Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Just after school let out, I was inspired by Marcy over at (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish to create a summer bucket list with the kids.  We sat down together and each kid came up with a couple of ideas and I added a few of my own.  We had accomplished everything by the end of June.  Then July hit like Hades during a heat wave and we ventured out as little as possible.  It's probably fortunate my kids have the same aversion to heat as I.  How torturous it would be on a 99 degree day to have some child masquerading as a desert creature forcing me to go to a playground.  July ended up with the occasional movie outing or trip to a nice air conditioned Cincinnati attraction like Museum Center or the Newport Aquarium.  The majority of the month was spent indoors watching a lot of television, playing a lot of video games, and eating a lot of ice cream.

July 27th marked exactly one month until school starts, so I thought it would be a good time to try a bucket list brainstorming session again.  This time I asked a question:  What would we need to do to make you feel like this was a fun, successful summer?  That query, combined with heat-induced summer cabin fever, caused the floodgates to open.  I stood at the Ikea dry erase board in the kitchen and wrote down anything they thought of.  A good 99% of the ideas are doable.  At Foghorn's insistence I wrote down "go to outer space," even though I'm not stupid enough to try to arrange that excursion.  (It did, however, make me think of Ralph Cramden's "to the moon" threat, which I've wanted to use on Foghorn this summer about every other hour.)

The mind map we created is a bit daunting.  Some of the items are dependent on decent weather (I steadfastly refuse to go to an amusement park on one of those 95-degrees-and-dripping-humidity days) and others I find cost prohibitive (I refuse to spend $20 on a first run movie along with another $20 in snacks).  We're making a valiant attempt, though, to hit everything and if all three of us survive the experience I'm sending word to the Vatican about the miracle.

In the last five days we:

* Went to Run, Jump, and Play - Giant inflatables, trampolines, and indoor play sets.  Oh, yes, and air conditioned.

Still not sure why Uncle Chester likes to come
along to these things...

* Went to a church festival - Bars & Bells tickets, rides, and the winning of plastic maces with which to torture people.  Priceless.

Had to impose a rule on the number of consecutive
rides on the Ferris Wheel after the Professor rode
10 times and made himself deathly ill on a
previous visit.

* Went to Coney Island for rides - Cincinnati's original amusement park is much smaller than in its heyday 50 years ago, but it's still got lots of fun, classic rides like the Scrambler, Tilt-o-Whirl, and Flying Bobs.  Foghorn's favorite is the small roller coaster.  Just be careful to NEVER sit in the second seat from the front.  When the car reaches the bottom of the first hill your head is thrust forward and then it zooms right up the next hill, snapping your head in the other direction and smashing your cranium on the barely-padded back of the seat.  The Professor's chiropractor has often joked that there are rides at King's Island that tempt him to stand at the exit handing out his business cards.  I've got to tell him about this one.

The Queen of the Tilt-o-Whirl

"We all live in a yellow submarine..."
* Went to COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio - It's an hour and a half drive each way, so our trips to COSI are usually annual ones.  It's always worth the trip, though, as this place has tons of hands-on science goodness.  The kids are particularly fond of the submarine area and the Space section (although the latter is moving and undergoing renovations).  I'm in love with an area called Progress, which takes you back in time to first an 1898 Main Street, then a 1962 version.  The kids have decided that they get along much better if they join forces against me, so their behavior on the trip was pretty good.  I ran into a small hiccup when I stopped an hour into the trip at Bob Evans to stuff my children with pancakes and bacon, thus ensuring no visits to the COSI lunch room would be necessary.  Unfortunately Foghorn got into one of her moods, refusing anything to eat or drink and crying through the entire breakfast.  I was eyed with sympathy by the young cashier as we left.  And once again Foghorn causes condom sales to spike.

The Inmates making waves...as usual.

1960s appliance store.  Foghorn lifted the lid and said,
"What's cooking?"  Then I explained that's a washing
machine.  Don't judge too harshly -- we have a front

Yes, she's wearing the new scarf I just
knitted her out of wool yarn.  And, yes, it
is a humid, 87 degree day today.
* Went to Adventure Station at Sharon Woods - This indoor play area at one of our county's terrific parks has been a favorite since The Professor was tiny.  They've both gotten much too old and big for the ball pit, but the indoor slides, climbing appartus, and make-believe areas are still a hit.  I'm trying not to worry that most of their time today was spent playing "prison break" and talking to imaginary cohorts who were armed with shovels, picks, and chisels.

