Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sometimes? Often?

Around here

I have no idea what's going on. 


But it makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dry Heat

It's very hot in Colorado. The thermostat reaches up into the 100s daily. And Denver is practically surrounded by forest fires. Relatives in Germany see the forest fires on the German news and ask if we are okay. Not really, I want to say. But my discomfort seems irrelevant to burning forests and homes, so I keep my mouth shut.

But my typing fingers have a mind of their own: I feel parched by this heat; I feel angered by the hot, drying wind. I want cool air. I want it IN our house, at a minimum. There's no AC. Maybe my frustration is the result of growing up in a place where the humidity spends the summer at 75% instead of 4%? Surely, it is easier to tolerate these high temperatures when the humidity is low (like in Colorado). That's what they say. Dry heat. It's easier.

"Yes, it's 100 degrees, but I'm not sweating!"
"I rode my bike and the air movement was like a hair dryer!"

There is very little shade in our newly built neighborhood of wooden houses. I dislike this quality immensely. The difference between in-the-shade and and in-the-sun can be the difference of 10 degrees in Colorado. It was one of the last barriers to buying a home: I wanted a shady neighborhood, Fritz wanted sun and light. I liked big, mature trees. Fritz liked the clumps of blowing prairie grasses.

I hadn't realized how far apart our ideal level of comfort was when it came to temperature. I am still learning, even on our eighth anniversary.

I find Fritz's love of the sun almost inconceivable. I'm in denial. I make excuses for him: He only likes the sun because he spends all day in an artificially lit office. He only likes the heat because he spends all day in the air conditioning. If he really understood how freaking hot it is in our house, and on the deck, and in the yard, and in the afternoon, he would insist on fixing the lack of NON-passive cooling options. I debate using my trump card and breaking down and installing air conditioning. Or, what I would really love, installing a whole house evaporative cooler. Evaporative coolers, you know, actually work in dry heat. They make it cool. They're cheap to operate. And they make the air moist as well as cool. Oh, how I miss the moisture sometimes. Water! Is that an anniversary gift? Of course, I could force the issue. But you learn, in marriage, pick your battles. Is this it? Or can you convince your husband that your battle IS ACTUALLY his battle? I remember these lines from Shel Silverstein's poem about doing the dishes in A Light in the Attic:

If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won't let you
Dry the dishes anymore.

Of course, nobody needs to dry dishes in Colorado, because they dry themselves. But the bigger idea:

Should I intentionally make the house hotter? Maybe just our bedroom? Would that convince Fritz?

Let's back up. Try other options. Focus, Ann, focus. I make lists to feel more in control.

Passive / Energy efficient cooling:

  • Ceiling Fans. Check.
  • Whole house fan that both vents hot attic and draws in cooler evening breezes. Check.
  • Solar shades on the windows. Check.
  • Use solid, dense surfaces as 'heat sinks' – a better phrase would be 'temperature sinks' – to radiate cooler temperatures during the hottest hours. Check.
  • Portable evaporative cooler, a fraction of the cost of a whole house version. Check.

Behavioral Modification:

  • Sprinkler/water the grass while running the whole house fan in the evening to take advantage of evaporative cooling. Check.
  • I set ice on the soapstone counters to make a 'temperature sink' in the kitchen. Check.
  • Descend to the basement during the worst hours. Check.
  • Go to the pool during the worst hours. Check.
  • Or there's always the car, the stores, the movies... Check.
  • Be sure to run the whole house fan during the coolest hours, 4am - 6am. (I wake up to do this.) Check.
  • Use evaporative cooler to help cool off the west bedroom at bedtime. Check.
  • Refill portable evaporative cooler at 1am, because it is still hot. Check.

