Friday, September 29, 2006

About Paris

A post about Paris is under the one about the turtles. Evidentally they're published according to the date they're first written and saved, so it got put under the turtle one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why do turtles die?

My oldest granddaughter has the family affliction. She loves animals.

Unfortunately for her, her little brother is allergic to anything with fur, feathers, or basically a mammal or bird. That leaves reptiles and whatever turtles are.

A has been begging for turtles for the last year. Last week, her mommy bought two of the tiny salmonella-carriers from The Turtle Man who drives The Turtle Truck. A was as happy as I've ever heard her. She named them Tootsie and Cutsie. (These turtles are illegal in Florida, and probably in most other states, too.)

As it happened, her favorite was Cutsie. He was the smartest of the two, and of course was the cutest. Notice that I'm using the past tense.

Cutsie got sick yesterday morning with whatever ails turtles. My daughter (J) called The Turtle Company (I'm guessing here) and was told that they need to be outside in the sun for at least 12 hours each day. J had put them in a window, but she was told that filtered out whatever the turtles needed to stay healthy. So she took them outside into the hot Orlando sun.

Well, since they were in a tiny, maybe one-gallon tank, the water heated up pretty fast. When J checked, poor Cutsie was pretty much a goner. She didn't tell A about it, just told her after school that Cutsie wasn't feeling well. By this time, Tootsie was able to move only its head but was still alive. Barely.

She'd already ordered special things for the turtles, including special food and a UV-A and UV-B light, along with a replacement turtle. She was hoping that the replacement would show up before Cutsie floated off into the Great Pond in the Sky. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

A was talking to me when J told her that Cutsie was gone. A just wailed and was inconsolable. It's hard to be six and a half.

But within a few minutes she'd accepted it and was hoping that Cutsie II would be smart, too.

UPDATE: Two new turtles arrived this morning and are healthy (so far) and bouncing off the walls of the tank. And J gave Tootsie some of the vitamin paste and he immediately began swimming around the tank. He's now basking in the glow of his new heat lamp.

So far, so good. A will be getting home in ten minutes and will be a very happy little girl.

UPDATE UPDATE: Yesterday Tootsie wasn't doing much moving, but he wasn't dead. Yet. A and I didn't discuss him too much. "How's Tootsie today?" "Okay." "How's B2?" "I have no idea." "He still lives there, doesn't he?" "Yes." "Are you still excelling in math?" "We're not doing much math these days." "How about reading?" "We're not doing much of that either." "Have you written any more letters for me?" "No, we're about out of paper." Pretty much ended that conversation.

She's in the first grade, and I suspect that they are doing some of those.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Paris, at last!

So we got to Paris bright and early Friday morning, July 14. We managed to find the right Metro line and stop, and we walked out into the early morning light of Paris. As sleepy as I was (you know that I am not a morning person), I was thrilled to actually be in Paris. It was cool (probably mid-60s), the light was perfect, and somehow I managed to lose the photos I took on our way to the hotel.

What impressed me most was how clean everything was. The streets were being cleaned--washed, actually--and garbage trucks were picking up trash. Not so remarkable, you may say. But, remember, this is a national holiday and the street cleaners and garbage men were WORKING. You won't see that here in the good ol' USA.

There wasn't much traffic so we could stop and gawk as much as we wanted. It was just so cool to finally be in Paris. Strangely, all signs were in French, adding to the unreality of it all. We passed a huge marquee for a movie theater (advertising "The Da Vinci Code" in its original language--we really should have gone to see it before taking the tour), an internet cafe, a huge shopping center, and lots of little restaurants and a tiny grocery store before we came to our hotel.

We'd reserved our hotel (Timhotel Montparnasse) after getting a recommendation from my friend, Marie, who lives in Paris. It was €60 a night, has a bathroom in the room and not down the hall, and close to a train station and two Metro stops. She recommended it as safe and clean, and she was right. We loved it. It was on the second floor (1st to everyone but us) right next to a bar. Actually, it was between several bars, all of which spilled out onto the sidewalks, especially at night. The neon light for the hotel was right outside our window, and the streetlights were very bright, so we didn't need to turn on the lights in the room to find anything at night. There's no air-conditioning, but since the first two days and nights in Paris were cool, it was very comfortable.

