, June 30, 2006

Two boys

I know it's probably a little odd to know things like the exact date of a person's conception, but when you're trying to have a baby, you find yourself knowing a lot more than you ever dreamed you'd know about your body - about what it does, when it does it and how you know it's working properly. All the ins and outs of trying to conceive, if you'll pardon the pun.

I've done a lot of research over the past three years, since we started trying in July 2003, which is how I know that Thomas was conceived on this day, June 30th, 2004.

It's the same day that our nephew was born. I remember going to the hospital with My Beloved after work to see him and I remember crying on the way home. We'd lost two of our own babies by then, and it was difficult seeing what we were trying so hard to have - what seemed so painfully out of reach - especially when he was just so sweet and new and perfect. It was hard knowing that we'd lost something so precious.

I held Nathan in my arms for as long as I could keep him from the arms of the other eager family members, not knowing that a miracle was happening inside my own body at the very same time. My son.

I've always felt a strange connection to Nathan for this reason.

Four days later I held him again. I rocked him and comforted him until he fell asleep in my arms.

He made me feel like I could be a mommy - a real one that could offer comfort and soothe a tiny, crying baby to sleep. I sat on the couch at my in-laws and held him while My Beloved and his Dad watched TV and my niece played nearby. I felt so peaceful, and still had no idea that Thomas was there, quietly growing while I practiced mothering someone else's little boy.

Thomas never felt me hold him, but I hope that somehow, during those sweet and wonderful nine months, he knew how much I loved him and how much I couldn't wait to hold him and rock him and soothe him to sleep too.

Happy Birthday Nathan, and Happy first day, my sweet Thomas.

And then there were none

I think Lady, Steve and kids are gone. I haven't seen them in two days. Today I mowed the lawn, weeded the angel garden and clipped the grass around the base of the shepherd's hook that their house is hanging on - and nuthin'. Not so much as an errant feather.

They've flown the coop.

I know I said I wouldn't be sad, and I know I said it would be great if they were gone by this weekend so we could have our family BBQ in the yard without having to worry about Lady dive-bombing our guests, but somehow I'm kinda sad just the same.

I'm not so big on goodbyes, even when the guests have just about overstayed their welcome and have ceased treating me like the kindly - albeit slightly insane - landlady I think I was to the bird family.

It's great that I have my yard back, but sharing it was awfully nice too.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I keep having tiny (ever-so-tiny) epiphanies about God.

And then I forget them.

Either I need more sleep or I'm going senile.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A rude awakening

Well that was scary. I just spent the last half hour browsing through blogs written by infertile women who have undergone years (YEARS) of treatments, miscarriages, surgeries and confidence-eroding devastation.

They ran the gamut - everything from a woman who is newly pregnant with triplets, to a woman who considered divorce when her husband refused to continue with fertility treatments after years of heartache.

I thought this might actually be easy. Well, not as easy as having sex and crossing your fingers, but certainly easier than subjecting yourself to months and months of humiliating and painful failure. I was clearly delusional. What on earth made me so certain that we'd be successful before we've even had all the diagnostic tests to find out what's causing our inability to conceive again???

I feel like an idiot.

Damn it.

And suddenly the idea of their departure doesn't seem so sad...

Saturday afternoon, after months of peaceful cohabitation, Lady bird turned very, very territorial. It was an attractive site, I'm sure - all the ducking and stifled screaming and running for cover as she repeatedly dive-bombed me (for no good reason, I might add) while I was attempting to weed the angel garden.

Not good. Not good at all (although possibly good dinner theatre for any nosy neighbours who happened to be peeking out through their windows around the dinner hour).

I guess it serves me right for putting the bird house so close to the garden. Lesson learned. In my defense though, I really didn't think any birds would take up residence in the box. I thought it was going to be a charming garden/lawn decoration. I never dreamed it would turn into Lady's tiny little house of horror.

Later that evening I forced My Beloved (who's a good head and a half taller than me) to stand in the middle of the yard to see what Lady would do.

Of course, she ignored him and happily went about her business of feeding the babies and removing sacks of...well, sacks of poo (blech - who knew they did that? I suppose it's the avian version of changing diapers).

So after rather reluctantly acting as my decoy, My Beloved determined it was either something I did, or some "vibe" I was giving off. (Because It couldn't possibly be the bird's fault. My bad vibes, that's what it was.)

We tested her mood yesterday by poking around the yard and garden after dinner and she was fine - no bombs, and so no ensuing screams or wild flailing and ducking. But tonight she nearly took My Beloved's head off (much to my secret delight, because this means his vibes must suck too) while he was kicking a soccer ball against the wall.

