Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike Tease and Fall is Here for a Day

We're having one of those days that reminds us that the rest of the country is barrelling into a new season of falling leave, acorns, falling temps, breezy afternoons spent with a hot mug of something, while wearing a sweater. This is Ike's legacy. We excitedly anticipated the worst - 10 inches of rain! Flooding! Hooray! That's the twisted desires of drought-plagued texans on the central plain. What we got was a bit of a breeze, some cloudy days... and about 2 hours of rain one night. Oh yeah, and a bazillion evacuees in shelters of all kinds who need our help. So there are some people suffering, but no one benefitted from Ike's rains. I think Chicago got more rain from Ike than we did. However, it did bring us a cold front.
As I write this, it is nearly noon and has yet to get above 70 degrees. WOW. Just a few days ago, at the same time, it would have been nearly 100 degrees and climbing.
I've seen lots of gekos, and there are toads living in the cracks in our yard. We had a few weeks when the preying mantis was ubiquitous, but they are gone. We spotted a huge, hanging, spider egg sack in the eaves, but I haven't checked on it in a while.
Phoebe is six weeks old and a pound-plus bigger and heavier than where we started. Even Charley, my 80lb-jackhammer-wielding, muscle-bound hunk of a husband has started to complain about carrying the car seat to and fro. I pulled out the stroller today, so that we can more easily pop her plastic bucket on to it and wheel it around, although I usually end up wearing her in a sling during most shopping trips and outings so we can discreetly nurse. The sling is, as my friend Asenath so eloquently puts it, "a real cheese-saver". Thank you, oh sling, for saving our cheese! We would be lost without you, and no laundry would get done, or people fed, or groceries purchased. I am getting more and more done everyday, even cooking whole meals and getting a shower now and then. This time away from work to be with her has been so wonderful. We spend days staring at eachother and cuddling. What could be better? It goes so fast, as everyone will tell you. I have many new perspectives on time and its passing these days.
So today, one more glorious day of time to spend with my wee precious girl, is just like fall up north. It won't last long - I am finally convinced of that. I spent the first four years living in Texas packing up all my tank tops and shorts at the first cold front, pulling out sweaters and jeans, only to reverse the situation a few days later, when it hit 99 degrees again and stayed that way through october. I have a sweater I leave at the bottom of a drawer, now. I'll pull it out, wear it all day - even tomorrow in the morning. When it warms up again, I can slip into my favorite summer dress and tuck the sweater away in its drawer, to wait for our next single fall-like day.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's a girl!

Phoebe Josephine Savvas was born into our lives on 7-31-08 at 3:57 pm. She weighed 9lbs, 4 oz and is 20 inches long. She has brown eyes and lots of hair, and we have confirmed that it isn't just us - she's completely adorable (and terribly smart, to be sure). She is very sweet, and is doing very well. I have been tired, but am recovering, and feeling much better each day. Labor was a long road - 48 hours and 2 and a half of pushing, holy crap! The hardest part of a 48 hour labor is that even though the first 12 hours weren't that hard to cope with, I couldn't sleep or eat much in that time, which made the duration a bit harder. However, I am very proud of myself for hanging in there, and grateful to the entire team of midwives, and especially my stellar husband, Charley, for their support, which made all the difference. Phoebe was born at home, and it reconfirmed what a special and wonderful thing that is - and the entire team can take credit for the accomplishment.
We are having wonderfully relaxing days cuddling and getting all the stuff accomplished in the process of caring for a new baby. It is rediculously true that it took both of us to clean up her first poop and put a new diaper on her! We are having a blast. Cheers! I'm sure I'll come up with a more detailed birthstory soon.
It continues to be blasting hot and very dry, so for the most part, we are content to snuggle in our colorful little cave of a house. I noticed there was a lot of life up and about the property the evening I went into labor - a wasp dragging a drugged spider victim to its lair, a flock of dragonflies, a pair of sulphur butterflies, lots of gekos up and about, even a rattlesnake! We haven't seen that much action lately with the hot dry weather. More soon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Cactus Blooms

The cactus bloomed! It opened in the night, a few nights ago. The flower is closed now, but still attached to the cactus for the time being. It is looking withered and droopy. We did get some pictures of it right after it bloomed, though! How very exciting! There are more on the flickr page.
I'm winding down my obligations at work, to take my maternity leave. I have about a half day of work later this week, and a small work party to attend for a fellow mom-to-be, and then next week I don't go to work at all! I'm set to receive a home visit from the midwife today, which should tell me a bit more about where we're at in regard to when the wee one will make its appearance. So far, the conclusion is 2 - 3 more weeks. I'm feeling great, and the house is ready - even more ready than I had hoped (yay Charley!!!). I only need to live a life of luxury for the next 14-21 days - this is my only job. I plan to nap, walk, swim, do yoga, cook yummy food, run a few last minute errands, read books, enjoy the casa, and begin slowing down. Since Charley has work for about the next two weeks (we just found out the other day) we won't be hanging out together much during the day, but he's really excited about this job and he'll be there when I need him. I don't think I'm approaching this time as tapping-my-fingers-waiting as many people suggest, although, of course, I am very excited to get the the grand finale of baby-on-the-outside.
Today is Charley's birthday, and I'm going to make cupcakes to share with some friends. We started the day off with some rain! Hooray! It is humid, but quite cool outside, with the possibility of more rain on the way.
This weekend we will celebrate summer with our friends at the annual Pond Party - probably one of my last major social functions of the summer. We're also planning a brunch wtih Becky and Rachel to celebrate all the July birthdays. Charley and I are definately taking this time to enjoy some things we won't really be getting to for a few weeks once the baby is born - namely, movies. We saw Hellboy 2 the other night, and I was diggin' it! I'm excited to see Mr. Del Toro's version of The Hobbit. I think the only other worthy director might have been M. Night Shalaman, but Del Toro is a good fit. ( I hope! ) We also saw Get Smart last week, which was amusing, but not as funny as you know Steve Carell can be. I hope they don't try to turn him into a Steve Martin - Carell is funny with all the lampooning.
The blog got a facelift... what do you think? I hope that the links (which are now to the right) are easier to use. I have pared them down to things I check often, if not daily, and suggest you do the same.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thrifty and a flower