The hotel was unusual, at least unusual to us. It was in two buildings separated by a restaurant; the lobby was two doors down the block. The hotel seemed to take up the top several floors of several buildings, but all of the upper floors couldn't be accessed by one entrance. The part we were in had two rooms on our floor and I don't know how many on the upper floors. The room on the bottom floor in our building was used as the breakfast room and also contained the elevator--a very very slow one--for our part of the building.

The first couple of nights it was really noisy, what with the bar crowds outside, loud music, and city traffic. But we were so tired that we slept anyway. The rest of the time we stayed there it was quiet, but it was a lot hotter.

We were to be met at our hotel at 8:45 by our tour guide. We waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally Tom had the concierge call the tour company. Good thing, because we'd have been waiting all day. We hadn't called 48 hours in advance to confirm the tour, even though it was guaranteed by a credit card and we'd received confirmation of its receipt. The tour was cancelled.

To say that I was unhappy is a gross understatement. The Da Vinci Code tour was something I'd wanted to take since I first heard of them two or three years ago. I loved the book and was really looking forward to seeing the exotic places where it took place. We'd figured that we wouldn't need to take any other tours in Paris, since this one would cover most of the famous spots that we wanted to see.

We got the address of and directions to the tour company and headed that way. Streets in that area were closed to traffic because the big Bastille Day parade was starting at 10 a.m. Great. Crowds of people and I was in a foul mood. Talk about the ugly American.....

To recap: Jet lag. Full, hot day in Germany, most of it walking. Hanging around train station late at night. Trying to sleep sitting up in uncomfortable seats with a stranger in the compartment. Having to be up and moving before 7 a.m. in a strange city. Needing to be at a certain place by a certain time when we didn't know where that place was. Having paid big bucks ($388) for a tour and gee whiz, I'm sorry, but you didn't call to confirm the tour, so we've cancelled it.

There's no excuse for my behavior that morning, but I'll give it a try. I was tired, I was tired, I was tired. There. Does that work for you? Me neither.

We'd planned to leave Paris Monday night after going to England for Stonehenge. The next DVC tour wasn't till the following Wednesday. Did I suck it up and behave like an adult? No. I wanted to take that tour b-a-d bad. So Tom gave up his dream to go to Normandy and see the beach that his father fought on. I got my way, and we signed up for the tour that took place five days later. We'd only planned on staying in Paris for 3 nights, but we ended up staying 5 nights. Bummer. What a rough life.

There was only one tour left that we could have taken that Friday, one to Givenchy. But I was too petulant to allow myself (and poor Tom) to enjoy something that wasn't that damn DVC tour. Tom asked me if I wanted to take a bus tour of Paris, but no, I didn't (I don't remember that part, but I don't think he'd lie about something as stupid as that. I don't think he'd lie to me at all.).

About that time there was a thunderous sound and the clerks ran out of the office yelling "the jets! The jets!" I looked around for Tattoo, but he was nowhere to be seen. It was the start of the Bastille Day parade. We were on the Rue de Rivoli, close to the Champs Elysee, and the parade went down the Champs Elysee and then split, with half going down one side of the Louvre and half going down the other side, the Rue de Rivoli.

So we went out and watched the half of the parade that came down our way. It was pretty impressive to see the French troops on their tanks and jeeps.

After the parade went by, we crossed the road to the Louvre and walked around the courtyard. We didn't attempt to go into the museum since we would see a very small part the following Wednesday. That really wasn't that smart, since we saw only the Mona Lisa and a few things on the fly on the tour. Anyway, the courtyard was beautiful. The Pyramid, the main entrance, is supposed to be a big deal and controversial; many Parisiens think it's ugly and doesn't fit. Well, it doesn't, but that's part of its charm. There are fountains that are mentioned in The Da Vinci Code, so I dutifully photographed the mist rising from their surfaces, just as Robert Langdon saw when he was taken to the museum late at night. Except this was in full sunlight.


The temperature that day and the next was just perfect. It was in the low 70s, very pleasant for walking. I saw some dogs and was happy.

One thing that impressed me was the number of armed guards around. They patrolled the Galleries Lafayette regularly, every day, not just on Bastille Day. (The Galleries is a shopping mall, and it is right across the street from our hotel. I planned to make a shopping trip there before we left Paris.) It was a little jolting to see uniformed men carrying what look like Uzis or something else very deadly (I know less than nothing about firearms.), but at the same time, I guess they're taking shopping terrorists very seriously. I know that I wouldn't think of trying to get by with anything.

