09 April 2009

Lizard Killer

The other day when I moved a large bucket that had been sitting outside all winter, I accidentally woke up a little salamander that had gone into hibernation underneath it. His rude awakening did not make him happy, in spite of the lovely weather. Obviously it was way too early for him.

When I looked for him the next day, I expected him to be gone. But no, he was still there. The poor creature had fallen onto his back and was not able to flip himself over. He laid there helplessly waving his tiny limbs in the air. Judging by his slow movements, he was still not fully awake. I helped the little fellow up.

I looked again the next day, and to my horror I found a totally dehydrated, and very dead, little salamander. I felt awful. His state of slumber had apparently kept him from finding a new dark, cold, and soggy spot to continue his sleep. He had not survived a day of sunshine with temperatures in the seventies.

When I went online to find out more about the habits of salamanders, I thought at first he was a Van Dyke salamander, a VERY RARE species, found only in Western Washington. The species is somewhat at risk because of low numbers due to the small area where it lives. And now there was one less and it was my fault. How was I going to live with myself?

However, it was most likely a Plethodon Vehiculum, or Western Red-backed salamander, a moderately common species that doesn't move around much. It wasn't lack of sleep that kept him from finding a better spot, it was his character. I am still a lizard killer, but not responsible for expediting extinction. Phew.

08 April 2009

Stand By Me

For my loved ones, the newborn babies, this month's birthday girls and boys, the newlyweds, my good friends, our families near and far away, and all the wonderful people in my life...



Here are some more Songs Around The World:
One Love
Don't Worry

07 April 2009

Yard Work

We spent the weekend playing outside in the sun. Raking yet more branches and twigs, and clearing the patch next to the barn. We burnt as much debris as we could. There is so much to be done still. Sometimes it feels like it's never ending. At the same time it's instant gratification, cleaning up the mess from last year's barn building and the winter weather. I never thought I would love gardening as much as I do.

If we don't pay her, is it still considered child labor?

I've got it, papa!

The start of a new front yard

Trilliums popping up in the path

Moment of Zen

No Lola, you can't eat these!

The new herb garden

Successful trillium transplants

She hates getting her hands dirty

Burn, baby, burn!

04 April 2009

Going With The Flow

Working out makes me feel good and it makes me look better. Nevertheless, I almost always have to push myself to go to the gym. That is not the case with yoga. Yoga is my new crack, along with blogging. I have wanted to take yoga classes for years but never actually got around to it until I was pregnant. And despite my best intentions, I didn't keep it up after Lola's birth. Until late last year.

I didn't want to be one of those New Year's Resolutions People that crowd the gym for a few weeks after January 1, so I started my yoga routine in December. (Coinciding with our move into the barn and the loss of a shower. They have wonderful showers at the gym.) Usually I take two classes a week: Gentle Yoga and Yoga Basics. The first emphasizes relaxation, the second is much more of a work out. Both are great, and I feel thoroughly revived after each class.

Maya, my Monday night yoga teacher was teaching in Hawaii this week (on a side note: what is up with EVERYONE going to Hawaii this year?) and her class was taught by Anne. Anne normally teaches Gentle Yoga on Saturday mornings. I really liked her teaching style. And since I did not have a child this morning, I got up when Ryan left for work and went to the gym to treat myself to Anne's regular class.

Every one of my yoga teachers has her own way of teaching. I love all of them; each fulfills a different need. Anne appears to be a grounded person yet spiritual at the same time. She radiates energy. She said things in class this morning that resonated in me. "Send your dreams into the universe. Give what you seek and receive it tenfold." She told us to take our deepest desires into our hearts and thank the universe as if we had already received them, whatever they were.

I find it interesting that the very second I voice my anger at the universe, I am reminded that all I have to do is ask and I shall receive. It feels like the universe commented on yesterday's post through Anne. If I put out there what it is I need, what I dream about, what I desire, I can make it happen. It is the power of believing that makes us realize our dreams.

I have been pondering the question all morning. What is my deepest desire? What do I really want the universe to give me? What do I NEED? "Money" seems to be the obvious answer, but there is more to it than that. I am going to do some more meditating on the subject and just go with the flow in the meantime. There is lovely spring weather to enjoy. The Farmer's Market is opening this weekend, and there is always yard work to be done.

03 April 2009

Balancing Act

In my last Wednesday night yoga class we practiced a new balancing pose. It is called a half moon pose. I did reasonably okay on my right leg, but failed miserably on my left. Or was it the other way around? I don't know what that says about me. Something insightful, I'm sure.

Earlier that day Ryan and I had a fight. A BIG fight. It came out of nowhere. Anger, fear, frustration, and resentment just poured out of both of us without any real cause. It surprised me. Because in spite of our circumstances, we are doing okay. Much better than the year before, I think. I mean that.

