Monday, August 31, 2009

A Fungus Among Us

Great. At least now I know what happened to our tomato plants this year:

Blight Devastates Pocono Tomato Crops

They were healthy and strong until the heat wave about 2 weeks ago. Now they're mostly dead, and look exactly like the photo in this article. I've even got a few tomatoes rotten and fuzzy still on the vine. We harvested maybe 15 tomatoes from 2 plants.

The article says it's due to infected seedlings - mostly grown for the "big" stores. Which is exactly where I got mine, from a certain large, home improvement center. However, it does state that this fungus can also be airborne.

Interestingly, the article also mentions this is the same fungus that destroyed the potato crops in Ireland during the famous "Potato Famine".


Something in the back of my brain told me to put on pants this morning.

You see, today is the first day of school, so that means a ride to the bus stop. Since I stay in the car, I usually don't give much thought to what I'm wearing. Often it's whatever mismatched combination of shorts and T-shirt I wore to bed. Today's ensemble would've been the ThinkGeek 42 shirt, and a pair of too-large, hot pink jogging shorts.

I threw on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie. Gray and maroon, so at least I didn't look colorblind.

Thank God I did, because wouldn't you know, the bus pulls in RIGHT NEXT TO MY CAR, and begins to smoke. Actually, both back tires. And not just a little smoke, but A LOT OF SMOKE. I expected shooting flames from the wheel wells.

I jumped out of the car, and at the same time the driver pops her head out of the bus. She tells me they just put new brakes on the bus, and something must've happened. She gets the kids off the bus and calls in for the backup. Meanwhile, the SMOKE is still pouring from the wheel area, and is beginning to stink up everything in the immediate vicinity. Including me.

Stinky bus brakes on fire.

So anyway. First day of school, bus breaks down, kids will be late going to a new school, and I shouldn't be surprised at this, really. Our school district has the shittiest track record for buses breaking down, and pretty much everything else as well. We have some of the highest school taxes in Pennsylvania, yet they can't seem to keep the buses running. They also can't keep the schools out of The No Child Left Behind probation for crappy test scores, but that's another story.

Really gives you the warm and fuzzies putting your kids on a bus that may, or may not, actually get them to school.

So here's hoping that my daughter's first day of school got better.

Now I'm off to wash the burning brake stench out of my hair. Ewww.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Not-so-little Leonidas enjoys tipping over his water bowl, spilling the contents on the kitchen floor, tap dancing in the puddle, and tracking wet kitty-prints across the rest of the house. He's even able to knock over the “no-tip” bowls.

On the plus side, I have a very clean floor now. However, it's incredibly irritating.

I read online that kittens do this because they like running water. Most people suggested getting a pet fountain that circulates and filters the water, allowing kitty some moving H2O, and hopefully putting an end to the flooding.

Fifty bucks later.....

You put your right paw in,
You pull your right paw out.
You put your left paw in,
And you shake it all about.

You put your left ear in,
You pull your left ear out.
You put your nostrils in,
And you jump 3 feet in the air.

You get the idea. He was practically bathing in it.

It did nothing to prevent the flooding. With such a large area of water to play in, Leo managed to stretch the dampness radius to around 6 feet.

I waited a few days, hoping it was just a phase. Heh. No.

On the third day, I found Leo nearly soaked from loooooving his new drinky bowl, so I decided to give him a real bath.

He's been fascinated by the tub anyway, and likes to hop in when it's empty. I was counting on this once the was tub filled. He did not disappoint!

Cattus Domesticus Dorkus.

He jumped right up to the edge, peered in, and slid. Within a split second, he realized his fatal mistake. All four legs shot out sideways, he spun in midair, and tried to climb out. Too slippery. Splash!

You ever see in the old Scooby Doo cartoons where the kids are running from a ghost, and their legs turn into propeller-like wheels, indicating they're trying to go fast, but haven't actually gone anywhere?

Yeah. That was Leo.

After that, it wasn't too bad. He reluctantly allowed me to soap him up with Kitty Bubbles, rinse and dry.

Now I'm trying to decide what to do with the water fountain. Maybe once he's out of the kitten stage he'll be less likely to play in it.

In the meantime, I'm considering baby bowls with suction cups.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That Smelly Smell That Smells Smelly

Salads are good for you. Mine stink.

I need more vegetation in my diet, so salads are a good choice. Roughage, as they say. It's not that I avoid my veggies, but I don't go out of my way to eat them either. If they're on my plate with dinner, great. However, you won't find me sitting at my desk munching on carrots unless I'm desperately dieting.

Anyway, I prefer the Bag O' Salad. This is usually called something like “Spring Mix”, “Baby Lettuces”, or “Tender Shoots Of Unidentifiable Green Things”. You know, the kind of weird lettuce that resembles a clutch of leafy weeds from the back yard.

Then I add blue cheese, cranberries and some kind of wine vinegar. My daughter says it smells like poo. Or sweaty feet.

Well that's the nature of blue cheese, isn't it? Contains mold, smells disgusting, but tastes fabulous.

In other news, something that doesn't stink: Mini Weetabix.

Wegman's just started carrying this in Choco Chip. We picked up a box and loved it. They're like little fiber-sponges that soak up the milk. With nutty little things in them. And! Chocolate! With Fiber!

If you eat it fast enough, it stays nice and crunchy. So basically, not kid food. If you don't eat it within 10 minutes, it turns into fiber-soup.

