20 December 2010

Preparation and Mounting

I couldn’t find the master list that the scientists made before departing when I was taking pictures last night, but it showed up in the laboratory this morning.  Everything was duly checked off as the bags were packed:


After soaking and some additional gentle cleaning, the fossilized bones were laid out to be assembled:


The lead paleontologist did the actual assembly, while his able assistants documented the process and looked things up on the computer:

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Bug did most of the assembly, but Mom-the-muscle had to be called in occasionally to snap together a stubborn joint.  My big clumsy thumbs also cracked the large claw on one foot, but it wasn’t completely broken and didn’t fall off, so I think it will be fine as a museum model if it isn’t touched too much!  The lead paleontologist poses with the finished skeleton:


And, finally, the display is assembled on the museum shelf:


There is a map of Asia, some information about Velociraptors and the finished skeleton.  Museum staff are duly impressed by the new exhibit.

19 December 2010

Expedition to Mongolia

Bug has been completely into dinosaurs and prehistoric life again recently.  For his birthday, the presents were pretty much all dinos, all the time.  One of the gifts from grandma and grandpa was a dinosaur excavation.  He has been excited to do it since he opened it, but we finally found a good time to go on our expedition.  He consulted his handy-dandy paleontologist map and it showed a hot spot for excavation of a Velociraptor in the Gobi.

He and his colleague, Bean, planned things out carefully.  First, they made a checklist of the gear they would need to bring with them.  Water bottles, of course, since it is the desert.  All of their paleontologist tools.  They both geared up in their heavy hiking boots so they wouldn’t get bit by scorpions.  When the dining room table was finally cleared after dinner, they set out for the Gobi.

Once there, the dig begins:


The first bone is exposed:


It turned out to be a hand.  I called it a “front foot,” but was properly chastised by the lead paleontologist.  Velociraptor runs on two legs, therefore, the front limb is a “hand.”

The excavation continues as they are joined by a junior colleague, Beeb:


More bones exposed:


Digging in the desert is dirty work:


And hot, under the relentless sunshine.  The whole crew decided that they had better put on hats to shield themselves from the sun:



The only bad event of the whole expedition was when the junior paleontologist hurt his hand on the rock hammer.  We told him that I was documenting the injury so he could file a claim with OSHA when they returned to the U.S.  Actually it was because the tear trails on the dusty cheeks were so stinkin’ cute.


The bones are being soaked and cleaned overnight.  Tomorrow the paleontologists will return to their labs to finish preparing and mounting the skeleton.  Stay tuned!

12 September 2010

Sheep and Wool Swag

What a busy weekend!  We started in earnest on Friday.  In the morning we hit the farmers market for yet another big ol’ box of scratch and dent tomatoes.  We dropped them at home and then headed east to Jefferson to take in some sheep and wool at the (appropriately named) Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.  Since we went on Friday this year instead of Saturday or Sunday, we missed out on the shearing demo and hall of breeds (which were just starting to set up when we were there), but we did get to see some brand-spankin’-new widdle lambies.  The wee lambikins were only hours old and so cute.  Mr. Beeb insisted that he was a baby baa for the rest of the afternoon.

After bribing the small fries with the promise of a shaved ice if they cooperated, Mama got to look around the market.  Oooo…so many pretties.  Due to budget and time constraints, only two got to come home with me.  I had to get a handpainted sock blank since I want to be Molly Bees when I grow up.  She recently finished knitting these socks from this sock blank (scroll down)

100_2525Obviously, the picture doesn’t stay intact, but I just love these colors!  The blues!  The greens!  The blue-greens!  And that wild splash of pinks and oranges.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  I have a pair of socks on the needles, so I’ll be in a big rush to finish those so I can start these.  I’m about an inch away from done with the first sock, so I hope they go quick.


After a bit of an incident with Gale’s Art last year, I had to stop again this year.  So many pretties that it was hard to choose, but I decided to go with some impossibly soft blue-faced Leicester in natural colors.  I still covet the trindle spindles I saw last year, but I need to get back to spinning more before I can possibly justify more spindles.  I have a feeling that Gale’s Art might become an annual thing…

When we got home from Sheep and Wool, I peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes and now have four and a half gallons of chopped tomatoes ready to be turned into barbecue sauce.  I made one batch and am trying a couple of other recipes to find if we have a favorite.