Mental Gymnastics:

  • Have you heard the arguments that we have become heat wimps? I take those arguments seriously. Be a trooper! I tell myself.
  • Europeans say that AC is bad for your health. Yes! It would give us all nasty summer colds! I tell myself.
  • The heat only last for a few weeks each summer. But it costs thousands of dollars to combat with AC! I tell myself. This IS true. It's not mind games!
  • The heat coincides poorly with my cycle. It's only PMS! I'd feel much better if the heat wave was happening 2 weeks from now, I tell myself.
  • The heat inspires me to hit 'publish' on this blog. Look at how much I've posted in the last 5 days!

At 3 pm today, clouds begin to hang over the mountains on the western horizon. Good, I think. Perhaps they will bring rain. At least they will bring cloud cover. 

By 5pm, we can see striking lightning. We can see the smoke rising off the Flatirons south of Boulder. It is another fire. It is frightening. Parents of colleagues must evacuate their home. 

By 7pm, we can smell the smoke.

Homes. I also liked the cool, hard bricks of the older neighborhoods. Once upon a time, Denver allowed only brick exteriors on the first level of the houses. Fritz shivered at the brick. "It looks so cold," he said. We rented one of these brick houses. They do not conserve energy. At all. In the winter, the double brick wall means that the temperature of the wall itself is barely above freezing inside the house. The wall radiates coldness. An unintentional 'temperature sink.' But using the brick – it was a building code – meant to protect against fires. 

For the first time, I look at the eco-sensitive prairie grass yards in our neighborhood a little differently. I ask myself how easily they would burn. I imagine myself standing in the nearest stream with the boys and gasping for air like Laura Ingalls while a prairie fire burns around us. How quickly would our tightly packed wooden New Urbanist neighborhood burn? Would our house go up first, sans AC? Like a hot powder keg waiting to explode? How would I know the prairie grasses were burning with the smell of smoke already in the air?

I shiver thinking about the wooden structure, the 4% humidity, and the rain-less lightning flashes.

Best to go with an evaporative cooler, I decide. At least the house will be more moist and less like a powder keg. 

No, no. We can tough it out. Laura Ingalls survived; we will too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Really Different Salad

A few months ago, my brother asked me if I had an unusual green salad recipe. I think his exact words were: "something really different." I immediately thought of a salad that my friend, Kathy, made while we were still in Munich. The original version comes from Jamie Oliver; I've attempted to recreate it through internet searches and my memory.

The funny thing is, I don't love most of the ingredients in this salad, but somehow they come together to make one of the most delicious salads I've ever tasted.

(Lately, this salad has inspired a whole line of crazy herb salads by Noah. He was completely overwhelmed by the idea of grabbing plants out of the garden and tossing them in a bowl to make a salad. Basil Blueberry Sweet Pea Salad, anyone?)

Also, if you dare to plant mint and cilantro in your garden, then this is the recipe you need:


I don't know the original name, so I'll make one up:

Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

Toss in bowl:
3 cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups fresh mint leaves
5 oz arugula (I buy the pre-washed box. Because I'm too lazy to grow arugula.)
6-8 small red radishes, thinly sliced

Dressing, combine, mix and correct as needed:
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 anaheim pepper, finely sliced (Anaheims are mild-hot, but you could do chilis, too.)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3+ limes (to taste)
freshly ground salt and pepper (to taste)

Dress salad. Just before serving, add:
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted and warm

(If you would like Noah's Basil Blueberry Sweet Pea recipe instead, please contact him directly.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Numbers (in which the blog, itself, is the end goal)

On Friday this blog reached the modest count of 10,000 total pageviews in all time according to Blogger. I'm not really sure that to make of this information. However, in honor of a nice round number, I thought I would share some less analytical thoughts on blogs and numbers:

The more pageviews Anyways gets on a daily basis, the more difficult I find it to blog. Does that make any sense?? Probably not. Back when I only got 7 pageviews a day, I could post something new every other day! Now that I get 30 pageviews a day I feel all nervous about posting anything. I think and think and think and type and delete. It's like stage fright or performance anxiety or something. (And yes, I do realize that 30 pageviews a day is nothing is the World of Blogs.)

