Ronin is cat obsessed. She dressed as a cat for halloween (Jiji from ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service‘)—in fact, she dresses near-daily in the cat outfit. She is also Christmas tree-obsessed, so every year we get the tree as soon as humanly possible. She then spends about all her time underneath and behind it, organizing the bottom tiers of ornaments into unusual collections and shoving her dolls and stuffed guys deep into the foliage.
Every year I make a handful of new ornaments and this year’s collection is based on her favorite cat books, Jenny and the Cat Club, by Esther Averill.
So far, I’ve managed to finish only four of the main characters. Ronin abandoned the project after about five minutes; winding the limp paper mache around the tiny figurines was absurdly tedious. She stood next to me instead and plotted out which character I was to make next.
Jenny Linsky! She’s around 3″ tall.
Checkers & his retrieving ball!
Pickles the fire cat! I need to make his little firecap.
Ronin. This photo was taken by her friend’s babysitter, who rocks with a camera phone.
ps – Ronin wanted to say something, and that something is: “I’m a kitty-cat.”
The monkey grows; observe the evidence.
Last year we spent most of our home-owner energies making the inside of the house pleasant; this year, we’ve been focusing on the outside. I dreamed up the elaborate and non-standard fence situation you see in the back in exchange for a rusty, ivy-encrusted old chain link nastiness, which we ripped out and drove to the scrapyard for real cash money. It’s a mad world. Joshua nay-sayed my fence every step of the way but I prevailed and I think it turned out pretty nice looking. He even helped build it. Best part is I got a table saw out of the deal.
If fence building wasn’t making my spring awesome enough, I personally excavated a giant hole and leveled a large area for some garden beds. I decided we could turn the hole into a dry well, but it turns out that it held water too well and we had to fill it back in. But not before we terrified all the neighbors’ kids with tales of falling into the hole; Hans’ dog Otto actually fell into the hole and Ronin got hit in the head with a rock while standing in the hole. I’m not sure what it is about a yawning abyss in one’s backyard that creates such a focal point.
To make up for all the back-breaking labor I was missing out on by not finishing the dry well, I removed sod from an area the size of a small house and then excavated the rotting cinder-block foundation of an ancient garage. It was super fun. We even got some Craigslist crazies to come take the foundation blocks away! One guy even came back for seconds.
At long last, garden beds were erected, retaining walls retained, and a quaint brick walkway assembled around everything to keep the mud at bay. The walkway is comprised of bricks I got for free from some dude dismantling his chimney; they were all crusted with 90-year old mortar that I had to chip off with a really big screwdriver. Because nothing ever can possibly be simple. Or easy.
Finally we got a load of nice clean nice composty dirt (six yards!) and wheelbarrowed it all over the place. We now have a garden with tomatoes (five different ones!), cucumbers, zucchini, yellow and green patty-pan squashes, asparagus, rhubarb, peas, lettuce greens, arugula, and fennel! Yay!