Showing posts from April, 2017

On cats and quail

As far as Nefertiti and Midnight are concerned the addition of a small quail chick is the best thing they've ever seen. This is how Nefertiti spent most of her day yesterday.

Of course, quail watching is exhausting, so naps must happen.

And then there is the line for the prime viewing seat.

As soon as I took this, Nefertiti decided to go do something else, so Midnight immediately moved into better viewing position.

Sometimes the cats like the little quail a bit too much. While I was making dinner yesterday, I happened to catch Nefertiti pawing at the box and she managed to upend it. I was across the room fast enough, yelling at the cat, to scare he off and scoop up the chick. All was well, and we put the brooder box to rights. There is still now a large strap holding the box onto the table. (You can see it in the bottom picture.)

A couple of quail hatching notes, because the instructions I've found in various places are not well-written or terribly informative. 1. Game bird f…

Meet the quail

So far no more quail have hatched, but our little chick from yesterday seems to be doing quite well, and made it through the night. Everyone is more than a little fascinated by it. It is a very tiny chick... maybe an inch and a half long? Little, little, little.

Isn't he a cute little chick? When he peeps it is very loud. I think he wants a friend. I hope another of the eggs hatches. For size reference, that is a lid of a mayonnaise jar filled with regular sized marbles (so he doesn't drown) next to him.

Here's the whole brooder set-up. The reason the light is so odd is that it is a red bulb in that lamp. Evidently it is better for their eyes than regular white light. There is also extremely heavy-duty mesh wire over the top and down the sides. It might seem a bit of over-kill for one little tiny quail. You would think than until you see the 14 pound cat laying on top of the mesh, basking in the heat of the lamp, and enjoying the chick TV show in the box.

J. and I are thin…

Well, that was fast

A rare, two-post day.


Right after I hit publish, TM calls me from the corner of the kitchen and say, "One of the eggs hatched! You've got to come here!" I will admit to not believing him at first, because he likes to tease. But he was right. In the time it took me to write a blog post, this speedy little fellow had popped out of his egg. I'm sure tomorrow, it will begin to be all-quail, all the time.

I love finding a new author

Still no chicks... we are all beginning to wonder if they will hatch. We aren't completely despairing yet, because everything I've read says that Bobwhite quails can take several days past the official date to make an appearance.

What I really wanted to share with you today was the new (to me) author that I've found.

Am I the only one who has to look at the name of every book if the shelf the books happen to be on is labelled 'free'? A month or so ago, I was in the city building and there happened to be a free book shelf there in the hallway. So I stopped. One book, called The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, looked interesting, though this was based solely on the cover and an extremely cursory examination of  the back. But heck, it was free, so worth a chance.

I was so happy that I took that chance. The Whistling Season is about a one room schoolhouse in western Montana around 1909. It turned out to be incredibly engaging and extremely well-written. It was one of th…

A tax tale

No chicks yet...

In the meantime, I'm going to kvetch about taxes and Cook County instead. It's no secret that our property taxes are egregiously high. So high, that we have had to go into debt just to stay in this house, and are the single biggest reason J. even started to look for jobs elsewhere in the first place. If I were to tell you exactly how high they are, you would spit out your coffee and ruin you computer or phone, so I won't do that. (But if you wanted to look up approximately how many quills are on a porcupine, the number would be in the ballpark, if a bit low.) We had given up appealing our taxes because it never did any good. The appeal was either denied or was so little as to not be worth the effort.

Enter realtors and lawyers when we started the whole house selling business.

When these professionals saw the tax bill they were shocked. Obscene was one word to describe them. It felt justifying at least. It was also somewhat infuriating to realize that our t…

Learning curve

So these as-yet-to-be-actual-quail-chicks are keeping us on our toes. I sent J. to the feed store near his work on Friday, and it turns out that people don't generally hatch just four or five game birds at a time. How do I know this? Well, it's because of the size the brooder supplies come in. take a look.

That bag on the left is the food which is fifty pounds. FIFTY pounds! How many people can say that they own fifty pounds of game bird chow? So, if anyone needs some, I'm pretty sure we have some to spare. That bag on the right is the shavings for the bottom of the brooder box. It's not quite fifty pounds, but it is not light, either. We also have a heat lamp and a thermometer and grit. The thing we do not have at the moment is a brooder box.

