Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama


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Monday, October 24, 2011


I've often threatened to cut out Foghorn's tongue when her verbal diarrhea reached the level of unbearable.  Fitting, somehow, that the first "surgery" either of my children underwent involved my youngest's tongue.  I mentioned last week that she was having a frenulectomy, clipping the little strings of tissue under the tongue and hopefully aiding in her speech therapy.  It's not like she can't talk, God knows, but she has some lingering speech impediments, mostly notably making the "Y" sound instead of the "L" sound, which makes her lip balm obsession all the more irritating.  (You can only hear that nasally voice holler "I need yip balm!" so many times without developing a twitch.)

I will now admit that I have a weird reaction to hospitals.  With the exception of the period when my father was in the E.R. following his stroke (and most of his subsequent days in the hospital), I always get this ghoulish, giggling, inappropriate fit of black humor.  My mother has been witness to far too many hours of my shenanigans and she's never amused.  My sister, good ole Uncle Chester, has also been witness, but leans more towards finding me an almost welcome distraction.  Turns out, my daughter has the same gene.  We had to rise at 5 a.m., she had been fasting since the night before, and she was going to a place that for most kids would be unnerving.  How did Foghorn handle it?

She colored in the hospital-provided pirate coloring book.  She colored the first page all blue,
saying she was drowning the pirates...

She colored the next page all red, saying she was setting them on fire,
and then yelling, "Take that Mr. Parrot."

She harassed Uncle Chester with Oinkers.

A passing nurse smiled sweetly at Chester and she smiled back...until
she realized the woman was smiling at the pig on her chest.

She complained loudly and often to the nurse about the quality of the programming on the
hospital's television.  She finally started watching Arthur on my iPod.

She played her own warped version of "Go Fish" with Chester.

Once we were told she was next for surgery and she changed into her gown, the crackpot gene she inherited really took hold.  In addition to making obscene gestures up her gown, she got her groove on to a Backyardigans tune:

As the Professor likes to say, "Man, she makes Vincent Van Gogh look sane."

We finally made her stop dancing and rest for fear that her pulse would race and they'd cancel
her surgery.  As they wheeled her bed up the hallway she squealed, "Whee!!!"

The one time she looked mildly terror-stricken was when the anesthesiologist was putting the mask over her face to knock her out.  She also came out of the anesthesia more quickly than they anticipated, meaning I was not sitting by her bed when she suddenly woke up and freaked because, as she put it, "I forgot that I went to sleep here."  She had a quick Popsicle and then got to ride in the wheelchair to the van.  By that time she was complaining of a headache and nausea and it only figures that she managed to throw up that red Popsicle...all over the seats of the new van.  (I might add that I had the foresight to cover the seats with old blankets, but somebody moved them to the floor, meaning they were useless in protecting the sand-colored upholstery...not that I'm bitter.) 

We're still in the tongue-healing portion of this saga, so it remains to be seen how much mobility she's gained in her tongue.  I do know that after sleeping off the anesthesia for two hours, she was up and bouncing off the walls and talking non-stop as usual.  It'll be amazing if that thing ever gets a chance to heal.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


My thoughts this week have, for once, not been focused on my own self-centered desires or the overflowing hamper or even my Mad Men withdrawal.  (Seriously, they gotta have a new episode soon.  Some of us need Don Draper -- and you can file that under one of those "self-centered desires.")

Tomorrow Foghorn goes to Children's Hospital in Cincinnati for a frenulectomy, removing that little string beneath the tongue and hopefully curing those few lingering speech impediments.  Since I've wasted the bulk of a day obsessing over what to take for her and what knitting patterns to take for me and what to put on the iPod for both of us, I'll let my sister (The Inmates' beloved Uncle Chester) over at Nudged to Write fill you in on Foghorn's reactions to her impending surgery.  (You can read it here.)  One could look on this as a lazy woman's way to get someone else to write her blog post for her.  I prefer to think of it as shining a spotlight on my sister's writing abilities.  (I also like to say it's not "binging," it's a conscious decision not to waste food.  It's all in the semantics, my friend.)