Of course, having a schedule this jam-packed is not without its downside.  Between our busy days and the Olympics to watch in the evenings, there is a huge stack of unopened mail in my in box, I still haven't put all the groceries away from Sunday evening, and there is a giant basket of clean-yet-wrinkled laundry sitting on top of the washer.  Last evening The Vulcan started grumbling something while in the kitchen and then made an unfriendly remark about the sink overflowing with dirty dishes.  Having survived a breakfast with Foghorn, three hours of driving, and another three hours at a museum, I wasn't in the mood for his criticism.  He made a rather snarly suggestion that I not go anywhere tomorrow and instead tend to the house.  This did not go over well. 

This morning as we were packing up for Sharon Woods, he emerged from his office and gave us a cheerful farewell.  Foghorn and I were standing at the bottom of the stairs and I made a point of rubbing his nose in the fact that I was not staying home to clean and then I mouthed some obscenities at him.  Foghorn chimed in with a loud, "Yeah, Dad.  Make your own damn dinner!"  The Vulcan wandered off muttering something about her never finding a husband.


* Camp Gonnawanna

Spending the Summer With Nancy Drew


Friday, July 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by SouleMama

When it's still way into the 90s and ungodly humid it's time to find a new indoor activity.  In this case it was a Taste of Climbing at RockQuest in Sharonville, Ohio.  For $10 each kid got to try two climbs in full gear under the watchful eye of a trained staff member.   Foghorn has been talking for months about becoming a professional rock climber when she grew up (despite never having climbed in her life).  She took the first turn and did really well, going about 3/4 of the way up the wall.  The Professor took his first turn and then Foghorn passed to let him take his second and then...she burst into tears and refused take her final turn at all.  She wouldn't discuss what her problem was and on the way home she had a terrible, pained look on her face.  Uncle Chester commented, "I think we just saw a dream die."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My mother turns 80 years old this September.  We're known in my family for going a little over-the-top on birthdays...and Christmas...and Easter...and Groundhog's Day...  This birthday, however, called for something beyond the norm, even by our standards.  My sister and I had talked about taking our mother on a trip, but she doesn't enjoy travel much these days and she nicely put the brakes on that idea.  She doesn't like big gatherings, so we're not attempting to corral long lost friends and relatives for a surprise party.  What then?

July 13 marked exactly 80 days until my mother's 80th birthday, so my sister and I have assembled a collection of gifts, one for each day and each representing a year of her life.  She's currently up to 1943, so I'm safe in saying that the first gifts have included a recipe booklet from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, a compilation disc of 1930s music, postcards from the 1939 New York World's Fair, 1943 secretarial magazines, and handmade items from vintage patterns crafted by my sister and me.  My mother is chronicling her months-long birthday celebration in weekly blog updates over at Lillian's Cupboard (found here).

Personally I'm thrilled to no longer have to keep my knitting projects from the last four months under wraps.  I was constantly hiding my works-in-progress when my mother stopped by and I couldn't take part in the weekly Yarn Along over at  the Small Things blog since mommy is my most dedicated reader.  Now that the gift-giving has started, I can at least reveal the four hand-knitted items she's received so far.


This 1933 pattern is from the U.K. and can be found for free here.  Once I figured out the modern equivalent of the British needles used, the pattern itself was a piece of cake.  They're done is wool sock yarn and I chose a charcoal gray color which just seemed to fit with the Depression-era pattern.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here


This reversable baby blanket was made from a pattern provided by none other than former First Lady, Mrs. Herbert Hoover.  It was my first attempt at double-knitting and I found the process so slow and aggravating I'll probably never do it again.  The results, however, I think were rather pretty, especially the way you get the thin stripes of pink and green on both sides.  It's the perfect size for my mother's 13 year old dog, Rusty, to lounge on.  I did it in pink and pale green that is the same color as my mother's beloved Jadeite.  The pattern can be found free here.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.


The pattern itself is very plain and suited more for a military man in freezing climates than a suburban woman, but I couldn't resist knitting up this Navy Watch Cap from 1941.  It'll be a nice hat for her to keep in the car in case of emergency...or to put to use if she decides to take up cat burglary in her 80s.  The free pattern can be found on the Red Cross Museum's web site here and you can download a PDF of the original type-written pattern, which is neat to look at all by itself.  Once I figured out the type of yarn and size of needle (a common problem with older patterns), it was a breeze to knit...if ungodly boring.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.

It's a little big on Foghorn, but looks
very nice on Grandma.

Last year I got my mother into reading Agatha Christie mysteries, so naturally when I stumbled on a pattern for a scarf inspired by Miss Marple, Christie's elderly spinster detective, I couldn't resist.  Christie's The Body in the Library was published in 1942, so I included a copy of the book with the scarf, knit in a color called Chipmunk Tweed.  Definitely looks like something an older lady would wear in an English village.  The free pattern can be found here.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.

More vintage knitty goodness is still to come, but I'm afraid that's all I can reveal at the moment.  I hope you all can stand the suspense until I can reveal the next pattern...  Come on, admit it.  This is more suspenseful than game seven of the World Series.


