Monkeyrotica, the kids, and I met up with our friend Lisa on Saturday at the National Building Museum. I promised I wouldn't take any pics from our visit—although she had an lovely new 'do, the humid day wrecked her hair and she couldn't transport any product on her flight from Detriot (shaking fist at airline restrictions!). We've known Lisa since 1998; when Monkey and I moved into our first house as newlyweds and first-time homebuyers, Lisa lived just across 13th Street. We miss having a neighbor like her dearly! I can say with no reservations that she was our absolute favorite neighbor from the five years we lived on that block. Lisa had regular house parties and loves to cook (and experiment with cooking) as much as Mr. Monkey—we would visit just to try out foods she was testing! Also, Lisa and I would have drop-in craft nights. She can knit like nobody else I know and we'd hang out, working on our projects (I was embroidering or making jewelry). We'd also just call and walk the few blocks to the nightclub district, go to a bar for drinks or club to dance or see a show. We know nobody in our current hood who'd be up for any of that. It was so great to live near someone with similar interests; it was a bit of a shocker for me to find out that it was so special—we lost that experience entirely when we relocated to the burbs. In 2003, Lisa married Joe and in two short years, they had two kids: Lucy & Jack (Jack and Dash are one month apart in age), and moved to Alabama, then Detroit in 2007.
I think this was the first time we saw Lisa in person since 2005! We've kept in touch via email, photos, Facebook, and occasional phone calls, so it was only the kids who felt like they were visiting with a stranger. It was a too-short visit. We were going to meet at the kite festival, but with the rain, no kites! The building museum seemed like a good alternate destination, but not necessarily for catching up—it was packed with tourists, performers and cherry blossom family activities. Rosie adored watching ballet dancers, Dash took in the sights, and we moved on to a quieter spot, the Channel Inn bar (or whatever the restaurant's called these days). We learned about what Joe (good luck with your book!), Lucy (budding ballerina), and Jack (active little guy) are up to these days, and Lisa got a big dose of Rosie and Dash.
Lisa, I miss you and your family! I hope we can see you in Detroit without another four years in between visits!
Okay, so we've been playing Buckaroo Banzai for the kids. And they love it. This was one of Monkeyrotica's favorite movies from the 80s and honestly, the first time I ever saw it was last year. I was talking it up to somebody yesterday, because, I am just amazed and compelled by its awfulness. I can't stop asking, how did anyone green light this? why did all these great actors sign on? when their special effects budget ran out, why did using bubble wrap, duct tape and snorkels seem like a good idea? The plot is so convoluted, I had to go to IMDB.com to give you a good synopsis: "Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, take on evil alien invaders from the 8th dimension." If that's not enough for you, go read the rest.
For those of you who haven't seen the film, you'll be astounded by the calibre of actors who were part of the ensemble cast:
Peter Weller (Nominated for an Oscar/of RoboCop and Naked Lunch) John Lithgow (Nominated for 2 Oscars/of 3rd Rock from the Sun) Ellen Barkin (Nominated for 2 Golden Globes/of Ocean's Thirteen and Drop Dead Gorgeous) Jeff Goldblum (Nominated for an Oscar/of Jurassic Park and The Fly) Christopher Lloyd (Won 3 Primetime Emmys/of Back to the Future and Addams Family) Vincent Schiavelli (Vanity Fair's "best character actor in America" with over 120 film and tv appearances was notably in Batman Returns and Ghost) Carl Lumbly (of Alias and Battlestar Galactica) Clancy Brown (Voice of Mr. Eugene Krabs on all the SpongeBob cartoons!)
Just for kitsch value alone, a good laugh, and to see a moment in time where all these actors paused, go and rent The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension. Let me know what you think! To all fans of SciFi and of this film, I ask, what happened to the sequel?
Monday at work around 2 p.m. or so, it hit me. I was exhausted, my muscles ached, and I just wanted to climb into a bath of epsom salts. Being in an office with fluorescent lights, staring at a computer and attempting to put coherent thoughts together? Not going well. The past two days were full-body work, almost non-stop gardening, in two separate plots.
At the Os, Saturday: "Let's tear this up!" Kelly had been doing research and knew she wanted a raised bed for her garden. She bought all the components to frame and fill a plot of her yard—lumber, hinges, topsoil, sphagnum moss, sand, and manure—it was now a matter of cutting up her sod and putting it all together. See that huge pile of HEAVY bags with sand, soil, etc. in them? Kelly moved all of them solo, from her car in a wagon with flat tires—superhero! Monkeyrotica went out to buy pizza and beer, Todd (thanks for the photos!) watched the kids inside and Kelly left for H0me Dep0t to get the rest of the supplies. For about an hour, it was me, a 3" long tool called a "trencher-cultivator," and a 8 foot by 4 foot area I had to hack the $h!t out of. It helped a bit that I had stress to work off from a Friday meeting that was rather hellish and Twilight-Zone-like in its absurdity. After the sod was sent off to the netherworld, we tilled.
Kelly and Monkeyrotica returned, Don arrived with his son Daniel, we all had some pizza and then set on building the bed. Everyone came out to see what was going on, and even the kids started helping! Rosie (wearing Thea's poodle Halloween costume) shoveled, Thea used the small cultivator (called the "claw!"), Liam swept, and Danny scooped soil. Don built the frame for the bed and we started dumping soil and other components inside. It looked wonderful! (Will add a final photo of raised bed soon.) It was well past 8 p.m. when the Strings got on the road; it was hard to drag myself away, with work still needing doing. We left the remaining bags out to be added later—but the next morning, Kelly's dogs had their way with the manure bags. Why, oh why are dogs so into poo?