He was brave about it, but he put the ball away pretty fast.

I did some reading and it seems that the little ones will be flying the coop within the next week or so. According to the literature they likely won't return once they make their airborne debut and take to the skies above our neighbourhood. They'll join a larger flock and prepare for fall migration by hangin' with their homies and getting acclimatized to life outside the box.

Perhaps this was the gods way of making the separation a little easier for me. I was already starting to mourn their loss, knowing that they'd soon be leaving the yard after almost three months of sharing our little piece of the world. But Sunday that loss wasn't seeming like such a complete tragedy anymore.

I'll miss the little fellas when they're gone, I will. I've enjoyed watching them come and go and listening to their cheerful little warbles. But I won't miss this new, aggressive Lady who no longer regards me as a harmless garden fixture. I won't miss being afraid of going into my own backyard and looking like an idiot when I do.

The neighbours might miss the show, but there's a Blockbuster opening at the new plaza near our house soon. They can rent The Birds if they need to get their fill of screaming women running from crazed birds.

With any luck we've put on the very last show, Lady and I.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tasty flights of fancy

I have my first batch of "Kristin's Breakfast Biscotti" baking in the oven, and they don't smell half bad. After the dual success of my Father's Day biscotti (minus the spatula fiasco) I sort of off handedly suggested to My Beloved that biscotti with a distinctive cinnamon-y breakfast taste might be interesting.

He thought so too and poked me about it until I finally decided to give them a try this morning.

Actually, he poked me so much that I started believing that I really could sell them at farmer's markets, taking special requests for large orders (because of COURSE there would be large orders) as he suggested.

Yes, all that certainty and financial success without ever turning on the oven.

If only I could harness my wild imagination and use it for good instead of evil.

Anyway, here's a picture of my Father's Day efforts. I think they're pretty, even if they likely won't ever have us rolling in dough (pardon the pun).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What a difference a few weeks makes!

My first blooming Canary Zinnia! I had to be coached through the terrible "deadheading the first buds" exercise by some sympathetic gardening buddies, but it turns out they were right. The zinnias are now thick and all have multiple blooms. Lesson learned, even though it was a little like Sophie's Choice out there that day...

Beautiful little Miniature Snapdragons wearing their first blooms of the season. I have three or four small clumps of these, all in shades of deep red, pinks and white. I'll have to get my Dad over to see them soon, since they're among his favourite flowers (which is, of course, part of the reason why they're in my angel garden).

A Red Spider Zinnia - a new breed of zinnia, according to the seed packet. They're small blooms, roughly the size of a silver dollar, but they're very prolific and add a delicate touch to the garden.

Red Spider Zinnias against the backdrop of the birdbath and fence.

Another Cosmo. These are doing SO well, and, to my delight, are almost the same shades as the snapdragons. I can't believe how huge and lacy they are, and what a beautiful addition to the garden they make. Definitely worth starting from seed again.

And today, after a good night's sleep and a peaceful morning in the garden, I'm happy.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Of baby carts and melons

Is there a term for road rage when it refers to grocery carts in the grocery store? Is that aisle rage? Is it cart aggression?

Whatever it is, I have it. Shopping makes me a little mental. What I wouldn't give to have the run of the place after hours when there's no one else but me in the store. It's not that I mind shopping - or people, for that matter - it's just that I get very, very tense in the produce aisles at Price Chopper. There's always someone in my way, someone leaving a cart in the middle of the aisles, someone cutting me off, or someone lurking too closely behind me while I'm picking through the less than appetizing produce (hey, they don't call it Price Chopper for nuthin').

Today it was a woman with melons in her baby carrier. That's right, in her baby carrier. She took one of the free carts with the attached baby seat and used the baby seat for her melons.

Right off the bat she irritated me because she cut me off by the potatoes and then blocked me in by the dairy bins. But then I noticed she didn't have a baby in the carrier, she had produce in it instead.

And why? Because the carts with the baby carriers are free. You don't have to pay a quarter to rent the ones equipped with built-in baby carriers.

I know, I know. Who am I to judge? Maybe she didn't have a quarter (although I've had to go to a cashier and ask for change in the past, and I've also accosted strangers in the parking to offer them two dimes and a nickel in exchange for the quarter they've just removed from their own cart upon its return - it CAN be done). But whatever, it just irritated me.

Because I get irritable in the produce section of Price Chopper. And the meat department too, where people lurk *this* close to you in some odd stalking game of some sort that I've yet to understand. There really IS enough meat for all of us, I SWEAR.

