Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Kitty Looks at 105

Remember when you were little and people always said animal ages were a lot older than human?  You are supposed to multiply their age by 7 and you get their "real" age.

As Gwenstopher starts doing more and more odd things, I can only chalk it up to the fact that she is going to be 105 this fall.  She's like the 80 year old lady who thinks she can get away with things.  Who doesn't give a shit anymore and let's everyone chalk it up to old age.  Who walks into a room farting and thinks no one else can hear.  Who swears and figures she can, she's 80 and she's earned it!

She's not rickety like a 105 year old, though.  She's still very spry.  She can catch mice like the best of them

She isn't getting forgetful, getting that vacant look on her face when she walks into a room because she forgot what she was doing. 

She's still very nimble and can jump on anything/anyone without missing a beat.

She doesn't forget where her litter box is or how to use it.

She isn't mangey and "deflated" looking, the way some cats get when they are old.

And since Bandit disappeared several years ago, she's become the "house clown".  I never knew she had a comic side to her.  And lately, she's been doing things that make my laugh and grossed out all at once.

For example, she greets us each morning by hopping on the bed and screaming her head off.  Until you pat her and then she walks away and screams some more.  And she can't get enough.  She bangs her head into your hands and if you don't have hands (we often hide them) she bangs into your nose or whatever she can find.

Lately, she has also taken to licking.  I love the cat's tongue lick, that sandpapery feeling is nice. 

Except when she gets on your chest and smells your eye and then licks the very sensitive skin on the side of your eye.  Forget crow's feet, I'm getting cat's tongue.

She also loves to lick my earlobe.  But then she has to go one step too far and stick her tongue IN my ear and then I freak out.

And last night, she did the unthinkable.  She got on me,  begged for patting.  Sat on my chest and got really close to my face.  Rubbed her head on my nose.

And then stuck her tongue IN my nose!!

She walked away laughing that old lady laugh, thinking we'll just let her get away with it because she's "aging". 

Baloney. I think she's behaved herself for way too long and figures she's old enough and she's going to figure out what these things are like before she's too old to enjoy them.

I think she comes in, sits down and wonders "hmmm, I wonder what that tastes like?" and gives it a lick and then runs off going "ooops that wasn't like I thought it would be.  I won't do THAT again".

Or she runs down k-ster's face like it's a speedway and calls over her shoulder "oops, sorry, gotta be somewhere NOW, didn't mean to scratch/scare you!"

If we lived right on the water, I have no doubt this would be Gwenstopher.  While I know she is the generic looking cat you find on every cat food box, I swear to you, this is Gwenstopher.  Those nights she doesn't come home?  I swear this is where she goes.  She would totally do this.  And it's remarkable how much she looks like this cat!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Rig of Bamboo, Now What Is That?

Nothing But Country

It's something made, by the Princess Pat.
But I don't know any Princesses named Pat, and I was never a Girl Scout or whatever scouts sang that song.  That didn't stop the song from running through my head the whole time.

But I did make this rig of bamboo.  K-ster thinks it's a POW cell.  My father hasn't said anything but I am certain he will say the same thing.

So, what is this?  

It's my squirrel jail.  

Oh, I only wish.  

It's my new tomato cage.  My sister has bamboo up the wazoo- oh, what a great name for a children's book!- so she let me have some last year.  I made tee pee type things with them and saved the bamboo because it didn't rot.

This year, she gave me a buttload more, and this is what I've come up with.  I really like it.  Once I wove it all together, it became pretty sturdy.  At first, it was like a comedy routine because I kept knocking over poles and undoing what I had just done.  But, the more I wove, the stronger it became.  I didn't tie any of it and hope I don't have to.  I want to leave it au naturel.  I did stick some pieces into the chicken wire to give it some stability at first.

I decided to do it my garden #2, but I ran out of bamboo, so now it looks completely ridiculous in there.

That's my Made By You Monday!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Feel Good Friday!

Here we are again!  It's time for Feel Good Friday!  Everyone can play.  Started by thegirl, Feel Good Friday is about capturing the things that made you feel good this week and telling us all about them!  I'm her substitute while she's away doing cool things, but she swears she will be back really soon.

In the meantime, you're stuck with me, folks!

After you read my post, go write your own Feel Good Friday post and then come back here and link up!  Then read everyone else's Feel Good Friday moments and feel even better about everything!

So, for the past week, here's what pleased me....

*I was NOT the person who took this picture and that made me feel good!  K-ster was landscaping and the guy he was working with managed to find this under a bush.  We don't live anywhere where I thought these lived but he looked it up online and supposedly they can be found on the whole east coast!  After worrying about spiders in my greenhouse, now I have to worry about these!

*I had a nice lesson with Tucker this week.  It hasn't been great lately, lots of frustration about just who is boss.

*I bought a 2nd pair of my favorite riding pants Kerrit's and they are awesome.  So lightweight and stretchy.  They look great on.  I thought I'd love my bamboo pair, and I did, but last summer, I was introduced to the thinner Kerrit's and I've never looked back.  THEY AREN"T CHEAP, so Kerrit's if you want me to do a review or something so I can get a free pair, BRING IT ON!!

*How cute is this? I made it for k-ster's cousin's 1 year old daughter.  I can't wait to make more of these for my niece, l-ster!  It's a good thing my sister had a girl because there's a lot of cute sewing in my future that no boy would be able to appreciate!

*Speaking of boys, k-ster's friend just had another boy.  I made a cute fishy quilt for the first one and I thought for the new one I would do a trucks and tractors quilt.  I found just the images I was looking for and I plan to start that this weekend.

*I don't know if this means anything to you, but to me, it's all about  summer now!  One of my many obsessions is summer nightgowns but they can't be made of t-shirt material.  They  must be made of very lightweight cloth, as a sewer you think I'd know what it's called, but kind of like what sheets are made of.  I go through phases where I can find them and then I can't find any, so when I find them, I stock up!

All right, that's enough.  No more feel good moments to share.  Now go write yours and come back and link up!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Move Over Snapple, I've Found the Best Stuff On Earth

Nothing But Country

I cannot believe I found the sweet ambrosia of the gods on twitter!  Really!!!  I follow Chobani, my favorite Greek yogurt that even k-ster is madly passionate about, and they had this amazing dip the other day.

You know when you read or hear about something that you think you'll love and you know should stop and write it down right then?  And then you figure it sounded so great that you would never forget what it's called?

