Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Unclear on the Concept

HGTV is holding their annual Dream Home Giveaway. Apparently, every year they build some huge expensive resort home and give it away to some unlucky person, although this year, the recipient will be luckier than those in the past. This year they are giving away enough cash ($250,000) to enable the winner to insure and pay taxes on the beast until they can unload it.

You know, I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about dream homes. My math grades would have been higher in middle school, had I not devoted class time to drawing floor plans. Here's the fundamental flaw in HGTV's contest: a Dream Home is a personal thing, not generic. My dream home is designed for me. It does not feature an elaborate dog house. Currently, the mental version incorporates universal design, cradle to cradle* products where possible, and green, sustainable products everywhere else. My dream home is fully accessible to our disabled friends and family, and fun for our aging, unable-to-jump enormous cats. My dream home has a library for fiction and lots of bookshelves everywhere else for all the other subjects we like to read about. My dream home includes a separate-but-attached granny cottage. My dream home looks traditional, but is virtually fireproof and very easy to keep clean. My dream house is in my current neighborhood, and will enable me to stay here for the rest of my life.** My dream house has many windows on the south, east, and west sides, and few on the north, and all of those windows are shaded from the summer sun.

If HGTV would like to draw my name out of their hat, I'll be delighted to sell off their faux dream house, and build my own. I'm pretty sure I could have everything I want for considerably less than 2.5 million.

*Fun fact: the book Cradle to Cradle is waterproof, and itself recyclable

**I just realized yesterday that given my expected lifespan, I have even more years ahead of me for reading than I have so far enjoyed. And I don't have to waste four years learning to read.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Simple Gifts

The Purple Possum received two fifth birthday presents of particular note.

The first to mention is a fish tank, smallish, I think, although I know absolutely nothing about fish, but cute. It has a blue plastic base and top, with a light, and a filter, and a heater. The effect is a fish take designed by the same designer as the iMac. The bottom has been covered with blue and green gravel. Originally, there was an adorable snow scene background drawn by the girls, but that didn't stay up long after fish were introduced to the tank. The fish are two black mollies, Blackie and Molly, two guppies, Cameron and Goldie, two swordtails, Peter and Susan, one catfish, Splee, and one snail, Gary.

The snail moves around much faster than I would have guessed, probably because there isn't a lot for it to suck off the walls yet. The catfish is fun to watch, bottom feeding, because it's whiskers waggle when it eats. Peter and Susan are the only mating couple, the Spouse tells me, so to me it seems a little like the Smurfs, with only the one female in the group. Or, as Geena Davis would remind me, like most programming for kids. Susan has a bulge, which may be eggs. Yes, I am speculating on the baby bump of my non-celebratory fish. One of the original black mollies didn't survive the transition into the new tank. I've just learned that this is a common problem for new fish. One of the guppies also had problems, and we couldn't find it for a while. It was either trapped in the filter, or under the filter, or just hanging out. Fish are inscrutable, their actions and motivations opaque. After being re-released into the tank as a whole, the guppy in question was noted to be missing a portion of its tail, which the Spouse said would grow back. Said guppy spent the rest of that evening getting caught in the filter some more, or floating in ways that are not good, belly-up, for example. So, after the girls were asleep, the Spouse went back to the fish purveyor to replace the two unsatisfactory specimens.

Yesterday morning the girls woke up, and the Purple Penguin asked right away about the struggling guppy.
"Go look," I said, "Pop got new fish." You see the problem: "fish" is both singular and plural. She went, she looked, she ran back to tell me.
"The guppy's tail grew back! And there's a new black one."

By the time I came home from work, it was understood that no miraculously quick tail growing had occurred. That there were two new fish. I went to look at the newly-named Goldie, and couldn't spot it.
"Sweetie," I asked the Spouse, "I can't see Goldie." He leaves off cooking dinner to check. A couple of long pauses later, he comes back, with something in his hand. He found Goldie. She managed to jump out of the fish tank. Through an uncovered area this small.

No more guppies, the Purple Penguin has decreed. She didn't specifically mention that she didn't like their dying/suicidal ways.

The second gift I wanted to mention, was a real electronic keyboard. The Purple Penguin's favorite toy from Christmas was a tiny plastic harmonica that came in a cracker, so we all agreed that something musical might be the way to go. By a happy coincidence, a second-hand keyboard became available. The Spouse demonstrated its use by plunking out Linus and Lucy, a household favorite. My mother and the girls were all terribly impressed, unaware that he could play piano, too.

After supper, the Possum went off to play Ascendancy with her father, a game which has recently delighted her no end, not only because the Spouse has customized his version by naming all the alien races from classics of science fiction.

The birthday girl spent about two minutes playing with a magnetic paper doll with me, before she came up with a new idea. I was to pick out a background, dress the doll in one of the costumes available, and she would play appropriate music on the piano.

My five-year-old invented for herself the idea of a musical soundtrack. Huh.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Check the ads up top

This context-specific stuff is funny. I just realized I'm running ads for pest control. I think I've found a way to take care of pesky varmints.

Edited to note that of course now that I made this post, the ads have changed. Oh, well. Do you think if I mention playing Global Thermonuclear War (a darts game, actually), I'll get something good?

That Miracle Grow was a Bad Idea

This is my youngest, rather tall child, (currently) aka, the Purple Penguin.

This is my eldest, tallest child, aka the Possum.

Soon my evil plot will come to fruition and the Spouse will never again be able to hide things from me on the top shelves.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It made me laugh

Tomorrow is the Purple Penguin's fifth birthday. The Possum, a cool seven-and-a-half year old, watched her sister getting all excited about the chocolate cupcakes for the party, and said

The way she's hyperventilating, she could make a cappuccino.
As I said, it made me laugh.