But back to the woman with the melons. I'm not sure why it bothered me. Maybe because if I ever use a cart with a baby seat you can bet your ass it will be to carry a baby, or maybe it was because she could have been inconveniencing someone who had a baby instead of melons, or maybe it was because she was too cheap or lazy to rent a cart. Or maybe I'm just generally irritable.

I don't know. But she bugged me. And I can't let it go.

My Beloved would tell me I have enough things to worry about without getting all stressed out about some woman and her grocery cart habits.

But I can't.

Maybe I just need a good night's sleep. And maybe I need to get to Price Chopper earlier in the week and much, much earlier in the day. Maybe that'll help too.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Smiles and chirps

It's funny the things that can drag you out of a melancholic stupor. I was mindlessly watering a slightly brown and obviously very, very thirsty patch of grass by Thomas' tree this afternoon when I saw Lady bird fly back to the house, for, oh about the 9 millionth time this week.

She's one busy new mommy, that girl. Steve is very rarely around anymore and she spends all the energy that little body can muster fetching worms and grubs and whatever else baby birds gorge themselves on day in and day out. It doesn't matter that it was blisteringly hot this afternoon - and humid too - she was out there to-ing and fro-ing like a madwoman. A very doting and devoted madwoman.

Anyway, she deposited whatever gastronomic delight she'd found, presumably into the mouth of one of her chirpy little babes, and instantly flew away. And that's when I saw a tiny head peep out of the hole, peer around and open his mouth in anticipation of mom's return. No flies on this dude - he was making sure to get the next meal come hell or high water.

I caught a fleeting glance of a second little head behind the first one, but it disappeared pretty quickly, clearly out maneuvered by his more determined sibling.

And suddenly I was standing there, hose in hand, grinning from ear to ear.

It actually might have been the first smile of the day - or at least the first one with true and unbridled joy behind it. I've forced out so many strained, joyless smiles in the last 16 months that sometimes I forget what it's like to experience ones that are fueled by sincere pleasure. They feel good. Really, really good.

Geez, I love those birds.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Angel Face rose, take II

I've had a busy, baby-filled day. I would write about it, but some days just living it is enough.

So instead I'm copping out and posting another picture of my angel face rose, this time beside the little stone boy I bought last summer to put in my then future angel garden.

I'm happy to report that he's fitting in well and providing a sweetly peaceful little spot to stand and ponder. What more could I ask of a little stone boy?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One step at a time

We've started down a new and completely uncharted path in our quest to become parents again. Yesterday, despite raging terror and feelings of shame resulting from 12 months of humiliating failure, we stepped into a fertility clinic and asked for help.

I should clarify that I'm the one who felt the shame and humiliation. And I should also clarify that for some reason I don't see other people who find themselves resorting to medical intervention to conceive as failures. I see them as brave and determined. It's just that being on this side of the fence I now understand what those brave and determined people might be feeling on the inside, despite appearances of calm resoluteness on the outside.

I wasn't so calm. Basically it's scary as hell telling someone you think you're broken - that you can't do what millions of people do successfully each and every day - when you're terrified that they'll actually fix you.

As much as I want another child, I'm deathly afraid that they'll repair my plumbing and I'll get pregnant, because then I'll have something to lose again, and I just don't know if I'm strong enough to have my heart broken a fourth time. How many times can your heart heal itself? How many dead children is one too many? The miscarriages were devastating and I can still hardly bear that we lost Thomas. How can I possibly do it again if, God forbid?

But how can I not at least try?

And so in we went, into the waiting room that looked like a set from some bad made for TV movie about an evil corporation with its gold frosted glass, pot lights and swirly carpet, and started filling out form after form after form.

Yes I've been pregnant. Yes I've had a miscarriage. Yes I've had a live birth. No I don't have any living children. Yes I'm old. No I don't do drugs. No I don't smoke. Yes I've had surgery. Yes I have high blood pressure - and this isn't helping at all, just so you know.

There was a measure of comfort in knowing that every couple who came through the doors after us understood, but I still kept thinking that I never in a million years imagined this is where I'd one day find myself.

I didn't sign up for this, is all I could think.

And yet, I did. I signed up in spades - and we got down to business pretty darn fast. I think I'd known the doctor all of 9 minutes before I found myself having a conversation with him sans pants. There's nothing quite as humbling as shaking the hand of a man who, in mere minutes, uses that same hand to determine if all your parts appear to be in working order.

But he was kind and offered us what my family physician has been unable to offer for 12 long months - hope and a plan.

I'm all about plans, and so when we left the evil corporation, stacks of paper and lab requisitions in hand, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I'm still terrified that one day I'll see two pink lines and know that I suddenly have another child that's mine to lose, but the getting there is no longer all up to me. I can hand this beautiful mess over to someone else and just be My Beloved's wife, my parents' daughter, my sister's sibling - I can just be me. I don't have to carry the weight of being the girl who can't get pregnant. That's someone else's problem now, and good luck to them.