That night we settled into the hotel and did some laundry. (I guess that I should tell you about our luggage. We each took a carry-on size bag and that was it. Well, I did take a tote bag for my knitting and books and M&Ms and almonds and whatever else I could cram in. We limited what we packed because we knew we'd be dragging those bags all over Europe, and I don't do heavy or bulky. {{{insert photos here}}}I bought coordinating light-weight wash-and-dry pieces of clothing, all black or tan, with a couple of bright shirts. It was great. Upside: Everything that we washed dried by morning and we always had clean clothes. Downside: We had to do laundry by hand every couple of nights.) Afterwards we went out for a long walk, I took lots of photos, and we found a restaurant around 10 p.m.--and it was still light! I love Europe in the summer!

After midnight we settled in for the night. The three nearby (as in right under our room) bars were all wound up and there was loud music and talking, but who cared. We were in PARIS!

P.S. Here are the gratuitous dog photos.

Yorkies are cute no matter what language they understand.

Friday, September 22, 2006

European Vacation: End of Day 1

So we got back to Frankfurt and waited around for our train to Paris. It left very late, around midnight, I think. We walked around outside and inside the station. There was a little beirgarten right outside, so we tried the beer. It was very expensive and I didn't think it was that good.

Inside that station is practically a mall. Lots of produce stands, sandwich stands, drink stands, a tiny grocery store, a Burger King (or was that in Munich? Yeah, that was Munich.) (The stations were pretty much the same all over Europe, a lot nicer than what I've seen in the US.) We bought sandwiches, a salad, something to drink. The prices were good and the food was good. The food court had real food. We would find this to be true everywhere we went.

We walked around for a while after we ate, then I paid €.70 to use the station's bathroom. That's equal to about $1, and it was worth it. They're different from the pay toilets in the US. You put the coins into the stile which then opens for 15 seconds, allowing one person to go in. The bathrooms were clean but still a little smelly, but.... Any port in a storm!

After waiting a while longer, this time sitting on a bench between two tracks, the train finally pulled in. By that time we were more than ready for a nice long nap.

We took an overnight train from Frankfurt to Paris. We planned to do this as often as possible to save money on hotels. Turns out that the only way that would happen is if we just slept in our seats, as we did this night. It didn't take more than a few minutes to realize that sleeping sitting up just wasn't going to cut it.

We did as Rick Steves, the travel book writer, suggested: Get into the compartment early (did you see the movie "Trading Places" with Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy? The train compartments are just like the one in that movie, six seats, three facing forward and three backward.), pull the seats forward (the seats could be pulled out to "recline" just a little, but not enough to be comfortable), and pretend to be asleep. We tried. We pulled the curtains and turned off the light. But still, a young man came in and got comfortable. Unfortunately he had a reservation for that compartment, as we did. So, a little grudgingly, we moved our luggage and made room for him.

We figured we might as well be pleasant since we'd be together till around 7 the next morning, so we asked him where he was from. We were floored when he said James Madison University, which is in the city I'd lived in for most of the last 16 years and where I still work. What are the odds of that? Anyone? He was working in Germany for the summer and wanted to go to Paris for Bastille Day. We'd hoped to miss Bastille Day because of the crowds, but our Paris tour (a Da Vinci Code tour) only operated on Fridays and Wednesdays, and we hoped to be in the south of France by Wednesday.

After a few minutes we all settled down and tried to get comfortable, which was pretty much impossible. But we were really tired, so we slept. Fitfully.

Which didn't help my disposition any.


It took three long posts to tell about one day of our vacation.

This may take a while.

9/25/06--I just realized that I have two more posts describing the rest of this first day. It's worse than I thought.

P.S. There's only one more post for the first day. Whew!

Dinner in Bonn

How cool. How often can I say "dinner in Bonn"? (Not often enough, in my opinion.)
We were hungry by the time we got back to Bonn.

(Bonn train/metro station exit)

Tom had been looking forward to a good German meal; he lived in Germany (Berlin) for a couple of years as a teenager. We walked through the area surrounding the train station, and found a likely-looking place to eat. While Tom waited for the food, I walked around the pedestrian plaza. At the end was a huge old church with this fountain in front.

The meal was delicious. I can't remember what Tom ordered, but mine was so pretty that I took a picture of it. It was a baked Brie sandwich.

After lunch we walked back to the train station, which opened into the pedestrian area. There were market stalls, including one with so many gorgeous flowers.

