Monday, December 27, 2010


There is this honeymoon of motherhood, when the child is around 4 to 7 years old, when they are sweet and everything is perfect.  They love you.  They even like you.  They are soft and sweet and want to hug you all the time.  They are kind, positive, encouraging, friendly, helpful.  Alas, my last little baby will be seven in only three days.  I can feel her warmth slipping away.

I am sure she will still love me, and of course I will always think of her as that same soft, precious thing.  But like new baby smell, when it is gone, it is gone.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Lesson in Dependence

Yesterday I broke my iPhone.  You heard me:  smashed it to bits.  No, silly, of course not on purpose.

Today I receive my lessons in dependence.  I am humbly reminded that a) we can all get stranded at any moment and b) losing your phone does not make you actually stranded or helpless.

Alarm:  I started the day to a sweet little beeping alarm.  Not my brand new, birthday gift, Sony Dream Machine, waking me up to rockin' tunes from my iPhone.  And my daughter's Sony Dream Machine ca. 1988 which has woken me up for the intervening 2 decades, faithfully, with the most horrible rrrnt-rrrnt-rrrnt every morning.  I can hear it all the way downstairs.

Time:  Good thing Lyn just got both of my watches fixed.  For 18 hours now, I've been wondering what time it is.  I just went to dig one out.

Grocery List:  I wonder what we need from the store?  Chicken...something...something.  I still have paper.  Better write this stuff down.  Who knows what I'm forgetting?

Time Management:  I won't be calling and emailing Booster volunteers while waiting for my kids to get out of school.  I guess I'll have to take care of that at home.  Wanna find me?  Guess you'll just have to leave me a voicemail.  I'll have to make time to listen to those...

Notes:  going to put that notebook back in my purse.  I usually carry it, but recently thought I didn't need it anymore.

Camera:  I can't even take a photo of the damage to share with my friends on facebook.  *sigh*  Funny thing is, that's the first impulse I had.  To take a picture of it, call my husband and ask him what to do while I was standing in the Apple store.

Phone:  I said I needed a phone to call my husband, and the salesman didn't even know what I was talking about.  I laughed, and repeated, this time more specifically, "Can I borrow your phone?"  Good thing I actually know his number, from the early days.  And I know my mom's.  If you are not one of those people, I am not calling you.  I don't know your number.

Calendar:  I think my daughter has some sort of recital today.  And we have something tonight, but I don't know when, exactly.  And I thought there was something else.  My fragmented, multi-tasked-to-death mind can't remember like it used to.  Good thing I have a...

Maps:  I have to get directions to iCracked.  So I can get my phone fixed. Anyone know where Murray St. is? 

I'll have to remember to wear clothes with better pockets (so my phone doesn't fly out) and learn some important phone numbers.  Like my son's.  And my best friends'.  And the school's.

Worst of all, Apple says it will be $200-$500 to fix or replace it, depending.  Yikes!!  Let's hope iCracked is all it's cracked up to be!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Garden Project, Part 4

Well some things are growing, anyway.  Alas, the lettuce didn't come up, even after a second sowing, but the rest is looking nice.  I spent a hard day weeding the other day (the weeds are relentless!!), but it was worth it, because now my garden looks decent enough for a photo.  It's really scruffy looking without the shade trees, but what can we do?

