Saturday, November 29, 2008

This never happens to me...

Actual lyrics to a song that was written today about my son (courtesy of a 6-year-old friend):

Super [Munchkin] Rock Star!
Flying to his concert!
Petting all the kitties,
Fighting off the penguins
and polar bears!
To give you a better idea, the music was what Joe has decided to term "toddler-core." Think Trogdor, but without the burnination. Evidently, this was actually only the best of many songs written about the Munchkin tonight, and he indicated his approval by trying to dance on a table.

Seriously - my kid is just way cooler than I have ever been. Must be a recessive gene somewhere.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Shmack Friday

Things we did today that did not involve holiday shopping:

  • slept in WAAAAAY past 4am
  • finished cleaning up from last night's dinner
  • kicked a ball around the yard with the Munchkin
  • read an entire magazine cover-to-cover
  • read books with the Munchkin
  • moved the rain barrel to the barn for the winter
  • moved the pumpkins from the porch to the compost
  • watched the Munchkin practice going up and down the steps
  • refilled the bird feeders
  • made and ate yummy oyster stew
Now, I will admit that we needed to go to Kroger for bacon and half-and-half for the stew, and we stopped through Lowe's to replace my busted garage door opener, so I suppose we did contribute a little bit to retail numbers for the day. Still, I'd rather have had this day than to have spent it battling crowds and looking for bargains.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Magic beans

You know how you sometimes get those really cool-looking purple beans at farmers markets and the like? And it is always disappointing when you cook them, because they turn the same relatively boring green color as every other bean?

Try this recipe. You'll thank me. Even without the chive blossom vinegar, it rocks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another thing about autumn

Spring cleaning, shming cleaning. Fall is a great time to clean out the pantry, figure out what's there and what needs to be restocked, and vow to finally use up all those dry bean soup mixes this year.

Sometimes, the Munchkin helps.

Putting Up

Anybody who has known me for a year has probably heard me talk about how much I adore autumn. Partly this is just because it marks the end of summer. I've been trying to get better about appreciating aspects of each season, but to be honest I really only enjoy summer weather for about three weeks or so and then am ready to stop wearing shorts. Plus, although summer is always billed as vacation-time, all the travel that gets crammed into those three months turns out to be more exhausting than the scheduled routines of the rest of the year. Evidently, when we chose to have a child while living in a different state from the rest of our family, we should have started asking people to donate their frequent-flier miles as a shower gift. But I digress.

The other reason to adore fall is the process of canning, freezing, drying, and otherwise putting up food for the winter. My inner squirrel comes out. The thing I have been doing longest (and am therefore best at) has been pickling. It's pretty close to idiot-proof, and works with beans, beets, cucumbers, okra, and probably a gazillion other things. Unfortunately, my past pickling adventures have resulted in a cabinet jammed full of jars of various kinds of pickles. We simply haven't been eating them as fast as I make them.

Peppers, ready to go. No, I don't know why one ripened to red and none of the others did

So, this year there was a moratorium on pickling. That doesn't mean no preserving, though. I have put up a few pints of applesauce (I'm doing those a little bit at a time, rather than let the apples pile up), frozen a batch of roasted red pepper sauce (which might be cannable, but I could only find pressure-canner instructions), and frozen a sheet tray of jalapenos - some diced, some halved, and some sliced. I still have a handful of habaneros to freeze as well, but was waiting to get gloves first. It turns out that merely washing your hands is totally inadequate to remove capsaicin from ones fingernails - a harsh lesson to learn when you rub your eyes a few hours later. If you want the gory details, ask Joe. He is still laughing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Passing

Rest in peace, Paul Newman. He hadn't been on-screen for several years, and had left Hollywood long before that, but he couldn't help being a movie star, and he was a class act to the end.

