Friday, April 29, 2005

Ears Looking at You

I've been very busy the last couple of days taking care of the Monkey. Wednesday night she was up all night crying and fussing. By all night, I do mean ALL NIGHT. She'd fall asleep for 15 or 20 minutes and then wake up again crying. The only thing we could get out of her was that her ears hurt. I was up with her the whole time. She had a fever. Nothing made her feel better.

Now some parents of young children will read this and know what the problem was immediately. Unfortunately, I am not one of those parents. I am quite aware of the symptoms of various tropical illnesses - malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis... The doctor and I both ruled out meningitis right away due to the mobility of her head and neck. But an ear infection? Sorry, I'm lost. You see, the Monkey is never sick (I will get no sympathy for that statement, I know). She's had one sick visit to the doctor and she'll be three in two weeks. So, when she said her ears hurt, I believed her, but wasn't sure where to go from there. I tried to make her comfortable and gave her some tylenol for pain and fever. Where was my old copy of "Where There Is No Doctor"? Big Daddy took over around 5 a.m. and sent me to bed. He called his office and told them he'd be in later in the day. Big Daddy is a good man.

By yesterday late morning she had a fever of 103 and stuff draining out of her ears. I called the doctor - our new doctor, who I haven't even met yet, as her first annual visit isn't scheduled until the end of next month. Like I said, she's never sick. They took her right away. It was a simple diagnosis of a particularly nasty ear infection and after her first two doses of antibiotics, she's doing quite well. Well enough to climb up on the kitchen counters to look for candy in the cabinets. And finding no candy, turned to the powdered sugar.

We are taking it easy today. Her fever was gone this morning. We had to stop by her future preschool and give them some forms and all my money. Monkey felt fine enough to request a stop by the bakery. I indulged her then we came home.


There is a little bakery that we like to visit in Black Mountain. We go at least once a week after Kindermusik class. It is nothing fancy. We are quite used to fancy. Chef Boots, our dear friend and Big Daddy's college roommate, left his international banking career to study pastries and bread at the Cordon Bleu. We await his visits with bated breath and are never disappointed with his wonderful breads and magic sweet surprises that he seems to be able to create out of the most ordinary of our kitchen reserves. Another long-time friend works for a little French boulangerie/patisserie in Kansas City. They over-indulged me by making my wedding cake of delicate layers of sponge cake sandwiched between liqueur-soaked strawberries and buttercream after they said "We don't do wedding cakes." I miss that place! Sorry, now I'm rambling.

What I like about the Black Mountain Bakery is it's simplicity. Simple, yet good, loaves of bread, cookies and pastries. There is coffee. It has very little in common with the laptop-filled coffee house down the road with it's latte-swilling, over-priced muffin-eating crowd. The bakery serves good roasts of coffee at a decent price. It offers two varieties of regular and decaf each day. It's a mixed crowd and it is kid friendly*. Monkey calls her personal favorite the Cinnamon Mountain. It is an apt description of the cinnamon rolls that sometimes surpass the size of her head. I was pleasantly surprised by the croissants today. I've only seen them there once before, and like I said, I'm spoiled and would rather do without than do with mediocre. Today I felt like trying one and ended up buying a few more to bring home.


*I haven't ever worried about "kid-friendly" too much. I've always figured that Monkey would do better if she knew from the beginning how to behave in public places. Her first restaurant experience was our favorite French bistro while still in her baby carrier. I think my mantra has worked. When we do go for our rare fast food feast at Chik-Fil-A, she enters the restaurant muttering, "Restaurants are for eating, not for playing" and sails right past the play area. However, what I've noticed in this area is that some places, such as the coffee shop in Black Mountain and a few restaurants around Asheville do not like children, even well-behaved Monkey. The coffee shop went so far as to send a letter to Kindermusik parents (the class is next door at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts) to inform them of how children were to behave (granted, I've seen some pretty ill-behaved children in there). We visited a few restaurants that didn't have high chairs or booster seats when we first arrived here. We don't go to them any more. I'm not talking high end restaurants either. Most of those treat Monkey with a grace equaling her self-imposed royal status. The well-intentioned attention to my child will guarantee our return and a very good tip. So when I say kid-friendly what I really mean is kid-welcoming. With a little early conditioning, attentive service, and the promise of creme brulee even the most feisty of monkeys can be a charming dinner companion. We've just learned to order Monkey's dessert when our meal comes. Instant peace and time to finish the wine.