And then you are driving home from the gym, ravenous, and while you're at Trader Joe's, you pick up avocados and remember something about a dip?  And then everyone in your way is the slowest person on earth and you truly think you might have to kill someone because you are that hungry?

And all the way home, all you can think about was the ingredients that might go into the dip and which tweet you might have read it in?  And you start to panic because you realize you might have to actually go search for it, thereby increasing the amount of time before food hits your mouth?

I got home and raced to the computer to find the tweet.  But it took sooooo long.  And then I found it.  And made it.  And ate it.  And just. want. more!

Sparkling's Outta My Way Dammit Dip
(this is another measurement free, just wing it sort of food)
1 avocado
1c. chobani plain yogurt
about 1/2 onion (any kind, we're hungry, no time to look for certain kinds)
about 1/2 c. chickpeas (garbanzo beans) from a can, drained
1 lime
dash of cumin
dash of salt

Put it all the in food processor until it's all a smooth, green and voilĂ !  You can absolutely put this on ANYTHING you desire. 

Would it be inappropriate to just stick a spoon in it and eat it?

Why?  Why is that gross?  How is that any different from eating yogurt with fruit?  This is just yogurt with vegetables!

Go make it, you'll see.  I'll be sitting in the corner, alone, eating mine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Made By Me Monday- My Food Invention

I've been making what I call a Thanksgiving Calzone for many years.  I am not a huge experimenter when it comes to food, but this came out of nowhere and we LOVE it.  I try not to make it too often, lest we get sick of it and then I'll have to cross it off the list of foods I can tolerate.

I took these pictures as I was eating one at lunch, but I wanted to give you the general idea.

I'm slightly freaked out that the one on the left  looks like it's smiling at us!

I would like to use my own pizza dough for this, but this is usually something I think about making as I'm driving home from the gym and I have no time to make the dough, so I use what comes in our deli.  They have pizzza dough in bags, regular or wheat, all ready to put out at room temperature and get going.  These balls of dough are big enough to get 4 calzones out of each one.  We eat 2-3 each and then eat the rest for lunch.

Because I invented this and it hasn't been tested by Martha or Betty Crocker, I have no idea about quantities.  Anything goes, it seems.  I don't think you could screw this up.

So, I give you Sparkling's Thanksgiving Calzones:

2 balls of pizza dough
1/2 lb. deli turkey or real turkey if you are so lucky
1/2 lb swiss cheese (I prefer Alpine Lace because it's not overly sharp)
1 can jellied cranberry sauce (I used whole berry once and it made no difference)

Set pizza dough in a bowl to warm to room temperature and rise a little.  I have been known to use cold dough and beat it up until I can make it work, but it's so much nicer when it's warmer. Roll it into a log, and break off 4 pieces.  Roll out a piece into a circle or something like a circle, fairly thin.  Mine are usually about the size of a dessert plate.

On one half of the circle, place 1-2 slices of cheese first (I like to think it holds everything in place), then 1-2 slices of  turkey and then a generous spoonful of cranberry sauce. Bring the top over and roll up the edges to seal.  You can probably crimp them with a fork but I've never done that.  Poke a few holes so steam can escape.

Do this with as much dough and ingredients as you have.

My dough used to come with cooking directions for pizza and I use those.  415 degrees for about 15 minutes.  I bake them on my pizza stones.   You will know they are done when they are a nice golden brown.

As with the famous Hot Pockets, these things are like molten lava when they come out, even about 20 minutes later, so this is the only caution I have.  That cranberry sauce is ridiculously hot.

Once they are cool enough to eat- watch out!  They will vanish!!

**I truly did invent this.  I did not tweak someone else's recipe.  If you are publishing a cookbook, please contact me and give me credit for this marvelous dish!!  I want to be sure I get all my royalty checks!!**

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm A Comment Whore, What Can I Say?

So, I've been blogging steadily for about a year.

I've had some great posts and some not so great posts. 

I've met my 100th post and my 200th post anniversaries.

I've written near dissertations and I've tried some quick and easy few liners.

I've had comments up the wazoo about posts I just whipped out and a lot of silence about posts I thought were ass kicking and hysterical.

I've learned I like the comments.  I like the stats.  I like the action.  Blogging really is a popularity contest.

While I've never won one of those, I do feel very tickled when people visit my blog and leave comments or become followers.

I am not a facebook user but I have contemplated it just to be able to promote myself. 

I am not a person who does a lot of giveaways, although I am not opposed to it, but I wouldn't want to do it just so that people become my "friend" or "follower".  That's like begging for votes and I'm not a beggar.

While I do write this blog for myself, my hope is that people out there read it and enjoy it come back for more.  So many of the blogs over there in my blogroll are such fun to read, and I hope I can give people the same pleasure. 

I have learned that self deprecation on the internets does breed a lot of comments.  And I like comments and followers. 

And I have lots of that stored up in my noggin.  I am not a flake, but there are times when even I wonder if I really am clueless.  If this education I have has all just been a sham. 

We all know, there's book smart, and real life smart.  I'm not sure where I fall, but I suppose it's book smart.  If I read it, I usually can retain it pretty well. Unless it's chemistry or physics and then, I'm just SOL. 

I read someone's post the other day, and I should have made a note whose it was so I could give credit where credit is due, and the comment I made made me think my 3 readers would be entertained by this story.

So, because I am not ashamed, but often think of this in awe at how ignorant I am was, I thought I would share.

When I was senior in high school, I was looking for every scholarship I could get my hands on.  There was one that was being given by the governor, which we know really means someone else's money in the governor's name.  The application asked something about the governor's role in the state and perhaps my opinion on it, or something.  Those details are kind of fuzzy.

So, I went home and wrote my thoughts about whatever it asked, probably saying I thought governor W did a marvelous job running things and I'm sure I was mostly vague and didn't even have a hammer, let alone hit any nails on their heads with my writing.  I didn't have anyone check it because I always thought of that as "cheating".

After I had submitted it to someone, it occurred to me that governor W might have had more power than I thought.  The conversation went something like this:

S:  so, I applied for that governor W scholarship
M:  oh, that's nice
S:  yeah, I don't know if I'll get it.
M:  yep, lots of competition
S:  well, now I'm wondering.  is governor W the governor of just this state, or is he like, some SUPREME governor of a lot of states?
M:  .....
S: i mean, like, do they govern just one state at a time?  because i'd hate to not have mentioned what he does in the other states.
M:  do you mean like THE PRESIDENT???
S:  no, i mean like people just below the president.  like, does each state have a governor, or do you get to rise up and rule a group of states and then report to the president?