Monday, August 18, 2008


As I have watched the Olympic coverage over the past week, the following thoughts have stuck in my mind:

  • What does Al Trautwig do with the rest of his time? I feel like they must keep him in suspended animation, and only thaw him out every four years.
  • I would like to see a tickertape parade through Baltimore. Does anyone even have tickertape anymore?
  • Dara Torres is two years older than me, with a two-year-old daughter, and has medaled in all three events she participated in. Constantina Tomescu Dita is a year younger, with a teenage son, and won the women's marathon by a tremendous margin. I have spent the better part of the morning unsuccessfully hunting for the Munchkin's right shoe. Perhaps I should consider a multivitamin?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An almost perfect morning

The Munchkin slept pretty well last night, in spite of his teeth, only waking twice. The he slept until 8 (which means I got a shower), and has spent breakfast alternating between actual eating (Puffins and Cheerios - a perennial fave) and dangling Mardi Gras beads so that Hardee will chase them. He is giggling like a loon, while I just sit here enjoying my coffee and watching. Seriously - this is the life.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

He's quite the hoopy frood

Some children have security blankets. I was a teddy bear girl. I know one kid who sleeps with his child-sized baseball bat. His older brother was incredibly attached to a small roll of CAT-5 cable.

The Munchkin has a towel.

He sleeps with it, likes to take it in the car, asks for it when I come to pick him up at school. Sometimes he wears it as a cape. For a while he would put it over his head and go careening around the house blindly. That phase seems to have passed, though. I hope.

It is good to know he is prepared for anything, from prickly grass to sippy cup spills to Vogon poetry.

Sacrifices for the cause

I have sustained a clothesline-related injury.

When we moved into our house, there were two rusty t-posts for a clothesline in our side yard. They were pretty damned ugly, so when we needed to regrade the ground around the house, and that necessitated digging up one of them, I was thrilled to bits. Joe and I dragged the damn thing (which was incredibly heavy - the concrete that had been holding it in the ground was still attached) out to the barn, and as far as I know it is still there lo these many years later, waiting for us to come up with some sort of more permanent disposal solution.

The second post was a bit more problematic. It is flanked by Rose of Sharon, and to dig it up would almost undoubtedly involve killing them. Plus, we'd have to re-enact the whole cross-yard drag, and as we are now both 7 years older than we were the first time, neither Joe nor I are exactly eager to do so. Instead, I had planned to camouflage it, using it as a trellis of sorts for clematis or another flowering vine.

Meanwhile, the Munchkin produces piles of dirty diapers each week, and having a clothesline has started looking pretty good, from both a green-living and a cost-cutting point of view. The website Flex Your Power writes:

Clothes dryers are typically one of the most expensive home appliances to operate, accounting for about 6% of total electricity usage. Unlike other appliances, clothes dryers don't vary much from model to model in the amount of energy used and are not required to display EnergyGuide labels. However, that doesn't mean that the amount of energy used by clothes dryers isn't important.

It typically costs 30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in an electric dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer.
I'd like to hook up a meter so I could get a more specific accounting of how much energy our dryer uses, but that's a starting point at least.

So, off to GR Smith, our fantastic local hardware store. The supply list was as follows:

100' clothesline$6.99
2 pulleys$8.98
hook to hang the line from our house's siding$6.99
Not bad, right?

This is where things start to go haywire.

First, I discover that the eye hooks on the existing post are closed too tightly and rusted in place, so I cannot hook the pulley over it. OK, no biggie - I will just look the clothesline over the horizontal pipe for now, and pick up a new bolt next time I am out. I loop the clothesline over the pipe, and pull the clothesline across to the house. I attach the siding hook, hang the second pulley off it, and then pull the line taut and knot it. It is a thing of beauty, my clothesline.

I run inside to get the load of sheets I just washed. The Munchkin is happily riding on my back this whole time, and seems rather interested in the proceedings. I hang the four pillowcases on the line. A little sag, but nothing major. Then I hang the first sheet.

Well crap.

The entire clothesline has now sagged halfway down to the ground. Each subsequent sheet makes matters worse. No worries, I think - I can just tighten the line to take up some of the slack. I pull on the line, planning to re-knot it.

As the Munchkin would say, "POP"

The strip of siding holding the hook pops out in rather dramatic fashion, causing the hook (which I am kinda-sorta holding) to go flying off into the grass, gouging the living daylights out of my finger, although I do not notice it yet.