The volunteer sunflowers are craazy, but I decided to just let them stay.  :)  There are several at the row ends.  Good placement!  The tomatoes are growing, and I had to pull a bunch out of the furrows with the weeds.  (Compost tomatoes, perhaps?)  I borrowed some seeds from a friend and planted purple beans, radishes, lettuce (again), chard and onions.  I got another parsley plant to replace my poor transplant that didn't make it and some strawberries too.  The lettuce in the box didn't germinate, neither sowing, so I gave up and planted strawberries.  We'll see if it grows in the row.
The landlords next door did a number on our shade bushes.  They completely hacked an entire row of 20 foot bushes that shaded our studio, workshop and their own tenants houses, leaving us all in the heat of full afternoon sun and without privacy.  BOO!!  Additionally, the bushes (trees?) were holding up a falling down fence that we had propped up with a 2x4.  Now it's leaning the other way precariously, and looks like it could fall down any minute.  Slugs are eating the basil, potato and pepper plants, so I confess I BugGetta'd them.  The pumpkins are doing great (as pumpkins will do), and the cucumbers are growing up too.  I was weeding in the watermelon area to plant beans, since the watermelons didn't germinate, when I found a bunch of tiny 2-leaf sprouts.  I realized too late that they might be watermelons, and the two or three left might not make it.  But I halted the bean operation anyway, and we'll see.  They were under the drip hose, and completely invisible!
The grass is growing in nicely, but so area lots of stickery weeds.  They will have to GO!  Also, the day I made the lettuce boxes, I finally cut the pot off that poor tree and planted it.  It was easy!  After my mom and I cleaned up the dead leaves & spider webs, it looks pretty good too!  I added a mini date palm next to it.  I don't know if that's a good place for it or not, but it's the best location I had, and I just love those!  The large artichoke isn't doing very well, but it's sprouting a smaller one from the base, so they'll all be the same size next spring.

Grateful Beads

There's one shop I forgot to mention in my Eco Fashion bit.  Grateful Beads!  These ladies make the sweetest, girliest little things for girls and ladies, and at very reasonable prices.  These are perfect for a little girl's birthday gift or something for yourself.  They do not currently have all the pretty little rose and flower necklaces and earrings up, but I'm hopeful that they will.  For $5, you can buy the prettiest little beaded necklace for a girl, with handmade glass charms and lampwork beads.  They also sell flower wands and hairclips too!  Check 'em out:  If you'd like the children's items, you may need to email and request them or wait for them to go up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's a good thing I was wearing makeup

It's a good thing I chose to wear makeup last night.  At the last minute, I thought, hey, there's going to be lots of people there, let's fix up the hair and put on a little lipstick.

Good thing.  Because I found myself at the front of the room with a microphone, saying the words I never dreamed I'd ever say:  "I'm Sunshine Cowgill, and I'm your Booster Club President for next year.  T-shirts are on sale in the back of the room."  That was what was on my cue cards.  I swear.  I just repeated what I was supposed to say.  I was a little shocked, but what could I do?  All those people were in there, potentially looking at me as I mouthed the words..."  ".  Yeah, that's right, I was speechless.

How did this happen, you might ask?  Good question.  One day, I received two separate phone calls from current Booster members saying that they thought I'd be a great president next year and asking if I'd consider running.  I was floored.  I mean, I couldn't even get elected to student body secretary in 6th grade, let alone anything where I had to actually do something.  Truth is, I was really flattered.  I didn't imagine anyone would ever think of me for something like that.  But the honor is a little dubious, since no one else wants the job.  Not a lot of competition to beat out.  Still, I do feel honored. 

But I also feel unqualified.  So I said thank you, but no.  Not just speaking modestly and saying I'm unqualified, but actually unqualified.  I don't know anyone here, have no ties to the community, and most importantly:  I don't know how PTO's and PTA's work.  I don't know how school districts work.  And I'm already doing all I can do in a day and more. I say inappropriate things.  I swear.  Hell, I need adult supervision.

So how did I step on their trap?  How did I not see the smirks on their faces?  I swear there were smirks.  I knew something was up, but I didn't think I'd fall for it.  Guileless, I just repeated the words.  It's true, I was tricked.  But I could have simply not said it.  I could simply have said, "I'm so sorry, I can't do it."  But the truth is that no one else would step up and do it.  Okay, maybe someone would.  But who?  When?  I was worried that my son's school wouldn't have a Booster Club President, for Goodness sake.

People, there are doers and do-noters.  There are commitmentphobes.  There are full-time employed single parents.  But I have discovered that the amount of stuff a person has on his plate doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether or not they step up and volunteer for something.  People are just simply leaderless, or maybe they are fearful of getting in over their heads, or they are selfish.