It's probably not funny that at 36 I have no idea  17 I had no idea how our country worked.  I had a vision that there were governors and supreme governors (not called that, of course, it's not a beauty pageant) and then there was the vice president and then the president.

It kind of surprises me that governor W, or whoever read the applications, didn't immediately find out where I went to high school and revoke my diploma on the spot.

In all of my social studies classes, no one really ever addressed this. It's like everyone assumed the teacher the previous year would have covered that.  I've never understood any of the process, actually.  The Houses, Congress, Representatives.  How many states get to have how many senators.  What's a congressman vs. a senator.  I think I finally have a grip on what a district attorney does, and I know what the school committee and local selectmen do, but when it comes to my understanding of politics, that's all she wrote.

I suppose my Master's in Reading would suggest that I could simply get some books and read about the way the great USA works.  I just can't do it.  I choose ignorance because it works out a lot better in my mind.  The reality of it all might just be a little too much.  I've heard about things like The Electoral College and right wing and left wing politicians and democracy, and I'm not sure I have room up there to digest all of that information and make sense of it.

Please don't tell anyone in Washington.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Feel Good Friday- L-ster's Debut

Ok. As I promised. It's quick this week!

I'm.  An.  Aunt!!!!

L-ster was born on May 18th to my sister a-ster and her husband s-ster.  She is the first grandchild and this is the first time I'm an aunt.

We live 12 hours away, so I'm not sure when I'll see her.  Hopefully before she turns 18 :)

That's a pretty feel good moment for this week!

Now go do what thegirl says and go write a post and come back here and link up!  It doesn't have to be this earth shattering, as can be seen in my former Feel Good Friday posts!!

You Better Get Right Back Here for Feel Good Friday

Oh yeah, tomorrow is going to be the BIG REVEAL.  And it's a doozy!  I don't know if I'm allowed to post a picture, but you will be allowed to use your imagination.

So, while you're waiting for the doozy, I thought I'd share some complaints, so I can get it all out and feel good for Feel Good Friday.

#1  Effing Crows!!!
We have an inordinate amount of crows hanging around the compound lately.  I never knew scare crows were needed to really scare crows.  Until this year.  The bastards are going into all of my gardens and flipping over my new seedlings and ruining some!  They aren't even eating them! 

One went in the new garden and flipped over a sunflower and broke it!  I am SO MAD. 

Another went into a BUCKET that I have in on the PATIO, where I just planted some beans seedlings and flipped them all over the place.  At least on that one, I can put a screen. 

I'm about to put fencing over the top of my gardens, I am so mad.  But I don't want the nice birds to miss out on the bugs and stuff.  Did I mention I am SO MAD???

#2  Rain Rain Go Away!!
We haven't seen the sun since Sunday.  We've had a lot of rain and even more gray skies.  My plants are really eager for some sun!!!  K-ster would like to make it through a day of work without getting wet.  I'd like to see the cellar dry out a little before even more rain comes.  They say at least 2 more days of gray. 

But wait, I see some brightness out there.  Oh crap.  Just the littlest bit of sun is going to make things EXPLODE to the nth degree around here.  Wow.

OK, I think that's it for this moment.  Come back tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pre Friday Greatness

I can only assume, but I should have such an outstanding Feel Good Moment this week that on Feel Good Friday, I will only have one thing to share. So, here are some other great things for this week. Things that would certainly not belong with this soon to be great event that is happening this week. Which I should be able to share on Friday.  I think.

So, first, as I mentioned last week, I put a fence around my new garden.  I was left with the opening for the gate.  For the week, we had a very ghetto gate, which was just chicken wire zip tied to itself.  I hate this sort of unfinished business and while some people would be content to cut the zip tie and rezip each time they want to go into the garden, I have standards.  I already have issues with garden #1's gate which requires picking up and moving to enter and exit and it makes me annoyed.

So, after much reminding about finishing the gate, k-ster made this for me.  It's a tad much, with those super fancy hinges, but it's all I could find at the hardware store.  It's not like Better Homes and Gardens is coming for a visit.  But maybe they will some day.  I LOVE THIS GATE.   I want to just open and close, open and close, open and close! 

And garden #1 will soon get a gate just like this so I can walk in and out with ease.

Along with my new garden, I had to take some pictures that demonstrate all that is holy about spring.
Lilacs make me very happy and always show me that spring is really here.  And they are the idiot's flower.   You literally cannot kill these things.  We have cut them back to nothing.  We have hacked into the roots and transplanted.  We have not pruned.  And spring and spring again, they just burst right into flower, no matter what.

The mighty apple.  I love the apple flowers far more than the fruit itself.  This is the 2nd of the lone two trees left from what might have once been a nice orchard here at the compound.  For all of my life, I always thought these apples were just meant for throwing at the barn or for dropping on the roof of the trailer and making noise.  I never realized until recently that they are actually McIntosh apples that have been left to their own devices.  They are quite filled with insects and pests and I don't even know where to begin to organically deal with them.  And the trees themselves might be diseased.  So, sadly, we just let them bloom their brains out, produce apples and then I just run them over with the lawnmower when they fall!

Monday, May 16, 2011

So, That's All I Have to Do???

As a middle school teacher, people often ask me to tell tales of the funny things that teenagers do.  Sadly, I don't usually have any funny stories.  I guess because I have been doing this for so long, nothing seems out of the ordinary or particularly laughable. I mean, sometimes I listen to myself and think "what is this career that I have, telling people they've met the last 4 seconds fo my patience, or once you're here, you can't go to your locker, or GOD FORBID, wait until I'm finished explaining this and then you can go to the bathroom."

Or, I think something is hysterical but it loses something in the retelling and it falls flat.

Remember when you were in school, people would write notes to each other....  Wait, I know, I am talking about THE DARK AGES, when people had to actually put pen to paper and pass notes, rather than just going to the bathroom to text each other.  And kids do go to the bathroom and text.  I know this because I confiscated a phone and then  girl went to the bathroom and texted that girl's phone which was on my desk while they were taking a quiz.  Upon being asked if she used her phone while in the bathroom, she adamantly denied it until I showed her the phone and then she agreed that she was the one whose name appeared on the confiscated phone.