Posts that receive more than 7 comments on Anyways make me all jittery. It's not normal! Why is this happening? I think. And I like comments! But after 7...? Thankfully, it doesn't happen very often.

I like blogs that are updated about every other day, or every 2 days. I feel like 1) I get to know the blogger with this kind of frequency and 2) I have time to think about what she posts and comment thoughtfully. (I'm not fast on my feet; processing time is important to me.)

Once a week updates are my least favorite - despite the fact that I find myself falling into this pattern lately. The blog seems to lose its spontaneity. (Uh-oh.)

If I could choose a rhythm of posts for my own blog I would do: 1 post that is more personal, then 1 post that is more entertainment, then 1 post that is more informative. I think blog balance is important. I actually dislike blogs that are too much of the same thing. They feel commercial. Although, I understand that's what you are suppose to do if you want to earn money. (Thus the commercial feeling, right?)

The 7 comment rule goes for other blogs, too. I love to comment on a blog post with only a few comments! It makes me feel Grassroots or In The Know. I have butterflies about commenting on a blog post with tens (or hundreds!) of comments. It feels like, um, a dog pile or something. I usually don't comment on those posts. And I tend to weed those blogs out of my reader over time. There are a few exceptions, because some posts and some bloggers are just so good that I am overwhelmed by my need to express my adoration or enthusiasm.

Fritz would want to know why the number 7 now repeats 3 times in this post. "Is there something biblical about your blog?" He would ask.

I'm pretty sure these numbers reflect some sort of neurosis, but I don't think it's biblically-based.  Whatever, I decide. I think we all have some neurosis. I'm not going to stress about it.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Bamboo Plant Screen in Colorado (so far)

Last year, when we decided to try to screen our deck with plants, we thought long and hard about what plants to use. Tall, native grasses were a recurring theme; but I was never quite comfortable with either the seasonal timing or the level of privacy it would offer. Fritz put his foot down on evergreens, or needle trees, as he calls them, because "they belong in the forest." A lot of shrubs we considered were too slow growing or too short to be desirable. We had built a large 4 foot wide, 24" deep planter in an L shape around our deck: this would allow the plants to grow higher than if we planted them directly into the ground. Our goal was to create a 8-10' tall greenery screen that would screen the deck year-round.
June 2012: Level of screening.
It seemed like a big jump to put in bamboo. It's not a native plant. It likes water and Colorado is gets little rain. It likes humidity and Colorado is low humidity. A lot of bamboo varieties grow in the understory and we planned to plant it in full sun. Also, there are a lot of bamboo horror stories out there. I felt relatively certain we were opening ourselves up to a big I-TOLD-YOU-SO further down the road. Nonetheless, we did it. We are (merely) in our second season, but I don't regret it a bit. In fact, I'm loving it. I've read online that this attitude is typical bamboo newbie naiveté. I'm going with it.


We spent some time researching all the different kinds of bamboo before we bought. There are many, many different varieties. We researched what varieties other people in Colorado had tried. Finally, we bought most of our bamboo from an online dealer, Lewis Bamboo: Rubro and Spectabilis varieties, to be exact. From the local nursery we also picked up Yellow Grove and Bissetii. All of these bamboos are running, not clumping; and choosing these running bamboos was intentional: we wanted to fill the planter as densely as possible. And we hoped - no, we hope (still) - it will not be able to escape the 24" deep planter. Lewis Bamboo's website has a lot of information about bamboo that ultimately made us feel like we would be able to control its spread, in the event that it does escape. (Nonetheless, I would strongly urge anyone planning on planting bamboo to research barrier methods and plan your strategy before planting.) In our situation, the bamboo is also planted on a corner, so if it does manage to escape the planter, it will be forced to escape across the street AND across the right of way before it invades the neighbors. Oh, yes, and there's the fact that bamboo is NOT a native species for good reason. It's survival here in Colorado is dependent on a variable over which we have A LOT of control: water.

