Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WWC: "Orange" and "N"

Today's edition of the Weekly Word Challenge is again brought to you by the makers of Pickled Beef, your supplier for all gourmet pickled meat products. This week's words again allowed The Granddaughter to shine and Granny to display her boundless creativity.


N (That's right, the letter.)

Bonus Photo ("Granny, you're not gonna believe what just happened in my diaper.")
That's all the time we have for this episode. Please tune in again next week when we will bring you another stunning set of photos of the World's Most Frickin' Adorable Baby (as determined by IntelliChoice, Inc. and viewers like you).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Garden Diary: A Single Step

Write with your spade, and garden with your pen.
--Roy Campbell

Sometimes I think I like the idea of gardening--and having a neat and sparkling clean garden--more than the act of gardening itself. I do enjoy the work, but I have a hard time getting myself out there. I attribute some of that to the fact that I have a full-time job (for which I am grateful), a wife, three teenage children, and a grandchild. And an Xbox.

I have, however, made progress this early spring. I cleaned up most of the clippings from my massive pruning jobs and have only a neat pile waiting its turn for the green bin. I also prepared two rows of plantings, each about 12 feet long. I put in four tomato plants ('Better Boy'), six bell pepper plants, and several feet of kale seeds.


The kale seeds sprouted quickly.

Since I promised Granny fresh tomatoes and cucumbers all summer (she mixes them with vinegar, salt and pepper), I will put in cucumber seeds later today. Granny is so cranky if she doesn't get her garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.

I had a delightful surprise this morning when I went out to water. The olive tree had begun to drop pollen and flowers all over my patio. This morning, I was seranaded by the hum of hundreds of bees happily picking over the flowers. The buzzing of bees is one of the most peaceful sounds in the world to me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WWC - Nature and Black

Gramps was slackin' this week for the WWC, so Granny and The Granddaughter are pickin' up the pieces. We admit, we don't have the artistic talents or patience conquered by Gramps; but we tried.
California Poppies.


Easter Dress

... and since Gramps always gives a Bonus Photo:

Gramps is doin' some Serious Cheek Eatin'

With a Wife Like Her, Who Needs a Mugger?

I am worn out. It has been a long week for all of us. We have had visitors and doctors and drama and a host of other time- and energy-consuming busyness. Plus, Granny has been beating me up.

Monday was our 8th Wedding Anniversary. We'll be going away next weekend, so we didn't do anything too spectacular. We went out to dinner with our kids and frickin' adorable granddaughter. That was enough excitement for these two old bodies.

Granny, however, surprised me with a special anniversary gift very early in the morning. I found myself awake at about 3:30, and Granny was stirring in her sleep. Suddenly, without a word, she rolled over, grabbed my forearms and pushed me down on the bed. This was no playful wrestling, mind you. Granny was angry.

I said something to the effect of "what the hell are you doing?" and pushed her off. I held her down for a few moments while she calmed down. When she became still, I tried to ask her what was the matter. She was dead asleep. Through the whole incident, she never woke up. Now I can check off "attacked by my wife in her sleep" to the things that I have experienced in eight years of marriage to Granny.

Granny will concur that our journey together has been rough and rocky, but it has also contained a number of blessings in disguise (including The Granddaughter), a lot of learning and growing, and, through it all, love. After eight years, I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade Granny or our marriage for all the beer in the world. (Or anything else, for that matter.)

Happy anniversary, Granny! I love you. But please stop assaulting me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WWC: "One" and "Diamond"

The Granddaughter again brought her "A" game for the Weekly Word Challenge. See the evidence below.

One ("We're number one!")
Diamond (Her first baseball game.)