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Saturday, October 15, 2011


I could have put up something on my Facebook status about my wonderful husband, our 16 glorious years together, how he is my best friend and confidante.  Yeah, I didn't do that.  In fact, I never re-post those husband-adoring messages that go around from time to time.  It's not that I don't like the Vulcan.  As husbands go, he's not too bad.  Somehow I can't think of him as my best friend, though.  When I ponder the term "best friend," I envision the person I call when I'm at my lowest, who listens to all my troubles with a sympathetic ear and offers a pat on the back.  How can my best friend be a man who I best communicate with via e-mail, even though he works at home and I'm merely typing to him from the floor below?

Back in the early days (read:  before children) we used to go on vacation in October.  After The Professor came along, it turned into long weekend trips with our child in the care of his grandmother and aunt.  Our last long weekend trip, which must go back a good six or seven years now, ended with The Vulcan going to sleep at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, leaving me in a Lexington hotel room watching Larry King.  At that point I decided a simple dinner out, childfree, was about as exciting as it was going to get.

OK, maybe the man's not completely without sentiment
This year we didn't even manage that.  Part of the problem was Grandma and Uncle Chester's unavailability to watch The Inmates (a rare occurrence).  Another issue was my hauling my sorry behind back to Weight Watchers this week to officially get weighed in for the first time in a year (and the receptionist kindly whited out my weight gain on my booklet so as not to discourage me).  Mostly, though, I just didn't feel like it.  We're going on twenty years together.   We have two kids, two dogs, two cats, two frogs, and seven computers.  (I throw in the latter fact only to reinforce my claim that my husband's easier to talk with through technology -- how else to explain the people-to-keyboard ratio in the house?)  We're past the dewy-eyed stage.  As my mother always says, if she sees a couple at a restaurant alone and they're totally thrilled with each other's company, they ain't married yet.  (Or maybe they're not married to each other.)

From my fab mother, handmade tote bag and organizer in a motif of travel trailers. 
Airstream escape fantasies, anyone?

In my early twenties I probably would have been depressed to think that romance would be totally gone from my life.  Instead I find myself too busy (and too tired) to care.  It could be because my concerns are more global in general or focused on my children in particular.  I'd like to say I've grown up, I've matured, but readers of my blog know that can't be it.  Perhaps I'm in a rut and too distracted by my latest knitting project to notice.  Whatever the reasons, I don't find myself depressed to have stayed home on my anniversary, with a day as ordinary as any other.   Maybe I've grown, maybe I'm heading towards enlightenment.  Or perhaps I'm mentally saving up for that big-ass gift I'm gonna make sure he gets me for our 20th anniversary.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


When thinking about fun, family-friendly activities in the Fall you probably don't think cemeteries (unless you have a ghost meter and a paranormal investigator license).  If the cemetery of choice is Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, however, the outing switches from the macabre to the beautiful.

Located minutes from downtown Cincinnati, Spring Grove  is America's second-largest cemetery and a National Historic Landmark.  The original intention was to have a park-like cemetery, close to the city, with a natural setting that would have a contemplative atmosphere.  Over 165 years after the first interment, Spring Grove still lives up to that original goal.  It encompasses 733 acres with 15 lakes, a waterfall, 1200 species of trees and shrubs, and 44 miles of paved, winding roadways. It was on one of these beautiful lakes that Uncle Chester learned you should never cheerily call, "Here, swanny, swanny," unless you want that particular fowl to swim over and attempt to peck your nose off.

Besides the lush surroundings, there are also the burial monuments themselves.  Some of the most well-known and rich Cincinnatians are buried there, with ornate statues, mausoleums, and obelisks at every turn.  And if you're a Dark Shadows fan it doesn't take much imagination to feel like you're at Collinwood, hanging around the mausoleum of Barnabus and his clan.