And now I realize I've written quite more than normal and Monkey is napping, so I think I'll go outside and work in the garden. My carrots need weeding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Potty Talk

Conversation overheard in a public restroom:

Monkey: "Mommy are you going potty?"
Me: "Yeah."
Monkey: "Good job pooping, Mommy!"
Me: "Thanks, Monkey."
Monkey: "Do you need help wiping?"
Me: "I think I can handle it."
Monkey: "O.K. Good job!"

Oh, the joys of parenthood.

day 3

All the little chickies are doing well. My friend, Kristin, thinks the mystery chick may be a Silver Spangled Hamburg. Sounds fancy! Sounds sparkly! She called it evil. I'm going to call him Mooney*. We'll see just how evil he is. If he's really evil, maybe we'll call him Dumpling.
For reference - the black ones with white around their eyes are Black Australorps. The black ones with a white dot on the back of the head are Dominiques. The speckled-headed ones are Golden Laced Wyandottes and the red ones are Rhode Island Reds. The Golden Polish are missing from the picture. They have a little top knot of feathers on the top of the head.

Monkey said her favorite was the black one. There are 12 generally black ones. Only four will remain black. She named her favorite Gigi and wants to go see it about every 15 minutes. Gigi welcome to the family.

*The Hamburgs were once called Mooneys in England. I have no idea why, but there's no need to mess with tradition.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

chick chick here and a....

The chicks are here! I went to the bowels of the post office and picked them up this evening. Interesting place that distribution center is. The chicks are pecking away at their first meal and seem happy enough. The white one with the stripes on his back in the middle is my mystery freebie chick. I have no idea what he is, so we'll just have to wait until he gets bigger to decide.

The Mountains Win Again

7:38 a.m.

Yes, that is snow. It is the last week of April and that is snow. Last week I wore shorts every day. Yesterday we packed away all of our winter clothes. Yesterday I bought tomato plants. I wasn't planning on putting them out in the garden yet, but I was gettting prepared to. Yesterday there was a bloom on one of the clematis. I had hoped to mow the lawn today. It is April 24th. Last night and this morning it snowed. Luckily most of it is now melted except for at the higher elevations. Most of the plants seem to be o.k. The tulip trees seem hard hit and I imagine that the dogwood blooms that just opened will be a little brown tomorrow.

Chef Boots came for an impromptu visit yesterday and spent the night. He needed a short break. He's been working 12-15 hour days for the last 21 days. His other pastry chef quit in the middle of High Point's furniture market, so he had to do all the bread and pastry work. We were good to him. We didn't encourage him to cook. We went out for comfortable foods like pizza and beer and an Indian buffet. He did bring gifts of fresh baked bread and artisanal cheddar and bottles of wine. Ah, his baguettes are the best. And there are two loafs of brioche and one of his walnut molasses "monk" bread. I do love my carbohydrates.

Thank you Chef Boots. Sorry about the weather. Next time, I promise, we will sit on the front porch and drink and talk and you won't need a parka.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Random Thoughts on Friday

Because it is raining.

My daughter is becoming a southerner in speech. As we pulled up along side of a big ol' pickup truck. She rolled down her window and from her carseat hollered, "Hey Boy!" to the man driving. He said, "Hey there, Darlin'" and they started up a conversation.

To the woman driving the utterly impractical and slightly ugly Lincoln Navigator who was following me yesterday while I was following the road grader down a winding two lane road: If the only thing I can see is the grill of your car from the rear view mirror of my practical yet sporty Honda CRV, you are following too close. I realize we live in theHeart of NASCAR, but my draft is not going to help you when we are only going 15 miles an hour.

A sign of my relationship with my daughter. She now asks her favorite new question (WHY?) the following way. "Why because I said so?" I'm not sure if that is a good thing.

Something seems wrong with this. I spotted this truck for the second time in Asheville. On one side of the bumper is a sticker proclaiming the driver as a "Proud Son of the Confederacy", on the other side a bumper sticker reads "America - Love It or Leave It". I'm almost certain that the driver sees no conflict. Although, it seems to show a certain lack of historical knowledge.

Our neighbors have taken down the Confederate flag, Copenhagen Tobacco and Parking for Confederates Only (Yankees Go Home) signs from the oak tree in their front yard. How will anyone find my house now?

I ate the first radish out of my garden last night. Pulled it out of the ground. Brushed off the dirt. Ate it right there. Ate it whole. Bliss.

Men In Uniform

Today for our weekly Friday Lunch Out experience the Monkey and I went to Chik-Fil-A. Her choice, not mine. I was pushing for Urban Burrito, but there is no reasoning with a hungry toddler. Besides at Chik-Fil-A she gets a toy which she can turn in for ice cream. No competition there.