Bonus Photo That little girl sure does love socks. Dee-licious.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday for more baby goodness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Garden Diary: Springtime Cometh

Spring is less than a week away, but here in Southern California, things grow all year long--especially weeds. We have what is called a Mediterranean climate, which means that it is relatively hot and dry, but the radical swings in temperature are moderated by our proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

Our house is very close to the ocean, so our weather is a little more damp throughout the year, and during the winter, things can get downright chilly. Certainly it is nothing compared to those of who suffer through hard winters, but for us, it is cold. Our average low temperature in winter is about 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). Add to that the cold winds that blow in from the ocean and generally overcast skies or fog, and I usually stay indoors most of the time.

That means my garden is neglected, and by the time the winter rains have gone and spring arrives, my back yard looks something like this:

Two weekends ago, the weeds were a lot thicker and greener, so I hit them with a popular herbicide called Roundup. It is fairly safe, but please don't tell my organic gardening friends! I have also been trimming the olive tree and bananas. That little olive tree is one of my favorite features of the yard.

During the heat of the summer, I can usually be found in one of these two chairs (depending on where the sun is at the moment) reading a book from the local library and drinking a beer. Life is good.

We live in a house owned by my employer, and we live here rent free as a part of my compensation. Otherwise, we couldn't afford to live in a house and would be in an apartment somewhere. Plus, if anything needs repair, it's not our responsibility. Someone else picks up the bill.

Since the summer heat won't hit us until July, I'll probably put in some cool season crops like kale, broccoli or lettuce. In a few weeks, I hope I'll be able to show off some pictures of neat, clean rows of new plants. Or, the yard will look exactly like it does today. It all depends upon how many zombies need to be killed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Best Medicine

I woke up Wednesday with a scratchy throat, and I can tell that I am going to have a rough time getting through the weekend. I'll do my best not to get any of you sick, too, but I can't make promises.

Two nights ago, one of our most anticipated milestones took place. Granny and I were in the kitchen finishing dinner, and our daughter asked us to come into her bedroom. She was on the bed, lying on her back, knees high over her hips, with The Granddaughter resting on her shins.

"Okay, here we go!" chirped The Daughter. She lifted her legs up and forward, and our little apfelpfankuchen slid forward rapidly until the two were face to face. "Whee!" said mom.

And then came the moment. A delightful noise came out of The Granddaughter's throat. "Heh, heh, heh." It wasn't a full blown guffaw, but it was definitely a laugh. Our Baby Boomer was laughing!

I was eagerly anticipating this even before that little girl was born. I remember Xboy giggling and laughing uncontrollably when he was a baby and toddler, and it always brought me deep joy.

Unfortunately, Granny and I spent most of the day yesterday trying to duplicate that laughter to no avail. So far, only The Granddaughter's mother can elicit that happy noise. (I do claim half credit for a single "heh" when I was teaching her the Boomer noise last night: "bluuuagh!")

My two babies: The Granddaughter and Granny

So, I guess I should not be surprised that I am not nearly as sick this morning as I predicted. As they say, "An apfelpfankuchen cheek a day keeps the doctor away."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WWC: "9" and "Desire"

This week's Weekly Word Challenge words are "9" and "Desire." Fortunately, The Granddaughter rose to the challenge again this week, giving us some good opportunities for photos.

9 (That's her uncle's baseball jersey.)
Desire (Granny's left arm/hand is getting a lot of "face time," isn't it?)

Bonus Photo I walked into the laundry room where Granny was folding clothes. Apparently, she needed a safe place to put The Granddaughter. She found the perfect spot.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Love of a Good Wife...

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. It was a perfect day to stay in bed. It was also Wednesday, which meant I had to drag my old body out of bed to go to work.

I stretched out my morning routine as long as possible--feeding the fish, drinking coffee, nibbling my granddaughter's cheeks. After a while, I heard Granny say, "There go the trash cans."

I knew exactly what she meant. We live on a hill, and whenever there is rain, our gutters turn into the River Nile at the height of flood. It was also trash day, so the blue recycling can and the black trash can was at the curb. Combine a raging river and large plastic trash cans, and you've got problems.