Among the famous buried at Spring Grove are:

  • Salmon Chase - Ohio Governor, Senator, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, and founder of the I.R.S.
  • Powell Crosley - Cincinnati Reds owner, inventor, and television pioneer.
  • Andrew Erkenbrecher - Founder of the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Charles Fleischmann -- Of Fleischmann's Yeast fame.
  • James Gamble and William Procter- Founders of Procter & Gamble.
  • Robert Gibson - Founder of Gibson Greeting Cards.
  • Joseph Hooker - Famous Civil War General for the Union side (and remembered more for his role in prostitutes being nicknamed "hookers").
  • Theodore M. Berry - Cincinnati's first African-American mayor.
  • Alexander McGuffy - Co-Author, with his brother, of the McGuffy Reader series.
  • George Stearns - Co-Founder of Stearns & Foster Mattress Co.
  • Waite Hoyt - Major League Baseball player and long-time Cincinnati Reds announcer.

This is hardly a comprehensive list.  There are literally hundreds of well-known politicians, medical professionals, and business owners of all kinds buried there, including lots in the brewery field.  (Cincinnati has always been a beer-drinking city.)  Spring Grove is also the resting spot for the founders of many of Cincinnati's department stores including Shillito's, Pogues, McAlpin's, and Mabley & Carew.

I also give you a few of the lesser known occupants, but ones which give me a particular thrill:

Mr. Miller was a singer and a bandleader and, most important, wrote the "Uh, oh, Spaghetti-O's" jingle.

Mr. Mulford was a pioneer sports editor and coined the term "baseball fan."
I've been to the touring exhibit of Titanic memorabilia 6 or 7 times, so naturally I have to love Ms. Stone, Cincinnati's own Titanic survivor.
That statue looks just like my dog, Frank, when he sees me packing suitcases.  I want him staring longingly at me for eternity.
This looks so much like me at the end of the day that I want a small scale model to put on my fireplace mantel.

We tried desperately to find the grave of Dick Von Hoene, but had to  give up the search.  By that point in the day I had two hot and grouchy children, one tired mother, and Chester, just being herself.  Those outside the Cincinnati viewing area probably won't known who the hell Dick Von Hoene was, but for folks around here in the 70s he will be remembered as "The Cool Ghoul."  Since I couldn't find his grave, I give you a clip instead:

For more information on Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, please check out their website here.   Be sure to stop in the office.  They have some great pamphlets and informational sheets including a self-guided walking tour and a list of  notable burials, including the section number.  They also have a couple maps online here.  They are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.  From May through August they are open late on Mondays and Thursdays until 8 p.m.  Spring Grove is located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio  45232.

Although we always seem to visit in the autumn, it's a beautiful place for spring flowers in bloom or a summer stroll.  Heck, I bet it's even beautiful in winter with a layer of snow on the angel statues.  Enjoy!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama

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Thursday, October 6, 2011


I don't want to say my husband, The Vulcan, is cheap.  I want to say he's a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner, but Charles Dickens might get pissed. 

Usually I get around my husband's frequent cry of "stop spending money!" by simply not telling him I spent it, one of the benefits of being the person in charge of household finance.  I also tend to hide my purchases in plain sight and it usually takes a good year for him to notice the new purse on my shoulder or the earrings dangling from my lobes.  My latest purchase, however, wasn't likely to go unseen.  Our 16th wedding anniversary is in a couple weeks and I learned about 12 years ago not to depend on him to pick an appropriate gift.  I've been much happier since I started simply buying a gift for myself and informing him afterwards.  I had every intention of picking myself up a Dooney & Bourke purse this year, but, alas, fear for my children's safety led me to a different gift.

We have a finished basement and on the weekends the kids sleep on the sofa beds down there and watch Netflix until the wee hours.  The Professor sleeps on a fold-out love seat my sister passed on to us when she moved.  Unfortunately the bed part is not functioning properly anymore and both he and the dog have to sleep on a mattress that slopes down at a 45 degree angle.  And that's the good sofa bed.  The other was purchased from the seller of our first home 15 years ago and it was gently used then.  It has since been through two kids, three dogs, and two cats, all of whom like to sleep on it or scratch it or bounce on it.  When unfolded, the mattress sagged in the middle, several springs were missing near the foot causing the mattress to dangle and scrape the floor, and stuffing was starting to come out of the back.  The arms had already been patched and the cushions recovered twice.  I feared some day a piece of metal was going to snap and one or both of my children (or my dogs) would be trapped and  turn up on "News of the Weird" due to the freakish cause of death.