The prices were reasonable. If only I'd bought those collapsible flower vases in the TravelSmith catalog.

On the way back to the station, I saw dogs.
This will be a recurring theme. Whenever I see dogs, I have to take photos of them. There will be many. Sorry, but it's in my contract. Feel free to skip ahead.

By this time we'd been on the go for eight hours and were suffering from jet lag. We headed back to Frankfurt to catch the night train to Paris.

P. S. The beer was tasty, too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Last day of summer???

Yesterday was September 20 and it was chilly. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, but it was chilly. We had frost toward the end of May, so the growing season has been short enough, and this morning the temp was in the low 40s.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Note to Betty and Joan:

Europe has an unusually high gravity index. Just like Washington, DC.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Happy Feet

Okay, we're somewhere on the outskirts of Bonn, our first day in Europe. Europe! No wonder I got so crabby; I was constantly pinching myself to see if it was real.

We walked across the bridge, said goodbye to our escort, and continued on our way. It was hot, and we hadn't learned yet that it was a good idea to always carry water with us. (Everything that we'd read had led us to believe that northern Europe was usually cooler than Virginia is in July, but what luck we had, it was unusually hot the entire time we were there.) I didn't think we'd ever reach the Birkenstock outlet. There weren't many businesses in that area, mostly warehouses, but after walking for several hours (20 minutes, but time is different in Germany) we saw a sign for "Birko Orthopadie". Since there was nothing else in sight that looked remotely connected with Birkenstocks, I suggested that we go inside and ask for directions. The building was nothing like I'd expect for a world-famous corporation.

Inside we found an office that was a little more promising; there were Birkenstock catologs and footbeds on the counter. A couple of people wandered by, I asked for directions, and they pointed out the outlet: Right. Across. The. Street. Ohhhhhhhhh. But they were very nice about it and even seemed a tiny bit amused impressed that we'd come so far to find it.

To be honest, we had to go through a clothing outlet store to get to the Birkenstock store. For all I know there could have been a whole outlet mall there and we just came upon it from the wrong direction, but once I got Birk in my sights, there was no diversion. We walked in and saw this

and this

and this.

(A little background: I discovered Birkenstocks about 12 years ago in Key West. I bought my first pair and was hooked. Never before had shoes felt so right, so comfortable, or so expensive. They are worth every penny they cost. Imagine walking on cushions of memory foam. Yeah, they're that comfortable.)

So anyway, I was practically hyperventilating at the sight of this huge room full of racks of Birkenstocks. Every size, shape, and color of Birks, arranged by size. When one pair was removed, a clerk appeared to replace it, so the racks were always full. It was totally overwhelming amazing.

Tom was thrilled, as you can imagine. He found a chair and got comfortable.

After longing to visit the outlet for so long, I wasn't going to rush through the experience. First I took a few photos (I tend to spend too much time looking through the lens rather than actually soaking up my surroundings), then I just walked through the room, taking in the styles and colors and trying to realize that I was actually there. Then I grabbed 8 or 10 pairs of assorted styles to try on. They had a pair of Footprints (a line of Birkenstock shoes--as opposed to sandals) that I've been dying to have, but since they're about $200 in the US I hadn't bought any, and Birk stores are few and far between in my area. They were around $80 at the outlet, so I was really excited. Tried them on, and they just didn't feel right. Huh. I tried another size and they still weren't right, so that dream died right then and there.

I didn't care; there were hundreds of other shoes to try on.

I systematically (more or less) (okay, less) went through the ones that I liked and tried them on. I'll take these, nope, let's try another style, gotta have these, etc. After some agonizing decision-making, I ended up with 10 pairs for the two of us to haul around Europe.

The prices were great. Leather sandals run about $95 here in the US; they were maybe $60 at the outlet. (Okay, I can get brand-new ones on ebay for about the same price, but I can't try them on first.) (But, for future reference, we wouldn't have to cart them around, either.) I spent a total of $325 for 10 pairs of Birks. Only two pairs were leather, but that's still an excellent price for that many pairs. Four of them were two pairs for about $30, unheard of even for fake leather, even on ebay.

Three of the ten pairs were for 3 of my grandchildren. Kids' Birks are so cute but so expensive to put on rapidly-growing feet. My youngest grandson has very wide feet and is hard to fit, so I bought him a pair of leather lace-up shoes that were too big for now, but they looked wide enough that they'll eventually fit. My two granddaughters got cute red sandals. I didn't get any for my oldest grandson; I didn't think he'd particularly like any of them.