Anydarkage, remember when people would write  notes and pass them and live in fear that the teacher would intercept them?  AND GOD FORBID, read them ALOUD to the class??  I remember that always being the idle threat and I always waited for the day that  really juicy one was found and read aloud.

I have rarely seen a note passed here in my classroom.  Not sure if they are passing it and I don't see it, or if they aren't old enough to think about it, or what.  I assume they are too lazy to bother.  Occasionally, I will see notes written to their neighbors, on a paper I just handed out or in their agendas, and I have to tell them to stop.  But it's never worth my time to stop the class and read these notes aloud because they say stupid things.  Never anything juicy.

Recently, I have found two notes left behind in my room.   This one today had me cracking up on a Monday morning.  Maybe I will share the other one another day.   This one is for you, Sandra!

Remember, I teach 11-14 year olds.

In case you can't read middle school scratch, the first one says:

I guess I made a big mistake what can i do to make it up to you?
And the response:  FART LOUD!

Turn the paper over and it says:

Oops let's try another one!
And the response:  BURP LOUD

Now, I can only assume this is girl to girl note writing because in my experience, boys never write notes.  Although, I don't know many girls that would request burping or farting as a way to remedy a mistake made in a friendship.  BUt, kids these days are weird, so maybe these are the new social protocols.

I'm still smirking over this while I link up to Finding the Funny..

Friday, May 13, 2011

Feel Good Friday- It's Still Me!

Here we are again--finally!  What was up with blogger being out of service???? I wasn't sure I could do FGF today and that would be a tragedy!  

THEGIRL is still away from her desk, so I will  be hosting for a few more weeks.

If you haven't done Feel Good Friday before, you are supposed to create a post on your own blog where you tell us what made you feel good this week.  It can be any number of things.  I like to pick 5.  They don't have to be anything earthshattering, just things that made you happy or smile or feel successful.

Then you come back and link up and that bottom so we can read all about your fabulous week. 

Ordinarily, I like to tell you what made me happy or feel great.  I'm taking a different approach this week.  This week was not bad, but it was full of things that just made me roll my eyes or left me whispering to myself.  In retrospect, these things were funny, or I can find the funny in them.  So, I am going to tell you about them and feel good that they might make you laugh.  Or at least snicker.

**Stupid Rider, Jumps Are For Jumping**

Don't you dare let this picture of such a docile creature fool you.  This is what Tucker looked like when I arrived yesterday.  It took some serious convincing to get his butt off the ground.

I rode Tucker only once this week because of weather.  We have been having very frustrating lessons lately and she is trying to break some weird habits I have that can't just be undone overnight.  There are some things I do really well, like canter (which is funny because it took me so long to get there) and others that make me soooooo mad when she tells me for the umpteenth time what to do, that she thinks I am not doing but I think I am.

So, at the end of my lesson, when things were going better, this exchange took place:

r-ster:  "just trot right over that rail over there"

me:  "....  you mean that jump?"

r-ster:  "yeah, just trot right over it"

me:  "........." that would be a high trot, but ok.

He managed to duck to the left the first 4 times, so she told me to tap him and make him go over.  So I did.  He still ducked out.  So I reminded him that I was serious.

And he jumped it like it was a 10 foot wall. 

And I fell hard on my butt.

r-ster:  "are you ok, are you ok????  i didn't think he'd jump it like that, it wasn't that high!!!"

me:  "i'm fine, it will hurt tomorrow, WAS HE SUPPOSED TO JUMP???"

r-ster:  "yes, but not like that"

me:  "you said TROT over it, so I didn't realize he'd JUMP!  A little communication issue there!!"

I knew I was sliding off, so I let myself go and then worried he'd trample me so I screamed.  I think that's why she was worried that I was really hurt.  I looked up and he had stopped and was staring at me like "WHAT are you doing down there????"

The good news is that I did not die and I got back up and we walked over it.  After she lowered it.  The bad news is that my butt really hurts today.   I'm like a stiff old man today.   It will be so much fun to teach my spin class this afternoon!

**Pick A Color, Any Color**

I was at the drugstore on Monday and a former student was the cashier.  Every time I go in, she talks to me, usually about her dead mother, and I look at her and marvel at the wreck that she has become.  She was cute, smart, thin in high school.  Then her mother died,  very young, and I think she went off the deep end.  She had to have been involved with drugs to look like this.  Puffy face, her mouth is a mess, she has very slow eyes now, etc.  A total mess.  She appears to have gone through rehab, but she is so different from the girl I knew, that I can't stop staring.

So, it was my turn, after the loony toon in front of me, and I was kind of laughing with her.  I should have just kept my head down and ignored here.  Instead, this was the conversation.  While a line formed behind me.  And I was only buying 2 things.  And really wanted to get out.

her:  "Oh, you got your hair done!"

me:  "No, I just never have it down" trying to hurry the transaction

her:  "Oh, you should get it done.  YOU NEED TO TOUCH UP THE GRAYS."

me, jaw on floor :  "No I don't!  I don't color it, so this is how it is!"  swiping my card, ready to go

her:  "No, I mean, it looks great, but you could just do your roots"

me:  "These are natural, I DON'T COLOR MY HAIR AND DON'T PLAN TO!!"  omg, why am I still standing here????

her:  " You could just go down that aisle and get something really close to your natural color.  Here, feel mine (stroking her own hair) no really, feel it, isn't it smooth.  FEEL IT"

me, feeling her hair:  "ooh that is soft.  What did you do (WHY can't I leave this store???)

And I FINALLY got out of there.  Taking advice from her?????  I should have turned around and asked all of the people in line what their vote was:  listen to a possible drug addict or go with my own plans not to color my hair????

**Everyone's Always Looking For A Free Lunch**

During a team meeting with my principal this week, I tried to remind her that teacher appreciation week was last week and no one did anything for us.  Once upon a time, the PTO would make a lavish lunch, complete with decorating the teacher's room.  I never really ate it, but it was nice.  Our former principal suggested that maybe they could do that for us on the last day of school, instead, since that is a 1/2 day for kids, but a full day for us and it would be nice to have lunch.  They obliged. 

With the change of principals, a lot changed.  We haven't had that last day of school lunch for a long 3 years.  Last year, the very nice woman who is our boss sent out 2 emails telling us that she herself would buy us lunch the last day.  DO NOT BRING YOUR LUNCH, it read.  LUNCH IS ON ME! 

Twice this went out.