Yesterday, Mike and I went to downtown Madison to watch our beloved Hawkeyes demolish their cross-state rival Iowa State.  We got to watch on a big screen and we weren’t the only ones screaming at the TV for a change.  The kids had a fabulous afternoon playing with their adopted grandma.

Ms. Bean and I had a quick trip up to Madison this noon to see a doctor.  She has been a bit under the weather the last week or so (snuffley and coughing), but this morning she woke up so congested that she was wheezing.  She got a nebulizer treatment and perked up considerably.  We’ll be doing the nebulizer more at home and following up with our primary care doc this week.  Based on the timing of it, I have strong suspicions that she has the same seasonal allergies and drainage as me.  I have been taking enough antihistamines to keep from getting all congested, but the nice weather that lets us sleep with the windows open might be taking its toll on both of us!

25 July 2010

From the files of “Might Need a Better Hobby”

Beeb has been checking out some new past-times lately.  I can’t say I have been a fan so far.

Exhibit 1:  Flying


He gets up on the chair with a feather in each hand, flaps his arms furiously, hollers “I fwappin, I fwappin,” then jumps off the chair while hollering “I fie-ing.”  It often ends with “ouch.”  Mostly I’m just happy he’s jumping off the recliner and not the roof of the house.

Exhibit 2:  Scissors


Cutting with scissors is another favorite hobby.  While I am certainly proud of his motor skills and attention span, I think I have picked enough miniscule pieces of paper off the floor.

20 July 2010

The Nature Photographer

We walked to the park this morning.  The park we went to has a small prairie and a wood, so I threw my camera in my purse and my tripod in the wagon so I could take pictures of wildflowers while the kids played on the playground.  When we were heading home, Bug wanted to take a closer look at the bat houses.  While we were doing so, Beeb grabbed my tripod out of the wagon and tagged along, stopping every few feet to do his own thing.

18 July 2010

Hair cuts

Everyone got a trim this afternoon.  Usually it’s just the boys, but Miss Bean decided she wanted to go a little shorter.  I only whimpered a little trimming her long curls, but she looks gaw-jus, so I’ll get over it.

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Guess which one wasn’t cooperating.  But with his hands there, you can’t see how crooked his hair is…little wigglepuss wouldn’t sit still

17 July 2010

Peachy Keen

We have plowed through almost 2/3 of the peaches.   We had peaches and cream one night for a bed-time snack.  I made two small peach upside-down cake (that didn’t turn out…my pan wasn’t exactly the right size and the middle didn’t get baked all the way, but it was still tasty!  I made two batches of peach freezer jam (totally seven pints) and put up six quarts of peach slices in light syrup.  We have also eaten an impressive quantity of peaches just plain.  I guess one of the hazards of eating seasonally is gorging until you are dreaming about the produce item and never want to see another one (well, at least not until next year).  Blushing Peach Almond Freezer Conserve is up next tonight if I can pick up some maraschino cherries at the grocery store tonight and perhaps a peach cobbler for dessert.  Then, tomorrow a batch of spiced peaches and I think that will be the end of the peaches.  Any that are left will either be consumed by the locusts that disguise themselves as my children, or, if I can move fast enough, frozen.


14 July 2010

It’s a peach!


This morning, I got two half bushel boxes of Georgia tree-ripened peaches out of a truck in the bowling alley parking lot.  My weekend plans include peach freezer jam, Blushing Peach Almond Freezer Conserve, Peaches in light syrup, and Honey-Spiced Peaches.  The house is going to going to smell so good!  That is, if the kids don’t eat them all before then.  Also, I wouldn’t be TOO upset if the humidity were to drop a teensy bit before then.  Maybe a peach upside-down cake…oooo, or peach cobbler?  Maybe I should have gotten a couple more boxes!

We are tentatively planning to do U-pick blueberries up in the Dells next week, so canning season is gearing up.

08 July 2010

Garden Report

The alternating hot weather and plentiful rains have gotten most everything growing like crazy.