The problem is clear. Although those siding hooks are fantastic at holding things like plants - things that only pull down. The problem with a clothesline is that it also pulls out. I clearly need to screw a hook into the side of the house. It is the only way to hold the weight of the line. Also, the "line tightener" gadget that I had passed up the first time is looking like a good investment, since tugging and re-tying is pretty tricky with a clothesline over your head. A prop for the middle of the line also looks like a pretty good idea, since we're talking about almost 50' of line, and some sag is inevitable.

So, I gather the sheets and take them back inside, before heading back to the hardware store. This is when I notice my finger. Or, rather, I notice the blood that seems to be getting all over my nice clean damp sheets. Muttering to myself, I shove them in the laundry and run them through a quick cold wash while I head back to Smith's.

On the second trip, I buy:

wall screw, rated for 120'$1.79
bolt hook for post$.99
line tightener$3.49
prop (for middle of line)$7.99

The Munchkin dozed off en route to the store, and stayed out throughout the trip, so after getting him into bed, I set out to complete the job. The sheets (bloodstain-free) are presently blowing in the breeze. I'll be able to re-use the siding hooks, so in total the clothesline cost me $34.02+tax, two trips to the store, a bandaid, a little blood, and an extra washer cycle. Nonetheless, it should pay for itself in roughly 120 uses. Even if I only use it for sheets and diapers, it'll take less than a year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fun with numbers

The Munchkin is, at this moment, 1 year, 1month, 1 day, 1 hour, and 1 minute old. The next cool numerical birthday will be June 20, 2008 2:40am, followed by May 23, 2011 12:41am and March 30, 2020 10:47am. Yes, we do celebrate Pi Day at our house. Why do you ask?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Now we are six

I now have no excuse not to participate in this "six things" meme. First I was technically tapped by Swankette, and then more specifically tapped by Jeanne. Besides which, this particular meme walks a nice balance, involving a little bit of thought but almost no creativity - something I am sorely lacking at the moment. So, I now present, six things the readers of this blog might not know about me:

  1. (In honor of the end of National Poetry Month) Although I enjoy reading poetry, I detest hearing it read aloud - doubly so when it is read by the poet. One of my worst experiences in high school was when one of my teachers brought in a recording of T.S. Eliot reading "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I used to like that poem, but now all I can hear when I read it is that damned monotonous voice droning on and on and on.... Completely killed it.
  2. If I come across Real Genius while flipping through channels, I am constitutionally incapable of turning it off until the movie is over. This is in spite of the fact that Joe and I own a copy of the movie.
  3. Joe and I never picked out a girl's name for the Munchkin. The name he got was easy, but every time we talked about names for a girl, it pretty quickly devolved into a battle of who could come up with the worst name. It was a relief when the ultrasound showed a boy, so we could stop trying to come up with names.
  4. Much of the work of both William Wegman and Anne Geddes gives me the heebie-jeebies.
  5. I have a pathological fear of needles. Actually, a lot of people know this about me. What they may not know is that when I was in 10th grade, I broke my ankle in gym class and had the bone set without anesthesia rather than accept an injection. I swore that having it set would be less traumatic and painful than the shot of Novocaine, and I was right. It turned out the pain of having the ankle set wasn't bad at all, considering the pain of breaking it in the first place. This event led to two things. First, I had my first cross-dressing role on stage. I had been cast as a Hot Box dancer in Guys & Dolls, but since that wasn't possible I was dressed in drag and put behind the newsstand so nobody could see the cast. I sang all the ensemble numbers with the guys. In retrospect, this was probably a step up. Second, the experience at the hospital probably helped put the idea in my head that people who insist I'll want painkillers are not necessarily to be trusted. I hadn't connected the dots until recently, but this (along with some bad medical experiences in college) probably contributed to my deciding to have a home birth.
  6. William Brewster (of Mayflower fame) is an ancestor on my paternal grandmother's side. This, if IMDB is to be believed, means I am a distant cousin of Seth MacFarlane. Maybe someday this will get me a cartoon guest appearance on Family Guy, but I'm not holding my breath.
OK, so now to tag some other people. Some of these are long shots, but I'm going to go with TRP, Joe, Lemming, the Pope, Tommyspoon, and Reid. The rules are as follows:
  • link to the person who tagged you [check]
  • post the rules [check]
  • write six things about yourself [check]
  • tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. [check]
  • let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites. [real soon now]
  • let your tagger know when your entry is up [posts on their way]
Go to it!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Many Happy Returns

Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday, dear Munchkin Happy Birthday to you I am now the mother of a one-year-old, and pretty soon a toddler. It boggles the mind. Oh, by the way - all those of you who hummed the melody as you read this owe the Hill sisters a buck.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Infallible toads

Spring has, at long last, sprung. Sort of. Today is cold and I heard rumors of snow tonight, but the latest that is allowed to happen is tax day, so Winter, you are officially on notice. Hear that? I am not much of a poetry person, but yesterday I heard a poem by Richard Shelton called "Desert Water," which begins

once a year when infallible toads begin to sing all the spiders who left me return and I make room for them
Here in Ohio (most definitely NOT the desert), our own "infallible toads," the peepers, have started singing. Their song is so constant that you almost don't notice them, but once you tune into them, they are almost unfathomably loud. It may be cold, and I may be dressing the Munchkin in turtlenecks for a little while longer yet, but I figure the peepers know what they are talking about. It won't be long now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When Musicologists do Memes

I picked this up from Phil Ford at Dial M for Musicology, who in turn got it from the marvelously-titled musikwissenbloggenschaft. Voila my indie rock album cover: Granted, it's no "Manchester Center for New Writing," but I'm pretty happy with it. "Institute" is an awesome name for a band. It sounds more to me like a synth-pop group than an indie rock band, or maybe an industrial/noise outfit. I was especially happy with the "men hate it most" - "most men hate it" potential. So here's what you do:

  1. Your band name is the first random Wikipedia article you pull up.
  2. Your album title is the last four words of the last quote on this page.
  3. Your album cover is the third picture featured here.
  4. PhotoShop them together
  5. Post (preferably with some sort of hypothesis as to what this album would sound like)
I'm thinking of trying a few more of these, although maybe I should just try the song-lyric generator idea instead....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Romper Room

Things I didn't know were toys until I had a son:

  • pillows
  • an empty Kleenex box
  • a square piece of cardboard that came in the bottom of a packing box
  • a spoon
  • the stereo (last night he programmed it to come on at midnight and play jazz - we did not know it was programmable)
  • an empty film canister
  • junk mail
  • an empty container for wipes
  • the television remote
  • a coaster
  • Joe

Friday, March 07, 2008

It has begun

All day yesterday, the local weather prognosticators were hyping the next storm of the century. Eight inches over two days, which is what our area should get, is hardly legendary, but it is a fair amount for March. The flurries have begun in earnest now. Luckily, I have no place to be for the next few days, aside from a short trip down the road (walkable, if need be) to pick up the Munchkin from school. On the other hand, I do have lots of writing to do - one paper due on Monday, and a meeting with my thesis adviser on Wednesday. It seems the best plan of action is to hunker down with a cup of coffee, get to work, and put off thoughts of spring cleaning for a while.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bloom Day update, redux

Day 7: We have (artfully blurry) blooms! There was no discernible difference between the stems I smashed with the hammer and the ones I just cut on a hard diagonal. On the one hand, the hammer was a fun way of working out a little frustration, but on the other, those stems seemed to get punky and make the water brackish quicker.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bloom Day update

Day 6 of the great forsythia experiment.

Latest Trick

The Munchkin has a new skill as of about a week ago: he can now push from lying down to sitting up. (He's been able to stay sitting if placed that way for four months now, but hadn't been able to work out getting his legs out of the way to push himself to a seated position). Since he has figured out how to do this, he seems to love nothing better than flinging himself forward and face-planting on our bed, so that he can push himself up again. This has had occasionally hilarious results, as when he decided he wanted to push himself up while nursing, and ended up on his hands and knees like a dog drinking from a hydrant. He has gone through this process with each new trick he learns. While I was teaching him to sit up, pulling him up by his hands, at one point he stiffened himself and found himself standing. Once that happened, he showed no interest whatsoever in sitting for a few weeks, and simply would not bend in the middle. Then once he figured out how to sit on his own, supporting himself, standing with help from me became less appealing, until (of course) he pulled himself up. It has made me wonder - what was the last new thing I learned that excited me that much? The closest thing I could think of was learning about how mirrors are used in film-making. They are frequently used to signify a divided self or conflicting desires. After I learned that bit of information, I started noticing the mirrors in every television show and movie I saw. Not quite as cool as pushing up, but maybe it's a similar process? So, now the question goes to you (all three of you): what was the last new thing you learned that really excited you?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, February 2008