On Sunday I wandered into the local Furniture Fair and twenty minutes later left with an order for a new futon.  The Inmates tested it in the store and as long as they're willing to sleep next to each other it will accommodate them both.  Chester's old sofa will stay, since it's totally functional as a couch, just not as a bed given its resemblance to a ski slope.  I thought I was being very mature about this.  I wasn't whining about not getting a purse (well, just a little) and I didn't insist this purchase should come out of general house maintenance money, even though I've always viewed being given a practical gift as only one step above being given the clap.

I informed The Vulcan that I bought a futon.  His reaction?  I quote:  "You better not have!"  Huh?  Apparently he thought there was nothing wrong with our old couch, that it was perfectly functional and not unattractive if I put the slipcover back on.  Plus, he insisted, this futon was expensive.  Why, he asked, couldn't I have gotten one for under $200?  I informed him that not only hadn't he bought a couch in decades, but apparently he'd never even been in a store with one since Pope John Paul died.

I give you my photographic evidence of my old couch.  You decide.

Personally I think Child Protective Services might have had something to say if they showed up...not to mention PETA and the SPCA.  The deliverymen were apparently so horrified by the old couch that they took it away, but left the crappy cushions behind on the floor.

On the other hand, the kids keep talking about how comfortable the new one is, I keep looking at the fresh unblemished fabric, and Frank immediately curled up and took a long nap.  Yep, The Vulcan is outnumbered as usual.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Friday was the 79th birthday of The Inmates’ Grandma (who shockingly also happens to be my mother).  I often refer to her as the “Coolest Septuagenarian I Know.”  In addition to all the stereotypical grandmotherly type things like cooking and sewing and quilting, she’s also a kick-ass blogger, wonderfully snarky, and, best of all, occasionally thinks I’m funny (as long as I don’t get too crude or obscene).

On Friday, my sister (the Inmates’ Uncle Chester) and I took Grandma to Mimi’s for lunch, then wandered around JoAnn’s clutching our 40% off coupons looking for something crafty to buy.  In the evening, they came to my house for Grandma’s annual request -- my homemade, award-winning white velvet cake with caramel frosting.  I really hate to brag on myself…so I’ll give you the link to my mother’s blog so she can do it for me.  (You can also get the recipe for the cake if you check it out here.)

My sister had been showering my mother with daily birthday gifts all week and finished up with some antique-y finds.  (My mother has an obsession with the old French-Bauer dairy in particular.)  Foghorn presented Grandma with a handmade picture, the Professor with a Scottie cookie jar he paid for with his own money.  (Scotties are another of Grandma’s obsessions.)

My own gifts went from one extreme to the other.  The first was an iPod Nano, already set up with all her favorite music.  The others were hand-knit items.  The first set was like something my 10-year-old self might have made her decades ago.  I knitted two checkerboard placemats (free pattern available here), then added a crocheted leaf to each (free pattern available here -- I lifted the leaf pattern from the wreath).  I also added three dishcloths -- the acorn pattern and diamonds (not shown) are both from the booklet Ultimate Book of Dishcloths & Pot Holders by Annie's Attic.  The third, with the figure of a squirrel visible in the center, is available for free here

The last knit item was the promised scarf made from the variegated Roving Acres wool yarn purchased at the Wool Gathering.  My mother is not one to bundle up in the winter (she and I share the common experience of having been frequently nagged by her mother to put hats on our heads), so she liked this somewhat lacy pattern.  With the wool it will be warm enough if wrapped around the face, but not overwhelmingly hot when the temperature isn’t in the Arctic range.  It was knit from the free pattern "December is for Stephanie" and can be found on Ravelry here. (Complete notes on the projects can be found on my Ravelry page here.)

We finished up the evening with a viewing of Breaking Away, one of our favorite movies.  And another round of cake slices.

