Sunday, March 09, 2008

In Like a Lion...

Heeeeeeeere's March! It came blustering in all roaring and wild, full of wind, rain, and even snow. Winter has been whipping up howling winds for the past few days, knocking down trees and power lines in his attempt to make a dramatic exit. And now he's settled down into a cold sulk again. He knows his days are numbered. He knows his Winter winds have already blown away, deserting him. For the wind has changed. Spring's winds have already moved in, making preparations for her arrival. Beneath all the bluster, the coming warmth can be felt. I noticed it a few weeks ago in the huge gulps of air I tasted at my opened bedroom window. That moist, almost musky, smell is unmistakable. It smells of damp earth, golden sunshine and new life. I can't keep myself from opening all the windows prematurely (the house has been freezing because of me) and pausing to breathe it all in. I could get high on it.

Birds have returned, swooping madly around the house and yard, frantically seeking nest-building materials or perching high in the trees chattering with each other about how they spent their winter down South. There is a pair of Starlings who return to a corner of our porch each year about this time to try and build a new nest. They appeared 7 or 8 years ago and after two years of putting up with the noise and the disgusting mess they caused, The Viking decided they must be evicted and patched up the hole in the eave they had invaded. They came back the following Spring and forced their way in anyway. Another year of bird poop all over the porch railings and mailbox. That Fall, The Viking removed the siding from under the eave. They came again and merely moved to the rain spout next to the eave. Our poor mailman. Finally, The Viking found a way to seal any crevices suitable for nesting and that did the trick. They moved their nest elsewhere, but not before spending several weeks fluttering around the old nesting site, trying desperately to find a way in. They've done that the last 4 years, fluttering around the rain spout for at least two weeks before moving on to another place. They're at it again; I catch glimpses of black wings streaking across the dining room windows out of the corner of my eye while I'm sitting at the computer. Determined little bird-brains. I wonder if they'll ever stop trying to gain access to their old home?

The House Wrens are a different story. I hope they find their way back to the teapot basket high on the shelf on the porch. They weren't messy at all and provided us with hours of entertainment last summer. Yes, we discriminate here at our Wit's End: Starlings--no, but House Wrens--sure!

Trees and shrubs are budding and flowers are cropping up. There's a house we pass every day on the way to and from school that always has droves of daffodils flanking its picket fence in early Spring. They've just started sprouting up. I love daffodils. They look like sleepy little girls in sunbonnets to me. We used to have them in the yard before we had to dig up the flower bed to solve our leaky-basement problem. It was sad, but even daffodils are small consolation when everything in the basement is moldy.

Since I no longer have daffodils to call my own (I know, I know, what's stopping me from going out and buying a bushel of bulbs?) I pick them up at the store to put in jugs on the table. One of our first Valentine's Days together The Viking presented me with an enormous armful of daffodils and Japanese irises that looked like they'd come fresh from the field. Of all the flowers he's ever given me, those were my favorite and he usually brings home a bouquet of them some time in the Spring. But last week, I was literally stopped in my tracks at the grocery store by the scent of a tub of daffodils in the florist section. I decided I couldn't wait for The Viking's bouquet and bought a bunch and mingled them with some filler flowers the names of which I've forgotten.

I loved catching a whiff of their scent when I walked past the table. I only wish they lasted longer, I love them so much!

But of all the delights of Spring, the one I love best is the song of the tree frogs in the woods around the house. They peep in the trees day in and day out, stopping only when something disturbs them like a stiff breeze, a closely passing car, a cautious deer. We throw our windows open before crawling into bed and sigh deeply as we're lulled to sleep by the tree frogs' lullaby. That sound is one of my favorite things in the world. It makes me feel peaceful, meditative, serene.

Of course, the sight of them does not have the same effect! But as they are content to stay across the road in the trees along the stream, I am content to lie in my bed at night at a safe distance and pretend I don't know what they look like.

Ah, Spring. I'm ready for you now. Even if I do have to pack away all our flannel bedclothes.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

So, how've ya been?