Of course, if all goes well I will become the terrified pregnant girl, but they have counselors at the clinic who are trained to help the terrified, so I can make that someone else's problem too.

I like this delegating thing I've got going on, and I'm running with it. I'm running like the wind.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cookies and dads

Since there was a request (and I'm not the kind of girl to withhold critical cookie information from another girl) here's the recipe for the Chocolate Orange Biscotti I made yesterday. The plastic spatula bits are optional, but I'd leave them out altogether if I were you...

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then Grand Marnier and orange peel. Add flour mixture and beat until blended. Stir in pecans and chocolate. Gather dough together; divide in half. Wrap in plastic and freeze 20 minutes to firm.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Using floured hands, form each dough piece into 14-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer parchment with logs to rack. Cool 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Place 1 log on cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut log on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stand slices upright on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining log.

Bake biscotti until dry to touch and pale golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on rack. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container.)

Makes about 3 dozen.
Bon Appetit
August 2003

This seems to be a pretty adaptable recipe. I ended up making biscotti for my Dad too, using this recipe as a base. I substituted Sugar Twin for the white sugar, and instead of the orange liqueur, I used about two teaspoons of almond extract. I also left out the chocolate chips and orange peel. The dough was much thicker than the original recipe (most likely because of the sugar substitution and the smaller amount of liquid) so I added a little bit of water to loosen it up. Maybe about 1/4 - 1/3 of a cup. Everything else I did exactly the same and they turned out great!


Before I close, I want to wish fathers everywhere a very happy father's day. For those with children in heaven, I'm sending special wishes of peace to you.

And to My Beloved, who became a sweetly doting father the moment I showed him the second blue line, thank you for bravely walking through life teaching me what it means for a father to love a child he never had a chance to know. I'm grateful and blessed to be a witness to that love each and every day.

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 17, 2006

One of these bits just doesn't belong here

I decided to make home baked cookies for our Dads for Father's Day. Simple enough, and worth the little bit of effort on my part because both the Dads love sweets, particularly homemade ones.

I chose a diabetic friendly oatmeal date recipe for my Dad (which I've made before - it works really well and he loves them) and a chocolate, orange and pecan biscotti for my father-in-law.

Having never made biscotti before, I was anxious to try that recipe first. So I did.

What followed was a classic Kristin-style baking fiasco.

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, sometimes I don't even know why I bother trying.

Everything went swimmingly at first. Had all the ingredients, had the patience, had the inclination, had the time. Also had a really old spatula. Uh oh.

I measured, I mixed, I beat, I chopped, I cracked, I added, I poured, I beat again. And at the end of it all I used the old spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and get off every last bit of dough off the beater. Then I formed the dough into logs to freeze for 20 minutes, as indicated, and set about to clean up my mess.

Which is precisely when I noticed that the tip of the old spatula was missing a piece of plastic. It was in tact when I started - I knew it was. The partial amputation happened during the biscotti making process - and I don't know when. Did it happen when I was scraping the sides of the bowl or when I was cleaning off the beater? Or did it happen after all contact with the dough ended - when I was rinsing off the batter leaden spatula?

I dunno.

So I sat down and watched TV, my possibly contaminated dough logs freezing happily in the freezer.

I waited until My Beloved came back from the barber to see what he thought I should do. I know the logical thing would have been to throw the works out and start again, but I used up all the chocolate and all the oranges I had in the first batch. And then there's the whole starting again issue. Because I was fast running out of patience and inclination and still had my Dad's cookies to make.

When he got home and heard my tale of culinary woe, My Beloved kindly suggested throwing out the dough. He didn't want to risk giving contaminated cookies to his father.

I hate that he's such a good son.

I suggested that maybe if I looked through the dough really carefully I could find the plastic, and if I didn't, we'd know it actually had gone down the drain. He was reluctant to accept my plan, but also loathe to disagree with me, since I think I was whipped up into a pretty good frenzy of cookie despair by that point.

Which is how I found myself pawing through two logs of very sticky biscotti dough trying to distinguish chunks of pecans and chocolate from errant spatula bits. Cursing inwardly all the while.

In the end, I didn't find a thing and baked both dough logs, then sliced them and re-baked the cookies, turning them into the most delicious biscotti I've ever tasted (if I do say so myself). They neatly filled the cookie jar we bought to put them in, with the exception of one delectably large specimen that I decided My Beloved and I would split for dessert.

Which we did.