A water tube feeds the bamboo daily in the summer.
In the winter, we water it with the hose when the temperature gets into the 80s.
Bamboo stays mostly green year round. Above ground, it only grows for about 2 months out of the year. The rest of the year, it's busy growing underground. It looses all its leaves just before new shoots pop up in the spring, and during this period it looks horrible.

Fortunately, the days of bamboo brown-ery were short lived (1 or 2 months, tops) and now the bamboo has grown back greener and thicker than before. The information I've read claims it takes bamboo about 3 years before it's established. That would mean we are still 2 years away from established. Established would be defined as new stalks (culms) emerging at their full diameter (about an 1") and growing to their full height (about 10', we think). Currently, the culms are a quarter- to half-an-inch in diameter and about 6'-7' tall. The already-emerged-culms will not grow any taller or thicker for their entire life. They will simply loose their leaves and grow new leaves each spring. The bamboo we bought from the nursery was pretty root-bound. It looked good when we put it in, because it had bigger culms, was taller, and there was more of it. But it wasn't as good a 'grower' as the bamboo we ordered online. The online bamboo grew everywhere. The nursery bamboo mostly grew in the same spot.

Shortly after planting bamboo in June 2011
This year the bamboo is much more evenly dispersed.
There are also a lot of plant pots to distract your eye, no? I'm sneaky like that.
Over the years, I have often heard architects love bamboo for its aesthetic, and I always assumed that meant the strong vertical lines. At least, that is what photos like these would lead you to believe. And I do love those strong vertical lines of giant bamboos. However, for me, the unexpected pleasure in all this smaller bamboo is the way it moves in the wind. It's gorgeous and it makes a lovely, relaxing rustling sound. The bending and swaying is difficult to photograph, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Sheesh. I'm afraid to confess to how many hours I've spent trying to photograph it.

There are 12" tall blueberry bushes in the pots. They hardly move in the wind.
The bamboo behind it is bending like crazy.

Another unexpected pleasure is the beauty of the leaves, not just the culms. Some of the leaves on the Spectabilis have these amazing stripes that I've never seen on any kind of plant before.


Occasionally, the yellow Spectabilis culms have a green stripe in them as well.


Really fun. The Spectabilis wins for beauty out of all the bamboo types we planted.

Next update next year! (Since I seem to be a wee bit obsessed.)
Also, the deck, the planter.
The third season here.

4th Growing Season (not so good, no post exists)
5th Growing Season

Monday, June 18, 2012

Maybe there WILL BE challenges...

Looking at kindergartens, we were told that sometimes bilingual children need a little extra help in the first few years of school: particularly when they are learning to read and write.

Noah, in English, on the phone with grandma today:

"Yes....Yes.... I can spell some words....I can spell 'car'....Okay.... A...U....T....O....Yes....I did.... That IS how you spell car.... A–U–T–O. Car."

(Auto is German for car.)

So much for phonics.

I looked up at the wall and saw this: (which makes the mistake a little more understandable...?)

In the upper right hand corner(ish) of this photo is the word "auto" spelled in magnetic letters.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feetos

You know how we are all posting photos of our feet on the internet?  I think that showing our feet is suppose to signify that we are relaxed or something. (God, how I love the internet sometimes.) Shalini had one of my all-time-favorite-hilarious-posts about photos on Facebook here. She touches on the topic of feet photos - so you should totally check it out. Also, hilarious.

I am certainly not immune to posting a few feet photos. And I probably take a lot more feet photos than I publish. I mean, how can I resist sometimes? Even if I have the World's Ugliest Feet?


But, in all seriousness: below is what my feet are doing a lot of lately.