But it doesn't take much, evidently, to throw us off balance. We are so absorbed in our survival that we pay too little attention to romance. To doing things as a couple. We work, eat, crash. Our Friday night Date Night isn't much of a date these days. We need to redirect our energy to us. We can only make it through this if we find our balance together.

I am very angry with the universe at times. All I wanted was a family of my own. I do not understand why I have to forsake EVERYTHING else including plumbing, now that I have my wish. I am sure in a few years I will understand the point to this balancing exercise but I fail to see it right now.

I am not too blinded by our life however, to realize we are being looked after. Just after Ryan had left Wednesday morning, and I was left wondering what to do now, the phone rang. It was our Fairy Godmother whom we hadn't spoken to in months. She felt she needed to call us. Talking to her cleared the way to talk to each other.

Today all is right in our world again. Relatively speaking, of course. Still no plumbing. Tonight we will have our Date Night. Lola is spending the night at Carla's allowing us to practice balancing poses together. Or something.

30 March 2009

Grandma In A Pocket

Lola was checking my pockets for grandma, yesterday. First she investigated the right pocket. When she didn't find what she was looking for, she got up, walked over to my other side and looked in the left pocket. "Grandma in pocket?" No. No grandma to be found in either pocket, but she did find a box of raisins. She settled for that.

She was looking for my digital camera. She knows it holds pictures of her grandmother. Ever since we have returned from Arizona, Lola loves to look at pictures of her grandma. She once saw a picture of Judy on Facebook, so now whenever I take out the computer, Lola comes running up to me "Grandma, grandma!", directing me to Judy's homepage.


I remember taking pictures of my nephews with an old-fashioned camera, several years ago. The youngest came up to me, wanting to look at the 'little pictures'. I tried to explain how in the old days there was such a thing as film and developing pictures. A time consuming process. And no preview. "Oh."

Growing up in the digital age will do that to you.

28 March 2009

Lola Speaks

Proud Mom Report
We were waiting in the checkout line at Jo-Ann fabric and craft store this morning, when out of the blue Lola started counting. All the way to ten! The only one she skipped was seven. Child prodigy for sure!

Not So Proud Mom Report

Lola is developing a bit of a potty-mouth. No idea where she picks up these words. Ahem. The 'mot du jour' starts with an ef and ends with uck. She likes to say it with feeling, loud and clear, for everyone to hear. When I tell her it's an ugly word she cannot use, she looks at me and says it louder. Testing boundaries is fun!

The 'do as I say, not as I do' parenting technique does not seem to be working. Mouth rinses all around, then!

Public Plea

26 March 2009

Nelsons Of All Trades

There were some problems with the plumbing up at the house. Water was backing up into the kitchen sink. All efforts to tackle the blockage with aggressive chemicals or more environmentally sound solutions had been unsuccessful. It was time to call a plumber. Unfortunately our preferred plumber, and the only one we could afford, was a) not available this week and b) does not deal with back-up. Can't say I blame him. For that kind of money I wouldn't want to deal with filthy smelly slush either.

No choice but to do it ourselves then. We are not slum lords, after all. Somewhat hesitantly we took on the project of replacing twenty feet of clogged piping from the kitchen sink to the intersection with the septic tank. To be fair; Ryan did the dirty work. By the time I got home to give him a hand, he had already cut out the old pipe and dealt with the black goo that dripped out of it. All that remained was fitting the new PVC pipe.

It went flawless. Even though we both have very little experience with plumbing, we managed to fix the problem in less than an hour. What's more, we fixed it without having a domestic. I am so very proud of us!

After a celebratory beer, we turned into lumberjacks. Again, Ryan had done the hard work. He had downed three trees that had been dead for some time earlier yesterday morning and cut them into pieces. While he chopped them to a size that fits the wood stove, I stacked them in the wheelbarrow. We are now burning homegrown wood.

All this time, I was making chicken tandoori in the crockpot. And thinking of ways to decorate a bird house. We are the most versatile couple I know. In addition to PR & communications and marketing & sales, we plumb, axe, cook, create, etc. Fine catches, both of us. Really, someone should offer us a job!

24 March 2009

Bad To The Bone

Speaking of manly men; Chewy, the company dog, is back for a few days. He went to live with his dad a couple of weeks ago. It was awfully quiet at Bello Modo without him. Yesterday morning he came tearing through the door with Shelly and her dog Maliika. A very pleasant surprise. However, he ran right past me, never acknowledging my presence.

His dad has bought him a new collar. A really tough looking collar made of black leather with metal studs. It makes him look very manly. And evidently does wonders for his self confidence. His lapdog days appear to be over. No more of that girly touchy feely stuff like saying hello and being really happy to see us. No, he completely ignored us, stole Maliika's bone AND her bed, and spent the morning chewin' and chillin'.