People, step up to the plate and help the world out.  There are jobs large and small that need doing, and no one is going to do them but you.  Don't be afraid to ask for a specific assignment, to ask how large of a commitment it is, to admit that you don't know what you're doing, but you'll try.  I suggested just this week that a woman I know start her own Girl Scout troop.  She said she didn't know how.  Well, shit, sister, neither did I.  But I survived half a year with 12 (now 9) tiny little Daisy Scouts.  (Okay, it nearly killed me, but still, I made it.)  Afraid that others will complain about your performance?  Who cares?  Do you see them volunteering?  All you have to do is simply say you are going to do something and then do it.  That's it.  No flaking out, obviously, you have to follow through.  Take the leap.  Say you'll do something.  And then do it.

Your child's school, baseball team, youth group, Scout troop, choir, friends need you.  I am not just doing this because my son's school didn't have a president.  I am doing this because your son's school didn't have a president.  I was already volunteering, I was already doing.  Now I am doing more.  And you can too!  Don't be afraid, you can do it!  Every meeting, every gathering, every whatever, it's the same handful of people doing all the work.  Just because we are doing it doesn't mean you are off the hook.  Just because we are surviving doesn't mean that we don't need your skills, no matter how great or meager.

Sure, the meetings aren't that fun.  We don't have cocktails and play games.  It's business.  But it's business that needs doin'.  And plus, there are some really witty, fun people that I've met and become friends with.  I owe all my current local friendships to my involvement in some way or other with my children's education and activities.  I have fun at meetings.  (Prolly cuz I can't keep my mouth shut, but hey.)  I crack jokes.  They may or may not be funny, but I'm having fun, anyhow.  Who cares?  I show up.  This is all part of my life, part of what I do all day, and I actually think I'd miss it if I quit it all.  (Though I'd get a lot more sleep!)  Those moments driving across town, when you're talking to your kids in the rear-view mirror?  That's your life.  You are spending time with the people you love.  You are talking to them and teaching them and learning from them.  Those conversations with other parents after pick-ups and drop-offs, on the sidewalk, in the driveway?  That's your social life.  And I don't mean that in a bad way.  I mean, not every moment is a red carpet moment.  Not every evening is a sunset on the beach evening.  There is a great deal of joy to be had in the little transitions when you see your friends and spend time with your children.  These are smell-the-roses opportunities.  There are actual roses by the sidewalk, know what I mean?

I don't know if I can do this job.  But one thing's for sure:  they must be desperate, because they asked me.  So I'm doing it.  Maybe I won't have time and some things will slip through the cracks and someone somewhere will be angry with me.  Hopefully it's not someone who either pays me or whom I care about.  On the other hand, maybe I'll be a great president. 

People, it's time for you to show up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eco-Fashion Favorites - or just Fashion Favorites

Every year I save up to do my shopping at the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California.  Here I can find beautiful, eco-friendly fashions that are not only practical, unique and stylish, but they fit and make me feel pretty!  Now that the hippies are on the technobandwagon, I am happy to announce that all my favorites are available online.  This is American ingenuity and labor, and much of the materials are American-grown and milled. :-) Isn't that nice for a change??

Might I recommend:

Xylem features pixieish designs in gorgeous foresty colors. Most items seem to be non-GMO soy and organic cotton, but there are some hemp silk options too and maybe others. This brand looks amazing on slender women, but it looks great on me too! Sexy, sophisticated and totally unique. These guys have a smooth operation, but don't let that fool you, they are still handmade in the USA. Xylem is also available on Etsy at  

Waxing Moon Batiks

This fun & funky brand is so cute for everyday, with simple styles that are differently-cut for a great fit. My favorites are the hemp skirts and gauchos/capris with pockets in the front. Don't be afraid of crazy colors - I've found that they look totally awesome with all my little tees, tanks and tops. Also available are superslinky soy tops and dresses, hemp silk things and cute accessories. Plus stuff for your hunky man. Handmade in Washington state. Betsy Cassell ( in the blue scarf) is the designer, and she's just a doll and one of the nicest people I've met! Intertwined Designs is also available on Etsy at