Yay for a healthy colon!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stupid News: MSM Still Thinks It's 1965

There are so many things I've wanted to write about, but either a) haven't had the time, or b) started to post, but never finished because my ADD kicked in, and something else caught my attention.

So much has been happening in the news, but this little gem from ABC News really bugged me:

Obama's Safety: Fear Grows for President as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash

Here's a snippet or two:

"Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.

Contentious health care debate heightens concerns for Obama's safety.The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading "Death to Obama" and 'Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids' outside a town hall meeting this week

Ummmm. Doesn't anyone remember that for the last EIGHT YEARS we've been seeing protest signs that said "Death to Bush" and "BushHitler". There was even a movie called “Death of a President” where Bush is assassinated during an anti-war protest. This is not a movie about "an ambiguous American President" but the current, sitting President.

We saw plenty of this during Bush's 8 years, but nobody called it racism.

Even the title of the article above, "Obama's Safety: Fear Grows for President as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash" incites continued hatred between black and white, as well as Democrat and Republican. For example, the article goes on to quote Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost," Potok told ABC News. "The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them."

You've got to be kidding me. I admit there's some wackos out there, but large numbers of white people? That's just insulting.

I'm really tired of hearing how racist we are in America. If we were so racist, we wouldn't have elected our first African American President. I think everyone in this country should be proud of that accomplishment, seeing how far we've come in the last 30 years. Instead, all I ever hear from the Liberal Democrats is that we're SOOOO racist here, and anyone disagreeing with the President's policies is a racist.

I don't doubt there are racist nutjobs out there that pose a threat. And, I am equally sure there are plenty of non-racist nutjobs that are just as much of a threat. ANY threat to our President should be taken VERY seriously.

Being President, no matter what your ethnicity, religion, or sex is, will attract threats. This is the nature of any public office, especially the President. This is why we have the Secret Service.

But let's make sure that it's actually "racism" before putting out an article that incites more hatred. You can't point to this article and say this is a good sampling of what the American people are like. Most Americans don't care about the color of one's skin.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fried Lip

I fried my upper lip.

No, not in a bizarre cooking accident. I used an upper lip depilatory.

I've used it before with no problem. This was the fourth time in two months. The first time I left it on for three minutes, worked fine. Baby-skin smooth. Lovely.

The second time, three minutes didn't remove everything, so the next time I left it on for five. Still not smooth enough.

Well, the instructions tell you: “DO NOT USE FOR MORE THAN 8 MINUTES”, in large, friendly letters. So last night I left it on for the full eight. Actually, eight minutes and two seconds.

Apparently, they're really not kidding about the eight minutes. That extra two seconds was enough to cause searing pain and a gorgeous rash.

Getting older really sucks.

I never had this problem til about 3 months ago. Then, out of nowhere, Yosemite Sam.

What's next? Hot flashes? Is this what I have to look forward to at 40?

Jesus, isn't childbirth, PMS, ladypart issues, and generally being female enough?

No, really Jesus, I'm asking. For reals?

Monday, August 3, 2009


The Big Project at work was canceled this weekend. Four weeks of preparation down the tubes. But, that's how the cookie crumbles when you're at the mercy of a parent company deciding if they want keep you, or can you.

At least it gave me time on Saturday to do yard work. The shrubbery at the front of the house has eaten the electrical box-thingy, so it was time to trim it back. There's also piles of weeds that need pulling, along with a sapling that's growing directly out of said ravenous shrubbery.

I don't' get it. I pull weeds, put down paper to kill weeds, add mulch, yet I still get weeds. Maybe it's the weather, or the fact that we live in the country. It's been raining more than usual, and anything left still long enough will invariably end up with weeds, wildflowers and a multitude of spiders living in it. The forest does not part with anything willingly. I figure if I spend too many hours outside, you'd find me rooted to the spot with crown vetch wound around my ankles, and spiders nesting in my ears.

Speaking of crown vetch, we seem to have a lot of it. A quick Google search finds that it's not naturally occurring, and quite invasive.

We have tons of this stuff in one corner of the property. It looks nice for about 5 minutes when it's flowering, but once the deer decide to bed down in it, it looks like hell. Did also also mention the invasive part? I found some of it throttling a tree.

I assume one of the previous owners planted this crap to keep the dirt from eroding into the electrical box, which is at the bottom of a small gully. I've been trying to kill it off for years now, but nothing works.

Seeing there was no easy way to dislodge this much weediness, I broke down and weed-whacked the level parts, then used my own mitts for pulling the tumbleweeds out of the gully. In the process, I inadvertently disturbed a rabbit's home. I yanked a huge section of weed near the electrical box, looked down and thought, “Well, geez. That's a strange looking rock.”.

Not rock. Small bunny.

Not a baby, but not an adult either. Old enough to get by on it's own though. Dude was trying desperately to make himself look as flat as possible, down in the leaves and dirt. He didn't move, so I reached down to pick him up. I just about got my (gloved) hands around him when he bolted for the nearby shrubbery.

Which is fine, there's plenty of places to hide around here. I just worry that he's going to become dinner for the neighborhood stray cat society.

I didn't find anything else really interesting except a rather large snake skin, which, disturbingly enough, was found about 3 feet up in the hedge.

In other news, Leo is four and a half months old now and huge. He's roughly the same size as our last cat – when she was adult. He's muscular, and looks like he'll be a monster-sized adult cat.