Friday, April 27, 2012

Chinoiserie trend?

I've been studying this month's House Beautiful and I just noticed something very interesting--the proliferation of chinoiserie wallpaper.  There was one child's bedroom with cherry blossom wallpaper and three (!) dining rooms with chinoiserie wallpaper.  This is a very attractive alternative to the now stale red dining room that we've seen so much of and there are dozens (hundreds!) of different colors and patterns to choose from.  I had never thought seriously of doing our future dining room in chinoiserie wallpaper, but the thought had crossed my mind that it would look very nice in the downstairs powder room.

Anyway, I have torn out a page for my design folder and will try to think how to incorporate chinoiserie into my general design plan.  It may not work at all, but it's so pretty!      

C and horses

Yesterday C came home with three different horse books (Misty of Chincoteague, etc.).

Oxymoron of the day

Looking at Craigslist, I just saw an ad for "Luxury Singlewide Clearance."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fourth house

The fourth house is gone now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Demolition continues

Here's some of what's happening:

  • They're loading debris from the two neighboring houses onto trucks.  It's very dusty.
  • D is on a field trip to the local intentional community/organic farm/craft community/cult.
  • My husband and I knocked out our five hours of mandatory school volunteering by doing a solar observing activity with a specially adapted telescope with both 4th grade classes.  (It was a very arduous project to get safe and working.  During the home prep phase, one eye piece with a metal rim became deformed under the impact of concentrated sunlight.)  He handed out sheets with photos of sunspot activity for the past week, asked students to predict today's sun spot number and location, and then brought them outside to look at a filtered projection of the sun's disc to check their guesses and sketch in the actual locations.  We had some trouble with fleeting clouds, which added to the realism of the exercise.        

Monday, April 23, 2012

Three houses gone

Here's some of what is happening:
  • There was a caterpillar tractor on a flatbed on the street this morning. By school pick-up time, three houses in our neighborhood had been flattened. There's one more house to go this round. They want these houses down in order to run utility lines through the lots.
  • The unfortunate thing is that the college will also be ripping up the central green space in order to run said utility lines. We have been getting a lot of good out of the central green space (the kids have been meeting the remaining neighbor children to play) and we have nearly two months left here, so we'd like it to be untouched as long as possible.
  • Our weather has been exquisite. We've been having morning lows around 58/59 degrees with afternoon highs in the 70s (although yesterday was 87) and it's just about perfect.
  • This evening, my husband and C went to a two-hour sailing class at the marina and learned on a Sunfish. There was an hour of explanation and knot practice and then an hour on the boat. One unexpected feature was that students were asked to capsize the boat and then right it and climb back in. They came back wet and very happy. C was very brave. They still need to pass a test in order to qualify to take a boat out of the practice area. C also wants to do more kayaking and explore the coves.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

True Grit showing

We finally showed True Grit (2010) last night as part of our graduate movie series. We had two students (an engaged couple) and a lot of refreshments (strawberries, carrots, dried fruit and nut mix, pitas and hummus, cookies, etc.). After some internal debate, we decided to let C sit up and watch. There are a couple of scary or gruesome scenes (it's PG-13), but C liked it very much. She says her favorite character is Mattie.

We big people sat up and talked. Consensus was that Mattie is Law (very precise, very exact, only wishing her due) while La Boeuf (the Texas Ranger) is Honor. I couldn't quite characterize Rooster Cogburn, but upon reflection, I think he is Retribution.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Heard at the cafeteria

From the neighboring group of students having dinner, I heard the following:
  • Girl: Don't tell anybody, but for my birthday, I have two cakes--one for me, one for everybody else.
  • Guy: My mom is a beekeeper.

CA vs IL

I was listening to last Thursday's Dave Ramsey show while making lunches, and I heard a call that made me want to jump through the radio. The caller and her husband (an airline pilot) have just moved from Southern California to the Chicago area. They have substantial student loans and she is currently waitressing. She wants to finish her nursing degree. The sticky thing is that she says that community college classes in the Chicago area are about 7X more expensive than in California, so she thinks her choices are either to 1) take out student loans to study in Chicago 2) move back with family in CA while she studies there and have husband commute to job in Chicago (her preference).

DR was mainly just hung up on the price differential, wondering if it could really be true, and he ended by appealing for help to his listenership. I was concerned mainly about some other stuff, namely:
  • The fact that classes cost $X in CA does not mean that there are slots available for the caller. One of the things that can drag out degree-getting (and CA is quite notorious for this, even at the 4-year level) is that needed classes are simply unavailable. It would totally stink to move to CA to study, move in with in-laws or parents, and then not be able to fill up a class schedule with appropriate classes. I'm not sure if IL is better in this respect, so that's worth some research.
  • Given California's troubles, it's quite possible for the CA classes to suddenly become more expensive, or for there to be other unexpected and undesirable changes in the community college system.
  • It costs money to move, particularly if the plan is to move to Southern California and then move back to Illinois. Those one or two moves will pay for a lot of more expensive Chicago CC classes, even if they are much more expensive.
I also have been concerned about the nursing gold rush. I think there is reason to worry when everybody seems to be going into a particular field, be it dot coms or real estate. Not that somebody won't be able to do very well in those fields, because there is real demand, but when everybody (regardless of aptitude) is expected to make big bucks in a field, I wonder.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday news