And it's not that relaxing. But I think I might be getting some more muscle tone in my legs. Those bandaids? On my big toes? Planter warts. Ugh. I'm trying to get rid of them using apple cider vinegar and duct tape, but it doesn't look very nice in progress. I'm trying NOT to bring attention to them. Thus, I'm NOT painting my toenails some fun color. Or I just don't have time to paint my toenails. Or get a pedicure. Which is where I suspect those planters warts came from in the first place....

My holistic wart removal drives Fritz crazy. He wants me to 'just go to the doctor.' But as my physician friend points out, even physicians often have problems getting rid of them. So there.

Now these bandaids have nothing to do with planter warts:

The poor kid rubbed the skin off his toes while playing in the swimming pool. When he came out of the pool, he left bloody toe prints across concrete. (At that point, he claimed it didn't hurt.) Ugh. Let's review why this happened, shall we?

1) Concrete (versus tiled) swimming pools.
2) Playing in the toddler sized swimming pool
3) Too many floating devices which allow him and his friends to drag each other through the water (and across the concrete floor)



Conclusion?
Time for swimming lessons again. (And hopefully this year, we can finally ditch the floaties and get out of the toddler pool.) Noah's lessons started yesterday.

Fingers crossed that it goes well, because I wouldn't want anyone talking away my World's Ugliest Feet title.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Where my mind is lately...

I've been spending a lot of time reading books lately. Parenting books, parenting memoirs, even child development textbooks. Some of them were ones you recommended, some I found through searching around. All this reading was inspired by my recent struggles with Noah. I don't think I've done this much reading about parenting since I was pregnant and Noah was a newborn. I read almost everything I could get my hands on. I find that I never really agree with anything fully - but even those books which I staunchly disagree with give me a better perspective on WHY, exactly, I'm doing things the way that I am.

I think it's been wonderfully beneficial for me to take this time to read. This, I suppose, is the academic side of my personality: I really learn well with a couple books in hand. I'm feeling re-invigorated, re-committed and full of perspective. I think I had forgotten things about parenting that I knew once upon a time. I think my expectations for Noah had been somewhat impractical for his developmental stage. And I realize that having a second child (since those heady days of reading about babies and children and being able to think of only one child's needs) has muddied the waters of parenting strategies.

Daily life is going really well a result of all this reading. Which is not to say that we're problem-less Рhardly! But at least I'm feeling a lot more confident in dealing with the problems. There's little doubt in my mind that we're standing on the precipice of big changes with Noah: there are reasons WHY formal education begins almost everywhere between 5 and 6 years of age. In some ways, I guess children are children for a reason. How clich̩, huh? In other ways, the paradox that is my 5 year old is is keeping my mental facilities at work.

Yesterday, on the way to camp, he informed me that he wanted to get out of car all by himself. Okay, fine, I said. He proceeded to give me explicit instructions about how I would walk around the car in such and such direction and attend to his brother and NOT STOP to help him. Because he could take off his own seat belt and get out of the car and open and close the door. And I DIDN'T NEED TO STOP AND WAIT FOR HIM, OKAY? Okay, I said.

As we walked from the car to camp drop off, his hands were shoved in his pockets. And there were yellow bungee cords hanging out of his pockets. You know, the ones we use to hold our car trunks closed? He was taking bungee cords to camp. We continued walking, and I figured I would address it as I said goodbye. Basically, those yellow bungees would not be staying at camp with Noah. I wasn't mad, I thought it was funny, really.

I still goofed up. I say this because if you read the developmental studies, you know that 5 years don't really understand The Truth or Lying yet. AND you shouldn't give them the opportunity to lie. I should have said something like, "Noah, I see you have some bungees cords. How about if I take those back to the car with me so that you can play with them at home (and they don't get lost at camp)?" Instead, AND IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT I HAD A GOOD 2 MINUTES TO THINK ABOUT THIS ON THAT WALK FROM THE CAR, I said,

"Noah, what do you have in your pockets?"

"Nothing."

"Oh, really? I think I see something in your pockets."

"No, I don't have anything! Mommy! WHY do you think that?!"