I know you won't believe me when I tell you this, but I swear it's true (you can ask My Beloved - he's The Ess Space in my links). When I popped the last bit of my half of the biscotti into my mouth, I chomped down on the missing piece of spatula. The gods saved it for me. Which is actually a good thing, I suppose, because now we don't have to warn the in-laws about foreign objects in their cookies. None the wiser works for me.

Unless, of course, they read this.

And in that case, L and P, please accept this public apology for giving you pawed through cookies contaminated with plastic spatula bits. I will completely understand if henceforth you refuse any and all baked, cooked or in any way pre-prepared gifts of food from our house. If you'd rather I just share the recipes and perhaps buy the ingredients from here on in, just let me know.

You know, it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't already made them cake with rancid icing a few years ago. I'm 0 for 2 so far...

Friday, June 16, 2006


I haven't looked at Thomas' pictures in a while, other than the one or two we have around the house in frames (always the same one or two).

So I decided to take a look at all the rest of them just now. I missed him. I wanted to see him again.

And it was weird. So much time has passed that I can barely believe he's mine anymore - that we made him and I carried him and gave birth to him. I looked at him with confusion, longing, sorrow - agony.

I had so little time with him, I can really only remember him from these photos, which makes him less real in so many ways.

I hate that.

I stopped on one particular picture, one of him shortly after he was born with a million tubes and wires protruding from his tiny, perfect body, and I had the urge to grab him, yank out all the equipment and run. Just run, run, run away with my beautiful little boy.

I would give my life to hold him just one more time. To feel the weight of him, warm and soft, in my arms.

I guess that never goes away. Not even after almost 16 months.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit.

Most of the time I can look at his pictures and feel more love than sorrow. Or at least feel love first before I notice the pain.

But not today, for some reason. Which means I have to go find a way to distract myself. Laundry sounds good - and I have to move the hose soon. That'll do for now.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I rant, therefore I am

I have a gigantic Britney Spears rant stuck inside me - a really good one with gobs of sarcasm, a few curse words and a fair bit of venom - but I've been thinking that maybe this ranting business isn't such a good idea. I think maybe I indulge in it a little too much sometimes.

So I think I can curb this one, particularly since I've already unleashed it on My Beloved and diffused the rage a little bit anyway.

My Beloved and I have talked about this a lot - about how the anger we feel about what happened to us and our Thomas has leeched into other parts of our lives and rendered us bitter, jaded and decidedly curmudgeonly.

In short, we have no patience for a lot of the things we used to. Like Britney Spears and her boo-hooing about how awful her lot in life is. You know, the one she chose. The one she continues to pursue even as she damns the people watching her pursue it for watching her pursue it, which is what they're supposed to be doing in the first place.

Someone needs to buy the girl a dictionary so she can look up the meaning of celebrity. Someone also needs to send her some fabric since her clothes seem to be missing some bits and pieces. Like the parts that cover her boobs.

But I digress.

I've been wondering lately if we're simply keeping that anger at a healthy simmer by indulging in our rants and raves about everything from Bush to hidden trans fats. Because we do it all the time, My Beloved and I. We feed off each other's righteous indignation about whatever thing, person or event has most recently ticked us off, and off we go.

It feels good at the end of it, all that blowing off of steam, but maybe it's not as healthy as it feels.

Maybe it just makes us ugly, sad people that eventually no one is going to want to be around.

The only problem is, I don't know what else to do with the anger if I don't let it out in caustic vents about Britney's questionable mothering skills and atrocious fashion sense.

Is this just all part of the long grieving process or are we forever destined to be these two angry, wounded souls finding solace in our shared disdain? Have we already walked too far down this road to return to the happy place? Can we ever see life the way we once did? Does the ranting help or hinder our healing?

How can you stop being angry at the world when there's no one to blame for the sorrow you can't escape from no matter how hard you try?

I have no answers.

Just this fabulous Britney rant I'm holding in with all my might.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A simple question

I just held the neighbour's two-week old baby - the first one I've had in my arms since my own.

I can still smell her baby scent on my hands.

Is it possible to die from this agony? Is it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Recently overheard

What follows is the tail end of a very grown-up discussion about reproductive health, adoption and fertility:

My Beloved: Do you think maybe we could just do what Barney and Betty did?
Me: I dunno. What did they do?
My Beloved: One night they wished upon a star and the next morning Bam-Bam just showed up.
Me: Yes. Yes that would be good. Let's do that.
My Beloved: Or we could move to Kansas and buy a farm, and then maybe a super-strong boy from another plant would crash land in our field and we could just take him home.
Me: Another good plan, yes. Okay then.