The warm weather has brought out the delivery men in shorts. The UPS guys and the Culligan Man were all looking rather fine. But they could not hold a candle to the three North Carolina Highway Patrol Troopers on their motorcycles. Perhaps it is just the tall shiny black boots and the snug breech-cut pants. Yes, the uniforms are slightly storm trooperish, but when they walked in to the restaurant every eye was on them. Mighty fine men they were. Men were admiring the Harleys. Women were admiring the boots (and pants). Seriously, you can not believe the amount of attention those three guys got.

One of the troopers gave Monkey a Junior Trooper Badge. Now she is going to want a motorcycle. Or at least a pair of shiny black boots.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Fresh Trout

One of the benefits of Big Daddy's job is that he seems to be able to fish in the middle of the day. Perhaps this is a perk for all landscape designers, but I have a feeling it is a peculiarity of B.D.'s. This evening he brought home four nice trout for dinner. Trout is my favorite fish, especially when it is right from the stream. Bones be damned; it really is sweet.

I went for a run and came home to a dinner of trout, fresh green beans and corn on the cob. I had hoped that my first trout of the year would be paired with ramps. Ramps are native to the southern Appalachians. Sometimes known as wild leeks, they have become, I understand, somewhat popular in the outside world. Their season is short and like trout are best served fresh. None were available, so B.D. stuffed them with fresh chives instead. They were quite delicious. I swear I could taste the greenness of the chives in that succulent little fish.

I wish I didn't have so much to do this weekend, because we could go to the 30th Annual Graham County Ramp Festival . I think there are a few more festivals of the same type coming up in the area. One way or another I will eat ramps this year. I understand they are quite pungent and can linger long after they've been devoured.

In the mean time we have to finish the chicken house and get more seeds in the ground. My strawberries seem to be loaded and are still blooming. I can't wait for those.

4:02 p.m.
After one brief, but very loud thunderstorm.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Things are getting green.

4:32 p.m.

Some rain last week and some sun this week are all that's needed to get things growing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dead Tired

Our camping trip went well. The Monkey is a great little camper. She showed everyone her new sleeping bag. She snuggled by the campfire. She helped everyone whether they needed the help or not. She did not want to leave and cried on the way home. She cried in Georgia. She cried in Alabama. She cried in Georgia again (it's the vagaries of southern geography). She sniffled through Tennessee, although the kayakers on the Ocoee River made her smile for a while. She really cried when we hit the Nantahala Gorge and I told her we were almost home. What can I say? The kid loves camp.

Big Daddy was in trouble for part of the trip. He forgot to leave the key for my friend T. who was pet sitting. Luckily, he also forgot to lock a bedroom window. All was well in the end.

I was exhausted. Monday I could barely function. It could be because I woke up in a house devoid of coffee. I took Biscuit to the vet and then went grocery shopping. I was a zombie. Two cans of diet coke later I was somewhat revived. I came home and planted a some of the wood poppies Big Daddy had brought home last week. They are quite lovely. That sapped all my energy. So, Monkey and I skipped the gym and lounged around outside for most of the day. It was perfect weather for lounging.

This morning I had coffee. It helped, but I'm still tired. It could be because Monkey decided to join Big Daddy and I in bed at 3:45 this morning. She took over my side of the bed. That will not happen again.

Time to go snuggle the Biscuit. Tomorrow is another busy day.

Welcome Home Biscuit

Biscuit the Wonder Dog

Biscuit is home from the vet. Her heatworm treatment went well. She is moving slowly and will not be jumping anything for quite a while. She is on bed rest for a month and then goes back for another test and treatment. Hopefully then she will be heartworm free and on her way to a complete recovery.

My word of advice for the day is to keep your dog on heartworm preventatives. It only took one little mosquito bite to cause a big problem.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The hills are looking greener each day. We may get frost this weekend. I won't mind because we will be gone. Yes, out of town. Far away. Tomorrow we are hauling ourselves south to Georgia to go camping. The Monkey is ready. She has her new sleeping bag and fishing pole. Pet care has been arranged. There's nothing in the garden that will suffer from frost. The house is semi-clean. Laundry is done. I'm ready to go.

We are headed off to the summer camp where I was Horseback Director for many years and then Assistant Director. It will be a fun weekend. It's Work Weekend. When people return to help get the camp ready for the season. The weather promises to be a little warmer down there. I'll get to see old friends. Having a young child keeps me from having to do serious labor. That's why I'm taking Big Daddy. He knows how to use a chainsaw.

Tomorrow night is the first campfire of the year. Break out the marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers. Oh, and maybe a nice cold beer or two (because everyone knows camping is not truly fun without a beer or two).* Whoo Hoo!

*there will be no children serving in camper capacity this weekend - so adult beverages are being allowed on a limited basis and only when we have raked and chainsawed and cleaned enough of the units to relax at the end of the day in front of a campfire.