Here's where all those parenting books suddenly kicked in, and I realized, ugh, I wasn't really addressing the situation very well, I could be addressing it better. I backed up.

"Noah. I see the yellow bungee cords hanging out of your pockets. Why don't you give them to me, so I can take them home?"

Noah handed over the bungee cords, smooth as silk. And you know, maybe I just have a tendency to over-think this stuff, but the procuring of the bungees and shoving the bungees into his pants pockets had been so PLANNED. Noah thought about what he was going to do, he planned it out (sort of sneakily) and then he executed his plan (sort of badly). Then I noticed and I responded to him accusatorial style. But he didn't really know it was bad or he knew, but not like you and I know. So really, I started to make the whole situation worse by accusing him; and I wasn't handling the situation the best for a 5 year old brain with fuzzy margins on Truth. Maybe I wasn't even handling it well for an older brain. But, anyway. Blech. That's kind of simple. But it's taking a lot of my time to put all my new found knowledge into action lately.

There aren't a lot of books out there about 5 years olds. I find that frustrating, because I actually believe 5-7 year olds are going through a lot of changes. It would be helpful to clarify what exactly is going on in their brains and how to recognize it's manifestations and how to respond to it. For example, a 5 year old is probably going to learn best by the modeling of a parent (or other adult), but by 7 years old, he might learn best by trial and error.

The conclusions of this statement are almost mind-blowing to me. Another example: when we recently inquired about violin lessons for Noah, the instructor asked if Fritz or I played. We don't. She then suggested that Fritz and Noah learn at the same time. They could split a lesson for the next year. Or we could wait another year or so and then Noah would be old enough to (maybe) find his own internal motivation. How does that make you feel as a parent of a little kid? Pretty powerful, I think.

The best rationalization I can come up with for WHY there are so few parenting books for 5-7 year olds is that most 5-7 year olds are off to school. As parents, we don't exactly brush our hands of our kids, but we do believe that their teachers are now better experts and they will let us know if they see something outside the normal range. In support of this observation, some of the most informative books I've picked up are either written by early childhood educators or they are for the training of early childhood educators.

I've been thinking about typing up all my notes from all the reading I've been doing and sticking them on a 'Page" off to the side of this blog. In the end, I don't really know if that's helpful. I read – and note – things with our own particular challenges in mind. What do you think? Hmmm. What I'm pretty sure about is that 5-7-year-olds are a definite hole in the world of parenting books. Somebody (with more experience and qualifications than me) would be wise to write a helpful book specifically about this age range for parents. Finding a few insights in each of 30 different parenting books is as time-consuming as the mental exercise of putting that advice into action.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rumtopf

One of the summertime traditions in Fritz's family was making Rumtopf.

Rumtopf (rum pot) is essentially an old method for preserving fruit throughout the summer in sugar and rum. What makes it interesting is that it's also a very SLOW recipe. Done properly, it takes the entire summer to 'cook.'  Today, we can go to the store and buy these fruits anytime. However, the joy of the an old-fashion Rumtopf recipe is that it relies on the slow, staggered ripening crop of summer fruits for success.

This year will be fourth summer we have made Rumtopf, and our experience is that you can experiment with different fruits, but you can't rush the process. You have to start with an early crop (we do strawberries) and patiently wait it out until the fall crop (pears are the last one for us) - and then wait a little longer - and by Christmas, you'll be eating your rum-soaked fruit cocktail and bragging about how long it took you to make.

(And it might take you a while to eat so much - just throw a holiday party! - this is A LOT of fruity-rum.)

Here's how we have had success:

What You Need
  • Rum, about 3 large bottles over the course of the summer
  • A glazed-inside ceramic pot with lid
  • Fruit
  • Sugar
Make sure the rum is regular/unflavored and a minimum 54% alcohol (aka 108 proof). To be honest, I haven't found 54% alcohol rum here in Colorado yet, so we've been improvising and mixing our own using a little bit of math. (For example: 1 liter 38% rum + 1 liter 70% rum =  approximately 2 liters 54% rum, or something like that).