I think by now you know, I really love craigslist and goodwill. I love buying something most of all that has no packaging. I love knowing that resources weren't used to make this just FOR ME. Especially baby stuff that gets used only for a few months and then becomes worthless. I love a bargain, no foolin'. We've purchased most of our furniture from estate sales are incredibly happy with the quality of older furniture, for *much* less than the price of new stuff. We have other priorities for our money - particularly travel and our child. Don't get me wrong though, we have some really beautiful stuff. This attitude has grown in me, especially since meeting Charley, who is the most recycling person I know - he recycles buildings, for goodness sake! If something can be fixed, it should be - not replaced. He goes to great lengths to fix instead of replace, and has suprised me by fixing things I thought were disposable. And he has a very strong inner junk man. I swear, he would be a regular junk dealer if I wasn't around to say "please don't buy another foreclosed storage space at auction just for the fun of what you might find"

However, I am learning a lot about the economy of reselling babystuff on craigslist lately. What astonishes me are the people who try to resell their used babystuff - albeit in very gently used condition - for 90% of the retail they paid for it. I think what happens is that over zealous consumers buy all the stuff they think they need to keep a baby happy, use half of it for about 20 minutes, and then feel ripped off. AND THEN they expect you - or some hapless second hand buyer - to help them recoup the money they spent on all of this frivolous crap they ended up with. I routinely offer less than what people are asking for on craigslist. (uh oh, giving away my secrets!) Let's face it - used babystuff isn't rare, and therefore can't really command a blood price. Most of the stuff I'm only willing to spend what I offer them, or I'll go without it because its quite frivolous stuff, anyway. What really gets me is the people who WHINE back at you. Real quote: "It really hurts to get so little for these after I paid so much for them!" I am sorely tempted to respond by asking who forced them to purchase brand new, expensive, frivolous, extra convienient items for their baby, and when, exactly, did I become responsible for helping them recoup the money they spent on said stuff? But, I usually do restrain myself (suprised?) in order to not quash a potential deal. I really think these people ought to start being more realistic - who wants to pay more than 50% of the cost of something new to get something used? I don't. But most of all, I don't want them to whine at me, because I'm not really feeling it. I lack the drive for brand shiny new stuff, and I lack sympathy for your overzealous consumption. ouch. Maybe I am a bit harsh - but - overall, I estimate that we've saved about $2000 on "essentials" and ended up with some extra fun stuff for really cheap. I love it! Yay me!

Now that my rant is over, I can get to the news from the ranch. We've had some good days of rain, thankfully. We're still down for the year, but every drop helps. It is still quite hot, but we're experiencing more managable high 90's than low 100's - and trust me, there is a big difference. Still not much life to speak of - the major change noted around here is the mesquite trees have popped out with millions of pods filled with seeds hanging heavy on the trees, and each rain storm fells more and more of them to the ground. Mesquite can eventually make for some nice trees, but is considered for the most part, a scourge. The small trees are spiny and insidious - a three inch tall sprout can have three times as large a root system anchoring it down below. They are notoriously hard to get rid of. The worst part is the little buggers pop your tires and gouge your feet - and if allowed to take hold, require blood, sweat, and tears to remove. We rely on several of the damned things for shade for our house at this point, while we await some friendlier trees to grow to shade-giving proportions. They do a good job, and they are pretty - feathery leaves that stay green in the most Texas-like heat and drought conditions. But we sure do grumble about those pods, and they havoc they wreak.
The good news is that one of our large cactus - oh I forget the name of it now, but it is a pretty standard upright log of a cactus - is about to bloom. It has put off a large, hairy projection that has grown incredibly over the last 4 days. I suppose it would measure around 7 inches long, about 2 - 3 inches in diameter where the flower will open. The last time it bloomed, I procrastinated and missed photographing the glorious florescence completely. The flower is ginormous and has a strong purfume - for about 24 hours. Such an amazing thing, and it lasts for the blnk of an eye. This time, we're determined to document it. So stay tuned...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Some rain and our amazing friends

We have had several short bursts of rain from isolated showers moving through the region. Not enough to quench the thirsty, cracked earth, but enough to perk the trees up a little bit. However, it is at hot as heck as ever, but that's Texas for you. Charley and I have been swimming more lately, and I've even joined him on the morning walk to the corner store in Lytton Springs to visit our friend Pricilla. She took the weekend off, so we just visited with the regular locals and Robert, the guy who works at the store when Pricilla doesn't. There is a wierd coccoon of some type attached to one of our agaves - it looks like a mass of leaves, dirt, twigs stuck together - somehow. We are just waiting to see what will come out. The image is above.

We have these amazing friends who are real explorers - Matt Oliphant and Nancy Pistole. They travel the world exploring caves, and are good friends of Charley's and more recently mine as well. They are currently in Gabon with National Geographic, to explore the rainforest caves and help get them documented as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can check them out at the blog
Their description of the food in Ghana, where they stopped on their way to Gabon, included the words "gorilla snot, oily soup, organs, chewy mass" . Sometimes they do suffer gastrointestinally to do the amazing things they do.