So we're just going to sit around and hope for a nice, neat, happy cartoon and/or comic book ending to our tale of loss and secondary infertility, if you don't mind.

'Cause so far real life just ain't cuttin' it for us.

New arrivals - a whole flock of them!

Any strange little twitterings that I happen to hear I generally assume are coming from the deep, dark recesses of my damaged little mind. But on Saturday I realized that the tiny noises I was hearing weren't actually coming from me. Instead, they were coming from Steve and Lady's little love nest.

Is it ridiculous that the deep blue funk I was in faded almost completely when I heard the tiny chirpring sounds coming from inside the birdhouse as I weeded the angel garden?

I excitedly called up To My Beloved and threw my arms up in the air in a ridiculous display of joy as I told him that Steve and Lady were the proud parents of...of a bunch of tiny chirping sounds.

We have yet to see evidence of the hatchlings, but I can tell by the almost constant chorus of impossibly tiny little warbles that there is indeed a flock of wee ones inside the birdhouse.

I've been viciously protective ever since. Yesterday I chased away a starling who was dangerously close to poking his beak in where it didn't belong, and this afternoon I kept a close eye on two little sparrows who appeared to be searching for real estate. They flew off on their own after peeking into the full house, but I was *this* close to rushing out in a flurry of panicked lady - arms flailing, hands clapping.

I don't know if the birds actually need someone to run this kind of interference or not - they seem startlingly oblivious to the interlopers - but I'll keep on doing it just the same because I feel responsible for this little family of birds who have given me so much joy these past few months. I'm so thankful they're part of my little backyard world and it's the least I can do to repay them for taking up residence.

My only concern is that when they all fly away (and fly away they will some day) I'll collapse in a fit of panic a la Tony Soprano, first season. You know, the thing with the ducks?

I wonder if I can coerce the sparrows into coming back when Steve, Lady and the kids finally fly the coop.

Do they make miniature for rent signs?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

Trust me, it's for your own good

Grumpy. Oh so very, very grumpy.

And so I shall spare you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No blog, just a blankie

I'm having a cloudy-headed sort of day where I'm wrestling with everything from how to stop eating the chocolate syrup I bought yesterday to figuring out what my purpose in life is (because how will I know if I've fulfilled it if I don't know what it is?).

So instead of trying to write a coherent blog, I'm just going to post photos of the blankie I made for the new baby next door. We didn't know she was a girl, so I had to go with gender neutral colours.

I'm dying to make a gender specific blanket, so I'd really appreciate it if the next friend or family member who gets pregnant could find out what they're having so I can crochet in pink or blue.

Because remember, it's all about me.

Anyway, here's blankie number three (a couple of shots because I stink at taking photos of blankies):

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How to water the lawn and garden in 70 easy steps

Step 1. Slather sweet-smelling sun block onto doughy, underbelly-of-a-fish-white arms. Wipe the excess off on shorts. Ignore legs, which haven’t seen sun since Prince partied like it was 1999 and could use a little exposure.

Step 2. Take a quick peek at the windows of neighbouring houses to determine if anyone will get a glimpse of said doughy arms and snowy legs.

Step 3. Venture out.

Step 4. Dig sprinkler out of giant Tupperware container posing as makeshift tool shed, being careful to check for spiders and other crawlies that might find the inside of a giant Tupperware shed-tub interesting.

Step 5. Attach sprinkler to hose.

Step 6. Secretly gloat at how smoothly the process is going thus far.

Step 7. Jam sprinkler anchor into grass.

Step 8. Turn on water

Step 9. Quickly realize that sprinkler is in the wrong spot.

Step 10. Turn off water.

Step 11. Uproot sprinkler and move one foot.

Step 12. Turn on water.

Step 13. Quickly realize that sprinkler is in the wrong spot.

Step 14. Turn off water.

Step 15. Uproot sprinkler and move another foot.

Step 16. Turn on water.

Step 17. Watch sprinkler fttt-fttt-fttt-ftttt its way around the yard.

Step 18. Duck behind the gate to avoid getting wet as the sprinkler passes by

Step 19. Get wet anyway.

Step 20. Once again realize sprinkler is in the wrong spot.

Step 21. Decide to turn water down instead of all the way off.

Step 22. Uproot sprinkler and move two feet, getting wet in the process.

Step 23. Turn water to full strength.

Step 24. Watch sprinkler fttt-fttt-fttt-fttt its way around the yard.

Step 25. Determine sprinkler is still in the wrong spot.

Step 26 Begin fuming.

Step 27. Turn water down and move one foot, getting wet in the process.

Step 28. Turn water back up.

Step 29. See a glimmer of hope.

Step 30. Determine sprinkler is in the right spot.

