Sunday, July 29, 2007


Donald went shopping at Woodman's and brought home the most fantastic melon! I think it was a honeydew. It was so, so sweet. Ulysses kept calling it a "pumpkin."

2007_07 Melon

Click for more pix and a little movie. Don and U and I devoured the melon outdoors, as a messy, juicy melon should be. Sweet, wonderful. Pet peeve: slicing and serving underripe melon. Melons on salad bars. Tasteless, tough. If they're sturdy enough to hold up to being on a salad bar, they're not good to eat. So just forget about putting them on a salad bar, already!

Monday, July 23, 2007

File under "How does he KNOW that?"

Watching Blue's Clues this morning with U before work, while Donald made us all a delicious and sustaining breakfast, as usual.

In this ep, the Blue's house is becoming a restaurant for a day: Cafe Blue. (I would have liked "Chez Blue" -- tres groovy!) Blue and Joe (the show's human host) go into the kitchen, where two of the regular animated characters are cooking up a storm. (Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, for those in the know.) They're wearing puffy white hats, so we know they're being chefs in this episode.

Or at least, so that those of us who know what puffy white hats signify know it.

Ulysses pointed at the screen and called out, "Chefs!"

He turned to me with an excited smile, egging me on to get excited, too. "Chefs! Chefs!"

Of course, I did the Mama thing. "That's right! They're chefs! Oh, boy, wow!" Meantime thinking, "How does he even know that?"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nature hike, just the two of us

High summer in Wisconsin, and the weather is perfect for being outdoors: sunny, not too hot, mild breezes. I was dying to pick up and find some woods to hike through.

Donald, meantime, wanted nothing other than to relax alone with his final volume of the Harry Potter series, which had arrived in its special muggle-proof cardboard box from in yesterday's mail. The publishing event of the decade, at least.

So Ulysses and I got our hats and water bottles and headed off on our own. We've gone to playgrounds and parties and people's houses, just the two of us, concerts and street fairs, shopping and the library. But this had a heady, first-time air of adventure. Where were we going? Anywhere! How long would we be? As long as we felt like! We'd be deep in the woods, far from our car, following a dirt trail, far from people and things, together.

I decided to go to Cherokee Marsh, just a couple of miles north of our house. A 4000-acre park at the head of the four-lakes system that Madison is built around, it's the largest wetlands in Dane County. The three of us had walked its lovely miles of hiking trails earlier this year, in spring when the May apples hadn't quite blossomed. Ulysses loved it there. It was close, it was free, I knew it was a place we both liked, so we went.

The woods and fields were dense with greenery and a pulsing sense of life. Near the turnoff to the wooden observation tower that overlooked the swamp, a woodpecker rummaged the limbs, drilling for a catch. Ulysses and I crouched on the wooden boardwalk, watching. Coincidentally, it was just the spot where, in spring, the three of us had watched two minks chasing one another across the path and among the trees. It was the first time any of us had ever laid eyes on these secretive creatures -- even though I had tried to mightily a few years ago, when I was working on a piece about them for a local paper.

We climbed the observation tower, and walked back and forth along the short length of the boardwalk (most had been torn out a few years ago, to the outrage of the community). Ulysses called it a "railway" and we made chugga-chugga-choo-choo! noises as we went. Then we climbed the tower again. I think it was a railway trestle, in the choo-choo scheme of things, because chugga-chugga sounds were required to ascend.

Back on the dirt path, we turned onto the narrow, winding, steep trail that Ulysses had liked so much the last time we came. Here and there, wooden beams were set into the dirt, crossing the trail, stair supports to keep the packed earth in place. At the sight of each, Ulysses called out, "Railway!" We balanced on each beam, while Ulysses called, "Careful! Careful!" and then would sway in mock unbalance: "Whoa-oh-oh!" Finally, he'd let his feet slip off the beam, landing on the dirt on the other side, with the announcment, "Bonk."

We saw big rocks along the trail, jutting a foot or so above the earth. "Rock!" Ulysses stood on them and let me swing him off. We saw raspberries ripened on the canes and ate a few. We saw bushes whose flowers left behind sprays of flat, truncated green ovals no bigger than Ulysses's fingernails, that clung stickily to clothes. I picked off a few of these and applied them to our shirts. I wanted to wear them as decoration, like an alligator on my shirt pocket, but Ulysses liked to peel them off wherever he saw them on me. "Sticky!"

Ulysses repeated all the names I called things, so I started repeating every time I'd see another flower. Wood sunflower. Black-eyed Susan. Yellow coneflower. Nightshade (not in bloom).Bergamot. Ood sunfluer! Ah-eye-oo-n! Eh-yee own-fluer! Eye-say! Er-moh! We stopped and looked at this flower and that. Some had great, slow bumblebees collecting pollen. I saw a tiny bee or bee-like insect I'd never seen before, yellow and black stripes, smaller than a grain of rice.

I made a game of the dark pinprick center of Queen Anne's lace, the rough, black-crimson spot that folklore says is the blood spot from Queen Anne's finger -- from when she was making the lace. I'd touch it and then jerk my finger away: "Ouch!"

Two hours had gone by when we got back to the car and the trailhead. I carried Ulysses the last bit, through the open fields and the last stretch of wood. He called out to the butterflies and bees and airplanes we passed along the way.

Some exclusions apply

Don's mother was in town for about a week earlier this month. She took Ulysses to Sears to get portraits made. After paying for the pictures, we got a valuable coupon for future purchases at Sears! Some exclusions apply, but the text of the coupon is priceless. Here it is. The coupon is written in all caps, but I'll spare you that much. When you get to the end, compare the "Valid from" dates with the issue date at the top. I can't wait to take advantage of this amazing offer!

Some exclusions apply. See below.
Issue date: 06/11/07
May not be used with any other coupon.

Savings off regular and sale prices apply to merchandise only. Not valid on clearance and closeout merchandise, special purchases, great price items, Land's End merchandise, Levi's jeans,, Sears auctions on eBay, outlet store purchases, parts and repair centers, catalog orders, fragrances, Kenmore Pro, Stearns and Foster matresses, introductory offers, Celestial Star diamonds, electronics, DVD movies, video games, video game systems, CDs, Weber, propane tanks and exchanges, water heaters, automotive services, pharmacy, beer and wine, Sears license businesses including Two Hearts Maternity, installed home improvements and repair services, gift cards, money orders, wire transfers, and protection agreements.

Other exclusions may apply... Valid 06/09/07 to 06/23/07.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Olbrich Park

I took along a camera to an impromptu after-work excursion with our friend Jennifer. Olbrich Park is across the street. Her brother, Paul, showed up with his little daughter, who is just turning three. Jennifer's sisters came to town for the occasion. Click the picture for images and short movies. (Look for a tiny, faint TV-screen icon in the bottom left of the pictures to see which ones are movies.) Action!

2007_0729 - Olbrich Park with Jennifer

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Daisy Age 2007

Continuing a tradition -- we also have pix of me and U by the daisies in 2004 and 2006.