Sunday, April 25, 2010


The field that runs alongside our gravel road is mainly used to intermittently house horses and, on weekends, people who come and ride them for the day.

Last week, someone came along and dumped a truckload of construction rubble at the end of it that the horses don't really use. We wondered if accepting construction debris might be another way for the owner to make money from the property, and then Bob noticed that the debris seemed to contain a fair number of bricks.

Our front, umm, area is tiled where the car goes, poured cement leading up to the door, and semi-cemented/semi-hard-packed-dirt in the remaining wedge-shaped space, backed by an untreated cinder block wall. Yeah, it's about as attractive as it sounds.

We'd like to fix it up a little, but there's no real danger of anything actually growing there, since the dirt is so packed and part of it is actually concrete anyway, and all our "it really belongs outside" stuff ends up leaning up against the wall.

I thought if we could loosen the soil just a bit along the bottom of the wall (and find another spot for all the junk), maybe we could get some sort of climbing vine to go up the wall at least. And when Bob saw the bricks, he suggested asking for some of them and stacking a couple of rows up to maybe hold in some additional dirt, in which perhaps something might one day grow.

I asked about the bricks yesterday, and the guy said he'd actually brought them to "load" the horses. Not sure if that means he's going to train them to carry loads, or build something up which they might walk when loaded into the trucks, or ... well, anything really.

But he also said we could take some, and when I got home from dropping Bob off this morning (he has to leave the country every 90 days to renew his tourist visa), the same guy waved me over and said he'd pulled some bricks aside, and that I should leave those and pick what I wanted from the rest.

So that's what I did, using a couple of the cat litter buckets and making ... well, I didn't count at the time, but about nine two-bucket trips based on the number of bricks. They're homemade adobe bricks, clearly from an old house that was demolished, and a decent number of them were relatively whole.

I found a little chunk of broken cinder block with which to knock bits of mortar off the bricks, and now we have a pretty little dry-stacked wall into which we may eventually place some dirt:

The whole thing probably took an hour and a half or two. Then when I was done the kitty got up from her nap, strolled over to the door and said, "Dayum. How long was I asleep?"

And then she said, "Okay. Nuffa dat."

The end.

Monday, April 19, 2010

In which I feel like a foreigner. Or a liberal. Or something.

They had a parents' meeting at school today. Usually I find them A) Boring, because they address all the same stuff every time, and B) Encouraging, because they reinforce that the school has a positive, caring approach to education.

Today was all of that and more, where "more" is comprised largely of pretty basic psychology with which I don't disagree ("It's not your job to make your child happy, it's your job to provide your child with the tools with which to build his/her own happiness!"), but which I don't really need to sit in a very hard, too-small chair to nod along to.

There was also the requisite head-shaking at Society Today (TM) where, it seems, children think they can have it all and parents want to give children everything they, the parents, didn't have as kids. Except, of course, for those of us who had more growing up than they can currently provide to their children. Really I'm okay with it; we do have what we need and some extras, but I don't really need to be preached at about buying kids All The Latest Gadgets and watching them go un-played-with, TYVM. On a tiny, hard chair.

Plus, while I generally consider the school to be fairly progressive, we did hit a couple of snags this evening. It seems Society is in transition from a sexist society to...umm. NOT a feminist one, certainly not! But, well, something else anyway. It's very conFUsing, apparently. Do boys open doors for girls or do they don't? Do they pick up the tab on a date or will they get the evil eye for suggesting it? Apparently these are still Very Difficult Questions.

I had the unanticipated opportunity to make my own small pitch for Feminism and Fairness today, when the ballet class was discussed and I suggested that, next year, the girls be allowed to wear the same "uniform" as the boys. Currently, the girls are required to buy $25 worth of leotards and tights, plus the shoes which I don't even know how much those are because Julia's still fit. Plus a bun. The bun is very important.

Boys wear tank tops & shorts.

I suggested that girls are expected from a young age to invest time and money in their appearance, and that for the purposes of the dance class, what is really required is freedom of movement, which might be afforded by, say, tank tops & shorts.

The response was twofold: But it's ballet. So the ballet clothing Must Be Worn. However, of course we aren't going to be putting leotards on boys. Heavens no. Either the boys (in some cases) or their parents (in others) would never stand for that. The end.

There was also a question from the mother of a boy with shoulder-length hair, who has apparently been spoken to about Personal Presentation. This was answered with appropriate discussion of general personal grooming and such, but there was also a bit of "well, as long as it's not too long. I mean, it's not like we've had a boy who wanted his hair down to his waist."

I rather hope they get one. Or that Phillip becomes one.

Anyway. I still like the school very much and I think it is more progressive than most, (especially around here and within my budget). But jeez. Between the dumbed-down, feet-on-the-ground "it's okay to have your own needs" psychology (Which, again--not disagreeing, just been there and back and had other things to do this evening and softer chairs to do it on) and the not-quite-there-yet with respect to certain elements of feminism (like, for instance, being comfortable with the word "feminism"), I guess even in a parents' meeting at a Montessori school I'm The Liberal One.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Some favorites

Now that the new hard drive is running and trustworthy and everything, I finally got my massive backup file of photos off of Bob's computer and, at Lisa's suggestion, installed Picasa to help me deal with it. I had used Picasa before, but hadn't kept up with it.

Now that I'm starting fresh (and Picasa has more features), it seems to be a handy thing. I've spent a lot of these vacation days organizing the folders on my computer and eliminating duplicates, and checking Picasa's face recognition picks and adding ones it missed so that the "sort by people" feature is pretty well set up. It's very cool.

Yesterday I stuck a bunch of my favorites into the screensaver file, and I thought I'd share a few particular favorites here. There are still several CDs of photos that were backed up in a different place and haven't been restored to the new computer, but these are some of the best photos from the batch I've been working with this week:

A click a day for good causes

The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site The Child Health Site The Literacy Site The Rainforest Site The Animal Rescue Site

Added 6/12/06

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