Where I come from, LUNCH IS ON ME means that the person is spending HER OWN MONEY on you, not money that is from the school budget and meant to be used on supplies!  One more notch in the frustration belt.

So, at our meeting this week, she told us that the PTO is doing a special breakfast for us on the last Friday of school.  You'll notice I had to have this conversation alone as the rest of the team watched the spar, mute:

me:  "Wait, that's when the 8th grade will be in New York, so that means all of the 8th grade teachers won't get to partake!"

her:  "Well, that's too bad.  They decided to go to New York!!" 

if you have ever chaperoned a trip with 14 year olds, you know that not one minute of that trip is a "privilege" and anyone doing it should have their heads examined!

me:  "Well, it's not like they have a choice.  Do you know that they used to do a fancy lunch--"

her:  "yes, I know all about it, but times are tight"

me:  "and then it was suggested that they do it the last day of school, and they did, but they haven't---"

her:  "I know, and times are tight and this is what they can do"

me:  "But you understand that this means none of the 8th grade teachers and everyone else who is going will get to have this appreciation breakfast."

her:  "They decided to go to New York.   That was their choice (not really!)This is when the PTO can do it!"

me:  "But maybe they don't know about the lunch on the 1/2 day"

her:  "OH you'll get your LUNCH!  You'll get your LUNCH, don't worry if I have to pay for it myself like I do every year"

collective crashing of jaws on table, see above

me:  "I'm saying maybe rather than you paying for lunch as though you ever have you could have the PTO do their breakfast on that half day"

her:  "Oh, you'll get your LUNCH, don't you worry.  And we're helping them by making the food.  I"M HELPING THEM WITH THIS BREAKFAST BECAUSE TIMES ARE TIGHT.  I'M HELPING THEM!!!"

The irony is that I don't even usually eat those lunches because they are crappy wraps from a restaurant that taste like cardboard.  I just want justice for all and if one is to be appreciated, then ALL should be appreciated.

So, I shouldn't worry, I'll get my LUNCH.  And I'll get my BREAKFAST too because I'm not stupid enough to spend 3 days in New York with kids.  

And thank you to the team who allowed me to go to battle over this while they watched.  I will charge admission next time.

So, that's my ridiculous week.  I'm not dead, I'll get my lunch and I should touch up my  grays.  Hope you enjoyed it! 

Now go write about why you're happy and link back up!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Little Over the Top, Maybe

When a friend of k-ster's got married, we went to their wedding extravaganza.  It was what I have always thought of as "a wedding".  We went through 2 years of weddings galore, everything from literally the 2 minute ceremony, the beach wedding, the backyard wedding, the church wedding, etc.  Until this wedding though, my "ideal wedding" image hadn't really been met.

We drove 6 hours to the wedding weekend events and from start to finish, it was what I always think of when I think of weddings.  The rehearsal dinner was just big enough.  They actually did a rehearsal of the wedding first (some rehearsal dinners we've been to had nothing to do with rehearsing...)  THe wedding was at a church, with an actual mass, and then the reception was at place that actually was designed for this sort of thing.

Where we live, everything is on a smaller scale.  We don't really have good restaurants around here for big weddings because nothing is really big and open enough for it.  We have lots of places that have lots of little rooms, so people end up getting stuck in rooms away from the action.  Or, they just have a wedding at or near the beach, in someone's backyard because it's just as expensive to rent a tent and cater.

When we went to the wedding mentioned above, the building was ideal for the reception.  It's located in place where grandiose weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, proms and all sorts of things keep the place in business all year long.  I enjoyed the atmosphere and the whole thing.  It was very fairy tale-like and I like that.  I get sucked right into that.  Not having had my own wedding, I still have every specific rules in my head about how it should be done and I am pretty prejudiced about that.

After the happy couple had their first kid, they had a christening, but we didn't go.  And then they had a birthday party and we didn't go.  And then they had another baby and today, we received this:
Click on it and look at it carefully.  This is a christening announcement.  With choices for dinner.  WITH CHOICES FOR DINNER?????  At a CHRISTENING?  My brain fills with pictures of the fancy wedding place. Where we chose meals FOR A WEDDING.

I can't get past this.  They clearly are well off, and I have no problem with that.  I'm glad for them and I'm glad they can provide a great life for their kids.

But in my experience, a christening takes place at a church and then you go back to someone's house for a party.  You don't select meals in advance like it's a wedding.

I almost want to drive the 6 hours to see the spectacle that this will be.  A spectacle for a 1 year old.  Wait, I don't think she's even a year old.

I'm not meaning to offend you if you yourself had a big hoopla like this for a baby.  I just can't wrap my head around it.

I wonder if future birthday parties will include ponies and clowns and various themes that we hear about only on tv.  But, as curious as it makes me, I can't drive the 6 hours to witness it.  I just can't do it!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eeeeeek..... You Know What That Means

So, k-ster walked into the kitchen last night to announce that Gwenstopher had just happily brought a mouse into the living room and dropped it behind the couch.  !!????!!!

We live in a very old house with a dirt cellar, so mice have free rein to get in the house.   When we've had a lot of rain like we've had, we usually see one.  And so does the cat.  Sometimes, we find one by accident when she leaves it, dead, outside the bedroom door.   It's an old house *shrug* we can't really avoid these things.  They don't get into our food, so what else can I do?

This time was something totally different.  Not 10 minutes before, she had been sitting on the couch with me.  Then she went off, I assume to see if there was any food in her bowl, and then out of nowhere, she came back in with a mouse that wasn't dead!

If this hadn't been 10 minutes before we went to bed, it wouldn't have been such a big deal.  But, I wasn't going to stay up all night hoping she'd catch the mouse.  If you know anything about cats, once you show a lot of interest in their prey, they are all done with it and will have nothing to do with catching it again.  And I wasn't crazy about locking her in the living room for 2 reasons.  1)  I didn't want her to catch it and then decapitate it on my white rug.  2)  there isn't a litter box in there and it's not fair to keep her locked up all night without one.  But I locked her in there anyway.

We heard some scrambling around a time or two, so I thought for sure she'd get it.  She usually does, when left alone.

I got up around 2 and opened the door a little and she came out and then proudly went right back in, so I was sure that meant she had killed it  and I'd find it this morning.

NOTHING.  NOWHERE.  I looked behind the couch and all over that room.  UGH. 