At first I thought I would just clean out one of the many glass tanks that M. has stored on our back porch. I even brought one into the house to clean it. And then I thought, hmmm, maybe I should check on this. Well, so much for…

Friday bullets, April 21, 2017

Another week done, and I haven't packed a single box during that time. I suppose I really need to start thinking about that. I'm in denial. Though we haven't been packing, other things have gone on.

We had the first brisket last night, and it was fabulous, if I do say so myself. The caramelized sweet onions that cooked underneath the brisket made a really terrific sauce.For teatime, we have started reading the Swallows and Amazons series. I know I write about these books fairly frequently, but they really are just that good. So good that D. and TM, who have heard them already, are excited about hearing them again. The younger group has heard about them a lot, and are excited to finally get to listen to them themselves.The move is unsettling a lot of people, in different ways. It is particularly affecting those children who have a history of loosing everything important to them. They know what that feels like and are afraid this move will feel like that all over again. This …

Education ramblings

I'm still here and things are fine. Sometimes blogging just doesn't rise to the top of the list what with the dog throwing up (more than once) because someone keeps dropping jelly beans which the dog then eats, having to be out of the house so the buyers can come through with their architect, driving to appointments, and just general life.

I have been reading, though. Reading is always at the top of the list and helps keep me sane. I came across a passage that I wanted to share with you in a book I'm currently reading, Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby. It chronicles four different children, each labelled a 'trouble maker' in their classrooms, with the author thinking about the whys that drive each child's behavior. In the passage I'm going to share, the story is about a little boy (6 years old).

"This most basic requirement of school - trading your own desires for the requirements of the teacher - may be …

The day of brisket

This moving business affects areas of life that you wouldn't think of at first. It's because we're moving that I have spent all afternoon dealing with a giant beef brisket. Why? Well, it's because of a little mistake a made a while back. When you buy a side of beef, you then must have a conversation with the butcher as to how the beef will be cut and wrapped. The butcher we used for the last batch asked me a question I had never been asked before, which is my defense as to how I have ended up in this situation. The question was, "Would you like your brisket cut in half?"

Now, we have quite a few mouths to feed, and as I thought about all the briskets I'd received in the past, I thought, no, I don't want one of those cut in half. It wouldn't feed all of us. So, I said to leave it whole. You can imagine my surprise when we picked-up the beef to discover this.

This whole brisket spans nearly the entire length of my six burner stove. It is big. This a…

Happy Easter 2017

I can tell I have other things on my mind. In the great scheme of family holidays, this is probably our most low-key. I didn't even get that many photos. We had a lovely day with lovely weather. Here are some of the very few pictures we took.

Things are all topsy-turvy here, so no breakfast in the dining room, just Easter baskets.

J. and B. (no they didn't coordinate ahead of time)
D. carrying around Nefertiti, of course, a box.
Other parts of the holiday involved dying dozens of eggs with friends, and going to J.'s sister's house for Easter dinner.
This morning, I spent the bulk of the day out at the new house doing the house inspection. For the most part, it is a good solid house. Here is a teaser.

I can't wait to be able to show you more. I more can't wait to see my children playing here.

Friday bullets, Good Friday 2017

We are entering into Easter weekend and for once the holiday feels restful after this past week.

K., my budding engineer has been busy building bridges using blocks and books in his room. I asked him to take some pictures to share so you could see it.

So far it is sturdy enough to withstand Nefertiti investigating it, though I don't think she has actually tried to walk on the bridge. We made it back to the library on Wednesday, much to the joy of the masses. I think we have now checked-out every origami book ever written. Did you know you can get books explaining how to make origami army vehicles? Well you can, because it is currently in my house. I think H., who is the usually origami book checker-outer might have been influenced by K. in that particular choice.I checked out a bunch of books on house decorating. I like nothing more than a brand-new project.It is very confusing having two houses under contract at the same time, especially when there are two different sets of lawyers…

Doing a little bragging

I don't do much bragging about J. here on the blog, though I certainly could. He takes very good care of me and all the children. For instance, even though he has to leave at the crack of dawn, I still get my morning because he found a plug-in mug warmer for my bedside table. He brings me my cup of coffee when he leaves, says good-bye, I mumble something back and try to wake-up. Inevitably I doze for a little longer, but still have a warm cup of coffee waiting for me.

