spring cleaning

I have been aching to do some spring cleaning for about a month now. I have daydreamed about throwing unnecessary clutter in the trash. I have picked out a new area rug to buy and made a list of summer sewing and painting projects. Sometimes, when I close my eyes to sleep at night, I can picture what it would be like to go through drawers, closets, and shelves.

And, of course, now that the end of the semester has come, my classes' grades are submitted, and I have no set schedule, I keep putting it off. For the next day, I can blame it on my thesis revisions. But after that, I have no excuses. I think that because I've set up this idea in my mind that everything must be rummaged through and reorganized, the enormity of the task daunts me.

My husband is helping me realize I can start small. He fixed up the fancy header at the top of our blog and says that it's probably time to sleep now, even though our blog reformatting isn't completely finished. We'll clean up around here for the next day or so. And then I'll actually have to get out the broom and the vacuum and get to work.

Vote for my brother's band

Go to X-96


and vote for Belly of the Whale so we can play the B.A.SH.!

Nick says, "and tell everyone you know to do the same baby!"

if he won't buy you flowers...

Let me say this first: my husband does perfect, wonderful, kind things for me every day. He is pretty much the best. We just see flowers differently.

For me, the act of giving flowers is a thoughtful gesture that simultaneously beautifies. For him, the act of cutting a plant off its roots, sticking it in a glass container, and watching it slowly die seems useless. Even so, he bought me this beautiful arrangement a few weeks ago:

Not long after the purchase of this bouquet, he started a cool project which gives him a very good reason—even with his anti-blossom tendencies—to buy more flowers from now on.

He spent many hours drilling. Through wood.

And plastic.

To make this:

It's a composting bin. Go here to learn how to make one yourself.

After letting the paint dry and setting it up in the backyard, we put all sorts of scraps inside: weeds, dead leaves, strawberry tops.

And those lovely (and now, very useful) flowers that had just finished wilting.

Flowers: a beautiful gift, and a useful element of compost. The differing man/woman mindset regarding their utility? Solved.

Why'd the Chicken . . .

We had an Easter miracle on Saturday morning. I came home from the store to find a baby chick in our yard.
I ran inside to tell Kathy, and the chick ran after me. When Kathy came out it ran up to us and started chirping. We fed it soggy oatmeal and put it in a box to protect it from the cat that lives in our garage.
We asked our neighbor if she had chickens. She said she wished she did, and came over to see it. She named it Lucky, because it was lucky to find Kathy and I.

We called our farmer, Julie, at the Clifford family farm. She said her chickens had just had chicks and that lucky would fit right in with them.
She just sent this email:
just wanted to let you know lucky is doing fine. if you want to see lucky or look around, feel free. my phone is ___-____ if you call then I can show you lucky. he's in the outside brooder with the other "big boys" He's probably a leghorn and a little older than we thought -I'd say about 3 weeks. thanks- julie

Happy Easter. Make sure to watch this soon.

twenty-three is a good number

I'm going to feel stupid if my brother is actually turning 22 or 24 or 35 or something and I write too few or too many cool things about him. I'm moving ahead under the assumption that he was born 23 years ago today:

1. Daniel is the only person whose hugs make me nervous. They're fabulous, big, strong hugs—that make me wonder if my spine will crack.

2. He has a childhood nickname (Dan-O) that didn't grow out of some 5th grade attempt to name himself something he thought was cool and everyone else thought was lame. You know those people: "My name's Jim, but I like it when people call me Bruiser."

3. When we were kids, Dan-O put up with me one afternoon when I sat him down after a Sunday school lesson to preach to him. The subject of my sermon? Why his fights with me were a symptom of pride. I (of course) was not prideful at all about this.

4. When we were younger, he suffered through all my ballet recitals. Even the junior version of the Nutcracker at the Festival of Trees, and the one where I was dressed as a dancing moonbeam (?). I like to think that I helped him to be as cultured as he is—or as patient.

5. Our family raised rabbits for a while. While I was wholly willing to help with petting the rabbits and filling their water bottles, I wasn't so faithful with cleaning their cages. Daniel usually signed up as the fall guy to clean up bunny poop.

6. He knew how to create and maintain websites before I understood what they were.

7. Daniel never lets me win any game. If I win, it's because I earned it.

8. Daniel can bend his finger all the way backward to touch his wrist. He laughs when he does this, so that it seems like no big deal. But it is. Everyone else is freaking out and waiting to hear his finger break.

9. I needed to know how to kick when doing the breaststroke. But we didn't have a pool handy. So Daniel balanced on a chair—and risked looking silly—to teach me.

10. He has great taste in sisters. His three sisters are probably the best there are. Nice choice, Dan-O.

11. When Daniel came home from his mission, my parents bought him lunch, and then I asked if he would finish eating already and help set up tables and pavilions for my wedding reception the very next day. He didn't gripe at all that I eclipsed his homecoming glory with something as self-absorbed as a froofy dress and a big cake.

12. Daniel's at least willing to try speaking Spanish with me, even though I usually revert to Portuguese—which makes me sound drunk in Spanish.

13. He wrote a post on
his blog today—the 4th post this year.

14. Daniel has mastered jumping off snow-covered cliffs with skis strapped to his feet, while simultaneously not killing himself.

15. He has WAY better stories about the crazy things he did in high school than I do. I'm so jealous. I didn't even think of doing stuff like that to a broken car.

16. If I lend him a stack of books, Daniel reads and returns them before I would have time to even glance at all the covers.

17. He always texts me back right away. And he's not offended when I'm slow in responding (or when I lose my phone for a month and fail to text/call back at all).

18. Daniel's smart enough to do anything he wants. He says his facility with varied skills is a simple matter of breaking down the essential elements of a task and recreating them. You know, break down the essential elements that constitute good watercolor paintings and then just reproduce them yourself. Yeah, he's that smart.

19. Daniel knows how to think things through.

20. Daniel knows how to work hard.

21. Daniel knows he can kick most anybody's butt.

22. Daniel knows how to exercise self discipline more than most people I know. Sometimes, I think he makes things happen with his mind.

23. Daniel was born! Happy Birthday!

Budgeting Help

I just learned about mint.com in my finance class. It helps you keep track of your spending.

You input your bank account information, which was a little scary for me, but several people in my class assured me that it is legit. And it tells you what you've spent your money on.
I liked how it worked. I had to spend some time editing some of the categories, but I had fun doing it.

Good luck keeping track of your pennies.

Wallet, Eggs, and Stauffer's

I made eggs that looked like eyeballs and spiderwebs. They would be great for Halloween, though I intended them for Easter.
We saw these Goldfish ripoffs at the store.
Not only did they steal the product, but they stole the brand, which looks like Stouffer's one of the largest and most trustworthy food processors in the world.
And my new wallet is the coolest. I still have my first one, which I bought when I was 16, and have glued back together more than once.
My new one looks just like a piece of paper, but it's made out of super-strong tyvek.

And I forgot to take a final this week. I went in on Wednesday, and the testing people said it ended Tuesday. Oops. There goes 30% of my grade. I emailed the teacher to ask for mercy, but he's kind of old, and I don't think he uses the internet.