The funny thing is, I don't think she had been stalking this one for long.  I truly think she was wandering toward the kitchen and fell upon this mouse and was like "SCORE!".  k-ster said she came from the bedroom with it. 

Now, we don't allow mice in the bedroom.  That is like the last place I will shrug my shoulders and say "well, it's an old house, whatever".  No, not in my bedroom.  Where little mice paws can climb up the bed skirt and run across my face.  No, no, no.

Since we  have this "track" (click there to read about the catnip incident involving this track) where we can go from living room to bedroom to living room over and over and over (an thankfully shut all of the doors in situations like this), I believe she caught it in the other living room and just walked with it through the bedroom to give it to k-ster.  Who clearly was in need of a meal, so she dropped it for him to play with and then eat.  When he didn't go after it, she was like "oh crap, I better grab it again" and remained in hot pursuit for a while.

To no avail.

I better find a dead mouse in the middle of the floor when I get home today. 


When there's a mouse unfound, I can't help but think of THE DREAMING DEATH.  We watched The Guiding Light for a LOOOOOOOONG time, actually until it ended a few years ago.  When we were little, my mother would watch it or tape it and watch it later.  We weren't supposed to watch it, but we did.  And then when I was an adult, I'd tape it for a while and watch it when I got home.  And then it was over.  All those characters we grew up with.  Gone. 

Anydisease, THE DREAMING DEATH was a plot for a while that involved some white lab mice that had a sickness called, you guessed it, THE DREAMING DEATH.  I think they must have been in some god forsaken country for that portion and these mice were biting people.  And someone was probably doing research for a cure and brought home the mice.  They would have malaria like symptoms and I am sure someone must have died.  I no longer remember which characters were involved, maybe I have THE DREAMING DEATH right now because I am doing a bad job of explaining this, but I vividly remember one scene.

Someone blond reached into a drawer to get a knife, in the kitchen, and was bitten by one of these mice in the drawer.  She had blurry vision and then dream like situations and was on the brink.  And then I am sure, as soap operas do, she was magically cured by some doctor, probably Ed or Rick Bauer, and all was well.

Even today, whenever I reach blindly into a drawer or cabinet,  I wonder if one of those white mice will bite me and give me THE DREAMING DEATH.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Ha ha, did you think I meant the sport?  What a boring event THAT is!

Since I added a new garden this year, just so that now I can talk about my gardenS, I needed to fence it in.  About 7 years ago, I finally fenced in my old garden because I don't like to share my plants with the wild animals that lurk.  Some things climb over that fence and fly in, but most everything stays out.  I knew when I installed it, it was kind of short.

So this time, I wanted to really do it right!  I used 8 foot cedar fence rails as this seemed to be the most cost effective and I refuse to use pressure treated wood near food.  Near anything, actually.  First, I dug the holes and trenches so I could bury part of the fence below it.  That took a couple of hours, and then I had a horse to ride.

Then, I came home and put on the chicken wire.  Ok, I didn't WEAR the chicken wire, that was bad grammar.  I stapled the chicken wire to the posts.  And only stapled my hand once!  I bought a new staple gun that is easier to use but "backwards" because the staples shoot out the top.  I forgot, and thought it was broken and shot my hand.

Anyholes, I stapled the 60 inch chicken wire to the poles, which I had buried about 30 inches down.  It took another couple of hours and I was hungry and tired, so it was more annoying to unroll that chicken wire than it needed to be.  We still have to make a gate, so right now, it's a very ghetto system of chicken wire zip tied to itself to keep out the critters.
I had to put this board at the bottom of my ghetto gate because we have some persistent rabbits.  I saw one this morning, sizing it all up, running all around it.  I have NO DOUBT he's back with his friends trying to convince them he's found easy food. 
I planted 22 corn plants and 4 winter squash.  I'm going to use the "3 sisters" method but not all in the same hole.  I've put 4 corn plants to every one squash, with the squash in the middle.  And then I will add pole beans when they are ready.  I had more room in here than I thought I would, so I put in some broccoli and I will probably put something else as it gets ready to come out of the greenhouse.

I have a very special system of using grass clippings directly from the mower, as mulch.  I know there are lots of rules about compost, but I break just about every one of them and have VERY good luck with my garden.  They say that if you take grass clippings and don't let them dry out first, they will burn the plants.  I do this every time I mow and have no problems.  And it gives these young seedling some extra protections as I made little walls around them.  And keeps down the weeds.

If you stay tuned, you will hear about all of the rules of composting that I break.  Like *gasp* I don't turn my compost.  I just keep piling up and then dig into the center.  I know, shoot me now.    It works, so why stop???

Now I have to adjust my fence in the other garden to make it a little higher.  This won't be hard, actually, I have a plan.

On another note, it's spring and I love it.  I love when the trees are in bloom like this one here at school.  I love driving down the road and there are blinding pink trees and white trees exploding everywhere.  I especially love it when you look on the ground and there is a carpet of white or pink petals.
This isn't the finest example, but you get it.  Natural confetti.  That no one has to clean up.  I LOVE IT!  My crab apple tree is about to explode with pink and reddish blooms any second.  Very exciting!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Feel Good Friday, Rolling Into May

Here we are!  It's Friday.  It's May.   Everything is in bloom and green.   What more can we ask for?

Here at Feel Good Friday, we write a post about our favorite feel good moments of the week, you can choose any number but I always try to think of 5 feel good moments.  Then you come here and link up so we can go check you out and see what you've been up to.

I'm the substitute hostess of Feel Good Friday while thegirl is out creating a super duper new site.  Feel free to look around and see who lia sophia tomgirl really is and be sure to go create your own Feel Good Friday post and come back and link up!

**It's spring and I'm happy.  I really like it when things are blooming, growing and look great.  I looked around this week and realized how much I really wait all winter for this.  Nothing is dead yet.  Everything is so lush.  The grass look fantastic.  And it's not too hot or humid yet to enjoy it.

**The greenhouse is a hotbed (HA HA) of activity.  After the terrible spider trauma at the beginning of the week, I've spent a great deal of time with more planting of seeds and now I'm separating things and moving things out to the garden.

The peas are climbing up their little fence out in the garden and new peas are starting in the greenhouse.

The chard that I put out on Tuesday was all dug up by some asshole animal (only animals make me swear on this blog) and I replanted them last night and they were still holding their own this morning.

I separated the tomatoes that have their 2nd sets of leaves and they are looking good.  They love the heat of the greenhouse and they seem to be thriving.