9:51 a.m.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Good dog fences make good neighbors.

It has been raining on and off all day. I was bad and skipped going to the gym today. I'll go tomorrow. There were things I needed to do this morning that just took priority and Monkey had a lunch play date. We call them play dates, but they are really just a good excuse to get together and chat for the moms. Monkey ran herself ragged around the mall play space and is now quietly mutilating her play dough.

I had to send our neighbor a letter this morning. It was not pleasant. When we moved in a year ago so did his German Shepherd. I tried to be pleasant about it for a long time. I would call every now and then and ask if he could keep his dog at home. The man is never home so I basically talked to his answering machine and sometimes got a response from him. The dog is good natured, so it wasn't too much of a problem. I should say it was a problem, but one that animal lovers who love big goofy dogs could overlook. However, last week Ace the German Shepherd got in a brief, but nasty fight with Biscuit the Wonder Dog. Biscuit ended up at the vet and received 6 stitches in her little shoulder. I ended up with $179 gone from my checking account.

Big Daddy called our neighbor, who expressed great concern and promised to stop by to discuss the situation. B.D. was under the impression that neighbor man was willing to pay for the vet visit. One week later and we haven't heard a word from neighbor man. I woke up this morning with one thought in my head. I would resolve this situation. Ugh.

So I wrote a brief and (in my opinion and in those whom I forced to read it) diplomatic letter to neighbor man. I expressed my frustration. I included a copy of the vet bill and I told him to do what he felt was right. The ball is in his court. It is a good thing that when I say "neighbor" I mean that he lives a quarter of a mile through the woods and I don't see him on a regular basis. Grrr.

On the upside of the situation - we haven't seen Ace since last Wednesday.

The very down side of the vet visit was that Biscuit's annual heartworm test came back positive. She goes to the vet on Monday to start treatment. I've heard the treatment is not pleasant. The drug compound used contains arsenic. Biscuit will then be on complete crate- enforced bed rest for three to four weeks. Poor B. There can be very bad complications with this treatment, so I am anxious.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

5:15 p.m.

Last night was the first night with the windows open. Bliss.
The dogs growled all night.

Thunderstorms are predicted for today.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Reason There Are Sundays

5:02 p.m.

We spent the day outside working in the garden and yard. Big Daddy put the roof on the new chicken house. Now all that is left is the door and windows and the fencing. I planted the cabbages, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. The Monkey helped. We planted two cabbages in her garden. She watered them in with the watering can that Grandma F. sent her for Easter. The shallots that she planted for Grandma D. have come up. She also had carrots and radishes coming up as well. They are about a week behind the big garden.

In the big garden everything is thriving. There is a row of lettuces which will be needing some thinning soon. The onions and shallots look fabulous. The peas, carrots, beets and radishes are looking rather healthy. By far the most satisfying sight are the tiny purple-green spears of asparagus poking out of their new bed. There is something permanent about starting a bed of asparagus. You have to dig the bed so deep and spread out the roots. Then you must slowly mound up the soil as the shoots grow. Then you've got to sit back and wait a year or two before you can harvest that first harvest. It's the patience thing. I'm growing asparagus. I'm growing patience.

We'll be planting the potatoes in a few days. I think I may go out and buy my tomato and pepper plants, but wait another week or two before planting. Then it will be time for all the warm weather crop seeds to go in.

I've cleaned out the herb and flower beds as well. Today Monkey and I planted echinacea and poppies.

We had a guest for dinner tonight. Our new friend Andrew came out. Big Daddy smoked some country style ribs (mmm, pork....). He made some spicy cole slaw and threw together some baked beans. Good company and good food. Monkey found a new captive audience. We sat on the front porch until the sun went down. Monkey made a wish on the evening star and waited for the constellations to come out. What almost three year old knows constellations? She scares me sometimes. But in a good way.

After Andrew left Monkey had her bath and we read her favorite book, Olivia. Then she fell asleep in her new big girl bed. I am tired and slightly sunburned. It was a perfect Sunday.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

7:28 a.m.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

April showers bring...


Sanguinaria canadensis is now carpeting the forest floor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A good woman is like a McGriddles? What the f*%#? Thanks for giving me another reason (besides my health) to not eat at McDonalds. McGriddles. With an "s". Who comes up with this crap? And can you give us their home address so we can t.p. their yard?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I read Henderson the Rain King in a thatched roof mud hut in West Africa by kerosene lamp during rainy season. Twice. It is one of my favorite all time reads. Rest in peace Saul.

6:58 p.m.

Saturday Morning April 2, 2005 7:55 a.m.