So far, our bins were safe. We watched some of the neighbors' cans pile up across the street, but ours were holding firm. Then the truck came along to pick up the blue can. As soon as the blue can was lifted out of the curb by the automated claw, the black one (still full of garbage) went sailing down the street like a raft on the Mississippi. Fortunately, it came to rest--upright--against the bumper of a car. The workers were smart enough to put the blue bin down on the parkway, otherwise I would still be chasing the damn thing.

I dashed into the bedroom, threw on some clothes, and went downstairs to rescue our cans. I waded into the flood and hauled the black can to safety. I figured if the claw could put the can down on the parkway, it could pick it up from there, too. So I dragged it through the swamp and put it on the parkway.

I began to bring the blue can back to the garage, but it was missing a wheel. An entire wheel--about 8 inches (3,206 meters for you non-Americans) in diameter--had simply disappeared. Where it went or why, we'll never know.

Then I went back upstairs to the living room where I found dear, sweet Granny laughing at me. I was drenched. She had been upstairs taking pictures. I simply glared at her as the next garbage truck arrived.

The claw lifted the black bin off the parkway and then put the can back down. The can, however, tipped right over and dropped into the river of rainwater. Down the hill it went. The open end of the 50- to 60-gallon can (3 liters for non-Americans) was facing uphill. Water rushed in.

The enormous weight of the water in the can slowed it down enough so I could catch up, but it took me some time before I could get the thing upright again to return it to the garage. All during this time, of course, the rain was still pelting down. As you can imagine, I was in a very good mood.

I got back in the house, and I was more waterlogged than the first time. Granny was still laughing.

She stopped laughing as soon as she looked outside and saw our neighbor struggling with a blue can across the street. It tipped over, and garbage went everywhere.

"Oh look," she said. "He needs help."

Granny immediately raced outside in her bare feet and went to help. Together, they collected his cans and returned them to safety.

She came back in, wet as a duck. I was so mad, there was steam coming off my head. Her husband, the man she made vows to, her partner, her love, grandfather to her most adorable grandchild, had been outside just moments before, fighting the elements and potential wet dog poop on the lawn, and what did she do? Laughed and took pictures from the warm, dry living room.

But then, the guy across the street came outside, and what did she do? She darted outside in bare feet to lend assistance. What does that tell you? Something smells around here, and it's not a dirty diaper!

She's gonna get it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WWC: "White" and "Mailbox"

I decided to get in on the Weekly Words Challenge (WWC) fun since there is now a photographic muse at our house 24/7. The challenge is to take photographs that illustrate the words of the week. This week's words are "white" and "mailbox." Enjoy.

White (that's Granny's lovely arm in the background)

Mailbox (please take note of the bib)

See, with a baby that beautiful how could we in good conscience not take lots of photos?

Editor's note: said baby's cheeks are still delicious.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nicknamery Is Grandpa's Job

I take my responsibility to think up cute nicknames for the Granddaughter very seriously. If Gramps won't do it, who will? Granny already wrote a post about the nickname Baby Boomer. My favorite is apfelpfankuchen.

Apfelpfankuchen is German for "apple pancake". A couple of months ago, Xboy was making them for his German language class. I quickly made the connection between the Granddaughter's delicious cheeks and the German dessert. So, of course, each night after dinner I get my own dessert of apfelpfankuchen cheeks. As previously mentioned, the cheeks grow back while she sleeps so I can dine again the next day.

Look at those delicious apfelpfankuchen cheeks.

Editor's note: please think good thoughts for Granny. The doctor told her today she has pneumonia, something not nearly as delectable as apfelpfankuchen. Also, a couple of weeks ago, a blood test revealed high antibodies for the Epstein-Barr virus, the same virus that causes mononeucleosis. That may explain some of the symptoms she has been experiencing for years. She is at home, and Gramps is bringing her lots of beer, which has been clinically proven to cure everything.