“Knee-high by the fourth of July” is for under-achievers.  The beans are blooming, the punkins are blooming (with one teensey little green punkin already).  The tomatoes are starting to get a couple of blossoms.  Japanese beetles have become the bane of my existence.  I am keeping a jar of soapy water to knock them into and leaving it in the garden as a warning to other beetles (which hasn’t really made a difference, but it makes me feel better).


I think the bugs have all but killed off the watermelons, but the edamame is flourishing.

100_2467Miss Bean’s geranium is still hanging in there.  The other geranium appears to have bit the dust.  The wildflower mix appears to be long on the wild and short on the flower so far.


The flower in the corner has two buds getting close, so I think Miss Bean will forgive me for breaking off the first flower.  The herbs are growing, though the bugs have been in my basil and marjoram.  Also, the chives appear to remain annoyed at the insult of being replanted.

07 July 2010

Invasion of the Pod People

Last spring, I finally lurched into the 21st century and joined the iPod/mp3 world.  I got a iPod Touch and absolutely love it!  While I’m sure I would like an iPhone even better, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of paying the monthly data charge in addition to regular cell service.  I am managing just fine waiting until I can find WiFi.  I love that my iPod can talk to my email and my calendar and my online to-do list and all that other stuff, but I have also discovered podcasts.  Since one or more assorted kidlets instantly need my attention the second I wearing earphones (or trying to talk on the phone…same phenomenon), I have an adapter that hooks my iPod to the boom box in the kitchen and can listen during meal prep or other kitchen projects.  A few of my most favorites at the moment are:

  • Classical Performances Podcast – classical music from WGBH Boston
  • Earth Eats – real food and green living from Indiana NPR affiliate.  Very inspirational while I’m cooking!
  • Naxos Classical Music Spotlight – basically extended commercials for Naxos recordings, but lots of interesting info about performers/composers and excerpts from the recordings
  • NPR Car Talk – love me some Click and Clack!
  • NPR Science Friday (audio and video) – I have always like SciFri when I managed to hear it, but was rarely near a radio or remembered to turn it on at the right time on Friday.  Now I listen at my convenience.  The bad news is that I am adding all sorts of books to my already ridiculously long to-read list.  Oh and Flora Lichtman’s videos are consistently awesome.
  • PRI Living on Earth – new discovery with a nice mix of science, ecology, and sustainable living topics.

I also have an adaptor so I can play my iPod over the car radio and the kids have their own set of podcasts for car time

  • 60-second Science – from Scientific American…quick reports and commentaries on what’s happening in the science world.  They are made for grown-ups, but the kids enjoy finding out about stuff in small doses.  Sometimes we find topics that we can go looking for more age appropriate material at the library to learn more about it.
  • Classics for Kids – a six-minute long weekly podcast built around a different composer each month with all kinds of topics in music and music appreciation.
  • FETCH! Podcast – not very frequent updates, but the kids love watching FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman on PBS, so these were fun while they lasted and there may be more coming.
  • The Story Home – stories for kids
  • Storynory – stories for kids.  We’ve tried several story podcasts, but these two are our favorites…good stories and good readers!
  • Why! The Science Show for Kids – not my favorite of the bunch, but the kids enjoy it.  Fortunately for me, there aren’t very many episodes.

Disclaimer:  No one has paid me for any of these endorsements, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably confess a wee crush on Science Friday’s Ira Flatow.

06 July 2010

Finally finding a kitchen system

Making grocery lists and planning meals have long been a bane of my existence.  I have A LOT of trouble finding the mojo to sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals, especially doing so the evening before I might actually have a chance to get to the grocery store during a part of the day when the kids aren’t completely tired and acting that way.  For a couple of years now I have been compiling a binder of recipes we use and like so I can flip through it for ideas rather than dragging out a bunch of cookbooks.  Also having my own copies makes it easier to make out a grocery list as some cookbooks have some of ingredients tucked into the instructions, which I never discover until I am standing in the kitchen, knee-deep in prep.  I have a standard format for my binder, so I can find ingredients or prep time in the same place for every recipe.  More recently, I have been experimenting with ways of listing out meals so I can remember what I have ingredients for.  I rarely plan out which meal for which day, but I may make a note that a particularly quick meal would be good for say, Wednesday, when we have park day in the later afternoon and I don’t have a lot of time to get supper together.  I also like to have notes to myself with reminders of things that need to be defrosted (e.g., big ol’ pork roast) or that need some attention first thing in the morning (e.g. crockpot).