Today is the first anniversary of Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, and while there aren't any blooms yet in this Ohio garden (right on the edge between zones 5 and 6), there's a lot of potential. Even the snowdrops haven't dared to show themselves yet, and how could they, through several inches of snow and ice? What we do have, though, are buds. Lots and lots of buds.

In a few months, the forsythia will look more like this picture (taken in April):but, frankly, I'm feeling a bit impatient this year. So, I'm trying my hand at forcing forsythia branches indoors. And, being a geek, I've turned it into an experiment. I cut several branches to force, but with some of them I am using the "cut the stem underwater" method, and with others I am using the "whack the stem with a hammer to smoosh it" method. I'll let y'all know if one way works better than the other. Oh, and profuse apologies for the photo quality. The flash gave it a bit of a bare-light-bulb-interrogation-room quality that leaves a lot to be desired.
Our two deciduous magnolias have actually had buds for some time now. They always gets buds on their branches early enough that I am convinced the winter freezes will kill them off. Every year, of course, I am wrong. It's only a stab in the dark, but maybe those buds need the cold to harden off so they flower properly? Perhaps some real gardener will read this and let me know. Oh, and as long as I am posing questions to the world, can magnolia branches be forced? If I can come up with ways of bringing a little spring indoors during the February doldrums, I could get hooked...

Monday, February 04, 2008

How we measure time

In the German film class I am taking this quarter, we have spent a little bit of time talking about how the passage of time is depicted in early film. This, of course, was one of those things that was suddenly possible in film, where it had not been in stage plays. Sure, drama could indicate that time had passed, once playwrights threw out that whole Aristotelian unity notion, but what film could do, and what drama had not been able to, was show the viewer that time was passing at something other than a natural pace. Our real-life perception of time is fairly malleable. It all depends how we look at it. Groundhog Day is just past, and although Punxatawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, Buckeye Chuck anticipates an early spring. Of course, as Carol at May Dreams Gardens points out, an early spring for us in Zone 5 would come in March, or around 6 weeks from now. Still, one of those predictions makes the process feel shorter somehow. Today is Mardi Gras, the end of epiphany, meaning tomorrow is the start of the spring season of Lent. I'm not Catholic, but Easter is one of the more pagan Catholic holidays, and it's nice to be able to start the countdown so early this year. Of course, the end of football season is a landmark too - one that places us in the gray nether-time before spring training begins. (Don't talk to me about the NBA. Bunch of thyroid cases being refereed by guys who wouldn't know traveling if it was announced on the JumboTron.) My mother called over the weekend to ask about coming to visit for the Munchkin's first birthday. It completely caught me off-guard. On the one hand, it only seems like a few days since he was a teeny little guy looking up at me from his sling - the fact that he's almost mobile is astonishing. On the other hand, the idea that, only a year ago, we had not met him yet, is equally unbelievable to me. OBs and people who have been pregnant measure a pregnancy in weeks. Just about everyone else measures in months. Pregnant women themselves measure by milestones - finding out, hearing the heartbeat, feeling the first kick, seeing their belly-buttons vanish, feeling the baby drop down. Given how much a crap-shoot it is to even determine a due date, it seems to me that these sorts of milestones make a lot more sense in measuring that time. When you're gardening, a lot of the instructions on seed packets tell you to "plant after last danger of frost," or "start indoors n days before last frost, then transplant outdoors after danger of frost has passed." Being a geek, I tend to have to hunt around online to find out when that tends to be in Ohio, and then count backward. Best I can tell, the best gardeners don't do this. Like expectant mothers, they look at the other milestones in the garden and use them to gauge how warm the ground is, how ready the weather. Watching for these natural signals (today's word of the day: "phenology") can tell you that the best time to attack the crab grass in your lawn is just as the forsythia are starting to flower, or that peas are best planted when the daffodils bloom. As I start preparing for the baseball draft, perusing seed catalogs, and watching my son struggle to crawl, I shall try to keep in mind that, regardless of any structure we try to impose on time, it has its own ideas. Maybe it's best to just roll with it, and let those without clocks and calendars tell us how to proceed.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Unseasonably warm