Normally birthdays in my family stretch over an entire week or at the very least over several days.  This year seemed to me to be cut short…thanks to me.  Recycled Doggies, the rescue group from which I adopted St. Jimmi, was in need of someone to do the last leg of a transport coming from Green River, Kentucky and ending in Mason, Ohio.  Not only did my mother not object to spending her birthday Saturday with a van full of smelly dogs, she came along and rode all the way with a pregnant Chihuahua on her lap.  Two of the dogs, Grandma’s Chihuahua and Chester’s friend, a Jack Russell/beagle mix named Brae, are actually going to other rescues and were just getting a ride.  Recycled Doggies was taking the mommy dog who rode in the back of the van, in Frank’s cage, with her five puppies.  Unfortunately she looks nervous in the picture and you can’t see the puppies at all, but they were all adorable, trust me.  (Incidentally, if you’re in the Cincinnati area they will also be available for adoption in the next month or two, so check out their website if you’re interested in getting a new family member.)

See what I mean?  Coolest Septuagenarian I know.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011


Wow, October 1st already!  And my mind is swirling with images of pumpkins and hay and corn mazes.  While the Greater Cincinnati area has lots of great destinations for Fall fun, I give you four of my family's favorites:

1.  Fall-O-Ween Festival at Coney Island

I admit to a special fondness for Coney Island any time of the year.  Before King's Island and its acres of incredible roller coasters, thrill rides, and award-winning kiddie area, there was Coney.  It closed when I was a baby and I know its amusement park history only through documentaries and stories from my parents and older siblings.  Still, this small amusement park by the river has a charm all its own, even when I'm not imagining where the painted Yellow Brick Road once wound through the park's "Land of Oz."

Fall-O-Ween features displays, Halloween crafts, farm animals, and a trick-or-treat trail, as well as all the classic Coney rides.  Fall-O-Ween runs weekends now through October 9, from noon to 6 p.m.  More information, including online ticket purchasing, can be found at Coney Island's website here.

2.  Fall on the Farm - Blooms 'N Berries, Loveland, Ohio 

There's nothing like a family farm to make Fall complete.  Located about 20 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati, Bloom 'N Berries won the 2006 award for "Best Pumpkin Patch" from Cincinnati magazine.  We'd have to agree.  There are lots of kid-friendly activities, games, animals, and a hayride to the gorgeous fields full of pumpkins.  They also have the most fabulous 7-acre corn maze, this year cut in the shape of a train.  (Check out the photo here.)

 Blooms 'N Berries' Fall on the Farm is open weekends now through the end of October.  For prices, directions, and hours, please check out their website here.

3.  Halloween Nights at Parky's Farm, Winton Woods, Cincinnati

Enjoy a hayride through the woods, gather around the camp-fire, and enjoy beautiful lighted displays at Parky's Farm.  Other activities include a moon bounce, obstacle course, not-so-haunted barn (non-moving decorations with creepy music), and a fortune-teller.  Your family might also enjoy The Magic of Phil Dalton and Rock Star Corey's Kids Rock Show.  Halloween Nights is open 6 to 10 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, beginning October 6.  Admission is $6 per person (free for kids under 23 months), but you can save a dollar per ticket by purchasing online here.   Directions and more information can be found at the Hamilton County Parks website here

4.  Hall-Zoo-Ween, Cincinnati Zoo

Enjoy Halloween fun at Cincinnati's first-class zoo and botanical garden.  Children 12 and under can dress in costume and trick-or-treat through the Zoo.  You can also take in Phil Dalton's Theatre of Illusions on Satudays and Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m., get your fingers painted or a tattoo at the Beauty Shop of Horrors, watch giant pumpkin carving demonstrations, and visit the Frisch's pumpkin patch.  Also back for 2011 is the Search for the Golden Frisch's Big Boy.  Find one of the two golden Big Boy statues hidden each day and win your choice of a Frisch's or Zoo prize package valued at $150.

Hall-Zoo-Ween is free with Zoo admission -- $14 for adults, $10 for children, and $8 for parking.  Directions and more information can be found at the Zoo's website here.

So, tell me, what are some of your favorite Halloween traditions or outings?  Please share in the comments!