While this system has been better than panicking nightly when it is time to start supper there were still a couple of big obstacles.  First, I was having trouble making the list of of odds and ends that come up during the week mesh with the list I sit down and prepare before doing groceries.  Second, I wasn’t very consistent with checking the meal plan list to actually notice the reminders for night before or early that morning jobs.  Nothing like discovering that the only meal that you have ingredients for is a crock pot meal and it is just an hour until dinner.  Third, I rarely get everything we need in one place.  Now that we are in summer, I get my pastured meat and eggs from a nearby farm, my veggies from our CSA on Thursday, other veggies from the local Farmers’ Market on Friday, milk from the mystical milk fairy on Thursday.  Occasionally, I need to run up to the Fitchburg Farmers’ Market if I need pastured lamb.  Several time throughout the summer, we go berrying (strawberries in June, blueberries in July, raspberries in August or early September) or pick up canning quantities from either the CSA market or the local Farmers’ Market.  So…complications combined with the attention span of a fruit fly…not pretty!

There have been two recent additions to my method of madness that seem to fill in the missing pieces.  First, a homeschooling mama at park day said something about using dry erase markers directly on the refrigerator.  Genius.  My dinky dry-erase board wasn’t doing the job, but a big space…


I can list out what is in the crisper drawers from the CSA so I don’t have to go digging.  Upcoming meals are easy to see.  I can make lists of other kitchen business.  The notes in red were items stuck in the upstairs freezer without labels when I finished a roll of masking tape and discovered that we didn’t have anymore (Ms. Bean, the artiste, goes through a LOT of tape these days).  Once I got the tape, I got the jars labeled and in the deep freeze.  I have made notes with cookbook pages for recipes.  Plenty of room for everything I need to remember and easy to wipe off when I don’t need it anymore.

The second element is ZipList in conjunction with my iPod touch.  Since I can no longer live without my iPod, it is always close at hand, so I can add a couple of items to my list as I am standing in front of the fridge.  I can add other things when they occur to me.  Plus, ZipList has all sorts of neat tricks.  List items can be assigned to stores (Co-op vs. Pick-n-Save) and aisle order can be set up for each store so the list appears in the order you go through the store.  There are a few minor kinks that I am sorting out and or getting used to…for example, the last time I added ‘hot dog buns’ to the list, the default aisle was pet supplies.  I am also still working on getting the aisles in order for the stores I use.  Plus getting used to how it works and where things are.  But, I think it will be a workable system in the long run.

20 June 2010

Our Garden, now with more Herbage

Our CSA had their end of season clearance of seedling, so I picked up a few more things.  Herbs in a new little bed in front of the house next to the steps:

100_2456 A Cayenne pepper in a Topsy-Turvy on the front porch:


A sweet green pepper in topsy-turvy hanging off the deck:


A sun sugar tomato from the CSA open house a week and a half ago in a topsy-turvy over the back deck:

100_2459 A darker pink geranium to keep the pale pink geranium Miss Bean got at the CSA open house:

100_2458 And finally a gratuitous glamour shot of the back garden:


15 June 2010

It’s Growing!


The frequent rainfall, combined with a few days of scorching temps interspersed here and there has resulted in crazy garden growth.  The corn, beans, and pumpkins/gourds have been going crazy and I am starting to get a little frightened of the oregano (front row, center right).

The tomatoes are still on the small side, but the seedlings didn’t get a great start and then got abused during hardening off, so I’m just grateful as many survived as there are.  I did have to fill in a couple of tomatoes from a friend with some spares, but over half survived a rough beginning!

Miss Bean got a pink geranium and Bug got a sun sugar tomato from our CSA open house last week.  The geranium is thriving next to the lavender in the front and the tomato, christened Hin III, is in the topsy-turvy on the deck.