Get comfy cause we're gonna be a while while we catch up. Gracious, so much has happened! So much that I've forgotten half of it already before I've had the chance to blog! Gee, that sounds silly. But it's true.

First things first, I suppose. We spent last weekend visiting The Viking's brother and his family in the Poconos. They are the only kindred spirits we have in The Viking's family, which sounds kind of sad, but it was such a relief to find a healthy branch of an otherwise diseased family tree. They are delightful, sincere, and very, very dear to us. They're considering a move which will make it much harder for us to visit with them in the future, which will stink, but it does seem to be a good change for them so I'm happy for them.

My BIL (who somehow bears an eerie resemblance to The Viking without being very Vikingesque himself) has access to a camp in the woods near his home so he and The Viking took Man-Cub over there to spend the day tubing and climbing rock walls and basically acting like the wonderfully testosterone-fueled males they are. Six inches of snow accommodatingly fell while we were there so the tubing was super. According to eye-witness reports, The Viking and Man-Cub hurtled fast enough down that hill to cause fearful dread of them being dashed to bits against trees and such. According to the hurtlers themselves, it was nothing short of "awesome" (Man-Cub's favorite word lately).
Prepped and ready.

Photographic proof of him climbing the walls.

The day after we returned from the Poconos was Man-Cub's 7th birthday. It's hard to believe my baby (shhh, don't tell him I called him that--he hates it) is seven. I remember lying in my hospital bed, trying very hard to convince myself that the time would soon come when I'd have a seven-year-old boy running around getting into everything and the misery of a high-risk pregnancy and bed rest would be a distant memory. It didn't comfort me then, and it certainly doesn't now, though I'd much rather face the bittersweet reality of having a rapidly growing boy than that the uncertain one of wondering if the infant in my womb was going to survive. But enough profundity for now.

We took the children to Dave and Buster's in Philly for a birthday celebration. I had never been there. I was expecting it to be more than just a glorified Chuck E. Cheese. I was disappointed. I hate places like that and had to keep reminding myself, while trying frantically to keep both children within my line of vision (I have a deep and abiding fear of someone easily snatching them in places like that), that we were there for Man-Cub's enjoyment, not mine. He was so overwrought from being worn-out and over-stimulated by the time we left that he was in tears. It was hard to tell if that meant the evening was a success or not. Daria came along, too (visiting from Chicago) and we had fun making fun of people's clothes, particularly the young woman who looked like a Hooker From Mars. Great fun, that.

The next night, we the Grandparents and EGOD come over and had the proper cake, candles, and ice cream thing. The decorations were a bit of a mish-mash as Man-Cub decided he wanted Transformer paper products and a race track cake. Then Daria insisted on Pirates of the Caribbean balloons and my mom wrapped all his presents in Harry Potter wrapping paper. It was like a marketing executives dream!

Look at that sinister-looking shadow surrounding his head. Kind of like an evil halo.

Balloons! Delivered to the door by the florist! The Viking's parents do that every year and he just loves it.

I mentioned the race track cake already. Did I mention I made it? With help from Daria because I can hardly draw a straight line with a pencil let alone with a tube of sticky icing? I'm not the best cake-maker, but I can manage enough to satisfy a smallish child. I found the recipe and instructions online somewhere and threw the thing together in an afternoon. Wanna see?

It really bugged me that this looks like a giant "8" and it was his 7th birthday, but, thankfully, no one was confused. I set it in front of him sideways, like an infinity sign, so it looked more like a race track than an "8". Daria made the banner and checkered flags and The Viking practically wrestled the pastry bag away from me so he could "paint" the white lines on the Oreo cookie pavement (apparently the icing doesn't lay well on the crushed cookies and that's why the lines are so crooked), but otherwise I did it myself. I had some problems with getting the icing green enough (which is why some mint-green is peeking through the dark) until Daria, the artist, took over the mixing of the colors for me, and it was a bit un-level, but it was yummy! There's still some sitting in the fridge, maybe I'll go sneak a piece...

What I really need to do is get some of those pesky chores done. Beds are unmade, clothes are unwashed and my menu for next week is still blank. I'd best go accomplish things besides improving my Spider Solitaire score before the kids come home!