Hope The Worms Don’t Turn

Shakespeare wrote,

“To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.”

I have firsthand knowledge that worms are too little (and slimy) to fight back against attackers.

You just have to flick them back with a stick.

Or paint them with salt.  They don’t like that.

If you do tread on them, they stay tread on.  Or dead on.  And squished.  I know because I stepped on them in bare feet.

We have to be careful around the worms.  They are more than just our new pets…they’re Zombiegirl’s science project.

When I was in school, it was always a chore to figure out what type of project to do for the Science Fair.  There was always the potato-acting-like-a-battery project and the music-affecting-plant-growth project.  One year I measured how fast carnations and celery sucked up blue water.  Another year Kathy, Caroline and I did fruit fly gestation and genetics.  The following year, Caroline and I raised and kept mosquitoes.  THAT was fun at feeding time…

It seemed we (I) weren’t too smart back then.

When the girls had to pick their projects, it was the same chore.  I remember one year Beena wanted to experiment on the effect temperature had on worms.  Her teacher nixed the idea- it was cruel to freeze worms.  Their projects were so uninspiring I can’t for the life of me remember any of them.

I dread Science Fair time.

Z-girl came home a few weeks ago and said she had to pick her topic for the fair.  My stomach clenched until she told me there was an online survey she had to do to see what topic was “right” for her.  She filled out about 30 questions and they gave her five suggestions, one of which was vermicomposting.  She was intrigued.

Wow.  I guess my ecological ways have rubbed off on the little one.

My friend Soulspeak did vermicomposting awhile ago, and I was intrigued about it back then.  Zombiegirl and I googled “worm composting” and watched a video on Youtube from the Compost Guy.  Yes, this would be doable.

I had to sign a waiver to Z-girl’s science teacher that stated I would pay for all materials and that my family wouldn’t mind the presence of living things in our house.  Hey- it’s all for science, right?  Bonus points because now I wouldn’t have to trek all my compostable waste out back behind the “barn” each morning.  I signed happily.

Once the teacher approved her topic, we set out looking for worms.  Seems the best worms are red wigglers and there are HUNDREDS of places you can buy a pound of worms on the internet.  Who knew there was money in worm farming?

A pound of worms, by the way, is approximately 1,000 wigglers.

We found the best price at Worms Etc.  Matt also has an excellent blog and is available to answer any questions.  His forum is up-to-date with questions asked by other newbie worms handlers.  I paid my $19.95 and we waited for the big day. 

In the meantime, Z-girl drilled holes in bins, tore up newspaper, broke down egg cartons (not the horrible styrofoam ones) and started weighing our kitchen scraps.  Her science question is: How much waste can 1,000 worms consume in two months?  She sprayed the bedding and the food with water and made the bins nice for her worms to move in.

Our guest arrived about four days later (they have to ship promptly so the worms don’t get hung up at post offices and dry out). MR and Z-girl introduced these little guys into their shiny, smelly new home.  Z-girl was promptly grossed out.  This is a kid that would pick up any bug and study it for hours but these little guys were way beyond her gross-out level.  She wouldn’t (and still won’t) touch them- she flicks them back when they try to escape with a stick MR gave her.  They dubbed it the “Science Stick”.  She “paints” a line of salt water around the rim just under the holes so they don’t cross it to escape.  But they’re quick, these guys.  We’ve lost about 20 of them trying to make a jailbreak.  Zombiegirl was concerned about the numbers, but I told her the pound of worms MAY have had more than 1,000 in it, so not to worry. 

Who’s going to count them?

They’re now munching away on all the leftovers we used to feed the dogs (except for the meat and milk products) and Z-girl keeps track of how much she throws in the bins.  Right before the science fair, the plan is to take everything out of the bin that wasn’t digested and weigh that to determine how much these worms pigged out on. 

We’re going to need more science sticks.

Update: MR just sent me a picture in an email.  Subject: Wrms.  This word really doesn’t need vowels, does it?


