Monday, November 30, 2009

Miss me?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great. We were on vacation.

Not visiting relatives, but an actual vacation. The first one since Trystan was born. The second since Char was born (though that last one involved a lot of relative-visiting, so it almost doesn't count).

Strange thing to do over Thanksgiving? Maybe. But it was nice :)

My husband and I took the kids to Destin, FL for the week. We stayed "at the beach" (in quotes for reasons I'll explain later). It is not beach season down there--the daily highs ranged from 60-72 the whole week. The place we stayed had an indoor pool, so we could still take the kids swimming. And our room had enough of a kitchen that (along with a few items from home), we could still have a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. (More on that adventure later, too)

We played in the sand (70 degrees is perfect sandcastle weather), played at various playgrounds, did a little Christmas shopping, and slept a lot. We also had a little fun on the drive down and back. We broke each way into two days, and made a few side stops.

I will try to post a few snippets of my thoughts from the trip here this week, and maybe photos. Hopefully photos. I'm sure my husband also has a few things to post. He was also writing up observations and a travel log as we went.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Its 6am on Black Friday. Why aren't you out shopping?

Me? Lots of reasons. Some best left to next week's blog-a-palooza (which may or may not happen). In other words, I've got tons to say, but not necessarily much time to say it.

Most years I'm more of an after-Christmas sale person, rather than a Black Friday sale person. Usually the things that are on super-duper-special the day after Thanksgiving are things like TV's that we either don't need or can't afford to buy ourselves while we're planning Christmas gifts. Sorry, families, we've never bought anyone a TV for Christmas.

Its 6am on Black Friday. Why am I awake and blogging? Uh, fell asleep by 9 last night, and everyone else is still asleep. So I'm catching up on email and blogs in the quiet pink light of dawn. Darned internal clock that hasn't learned to sleep in, even after nearly a week of being off work (did I mention that Char gets an entire week off over Thanksgiving?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The day the tomato plants die.

The first frost date in my area is typically around mid-October. That is the end of the growing season. The day the tomato plants die.

Here we are in mid-November, and I don't think we've actually had a true freeze. I'm not complaining. But boy are all the plants confused. Some of the trees that lost their leaves early are now budding. I saw one near our church that was about to sprout new spring leaves. I cut fresh roses the other day, and have a few more I could bring in. We have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes that are ripening in the garden. And several peppers-one bell, lots of poblanos. Yes, poblano peppers in November. In St. Louis.

I am afraid that we'll pay a heavy price for all the mild weather once winter finally arrives.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I hate school fundraisers. Why do schools expect kids to become door-to-door junk salesmen?  Wait, that would be unsafe for the kids.  No, they expect parents to be the hawkers.  Even better.


I think my biggest complaint is that the stuff that they want the kids to sell is overpriced crap.  Crap that no one needs, and no one wants. Face it, we buy the stuff out of pity for the kids, not because we want it.


There are a few fundraisers that make money, and aren’t outright consumer rip-offs.  Girl Scout cookies.  Granted, by only selling them once a year, the girl scouts create scarcity and increase the cookie-buying public’s anticipation.  And their prices are a bit on the high side compared to grocery store cookies, but not outrageously so.  Last year they were what, $3.50 a box?  Not Walmart prices, but not bad either. 


The best fundraising item I ever sold as a kid was trash bags.  Laugh all you want, but everyone needs trash bags, and the rolls were enormous, lasted the buyers forever, and were good quality.  I still get the occasional comment from some of my mom’s friends about that trash bag fundraiser.  That was almost 25 years ago.