Far too quickly (for me, anyway; Tom had fallen asleep), my quest shopping was done. I handed over my debit card, paid for the shoes, took the huge bag and we started the long trek back to the train station.

It felt like the trip back to the train station was a whole lot longer when carrying a big bag of shoes. Bless Tom, he carried them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

On our first day in Europe, my true love

put up with my quest to find the Birkenstock factory outlet store near Bonn, Germany. It was about a day's journey out of our way. We got into Frankfurt around 8 a.m. on July 13, having left Detroit around 6 p.m. the night before. Fortunately we both slept on the flight over.

All I knew was that, somewhere in or near Bonn, there is a Birkenstock outlet store. I couldn't find an address for it although I'd googled over and over trying to find it. A couple of days before we left I finally found the address for Birkenstock's office in Bonn, so we stopped at a tourist info place in the airport and got directions to the place. It involved taking a (nice) train to Cologne, then another to Bonn, then a tram-type train as far as it went.

We got off a couple of exits too early and had no idea where we were or where to go. We asked some elderly ladies who were waiting for the bus, but they hadn't heard of it. (Not heard of Birkenstocks? They live in Germany for heaven's sake! That's like not knowing Nike or something like that over here.)

Just as I was trying to adjust to the idea that our vacation wasn't going to include a trip to Mecca, a tiny old lady spoke up and said that she knew where it was and told us to get back on the train, she was going to show us how to get there. We followed her to the train, got on, and rode to the end of the line. She then started walking, talking about how she'd moved back to Bonn after living in Berlin for 50 years with her husband. He had died ten years before and she'd moved back home.

We had to hustle to keep up with her as we crossed a bridge and reached a crossroad. She pointed the way we needed to go ("about 15-20 minutes"), said goodbye, and went on her way.

I wish I'd taken her picture and remembered her name. She was our introduction to Europe, and she made us feel almost like we were at home.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ahhhh, Munich!

There was this great little Birkenstock store just a short walk from our hotel........


Trillian wrote that she'd like to knit socks but is concerned about the heels and toes.

If I can do them, anyone can. Really.

This is the pair I'm currently knitting:

Isn't that great yarn? I bought it in Munich in this little shop near the Marienplatz, I think it was. Tom found the shop and actually showed it to me. In case you don't know me that well, I'm notorious for buying huge quantities of yarn and just waiting till the right pattern comes along. Tom thinks I have enough to last me the rest of my life, or at least a few years' worth, which is true. BUT. Good yarn is hard for me to pass up. I'd planned to spend all my Europe money on yarn and Birkenstocks, but this was the only yarn shop we found. Turns out this yarn was made in Italy but has a German label on it. Wish I'd been able (or at least tried) to find a yarn shop in Italy. (Birkenstocks are another matter and deserve an entire post to themselves.)

This is part wool, part cotton, and part nylon. Maybe something else is thrown in; I don't remember. But it knits up so beautifully and it cost about 1/3 less than it does in the US. I bought three balls of it, enough for 3 pairs of socks (for me!!!) and lots left for baby socks and hats. I'd love to have enough of it to knit a top with it.

Those tiny needles are size 1 circulars (Addi Turbos, the best needle ever made, in my opinion), 12" long, and I use them for the straightforward parts of the socks (legs and feet). I switch to long circs (at least 40" long) for the heels and toes, just for the decreases. I find it's so much easier for me to knit with the circulars than with double point needles (dpns, for those of us who are knitting-impaired). I couldn't figure it out for myself, but a knitter at one of the yarn shops in town showed me how. I went home and still couldn't do it, but after googling it and looking at photos, I was able to figure it out and off I went.

(We're fortunate enough to have three yarn stores in this small city. Up until a year ago there weren't any, just Walmart and Michael's, but now we have three. They each focus on different yarns so they complement each other instead of competing.)

I can point you to websites that show how to knit with circs. It's so much easier to manage one circ than four dpns. There's a way to knit two socks at once with two pairs of long circs, but I haven't been able to manage it yet. I haven't really tried because I don't have two of the same size circs.

One of these days, Tom, I've got to buy more circs!

P. S. I finished that sock on the way home and started the second. I do love to knit socks!

Poor Chester

This is Chester. He chose Tom about a year ago. Tom was at work and here comes this tiny kitten that flopped down on Tom's foot. Tom brought him home, and Chester has ruled us ever since.

