Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just Us Girls

Don's in Charleston, Amy and I (and of course Juliett) are here. After three years in the military we are reasonably good at adapting to separations and changes in the routine. (Though I still am not sure how I did 11 weeks by myself when Amy was under five months old...) I'd always rather have Don home but, well, the show must go on.

Things I'd love to write about: bike riding, snakes, sunflowers, painting, and some deep thoughts on marriage.

Things on my to-do list before writing: clean, paint, shop, pack, bake, organize life.

Probability of writing anything pretty on any of the above topics this week: not looking good.

More from me later, I promise ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Very Good Day

(With apologies to all my NE family and friends),
In Southern Maryland today it was a sunny 90 degrees and the crepe myrtle are in bloom. Keeping with our theme of "Best Week Off Ever" Don and Amy and I once again crammed our day full. This morning we went for our first family bike ride and stopped at the park for awhile (more on the biking particulars in another post). After returning home Amy practiced riding her tricycle in the driveway. Lunch and a nap soon followed.
Nap time was enormously productive for Don and me. I took two more boxes of outgoing schtufffff to the thrift store, and while there scored a $25 glider and footstool (also a topic for a future post). The rest of a luxurious 3-hour Amy nap was spent mostly on priming our outdoor rocking chairs. Finally.

This evening we took ourselves out to dinner on Solomon's Island. We ate seafood on the pier and then strolled hand-in-hand with Amy down the boardwalk, watching the boats. A blend of Summer Evening, Beach Vacation, and Wow-Our-Little-Girl-Is-Growing-Up and made the perfect end to a perfect day. I bought organic local peaches at the Farmer's Market on our way out, and Amy and Don had a "who can cluck like a chicken louder" contest the whole way home. What a delightful day.

Oh, And...

Just for the sake of obsessive-compulsive completeness, must add to my previous post:

$28 to replace the hood shocks. No more sticks to keep the hood from slamming down! Can't believe it took so long to get around to doing that when it turned out to be a 5 minute project. Savings: $100

Cleaned the headlights with this fancy chemical sanding/sealing system from Walmart for $20. Got rid off all the fog and yellowing. Very cool.

Okay, I feel better now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Car Repairs

It all started about a year or so ago when we had my 1997 Ford Explorer inspected for Maryland registration. Our friendly neighborhood Ford dealer found only two small problems that needed fixing before a clean safety certificate could be issued. One tag light bulb was out: dealer estimate to replace, $25 and the third brakelight (the one above the rear window) was out: dealer estimate to replace, $600. We declined the repair at that time and staggered home, wondering how we could swing such a costly fix for such a tiny problem.

A week later a bulb of another sort went off inside my head - the word "EBAY" scrawled in neon lights. And sure enough, a search for "Ford third brake light" brought up many hits. A quick bit of internet research yielded the information that such a problem is almost always with the ballast, not the light itself. Ballast = $40 on Ebay. Arrived two days later, installed in 5 minutes, problem solved. Oh, and that taglight: $2.50 at Walmart.

As we patted ourselves on the back for the huge savings we just banked, we realized that other "costly repairs" might be actually be easy DIY projects. Don is not a mechanic, but has the interest and aptitude for fixing things under the hood. We both are internet junkies, and instructions for pretty much anything can be found with a little patient searching.
A 12-year-old car has no shortage of things to fix, so over the course of the last year we (and by We, I mean Don) have successfully fixed the following problems:

A/C did not hold a charge from one season to the next:
-Accumulator rusted out, new accumulator purchased at Autozone and installed by Don, had dealer recharge the system: Total cost $150, estimated savings: $500 (at least).

Punctured rear tire on a 4" construction screw in a parking lot:
-Walmart patch kit and tool: Total cost less than $10, estimated savings: did not get an estimate, but probably plenty. Not to mention the satisfaction of yanking that enormous barb out of the tire, squirting rubber goo in the hole, and still having it hold air over a year later.

Speedometer/Odometer stopped working:
-Replaced entire instrument cluster (replacement found on ebay for $40), Total savings: $450.

Replaced Serpentine Belt: Total cost $28, savings $100. This one was easy (says Don).

Add in wipers and an air filter and we're approaching $2,000 saved by doing these repairs ourselves with just a bit of help and parts from Google, Ebay, Walmart, and Autozone.

There are still a few major fixes needed in the near future that we will reluctantly hand over to the professionals, but we can saunter into the service center with the confidence of educated car owners, no longer willing to sign off on big ticket repairs without a little research first.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Five Years

Must take just a quick moment to observe that it was exactly five years ago today that I met my husband. I'm sure everyone has heard the story because we love to tell it, but in honor of the five year mark I'll tell it again here.

I was working at UConn for the summer. While at my desk in the Dean's Office one Tuesday morning I overheard some coworkers discussing the huge "stinky flower" that was causing quite the media buzz over in the Ecology Greenhouse. Always interested in seeing what a buzz is about, and even more intrigued because this hype was over a flower, I decided to check it out on my way home from work. I slipped in moments before the greenhouse closed for the day and there was Don, greenhouse student employee, ready to explain this botanical phenomenon to visitors. And the rest is history.

The mushy details are less important than how much this still makes us marvel at the mysterious perfection of God's plan. A lifetime of happiness was created by a chance meeting at a flower that smells like rotting flesh.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Down by the Bay

... or rather, the cove. Don's Father's Day request was to spend a morning fishing for Chesapeake Blue Crab, so the three of us (four, if you count Amy's baby doll) spent Saturday morning down at the Coast Guard Station pier. Don did catch quite a few crab but most were females (can't keep the girls!) or too small, so we came home with just three keepers. Amy had a tremendous amount of fun walking up and down the pier ("look, boats!") and showing her baby doll the crabs in the cooler. I spent most of the time following half a step behind her so that she didn't get too close to the edge, but I did take our kayak out for a quick spin. It's been years!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A few weeks ago Amy and I were on our way back home from a walk when I noticed this bird's nest upside-down on the ground at the base of the willow oak in front of our house. No eggs, no evidence of use. The night before had been quite windy. But some delightful little bird spent many days crafting this delicate nest and, most delightfully of all, wove in several strands of irridescent Easter grass. I left the nest at the tree for its owner to reclaim or reuse, but after several days of hard rain it remained on the ground, muddy but still sparkling in the light. After a time spent drying in a shoe box it is now a part of my home and, with the exception of Amy, is probably the most beautiful creation here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hello, World!

Well, I have taken the plunge, and on the far side of 11pm have started my own blog. This is usually the hour at which I am brimming with inspiration for most projects. This is also approximately the hour at which I should be fast asleep in order to have a prayer of keeping up with my 19-month-old daughter, Amy, the next day. So for my first post, here are some quick thoughts on the whole blogging experience:

1. When it comes to technology, I usually resist and resist until at last I can't help but be swept along on the modern tide (cell phones, digital photography, facebook all come to mind). I am almost always glad to have joined in.

2. As to titles, usernames, etc: I have no original ideas. One of my very vivid early childhood memories comes from first grade, when everyone in the class had to make up an "Indian" name for him or herself as part of our Thanksgiving celebration. (Yes, Indian, not Native American - does that date me?) This was probably the most horrid and embarrassing task I had ever been assigned in school, and to this day I can not come up with anything clever. So my apologies in advance for a lack of anything really smart or cute in that department.

3. I have been a faithful journaler since 1998. Every single day. In a notebook. Under my bed. This will not be that, and vice versa.

And with that, it is time for bed!