Even my stubborn cucumbers and peppers are giving me a good effort right now.

**I do a monthly French group for adults at the Cultural Center.  We get together and either have a pot luck or watch a movie.  Last night, we watched a heavy movie called White Material.  They wanted to talk about it afterward and it was a nice group.  One of them is an artist who is exhibiting at the Center right now and the others are kind of like her groupies.  It was a nice group last night and lots of French was spoken.

**The Bruins keep winning and k-ster likes that, so that makes me happy.  He gets to go to the game tonight and that makes him REALLY happy, so that makes me happy.

**I bought the attachment for my reel mower (this means the old fashioned kind that you push without gas or electricity) that acts as a catcher for the clippings.  It works, but the whole thing is a lot of effort.  I don't know why just pushing this thing kicks my ass, but it does every time.  I intend to use it more, now that I can collect my clippings for the compost.  Although, the way it is designed lets a lot of them bounce back out.  There must be some adjustments I can make.

If I am really good, i can catch the grass before it gets too high.  If it's gets over a certain height, the reel mower doesn't actually cut it, it just lays down something I like to do when I'm done.  It's a fine line I am going to work on this summer!

Don't get excited, I am sure I will still have to use the other mower when I mow the campground.  There's no way I can handle that place with the reel mower!!

So that's it.  Nothing earthshattering this Friday.  Now go link up your own!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Franks and Beans and What It All Means

The other night, k-ster requested a meal that I have never actually made.  It's not that I don't know how, it's just that it has never occurred to me to make or buy these ingredients.  

Kind of like it would never occur to me at 2 in the afternoon, when driving by an ice cream place, to just randomly pull in and get an ice cream cone.  That is reserved for when people come to visit, and you take them after supper.

There are unspoken rules about these things and I still abide by them.  Just know that if you come and visit, one night I will bring you to the The Creamery after supper for their coconut ice cream and you'll go crazy!

Preparing this meal prompted me to compose a little story for you about the rules of eating such a meal.  So, as you guessed by the title, this is what I served:

 But, I can't not serve a vegetable, so I cooked up some spinach.
 And then I classed it up by adding some bread and serving it right on the cutting board.  We're very high class around here, always ready for a visit from the queen.
So, here's why it's never occurred to me to make this meal and why I have not eaten hot dogs and beans since 1989.  NOTE:  I have eaten a hot dog or two and I have certainly eaten beans, just not this kind and not this meal in particular.

I grew up here, in our campground, and so did my mother.  In the summer, various relatives used to come and stay in a cottage or, in my aunt's case, in a mobile home.  And that mobile home was the summer office and my "home base" all summer until I was in high school and Aunt Mildred didn't come anymore.  My mother's upbringing was very similar, complete with Aunt Mildred.

My mother must have picked this bean tradition up from her grandmother, who was Aunt Mildred's sister.  It makes me laugh now because I realize this was my great grandmother's recipe and yet my mother would make it for Aunt Mildred when my great grandmother died, but it was probably THEIR mother's recipe.  It tickles me, for some reason.

So, every Saturday from June until August, we would have hot dogs and beans on Aunt Mildred's porch.  We never say franks and beans in my mother's house.  We just don't.  It's hot dogs and beans.

I thought I'd share the story of my mother's beans.

To make these beans, you must use yellow eyed beans.  During the mid 80s, these suddenly became impossible to find.  No other bean would do.  You had to have the dried, yellow eyed beans. No little puny beans for us.  These things are BIG.   At one point, we could find them at Publix in Florida and my mother would bring them back from a trip to Florida, hidden under the bed like contraband.  Or she'd ask people to bring them home.  I vividly remember it being a very big deal when we could find those beans in the store.  I still sometimes find myself looking at the dried beans aisle to see if I can see them.

To begin:  On Saturday morning, you wash the beans in a strainer and there may be some soaking involved.  Then you boil them for what I am pretty sure is like 100 hours.  And they don't smell good.  Because you just boil them in water.  They really stink up the house.  If there is one thing I would tell you my mother cooked that I hated the smell of, it would be this portion of the bean making process.  Later, they smell fine, but boiling on the stove?  AWFUL.

Then, you must use the special bean dish that was my great grandmother's.  There used to be 2.  One was brown and one was teal.  They were nice casserole dishes, very 1960s and surely not pyrex.  They had gold painted flowers on them and the inside was white.  They had glass covers.  I know you know what I'm talking about.

My mother is famous for these beans and always had to bring them to the Labor Day parties we'd have in the campground.  We learned a very sobering lesson one Labor Day: you cannot put these casserole dishes on a grill to reheat them. Poor Phil thought he was being so helpful and grabbed the dish and put it right on the grill and it exploded!  No one got hurt, and I think I remember my mother yelling "MY BEANS" like she should yell "MY DAUGHTER" if one of us exploded, but now we only had ONE bean dish.  And that was a tragedy. And it was sacred.  And I'm pretty sure it was the brown one that was left because I think remember seeing the teal one on the grill.

Anybean, after you boil the beans, you drain them and then put onions, the beans, salt pork (which is just a giant hunk of bacon like pork that's very salty and very old fashioned and did I mention BIG) and some special ingredients that may or may not be listed on the B&M baked beans that I served on Sunday night.  I will assure you mom, one of your special ingredients was NOT listed and therefore, it tasted slightly different.  Then you put on the glass cover and bake them for what must be another 200 hours.  And they will bubble up and dribble everywhere and even when you remember to put the aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven, the juice will still burn to the bottom of the oven.  And that is yet another stink that helped form my overly sensitive olfactory nerves.

Around 5pm, you take them out and bring them to the back floor of the car and drive them over to Aunt Mildred's porch.  In those days, we didn't have those bags you can put hot things in (like pizza boxes) and carry them to your dinner.  It's like a 3 minute walk, but who wants to carry hot beans across the field??  Can you imagine?  What if you fell in a hole or twisted your ankle?   That would be a total waste of beans, potential breakage of the last bean dish and everyone would be left hungry.  Forget about your own injury.  Get in the car and drive them over.

Then, you must serve them with hot dogs on a paper plate.  And as far as I can recall, no bun for the hot dog. I'm pretty sure there were no not dog buns.  Because one thing Aunt Mildred always had was Wonder bread, which we did NOT have in our house.  And I remember eating Wonder bread with these beans.