Step 31. Rejoice.

Step 32. Step on anchor handle to securely jam sprinkler anchor into the ground.

Step 33. Feel your heart sink as you hear a “snap” and watch the sprinkler fall over, its anchor now buried somewhere in the lawn.

Step 34. Paw through the muddy, wet grass in a vain attempt to find the broken anchor (thinking horrible thoughts about someone stepping on its rusty, partially buried head sometime in the future).

Step 35. Give up looking for anchor, but determine where you think it might be using immovable yard landmarks. Make a mental note to check for it in the early spring before the grass starts growing.

Step 36. Turn off water.

Step 37. Mutter unthinkable curse words while unhooking broken sprinkler from hose.

Step 38. Fling broken sprinkler on the ground in a fit of rage.

Step 39. Storm inside to retrieve back-up sprinkler from garage.

Step 40. Track bits of grass through the house.

Step 41. Take off water-soaked watch and deposit someplace where it will be difficult to find the next time it's needed.

Step 42. Take back-up sprinkler outside.

Step 43. Attach back-up sprinkler to hose and place in a good spot.

Step 42. Turn on water.

Step 43. Determine that sprinkler is in the wrong spot.

Step 44. Turn off water

Step 45. Move sprinkler

Step 46. Turn on water.

Step 47. Determine that sprinkler is in an okay spot, but needs to have additional side jets opened to reach the edges of the garden

Step 48. Turn off water.

Step 49. Open side jets.

Step 50. Turn on water.

Step 51. Turn water up.

Step 52. Turn water up.

Step 53. Wonder why water won’t turn up.

Step 54. Assume it’s a pressure issue that has something to do with additional side jets.

Step 55. Stand there watching sprinkler not reaching the edges of the garden.

Step 56. Determine that instead of watering the lawn and gardens all in one shot, sprinkler must be moved to a new location and then moved again in an hour.

Step 57. Turn off water.

Step 58. Move sprinkler.

Step 59 Turn on water.

Step 60. Suppress the urge to cry.

Step 61. Turn off water.

Step 62. Move sprinkler one foot.

Step 63. Turn on water.

Step 64. Hold breath.

Step 65. Release breath in a quiet sigh of victory.

Step 66. Retreat inside.

Step 67. Track more bits of wet grass through the house.

Step 68. Locate watch.

Step 69. Determine that the entire process took the better part of an hour.

Step 70. Quietly pray that no one was watching.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The wanderer

I was out wandering in the yard again this morning. I wander out there just about every single day, looking for new buds, signs of healthy growth, evidence of massacring bunnies - that kind of thing.

This morning I found a proliferation of tiny weeds. I have no idea where they came from because I swear they weren't there the last time I looked. The vegetable garden is clean, but the angel garden, not so much.

They'll be evicted soon, probably tomorrow. Today I was watering and didn't feel like pawing through mud to extricate the interlopers, but rest assured I'll get every last one of them.

I often think I probably look like a moron. The yard-wandering, sometimes camera-wielding idiot who can't stop looking at her masterpiece (which, to someone who doesn't understand its meaning, is still a pretty uninspiring mess of seedlings that need to fill out. A lot). And when I'm not in the yard, I can often be found gazing at the garden from one of the windows that faces it.

Seriously. I look at it a lot.

Everything in it seems to hold so much importance to me. I have audibly gasped at the sight of wilted rose leaves and fretted far too much about what the wilting might mean for the long-term health of the bush.

My Beloved has reminded me (more than once) that they're just plants. And it's true - I know that. But I have an attachment to them that is bordering on pathological. The seedlings that I planted just after Thomas' first birthday and tenderly nurtured through the bitter tail end of winter and into the spring - they're in there. The Angel Face rose that I searched for in vain and finally found one day, quite by accident - it's in there. The New Dawn climbing rose that my Dad helped me pick out - it's out there too, beside the angel garden. The "Sentimental Blue" Balloon flower I planted for another little angel (Thomas' buddy Ryan) - it's there too, tucked in beside a solar light just beneath the birdhouse.

Everything I've planted has a deeper meaning. The zinnias and cosmos were favourites of my Grandmothers. The Cranberry Cotoneaster was a gift in Thomas' memory from my Aunt. Snapdragons put a twinkle in my Dad's eye and morning glories make my Mom smile.

I chose each plant for a reason, and so everything means that much more to me, even if no one understands why.

It's tiring being so sentimental sometimes, but it's also good to have found a relatively constructive and certainly beautiful way to feel so connected to memories - and to special people I love so much.

If that makes me a moron, I can live with that.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

If you have a minute and a good idea...