*  So Mad I Could Knit

*  The Millinery Marathon

Friday, July 20, 2012


We are past the halfway mark of summer vacation here, which means The Warden's nerves are seriously frayed, the sibling arguments are getting more frequent, and I've put on seven pounds.  (Last year I indulged in dozens of pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream for medicinal purposes, the year before I went with the creamy whip's banana splits, also known by me as "housewife heroin", and this year packaged cream horns seem to be feeding my addiction.)  We've been seriously hampered in our summertime outings this July thanks to weeks of temperatures in the upper 90s, topping out at 100 or more some days.  Hard to believe we're having snowstorm-like cabin fever during the hottest month of the year.  Nonetheless we have managed to squeeze in some memorable activities beyond our usual trips to King's Island, Coney Island, and Grandma's swimming pool:

1.  Niagara Falls - We started out the summer by heading north, all the way to a foreign country.  (A nearly blow-by-blow account can be read by checking out my Facebook page.  You can "like" it by clicking on the link in the upper right corner.  Uncle Chester also kept a daily account on her blog, which you can read here.)

Preparing for the Maid of the Mist ride

Perfect weather

Canada's Butterfly Conservatory.  Only The Professor was
enthusiastic about this one and it turned out to be
fabulous.  I never thought I'd be that impressed
by butterflies.

The Whirlpool Aero Car

Chester doing a Fred Sanford on us.

The Hubbard-Roycroft Museum in East Aurora, NY.  Lots of
arts and crafts-style goodness.

Frank Lloyd Wright House in Buffalo.  Lots of art deco-style

At Fantasy Island amusement park.  Foghorn's first time
behind the wheel.  She spent the whole time either turned
in her seat looking at her brother in the car behind her or
stopping dead in the road to pretend to light a cigarette.  Sigh...

Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, the supposedly
haunted prison where they filmed large chunks of
The Shawshank Redemption

2.  Let's go surfin' now - The Professor and I took in the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary concert when they stopped in Cincinnati.  Much to The Vulcan's dismay, I returned home with an autographed program.  Hey, when you're talking about a band with only one member under 70, you gotta figure you need to grab collectibles like this when you can.

Die-hard Beach Boys fans will understand how I felt
seeing Brian Wilson on stage with the rest of the band.

3.   Mermaid time - Swimming is not an unusual activity for us in the summer.  What is unique is how often Foghorn has done it this year and how rarely The Professor has.  King's Island's water park was revamped over the winter and opened this year as Soak City.  The new, huge wave pool and the ability to ride in it in inner tubes was a hit.  What they did to the lazy river was not.  It was once a relaxing float along a meandering waterway with only the occasional water hazard or screaming, splashing kid to contend with.  Now it's a constant assault by water guns, spurting fountains, and overturning buckets.  The Professor was so mad we haven't returned since.  On the other hand, Foghorn is improving in her swimming thanks to weekly visits to Grandma's pool with Uncle Chester.  The Professor has declined all invitations to accompany them, opting instead for hours spent on his computer playing Minecraft and watching videos on YouTube.

4.  Doggy overnighter - A few weeks ago a dog rescue had a transport that was stopping overnight in Cincinnati.  (For those unfamiliar with the concept, dogs in shelters have been taken in by rescues in another state and need transport.  It ends up being like the pony express, with dozens of volunteers driving dogs an hour or so away and then meeting up with a new team who take them on the next leg.)  A plea was put out for a place for some of the dogs to board overnight or they wouldn't get on the transport and would have to be left behind.  Despite The Vulcan's objections, I volunteered and we played host to the sweetest seven month old hound pup named Billy.  Even The Vulcan agreed he was incredibly cute, although he admitted this after he was sure I had safely deposited Billy with the next driving team.  He's always so sure that if an animal enters our house it will never leave...just because that's been the case every time so far.

Foghorn and Billy had a special bond.

He didn't make a peep all night until he spotted a couple
deer in our backyard.  That got his attention.

A total cuddle-bug.

Foghorn in particular became extremely attached to Billy.  I've often thought we should be a foster family for Recycled Doggies, taking care of some canine cuties until their fur-ever homes come along, but I wondered about the emotional toll it would take on the kids.  This overnight experience, unfortunately, taught me that it would simply destroy Foghorn to have to let dogs go.  She cried in the middle of the night, while Billy was still there, and then rose at 6 a.m. to cry over him as I was preparing to take him to the transport meeting place.  I would judge her for her sappy, wimpy ways if I hadn't cried all the way home myself after dropping him off and saying goodbye.  Despite her mourning, she was almost immediately talking about the next time we have a dog over for the night.  The Vulcan wandered away mumbling to himself and locked his office door.


A Furry Kind of Love

The Sad Tale of Little Red Riding Chester