I hadn't realized that it had been so long since I've had my mother's beans until the other night.  She has made them many times since, always for a potluck or something, but I've never had them again.  It was a tradition that we did for all of those years and then when Aunt Mildred stopped coming, my mother didn't make them on Saturdays anymore, and that sort of went away.

I didn't know until I was about 12 that this is not what everyone's mother made on Saturday nights.   We aren't a family that does a lot of traditions, but this was something we just always did.  If I had a friend over, she'd get to eat hot dogs and beans with us too.  Then I learned this isn't what everyone does.  But I think it used to be a New England tradition and since Aunt Mildred was OLD, that's probably why we did it.

I know you're wondering about the location of the last bean dish today.  I know it moved into the house next door when I was in high school.  I know that at one point, she tried making the beans in another dish and it was a mess.  But then I also know that one day, the last bean dish left this world.  And yet, the beans still get made for potlucks and cookouts.  She must have figured out how to adapt the recipe to work with the new dish.

As far as the beans themselves go, B&M were OK, but they weren't the same.  The biggest difference between my mother's beans and all of the other beans I've ever eaten is that somehow, they were cooked so much that they were really soft but I wouldn't say they were mushy.  Like you take them onto your plate and you know they are beans,you can tell the size of them, you can see the "eyes" from the yellow eyes (though they are dark brown with all of the molasses) but when you go to eat them, they kind of melt in your mouth.  Any other beans I've ever had have remained firm.  And these in the can were no different.  They were small and firm.  No melting.

Curiously, I don't wish to make my mother's beans.  First, hot dogs and beans are not something I crave.  Second, I don't think I could handle the smell of them boiling.  Third, I hasn't ever crossed my mind.  I did ask her once to tell me what she was doing as she did it, so I would know, and I remember her showing me.  I think when my sister a-ster got married, she gave her that recipe in the cookbook I made her, so I think it's written somewhere in the event that I ever want to make them.

So, if I were stranded on a desert island and all I could eat were my mother's beans and B&M?  I'd take my mother's and would have to fight off everyone else who got wind of it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How To Be Certain My Mother Never Sets Foot in the Greenhouse Again

This post is not for the faint of heart.  Mom, really, I don't think you should look any further.  Don't bother asking dad to read this and tell you what it's about.  Really.  Just skip today.

Imagine the scene.  I had just spent an hour in the garden, happily removing weeds, discovering what made it through the winter and planting my peas.  I have great plans for my garden this year, as you may have read.

It was getting dark, so I figured I could still work in the greenhouse, repotting things that are already outgrowing their little cubicles.  I brought in some compost from my garden.  I went into the house to get my headlamp so I would have some light.  I happily sat down, right on the gravel, and repotted a lot of things.

I started new peas.  Planting in succession is something I became a master at with beans last year, so I figure I will do it with other stuff too since I have the greenhouse.

I gave up on some cucumbers that are not performing and decided to try another variety that I bought this year.  (2 of my seeds  packets from 2008 did not grow at all.  I never worry about the year because I find that most stuff still grows years after I buy them.  Not these guys, though.)

I was a pig in shit out there.

I wrote my notes, crossed out things I had tossed out, added my new stuff.

I was just about to leave and decided I should probably put some of those little fiber discs in some moisture so I can go start some more fragile seeds tomorrow.  I dropped one and this is what I saw.
 I had been sitting on this very gravel, not 5 minutes before.  Barehanded in my compost bucket.  Oblivious that the greenhouse is still really just "outside" and there are critters.  Did you get a good look?  Oh, here it is a little closer.
I know you southern ladies have to worry about the Brown Recluse and Black Widows and terribly poisonous things.  We northerners aren't supposed to have scary spiders.  This this is like Daddylongleg size, but with much thicker legs and a real spider body, not that little dinky things that Daddylonglegs have. 

However, we seem to breed some very scary spiders here on the compound.  When I used to clean the restrooms in the campground, I would often find these where it was really damp.  They were usually dead, so I was OK with that.  K-ster says he has seen some whoppers out in the outdoor shower, which is sad because I do love to take showers outside at night.  I like to pretend they are definitely not out there.  One time, I even found one in my INSIDE shower.  I was pretty upset about that.  These things walk on water and they are hard to kill. 

I have learned that they really like water and damp places.  These are the top 2 descriptors for my old, dirt cellar.  My fear is that there are hundreds of these things down there just waiting for the right moment to jump out at me.

Outside, I never kill spiders.  I do believe they are beneficial and leave them alone.  But inside?  Unless they are the clear brown kind that hang out way up on the wall in my bathroom?  No way.  When something looks this mean and it's in my house, it's all over.

You might remember the incident I described last year, wherein there was one of these same a-hole spiders IN MY BATHROOM and I tried to climb out the window.  I'm not kidding, go look.  Spiders really cause this out of control feeling in me.

How can a gardener be so out of control over a spider?  How could I have just been up to my elbows in dirt and probably 50 of these things a few minutes before, but then when one is in my greenhouse totally lose it?

I can't explain it.

Usually, when I have something on me, like a bug, I don't scream and freak out.  I usually gasp, fling it off, wish I had screamed and then shrug and carry on.  I've had some spiders on me in the garden, like normal spiders, and I do just that.  Or, when I see them on the ground ahead of me, I just push them with a shovel or whatever.

But something different happens to me when I see spiders like this.  Especially in my house, and now, it seems, my greenhouse too.  There is this turmoil in my gut that makes me want to make awful noises.  I assure you, if one of these bastards is EVER on my body, there will be such visceral screams and gutteral utterings, you will be able to hear them wherever you live.  If you really want to see me lost my shit, something I really don't do very often, put one of these babies on me.  I don't know exactly where my viscera are, but you can be sure I will find them on that day so I can utter their screams.

If I had to make a list of 3 things I am most terrified of in  my life, I do believe that spiders larger than the size of a quarter would be the #1 thing.  I wanted to put something near this one so you could see how big it really was, but I was afraid it might be one of those jumping spiders and jump up and land on my face and be like an octopus and try to rip my face off.  So you will have to trust me, it was bigger than a quarter.  Bigger than a half dollar.

My mother is equally out of her mind over spiders, so if she sees one of these she won't be visiting my greenhouse very often.

Oh, and if you're an arachnologist (whatever they are called) and you  know what spider variety this is, please do share the name and scariness level of the venom in this kind of spider.  Sadly, I suspect it is totally native to the area, harmless and just likes water and damp places.