And then there is the pizza and cookie dough that Trystan’s preschool encouraged us to sell this fall.  Last year, out of pity, we bought both a box of cookie dough and a pizza for ourselves.  Yuck.  The pizzas were the equivalent of the cheapest discount store cardboard crap. And cost almost $10 apiece.  I can buy a 3-pack of leading-brand, rising-crust pizzas at Sam’s for $10.  The cookie dough was just plain scary.  First off, it was marked “no refrigeration required.”  How do you make cookies without perishable ingredients?  Like butter? And eggs?  What was in this stuff anyway?  As you might guess, the cookies themselves baked up badly, tasted oily, and were just plain unpleasant.  And unlike the grocery-store kind, it wasn’t even tasty to eat raw.  We declined to order this year, and didn’t bother attempting to guilt our friends into buying either.  It amused me that the school had a “tasting” day to kick off the fundraiser where they baked up some of the cookies and pizzas for the parents to sample.  I laughed with my husband that they were more likely to turn parents off the fundraiser than on to it.


Charlotte’s school sold a mix of cookie dough (different brand), pretzel kits, wrapping paper, magazines, and knick-knacks.  Also overpriced.  I did take that order form to work, and a couple of co-workers bought wrapping paper.  I bought some flower bulbs (we’ll see in the spring how well they worked), and a magazine subscription that was a couple of bucks more expensive than I could get online.  For my efforts, Charlotte was rewarded with a pencil topper.  Ya hoo.


I totally understand why schools do fundraisers.  My daughter goes to a private school.  It’s a catholic school, but not one supported by the local diocese.  Every dime that we help fundraise is one that won’t be on our tuition bill.  And public schools can’t simply raise tuition to pay for new equipment or raises for their teachers.  If a kid comes to my door with a fundraiser, I almost always order something.


I think the problem is that the products our kids are supposed to sell come from commercial companies.  The company has to make a profit before the school can.  So they lower the quality and jack the prices.  Although I have also donated my time to my daughter’s school, I can’t spare enough to replace the labor of the commercial cookie-dough manufacturer. 


The problem is us, the parents.  If we had more free time, we could invest our labor into creating products or services worth selling.  But we can’t.  We don’t.  So we’re foisting $10 buckets of sugar-and-shortening off on our neighbors and coworkers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Question of the day

Why is it so much harder to fry a bigger fish? Or perhaps the question is: Why is it that the fryers of the aforementioned superior-sized fish are afforded higher status?

It seems to me that little fish are more difficult. They would burn faster, have to be watched and timed closely. A large fish just needs a bigger pot and more oil.

Perhaps we place more emphasis on frying large fish so as to reduce crowding amongst small ponds. Perhaps the fryer of the big fish has been lobbied by all of the medium-sized fish, who then vie for the position of largest fish. That goal is extremely short-sighted, however, as once one achieves big fish status, one must be always on the lookout for status-seeking chefs bearing large pots.

I guess the moral of the story is that frying is inherently unhealthy for all involved (except, possibly, for the fryer), and we should instead grill all of our seafood.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Its time for my semi-annual rant

I've said it before. Daylight savings time. Totally sucks.

Ya’ll realize that no one gained anything in the wee hours of Sunday, right? Same hours, same sunlight, the Earth still spins exactly the same as it did on Saturday. All we did was re-label everything and waste an hour re-programming every clock in the house (and car). Every clock except for those few that auto-adjust and have been displaying the wrong time for like 3 weeks, because Congress decided to muck with the dates long after electronics designers began making devices more convenient.

Seriously folks, pick a number, and stick to it.

I’m still curious to see if there is any hard data that supports the idea that daylight savings time somehow saves energy. I have yet to see a company who actually changes how many hours a day they turn the lights (and computers) on, no matter how sunny or dark it is.

Monday, November 02, 2009


So, did I mention I was tweeting? With a couple of the sick days last week with the kids, I actually got a little bit of web surfing time.

Now, don't laugh too hard. I signed up for a twitter account. I'm elitsirk, same crazy jibberish name as my blog :) And I'm tweeting about once a day (maybe), about many of the same things you'll read right here. Things the kids are doing. Random tidbits about writing (because talking about writing fiction is just as productive as actually doing it, right? right?)

So, yeah. Twitter. I'm sure you're all a-twitt...nevermind. Feel free to follow me. I promise I won't be the one filling your screen