As out-of-touch as I am with the cycle of the seasons of late, I am pretty certain that 54F is unusually warm for a January evening. Tomorrow we're slated to get into the 60s, which is downright ludicrous. Anyhow, given the balminess and the fact that the Munchkin took a three hour nap this afternoon, I decided to take on some long-overdue cleanup outside - specifically, cleaning up all the pots on the front porch. It's really easy to get blasé about them, since they are under cover and the odds are pretty decent that they would survive the winter anyhow, but the pots of dead plants (and a decidedly ex-pumpkin) just made the house look abandoned. Anyhow, the pots are now happily ensconced in the garage, and everything else is in the compost pile. If the weather holds for Tuesday, I might do some pruning around the yard. What else do real gardeners do in January warm spells? I also made brisket tonight for dinner. Other than using an extra garlic clove and substituting a few shallots when I ran short of onion, I actually stuck to the recipe, which is really unusual for me unless we're testing something for Cooks Illustrated. Anyhow, it was amazing. I'd chosen this weekend to do it because it takes four hours or so and I thought it would be nice for the cold weather. Well, it works in warmish weather too. And the beef was spectacular. If we ever get some freezer space back, I'll be ordering another one. Meanwhile, perhaps seconds are in order?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Should we talk about the weather?

My recollection of Januaries growing up is that it was always very cold and extremely snowy. Now maybe it's the result of global warming, or maybe it's because I've moved a few hours south (not a significant change in a lot of ways, but far enough to move us out of the reach of the lake effect). Or perhaps my memory of the winters of my youth has been colored by the blizzard of '78. Whatever the reason, I suspect the Munchkin will have a different memory of how winter goes. "Yeah, it was always cold and sunny and snowy on weekdays, but then on the weekends it would rain and all the snow would melt." Such is the curse of the child with a new sled for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Of Blogs and New Beginnings

Once upon a time, I had a blog. It was one of those all-purpose blogs where I would jot down things about my life as they happened. Then, as so often becomes the case, life got busy enough that I ran out of time to post. Actually, that's not quite fair - it was not just that I was too busy to post, but that the things that were happening either seemed too big or too small to commit to the interwebs.

In the intervening months, while I was on this unplanned hiatus, a whole lot of life happened. In no particular order, I had a child (now more than 8 months old), that child acquired a few cousins, some friends got married, others got separated or divorced, I stopped teaching in the interest of actually getting my thesis done, cut back to part-time at school, and seriously questioned whether or not I want to continue in musicology after the MA. I still enjoy musicology, love teaching (except the grading), and sometimes really enjoy research, but I felt like I was missing out on too much of the Munchkin's life, and frankly too much of my own.

Looking back on some of my posts to the old blog, although many still ring true (the quality of student papers is an eternal headache), many seem to have been written by someone else. I no longer have the urge to post about politics or social causes, much as I still care about them. At some point I'll no doubt want to write about music for fun, but at the moment it's a job, and I like my blog to be an escape of sorts. I'm no longer teaching, so I cannot really write about that, and while motherhood is turning into quite a journey, the ins and outs of diapers, breastfeeding, sleep problems and the like are really only interesting if it's your child. Besides, I know how embarrassed I am by some of the home movies my mother took when I was a baby - can you imagine having all that detail out there in the ether for eternity? The Munchkin would be in therapy for years.

One goal for the new year (I refuse to call it a resolution) is to pay more attention to the changes around me as the seasons progress. What is in bloom, what is poking up through the ground, what is dying off, what birds are visiting the feeder, what fruits and vegetables are at their best? This is where I will be doing that. It may eventually turn into a real garden blog, as the yard eventually turns into a real garden, but that will undoubtedly be a slow process. It will, I hope, be interesting.

Happy 2008, all.