Sunday, at the Strings: "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours!" I wasn't all that sure what I wanted to start with in my yard. Two projects loomed: clearing my 6 foot by 14 foot bed of rocks, weed-guard, and roots; and transplanting seedlings—both formidable. When Kelly arrived, we decided to use our newly gained knowledge of tilling soil, and cleared my garden area. I bought hinges for the frames for my plan: three raised beds each 4 feet by six feet, with one-foot gaps in between, and investigated the scrap lumber in the shed rafters for material. Dubious about whether the wood was pressure treated (Rowrh?) we scratched our heads for a few minutes and moved on to moving loose gravel. With shovels and rakes. As before, much manual labor was involved. We paused to feast—Monkeyrotica smoked us some delicious rib racks and chicken wings.
Then, we moved on to a more serene and Zen task: transplanting seedlings. Kelly was in charge of carefully thinning and potting the seedlings, and I barely kept up with her while folding one origami pot after another out of newspaper. We might have potted sunflowers, maybe jalapenos? I wasn't all that thorough on keeping the labels accurate in my greenhouse.
As you can see, there is still much to transplant, and much work to do yet in the bed! For the next few weekends, I think I have plans. Anyone want to come and help out?
No, we aren't doing any major renovating at the momen, but I need to reflect on how the most minor change in our home is making it feel more "mine."
We've been in our house since 2003, and we were able to move right in, no alterations necessary. The wall colors weren't offensive (if not necessarily our choices), the flooring and carpeting were fairly new, the kitchen had nice cabinets and counters, so we pretty much let things be. We were actually very grateful to find a place that didn't need a lot of money and work sunk into it! That said, although the house has our stuff in it and we've been living there for close to six years, there are lots of things about it that just don't seem ours.
Back to the minor change: two weeks ago, Rosie had some horrific bug bites on her stomach, then her back and legs. I found a couple of carpet beetle wooly bears in her shabby, stained, lumpy shag and was done !DONE! with the carpet. That Saturday after moving all Rosie's stuff out of the room, I grabbed a box cutter, a prybar, and some plyers and ripped all the carpet out. Whew! It took all day, but after a little cleanup with some Murphy's Oil Soap? that wood floor underneath looked marvelous! Bulk trash got all the carpet waste and there's no evidence of the demolition now.
Ever since then, when I walk into her room and step on that wood flooring I feel like I'm at home—it feels right, and has "mine" stamped on it in my core. I'm beginning to understand a little more about why people enjoy renovating their homes. I made a change, a small one, but things are different and feel better because of my change. It's a really, really good feeling.
So, no bug outbreaks since then! And we still have two rooms with carpet in them...
Mama Told Me (Not To Come) by Three Dog Night was #1 on Billboard's charts for two weeks running. Since I was born early, this is strangely apropos. Heh.
Okay, now I must do everyone else:
On Monkeyrotica's birth-date, the #1 song was: To Sir With Love by Lulu
On Rosie's: Lose Yourself by Eminem
On Dash's: We Belong Together by Mariah Carey
Hm, I'm not even sure what any of their birth-date songs sound like. I can practically sing along with "Mama Told Me" though. Monkey, do you know "To Sir With Love"? Will my kids ever hear their birthday songs played on the radio when they are adults?
Wasn’t the weather fantastic this weekend? My yard called to me, begging to be cleared, to be made beautiful and fruitful this year. Last weekend, I met with Kelly and Brent to talk about preparing what is now a lawn for a metamorphosis into a vegetable garden. Brent is a master gardener and both Kelly and I are novices. I’m hoping to get regular updates from Brent & Kelly and we can enjoy our Victory Gardens together! This year I have some serious goals for the garden: (1) to grow vegetables (and flowers, for Rosie) from seed, (2) to prepare of an area in my yard that’s 6’x14’ for planting, (3) to stay on top of the weeds and watering. We're on our way with #1 already, touched on #2 & #3.
Earlier in the week, Monkeyrotica and I agreed to set aside Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to Noon for family gardening time. I put Monkey in charge of the compost pile and the kids are going to help with planting, watering and weeding (Dash wants to Kill Some Weeds!). Fully aware that the kids will lose interest in all that within 5 minutes, I am putting myself in charge of planting, watering and weeding.
So what went on at the Strings' this weekend? Well, we: • planted our seeds in mini-greenhouses
• cleared the weeds in the garden bed (I enlisted some area boys to move the rocks, coming soon) • weeded and mulched the raspberry beds • generally cleared out a lot of dead and overgrown stuff • raked some of the ignored leaves from last Fall
After some shopping at the local hardware store for some materials (mini-greenhouses, sprinkler, hose, wheelbarrow), we pretty much were in the yard all Saturday and Sunday. Rosie and I took a couple of bike rides around the neighborhood for breaks in the lovely weather, and there was a visit from Auntie M. on Sunday morning (Auntie M helped with bagging leaves, brought back some childhood leaf-bagging memories). The end result is what you see in the photo of my curb (at top, lots of bags and brush). I’m so excited about this! I want to get back in the garden right away.
If we ask him, "where'd you get that idea?" or "who told you that you could do that?" his answer is either "my clever brain" or "my evil brain." Sometimes he'll tell us it's his "Evil Robot Fododi brain."
He was talking to me about his "Robot Fododi" brain during dropoff at daycare. I forget exactly what he was saying, something about his brain telling him good things and he was happy that Robot Fododi was not evil today.
Right when his teacher walked up, he told her, "I hope Mr. Deckard doesn't kill me, because I'm not an evil robot!"