One of the bloggers I stumbled upon not too long ago is pregnant with her second child after losing her first, a little girl named Kaily, when she was just four months pregnant.

She's doing well, but is on strict bedrest - and kind of going out of her mind.

If you have any ideas for keeping Becci busy (interesting websites, good books, craft projects - whatever) please drop by her blog and let her know. I'm sure she'll be happy to have your suggestions and a few extra comments to read the next time she checks her site!


Becci's blog: "Bedrest and Beyond"

But you can call me by my first name

As of today we've been officially trying for a year.

The definition of infertility is twelve months of unprotected, well-timed sex that fails to result in a pregnancy.

Great. Just what I needed - a new label.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

The prodigal pants

The dry cleaner lost My Beloved's pants. It wouldn't have been so bad except that they were the bottom half of one of his only two suits. I took in a completely replaceable blue dress shirt and a pair of pants that would render the matching suit jacket (at home in the closet) useless if something happened to them. And naturally they lost the pants.


As I was standing at the desk watching the clerk frantically zipping through the endless line of strangers' clothes in a vain search for the missing trousers, I realized (with a sudden and stupid panic) that those pants belonged to the suit My Beloved wore to Thomas' funeral.

I have a vicious attachment to everything from that time - from Thomas' time - and I need to be the one in control of what stays and what goes and when the departures are scheduled. We donated the nursery supplies (creams, diapers, etc.) to an unwed mother's shelter immediately, and other items I wasn't too attached too (like the diaper bag and boppy pillow) went a few months later. But It took me a full year to give away the crib bedding and nursery set. I had to pick just the right time and really feel it.

It's just the way it is when you're letting go of things that are worth so much more than they may appear to on the surface.

I'm aware that at some point the suit My Beloved wore to Thomas' funeral will join all our other discarded clothes in garbage bags bound for charities. I know he won't have it forever. But I just didn't want the pants to go this way - lost in a sea of other peoples' pants or trapped in the closet of a stranger too disorganized to return them.

I was upset, yes, but not mad. I remained calm and repeatedly assured the frantic clerk that it was okay. Even though it really wasn't. Aside from the sentimental attachment, I knew the loss would mean we'd have to buy a whole new suit. A task that wouldn't particularly please either of us (the one that worries about money or the other that finds shopping boring).

But regardless, I just couldn't be mad at her. It's not her fault that a black cloud seems to follow My Beloved and I where'er we go these days. I was tempting fate by relinquishing something of value and foolish to expect it to return unscathed.

Life just doesn't work that way anymore. Fate isn't always kind, so the best thing to do is be prepared to lose your pants.

Seriously, this is totally our kind of luck.

I mean, I realize the two of us make it through every day without major injury, we have a roof over our heads, we have food on the table, we have money coming into the house and we're relatively sane. Most days.

But if someone's going to lose a pair of pants at the dry cleaners, you can bet it'll be one of us.

As I pondered this new development, I realized that maybe I could use the missing pants to my advantage. I told My Beloved that maybe I should offer God a deal. The pants for a take-home baby.

"I'll tell him he can keep the pants," I said, "if he sends us a baby."

I imagine God probably doesn't work this way and wouldn't think pants for a baby is a fair deal even if he did - despite the fact that the pants have the added value of being part of a suit - but hell, anything's worth a shot at this point, right?

This afternoon the dry cleaner called back with good news. Someone returned the pants and they're available for pick-up. They're no longer lost. They're safe and sound. Hooray!

"I guess God didn't like the deal", I said to My Beloved as we headed out the door this afternoon.

"Well," he said thoughtfully, "I guess sometimes all you get is your pants back."


Friday, June 02, 2006

Angel Face

My beautiful Angel Face rose is in bloom! And the forsythia (that was startled into a dramatic wilt by a bout of cold, wet weather we got just after we planted it) seems to be coming back just fine too.

All's well in the garden.

Speaking of wilting, being a rose novice I was also a little concerned about a bit of wilting I saw on the newer (darker) leaves of the Angel Face. But I suspect it was the sudden three-day heat wave we had earlier this week. I think it just shocked the poor thing a wee bit, given that it hardly had time to acclimate itself before God flicked on the extra burner.

I nipped off the wilted (and slightly crispy) leaves the other day and it seems just fine now - and very, very beautiful indeed.

But I'll let you be the judge...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A safe arrival

Our neighbours had their baby - an 8 pound, 2 ounce girl - at 9:00pm last night. Mommy and baby are doing just fine and should be home by the weekend.

Welcome to the world baby J! We can't wait to meet you, little sweet cheeks.

P.S. God, I don't know how prayers work anymore, but if it was mine you were listening to, thanks.