Intertwined Designs

This brand has been around a little longer than the others. In high school, I used to pine for the beautiful, jewel-hued velvet hippie clothes that the original designer, Moni Sumner, used to make and I could never afford on my fast-food wages. Now her daughter (Jessie Reynolds, pictured above) has taken over, and just look what she's done! Amazing creations, all handmade in organic cotton. These are sewn and batiked in Sonoma, California by the artist herself (well, there's a few American Apparel blanks, but they are at least made in the USA). She's got tons of amazing, stylish designs that are very wearable. Don't worry, they even go in the washer & dryer just fine. :-) Waxing Moon Batiks makes gorgeous things for women and children. Pick up a batik velour tank dress for your little girl - every one comes with a tiny, matching purse, and she is guaranteed to love this dress that doubles as a jumper when the weather is cool! Waxing Moon Batiks is also available on Etsy at

Don't know about Etsy? You should really check it out! is the largest online marketplace of handmade goods and supplies to handmake your own goods. This isn't Ebay. These are serious artists that present beautiful thing beautifully. :-) Support art and craft by buying it and surrounding yourself with it; your life will be richer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Morning Run

Don't laugh.  I ran.  Twice.  lol.  Here's the view from my run.

Do you think the natives are friendly?

The babies sure were cute. :-)

Um.  Moo?

Now there's some contrast.

The architecture in this neighborhood is so cool.  Wait...where am I?  Well, I can't be too far from home, I ran here, right??

More contrast.

Teeny Baptist Church

So I'm running along and I notice finally that these tiny hopscotch squares are numbered.  They are too small for anyone's foot, but they keep going and going.  So I got curious how high they counted.  I turned around and ran back...all the way back to the end of the block!  There were 600 individually numbered chalk squares, in three different colors.

Okay, there's no trail here?  I really kept expecting a trail to materialize.  Okay, so this is probably trespassing...and a really good way to get ticks.

Ahh.  How hot can I get this sucker??

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thick Skin

So my daughter says to me, "You're not fat, mommy.  You have really thick skin."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

They didn't play like they were losing.

They didn't play like they were losing.  They had only 11 players, and at least one of them was hungover with only 2 hours of sleep.  But we only had 12, with one sick and one on a 48 hour fast.  That's dedication.  Fortunately for us, it took the whole first half for the much-feared Atlas to wake up and start shutting down our offense.  We were all tired.  We'd all gotten up at dawn for this match.  They never let up, and it was a really good time.

I always thought of soccer as a liesure activity.  When you're setting your alarm for 5:40 a.m. so that you can get up in time to be at the field at 7:00 to set up nets & lines on a Sunday, that's when you really have to question how serious you are about this sport.  We got there at 7, and set up the goals & nets.  Our opponents still hadn't showed at 7:45.  We were beginning to worry that we had gotten up early for a forfeit.  But they did show up after all, and with a full team of 11.  And we had a great game with the wind and clouds coming in, finally winning 5:1 just as it started to rain.

(Borrowed photo.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Garden Project, part 3

We finally got the garden going.  Here's a couple photos:
A friend once said to me, "$4.99 and you're a landscaping genius!"  That's in reference to the amazingly efficient beautification you can get with just a sack of wood chips for your flower beds.  Not only do they look and smell great, but they keep down weeds and help reduce evaporation of your precious irrigation water.  Now here is my new favorite garden-beautifying procedure:  cardboard/wood chip layering.  I got this idea from a book Melissa lent me, and I already forgot the name of the book.  The procedure is simple:  cover up all the weedy area you want to transform with cardboard.  Cover with fresh dirt and plant.  Voila!  Looks amazing!!  We used cardboard and wide roll paper on the artichoke area and covered it with a nice, thick layer of wood chips.  Just put the cardboard around my artichoke plants, so they are sticking up nicely.  Over time, the water & worms break down the paper, and it's all just weed-free dirt.  Added bonus:  the weeds become part of the organic matter.  :)  So far none have managed to get through the solid parts, just a couple around the edges.  In the front yard, we did it with cardboard and 3" of new soil over the top, then sowed wildflower seeds in the soil.  It smelled like manure for a week, but it looks fantastic!  And so easy!  Genius!!