My Chocolate Lab

When our Lola dies, I want to string her up and slit open her belly, just like a great white shark.  I’m curious to see what comes spilling out.

From the minute we brought her home, Lola has been eating things other than her kibble.  She chewed (and swallowed) the normal puppy things- shoes, squeeky toys, bones, Zombiegirl’s stuffies, books, remote controls- you know, normal stuff.  But as she grew, she set her sights on loftier goals.  Specifically, anything on the dining room table, counter and hutch.

Lola was a rebound pet.  When our beloved Lexi passed away at 12 weeks, we went back to Northshore Animal League bereft and pissed off.  Armed with the vet’s report, we brought Zombiegirl with us looking for answers. Or a refund.  Or another dog.

We should have just cut our losses.

Lola was the most active in the bunch of newly-fixed black lab puppies.  All the rest of them were moping around, flopping over each other.  MR stuck his fingers in the cage and of course, true to form, Lola started nibbling his fingers.  He was hooked.

We should have run the other way.

(Why does North Shore specialize in these black labs?  I’ve run into this dog so many times around the Island and the owners all say they got them at North Shore.  And they’re all mostly crazy.)

Puppy life was normal for Lola.  Zombiegirl became her best friend and oftentimes the two of them would be found sound asleep together on the couch.  Lola still sleeps in either Z-girl’s or Beena’s bed.  Or on the couch.  She chewed through many a dog toy, finding the stuffed dog toys especially tasty.  Natural progression led her to seek out Z-girl’s stuffed animals.  I can’t tell you how many times we would come home to find the house strewn with stuffing or worse, those little styrofoam ball thingys.

When she was about a year old, Lola found she could stand on her back legs and reach things on the counter.  A few weeks before Christmas that year, I received a gift basket at work from one of my vendors.  I brought all the boxes home- Italian cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, boxes and boxes of candies, chocolate covered nuts- really nice packaged treats I was planning on setting out for my annual Cookie Exchange party.  I put them all on our dining room hutch, way in the back, and went about my business.

I don’t remember where we went, but I remember coming home a few nights later with the family to what I could only describe as a gluttonous disaster.  Cookie boxes, cellophane, dented tins and candy cups covered every inch of the living room floor.  And our dear Lola, sitting in the middle of it all, tail wagging and belly two sizes too big.  We estimated she ate approximately eight pounds of chocolaty things.

Yes…I know chocolate can be deadly to dogs.  It contains a caffeine related substance called theobromine which can sicken or kill a dog.  Chocolate is more likely to give a dog a bad stomach ache than kill them, but if the dog ingests high enough levels, it can be fatal.

What, eight pounds wasn’t enough?

Our dear Lola didn’t die, she was just hyperactive for days.

We learned that night to keep everything up and out of her way.  Sometimes, though, we would forget and come home to find a loaf of bread missing (pieces of the wrapper left behind) or a pack of gum chewed to pieces (I often wondered if she farted, would she blow bubbles?)  Every time she caused an infraction, she would be sent to the bathroom as punishment.  We needed her out of the way so we could clean up the mess and wait for the urge to kill her to go away.  One night, after she got into a whole bag of hamburger buns I needed for dinner that night, we left her in the bathroom until after we ate.  When we let her out, we saw the destruction on the bathroom floor.

She ate one of MR’s disposable razors.

I’ll let that one sink in…

The plastic was chewed to pieces and (mostly) spit out.  The razor blade itself was a tangled, chewed mess on the floor.  MR pointed out that it was a double razor blade.  We looked all over for that second blade, but came to the conclusion in was consumed.  We debated whether to take her to the vet, but since it was such a small piece of metal and she had all those rolls in her stomach, we decided to watch for blood and then take action.

No blood.  The damn dog was fine.  Perky even. 