Chester isn't sure what he is. He's grown up with Zippy and Pookie, my two dogs, and he and Zippy are best friends. They roll and tumble and chase each other around the house.

Chester antagonizes our other two cats. Since he and the dogs moved in, Lily and Beghera live pretty much outside. Lily brings up little treats for us so we can tell her what a good girl she is; she persists in dragging in dead and near-dead flying squirrels, mice, and chipmunks. Once she's praised for her efforts, she's happy and stops howling.

Chester has learned that if he runs for the front door when he first hears her cries, he can slip out and grab the treat before she knows what happened. He takes off into the yard, leaving a bewildered Lily behind. She doesn't seem to mind too much, although she'll take a swipe at him if he gets close enough.

Chester shares Zippy's food and water bowls, but he much prefers his water to be......plentiful. He runs into the bathroom and waits till the toilet is flushed (thank goodness for that!) then jumps up to drink his fill. Sometimes he's too lazy to actually jump up to the seat; then he just sort of slides in, half of his body hanging off the toilet, looking like he's had a rough night.

Poor Chester.

Oh yeah

I nearly forgot. I started this blog to chronicle my adventures in knitting.

I have so many projects in various stages of completion. I love to knit, but I hate hate hate to finish things. Seams drive me crazy.

My passion (right now) is knitting socks. Yesterday, while driving home, Tom (he was driving; even I don't knit while I'm driving) asked me why I knit so many socks. They're 1) easily portable; b) small; iii) and easy. I have the pattern memorized. So it's something I can do without thinking too much or even too much light. I'm planning to try knitting at a movie sometime, see if it's possible. It's very difficult for me to sit still that long in a seat at a theater. I have to have something to do or I go crazy.

I knit in meetings at school (and haven't been reprimanded); I knit on airplanes (thank goodness that even with all the security fuss, knitting needles haven't been banned on planes), in airports, in line, in museums, on trains and buses, waiting for the trains in Harrisonburg to finally move by, and all over Europe and California. I might not get much done at any one time, but even a few minutes calms me.

I suspect that I have a bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder (gee, ya think?), and the repetitive motion and counting of stitches and rows is soothing to me. It keeps me sane (or relatively so). And, at the end of it all, I have something concrete (or yarn) to show for it.

So for now, socks it is.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More plants

We also grow plants from seeds. Duh, you say. I like to try unusual plants. I bring home seeds from Key and Spanish limes from Key West. I pull little bromeliads off my daughter's trees in Orlando. Tom brought back a big bromeliad from Sanibel.

I planted palm seeds that I bought on ebay. I thought they were duds, but after a full year, two sprouted at the end of last summer. This summer another one sprouted. Those are still tiny, tiny things with only one leaf each, but two others are starting to look like actual palms.

One of these days we'll live where we don't have to bring the tropics inside each winter. Only 6 more years till I can retire and move somewhere warm. Of course, if I want Tom to come with me, I might have to wait a few more years.

And I do want him with me.

Tropicality in West Virginia

Tom and I live in the wrong place. We both prefer hot, sunny weather. That kind of weather only consistently occurs in our neck of the woods for about 3 months. Here it is, the middle of September, and it's been chilly and rainy just about the whole month.

We also like to grow tropical plants from seeds and cuttings. As you can imagine, they don't do too well in West Virginia if they're left outside, so we have to lug them inside every fall and back outside as soon as it's warm enough. Our house has plenty of windows but most rooms don't have enough light to keep the plants looking good. Alive, usually, but not well.

So last year, since I was still living in town (where I work), I took my plants to the school's big new greenhouse so they'd have some pampering over the winter. Turns out that they didn't do too much better there than they did at home because whoever was in charge didn't keep a real close eye on the temperature or watering and a bunch of plants barely made it through.

After dragging an 8' banana plant home over the mountain in the back of the truck (destroying most of the leaves in the process), we've decided to just take our chances with leaving them inside the house this winter. I think that the pineapple plants will probaby go back to Tom's friend's greenhouse since they're easier to move around. Last winter he left one pineapple in that greenhouse, and lo and behold, this spring it sprouted a tiny baby pineapple.

We didn't think it would grow enough to ripen, but by golly it has. It's just about ready for harvesting. I'm thinking that a few more pineapple plants will make their way to that greenhouse this fall.