Williams Sonoma clearly raided Germany with their Weck jars and Biergarten tables this year. And also? This so-called fermentation pot. (D., those links are especially for your amusement!) Fritz speculates that calling it a Rum Pot was a little too edgy for the alcohol-adverse American market.  Don't feel like spending $80 on a fermentation pot? No problem: it's essentially a large cookie jar, old-fashion crock pot, or a counter compost container. Ours is a glazed ceramic. The lid doesn't need to - and shouldn't - seal, but you do need something to keep the dust out. Also, you'll be storing liquid and fruit inside it, so be sure the pot is liquid-proof and food-safe. Our Rumtopf container is holds a little more than 1 gallon of water.


Ideally, all fruits are perfectly ripe. Not over-ripe. I listed the fruits we use below. (We are growing almost all of these in our garden, but won't have the quantity to make Rumtopf for years. Until then, we are headed to the supermarket.) You want to pick firm-ish fruits that will maintain their form and color, sort of, after soaking in liquid for several months. Remember: this is a northern european recipe to preserve summer fruits; fruits grown in colder climates are generally the best ingredients. I wouldn't recommend, say, bananas (think of how they turn brown!) or oranges (could be a bloated, skinned mess). In Munich, we always watched the street fruit vendors and bought at the height of the local fruit season.

We begin with strawberries.



Rumtopf
500 grams strawberries, de-stemmed, cut into bite sized pieces
250 grams sugar
  • Mix together sugar and fruit. Let sit for 1 hour. 
  • Cover with Rum (minimum of 54% alcohol aka 108 proof), so that the fruit is about covered by an amount of rum about 1 finger's width deep. The pot will be pretty full; but don't worry; it will compress and evaporate before the next fruit.
  • Let stand in a dark, cool place (think: basement) for about 3-4 weeks or until the next fruit is ripe.
Repeat above steps and add to the mixture with a new fruit (and sugar), always covering fruit (and sugar) with rum about 1 fingers width deep. You can use any of the following:

Sour cherries (de-stemmed, de-pitted)
Apricot and peaches (peeled, de-pitted, cut into bite sized pieces)
Raspberries
Currants (Johannisbeeren, in German)
Blueberries
Plums (de-pitted, cut into bite sized pieces)
Pears (peeled, bite sized pieces)

Have you ever made Rumtopf or anything like it? Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Practical Uses of a Panoramic Sunroof

We've planted four trees this year. This is is how I get the trees home:


I think it's a very practical use of a sunroof. Many people seem to think this is hilarious.

"Don't worry," I tell Fritz, "I drive really carefully. And two people gave me a thumbs up!"

"Really? Are you sure it wasn't the middle finger?"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fishing

We took the boys fishing yesterday. There's a children's fishing pod, stocked on Memorial Day, that we attempted to visit last year. We learned: you've got be early in the season, or the fish will be all gone. Last year was a bit of a disappointment.


BUT this year, four days after Memorial Day: and the fish were biting at noon! Hmmm...

Fritz, being Fritz, was all about getting the proper gear - in this case a children's fishing rod. Alas, it doesn't work very well, Fritz tells me. (Although it DID catch two little fish!) He's already talking about giving Noah his old (good) fishing rod and buying a new one for himself.

Noah, being Noah, designed his own impromptu fishing rod while Fritz was fiddling with the (bad) children's fishing rod.

Mattias played with the worms. Oh, did he play with worms. You know, worms are something of a specialty in dry, sunny Colorado. This really brought me back to my own childhood and playing with worms after the rain. I don't know what the equivalent for high-prarie Colorado kids is.


I confess, Mattias loved those worms so much, that I'm thinking about spending $2 to buy him another Box O' Worms at the fishing store. This either makes me want to laugh or cry.