Over the years, she’s gotten hold of a few more razors (all blades afterwards accounted for) even though MR puts them up high where we think she can’t reach.  If you’ve seen this dog jump, you’ll understand why nothing really is safe unless it’s behind locked cabinet doors.  The crime is usually committed the MINUTE we shut the front door.  We’ve walked to the car then turned back remembering something we’ve forgotten and she’s already started on the appetizer course.  She’s eaten steel wool, balloons, countless baseballs (ingesting the leather first, then the wool strings then chewing (into bits and bits and bits) the cork center), soccer balls, ice cubes, garbage, plastic containers (which was used to store food then put in the refrigerator), aluminum foil, peanut butter jars, potato chip bags (with the potato chips still in them) and,  grossest of all, used feminine hygiene products and dirty undies out of the hamper.

Lately, we’ve been really diligient in keeping everything off the counter.  Food in plastic is not safe as is anything packaged in aluminum.  Last week, after a shopping trip, I had cans of tomatos and boxes of mac and cheese on the counter, waiting to be put downstairs on the storage shelves.  Since they never go downstairs immediately, they sat on the counter for a few days.

Lola must have felt the pull.  Who would have thought a dog could smell artificial processed cheese through the package and the cardboard box.

Our living room was a nice powdered orange when we got home.  At least she didn’t eat the elbow macaroni.  Much.

The last straw was Tuesday night.  I bought six boxes of devil’s food cake mix for this weekend- Halloween ghost and pumpkin cake pops for the soccer teams, birthday cupcakes for Beena and owl cupcakes for MR’s soccer team (the WH Owls) and for Kansas to bring to work.  I have a lot of baking to do this weekend.  I don’t need grief.

Grief is Lola’s middle name.  Thanks, Lola.  I could understand eating a BAKED cake, but the dry cake mix itself?  Right out of the box? Then the box itself?  She left chocolate dust everywhere downstairs and then took the party upstairs to Beena’s room.  I found chocolate pawprints in the hallway, for crumb’s sake. 

If she wasn’t such a good watchdog, she’d be living in the bathroom permanently.  I’m looking for a crate.  A solid steel crate,

because I know she’ll chew through anything else.

NaBloPoMo #15- Guest Post! Spencer and Lola

Today’s guest posters (since none of my other friends wanted to post) are Lola and Spencer. Lola’s the black beast, Spencer’s the yellow one. Yeah, um.

lola: momma and ppppa and little one have been gone for three days. why didn’t they take lolagirl?
spencer: dunno. you hungry? i hungry. i want steak and fish and carrot and apple and chicken and cookie and…look… a fly!

lola: momma and poppa left big girl here to take care of us. she doesn’t let lolagirl into her room to sleep anymore because the big noisy box is on. it’s nice and cold in big girl room now. i like nice and cold! where did momma and pappa and little one go? sigh.

spencer: that fly really fly fast. too fast for me to eat. what do you want to do, lolagirl?

lola: did momma and poppa go to the house with the big water? i love the big water. i love to jump into the big water and swim and swim and swim. they when i come out i roll on the sand and roll and roll and roll. poppa calls me a chicken cutlet.

spencer: what’s a cutlet? ow!

lola: spencerboy, when you sneeze you have to stand up. that’s why you keep hitting your head. silly boy.

spencer: i have to pee. wait, let me drink more water. okay. i still have to pee. wait, let me drink more water. i have to pee.

lola: big girl always yell at you. you don’t wipe your face after you drink. silly boy.

spencer: [thump, scratch, thump, scratch]

lola: spencerboy, you have to take your foot out of your ear after you scratches. that’s why you fall down- only three feet on floor! oh, where momma poppa little one?

[patter heard upstairs]

lola: ooh. fishy food. yum.