We get our first CSA box this week and there have been rumors of garlic scapes, so I am very excited.  Also, I think tomorrow morning will be strawberries U-pick.  Yum!!!

14 June 2010

Passing the buck

Beeb came up to snuggle with me while Bug and I were reading books this afternoon.  As we read, I smelled something a bit, shall we say, untoward.  I asked, “Who’s stinky?” and then turned to Beeb and asked, “Are you the stinky one?”  He replied, will all earnestness, “No, Daddy peh-oopin’ in work.”  Well, I’m glad that’s settled and I don’t have a diaper to deal with.

01 June 2010

Out of the mouths of Beebs

Today I was putting on a sock with a huge hole on the heel.  Mr. Beeb’s assessment:  “Yo leg lookin’ outside.  It (pointing to the sock) bwoke.”

27 May 2010

Sproing! Sproing! Sproing!

Man, if you listen closely you can actually hear the garden growing.  In less than 24 hours we’ve had sisters sproinging up like crazy.  About a quarter of the three sister hills have all three growing.  I didn’t even have any fish heads to give ‘em, although the seem pretty happy with Olbrich mulch.  Here’s two of them:

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Also in the last 24 hours, the basil has sprouted a second pair of leaves and little rosemary sprouts are appearing.

26 May 2010

The ONLY good thing about the hot weather…

…is that it make green things grow.  After a largely coolish pleasant spring, we have been beset with three days of 80’s and 90’s and plenty o’ humidity.  Not my favorite weather.  But look what it does to the plants:

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That was only six days ago!  And wee little things are sprouting all over:

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And crazy little herbies (cumin on the left and on the right is basil with its volunteer lettuce friend…I figure we might get a bitsy salad before the basil needs the space):

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And crazy little kidlets:

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And finally, since I had to be outside to limit the amount of chaos and mayhem generated by the Beeb, I finished some planting:

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I wasn’t real clear on which were the roots and which were the shoots on the Lily of the Valley, but I figure they’ll be smarter than I am and figure out which way to grow in spite of my efforts to confuse them.  The rhubarb isn’t looking too pleased about the change, but I am optimistic that will perk up once it gets a chance to acclimate.

Gotta run for now…I have a pan of gyro meat ready to come out of the oven…made with New Glarus ground lamb from Patty Reedy.  The tzatziki sauce, made with homemade yogurt is waiting in the fridge.  Jealous yet?

21 May 2010

From the files of “A village no longer in search of an idiot”

First a little animal husbandry.  I’m sorry if this insults your intelligence as I know for a fact that my five- and seven-year-old already know this, but clearly not everybody knows this.  This is the bovine food pyramid (borrowed shamelessly from the Raw Milk Facebook group):
bovine food pyramid As you can see, the typical bovine diet is very complicated.  Lots of stuff to measure and provide in proper proportions, etc.  Thank goodness for dairy science.  Okay, enough sarcasm. 
Prior to Doyle’s veto, this impassioned plea for a veto appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  It’s the fifth one down with the heading “RAW MILK.”  While I have plenty of compassion if anyone’s child is sick, I have a lot of trouble with her misleading letter.  Given the cow nutrition lesson above, do you want to know what this self-proclaimed expert on farming and nutrition feeds the cows on her family’s dairy farm?  Do you?  Are you sure?  Okay, you can look here at her blog*, but don’t say I didn’t give you a second chance to back away from the crazy.
How can you compare healthy milk from healthy cows that are fed a diet that is perfectly adapted to how cows have evolved to the so-called milk that comes from cows that eat inappropriate foods that make them so sick to the point that antibiotics are par for the course.  I would say it is like comparing apples and oranges, but I think a better analogy would be “comparing apples to sewage sludge.” 
Sorry for turning into rant central…I have some happier post drafts in the queue and will get to them sooner rather than later, but at the moment I have a whole bunch of ticked off to work through…

*ETA:  If you read Laurie Kyle's blog entry be sure to scroll down to see her response dated 5/30.  Apparently, she needs a copy of the bovine food triangle.  Preferably wrapped around a stick and applied firmly about her head, neck, and shoulders.