J. would usually be the one who took care of breakfast for us all as well. (I'm not a waking up person. No matter the hour, it takes a good half hour to an hour for my brain to start fully functioning. Once this has happened, I'm fine, regardless of the time. Making breakfast is not my strong suit as a result.) We've been having a lot more eggs, toast, bagels, and such in the mornings because the masses can get those things on their own. J. enjoys baking, though, so he will still make something every so o…

Taped together books

We switched the winter picture books for the spring books yesterday. Aw we were getting them out, there were the usual cries of, "Oh, I love this one!" or "This one is my favorite!" I noticed that many of the most loved books are all held together with packing tape. Some with multiple layers of packing tape. They are well-loved books. I thought it might be interesting or useful for some of you (I know I have grandparents here who appreciate book suggestions for their grandchildren), if I listed some of them. I might be missing some, but here's a good start.

1. The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman - I love this book. It is about a family of seven children, each of whom have extremely exacting diets. The illustrations by Martha Frazee are a key part to the story, as you get to watch the children grow up through the story.

2. A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman - This book has been loved so much that I have actually had to replace it. It has wond…

God's provision

After an exceedingly rotten night, at 10 am this morning the phone rang and it was our realtor. I took a deep breath and practiced briefly reacting to the news that we didn't get the house before answering. I didn't need to do that bit of practicing, though, because the news was good. Exceedingly good.

We got the house!

And not only that, we didn't have to go up at all on our offer. We got it for the list price, which was a very good deal. I had written a brief note to accompany our offer (something I've always done for each of the houses we have bought), and it seems that it was the thing that did the trick. Being a professional writer pays in more ways than one.

Before I tell you about the house which you have helped to pray for, let me give you some back story.

I have always loved horses and have always dreamed of owning horses. For various reasons, this was just never a possibility. J. and I have tried at various points in our marriage to move somewhere more rural,…

I'm going to play show-and-tell today... or join me on the roller coaster

First, the as promised pictures of the newly painted Folly. Not a bad change, huh? Our lesson here is that even if it is not perfect and exactly how I would fix a room, a coat of paint is always better than just living with ugliness.

Look! No horrible painted stripes on the ceiling!
Here's what you don't see in the above photos.

It's not what you would call clean, I know. This is because our wonderful realtor called us a week ago Sunday and said the possible offer was so strong, and they were planning on stating those glorious words, 'as is' in the contract, that we were told to put all work involving time and money on hold. So that's what we did... for an entire week. 
It was a long week. 
In the meantime, I decided that maybe actually looking at other potential homes would be a wise idea. This explains why posting was done at odd times and with only vaguely engaging content. Well, we found a house that we loved and would work perfectly, except that we didn&#…

Eventually a craft project happened.

Well, after yesterday morning's little craft fiasco, most people felt refreshed enough after lunch to give it at try. They worked on bird pictures in the style of James Rizzi, based on the instructions that I found here. Those who chose to participate did a nice job. Here they are.

H. (she did this with no outside help at all)
Aren't they cute? They will look so happy hanging in my kitchen.

Friday bullets, April 7, 2017

The day seemed to start off well enough, but then I had the nerve to plan an actual art project. The horror! I thought my arts and crafts loving children would be thrilled at the prospect of an art project, especially since they have been pretty infrequent around here recently. We are evidently out of practice, or the general anxious tone of the house regarding the move does not allow for much creativity, either way, let's just say it was a train wreck from start to finish and leave it at that.

Let's talk about other things instead.

I don't have news about the move. I wish I had news about the move. It could be in the next couple of days I might have news about the move. But I don't have any news right now. I wish someone would let a cat into my head and have it just kill that particular hamster, because I'm kind of done with his constant wheel running.I don't even get to escape when I'm asleep. I normally sleep exceedingly well. I have yet to have a night w…