[bigger patter heard upstairs]

spencerboy: why you eating fishy food again, lolagirl? you get sick and everyone yell at you and tell you to go into the bathroom and i don’t see you for a long time and i get sad and start to whine…oh look- there’s a fly.

lola: my tummy hurts. too much fishy food. i feel better if i eat bathroom garbage. yum.

spencer: [thump] ow.

lola: spencerboy you can’t chase a fly up the wall, you hit your head too much.

spencer: no, my head too hard. i bit my tongue. i need to go drink some water. where is everybody? i don’t have anyone to follow around!

lola: i don’t know- they packed fuzzy warm bags and that pop-up doggie house. i wish they come home soon. i’m tired of playing with you. where’s maggie magee?

spencer: i want something to chew on. i needs bone. where’s the bone? oh look- it’s the little fuzzy thing.

lola: that’s maggie magee, stupid spencerboy. let’s chase!

Maggie: You cretins. What are you two stupid canines up to? Don’t you know the Hoomans went into the woods to go camping? I heard the Male Hooman say they were going camping. Even though I don’t know what that is, that’s where they are. The Female Hooman was playing with the washing machinery all last week. Why don’t you two jugheads try to find them? Try to get out and go after them. I’ll cover for you with Big Girl Hooman. Go on!

lola: silly maggie magee. big girl turn lock on all doors and shut all windows. we can’t go out unless she lets us.

spencer: i need to go out now. i need to pee. and poop. and poop. and pee. wait- i can go right now. that rug looks good…

lola: no no no spencerboy. big girl will yell at you, oh…oh…ew…never mind. i guess we just wait for momma poppa little one to come home. i’ll just sleep here, on the couchy.

spencer: make room for me. i want something softy to sleep on. oh look, there’s a fly.

Thanks to Miss Banshee at Inverse Candlelight for the idea of posting the pet’s thoughts. Her kitties are much, much smarter than our dumb dogs.

A Few Things Before My Life Gets Back on Track

I start work on Monday. I had three nice weeks of unemployment. No, I really only had six days of unemployment. The rest of the three weeks I was off courtesy of UBS. They escorted me out of the building on April 23rd, but my last day of employment was May 7th.

I start my new/old job with Cushman & Wakefield. Doing what I was doing and where I was doing it when UBS fired me. My boss called me the other day (after I was home for two weeks- whatever!) and asked me if I was going to be coming back bitter. Why would I be bitter? I recieved 33 weeks severence, four weeks paid vacation, got three weeks off and still got a job after all that. Not bitter- bittersweet. I’m going to miss putting Zombiegirl on the bus in the morning, being there for her when she gets home and doing homework with her in the afternoons. But I have to bring home the bacon.

Mmmmm. Bacon. Only had it once while I was home.

I wanted to blog alot while I was off, but I was too damn busy. Here’s a recap and some updates:

  • Killer the Fish seems to have made a complete recovery. He’s no longer swimming upside down, or hanging out on the bottom of the bowl. It was like he had a mini stroke for awhile. He’s active now, swimming around like normal. Thank God. We almost flushed him twice.
  • My hallway upstairs, which is the size of a room since we raised the ceiling after it collapsed on the kids and Lola, is almost finished. I can taste it. Pictures will go up on the blog next week. It makes me happy to go up there.
  • Zombiegirl’s room is being painted. It’s a most awesome blue. I should be finished with it next week also.
  • My man Parker‘s Dad and Zombiegirl’s soccer coach, Jason, hurt his leg showing the girls a follow-through at soccer practice yesterday. And ended up in the ER. This put a damper on our night-the girls were supposed to go out drinking. Oh well, as long as he’s not seriously hurt. He seems to get hurt alot. He screwed up his hand last Memorial Day weekend at our house in Riverhead cheating at tug-of-war! Get well soon, Jason!
  • I’ve planted my vegetables, herbs and flowers I got at Z-girl’s school and the St. Andrew’s Youth Group plant sale. I’m now growing Mint, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Eggplant, Peppers, Peas and Tomatoes. We’ve planted Chamomille and Cilantro from seed and they’re just starting to come up! If you know where I live, you’ll know I have very little sun on our property. I was out there every hour on the hour evaluating my sun situation. We get about 5-6 hours of full spring sun in the morning, and dappled sun after that. Hopefully that will be enough for our little plants to grow. I’m planting more herbs from seed today.
  • I’m the new webmaster for St. Andrew’s church! I’m learning as I’m going. Rob got me a copy of Microsoft’s Sharepoint (ha!) Designer and I’ve successfully copied from the already established webiste onto Designer by .ftp. I’m fiddling around with some layouts and changes- all advice is welcome! I’ll link when we’re up and running. Go me!
  • Mother’s Day was hard. I suffered two losses recently which made celebrating this holiday tough. Thankfully, my wonderful sister-in-law Paula had us over to her house to celebrate my niece Lily’s 2nd birthday. My other SIL Laura, my MIL Johanna and Paula’s MIL Gerry all celebrated being mothers/grandmothers/godmothers/aunts. My other niece Samantha and nephew Raymond made me forget my woes for a little while. (I really have to blog about these kids- they are adorable!) So a really nice party and really great gifts from my family made this Mother’s Day bearable. Thanks guys!
  • I got my bike fixed. And got one of those holders added to the back. MR then put saddlebags on the back for me to tote stuff back and forth- to the library, Stop N Shop or church. I’m going to try to either walk or ride whenever going anywhere in the neighborhood.