Sowing carrots.  I have no idea why I look so serious.  Probably trying to balance over that fat row without falling on my rear!

I used the wood from the fence we took down to make some boxes.  I intend one for lettuce and the other for sweet peas.  :-)  The best part is that I did them all by myself, and Lyn wasn't even home.  So there!  I'm always thinking I need him around to do stuff, but I don't.

All filled with dirt and ready for seeds.

Two rows of tomatoes:  Celebrity, Early Girl and Cherry Tomatoes.  One row of carrots.  Three to go.

The weeds are down, and we're watering grass seed.  The walk is wood-chipped.  The lettuce  boxes are made, filled and planted.  Now I just have to get the last 3 rows planted and try not to forget to water.  And try not to forget to turn OFF the water!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quote of the Day

Gleaned from Facebook, from a very smart friend, from an even wiser lady:

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."— Eleanor Roosevelt

The Garden Project, Part 2

They say the invention of the plow changed human history.  It's no wonder why.  With $50 and a quick trip to United Rentals, we have transformed the yard.  I had intended to do it all myself, and didn't expect Lyn to help.  But that great axiom of manhood came into play, and once he discovered that it's a power tool, he wanted to play.

Compost.  Mmm compost.  My pile was probably about 1/2 yard total, and I started it over a year ago.  The fluffy stuff on top I moved over, but about half of it was decomposed enough to put on the garden.  And about 25-30% of it right in the middle was totally turned to dirt!  Yay!  Which led me to another interesting discovery.

Look at all these nice, big worms!  There were round ones, flat ones, red & black striped ones...itsty bitsy fuzzy little woooorrrrrmmmmssss....jk.  I was grateful to find them.  Sometimes in this yard it seems like all we have is black widows and potato bugs and ravens.  So much for wildlife!  lol.  We carefully picked them up and put them back on the new compost pile, where they dug in quickly.

Worm Girl

Okay, now the really interesting part.  Trader Joe's has "compostable" packaging for much of their produce.  I usually select it when available, because that's much better than uncoded plastic, kwim?  BUT, I'm wondering under what conditions this stuff will actually decompose.  These were at the center of 1/2 yard of compost, right in the part where everything had turned to dirt.  NOW, I didn't cut most of them up, many of them weren't in there all that long (average time probably ~4 months), and so on.  But many of these had been in there for some time.  All the material around them was at the very least noticeably decomposed.  One of them did get rained on once, and it looks a little mottled, like it might have melted if left underwater for a substantial amount of time.  All of the other packages remained completely unchanged.  That includes one that I buried in the garden, to see if it would decompose faster if it was underground.  That one had been in the center of the garden, so it was not only buried, but had been watered over and everything.  It came up with the rototiller, perfectly intact.  NO decomposition whatsoever.

Are Trader Joe's Compostable Containers a Hoax?

See all the dirt on them?  These were from the center of the pile!

We took down the fence dividing the yard too.  I didn't really want to, I had some grand plan to grow plants on it and make it a green wall to look at when sitting on the deck.  Lyn, the Lawn Hater, has decided he wants grass.  WTF?  Caius wants a lawn too, and so they are going to plant one.  We'll see.  Lyn complained about the cost of water for the turtle tank, so I can't imagine what he's thinking about putting in a lawn.  He bought seeds and everything, after much debate, advice and then just picking one at random, because every single package claimed to use 30% less water.  If they are all using 30% less, then I'd really like to know 30% less than what?  In the end I suggested a high-traffic mix, thinking that maybe it just might survive.  Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of...nevermind.  The fence was so rotten that it practically fell down as we were unscrewing the boards.

It's nice and open now, but of course now you can see how crappy the yard looks, so we'll have to actually make it nice and keep it that way.  It's going to be a challenge without a sprinkler or drip system, but we'll see how it goes.

Sonja the CalTrans Foreman.  Inspected everything, but touched nothing, except the worms.

My helpers

Here's my pretty tin chicken, with some gorgeous geraniums that Sonja picked out.  I started re-barking the walkway too.

And there's the garden plot - all ready for sowing!