He is still a wuss about getting wet though.

23 March 2009

Real Men

I dropped off the chainsaw this morning on my way to work. It needs to be serviced. I took it to the store where we bought it last year, J&I Power Equipment in Lacey. A store for manly men. The burliest of chainsaws can be purchased there alongside all sorts of heavy duty power tools. Ryan loves to go there. [Insert noise Tim Allen makes on the sitcom 'Home Improvement' - I have no idea how to write that.]

After dropping off the chainsaw, I drove down Lilly Road to Pam's house. Past the John Deere tractor store - another one of my husband's favorites, and past the lumber store. Lacey would do well on the Manliest Cities List, I thought to myself. They have a Lowe's and a Home Depot too for the do-it-yourselver, not to mention Cabela's for the outdoorsman.

There really is such a list. A few weeks ago I read that Seattle ranks near the bottom of the country's fifty manliest cities. A city's ranking is based on the number of sports teams it has, the number of hardware stores, the number of tools purchased, and the frequency of monster truck rallies. Cities can lose points for high numbers of home furnishing stores, minivan sales and subscriptions to beauty magazines.

Nashville is the place to be for Real Men, according to the list. New York is the least manliest city in the United States, partly due to lack of fishing and drag racing opportunities. Seattle is #40. If only Lacey had a professional sports team.

Spring At Last

The weather gods were on my side this weekend and I spent most of it outside, gardening. After a cold and foggy start, Saturday turned into a gorgeous sunny day. Sunday's weather was a little bit of everything but still nice enough to be outdoors. It was glorious. I had so much fun working my butt off. And the post-workout beer in the sun tasted just wonderful.

Everything is coming back to life. The rhododendrons are packed with buds ready to burst into white, purple, fuchsia, and red flowers. The azalea that didn't flower at all when we moved here and only had five flowers last year, is also loaded. A little love was all it needed. The blue bells are popping up everywhere, even under the apple tree where we added two feet of dirt. The trilliums that I transplanted from the side of the house to the side of the barn have all survived. Little bits of green peeping through the soil wherever I look.

Not just plants are coming back to life. The frogs are singing their hearts out at night in the wetlands behind our woods. If we don't block off the gap underneath the front door, they hop on inside. We had three little frogs in the barn a couple of days ago. The salamanders are waking up as well.


I cleaned up wheelbarrows full of leaves, pine tree branches, and other winter debris. The flowerbeds around the house are looking spiffy again - yard maintenance was included in the rental contract. My herb garden is starting to take shape. And the bird feeders are filled with sunflower seeds and ready for guests. Just not these. I don't care how cute they look together.



This is a new barn, birds! Go poop somewhere else. Filthy creatures.

21 March 2009

I Am Lola's Mother

Yesterday, as I was leaving Ralph's, the fancy supermarket where you can also drop off your mail and pay your taxes, I saw a familiar face. It was a little boy with his mother. I realized it was Dawson, one of the other kids that Carla cares for. A very sweet and shy two year old, who just this week started talking to me. Before he merely looked at me from underneath his eyebrows. Lola loves him very much. I had never met his mother, however. She looked at me looking at her child. I doubled back.

"Are you Dawson's mother?", I asked her. She gave me a puzzled look and answered tentatively "Yes."

"I am Lola's mother," I said to her, holding out my hand. We shook hands and smiled at each other.

"Oh, Lola! Dawson loves her. He talks about her all the time. Lola. Lola."

We talked about the kids for a little bit and then we said goodbye. As I was walking to my car, I chuckled. For the first time in my life I had introduced myself by my honorary title, and not my name. But then it hit me: we had ONLY used our titles, we never exchanged names. I have no idea what to call her, other than 'Dawson's mother'. And neither does she. Obviously I must practice my introduction. I have too many names already and do not need another one.

"Hello, my name is Hanneke. I am Lola's mother." Easy enough. I should have no trouble mastering this!

17 March 2009

Kiss The Irish

Carla opened the door for us this morning, decked out in green. A green t-shirt and matching hair band with little bobbing hearts, with the words 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' written on them. It is St. Patrick's Day today. The celebration of Ireland's Patron Saint and America's excuse for drinking green beer.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.


Happy St. Patrick's Day! Slainte!

16 March 2009

Rainy Monday Musings

I noticed this morning, as I was driving to work through downtown Olympia in the pouring rain, not a single person was using an umbrella. This is in stark contrast to Bilbao where positively everyone whips out an umbrella at the first drop falling from the sky. It must be a hair thing. Olympia is a hippie town, meaning beanie hats galore, year round. Basques are better groomed. They must not like hat hair. Or wet hair.

While pondering this phenomenon, I also realized I have a tendency to move to rainy parts of the world. I wonder why that is. I just really like the color green?
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