I enjoyed being a SAHM for awhile, but it’s back to the real world. The daily grind. The treadmill. I’ve downloaded a lot of songs onto my iPod so that the commute will be bearable. Now if I can figure out something to make WORK bearable.

Try saying Eft…

Zombiegirl’s goldfish, Killer, is on his last legs. I mean, fins. She thought he had died last Thursday, and cried the requisite tears before school. I told MR when he got out of the shower that Killer was dead, so he went upstairs to dispose of the body. And promptly came back down to report that he was still breathing. When Z-girl got home from school, she was upset that she wasted the tears for nothing.

So today, we have another death, and she comes down upset. MR goes upstairs and this time brings the whole bowl down. Nope, still breathing. The little bug-eyed redhead looks extremely tired, though. He’s resting on the rocks on the bottom. But he’s still holding on. We prepare Z-girl for the inevitable- he will die soon.

She comes in to me and asks me if she can get a newt. Now we’ve had hermit crabs, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, cats and dogs, but never reptiles. The older girls were too girly for the scaliness of lizards or turtles. They liked the furry. But Z-girl is all about dinosaurs, and reptiles are little pocket sized dinosaurs. Newts are lizards without the scales.

I personally like newts and salamanders. When I was a kid, we went camping in Florida, and I caught a newt and brought it all the way home in an orange juice concentrate can. When we got home, we put it in a tank, and put it in the kitchen. This being December, however, my dad turned on the heat when we got home. We didn’t realize that mom put the tank on the radiator, and we created a little hot tub for the poor guy. The next day my little newt was soup meat.

So I tell Z-girl to ask Daddy, since I wouldn’t mind having a little newt. She goes into the kitchen and I hear the following conversation:

“Daddy, can i get a newt?” She asks in her sweetest voice.
“A new what?” he replies.
“A newt! Newt!”
“A flute? You already have a flute!”
(I think he’s on to her.)
“No Daddy, a newt!”
“You want to get nude? Then take your clothes off!”
“Newt, Daddy, newt!”
“I heard you- nude! Why do you want to get nude?”
The whole time she’s laughing that laugh only Daddy can produce. Total abandon, as if this is the funniest thing in the world. She knows he’s kidding with her, and I listen to this exchange between them and laugh too. Daddy is the funniest person in the world, according to her, ahead of Tyler, even! (One of my dear soccer mom’s kids, who is in her class.)
Did Daddy say yes? Well, conditionally. She has to do a little research online to see what a newt needs. Daddy told her she would be buying grief- that the newt will die and she’ll get upset over that, too. So we’ll see. She has to grieve for her fishy, first.