Here's some of what is happening:
  • After a tumble into a tub of soap solution at a campus festival and despite heroic measures to resuscitate it, my husband's elderly cell phone had finally had enough. My husband made an evening visit to the Sprint store last night and was soon set up with a new phone.
  • The fireflies have been out lately.
  • D is slightly feverish and will be home from school tomorrow.
  • C had an invite to a pool party this afternoon. Problem was, there was serious rain on the way to church and the temperature fell to around 62 degrees after the rain stopped. It wasn't looking good. I called the mom and after being reassured that there were non-pool activities planned decided we should go. It turned out that it was almost all boys and that the activities were mostly boy-friendly, but C had a very good time in the pool (the temperature went up eventually), despite the fact that the pool fun largely consisted of shooting water in each others faces with water guns. There was a truly epic water balloon fight (two coolers full of ammo), a raw egg toss, and a game of capture-the-flag.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

C's iPhone

The kids bought mints from Starbucks a day or two ago. C showed me her "iPhone"--namely the slender empty mint box.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cash for keys

I was just looking at Jim the Realtor's latest video and heard him say that Bank of America just gave a homeowner $7k cash-for-keys (that's the traditional bank bribe given for leaving quickly and with the house in tolerable condition). It's a million dollar or so house, though.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Saturday dinner

I somehow forgot to mention last night's dinner. My husband made crepes (very successfully) that we ate with hot cherry pie filling, Nutella and a warm filling made with ricotta, sugar, and spices. There were also jams, maple syrup and honey available.


Here's some of what's been happening:
  • We have a four-day weekend for Easter.
  • We went to church for Good Friday.
  • On Saturday, my husband boiled eggs and put Polish/Ukrainian-style plastic sleeves on them. Instant pisanki!
  • Our neighbors did an Easter pinata on the green space and invited our kids. Everybody had a good time, and there were few Nerf bat injuries.
  • We grocery shopped furiously in the lead-up to Easter. One of our first acquisitions was a Collin Street fruitcake, which the kids believe essential for celebrating major holidays.
  • We went to Easter Sunday mass at our home parish and the kids got candy. For lunch, we had egg-and-sausage sandwiches, bagels, cream cheese, two kinds of salmon (one very peppery), fresh apples and strawberries. My husband carved a somewhat hollow chocolate bunny that he and the kids molded from Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Raccoon rodeo

We have a 4-day weekend for Easter. C got an invitation to go sew a bunny at a friend's house and have dinner. D and I hung out on the green space with neighbors.

Eventually, we saw a pest control truck pull up. I initially thought he was coming to spray our house (it's roach time again), but the guy said he was there to take care of a dead raccoon in the wall of a neighbor's house. Ewww. After dinner, we went back on the green space. It turned out that the horrible smell had just been raccoon poop and there were in fact a live mama and papa raccoon and three baby raccoons (a couple weeks old) up in the attic. There was a merry chase. They put the babies in a box but the mama and papa raccoon are still at large. The neighborhood kids got to get a good look at the babies, who will be going to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I see that Dallas-Ft. Worth has been having some nasty tornado activity today. When I was picking up the kids this afternoon, the sky was pretty black, and the radio weather alert said to watch out for hen's egg-sized hail, but that the tornado warning for our area has been removed. I called my husband with a weather bulletin and he decided to come home early. ( predicts golf-ball sized hail.)

Eventually, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, and pea-sized hail stones started coming down and bouncing off our roof and gutters. It's been quite the show. My husband managed to catch some in a sieve for the kids. The downside of all of this is that the house we are buying next year just got its new roof.

Learning from Agatha Christie

We're currently doing a Miss Marple (the Joan Hickson version) marathon. I'm enjoying them a lot more watching them in a row, rather than in isolation, and I'm starting to notice minor recurring characters. The David Suchet Hercule Poirot is also excellent. Here are some things I've picked up from watching Agatha Christie:
  • Watch your drink.
  • Don't eat chocolates that came in the mail with no explanation.
  • Don't return home unexpectedly. Murderers hate that.
  • Never invite Hercule Poirot down for the weekend.
  • If you think you have important information or are worried about something you don't understand, share the information immediately with multiple people, so you aren't accidentally confiding in the murderer. (Not following this advice has cost countless housemaids their lives.)
  • Never attempt to blackmail a murderer (unless doing so under a detective's direction).
  • Watch out for actors, doctors, former black sheep, people who've recently returned from abroad and anybody who goes out of their way to help the detective.

D on chess book

D was surprised to see that we have an entire book devoted to chess for kids. He thought that a book of chess tips might be a sort of cheating.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Green space

Last night, our neighbors two doors down were moving out and four families worth of kids were out on the central green space (including D and I). We met a new faculty family that lives in a nearby rental--they're Syrian and the father teaches Arabic and does Syriac and early Christian stuff.